Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Book 20: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed

TITLE: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed
AUTHOR: Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz
STARTED: March 28, 2005
FINISHED: April 3, 2005
PAGES: 184
GENRE: Political Science

FIRST SENTENCE: What will the spread of nuclear weapons do to the world?

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] If the nuclear balance of terror helped maintain the 'long peace' between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, will the spread of nuclear weapons to new states also help stabilize international relations in the future? In this increasingly complex world, how do issues such as global terrorism, missile defense, and the Indian-Pakistani conflict factor into the decisions states make about nuclear weapons? In The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed, two major international relations scholars resume their well-known dialog about these important questions, as well as others. Kenneth Waltz, the dean of realist theory in international relations, expands on his argument that "more may be better," contending that new nuclear states will use their acquired nuclear capabilities to deter threats and preserve peace. Scott Sagan, the leading proponent of organizational theories in international politics, continues to make the counterpoint that "more will be worse": novice nuclear states lack adequate organizational controls over their new weapons, which makes for a high risk of either deliberate of accidental nuclear war. The global community has long been fascinated by—as well as terrified of—nuclear weapons. This short and engaging book is required reading for citizens and statesmen, as well as scholars and students.

REASON FOR READING: For my "Politics and Military Strategy" class.

THOUGHTS: Not bad. The book actually made the debate interesting. However, I have been reading about nuclear war and nuclear weapons and nuclear races and nuclear arms talks that there were some points where I just wanted to claw my eyes out or fall asleep. Had this been the only book I was reading for this class I would have enjoyed it much more.

To me some of the arguments are obliterated by the fact that they apply only to states and not to non-state actors. The last chapter of the book was the best. That is because its arguments were the most relevant. It dealt with terrorists and nuclear weapons. I only wished the authors had explored that point more.

MISCELLANEOUS: The consistency and feel of the paper reminded me of a coloring book.

RATING: 5/10 [I didn't particularly like it or dislike it; mixed review]

CR: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
RN: The Care and Feeding of Pirates by Jennifer Ashley

Book 19: Slightly Dangerous

TITLE: Slightly Dangerous
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh
STARTED: March 28, 2005
FINISHED: March 31, 2005
PAGES: 365
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: "Your cheeks are looking alarmingly flushed, Christine," her mother remarked, setting her embroidery down in her lap the better to observe her daughter.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] All of London is abuzz over the imminent arrival of Wulfric Bedwyn, the reclusive, cold-as-ice Duke of Bewcastle, at the most glittering social event of the season. Some whisper of a tragic love affair. Others say he is so aloof and passionless that not even the greatest beauty could capture his attention. But on this dazzling afternoon, one woman did catch the duke's eye - and she was the only female in the room who wasn't even trying. Christine Derrick is intrigued by the handsome duke... all the more so when he invites her to become his mistress.

What red-blooded woman wouldn't enjoy a tumble in the bedsheets with a consummate lover - with no strings and no questions asked. An infuriating lady with very definite views on men, morals, and marriage, Christine confounds Wulfric at every turn. Yet even as the lone wolf of the Bedwyn clan vows to seduce her any way he can, something strange and wonderful is happening. Now for a man who thought he'd never lose his heart, nothing less than love will do.

REASON FOR READING: Conclusion to the series!

THOUGHTS: This book reminded me a lot of Pride and Prejudice. That was actually a good thing, it made me enjoy the book more. The lead character, Wulf, has been such a recluse of ice in the past books that it was actually nice to see who he was in this novel. I love wounded male leads in romance novels so this book satisfied me completely.

MISCELLANEOUS: I'm sad the series is over. Thank goodness there is a spin-off in the works.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Keep... in fact I'm stealing it from my roomie.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
RN: The Care & Feeding of Pirates by Jennifer Ashley

Monday, March 28, 2005

Book 18: National Security and the Nuclear Dilemma

TITLE: National Security and the Nuclear Dilemma
AUTHOR: Richard Smoke
STARTED: Sometime in September
FINISHED: March 25, 2005
GENRE:Political Science

FIRST SENTENCE: How has America tried to preserve its national security in the era of nuclear weapons?

