I was at the library with my kids when I saw this book sitting on the shelf. Benjamin of Tudela? Who the heck is Benjamin of Tudela? Twelfth century?...moreI was at the library with my kids when I saw this book sitting on the shelf. Benjamin of Tudela? Who the heck is Benjamin of Tudela? Twelfth century? Why is twelfth spelled so weird?
I teach social studies, so I should know this guy, right? I mean, I teach about Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta - And they hit the road not TOO much later than this guy, Ben, right? (1271 and 1325 respectively - Benjamin of Tudela left in 1159). Besides, if Benjamin was first, why aren't we learning about him?
The author, Uri Shulevitz brings up these points. Claiming that Benjamin was even the first European to record the name "China." Actually, Shulevitz's exact words are, "Benjamin was the first European to mention the existence of China, which he called Tsin." That's a pretty bold statement to make - Shulevitz has to mean "mention in writing," right?
I imagine that's the whole reason we teach about Polo and Battuta: because they wrote books about their travels. (Each appropriately titled: Travels.) But Benjamin of Tudela wrote about his as well. So why don't we teach about him?
Probably because, dang: there have been a lot of people in the history of the world. I mean, like... a lot a lot.
The book has a fantastic map of his travels, too:
(That's from a blog promoting the book.)
He traveled far, and the journey took 14 years. And some of it was covered by the other travelers as well. For instance, I specifically remember reading all about The Assassins when I read The Travels by Marco Polo. And the map is beautifully rendered, but when I compared it to the other maps, Benjamin just didn't travel as far. Here, I overlayed in red his journeys compared with that of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta. Sorry that the other colors between Polo and Battuta are so hard to tell apart.
That isn't to say we shouldn't teach about him. In fact, this book would tie in really well with so many standards and indicators I have to cover. (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Middle-East, Caliphate, Crusades, trade-routes, etc...) So, maybe I will teach it.
I will add that it was funny finding this in the same section of the library as We Are In a Book and Scaredy Squirrel. Although it's a "short children's picture book," the reading level is extremely high. And there's a lot of text. For example, I would imagine even my 7th graders would struggle with sentences such as this one: "When the crowd saw the Caliph, followed by a long retinue of all the lords of Islam, the princes of Arabia, the people grew excited and their singing increased." I tried to trick my 5 year old daughter into reading it with me, but she was having none of it.
Loved the book. Loved learning about the guy. If our school happens to run into some money, I'm going to ask for a classroom collection. ...The economy's looking great these days, right?(less)
And consider this: (mild spoilers ahead): When that first death comes (at what, mile 6? Mile 8?) the participants are not ready for it. They're shocked. We all are. Is this really happening? Can you really die?
They're still young traveling on the road of life. The first time someone experiences death - the death of others, it is shocking. And it's shocking and troubling when someone young dies. There's something inside us that says: this shouldn't happen. It's not just.
But we continue on our way, because... I mean... what else can we do?
And later on, more people die - to the point we get accustomed death. To the point where, we don't look forward to it - but it's no longer unexpected. We realize people die. And we realize it could happen to us as well.
There are people around us who seem like they could go on forever, and die suddenly. And there are people who seem like they should have died years ago, but they're still clinging to life.
And we try to cling to what (and who) we love, but we can't. We won't be able to. At least, not in this life.
There's a point early on in the book where some of the characters are talking about the ending of a previous Long Walk. There were only two walkers left. All of their friends were gone. They were tired, and they didn't care about the prize anymore. They just kept walking because... well... that's just what you do. But either one of them would have been happy to embrace death at that point.
King (writing as Bachman) does this all through the subtle backdrop of dystopian fiction. But this dystopian universe he's created has little to do with this story. It's only a minor vehicle for the telling.
And it's a gripping story. Who would have thought a bunch of guys walking would have made for a 5 star book? Oh wait: Stephen King... that's who.(less)
Calling all artists! I want... wanted... still want to write a review that was is strictly pictures - all original art - but lack the requisite art sk...moreCalling all artists! I want... wanted... still want to write a review that was is strictly pictures - all original art - but lack the requisite art skills to pull it off. If you're willing to help with this, message me. Read the review if you want more information.
I feel like there's too much in this book to write a thorough review and go in depth into every chapter. And almost all of the chapters had an image - or several images - that really popped out at me.
First a the premise of the book, and the three or four lines that stuck out the most:
The book makes the argument that the real story of WWII is told between Russia and Germany. That's where the majority of the killing and suffering took place. The consequences are still being played out evenespecially today when Ukraine is protesting, and Russia is sending in troops.
We're fed the story of Auschwitz, and made to believe that concentration camp is synonymous with death camp: it's not. Cast aside are Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor... The Iron Curtain came down, and their histories - though not forgotten - have been ignored/altered.
We forget the camps where there were no survivors, for there were no tales to be told. Those tales fall in the Bloodlands.
The lines, first:
"It is less appealing, but morally more urgent, to understand the actions of the perpetrators. The moral danger, after all, is never that one might become a victim but that one might be a perpetrator or a bystander. It is tempting to say that a Nazi murderer is beyond the pale of understanding. ...Yet to deny a human being his human character is to render ethics impossible. To yield to this temptation, to find other people inhuman, is to take a step toward, not away from, the Nazi position. To find other people incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus to abandon history." pg. 400
"The identification with the victim affirms a radical separation from the perpetrator. The Treblinka guard who starts the engine, or the NKVD officer who pulls the trigger is not me, his is the person who kills someone like myself. Yet it is unclear whether this identification with the victim brings much knowledge, or whether this kind of alienation from the murderer is an ethical stance. It is not at all obvious that reducing history to morality plays makes anyone moral." pg. 399
"When meaning is drawn from killing, the risk is that more killing would bring about more meaning." pg. 402
"...But this number, like all the others, must be seen not as 5.7 million, which is an abstraction few of us can grasp, but as 5.7 million times one. This does not mean some generic image of a Jew passing through some abstract notion of death 5.7 million times. It means countless individuals who nevertheless have to be counted, in the middle of life..."
I said I wanted pictures. If you're up for the task, I'll give you some ideas of the images that really stuck with me. ...Feel free to skim this part if you're not interested in creating an image... I realized after writing it just how long it got. This is why editors get paid the big bucks.
Chapter 1: An image of food as a weapon: 3.3 million deaths by starvation and hunger-related disease in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33. These were deaths due to policy - preventable, intentional deaths.
Some images that might help, from page 39: Starving farmers and parents in a field harvesting grain that would be stolen from them while their children were taught by the state to spy on them from watchtowers - making sure they didn't steal anything.
A quote from page 47 what people travelling through the now barren countryside saw... when they eventually found people they found: "...two girls dead in a bed, two legs of a man protruding from a stove, and an old lady raving and running her hand through the dirt."
Page 63: "No matter what Germany or Germans did, it was because they were defending themselves from international Jewry. The Jews were always the aggressor, the Germans always the victim."
I have an image of the Nazi propaganda machine in action. It strains belief to consider how Stalin and Hitler twisted events to make them fit their narrative. (Maybe most stunningly was the kulaks who were starving were actually just dying as an act of rebellion.)
I'm visualizing a picture of an emaciated Holocaust survivor glaring down at Hitler and the entire Nazi army with Hitler uttering the phrase, "You bully." ...Interestingly enough, I see this play out in schools and individual lives quite frequently as well. The oppressor claims to be the victim muddying the waters of truth.
Here's a picture Professor M. McInneshin, Ph.D. sent me, it's propaganda from the time period:
(German Peace Angel/Polish Mobs)
Another image from this quote: "Stalin and Yezhov seemed to reinforce each other's belief in ubiquitous conspiracies..."
I want a picture of all the world leaders at the time, in a big circle - each one looking over their shoulder suspiciously at that person behind them. It'd have to include FDR, Churchill, Hirohito, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and maybe some others like Moscicki, et al...
