The Help – Movie 2011

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Yesterday I watched The Help, the movie adaptation of the book by the same name.  It was awesome!

For those of you who have never read the book, this is a story about a young lady named Skeeter who wants to become a writer, and the relationship she develops with a couple of maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era.  All of the women will be in grave danger if they are caught as they work on their writing project — sharing what it’s like to live as a black maid in the South during that time period.  If you want to know more about what I thought of the book, check out my book review.

My thoughts:

I was already a fan of the novel, so I was a bit nervous to see how they had translated it to the big screen.  I’m happy to say that the movie adaptation of the book was strong.  I think a large part of the movie’s success is in its amazing actresses.  Whether they are good or bad, all of the ladies played their parts really well.  Even Hilly, the bat-sh** craziest of the Southern belles, excited a certain fascination in me.  She’s one of those characters you love to hate.

The movie was shortened and simplified somewhat from the book, but that is nothing unexpected.  I don’t think the essence of the story was damaged in any way.  I was glad to see that they took out the scene in which Minny and Celia are accosted at Celia’s house.  I thought that it was out of place in the book, and it would have been even more mystifying in the movie.

The true artistry in this film is the message it shares.  Viewers are shown a story of love, acceptance, betrayal, and hatred–and asked to come to their own conclusions.  Who was right and who was wrong?  Can relationships based on respect, compassion and a desire to do what’s right, overcome the color barrier?  Should we take a risk in working with someone different from ourselves, even at the risk of getting burned?  This message needs to be heard today, just as it did during the Civil Rights era, because our country’s racial issues certainly haven’t gone away.

I recommend The Help to all adults and possibly some mature older teens.  Even if you’re not a history buff, it’s still a wonderful story worth watching.

Possible Objections:

  • A moderate amount of bad language
  • Racially offensive language

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER THE HELP POSTS:

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Circle of Light #1: Greyfax Grimwald by Niel Hancock

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Title: Circle of Light 1: Greyfax Grimwald by Niel Hancock

Notable: Book #1 in the Circle of Light series

Premise:

Dwarf, Bear and Otter cross over Calix Stay, the river which separates the World Before Time from Atlanton Earth.  Though initially unsure of the purpose of their quest, they meet some wizards and a few trustworthy humans who help keep them safe and guide them along their journey.  The three unassuming friends have a pivotal role to play in the fight against the Dark Queen, who seeks to gain control over all the earth.

My thoughts:

We’re going really retro here!  This is one of the books that came in my Books by the Foot sci-fi/fantasy box. It started out on shaky footing from the start, when it stated on the cover, “Beginning a great new saga for all who love THE LORD OF THE RINGS!”  The author was just setting himself up for some unflattering comparisons and critiques.  If the cover hadn’t mentioned The Lord of the Rings, I would have read this with a completely open mind.  As it was, I was too busy trying to compare the two.

Circle of Light is not even in the same league as The Lord of the Rings,  It’s like saying that Palmers and Ghiradelli chocolates taste the same.  Anyone with a modicum of good taste can tell the difference.  In addition to that, many elements of the story seem like a direct rip-off of The Lord of the Rings.  But let’s lay those issues aside and simply talk about the merits of this story.

The plot isn’t bad.  There are a few scenes which have the potential to be interesting and epic.  Unfortunately, the writing is such that even major battles come across as mundane and boring.  FYI–the story ends without any resolution, so you’ll have to read the next in the series to get to a satisfying stopping point.

I like the choice of animals as main characters.  Bear and Otter are probably the two most endearing characters.  Dwarf, the other main character, is a bit of an enigma.  He seems a bit off, as if there are two warring personalities at work within him.  If a character is going to exhibit behavior at both ends of the spectrum, there should be a good reason for it.  Please author, what is the character’s motivation for acting the way he does??  Let me bring up another issue–character names.  Holy cow, this story is chock full of names–multiple names for many characters.  It got to be very confusing and didn’t add to the story at all.

