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Conan's Brethren: The Complete Collection
Conan's Brethren: The Complete Collection
by Robert E. Howard
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 26.47

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent coverage of non-Conan REH, Nov. 25 2013
This book is a fabulous overview of a lot of Howard's sword (and sometimes sorcery) fiction. There aren't any Westerns, boxing, or other REH stories here, but there are plenty of tales of daring-do and fighting. The stories include:

Solomon Kane
Solomon Kane's Homecoming (verse)
Red Shadows
Skulls in the Stars
Rattle of Bones
The Moon of Skulls
The Hills of the Dead
The Footfalls Within
Wings in the Night

King Kull
The Shadow Kingdom
The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune
The King and the Oak (verse)

Bran Mak Morn & the Picts
The Lost Race
Kings of the Night
The Dark Man
Worms of the Earth

Savages, Swordsmen & Sorcerers (mix of fantasy and historic fiction)
Spear and Fang
Hawks of Outremer
The Gods of Bal-Sagoth
The Sowers of the Thunder
Lord of Samarcand
The Lion of Tiberias
The Shadow of the Vulture
The Valley of the Worm
The Frost King's Daughter
The Garden of Fear
Gates of Empire
The Ghost Kings (verse)
Afterword: Kinsmen of Conan by Stephen Jones

There is thus a strong emphasis on three of Howard's more popular characters- Solomon Kane, Kull, and Bran. I think the intention of this volume is to highlight the "fantasy" stories of REH, and in that regard, it does a good job. The book itself is moderately constructed. It's not a classic keeper, but it's sturdy enough. There are a scattering of nice black and white illustrations in the book that are of high quality, but also low enough quantity for them to not really be a factor. The editing is good, as this is generally pure Howard, plus or minus a few typesetting errors. As for the stories themselves, for the most part they highlight the amazing writing talent that REH possessed. So if you don't have most of these stories, of if you want them in a handy (if large) volume for reading, then this is definitely a book you want to check out. Five stars.

The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity
The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity
Prix : CDN$ 1.99

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The trials of evil, Nov. 25 2013
The Nuremberg Trials are very important for two reasons. First, they clearly exposed the almost unbelievable evil nature of the Nazis. Second, they responded to it with law and civility rather than frontier justice (i.e., simply shooting all the defendants). This book clearly outlines the process of both reasons. We get to read about the defendants (who range from soldiers to doctors to bankers), the prosecutors, and some of the witnesses/evidence brought to bear. As these trials were massive and in-depth, this book can serve as little more than a brief overview of the trials. But it does stir powerful emotions as it captures much of the most sensational evidence from the trial. In particular, the murder of the Jews is still staggering to think of. The scene of parents hugging their children and trying to calm them moments before they would be gunned town has just heart-wrenching to read bout.

It's almost made worse by the banality of the evil. It's not as if most of the defendants were raging psychopaths. Few were. Most were weak-minded men who clambered for the opportunity to get fame and power working for Hitler. There are interviews from the men, from the prison warden, and the prison psychiatrist that further paints a picture of these men. This is valuable for those who are interested in studying the nature of great evil. It often results from, as has been said before, very banal origins. Indeed, here's a chillingly applicable paraphrasing of Goering, "Getting people to support a war is easy. All you have to do is scare them about some potential attack or danger. Damn pacifists and brand them as traitors who are exposing the country to danger. Once you've done that, the people will support your war." Sound like anything heard during the early 21st Century? There is an even more explicit comparison made by a US Jewish soldier who talked about his (aborted) plan to walk in and shoot the people who had gassed his family. He asks why we treat modern combatants as terrorists without rights when after the most brutal war in history we were able to muster the civility to properly try our captured enemies. It is an excellent and poignant question. Which is the second greatest thing about WW2 (the first being that we defeated those who would rule with pure evil). It offers such profound lessons won at such a profound cost.

