Alys By Kiri Callaghan

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First a disclaimer: I know Kiri, however she does not know that I am writing this review. Knowing Kiri I also know that she would want my honest opinion, and not some fluff that I were to write just to make her happy.

Many people who will read this book will see the Alice in Wonderland\Midsummer Night’s Dream theme in it. I loved all of the Shakespeare references in this book, they tied in very well with the world that had been built to tell the story. The blending of the Fae and of the dream world fit seamlessly. Her idea of what the Fae world looks like sounds like somewhere I would want to go for a vacation.

I am not so sure about Terra Mirum, that is the land that Alys goes to where she meets the prince Oswin, Smoke, Robin, and a few others. I would like to know more about the characters of Smoke and Robin, from what little we find out about them, I bet they had a most fascinating life in the Fae. I want to know how Robin met Basir, how Smoke got away from the Fae.

I should talk a bit about Alys and Oswin, but I am not sure that I can without giving away the plot of the book. Oswin comes into his own in this book, but he has more room to grow. Alys seems to be about the age of 19 or 20 when all of this takes place and she overcomes much in this book.

I do have a confession to make – I read Alice in Wonderland and did not like it. I tried to read Through the Looking Glass and managed to get just a few chapters into it but they are not my favorite.  I read Alys in a day and enjoyed it very much. This book has a subtitle that included the word “Chronicles,” that means there will be more. I want them out now so I can read them now.

QUOTES

“When you know where you’re going, you’re almost certain to get there sooner or later. However, when you’re lost, you never know what you’ll find! It could be quite an adventure.”

“Desperation makes fools of us all, my dear.”

 

An Update With a Small Change

Just a few words for an update, yes I am still here. I have hit a reading slump, and to get out of that I have to read a few fun things while I work on getting my next book. I want to read one from Azerbaijan this is proving to be very difficult to find the one that I want to read.  I want to read The Dream of Death by Vagif Sultanly and I am going to have to order it.

What this means at least for me is that I am going to have to read a few books that I have had on my list for a while and read those to get out of this reading funk. I have decided that I will blog about the books that I read to get out of this funk here as well.

The other good news is that I have gotten a new computer so I can start posting photos of the book that I take! I am so excited about being able to do that again. My goal is to have one book finished and blogged about by Wednesday.

Annie John (Antigua and Barbuda)

Annie John written by Jamaica Kincaid had me at the first sentence. I suppose that this book could be called a “coming of age” story. When the book starts Annie John is 10 and on the last pages of the book she is a young adult. This book focuses on the relationship that she has with her mother and is written in a clear and concise language that I found refreshing.  Sure there is more to this book teachers, friendships, stealing if you can call it that. There is the gap of growing up and learning different world views then that of a parent.

I did not learn a lot of the history of the Island however, I did get to read a bit about the conflict of old and new. One parent believed in modern medicine the other in the Obeah women. I do believe that some healing is spiritual I know it will not get rid of a cold or help appendicitis, however I do know that for some stresses the peace that a person gets from the routine of a religious ceremony can help.

QUOTES

“For a short while during the year I was ten, I thought only people I did not know died.”

“After reading a book, whether I liked it or not, I couldn’t bear to part with it.”

“My unhappiness was something deep inside me when I closed my eyes I could even see it.”

Factory of Tears (Belarus)

I will admit that this book breaks my self imposed rules, this is not a work of fiction or a memoir. This is a book of poetry. Factory of Tears is written by Valzhyna Mort, I just love her name.

This is a book where the English translation is on the facing page of the Belarusian. I loved this, as I love seeing how one language compares to English, and Belarusian is biased on Cyrillic it is beautiful.

One of the things that I read over and over about the author is that while her written poetry is amazing, her spoken word is even better. I am one who always thought that poetry should be read aloud with the tones, and inflections that the author hears in their voice when writing.

This slim volume covers many subjects marriage, music, books, and family just to name a few. The poem titled “In memory of a book” was my absolute favorite. The last poem is where the book gets its title, the poem is called Factory of Tears, and it speaks of crying until there are callouses on the eyes. It struck me as sad, and yet hopeful.

QUOTES

” And light up the candles of our TV sets” for A.B

“This isn’t how you glue a broken cup” marriage

“Everything belongs to me but hope” Music of Locusts

The Fledgling (Bahama)

OMG, this was such a cute little book. I do not know why more people don’t have it on their radar to read. I do know that it is hard to find, but with inter library loans it should not be that hard.

The Fledgling by Chester Thompson, tells the story of a boy who spends his early years on an island without power, telephones, or any other modern continence. The book starts out with his birth, and continues until he leaves the Island for a new life.

The town that he lived in was called Hope Town, and he ran all over it like a boy should. After a few years he went to live with an aunt and uncle, and the way it was described I thought he was being sent off the island, not just a half a mile away. It was his aunt that created his love for books, but she did it with out knowing. Her first husband was a teacher, and for punishment he was locked in a closet, with all of the books. While she thought he was being punished he was exploring new worlds.

Living on the sea there was death in the book. However, I am one who thinks that we need to face and openly talk about death and not hide it. I found this to be very refreshing. One thing that he did tell about in the book was they time he and a friend decided to become thieves. They were going to steal watermelons from a farmer. I wont tell you what happened but it did have me chuckling.

QUOTE

“Remember, there is an advantage in every disadvantage, if you look for it.” he said.

First They Killed My Father (Cambodia)

In a few of the books that I have read on this journey, I have found that some of the authors are writing about a time that I have lived in. One book was in the 1980’s, and much of what was written had a similar feel to it as my childhood. Not so this book, First They Killed My Father was written by Loung Ung.

