River God – Review

River God by Wilbur Smith

Published in 1993

Pages: 530

Genre: Historical fiction

“The river lay heavily upon the desert, bright as a spill of molten metal from a furnace.”

As the title and first line suggest, River God, by Wilbur Smith, is centered around the life giving force of the Nile in ancient Egypt. What the book concerns, however, is the lives of those who subsist and thrive along that great running serpent of water. Violence, betrayal, intrigue, and love all take the stage in an epic that is as fulfilling as it is enticing. Continue reading “River God – Review”

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Louis Armstrong – Review

Louis Armstrong by Hugues Panassié

Photograph collection b Jack Bradley

Published in 1971

Pages: 148

Genre: Biography, nonfiction, music criticism

“The New Year was being celebrated in New Orleans.”

If you are from my generation or younger, you may be familiar with the gritty voice singing “What a Wonderful World,” but Louis Armstrong was most famous as a jazz musician; his playing takes center stage in Louis Armstrong by French music critic Hugues Panassié. Split into three sections, the book gives an account of “Satchmo” and his career blowing people’s minds with his unique trumpet playing.  Assuming they already know much of his life story, Louis Armstrong is a great addition to any fan’s bookshelf. Continue reading “Louis Armstrong – Review”

Witches Abroad – Review

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Published in 1991

Pages: 342

Genre: Fantasy, satire

“This is the Discworld, which travels through space on the back of four elephants which themselves stand on the shell of Great A’Tuin, the sky turtle.”

Stories have power in the fantasy realm of Terry Prachett’s Discworld series, and they take center stage in the novel Witches Abroad. Fairy godmothers, fairy tales, and happily-ever-afters come into his satirical scope in a novel that is as entertaining as it is endearing. Granny Weatherwax returns, alongside Nanny Ogg and the timid Magrat Garlick, for an adventure that dives not only into stories in general, but her own family history. Continue reading “Witches Abroad – Review”

The Autumn of the Patriarch – Review

El otoño del patriarca (The Autumn of the Patriarch) by Gabriel García Márquez

Published in 1975

Gregory Rabassa Translation

Pages: 269

Genre: Latin American literature, Colombian literature

“Over the weekend the vultures got into the presidential palace by pecking through the screens on the balcony windows and the flapping of their wings stirred up the stagnant time inside, and at dawn on Monday the city awoke out of its lethargy of centuries with the warm, soft breeze of a great man dead and rotting grandeur.”

If you decide to read The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel García Márquez, it is a good idea to become familiar with the above sentence because it will be referenced again throughout the book. Creating a weaving, non-linear narrative on power and its fallacies, García Márquez brings a flowing and poetic character study to life. This book is not an easy read, but finishing brings about its own reward for those who are able to make it through the depths of description and its maniacal lack of logic. Continue reading “The Autumn of the Patriarch – Review”

A Wizard of Earthsea – Review

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Published in 1968

Pages: 183

Genre: Fantasy

“The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.”

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin, follows the young wizard Ged from his humble beginnings to his ascension to greatness. Taking advantage of many tropes of the fantasy genre, the tale spans years of Ged’s life and hits the highlights rather than diving into the everyday minutia of Earthsea. Though the story follows the well-trod road of the hero’s journey, there is little to elevate it above other spell-bound tales. Continue reading “A Wizard of Earthsea – Review”

Killing Monsters – Review

Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence by Gerard Jones

Published in 2002

Pages: 261

Genre: Nonfiction, mass media, child psychology

“My first memory is of tearing the monster’s arm off.”

Media violence is a phrase that is inherently volatile due to the images it conjures in its readers. Spurts of blood, the deafening reports of gunshots, and screeching victims are all terrifying to think of, but even more so when considering a child being subjected to them. Killing Monsters, by Gerard Jones, seeks to better understand how media violence affects children and whether those effects are inherently and exclusively negative.

Continue reading “Killing Monsters – Review”

Mort – Review

Mort by Terry Pratchett

Illustrations by Omar Rayyan

Published in 1987; 2016 Edition by The Folio Society

Pages: 222

Genre: Fantasy, satire

 

Disclaimer: This review will be different from the norm in that it is split into two parts: a standard, albeit shorter, book review and a specific review of this Folio Society edition. I am endorsing this product through my own volition and belief in its high quality.

 

Part I: The Story

“This is the bright candlelit room where the lifetimers are stored – shelf upon shelf of them, squat hourglasses, one for every living person, pouring their fine sand from the future into the past.”

The eponymous character of Mort, by Terry Pratchett, is an awkward, lanky, redheaded teen sent by his father to learn a trade because, well, that’s what parents do with children who can’t really contribute at home. When no one else picks him, Discworld’s anthropomorphic manifestation of Death appears and chooses Mort as his apprentice. Continue reading “Mort – Review”