Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Review of 'The Second Coming' by Walker Percy

"Will Barrett, a lonely widower, suffers from a depression so strange and severe that he decides he doesn't want to continue living.  But then he meets Allison, a mental hospital escapee making a new life for herself, living along in a greenhouse.  What follows is by turns touching and zany, tragic and comic, as Will goes in search of proof of God and winds up finding much more."

This was one of my favorites that we read in Philosophic Themes in Literature class.  Once more, we are dealing with attitudes towards life, but if you've read The Plague and/or Nausea, this view of the world is somewhere in between.  We are randomly given life and we're pretty insignificant, but that doesn't mean that we can't matter or make others feel like they matter to us.  It's a nice happy-medium view of the world and that makes me feel very comfortable.

As my class and I read this, we all agreed that Ally's chapters were better than Will's.  Not that we could relate directly to her, but we were right there with her as she rediscovers the world around her after experiencing several rounds of electroshock therapy.  It was also really nice because she lived so simply, getting only the necessities (food, water, heat), and simply joys to pass the time when needed (books).  I loved reading about this, especially since Will was busy surrounding himself with things that he thought he needed and they didn't even turn out to be needs of his, much less wants.

For class, we also read articles about Walker Percy and I found the writing that appears in his novels to be much more accessible than those articles.  Reading books and learning lessons is a lot easier when reading about them in novel form rather than in article form.

I definitely want to try reading more Walker Percy novels.

I give 'The Second Coming':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'The Colossus and Other Poems' by Sylvia Plath

"With this startling, exhilarating book of poems, which was first published in 1960, Sylvia Plath burst into literature with spectacular force.  In such classics as 'The Beekeeper's Daughter,' 'The Disquieting Muses,' 'I Want, I Want,' and 'Full Fathom Five,' she writes about sows and skeletons, fathers and suicides, about the noisy imperatives of life and the chilly hunger for death.  Graceful in their craftsmanship, wonderfully original in their imagery, and presenting layer after layer of meaning, the forty poems in The Colossus are early artifacts of genius that still possess the power to move, delight, and shock."

I'm not the greatest when it comes to reading or even understanding poetry, but I know that I love Sylvia Plath (or what I've read of her work so far) and so I decided to give her poetry a try.

I found that it was best to read Sylvia's work in chunks as opposed to one sitting.  I felt like I could put in a decent effort to gain meaning for myself and also try and figure out what the words she used meant for her own life if I waited between a handful of poems.  I would definitely recommend this approach.

The image that best sticks with me is the heart beat, I Am, I Am, I am as well as the tips of waves looking like knives.  I don't know how she does it (well, how she did it) but the images she evokes are just so striking and you can't help but be taken in by what Sylvia is saying.

Someday I'll have to go through this book of poems again.  I'd like to get a physical copy of my own so that I can write in it.  This time, I was using my Nook (e-reader) and I was highlighting and typing in notes, but it's just not the same.  I'll try books with my e-reader, but ultimately, I'd like them in my hand, if they're good.

I give 'The Colossus':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

A Review of 'The Plague' by Albert Camus

"A gripping tale of human unrelieved horror, of survival and resilience, and of the ways in which humankind confronts death, The Plague is at once a masterfully crafted novel, eloquently understated and epic in scope, and a parable of ageless moral resonance, profoundly relevant to our times.  In Oran, a coastal town in North African, the plague begins as a series of portents, unheeded by the people.  It gradually becomes a omnipresent reality, obliterating all traces of the past and driving its victims to almost unearthly extremes of suffering, madness, and compassion."

This was one of the books that I had to read for my Philosophy of Literature class this semester.  Incidentally, I wrote a paper about one of the characters, Tarrou.  Just thought I'd mention that.  I'm just very happy with the paper that I cranked out (Note from after the fact: I got a B+ on that paper).

Two things that we talk about a lot in philosophy are Death and Suffering.  This book is chock full of each of these things.

Oran is a fairly average town filled with people going about their business and normal routines.  Suddenly hundreds of thousands of rats start dropping dead for seemingly no reason.  Then it spreads to the people of the town and they start dying in a similar fashion.  This is a novel all about facing hardship and figuring out what makes life worth living, despite the hardships that befall us.

Even though this is a book about suffering, I adore the relatively positive philosophy that comes out of this novel: we're all going to die, so find meaning in where you are and live your life while you can.  This is a message I find a lot more appealing for the New Year, as bleak of a reminder as this is.  But maybe that's just the kick in the pants that some of us need to get out there and actually DO the things that we resolve to do every New Year.

This book takes a while to get into, but once you're in, you're not going to want to let go.

I give 'The Plague':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Review of 'Nausea' by Jean-Paul Sartre

"Jean-Paul Sartre, philosopher, critic, novelist and dramatist, holds a position of singular eminence in the world of French letters.  Among readers and critics familiar with the whole of Sartre's work, it is generally recognized that his earliest novel, La Nausee (first published in 1938), is his finest and most significant.  It is unquestionably a key novel of the Twentieth Century and a landmark in Existentialist fiction.

Nausea is the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is horrified at his own existence.  In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlessly catalogues his every feeling of nausea which 'spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time-- the time of purple suspenders and broken chair seats; it is made of wide, soft instants, spreading at the edge, like an oil stain.'  Roquentin's efforts to come to terms with life, his philosophical and psychological struggles, give Sartre the opportunity to dramatize the tenets of his Existentialist creed."

This is one of the books that I read for my Philosophic Themes in Literature class.  Because this is a philosophy class, we talk a lot about life and death.  Boy were these big themes...

