A roughly constructed work but one that never lacks honesty.

The Journey of Uncovery

Debut author de Carvalho offers a semiautobiographical novel about a young woman’s perilous journey from Africa to Europe.

Growing up in the African nation of Angola, Luciana faces a difficult home life with an abusive father and a country engulfed in violent civil war. Her daily struggle is painfully real: “At home; it was always beatings, blows, shouting ‘can’t do that, can’t do this, can’t smile, can’t play, can’t joke with one another.’ ” When she’s nine, she and her family leave Angola for France before eventually finding asylum in the United Kingdom. However, Luciana still can’t escape the difficulties of her own family. Throughout it all, however, she “refused to be hurt and become a victim; I also had my own strong character and will which; I never lost.” She also garners strength from a belief in God: “I knew and believed in GOD’s plan for my life, and I still believe and know that there is much more for me from GOD almighty.” Overall, her story is one of perseverance, and she gleans a host of life lessons from her experiences, such as when she comes to the aid of a friend: “judge the situation first; don’t be always just say yes.” However, readers will find that navigating the prose can prove challenging, as some passages are awkwardly phrased, including this description of life in England: “For many years since the family eloped to the UK seeking political asylum my father did not work, actually since he escaped from my country even when; good jobs opportunity came his way he shattered it and chose to live off benefits.” The challenges of the text are not without pleasures, though, such as when a horrible smell is described as being “as loud as a Lion roaring wild noise.” The book is enlivened with smatterings of Portuguese, and although the convergence of languages isn’t seamless, the authentic feel of the work is beyond question. It’s an undeniably personal, if unpolished, account of the refugee experience that takes readers to places they won’t expect to go.

A roughly constructed work but one that never lacks honesty.

Pub Date: March 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5049-9979-3

Page Count: 168

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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