Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda

Book Review

 


Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History's Great Cat-loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and StatesmenBook Genre: Non-fiction, History

Book Series: N/A

Released: 4/2017 by Ten Speed Press

Pages: 101  Price: $16.oo Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Bio, More Info

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program for an honest review.

Book Synopsis:

A stylish, illustrated gift book from an award-winning artist that profiles notable cat-loving men throughout history in words and pictures.

Of Cats and Men presents a fresh approach to cat entertainment that’s smart, sweet, and driven by beautiful art (instead of tacky photography, as many cat books are). Appealing to both men and women, the “cat men” approach is a fun twist on the “cat lady” stereotype and makes for a highly giftable book. The 30 men profiled range from writers and artists such as Haruki Murakami, T.S. Eliot, William S. Burroughs, and Ai Weiwei, to historical luminaries such as Sir Winston Churchill, Nikola Tesla, and Sir Issac Newton. In addition to the portraits, the book features beautifully hand-lettered quotes about cats by some of the men, including Twain’s “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

My Review:

The synopsis is pretty spot on for this book.  It is a charming little gift or coffee table book featuring profiles of famous cat-loving men throughout history.  Many of them you will know but some might be surprising.  The book is handsomely illustrated and features quotes from many of the men profiled in the book.

The book isn’t very long and would make a great gift for the cat man or woman in your life.  I have been fortunate to share my home one and might save my copy for him for Father’s Day.  After all, our cats are our children and he might appreciate the recognition and to see what great company he keeps.

Not a lot more to say.  It was a quick read and of exceptional quality printing wise. I liked it but wasn’t overly excited about it.  It was interesting but nothing profound inside its pages.  I still think it is a tad overpriced at $16.00 but at least you get something worthy of giving.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner

Book Review

 


Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable ManBook Genre: Biography, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Book Series: N/A

Released: 2/16/16 by Thomas Dunne Books

Pages: 278  Price: $25.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner first crossed paths as actors on the set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Little did they know that their next roles, in a new science-fiction television series, would shape their lives in ways no one could have anticipated. In seventy-nine television episodes and six feature films, they grew to know each other more than most friends could ever imagine.

Over the course of half a century, Shatner and Nimoy saw each other through personal and professional highs and lows. In this powerfully emotional book, Shatner tells the story of a man who was his friend for five decades, recounting anecdotes and untold stories of their lives on and off set, as well as gathering stories from others who knew Nimoy well, to present a full picture of a rich life.

As much a biography of Nimoy as a story of their friendship, Leonard is a uniquely heartfelt book written by one legendary actor in celebration of another.

My Review:

Full disclosure to those of you that might not follow my blog.  I’m a Trekkie. A huge Trekkie and Spock just happens to be my favorite character in the entire franchise.  I was so sad to learn of his death and am grateful for all that he contributed to our society through art and entertainment.  While I appreciate William Shatner and Kirk he was never one of my favorite characters, my second being MacCoy.  But truly the brilliance of the original series was the dynamics between the three lead actors.

There is little doubt that I loved this book.  I will admit that yes, Shatner talks about himself almost as much as he does Nimoy but if you thought it would be any different you don’t know Shatner.  This, after all, is more a book about their friendship than it simply is a book about Leonard’s life.  This book is a tribute to a friendship that spanned a lifetime and Shatner’s way to say good-bye.  Many of the stories the ardent Trekkie will already know but so what.  If you love these actors then you will enjoy hearing them all over again, I did.

I had been planning on reading this book when it came out but when I was looking for audiobooks I decided to listen to this one instead of reading it.  Since the book is read by the author I would highly suggest others do the same.  What better way to listen to these stories than to have Shatner read them to your himself.  To get to hear the inclinations in his voice as he shares a beautiful friendship that touched his life.  So yes, please think about listening to the audiobook version of this book.

If you enjoyed Star Trek and was a fan of Spock than this is a book you aren’t going to want to miss.  I found myself smiling, laughing and feeling all kinds of nostalgia as I listened to this book.  Live Long and Prosper.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman

Book Review

 


The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You KnewBook Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Audio Book

Book Series: N/A

Released: 1/14/14 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Pages:157  Price: $13.35 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I actually own this book, but I ended up listening to the audio book from my library.

