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Before I Say Good-Bye
Before I Say Good-Bye
von Mary Higgins Clark
  Hörkassette

4.0 von 5 Sternen Engrossing plot with a few too many characters, 26. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Before I Say Good-Bye (Hörkassette)
At this point, saying that this is another excellent mystery by Mary Higgins Clark is almost an implied redundancy. Clark is probably the most prolific and consistent mystery writer of this generation, and this book is a solid addition to her body of work.
This is the eighth or ninth book I've read by Mary Higgins Clark and this plot ranks among my favorites by her. Though the killer in this story might be considered a sociopath, I was relieved to find there were no psychopathic mass murderers (ordinarily a staple in her work) in this novel. The story revolves around an explosion on a boat where the four people aboard are missing and presumed dead. Typical of her style, Clark gives just about every character, including the victims themselves, motives for setting the blast. The plot structure is excellent and it keeps the reader guessing until the very end.
There are a number of flaws in the writing however, that detracted from the story. Clark includes so many characters that it is impossible to do much character development and makes the story difficult to follow. Some key suspects are dismissed too early in the novel. The coincidental links between Dan, his son, his mother and Nell were just a bit too far fetched. I read the audio edition of this book and Jan Maxwell gets low marks for her delivery. Her inflection was poor and every sentence sounded about the same.
Despite these defects, the story was still an imaginative and engrossing tale that often had me sitting in my garage unable to tear myself from my car's tape player. I rated it a 7/10. If you like mysteries, you can't go wrong with it.


The Brethren (John Grisham)
The Brethren (John Grisham)
von John Grisham
  Hörkassette

2.0 von 5 Sternen Preposterous plot and characters, 19. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Brethren (John Grisham) (Hörkassette)
John Grisham is no genius of literary style, but usually he knows how to spin a good yarn. Unfortunately, 'The Brethren' is probably his weakest effort to date. The old adage, "Write what you know!" has relevance here. Grisham strayed from his highly successful formula writing about lawyers and trials, into unfamiliar territory. The result was mediocre at best.
Although it is an intriguing story that Grisham tells well, all the characters and major plot elements range from implausible to inconceivable. The three judges as characters are extremely hard to swallow. The idea that three men who devoted their lives to the law would run an extortion scam from their prison cell is simply preposterous. There would be too much cognitive dissonance to overcome. I might believe one, but not three.
The entire election storyline was dubious as well. An unknown single-issue candidate touting only defense comes out of nowhere to blow by all the competition in the primaries? Are we really expected to believe this?
Finally, there is the ending. I'm not going to blow it for you, but suffice it to say it was absurd. There is no way the final resolution would occur in the real world.
Overall, I would have to rate this book about a 4/10. It is hard to enjoy even the best of stories if you are skeptical of almost every premise and character.


Earl Mindell's New Herb Bible
Earl Mindell's New Herb Bible
von Earl Mindell Ph.D.
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 15,80

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5.0 von 5 Sternen An indispensable herb reference, 19. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Earl Mindell's New Herb Bible (Taschenbuch)
With the increasing popularity of herbs, there come an increasing number of questions on what they are and how to use them. This book has most of the answers in an easy to use format. It gives you a description of the most commonly used herbs, their benefits, and guidelines on their use, including recommended dosages. It also gives warnings as to side effects and people who shouldn't take them.
Additionally, it is loaded with remedies for various maladies. I have been very pleased with this as a guide and the advice given here has been very helpful in soothing minor ailments.
The writing style is very straightforward, informative and easy to understand. This is a must-have book for anyone considering taking herbs as a supplement or remedy.


The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray
von Oscar Wilde
  Hörkassette

