Should There be Disclaimers on Books?

I read an article this morning that the right wing government of Hungary has ordered books with LGBT characters/themes to have disclaimers on them so that “consumers aren’t misled” about books that don’t depict traditional gender roles. The books in question are fairy tales written to encourage respecting everyone with different backgrounds.

As someone born in 1991 I’ve never once understood the animosity so many people seem to have toward groups of people different from them. I understand that my worldview isn’t going to be shared by everyone. I also understand that different areas of the world progress at different speeds. But just reading this made me think of some of the actions of Nazi Germany regarding books. Books were banned that didn’t fit their narrative. Books were burned and destroyed. That doesn’t appear to be happening now, but what’s the actual point of these disclaimers? If a consumer decides to buy a product (such as a book) they have every opportunity to decide if it matches their values. If if doesn’t, then they won’t buy it. There is no misleading going on.

I don’t see this as anything more than a shameful attempt to alienate a group of people who have done nothing wrong but try to live honestly.

Review: D-Day: Minute by Minute

This is the story of D-Day, the beginning of the end of WWII, from different accounts throughout that momentous day.

There are a great many books (many still being written today) about WWII and especially D-Day. I’m glad this is the one I picked up. As it says in the title this is a minute by minute account of that fateful day. It is not an historical narrative. Though a unique format, it works very well.

The story follows quite a few participants, organizers, civilians, and even quotes from Anne Frank’s diary. One might think this different format may force the reader to struggle to experience the horror and dreadfulness of the day. But that would be wrong. There are several perspectives shared that have you taking deep breaths to continue reading.

What makes this book so good is the German perspectives throughout. Because at the end of it all their perspectives are also worthy of being known and shared. The chaos, the confusion, the desperation, and even the realization that the war could not be won. The author gives all of that from the Germans.

After reading this I may look into a more traditionally written account of D-Day, but I don’t feel it’s at all necessary if I decide not to.

A unique and gripping account of mankind’s greatest day. 5 stars.

On this day in 2020 – 0 books
On this day in 2021 – 3 books

Bestsellers and me: All Quiet on the Western Front

Recently read this WWI classic for the first time. The review here is not exactly what’s in the video, but it’s very similar.

The subtitle of this could easily be, “A soldier’s experience in the Great War.”

As an American, so much history is told from the perspective of the West. Most notably, major wars of the 20th century. This flips it. It provides the German perspective.

Though published nearly 100 years ago, so many thoughts from this book would still be valid today. Often Paul, the main character, questions the point of the war altogether. At one point during a discussion with his friends it’s asked how wars start. The response is one country offends another. And this simple, yet poignant message bears truth today.

When reading or learning about war we’re told of the harsh conditions. Often those perspectives come from the winning side, but this tells the story of those same, inhumane conditions from the country also losing the war. It’s impossible for nearly all people to comprehend. Nothing in civilian life can come close.

This is an indictment against those who wish to start wars. So often they’re pointless and accomplish little to nothing. But those responsible for starting the war rarely pay the same price as those they send out to fight. History says Germany lost WW1 and we all know what the Nazis did a short while later. But those men were fighting for their country just the same as their American, Russian, French, and English counterparts. The war was not good for any of them. That’s the point of this story and it does a remarkable job of making its case. 4 stars.

Have you read it? Did you have similar thoughts?

An Odd Pairing?

When it comes to co-writing it seems the practice has taken off in recent years. James Patterson may have been the one to popularize it, but many other authors are doing the same.

It was announced earlier in the week that authors Steve Hamilton (one of my faves) has teamed up with super author Janet Evanovich on a forthcoming book titled The Bounty.

Janet Evanovich has sold more books than just about anyone else. To my knowledge she has also co-written previous works with other authors too. Steve Hamilton (I own every one of his books) has not. On the one hand there’s Hamilton, who has won multiple Edgar awards but only managed to notch two bestsellers. On the other Evanovich can sell a million books in her sleep.

This comes across as a unique pairing. Hamilton is not one of the assembly line authors pumping out book after book after book. I have no more knowledge than anyone, but to me this may be a way to introduce her readers to Hamilton in an attempt to gauge potential interest in him continuing her series once she’s no longer writing. She’s 77 and the book is part of an already established series . But who knows?

I’m not a particular fan of authors teaming up to write, but I’m nobody. What do you think?

The Bounty will be released March 23.

