Books: NonFiction

book review | Gifts of the Crow by John M. Marzluff, Tony Angell

gifts of the crow john marzluff tony angel corvidAuthor: John M. Marzluff, Tony Angell
Title: Gifts of the Crow
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Science Literature
Pages: 304
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Gifts of the Crow” by John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell is full of real, wonderful stories of corvid family birds, and a study of their thought processes, biology behind it. The latter I didn’t fully grasp, but it didn’t take away anything from the book.

About the Book: The book tells an in-depth story of corvids (crows, ravens, etc.), and what fantastical birds they are, able of learning, recognizing, remembering events. From there they can make proper judgement calls and react accordingly. From throwing nuts on the road for cars to crush, to waiting for the traffic to stop so they could feast. From working together to trick a bigger animal into abandoning food, to sharing the bounty. From offering a bartering gift to a human, be it a little found item or just outright company, when in need of human aid, to a thank-you gift once this aid has been provided.

My Opinion: What’s safe for them to eat? Can I just carry around a ziplock bag with some kibble in attempts to make friends with these magical birds? The book is superbly interesting, and the science part, if you don’t get it the way I don’t, will not interfere with anything, nor take anything away.

I can’t recommend this book enough. A firm 5 out of 5, well earned.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Science Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Dopesick by Beth Macy

dopesick beth macyAuthor: Beth Macy
Title: Dopesick
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Science
Pages: 384
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Dopesick” by Beth Macy is dark, strong, and very scary. Mostly because that the tale it tells is true, happening today and will happen tomorrow.

About the Book: Mind ruled by opium is mind not your own, and yet… How are you supposed to live in reality, when you saw life, world, at its very best? Starting with Soldier’s Disease, to whom opium was given for obvious reasons, later in form of heroin, from where the title of the drug originates. Continuing with pharma pushing medicine and claiming its not addictive, doctors who over-prescribed them, and people who believed these greed embodiments have their best interest at hand. And ending with a system meant to keep you, and never let you go. User, abuser, gets arrested, gets no treatment, then is thrown out with no means to get apartment or food stamps, with very vague possibilities of job… They go back to dealer, ask for a favor, resell some, pay back, use up some to not see this darkness a failed system put them in. They get arrested, get no treatment, and the cycle continues until, usually, young death.

My Opinion: It’s scary to read of a mother who cared for household and kids like a superhero. Who needed a simple surgery, and got oxyContin prescribed for the pain. It’s scary how fast her life becomes a slope going down at terrifying speed. Scary how systematic racism ties into this too. The book is strongly written, it’s very clear, and will scare off many, I hope.

Read it. Give it to your kids to read it too. 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Science Books, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Master Thieves by Stephen Kurkjian | true crime

master thieves boston gangsters stephen kurkjian art heist bookAuthor: Stephen Kurkjian
Title: Master Thieves
Series: –
Genre: True Crime; Heist
Pages: 272
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I had to brush the dust off “Master Thieves” by Stephen Kurkjian, that’s how long it sat in my TBR pile.

About the Book: In 1990 thirteen pieces of artwork have been stolen from a low security Boston museum. And to this day the case remains open, with even the Boston gangsters trying to help out. For the heist was so perfect, covering every loose end so well, that the art remains missing, and the case remains unsolved.

My Opinion: The book is not very interesting to read, and I dare say its due to a tad dry-ish writing style, because its good for what it is. Well paced, with plenty of details, and on interesting topic. Doesn’t get you invested though.

It’s worth the while if you like books about heists. A 4 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, heists, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

book review | White Rage by Caron Anderson

the unspken truth of racial divide white rage carol andersonAuthor: Carol Anderson
Title: White Rage
Series: –
Genre: History; Nonfiction
Pages: 256
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

In the face of what’s happening in the world right now, the best we can do is listen and learn. So I picked up “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson. It shines light and gives better perspective on USA history, and what brought the whole world (thankfully) to this point.

About the Book: The book begins with the earliest history of America, which is fairly recent in comparison. It tells a surreal sounding tale of systematic racism, undercutting, and this constant mix of rage and despair, fear and loathing. And then, after listening to the atrocities that end with president Obama, you hear what sounds like a prophecy: mayors, governors, fear what will happen when yet another innocent black man is shot on the street.

