Sunday, December 6, 2009

America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction



Don't get me wrong: there's some very funny stuff here. But I had expected more.The book is formatted like a high school textbook, and even has the rubber stamp "issued to" on the inside cover with at least one zinger in it. We are therefore forewarned to read everything, including marginal notes, footnotes, photo credits, to see if they are serious or not. Mostly, they are not. Among my favorites are the marginal "Were you aware?" comments, including such gems as "During the average president's first four-year term, he spends 1,241 days figuring out how to get a second four-year term." Do the math.Nothing, absolutely nothing, is sacred here. There is a foreword by Thomas Jefferson, charts and diagrams of all sorts, most of which do make a point, although not always the one the title suggests. But there's also a picture of what is purported to be the Supreme Court naked, and a collection of gowns with which to "restore the dignity of the court." The "senior correspondents" make their contribution, including Stephen Colbert, who now has his own show, and Samantha Bee who does her self-effacing comments from the Canadian perspective. The first two-thirds or so of the book would rate at least four stars. But it falls off by the time we get to the chapter on America of the future, goes even further down hill through "the rest of the world" segment, and is largely bitter irony by the time you get to the part about the 2004 election. When it was new, this might have been funny; I couldn't say. I was rooting for the Libertarians that year.Yes, it's funny, and there are some valuable insights and zingers here. But much of it is also pretty adolescent in style. I think the Daily Show has matured significantly since this book was written.


Do you know where tropical paradise is? This is the place http://www.thecovehousepanglao.com/

Godless:How An Evanlegical Preacher Became One Of America's Leading Atheists




For a biography of the author, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Barker


Barker is a major force in the Freedom From Religion Foundation precisely because he has an insider's knowledge of Christianity, and especially of the clergy. But he is also very well educated and well read, and very, very intelligent. There's no question in my mind that his atheism is a result of that intelligence. He learned how to use the mind control techniques in common usage among evangelicals, and he learned to despise them as unfair. Rather than try to characterize this book, I'm just going to provide a few appropriate quotes."Between the summer and Christmas of 1983 I went through an awful period of hypocrisy. . . . I was still preaching, and I hated myself. I was living with the momentum of a lifetime of Christian service, still receiving invitations to minister, still feeding my family with honoraria from ministry and singing engagements in churches and Christian schools."[A woman told him that she "felt the spirit of God" in his sermon.] "I realized that the whole sermon/worship setup is a huge drama that we are all acting out, not just the person in the pulpit, but the audience as self-selected participants without whom there could be no preaching. We were all playing along with the illusionary meaningfulness of it all.""If someone tells me I am going to hell, I say, 'Thank you! All the great people are in hell. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mark Twain . . . I was afraid you were going to tell me to "go to heaven" and spend eternity with Jerry Falwell.'""When ministers who are untrained to science make cosmological pronouncements that contradict science, why are they granted more credibility than professional physicists, mathematiians or biologists? . . . because, like quacks, they are believed qualified."


OK, I'm not having much luck finding the quotes I want, and the screen saver keeps kicking in while I look for them.]One of my favorite chapters is "Dear Theologian," a letter from God to a theologian. He has a lot of questions . . . and not much hope of getting sensible answers. It's as amusing as it is enlightening.In Part Three, "What's Wrong With Christianity," most of it involves either moral issues or historical issues. In a chapter entitled "The Bible and Morality," Barker makes all the usual arguments about the moral example set by a ruthless Old Testament god, but also makes the point that there are some pretty heartless events in the New Testament, too.Two chapters that are very valuable to me are "Did Jesus Exist?" [probably not], and "Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead? [just plain no.] His arguments are very well documented, including various interpretations of the same bible passages.The last segment deals with Barker's life since becoming an "activist" atheist, including his role in the Freedom From Religion Foundation (of which I am a member) and their involvement in First Amendment issues in the courts. It's all fascinating reading, possibly even for a Christian.




Visit tropical paradise and redefine tranqulity- http://www.thecovehousepanglao.com/



Source:http://booksanon.multiply.com/reviews/item/290

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Sorrows of Young Werther- A Book Review





The Sorrows of Young Werther is a beautiful piece of tragic literature. It's written mostly as a series of letters from Werther to his friend Wilhelm detailing his love of Lotte and how that leads to his eventual suicide.

Right from the get go Werther knows of the impending marriage between Lotte and Albert but he can't control his emotions and the love he feels for Lotte. And when he meets Albert, who is a genuinely nice guy, he can't help but like him. The letters go from being full of excitement and elation at the beginning of his acquaintance with Lotte to slowly turning very dark as Werther slips further and further into depression. Deep depression. In fact, his emotions go to such extremes throughout the book, I'd say poor Werther is manic depressive with his thoughts of suicide and murder. He says towards the end of the book, "One of us three must go, so let it be me!" He's had thoughts of killing Albert and even Lotte herself but can't bring himself to harm either of them. So he takes himself out of the equation in hopes that Lotte and Albert can live happily ever after.

The Sorrows of Young Werther is beautifully written but very sad. It's heartbreaking to read as poor Werther's euphoric happiness slides slowly to despair. He says a couple of days after his first introduction to Lotte, "My days are as happy as any God sets aside for his saints; and, whatever the future may have in store for me, I cannot claim I have not enjoyed the pleasures in life, the very purest of pleasures."


Visit tropical paradise- http://www.thecovhousepanglao.com/


Source:
http://booksanon.multiply.com/reviews/item/300

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lost And Found - A Book Review

Since I have no time to post current read of mine, because I have been very busy though stopping for a while to read I have decided to repost book reviews of network friends. I hope you will find the book of your choice through these reviews.








Lost & Found is a book about just that: being lost and then found. It's about a woman and a dog who have both lost someone, but together they both start to heal. Rocky's husband dies suddenly and she moves out to an island off Maine to sort of run away from everybody and be surrounded by strangers. She becomes the new Animal Control Warden and leavers her career as a therapist behind. What she doesn't expect is to fall in love with the people and animals of Peak's Island. While in the course of her new duties in Animal Control, Rocky meets Lloyd, a very lovable black lab who has been shot through the shoulder with an arrow. Rocky takes Lloyd in while trying to unravel the mystery of who shot him and why. Solving this mystery is a lot more dangerous than it sounds because it centers on a very bad man who will do anything to get that dog. Lost & Found has a lot of interesting and unique characters but Lloyd the dog really steals the show in this novel. This book is great at showing the interaction and bond between a person and a dog.

"A poignant and unforgettable tale of love, loss, and moving on . . . with the help of one not-so-little dog."


Source: http://booksanon.multiply.com/reviews/item/262

Friday, July 17, 2009

NOTE




Dear Reader,




Your book reviewer is actually a little busy at the moment. I wish I could grab a book right now but I have to attend to more important things. But rest assure that I will be writing a good book review the next time and of course I will post it here. I hope you will keep on coming back. Please wait for my next book review.




