Tag: Review

Book Review: The Broadway Musical, by Joseph P. Swain

Book Review: The Broadway Musical, by Joseph P. Swain

Joseph P. Swain’s award-winning book The Broadway Musical is what some might call an exercise in overthinking. After all, what good is it to apply musical and operatic criticism to a popular musical form like Broadway? But Swain’s analysis gives many meaningful insights to music that has not generally been regarded as a high form of art, proving that the kinship between the musical and the opera is often closer than one might think. adparams.getadspec(‘c_billboard1’);

Each of the chapters in The Broadway Musical is illustrated by at least one show demonstrating a particular characteristic, such as “Morality Play as Musical,” “Religious Experience as Musical,” and, in the revised second edition, “Epic as Musical,” which explores both the French and English versions of Les Miserables. The book is filled with hundreds of musical examples showing how the music is used to express setting, plot, and character.

The highest praise is reserved for Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim in the chapter “Tragedy as Musical,” which analyzes in great depth the musical West Side Story. In particular, Swain explores the significance of the tritone, the dissonant interval used for the first two notes of the famous song “Maria.” Through musical examples, he shows that the tritone is used throughout the show, serving as a symbol for the tension in Maria and Tony’s relationship but also as a unification of the show’s separate numbers. Through this kind of analysis, West Side Story and other musicals are raised to a higher level of art, one in which the music is not merely functional, a way to get the lyrics across, but rather something that has its own power of expression and tells its own story.

Although Swain gives composers their due praise and reads the music more seriously than the average theatergoer might, he does not dispense with criticism when it is rightly deserved. His analysis of A Chorus Line, in particular, is so harsh that the publishers refused to allow him to print musical examples. He is also quick to point out when translations or other issues in a show’s production history have negatively affected the final product, as in Les Miserables and Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

The Broadway Musical is a wonderful book both for fans of Broadway shows and for students and listeners of opera and other classical music. It will help expand readers’ horizons and give them new appreciation for the musical not just as form of popular expression but as a work of art.


Comic Book Review: Astro City: Eye of the Storm by Kurt Busiek

Comic Book Review: Astro City: Eye of the Storm by Kurt Busiek

In Astro City super heroes are part of the everyday life and spotting them is a sort of spectator sport but there is one that has never had a clear picture taken of him. And so when the heroes are driven out of the city it is hardly surprising that the most secretive of the heroes is one of the few that have remained behind, or that he is suspected of being a criminal.

Even more damming than his secrecy is the secret he is keeping that his new sidekick has recently discovered, the reason that he is never seen in the day and has no pictures is that he is a vampire. This has naturally made the sidekick suspicious of him, but the boy isn’t willing to assume the worst any more than he is willing to assume the best.

This book is largely the story of The Confessor. A priest who arrived in Astro City in the late nineteenth century and through a single indiscretion was turned into a vampire. He has been trying to make up for that mistake since.

The confessor is a character that at first glance could be similar to other characters in comic book, a dark detective who takes a teenage boy as a sidekick and even puts him in a mildly silly looking costume, but below the surface he is far less like Batman than he might look on the surface and through this story it becomes even more clear.

Both the confessor and Alter boy are excellent characters and the story that is going on behind the scenes with both a hero registration and invasion of alien shape shifters is brilliant both because it is so entertaining and because it covers all the points of the marvel civil war and invasion but was written years before. And because this is an independent comic book you never know what might happen and that adds whole new levels to the story.

Although a far longer story than any previous story in Astro city the story “Eye of the Storm” has so many great character and interesting ideas that it never feels like a long story even when it stays with the same character for several books at a time.

