Book Review: Devotion by Dani Shapiro

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour promotion. Dani Shapiro is available and very enthusiastic about doing skype chats with book clubs. My rating for Devotion – 3 About: “Devotion” by Dani Shapiro (Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog) is a memoir about the authors mid-life crisis and search for spirituality. The book provided a fascinating read into the mind of a woman that, it seemed to me, couldn’t find inner calm if it slapped her in the face. Purchase “Devotion” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: In “Devotion” by Dani Shapiro, writes in an absorbing style about her upbringing in an orthodox Jewish household, which is divided, much like the author, between an observant father and a resentful mother. As most of us do, Ms. Shapiro rebelled, started drinking and took on an ill-advised lover in the form of a friend’s stepfather. Her life were altered when her parents were involved in a car crush, her father tragically lost his life, her mother broke 80 bones. Ms. Shapiro was harshly introduced to the fragility of life which seemingly became a quest for understanding…

Book Review: This Book Is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson
4 Stars , Non-Fiction / February 2, 2011

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour promotion. Harper has made available one (1) copy of “This Book is Overdue”  to be given to one lucky winner – enter at the end of the post. My rating for “This Book is Overdue” – 4 About: “This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All” by Marilyn Johnson (Website| Twitter)is a non-fiction account of the author’s research and pontifications of how librarians will guide our culture into technological literacy.  The book paints a picture of how the role of librarians is changing with technology. Get a discount on “This Book Is Overdue” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: Disclaimer: I am a big fan of public libraries. Public libraries are some of the few public buildings the public actually uses. Whether you are rich or poor, educated or not and no matter to which political party you donated to, you are always welcome at your local library – they are the great equalizer of our society. I loved what this book was trying to do – make librarians relevant at the age of…

Book Review: Little Princes by Conor Grennan
4 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs , Non-Fiction / January 25, 2011

I got this book for free. Article first published as Book Review: Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan on Blogcritics. Harper Collins has kindly made available to five (5) copies to be given out – Enter at the end of the post. My rating for Little Princes – 4 About: “Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal” by Conor Grennan (Website) is a memoir of the author’s time as a volunteer in an orphanage in Nepal.  Not only did Mr. Grennan volunteer, but he also went above and beyond to find the long lost families of these children who were never orphaned but used and manipulated by war profiteers. Get a discount on “Little Princes” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: “Little Princes” by Conor Grennan is the story of how one man can make a difference. Volunteering with young children without any experience, the author finds himself at Little Princes Children home in Nepal and quickly comes to think of the kids as family. The story of how the kids came to the orphanage…

Book Review: And The Show Went On by Alan Riding
4 Stars , Non-Fiction / January 14, 2011

I borrowed this book. My rating for And The Show Went On – 4 About: “And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris” by Alan Riding is a non-fiction book which tries to investigate the glimmering nightlife in an occupied city. Mr. Riding was the Paris bureau chief of the New York Times. Get a discount on “And The Show Went On” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: “And The Show Went “on by Alan Riding is a well researched, readable narrative of a big story within a big war. I must admit that when I first heard of this book, my initial reaction was “who cares” with an expressive shoulder shrug. However, the more I thought about it the more the subject seems to be intriguing. Early in World War II Germany invaded France, who after some brief resistance surrendered and installed a collaborative government known as the Vichy. The cultural world for which France was known had to respond and some strange dynamics were documented. As an entertainment enthusiast (not the TMZ style but there are several movies, more than you think, that I can run through…

Book Review: Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
4 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs , Non-Fiction / January 10, 2011

I bought this book. My rating for Cleopatra: A Life – 4 About: “Cleopatra: A Life” by Stacy Schiff (Website | Twitter | Facebook) is a Pulitzer winning biography of the famous Egyptian Queen. This is a well researched and dense book –it is not easy to read. Get a discount on “Cleopatra: A Life” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on: Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK Thoughts: In “Cleopatra: A Life” Stacy Schiff tries to reconstruct the biography of the of the most fascinating woman in history. History has remembered Cleopatra as a queen of great beauty who trapped in her tangled web to of the most powerful Romans in history. Ms. Schiff tells us right off the bat to hedge our bets and forget what we know. There are simply very little primary sources about this fascinating woman, much of it has been lost and the rest has been written by her enemies. It is a travesty of history that we know so little of the last Pharaoh of Egypt, who also happened to be one of the wealthiest women of all times (and certainly the wealthiest person on earth during her reign). It was disappointing…

