Tag Archive: Literature



Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Okay. I get it. A ‘person’ with no previous experience in running the farm takes over. The gullible listen because it is a strong voice. Rather charismatic. Lazy farm animals rather than using their brains or researching what it takes to run the farm vote this person in. The person sets up rules and keeps them as long as they apply to his own comfort and then changes them while no one pays attention, deflecting that attention by making folks think they had seen it wrong to begin with.

Yes, I see the appeal. But I am no more impressed with this book that when it was assigned to my Humanities class in High School. Sad that all the things we fought so hard for back then are being taken away by the pigs. Living the story doesn’t increase its appeal. It’s still a male heavy story with nothing but fighting and hatred.

But maybe everyone should read it. Who knows what might wake up the rest of the animals on this farm. By the way, this was the audio version that I picked up from the OverDrive library. I had hoped that the E-library would have the Kindle version but it was still out. I will take it off HOLD so that it can go to someone else.

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Greenglass HouseGreenglass House by Kate Milford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Please check out my friend, Cheryl’s, review on this book as it was what prompted me to go find this at my public e-library.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…

That is by far a better-written review than I expect to write today. Fibro has me in its grips so I barely have a brain.

Even so, here are my thoughts. I loved that the parents were a part of this story and adventures still happened. I loved the mixture of very fantasy games and real (though fantasy) life. The book kept me wondering what was happening, what would happen next, how could they solve this or that problem. And I loved the vocabulary, invented or real there was a stretch for the reader to work on. I even had to stop the text-to-speech for a moment to highlight a word or two that were easily found in the online dictionary. (Oh, what a modern miracle that I don’t have to pick up a tome of a book to find a word that sends me on a dictionary search for hours! Online dictionaries start with the most logical definitions and don’t stop the story for long.)

I do want to warn the parents of the future readers to read this first themselves. I can see that an inn that is there for thieves and other not-so-law-abiding customers might not be the greatest of settings. And there is a bit of danger for the family involved that the young reader might need their own guidance understanding. For that, I might recommend late middle grades or young adult. But adults will find this a delight and just as exciting as a child reader.

Now I miss the characters and the story. It ended very nicely, yet I wish we could go back and visit again sometime. I couldn’t sleep after finishing last night. It left me wondering about how this author did that. How did she pull me in so thoroughly? Great writing!

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Everything Belongs to UsEverything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

NetGalley gave me this book to read and review. Thank you.

Maybe it’s the busyness of the holidays or my usual ADD, but I found this book confusing. I must’ve read the first six chapters 5 times. Once I was understanding whose point of view I was reading, I found the story engaging enough. In fact, I wanted to know what was happening to the characters. But…

The ending was dull, the ending was cheap, and I felt like I had wasted my time. I wanted to feel that the characters had achieved at least the title of the book. But it just left me flat.

That said, taking my ADD and the holidays into consideration, maybe you will love this book. And maybe I need to read it again someday.

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A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over a decade ago, I met an online friend that would change or at least, modify my life. I met Judith on LiveJournal, you remember that old site, better than MySpace but not quite as social as FaceBook. Judith was chatting in her journal about Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo scene (Which resulted in my first novel being written between the Ides of March and the Ides of April. I didn’t finish the novel then as we had to move to a new city and I just couldn’t stay with it. But I added more than enough wordage to that novel in November 2002 to “win”. (First of 10 or 11 novels since.)

The other thing Judith introduced me to was BookCrossing.com. The concept that grabbed me with BC was how my read book could be recycled to others and then the new reader and the old could discuss this story. The book could travel even when I couldn’t, so it felt like a message in a bottle thrown out to sea. It is fun to see where your book could end up and the friendships that develop over said book. I still belong but since my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I am happy for the invention of Kindle and other e-readers. So I release far fewer books nowadays.

Besides Judith, what do the above paragraphs have in common, and what do they have to do with ‘A Tale for the Time Being’? The art of writing and the art of reading. Both concepts play strong in this story. Rather than a message in a bottle, this message floats ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox in layers of freezer bags. The writer was in Tokyo, the reader/finder in Canada. Years separate the two. Yet a bond is formed. Oh, yeah, Judith read and reviewed this and hooked me in. I think she didn’t like the Zen parts of the book. I found that part delightful. I have to admit that most of the book is believable whereas the Zen bits are a little more ‘magical’. But the title twinkles with that magic. If you read it right.