Another image that I don't know exactly how to portray... the numbers of staggering: Page 83: "A team of just 12 Moscow NKVD men shot 20,761 people at Butovo on the outskirts of Moscow in 1937 and 1938."
From page 92: "Thus Balyskyi, who had summoned up the specter of the "Polish Military Organization" in the first place, became the victim of its own creation."
This happened often throughout the book. Someone is put in charge and has a lot of power, and while they're useful to Stalin - they keep the power. When they're done being useful, they lose everything.
I'm thinking of a picture with a Soviet official and a bigger soviet official behind him with a gun trained on the first, and a bigger one behind HIM with a gun trained on the second... and so on and so on... ...Maybe the soldiers are Russian nesting dolls.
(Those who live by the sword...)
Another image: Chapter 4 was on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Line. A Pole being pulled apart by Russia and Germany with the M-R Line drawn on his chest. Maybe the smoldering city of Warsaw rising from his body as well.
Page 175: Stalin announced in August of 1941 that Soviet POWs would be treated as deserters and their families arrested. When Stalin's son was taken prisoner by the Germans, he had his own daughter arrested.
Page 179: "At Dulag 342 of Molodechno, conditions were so awful that prisoners submitted written petitions asking to be shot." ...I hope you realize how much I am sanitizing this review. ...Just go to the library and read the next two lines.
Page 203: "Only there in the ditch were these people reduced to nothing, or to their number, which was 33,761. Since the bodies were later exhumed and burned on pyres, and the bones that did not burn crushed and mixed to sand, the count is what remains."
*Side note* I now understand why Holocaust denial can exist. The numbers were so astronomically high - how can they be real. How? Yet they were. (And both regimes did a fine job of covering their tracks.)
***** I have pages and pages of notes with images detailing the horrors of the Holocaust, concentration camps, resistance, etc... that have already been well documented. I was going to add them here, but the pictures (should any ever be created) would be too much for this reviewer to stand.
Here are my last two, concerning the quotes I already gave:
From page 407: 14 million people times 1. A picture of a victim or survivor on the top, and people getting smaller and smaller forming a pyramid with the caption, "I have a name" underneath each one.
And the quote about the necessity of associating not with the victim, but the perpetrator. A picture, maybe The Last Jew of Vinnitsa, except that it's recreated and photoshopped where it's all the same person. Everybody in the picture is me. Everybody in the picture is you.
I get it. We have a lot of lessons to learn from The Bloodlands, from the Holocaust, from the ethnic cleansings and the concentration camps and the death camps. We have a lot of lessons to learn, but have we really learned our lesson yet?
*I'm sorry this review was long and rambling. But if you want to try your hand at depicting one of the images I've portrayed, I'd be thrilled. Let me know if I'm allowed to use the image you create.
*During book club, we talked quite a bit about the British Empire, and how it played into Stalin and Hitler's views of the acceptability of colonization. These two pictures were sent to me that shed more light on the issue:
"46 million Britains control over 40 million square kilometers of land — stolen by brute force in every part of the world! That is more than a quarter of all the inhabitable space on earth!
86 million Germans on the other hand must earn their daily bread from 600,000 square kilometers, and should even have to ask the London plutocratic clique for permission to do that!
We, the German “have-nots” fight for our food — and what about the British exploiter caste? — They fight for dividends at the cost of the blood of the peoples — but for the last time !!!"
Many thanks to Professor McInneshin for sharing the majority of the pictures with me/us.
Consider going through and clicking all the images he shared: all the images he shared. After you click on the link, just click the images, and they'll move.
Also, consider going to La Salle.
*EDIT 3.12.14* Someone who read this review pointed out to me that I didn't actually mention what I thought about the book itself. We had a little conversation about it which I found humorous/interesting for a couple reasons:
1: Someone actually read my review? Crazy! 2: We came to the point that the 3 star rating wasn't based on the book, but history itself. I thought: yeah, that's about right. But if I had to judge this particular point in history, I'd be giving it far less than 3 stars. ...Just saying. But overall, yeah... history gets a 3.
As for the book, I liked it. It was pretty straightforward, and didn't pull any punches. It was among the most depressing books I've ever read, but it's hard to fault the author for that. You shape the clay you're given, you know?
But I found it difficult to separate the two, so on that point: sorry Mr. Snyder.
Also, there were several places where he unnecessarily repeated facts he'd given a few pages earlier. Or a few paragraphs earlier. I was depressed by those numbers the first time.
Finally, anytime I'm reading more of an academic book, I'm bound to rate it less than 5 stars, because frankly I don't like work. Or thinking. ...I mean, I do... But you know... it takes... work. (less)
The surrealist under-water seascapes struck me most.
They're like Dali meets H.G. Wells meets C.M. Coolidge meets Spongebob. *See pictures at the botto...moreThe surrealist under-water seascapes struck me most.
They're like Dali meets H.G. Wells meets C.M. Coolidge meets Spongebob. *See pictures at the bottom*
When I was a kid, I went to the beach often. I grew up in Pennsylvania, but my mom is originally from St. Petersburg, Florida. We would visit more frequently then most people I knew, although probably not as much as she would have liked. I loved looking for shells and sharks' teeth, sand dollars and sea-biscuits.
The book is about a kid at the beach who finds a camera washed up on shore. He takes the film and has it developed.
It's a wordless book. And it reminded me so much of Shaun Tan's The Arrival that I put it on my Graphic-Novels shelf as well.
*These are some of the images that this book reminded me of. I put the Dali image under a spoiler because, even though it could hardly be considered offensive, Wiesner's book is aimed at children, and the parents of some may find it so. (view spoiler)[ This is Dali's "The Temptation of St. Anthony:
From Wiesner's book, the starfish standing up and stretching reminded me of H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds.
C.M. Coolidge is famous for his Dogs Playing Poker theme:
And, of course, Spongebob:
If the art in this book reminds you of anybody else, feel free to share in the comments. Maybe link a picture. Here's the html code: img src="http://www.goodreads.com/image..." alt="description"/
(You need to add < before it and > after it, of course.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
SNOW DAY!!! WOO HOO! I woke up and started reading this as I ate my breakfast. I had coffee and coffee cake... again. Then I played with the kids some...moreSNOW DAY!!! WOO HOO! I woke up and started reading this as I ate my breakfast. I had coffee and coffee cake... again. Then I played with the kids some. Then I told them, back off... I was reading. Then we built a snow fort. Then I read. Dinner. Read. Put the kids to bed. Read. My wife said, "Philip... there's no way we're having another snow day tomorrow. You should really turn off the light."
I had 20 pages left. 20 pages... It feels SOOOOooooo good to be so into a book that the only thing you want to do is read. And it's a great feeling to finish a book in a day. But, it's always a better idea to listen to your wife.
So, I went to school on Thursday - without having finished the book. I hyped it up to my kids, and finished it that afternoon when I got home.
Of course, I didn't have to, because today... Friday... is a... SNOW DAY!!! WOO HOO!!!!! 10th one of the year!!! (Nothing like going to school in July. Or driving to the school when you have a delay, only to get there and find out it's cancelled and come home to facebook posts telling you teachers are lazy.*)
*Ahem* Sorry... Back to the book... It's fantastic. Sloan knocked it out of the park.
I put it in the ubiquitous and ambiguous "Young Adult" category, but some may argue it's a little younger than young adult.
But I liked it more than a lot of the YA stuff out there. The books I like most resolve, but necessarily tidily so... And they are definitely not (overly) formulaic.
I was just discussing The Fault in Our Stars with a colleague, who said - that's the point, right? We have this idea of what our destiny should be, but it doesn't ever turn out that way.
Sure, the font size was larger, and my (outstanding) Public Library has it shelved in the Juvenile section... but mark my words: this is as YA as it gets.