Book Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams and Mr g, a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind. He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion; the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature; the possibility that our universe is simply an accident; the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world; and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws. And behind all of these considerations is the suggestion—at once haunting and exhilarating—that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.

My Review:

I tried to read this little book a while back but just couldn’t get into it.  While I am interested in the topics this book discusses I am not that bright when it comes to science and math.  Much of it was a struggle to understand.  Simply put it was too much work…  I’ve been enjoying listening to non-fiction audio books recently, especially those with a science leaning, so when I saw this one was available and not that long I decided to listen rather than read this book.  So. much. easier.

This isn’t a very long book and is a collection of essays really on philosophy and physics.  Much of the science still went over my head but I did appreciate the philosophical discussion related to the advances in technology and knowledge.  I know I just finished listening to it so the chapter is freshest in my mind, but I enjoyed the last chapter the best which delved into how technology is changing the way we interact with not only each other but the world around us.  The idea of the virtual world not so slowly replacing the importance of the real world was fascinating and most likely true.

I’m glad I made it through this one, even if I had to listen to it.  The book provided a lot of food for thought and would be another great book to listen to with someone who you could debate the topics further with.  If this one crosses your path why not give it a listen too.

My Rating: 3 Stars

The Illustrated Book of Sayings by Ella Frances Sanders

Book Review

 


Book Genre: Non-Fiction, Coffee Table Book, Art

Book Series: NA

Released: 9/13/16 by Ten Speed Press

Pages:162   Price: $14.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s SiteMore InfoAuthor Bio

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program.

Book Synopsis:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller, Lost in Translation, come this collection of 52 artistic renderings of sayings from around the world that illuminate the whimsical nature of language.

Ella Frances Sanders’s first book, Lost in Translation, captured the imagination of readers with its charmingly illustrated words that have no direct English translation. Now, the New York Times-bestselling author is back with an illustrated collection that addresses the nuances of language in the form of sayings from around the world. From the French idiom “to pedal in the sauerkraut,” (i.e., “to spin your wheels,”) to the Japanese idiom “even monkeys fall from trees” (meaning, “even experts can be wrong”), Sanders presents sayings that reveal the remarkable diversity, humor, and poignancy of the world’s languages and cultures.

My Review:

What an interesting little book!  I was hesitant to request this title as I wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about.  I took a chance because it was the only book they offered for review that peaked my interest and I so happy to have received this title.  Sometimes it is worth taking a chance, sometimes it pays off!

I thought it was going to just be a coffee table book of sayings, idioms from around the world with some illustration.  To be honest I was expecting something kinda boring… sorry.  I thought my husband might find it interesting and I could pass it on to him after I read it.  I still plan to let him read it but this little gem is staying in my library.  What I didn’t realize was that the author went into detail about the history of each idiom and gave us some of the history or quirkiness associated with each phrase.  That is what made this book for me, totally.  It also didn’t hurt that two of the sayings I enjoyed the most were Bulgarian (where my husband is from) and Turkish (what my husband is: Bulgarian Turk).  Those two pages I quizzed him and covered the translation and made him read the sayings in their original language.  Pleased to report each one was translated correctly and he was delighted to see a part of his heritage in the book.  A couple other of my favorites were from Japan and India (Hindi).

This is such a delightful little book it would make a great gift to someone you might know that travels the world or simply wishes to travel. A linguist or philosopher would also find this book delightful as well.  Perfect for a college grad too.  The price isn’t too high, would love to see it around $10, but for the quality of the binding and being hardcover $15 isn’t unreasonable.  I really can’t find any fault in this book and plan to check out the other title by this author.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Think Happy by Karen Salmansohn

Book Review

 


Think Happy: Instant Peptalks to Boost PositivityBook Genre: Self Help, Non-Fiction

Book Series: N/A

Released: 8/9/2016 by Ten Speed Press

Pages: 128  Price: $12.99

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s SiteMore Info

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Blogging for Books for an honest review.

 

Book Synopsis:

Stay happy—no matter how much life throws at you!

Happiness expert and Oprah columnist Karen Salmansohn presents a collection of 50 inspirational inner peptalks to boost your confidence, attitude, and mood. These peptalks are different than affirmations because they’re feisty, fun and memorable–and will thereby stick in your brain like a catchy song. You’ll naturally want to keep repeating them, thereby changing your neural pathways so you’re inclined to think positive thoughts, which lead to positive habits, which lead to a positively happy life!

