Monday, June 29, 2015

The Figured Wheel by Robert Pinsky

I bought Robert Pinsky's book, The Figured Wheel, several years ago at a reading he did in Sun Valley, Idaho. It languished in my to-be-read pile for far too long. I'm not sure why, but I hesitated to start reading it. Until recently. The books covers poems he wrote ranging from 1966-1996. Once I started reading, I found myself alternating between loving the poems and trying to find meaning in them. Some were clear. Others felt rather obscure. I kept reading. Many of the poems felt universal and some felt deeply personal. Pinsky narrates life experience and muses on belief systems with equal weight. He explores mythology and juxtaposes it with everyday life in a thought provoking manner. He's not afraid to use as many or as few words as he needs to drive his point home. The Figured Wheel engrossed me in thought.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The American Sign Language Phrase Book with DVD by Lou Fant and Barbara Bernstein Fant

I read The American Sign Language Phrase Book with DVD by Lou Fant and Barbara Bernstein Fant because it was the assigned book for my American Sign Language Class. The first part of the book gives the reader instructions on how to use the book as well as a guide to ASL. While it might be tempting to skip these two sections, they actually hold some good tips for learning the language. There were times when I had a little trouble discerning the movements in the book. I think this is probably inevitable in this type of book as the book uses still drawings to depict movement that is sometimes slight. The DVD is incredibly helpful in learning the signs. I quickly learned in class that, like any language, ASL is a living language which means it changes to meet the needs of those using it. Our instructor pointed out when signs have changed or when new signs have been added, but if you're relying only on the book to learn, you have no way to know about these changes. Anyone interested in learning American Sign Language will benefit from The American Sign Language Phrase Book with DVD.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Kracken by Ray Ellis

Ray Ellis delivers once again with Kracken. When I started Kracken I didn't know what to expect, but having read Ellis's crime fiction, I already appreciated his storytelling ability. Kracken has a sci-fi, fantasy, love story essence that never forgets its characters are inherently human. Kracken is a classic story of good and evil with a hint that neither is always as good or as evil as it seems giving hope that redemption is always possible. As the characters come together, are torn apart, and find their way back together, they face danger, injury, and death. Ellis's character whether male or female exhibit emotion, rationality, strength, weakness, and capability as they fight each other and work together to create the world they wish to inhabit. The sometimes flawed decisions of the characters make them all the more real and give the reader a sense of satisfaction when they are forced to face the consequences of their decisions. Ellis writes stories that grip the reader and refuse to let go, and Kracken is no exception.
 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Congress of Strange People by Stephanie Lenox

Congress of Strange People by Stephanie Lenox introduces a variety of characters through poems that tantalize and intrigue.  Poems explore life's ability to be completely normal and incredibly strange all at the same time. Metaphors and straightforward prose juxtapose one another with beautiful clarity and lines that leave the reader stumbling over one's preconceptions about how life moves forward. Lenox draws the reader into the lines until there's no desire to escape.Congress of Strange People fills the reader with a sense of knowing and not-knowing the world one inhabits. Sometimes the titles themselves leave the reader hesitant to ingest the words but unable to resist. Lenox weaves fantasy and reality into a tapestry that explores the outer edges of what we think we know with the strangeness we often work so hard to deny.