Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: As You Like It by William Shakespeare

As You Like It by William Shakespeare
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The pastoral comedy of love that is the play As You Like It, was overall alright. The intermix of songs, mostly for comedic effect, are for the most part alright. There are various couplings that happen throughout the play, though most are in someway connected with Rosalind who by far is the best character in the play. This is the best example (so far) of Shakespeare's use of the English bar on actresses by having a young man play a woman who plays a young man, thus bringing about the fabulous character of Rosalind. Even with the oft-quoted, "All the world's a stage" and the following monologue by Jaques, the language in the play doesn't really stand out compared to previous plays. I'd be interested in seeing this play on stage or an onscreen adaptation.

Book Review: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites (Discworld, #3)Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book of Discworld introduces the reader the female view of the magic in "Equal Rites" through the unexpected transference of wizard magic to a baby girl named Esk.  Once the story really gets going, Granny Weatherwax takes Esk under her wing to help teach her witchcraft and hoped it would help the little girl figure out how to understand wizard magic.  With all her good intentions, Granny decides Esk needs help from the Unseen University.  The two leave their hometown of Bad Ass and head to Ankh-Morpork leading to very interesting adventures on the way.

Throughout the story, Pratchett gives humor to the various gender roles that Discworld (and ours by extension) assumes exist though in reality they are ridiculous especially when a little girl has wizardry magic.  The pace is slow in a few places, but overall the book is a page turner as you can't wait to see what happens next and what laugh Pratchett has in store.  I can't wait to see the next "adventure" Granny gets herself involved with.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review: Philip Dru: Administrator by Edward Mandell House

Phillip Dru: AdministratorPhillip Dru: Administrator by Edward Mandell House
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

After finishing "Philip Dru: Administrator", the best thing I can say about it is that author Edward Mandell House might have created a semi-autobiographical character to explain the political boss system the dominated American politics for nearly half a century.  The story of a former West Point graduate who leads a revolution against a corrupt government is not even believable and the 1 million man battle of Elma is laughable.  To call the main characters, Dru and Gloria, flat would be an install to every flat character ever written.  And the dialogue is for the most part preachy, but not even written well.  The novel is just awful and it best to be avoid by anyone wanting to read for literary pleasure.

The edition of the book was printed by the Robert Welch Press, named after the founder of the John Birch Society.  The foreword is written by William Norman Grigg and unfortunately reveals an individual who has conspiracies on the brain.  Many individuals believe this book is a blueprint for the socialism taking over the American government based on the fact that Edward Mandell House was an adviser to President Woodrow Wilson and later President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Individuals like Mr. Grigg point to all the "socialist" things that happened during the Wilson and later FDR as evidence to this conspiracy, unfortunately they ignore the fact that all these supposedly "socialist" things had been in the political landscape for nearly 50-100 years previous to being enacted.  While it was true that House was an adviser to Wilson, the two had a massive falling out during the Versailles Peace Conference, and House never advised really advised FDR and "Philip Dru: Administrator" was just read for possible ideas to help during the Great Depression.

To anyone who believes this book is a blueprint for a socialist conspiracy to topple the American way of life or capitalism, I'm sorry but no.  This is just a awful novel written by a politically connected individual, but not a powerful one.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review: Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music by William Shakespeare

Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music by William Shakespeare
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This collection of poems, the reader had to imagine singing the lines which for me is hard since I know I can't sing. Overall the sonnets were well written and very readable.

Book Review: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Curse of ChalionThe Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The Curse of Chalion", Lois McMaster Bujold's first foray into fantasy is a literally one of the best books in the genre I had read.  The story follows Cazaril going from barely above being a vagabond to servicing as secretary and advisor to the young, yet intelligent princess of Chalion.  Then Cazaril is forced to going to the royal court and soon finds that not only is he having to protect his charge and himself from human enemies of all kinds, but also the supernatural due to the actions of the a previous King but Cazaril himself.

