I know it is popular in some circles to say that Marlowe wrote all of Shakespeare. Sorry Kit, your Passionate Sheperd is a beautiful poem, but it is t...moreI know it is popular in some circles to say that Marlowe wrote all of Shakespeare. Sorry Kit, your Passionate Sheperd is a beautiful poem, but it is the only reason why this is three stories.
Your other poetry proves that you so did not write Shakespeare. Shakespeare did. (less)
If you are like me, you try to ration out the money you spend for hardcover books. Certain authors eventually reac...moreDisclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley.
If you are like me, you try to ration out the money you spend for hardcover books. Certain authors eventually reach the “buy in new hardcover” rank for a variety of reasons. I have to admit Marina Warner is one of those for me. I do have to admit that as much as I enjoyed this book, I must conclude that if you have read her other work, you can get this one in paperback if you need to save money.
It’s not that the book is bad. It isn’t. It is a wonderful overview or flyover of the fairy tale genre if a reader has read much of the work produced by Warner and Jack Zipes then really isn’t much that is new here.
This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth reading, for it is. Warner spends time on the Grimms and Perrault as well as showcasing lesser known tales, but she also deftly connects the fairy tale to modern times though the work of modern authors such as Atwood, Pullman, Byatt, Carter, and Maguire. In fact, any A.S. Byatt fan should run this for Byatt is discussed a few times. There is a nice section about fairy tales and film that focuses on more than Disney, though I have to wonder why Mirror, Mirror (a Snow White movie with Julia Roberts) doesn’t get a mention. Perhaps because it follows the story a bit too closely?
There is a clarity and charm to Warner’s prose. This seems to be in part because her love for the fairy tale is coming out, and it is rather infectious. In structure, however, this book closely matches her Six Myths for Our Time lectures/book.
If you are new to fairy tale studies or simply want to know about fairy tales, this book is a good place to start. It not only discusses the well known tales and tellers, but also directs the reader to influential and timely critics as well as popular modern authors. It is a good starting not only for the overview, but also for the further reading list at the end of the book. (less)
Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.
I’m pretty sure I’m the wrong person to review this book, so Mr. Greg...moreDisclaimer: The author sent me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.
I’m pretty sure I’m the wrong person to review this book, so Mr. Gregor I am sorry. You seem like a really nice person, and the book is actually pretty professional in terms of editing and proofreading. There really aren’t many typos. I do have to ask, however, why is the name koko and not Koko? Is there a reason for the lower case?
Sadly, for me, this book mostly reads like a long version of essays that I grade for skills students. The subject matter is the same (life story or vacation story), but Mr. Gregor’s writing is far above any skill level (i.e. he writes at an adult level, not a pre-college level).
Mr. Gregor’s memoir details his life as a young immigrant to Montreal as well as his travels during his college days where he returns to Bulgaria. The most interesting parts of the book - which is mostly a collection of chapters detailing various experiences, are those chapters that occur shortly after his family’s arrival in Montreal. The schooling issues as a well as the border crossing story are described well and have some humor.
Sadly, it is when the book becomes travelogue and when Mr. Gregor leaves high school, that it becomes rather dull. The problem with any memoir is there has to be a reason to tell the story, otherwise why tell the story? Instead of writing a thoughtful look at going back to a birthplace and/or discovering one’s roots story, After the After feels a drinking binge detailed. There is little sense of any change or realization or even an epiphany. In some ways, it feels like your friend’s vacation story; you know the one where your friend tells you everything but doesn’t bring you back anything. I really didn't know that drinking makes koko pee like an old woman (and why an old woman and not an old man?).
If this is going to be the case then the travel memoir better have a good sense of place. That isn’t really the case here. Gregor lets you know where he is, but there is no sense of where he is no sense that Bulgaria is different in look than Paris. It all seems to blend.
