The World Unseen deals primarily with two Indian families in South Africa which have non-conformist members that refuse to co-operate with apartheid.The World Unseen deals primarily with two Indian families in South Africa which have non-conformist members that refuse to co-operate with apartheid. Amina has an African business partner with whom she runs a café. Amina is also a lesbian. This is never stated explicitly. There is a reference to a past relationship with a woman, but there is no explicit lesbian sexuality in this book. So the cover might be considered misleading in the view of readers who are looking for an explicit lesbian romance. Amina becomes attracted to Miriam. Miriam’s husband had a sister who married an English descended South African. They left South Africa in order to get married and reside in Paris. The trouble starts when this rebellious couple decide to come home for a visit. The actions that characters in this novel take in response to this visit reveals them for who they really are, and changes relationships.
I liked the Indian perspective and the characters who wanted to be unconventional in such a repressive environment. I only wished that the book could have been a bit longer. There are possibilities for the future, but no indication of whether they will really develop. There is a movie based on this novel. Since I haven't seen the movie, I don't know which version I would prefer. Although this is still one of the best books that I’ve read in 2014, I would have liked it even better if there were more of a resolution.
There are other novels devoted to this woman warrior, but this one stands out due to the perspective of the author. When I read in his bio that Alex MThere are other novels devoted to this woman warrior, but this one stands out due to the perspective of the author. When I read in his bio that Alex Myers is a transsexual, I wondered if he would be giving us a transsexual version of Deborah Samson. It turned out that this wasn’t his intention. What he has to offer us is his keen insight into gender. He understood that someone in Deborah Samson’s position might be engaged in an internal struggle over gender identity. I found it even more interesting that this question of gender was never one that she ever permanently resolved. Her androgynous nature caused her to have a very fluid sense of herself depending on her circumstances. I have never seen a historical woman engaged in passing as a man portrayed with such complexity.
This author is a far better Buddhist philosopher than he is a novelist. This is a good thing because there are a great many novelists but only one ThiThis author is a far better Buddhist philosopher than he is a novelist. This is a good thing because there are a great many novelists but only one Thich Nhat Hanh. He provides such clear guidance for Westerners who wish to know the teachings of Vietnamese Zen Buddhism.
What interested me most about the folk tale of Kinh Tam is that the prefix Quan Am was added to her name after her death. This gives her an association with Quan Yin, the Boddhisattva of compassion. Perhaps she is the Vietnamese version of Quan Yin.
The aspect of this book that I found most valuable was the history of the persecution of Thich Nhat Hanh's monastery in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and under the Communist regime. His analysis of the reasons for persecution and why he considers it unimportant were also illuminating. His comment on the condition of exile seemed to be a particularly significant insight. "Your true home is within yourself." If you come to that realization, you can never lose your home....more
Despite there being a police detective investigating the case, I felt that the real protagonist of this novel was Dr. John Archer before I knew that aDespite there being a police detective investigating the case, I felt that the real protagonist of this novel was Dr. John Archer before I knew that author Rudolph Fisher was a physician. I thought that Dr. Archer was the best developed and most sympathetic character. Rudolph Fisher's background also explains why the medical details seemed so authentic.
The Conjure Man, Frimbo, was a highly ambivalent character. This ambivalence caused me to wonder if his background was falsified. Was he really an African king or a graduate of Harvard University? We only have Frimbo's word for it.
The mystery is cleverly constructed with a number of a plot twists that are surprising. The most surprising development had me exclaiming, "What just happened here?" It caused me to entertain the notion that Frimbo could have been a genuine practitioner. Some of the stories told about him sounded like he had real powers of sorcery, but he behaved too much like an illusionist for me to surrender my doubts about him. In the end, I disliked his arrogance and tendency toward duplicity. The Conjure Man Dies has been criticized for its Amos and Andy type of dialogue that seems so dated today. I confess that I wasn't enamored with that dialogue either. It made most of the characters seem like caricatures.
