Archive for November, 2010

The Two Towers

[openbook booknumber=”0618002235″][rating:5/5]

The Fellowship was scattered. Some were bracing hopelessly for war against the ancient evil of Sauron. Some were contending with the treachery of the wizard Saruman. Only Frodo and Sam were left to take the accursed Ring of Power to be destroyed in Mordor–the dark Kingdom where Sauron was supreme. Their guide was Gollum, deceitful and lust-filled, slave to the corruption of the Ring.

Thus continues the magnificent, bestselling tale of adventure begun in The Fellowship of the Ring, which reaches its soul-stirring climax in The Return of the King.

The second part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers takes up where The Fellowship of the Ring left off. When the trust that was so necessary to the fellowship comes undone so does the fellowship itself. The quest splits off and the first half of the book is instead focused on the fellowship that was left behind and their hunt for those members that were taken by the orcs. Even though you don’t pick up with Frodo and the ring until half way through the book it was still very exciting to hear about the adventures of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, not to mention the remaining hobbits.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 13

[openbook booknumber=”1421511584″][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

In the midst of a heated battled, Ed and Prince Lin of Xing are swallowed whole by homunculus Gluttony. Will they survive the depths of Glutton’s gullet like Jonah in the whale, or has Al lost his brother for good? And the political power structure of the military may be irreparably shattered when Colonel Mustang confronts Fuhrer President King Bradley with his horrifying suspicion that Bradley is a homunculus!

In unlucky volume 13 various characters together or on their own realize that in their arrogance, their hubris, they have done something that has unveiled to them just how unprepared they are and just how far in to really serious trouble they have gotten. The brothers along with the Prince of Xing attempt to capture and take down a homunculus only to seriously underestimate the depth of their power and the extent to which they have already gone to get what they want. Colonel Mustang also attempts to confront the military about the secret he has about King Bradley only to realize that the corruption and power Bradley has brought to bear is far more sinister than he ever could have imagined. And when May and Scar attempt to find her panda it is to discover the root of what feels so wrong with this country as their journey leads them to some horrific discoveries of what truly lies beneath Central.

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Thankfully Reading Weekend

I was really excited to hear about the Thankfully Reading Weekend this year. We are having a very low key and very late Thanksgiving (having it today!) because of work schedules and the fact that half of us are very sick, including myself. I thought I would take the weekend to get caught up on my reviews, and hopefully get some reading in as well.

I am very, very far behind on my reviews and I would like to push as hard as I can to get caught up enough on them to do justice to a year end wrap-up. I have 37 books I need to review. No pressure. A lot of them will require skimming to refresh so I will definitely still be reading thankfully regardless of whether or not I end up only writing reviews this weekend.

So now that I’m properly medicated and have cough drops, tissues and tea at hand, I think it’s time to get cracking on this first review! Hope all my American readers had a very happy thanksgiving, and that everyone has a delightfully low key weekend ahead like I do!

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Is It Really Just a Story?

For a little over half a year I lived, worked and went to school in western Wyoming. It was quite literally the middle of no where. The nearest city with decent shopping, medical facilities, what have you was Salt Lake City in Utah and that was three hours away. While I was there I had my eyes opened to an entirely new and different way of life. I went from a school that was completely racially diverse to a school where 95% of the population was white. I went from a city where I was used to having something to do every weekend to a town where the only thing to do was hang out in someone’s basement or garage. I went from a fairly progressive city to a town where conservatives ruled. I also went from a place of religious diversification to a town strictly christian with a strong Mormon presence.

I learned a lot about Mormons during those few months. Truth be told, I hadn’t even known of their existence before I moved there. I also learned a lot about intolerance, about racism, about religion and about myself. I took all of that to the table with me when I cracked open Twilight nearly a year ago now. Every female in my family under the age of 50 has read this book and some have become huge fans. I am “the reader” in my family. I have gotten a lot of flak for not at least trying to read this book, because they just knew I was going to love it. I did not. Then it became that I just needed to read the series as “it gets better”. It did not. If anything things got worse with New Moon. Now I’m faced with reviewing Eclipse and I am having a difficult time with it.

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The Ear of Corn

The Brother’s Grimm (and their fairy tales) always have a preoccupation with law and order, with strict rules and fierce religious retribution and “The Ear of Corn”, this week’s fairy tale, showcases this extremely well. It is incredibly short so I will just quote the two paragraphs here.

In former times, when God himself still walked the earth, the fruitfulness of the soil was much greater than it is now; then the ears of corn did not bear fifty or sixty, but four or five hundred-fold. Then the corn grew from the bottom to the very top o f the stalk, and according to the length of the stalk was the length of the ear. Men however are so made, that when they are too well off they no longer value the blessings which come from God, but grow indifferent and careless. One day a woman was passing by a corn-field when her little child, who was running beside her, fell into a puddle, and dirtied her frock. On this the mother tore up a handful of the beautiful ears of corn, and cleaned the frock with them.

When the Lord, who just then came by, saw that, he was angry, and said, “Henceforth shall the stalks of corn bear no more ears; men are no longer worthy of heavenly gifts.” The by-standers who heard this, were terrified, and fell on their knees and prayed that he would still leave something on the stalks, even if the people were undeserving of it, for the sake of the innocent birds which would otherwise have to starve. The Lord, who foresaw their suffering, had pity on them, and granted the request. So the ears were left as they now grow.

Certainly a cautionary tale (as so many Grimm tales are) for gratefulness and a warning never to take bounty and plenty for granted. Be thankful, yes, but the subtext is or else.

I couldn’t help thinking of the out cry that came when people first started talking about using Soybeans for fuel. In a time when so many people are suffering from world wide food shortages to take that food and use it to power a car instead of feeding a starving person resulted in an outcry around the world. As Americans our image was already suffering from two unwieldy wars, a poorly spoken president, our flounce from the United Nations. Now this was made all the worse by essentially, well, ripping plentiful food off the stalk and using it to wipe off our dirty frocks.

I’m not against finding alternative forms of fuel, I think oil dependence is something I will see fade out in my generation. I do think that soybeans replacing oil in the millions of cars, planes, boats, trains, and factories in this country is a pipe dream that people just haven’t bothered thinking through to its logical conclusion. Look up how much oil we use, look up how much soybean we would need to use to equate that, then figure out how much of the food, the fields of other food, and so on that “we don’t use” we would have to give up to make that a reality.

Hopefully reality isn’t as cruel as a German fairy tale. Be thankful.