Sunday, April 23, 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautifully written and beautifully illustrated picture book with words by Matthew Paul Turner and images by David Catrow. The star of the book is an unnamed little girl who appears to be about four years old. She's a girl of African descent with an adorable little face and beautiful natural hair in braids.
I knew I was going to love the illustrations when I opened the cover and saw the abstract, rainbow-hued "squiggle" artwork on the inside. On the first story page, a cat of perhaps Siamese persuasion is making a very cat-like face on one side of our heroine, and a fluffy little dog is looking very curiously at her story book on her other side. Her baby sister plays contentedly on the floor. It's a charming illustration in watercolors and a few lines of black ink.
The story introduces children to the concept of being created as a unique creation in God's image. It would be a nice lesson for a young children's Sunday school class, for a religious or home-school kindergarten or preschool class, or for a bedtime story. The illustrations get increasingly whimsical.
Overall, this book is an absolute joy.
I received a copy of this book from BloggingForBooks.com in exchange for writing this review. I was not otherwise compensated.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
4. Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
Colin Dickey’s haunted travelogue Ghostland roams New York, New England, the Midwest, the South, the Southeast, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Coast in search for ghost-ridden homes, businesses, cemeteries, asylums, and prisons. Whether or not you believe in life after death, Dickey explains, the folklore connected to certain geographical locations often tells us more about the anxieties of the living than it does about the concerns of the dead. I'm fascinated by Dickey’s analysis and by his conclusion that the public’s interest in ghost stories is keeping alive the important work of historical preservation.
3. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton
Starting with the premise that with identical chains of store franchises in every village and hamlet across the land, America is no longer a place that holds any mystery, the authors of Atlas Obscura began by wondering what they could do to reclaim some of the world’s lost wonder, starting in their Manhattan backyards. They were amazed to find more weird, obscure, bizarre and - well, amazing places had been right under their noses. Around the world, the authors found wherever you go, something weird is going on just out of the public eye.
2. Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin
Virginia Woolf called it “Street Haunting,” and the French poet Charles Baudelaire termed it flânerie: the art of inhabiting the crowd of a city street. In Flâneuse, Lauren Elkin writes specifically of what it means to inhabit the street crowd, a traditionally male-dominated public space, while inhabiting a female body. With keen and often cutting powers of observation that would have made Woolf proud, Elkin shares with us the kind of woman-on-the-street experiences men might miss.
1. The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them by Thomas Swick
Thomas Swick is a seasoned travel writer who’s seen more than 60 countries, and in The Joys of Travels he names the seven joys of travel by name. Like a modern-day Canterbury Tales, each joy has a corresponding tale full of humor and insight.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Monday, March 13, 2017
“That's the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and WORTH the doing.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
“No”, he said quickly. “Never. Stay friends? Try to grow a small rose garden on the ashes of broken feelings? No, this will never work for you and me. It happens only after small affairs and it looks fake. Love should not be spoiled by friendship. The end is the end.”
― Erich Maria Remarque, Arch of Triumph
“I don`t care what you think about me. I don`t think about you at all.”
― Henri Gidel, Coco Chanel
“I suppose it comes from the fact that none of us can stand other people having the same faults as ourselves...”
― Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Grey
“I won`t think of it now. I will think of it tomorrow.”
― Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
“I don`t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender In The Night
“That is the most difficult thing of all. It is far more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself correctly, then you are truly a man of wisdom.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
About the Author: Melisa Marzett is a young lady who nevertheless has gone through many books, met lots of people, and can come up with an opinion on anything, really. Working for bigpaperwriter.com at this time, she is eager to write more and more. She has passion for writing and it would be delightful to her to get to know more. She is never tired of what she does and will gladly accept a challenge to write a guest post whatever the topic would be.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
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Sunday, March 5, 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoy good writing about science topics, and I'm especially interested in books that explore the scientific and social history of medical conditions. This book hit all the right notes with me. It explored the topic of autism from the first modern diagnosis onward, then went back and looked at what could be historical examples of individuals with undiagnosed autism.