So there were aspects of the book that I liked, and it certainly held my interest. Yet my feelings about Frimbo and the dialogue lowered it in my estimation.
I loved this book when I first discovered it in my early twenties and dealing with sexuality issues. It's controversial, but it was highly original atI loved this book when I first discovered it in my early twenties and dealing with sexuality issues. It's controversial, but it was highly original at the time....more
I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
One reason why I didn't read YA in the past is because of YA stereI received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
One reason why I didn't read YA in the past is because of YA stereotypes. One of these stereotypes is the "mean girl". This trope involves a popular girl who leads a clique of girls who are all so anxious to be popular themselves that they imitate her behavior. In so many YA novels, the authors never imagine that the influential popular girl is a good role model. No, she is usually vain, selfish and cruel. Her influence causes the culture of the entire school to become toxic. One of the things I really liked about the high school aspect of Random is that Jazz, the protagonist, finds that the most trustworthy and loyal friend she has in her own age group is a girl that is the popular leader of a clique who is empathic, insightful and generous. Of course it helped that the popular clique leader is a shape shifter like Jazz.
Unfortunately, Jazz had an older sister whose experience of high school was damaging and ultimately tragic. A major plot strand of Random was Jazz's struggle to discover and deal with the truth about her sister, Celia.
Another important theme of Random is immigration. Jazz's family had come from Russia. Although Jazz was born in the United States, her parents and older siblings had changed their names and abandoned their culture in the hopes that they would be more accepted by Americans. Due to this decision to hide their Russian identity, Jazz feels cut off from the rest of her family. Since the United States is a nation of immigrants, this theme will resonate with a great many readers. I personally feel that sacrificing a family's past impoverishes family life and American society as a whole.
I realize that prejudice is the main reason why minorities hide traits that can be kept secret. The most prominent difference between Jazz's family and the majority of Americans couldn't be hidden. Shape shifters must register. Some of the laws regulating shape shifters established by America's government in Random are reasonable ones that are based on a concern with public safety. Yet they were often enforced in a barbaric and discriminatory fashion. The foundation of bias is fear, and Randoms might make people especially fearful because they are unpredictable by nature.
One of the reasons why I read science fiction and fantasy is because I am a xenophile. A xenophile enjoys encountering strangeness. There is such a thing as too much predictability, too much blandness. The opposite attitude of xenophobia is a more common one. Some xenophobes do read science fiction and fantasy. They prefer shape shifter novels that portray the shifters as monsters who are hunted down and killed. These novels are always from the perspective of the hunters. Novels written from the perspective of "monsters" could make them seem too sympathetic. Alma Alexander's choice to focus on a shape shifter girl whose family faced persecution makes xenophobes seem like monsters.
On the other hand, I am not fond of books that end abruptly leaving a very obvious narrative thread dangling due to the momentous revelation in the final scene. Authors seem to believe that this practice increases sales of the next volume in the series, but many readers find an unresolved ending unsatisfying. I am one of them. It's not that I regret reading Random. I thought it was original and very moving, but it did have shortcomings. The failure to provide what I consider to be a proper ending is one of them.
Animal lovers could find "Wild Justice" disturbing because truly terrible things happen to both dogs and wolves in this story. Many people hate wolvesAnimal lovers could find "Wild Justice" disturbing because truly terrible things happen to both dogs and wolves in this story. Many people hate wolves, but love dogs. The killer in this story apparently hates all canines equally. Given the background about him revealed in the story, I tend to think that he's a psychopath.
Because the identity of the perpetrator is known, this story is more of a thriller than a mystery. How will Jamaica Wild locate this ruthless human predator and end his killing spree? I learned a great deal about the techniques that Bureau of Land Management agents use in their pursuit of those who commit crimes against animals. The story also highlights the tremendous dangers involved in stopping these criminals. In "Wild Justice" Jamaica Wild reveals herself as a true hero in her efforts to protect the wild animals she loves.