I'm not going to blurb about what this books about. You can get that in 5 seconds by scrolling to the top of your screen (assuming you're reading this on goodreads) and looking at the description of the book. ...Also, it's late.
I'm just going to tell you that it's good, and that I'm recommending it to you. And that, if you read it now - in 2014 - you'll be ahead of the game. Because everybody will be talking about this book soon, if they aren't already.
*Ok... this didn't happen to me this year. At least, not the part about going into the school on a delay and having it cancelled. But it has happened to me several times in the past. And it's very frustrating. ...The facebook posts are there. And annoying.(less)
For a man who "couldn't tell a lie," Washington was pretty deceptive.
Also, he didn't tolerate the deception of others very well, as there were a lot o...moreFor a man who "couldn't tell a lie," Washington was pretty deceptive.
Also, he didn't tolerate the deception of others very well, as there were a lot of hangings going on.
The book doesn't deal with Washington as much as it does the spies he handled. (I'm using handled there ambiguously - did you catch that? Handled as in "is in charge of" as well as in "dispatched." Not too shabby...)
The Arnold book and the Washington book were both directed at kids, dealt with spying and treachery, and were non-fiction. All three dealt with the Culper Ring. The Inner Circle is non-fiction and action, aimed at adults.
Last thought: there's been quite the hullabaloo regarding Snowden's releasing secret documents to the press. I found the section on the Hutchinson Papers - which were leaked to the press by Benjamin Franklin - fascinating - especially given our recent history.
I've heard a lot of people say that Snowden should come here to face trial. Maybe. But I wonder if those same people would have argued that Franklin should have gone to England to face trial. ...I know, I know... apples to oranges...(less)
It's the fear that keeps you in place. It's the fear that drives you away.
The land is scarred, the faces are scarred, the lives are scarred by choices both in and out of the control of the characters.
The book was good, maybe really good - but for now, just good.
When you read a Khaled Hosseini book, you know what you're going to get -much like Jodi Picoult or John Grisham. I feel like this leads to a tendency (by some) to write these authors off, and I'm not sure why this is. They're a bit formulaic, but there's no doubt they're gifted story-tellers.
As with the other books, it's also to some degree a story about restitution, restoration, and reconciliation - which appeals to me personally, and I would imagine much of his western audience.
There's a lot of hurt in this book, and so there's a lot of potential for each of those to be born out. I thought he did a fine job of giving his audience exactly what they needed in each story line. Nothing more, nothing less. As always.(less)
Sometimes I'm questioned (maybe not directly) about teaching The Hunger Games in school. Is it appropriate? Is it too violent? Etc... There's a teache...moreSometimes I'm questioned (maybe not directly) about teaching The Hunger Games in school. Is it appropriate? Is it too violent? Etc... There's a teacher in a district next to ours who received permission and started teaching it, only to have it pulled when he was half-way through.
I only mention this because I went to look up the movie trailer and came across THIS. Half the hits are from trailers made for one English class or another. And let me tell you, In Cold Blood is chilling.
I think I found it more chilling than typical books for a number of reasons. First of all, it was non-fiction. This really happened, and you can look stuff up. (Which I didn't, but no doubt will come across. I haven't read my friend Jason's review yet, but I saw the part before the break and he mentioned pictures, etc...)
And most of us have probably dealt with senseless tragedy or senseless murder in one way or another. We all have stories and hear stories.
The fact that it's real makes it all the more harrowing.
Secondly, the murderers are people we can relate to. They're just people. They were people with thoughts and feelings. Highs and lows. Desires and a will.
Now, I'm not saying this can happen to anybody - that should certain instances in our lives have changed we'd all be murders. But humanizing people we view as monsters can be very disarming.
Typically I don't review book-club books until after we meet, that way I can steal what's said there and pawn it off as my own, but I finished early this time - hence the early review. I'm really interested in what the guys have to say about it.
I didn't know anything about the book going into it. In fact, I'd like to commend myself for not reading the introduction this time. That's really ruined several books for me. So, perhaps that's why I'm keeping the details sparse.
The trailer I was looking for was This one. I thought it was a film of In Cold Blood, but it's actually about Truman Capote writing the book. I didn't know... I hadn't seen it. If youtube takes the trailer for Capote down, you can also watch it HERE at IMDb. Philip Seymour Hoffman took Best Actor for his performance, and it was nominated for several other awards. *EDIT*
We had book club last night, and it was fantastic - absolutely fantastic. I'm adding this question in here because I don't want to forget it. If anyone reading this review has any insights, feel free to comment, because I'd really like to know.
Why did Capote call his book "In Cold Blood?" Of course Dick Hancock and Perry Smith were cold blooded murderers. But - and there's a chance I might spoil something here, so if you haven't read the book, please stop - although, this isn't what I'd refer to as a "spoilable" book... But much of our discussion revolved around capital punishment. And it's been documented that Capote became.... close with Perry Smith. Maybe a little too close.
What does "cold blood" mean? It means that these were not crimes of passion. That the killers knew what they were doing, and they took a life anyway. But that's true of the state as well. Could Capote have been speaking as much to the execution as to the murders, especially if he was attached be it romantically, or academically to Perry Smith? *END EDIT 1/20/14*(less)
Whenever I see a book on slavery or The Holocaust, I think to myself: just what the world needs... one more book on this topic. And then...more Sarah Grimké:
Whenever I see a book on slavery or The Holocaust, I think to myself: just what the world needs... one more book on this topic. And then I read the book and end up loving it somewhat nullifying my internal argument.
So, we know this symbolic meaning of the word wings as we escape into the book - a book about slavery... ...Huh...That's kindof weird to think about...escaping into slavery... Well... a book about it at least...
Sue Monk Kidd writes a story of two women, each held captive by a number of forces: their sex, their place (geographic, cultural, and temporal), and of course - in the case of Hetty "Handful" Grimké , her race.
In the authors note, Kidd says she had a notion of writing about two sisters, and the book is about Sarah and Angelina "Nina" Grimké, (here's a picture of Nina, for you):
But the book really focuses on two women, rather than two sisters. In this, Sarah and Handful develop their own sister-like relationship - which makes it seem like Kidd was writing about two sisters after all, even if Handful's existence was highly fictionalized.
The time period is so fascinating - which is why there are so many books and movies on it. There is no escaping the great stain of American Slavery, even 150 years later. As long as we exist as a nation, it will be there reminding us of our past.
In the author's note, Kidd does a nice job of explaining some of the anachronisms, omissions, and additions that appear in her book, but I found one thing noticeably absent which she didn't address: the "n-word." I'm not sure whether I mind this or not. On the one hand, it seems like we're white-washing the past if we take it out. Covering the stain with a nice piece of furniture, pretending it didn't exist. Or perhaps applying our own cultural definitions on words and events of the past (which will no doubt happen anyway.)
But that word wasn't always a "bad" word. It simply meant "black." I have students every year who will not say the names of either Niger or Nigeria for fear they'll get a reprimand.
Of course, the other side of this is that using it as much as would have been used at that time is unpalatable to modern readers. It would be divisive and may get the book banned from certain readers. One might argue that had Kidd used the word, she's accepting of it, or condones its use...
I'm wary of both of these approaches. I didn't use the word in my review, but like the name Voldemort, words are powerful if we allow them to be. Does keeping that word out of the book give it more power or less?
Last, John Greenleaf Whittier makes a couple appearances in this book, which I appreciate. I don't know a lot of his personal history, even if I do know several of his poems. I thought of his Civil War era poem, What the Birds Said several times while reading this book, so I'm glad he showed up.
It's interesting, too... I didn't know about the vow he made not to marry until the abolition of slavery, but his most famous line (probably) is from his poem Maud Mauller: "For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: it could have been." (less)
Dystopian fiction is at once prophecy and indictment. It has to be - these are what allow it to have any of the rest of its definitive characteristics...moreDystopian fiction is at once prophecy and indictment. It has to be - these are what allow it to have any of the rest of its definitive characteristics.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is at once an indictment against and prophecy of a (medicinally) drugging culture.
