Sunday, January 16, 2022

Review of Sky Hunter by Chris Reher

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, Science

Watch the Review

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Nova is a pilot for the Union, who comes from a military family and is trying to get enough experience to be a Sky Hunter.  Experience that comes while the Union is at war with rebels.  At base, Nova is viciously harassed by fellow crew.  The people responsible harass many others, and they seem to be getting away with their actions.  While on a mission, Nova gets captured.  While a prisoner, Nova finds out information that contradicts the ideals Nova believed in.  Seeing the war from the perspective of other side.  Seeing the impact of the war on the civilians caught in between.  Nova experiences the brutality and toll the war takes up close, which is a viewpoint not seen by pilots who see the action from far away.  Worse, Nova sees the rebels have supplies and weapons that come from the Union.  That means there is a problem with smuggling.  A mystery that needs to be resolved, but proof is needed, and potential key witnesses seem afraid of speaking up.  This is a story about questioning one’s beliefs.  This is a story of what it takes to stand up for what is right. 


Caveats?

The writing sometimes has poor flow which prevent an understanding of what has happened. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What is Nova’s background?
•Why does the ground crew harass Nova?
•Why do the people who harass Nova and other seem to get away with it?
•What does Nova see while a prisoner?
•Why are there rebels?
•What does the Union want?
•Who are the smugglers and what are they smuggling?
•Describe the different types of aliens. 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940152784091
Pages to read:   167
Publication:     2017
1st Edition:      2013
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          2
Overall           3


Friday, January 14, 2022

Review of Amazing Women In History: 5 Kick-Ass Women the History Books Left Out by Keri Lynn Engel

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History

Watch the Review

Review

Overview:

This is a very short book about 5 women that shaped the world.  Mary Anderson shaped the world with an entrepreneurial spirit, creating the windshield wipers that have since become standard.  Stephanie Kwolek shaped the world with the ability to see things differently, experimenting with a chemical solution that would become a fiber which would not easily break and was very stiff, a fiber that saved many lives in the form of bullet-proof vests, and many other applications.  Carmen Amaya shaped the world as an artist, a dancer who broke many traditions to combine various styles, producing with it not only great motion but also a show of emotion.  Katharine McCormick shaped the world through politics and philanthropy, funding the research that created the birth control pill which had giving women a choice.  Ana Nzinga Mbande shaped the world with political power, transforming a kingdom into a commercial state that would be able to defend itself against colonialization.   


Caveats?

As this is a short book, it does not provide much information, but it does pique interest in the lives of these women and a history of influence.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why were these women left out of history?
•Who was Mary Anderson?  
•How did Mary Anderson shape the world?
•Who was Stephanie Kwolek?  
•How did Stephanie Kwolek shape the world?
•Who was Carmen Amaya?  
•How did Carmen Amaya shape the world?
•Who was Katharine McCormick?  
•How did Katharine McCormick shape the world?
•Who was Ana Nzinga Mbande?  
•How did Ana Nzinga Mbande shape the world?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940045499118
Pages to read:   15
Publication:     2013
1st Edition:      2013
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          3
Overall           3

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Review of Bypass Gemini by Joseph Lallo

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, Science

Watch the Review


Elaborate Description

Overview:

Lex is a disgraced racer who is in desperate need of an income.  Trying to pay off massive debts, to unsavory people, Lex takes jobs as a freelance courier and chauffeur.  For this one package, discretion is not just advised, it is needed.  The package needs to be delivered without a corporation knowing about it.  A corporation that owns most of the communication and routes between the plants.  In between the delivery, Lex finds out that the one who requested the delivery, has died in an accident with many others.  It becomes evident that the corporation is willing to sacrifice innocent lives to prevent the package from being delivered.  But what is so important in this package to warrant such an aggressive response?  What secrets does the package hold that are worth killing over?  Along the way, Lex is on a journey of self-discovery, and attempts to become a better person.  Maybe with the help with a certified mad scientist, and the scientist’s seemingly petty A.I. which does not adhere to the laws of robotics, can they figure out why the corporation wants to eliminate anyone with the knowledge of the package.


