Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of Mythology by A. Molotkov and John Sibley Williams

The End of Mythology by A. Molotkov and John Sibley Williams illustrates beautifully the power of the well placed word in this short book of poems. Filled with a combination of deeps insights and lighter thoughts, there are moments that evoke deep contemplation as well as intense emotions. There's even a bit of humor threaded through some serious poems. This small collection is easily enjoyed in one sitting while I have a feeling it will pull me back to its pages again and again.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stop Procrastination: 30 Proven Strategies to Motivate Yourself and Stop Being Lazy by Arthur Joyce

  I read Stop Procrastination: 30 Proven Strategies to Motivate Yourself and Stop Being Lazy  by Arthur Joyce in one sitting. The ideas presented weren't anything new. The author's choice of words often left me shaking my head wondering if English was his second language. The structure also didn't really appeal to me. Overall, Stop Procrastination just didn't offer me anything new or a new way of looking at procrastination.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton by Anne Sexton

I listened to an interview in which Madonna mentioned that Anne Sexton's poetry influenced her. I was intrigued enough to research Anne Sexton because I'd never heard of her. Once I read a little about Sexton, I knew I needed to read her poetry, if for no other reason than to see if I could learn anything from her work that would help my own poetry writing. So I decided to buy The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton by Anne Sexton. I opted to take my time and only read a few poems a day when I started The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton. I wanted to think about the poems, to really internalize them, to study style, to learn from them. Some days it was tempting to read several. Other days I found it a struggle to read even one. Sexton played with words and social norms in ways that I can only imagine upset people when they were published. Her poems ripped into fairy tales and religion with the same irreverence in a way I found refreshing at times and uncomfortable at others, but those poems always made me think as good poetry should. She tackled life head-on in some poems and wrote all around topics in others. I found myself relating to her need to both expose and hide. Certain poems resonated with me on a deep level. Others had me scrambling for meaning. Still others inspired me to try new ideas in my own poetry. As I consciously and slowly worked my way through the over 600 pages of poems, I discovered some limits I didn't know I had. I thought how I'd never feel comfortable writing about some of the topics Sexton covered, but I also discovered a desire to push my work in different directions. The thing that's always interesting about a complete work is its range. There are poems in this book that will appeal to many as well as poems people will find offensive. And, while it shows a great deal of insight into the human condition, there are times when it feels incredibly, personally voyeuristic. I love poems that go to the depths of human experience, so this appealed to me.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Art of Love: Origin of Sinner's Grove by A.B. Michaels

The Art of Love: Origin of Sinner's Grove by A.B. Michaels weaves a story of love, lust, betrayal, and sacrifice that kept me on edge often unsure whether to cheer or boo a character's decisions as I waited to see if those decisions would succeed or fail.
The first part of The Art of Love is all about August Wolff's quest to find his riches and prove himself whether to his family or himself is up for debate. With the disappearance of his wife and daughter, Wolff finds himself in a quandary as he begins his new life after discovering gold. When his search for his wife and daughter repeatedly comes up empty, he adopts a life in San Francisco, California filled with the trappings of happiness.
Michaels then introduces Amelia Bennett, a talented artist, who is forced to make decisions for the sake of her family rather than her own desires. When the situation becomes unbearable she hatches a plan with her fellow artist and friend, Sander de Kalb, who has reasons of his own to want to start over, to leave behind their lives in New York for San Francisco.
After she and Sander move to San Francisco, Amelia often feels the pangs of the son she left behind but knows in her heart she made the right decision, not only for herself but for all involved.
As Amelia's popularity as an artist is on the rise, she meets August Wolff, whose reputation leaves her hesitant to get to know him. When he commissions her to paint a mural for him and find art for his home, she's intrigued by more than the project at hand as is he.
Michaels creates two flawed but lovable characters and surrounds them with characters the reader wants to know better. She weaves their story lines together in a way that engages the readers senses and confronts stereotypes. The Art of Love delves into the ideas of what love and friendship mean while looking at the complications of marriage and divorce. There's a sense of modernity about this historical novel that made me feel a bit sad that some things haven't changed more than they have since the 1890s.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall - Reviewed

The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall languished in my to-be-read pile for several years. I didn't really expect to find any secrets revealed. I bought it because I find belief systems and their origins fascinating. The Secret Teachings of All Ages doesn't so much reveal "secret teachings" as draw connections between current belief systems and ancient belief systems. While there is some supposition that what is being presented obscures the secret teachings, it feels like the books tries too hard to connect ancient mythologies, scientific discovery, and religion. The Secret Teachings of All Time uses stories of gods and goddesses as well as scientific and mathematical discoveries to show the development of modern day religion. Often as I read, I felt like the book disproved the theories it attempted to support. Overall, Hall provides an interesting assembly of teachings through the ages that will have readers questioning what they have long been sure they know for sure. Basically, I would describe The Secret Teachings of All Ages as attempting to document the evolution of religion in the world. Parts of The Secret Teachings of All Ages were certainly interesting making it worth the read, but it failed to convince me it revealed any true secrets of which the world is unaware.