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] This definitive survey examines the impact of nuclear weaponry on national security issues. Written by an experienced author and founder of the Peace and Common Security Institute in Berkeley, California, this text describes how current nuclear dilemmas have developed out of past choices and events. The final chapter of this chronologically organized text covers events that took place from 1985-1991, making the material relevant to the post-Cold War era.

REASON FOR READING: Assigned in my "Politics and Military Strategy" class.

THOUGHTS: Not bad for a subject that could have dulled me in a second. Smoke stays away from the overly technical and dry breakdown of the Cold War. Instead, his writing is clear, concise, and active. He explains nuclear weapons issues without preaching, being overly technical, or scaremongering. He just tells the facts. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the Cold War and nuclear weapons but wants to stay away from something that reads like a government manual.


KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Selling Back
RATING:6/10 [Good]

CR: Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
RN: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Book 17: Slightly Sinful

TITLE: Slightly Sinful
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh
STARTED: March 26, 2005
FINISHED: March 28, 2005
PAGES: 342
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: Having spent almost all of his twenty-five years in England and therefore isolated from most of the hostilities that had ravaged the rest of Europe since the rise to power of Napoléon Bonaparte, Lord Alleyne Bedwyn, third brother of the Duke of Bewcastle, had no personal experience of pitched battles.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Meet the Bedwyns - six brothers and sisters - men and women of passion and privilege, daring and sensuality....Enter their dazzling world of high society and breathtaking seduction...where each will seek love, fight temptation, and court scandal...and where Alleyne Bedwyn, the passionate middle son, is cut off from his past - only to find his future with a sinfully beautiful woman he will risk everything to love.

As the fires of war raged around him, Lord Alleyne Bedwyn was thrown from his horse and left for dead - only to awaken in the bedchamber of a ladies' brothel. Suddenly the dark, handsome diplomat has no memory of who he is or how he got there - yet of one thing he is certain: The angel who nurses him back to health is the woman he vows to make his own. But like him, Rachel York is not who she seems. A lovely young woman caught up in a desperate circumstance, she must devise a scheme to regain her stolen fortune. The dashing soldier she rescued from near-death could be her savior in disguise. There is just one condition: she must pose as his wife - a masquerade that will embroil them in a sinful scandal, where a man and a woman court impropriety with each daring step...with every taboo kiss that can turn passionate strangers into the truest of lovers.

REASON FOR READING: Second to last book in the series.

THOUGHTS: The book in itself was good. After reading the previous one, however, I spent most of my time thinking about how it would end. The tension that carried over from "Slightly Tempted" drove me nuts. The plot on this one was inventive for the "Fake Marriage" romance style. The side characters were the best part of the book. They gave the novel depth. Once again, the one liners were flying. This was perhaps one of the best books in the series.

MISCELLANEOUS: One more to go.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
RN: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Book 16: Slightly Tempted

TITLE: Slightly Tempted
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh
STARTED: March 23, 2005
FINISHED: March 26, 2005
PAGES: 356
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: It still felt somewhat strange to be part of a gathering of the crème de la crème of English society again and to hear the English language spoken by virtually everyone.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Meet the Bedwyns - six brothers and sisters - men and women of passion and privilege, daring and sensuality.

Enter their dazzling world of high society and breathtaking seduction...where each will seek love, fight temptation, and court scandal...and where Morgan Bedwyn, the willful youngest daughter, discovers that true love is a temptation no woman can - or should - resist.