Astro City is what I remember comic books being when I was a kid. They are fun, smart, with just enough action and yet I know that it is better than those stories.…

Book Review: Wind Walker

Attention all readers: Are you looking for a book filled with action centered in the Wyoming Territory of 1868? Are you a little curious about how Native Americans respond to the threat of adventurous settlers invading their territory to obtaining an American dream of owning land? Are you an inspiring writer studying different techniques to improve your writing? Are you a fan of Cassie Edwards’s novels? If you answered yes to any one of the above questions than I recommend you obtain a copy of Wind Walker written by Cassie Edwards. Wind Walker is a perfect novel for any reader who is searching for a western romance to escape their daily drama of life. Wind Walker is a novel based on the basic concept of good versus evil, which encourage a flame-hair beauty from Boston name Margaret Tolan to fall in love with a friendly Cheyenne Warrior name Wind Walker. Historically, falling in love with an Indian was taboo by White’s Standards.

In creating Wind Walker, Cassie Edwards uses her ability as a writer to cross the boundaries of historical prejudice, society taboos, and limitations to bring two unlikely characters from different cultural backgrounds together. Cassie Edwards also allows her antagonist, Archibald Parrish, to distract her readers and the main characters from cultural issues by disturbing their lives with evil intentions. Under the cloud of darkness, Archibald turns Margaret and Wind Walker’s lives upside down and their world closer together by kidnapping Margaret from a wagon train heading to Oregon. Margaret’s uncle pleads for help, which persuades Wind Walker in rescuing Margaret right from under Archibald’s nose.

Cassie Edwards also adds two tragic scenes in this novel to give Margaret and Wind Walker time for their new relationship to blossom into love. Seeing to the wishes of his dying chief, forces Wind Walker in delaying Margaret’s return to the wagon train. While Wind Walker deals with his dying chief, Margaret had to nurse her uncle back to health due to Ute renegades attacking the wagon train. With the aid of a dying chief and an injured uncle, Margaret and Wind Walker gained the needed time to fall in love with each other.

Cassie Edwards uses other methods in the creation of Wind Walker. Cassie Edwards adds poems from famous writers like William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and many more at the beginning of every chapter. Even though this novel is fiction, Cassie Edwards tries to educate her readers on the Native American language, by implementing a few Indian phrases and words with brief description of each in the story. Cassie Edwards also uses her skills as a researcher to find the needed material in making her story plausible for the average reader and the readers that have a little knowledge of American History. Besides action, Cassie Edwards also fills this novel with a lot of powerful phases, names and references to other places for inspiring writers to take notes from or for her audience reading pleasure. So pick up a copy of Wind Walker and enjoy your time in visiting the Wild West in the safety of your mind.…

Book Review: Home Front, by Chuck Logan

Book Review: Home Front, by Chuck Logan

They aren’t your average married couple. Phil Broker is an ex-cop, undercover and special assignments. His wife, Major Nina Pryce, is on disabled status from the United States Army. They live with their eight year-old daughter Kit in Glacier Falls, Minnesota, moving there after Broker found his wife with a loaded gun.

Griffith is an old army buddy, special ops, and has a house in the tiny hamlet that he has let Broker bring his family to, isolation for Nina, who has gone into a complete breakdown of depression. Her right shoulder is “mending” after a shoot out on assignment that cost the life of Nina’s partner and another soldier.

Broker insists on taking care of Nina, which is a rough time of juggling Kit and school and making sure Nina is safe. The town gossips have already labeled them as weird. Why do they not see Kit’s mother? Why does the father drop the child off and pick her up after school?

It is all manageable until one day fate decides to play dirty. On the playground, Teddy Klumpe is the son of the garbage man and a nasty little bully. His mother, Cassie Bodine is part of the notorious Bodine clan that ride roughshod over the barrens outside of town, back in the big woods.

If you like mysteries and thrillers, this Chuck Logan novel will keep you riveted to your bed all through the night. Kit is bullied by Teddy, who throws her gloves on top of a shed at the back of the school. He then physically pushes Kit hard. But Kit is no Stepford Kid, she decks the obnoxious Teddy, giving him a nosebleed.

Parents are called to school and Cassie Bodine isn’t about to let any kid hit her Teddy. She gets her brother, “Gator” involved. Morgun Bodine, alias Gator is a prison-hard lowlife who works with the sheriff by giving names of small-time dope dealers. Gator confiscates the cooking ingredients and takes them home with him. It covers his own
meth cooking. He is smart enough that the sheriff and local authorities have let Gator own a firearm and hunt
out in the big woods.