I had no expectations of The Mapmaker's Daughter by Laurel Corona when I decided to read it. I had never read this author. I had seen the book in my GI had no expectations of The Mapmaker's Daughter by Laurel Corona when I decided to read it. I had never read this author. I had seen the book in my Goodreads friends feed and was curious. Yet when I didn't have time to finish the book and was forced to return it to the library, I checked it out again because I was so impressed by what I'd read.
In the first two sections of this book the accomplishments of fictional protagonist Amalia were really impressive. As an adolescent she created a signing system for her deaf father, and presumably taught it to him so that they could utilize it for communication. Then she became his interpreter. Since her father became the mapmaker for Prince Henry the Navigator, he traveled in exalted circles and so did she. She had a facility for spoken languages and learned a number of them. Later she translated a great deal of Hebrew poetry into Portuguese for the Duke of Braganza. She also wrote her own poetry. She became the instructor of the grandchildren of the King of Granada, and then returned to her birthplace to teach the future Queen Isabella of Castille.
Yet Amalia maintained family as her haven when she felt a need for support. What's interesting about this is that it wasn't her genetic family of conversos. Amalia had actually chosen a prominent family that remained Jewish, and were leaders in the Jewish community of Andalusia, as her own. They warmly embraced Amalia. They were the Abravanels. The Abravanels of this era are known historical personages.
So I felt that the third section in which Amalia made a permanent life for herself among the Abravanels and completely identified with them also made a strong statement. She could have made another choice, and become a fervent Christian converso like her sisters. She had a number of opportunities to take that road. She could have joined Ferdinand and Isabella's court as a converso, but it was filled with intolerance, danger and suspicion. She had previously experienced a culturally vibrant court in Granada where her knowledge was valued and her Jewish religion was respected. It's easy to see why Amalia decided to distance herself from the monarchs known as Their Most Christian Majesties.
For me, the themes of Jewish survival and the maintenance of tradition were very well demonstrated by Laurel Corona through the story of Amalia in The Mapmaker's Daughter
The book describes a long history of segregating certain types of students at deaf schools based on gender, race or communication status. Such segregaThe book describes a long history of segregating certain types of students at deaf schools based on gender, race or communication status. Such segregations in the past were based on prejudice. These prejudices affected how students were treated, and what they were taught. I am trying to understand the reasoning behind the current segregation of deaf students with cochlear implants from the rest of the student body at some deaf schools.
The authors explain that cochlear implants can fail which might mean that the deaf child’s language acquisition could be delayed. This is a serious developmental problem. Segregating the students with cochlear implants is putting all their eggs in one basket and risking their lifelong ability to communicate. It seems to me that deaf students with cochlear implants should be presented with alternatives just in case their current option doesn’t work for them. I have stated in previous reviews that deaf individuals have the right to choose their mode of communication. Segregation is an obstacle to choice.
I appreciated that the authors of Inside Deaf Culture, Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, don’t believe that there is a single deaf culture. There are multiple deaf cultures and they each have a perspective that contribute to the diversity of deaf communities.
I was interested in the Jewish aspect of this novel and received a free copy of the e-book through the Slave and Sister blog tour.
It’s important to reI was interested in the Jewish aspect of this novel and received a free copy of the e-book through the Slave and Sister blog tour.
It’s important to realize that slavery was part of ancient Jewish history. The Biblical patriarchs owned slaves. Abraham had a child with the slave Hagar who was Ishmael, the ancestor of the Arab peoples. Just like the Mannheims, the household of the patriarch Abraham contained Isaac, his heir who was the son of his wife, and Ishmael, the son of a slave, growing up side by side.