Overall, I was not impressed with this book.  The writing style and execution were subpar, the characters uninteresting, and the events rather boring.  If you’re young and just want a so-so fantasy adventure to read, you might not mind Greyfax Grimwald.  If you have a more sophisticated palate when it comes to your fantasy novels, I’d say skip it.

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence
  • The a-word is used a few times (as in someone is being a dunce)

Rating: 2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders

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A special thank-you to Macmillan and Goodreads for providing an ARC for me to review!

Title: Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders

Premise:

The focus of this book is to share Bernie Sanders’ views on the major political issues of the day and the ways he would address them.  He seeks to inform readers about the broken policies and practices in the areas of a livable wage, taxes, Wall Street, health care, higher education, immigration, climate change, and policing and criminal justice.

My thoughts:

I think that this book accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: share Bernie’s political views and solutions with a younger generation.  The text and explanations are clear and concise, breaking down the issues into language which most young people would understand.  If you’re older or looking for a particularly in-depth analysis and explanations, you’ll be disappointed, but remember that’s not the aim of this book.

I had heard Bernie’s views leading up to the election of course, but this is a quick and easy way to learn about his political views.  The problems he talks about in each area are enlightening and it’s good to be informed about the problems our country is facing and why.  Quite frankly, I got angry and/or depressed after reading each chapter.  There is so much injustice in this country, especially being perpetuated by corrupt big business and political powers.  The rich really do have a racket going on in this country and the little people are at a major disadvantage in righting those wrongs.  So, I wouldn’t recommend reading this right before bed because you’ll probably get angry and sit there fuming in bed while you should be sleeping.

I think Bernie’s aim is not to get people depressed and feeling helpless, but to encourage them (especially young people) to get involved in politics.  While it may seem overwhelming because there are so many areas of corruption, we can each choose one area that we feel strongly about and focus our energies and efforts there.  One person cannot do everything, but each one of us can do something.  A lot of little people working to make change will add up to large changes in our society and political system.  I think Bernie Sanders is a politician with heart who keeps the well-being of everyday people in mind.  That’s a rare thing today.

I recommend Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution to young people who would like to learn more about the major political issues of the day, and see how Sanders would address those issues.  It’s also appropriate for adults who are looking for a basic, concise book about Sanders’ views.

A favorite quote:

“I believe that the government has a moral responsibility to provide for the vulnerable–the children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled.  But I do not believe that the government should burden taxpayers with financially supporting profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country.  That’s absurd.”  (p. 10)

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks

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Title: Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (#1) by Terrance Dicks

Premise:

The Doctor and Jo Grant find themselves caught up in an assassination attempt when men from the future come back in time to kill Sir Reginald Styles.  The earth’s future is destined for domination and ruination by the Daleks, and the guerrilla group hopes to stop that from every happening.  Can The Doctor set earth back on its proper course of history before it’s too late?

My thoughts:

I found this book and most of the rest of my Doctor Who collection one day while browsing at Goodwill.  Apparently somebody had offloaded a whole Doctor Who collection at the thrift store.  I was over the moon!  There were several of these early Doctor who novelizations, but I just now got to reading one of them.  So many books, so little time…

Now, let’s be real here.  Anything featuring Doctor Who automatically has a soft spot in my heart.  That doesn’t mean that I would read drivel if it had The Doctor’s name on it, but it does give me warm fuzzies just seeing his name.  When I picked up this book I thought that it might be one of those sloppily produced fan fiction books.  I was very pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that the story was very well written.  It’s not that the plot is amazingly complex (it follows the typical action sequence of a Doctor Who episode), but the writing itself was really well executed.  That was refreshing and gratifying.  Thank you, Mr. Dicks, for your writing talents.

This story features a dystopian future earth, which is always a fun concept to explore.  In this case, it is the Daleks who have taken advantage of the earth’s misfortunes and exploited it for its resources.  Their flunkies, the Ogrons, are an impressive, if intellectually uninteresting species.  They’re the ultimate henchmen, really.

