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Julia L. Simpsonurrutia "Julia_au_chateau" RSS Feed (Fresno,CA)

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Repel 94109 Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent, 4-Ounce Pump Spray
Repel 94109 Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent, 4-Ounce Pump Spray
Price: $4.97
18 used & new from $4.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Bought to fight the mosquitos of Jeddah, January 28, 2014
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Gave it to my son, who said it worked on his trip to Saudi Arabia. Good choice of mosquito repellants

Isotoner Women's Terry Clog,Navy,7.5/8
Isotoner Women's Terry Clog,Navy,7.5/8
Price: $14.99
2 used & new from $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cushiony slippers, January 28, 2014
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I have had Isotoner before and the bottoms finally flattened. I think these slippers are good for a year, and then if you need them to protect you from pressure in case of some kind of Plantar syndrome (I recently have an inflamed nerve in the ball of my foot), it is best to buy a new pair. New, they are excellent.

The Bone Collector
The Bone Collector
Price: $5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Sampling the first few pages, December 12, 2013
I only read the sample first chapter, noting that Dar Al Farouq has neglected to get a good English editor. Why that oversight? The run-ons are discouraging.

HealthWise 100% Colombian Supremo, Low Acid Ground Coffee, 12-Ounce Cans (Pack of 2)
HealthWise 100% Colombian Supremo, Low Acid Ground Coffee, 12-Ounce Cans (Pack of 2)

5.0 out of 5 stars Tastes every bit as good as Starbucks., December 2, 2013
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This coffee tastes wonderful and is truly low acid. I have not had the problems with it that I have with regular coffee. (I suffer from interstitial cystitis.)

Islam: The Alternative
Islam: The Alternative
by Murad Wilfried Hofmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.58
33 used & new from $2.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Meeting with an amazing author, December 2, 2013
This review is from: Islam: The Alternative (Paperback)
Although I did not read this particular book, I have read Brother Hofman's Diary of a German Muslim, which he presented to me upon visiting my house in Saudi Arabia. He also kindly gave me an interview, originally published in the Saudi (English language) press. (After the dinner, we had spaghetti.)

The former German ambassador to Morocco chose early on to make his faith public knowledge. When he first converted to Islam, he published Diary of a German Muslim. When he put out this book, Islam, the Alternative, here featured in Arabic, it provoked an outcry in the German media. The attacks on Dr. Hofman were so serious that they were picked up and repeated, verbatim, by the international press.

What provoked the furor was the fact that an established German publish house was bringing out a book by a German Muslim. Vituperation and accusations plagued Dr. Hofmann and his wife for five weeks. For instance, it was claimed that every woman in the German Foreign Ministry working under Dr. Hofmann's authority was forced to wear hejab. Dr. Hofmann's suitability as ambassador (given his proclaimed faith in Islam and the public dismay over a book not yet on the market) was debated in Parliament. Detractors, (without having read the book) asserted it was a disgrace to have an ambassador representing the country abroad, given his views were unconstitutional. In other words, Brother Hofmann was maligned and ridiculed both at home and internationally.

The Foreign Ministry requested Dr. Hofmann to submit a written report on his views, for it was becoming increasingly difficult to defend him against the onslaught without such a document. Before the storm was over, the publishing house Evgen Diederichs Yerlag asked Dr. Hofmann if he would accept what is known in writers' lingo as a "kill fee," a reduced amount of money for work done for a manuscript that is not going to be published. Rather than haggled over the issue, Dr. Hofmann suggested to his publishers that they seek the opinion of an esteemed university professor, Frau Professor Dr. Annemarie Schimmel, who was based, then, in Cologne. Widely respected in German academic circles, Dr. Schimmel was a leading authority on Islamic studies. She was also, as it happened, not Muslim.

When Dr. Schimmel received the ambassador's manuscript, she read it in one night and was so favorably inclined that she wrote a nine-page introduction to the work before returning it to the publishers.

Son of a professor of mathematics and physics, Dr. Hofmann grew up to be a young man as diversified in interests and natural curiosity as his father--a man who besides being a serious scholar also painted in watercolors and played first violin with the local symphony orchestra. Wilfreid Hofmann, later to be known as Murad Hofmann, spent around 20 years in his own early career as a ballet critic, writing for such publications as Dance News, ballet Today and Germany's Dance Archives (Tanz Archive). He divided his time between new York, London, Paris and Germany, married to an American woman by whom he had one son. Dr. Hofmann is also a certified lawyer.

