Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Synopsis: The best way to learn to write is by the close reading of great literature. Review: I wish I could get Francine Prose to tell me about every book I read. She is so astute and insightful about the craft of writing, and equally tuned into the joys that reading has to offer the lover of language. You might think that the Superfast Reader would be averse to a technique asking her to slow down and smell the sentences, but nothing could be further…

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The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Synopsis: A little girl becomes possessed by an ancient, evil spirit. Review: Here is a solid case of the adaptation transcending the source material. As a book, The Exorcist just doesn’t have the same air of menace and terror created by William Friedkin’s movie adaptation. Blatty gives readers passages describing black masses, and doesn’t shy away from the more salacious events during Regan’s possession, but these are just gross-outs. They don’t conjure prickling at the back of my neck, or made me afraid to turn…

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Diagnosis: Schizophrenia by Rachel Miller & Susan E. Mason

Synopsis: A look at schizophrenia through first person accounts by 35 people diagnosed with the disease, along with advice and recommendations from several clinicians and doctors. Review: This book is designed primarily to be comforting and encouraging for someone with schizophrenia. The first person accounts in Diagnosis: Schizophrenia demystify the illness and give honest answers to questions like “What if I don’t like my medication?” and “How will my family treat me?” I am writing something about schizophrenia and this book will be incredibly useful.…

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Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

Synopsis: The strange adventure of magic-possessed soldier son Nevare continue, as he finds himself expelled from military academy when his weight skyrockets after a bout of the Speck plague. Review: Forest Mage is the second book in Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy begun in Shaman’s Crossing. Interestingly, I found echoes of Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead in the clash between the progress-loving “human” Gernians and the forest-dwelling dappled Specks, and spent a good deal of the read worrying that Hobb’s story was going…

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Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb

Synopsis: A young man’s military training is threatened by his seeming possession by a creature in thrall to an evil forest goddess. Review: Shaman’s Crossing is the first book in Robin Hobb’s newest trilogy, Soldier Son, and I ate it up with a spoon, thanks to a very long train ride to Canada. The world of Soldier Son takes place in a frontier-like environment much like the Old West at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, with Nevare, the main character, on his way to…

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