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Friday, May 26, 2017

Soundless - Richelle Mead

Because her people are deaf, Fei's village communicates solely by handsigns and written word. Although their histories say it was not always like this, nobody can remember a time when this wasn't so.

Isolated from all other trade due to their location, their consumption is restricted by the line keeper who sends goods and food in exchange for mined goods. When the mines begin drying up they're barely able to feed their people and to make matters worse, people are losing their sight.

Fei and Li Wei leave on a difficult journey determined to speak to those in charge and change how things are done and save their people.

Although Fei is aware of the hardships of the other villagers because she records them, she does not experience them because of her position and social status. When she leaves the village with Li Wei she finds herself on equal footing. With their social statuses no longer keeping them apart, their relationship is allowed to blossom in a romantic way. For me this was a nice change from Mead's normally lustful relationships in her stories.

Unable to communicate with outsiders when they get there, Fei and Li Wei must use creative thinking to get themselves out of trouble. They find allies in unusual places. While Li Wei accuses Fei's talents with the brush to be useless compared to the brute strength he used to get them out, her skills even find use in the outside world.

I loved this story all the way until the climax, which essentially amounted to "suddenly! magical beings save them".

In the summary it says it's inspired by Chinese folklore, but the author herself doesn't say what tale and nobody can seem to figure out what story served as inspiration. This is disappointing for me because I always like to go back and read the original tale when possible.

While this is not a read again type book, I would recommend it for the shear creativity Mead shows throughout this novel.

More by the Author:
Vampire Academy
Bloodlines
The Glittering Court

Friday, May 19, 2017

Finding Your Sacred Contracts - Caroline Myss

In her work Sacred Contracts Myss believes that each of us was given unique skills and talents when we born to fulfill contracts that only we as individuals are capable of completing. In her workshops, Myss hopes to bring clarity to people's lives by having individuals analyze their archetypes and the combination of archetypes living within us. She also believes dreams, intuition, and even coincidences in our lives can point us on the right path if we are willing to listen.

I'm somewhat familiar with Myss's work from her book Archetypes, which appeared to be merely a dictionary of archetypes with little use without further guidance. I'd also heard the gist of her ideas from others who have found her Sacred Contracts book useful for their own lives. I had hoped by listening to this workshop I could get a better feel for her work, but I found myself no more enlightened. Myss seems to have trouble staying focused and meanders in her presentation. To make matters worse when she does stop to explain something she doesn't do a good job of it. I found myself largely depending on my own familiarity with archetypes, Jungian thought, and other metaphysical topics to understand what she was saying.

The one thing I did appreciate about her presentation was her use of inclusive language. Near the beginning she explains she is familiar with many modes and advises the audience to substitute their own religious or spiritual language. Of course, this would be a much easier if the audience themselves understood the vocabulary Myss is using at any particular point in her presentation.

This is definitely not a workshop for those unfamiliar with multiple belief systems or for those unfamiliar with her work. Aside from a few odd stories about the author and some of her students, the listener will not receive an further insight. Perhaps this is best for those already familiar with her work and may want to brush up on the philosophy.

Before listening to this or reading other works by this author I would suggest brushing up on the philosophers she uses as a foundation.

More by the Author:
Sacred Contracts
Archetypes
Archetype Cards

Suggested Reading:
The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works...) - Carl Jung
The Myth of Eternal Return - Mircea Eliade
The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell

Friday, May 12, 2017

Big Mushy Happy Lump - Sarah Anderson

When I heard Anderson was releasing a second collection of her online panel comic I had to check it out.

Through comics Sarah shares he daily experiences that I find both relatable and humorous. She draws light-hearted panels about her fickle and ever-changing taste in fashion, her obsession with cats (as well as that of the internet), and the joys of friendships and relationships. But Sarah also draws about more serious topics like depression, anxiety, and social awkwardness.

If you're the type who sees the humor in every day life then this collection of comics may be something to put a smile on your face.

More by the Author:
Adulthood is a Myth

Author's Website:
Sarah's Scribbles

Recommended Reads:
Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh
Heart and Brain: An Awkward Yeti Collection - Nick Seluk
Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants - Matthew Inman

Friday, May 5, 2017

Ronia, the Robber's Daughter - Astrid Lindgren

Ronia was born on a stormy night with the harpies taunting and her mother singing in Mat's castle. Ronia is not only fawned over by the loving Lovis and the hot-headed Matt but also by the band of robbers who live with them.

When she is old enough and the season is right, Ronia spends her days wandering in Matt's forest and enjoying the natural landscape and animals for her play. But her life is forever changed when she meets the son of a rival clan's Chieftain, who opens her eyes to a life very much like her own but different in many ways.

Ronia and her rival must learn to work together in the early-medieval Scandinavian landscape filled with both natural dangers and supernatural creatures from folklore. Together they may eventually be able to break a generation broken friendship.

Lindgren's characters are personifications of certain attributes. Ronia the innocent girl with her loving mother and her overreactionary father. The rival clan's members are near opposites with Borka the cool-headed chieftain, Undis the strict mother, and their teasing son Birk.

Ronia's world is filled with natural dangers like wolves and starvation, as well as supernatural dangers like harpies and grey dwarves. Perhaps my favorite part of this children's novel is that the supernatural creatures are an extension of the natural world, like in the case of gray dwarves only attacking at night. Lindgren presents lessons on safety, charity, love, courage, responsibility, death, and more in episodic chapters.

I hope both children and parents will continue to enjoy this piece for years to come.

More by the Author:
The Brother's Lionheart
Pippi Longstocking's
Rasmus and the Vagabond

Film adaptions:
Ronja Räubertochter
Ronja, the Robber's Daughter