Reviews by pk
Great Steel Drum
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Who would have thought you could check out a steel drum from your library? What a fantastic opportunity.

The drum is about 15" in diameter, easy to set up and it comes with two mallets and a stand. The stand is short, so you'll want it on a table to play. You get a full octave, key of g. Sounds very nice - not like a toy instrument. What fun!
Excellent and still relevant
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Highly recommend this book. A boy wakes up, injured, unable to remember who he is. He doesn't understand the language of the people he meets, but he quickly learns it. The farm family that helps him doesn't understand him, either. What kind of fabric are his clothes made of? Why does he claim he can understand animal's thoughts? And how can he run so incredibly fast? Just exactly WHO is this boy? Everyone wants to know. And some automatically don't like him. As he rediscovers his identity, his adopted family works hard to keep him safe and get him back to his own family.

Though parts of this book feel a little heavy handed with the message, the main theme of accepting people as they are and not being afraid of those who are different is still relevant today.
Excellent Update of Science History Book
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If you want to know more about the history of science, The Double Helix is a great choice. It's through the eyes of a 20- something, up and coming, amusingly cocky scientist (James Watson, the author) and details his part in the discovery of the structure of DNA. This edition, with annotation and original letters, plus the views of others who saw things slightly differently than James Watson, make it all the more fascinating. Yes, there is science involved, but so much of it is about the feel of the times, how it was to be involved in high level science academia back then. It is a gripping read. I would have appreciated a little more background on some of the social and political events of the time, but overall they did a wonderful job bringing more life and interest to this book.
Better for beginning Austen readers?
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I have to disagree slightly with the previous review. I am an Austen fan, and learned much of what I know about customs and manners of the time by reading her novels, plus a few other authors. I found that too many things were annotated and it distracted from the novel too much. I did enjoy descriptions of carriages (with drawings!) and fire screens, for example, as well as other objects of the day that we no longer see. Some of the notes on what actions by characters were typical of the time were useful. But there were too many definitions of words that I think most Austen readers already understand. Some even fit with modern usage and yet the book defines them in a note. If you've read an Austen novel but were confused about it, this will most likely help. If you feel confident reading Austen, it may not be worth it.
Ok but a little disappointing to the Austen fan
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If you're an Austen fan, you might be tempted to pick up this "last novel", as I was. It was a reasonable read, but if you're in the mood for Austen, it falls just short. Keep in mind that Jane Austen wrote less than 1/4 of this book, the rest completed by "another lady" (as credited on the cover). She does a decent job keeping the style and phrasing of Austen, and in general it's a good continuation. The dialogue is fairly well done and through much of the book, you could believe Jane Austen had written it.

But a big part of Austen's charm is her characters and how they develop. Part of the fun of "Pride and Prejudice", for example, is trying to figure out Darcy or Wickham, and seeing where they will go next. The characters in "Sanditon" do not quite measure up. Sidney Parker, for example, is puzzling to us readers, to his family, and to our heroine, Charlotte. But we don't untangle his personality gradually over the course of the book. It's as confusing as ever in the last chapters and then his "true nature" gets steamrolled out in a few paragraphs.

The plot, also, moves into areas that seem very "un-Austen". Austen's books are highly dependent on domestic life, social class and human nature, with plot "action " being secondary. The abrupt plot twists are unlike any I've read in Austen books. The second author's apology at the end shows she tried, and she readily admits she's no Jane Austen. So, an amusing read, but don't count it as another Jane Austen book to read.