You are going to either love or hate this book. Can I just leave that as the review?Women of Karantina by Neal Eltoukhy
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
You are going to either love or hate this book. Can I just leave that as the review? I suppose not. My experience with Egyptian literature is solely confined to the myths, legends, the odd short story or the odd novel by Mahfouz; therefore, I have no knowledge about how Eltoukhy’s style fits into modern Egyptian literature. You’ve been warned. In some ways, the cover (at least to the English translation that American University in Cairo Press provided via Netgalley) is slightly misleading. The novel is not quite as cartoonish as the illustration of the women on the cover implies. Eltoukhy tells the story of two families in the Karantina section of Alexandria. The story larges focuses on the women from the families, but to call it a feminist traditional novel in the standard sense of the word would be in correct. It starts with the death of a dog that eventually leads to a murder at a train station. It is a story of two lovers who separate and come back together. There is the man who sorta becomes a hermit, there is a love quadrangle, and lots of train tracks. The style is almost heretic and a constantly dipping in and dipping out of a storyteller’s voice. This makes it feel as if you are sitting in a crowded bar or square listening to a storyteller spin the story out. It almost like a gossip session or one of those long soap opera like stories that your grandmother tells you – though this one isn’t quite like that in subject matter. The story itself is like the Godfather meets the Golden Girls meets Monty Python meets something uniquely Egyptian that you see in the fiction of Mahfouz. It’s Angela Carter without the werewolves. It’s something unique. It does seem to speak to the role of women in society because the women are defined and hindered by the roles assigned to them or the lens that men or society view them. The drawback is that at times, especially towards the end of the novel, it almost seems as if it is too much, or strangely and slightly contradicting, too little. Yet there is such magic in the story. ...more
Dracula really is in many ways an underrated book. Perhaps it is because in some ways it can be a difficult book for people to get into because of theDracula really is in many ways an underrated book. Perhaps it is because in some ways it can be a difficult book for people to get into because of the conflicting viewpoints and the fact that the reader has to put together clues to figure out what is going long before the main characters figure it out. I don’t know. I just know each time I read this book I find something different. I see it a different way. Literature, yes. This audio book features Alan Cumming as Dr. Seward and Tim Curry as Van Helsing. Quite frankly, either man could read the phone book, or I would buy so listen. But the other cast members are just as good, in particular the women who reads Mina, for if Dracula has a hero, it is Mina who is essential to the battle. If it has a forgotten victim, it is strangely, almost contradict, Lucy who is so quickly replaced by Mina in the hearts of those men that one wonders if she was truly loved in the first place. And this brought violently home in this excellent audio book. ...more
Thora Gudmundsdottir has some problems. To wit they include (a) her son got his girlfriend pregnant (b) her two children hate spending time with their
Thora Gudmundsdottir has some problems. To wit they include (a) her son got his girlfriend pregnant (b) her two children hate spending time with their father (her e husband) because he plays the Icelandic version of Guitar Hero too much, (c) her secretary (d) her relationship with Matthew and, finally, (e) her client who is charged with a murder and who is considering legal action about a land deal because the place might be haunted.
Iceland is apparently like England in this regard.
The ghost is, of course, connected to the mystery of who killed the architect of Thora’s client’s hotel/spa/New Age Retreat, not to mention the guy who got stomped to death by an Icelandic Horse.
Thora also has a problem with the trailer she brought. She’s a bit rash that way.
And I think that is why this book actually works. Thora is just so weird and normal. She might live in Iceland but any reader will know at least one family like hers. The mystery itself does have to do with families and stories, so it too ties into the normalcy despite the almost craziness of the situation. ...more
It’s sad but I hadn’t heard of Patrick Modiano until he won the Nobel. Honestly, my first reaction was “who is that”.
YDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
It’s sad but I hadn’t heard of Patrick Modiano until he won the Nobel. Honestly, my first reaction was “who is that”.
Yeah, American press doesn’t do too well when it comes to books that require translation.
In terms of style, at least in these three novellas, a reader can see why Modiano won the Nobel Prize. There is a beauty in the simple sentences that are not over loaded with unnecessary words or description. It isn’t so much the simple setting of the stories in Paris that bring the city to mind, it is Modiano’s writing. I can’t really describe what aspect of his writing does this, but there is something of Paris in the style (or at least how the style is translated).