Always,




M.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

THE OTHER QUEEN- A Book Review


Royalty and chivalry would have to be one of the most popular subjects that stories are told. No wonder stories like Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty and their Prince Charmings will never cease because they have captivated many. Stories simple as it seems but grand because of Royalty and chivalry.

"Some days you hear one story of Mary Queen of Scots, some days another. What you will never, never hear, even if you listen a hundred times, even when the story is told by her adoring admirers, is the story of a woman who consults her own interest, thinks for her self, and marries for her best advantage. But since in this life a woman is a piece of property, she does well to consider her improvement, her sale at the best price, and her further ownership. What else? Shall she let herself tumble down?"
-Elizabeth Talbot; Countess Shrewsbury

This is how this current read of mine starts. A story that a lot of people then and now have been captivated. All captivated by the beauty of Queen Mary of Scots and her downfall, in a novel by Philippa Gregory; “The Other Queen.”
Stories of royalty, of Kings and Queen with their vast Kingdoms has always been intriguing, no doubt. And this novel based on the life of Queen Mary I on her exile to her death on the scaffold in British soil is captivating. I have always been drawn to stories based on history and I must admit that The Tudor is one of my favorite. This novel a mixed between history and fiction blended together makes it perfect. I think it is brilliant to put words behind this famous history. The novel itself will retell history with all its deadly plots and conspiracies, rugged escapes, rebellion, spies, Earl and Duke, from a barren queen to a whore with a crown. All of these make this novel an indulgence.

This would be the first novel that I have read from Philippa Gregory’s novels, “The Other Boleyn Girl” as the most popular. I know this would not be the last. I think to write fiction based on a nonfiction story is a gift, and she has that.

For people drawn to history this is a MUST READ!!

I give this novel a four out of five star rating.




Mary Queen of Scots




M.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle- An Opinion

I am not writing a book review with the book that I just finished reading because I did not finish reading it. I don’t think it would be fair for the author or for the readers of this blog to think that I am making a book review out of assumption, on something that I haven’t finish reading. So I am writing an opinion instead.

I don’t want to drag everything on what book it is. The book that I just read, which I stopped halfway through, is David Wroblewski’s “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle”. This book came highly recommended by Oprah’s Book Club, so of course I was intrigued. I must say that one of my references in looking for must reads aside from New York Times best sellers list is Oprah’s book recommendations. And this is on top of her list. Okay so why did I drop the book? As simple as….so dragging to the extent of getting boring. Mind you it is my opinion. The book is about this special boy – Edgar- who is mute and his love for dogs. The thing that makes the book boring is it makes you wait for the main problem to rise. I was searching for it, and I gave it five days of reading it and yes I have to wait for five days to get to half of the book, about 250 pages read to find it. I got tired after that. Now that the problem arises the story drags again. I know the author wants to incorporate the lives of the dogs to the tragedy of Edgar’s life but still there are too many details that I surely don’t want to know. I mean GET TO THE POINT. I must say I really did try my patience, I told myself that as soon as I know the problem of the story then I know I can finish the book. Then the dragging part begins again, so sadly I said ENOUGH of it and moved on to my next book.

I must say I am very disappointed because I did expect a lot from this novel. But I think avid dog lovers will love reading this book (no wonder Oprah loves it). Well if you have patience and eager to know the subject then the book is worth the read. But if not then I suggest you rethink before reading it.

I won’t be giving my rating for this book for as I mentioned this is not a book review but my own opinion of the matter.

One thing is for sure my next read…. IS NOT BORING!

M.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

SHY MOON

I wrote this poem four years ago and I want to share it. It was when I longed for love dearly....which I cherish now everyday.




"SHY MOON"


Tonight is but an unusual night
As I light my candles I realized that the breeze is colder.
I tried to read some pages of a book, stopped for my night prayer
Then something outside my window caught my attention
Someone singing in a voice so beautiful in tune
It is silence sang by a shy moon, hiding in a velvet sky
I tried to look for her but she only gave me her sweet yet sad smile
And then she said goodbye
Tonight is but an unusual night……


mykee 07/18/2005

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

THE HOURS- A Book Review




If you were given an hour to be someone else, would you take that chance? Did it ever cross your mind to be someone else, in a different place and time? Do you even wonder what it would be like behind someone else’s life? If you were given that chance in an hour would you take it?


My current read is about three women who wished they had that chance. A chance to be somebody else, aside from themselves. A chance which they hunger for, for they loathe their lives in way. Makes you wonder what contentment means? “The Hours” by Michael Cunnigham brings you the ordinary lives of three women, Mrs. Dalloway, Mrs. Woolf and Mrs. Brown. Three women caught up with their own silent resentment towards their lives, and everything changes in just hours. Mrs. Dalloway abhors the fact that the man she loves will never love her back, the way she loves him. Mrs. Woolf despises the thought that being an accomplished writer did not give her, her longing for freedom. And Mrs. Brown revolts that she is trapped in a world full of pretention. But how will these three women influence each other? How will their lives meet? In hours it will be define and forever lock their lives together.


I must admit I was intrigued by the movie which was released 2002 and I was nineteen years old then. I did saw the film but I honestly did not get it. It was really raving on the Academy Awards but I really did not get it. Later on I came to discover, well too late for that matter, that it was based on a novel. Too late when I say because first I did not get the book, second if I did I would not have the chance to read it because of college/university work. After all that, now that I have the chance to consume book after book I came across this novel (a hard cover to be exact) in a book sale. Lucky me, I know. And more surprisingly I did not expect that this novel already won the Pulitzer Prize. That got me very eager to start reading it.


In just a few pages of reading the tone of the novel is already set. The pages exude dark gloom. And as I read through chapter after chapter you get entranced with words so perfectly written and matched like you need to savor each one of them. Like having your favorite dessert. I don’t want to exaggerate but I barely do read books like this. It is the one reason why authors (like Michael Cunnigham) are born to write, to write beauty that the mind will try to fathom. Yes even the beauty of gloom. I think “beautifully written” would be an understatement for this novel. It is a short novel but the story is enchanting. This book made me realize that there are a lot of books out there just waiting for me to be read. And I just can’t wait.


I always end my review with my favorite quote from the book, but I must admit the whole book itself is a quote!


I give this novel a FIVE OUT OF FIVE STAR RATING.

Now time to watch that film again!!

M.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

my sister's keeper- A Book Review




I want to begin this book review with a poem which hangs on my mama’s kitchen:


“Family ties are precious threads
No matter where we roam, they draw us close to those we love
And pull our hearts back home.”



How do you mend a torn family? You sew it back TOGETHER.


