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Howard McEwen RSS Feed (Bellevue, KY)

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Cincinnati's Abandoned Subway
Cincinnati's Abandoned Subway
Price: $25.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hidden history lurks beneath Cincinnati’s streets, December 8, 2014
A hidden history lurks beneath Cincinnati’s streets.

A 2.2 mile tunnel that was supposed to serve as the Queen City’s subway. Conceived at the dawn the century, it was never realized as politics, corruption (but I repeat myself), economics and the innovation of the 20th century came to bear upon it. Eventually, it was abandoned. What had been built was buried, shuttered, locked up and re-purposed.

But on the remains of that 19th century wonder – the Erie Canal – parts of the subway still exist. Little locked doors around the downtown area serve as memorials. Unfortunately, they are access points not for commuters but for city workers using the space for purposes less grand and more mundane than shuttling commuters to work and home.

This is a well done documentary that tells the story of Cincinnati’s abandoned subway. It will appeal to more than Cincinnatians, however. It’s about more than the Queen City. It’s about an era that became the American Century.

The interview subjects chosen for this film were great. Each was very informative, enthusiastic and entertaining. They were good storytellers.

My suggestion: grab a map of downtown and the greater Cincinnati area while watching so you can follow along with the locations. And then go see the locations for yourself.

A Dash of Genius (Kindle Single)
A Dash of Genius (Kindle Single)
Price: $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Fortunately, I have some economics background and derived from ..., November 5, 2014
I wish someone would have edited this book. Being a kindle single, you'd think Amazon would have higher standards.

There are all kinds of errors that disrupt the reading. I'm 23% of the way in and came across "...Escoffier brought to mind what Maynard Keyes, the other man of the 20th-century, I most admired...

Who is Maynard Keyes? A quote is given. Fortunately, I have some economics background and derived from the quote he meant the economist John Maynard Keynes. You'd think since the author says he's one of his most admired men that he'd get the name right. Since he didn't, it made me question what else in the book was correct.

Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dive into Underlake. You'll find it waters comforting., April 29, 2014
This review is from: Underlake (Kindle Edition)
Katie Welch has become unmoored from our culture. While her friends hurl (or are they being hurled?) headlong into pre-mature adulthood, Katie is growing uncomfortable. She has that most horrible of teen angst: She doesn't 'fit in'.

She worried for her friends: "They were in such a rush to grow up that they were losing themselves. They lived so fast it scared her. Anxious to prove themselves sophisticated and self-determining, they ironically embraced one decadent teen stereotype after another. Katie had a sense of impending tragedy every time she thought about them."

Then one day, her mother whisked her to a summer at a lake house. Where, of course, she meets a boy.

Heavey's subject matter isn't anything that interests me. This is a Young Adult novel and I'm far from young. The same goes for her first novel, a paranormal romance, Night Machines. I'm not a romance reader. The thing is, I enjoyed both books.

Why? Because Kia Heavey can write and tell a good story. Which is what I look for in a novel. "Story" is often in short supply but unlike many plot driven novels, Heavey has a graceful prose. There's a central mystery too a character that is suspected but Kia is able to plot a nice kabuki dance with her story that you are just not quite sure what that mystery is. Her prose is ethereal in places which shines when her story goes other-worldly.

There is a long sequence where we know the lives of our characters have changed. There's very little action but lots of revelation but mostly simple, clean, beautiful writing that takes a reader along for several pages. It's remarkably effective.

Heavey have a strong point of view and is not shy about making some pointed commentary on today's society - as it effects both teenagers and adults - and especially the behavior of adults. She's also not shy about offering up solutions but nothing it too heavy-handed or off-putting.

Grab the book and Dive into Underlake. You'll find it waters comforting.

Moonraker (James Bond - Extended Series Book 3)
Moonraker (James Bond - Extended Series Book 3)
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars #3 is the best so far., January 3, 2014
Casino Royale is a long card game. Live and Let Die, I thought, a travelogue.

They were both good books but this was the first good yarn. To call it an action novel would be a disservice. Heck, Bond sits the entire first third of the novel. He goes through his mail, he meets with his boss, he plays cards. Then he goes around and mostly talks.

It’s a detective story, really — with a geopolitical mystery.

The classic Bond villain is brought to the attention of MI-6 by one simple thing:

‘I don’t know much more than you do. A wonderful story. Extraordinary man.’ He paused, reflecting. ‘There’s only one thing … ’

M. tapped the stem of his pipe against his teeth.

‘What’s that, sir?’ asked Bond.