Gator has a real final way of dealing with those he finds a nuisance, and the burned out wreck of his cousin’s home in the barrens is testimony. Now Cassie puts her brother on Broker’s tail. There is more to the situation than meets the eye, and soon Broker, Nina and Kit are in a dangerous situation. Nina has come of her depression and they plan to move back home when the whole thing goes out of control. Add a vicious killer-for-hire to the mix and things spiral into a bloody chase.

The excitement is intoxicating. Logan is a writer of brittle verse and strong actions, a writer who compromises nothing. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants a riveting read by a terrifically talented writer.…

Book Review: Sleepwalk by John Saul

Book Review: Sleepwalk by John Saul

Judith Sheffield is a teacher at an inner-city high school with troubled students. One day, her Aunt Rita calls from Borrego, New Mexico, where she grew up, to offer her a job as a teacher, after the previous teacher had a stroke. Judith jumps at the chance and moves back.

Borrego is a small town in which most of the townspeople work at the old oil refinery. Borrego borders an old Indian reservation and the townspeople do not get along well with the Indians.

Upon her return, Judith is reunited with her Aunt Rita, Uncle Max, who owns much of the town and the refinery, and Rita’s nephew, Dr. Mooreland, an old crush and now town doctor.

Judith befriends Frank Arnold, foreman at the refinery, and his son Jed, whose mother was Indian, which makes him an outcast in both communities, resulting in many fights.

Max dies while driving and the refinery is sold to a big corporation, causing a big upheaval.

Judith becomes suspicious when the corporation and Dr. Mooreland have the town’s students take flu shots when no epidemic exists. After she discovers that the flu shots don’t really contain flu vaccine, the corporation and Dr. Mooreland want to shut her and others up.

It’s up to Jed Arnold, his grandfather, Brown Eagle, and Peter, Judith’s scientist friend, to find out what is going on with the town’s children acting like drones, mysterious strokes & deaths, and rescue Judith and the town from one scientist’s vision of a perfect world of slave-like people.

This was a quick read that I couldn’t stop reading until it was over.

The characters are very likeable with great depth, especially Judith and Jed.

The southwestern backdrop offers terrific imagery and the added culture clash, which adds to the realism of the characters.

The ending is good but I wish it had an epilogue which told us what happened to the corporation after Jed saved the day. Saved the day isn’t exactly correct because many of the good guys are dead by the end. It’s not the happiest of endings.

This 1990 novel blends sci-fi and horror with drama to create a simple, yet solid story that is sure to please genre and Saul fans. It feels very Koontz-like.…

Book Review: Dead Witch Walking

Book Review: Dead Witch Walking

Dead Witch Walking

Kim Harrison


Dead Witch Walking is based in a world that is similar to our own, only except in that world there are vampires, witches, were-wolves, pixies and other creatures that go bump in the night.

Kim Harrison has a way of writing her characters that you really feel that they are real and could come walking in through your door at anytime. She has a fluid style that keeps the story going and is able to add just the right amount of action when needed.

This is the first book in a series of books based in the hollows. The book follows bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan as she tries to figure out who is killing other witch’s, avoid a demon that’s out to kill her and avoid the assassins sent by her old bosses at the IS. All in a days work for Rachel Morgan.

Rachel is having problems though; all her stuff has been spelled so that when she touches any of it she will get blown up. She took the offer to move in with her ex-partner from the IS, who just happens to be a living vampire. Let’s just say things get a little bumpy. Her not knowing that some of the things she doing is setting off Ivy’s vampire senses.

A little background info on the story. It takes place on a parallel earth where the scientist was working on genetically engineering tomatoes to make them more nutritious and healthy for everyone. Well something went wrong and the tomatoes actually developed a virus that wipes out almost two-thirds of the human population. This all happened back in the 1960’s.

With two-thirds of the human population dead, the Inderlander races decided it was time to come forward and let the world know they exist. If not for them the earth would have been plunged into a new dark ages for they stepped in and to over governments and maintain peace and civilization.

