An economics tale that teaches many intriguing lessons in an entertaining, often violent way.

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THE ECONOMICS MUSE II

THE INVISIBLE HAND

A sequel focuses on an immortal figure behind economics.

This installment of Blanco’s (The Economics Muse I, 2017) supernatural yet educational series picks up in 17th-century Ireland. A surveyor named William Petty is busy measuring land when he comes across a curious woman. Petty soon learns this is no ordinary mortal but rather the sassy and savvy muse behind economic thought. Throughout human history, she has sought to aid thinkers in the art of the dismal science. She soon helps Petty understand concepts like the division of labor, though she has much more to do. She may venture through the horrors of the French Revolution and the East India Company yet her main focus in this volume is on Adam Smith. The man behind The Wealth of Nations, it turns out, got some help from a figure from ancient Greece. But not all who meet the muse are quite so lucky. Enter deadly creatures called Venusians. The Venusians, who appear as beautiful women, love to drink blood. They also really, really hate economists and the muse who inspires them. Will the muse be able to help humans understand their world while simultaneously fighting off merciless killers? The answer to that question plays out over pages of history that are painted with blood both real (the many victims of the guillotine) and imagined (humans unlucky enough to be targeted by the Venusians). The combination makes for quite a mix of the informative and the fantastical. Few who devour the book in its entirety will not learn something. For instance, most readers have some familiarity with the French Revolution but the narrative skillfully points out, in a digestible way, the many economic factors that led to the infamous upheaval. On the fantastical side, things can get somewhat overcomplicated. A large subplot involves Venusians having children with humans (hence creating hybrid offspring) and what the future holds for these kids. While such scenes amount to a break from, say, the finer points of opportunity cost, they are not quite as riveting as the more realistic horrors of the 18th century. Ultimately, the brutal impact of economics wins the day.

An economics tale that teaches many intriguing lessons in an entertaining, often violent way.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-72977-689-6

Page Count: 484

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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