But it’s not all bad; there are glimmers and hints that the book could be more, and I suppose that’s why I got frustrated with it. One of the sections is when koko visits Auschwitz. This has a potential to be a really powerful chapter if the emphasis shifts slightly because the description and the introspection are very good in the section. Another one is the sequence immediately after the Dawson College Shooting in 2006. Sometimes the stretch to something deeper fails, as is the case when koko goes out to dinner and his companion suggests leaving without paying the bill. The comment about ladies and prostitution that follows is a bit hackle rising when one considers the whole prostitution and rape issue. That aside if the focus of the book shifted slightly to the problem of culture clash or a sense of discovery was conveyed with greater depth (like it is in the Auschwitz chapter or when koko sees a horse drawn carriage used for a work other than tourism), the book would be stronger and worth reading. I found myself wishing the promise in the first few chapters would be fulfilled.
However, as it is, it just feels like a student’s vacation essay but better written in terms of grammar than the average college student. Maybe it’s fine for students or anyone below college level. (less)
There is a place that Ireland holds in the imagination and lives of almost everyone, even those who are not Irish....moreDisclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley.
There is a place that Ireland holds in the imagination and lives of almost everyone, even those who are not Irish. Perhaps it is the constant invasion or the struggle for freedom or the similarities to situations in non-European parts of the world. Perhaps it is simply a fondness for the beer transforming to a fondness for the country. Who knows? It is possible to meet people who know next to nothing about history but know about the potato famine in Ireland. They might not all the dirty details, but know there was a potato something that killed the crops and people died. Considering what some people don’t know, that’s pretty good PR for a country. (Seriously ask people basic questions – like how many states, and you will get some strange answers. Apparently, the US owns Canada but Hawaii is totally its own thing).
This book is about a family, in particular the daughter Grace, during the famine. Open Road Media (the publisher of the edition I read) classifies the book as a romance, though this is misleading. There is a romantic aspect to the novel, but that aspect is actually the weakest part of the novel. The title character, Grace, marries an English squire out of duty despite being told by the brother she loves that she should marry for love. We all know how such stories turn out in novels, don’t we? So the whole Bram and Grace marriage felt a bit cliché. Additionally, the love story, if you want to call it that, between Grace and her “true love” really doesn’t feel like a love story because the characters keep telling you they love each other but it doesn’t really come across as believable considering the amount of time and conversation they are shown to have. Moore, however, gets points for how one of the love stories turns out. Despite this, the love sub-plots are rather clichéd. The love sub-plot also seems to be done at the expensive of making some minor characters less than fully developed as well as making Grace seem a bit too special.
Where the book shines is with the historical part. If you leave out the romantic subplot (in particular the one between Grace and her true love), this book rivals the excellent Hanging Gale miniseries for its depiction of Ireland and family life during the famine. The most powerful writing occurs in these sections, and Moore skillfully avoids romanticizing the issue. This could be well the romance sub-plot feels so flat (quite frankly the book would have been better without that). There is also much about class and shifting allegiances. It isn’t just the Irish that Moore show; it’s how the various English lords and solider response to the famine that is also illustrated. When the famine comes the book is absolutely brutal. There is no sugar coating, no fear, no one is safe. Moore gets full credit for that.
It might not be the best book I’ve ever read, but it comes really close to equaling The Hanging Gale, which for me, is high praise.
BTW – The Hanging Gale was a mini-series shown in 1995 on BBC. It depicted the struggles of one family of four brothers during the Potato Famine. The brothers were played by the McGann brothers. (Stephen McGann is currently in Call the Midwife and Paul McGann pops up everywhere). It also starred Michael Kitchen (Foyle’s War) as an Englishman. It was supposedly to be loosely based on the McGann ancestors and the reason why the family left Ireland. It is excellent. Go watch!
Disclaimer: ARC from Open Road Media and Netgalley.
The phrase “Trial of the Century” seems to be currently overused. There have been several trials o...more Disclaimer: ARC from Open Road Media and Netgalley.
The phrase “Trial of the Century” seems to be currently overused. There have been several trials of the century. The 24 hour news cycle and multiple cable news networks make sure of this. It’s hard to keep up with what the trial of the week is, and it is almost like a flavor of the month.
