Imagine living in a society where girls are not valued. In fact, they are property and subject to the whims of the males in their lives. Where they goImagine living in a society where girls are not valued. In fact, they are property and subject to the whims of the males in their lives. Where they go from father to husband and never have a say in what happens. This isn't a fairytale. It's a reality in Afghanistan, even after the removal of the Taliban.
When Nordberg goes to Afghanistan she expects to find out about the lives of women. What she doesn't expect to find is an underground movement of women who are posing as men. And it's something everybody knows but doesn't speak on. More commonly found in pre-pubescent girls, it has become custom to turn a girl into a boy either for running errands, helping in a shop, or to give luck that a boy will be born next. The girls are normally returned to being their birth gender before puberty starts and they are married. But there are a few exceptions.
It's hard to imagine changing yourself into a different person to be integrated in society and have freedom of movement but that is exactly what happens in Afghan culture. Whether it is for necessity to survive and get an income or because there is shame from having all girls, the reasons are varied but all widely accepted. Nordberg does a great job of showing the different personalities of the girls that have been boys for awhile and their history. It was interesting to read about how they handled the transition back (if they transitioned) and how it set them up for the rest of their lives. The different reactions of people to her was telling as well, because as a foreigner she had a lot of freedom compared to most, but was still treated differently based on her gender.
The reporting in this book was handled very well. Nordberg researched, talked to many people, and got the different sides of everything. Pretty standard, but sadly not something that happens with a lot of journalists anymore. I think the attention she paid to the leads and as in-depth as she went in her reporting was remarkable. Especially considering she was in a closed-society that doesn't encourage outsiders to make contact with women. Sure, it probably helped she was a woman herself, but it's still a difficult culture to navigate and get answers. Which makes this view pretty important. Her take of the situation, that not just women should be being helped, but the men who encourage education in women should be helped as well, is an important thought and one frequently overlooked. And the stories are engaging and well written, done in a professional way but still having a lot of detail. I could have kept reading if there was more.
I think this is a great book that shows a hidden side of Afghan culture that could be key to improving lives for women over there. I definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in women's studies or Afghan culture.
**This book was received in a Goodreads Givaway**
The Underground Girls of Kabul Copyright 2014 333 pages
Sometimes you read about a character you absolutely can't stand or relate to. But more on that later. This book was suggested to me, and as I always lSometimes you read about a character you absolutely can't stand or relate to. But more on that later. This book was suggested to me, and as I always like a good conversation about books, I told him I would read it. Hermann Hesse is a pretty well known author, although I've heard said that this book is one of his more misunderstood ones.
Harry Haller is a recluse, a wolf, as he likes to call himself. He spends his time contemplating poetry, music, books, in the privacy of his own rooms and has never learned to dance nor unleash the more animalistic side of him, despite knowing that it lies dormant within him. When he meets a woman named Hermine, his world starts to change though. She introduces him to dancing, pleasures and cheap thrills, and eventually to the magic theatre, where he is taken on a ride so out of the normal that he cannot tell what is real and what is not.
It was interesting, when talking with the friend who suggested this book, to discover just how different he and I viewed Harry Haller. I viewed him as narcissistic and with a superiority complex. He viewed him as misunderstood and socially awkward. I guess it really is true that our own life experiences shape how we view things. My reasoning for finding Haller narcissistic were a result of his constant moaning about how the upper classes of society didn't understand or appreciate his views on art, literature, etc. And that dancing, etc. that he secretly was interested in was considering lower class by him and more animalistic, a different side to him. It was as if he felt himself so superior to either group of people, that he couldn't fit in despite trying. I just found it a real turn-off. I also didn't like the way he discarded a certain character once finished with his development of his own character. It's like learning much from a good book and then setting fire to it when you're done reading. Destruction with no real purpose.
