This collection starts with poems about a disintegrating relationship (or relationships?) with strong hints of infidelity. The tone is weary and sad a...moreThis collection starts with poems about a disintegrating relationship (or relationships?) with strong hints of infidelity. The tone is weary and sad and the poems are dripping with imagery. The verse gets over heavy after awhile - a single poem with such themes has a strong impact - but poem after poem can seem a bit much. This may be part of why the poet advises readers to read only a little at a time, which is rarely a bad idea with poetry. Just when I thought the tone was too overwhelming, though, a semi-humorous poem lightened the weight. And then things grew dark again....There's more vinegar than wine in this collection.
The verse is modern, somewhat informal, and well written, but sometimes the poems seem slightly inaccessible. The poems have a story-like quality, with characters, setting, and hints at a backstory. They are written mostly in first person. The collection is divided into sections each symbolized by a wine, with tasting notes, that I presume represents the tone of the section, though the connection was not always that clear.
I can perceive the quality of the poetry, even though the style and theme were not precisely my personal cup of tea. I'm sure many other lovers of poetry will appreciate these verses. There are a few f-bombs in these poems just to alert anyone who is bothered by that sort of thing; generally they are not gratuitous and the context is right.
Note: I received a free copy of this collection in exchange for an honest review.(less)
A sort of juvenile Things Fall Apart, A Distant Enemy chronicles a teenage boy's rage against the white man and the disintegrating traditions of his Y...moreA sort of juvenile Things Fall Apart, A Distant Enemy chronicles a teenage boy's rage against the white man and the disintegrating traditions of his Yu'pik culture. The boy's rage is largely misplaced. Joseph is half white himself, and he's angry at the father who abandoned him when he was eight. He gets himself into a spot of trouble through an act of retributive vandalism, and the the hole is dug deeper when he's framed for theft. But his real problem is his inner turmoil, the hatred that is making him into a person he doesn't really want to be. In comes Mr. Townsend, an outsider, a dreaded white man who uses classic English Literature and compassion to draw Joseph out, communicate with him, and teach him a lesson about tolerance, a lesson Joseph's grandfather also tries to teach him. (In a reversal of norms, the older generation here is less alarmed by the encroachment of the white man, more aware of the improvements that have been made, than the younger generation.) The book is somewhat predictable, following a number of conventions, and nothing particularly unexpected happens. There's a lot of emotion and internal conflict, and I think this is the sort of books adults and teachers want young adults to read and think about, but which young adults don't actually much enjoy. The writing is good enough. The cultural details are well done. The best parts of the novel are when the grandfather is storytelling. The characters, other than Joseph, are not particularly well developed, but nor are they merely stock stereotypes.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.(less)
This is a very short children's book. The illustrations are simple and cute. I laughed the whole time I read it, but I'm not sure what to make of it....moreThis is a very short children's book. The illustrations are simple and cute. I laughed the whole time I read it, but I'm not sure what to make of it. If it's a parody on children's books, it's not bad at all. If it's meant to be taken seriously as a children's book, however...I don't know. Some editing for punctuation and capitalization is required either way. I had fun reading it anyway. I got a free copy through Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. And, honestly? I just don't know what to make of it. Therefore I'm reviewing it without assigning a rating. It does make me chuckle, though. But am I laughing with it or laughing at it? I don't know. And yet...I want to read it again. Why not? It only takes a couple of minutes to read. (less)
This book was categorized as “humor,” but it has pretentions to seriousness. If the publisher’s note and forward are any indication, it’s meant almost...moreThis book was categorized as “humor,” but it has pretentions to seriousness. If the publisher’s note and forward are any indication, it’s meant almost to be used as a personal spiritual devotional for your own “aha” moments. I think this would be best described as a collection of short poems about coffee. The collection consists of 140 “tweets,” which means the thoughts are 140 characters or less, but this I think, when done well, is a type of modern poetry – and for about half the entries, it is done well. Some of the entries did cause me to chuckle (that’s where the humor classification comes in, I suppose), but many more are earnest, and a few really were quite poetic. I do love coffee, and I love coffee shops, but I guess I don’t love it enough to want to read 140 short poems on the topic over and over again. This might make a decent coffee table book, if it were available in an affordable hardback edition.
Note: I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. (less)
This short story is a mystery/thriller of sorts set in a semi-Dickensian England. Mary doesn’t quite know who she is or why she’s afraid of the lights...moreThis short story is a mystery/thriller of sorts set in a semi-Dickensian England. Mary doesn’t quite know who she is or why she’s afraid of the lights or how she came to be where she is, but she’s trying to remember. The writing style is solid enough, with some good scenic detail, although the story does sometimes seem to slip in and out of dialect. The story was a quick and easy read, and I was interested to see how it would turn out. However, I never felt I got enough of a sense of any of the characters that I could care one way or the other about them. There wasn't enough backstory, and the story was wrapped up too quickly. I wanted more development.
