Book Review: BNA 75

BNA 75: The Flight Plan of Nashville International Airport (1937-2012)
Text: Christine Kreyling
Format: Hardback
Published: 2012

BNA 75 is a history of the Nashville International Airport and its people for the past three quarters of a century.
The book has extensive history of the airport itself, but also great factoids on how airports work (For instance, why do you have to walk all the way to gate C-24 when C-2 through C-15 are empty…?) and great factoids about the area. (In case you can’t tell, I’m really into little trivia factoids.) For instance, did you know that Nashville had a library right in the airport? I wish that they still did that sort of stuff today!

If you aren’t into Nashville, a portion of this book isn’t going to be that interesting to you. But if you’re into aviation or airports, you’ll be okay with overlooking them. I’ll give this a 4/5. Read it. 😀

Advertisements

Book Review – Hip Hop History

TITLE: Hip-Hop U.S. History
AUTHORS: Blake Harrison & Alex Rappaport
FORMAT: Paperback with CD
PUBLISHED: 2006

I don’t even know where to start with this book.
I guess I should go with the statement that I picked it up thinking it was either going to be awesome or total crap, but the library had it on display and I thought they might know what they were talking about.
Then again, my library being a branch of the Nashville Public Library, I should know better.

Yes, I just publicly dissed my library. But that’s a convo for another day.

So this book was on display and I thought that it had potential. The concept is that it’s giving a basic overview of US History “From Columbus to the Civil Rights Era” through specially written hip-hop songs. Each chapter gives the lyrics of one song, and alongside gives explanations of each section of the lyrics.

It’s possible that this book could be helpful if you had no idea about anything (I’m reminded of an episode of The Wild Thornberrys where the mother teaches the older daughter something using this method), but really, I fail to see how this book provides a good history lesson, especially considering how much it assumes you already know.

Here’s a sample of the book:
Back before buffalo wings at Domino’s,
America was where the Buffalo
roamed. What you don’t know?
Thirty thousand years ago some dudes
Came across the Bering Strait
wearing snowshoes.
Eskimos chasing woolly mammoth,
Ice Age white like dandruff.

But the book has assumed you understand Bering Strait and Ice Age, and if you know that stuff, you probably already know how people arrived in North America. And if you don’t already know that stuff, you’re probably going to have some weird image of eskimos sitting at a booth eating hot wings.

Which goes along with my other complaint that the amount of unimportant stuff shoved in just amazes me. At one point there’s a reference to Chubby Checker dressed up for Halloween in reference to the Boston Tea Party.

And the way they explain some of this stuff… Yes, the third amendment technically means you don’t have to let soldiers sleep on your couch and the eighth technically means that you can’t be ordered to drink turpentine for punishment, but is that really the best way to explain the Bill of Rights?

The worst part about this book is that on the cover it even touts this book as a prep for the US History AP and Sat II exams. Wait, what? Before I read that, I thought the target age for this book was somewhere around middle school.

Maybe (okay totally) I’m the wrong demographic for this book. But even being my most objective, I fail to see how this book would be helpful at a higher level. I’m not going to crack the CD, so I can’t vouch for the songs’ musical merit, but as far as a learning tool, it fails. I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know, it glosses over a lot of stuff for more common “history” (the book says Columbus found America, but fails to mention anyone else who arrived here before or around the same time unless you read the appendix), and in a couple instances, the ‘facts’ given are wrong. (The first one I saw said you can’t print something to intentionally defame somebody because it’s “Libel or slander” um… )

I see what they tried to do here, but they failed. Then again, what do I expect from a book announcing its “Flocabulary” and created by MTV? If this book actually helps, more power to it. But from my observation, it gets a 2/5.

Book Review – Meet Molly by Valerie Tripp

Title: Meet Molly

Author: Valerie Tripp

Format: Paperback – First Edition

Written/Published: 1995

 

It was not too long ago that I came upon some very sad news, American Girl Dolls get retired.  I was shocked and saddened by this when I learned that great characters such as Felicity, Kirsten and Samantha have all been retired.  Yet, saddest news of all is next up to be retired is Molly McIntire!  Why is this the saddest news of all?  Molly is my favorite American Girl from the entire collection!  In a lot of ways I felt like I was Molly because she was the girl with stick straight brown hair that she hated because it was so flat and boring and the girl with glasses.  Molly was a girl who was imaginative and had two best friends that she did almost everything with – just like me.  Only difference in my mind was that she had grey eyes while I didn’t, lived in World War II and had siblings to wrestle with as well.  Yes in some ways major differences, but still Molly was the girl I identified with the most, living during a period of history that fascinated me the most.

