Book Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
4 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / July 31, 2011

About: “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery is a fictional book set in Paris, France. The book discusses philosophy, culture, the class system and more – sometimes on account of a strong story. 336 pages Publisher: Europa Editions ISBN: 9781933372600 My rating for The Elegance of the Hedgehog – 4 Buy & Save on “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon | Kindle | Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: When I first started reading “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery (fan website) I didn’t know what to think of it. I have heard of this book but I have little tolerance to authors which consider themselves intellectuals and talk down to their readers. Luckily, this book was not such a book. It is the smart, funny and touching story of two narrators. Renée is a widowed concierge in her 50s, she is self conscious who thinks she will lead an easy life if the doesn’t let others know how smart she is. Paloma, the second narrator, is a 12 year old girl who lives in the building which Renée works in (and lives in as well). Paloma plans to…

Fun Facts Friday: Emily Brontë
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / July 29, 2011

Tomorrow, July 30 will be the birth date of Emily Brontë (30 July 1818 — 19 December 1848). While I’m not a big fan of the Brontë sisters, I certainly do appreciate their contributions to literature. 1) Emily Jane Brontë was the fifth child, or six children, born into the Brontë family. 2) Her mother died when she was two. 3) Emily went to a school for clergymen’s kids when she was six with her three older sisters. However the two oldest died due to the harsh conditions at the “school”. 4) Emily worked as a governess and a schoolteacher. 5) Emily and Charlotte went to Brussels, Belgium, I n 1842 to study school administration. 6) After Emily learned that Charlotte and Anne have also written poems, they published their first book called “Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell” (read for free). 7) The collected poems sold…two copies. 8 ) Emily’s “Wuthering Heights” was published in 1847, however did not find the instant success that Charlotte’s “Jane Eyre” (book review) did. 9) Emily died of tuberculosis a year after “Wuthering Heights” was published. 10) In 1850, “Wuthering Heights” was published in a second edition, this time however Charlotte wrote…

Author Q&A with Paul Seesequasis
Author Q&A , Latest Posts / July 28, 2011

The book “Tobacco Wars” (book review) was a strange one. I’ve had several questions about ti and Mr. Seesequasis was kind enough to answer them. Q. How much of the part about Pocahontas is based on actual events? A.Only a few ‘bare’ essentials – no pun intended. Pocahontas was married to John Rolfe, she did attend Ben Jonson’s masque in London, the King was in attendance beside her, she did get pregnant. The rest is fiction, somewhat stylized as a period romance but with a deliberately sparse narrative arc – one can barely imagine what she experienced in traveling to and encountering an ‘old’ world she previously knew nothing about. It must have been dream-like to her. In its essence her ‘discovery’ goes both ways and her historical reception as an ‘Indian princess’ laid the foundation for all the romanticization of her to come. Regardless of that fact, it was integral to me that she was never a ‘victim’, even becoming an entrepreneur exporting tobacco. Q. How much of the part about Mother Bear is based on Indian legends? A.Bear exists within many Native American legends and  myths. In writing these parts, which some readers are taken aback by, I…

Book Review: Tobacco Wars By Paul Seesequasis
3 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / July 27, 2011

About: “Tobacco Wars” by Paul Seesequasis is a fictional book which traverses two dimensions. One dimension is the faux history of Pocahontas in relation to the famous crop, the second dimension is told through Indian fairytales. 113 pages Publisher: Quattro Books ISBN-10: 1926802128 My rating for Tobacco Wars – 3 Buy & Save on “Tobacco Wars” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “Tobacco Wars” by Paul Seesequasis is a short novella which follows the imaginary adventures of Powhatan princess Pocahontas with English playwright Ben Johnson. The story unfolds in America and later in London and back in the new world. The other story follows the ancient Indian tale of the Mother Bear who gives birth to the world and moves into modern times. Pocahontas and Ben Johnson There were many adventures in the book, especially involving Pocahontas and Johnson, however, I’m not sure what the author was trying to convey in his story and the parallels between them. The parts with the Mother Bear were a bit vulgar, which is fine but it was a sharp disparity to the interesting story of Pocahontas – the contrast was really striking and maybe that…

Book Review: The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
3 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / July 26, 2011

About: “The Marvelous Land of Oz” by L. Frank Baum is the second story in set in the fictional land of Oz. The book however is not about Dorothy. My rating for The Marvelous Land of Oz – 3 Thoughts: “The Marvelous Land of Oz” by L. Frank Baum takes place after the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (book review) ends. The story follows a boy named Tip and, while I didn’t feel it was as good as its predecessor, is certain a worthwhile read just to get a glimpse into Baum’s imagination. The writing in this book seemed forced, while I liked the message that the Tin Woodsman (heart) and Scarecrow (brain) need one another to coexist, the main character was strange and the ending was freaky. Baum introduces some new characters: Jack Pumpkinhead, Mombi the witch among others which are very imaginative. I did find other aspects of the story interesting though, but not what Baum intended. The difference between 2011 and 1904 makes a great discussion with children and adults alike. For example, the women of Oz are happy at the men taking over the household duties because they are only truly happy at finally getting a chance…