I have to say, this is a pretty exhausting book.  It feels like Roquentin does a lot of whining and lamenting about the world, how our lives are just a random happenstance and we have no hope of truly mattering in this world.  How's that for an uplifting take-away as we come into the New Year?

The good news is that this is only a perspective and not necessarily a universal truth.

Even though this was an exhausting read, I did find that I liked reading this book.  I think it was the imagery and the way the main character, Roquentin, made relate-able observances.  For example, when his ex-girlfriend tried to create perfect moments and then those moments felt bad and incomplete.  Another time was that frustrating moment when we realize that perfection isn't possible for us, even though we want it so badly and shoot for it so often.

I would recommend that if you're interested in reading this book that you're prepared for a dense read.  It's good, but you'll more than likely need time to sit with it afterwards.

I give 'Nausea':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Review of 'Austenland' by Shannon Hale

"Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man-- perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  But when a wealthy relative bequeaths to her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, Jane's fantasies become more real than she ever could have imagined.  Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?  

In this addictive, charming, and compassionate story, Shannon Hale brings out the Jane Austen obsessive in all of us."

This is one of the books that I had to read for my Pride and Prejudice-themed Lit Theory class last semester.  It was a good fit with the class's theme, but it definitely wasn't on the same level as some of the books we were reading.

After reading the original Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, it was really hard to like most of the spin-offs of the book.  Austenland was no exception.  What frustrated my class and I the most was that it was a very shallow book to read.  If you aimed to dig beneath the surface, you didn't have far to go before hitting the core of the book.  This made it really hard to write even a one-page reflection on the book, much less even consider writing our 10-12 page research papers on the book.

While this may not have been a good book to use for a course intended for those entering the English major/minor, this is, however, a light enough read that one might want to take it on vacation with them.  If you're looking to finish a book, not be challenged too much, and enjoy a little Darcy-ness without actually reading Pride and Prejudice, this could be the book for you.

I do like the idea of having a place like Pembrook Park to visit, but it's strange to me that guests would stay there for weeks at a time indulging in this Jane Austen experience.  I'd definitely like to visit for a day or two, however.  Since this is an experience that I don't especially care to have myself, it's nice to read about this experience through Jane, an extreme Pride and Prejudice nut and one who is completely addicted to Darcy (I don't really understand the attraction, personally, but I also wrote an 11-12 page research paper about why Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are a coupling that doesn't work).

One thing that bothered me was how every loose end about the book was tied up at the end.  I finished and I just had this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Some of the loose ends were just too perfectly tied-up, it felt like.  For example, when Henry (Mr. Nobley) comes onto the plane and when Jane asks him why he was speaking as perfectly as he did back in Austenland, he explains that he was hired because he was similar to his character in real life.  What?  No one speaks that way any more.  Even when he allows contractions in his speech, it's still so formal and forced and completely out of Austenland.  I don't blame Jane for not trusting him.  I would have left him at the airport upon landing in New York.  But instead of saying no as she originally said before getting on the plane (by the way, how is Mr. Nobley able to buy a plane ticket on the exact flight minutes before take-off?  It's uncanny), she accepts him and starts a relationship with him.  Grr... for once, I need a version of Pride and Prejudice to end with the lady character saying no and leaving it at that.  I want her to discover her own worth and be okay with that.  A partner will find their way into her life one way or another and then she will be ready for them.  Someone please write that Jane Austen fan fiction, if they haven't already... I don't need another sad and pathetic female character.

This was a nice book to finish up while I'm here on break with no homework to speak of, but I don't think that I'll be reading it again any time soon.

I give Austenland:
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Review of 'Tuesdays With Morrie' by Mitch Albom

"Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague.  Someone older, patient, and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder.  Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance.  He rediscovered Morrie in the last few months of the older man's life.  Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college.  Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live.

Tuesdays With Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world."

This is quite a heavy read, especially considering the time of year that it is.  Then again, given Morrie's dying message to the world, perhaps this is something that we need to hear soon, regardless of the weather outside  and regardless of whether or not we're spending time with family.  It's never too late to try and get your life back in order.  I have family that have already made New Year's resolutions and they have started already since that is what works for their lifestyle.  They've rejected our cultural norm of making a change on January first.  Really, life does not begin anew on January first.  It only continues.

I have had this book sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust for years now.  I don't really know what possessed me to pick it up this time when I came home, but I'm glad I did.  I read a lot of books about death, but never has anyone been so straightforward about what death is like-- the mental process before death, for example: learning to forgive others, learning to love yourself, finding a purpose that makes you know that life is worth living.  It seems so simple when you're given these answers in book form, but I don't think it could be a harder mission, especially if you feel that you've lost track of yourself somewhere along the way as you went away to college, tried to find a job, attempted to see the world, if you decide to marry someone someday, etc.  All of these things, and others too, are beautiful and wonderful things to do in your life, but you need to do them for the right reasons and sometimes with your own interests in mind.

I'm incredibly happy to have been introduced to such an incredible person as Morrie.  Thank you, Mitch Albom.  Most other readers couldn't have hoped to know him on such an intimate level if it hadn't been for you.  Not even the television networks could give us such a glimpse into Morrie's life.  But that's a matter of personal opinion, I suppose.

This is a book that everyone should read no matter where you are in your walk of life and no matter your religious or cultural background, since we all have the same beginning and the same ending: birth to death.  It's never too late to start thinking about the rest of your life and how you perceive it.  Why not start now?

If you want a book that sticks with you, look no further.