The book that I just read goes through the life of a typical family that is going through one tough trial. The Fitgerald -going through a trial in the face of a daughter, a sibling, a sister who has a rare case of leukemia. “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult is a heartbreaking story of how a family copes with a circumstance that they are trying to save but in truth it is truly out of their hands. Kate who is diagnosed with a rare case of leukemia at an early aged depended much on her younger sister Anna for all of her medical needs from blood transfusions to bone marrow transplant. Existential to keep Kate alive. But what happens when one day Anna says….NO MORE. What happens then? More importantly why is Anna doing it? This turmoil breaks their family apart even more but at the end binds them even closer. What happened to Kate? What happened to Anna? Who is the “sister’s keeper”? These are the questions you will have to find out through reading this heartbreaking story.


I always go to the New York Times best sellers website so I can take a peek on the books that are good reads. And yes this is one of them. I saw it in the book store but I hesitated to get it at that time because I can feel tragedy in the story. So I skipped it. But then I heard that the motion picture based on the book is gaining popularity and have good reviews as well, and so I decided to grab the book before I go and see the film. No wonder that both the book and the film have gained and is gaining popularity because this story will make you wonder…..WHY? WHY IS ANNA DOING THIS? AND WHY NOW WHEN HER SISTER, KATE NEEDS HER MOST? In the end everything will reveal itself, as I scan through the last few pages of the book I wept, wept like I never wept before through reading a story. And I know I will weep once again when I will see the film.

This book is for families going through struggles, for moms and dads who will do everything and anything for their children, for couples torn by uncontrolled circumstances, for siblings, for sisters whose love for each other is beyond feeling and living.

I give this book a four out of five star rating.

To watch the movie trailer click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdZZLdjBfCI&feature=fvst

M.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

CRY TO HEAVEN - A Book Review

How do you put ethereal voices in words? How can you describe so much beauty that only the ears will try to comprehend and savor? How can you write tunes so that readers can get overwhelmed with its immensity and power? How?

How I wish I can post a sonata or an aria while you are reading this book review, for I want to describe all the words written for the sake of the voices behind this book. A passionate story behind the voice of a castrato in one of Anne Rice’s novel “Cry To Heaven”. This story all took place in beautiful Italy, where art and passion never cease. Within the canals of Venice a boy named Tonio born to the Doge is trapped within the walls of a castle and the secrets of his family which lead him to become one of the most sought after castrati in the whole of Italy. A voice with so much passion, love and sadness. And as Tonio brought everyone into their knees as he open his mouth to sing, he on the other hand sings for his consumed longing of freedom, revenge and love.

This novel would have to be the longest one I had read to date. But I did not regret reading its immensity. Only an author like Anne Rice can ever write such passion and darkness in its pages that it will want you to know more. Like Tonio who has become a eunuch, sexless in a way, no longer a man yet not enough to be a woman this novel go beyond gender for the sake of passion. Such beauty written, such grandeur in its pages, and an overwhelming sound and voices wrapped me as I devour page after page. Pages that have deadly secrets that will stun readers as much as it stunned the characters of the story. Truly this novel is an EPIC!

I invite everyone to read this novel, especially for artists for I believe this is dedicated to them. I was intimidated with its pages I won’t deny that but as I went through it I found out I just could not have enough of it. There is family drama, there is deadly plots, alcohol, women, men, eunuchs, opera, the list goes on to make this massive story so …………….. MAGNIFICENT!! And only Anne Rice can ever describe ethereal voices in ink. Because of her this novel will certainly be one of the most passionate reads I ever had.


“It was horror of this world that a thousand evil were visited on those who were blameless and no one was ever punished, and side by side the greatest promise was nothing but misery and want. Children mutilated to make choir of seraphim, their song a cry to heaven that heaven did not hear.”

-Tonio

Cry To Heaven by Anne Rice

And before I end this review I want you to view this youtube video from one of the popular Italian movies about castrati Farinelli so that you will be able to see a glimpse of what I have read.

A four out of five star rating.


M.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Afternoon Rain


The afternoon has turned grey. Heavy rain clouds are threatening the skies making me scramble outside to make sure that the dogs won’t get wet. They are safe now. We waited for the rain.

From across the mountain, I can see the rain racing towards our warm house. Mama made sure to shut all window panes and doors. With a shy drop on the tin roof the rain came pouring down. The rain is here making all house roofs sing and making steam out in the warm streets. I decided to open up a door just to take a peek of the beauty outside. Mists teased my face making it tingle. I stared as the soft white fog slowly envelopes everything outside, shrouding the whole village in its cool embrace. The plants seem happy I thought, each rain drop makes leaves and flowers seem to dance with glee. Everything seems quite queit, and as I grab a cup of hot cocoa I eagerly want this moment to last a little longer.


How I love the rain.

M.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SUMMER MUST READS


Even though if it is the wet season here in warm Philippines, I would like to consider my blog readers who are starting their summer break in the west. I know some of you would be going out on a trip this summer, and might be wondering what would be the best book to bring along on your holiday. Or whether you choose to be at home this summer I will be giving these must read for this summer. This is my preference and I have read all of these books as well.


Alright so we will start with the non fiction. My choices are:


Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert- If you are a woman, who will be going on a holiday I believe you need to bring this book with you. If you have not read it then this is the summer you need to read this book. It is the memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert on her quest to look for everything missing in her life travelling in three different countries. I know every woman can relate to her story.


Three Cups Of Tea by Greg Mortenson- is the perfect book for all the gentlemen (and ladies as well). It is the life changing moment of one climber’s dream of reaching Mount Karakoram which ended him to doing so much more for the uneducated children of Pakistan. This book will not bore you for even though if it is a memoir it has a lot of thrills in it.


These are must reads for fiction books:


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini- this is my recent read. And as I mentioned on my book review this is an outstanding novel. It is about the two lives of two women living in the harsh reality that is Afghanistan at war. You will never regret you have read this novel.


Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez- I have chose this book because this novel will bring you to a time of place where there is so much love and romance. This book will make you long for love. One of the most romantic novels I have ever read.


The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy- if you are looking for a book full of family drama set in exotic India, then this book is for you to read. I chose this novel because it illuminates the warmth of summer through its unexpected twists and its poetry where it will bring you to India.

These are my choices for summer must reads. I hope you will watch out my next book review. A novel full of passion and music all set in a country where art and love will never cease, Italy.

M.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS- A Book Review


“I know you’re still young, but I want you to understand and learn this now, he said. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You’re a very, very bright girl. Truly, you are. You can be anything you want, Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over, Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men, maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated, Laila. No chance.”

I believe that is the resonating message that this current read of mine will ever leave readers. A book which will bring you into the lives of the women of Afghanistan. The lives behind these women’s burqas in the second novel of Khaled Hosseini entitled “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. I know a lot us have seen them in our televisions, on the news, women of Afghanistan hidden away in their blue burqas. Wondering what is hidden behind the veil. This book will unveil the stories, of two women; Mariam and Laila, intertwined together by faith, by love, by war, and by family. Where Afghan culture will bring you into a different world. Where the bombs of Soviets, cries of Mujahidin, and the brutal law of Taliban shape their lives together. This is an epic tale of two struggling women, trying to live in this hostile world, hoping for the day to come when peace and love will once again conquer not only their lives but the lives of all Afghan people. A MUST READ!!