But in terms of plot, at some points the point felt a little loose and a little lost at times. This is particularly true of the last story, “Ruined Flowers”, and far less true of the middle story, the title story itself. This story is about a young boy, his brother, and his mysterious guardians. The first story, “Afterimage” is stronger than the last story and almost as gripping as the second. It concerns a photographer as viewed though the memories of man who himself is reaching the photographer’s age. It doesn’t have the mystery that “Suspended Sentences” does. IT is more melancholy, and yet, strangely, slight more hopeful.
In many ways, the stories are shadows, constantly shifting, murky, like night in the city of lights. ...more
When people ask me who my favorite president is, I say Madison. Usually they go, whose that, or get this confused look oDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
When people ask me who my favorite president is, I say Madison. Usually they go, whose that, or get this confused look on their faces. Honestly, it’s Madison because I think Dolley is awesome. She’s my hero.
Now, after reading this book, I have more reasons why Madison is my favorite president.
Stewart describes Madison’s gift, in other words his legacy as well as his ability, in light of his partnerships with Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Monroe, and Dolley. The book isn’t a straightforward biography, so having a general knowledge of the period undoubtedly makes the book easier to read.
Stewart details the work that Madison did with his five partners during the course of his political career. In a few cases, there is some overlap and jumping around in terms of lineal time, but it is done smoothly and a reader is not very likely to get confused. We Americans tend to forgot Madison, remembering him if at all, simply for the Federalist Papers and, perhaps, his wife. Stewart shows why this is wrong headed and short sighted. I would add sad, though this is something Stewart himself does not refer to.
Madison’s gift was his ability, his quiet and unassuming ability, to think about problems as well as to bring people and ideas together. The fact that he could work with Washington, Hamilton, and Jefferson as well as be a friend of Burr’s speaks to something. His thinking about the problems of government is, according to Stewart, one of the reasons why the Constitution is the document it is, and we do owe a debt to foreign policy. Madison might have been a behind the scenes mover, lacking the flash of Washington or Hamilton and the fame of Jefferson and Hamilton, but for all that he was an extremely hard worker. Stewart’s thesis, aptly proved, covers even what history remembers of the development of the government.
We have Madison to thank for that too. He saved and organized his papers.
While not a biography, Steward does flesh out the character of Madison. He comes across in the small personal stories that Stewart includes, as someone you just might want to have over for dinner. For a small statured and often ill man, he apparently did enjoy wit and foot racing his wife (who supposedly could carry him on her back). He was devoted to his family, despite the fact that he must have felt beholden to his parents. He might not have been the player that Hamilton was, but he didn’t seem to save himself for Dolley either. His relationship with Dolley and her influence on politics as they worked together is shown here, and they come across as the political power couple of their day. Today’s modern first ladies owe much to both of them.
Stewart does not gloss over Madison’s flaws, including the wrong picks that Madison made for his cabinet. Stewart takes the long view, showing not how those picks were wrong, but also what the effects of those picks might have been. He also does not hesitate to put blame on Madison when it is called for, like in some of Madison’s relationship with Monroe. The issue of slavery is not glossed over, and Stewart not only points to Madison’s conflict over the issue but also how Madison’s solution (or proposed solution) didn’t work.
In this look at Madison’s working life, Stewart adds detailed analysis and understanding to a Founding Father who should be better known. ...more
The artwork is interesting and brilliantly colored. But the best part is the rhyme for each prince that makes excellentDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
The artwork is interesting and brilliantly colored. But the best part is the rhyme for each prince that makes excellent use of the given letter. 90 percent or more of the words are going to start with the letter, and there is reference made to all types of things, including Elvis. Rather clever. ...more
What’s a squirrel to do when the moon lands on his tree? Read this and find out. It’s a rather whimsical story. In truthDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
What’s a squirrel to do when the moon lands on his tree? Read this and find out. It’s a rather whimsical story. In truth, the artwork is far more impressive and detailed than the writing. There are wonderful little details in the art – play particular attention to the cell scenes. There is some great and inventive ideas, at least in the terms of the illustrations. It’s a rather charming book. Enjoyable for the adult that is reading it to children as well as the children. ...more
Supposedly a collection of work by Miles Vandercroft, Steampunk Soldiers carries on the tradition of Osprey military booDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
Supposedly a collection of work by Miles Vandercroft, Steampunk Soldiers carries on the tradition of Osprey military books by detailing various soldiers from various countries during a Steampunk era. It’s cool.