Nuremberg wasn't just about establishing international laws or even about punishing the guilty. It's a lesson for all future generations about what happened, why it happened, and what needs to be done to prevent it from ever happening again. For that reason, this book makes for an excellent read. I only gave it four stars because it is a relatively brief overview of the trials rather than an in-depth analysis. So as an introduction, it's 5 stars. As an in-depth look, it's only 4 stars. But that doesn't make me hesitate from recommending it ever so strongly as required reading for anyone who gives a darn about freedom, justice, sacrifice, and human goodness.

7w 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp
7w 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp
Offered by Gadgets Super(Ships from HongKong)
Prix : CDN$ 2.72
36 used & new from CDN$ 2.72

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Surprisingly good little flashlight, Nov. 15 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My biggest complaint with this little flashlight is that I didn't order more! It's very small but seems to be very tough in its construction. It puts out an awful lot of light for such a compact unit and runs on just a single AA battery. It has an adjustable focus that slides in and out to create a smaller but brighter beam or a larger more diffuse beam. You can also press the on switch gently to turn it to a low-voltage mode where the light is dimmer and the battery lasts longer. Press it again and it goes into strobe mode, which would be helpful for signalling or locating purposes. All in all, this is a great little flashlight that I'm frankly quite surprised to not see more often in retail stores. As a back-up light, it's hard to beat. And as a main flashlight, you'd really have to upgrade to a much larger flashlight to out-perform this little wonder. An easy five stars.

The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Anniversary Edition
The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Anniversary Edition
by Charles Darwin
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 30.81
15 used & new from CDN$ 30.81

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Classic Darwin, excellent early psychology, Nov. 14 2013
It's no secret that many famous psychologists (Freud, Piaget, Bowlby, etc.) had deep roots in biology. So it's perhaps no surprise that the most famous biologist also had his hands in psychology. There is his excellent diary of his child, but this book is perhaps his most significant contribution to the field. Expression is an absolute classic, and should be required reading for anyone who studies human faces. But it's also excellent reading for anyone interested in psychology, comparative psychology, or even evolutionary psychology. Truly, it's a remarkable book for its time. It is heavily illustrated and/or photographed, further adding to its value.

Besides the quality of Darwin's work, there is a superb introduction and an equally good conclusion provided by one of the most accomplished modern researchers of facial expressions, Paul Ekman. Paul's introduction places Darwin's work within Darwin's historical time period as well as with how it fits in the field itself now. His conclusion is even more interesting perhaps, as it's the story of Ekman's own battles regarding the universality and interpretation of human facial expressions. For example, there was a strong push against the nature-oriented (I would say nature-inclusive) approach Ekman took when he suggested some human emotions were universally expressed in the same way in the face. One critic was Margaret Mead, who Ekman revealing quotes as believing in the importance of nature in explaining human behavior. However, she refrained from doing so publicly because (according to the same quote), the political climate was not ready for such revelations at the time. That's a pretty strong statement for a scientist to make- withholding findings because they personally don't think the public is emotionally ready for them. It's a very revealing look into the politics of science that I found very interesting.

Overall then, this book goes well beyond simply describing facial expressions. It's an excellent early piece of psychology and it's also an excellent historical/biographical account of the study of human faces. For anyone interested in faces, psychology, biology, and/or the history of science, this is an excellent book to recommend. Five stars.

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease
by Daniel Lieberman
Edition: Hardcover
10 used & new from CDN$ 63.97

8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent book on the evolution of the body and modern health, Nov. 7 2013
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Lieberman sets out to describe the evolution of the human body and how our evolutionary history has prepared us (or not) for healthy living in our modern environments. The first part of the book deals with our evolution from distant ape ancestors to humans. It's a good, up-to-date account of human evolutionary history (although it doesn't include the most recent fossil findings from Georgia). It paints a strong picture of how our bodies changed and evolved, what different hominid species were adapted for, and why some went extinct. It's certainly not the most thorough introduction to the topic, but it definitely gets the job done as a general introduction or a refresher.

The second part of the book deals with the agricultural revolution and its consequences for our bodies. At first, it was largely a good thing. But as time went on and agriculture became more intensive people's health suffered, as witnessed by their bones. We are not very well adapted to a farming lifestyle, although evolution has occurred to steer us towards that direction amongst long-time farming populations. The ability for adults to digest lactose, resistance to agricultural plague diseases, and a great tolerance of insulin are some examples. In this way, the book is rather reminiscent of The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. The idea that human evolution didn't stop in the paleolithic is a view that I'm very sympathetic towards so it was a very interesting section to read.

