Book Review #6 Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City

Good day everyone, hope all is well! Welcome to my sixth book review, this time I will be reviewing a historical book called Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin. A good size book of 372 pages. I will admit I cheated a little with this book because I read this book earlier in the year for grad school, but I still remember the content of the book as if I had to write an assignment.

Overview: It’s 1927, Henry Ford is one of the richest men in American dominating the auto industry.  Ford now wants to try his hand with the rubber industry, so Ford buys land in the Brazilian Amazon twice the size of Delaware to achieve this industry. Ford’s ultimate goal is to have a thriving rubber plantation run by the locals who will have conformed to the American way and around the rubber plantation there will be a thriving city filled with American luxuries. But, immediately after Ford bought the land for the rubber plantation and city that was going to be Fordlandia there are problems: the untamable jungle of the Amazon, bad management sent from America to oversee the plantation, and the indigenous population rejection of the American way and culture. Along with the broken promise of Ford himself coming to visit the people of Brazil. The reader gets to experience the fallen rubber empire that the mighty Henry Ford failed to produce.

My Opinion: For Fordlandia being a book I had to read for grad school I really enjoyed it. I give this book a 4/5 stars! Not for being a topic I enjoy for history purposes but how accessible to is to historians and casual readers. Like Erik Larson’s books Greg writes Fordlandia in a novel style, not like a dry history books like a lot of scholarly history books are. Also a bonus it’s a history book written by an actual historian not a politician (Sorry people who are Bill O’Riley fans but I don’t find his work creditable even if he does have a history degree, it’s not scholarly work).

Greg breaks up Fordlandia into three parts: a beginning, middle and end. Greg had a great part 1 to start Fordlandia of how Ford went about wanting to be in the rubber industry, buying the land, and working with American politicians to work with the Brazilian government for the land and workers. Part 2 of Fordlandia shifts to daily life and struggles of getting the plantation started and running and the people living there. Part 3 of Forlandia focus on the fall and abandonment of the plantation all together. From the beginning Greg addresses all the triumphs (even if there wasn’t a lot when it came to Fordlandia) and struggles to the end of the plantation.

Though Fordlandia focus on a more negative time in Ford’s life, Greg is not scrutinizing Ford for being a terrible person. Greg is addressing and bringing awareness to a time where Ford didn’t do his best or have the best judgment, and abandoned a project. Also the effects the rubber plantation on Ford, the workers both local and Americans down in Brazil and the ecosystem. To this day the buildings of the plantation are still up in Brazil, in very bad shape though and abandoned but still there if people ever want to visit.

Because it is a history book there is no cliff hanger or surprise ending like a novel, just a straight to the point ending that doesn’t really leave much questions for the reader. Greg does have a very good ending to Fordlandia even though it was not a happy ending. Though when it comes to history, historians can’t get the full story from just one book. Historians must have other sources to help claim and back up evidence but Greg does have great sources for Fordlandia of other scholarly books and articles to back up his claims and evidence. The other scholarly sources used in Fordlandia could be used if a reader wanted to continue to research about the failed plantation of Fordlandia. Fordlandia is a great start because it’s an enjoyable read then a reader or researcher can jump into the heavier reads of scholarly works. Anyway, I recommend this book to both historians and casual novel readers. I also plan to read more of Greg’s works because in general they’re great.

 

Cover Credit: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ujR5Va8xL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Book Review #5: BoyzNite

Hello everyone and welcome to my fifth book review! This review is on the short story “BoyzNite” by Xane J. Fisher. A very short story that only consist of 12 pages and only offered digitally. Though it is a short read it’s a very good read and an easy way to add a book to your list of books you have read!

Overview: The reader follows Ian Peters, a young law student who has come to live with his family in Oregon for the summer until the next semester of school starts in California.However the story only focuses on the first day and night that Ian has arrived home, with his reconnections with his friends and family and an epic night of partying. Though “BoyzNite” does have a small plot the story mostly focuses on Ian’s thoughts and emotions. The reader mostly engages with Ian and his struggles of seeing how his old home town and those in it have changed for better or worse.