There is one issue with the book, which I could probably figure out if I did some research on the evolution of the Doctor Who story.  In the beginning of the book it is stated that The Doctor stole the Tardis from the Time Lords because he was no longer content to sit around and watch injustice played out across the galaxy.  Apparently when this book was written the story was that the Time Lords were still alive and that The Doctor was a sort of renegade Time Lord.  We know that later in the series the story changes to the annihilation of the Time Lords in the Time Wars with the Daleks.  In that version The Doctor is an unwitting survivor who no longer has a home or people to call his own.  That’s quite a difference in story and I’ll have to figure out when it changed, but right now I need to go take a shower.  😉

Update: I have since figured out the explanation for the change in story and it all worked itself out.  🙂

I recommend Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks to all of you Doctor Who fans out there.  If you’re a fan, I’d say that these classic novelizations are a must-read.  If you’re not a fan, you probably won’t see the merit in this book.


Possible Objections:

  • Some violence

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Notable: Book #4 in the Twilight series

Premise:

Edward and Bella are finally married and jet off to Rio de Janeiro to spend a lovely honeymoon together.  Though they didn’t know it was even possible, Bella becomes pregnant.  The entire Cullen family must figure out how to keep both Bella and the baby safe during the pregnancy and delivery, and how to protect the child from the meddling Volturi.

My thoughts:

This is the final book in the Twilight series.  While I raced through the three previous books, this one I took my time with.  I didn’t really want to get to the end.

When compared to the three previous books, I believe that this book demonstrates a notable step up in the maturity factor.  No longer are readers subject to long scenes in which Bella and Edward look for novel ways of stating that they can’t live without one another.  Thank goodness for that!

I enjoyed the story line of this book and to me it felt like it jumped into the complexity of an intricate soap opera.  You have all of these characters with complicated relationships, loyalties, and motivations.  They are all thrown together to defend their families, friends and way of life, and it makes for some socially tangled interactions.  That’s something which most ladies love to imagine!  Many of the characters are challenged in the way they view other “monsters”, and it’s nice to see them overcome their prejudices.

One of the aspects which I most enjoyed was getting to meet all of the vampire allies and to get a feel for what their strengths were.  It’s nice to see some new characters who are not antagonistic, and to witness their interactions with the Cullens.

Finally, I like how Meyer wrapped things up within the story.  Bella becomes a vampire and does a great job adjusting.  Charlie is brought into the secret only as much as is necessary to ensure he can still be a part of Bella’s life.  Jacob gets his happy ending.  And independent vampires and other paranormals score a win in their desire to be free of the repressive rule of the Volturi.  What more could you ask for?  It’s happily ever after for all of our favorite characters.

I recommend Breaking Dawn to all the ladies out there who enjoy a good romantic story with a bit of danger thrown in.  I think it’s best suited to teens and up, as things get a bit violent, especially the farther you progress in the series.


Possible Objections:

  • Violence & some gore
  • Sensuality
  • One use of the d-word

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

 

OTHER TWILIGHT POSTS:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Notable: Book #2 in the Twilight series

Premise:

Edward has left Bella, thinking that she will be safe if he isn’t a part of her life.  Bella just can’t cope without him though, until Jacob Black brings some sunshine back into her life.  Just when life is starting to settle into a new normal, all heck breaks loose.  The vampire Victoria seeks revenge for the killing of her mate, hikers go missing in the woods, some kind of giant animals are on the prowl, and Jacob is avoiding Bella.

My thoughts:

Once I get reading these books, I can’t put them down!  This one took me about a day and a half to read.

I like this book even more than the first one!  I think it’s because Bella and Jacob’s interactions are much more down-to-earth and comfortably familiar than when she interacts with Edward.  Her relationship with Jacob is based on friendship and that’s simply more satisfying to read about.

I was also fascinated with the werewolf culture and getting to know those characters better.  Jacob Black is, of course, a wonderful and likeable character, but he’s backed up by others at La Push whom I’d like to know more about, as well.