Each section focuses on a different part of the world that has developed various items and weapons due to the arrival of certain materials. The introduction of each section gives an overview of the country in terms military strategy and/or development. Italy does seem to be the most creative and humorous part in this regard. In keeping with many Steampunk traditions, the United States is split in the Union and the Confederacy. While most of the focus is on major European powers, Japan gets its own chapter and other countries receive a total chapter grouping.
In other words, it is a steampunk version of the countries that participated majorly in both World Wars.
The designs for each country are varied and include anything ranging from Calvary to Firelighters. There are also hints of the traditional costumes. The Highlander Battle suit is an excellent example of this. A kilted Armored Man ala the Black Watch. The section on the two American countries could easily fit into Cherie Priest’s Steampunk series. The Russian section shows a great deal of invention with overtones of how Russia is view today. IN particular, the Russian nurses (or not nurses) stand out. The Fangfeng suit is wonderfully inventive and yet traditional. There are also hints of Freedom Fights in Belgium as well as Canada.
In short, the book is a wonderful look at a world that would make a good game. ...more
Recently, I was teaching a class where the students read an essay about the reconciliation meetings that were done in South Africa. And my students diRecently, I was teaching a class where the students read an essay about the reconciliation meetings that were done in South Africa. And my students did not know, or claimed not know, who Mandela was. Sad, but true. As time goes on, we forgot. We are a nation that has been, and in many ways still is, affected by 9-11, but the average college freshman who is currently 18 was 5 then. There are people whose understanding of apartheid, if they have one, is one of distance and this happened last generation. It’s the nature of time, but we do fight against it. We read the words of those who lived it. This is why Mandela’s book should be read. Because we should know, beyond doubt that we should know. Because Mandela’s book is honesty. He doesn’t really excuse, but explains the radical steps that he had to take. He re-considers them and shows why such steps were considered. He doesn’t hide what he was – either in the past or when he was writing the book. Understanding his power, knowledge is power. And that type of power changes the world. That is why we, as the human race, should remember not to forget. ...more
The term Academic Freedom is hardly a new one as this collection of essays makes quite clear. The term, however, is per Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
The term Academic Freedom is hardly a new one as this collection of essays makes quite clear. The term, however, is perhaps getting more of a workout along with the word bias today than it used to. From students complaining about teachers using only liberal reading material to teachers complaining about being silenced by students and trustees.
The truth is that murky line that always seems to be shifting, but really isn’t.
I went to a college run by nuns. It was (and is) a great school. I learned to speak in class, and I learned that just because you were conservative in some beliefs didn’t mean you had to be conservative in all beliefs.
In short, religion class taught by a former nun who believed in the church except for that bit about no female priests.
And you haven’t lived until you have seen a nun search for the French word for nymphomaniac.
On a more serious level, I knew of someone who had been talked down to in a sociology class (not taught by a nun) because she wanted to take her husband’s name upon marriage. More recently, I have seen flyers telling teachers to make it an assignment for students to go a protest something. I noticed that at one faculty computer room posting political posters and messages was fine, provided the message was in support of one political party. It was only when other political poster and flyers, promoting views of other parties were post that it became an issue – with the other parties have the posters torn down.
So I tend to find myself on the fence with the whole college and Academic Freedom issue. Teachers should be able to teach without the fear of interfere, and they should be able to challenge students and students’ views. Teachers should, however, also be aware of other views, especially about issues that are opinion based. In other words, grading a student based on the student’s belief that abortion is evil is wrong. Truth be told, what evidence I have of teachers doing that is second hand, a somebody told me, type of a thing.
And this book promotes that view of Academic Freedom. But does it also do that at the appearance of bias? The authors of the various essays in this collection all seem to have given serious thought to professor but also students. Several essays deal with the difference between academic freedom and freedom of speech and indoctrination. Granted this is a collection of essays for academics by academics and lawyers, but why is there a lack of essays from a possible student perspective (or even trustees)? The inclusion of such an essay would make the book a bit more balanced and at the very least do quickly away with those critics who are going to claim it is little more than a liberal left wing piece.
Which is a shame because it isn’t.
