Monthly Archives: January 2014

#CBR6 Review #3 – The Dalai Lama’s Cat

The Dalai Lama's CatTarget: David Michie’s The Dalai Lama’s Cat

Profile: Religion, Self-help, Cats

After Action Report:

I don’t really like self-help books.  I find the concept to be disingenuous at best.  Something about ‘self-help’ originating from someone else’s mind is counterintuitive to me.  Still, The Dalai Lama’s Cat has an adorable kitty on the cover and it while it definitely feels like a self-help book, it’s really closer to being Vajrayana Buddhism for Dummies.

On the surface, The Dalai Lama’s Cat is the story of an abandoned kitten who is plucked from the streets by the Dalai Lama.  The cat, called a variety of names including His Holiness’s Cat and Mousie-Tung, grows up at the feet of one of the most renowned spiritual leaders of our time and decides to tell her story so that some of the wisdom she has gained will not be kept all to herself.  The book adopts a rambling narrative, relating little vignettes from HHC’s life that inevitably end in a lesson from the Dalai Lama or one of his close associates.

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#CBR6 Review #2 – The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the JinniTarget: Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni

Profile: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

After Action Report:

There’s something timelessly optimistic about ‘coming to america’ stories.  Even if we intellectually know that immigrants faced abject poverty, incredible discrimination and the lingering shadows of racial tensions held over from wherever they immigrated from, that sense of hope and of starting a new, better life pervades even the most depressing immigration story.  Helene Wecker captures this sense and deftly weaves it into a story of magic and creatures not quite human.

The Golem and the Jinni is really a story about culture shock, told from the perspective of two supernatural creatures who couldn’t possibly be any further from the concept of human culture.  Chava, a new golem without a master, has no experiences to draw on other than her instinct to help people and her tireless strength.  Ahmad, an enslaved Jinni, was sealed in a bottle for hundreds of years, trapped in human form and brought to New York without his knowledge.  For him, America is more a prison than a second chance and he must learn to work for a living and be a part of his community.

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#CBR6 Review #1 – RASL

RASLTarget: Jeff Smith’s RASL

Profile: Graphic Novel, Speculative Fiction

After Action Report:

If you look around online, the reviews for RASL are decidedly mixed.  There are complaints about the pacing, the protagonist, and a laundry list of other, minor issues that plague the graphic novel.  But the real problem most of these readers seem to have with the book, is that it isn’t Bone.  Jeff Smith really carved out a place for himself with Bone, capturing the attention of fans and critics alike but now those same fans can’t seem to move past it.  That being said, I haven’t read Bone.  So with any luck, this review will be a little less biased.

RASL opens with the narrator/protagonist, a man only identified by his calling card, a graffiti tag with the letters RASL in green and pink, stealing a Picasso from a loft apartment.  The heist goes wrong and RASL escapes into an alley where he straps on four miniature jet engines and an African mask. When the police round the corner and fire on him, he vanishes in a flash of light.  RASL can ‘Drift’ between dimensions courtesy of technology he developed from the notes of Nikola Tesla.  He makes a living stealing parallel copies of famous painting and selling them on Earth Prime.  But the jumps between dimensions are taking their toll on his body, and now someone is chasing him between the worlds.

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