1984 by George Orwell is at once an indictment against and prophecy of a surveillance state, and the end of privacy.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is at once an indictment against and prophecy of an anti-woman culture.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is at once an indictment against and prophecy of a society that has stopped reading.
Each of these authors (and the many, MANY others) saw something wrong with society, and addressed it by writing about one of the various possible outcomes the path of time and history could wind through.
And aspects of these societies mentioned in some of the books in the dystopian cannon have turned out to be uncannily (and appallingly) prescient. Though, it's safe to say that members of those societies (and indeed our own) weren't aware they were already living in a Dystopian society... C'est la vie, right?
On Such a Full Sea is no exception - there are indictments galour: how we treat the elderly, our health care system, our police force, our educational system, social structure - upper/middle/lower socio-economic status... I hesitate to use the word "class" as the word is rapidly evolving.
The wide-spread use of "hand screens" is an indictment I find especially disturbing. When you have a book, YOU HAVE A BOOK. When your entire library is on one device, and the power fails. You lose your entire library. Does this not trouble anybody else? When Amazon/Google/Tech-'R-Us decides to pull a book from every device out there, they're all gone. This doesn't bother you? I'm glad it bothers Chang-rae Lee. I'm on your side, man. I'm bumping the book up to 4 stars just for that.
Here's another note I wrote down while reading, "The early explanation of this dystopian eugenics method is an indictment on our own societal cycle of poverty. Certain strata are predisposed to higher education, a select few from outside that class allowed in. The rest are left to fend for themselves."
The book is ambitious. It's a futuristic Gospel/Odyssey, with the protagonist Fan as the messianic travel, going from local to local helping people that don't necessarily deserve to be helped, and blinding the cannibalistic Cyclops families when need be.
(If you haven't read the book, skip out on this next part... if you have, I'd love for you to tell me what you think in the comments.)
(view spoiler)[Fan is an unlikely Messiah - much like Christ himself. She's different from the dystopian protagonists who save us all. Like Christ, going from one place to another, performing miracle after miracle saving one after another before making the ultimate sacrifice.
Honestly, I was shocked that she didn't die. SHOCKED. There were several allusions to her death. For instance, the picture on the wall that the girls (1-7) drew. "...so strangely beautiful, that by the end, after the heroine is physically destroyed but rises again, whole in form, but entirely changed..." (pg. 261)
There were several of those. And from the beginning, the narrator kept setting us up for Fan's saving all of them. But how? I never saw it. I'm assuming Chang-rae Lee is planning on writing a sequel, because there's so much that was never wrapped up. For instance, why did she kill her own fish? And how did that help them. Also, who is the narrator talking to? Us in the past? Us in the future? Are we the directorate? Another Charter? ...Can anybody say, "Reg?"
I'm bumping this back down to 3 stars. There were scenes in the book I thoroughly loved - escaping from the dogs, for one... But, there was just too much that was unresolved. I'm sure that the people who don't read the spoiler section are all saying... "wait a second, he forgot to bump the review up to 4 stars..." Huh... serves 'em right. (hide spoiler)]
At any rate, I've been reading a lot of YA dystopian lit lately. You know... The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, Ender's Game... It felt like I was graduating to... you know... Adulthood.
Although, I wonder if this will fall into the trap that Card fell into with Ender's Game. He didn't write that to be a "YA" novel, but because his protagonist (Ender) started out so young, that's what it became.
I think the lexile in this book will be high enough to scare the kiddies away.
Eleanor and Gwennie are both here, but before we begin, I want to tell MY favorite part... and I have to write it quietly because it's not quite appro...moreEleanor and Gwennie are both here, but before we begin, I want to tell MY favorite part... and I have to write it quietly because it's not quite appropriate.
Laura had just started working in town, when she saw these two men get kicked out of a bar. They were sloshed, and singing an old church hymn. They went through the town punching holes in the screens of local businesses, and Laura thought this was funny.
Laura got in trouble when she got home for thinking this was funny, but the last line of the chapter read: "Pa looked at Laura, and his eyes were still twinkling. Laura knew that he didn't blame her for laughing."
Maybe I'll add some more things I thought about as a grownup at the end of the review, but for now, I think the girls are ready to give their input. They're here talking about a baby-doll being allergic to babies. Before I start typing the review, I might just wait to see how this conversation plays out...
Dad: Ok ladies, are you ready to start the review?
... (They continue talking and counting...)
Dad: You ready?
Eleanor: Dad, are you writing equations?
Gwennie: He's writing too much!
D: So lets talk about the book.
E: The first thing I want to talk about was that the men were saying, "I'm Tay Pay Pryor and I'm DRUNK! I'm Tay Pay Pryor and I'M DRUNK!"
D: (not outloud): ...Huh... I guess that part stuck with her too. It's weird that THAT'S the first part she mentioned, even though I don't think she understands what "drunk" is. ...Although, maybe I explained it to her in the reading... (outloud): Hey El, do you know what it means to be drunk?
E: It means... ...I don't remember... I don't remember, Daddy. And DON'T put that in the review, either. What? I don't remember what being drunk means? OOOOOOOOOOOoooooooohhhhhhhh.... If you drink too much wine, or alcohol, it makes you a little goofy - but goofy in a bad way.
D: Huh... you're right. Did I tell you that?
E: I think so, yeah.
D: Did you ask me about it?
E: Yes. When we got to that part in the book.
D: Well, what else did you like?
E: Well, maybe I can whisper in Gwennie's ear, and then she can tell you! That way she can help with the review!!!! *Whispers something to Gwen.*
G: I liked that Laura was able to become a teacher!!!!
D: Do you want to talk about anything else in the book?
E: Laura felt nervous a bunch of times - when she started working in town, when she was going to do mental math in front of the class, when she was going to the Thanksgiving party, when she was going to the birthday party, when she was going to the social, when she did the histories at the school exhibition...
D: That's an interesting observation, Eleanor. Nice job.
D: No, seriously. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I bet it's important. Let me also say, that I liked the race,
E: The 4th of July race?
D: Yeah... and that they got a cat, and I thought it was interesting that Laura got suspended.
E: Why is it interesting? It wasn't good for Laura and Carrie.
D: I know it wasn't good for them.
E: Then why were you saying it was interesting?
D: Maybe because I always hear people talk about how good people were back then, but it seems like even the best people got in trouble sometimes, you know?
E: I thought it was interesting when Pa got a mouse in his hair!
D: What did it do again?
E: It CUT off his hair, and made TOOTH-MARKS in his head!!!
D: HA! That's right! That was crazy!
E: Daddy, why don't we ever have a mouse in our hair?
G: (very scared) Can we not talk about it? I don't want to get scared.
D: Don't worry, it won't happen to us. We've got a cat that likes to catch anything that moves.
G: Do cats eat mouses?
D: It's not "mouses." Do you know how to say it?
E: YEAH! Do you want me to tell Gwennie?
E: It's mice.
E: Can I talk about the Happy Days, quick? Actually, I want to talk about how each walk they took seemed like the last walk they would have together.
E: Mary and Laura.
D: Was that part sad?
D: Because their time together was ending?
D: Well, all good things come to an end. And, maybe that's a good place to end this review too, because I think Gwennie's getting bored. :)(less)
I'll bump this up to 5 stars if it proves to be transformational. (Well, that's in regard to the long-term effects on my life - not the book itself. I...moreI'll bump this up to 5 stars if it proves to be transformational. (Well, that's in regard to the long-term effects on my life - not the book itself. If the book itself starts transforming into something else, I think we're in for it...)
Liz suggested this to me. Maybe I should be worried about reading a Jen Hatmaker book. I mean, next thing you know I'll have a Pinterest account, and be one of the thousands to "like" her facebook post within the first 45 seconds of her posting it. It probably also doesn't help that I have a mimosa in my hand right now. Delicious.
