Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What I've been reading #13

This picture is of The Book of Life sculpture by artist David Krakov.  It is a metal sculpture.  At first I thought it was a burning book but instead it is 2,547 butterflies coming out of the book.  The pages are words from children survivors of the Chernobyl Disaster on 25 April 1986.  the sculpture is made in honor of Rabbi Yossi Raichik who is credited with saving 2, 547 children in that disaster.

Without knowing that story it could also represent the vibrant ideas and thoughts that come from reading good books.  Books can not only take us places and help us feel things that we never have imagined in life, but can also stimulate our thoughts in such a way to create new things in our minds and lives never imagined by the authors.  Books can have a power almost magical to entertain but also to fuel new and wonderful creations in the minds of the readers.

Now with such a great lead in I'm not sure that the books I have read this time rise too far above the entertainment level but we'll see.

The Retrival Artist by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I read from a favorite author of mine, Orson Scott Card, that these books were really good so I thought I would try one.  I thought this one was the first one written and it is a short novel so I thought it would be an ideal one to start with.  It is NOT the first one but has served me quite well in introducing an interesting character and setting.  The first thing is what is a retrieval artist?  Why naturally it is someone who can find people who don't want to be found.  People who have disappeared.  The unique thing in the story line however is why did they disappear?  In this futuristic setting it is about a time when our world is one of several with life on them.  Humans of that time live on and interact with aliens on several different planets.  Different cultures intermingle despite some different beliefs and often very different ideas of what crime is and appropriate punishments for those crimes.  Often when humans break alien laws it is inadvertent and carries a death penalty.  Consequently quite a business in disappearing has risen with companies helping people to disappear so the aliens can't find them and provide their justice.  Needless to say there are times when those people must be found by other humans and that is what a retrieval artist does.  In essence a detective who finds those who never wish to be found.  This is a very interesting idea that deals head on with the ethical and moral concerns that would exist in this type of setting.  You may enjoy it.  I did!
The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I enjoyed the first one so much that I read this one which is in reality the beginning of the series.  This is a full size novel that reveals the impetus for Miles Flint to become The Retrieval Artist.  Miles is a detective on the moon working for the local police force.  He begins to see things that ethically he cannot support but yet in his duty as a police officer he must enforce.  I am enjoying this series a lot and like how the author is willing to deal with the ethics in a thoughtful way.  Miles wants to help people who find themselves in unfair situations, but he finds that is easier said then done.   

Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn
I decided to follow up those two science fiction novels with a novel of political intrigue.  This novel is Vince Flynn's first novel written several years ago.  And to be honest I hope his books have gotten better.  The book was meant to be an action story that got bogged down in politics.  It started well adn ended well but got lost before finding its way at the end.  Some of the politicians find themselves acting like the worst of their lot.  While the military seems to have most of the honorable people in the story.  Some terrorists are able to take over the White House and just miss nabbing the President who escapes to a vault in basement with his Secret Service staff, that is meant to keep him safe.  How the White House is eventually taken and the terrorists are twarted is the main part of the story.It was just an okay story, lagged in the middle, had stupid profanity in excess but hey, the good guys ended up winning.

Ranger's Apprentice Book 4: The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan
Of course I had to continue the series my youngest daughter recommended to me.  Every time I go back to it after reading some adult books I think it will not be able to keep my interest and carry on the good and honorable lives of Will, Halt, Horace and Evanlyn.  But it always grabs me pretty quickly and I am happy to return to their adventures.  Will and Evanlyn continue their escape from the Skandians while Halt and Horace are traveling a long distance to find them and save them.  They meet up to find themselves in the middle of an invading force coming to conquer the Skandians.  I really like how the author takes the idealistic training of the boys in their apprenticeships and shows how they learn that reality often doesn't conform to what they were taught and so they must learn to implement honor and other values into the real world in ways that they didn't expect.  This series continues to be great, not just for boys who are looking for some action and intrigue but girls who may get a glimpse into a boys heart and mind.  Still good for young and old alike.  Highly recommended.

Something to consider:  “The poor and the affluent are not communicating because they do not have the same words. When we talk of the millions who are culturally deprived, we refer not to those who do not have access to good libraries and bookstores, or to museums and centers for the performing arts, but those deprived of the words with which everything else is built, the words that open doors. Children without words are licked before they start. The legion of the young wordless in urban and rural slums, eight to ten years old, do not know the meaning of hundreds of words which most middle-class people assume to be familiar to much younger children. Most of them have never seen their parents read a book or a magazine, or heard words used in other than rudimentary ways related to physical needs and functions. Thus is cultural fallout caused, the vicious circle of ignorance and poverty reinforced and perpetuated. Children deprived of words become school dropouts; dropouts deprived of hope behave delinquently. Amateur censors blame delinquency on reading immoral books and magazines, when in fact, the inability to read anything is the basic trouble.” Peter S. Jennison

It occurs to me that a person who is able to read and chooses to read material that is harmful or desensitizing risks being not only equally uninformed and without hope as those who can't read.  Thus making many of the same mistakes in living their lives as those who can't read.   

1 comment:

  1. you always find the coolest pictures to use for your book review posts! :) that sculpture looks so neat - and it's even cooler to know the meaning behind it. that series by rusch looks cool! i may have to check that one out. sounds like it poses some very interesting moral dilemmas. it was interesting to me thinking and studying about those in some of my readings/studies with sociology. p.s. also don't forget to read my blog!! ;) love you!


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