M. seemed to make up his mind. He looked mildly across at Bond. ‘Sir Hugo Drax cheats at cards.’

From there, we launch into the story. What isn’t very film Bond about the villain is that he is entirely believable. There’s very little suspension of disbelief in this tale. In fact, it seems deadly plausible. As Bond notes, “These politicians can’t see that the atomic age has created the most deadly saboteur in the history of the world – the little man with the heavy suitcase.”

Live and Let Die (James Bond - Extended Series Book 2)
Live and Let Die (James Bond - Extended Series Book 2)
Price: $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A well-written thriller, December 20, 2013
I rarely read the ‘action’ or ‘thriller’ genre. And I’m not sure Live and Let Die would fall into that category anymore.

There is some action and there are thrills. However, these are a long time in coming. What you have before them is a travelogue and a whole lotta exposition. Bond travels by train from New York down to St. Petersburg to by boat to Haiti. We’re offered commentary on the sights and people along the way. Much of the action that occurs however is ‘off-screen’ as it were. A train is blown up, a friend is fed to sharks, and bond is told about it.

We’re also given a long excerpt from a book on voodoo and zombies which may have been useful in 1952, but not so much now.

However, that travelogue, is written wonderfully. It keeps the reader bouncing along. Today’s readers not only get a tour of America through the eyes of a Brit but also a tour of America in 1952.

There’s also a long section just before the final battle where Bone swims. It’s not a long swim but it’s underwater and is some of the best descriptive nature writing I’ve ever read. It’s written with so much grace and beauty, it’s, again, hard to think of it as a thriller book.

It is a thriller but it’s also good writing. In the end, there’s some shooting, people get beaten and things get blown up so don’t fear. It’s not all purple prose.

Day of Reckoning (Shadow Warriors Book 2)
Day of Reckoning (Shadow Warriors Book 2)
Price: $4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars What brings me back: Inventive plot, rapid fire narrative, reality-based insight, and his characters., November 18, 2013
In Pandora’s Grave, the first of the Shadow Warrior series, brave men found for their country in far off lands.

In Day of Reckoning, they have to fight at home. No only on U.S. soil against America’s enemies, but in their hearts and with their demons.

Re-reading my review of Stephen England’s Pandora’s Grave, I wrote that it would be a book that I would want to take into battle. Day of Reckoning is a novel I would want to take if I was ever on the run. A sense of isolation and desperation permeates the novel. It’s not just the isolation of man alone against seemingly overwhelming forces but of men who are alone in a crowded room. They are the men we task with doing the things we don’t want to know about and their doing of them sets them apart from us.

I’m not normally a thriller reader. But England’s inventive plots and rapid fire narrative draws me in. His reality-based insight into our current geopolitics compels me to read. His slow reveal of his characters keeps me intrigued.

One thing I appreciate is that the men are men - not super heroes or demigods. That’s a sign of respect for the men who actually do these jobs.

Spirit of Christmas (a novella)
Spirit of Christmas (a novella)
Price: $0.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfectly balanced, well-written Christmas story, October 15, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Here’s the problem I have with Christmas stories: they are either diabetes inducing saccharin sweet or they are weighed down by their earnestness.

“The Spirit of Christmas” is neither.

It’s a story told through the eyes of a eight year old Aidan. His family is going through some hard times which he senses. However, while the adult reader slowly starts to comprehend what those hard times are, young Aidan and his imagination manufactures a - quite reasonable - alternative to why is father is tense or his mother occasionally cries.

The trick author Kyle Andrews pulls that impressed me was having Aidan tell his story and being completely respectful of his eight year old thoughts and beliefs and feelings. The danger of making him a ‘little adult’ or simply stupid was strong. Others fall into it often. Not Andrews.

Instead what we get is a nice, realistic story that could be occurring all too often now-a-days with a nice O. Henry-esque twist ending.

I strongly recommend it be read this coming December.

Handcrafted Cocktails: The Mixologist's Guide to Classic Drinks for Morning, Noon & Night
Handcrafted Cocktails: The Mixologist's Guide to Classic Drinks for Morning, Noon & Night
by Molly Wellmann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.82
55 used & new from $4.19

5.0 out of 5 stars What? No frozen Margarita? :), August 19, 2013
With Handcrafted Cocktails, Molly Wellmann is doing for the cocktail book what she did for Cincinnati cocktail culture - reinvigorating it, recreating it, making it better, making it fun.

Several years ago my wife and I decided to get into cocktails. Basically, we were adults but couldn't order anything much beyond a Gin and Tonic or Rum and Coke. So we went to several bars to start educating ourselves and were quickly turned off. At that time, the state of cocktail culture in Cincinnati was, well, crap. They were horrible. Bartenders were ill-prepared, drinks were ill-mixed, and ingredients were ill-maintained.

