Category: Non fiction reviews

A review of Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel (A Memoir) by Jessica Bell

Bell’s first (and possibly not last) memoir is a well-written, fast paced, and engaging read that chronicles Bell’s extensive struggles with depression, with being the child of two semi-famous gothic musicians, years of coping with her mother’s drug addiction, and the ongoing battle to maintain self-esteem against an inverse of Snow White’s evil queen’s mirror on the wall – the “reflection” of the title.

A review of The Principle by Jérôme Ferrari

Perhaps, by working on the atomic bomb, Heisenberg undermines the beauty he lives for; Ferrari refuses to let judgement be the last word. Instead, he tells a story, not unlike a letter, the overall effect of which is a sweeping, panoramic view of both the internal workings of one’s soul, as well as the wide scope of science in modern history, in short, the quantum effect.

A review of Position Doubtful by Kim Mahood

The writing is exquisite, poetic, and very detailed. Mahood’s observations are often minute explorations: a delicate rock formation, the texture of a rope, the sound of grass crunching under the feet, a sunrise, the smell of cooking, or an empathic exploration of a companion’s discomfort. Though Position Doubtful is sophisticated, charged as it is by ethical considerations, the political impact of government policy, and a deep-seated understanding – both visceral and intellectual – of the ethics of colonial occupation, power struggles, and feminist discourse, it’s also a personal journey and deeply moving.

A review of Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi wisely narrowed the scope of his book by telling the stories of five exceptional American leaders who greatly influenced the progression, side by side, of racist ideas through segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists throughout America’s entire history. These Americans are the minister Cotton Mather, Pres. Thomas Jefferson, politician William Lloyd Garrison, writer W.E.B. Du Bois, and antiracist activist Angela Davis.

A review of If I Can Make It There, I Can Make It Anywhere by M. Stefan Strozier

Have you ever wondered how to go about producing a play or musical theatre? In New York? Though I’m sure it’s difficult, Strozier makes the process of producing plays and musical theatre in the Big Apple seem relatively easy – breaking it down into its key components and providing a very clear and quite thorough set of instructions for each component.

A review of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

This is an important subject treated with seriousness by the author, who is a journalist of some standing and the author of three other books. The title is somewhat misleading, however, as the librarians are not so much ‘bad-ass’ as courageous and dedicated to their quest to save centuries-old Islamic and secular manuscripts on a range of topics from destruction by militants of Al Qaeda.

A review of Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole

Known and Strange Things, the title coming from Seamus Heaney, is structured by division into four sections: Reading Things; Seeing Things; Being There; and Epilogue. Cole notes that the book contains ‘some of my most vital enthusiasms’ as well as pieces on the new, and that he was testing his knowledge and its limits. He left as much out as he included, and could have produced a second book with the excluded.

A review of Beginning French by Les Américains

The writing is so descriptive and uncomplicated that is easy to imagine accompanying the family as they go from one lesson to the next. We go with them to buy furniture, buy food at the hypermarket, get the boiler fixed and tag along on their trips to the Dordogne and some wonderful French towns and villages. We experience the history, the culture and the environment through Marty and Eileen’s exquisite travelogues and memories. And if you think I have forgotten to mention the French food then you are in for a huge surprise.

A review of The Vimy Trap by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift

The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place almost one hundred years ago, on April 9, 1917, as part of the Battle of Arras launched by British and French forces against those of Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany, to divert them from other fronts. The British and French had attempted to take the ridge and had failed. The Canadian Corps, part of the British Expeditionary Force, succeeded, with heavy casualties.

A review of Ain’t U Got No Manners by Kristin Johnson

Despite the relaxed, humorous and conversational tone, the subject is serious. With Facebook, Instagram, Google (including its search engine), Twitter, Snapchat, Skype and email all linking up, nearly everything that goes online is more or less in the public domain. An ill-thought through or offensive post can get you fired, can wreck your home life, can lose you friends, and even get you arrested.