Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Hag-Seed" by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed is the second Shakespeare retold book I've read from Hogarth Shakespeare. Written by Margaret Atwood, it's the retelling of The Tempest. I was unfamiliar with The Tempest prior to reading this novel.

Stage director Felix suffers a betrayal right as he's preparing his masterpiece, The Tempest, for stage. With his prestigious position stolen from him, he becomes a recluse, nearly off-the-grid. He assumes a new identity and employment as a theater director for a prison program, where he finally plots his revenge against those who wronged him.

Suffering also from the loss of his young daughter many years ago, Felix is a bit of a wild card--you're never sure just how far he'll go. He goes through his days imagining what his daughter would be doing at every moment, talking with her, and pretending she is there with him.Parallels between The Tempest play he's directing with inmates and the revenge plot he's crafted are  very clear, even down to some of the people in Felix's life having similar names to Shakespeare's plays.

My favorite part of the book was the inmates. They were distinct and showed growth through the novel; they loved the theater program and thus made the it the very best they could.

The play within a novel where basically the plot of the play actually happens provided a refreshing way to get to know the play, without completely giving everything away. After the epilogue, there is a brief plot summary of the original play, which fills in any gaps and ties the two stories fully together. I now feel very familiar with the story of the play.

I wasn't as invested in the whole revenge plot as the rest of the novel, which really slowed down my reading. Obviously the book needed conflict of some kind, and it was also paralleling The Tempest, but especially since it had been 12 years, I kind of just wanted it to be over with.

I received this book for free, but was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

To Review: "Hag-Seed" by Margaret Atwood

Next up to review is Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. It's a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, published by Hogarth Shakespeare.

I've read another novel from the same publisher that was the retelling of The Winter's Tale, which was called The Gap of Time, by Jeanette Winterson. Though I wasn't a huge fan of that retelling, I do like Shakespeare and Margaret Atwood, so perhaps this one will be a better fit!

I've read Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake (with The Blind Assassin sitting in my to-be-read pile!). Looking forward to getting into Hag-Seed and letting you know how it is!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"Jesus Loves Me! A Sing-Along Book" illustrated by Gynux

Image result for Jesus Loves Me! A Sing-Along Book illustrated by Gynux

Jesus Loves Me! A Sing-Along Book is a children’s board book containing three verses of the song Jesus Love Me. It is 20 pages long of thinner weight board pages. It opens so that the pages can lie flat, which is really nice since the pictures always are across the entire spread.

The pictures feature animals going on a nature walk while playing instruments, as the book is supposed to be sung to/with children. Along the nature walk, the animals engage in other activities in addition to playing instruments, such as catching a butterfly, saving a kitten from a tree, having a picnic, and building a campfire.

The last spread features a bunch of the animals looking at the book with the instruments, as though they are actually reading/playing along. The other side of the pages is sheet music for the first verse and chorus. Since all of the verses are the same tune, this can be used to play the entire song.

The book is of high-quality, with a foam board cover. The animals are cute, but the illustrations aren’t my favorite style; they’re slightly more towards realistic in textured drawing, but with extra expressive faces.

I wasn’t super familiar with the second and third verse of the song, since usually all I heard growing up was the first verse (“Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but He is strong! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”). This would be a really fun way to sing along with children who love music, or if you play an instrument, you could even play along given the music at the end. The sheet music is simple to follow along.

I received a free copy of this book, but was not required to post a positive review.