Finding Flow is a more readable, condensed version of Flow, but doesn't offer any new insights except for some fresh new paShould be called Flow Lite.
Finding Flow is a more readable, condensed version of Flow, but doesn't offer any new insights except for some fresh new paraphrasing here and there, mainly in the final chapter. If Flow is too daunting for you, then this book will serve as a quick alternative. But if you've already devoured Flow and you're hungry for more, then try The Evolving Self instead....more
Kimchi & Calamari is about a Korean boy adopted by an Italian-American family. His identity is thrown into question when he's given an assignmentKimchi & Calamari is about a Korean boy adopted by an Italian-American family. His identity is thrown into question when he's given an assignment to write about his ancestors.
The book was good but not great. Some characters had depth and felt real, namely Joseph (the 14-year-old narrator) and the Hans, the members of the Korean family. Other characters felt flat. Especially the two girls whom Joseph likes: Kelly and Robyn. Even for minor characters, they just didn't seem to have enough substance to pass as real people.
The book is full of colorful analogies. Some of them were fun to read, like this one: "I was stuck with peanut butter and banana slices, a hideous combo surely created to make POWs talk." But too many of them were awkward or unpolished. Like this: "See ya!" I said, tearing out of there faster than the Flash, the quickest dude in the comic book universe.
The story picked up steam about half-way through when Joseph begins his search for his birth mother. This plot point carries the book to its conclusion. The second half of the book was harder to put down than the first half. But some of the events seem to unfold unnaturally, going just where the author wants them to go.
The most annoying thing about the book was its clunky lack of transitions. One scene would magically teleport to the next with no hints to help the reader along. One second, the little sister would be dashing out of the kitchen, and the next second, Joseph was buying a pizza. It's disorienting. Little phrases like "later that afternoon" or "the next day" or "back at home" can help smooth out those jumps. Some scene changes have transitions, but some don't have any.
Overall, it's an enjoyable story. But it could have used more polishing on each page before going to press....more
What a pity that such a sensitive tale with delicate prose loses two stars. The story's star is a captive gorilla named Ivan. He endures each depressinWhat a pity that such a sensitive tale with delicate prose loses two stars. The story's star is a captive gorilla named Ivan. He endures each depressing day in a barren enclosure in a circus-themed shopping mall. His only companions are Bob, stray dog with a sharp intellect who snuggles up with Ivan at night, Stella, an aging elephant in the neighboring cage, and Julia, the young daughter of the circus-mall's maintenance man, George. (A baby elephant, Ruby, arrives later.) The mall is owned and managed entirely by Mack, who is also the clown and ringmaster for the circus performance that takes place three times a day, 365 days a year. Mack's only source of help, besides the unwitting animals, is George, who not only feeds the animals and cleans out their cages, but apparently maintains the entire shopping mall as well. Talking animals is one thing. But that two men alone could be shopping mall owner, shopping mall manager, animal trainer, clown, ringmaster, zookeeper, handyman, and janitor 365 days a year is too much for my imagination to bear. Thus, the book loses one star.
Ivan, understandably, is a lonely creature. Enduring life in a small confinement without any contact with his own kind, and being forced to perform tricks thrice a day for the amusement of onlooking, dim-hearted humans is hardly a life at all. But Ivan is not without hope. It is rumors of a mythic place called the "zoo" that gives him hope. If only one day, somehow, he could end up in a zoo instead of this shopping mall, he would be happy.
There's no doubt that, compared to his current situation, a zoo is better by several orders of magnitude. And, perhaps after all it is the best that Ivan could ever aspire to. But the well-intended author of this book does such a disservice to the notion of animal welfare by making a zoo sound as if it were a Garden of Eden for animals. What a blessing that zoos are for all of Creation, according to this books mythology! But what is a zoo except for a somewhat larger, slightly less cruel circus-themed mall for the amusement of onlooking dim-hearted humans?
For that, the book loses another star.
