Category Archives: Review

Parnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley

  • Title: Parnassus On Wheels
  • Author: Christopher Morley
  • # of Pages: 142

Image result for Parnassus On Wheels“I warn you,” said the funny-looking little man with the red beard, “I’m here to sell this caravan of culture, and by the bones of Swinburne I think your brother’s the man to buy it.” Christopher Morley’s unforgettably weird classic tale of adventure on a traveling bookstore called Parnassus, drawn by a steed called Pegasus. Not to be missed.


Miss Helen McGill lives on a farm with her brother Andrew. Everything is going great-  until Andrew becomes an author. It starts with one book of his being published, and soon Miss McGill finds herself running the farm on her own, as her brother focuses on his new career. “He hardly ever looked at the ears Roebuck catalogs any more, and after Mr. Decameron came to visit us and suggested that Andrew write a book of country poems, the man became simply unbearable.

One day a strange little man shows up with a wagon full of books, wanting to sell them to Andrew McGill. He’s been travelling around the country to introduce the simple folks to literature but now he wants to write a book about his travels, so he needs someone else to take over for him. Miss McGill realizes that if Andrew ever hears about this, she’ll never see him again, so on a whim she decides to buy the wagon herself and go on an unplanned vacation.
Thus begins a very entertaining adventure, with Miss McGill as the star, along with a dog, a horse and the strange little man. If you’re looking for a gripping plot – this is probably not the book for you. However, if all you need is a pleasant little tale with a few surprises and a crew of amusing characters – go right ahead. An interesting concept, a few laughs and a sweet ending – the best companion for a winter’s cup of chocolate milk.
I think the greatest aspect of the book is that, despite its simplicity, it manages to touch on one important point – that being the age-old question: Is it better to read simple, mass-marketed, maybe even badly written literature than to not read at all? You see, my idea is that the common people – in the country, that is – never have had any chance to get hold of books, and never have had any one explain what books can mean. It’s all right for college presidents to draw up their five-foot shelves of great literature, and for the publishers to advertise sets of their Linoleum Classics, but what the people need is the good, homely, honest stuff – something that’ll stick to their ribs – make them laugh and tremble and feel sick to think of the littleness of this popcorn ball spinning in space without ever getting a hot-box!” Christopher Morley writes.
When Twilight came out, I remember how many people complained about such terrible literature spreading like wild-fire. None of these people ever stopped to consider that Twilight, even with its awful story and not the greatest writing, got a lot of teens to start reading. In an age where we have a phone-computer-TV in our back pocket, that’s no easy feat. A teenager who picked up a copy of Twilight has a better chance of finding themselves reading Shakespeare ten years later than one who never even tried.
Through his characters, Morley manages to express the idea that reading should be for everyone, and everyone can find something to read that’s relevant to their life, regardless of whether they’re an English professor or a simple man on a farm.
“‘Lord!’, he said, ‘when you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night- there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean.'”
One hundred and forty two pages of laughs, love and life with a simple, honest and important message. What more does one need?
Advertisements

Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swann

  • Title: Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story 
  • Author: Fannie Flagg
  • # of Pages: 357
  • Translation: (German into Hebrew) טלי קונס

A witty philosophical murder mystery with a charming twist: the crack detectives are sheep determined to discover who killed their beloved shepherd. glenkill

On a hillside near the cozy Irish village of Glennkill, a flock of sheep gathers around their shepherd, George, whose body lies pinned to the ground with a spade. George has cared devotedly for the flock, even reading them books every night. Led by Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in Glennkill (and possibly the world), they set out to find George’s killer.


Sometimes I like to ignore bad recommendations. It’s an annoying habit best phrased as “I want to see for myself”. These ventures usually end in one of two ways – everyone was wrong or everyone was right. Three Bags Full falls somewhere in between. Continue reading →

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

  • Title: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • Author: Fannie Flagg
  • # of Pages: 497

The day Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison opened the Whistle Stop Cafe, the town took a turn for the better. It was the Depression and that cafe was a home from home for many of us. You could get eggs, grits, bacon, ham, coffee and a smile for Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe25 cents. Ruth was just the sweetest girl you ever met. And Idgie? She was a character, all right. You never saw anyone so headstrong. But how anybody could have thought she murdered that man is beyond me.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a mouth-watering tale of love, laughter and mystery. It will lift your spirits and above all it’ll remind you of the secret to life: friends. Best friends.


I wonder why we decided to limit ourselves to just five. What if I need a sixth star? Where am I supposed to get it from? Just bringing up some serious issues the book community needs to sit down and figure out.

Continue reading →

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

  • Title: The Neverending Story
  • Author: Michael Ende
  • # of Pages: 445

SPOILER ALERT: mentions main characters and touches on major events, includes quotes without names or direct comments about the plot but that may give away points to attentive readers


Bastian Balthazar Bux is shy, awkward, and certainly not heroic. His onlThe Neverending Storyy escape is reading books. When Bastian happens upon an old book called The Neverending Story, he’s swept into the magical world of Fantastica—so much that he finds he has actually become a character in the story! And when he realizes that this mysteriously enchanted world is in great danger, he also discovers that he has been the one chosen to save it. Can Bastian overcome the barrier between reality and his imagination in order to save Fantastica?