My Opinion: Though I will admit I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, I don’t seek them out because I like to read a long story. However this short story was fantastic I give this book and 4 out of 5 stars!! “BoyzNite” is a very relatable story  for a good amount of people. Even I can relate to this story, even though I am not a man. Which is probably why I’m giving this short story such a good rating, but I will focus on three ways this story is relatable to the masses.

One, Ian is 25 growing up in probably 2016 (there is no date mentioned in the story but it refers to themes in the 21st century) so this character would be in my generation so he reflects a small part of the struggles of our generation. Ian struggles to be himself in a society that he feels doesn’t need him or his opinions also Ian feels he needs to live up to an older generation where he will never fit in.

Second, the party that Ian attends was a way for him to reconnect with his old life and friends which we all do from time to time. A party that will release Ian from his responsibilities, reality and future. A night to escape until tomorrow comes. We all need that party to lose yourself in: forgetting your troubles, reconnecting with old friends. A nostalgic feeling  with old friends that reminds you why life is worth living.

Third, the conflicting differences of peoples different lives compared to your own life. When Ian comes back to his old hometown he is the only one out of family and friends with a excellent college education. Everyone Ian knows had big plans and dreams for their life which were never achieved and they had to fall back on second best and got stuck with a second best life. Especially when it comes to Ian’s brother Devin and old middle school sweetheart, Kristen. Devin has not followed in his brother’s footsteps of going to a prestigious college and lives life his own way, which Ian silently judges. Ian keeps wanting to lecture his brother about improving his lifestyle, but keeps his thoughts to himself. For Ian’s old sweetheart he learns Kristen’s struggle to handle the life that has been dealt to her. Ian is conflicted of how to help because college has paved a very bright future for him and doesn’t understand the struggles of people who have a hard life or those who can’t go to college to change their life. Ian can’t sympathize with people who have a hard life because he won’t have one. Whether the reader or someone the reader knows whether they did or didn’t go to college and have a bright future there are people in your past who presently have a hard life and a not so bright future, sometimes you can’t help them because you don’t know how or you just can’t in general. It’s how life is.

The ending was great! Xane left the ending very satisfying with a small cliff hanger. Xane could have continued the story but it’s a story that doesn’t need to be continued, it’s great where it left off. The continuation of the story can be left up to the readers imagination as well. I highly recommend this story I’m also hoping that Xane writes more stories in the future!

 

*A special thanks to Royal James Publishing company for letting me have the ARC to review this book!

Cover Image credit source: Amazon

Double Header Book Review: Book Review #4 Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits

Well I did warn in the title there would be a double header of book reviews so lets get to it! Welcome to my fourth book review of the book “Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits” by David Wong. A light read of 372 pages. If the name David Wong sounds familiar don’t worry he does have more than one book: “This Book is Full of Spiders” and “John Dies at the End” which was actually turned into a movie. I actually had not heard of Wong’s other books or that one was a movie before I read “Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits”, I saw this book on Amazon in the recommended section for Welcome to Night Vale.

Overview: As the title says the theme of the book is futuristic crimes and people who do wear fancy suits. Zoey Ashe, a young woman in her early 20’s living in the trailer trash outskirts of rural Colorado is about to have her life changed by the death of her father, Arthur Livingston who never really bothered to be in her life. Arthur has left his entire fortune to Zoey which is worth billions of dollars of dirty money. Zoey now must travel to  Tubla Ra$a, a city of no rules and the rich indulge in the under belly that thrives to claim her inheritance before bounty hunters with god-like powers hired by her father’s nemesis kill her. Joining Zoey is her father’s four main coworkers called The Suits and together can they help Zoey claim her inheritance and clean the mess her dad left behind or will she be brutally murdered  before then?

My Opinion: Ugh, as painful it is for me to give a bad rating it pains me even more with having read this book so with that I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. I originally was going to give it 3 out 5 but I’m still disappointed at the book.

“Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits” was very simple and straight to the point with the plot, no sidetracking or side quests for Zoey. The plot was pretty good with a good action story to it. As bad as a review I gave it I did really love the beginning of the “Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits”, Wong threw the reader right into the action, and it was such fast paced action I was really impressed and got really excited. The action of the book doesn’t really stop till about a quarter into the book, but then it got slow to catch the reader up with context and back story. Which is fine but because there was such fast paced action the slow part was like walking with 50lb weights attached to your feet. There are more action scenes in the book which move the story along but there began to be less and less and they were smaller and smaller scenes as compared to the beginning and has more talking parts.

Zoey at first was so cool, I thought she was one of the coolest female protagonist I ever read. She was an average girl when it came to looks who was smart, witty, rebellious, and well grounded. However the further in the story the more annoying she was and lost the cool parts about her and then I stopped liking her in general. I understand that Zoey was going through circumstances that was new to her and scary but still she became an annoying helpless girl. Especially when it came unnecessary romance with Zoey and her body guard (it’s ok to roll your eyes, I did), I will say it wasn’t like the typical romance like “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” where Zoey had two guys to choose from fighting for her. But it was a step below it.

My favorite character that stayed the same through the entire book was Will Blackwater, one of the Suits that worked for Zoey’s father. Will however was more important than the rest of The Suits and was Arthur’s right hand man. Will was a very sly, dangerous, mysterious man which made him the best part of the book. If this book was ever to be a movie either George Clooney  or Jon Hamm need to play the role and no one else!!

The ending for me sucked, I hated it, I have nothing good to say about it. At this point in the book I really didn’t care for Zoey. If she died I would have accepted that and would have said thank god I don’t have to listen to her talk! For the most part of the ending it was small action scenes and so much talking about Zoey being scared and other stuff that I just keep thinking get to the damn point or final action scene. As much as I hate doing this, I skipped chapters. I skipped 5-7 chapters (the chapters were no long in this book) because it was just Zoey and the group just talking about the final battle plans, emotions and it was so boring and terrible. When it did come to the final battle I just skimmed it because I didn’t want to deal with “Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits” anymore. I’m disappointed because “Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits” lost its excitement that it had in the beginning. I have read tons of books where there was tons of conversations parts and a mix of action parts but “Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits” was not exciting anymore. Just an annoying girl name Zoey just going through an adventure with boring, annoying, whiny conversations. Anyway read “Futuristic Crimes and Fancy Suits” if you want I don’t exactly recommend it, since it doesn’t get better after the beginning.

Image credit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Futuristic-Violence-Fancy-Suits-David/dp/1250040191

Double Header Book Review: Book Review #3 Welcome to Night Vale the Novel

Well I’ve been reading my books so fast that I have two book reviews back to back!! With that welcome to my third book review of the book “Welcome to Night Vale” a novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, it is a good read of 401 pages. This book as the image of the cover shows it is based off of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale! It’s no surprise that I’m a fan of the podcast so the creators of Welcome to Night Vale announced the had made a novel of the series I jumped on that so fast!

Overview: The setting is in the strange, otherworldly, Southwest desert town of Night Vale. Where  the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while its citizen pretend to sleep. The reader follows two average citizens living in Night Vale: Jackie Fierro & Diane Crayton.

Jackie Fierro is a 19 years old teen who can’t seem age past the age of 19 and has been 19 as long as she can remember who works at the Night Vale pawn shop. During a regular day at work Jackie is handed a piece of paper written in pencil that reads “KING CITY” by a strange man wearing a tan jacket with a deer skin suitcase whom no matter how hard you try you can never remember his face or name. Jackie can never seem to get rid of this piece and paper that reads “KING CITY”, no matter how hard she tries. Whether she throws it away, burn it, even taking a shower it appears in her hand again intact. Jackie then has no choice but to seek out the man in the tan jacket with the deer skin suit case and figure out the significance of KING CITY.

Diane Crayton is an overprotective single mother of a 15 year old shape-shifting teenage named Josh. Lately Diane has been seeing Josh’s dad all over Night Vale which has never happened before. With every interaction Diane has with him, he tells her to go to KING CITY and nothing more. Also, with the reappearance of Josh’s dad has re sparked Josh’s curiosity of knowing who his dad is and wanting to see him. For Diane has never let Josh see his dad or talked much about him since he was not in Josh’s life, and feared the day they would see each other. Out of frustration Josh searches for his dad on his own, first in the town of Night Vale, then running away to find his dad who maybe at KING CITY.