Book Review: Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins
2 Stars , Fiction , Non-Fiction / December 24, 2010

I got this book for free My rating for Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas – 2 About: “Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas” by Ace Collins (Website) is a short book, divided into sections, each corresponding to a beloved Christmas song. The book is arranged alphabetically and includes lyrics to most of the songs. A perfect Christmas gift – Buy it here Thoughts: I was looking forward to read “Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas”, not only to get into the holiday spirit but also because I love this type of books since my childhood. These short stories filled with charming facts and little unknown tidbits were always fascinating to me. Not to mention a great resource in case I’ll be on “Jeopardy” one day. The premise of this book is quite interesting, that is telling the history of each carol or Christmas song. Mr. Collins is a good writer and makes the stories he writes about engaging and easy to read, but he lacks some serious research. The core fact of what the author is describing are woven with information which cannot be verified (such as putting thoughts in people’s heads) or is simply misleading…

Book Review: The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
3 Stars , Non-Fiction / December 10, 2010

I borrowed this book. My rating for The Mother Tongue – 3 About: “The Mother Toungue” by Bill Bryson is a book which I highly recommend to any bibliophile of trivia enthusiast (triviaphile?).  For any person who ever had to learn to idiosyncrasies of the language, this book will provide a fascinating overview of the strange rules and nuances of English.  If you think that learning English is not a big deal, try to define the word “what”. You think you know English? Buy this book to find out why you don’t Thoughts: Mr. Bryson had the advantage of being an American journalist in England, so he takes into account the American English and English English varieties and the differences (some subtle, some not-so-much) between them.  The first several chapters are a general introduction to English, how it has become the language we speak today and why it has been globally accepted. For obvious reasons these chapters move between what we know, what we think, and what we guess has happened over the course of several centuries. | The real meat of the book appears in the latter chapters where a large number of surprising facts appear (Shakespeare introduced 1,685…

Book Review: Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking by Michael C. Donaldson and Lisa A. Callif
Non-Fiction / December 3, 2010

I got this book for free. The publisher has been kind enough to make available two (2) copies for those who are interested. About: “The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking” by Michael C. Donaldson and Lisa A. Callif is a guide to help an individual sift through the mountains of legal forms in order to produce an independent film. The book includes a CD-ROM with the forms in MS-Word format. Thoughts: What am I doing reviewing a legal guide? When I was contacted by Laurén at MWPR | Entertainment Public Relations my first response was “thanks but no thanks“.  I said that I was not in the movie business and might possibly be able to review the book as a book – but I have no idea if the content of the guide is helpful or even accurate. Laurén said that it’s OK and sent me the book anyway.  That was just fine with me as I am interested in movies as well as find the law fascinating. After I read the book I gave it my friend Jonathan Mankuta (IMDB profile).  Jon has been a friend for many years, he is an actor (“Lost”, “Hollywood Treasure”)…

Book Review: The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford
5 Stars , Non-Fiction / November 29, 2010

I bought this book. My rating for The Secret History of the Mongol Queens – 5 About: “The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire” Jack Weatherford (website)  tells a gripping story of lost history and the role the female heirs of Genghis Khan played in his Empire. While the Great Kahn was out conquering the world, his wives and daughters managed his empire, created bureaucracies, public projects and kept trade relationships alive. Great gift for that Mongol in your life (or his queen) – Buy it here Thoughts: After reading Jack Weatherford’s “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World”  (book review) I went and pre-ordered this book – and I wasn’t disappointed. While busy conquering the world, Genghis Kahn had a problem, who would manage his empire? Who could he trust? In a stroke of genius, Genghis Kahn married his daughters to men who ruled strategic points along the famous Silk Road which not only lent him eyes and ears in those important locations, but also established his presence even though he wasn’t physically there. These daughters weren’t the timid kind; they were strong, independent women who inherited their…

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