So my wife and I went to a well-stock liquor store near our house, bought some cocktail books and bought some liquors and started mixing. We soon learned that local bartenders were doing a great disservice to their customers. With very little effort and expense, we made wonderful classic cocktails and then started creating our own. Then we shared them. We began hosting a series of successful cocktail parties at a private club downtown. We were humored by how surprised people were to taste a great cocktail.

During this time, a chef/restaurateur friend called me and said "You have to come in and meet this new bartender working here". His bar is a four to six seat arrangement that mainly serves the restaurant. After a few repeated calls from him, we finally made it in.

Behind the bar was a smiling, tattooed woman who proceeded to do wonderful things with our taste-buds. She mixed, she educated, she pushed us a little bit to try something different, she charmed. Soon enough, she then moved on to other bars and then her own bars and proceeded to do for Cincinnati what she did for us that night.

Other bars in town have stepped up their game in response to Molly's reviving/creating a cocktail culture in Cincinnati. Now, she's doing the same for the cocktail book.

The two great leaps forward Handcrafted Cocktails provides are instructions to make your own bitters and syrups. While I've seen this to a limited extent in other books, Molly includes homemade bitters and syrups extensively. This is one of the big reasons I like cocktails over, say, beer.. My beer lover friends - excluding home brewers to a degree - take what the bartender or brewery gives them. Cocktails have the wonderful feature of being able to tinker and tweak each glass to your mood and tastes. This is best done through different types and amounts of bitters and syrups.

Plus, on a historical note, it links the bartending profession back to its apothecary roots and his or her long-dead soda jerk cousins.

One bitters recipe she doesn't include is her tobacco bitters which she uses to make my favorite concoction she's introduced me to - The Marlboro Man. That caused me some pain.

Molly includes several classic cocktails but also many of her own creations (I believe) One downfall of the book is I would have liked to have heard more about how she created her own cocktails. I'm assuming the Van Voast is her own. Van Voast is a street one block over from that restaurant where my wife and I first met her. Or the Suddenly Seamore. I'm assuming a Little Shop of Horrors connection but....or the Paris Kentucky or St. Mary's Bell Ringer...

That's a small downfall and I'm sure if you have her mix you a drink and things are too busy, she'll tell you the background.

The text is written in a very straight-forward manner. It's direct and unadorned. It's American. From the introduction:

"It seemed that each bar I entered contained a conversation-killing television that continually flashed ESPN in patrons' faces. I don't know why, but to me, televisions in bars seem cheap and kind of rude."

Well put and well written.

In the section about bitters:

"I say if you enter a bar looking for a cocktail, be sure the establishment uses either Angostura bitters or Peychaud's Bitters. If it doesn't, turn around and walk away, or just get a beer."

I say pretty much the same thing when ordering a Manhattan and the bartender doesn't pull the vermouth out of the fridge.

What will I be doing for the next few months? I'll be doing the Julie/Julia routine working my way through Molly's bitters and syrups and tweaking and adjusting them as I make cocktails at home....and maybe planning some minor breaking and entering in an attempt to get that recipe for tobacco bitters.

You should do the same.

Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5) (Silo series)
Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5) (Silo series)
Price: $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Immersive, page turner, July 8, 2013
The highest compliment I can give this book is that I downloaded the first story on the way to a vacation destination and by the end of the week, I'd worked my way through all the stories of Wool and began the sequel.

While I found the writing adequate and sometimes clunky. Howey has a well-thought out view of the world he has created but more importantly, he structures his story in a completely different - and enjoyable - way.

This may stem from the fact that Wool I was a stand-alone short story that Howey built on after receiving plenty of fan mail. However, even then we are treated to episodes of different character's lives. It's not the interlocking, sweeping narrative of the novel. It's not a series of short-stories. To me, it's something new. It's something enjoyable and, I believe, only something that could be allowed in the world of the self-publisher and the ebook.

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition
Price: $9.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and beautiful, July 8, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There's not much I can write about this novella that would do it justice but I'll try.

It's lyrical and poetic and simple and beautiful. The prose is elegant and direct and there's a grace to every moment of it - even when the subject matter is a drinking,fighting or whores. Norman Maclean writes like Hemingway, if Hemingway had gained a bit of wisdom and dropped the over-arching need to prove something to his readers or himself.

It is, a great read. It's also a page-turner. I find it hard to read current 'liturature'. All the men in those books are usually college professors or some other 'doesn't sweat while working' profession that the author has had some contact with while getting his MFA. Maclean writes about men, plain and simple.

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