Saturday, December 31, 2011


   Being a fan of historical fiction, I was intrigued by Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution, which touches on one of the eras I find most fascinating--the French Revolution. But, as with multitudes of other young adult narratives, this one marches forward with only one foot in the past, leaving the other one firmly planted in the 21st century, with all its slang, its technology, and its teenage angst. 
   There is romance, of course, and what is better than romance in Paris, with its dimly lit cobblestone streets, its smoky bars, and its spooky catacombs. Yup, that's right. A lot of time is spent creeping through the musty tunnels of the graveyard of French history, creating a nice bridge between the modern world and the turbulent and bloody times surrounding the events of the French Revolution. 
   I was pleasantly surprised by the level of historical detail and the contrast of worlds displayed as the heroine delves more deeply into events of the past. Revolution was great fun, and I recommend it highly. Keep in mind, though, that it is fairly mature in its subject matter. All in all, a good read!

Friday, December 30, 2011


    Well, leave it to paying attention to a CNN recommendation to have to be faced with this dismal read. Robopocolypse, by Daniel Wilson, had me wondering, as I slogged my way through it, why some books manage to get published and others do not. Ugh. What a waste of my time this one was. What agent thought this story would be worth pursuing? Again, ugh.
   Seriously, imagine EVERY sci fi movie involving robots you have ever seen--especially the bad ones--and that is this book. As I read it, I had the distinct displeasure of having the story run through my head in a cinematic manner, which didn't improve things, as there was a decent bit of blood and gore, something I am not opposed to, on principle, as long as its graphic presence has more than a gratuitous purpose. Normally, being able to "see" a story play out as though it were a movie is usually a good thing, implying that a narrative is so vivid and powerful that it grips your imagination and draws you in completely. In the case of Robopocolypse, though, it distracted from what could have been a premise that had some legs.... mechanical and reanimated, yes, but at least there would have been something upon which to stand.
   Thanks, CNN, but no thanks.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Review--A Mighty Long Way

   This book, by Carlotta Walls LaNier, should be required reading for all students, as classroom studies of the true impact of the struggle for racial equality clearly are inadequate in portraying the true trials and prejudices blacks faced during the Civil Rights period... and surely still face. A Mighty Long Way is Ms. LaNier's first-hand account of one of the most turbulent and significant eras in this country's struggle for civil rights for all.
   As one of the Little Rock Nine, Ms. LaNier documents the emotional and personal side of being one of the famous nine black students to be the first integrated into an all-white school, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her portrayal of her dedicated family, the nine brave students, and an anxiety-laced adolescence is heart-wrenching, for the simple reason that Ms. LaNier was nothing more than an ambitious, gifted student, who wanted the best possible education available. She never intended on becoming a symbol of the struggle for racial equality in the very highly-charged Civil Rights era, nor was she comfortable with that role, once it was thrust upon her.
   What comes through most vividly in her gripping account is the terrible emotional toll resulting from the injustices inflicted upon her and the other 8 students.
   Tessa was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Ms. LaNier at Colorado Mountain College, and having read the book, myself, I wish I could have attended, as well. It is pleasing to note that the event was sold out, a testament to slowly improving awareness of the need for equality in this nation and all around the globe, for all minorities.
    I, for one, will treasure the signed book that came home from that evening. It was courageous of the author to write it and speak about it, but infinitely more courageous of her to live it. I highly recommend it to all ages.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review--Sophie's World

    Thanks to my dear friend Jana, this book came into my hands, and what fun it was. If you are a fan of philosophy, and welcome a new take on a mind-bending subject, give "Sophie's World" a try. Jostein Gaarder's fictional handling of the realm of philosophy is adept and well-thought out, which comes as no surprise, since Gaarder spent years teaching high school philosophy. He probably had so many glassy-eyed students staring back at him over the years, uncomprehending the heady subject he placed before them, that he decided to add a twist that would lighten the heavy load.
    In "Sophie's World", the fictional story quickly becomes secondary, leaving the real meaty essence of the history of philosophy exposed. Truth be told, the "story-telling" is second-rate, but captivating enough, as one persists in turning pages, curious as to how the story will unfold. But, as I said, the narrative becomes unimportant, as the beautiful world of philosophy begins to emerge. 
   Easily read by both young people and adults, "Sophie's World" is a fine way to test the philosophical waters; it left me eager to dive in to deeper pools.