But it’s hardly a new phenomenon. Case in point, this book.
Dr. Chapman lived and died when the country was young. He cured stutters, mostly because he had one. He married a woman that was younger than him, but perhaps slightly too old for the marriage market. The two had a family and ran a school. It seems that the wife did most of the work. One day, sometime after the arrival of a foreigner at the school, Dr. Chapman died.
Of poison, it was later discovered.
It also didn’t look so good when the widow married the foreigner shortly after the good doctor’s death.
But was he a good doctor? Was she a murderess? Did she get off?
Those are the questions that Linda Wolfe tries to answer in her book about the case. It should be noted that the book, while focusing on the case, is really biographies of Chapman and Lucreita as well as Lino, the foreigner, who claims to know a Bonaparte and someone called Casanova. It also is a brief portrait of a marriage as well as society struggling to make sense of crime and need to discover if there was a crime at all.
Wolfe’s book is really about Lucreita more than any as well as how media, even in its infantile stage, can be used to manipulate reactions and even make the guilty seem innocent. It is impossible to know for sure what really happen, though Wolfe does a good job at investigating and giving possible motives. Both Chapmans come across as flawed and the disintegration of the marriage is seen as a fairly as possible. In discussing guilt, Wolfe takes hands off approach. It is almost as if she is conducting a case for the defense, and in many ways, while the conclusion where Wolfe lies out her opinion doesn’t come as a shock or a surprise, Wolfe does keep the emotional description and editorializing to a minimal almost non-existent level.
Perhaps the most interesting and important part of the book is the trial itself. It drew much attention and like today, the participants, one in particular, was able to use media to their advantage or to suffer at the hands of it. Despite what is claimed, the media does determine or get the viewer/reader to determine guilt or innocence in cases. This is done though commentary, reporting of facts, and photos. We saw it most recently with the case in Ferguson. This time it was the police who were trying to use the media by releasing the video of the young man, Brown, robbing a store. How does that excuse shooting him when he was unarmed? Especially when the cop didn’t even know about it? Or even in cases where most people can agree. Take George Zimmerman, he should be in jail, but did the media really need to always use the picture of him in what looked like an orange prison suit or the picture of him with the nose damage (it depended upon which outlet you were watching)? The media even does it to itself as with the case of Lara Logan and the picture of her used after her attack. It was from an awards ceremony.
If we watch trials or reports on trials, the media (or someone using the media) crafts the narrative for us. The viewer determines guilt or innocence far before the jury and usually with the aid of the media. Wolfe shows that this hardly a new trend by showcasing how print was used during the trial and what the effects of such actions where. Needless to say, it is also a double standard in action with a woman being condemned, in part, for not being womanly enough. This means she is guilty or not worth helping. She has it coming to her. Much of what Mrs. Chapman goes though will be familiar to those who know about Constance Wilde’s life. Not much changed in the time between the two women or even between them and today.
The Murder of Dr. Chapman is mostly a mystery. But the murder isn’t really the mystery. It’s the disturbing question of why so little has changed. (less)
As a holder of a degree in English, I am constantly asked something along the lines of “you read this, right?” Usually the "this" i...more**spoiler alert**
As a holder of a degree in English, I am constantly asked something along the lines of “you read this, right?” Usually the "this" in the question is either some really obscure porn book or Russian literature. Then I have to explain that English literature and Russian literature are two different groups, and I am sorely lacking in Russian literature reading.
Don’t judge me. I’ve read the whole Faerie Queen more than twice. I’ve read Milton’s Paradise Lost, Regained, and Samson and his prose more than once (and god, was it hard). I’m allowed to be lacking somewhere.
So Lolita is one of those books that I’ve always meant to be read, but never got around to until I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up this edition.
Like I said, don’t judge me. I spend more at independent bookstores.
It’s strange coming to Lolita after seeing Nabokov's butterfly collection. It’s a lovely and impressive butterfly collection. It’s hard trying to reconcile the two, for some reason.
