Showing posts from January, 2016

What makes a teaching read?

Some books include facts so naturally you wonder afterward where you learned these things. Experiencing life like a different character, we learn, perhaps, where snow falls deepest or how to soothe the savage beast. But other books offer their lessons more directly, like children's picture books with a moral to tell. Of course, if the book happens to be a children's picture book, the lesson's expected. But how much information is too much information in a novel? Or, at the other end of the scale, how much information is needed to make the situation real? Is it a question of teaching the right things, or how they're taught, that makes the difference between an enthralling read and a teaching one? I'd love to know what you think. Meanwhile, here are some more book reviews of stories read in the period around and after Christmas. Pull up a chair, pour a coffee, and remember the ratings are for what sort of coffee (and read), not what brand or value. Off the Chart by

What makes a soothing, gentle read?

Some books haunt you with thought-provoking questions and characters. Some relax you with the familiar. Some annoy. Some... well, maybe books are like friends and inspire the whole gamut of emotions. But today's reviews are of books by "old favorite" authors - which is not to the say the authors are old - just that their books are well-read. I know before I open the pages that I'm in for a pleasant ride, that I'll meet a wealth of pleasing characters, that I won't be taken too far from the comfort of my thoughts... but these aren't books that pander - they're too slick to be gentlemanly, and make for sugar-coated reads. So that's the different between soothingly gentle, and sugar. Perhaps it's the spice. A soothing gentle read has to have some spice to bring it to life. Alexander McCall Smith is a favorite for me. The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe fitted the bill as soothingly gentle - never letting me worry that things wouldn't somehow

What makes a real read?

Did you get any books for Christmas? Print books? Ebooks? Real books? Or are all books real? I've just been offered the chance to review the next book in a series  I love. The author asked if I wanted print or kindle, and I just knew I'd love to have a print copy. But that wouldn't be fair would it? I write enough to know it's free, or almost free, to share a kindle copy. But print and postage involve the payment of cash. So is that what makes writing real - the hard cash behind it? Or perhaps the payment in blood sweat and tears over the keyboard. The author told me she too prefers print. "Print novels stay in the mind longer," said she, which got me wondering the whys behind that too. Is it that tactile memory thing, like knowing where the keypad buttons are for a phone number, without knowing the digits? Is it the look of the cover, so easily ignored when reading an e-book? Or is it something to do with the fact that a book would never be in print unles

Sex Greed Drug-Abuse and Chicago's North Shore

Today I'm delighted to welcome Dean Economos, author of A North Shore Story, to my blog. It's an intriguing, fairly short YA novel, set among the high-schoolers of Chicago, where... well, you'll have to read on to find out... Welcome Dean, and over to you. Sex. Greed. Drug-abuse, by Dean Economos Now that I have your attention... Everyone has a hidden vice. We hate to admit it to others; sometimes worse, we hate to admit it to ourselves. We’re attracted to the allure of it, kind of like how you kept reading this blog post after I named a few common vices. Yet we hide our obsessions in secrecy like an addict and, at the end of the day, get engulfed into the lies we’ve created. A North Shore Story is a combination of three storylines intertwined into one. It includes adolescent struggles, like the ones named in the first line, as well as love and relationships. It delves into how the consequences of one’s actions can affect the other people in their lives. V