I would like to thank Yan Gabor, one of my blog readers, for recommending this novel to me. I have heard about this novel but I waited for the other “books-in-lining” to be read before I held and read it. I have read the first novel of Khaled Hosseini, and just like “The Kite Runner”, this novel will bring you to tears. Khaled has that special talent not a lot of modern authors these days have, he writes so that readers themselves will be part of the story. Reading this book brought me to cringe with pain, boil with anger, rush with anticipation, and weep with joy. I got so immersed in the story that I did not noticed that I was already half way into the book already. More than that the book brings so much hope to everyone and a better understanding of the plight of people under cross fire and of the thousands of refugees today.

This book is OUTSTANDING!

I sing my praises once more to Khaled, a refugee from his home land, Afghanistan, Khaled will give readers the full spectrum of the effects of war to a nation. How someone like his main characters Mariam and Laila have to endure pain just to feel lasting freedom.

I give this book a FIVE OUT OF FIVE RATING.

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”


By: Saib-e-Tabrizi for Kabul, Afghanistan
From: Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

M.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sunsets





I am always fond of sunsets. There is always that certain magic in them that draws my attention. As you know one of the best photos that I have taken are photos taken during sunsets. There is always that mysticism in sunsets that makes me just drop everything and stare at it.


Today I must I have witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. I wish I can put it all in writing but even if I can I know I won’t be able to put justice to what I have seen today. This I write:


It is a warm afternoon. I went out in mama’s hut to cool off, even after having a cold shower the house is still steaming from the earth’s warmth. Gracious Sky decided to sprinkle the warm earth with its shy rain drops. It touches my skin, it tingles. As I sat in the cozy bamboo hut, a faint light at the corner of my eye caught my attention. As I gave my full attention to where it is coming from, a warm sunset was waving to me. I went to mama’s porch to have a better look. And there in all his glory the Sun was dancing with Sky. The Sun painting the whole clear sky with beautiful shades of oranges. A dash of slim clouds tried to catch his rays. I sat at the bench trying to quench my longing to be one with nature. I just sat and stared as the Sun danced in it's wide sky. In a glimpse a soft cool wind blew making all of the trees sway as if they too were saying goodbye to the mighty Sun. I went back to the back garden, and as I look up a great rainbow almost stretching the whole orange sky was waving goodbye as well to the Sun. As I gave my last goodbye to the mighty Sun to rest, he waved back sending purples, blues, oranges and reds in the sky. Then in a glimpse, serene Night came in bringing with her cool rain.

M.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS- A book review



There was once upon a time when people were treated unequally because of their skin color or belief. I believe most countries suffer this type of discrimination before coming to age, one way or the other. Whether from countries in Europe where civil war and anarchy erupted, to the revolution of the “Indios” of the Philippine islands, to the freedom of the slaves in the Americas, inequality became part of a nations history.

One book, written by an inspiring person, all took place during a time when black Americans where addressed as Negroes. A time where race and color dictated your whole person and your whole identity. A time when skin color is tainted by the past, trapped in the present, and held by the future. But amidst these situations and amidst these obstacles the author broke awake from society’s ignorance and bloom through these troubled times. A memoir dedicated to the early years of Maya Angelou in one of her books, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”.

I have always been captivated by stories of people who inspire the present because of their stories of the past. One inspirational story comes from Maya Angelou. This book gives readers a back drop of the past which all took place in Arkansas and it’s “powhitetrash” down to the free spirited city of San Francisco in the 60’s. It brings readers to a time when division is visible between the white and black America. A time when a white dentist could not even treat a black girl (Maya) just because of her skin color. A time when white Americans held the countries power and black Americans as their maids and drivers, the best job they can ever get. A time when black Americans struggled to learn and be educated and most of all treated equal. A very different time.

The best thing about the book is Maya’s spirit imprinted on its pages. She is one courageous lady! No wonder she has become one of the most influential and inspirational black American’s with the likes of Martin Luther King.

With that I end this book review with my favorite quote from the book. With Maya’s frustration of society’s ignorance with race:

“It was awful to be Negro and have no control over my life. It was brutal to be young and already trained to sit quietly and listen to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense. We should all be dead. I thought I should like to see us all dead, one on top of the other. A pyramid of flesh with the whitefolks on the bottom, as the broad base, then the Indians with their silly tomahawks and teepees and wigwams and treaties, the Negroes with their mops and recipes and cotton sacks and spirituals sticking out of their mouths. The Dutch children should stumble in their wooden shoes and break their necks. The French should choke to death on the Louisiana Purchase (1803) while silkworms ate all the Chinese with their stupid pigtails. As a species, we were an abomination. All of us.”

A three and half out of five rating.





Maya Angelou



So why do caged bird sing?
Because it longs for it's freedom, as simple as that.


M.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In Cold Blood; Truman Capote- A BOOK REVIEW


I must admit that I am not a big fan of books that involves suspense and thriller subjects. I am not really into the chase of bad ass criminals and tragic murders. But on occasion I do pick up an exceptional book with such subject, and I mean really exceptional book. And recently I have picked up and read one exceptional suspense book; “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote.


I have blogged about this book prior to me reading it, on how I found this exceptional book. http://miketiaw.multiply.com/journal/item/97/A_Good_BOOK_Find I was really eager to start reading and I must say that the book/story and the author himself really did not disappoint me. If you are not familiar of the story, “In Cold Blood” is based on the Clutter murder of November 1959, Kansas, U.S.A. In whole it doesn’t only revolve on the night of the murder though everything really started there, but it also gives detail life descriptions of the family who were murdered and the lives of the criminals as well. Both coming from two different worlds. The Clutter family are the “typical all American family” (on the surface) Herb Clutter ran a big farm who despises anyone who smokes, his wife Bonnie Clutter suffered from post pregnancy depression which lasted till the day they died, the kids Nancy, 16 was the all perfect daughter and one of the most popular students at school and Kenyon, 15 in his adolescent always had a world of his own and was aloof. The perpetrators Dick Hickock and Perry Smith came from the opposite spectrum of the all “American family”. Both came from a meager family, Perry from a broken one. Which in a lot of ways influenced their life which landed them into “lansing” before committing one of the worse crime ever heard in Kansas; the Clutter Murder. A robbery which turned into one of the most brutal murder ever written, four lives for only $40. Truman did not hold his pen on writing how the Clutter looked on the day they were found dead in their house. Of course the chase of Dick and Smith was also part of the story, and how the detectives Nye and Dewey caught them in Nevada. The whole investigation down to the night when they were hang at “the corner”.