As you can see it is a very unique vision of our world even though it takes place on an alternate earth. Kim Harrison has a fertile imagination and I must say that I have enjoyed everything she has written to date.

Her other works include:

The Good, The Bad, and The Undead

Every Which Way but Dead

Dates From Hell (anthology of stories from other authors other than Kim Harrison – Undead In The Garden of Good and Evil)

A Fistful of Charms

For a Few Demons More…

Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner was actually assigned to me for a Literature class that I took my sophomore year in college. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to reading a 371-page novel at the end of the semester when I had four large papers and finals looming over me. I decided to read the first thirty pages so that I could pass the “reading quiz” (I know, that’s so lame) and then sell the book back to the bookstore. After fifteen minutes of reading, this plan was shot. I ended up staying up most of the night, devouring this book. Hosseini’s debut novel is so amazing that I literally could not put it down!

The Kite Runner is the story of two young boys growing up in Afghanistan. Amir is the son of a wealthy business man. His father is one of the richest merchants in Kabul and his mother, who died at childbirth, had royal blood. Amir is a Pashtun (Sunni). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hasssan is the son of Amir’s father’s servant. He is a Hazara, a Shi’a minority so looked down upon that they are barely even mentioned in textbooks. Although these boys come from completely different backgrounds, they are best friends (though Hassan also acts as a personal servant to Amir). Hosseini gives adequate background but the real story begins in the winter of 1975, before the Russian invasion. In fact, the entire novel surrounds an event that took place on the day of the annual kite-fighting tournament, a long-time winter tradition in Afghanistan. On this day, the lives of the boys changed forever, putting their friendship and characters to the test. The rest of the novel chronicles the next twenty-five years of the boys’ lives.

This is a story about love, friendship, betrayal and redemption. This is by far the most realistic portrayal of human nature that I have ever read and it left me absolutely breathless. In fact, just writing this review makes me want to read the book again. This was simply one of the most fabulous novels I have ever read. Although I was disturbed by some of the actions of the characters throughout the novel, it really spoke to me because this is truly how people are, at the core. Hosseini does such an amazing job of capturing the human spirit. Some of the issues tackled are hard to swallow but at the same time, this is real life. This was real for young men in 1975 Afghanistan. This was real for growing men in 1980’s Soviet occupied Afghanistan. This novel was so real, so poignant and so awe-inspiring. In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini has written a touching yet utterly realistic novel. The Kite Runner is a masterpiece and a must-read!…

Book Review: Shakespeare in Hollywood

Book Review: Shakespeare in Hollywood

Robert F. Willson Jr.’s Shakespeare in Hollywood, 1929-1956 is a historical study of several of Shakespeare’s major works and the films which were inspired by them. The book covers productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar. It also discusses several other Shakespearean films, mostly films such as To Be or Not to Be, and A Double Life that were extremely loose adaptations of Shakespeare, often bearing no obvious resemblance to the original whatsoever except for some ambiguous Shakespearean themes.

In the introduction to the book, Willson discusses the perception of Louis B. Mayer, the longtime head of Metro Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and how he believed that a Shakespeare film would essentially be a failure at the box office mainly due to lack of interest among the mainstream film going public. However, certain filmmakers had a desire to prove their artistic ability through less commercialized films, and Willson’s thesis argues that studios then made these movies to cement their images as purveyors of the artistic rather than just a studio churning out films which were guaranteed successes. Also, he attempts to establish that certain aspects of these films came to characterize Hollywood cinema as a whole. For example, the idea of adaptations of novels into film that was obviously being done for these Shakespearean films is still a commonplace practice in filmmaking today.

Willson writes about several film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, however the chapter of his book which most successfully supports his thesis is the second chapter, called “‘Doing Shakespeare Right’: Warner Brothers’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)”. In this chapter, Willson most clearly demonstrates the studio’s desire for artistic respect, and also shows how the studios tempted a wider audience into seeing these films. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was previewed to women’s clubs and parent and teacher organizations. According to Willson, the reviews from these organizations gave the studio confidence that they were on the right track in their efforts to “elevate the cultural content” of their films. The studios also focused on the audiences who would traditionally be less interested in a film like A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Willson describes the studio’s tactic of using contract players, instead of hiring actors on a film-to-film basis. James Cagney, the actor who plays Bottom in the production was a very well known star and this factor contributed greatly towards the success of the film.

