Read A Book, Make A Difference – RABMAD

I came across a website recently that I would like to share. It’s called Read a Book, Make a Difference.

charity1-300x209This is from their “about” page:

What exactly is RABMAD? Well, other than being a semi-cool (and not completely forgettable) acronym, RABMAD stands for Read a Book, Make a Difference.  Shortening the name helps in a lot of ways: number of characters typed to arrive here, space on bumper stickers, etc. (For the record, you can also get here the intuitive, long-hand way—http://www.ReadABookMakeADifference.com)

RABMAD is the brainchild of author R.S. Guthrie. The concept is not new, however. Giving back. Returning success to the people.

Writers making a difference.

The concept is simple. Most avid readers are going to purchase another book. Why not give them an additional option of supporting some up and coming writers, knowing that in doing so, their hard-earned dollars not only get them a great read, but will also help someone in need with their plight?

That is what RABMAD is all about. Promoting authors who are giving back from the sales of their books. Writers who give a percentage of their net proceeds to their own chosen cause,  non-profit, or charity.

What you will find on this site is an ever-growing portfolio of talented writers who care. You will be able to browse their bios, their books, and their causes. RABMAD will link you to their author websites, Amazon pages, twitter following, and other author-related places.

—————————————————–

I think this is very cool (I know I’m dating myself with that word but I can’t think of a better one at the moment), and since I have done this  – in my case, donating a portion of the sale of each book I sell to the education of poor children – I thought I’d join. My profile is here with a picture of some very funny and cute boys. So if you’re a reader, consider checking out some of these authors. If you’re writer and you use some of your book sales to help others, consider joining.

Thanks.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This is supposed to be a classic and the movie Apocalypse Now was supposed to have been based on this book, so I thought I’d give it a try

heart of dGenre: fiction

Blurb: (from the audio book jacket) “Acclaimed as one of the great, albeit disturbing, visionary works of Western civilization, Joseph Conrad’s haunting tale dramatizes the ugly realities of British colonial imperialism. Charlie Marlow, a seaman, is sent by an ivory company to retrieve a cargo boat and one of its employees, Mr. Kurtz, who is stranded deep in the heart of the Belgian Congo. Marlow’s  journey up the treacherous, dark river soon becomes a struggle to maintain his own sanity as he witnesses the brutalization of the natives by white traders and discovers the enigmatic Mr. Kurtz. Kurtz, once a genius and the company’s most successful representative, has transformed into an atrocious savage and traded his soul to become ruler of his own horrific sovereignty, free from the conventions of European culture.”

What I liked: That it was short and the narrator, Scott Brick did a wonderful Marlow.

What I didn’t like: I’m not sure who wrote that blurb, but they sold me and whoever else reads this book a bill of goods. What brutalization? who was a atrocious savage…? I’m not sure what book he/she read, but it wasn’t this one. This is one of those “classics” that it is so dull it has to be a classic or it would have gone out of print. Whenever you see “visionary works” beware. I tried to figure out the point of this story but I must be too dull. I just couldn’t do it. I tried, I really did. I listened to the whole thing, thinking I’d get it as some point, but I never did. This is one of those books that you pick apart in a literature class because otherwise there would be no point in reading it. I never saw Apocalypse Now – I heard it was very brutal and I’m not into brutal – so I’m not sure what Francis F. Coppola was smoking when he adapted his movie from this book, but it must have been good stuff.

Rating: 1/5

1984 in 1949

Example of a good opening line: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

1984

On this day in 1949 the book, 1984 by Eric Arthur Blair, AKA George Orwell, was published. Orwell wrote the book while on an island in the Scottish Hebrides. He wanted to get way after his wife’s death and his success with Animal Farm. He had TB but continued to write, despite his illness (he also remarried – the marriage taking place in the hospital in October of 1949). Born June 23, 1903 in India. His mother moved the family to England when he was one. He died January 21, 1950 at the age of 49 in London.  orwell

Some of his other books are: The Clergyman’s Daughter, Burmese Days, Coming Up For Air, Down and Out in Paris and London, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (I have to look at this one just because of the title – What’s an aspidistra?!)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

If you read The Kite Runner and liked it, then you will really enjoy A Thousand Splendid Suns.a thousand s suns

Genre: Fiction

Blurb: (From Goodreads) A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them—in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul—they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

