I remember King's memoir a few years ago and completely enjoying his brutal honesty and his advice. Truthfully, I've only read "The Eyes of the DragonI remember King's memoir a few years ago and completely enjoying his brutal honesty and his advice. Truthfully, I've only read "The Eyes of the Dragon" when I was in the 7th grade. I haven't read his other works in the horror genre, but I've always held a deep respect for King, since he's deft at narration and creating suspense within the reader. I wanted to learn how to do that, too, so I decided to read "On Writing." I like that King keeps it real in this memoir; he doesn't hide behind a bruised ego and he offers some great practical advice on how to approach issues that writers often have, whether it's starting their first draft, trudging through writers' block, the process of editing and cutting out the unnecessary, as well as accepting the rejections/criticisms so as to turn them into learning experiences in honing his craft. I find that it's an invaluable resource to have in your arsenal of reference books on writing. Even though I've read it already, it's helpful to refer to King's advice once in a while for a quick pick-me-up and a chuckle. ...more
It's not particularly brilliant in its plot line or in it's characterizations, but it was funny enough if you're looking for a quick summer read to enIt's not particularly brilliant in its plot line or in it's characterizations, but it was funny enough if you're looking for a quick summer read to entertain yourself. For me, it was a guilty pleasure kind of book... And I admit that I actually read the subsequent two books in the series. ...more
Fast-paced, filled with action, and comprised of characters that question their identities and their place in their seemingly perfect society composedFast-paced, filled with action, and comprised of characters that question their identities and their place in their seemingly perfect society composed of different factions and belief systems. I liked that the protagonist continuously questioned everything and mapped out her own set of values in a world where it is dangerous to be a free-thinking individual, to be someone considered "Divergent." It's a thrilling story about how one's choices and morality will ultimately impact the future and shape the world in which they live. Eventually, the characters learn little by little that you cannot be a true leader without possessing all of the qualities that each faction values: selflessness (Abegnation), bravery (Dauntless), intelligence (Erudite), honesty (Candor), and kindness (Amity). It's not about completely embodying one trait at the expense of rejecting the others, but rather embracing all of these qualities and accepting them as part of the human condition in order to experience life in its entirety and face each challenge by being true to one's self.
I'm definitely reading the next books in the series. ...more
Foster wrote a concise and clear-cut guide for reading literature. I must admit that I already learned most of the analytical skills he mentions in thFoster wrote a concise and clear-cut guide for reading literature. I must admit that I already learned most of the analytical skills he mentions in the book throughout my high school and college English courses, but I appreciated his passages about Carl Jung's concepts of archetypes and the collective consciousness that we all share in order to connect to various stories despite our different experiences of reading the same bodies of text. On a psychological level, this is an essential aspect for communication and storytelling; the complexity of the concepts, language, and representations we use everyday are what help facilitate basic human connections and the continuous exchange of ideas between different people. It highlights the universality of the human experience - though we are all individuals going through different life experiences we are still able to connect on an emotional level to find meaning in our literary heroes and antagonists so as to make sense of our own lives and create meaning for ourselves.
If you're a seasoned bookworm who's already well-versed in classic American and British literary traditions, then you probably wouldn't appreciate Foster's tone or much of the topics he covers in this book, since he does point out a lot of the obvious. However, I wouldn't be so quick as to dismiss it completely and give Foster's guide a one-star rating. I think this guide is good to keep on your shelf if you're:
(a) completely lost as to how to analyze literary texts. (b) a novice student in American and British literature and need help to write those thematic essays for your English class. (c) a bookworm and/or writer who just wants a lively refresher because you miss taking literature and creative writing classes.
Overall, I'd recommend it to any friend who might find it challenging to discern allusions, symbolism, and theme independently in their readings - i.e., the overall "intertexuality" that allows us to connect with the writer and the story through our own perceptions as readers....more
I haven't read a book like this in a long time - a novel full of magic and surrealism. I'm glad I did. At first, it strikes you as a cliched star-crosI haven't read a book like this in a long time - a novel full of magic and surrealism. I'm glad I did. At first, it strikes you as a cliched star-crossed lovers kind of story (and you're thinking to yourself, "please don't be another overrated romance novel devoid of actual literary substance"), but after reading the first five chapters, you might it that it's surprisingly good (depending on your literary interests and whether you like Morgenstern's narrative style enough to suspend your disbeliefs for the time being). You eventually become intrigued because you wonder if the characters are wielding real magic as their weapons, or if it's all just tricks and illusions. After all, the backdrop is a circus, Le Cirque des Rêves. It's a clever setting that Morgenstern doubly uses as a plot device, and which her protagonists also use as a device to advance their strategies in the treacherous game that they were brought up to play against each other. As both the reader and the audience (or "rêveur," if you'd prefer), we're turning the page wondering what's going on and what we are going to see next, and whether this whole web of interlacing magical schemes will unravel itself and reveal a wondrous spectacle worthy of our applause. And by "wondrous spectacle," I mean a miracle, for how do you escape a future that already seems to have been shaped for you by someone else and your only option is to survive in order to secure someone else's victory?
The power dynamics are brilliant. The one question that begs answering in the reader's mind is wondering just WHO is in power? Who set up the game? Prospero the Enchanter and Mr. "A.H.", in their attempts to outshine the other? Or was the circus really a continuation of tradition which Cecilia and Marco have contributed to building through their exhibition designs? This of course, leads to other questions: Could the circus itself be a symbol of something else - a premise on which the a promise of the miraculous is to be witnessed? How many people have participated in such an arena in the past, either as players or innocent bystanders, and how many others' fates are intertwined in the future of Le Cirque des Rêves? More importantly, do Marco and Cecilia have alternatives instead of killing the other? And if so, what are the implications of their choices, and how do they deal with the consequences?
I've read other reviews here complaining that the story is more plot-driven than it is character-driven, which deters them from giving this novel at least a 3-star rating (as in, they at least "liked" it, according to Goodreads' rating scale). But as a writer, I say, WHO CARES? It's a minor and inconsequential quibble that need not be picked at for the sake of being picky. For a story is a story whether it's driven by plot or by character - it all depends on the author's intent. What matters is that there is, first of all, a plot (one that captures our interest to even bother spending our time and mental energy to read it in the first place) and that second, there are a cast of various characters, both leading and supporting roles, whom I would hope are dynamic and complex enough to undergo more than just one conflict throughout the narration of the story (especially if they're the protagonists, as in Marco's and Cecilia's cases).
There is enough evidence in the text to suggest that Marco and Cecilia are well-developed characters that drive the plot. If you want to use the psychoanalytic approach, just consider their childhoods. Cecilia Bowen, the lovely Illusionist of Le Cirque des Rêves adored by rêveurs all over the world, is the estranged daughter of Prospero the Enchanter (Hector Bowen, to those who know his legal name), a reckless magician who didn't even care for her mother and who saw his then-five-year-old daughter and her magic capabilities to manipulate objects (and heal open wounds and broken bones) as a potential weapon to win the game he has set up with his rival, Mr. "A.H." Meanwhile, Marco Alisdair, the assistant to the proprietor of the circus, was a nine-year-old orphan when he was adopted by a mysterious man named Mr. A.H. Marco was trained by his cold and distant instructor in the art of etching runes to construct alternate psychological perceptions of reality, and he worked behind the scenes to ensure that Le Cirque des Rêves continued to function as it toured the world and set up its black-and-white tents for its nocturnal spectacles. Both Marco and Cecilia grew up with broken childhoods with less-than-wholesome role models, both of them bred to battle against each other without ever knowing who the other was, and both wondering if their defeat will really mean their ultimate demise as they work tirelessly to perfect their roles in the circus, unbeknownst to the rêveurs.
A mysterious circus that only opens at night, a fatal bet between two old rival magicians, two young people who never met forced to battle against each other using subtle magic and creativity by their instructors and who only wish they were free to make their own choices in the midst of the game. Just reading Morgenstern's omniscient narration felt like a novelty. It echoes with the familiar and also terrifies you with the subtle implications that no matter what the protagonists do, they're doomed... or are they?
Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus" brings to mind the question that Edgar Allen Poe once posed - "Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?"
Like Chandresh Lefevre, Isobel the fortune-teller, the Burgess sisters, Frederick Thiessen, Bailey Clarke, and all of their fellow rêveurs, we're left to ponder this question. Maybe a coin flip is just a penny in the air waiting to drop, and once it drops, it just drops. Or perhaps there's more to it than we first envisioned. It could be that some things are never truly as they seem. Hence, our continuous search for meaning in life, and our desire to create our own purpose....more
I picked this book up from the library, wondering if there was anything new that I could learn - if there was an overlap between his views when he wroI picked this book up from the library, wondering if there was anything new that I could learn - if there was an overlap between his views when he wrote the book as a senator back in 2006 and his views now as the incumbent President. Most of his views have been fairly consistent, and he has been equally critical of both his Republican and his Democratic colleagues in Washington, which may surprise a lot of people who haven't read this book. The writing style itself isn't anything extraordinary, but his words are simple and can at times ring with profoundness in their clarity. There were a couple of chapters that struck a chord with me:
In the chapter called "Opportunity," Obama makes the case for the need for reinvesting in our country's education system, more specifically, to allocate more resources where opportunities are often scarce and/or lacking in many of the nation's poorest neighborhoods, as well as investing in training teachers to . I tend to agree with him in this particular aspect of rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, for it's through education that a person can lift him or herself out of poverty and make a better life for him or herself. If we do not give enough attention to fix and strengthen public education, the American people may not be able to compete against the global market, especially with countries like China and India surpassing us in mathematics, science, and engineering, and taking into consideration that more and more international students having a higher likelihood of getting hired at successful companies like Google. Better to strengthen public education now so as to pave the way to a stronger U.S. economy in the future.
In the chapter entitled "The World Beyond Our Borders," Obama demonstrated his understanding of U.S. foreign policy under the Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. administrations. It's amusing for me to reflect on how wrong and extreme conservatives are in labeling Obama a "communist" or a "Muslim terrorist," even though he was clear in his stance against such things: "The United States won the Cold War not simply because it outgunned the Soviet Union but because American values held sway in the court of international public opinion, which included those who lived within communist regimes. Even more than was true during the Cold War, the struggle against Islamic-based terrorism will be not simply a military campaign but a battle for public opinion in the Islamic world, among our allies, and in the United States... We'll need to make sure that that any exercise of American military power helps rather than hinders our broader goals: to incapacitate the destructive potential of terrorist networks and win this global battle of ideas." Barack Obama recognized early on the urgency with which we needed to act in order to topple Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda - which he fulfilled in his promise as Commander-in-Chief in consulting with generals and coordinating with Navy Seal Six. To quote, on page 309: "I would also argue that we have the right to take unilateral military action to eliminate an imminent threat to our security - so long as an imminent threat is understood to be a nation, group, or individual that is actively preparing to strike U.S. targets (or allies with which the United States has mutual defense agreements), and has or will have the means to do so in the immediate future. Al Quaeda qualifies under this standard, and we can and should carry out preemptive strikes against them wherever we can." Thus, to say that Obama is "soft" on foreign policy, given his views and his past accomplishments, would be inaccurate.
For the most part, I've gotten the impression that he's a down-to-earth kind of person, the kind of guy whom you can have an intelligent conversation with and meet halfway even if your views are different. He considers the nuances of each situation and explains quite eloquently how each scenario might play out under different policies. You may not agree with many of his policies, and he's not a perfect president - no president ever is, but in reading this book, you might learn something worthwhile. ...more
An engaging, detailed scope into the story of the struggle for women's suffrage in the early 20th century, and an inspiring narrative about Alice PaulAn engaging, detailed scope into the story of the struggle for women's suffrage in the early 20th century, and an inspiring narrative about Alice Paul's unwavering determination to secure the ballot through the passage of the 19th Amendment. ...more
Regardless of your worldview, Eleanor Roosevelt's "You Learn by Living" has been one of the most logical, thoughtful, and uplifting books about facingRegardless of your worldview, Eleanor Roosevelt's "You Learn by Living" has been one of the most logical, thoughtful, and uplifting books about facing your fears that I have ever read. It doesn't feel like you're reading a book by a former First Lady of the United States, but rather like you're having a lively discussion with a wise woman who's accomplished her own feats and learned some valuable life lessons - the legacy of which she is handing down to you to do what you will with it....more
The title caught my attention when I was browsing the sociology section for a new book to read at the library. "Kill the Princess?" I thought. "What cThe title caught my attention when I was browsing the sociology section for a new book to read at the library. "Kill the Princess?" I thought. "What could the author possibly mean?"
The message couldn't be any clearer: in order to grow up and be a successful woman who knows what she wants and how to strive for it, we have to smash the illusion that it is in the nature of woman to be self-sacrificing. In other words, quit kidding yourself that you will marry some handsome, rich prince who will treat you like his queen for the rest of your life just because you cook, clean, and wash his clothes for him. Essentially, it's free labor for him, and if he doesn't let you follow your own dreams and aspirations such as pursuing your own passions and exploring your own creativity , then he's no Prince Charming, and you're really nothing more than his slave. As someone with dreams and desires, as a person, you deserve better than that. You deserve a chance at finding real love, and if you choose to get married, you deserve to marry someone who values you for the person you are, not just for your domestic skills. You deserve to be the person you want to be. You deserve the chance to work hard for what you really want. Not simply because you are a woman, but because you are a person with potential for greatness.
Don't expect the happy ending to be handed over to you because you're some princess in need of rescuing. You are unique. You are yourself, and you're more than capable of writing the ending to your own fairytale.
Vermeulen's writing is clear, loud, and fierce. It's not for the sensitive. She explores different areas that women tend to worry about - the struggle to look beautiful, to pursue a career, to start a family, to understand why religion seems to put women down as inferior creatures. Vermeulen writes with brutal honesty about how women can be duped into buying into society's idea of perfection. We are never satisfied because we're always trying to reach an unattainable standard of perfection - a standard that's not even our own to begin with. If you endeavor to shut out the noise and really dig deep down to understand yourself, you may soon find that meeting your own standards are really all that matter to be at peace with yourself and to really be happy.
As another goodreads reviewer said, "Kill the Princess" is just one book out there about feminism. It's a thoughtful read, one that I would recommend to my younger sisters, my friends, or anyone willing to read something different to broaden their mind. ...more
Should one do as society expects or act according to his or her own will? That seems to be the central question Edith Wharton explores in her works.
*RShould one do as society expects or act according to his or her own will? That seems to be the central question Edith Wharton explores in her works.
*Review below may contain spoilers*
It's a tough call, especially when one is to think about duty, loyalty, and protecting the interests of one's family. However, to only do as one is expected due to the pressures placed upon the individual by the society to which one belongs will not guarantee happiness, as Newland Archer later learns. The one thing I am still trying to wrap my mind around is how he thought that he could marry a woman he does not love and have the woman he does love as his mistress. May already suspected that Newland didn't love her, and she had given Newland the chance to walk away before they were even married. Yet Newland marries her anyway because that was what society expected of him. In doing so, he denied himself the true happiness he could have had if he had followed his own heart and married Ellen, even if rich New York society thought it was in bad taste. Newland Archer is a character that will exasperate you, and yet also draw your sympathy, for he mourns a life that could have been if only he had just been braver in following his own heart in the first place.
To wear a mask one's entire life is no way to live, and this is perhaps the message conveyed through the novel....more
Funny, heartbreaking, and at times surprisingly poignant. While reading it, I found this quote to be especially meaningful... perhaps because on someFunny, heartbreaking, and at times surprisingly poignant. While reading it, I found this quote to be especially meaningful... perhaps because on some level, I can feel the emotional connection and personally relate to it. Reading Emma Morley's thoughts during her moments of contemplation is a lot like reading my own thoughts:
" 'What are you going to do with your life?' In one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever; teachers, her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer. The future rose up ahead of her, a succession of empty days, each more daunting and unknowable than the one before her. How would she ever fill them all?
...'Live each day as if it's your last,' that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn't practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at... something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.
"That was her general theory, even if she hadn't made a very good start of it."
It's about love without the grand illusions. It's raw, real, and a story that some may find a worthwhile read....more