Valley of the Bees

The Kirkus Review of Valley of the Bees is in!

Great news! The Kirkus Review for Valley of the Bees is in, and it is pretty good!

Read the full review!

Here are a few high points of the review:

Webster has written a richly detailed work whose world feels legitimate and lived-in, letting readers gradually, seamlessly experience it, rather than overwhelming them with exposition. Meanwhile, Valley is an empathetic, compassionate protagonist who feels three-dimensional from start to finish. Her caring for the bees establishes an instant connection with the reader. The complications of her friendship with another teenager, Reyna, who has fallen in love with her, as well as the intricate bonds that tie her to her family make for an engrossing drama. Furthermore, her relationship with her grandmother, as well as the unfolding of a number of buried family secrets that cause her to question a great deal of what she thought she knew, provides a brilliant through line.

Continue reading “The Kirkus Review of Valley of the Bees is in!”

Bibliography, Book Reviews

Closing the gap between east and west in “Persepolis”

Cover of Persepolis 1, 2000. L'Association Fre...
Cover of Persepolis 1, 2000. L’Association French edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In her graphic novel, Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi examines the pedagogical issue of “othering” and creates closeness between her western audience and its perceived enemy – the Iranian people – by speaking directly to and carefully instructing the reader on Iran and its people. She explicitly teaches the reader about the Iranian revolution and how she and Iranians like her are very much like us here in the West.

The history of Iran that Satrapi provides in the introduction creates a frame for her story in which the reader must consider the fact that the fundamentalists who now rule Iran were created by the west. She also strives to strip away the “otherness” and show us that we are, in many ways, more alike than we are different. Satrapi uses her text to show her western audience that she and other educated Iranians like her are more like everyday westerners than they are like the fundamentalist Iranians who are so vilified by the west.

Throughout Persepolis, the character of Marji often speaks directly to the western reader. There is no question that Satrapi uses her text to teach to a western audience. For example, in the scene on pages 114-115, Marji walks purposefully down a flight of stairs toward her audience. She may as well be an actor on a stage, pausing the show to step down to audience-level and explain her country’s descent into war. Such a move would not be necessary if she were writing for an Iranian audience. Continue reading “Closing the gap between east and west in “Persepolis””

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Response to “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”

The front cover of Lamb: The Gospel According ...
The front cover of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood PalISBN-10: 0380813815 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m in the process of editing my “Papers” project that I am planning to publish here in a few weeks, and I keep stumbling across book reviews and other pieces that I think will also make interesting blog posts. This morning, I came across this reader response I wrote for one of my favorite books that I have ever read for school and thought I would share it with you. Here’s a throw-back Thursday review of a book that I read in the spring of 2011.

Response to “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”

After thousands of years, the mystery of Christ’s whereabouts from the time he was 12 until the age of 30 has been solved. Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, is Biff’s often hysterical account of the life of Christ during this oft-debated period. Throughout this novel, Moore explores such deep theological questions as the divinity of Christ and free will, using modern language sometimes reminiscent of a contemporary television sitcom. Moore manages to integrate a high level of intellectual humor throughout most of the novel. For me, Lamb has earned the cliché, “laugh out loud.” In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Biff himself had coined the phrase to begin with.

I’m not normally one to cry or laugh out loud when reading any book, but the sarcasm and irreverence used to create humor throughout Lamb definitely had me going. For example, when Joseph asks Biff if he wants to become a stonecutter, Biff replies, Continue reading “Response to “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal””

Blogging, Random Writing Rants

I think I might be a blogger finally

English: This systematic overview categorizes ...
Image via Wikipedia

Blogging. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard. But, I tried and tried to start blogs in the past, and they never seemed to go anywhere. Take for instance the blog I started for my now-defunct online bookstore (I still take special orders if you’re looking for anything in particular.)

The blog is still there, I could always pick it up again. My plan for that blog was to post book reviews of all the books I was reading, use those as my blog posts, and tie it in with books for sale on my website. Unfortunatly, I needed to work at a job that was actually paying and just didn’t have the time it takes to keep an online business up and running. That blog quickly fell by the wayside, along with my poor bookstore. In fact, I have an ever-growing stack of books next to my desk just waiting for me to review. And that’s nothing on the stack of books I’ve had to return to the library in the meantime. Continue reading “I think I might be a blogger finally”