Lest you think this book is nothing but dry scientific facts, however, please note that the authors have done an excellent job of humanizing the condition of autism. In the final analysis, this is the story of people, from young Donald Triplett (actually he's going to turn 84 this year, but when we meet him in the book, his mother is pregnant with him) to the famous Temple Grandin.
We meet parents of children with autism, the good, the bad, and the ugly. (And I do mean ugly - there's a case of a parent who murdered his autistic child in a misguided act of "mercy killing.")
This is a fascinating read, and more importantly, it's a reminder that autistic and "neurotypical" people alike can work together to improve education and quality of life for children and adults with autism.
View all my reviews on Goodreads
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
There Are No Overachievers: Seizing Your Windows of Opportunity to Do More Than You Thought Possible by Brian D Biro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Brian D. Biro must be fascinating to listen to as a public speaker, because even in writing he held my rapt attention. I read the first 112 pages of this book straight through while I waited for my car to be serviced.
I was inspired by the way Biro was constantly on the lookout for "Windows of Opportunity" (WOOs). These are opportunities to help others live up to their full potential, to be present in the moment, to be more loving, to make the most out of life with our friends and families. I loved the positive outlook of this short but sweet book and the way success was defined, not by money and fame, but by sharing in moments of transcendence with others.
One of the lessons I learned from this book was to have an attitude to "Maybe I can..." instead of assuming that something was impossible. I plan to re-read this book every year, if not every 6 months, for a fresh burst of inspiration.
I received this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest review. I was not otherwise compensated.
View all my reviews on Goodreads
Saturday, February 4, 2017
"...God and the Devil were married." Athena spins her wildly unorthodox theology to the Pastor as he prepares for the next Sunday's sermon. But something is terribly wrong with Barbara Jean. Then, Travis and Monica struggle in the aftermath of their tragedy.
Friday, February 3, 2017
As Chapter 20 ends, Diana has to have a serious talk with Brigid. Chapter 21 brings us up to Thanksgiving 1999. Travis and Monica want to spend a restful holiday with her parents, but their baby may not be able to wait.
Monday, January 30, 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the best book Stephenie Meyer has written so far. I really enjoyed the Twilight series, and I liked most of The Host (although I thought it was quite a bit longer than it needed to be). I know her writing isn't perfect (no one's is), but she is still getting better.
For me, the best thing about Stephenie Meyer's writing is the way she understands those deep moments of connection between two human beings. In the Twilight books, she made me recall the experience of being in love for the first time as a teenager. In The Host, she drew a beautiful portrait of a connection that crossed worlds and species in the romance between Ian and Wanderer.
In this book, the character we generally know as Alex (not her real name) doesn't have any close attachments to anyone in her life. She learns to, through a difficult and painful process. Daniel starts out as the war criminal she's chosen - through an unlikely set of circumstances - to torture for information.
Oh yes, Alex is a difficult women. Meyer doesn't let us go easy on her or warm up to her quickly, but that's okay. This is a suspense novel taking place in the world of elite and highly-trained agents. Elite agents aren't people-people, and Alex is no exception. Getting us to invest emotionally in these characters is difficult, because they are difficult and complex characters.
Meyer pulls it off. Near the end, the unthinkable happens, and it's a heart-wrenching moment.
In the meantime, this is an absolute page-turner. Compared to the slow build of The Host, this book reads lightning-quick. Alex's life is in constant danger, and as a reader I constantly had to know what she was going to do next.
What Meyer can still improve upon is the way she writes relationships between women. This improves a bit toward the end of the novel, when she part-way humanizes a character who had previously been portrayed as Alex's rival. Still, there's the rivalry and the implication that the woman's beauty and sexuality are somehow negatives. Alex also has a few judgmental moments directed at random strangers. But the overall quality of Meyer's writing is moving in the right direction.
Even if you're not necessarily a fan of Meyer based on her previous books, if you're a devourer of suspense and willing to suspend some disbelief at the more unlikely aspects of thriller novels, you should find this enjoyable.
FYI, this may be a tough read if you love dogs. There are dogs, and those dogs are in peril.
I purchased this hardcover book at my local Barnes and Noble. I was not obligated in any way to review it.
