Review: The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer

30 Aug


This book reminds me of “From Beirut to Jerusalem” by Thomas Friedman. I simply didn’t want to put it down and its 480 pages flew by. I expect Packer’s masterpiece will stand the test of time and soon be considered a classic as well as required reading in regards to the Iraq war. It is carefully researched and well written.


Review: Skagboys by Irvine Welsh

14 Feb

12926063Skagboys by Irvine Welsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Best known for the novel (made into a movie) Trainspotting, SKAGBOYS is Irvine Welsh’s newest work. SKAGBOYS is also a PREQUEL to Trainspotting, so if you were a fan, this is definitely for you. This includes many of the same characters (including my favorite, Begbie, and a considerable political and satirical content. Lots of back-story and snarky dialogue. Funny and tragic and grim, it still depicts another hopeless descent into addiction. Many other readers haven’t liked this book, because it seems a tired rehashing of the other two books in the series (Trainspotting, and its sequel, Porno), but I found it just as enthralling and exciting, like meeting up again with old friends.

Review: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

5 Sep

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Famously, Waiting for Godot is a play in which nothing happens. It opens with two characters on stage–Vladimir and Estragon–who are waiting by a tree. They converse about many things, calling each other by different names. Although their conversations are long and winding, we discover that the men are waiting for an enigmatic figure who goes by the name of Godot. While they are waiting for Godot to come, two figures approach–Lucky and Pozzo.

The author, Samuel Beckett, instills an enormous amount of symbolic complexity into the very foundation of Waiting for Godot. Valdimir and Estragon are comic tramps–straight from the likes of Chaplin or Buster Keaton. They talk like vaudeville comedians, and attempt to perform tricks. But, in an amazing literary feat, Beckett transforms this shtick and color into a discussion about the existential realities of the world.

Waiting for Godot has a wit, vigor and brilliance that confounded audiences at the time, and astonished everyone who has seen or read it ever since. The play is difficult (and makes no bones about its difficulty), but it also embraces the popular comic medium with which Beckett grew up. Hilariously funny, but also terribly sad, Waiting for Godot is the foremost abstract work in theatre and a work of pure genius.

Review: The Giver

8 Apr

The Giver
The Giver by Lois Lowry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a community that is all the same lives Jonas, who discovers that he is very different. Jonas is the main character in the book, The Giver, one of my favorite books. I loved The Giver because the plot was very creative, the theme was magnificent, and the setting was vivid. I think you should read this book for many reasons. The theme of this book is clearly represented: freedom, the right to make your own choices, uniqueness, and individuality are worth dying for. In Jonas’s community, a commitee selects one’s job, war is unheard of, all people wear the same attire, and all are assigned spouses and families. When Jonas is given the special, wonder-filled occupation of becoming the Receiver of Memory, he finds that there is much more to life. Through his task of becoming the Receiver of Memory, he discovers the meaning of love, pain, frustration, color, and cold. That is when Jonas realizes how much more there really is. Life soon becomes overwhelmingly unbearable in his world of “sameness.” He finds life isn’t worth living without the qualities (often that we take for granted) he discovered. That is when Jonas goes on a dangerous journey to find a land that is different. The setting in this book made it quite a pleasure. Everything in the community was predictable and pre-planned. The housing units were all the same. There were designated spots for everything. The setting helped develop the plot and theme. The mysterious ending leaves one filled with curiousity and wonder. The book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry is pure enjoyment, especially for someone who likes a good theme and plot that ties in with the setting.

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Review: Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations

8 Apr

Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations
Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations by Eric J. Guignard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have lately been overwhelmed with the amount of good books I want to read and when I do have the infrequent free time to just sit and read for pleasure, I want to make sure my time is well spent with something I enjoy. This book fits just that: a perfect read to escape the real world and travel to lands long-lost. I felt excitement as I read these stories as if they were written specifically for me. Each author has different opinions on ancient mysteries and folklore and scientific discovery but the editor did a really well job of combining the right stories in tone so that they flowed together. This book is another must read.

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27 Apr

Well, it has been too long since I last wrote something for the blog, way back in November. Though I have not been writing about my experiences, I certainly have been thinking about them lately. I have been thinking about a wide variety of things, and I have always realized that they relate back to my adventures, especially the exchange. Such a life-changing event finds its way into your consciousness in more ways than you could expect! Over Christmas, I kept considering it, and how different the holidays had been last year, through 4 days of snow delays to get home, to everyone in my hometown wanting to talk to me and hear stories in person (I had been writing a weekly travel column for our local paper, and was a bit of a celebrity!) This Christmas, I spent much more time at home, but everywhere I went around Kincardine, people still recognized me demanded stories, which of course brought back torrents of memories. And, of course, it excited me that people still considered me interesting and worth the time, though I am currently spending my time studying instead of adventuring!