Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: Pianist in a Bordello by Mike C. Erickson

by M. J. Joachim

Politically charged, perfect for reading this year, since 2016 is a presidential election year in the United States, Pianist in a Bordello provides a unique satire of the who, what, where, when and how regarding politicians. The story is strictly fiction, but you can’t help but wonder how much truth lies hidden between the lines. The back story is definitely entertaining, if not a little eerie as I found myself nodding that politicians really are that perverse at times, and probably more so at other times.

Dismissing a few minor and hardly noticeable typos, this book was quite compelling. The characters were all too real, as were their relationships with others. Having grown up in much of the area presented in this story, I can attest to its accuracy. Silicon Valley, Stanford University, Palo Alto and San Francisco felt like home as I read about them within the pages of this book. Even the Pacific Coastline was well represented.

If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think this book was based on actual characters and events. It rings true and extremely familiar, though I’ve never been involved in politics in my life. Fun to read, entertaining and enjoyable - plus, it’s a quick read, so it won’t eat up large chunks of your time. That’s always a bonus in today’s busy world.

In the interest of having a little political fun this year, and hopefully voting for the best possible new president, this is M. J. wishing you well and trusting you’ll be informed before you vote.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

©2016 All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Review: The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller

by M. J. Joachim

Set post Civil War era, and addressing numerous challenges women faced then and now, The Measure of Katie Calloway provides an intense, entertaining and thought provoking story about a woman breaking free from physical abuse, while caring for her younger brother because their parents had passed away. The author apparently looked at an old logging picture and decided to give one of its participants a name, while writing a story with so many twists and turns, I could hardly put the book down at all.

Within the overall story, which is as intriguing as it gets, there are multiple shorter stories, taking readers on a journey through time and adventure. So many things happen, and like any good story teller will provide, they all link up perfectly naturally, making The Measure of Katie Calloway a real page turner, while its audience enjoys the mystery of historical fiction, delightful and challenging characters, and a full and eventful story that captures the heart, soul and imagination of anyone who reads it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from so many different perspectives. As a writer, it was fun to watch Katie come alive and engage with all the other characters. I simply couldn’t help but engage with her, and appreciate her compelling personality. Add in the various backdrops and other characters and events taking place, and this story kept me captivated from beginning to end. Visually pleasing, I was able to picture many of the events in my mind, as if I were a fly on the wall, watching the story unfold, and feeling the many emotions it stirred within me.

The Measure of Katie Calloway is definitely a book I recommend. It’s intense, yet light and fun to read too, and if you enjoy historical fiction, you might enjoy learning a bit about the logging industry too. I know I did.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope you had magical and amazing holidays and send you greetings for a fabulous new year!

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Literary Studies: Christmas in Poganuc by Harriet Beecher Stowe

by M. J. Joachim

Harriet Beecher Stowe, PD-US
Dolly is a very young child, more curious than ever about the phenomenon people call Christmas. Back in those days, children went to bed without a second thought, while the adults carried on, knowing the children were fast asleep as they were supposed to be, and completely certain no harm would come to them in such a peaceful state. Dolly, however, had trouble falling asleep with the bells and Christmas music from the nearby church being played so beautifully. She could see the glow in the air from all the Christmas lights, and in her curious, non-compliant sort of way, she made her way downstairs to catch a glimpse of the festivities from the porch. Except she couldn’t see well enough from there, and quite accidentally made her way to the church, without anyone being the wiser.

Thus is the introductory synopsis of Christmas in Poganuc by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a tale destined to take us on an historic Christmas adventure of an inquisitive little girl named Dolly, who was the light and joy in her home, to be sure, but who also managed to get into a bit of mischief, due to her extraordinary and unexpected behavior. Dolly wasn’t a bad child by any stretch of the imagination. Thankfully her parents knew this and couldn’t love her more, despite a few misjudgments she may have had regarding certain decisions she made, with every good intention of heart.

In reading this story, it is difficult not to consider the historical element of it, because throughout its pages, black people were servants and helpers of the more educated and affluent white people. Language and conversations were aptly characteristic of a time when life was so much different, yet not necessarily resented or approached as it is in our current society. There was no debate or concern for politically correct, other than children knowing their place and behaving without a second thought. In fact, much of this story focuses on the expected behavior of children, and the duality of their current behavior at the time the story was written, but even more so today. It’s hard to remember a time when children didn’t take for granted they had the right to question anyone or anything, though I do remember that being a big faux pas with my own parents.

Customary as it was to have black people working for white people, this story is actually a story about all people, as opposed to dividing people by race or creed. Religion is strongly considered, even presented with people who celebrated Christmas and those who didn’t. Faith is deemed primary content as the story unfolds, revealing people who did and did not keep Christmas, people of science, as opposed to people of faith and religion. People were merely elements in the story to make it come alive, while serious topics regarding raising children and accepting people for who they are, regardless of how various debris denoting anything they might be judged about, came into play.

This is a short Christmas story with the potential for a huge impact on anyone who reads it. Historical content aside, this story is intellectually sound, making perfect sense out of reality, without attempting to alter it presumptuously, so as not to offend anyone by its content. That being said, it’s content is not offensive at all if taken with the right attitude, which is why readers and writers will benefit greatly from studying this piece. It is honest, steadfast and pure, the substance of which makes all writing great, and leaves an audience saturated and well pleased.

Honesty truly is the best policy, provided tact is used and silence is still considered golden.

Thank you for spending a few moments of your very busy day with me. I appreciate it more than you know.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved