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Reviews Written by
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)
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The Blizzard: A Novel
The Blizzard: A Novel
by Vladimir Sorokin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.78
41 used & new from CDN$ 17.04

5.0 out of 5 stars The Surreal and Desperate World of Failing, May 2 2016
This review is from: The Blizzard: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am in. This author can write with a verve that defies reality as it pushes through all kinds of physical and psychological barriers to attain the impossible of arriving in the nick of time. Right from the start, the good doctor and his driver are on a mission of the gravest sort: delivering a life-saving vaccine to save a town from being destroyed by the plague. These are desperate times that require herculean efforts to overcome, but all we get here in this gothic tale is defeat after defeat along the illusory road to a better world. Broken runners, blizzards, impassable roads, enchanted forests, corpses, and a seductive farmwife all conspire to defeat the human spirit as it attempts to answer the siren call of distress coming from somewhere out there. Sorokin is a master of capturing the existential tension of the moment so that the reader need not fret about how it will all pan out in the end, because that will never happen. Nature and the suggestive powers of the mind have made sure of that: the cavalry will not be arriving to save the day because disaster has already struck in most subtle and disarming of ways. Read and enjoy this creatively crazy novel about how the natural and supernatural orders conspire to hollow out any effort to succeed.

A Cure for Suicide: A Novel
A Cure for Suicide: A Novel
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Living to Relearn in an Orwellian society, May 2 2016
I kept reading this novel because it seemed to draw me into a world that is both cautionary and enlightening. Ball, here, creates a futuristic society where individuals, alienated from their past, seek to find hope in a new environment. The starting point for this experiment in resettling is a small house in a small village where nobody knows you except that one individual - the examiner - who is there to lead the individual - the claimant - through a challenging metamorphosis that amounts to mind control. Remove all sense of the past by continuing to control the environment and pushing the agenda forward in search of individual happiness. Anything that threatens this momentum, like bad dreams, sense of community, or traditional symbols, must be rooted out if life is to be truly embraced in terms of personal freedom. The irony here is that as one opts for the illusory freedom of this 'brave new world' existence, they must accept the tyranny that comes with getting there. In return for not abandoning one's life through suicide, one must yield to the official care of a professional handler. There is no more learning from living in community or drawing from one's past. Ball is a very accomplished writer who knows how to appeal to his readers' emotions when dealing with human vulnerabilities. In this story, the claimant never really loses touch with his or her humanity as someone who cares about others, even the examiner whose job it is to remake his life. He is still capable of seeking a relationship even if it means taking the train to the next town in search of a new beginning. Obviously, for some, an ideal way to fight deep depression and suicide.

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Well Delivered Thesis that Offers Proof, May 1 2016
Too often historians ģet caught up in describing the so-called mysteries or wonders of that ancient trade corridor called the Silk Road between China and Europe without educating readers as to the cultural and historical development of the region. Instead, Frankopan provides very detailed and helpful description of why and how this intricate network of trade routes into the heart of Asia starting in the early second century came about. First, the shifting fortunes of empires such as the Roman, Persia, Muslim, Greek, Mongol, Moghul, and Persian offered a golden opportunity to establish outposts, entrepots and ports stretching right across the continent. Second, along with these centers came the builfing up of religious , cultural and economic interests encouraged by trade, intermarriage, and military conflicts. As one empire retreated either by collapse or out of fear another would advance creating new opportunities to capitalize on the movement of a wide range of commodities other than just silk. Third, Frankopan provides a welter of archaeological eidence to show that commerce definitely connected various cultures and civilizations that was enduring and comprehensive because of the many directions it took and the colossal infrastructure it required such as roadworks, canals, forts and extensive walls. Like everything in life, the Silk Road system had one fatal flaw that it couldn't overcome: while it became a crucual economic conduit between cotinents, it also became the means by which the bubonic plague broke out in the 14th century and virtually wiped out any economic advantage as trade took off in western Europe.

CAR BOMB -DVD CAR BOMB -DVD
CAR BOMB -DVD CAR BOMB -DVD
Price: CDN$ 19.99
14 used & new from CDN$ 15.77

4.0 out of 5 stars A Ghoulish Tale of Bloody Horror., April 29 2016
This review is from: CAR BOMB -DVD CAR BOMB -DVD (DVD)
Talk about creating an explosive device that gets incredible bang for one's buck. Car bombs, from the early 1920s in downtown Manhattan, to the Israeli-Arab conflicts of the late 40s, to the sectarian violence of Beirut and Northern Ireland, the car bomb has played a crucial role in creating widespread unrest and terror. Cheap to make, easy to rig, and destructive in its impact, a bomb containing eighty to a hundred pounds of concentrated ammonium nitrate can kill hundreds and destroy wide swathes of property. What is so compelling about this story is that this deadly tactic became the weapon of choice for the underdog political movements throughout the 20th century. Ex-CIA Agent Baer delves into the history as to how various organizations mass-produced their bombs and placed them for maximum effect. What is really spooky here is that the narrator, Baer, interviews a number of key bomb makers and bomb kings. Each gets to explain how car bombing was used to carry the war to the other side. It was never a smooth operation because so many things could go wrong. Watching this film makes it easy to see why car bombing has given way to suicide bombing: more targeted, more devastating, and less unpredictable. While car bombs kill with a vengeance in urban settings, they are still no substitute for combat in the field.

