Sunday, March 26, 2017

King's Cage

I opened King's Cage and saw the map, and was just, wow. I loved it. I loved every bit of that image. Rather, I felt it deeply. I looked at that map and after a moment thought, Oh my God, that's going to happen. Then I read Victoria Aveyard's opening quote and just thought, yup, she thinks so too. So, that was the beginning, before the beginning. The end was powerful too. The last line of the Epilogue, the entire sequence leading up to it, was brilliant. It was perfect and I loved/hated it in the best possible way.

This might be just a smattering of thoughts, but I'll try to keep the spoilers vague. I knew something was going to happen with Evangline. Since the end of the first book, in the Bowl of Bones, her surprise, I knew she was going to be someone important, more important than just betrothed to the crown prince.

I missed Cameron. She was wonderful and a nice contrast to Mare. It was interesting to see things from her perspective. She didn't have the weight of everyone's lives on her, like Mare did, but she was feeling some weight, she was growing, becoming her own person, with her own loyalties to consider.

Oh, Cal. I thought he was going one way, but by the end, he was going the other. I knew something would happen. Something good, something bad. He wouldn't see it as bad. I really can't predict what's going to happen to Cal by the end of the series. It could really be anything. He could choose anything, anything could happen to him.

What I think happened is what happened to the Silvers in Montfort? Right? I want to know!

King's Cage was great. The first half was the sequel I expected. By the end, there were some great surprises. I am excited to see how Aveyard concludes this tumultuous series.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Brave New World



I can't believe that ending. I mean, I can, but I don't want to. Building up to the end, I was getting the same feeling I had when I was reading 1984 I just wanted things to work our for John. I wanted him to find his place in the world. I wanted John to escape and be happy. I was talking to my Hubby about the book, but I didn't want to tell him what made me so anxious and sad about the ending, in case he wanted to read it one day. He said that he didn't know if you could spoil a book that was almost 100 years old. I told him that I didn't know how it ended before I read it. I barely knew what it was about, not at all familiar with the plot. Of course, I'd heard the title many times, of course I had heard of Aldous Huxley, but I couldn't have told you what the book was about except it being dystopion. I didn't know about "Our Ford" or "decanting". I don't know how Brave New World flew under my radar for so long, but I'm glad I finally read it.

Who is the main character of Brave New World? I think it is the world itself. We look at the world through Lenina's eyes, a slightly quirky, but conforming woman. Bernard Marx, a misfit in his world. John "the Savage", an outsider, an experiment. I thought Lenina, being slightly eccentric for a woman of her cast, might break free and see things in a new way. I thought Bernard might learn some kind of truth and show others (possibly through Lenina, who is more accepted than he is). I thought John might teach this New World something, something about themselves, something that they've lost. Brave New World is brilliantly sad. Maybe I just want hopeful endings.

There were some parts of the novel I found strange. Firstly, how sexually free everyone is, "everyone belongs to everyone else". There is no more marriage, being with only one person for your whole life. The characters in the book talk about "having" each other. They talk to their friends about who they have and haven't had, if they've had the same person, what they thought about them, if they were "pneumatic". I thought this overt sexuality was strange for for a book written so long ago. After talking it through a bit, and reading more about Huxley, I realized why. It was written in 1931, the end of the Roaring Twenties. There was a growing freedom with sexuality (that was eventually stifled for a while). Huxley took this behaviour to the extreme, in a way that would contribute to the stability of Brave New World.

Though, we learn what happens to John, I'm left wonder about Bernard, Helmholtz, and Lenina. Does Lenina forget Bernard and John, and go on with her life, or does the experience change her. Where do Bernard and Helmholtz end up? Helmholtz requested going to the Falkland Islands, but is Bernard with him? Huxley later wrote a book called Island and I think it might be something I have to read. I hope to learn what happened to these characters after they were separated by Mustapha Mond.

