Tag Archives: book review

Should You Read American Gods by Neil Gaiman?

In addition to writing tips, I also post book reviews on my new blog http://www.mbkeen.com/

Check out my review of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, a bestselling, sci-fi, fantasy novel that was turned into a series on STARZ. http://www.mbkeen.com/american-gods/

Also, stay tuned, because I’m starting a bookclub! Let me know if you’d want to join. I’ll be on the look out for fun and thought-provoking reads, suggestions are welcome. Have a great week!

Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

In a town along the Caribbean, during a time when the Cholera epidemic had not yet fully abated, Florentino Ariza, a simple young man who works in the post office, and Fermina Daza, the daughter of a suspiciously wealthy man, fall in forbidden love. But their romance is short lived. After Lorenzo, Fermina’s father finds out about the innocent letters exchanged between his daughter and a common boy, he forbids the relationship and does everything in his power to prevent it from flourishing including marrying his daughter to the wealthy doctor Juvinal Urbino.

Read the full review on my website: http://www.mbkeen.com/review-love-in-the-time-of-cholera and please subscribe to my newsletter 🙂

Book Review: The Ascent of Feminist Poetry by Charles Bane, Jr.

If you are interested in learning more about feminist poetry while also discovering some amazing poems by various authors, then The Ascent of Feminist Poetry is the right book for you. It’s short, sweet and to the point. And if you’re anything like me, you will enjoy this book over a cup of tea in the afternoon.

I was not surprised when Charles told me that his book was excerpted by the Huffington Post. The book celebrates the new age of poetry and sheds a light on how the publishing world has change particularly for poets in times when social media influence is one of the most important assets an individual could have.

I recommend you give this book a read. You won’t regret it! Get it on Amazon now!

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Charles Bane, Jr. is the author of three collections of poetry including the recent ” The Ends Of The Earth: Collected Poems ( Transcendent Zero Press, 2015 ) and “The Ascent Of Feminist Poetry”, as well as “I Meet Geronimo And Other Stories” ( Avignon Press, 2015) and ” Three Seasons: Writing Donald Hall ( Collection of the Houghton Library, Harvard University). He created and contributes to The Meaning Of Poetry Series for The Gutenberg Project.


Get The Ascent of Feminist Poetry on Amazon NOW! http://goo.gl/5mJLEh

Book Review: The Siege and Other Award Winning Short Stories


In her collection, The Siege, Esther Newton has proven to be a versatile writer who is able to tell engaging stories, and create strong characters in a terse manner. While each story is an average of 2,000 words long, when reading those tales, the reader feels that he’s traveled a long way with the characters and the plot, as every sentence is in its place, and every word propels the story forward.

My two favorite stories in the collection would be The Siege, the title of the book, which tells a fast-paced tale of entrapment and liberation. And, The Best and Worst Bonfire Night Ever, which is great because Newton was able to narrate multiple events, from multiple viewpoints, in a brief number of pages.

Perfect for the prolific and the novice readers alike, The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories is a collection to keep on your tablet for whenever you need to escape into a fictional world. The book could be bought on Amazon and several other e-book sellers.


Book Link: http://www.amazon.com/Siege-Other-Award-Winning-Stories-ebook/dp/B00LCCG9S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409628682&sr=8-1&keywords=the+siege+and+other+award+winning+short+stories


Esther Newton’s Blog: http://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/

Book Dissection IV: Of Human Bondage


This part of the book analysis will be my last, since I can’t summarize any further without spoiling the story — assuming I haven’t spoiled it already. I hope you enjoyed those little posts I’ve been submitting and I hope some of you started reading Of Human Bondage. Soon, I will post a review of the full book. Share your opinions about this story with me.

Pages 301 to 330: Phillip meets Mildred, the center of the action and premise of the story. What strikes me most is the way his feelings for her creep at him without him noticing. At first, the feelings he acknowledges are abhorrence and loath. Later, however, he finds himself interpreting her every word and yearning for every bit of attention she pays him. It isn’t until later that he admits to himself that he fell captive of her love.

