Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia

The Magician's Nephew
By C.S. Lewis

This is the first novel I've read by C.S. Lewis, and I have fallen in Love. His prose is enchanting, not only because of the content, but because of how easily and naturally it flows.
For those of you who do not know about Narnia, this book was actually the second to last book written on the series, but the first one in the chronology of the story of Narnia.
The book introduces us to Digory and Polly, who are forced to go to another world by Digory's uncle, Andrew. When in this new world Digory and Polly realize they are actually in an in-between of sorts. A world between the worlds. They begin exploring these other worlds, getting into adventures all along, and end up discovering the new forming world of Narnia.

The continuation of this book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cambodia Calling: A Memoir from the Frontlines of Humanitarian Aid

By Richard Heinzl
This memoir, written by the founder of the Canadian branch of Doctors Without Borders (DWB), takes the reader from Africa, to Canada, the Caribbean and Cambodia, all while showing the making of a man and of a humanitarian aid organization.
The novel starts with Heinzl, young and daring, when he goes to Africa in an elective from college. This trip, the people he meets, and the decisions he makes around this time in his life, lead him to begin working towards founding a branch of DWB.
The most important assignment towards achieving this is to go spend at least a year in Cambodia in 1991.
The book is well written and entertaining, and reading it is akin to living Heinzls adventures yourself.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tid-bits : Alice Sebold

For a review of Alice Sebold's newest best seller, "The Almost Moon" look at The Collegiate Live Arts and Entertainment web page, or grab a copy of Collegiate.

Also from Sebold:

"The Lovely Bones"

This eloquently written novel surrounds the rape and murder of a 14 year-old girl. She watches down from heaven at her family and the police. She watches them as they cope with the struggle of everyday activities. She watches them try to solve her murder. Sebold writes with a peaceful, flowing rhythm unlike that of most murder novels. If you choose one book of hers to read, this is by far the best. Hands Down.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


The story of a rape victim who struggles everyday to regain her identity. A tale of empowerment, though filled with graphic details, as one relives the rape with the victim. This gripping and powerful memoir contains Sebold's usual grace and charm as she deals with yet again, overcoming the situations in life that come with no instruction manual.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison

Georgia Nicholson is back, with “On the Bright side, I’m now the girlfriend of a Sex God“ just as boy crazy and hilarious as ever. Just like in the first one, “Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging,” Nicholson talks about the mishaps that her and her gang go through in “Billy Shakespeare’s country.”

Once again, this is not safe for work nor school, as it will have you laughing uncontrollably.

During this sequel everything is going wonderful for Georgia, since, as the title suggests, she is finally going out with the Sex God, or Robbie. But things turn upside down for her when her family breaks the news to her that she has to go to Australia, to visit her father.

And then Robbie breaks up with her, since he doesn’t consider her mature enough.

From then on Georgia works hard in what she calls “Operation Elastic Band,” in which she tries to prove her “maturiosity” to Robbie by being a heart breaker.

The book is not as funny as the first one, but it’s a great way to just crack up, and relax. Perfect for a quick procrastinatory read in between exams, or even better, as a way to relax after the exams.

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, by Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler’s second book “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” (Simon Spotlight entertainment, 264 pages, $24.95) continues to give us a peek in Chelsea’s outrageous life.

Chelsea starts the book from her childhood, giving us a picture of how adorable she was, as she waits for a boy, “I nervously attempted to release my wedgie while waiting for him to catch up. (A futile effort, as it turned out, when wearing two mittens the size of car batteries.)”

She goes on to tell all her classmates that she is going to play the daughter of Goldie Hawn in the sequel to Private Benjamin. Chelsea is tired of her classmates teasing her, and this is her way to get in everybody’s good graces.

As outrageous as that story was at the age of nine, the stories she tells as a woman are even worse.

This book is simply not for the faint of heart. Chelsea faces midgets, a boyfriend that seems interested in a Peekapoo, goes to jail thanks to her sister, and babysits children with sugar highs that attack her, and put buckets of ice cream in her head.

Throughout the craziness Chelsea uses the most logical thing to stay afloat – Vodka, and occasionally pot.