As I was thinking about the story and writing this, I though about Lenina's character... then Aldous Huxley.... which led me to Lenina Huxley. I did not realize that the character, Lenina Huxley, played by Sandra Bulluck in Demolition Man was named for the character and author of Brave New World. Then I started to really think about it, about the Feelies and the headset that Lenina Huxley gives John Spartan to wear. How John Spartan is like John the Savage, coming into San Angeles and the "happy joy joy" lifestyle of contentment and conditioning. Maybe I'm a little late here, but I watched Demolition Man  way back in my early teens, long before I ever had a desire to read Brave New World and long before I would make these kind of connections. It's interesting how an action movie can be full of all these interesting ideas, getting a bit of inspiration from a book written in 1931.

I think Brave New World is worth a read. It's complex, but not long. It's also only $0.99 right now on iBooks, Kindle and Kobo. I'm glad I read it... and maybe I should re-watch Demolition Man too.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Logan


I really tried my very best not to get too emotional for an R-rated X-Men movie, but I couldn't help myself with Logan. The end was just amazing. Endings can make or break a movie (or book) for me and I loved/hated Logan's. Those are really the best kinds. I feel like if I say too much, I'll give away the ending.

Ok, so Professor X dropped a lot of F-bombs. Like a lot. It totally took me a aback. I might have grabbed my Hubby's arm. Their relationship has certainly evolved. I don't know if anyone could have done more for the Professor than Logan. His revelation at the end, I knew where that was going, but to have him know, was a bit heartbreaking.

There were some amazing moments between Laura and Logan. The silence, the yelling, the fights. It was messy and wonderful, exactly what we'd expect from Wolverine. We also expected a lot of decapitations and dismemberments. Let me just casually roll this head to you. Every fight sequence was fantastic, exciting, and didn't hold back.

Speaking of violence, R-rated violence, there was a kid in the theatre. Young enough to be scolded by his mother for not picking up his trash. Significantly young. I'm glad I didn't noticed until we were leaving. Like with Deadpool and other bloody, graphic, scary films, this is not for children. Not that I completely shield my oldest from TV violence, but she is way too young for Logan, though I do think in about 5 or 6 years when I finally let her see it, she'll like it.

It makes me sad to think this is Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart's last film as Wolverine and Professor X, but it was a great way for them to go out.

No, I have to read the Old Man Logan comics.

https://youtu.be/RH3OxVFvTeg

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Next Classic

What classic book will I be reading next? Well, actually, I'm currently reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, just because I really wanted to. Dystopians have been calling to me lately... However, I also decided to participate in the Classics Club Spin. The number is 12! Which means, per my list, I will be reading A Study In Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle. My first Sherlock Holmes! I'm so excited!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

The Classics Spin... and A Comment On My List


I'm not going to make it.  This is why I don't do challenges... For those not familiar, the Classics Club Challenge is to read a minimum of 50 classic books in 5 years.... and I don't think I will be able to do it.  I was even trying to be ambitions, stating I'd read 60 "titles", meaning I was including poetry and short stories. I've read some great book, stories and poems that I might not have gotten to if not encouraged by the Classics Club, but with less than a year left in my personal challenge, and only 27 titles read, I just don't think it will happen. What I'm going to do is try to see how much of the list I can get completed in the next 10 months. Now, I've just finished The Satanic Verses and there is no way my brain is ready for another classic. What I really feel like reading is some of the new Young Adult novels I've picked up. After my brain has rested, well, I imagine I'll be reading my Spin book, as well as The Handmaid's Tale, 1984, and Brave New World as I feel like classic dystopians are called for these days. While I don't think I'll be able to read 23 (or 33) classics by January 3, 2018, I do think I'll get to quite a few. I will also continue to work on my list after I pass my "deadline". 

The only thing left is to put up my list. On March 10, a number will be generated and I'll read that book!