As I read this book I realized that the author and I are the same age, she is just 2 months older then I am , the vast difference in our childhood shook me. I am not naïve enough to think that war does not effect children. I have just read something that for a twist of fate could have been the life of my family. When she was nine she was fighting for survival, I was watching cartoons. She was trying to keep her family alive, I was trying to learn multiplication. As I read this book I could not make up my mind if I would have survived the Khmer Rouge like she did, or if I would have been one who would have been lost in the forests.

Loung Ung was 5 years old when she had to leave her home and fight to survive in the villages, and work camps. She was trained to be a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings went to labor camps, and it was not until the regime fell that she was reunited with what remained of her family.

After I read this book I looked up Loung Ung to see what had happened to her. This is the first book about her life, and I did find out that she went on to become a spokesperson for Campaign for a Landmine Free World. This book is being adapted into a Netflix movie coming in 2017. I for one will try to watch the movie, but I do not know if I will be able to. For some reason I really related to her story, even though it was not my life, it was not something that I had to live through.

QUOTES (because of the way this book affected me and how close we are in age, I am putting they year that she had written theses quotes under.)

“Still, it is hard to think of anything else. Hunger eats at my sanity.” (1975)

“To hope is to let pieces of myself die.” (1976)

“I live with forty others, but I am so alone in this world.” (1977)

 

 

Soul Mountain (China)

Gao Xingjian, the author of Soul Mountain won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000. I finished reading this book months ago, but my book club heard me talking about it and they chose that as a book to read. I did not blog about this as I wanted to get others reactions to the book. This is a book that is a BIG book, it is over 500 pages and not a light read for after work. You have to sit down, concentrate and read it. No distractions, no “help” from small children or pets. This is one book that took time to write and it needs time to be read.

This book is a non-linear look into the life of one man. He jumps from topic to conversation to story to history to religion. For me as a logical linear person I had a hard time following it. I also had chapters that were my favorites and ones that I just slogged through.

The ones that I liked and enjoyed the most were the ones that focused on the history, myths, and stories of China. We here in the western world are taught little about the history of China, and it was just a small tiny glimpse in a country that is one of the oldest in the world. I do mean a tiny one. How can someone put 2000 years of history into 500 pages, can’t do it.

Then there were the more modern chapters were he was traveling, looking for an  untouched wilderness. That was a bit like being lost, and looking for a found place that no longer exists. It was sad to read the descriptions of the forests that are being destroyed. The lakes, and rivers that are drying up.

The third part of the book was the one that got the most discussion at the book club. It was about He and She. Most of us agreed that she was his feminine side, the one that men are taught to hide.

There are two things about this book that has stuck with me and both show my ignorance. One is that there are many different dialects in China, I do not know why I have never thought of this. I mean we have all kinds of accents in American, and there are some I can’t understand. The other is not religion I kind of know about Dao, and I kind of know about Buddha, but  what I did not realize was that each town had its own little gods.

QUOTES

“Today you can’t know what traumas tomorrow will bring.”

“Of course no-one will listen to an old man like me, but when people assault nature like this nature inevitably takes revenge.”

“People’s relationships with one another are really frightening.”

“Such is the stupidity of human beings.”

“When you think about it, life in fact doesn’t have what may be called ultimate goals.”

“History is ghosts banging on walls.”

“The true traveler is without goal, it is the absence of goals which creates the ultimate traveler.”

Assignment in Andorra (Andorra)

Assignment in Andorra was published in 1973. This is a book that I did not finish, I did not want to after about 70 pages. The should have been a mystery, and I was looking forward to that. However, the main character a woman named Laurie spent all of her time worrying about her wedding plans, and thinking that all men are gods. I just could not do it.

If any one out there has an idea for a book that is written by a person from Andorra, that is translated in English please let me know.

Oh Gad! (Antigua)

I read this so long ago that I had to do a refresher on the book. Oh Gad! by Joanne Hillhouse is a book about discovering who you are, and who your family is. This book covers misconceptions of who a person is and who we see them as.

It is not a book where it is all happy and better at the end, life is not a sit-com and this book shows that. There are real raw feelings present in here, and at times I wondered if some of the situations could have been avoided with better communication skills.

The protagonist Nikki made some choices that, at the time she made them, I could see that they were going to be bad choices. If this character were a real person, I would say this is how people grow, and learn not to make the same mistakes.

One thing I love about reading around the world is that I have to Google things. For this book I Googled something called a coal pot. They are very cool looking, and the author describes how they are made, and how the people who make them by hand are slowly being phased out as modern stoves come to the island.

QUOTES

“If you’d delude, yourself, you’d delude anyone.”

Tour de Armenia (Armenia)

This book for me was great on two points. First it was a wonderful read, second I to cycle. That means that when I found out about this book I had to read it. Tour de Armenia was written by Raffi Youredjin, and it was fun to read. The other thing this book had me to do was google a lot of things. I did have to google things, most often public works of art, that turn out to be amazing. It makes me want to go and see them, to find them, and photograph them.

From what the author said in this book, most of the people that he encountered thought that he was crazy for bicycling across Armenia. It sounded like he had so much fun and such an adventure. He went to unexpected parties, found friends in strange places.

The one bad thing about reading books like this is that I am left with questions. One from this book in particular. What happened to Manoug? I would love to know if this young man is doing well, if he is still riding a bike. I know that it is not possible to know the story of every person in the world, but I would love to know more about how he is doing.

QUOTES

“Planes, trains, and cars  move to quickly, and it becomes easy to miss to much along the way. I’ve found it is better to earn your destinations.”

“I calmed him down and said, ‘Don’t worry, God loves bicycles.'”

“A toy or a sweet is inconsequential. It’s your time and positive influence you have on someone that makes a difference in people lives.”

“Even the most difficult terrain is quickly forgotten on a nice down hill ride.”