Either of the book's two defects could have been overcome without adding undue complication to the story. A general manager named Mack that directed a vague, nameless clowns, ringmasters, animal trainers, plus George and the staff under him would have made a story of talking animals a believable one. A wilderness rehabilitation project instead of a zoo would have kept the story's moral compass straight. A fabulously written narrative would have lived up to its full potential and delivered on its promise of animal redemption....more
A first-hand true story packed with excitement, gutwrench, violence, heartache, and a happy ending that almost never happened. Northup's writing is enA first-hand true story packed with excitement, gutwrench, violence, heartache, and a happy ending that almost never happened. Northup's writing is engaging, easy to follow, and shines a spotlight on the horrific institution of American slavery.
Even if you've watched the movie, don't miss out on the book. There are hair-raising events that the movie doesn't cover, like the time Solomon ran away and survived by swimming through the bayou full of crocodiles and snakes. There are more details in the book, like the plot to overthrow the ship's captain that was failed by an outbreak of small pox. The true ending is much more complex and climactic than the simple ending shown in the movie.
Once you pick up this book, you won't want to set it down. And you'll come away with a deeper and clearer understanding of the workings of slavery in the nineteenth century....more
A fairly interesting read that didn't live up to its title.
This is a book full of anecdotes, some fascinating, some not-so. Although Gladwell tried toA fairly interesting read that didn't live up to its title.
This is a book full of anecdotes, some fascinating, some not-so. Although Gladwell tried to tie the true stories to the central theme of the underdog taking on the giant, few of them fit naturally. In fact, each story had so little in common with the others, there wasn't much of a moral to be taken away from the book. What can we learn about battling Goliath that can help us in life when we find ourselves faced against mighty powers? That projectiles beat infantry? That a misleading photograph can help win a battle for civil rights? What are the underlying lessons? They're not really clear.
It's not a bad book to read. If you like Gladwell's hopscotch style (skipping around and sometimes missing the point) then you'll like this as much as his other books. But don't judge a book by its title....more
Imagine Stanley Yelnats born and raised in the Hunger Games, only the cruelty is a hundred times worse, and it's a true story!
But there is escape. TheImagine Stanley Yelnats born and raised in the Hunger Games, only the cruelty is a hundred times worse, and it's a true story!
But there is escape. There is redemption. No, not for the hundreds of thousands of others trapped in North Korea's gulag, but at least for one man, Shin, the subject of this book.
That escape came with a high price: The execution of his mother and brother, which he not only witnessed, but for which he was partly responsible; the betrayal of his father, who no doubt was tortured after Shin's escape; and the death of a prison camp newcomer, who had become Shin's companion and one of only three people to ever show him compassion up to that point in his life.
As for the countless lives still condemned to misery and torture behind the barbed wire fences in camps like the one where Shin was born and grew up, their best hope is that more people in the outside world will read books like this one speak out about the problem of North Korea and its human rights abuses.
This book forced me to tears at several places, particularly at those instances of kindness, which stuck out in vivid contrast against a backdrop of endless cruelty and despair. When the book was over, I wanted to keep reading. Yet, there was no more to the story. No detail had been left out. I especially liked the way the author hinted at what was to come, building suspense, and then satisfying my curiosity with the full story.
After teaching the first two chapters of this book to a class (the director of the school had selected it) I was intrigued. I borrowed the book from tAfter teaching the first two chapters of this book to a class (the director of the school had selected it) I was intrigued. I borrowed the book from the school so I could finish it. But it was all downhill from there.
Here's what I liked about the book:
1. The first two chapters were mysterious and intriguing. 2. The language was rich and interesting, at least in the beginning. 3. The story combined a contemporary setting with Greek mythology. 4. The author portrays disabilities as having special powers behind them. (Not only Percy's dyslexia and ADHD, but also Grover's strange legs and Mr. Brunner's wheelchair.)
