Nov 8, 2011

Review: Time Traveling Adventures

So, it seems that time traveling is sort of the new thing in YA fiction, considering I have read at least three books about time traveling--each with varying degrees of success. Here are the three that I have read:

First up, Timeless by Alexandra Monir.

This novel was okay. It's about a girl who finds a diary from 1910 and is transported back in time to meet her ancestor and a mysterious boy that has been haunting her dreams her whole life. The writing was so-so, and the plot a little predictable. The thing that really ruined this novel for me, though, was that it was the beginning of a series (probably a trilogy, because that seems to be the "thing" now. ::Sigh::), and it ended like it was the beginning of a trilogy, meaning there was no ending. And what really bothered me was that it could have been one book. It was only 280 pages--little short for it's target audience--and with some editing and cutting, and then adding 100 more pages, it probably would have been a pretty good book. It's kind of fun and cute, but I don't recommend it.

(Can I just go on a little rant about series? I would rather have ONE good book than three so-so books. But it seems like everyone is writing series now! If you are going to write a series, please make it so the books stand alone! It's so frustrating when you end in the middle of the story. It is only after I get connected to the characters and get comfortable with the prose that I become okay with there being cliff-hanger endings. Harry Potter is a good example of this. The first few books completed the story line for that book, and once everyone started loving it, no one cared how Rowling wrote them. Rick Riordan is another good example. Because I like the way he writes, I don't care that I have to wait so long for his next book to come out. I'm comfortable with his universe, and the characters, and even though there is a larger story arch throughout his books, each individual story line completes within it's own book. It's like a TV show--there maybe be an arch, but each episode [usually] contains a full storyline. Anyway, back to the reviews . . . )

Second, The Time-traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

This book was cute. It's a little younger (main character is 12, I think, so probably for 10 to 13 year olds). What I loved about this novel was the pictures. The girl goes back to 1912 and there are some beautiful drawings (done by a real fashion designer) of Edwardian clothes. It was one of those cute little novels that you read when you need a break from your "thinking" books. This was also the beginning of a series, but it was a stand alone book.

Third, Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.

I loved this novel! It was originally written in German and has just recently been translated into English. This one is about a girl, living in London, who has a gene that makes it so she spontaneously transports back in time, except everyone thought her cousin had inherited it instead of her. So well written and translated! This is also the beginning of a trilogy, but this is done right. The book is so good that you want to read the rest, not because you just want to see how it ends, but because you want to get taken on the journey to the end. Good characters, great story, good read. It's intriguing and I am excited to finish this trilogy.

Nov 1, 2011

Sunday Special: Turning a Blind Eye

I have severe myopia (near sightedness). Like, horrible. Fortunately, with corrective lenses, this is only something I usually only have to be aware of for a few seconds morning and night before and after taking my contacts out. I started wearing contacts when I was thirteen, and there have been a few times since then that I have had to go back to wearing my glasses for a week or two--usually because I have lost one of my contacts and I can't very well be going around with only one good eye.

I hate wearing my glasses. The last time I lost a contact, I realized just how much I hate wearing them all the time. My eyesight is so bad that I couldn't even but on my make-up without difficulty. I had to get so close to the mirror in order to see that not only did I go cross-eyed, but I couldn't get my eyeliner pencil at the correct angle because it's about 6 inches, and I was only giving it 2 inches between the mirror and my face.

What people don't realize is that not having my contacts or glasses in doesn't make me completely blind. I can still see things, they just happen to look . . . furrier than normal. People have no individual features, but the basic shape is still there. I can still make sense of most of what is going on around me. For example the "how many fingers" game. I may not be able to see your individual fingers, but I know the basic shape a hand makes when holding up two or five fingers. I guess you can say I know what it's like to not see things clearly (literally).

Sometimes I think that we take out our "spiritual" contacts when it comes to things in this world we live in. We thinking that not seeing something clearly will make it so we don't become affected by it. We use our self inflicted blindness as an excuse; "I just ignore it when people swear" "I fast forward through that part" "I skipped those pages".

I don't know about you, but I have come to learn that I am extremely affected by the things I subject myself to. The images I see, the words I hear, the things I read. And I used to make up excuses too--I used to take out my contacts and think that fast forwarding through a scene or trying to ignore bad language made it so it didn't wear on me. I would skim through scenes in books, because that way I wasn't really ingesting it. But the thing is . . . I was. It had a major affect on me in ways I wouldn't even have thought about.

It changed the way I viewed other people, the thoughts that came to my head. And I learned that once I saw something, it was filed away somewhere, waiting to pop up what I didn't want it. It changed the way I felt.

I'm not perfect. I still make mistakes and make excuses. Sometimes I find myself with my spiritual contacts out. But I think that once I learn to view the world through my spiritual lenses, not only am I going to be better able to see the good, but I'm going to better able avoid the bad. We live in a world that perverts sex, language, relationships, freedom, morality, and even religion. But we also live in a beautiful world with wonderful advances in technology. A world that is full of good people, and good things.

In Sunday school last Sunday, my teacher said something that has stuck with me. He said, "You can't stop the birds from flying, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair." So, I'm not saying that we should stick to the scriptures as our only form of literature, or only watch Disney cartoons, and listen to hymns. I love movies and music and books. I'm saying, seek out the good in the world, whatever that may be to you. Know your own limits; know what affects you, and stay away from it.

Stop looking at the world in a haze because you turn a blind eye to everything in it. Put on your corrective lenses and see things clearly! Life is better that way.