A Mouse's Tale

Random scurryings of a writer.

Category Archives: Books

The Jackal of Nar

I was in high school by the time I had finally talked my parents into giving me an allowance. The first week that I held my own fifteen dollars in my hand, money which I worked diligently at earning, I was thrilled. There was a little bookstore downtown that I had been dying to become a patron of. Counting the minutes until I could walk through the doors of the bookstore, I headed out on my walk. 

Upon seeing the door, my heart sank. “All books 25% off. All sales final. Store closing.” The close date on the sign was the very next day. I went in with a heavy heart, determined to at least delve in for my first and last experience. I also promised myself that I would not leave without a book. 

The pickings were slim. I headed in the direction of my favorite genre, sci-fi, which was casually mixed in with fantasy in this particular store. Concerned over the empty space on the shelves, I read each title carefully to see if there were any possible keepers. My eyes skimmed over the spines and then back tracked. 

The Jackal of Nar. A full sentence for a title. The fantastic artwork on the front captivated me. But “Nar?” It sounded too close to “Narnia” for my liking. Still, I picked up the book and began my traditional skimming: read the back, sleeve (if there is one – there wasn’t on this book), first page, last page, and three in the middle. 

I was hooked. I bought the oversized paperback that day. I read the first 100 pages before bed that night. I established myself in the Dring a Valley, fighting with Prince Richius and his men, and instantly pining for Lucyler. During my initial read, I swore at Biagio, thinking him Devil spawn, only to weep with him in the end. I threw the book no less than five times over Richius’ infantile behavior. I had nightmares over Sabrina’s end. 

Each year I read The Jackal of Nar. Whether I have time to read the entire trilogy or not, that first book is on my list of annual reads. John Marco is fantastic behind the pen of this novel. It was his first to be published and set him on top of a high pedestal from the first print. Read it, you won’t regret it. 

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John Marco on the Barnes and Noble list!

I am so excited to send this out into the world! One of my all time favorite authors, John Marco, has been selected as one of the Barnes and Noble picks for April!

His new novel, The Forever Night, another Lukien tale, was just released on April 2nd and has already been added to the list! It sends chills up my spine. To think that an author that I’ve actually had conversations with via the internet is on such a list!

I’ve just begun reading the book (mine came in today) and can say that, while the first person narrative is taking some getting used to, it promises to be as thrilling as the others. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be battling the book bug pretty hard with this one. The dishes might pile up a bit and writing my stall a little for the next few days…. ;-)

Review: Shades of Green

Shades of Green: The Clash of Agricultural Science and Environmental ScienceShades of Green: The Clash of Agricultural Science and Environmental Science by J.S. Kidd
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Given the title of the book Shades of Green: The Clash of Agricultural Science and Environmental Science, I assumed that this would focus on the heated debate between the companies involved in agriculture and the war with those who are concerned about the environmental effects of spraying, monoculture, and other such issues. This book was nothing of the sort.

For the most part, it was a collection of mini-essays written by the authors that stand to state that the agricultural sciences that have been used, including GMOs, are all based off from previously done practices. Somehow they argue that if people and nature practiced selective breeding for thousands of years than GMOs can be considered the next step in this natural sequence. That thought makes me want to vomit.

Arguments for GMOs aside, other areas of the book really got me fired up. On page 74 and 75 there is this little ditty of a paragraph:

“In the mid 1940s, near the end of World War II, cases of typhus ere reported in Naples, Italy. A powder form of DDT was applied directly to people’s bodies and clothing to kill the lice. DDT was credited with preventing an epidemic of typhus and saving thousands – perhaps millions – of lives. No aftereffects from this intense and extended exposure to pure DDT were ever reported.”

While there have been some studies shown to provide back-up to this comment (and that were conducted by scientists paid for by chemical companies and their lobby partners), Rachel Carson gives plenty of third party evidence in her book Silent Spring to prove other wise. The fact hat the authors of this book claim that there were no aftereffects is ridiculous as many of the aftereffects are not noticeable and tend to effect future generations.

Given that this paragraph came early on in the book, the authors lost credibility with me from that point on. Granted, they would have later anyhow when they began to argue that genetically modified food was going to save the population of the world from starvation when there are hundreds of thousands of food in the United States that goes to waste every year due to monoculture and the overabundance of production caused by these GMOs. The one concession that I will lend this book is that the title was creatively constructed enough to be misleading and gain additional readers.

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Book Review: The Little Book of Restorative Justice

The Little Book of Restorative Justice (Little Books of Justice & Peacebuilding Series) (The Little Books of Justice & Peacebuilding)The Little Book of Restorative Justice (Little Books of Justice & Peacebuilding Series) by Howard Zehr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Restorative justice is a term that I’ve heard only a few times, and mostly in peace and reconciliation courses during my college courses. While it was never explained in depth, the basic premise of it was that it’s a system of justice based on not so much persecuting the offender, but treating them s a victim as well. I used to cringe every time that I heard the term. Despite my liberal tendencies, I’ve always been more of an “eye for an eye” type of person permitting that all the evidence is there.

This book, small and lacking in detail though it is, really helped clarify the concept that it’s not only treating the offender as a victim, but still retaining that they did something wrong, offers to help them out if there is an actual physiological and psychological issue that can be addressed. Say a person who has raped or sexually assaulted another was abused in any manner as a child. If this is their first offense of the sort, there’ a possibility that the psychological issues that are buried are to the explosive point that, if not addressed, will exceed the ability of any professional to help the victim work through. This does not mean that they had a reason for the rape, but that there is something that needs addressing and that this action isn’t necessarily of that person’s character. By treating the offender as a victim of another crime, the offender can receive the help that they need and holds a better chance of becoming a functioning member of society again.

Zehr is sure to stress that this type of justice system will not work in all cases, such as psychopaths and those that harming others is actually part of their character. He also comments on how restorative justice can work as a preventative measure when focused on use in juvenile issues. If a teenager is caught robbing a store, he’s not locked up and fined simply to be let go later with nothing for a true reprimand. Through restorative justice, such actions may be taken as the family being mandated into counseling, individual counseling for the juvenile, community service (possibly at the site of the robbery), amongst other “positive” forms of retribution.

While I now have a more thorough understanding of the idea of restorative justice, and I see that it’s possible for it to have stunning results, I’m hesitant. Until we can become a nation where everyone has the same values and code of ethics, and toss aside this childish idea of “I’m right, you’re wrong” because we call those values and ethics different names under the guise of religious zealousness, restorative justice could never work in the United States on a large scale.

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*This has been cross-posted to my freelance writing blog.