Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mortal Instruments: A Disaster

I am a fan of YA Fiction: compelling stories, coming of age character arcs, young love triangles and some
sort of necessary decision making that borders the line between good and evil. Needless to say that when I heard Mortal Instruments was going to be made into a movie - I felt that I owed it to myself to read the book prior to the Hollywood manifestation.

It doesn't happen very often that I become so irritated with the protagonist of a story that I am glad when the book is done (with the exception of David Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius which I set down and abandoned without completing). But in Mortal Instruments, Clary Fray was just too oblivious. The whole story centers around the fact that she has a gift of some kind. We find out that she is the offspring of two Shadowhunters, and so she too is a Shadowhunter.

Her gifts are buried beneath a Warlock's mental block built in her mind to keep her from seeing the world as her Shadowhunter nature wants her to see it. I just don't see the scenario of Clary transitioning into a Shadowhunter going very well, because Clary seems totally incapable of piecing things together.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

Before today, I had never read this book. Apparently, it's quite popular on reading lists, but I was never required to read it when I was younger. I think I turned out just fine, however, I'm really glad to have read The Giver as an adult.

I watched an interview with Lois Lowry after finishing the book in one afternoon sitting. In the interview, Lowry discusses the perplexing fact that since the book was published in 1993 it has been listed on the nation's "most challenged" book list. People challenge the book's inclusion in schools and in public libraries. I didn't know this fact while reading the book, but I can understand why this book causes people to feel ill at ease.

The story begins with Jonas facing the prospect of an impending Ceremony in his Community that will set him on his path toward adulthood. The Ceremony will announce what occupation he will be trained for and work at for the duration of his adult life. This decision is based upon years of meticulous observation. During this time of Jonas' introspection, the reader learns that this Community is different. We are led to assume that the story takes place in the future in a society that has been structured to secure peace and safety. In order to secure peace and safety the Community has elected transformation into Sameness.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson

I just finished reading Kate Atkinson’s novel “Life After Life,” and I thought it was a great book. I read quite often and I was a Lit major in college, but after the years of academic analysis I stopped writing about the stories that I experienced. I write my own stories now, but in thinking about how lonely my blog is with its sparse postings – I have decided to write a bit about what I read. If I were to take this on as a task of critical review I would tire after the first sentence. I am not a critic, just a reader. So here we go.

“Life After Life” follows Ursula Todd through many different versions of the same life. It always starts with her birth, a snowy night on February 11, 1910 (Aquarius! Which I feel is purposely symbolic). Ursula is born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. The story explores all versions of this evening by focusing on multiple character perspectives and the different outcomes all spurned from choices made by each character involved. From there Ursula’s story takes many different paths. In one version of her life she drowns and in another she is saved from the ocean by an artist who was painting her and her sister. In other versions she falls out a window, succumbs to the Spanish Influenza, is raped by one man and later marries an abusive man who kills her – all because she makes a single decision. And with every new life she makes a different decision somehow haunted by premonitions and intuitive urges that steer her in a different direction.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I'm a Believer

When I was in college, I took senior year “elective” courses that I thought sounded fun. One of those was a philosophy course called “Metaphysics.” Now, I feel the need to preface this by saying I was raised by a woman who told me we could believe in God better if we didn’t go to church. So, I have only been to church services a couple times in my life, but was raised with a moral code based in Christian principles. 

Meta, meaning beyond, and physics, meaning the physical science of what we can see, seemed like just the juice I needed to fuel my spiritual quest to discover just exactly what I believed in. Through my intellect and logic I arrived at the stunning conclusion that I did in fact believe in a god, an ultimate source of energy, some sort of cosmic intelligence that willed all life into existence starting with a creative burst a really long time ago. 

The peace I felt at the end of this course and its accompanying insight let me know that I had found a truth. Yet, that wasn't the end. I was still hungry to find out more about this feeling inside. I had been circling a spiritual hole for my entire life, and now I was ready to fill it. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Adventures in Juicing

Juice. Who doesn't like juice? The sweet nectar of manufacturing gods filled with enough sugar to kill a mouse. For years I thought the only way to drink juice was from a pre-packaged container with a sanitary seal. I have never been more wrong.

I took some time off work recently over the Holidays and did what most people do: cleaned my house real well and watched Netflix. It was here that I discovered a world of documentaries about our food crisis and obesity in America. To escape sounding preachy, I will only say that in a commercialized culture we run the risk of feeding our bodies poisonous foods under the false impressions sold to us through diet advertising. Can we really help it when we are all branded by age two? This means that by age two we know how to associate items with their brands, and this is only the beginning of how we fall into the greedy hands of advertisers. Why should they tell us the truth when the lie is so delicious, the lie is so pretty, the lie makes our bodies our enemies until we're weak, and then we become prey for the pharmaceutical companies. Why should they tell us the truth when they get so rich by making us believe the lies?