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Kindred by Octavia Butler

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Science Fiction and Historical Fiction are both genres that I’ve always enjoyed but never become super invested in. I really like what I’ve read, but I won’t become obsessed with the genre and dedicate myself to 20-book world-building sci-fi series. So when I was reading a profile about Octavia Butler and her book Kindred, I was immediately interested. A one-off about a woman from the 70s who is transported through time and space to a slave plantation in the 1800s? That sounds amazing!

And it was.

I don’t want to spoil a lot. But I will say this is a great look at a lot of different aspects of America’s history pertaining to slavery. It shows different peoples’ perspectives of the time, and shows how people can become accustomed to just about anything if they need to do so to survive. It also shows how book-knowledge of a subject doesn’t necessarily translate to a real-world understanding. It questions judgements that people make about people in certain situations. It also highlights the dangers of going back in time for anyone who isn’t a white man.

Just a note, some people qualify this as science fiction, because that is largely what Butler wrote. She argued with that designation, because it has very little science in it. But it does involve (unexplained) time travel, so I would probably consider it at least of interest to those who like science fiction- as not all science fiction explains the science necessary for the fiction to happen.

Overall, this was a great book and I will definitely be reading more of Butler’s work.

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Review: The Bullies of Wall Street

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In my massive accumulation of books when Hastings closed, I found an interesting book called “The Bullies of Wall Street: This is How Greed Messed up Our Economy”by Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC.

I grabbed this without really looking into it, because I have my own opinions on our economy and I wanted to see an expert’s perspective. I didn’t realize this is a children’s book, meant to explain the economic collapse of 2009 (and surrounding years) to kids.

Overall, I think this book does a great job of introducing kids to financial terms and concepts. The first section shows fictional anecdotes of how children and their families were affected by the collapse, and then explains the economical factors that led to their situations. All of these stories have a happy ending, which I thought was unnecessary, but I understand why that choice was made.

The section of the book I enjoyed the most was where Bair talks about her time as head of the FDIC. She explains several key positions and entities, as well as how parts of the legislative process works. This is definitely written with her opinions as the main bias, but I feel she stays pretty neutral about many things. She talks about how she disagreed with certain people and policies, but also saw some reasoning in what they did. She also explains that a lot of differences stem from priorities. She felt the FDIC needed to protect consumers, while others felt that protecting banks would lead to better outcomes for consumers. I remember some of the bank buyouts she refers to and it was very interesting to find out more information about the behind-the-scenes happenings.

I think this book would be great for educating kids and refreshing adults on many financial and economic concepts. I didn’t learn a lot of new information in terms of broad knowledge, but I did learn some things about specific banks and government officials that I didn’t know. I thought this was informative and interesting, while being a very easy, accessible read.

Movies from Books

As an English Major and a lover of books, it might not be surprising that I often prefer the book to the movie version of a story. A lot of times though, I don’t think it’s because the book is better. Sometimes it’s just because I knew the book first. People get upset when the movie changes characters and plotlines, but in reality, it usually isn’t feasible to recreate the book exactly the same. Some things just don’t translate to screen.

Does that mean that people should stop making movies out of awesome books? I don’t think so. One, it wouldn’t happen. Two, a lot of people simply don’t like reading, and it’d be sad for them to miss out on some awesome stories. And three, movies often are a great catalyst for people to read the book. Money and Publicity for authors? Yes, Please.

I like to read the book before I watch the movie. There are a few reasons for this, one, i believe that because the book came first, I should read it first, so I have the same knowledge the movie makers did. Also, if I watch the movie first, I’m to tempted to picture the actors as the characters, and I’d rather see what the author had in mind first. Read the rest of this entry

Give the Gift of Reading!

my friend Kelsey’s classroom really needs reading-level appropriate books for the kids. Donorschoose is a great organization where you can help teachers get materials they need for their classrooms. Check it out and donate if you can!

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

I first saw Nina Sankovitch’s “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” in a random bookstore in downtown Boise. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, just browsing.

I’ve loved memoirs ever since my senior year of high school when we focused on some great memoirs for an entire semester. I also took a course in college that focused on memoirs. I find them interesting in many ways. For one, you get to see a very personal side of someone’s life. You get to see their life through the lens of a specific theme which they’ve chosen as their backdrop. And then, after you’ve read it, you can analyze their version of events and speculate how other people in their lives may have told the story. The subjectiveness of truth has been the downfall of many memoirs’ reputations. It brings up the question: Is it how events happened that matter, or how we remember them, the message we take away from those events?

Anyway, I was going through the memoir section of this bookstore, and “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” jumped out at me. I read the back, and found it interesting, but I didn’t really need more books (as if I ever do…) so I put it back. Read the rest of this entry

Abandoned books

Goodreads put together an infographic about book abandonment that I found super interesting.

