Sunday, January 31, 2010

Samson's Walls

By Jud Nirenberg

From the back of the book:

“In a Canaan where Philistines and Hebrews vie for dominance, it is important to know one's place. Samson is isolated in his, trapped by unusual rules and expectations. He was promised to his parents by an angel, destined to grow into a great man and make his people strong.”

This is a fictional account of the often misunderstood Bible story found in the book of Judges in the Old Testament. I read an unbound galley copy and the chapters were numbered by the Bible verses that correspond with them.

So, before I began reading, I went to an online Bible and copied the verses for the chapters and printed them out on one sheet of paper. With my list in hand, I read the verse before beginning each chapter.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well Jud Nirenberg rewrote this story. Yes, the basic plot does follow the Bible story, but he expanded those short verses to create a novel that does, indeed, fit with both the story and the time in which it occurred.

I found myself feeling sorry for Samson the man. Here was a person who had no idea what was expected of him. He was raised to fulfill a particular role, but he didn’t know what it was. All he could do was follow what his teachers told him and they weren’t very forthcoming.

Samson feels isolated and lonely and, in a sense, is very naïve about the ways of the world, especially when it comes to love and relationships. Because of that, he is easily taken advantage of by women and is used by Delilah.

The story is very well written and the author does an excellent job of describing the scene. I enjoyed reading this tale and I give it 3 books.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Theory of All Things

By Peggy Leon

From the book jacket:

“Tragedy tore the Bennett children apart when their mother walked out on them some twenty years ago, followed by the suicide of a brother. Now, the five grown siblings, each brilliant, troubled and a little wacky, face personal crises that will bring them back together in a new way.”

I’m not sure if everyone would agree with me on this one, but I absolutely LOVED this book!

It’s based on a totally dysfunctional family that takes their anger, hurt, jealousies and mental angst out on each other. They are better living with some distance between them. That way, they can vent through emails and voice messages.

However, circumstances bring all of them together in one place and the war begins. No one seems to agree on anything and it soon becomes a battle of emotions.

This is Peggy Leon’s second novel. The first, “Mother Country,” received rave reviews and I can see why. She’s a very good writer and has a unique way of describing what’s going on so you feel you are actually witnessing the characters and events.

By the end of the book, you’ve begun to truly relate to these people and even though they are somewhat nuts, they are also quite endearing.

They are also each artistic in different ways and a bit eccentric.

I love the father in the story. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, he has become almost innocent in his outlook on life and seems ambivalent to the arguments around him. Yet, you can tell he’s soaking it all in and during moments of lucidity, he will say something that makes you laugh, knowing he is using his condition to avoid the tangle!

I am definitely going to have to get a copy of “Mother Country” and any other books this author writes in the future.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Guestbook

Well, I have a new guest book and I really would love to have you sign it when you stop by. That way I know you were here and who you are.
You can find the link toward the bottom of the page. You can also use it to create your own guest book on your blog or Web site.
And don't forget to become a follower if you like what you read!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Author Ross Anthony and his interesting journals

Back in November, I took part in the blog campaign “Green Books Review.” This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a company working to “green up” the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees and supporting green books.

At the time, I had some correspondence with self-published author Ross Anthony. He was considering using recycled paper for his books and wondered what I thought of the idea.

One thing I noticed was the quality of the books published with recycled paper. They were actually very nice and the pages were slightly thicker than new paper.

Ross gave it a go and the result is the following two books, which he sent me to review. In the case of “Riding Chili” and “Circle Earth,” Ross used a very thick paper and it definitely works for these books.

Each book is a journal of sorts, with Ross relating his travels across the U.S. and Europe. Using the heavier paper gives the books a “journal” feel and I really enjoyed that as I was reading them.

So, without further ado, here are my reviews for Ross’ books.

Zen Repair and the Art of Riding Chili

By Ross Anthony

From the back of the book:

“Get on. Ride a dirt bike named Chili across 14 states. Need some time to think? Or to rediscover your dreams? Coast to coast, open roads await your open mind.”

I can just imagine how fun it must have been to travel across the U.S. with no definite itinerary … just the desire to ride, relax, enjoy the scenery and meet the road head-on.

Ross Anthony creates such a fun read. He talks about the places he sees and the people he meets. And every now and then, he throws in a picture to whet the appetite.

Reading his words makes me feel like I’m right there with him, on the back of the bike (even though I’d be scared to death – I prefer four tires between me and the road), with the wind blowing around me and the dust getting in my eyes.

This book is surely a keeper and I do plan to read it again someday when I want to get away from it all and travel the open road.

Circle Earth and the Circumference of the Planet

By Ross Anthony

From the back of the book:

“Come with me around the world.”

I actually liked this book a little better than “Riding Chili,” but I think that’s because Ross included some little sketches along with his writing (plus photos, too).

Ross wrote this journal 20 years before he published it. He relates his trip across Europe, the Middle East and Asia in such an honest and straight forward way, you can’t help but enjoy it!

Starting out in Phoenix, Arizona, and heading east to take in a couple sites prior to boarding the plane for London, Ross talks about his apprehensions of the trip. After all, he will be subject to his whims as he goes to foreign countries where he will have to totally rely on strangers he meets for all his needs.

He traveled by train, bus and hitchhiking. He met all sorts of people with such a wide range of personalities and the reader learns about all of them.

Again, this is a marvelous account of what had to be a unique and magical trip. It’s one more book for my personal library that will find a special place on my shelf.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Mail Call

January is supposed to be the coldest month of the year. So, why is it 50 degrees every day?

I'm not a fan of winter, by any means, so I am enjoying this early spring-like weather. I'm concerned, though. Does it mean we'll be back to winter again in August?

Oh, well, winter is a good time to catch up on reading! This is a list of books that arrived in my mailbox the last two weeks.

1. How To Get Divorced By 30 by Sascha Rothchild
2. An Uncommon History of Common Things by Bethanne Patrick and John Thompson
3. Miracles, Messages & Metaphors by Norm Carroll
4. The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson
5. Angels: A Pop-up Book by Chuck Fischer
6. The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison
7. The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne
8. Miracles: A 52-week Devotional by Karen Kingsbury