 

It is because of my love for this character growing up and even to this day that I decided to read back through some of her books to give Molly a fitting farewell.  He books will always live on according to the American Girl website but still it is not the same because when another little girl falls in love with Molly and wants to be just like her and have the doll just like her it won’t be available.  (Needless to say I own a Molly doll – and getting her was a huge deal for me!)

 

Picking up the first book in the series I was hit with a flood of memories having forgotten much of the story.  I forgot how she had siblings to wrestle with; I forgot that her first story was set in Halloween and how she wanted to be my favorite fairy tale princess Cinderella.  So it was nice to re-explore the story and drudge up the old feelings such as her hatred for turnips which I did happen to recall of all things.  It was a simple and happy read as Molly was very much a classic nine year old girl dealing with a pain in the butt older brother.  In a way as I read I was transported back to being that nine year old girl who first started reading the book on the floor of her teacher’s class room thinking , this girl is exactly like me she looks like me and reacts the same way I would to this situation!

 

My only complain about the book was the ending and not because it ended but because it was a quick and convenient wrap up.  It is something that does happen in a lot of books that are trying to teach a quick little lesson.  After reading an entire story about Molly and her brother fighting and getting back at each other to finally make up the moment after mom gives them a lecture about getting along and setting them to chores as punishment for their misbehavior.  I don’t have any siblings but from what I know of sibling rivalry this isn’t a very accurate portrayal.  The one saving grace that did keep things from being too over the top was the fact that Molly and her brother Ricky did find a bit of common ground before agreeing to not fight any more, so the ‘hug and make up’ scene wasn’t too over the top and random.

 

Overall, I would give this book a 4 out of 5 pages and strongly recommend this book to any brown haired girl, or really any young girl because the American Girl book to me always seem to be rather relate-able and fun to read while teaching about interesting times in American History.  (I particularly love that not only do you get a mostly realistic story that shows off the way life was during that time period there is an entire section at the end all about  life during that time with images of thing and people during that time period).

Writer Wednesday – Andrew Toy

AndrewToy-TourBadge

 

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m Andrew Toy, author of The Man in the Box and blogger at the popular AdoptingJames.wordpress.com, book editor, and writing coach.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m a simple guy who was born and raised in Southern California. I was the dork who would rather be writing stories than be impressing the girls with skateboarding and surfing – I mean, I tried that for a stint of time, but didn’t really work out to my advantage. I love ice cream, pizza, bean burritos, my Floridian wife, and our awesome loft in Louisville, KY.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
The Man in the Box is an adventure/fantasy novel. I’m always hesitant to say “fantasy novel,” because it’s really a fictional book that dabs into fantasy every now and then. It’s about and average family man, married with kids, who discovers his imaginary childhood world inside a cardboard box. In this world he faces zombie-like ghosts, runs from dinosaurs, encounters titanic-sized panthers, giant insects… anyway, as you can imagine, he becomes increasingly addicted to life inside this adventurous world and he’d rather not spend time with his comparatively mundane family. So, he’s go to choose what he wants more. And the ending just might throw you for a surprise… Oops. Did I say too much?

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m afraid I’ve told other bloggers and fans that I’m working on an apocalyptic series, but I’m putting that on hold until I get through some more research and possibly find a co-author. But just a couple of days ago, a light went on in my head and I was struck by the inspiration of a young reader’s book which I’m very excited about. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but let’s just say dog-lovers and history buffs both will enjoy this read, no matter what age.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Like reading them or writing them? Reading them, I was the first one in my kindergarten class to read an entire picture book by myself: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. That was a good day, reading it to the whole class as they oohed and awed. My advise to kids, however, don’t accept your 15 minutes of fame too early in life, if they do in fact, only present themselves once in a lifetime. I could have done better, I’m sure. Writing books, however, I wrote a couple in junior high and high school (after I determined skateboarding was getting me nowhere), of which the public will never see.

What are your three favorite books?
Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry, The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, and… I’m comfortable enough in my masculinity to admit that I really, really like Little Women. It’s a great character study! (It’s actually neck-in-neck with Anne of Green Gables.)

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I read three books at a time: One fiction, one historical/biographical, and one Christian-related. Right now I’m reading Life of Pi (fiction), Elizabeth the Queen (biography), and Adopted into God’s Family (Christian). I can’t put Life of Pi down.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…Feel like a girl. But when I read a few pages while I’m waiting for the dogs to go poop, I’m hoping it doesn’t rain all over me.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I read a lot of really good books. But if by some chance, I come across an exceptional book that I just don’t want to end, that’s when I’ll read it again a year or two later.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Extremely.