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I actually read it one and a third times. I borrowed the Kindle version from the library. Between reading it on my Kindle app on my Tablet and listening on my old Kindle text-to-speech, I managed to get to about 36% in. Then I found that my library also had the OverDrive version. So I restarted reading the book with the author’s voice. That pumped up my ratings for this wonderful tale. Each layer of depth into the story has its own built-in amazements. Level one, tree book, and the Kindle version, there are many footnotes and definitions to help with a deeper understanding of that time in history or that country, language. But the narration includes minor helps. Hearing a voice say the Japanese names or words adds to the believability of the whole story. Ms. Ruth Ozeki has an impeccable voice and narration, her variations of voices for each character supreme! I enjoyed rereading the first third with her help. I felt I gained deeper understanding just by hearing her. Please, if you get the chance to pair both versions, go for it!

By the way, I want to thank Jonelle Patrick and her Mysteries and website: http://jonellepatrick.me/ for introducing me to many contemporary Japanese subjects presented in A Tale for the Time Being. At least I was forewarned.

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Five Minutes in HeavenFive Minutes in Heaven by Lisa Alther

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a ride! Not exactly rollercoaster, but not merry-go-round either. From the beginning, I like the main character, Jude. She is one who doesn’t belong in the world, but finds her way, anyway. She is flawed and confused, with good reasons. I wanted to root for her to win each of her obstacles.

From Tennessee to New York to France and back, Jude struggles with her demons, longing for love to return to her as pure as she put it out. Rarely does it find her. Mostly because of her own insecurities and lack of role-models, love floats out as a fantasy. Never to be achieved.

I picked this version of the book up from Amazon, Kindle Unlimited (which is in fact limited, as you can only have ten ‘checked out’ at a time). I kind of wished I had the Audible version or the Whispersync to go along, but I managed okay without.

My biggest complaint is the French. Not the people. Just the use of the language with no definitions available to the reader. If you only took Latin, Spanish and German in your language classes, French isn’t a language you even have books for. At least that’s how it is in my house. So I had to ignore the language and hoped to get the gist. I hate when authors do that to the reader. It stinks of a superiority to the reader. It wasn’t necessary. If you are conveying a story to the reader. and most of the book is in English, why not continue in that language in the last third of the book?

And the ending? Wish I had been given a grown up, matured, version of Jude when she comes home at last! The last part ended in the same way, that the other two sections had ended. Wondering what next. Still, it was worth the read.

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Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To my English teachers and friends who have raved that I should read this. Check. Done! My grade for this book is a C- and that was with the help of Carolyn Seymour, the narrator. Glad I read it so I could say I did, but I was not wowed like others.

I couldn’t have gotten into it as a tree book, even on Kindle with text-to-speech I couldn’t get there. Though the reader did add a lot to the experience, in the beginning, I’m afraid there was no help.

The first half of the book seemed centered around bickering, gossip, and how women of the time could climb the status ladder. Ms. Seymour’s varied voices just made that part even more irritating. I felt sorry for the reader as there was no way to vary the voices enough within that family of females. Lizzy and Jane’s father was probably easy to do. And the voice of Darcy felt unique. But other than those voices, I couldn’t tell whose voice belonged to whom.

As for the book itself, I felt that the real book started about 3/4 in. That’s where it all started to get exciting. I suddenly cared for a few people. It may be that the passive voice that seems to live in most so-called classics that made this less than wonderful. I plan to watch a couple versions of the movie next. Then there are possible book two by more recent authors. And… I’m not done with Jane Austen. I do plan to read them all, somehow. After all, these follow my main goal of reading books by females with strong female leads.

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Original SinsOriginal Sins by Lisa Alther

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, let me tell you, I read books for escape. But sometimes, I might learn a thing or two. And it is with a humble acknowledgement that I gave this book three stars.

Look, I lived through the 1960s and feel that nowadays we have reverted back to the 1860s so revisiting all the bigotry and misogyny of the country through this book during a time when cops shoot kids because of their menacing faces in real life, and reading this nonsense as my escape–well, let’s just say the truth. I nearly threw this book away for most of the first 40%. Then at 43-46% I was ready to be finished as the pages were repeated and out of order. But somehow I was drawn in like vampire to a train wreck??? So much was wrong I hoped there was a single drop I could glean from it.

