Friday, September 26, 2014

Goodreads: SERIA The Giver / Darul lui Jonas by Lois Lowry

Darul lui JonasDarul lui Jonas by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People have expectations. This is natural in our world, where life rarely gives you anything if you don't ask for it. This book is very controversial, with opinions going from overrated crap to brilliantly life-changing story. I'm not joining any camp, but I do place it in the 4 star range, mainly because it left me with a very good feeling of trust in our power of changing the world we live in.

This was not meant to be a huge literary masterpiece and it was from the beginning and not just accidentally destined to children. The language is simple and clean, the story it not overly 'written' maybe because our younger readers don't need so many explanations...they just see the magic where it happens. Therefore let's imagine we live in a world where not everything needs to be perfect in order to be beautiful.

I've always loved the idea of pain as a necessary part of life and Lois Lowry manages to create a vivid world starting from the absence of it. And in the end we must agree that a perfect world can't exclude the negatives without loosing the beauty of life. Maybe positives and negatives are not simply two sides of a coin...what we get to live is much more complex.

It is said that any story is just as good as its fist and its last paragraph...and Oh my God! What an ending!? So many possibilities! Our mind is the only limit.

Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2)Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started reading it I expected disappointment because of all the bad reviews out there and because most sequels don't live up to the first book in the series. However disappointment never came. This is a beautiful story, different but very much the same with The Giver. Reading it, I was left with a nice feeling of beauty being able to grow even in the most dark places. And who doesn't appreciate and admire a flower growing up in mud!?

Messenger (The Giver, #3)Messenger by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lois either hate her or love her, there's no halfway there.

A story about the evil constantly trying to conquer our lives, the things that we are willing to trade in order to own stuff we don't need or to be loved by people who don't deserve us and the price we eventually must pay for all of these.

I loved the magical atmosphere, the way the plot develops into a totally different type of story where familiar characters meet to connect the two previous stories in the series with this one. As in the other two books the finale is abrupt but it is exactly what you need in a world where stories are infinite and endless.

Son (The Giver, #4)Son by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you start reading the series it's totally worth reading it all the way to the fourth book, mainly because otherwise you lose so much of the overall meaning of the story.

”Son” was not my favorite book of the series, but I did appreciate the extra explanations on notions and characters that were somehow left in the air in the other ones. I understand the fact that most people expect closure when it comes to the end of a series and some experienced a kind of frustration because the books don't offer enough information.

As for myself I didn't feel the need for extra explanations because from the beginning I imagined the whole story created by Lowry as being just a small corner of a very diverse fictional world that can never be totally comprised in a book. It's just like fairy-tales where you only get to hear one small story of some prince saving his princess even if let's be honest probably that's far from being the only or the most important thing happening in their world.

Small stories happening in big worlds, having no obvious beginnings or ends and being somehow blurry at the middle, are just like the perfect photo that randomly catches your eye on the internet. You look at it and you wish you could understand better the circumstances surrounding it but probably if you did, it would lose its appeal.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Goodreads Review - Al Pacino: conversation with Lawrence Grobel

Al PacinoAl Pacino by Lawrence Grobel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've never been a big Al Pacino fan and this book didn't make me change my mind. But it did leave me with the impression that I've met a man who lived a full life and learned a lot on the way. It is probably a must read for the fans of his movies as the dialog insists a lot on the roles he played, the way he lived and felt every one of them, the way his thoughts evolved in time. I appreciated the spark between him and the author, Lawrence Grobel. The personal relationship they developed along the 26 years of interviews that resulted in this book, were definitely a plus for the overall read.

However, I saw a man with too many regrets about past decisions, too many frustrations and if this is what you get after a life as full as his, I wonder what's there for the rest of us.