Hatmaker and I share some similarities regarding our upbringing. Most notably, we both went to fairly restrictive Baptist Colleges - which colored the way we view the faith. She does have the additional baggage (baggage?... I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing - sorry to the parents of Jen Hatmaker, I know the word baggage has a lot of negative connotations...) of being a pastor's kid, and married to a pastor. (...Also, apologies to Mr. Brandon Hatmaker...) So, I took much of her book as a reaction against legalism of her upbringing - and I mean that in a good way.
The problems Hatmaker addresses are ones that most all Christians face at one point or another. One can always "do more." The answer to "Do you read your Bible enough?" or "Do you pray enough?" is inevitably going to be no. Especially since "enough" is a jarringly subjective term. But we can read the Bible tons, and pray tons, and still come away from the faith feeling empty if we are not serving those around us. Of course, then too - how much is enough? I mean, if I wanted to be perfect, I'd sell all I had and then give all the money to the poor. But I'm not perfect - and I won't make that a goal, because MY belief is goals should be attainable. So... yeah... ...Is this me justifying disobedience? Not inheriting the kingdom?
And is perfect the requirement? I'd argue that Christ cleared that mess up.
Which still leaves us working hard and feeling under-fed.
Hatmaker's book (and church) is a call to service, but not a legalistic service earning a salvation. It rails against legalism, and instead preaches love through action.
P.S. Hatmaker(s) if you're reading this - I'm glad you're not too hard on the legalists. It's so easy to fall into the trap of judging the judgey. Well done avoiding that (for the most part.) I raise my mimosa to you. (less)
I'd never read it before. I hadn't see the play, or watched it. I had heard about it - a lot. I could tell you the st...moreWhat a fantastic, fantastic book.
I'd never read it before. I hadn't see the play, or watched it. I had heard about it - a lot. I could tell you the story line.
I remember hearing about this book when I was in 4th grade. Mrs. Blyler's class. She was having a conversation with other students about how good it was. They were shocked that I hadn't read it. That'd have been what,? 199...1? Yeah. 1991.
Barbara Robinson really captured something about humanity, and love, and compassion in this book. -The essence of what Christmas - and Christianity are supposed to be.
I imagine that's why this book resonated with so many - because the universal ideals of Christianity and the story of Christmas provide the perfect vehicle for the telling. (It's actually the first of 3 books - but this one currently has 17,083 *now 17,084* reviews, and 40 editions whereas the second book has 1,071 and 20, and the third book has 536 and 15. I'm not sure what goes into determining what makes a book a "classic" but I'm taking that into consideration when I put this one on my "classics" shelf and leave the others off - if I ever get around to reading them at all.)
So, last night my wife talked me into starting it. We were going to read it out loud this holiday season. So I poured us each a glass of Moscato and got started. Only to finish reading the entire thing an hour and a half later.
The book is hilarious. Laugh out loud funny. And I could relate to all of the characters - good and bad, young and old. "...I was always in the same grade as Imogene Herdman, and what I did was stay out of her way. It wasn't easy to stay out of her way. You couldn't do it if you were very pretty or very ugly, very smart or very dumb, or had anything unusual about you like red hair or double-jointed thumbs."
"But if you were sort of a medium kid like me, and kept your mouth shut when the teacher said, 'Who can name all fifty states?' you had a pretty good chance to stay clear of Imogene."
This passage says a lot: it speaks to the down-and-out. I remember having a student who failed a test. Bombed it. He got like... a 37%. The second lowest score in the class - maybe even the entire grade. But pity the kid in his class who got the 34. That kid had nothing going for him either. Bad home life, not so strong in the athletic department, the 37% was standard, so the bad attitude was understandable - although it didn't win him many friends... much like the Herdmans.
It speaks to the bullied - being afraid to raise your hand because you don't want to be picked on. How many adults can remember words spoken decades ago which made them self-conscious about their freckles/nose/double-jointed thumbs... I've got plenty of students who don't want to stand out. ...I wonder if there's a bully in my class, because when I ask students to recite the 50 states... eh... nevermind...
Maybe even more than speaking to the bullied, it speaks to those who witness bullying - maybe that's what that last paragraph is about. Blending in. Because as much as we don't like bullies - there's often a part of us saying *whew* glad I'm not THAT guy... What's that called? Diffusion of responsibility?
I'd like to say it was the Moscato that got to me - or the fact that it was REALLY late... that's why I was tearing up a little at the end. ...Actually, that's what I will say. ...Moving on.(less)
I haven't read this book since 8th grade - Mr. Marshall's reading class. I loved it. Oftentimes, when I reread books, they don't live up to the memory...moreI haven't read this book since 8th grade - Mr. Marshall's reading class. I loved it. Oftentimes, when I reread books, they don't live up to the memory I've created. For instance, The Door in the Dragon's Throat. But this one did.
I know several of my goodreads friends out there rated it low - 1 or 2 stars. (I don't count a 3 star rating - "liked it" - as low, so you guys are off the hook.) But this is one we'll have to disagree on.
Most importantly, I enjoyed the book.
But secondly, I remembered the book - in a positive way. Seriously, I read this in 8th grade and I could remember every part long before it happened. The plane crash, the pilot, the choke cherries, the moose, the berries and the fool birds. In fact, every time I read The Hunger Games I think about Katniss shooting the fish. ...She does know that the water is refracting the light, doesn't she? She'd better aim a bit lower...
I love it when a book, or piece of art, or song makes that type of long-lasting impression. When you hear or see something a connection is made and you're drawn back to the piece or the reading.
*Why did I put this on my "Classics" shelf? Good question, but you didn't ask it...*(less)
I imagine it is difficult to transition from writing a memoir to writing a novel. And no doubt his experiences are in this book. I also imagine it must have been quite a release/ quite freeing to write a story other than his life's story.
For a story about reconciliation, and picking up the pieces of a post-war country, my favorite parts were those of vigilantism revenge - usually taken out on the the corrupt members of West.
There are times Beah mentions the faults Africans as well as the Westerners. And there are only two types of Westerners in this book: those who have come to rape (both the land, and its people), and those whose misguided intentions to help only cause more suffering.
But the Africans Beah has a problem with are only the ones who have absorbed the mentality of The West. They're still not the ones to be blamed.
It's a point that's been made time and time again: we're fat and happy, and we don't know it. We have everything and we don't know it.
(Is it ironic or depressing that both of these images get printed on t-shirts?)
Maybe it's a point that cannot be made too often. I understand that this is The Hunger Games, and I'm living in The Capitol.
But I think there's also something to be said for romanticizing the past, native-culture, the simple-life, etc... and although it seemed like Beah made attempts to avoid this, he couldn't escape the temptation.
The West deserves blame, but its easy to cast all the blame on them.
(Now I'm being redundant as well...)
*Part of the book that really resonated with me was the perception of the Westerners who were there to help. I believe that sometimes cultural barriers are impenetrable. I've been in cars carrying 3 people flying past the slow Tap Taps with people hanging off the sides.
I refused to give a Haitian kid water one time because it was from the tap. He thought I was being a greedy jerk, and I thought it'd make him sick. (I'd gotten sick numerous times including Hep A at age 6 from eating a snow-cone off the street. ...Definitely worth it though: lime.)
I don't know of anyone who ever hit anyone while driving, but I remember hearing that if you "hit" someone to keep going. That people will sometimes come up to your car and hit it with their hand, and pretend to be injured.
Sometimes the problem is that people are evil. Sometimes the problem is that people don't understand one another.
I liked the book, and I liked the story of rebuilding and reconciliation, especially Sila and Sergeant Cutlass/Ernest, but I couldn't help but think the narrative was culturally one-sided.
