First of all, I have to clarify: I'm not a student of the English language or poetry, so my feelings for these poems, like most of us, are truly from...moreFirst of all, I have to clarify: I'm not a student of the English language or poetry, so my feelings for these poems, like most of us, are truly from my personal perspective. From the those poems that we all had to read in school, and the few that I occasional encounter here or there, I have never been affected as deeply as the writing of Rainer Maria Rilke. Since Rilke wrote in German, it's a wonder how English translations of his works still affect me so deeply and effortlessly.
This edition celebrates the 100th anniversary of the release of this 135 poems by Rilke to the public, by the Insel Verlag of Leipzig. These poems Rilke viewed as private and as intimate as his prayers to God, and they also represent his true poetic legacy. That was why they were not originally released to the public. Rilke was only 23 years old when he started writing the poems in this collection. He had already published three volumes of other poems prior. Although I do not know German, the translation of these poems by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy appeared and sounded perfect to me when I read each and all poems over and over again. Someday I'll read another translation of the same title to compare the accuracy and wording but at the mean time, this is truly a 5-star book. Also, do not let the title deter you...These poems do have the same resonance on your heart and soul whether if you are religious or not.
"You, my own deep soul, trust me. I will not betray you. My blood is alive with many voices telling me I am made of longing.
What mystery breaks over me now? In its shadow I come into life. For the first time I am alone with you-
Another dystopian YA novel recommended by daughter, after Delirium, The Hunger Games, Matched and Divergent...
Like all other YA dystopian novels writt...moreAnother dystopian YA novel recommended by daughter, after Delirium, The Hunger Games, Matched and Divergent...
Like all other YA dystopian novels written by the young and hip set, the story is told in the present sense. The chapters alternate between the voices of June (an elite, top-of-the-line military officer of the Republic) and Day (the most notorious criminal from the poor district). The story takes place in the near future in LA, where US has become a communist-like "Republic", and plague outbreaks are everywhere. The Republic is also fighting its neighboring states, "The Colonies", although very little is said about the colonies in this book. All children are giving a physical, oral and written trial/exam at 10. The passing ones will be sent to high school, college, then work in the government. The failed ones are supposedly sent to labor camp, but...
It's hard to write reviews for YA dystopias, since there are so many similar stories out with the same formula and format, but I think this one has one of the well-developed plots of all. I was captivated from the very beginning, and had to stay up late to finish it. The author was quite good in building suspense and grabbing attention with twists, turns, actions and revelations. The story is very well-constructed.
Now...the weaknesses: I think the romance is quite predictable and it also progresses a bit too quickly in the story, which lessens the intenseness that we see between lovers in other similar YA dystopias. June and Day are also a bit alike in a way - smart, tough, lonely, fast, strong, observant and quick in decision-making. I sometimes had a hard time telling them apart reading each new chapter, since they also narrated alike. Luckily the books used different fonts for each of them, maybe for a reason?
All in all, I think this book is worth reading, especially for fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games. It's a wonderful thrill-ride. I'll be waiting for the second book. (less)
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. This...moreThis book is about love.
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. This book drew me in from the first page until the end. The book was written in a narrative, story-telling style that is very intriguing and mythical. Having the majority of the story taking place in Burma also added to the allure.
The story begins when Julia Win arrived Burma, looking for her Father who left suddenly without a trace 4 years ago, leaving her Mom and two children. She met an older man in a tea house who asked her a question:
"Do you believe in love?" "Of course I am not referring to those outbursts of passion that drive us to do and say things that well will later regret, that delude us into think we cannot live without a certain person....a feeling that impoverishes rather than enriches us because we long to possess what we cannot, to hold on to what we cannot." "No. I speak of a love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death."
Thus this unforgettable story begins, a love that transcends 50 years, from Kalaw to New York and back; a love that defies time and distance. The descriptions of Asia and mythical practices and beliefs were very accurate, though unbelievable for most westerners. The ending was quite satisfactory in my point of view. Although I would love to hear more about Julia and his Dad's life in New York, as well as more descriptions of everyday life in Burma, since this story captivated me so. I guess I just didn't want it to end...
I do have a question remain after finishing the book: Is the bond of romantic love is ultimately stronger than the familial one, or are the two incomparable? Can they be exclusive? If they are, which one would you give up?(less)
All the Flowers of Shanghai...Before I give my review of this book, I have to clarify that I've read many books about China, Chinese Women and the Cul...moreAll the Flowers of Shanghai...Before I give my review of this book, I have to clarify that I've read many books about China, Chinese Women and the Cultural Revolution. Being Chinese my self, surrounded by older Chinese women also gave me invaluable insights into the basic struggles and values of them. The bottom line is that I probably had a higher expectation for the book than most.
The story was told in the voice of Xiao Feng, as a letter to the daughter she never raised, recounting her own and her family's history. I love the beginning of the book, where Feng described her happy childhood in Shanghai during the 1930s, spending the day with her Grandfather around town, visiting public gardens, learning names of flowers in Latin and sampling street delicacies. The author's description of Shanghai, possibly in it's most delightful and successful era of history, where all fancy merchandises from all over the world were purchasable, was accurate and enlightening. I almost didn't want her simple childhood to end. Xiao Feng in this part of the book was naive, simple curious, smart, loving and forgiving. She knew that happiness does not come from beauty or wealth, but within.
I love the last 15% of the book as well, where Feng ended up in a sewing factory during the cultural revolution, being reformed and corrected by working hard and enjoying very little. There was a glimpse into the mind and functions of the Red Army members, who were barely immature teenagers themselves. Feng, in this section, did not talk much about her feelings, yet her actions showed she was loving and forgiving, too. The ending was abrupt, leading lots of questions unanswered.
