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L. Speyer's Profile

Customer Reviews: 26
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Helpful Votes: 126


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Reviews Written by
L. Speyer "Jinnayah" RSS Feed (Brighton MA)
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City of Exiles
City of Exiles
by Alec Nevala-Lee
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
31 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expansion, contraction, January 27, 2013
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_City of Exiles_ is a very absorbing read. The setpieces are fun, the action sequences make sense, the exposition is non-intrusive, and the construction is tidy and pleasing. I love the use of Jewish mysticism much as I loved the use of Sumerian mythology in Neal Stephenson's _Snow Crash_, and weird, awesome speculations about Ezekiel's and Daniel's visions are totally going on my list of things to learn about.

Unfortunately, it was hard to feel I was really getting to know any of the characters except Karvonnen and Powell. Alec has written on his weblog (11/30/2012) about choosing Rachel Wolfe as his protagonist as "falling in love with a Mormon," but his fascination doesn't come across on the page. And the role of Ilya Severin also seems less motivated than in _The Icon Thief_ -- sure, it's obvious for story reason why he's taking Wolfe into his confidence, but what's in it for him in his own calculations?

I enjoy this book, but hope to discover further depths from Alec's writings in his future works.


When Women Were Warriors Book II: A Journey of the Heart
When Women Were Warriors Book II: A Journey of the Heart
Price: $9.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's left out?, January 27, 2013
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In this second volume of WWWW, the short shrift given to men does somewhat bother me. They seem, at most, decorative in the lives of any of the important characters. I am also uncomfortable with how common mentor/mentee relationships include sex, be it loving or transactional.

On the other hand, the characters still have life in me, a few years after the reading. I am quite likely to buy the last volume, and I expect to be glad to have done so.

It puzzles me that Wilson so clearly wants to encourage adolescent girls and young women in developing both self-confidence and humility (personal and in community), yet punctuates with fairly descriptive lesbian sex scenes. Her advice is often insightful -- I ADORE and keep close to my own heart Namet's exhortation, "Some hearts break from grief and some from joy. Some even break from love. But hearts break because they are too small to contain the gifts life gives us. Your task will be to let your heart grow large enough not to break." But I can only imagine the sex puts her work completely out of reach in one way or another for much of the intended audience.


When Women Were Warriors Book I: The Warrior's Path
When Women Were Warriors Book I: The Warrior's Path
Price: $0.00

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Myths and truth, January 2, 2009
_When Women Were Warriors_ attempts to create a mythology based on female power to both give and take life. The setting is a traditional feudal culture based on herding and trading--and stories and family ties. The narrator and heroine is a girl aspiring to become a warrior who learns from her many teachers many skills of physical, psychological, and spiritual self-control. All in all the book is a sensitive exploration of ties that bind and the process of growing up. I think it could be a good book for girls learning themselves.


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost large enough for a "catch-all" bag, June 2, 2008
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Okay, I admit it: I am a pack rat AND a pack animal. Be that as it may, unlike a number of other reviewers of this product, I want the messenger bag BIGGER! I want it to take the place of my prior regular "amusements/necessities" bag + my purse. Purse + Kindle it does beautifully, and I love the organization. All I ask for is 1-1.5 inches more depth in the main pouch to give me room for another regular book in addition to my Kindle (and in addition to the contents of my purse). Oh, and a pouch of almost no depth on the back of the bag for single pieces of paper.

But I am accepting that carrying only one bag all day is worth the discarding of just a few conveniences. I love the lower zipper pouch for keys, and the other two outer pouches for my phone and PalmPilot. The main pouch holds writing implements, glasses, lipstick, wallet, &c. (I did have to side-grade to a narrower but taller wallet), and of course the Kindle in the inner pouch!

Finally, I have to admit that getting my Kindle a special carrying case makes my heart all tingly. Ah consumerism ... And, as one negative reviewer noted, only the outer flaps are leather, but the rest is sturdy canvas that I *trust*.


Shakespeare's Sonnets (Wiley Blackwell Introductions to Literature)
Shakespeare's Sonnets (Wiley Blackwell Introductions to Literature)
Price: $39.85

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For those who know, May 23, 2008
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Callaghan hops around the sonnets willy-nilly, drawing out intriguing themes. I'm not sure this volume counts as an "introduction," though: I feel nearly as confused and overwhelmed by the whole many sonnets now as before. When I've read the source material another five times, annotations and all, maybe Callaghan will feel introductory. Until then, I can only hope some of the spaghetti sticks to the wall.


