Elentarri's Book Blog

Book reviews and other interesting goodies.

Ohhh Look!

I can actually get the Dashboard to show up!!!!

 

AFTER +/-6 MONTHS OF A BLANK WHITE PAGE

Plague of War by Jennifer Tolbert Roberts

The Plague of War  - Jennifer T. Roberts

TITLE:  Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece

 

AUTHOR:  Jennifer Tolbert Roberts

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  2019

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780190940881

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DESCRIPTION:

"In 431 BC, the long simmering rivalry between the city-states of Athens and Sparta erupted into open warfare, and for more than a generation the two were locked in a life-and-death struggle. The war embroiled the entire Greek world, provoking years of butchery previously unparalleled in ancient Greece. Whole cities were exterminated, their men killed, their women and children enslaved. While the war is commonly believed to have ended with the capture of the Athenian navy in 405 and the subsequent starvation of Athens, fighting in Greece would continue for several decades. Sparta's authority was challenged in the so-called Corinthian War (395-387) when Persian gold helped unite Athens with Sparta's former allies. The war did not truly end until, in 371, Thebes' crack infantry resoundingly defeated Sparta at Leuctra, forever shattering the myth of Spartan military supremacy.

Jennifer Roberts' rich narrative of this famous conflict is the first general history to tell the whole story, from the war's origins down to Sparta's defeat at Leuctra. In her masterful account, this long and bloody war affected every area of life in Athens, exacerbated divisions between rich and poor in Sparta, and sparked civil strife throughout the Greek world. Yet despite the biting sorrows the fighting occasioned, it remains a gripping saga of plots and counter-plots, murders and lies, thrilling sea chases and desperate overland marches, missed opportunities and last-minute reprieves, and, as the war's first historian Thucydides had hoped, lessons for a less bellicose future. In addition, Roberts considers the impact of the war on Greece's cultural life, including the great masterworks of tragedy and comedy performed at this time and, most infamously, the trial and execution of Socrates. A fast-paced narrative of one of antiquity's most famous clashes, The Plague of War is a must-read for history enthusiasts of all ages.
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REVIEW:

 

This is an interesting and fairly comprehensive narrative of the Peloponnesian War, including not only battle tactics and politics, but also what was happening socially at the time.

SPOILER ALERT!

The Titanium Rib by Alain Gunn

"The Titanium Rib" is a fascinating account of how dedicated surgeons, Dr. Melvin Smith and Dr. Robert Campbell, invented a surgical implant to save the lives of small children who would otherwise have suffocated to death due to chest deformities including missing or malformed ribs. An added bonus to the new device is it's aid in straightening out spinal curvature. This book also covers their 17 year struggle to obtain FDA approval for the implant, as well as the search for a manufacturer. Alian Gunn has written an interesting and informative book, which is accompanied by a section of illustrations and photographs.

When the Dogs Don't Bark by Angela Gallop

When the Dogs Don't Bark: A Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth  - Angela Gallop This book is more of a memoir than a technical discussion of forensic science. Angela Gallop discusses her 40 year career as a forensic scientist, providing a basic outline of several of her most memorable cases, along with the history and development of forensic sciences within the UK, as well as the importance of forensics in criminal justice. Interesting and informative, but a bit bland.

Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens by Robin Waterfield

Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens: A History of Ancient Greece  - Robin A.H. Waterfield

A nicely written, easy to understand if somewhat bland, introductory history book about Ancient Greece.  The author covers the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Eras of Greek history in more or less even spacing, with chapters devoted to thematic topics like the economy and social stratification.  Maps and photographs are included.

OTHER BOOK:
Ancient Greece:  From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times by Thomas R. Martin.

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Bone Houses - Emily Lloyd-Jones

A beautifully written, YA novel involving a cute zombie goat!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library  - Matt Haig

Beautifully written and a lovely, innovative concept.

Ancient High Tech by Frank Joseph

Ancient High Tech: The Astonishing Scientific Achievements of Early Civilizations  - Frank Joseph Interesting and informative. The book contained information I hadn't come across before.

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski

The Wood - Chelsea Bobulski

TITLE:  The Wood

 

AUTHOR:  Chelsea Bobulski 

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DESCRIPTION:

"When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can't help but think there's more to her dad's disappearance than she's being told.

She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.

The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost in it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.
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REVIEW:

 

An entertaining, original YA novel.  Beautiful writing.

 

Dinosaurs Rediscovered by Michael J. Benton

Dinosaurs Rediscovered - Michael J. Benton

TITLE:  Dinosaurs Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution in Paleontology

 

AUTHOR:  Michael J. Benton

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2020

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780500295533

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DESCRIPTION:

"Over the past twenty years, the study of dinosaurs has transformed into a true scientific discipline. New technologies have revealed secrets locked in prehistoric bones that no one could have previously predicted. We can now work out the color of dinosaurs, the force of their bite, their top speeds, and even how they cared for their young.