I give 'Tuesdays with Morrie':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Review of 'Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language' by Deborah Fallows

"Deborah Fallows has spent much of her life learning languages and traveling around the world.  But nothing prepared her for the surprises involved in learning Mandarin, China's most common language, or in the intensity of living in Shanghai and Beijing.  Over time, she realized that her struggles and triumphs in studying the language of her adopted home provided small clues to deciphering the behavior and habits of its people and conundrums of its culture.  As her skill with Mandarin increased, bits of the language-- a word, a phrase, an oddity of grammar-- became windows into understanding romance, humor, protocol, relationships, and the overflowing humanity of modern China.

In Dreaming in Chinese, Fallows unravels Chinese culture by explaining the intricacies and subtleties of Mandarin, devoting each of her fourteen chapters to a particular linguistic quirk, interwoven into these explanations are wonderful stories of her encounters with everyday life in China-- real, often funny, and always very human.  Fallows learned, for example, that in China, an abrupt, blunt way of speaking is a way to honor the closeness between two friends-- she found that by adhering to an English speaker's standards of politeness, she was actually being rude!  And when Fallows tried to order fast food, she realized that her own difficulty in articulating tones-- the variations in inflection that can change a word's meaning-- was matched by Chinese speakers' inability to understand the meaning of a phrase when foreigners mangle them.

In sharing what she discovered about Mandarin, and how those discoveries helped her understand a culture that had at first seemed impenetrable, Deborah Fallows's Dreaming in Chinese opens up the China of the laobaixing (lau-by-shing) (everyday people) to Western readers in surprising new ways."

I haven't really thought about visiting China, much less living in the country, but after reading Dreaming in Chinese, I'm more interested in visiting now.  I don't think that I will ever become fluent in Mandarin, but it's just fascinating to read about the nuances of the language from the perspective of an American learning Mandarin.  As a linguist, Deborah Fallows interviews native speakers and works hard to get to the bottom of her own language blunders so that she can learn from them and share them with readers like us.

This is a good introduction to Mandarin and some of Chinese culture (because they're interconnected).  Because of Ms. Fallow's book, I'm looking forward to reading more books about China and other countries around it, if I can.

I feel like I don't have a lot to say.  This is a memoir, so you can't critique what she's writing about, because that is what she is feeling, experiencing, and seeing.  Fallows writes clearly and everything she has to say is quite interesting.  You will not regret picking up this book, especially since it's a fairly quick read (I read it in two days, but I bet it could be done in less time, if you were determined).

I give Dreaming in Chinese:
Thanks for Reading!  I'll hopefully be flooding this page with book reviews to catch up and some other posts as well in the next couple weeks.

--Jude

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Review of 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga (Audio Book)

"Balram Halwai is a complicated man.  Servant.  Philosopher.  Entrepreneur.  Murderer.  Over the course of seven nights, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life-- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.  And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create virtue, and money doesn't solve every problem-- but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.

Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international sensation-- and a startling, provocative debut."

I read this book for my World Englishes class.  When we read this, we were talking about Indian English, since my professor lived there for many years and still chaperones trips to India over January Term.  I had a physical copy of the book, but I found that I needed to find a different way to get the book when I was at a point a little over halfway and I realized that someone had cut out 10-15 pages of the book.  Unacceptable, Amazon.  Next time, I'll check to make sure the books I order through Amazon aren't like that.  The book isn't use-able to anyone at this point.  It must be recycled.  Or turned into an art project.  I like the art project idea better...

And now I turn my attention to the book itself.

I do believe that listening to White Tiger as opposed to merely reading it is a much richer experience.  The narrator speaks with an Indian accent that really helps place you in the setting of the story.  It was especially helpful for me because in class, we were specifically talking about the different between the English that we tend to speak here in the Northern United States compared to how they tend to speak English in India.  It was also helpful because part of what Balram (the main character) talked about was where and how he learned English-- it wasn't really in school and it certainly wasn't with his family).

There are major themes of colonialism in this book and that's another thing that we talk about A LOT in World Englishes class.  British colonists came into countries like India, set up their own government and just left, leaving the Indian people to pick up the pieces and put everything back together.  It's a disastrous situation and India isn't the only country to be affected by such colonialism.

The only bad thing about this book is that it takes time for it to grow on you.  In the beginning, it was difficult to get into the book because of how I imagine Balram sounding (condescending, too smooth for his own good).  But as I kept reading, the story picked up and I became more interested.

This is a very interesting read and a good way to become acquainted with Indian culture.  I don't think that this will be the last book I will read that is set in India, especially now that I have some background information now.

I give 'The White Tiger':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Review of 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen (Audio Book)

"'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.'

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the 'most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works,' and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as 'irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.'
"


My entire Lit Theory class is based on "Pride and Prejudice" as  well as different variations of it.  I have never successfully picked up a physical copy of the book and read it before, so when I tried again for this class, it just wasn't working.  I had to resort to audio books just to get through it.  The language is difficult for me to read and understand, so I was reading it out loud in order to get it any way.  Why not have someone else read it to me while I go to the gym and run laps or wash dishes or clean the bathroom?  While it was still difficult to listen to (and this may be due in part to the fact that I found an older recording read by an older lady) I did make it through the book with a lot of effort.

This is of course a classic story-- the original boy-meets-girl-girl-hates-boy-they-fall-in-love cliche.  The general plot is nice, but the language made it impossible for me to take in everything that I could.  Thank goodness for Sparknotes as well as the different variations of this story.  Hopefully by the end of the semester I'll have a better handle of it.  I think, given enough time, I could work through it on my own without the aid of an audio book.  But this semester is not a good semester for that.  There's so much to do...

