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review 2017-10-13 16:17
The Diary of a Young Girl / Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl - B.M. Mooyaart,Eleanor Roosevelt,Anne Frank

I finally got around to reading this heart-warming and heart-wrenching document.  I attempted it as a much younger person and didn’t get very far, perhaps because I was a teenager myself with my own angst to deal with. 

 

There’s no doubt that Anne was right about her own writing abilities.  If she had lived, I think she definitely had a chance to become a significant author.  She could have edited her own diaries to begin with and perhaps written more about the Jewish experience during WWII.

 

I think her father (the only surviving member of those concealed in the Annex) was a brave man to allow her journals to be published.  He and his wife do not always come out of them looking good.  However, we, as readers, are continually reminded that the people confined in this small space are bound to clash with one another repeatedly.  Imagine having no space to truly call your own, having to share cooking & food supplies, not having easy access to a toilet and not being able to flush during certain hours, and having to be quiet during the workday so as not to alert the employees working below them!  Prisoners in jails have better living conditions!

 

I am also impressed by the courageous Dutch folk who hid their Jewish friends and kept them supplied with the necessities of life for so long.  That’s a big commitment and they fulfilled it for two years with very few glitches (health problems for all of them sometimes made for erratic food delivery).  How many of us would have the fortitude and the bravery to attempt such a feat?

 

The saddest part of the book was definitely the afterword—Anne’s last entry is absolutely ordinary (in an extraordinary circumstance) and then they are betrayed and sent to concentration camps.  They had lasted so long and the end of the war was just a year away (although they had no way to know that).  I was left with the melancholy question of what might have been.

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review 2017-10-10 18:58
Northanger Abbey / Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen,Elizabeth Hardwick

'To look almost pretty, is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive'

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naïve Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine's love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father's mysterious house, Northanger Abbey. There, her imagination influenced by novels of sensation and intrigue, Catherine imagines terrible crimes committed by General Tilney. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, this is the most youthful and and optimistic of Jane Austen's works.

 

I chose this novel to fill the “Gothic” square of my 2017 Halloween Book Bingo.

In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen turns the gothic novel inside out, having some fun with all of its parts. Catherine Morland, our main character, is not a stereotypical gothic heroine—she isn’t tremendously beautiful, she isn’t sophisticated or educated, and she’s not even too bright! But she does read gothic romances, like The Mysteries of Udolpho to use as a guide for her behaviour. Unfortunately for her, her frenemy Isabella turns out to be a gold-digger, her visit to Northanger Abbey produces no murders nor secret passages, and there turn out to be no impediments between her and the man of her choice. The most ungothic of gothic romances!

I do have to wonder a bit about Henry, who is obviously intelligent and amusing, if only Catherine had the wits to understand him! I’m afraid he will be singularly bored, unless she can be enlivened a bit.

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review 2017-09-25 18:10
I Heard the Owl Call My Name / Margaret Craven
I Heard the Owl Call My Name - Margaret Craven

In a world that knows too well the anguish inherent in the clash of old ways and new lifestyles, Margaret Craven's classic and timeless story of a young man's journey into the Pacific Northwest is as relevant today as ever.

Here amid the grandeur of British Columbia stands the village of Kingcome, a place of salmon runs and ancient totems - a village so steeped in time that, according to Kwakiutl legend, it was founded by two brothers left on earth after the great flood. Yet in this Eden of such natural beauty and richness, the old culture of totems and potlaches is under attack - slowly being replaced by a new culture of prefab houses and alcoholism. Into this world, where an entire generation of young people has become disenchanted and alienated from their heritage, Craven introduces Mark Brian, a young vicar sent to the small isolated parish by his church.

This is Mark's journey of discovery - a journey that will teach him about life, death, and the transforming power of love. It is a journey that will resonate in the mind of readers long after the book is done.

 

This was a re-read for me, but it might as well have been my first time, I remembered so little. Mind you, I think I was in my teens when I read it the first time. My only memory of it was a feeling of melancholy.

The young vicar, Mark, is sent to the Kwakiutl village of Kingcome by his bishop, who knows Mark has a terminal illness, but chooses not to tell him. In our 21st century culture of consent, this just wouldn’t happen anymore. No doctor worth his or her salt would let a patient out of the office without informing him of the diagnosis.

It struck me during my reading how residential schools are mentioned matter-of-factly. How the clash of cultures becomes intense as the children come home for Christmas. The pain of the parents as their children are pulled towards the outside world and away from the old ways. The enticing lure of education and modernity for the children.

Although Mark is nominally in the village to minister to the community, it is he who receives the majority of the spiritual benefits. In his tenure in Kingcome, he learns more of friendship and community than he ever anticipated—and this is why his bishop sent him there. I shed a few tears at the end and found that my only memory of melancholy was wholly accurate.