Overall the book is a BIG HIT for me. One of the best things that Capote does as an author is he brings the reader to the story and onto the scene itself. He also gave different sides of America in the 60’s. At the end both sides the murdered and the murderers were victims of uncontrolled circumstances of their life. Makes you think as Truman goes into the troubled lives of Dick and Perry, on how life molded them to become criminals. Was it their fault to end up the way they were? Or was it society’s fault in a way or two?


It is one of non fiction book that I would highly recommend especially to anyone who is into suspense and thriller. A true classic that I wish would be reprinted so that the a lot of readers will be able to savor the story and the genius behind Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”.


M.


Truman Capote



The real Perry (above) & Dick (below)
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Favorite Authors in Time 100 Most Influential People



Some of my favorite authors made it in TIME's 100 most influential people. Here they are:


M.



Elizabeth Gilbert
by John Hodgman
If you are the person in America who has not yet read Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, this is a beautiful book about Liz's journey around the world after her divorce. It has touched countless lives, including Oprah Winfrey's, and I was glad of this because I am Liz's friend. But when I saw her on Oprah, I was also angry: "What about her beautiful short stories?" I yelled at the TV. "Talk about those, Liz!" But she didn't. Liz just smiled radiantly and kept on changing lives.
Because we are friends, I get to call her "Liz" Gilbert. In fact, I sometimes don't even say "Gilbert." Just "Gilb." We met when we appeared in The Paris Review's "New Writers" issue in 1996. But she wasn't new. As a writer, she was already accomplished, funny and wise beyond her years. As a person, doubly so.
Read more here:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1733748_1733752_1735978,00.html




Khaled Hosseini
by Laura Bush
Not many people write successful first novels. Still fewer are able to change the world with their writing. Khaled Hosseini, 43, has done both. His 2003 novel, The Kite Runner, introduced readers around the world to the people of Afghanistan. Four years later, he published A Thousand Splendid Suns—and helped his audience see the faces of the women under the burqas.
Hosseini's stories are set against the backdrop of Afghanistan's tumultuous history. His complex portrayal of human nature, however, transcends geographic boundaries. In more than 40 languages, readers everywhere can recognize the best and worst in humanity in his characters—often in the same person.
Read more here:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1733748_1733752_1735971,00.html

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Middlesex- A Book Review



It has been more than two weeks since I have written a book review or my book blog since this book, which I just finished reading is 600 pages. And I think all of us might agree that it isalready a long read considering that most books on average have 350-400 pages. But at least now I am done reading it.


Alright so much for that so what about this 600 pages book? As I mentioned on my previous blog that I am reading a novel which has received the Pulitzer Prize. I never hesitated to pick it up on the book store because it was something that is new. I have read fiction books from romance to suspense. But this one? Well after reading it I don't know how to categorize it though clearly is a fiction book.


Okay so the book that I am talking about is “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides. I heard about it again from Oprah. Well the first thing that might pop out to anyone’s mind is, well maybe the story is about homosexuality. I thought of it no doubt. But after reading a brief description of the book, I found out that it is not the case. Because it is more intriguing than a life of a homosexual.

“ I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkable smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974….My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license….records my first name simply as Cal.”


After reading that what would you be thinking about? I thought, well maybe it revolves around reincarnation or something like that because there is “reborn” factor. But I was wrong again. So what is it all about? The story revolves around the complex life of Calliope and her identity as a hermaphrodite. In its 600 pages it will bring you into two generations of her/his Greek family and on stories why he/she has ended up as one of the children of Hermes and Aphrodite- a hermaphrodite. The struggles not only of the protagonist but also of his/her family.


Over all the story has humor and character. No doubt that it was beautifully written again by no other than Eugenides; the same author of “The Virgin Suicides”. The story tackles a lot from two different world wars, to immigrants, to family( a lot about family) and gender. The only con about it is it did bore me a little. But over all I say it is a good novel.


M.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book talk: Geeks the new Chic


By Belinda Goldsmith Belinda Goldsmith – Wed Apr 29, 2:22 pm ET


CANBERRA (Reuters) – Move aside, good looking. Geeks are the new chic, according to self-proclaimed geek Garth Sundem who has just released his second book about geekiness.


Sundem, a math whiz and English professor, had written over 20 educational books before turning to a subject he knew well -- geekiness -- with a growing number of geeks proudly going public as their idols, who include Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs, rose to the top.


Sundem's latest book, "The Geek's Guide to World Domination: Be Afraid, Beautiful People," compiles 314.15 facts -- which is a decimal computation for pi -- in a compendium of usable and totally useless bits of information that geeks would relish.

Sundem, who lives with his wife and two children in California, spoke to Reuters about life as a

geek author:


Q: Were you always a geek?
A: "Yes. I think it was in my genes. My father was president of the American Accountancy Association and my mother had a PhD in psychotherapy. What chance did I have?"

Q: But geeks are now cool, you argue?
A: "Yes. Geeks used to be defined by what they couldn't do but they are now defined by what they can do. A geek is someone who is so passionate about something that it pushes to the side their ability to function socially. Sure, techies and science geeks are the classics but I know beer-making geeks, fantasy football geeks, all sorts of geeks."

Q: Is it easier being a geek now?
A: "I think it is because geeks now can connect, they are online and have support groups and they find they are not alone. Culturally we've gotten geekier. It's an information age. Even the cool kids are on Facebook which should be geeky but it's not! Look at Hollywood: in movies back in the 1980s like National Lampoon we would laugh at the geeks. Now we laugh with them."

Q: When did the change happen?
A: "I felt like I woke up and geeks were cool. I think that geek empowerment was brought by the Internet where geeks could unite and rise up as one. What really has happened is that the world has come to depend on information and geeks control the information."

Q: What was your favorite factoid for the book?
A: "That's hard. I had the chance to brainstorm whatever I thought rocked like the WWE stars of the 1980s and cool parasitic adventure and really cool scientific factoids like the mathematics of church bell ringing. What I hoped to do was expand the breadth of geekery. We happen to be passionate about all this information."

Q: Any more geek books in the pipeline?
A: "I have one called "Brain Candy" and it will be everything cool about the mind. I am in my writing cave now and when I am not, I'm hanging out with my two children and my Labrador."

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

I love this report!! In truth one way or the other we are geeky. I know I am book and an internet geek as well. But I believe that geeks can be both brainy and sexy at the same time. What do you think? What type of geek are you?