The language used is no fault of Jane Austen's.  She lived in a time where there wasn't a lot to do-- visiting/going to parties, playing cards, and reading.  At least this is true for the women of the time.  Since there was a lot of time on their hands, books were very long and very intricate so that it would take longer to finish the book.

I liked how each of Jane Austen's characters is very well-developed.  They're people with stories of their own, not just words on a piece of paper.  Even characters like Mrs. Bennet, who seems shallow quite often throughout the story, has a story of her own and she is a very three-dimensional character if you take the time to delve into her.

After I finish (and start) my 10-page final paper on Pride and Prejudice (I'm going to write about how I don't think that Elizabeth actually loves Darcy, but different circumstances that pushed her into marrying him.  I've been told that this will make loves of Pride and Prejudice quite squeamish) I will be putting this book down for a really long time.  However, I do think that when I do pick up this book again (I think that chances are good that I will pick it up again), I will not need the aid of an audio book, just some time.  I feel a lot more confident reading this book because I've spent so much time with it.

I will ultimately not regret taking Lit Theory and I will not regret spending a semester on Pride and Prejudice.  I don't hate it as much as I thought that I would.

I give 'Pride and Prejudice':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Review of 'The Dark' by Lemony Snicket, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

"Laszlo is afraid of the dark.  The dark is not afraid of Laszlo.

Laszlo lives in a house.  The dark lives in the basement.

One night, the dark comes upstairs to Laszlo's room, and Laszlo goes down to the basement.

This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark."

This is another book that I heard about and just had to get when I went to that book event on my campus.  The pictures are fairly simple, but the story that goes with the pictures is just lovely.  If you're familiar with A Series of Unfortunate Events, the author is the same and the writing style is fairly similar.  It's a quirky story, no question about it!

Reviewing children's books is a bit difficult... they're not long enough that I feel like I can/should talk about the plot.  But I really want to... the ending is one of the most adorable endings that I've seen!  I'm always going to remember it and my heart will swell with happiness every time I remember it.


If you're looking for a cute and quirky children's book, look no further!

I give 'The Dark':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

It's that time of year again when I make a list of things that I'm thankful for.  Some things will be repeats from other years while other things will be new.

I Am Thankful For...

1. My Little Sister!  It's her seventeenth birthday today, so I really hope that she has a great day.

2. Those Who Didn't Fill Up the Classes I Wanted for Next Semester.  I got all of the classes I wanted for the month of January and for spring term.  I'm so happy!  Next semester is going to be great!  By extension, I'm also grateful for my advisor.

3. Jack.  Our relationship has become so much stronger over the past couple of years.  I'm happy and grateful to have spent five wonderful years with him.

4. Counseling.  When things get overwhelming or frustrating or I simply feel lost, the counselors on campus are a great resource for me.  They are wonderful and helpful people.

5. My Parents.  They work so hard and they are so supportive of my sister and me.  I'm grateful now, but I think that that feeling can only grow at this point.

6. The Global Studies Office.  With their help, I have been able to start getting my study abroad plans off the ground.  It's wonderful having their guidance.

7. The Chance to Improve.  I'm taking a Speaking class as well as Lit Theory this semester.  I feel like I've grown as a speaker and a writer and this will be awesome for my future.

8. Netflix.  As well as the shows and movies I have sort of become addicted to.  It doesn't even matter if they're good movies or shows..

9. Cereal and Potatoes.  Yum.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Review of 'Journey' by Aaron Becker

"A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound.  Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny.  When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free.  Can it also lead her home and to her heart's desire?

With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all..."

I recently went to a book event on my campus.  They presented on all kinds of books, ones meant for those from elementary school to senior high.  I did not anticipate to leave with two children's books, especially since I want to be either a middle school or a high school teacher.  Journey is one of the children's books and The Dark is another, which I will review at a later time.

One thing that I love about this book is that there are no words.  You have to put your own words to the story.  The other thing that I loved-- and really, what pushed me to get this book in the first place-- was the illustrations.  Here, just take a peek:

I want to decorate the bedroom of my future child just like this forest.  Do you blame me?

A third thing that I really like about this book is that it's a nod to Harold and the Purple Crayon (he even shows up in this book!).  I think that Harold was one of my favorite books of all time when I was young (along with The Greatest Picnic in the World, which I once had memorized), so this is an awesome and wonderful companion to Harold's story.  And best of all, children can narrate the story as they imagine.  I think it's a good exercise for those little ones.

This is a book that children and adults alike should absolutely pick up and look at.  It's beautiful and wonderful and I think that it's impossible for anyone to hate.

I can't wait to read this to my kids when they come into existence.

I give 'Journey':

Thanks for Reading!  Let me know if you want to hear more about children's books.  I'm considering reading more for this blog.

--Jude

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Review of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust to Dust, Book 2' by Chris Roberson

"New York Times bestselling author Chris Roberson (Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, iZombie, Stan Lee's Starborn) write the prequel to legendary sci-fi author Philip K. Disk's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?," this inspiration for Blade Runner and one of the greatest science fiction novels ever published!

Charlie Victor and Malcolm Reed continue their pulse-pounding mission to retire the renegade androids threatening to destroy the human race.  Journey thought the world returning world returning from the brink of destruction as the critically acclaimed epic concludes in an exciting finale that pits android versus android while leaving mankind's fate in the balance."

This is the continuation of Dust to Dust, Book 1 where we are introduced to Malcolm Reed, the only human who can discern man from machine, and Charlie Victor, an android who sets out to hunt down rogue androids and "retire" them.

In this continuing graphic novel, it switches from being something closer to character-driven to a story driven mainly by plot.  This graphic novel is more fast-paced because we already know where the rogue androids are hiding, but we're waiting for Charlie Victor to come and find Malcolm Reed and rescue him.

This is an exciting second prequel.  Besides the exciting plot, I thought it was really interesting to be inside Malcolm's head as he finds complete bliss just by being in the presence of the androids.  They aren't capable of feeling anything like biological humans can and so the silence in his head is just glorious to experience.  Malcolm is the character who questions whether it's actually a good thing to have feelings.  Perhaps the androids are lucky that they can't experience feelings.  I know that when I'm having weeks like the one I had last week (unpleasant for no reason other than biology), I would rather not feel anything.  But then there are moments like the moment you fall in love or are having a great day and you just want to stand and feel happy because you're able to feel happy.  It's a difficult question... interesting to toy with, but one that I'm not sure I can ultimately answer.

Read this book if you've finished Dust to Dust, Book 1, are looking for a plot-driven book, and/or if you looking for a mildly philosophic read.

I give Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust to Dust, Book 2:
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Review of 'Dramarama' by E. Lockhart (Audio Book)

"Two theater-mad, self-invented fabulositon Ohio teenagers.  One boy, one girl.  One gay, one straight.  One black, one white.  And SUMMER DRAMA CAMP.  It's a season of hormones, gold lame, hissy fits, jazz hands, song and dance, true love, and unitards that will determine their future-- and test their friendship."

I didn't do drama in high school-- well, I didn't act, but I wrote a one-act play-- so I can't relate to this book in that respect, but I did go to a number of plays both through school and around the city.  I'm a huge musical buff, so it was exciting to read about a number of shows that I'm familiar with.

I listened to this as an audio book over the summer while I was working as a gardener (yeah, I'm still wrapping up summer reads...).  It was nice because there really isn't anything heavy to this book.  It was a really nice summer read.  I'd read a number of heavier books during the school year and this was a good time to just chill out and read something light.  Just because it is a relatively light read, that doesn't mean it was boring.  I remember really liking the narrator, Sadye.  She wasn't annoying or too in-your-face, but actually very relate-able as a character.  Sadye and her friend Demmy are mainly trying to find out where they belong in the world.  Demmy, upon entering Summer Drama Camp almost immediately finds where he belongs and settles in comfortably.  Sadye, however, doesn't find her place so easily.  Most everyone, while growing up or even after that struggles with personal identity: who am I?  What am I good at?  Where can I practice what I'm good at?  How will I know that this is what I'm meant to do?  I think that Sadye is a good narrator for the job.

I have read The Boyfriend List, but that was years ago.  I think I would like to reread that book and try E. Lockhart's other books.  She has a playful and mildly sarcastic style-- it's my favorite, I just love it.  I can't wait to pick up more of her books!  Perhaps I'll have a chance to get more when I go to an even on Monday called 'Booked for the Evening' at my college.  Perhaps I'll talk more about that later.

Overall, this book is a great fun-read and one you'll be happy to lose yourself in.

I give Dramarama:
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Review of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust to Dust, Book 1" by Chris Roberson

"The hunt is on.

New York Times bestselling author Chris Roberson (Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, iZombie, Stan Lee's Starborn) write the prequel to legendary sci-fi author Philip K. Disk's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?," this inspiration for Blade Runner and one of the greatest science fiction novels ever published!

Who hunted androids before Rick Deckard?  Just two men: Malcolm Reed, the only "special" human with the ability to discern man from machine, and Charlie Victor, who, because of his past, is the perfect man for the job... Or is he?  Journey through a world returning from the brink of destruction as Malcolm and Charlie hunt down six rogue androids that need to be 'retired.'"

I think that I'm developing a taste for graphic novels.  I'm slowly getting used to reading them.  You'd think they'd be easier to read because there are pictures whereas a traditional novel is a wall of text, but it's actually very different.  You need to take in the dialogue and the visuals all at the same time.  In this way, it's kind of like reading a movie.

I haven't read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? just yet (although I currently have it in my possession, ready to read as soon as Pride and Prejudice stops kicking my butt).  But this is the prequel to that series.  This book and the next prequel book do a wonderful job of setting up the world of Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which is a dark and frankly frightening place.

In my World Englishes topics class, we've been talking about the caste system in India (since it is still fairly prevalent outside of the big cities) and this world sort of reminds me of that.  It's different in that the androids aren't forbidden from touching sacred works and they have good jobs, but I can't help but think of the fact that they resemble Untouchables or Dalits because they are treated as outsiders and if they do something they're not supposed to do (such as rebel, as they are doing in the two prequel books) they are killed or "retired."  Perhaps this connection is a stretch...

This particular graphic novel is mainly character driven.  You're compelled to figure out what's going on and how the characters fit into this situation, but as far as plot, there isn't a lot that happens.  Regardless, this was still a very interesting read.  It made me want to pick up the second book right away, which I did (but that's for another review).

This book is good if you're interested in reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? because it sets you up quite nicely and draws you into this dark and devastating world.  I think this would also make a great book for a philosophy course as it asks the question, "What does it mean to be human?"

I give Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust to Dust, Book 1:
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Review of 'Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk' by David Sedaris

"If animals were more like us,
if mice kept pets and toads could cuss,
if dogs had wives and chipmunks dated,
sheep sat still and meditated,
then in the forest, field, and dairy
you might find this bestiary,
read by storks, by rats and kitties,
skimmed by cows with milk-stained titties.
"I found the book to be most droll,"
might quip the bear, the owl, the mole.  
Others, though, would be more coarse. 
"Bull," could sat the pig and the horse.
As to the scribe, they'd quote the hen:
"Trust me, he's no La Fontaine."