The more Jackie and Diane search for answers the more their stories get intertwined and together they go on an epic journey for KING CITY.

My Opinion: I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars! I love this book but, then again I have a bias towards Welcome to Night Vale since I love and listen to the podcast. The writing style is just like that of the podcast since it was written by the same people, so they’re isn’t a contrasting difference of style between the book and podcast.

I fully enjoyed the story as a whole with these two charters. Jackie and Diane are mentioned in the podcast but not very often or too much that there is much focus on them in general. So we get to know more about two characters in the world of Night Vale. Personally I was a little worried that the book didn’t focus on Cecil Palmer the main character and voice of Night Vale in the podcast, he was what I and other listeners were used to. However Jackie and Diane were amazing characters and I loved them throughout the entire book. Jackie and Diane had such great character depth and progress in the story it was rather enjoyable to read about then than Cecil. But there were several chapters dedicated to Cecil’s radio broadcast so, Cecil did make appearance in the book which was great as well. There really wasn’t a part of the story I disliked at all , even when it was people talking a lot, it was great dialogue.

The disadvantage this review has to bring up with the book has is for those who have not listened to the podcast. Because I already know the background, story, running jokes and reoccurring themes of Welcome to Night Vale, I don’t know what it’s like for anyone reading the book who hasn’t listened to the podcast. I don’t know if readers would feel like their missing something like an inside joke. For example if someone only watches the Marvel movies like “The Avengers” and none of the TV shows like “Marvel: Agents of Shield” and don’t get the small things that get slipped in the later movies referencing the show.

However at the same time I don’t think readers need to go out of their way and listen to the podcast to understand the story or the Welcome to Night Vale theme in general. The unfortunate part if readers do want to listen to the podcast before they read the book they have to listen to like 70 plus episodes before they get to the point when the book was released. Or you can read the book to spark an interest in the podcast. Or don’t listen to the podcast, it’s up to you.

The ending was very satisfying, like any podcast episode it leaves the listener/reader wanting more. Fulfilling the readers obsession with the weird, creepy, and the strange. It’s hard for me to go into much detail about the ending with out me spoiling it. So go read it now!

The creators of Welcome to Night Vale have stated that they will be writing more novels! So this will not be the only book and will be a series whether it’s the same characters Jackie and Diane I can’t tell you that for I don’t know. Not only the novels are being published but the scripts of the podcast our coming out soon, as in this year soon, as in at this point I only have to wait one more month for them to come out before they are mine!!

Also please check out my other book reviews and stay tuned for more book reviews!

Image credit for Welcome to Night Vale cover: http://www.welcometonightvale.com/novel/

 

 

Book Review #2: Night Film

Welcome to my Second Book Review. This one is about the book Night Film by Marisha Pessl. the books is about 587 so a good size read. This one was actually recommended by Joseph Fink one of the creators of the podcast I love called: Welcome to Night Vale. (The Welcome to Night Vale book is next!).So my readers do me a favor, read this review then go out and grab this book to read! DO IT!! No excuses that the library or book store is closed or Amazon will get it to you later just get it now.

Overview: Young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse, but her death is ruled as a suicide. Ashley’s death being ruled as a suicide doesn’t sit well with veteran journal investigator Scott McGarth, who wants to get to the bottom of this mystery. McGarth during the investigation comes face to face with Ashley’s father Stanislas Cordova the legendary renowned cult-horror film director who has made some of the best cult-horror-psychological-thriller movies man kind has ever seen. (I’ve been on an cult/cult-horror kick for a while). However this isn’t the first death connected with the Cordova’s that McGarth has tried to investigate. But another death connected with the Cordova’s is adding more superstition of the family being cursed. Like stated before McGarth has already tried to investigate the first death connected with the Cordova’s that lost his marriage and almost his career as an investigative journalist. So now McGarth must investigate Ashley’s death without making the same mistakes, while joined by two unlikely candidates: young starting actress Nora, and strung out Hopper.Together the three of them go on the investigation that changed their lives forever, but can these three find the mystery to Ashley death?

