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Showing posts from 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


                The day James Halliday died a video was released to the world media and to every Oasis user. James Halliday had created the OASIS, the globally networked virtual reality that had begun as a massively multiplayer online game. He was worth two hundred forty billion dollars and this video was his last will and testament. Whoever found Halliday’s Easter egg hidden within the OASIS would get not only his fortune but his controlling stake in the company. Wade will never forget where he was when he first heard the video. He became one of the many people known as “gunters” obsessed with finding the three keys that would lead you to the prize. But it wasn’t just the other gunters Wade was worried about. The Innovative Online Industries, IOI, was hunting for the keys too. They planned on changing the OASIS making people pay a monthly fee and plastering advertisements everywhere. It would change everything. But years passed and no one had found a s…

Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

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Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)



It took me a while to get my hands on this book. Stephen King pulled it, written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, because it was found in the possession of people who had attempted or committed high school shootings. This is the story of Charles Decker, a senior in high school who assaulted his chemistry teacher. The teacher survived and he was forced to see a psychiatrist. Then he walked into his Algebra II classroom, after getting into an argument with the principal and setting his locker on fire, and shot his Algebra teacher in the head. Charles then killed another teacher and held the classroom of over twenty students hostage for hours. 
Rage is a very interesting novel. Not only do you have the aspect of a school shooting but you have really in depth reflections on life by not only our narrator Charles, but some of the other students he has taken hostage. The students’ reaction to the shooting was much calmer than I could ever imagine and …

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Why the word feminists? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general- but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded.

                When I first started reading this essay I was unsure if I would even write a review. Then about a page in I realized that I had a lot to say on the topic of feminism and that everything I could think to say was written in this essay. We Should All Be Feminists is a modified version of a talk Adichie gave in December of 2012. It is amazing. It is amazing because she has spoken on an issue that many people are passionate about: equal rights for men and women. We have come a long way, and Adichie acknowledges that, but we still…

Stephen King and Philosophy edited by Jacob M. Held (2016)

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Stephen King and Philosophy edited by Jacob M. Held

                I read for the pleasure of it. I enjoy being immersed in a great novel or even in the unbelievable facts of a nonfiction book. I’ve been that way all of my life. I fell in love with Stephen King’s writings at a young age and have been addicted to him ever since. There are moments when I’ve been horrified, petrified, amazed, stunned and entranced while reading his books. And there have been plenty of moments when after reading I’ve wondered if there was more. If there was some meaning that I hadn’t pulled from the story itself. I love the conversations that I’ve had with other people about King’s work and that is the reason I wanted to read this collection of essays so badly. What are the hidden meaning behind King’s words? This was the chance to look at the body of Stephen King’s work to see just what gems can be uncovered about not only King’s writing but what he thinks about society.                 There are sevente…

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (2015)

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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson


                The seas around Britain were a war zone. The German U-boats had sunk more than one ship in the last few months in an attempt to disrupt trade in Britain and stop them from receiving any goods that would help them in the war. The captain of the Lusitania, William Turner, was well aware of the risk but he was navigating the fastest liner being used at that time. He could achieve 25 knots with all four boiler rooms running, which could easily outstrip any U-Boat. The Lusitania set sail on May 1st from New York to Britain hoping to make the transatlantic ship without any issues. Walter Schweiger, the captain of the submarine U-20, was on the other side of the ocean. He and his crew were in the water on their own, free to make decisions of what ship to torpedo and eventually he would set his sights on the Lusitania.                 Intense, well researched, well written and emotional, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing o…

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (2014)

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A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James


                The Singer was planning a peace concert in the middle of Jamaica’s current political turmoil. The gangs in Jamaica weren’t sure how to feel about the peace concert, especially when the Singer was conversing with the two opposing parties. On December 3, 1976 someone tried to kill the Singer. He was struck in the chest, in a shot that just missed his heart. The peace concert would have to be postponed and the Singer would leave Jamaica, not returning for a few years. A Brief History of Seven Killings is not the Singer’s story. It is the story of those affected by the attempted assassination of the Singer, and the lives taken, changed and ruined after that day.                 If you are looking for a quick easy read about Bob Marley, then keep looking because this is not that book. I was actually surprised by how little of this book actually involved Bob Marley. He was the tertiary character that this story talked about bu…

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


                This book is an experience and for that reason I am having a really hard time trying to summarize what I just read. The plot revolves around Ifemulu, a Nigerian woman returning to Nigeria after living in the United States for over a decade, and Obinze, the man she loved when she first made the move to the United States. The narrative changes from the present to the past, from Obinze to Ifemulu. But this novel is about the experience of living in both Nigeria and the U.S. It’s about the struggle to form bonds with people in a new world, the struggle to keep love alive across an ocean and the issue of race in America and how people are perceived because of their race.                 There was only thing that I didn’t care for in this novel and that was the constant change in narrative between the past and the present. In my opinion it impacted the pacing of the plot and interrupted the rhythm of the story. That is literally my only …

Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden (2012)

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Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden

                Money Mississippi has a lot to tell you about what’s gone on in this small town. The story doesn’t begin with the death of Emmitt Till in 1955, nor does it end there. It begins many years before that with a restless spirit taking over the mind and body of a young girl. That young girl was Doll and Doll wreaked havoc wherever she went. It gave her pleasure to do so. When she met her demise the spirit would continue to wreak havoc in the minds and bodies of others. It was a path of destruction and that path eventually led to the unnecessary and untimely death of Emmitt Till. Those who loved him were forced to move on and live with his loss.                 I’m finishing this novel on August 30, 2016. Days have passed since the 61st anniversary of Emmitt Till’s death. It’s disturbing to imagine the murder of a fourteen year old boy whose death was caused by his skin color and an imagined crime. It’s even worse knowing that the mur…

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz (2011)

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Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz


                Years before the South seceded from the Union, John Brown attempted to hold Harper’s Ferry in the slave state of Virginia. What did he want from the raid? He wanted to spark a revolution and the war to come. He wanted to arm the slaves in that town, empty the armory and begin making his way down South freeing the slaves. John Brown was an abolitionist who completely believed that slaves should be free and that the institution of slavery should not exist. Brown was willing to take lives and die for the cause as was evident on October 16, 1859 and through the thirty six hours that followed. Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War is the story of John Brown. Divided into three parts, Horwitz takes his time dissecting the life of Brown looking at his upbringing and belief system, the raid itself and the aftermath. This book was very well rounded and showed a very…

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot


                Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951. While on the operating table receiving treatment, the surgeon on duty took two samples from Henrietta without her knowledge. Those samples were then sent to another doctor where her cells were grown in a lab. The cells were labeled HeLa, from the first two letters of her first and last name. Her cells would continue to be grown and distributed to labs around the world. HeLa cells behaved unlike any other cells and would be flown into space, tested numerous times and would help in research against some of the most virulent and well known diseases. HeLa cells changed science. But Henrietta Lacks wouldn’t know about any of that. She would die in October 4, 1951. Her family wouldn’t learn about her “immortal” cells until two decades later. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a comprehensive look at Henrietta’s life, the affect the HeLa cells had on science, …

Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey

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Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey

When people look back on the history of America’s Civil War often the focus is solely on the effect this war had on the United States and its ability to own slaves. Rightfully so. The idea of a country splitting itself in two so half of that country can own human beings is extremely problematic and questions not only the morals of that country but where it will continue to stand in history. What makes Our Man in Charleston stand out from other Civil War historical books is that the focus is towards Britain and the man partly responsible for keeping Great Britain out of the war. That man was the British Consul in Charleston, South Carolina, Robert Bunch.                 I can honestly say that the majority of the information provided within these pages, is information I had never been privy to. It’s interesting and scary to imagine how different the outcome of the war may have been if a man like R…

Columbine by Dave Cullen (2009)

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Columbine by Dave Cullen

                On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed thirteen people at their high school before shooting themselves. The footage was shown on every news station for hours. Rumors began immediately about them being bullied, members of the Trench Coat Mafia, outcast, Goths. For a while the police weren’t sure if there were only two shooters, maybe there was a possible third. At the end of the day, 12 students and a teacher were murdered, many others were injured and the two young men who committed the crimes turned the gun on themselves and took their own lives. One young man escaped by pushing himself out of a window, even though he was horribly injured, into the arms of the Swat team. I learned later of the young girl who professed her faith before being killed. I remember the footage and I remember the horror and the fear that came from that day. I also remember the accusations and the focus on bullying. I even remember Marilyn Manson being…

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (2008)

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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein


                Enzo isn’t afraid of what comes next. He knows that when he dies, he will leave his canine body behind, and become a human. He saw that on a documentary and believes it to be true so he isn’t afraid. He will miss Denny though. Denny chose him out of all the puppies at the farm. He took him home and loved him. Taught him everything there is to know about racing and then expanded the family to include his wife Eve and their daughter Zoe. But when Eve got sick things began to change. Their schedule became completely different. Denny was afraid to leave and race. Enzo saw everything and it’s their story that he is telling now. The story of his family, the love they shared and the life he lived with them.                 This is one of those books that make you think about every single relationship you have and how it affects everyone around you. The idea of having the dog narrate the story was brilliant. Enzo is an amazing charac…

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers by Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale

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Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers by Stephen Shames and Bobby Seales



Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers is a collaborative effort between photographer Stephen Shames, Bobby Seale and other members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to tell their story. Their efforts are extremely successful with the amazing photography and the gripping oral history within this book. The images speak for themselves. They are extremely powerful, reflecting the life of a member of the Black Panther Party in the sixties. The oral history provided by the many members gives the necessary context for the photos so one can truly understand the message they were trying to convey and their purpose. This book isn’t meant to be an in depth look at the entire history of the Black Panther Party. It does though provide a great introduction to leaders of the party, their goals, struggles, ideologies and their community outreach. An all-around great read with amazing visual…

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)

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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini


                Mariam was born in Herat. A harami or bastard child born to maid and a rich businessman. Her mother warned her of the type of man her father really was. A man who could send his child and her mother to live in a shack miles away from the city to hide his shame. Laila was born in Kabul to a loving mother and father. Her two older brothers would fight for the Taliban to defeat the Russians. Her brothers wanted a free Afghanistan. Death would surround both Mariam and Laila. Their stories would intertwine as the bombs fall around them and as Sharia Law begins to take over their land.                 Mariam and Laila’s story is told in four parts. Every single part is amazingly done and so well written. Hossieni dedicated the first part to Mariam and the second part to Laila and that ended up being a great decision. He really focused on building each characters lives and circumstances. Mariam and Laila were both extremely well roun…

The Thirteenth Tale By Diane Setterfield (2006)

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield



                “I am going to tell you a story- a marvelous story!... Once upon a time there was a haunted house… Once upon a time there was a library… Once upon a time there were twins.” And so the writing began. The story of Vida Winters and Angelfield was finally told. After so many false narratives handed to journalist on a silver platter as if they were the real things. After each new novel, Vida Winters told a new tale, a new truth, a new life. But now finally after her last novel has been written she is ready to tell the true story of her life, her home, her family and her ghost. The person chosen to hear that story is the introvert and amateur biographer Margaret Lea. Always more comfortable in the antiquarian bookshop her family owns, Margaret is initially shocked to find herself invited by such a prestigious author to write her biography. But with each passing day as the story continues to unfold, Margaret examines her own story, her …

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

                I’m going to be completely honest and upfront, this book is extremely awkward. It’s the story of Oskar Shell and how he heals after his father dies in the September 11th terrorist attacks. His father had called the apartment more than once during the attack and Oskar heard the last message but was unable to answer the phone. Over a year after his father’s death he finds a key in an envelope in a blue vase and goes on a quest across New York trying to find the lock the key opens. His only clue is the word Black written on the envelope in red ink.                 The narrative is what got me with this novel. The author had three different narrators speaking throughout the book: Oskar, his grandmother and his grandfather who left his grandmother before his father was born. This story encompasses all three of them and the events that happened throughout their lives. The only narrator I ever liked throughout the sto…
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Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz


                If I could recommend any book to women that would introduce them to wide variety of different women who impacted the world it would be Rad Women Worldwide. I think this book is absolutely incredible. From the very beginning of this book, readers are introduced to the many different, inspiring stories of women from all around the world who have strived to make a difference in themselves and the world. Many of these women I recognized but there were some, that after being on this Earth for thirty years, I had never heard of. The biographies were short and to the point, providing just enough information to describe the type of person they were and impact the women had on society. This leaves the door open for anyone to research more into the lives of these women if they find their interest sincerely piqued. If you choose not to delve further into the li…

You Can’t Touch My Hair: and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

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You Can’t Touch My Hair: and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson


                Honestly, Phoebe had me at the title and the cover photo. I knew a kindred spirit when I saw her and I wanted to know if me and Phoebe would be bosom buddies in real life. I like her. Why? Because the fact that she could throw in so much humor, while being honest and tackling really complicated issues concerning race made me happy. It’s hard talking to people about life as a black woman. Yet, Robinson did it very well, with some well-timed humor included. This book won’t be for everybody and that’s okay. She makes it very clear that there is no niche that you can contain her in. She is multidimensional, so whatever box you thought you were going to hold her in, you might as well completely disregard. That’s why I enjoyed this collection of essays. I felt like I was having a really honest conversation with one of my friends that included many glasses of wine, served chilled.             …

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2004)

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The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

                Philip was a young boy but he still knew of the war against the Jews going on in Germany. He could constantly hear his parents discussing it. So when Lindbergh was elected president instead of Roosevelt in 1940, all Philip could feel was fear. His father knew Lindbergh was an anti-Semite. So did many of the other Jewish families in the neighborhood. All of whom were afraid of what Lindbergh’s pact with Hitler and the Japanese Emperor could mean for their future. America had now become allied with the Axis powers. While Europe was being slowly decimated by Hitler’s Army, the Japanese would begin conquering the different nations of the Pacific. The president of the United States, Charles A. Lindbergh, would do nothing but watch.                 I love alternate history historical fiction novels. I think it such an amazing genre with so many endless possibilities. We all know how World War II ended, how Roosevelt would end up servin…