Young. Ravishing. Exquisitely marriageable. From the moment he spies Lady Morgan Bedwyn across the glittering ballroom, Gervase Ashford, Earl of Rosthorn, knows he has found the perfect instrument of his revenge. But wedlock is not on the mind of the continent's most notorious rake. Nor is it of interest to the fiercely independent Lady Morgan herself...until one night of shocking intimacy erupts in a scandal that could make Gervase's vengeance all the sweeter. There is only one thing standing in his way: Morgan, who has achieved the impossible - she's melted his coolly guarded heart. For Gervase, only the marriage bed will do, but Morgan simply will not have him. Thus begins a sizzling courtship where two wary hearts are about to be undone by the most scandalous passion of all: glorious, all-consuming love.

REASON FOR READING: In the series... almost done.

THOUGHTS: The plot on this one was iffy (though it did kind of make fun of the French and that entertained me). The characters, however, were quite good. I think that is Balogh's strongest talent. She knows how to write characters that you like or love to hate. However, she could work on the names. Gervase? Come on.

MISCELLANEOUS: Two books left in the series. Boo.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Slightly Sinful by Mary Balogh
RN: Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Book 15: Slightly Scandalous

TITLE: Slightly Scandalous
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh
STARTED: March 20, 2005
FINISHED: March 23, 2005
PAGES: 374
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: By the time she went to bed, Lady Freyja Bedwyn was in about as bad a mood as it was possible to be in.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Meet the Bedwyns... six brothers and sisters men and women of passion and privilege, daring and sensuality. Enter their dazzling world of high society and breathtaking seduction... where each will seek love, fight temptation, and court scandal... and where Freyja Bedwyn, the wild-hearted daughter, meets her match in a man as passionate, reckless, and scandalous as she.

Growing up with four unruly brothers has made Freyja Bedwyn far bolder than most society ladies. From feisty manner to long, tumbling hair, Lady Freyja is pure fire, a woman who seeks both adventure and freedom.

Adventure soon finds her on a visit to Bath, when a handsome stranger bursts into Freyja's room and entreats her to hide him. His name is Joshua Moore, Marquess of Hallmere, a man with a hell-raising reputation of his own who is quickly intrigued by the independent beauty. So intrigued, in fact, that he makes her a surprising request: to pose as his fiancee and help thwart his family's matchmaking schemes. For two people determined to be free, it's the perfect plan...until passion blindsides them both. For as Joshua sets out to achieve his complete seduction of Freyja, a woman who has sworn off love is in danger of losing the one thing she never expected to give again: her heart...

REASON FOR READING: In the series... duh.

THOUGHTS: I hate Freya in the first few books. She kinda of grew on me in "her" book... probably because she reminded me of myself. This one of the weaker books in the series but still very good. The "play" between the two main characters was well balanced. Freya was all passion, in everything she does. Joshua was very nonchalant.

The plot revolved around a fake betrothal. That ploy is very overdone but Balogh made her characters interesting enough that it worked. The one-liners were the best part of the book.


RATING: 6/10 [Good]

CR: Slightly Tempted by Mary Balogh
RN: Slightly Sinful by Mary Balogh

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Book 14: Slightly Married

TITLE: Slightly Married
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh
STARTED: March 17, 2005
FINISHED: March 20, 2005
PAGES: 342
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: There was a shady dell slicing through the western side of the park at Ringwood Manor in in Oxfordshire.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Meet the Bedwyn... six brothers and sisters - men and women of passion and privilege, daring and sensuality.

Enter their dazzling world of high society and breathtaking seduction... where each will seek love, fight temptation, and court scandal... and where Aidan Bedwyn, the marriage - shy second son, discovers that matrimony may be the most seductive act of all.

Like all the Bedwyn men, Aidan has a reputation for cool arrogance. But this proud nobleman also possesses a loyal, passionate heart - and it is this fierce loyalty that has brought Colonel Lord Aidan to Ringwood Manor to honor a dying soldier's request. Having promised to comfort and protect the man's sister, Aidan never expected to find a headstrong, fiercely independent woman who wants no part of his protection... nor did he expect the feelings this beguiling creature would ignite in his guarded heart. And when a relative threatens to turn Eve out of her home, Aidan gallantly makes her an offer she can't refuse: marry him... if only to save her home. And now, as all of London breathlessly awaits the transformation of the new Lady Aidan Bedwyn, the strangest thing happens: With one touch, one searing embrace, Aidan and Eve's "business arrangement" is about to be transformed... into something slightly surprising.