The part where Bella and Alice go after Edward is…different.  It almost seems like a different story altogether because the vampires are so very absent from most of the rest of the book.  I think their reunion is a bit unbelievable; Bella just a little too needy and ready to forgive.  If I were in her shoes I’d be stinking angry.  I like the bit about her powers though, especially since I know how that will play out in a later book.

The way that things end with Bella and Jacob is very sad, but since I already know the story line, I’m not too heartbroken.  It just seems like poor Jake gets the short end of the stick.  He did what was right and was a faithful friend and in the end he gets slighted.

A favorite quote: “I was like a lost moon–my planet destroyed in some cataclysmic, disaster-movie scenario of desolation–that continued, nevertheless, to circle in a tight little orbit around the empty space left behind, ignoring the laws of gravity.”  (p. 201)
W
I recommend New Moon to all the ladies out there who enjoy a good romantic story with a bit of danger thrown in.  I think it’s best suited to teens and up, as things get a bit violent, especially the farther you progress in the series.

Possible Objections:

  • Violence

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

 

OTHER TWILIGHT POSTS:

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Notable: Book #1 in the Twilight series

Premise:

When her mother remarries, Bella Swan moves back in with her dad in the tiny, morose town of Forks, Washington.  She thinks life there will be dull until she meets the enigmatic and gorgeous Edward Cullen.  He fascinates Bella and she can’t help but try to unravel the mystery surrounding him.  To her great astonishment, she finds that he is equally intrigued by her.  But will their irresistible attraction end in heartache or joy?

My thoughts:

I had already read this book several years ago.  I was absolutely engrossed by it back then, and it still keeps me riveted today.  Even when I knew what was going to happen, I was still on the edge of my seat.  I guess that’s the sign of a good story!

I don’t know how Meyer did it, but she concocted a thoroughly engrossing and satisfying love story with Edward and Bella.  I think it might have something to do with the forbidden nature of their relationship, and the way that they ease into each new step very slowly.  The romantic build-up is quite slow and of course that’s like sweet torture for the reader.

Meyer’s writing style is really to my taste, as well.  Just like J.K. Rowling kept her Harry Potter stories going along at a nicely measured pace, Meyer does the same.  You’re propelled quickly through the story without it feeling like any kind of burden or work on your part.  I’ll confess that this series is one of my favorite contemporary romance stories.

I only have a couple of criticisms.  The first one is really related to my own stage of life right now.  Since I’m older and well past my teenage ideas of all-consuming love, that aspect of the story is a little annoying to me.  I’m more into the idea of steady love which is based on friendship, respect and trust.  I’m sure most preteens and teens swoon over the I’ll-die-without-you love sentiments contained in Twilight, though.  My second criticism is that towards the end of the book (and throughout the rest of the series) Edward and Bella get a bit annoying in their dialogue.  You can only read, “I can’t live without you” and similar sentiments so many times before your mind rebels.  You want to shout at them to grow up a bit and say something more original or have a normal conversation.  Even with those couple of criticisms though, I love the story.

I recommend Twilight to all the ladies out there who enjoy a good romantic story with a bit of danger thrown in.  I think it’s best suited to teens and up, as things get a bit violent, especially the farther you progress in the series.

Possible Objections:

  • Violence

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER TWILIGHT POSTS:

 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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Title: The Phantom of the Operaby Gaston Leroux

Premise:

The Paris Opera House is haunted by a phantom who seems to hold sway over all that happens there.  Unfortunately, the Opera Ghost becomes enamored of a young lady named Christine, who falls under the spell of the phantom — her “Angel of Music.”  Will Raoul, her true love, be able to save her from the phantom’s spell before tragedy strikes?

My thoughts:

I was already familiar with this story from having seen the movie, so reading this book was not an entirely new revelation to me.  Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and worth my while.