My Opinion: I would give this book a 4 out of 5! I loved this book it was a fantastic mix of magic, fantasy, spirits and reality. Pessl had a magnificent way of writing this story I was caught up in the story so many times I would be up for late up long hours of the night. Plus Pessl creativity and effort put into this story was way out of the box, she used real people for photographs and instead of describing the person the readers got to see what Ashley and Stanislas look like. Pessl created fake (fake in sense they were fake in our real world but it was real for the story) website, newspaper articles, Rolling Stones articles, cults and so much more all for the sake of her novel.

I loved the characters especially McGarth I was so wrapped up in his character I would forget some times he was just a journalist instead of an FBI agent. The author did a great job of showing the real McGarth , his strengths of how fantastic and passionate he was at his career and his weakness of being a forgetful father and bad husband. He was such a relatable character with depth.

I loved the mystery and the case of Ashley’s death. The escalation of each place the group investigated each place got more exciting and intense leading up to a great ending. Here’s my view of the ending: AAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I LOVED IT!! The adventure, the thrill the truth of the mystery! It was amazing. It was exciting and wrapped up like a perfect symmetrical bow.I felt so satisfied with the ending there would be no need for another book or continuation of the story in any way.

But side note, Pessl goes into detail about Stanislas’s films, they’re like a remnant of Alfred Hitcock  and would be movies I seriously want to watch!! (my favorite to watch would be Thumbscrew read the book to know more details because I can’t spoil things)

What was very hard for me was getting through the parts that deal with people describing Ashley to McGarth. She was always described as a beautiful perfect being that knew everything or had a way of being able to know everything. She was perfect at the piano, teaching herself perfect Chinese in two weeks, keeping tabs on everyone even if they didn’t have a cell phone or email (How?!?), just everything she did was perfect. Ashley was too perfect to be a believable person or character. It made no sense nor explained how Ashley inexplicably knew everything. Pessl wrote the perfect person and oversold her. Ashley’s character is too unbelievable for me to sit there and read and simply accept. The pictures used of Ashley does betray her as a pretty person but personally she’s not beautiful like Scarlett Johansson (even though I do say she is beautiful in the beginning of this review I’m repeating the theme of Ashley’s description). Ashley did nothing spectacular to make me feel like she was such a spectacular person people talked her up to be. Each person McGarth talks to says the exact same thing that each person has said before. Ashley didn’t have depth to her character till the very end when the truth was finally reviled which made me like her character more in the end. I guess my point is with Ashley is what really made her her so great to everyone and why is Ashley able to be so perfect with no real explanation? But I would not get rid of Ashley just give her more depth and don’t oversell her even though the audience never truly meets her. I know an author has a to make a character great who never really interacts in the book but don’t be repetitive.

Beside that read the book. I had a great time reading it and you need to read it!

Image credit: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/27/207386392/brainy-fat-and-full-of-ideas-night-film-is-a-good-natured-thriller

Documentary Photography Historiography

Hello everyone the Fox Chock is back with another history paper! Or I should say this time it is a historiography paper. For those who don’t know what a historiography paper is, it is a an analysis of scholarly history books and articles about a certain subject of a writers choice. For example my subject for this historiography paper is about documentary photography or should I say the people who wrote about documentary photography.

I’m going to give people a heads up this is a loooong paper of 25 pages, it was for my first class in grad school so it had to be long. I’m very proud of this paper because it was the first time I had ever written a paper of this size and my teacher was a hard grader. Anyway I hope you enjoy, constructive criticism is always welcome because I do want to improve my writing! So please click the link below here to read my Documentary Photography Historiography! Continue reading

Book Review: The Ghost Network

513fF7rS+DL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Even though I do history papers I will be doing some book reviews because I love to read. This first one is the Ghost Network by Catie Disabato. A mystery novel that is pretty short read of 275 pages. Let me just say before I jump into the book I was so excited to finally read this book. I really don’t remember how I found this book or who recommended because, it took me so long like 6 months to get this book from the library  because they only had one copy. Any way lets jump in!

