Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review: Dune

Summary from GoodreadsSet in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the 'spice' melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.

Published in 1965, it won the Hugo Award in 1966 and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world's best-selling sf novel.

My Thoughts: I love this book. I had read it once in high school and remembered that I loved it, but wanted to see why I remembered I loved it. I am so glad I reread it. This book is the perfect combination of fantasy, sci-fi, politics, philosophy, and religion. I really enjoy reading a book that is detailed. It took me a couple weeks to get through the whole thing, but that is because it is long. And the story is substantial enough to justify the length. I would compare it to The Lord of the Rings in the way an entire world is created.

Each character is complex and has a great story that weaves into the others. Their interactions are wonderfully written to show the variety of relationships that exist in the world. These relationships are the sole reason for all the events of the story. Each character needs to come to grips with their role in the saga, the influences they have against others, and the intricate social-political schemes of the elite. There is so much that I can say about this book (and if you have read it let me know so we can talk) but for now I will just leave you with my 5 out of 5 star rating. Go read it!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hello Denver!

I bought a one way ticket to Denver. And here I am!

Brett had to do a training at the corporate headquarters of his new job for 5 weeks. 5 weeks! We have had quite a roller coaster of a six month time period and already lived apart for a month once in the last three months. So we decided to be a little selfish and get a ticket so I can come too. I was in a phase of not having a job so we figured that I may as well be unemployed in Denver where Brett is. So here I am for a couple weeks. We have had so much fun over the last couple days exploring this new city and can't wait to keep going!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why I Keep a Journal

I received my first journal when I was 8. My grandmother gave it to me when I was baptized with a letter in the front that told me how happy and proud she was of her first grandchild. I took that first journal and loved it. Maybe too much love. Looking at it now, the pages are coming out of the binding, the pages are bleeding through, and the writing is both entertaining and embarrassing. That first journal was only the beginning. Since then, I have filled several. Add into that my spiritual journals filled with promptings and thoughts from my personal study and I have a whole box full.

So why do I continue? I can't seem to stop. Even when I am blogging regularly I still manage to write things down in a book. Here are some of the reasons why I believe in keeping a journal.

Organization of Thoughts
Nothing helps me settle my thoughts and feelings like writing them out. There have been many times when I have not been able to articulate what I think or feel, but when I write it out I am forced to. Sometimes when I have a lot to write I will do it in bullets, but usually I try to write it out in paragraph form. This helps me work through thoughts in a way that makes logical sense. Once I figure it out I can apply that knowledge and move forward.

Personal Reflection and Strength
While there is a certain amount of overlap between this blog and my written journal, my journal is much more personal in nature. My innermost thoughts and feelings get written out. Once I have gotten all my thoughts and feelings out I am able to come to grips with how I feel. There have been many times when I feel more settled after writing it out, even if those feelings are not exactly positive. At later times, I am able to look back on the trials and hard times I have had and the ways I was able to handle the situation and come to peace, I get more strength and know I can do it again. To me there is no better encouragement than seeing my own record of growth and 

Keeping Record for the Future
I love hearing stories of my family and friends. Learning stories about my grandparents and great-grandparents are the best. Learning these stories helps me feel a connection to them. Like how I am named after a great-grandmother who was full of fire and sass, who had the same "mama bear" instinct to fight for her family and friends and testimony of the gospel that I hope to emulate some day. In one of my history classes I spent hours pouring over 40 years worth of diary entries written by a previous Senator. I was completely fascinated and loved learning about this man and his family and friends through his eyes. Then one day I realized that I owed just as much enthusiasm to my own family and ancestors. It didn't make sense for me to know intimate details of a stranger's life, but not my own family. Keeping a true record, full of personal thoughts, testimony, trials, beliefs, and events is what leads to true historical knowledge, not the polished internet lives we tend to put forward.

So what do you think? Is keeping a journal going away with the pervasive nature of social media, or is it a tradition worth continuing? How do you keep track of your personal memories?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Book Review: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Summary from Goodreads: When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

My Thoughts: Anyone who knows me know that I have a soft spot for a retold fairy tale and East of the Sun, West of the Moon has always been a favorite. I blew through this book pretty quickly (one Saturday while Brett was studying for some certification exams) and its simple yet entertaining story did not get boring. The modern day take was an interesting twist, although once the plot moves forward you become so engrossed in the magic of the fairy tale that the modern setting disappears, which I liked. I would recommend this book to younger readers, although I still think my favorite telling of the story is East by Edith Pattou (which if I’m being honest is one of two books that make me want a daughter named Rose). Overall a 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Book Review: The Pearl

Summary from Goodreads: Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the gulf beds that once brought great wealth to the kings of Spain and now provide Kino, Juana, and their infant son with meager subsistence. Then, on a day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull's egg, as "perfect as the moon." With the pearl come Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the gulf beds that once brought great wealth to the kings of Spain and now provide Kino, Juana, and their infant son with meager subsistence. Then, on a day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull's egg, as "perfect as the moon." With the pearl comes hope, the promise of comfort and of security....

