A book that reads the bible selectively, ignoring many standard commentaries as well. Trible paints a picture of women as perpetual victims in the Bib...moreA book that reads the bible selectively, ignoring many standard commentaries as well. Trible paints a picture of women as perpetual victims in the Bible. Ignores every strong woman from Sarah to Rebecca to Shifra and Puah to Miriam to Deborah...and I could go on. This is a case of a woman with a cause who wants to read what she wants into material. Despite the academic presentation of the book, I found it intellectually dishonest and manipulative. I would not have finished the book had it not been for a class. (I enjoyed the class very much, by the way.)(less)
This much lauded and extraordinary guide to screenwriting has a multitude of good advice for all types of narrative writing. Newcomers to writing will...moreThis much lauded and extraordinary guide to screenwriting has a multitude of good advice for all types of narrative writing. Newcomers to writing will learn essentials, and old hands will even pick up a trick or two.
For sensitive readers: McKee illustrates his points with segments of real, classic screenplays. While his writing is relatively free of expletive, and so on, two of the screenplays he mentions include unsavory details.
However, although many of its tips can be used by those who write novels or short stories, it falls short of a comprehensive handling of those forms of story. I highly recommend all writers read this book, but don't take what McKee says too seriously, especially at the end of the book.(less)
A very uneven collection of essays about writing, most focusing on the particulars of the short story.
I thought that about half of the content was qu...moreA very uneven collection of essays about writing, most focusing on the particulars of the short story.
I thought that about half of the content was quite pedestrian, only helpful to the most novice of writers. There are standouts among the essays, though: Eckert's "Checklist for Unsalable Stories" could prove useful, I found Cassill's essay on plot thought-provoking (and stocked with writing exercises), Rockwell's "Making the Scene" and "How not to Fizzle the Finale" pointed out problems I recently had with a story I'm working on (and possible solutions), and Joyce Carol Oates's preface provided a few memorable quotes.
Unlike some of the other readers, I did not think the book was sexist. Rather, because the book is from the 1960s, many of the stories selected for scrutiny hold more traditional values than the average "literary" story today. That doesn't really detract from the message of the essays.
However, some of the advice is a bit stale. I think that contemporary short stories do have somewhat different rules than those of the past, for example, the mash-up of genres has become quite commonplace.
I didn't feel like I wasted my time, but this is not my favorite Writing Book out there.(less)
Revealing autobiography (actually more like Q & A) by a Japanese teen with autism, translated by the celebrated novelist David Mitchell and his wi...moreRevealing autobiography (actually more like Q & A) by a Japanese teen with autism, translated by the celebrated novelist David Mitchell and his wife, K.A. Yashida.
Mitchell and Yashida have a child with autism themselves, and Mitchell's forward is beautifully written. Higashida's answers to questions many neurotypicals have about autism are revealing. My one concern is that Mitchell's strong belief in "The Reason I Jump"'s relevance contrasts with another statement he makes, one I can fully embrace: that there is no single "autism." Thus, while many people with autism probably identify with some of his answers, many of them may not.
While, I think the book contributes to our understanding of autism, it's only part of the picture. It's important to look at the narratives of both the "low" functioning and the "high" functioning (somewhat subjective terms), autistics with different personalities, and so on.
Still, I can recommend this book to those who have family members or work with people with autism. And I should add that this is a beautifully designed book, which definitely enhanced my reading experience.(less)
I read this book because I wanted to get a sense of how others write about spiritual matters for a general audience, and because I'd heard good things...moreI read this book because I wanted to get a sense of how others write about spiritual matters for a general audience, and because I'd heard good things about Mitch Albom's work.
Albom has a very interesting writing style, clear but simpler than in most adult books. The closest writer I can compare him to would be Andrew Clements, who writes mostly middle-grade material, but he makes it work. It's not flashy, but his storytelling is sound and the text just flies.
I really liked how Albom worked in the bits about Alexander Graham Bell. It could have been clunky or artificial, but it really connected to the main narrative.
I liked that there were both skeptical opinions and believers, and that people switched sides or could feel one thing about heaven, but the other way about the "miracle." The characters had real depth. I liked that what started as a simple story turned into a suspenseful thriller--although I figured things out rather faster than I think the author intended.
However, I think that the end should have been left a little more open-ended. (view spoiler)[I think it would have been enough for the main skeptic to be agnostic at the end and not made into a believer. I also would have liked the culprit turned in. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is a weird book in that it is about two male characters (mostly, at least) and yet feels almost like chick-lit. It's a very readable "odd couple"...moreThis is a weird book in that it is about two male characters (mostly, at least) and yet feels almost like chick-lit. It's a very readable "odd couple" type story, with likeable characters, but most of what happens is pretty predictable for an adult reader. I think the stakes were never quite high enough for the main character, too. There is some romance, but it's almost entirely chaste and pretty realistic for the age level.(less)
Really 4.5 stars. Chock full of amazing details about nearly three hundred years of American history, Marcus's book--for a writer, former teacher, and...moreReally 4.5 stars. Chock full of amazing details about nearly three hundred years of American history, Marcus's book--for a writer, former teacher, and book junky like me--made as compelling reading as a novel.