That being said, if Hesse's intent was to make me dislike Haller then he did a very good job. The book is descriptive and evokes emotion, if not necessarily the positive kind. But the first third of a book was a whiney drag to get through. I got tired of Haller describing himself and his suffering of being alone and it wasn't until Hermine entered the picture that things actually got interesting. I still didn't like the social interactions he had, but at least there were new characters that offered different perspectives. The Magic Theatre was also intriguing and the images evoked from the writing were disturbing yet colorful and varied. It was like having a very vivid nightmare. I realize that I may not fully understand the emotions or worldview that Hesse was expressing through Haller, but I just couldn't connect with any part of him which made this a difficult read. It was like looking at a piece of abstract art; it may appeal to some and I can appreciate that the artist had a lot of thoughts and emotions going into the work, but I certainly don't want to hang it in my house.
I think you can be of two minds of this book, you either like it or you don't. For me, I can't say that I enjoyed it, other than enjoying the debate about the writing and character motivations that came out of it.
Travels with Casey; one immediately compares the title to the Travels with Charlie written by Steinbeck. And that's kind of the point. The author thouTravels with Casey; one immediately compares the title to the Travels with Charlie written by Steinbeck. And that's kind of the point. The author thought about that classic book and then decided to do his own spin on it. Take his dog on a trip around the country in an RV, but instead of learning about the people, he wanted to learn about the dogs of the country.
Denizet-Lewis never really felt connected to his dog. Sure he took care of Casey well, made sure he had everything he needed, but he always felt as if maybe Casey didn't want to be his dog. There just wasn't a connection with him despite several years together. So on a writing assignment he decides to pack it up and see if being stuck in an RV together will do anything for that connection. Along the way he'll stop at various points in the US known for Dog Shows, unique dog parks, dog people, and other such things relating to dogs.
Despite this being a book about dogs, Denizet-Lewis encounters several different people as well. From the guy who will stop at nothing to find a lost dog, to the guy who lives with wolf-dogs, people can be just as different as dog breeds. Some of them he describes as a bit crazy, but he takes care to show the goodness that they all have and the common bond of dog ownership. These are all people, that for various reasons, are obsessed with their dogs or helping dogs. And it's nice to read about that sometimes when there's so much on the news that points to the other directions. For himself, Denizet-Lewis tells you all about his flaws, but he comes across as a genuinely likable guy.
I liked the pace of this book. While there were sections I would have liked to read more on (Best Friends Animal Sanctuary) I think overall the different snippets were enough to keep the book moving along and interesting. I enjoyed all the different things related to dogs that he found on his travels and didn't know about some of the others (dog shaped hotel, etc.). The only part I didn't really like was that so much of his personal life and drama invaded the book. I think it's probably more of a memoir/dog travel book and while there was nothing particularly out there, I guess I just expected it to be more about the dogs and less about his personal anguish. It was a mix between. Again, that doesn't mean this book was poorly written, it just wasn't what I expected based on the title.
For those that like memoirs and books about dogs this is probably going to be a good read. It has enough whimsy mixed with enough serious topics to keep it interesting.
I'd love to travel, I'm somewhat scared of commitment. These are the things that make me readily identify with the author of this book. Even though inI'd love to travel, I'm somewhat scared of commitment. These are the things that make me readily identify with the author of this book. Even though in reality I'm nothing like her. While she's out traveling the world, I've never been out of the country (unless you count the Canadian side of Niagara Falls). While she bounces from relationship to relationship and seemingly doesn't care about sticking with one person at a time, I'm a serial monogamist. So why on earth am I so drawn to her life?
Eaves decides during college that she needs to travel. Her boyfriend at the time goes all over the world and it inspires her to do more with her life. She bounces along from Egypt, to Yemen, eventually finishing up college and going on to other relationships, to New Zealand, Australia, and other places. She has a few more boyfriends, goes back to school again, and travels to a few more countries. She never stops moving. And this book tells of all that moving, although it mostly focuses on her relationships.
