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Just ask me! "bronxgal" (Brooklyn, NY USA)

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How We Got to Coney Island: The Development of Mass Transportation in Brooklyn and Kings County
How We Got to Coney Island: The Development of Mass Transportation in Brooklyn and Kings County
by Brian J. Cudahy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 99.00
11 used & new from CDN$ 3.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Everything You Ever Wanted to Know, July 6 2004
Did you ever sit down with an elderly relative who is in a chatty mood, and suddenly realize how ignorant you were about your own family history? Finally learning how a particular "aunt", whom you've heard about a million times, is related to you? That's what reading Cudahy's book about the development of mass transit on Coney Island is like.
For example, I'd taken the "Culver" train many times without realizing that the destination had no street are area by that name, and only learned from this book that Andrew Culver developed one of the original rail lines across Brooklyn.
If you're a current or former Brooklynite, there are many "aha!" moments in this book, and a great explanation of how the development of Coney Island for recreation is what led to the development of mass transit across the borough.
This is a "niche" book, for those interested in Brooklyn history and for those interested in trains, and if you are looking for human interest, i.e., for a book about how the waves of immigrants have changed Brooklyn many times over, you should look elsewhere. The only people this book focuses on are the industrialists who left their imprint on Brooklyn by developing and redeveloping its transportation. It does that amazingly well. Make sure you really do want to hear these old stories.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tollerance Approach to Punctuation
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tollerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.98
128 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Self-congratulatory people unite!, July 2 2004
If you've read the summary above, you know the panda joke which inspired the title. If you paid attention in school, you know the basic rules of punctuation. If you get out of the house much, you know that these rules of punctuation are often ignored, sometimes to humorous effect. Oh, and if you've ever been across "the pond", you know that the rules of usage and punctuation are somewhat different there.
So, if you want to spend a couple of hours reading lots of examples, some humorous, of how punctuation has been misused, you will certainly enjoy this book. But if you're literate enough to be at this site, you probably won't learn much. Any reader is also strongly cautioned that the book does not adhere to the conventions used in the US. (And words, for that matter, as you will probably need a British dictionary for definitions of some of the words!)
In sum, if you enjoy feeling superior to those who just can't seem to get punctuation right, have a great time, but you'll be better off with a standard style book for actual usage tips.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
by Jon Krakauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.35
111 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Krakauer does it again!, June 27 2004
It is not a new observation that religious zealotry and mental illness can be an extremely destructive combination. This book describes an example--in which Morman fundamentalist brothers (apparently) murder their sister-in-law and infant niece for religious reasons--while informing the reader about the history of the LDS church and its offshoots.
The author takes a subject which could have been dry as dust and made it totally absorbing for this reader who had absolutely no background in the subject matter. Krakauer has the gift for making every one of the diverse subjects he chooses interesting to the lay reader.
Wisely, Krakauer leaves the formulation of any global conclusions about religious wars to the reader, although the implications of the LDS conflicts to the middle east conflicts are obvious.
It should also be noted that the author appears to fairly state--I can't say for sure because I haven't read the source material--the LDS church's historic reliance upon plural marriage, which Church leaders now minimize or deny, without being normative about it.

New York Blue Guide 3e
New York Blue Guide 3e
by Von Pressentin Wright
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 4.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best, Aug. 28 2003
This review is from: New York Blue Guide 3e (Paperback)
Because I note that the existing reviews on this site refer to the previous edition, this New Yorker recommends the Blue Guide as the only NY guidebook you will need. I refer to mine again and again.
One caveat: the subway lines are now happily back to normal, again running to South Ferry, and the map included in this book, which went to press shortly after the World Trade Center disaster, is out of date. Updated maps are posted in every subway station and train, are available free at every subway change booth, and can be reviewed on the Web.

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx
by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from CDN$ 1.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Lourdes and her children, June 8 2003
Not every family, no matter how dysfunctional, would allow a writer more than ten years of access to their homes and lifestyle choices. Therefore, notwithstanding the book's title, I must submit that this is no "Random Family". (Based on my "handle", it should be no surprise that I believe I know the whole Bronx--not just one self-selecting extended family--better than the author does.)
From the time the story begins, when we learn that Lourdes, the matriarch of this family, moved to the Bronx with a violent partner so as to make a fresh start, and throughout the book,these women (and we focus on the women while the men are generally dealing drugs or in jail) compete with each other for the attention of the neighborhood criminals, continuing to assist them in their trade and to have children with them, rather than staying in school, keeping their jobs, and achieving more than their mothers did. The relatives with jobs, intact relationships, and a manageable number of children for whom they are willing to sensibly budget are mentioned, but not focused on in the narrative.
The only reader for whom this chronology of broken relationships, arrests, and child neglect won't be boring is s/he who has never been exposed to such human behavior.
The author clearly considers the major players to be victims, but most are also profiled as intelligent. The author blames a lot of their suffering on the excessive penalties for possession of small quantities of drugs, but Jessica, in particular, who spent time posing as a paralegal before her own arrest, was smart enough to know the results of her actions.
The "Author's Note" at the conclusion of the book makes reference to "class injustice" as at it's heart, yet the account itself makes clear that the individuals profiled perpetuated their situation by making poor choices again and again. The book lacks the objectivity which a reader who knows nothing else about the Bronx deserves.

Stuart Little 2 (Special Edition) (Bilingual) [Import]
Stuart Little 2 (Special Edition) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Michael J. Fox
Price: CDN$ 22.65
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Little Love, Dec 15 2002
The makers of Stuart Little have somehow managed to combine modern life (Stuart and his friend Will play PS2) with the Littles' retro approach to life and parenting. Each character is well-defined, and the animation is first-rate. Because I'm a life-long New Yorker who loves the city, the thing I loved the most about the movie was the way it celebrates New York and New Yorkers, especially in the climactic scene which I wouldn't dream of spoiling.

Protect and Defend
Protect and Defend
by Richard North Patterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 37.95
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment, March 19 2001
This review is from: Protect and Defend (Hardcover)
If you're looking for a well constructed story about the abortion debate, which encourages the reader to go beyond her established opinions and think a bit, you'd better go elsewhere. The writer's anti-"pro-life" bias was evident throughout, and each character's good gal or bad guy status (and yes, that's pretty much the breakdown here--except for the medical experts, there are no unflawed male characters, and any imperfections in the women result from supporting a man) was telegraphed the first time the character (or, might I suggest, "caricature") appeared. Even the Chief Justice, who dies on page 5 after administering the oath to the new President, comes off exclusively negatively. There is no doubt after the first few pages who the "bad guys" are, even if we don't know until the climax quite what they're capable of(although, if the writer is accepting of broadly legalizing abortion, why is the possible disclosure of this or that character's procedure the worst thing that could happen to her?). In sum, this book is an uncomfortable and unsuccessful attempt to address a serious political issue in fiction, and I would not recommend it.

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