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Content by Mark Nenadov
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Reviews Written by
Mark Nenadov "arm-chair reader" (Essex, Ontario Canada)
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Life Itself: A Memoir
Life Itself: A Memoir
by Roger Ebert
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from CDN$ 2.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Generally Enjoyed It, Aug. 13 2013
This review is from: Life Itself: A Memoir (Hardcover)
This is a frank and candid memoir by the film critic Roger Ebert, written well after cancer had ravaged his body. I came into this book knowing a bit about his career, but little about him as a person.

Ebert comes across as a quite ordinary man, someone who you'd love to sit down and chat with. Even though he and I have widely divergent views on God and the meaning of life, I've come to respect his simple and straightforward demeanor paired with a great deal of courage and determination.

My favourite quote from this book was: "The main thing wrong with a movie that is 10 years old is that it isn't 30 years old".

I very much enjoyed the parts about his medical condition, Gene Siskel, and Martin Scorsese.

That said, I found the quality of this memoir a bit uneven at times. The name dropping is reasonable, given this is a memoir about a film critic. However, some of the book has the feel of a patchwork of blog posts, assembled somewhat haphazardly. Perhaps that was the effect he was going for, it has the feel of a "volume of memoirs", rather than a single memoir. My theory is that he didn't get the same level of editing scrutiny that someone of lower stature would have received, and that may explain the disjointed nature of a few sections.


Chaser
Chaser
by Erin Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.95
9 used & new from CDN$ 8.34

2.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Moments, But.., Aug. 9 2013
This review is from: Chaser (Paperback)
I must confess, despite being intrigued with the concept and making every effort to like this book and finding some brilliant lines, I'm a bit disappointed. The book, as a whole, fell flat for me. "The Tulipomania" is an exception. Marvelous from the first line to the last. I think I could read that poem over and over again.


The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden
The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! One of the best books I've read in a while.., June 26 2013
What a fantastic book! This book is well written, drop-dead hilarious and had me glued to each page. Think A.J. Jacobs on a crazily ambitious gardening experiment.

William Alexander has a likeable persona, but his garden plans and activities make you wonder if he's just simply insane. It's particularly fantastic reading if you've done a little gardening themselves! I personally would have read several hundred more pages of this stuff. It's 270 pages, but I wish there were more!


The Complete Letters of Mark Twain
The Complete Letters of Mark Twain
by Mark Twain
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 34.22
13 used & new from CDN$ 30.46

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gold Mine, June 7 2013
A fantastic, exhaustive collection of Twain's letters. It is, though, probably more than your average person would appreciate reading. So, even though there's really good letters in here, reading the whole thing is probably only for serious Twain-heads.


The ballads of Marko Kraljevic,
The ballads of Marko Kraljevic,
by David Halyburton, Low
Edition: Hardcover
3 used & new from CDN$ 799.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, June 7 2013
This is epic Serbian poetry about an era in the late 14th century, after the Battle of Kosovo during a period of Turkish subjugation. Marko was a real character, but these tales are obviously folk legends.

These are heroic tales, mainly about the strength of a prince and night named Marko Kraljevic. It is fairly obvious that in many ways these epic poems or ballads are intended to project the Serbian nation's early history and hopes and fears unto the character of Marko Krajlovic. Actors include Serbians, Croatians, Albanians, Turks (including the Sultan himself), and Arabs. Included are tales of exploits, honor, wine, defending the disadvantaged, justice, revenge, and certainly some egregious and wanton violence. Marko, when fighting his enemies, certainly loves to double their number (through creative use of his sabre). There is also some subtle and well-played humor.

Overall, I found the tales quite engaging, if a little brutal and unbelievable at times. The translation reads pretty well and there are helpful little translation notes and other contextual notes to help the reader understand.


Penguin Classics a Little Learning
Penguin Classics a Little Learning
by Evelyn Waugh
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from CDN$ 8.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, May 31 2013
This is the first and only volume of an unfinished autobiography. It masterfully covers Waugh's youth, including his genealogy, parent's life, early upbringing, school boy days, days at Oxford, and his working life as a young adult. While it isn't a book I'd re-read, it was a pleasure to read and I'm glad I read it. On rare occasions, it got slightly tedious, but there were quite a few excellent nuggets to make up for that.


