Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Year of the Rat: Grace Lin

This was a children's book, but for some reason was on my "to read" list. It may have been one of the first of it's kind and was one in a series of "Chinese New Year" titles. Since the Year of the Rat is one of change, the main character, Grace (an autobiography of sorts for the author)deals with losing her best friend who moves across the country. The story deals with Grace's year and how she grew up from different experiences. It captured the personality of the child, as everything had to be about the main character and she sort of pouted when she wasn't the center of attention. I think this was a risky characterization, because the character borders on dislikable, but it is also a person in their purest form, so it was a successful character development.

Stitching Snow: R C Lewis

This was a book geared towards teens, but I loved it! It was like "Star Wars" and "The Left Hand Of Darkness" with the fairy tale aspect. Very original and I loved how it broke the gender barriers. The story opens and we meet the main Character Essie, given name "snow" short for snowflake. She lives on a rough island and earns her keep boxing and working on her droids, which do the mining in the village of all men. One day a boy, Dane, about her age crashes his space ship and she helps him repair it. He kidnaps her and tries to take her home in exchange for his people who were imprisoned after she left home and ended up on the mining planet. She reprograms the ship to take them to his planet. Her mother was from the same planet as Dane and she learns her mother kept her "species" hidden in order to have a child with the ruling planet's leader, knowing the child would one day be ruler. Snow's mother was killed by her stepmother and Snow left when the queen tried to have her killed. The planet it overthrown and peace is restored to the galaxy. The book was a quick read with the right amount of suspense.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Watery Part of the World: Michael Parker

This was one of those subtle books where nothing amazing happens, but it sticks with you long after finishing. I had to reread the first three chapters because there weren't dates on the chapter titles and it was confusing until you understood there were two voices from two different generations. The story tied family together through legend and also explained the duty Woodrow, a black man, felt towards the 2 spinsters, white women. Woodrow's great-great-great grandfather was freed by the Whaley's great-great-great grandfather. However this duty still made him a slave to them generations after being freed. One wonders how long the obligation would have went on had the Whaley's had children. Interestingly enough, the original Mrs Whaley was appalled when her husband brought home a black man, thinking her husband had purchased a slave, not that he had bought his freedom. The current day eldest Ms Whaley would be appalled to call Woodrow a slave, but she treats him as such assuming he will stay on the island and take care of them long after everyone else has left. The climax of the story occurs when Whaley sends Woodrow to the mainland to get her mail, containing a dress. The weather is about to break and she assures Woodrow she will watch after his wife, Sarah should the storm come before he gets back. The storm does come and floods the island, she goes down to check on Sarah and is scared by the fervor in her eyes as she holds her bible and prays aloud. In that moment Whaley knows Sarah will take Woodrow from the island and she and her sister would not be able to sustain alone. She leaves Sarah and takes her sister to the church, which is on the highest part of the island. Sarah's house falls in on her and she dies. Whaley spends the rest of her life wrestling with herself over Sarah's death.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kindred: Octavia Butler

This was a fascinating SCI-FI novel about a woman, Dana who suddenly disappears from present day and is transported to the early 1800's. She is somehow beckoned by a great grandfather who was drowning. She is then transported back to her world when she is in danger. She makes these shifts several more times and brings her husband, who was holding her, along with her. The decide to live with her ancestors while they wait for something dangerous to happen so they can be transported back. They pose as master(her husband is white) and slave. Dana teaches a slave to read without thinking of the consequences it could have when history changes. The time was also confusing, Dana's husband Kevin was trapped in the 1800's for 5 years and it was 8 days in 1976. In a couple hours after getting home, Dana is pulled back to the 1800's and 6 years have gone by since she left. she continues travelling back and forth saving this white relative Rufus time and time again. Eventually she kills him and loses an arm doing so because he holds on to her as she is transported and the arm he is holding onto stays behind.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Civilization and its Discontents: Sigmound Freud

This book was very heavily laden with thoughts of ID and Ego. He expresses his thoughts that religion is important to people because a person wants to constantly go back to the feelings they had as a child. Religion is like relying on your father's protection, you want to believe someone is watching out for you. He furthers the idea that religion offers hope and that this life is purely for pleasure. " We are threatened with suffering from three directions: from our own body, which is doomed to decay and dissolution and which cannot even do without pain and anxiety as warning signals, from the external world, which may rage against us with overwhelming and merciless forces of destruction, and finally from our relations to other men. Freud argues that we cause our own unhappiness- we create the railroad that carries our children off making the telephone a nessecity. We have created a life where Earth is serviceable to man.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Parisian Prowler: Charles Baudelaire

This collection of poems did seem to be musings about life while one is walking around town just taking it in. They are very raw where he notes things that occur and how the people react. An old woman muses that an adorable baby doesn't have hair or teeth like herself, but when she gets near to amuse it, he screams and breaks her heart. A dog is given perfume to smell and it doesn't like it and barks, the writer is amused that if he had given the dog poop, it would have thought it was the most interesting thing ever. The poems were able to evoke the things the writer is seeing and though none of them seem very important, as a whole they make up what life is about. People are all going about doing their own thing, yet they are all connected within the community.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Madame Bovary: Gustave Flaubert

The book starts with the characterization of Charles Bovary who is a child in school. He is put in a class with much younger children since his education did not start until he was 12, and then haphazardly. The story starts with him behind others, and he stays behind others his entire life. His mother arranges a marriage for him with a much older woman who is reputedly wealthy. He gets hen picked by both his mother and his wife and is unhappy. She then dies and he finds out she wasn't rich. He then marries a woman he adores. His wife marries him because she wants to get off the farm and he is a traveling vet. The book continues with his wife's discontent as she keeps finding life has more to offer she gets unhappier with what she has because she always wants more. She has a couple affairs and lusts after many things. After her affairs leave her lonely than ever she turns to buying pretty things on credit which they cannot afford. Neither lover is willing to help her out so she tricks someone into giving her rat poison and commits suicide. Charles is distraught and sells all of their possessions. He finds Emma's love letters and looks with envy at the men she showed affection to instead of being angry. He eventually dies and their daughter, Berthe is sent to live with her grandmother. The grandmother eventually dies and Berthe is sent to live with an impoverished aunt who send her to work in a cotton mill. There was no happiness in the book and it was hard to read since you kept hoping for something good to happen, but met with disappointments continuously.