Here's what I didn't like about the book:
1. The writing got sloppier and sloppier as the story progressed. 2. The author tried too hard to be humorous too often, so that the story couldn't make up its mind between being a serious fantasy hero's quest and a slapstick comedy. In many places, reading it felt like watching a TV sitcom. 3. Once Percy was given a quest, the plot didn't make much sense from there on out. For one thing, we all knew he wasn't the one who stole the lightning bolt in the first place. The more we learned about who did, the less sense it all made. After finishing the whole book, I'm left with the feeling of "WHAT??" 4. The monsters were all too easily defeated, making it feel like they were not really threatening at all. 5. Most of the problems that happened on the way from New York to L.A. were overcome before the next problem was encountered, making it feel episodic rather than thickening the plot. 6. The part in the Lotus Casino was an interesting idea, but it would have been better if the reader had more hints before Percy figured out what was happening. 7. The main characters were annoying. I had to follow three annoying young teens all the way from NY to LA and back again. 8. Percy and his buddies were able to complete a task for a god that the god himself dared not even try to do. Yeah, they ran into problems, but it was still a little too easy. 9. It was too predictable. Despite the obstacles, we all knew that Percy was going to get to where he was going in time and do the thing he was supposed to do. No real twists or surprises there (except that the explanation for it was very long and complicated.) 10. The monsters and gods and traitors that tried to fight Percy would tell their life story to him before fighting or tricking him. This was the author's way of explaining their motives to the reader and revealing some facts we need to know. But I don't think monsters would usually tell you everything they know before they try to kill you. 11. There were too many info dumps. In the beginning, they were integrated into the story better. Toward the middle and end, they just seemed so artificial. 12. Percy's dyslexia wasn't realistic. The explanation is that his eyes are hard-wired to read Greek, not English. That doesn't make any sense. Our brains and eyes are hard-wired to learn to make sense of the squiggles of any writing system. Furthermore, I don't think that dyslexics see words in the same way that Percy misread the signs on buildings, with letters jumbled at random. 13. There were many times when Percy went where the author wanted him to go. Like in L.A. when there is only one store that looks open, and it just happens to be the kind of store they are looking for. Or the time when Percy willingly gets in an elevator with a woman and her dog that he senses are monsters because he thinks that waiting for the next elevator will take too much time. Obviously, Percy wouldn't have really done that. The author just wanted Percy to battle that one alone. 14. Percy's dream descriptions were long and didn't make any sense. Maybe someone with more patience would have picked up some clues from them. But I just found them confusing.
Rick Riordon has a lot of talent and potential to write something great. I hope that his writing has improved with later books. However, because this one was a sorely disappointing waste of time, it will be the last of his books that I read....more
It's an interesting read for anyone who is curious about the history or future of the English language, or for anyone who wants a better understandingIt's an interesting read for anyone who is curious about the history or future of the English language, or for anyone who wants a better understanding of how languages evolve. The author proves herself to be extremely knowledgable. However, the book ends on a sore note with the far-fetched predictions in the final chapter on how the English language might change. Sure it will change substantially, but the author is dreaming up some pretty wild guesses here. She forgets to take into account that English language users have a discriminating ear for the language. Yes, something that sounds awkward in the beginning can sound natural in no time, but particles and grammar that sound outright alien will never get their foot in the door, so speak. They will be immediately rejected by English speakers and never catch on. And even if native English speakers are outnumbered by nonnative English speakers around the world, it's still the native speakers who will hold more influence as gatekeepers of the language in their roles as writers, media makers, editors, teachers, creators and compilers of style guides and reference books, etc. I think the author also failed to consider how modern mass media can work as a force that preserves the language. I was waiting for a chapter on that, but it never came. Throughout the ages, when most changes in the English took place, 99.99% all utterances occurred face to face. No sooner was a sentence spoken than it was erased from existence. Today books, internet, movies, television, music, and other printed and recorded media model the language for us in ways that will snap us back when our tongues start to stray from these norms. That is not to say that mass media will prevent English from evolving. We know that its far-reaching effects can be a catalyst for new expressions or ways of speaking. But what role does an interconnected planetary media play in conserving the language? Surely the question deserves an exploration in this book. Despite this book's flaws, its still a worthwhile read for language lovers....more