A few months ago I put together a post about all the unfinished books that I have and a goal of finishing them. I haven’t made a lot of headway. For some reason, I haven’t felt like reading that much lately, which isn’t like me. But this weekend I’m reading Life of Pi. I really like what I’ve read so far, but I just need to buckle down and read.

What causes you to put a book down and just not pick it up?

 

Of Blade and Valor

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The Cover to “Of Blade and Valor”, Cheryl Alleway’s new release

In the midst of war torn Scotland, a baby girl is born to Jacob Douglas and his young wife. The conflict between the English and the Scots breeds trials of loyalty that tarnish the landscape, while Jacob teaches his strong-willed child the skills she will need to face her uncertain future. Behind the veil of war, villains pillage their land, pilfer what is not theirs and do not fear retribution for their deeds. There is none strong enough to make a stand; no one, until Deb Douglas. Keeping her father close to her always, he radiates a courage that motivates her fight for freedom, for love, and for her land. Deb rallies those she meets to join her cause, which frees the secrets from her past that have been buried for many years. While destiny is all-knowing, Deb never backs down and faces it all with the courage of a man and the heart of a Scot!

I’ve always loved to read, as long as I can remember. When I was four years old I would wake up before my parents on Saturday mornings (that stopped as I got older), and get out my Dr. Seuss books and “read” them. I knew some of the words, but mostly I just knew the stories by heart because I made other people read them to me so often. Read the rest of this entry

Destruction Myth

A while back, I made a goal to read all the books in my possession that I have started, but not finished. As can be expected by my past track record with goals, I have not gotten very far. This weekend, however, I finished one of them.

I borrowed “Destruction Myth” from a friend on New Year’s Day this year. Took me long enough to finish it, right? This friend is an English Major and we always have fun talking about the books that we’ve read in classes. “Destruction Myth” was assigned for one of his poetry classes. It is a collection a poems by Mathias Svalina. Each poem is a creation myth, except for the last one, which is a bunch of destruction myths compiled into what I will call a segmented poem. Read the rest of this entry

Treasuring Books

How do you treat the books you read? Do you keep the pages close together so as not to break the binding? Or instead of bookmarks do you sprawl the book open at the page you’re on. Do you mark your favorite passages? Or are the pages not to be marred?

I have some very good friends who collect books and they have very strong opinions about how books are to be treated. They do not read their signed copies of science fiction. They have copies that look pretty and are in pristine condition, and copies that can be read, which they still are careful with.

I’m not the world’s neatest person. I keep my books in piles throughout my room, and sometimes they fall or get stuffed in a bag and pages get bent. Sometimes there’s water damage or tears. And it’s sad, but as long as I can read the words, I’m happy. Because the magic of reading isn’t in the mass-produced pages.

I love books. Not just reading, but books themselves. I haven’t succumbed and gotten an e-reader yet. I probably will eventually, but it’s not a high priority. Books feel nice, smell nice, and are fun to have around. But it’s the stories within that are the treasure. And no matter how ratty and battle-worn a book is, the story can shine through. That’s the real power of literature.

After all, the bulk of the heart that an author puts into their book is in the writing. Sure, they have input on the cover, maybe even create it themselves. And some authors choose the paper the book uses. But a lot of the printing process is largely impersonal, or at the very least, not unique to the story on the pages.

So whether you wash your hands before opening your favorite tome, or have to squint to read through the greasy chip stains, or slide through the words on a screen, take some time this long weekend to enjoy a story.

Shakespeare, Undead

So, as promised, I am now going to talk about Shakespeare, Undead. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The back is not descriptive at all, so I only knew that it involved Shakespeare and Zombies.

It turns out that Shakespeare is a Necromancer/Vampire who falls in love with a Zombie Hunter who has no clue he’s undead. The playwright is haunted by the ghosts of people from his past, who he gets rid of by writing their stories as plays.

There are a lot of cheesy moments, and I wasn’t sure I’d get through the first couple chapters, but I surprisingly became attached to the characters quite quickly. I love the references to Shakespeare’s plays, though some seem a bit too overt. There are also some fun nods to Shakespeare’s influence on contemporary pop culture, referencing the wizard of oz, the sixth sense, and Star Wars.

It is clear that the author took a class on Shakespeare or two. There are plenty of nods to Shakespeare’s association with Christopher Marlowe, the inconsistencies with the educated playwright and the man from Stratford Upon Avon, and even Queen Elizabeth.

This was a fun, lighthearted read with some neat twists, a couple fun sex scenes and enough irreverent humor that Shakespeare would probably approve. I may be becoming a Zombie literature fan. I don’t know what will become of me.