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Eric Wilson "Book Lover" RSS Feed (Nashville, TN United States)

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Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
by Harper Lee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.62
521 used & new from $1.21

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Only..., October 2, 2015
Like many others, I count To Kill a Mockingbird as one of my all-time favorite novels. I was hugely excited about the release of this prequel, but the early reviews and revelations tempered my enthusiasm, and I waited for months before deciding I was ready to give it a shot myself. Boy, am I glad I didn't pass this one by.

Go Set a Watchman is not the polished novel that preceded it. Nor is it a gripping page-turner. It is, however, a return to the town of Maycomb, Alabama, and to some of those beloved characters we know from the past. Jean Louise, whom we know more affectionately as Scout, is our narrator. We are taken back and forth, from Scout's childhood and her teen years (including some comic and heartwarming moments at a prom dance), to her adult return from New York City to her birthplace. She no longer has her brother to lean on, and instead her focus is diverted by a boyfriend. Does her love for him make him a desirable husband? That is one of the early questions, but the much starker questions turn to the brewing racial tensions among the townsfolk. Most disturbing, for Jean Louise, is evidence that her father has some racist views of his own. She turns to her uncle for answers, then, in disgust, decides she is done with this town and its backward ways. Only then, does she face her own bigotry on a different level.

Harper Lee gives us a challenging story here, one that is an easy read full of beautiful little moments, but also full of unsettling aspects of the racial divide. What seems to be a story set in the past is one that is as apropos today as ever. We are not given easy answers. We are given tough questions, varied viewpoints, and abstract truths grounded in rock-solid principles. We may never see Atticus quite the same again, but we are given a more honest, three-dimensional view of him and his generation from the South. This is a more adult novel in some ways than its predecessor, expecting us to come to our own conclusions instead of wrapping everything up in tidy bows.

And that is exactly what Jean Louise is faced with in her hometown return: a chance to come to her own conclusions, to stand on her own two feet, to love her enemies even when she doesn't agree with them. It may not compare to Mockingbird for storytelling genius and sophistication, but it comes at us with the same passion and same strength of characterization. If only Harper Lee could give us a third book to round out the Maycomb story.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2016 8:09 AM PDT

The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime
The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime
by Harold Bloom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.09
66 used & new from $7.98

32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Robbed by the Daemon, June 10, 2015
As a huge fan of Melville, Twain, and Hawthorne, I dove into the deep waters of Bloom's book with high expectations. Aside from Nathaniel Philbrick's passion for Moby-Dick, I have been hard-pressed to find critics who share my love of that American masterpiece, and so Bloom's enthusiasm in that regard further increased my expectations.

There is no doubt that Bloom is a man of letters, an icon, and a writer with unparalleled range in contextualizing these American giants of literature. His research is prodigious. His emotional connection is laid bare. And yet I found myself disappointed at numerous points in his text. He approaches these giants with presuppositions about their motives and beliefs, often building his arguments or even his exaltation without a clearly laid foundation. If we take Bloom as the unquestioned expert, we find many sparkling moments in his examples of Whitman, Twain, and Faulkner. However, he misses the mark by a wide margin at times, particularly when he interprets the spiritual and supernatural passages of Hawthorne and Melville. Instead of exploring these passages with us, Bloom tells us what those authors meant and tells us exactly how we are to receive their metaphors and symbols. Melville, himself, said that he did not predetermine or fully grasp all the layers of Moby-Dick as he wrote it, yet Bloom seems to know these things better than Melville.

