One-Minute Book Reviews

June 1, 2021

Why Has Wanda Gág’s Classic ‘Millions of Cats’ Outlasted Other Books About Animals?

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You don’t have to be a cat lover to love Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats, the oldest American picture book still in print. I posted a few thoughts on why it has outlasted so many other children’s books about animals:

https://janiceharayda.medium.com/the-genius-of-wanda-g%C3%A1gs-millions-of-cats-f1e93f3bbbbf

May 25, 2021

A Hidden Theme in the Harry Potter Novels

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Harry Potter was the literary influencer-in-chief for millennials. But did he shape their lives, or did they shape his? Journalist Charlotte Alter teases apart the issues in her new book about millennials, The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For. I write about Alter’s view, and why it isn’t incompatible with J.K. Rowling’s comment that the Potter novels are about death, or coming to terms with mortality, in my Lit Life feed on Medium.

May 19, 2021

A Review of the Charming Novel “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” Which Will Be a 2022 Movie

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Leslie Manville of “The Crown” will star in a 2022 movie version of Paul Gallico’s charming novel, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, along with Isabelle Huppert. My thoughts on the book: https://medium.com/lit-life/the-discreet-charm-of-mrs-harris-goes-to-paris-337c03e57147

May 16, 2021

5 Good Books About the World’s Worst Pets

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You think your dog is bad because it chewed up your new leather wallet? Or stole your underwear and dropped it on a neighbor’s doorstep?

Cheer up. You could be Charlie Gilmour. He lived with a meat-eating bird that liked to sit on the rim of his bathroom sink and gaze intently at his penis while he urinated or showered. I write about his Featherhood and four other memoirs of lovable but nerve-rattling pets in “5 Good (But Slightly Hair-Raising) Books About Bad Pets” on Medium.

May 7, 2021

A Fresh Look at Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things” Are

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A while back I wrote a post about one of my favorite children’s books, Where the Wild Things Are, that I’ve recently updated and posted on Medium. Please check it out if you’re interested. Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews. Jan

September 27, 2011

What Is the Difference Between ‘Text’ and ‘Subtext’? Quote of the Day From ‘Story’

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“Text means the sensory surface of a work of art. In film it’s the images onscreen and the soundtrack of dialogue, music, and sound effects. What we see. What we hear. What people say. What people do. Subtext is the life under that surface – thoughts and feelings both known and unknown, hidden by behavior.”

From Robert McKee’s Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting (It Books/Harper Collins, 1997).

March 15, 2010

Grand Prize Winner in the 2010 Delete Key Awards for Bad Writing in Books — Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol’

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Yes, the hero teaches courses in the nonexistent field of “symbology” at Harvard University. But too many lines in The Lost Symbol (Doubleday)  flunk English, logic, history, or other subjects. Dan Brown wins the Grand Prize in the 2010 Delete Key awards for these lines:

“The only wrinkle was the bloody black-clad heap in the foyer with a screwdriver protruding from his neck.”

Yes, a screwdriver sticking out of your neck is always something of a wrinkle.

“It was no coincidence that Christians were taught that Jesus was crucified at age thirty-three …”
Just as it’s no coincidence that people were taught that Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors.

“Thankfully, this particular crypt contained no bodies. … The entourage hurried through, without even a glance at the four-pointed marble compass in the center of the floor where the Eternal Flame had once burned.”
As opposed to one of those three-pointed compasses you usually see.

“His hips and abdomen were the archways of mystical power. Hanging beneath the archway [sic], his massive sex organ bore the tattooed symbols of his destiny. In another life, this heavy shaft of flesh had been his source of carnal pleasure. But no longer.”
That “archways of mystical power” helps to make this passage read like a cross between The Secret and recruitment brochure for McDonald’s.

“According to Nola’s spec sheet, the UH-60 had a chassis-mounted, laser-sighted, six-gigahertz magnetron with a fifty-dB-gain horn that yielded a ten-gigawatt pulse.”
Did Tom Clancy send in a play from the sidelines here?

Tom Chivers of the Telegraph collected 20 of the worst lines from Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and other books.

Read the shortlisted passages from all the finalists here.

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

December 24, 2009

Entertainment Weekly’s 5 Worst Books of 2009

Most magazines dropped their “worst of the year” lists long ago, if they had them at all. But Entertainment Weekly has kept the tradition alive. Its 5 Worst Books of 2009 are: How to Be Famous, by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, reality-series stars whom EW faults for a lack of more than one kind of talent; Stories From Candyland, Candy Spelling’s “revenge-fueled” memoir; Christopher Andersen’s Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, “packed with anonymous sources”; Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith, likely to give you “literary diabetes”; and Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, “one of the year’s worst written.”

August 7, 2009

In the Footsteps of Druids — Quote of the Day From ‘The Doomsday Key’

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“So in other words, we’re looking for a bunch of pissed-off Druids.”
— Georgina Rowe, an agent with the elite Sigma Force, in The Doomsday Key (Morrow, 431 pp., $27.99), James Rollins’s new technothriller about a global conspiracy that involves murders in Mali, at the Vatican at Princeton University.

May 20, 2009

You Think the Perks in Your Job Are Bad? When Actors Got Free Cigarettes – Quote of the Day From Nancy Balbirer’s ‘Take Your Shirt Off and Cry’

Filed under: News,Quotes of the Day,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:30 pm
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You think the lukewarm coffee at your office is bad? Consider a perk that Nancy Balbirer received as a young actor, as described in her new Take Your Shirt Off and Cry: A Memoir of Near-Fame Experiences (Bloomsbury, 256 pp., $16, paperback), a review of which will appear soon:

“Shortly after I turned twenty-eight, I was cast in an off-Broadway production of the Molière play The Ridiculous Précieuses, at the Kauffman Theatre. The production was bankrolled by our leading lady, who happened to be an heiress of one of our country’s great, philanthropic robber baron families. She had Philip Morris as a backer, so in addition to our Equity minimum salaries, the cast were offered as many packs of cigarettes as we could smoke a day. Undeterred by the homicidal innuendo, we all graciously accepted the producers’ largesse.”

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