Whether you’re feeling stressed, need motivation, are dealing with haters, or need to turn your tale of woe into a tale of wow, THINK HAPPY’s instant peptalks and whimsical illustrations will grump-proof your brain so you can move forward with optimism, resilience, and plain ol’ fabulousness.

My Review:

Due to events in my life this summer I have found myself missing my happiness.  Now grief is a process that is different for everyone and is going to take as long as it takes but I thought this book might be helpful.  Might give me some perspective and ideas on how to find my way out of this depression I’ve become trapped inside.  Now I knew this book wasn’t going to magically solve all my problems but I think it will be useful for not only myself but my husband as well.

This is a fairly short book and first impression was that it was just going to be a coffee table decor piece that had some inspirational and up lifting phrases to ponder.  It is actually so much more.  There are a series of sections that begin with 5 things to say; if you are trying something new, when feeling grumpy, when faced with failure, when dealing with toxic people, etc.  What follows each statement is five different phrases accompanied with a little peptalk.  This is quite helpful actually it makes you think a bit more about the affirmation and gives support or encouragement or simply something else to ponder to help with the issue at hand. The book is beautifully illustrated with soft water-color artwork in calm pleasing tones and is the perfect size to carry with you in a purse or suitcase if you are currently struggling and need some extra motivation.

The only complaint I have about the book is I wish it were longer.  I wish it covered more issues, for example death, that bring us down and suck our happiness away.  I also think the price is a tad high for such a short and small book as lovely as I think it might be.  I think somewhere under $10 would be a more reasonable price point.  Otherwise I’m glad I requested this book and I plan to hang on to this title to revisit when I am facing a situation that was covered.  This book could be quite helpful in putting perspective on issues that bring us down.

My Rating: 5 Stars

What If? by Randall Munroe

Book Review

 


What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsBook Genre: Non-Fiction

Book Series: N/A

Released: 9/2/14 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 303  Price: Hard cover $14.66

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audio book from my library

 

Book Synopsis:

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.
If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive?
How dangerous is it, really, to be in a swimming pool in a thunderstorm?
If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce?
What if everyone only had one soulmate?
When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British empire?
How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?
What would happen if the moon went away?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, studded with memorable cartoons and infographics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.

My Review:

I borrowed this book simply because I wanted to listen to an audio book read by Wil Wheaton.  This book also just happened to sound interesting as well, even if it was non-fiction.  I have to say I was not disappointed one bit, this book was so much fun and I am going to have to start following the author’s website.

Not a lot I can review about the book.  It is what it is; the author answers crazy questions poised to him using science.  It makes you wonder and wish you had paid better attention in science class, if only so much math wasn’t involved…  It also makes one think that there are some seriously disturbed people out there in the world.  The book is set up so that each chapter tackles a different question with break chapters where the author shares with us some of the truly disturbing questions that have been ask.  Wil Wheaton is perhaps the perfect narrator for this book as his voice adds the perfect amount of snark and inflection that bring the answers to life.  I will have to seek other books that he has read to see what I think of them as well.

Like I said this was a fun listen.  Perfect for a car ride where you don’t necessarily want a story that might have inappropriate scenes for some of the passengers.  This would be great for a ride with teens as it might spark an interest in the sciences and lead to some great discussion.

My Rating: 4 stars

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Neil Patrick Harris

Biography: Released 10/14/14: 291 Pages

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program for an honest review

More Info  &  Author Bio

Book Synopsis:

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life, you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

My Review:

I don’t know quite how to review this book.  If you know my blog or follow my reviews on Goodread then you know I stick mainly to fiction and some pretty trashy romance related fiction at that.  Hey it’s what I enjoy reading, don’t judge.  I do not venture into non-fiction very often and I must confess this is my very first biography.  Just not something I’m interested in most of the time.  This year though I signed up for a couple of reading challenges and both of the lists had read a biography as one of the requirements.  So when I saw this one for review and being a fan of NPH I decided to request this to fill my challenge requirements.  So while I know how I want to rate this book I’m unclear on how to convey that rating to you because I have nothing to compare this book to.  When I rate and review books I am always comparing it to books I feel are the same caliber.  It helps me decide what sort of star rating to give it.