The relationships in this book are somewhat shallow. Eaves herself admits love to several different men, sometimes at the same time, and it makes it hard to know whether what she was feeling was deep or authentic. Not that I'm to judge, I'm sure you can love multiple people on that level, but with the ease that she separates herself from some of these relationships, it calls it into question. For herself, we recognize that she doesn't want to be held down. That she likes the freedom of travel and that she seems to enjoy having superficial relationships that she can easily be freed from. She's very solitary in a way.
I enjoyed most of this book's descriptions of travel. Towards the end it was more about her relationships, and I would have liked to have more detail on the countries she was staying in. It seems that she sacrificed the part about travel for the part about social and her somewhat controlling boyfriend in the latter part of the book. Granted, she was in France, which she didn't think was terribly exciting, but I'm sure there were some positive things about it and some beautiful sights. Overall though, I thought the book moved fast and that it kept me fully engrossed in what was happening.
I enjoyed this book, although I recognize not everyone may agree with the way that Eaves travels or her relationships. I found it an interesting, non-conformist way of living life.
I'm not a vegetarian. I used to be, but needed the protein in my diet to be healthy and switched back. But I still prefer vegetarian meals a lot of thI'm not a vegetarian. I used to be, but needed the protein in my diet to be healthy and switched back. But I still prefer vegetarian meals a lot of the time and enjoy using a variety of cookbooks to create a delicious meatless dish. This book was only so-so for me, and I think it probably would be a good introduction to vegetarian dishes for those who are used to being "meat and potatoes" people.
Easy Dinners Vegetarian aims at providing quick and simple dishes that don't involve meat. There's an introduction to healthful eating that provides a quick overview of what it is to be vegetarian. Next we go into the chapters with different recipes.
The first chapter is Eggs & Cheese. This is a quick way to get protein (eggs) and fat (cheese). You can be sure that there are frittatas, omelets, etc. in this chapter. The Asparagus Potato Scramble was ok but definitely could have used a little more seasoning. The Vegetable Quesadillas were ok, they had a good filling that was mostly cheese. One of the better recipes in this section was the Cheesy Egg Wedges, I enjoyed the use of tomato sauce over the wedge. The Olive-Potato Frittata was dry but had good flavor. The Spinach-Feta Frittata was not as dry, and had good flavor but would have been made excellent by a little more seasoning. The same applies to the Curried Eggs with Lentils & Rice.
The second chapter is Pasta. The Ceese Tortellini with Cannellini Bean Sauce wasn't too bad. It definitely had a strong beany taste. Pasta with Primavera Sauce was ok, the sauce just didn't have much of a taste to it. Teriyaki Penne suffered from the same lack of flavor, as did the Pasta with Three Cheeses.
The third chapter is Grains, Beans & Vegetables. Spicy Black Beans and Rice just didn't look good as a finished product but it did have a nice flavor to it. Mixed Bean & Portobello Ragout was ok, but didn't inspire a want of seconds. One of the better dishes in this chapter was the Couscous Cakes with Black Bean Salsa, it was a great way to use up some leftover couscous. The Lentil & Veggie Tostadas were fun to eat but could have used some spice. The Veggie Skillet was pretty good and made a lot that helped to feed me for the whole week as leftovers.
The fourth chapter is Soups. I didn't end up using any recipes from this section but they did look as they'd be more flavorful than the rest of the book. Soups like Beer-Cheese soup and chili were found in this section.
The fifth chapter is Main-Dish Salads. I didn't make any salad either as I just like to throw my salads together with whatever is available. But it did seem as if pasta salads were predominant in this chapter.
The sixth chapter is Sandwiches & Pizzas. The Sauteed Onion & Tomato Sandwiches were messy but delicious. The Grilled Cheese-Veggie Sandwiches sounded like a good idea, but I didn't end up liking the flavor combination of cabbage and swiss.
The book finished off with an index and an emergency substitutions page along with some metric conversions. Overall this is a good book for a beginner vegetarian cook. But it just didn't have a lot of flavor. When you're going to leave out meat, which is a very heavy seasoner to food, you have to make sure to have something aside from cheese to flavor your meal, or it comes out very bland. Which is what happened with these recipes. A bit more spice, some more herbs, it would have went a long way to making this a fantastic book. Regardless though, I'm sure that some who prefer plainer food would really enjoy the recipes in here.