A decent read but not as in-depth as I expected it to be.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Searching for Sugarman - life is way better that film***

          Am mers la cinematograf așteptând un film și mi s-a servit o poveste care depășește cu mult orice scenariu. Searching for Sugarman este bizara poveste de viață a starului rock care a vândut milioane de albume inspirând oameni și națiuni ... fără să știe. Filmul este un documentar impresionant prin incredibila forță care o dă cruda realitate oricărei povești, fiind nu doar un portret impresionant al unui mare muzician ci și o frescă mai puțin obișnuită a industriei muzicale. Am apreciat nu neapărat perfecțiunea actului artistic în sine, cât ritmul relaxat al evenimentelor, construcția ingenioasă a intrigii și bineînțeles frumusețea poveștii.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fictional projection of life drifting apart

Ca visul unei nopți de vară ce nu se mai sfârșește, străbați un drum lung și sinuos înspre nicăieri și știi că vei sfârși așteptând mântuirea într-o după-amiază de luni. 

Primești mai întâi un bilet de bun venit la paradă și apoi o mână invizibilă te împinge efectiv în ceva numit viață, pierzi ani rătăcind în neștire, în ignoranță, apoi răsare o clipă de fericire servită din vârful buzelor precum ceaiul în înalta societate, vezi paradisul pierdut în suburbii mizere unde te-au adus circumstanțele, sau lipsa de ambiție sau poate viața însăși. Ochii tăi flămânzi se pierd printre luminile orașului iar realitatea îți strivește lent visele și dorințele, îți creează așteptări, și-ți pune piedici, iar în final te eliberează și te salvează doar pentru a începe din nou același cerc vicios. 

Acum, că ai învățat jocul, doar amintiri înmormântate pe vecie într-un colțișor al subconștientului te mai bântuie uneori în vise. Viața te-a făcut neînfricat, dar încă te mai temi de obscuritate și uitare, de iremediabilul sfârșit. Treci deseori pe lângă tragedii teribile ce au loc în jurul tău dar le ignori și răsufli ușurat că nu mai sunt ale tale...”Va trece!” spui doar în șoaptă cu gândul la bietul amărât care nu demult erai tu. 

 Și astăzi când au trecut atâtea zile insignifiante de luni și atâtea vieți s-au perindat prin sufletul tău, poți în sfârșit să vezi răsăritul și să înțelegi necesitatea apusul, poți aprecia muzica de pe fundal dar și nevoia de liniște uneori.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Goodreads Review - BEN HUR by Lew Wallace


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben Hur is a wonderful novel and if you can get over the large descriptive paragraphs and the little actual storyline placed within a huge historical background, it can easily be a 5 stars. In my mind it’s more like a 4.25 not because of the descriptions slowing down the pace…I actually love descriptions in books, but because maybe I had larger expectations when I started reading it and I was a little bit disappointed because as I said nothing much happens. And also I felt like a 5 star rating would be a little bit unfair in the comparison with Sienkewicz's Quo Vadis which had a much more structured storyline.

The book can be divided into seven main stories / scenes: the story of the three Wise Men coming from all over the world to look for baby Jesus and the birth itself (amazing scene I admit I enjoyed every word of it); the story of Ben Hur who is betrayed by his Roman friend Messala and gets sold as a slave while his mother and sister are imprisoned and all their fortune is stolen (I felt like more of the story after his imprisonment should have been told); Ben Hur being saved from slavery by the Roman Arrius who also becomes his adopted father; after a couple of years Ben Hur already a strong and trained soldier looking for his revenge (this is an extremely long part of the book that totally lost me at some point, even though the scene of the amazing chariot race makes all the reading worth it); the very emotional scene of Hen Hur’s sister and mother incarcerated in a jail cell known to be infected with leprosy; the wonderful presentation of who exactly Jesus was, everything being shown through the eyes of Ben Hur and his contemporaries as they realize that he is not going to liberate them from Roman subjugation; the scene of the crucifixion which makes an extremely emotional ending.

Most of these stories are beautiful writings, some really exceptional (the chariot race, the leprosy, the crucifixion) but I felt the overall story line was way too fragmented, to coincidental, which maybe it’s for the sake of the Christianity coming to life background, some kind of ‘believe and not doubt’ motto, but personally I like fluidity in a book.

Overall although the 1880’s style can prove difficult for the modern reader I would say this is a must for every historical fiction lover. I surely enjoyed the ride!