Note: I received a free copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. (less)
This book has cute illustrations. It requires editing, as the author consistently used capital letters for dialogue tags, as in: “Snow gear,” Echoed A...moreThis book has cute illustrations. It requires editing, as the author consistently used capital letters for dialogue tags, as in: “Snow gear,” Echoed Adam, and sometimes two or three words are used when one would have worked better. The sentence structure is simple, on a child’s level, but some of the words might be a mouthful for the new reader (when the kids get “accessories” for the snowman, for instance). There’s nothing really poetic in the phrasing to capture the reader’s attention. A child will probably enjoy the pictures more than the story. Great children’s literature captures many of the elements of adult fiction (plot, character, poetry) on a child’s level (how, I don’t know; I admire children’s authors who can do that). The story in this book doesn’t manage to do that, but with the pictures, it may be a pleasing enough read for the child who loves winter and is excitedly anticipating playing in the snow. The point of the story, I think, is to show kids they can work together and independently of adults to accomplish something. My kids are a little too old for this book, but this is the type of book that, at age 2-4, they might have liked paging through but not necessarily having read again and again.
Note: I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. (less)
An Unproductive Woman is billed as “women’s fiction,” and it is (centering as it does around domestic life and emotions), but it might be even better...moreAn Unproductive Woman is billed as “women’s fiction,” and it is (centering as it does around domestic life and emotions), but it might be even better categorized as a work of “inspirational fiction.” The theme of forgiveness pervades the novel. The template is similar to that of much Christian fiction, except, of course, that the characters are Muslim (in a polygamist, highly patriarchal culture). The object is reconciliation and the spiritual growth of the characters, and we see an eventual improvement in them. You have your stock almost-too-devout-to-be-true character in Asabe. (She does reach a breaking point, however, when she strikes her husband’s junior wife, that shows her imperfection, but she is given plenty of excuse for that.) You also have your clear antagonist in need of spiritual transformation (Sauda), and your more nuanced protagonist who is meant to be sympathetic but also clearly in need of spiritual transformation (Adam).
I say the reader is meant to sympathize with Adam (while loathing parts of him), but I had some trouble doing just that. For much of the book, the regret that haunts him is expressed in anger and unkindness and desperation rather than in repentance. Asabe loves her husband Adam, but it is unclear why. He’s angry and self-centered and sometimes unkind to her, but she tells us she loves him. If it were just a matter of time and familiarity and family affection and duty, that would be understandable, but I never felt like I got a clear sense of why she was attracted to him as a man, and she claims to love him in that sort of romantic way. I think Asabe is in some sense supposed to be the ideal model of a Muslim woman –submissive (without being a complete doormat; she leaves Adam once and stands up for the weak), forgiving, faithful, devout, and assured that whatever her current troubles or mistreatment, Allah is still to be trusted.
I had no sense of what country this book was taking place in for quite some time. Perhaps the author mentions the country toward the beginning, but if she did, I missed it. The country's name does come up a few times closer toward the end, but I would have liked more scene-setting in the beginning.
As with many Old Testament stories, An Unproductive Woman gives one a concept of why polygamy is such a bad idea through the depiction of its inevitable perils, jealousies, and pain. The author lets us into the characters’ heads, but I never felt like I could fully relate to any of them. There are many characters, and some are better developed than others. We are given a backstory for everyone, even if he or she is introduced relatively late into the novel. The writing is generally good, though the author sometimes states the obvious instead of letting the reader grasp it from context. I found it fairly easy to read the book, though there were moments when the pace slowed.
I think this book might be just the book for a Muslim reader seeking inspirational fiction, but perhaps a bit less so for the secular westerner wanting to read a work of literary fiction about another culture (though it may satisfy some of that audience too). Think less Khaled Hosseini and Juhmpa Lahiri and more…I can’t think of a representative Christian fiction author, but that’s the comparison I’d go for. This is not to say An Unproductive Woman is overly didactic – it’s not, though the religious messages are clear enough. It’s just to say that there is a clear spiritual message and object in the novel that is more in keeping with inspirational than literary fiction.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. (less)
This small, parent-targeted guidebook is now two years old, and some of the information may now be out of date. However, the book provides website lin...moreThis small, parent-targeted guidebook is now two years old, and some of the information may now be out of date. However, the book provides website links, and so hours and prices can be easily checked prior to going to an attraction. A portion of the information in this guide book can also be found online in Yahoo articles. The website below lists several of those articles under "Children and Family":
I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for a fair and honest review. I chose to download it because, I must admit, the titl...moreI received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for a fair and honest review. I chose to download it because, I must admit, the title made me chuckle. I read the book twice – once with my nine-year-old daughter, and once with my seven-year-old son, to get their perspectives on the story.