How the author describes the feeling of love for an insecure person is echoing through my brain. To him, love is pain. He craves the attention of those who neglect him, hates them when they treat him badly, and then hates himself for loving them and allowing them to hurt him further. What strikes me is how quickly Philip became possessive of Mildred. One of the nights she refuses to go out with him, so he waits for her outside the restaurant she works in so he could make sure she wasn’t going out with someone else. Needless to say, things are going downhill fast.

Book Dissection II: Of Human Bondage

Of Human Bondage - W Somerset Maugham

Synopsis: One of the great novels of the twentieth century. Of Human Bondage tells a fascinating tale of sexual obsession. The story follows Philip Carey in his search for freedom from the strict, oppressive Christian upbringing he suffered as an orphan in an English vicarage. Philip sets out on a journey that leads him to Heidelberg and to Paris. But it is back in London that Philip’s enthrallment with Mildred – the slatternly, pale waitress who makes him slave to her desire – awakens him to the world of obsessive love, deep passion, and true self-discovery. The unforgettable love story is as timeless as it is involving, an intimate tale of human relationships that Theodore Dreiser called “a work of genius.”


Pages 51 to 89: The first 10 to 15 pages aimed to point a transitional phase in the school which Philip attends. I was less interested in the way the school became more religious, and more intrigued by what Philip goes through during that phase which lasts a few years of his life.

Philip meets a new friend; his last name is Rose. And unlike all the other kids who make fun of Philip and his birth defect, Rose likes Philip. Without going into much details and spoiling the story, let me just say that I found myself in the pages I reference.

We have all experienced loneliness, and all of us cling to that one thing or person who makes us feel less lonely; hence, driving that person away. I love how Somerset describes his protagonist as he makes belief that he’s one of the popular kids, or when he over thinks about Rose’s innocent actions. Loneliness makes us oversensitive, and sometimes it even makes us mean to people as we overcompensate to being needy. The way Somerset describes this conflict of the human soul made me feel like I was back in high school when I was reading.

There’s another interesting description, which also resonates with me since I live in a strict and orthodox society, which is Philip’s relationship with religion. At first, Phillip’s pristine mind absorbs all the religious knowledge that is thrown at him. He begins to have high expectations from his relationship with God. Philip prays to God to eradicate the disability of his foot, but is met by disappointments. His uncle, however, relates those disappointments to the lack of Philip’s faith, urging Philip pray harder and face further disappointments. Isn’t this the vicious religious cycle we are all faced with?

There’s a point when Philip accepts that his defect is a test rather than a curse – a burden given for his broad shoulders to carry. And at the end of those lovely pages, the story takes a beautiful turn by Philip realizing that he doesn’t want the life of a pious man such as the one his uncle leads. He knows that there were far more beautiful things in the world; he read about those things in books, and heard other people’s stories about them. He is determined to live another kind of life.

Book Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


There is a reason Charles Dickens’s book stood the test of time. The story of the protagonist, Pipp, will resonate with people for generations to come. Dickens takes us on journey of the life of Pipp, from the time he was young, to his adolescence, and into the years of his early adulthood. Throughout those years, however, Dickens weaves a tangled web of events. Every word, every action, and every incident makes sense in the end.

The title “Great Expectations” was given since Pipp, a poor boy, finds himself on the verge of becoming a nobleman. An anonymous benefactor, whom he assumes to be the adoptive mother of his beloved Estella, financially adopts Pipp and opens wide doors of opportunities which he never knew existed. Pipp moves to London, leaving his sister and her husband, Joe, behind – the people who raised him after his parents died.

As his fortune and love for Estella grow, Pipp finds himself moving further away from Joe. Great Expectations explains how money changes individuals, and makes them forget the people who were closest to them. There was a sentence, which I particularly loved. At the beginning of Pipp’s new journey he leaves alone without letting Joe walk him. He admits to himself the reason of walking alone, which was his shame of being seen with the humble-looking Joe. As he walks alone toward the carriage that would take him to London, Dickens writes, “…feeling it very sorrowful and strange that the first night of my bright fortunes should be the loneliest I had ever known.”

