The confusing points of “Lady Gone Bad”..

I have recently finished Sabine Star’s first western romance novel “Lady Gone Bad”. While this novel had occasional strong points, their were some scenes that just had me confused. Some of this confusion comes from Starr who brings in historical context at weird times and one is never able to find out all of the back story of Lady Gone Bad aka Sharlot.

(spoiler alert) Well lets start with the end of the novel in which Lady Gone Bad is pardoned because she helped catch a group of thieves along with a traitor to the government with the help of Rafe and her horse Copper. The problem is that once this all resolved all we really learn about is how the horse thieves Zip, Lampkin, etc. stole her prized horse and killed her parents, but we never hear of her journey after that point. I think this would be worth mentioning given that by the end of the novel most people have become invested in the main characters.

Now, to go off a tangent sort of another confusing point in this book is when Sharlot begins lecturing Rafe in a way about the civil war heroes from thirty years ago. She explains to Rafe that some outlaws are “Confederate heroes, or sons of the heroes, still engaged in the conflict, taking back what the union stole and giving it to the needy like they did during the war”(Starr 183).  I think the point that is she trying to make is that not all supposed criminals are guilty men or women and some people have to get involved with outlaws in order to gain justice. Sharlot is an example since she woos outlaws in order for her own agenda. Also, I think she is trying to get Rafe to realize that “there are always two sides to every story”(Starr 186). She also emphasizes that “People aren’t black, white or red. They’re grey”(Starr 187).  She is trying to get Rafe to realize that maybe the situations for outlaws, confederate soldiers are more complicated than they seem. The issue with this is Rafe is a law man and for him people fall into the two camps of “guilty” and “not guilty” with very little room to be anything else in the middle.

Their being two sides of things can also be seen through the female characters in this book. I say this because of the female role models in the book are Belle Starr and Lady Gone Bad. These women represent strong, independent women who take care of themselves and who do not want to be dependent on men. For instance Lady Gone Bad is able to support herself through singing and helping others. The other side of this coin is woman like Angel Rafe’s sister who are demure timid woman who will do whatever they can to win over a man it seems, even if these ladies are their idols.  This can be seen when she tells Lady Gone Bad “I’ve been working on this look with you in mind. She winked, chuckling. Angel Gone Bad”(Starr 212).  Rafe does not approve of this off course, but Angel does not seem to care in this situation.  When she explains to Rafe that she must stay with the VIking “long enough for him to understand I am his own true love”(Starr 213).

The book “Lady Gone Bad” by Sabine Starr shows to me that romance novels are more than just bad sex scenes that leave something to be desired.  I say that because to my recollection their is only one sex scene in the beginning of the book in which there is foreplay. However, I do like how she attempts to provide some historical context to these characters in her western romance novel, and shows two interesting perspectives of women gender roles through Lady Gone Bad and Angel.

 

 

My mixed feelings on Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

 Well, on my hunt for employment I figured I should try to stay sharp through doing some reading. Also, since I tend to be socially awkward in the beginning so I figured something to help remedy that and maybe help me remedy that was to read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. While, I am sure this book tends to be viewed as a self-help book, my hope was to use it to enhance my approach of talking to people while I look for work. 

The weird thing is that this author sort of reminded me of the nice version of Machiavelli, without the whole wanting to conquer Italy vendetta (am pretty sure about the Italy thing but the last time I read that book was high school). I say this because I am sorry to say some of his tips seem like they are manipulating people.  Some example of this is him recommending to  “Arouse in another person an eager want”(Carnegie 79) and “Let the other person feel that an idea is his or hers”(Carnegie 196). However, even with this one example his compelling argument seems to be the golden rule of treating people how they want to be treated. He exemplifies that by reminding readers to be nice to people, smile, listen to them and appreciate what they do.