Help me Name a Character

Back in October when I first returned to the blog I wrote about wanting to write again. I’ve been thinking about it these last 3 months, but still no planning or outlining. There’s no rush. More recently I’ve been thinking much more about the character I want to create.

I know no one has been here since the beginning, but when I first decided to start this blog it was called “Write me a Book, John!”. I still love that name. I created it to document my writing. It was a new, fun experience I’m glad I had. Then the blog went through multiple years of rather exponential growth. I couldn’t keep up with the comments and likes and notifications. But then things fell back to earth because I’ve had several periods of not posting. But now I’m back into the swing of things and let’s get back to the origins.

I’ve been brainstorming character names. I know everyone has their own process and some may search for specific meaning in a name. I don’t. When coming up with a name I mostly go off the sound of it. Which is how I landed on Andrew Banks nearly 8 years ago. Right now I know 2 things for sure. I want the name to be Hispanic and male. The one I keep circling back to is Joe Alvarez. But I’m not convinced. What do you think? What’s your process for coming up with a name?

Nearly a Week Off

I wrote previously about taking my time with my reading going forward. For several months now it had been read, read, read all the time. But that’s a recipe for burnout and not reading for six months. No interest in that. So for the last week I’ve been taking it easy. Not reading.

Normally this would likely be the start of a dry period. Sometimes it can last a few weeks and others it can ruin the whole year. But not this time. I felt it was time for a mini break. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

Mickey Haller is Coming to Netflix!

Yes! I hate when characters get caught up in the abyss of adaptations and rights are purchased and then nothing happens. For any fellow Michael Connelly fans, you probably know this is what happened in the early days of Harry Bosch. Then Michael Connelly spent years fighting to get the rights back. Ultimately, Amazon’s Bosch was created and so well done.

Something similar almost happened with Mickey Haller, Harry Bosch’s half-brother who works out of his Lincoln. The defense attorney who rarely comes across a case he won’t take. Most have probably seen The Lincoln Lawyer adaptation. It was okay. Nothing great, and not surprising that it didn’t spawn a series of movies. Later, CBS bought the rights to pursue a series, which went nowhere. Seems unlikely Netflix won’t finally adapt the smart talking defense attorney into a worthy series.

Mickey Haller isn’t my favorite character created, but he’s rather enjoyable. Have you read any of his books by Michael Connelly?

Review: To Selena, With Love

I mentioned previously that I plan to share every review I write on here going forward. Today I’m talking SELENA.

Chris Perez tells the story of his life with Selena, though their time was so awfully cut short.

It’s impossible to put into words how beloved Selena is within the Mexican-American community. Because for much of her short life, she was like every one of us. Her family wasn’t well off. She didn’t speak Spanish. The balance between the Mexican part of you doesn’t always match with the American part. And on and on.

In this work Chris Perez has done what only he could. Throughout the 2+ decades since her death we are always treated to the story from the Quintanilla perspective. The movie and the series do the same. Chris doesn’t aim to retell what we already know. He reveals a side none of us do. Selena at home. Selena after a long day out on the bus. Selena just before bed. Selena the person, not the budding superstar. It’s fitting for her love story to finally be shared after so many years. We all know she eloped with Chris against her father’s wishes, but this work shows just how much it took for them to reach that point.

The most heartbreaking aspect of their story is obviously her death. The despair he endured after comes right off the pages and envelopes you as you read.

Like so many, I’m too young to have known Selena before her death. Her brilliant life may have been cut short, but she continues to live on today, tomorrow, and always.

An intimate window into her love story. 5 stars.

The book and the new series are very different. If you’re interested in hearing what I have to say about the Netflix show, I got ya.

This year I’m going to actively track my reading progress as the year moves forward.

2020 on January 8 – 0 books
2021 on January 8 – 2 books

Slowing Down

If you read this blog you probably know I read quite a bit to finish off 2020. Mostly because I was set on reaching my reading goal for the first time. In December I was reading 3-4 hours on some nights to keep my momentum going.

Now it seems I’m still in that mode to read as much as possible. These last few days I’ve found myself debating whether to read another hour before bed. Often this is between 1:00-2:00AM. There’s nothing wrong with doing so, but there are 52 weeks this year. Plenty of time to continue a solid reading pace without falling asleep with my current book.

I may start to take a day off here and there. In 8 months if I’m behind schedule, then I’ll shift into high gear.