The whole love triangle between Christine, Raoul and Erik is very intriguing.  These poor young lovers have to defend themselves against this seemingly omnipotent villain who will do anything to procure the lady he’s obsessed with.  I was struck with just how much genius Erik was blessed with.  Was there anything this man couldn’t do?  Any skills he didn’t have?  He seemed superhuman to me, and perhaps that was the author’s intention.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here and tell you that I wasn’t as impressed with Christine’s character as I thought I’d be.  She was a little too wishy-washy for my taste, never seeming to know what she wanted. While the author tried to explain her shifts in mood and intentions, it seemed like perhaps our heroine was a trifle simple-minded.  This was a girl who needed to get out of that darn Opera House, have a stroll around town, and start to think for herself.  A lesson to all the young ladies out there: Never let a man have control over your mind.  Ahem, back to the book.

The storytelling doesn’t flow quite as seamlessly as I expected, but that could be in part because of the translation from French.  Also, it seemed like there was a lot extraneous information contained in the book.  I think that I prefer the way that the movie took away some of those bits that didn’t seem to add anything to the narrative (to my mind).

I was really captivated with the description of the Paris Opera House, and after I finished the book I sought out a little more information about it.  Just let me say that it is a fascinating building and well worth studying.  The pictures alone will blow your mind!

I recommend The Phantom of the Opera to those who enjoy a good Gothic novel or to fans of classic literature.  I don’t think that it would greatly appeal to the average reader.

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA POSTS:

August Unhaul & Giveaway — CLOSED

My Bookshelf Giveaways:

*Read my reviews by clicking on the titles above.

Enter by clicking on the links following each title.  The giveaways are open internationally to participants 18 years and older and will end on August 31, 2017.  Winners will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text)

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Title: Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text) by Charlotte Brontë

Premise:

Jane Eyre has lived a largely loveless and harsh life, first under her aunt’s roof and later at the infamous Lowood School.  When Jane becomes a young adult she ventures forth from her stifled existence, ready for the next chapter in her life.  When she arrives at Thornfield Hall as the new governess, however, she has no idea the pleasures and pain that lie in store for her.

My thoughts:

I wanted to share just a quick note on this book.  It’s a graphic novel which is totally awesome, not only for younger readers, but also for Jane Eyre aficionados.  There is a whole series of these graphic novels based on classic literature, and I will definitely be reviewing more of them in the future.  Also of note, each title comes in at least three different text formats: Original Text, Plain Text, and Quick Text.  These come in handy for different reading levels, making the story accessible to people of all ages.

On to the story!  The story line was followed quite faithfully in the graphic novel version (with only a few minor changes), and this being the Original Text version, the dialogue was also quite faithful.  It’s fun to see the artists’ imagining of how the story looks.  Seeing their imagined facial expressions and the characters’ mannerisms, along with the dialogue, is just another fun way to explore the story of Jane Eyre.  I really enjoyed it!

The illustrations are nice, though for some reason they remind me of 1970’s illustrations.  Don’t ask me why.  Also, the book is divided into chapters, so that provides some good stopping points along the way and keeps the reading manageable for those who want to digest it in stages.

I recommend Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel to young readers who want an easier introduction to the story, as well as to Jane Eyre fans.  It’s a fun way to explore a wonderful classical story.

 

Possible Objections:

  • some violence

 

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Jane Eyre - Graphic Novel - Original Text 2.jpg

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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Title: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Premise:

Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan is tired of the same old life in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi.  She dreams of becoming a writer, but her only contact at the publishing company challenges her to write about something she cares about and submit it, before she will be considered for a job.  Skeeter decides she wants to explore what it’s like to live as a black maid in the South, and seeks maids to help her complete the project, but it’s very risky.  Will she ever get enough women to agree to be interviewed to complete the book? (This is a very abbreviated version of what the novel is about.  I didn’t want to ruin the plot line for you!)

My thoughts:

I picked this book up at Wal-mart some time ago, and just now got to reading it.  Once I started reading though, I could hardly put it down!  The story was engrossing and I enjoyed getting to know the characters, though some were not so nice.  I also appreciated that it was set in a particular historical period (the Civil Rights era) and alluded to those events and that cultural environment.