His whole book in a way revealed to me how self involved people can be since he mentions getting to talk about themselves and to be sympathetic to their needs, wants and desires. He seems to be showing that people like talking about themselves, which is not a bad thing. One part of the book that I admire in the last section of the book is that he focuses on constructive criticism so that people will become better workers, learners, etc.

Even, with my mixed reviews of this book I will be trying to apply some of the concepts that he has taught me for future social interactions. Also, I think this book would also come in handy for networking because his tips come in handy when you want to help someone out a networking event and expect nothing in return.

 

 

Karel Capeks R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots)

 

In 1920 Karl Capek wrote a play called “R.U.R” about a society in which people created robots and these robots in turn decided to destroy their “masters” the humans.  The leader of the group and creator of the robots is  a Harry Domin thought he was doing the world a great favor because humans would no longer have to work anymore, since the robots would do the work for them. I think this was the flaw in his plan because I think intrinsically humans want to work rather than sitting home and doing nothing all day.

This robot issue becomes further complicated in the fact that they look like humans so no one is able to tell a robot or human alike.  This line becomes more blurred when Domin tells his guest Helena the daughter of the president  that he will take the robot to the dissecting room to take a look at her (11)  potential murdering her in the process.  Domin himself even says “machines can’t be killed”(11).  Helena herself disapproves of this treatment when she tells Domin that her league of humanity  “wants to liberate the robots”(18).   Their is one character who is the aunt of Helena who thinks the robot characters are ungodly and not natural. Another character a Dr. Gall who runs the psychological division of the robots believes that due to these robots have “is virtually an anachronism”(39) so much so that people have stopped reproducing.

I think the main things conflicting throughout this play are nature vs machine if one will destroy the other.  Also, it questions where this technology is really a good thing.  Kapek wrote this play after world war and the beginning of the industrial revolution so he had similar questions for his own generation.  This play came about during the time of the first world war where men were going off to war and not returning, their were new technologies being introduced in warfare, and the standard of living had drastically changed from a decade ago.

Along with this play commenting on the industrial revolution in the 1900’s, I think it is also comparing the robots in a sense to the working class. The working class  being the jobs that most people do not want to do like working in a factory, on a farm, etc.  I think this appropriate given that the term robot was used to mean a serf/someone who serves others.

The problem with the robots serving others is that at some point they will realize that they do not like the humans they are serving and will want to take over, and I won’t blame them.  This can even be shown in such dystopian shows as Dollhouse and Battlestar Gallatica in which the cylons destroy much of the human race.  So I have to ask my readers is technology evolving to the point of robots a good thing? Also do you like me also thing their is some social commentary hidden behind this science fiction facade about how those in the working class are treated?

p.s. I know they are class issues being discussed at hand this play but I think I will save it for another post

 


 

The world of hitchhikers guide to the galaxy…

    Well for research for an English composition curriculum I am working on with a science fiction twist, with the main books and shows being discussed of the science fiction nature I decided to reread The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with the hope of using the novel in a paper prompt.  But, since I have not read this book in many of years I had forgotten how Douglas Adams likes to screw with his reader through using satire throughout his books. Actually, I didn’t even notice it until I started reading research about his novels.
The thing is though I have been obsessed with using Douglas Adams in an English composition books because his books while light hearted and satirical always make the reader think be it philosophically, why things are the way they are in terms of government, big business, or rethinking science fiction as a genre in general because he takes some of those tropes and turns them on their head.  He is the lewis caroll of science fiction writers though with his nonsensical take on things.
I say this because I will fully admit that the events that happen in Hitchhikers specifically are all absurd or people survive due to pure coincidence and being at the right place at the right time.  I say this because Arthur dent being saved by an acquaintance to survive the earths destruction, mice ruling earth, and earth being a computer that was going to determine the question to well everything.
Which oddly enough is what you are doing by the end of the book, (spoiler alert) all the characters while alive their is no finality or sense of ending and they are on to their next adventure in space.  But, I think even after all my research I think that is what Douglas Adams wants to do is question everything or to realize after much thought and contemplation that we flawed humans have very little control over our own lives. I say this because us readers could end up like arthur dent just wanting to have a simple day and maybe some tea and before you know it earth is destroyed so an intergalacitc highway can be built.
I think Adams is also making the point in his book that little events in our lives have a big impact or are related to bigger events in the long run.  I say this because in the book if Arthur had not known Ford Perfect he might never had been alive or had the opportunity to try to be killed so many times be it through Vogons or missiles. I don’t know this is just a theory, I am just curious readers as to your thoughts on Douglas Adams book The Hithchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?

Mockingjay….a symbol of rebellion and freedom

      I think when it comes to the third book of the Hunger Games Mockingjay that I am still trying to sort out how I feel about it. Actually in some way Collins reminds me of Joss Whedon in that she has a tendency to kill over characters that the readers love or care about in the end. (spoiler alert) I say this because Finnick dies in the end, and even though he seems like a Casanova in book 2 , we learn that he knows more and cares more about people than even Katniss or I thought. I love his love for Annie and how certain he is about their relationship. I think this is part of the point of the book though that even love can thrive even in terrible conditions such a rebellion against the capital.
However, even if Katniss is a symbol of the rebellion we get the sense in the beginning of the book that this is something that she is not sure she wants to be part of and she doesn’t want to feel like a pawn in a chess game.  Oddly enough Katniss seems to have two evil adversaries through President Coin and Snow.  President Snow has always been an adversary through his treatment of children through the Hunger Games. President Coin seems to be an adversary because she wants to control Kat and she does not like that, furthermore for Coin if you are not with her than you are against her. (spoiler alert)  This becomes important towards the end of the book when Snow reveals to Katniss that Coin played a part in the death of her sister Prim. I think this honestly why she shoots her at the end of the book because she knows that Coin will continue the tradition of the Hunger Games and put the capital children through the hell she had just experienced in the past two novels. She did not want to have another leader who put their needs ahead of those of the group, and who would kill children such as prim and those of the capital just to win a war, they had already won.(spoiler alert)
Katniss for this rash move is sent back to District 12 to recover from her burns and years later is married to Peeta and has two kids with him, but dreads telling her children about the horror of the hunger games. However, she is the one who finally has the freedom to decide what she can do with her life and the time she has left. But, I am not entirely sure if we get a happy ending at the end of this book given that Katniss still has nightmares about the death she caused or that were caused by others. However, I think in terms of applying this book to real life, I think all most of us can hope for is a positive ending in which we are able to marry the person we love, have friends and family who support us, and a career or job that we are passionate about. I am sure this much harder given the recession with budget cuts, layoffs, and any other new event to trip up plans that have been made. Also this book is helpful for those of us who have lost someone and are trying to deal with that grief in whatever way possible be it through death or by someone deciding that you are dead to them.

