Tag Archives: Life

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Life, Sex, and Death – A Poetry Collection,” BY AUTHOR @TooFullToWrite

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  • Title:  Life, Sex, and Death – A Poetry Collection (Vol 1)
  • Author: David Ellis
  • File Size: 421 KB
  • Print Length: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Self-Published by author
  • Publication Date: January 30, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B01BB8XMW2
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Literature & Fiction, Poetry, Love Poems

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in return for an unbiased review which follows*

In the words of the Author:

“A collection of poetry spanning a variety of themes, with the dominant ones being Love & Romance, Inspiration and Philosophical musings.

Life, Sex & Death represents David’s first full-length collection of emotional contemporary poetry that celebrates time-honored themes and finds new and interesting ways to present them.

His work is uplifting, sensual and at times tries to connect on some base instinct level with the reader.

His style is distinctly his own yet in these pieces David evokes and echoes the playful spirit of his poetic heroes such as Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Leonard Cohen, Cecil Day-Lewis and modern musical contemporaries such as Nick Cave, The Kills, Chris Cornell, Katy Perry and even Weird Al Yankovic (yes, really!) to name but a few all feed the elective vision and vibes of his work.

He aims for Life, Sex & Death to be a trilogy and a triumph for modern poetry, accessible to a large number of age groups and one worthy of taking pride of place on any bookshelf.

Find your favourite poem today, be it filled with seriousness or off-beat humour.”

My Recommendation:

This collection of poems is one man’s written philosophical journey through life. The book is divided into three sections – Love/Romance, Philosophical, and Inspirational. I could not help wondering if this was the way the author’s own life meandered on a path to wisdom and understanding. Each poem contained a story that seemed to capture a life moment and hold it in suspension as if waiting for us to read and share in the experience for the first time.

Life lessons abound in this collection of prose filled with poetic visions and worldly advice. One of my favorite poems was called, “Pride can be a Sword.” The words extol a virtue of forgiveness and confidence in your own life path. Most meaningful to me were these words, “…The lives touched now have purpose – face your fears…”

This is just one example of how David Ellis’ words reach out and grab you. His writing is down to earth and sometimes raw, exposing some welcome philosophical meanderings of my own.

Another favorite was called, “Modern Ragnarok.” For whatever reason this poem spoke and awakened something in the deep dark recesses of my mind. David Ellis writes:

“…Only the strongest tales survive

Built from foundations of flesh and bone

Azure oceans froth and writhe

Crashing wildly into the unknown

Bestowing a name to our pain

Ancient myths and prophecies

Retreating off this terrain

Fighting against past mistakes…”

Poetry and prose have a way of speaking to your heart and this is certainly the case with this collection. Sound and inflection are used to show a change in mood and to bring emphasis to meaning. It is the sound of the words, the alliteration, that always draws me in.

Of particular interest to me was the author’s love of acrostic poetry. This is where the first, last or other letters in a stanza spell out a particular word or phrase. David Ellis has created his own form which he lovingly calls his, “Acrostalyptica style,” which is evident in many of his works.

They say writing poetry frees your mind, and as a poet, you possess the creative ability to share your world reflections in a different light. This is what David Ellis’ style does. It leads the reader along as if telling a tale when in reality it is asking you to embrace your own experiences right along beside him.

The poetry of David Ellis is filled with empathy and compassion, wisdom and experience, all conspiring with your own emotions to bring you an insight you never had before. However, I also drew comfort, knowing David Ellis’ words shared in the joy and despair of life that we all experience. At times, I wondered if he read my mind.

I read these poems in a series of weeks, a few each night. The words are written to ponder and enjoy. Take your time and wander through life with David Ellis. I enjoyed the ride!

David Ellis

Author, David Ellis

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars

 

About David Ellis:

I’ve collaborated with poets internationally and edited poetry for a variety of people who constantly praise me for helping them to improve the flow and rhythm of their pieces.

My weapon of choice is humour and I use it as often as possible, as it gets me out of trouble. Think of me like the thriller genre in that I am fast paced, relentless and impossible to put down! I reside in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in the UK.

My website http://toofulltowrite.com contains creative advice for budding novelists and writers.

Make certain to connect with David through his Twitter @TooFullToWrite and Facebook at David Ellis (Toofulltowrite)

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 1122016

7 books to re-think Life by @FTThum

Book n coffee
My favourite things…

 

I question my life. It is what I do – not in a ‘my life sucks’ whiny way, but rather as a search for clarity and meaning, to better understand my words and deeds. And please don’t get me wrong, it is not done in an angst-filled manner either. It is reflective.

I realise I have read many books about living life… some I agreed with, others not so. All have made me pause and re-consider. These books are not ‘how-to’ books but rather books that provoke thoughts, reflection, evaluation…

I have selected 7 books from my bookshelf to share with you, in the order they were read by me to the best of my recollection 🙂 .