I admire the scholarly elements of this book, as well as the undiluted exuberance for classic literature, but I found the text wanting. Instead of inviting me to explore the great ideas of these masterworks and come to my own conclusions, Bloom does all the thinking for me. The fact that writers such as Melville, Hawthorne, and Faulkner cause me to think is precisely what draws me to them. Here, I felt robbed by Bloom's daemon.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2015 9:31 AM PDT

Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World
Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World
by John J. Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.55
80 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Puts a Bit of Twang In It, June 8, 2015
Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate has a clean and simple cover that draws up images of small-batch chocolate. Though its overall content is a quick and easy read, it has substance to it, and even more important, some tart and twang. Twang, Thompson learns from a respected songwriter, is that element of music and storytelling that should not be diluted. It is the heart of it all, the sass, the fire, that moves us behind the shallows into the deeper pools of life. Thompson focuses specifically on the life of the modern-day Christian, in an American culture where religion has lost its taste, and churches have become consumer-oriented.

The first fifty pages of the book give us glimpses of Thompson's own thinking and upbringing, and the things that sent him on a quest for something deeper out of life and relationships, something more artisanal than mass-market. He does so with honesty and humor, but the book really grabbed my interest as it delved into the processes of making good chocolate, good beer, good bread, then related those processes to the journey of faith. Are we willing to settle for a faith full of artificial sweeteners and preservatives, or will we mature in our tastes and seek the richer, more intensely twangy elements that go into crafting a life of substance? In the middle of his musings, Thompson gives us interesting tidbits about the history of coffee and beer, and explores the possibilities of home gardening for a healthier diet. Living in Nashville, I had fun reading the parts about local chocolatiers and brewers.

Even as Thompson causes us to rethink the direction of our daily food and drink intake, he also causes us to consider the rewards of a deeper spirituality. I could've handled even more tartness and twang, but then, Thompson isn't trying to ruffle feathers He may get caught up in some semantics--about the word "religion," for example--while trying to point us in a right direction as gently as he can, but he makes valid, thought-provoking points. This is a book that grinds up some educational, theological, and practical tidbits, and brews a pleasing concoction that you can enjoy alone or share with your friends.

Dominion Adventures Game
Dominion Adventures Game
Price: $31.50
41 used & new from $20.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multiplies the Possibilities and Fun, April 30, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dominion Adventures Game (Toy)
Does Adventures add anything worthwhile to Dominion? Is the artwork less goofy than some of the Guilds cards? Can this be enjoyed by newbies to the game?

Yes. Yes. And mostly yes.

For the past couple of years, Dominion has dominated our dining room table, with many games being played with my wife, daughters, and neighbors. We have all of the expansions, and have created many of our own cards as well, with Dark Ages, Seaside, and Prosperity being the most popular in our household, though we enjoy all of the expansions for different reasons. We love the complexity and possibilities of Dark Ages, the strategic yet straightforward elements of Seaside, and the Treasure-oriented elements of Prosperity. Cornucopia is fun in its own right, but more suited to two players, due to the longer games that can ensue.

Adventures adds all sorts of fun and exciting elements to the world of Dominion. We have Action-Traveller cards that upgrade as you play them. And who wouldn't want to become a Champion? It is one strong card, believe me. We have Action-Reserve cards, which can be set aside on your Tavern Mat and called back into play when you choose. You need to be able to play extra actions, or gain a copy of good card, or trash those Curses given you by the Giant attack card? Well, there's an Action-Reserve card that just might do the trick. There are also Event cards, 20 to be exact, from which one or two can be selected to multiple the possibilities of any game. They are set out for all players to access, by buying the Event's ability at the end of a turn. Some are simple (draw an extra 2 cards into your next hand), while others are more strategy-specific, giving Estates in your hand the power of a selected Action card, for example. It's not that complicated, once you play it through, but it could be overwhelming for new players.

And, of course, we have the return of Duration cards. These are some very handy Durations. Give the Dungeon, Amulet, and Gear cards a try, and you'll see what I mean. How about Duration-Attacks? Well, meet the Swamp Hag, who gives other players Curses if they buy any cards on the following turn. Or the Bridge Troll (think Bridge, from the Intrigue expansion, with a bite). Or the Haunted Woods. Sadly, the Haunted Woods doesn't have as much effect in this expansion, as it targets Victory cards in other players' hands, and this expansion only adds one new Victory card. However, Haunted Woods could be deadly to Gardens (from the Dominion base set) or Dukes (from Intrigue).