Author Q&A with Colleen Morton Busch
Author Q&A , Latest Posts / July 25, 2011

Colleen Morton Busch wrote the non-fiction book “Fire Monks” (book review) which tells the amazing story of monks trying to save their sanctuary during the California wildfires wich ravaged the state. I’ve had some questions about the book, Zen and more which Ms. Busch was kind enough to answer. Q. What are the connections between Zen and firefighting disciplines? A. For both monks and firefighters, awareness is essential—staying present in difficult circumstances. Both learn to work closely with others, to rely on the mutual support of peers. Both often put the well-being of others before self. Q. How did Zen help the Tassajara Five face the flames? A. Zen cultivates composure—the ability to welcome whatever comes and to meet it completely and directly, without getting ensnared by ideas or emotions. During the fire, this meant that they could feel fear or anxiety but not let those emotions carry them away. It meant that they could just continue to respond to whatever needed doing because they weren’t stuck in expectations for how things “should” be or entertaining anxieties about what the next moment might bring. Q. Did you find the Tassajara Five willing to openly share their experience for the public?…

Book Review: Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
5 Stars , Latest Posts , Non-Fiction / July 24, 2011

About: “Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time” by Mark Adams is a non-fiction book in which the author follows the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III. 352 pages Publisher: Dutton Adult ISBN: 0525952241 My rating for Turn Right at Machu Picchu – 5 Buy & Save on “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: One hundred years ago today explorer Hiram Bingham III found Machu Picchu and brought his findings to the rest of the world. Mark Adams (website), who worked for adventure magazines, used his contacts to follow Bingham’s footsteps in the jungles of Peru. I love to read about places I’ve already visited, more often than not I wish I’ve read the book before I visited. When I saw the title of the book being offered by NetGalley I immediately asked permission to read it. I visited Machu Picchu in 1992, before there was a cap on visitors and the touristic part of the visit was not as oiled as it is today. We had to find our own guide, hired some mules on the way and hoped we…

Fun Facts Friday: Raymond Chandler
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / July 22, 2011

Tomorrow we are celebrating the birth of two important people who each changed the world in their own unique ways. One of these people is author Raymond Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959), creator of the detective Philip Marlowe. 1) Raymond Chandler born in Chicago but raised in England. 2) He worked as a freelance journalist for several newspapers after college. 3) Chandler served during World War I in the Royal Flying Corps. 4) After the war Chandler moved to California. 5) In California Chandler was the director of … independent oil companies. 6) Chandler started writing at age 45 because he lost his job during the depression. 7) The pulp magazine “Black Mask” was the first to publish his stories. 8 ) Chandler’s first novel, “The Big Sleep” was published in 1939. 9) In his lifetime, Chandler only seven novels, but also wrote several screenplays. 10) William Faulkner wrote the screen play for “The Big Sleep”, in which Humphrey Bogart played Philip Marlowe. Zohar – Man of la Book Related articles Morning Bites: Raymond Chandler’s birthday, Stealing books, Frank Lloyd Wright’s gas station, and more (vol1brooklyn.com) Philip Marlowe Collection Season 1-2 / Филип Марлоу Колекция Сезон 1-2…

Book Review: First Man by James R. Hansen

About: “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” by James R. Hansen is a biography of the famous astronaut. This book is especially remarkable due to Mr. Armstrong’s 35 years of trying to live his life away from fame. 784 pages Publisher: Simon & Schuster ISBN: 074325631X My rating for First Man – 5 Buy & Save on “First Man” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: A”First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” by James R. Hansen is an amazing book which if filled with technical detail as well as anecdotes about Neil Armstrong. Most of the excruciating detail could be better served as an appendix, but overall an interesting read, if you can get past the first 150 pages. I was always a big fan of the space program and especially fascinated by the moon landing. It simply boggles my mind that men actually walked on the moon. The space program as a whole is fascinating and exciting even though some see it as a given. Mr. Hansen had unprecedented access to Mr. Armstrong in this first authorized biography. The result is a comprehensive biography of Neil Armstrong as…

Book Review: Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
4 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / July 20, 2011

About: “Next to Love “by Ellen Feldman is a fictional book which follows three childhood friends before, during and after World War II. 304 pages Publisher: Spiegel & Grau ISBN: 0812992717 The pub­lisher has made avail­able one (1) copy of “Next to Love” to be given out– enter at the end of the post. My rating for Next to Love – 4 Buy & Save on “Next to Love” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: The first thing that struck me while looking at the book was the wonderful cover. However, the name of the book put me off but I decided to give it a shot anyway. I’m glad I did, “Next to Love “by Ellen Feldman (website) is a well written book which I enjoyed. The name of the book comes from an Eric Partridge quote “War…next to love, has most captured the world’s imagination“. The book takes place between 1941 and 1964, it follows three childhood friends from a small town in Massachusetts and their struggles. The book tells an important story of those who struggle with the aftermath of the war on daily basis for the rest of…

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