Category Mixed Media Reviews

The Art of Star Wars

Product DetailsThe Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
By Phil Szostak
Abrams
Retail Price:  $40
Amazon Price: $24

Book Description:  Step inside the Lucasfilm art departments for the creation of fantastical worlds, unforgettable characters, and unimaginable creatures. The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will take you there, from the earliest gathering of artists and production designers at Lucasfilm headquarters in San Francisco to the fever pitch of production at Pinewood Studios to the conclusion of post-production at Industrial Light & Magic—all with unprecedented access. Exclusive interviews with the entire creative team impart fascinating insights in bringing director J. J. Abrams’s vision to life; unused “blue sky” concept art offers glimpses into roads not traveled.

Bursting with hundreds of stunning works of art, including production paintings, concept sketches, storyboards, blueprints, and matte paintings, this visual feast will delight Star Wars fans and cineastes for decades to come. The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the definitive expression of how the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga was dreamed into being.

Review

First of all, I need to say that this movie was awesome!  So I was very excited to get a copy of this book for review.  The content is amazing and it sits proudly on my coffee table for all my visitors to see.  The book is really well organized and includes many different aspects of the movie in an orderly fashion.  It is laid out in a timeline format which makes you feel like you were right there throughout the entire creative process.  This is much more than book of artwork.  While it includes production painting, concept sketches, storyboards, and blueprints it also is peppered with comments and interviews from the creative staff.  This is something that every Star War Fan will want to have in their collection!

~Reviewed by Sam A.

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    Periodic Tales

     

    Periodic Tales
    By Hugh Aldersey Williams
    Tantor
    Retail Price: $29.99

    Book Description:  Like the alphabet, the calendar, or the zodiac, the periodic table of the chemical elements has a permanent place in our imagination. But aside from the handful of common ones (iron, carbon, copper, gold), the elements themselves remain wrapped in mystery. We do not know what most of them look like, how they exist in nature, how they got their names, or of what use they are to us. Unlocking their astonishing secrets and colorful pasts, Periodic Tales is a passionate journey through mines and artists’ studios, to factories and cathedrals, into the woods and to the sea to discover the true stories of these fascinating but mysterious building blocks of the universe.

     

    Review

    I am not a “science guy” so I wasn’t sure that I would find this audiobook interesting.  However, it was given to me as a gift and I face long commutes everyday, so I thought I would give it a try.  I am really glad I did.  The audiobook was full of fascinating information and the narrator did a wonderful job in presenting the material in an interesting way.  You can tell the author is passionate about this topic and and is pleased to share it with his audience.  I learned so many interesting facts that help me to understand our world a little bit better.

    ~Reviewed by George C.

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      The 21st Century Art Book

      The 21st Century Art Book
      By The Editor Press Phaidon Edition
      Phaidon Press
      Retail Price $39.95
      Amazon Price: $29.38

      Book Description: 

      The 21st‐Century Art Book is an A‐to‐Z guide of contemporary artists featuring established art‐world figures – Maurizio Cattelan, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall – alongside rising stars of the next generations. Global in scope, the book features work from 50 countries across a variety of mediums, from painting, drawing, and sculpture to digital art, video installation, and performance.Each of the 280 artists included has a dedicated page pairing a significant artwork from his or her oeuvre with lively and informative text. An international directory of major art events along with a helpful glossary round out the package, making this both a must‐have resource and a beautifully illustrated celebration of contemporary art.

      Review

      This is a fantastic overview of 21st century art.  I am a newbie when it comes to understanding art. Contemporary art has become a favorite of mine and I wanted a good ‘overall’ book. This one delivers. It covers a wide range of topics and artwork, info on hundreds of painters, sculptors and photographers and a plethora of artwork photos.  This is a great book for those who, like me, who want a good starting place on the topic. I highly recommend this one!
      ~Reviewed by Rosie B.

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        Being Mortal(Unabridged)

        Product DetailsBeing Mortal(Unabridged)
        by Atul Gawande
        Macmillan Audio
        Retail Price $14.95
        Amazon Price: $14.95

        Book Description: 

        In Being Mortal, best-selling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: How medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

        Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

        Review

        Wow.  This book was enlightening.  I have aging parents and have a deep interest in the topic of elder care.  I want to make sure my parents are comfortable in their old age.  I want to repay them for all they have done me as their child by making sure they die with the greatest amount of dignity possible.  This audiobook was quite an eye opener for me about what really goes on in nursing facilities and other long term care facilities and how modern medicine sometimes fail those who need it most.  The author doesn’t spend time pointing fingers, he just lays out the truth for us to see, ponder, and then apply what we can to our own lives.  His words are honest, but sometimes hard to bear, but they spur us on to help give quality of life to those we love who are aging or suffering from terminal illness, helping them to end their stories on their own terms.   While I wouldn’t say this book is uplifting, I did find it comforting as it inspired me to do right by my parents.