The variety of cards here is excellent. My wife gravitated straightaway to the Big Money ideas of the Treasure Trove card and the Magpie. She beat me our first game, 67 to 66. I was drawn to the ideas of the Artificer card, the Hireling, and Miser. Miser, for instance, is similar to Pirate Ship (from Seaside), except you do it to yourself, setting aside and accumulating your own Coppers, and then getting the chance to count them towards your Buy phase on later turns. Pretty nifty, if you have enough +Actions to double up those Misers. Which is where a seemingly mundane card such as Coin of the Realm becomes very powerful, when you call it from your Tavern Mat and give yourself +2 Actions whenever you need them. This barely scratches the surface, but you get the idea.

The Adventures artwork is much better on this set than on Guilds, and though I heard complaints from others about the quality of these cards and tokens, I don't share the complaint. Perhaps my set, which bears a Made in the USA stamp, was manufactured with different elements. Either way, we are already enjoying the game immensely. It's imaginative. It's more female-centric in its card art and ideas than in some of the previous expansions. It's just a whole lot of fun!

Warning: If you're new to Dominion, this expansion might be a little overwhelming at first until you understand the nuances of the game and its wording. Start with Dominion's base set or Intrigue, then work your way in with Seaside, Hinterlands, Dark Ages, and so on. Throw in some Adventures whenever you're ready, and have a blast!

Ayygift Hot Sale Rainbow Color Eyepatch Eye-shade Cotton Eye Protection Cover Sleep Mask (Rainbow-2pcs)
Ayygift Hot Sale Rainbow Color Eyepatch Eye-shade Cotton Eye Protection Cover Sleep Mask (Rainbow-2pcs)
Offered by Ayygiftideas
Price: $7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Go Wrong, December 30, 2014
My daughter has trouble sleeping, and has long used sleep masks to block out light and distractions. These are the perfect little gift for her, soft, cute, and colorful, while also doing a good job of blocking out light. They aren't very thick, but they are comfortable and effective. Plus, we got two of them in our order. You can't go wrong, for the price.

Uqique Digital Voice Recorder 8GB USB Flash Drive - Multifunctional Rechargeable Mini Audio Recording Device with MP3 Player
Uqique Digital Voice Recorder 8GB USB Flash Drive - Multifunctional Rechargeable Mini Audio Recording Device with MP3 Player
Offered by NextpageDirect
Price: $26.99
2 used & new from $20.39

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's About Time!, December 19, 2014
A digital recorder, mp3 player, and 8GB flash drive all in one . . . How could I resist?

We ordered this, and it arrived in a convenient box with headphones and a cord for attaching the device to a USB port. We believed it could be a great Christmas gift for our daughter who is traveling overseas. She loves to have all her music in one place, and this includes the earphones to listen to her songs. She can use the digital recording to keep a digital diary of her trip. And we even loaded our own voice file, wishing her a Merry Christmas.

The recording is a lot clearer than on two other digital recorders I own, and this device is ultra-small, especially considering all that it contains. We plugged the USB cord into our PC, into our Chromebook, a laptop, and a Mac. It showed up on all of them, allowing us to drop and drag files, rename them, organize them into files, etc. Wow. My other recorders are more limited. One doesn't work with Windows Media Player. Another doesn't work with mp3 files. The Uqique recorder works with both.

For easy listening on a plane flight, my daughter can definitely listen to her loaded songs by moving back and forth between them with the small + and - signs on the end of the device. And the volume can also be adjusted there. This is just a fantastic deal, and I am so glad that we can send this off to her for Christmas with a personalized message.

It's about time someone put all these components into one device and made it so easy and sleek to use. We were impressed.

Smartek ST2000N Cord-Cordless Powerful Steam Iron Non-Stick
Smartek ST2000N Cord-Cordless Powerful Steam Iron Non-Stick

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Economical Option, December 18, 2014
The simple act of ironing has fallen out of fashion in today's fast-paced world. Am I the only one who gets tired of dealing with water and tangled cords and weighty irons?