Okay, this should be required reading for everyone in high school. It could be used to teach English. Look, I understand making the characters sound a certain way but to continue beyond the dialogue was horrid! Then you could use the book to teach patience and tolerance about people who may seem like they are different. Then use it in a Sex Ed. class to show what not to do. Then for a feminism classes to show men and women what not to expect.

I am so glad I didn’t buy this book. I picked it up through Kindle Unlimited. I know a lot of people loved this book. It was through a book group who recommended this to me that I read it. I feel no closer to a truth or an escape having gone through this. And that makes me feel horrid. Sorry.

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Morning in the Burned House
Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from my daughter ages ago. She and I both forgot I had it. I remember visiting her and finding it and sitting and reading with fascination during some boring quiet time. She had many poems dogeared and I could say those were my favorites also. I like Margaret Atwood’s writing style, her descriptions were wonderful.

Though the font was small the format of poetry left plenty of empty page to rest my eyes. Even so I needed to take my time with it to fully absorb the depth of the poems before me. I haven’t read poetry for a long time so I had to remember how to think in that abstract way.

Still, I think it’s about time I read The Handmaid’s Tale that was recommended to me decades ago by my friend.

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Review: Gateway to Reality


Gateway to Reality
Gateway to Reality by Becca J. Campbell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I was given this Kindle version of the book for an honest review.

Let’s start off with what I loved. The worlds, especially Sea Clearly, And the Freefall (I can’t remember the name for it right now) world. I loved the way the characters could make their own worlds and move from one to the other. All great ideas. I would have loved even more world creating processes, seen into other characters points of view as they built and had their own relationships.

What I didn’t like, and nearly quit reading because of: ANGST. If this wasn’t from and author I like, looking for a review, I wouldn’t have read past the first chapter. A sentence could have summed it up. Wes screwed up and now he missed his girlfriend. The rest of the chapter reiterating the same thing drove it into the ground. By the end of the first chapter I hated Wes. I never quite got to the point of liking him. I kept saying to him: GET A LIFE! Here he was in a really cool dream? world? Why not just enjoy it?

Let me just say, I am in pain almost constantly. I read fantasy and sci-fi to escape. When a book spends so much time on the negative emotions, I get overwhelmed. By the way, that seems to be how the YA books go. It is the one reason I would never want to be an adolescent ever again. But Wes wasn’t an adolescent. He is older, working new adult. He has a wonderful family, good friends. Get on with life. When the life hits that could be even more fun, he is obsessing, stalking his ex. Didn’t like the ending or the bad guy either.

My advice to other readers: read only a bit of chapter one. It is worth getting to the rest of the book. I would love to see a book two with these worlds.

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Review: Ann Angel’s Freedom


Ann Angel's Freedom
Ann Angel’s Freedom by Katharina Gerlach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclosure: This was a free ebook, from the author, for honest review.

If Little House on the Prairie was set in Germany during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the main character was in her early teens, it might be this book. I liked the characters. The author did a good job bringing this person, Anna Angel, to life. I know I will think on this book often in the future.

What I found hard to deal with, and this is due to my needing to use text-to-speech, were the use of the closing single quote for an apostrophe. The author used a lot of contractions so I had to get used to hearing the words broken up. I don’t know if that was due to rules of writing in German or what. The other thing was the use of German words where I think an English word would have worked. I’ve taken a couple semesters of German and enjoyed a bit of it. Those long combination nouns are fun to interpret.

I wish I would have known of the Glossary at the back of the book. I know it would include a lot of extra work to make links to the words so that one could click on the word, find out the definition or history to that work and then allow the back arrow to carry one back to where they left off in the story. But that is just a minor wish on my part.

At about 60% into the book, the action picked up enough that I had to stay awake until I finished the book. I do wish to know more about Angel that the quick blurb at the end of the book. Maybe a story to include the facts mentioned there? One can only hope. Danke schön, Katharina Gerlach, for letting me read your novel.

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In reply:

Initial post: Sep 21, 2013 9:39:02 AM PDT
I’m sorry for the interruption in the text-to-speech feature. I will go through the eBook again and see if it is feasible to swap the quotes for apostrophes. I didn’t even know this could cause trouble (actually I didn’t even know there was a difference 😉 ).

I tried to link the words in the glossary to the words in the text but that didn’t work out because some were used more than once.

I’m glad you liked the story. Thank you for your review.

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