Yet it's the final part of the book that has perhaps the greatest punch. Lieberman discusses how we are living in a health paradox. We generally live longer, healthier, more pain-free lives than ever (although he doesn't talk very much about mental health). However, we are now subject to a variety of illnesses caused by a mismatch between our bodies and the radically new environment that they live in. Lieberman likes the terms cultural evolution and dysevolution to refer to cultural changes and the bodies' inability to thrive with those changes. He spends a lot of time on our diet, focusing largely on the excess of calories that we eat. He also spends a significant amount of time on exercise, and how a lack of excerise fails to promote optimal body development. Because many of our modern health problems occur late in life, they are both not strongly subject to natural (or sexual) selection and they are easy for people to fall into as the consequences of poor choices don't appear for decades. Without ruining the content of the book, I can say that these changes are profound. As a former personal trainer, I've read a ton about diets and exercise. Lieberman reinforces the essential truth of dieting and exercise- there is no magic bullet or diet or exercise. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly. That's the key. Unfortunately, neither is easy for us to do when we are bombarded with environmental opportunities to engage in much more pleasurable eating choices (e.g., junk food) and much more comfortable exercise choices (e.g., relaxing in an easy chair). Lieberman concludes by reviewing the evidence and making suggestions. Recognizing the challenge of just getting people to eat right and exercise (our bodies generally don't like doing that), he recommends altering our environments to incentive our choices. For example, putting taxes on sugary foods. Putting premiums on exercise opportunities. Etc. It's a realistic, sound approach that recognizes the scope of the problem as well as the solutions.

Overall then, this is an excellent book. It has significant scientific rigor (with dozens of pages of citations and footnotes), yet it is easily readable by a general audience. Besides the general public, I think this is one of the greatest books for doctors since Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine. Lieberman collects the evidence, presents it without bias, and then proposes real solutions. This book isn't the cure for our modern ailments, but it is a very clear call to recognize them and start dealing with them, particularly since we all want to live a long and healthy life and have our children do even better than we did. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen more about our mental health, but I suppose that would either be out of his area of expertise or it would simply make the book too big for his tastes. So a solid five stars.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
by Allie Brosh
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 17.32
47 used & new from CDN$ 11.98

5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Hilarius, but twisted view of life, Oct. 30 2013
Allie Brosh has written a book based on her very popular online blog (google the book title). Fans of her blog will love this book, which has some of the "greatest hits" from her blog along with plenty of new material. Brosh takes a different twist on life, making her comics both surreal and poignant at the same time. As someone who has struggled with depression, Brosh doesn't shy away from tough topics or sugar-coating the pain in her life. In fact, she's received accolades for tackling tough topics, like depression, head on. But she does still serve it with a big side order of funny, so while this book might make you a little melancholic, it will make sure you'll feel that way with a smile on your face sooner rather than later. Her drawing style perfectly compliments her writing, as the drawings are used almost as pause points to build up the comedic timing in her stories (I still laugh whenever I see a children's cake).

Unlike a lot of comedy books, this one tops out at almost 400 pages, so there's quite a lot of material. As I said, a lot of it is new so that makes for plenty of reading even for fans of her blog. So who is this book for? Well, again, it's probably for people who like a little twist to their comedy. This isn't potty humor or slapstick (although there is some of that). It's kind of like Seinfeld meets Far Side meets Cathy meets a seriously depressed Ziggy. So it's hard to describe, but easy to recognize. If you're already a fan of her work, you'll definitely like this book. If you're not if you're a fan, check out her blog. If you like it, you'll like this book. Did I like it? Well, with a title like that, the only thing I can say is that it was so freakin' awesome that I literally died a thousand deaths every moment I wasn't reading it!

