Thursday, July 30, 2015

Philosophy in Action

The Just City
By Jo Walton

In Plato's Republic you'll find a template for a city intended to maximize justice among its inhabitants. If you're already falling asleep, don't worry. You don't have to be a philosophy major to enjoy this book. But author Jo Walton takes Plato's thought experiment and uses it to tell a story. What if the gods of Olympus were real and two of them decided to create a city and fill it with people who desire to follow Plato's guidelines? Would such a city succeed?

After setting the gears into action the goddess Athena and the god Apollo both take the form of children in the city so that they can see the experiment unfold. Their friends and teachers are taken from throughout history, some of them famous and some of them unknown, but all of them striving to do their best. Of course, the definition of what's best is different for mathematicians from the Renaissance and philosophers from the Information Age, so there are some bumps in the road. Then Athena brings Socrates into the city to to see what has been created from Plato's ideas and his own words. He begins asking questions and some cracks begin to appear in the idea-driven foundations of the city. How far are the gods willing to go with their human experiment? And how long will the humans agree to stay within the rules Plato gave?

As I said, this book doesn't require a philosophy degree, but it will definitely get you thinking. Check it out if you've pondered anything recently. Or if you think time-travelling gods might be fun to hang out with.

Review by Danny Hanbery

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review:  Her by Harriet Lane

One day Nina instantly recognizes Her, Emma, a woman who unknowingly has a profound influence on her life.  On a street on an ordinary day Nina fastens her attention and intention on finding a way into Emma’s world entering her life as unobtrusively as Emma did her decades ago.  On the surface this story unfolds as two very different women find connection despite the differences in the arcs of their lives. Beneath the surface of the bright promise of a budding friendship the psychopathic menace of Nina’s obsession with Emma grows slowly as poisonous memories of unspoken loss and withering contempt become laced with a desire for revenge.  The chapters alternate with Nina and Emma sharing their life experiences and record of their encounters most of which are descriptions of the same events.  Slowly the tension builds as barely remembered nuances are remembered by Emma and Nina’s inner fury builds to a shocking and unresolved conclusion. All I could murmur after reading this was….Oh my God…Oh my God…what a story.  This one is slow in spots, but subtle tension kept me reading,   wondering and hoping for a happy ending that I knew would not happen.  Harriet Lane’s prose is luminous and involving; delicious as it builds characters neither of which is truly likeable but who one longs to know more about.  Well worth your time if you enjoy slow and easy suspense.

Review by Karen 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Beyond The Spellman Files

If you haven't read the delightful mystery series The Spellman Files, put them on request now!

Lutz's new offering How To Start a Fire is a departure from the Spellman mystery series which concluded last year. Lutz began working on this book in 2006, right before she sold the first Spellman files book.

The story follows three friends (Anna, Kate, and George) who meet in college and keep in touch beyond their college years. The friends come from differing backgrounds and they each bring something unique to the friendship. They form a strong bond that is tested by jealousy, substance abuse, stubbornness and the passage of time. The description may appear to be chick lit, but the story goes deeper than most chick lit and is presented in a fresh way.

The narrative jumps back and forth through time which can be confusing but if you ignore the years on the chapter page the story is easily navigated.

Review by Cara