Caveats?

As this book has a character development theme, it may take some time to sympathize with the main character.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why has Lex been disgraced from racing?
•What is Lex personality traits?  Do the traits change over the course of the adventure?
•How do people get around to other planets?
•Why is Lex being targeted by a corporation about a package? 
•What is the corporation willing to do to make sure the package’s contents remain a secret? 
•What is Karter’s character traits?
•What is Ma’s character traits?
•What is some interesting science fiction in this book?  Can some of the science fiction be turned into science?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940152784091
Pages to read:   260
Publication:     2017
1st Edition:      2011
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall           5


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Review of Uncontrollable Women: Radicals, Reformers and Revolutionaries by Nan Sloane

 This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History

Watch the Review

Review

Overview:

During a time and place that women were supposed to leave politics to men, many women became activists.  Taking up causes, promoting them, fighting for them, and even dying for them.  Politically active not just for voting rights, but also politically engaged for various other causes, such as freedom of thought and the political structure.  As these women were breaching the social structure of the time, they were persecuted.  Women were oppressed structurally rather than accidentally.  Value systems change with time, with this era being framed by religion and class which influenced the way these women thought about others, as the women in this book held narrow-minded ideas about other people, even other women.  Along the way, a demystification of life for women at the time.  In many of the cases, the women were forced by circumstance to become radical activists as alternatives were not available.  In others, women accepted things as they were.  Providing an account of the social and political circumstances of the time. 


Caveats?

The book can sometimes be a bit difficult to read.  Having background knowledge in British history during the 18th-19th century would be very helpful in understanding many of this book’s topics and references. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•How to describe British tolerance? 
•Why did women write? 
•Why was oppression against women structural rather than accidental? 
•What were the causes that the women fought for? 
•How did women live during the time?
•Were these women feminists?
•What did these women think about other people?  Classes?  Women?

Book Details
This book was provided by NetGalley
Edition ISBN:  9781838606633
Pages to read:   262
Publication:     2022
1st Edition:      2022
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          5
Overall           4


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Review of Hard Duty by Mark E. Cooper

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, Science

Watch the Review


Elaborate Description

Overview:

Humanity was nearby eradicated with a previous alien encounter.  The Merkiaari retreated, but expected to return.  During this more peaceful time, humans have made their own conflicts, but also sent out distant survey missions.  As the ships would be out of contact for prolonged periods of time, survey missions were considered hard duty.  During Captain Colgan’s survey mission, they encounter a signal from an alien species.  The crew needs to properly observe the species, known as Shan, without creating a potential conflict.  The efforts of first contact are expressed from various perspectives such as military, civilian, scientist, human, and Shan.  This is a story of the many difficult sacrifices that may become needed to initiate friendly contact.  The curiosity and danger of what an unknown species can bring.  There is much that the Shan and humans can teach each other.  But there is a danger of conflict, which can bring about another extermination type event.  How will the humans and Shan make first contact?

 

Caveats?

There are some perspectives in the book that seem not to have a connection to this book.  Although they do add a layer to an understanding of the politics and life of the times.  The perspectives are possibly important for this book’s sequels. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Who are the Merkiaari?
•How has human civilization changed?
•What are some human politics?
•What are the Shan like?
•What are some Shan politics? 
•What are the problems with a first contact situation?
•What is hard duty?
•What can the Shan and humans learn from one another? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940152784091
Pages to read:   289
Publication:     2017
1st Edition:      2012
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Review of Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763 by Henry Kamen

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires 

Watch Short Review

Elaborate Review
Overview:
The identity of Spain did not begin before the 18th century, as before they were a collection of territories with hereditary claims.  The Spanish empire was not built by only Spanish peoples.  This book shows who contributed what to the empire.  Development of their capabilities came about through experience with other peoples, and learning from them.  Spain’s territory is the amalgamation of political units of Castile and Aragon, coming about through the marriage of Princess Isabella of Castile and Prince Ferdinand of Aragon.  Neither had effective political power over their realms as they were in civil war.  The way they unified and pacified the realms was by collaboration and directed violence.  They built a web of relationships that became characteristic of Spanish power.  Tolerance of alternative religions and peoples, turned into intolerance after Spain had become Champion of Christendom.  As Spain did not have much resources, it used a vast trade network to obtain what it needed, paid for silver coming from the New World.    