Aibileen was my favorite character because of her sweet spirit and determination to overcome life’s obstacles.  She was wise and patient, insightful and nurturing.  Minny was really fun to read about, too.  Her spunk and blunt honesty were refreshing.  I also liked Skeeter, who decided to buck tradition and think for herself.  She stuck with her convictions, even when they made her unpopular and the going got tough.

I do wish we could have seen a little more development with some of the characters.  I feel like Celia could have undergone a metamorphosis, and Skeeter would have been better served having had a grand epiphany, but I’m not the author.  Though I had hoped for just a smidge more from the characters, I enjoyed seeing their progression in their thinking, relationships with one another, and their commitment to their mutual project.

Once criticism that I’ve heard about this book is that it’s impossible for the author to truly know what it was like to be a black maid in the South during that era.  (The author is white, relatively young, and not poor.)  I knew that going into the book, so I wasn’t expecting this to be a historically accurate novel in terms of character portrayal.  I think  the author did a fair job of imagining what it would be like to be a black maid during that time, and really, that’s the most we can ask of her.  So just take her portrayals with a grain of salt and don’t get bent out of shape if it’s not 100% accurate.  This issue didn’t really bother me at all, but I know that it’s a hang-up for others.

There is one thing about the book which did bother me, though.  There’s a scene where Minny and Celia are accosted by another character, in a very objectionable and yucky way, and to me, it felt very out of character with the rest of the book.  I understand how it helped the plot progress by putting the characters in the situation they were in, but I feel like the same plot progression could have been achieved in a less disgusting way.  Notice I’m not giving too many details, but if you’ve read the book, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s really not something I can discuss in polite company.

There’s another thing that happens in the novel which I don’t think is very realistic.  When Minny makes the pie for Miss Hilly, I don’t believe she would have done it as portrayed in the story.  It doesn’t jive with her character, plus people just don’t want to dabble with that stuff anyway.  Again, read the book and you’ll know what I’m referring to.

I recommend The Help to adults who enjoy period novels, particularly ones that take place during the Civil Rights era (with the caveat that there are two parts that you will probably dislike).  Though this is a fictitious account, the time period during which it takes place gives it an interesting cultural context, and helps us feel a little more about what it may have felt like to live in the South during that time.

A favorite quote:

“The next few weeks is real important for Mae Mobley.  You think on it, you probably don’t remember the first time you went to the bathroom in the toilet bowl stead of a diaper.  Probably don’t give no credit to who taught you, neither.  Never had a single baby I raise come up to me and say, Aibileen, why I sure do thank you for showing me how to go in the pot.”  (p. 126)

Possible Objections:

  • outdated and offensive racial language
  • some sexual stuff (one scene in particular is offensive)
  • some violence

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Permission to Mourn by Tom Zuba

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Title: Permission to Mourn: A New Way to Do Grief by Tom Zuba

Premise:

Tom Zuba experienced the loss of three of his family members, which caused him to seek out a new way to process his grief.  This book is full of Tom’s feelings and observations about his own grief, and a healthier way for anybody to work through their grief.  It’s told in free-flow poetic form and is relatively short.

My thoughts:

I’m on the lookout for a good book on grief that I can recommend to people.  We now live in a place where the crime rate is high, and I know that we’ll be going to more funerals.  Just a fact of life.  Usually I give people a copy of A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, but I wanted to find at least a couple of alternatives.

Tom Zuba has experienced some horrific loss in his life, and I can’t even imagine how that grief threatened to bury him.  I appreciate his open and honest observations about his grief and how he has and continues to work through it.  Many of the feelings he shared resonated with how I felt and still feel about my sister’s death.  It made me cry, but it’s good to cry every now and again to release some of those feelings.

I don’t really agree with Tom’s ideas about what happen to a person after they die, but I’m okay reading the book just to feel like I’ve met and talked to a fellow comrade in the grief journey.  Some people would probably be upset with his ideas though, so I thought I should lay them out.  He believes that we all go to heaven and that you can communicate with your deceased loved one through signs (i.e. a butterfly landing on your hand is your loved one communicating with you from beyond the grave, etc.), and that you should actively seek out and ask for such signs.  For me the question was: Can I read a book by someone who has some profound observations on grief, but whose life views may not match up with my own?  I thought it was worth the read.