Overview: The way this novel is written is as if it was a book of a testimony and interviews of the events in that partake in the novel as if it was a real event. The reader follows the two main characters Regina Nix and Caitlin Taer (mostly they go by their last names Nix and Taer) on the search for the famous pop star named Molly Metropolis, who has suddenly disappeared during her tour before a concert. The reader starts to  learn the background and the relationship between Molly, Nix and Taer and why Nix and Taer are looking for Molly. Nix and Taer begin their search for Molly by going to Molly’s apartment to find clues and find Molly’s secret notebook that could help lead them to Molly. Inside the notebook they found notes about secret maps that Molly had made about the abandon subway tracks and stations in Chicago, secret codes and general notes. After reading the notebook Nix and Taer learned that Molly was in a super secret society called the New Situationists. They discover in the notebook a number and email belonging to Nicolas Berliner a friend of Molly’s and current member of the New Situationists, who is also looking for Molly. Disabato takes a break from the main plot to explain about Berliner past and how he got involved with the New Socialist and Molly. After Berliner’s past the plot moves back to the three joining together to search for Molly. While searching for Molly, Taer, Nix and Beliner run into enemies of Molly and in the end discover an amazing secret.

 

My Opinion: This book is a 3/5 stars so for me it was enjoyable but ok. This book was so well written I would get lost in the story for a while then come back to reality. I will give it to Disabato she can write and put together a story. I won’t lie I’m a sucker for secret cults/societies, and secret transportation with abandoned train stations leading to secret places, so the theme of the book really drew me in. What also was great about this book is it incorporates gay relationships, Nix and Taer are lesbians. Berliner is straight but they all interact together like regular people, there is no hate or struggles for Taer and Nix’s  relationship. Personally it was just nice to read about a lesbian couple that are not bashed for their sexuality and just treated like regular people and not something different or bad.

Reading this story was like riding a roller coaster it has its slow moment and its fast moments. Which was great because the slow parts would explain the background of the characters and the fast parts dedicated to the action. However the story could be confusing at times: it would change from a third person perspective watching Nix and Tear, then it jumped to Nix and Beliner “interviewing” Catie Disabato.

Also the plot about the New Situationsts wasn’t exactly confusing but I felt like I got left out of an inside joke that is constantly being brought up. For readers who don’t know who the New Situationsts are, it is an actual avant garde society and Disabato actually incorporates the New Situationsts ideas and theories into the novel. Which is cool if readers know who the New Situationsts are but for those who don’t it feels like being left out. Disabato does give a general description of the New Situationsts and what they stand for but at one point I did put the book down to go further depth researching them because they are mentioned so much  throughout the novel. Disabato even quotes their manifesto. I personally would have felt better reading a researching more about the New Situationsts but they means reading another book and stop reading the Ghost Network just to get a better understanding of it.

Without spoiling the ending for you guys, I was not impressed with the ending. It wasn’t terrible or made me feel like waiting six months to read this book was a waste of time but I feel it could have been better.  The beginning and middle were great which felt like it lead to a great build up for a pretty awesome ending but for me the ending was anticlimactic. To put it in an example in the real world its as if your friend set you up on a date with someone who you thought was pretty cool. Your friend talks this individual up saying they have had fun platonic interactions and that they’re funny and great. You have even seen videos of this person being pretty cool and you think they’re great and you finally get excited to finally go on this date with this person. Yet they turn out to be disappointing and not as fun as you thought they were.

But overall for me it was a fun read, I personally think it would be great if Catie continued the story, The Ghost Network does have a potential lead into a continuation of the novel turning it into a series. If that does happen I think I would like the ending better, the ending would make more sense for a continuation because of just the way it was written and it short comings.

Anyway thanks for reading if you have any books to recommend to me for a good read or a review please let me know!

Image source credit goes to Amazon.com.