After Isabella and Ferdinand took the throne of their respective territory, they were able to effectively pacify the realms, stopping the civil wars.  As their territory was in the hands of the nobles which controlled the economy and had the allegiance of vassals, what Isabella and Ferdinand did was develop institutions and mechanisms that enabled collaborations between the nobles, cities, Church, and commercial sectors.  As for the violence, they did not end it, but organize and direct it elsewhere such as religious enemies.  

Isabell and Ferdinand, unlike their successors, traveled their territories constantly.  They were known by their communities.  When they traveled, they took along them judges, so that many disputes could be resolved personally.  A monarchy based on collaboration rather than fear.  Building alliances and preventing constant reprisals from warring nobles.  Stability was achieved using traditional structures of power.  

Spain later had support from popes, who provided Spain with funds.  Fueling a religious motive to the empire.  Muslims and Jews were either baptized or forced to emigrate.  Cultures and identity which were tolerated before, became victims of imperial power.  As Spain became Champion of Christendom, alternative religions were not tolerated.  The intolerance was law and ideal, but the rigid attitudes could not be enforced in practice. 

Expansion of Spanish territories required international support by those who had the means of colonial enterprise.  Spain itself did not have the economic ability to expand.  Early in the 16th century, Spain had political leaders which tried to create a stable economic system, make communication easier, and build a military might.  Foreigners tended to control the money, which received property rights in payment for the debt.   

Military force was needed to maintain Spanish power, had had little part in its creation.  It was the collaboration of powerful political elites and enterprising traders across multiple nations that brought the Spanish empire into existence.  Precious metal was key to development, rather than conquest.  Spain was depended on imports for some products such as arquebuses and cannonballs, while also needing army supplies that came from foreign sources.  When Spain was threatened politically by specific nations, foreign interests came to Spain’s defense because they did not want to lose their income.

Conquest did not automatically mean that the conquered accepted what the conquerors decreed.  To put their laws and culture on others, they needed to be understood.  That required communication and time, the former was difficult and the latter long.  

Spain is intimately tied to the New World, the Americas.  There was not that much conquest to the subjugation.  More complicated than just subjugation.  Nor were the conquistadors often soldiers, as they came from different occupations.  When Spain tried to expand, they used adventurers to establish control, but then needed to bring the adventurers under control.  Spain issued rules and regulations, but they were ignored in practice.  

There was great animosity between the various American groups, which the different groups wanted to use the conquistadors to enable them to overcome their opposition, and the conquistadores tapped into this animosity to fulfil their goals of greed.  Using native supernatural symbols against the enemies.  It was less the few conquistadors that overcame improbable odds, and more their very high number of allies that enabled them to overcome obstacles.  Not military superiority, but an ability to adapt to unfavorable conditions. 

Many regions of the Americas were difficult to subjugate.  Other regions remained free because Spaniards had no reason to intrude.  The Spanish did not desire to destroy the natives as that would hurt their own interests in subjugated labor, but there was no hesitation of using extreme violence for security and land.

Caveats?
An easy book to read but can be hard to keep track of who is who politically.  The political spheres of influence are complex.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What is Spain?
•How did Isabella and Ferdinand handle their territories?
•Who did Isabella and Ferdinand have to collaborate with? 
•What political maneuvering did Spanish leaders use? 
•What peoples facilitated the brining about of Spanish power?
•Why did Spain become intolerant?
•Were Spain’s laws enforced? 
•What role did the New World play in the Spanish Empire? 
•What role did globalization have in Spanish power? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780060932640
Pages to read:   518
Publication:     2004
1st Edition:      2003
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5