This aforementioned chapter was very persuasive pertaining to Willson’s thesis. When he first argues that studios wanted to make more artistic films to prove their credibility, it is difficult to understand why they would want to do that during such an influential time in cinema, and possibly risk losing loads of money on a film that very few people were interested in seeing. In this chapter though, it is explained well why these filmmakers had confidence in bringing Shakespearean theater to the big screen despite the nervousness that Louis B. Mayer had surrounding the idea. Through their careful promotion of the film to two entirely different audiences they ended up with a success, thus enabling characteristics like the adaptation of plays and novels to film to carry on into modern filmmaking.

For the most part, the other chapters of Willson’s book prove his thesis similarly. However, he does discuss Romeo and Juliet and Othello, and seems to be subtly suggesting the idea that because these films flopped maybe Mayer was correct, and that audiences really were not ready for Shakespearean adaptations. This idea is the only factor that weakens Willson’s thesis, because the other material in the book predominately supports his idea that by selling these films properly to both those interested in culture, and those interested in mainstream film, a Shakespeare adaptation can easily be a success.

The notes and accompanying bibliography in the final pages of the book would prove very useful to someone doing an extensive research paper on a topic in this area. The bibliography lists roughly seventy sources which Willson consulted for his book. The notes are useful as well and there are comments within them that highlight which ones may be of particular use to those interested in similar topics.

Although a general knowledge of Shakespeare’s plots is not essential to understanding this book, a reader would get the most out of it if they were at least aware of the different characters and basic plots in the plays. Therefore, it could be appreciated by people interested in film history or someone just looking to learn about Shakespeare in an interesting way. This text would also prove especially useful to a literature student who has previously studied Shakespeare in depth. Willson’s analysis of the films just further enhances an already solid understanding of Shakespearean texts.…

Best Cooking Recipes Reviews

Best Cooking Recipes Reviews

Maybe you just moved into a new house and you are just trying to determine how can you make it on your own, and how can you keep up with the increasing demands of your children about food. If you are looking for diverse combinations, you will probably need a new source of recipes. Here are some ideas about choosing a cooking book with the best cooking recipes reviews.

Don’t choose a book by its cover, they say. It is true, as you will not need the most expensive and popular cooking book available. It all depends on your preferences and lifestyle. For example, if you are an active person that doesn’t like to cook too much at home, you will probably need the best cooking recipes for microwave. This is a lot different from a young mother, who would probably look for healthy and complex recipes for her children.

Content vs. Style

Photos and videos are ideal when you are looking for best recipes online; however, there is a secret when choosing a recipes book. The really useful books don’t have so many illustrations. Maybe it is OK to post a photo of the recipe at the end, but make sure the purpose of photos is to educate, not to impress. Maybe you will not be happy that your foods don’t look exactly like the ones in the book, and this is definitely affecting your morale. If you are just looking for a cooking book with the best recipes reviews for microwave, you will not need so many photos showing the food in the oven all the time.


Maybe you are the kind of cook that likes to stay on the phone while waiting for the food to be ready, or maybe you are looking for a complicated recipe with foreign spices. Any good cooking book needs a glossary and a list of terms useful for the cook. Without this, you might end up spending more time with translations then with actually cooking.

Clarity of recipes

People looking for microwave recipes are usually looking for fast recipes that are easy to understand and make. It is why the clarity of the recipe is the secret of its success. Read it from the start to the end, and make sure you understood everything about it before starting.

Extra information

We live in a modern world where the taste of the food is not the only aspect that matters. People are interested about calories, carbohydrates, long term diets and healthy foods. Make sure your recipe book has many positive reviews and that they are also giving dietary advises and information.


