Saturday, April 1, 2017

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

My verdict: 3.5

Glennon blogs on and her brutally honest accounts of her life brought her popularity, then of course, a book deal.

Glennon doesn't give two hoots about what others think. She isn't afraid to tell the world she was an alcoholic, a drug addict and a bulimic. And when she finally got rid of all those toxins in her life and embraced her new-found self, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. At one point in her life she even got an abortion. Then she decided to adopt but her adoption plan fell through due to her background. So she adopted a highway instead (Yup!).

She also wrote of friends, family and strangers who came to her aid when she needed it and/or supported her decisions, impetuous or not. She's very fortunate to be surrounded by people who love her as she is.

What makes her stories stand out, to me, is definitely her honesty, almost too honest to be true sometimes. And the fact that she bares her ugly, crazy, messy life out for all to read, is just plain bravery. And the world thanked her for that. Because of her bravery, she gave hope. Because of her kindness, she shed light.

Overall it's a pretty good read with some inspiring messages throughout. She can be pretty funny, taking the mickey out of Chaos here and there. But at times I'm not sure if every detail in her story is true or she's just spicing it up for the sake of readership. Like asking a 3 yo to write down what's she feeling. I don't know any 3 yo who can write. Or when she asked her son to look a bully in the eye. Really? What if the bully ended up hitting him? He's lucky he got off the hook so easily. Just my thoughts.

What I got out of this book 
Live life with openness and honesty. Openness to embrace the challenges and changes that Life offers. Make whatever you want out of the lemons Life throws you. 

Be honest and true to yourself. Tune out the noise, tune in to your voice. The voice that tells you right from wrong. The voice that only you know is YOU. Just do what gives you joy and peace, because no matter what you do, people are going to judge anyway.

In times of crisis, sift. "...the Greek root of the word crisis is 'to sift', as in to shake out the excesses and leave only what's important." Eliminate the unwanted, keep what matters.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Flight: A Novel by Sherman Alexie

Title: Flight: A Novel 
Author: Sherman Alexie
My verdict: 5 stars
Highly recommended!

Ever wondered what's it like to really walk in the shoes of others? In this book, Zits (an angry, lonely, 15 year-old half Native American, half Irish orphan), did. Influenced by his new-found friend, whose name is, coincidentally, JusTice, Zits set out to rob a bank, with the intention to hurt and kill, to pay back for all the pain and disappointment the society put him through. This incident literally changed his life. 

As soon as he pulled the trigger at the bank, he went on an unexpected time-traveling journey. He walked in the shoes of an FBI agent during the civil rights movement, a mute Indian boy during the Battle of Little Bighorn, an Indian tracker, an airplane pilot. 

This journey, while baffled him at times, also allowed him to find himself; to see and experience the love and kindness, hate and anger, and the choices made and what became of them, at the same time battling with his own thoughts and emotions. Did they make the right choices? What would he do if he were the one having to make those choices?  

My thoughts
I felt Zits' angst, sadness and confusion all at the same time. I find his journey of discovery, of God showing him there's hope, there's love, there's kindness amidst all these chaos in the world, was so surreal that he somehow came to terms with his life. He surrendered to the fact that he needed help; that he can't continue to find love with hate, that he'll keep hurting if he hurts, that he is what he makes of himself. 

The story has a beautiful ending. A powerful one I must say. I cried a pool of tears. I sobbed. And sobbed. 

Mr Alexis writes so simply yet beautifully, with so few words that pack a punch. Looking forward to reading more of his books!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Title: The Phantom Tollbooth
Author/Illustrator: Norton Juster/Jules Feiffer
ISBN: 978-0-375-86903-7

In a nutshell
The Phantom Tollbooth is about a boy who was bored with life. 'When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going.' Everything, to 10-year-old Milo was dull and 'a waste of time' as he 'can't see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February,' until one day he noticed something peculiar in his room - an enormous package, the biggest he had ever seen, and on it a bright-blue envelope that said "FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME."

It was a purple turnpike tollbooth - the start to Milo's amusing, eye-opening, life-changing adventures. With a destination he picked from the map he was given and the electric automobile from his bedroom, Milo set off to an unknown land, joined by a watchdog named Tock (who has a large ticking clock on his body. Literally a watchdog lol) and a bug named Humbug.

What I liked/enjoyed: 
I really enjoyed the author's knack for words which he displayed in so many ways.