Hunger games..a tale of survival

     I know readers I planned to give you a review of A Tale of Two Cities, but I got addicted to Hunger games the 1st book , and then I lost and found the  Tale of Two Cities book. Also, please forgive me but this Hunger games series seems like it will be very addicting. My new game plan is to read other books, while I wait ever so impatiently to finish the dystopian hunger games series.  Also for me this first book seemed more relevant to my life and my own survival. Furthermore, it is easy to relate to our heroine Katniss who while aloof and emotionally stunted in some way but  is an excellent hunter who generally cares about her friends and family. I can relate with her because I have been a tomboy since I was 5 , I generally don’t like wearing pink, and I grew up playing basketball and video games. On the other hand I also bought barbies and had crushes on boys. I also like her am emotionally stunted in my own ways being a commitment-a-phobe who is not prone to let people into my life. Let me put it to you readers this way when my bf said he loved me, lets just say it took me some to respond and reciprocate said response.  This fear of letting people in can be seen with Katniss through out the book with Peeta when we never know if she actually cares for him or if she is just doing it to survive in the games, and make sure that both of them don’t die.
However, even with this fatal flaw, Katniss has the strong character of doing whatever she needs to survive. I am sure this a feeling we can all relate to as people take on more jobs to make ends meet, or try to take on less loans to make it debt free out of college. This can also be applied to food as more and more money in this economy is getting you less food, even with bargain hunting, coupons, and farmers markets. This is also apt by all the non-profit organizations trying to feed America. I even see this where I live which to me seems to be a combination of District 11 and 12 from the book. We have a big emphasis on agriculture and fresh produce while still providing produce to a majority of CA and the world. I think we have some of District 12 as their are homeless people on the street, a high unemployment rate and people going hungry. I don’t know whether I should call this reality or the side effects of a recession that has been going on for years. (spoiler alert)
But negative real events aside, horrible things that happen in the book such as Katniss rivals turning into Mutts (which is never explained) , her murdering one guy to survive and trying to play chicken with game makers until the very end, she does this with the end goal to survive and make it to her sister Primm who she loves more than life itself. Even though Peeta and her survive,the end is weird though with capital members thinking that she was mocking them through her fake out of having her and Peeta kill themselves with the deadly berries, even if this was not her intention. I might not have more to say on their totalitarian government until I have read the other books. All it makes me question is how much Katniss has in her life? and how much we have in our own lives? 

Evelina..trying to find her place in the world…

Well, it has taken a while but I have finally finished “Evelina”. This is my second time reading this novel I started reading it as an undergrad but never finished it. I proud to say this time I finished it and actually enjoyed most of it and finally understood the subtle humor and satire employed by Frances Burney. This was the first novel she wrote prior to “The Witlings”, and it is her claim to fame. Also this novel makes you feel better about your own crazy family. She has relatives the Braghtons who will make a big deal out of going somewhere and then complain the whole time while there. Their is also her grandma Madame Duval whose main goal is make Evelina cultured and turn her into a suitable person fit for London society. Evelina gets snagged into spending time with these people over the question of her last name and origin. Her mom died while giving birth to her as a child and her father ditched her prior to her birth so she never knew her family history, which is not helpful if one wants to find a good match in London society. She has been taken care of by her guardian Mr. Villars for the past seventeen years up to the point that the letters in the novel begin. This novel brings to question how important where one comes from in the past, and where one is going in the future.
She is seen as a bastard child and has to maneuver constant interruptions and social faux paux in London because she is a country girl that grew up in Berry Hill. Actually all the interruptions of moments and satirical parts remind me of Witlings and the dialogue through out makes it seem like an act in a play one witnesses in the theater. I think Evelina experiences what we all do when being placed in a new environment, we have to determine the unwritten rules and social mores and how to act in certain situations. The best examples would be the first day of high school or college. Evelina unfortunately faces many problems in this regard as men are constantly hitting on her or trying to go with her in dark corners, even if she has no interest in them in the first place. The only man who is willing to respect her and her space is Lord Orville, and he does not seem to care if she has a country or city upbringing.
However she also over the novel evolves and is more able to act for herself with out advice of her guardian Mr. Villars to determine which actions are right for her depending on the situation. Also, he is one of the few people who seems to understand the situation that she has been put in within London and with her family. It seems that those that don’t understand her would rather than hit on her or just be a nuisance to those around them. Captain Miravan is constantly pulling pranks on others, Clement Willoboughy will act one way while talking behind one’s back, and Mr. Smith just reminds me of the English version of casanova. While, the Braghton’s just seem to not be cultured and are oblivious to any negative behavior due to being of a different class. However, I through out this novel has sort of known how Evelina has been feeling as I look for a job and try to figure out the next couple months, it has come to a point in my life, where if I plan to far in the future I feel like I will have a panic attack. Also I can relate to the constant interruptions, one of my relatives is planing to visit in a couple weeks and am not looking forward to it. I think this person is doing it to make up for a bad trip last Christmas. But I don’t know how this will ratify the situation. Also, I honestly don’t want this person to see our house and lives in chaos even if they may be used to chaos. I just wish they could wait tell next summer, when our lives are more calmer. I know this has some relevance to Evelina but it has been bugging me for the past week. Also I will do a part two for Evelina since this has turned out to be mostly summary, so more analysis to come in the next post.

