Book 570: Romeo for Real (Romeo & Julian #1) – Markus Harwood-Jones

This book and the next book are companion novels, so they are intertwined. They are also apparently hi/lo novels, novels “intended for reluctant and struggling readers. As such it is fast-paced, short, and uses high interest content with simple vocabulary to keep these readers engaged.” And even knowing this I’m not sure they hit the mark.

I grabbed copies of these from NetGalley last month and only just got around to reading them in early August* because who doesn’t love an LGBT retelling of a classic? I know I do. Unfortunately, this part of the story, at least to my memory, was at such a minimum and tangential level it didn’t really work for me. It mostly came across in the main character’s names, Romeo Montague and Julian Capulet, and the very short time frame of the book.

Continue reading “Book 570: Romeo for Real (Romeo & Julian #1) – Markus Harwood-Jones”


Book 51: The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson

The Finkler Question - Howard JacobsonI’m not sure how to review this book. I’m surprised I’ve not heard more about it, but simultaneously not in the least bit surprised I’ve heard so little about it. I don’t know anything about the author and the only reason I know this book is because it beat Emma Donoghue’s Room for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. I read it because it was the first book I came across on my new Kindle (see I got a Kindle!!!) under $5.

This book is about being Jewish, or wanting to be Jewish in today’s London. It’s hard to say what was good and what was bad about The Finkler Question. There were times where the comedic and playfulness of the novel bordered on irreverent or even blasphemous. I definitely recommend reading it as it was a hell of a lot easier than most of the other Man Booker Prize novels I’ve read and is about a fascinating subject. There are quite a few quotes thanks to the Kindle’s Notes feature. I recommend checking them out as they might give a better idea of the breadth of the novel than this review.

Click here for quotes and to continue reading.

Culture Corner, Updates

Oh Hey, Big City Part 2…

As I mentioned on Tuesday, Marge Piercy would be reading at the Brookline Booksmith last night. Well after an hour and a half journey (no wonder I got off the Green Line as soon as I could), I managed to get to the reading on time.

Woman on the Edge of Time - Marge Piercy - SignedMs. Piercy read between 12 and 15 poems and they were all amazing, but perhaps it was her personality which shone through most. She started the whole reading off by putting a cover on the microphone and saying “practice safe-sex with microphones.” Not only was it hilarious, but it was genuinely adorable. This set the mood for her personality and her poetry. She was very quirky and it just added to her charm and presence. Half way through the reading she decided she was hot so paused and took her shoes off – it just made me smile. I’m not sure which poem was my favorite and if I had to choose one I’d probably say Deadlock Wedlock because of where my academic interests lie, but I really enjoyed, Football for Dummies, Collectors, One Reason I Like Opera, and Deadlock Wedlock.

The most interesting aspect, aside from the reading, was the crowd. I was the only male under 40 and was only one of maybe five. I was not in the least bit surprised there were that few (actually felt like there were a lot) because her main draw is feminists and women, even though her works cover much more. The only thing I found strange about the crowd was their responses to the poems. I’m not sure why it was, but they all sort of moaned/grunted at the end of the poems. I’m sure it was showing appreciation for the reading as Ms. Piercy asked all applause to be held after the first poem. It just seemed odd at the time.

I’m glad I went and I got a book signed for myself (seen above) and one signed for a friend in the UK. And I also met someone else who has the R2D2 Droid phone – kind of awesome!

Books, Professional Development

Book 39: Outward Bound USA: Crew Not Passengers – Josh Miner and Joe Boldt

“I was suddenly aware of how ignorant I was, alive with curiosity, doing academic work at a level I would not have thought possible a few years before. I did not know it yet, but I was learning the basic educational fact of life: the answers are meaningless until the questions are asked.” (17)

This quote pretty much sums up my review of this book and my beliefs in the need to be challenged in education and the push/drive for excellence. Not only was I pleasantly surprised by this book, I learned a lot more about the history of Outward Bound USA and its intricate ties to experiential education in the United States. Now this might seem like a bit of a contradiction with a title like Outward Bound USA: Crew Not Passengers, but I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. The book sat on the bookshelf in my cubicle the entire time I’ve been at my current position and one day I decided I should read it and not only did it reaffirm my decisions to work where I work, but it also further informed my belief that classroom learning is important, but it’s what you do outside of the classroom in relation that’s just as important.

Click here to continue reading.


Harvey Milk Quote

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”


Mildred Loving Quote

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.”

– 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia (Interracial Marriage)


Quotes from The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall

“The subtlety, the craftiness of that question which in common decency could have but one answer! Oh, well, she had gone and would go even farther. Raftery was dead, there was nothing to hold her, she was free–what a terrible thing could be freedom. Trees were free when they were uprooted by the wind; ships were free when they were torn from their moorings; men were free when they were cast out of their homes–free to starve, free to perish of cold and hunger.” – 234-235

“And now quite often while she waited at the stations for the wounded, she would see unmistakable figures–unmistakable to her they would be at first sight, she would single them out of the crowd as by instinct. For as though gaining courage from the terror that is war, many a one who was even as Stephen, had crept out of her hole and come into the daylight, come into the daylight and faced her country: ‘Well, here I am, will you take me or leave me?’ And England had taken her, asking no questions–she was strong and efficient, she could fill a man’s place, she could organize too, given scope for her talent. England had said: ‘Thank you very much. you’re just what we happened to want…at the moment’.” – 270-271

“Our love may be faithful even unto death and beyond–yet the world will call it unclean. We may harm no living creature by our love; we may grow more perfect in understanding and in charity because of our loving; but all this will not save you from the scourge of a world that will turn away its eyes from your noblest actions, finding only corruption and vileness in you. You will see men and women defiling each other, laying the burden of their sins upon their children. You will see unfaithfulness, lies and deceit among those whom the world views with approbation. You will find that many have grown hard of heart, have grown greedy, selfish, cruel and lustful; and then you will turn to me and will say: ‘You and I are more worthy of respect than these people. Why does the world persecute us, Stephen?’ And I shall answer: ‘Because in this world there is only toleration for the so-called normal’.” – 301

“Remembering Mary, remembering Morton, her pen covered sheet after sheet of paper; she wrote with the speed of true inspiration, and at times her work brushed the hem of greatness.” – 342

” ‘They are good, these doctors–some of them very good; they work hard trying to solve our problem, but half the time they must work in the dark–the whole truth is known only to the normal invert. The doctors cannot make the ignorant think, cannot hope to bring home the sufferings of millions; only one of ourselves can some day do that…It will need great courage but it will be done, because all things must work toward ultimate good; there is no real wastage and no destruction.’ He lit a cigarette and started thoughtfully at her for a moment or two. Then he touched her hand. ‘Do you comprehend? There is no destruction’.” – 390

“As for those who were ashamed to declare themselves, lying low for the sake of a peaceful existence, she utterly despised such of them as had brais; they were traitors to themselves and their fellows, she insisted. For the sooner the world came to realize that fine brains very frequently went with inversion, the sooner it would have to withdraw its ban, and the sooner would cease this persecution. Persecution was always a hideous thing, breeding hideous thoughts–and such thoughts were dangerous.” – 406-407