What I liked: I liked The Kite Runner, but for me, some of the coincidence made certain parts of the book just too unbelievable, making the story less real. There was none of that here, only a wonderful story written (as in Khaled’s previous book) so that you are completely immersed in a land and culture that most in the West know little about. Growing up in the West, it is a difficult story to read at times. Besides the hardship of war, the hardships and persecution these women endure because of where they live and the time that the story takes place, it can upset a Westerner such as myself. But it’s a good education, and worth the nasty bits. (Khaled knows how to make a bad guy a bad guy.) I also have to give a nod to the narrator of the audio I listened to. Her name is Atossa Leoni and she did a wonderful job.

What I didn’t like: Khaled starts out talking about Mariam (one of the two main protagonists in the book) as a young girl, chronicling her hard yet simple life until she is a young teen (I won’t give away what happens to her then), but then she is suddenly dropped [Yes, it felt like the author literally dropped the character], and we have to abruptly switch gears and start over with the other main protagonist, Laila. The two women do eventually meet, their relationship and lives in the war-torn country is the main gist of the story, but that change from one women’s story to the next was a bit harsh.

Rating: 4.5/5

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

city of falling angelsGenre: nonfiction

Review:  Berendt reads his own nonfiction exploration of the seamy side of Venice with an insider’s hushed tones, chronicling the life and times of the city’s movers and shakers like a naughty child sharing an overheard secret. Following up his similar study of Savannah in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt has cobbled together a series of entertaining tales of the legendary canal city, ranging from the squabbles of Venetian fund-raisers to the fire in the Venice Opera House. Like a cocktail-party raconteur with a particularly juicy story to tell, Berendt twists his listeners’ ears with his book’s seamless string of Venice-themed misbehavior and decadence. Only occasionally overemoting, Berendt mostly maintains the proper tone of high-society gossip delivered succinctly. Berendt’s intimate voice helps to tie together the disparate strands of his sometimes-sprawling book.

From Publishers Weekly – Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

What I liked: It gives an interesting view of Venice that the average Joe would not be able to see. It is written well – good dialogue, flows well.

What I didn’t like: It seemed like a book of gossip. Yes, Bernedt was allowed into places and was talking to people that you or I wouldn’t have access to, I would suppose because of his Good and Evil book fame, but to say that it’s nonfiction seems a bit of a stretch. There is much conjecture here that makes it more story than fact (for example – how does Berendt know how what went on in the glass artist home during the Opera house fire, let alone how the artist felt about it.) It also amazes me that Berendt took, I think it was at least 5 years – I can’t recall since I listened to this book awhile ago – to research and write this book. Maybe the man has a second job, but I doubt it. Hopefully his Good and Evil book gave him the funds to do this – perhaps if he had the movie rights. Overall, it’s not a bad book, but it’s interest is mostly due to the city he writes about.

Rating: 3.5/5

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Book blurb:Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’ s incomplete grasp of adult motives–together with her precocious literary gifts–brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece (from Goodreads)

Genre: literary fiction

What I liked: It’s a good story overall. It’s very well written. The historical aspects appear “spot on.”

What I didn’t like: It’s a good story – starting about page 120. It’s well written – though I would say verbose. If McEwan were reading it aloud, I would say he wrote it because he likes to hear the sound of his voice speaking such eloquently created sentences. They are well written sentences, to be sure, but there is just too much of it. As I read in one review, it’s like one of those books you’re forced to read in English class and pick apart so much you hate the thing by the end. And I’ve never read something that has such minimal dialogue.
From the reviews that fill three full pages of the beginning of the novel I had I would have thought this was truly an “astonishing…enthralling…masterpiece of moral inquiry…” but it wasn’t. I think that’s what bothered me the most. It seems like these reviews were written by literary snobs who wanted to make sure they said what everyone else was saying. Kind of the Emperors new cloths phenomenon. And the ending; I dislike when author tell you – ‘Oh, by the way, the piece I wrote earlier, the character just made that up, or was dreaming or…’  I think it’s supposed to add a twist and more reality to the tale (which it does) but it still makes me feel cheated.
It’s not a bad book – though again, be ready to read a lot of it before you actually feel like you want to read more – it’s not the “astonishing…enthralling…masterpiece…” the critics would have you believe.

Rating it 2.5/5