chocolate war…a battle over more than chocolate

I just finished the novel “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier and I have to say I am not sure I understand why it is has been banned in some libraries. I noticed that their were some implicit sexual references or the extensive violence in some scenes but I am sure that most kids have seen worse on television compared to this book. Also I think that this book had a good lesson once one gets passed the manipulation and the politics within the school. The lesson being I guess that one person can make a difference or have a impact on others just by speaking up against those who want them to sell chocolates. The only problem with this lesson is that speaking up comes at a price (spoiler alert) which is shown when Jerry almost dies by the end of the novel .However, I think even the politics of the vigils and administrator and the manipulating of others is realistic with the focus on who has the power and who does not is probably seen through out high schools and colleges.

But even with this battle of wills and power I think that Jerry shows us the every man. He like everybody surrounding him is just trying to get by and survive. Also he wants to see if his life has any meaning or if he will have any effect on people. I think this something most adults or teenagers are dealing with at some point in their life. He just wants to know that he has made a difference. I think that the reader faces the opposite problem with Archie. Archie always knows how to have an effect on someone else.
Archie gives us an in-depth look into the high school version of Machiavelli who always seems to knows his opponents next move and how to control them. He manipulates Emile with a fake photograph of him jacking off, he has others taunt Jerry through calling his house constantly, and he makes Goober feel terrible for unscrewing the desks and chairs in a instructors room. He is able to psychological toy with all of these men, with no consequence to him at all other than occasional feelings on ennui that he might not be able to come up with an assignment to initiate new teenagers to go through this pain to join the Vigils. I would feel bad for him but I think at this point that is like asking me to feel bad about the wicked witch of the west. Also Archie and Leon in way sort of symbolize in way how the world works those that the have the power can control others and their lives and those that don’t just have to work hard and hope to move up in the world. I am sure their are exceptions to this generalization, Archie just does not give a reader much hope.
Also on a tangential note I can relate with how Jerry feels not know if you are ever making a difference at all. Never sure if you are being manipulated or who you should trust and call a “friend”. I think we all need people like Goober in our lives who will stick with you through the good and bad in your life.

The lack of female roles in stardust

I recently finished reading Stardust a couple weeks ago and I noticed that the females in this novel are lacking in notice and attention. I state this because in the beginning of the book their is very little mention of Dunstan’s wife or Tristan’s sister. Furthermore when Tristan leaves Wall these characters are never mentioned again. This is shown also with Una who is just used to procreate with Tristan and is not able to gain a strong female role until the end of the book. Additionally, women face further stigmatization through the three old witches in the book that remind me of the witches from Macbeth. These women show a portrayal of women that do not want to be old and are wanting to achieve societies standards of youth and beauty. This motif is also seen through Yvaine who is literally captured by Tristan to do as he pleases to bring her back to Victoria.

(spoiler alert) While, I know in the end that Una and Yvaine end up being Queens of stormhold to make up for their lack of power earlier in the novel, I am not sure that it justifies Una being a slave worker and Yvaine being dragged everywhere by Tristan. I know that the point of this novel is for Tristan to find himself and become a man, I just that these women were not left out in the process. Also Yvaine and Una face further stigmatization being in the land of Fraerie and a sort of racism since there seems to be some prejudice towards the people of Faerie this shown as during the fall the people from wall will never by their goods from a market fair. I do not think this fair as there should be mutual trading and benefits between the people of wall and the land of Faerie.