MADreads

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A review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox

Margalit Fox has written an enthralling book about the decipherment of Linear B taking place over half a century from the discovery of the tablets to the conclusion by Michael Ventris in 1952. She starts with a 1900 excavation in Crete by Sir Arthur Evans. Her book looks at both Evans and Ventris but really seeks to give credit to the unsung scholar, Alice Kober, whose work paved the way for the inspired conclusion in 1952. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
March 31, 2014 | 0 comments
A review of The Humans by Matt Haig

His assignment is to take the place of Professor Andrew Martin, a professor at Cambridge University. Martin has solved a long standing mathematical problem, the Riemann hypothesis and in doing so, he could change not only the fate of Earth but that of the universe. He, it turns out, is not from Earth, but is a member of a hive-based culture many light years away, who has assumed the now deceased Andrew Martin's form. How far the information on the solution has spread will determine who else ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
March 11, 2014 | 0 comments
A review of Lucy by Ellen Feldman

A member of one of my book groups suggested that we read a slim novel she had read about Lucy Mercer, the "other woman" in FDR's marriage. We did so, with the proviso that we also then wanted to read a non-fiction book that covered at least some of the same time or people. Lucy by Ellen Feldman is a slim book told from Lucy's viewpoint, taking place primarily prior World War I ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
March 3, 2014 | 0 comments
A review of The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds by Philippa Langley

We all know Richard III really from the play by Shakespeare (and more recently in George R. R. Martin's retelling of the Wars of the Roses in Game of Thrones) as the horrible person whose thirst for power and a throne drove him to murder his nephews in the Tower. Or there are those who believe the previous statement is Tudor propaganda and look to Josephine Tey's novel ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
January 29, 2014 | 0 comments
A review of Last stand: Ted Turner's Quest to Save a Troubled Planet by Todd Wilkinson

Ted Turner still has an image for a lot of people as a maverick risk taker, aka Captain Outrageous at the helm of a yacht, marrying Jane Fonda, or starting up CNN. However, Wilkinson’s book gives a more balanced portrayal of who Ted Turner is now, how he got there and benefits greatly by the access and candor given the author by Turner, his family and friends over a long period of time. Turner himself traces the beginning of change to meeting Jacques Cousteau as he was starting up CNN. ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
October 24, 2013 | 0 comments
A review of The Last Policeman by Ben Winters

Hank Palace has always wanted to be a police detective and has realized his dream with a recent promotion in Concord, New Hampshire. However, the reason for the promotion has nothing to do with his abilities but rather the increasing number of vacancies in the force due to an impending intersection of Earth with an asteroid. Increasingly people are off finishing their bucket list, using drink or drugs to dull their fear, or ending their life in advance of the catastrophe. Hank’s new case is an ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
September 3, 2013 | 0 comments
A review of Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family--A Test of Will and Faith in World War I by Louisa Thomas

We live in a very polarized society these days, divided by politics, religion, economics, and more. Our political system is criticized as ineffective and combative but it does reflect the high divide found in the American people. And we tend to forget or ignore or not even realize that this type of polarization is not unique to our time. Thomas looks back at just one of those periods in American history by focusing on one family united in love and respect but increasingly divided by their ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
August 27, 2013 | 0 comments
A review of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck’s classic tale of the Dust Bowl migration to California focuses mostly on one family; the Joads and their travails. The author uses alternating chapters of exposition to put the reader inside the social and political background to his story, and in general this is so well done that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story. I often judge fiction by whether or not I am driven to find out more information about the history or background of either the author or the story, and this novel ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
August 19, 2013 | 0 comments
A review of Costume Design by Deborah Landis

Do you watch movies? How much are you affected by the clothing in the film? Or do you not even notice it unless something about it strikes the wrong note? Or are the costumes so gorgeous that you really don't notice the story or anything else? Landis’s beautiful book, part of the Film Craft series, is a wonderful book if you have answers to any of these questions. It includes brief biographies of award winning costume designers and in-depth interviews with them along with photographs and ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
October 23, 2012 | 0 comments
A review of Little Night by Luanne Rice

Clare and Anne are two sisters who grow up extremely close, used to protecting each other in the middle of their dysfunctional family. Rice opens the story with the younger sister, Clare, under arrest for the attempted homicide of her sister’s husband. The lies that send Clare to prison and separate the two sisters for the next twenty years mix with the lies and demands Anne and her husband place on their two children, shaping all of their lives.  Released from prison, Clare slowly regains ...read more

Reviewed by Liz - Alicia Ashman on
October 17, 2012 | 0 comments