Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The QuarryThe Quarry by Iain Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Iain Banks being my favorite writer, this being his last book, and the circumstances (Banks finding out he was dying of cancer after he wrote the book). “The Quarry” holds a little more meaning for me than most books I have read. On the Surface “The Quarry” is about a man dying of Cancer and one last weekend spent with his friends. For me the story is about more than dealing with dying it’s also about the living and life going on. All the character in “The Quarry” are complex and real. Most are not likable and all are flawed. Guy (the one dying) sort of blackmails his friends to visit him by mentioning an old video that would be embarrassing to all, he mentions they might want to look for it before he dies. The story is mainly told through Guy’s adult son/caregiver who is slightly autistic or has asperger’s syndrome. A point of view that allows you to see the situation from both the inside and the outside. The story from the inside is about his dad dying and what it’s like to deal with it up close and personal, the outside is watching how his dad’s friends (several are “A” holes) deal with it and with each other. I liked “The Quarry” a lot and really enjoy the depth of the characters and their flaws.

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Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver

Blue Horses: PoemsBlue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won this book as a “first reads” from Goodreads. This is also the first book by Mary Oliver that I have read, but it won’t be the last. The poems in “Blue Horses” are short, sweet and have a Zen like feel of mindfulness. As a reader I was able to feel and experience her connection with nature, the beauty, and peace that surrounds her. After I read the last poem I did something that I had never done before, I didn’t close the book I just turned back to the beginning and began again. I shared the book with my wife and she loved it as much as I did, now we both are looking forward to reading more of Mary Oliver’s work.

If there is a negative to “Blue Horses” it is that it is too short (less than 100 pages). Recommend to anyone who likes poetry or would like to start reading poetry.

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Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday LifePeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thích Nhất Hạnh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful read, wish I had read it long ago. “Peace In Every Step” gives you the building blocks to finding peace, mindfulness, and making the world a better place for everyone. It all starts with conscious breathing and a smile, it’s that easy. Every step after is just as easy, the only catch is that you have to practice the steps.

I’m not a Buddhist and even after reading this wonderful book I have no desire to become one. However, I feel that no matter what religion or spirituality you follow or don’t follow, this book is worth the read. And that everyone that does read it will be closer to peace, more mindful and a little more enlightened.

I am not one for mandatory reading lists but if I ever made such a list “Peace In Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh would not only be on that list but it would be towards the top of that list.

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The Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi, Thomas Merton (translator)

The Way of Chuang TzuThe Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After finishing and enjoying “Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings” I was still hungry for more Taoist writings. “The Way of Chuang Tzu” satisfied that hunger. It has many more “poems” and stories to help direct the reader towards the Tao. There was some overlap in stories between the two books but I feel that both should be read. Again I was all ready familiar with many of the stories but they are stories worth reading again and reading them from the original source. Some of my favorite stories are: Flight from the shadow, The useless, True man, and Chuang Tzu’s funeral. If you are interested in Tao, Zen, Buddhism or just looking to explore alternative ways of thinking this book has something for you. A great book to read and read again.

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Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings by Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson

Chuang Tzu: Basic WritingsChuang Tzu: Basic Writings by Chaung Tzu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over the years I have read many books about Tao, and I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first book I have read by Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu was one of the earliest and most prolific writers on Tao/Taoism. Several of the stories in this book I have heard/read versions of in other books. Some of my favorites are “The Useless Tree”, “3 In The Morning”, and “Training a Cock to Fight”. Even though these stories along with several others were already known to me it was nice to read them as written by Chuang Tzu (translated by Burton Watson). Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings is poetic, humorous and will help direct the reader to the Way, it also left me wanting to read more of Chuang Tzu’s writings.

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The Monk by Mathew Gregory Lewis

The MonkThe Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Monk” was written over 200 years ago. Mathew Gregory Lewis later revised it to avoid charges of blasphemy. The edition I read is based on the original, before it was revised, and is the one I recommend.

There was a tipping point for me in “The Monk” somewhere between page 30 and 50 where the story went from feeling a little disappointing to totally engrossing. The Characters became alive and the story rich and full. The story twisted and turned to unexpected places. “The Monk” known for it’s violence and eroticism is a complex story about about abuse of power. Filled with violence, rape, murder, witchcraft, demons, and ghosts. The heart of evil is laid open for the reader to explore. I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say that the heart of evil belongs to man.

The eroticism and the violence in “The Monk” would be considered tame compared to books published today.

Being over 200 years old, the language is archaic, but it is beautiful, using words like unclose in place of open or peruse in place of read. I recommend that you gain possession of “The Monk”, unclose the book and peruse it’s pages, seated on your sopha or laid upon your couch.

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Mr. Trill in Hades & other stories by Iain crichton smith

MR Trill in Hades & Other StoriesMR Trill in Hades & Other Stories by Iain Crichton Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title alone was enough to get me to pull this off the shelf and give it a read. A short short stories collection that turned out to be a nice surprise. All of the stories had a teacher and/or a school in them yet the variety of the stories were wide. The stories ranged everywhere from a relationship between a boy and his step-father (a teacher) to a horror story that really sets a mood of terror for some kids in a school after dark. As with most books of short stories, there were some hits and some misses. Many of the stories I found to be just so-so,even though the writing was still great, but a couple of the stories really made this book worth a read and the stories really stuck with me, especially the horror story.

As for recommending it I would suggest that if you run across it pick it up and enjoy, but I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that you run out and buy it right away.

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