Month: August 2012

The Farthest Shore – Ursula Le Guin

Something is amiss in Earthsea; magic is losing its potency and singers are forgetting the words of the ancient songs. A young prince Arren is sent to Roke Island as a messenger to speak to the Archmage. The Archmage is Ged, known from the two previous books about Earthsea. Ged is now an elderly man with high repute. Together Ged and Arren travel towards to farthest parts of Earthsea and beyond in order to restore balance. Young Arren is the main narrator of “The Farthest Shore”. To begin with he is a spoiled, but humble prince and boy, but his journey is a great one – not only to the farthest islands of Earthsea, but towards maturity as a person through primarily his relationship with Ged. I may be repeating myself from the reviews of the earlier books, but Ursula Le Guin’s forte is the emotional development of the characters. Arren starts out seeing Ged as the Lord Archmage. Through their journey, he sees him as a trickster, as an old man, as strong, weak, …

Three Bookmarks

Here are three bookmarks from my collection as promised. As you can see they are very different. The first one from the left is my own creation age approximately ten. The brown line is a tree branch. I do not know why there had to be a branch, it seems completely misguided. The second bookmark is a detail from “The Lady and the Unicorn”, the famous tapestries on display at the Musée de Moyen-Âge. I celebrated my 21st birthday in Paris and was taken by the magnificence of the tapestries. The third bookmark with the puppy on the books, I just found cute. I bought it while in D.C.

The Tomb of Atuan – Ursula K. Le Guin

The Earthsea Quartet continues with the story of a young girl, who at the age of five, is removed from her family to serve at a religious center, first as a novice and later as Priestess. She is called Arha, the eaten one. Her duty is a difficult one. She has an exulted position but the most dark and malevolent charge as priestess of the Nameless Ones.  The temple she serves is an underground tomb and the rituals include sacrifice of animal blood and prisoners. The tomb holds many secrets and pitfalls, encompassed in a labyrinth and only accessible in darkness. A treasure in the tomb is half of the ring of Erreth-Akbe, which Ged searches for in order to steal.  The priestess and the thief gain a peculiar rapport which evolves to trust. “The Tomb of Atuan” is the story of how Arha is raised in a community and comes to question that community and make independent choices. As in “A Wizard of Earthsea” the detail in Arha’s state of mind is moving and …

A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin

Finding myself absorbed by a novel in the fantasy genre – yes, I’m surprised by that myself, but reading the Earthsea Quartet has released my inner child and given food for afterthought, and I’ve only read “A Wizard of Earthsea” so far. “A Wizard of Earthsea” and the rest of the quartet are written for children 12 years and up in a not too long ago past where children could read and weren’t accustomed to flicking through channels or watching an entire story unfold in 90 minutes tops. Ursula Le Guin’s language and narrative style is the black-on-white equivalent of chocolate chip ice cream. The story is entertaining and complex, making “A Wizard of Earthsea” an excellent read for children and adults alike. Earthsea is an archipelago that encompasses all that is known to man. Its islands are as diverse in geography and the peoples who inhabit them. I like the fact that the water both separates the islands and is what binds the islands together. “A Wizard of Earthsea” is the story of Sparrowhawk’s …

The Book of Tomorrow – Cecelia Ahern

Perhaps my expectations were askew. My thoughts were: a novel by the same author as “P.S. I love you”, which I haven’t read, but only seen the film adaptation. I wasn’t expecting a teen novel. I wouldn’t call it young adult, which in my experience has more drama and more supernatural elements. Tamara Goodwin is one of those annoying kids that come from wealth and take it for granted. At 16 her father commits suicide following bankruptcy and Tamara and her emotionally shut down mother are forced to live with relatives in the Irish countryside. Tamara is anything but happy. In a travelling library, she is drawn to a locked journal, which is the book of tomorrow, and she struggles to find her own identity and unearth the family secrets. This is a novel about the journey into adulthood, about the perils of only living in the now, and about the importance of the past in the definition of self, but Tamara, who is the narrator, got on my nerves. She seems like a snotty …

Bookmarks

A dirty little secret? Hardly, but it isn’t the kind of thing you share when getting acquainted with someone. I have a drawer full of bookmarks. Immediately, images of a bookish hoarder and nerd with glasses and tasseled loafers come to mind – the kind with a geeky laugh, who will swoon over a new title or a bookmark with a special backstory. Nonetheless, here I will openly confess: I have a drawer full of bookmarks! Being an avid reader, you need bookmarks. You don’t dog ear books. And in my opinion, you should choose a specific bookmark for each book you read. I don’t color coordinate, but the style of book and bookmark should complement each other. Bookmarks are wonderful keepsakes. I often buy them as souvenirs when I travel and I was so fortunate to get one from my son on my very first mother’s day. I have free bookmarks picked up at book stores and libraries. I have inexpensive ones with nice pictures. I have treasured ones that are “finds”. Photos will …

The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield

A genre defying book about the perpetual storyteller, Vida Winter and her chosen biographer, Margaret Lea. The starting point of the novel is Margaret Lea receiving a letter from the master storyteller Vida Winter, informing her that Vida Winter will tell her the truth about her life. What follows is a too-good-to-be-true story of wild twins, an old manor house, life and death and madness – about leaving bygones alone and yet being forced to reconsider the same bygones. I loved the clue about the novel’s title. The Thirteenth Tale is a story missing from a collection of tales by Vida Winter. It has an almost mythic presence whenever Vida Winter is mentioned, representing a piece of the past. The two main characters, Vida Winter and Margaret Lea supplement each other. Margaret Lea is born and bred (well, almost) in her father’s antique bookshop. She struggles with a past that she only knows tidbits of, but resents her parents for keeping the truth from her. Vida Winter’s origins remain unknown, but she grew up wild …