Sep 28

[Review] A Salty Piece Of Land by Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Buffett’s music has been a friend of mine for quite some time. The mood that the majority of his melodies create in me is one of relaxation and feeling that everything is right with the world, if only for a moment. They are the ultimate in escapism, which is why I return to them time and again.

“A Salty Piece of Land” is similar in this regard. It is a form of escapism, which Mr. Buffett clearly admits to in his author’s note at the end of the book. The book was published in 2004, but was being worked during September of 2001. From the author’s note:

“The world also changed forever in the middle of this literary journal after 9/11, which made me realize that now, more than ever, we don’t just enjoy our escapism — we NEED it.”

This book certainly delivers on that. It follows the adventures of Tully Mars, a character who was introduced to us in Jimmy Buffett’s “Tales From Margaritaville”. He’s a cowboy from Wyoming who finds himself on the run from an ex employer and ends up finding various rest stops in and around the Caribbean. Along the way, he meets various characters and they have have the laid back adventures that remind you of Jimmy Buffett’s songs and in many ways, the adventures affect your mood in much the same way. You feel relaxed, and you start to think that all could be right with the world if you could just hop a boat to the Caribbean (and stop being a Gringo).

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Sep 28

[Review] Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is definitely one of my favorite books. I’ve read it multiple times, and it’s become like an old friend. When reading becomes tiresome and I’ve just dredged my way through some 1700 page tome that I couldn’t hold up while I was trying to read it in bed, I grab Ender’s Game and I can motor through it in a day or two, enjoying the trip every time.

At the heart of the book is the character of Ender Wiggin, a young boy who is essentially the end result of a government breeding program to produce the ultimate soldiers. Earth is at war with a rage of ant-like creatures called Buggers. It’s Ender Wiggin’s purpose in life to train and be ready to take on the Buggers.

To do so, he’s sent to a training facility where almost all of the training revolves around games. Ender is the best at every game he tries, and he soon becomes the best in the training facility, too. However, in order to be come the best he is isolated and challenged on so many levels that at times he questions his own abilities and his own sanity.

The trappings of the story are exciting and wonderful. The main game that the soldiers play is a type of laser tag in space. The different strategies that are detailed in the stories and the competitions between the groups of soldiers carries the story forward at a quick pace.

But at the heart of the story is the character of Ender Wiggin himself. He is a boy afraid of what he is capable of becoming. His bother, Peter, was rejected for the school because he was too cruel, while his sister Valentine, was rejected because she was too willing to empathize with others. Ender is in the middle of this, and his internal fight is to be more like Valentine while all the outside forces on him want him to be like Peter. This struggle, and it’s eventual resolution, are what make Ender’s Game a book that is compelling and so re-readable.

As you can tell, I would highly recommend this book. As for it’s cons, I would mention a couple of things. The children in the book are quite young, and while they are bred for the military, it’s hard to reconcile what they do with their ages. I would be hard-pressed to find an actual five year old that could focus and understand the depth of what they were doing. When my wife read it, she had a very hard time with the fact that they were forcing children into this life.

Sep 27

Welcome (First Post)

Welcome to Bent Bindings, where books go when they want to be read. This is a new endeavor for me, so things may change as time goes on, but my intent with this web site is to give readers, real readers, a place to come and read. The bulk of my entries on this site will be reviews of books that I’ve read, though there will also be multiple postings about reading itself. The joy it brings, the community of readers out there, and great thoughts about reading in general.

If you’re still reading, chances are this is something you are interested in. So, click on the RSS feed, subscribe, and join me on the adventure that will become Bent Bindings.