Friday, October 12, 2012

Poems of William Shakespeare

After hearing a lot about William Shakespeare and his works that were supposedly literary masterpieces, so I decided to form my own opinion of his poems. Thus, I am able to confirm that William Shakespeare is undoubtedly a literary artist, his pieces so impeccable that I could barely tear myself from them. The poems I have read include "Over Hill, Over Dale," "All the World's a Stage," "Blow, Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind," "Some Say that Ever 'Gainst That Season Comes," "To Be or Not to Be," "Oh My Offence is Rank,"  "How All Occasions Do Inform Against Me," "One More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends,"  "Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks!"  and "The Merciless Macdonwald." These poems are all found in Shakespeare plays and this provoked my fascination as I enjoy theatre. Admittedly, the Old English found in these poems confused me and I had to self-monitor in order to maintain my grasp on understanding of the poems. However, I managed to form a basic understanding of each piece through inferring and the use of my prior knowledge to find definitions for the words I had not previously encountered.

I would like to comment on the fact that that almost none of these pieces contain topics that are highly inappropriate yet they are highly enjoyable. The language is crafted beautifully in a way that is foreign to typical modern society, yet ingenious and packed with assisting language features. One of the most frequent parts of speech used in these poems is the metaphor; I have enjoyed inferring the meanings of phrases such as "My thoughts be bloody" and "villainies of nature."

Another wonderful aspect of the poems I have read is that not one is a repetition of another; they are each unique with their own meanings. Many are very philosophical, such as "All the World's a Stage," and I would recommend all these poems to anyone who enjoys contemplation - or simply nice poems.
As You Like It - All the World's a Stage

This Shakespeare poem is very thought-provoking. It presents life from a different view: a stage where each human is an actor with a role to play. Shakespeare outlines here that several "actors" have to adopt many roles throughout their lives - examples including infant, schoolboy and soldier. I have identified several metaphors in the poem through self-monitoring and have noticed that these metaphors create a philosophical literary "atmosphere" for the piece. I was able to visualise the happenings of the poem as they were so intricately described with the frequent use of adjectives. This poem is very innocent yet quite different from Shakespeare's other poems, causing me to look forward to reading more Shakespeare poems.
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Over Hill, Over Dale

I have now read the poem "Over Hill, Over Dale" from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I have found Shakespeare's ability to rhyme so accurately remarkable and have enlarged my vocabulary greatly while reading this piece. I have also developed a fascination for Old English (which is used within the poem) and intend to study how it has evolved to the English that the larger part of society uses today. This poem displays the artistic talent of the poet and is so innocent that it is suitable for all ages, although one would want to be capable of fully comprehending the poem - an ability that may be obtained at a certain age.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Sister's Keeper
Never has a book triggered so much emotion from me the way Jodi Picoult's beautiful novel, "My Sister's Keeper," did. I must admit, upon starting the book I could not decide whether I liked it or not but as I continued to turn the pages, the beauty in the plot became visible and in the last few action-packed pages that simply brought me to tears, I made up my mind that "My Sister's Keeper" is painfully amazing.

I mentioned in my previous blog post that many books have some inappropriate and unnecessary aspects. This is the place in which "My Sister's Keeper's" single flaw lies. There were some features that disgusted me, but I must say that these were almost made up for in the never-declining language quality and the ingenious concepts explored in the main (and appropriate) plot. The basic story features the Fitzgerald family - Sara, Brian, Jesse, Kate and Anna. When Kate is two, she is diagnosed with leukemia and it soon becomes clear to Sara and Brian, her parents, that she will need a donor who will be willing to donate several organs to Kate in order to keep her alive; thus Anna is born. When Anna is thirteen, she files a lawsuit against her parents after it is discovered that she is required to donate a kidney to Kate. Through the course of this case, Kate's entire record of suffering is exposed, along with the neglect the other Fitzgerald children have had to endure as a result of Kate's illness. The story is gripping from beginning to end and the reader stumbles upon a major twist towards the end.

