The Best Tent Camping Guide by Darren Kirby
 

The Best Tent Camping Guide: From Novice To Expert by Darren Kirby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In The Best Tent Camping Guide: From Novice To Expert, Darren Kirby offers many excellent tips for the prospective camper, beginning with a list of items to bring (and not to bring) on your first camping trip.

Unlike many how-to or self-help books, the author of this book comes off as a friend or mentor rather than an authority figure. He takes you by the hand and gently guides you through the process, from your very first thoughts of camping all the way to the moment you take the next prospective camper under your experienced wing.

I enjoyed the conversational tone of this book, and the information and advice contained within it is sound. Although the grammatical errors can be distracting at times, the writing is good overall. I would recommend this book to someone who is thinking of camping.

***I received a review copy of this book; however, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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~ Michael C. Sahd

Lord of the Flies by William Golding Book Cover

 

 
 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Spoiler alert**

A group of young children survive a plane crash on an uninhabited island. Quickly, the survivors attempt to recreate civilization by creating a tribe and voting for a leader. The tribe quickly dissolves into anarchy. Only a handful of the children grasp onto civilization and rationale through the entire book. By the end of the book, most of the children have lost their innocence and degraded into barbarians.

The book illustrates a great adventure story with plenty of action. I can’t say I cared for William Golding’s writing style, but the story and the meaning behind it makes this book well worth the read. Lord of the Flies symbolically shows the bestial nature of the human race.

The symbols that I found the most interesting were:

  • First, the title, Lord of the Flies, is the translation for Beelzebub (a demon, and in some cases, Satan). I understand that Beelzebub is the demon of decay and famine, symbolizing what happens to the children’s innocence and sense of civility while on the island.
  • Piggy, the one child in the book who insists on civilization, is a pudgy, asthmatic, almost-blind boy. Ironically (or perhaps predictably), he is also the most intelligent and rational. I understand a person like Piggy needs civilization to survive, but I think the portrait of this character says something about a different kind of decay when humans depend too much on civilization.
  • Finally, the children are rescued by the British Navy, which is off to go fight in one of the bloodiest wars in history. I believe this rescue is to tie together how the story told on the island reflects the degradation of humanity as a whole.

Overall, I give this book four stars because it is amazing, despite the distracting writing style. Leave me a comment to let me know what you thought of this book, or of my review.

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~ Michael C. Sahd

The Liars' Asylum by Jacob M. Appel Book Cover

The Liars’ Asylum by Jacob M. Appel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Liars’ Asylum offers a brief glimpse into the characters’ lives, often leaving the reader with many questions unanswered. I assume that this is the purpose of the writer, encouraging the reader to think about the stories and their potential endings long after the story itself is over; however, I believe that some of them could easily be expanded into a longer work. On the other hand, perhaps some, if not all, of the stories are exactly what they appear — a moment in time, just one sample of one character’s life, but which changes the course of his or her life forever.

Jacob M. Appel’s writing is consistently clear and interesting. Each story flows seamlessly until its end, which sometimes comes with little warning. Overall, I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for short, entertaining stories to read.

***I received a review copy of this book; however, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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~ Michael C. Sahd

Wedding Wipeout book

Wedding Wipeout by Jacob M. Appel
My rating (on Goodreads): 4 out of 5 stars

The old rabbi who leads us by the hand through Wedding Wipeout wears many hats, posing at various times as an FBI agent (impersonating a federal agent much?), a police detective, and more. In this interesting religious twist on the classic mystery story, Jacob M. Appel takes a cue from both Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring an unusual detective (a rabbi, in this case), his somehow-less-worldly protégé, a complicated plot line, and alternating periods of action and reflection.

The story and characters in this book will keep you interested until the end (as long as you don’t mind familiarizing yourself with a bit of Jewish vocabulary/culture). If you enjoy a good mystery, give this book a read. Be sure to let me know what you think!

*** I received a review copy of this book; however, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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~ Michael C. Sahd

Beloved
Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison
My rating (on Goodreads): 4 out of 5 stars

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and that definitely applies to Beloved! When I first saw the book, I thought, “Oh crap! A romance novel.” I was way off. In spite of its ambiguous cover, Beloved is actually a ghost story, resulting from the desperate actions of Sethe, an escaped female slave.

Readers may debate whether Sethe makes good decisions; however, regardless of right or wrong, her actions come back to haunt her, literally. I don’t want to give away the story to prospective readers, but I will say that this book isn’t for everyone. Filled with dream sequences, flashbacks, and memories Beloved flip flops through time in a manner reminiscent of William Faulkner or Virginia Woolf. Love it or hate it, don’t skip reading it.

On a side note: the movie is horrible. No Hollywood flick could ever encompass the grittiness and raw emotion captured by the book. But don’t take my word for it: Read it, watch it, rate it! Let me know what you think.

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~ Michael C. Sahd