M.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A thought of Mediocre Books


An opinion:


There are a lot of books these days that I consider mediocre. And why have I come up with that? Intuition maybe. Just like everything else some books these days become a product of money and profit. Some authors write for the sake of making money and not for the mere fact of the art of writing good stories. Have I encountered books and authors for me to bring myself into such conclusion? I believe I have. Have I read any? Not really because I really don’t want to waste my time and money with books that is only a product of mass advertisement. If you are a “book lover” I believe you will always have a good feeling with books. “Good book intuition” perhaps. I believe people who have passion for reading have innate nature to tell whether books are crappy or not. Though I must say that it takes a lot of practice before we get to a point where we can easily tell and distinguish an exceptional book from a mediocre one. I am not the person who goes to the bookstore and gets the most popular book on the shelf where they are all well arranged, piled nicely, which for a lot of reason is a part of their mass advertisement. Some of the best books I have read really are the ones I found in one corner of the bookstore, not a lot of copies, and perhaps a shabby cover. Sometimes I feel sad for readers who get caught up with the “best-seller-turned-movie-saga-series” books (not pertaining to any book) because I feel they are examples of books influenced by mass advertisement and in a way mediocre (for my taste). It doesn’t mean that everyone is reading it, means that it is a good read. Sometimes we just read to get into the fiasco really so that we can say, “yeah I have read that book as well.” And join in the discussion so that we won’t get left behind so to speak. I don’t care really for that. I prefer to read exceptional reads!


This is just my thought on the growing mass production of mediocre books. I feel sad that sometimes authors these days lack the heart to write beautiful stories. I know it is never easy, but I just wish that writing stories would be like reading…..IT MUST HAVE PASSION!



M.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Good BOOK Find!!

I was out today with mama at the super market because of course it is Easter tomorrow and mama wants to prepare something special, so I went with her for some food shopping. Before we went and bought the necessary ingredients for our “Easter specials” mama had her nails done. So while she's relaxing at the salon I went out to do some window shopping myself. Well just window shopping until I ended up at the book sale store. I know you are familiar with stores like these which sell everything from new and old issue magazines, comics and of course the second hand books at very low prices. I have been in these stores before only getting myself an old issue of a popular fashion or travel & leisure magazine. I really don’t have enough patience to stand and scan all of the second hand books. Because as I pick my book on bookstores I directly go to the information desk with my list of my want-to-read-books and have the attendant help me, or more or less pick something that intrigues me. But on stores like “book sale” you have to dig into the books by yourself.

Alright since I don’t have much to do I dive into the piles of books that surround me. It took me about ten minutes of scanning through titles and I was so happy to come across this book.


I never expected to see this book, but I’m lucky to have it now. Of course I bought it! I mean who wouldn’t? I have seen the film “Capote” and prior to that, I honestly must say I really don’t much about him though I totally adore the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which he wrote as well. I love classic books because just like music nothing compares to the classics. And guess how much I paid for it? Only 35 pesos, just about a quarter! Anyway for sure I will be writing a review on it soon. As of now I just started to read a Pulitzer Prize Winner Novel which I will be revealing soon on my next book review.

Have you read “In Cold Blood”, what are your thoughts on it?

M.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The God Of Small Things- A Book Review

During this warm summer months it is always nice to find time to just soak up the sun. Some of us have been out to the beach already, went on pool parties, and enjoyed bonding time with family at a resort. There are a lot of fun things to do during summer, and I hope you will include reading a fine book while you have your cocktails by the beach.


The summer this year came in a little early and the heat as well is warmer. Yes I admit that I can’t stand the heat and do spend most of my time either in any air conditioned room, or just sit back at my mama’s garden reading a book. The warm heat inspired me to look for a book suitable for this occasion. I wanted to find a book where the climate helps define its people and its culture. A book where everything takes place in complete beauty and is exotic. A story where it all took place in India. Why India? Because nothing compares to it. No place is as warm and yet so wet, where people are molded through ancient religion and mysticism. Where devotion is defined by culture. Where fragrant spices and colorful saris are abundant. Where the rich Maharajas live excessively and the poor paravans roam. India is a place of extremes and I was determine to look for a book where it all happens in this exotic country.


“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy, winner of the Booker Prize is the perfect story which took place in Kerala, India. I wasn’t picking any book just for the sake of the plot. I needed to get a book where it will take me to India itself. And this book, through its pages brings so much color and life to the country as much as it tragically wrote the lives of the people involved. Twins to be exact. Estha and Rahel whose live changes dramtically in one day. A tragic story on how their lives are torn away from them through the slow decline of their family, of a forbidden love. On how they lost their innocence and on the beauty of life at a very young age and on how it shaped and affected them as adults.


The novel is once again beautifully written, it gives so much color and life to characters as much as it gives to the plot. The story is unique bringing you back and forth, past to present, connecting each dot to the other. A puzzle full of pickles, of Katakali artists, of a river where readers want to complete eagerly.

I end this book review with the first paragraph of the novel where it will take you away to exotic India and bringing you to this tragic story;

“May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on the bright mangoes in still, dustgreen tress. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruit burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun.”

M.
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Friday, April 3, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love- A Summer Must Read!



I have read a lot of books for the past years but really wasn’t able to blog about them. I just discovered that I find pleasure in blogging about the books that I just read or in old terms making a book review. Most of the books that I have read always have a special place in me because in a lot of ways I do learn something from "them". I am especially fond of each one of my books. But if there is one book that speaks to me it is the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is my choice for anyone who is searching for yourself and searching for Love. This summer where everyone is eager to travel and spend lazy days at the beach with iced teas at hand, I invite everyone to read this witty and romantic memoir to keep you company as you lounge under the summer sun. A story of a lost divorcee landed her to three beautiful places where she found pleasure in food, where she found herself through prayer, and found the love of her life.

Why do I love this book? Why does it speak to me that much? Why the title speaks for itself. Yes I am someone who finds simple pleasures in food (Eat), who find solace in prayer (Pray) and in bliss with my love (Love). That is why I am fond of this memoir. And more than that the author will whisk you away in places a lot of us are eager to be at. The three major chapters all took place in three different beautiful and exotic places in the world. “Eat” took place in Italy where food is absolutely delectable. You can smell all the scent of Italian mothers cooking in their kitchen. And savor all the pizzas through the pages. “Pray” took place in India where Elizabeth searched for her spiritual journey through yoga and deep meditation. A lot of bumps getting to Nirvana but for just a glimpse she saw it. And found her true love in the exotic and romantic tropical jungles of Bali.

You will fall in love with the places that Elizabeth will bring you and fall in love with her stories. More than that the story itself centers on how we can find simple pleasures in our everyday lives and the beauty of LIFE itself.

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight”.
Eat, Pray, Love; Elizabeth Gilbert




M.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Shack, a book review

What would you say if you have the chance to talk to God? I don’t have to say much really, all I have to do is give Him one tight hug and for sure He would know what I really want to say. Actions speak louder than words so they say.


The book that I just read centers about this intimate relationship between God and a broken person and their weekend on the shack. Yes the book that I just read is “The Shack” by WM. Paul Young. It really is a very interesting and an intriguing read. It is one of the top best sellers of fiction books. At first glance you might think it is a book base on terror and mystery with a very grotesque shack almost covered with snow on its cover with a hint of light peeking on the right side. But I was happy to go through its back cover which says:


“In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? The answer Mack get will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him.”

Wont you be intrigued by that? I know I did.