Either way, I'm already looking forward to reading Beah's next book.(less)
Gwen: I WANT FIVE STARS! One, two, three, four, five. One two three four five six seven eight nine ten... One two three... continu...moreDad: How many stars?
Gwen: I WANT FIVE STARS! One, two, three, four, five. One two three four five six seven eight nine ten... One two three... continues counting to ten several times... occasionally going up to thirteen.
Dad: Have you stopped thinking about the review and just started counting? Why do you want to give it five stars?
Gwen: Because I'm FIVE!
D: You just turned five?
G: Yes! I just turned five.
D: What was the book about?
G: It was aboooouuut... A girl... let me read it... It was about a girl who got some really yummy bananas and something took them from her. And then she got something else and something else and something else...
D: Who took the bananas?
G: I don't remember. Let me see. (Starts singing: Let me see who took the baNAAAAnas. Let me see who took the baNAAAnas...) The wind. The wind took the bananas. Because it was strong and it blowed the bananas away. So the bananas blowed into the lake.
D: Are you sure? Give me that book. (Looks at book.) No! It wasn't the wind, it was a giraffe. It was the giraffe's tale.
G: Oh. (smiles)
(In Gwen's defense, we read this only once, well before dinner, and it's now well after dinner...)
D: What was your favorite part?
G: My favorite part was when she got more bananas by the elephant. I mean, when she got more bananas from an elephant.
D: You want to be done with the review?
D: Thanks for writing it with me. Do you want to read it?
If you're not familiar with The Best Political Cartoons series, it wouldn't be a bad idea to familiarize...more
by Gary Varvel; Indianapolis Star.
If you're not familiar with The Best Political Cartoons series, it wouldn't be a bad idea to familiarize yourself with these books. They're great primary source reading that gives an outstanding overview of the political discourse and climate of the United States during the previous year.
So, since this is the 2013 edition, it deals with the 2012 election, Syria, the economy, Iran, Obamacare, Islamic Extremism, ect... Social issues include marriage equity, surveillance, guns... There's a lot. 2012 was a big year. They all are, right?
The books do a great job of presenting all sides. They have cartoons that are obviously left, obviously right, obviously centrist, and cartoons that are simply pointing out the facts - like this one by Bob Gorrell:
I don't see this as a dig against Republicans or Democrats as much as pointing out the common perception that the Republican base was having a hard time rallying around their candidate.
And a lot of the cartoons (like the one that introduces this review) dealt with issues that we all agree on - what's happened (and is happening??? Where's the coverage gone???) in Syria is abhorrent. As was the Aurora shooting, or the Penn State scandal. ...It's not to say that the book didn't include cartoons that dealt with those issues once they became politicized - it did. But it included them all.
Each image gives plenty to think about, and its an added value that we can compare them as well. Or take them as a whole. For instance, as abhorrent as the Penn State scandal was, to me, most of the cartoons point that there was a rush to judgement before all the evidence was in. Maybe I'm biased, but I have read the Clemente Report - which was done by James Clemente - a (maybe the) FBI agent in the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit - and specialized in child sexual victimization. And I've also read The Berlin Report - done by Frederick Berlin, an expert in child pedophilia. I mean, when I say expert... he's an associate prof at Johns Hopkins, he's got a Ph.D. in the field, and an M.D. to boot. Both of these reports came out after all of the cartoons (and the media hoop-la) on Penn State.
Maybe there wasn't a rush to judgement, but when I can read an entire section of cartoons which were drawn before all the information was in, and which cost a lot of people - not the least of whom were the victims who may end up seeing the wrong people punished for the crimes perpetrated against them - it gives me pause. What can I say? Do I blame the cartoonists? No. Emotions were high.
I'm not sure how this got off on a Penn State tangent - especially when there are much bigger topics to tackle: Syria, Iranian Nuclear Physicists being assassinated... I guess I just let my emotions get the better of me. But with these cartoons we can look at any of those topics as a whole, as individual cartoons, look at a couple and compare them...
The book is worth buying - especially if you're a teacher.
*I'm allowed to use these images for a number of reasons: They're in the context of a review. They're already freely available online. They're adding value for the original artist. It's non-commercial. If you're the artist, and would like to give me permission to use your work, I'd love to put "used with permission" underneath.(less)
I might be a little bit biased on this book, as Robert Galbraith and my father worked together on a few occasions - most notably in Tbilisi in 1987. D...moreI might be a little bit biased on this book, as Robert Galbraith and my father worked together on a few occasions - most notably in Tbilisi in 1987. Dad was working with MI6 at a time when the USSR was notably weakening. I'm not sure what he did while he was there, but he (along with Galbraith and members of MI6) was there in early February, and Thatcher visited that April. I'm not actually sure that there's any correlation, but 1989 wasn't rolling along too long after that, if you know what I mean...
It's interesting, the back flap only mentions Galbraith's years in the RMP. I don't know if that means he wasn't part of MI6, or because of the nature of the... visit... various agencies were working together. I know that MI5, MI6, and the RMP often share information and work together. And since my dad was involved (as a U.S. operative) I'm guessing several parties were involved. Of course, it is just guessing, since my dad never talks about it much. He mentions the food and Gorbachev more than what he was doing there. But as a kid, he only told us he saw Gorbachev from a distance. ...Of course, he said the same thing about Brezhnev... And I think that was in Tbilisi too. And there was a parade of Russian soldiers, with spiked boots. And they marched with high steps, so when their boots hit the road, sparks shot out in the cadence of their march. ...Those are the stories he told us.
At any rate, he's kept in loose contact with Galbraith, or at least that's what he says. He did tell me several years ago that "Bob's still working on his book." (My dad also has a habit of saying someone's name without letting me know who he's talking about. Seriously. Bob who?) I didn't even remember who Galbraith was - even after my dad reminded me - until the book actually came out.
I realize this review is (once again) becoming less and less of a review. Apologies to goodreads and goodreaders.
Galbraith is talented as an author. You can tell this is his first book, though - some of his plot devices seem contrived. And the denouement gets a little sketchy and tough to follow. His characters are not flat or one dimensional - even if their names are a little outlandish. But he uses his experience in the RMP to his advantage, and it comes across in his writing. It is evident he knows what he's talking about.
I'll be reading the next one - should he choose to write it. I don't usually go for mysteries - unless it's Agatha Christie - she's still the best. Of course, one just doesn't come across good British female mystery authors these days. (less)
"First I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then, about the murders, which happened later."
Ever look at people, or objects, or ideas...more"First I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then, about the murders, which happened later."
Ever look at people, or objects, or ideas and think: these things are exactly the same? The fans at a football game? The different teams? Contestants on The Bachelor, or contestants on The Bachelorette? The shows themselves? Seriously.
And then you take another look and think: wait, what? They are COMPLETELY different. Maybe even opposites. I mean, what's the opposite of male? Female, right?
That's how I felt the whole way through this book. There were times I thought the characters were all identical. Their histories repeating. Their choices overlapping and coming around to inevitability. Always inevitability.
And there were times the characters were opposites. Making choices their counter-parts would never make. Having thoughts they'd never have.
There were times (you may not believe this, but it's true) where I felt both outlooks simultaneously. These characters are identical and opposite. Chalk it up to cognitive dissonance or something. Or good writing.
The characters did seem to have opposite and equal counterparts as well. The protagonist, Dell had a female twin sister. His mom and dad were the same. Two completely different people, who met completely different outcomes - that were essentially the same.
Ok. I'll explain out what I mean. I didn't want to use spoiler tags, but I will... because even though it seems like this is an older piece of literature, it only came out last year. I don't mean older in a negative sense either, I mean like Steinbeck, or Hemingway.
(view spoiler)[Dells parents: the mom is educated, thoughtful, and purposeful. The father is kind, good-natured, erratic, spontaneous. They come across as very different in the book. But they both rob the bank. They both end up in jail. And in all the planning and carrying-out of those plans, they make choices that look very similar. They act in a very similar fashion.