The illustrations have a slight anime-style quality to them, and are generally good. The text could use a thorough proofreading: there were a number of missing commas and the odd its for it’s and that sort of thing. The book is full of potty humor, which is aimed to amuse the young child. The plot is minor, and the primary point of the book is to entertain a child who can’t help but find fart jokes entertaining. The picture book is formatted well for the Kindle for iPad ap and has a short amount of text (a few sentences) with each illustration.
As my daughter read this, she chuckled to herself several times. She enjoyed making the sound effects. When we were done, I asked, “What did you think?” Her one-word reply, “Funny.” I then asked, “Do you think it was well written?” Her response? “What does that mean?” “Well, is it the type of book you could read again and again? Like Harold and the Purple Crayon?” She said, “I guess.”
My younger son I expected to be even more entertained by the book. After all, seven-year-old boys are most likely the target audience. To my surprise, however, he chuckled less often in the course of reading than my daughter did. When I asked him what he thought of the book, he said, “I’m not sure,” and when I asked if he would want to read it again, he said, “I don’t think so.” When it came to the question of quality, and I again clarified with the Harold example (i.e. “Do you think it’s well written, as in, for instance, Harold and the Purple Crayon?”), he replied, “Not even close.”
So there you have it – the assessment of two children. I think children age three to six may be a better market for this book than my own. If you have a young kid who loves potty humor, it’s probably worth an inexpensive ($2.99) Kindle purchase, but it’s not the kind of thing most parents would want to crack out big bucks for in hardback. In general, I suspect dads will enjoy reading it to the kiddos more than moms.(less)
"If I have joined the ranks of the reformers," writes Bastiat, "it is solely for the purpose of persuading them to leave people alone." This 19th cent...more"If I have joined the ranks of the reformers," writes Bastiat, "it is solely for the purpose of persuading them to leave people alone." This 19th century Frenchman has written a pamphlet that represents libertarianism in a nutshell. The purpose of the law, he argues, is to be a collective means of protecting the individual rights to life, liberty, and property and no more than that. As such, the law can never be used to infringe these rights (as, for instance, by plundering one group for the benefit of another, which occurs through taxation, protectionism, cronyism, etc.). The pamphlet is heavy with theory, and shows little concern for the practical - as I said, libertarianism in a nutshell. The emphasis is on the philosophical ideal, an ideal that even Bastiat knows is unobtainable. The law will be perverted beyond this limited purpose, whether because of "stupid greed" or "false philanthropy." This is what always hangs me up about libertarianism: given that the ideal cannot and will not be obtained, given that the law will always be perverted, what's the most practical thing to do? How can libertarianism last more than a week before someone seizes the reins and perverts the law, and if the system cannot last more than a week, what does it matter how good it is in theory? That said, there is much that is intellectually appealing in this treatise, and I highlighted many lines. The essay was much easier to read than I anticipated, though it was somewhat repetitive in parts. (less)
This book teaches kids that, yes, their parents swear sometimes but, no, neither the parents nor the kids should swear. Why? Because it isn’t “nice,”...moreThis book teaches kids that, yes, their parents swear sometimes but, no, neither the parents nor the kids should swear. Why? Because it isn’t “nice,” but, more importantly, it’s lazy and too easy a habit to fall into. This is not the best of the Berenstain Bears offerings but, what can I say? My son loves these books. They appeal to kids by addressing every possible parenting fail, and then making the parenting fail a-okay in the end. I wish all my parenting fails were neatly wrapped up in 32 pages. (less)
Pretty much any book my reluctant reader can read aloud and wants to read aloud gets an automatic four stars from me. It doesn't hold up as well to re...morePretty much any book my reluctant reader can read aloud and wants to read aloud gets an automatic four stars from me. It doesn't hold up as well to repeat readings as, say, Frog and Toad, but it's still tolerable. It's a cute story of friendship, and one I recall fondly from my own childhood. Do they any longer make quality children's books that are easy for a first or second grader to read? Every one I've found that fits both criteria was written prior to 1970. (less)
A much needed lesson for my children, but, alas, I fear it did not sink in at all. If only real life were precisely like a Berenstain Bears book, and...moreA much needed lesson for my children, but, alas, I fear it did not sink in at all. If only real life were precisely like a Berenstain Bears book, and if only I was as patient and calm as Mama Bear. (less)