It was during his period as German vice consul at the Consulate General in Algiers during the War of Independence that Dr. Hofmann had his first contact with Islam. Despite the uncertain, bloody times they lived through, Dr. Hofmann couldn't help noticing and being impressed by the patience of the Algerians. This was enough to set him reading the Holy Qur'an, which he would reread many times before deciding become a Muslim himself.

After the endorsement by Dr. Annemarie Schimmel and the exoneration ultimately given by the German Foreign Ministry and German Parliament, the publisher couldn't have been happier. "A blessing in disguise" is no mere figure of speech when it comes to the public attention that Dr. Hofmann's book received upon publication.

It was a great honor to meet Murad Hofmann.


by Dean Koontz
Edition: Paperback
86 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Koontz, October 29, 2013
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If you haven't read Dean Koontz's brand of Frankenstein, you have definitely missed something. I can't wait to read Book Three.

The Mayor of Casterbridge (Modern Library Classics)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (Modern Library Classics)
by Thomas Hardy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.10
133 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Chronicle of a man's worst feature: his anger, October 29, 2013
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This is one of the saddest (and most fascinating) novels I have ever read. I bought it after watching the Hallmark movie, which followed the story. I enjoyed both immensely.

Beau Brummell - This Charming Man
Beau Brummell - This Charming Man
DVD ~ James Purefoy
Price: $18.68
36 used & new from $9.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting Silhouette of a Historical Figure, November 22, 2012
As I write, this movie is available on Amazon Streaming, free for Prime Members. I enjoy period dramas and also like historical tidbits. After viewing the movie, which is very well done although it does, as some reviewers infer, concentrate on Brummel's personal failings as well as his fall from royal grace, I cannot help but wonder at the insinuation that the friendship with Lord Byron truly did Brummel in. James Purefoy seemed extremely well suited to the role of Brummel and brought a lot of character not just to Brummel's seductive nature but his weakness as well. My one problem is with the actor chosen for Lord Byron. Lord Byron was far more handsome, more dazzling, more magnetic than the actor who portrays him here, alas. The result is that the viewer tends to tense up, wishing Brummel not fall for a person who is clearly not played well. The message is not effective due to the casting mistake. On the other hand, the butler/cook/better half to Brummel is nobly rendered by Philip Davis, a marvelous actor. Hugh Bonneville is of course a most adept player.

The Dream of the Celt: A Novel
The Dream of the Celt: A Novel
by Mario Vargas Llosa
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.64
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel that Burns through to the very Core of Conscience, November 21, 2012
In The Dream of the Celt, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa deals with the issues that clouded Irish nationalist Roger Casement's life, making of him first hero, then traitor. The author received a Nobel Prize in Literature for this imagined life and it is not hard to see why: these are the same issues that drive the human dilemma onwards. When a person is executed, history tends to recall that individual by final crime, not by preceding acts of goodness. Roger Casement's life magnifies the discrepancies of this practice. Casement sacrificed his career and health for human rights, bringing to light the heinous oppression of natives of the Congo and the Amazonian rain forest in the Western pursuit of easy profiteering of rubber. For his dedication, he was knighted by the country he served, Great Britain. Intimate exposure to the torture of colonialized people caused inner upheaval, so that he dedicated the remainder of his life to freeing his own people, the Irish, from the rule of their colonizers. The timing was critical. There was only one strong power not allied to Britain, and to that power--Germany--Casement turned during WWI, justifying the means by the end. We can best understand his execution in the light of wartime and the difficulty of forgiveness.

Born in Dublin in 1864, Roger Casement was the youngest of four children. His father was an army captain in whose exotic tales of service in India and Afghanistan little Roger delighted. As a Puritanical military man, Captain Roger Casement did not allow his wife to coddle their offspring. Anne Jephson (who converted to Puritanism to marry), baptized her children Catholics in secret, Roger at the age of four, and lavished affection, likewise, in secret. Secrets, early on, were pivotal to Roger's reality.

He was the kind of boy to make any parent proud: smart and capable, an athlete who was a great swimmer and could beat children even older than he in races. When Roger was nine years old, his mother died. The trauma of losing his secret love caused temporary loss of speech for the child. Equally consequential was the abandonment by the seemingly strong military father. The unwritten belief of those who obey rules is that they will be rewarded for so doing, or at the least, not abandoned. The father who had shown no marked uxorious nature fell apart. A child as young as nine might not have drawn the link to love enjoyed and lavished in secret, but an older person, reflecting, would surely. The betrayal and collapse in meaning of Captain Roger Casement Sr, authority figure who had used the whip to punish misdeeds in his children, was on more than one level. He sent his children to their paternal great-uncle, John Casement, and his wife, Charlotte, who henceforth stood in as family and raised the children. The strength behind the whip was sheer façade: Captain Casement Roger went half mad with grief and used mediums and crystal balls to attempt to communicate with his dead wife. John Casement occasionally let these details slip.