        ~Reviewed by Pat C.

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          Zen Pencils

           

          Zen Pencils
          By Gaving Aung Than
          Andrews McMeel
          Retail Price $14.99
          Amazon Price: $12.78

          Book Description: 

          Zen Pencils is an exciting and unique new comic form that takes inspirational and famous quotations and adapts them into graphic stories. From icons like Confucius, Marie Curie, and Henry David Thoreau, to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, to contemporary notables like Ira Glass, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Neil Gaiman—their words are turned into sometimes heartwarming, sometimes sobering stories by cartoonist Gavin Aung Than. Be inspired, motivated, educated, and laugh as you read famous words as never before!

          Gavin Aung Than, an Australian graphic designer turned cartoonist, started the weekly Zen Pencils blog in February 2012. He describes his motivation for launching Zen Pencils: “I was working in the boring corporate graphic design industry for eight years before finally quitting at the end of 2011 to pursue my passion for illustration and cartooning. At my old job, when my boss wasn’t looking, I would waste time reading Wikipedia pages, mainly biographies about people whose lives were a lot more interesting than mine. Their stories and quotes eventually inspired me to leave my job to focus on what I really wanted to do. The idea of taking these inspiring quotes, combining them with my love of drawing and sharing them with others led to the creation of Zen Pencils.”

          Review

          This book by Gaving Aung Than was nothing short of inspirational….and genius!  He takes our favorite quotes and brings them to life with his graphic art and packaged it all in an easy to handle volume.  This was such a clever idea and it is very well done.  He did a fantastic job in picking the quotes he illustrates and presents us with timeless truths to visualize and ponder.  I was very impressed.

          Reviewed by J.Rose

           

           

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            A Delusion Of Satan

            A Delusion Of Satan
            By Frances Hill and Wanda McCaddon
            Tantor
            Retail Price $16.95
            Amazon Price: $13.79

            Book Description: 

            This acclaimed history illuminates the horrifying episode of Salem with visceral clarity, from those who fanned the crisis to satisfy personal vendettas to the four-year-old “witch” chained to a dank prison wall in darkness till she went mad. Antonia Fraser called it “a grisly read and an engrossing one.”

            Review

            This is a very informative and well-researched book about life amongst the early inhabitants of the greater Boston area,  and how these folks ended up imprisoning and murdering a number of their own.  Using information from many primary sources, the author tells the tale of the grisly trials and their aftermath.   It is a wonderfully detailed, and factual look into the context of the Salem Witch persecution.  The audio version only adds to the intrigue of the story as you feel the drumbeat of accusations and hallucinations that continued for months before, during, and after the Trials. If you want to immerse yourself in the world surrounding the Witch Trials, this is the audiobook for you.

            ~Reviewed by Dave H.

             

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              Empire of Cotton

              Emprie of Cotton
              By Sven Beckert
              Highbridge Audo
              Retail Price $35.00
              Amazon Price: $22.59

              Book Description: 

              The epic story of the rise and fall of the empire of cotton, its centrality to the world economy, and its making and remaking of global capitalism.

              Cotton is so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible, yet understanding its history is key to understanding the origins of modern capitalism. Sven Beckert’s rich, fascinating book tells the story of how, in a remarkably brief period, European entrepreneurs and powerful statesmen recast the world’s most significant manufacturing industry, combining imperial expansion and slave labor with new machines and wage workers to change the world. Here is the story of how, beginning well before the advent of machine production in the 1780s, these men captured ancient trades and skills in Asia, and combined them with the expropriation of lands in the Americas and the enslavement of African workers to crucially reshape the disparate realms of cotton that had existed for millennia, and how industrial capitalism gave birth to an empire, and how this force transformed the world.

              The empire of cotton was, from the beginning, a fulcrum of constant global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, workers and factory owners. Beckert makes clear how these forces ushered in the world of modern capitalism, including the vast wealth and disturbing inequalities that are with us today. The result is a book as unsettling as it is enlightening: a book that brilliantly weaves together the story of cotton with how the present global world came to exist.

              Review

              I have decided to expand my horizons by using my long commute to work to study different topics that I never seem to have time for.  In order to do this I’ve found some great audiobooks to listen to that increase my knowledge.  I chose Empire of Cotton because of it’s discussion of economic history.  The book focuses on the development of capitalism and analyzes how slave labor played a big part in the growth of capitalism in the United States and throughout the world.   This audiobook was interesting to listen to.  The author is an academic historian who has a personal history in the cotton industry and brings a lot of knowledge to the table.  Anyone seriously interested in economic history, cotton, or globalization will profit from reading (or in my case listening) to this book.