Being this book is a first for me I’m going to just have to go on my gut reaction to the book, and as I finished the last page (after a marathon reading season) with a smile on my face I have to give it high stars.  I loved this book. I loved the concept and the laugh out loud moments and that I could jump on YouTube and check out the clips from his life’s work that he talks about.  I loved the honesty and twisted dry humor and the opportunity to get to know this man better.  I also appreciated the chance to get to see what it was like for someone to come out to the world about something so private and personal and their sexuality knowing that it could cause controversy at the time.  Straight people take for granted that our relationships and love life is going to be accepted by pretty much everyone,  to have to hide your relationship and identity is something the vast majority of us will not have to deal with.  I thank Mr. Harris for the opportunity to live in his shoes and experience something that I will never have to live through.

As a child growing up around the same time as Mr. Harris (I was born in 74), I vividly remember the choose your own adventure books.  I would spend hours reading and rereading the story to see how far I could take the characters.  Picking this format for the book was quite clever, though I must confess I cheated a bit and didn’t skip around like I was supposed to, with lead to a couple of surprises put in the pages for readers like myself.  I actually think this could be the perfect format for biographies ( or perhaps just celebrity biographies), it gives the reader the chance to skip areas of a person’s life that person’s life that might not interest them, like a person’s love life, friend’s letters or magic tricks…(although that was kinda cute too).

Not knowing what makes a good biography I am lost for what to tell you it included or excluded.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much more than I thought I would.  I read it in two days, which is quite fast for my current reading pace.  It was interesting to read these stories from his life and see some of what went on back stage at the awards shows and theater productions he was a part of.  The peeks into his beautiful family’s life were heartwarming.  Mr. Harris is an interesting personality and quite the entertainer in print, on-screen and on stage.  I would recommend this book to fans of his and even those who just find him mildly amusing.  For being my first biography I’m afraid I’ve set my standards quite high by starting with this book.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Emotions and Stress by K. Chandiramani

Emotions and Stress

Cover art thanks to Goodreads, click on it to visit book’s page there.

Non-Fiction, published: 1/28/15

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley for an honest review

Book Synopsis:

Emotions and Stress: How to manage them encourages you to deal with your own stress in a way that allows you to keep moving at the same pace. But first you must ask yourself two questions: Do I really need to run? and Am I running in the right direction?

This book attempts to bring together modern psychiatric and psychological practices with the ancient traditions of mankind. Based on K. Chandiramani’s own work using a combination of approaches, it is designed to help anyone suffering from almost all forms of psychiatric problems including anxiety, depression, anger, psychosomatic disorders, relationship issues and work-related stress.

The book is also likely to help even those who do not suffer from any psychological problems but would like to have a greater control over their emotions. Some of its chapters address existential issues that afflict all human beings, while others contain spiritual elements that facilitate the promotion of mental health and access to inner piece.

Emotions and Stress can help you transform your negative emotions into positive ones. It explains the science of emotions, how they are processed in our mind, how they influence our thoughts, opinions and actions, how to be free of them and above all how to regulate them. It is a fascinating and insightful read for anyone looking for an answer to their problems, as well as those interested in or studying psychology.

My Review:

This book was offered to anyone who wanted to download and review it, so I took a chance and downloaded it for my husband as he has a lot of work-related stress. I ended up reading it as well and am so glad I did!  This book was incredibly interesting and I learned so much.  It is only 130 pages long, but it did seem to take forever to read, but that is probably because I am used to fiction.

The book is structured well and gives you a good grasp of background information before delving into methods to cope with stress.  After I read this I feel I have a much better idea of what my husband is going through and even myself when issues from my past cause problems.  I am anxious to try out some of the coping methods the author talks about in the book.

One of the most helpful chapters in the book was the section on Psychotherapy.  All to often we wonder if we need to go talk to someone or not.  He gives some great guidelines to take into consideration to help you figure out if it is a step you should pursue.  Another concept I hadn’t though of before is that everything causes stress.  Good event and bad, so there is no escape really.  All to often we just think of negative things as the cause of problems in our lives, but really positive situations, like a vacation, can create just as much havoc in one’s stress levels.  This brought around the idea of needing to work stress releasing exercises into everyday life, and not waiting until there is a major meltdown.   This is a concept that hadn’t occurred to me before.

