My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As usual, this book was sent to me as part of a GoodReads drawing.
This little work is really more of a pamphlet and tips the scales at a scant 35 pages. The writing is engaging and does get one’s attention in a hurry but by the time you’ve wrapped your mind around what’s going on (well, around the several things that are going on) the book is over. That said, I’m not sure I could have stuck through it for another 200 pages. Written from the perspective of an adolescent girl the author does a good job of portraying the emotions of her protagonist but as a guy I felt I was squirming a bit uncomfortably as if I was privy to something I shouldn’t necessary see and something that I didn’t entirely understand. This is probably a fitting tribute to the author’s skill rather than a criticism but it didn’t quite strike me as something I’d want to sit through for a longer period of time than was required for the tiny offering to be digested.
If anything, perhaps too well written for my demographic. Probably approaching perfection for the opposing one.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this book free in a GoodReads drawing in exchange for an honest review.
It’s first worth noting that this book can easily be consumed in a few hours, so a nice evening read. Sonia Manzano, better known as Maria on Sesame Street, brings to us a fictionalized account of the 1969 Young Lords uprisings in the Bronx that is not only informative (I’m not afraid to admit I’d never heard of such an event) but also very moving. Our protagonist goes through her own personal bildungsroman as the society around her does the same.
Also worth saying that while touching on such heady themes as social change it remains completely appropriate for young readers. It’s not entirely clear from the packaging what the intended audience is but it is safe for youthful consumption. The author teaches us an important bit of history along with a fair amount of Spanish. A wonderful contribution to children’s historical literature.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
As I’ve said countless times lately, I received this book in a GoodReads giveaway.
With the popularity of shows like “The Big Bang Theory” it’s not surprising that books of this sort are making their way increasingly into the awareness of the reading public. In a nutshell, I think this book tries to cover too much ground in too little time. For most of the topics covered a 300-page book just for one topic is not usually sufficient so to attempt to summarize this much material in 220 pages for 9 such topics is a breathtakingly complex undertaking. That said, it is reasonably executed given the Herculean nature of the task. Rather than critique further let me try to guide the reader part by part.
Chapter 1 is rather an outlier. Potentially interesting but with a distinct mathematical bent that will leave many readers scratching their heads. Do NOT judge the book based on the first chapter. Just politely skip it if it gives you flashbacks to statistics class.
Chapters 2-4 work together as examples from classical physics. They stand alone but comprise a skippable grouping of their own if they don’t sit well with you.
Chapters 5-7 represent Einstein’s General and Special Relativity. As concepts they are massively intriguing but again, if they don’t appeal then they are a skippable grouping.
Chapter 8 is really more philosophical than physical.
Chapter 9 is the most referred to bit of physics in the past 50 years in popular culture. If you read nothing else then read this.
Chapter 10 is for the UFO crowd.
Chapter 11 is a bit of a throw away. Perhaps a tease for a next book.
In summation, I think that like any book of this type it’s straddling a fine line. As someone who has been reading books of this ilk since he was 10 it’s just a rehash of topics I’ve read half a dozen times before. There’s no new information here. For the uninitiated I think it tries to be too broad in scope and will leave a lot of head scratching. I will say though that with the exception of the first chapter the author has successfully eradicated the mathematics from these topics. That in itself is an accomplishment not to be sneezed at.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Unsurprisingly, this book came to me free from a GoodReads drawing. Despite its free-ness, I’ll give it my honest review below.
In many ways this book fails. It’s not especially dramatic. It’s certainly not funny and in almost every way not even very entertaining. Yet for some ineffable reason it did drag me along to the very end. The problem is that I just can’t put my finger on why. I’ve read more than my share of really poor books and this isn’t a poorly written book. On the contrary it’s very well constructed, artfully executed and professional.
If I had to put forth a theory I’d say that it’s most probable that I was drawn forward in this book by the vacuum of my own ignorance. The story, in a nutshell that’s sure not to actually spoil anything, is a fictionalized account of the life of Lazarus. Based on the Wikipedia entry describing Lazarus the book is not too far off the historical version of the man. The real Lazarus seems to have lived a life of variety and suffering just as our fictional one did. However, since I intentionally read every book without previous research, I had no idea who this Lazarus person was. If you had asked me before to describe him the answer would have been more or less:
“Lazarus…? someone from the Bible… maybe started a department store chain?”