While perusing my local Half Price Books, I stumbled upon this gem.  I have no prior experience with the writing of David Sedaris, but after reading "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" I'm definitely going to look into more of his books.

This is a book of short stories.  Each short story is about an animal in some kind of situation with associate with being human.  Chipmunks and squirrels go on uncomfortable dates, a dog is married to and cheats on a curmudgeon of a wife, an owl mourns the loss of the mate she was supposed to spend the rest of her life with... the list goes on and on.

Besides the fact that these stories are completely relate-able, I found them to be quite witty and charming.  I haven't read a book that made me giggle out loud for a really long time, so this was a treat!  Plus, the illustrations are interesting (and sometimes disturbing).  It sort of feels like this book was made for me-- it's wonderful!

I would recommend this book to anyone who has trouble getting into short stories or to someone who is looking for a good laugh.

I give 'Squirrel Meets Chipmunk':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Review of 'Across the Universe' by Beth Revis (Audio Book)

"A love out of time.  A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future.  Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction.  Someone-- one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-- tried to kill her.  And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's secrets.  But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming."

After hearing mixed reviews and not really being drawn in by the synopsis, I finally cracked and I borrowed this audio book from my digital library (by the way, my digital library is a life-saver, as are audio books.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before).

I liked that there were two people playing Elder and Amy.  It felt more like a performance that way (as opposed to just a book that was being read).  I will say that I liked the voice actor for Elder better, however.  Amy's voice was dreamy and for her cryogenicly frozen state, I think that worked, but then she didn't seem to have very many other tones.  Elder was much more interesting to hear, mostly because he's so involved in the world and Amy is so unfamiliar with it.  I find it more exciting to experience what Amy could be experiencing than to be told by Amy what it's like to go through what she's going through.  Basically, as a reader, I like not knowing and having a chance to discover this world that is so unlike my own.  I like having a chance to figure out what's going on.  With Amy around, that experience is taken away from me.

This is a very plot-driven book, but unfortunately, the book moves at too slow of a pace.  The characters are discovering things at different times and experiencing things that the other isn't, but the book still felt very slow... I haven't read the other books in this trilogy, nor have I started them, but I bet you could fit at least one of those books into this one.  I feel obligated to finish the series now, so perhaps I'll begin reading and it'll pick up pace and it'll be clear why three books are necessary.

The cover, on the other hand, is beautiful.  That's what drew me in in the first place, I think. 

Overall, this book is good if you need your hand to be held throughout the book, but it's also good if you want an intriguing futuristic read.

I give 'Across the Universe':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Review of 'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness (Audio Book)

"The monster showed up after midnight.  As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting.  He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though.  Something ancient, something wild.  And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth."

After finishing this book, I started thinking about a boy and his father.  Cameron and his father Henry.  Cameron had a type of cancer called Anaplastic Astrocytoma.  Put simply, he had a malignant brain tumor.  I didn't know Cameron personally, nor did I know his father, but my mom was in one of his father's productions through her work.  When she found out about his son, she told me and I started following his CaringBridge website from essentially the beginning.  I read about his ups and his downs, I read about the different things he did in his short lifetime and how he truly wanted to make a difference in the world.  In the few weeks leading up to his death, I remember his father posting on the CaringBridge website about how he told Cameron that is was okay to let go.  He was giving his son permission to die, to leave his weary body and move on.

This story, "A Monster Calls," is about a boy and his mother.  Instead of the boy, Conor, having cancer, it's his mother who has a type of cancer that is never specifically revealed to us.  I think Conor was thirteen, as Cameron was when he passed away.

This book is about letting go, even if you don't want to.  It certainly doesn't seem like that is what it'll be about when you start reading/listening to this book, but it becomes clearer as you keep listening.

'A Monster Calls' is wonderfully written.  Patrick Ness did a wonderful job using the details left behind by Siobhan Dowd and weaving them into this story.  I look forward to reading more of his work as well as Siobhan's work.

I give 'A Monster Calls':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Review of 'Saint Maybe' by Anne Tyler

"In 1965, the happy Bedloe family is living an ideal, apple-pie existence in Baltimore.  Then, in the blink of an eye, a single tragic event occurs that will transform their lives forever-- particularly that of seventeen-year-old Ian Bedloe, the youngest son, who blames himself for the sudden "accidental" death of his older brother.

Depressed and depleted, Ian is almost crushed under the weight of an unbearable, secret guilt.  Then one crisp January evening, he catches sight of a window with glowing yellow neon, the Church of the Second Chance.  He enters and soon discovers that forgiveness must be earned, through a bit of sacrifice and a lot of love...."

This is one of the books I'll be reading for my Philosophic Themes in Literature class this coming semester.  This is one book that I particularly look forward to discussing and dissecting.

'Saint Maybe' turned out to be very different than I anticipated.  It turned out to be more about religion and family than I thought.  Initially, it seemed more like a mystery, where Ian and his family would have to unravel the strangeness of Lucy's family history and life.  I wasn't sure where the Church of the Second Chance would come into play or how strong of a role it would take on.

This book really frustrated me.  I hated how much Ian relied on this church that he stumbled upon.  I hated how, on the first night he visited he told his story and took Emmett's advice to care for the children whose parents he may have caused to kill themselves.  This is something I can't hope to understand, but this is something that I feel like Emmett should not have advised Ian on.  Instead of going to college and getting himself an education in order to better his life and the lives of his family, he dropped out and started taking care of his nieces and nephew.  All to atone for something he probably didn't do.  To get God's forgiveness.  It would be very admirable if Ian had made this decision on his own, but it felt like he was doing it because he had to and because someone who was acting as the voice of God told him to and that's not admirable at all.  Not to me.