Even after completing the novel I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, contemplating its concepts. Is it fair for a child to be born for the sole purpose of saving another? How do people like Sara and Brian bear the fear and pain that constantly plagues them? I strongly recommend this novel to those who can manage the release of their emotional baggage - it is thoroughly enjoyable.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Nineteen Minutes and typical Young Adult Fiction - Discussion
The first page of Jodi Picoult's novel, "Nineteen Minutes," told me a lot about the novel. It contains a captivating introduction to the plot, listing multiple activities one could complete in the space of nineteen minutes. The writing quality is more than satisfactory and I was excited by the novel's impeccable first impression. I am pleased to be able to say that these wonderful features continued throughout the book and that I did enjoy this piece of literature, but there was an aspect of it that I feel a desperate need to discuss.

I found "Nineteen Minutes" in the Young Adult Fiction area of my local bookstore. The bookstore had specified an age range which I fit into. The exterior of the novel gave no indication or warning of any inappropriate contents the novel may have borne, so I felt quite secure when I made my purchase. Alas, as I traveled through the book I encountered profanity after profanity and frequent references to topics that were so inappropriate that my mother nearly terminated my journey through this novel. The most terrible thing, though, is that these features are such that the plot could be just as thrilling without them. The majority of these features are highly irrelevant to the plot of "Nineteen Minutes" and those with a touch of relevance could have been replaced with alternatives which bore the same effect. Now, this is not just to raise an issue that I have found in one novel, but without exaggeration every novel I have read over the last two or three months. "Freax and Rejex," "Noughts and Crosses," "Revolution," "A Gathering Light," "The Supernaturalist" and several other books contain so many inappropriate features with barely any relevance to their plots. When I read all the novels listed above, I dismissed these problems as small mentions which arise in any Young Adult Fiction book, but upon reading Nineteen Minutes (where I found a word I would be deeply ashamed to use every few pages) I began to question this. I have not been allowed to finish the several of the novels in the Young Adult Fiction section of any bookstore or library that I have picked up because of ridiculous contents I have found within their pages. I understand that if a student goes on a shooting rampage in their school like in "Nineteen Minutes," a few curses may be uttered, but not so many that the reader of the novel would be ashamed of their reading choice.

 I have begun to wonder why authors place such things into their masterpieces. I'm sure it can't be a marketing technique, but what else could it be? My mother has suggested that I try the books one age range down but I have, quite frankly, grown out of them. In this blog post, I have shared my opinion of inappropriate contents within the vast majority of Young Adult Fiction novels that I have read. I would appreciate comments on this post as it would be interesting to view this issue from a different angle.

Thank you.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Supernaturalist 
Fellow readers, prepare to consider me an outlaw, for I have allowed an obstacle to block the path of my reading this week. :) Yes, I did have a bit more homework than usual over the last week, however I have nearly finished reading "The Supernaturalist." I hope that you will forgive my failure to finish the novel during the week.

I discovered a few things about "The Supernaturalist" when I did sit down to read it - the first being that I was reading a novel that was composed simply of basic features of the English language. The structures of several paragraphs reminded me of a those within my Social Studies book - topic sentence, explanation, example, tie-back sentence. This structure is helpful and enhancing when used in Social Studies paragraphs, however when used in a fictional novel, the plot tends to melt into pure monotony. 

The pace of the novel changes rapidly and often fails to suit the event being described.. I've found that the author tends to dwell on everyday happenings that have a low level of relevance to the plot, yet when key events occur, he simply rushes through them, making them unclear. 

The novel is written from a third person omniscient which I sometimes think is too insightful. If the fact that the book was written from an omniscient was eliminated, the author could have seized the opportunity to exercise the technique "show-not-tell," which I am certain would have made the novel far more exciting and pleasant to read.

Despite all of this seemingly endless pontificating, however, I have heard several praises for other novels by Eoin Colfer and this has encouraged me to continue reading "The Superaturalist." Who knows what the rest may hold?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Supernaturalist
I have decided to complete my challenge of reading dystopian novels before I continue to read "The Deep," however I will undoubtedly be carrying on with it as soon as possible. In the meantime, I have just begun an extremely engrossing novel: "The Supernaturalist" by Eoin Colfer. Presenting the somewhat sad future scene of a city that is completely reliant on a single satellite, the first fifty pages of the novel have introduced me to Cosmo Hill, a fourteen-year old boy who, unlike most other residents of Satellite City, has no sponsor. Within satellite city, sponsorship is the only thing that allows one to trace their biological parents, thus the story initiates with Cosmo desperately hoping for an opportunity to escape from the walls of his cruel orphanage.