ESCAPE EVIL Fun Educational Science Kits STEM Toys On Chemistry For Kids 8-10 9-12 12-14. Geek Gifts Board Games For Boys Girls Teens.
ESCAPE EVIL Fun Educational Science Kits STEM Toys On Chemistry For Kids 8-10 9-12 12-14. Geek Gifts Board Games For Boys Girls Teens.
Offered by Kitki N.A.
Price: CDN$ 49.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A Very UniqueTwist Using Magic, April 28 2016
From what I can tell so far, this board activity is ideal for 8+ to play with respect to instructions, goals, and entertainment value. This very intensive game requires a high degree of magic, patience and awareness in order to escape capture. The action, magic and change cards, in conjunction with a well laid-out board, offer some very creative and interesting posibilities. The pieces are sturdy, durable and colorful. Enjoy!.

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge
The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Revenge the Fictional Measure of Survival and Redemption, April 27 2016
Reading this novel helped me understand, once again, why the element of frontier lore is so paramount in American history. Heroes are made and unmade in response to overcoming larger-than-life challenges. "The Revenant" invites us to engage this critical part of a national culture - the need to overcome, beat back, and triumph over - in the compelling story of one of those mythical characters, namely a frontiersman named Grant. It doesn't matter that this rugged figure leads an embellished existence as he treks across the American wild west in earlier times trying to stay alive while trapping for furs. His harrowing tale is one couched in a bigger history of a nation looking to tame the West and justify its sovereign power over the Indians, the land, and the buffalo. This will be a time when Hugh Glass will establish a profound appreciation in his attempt to stay alive. There will be lots of adventure, narrow escapes, grim betrayals, and 'true' grit and heroism to keep the reader occupied. While accuracy and realism may, at times, be in short supply when we see Grant, time-after-time, extricate himself from near-death situations, this novel stays true to its theme of overcoming through extraordinary action. Into this mix goes a fair bit of background fact about the likes of Jim Bridger and Lafitte on which to hang a rousing good yarn that contains just enough believability to make it interesting. Some of the standard enemies here are hostile Indian tribes, white trash criminals, and an unfriendly landscape, which only act to help bring out the true essence of this high energy recreation of history. I choose to see "The Revenant" as a psychological thriller that focuses on the individual's need to seek revenge at all costs, even if it means putting one's life on the line. What happens as a result of this passionate commitment to getting justice is the real takeaway in this novel.

Don't Panic: ISIS, Terror and Today's Middle East
Don't Panic: ISIS, Terror and Today's Middle East
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Clear-Headed Understanding of a Very Perplexing Problem, April 24 2016
Dyer's latest foray into geopolitics takes us into the heart of the Middle East in an an attempt to make sense of radical Islam's threats to western security. By doing a careful review of events since 9--11, Dyer has been able to determine that ISIS, the latest incarnation of jihadic terrorism, as it attempts to transition from terrorist movement to statehood, is more a threat to the Arab world than to the West. The fact that that ISIS exists today as the latest threat to the region of Syria-Iraq-Turkey is more to do with its inherent long-term instability than anything the West has done to culturally inflame the situation. ISIS has only succeeded in the short-term because it has found an opening to exploit, a power vacuum in eastern Syria and northern Iraq resulting from civil war and corrupt government. Dyer brings a lot of facts to his argument that ISIS, while a major irritant in the Levant, will not likely meet its larger objective of taking Jihad to the world because it lacks the resources to underwrite such a complex campaign. It is not simply that Dyer outrightly dismisses ISIS as a ragtag operation doomed to failure because it lacks a realistic plan of operation. Even with a very volatile Syria, ISIS doesn't have a clear grip on things, what with having to contend with other Syrian rebel groups for territory. This terrorist group has so antagonized mainstream Islam that, likes its current competitor, Al Qaeda, surrounding nations like Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Iran, Kurdistan, and Jordan are coming up with strategies to limit its reach and eventually neutralize it out of existence. Dyer makes a good case for showing how ineffectual Isis' efforts are to effectively take this religious war to the West, given that it does not possess a sustainable network that can inflict substantial damage on civilian populations and industrial installations. To date, the greater number of casualties have been those, unfortunately, done to Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Kurds in the region. This study is worth reading because it realistically demonstrates the true nature of this threat, both in terms of its potential to grow and the measures currently taken to contain. There is less need to be caught up in the hysteria of the moment if we remember that this is not a global cataclysm in the making.