Now it brings us to the major and middle section of the book, which I found unbearable, and not only because of the boring tone of her monologue and her description of mundane things over and over again. This section begins as Feng was married into one of the richest family in Shanghai, which I could not describe how she ended up without spoilers. Her husband was not good-looking, but loved and treasured her. This part should have had lots of potential for the author to develop conflicts and relationships, whether positive or negative, between Feng and her family...but no. Feng spent all her self dwelling in self-pity, repeating meaningless things around her and describing how she resists performing the marriage ritual with her husband, night in and night out. I had no idea how she transformed from the loving girl in the beginning to this materialistic, hateful, deceitful, angry, loveless and full of revenge character overnight. I did not see the causes or events leading to it. I almost stopped reading a few times to get over the torture. Her resistance of performing wife duties was a bit unrealistic and forceful as well, especially for women of that era.
All in all, there are much better books to understand China, and the mentality of Chinese women with.
Finally finished the 5th book in the Fever Series...The first three books were amazing, I had to start one right after another, because the plot was g...moreFinally finished the 5th book in the Fever Series...The first three books were amazing, I had to start one right after another, because the plot was good, characters unique and interesting and the story revealed itself at just the right pace. However, by book 4...to about 75% of book 5, the pace slowed down. Too many pages were used on MAC's repeated inner thoughts. The story just dragged on until the ending that was actually quite amazing. I would have given this book 3 stars but because I loved the first three books, and the ending...the whole series deserves a 4.(less)
A 3.5 stars book, but I gave a 4 due to the immensely funny and accurate descriptions of a true introvert, interesting pathological facts of diseases...more A 3.5 stars book, but I gave a 4 due to the immensely funny and accurate descriptions of a true introvert, interesting pathological facts of diseases and the numerous and appropriate quotes from numerous books, movies and plays.
On the other hand, I had mostly unfavorable experiences with pet/animal books. They were either too cheesy, too touchy-feely, have a weak plot, or extremely boring. We know all pet owners love their dogs/cats/other pets to death, and they all seem to be the perfect and loyal companion and friend. However, to have the literary skill to convince your readers to feel the same is another story. The most recent one I had read, Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man would had been okay if the author did not boast about himself that much and focused more on his rooster, other pets and his new family.
This fictional story was...not a bad read, but far from the caliber of the books that I had mentioned up there. The story was about Cyrus Mills, who is a Veterinarian pathologist himself, inherited a Vet clinics from his estranged Father after he died. He has some legal issues with his license where he came from (North Carolina), and was hoping to quickly sell the practice to use the money for his legal expense. However, as he encounters one after another of his Father's old clients and their pets, things are not going exactly the way he wanted them to be.
This is truly a character-based book, and defining and building each of these characters was obviously the author's strong suit. There's Cyrus, who's a true introvert and not exactly good with people or pets, so he chose pathology as his emphasis. He believed his Father, the beloved Dr. Cobb, had wronged him and his Mom by spending too much time at work. Lewis, Cobb's old practice partner who seems to be always running some mysterious errands. Doris, the receptionist who evidently showed Cyrus that she takes orders from no one, especially him, Denise, a poor teenager who's pregnant, as well as her cat Tina. A cop who was Cyrus' tormentor in school, a young and smart waitress, a few cougars, a bitter step dad.,,and they all added up to a quite interesting storyline. The author’s writing is what I may have problems with: It’s a bit impersonal in times.
There was also a lost dog, Frieda, but not "dogs" - as indicated in the title. I think the title is a bit misleading. There were definitely no lost dogs, but just lots of dogs (or cats) that the owners can't live without and love. However, there were quite a few lost humans, not literally, of course.
So, to summarize this review: This was definitely a good books to read, but even with the great plot, the wonderful characters, literary references and a few tear-jerking moments, don't expect this book to wow you. The writing lacks a bit of polish and style. However, it will definitely make you smile, especially if you are a pet owner. (less)
This book came just in time for Mother’s Day 2013. It’s a collection of short stories/essays written by 31 different female authors. Some of them are...moreThis book came just in time for Mother’s Day 2013. It’s a collection of short stories/essays written by 31 different female authors. Some of them are well known, others, not as much. The theme? They wrote about the one thing that their Mom had given them with the most meaning or long-lasting impression.
As a reader, I truly believe that investing a little time to understand the background, education, life experiences, and childhood of an author would greatly improve my reading experience. When I saw the names of several authors I know, I thought this book would be a great supplement for my books. I also predicted that this would be an inspirational and uplifting easy read. After all, who else could influence us as much, or as positively as our Mother does?
I was quite wrong.
It was a shock to discover that not all stories were positive or easy to read. Some authors downright hate their Moms, or lack mothering there of. The “gift” their talked about were not all tangible as well, although most were. They varied from tangible: a nail polish, a photograph, a part of their home, an outfit; to intangible ones: memories, pain, love of words, a day’s experience. The essays also varied from pleasant to down right painful to read, from eloquent to mediocre. Some realized their Mothers loved them right there and then, others, years later. The essays definitely covered all sort of Mothers and daughters, some good, some not so good….just like in real life. A few stories I definitely had fond memories of even a few weeks after reading the book: A Thousand Words a Day and One Charming Note by Lisa See; The Missing Photograph by Caroline Leavitt. The introduction by Elizabeth Benedict was quite emotional to read as well.
Since the chapters are divided by authors and their piece. One can read this book all in one sitting, or divide them up and read one or a few at a time. I highly recommend this book to all who want to study the complex mother/daughter relationship, or just as a simple gift for a Mom or a daughter.
I received the ARC from NetGalley…and later purchased a copy as a Mother’s Day gift for my best friend, who has a “it’s complicated” relationship with her Mom.