Although the book is easy to read and entertaining, it is a bit of a waste of time. As humorous as she can be during standup, the book is simply not that funny.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Promiscuities by Naomi Wolf

Eleven years after Naomi Wolf’s groundbreaking “Promiscuities” (Random House, 286 pages) was first published it still resonates today.

Wolf’s message is that female sexuality and coming of age has been taken hostage by our society and culture. This way, out of women’s own hands, it has been distorted into something that is usually only beneficial for men, and that tends to cause confusion and pain in women.

The novel explores Wolf’s own sexuality and coming of age, along with the friends she grew up with in San Francisco. She admits from the beginning of the book that her experience and that of her friends paint a picture of only white-middle class experiences, yet I’m sure many of their thoughts and sexual episodes will resonate with many women regardless of race and income level.

For example, I’m sure many girls in this time and age have experienced a diminishment of the importance of their virginity, in the same way that Wolf’s friends have. And, also like Wolf, many girls thought, “that was it?” after it was all said and done.

Or the fact that girls, growing up and even once they are at the workplace, tread a blurred line between being good girls and being sluts. And wherever the woman falls in this spectrum, it’s her own fault she got there in the first place, or so society says. “One thing was certain: if you were targeted, […] whether you had moved not fast enough or had moved too fast […] in some way your exclusion was your own fault.”

Through the pages Wolf also explores how female sexuality was seen and treated throughout history. She explores the history of the slut, for example, and how it happened that women’s sexuality in American is at the point at which it is.

What she found is that through history, and in different cultures even today, female sexuality is revered, respected and uplifted. “It is neither natural nor inevitable that women’s lust should be punished,” Wolf declares.

As a memoir “Promiscuities” ranges from touching to enraging, and may even be surprising to some people. She analyzes moments of women’s lives and analyzes the culture that made this moments happen.

Through the cultural and historical references that she cites we, the reader, see that things don’t necessarily have to be as they are, that women have been truly liberated, sexuality and all, and that that was a betterment for the society as a whole.

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin

Browsing the shelves of my nearest Schuler’s Books, I came across the reader’s group table. One title in particular caught my eye. It wasn’t the bold neon yellow typography used, or the pumpkin orange and violet cover that warranted a closer look. Instead it was the need to satisfy my literary hunger, by finding out what does happen when a crocodile eats the sun.

About one third of the way through journalist, Peter Godwin’s captivating memoir, and my question would be answered. “When a Crocodile Eats the Sun,” published in 2006 by Back Bay Books, is a worth-while read, that gives a compelling account of Zimbabwe, and a journalist who only in his later life begins to understand his father, and why he won’t leave the country he loves.

Set in modern day Zimbabwe, Godwin takes us on a journey through his self-discovery, and also one of a nation in turmoil. Not only is Goodwin’s Zimbabwe suffering an aids epidemic, but also a race war, and battle for democracy. He shows us how he starts out as an African journalist, travels the world, only to find out he longs to be nowhere but his own home.

“When a Crocodile Eats the Sun” contains more than dates and historical mumbo jumbo. Godwin uses imagery intertwined with African folklore to paint the reader a portrait of the characters and places in his memoir.

He says, “The celestial crocodile… briefly consumes our live-giving star as a warning that he is much displeased with the behavior of man below.”
It is this analogy Godwin links the appearance of two solar eclipses in the course of a year to Zimbabwe’s internal conflict. Godwin is also dealing with a personal struggle, when he learns his father has been hiding a secret that changes his life forever.

His father is actually a Polish Jew, who lost his mother and sister in the Holocaust. This explains his parents’ reluctance to leave the home they have known for fifty years. As a white Zimbabwean, Godwin compares his father’s struggle in the Holocaust to living in the Zimbabwe they now know.

“When a Crocodile Eats the Sun” is a complex read that takes perseverance to get through. However, his unique journey and the moments of literary brilliance that shine along the way make the read all the more worth-while. This book is a must read for history buffs, or anyone in search of a well-written story of self-discovery and a recollection of current events in Zimbabwe.