The problem in the plot is yet to unfold, however I am holding high hopes for an interesting read. The vocabulary involved is advanced yet understandable, although I am prepared for the book's high levels to decline as I have read so many books which follow this pattern. I am trying, however, to avoid holding prejudices which could affect my enjoyment of the novel as I continue to read.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Maddian's Fantasia - Final Post
I concluded my reading experience of "Maddigan's Fantasia" a little while ago for multiple reasons. Perhaps it was just my reading speed, but the pace of the book appeared to decline quite severely. This could just be a representation of an awful patience span, however I did not think I was enjoying the novel. Now, someone with a longer patience span probably would enjoy the book but I didn't really experience much emotion as the plot seemed to be failing to unfold. On the contrary, I was more than satisfied with the book's language quality and with a faster pace in the plot I'm sure the novel would be fantastic. I am going to recommend "Maddigan's Fantasia," as the complaint about pace I have made was formed from my own perception and the story of Garland and her interesting new-found friends in "Maddigan's Fantasia" may be very appealing to some. I think that anyone from the ages ten and up should at least start the novel. Let me know if you like it!
The Deep - Post One
I have now begun reading "The Deep" by Helen Dunmore, the sequel to "Ingo," which I read a few years ago. Upon returning to the series I have had to refresh my memory but now can grasp the book's basic concepts.
The story follows Sapphire, whose dad has recently disappeared at sea. Sapphire is aware of her connection to the water and the land within - Ingo.
In this novel, Sapphire has recently moved house and is struggling to settle in while trying to control her "addiction" to Ingo. I am enjoying the first few pages but have not decided on my opinion of the language quality. Some seems quite well-written, some is a bit different from what I am used to. However, I am enjoying Ingo at the moment and can't wait to read more!
Freax and Rejex
I'm really not too sure if "Dancing Jax" and "Freax and Rejex" are Dystopian fiction, but several features of the text do suggest this. Dancing Jax, the first book in the thrilling trilogy, tells the story of a sinister children's book which has an odd power - it possesses almost anyone who reads it, diverting their minds to a different world where they become a different character.

I have just finished reading "Freax and Rejex" and I am yearning for more of Robin Jarvs' artistic works. "Freax and Rejex" tells the story of those who can resist the book, the "aberrants." Several miserable children are torn from their possessed families and thrown into a kind of concentration camp designed for the torture and exploitation of the aberrants. Told from an Omniscient, the reader is placed in the shoes of the main aberrants and experiences the aberrant camp with the characters.

At first I was a little bored by "Freax and Rejex," but with every turn of the page, grew to like it more. Horrific twists and surprises fill the middle and final pages, keeping the reader glued to the novel. Certain points brought tears to my eyes, others simply made me grimace in shock.

I would recommend "Freax and Rejex" to anyone of the ages of fourteen and up. I did enjoy this novel but stumbled on the occasional "mature" topic. Despite this, "Freax and Rejex" is an amazing sequel to "Dancing Jax" and I can't wait to finish the trilogy with "Fighting Pax" - coming out next year!
Juno of Taris - Review

"Juno of Taris," by the New Zealand author "Fleur Beale," is a poignant piece of Dystopian Fiction which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Although in the modern world, the adjective "poignant" is commonly associated with sad material filled with long, draining sentences with predictable and typically sentimental meanings, I wish to make it clear that the content of "Juno of Taris" does not fit this stereotype. With messages regarding family, religion and culture, I would recommend this novel to readers of the ages of thirteen and up.

"Juno of Taris" tells the first-person recount of Juno, who lives on Taris - an island with a dome over it, supposedly created hundreds of years before the time of the novel and designed to survive any disaster, anything that may wipe out the civilisation outside the walls of Taris. Juno is descended from a line of Tarians and is constantly questioning the odd rituals which occur. Controversy is always sparked when Juno refuses to shave her head like all the others or does anything that would be considered "improper" on Taris.

Juno's inquisitive nature, though, opens the door to many shocking secrets regarding the island and its history.     Horrible things are exposed and Juno's life is changed eternally.