Maybe Bev (the father) could live in prison because of the structure the military gave him. Maybe the mother couldn't hack it. And so, the prison sentence was vastly different for both of them - but ultimately the same as well.
And Berner (the twin sister) and Dell (our protagonist) led very different lives. Berner decided to live life on her own terms and left. She refused to live by the dictates she was given. Dell, on the hand, let fate drag him around. They were completely opposite choices. But in living life as given to him by fate, Dell was forced to live it on his own. Making choices on his own, and having a pretty shitty existence.
And Berner - who tried to control her fate - ended up its captive as instead. For real:(view spoiler)[We see her at the end, dying of cancer. (hide spoiler)] And it doesn't seem like her existence turned out that much better than Dells - especially for the duration of his life which he cared to share with us.
This idea - that we are simultaneously different and similar and we have to accept our lot comes out a number of times. One instance that struck me was at the end with Remlinger. Florence was going to go in his place, and Dell says, "I thought how happy I'd be if Florence was here. She would have something to say to keep me in the car with her. But I was by myself, and that was how it would be." Florence had taken on the role of Dell's mother. Dell's mother - who had gone in his stead to rob a bank. It's the same story played out again. Only completely different... with an ending that is both identical and opposite. (hide spoiler)]
Maybe the overarching theme of the book is acceptance. "Accept" or "accepted" shows up in the book 37 times. I think that's something to keep in mind, should you choose to read it. Maybe that's the theme. But maybe it's that our decisions affect those around us. Even the small ones. ...But especially the big ones.
Two roads diverged, right? Only this is 4 roads. And yes, it made all the difference, and no difference at all.
*Edit* In case you missed it: Definitely worth the read, and my thanks to the Jordabecker book club.
I get a lot of messages from authors asking if I'll review their books. ...I don't think it's because I'm a great reviewer, I think it has more to do...moreI get a lot of messages from authors asking if I'll review their books. ...I don't think it's because I'm a great reviewer, I think it has more to do with the fact that I'm on goodreads all the time and since I've been here for a while, you're bound to come across a review of mine every now and again.
So, Mr. James sent me a message asking if I'd review his book - you know, give it an honest review. Generally, I turn these things down because my to-read shelf has nearly 600 books on it. Also, I'm usually promised an e-book, which I'd have to read from my computer. ...Not going to happen.
And I have to say, it's a gutsy move to ask someone who has written a review like this to review their book.
So, I've clicked back and forth between the 3 stars and 4 stars while I've been reviewing this. I'm not sure what I'll end up settling on. I think 3 for the book, then a plus one for marketing strategy. Seeley, you're a real go-getter. Keep it up.
As for The Geneva Decision, most of it moved - which I like. But a lot of it really strained my willing suspension of disbelief. For example (view spoiler)[Darts. Darts? You've got trained assassins coming at you with body armor and you insist on darts, Pia? I felt like Mr. James was trying to keep Pia's innocence by having her use the darts (or give the soccer gear to the poor kids, etc...) But she chose the job. She's trying to have her cake and eat it too. ...Ok, I hear some of you telling me that she didn't choose her job, she was forced out of women's soccer and had to take the job... Well then take the desk job. And yes, I got the last line of the book. If she continues to use darts, she's going to get killed. Or get her people killed.
I also wasn't sure of her spidey sense. Do spies really notice the static of others as often as she did? ...This would be a good time to have an e-book, so I could go in and see how often this happened. Alas, ludites... (hide spoiler)]
Mr. James had a lot going on in this book plot-wise, so props to him for keeping it all together.
So, a friend of mine goes fishing a lot during the summer, and invited me along. ...Okay... I invited myself along... And I had to disguise his identi...more
So, a friend of mine goes fishing a lot during the summer, and invited me along. ...Okay... I invited myself along... And I had to disguise his identity, because I didn't get his permission to use his image in this review.
And I CAUGHT A FISH!!!! (I have the Detroit hat on. He has the killer stache. ...Also, I'm being a Mako from the book.)
He said he doesn't read too much, but reads The Old Man and the Sea quite often. And he recommended it to me.
If there was a Pedro the Lion graphic novel, I imagine it would look like this.
Like Pedro, I read this not so much because I was planning to agree wit...moreIf there was a Pedro the Lion graphic novel, I imagine it would look like this.
Like Pedro, I read this not so much because I was planning to agree with everything it was going to say, but because it's beautiful.
So, it turns out that Goliath was actually The BFG. But even in this narrative, I found it hard to disparage David. Goliath had been taunting them for weeks, even if he didn't want to. And he was terrorizing a nation.
If there was ever a time to disobey orders, right? (less)
(Yes, those are my daughters with their fantastic aunt and an autographed copy of the book.)
My sister went to the ALA Convention in Chicago this year. The author of this book, Green was there, and was willing to autograph (and personalize) a copy.
So, this review is in part me saying: Hey Sis, I don't think I'll ever say to you "don't forget to be awesome" because you never forget. (And yes, that was a subtle tribute to another Green booky thingy... Get it, Green?) And part me saying: This book is really stinking cool.
I'm willing to wager Laura Vaccaro Seeger is more artist than author. The book is not plot-heavy. And I can't really say it's character-driven. And I don't normally review children's books without the help of Eleanor, so I may be lacking a child's critical (ok, uncritical) honesty and lack of direction - but because I don't have her here to guide me with her rabbit trails, I'm left to review a children's book on my own. (For the record, she was up for reviewing it, but as I mentioned earlier I wanted to pay homage to my sister, and Eleanor also gets off topic sometimes.)
I'm too tired to adequately describe the book. I'm sorry. Also, I'm not getting paid for these reviews...
There are holes and designs cut out from each page that help make up the pictures on the preceding and succeeding pages. They are masterfully done.
For instance, Gwennie, while reading the book with us cried out, "IT'S LIKE MAGIC!!!"
It is well done.
So, thanks, Dana. And thanks, Ms. Seeger for taking the time to sign it.(less)
Yes, in some ways I think we're all always bored and searching for something else - but geez, must you constantly whine about it?
Also, I couldn't figu...moreYes, in some ways I think we're all always bored and searching for something else - but geez, must you constantly whine about it?
Also, I couldn't figure out if this was an anti-war book, or one that glorifies it...
And what's with McGraw-Hill? And DTI? It seems like they're happy to keep the military-industrial complex ball rolling.
Also, Axe snaps at a man for calling him a "war correspondent" on page 52, yet this is how he refers to himself on page 67?
Pg. 89 upset me the most and I think best outlined the thesis and dichotomy of the book: Axe is upset and angry at Americans for being ignorant of the tragedies and horrors that surround them. Maybe he's not angry and upset, maybe he's just "jealous" because he can never go back to thinking like that.
Maybe it's up to all of us to do what we can where we are to make the world a better place.(less)
For some reason, my father-in-law is not a big Bill Cosby fan. We've never really talked about why this is, but it's common knowledge around here and...moreFor some reason, my father-in-law is not a big Bill Cosby fan. We've never really talked about why this is, but it's common knowledge around here and it gets brought up from time to time.
My mother-in-law saw this at a used book sale and gave it to me as a gift from him, telling me how much he loves Cosby, knowing the whole time that we both knew he didn't. It was pretty funny. The only thing funnier would have been if she mimicked his handwriting and left me a note extolling his virtues on the inside cover and signed his name at the bottom.
I don't think she expected me to read the book, being that it was a joke gift and all - but here I am.
And I kindof liked it. There were several parts I could really relate to. For instance, he says: "Parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet." (pg.54) That about sums up my parenting style right there. One daughter's crying because another daughter took something. But the first daughter's turn was up. No it wasn't. It's my turn. The only reason she wanted the baby doll in the first place was because she couldn't have it.
