Book Review: The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill

I’m the first to admit writing a book review is not my forté, but once in a while I read something so extraordinary I am compelled to sing its praises. The Movement Of Star by Amy Brill is such a book, and deserving of much better accolades than I am capable.

Set in the mid-1800’s on the island of Nantucket, we are taken along on a woman’s journey of self-discovery. Having lived the insular life of a devotee in the Quaker community, Hannah Price–comet seeker, is unprepared to have the very roots of her faith shaken much less unearthed. Yet, she finds her mind opened and her beliefs challenged by the most unlikely of contenders-Issac, a dark-skinned whaler seeking knowledge of the stars.

I love where this story goes. To be witness to the strength and fortitude it takes Hannah in accepting the challenges to her belief system and exploring the new avenues of possibilities is exhilarating. Juxtaposing her and Issac’s opportunities and the differences in how the world presses it mores and will upon them is emotional, and intense. I found the characters well-drawn and moving, and the settings visually arresting.

This book is beautifully written, and smartly tailored. A complex and layered story whose language is fluid and rides along as if a sea. Amy Brill captures exactly what I imagine life was like for a woman of Hannah’s station. This story feels unique, complete, and satisfying.

I also appreciate Amy’s explanation for the inspiration of this story, the real life lady-astronomer, Maria Mitchell.

You can read a much better, and more comprehensive book review at: Bookmagnet’s Blog

 

 

Recommended: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

I’m not exactly going out on a limb here in recommending a book I haven’t read yet since I’m sure I’m going to love it (I did!). I already love this woman, her message and her willingness to share what she’s learned.

You can get a feel for her and what she has to say on her website here and watch her brilliant TED talks on vulnerability here and shame here. Check out the book trailer for Daring Greatly.

“Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.” Brené Brown

Some who’ve read the book and reviewed it—Sarah Pinneo on Blurb is a Verb and The Pioneer Woman’s review.

As soon as I get my hands on it I’ll let you know if it does indeed deserve my blind recommendation. I have so much faith in her message I just couldn’t wait for you to hear about it.

UPDATE: Of course I loved it. I highly recommend it.

Reviews or Recommendations?

On my list of things to blog about I had some notes on why I don’t trust book reviews, and the pros and cons of posting my own reviews. It seems to be hot topic on twitter of late. Just a few weeks ago, blogger/writer Nina Badzin wrote a very interesting article, Why I Don’t Trust Book Reveiws Online. Her take, which I basically agree with, is that online reviews are untrustworthy.

This morning, reinforcing that view, was this article, RJ Ellroy’s Secret Amazon Reviews Anger Rivals. It’s about a writer posting under a fake name, trashing other writer’s books and praising his own. The bastard. All to common too.

What’s A Reader To Do?

Because I’m not shy about writing on subjects political, that many, many people hide behind the anonymity the web affords one, is no shocker to me. It seems to predispose some to more petulant behavior than they would other wise indulge in. We teach our children not to say online what you wouldn’t say to someone face, for a reason. Adults should heed this too. I’d like to say I’m surprised by the vileness you find in the comment sections of most news sites but I’m not.

Which is why I struggle with anonymous authorship. I know it’s not as simple as not allowing it. The reality is there’s a need to protect ones identity in certain situations. For example: a friend was the victim of domestic abuse and stalked to the point where she had to move out of state and change her name. While I sympathize with those who hold positions where their personal beliefs could jeopardize their careers, I’d rather we required full disclosure of ones identity hoping it would foster a higher level accountability for what we say online and in print. Real names. Real consequences.

I like to imagine the ugliness would be lessened, perhaps even the political discussions would be less heated, more focused on solutions rather than name calling, and the truth more readily apparent. But, truth is subjective, and ugly people say ugly things, and always will. How else explain Rush Limbaugh? So maybe nothing would really change. But I digress, back to books.

Who Do You Trust?

How you find reviews that have veracity and relevancy to you?

What’s worked for me is to familiarizing myself with Goodreads reviewers. It’s easy enough to uncover like-minded readers on there than search for book and read the random reviews on the big bookseller site’s where reviews are too anonymous, too untrustworthy.

Once I’ve found my fellow readers I search what books they have in their to-read list for anything that looks interesting. I also add them to my friends list so I can get updates when they post new reviews.

There are plenty of bloggers, writers, and critics who review works online but it takes some effort to find the ones that speak to you. The advantage to taking the time to find them is, once you do so you have a trusted reliable source.

The reality is people still get most recommendations from friends and family. Second best, a local bookstore. There you can get to know the proprietor and staff most of whom have recommend reading lists. The better they get to know you, the more precise their selections and recommendation.  Don’t forget your local libraries either. Librarians are readers too and are happy to help you find new and interesting material to read.

Reviews or Recommendations?

The question still on the table is, should I review books for my blog? I think for now, the answer is no. I do post what passes for reviews on Goodreads. To be clear though, these are not detailed critiques. I don’t write a synopsis because it’s right there above my review.

What I do share is my feelings about the book, what I think about the plot, the characters, very subjective stuff not an too much analysis of the author skill, though I will comment on obvious flaws just to warn you. I suggest you read my reviews to see what I mean. Run through the list of books I’ve read to see if you agree with my assessments. If you do, then you’ll likely enjoy the books I recommend.

Eventually, I’ll make a page devoted to those I trust as reviewers.

For now, I will post recommendations here and links to my reviews on Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

Recommended: My Book Reviews

I occasionally write reviews on Goodreads. When I have new ones I’ll post a link of my recommended books here.

The Future of Recommended Books

There has been a discussion around the blog-sphere concerning author quid pro quo marketing that leaves readers questioning whether they can trust reviews.

These are legitimate (a word here that means “justified”, in case you are a Republican representative from Missouri) concerns. I myself do not trust the big book seller’s starred reviews anymore.

My end-run is to build a list of reviewers whose opinions I trust. I typical start at Goodreads to see what my friends are reviewing/reading.

The more venues you peruse the more likely it is that you will find reviewers whose opinions you can respect and trust. Some of my favorite reviews come from these bloggers, publications or websites:

Diane Prokop

The Rumpus

NPR

Lithub

I don’t read much science fiction or fantasy so it’s especially import for me to trust the reviewers opinion. These guys are funny too.

Elitist Book Reviews