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The Last Star of the East: Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia and Her Films by Akiko Testuya (2005)

I don’t know what took me so long to read this book, I bought it a while back and had meant to read it, but somehow it moved back in my bookshelf, but on my trip back to Cleveland for XMAS I took it and read most of it on the flight back. It is an excellent book, not only for all fans of the Hong Kong film star Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia or even fans of Hong Kong film in general. It is written in Interview format with the first part being a medley of 4 Interviews Akiko had with the usually quite and seemingly retired Lin Ching Hsia, and the rest is interviews with her friends and people she has worked with throughout her career. It paints a vibrant picture of the actress and gives insight into the Hong Kong and Taiwanese film industry.

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The Unknown Story Mao by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

I am already a fan of Jun Chang, having loved her book WILD SWANS which I read years back. I am also an amateur Sinologist, and for years have been interested in all Chinese History, but certainly also reading a lot on the communist years and Chairman Mao. I have read many books on the communist period in China, and all the deaths that Mao caused, including the book by his personal physician, and I have to say none have been so brutal as this book. It is an engaging and interesting read, though completely brutal in it’s details of Mao’s life from his humble beginnings to his running of China and the brutal deaths of hundreds of millions of his own people in his quest for ultimate power.

If you are interested in the history of China, and especially of China since the Communist takeover then this history of Mao, the last Emperor in China who caused more horror and mayhem to his own people then this is a must read.

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The History of Martha’s Vineyard by Arthur Railton (2006)

Amazing to me that growing up on Marthas Vineyard I never learned the history of the place. They should really have a local history class, and this book should be the textbook. My mom bought me this when I was on Marthas Vineyard this year and we were at the Historical Society. Honestly I was expecting a dry book, but this book was actually very well written and enjoyable. It is a thorough and enjoyable book that has the entire history of Marthas Vineyard from the time that White men arrived up until World War II.

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Conservatives Without Conscience by John W. Dean (2006)

Before talking about this book, I have to preface by saying I am heavily progressive in my politics, and like other progressives I support the advancement of worker’s rights and social justice and heavily support the welfare system and anti-trust laws, which seam to be going away with this administration. Now as for this book, this is a must read in today’s day and age for anyone who is interested in politics and jut what is going on with our country and it’s leadership. That being very authoritarian and while labeled Conservative in fact shares no real belief’s with the conservative movement except being radically against anything liberal. This book would be easy to dismiss if it was by some crackpot heavily liberal writer, but is isn’t. This is a well researched and documented study of the changes in the conservative movement since he joined it in the 1960’s as an admirer of the late great Senator Barry Goldwater. And the writer John W. Dean is a staunch conservative who served as White House Counsel under Richard Nixon, and who helped break Watergate with his truthful testimony to the Senate, for which many in the new Republican party tried to destroy him and his reputation. He goes up against Social Conservatives, Neoconservatives and Authoritarians who have taken over the Republican party. This is really book that everyone on both sides of the fence should read because it really gives insight into just what is going on now and why they do what they do.

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowlings (2005)

And to think after the 5th Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I was considering giving up on Harry Potter because I hated the whiny new Harry from that book. I swear all he did was whine. Well I have to say this book is different. It is excellent and amazing. Good from the start to the finish, and in fact I don’t see how they will do the movie of this because the kids spend half the book snogging. I finished this and all I wanted to do was discuss theories with other people who have read it. What a great book, I can’t believe I have to wait so long for the next one!

REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS….

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The Aubrey Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian

Today I finished book 20 of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey / Maturin novels. I couldn’t put stop reading these books from the first one, which I read after seeing the film MASTER AND COMMANDER: FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD. The series is complete, though of course I would have loved more, but then of course O’Brian died at age 85 in January 2000, so there won’t be any more books.

I can’t recommend these books more highly. The books are easy to read and enjoyable, and while their is a huge amount of nautical terminology you can get books to explain it all in detail, and you don’t need to know it all to enjoy, you can be like Maturin and really never understand the sea.CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS…

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Revolution in the Valley, The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac was Made by Andy Hertzfeld (2005)

Wow. This is an absolute must have for any Mac Head, or especially any self professed Mac Geek like I am. This is the inside story of the creation of the Macintosh from one of it’s original creators. I have read every book on Apple that there is, and this is by far the best I have seen. I literally could not put this book down once I started reading it. In fact it only took a few days. Now it is all short stories of different aspects, but it is really worth while with great photos and old notes and the like. This book was started with the stories on Andy’s web site on Macintosh folklore , and here others involved in the process also got involved to add their stories. I CAN’T RECOMMEND THIS BOOK ANY MORE HIGHLY!

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