My Opinion: The book didn’t get that far, it was released before the proverbial camel’s back broke, but that should only help you think. In a world where people refuse to listen and outright mocks the plea of the people just like them, merely because their system is made so its more convenient to do so – is violence then not the only language one can’t ignore? First pride “parade” was a violent riot too. So if we could just listen to people, people like Carol Anderson, maybe we’d not reach another point in our history again, where human beings have to throw rocks to be heard. This is a superbly written book, with a very kind author providing information to cover every corner in a tight, condensed manner, that leads you to very clear vision of why we’re here today.

It’s a great book, and I hope everyone reads it, and many more too. A strong 5 out of 5 from me.

america is stolen land built by people who were stolen from their land

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Club King by Peter Gatien

The Club King Peter Gatien Rise Reign Fall new york nightlifeAuthor: Peter Gatien
Title: The Club King
Series: –
Genre: Memoir; Nonfiction
Pages: 246
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I love biographies of club owners who made it before 2000s. It’s always interesting to peek behind the curtain of scripted danger and/or curated freedom. “The Club King: My Rise, Reign and Fall in New York Nightlife” by Peter Gatien is one of the better examples of such memoirs.

About the Book: Poor childhood, an accident that left the boy without an eye, and a personality he built out of this all. A well defined path, with clear cut offs around what’s “not for him“. This lead to the mysterious club owner with an eye patch, a series of well known club names, firm hand on the nightlife, and dizzying heights that came with it. Peter Gatien helped shape the nightlife as we know it.

My Opinion: Author has a very interesting personality. Had he not reigned himself in when he had to, the tale would’ve been short and sad. Had he not cared for the people who worked for him as much as he did – possibly same would’ve happened too. Instead, he built visions, took calculated risks, and boldly marched ahead of the trends, setting them in stone for all I know, seeing how the last glimpses of clubs he described sounds so familiar still. It’s a great book of what smart determination can bring you, and just how much work it takes outside of “dreaming big”, if nothing else.

A great book. Firm 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Bullets and Opium by Liao Yiwu

bullets and opium real life stories of china after tiananmen square massacre liao yiwuAuthor: Liao Yiwu
Title: Bullets and Opium
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; History
Pages: 320
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I’ve no memory where, how, or even why I got “Bullets and Opium” by Liao Yiwu. But since I’m determined to make a dent in my TBR shelf, I’ve read it. It’s a very strong and scary book.

About the Book: Tiananmen Square Massacre survivors share their gruesome stories of protests, fight against communist regime in China, the people’s plea for democracy in a country where wrong thoughts against the government is a punishable crime. And these folk, these writers, poets, journalists, all stood and spoke those thoughts out loud, demanding freedom, begging the military for mercy, reconsideration. Appealing to their sense of humanity and honor, for what will happen to them, their memory, when they remain on the evil side of the history? It sounds like a far away history, stuff that happened thirty years ago that left these people maimed for life mentally, physically. But even today they can’t return home, for the battle isn’t over.

My Opinion: Those of us who live in the countries that were under the Soviet regime will find these stories painfully familiar. We grew up with them, from our parents, from our grandparents, in our history books, in our low budget beautiful old movies. Dehumanizing acts against people who merely spoke up. Brutal behavior, nightmarish conditions, grueling work that killed many, maimed for life even more. And the tale isn’t over, with most of the world not being aware of it.

It’s a very tough book, but for the sake of the names in it, it’s a very worthy read. A 5 out of 5, for nothing else is in my power, but a review and hopefully – a few more readers.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

charlie leduff detroit an american autopsy we are aliveAuthor: Charlie LeDuff
Title: Detroit: An American Autopsy
Series: –
Genre: History; Memoir
Pages: 304
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Digging into my nonfiction folder I’ve discovered “Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff. And it’s a very fine memoir.

About the Book: This is a memoir of a journalist and his city. Passionate, angry, full of determined home. Hope that something can be done, and determination to do all he can, as a journalist, knocking on all the doors, ringing all the damned bells, to reach someone, anyone, to help the living people in Detroit. A city where fires never cease for arson is cheaper than a movie. Where people rarely call the cops, and cops, in return, rarely come.