Having read a couple of his other books, which focused more tightly on specific figures in the history of children's books, I expected lots of anecdotes and so on, and this book had then aplenty. In addition, readers will find a wide historical sweep that explains all sorts of phenomena--past and present--in American children's literature.
My only complaint is that the book rushed through the last twenty years and excluded certain trends, such as the rise of the graphic novel and leveled reader as part of classroom reading instruction. It also described the rise of the independent bookseller, but not its fall, and barely touched on Amazon and other online booksellers.(less)
At the beginning of the book, I got a little concerned that this was going to rehash the same themes/scenes/etc. that I loved in the author's Three Go...moreAt the beginning of the book, I got a little concerned that this was going to rehash the same themes/scenes/etc. that I loved in the author's Three Good Deeds. I needn't have worried, because while Vande Velde uses a similar gimmick in this book, she definitely goes in a different direction. However, I still really didn't enjoy the book as much as others by her. Mostly, I found the narrator to go through too little change, too little interior transformation to go with her exterior one. A novel is supposed to follow a character's maturation or the like, and our princess didn't really change much at all. Also, the (very mild) "romance" bits at the end were entirely unnecessary to the story.(less)
The only problem I have with this book, is that it (like a similar book I've seen, Light by Jane Breskin Zalben) uses the translation of mitzvah as "d...moreThe only problem I have with this book, is that it (like a similar book I've seen, Light by Jane Breskin Zalben) uses the translation of mitzvah as "doing a good deed." Even if you don't want to use the word "commandment," you could use the words "each time you do the right thing." I think it's important that children learn that life is full of choices, and making the right ones is how we bring holiness into the world.(less)
I'm going to be up-front: I didn't finish the book and don't plan to.
For several months, I'd been looking forward to reading Gafla's first novel to ap...moreI'm going to be up-front: I didn't finish the book and don't plan to.
For several months, I'd been looking forward to reading Gafla's first novel to appear in English, and when I started it, I really enjoyed the creativity of Gafla's premise and his quirky storytelling.
A few chapters in, our hero meets a rapist who is in turn raped in prison, has his prison term extended after he kills his attacker, then he's finally murdered by his victim upon release. The entire scene is chock full of vulgar language and violence. Now, occasionally, I'll tolerate this in a book if I feel that it's essential to the plot/meaning/what have you.
So, I spent a couple days contemplating whether the scene had real artistic value or not.
I decided that I was not willing to finish. While the scene wasn't gratuitous, I felt that the points it served to demonstrate--1) karma/middah k'neged middah, and 2) the extremes of obsession can even continue to the next world--could have been demonstrated without the language or violence. In fact, I felt that this plot element was clicheed. Perhaps if I were immersed in Israeli culture, I'd feel differently, but the rapist who is in turn raped is such a prevalent American pop culture meme that it even appeared in a Sublime song in the 1990s. If would have actually added artistic merit to the work to use different means of proving the points Gafla needed to prove.
Despite this, I hope to read Gafla's work in the future. I enjoyed his original take on the Orpheus legend and his curious way of looking at the world.(less)
I love Joseph Bruchac's novels, many of which draw on his American Indian heritage, so when I saw this one that was inspired by the Slovak side of his...moreI love Joseph Bruchac's novels, many of which draw on his American Indian heritage, so when I saw this one that was inspired by the Slovak side of his family, I immediately picked it up.
The book is entertaining enough, the coming-of-age story of a young Slovakian prince, Rashko, whose parents have disappeared just as a nasty visitor arrives on their castle's doorstep. The only people home are his "lame-brained" brother, Paulek, and their servants and tutors. There is lots of magic and action, which will appeal to boys in particular.
There is an unreliable narrator, a detail I love, and it's pretty well executed by Bruchac. Dragon Castle interweaves a "legendary" time period and a later one that holds the central narrative. The latter was occasionally confusing, and I'm not sure Bruchac relayed the alternating timelines in the most articulate way.
Yes, this is a fairy tale, but there were certain events and characters that I found hard to believe. Also, I thought the "love interests" that appear at the end seemed tacked-on. They added nothing to the plot (except perhaps bringing in some female characters in a male-heavy book). I think these failures will hinder older teens and adults from thoroughly enjoying this book, which surprised me. Usually Joseph Bruchac's books appeal to a wide audience, I think.
There is no bad language, nothing truly objectionable. It would be appropriate for kids aged 11 and up.(less)
This is a re-issue of one of Pratchett's early works, with a lot of changes as well as some additional material popped in.
As in his Discworld books,...moreThis is a re-issue of one of Pratchett's early works, with a lot of changes as well as some additional material popped in.