Well, not so hard when you look at the writing in terms of simple literary value. Nabokov writes like the butterflies I see in my front garden (they really love the flowers that carrots sprout). Butterflies are light and airy, but if you look at the markings on the wings, there is far more depth and detailed beauty than a first glance reveals. I don’t collect butterflies, but I can understand the attraction, the intricate detail, the startling beauty when you look close. The same is true for birds. Look closely at sparrow, and in the smallest details of the bird there is so much beauty. Nabokov writing is like that. There is the action, the first up front detail. Then there is the rhythm and beauty of the language. It is a novel that begs to be read aloud, for the prose follows tripling over the tongue. There is such beauty in the writing, such exquisite beauty.
But, and we all know what the but is.
Lolita is a novel toward from the viewpoint of a pedophile. There is no way around it. At times reading the book, I wanted to take a shower to get clean. It is a story told from the viewpoint of a stalker, who doesn’t have a redeeming feature.
You want him to get hit by a car instead of his wife.
Nabokov doesn’t support Humbert; at least I don’t think he does. Humbert is the narrator but the term hero or anti-hero doesn’t apply. He’s the protagonist of the story, but hero isn’t the correct word.
In many ways, the novel feels like an indictment of society that persecutes Humbert for what seems to be almost a lesser crime though it feels strange to write that. It is, however, very telling. Or perhaps that is the point, perhaps the crime he gets punished for, isn’t the only murder that he commits. The only physical murder, but not the only murder.
Of course, the question becomes who is the abettor in such a situation?
And the answer to that question is as uncomfortable as the narrator himself. (less)
This is a cute retelling of the Grimm’s Clever Elise using bears, who are not the run of the mill bear family. The draw...more Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
This is a cute retelling of the Grimm’s Clever Elise using bears, who are not the run of the mill bear family. The drawings are cute. It’s a bit wordy, and doesn’t seem to be crafted to be read aloud via performance. The book is well suited to be read, not performed, to a child or for a child to read on his or her own. The artwork is lovely, and the fact that it shows a brother and sister working together is nice as well. The brother and sister aren’t lovely dovey, but an everyday type of brother and sister. (less)
The Philadelphia School System has closed a few schools in the last couple years. This is due to largely to cost c...moreDisclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley.
The Philadelphia School System has closed a few schools in the last couple years. This is due to largely to cost cutting issues in regards to not having enough money. The reasons for the lack of money are vast but can pretty much be summed up by the following statement – “Inner city schools, and Philadelphia should secede from the state of PA”. There was much discussion and attempts to save some of those schools (especially those that had special programs that exposed inner city children to things they weren’t normally see such as wildlife) as well as the fact that the remaining schools would be over crowded and unstaffed. Several people wondered what would happen to the closed buildings. More than one person simply stated they should be turned into prisons because if you are not educating a population, you are telling them crime is a good option.
But the suggestion of a jail is more apt than many people would think at first. Read this book and you will know why. After all, in her book about buildings and what their style tells prospective owners, visitors, and users.
Windows are far more important than you think, and not just in schools.
Though the design of school says rather much, and at least today none of it really good.
Brick means more than you think.
Lurie looks at all aspects of the building, not just material and purpose, but also by design. She answers the question why are rooms square or rectangular, for instance. More importantly, she writes in such a way that reader does not need a background in architecture or design to read the book. Lurie’s focus is on the effect such buildings have on people but also what they say about people. This translates not only to male and female but also class. There is much about how buildings influence and reflect people as well as how people see living space. The most poignant example coming in Lurie’s discussion about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans.
The book is divided, roughly, into different types of buildings from private homes to schools to office buildings to museums. Different cities are looked at. The ARC I receive didn’t have photos, and photos in some cases would have made the book better. Lurie does mention mostly well known buildings but in many cases, a photo would have given a clear impression. There are funny sketches before each chapter. (less)
This book covers a variety of movies that tie into Halloween. It covers everything from slasher films to foreign. In sh...moreDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
This book covers a variety of movies that tie into Halloween. It covers everything from slasher films to foreign. In short, you can find a movie for an adult, a teen, and a child.