The Host book review
The Host movie review
View all my reviews on Goodreads
Sunday, January 29, 2017
** Adults Only. ** In this episode, Diana wants Tim to spend the night with her, but Brigid interrupts their tryst with a crisis of her own making.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Brigid and Fred share a romantic moment when Fred attempts to climb in through Brigid's bedroom window. A new challenge comes between them, though. Diana and Tim go on their third date.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
In Episode 11, the Halloween bonfire comes to a close. Tim and Diana's date is interrupted when he runs into his former partner, and she learns some surprising new stories about him.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
I started reading this short book in December. It took me a while to get back to reading this one because I knew the Remus Lupin chapter was going to be a heartbreaker. It is. So is the back story of Professor Minerva McGonagall, who lost both of the loves of her life. She's also more badass than we realized.
J.K. Rowling named Minerva McGonagall after the Roman goddess of wisdom + William Topaz McGonagall, remembered for being a terrible Victorian poet. He wrote a terrible poem about the Tay Bridge Disaster, which I knew about from Scientific Blunders: A Brief History of How Wrong Scientists Can Sometimes Be by Robert M. Youngson. It's a book I have read and enjoyed for many years.
H, H + DH was kind of a sad book, but I enjoyed it because it gave us some more back story of some of our favorite characters. The Sybill Trelawney chapter was a little short, and it didn't have a lot of new information. But I've now read 2 of the 3 Pottermore story collections, and I'm excited to read the third one.
Here is my review of Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide.
Here is a review from Reading Lark.
I purchased this book on Pottermore and was not obligated in any way to review it.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Episode 9 presents a historical flashback in the tale of Brigid and Diana's ancestor, An. Born in a small Chinese farming village around 1880, An was tricked into leaving her home as a teenager, and ended her life in the notorious role of pirate.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Barbara Jean confronts Edward about the rumors she's heard about him as the congregation prepares to protest the annual Halloween bonfire.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Episode 7 opens with an intimate encounter between Fred and Brigid. Darius prepares to work security at the Halloween bonfire, and Barbara Jean reconsiders her future with Edward.
Monday, January 9, 2017
I'm a writer who wouldn't consider herself a Christian, although I was raised in the Roman Catholic church and have attended the Episcopal church as an adult. Madeleine L'Engle states in this book that she likes to call herself Christian and not particular denomination. However, she does mention the Book of Common Prayer, and I know from her other writings that the church she attended was also Episcopal. (For those of you outside the U.S., that's our version of the Anglican Church/Church of England. We split from the Crown during the American Revolution, but we're still part of the Anglican Communion.) Personally, I also find a lot of beauty and meaning in the Book of Common Prayer, but if you don't, that doesn't mean you won't enjoy this book.
Like many readers, I came to know of Madeleine L'Engle through reading A Wrinkle in Time as a child. I carried on with some of the sequels much more recently, and I found them to be quite wonderful too. I have enough appreciation for L'Engle as an artist to understand that she knows quite a bit about art and how art is done.
That's not to say that I entirely agree with everything she writes in this book. I find her lecture on why it's perfectly okay to use "man" to mean "human being" to be terribly old-fashioned and anti-feminist. No, Ms. L'Engle, we don't want the male gender to be the "default" setting for human being, thus reinforcing the idea that man is human and woman is "other." I don't know if she ever read Germaine Greer or Simone de Beauvoir, but she should have.
I will give her a little bit of leeway since she originally wrote this in 1980. Sadly, L'Engle passed away in 2007, so there's no possibility of asking her now.
Overall, though, this book gave me much more to love than to quarrel with. It serves as an antidote to the kind of misplaced piety that would try to separate artists from our art and to squeeze art into too-tiny, too-narrow boxes it no longer wishes to fit inside.
I received this book from BloggingForBooks.com in exchange for a fair and honest review, which represents my own honest opinion.
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Sunday, January 8, 2017
In Episode 6, Brigid waits for Fred while Fred goes to church and makes confession. Maybe it isn't a good idea for Leander and Brigid to be home alone together.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Story Time is back! In the fifth episode from 'Cut' by Erin O'Riordan and Tit Elingtin, Leander takes Fred to meet his connection...in a coven of Satanists in the middle of performing a ritual.