July 2009

Arch Enemy Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

For those of you eagerly awaiting the release of the latest installment of The Looking Glass Wars series, the date is quickly approaching. While we haven’t heard from Redd, Queen Alyss and gang since 2007, we’ll finally find out what becomes of the war on Imagination on October 15.

While many people have criticized the series—including myself, before reading it (“How could anyone re-write Carroll’s incredible books? It’s sacrilegious!”)—they really do present a fantastic story. There are ingenious creations and additions to Carroll’s world, perhaps not making it darker—as the original had quite some darkness to it, after all—but making it more gritty and perhaps more scary.

Story of an African Farm

If I were to name all of my favorite feminist novels, The Story of An African Farm will certainly be top of that list. It is a touching story covering the worrisome topics that bother us in our everyday lives and possibly in the early hours of the morning.

But first, here is a bit of background information about the novel. The Story of An African Farm is a popular novel that touches upon topical issues like feminism. Dating back to the late nineteenth century, it is one of those classics that is recognized as a timeless piece, the type which remains relevant to current times. And so you find that many consider this book as one of the earliest fictional takes on feminist themes. The author, Olive Schreiner, was a renowned spokesperson for such topics and thus, readers will find that subplots of this book were driven by her own beliefs and views. Other than feminism, prevailing themes include imperialism and religion where South African-born Schreiner painted the negative aspects of these two fields by drawing from her own experiences.


No Longer At Ease

If you are eager to check out the growing list of African writers, I would recommend looking up one of the most influential writers of this genre – Chinua Achebe. This 78 year old Nigerian writer is well-known for this insightful novels and short stories about the African continent. Thus, it is no surprise that he has won numerous awards for his books including the Campion Medal (1996) and German Booksellers Peace Prize (2002). This particular review is about one of the most popular novels about his homeland – No Longer at Ease.



The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold: Study of a Soused Old Man

The ‘write what you know’ adage is trite and a bit too prevalent in any discussion with friends you know that consider themselves poets, authors or otherwise. And while it will continue to be more than a frustrating quip to endure over and over again through the next sixty years of life (mine at least), Evelyn Waugh kinda put it to practice in an unassuming and all too amusing manner. Waugh’s not the most famous Brit author, but he might be one of the most funny – we can’t count J.P. Donleavy even if he was a subject of the crown, he was one of the colonized.

So you think you want the Kindle 2?

I've heard the complaints about the Kindle. Most of them sound pretty familiar by this point.  Namely, it won't replace a good book. The selection of 300,000 books is too limited.  According to one writer who has NEVER tried the Kindle: The e-reading experience will never beat, or for that matter match, the traditional reading experience. (The irony is, of course, that this is a Purdue student, writing for the Purdue student newspaper, online......)

I'm sorry to be so cheesy, but please don't knock the Kindle before you've tried it. If you are a reader and have the budget for the now $300 Kindle, I'd say, "Buy it!"

30 Things Everyone Should Know Before Turning 30

As I get older, I find myself drawn to more and more “things to do” or “things to know” books that always have some sort of age margin in the title—before you’re 30, before you’re 40… It seems like everybody knows something that I don’t, and I absolutely must learn these somethings all before I turn a specific age, and not a day after!

30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do Before Turning 30 by Siobhan Adcock is no different than the rest of the check-em-off books I’ve been perusing. The back cover insists that the book is “Competence. Now in convenient book format: 30 must-have life skills every capable adult should perfect before turning 30.”

The Commitment by Dan Savage

Dan Savage's "The Commitment" focuses on Dan Savage's own opinions about gay marriage and how he faces the dilemma on how to commemorate his ten- year anniversary with his life partner Terry. 

"The Commitment" opens up with the road-trip from Hell. Imagine the possible ramifications of a six-year-old who inexplicably listens to The White Stripes and Grand Theft Auto rather than the show-tunes or dance music his parents prefer, a “deaf brain-damaged, one-eyed poodle named Stinker”,  and a gay couple driving across the country through the reddest of the red states imaginable.  Before the trip, Dan tries to lay it on the line for his boyfriend Terry: “ Gay couples driving across Montana or South Dakota aren’t on a road trip, Terry. They’re on a suicide mission.”

"The Witch of Portobello" by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho's "The Witch of Portobello" is the story about journey of a modern-day "witch" as told through her family, friends, and acquaintances in short narratives. As in many of Paulo Coelho's earlier novels, the book is more of an allegory depicting what seems to be almost a universal search for a sense of self. In the "witch's" case, as she attempts to fill in more and more of the "missing spaces" in her own life, Sherene comes to learn not only who she really is, but how she can teach and help other people.

The Time Traveler's Wife

"The Time Traveler's Wife" is the story of an extra-ordinary marriage in ordinary times. Well, not quite so ordinary if you consider the fact that the marriage takes place chronologically for Claire, the wife, and is more than a little irregular for Henry, her highly adaptable Chrono-Displaced husband who time travels not through a time machine, but because of a genetic mutation.

Brightonomicon Review

If you like funny science fiction stories or stories with fantastical elements generously mixed in with comedic moments, characters and wordplay, then I suggest settling in to read this review. It is The Brightonomicon by Robert Rankin.

The Brightonomicon traces the footsteps of a mystery-solver and his assistant whilst sort out puzzling cases and save the world (and their neighboring suburbs in England) from various evils. All these cases are connected and are meant to help the main protagonists rid the world of the greatest villain it has ever seen.

"I Heart Female Orgasms" Book Review

Let's just start by saying that "I Heart Female Orgasm" is no "I Heart Huckabees".  Before I even opened the book, I knew I would have a hard time taking the advice of the authors seriously primarily because of the cheese-factor in their photo. They also look like sex is something they do more reading about and talking about than they do first-hand, but as we all know from the band-camp girl in American Pie, looks can be deceiving.

Topical issues in children's books

Recently, I was looking for the name of a book I read as a kid about racism and prejudice in South Africa. That was the backdrop to the main story which in turn was about the friendship between two young girls of different races. It was a well-written, rather touching story and yes, I still don't know the name of that book. However, my quest to find its name led me to explore various lists of recommended reading for young adults. This lead to a starting discovery. Now, tell me something ... is it just me or has the number of books about princesses and ponies increased in number since I left school? Or has it always been like that?

Frantz Fanon: Concerning Nationalism

Devoting one’s life to the freeing of an oppressed people must include some precursor that would make this avenue the most desirable one to follow. Being born on a Carribean island claimed by the French, Martinique, Frantz Fanon’s familial background consists of a lineage descended from former slaves and illegitimate, mixed births. The climate in which Fanon found himself growing up, though, didn’t dissuade him from harboring some nationalistic impulses towards France. And after the German occupation began and as portions of the French Navy was ostensibly stuck on Martinique raping, stealing and otherwise violating the human rights of the native peoples, Fanon saw fit to join the Free French Forces.