I recommend Permission to Mourn to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, whatever stage of the journey you find yourself in right now.  Even if you don’t fully identify with Tom’s beliefs, his emotions are the same as they would be for anyone else.

A favorite quote:

“Grief is not the enemy.

Grief is the teacher.

The powerful

blessed

gift-from-God teacher.

But you must be brave enough to enter the pit.

By feeling your feelings.”  (p. 54-55)

Possible Objections:

  • different worldview than your own about what happens after death

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Wizard’s First Rule Book Giveaway — CLOSED

My Bookshelf Giveaway: Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Read my review here

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open internationally to participants 18 years and older and will end on July 31, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas by Pénélope Bagieu

California Dreamin'.jpg

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A special thank-you to :01 First Second and Goodreads for providing me with an ARC to review!

Title: California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas by Pénélope Bagieu

Premise:

Explore Ellen Cohen’s (Cass Elliot’s) artistic development before she became a part of The Mamas & the Papas.  Cass’s larger than life personality and talent take her to some very interesting places, but it isn’t until she joins with her now famous bandmates that she truly experiences the fame she’s been seeking since she was a child.

My thoughts:

The format of this book is very interesting.  It’s an adult graphic novel, not in the sense that it’s full of garbage, but because it’s an adult-oriented story.  Through Bagieu’s whimsical illustrations, we follow Cass from her early years growing up in a Jewish home in Baltimore, when she dreams of someday becoming a superstar.  At a young age Cass decides to leave home and strike out on her own to see if she can make a go of her dream in New York City.

This takes her to some interesting places and she encounters a lot of unique characters.  Though Cass performs with several different groups, she doesn’t get a big break until she hooks up with her final bandmates — Denny Doherty, and John and Michelle Phillips.  Unfortunately, their success was not to be long-lived because of in-fighting, jealousy, and a weird love triangle sort of thing.  Really, it was rather tragic that a group that had such a unique and cohesive sound should implode quite so spectacularly.

But really, the focus of this book is on Mama Cass and her journey to stardom, along with the final painful moments when her dreams seemed to have fallen completely apart.  Though the book necessarily left out a lot of details because of its format, I think it was successful in conveying Cass’s personality, her hopes and dreams, and who she really was as a person.  This was a really nice book for letting readers get to know Cass a little better and more fully appreciate her life.

I recommend California Dreamin’ to adult fans of The Mamas & The Papas.  It’s fun to look at the early years of Cass’s development, but because of the language and drug use, I can’t recommend it to younger readers.

Possible Objections:

  • lots of bad language
  • a bit of cartoon nudity (fairly tame)
  • some drug use
  • a couple of homophobic slurs

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Wild Beautiful Places: Picture-Perfect Journeys Around the Globe from National Geographic

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When I spotted Wild Beautiful Places at the library, I had to get it.  Anything by National Geographic is almost certain to be stunning!

Premise:

Readers get to see some of the natural beauty all over the globe through amazing photography, with a section devoted to each continent.  Also, there is a short explanation of each of the places visited, as well as a few travel tips for those who want to visit the locale.

My thoughts:

My favorite part of the book is, of course, the photography.  I’m a sucker for a good coffee table book–one which features amazing photos.  This book doesn’t disappoint in that respect at all!  The photos focus mainly on landscape, with a few photos of animals and people thrown in, too.  Many of the places I had never heard of, so it was nice to see something different.  There were a good number of National Parks featured, and not just in the United States.

I don’t think that I’ll ever travel to any of the featured places (Traveling internationally with a family of seven is completely out of the question!), but it’s a nice thought to include travel tips for those who might want to visit for themselves.

I recommend Wild Beautiful Places to anybody who enjoys a good photography book.  It’s appropriate for all ages and would make an excellent coffee table book.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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