Review: Be Frank With Me

Be Frank With MeBe Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore Frank! I was not sure how I would feel about this book, but I can honestly say I would read it all over again.

Spoilers ahead:

Frank is a nine-almost-ten year old little red head son of famous recluse writer M.M. (Mimi) Banning. He would rather dress in a morning suit from the 1940s, complete with cuff-links, and top hat or fez. He is a richly intelligent boy, who is obsessed with entertainment facts of the golden age of Hollywood and radio. It did not take but a couple of chapters to realize that Frank must certainly be high-functioning autistic (Asperger’s), based on his speech, intelligence, and single-focused interests. When twenty-four year old Alice is hired by Mimi’s agent to be her personal assistant, she travels from New York to Los Angeles taking up residence with the writer and her son. Frank warms up to her, after a dire warning from Mimi not to touch Frank without his permission, and under no circumstances touch any of his things, or else meltdowns would occur. While Mimi is holed up in her office writing her latest overdue novel, Alice and Frank take on LA in a magnanimous way. The duo soon learn much about each other, their likes and dislikes, and their coping mechanisms. The more the story unfolded, the more I saw my autistic nephew in Frank. There are moments of hilarity, moments of tenderness, and moments of heartbreak. Each moment shaped the until Frank and Alice became such endearing characters that I will cherish having met.

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Review: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I was skeptical at first, when it started out reading as a narrative of a grumpy old man. However, it quickly became a humorous, touching story about a man who had lost everything and everyone he had loved in life. Ove soon discovered love can be found in the strangest of places: a bedraggled feral cat, new neighbors, helping those in need in various ways. At every turn, Ove’s desire to die was curtailed by the needs of his new “family” in hilarious ways. I laughed. I cried. I have to read the physical copy of this book because I loved the audiobook so much. I recommend this to everyone, regardless of your genre of choice. Go read it now!

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Review: The Bone Labyrinth

The Bone Labyrinth (Sigma Force, #11)The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a huge Rollins fan for his ability to take a snippet out of a news story and turn it into masterfully crafted novel. While I’m a fan of the Sigma Force characters, it was mainly Kowalski that earned a place in my heart for fictional characters due to his relationship with Bacco (sp?) the gorilla. Tough as nails Kowalski is brought into a case to become a sign language translator for Bacco, and as man and beast bond, it is a relationship that warms and encourages those who enjoy relationships between humans and animals. I choose to listen to the audiobook version of this since I have been trying to get around to it forever. However, the narrator, while great at enunciating accents and the individuality of the characters throughout the story, he otherwise possessed a rather monotone voice that honestly put me to sleep a few times. I probably won’t read another Rollins book via audiobook for this reason, and the fact that so many details get lost in the listening that would otherwise be the point of focus in the written word. Regardless, I enjoyed The Bone Labyrinth!

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Where have all the books gone?

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I never thought it would happen, but the day has come that I walked into the public library and could not find the book I was looking for.

My midterm project for school is to read a book from my personal collection and analyze it. I chose Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Since it was written in the mid 1800s, there are a few words that have different meanings now, therefore I wanted to look them up in the dictionary. In a class last week, it was revealed that the Oxford English Dictionary is the mother of all dictionaries. This is mainly due to the fact that it records word origins from some of their earliest usages. This was the dictionary I was needing to use.

This evening after work, I visited the public library just down the street. I went up to the counter and asked the librarian/assistant (I’m unsure what their positions were), where I could find the Reference section. One of them turned to look at me and began to say “We don’t a reference section,” before another worker spoke up and asked, “what exactly are you looking for?” I answered, “a dictionary.” After an odd look, the first worker referred me to the aisle at the far end of the library.

Upon arriving to that section, I try to locate any book that says “dictionary” on it. The selection was sparse. Not only was the entire section of non-technical reference books only about 4-feet long, but general reference materials were in sad supply. So sad, that there were only 2 dictionaries on the entire shelf. One was a dictionary/thesaurus, of which was thinner than most of the Bibles I own. The second (of which they actually had two copies), was also lacking in volume. Not too long ago, there used to be shelves upon shelves of reference materials. Shellllllllvvvvves

After looking up the word I was searching for in one of the two copies, and not discovering at all what I hoped to discover, I returned to the desk and asked if they happened to have any other dictionaries in the library, namely the Oxford English Dictionary. The library worker offered to look it up in the system and online. After determining the OED’s website is subscription-based, of which I had already mentioned, and they did not have a subscription to, she went to look in their database. As it turns out, there is not a single copy of the OED in their circulation, at any of the locations.

Thanking them as politely as I could, I walked out feeling rather dejected and disappointed, and more than a little bit ticked.

Mind you, I could visit the university’s library (and may very well have to now), as I know they have a copy, but that isn’t the point. The point is, a PUBLIC library, consisting of roughly ten to twelve locations does not have one of the most renowned dictionaries in the English language in its collection. Yes, a majority of society will look up word definitions on Google and be satisfied with the results. I would be doing the same thing, for a quick result. But when looking for the root meaning of a word, its etymology and origins, it isn’t quite that simple.

First take away the dictionaries, then what? I understand that we live in the digital age. I understand that kids these days (i.e. anyone less than 22 years old) have been raised on more screen time and less printed book time. That’s not the point.

My point is, don’t lose all respect or fail to recognize the value of an actual printed book. There is still something that physical books can offer, that open source Internet-based software cannot.