An Ember in the Ashes

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An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, is a book that I never would have heard of if it hadn’t been for Twitter.  I have an addiction to Twitter that I’ve been fighting, with limited success, and one thing that I love about Twitter is Book Twitter.  There are so many authors on Twitter, and they all share the books by other authors they love.  If you wander around and follow them for long, then you’ll be bound to be exposed to other awesome authors, whether new or established.  I can’t remember who I was following when I ran across Sabaa Tahir’s Twitter page, but I do remember it was because someone else I was following retweeted her revealing the new covers for her first (as seen here) and second books in a series, as well as the cover reveal to her soon-to-be-released third book.  The cover intrigued me, as well as the squeals in the comments by rabid fans.  How could I have missed something so widely loved, if Twitter was any guide? (Answer: I hadn’t frequented a bookstore in so long, and I’d stayed away from social media for a long time.  In some ways, my knowledge of YA books is as old as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Even when I’d entered a bookstore on the rare occasion, there were so many books screaming at me from bookshelves that the truly great ones never caught my eye.) Continue reading “An Ember in the Ashes”

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Rash

rash cover

Everyone gets wanderlust every once in a while.  I know I have.  I believed that if I just went somewhere else, tried a new job, went on a life-changing vacation, then things would be better.  I’d feel normal.  I’d feel fulfilled.

This is a lot like how Lisa Kusel feels at the start of her memoir, Rash.  Lisa is a published author with two novels under her belt, but when her third novel fails to find a publisher, her agent suggests she work on something else.  Lisa herself feels she needs a change of pace.  Her husband Victor, a middle school teacher, is also feeling the urge to do something more, something meaningful.  The perfect opportunity presents itself when Lisa learns about a new eco-friendly school opening in Bali.  Victor can go teach in a brand-new top-of-the-line school, Lisa can write in an exotic new locale, and their six-year-old daughter Loy can get a top-notch education. Victor secures a position as the 7th/8th grade teacher, they make their arrangements, and off they go to Bali. Continue reading “Rash”

Walden Two

walden two coverThanks to finally opening up on my Twitter account about my book blog (sorry, I’m not comfortable linking my twitter handle here just yet), one of my followers recommended the book Walden Two to me.  After a few false starts and distractions, I finally buckled down and took the book out for a half hour per night until I finished it.  It’s certainly not a book I would have picked on my own, which is perfectly fine.  After all, expanding my horizons by reading outside my comfort zone is something I’m working on all the time (well, not all the time, but at least little by little).

Walden Two, by B. F. Skinner, is a terrible novel.  If you are looking for something with good plot, engaging dialogue, and fully realized characters, do not pick up this book.  Though set up as a novel, it is more of a novelized version of Skinner’s treatise on the optimal Utopian society based upon behavioral science and behavioral conditioning.  I kept reading, thinking that someday, sometime, the exposition-via-dialogue would end and Skinner would show us how Walden Two (the fictional utopian community) worked instead of telling us.  After all, the book started promisingly enough, with our introduction to Professor Burris pretending he remembers two of his old students, who have returned from war and hope to find a place to live not dictated by the ever-shifting ever-hazardous environments created by warring politics.  It was humorous, intriguing, and just the hook that I needed to be drawn into what I thought would be engaging lessons via prose.

Alas, it was not to be.

This review shall be split in two parts: critiquing the novel, and critiquing the ideas presented. Continue reading “Walden Two”