              ~Reviewed by Jerry W.

               

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                The Alliance

                The Alliance
                By Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh
                Blackstone Audio
                Retail Price $19.95
                Downpour Price:  11.96

                Book Description: 

                Introducing the new, realistic loyalty pact between employer and employee. – – The employer-employee relationship is broken, and managers face a seemingly impossible dilemma: the old model of guaranteed long-term employment no longer works in a business environment defined by continuous change, but neither does a system in which every employee acts like a free agent. – – The solution? Stop thinking of employees as either family or free agents. Think of them instead as allies. – – As a manager you want your employees to help transform the company for the future. And your employees want the firm to help transform their careers. But this win-win scenario will only happen if both sides trust each other enough to commit to mutual investment and mutual benefit. Sadly, trust in the business world is hovering at an all-time low. – – We can rebuild that lost trust with straight talk that recognizes the realities of the modern economy. So paradoxically, the alliance begins with managers acknowledging that great employees might leave the company, and with employees being honest about their own career aspirations. – – By putting this new alliance at the heart of your talent-management strategy, you’ll not only bring back trust, you’ll be able to recruit and retain the entrepreneurial individuals you need to adapt to a fast-changing world. – – These individuals – flexible, creative, and with a bias toward action – thrive when they’re on a specific ”tour of duty,” when they have a mission that’s mutually beneficial to employee and company that can be completed in a realistic period of time. – – Coauthored by the founder of LinkedIn, this bold but practical guide for managers and executives will give you the tools you need to recruit, manage, and retain the kind of employees who will make your company thrive in today’s world of constant innovation and fast-paced change.

                Review

                This book is a how-to about managing employees in both large and small company settings.  Since people view work differently and no longer stay loyal to the company like in the past, the authors look at ways to retain and acquire new talent for your organization.   The authors bring much to the table including how to manage people with respect, lending them to greater company loyalty while they are with you and when they leave.  This is all about reframing relationships with team members.  This was an excellent book to listen to on my commute to work

                ~Reviewed by John C.

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                  It Happened One Wedding (FBI/US Attorney)

                  Product DetailsIt Happend One Wedding (FBI/US Attorney)
                  by Julie James
                  Tantor
                  Retail Price $29.99
                  Amazon Price: $21.77

                  Book Description: 

                  After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, Sidney is thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are . . .

                  Special agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney’s refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can’t live without.

                  Review

                  This was an interesting romance novel that used wry humor, captivating dialogue, well-developed and interesting characters, and surprising but believable plot twists to tell the tale love and romance.  James doesn’t write about “pie in the sky”, unrealistic romantic scenerios, but her plot is realistic and down to earth.  As you follow this love story you will find yourself rooting for the perfect ending, but not quite sure if it will actually end up that way.  The narrator Karen White does a great job relaying the story so it made it easy to listen to.

                  ~Reviewed by Ally B.

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                    More Awesome Than Money

                    More Awesome Than Money
                    by Jim Dwyer
                    Tantor
                    Retail Price $27.95
                    Amazon Price: $20.93


                    Book Description: 

                    Their idea was simple. Four NYU undergrads wanted to build a social network that would allow users to control their personal data, instead of surrendering it to big businesses like Facebook. They called it Diaspora. In days, they raised $200,000, and reporters, venture capitalists, and the digital community’s most legendary figures
                    were soon monitoring their progress. Max dreamed of being a CEO. Ilya was the idealist. Dan coded like a pro, and Rafi tried to keep them all on track. But as the months passed and the money ran out, the Diaspora Four fell victim to errors, bad decisions, and their own hubris. In November 2011, Ilya committed suicide.

                    Diaspora has been tech news since day one, but the story reaches far beyond Silicon Valley to the now urgent issues about the future of the Internet. With the cooperation of the surviving partners, New York Times bestselling author Jim Dwyer tells a riveting story of four ambitious and naive young men who tried to rebottle the genie of personal privacy—and paid the ultimate price.

                    Review

                    This is an excellent book and made for enjoyable listening on my work commute.  It is the story of four Techie NYU students with high ideals that undertake a project to create a social network that will protect the privacy of its participants, but are overwhelmed by their own personal tragedy. Even though these guys didn’t become a traditional success , their story is captivating and there is much to learn from it.  I highly recommend it.

                    ~Reviewed by Brian S.

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