My Ideal Bookshelf
My Ideal Bookshelf
by Thessaly La Force
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.12
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.82

3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings (Love/Hate), May 12 2013
This review is from: My Ideal Bookshelf (Hardcover)
This is an amazingly creative and fresh book idea. Get a bunch of people together. Then get them to list their “ideal bookshelf”. Then they write an essay and you juxtapose it with an illustration of the book spines in a shelf configuration.

So, how did the concept actually play out? I have mixed feelings. The execution was not as strong as the concept.

On the positive side, as a book lover, I truly enjoyed much of the book. It gave me chills down my spine at times. Many of the essays were delightful and the illustrations very well done. Even though I hadn't heard of many of these people nor the books they liked, they sucked me in. I loved perusing the shelves and then reading the essays. I liked the random books that were turned the wrong way, or upside down. I was surprised to see how many shelves included Flannery O'Connor. She obviously deserves a spot among the great writers of the U.S., but I never would have guessed she'd appear so often!

On the negative side, the essays are of uneven quality. There are a few truly genius ones, many good ones, and a number are very poorly written and uninspired. James Patterson's essay was irrelevant, off-topic, and annoyingly self-congratulatory. You get the sense that they had to include him because he's so important. And that he agrees wholeheartedly.

The representation from certain vocations is also sort of funky. I understand why there are so many writers, editors, and book cover designers, but I don't understand why there is such a high proportion of chefs, fashion designers, or interior designers. I have nothing about them (bless their heart), but the imbalance gives the book a weird bulge in certain areas. The first few cooks were really fresh and interesting, but it quickly got tedious to read essay after essay about cooking. Also, this imbalance led to an unfortunate omissions (or, at least, under-representation) of certain vocations.

As an aside, the Bible, and religious classics, such as Pilgrim's Progress, were woefully under-represented and there were no clergypersons or theologians represented.

On a much more minor note, the inclusions of books that have no spine, while introducing some authenticity, became distracting eventually, especially when they became more prevalent.

You'd probably enjoy this if you are a serious book-lover., the extent to which it annoys you may vary based on your tastes and level of fussiness. In the final analysis, I'm glad I read this book, but if I were to read it again, I'd probably skip large swaths of it, jumping to the most delightful entries.


Jaccuse
Jaccuse
by Aharon Shabtai
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.50
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Poetry, May 8 2013
This review is from: Jaccuse (Paperback)
Poetry from a prominent contemporary Hebrew poet. I enjoyed the rich imagery Very interesting and heartfelt poetry. He's very critical of the perpetual state of war and his nation's contributions to it.


Crazy Love (Miniature Edition): Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Crazy Love (Miniature Edition): Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
by Francis Chan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 6.95
13 used & new from CDN$ 0.45

2.0 out of 5 stars Helpful In Some Areas, But Overall Unimpressive, May 8 2013
I have mixed feelings--some aspects are helpful, others are less so. If you take it with a grain of salt, you'll find some good things to mull over. That said, I found it to be downright poorly written.


Dandelion Fire
Dandelion Fire
by N. D. Wilson
Edition: Library Binding
Price: CDN$ 24.24
13 used & new from CDN$ 17.48

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, But I Liked The First Book Better, May 8 2013
This review is from: Dandelion Fire (Library Binding)
Back in the summer of 2012, I read the first book in this series, 100 Cupboards. I reviewed it very favorably.

I found that I enjoyed this book quite a bit less. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily saying this is worse, just considerably different. It is still very clear that N.D. Wilson is a brilliant writer.

Part of it may be that I was caught off-guard by the moods shift. Dandelion Fire is far more complex, dark, urgent, and moody. It departs from the simplicity and quiet intrigue of 100 Cupboards.

I found that 100 Cupboard's storyline caught me decisively. I followed it and very much felt part of the story. With Dandelion Fire, I enjoyed many individual twists and turns of the plot and I enjoyed Wilson's skilled imagery and technical skill with words, but I couldn't really "grab on" to the story line--I felt alienated from it for some reason.


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