Friday, December 30, 2011

68. Zen For Beginners

By Judith Blackstone and Zoran Josipovic
Rated 4 Stars
Format:  Borrowed Book

This book is a quick, broad and quirky introduction to a complex issue.  A friend recommended this book to me and even went so far as to loan me his copy.  I like it.  It's not particularly something I am prepared at this time of my life to take very seriously, but I do find the book interesting and frankly it has a lot to recommend it.

Book Description:

Zen from its foundation in China of the 6th Century AD, has always been more than a religion. It is an intriguing system of principles and practice designed to give each individual the experience of eternity in a split second, the knowledge of divinity in every living thing. To create a book about Zen, however, is risky. It is one thing to describe the factual history of this exotic strain of Buddhism. It’s quite another to successfully convey the crazy wisdom of the Zen masters, their zany sense of their uncanny ability to pass on the experience of enlightenment to their students. The authors of Zen For Beginners have clearly overcome these considerable risks. The books uses an engaging mix of clear, informative writing and delightful illustrations to document the story of Zen from its impact on Chinese and Japanese culture to its influence on American writers such as Japanese culture to its influence on American writers such as Ginsberg and Kerouac.

66. The Cause, #23

By:  Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Rated 5 Stars
Format:  Kindle

I am still jumping around in the series and  am continuing to fill in the gaps I left in this series when I stopped reading the books in order and skipped to book 24.  It's been pretty interesting skipping around.  I ought to drive me nuts but somehow it's not bothering me.  I guess I need to adapt Lord Peter's family motto "As My Wimsey Takes Me"  But I really did want to know the back story of Venetia and Hazelmere and also how things turned out for Charlotte and Oliver.  I think The Hidden Shore, #19 is going to be my next read.  What a soap opera!

Book Description:

Venetia is on the brink of marrying Lord Hazelmere when she discovers he does not mean to allow her to continue training as a doctor. She calls the wedding off, and from being the talk of the Season becomes the scandal of the year. Estranged from family and friends, she needs all her determination to continue the fight. At Morland place George and Alfreda continue to spend on grandiose building schemes despite the threat of bankruptcy; while Henrietta's cold marriage to the ascetic Rector of Bishopthorpe brings her close to questioning her religion.

64. The Outcast, #21

By Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Rated 4.8 Stars
Format:  Kindle

This book mainly takes place in South Carolina during the time that immediately led up to the American Civil War and during it.

It answered a lot of questions in my mind regarding the American branch of the Morland's and how Ashley and Lennie who play such large roles in future books fit into the fabric of the overall story.

I rated it down just a slight bit because I thought that Benedict was a little bit of wimp.  But he was James's son after all. *shrug*

Book Description:

 At Morland Place, Benedict's peaceful life is overset when a mysterious orphan arrives. No-one can understand why he takes this waif into the household, but the strain his arrival causes forces Benedict to take the boy to America, to join his much-missed daughter Mary. There Benedict becomes enamoured of the Southern way of life, just as bitter civil war is about to destroy it forever.

67. The Campaigners, #14

By: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Rated 4.4 Stars
Format:  Kindle

With this book it became clear what I had skipped from book 12 to book to book 25 last year.  It was because of James.  He is a character that I disliked to intensely that he poisoned each book in which he was a character that I couldn't stand to read it.

In this book at hour 11:59 of his life he forgives himself himself for every stupid, rotten thing he did and naturally expects everyone else, especially Heloise to go along with it.  Heloise is so lame.

But James didn't play such a large role in this book as he had in the previous books and by skimming through the parts he was in I managed to enjoy the book in spite of him.  The rest of it was good.  Liked the battle scenes.  It was bloody but not as bloody as the Richard Sharpe book was and I liked the rest of the characters.

Book Description

 It is 1815, and Napoleon’s escape from Elba has convulsed Europe. The Allied Army is gathered in Flanders, and where the Army is, the fashionable world must follow. So Lucy and Heloise both take their daughters to Brussels for the most exhilarating season ever, and romance flourishes in the warlike atmosphere. Rosamund must finally come to terms with her feelings for her cousin Marcus, Sophie meets an enigmatic French major who may change her future, and Heloise renews acquaintance with a former suitor. The looming shadow of battle only makes the dancers whirl more feverishly, but when the army marches out to face the might of the French at Waterloo, one question is in every heart—which of them will not come back?