I read Fantasy Life a long time ago when I first discovered Kristin Kathryn Rusch. It is a wonderful book, full of magical creatures and extraordinary people with unusual powers. She begins by introducing us to four generations of women with special powers who are protecting a very unusual sanctuary. While there are magical elements to the book, there is a central mystery that is only revealed at the very end.
The author has a surprising way of weaving the magical creatures into the modern world that is believable and relevent. The central theme of the book: the oil spills that cause havok on the environment, is woven into this fantasy. The book moves between the fantastical and “real” world without seams- and when the two conflict – it is interesting.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Gabriel Hamilton
This is an interesting memoir about cooking and life by Gabriel Hamilton. She begins with her unorthodox childhood. First, her strong memories of her mother and her cooking, then later, after her parents divorced: her own childhood explorations in cooking. Then she takes on an autobiographical trip through all of the cooking she did and finally to Italy, her husband’s home and how her only way of communicating with her mother-in-law is through cooking. Then finally, when she takes over her mother-in-law’s kitchen, she sees the full circle between her mother and her motherhood.
In The Language of Flowers: A Novel, a girl who ages out of the foster care system, finds her family after many years. This is very sweetly written, and actually is surprisingly positive for all the challenges that this group of people face. There is a certain feeling of destiny as the main character falls back into the family she bonded with most strongly. Yet, she is still unable to make a family.
What I found the most surprising was the idea that being a part of a family takes skills, and if these skills are not taught, the next generation won’t have any idea how to make a family.
I love the layering of meaning that the author, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, creates with the flower meanings. She is very kind to her characters, giving them space to find their way, but not making them perfect, just true.
Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Rom
In this book, Peggy Orenstein documents her rocky path to parenthood. Unlike many of us, who had a child by doing less, i.e. stop actively trying to not having a child, her path was much harder because she struggled with a long period of infertility. As a journalist, she is very detailed about the ordeal she went through. She is also very honest about her obsessive feelings during that time, how it nearly ruined her marriage and had health consequences. She talks about how some doctors had slightly dishonest ways of presenting information to her and her husband, and the common difficulties they had with adoption. She also very frankly deals with her own feelings of guilt that she didn’t start the child making process earlier when she was more fertile. It is a wonderful story, very well written and personal.
Waiting for Daisy, Peggy Orenstein, Bloomsbury 2007
I picked up this book out of curiousity. What kind of effect does the “princessification” of girls have on young women? The premise is that uber exposure to princesses through the Disney marketing, girls are harmed. The question is interesting, but like many things in childhood impossible to isolate in the context of the overall environment. While I do agree that our over materialistic society does create some soullessness for all that are in it, this particular problem seems to be a problem in that perhaps these girls are a little spoiled. My Catholic background always brings me back to the axiom that anything in extreme is bad, but a little bit is harmless in most cases. In that way, I see that while my little nieces like to dress up like princesses, one has a wonderful whismical sense of dress, that is her own special thing, and the other is just as likely to have a cowboy hat on. Both of them keep pace with multiple brothers. Balance is the key.
She goes on to say that the indulgence in the princess can create an unbalanced sense of sexuallity in teenagers. This may be a contributing factor, but I think our society’s hypersexuallity may have just as much influence. Again there is the problem of isolation.
Whether I disagree or agree with her premise, the book was interesting and well researched. Peggy Orenstein deals with the issues in a thoughtful and personal way. She studies many facets of this issue from the child pageant, pre-teen online activities to the American girl craze. She looks at the issues from all sides, and is sympathetic to the idea that most parents are just trying their best.
Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein, Harper Collins, 2011
Now, I am not sure if I read to many of her books in a row, but Things I Learned From Knitting: …whether I wanted to or not was not my favorite of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s books that I had read so far. There are a few things that are recycled from the other books (or vice versus). This is a super easy read, but not very much depth.
It has been a while since I reviewed an Orson Scott Card book, mainly because I have read them all and now have to anxiously wait for a new one to come out. I am on the author alert at the library and they sent me an email saying a new novel from him had been released: Earthborn (Homecoming). Now I thought that I had read the whole Homecoming series, but since I couldn’t remember for sure, I got it again. Sure enough I had read it (the library had bought a new addition), but I didn’t remember it fully so I sat down and read it again.
This series is wonderful, but I would recommend reading it from the beginning. The Memory of Earth is the first in this five-part series and by far the most interesting to read. In this future world, humans have left Earth to settle in Harmony and Earth is such a distant memory it is a myth. A powerful computer manipulates the settlers towards its goal: to return to the lost home planet. While as a Christian, I grapple a little bit with his idea of a computer as a semi-god; manipulating lives. However, I love the feminist society that he creates in the first book (unfortunately, this society decays in the next few books, but women remain complex and important characters) . The characters with their special powers are complex and interesting to imagine.
In Earthborn (Homecoming), the original characters are so far in the distant past they have become almost gods. The new cast has some of the same special abilities as the originals yet they deal with the abilities in different ways. However, their issues are not returning to a distant home planet, rather how to get along with the new creatures who have populated Earth, creatures far different from humans. The resulting conflicts resonate with the racism that we still deal with in our world, and with what it really means to be human.