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A timeless treasure, 29. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Hörkassette)
To my mind, this is one of the best works in all of English literature. Oscar Wilde is a artist who uses the page as his canvas and the written word as his paint. His wit cuts at the human condition like a scalpel with depth and precision. Dorian Gray is his finest work.
This is a Faustian tale of a man who utters an oath offering his soul for the youth portrayed in a painting of him, if only it would age instead of he. He discovers that the wish has been granted, only he gets more than he requested, as the painting shows not only the marks of age, but also the marks upon his soul as he slips into a hedonistic and odious life.
I have read a lot of criticism of this book by modern and especially young readers as being slow and boring. This is much like the criticism of a beer guzzler describing a fine wine. "Forget the bouquet and refined taste, just give me my buzz." This story, and the subtle philosophies contained within, need to be sipped deliberately and relished. There is page after page of astute insight into the paradoxes and ironies of society and the mysteries of being human. To be bored with this is to be insensate to life's depth and meaning.
Many have also criticized the book as espousing hedonism and attacking Victorian society especially at the time it was written. Such critics wrongly assume that Lord Henry is Wilde's mouthpiece for a fatalistic and cynical philosophy. Actually, the exact opposite is true. The cynic is the one being satirized, not society.
Lord Henry uses paradoxical aphorisms to bolster his sardonic view. However, they are specious and self validating arguments that look at the small truths about the world and draw the wrong conclusion. Rather than assume that these eccentricities and foibles are things that we can and should rise above, he draws the conclusion that we should embrace and accept our instinctive weaknesses. He ignores the higher truths and points out instead how the capitulation to our own desires sets us free. Wilde's refutation of this philosophical connivance comes in the person of Dorian Gray.
Dorian was Lord Henry's protégé. He was living the life that Harry espoused (but ironically didn't live himself). And what was the result of Dorian's decadence? He lived a life of torment and self loathing. He agonized over the hideous marks on his soul as catalogued by the portrait with each dastardly deed. Wilde is telling us that this is what such self indulgence and cynicism about life and society brings. His message is that a civilized society, with all its inconsistencies, paradoxes and ironies, is preferable and superior to living like an animal. By smiting Dorian, he is really smiting Lord Henry and everything he advocates. He is making a case for the soul over the body; intellect over instinct.
This is an exquisite and thought provoking treasure that is every bit as relevant now as it was almost a century ago when it was written. I have read it a number of times through the years and I never tire of it. As I have gotten older and more experienced, its truths have become more vivid and resonant. If you've never read it, pick it up and savor it. Don't rush through it for the plot. Ponder it as you read. If you have already read it, put it away and try it again in five or ten years. You may discover new meaning, and much that you missed. That's the beauty of a timeless novel. Its wisdom will wait patiently until you've had time to catch up.


Caesar
Caesar
von Colleen McCullough
  Hörkassette

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5.0 von 5 Sternen McCullough is back in top form, 14. Juni 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Caesar (Hörkassette)
In her fifth installment of the Masters of Rome series, McCullough is back to outstanding form. The previous installment, 'Caesar's Women', was a disappointment compared with the prior three treatments which revolved around Marius and Sulla. While 'Caesar's Women' dallied, giving a lurid and voyeuristic look at Caesar's sexual conquests and political maneuvering, 'Caesar' returns to its more fascinating and exciting roots, focusing once again on the military conquest and senatorial infighting that made the first three books so powerful.
This segment deals with Caesar's military campaign in Gaul, Pompey's attempt to dominate the Senate as the first man in Rome, and finally Caesar's famed crossing of the Rubicon to march on Rome. As always, McCullough, through a combination of meticulous research and gifted storytelling, vividly brings to life a fascinating period of history and those who made it great.
McCullough's treatment of Caesar is far more positive in this installment, showing both his brilliance as a military commander and his acumen in garnering political support. We see how Caesar was able to defeat Pompey and the 'Good Men' of the Senate despite inferior military numbers by enlisting the support of the people of Italia. With this grass root support and through fair treatment and military pardons, he was able to add to his army with each victory as the majority of the conquered soldiers defected to his side.
Unlike many devotees of this series, I am not a history buff, but I love a great story. McCullough is so thorough in her descriptions and potent in her storytelling, that this book will be as enjoyable to the fiction connoisseur as the history enthusiast. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read with one caveat:
Beware! You will get hooked and have to read the whole series.