What do you look for in a good book?
Depends on the genre. For fiction, I’m looking for that rare moment when storytelling and skilled penmanship meet (it’s rarer than one might think). Life of Pi is once such book. For history or biography, I’m looking for how observant the author is about particulars and facts and tidbits other observers might not pick up on. Give me ALL the juicy details! For my Christian books, I’m looking for creativity and originality in their theological teachings. That’s rare to come by. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis would be the perfect example of that.

Why do you write?
Okay. Here’s my being extremely vulnerable. I write to tell good stories. I tell good stories in hopes that Pixar Studios will want to have me join their storytelling team. That my expectation, anyway. The reality is, I just want to tell good stories and make a living off of it.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A lawyer. For real! There’s a lot of acting and story-spinning involved. The same story can be told a million different ways!

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Pixar movies. Loud, upbeat, happy music.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I can (and will be) so much better.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My wife is completely and 100% supportive of it. I can’t ask for anything more.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
No. They’re true. We’re all weird and very socially awkward. I choose to be socially awkward because I want to see how people respond to unexpected circumstances, then I can transfer that to paper.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, itunes… everything is a distraction from writing. That’s why I get most of my writing done on paper.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
This is too embarrassing. Next question.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Yeah, that apocalyptic series I hinted at earlier. I can’t wait to get started on it. That, and Pixar’s latest projects.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I love ‘em! I feel I’ve earned their trust and I want to keep it by continuing to tell stories that they will be happy to invest in.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
My fans would be surprised to know that I deliver pizzas to help pay the bills. So keep telling your friends and family about my books so I can have more time to write!

Anything else we should know?
Yes. Don’t ever, under any circumstances, crawl into a cardboard box and close your eyes. And if you do, stay well hidden at night…

Book Review – Persepolis & Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis:  The story of a childhood
Marjane Satrapi
Translation 2003
Originally published in france 2000
Hardback graphic novel

Marjane Satrapi was a child in Iran in the 80s when the government fell and war broke out.  This graphic novel tells her story in pieces, from being carefree and 10, attending a French-language school in Tehran, where she grew up, to being 14 and sent out of the country because it was the only way to keep her safe.  In the middle, she saw people that she love come and go as prisoners (one batch released, one entered), she went from regular clothes and a mixed school to all-girls, wearing headscarves.  She went from a child to a young teen who knew when to run to the basement bomb shelter and when the bombing was too close to make the run worth it.

There’s not much to say with this book.  It’s told in first person, through Marji’s perspective, and with the innocence of a 10-14 year old child.  That’s both good and bad, as we get little glimpses as to how these changes affected regular people, but only little glimpses.  Also, as a bonus, there is a two page intro that gives us Persia/Iran history, which I think is helpful.

Illustrations are simplistic black and white drawings by the author.

In the end, I’m giving it a four because of the glimpse of history it gives us.  If this were fiction, it’d only be a three.

———————-

Persepolis 2:  The story of a return
Marjane Satrapi
Translation 2004
Originally published in france 2000
Hardback graphic novel

Okay, after reading part 1, the graphic novel about the author’s life in Iran, I really wanted to read part 2.

And this is going to be a short review because I have so many issues with it.  First of all, the author’s life sucked and I didn’t see a lot worth reading in this book.  Her parents sent her off to Europe, and the woman that was supposed to take her in sent her to live with nuns.  On her own, basically, earlier than most of us could drive.

Honestly, the thing I liked about Persepolis was that I was learning about Iran when they switched from progressive society to covering themselves and segregating. The issue I had with Persepolis 2 is that I didn’t care at all about European Beatnicks and underage drug use or teens off on their own.  I wanted to slap the mother’s friend.  Oh, and there was no reminder of what had happened in the first book, this is literally like turning the page and continuing on (I know I make that complaint a lot, but authors need to remember that readers don’t always read their books one after another right away).

When Marjane finally went back because she was homesick, I was left with more questions than answers – after all, the author, according the the blurb on the back cover, was currently living in Paris.  If she was so hot and bothered to get back home, why did she leave again? Was she really that miserable?

If you read the first and thought it was the best book ever, pick it up if you catch it at the library.  But really, there’s no cultural value, nothing special to glean from this.  The art isn’t redeeming.

A very disappointed 2 out of 5 pages.

%d bloggers like this: