"A monster is hard to see and even harder to kill. It takes time to grow so huge, time to crawl into the open air. People will tell you it's not there"A monster is hard to see and even harder to kill. It takes time to grow so huge, time to crawl into the open air. People will tell you it's not there; you're imagining things. But a book is a book. Pages are pages. Hawks are hawks. Doves are doves." -Esther, Incantation by Alice Hoffman
As Estrella, our main character goes to the well in the center of town in order to draw water that is said to come directly in heaven; while doing so, she also gathers stories and laughter with her friend, Catalina. As Raven, a childhood nickname, she flits through girlhood into her teen years, not knowing what lives around her, filled only with dreams and mere glimpses into the hearts of others. As Esther, her true but secret name, in a time when Jews aren't allowed to live, she realizes it ... the monster always comes for books first, for the knowledge and power those books hold and to put to ash the memories of the people that are written within.
Incantation works a spell within the reader's mind. It's filled with sparks of truth, like when a character is seen for who she is, truly. Someone who "shone when something bad was happening to someone else" and who, therefore, should never have been trusted at all. That line set fire to a memory from just last week. A student's eyes glittering as she asked a question of another student, a question that she knew would cause pain. Another truth being that "[y]ou cannot disprove the ridiculous. You cannot argue reasonably with evil." If one can't argue reasonably with it, what must one do in order for it not to grow into a monster? Finally, the overall truth being never to forget; for when things are forgotten, they are completely lost.
While there were moments, in the beginning of this story, during which I thought that Hoffman might be about to miss the mark, she crafted yet another tale that is spot on. It goes straight to the heart of something, something that still exists today. Honestly, while I feel I should have cried, I didn't. Instead of crying for characters, as I've done with other books, it's as if their story is now within me ... likely due to the fact that things such as these happened (and continue to happen) to actual people, perpetrated by a monster that actually lived and still does. That's not easily shed but taken in to be remembered. ...more
This new take on the old tale set in a desert harem over a thousand nights intrigued me at the start. The artistry on the coI'm somewhat at a loss....
This new take on the old tale set in a desert harem over a thousand nights intrigued me at the start. The artistry on the cover first drew me. Once chosen, I burned through the first one hundred pages or more, totally taken with the tales spun within. Parts and pieces are poignant, such as when the sisters are taken into the storm by their father in order that they'll become educated in the ways of such a storm and, hopefully, be safe when the waters come again. I didn't question the love between the sisters and was taken with their personalities and choices. Additionally, certain things made me think. Could a man who had been forced to witness great violence and wrongs continue to be a good man or would his goodness be forever twisted, if not lost?
In the end, I'm left wondering if this YA novel is simply another "Black Beard" tale. Another story in which a beauty meets a beast and creates a "new" reality through her stories and words. Leaving the reader, especially a reader in 2016, feeling the piece to be more than somewhat empty and wanting.
After all, this beauty isn't even named, unless one considers what her husband calls her to be her name. Additionally, some of the promise offered at the start is never seen through to the end. So many questions remain unanswered. Too many characters who seem vital turn into shadows of themselves. The power that burns initially, whether the love between sisters or the supernatural lights and ties, seem to fizzle out and disappear, both literally and figuratively.
Is the dichotomy between the start and finish due to an attempt at the symbolic, the hope of a sequel, or to being written by a newer author? I don't now; I do know I'd rather a book not leave me asking those questions. ...more
"But I'd made a mistake. I'd let Usha believe she was a horse; she had no idea of her own strength. She'd never fought like a bear before." -Rain, The"But I'd made a mistake. I'd let Usha believe she was a horse; she had no idea of her own strength. She'd never fought like a bear before." -Rain, The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman
Hoffman crafted this tale for young adults, but, ultimately, full grown women who love Hoffman will be touched by this small offering and will likely glimpse, understand, and take to heart the takeaway message in a way that teens might not. The takeaway message...? To know your own strength.
Rain, born to an Amazon queen in an ancient land of legend and as the result of capture and rape, is named by her mother to signify the sorrow she bore. Rain grows to be an excellent horsewoman and the "sister" of a bear cub, Usha. It was through Usha and an act of violence and love that Rain learned a life-changing lesson. One must know who she truly is, whether Amazon woman or bear. To live as someone or something else is to not know your own strength and to be weak when true strength is most needed.
Various characters, parts and pieces of the plot, and Hoffman's voice engaged my mind and made me feel both aching heartbreak and love. If I had a bit of criticism (and I do), it would be that the ending is somewhat lacking. The voice and tone changes in the end, which might have been meant for symbolic reasons; however, it's so strong and distinctive throughout that the change, which is somewhat subdued, doesn't seem to match the symbolism of Rain finding her own true strength. ...more
"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in the crisis, shrink from the service of his country: bu"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in the crisis, shrink from the service of his country: but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered: yet we have the consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." -- Thomas Paine
My mother bought this small book for my classroom. A quick but somewhat intense look at the Battle of Trenton. I remember being taken, as a child in my elementary classroom, with the brutal conditions faced by those patriots and their indomitable spirits. That they could be followed not only by their footfalls in the snow but by the blood from their bootless feet....
A different sort of Christmas and yet similar, with the passwords victory or death.
A children's book...?! I know. I don't usually read or review children's books. Having said that, while shopping around and about and detouring into oA children's book...?! I know. I don't usually read or review children's books. Having said that, while shopping around and about and detouring into one of Cabot's stores -- oh, cheddar cheese and all things Vermont -- I picked this up. The illustrator, Karel Hayes, is from New Hampshire. How could I not support another New Hampshire citizen and, in this case, artist?
Additionally, I remember my father teaching me how to track animals when I was around 7-years-old and his taking me into the woods behind our house every winter on snowshoes. He'd give me assignments. "Shannon, you have one hour to find the tracks of a cat, a rabbit, and one other animal. You also need to find a white birch, a golden birch, and a maple tree. Let's go." This tale reminds me of that, of course, with the exception of the dog. The nostalgia of tracking in the snow!
The story itself seems a bit average, until a somewhat humorous turn at the end that many a New Englander has also experienced. I enjoyed the artist's landscapes over her children. The landscapes themselves are quintessential New England and would be enjoyed by those of us who live here and those who live outside our area but want to picture what it must be like here on a winter's day. ...more
My cousins plan their gardens this time of year, especially when feeling blanketed or beset by snow. My father reads fishing books, takes out his bambMy cousins plan their gardens this time of year, especially when feeling blanketed or beset by snow. My father reads fishing books, takes out his bamboo fly rods, and dreams of springtime and those still pools amidst the rushing waters of Vermont's rivers. Me? I'm planning a few hikes!
What an informative book! This wonderful offering is filled with information from weather to clothing, from winter use to mud season, from easy (including wheelchair accessible) to strenuous trails, from the Long Trail to the Appalachian. Having grown up in Vermont, I can say I'm almost ashamed to admit that I've only climbed Owl's Head, Mount Hunger, Snake Mountain, and walked the top of Mount Mansfield after driving up the toll road. That's about to change. The directions given to these trails seem spot on. Great information is provided regarding what to expect, right down to where to find blueberry and blackberry bushes. (Note to self -- Bears also love berries!)
I'm plotting and planning, wondering which might be appropriate for snowshoeing and planning on the Black Creek and Maquam Creek trails during my April vacation, weather permitting.
A great buy and read if you intend to hike in Vermont. Many thanks to The Green Mountain Club!
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we a"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -Abraham Lincoln
After a forward by his son and by Levin, Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address is presented with paintings, photographs, and newspaper clippings from the 1800's and early 1900's. While Jack Levin's forward made a few points that caused me to ponder, including the toll in our nation's treasure -- our fathers, brothers, and sons, I was found wanting at the end. As stirring as Lincoln's speech is, I wanted more, for someone to connect a few more dots.
Given that this particular book ends there, I'm left to connect the dots that come to my mind.
Lincoln was a man who was desperate to keep our country together. He considered that to be his duty, both literal and sacred. Today, we go on about the fact that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, which is a somewhat limited, if not faulty, perspective. True, when Lincoln took office after first being elected, he didn't free the slaves. Having said that, he and the North wouldn't allow slavery to spread. The South found that untenable. As Lincoln said in his speech, "To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest [slavery] was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it ... Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding." A war that tore this country apart, killing 750,000 men, ensued.
Despite the hardships, horror, and sorrows, on the eve of the South's surrender, Lincoln didn't brag about all he had done to save our country or the slaves. No. He said, mere weeks before Lee's surrender and in this speech, "It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged."
Great truths can be found in the 1860's, in Lincoln's life, and in his second inaugural address. The current narrative would have us skewer Lincoln for his unwillingness to burn our country down around us; at the very least, the current narrative would have us attack him for being willing to forgive injustice. (The current narrative would have us dig up the bodies of dead soldiers and their wives....) Of course, the current mood and intentions, embraced by both political parties and many Americans, have nothing to do with saving our country and everything to do with tearing it apart. Many point to one political candidate who, disgustingly, would have Muslims wear the equivalent of a gold star. Some ignore this candidate's wrongs and point to another candidate, who named Republicans as her number one enemy. One could ask if that includes average and ordinary Republicans on the streets of average and ordinary American towns. But, the first group, the group that points to the man of the "gold star" will not ask that question. They'll ignore it. Both leaders and both groups will walk away from one another, "knowing" they're right.
Our leaders, who don't resemble Lincoln in any way, have attempted to demonize anyone who dares have an idea, opinion, or moral inclination that might stray from their ideas, opinions, and moral inclinations. One points to the other and calls them unpatriotic. The other points back and calls the first group clowns. We, the vast majority of the American people, with a limited knowledge or love of history, ignore Lincoln and the Lincoln's of our past and follow these leaders, blindly; we are no closer to Lincoln.
We don't even ask why it's so vital, for both sides, for our people to be at odds. But, I'm sure that's an aside.
(And this is what happens when the dots aren't connected, leaving me wanting in the end. I connect them myself and wax on in the middle of the night as the moon wanes.)
With malice toward none; with charity toward all....
We live in a time in which most of our leaders and many of our people bear malice toward most and carry charity in their hearts not at all. The question and the choice...? Moving forward, is that who we want to be and is that our choice? Will we emulate the man who said "I won!" more times than we can count, or will we emulate Lincoln, who never said "I won!" and worked to create a reality, instead of a narrative, in which everyone won, even if at a certain cost?...more
I must admit it. James Rollins is a guilty pleasure. Well, more to the point, his Sigma Force novels are a guilty pleasure.
Guns and explosions. TruthI must admit it. James Rollins is a guilty pleasure. Well, more to the point, his Sigma Force novels are a guilty pleasure.
Guns and explosions. Truth and lies. Spies and subterfuge. Good vs. evil.
Oh, wait. You see, that's what draws me to Rollins and his Sigma Force offerings. It's not about the Sig Sauers and globetrotting spies. It's about the questions that arise, often regarding science. In this case, it's a question of whether or not what seems good is good or if it's a cleverly disguised evil. Twin sisters, both scientists, combine Neanderthal DNA with that of a gorilla, creating a hybrid. Their work an attempt to prove that humans had a great leap of intellect thousands of years ago due to interbreeding with other humanoids, like Neanderthals. Enter the Chinese who attempt to steal the sisters, their test subject, their body of work, and their intellect. Evil Chinese _________ (fill in the blank). But, wait.... Despite treating their test subject as a son, did the sisters actually do good or did they, too, do evil? When Maria sees what awaits her in Beijing and is told it all exists due to her very work, she begins to wonder.
For me, I've long wondered if we should play with genetics just because we can. Oh, but we could cure cancer! We could see to it that certain diseases are wiped out! I'm not heartless. I've family members who fought cancer. Some lost and some won. Here's the thing.... Sure, curing cancer would be good. Absolutely. However, is eugenics good? Given that I have some American Indian ancestry and was born and raised in Vermont, where eugenics was embraced, I can say, resoundingly, that eugenics is evil. We're able to play with DNA and are likely able to design things not found in nature, naturally. We might, through this process, come to the point of curing cancer ... designing embryos that are free from the markers that cause that deadly pestilence. Are we wise enough to leave it there? Or, would we use that knowledge to create things that shouldn't be created, to create a human who would be a super soldier or to create a human who would no longer have a low IQ or ...?
Who would think one would find questions regarding the evils that exist when trying to manufacture good in a shoot 'em up spy novel?! If it's written by Rollins, .......more
Another cookbook that's pleasing to the eye with recipes that delight the tastebuds. If you've enjoyed Ree Drummond's cookbooks, you won't be disappoiAnother cookbook that's pleasing to the eye with recipes that delight the tastebuds. If you've enjoyed Ree Drummond's cookbooks, you won't be disappointed with this offering. In fact, I liked it as much as the first, which I really liked very much! Humor, step-by-step instructions with photos, and lots of recipes that appeal to me ... especially the spicy dishes and roasted veggies. I've already tried the recipe for roasted carrots, though I made them when rushed and unwell and misread the directions. As such, I roasted the carrots in the vinaigrette. Ah, well. They were still yummy. All in all, winner, winner chicken dinner ... and more....more
While reading it, I almost felt as if I was slowing down, as if I was going within and returning to a timeOh. My. Goodness.
I really loved this book.
While reading it, I almost felt as if I was slowing down, as if I was going within and returning to a time or an ideal of time when I was and we were more mindful, present, and filled with the wonder around us.
Broken into the seasons, Mahany lists important dates, gives creative and celebratory hints for things to do within those seasons, includes introspective reflections, and shares family recipes.
Most interesting for me, the reflections were beautifully written. Understatement. ...more