Timeline: a Novel
Timeline: a Novel
von Michael Crichton
  Hörkassette

2.0 von 5 Sternen Flawed story compounded by improbable characters, 30. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Timeline: a Novel (Hörkassette)
Michael Crichton is usually effective at taking the improbable and making it seem plausible through some far reaching scientific explanation. Not this time. Crichton seems determined to write an dubious medieval story and have it masquerade as science fiction.
Both the science and the history were obviously well researched. The start of the book was excellent, but as time went on it seemed to deteriorate, as if Crichton's mind were suffering from cumulative transcription errors. As it progressed, more and more glaring flaws presented themselves.
There is a fundamental flaw in the explanation of multiversal travel that renders certain events illogical. Gordon explains that this isn't travel through time, but to another parallel universe that exists simultaneous with our own universe. This other universe exists at a different point in time in its own history (specifically the 14th century) and thus, by being transported there, we can view history without time travel. If we accept that premise, we have to assume that this second universe has already cleaved from our own and is on its own timeline. If that were true, nothing one did there would have any effect on our history, yet we have a message from the professor written in this seperate parallel universe arriving as a historical artifact in our universe, not to mention the artifact left by Andre Marek. Either it wasn't explained well, or I missed something, or Crichton just ignored the illogic of it.
Also implausible is the fact that a bunch of geek historian academics and students get thrust into medieval times and are able to stay alive more than 20 minutes in the middle of a battle of rival kingdoms and their knights. Most incredible is how supergeek Andre Marek kills half of Oliver's soldiers single handedly in sword fights.
This all could have been somewhat more believable if our heroes made more frequent use of their superior knowledge of history and science, but Crichton was content to let them slug it out with the locals, giving them only gunpowder incorporation, universal translators and mace as occasional technological advantages.
So while the story itself was engaging, it had too many plot flaws to be up to the standard we expect from Crichton. Worth picking up only after you are current on any other fiction you were thinking of reading.


Truth at Any Cost
Truth at Any Cost
von Susan Schmidt
  Hörkassette

4.0 von 5 Sternen A hard hitting and balanced account, 24. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Truth at Any Cost (Hörkassette)
This is a hard hitting and fascinating look behind the scenes of one of the most sensational investigations in history. Not being particularly partisan myself, I found it to be balanced and equally unflattering to both sides, often in ways not consistent with the news reports.
During the investigation, I never found the Ken Starr described by the media to be consistent with the man I saw giving Congressional testimony. This book presents a more believable picture of the real Ken Starr. I am now convinced that it was not some right wing vendetta, but rather a quixotic quest by a politically naïve, high minded and truth obsessed prosecutor whose idealistic view of the legal system stood in the way of his effectiveness. While Starr may have out-lawyered the Clinton team in the courts, his single-minded and hubristic belief that truth would lead to justice caused many political missteps that handed his opposition all the ammunition they needed to destroy him in the arena of public opinion.... .
This treatment emphasized the OIC perspective far more than that of the White House and in that way I felt it to be an incomplete account. However, that which was included was very insightful and revealing. The OIC was always subject to wild speculation and unsubstantiated attacks because of their inability to speak openly about the investigation. Though I'm sure the prosecutors took the opportunity in their interviews to put their own positive spin on events, this book at least gives their side, and in that way it is a valuable addition to the historical record.
An intriguing book. I definitely recommend it.


Goodnight Moon Board Book 60th Anniversary Edition
Goodnight Moon Board Book 60th Anniversary Edition
von Margaret Wise Brown
  Pappbilderbuch
Preis: EUR 6,70

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A classic that no child should be without, 16. Mai 2000
This is my two year old son's favorite book next to 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. It is a sweet little rhyming poem that he is now starting to say along with me. When he was younger, he would just point to things when I would say them. Later as he learned to speak, he began to identify them and call out their names. Now as I read, he finishes the sentences.
This book is simple and elegant. I never tire of reading it to him, nor does he run out of enthusiasm for it. Long after he forgets this book, I'll remember the joy on his face as I read him 'Goodnight Moon'.


To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System
To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System
von Linda T. Kohn
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 31,41

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Everyone should read this book, 16. Mai 2000
This eye opening book exposes the dangers of the medical health care system in the United States. Tens of thousands of people die and are injured every year due to doctors' errors, administrative foul ups, misdiagnoses, and incorrect prescriptions. The book gives general solutions for the system as a whole and advice to the individual to help you protect yourself when you are being treated by a doctor or hospital.
My spouse is a Medical Malpractice attorney and you would not believe the frequency of tragic and catastophic errors made by health care providers that change and end people's lives unnecessarily. It can happen to anyone without warning. Protect yourself and purchase this book today for a no nonsense look at the system you may one day depend on to save your life.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar: miniature edition (Mini Ausgabe)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: miniature edition (Mini Ausgabe)
von Eric Carle
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 4,10

5.0 von 5 Sternen My son's favorite book, 16. Mai 2000
This has been my two year old son's favorite book for about the last six months. He wants me to read it again and again. He is now learning to count and with each of the fruits he counts them out loud...1,2,3,4,5 oranges. And he always gets excited when we come to the part about the butterfly!
This is a must-have for kids one to three years old.


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