As I read through chapter after chapter I found the book more than intriguing this time. It is a book full of genuine thought and a lot of heart. There are a lot of ideas that resonated in me, and ideas that I too believed in. This makes this book really special. One thing is for sure this book is not for anyone who is not ready to read such thoughts about the author’s concept about God and religion. One should read this book with an open mind and an open heart. But you have to remind yourself that this is a fiction book. I love reading it on how the author portrays God. Unexected? Yes, but it really is a very good portrayal of someone who has so much Love to give. It is such a fresh idea, as far as I know, for the author to craft such a story revolving between a man and God in modern time. This is one fiction book which had the courage to go into those very sensitive subjects but still keeps its integrity.

So what have I learned from reading “The Shack”. A lot I must say. It reminded me of how God’s love is totally unconditional or as we call it AGAPE. NEVER demanding and always patient. That it isn’t about religion but our faith in Him- for He has faith in us. The book teaches you on how we should treasure relationships more than everything and anything and on how we can grow with His grace. That this life, our life is filled with LOVE and we just need to be sensitive to know that He is always with us.

I invite you to read this book it will amaze you on what you will find. I end this blog with this excerpt from the book:


Mackenzie Allen Philip’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack on the weekend.
Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s life forever.

Maybe it will change YOUR LIFE too.......



M.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marley And Me

My family especially, my papa, always loved dogs. We grew up with dogs as part of the family already. Well we really don’t own a pure bred but none the less we still have dogs. Yes we love our mutts. At the moment both my parents who are going into their senior years grew their affection to dogs. We have four dogs right now, not a single pure bred but my parents, including me love them. Doesn’t matter really dogs are not bothered with their breed. So we don’t make a fuzz over it. And the silliest of them all is our dear puppy Panda. Who loves all of our attention, especially mine. He loves to be tickled and scratch and when the other doggies come rushing in he makes sure he gets the top spot of being pet and scratch. Because of him all the older doggies have learned to play again because he loves to nag them. But we are happy that they are not giving us any problems to us. As long as they get to play in mama’s garden which makes them very happy.





Yes my blog today is something related to pets, dogs in particular. It was the holidays last year when I heard of the movie “Marley and Me”. I knew that it was one of the holiday films people went to watched. There is no doubt about that because it is a family oriented movie which everyone can relate to especially for dog lovers. My sister, Danielle, who is living in Florida, told us to watch the movie because it really is a good one. She and husband Gary has two dogs, a very lively yellow Labrador named Puka and a golden retriever who they adopted named Sissy who is in her senior years. Well the film did get here early March. I was so eager to watch it no doubt because I was intrigued about it. There were a lot of movies released before which has dogs as the main character but I was never a big fan of those films. I mean I am not keen on talking dogs or animals unless they are animated. But this film was something else. I was about to watch it when I saw something in the bookstore. The film that I am intrigued about is based on a book? Well I never realized that. And wait, it is on the non-fiction section of the bookstore. So that really got me intrigued. I decided to skip watching the film, wait for the dvd release, and read the book first. Well needless to say I did not pick the book right there and then because I was already reading something else at that time. As I always say “One book at a time.”



So I finally got the book a week ago, and at that time got a dvd copy of “Marley and Me”. I really did stick to my gun, read the book first and then watch the dvd. Not the other way around. Well there is no doubt a book always give more details then films. So I did. A week of reading was over and today I watched the film with my niece Kate and mama. I already told them well brace yourself this dog on the film is quite familiar. And they did agree. My sister who has a yellow Labrador, Puka is as lively as Marley. My sister is happy because Puka is not that naughty though. But she loves to chew on everything and anything and has a lot of energy as well. I already read the book so I knew how it would end. And yes it was a very sad one. We cried watching that part when Marley have to be put down to sleep. I know everyone cried watching that scene when John was stroking Marley as he slowly drifts away to dog heaven.



I know a lot of us can learn a lot from this story. All of us can relate to it especially people who love their pets especially their dogs. Nothing in this world last forever so cherish every moment while you still have them. But there is something more profound than just a story about a man and his best friend. If you have read the book John wrote;



Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things- a walk on the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap is a shaft of winter sunlight, and as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”

I believe we too need to learn these things in life. Sometimes we complicate life too much and not realizing that JOY is just at our doorstep. Knocking all of the time but we are just too busy to listen to it. Good thing to know that we are reminded through this story, through a dog named Marley.

This is to all the Marleys and Johns.


This is to finding simple JOYS in our LIVES.


M.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

NIGHT-- A Very Powerful Book

There are a lot of books written today and of the past that are fundamentally important. Books written in the name of history. Documenting something important to tell a tale for others to ponder and reflect on. History is not only about dates and locations. It is a story of time gone by where humanity made a difference whether in a good or bad way.

“Night” written by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel was one book that I had been waiting for to read. I admit that I only knew about this book a year ago through Oprah. But this book has already been here for forty years already. I was on my bookstore a year ago trying to look for it and sadly they didn’t have a copy. I even wondered how come a massive bookstore like this wouldn’t have a single copy of one of the most talked about memoir. Yesterday I was back there trying to scan through new books I almost decided on getting a novel but I went to my favorite part of the store, the non-fiction books. And right there and then the book that I have been looking for a year was staring me in the eye.








Night
Elie Wiesel
“A slim volume of terrifying power”
-New York Times




I was very happy to finally get hold of it but more than that it got me more intrigued for this thin memoir has erupted many discussions. Before Elie started the story of Night, he wrote a preface making sure that the reader understands the reason why the memoir is only 100 pages. A hundred pages filled with so much power, indeed so much power.

If you don’t know what this book is all about, it is Elie’s account on his personal experience in Auschwitz through the worst time of history, the Holocaust. The book though edited already is still RAW. Site this:



“Didn’t you know what was in store for you here in Auschwitz? You didn’t know? In1944? "
True. We didn’t know. Nobody told us. He (SS man) couldn’t believe his ears.
"Over there. Do you see the chimney over there? Do you see it? And the flames, do you see them? (Yes, we saw the flames.) Over there, that’s where they will take you. Over there will be your grave. You still don’t understand it? You sons of bitches. Don’t you understand anything? You will be burned! Burned to a cinder. Turned into ashes."



I have always been keen on stories behind the holocaust, but in truth I now realized that written words are not sufficient alone to give justice to what these people have gone through during those horrifying time. Films which try to give us a picture of what happened then will never be able to fathom the totality of the horror that happened. We will never be able to feel what they felt. Men reduced to animals, deprived of everything in this world yet still tried to exist. The pain and the lost they had to go through are unspeakable. Maybe the word LOST will never give justice to what they really felt. Only they know.

I invite anyone who reads this blog to at least in your own way remember the lives lost in the holocaust, read a book or watch a film. It is one way for us to know what history has written and to make sure that it will never happen again. For it is still happening today. History taught us how genocide takes away everything from a human being. And it is onto us to make sure that this will NEVER happen again.

I end this blog with this quote from the book.



Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under the silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.
Never.