I recently read Momo, also by Michael Ende. A quick Google investigation led me to the conclusion that my review of it was going to be the only non-five-star review on planet Earth, which reminded me – I never liked The Neverending Story, when I read it as a kid, either. I also didn’t like the movie. (Fun fact: Michael Ende didn’t think so either. he asked the production to stop, or at least change the name, because in his opinion it was too different from the original book. He sued and lost.) I thought the book really was neverending. As with Momo, I seem to be the only person who thinks this way. So naturally I decided to read it again and attempt to solve this mystery once and for all.

Continue reading →

Momo by Michael Ende

  • Title: Momo
  • momoAuthor: Michael Ende
  • # of Pages: 227

 

Momo has a wonderful life. She has no parents and her home is the ruins of an old amphitheatre, but she has wonderful friends of all shapes and sizes who take care of her, play with her and keep her company. There’s Beppo Roadwsweeper, old and wise, who loves her and cares for her like a father, Guido Guide, the storyteller who loves to make up local history for tourists, and the children of the city who love to play with Momo and find that no game is really much fun without her.

One day something weird starts happening to the people in the world. It starts with the old barber, who gets a visit from a very odd, very gray man who tells him he can start saving time in the Timesaving Bank and then, when he’s older, he’ll have enough time saved up to fulfill all of his dreams. The man agrees. In order to save up time he has to start giving up some small things – a daily hour with his old mother, a weekly visit to his lover, his habit of sitting around and contemplating life every evening. He’s not the only one. One by one, people start saving time. As they strive to become more efficient, they drop hobbies, family and friends. Very soon society turns into a sort of machine – there’s no point wasting a second on anything that isn’t neccessary. 

Momo and her friends start noticing the change around them. They soon find out it has to do with men in gray plaguing the citizens, convincing them to save time and then evaporating from their memories as soon as they’ve gone. They try telling people the truth, but when the men in gray find out, they find themselves in grave danger. As the world keeps changing, it’s up to Momo to save everyone.


I spend a good fifteen minutes reading reviews online before I set out to write this one. I screened through pages and pages of four and five star reviews, each one praising Ende more than the last, trying to figure out what went wrong for me.

Continue reading →

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

  • Title: Small Great Things
  • Author: Jodi Picoult28587957
  • # of Pages: 512

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN


Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.


Continue reading →

How Katie Got a Voice (and a Cool New Nickname)

  • Author – Pat Mervine
  • # of Pages – 26
  • *includes illustrations

How Katie Got a Voice (and a Cool New Nickname) is a story told by a fourth grade classmate of Katie, the new girl in school. Everyone in the school has a nickname related to individual interests and personalities. When Katie comes into the class, the students are eager to involve her in their activities and to learn what is special about her. This proves to be quite a challenge. Katie has significant physical disabilities. How can Katie fit in with her classmates when she can’t even talk? When Katie is introduced to assistive technology, she is finally able to communicate with her new friends. As a result, the students are delighted to see her as a person with many interests and abilities, just like them. Katie knows she is a valued member of the school when she is given her own special nickname.

Continue reading →

Dirk Gentley’s Hollistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

  • Title – Dirk Gentley’s Hollistic Detective Agency
  • Author – Douglas Adams
  • # of Pages – 306

———————————————————————————–

There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it. But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time traveler, AND the devastating secret of humankind! Detective Gently’s bill for saving the human race from extinction: NO CHARGE.

———————————————————————————–

Dirk Gentley’s Hollistic Detective Agency is the seventh Douglas Adams novel I’ve read (if you count Starship Titanic, which was his idea and highly resembles his writing style, depsite being written by his friend Terry Jones). I’ve mentioned countless times how much I love this man. I usually do so not by using the word love exactly, but by mentioning future plans to pickle his brain in a jar on my shelf or plan a pilgrimmage up to his grave. I think Adams is a brilliant writer – witty, funny, and a master of satire and sarcasm.

It took me nearly two weeks to finish this book – a major break from my previous five-completed-books week. The last Adams book I’d read before this was Starship Titanic and even though I haven’t, were I to review that book it would be very similar to the points I shall make in this one.

Continue reading →

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

  • Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist 
  • Author: Mohsin Hamid
  • # of Pages: 191

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid turned out to be another one-day read. It’s relatively short, not even 200 pages, and it is told from the point of view of the main character Changez, telling his story to an American stranger as one continuous monologue. The book is literally just a story being told.  We do not know what is going on in Changez’s setting lest he chooses to mention something. The entire time he talks he is sitting in a restaurant with this foreigner he met seemingly at random, only leaving near the end as they walk to the stranger’s hotel. The reactions of the American to the story, the arrival and departure of the waiter, the noises and sights surrounding the two as they sit in Lahore in Pakistan and dine – all of these occurrences are known to us only if Changez chooses to address them.

Continue reading →

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

  • Title: Suicide Notes
  • Author: Michael Thomas Ford
  • # of Pages: 295

I’m not crazy. I don’t see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it’s a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy.”

——————————————————–

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford is a novel told from the point of view of a kid who finds himself in a 45 day psychiatric hospital program after attempting to commint suicide on the night of New Years Eve. The chapters in the novel are basically entries for each day – 45 total – in which Jeff, a ffiteen year old teenager, goes through a self-discovery journey that starts from anger and denial and eventually reaches a sort of acceptance and attempt to get back up on his feet.

Continue reading →