Kest S. (kesterbird) - Reviews

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The Alice Behind Wonderland
The Alice Behind Wonderland
Author: Simon Winchester
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 7/1/2017


when one spends a great deal of time with creative sorts, one finds oneself collecting certain phrases; phrases that sound like compliments but are not exactly lies if a compliment is not deserved. There's is the quintessential "What an interesting painting!" but that's old hat and too easily seen through. One moves on to such words as "spectacular" (after all, a train wreck IS a spectacle) and "I am so impressed that you got that published!"

On the back of this book, as one of the blurbs, there is a masterpiece of the genre I speak of. "An extraordinary tale, and Simon Winchester could not have told it better"

This is accurate. Sadly, there are many other folks who COULD have told it better.


Arabian Nights and Days
Arabian Nights and Days
Author: Naguib Mahfouz
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 8/11/2017


As lush, fun, and problematic as the work it is based on. More than worth reading.


Beowulf
Beowulf
Author: Chris Ryall, Gabriel Rodriguez, Mark A. Nelson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/23/2017


This is a maddeningly awful retelling of Beaowulf, perfectly epitomized by the depiction of Grendal's mother as a perky-boobed blond lady whose only non-human trait is that her feet and legs are just naturally formed like tall highheels.

It's really just stupid, but there's a lot more cleavage than the original, which seems to be what they were banking on.


The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell (Cat Who...Bk 28)
The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell (Cat Who...Bk 28)
Author: Lilian Jackson Braun
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 143
Review Date: 5/16/2017


My neighbor did some spray painting and the smell was something else. I grabbed a coat and left. But it was 11 pm, I live in a small town, and I hadn't brought any entertainment, so I stopped by the little free library and picked up this book, which seemed like the best bet. I think I made the wrong choice.

This book is sincerely awful. If it's supposed to be a mystery, it is lacking both suspense and resolution. If it's supposed to be a small town drama, it's missing any sort of appealing characters. If it's supposed to be a silly, relaxing read, there's a lot of (truly random) death. I cannot for the life of me think who the target audience could possibly be- all I know is that it isn't me.

NOTE: this book takes less time to read than my workshop takes to air out, and I read the whole thing, came home disappointed, and was yet more disappointed to discover that the place still smelled of paint


The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales / With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket
Review Date: 6/7/2017


Most of the stories are three star stories. There's a smattering of 2 stars, and a smattering of four stars, and even a few five and ones. Averages out to a solid three. I am subtracting a whole star though, because the illustrations that are supposed to be the thread tying this whole thing together are pretty terrible. Not even bad enough to be interesting, just.... really and truly and utterly missable. No one will remember these drawings after the book is closed


Clockwork: Or All Wound Up
Clockwork: Or All Wound Up
Author: Philip Pullman
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/12/2017


This story is aesthetically pleasing. It is no more, or less, problematic than any other german fairytale, and fits right in with the tradition of the Grimms.


The Comet and You
The Comet and You
Author: Edwin C. Krupp, Robin Rector Krupp (Illustrator)
Book Type: School & Library Binding
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/12/2017


The illustrations in this book are FABULOUS. just fabulous. Facts are presented in a good way for... I dunno, say 8-14? Maybe even a wider range, I don't hang out with a lot of kids.


Dr. Nightingale Rides the Elephant (Deirdre Quinn Nightingale, Bk 2)
Review Date: 6/14/2017


I'm not a huge fan of mysteries, but I like a good straightforward read on occasion, and this was fitting the bill nicely until we got to the denouement. Are we allowed to do spoilers here? I'm about to do one. Stop reading if you don't want to see it. But seriously, am I to believe that there's a gem shop in Thailand producing high quality, well cut rubies, and that they cannot find buyers except by sneaking the stones in by circus? Even if one takes into account full import duties, the significantly lower price that a stone without provenance fetches means they're still losing out. I was expecting some sort of explanation for WHY anyone would be dealing in stones this way, and turned the page to find.... the book was over. Am I being pedantic? Maybe. But I feel like this mystery is a bigger one than the one solved in the book, and I'm disappointed.


The Everlasting Story of Nory
The Everlasting Story of Nory
Author: Nicholson Baker
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/18/2017


If you are the type of person who generally finds children to be charming, you will likely be utterly charmed by this book.

If however, you are like me, and find most children to be tiresome, you will find this book tiresome.

The writing really does brilliantly capture the voice of a precocious child. Points for craftsmanship.


The Funny Little Woman
The Funny Little Woman
Author: Arlene Mosel
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/8/2017


a sweet story about a dauntless old lady; it's nice to have a hero who isn't a strapping young lad. The illustrations are great.


The Girl the Fish and the Crown: A Spanish Folktale
The Girl the Fish and the Crown: A Spanish Folktale
Author: Marilee Heyer
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/8/2017


Super pretty, and points for having an oarfish hanging out with the sea queen.


The Graveyard Book
The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 53
Review Date: 8/25/2017


cute, clever, and not particularly demanding.


The Help
The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2431
Review Date: 7/22/2017


The characters are well written. The small stories are great. But the big story: the one where one niave but well meaning white lady somehow "saves" a whole town full of black women- that one is the sort of wishful thinking that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

I was not at all surprised, upon finishing the book, to read a note from the author that she had been raised by a black maid, and that she feels a lot of guilt there. This whole book was about her guilt, more than it was about anything else.


In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal
In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 7/25/2017


I've had this book traveling around on my shelves for over a decade (my notes say that I picked it up at the Newton dump when taking the recycling down for my old fabrication job). It took me this long to figure out how to read it.
I like to give short stories their proper due- to read one in a sitting, and let it sit for a bit before reading the next. These stories, though are SO short- between one and four pages, they take no more than a few minutes to read, and yet each still deserves the proper time to think about it. I finally got it.
This book is the best bathroom reading I have ever had. It's improved my days for several months, one or two stories a day. I will go back to reading dumb comics in the bathroom, now that I've finished it, but I will miss the brief moments of beauty that this book imparted on my day.
As always with an anthology, some stories grabbed me more than others, but the average is pretty high, here.


Jed's Junior Space Patrol
Jed's Junior Space Patrol
Author: Jean Marzollo, Claudio Marzollo
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 6/25/2017


This is a TRULY strange book. Even in the wrold of I-tired-to-write-a-kid's-book-but-ended-up-with-postmodern-surealist-horror; this one stands out.


Lions (Houghton Mifflin Reader)
Review Date: 8/30/2017


This is a two star picture book, but it gets an extra star for POC in positions of authority in a book that was published in 1970


The Little Mermaid (Blue Ribbon)
The Little Mermaid (Blue Ribbon)
Author: H. C. Andersen, Anthea Bell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/8/2017


very pretty watercolour illustrations, same story as always


The Maestro Plays
The Maestro Plays
Author: Bill Martin Jr
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/8/2017


Very colourful, good for reading aloud with help from small readers


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 67
Review Date: 8/24/2017


You know those ads that spend 7/8 of their airtime convincing you that something you never thought was an issue is actually your biggest problem, and 1/8 of their airtime telling you that their product will fix it? This is the book form of that.It's just as annoying, but takes more than three minutes to sit through.

-confession- this review is based on only the first couple chapters, as staring at a white wall is both more interesting, and more likely to engender insights and intellectual breakthroughs, and I opted to do that rather than keep reading.


Redeye : A Western
Redeye : A Western
Author: Clyde Edgerton
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 7/1/2017


It would take real effort and skill to make this story horrendously boring. Unluckily for us, Mr. Edgerton has that skill


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