The world in which the story takes place is thoroughly thought from the political to the religious, societally from the royal court down to the peasant struggling to survive.  From the start the religious and magical system Bujold built as an integral part of her world just grabs the reader in it's familiar elements to Christianity and New Age concepts, but also it's uniqueness and originality.  But when the reader experiences the realm of The Five, Bujold writes it like a mystical experience that it's hard for a mere mortal to explain in words and the reader experiences that difficulty along with Cazaril.

The sole issue I have with the story is the somewhat creepiness in the relationship between Cazaril and Lady Betriz, and the somewhat annoying trope of men not getting the signals from women that tends to invade many genres.  However, the story isn't a romance and thus these "issues" don't really take away from the overall story.

"The Curse of Chalion" is a must read for any fantasy reader, it's highly recommended and now one of my favorite books.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Review: The Passionate Pilgrim by William Shakespeare

The Passionate Pilgrim by William Shakespeare
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The collection of poems is a diverse collection, though obviously not all of them are Shakespeare's. The Venus-Adonis theme is in several of the poems and might be earlier versions by Shakespeare of his bigger work or another poet's work on the theme, in either case all of them were well done. It's hard to really review this collection because many of the poem's writers are anonymous.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Although he does appear in the play, Julius Caesar is not the main focus of this piece. Marcus Brutus is foremost the main character of this play and it's tragic figure who is led into a murder of his friend by a supposed friend, Cassius. Through the course of the play, Cassius goes from envious and crafty senator into a dishonorable bribing coward leading to the defeat of his faction. However the best piece of language and speech is by Marcus Antony at Julius Caesar's funeral followed closely at his eulogy to Brutus at the end of the play and finally the best line of the entire play, "Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war;" (III, i)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Book Review: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2)The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Returning to Discworld in "The Light Fantastic", Terry Pratchett drops the reader right into the action as well as Rincewind and Twoflower, though rather unceremoniously into an enchanted forest.  The inept wizard and tourist head back to Ankh-Morpork in a roundabout fashion including a quick stop to talk with DEATH, while being chased by competent wizards, mercenaries, and religious fanatics sparked by the big red star the world turtle is heading towards.

The magic of Discworld is better understood as well as the society of wizardry.  But the most outstanding part is the humor that Pratchett spreads throughout the book from the subtle to the outrageous.  Given that the book was first printed almost 30, the humor still holds up as Pratchett twists tropes and situations that any fantasy reader knows.  By the end of the book you just want to see what Pratchett will do next in Discworld.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: Henry V by William Shakespeare

Henry V by William Shakespeare
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The play of England's celebrated warrior-king is at best disjointed and at worse tedious. Although Shakespeare breaks his word by keeping Falstaff out of view, it was probably for the best as the comedic elements of Henry V wouldn't have been any better considering the flatness of that same element in Henry IV Part 2. The drama of the play was alright, but nothing stellar. The play is best known for two speeches by King Henry during his French campaign and they are the highlight of the play. Overall Henry V is an okay read and depending on the adaptation a stellar work on stage or screen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Review: Me and Ted Against the World by Reese Schonfeld

Me and Ted Against the World the Unathorized Story of the Founding of CNNMe and Ted Against the World the Unathorized Story of the Founding of CNN by Reese Schonfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story behind the founding of CNN is an engaging page turner written by the man who conceived it, but is never really given credit by the "official" history.  Reese Schonfeld, a veteran in the news service for almost 25 years before CNN, gives a detailed account about what led him in the direction of a 24-hour television news channel and how it came to be that he joined with Ted Turner to found CNN.  Schonfeld goes through the pains and joys of creating an entire news service from nothing that stretched all over the world then experience the ups and downs of first 2 1/2 years of operations before being fired and watching his dream steadily decline.

Part biography and part first-hand account of how a medium reshaped society, Me and Ted Against the World could have descended into a bitter rant but Schonfeld gives a balanced account not only of others (most notably Ted Turner) but himself as well (several times admitting where he erred when heading CNN).  Although the book was published before the fallout of the AOL-Time Warner merger was known, Schonfeld's thoughts on what the merger could do the channel were interesting and pretty good.  Overall the book is must read for journalism students and those interested in the evolution of medium of television.

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