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (2003)

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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

                In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Fair. It was originally intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering the New World. But after the Exposition Universelle, an extremely successful world fair that was hosted in Paris, the World’s Fair turned into something more. Chicago wanted to put its name on the map and also build a structure that would rival the newly constructed Eiffel Tower. The architect Daniel Burnham would oversee the construction of what would be known as the White City and its success or failure would ride on his shoulders. While Burnham was building and planning the World’s fair, there was another man who had his sights on more sinister projects. He was known as H.H. Holmes but that was only one of the aliases he used. He would ultimately be responsible for the death of at least nine people with some estimates guessing up to two hun…

Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo

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Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo


                I had never heard of Irena Sendler until I saw this book. As someone who reads quite a bit of World War II nonfiction books I found this to be quite disturbing. Who is this woman being crowned the “female Schindler?” I know his name. I’ve known his name since hearing of the famous movie that I wasn’t brave enough to watch until I reached adulthood. Now, after reading Irena’s Children¸ I am very well aware of the history of Irena Sendler and the courage it took to walk into the Warsaw Ghetto every day and walk out with a hidden Jewish child.
                This book is powerful in so many ways. One of the things that I admired most about Irena’s Children is that Mazzeo made it a point to emphasize that Irena was human. She was flawed, made mistakes but she wanted desperately to fight against what she found deplorable. Looking back at her history one can understand why Irena had such strong convictions. Her father, Stanislaw Kryzanowsk…

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

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The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis



                Elka looked at Trapper like a father for the last ten years. She never thought it would end with her throwing her knife in his shoulder and pinning him to a tree. A lot of things had changed in a year. The magistrate approached Elka when she went into town, where drawings of Trapper had been posted everywhere. He was wanted for the murder of a few different women and a child. Elka feared for her life and the things that she knew and ran. But Trapper was always near and so was the magistrate. Finding the parents Elka didn’t even remember were her only hope of starting over. But they went looking for gold when she was a young girl. Elka was seven when Trapper saved her and that was all she had ever known since. The Wolf Road starts off with a bang and continues to deliver. Within a few pages I knew I liked Elka. She was flawed, hard as nails and yet because of her isolation completely naïve when it came to social interactions. She was interesti…

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


                In the village in Turkey where Desdemona and Lefty were from, things like this happened often. Well, at least there were stories of babies born looking like girls and then around fifteen they were boys. But that was in turkey in the early 1900’s, not Detroit in the 1970’s. There was a reason why first cousins weren’t allowed to marry and you even needed permission to marry a second cousin. Desdemona was always afraid that something would happen after her and Lefty got married. But then they had two kids and they were fine. Their children had kids and Calliope seemed fine. Calliope had no idea about her own truth, even though it should have been discovered at birth. She was born with the genitalia of a woman but the genetics of a man. Middlesex is what Cal has to say about his family history, the girl he used to be and the man he became.                 I can honestly say that I have never read a book about a hermaphrodite before. This was …

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (2001)

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Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

                Other trainers had overlooked Seabiscuit for many reasons. He was a difficult horse with “bucked knees” and bad composition. “Get me that horse. He has real stuff in him. I can improve him. I’m positive.” That statement made my by Tom Smith secured in history the success and trials that would come to him as the trainer, Charles Howard as the owner and Red Pollard, his jockey. The group would come together and take the racing world by storm. In the late 1930’s Seabiscuit would fight through injuries, successes and failures as he was swept back and forth across the country competing against many of the best horses in the world, breaking records and winning.                 I only found myself gravitating towards this book because I had previously read Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and absolutely loved it. I have never been a fan of horse racing. I’ve also never seen the movie Seabiscuit so I considered myself completely ignoran…

Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers (2000)

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Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers


                I was convinced I knew what I wanted to write when I sat down to begin this review. I was going to mention how everyone can recognize the photo used on the cover of this book. That it’s an example of patriotism and a symbol of World War II. It represents the integrity of the men fighting on the small island of Iwo Jima and an ode to those who lost their lives. But it’s so much more than that. That image was used as propaganda to extract more bonds from Americans in the war effort. The image was falsely portrayed and the truth pushed to the side because the image itself was so well done that the story framed around it simply had to be true. Many didn’t want to listen to the true story behind the image, the raising of the second flag on top of Mount Suribachi. That the original picture of the first flag being raised was never used and is barely even acknowledged. Flags of Our Fathers uses this image to explain what rea…