Books

The Four Horsemen by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett.

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Title: The Four Horsemen: The Conversation That Sparked an Atheist Revolution.
Author: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett (foreword by Stephen Fry).
Genre: Non-fiction, debate, religion, philosophy.
Country: U.K.
Language: English.
Publication Date: Conversation 2007, transcribed into this volume and essays added in 2019.
Summary: At the dawn of the new atheist movement, the thinkers who became known as “the four horsemen,” the heralds of religion's unraveling, sat down together over cocktails. What followed was a rigorous, path-breaking, and enthralling exchange. This is the transcript of that conversation, augmented by material from the living participants. These 3 essays, followed by the discussion (and introduced by Stephen Fry), mark the evolution of their thinking and highlight particularly resonant aspects of this epic exchange. Each man contends with the most fundamental questions of human existence while challenging the others to articulate their own stance on God and religion, cultural criticism, spirituality, debate with people of faith, and the components of a truly ethical life. The Foreword by Stephen Fry introduces the four main personages and the contribution they have made, together and individually through their books, on the debate of how religion affects our lives - from policy making to personal integrity. In The Hubris of Religion, The Humility of Science, and the Intellectual and Moral Courage of Atheism by Richard Dawkins, the author highlights the amount of made-up inaccuracies in religion as contrasted to science, which loves and strives to answer the mysteries of the world through scientific process and logic, and the moral courage one must possess to be a true atheist. Letting the Neighbours Know by Daniel D. Dennett encourages people to let others in on their beliefs, and while arguing against illuminating churches and houses of worship, proposes to re-purpose and bring them about to a more truthful and logical "dogma". In In Good Company by Sam Harris, Harris talks about the passed-on Christopher Hitchens, as well as the other Horsemen, and their legacy of truth, and underlines the courage and moral fortitude that an atheist possesses when he lives an honourable and honest good life.

My rating: 8/10.
My review:

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Books

Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie.

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Title: Poirot Investigates.
Author: Agatha Christie.
Genre: Fiction, literature, mystery, short stories, detective fiction, crime, humour.
Country: U.K.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1924 (American version with last 3 stories added 1925).
Summary: This collection includes 14 short stories detailing exploits and cases of Hercule Poirot. In The Adventure of the Western Star, Poirot and Hastings are faced with the mystery of the movie star and the missing diamond. In The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor, Poirot and Hastings investigate a case of suicide that may or may not be murder. In The Adventure of the Cheap Flat, Poirot chooses to look into the case when one of Hastings's friends is shocked to have rented am absurdly cheap flat. The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge is a story of a suspicions death in a locked gun room. In The Million Dollar Bond Robbery, a million dollar bond is stolen on a sea journey, but even though they're sold shortly after the boat docks, there is no trace of it ever having been taken ashore. In The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb, Poirot and Hastings investigate a series of deaths that appear to have been caused by a cursed pharaoh's tomb. The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan is a story of a stolen jewel that appears open-and-shut, but for the ingenuity of the robbers. In The Kidnapped Prime Minister, towards the end of WWI, Poirot and Hastings are time-pressed to locate the abducted prime minister before his absence causes an international disaster. In The Disappearance of Dr. Davenheim, Poirot makes a bet with Inspector Japp that he can solve the confusing case of the missing banker in one week. The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman sees Poirot and Hastings summoned by a telephone call of a dying man, the discovery of whose brutal murder on their arrival becomes a new and mysterious case. In The Case of the Missing Will, a young woman seeks Poirot's help to solve a scavenger hunt her late uncle left for her in order to find (and thus deserve) his large inheritance. In The Veiled Lady, a beautiful woman calls upon Poirot to retrieve a letter from a man who is black-mailing her that would end her engagement if discovered, but Poirot quickly finds all is not as it seems in the seemingly simple case.

My rating: 8/10.
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Books

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.

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Title: James and the Giant Peach.
Author: Roald Dahl (illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert)
Genre: Fiction, literature, children's lit, YA, adventure.
Country: U.K.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1961.
Summary: Were the green, glowing crystals the little man gave James really magic? Maybe, but it was magic lost to James when he tripped and spilled the crystals by the old peach tree. Now it looked like he'd never escape his hideous aunts. But what was happening to that peach at the top of the tree? It was growing bigger and bigger... it was as big as a house! And when James crawled inside, he met a houseful of friends: giant Grasshopper, Ladybug, Centipede, and more. Then with one snip of the stem, the peach was rolling away—and marvelous things started happening...

My rating: 9/10.
My review:

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Books

How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired by Dany Laferrière (translated by David Homel).