It’s actually quite a nice book. Even if it does mention an Olsen Twin movie as one of the approved Halloween flicks. To be fair, Tolle realizes the weirdness of this and owns up to it. His reasons for including the movie are more than just acting.
But you can’t hate a book that mentions Arsenic and Old Lace, and gives little known silent and foreign movies props long side big budget movies such as Halloween. There is judgment for sure, as the original The Haunting makes it, but not the remake (thankfully). However, Frankenstein is only mentioned in one form (and not the Kenneth Branagh version). I did wonder why Brotherhood of the Wolf was not included as well.
Honesty, since the book actually recommends the movie Haunted, one I have long loved, is great. Each feature length movie has a brief summary (no spoilers) as well as some interesting factoids (I learned something about a Kate Bush song). Date, length, rating, and cast are included for all the movies as well. The tone of the book is chatty and amusing
Bonus points for the inclusion of Halloween specials and TV episodes. Tolle lists far more than the Simpsons as well as a brief bit by bit of shorter films (like short animated movies). The top five lists in the end are also helpful if you are planning a marathon.
The sub-title of this book is Women of Color on Terror, yet I would not classify it as a feminist work, but a political...more Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
The sub-title of this book is Women of Color on Terror, yet I would not classify it as a feminist work, but a political one where some of the essays include feminist perspectives.
The purpose of the book is to look at the various wars on terror throughout the globe and the impact of the wars on minority cultures. Much of the focus is on the perception of Islam by Western. Some of these essays, in particular the ones center in the United States, fall flat because of the limited study groups. Muslim in the US lives outside of California and Michigan, and I am not sure why these two places were the only two studied in great depth in this collection. Perhaps it has to do with Berkley’s history of protest. There are also one or two essays that focus too much on the idea of everything the West thinks about Islam is wrong but everything Islam thinks about the West is right. The essays about Honor Killings and Bin Laden while pointing out unused facts are also somewhat limited and too one sided.
However, the book is redeemed by interesting essays that focus on different types of terror. Honor Ford-Smith’s “Gone but Not Forgotten: Memorials, Vigils, and the Politics of Popular Commemoration in Jamaica” is a rather apt essay for any American paying attention to police violence and protests against such violence. It is at once depressing and strangely reassuring that America isn’t the only country with this problem. Ford-Smith’s analysis of why the police react a certain way to a memorial as well as the different ways memorials are seen can be applied outside of Jamaica. Think about the response to the protests in Ferguson for instance. Additionally, the essays focusing on various responses in Africa to the War on Terror bring up some very good and hard questions.
Another stand out essay is “From the Northern Territory Response to Stronger Futures” by Nicole Watson. This essay focuses on Aboriginal women in Australia as well as the question of whether or not aid has actually helped.
The strongest and most emotional part of the book is the last two essays, though they are not really essays. “Unsewing My Lips, Breathing My Voice: The Spoken and Unspoken Truth of Transitional Violence” by Omeima Sukkarieh. This is a prose poem about violence against refuges as well as about violence occurring with the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I should note that I tend to side more with Israel on that conflict, but Sukkarieh’s piece is heartbreaking and riveting. It provokes thought and discussion, which any good piece should do. It is paired with photos from a protest piece, “Mori Cards”, which used body bags to illustrate death due to violence. (less)
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. I haven’t read anything by Trevor-Roper before, but I have read about him, in particular in Rosebaum's Explaining Hitle...moreDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. I haven’t read anything by Trevor-Roper before, but I have read about him, in particular in Rosebaum's Explaining Hitler. This book apparently is a collection of short essays that Trevor-Roper wrote concealing largely events after the Second World War. Kim Philby features prominently in this book. The drawback to this book is the editing, quite frankly. There is a bit too much introduction by Edward Harrison. The notes are helpful until they get annoying. Take, for instance, the beginning. There is quite a long and detailed introduction giving background on Trevor-Roper and his recruitment into the spy services during the Second World War. The problem is that it is followed by an essay by Trevor-Roper that tells the reader largely the same amount of detail and story. This is rather common in the book. There are some interesting essays, and these are the ones where Harrison takes a backseat. They include essays about Philby, a most interesting rebuttal to le Carre’s view of Philby as well as an essay about a possible deflector to East Germany. This last is not widely known in the US, but the story is interesting and the editing in this section is done extremely well, giving detail that for various reasons Trevor-Roper left out. The book is worth reading if you are interested in spy history, but it doesn’t seem to be a good introduction to the work of Trevor-Roper and could do with less Harrison. (less)
Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway sponsored by Regal Literary.