Sure, I try to be just. I try to get to the bottom of things. I try to appease everybody and teach sharing, caring, but really you're just wearing me out. I want justice, but often I want quiet far more.
Cosby takes the reader through the various stages of raising kids - infant through college. He regales us with tales and advice along the way; good stuff that most families can relate to.
And he keeps his sense of humor an irony. He seems to realize that his nostalgia for the past if false, and that when his children yearn for the days of their youth, their memories will have been tainted as well. (Which is refreshing, because I can't stand the "the world is going downhill fast" speeches that seem to be everywhere. We never used to have those when I was a kid...(less)
My biggest question, after reading this book, is what did Galileo believe?
Science has canonized him as one of their patron saints - and rightfully so. The man was a genius. But he was also a good Catholic - or at least he appeared to be. When the church told him to do something, he did it.
Yes, the church treated him completely unfairly. And when one is arguing against those speaking with the authority of God, it's difficult to complain about ignorant laws or the injustice of being charged ex post facto.
But throughout it all, he apparently maintained some sort of cognitive dissonance. Perhaps he didn't buy everything the church was selling, but he certainly didn't cast it all off either.
I was surprised to see how many of these men were devoted followers of God. Not just Galileo, but Copernicus, et al... Because it seems to me Scientists today make Galileo out to be the enemy of the church, and I don't believe he was.
Don't take this the wrong way - I'm no enemy of Science. I'm all for Science. But I don't think it's fair to the memory of Galileo to set him up as a propaganda piece. Scientists, especially, should know that the world is much more complicated than that.
And, while we're talking about Science, it was brought up that Galileo's most enduring discovery wasn't his star-gazing. It was his use of experimentation. Testing, and testing, and retesting. Taking on the word of Aristotle by proving something. Sure, his discoveries are important - but he changed the way we approach problems - and that impacts all branches of Science - whereas discovering some moons mostly effects astronomy.
As for Religion, I found it odd that Sobel didn't talk about Luther more. He gets mentioned a couple times, whereas The Thirty Years War gets brought up often. Part of the reason the church (and when I say the church, I'm talking about the Catholic church here, not the Protestants... they had their own problems at the moment...) was so hard on Galileo was because its authority had been challenged in The Thirty Years War. And yes, that's more in the time-frame, but certainly they hadn't forgotten about The 95 Theses. That was the catalyst.
Either way, the church was fighting an uphill battle with Galileo. I imagine one could argue that God was on his side. Science at least was.
This brings up one of Galileo's main points. Nature cannot contradict the Bible. If we see something in nature that contradicts scripture, either we aren't looking at it correctly, or our interpretation of scripture is incorrect. He says, "Holy Scripture cannot err and the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and and inviolable. I should only have added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters are liable to err in many ways..." This is THE paradox of a faith that teaches the infallibility of Scripture.
At the time, these claims were edgy, no doubt. But even so, I'd contend Galileo was still a good decent Catholic. When the church told him to censor his book, he did. He blacked out "the offending passages." Although, Sobel adds that he did so, "with very light strokes."
This brings me to some last thoughts dealing with censorship.
I heard that Stalin censored the same way. He'd outright ban books, or he'd have everyone black out offending passages.
And, I know I'm going out on a limb here... I know I'm getting away from Galileo... but this is what really, REALLY worries me about Kindles and e-Books, and i-Pads, etc... That if someone comes along and wants to censor something, with books they have to go one at a time. With e-books, a person can just click - - - - - - - and it's gone. (less)
Eleanor and I just finished this up last night. A couple thoughts before she starts her review:
I saw a facebook post not too long ago in which the per...moreEleanor and I just finished this up last night. A couple thoughts before she starts her review:
I saw a facebook post not too long ago in which the person was opining that they didn't live in the "Little House days." This was in regard to Christmas. They mentioned how Laura and Mary et al received only one or two presents and were thrilled and grateful to receive them. You know, that was a "simpler time."
Several days later, I saw that they were taking a trip to Disney for Christmas. And there were no shortage of packages under their tree.
Not that I begrudge them going to Disney. I love that place. (Although, not as much as my sister... She takes it to a whole new level.)
The Long Winter, though, makes it pretty clear that we're romanticizing those times. The times were simpler - if you equate simple with hunger, boredom, and intense manual labor.
Not only that, but in certain circles, the Wilders are elevated to a Protestant sainthood. (Ok... most Protestant denominations already believe in the "sainthood of the believer," but lets set that aside for a moment.) The Wilder's are often put on a pedestal. That every decision they made was a right and moral one. (As they were living in right and moral times - as oppose to today's immoral, consumer-driven, drugged-out, gunned-out, society.)
But throughout the book, I saw them as people - people who made mistakes in very, very difficult times. There was a mob-mentality at the store when they forced Loftus to "see reason" and sell the goods at a reasonable price. True, Loftus agreed - and he shouldn't have jacked the price up in the first place - but I'm not sure that justifies what the town was doing. Or stealing from the emigrant train car. "'I'm past caring what he ought to do!' Pa said savagely. 'Let the railroad stand some damages! This isn't the only family in town that's got nothing to eat. We told Woodworth to open up that car or we'd do it. He tried to argue that there'll be another train tomorrow, but we didn't feel like waiting...'"
As a society, we can understand some forms of stealing - but that doesn't absolve the thief from the law.
Consider too, that this is what Laura wrote. (She wouldn't have been writing all the faults of her father in a children's book.) No doubt, the Ingalls were great people - but they were people. They were struggling to survive. They did what they could with little complaining - and that is admirable. But they were people living in a difficult time, with their share of mistakes and sins. In that way, they are very similar to all of us.
I have to look into getting Eleanor a goodreads account of her own. She's been sitting here patiently waiting for me to type up my part before she gets her say. She's got the patience of an Ingalls.
Eleanor: I've been thinking about my favorite part.
Dad: And did you come up with one?
D: What is it?
E: My favorite part was when they made hay while the sun shines.
D: Why was that your favorite part?
E: Because it was before the winter, and it was so nice and warm outside the claim shanty, and they didn't move into the town yet, and it was just so warm in their house.
D: So you didn't like the winter then?
E: No. It was too cold. Heh. WAAAAAAAAYYYYYY to cold. Way way way way way way way too cold.
D: So you didn't like most of the book then.
E: Well, I like the book. I just didn't like that it was so cold for so long for them. Because we usually have winters from December to February.
D: That's a good point.
E: Can you put a smiley face at the end?
E: At the end of the sentence. BECAUSE I'M SMILING!!! :)
D: Ok. I'll put it at the end of the sentence you just said. Tell me more about The Long Winter. What you'd think about it?
E: Pretty good. They were shivering, and they couldn't feel their feet. And they were selling wheat.
D: What was the book about?
E: KITTY! It wasn't about the kitty. I just saw the kitty and it distracted me. It was about when they settled in town for the hard winter. They were cold. And every day they shivered. And they only had brown bread and potatoes. Sometimes they had cod-fish gravy. Laura and Pa were always twisting hay into sticks for the fire.
D: Do you think it would be fun to live back then, or are you happy to live now?
E: Ummmmm... Either way is ok.
D: Why's that?
E: Back then they didn't have electricity. But I wonder how that brown bread tastes, and I didn't have cod-fish gravy.
D: You've had brown bread before.
D: I think we have some downstairs right now. Although, I think it's softer than the bread Mary and Laura ate.
D: Because of the way it's made. ...So, if you had to choose - when would you live?
D: Me too. But, really, I think either would be ok.
E: Me too.
D: Should I put anything else in here?
E: YEAH! THEN IT WAS SPRING AND THE CHINOOK WAS BLOWING!!!!
D: I think that's the moral of the story.
E: What's "moral" mean? The "end" of the story?
D: No, it means the message, or the point of the story. It means, that sometimes times are tough. But spring, and the good times have to come eventually - if you can outlast the bad.(less)