Essential Oil Diffuser Tenswall 300ML Aromatherapy Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier with AUTO Shut off Function, 7 Color Changing LED Lights for Home Office Yoga Baby Room
Essential Oil Diffuser Tenswall 300ML Aromatherapy Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier with AUTO Shut off Function, 7 Color Changing LED Lights for Home Office Yoga Baby Room
Offered by Tenswall CA
Price: CDN$ 42.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Godsend for Freshening Up Condos, April 23 2016
We have two diffusers in our home, but like this one especially because of its capacity and time settings. There is nothing more soothing than to be working in a room while this device is working away. Instructions for loading, cleaning and adjusting are easy to follow. We like the fact that the lid or top comes off easily, and the changing light effect is very special during the night. Overall, I highly recommend this product for freshening up stale air situations and cutting down on allergies.

Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution
Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution
by Kathleen DuVal
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.30
31 used & new from CDN$ 17.06

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Complex Tale of Political Intrigue, Personal Endeavor, and Inevitable Outcomes, April 22 2016
History is best written by those who go where the facts take them. DuVal starts with a clear thesis and ends with a convincing argument. American independence, as defined by its protracted conflict with Britain in the 1770's and beyond, is more complex than what is recorded in the general annals of history. There is more to this narrative than meets the eye if one looks outside the original thirteen colonies for how other colonists and indigenous people viewed the geopolitical crisis brewing between the rebels and loyalists. Du Val believes that once their story is told the reader should have a clearer picture that independence is actually better when the dust settles. Freedom from Britain invariably meant freedom to pursue western expansion beyond the Appalachians and the eventual suppression of all native title to land. What makes Duval's perspective so credible is that it succeeds in tying together all the interests of those other national and aboriginal concerns as they tried to maintain a presence on the North American continent. While the Cree, Cherokee, and Chickasaw held considerable territorial sway in the region around western Georgia, their confederacy contained a fatal flaw: they were unable to stand up to the unrelenting pressure brought to bear on them from the British, French, Spaniards, and Thirteen Colonies. Everyone wanted to connect with them in order to gain access to the potentially lucrative Mississippi/Gulf trade and were prepared to divide and conquer to get it. Then there were the West Floridians who expected Britain and then Spain to protect their freedom to continuing trading while enjoying the good life. Over time, these special interests got somewhat waylaid as international treaties and nationhood took over. Duval does a great job in reminding us that there is more to the story that just the march of events to consider. A wide assortment of people such as adventurers, slaves, womenfolk, rogues, entrepreneurs, socialites, missionaries, and colonists all weighed in with their unique grasp of circumstances, even though they may not have prevailed in the end. While the natives were able to hold out against American incursion for a few decades, by forging alliances that often went against their desire for peace, momentum was definitely not with them. What transpired after 1814, when Britain and Spain abandoned all claims to the delta and western lands, was nothing short of a tragedy playing out because might speaks right. Cruelty, treachery, and greed play dominant roles in making sure that certain outcomes were achieved for the benefit of some as opposed to others. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to obtain a more complete view as to where the American War of Independence was actually heading as it broke out of its original boundaries. It contains loads of interesting anecdotes of personal achievement and failing to keep the analysis lively and compelling.

The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey
The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey
Price: CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Confirmation If You Ever Needed It, April 19 2016
I like non-fiction writers who carefully and methodically research their stories before committing them to the annals of history. Accuracy and relevancy are usually the two hallmarks of any good delve into the past that attempts to illuminate the truth and discount the lie. MacKeen, in this book, succeeds on both counts. What she says about the Armenian Holocaust of 1915 not only squares with the historical record but goes well beyond to repudiate any still lingering claims that its effects were grossly exaggerated. How she does this is both amazing and compelling in her efforts to prove that time does not change the picture or the channel. One, she incorporates the journals of her late grandfather Stephan into a bigger narrative that describe a hellish two-year journey of being forcibly removed by the Turks, along with tens of thousands of his countrymen, from their villages and forced to march to intern camps in eastern Turkey as part of a resettlement plan to get rid of the 'pestiferous' Armenians. As shown here, the Turks may have initially started out to relocate the Christian Armenians, who were forever demanding independence but, as World War 1 dragged on, this policy broke down and mass extermination in the form of death marches and massacres of women and children became the norm. MacKeen, in allowing Stepan's voice to be heard, captures all the incredible agony and despair of the moment as these poor people were forced to walk to their deaths under the most inhumane conditions that equal Auschwitz and the Final Solution. The other part of this massive tragedy involves a running account by the author as she travels to Turkey and surrounding regions to corroborate her grandfather's experiences. What she meets up with is nothing short of obfuscation, denial and geopolitics at their worst. You see, politicians, whether they be Turkish or Americans, can't succeed, as much as they would like to, at explaining the terrible wrongs of the past as just a new 'reality' that supposedly exists today. No, the old landmarks, memories and faces still remain to remind succeeding generations that genocide, whenever, is a crime that needs to be acknowledged, analyzed and atoned for, even if it takes centuries.

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