That would entirely sum it up. For every tiny event in the book the question, “Is this true or not…?” rolled through my head and it is that question, echoing through page after page that I think drew me on to the end.
So now the question is, what good does any of this information do for you, the potential reader? I am tempted to suggest that readers should first acquaint themselves with this Lazarus person before diving in. However that would cause those who are susceptible to the “pull of ignorance” to be less motivated to read the book. Contrarily, I’m guessing there are those who would benefit from a bit of foreknowledge of what they’re supposed to be reading about. Those who are merely interested in a good story will fit into this group. The third category of reader, those who know their bibles without the use of Wikipedia, I suspect will enjoy this book the most since it offers some potential insight into what Jesus’s youth just might have been like. Just take it all with a grain of salt or two.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
First things first: This book was a freebie from GoodReads in exchange for an honest review. It should be further noted that I am not a Christian and as such I will review this text purely on its literary merits. I am not a frequent peruser of this genre so I will not even make an attempt to compare it with others of its type.
Carroll’s “The Glimpse” is a typical dystopian drama in which our characters find themselves in a world stripped of religion by an overly zealous authoritarian world government. The novel paints a picture that mimics closely the fears of many of the Christians in this country as they await the intolerant one-world-government that will take away their right to worship as they choose. Given this thematic choice the novel wins points for addressing a topic that the intended audience can relate to and has immediate concerns about.
Unfortunately, the manner in which this story is executed is exceptionally primitive. While one can imagine the world Carroll wishes to paint the manner in which he does it brings to mind a Hardy Boys novel. Characters flit into and out of conflict with ludicrous ease while engaging in dialog that is cloyingly sweet and impossibly devoid of realism.
In short, Carroll’s novel has at its core a good idea and one that I suspect his readers can relate to. Sad to say though that the writing just falls wide of the mark. It is important to remember that in order to write a Good Christian Novel you must first write a Good Novel. This is not a Good Novel. Though it certainly is profusely Christian.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
As usual I received this book from a GoodReads giveaway.
I really wanted to like this book but I just could never quite catch my stride with it. The stories contained here are brief and disjointed in a way that fails to capture one’s attention. Viewed in isolation the author is obviously good at their craft but somehow taken as a whole it’s hard not to just skim over the words and realize only later that you’ve been reading for 20 minutes but not consumed anything the author had to say. In fact, the text blows by like a summer breeze and it makes it difficult to even formulate a coherent review. Nothing is more ample evidence of that fact than this rather incoherent bit of feedback.
Perhaps the whole thing would be better consumed in small bits over several days rather than taken all at once. The text is exceptionally tangled and complex so that generally means that one story a day is more in order. Sadly, the bits of this I did manage to catch are not interesting enough to motivate me to pursue that line of evaluation.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A slight variation on my standard disclaimer applies to this review. The author contacted me directly requesting a review of her novel and provided it free of charge. Despite this generous consideration on her part I will provide my honest feedback.
Weighing in at three hours total reading time this book is really more of a novella. In its 212 pages it gives us an insight into the life of a simple immigrant carpenter as he makes his way to America to seek his fortune with a growing family. Schimpf’s offering is written in a very simple and straightforward manner that is easily accessible and easily consumed at one sitting.
Unfortunately, this easy accessibility seems to come at a cost. The events portrayed lack depth and detail and one suffers a bit from reader’s whiplash. Children appear in the family and we are forced to wonder about their ages for quite some time. Events which one might expect to be dramatic turn out to be without consequence and for the most part there is no real sense of drama. For a narrative covering such temporal and geographic distance the landscape seems rather flat.
Topically, this book reminds me strongly of “The Shoemaker’s Wife.” It too tells the story of a similar, though more dramatic immigrant journey, and its endearing quality is its lavish attention to details. Sadly, Nick’s story is at the opposing end of the same spectrum. We are given far too few details and we’re never allowed to be properly tantalized. Schimpf’s protagonist seems taciturn and at times unlikable and one is not sure whether to cheer for him or merely accept what seems to be a fairly easy success.
In summary, “The Journey of a Lifetime” has at its heart a good story but it is merely a thumbnail sketch. It suffices for a family history told at the dinner table to children but does not stand well on its own as a novel intended for the more literate masses.