Some recipe book readers are looking for specific recipes, such as the one for microwave. Read the reviews about any cooking book you are about to buy, and make sure it addresses specifically to your needs. Don’t worry, as there are specialized recipes books for grilling, baking, but also for specific appliances such as the blender or microwave oven.…

A Book Review of The Kite Runner

A Book Review of The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is an excellent story of human relations influenced by restrictive social and religious norms, of betrayal caused by personal weakness, of years of suffering from guilt and attempts to escape from it, and eventual redemption through confronting the cause of guilt and doing something right to, if not make it right, then at least balance the evil of the past. Following in the background of the private stories of the main characters is the story of Afghanistan as a country, and the suffering of this land provides a strong emotional undertone for the rest of the story.

The two main characters of the story are Amir and Hassan who, as boys, were growing up together in the 1970s Afghanistan. Even though the boys belonged to the same household, their status was not the same: Amir was Pashtun, and the son of an influential businessman in Kabul; Hassan was a Hazara, part of Afghanistan’s much persecuted ethnic minority, with no social prospects aside from being a servant to a Pashtun family. Nevertheless, Baba, Amir’s father, treats both Hassan and his father, Ali, well, and the boys are inseparable while growing up, even though the social disparity between them is noticeable through such aspects like Hassan’s illiteracy and his subservient behavior during play.

The defining event of the story takes place during a kite-fighting tournament that takes place in Kabul in winter of 1975. Amir wins the tournament, with Hassan serving all the while as his kite runner – the person who goes after the opponent’s downed kite to secure it for the winner as a trophy. When Hassan does not return after going after the last defeated kite, Amir goes looking for him and walks on the scene of Hassan being confronted by Assef and his two friends – the Pashtun boys who often picked on Amir for being bookish and for liking Hazaras. While Amir watches, unseen, Amir rapes Hassan. Amir does nothing to help his friend and then pretends like nothing happened.

From this moment on, Amir is constantly racked by guilt, and his way of dealing with it is try to drive Hassan away so he does not have to face his friend every day and remember his betrayal. His attempts are unsuccessful, as Hassan proves his devotion to Amir over and over again, until Amir’s thirteenth birthday, when he frames Hassan as a thief for stealing his birthday presents. Even through Baba immediately forgives Hassan, Ali sees this as too much of a disgrace and leaves the household together with Hassan.

When the Soviets invade Afghanistan in 1979, Amir and Baba are forced to flee. They go to Pakistan first and from there manage to emigrate to the U.S. They live in Fremont, California, and eventually become immersed back into the Afghan immigrant community through the local flea market. There, Amir falls in love with a daughter of another immigrant, Soraya Taheri, and they rush through the traditional engagement process because Baba is very sick with cancer and does not have long to live. Baba dies soon after Amir and Soraya get married. All this time, Amir continues to live with his secret and his guilt.

Almost ten years after fleeing Afghanistan, Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan, one of his father’s friends, who has been living in their house in Kabul ever since they left. Rahim tells Amir that Hassan is dead, killed by the Taliban, but Hassan’s little son, Sohrab, is still alive and in an orphanage. He also tells Amir his family secret, that Baba is actually Hassan’s father. For Amir, rescuing Sohrab from Taliban-dominated Afghanistan becomes a way to “be good again.”

Amir goes through a terrible ordeal in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to find Sohrab and take him to safety of America. In the process, he comes face to face with his old nemesis, Assef – now a Taliban official – and almost dies in the encounter. Their ordeal leaves Sohrab with emotional scars that make him refuse to speak. The story ends on a hopeful note, however, with the boy acting as a kite runner to Amir during a picnic and finally speaking to his uncle – speaking the same words that his father once said to Amir, more than a quarter-century ago.

I liked the book very much, for many reasons, and would readily recommend it to my friends. First, it gives the reader – especially the reader from a Western culture – a new look at Afghanistan. Few people realize that, until the revolution that ended the monarchy and the Soviet invasion that followed, Afghanistan was a vibrant country, with well-developed business community and rich cultural life. The only Afghanistan most people – myself included – know is a backward, destitute ruin of a …