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review 2018-08-18 16:38
The examination of others that leads to the self
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is another title from the list of 100 books compiled for the Great American Read. (Have you voted today?) I feel somewhat chagrined that I had never heard of this classic until I checked out this list. The reader follows a nameless narrator who tells the story of his days in college while living in the South to his move to New York City. As this is set in 1930-40 the racial/social divide is still quite stark even in the North and the author doesn't pull any punches in that regard (i.e. expect violence). The beginning starts out with our narrator underground and in hiding although we have no idea why. In explanation, he weaves a story full of brutality, bigotry, backstabbing, and political machinations. He leaves college and goes to NYC where he is recruited into the Brotherhood which purports to strive for equality among all men regardless of race. Events unfold quickly and he fully believes and embraces the cause. The fomenting of racial riots are underway in Harlem (his district) and at this pivotal moment he is pulled out of his district and sent on another assignment downtown. The reader is kept on their toes and always wondering (as the narrator is) just which side is the "right" side and what is truly motivating the men he has come to trust in this (to him) foreign city. What is the "true" self and how does one embrace it? Invisible Man chews this question over while telling a story of one man coming to terms with the racism (both overt and covert) of society which is told so convincingly that you'll forget it's a work of fiction at times. This is a dense book and took me far longer to read than I expected. Several interesting points were made and quite a few powerful passages but overall it doesn't rate higher than a 6/10 for me.

 

A compelling and thought provoking point:

"For history records the patterns of men's lives, they say: Who slept with whom and with what results; who fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards. ...only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, these lies his keepers keep their power by." - pg 439

 

There are quite a few covers but I like this one best.[Source: National Book Foundation]

 

 

What's Up Next: Comics Squad: Recess! by Jennifer L. Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Dan Santat, & Raina Telgemeier

 

What I'm Currently Reading: ???

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-09-03 14:49
A happy accident
Heap House - Edward Carey

I came upon Edward Carey's Iremonger series by mistake. I don't mean that I stumbled across his books and didn't know what I was getting into…it was more that I had Mr. Carey mixed up with Edward GOREY. If you've seen their artwork at a glance then you might see how I came to make such a grievous error. I had seen some of Gorey's art a few years ago and made a note to grab some of his work…and then I was recommended this trilogy and thought I had finally got around to completing my goal. However, I think this was a happy accident because I really enjoyed this disturbing set of books. Firstly, I appreciate authors who do their own illustrations because they see their characters and worlds most clearly and they tend to feel like living things instead of one dimensional drawings. Heap House, Foulsham, and Lungdon make up the Iremonger trilogy and they chronicle the story of that clan of foul, loathsome dealers of filth, the Iremongers. In particular, these books detail the misadventures of Clod Iremonger and the irascible Lucy Pennant. Even though this sits on the shelves of the young adult section and are chock full of illustrations I must caution that no punches are pulled. All that is base and evil is dragged to the front and shown in shocking detail which is probably why I like it so much. There are no characters without flaws. However, this is not to say that this is told in a realistic fashion because if it was then I'd immediately fear for our very lives. The Heaps are made up of all the trash of that great offal generating city that goes by the name of London. The Iremongers are Regents of the refuse and under them are the residents of Forlinchingam (or Foulsham as it comes to be called). They are kept separate from London (Lungdon to some) by giant walls. You'd think this cruel enough but there's a terrible illness striking at the people. It's ridiculous. It's unsettling. It's…well I don't want to give the game away.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-08-23 23:12
Aspidistra sounds like the name of an alien
Keep the Aspidistra Flying - George Orwell

Since it's been awhile since I read a classic, I thought I'd give Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell a shot. It kept cropping up on my radar and the name alone had me quite intrigued. I went into this blind...even to the extent that I didn't look to see what the heck an Aspidistra was. (I know now though and saw it mentioned fleetingly in Harry Potter so it's definitely super British-y.) For someone who is a huge fan of 1984, this book fell pretty flat. The book follows a man by the name of Gordon Comstock who fancies himself a poet but in reality is little more than a poor bookshop assistant. Right off the bat, I felt that Gordon had 0% likability and his actions made no sense to me whatsoever. At one point, I decided to look up what other people thought of this book because it has a decent rating on Goodreads. Everyone seemed to think that this was a profound story about the struggle against commercialism and "the Man". What I see is the story of a man who is self-destructive, self-absorbed, and annoying. He is constantly picking apart everyone and everything around him in terms of its inherent value to society (there's a really long bit about advertising on different food products which was bizarre). Bottom line: this one wasn't a winner for me. I won't completely discount Mr. Orwell though. I'm sure I'll give him another shot in the future. :-) Also, I'm sorry that this is the second negative review in a row. Sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles. 1/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-04-15 18:29
Did you know that monks are different from friars?
The Painter of Souls: A Novel - Philip Kazan

