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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin

Delacorte Press; 308 pp.

This book manages to be ultimately uplifting even though it covers some of the most gruesome subjects of modern times. It's a rare opportunity for us to get an intimate glimpse into the daily life of Africa; touching on many of the complex issues facing this great continent today. Topics such as genocide, HIV and female circumcision are woven into the fabric of the story much like a spider weaves his beautifully crafted web.

All of the characters in the novel are brought to life skillfully. The main character, Angel, is just an amazing literary creation. Her day-to-day hardships, which are many; and successes, small as they may be, are portrayed through the world of her small home baking business. Her beautiful, decorative cakes are described so clearly, we can almost smell them! Tragedy has struck her family again and again; but she refuses to let it get the better of her. Her stoicism and ability to survive in the face of the worst events imaginable are a lesson to us all.

I am a fan of The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series, but those stories are shallow and sophomoric compared to Baking Cakes in Kigali. This book delves so much deeper and goes into so much more detail; and indeed, the writing is better. Thanks are due to Library Thing, Delacorte Press, and Gaile Parkin for their consideration in sending this book for review through Library Thing's Member Giveaway Early Reviewer's program.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Forgotten Man by William Graham Sumner

Sparks Media, 38 pp.

Here is an essay (originally given as a speech) on economics, politics and social structure written by a Yale University professor in 1916 which is amazingly reflective of our country's current situation--over 90 years later!! Some of the language and some of Sumner's ideas do come across as slightly archaic, hardly surprisingly, considering it was written nearly a century ago.

The focus of this small tome is the everyday working man and woman; i.e., middle-class America by today's nomenclature. It expounds on the problems that stem from the government providing relief to many needy categories of people and institutions and this always takes away from, and is ultimately paid for by, the everyday working man and woman. These poor souls (that would be most of us) are constantly bearing the brunt of the governements' liberal practices. In light of today's headlines and the predicament we find ourselves in currently, this book is certainly an interesting read. If only someone had taken heed 93 years ago.............

Thank you to Library Thing and the publishers for their consideration in sending me this book for review.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Ship of Knowledge, Volume I by William Bailey

Perfect Paperback, Publisher: Bailey, 509 pp.

This book is a gem of a science fiction story. That's not all it is. It's a cry for the people of the world to wake up before they destroy the planet they live on. And it's a very realistic depiction of the holocaust and destruction that will take place if we continue on the present path. In this regard, it is truly frightening in its vivid and seemingly very realistic portrayal of current events escalating into apocalyptic proportions with the final outcome being an all too possible, human-wrought, Armageddon. The people that we follow in the story are living out a dream sequence, even as their physical beings are being stored in limbo onboard very elaborate space craft bound for a new planet to inhabit. They have been enroute for a thousand years, and are now just arriving at their destination. These "dreamers" who are to populate the new world, must first virtually live out a life on the Earth of a thousand years ago and the nightmare of the Armageddon that occurred then. The powers that be felt in this way, they would learn to respect their new world and all mankind would live in peace after they had seen for themselves what the stupidity of religious and racial hatred did to the Earth. How these "dreamers" were saved from the destruction of Earth is only hinted at, and is to be explained in detail in later volume(s).

The depiction of the strife that led to the Earth's destruction; as well as the portrayal of the advanced space traveling crew, "dreamers", futuristic equipment and gadgets, space craft full of specimens from the old world that were salvaged and are being transported to the new planet, holographic workers of all kinds, complete with elaborate costumes; and especially vivid descriptions of various modes of futuristic transport is awe-inspiring. I have read alot of science fiction books, and never has one painted such a vivid picture in my mind; as if a movie were playing in the background. This story just begs to be made into a movie--3D please!!!!