This collection of essays traces not only Academic in its modern context (so yes, Ward Churchill is mentioned and dealt with) but also the history of Academic Freedom as well as the reason why we need it. Furthermore, the difference between Academic Freedom and indoctrination, manipulation, abuse of power, is deftly shown several times.
And that’s important because too often the terms get confused and caught up in argument. Few people in the media who actually talk about the issue take the time to define the terms, and this book does definition extremely well. The essays range from the legal view to the professor view. The most interesting (and perhaps most limited) is the inclusion of a case study on professors and Academic Freedom as applied to students. (It would have been more interesting and less limited if it applied to more campuses. I also want to know if there is a difference based on where the college or university is located or what type it is).
The book is also timely in the sense that a reader can start to see connection between Academic Freedom and the current “review wars”. Both beggar the question – “can’t we deal with conflicting opinions?” ...more
It is because of Lynn Whitfield that I got to know Josephine Baker.
Hopefully, it will be thanks to Peggy Caravantes thDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.
It is because of Lynn Whitfield that I got to know Josephine Baker.
Hopefully, it will be thanks to Peggy Caravantes that more young girls will get to know her.
Carvantes’ biography of Baker is one of those rare works where the subject is presented with taste but with a strong light. While written at a level for a pre-teen or teen, the book does not hesitate to lighten or disregard the warts.
It is to Carvantes’ credit that in her introduction she points out the difficulty in writing about Baker and her life story. The book starts with Baker’s early and confronts not only the poverty and racism, but also the attempted molestation. When discussing Baker’s introduction to the stage as well as her early contract signings, Caravantes doesn’t present Baker in a flawless light (and this transcends to the adoption of the Rainbow Tribe in Baker’s later years). Baker’s lack of education, relationship with money (or lack thereof), pride, and emotional storms are all presents if unflinching, with description and hands off approach that allows the reader to reach a conclusion about Baker. Caravantes’ also, briefly, presents brief “where are they now” biographies of the Rainbow Tribe.
Baker’s work as a spy is detailed, but more importantly so is the reaction to her performances in the rising Nazi Era with reaction to her tour. Her later life work and ties to Civil Rights as well as the impact of some of her public statements is dealt with in context, not just the statements but the events leading up to them. Baker comes across as some who is passionate and dedicated, but prideful and family driven.
Baker comes across as human and all the more heroic because of that. Caravantes is not only introducing Baker to the coming generations, she and Baker are showing them that you can be who you are.
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley Armstrong’s Otherworld Nights is her third volume of Otherworld placed short stories. Most of the stories in this col3.5
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley Armstrong’s Otherworld Nights is her third volume of Otherworld placed short stories. Most of the stories in this collected have been published elsewhere (this is true for the other short story collections. In the introduction, Armstrong does let the reader know where the stories originally appeared, so it isn’t false advertising.
The stories focus mainly on the Pack, in particular Elena and Clay. One of the stories, “Hidden” was originally a novella with pictures, which don’t seem to be in this version (at least they didn’t appear in the ARC). The Pack stories allow the reader to see the development and history of certain Pack members, not only Clay and Elena but Reese and Jeremy as well. The story that seems to take place after Thirteen is one of those nice and quiet stories.
There is a Cassandra story that really is a character study, but still good. There also is a novella featuring Karl and Hope, who are my two least favorite characters. It does offer more development and character study. If you like the couple, the story will please you. The last novella, set after Thirteen, features Savannah and Adam, another couple that I am not fond of. I actually prefer them as not a couple, and Savannah has become, to me, less interesting as she as aged. The story, however, is rather nice and does lead to a future without spelling to much of that future out. In other words, Armstrong gives closure without giving to much closure. In this volume at least, the reader’s impanation can still play with characters’ futures.
Personally, I would have preferred to see more Paige and Jamie than Savannah and Hope, but still a good collection for any Otherworld fan, regardless of who the reader’s favorite characters are.
I mean, Clay and Elena, who else do you really need?...more
You're really looking at a book like this more for the art than anything else. It presents the Gods and Heroes (of Anicent Greece and Rome only) withYou're really looking at a book like this more for the art than anything else. It presents the Gods and Heroes (of Anicent Greece and Rome only) with brief bios and heavy artwork. Each god gets at least a page, if not more (though sometimes the choice of which gets more is strange, as are the divisions). Rather nice with lavish illustrations....more