Night
-Elie Wiesel



M.




NEVER FORGET THE LIVES "LOST" IN AUSCHWITZ, THE HOLOCAUST



Monday, March 9, 2009

MEDIOCRITY AS I SEE IT

Yesterday as I was reading news online I came across this photo.




A photo of vintage inspired Barbie dolls sold in China. I was taken by the photo because first I love vintage, and second because it has been a long time since I saw this type of doll. But yet again there is something more to it that draw me in, something more deep. As you can see in the photo the dolls look like a crowd. They look a like, not one stands out, maybe the one in the center which caught your eye. But that’s about it, nothing in these dolls are interesting enough for me or to anyone to linger. But this photo inspires me to write something. It is something all of us are inclined to do; it is STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD.

I admit that I too want to stand out of the crowd. There is nothing wrong with that, don’t you think? We live in a world where mediocrity gets boring and so people try to be unique in their own little way. We love to make a statement(s) and yes we love to be noticed and stand out from the crowd. But is it really necessary? I wonder.

We say we love to stand out from the crowd but if you notice we still copy other people, mostly influenced by pop culture and use that for us to stand out. Take for example the “EMO” craze that the younger generation has adopted. There is nothing wrong with it, and I have nothing against it as well. But sometimes teens use this pop culture so they can stand out and be noticed in a crowd. But if there are a lot of people being influenced by the EMO mania going on today, then how can you stand out? Acquiring things just to be noticed is something I went through, but I know better now. I know a lot of us can relate to this but sometimes we buy things so that we can get noticed, maybe as simple as a savvy t-shirt to an expensive bag. We try to stand out through things we have and use not realizing that we are still mediocre in a way.

So is it still important for us to stand out in a mediocre crowd? Does it still matter? I am torn in a way because true enough I don’t want to be a mediocre person and yet I don’t want to make it a BIG DEAL. Here is what I have to say. There is nothing wrong of standing out if you are not harming anybody. But if we get so attached to the thought of standing out from the crowd to the point that it defines us and our whole being then it becomes a bit shallow. We have to dig deeper on how we define ourselves. We can still go on this world looking like a mediocre person but bringing so much impact to the world. By then mediocrity fades.

That is what I think.

Highly developed spirits often encounter resistance from mediocre minds.
Albert Einstein.


M.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Three Cups of Tea, A book review

I have finally finished reading “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It is about Greg Mortenson’s inspiring story of how a failure trek to one of the most hostile mountain of the world, Mount Korakoram, brought him to a new path. A path where he conquered something more than climbing a mountain. A path which brought new life to the cold hidden villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan through the warm schools built with the help of Greg Mortenson.



It a very inspiring story of how one man’s quest to climb a mountain, to show respect to his passed away sister only brought him failure of summiting Mount Korakoram. But he found so much more when he got lost in his failed trek and landed on a hidden village of Korphe. His story began in this little village where he witnessed how children would gather in a in an open filled and tried their best to learn using only sticks for writing and mud for paper. This inspired this gentle giant to do more than just conquering the mighty Mount Korakoram.



I really don’t want to give away any details with this book for I do want you to read it as well. But here is what I learned through reading this book. Many of us don’t realize that in a lot of third world countries there are still children who never get educated. This book shows us to what extent children have to strive just for them to learn. Coming from a third world country as well I do know that education is the outmost tool for any poor stricken family to gain something more in life. I am aware that there many Filipino children trek for hours each day just to reach their schools. They are perfect examples of how children and family alike appreciate education. This book is a great inspiration not only to adults but to children as well to value in their education because somewhere in the world someone out there is longing to have his own pencil and paper and very eager to learn.



Aside from this notable message that this book conveys there is more to it than just a story of how Greg built up schools. The reason why it is entitled “Three Cups of Tea” because through taking three cups of tea Greg Mortenson has built not only schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan but he also built very valuable relationships with the people he met while doing his mission. Through these people he had learned something as well, and one important lesson he learned is HAPPINESS. For even though these villagers are poor, their spirits are very rich.



With this I want to share with you my favorite quote from the book;



He (Haji Ali) picked up his dog-eared, grease-spotted Koran and held it before the flames. “Do you see how beautiful this Koran is?” Haji Ali aksed.


“Yes”


“I can’t read it,” he said. “I can’t read anything. This is the greatest sadness in my life. I’ll do anything so the children of my village never have to know this feeling. I’ll pay any price so they have the education they deserve.”


Here was this illiterate man, who’d hardly ever left his little village in Korakoram” Mortenson says. “Yet he was the wisest I’ve ever met”



Please take time to read this book it will give you a lot of things to ponder on, and on how to value life itself.





Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Nelson Mandela




How GREATFUL I am!



M.




The gentle giant, Greg Mortenson totally immersed with the children he dedicates to get educated.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A NEW BOOK, A MUST READ



So I finally finished reading “The Odyssey of Homer”. It really was a good read, and I now understood why this tale has lasted for centuries. I took time in reading the book, though I really told myself that I will finish it in a week, and I sure did. I just realized, after reading Frank Mc Court’s “ Angela’s Ashes”, that I am (somewhat) a fast reader, that is if I really want to. Usually it takes me a month to read a 400 pages book. Within that week I did not read hastily I took my time and savor The Odyssey. It is well translated by Allen Mandelbaum, I must praise him for that. The translation is beautifully written. I really did not realize how enchanting this story is until I read page after page after page. It is more than a story of odyssey it is a story filled with un-relentless perseverance, of destiny, of family, of love, of enchantment. Though I already knew how the story would end I was still very eager to get there. But it was worth the read. I fell proud of myself after reading the book. Why? Because I know in this generation where everyone is more inclined to do something else, I chose to read a story as old as the pyramids of Egypt. Not a lot of people today would know nor appreciate this story so I am privileged in a way to have read it. The Odyssey is a timeless story that I believe everyone should read.




Every time I finish a book, when I had turned the last page I always feel a slight sadness. Do you ever get that feeling? I am always eager to know the end but then when I get there I feel sad, because then again it is time for me to say goodbye to another book. At the same time it gives me the feeling of fulfillment because yet again I have read another interesting story. So today I was very eager to go back to the bookstore and get a new book. Before I go and pick up a new book I always do online research on the current best sellers. Get little excerpts, trying to see what books interests me. I like memoirs and I have been wanting to get this book for a very long time. But the price of it is already equivalent to two books so I just ignored it. That is also why I think twice of getting it. But today it really called out to me. Maybe you will find it funny but yes it did. And once I held it, my hands wouldn’t let go of it. I went straight to the counter and bought it and just ignored the price for once. But I know this is a good one!




The current book that I am reading right now ranked number two in the international best sellers list for non-fiction. This book is based on the inspiring story of a mountaineer turned school builder in Pakistan. The inspiring story of Greg Mortenson written in this book entitled “Three Cups of Tea”.


So let’s start reading………………………….

M.




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