Spin List, as generated with Random.org

1. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
2. The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Seuss
3. Under The Knife, by H.G. Wells
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
6. Discourse on Method, by Rene Descartes
7. The Big and The Little, by Isaac Asimov
8.  Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
9. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
10. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery;
11. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
12. Sherlock Holmes #1: A Study In Scarlett, by Arthur Conan Doyle
13. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
14. Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
15. The Daemon of the World, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
16. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
17. The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence
18. A Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens
19. The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James
20. Medea, by Euripides

It's a pretty varied list. There's genre, children's books, plays and poetry. I'm excited to see what number will be reveals on March 10. I'm also excited to keep working on my list, no matter what number I end up with.

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Satanic Verses


Wow. So, The Satanic Verses is a long, long book. It is not an easy read, especially the first half. By about the last third, I felt like the story picked up more and I was actually interested in finishing it. By the final third, all the twisting, complex storylines were being brought to completion. Some of the subplots I thought were interesting, but didn't need to go into such detail. My main interest was in what happened to the main characters, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha. They fell, unharmed, from the sky. Why? What would they do with this gift of life? Though it wasn't easy, it was worth reading.

Should I address the controversy first? I always wondered what Salman Rushdie could have written that would have so incensed the leader of Iran to issue a fatwa calling for his death. Was the book blasphemous? Maybe. Was it making fun of Islam? After reading it, no, I don't think so. I think it was giving a different perspective or using certain events and the life of Prophet Mohammed (uwbp) to inspire a story, reflecting on the feelings of immigration and displacement. Also, within the context of the story, this is Gibreel's dream. In his dreams, he is the angel, watching the Prophet in these sequences. I don't think Rushdie was saying anything of what he wrote actually happened. Gibreel's mental state created this dream. I've read that Rushdie was surprised by this reaction. He thought some people might be angry, but he didn't think there would be so much violence surrounding it. Who would think their novel would create such vitriol? The amount of controversy it stirred, the bannings in so many countries, the burnings, of course this was something I would want to read. I could go deeper into the fatwa and whether it was actually used properly, the refutations by Islamic scholars, Human Rights violations, but I don't think that's necessary here. What I want to talk about is the story, the plot and the characters.

The entire novel had a dream-like quality to it. So much of what happens to Gibreel seems like a dream or vision. Saladin's experiences seem rooted in horror. Unlike Gibreel, Saladin has rejected his past, his roots. He has tried extremely hard to acclimate to his new country. He loves London and wants to be a Londoner. He wants to leave his youth behind. This is the opposite of Gibreel, who is a big part of Bollywood and life in India, though he too leaves, but he leaves for love. He meets Allie and she changes his whole world. There are a lot of things that change Gibreel, besides the fall. He's very reactionary, listening to others' voices instead of relying on his own, even though he dreams that he is the voice that speaks to the Prophet. Saladin goes through a lot of changes too, though many of his are physical. Is Saladin's ordeal reflective of what he goes through as an immigrant in a land that does not necessarily respect him? What about the people he meets who are like him? Are they also displaced migrants? There is so much beyond controversy in this novel. There are stories, allegories, emotion upheavals, mental breakdowns, and strange changes.

I don't think I can explain the complexities of this novel. There was a lot happening. There were a couple of times where I considered quitting, but I just had to know what happened. Like so many novels, it was the characters that kept me going. I wanted to know if Gibreel and Saladin would come together again and what the consequences of that would be. I wanted to know if Gibreel and Allie would stay together. I wanted to know what choices Saladin would end up making. Besides the main characters, I also wanted to know about Mishal, Baal, and Ayesha. I wanted to know about Saladin's father, Nasreen II, and Zeeny. So, maybe I took a couple breaks here and there, but knew I had to finish it. Of all the characters, Saladin's journey was the one that had me the most unsure. I didn't know if in the end I was going to like his character. A lot of bad things happened to him, but he did bad things too. I wasn't sure if I was going to like him in the end. I am still not sure if I like him, I just know he was a character I couldn't turn away from.

After all the ups and downs, and not knowing how it was all going to turn out, I liked The Satanic Verses. I don't think it's for everyone, definitely not a casual read, but it was worth every minute I spent with it.