So the abolitionism of Adelaide's husband, Henry Kaltenbach, was not Biblically based. It was an ethical conviction rooted in his profound sense of human equality. In Germany, he had been a revolutionary, and he brought this background to the New World. He was actually quite an extraordinary man, but he never seemed to realize it. I admired both his principles and his innate humility. He was a decent human being in a society where cruelty and injustice abounded. In Yiddish, the word for decent human being is mensch. Henry Kaltenbach was a true mensch.
Rachel also stands out as a character. If the characters in this novel were compared to those in Gone With The Wind, we would find that Rachel has no parallel in Margaret Mitchell’s classic masterpiece. Mitchell was limited by her values and perceptions. She couldn’t have imagined a literate slave with a powerful intellect, and a pragmatic understanding of the business of running a plantation. Yet I should also point out, that in the period when GWTW was published, few would have believed that a character like Rachel could have existed even if Margaret Mitchell had been capable of imagining her. I was born nearly twenty years after the publication of GWTW. I consider Rachel a credible protagonist due to what I know of African American history, and my belief in racial equality.
In conclusion, the characters and the dramatization of the novel’s themes through its compelling plot makes Slave and Sister a novel that I recommend to readers who like to see unusual perspectives in historical fiction.
What most readers who pick up a memoir by the mother of Temple Grandin want to know is: how did she do it? How did she parent Temple so successfully tWhat most readers who pick up a memoir by the mother of Temple Grandin want to know is: how did she do it? How did she parent Temple so successfully that she realized her potential against such tremendous odds? I wanted to know the answer to that question too, but I also believed that the woman who gave birth to Temple Grandin must also be pretty awesome. I was convinced that Eustacia Cutler’s own life story would be of value, and it turned out that I was right.
First, it’s important to realize that when Temple was born the psychiatric establishment believed that autism was a kind of schizophrenia. We now know that autism is an alternate form of brain organization, but in the late 1940’s children like Temple were just thrown away by their parents, and placed in institutions where they received no education whatsoever because no one believed that they were educable. Eustacia Cutler always believed in her daughter’s abilities.
Unfortunately, the research that Cutler did on autism was based on the false premise that autism manifests the same way in all individuals with autism. Over time, we have learned that there are variations in autism. Temple’s book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, taught me about this diversity among autists. Yet when Eustacia Cutler wrote Thorn in My Pocket, she apparently believed that all individuals with autism were like her daughter.
So the value of this book isn’t in what it tells us about autism. Its value is historical. It tells us about the social context in which Temple Grandin grew up. We learn about Temple’s upbringing, her family and heritage.
I found Thorn In My Pocket to be very compelling reading. If you are interested in Temple Grandin and the influences that shaped her life, you may be just as fascinated by it.
I consider a thriller more compelling if it deals with a theme that I find significant. That’s why I enjoy eco-thrillers. I had recently read and veryI consider a thriller more compelling if it deals with a theme that I find significant. That’s why I enjoy eco-thrillers. I had recently read and very much liked the romantic eco-thriller, Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith. So I was glad to have won a copy of the romantic eco-thriller, Eagleridge Bluffs by Rod Raglin through a Booklikes giveaway.
An important thematic issue to address in a review of Eagleridge Bluffs is the ethics of eco-terrorism. The phrase “collateral damage” is actually used by a member of an eco-terrorist team in this novel. People who want to protect the environment are motivated by their conviction that all the beings who live on our planet have value. How is a phrase like “collateral damage” consistent with that belief?
Miriam, the female protagonist, asks the tough questions that the eco-terrorists weren’t asking themselves. I think that Eagleridge Bluffs would have been a better novel if Zaahir, the eco-terrorist central character, had been portrayed as willing to reflect on his actions. This would have given him more dimension.
I have to say that I almost set Eagleridge Bluffs aside for a reason that is a spoiler. (view spoiler)[ I feel that the portrayal of women's sexuality in this novel wasn't realistic. For example,Miriam, who was unable to deal with losing her virginity in partnered sex, used a dildo instead. I found it incredible that she would find a dildo preferable. I also think that there would have been a great deal of blood involved, and that she might have been injured. There is no mention of blood at this point in the novel. (hide spoiler)] It undermined Miriam’s credibility as a character. Yet I stuck with the book, and I’m glad I did because the ending was very inspirational.