Remarkable new fossil discoveries—giant sauropod dinosaur skeletons in Patagonia, dinosaurs with feathers in China, and a tiny dinosaur tail in Burmese amber—remain the lifeblood of modern paleobiology. Thanks to advances in technologies and methods, however, there has been a recent revolution in the scope of new information gleaned from such fossil finds.

In Dinosaurs Rediscovered, leading paleontologist Michael J. Benton gathers together all of the latest paleontological evidence, tracing the transformation of dinosaur study from its roots in antiquated natural history to an indisputably scientific field. Among other things, this book explores how dinosaur remains are found and excavated, and how paleontologists read the details of dinosaurs’ lives from their fossils—their colors, their growth, and even whether we will ever be able to bring them back to life. Benton’s account shows that, though extinct, dinosaurs are still very much a part of our world.
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REVIEW:

 

This isn't just a book filled with dinosaur facts, this is a book that explains how scientists know what they know (or hypothesis) about dinosaurs.  Each fascinating chapter covers a particular theme rather than following a chronological progression as most dinosaur books do.  So we have chapters on how scientists figured out the origin of dinosaurs and their evolutionary tree, a chapter on fossil excavations, chapters on anatomy and physiology, movement, feeding habits and growth, feathers, probability of a Jurassic Park scenario and the extinction event.  Michael J. Benton has a delightful writing style that is clear and easy to understand, with interesting (and short) anecdotes and numerous illustrations, colour plates and diagrams.  This is a lovely, up-to-date book about the science of dinosaurs.

 

Halloween Squirrel

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass - Jim Butcher

Entertaining!

The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature - Steven Pinker

Interesting

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SPOILER ALERT!

Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien

Unfinished Tales - J.R.R. Tolkien

TITLE:  Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth

 

AUTHOR:  J.R.R. Tolkien

 

EDITOR:  Christopher Tolkien

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DESCRIPTION:

 "Unfinished Tales is a collection of narratives ranging in time from the Elder Days of Middle-earth to the end of the War of the Ring, and provides those who have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with a whole collection of background and new stories.

The book concentrates on the realm of Middle-earth and comprises such elements as The Quest of Erebor, Gandalf’s lively account of how it was that he came to send the Dwarves to the celebrated party at Bag-End; the emergence of the sea-god Ulmo before the eyes of Tuor on the coast of Beleriand; and an exact description of the military organization of the Riders of Rohan.

Unfinished Tales also contains the only story about the long ages of Númenor before its downfall, and all that is known about such matters as the Five Wizards, the Palantíri and the legend of Amroth. The tales were edited by Christopher Tolkien, who provides a short commentary on each story, helping the reader to fill in the gaps and put each story into the context of the rest of his father’s writings."

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REVIEW:

 

<!--block-->********************POSSIBLE SPOILERS**********************


Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth is exactly that - a collection of tales from Tolkien's Middle-earth universe that didn't make it into the Silmarillion, the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings.  The book is split into the First, Second and Third Ages, and miscellaneous sundry material.

We have a more fleshed out narrative of Tuor's journey to find Gondolin, and the trials of Turin son of Hurin in the First Age, followed by a geography and history lesson on Numenor (Tolkien's version of Atlantis) and the tragic love story of Erendis and Aldarion (Erendis is a bitch!).  There is additional information on Galadriel and Celeborn (Tolkien couldn't make up his mind!) and the ruin of Eregion (the elf who made all the magic rings ends up in Sauron's clutches).  
 


I found the sections involving the Third Age most interesting.  These include a fuller narrative of what happened to Isildur on the Gladden Fields (and the interesting things Aragorn finds in Saruman's tower), several extended narratives on the politics and friendship between Gondor and Rohan, a "missing chapter" of the Battle of the Fords of Isen where Theodred was slain, and a hilarious extra "chapter" on Gandalf's quest to convince Thorin to take a hobbit with him to claim his Kingdom Under the Mountain.  There is additional juicy information about Ringwraiths, Gollum, wizards (there were 5 of them!), Seeing-Stones and a peculiar race of humans called the Druedain.  


It really is a pity that Tolkien didn't manage to add some of these "unfinished tales" into his novels, even as appendices.  This book provides a selection of additional material for those who need to know more about Middle-Earth.  However, I do suggest reading The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, before reading Unfinished Tales to get the most out of this book.
 
 

NOTE:  To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the first ever illustrated edition of this collection of tales has been published in October 2020.
 

NOTE:  Re-read.  First copy of this book has been read and loved to death.


 
 

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