What would you do if you were a journalist and told that you shouldn't travel by plane for an entire year? Would you heed the warning, or would you coWhat would you do if you were a journalist and told that you shouldn't travel by plane for an entire year? Would you heed the warning, or would you continue to do as you please for your jobs sake. Terzani decided to heed the warning and since he still needed to make a living, traveled around Asia and Europe any way but by plane.
After a fortune teller tells him that he shouldn't travel by plane, Terzani decides to make an exploration not only of Asia, but also of the different seers and fortune tellers that are found in each of the countries he visits. He wants to see how accurate they are and whether or not they'll echo the warning against flight like the original. Along his journeys he also comments on how the different countries have changed, what the leadership is like, how the people live, and the difficulties of travel in each country.
Terzani is a somewhat mixed narrator. For some people he shows the utmost respect and describes kindly, others he shows nothing but disdain. And honestly, those two categories kind of merged all the people together for me as all the ones he liked had the same attributes and all the ones he didn't had the same attributes so they didn't seem like as many people as what he actually met. And then there was his wife. Despite his constant mention of her I still didn't feel as if I knew that much about her. Himself he doesn't really describe other than to relate what the fortune tellers say about him.
I found this book excruciatingly repetitive. While at first it was interesting after awhile I got tired of him describing going to a fortune teller and having his fortune read. The countries, people and places might as well have all be the same for me and it slowed down the pace dramatically. That's not to say he isn't a good writer. He has a clear way of writing and there is a substantial amount of detail. It was just slow moving and didn't capture my interest despite the fact that it should have been an interesting topic. The pace was also weird in that the first half the book only captured two months of the year while the second half captured the rest of the year. I think had it been drawn out more evenly it might have been a little more interesting.
I can't say that I'd recommend this book to anyone unless they really liked mysticism with a little hint of travel. There was just too much of the same story in the book.
Montgomery went in search of magic. Well actually he just wanted to trace his ancestor's footsteps, but then his mission quickly became the unknown anMontgomery went in search of magic. Well actually he just wanted to trace his ancestor's footsteps, but then his mission quickly became the unknown and magic once he was in Melanesia. This book, rather than be on comparative religion and travel like I thought it would be, actually read more as a memoir (although to be sure there is religion and travel included).
As a young boy, Montgomery discovered journals from his missionary ancestor and the stories contained within fascinated him enough that he wanted to retrace those steps in history. Armed with his savings account and a little bit of knowledge on writing in the travel industry, he flies out to the islands in the Pacific to meet with the locals and see if there is any traditional religion left or if everyone had converted to Christianity. What he found was a surprising mix between the two and a people divided by their beliefs.
While Montgomery fully fleshes himself and his beliefs in the book, I couldn't help but feeling that the local people were left more two-dimensional. They all had a personality quirk that set them off but their true description was in their religion and that seemed to be what defined them. Their actual personal lives, hopes, and dreams we never heard much about and so it made it hard to care about their other beliefs. Mongomery at least was interesting in his own thought exploration and it was interesting to see the goals of his travels change as he progressed through the islands.
The premise was a good one. He wanted to see what those before him had seen and how the missionaries' work had changed the islands. But then he started wanting to see the magic side and the customs that the native people gave up in favor of Christianity. He puts in a lot of detail, but I do think that it starts to get repetitive and drawn out after awhile. Every person's story seemed the same and I felt like I was reading about the same person over and over again. There were a few standouts; mainly about the missionary Patterson and some of the older stories and I did enjoy those parts of the book. As for the other stories though I would rather have read more about the landscape and less about the people's betel nut habit.
An ok book. It has a lot of interesting points from an anthropological standpoint but it presents it in a way that can be quite dry at times.