The reason why I enjoyed the ending so much is because it represents all the progress that Miriam made over the course of the book. This is the aspect of Miriam’s characterization that I found believable. When we first encounter Miriam she has been depressed for some time. This explains her passivity. Gradually, she becomes stronger and reclaims herself.
Yet when I examined the ending from the perspective of Zaahir, it seemed to me that there was some missing character development that would have made the ending possible. Zaahir may or may not have experienced a radical change in outlook. I can speculate, but Raglin leaves us with too many questions about this character.
So there are things that I liked about Eagleridge Bluffs, but there are some serious flaws in the characterization. Readers who care more about the thriller aspect of the book may not have the qualms that I did about whether the main characters were making sense.
If you are a reader who despises fairies, I would like to reassure you that there is little on the subject of fairies in this book. The murder victimIf you are a reader who despises fairies, I would like to reassure you that there is little on the subject of fairies in this book. The murder victim was an author and artist who was obsessed with them, but the fairies weren’t available for an investigation.
So Phryne decided to become a fashion columnist at the magazine where the victim worked, Women’s Choice. She’s an excellent fashion columnist, by the way. Yet I liked the editor even more. She reminded me of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown. Her motto was “any woman can”, not just exceptional women. Any woman can achieve her dreams. Her magazine was speaking to the “flappers” of 1920’s Australia who wanted to hear that message since they were already living it.
Yet the murder investigation is upstaged by another plotline involving pirates. Phryne’s favorite lover, Lin Chung, had gone to China on a silk buying expedition, but hadn’t returned. It begins to look like he's being held by South China Sea Pirates.
I consider Away With The Fairies one of the best Phryne Fisher novels I’ve read so far. It had suspense, romance, heroism and feminism which are all characteristics I like to see in any novel.
I enjoyed the circus traditions and vocabulary included in this novel. The magical element occurs in the context of centuries old beliefs. In circus fI enjoyed the circus traditions and vocabulary included in this novel. The magical element occurs in the context of centuries old beliefs. In circus families luck has always been considered an important factor in the success of an act, and losing that luck was often historically ascribed to a curse.
The two rival families that are the central focus of Girl on a Wire are the Maronis whose leading members are wire walkers, and the Garcias who star on the flying trapeze. Wire walkers and trapeze artists are both risk takers who rely heavily on precision, timing and luck. Despite these shared attributes, the Maronis and Garcias have not been allies. Instead there is a legacy of hatred between these two circus dynasties that is rooted in the past.
Jules, the sixteen year old Maroni protagonist, wants to uncover the reasons behind the enmity between the Maroni and Garcia clans; especially after she meets a charismatic male performer of her own generation whose surname is Garcia. Other reviews have called the Romeo and Juliet aspect of this novel predictable. I prefer to call it archetypal. It’s also important to note that the resolution of this story is far from predictable. I found it rather ingenious. Shakespeare would never have envisioned it. I expect to count this book among my top reads of 2014.
I liked the writing as usual, and I liked the mention of the Japanese American internment camp in Wyoming because people need to remember that.
Yet howI liked the writing as usual, and I liked the mention of the Japanese American internment camp in Wyoming because people need to remember that.
Yet how believable is the flashback? I asked someone who knows something about airplanes and her problem was the same as mine which is a spoiler.(view spoiler)[ So the plane, which is an old WWII era plane and not very maneuverable, has landed on a runway in a snowstorm with five snowplows still on the runway. The snowplows had brakes and they used them, but there are still the problems of the pilot's low visibility and the plane's lack of maneuverability. I think that there would have been a disaster on that runway. (hide spoiler)]
So I liked this story with a giant reservation. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more