Friday, December 25, 2015

[Book] The Mountain of Fame

I am amused at the plus one this received, despite my initial place holder publishing the article.  Still, it humbles me to realize some of you had read this despite the total lack of content.  I guess my previous reviews were of some note.

Short: This book  is an amazing short but comprehensive history of China.

Medium: The book works primarily through biographies of individuals who live at key points in China's history, starting in the almost mythological past, and going up to the Tienamin Massacre.  It is fairly tone neutral but at the same time does not hesitate to make judgement when obvious that it adds weight and substance to the history presented.

Verbose: This is an excellent book.  It is said in 1984 and now elsewhere that those who wish to control the future control the past.  If knowledge is power, then controlling the past can be better accomplished through understanding it, and if there is any country on earth affected by its Past, that would be China.  I gained vast insights into their current behavior, including the important of identity in terms of nationality (Taiwan) as well as their obsession over the seemingly harmless Fu Lon Gong.  The current government may have its flaws, but they have clearly learned (some) lessons of the past and are determined not to have them happen again.

Still, the more interesting sections of the book are comparing the vibrant eras of their past, with the eras that led to decline. Some things apply to any culture, especially our own; though some most definitely do not.  What fascinates me is what I see of the echoes of the Beuaracacy and how it still haunts in some elements of the Communist Party today, though I make as few assumptions as I can in that vein.

I knew a lot about China before I read this book because I read a lot of news.  What I learned in this book after the fact forced me to go back and look at a lot of recent events in a whole new light.  I would highly recommend reading it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

[Audiobook] Taming Shadows by Fiona Skye

I loved it.

Edited version.  I got this for free and promised a review of it.  I have already reviewed the book.  And I had high praise for it.  Listening to it the second time around got me a lot more insight into Riley and a lot of the careful insight Fiona has put into the setting and the characters.  The narrator has a good capture for the sound of the character and a good vocal range, and is quite pleasing at a neutral tone.  She's an easy read, but she did the entire narration in a boston accent and I didn't immediately get it.

The bostonian accent threw me for a loop but I had forgotten her close family ties to Massachusetts.  Those family ties go back to the Summer Queen.  Those ties are, I believe, deeper than immediately let on, and key to Riley's history.  In short, what seems like a fun and quick urban fantasy read is actually an interlocking series of clockwork deeply involved and a serious contribution to the genre.  Each of the characters feels like a well drawn person, and is worthy of exploration.

PJ Morgan is very talented.  She has done a lot of other books including "How to Be a Man", "1Night Stand" and "The Muse" but judging by their blurbs it explains why she is so good a fit to read for Riley in these books.  She will be an excellent fit for the other two books in the trilogy.

In short, if you have read the book, listen to the audio book.  If you have listened to the audio book, read the book.  Taming Shadows is definitely worth your time.  I will now be listening to the second book in the series,"Silver Shackles."