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
by Chris Hadfield
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 20.06
21 used & new from CDN$ 7.86

31 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Amazing book from an amazing Canadian!, Oct. 30 2013
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Chris Hadfield is not Canada's only astronaut, but he's almost indisputably the most famous one. This book is the story of his life leading up to being an astronaut, and its filled with both anecdotes and lessons.

For me, the anecdotes and stories are what's most interesting. Have you ever thought about flying in space? If so, this book is for you. There's a ton of information on what it's actually like to fly in and out of space, as well as living life in space. It really is an alien environment, but it's one that has almost become commonplace enough for people to dismiss as now being safe and easy to do. It's not safe, and it's definitely not easy living in space. But he does convey the majesty of being in space. In particular, how it doesn't seem that grand until you open your eyes and see the glorious view of the Earth in front of you and then the blackness of space all around you. Vision is the sense that most appreciate space.

His life story and lessons are also interesting, even if they don't (for me) match up to the grandeur of space flight. One of Chris' biggest life events and lessons is that he discovered at a very young age (9) what he wanted to do: walk on the moon. He never made it to that goal (at least, not yet), but he states that it's really important to set goals and do your best to meet those goals. If you don't get your goal, but move towards it, you're succeeding. That's a really important point- not only do you have to set a goal, but you have to keep chasing it even if it involves detours here and there. I can really empathize with this view as it's largely what I've done with my life. Chris also loved going fast from a young age, but he wasn't a risk-taker. In fact, for him the thrill was doing something dangerous, but doing it in a way so that it was completely under control. He's very detail-oriented. From flying CF-18s, to being a test pilot, to being an astronaut, it was always able mastering the challenge.

Chris' three children figure prominently in his parental advice, as does his wife. He and his wife are one of the increasingly rare examples of high school sweethearts who got married and it seems to have worked so far. That's an impressive testimony to her as I'm sure it wasn't easy being married to someone who was so often so far away and so often in relatively dangerous jobs. Chris himself is a strong optimist, but he's also patient, hard-working, and caring. I was almost hoping for some kind of dirt on the guy here, but there really aren't any major character flaws (as least none that he reveals). Which sort of makes sense if you think about how difficult the selection process is to not only go to space, but to command the ISS. You really don't want a hot-head, or alcoholic, or risk-taker managing those kinds of multi-billion dollar, massively documented missions.

So can I recommend this book? Well, if you are interested in the technical details of space travel, this is a good book. If you're looking for some good life lessons, especially lessons relating to achievement, then this is a good book. If you ever look up into the night sky and wish you were there, and want to read the real deal story of someone who was- this is definitely a really good book. An accomplished story-teller who knows how to capture an audience, Chris Hatfield doesn't disappoint. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth isn't just a guide to living in space, or a guide to living on earth, it's a reminder of our place on earth, in the universe, and what a great opportunity we have to do something special with our lives. If that doesn't make a book worth recommending, I don't know what does. Five Stars!

Dingo Firestorm: The Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War
Dingo Firestorm: The Greatest Battle of the Rhodesian Bush War
by Ian Pringle
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 59.86
26 used & new from CDN$ 32.42

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An indepth look at a little-known battle, Oct. 28 2013
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Dingo Firestorm is the code name of the former Rodhesian's state's bush war against local independent movements/terrorists/freedom fighters. Written by a pilot, the focus is very squarely on the aerial operations. Which is somewhat fair, given, as the author states, that everyone who took part in the operation was either in the air, or got there by air. The book is broken into two parts: the lead-up to the battle and the actual battle itself. The former is interesting, but drags on a little bit as we get biographies of the various pilots who took place in the battle. Perhaps if there was more depth on the kind of training they received rather than their life histories it would be a bit more exciting.

The latter half of the book is where the action starts to pick up. The attacks were against major Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army training grounds that were home to thousands of freedom fighters/guerillas (depending on your POV). They involved initial strikes by Hawker Hunter jets, followed up by canberra bombers and vampire jets. Only seconds behind were a flottilla of transport and gunship helicopters that dropped off special police, while Dakotes dropped strings of parachute special forces. The preparation and execution were really very impressive for a military with the size and capability of Rodhesia's. The results were spectacular, and a near-end to the war was only averted by having some key figures (e.g., the leaders) be absent and parade ground drills being delayed. Both by sheer coincidence.