Englund’s book isn’t a history of the First World War, at least not a normal hi...more Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway sponsored by Regal Literary.
Englund’s book isn’t a history of the First World War, at least not a normal history. Following the experiences of twenty nobodies, The Beauty and the Sorrow showcases the experience of people during the war, from the battlefields to the nursing stations to the home front. His cast is diverse, Germans, Brits, Americans, nurses, one house wife, and a schoolgirl. The book is organized by year and jumps around. The people come and go and not everyone makes it.
The book is more about personal experience than the general battle, though Englund does include a timeline for each year. So the reader discovers what the nurses went through or hears about cavalry man who had to see to the death of his horse and then eat the gelding. If works such as Tuchman’s give you a global scope, this is intimate, and far more important because of that.
In the 100 years since the War, it is important that we remember it simply because of how it changed everything. IN the US, we don’t really think about it, and while the National Mall in DC does boast a WW I memorial, it is for those from the area, not a National memorial like for the other wars. This book deals with the war in a far more intimate way, and does not romanticize it in a way that certain televised dramas do.
Highly recommended for history bluffs. Highly recommended for everyone. (less)
I can hear you wondering. You’ve been wondering for the past three years. Do we really need another history of En...more Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley.
I can hear you wondering. You’ve been wondering for the past three years. Do we really need another history of England? There are hundreds, thousands, maybe even a million (you can count, if you have the time), why do we need another one? How about a history of one of the –stan countries instead, you may ask. Well, we are talking about Peter Ackroyd’s multiple volume history of England, so yes, we need this one. The third volume in the series covers the Stuarts – from James I to James II losing the throne to his son-in-law.
What makes Ackroyd’s work better than average and well worth the reading are two things? The first is his style. While not the prose poem that his London is, the writing is chatty and intimate. In part this is simply style. Ackroyd makes sure the full impact of events is known, but this is a popular, common, every man’s history. The reader doesn’t need a degree in history, and important events are described in enough detail but not too much.
The most important thing is the little humorous and emotional touches. There is a wonderful passage about soap and how it connects to the English Civil War. There Muggletonians. There is debate about hacks in London. It is the story of James I and his feelings towards his eldest son, they died too early Henry.
Then there are the brief interludes dealing with major cultural issues, such as Hobbes’ Leviathan.
But I keep coming back to the little touches, the same events that are often overlooked or under seen or the huge events that are overseen and overanalyzed. Ackroyd keeps balance. When he introduces a little over looked detail – the attacks on brothels - he connects it. It might be included because of whimsy, but it also has a point. When he mentions the departure of the pilgrims, it is with a somewhat nod that the boats pass out the scope of the history he is writing so he lets it go.
An Everyman’s History is what this series is, not so much as in focus on the little guy, but in the way the events play out, on the effects. It is an intimate history, far more than say Simon Schma’s History of Britain. Ackroyd’s history is something to be read over wine while traveling, allowing the words to seep slowly in and stay forever. (less)
Really liked it, is slightly off. It's a book about a massacre. A readable book about a massacre, not too graphic but very important to read, especial...moreReally liked it, is slightly off. It's a book about a massacre. A readable book about a massacre, not too graphic but very important to read, especially considering the current play in the news.(less)