Funny but true facts
Milo was first introduced to Humbug in Market Place in Dictionopolis. Humbug's introduction was this: "We're an old and noble family, honorable to the core. Why, we fought in the crusades with Richard the Lion Heart, crossed the Atlantic with Columbus, blazed trails with the pioneers, and today many members of the family hold prominent government positions throughout the world. History is full of Humbugs." Is that funny or what! :D

Wonder of Words
After arriving in Dictionopolis, Milo and his friends were asked what they wanted for dinner, they said 'a light meal' and out came platters of bright-colored lights that leapt from the plates and bounced around the ceiling! What a sight!

He also caused quite a ruckus at Market Place which caught Short Shrift's attention, who decided to give him a sentence. He asked Milo if he preferred a long or short sentence. Milo picked the obvious. The Short Shrift (who was now in his 'judge' robe, because only a judge can give a sentence) said, "How about 'I am'? That's the shortest sentence I know." LOL

Life lessons
In the Island of Conclusions, Milo wondered out loud how they got here, to which he was told, "You jumped, of course." And that "every time you decide something without having good reason, you jump to Conclusions whether you like it or not." Mind you, that island ain't pretty and getting back to where you came from "is not so easy." How's that for jumping to conclusions!

I like this life lesson the best:
"...but if we'd told you then (the quest of saving Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason), you might not have gone - and as you've discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible," for 'impossible' can be derived from the words, I'm Possible.

If life takes a different turn, embrace it! “Things which are equally bad and also equally good. Try to look at the bright side of things.” And it's okay to make mistakes along the way, for mistakes learned are experiences earned.

This is such a great book for the young and young at heart. It is fun, funny and witty. It's great entertainment and life lessons packed into one book.

I'm definitely getting a copy of this book for myself ;D

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Title/Author:  The Complete Persepolis/Marjane Satrapi
Publisher: Pantheon 
Pages: 341
ISBN: 978-0-375-71483-2 

My verdict: 4/5

In a nutshell
Persepolis (Persia in Greek) is about the author's life growing up as a child in Iran in the 1970s. Her memoir started from the time when she was 10, living and surviving a troubling time in her country. The Islamic Revolution took place and all females were required to wear veils, a far cry from what she was used to, being educated at a French non-religious school, which was later divided into schools for boys and girls. Jewelry weren't allowed, women must be covered from head to toe, no Western music and so forth. 

Being the only child of outspoken revolutionaries, strict rules like these don't sit well with Marjane. Her rebellious and outspoken nature always put her in danger. She was then sent to live in Austria, hoping there, she could live freely. As it turned out, living there had its humps and bumps too. She found friends, lost some, met a few mr rights, became a drug dealer, a druggie, a waitress, and at times getting herself tangled in challenging situations, even to the point of losing a place to stay. Almost as though God heard her cry for help, she received a call from her parents asking her if she wanted to return home. She knew she must and wanted to desperately.

Home wasn't all that rosy either after spending all those years abroad. She carried so much guilt in her, in that she did nothing in Austria that could make her parents. She became depressed. She attempted suicide and when it failed she decided to take charge of her life. She confronted her fears by staying true to herself which earned her respect from friends who thought alike. She also found what she thought true love at 21, and got married. But things took a different turn, leading to leave for France at 24.

What I enjoyed
I didn't think I'd enjoy a graphic novel this much. Maybe because Marjane had had an interesting childhood. Yes indeed her book is dark, raw and real, at times violent and vulgar, but it is also funny and entertaining. Sealing these elements while making this a thought-provoking read (it makes one question authority, class structures, rules, racism, gender) is a challenge but Marjane succeeded at it. It's a little like watching a Quentin Tarantino's movie (only much less violent and bloody), which combined humor and violence. 

I like how she used humor in her drawings and in bringing her message across. I'm thinking either because she's a funny person or she wanted to use humor to discuss a serious issue, a technique which I find most standup comedians use a lot. 'Every situation offered an opportunity for laughs...' she mentioned in her book. 

My favorite characters are definitely the dad and grandma. When she was young, they encouraged her curious nature, they allowed her to be in the company of adults and 'participate' in their discussions, giving her a deeper and wider perspective of what's going on in their country. I love Marjane too. She's not afraid to be herself and to stand up for her rights. Her rebellious nature gave her a voice, and drew birds of the same feather to her when she was studying overseas.

This is my very first graphic novel and I enjoyed it. It's educational (to me at least) as it is entertaining. Reading it made me realize once again the importance of knowledge and education. Living in ignorance can make one vulnerable to being manipulated by those in power. 

I do wonder though, if the book will have the same effect if it were written without the graphics...

Book Bite
It's a banned in Chicago Public Schools. I still don't get why they banned this book because it contains "graphic language and images." This reason is so laughable. Kids these days can access 'graphic language and images' anywhere on the Internet. This book is such a great source for teachers to encourage discussion; kids can be taught critical thinking, making sound judgments and most importantly, be in the know. 


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