Kiln People (The Kiln Books)
Kiln People (The Kiln Books)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great conceit, May 23, 2008
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_Kiln People_ is born (baked?) of the thought experiment, what if each consciousness could live multiple lives in parallel? Like much great fantasy and science fiction, the (very successful) gimmick seems to me at heart a metaphor-made-flesh for important, subtle human drives. This gimmick, the art of duplication and reabsorption of souls and memories, also already exists in the real world. It's called READING.

We readers all live many lives, learn from many experiences. This book is an experience worth taking back into your consciousness. The plot hangs on an at-first simple detective story that becomes a tightly wound conspiracy, then spirals out into quite something else. I would say it starts Raymond Chandler, then by way of Philip K. Dick becomes Alfred Bester at the end. And yeah, it's *that* cool.


In Search of the Promised Land: A Slave Family in the Old South (New Narratives in American History)
In Search of the Promised Land: A Slave Family in the Old South (New Narratives in American History)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An extended yet focused case study, May 20, 2008
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_Promised Land_ does indeed cover an interesting family. The true tales of the Thomas clan, descendents of a "semi-free" entrepreneuring slave in mid-ninteenth-century Nashville, have the potential to enlarge the boundaries of our imagination of American history. The telling is another matter: far less imaginative. Much of what one learns in _Promised Land_ one could get more amusingly and emotionally wrenchingly from Edward Jones's _The Known World_. If one prefers history in non-fiction, though, _Promised Land_ is a good bet.


Kindle: Amazon's Original Wireless Reading Device (1st generation)
Kindle: Amazon's Original Wireless Reading Device (1st generation)
3 used & new from $242.00

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we hold the future in our hands?, May 20, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I love almost entirely everything about my Kindle, or "The Guide, Mark II" as I like to call it. (A sort of electronic book with immediate access to a spottily reliable encyclopedia--this IS the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!) For big readers, especially those who like to have lots of options, this may very well be The Future.

The Yahoo group KindleKorner features many people with lots to say about stretching the Kindle's capabilities, and I have no doubt Amazon and hackers alike will stretch this device far and wide in years to come. But my needs are simple. I want to read everywhere and all the time. And the Kindle gives me that option.

I also want to switch between books sometimes after just a few pages, to bring along documents my friends send me, to electronically sample books as if I were flipping through volumes in a bookstore. Amazon has thought of that, too. Kindle is perfect for *my* kind of reader, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to those whose hearts leap.


The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey Between Worlds
The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey Between Worlds

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Everything is hyperlinked, May 20, 2008
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A short, pleasing essay on the different strands that inform our lives, which we weave into our consciousness. Rosen speaks often of personal things, but stays more on the philosophical level in his overall writing. The reader comes away knowing more about his analytical tendencies than his own history.

I agree with the author that the Internet is a powerful metaphor for the interconnectedness of life. The Talmud, in its turn, may indeed be the original "hyperlinked" document, and I smile in wonder at the thought of trying to bring the full complexity of life to a sheaf of written pages, as (I hear) the Talmud aspires to do. In these days, can we all create our own Talmuds from the Internet, interconnected references to explain our lives? But if they are all individual, then what culture remains in common? Rosen addresses these questions briefly and with grace.


The Master Butchers Singing Club
The Master Butchers Singing Club
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Balance, May 20, 2008
It is some time since I have read _Master Butchers_, so forgive the fuzziness of memory, with the events perhaps confused, perhaps enlarged in significance or perhaps simply lost. I couldn't even finish the book. I loved reading it, but I simply became too worried when, with under 20 pages to go, *major* events were still unfolding. I wasn't sure I could take whatever denouement Erdrich had in store!

The major characters in _Master Butchers_ come from very different backgrounds and approach their lives' trials with different aims, strengths, and failings. Often their interactions with each other are monstrously hard to parse, for they have obviously different significances to each participant. Several main characters are never close to fully defined. The reader observes almost as if a minor character, less "inside the heads" of the movers and shakers of the tale.

For my part, I was taken in by Erdrich's storytelling several books previously, yet _Master Butchers_ marks perhaps the first time I fell in love almost immediately with a character of hers, wishing both to shelter under his strength and personally to will his success. I knew enough of Erdrich to know that a great character comes with no guarantee of longevity or ultimate likability. I'll admit to getting lucky in those respects with Fidelis: other characters with a similar immediate impact become only farther from focus over the course of the story.

It's not a very linear story, by the way. There are many different strands that twine and then separate again. It's almost like what one sees of another's life.


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