The lovely people at Pegasus Books sent me the book that I'll be reviewing in today's post. :-)

Philip Kazan's The Painter of Souls is the fictionalized story of a real artist from the 15th century by the name of Fra' (as in Friar) Filippo Lippi. What is known about the friar is that he wasn't a particularly good friar but he was an excellent painter. Despite taking orders, he remained a street urchin at heart and therefore his priorities weren't always aligned with the church. A work of historical fiction should make the reader want to go out and learn more about the topic/person/time period. This book does that and so much more. Kazan took what little was known of the man and spun out a tale of someone who straddled the line between man of God and man of sensuality. The Painter of Souls is set in Florence, Italy and the majority of the narrative takes place inside the Carmelite convent or the streets among the destitute and lawless. I always enjoy books that transport me to places that I might not have much knowledge about (if any at all). After finishing this, I looked up some of the artwork of Lippi because it was that which inspired Kazan to dedicate a series (yes, this is a series) to the man. If you're an art lover or would like to learn more about what it was like to live in Italy during the 15th century then this book can fulfill all of your wishes. Also, if you're curious to know about what it was like to poop in 15th century Italy I highly recommend this book.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2014-05-23 20:14
Review: Aberrant (Aberrant #1) by Ruth Silver
Aberrant - Ruth Silver

What do you get when you combine Divergent with The Hunger Games and sprinkle in a little Captain America?

 
Aberrant.
 
The Oxford English Dictionary defines Aberrant as: adj. Departing from an accepted standard; Diverging from the normal type. I was quite surprised to find that this book fit that definition very well, to the point where it stood out among a genre that is overflowing with options to choose from and made itself different. We meet Olivia in the city of Genesis, a town that was set up as a breeding city after the 4th world war and a plague decimated most of the world and left the population unable to conceive naturally.
 
At least that's what they all think.
 
Enter Olivia Parker, 18 year old daughter of a widow, on her matching ceremony day. Nervous just like the rest of her class to find out who the government has chosen her to spend the rest of her life with within her own graduating lot. 18 years old and terrified of what's gong to happened, Olivia is matched with Joshua Warren, there are worse things than being paired with your best friend since the age of 5 so thins seem to be looking up, until she is arrested hours later by the governor and thrown in jail....
 
What for you may ask?
 
Olivia is the only person on the earth that can conceive. Her mother boar her and now everyone thinks that has been passed to her. The government wants her either dead or in one of their labs, but Joshua's mother helps them escape to a town outside of Genesis named Haven, a city part of the Rebel Alliance trying to rise up against government control. The feelings of relief and freedom soon evaporates when the plans of the Rebel Alliance are spelled out for Olivia, but what does this mean for her and her future? And what does it means for her feelings towards Joshua? Will they stay in Haven? Will the government find her? 
 
SO MANY QUESTIONS!!! I'm sorry but I'm not going to answer ANY of them because YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! I'm going to give you the main reason I feel this way. 
 
Main. Female. Lead. 
 
I loved Olivia. What I require for me to like a main character, strength, poise, a little vulnerability and resolve, she possess. I felt like she never wavered from what she thought was right and what she wanted. Yes, plans changed a number of times but although the grander scheme shifted almost from page to page, at the core of the story was one girl who might be special but really lead with her heart first and foremost and then with her head. It worked for me, she didn't just do things for a boy and she didn't turn her back on anyone for the greater cause, Olivia balanced out what was right and moral or what she felt was her duty with this new found freedom of doing things her way or what she wanted to do not what everyone else told her to do. That is BRILLIANT. A girl who can stand on her own two feet and still love someone in a natural and not-immediate manner? WE NEED MORE OF THIS IN LITERATURE. 
 
Olivia Parker sold the book for me, but I really did love the whole package. You get a clear picture of what world these characters are living in and that world is massive. Not only do you have government and rebels and gravelands (the nasty open deserts between cities) but you can see the clear distinction of environments as it changes. Taking great characters and putting them into a complete setting is not something that is easily found and this book has it! Add in all the unique things that you'll find scattered everywhere within the story and it made Aberrant one of my favorite books of the year, I CAN NOT WAIT for a sequel!!!

 

Originally Posted: http://thebookblogattheendoftheuniverse.blogspot.com/2013/06/review-blog-tour-giveaway-aberrant-by.html

Source: thebookblogattheendoftheuniverse.blogspot.com/2013/06/review-blog-tour-giveaway-aberrant-by.html
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