Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

Rating:
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 19/20
Writing: 19/20
Recomendation: 20/20
Overall: 98/100 or A+
Source: Library


Summary- Twelve-year old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.


But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.


When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic… and her life.

Review- I decided to start this series on a whim. The title, Eon, always drew my attention somewhat when I was browsing the teen section at the library, but other than that I was never particularily attracted to the book. The other day my mom was on her way to the library to check out some audio-books (she is awfully fond of them) and asked if there was anything I would like. Besides the books I had already planned on checking out, Eon popped into my mind. So I added it to the list, one of the better book choices I have ever made. 😉

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn was an extremely enjoyable read. The plot was completely enthralling and the East Asian astrology truly had me mystified at times. Alison Goodman is one of those YA authors that I had never heard of until reading one of her books. She definitely proved her skills while creating the world of Eon. Her commendable writing prowess can be even further enjoyed by reading a few of her other books.

The aspects that I particularily enjoyed while reading were the inclinations of women’s freedom and rights. Eon, or Eona I should say, was a determined and strong female who was forced to disguise herself as a guy if she wished to be succesful in the world. She even resorted to drugs in some cases to supress her femininity. While this worked, it also suppressed her abilities to call her dragon, the Mirror Dragon. The Mirror Dragon is the only female dargon of the twelve celestial dragons and is the most powerful. While females were forbidden to become Dragoneyes, the Mirror Dragon was lost. The Mirror Dragon is such named because it’s true name is the same as its Dragoneye.

When Eona was chosen by the Mirror Dragon she was unable to fully connect with it because she wouldn’t accept her true name, Eona, instead of Eon. The story continued to describe her continued suppression of her femininity and dragon. At the end of the book, a marvelous event occured. Eona accepted her true self. This was an act of great strength. She fully bonded with her dragon and became the true Mirror Dragoneye. I believe this is a message to women telling them not the be pushed down by social constraints and that their only true power lies in accepting their true selves.

As I mentioned earlier, Eon was a greatily enjoyable read. I am truly glad I had the whim to read it. I hope to pursue this series doggedly until its end and read some of Alison Goodman’s other work. 😉

http://www.alisongoodman.com.au/

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Sometimes the task of reviewing a book can be quite daunting. This could be great for the book, or it could express the readers ill-favor. Sometimes though, the reader may just be at a loss of words as to how to begin. This is an obviously tough predicament for the reviewer but if books were alive, I’m sure they would be flattered. Finding words to describe the particular complexity of certain literature is a task that must not be taken lightly, especially when reviewing William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. There is a quote out there in the world of literature that I can understand.

“Some books should be tasted,
Some devoured,
But only a few
Should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
-Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Lord of the Flies is truly a book that should only be “chewed and digested thoroughly.” The content is not lightly absorbed and the symbolism can be subtle to discern. I was completely enthralled while wrapping my mind around William Golding’s allegory. Lord of the Flies is not just a fantastic story but also leaves the reader with a powerful moral that is truly iconic. To grasp what I am trying to impart, and if you have not had the chance to read it yet, an overview of Lord of the Flies may be sufficient.

The story takes place in the midst of a raging war, where a plane evacuating a group of schoolboys from Britain is shot down over a deserted tropical island. Two boys, Ralph and Piggy, find a conch shell on the bottom of a lagoon which they use to call an assembly. The boys who arrive range from young, aimless children or “littl’uns” to older, more tempermental “bigg’uns.” Jack, the clever leader of a boys choir attempts to secure a position for himself as Chief but Ralph takes the position by popular vote. Jack assumes leadership over his choir as hunters. Together the boys try to build a simple society in which to coexist until rescue arrives. Their attempts were disastrous.

The theme of Lord of the Flies attempts to trace the flaws and defects of society back to the flaws of human nature. The moral of the book is that the condition of a society must depend on the ethical nature of it’s individuals and not on a political system, no matter how perfect or foolproof it may seem. The attempted society portrayed in Lord of the Flies is an excellent example of this. The boys were unable to coexist peacefully for an extended time because their ego’s would not allow it. They fell apart and degraded into savagery.

The “Lord of the Flies” is a translation of the Hebrew word, Ba’alzevuv, which roughly means devil or Satan. In Golding’s book, the satanic forces that compel the shocking events on the island come from within the human psyche rather than from an external, supernatural realm. A lack of spiritual motivation and an overpowering domination of Ego was prevalent among all the boys on the island, except perhaps Simon, who was very morally inclined. This led to the collapse of their society because without God/Spirit, man is truly evil when left to their own devices.

The emergence of this concealed wildness is the very theme of the book. One of the boys, Piggy is the intellectual of the story. The fact that he wears spectacles is of great importance to the symbolic plot. Later on, when his spectacles shatter, it marks the progressive decay of rational thought as the story progresses. The struggle between Ralph, who is the representative of civilization and government, and Jack, whose Ego is much more evident than Ralph’s and who is a good representative of anarchy on the island is also a struggle in society on a much larger scale.