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Title: How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired.
Author: Dany Laferrière (translated by David Homel).
Genre: Fiction, literature, race, immigration, sexuality, writing, autobiographical fiction.
Country: Canada.
Language: French.
Publication Date: 1985.
Summary: Brilliant and tense, the autobiographical novel is narrated by a young Haitian man who has recently immigrated to North America. Written with wry humour, the narrator wanders the streets and slums of Montreal, eats, drinks and has sex, and writes a book to save his life. This is a novel about the situation of—and society's fascination with—the modern North American black man.

My rating: 8/10.
My review:

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Books

Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau (translated by Rosamond Lehmann).

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Title: Les Enfants Terribles.
Author: Jean Cocteau (translated by Rosamond Lehmann).
Genre: Fiction, literature, bildingsroman, mental health, suicide.
Country: France.
Language: French.
Publication Date: 1929.
Summary: Paul and Elisabeth sleep in the same room, and it is the room which is important: whatever they do and wherever they go – Elisabeth tending her "poor, sick mother" until she dies and then marrying, Paul worshipping a fellow student and then an unfortunate friend of his sister's who resembles him – the room contains them and the "Game" controls them. Isolated from the world, the siblings build themselves a private world out of the shared room and their own unbridled fantasies. But what starts as a competitive and cruel childhood game evolves over the years for Paul and Elisabeth into a drug too magical to resist. A

My rating: 9/10.
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Books

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks.

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Title: The Wedding.
Author: Nicholas Sparks.
Genre: Fiction, chick-lit, romance.
Country: U.S.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 2003.
Summary: After thirty years of marriage, Wilson Lewis, son-in-law of Allie and Noah Calhoun, is forced to admit that the romance has gone out of his marriage. Despite the shining example of Allie and Noah's marriage, Wilson is himself a man unable to easily express his emotions. A successful estate attorney, he has provided well for his family, but now, with his daughter's upcoming wedding, he is forced to face the fact that he and Jane have grown apart, and she may not love him anymore. Now, with the memories of his in-laws' magnificent fifty-year love affair as his guide, Wilson struggles to find his way back into the heart of the woman he adores.

My rating: 5.5/10.
My review:

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Books

Books of Blood, Volume 6 by Clive Barker.

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Title: Books of Blood, Volume 6.
Author: Clive Barker.
Genre: Fiction, short stories, horror.
Country: U.K.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1985.
Summary: This book collects the sixth (of 6) volumes of Books of Blood and 5 short stories. In The Life of Death, after people start dying around her, Elaine comes to believe she has contracted a mysterious virus from a recent excavated plague tomb she visited, when she meets a man she comes firmly to believe is actually Death. In How Spoilers Bleed, a group of ruthless mercenaries in South America come to forcefully remove an Amazon tribe from their lands, until a shaman puts a curse on the group that soon begins to work its horrible magic. In Twilight at the Towers, after meeting with a defecting Russian spy, Ballard, a British spy stationed in Berlin is pulled into a deep conspiracy that turns out to involve him in dark and bloody ways he could never have imagined. In The Last Illusion, a private detective in New York is contacted for a strange request - to oversee a cremating of a recently deceased magician's body, but before long unexpectedly finds himself in a Faustian battle against horrifying forces. The Book of Blood (a postscript): On Jerusalem Street serves as a direct sequel to the very first story in the series, and the second book-end to it, describing the vessel of all the books of blood being hunted down by an assassin for his skin, but the assassin discovers perhaps too late that the dead have highways - it is the living that are lost.

My rating: 8/10.
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Books

There's a Hair in My Dirt!: A Worm Story by Gary Larson.

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Title: There's a Hair in My Dirt!: A Worm Story.
Author: Gary Larson.
Genre: Picture books, fiction, humour, satire.
Country: U.S.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1998.
Summary: It begins a few inches underground, when a young worm, during a typical family dinner, discovers there's a hair in his plate of dirt. He becomes rather upset, not just about his tainted meal, but about his entire miserable, wormy life. This, in turn, spurs his father to tell him a story--a story to inspire the children of invertebrates everywhere. And so Father Worm describes the saga of a fair young maiden and her adventuresome stroll through her favourite forest, a perambulator's paradise. It is a journey filled with mystery and magic. Or so she thinks.

My rating: 9/10
My review:

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Books

Books of Blood, Volume 4 by Clive Barker.

