Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Reviews and Goodreads questions (10/6)

Sorry for the late reviews guys; life has been a little crazy. We have a new review on Crank by Ellen Hopkins up on Goodreads today. Due to some controversial content, I'm going to put up a collection of reviews previously on Goodreads. How do you all feel about this? Please let me know in the form below. :) Thanks, guys. -C
"A robust and wildly entertaining fairy tale, freely abridged from Eden Phillpotts’s 1910 fantasy and wryly retold by Katherine and John Paterson.

"An ambitious Stone Age man demands a talisman that will harden his heart, allowing him to take control of his tribe. Against his better judgment, the tribe’s magic man creates the Flint Heart, but the cruelty of it causes the destruction of the tribe. Thousands of years later, the talisman reemerges to corrupt a kindly farmer, an innocent fairy creature, and a familial badger. Can Charles and his sister Unity, who have consulted with fairies such as the mysterious Zagabog, wisest creature in the universe, find a way to rescue humans, fairies, and animals alike from the dark influence of the Flint Heart? This humorous, hearty, utterly delightful fairy tale is the sort for an entire family to savor together or an adventurous youngster to devour."

     I received the Flint Heart in a first reads (Goodreads) giveaway. Due to my terrible deadlines, I didn’t allow myself to read this book for a while after I received it. I did, however, have a fantastic time skimming through the pages and beautiful illustrations. Although the ARC edition I received was in black in white (illustration-wise), John Rocco’s drawings perfectly perceived the world I imagined from the story.
     This story is a retelling, which you should know before you read the book. Occasionally, it stumbles with the words, which may very well have improved in the final copy of the story. This was definitely a child’s novel. Having confined myself to reading schoolwork until I finished my reviews, it was a fun, easy read to pick up after a week of not reading (a long length for me). It’s shorter than it appears because of the spacious illustrations and large print. I definitely suggest this book to young readers. 

"In the summer of 2006, recent college graduate Adam Shepard decided to see if he could establish himself in a year, starting with nothing more than a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back, and $25 in his pocket. To validate this test case, Shepard ruled out using previous contacts or relying on his diploma. Not surprisingly, things didn't go as well as hoped; before long, Shepard was selling his blood for money. Eventually though, his perseverance achieved its just reward, thus providing us with a gritty memoir of hard-won success."

     After reading and interpreting Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed in my English class, I had a lot of mixed feelings on Ehrenreich's projects and results. My review can be seen HERE. I “found this book [Nickel and Dimed] almost like a prequel exploring the impossibility of minimum wage and living on it before the actual series can step in and explain how persons accomplish the impossible.” Shepard's novel was not a book that adequately explored how people live on minimum wage. As a response to Ehrenreich's book, this was a poor novel; in light of the world today, this was a novel worth reading and exploring. Shepard's novel was “about the attitude of success” and conquering the impossible.
     I do, however, have some high objections to Shepard's experience and opinions. To Shepard's unobjectionable leverage, Shepard has the advantage of being male. Although his experiences were dangerous, many are nearly impossible for females. Shepard notes that males where not chosen over females while he worked for the EasyLabor company but it's indisputably to his advantage that he was able to do many of the things that may have been more dangerous for females or people of color (such as living in a homeless shelter).
     With that said, I didn't expect Shepard to succeed. That he was able to accomplish his goals in a mere six months astonished me. He was able to hold a job above the rate of minimum wage (though I am baffled his method of interviewing actually succeeded in employing him).
      I don't hold anything against Shepard for his lack of writing skills. What was written was honest and extremely optimistic, and I appreciated that. In his reflection, he mentioned the vast amount of things he left out of the novel as well as the hardships he excluded. I understand his reasoning but it's significant to me that these small experiences are what make or break a person. It was further amplified for me that Shepard recounted his experiences lightly because the results were positive. It was doubtless more trying and emotionally difficult for Shepard to jump the hurdles that lead to his succeeding.
     Even with adequate regards to all the negative aspects of this novel, it's an astonishing read. If you're looking for a book to explore with a classroom, a story to give you hope, or even just a nonfiction read, I completely recommend this book. If you're looking for a recommendation that includes a plot and characters, I don't recommend this book. Shepard does not accurate display any story development, but it's interesting, none the less.

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