When you think of realistic fiction you probably don't think of the protagonist as being an elephant. But it was an elephant in this book. Based off oWhen you think of realistic fiction you probably don't think of the protagonist as being an elephant. But it was an elephant in this book. Based off of the real life circus elephant Topsy, Far Stream has a long sad story that shows much about how the circus industry was a hundred years ago.
Topsy was born Far Stream and at a very early age was captured and shipped across the seas to America where she was separated from what remaining family she had left and sold into the circus industry. Throughout her life she is passed around to different shows, either by selling or because the circus itself was sold and she encounters other elephants. Nothing remains constant in her life except the cruelty used to keep elephants in line when they don't behave and like most other elephants, Topsy grew tired of the constant abuse and started to turn "bad" and to what humans considered dangerous.
Topsy is a likable protagonist. You actually feel bad for her plight and the things she was forced to do. I'm sure more than a few people will be put off from the circus when they read this book even though it is hoped that more humane practices of animal care are followed today. Her connections to the other elephants were interesting, especially her sister Red Stream. And it shows that animals are capable of affection too, not just humans, and that they experience a range of emotions as well. The humans in this story I didn't really care for. Sure there were a few good ones, but that was just relative in terms of the bad ones. I found it hard to believe that there wasn't one person who didn't subscribe to treating the animals well no matter how they were behaving.
I've read other books about circus elephants and other books with the elephant as a protagonist, but never a book that combined the two. I think it was an interesting way to present the story. The pace flowed nicely and I found myself having a hard time putting down the book as I wanted to find out what would happen next. Topsy's story was just that engrossing. Since it is based on the real life Topsy there are a lot of true facts in this book as well, although the author admits that he borrowed from other elephant's stories to give Topsy a complete history. Which is why this is a fiction book, and not a history book. But it's still very informative on the subject.
This is a good book for animal lovers (although parts will make you sad) and very nicely written. I would definitely recommend this to people interesting in either the circus or elephants.
**This book was received as a Free Advanced Review Copy**
If this movie wasn't a part of your childhood, I feel really really bad for you. Because the Neverending Story was fantastic (I heard they made sequelIf this movie wasn't a part of your childhood, I feel really really bad for you. Because the Neverending Story was fantastic (I heard they made sequels, I wouldn't know about those). But this review isn't actually for the movie, this is for the book! I'm ashamed to say I never knew a book even existed until recently. But since it did, I knew I had to read it.
What will surprise most is that this book goes far beyond what the movie did, this is Bastian's total adventure to Fantastica and not just Atreyu's story. Bastian is a picked on little boy, who, drawn to a book in a cranky man's bookstore, steals a book and holes up in his school's attic to read it. There he is swept into the world of Fantastica where the Childlike Empress is dying and only a young hero named Atreyu can save her. He is set on a quest to find the cure for her, and Bastian is a key to that cure and will have many adventures himself as a result of the mysterious book.
Bastian is a typical nerdy little boy. Other kids pick on him and he retreats into a world of fantasy. It's something that many can identify with. Atreyu on the other hand, is the opposite of shy Bastian. He is an adventurer, brave and strong, and the type of person little Bastian's want to be. He also has a lot of wisdom for a person as young as he is, which is slightly unbelievable at times. But I do have to say I enjoyed Atreyu's character far more than some of Bastian's antics. There are so many side characters that you can get lost with all of them, but at least they're wildly imaginative.
I enjoyed the first half of this book and didn't really care for the second half. This may have been because the first half encompassed the movie I so fondly remember and the second was Bastian's adventure and a bit more bizarre. It just seemed that things happened a little too easy for Bastian and I grew bored even as I was introduced to more of Fantasia. Atreyu's journey was more selfless and interesting. There was an actual purpose and an outside force to be fighting against whereas Bastian's journey was more introspective and meandering. The description for all was quite good though and the author sure had an imagination. Some of the creatures he dreamed up were nothing that I'd ever heard of before.
A good book that's not only for children it will bring adults back to their childhood memories and introduce a new generation to the wonders of Fantastica and the possibility of a never-ending story.