A story of classic simplicity, based on a Mexican folktale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man's nature, greed, the darkest depths of evil, and the luminous possibilities of love.

My Thoughts: I am ashamed of my junior high self for thinking this story was lame (although I don’t think it's entirely my fault, but alas, that is a rant for another time). Now that I have read it again as an adult as part of my book club I have loved it. Steinbeck is able to tell a story with so many levels in so few pages. I loved reading it from a historical perspective, picking out all the parts dealing with the affects of colonialism on locals and settlers. I loved reading it from a religious perspective and seeing the ways blind faith can corrupt, even when that faith is mixed with old native traditions. I loved reading it from a perspective of community watching as friends that have always said they will celebrate each other’s blessings become jealous and come apart. Then there is the obvious perspective of the power of wealth to corrupt, which was all I saw as a junior high student. No matter which of the many possible perspectives a reader brings to this story, there is so much to think about and to talk about. This was a great choice for a book club! I give this short story a 5 out of  stars. It really lives up to the phrase of ‘short and to the point’.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Book Review: The Maritan

Summary from Goodreads: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?   

My Thoughts: I like it! Brett had actually read it first and recommended it to me. It was a great quick read and helped break up the pattern of historical fiction that I normally read.  The thing I liked most about it was that it was smart. Still a little impossible and fantastic, but smart and about a topic I don’t typically read about. The characters are all likable and play off each other well. I do want to caution about the language. I for one have a problem where I sometimes think it is funny, and the way it was used in the book is for humor. My only complaint would be that the writing style didn’t stay consistant, sometimes first person, sometimes in diary form, and sometimes from an omniscient third party perspective, but I do think it will make a good movie here soon! Overall I give it 3 out of 5 stars, which is pretty good considering this is the author’s first work!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tingey Family Pictures

During my blogging hiatus during the winter, my side of the family finally got to take an updated family picture when we visited for Christmas. Before that the last picture of us was from our wedding in 2011, so this was very needed. Lucky for me, we don’t look particularly Christmas-y, just cold, so I can still show these pictures now, even though it's months later! To take these we drove out to a lake near by parents’ house, set up a tripod on the dock, froze for a few minutes while we snapped a few pictures, then loaded back up into the car. Even though it was a little rushed, I am so happy with the location. How can you not be when you have a frosted lake and forest behind you with all that fog?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer 2015 Book List

As summer begins each year I start making regular trips to local libraries and bookstores. This summer I decided to pick six books I was going to specifically try to read, putting that at two per month. Usually during the summer I average much more than that, so I will still have plenty of time for all the rest that draw my eye. Speaking of which, I’m seriously considering rereading all of Harry Potter this summer, I reread the last two a couple Christmases ago, but I think its time for the the whole story.

Trying to settle down on the six books I wanted to read most was a little difficult because I have so many different interests! Instead of running the risk of having a list that ended up being too similar, I decided to shoot for one from each of six categories, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Nonfiction, Classic, and Popular. With those parameters set I came up with the list in no time. So without further ado, here are the six books I plan on reading this summer.
Summer 2015 Book List

Historical Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See-Anthony Doerr
This book has been all the rage lately in the Historical Fiction category. I have always loved WWII era history, and got excited when this book was already scheduled in by a book club I just joined. I have a feeling this will have to be a purchase, not a rental.

Fantasy: Ice-Sarah Beth Durst
This is another telling of a common myth I have seen many times. As a kid I read a version called East (I read it a couple times actually) and loved it. I am excited to read this version with the different family dynamic and current century placement.  

Sci-Fi: Dune-Frank Herbert
This will actually be a reread for me. I read this book in high school and remember that I liked it, and like the ending, but I don’t remember the specifics. I have always wanted to go back and read it as an adult.

Nonfiction: 1776-David McCullough
This has been on my list, and on my end table shelf for a while. I just need to actually read it! I like all things history, and having read lots of nonfiction for university classes, I know that once I get a few chapters in I won’t be able to put it down until I have learned all I can.

Classic: All Quiet on the Western Front-Erich Maria Remarque
Like most people who read regularly, I have heard that this is supposed to be one of the greatest war novels, I just have never gotten around to it through the rest of the books on my list. So now I am consciously making space to read it!

Popular: Divergent-Veronica Roth
I still haven’t read these books because by the time they were popular I couldn’t handle it. I felt like all the books were of post-apocalyptic war societies where the teenager stumbles upon a plot to save the day! I think I stepped away long enough now and can come back to get this series, and I look forward to the easy trilogy.

So there it is, the list of the six books I want to make sure to read this summer. What else would you add to this list?