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Joined 2 years, 1 month ago

Just another literary primate.

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Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief (2007, Penguin Books) 3 stars

The suave adventures of a gentleman rogue—a French Thomas Crown

Created by Maurice LeBlanc during …

An Early Gentleman Thief, and an Inspiration of Many that Followed

3 stars

Arsène Lupin is a gentleman burglar character first introduced in short stories by Maurice Leblanc that were published by the French magazine "Je sais tout" in 1905. The first nine stories are collected in this book, published in 1907. This book is in the public domain, so you can find it online for free. (I recommend Standard Ebooks, but you can also get it at Project Gutenberg.)

The Arsène Lupin stories were so popular that Leblanc continued writing more Lupin stories until 1939 (shortly before his death in 1941). Leblanc published a total of 24 books in the series.

The character has been adapted to movies, TV shows, stage shows, comic books, and video games. It has also inspired other characters. The most famous of these is the manga/anime character Lupin III, whom its creator (Kazuhiko Katō) describes as Arsène Lupin's grandson.

This book holds up fairly well. Some of …

The Silver Ships (Paperback, 2015, S.H. Jucha) 3 stars

Perfectly fine conventional space opera

3 stars

Content warning Only spoiling the first few chapters.

Eager (Paperback, 2019, Chelsea Green Publishing) 5 stars

In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that everything we think we know about what …

An underrated environmental hero gets some overdue respect

5 stars

This is, flat out, the best book I have read in the last ten years. Skip the rest of this review and go read the book.

Beavers are a keystone species. We need them. Our lives are worse off for having obliterated them from large swathes of North America.

Beavers once inhabited almost all of what is now Canada, Alaska, and the continental United States (except for most of Florida and the southwest deserts). It's hard to pin down an exact number, but the North American population of beavers before the invasion of European settlers was somewhere between 60 million and 400 million. The fur trade had almost made them extinct by the early 20th century. Fortunately, their numbers have recovered to some degree, and they are no longer in danger of extinction.

One problem is that their range has been tremendously reduced. They just don't exist in may parts …

A Peace to End All Peace (Paperback, 2009, Holt Paperbacks) 5 stars

David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies drew lines on an empty map that …

More thorough than I wanted

4 stars

This is a fat book about how the allies partitioned the Middle East for their own benefit at the end of World War I.

Its coverage almost exclusively centers on the British. It mentions the aspirations and motivations of the other powers, but that's there mostly to provide context for why the British did what they did. This is probably a flaw in the book. I don't have enough outside knowledge of this subject to know how much that matters. The British Empire was the biggest empire in the world at the time. It makes sense that they would have an out-sized influence upon the outcome.

I chose to read this book because I like to plug holes in my knowledge. Most people are content to go through life with a good understanding of a few things and a vague understanding of everything else. How can you do that, people? …

The Turn of the Screw (Thornes Classic Novels) (Paperback, 1996, Trans-Atlantic Publications) 1 star

The Turn of the Screw tells of a young governess sent to a country house …

The prose is scary

1 star

This is a ghost story written in 1898. The scariest thing about it is the prose. It's terrifying! Seriously. Stay away!

The thing is hard to untangle. It's written in an archaic writing style, with an excessively wordy backward sentence structure. If I hadn't been working so hard to understand the sentences, I probably would have been able to pay attention to the story.

It's about a governess who is hired by an absentee uncle to watch over his niece and nephew in a gothic house. No gothic house is complete without a ghost. This guy got a bargain when he bought this place. It has two ghosts!

This story commits one of the major sins that I occasionally see in books and (especially) movies. The governess can see the ghosts. The two kids can see the ghosts. They refuse to speak about it! They spend the whole book dancing …

Where The Crawdads Sing (2018, Penguin) 2 stars

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on …

These crawdads are singing a VERY slow song

2 stars

This isn't the type of book I would normally read. My book club selected it. I almost abandoned it at several points early on. It finally engaged me slightly about a third of the way in. It's very well written. I admired that the entire time I was reading it. But it was SLOW!

The book tells the story of Kya, the "Marsh Girl". Her family lives in a shack in a North Carolina marsh. At age 6, her mother and most of her family abandon her. By age 7, her father abandons her too. The book follows her as she fends for herself and grows to adulthood. There are some relationships along the way, if you like that sort of thing. There's even an incident that may or may not be a crime. The latter part of the book revolves around that.

Overall, I don't regret reading it. I …