An aside, ever wondered why ‘7’ is so popular in Eastern and Western cultures? I have used ‘7’ because it is my favourite number. It is an auspicious number in Chinese culture symbolizing ‘togetherness’ and representing ‘yang’ or masculine energy.

Now, the books:

  1. The Road Less Travelled by M Scott Peck

This is a classic on confronting pain and suffering, and the significance of loving relationships.

  1. Unconditional Life by Deepak Chopra

Consolidating different disciplines from quantum physics to ancient traditions, this is an exposition of the impact of consciousness on our reality and in turn, our health and wellbeing.

  1. The Call by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

An excerpt of the poem, The Call, from the book:

I have heard it all my life,
A voice calling a name I recognized as my own.
 
Sometimes it comes as a soft-bellied whisper.
Sometimes it holds an edge of urgency.
 
But always it says: Wake up my love. You are walking asleep.
There’s no safety in that!

    4.  The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

What makes you happy? What makes you a true warrior, a champion in life? Whether you agree or not, it’s a different perspective worth considering.

  1. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart by Dr Gordon Livingstone

A collection of essays written by a psychiatrist, that is akin to ‘life lessons’. Definitely gets you thinking.

  1. Codes of Love by Mark Bryan

A look at the family and how it influences who we are, and how we are able to learn to re-connect with our loved ones, or gain deeper intimacy. Think your family’s normal? 😉

  1. The Good Life by Hugh Mackay

A social commentary on modern life, and in particular the Utopia complex we as a society and as individuals are buying into, by a modern philosopher. What makes a good life? A life worth living?

I hope you find little gems within the pages!

– FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

Florence 2

50 Shades – Storm in a Teacup a Woman’s Thoughts by @FTThum

50 shades of grey

I asked Florence to write a piece about 50 Shades of Grey since she had both read the books and seen the movie. With her therapist and lawyer/professor background I thought it would an interesting and intelligent experience for us all. Did it turn out as I expected? Read and find out. If you dare.~Ronovan

Fifty Shades of Grey (’50 Shades’) – trilogy and movie – have caused quite a storm in the media. Its critics have labelled it anti-feminist, for glorifying abuse and violence, for normalising domestic violence, and the list goes on.

In the wake of socio-political discourses rippling through social and news media, I (and eleven gal pals) went to see it on the second day after it was released.

50ShadesofGreyCoverArt

The story in a nut shell

A little about the trilogy and the movie for those who have not read or watched it. The trilogy is largely written in the first person – the voice of Anastasia Steele, the female protagonist, who is a twenty-something senior at university in the first book to a journalist in later books. Anastasia meets Christian Grey who is in his late twenties and a billionaire entrepreneur. There is a sexual spark in their first meeting which led to her being ‘pursued’ by the guy in question. What then transpires is open to interpretation (I will get to this shortly).

The movie follows the book closely, with a few inconsequential differences. As in the books, the plot is thin revolving around Christian’s past returning to haunt him and a typical separation and reunion of lovers. There are few heights to attain, except sexually J. This trilogy could have been contained in one book if the explicit sex scenes were removed, but then it would not be Fifty Shades, now would it?

The plot is simplistic – addressing the tension between the influences of the past on the present, and whether present lust and love can assure a future together; the conflict between what each of the protagonists consider right and wrong, normal and abnormal, pain and pleasure. Oft times, the boundaries are blurred, hence the grey metaphor. By the way, Christian describes himself as “50 shades of fucked up”.

Yes, it is a romance/fairytale, with a significant difference – a male protagonist with BDSM proclivities. Like any other romance, Christian Grey is ‘wooing’ Anastasia, except here, that means she is to ‘submit’ to him.

As a reader, I found the prose in the book lacking. Somehow I suspect EL James did not proffer the trilogy as a literary masterpiece. Then again, millions (around the 100 million mark internationally at last look) have bought this book. Why? Because most readers, I am led to believe, are focused on the emotional relationship instead of the sexual one between Christian and Anastasia. I found the trilogy an easy read, an enjoyable romp, and from these perspectives, entertaining.

The same goes for the movie. I did not go expecting the sensuality and mystery of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, neither was I expecting the arthouse production of ‘The Lover’, ‘Belle de Jour’ or ‘Sex and Lucia’. Fifty Shades is modern erotic romance/fairytale, pure and simple, with a screenplay very much in line with the first book in the trilogy. The actors are a surprise – Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of Anastasia is accurate though a little grittier. Jamie Dornan’s depiction of Christian – brooding, dark and with enough mystery to invite exploration – is attractive enough.