Another thing I adored about this book was the characterization of Estella and her adoptive mother, Ms. Havisham. Perhaps this sentence I wrote in italic will explain more than my words would.

“What have I done! What have I done!” She wrung her hands, and crushed her white hair, and returned to this cry over and over again. “What have I done!”

I knew not how to answer, or how to comfort her. That she had done a grievous thing in taking an impressionable child to mold into the form her wild resentment, spurned affection, and wounded pride found vengeance in, I knew full well. But that, in shutting out the light of day, she had shut out infinitely more; that, in seclusion, she had secluded herself from a thousand natural and healing influences; that her mind, brooding solitary, had grown diseased, as all minds do and must and will that reserve the appointed order of their Maker; I knew equally well. And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?

Showing here how vengeance, grief, and holding on to pain and anger can be destructive, Dickens had yet again given us an important lesson in life.

The book I bought had another ending which was written by the editors, followed by the original ending written by Dickens. Dickens did it better. He tied the knots beautifully and left me with a beautiful afterglow.

All in all, I believe this book is worth a read. It certainly is one of the best classics I have read so far.

Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

and-then-there-were-none4 Stars

Ten people trapped on an Indian island, each with a past darker than the other. One by one they start dying. They suspect each other – there’s no one else on the island but them. Facing their inner demons, they are murdered, one by one, till there are none.

The suspense in Agatha’s story is unbearable. I heard many say that this is one of her best books. I would have to read more of her work to make such a statement. This book, however, is a thrill. The anticipation of discovering whose death would be next, how the next victim would die, who will stay till the end, and, most importantly, who’s the killer, is nerve wrecking.

The revelation at the end is not something I expected – I can’t really say if that’s a good thing or not. All in all, however, And Then There Were None (also known as Ten Little Indians) is a very good book to pick up and read on a cold winter night.

Book Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell


4.5 Stars

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is one of the groundbreaking books in terms of our understanding of the culture of the rich and successful. In his book, Gladwell analysis the cultural, economical, physical, and even astronomical implications of the success stories in today’s world.

With his intelligent, well researched, factual piece, Gladwell provides the reader with answers to why certain people make it in this world. By providing examples about the extremely successful and the not so much, he explains in thorough details the obvious, yet overlooked, aspects which contribute to the success or, otherwise, failure of certain individuals.

This book is not a pathway-to-success handbook, nor is it a motivational narrative of people who rose from nothing and amounted to something great. On the contrary, it feel pessimistic, at times – I had to put the book down for a few days, at a certain point, before I was able to resume reading. But I did resume reading, eventually, because no matter how tough the facts in the book were, I was nodding in agreement with every sentence.

Gladwell is unapologetic, he will tell the truth like it is. And the truth is that smart doesn’t equal successful and, most of the time, the poor will remain poor while the rich will continue to grow wealthier. Gladwell provides reasons for this, however; reasons which, when acknowledged, can be avoided.

If you can’t handle the truth, or don’t like to challenge the status quo, then this book is not for you. However, if you are one of those people who don’t mind taking a second opinion, you will find Outliers very entertaining. A documentary of success, this book is nothing short of a paradigm shifter accompanied with a wake up call.

Book Review — Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (1905)


E. M. Forster’s book is not recommended for those who are looking for suspense. In spite of the ominous title of the book, the plot actually isn’t as dark.

Where Angels Fear to Tread discusses social differences and their effect on people’s characters and relationships. It shows how people who are forced to behave in certain manners seldom do, and that leads to undesired consequences.

What I liked about the book: the weaved web of social and interpersonal events which gave the plot a certain amount of depth.

What I disliked about the book: the showing instead of telling; and the jumping from one era to another sometimes within the same line.

I just discovered that this book was made into a movie. Did anyone watch it? What do you think of the movie version of the book?