Another thing that I didn't like but really need to learn to accept is how "in your face" (sort of) Ian is about his beliefs.  I didn't like that he went from not really believing much of anything to suddenly being gung-ho about his new-found religion.  That's fine, I know it happens, but it makes me worry because it feels like he's walking into religion blind.  In order to make this feel less strange, I feel like this transition should have lasted a while, gradually getting to the point that it was.  That would have been more comfortable and I would have felt better about Ian's beliefs.  It would have felt like he actually believed them, rather than being told by someone that this was actually a thing.

You might be able to tell that religion is a very touch-and-go subject with me.  Feel free to start a debate and tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

I do really like this book though because I have formed such a strong connection and I can see that all of the characters are so strongly connected and very developed.  No one is alike and no character is "vanilla."  I also like the concept of the book, mostly because it evokes such a strong and sometime physical reaction within me.  Not very many books have that kind of power over me.  I remember feeling this way about "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."  I was extremely angry at the characters in that book and I have a similar reaction (although not necessarily towards the characters) with this book.

This book is good for those who enjoy philosophic discussion, aren't afraid to talk about religion, and are looking for a very engaging read.

I give 'Saint Maybe':
1/2
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Review of 'Beauty Queens' by Libba Bray (Audio Book)

"The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras.  But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do?  Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program-- or wrestle snakes to the ground?  Get a perfect tan-- or learn to run wild?  And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness.  Your tour guide?  None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of 'A Great and Terrible Beauty' and 'Going Bovine.'  The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again."

'Beauty Queens' is awesome to listen to via audio book!  I loved that the author herself read the book!  I also loved that she took on different voices for each of the characters and there were even some sound effects, which was awesome!  A few times throughout the book, there are "commercial breaks" so while Libba is talking in a candy-sweet voice drenched in sarcasm, there is twinkly and fantastical music playing in the background of the advertisement.

This book is perfect for teenage girls, feminists... heck, everyone should read this!  There is so much to go through... with thirteen very different characters, there are so many things to cover.  One character is transgender, another is the only black girl in the pageant, another girl has an Indian family, but that's not what makes her so interesting.  There are themes of acceptance, consumerism, personal images, what it means to be beautiful, etc.  I would love to bring this into my (future) English class someday and create a curriculum around it because there's so much to talk about!

As I sort of implied before, this book is for all audiences, I think.  It's not just about a pageant, which I thought most of the book was going to be about.  There's parts about survival, spy missions, a threat to overthrow the plot... if you're a fan of 'Lord of the Flies' and to some extent '1984,' (at least the concept of being watched), this will help ease the fact that this book is about a pageant and beauty queens.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I plan to acquire it for my own shelf so that I can carry out my plan of teaching this someday (along with 'The Fault in Our Stars,' which I have begun reading again).

Since I have talked about who would like this book, I will skip right to the rating...

Overall, I give 'Beauty Queens':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Review of 'Bridget Jones's Diary' by Helen Fielding

"Meet Bridget Jones-- a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all of the answers if she could:

a. lose 7 pounds
b. stop smoking
c. develop Inner Poise

'123 lbs.  (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night?  Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier?  Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)...'

Bridget Jones's Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement-- a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.

Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74.  She remains, however, optimistic.  Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter, and-- like millions of readers the world round-- you'll find yourself shouting, 'Bridget Jones is me!'"

Where has this book been all my life?

This is one of the books that I will be reading for my Lit Theory class this next semester.  We'll be studying Pride and Prejudice and various other versions (so keep an eye out for more Pride and Prejudice-esque reviews!).

I love how real of a character Bridget was.  I was originally going to say that she was an honest character, because this is written in diary format (see title), but let's face it, real people aren't completely honest with themselves.  Not all the time, any way.  You can see that Bridget has created a version of herself while the other characters created their own versions of her.  Bridget was different with her friends than she was with those she worked with and with her family.  Bridget's a wonderfully round character who feels like she could be your slightly neurotic best friend.

One thing that I didn't like was that Bridget was upset that she didn't have a proper boyfriend.  I can understand that she was upset when the "first" guy (not the absolute first, but the man she worked with) was a jerk who treated her as a booty-call, essentially.  That's entirely unfair and very hurtful.  But then why keep, for lack of a better word, pining for him when he treated you as he did?  Perhaps this says something about the women of today.  Why do we "go after" someone whom we know is not good for us?  This part bothered me not because it wasn't real, but because it is.  It's something I don't understand.  Women need to realize that they're worth the wait and not try and settle for the first person who comes along.  Men should not control our lives.  We need to live for ourselves and if Mr./Ms. Right comes along, we take it in stride and live as happily as we possibly can.

Rant over.

This book is a wonderful page-turner.  It'll make you laugh, feel for Bridget, and force you to look in a mirror, even.  I highly recommend it to anyone!

I give 'Bridget Jones's Diary':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Review of 'V for Vendetta' by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

"A frightening and powerful tale of the loss of freedom and identity in a chillingly believable totalitarian world, V for Vendetta stands as one of the highest achievements of the comics medium and a defining work for creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Set in an imagined future England that has given itself over to fascism, this groundbreaking story captures both the suffocating nature of life in an authoritarian police state and the redemptive power of the human spirit which revels against it.  Crafted with sterling clarity and intelligence, V for Vendetta brings an unequaled depth of characterization and verisimilitude to its unflinching account of oppression and resistance."

I've been meaning to read this for a while!  Since Watchmen made me so angry, I figured that I should give him another chance.  He really is adept at telling a killer story.

