Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Sentinels of Spring

They come in many shapes and colors,
yet all are beautiful.



They arrive in a rush and some only last a few days,
while others linger for a while.


They push up through the ground
or
unfurl from the trees.



They follow no time but their own...




They are the Sentinels of Spring and their job is to let you know that a new cycle of growth is here,


and if you have time and take a closer look...


You won't be disappointed....

Admiring the change of season,
Melissa

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Literary Discussion, Part One...

As I approached my book challenge this year and chose the classics, I knew that I would be reading some pretty heavy books, however, the benefit of doing this for fun is that I don't have to analyze the books to death, unless I want to, and can just read and enjoy or survive the books.   This year I thought I would also include in these posts books that are not on the list that I read for my book club or just for fun.....

Here we go again!

--Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I am not going to lie, the first 200 hundred pages were so slow and hard to read that I really did not think I would finish my book club's selection, and then something happened that I can't really explain and  I inhaled the remaining 600 pages, yes it's a long one.  A story based in history with magic woven in as if it was real.  Two magicians battle egos, misconceptions and politics in this engaging book.  Characters grow, plotlines are taken to completion and the footnotes are just really fun.

#12 . One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What a crazy, wonderful book!!  It mixes magic and tradition with tragedy and change.  What happens if generation after generation keeps making the same mistake?  If we never learn from the mistakes of the past?   I am surprised how much I ended up enjoying this book and when I have time will read others by this author.

--The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and read this book and now I can't say that I'm happy that I did.  The paradox of it is this, by page 20 I knew I would dislike and loathe most if not all of the characters by the end and I KEPT READING.  It is well written, for the style, but I am going to be very happy when the 'Gone Girl' replicas and homages are done.....

#24.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

After I finished this novella of about 120 pages, I did something I normally do not do and searched the internet for information about it.  I understood the allegory of it, but I wanted to see why critics loved it so much when I couldn't wait for it to be over......and then I found the piece of information that made me go 'aha!'and it was this, one of the more famous adaptations based on it is the movie 'Apocalypse Now' that I have suffered through as a part of my top 100 movie bucket list adventure. I can now say I read it and never have to again.

#3.  Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Have you ever lost yourself in a book?  I do, all the time.  I lose time and I leave my reality and live in the characters' world, but what happens if when you emerge back into your life, your sense of reality is changed?  For Don Quixote, the allure of romantic knight tales becomes real and he begins his quest of becoming a Knight and to be honest it doesn't really go that well.   His vision that allows him to see the best in things, like a castle instead of a ramshackle old inn, also causes grief when he sees dangers in things that are innocent.  The other characters also cause troubles by playing jokes on Don Quixote and Sancho, and for that reason the following line from the book sums it up the best.... 'For jests that cause pain are not jests, and entertainments are not worthwhile if they injure another.'

A fool can be wise; a wise man can be a fool; a simpleton can have the best answer for a complex problem; and an expert can cause all sorts of trouble, so go deeper and find out the truth of what is being presented...

--H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Three books in one?  How in the world will this ever work?  Just trust me when I say that just does.  Part book about grief, part hawk training adventure, and part biography of author T.H. White rolled into one.   I know nothing about hawks, but was thoroughly intrigued about the goshawk that Helen trains.  I knew little about T.H. White, but was immediately drawn in to his life.  I've been through grief and know that it's a deeply personal process and was surprised how deep she was willing to share.  I inhaled this book and can not recommend it enough..

#14.  The Iliad by Homer

Throw in a family that does not put the fun in 'dysfunctional' (Zeus and Hera, euwwww) with
men at war who trash talk and sulk like moody teenagers (with Achilles leading that list) and add a dash of blood and gore (splattering brains and pierced organs with spears)

and you have the Iliad....

A classic poem that may or may not of been written by Homer that may or may not of been based on actual events.

It was more interesting to read than I had thought it would be and I found that it ended up mocking the glory of war it set out to portray.  The Gods, Kings, and Commanders of the rank and file come of as petulant, whiny, and stubborn when innocent lives are on the line....  The rank and file as they are listed off are honest men who were called to arms by their leaders.

#8.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This book starts out as fluff....the roaring twenties, youth, and parties, but by the end it turns into a deep and thoughtful examination of the way we treat others and judge their actions and what is acceptable within society.  Extraordinary writing!!!

#7.  The Odyssey by Homer

aka  The Iliad, the attempt to return home.....  Every time Odysseus is mentioned in the Iliad, the phrase 'A Brilliant Tactician' or the like is used, but on the way home from war, the phrase did not apply.  Follow him into war, yes....  Go on a road trip, can't recommend as he is the only one to make it home, everyone that left with him from the war, DIED...

Characters from the Iliad pop up through out this tale of woe and struggle.  My personal favorites, Helen's 'my Bad for starting a war' dialogue and the I don't want to be dead group in the underworld.   We are also introduced to Odysseus's long suffering wife, Penelope, who has a group of suitors to deal with, and his son who just can't wait to be king (sorry couldn't help myself) but really just needs some answers about his Dad...

I didn't love this, but I didn't hate it either....  I won't be reading it again, but I will recommend it to read as an experience...


#17 . Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This is not a read in one evening book....  It forced me to slow down my reading by A LOT, by that I mean I read a chapter a night if that.  It is a book that makes you think and ponder and challenges your perceptions.  It was definitely not an easy read, but by the end I came to appreciate it.

#44.  Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

I read about a poem a night over the span of a couple of months.  Some resonated, others not so much, and some I could see where the controversy came from back in the day....

#37.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did, but this is once again why I do these types of challenges, to discover books that I may not of read otherwise.  A cautionary tale of being careful of what you wish for and what you turn your back on, but what stuck with me the most is that your experience can harmfully impact another if you choose to believe that is the only possibility...

As this first quarter comes to a close, I have to admit that reading all of these heavy, dense, thinking novels is a little taxing at times and I have taken breaks and read 'fluff' books just to not have to think or pay attention to the plot.....

Still with my nose in a book,
Melissa