If you have stress in your life, and you do, everyone does.  I highly suggest this book. I am going to be picking up a print copy that I can keep for reference.  The information in this book is well-organized and applicable to those with deeper issues and those who already do a fairly good job of managing their stress.  This book will also be helpful to those who have friends and family in their life who are struggling to manage their emotions and stress too.  It will help you understand a bit more of what they are going through and recognize the signs of excess stress in their behaviors.  A great read!

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

Monday Morning Question: Fiction vs Non-Fiction

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Good Monday morning everyone.  I hope you all had a productive weekend of reading and are ready to face a new week.  I am writing this on a Sunday night, hence the still chipper attitude, hopefully planning ahead will lead to sleeping in tomorrow.  As long as the bladder or a cat don’t wake me I should be good.  Most likely it will be the cat using the bladder as her own personal water bed that will wake me…  Anyway.  This weekend I managed to finish up two books I was reading, one fiction and one non-fiction(review coming).  I had about the same number of pages to finish up in both, but I noticed the non-fiction took me significantly longer to finish.  Like several hours longer, in fact I still have 15 pages to go as I write this.  It also take me longer to get into the book. With the absence of a scene and characters to build in my mind I had time to wander and plan a thorough cleaning of the shed and a revamping of a spare bedroom into an art studio.  Eventually I was able to start focusing on what I was reading, but it just took longer.   The funny thing is I actually enjoyed the non-fiction book more, but it still took longer to read.  So this morning I ask you:  Does Non-Fiction take longer for you to read?  Or does Fiction take longer for you?  Or no difference?

 

ARC Discover Your Soul’s Path by Linda Howe – 3 Stars

Discover your Soul's Path Through the Akashic Records

Cover art thanks to Goodreads, click on it to visit book’s page there.

Published: 2/3/15

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Do you have an inner knowing that there is more to life? Would you like to identify your soul’s true path? Are you compelled by a desire to contribute more meaningfully in the world? In this remarkable book,Linda Howe reveals how to effectively make the shift from ordinary to ExtraOrdinary living—suffused with purpose, aliveness, and light—through the Akashic Records.
     The Akashic Records can be understood as the “Cosmic Chronicles of You”: an energetic archive, or dimension of consciousness, that tells the story of your soul’s journey through space and time as a human being. By learning to access this dimension, you will gain insight into your earthly experience and discover how to transform your life into one that radiates light and magnetizes good.
     In these pages, enter the inspirational, fascinating realm of the Akasha with Linda as she shares her very accessible and student-tested processes designed to facilitate your awakening to your true identity and soul’s destiny. Explore the essential consciousness concepts of the Records, excavate the obstructing beliefs on your path, and learn how to realign to your soul’s highest purposes. Meditations, or Akashic Reflections, guide you every step of the way.
     Application of Linda’s teachings is guaranteed to make a critical difference in your life right here, right now. An ExtraOrdinary life is within your reach! What are you waiting for?

My Review:

I struggled with this book a bit.  Some of the concepts went over my head or just had trouble keeping my attention.  I think I would have appreciated this title more if I had read some of this author’s earlier books.  One of my areas of interest is reincarnation and the Akashic Records is not exactly a new concept to me, but I was looking for something a little different than what this book had to offer.  This title is focused more on the current life you are in and less on your past incarnations.  There is still a lot of useful information and concepts in this book, but less in the area I was looking for.

Who would this book be good for then?  If someone is struggling to accept the life they are currently in this book has some great ideas in it for ways for you to find peace and focus. It could help you ground yourself and understand why you might be facing obstacles you currently are.  Some of the practices that she suggest didn’t exactly work for me, but I think it might be a case of learning to be comfortable with the concepts and a need to practice.

The writing was good, a lot of enthusiasm and perhaps an over use of exclamation points!  She does a good job of sharing examples from her own life and path for reference. Like I said there was a lot of information and terms I was unfamiliar with and a reading of one of her earlier books might have made that better.  I might look into one of those titles, but for now I am interested in other areas of reincarnation and the soul.  Still I’m glad I gave this one a try.