This time, instead of becoming angry, I don't really know what to feel.  'V for Vendetta' talks about a society that, instead of turning into the society that it is today, anarchy reigns.  So V begins telling Evey about anarchy and why we need it.  He explains it as the path to true freedom: no one to enforce rules, just the allowance to build the world that we want; destroying the old and creating new from the rubble that remains.  It's like society is a phoenix.

The most unsettling thought in this book, to me, is the separation of anarchy and chaos.  V explains that it is anarchy if there is no authority.  It is chaos when bad things happen because of this lack of authority.  I feel as though that isn't true.  If there isn't someone to set an example or at least to enforce the rules that have been created for this particular society, who's to stop those who want to push their freedom to its limits?  It seems that chaos is bound to follow once an anarchy is put into place.

Needless to say, I don't think anarchy is the answer for the world.  If change must be made (and there's quite a laundry list of change that needs to happen), we need to fight for it and draw attention to it.  Nothing will be fixed if we start anew.  Many of the same people will be there.  You can't erase hatreds that have existed for thousands of years, it will take a lot of time to recover from war and rebuild a crippled society...

But like I said, this book left me not really knowing what to think.  Alan Moore did have some good points... or interesting points, at least.  A lot of them are the same points I mentioned above.  This makes the book confusing and I don't know what to think.  In some situations, you can destroy something to create something new.  The image that came to mind almost immediately was a painting.  You start with a blank canvas and then you put a lot of time in it so that it looks like something.  But if you change your mind about what you want to paint or you hate what you've put a lot of effort into, you can paint over the painting to create something new.

It's a weak image...

With this same painting, you can work with what you have, working to make it better, changing it as you see fit.  And maybe that's better.  You waste less paint that way...

This is a book that I will need to read again sometime.  Now that I've had a first reading, maybe I'll get more out of this book.

Overall, this is a truly powerful book and it will take some time to work through your brain, I think.

I give 'V for Vendetta':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Review of 'Between Shades of Gray' by Ruta Sepetys (Audio Book)

"Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941.  She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys.  Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known.  Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia.  Here they are forced under Stalin's order, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-- and at great risk-- documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.  It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.  Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart."

I think this is my first audio book of the year.  I'm not sure why I keep forgetting about this form of reading... it's rather convenient!  I've been listening to audio books while I work this summer while I've been working.  It's great!

This is probably one of the more interesting books I've read this summer.  It takes place in Lithuania and Siberia during World War II.  I like this book because instead of reading from the perspective of someone under Hitler's power (I've read many books like this), this is written from the perspective of someone under Stalin's control.  It's a side of the war that I'm not very familiar with and a side that often flies under the radar (especially when Hitler gets most of the attention).  I still don't really know what happened, but this book has inspired me to try and learn more.

One of the more extreme jolts that I had while reading this book was that it seemed like Lina and the other prisoners were relatively okay with Hitler invading Russia.  I was sitting in my bed thinking, "Hitler's bad too!!!"  I'm not sure what situation would be worse to be in... was Stalin worse than Hitler?  Where does Mussolini fall?  Does is matter enough to have varying degrees of awful?

One thing the author highlighted for me at the end of the audio book was that she tried to emphasize the positive moments in her book.  These people were being overworked and they were starving and slowly dying, but they had a decent number of potatoes for dinner at times.  Sometimes they met someone who was willing to help them (including some of the Russian people overworking them).

The recording was not my favorite.  I listened to the recording for long periods of time each time I sat down to listen.  Her voice just didn't sit well with me after a while.  I don't know if the characters became too whiny or if her voice was too breathy... I don't know what it is, but it didn't feel like it worked for me and it didn't feel like it worked for the characters in the story either.

This is really an interesting part of World War II and I intend to explore it further.  This book will be good for the history buffs and those who are looking for something a little darker to read.

I give 'Between Shades of Gray':
1/2
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Review of 'Ginger Pye' by Eleanor Estes

"Meet the marcelous Pyes--

There is Mrs. Pye, the youngest mother in town; Mr. Pye, a famous bird man, who handles all the nation's important bird problems; Rachel Pye, who is so reasonable she can make unreasonable ideas sound like good ones; Jerry Pye, who know about rocks of all sorts and plans to grow up to be a rock man; Uncle Bennie, who is Jerry and Rachel's uncle-- even though he's only three years old.

Lastly is Ginger Pye, the "intellectual dog," who Jerry bought for a hard-earned dollar.  The most famous pup in all of Cranbury, Ginger knows tons of tricks, is as loyal as he is smart, and steals the hearts of everyone he meets... until someone steals him!"

This book has been on my shelf for ages and I have finally gotten around to reading it!

Ginger Pye has so many interesting anecdotes in it which makes this a lovely read.  I can't say that I was blown away by it, but there were a number of really adorable and funny parts that I will probably remember long after finishing this.  For example, when Ginger climbs the fire escape in an effort to find out where Jerry goes all day long, the perpendicular swimmer, dusting the pews...  They were small yet interesting details in the book that I just loved.

What I didn't like about this book was that everyone seemed so passive in their efforts to find Ginger after he went missing.  At first they had search parties, but then it got to a point where they'd just look a little bit if they were already going out.  When they went to knock on doors, they weren't very assertive at all.  When they were told to go away, they left.  They didn't ask questions.  Even if they had seen suspicious activity.

I guess I'm just disappointed that this book didn't have more action in it.  No chases, not a very dramatic find... I just wasn't blown away by that.

Overall, this book is good for elementary school kids and lovers of children's books and dogs.  Had I read this book when I was younger, I might have liked it a little more.

I give 'Ginger Pye':
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude