On a colony planet, the original colonists have set themselves up as Hindu gods to rule over this new world of man. But a few amongst them do not beli...moreOn a colony planet, the original colonists have set themselves up as Hindu gods to rule over this new world of man. But a few amongst them do not believe in this artificial supremacy, necessarily maintained by the systematic destruction of all technological advances on the planet, preserving a perpetual Dark Age of man. One of those is Sam, who uses the preaching of Buddhism to create a rift between the people and their Hindu gods. With ever-changing, and often untrustworthy allies, Sam wages war upon war against the gods, in order to free the planet from the repression that allows some few to stand far above the rest.
As evidenced by the summary of this book (which I think sounds amazing), this book is deserving of more than three stars. But I gave it only three because the fact is...I only liked it. I didn't really like it. For me, it lacked some key elements to draw me into the story and endear me to it, including sympathetic characters and a consistent, steady plot line.
Zelazny starts the story off near the end of the story (nearing the final battle) and then jumps back to the very first conflict, to fill us in on Sam's history of conflict with the gods. Each chapter then often jumps significantly forward in time, switching up on characters while giving readers only the barest clues to ground them in the story and help them follow along. This can be challenging reading, if you were expecting to be able to cruise through it. But I thought Zelazny's format did an excellent job of heightening the tension of the climax: you know you're almost there when you're back at the beginning of the story. Plus, you now know so much more about the characters involved.
Lord of Light is chock full of amazing ideas and interwoven characters, and offers up some really excellent dialogue-only scenes. Well worth reading if you're at all into science fiction.(less)
Saints follows the fictional Dinah Kirkham and her family from abandonment by their father at a young age, their difficult childhood, their discovery...moreSaints follows the fictional Dinah Kirkham and her family from abandonment by their father at a young age, their difficult childhood, their discovery of Mormonism, sailing from England to America to join the Mormon settlement in Illinois, and through their lives as part of the first generation of Mormons.
This is a slog of a book, and I am so relieved to finally be finished with it. Weighing in at just over 700 pages in paperback and 21 discs in audio, the only thing I really looked forward to the whole time I was reading was getting to the end. I put myself through the torture of getting to the end only because I've set a goal to eventually read through Orson Scott Card's entire bibliography. I've had this book on my bookshelf and then in my audio book library for quite some time now and had previously made several false-start attempts to read it. I thought now was probably the best time to give it a real go because I've recently read several other books related to Mormonism, so I hoped I would have a little higher interest in the subject matter than previously. It did help. But only a smidgen.
But don't be misled by my negativity. This is a well-written book. Just boring. There were never high enough stakes or enough personal connection with the characters to really draw me in. I think people who have a real interest in Mormonism and its founding may find this book a fascinating read. But for the purposes of simple entertainment (with the bonus of learning a little history), it definitely falls short.
Although I greatly love OSC, I have to admit--and I knew this going into my reading of Saints--that not everything he writes is good. That's why I listen to most of his stuff in audio (which I find easier to get through when something is boring or not as well written; though I make it a general policy to read all fiction for the first time in print, save for this OSC exception and a few other series that I enjoy in audio more). But I'm afraid that even in audio Saints was difficult to get through. (less)
Escape recounts the dis-functionality and abuse Carolyn Jessop and her children experienced over seventeen years as one of five wives to one of the most powerful men in the FLDS, as well as the downward spiral of the FLDS once Warren Jeffs came into power--the thing that finally made her realize her need to escape.
It was refreshing to hear the tale of a strong, intelligent woman who could really serve as a role-model for others. So many women in the FLDS seem to fall into the trap of in-fighting among their sister wives and generally making life even more miserable for each other than it already is, rather than banding together for support and to try to improve the situation. Carolyn fought hard to get a college education, to develop desirable skills for employment, and to not get drawn in to the dramas between the other wives in her household. (Although, of course, this is her memoir, so who knows what she left out.)
I actually would have liked to see more about the ever-changing relationships between the five wives. Instead, one chapter Carolyn would be allies and friends with one of them. And the next, they would be mortal enemies with only a, "at that time, we were no longer getting along." But why? What happened? The relationships among the wives were actually one of the most interesting parts, and I would have loved for that to get more time in the spotlight.(less)
This book is perfect for someone who doesn't know much about Buddhism and wants to set a good foundation of understanding before going into more speci...moreThis book is perfect for someone who doesn't know much about Buddhism and wants to set a good foundation of understanding before going into more specific and in-depth readings about the topic. I particularly liked Maguire's sections on the three Buddhist forms--Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana--and the differences between them. Definitely an easy, informative, and interesting read.(less)
Stolen Innocence is a memoir about Elissa Wall's experiences growing up in the FLDS (a radical Mormon, polygamist cult), where breaking up families an...moreStolen Innocence is a memoir about Elissa Wall's experiences growing up in the FLDS (a radical Mormon, polygamist cult), where breaking up families and remarrying wives to new husbands had become a regular practice. And marrying underage girls to keep them in line was also growing more common. Wall herself was married (view spoiler)[to her first cousin (also illegal) (hide spoiler)] at the age of 14. (view spoiler)[Being a very sheltered and naive FLDS girl, she had no idea what sex or rape were. And she was, essentially, frequently raped by her husband. (hide spoiler)] (These spoilers aren't actually very spoilerish. Just a bit more information than what I've seen in book blurbs. It's not like any of this stuff comes as a very big surprise in the memoir itself.)
The memoir was a bit disappointing. The first two-thirds came off as a bit over-dramatic for my tastes. Wall shouldn't have to make readers work to feel sympathy for her--what she went through was horrible. Yet I feel like she works at it, making true and already dramatic events seem melodramatic and a bit ridiculous. She was very self-pitying and never rarely acknowledged her own FLDS-be-thanked short-comings and prejudices. I felt like Allen Steed got the short end of the stick as much as Wall did. Wall worked hard to try and make readers hate him as she did, but really I only felt pity for him. He was obviously excited to be married and didn't deserve (view spoiler)[a 14-year-old bride who hated his guts (hide spoiler)]. Of course, he did collect quite a few unforgivable moments under his belt during this tale: (view spoiler)[the repeated rape, obviously; and the religious guilt he piled on her after she occasionally willingly gave in to his pressures to have sex, what was it? "Your a dirty whore" or something?--WTF?! (hide spoiler)]
Once I got to the trial, it all became clear why this memoir reads more like Wall is building a case than telling a story -- because she was building a case, or had been for the several years leading up to her writing of the memoir. Some moments during the recounting of the trial were rather moving--which in the end prompted me to bump the memoir's rating up from two to three stars. But it's too bad the trial had such a strong influence on the memoir, causing Wall to lose all perspective and really negate a lot of the self-reflection and ambiguity that make memoirs so interesting.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was an absolutely fascinating read. The premise of the book aims to disprove the assertion that humans are naturally monogamous beings and show t...moreThis was an absolutely fascinating read. The premise of the book aims to disprove the assertion that humans are naturally monogamous beings and show the evolution of homo sapiens as polyamorous by nature. The arguments the two authors make seem strong, but of course you never know until you've read from both sides of the argument.
Some of the historical tidbits about human sexuality were absolutely shocking, and well worth the read right there. For example, the once frequently diagnosed malady of female hysteria, was primarily treated--up through the early 20th century--with "vulvar massage", i.e., the doctor rubbed out orgasms on his female patients. There is also a lot of historical information about the repression of female sexuality, even repression of knowledge about the female anatomy. Another shocking tale tells about a doctor who "discovered" and subsequently studied the mysterious nubbin between a woman's legs, i.e., the clitoris. When he presented his findings to the university where he worked as a professor, he was thrown in prison and all of his research was burned. Say what?! I didn't know the clitoris was tantamount to heresy.
What this book disappointingly neglected to speculate on was when, why, and how this myth of monogamy came to dominate human culture.(less)
This is a fantastically insightful book about the four aspects of love: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom. The book covers various Mindful...moreThis is a fantastically insightful book about the four aspects of love: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom. The book covers various Mindfulness meditations for practicing loving kindness toward oneself and others and discusses the deep looking necessary to give happiness and joy through your love.
The very first few pages were the most profound, for me, particularly that "loving-kindness is not only the desire to make someone happy, to bring joy to a beloved person; it is the ability to bring joy and happiness to the person you love, because even if your intention is to love this person, your love might make him or her suffer."
This is definitely a must-read and something that I plan on studying further and referring to frequently.(less)