Book Reviews January 2015

All About Love by Bell Hooks   

Finished 30th January, 2015

This may just have to go down as the most breathtaking book I have ever read. As a person who has walked through this life utterly bewildered by the actions of humans, and the absence of love in our lives and our communities, this book spoke openly of my own secret heart’s longings.

I remember a few years back, a celebrity cricketer here in New Zealand, Martin Crowe met and fell in love with our very own Miss Universe winner, Lorraine Downes. She insisted he read Oriah Mountain-Dreamer’s book “The Invitation” before she would even consider a relationship with him. I’ve always adored that book and her famous poem of the same name. But this. THIS is my book.

This is a book I wish I could print 7 billion copies of, so every human being could experience the idea of love that is painted within these pages.

With sections : Grace: Touched by Love; Clarity: Give Love Words; Justice: Childhood Love Lessons; Honesty: Be True to Love; Commitment: Let Love Be Love in Me; Spirituality: Divine Love’; Values: Living by a Love Ethic; Greed: Simply Love; Community: Loving Communion; Mutuality: The Heart of Love; Romance: Sweet Love; Loss: Loving into Life and Death; Healing: Redemptive Love; Destiny: When Angels Speak of Love; every single one, spoke to me in profound and personal ways. Finally I was able to honour the places of my heart that have never been given words I felt I was able to share, in this world.

This book speaks of the love that requires true courage. Love that asks you to abandon all that you cling to of today’s false images of ‘love’ so we may be stripped bare and made truly alive. Love that has the potential to not only change individual lives, but the entire the way in which we live on this planet.

I think this line broke my heart open the most. “As long as we are afraid to risk we cannot know love. Hence the truism: ‘Love is letting go of fear’. Our hearts connect with lots of folks in a lifetime but most of us will go to our graves with no experience of ‘true’ love. This is in no way tragic, as most of us run the other way when true love comes near. Since true love sheds light on those aspects of ourselves we may wish to deny or hide, enabling us to see ourselves clearly and without shame, it is not surprising that so many individuals who say they want to know love, turn away when such love beckons.”

We have been running from love our entire lives. Our love of self, our neighbours, and the sort of love that we dream of, that is free of subjugation and shame. This gives us a narrative to finally stop running. And to find the courage to let love catch up to us. For me, this is the only story I am interesting in knowing more about in this life.   I hope for the next generations to come, this is a story that will take wings and literally transform the world for them!!

I just sent a message to a friend saying “You will love this book I think! I am rendered breathless by the ideas in here. It NAILS the lovelessness we are surrounded by in this world. It would take some seriously courageous souls to love the way she describes in this book. Yet having read it, I finally understand why I have settled for nothing less in my life. As a seeker of the ‘meaning of life’ – I am reminded that love is the meaning. Love is the very reason we exist – simple as that. I hope whoever reads this book dares to begin the journey back to it.
Eight Minutes by Lori Reisenbichler

Finished 24 January, 2015

I was quite sure this was heading to a four star story, until the end just sort of wrapped up all to conveniently for my liking. I struggled to reconcile how the main character, who seemed quite ballsy, took the way her husband treated her (he became an almost entirely different man after an accident in which he was officially declared ‘dead’ for eight minutes, on the night his wife gave birth to their first child). But having some understanding of massive brain injury and how that can affect personalities so profoundly, and having NO understanding of the stresses of raising a baby in that environment – I was able to forgive that. But by crikey, I wanted to give the guy a right hook on many occasions. I love the ideas this book explored, and can well imagine the minefield it would be to explore such things if we didn’t all have open minded friends, willing to consider possibilities of past life experiences, ghosts, and reincarnation, rather than have you locked up if you ever thought such things were happening to your own children.

I was definitely engrossed in this story until the last 3-4 chapters. At which point, it all became a little trite – with that prize ass of a husband, suddenly became Mr Co-operative. For me, that was even less likely than a whole bunch of ghosts or reincarnated souls potentially finding ways to come back to stay close to the people they love! But I definitely liked it. This is a refreshing voice, who with a bit more research and exploration into the metaphysical, could come up with some really good novels in future. (less)

Undivided (Unwind Dystology #4) by Neal Shusterman

Finished 21 January, 2015

Well, what can I tell you? The ‘Unwind’ series still absolutely stands as THE best I have ever read. I cared so MUCH about these characters. From the first chapter of the first novel, I was completely engaged with this story. I was on tenterhooks at the end of each one, waiting for the next book. I read this one slowly, almost afraid of the fact that this was officially ‘the last one’. Without a single spoiler, this one wraps up beautifully – unlike many that leave too many questions unanswered. To sum up in one word : BRILLIANT.

I actually wonder too – how has THIS not become a movie? (Although I am glad it hasn’t, as I don’t think I could bear the perfectly wonderful Connor, Lev and Risa who live in my mind, to be bastardised on screen). But there is just so much metaphor for truth about the world we livein, in this novel. Who is shutting this story down? Why isn’t this being told to the masses? What are the puppet-masters who dictate what we are fed by the mass media, so afraid of??!!

Hmm, well, I think I know. This entire series is a frighteningly clever, and accurate exposé on the world we could very likely live in, in the future – should we all remain so utterly gullible and easily swayed by media propaganda. And if we continue to thrive on the fear and selfishness we are so fooled into believing we need to live in.

There is redemption for us all in this novel. We just have to read it, and hopefully, many like me will realise, this HORROR could, actually, happen. The only people who will stop that from being the case- is us. We must never become so complacent, lazy, or self-absorbed!


The Storied Life of AJ Fikrey by Gabrielle Zevin

Finished 9 January, 2015

I first discovered Gabrielle Zevin when a young lady at the boarding school I work at, lent me her book ‘Elsewhere’, which I just adored. This book is more based here, in the real world, than in the afterlife that was so beautifully portrayed in Elsewhere, yet it proved to be just as touching. With a wonderful line up of characters, this book celebrates both the goodness in everyday people and the wonder of books themselves. It pay homage to how each and every one comes to shape us. As I make a patchy transition to the world of e-readers, I read this one in the real format, and I am pleased I did. It was impossible not to be reminded of the love I too had for everything the ‘bookshop’ represented as I read this book, and I was taken back to the times I would walk away unable to see over my arms, laden with books for my summer holiday. This was the perfect choice to start my holidays with this year!

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