Smartek's cordless option is a great and economical option. This iron is streamlined, easy to use, and lightweight so that you can even iron curtains and other items that might be difficult with a cumbersome old-school instrument. If you go cordless, it still works well, even if the heat dissipates a bit quicker. That's not really an issue unless you're dealing with a large job.

We received this quickly through the mail. It was packaged well, and were definitely satisfied with it. We compared it to others online and on Amazon, and for the price, this one's hard to beat.

iGearPro 16GB USB Flash Drive Digital Audio Voice Recorder - Rechargeable Mini Hidden Pen Drive - 1 Year Warranty
iGearPro 16GB USB Flash Drive Digital Audio Voice Recorder - Rechargeable Mini Hidden Pen Drive - 1 Year Warranty
Offered by HITECH LLC
Price: $19.99
2 used & new from $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Points and Bad, December 12, 2014
This handy little flash drive has some good points and bad.

Good points: It's easy to use, it's a decent price, and it comes with a small protective box and plastic pouch. It works great if you want to do face-to-face interviews. It's fairly decent with background noise being filtered as long as you are recording close-up. Once fully charged, it can record for up to 10 hours, and it can store a lot of files. Though it would be nice to store mp3 files, it offers a free online conversion option.

Bad points: For spy purposes, it's not voice-activated, and the visible power light and lack of range (voices sound very distant at anything beyond seven or eight feet) make it hardly optimal. It doesn't do well with loud music, so live recordings won't be good enough quality to listen to again with any real enjoyment. It also has a ten to twenty second delay after turning it on, with the power light being red, and then it going to blue for recording. Perhaps this is to give time to turn it on and situate for an interview, but it's an annoyance.

Overall, it's not a bad product if you want to speak into while on long drives, or want to do interviews with other people at a table or on a couch. Just know what you're getting, and you'll be fine.

No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Didn't Someone Think of This Earlier?, December 12, 2014
For years, we've had our old metal muffin pans. Despite spraying them with nonstick spray and using cupcake holders, the pans are still glazed in old spray and residue. We've spent time scrubbing them, and still they look old and used. Only recently did we discover the magic of silicone cooking items.

Wow! This silicone muffin pan makes kitchen work that much easier and that much more fun, especially when including kids in the work. You can use this for making muffins or cupcakes, since it is heat-resistant, and the goodies slide right out with no sticking or mess. Just in case, though, it's dishwasher safe. It can also be used to throw some cute Jell-O cups into the fridge, or whatever else your creative culinary mind comes up with. In addition, the pan can be bent and folded where it takes up very little cupboard space. Not to mention, there's no clanging around in the back of a cupboard for the metal pan.

Why didn't someone think of this decades ago? We love it.

Microfiber Towel for Travel, Beach, Bath, Gym, Camping - XL Extra Large but Compact, Antibacterial and Quick Dry with small Carry Pouch (Lavender, 60 x 30 Inches)
Microfiber Towel for Travel, Beach, Bath, Gym, Camping - XL Extra Large but Compact, Antibacterial and Quick Dry with small Carry Pouch (Lavender, 60 x 30 Inches)
Offered by LaRoyal
Price: $36.95
2 used & new from $16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Item to Have, December 11, 2014
I love the beach, love the outdoors, and love working out. This towel sounded like a great product, and in its feminine color, seemed perfect for my wife. I thought, why not give it a try?

The microfiber towel is as advertised. It is lightweight, and folds into the nice mesh pouch with a Velcro seal, despite being full-sized. It can be hung with its loop on your gym bag, your belt loop, or your backpack. It's thin, yet soft and absorbent for beach use. Anyone who goes camping knows how much room a towel can take up in your backpack, so this is a handy answer to that problem, since staying dry is a necessity. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and spent many damp nights in tents after long hikes. This towel would've been a great item to have.

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