Overall, if I must, I will give this movie a 2 out of 5. And I guess if your child is sufficiently curious to want to see this movie, then perhaps it is time to begin those difficult and exciting conversations. It is unlikely to be suitable for those under the age of 16.

Now we come to the crux of this post – the controversy surrounding issues of abuse/violence.

Another interpretation

But first, AN interpretation of the storyline.

I see a man traumatized by his past, who exerts controls to feel safe and secure. I see a young woman naïve in the ways of love, sex and relationships who fell in love with a man who is perhaps too complex for her. He wants her on his terms (the much referred to contract to be specific) and takes steps to ensure she understands the terms, urging her to research and also explaining what and how. She in her innocence believes she could be what he wants, who could satisfy him, and that love can surpass every obstacle. There are emotional conflicts and moral tensions.

What I have said so far does not justify the potential harmful effects this relationship could have on Anastasia. Not at all. Yes, Christian could be a predator. Yes, Anastasia could be a victim. And yes, the relationship could be fatal.

‘The Storm’

50 Shades doing

What bothers me about the Storm are these:

  • As I read the many articles urging women, particularly young women, not to go see the movie because they would be drawn into romanticising abuse/violence, expecting violence to be ‘normal’, I feel disempowered. I feel angry.
  • As I read of pronouncements of the negative impacts of Christian’s behaviour, and his all-powerful and manipulative personality presented as a given, and against whom women have no defence and so must hide, I feel fear then infuriation.

Once again I, a woman, am being told to do this but not that, be this or else. Once again I, a woman, is considered incapable of caring for myself, to make decisions that are right for me. Once again I, a woman, need to be protected from my own actions.

And because I am potential prey, potential victim, then I must behave as one – disempowered and in fear.

In the name of protection, and dare I say it, paternalism is alive and well. Oh, just to clarify, I am not referring to men or male persons, but rather paternalism.

So not much exhortation of the behaviour of men in this respect. Much less empathy for a man in Christian’s situation. Yet lots have been said of what women (we are all Anastasia it would seem) should or should not do.

Take for example the movie ‘The Hangover’. I find it offensive in its portrayal of what is acceptable men behaviour, it normalizes binge drinking, drug taking, ‘lad’ behaviour and despite some criticisms (it is crass and has a rather thin plot line), the majority opinion falls onto the side of ‘boys will be boys’. Any calls for men not to watch this movie? Somehow the underlying message may be that men have and can make choices, or that it is fine for men to behave so. Regardless, it is just a hilariously funny comedy. Well, 50 Shades is a romance story with a twist. It does not agree with our consensus reality of (i) damsel in distress being rescued by the knight in shining armour or the all-powerful woman who fully knows her heart and mind; and (ii) ‘normal’ sexual expressions for a woman.

Heaven forbid that a woman desires sensuality. Is it shocking that a woman might choose to explore? To entertain the possibility of engaging in something beyond vanilla sex? To have emotional conflicts or doubts about a sexual relationship?  It is perhaps more palatable to explain this ‘aberrant’ behaviour from a place of victim than choice.

Here is a twenty-something young university graduate with a major in English Lit but somehow she cannot be responsible say, for her alcohol consumption vis-à-vis this man? Ok, that is not the point, maybe it is. We have at times in our lives been naïve, we have battled our emotions, our rational thoughts, our lust; and we have made decisions that are not for our well-being.

I am not perfect. It is alright to not-know, to grapple with my emotions, my desires, my rational mind. Yes, if Anastasia was my daughter, my protective instinct would have me say ‘stay away’ yet somehow, I suspect in the seduction of passion, my words may fall on deaf ears.

To demonize Christian as THE predator and to portray Anastasia as THE prey/victim do not allow space for the grey-ness that is life. Most importantly it suggests in this instance a given immovable power of men over women.

punishment

Another approach

I am a mother of a young daughter. I know to prohibit would most likely have the effect of arousing her curiosity. To prohibit imposes my values, my views on her. Most importantly, it disempowers her.

The books and the movie show the conflict Anastasia is confronted with, of having to decide ‘will she’ or ‘won’t she’. Ultimately what matters more is the process and what ‘tools’ she has to make this rather significant decision.

So, I will teach my daughter the difference between love and lust, romance and real life, sensuality and violence. I will teach her that to understand a man (or anyone) and the reasons for his flaws does not mean we have to accept them, that for everything we do sexually merely for the sake of sex, we lose something precious within ourselves. I will teach her to listen and trust her instincts.

I will guide my daughter as she discovers love does not require self-sacrifice or compromising her self-worth, her pride; love does not demand mindless giving in. I will journey with her in her life which will have conflicts and tensions she needs navigate, difficult decisions she will have to make.

And all these I will also teach my son – respect for self and others, self-love and compassion.