Roger Casement lost himself in studies of languages and history, devouring books on foreign lands. He naturally reveled in tales of explorers and adventurers like Henry Morton Stanley, the man who allegedly located the missing altruist, Dr. Livingstone, in Africa. Meanwhile, Casement got a job as a teen in the shipping company in which his Uncle Edward worked. He made a few trips to West Africa and finally relocated there, to labor idealistically for years, believing he was bringing faith, civilization and order to a primitive land.

Roger Casement bought into the myth of Stanley as a Western altruist akin to Livingstone until he actually met Stanley, journeying deep into Africa with him, and witnessing what the latter was doing with his own eyes. In the name of the "humanitarian" King Leopold II of Belgium, to whom western powers at the Berlin Conference of 1885 granted two and a half million square kilometers of Africa after the fact, Stanley "came and went through Africa, on one hand sowing desolation and death--burning and looting villages, shooting natives, flaying the backs of his porters with the chicotes made of strips of hippopotamus hide that left thousands of scars on ebony bodies [ . . . ] and on the other opening routes to commerce." The kind of commerce was of no benefit to the indigenous people, forced to sign contracts they did not understand and tyrannized for the sake of enriching their far off "benefactors" who were, apparently, unaware of that thugs and gangsters deprived the tribal people of life, limb, food and dignity in order to squeeze every drop of rubber out of the trees.

The whip, symbol of authority, must have eaten at Roger's psyche once he saw it and what it had wrought. The same instrument used to keep him and his siblings in line by the father who had abandoned and deprived them of much love, was being used to subjugate an entire nation. Roger's report horrified people of conscience in Great Britain and led to his being sent once more to verify the truth of rumors stretching, this time, from the rubber trade in the Amazon. The cruelty he encountered there was, if anything, more horrific.

Novelist Llosa makes absolutely no judgment about the disconnect between Roger Casement's selfless human rights efforts, frequently putting his own life into grave jeopardy, and the revelation of his alliance with Germany, which Casement sought in an attempt to help the Irish nationalist movement. Casement was arrested at the failed Easter Uprising, which he may, in fact, have been on his way to attempt to quell. At the same time, the "black" diaries, in which Casement wrote of his homosexual and pedophile activities, damned him in the eyes of the public and helped seal his fate.

The Dream of the Celt could not have been written at a better time. Readers, much as those famous individuals who did or did not sign the petition for clemency surrounding Casement's death sentence--must decide where they stand. If wrongdoing is unacceptable in so great a humanitarian as Roger Casement, what does that say about the rest of us? (Grassrootswritersguild at wordpress.)

Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell
Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell
by Darden Asbury Pyron
Edition: Paperback
62 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A "Belle" of a Biography, November 13, 2012
By the fall of 1936, a million Americans had read Gone with the Wind although it had not been out much less than a year. Need I say more to demonstrate proof of one great American novel? David Selznick found that the public was so fiercely possessive of Gone with the Wind (think Twilight in today's lingo) that he had to tread very diplomatically over the casting trail. "Never in the moving picture business has there been such a deluge of letters on the casting of a picture, not even in advance of the casting of David Copperfield," wrote Selznick.

Margaret Mitchell spent her life writing, yet she is known only for this one novel. It is enough. Silly rumors spread about her, after the fact, that she had been nothing but a bored housewife. That is nonsense. She was a journalist in her younger years and suffered from debilitating health problems. It took her ten years to write Gone with the Wind after tremendous research and those ten years were partly chalked up due to her illnesses--and her husband's. Sadly, she was struck down by a car at the age of 49 (1949)and died of brain damage five days later. Disputes over ambiguous contracts with publishers and foreign rights arguments tormented her final years.)

There are many reasons to be attracted to this well written biography. Besides the fact that Gone with the Wind won a Pulitzer prize for its author and returned to the bestseller list 50 years later, besides the fact that it sold a million copies (in the middle of the Depression),Pyron unequivocally demonstrates that Margaret Mitchell was one of the most qualified people to ever write about the Old South, not just as a researcher but as a blueblood. Her family roots trace deep into Atlanta history. In fact, Pyron points out, Gone with the Wind reflects Mitchell's own life and ancestry. Yet she was a fiery, dynamic feminist: the new Southern belle leaping out of the hoary bosom of the Old South.

Darden Ashbury Pyron addresses the over forty year old mistake of biographers and critics in having ignored Mitchell's contribution to literature. See grassrootswritersguild at wordpress for more on Margaret Mitchell.

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