As in his Discworld books, his humor and idiosyncratic style make this a wacky read. Our young hero lives among his microscopic tribesman in a rug-forest. They mine dropped sugar crystals, matchsticks, and so on for resources. Too much fun.
When "Fray" comes and destroys their tent camp, the tribe must move on to safer places...but they find that Fray is causing trouble elsewhere, too.
The audience for this book is wider than that of most of Pratchett's books, with children as young as 10 or 11 being capable of reading it. The only bad word in the whole thing is twice a character is about to call someone a "ba-----" and self-corrects (I think). My 11 y o laughed himself silly while reading The Carpet People.
I really wanted to know what "Fray" was and never got answers. Also, many Pratchett books are insightful and deep despite the silly surface, but this never delves as deeply.
End matter and new additions for this edition: I thought the color images did nothing for the book. However, I did very much enjoy the inclusion of the original, serial version of the story. Also, I got a lot out of Pratchett's explanation of the novel's history and how the new edition came to be.
I received this book via a Goodreads giveaway. (less)
I'm a big fan of Philip Reeve. I enjoyed the first two volumes of the Fever Crumb trilogy even more than the four-volume Mortal Engines series and the...moreI'm a big fan of Philip Reeve. I enjoyed the first two volumes of the Fever Crumb trilogy even more than the four-volume Mortal Engines series and the three-volume Larklight, so I had high hopes for Scrivener's Moon.
I pretty much hate books that are long not because of necessity, but because of poor editing. This book has the opposite problem. The pacing rushes us through one new discovery after another, without letting us enjoy the gradual discovery of the origins of the Scriven, the lost "cousins" to the Scriven, and what happened in the Downsizing. Much of the history of the Scriven and the Downsizing is provided via an info-dump offered by (view spoiler)[ a bevy of Stalkers plugged into a computer. (hide spoiler)] with no opportunity for readers, or Fever, to make their own guesses. Where's the suspense? These discoveries should have been hinted at gradually, one clue at a time.
Another complaint: There is a large amount of head-hopping. At first, it is broken up by chapter, or at least by scene, but as the story hits the last third, there are numerous instances of head-hopping within a single scene.
The best writing, unfortunately, is not from Fever's perspective, but from that of Charley Shallow. Unfortunately, he becomes so uniformly evil, he eventually becomes a caricature, rather than a complex and believable character. I felt this was a lost opportunity.
This book has a GBLT subplot, which parents should know before deciding whether the book is right for their family members. Even those readers who are comfortable with it may find that segment of the book poorly written. (view spoiler)[Frankly, teenage girls of all stripes (meaning both those who later identify as straight and as gay) frequently have crushes on other girls in their teens. Reeve should have introduced Fever's awareness of her attraction more gradually, with her more surprised and unsure of what what going on within her. It seems odd that Fever immediately decides she must be "falling in love" with Cluny Morvish...this is, after all the same Fever who was so confused when she started having feelings for Arlo. It's equally odd that she immediately decides that Cluny doesn't and cannot reciprocate her feelings. Fever is frankly so not-self-aware that her very rapid assessment of the situation is not believable. Also, the readers aren't won over to like Cluny, who is not terribly charismatic, so it's hard to understand why Fever would find her appealing. (hide spoiler)] Regardless of my personal beliefs about the appropriateness of LBGT material in YA novels, I'm docking the book for mishandling of this subplot.
More complaints: Like another commenter mentioned, I wanted Arlo back. It seemed odd to spend so much time on him in volume two of the trilogy, then dump not only him, but his scientific discoveries. I also wanted more of the Nightwights.
Mostly, I wanted Reeve back to his usual quality. There are moments of clever writing, elegant description, and humor in Scrivener's Moon, and I appreciated getting the scoop about the Downsizing, etc. at long last, but overall, I'd consider this novel a disappointment.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Long Earth has an interesting premise, but fell short of Pratchett at his peak. In the near-future, the world as we know it has ceased to exist. H...moreThe Long Earth has an interesting premise, but fell short of Pratchett at his peak. In the near-future, the world as we know it has ceased to exist. Humankind no long explores the stars, but an endless stream of alternate realities called "The Long Earth" which diverge from the known "Datum Earth" at differing points in time. Some people are natural "steppers" and can cross the boundaries unassisted, some cannot. The distinction between the two causes conflict among humankind.
Too many characters are introduced, pages and pages of little action are thrown in (simulating the tedium of "stepping" repeatedly to find new worlds), and there is little resolution by the end. You can see that Pratchett and Baxter are just setting up a series.
I very much enjoyed a few aspects of the book, most especially the predictions of how the world will change after the discovery of "the Long Earth." This book contains a small amount of foul language, but otherwise pretty non-offensive to my rather conservative sensibilities.
I prefer books that have some standalone merit, and I have yet to decide if I want to read the next installment based on this one. (less)