So as an example of a combined-arms aerial assault, this is almost a textbook case. As an example of a small but plucky air force's capabilities, this is another great example. As an introduction to the political environment, as well as the men involved, this isn't a bad book at all. As a discussion of the actual machines and tactics, this book is OK, but could have more depth. So if you're looking for a book with some serious second-half action, or any of the above, then Dingo Firestorm is probably worth reading.

The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America
The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America
by Langdon Cook
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 18.81
41 used & new from CDN$ 16.33

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting, but increasingly repetitive, Oct. 28 2013
This book is in the tradition of a number of recent books that have looked closely at how our foods are produced. In this case, mushrooms are produced by nature but they are harvested by a poorly known group of mostly immigrant workers. The author, Cook, loves mushrooms. He loves collecting them, cooking them, and eating them. As a writer, he decided that he wanted to do a story on the professionals who dealt with collecting wild mushrooms. Inspired by rumors of gun fights and a real frontier-type mentality in the industry, he decided to explore it himself.

Along the way he meets many mushroom collectors (befriending at least one closely), a mushroom dealer (buyer/seller, who he also befriends), and several chefs. Most of his time (in the book at least) is spent on the road either learning to collect mushrooms like a pro or witnessing the ins and outs of the wild mushroom business. It is indeed a business that largely operates in the shadows with some correspondingly "interesting" characters. It's not quite like the Wild West, but there are elements of frontier spirit, capitalism, seedy characters, and naturalistic philosophies. The story takes place over a year as the author profiles different wild mushrooms during their harvest peaks.

As a cooking or culinary guide, this book is inspirational, but only in a general way (e.g., there are no recipes in it). As a guide to collecting mushrooms, there are some tips but again it's more inspirational rather than directional. As a guide to getting involved with the industry itself, this is probably more informative, but it's probably not enough to get started on one's own. Overall then, it's not a bad book, mainly due to the characters and the author's obvious passion for edible mushrooms. However, the formula does get rather repetitive. New month, new mushroom, new harvesting. The work is hard, the people are strange, there's haggling over the price for the mushrooms. Rinse and repeat. It's a testament to the author and to the subject that the book is still worth reading as you progress, but it does start to lose its novelty. Once you peak behind the curtain of professional mushroom harvesting once, there isn't a lot more to see in subsequent visits. So it's a good, but not great book. Four stars, if only because it made me really want to go out into the forest and collect some chanterelles!

Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants
Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants
by The Oatmeal
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 14.43
54 used & new from CDN$ 2.98

4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Classic Oatmeal!, Oct. 5 2013
By now Oatmeal has published enough books and internet comics (just Google the name) that most people should be familiar with the brand. If you're not, Oatmeal comics are observations on life that are a cross between Seinfeld, The Far Side, and South Park. As a warning, there is plenty of foul language and adult content in this book. It's not filthy, but it's not aimed at children. So how good are the jokes? Very good. One of my favorites is the Hammer vs. Hipster that you can preview for free. But there's lot of other great ones. What You Should Have Learned in School is really funny, especially the science one. Annoying things in the airport was another (I too hate feeling rushed when you've got to unload and practically strip at security). Or playing video games online as an adult versus kids. That one is a really funny f-you to the kids. Or how young men versus old men behave in a locker room. Or how good a women looks in nothing but a t-shirt while a man in nothing but a t-shirt, well, that's not quite as good. You get the picture. There's quite a lot of content for the book, meaning it's likely to find a funny bone or two in most readers. There's a big pull-out poster at the end that's also pretty funny.

Overall then, if you're already an Oatmeal fan, this won't disappoint. If you're new to Oatmeal, and like edgy comedy (aimed at adults), then this book is almost certainly going to hit the spot. Not every joke hit the mark for me (e.g., only one or two of the dream jokes did), but enough did to make other people look over at me and wonder why I was laughing out loud so much. And since laughing out loud a lot is generally a good thing, I'm going to give it a 5 stars even if a few of the comics were ones I've already seen (4.5/5 rounded up).

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