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Title: Books of Blood, Volume 4.
Author: Clive Barker.
Genre: Fiction, short stories, horror.
Country: U.K.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1985.
Summary: This book collects the fourth (of 6) volumes of Books of Blood and 5 short stories. In The Body Politic, unbeknownst to him, a bizarre revolution is brewing within Charlie's hands, and they have plans of expanding their ranks and conquering the world. In The Inhuman Condition, after beating up and stealing a puzzle of strange knots from a vagrant, Karney and his friends quickly realize the knots are binding demons, and releasing them will be the unwisest choice they ever make. In Revelations, while a ghostly couple returns to the motel where she murdered him thirty years ago to see if they can rewrite their tragic end, their story violently intertwines with Virginia, a psychic woman married to an overbearing preacher and their assistant stopping over at the motel to weather a bad storm. In Down, Satan!, a wealthy middle-aged businessman, Gregorius, who becomes depressed when he believes God has deserted him, comes up with a plan to build a horrific Hell on Earth to summon Satan, believing that God will then sweep him out of Satan's clutches and into his heavenly fold. In The Age of Desire, a young man becomes an experimental subject for a secret development of a new aphrodisiac, but the formula has horrible effects no one could have anticipated.

My rating: 8/10.
My review:

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Books

After Many Years: Twenty-One "Long-Lost" Stories by L.M. Montgomery.

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Title: After Many Years: Twenty-One "Long-Lost" Stories.
Author: L.M. Montgomery.
Genre: Fiction, literature, short stories.
Country: Canada.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1900, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1918, 1919, 1921, 1923, 1926, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1939 (this collection 2017).
Summary: A collection of 21 short stories that have never been re-printed since their initial periodicals. In The Chivers Light (1900) (originally published under the title The Glenn's Light), against his father's instructions, Jack leaves the lighthouse he's responsible for and goes to the mainland, but is horrified to find out he is unable to get back in time when the weather takes the turn for the worse. In Elvie's Necklace (1906), when Elvie loses a valuable gold chain, the local errand boy Dannie is blamed for it, but the culprits may just be the last ones anyone would expect. In What Happened at Brixley's (1906), a local bully and braggart is challenged to explore a haunted house, but there is a harsh lesson in store for him. In Janie's Bouquet (1907), a little girl's gesture of love and well-wishes helps an ailing young woman find purpose and a will to live. In Jean's Birthday Party, when one of the girls in class can't afford to have a birthday party, her friends decide to make the day special for her nonetheless. In Maggie's Kitten (1907), a little girl's beloved secret kitten may just have the power to mend a long-standing rift between two families. In The Old Homestead (1907), an elderly couple retires from quiet farm life to a life in a busy, bustling city, but their happiness about the fact may not be as sincere as they would each like the other to believe. In The Pineapple Apron (1908), rivalry and jealously rear their ugly heads when girlfriends compete over the most unique and difficult apron patterns. In How Bobby Got to the Picnic (1909), when Bobby is heartbroken that he is unable to go to a picnic for lack of appropriate dress clothes, his friend Frank learns a lesson in the beauty of sacrificing for those less fortunate. In Peter of the Lane, a grave old judge and a bold young boy form an unlikely but firm friendship, but unbeknownst to them both, they have something, or someone, in common. In For the Good of Anthony (1910), a woman decides to meddle in the affairs of her impetuous and unforgiving sister, when she realizes the latter is about to lose the love of her life to stubbornness and empty pride. Our Neighbours at the Tansy Patch (1918) is a story that describes a family's eccentric, amusing, and unexpectedly delightful neighbours at the spot where they spend their summers. In The Matchmaker (1919), a bored Mrs. Churchill engages in many lies and manipulations for a very thorough matchmaking scheme, but she has a huge shock in store for all her seemingly effective efforts. In The Bloom of May: The Story of an Old Apple Tree and Those Who Loved It (1921), a beautiful tree beloved by the whole neighbourhood for many years witnesses love and joy, as well as tragedy and heartbreak. Hill o' the Winds (1923) is a romance story of Romney Cooper and Dorcas Edgelow, and the many things like false pride, century-old family feuds, mischievous meddling little boys and silly aunts, that stand in their way. In Jim's House (1926), Margaret spends her vacation away from the city helping Jim make a perfect house for his future wife, whom he has awaited five years, but her happiness turns to regret when she realizes how strongly she grows to feel for Jim and the house they made together. The Mirror (1931) is a story of a magic mirror, and of a bride who looks into it an hour before her wedding to make chilling discoveries about her husband-to-be. In Tomorrow Comes (1934), little Judy lives a strict and miserable life at her grandmother's house, constantly reminded that her and her mother were unloved and abandoned by her father, but when Judy encounters a mysterious man in a house on an island that makes her heart tighten, the story she's been told her whole life suddenly unravels. In The Use of Her Legs (1936), when a woman who hasn't used her legs in ten years and refuses to be happy because of it is faced with a religious zealot, she experiences a personal miracle in a moment of great distress. In Janet's Rebellion (1938), sixteen-year-old Janet is sick and tired of wearing hand-me-down dresses all her life, and decides to do something about it on the day of a friend's wedding. In More Blessed to Give (1939), when a brilliant and beloved student can't afford to return to her last year at college, one of the wealthy girls in her class decides to find a way to help which would be accepted.

My rating: 7.5/10
My review:

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