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url 2016-08-21 16:13
I Promised Not to Tell - Raising a transgender child
I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a transgender child - Cheryl B. Evans

A must read for a parent, relative or friend of a gender questioning or transgender person. I Promised Not to Tell is a deeply personal and emotional parenting memoir told by the mother of a transgender child. This book will benefit anyone who would like to learn more about transgenderism. Honest, moving and well written, you will not be disappointed!

"I Promised Not to Tell is quite possibly one of the most important books to date on a very controversial and little understood social issue: transgenderism. If you are facing such a situation with your child, I urge you to read this book. Both you and your child need what Cheryl has so kindly shared with readers and parents. And when you do, I’m sure you will come away impressed not just by the courage shown by Jordan in this book, but by the love Cheryl and her husband have for their children and their compassion for all people. I loved I Promised Not to Tell. Couldn't put it down. Highly recommended reading." ~ Viga Boland - for Readers Favorite - 5 Stars!

Together, Mom and her husband raised their children telling them: "You can be anything and do anything you want in life." They just never expected that what their youngest daughter would desire most in the world, was to be a boy.

What is unique about this story is that it follows one transgender child from birth through age eighteen. You get a real sense of what this family went through. Their son's desperate effort to comply to societal gender norms, a suicide attempt, a family members struggle with God and transgerderism, a heart breaking death and much more. Every step of their son's transition from female to male (FTM) is discussed in detail, including hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgeries. This book shares it all in the hopes of making a difference in what seems like a harsh and cruel world for transgender people.

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review 2015-11-16 00:50
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Great Books
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Great Books - Grant L. Voth

 



Description: Hamlet. Moby-Dick. War and Peace. Ulysses. These are just four of what are considered the "Great Books"—works of literature that have been singled out as essential parts of a well-read individual's reading list. The only problem: The "Great Books" can be daunting, intimidating, and oftentimes nearly impossible to get through.

The truth of the matter is that there is so much more to literature than these giants of the Western canon. In fact, you can get the same pleasures, satisfactions, and insights from books that have yet to be considered "great." Books that are shorter, more accessible, and less dependent on classical references and difficult language. Books that, in the opinion of popular Great Courses Professor Grant L. Voth of Monterey Peninsula College, "allow you to connect with them without quite so many layers of resistance to work through."

When you take this skeptical approach to the "Great Books," you open yourself up to works that are just as engaging, just as enjoyable, and—most important—just as insightful about great human themes and ideas as anything you'd encounter on a college-level reading list. Professor Voth's course, The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books, is your opportunity to discover new literary adventures that make worthy substitutes to works from the Western literary canon. In these 12 highly rewarding lectures, you'll get an introduction to 12 works that redefine what great literature is and how it can reveal startling truths about life—all without being such a chore to read.


Lecture 1: Dead Souls
Lecture 2: Down and Out in Paris and London
Lecture 3: The House on Mango Street
Lecture 4: All The King's Men
Lecture 5: Angels in American
Lecture 6: Slouching Towards Bethleham
Lecture 7: The Master and Margerita
Lecture 8: The Book Thief
Lecture 9: Death of an Expert Witness
Lecture 10: The Spy Who Came in From The Cold
Lecture 11: Watchmen
Lecture 12: Life of Pi




NONFIC NOVEMBER 2015:

CR White Mughals
5* A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts
3* Rome and the Barbarians
4* Field Notes From A Hidden City
3* The King's Jews: Money, Massacre and Exodus in Medieval England
5* A History of Palestine 634-1099
3* Charlotte Brontë: A Life
3* The Alhambra
5* A Long Walk in the Himalaya: A Trek from the Ganges to Kashmir
3* Buddhist Warfare
4* A Gathering of Spoons
AB A Brief History of Roman Britain - Conquest and Civilization
4* Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination, 1830-1880
3* Food Safari
4* She-Wolves
3* India: A Portrait
2* The Archaeology of Ancient Sicily
5* Classics of Russian Literature
CR The Battle of Salamis
4* The Age of Wonder
5* Lost Worlds of South Americas
3* Wind and Sand
2* Skeptics Guide to the Great Books
3* The Invention of France
3* Balthus
CR Every Time a Friend Succeeds
CR Unfaithful Music and Disapearing Ink




TTC:

4* History of Science 1700 - 1900
5* A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts
TR Secrets of Sleep
TR Turning Points in Modern History
TR Apocalypse
4* Myth in Human History
3* A History of Russia
TR The Classics
5* London
4* Re-thinking Our Past
4* The Vikings
5* Lost Worlds of South America
3* Rome and the Barbarians
TR Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
OH History of Science: Antiquity to 1700
TR Albert Einstein: Physicist, Philosopher, Humanitarian
TR Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche
5* From Monet To Van Gogh: A History Of Impressionism
5* History of the English language
TR The Late Middle Ages
3* Great American Music: Boadway Musicals
5* Classics of Russian Literature
5* Lost Worlds of South America
2* The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books
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