My daughter I trust could hold to this – to resist the decisions and consequences that make her small. To quote a wise woman, that which would cause her ‘to bonsai herself’ – small and bound. No pun intended here.

Perhaps the storm is a storm in a teacup, if we could speak another story, another narrative that unites rather than judges and separates.

My final words

As a professional woman of a certain age and a feminist who has read the trilogy and watched the movie, I will say that I enjoyed them all, for what they are.

This need not be just a story of BDSM and abuse/violence and a woman who fell prey to the ‘evil’ man, a victim. I will privilege a different narrative. It is a story of both protagonists’ journey of manoeuvring through the confusing states of being human – our desires, our wants, what’s good for us, what’s not, what do we value, what we are willing to compromise – and the outcome.

Ah, the outcome is like a fairytale. And like watching any fairytale, I leave with a smile and return to my real world.

I AM capable of distinguishing which is which.

 

– FlorenceT

Florence 2

@FTThum

MeaningsAndMusings.WordPress.Com

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#BookReview @FTThum – The Children Act by Ian McEwan

I had to read this book. Why? Because

  • I am a lawyer and am fascinated first by the title then its subject matter
  • I enjoy Ian McEwan’s writing
  • I am intrigued by the female protagonist, Fiona, a judge and a woman of a certain age

And the book delivered more than I had expected.

ian mcewan the children act review banner
Title:               The Children Act
Author:          Ian McEwan
Publisher:       Jonathan Cape, Random House, London ( September 2, 2014)
ISBN-10:        0224101994
ISBN-13:        978-0224101998
Website:         http://www.ianmcewan.com/bib/books/childrenact.html
Pages:             Hardback, 213 pages
Genre:           Fiction

What’s it about?

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.”

First, the title “The Children Act” refers to a piece of legislation in the UK which, in general, seeks to regulate local authorities and governmental entities in dealing with intervention in the interests of children.

Second, the protagonist, Fiona, is a female High Court judge, approaching the end of her sixth decade of life and potentially of her near 30 year old marriage.

Third, the child concerned, Adam, is an almost, but not yet, 18 year old male born and bred within the faith of Jehovah Witness.

In this relatively short book, Ian McEwan has woven a tale filled with conflicts and dilemmas.

“…Didn’t you once tell me that couples in long marriages aspire to the condition of siblings? We’ve arrived, Fiona. I’ve become your brother. It’s cosy and sweet and I love you, but before I drop dead, I want one big passionate affair.”

With this statement, Fiona’s marriage fractures. And soon after, she is confronted with the legal case involving Adam.

As Fiona struggles with the emotional upheaval, she is disturbed by the potential cliché of her marriage breakdown – that she, a highly intelligent woman with immense self-control, is nevertheless just a woman and susceptible to thoughts and actions, reminiscent of the parody of a woman ‘rejected’. The irony is the readers’ attention is also brought to the clichéd of Fiona’s life as a successful female judge – the cold, analytical, always busy, cultured and sophisticated childless woman. While this accomplished woman is reasonable and wise, she is also plagued by loneliness and shame. McEwan handles these conflicts with a deft hand, inviting much contemplation.

With the internal conflict of rediscovering a ‘new’ identity, Fiona is confronted with questions which cause me to lay the book down and ponder and wonder. This, for me, is the hallmark of a good book.

Who has the right to determine the life of an almost adult? The child’s parents, the religious elders, the medical profession, the law, a judge…the almost adult himself?

Is it ultimately about rights?

What is ‘evident’ truth? Is anything ever ‘evident’?

Is there such a thing as ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’? Can an act, such as Fiona’s decision, change the course of a life? Or does her later action reinforce the inevitability of destiny?

What is faith? What does it mean to the faith-ful? Who has the right to ‘remove’ someone’s faith, the meaning to a life? What is the consequence when no substitute is found for this faith?

Without faith, how open and beautiful and terrifying the world must have seemed to him…. she offered nothing in religion’s place, no protection, even though the Act was clear, her paramount consideration was his welfare… Welfare, well-being, was social.”

McEwan’s narrative is riveting, by the ability to convey so much with so few words. In essence, McEwan did not arrive at a triumph of science or the humanist perspective. Rather, the book highlights the fragility of human life, and how careful we must be to interfere with another’s well-ordered life.

A must-read, in my book :-).

 

Recommendation:
LWI Rating:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4.5/5
Recommended: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Buy it at:

Amazon Hardback USD 15.00
  Paperback USD 11.77
  Kindle USD 10.99
Bookdepository Hardback Euro 14.62
  Paperback Euro –
Booktopia Hardback AUD 20.95
  Paperback AUD –

 

– FlorenceT

Florence 2

 

 

 

@FTThum

 

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