Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Quick History of the Easter Egg

Easter Egg Tradition

Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

The egg has long been a symbol of 'fertility', 'rebirth' and 'the beginning'. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg.

With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. Some Christians regarded the egg as a symbol for the stone being rolled from the sepulchre.

Eggs as an Easter Gift

The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colours with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers.
 
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the manufacture of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The Victorians had cardboard, 'plush' and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates. The ultimate egg-shaped Easter gifts must have been the fabulous jewelled creations of Carl Fabergé made during the 19th century for the Russian Czar and Czarina, now precious museum pieces.
 
Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass-producing moulded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs must have been painstaking, as the moulds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Remarkable Memoir

 


Working Stiff tells the story of a young Medical Forensic Examiner in her first two years of training in NYC. Judy Melinek does not hold back in this memoirs and the result is a fascinating and heart felt look into her life and profession. At times this book had me in tears as I read some of the cases she had to work on.

Yes she has some very firm views on suicide that may not sit comfortable with some of the audience. But with her personal experience in this matter one cannot blame her for that view.

What I truly found humbling about this book was how she wrote about her experience with the 9-11 tragedy. She did not down play its horror but neither did she allow it to dominate the book or overshadow the everyday tragedies she bore witness to. The couple of chapters dedicated to 9-11 where harrowing and some of the images that where conjured up in my imagination will stay with me for a very long time.

Overall Working Stiff delivers a deeply personal account of one Doctors induction into the world of Forensic Medical Examiners. I for one thank the author for giving us a view into this very difficult and technical line of work and the impact it has personally on her.
 
4.5 Stars


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Hell To Read

 
 
This is the second book this year I have not been able to finish. The book started off well enough giving a great overview of the Gulag system in Siberia. It gave very good insight into the reason behind setting these camps up in some of the most inhospitable places in the world.

So where did it all go wrong? For me it was the referencing system used in this book. It made no sense and made the read so frustrating that in the end I gave up. For example quite often he would write as “described in the book (9)”. This drove me so crazy I felt like pulling my hair out. It would have been bearable if (9) actually linked to the reference section so I could see what the book was. Sorry if I sound fussy, but really how hard would it have been to write the actual book title.

Apart from this the book started to wonder around the subject with no real clear direction. I hate not finishing a book but time reading time is at a premium for me at the moment.
   
 
1 Star  

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The End Of Evolution ?


The Atlantis Plague is the second offering from A.G Riddle in his Origin Mystery series. Like the first book A.G Riddle delivers a story full of twists and turns that keeps you engaged to the very last full stop.

What really impresses me about this book is how all the individual story threads are weaved into very strong tapestry worthy of the label epic. I was truly impressed at the depth of the narrative and the fullness of the world created by the author.

For me though, there was one glaring issued that kept me from giving five stars. Unlike a lot of other follow up books in series this one starts off exactly where the first book finished. Now that probably does not seem too many an issue. But for me those little tit-bits of back story so often used in the beginning of books in other series was missing. What this meant for me that it took a while for me to get back in the story as I felt I was playing catch-up.

With all that aside The Atlantis Plague is very fine example of intelligent and entertaining Science Fiction writing. I would encourage all to experience the Origin Series.
As an audiobook the narrator Stephen Bel Davies employs the perfect cadence that draws you right into the story. Running at 13 hrs. and 11 minutes I was surprised how quickly I finished this listen. I found myself listening to it as I brushed my teeth as I did the dishes. All signs to me of a great marriage of story and storytelling.
4 Headphones

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Fast Paced Thrill Ride


This is the second book I have read from this author, and like the first it delivers a great story from the get go. Rashad Freeman has  mastered the art of ending chapters on a cliff hanger that compel you to keep reading.

In this offering the author enters the crowded Post Apocalypse genre and manages to delivers a story that is fresh and engaging. True it does not break any new ground in this genre but the solid storyline and characters make for a very entertaining and suspense filled read.

If you want a fast paced thrilling read that screams entertainment then this is your book. I look forward to reading more of this series soon. 

4 Stars

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Hardly a Startling Read





I opened this book with much excitement as I was returning to one of my favourite periods of history the Cold War. The book cover promised startling revelations and I looked forward to gaining this new knowledge. What I got was far from startling it was what you would have expected both the USA and USSR to have been doing in the war of espionage.
While the stories told in this book where interesting I found myself getting lost in all the names and dates that pepper the pages. I found it hard to keep track of who was who. The author does do a good job in covering all the different tactics that where employed in espionage war. The book never reaches the point where I was compelled to keep reading on.

Overall a good read but it did not deliver in my opinion what was advertised on the cover. It did though leave for me an intriguing question, what happened to those inside sources and double agents that where never found. Do they still to this day sleep with one eye open hoping their past never sees the light of the day?
3 Stars

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Inside The Mob



Mafia Prince takes the reader into the secret world of La Cosa Nostra through one time mobster and FBI informant Phil "Crazy Phil" Leonetti. Phil does not hold back when describing the world he lived in and quite often you have to remind yourself that this is not fiction. The book is all the top Mafia movies rolled into one, being a cross between the Godfather and Goodfellas with a touch of the Sopranos.

What sets this book apart is that we see the transformation and realization of the author that there is more to life than the mob. This transformation see's him making a deal with the FBI after he his jailed for 40 years. This see's him becoming a rat and help bring down some of the biggest mobsters of the day. Now don't get me wrong this does not make him a saint, this is not a story of redemption. I am sure that under a different set of circumstances Leonetti would still be in the family.

As an Audiobook narrator L.J. Ganser delivers a great reading of the book. His accent is just right and is what you would imagine a mobster would sound like.

While this book delivers a fascinating read it does have a few features that ended up grating on me. This mainly being the constant repeating of phrases and facts, with a bit of editing these could have avoided. Overall though Mafia Prince deliver a very satisfying read and is a must for anyone with an interest in the American Mafia.

3.5 Headphones