The foreword describes the eerie birth of this story; that alone is truly frightening. In it, the author also explains that he is not a writer, and is rather poor in English subjects, including spelling and tense; as mentioned by an English teacher he had originally asked to look over the manuscript. I appreciate his honesty and I must say, he is absolutely right. As far as English is concerned, this book would appear to be a pretty rough draft greatly in need of massive proofreading, spelling corrections and heavy editing. The tense issue is a prevalent one. Sentence structure is very poor, with long, run-on sentences full of ambiguity. Ordinarily, the problems mentioned in this paragraph would have turned me off of a book I was reading. I used to think that was the main reason I read; to experience elegant usage of the English language, which is truly an art form of its own. I've changed my mind after reading this book. The story that is told here, is worth it!

Library Thing and the author of this book have afforded me the opportunity to experience a book that I would not ordinarily have come across; and I would like to extend my thanks to them for their consideration. This book has enriched my imagination and also filled me with a new level of dread for the current state of affairs of this world we live in. Reading this book has truly been a unique and rewarding experience.

RESPONSE FROM AUTHOR:

Dear Shirley,

I woke up early this morning and saw another reviewer (yours) had posted another review of The Great Ship of Knowledge, on Amazon.com. It’s always emotional for me when I read a review of my work, and yours made me tear up! Thank you! I still find it so hard to believe that I wrote a novel.

As you know after reading “The Epiphany,” this story is truly the result of lucid dream I suffered through just after midnight, on the morning of January 1st, 2008. A dream so vivid and powerful, that it inspired and forced this 47 year old, who had never written more than 5 pages of scribble in his life, to become immediately obsessed with writing about it.

Writing this first volume, with only a highschool English class for my educational background (English was my worst class in highschool) was no easy task for me, but I knew the story had to be told, and told by me. So I just started writing and rewriting it until I felt I had written my best draft, and then rewrote it a few more times, before I had burned out and just needed to let go of my manuscript, and have the first volume printed.

I know my writing still needs help, but I’m elated I was able to articulate the words well enough for the reader to see my vision as if they were there. I’m taking steps to improve my writing skills before I write the next volume of The Great Ship of Knowledge. Two days ago, I signed up for a English comp one class, at the local community college, and after I complete that course, I will be taking English comp two along with a creative writing class they offer. The story gets more involved and detailed in the next edition, so I want to take the necessary steps now to improve my writing skills, before I pick up the pen and once again disappear into a world of thought for months on end as a writing-recluse.

Thanks again! You made my day!
Sci-fi Dreams, William Bailey

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fragment by Warren Fahy

Delacorte Press; 352 pp.

Move over Jurassic Park! Make way for the unimaginable beasts running rampant on a totally isolated, heretofore undiscovered island with biological horrors that will keep you up all night and populate your nightmares, too. This is ecological terror at its finest. A young team of scientists, and tv crew have drifted to the ends of the earth in their high tech studio-ship-at-sea while filming a lackluster tv reality show, when they pick up an SOS signal from the most remote spot of land on the planet. The drama is about to pick up speed in ways they can't even imagine, and the reality is about to get out of hand! The question changes from "who will the daily romance involve" to "who will survive and get off of this island alive; or will anyone, or anything survive?" This is a summer blockbuster adventure and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can hardly wait for the movie this is sure to inspire. I appreciate having been awarded this book through Library Thing's Member giveaway program and would like to extend my thanks to LT, the publishers and the author for this enjoyable experience.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Preparation (H)ead Literature Suppository by Boomer M. Wadaska, Christopher Michael and Kyle Bernhardy

Illegal Pad Publishing, 237 pp.

Wow! This is definitely some crazy, off-the-wall stuff. But you know what, I think I actually liked it. It really grows on you. Three young men have contributed various writings to form this work; from poems and short stories to cartoons and musings. In so doing, they often lay bare their imaginations and gut-wrenching emotions. These three young men possess alot of creativity. Oftentimes, hormones have taken over the stories, as one would expect in young men going through, and just past, and beyond puberty. This is not literature in its finest, pure form; although every once in awhile a spark of true writing prowess shines through. No, I think this is something altogether different, and every bit as important as that literary classic. I actually felt as if I came to know these three, and that they have now been friends of mine for years. This book deserves to stand proudly next to America's Best Non-required Reading and Uncle John's Bathroom Readers in homes across the country. Good work, boys.