This impressive novel by Fleur Beale is a fantastic page-tuner which fans of Dystopian Fictions will have extreme difficulty putting down. Followed by two other gripping novels, "Juno of Taris" is definitely a great read.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Revolution" - Review
I am interrupting my series of posts on "Maddigan's Fantasia" to express the enjoyment I experienced in the holidays while reading Jennifer Donnelly's novel, "Revolution."

"Revolution" gives a first-person insight into the life of eighteen-year-old Andi, who is struggling to cope with the sadness induced by the loss of her younger brother in a road accident. Driven to the brink of depression while trying to keep her heartbroken mother sane and get along with her father (whose only love in the world appears to be his work), Andi can only seek support in music. Despite her difficulty in maintaining her mother's presence in reality,  Andi is furious when her father checks her into a psychiatry hospital and insists that she accompany him to Paris where he is performing tests to determine the identity of a certain human heart which is said to have belonged to a prince living during the French Revolution. However, her refusals and complaints fall upon deaf ears and she is forced to relent. While in Paris, Andi discovers and ancient diary telling the story of a girl who lived during the French Revolution and who also lost someone she loved...

Andi and the girl are united despite living centuries apart in this poignant novel and as a reader, I clearly experienced Andi's pain as my own as a result of Donnelly's ingenious writing techniques. The book does contain some adult topics which nearly caused me to stop reading at certain points and may be considered to have an atmosphere that is simply too melancholy to appeal to many readers. Regardless of this, I thoroughly enjoyed "Revolution" and would recommend it to any avid readers from the ages of fourteen and up.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maddigan's Fantasia - Post Three
Today, I ventured a little further through the pages of "Maddigan's Fantasia" and was surprised by what I found. The part I read today described a change in the heroine's emotional state. This event appeared to provoke the occurrence of a spontaneous change in Margaret Mahy's writing style. This change somewhat altered the atmosphere within the book and if I am to be honest, I think it slightly stagnated the flow of the story. It momentarily occurred to me that the new style of writing might develop into one that was less collected and possibly abusive of grammatical rules - I have encountered this in numerous other novels - but as I read on this prospect became relatively unlikely and now I have almost ruled it out completely. The quality of the writing is not poor, but I found it a little repetitive and, if I am to be harsh, a bit inferior. On a more positive note, this has not entirely marred my enjoyment of "Maddigan's Fantasia" and currently bear no intention of concluding my reading experience. I still look forward to reading more.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Maddigan's Fantasia - Post Two

Admittedly, I have only read two chapters of "Maddigan's Fantasia" between my last post and today's, but those two chapters have been pivotal towards the enjoyment of my reading experience. The recently deceased Margaret Mahy, who is the author of this book, displays unforgettable talent in capturing the emotions of her characters in her words which I am sure were painstakingly chosen and shaped into captivating phrases and sentences. While grieving for her dead father, Garland meets two mysterious boys who claim that they are on a very interesting mission - one involving the use of a very interesting dimension! Garland struggles to trust the boys and their ridiculous-sounding stories, but the majority of the circus crew are happy to accept them as one of the boys is extremely talented in the art of magic.

So far, I have not experienced any difficulty while reading this piece of literature but am preparing myself for a thick plotline which may excersise my inferring, mental paraphrasing and synthesising skills.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Maddigan's Fantasia - Post One

Having only started fifty pages ago, I already love Margaret Mahy's novel, "Maddigan's Fantasia." Set in a fascinating image of the future, the novel illustrates the story of Garland, the twelve-year-old tightrope walker of Maddigan's Fantasia Circus.  I can vaguely see a problem arising to create a plot and can't wait to see where the storyline leads.

This is the stage at which I can see a good opportunity to use a "Guided Reading" skill: Predicting. With the circus having just endured a vicious attack from their enemies, I can see potential for a huge conflict. Also, members of the circus at this stage in the novel are debating moving to a city which is quickly running out of the futuristic form of the energy that powers our societies today. This could cause another huge problem in the book and could create an exciting plotline.  The title, as far as I can see, has not helped my predicting a great deal, but the first couple of chapters definitely have.

I can't wait to keep reading!