My Opinion: I know nothing of the Detroit as it is today, but if even half the good people described in this book got to something, I’m sure it’s a beautiful place to be. Author describes the crimes, the life, life and death in Detroit, the constant fires, and unreported bodies. And the good people within that do everything they can, people who don’t take life for granted, and try their best to get the most from it not just for themselves, but their family, their neighbor. You can feel the beating heart in these dark stories.

It’s a very fine piece. Probably not for everyone, but I can give a solid 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Historical Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | A Confession by Leo Tolstoy

leo tolstoy a confessionAuthor: Leo Tolstoy
Title: A Confession
Series: –
Genre: Philosophy; Classics
Pages: 108
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Figured, it’s not a bad time to tidy up those book shelves, and sort them out and away after this whole nasty shebang is over. As a result, I kinda need to read at least some of them. So I began with the shortest one there was, “A Confession” by Leo Tolstoy. How he had faith, lost it, sought it, and found it again.

About the Book: In this short biographical work of philosophy author describes his life nuances that one way or another steered him away from faith. How it affected and even eroded his life, what were the consequences of that, and how he sought after the meaning of life via this prism of faithlessness or godlessness, however you want to call it. He found answers through very deep digging and process of elimination, and, depending on how you view this book, they’re interesting.

My Opinion: I am not religious, at all. But this book, as I said, depending on how you view it, can be very good. Basically, Leo Tolstoy lost the meaning of life and went out to find it again. On his way, deducting answers that didn’t fit the bigger picture, he managed to find a path: life can only be defined around one self, for only your life is in your hands in such a sense that you can only be responsible for your own actions and choices. Taking this in, the answer to the age old question “why ware we here?” becomes clearer: because we are, they say. We are, because we are. So if we indeed are just because, and our life can only be defined around ourselves, does that not clearly point to what’s the meaning of life, after all? If you are just to be, and your being is defined by you, then your meaning of life is… Whatever you make it to be.

It’s a pleasant thought, and a nice short read to that. A 4 out of 5; though I think I need a new scale or system when rating biographies or otherwise biographical works.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Philosophy, Self | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | The Secret Lives of Planets by Paul Murdin

secret lives of planets paul murdinAuthor: Paul Murdin
Title: The Secret Lives of Planets
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Science
Pages: 288
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. And so I knew all the planets on the Solar System, and lots of facts about them. Alongside dinosaur names. That’s likely why “The Secret Lives of Planets” by Paul Murdin amused me so. A fun little book.

About the Book: Author introduces us to planets like we’re all just having afternoon tea. Telling us their names, name origins, who, how, and when discovered them. What’s their path across our sky and around the sun. What could they be made out of, what we know, and what we can speculate. Each fact, even the driest one, was presented in a kind, almost telltale style, easy to read and absorb.

My Opinion: Author has a great writing style. I appreciated the light humor, facts and side-facts. Nothing felt dry, nothing was boring. In fact, it painted a beautiful mental image of each planet, making me appreciate the sunlight pouring in through the windows, away from the cold, ice, and distant parent star.

This was definitely my cup of tea. A 5 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Science Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Call me God by Jim Clemente

call me god jim clementeAuthor: Jim Clemente, Tim Clemente, Peter McDonnell
Title: Call Me God: The Untold Story of DC Sniper Investigation
Series: –
Genre: True Crime, Nonfiction
Pages: 7.4 h
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

As recommendations go, “Call me God” by Jim Clemente was a very fair one. Got to rest from all the sci-fi and learned more of god complex.

About the Book: First of its kind, a duo team of snipers is terrorizing United States, and so soon after the 9/11 attacks. Snipers usually work alone, taking life from afar, unseen, almighty. People are getting shot at random, panic and misinformation spreads like wildfire. No one is safe anymore. And how does one catch someone who thinks himself god, who rules masses with a pull of a trigger?

My Opinion: I generally like true crime, but it’s always hard for me to enjoy tales of murderers and killers. A life should never be cheaper than own ego, and most of them, this one (or two) included, are fools. Like children who didn’t get to do whatever the hell they wanted, they take a tantrum to a whole new level. How does one think self so very right, that one never stops to think of the actions being committed? What a base beast one must be…

In general, the book is written and told well. It’s just not my cup of tea. 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, murder, serial killers, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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