REASON FOR READING: The "Slightly" series rocks!

THOUGHTS: I usually detest the "business arrangement turns to love" romance novels but Mary Balogh is quite talented. Aiden comes across and strong and loyal, but somehow seems befuddled and confused most of the time. It works though. Eve is unpredictable and bold but still remains the little country girl. Throw in some orphans and a brash housekeeper and you've got yourself and amusing story.

Balogh's writing style remains constant without turning dry. She also knows how to write dialog that is not overly cheesy... that is a must for any romance novel if you ask me.

MISCELLANEOUS: I have 5 books left in the series to read.

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Keep. I *heart* series.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

CR: Slightly Scandalous by Mary Balogh
RN: Slightly Tempted by Mary Balogh

Book Spree

I went to Barnes & Noble yesterday... twice. Bad idea. I went on a book buying spree. 10 books. $100. Not bad, not great... but my TBR pile is growing by leaps and bounds.

My haul:

1. Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare
2. Hard Day's Knight by Katie MacAlister
3. The Care and Feeding of Pirates by Jennifer Ashley
4. Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
5. Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
6. The Passion by Nicole Jordan
7. The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
8. So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
9. The Word Museum by Jeffrey Kacirk
10. The Battle of Mogadishu edited by Matt Eversmann and Dan Schilling

I am going to have fun with these.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Book 13: Kushiel's Dart

TITLE: Kushiel's Dart
AUTHOR: Jacqueline Carey
STARTED: February 25, 2005
FINISHED: March 17, 2005
PAGES: 901
GENRE: Fantasy

FIRST SENTENCE: Lest anyone should suppose that I am a cuckoo's child, got on the wrong side of the blanket by lusty peasant stock and sold into indenture in a shortfallen season, I may say that I am House-born and reared in the Night Court proper, for all the good it did me.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] "When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me." Phedre was the product of an ill-advised union. The daughter of a merchant prince's son and an adept of the Night Court, she was born into a society of courtesans who followed in the service of their angels. She was a flawed child with the mark of the devil.

Sold into indentured servitude by indifferent parents, she had little reason for hope. But hope would come in the form of a banned poet named Anafiel Delaunay, who would become her mentor. He wanted her for her mark; he knew what it meant and how he could use it. He taught Phedre to move within the royal halls virtually unseen -- to look, listen, and think. She learned to spy in places of power, and her greatest danger would be that eventually she would know too much.

REASON FOR READING: Rose gave it to me for Christmas and I needed and thick book to keep me entertained during my two transatlantic spring break flights.

THOUGHTS: This book was absolutely amazing. I did not what to expect because I rarely read fantasy. To be honest, I was slightly worried that I would despise it. The first few chapters were difficult for me to get in to. There were a gazillion names, plot lines, and details that were all being introduced at the same time. I had trouble keeping them all straight in my head (it didn't help that I was reading on an airplane). In the end, however, I grew to love the story and the characters.

Carey's characters are wholly developed and seem to be real people that just wrote themselves. They have flaws, the have loves, they have hates, they feel desire, needs, duties. They are real people, even if they live in a world that doesn't exist.

The plot of the novel is also intriguing. Politics, war, and sex. This book was right up my alley. It's hard to condense the plot into a few simple sentences so I won't even try. All I need to say is this book is worth the read. The characters are amazing. The plot is addictive. And the prose is sensual and smooth.

MISCELLANEOUS: Two more books in this series. Yippee!

KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Keep forever!
RATING: 9/10 [Excellent! Couldn't put it down]

CR: Slightly Married Mary Balogh
RN: Another book by Mary Balogh, but I have yet to decide which.