Among the many symbolic moments in Lord of the Flies, one stood out largely for me, the killing of the sow. It was a very important part of the plot because it marked a turning point in the condition of the boy’s society. The symbolism of the act was that the drive or emotions the boys felt while slaying the sow was symbolic for sexual intercourse.  It was in all ways amoral and was a great portrayal of the Devil/Ego.

The pigs head was cut off and skewered upon a stick (sharpened at both ends) which was jammed in a crack in the earth. The boys stared in awe as they watched the flies gather around the leering head which was dubbed “Lord of the Flies.” Once the boys had been fully immersed in savagery they planned to kill Ralph toward the end of the book. The death planned for Ralph involved a stick sharpened at both ends. Grim thought eh? 😉

Although the killing of the sow was greatly symbolic in Lord of the Flies, it only laid the groundwork for the most deeply symbolic incident. Simon was greatly affected by the skewered head and seemed to be having a conversation with it in the book. The “Lord of the Flies” explained to Simon, in his heightened perceptions, that he was a part of Simon, as he was of all the boys, and was the cause of the distress among them. Simon eventually loses consciousness and imagines he is looking into a vast mouth. The blackness spread and encompassed Simon’s entire vision just before he lost consciousness. This mouth is the symbol of the ravenous and unreasoning Devil/Ego conquering Simon.

Eventually, the boys on the island are rescued by a naval officer who disrupts the man-hunt for Ralph. This is where the book ends with the boys being saved. Lord of the Flies was one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever had the chance to read. I am grateful to have successfully discerned it’s symbolism and understood its moral. The collapse of a society can only be halted through an acceptance of God or Love. The true nature of humanity, without this force, is inherently evil and will cause the collapse of the most respectable civilizations. This is a great read for those who welcome deep thinking. 😉

-Ival Ty Crisp

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Rating:
Characters: 17/20
Plot: 19/20
Originality: 18/20
Writing: 19/20
Recomendation: 20/20
Overall: 93/100 or A-
Source: Library

Summary: Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable–until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason transporting from the hippo tank into a strange, imperiled world.


Lyrian is full of dangers and challenges unlike any place Jason has ever known. The people live in fear of their malicious wizard emperor, Maldor. The brave resistors who once opposed Maldor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.


In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

Review: This is the second series of Brandon Mull’s that I have read. I gotta say, I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Fablehaven, his first series, was very satisfying but there is something even more appealing about Beyonders. The world of Lyrian was a great work of art even though I wish a map was included with the the book. The chraracters were well placed in plot and were very crucial to the developing storyline.

I believe that Brandon Mull has a thing for betrayals, especially the ones you never see coming. Fablehaven included multiple betrayals and apparently the Beyonders series will be no different. I was actually shocked to discover the emergement of a false loyalty. I shant say much more, I wouldn’t want to spoil a good read. 😉

Overall, I thouroughly enjoyed Beyonders: A World Without Heroes. It was satisfying and wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be. Well… Mostly. Beyonders is a trilogy so I look forward to reading and reviewing the next two installments. Book two is supposedly going to be titled Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion. Much can be forshadowed from this. 😉

http://brandonmull.com/

Call of the Sea

One of those good men of the sea
I know that I will never be.

The sea that whispers in my ear
The sea that I can never hear.

Not even one made from my bone
A ship that I will never own.

I am asleep, awake I must
But I cannot for I am dust.

That yesteryear I met my end
Something that will never mend.

By the sea I have been led
To yearn from my eternal bed.

One of those good men of the sea
I know that I was not to be.

-Ival Ty Crisp

Fallen Dreams

My dreams are lined up, upon a wall
One by one they begin to fall
They land with a crash
on my head with a bash
And I begin to feel not so tall

But then I remember not to despair
For life ahead of me is many a stair
I collect my dreams
Stitched back at the seams
And venture out again but with great care

Hope has returned to the depths of my heart
My reason to live is no longer tart
I gather my wits
Though they are in bits
And climb up the wall, as fast as a dart

-Ival Ty Crisp

Abarat by Clive Barker

Rating:
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 19/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 20/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 99/100 or A+
Source: Library

Summary: Once upon a world, where time is place, a journey beyond imagination is about to unfold. . . . It begins in the most boring place in the world: Chickentown, U.S.A. There lives Candy Quackenbush, her heart bursting for some clue as to what her future might hold.

When the answer comes, it’s not one she expects. Out of nowhere comes a wave, and Candy, led by a man called John Mischief (whose brothers live on the horns on his head), leaps into the surging waters and is carried away.

Where? To the ABARAT: a vast archipelago where every island is a different hour of the day, from The Great Head that sits in the mysterious twilight waters of Eight in the Evening, to the sunlit wonders of Three in the Afternoon, where dragons roam, to the dark terrors of Gorgossium, the island of Midnight, ruled over by the Prince of Midnight himself, Christopher Carrion.

As Candy journeys from one amazing place to another, making fast friends and encountering treacherous foes–mechanical bugs and giant moths,miraculous cats and men made of mud, a murderous wizard and his terrified slave–she begins to realize something. She has been here before.

Candy has a place in this extraordinary world: she is here to help save the Abarat from the dark forces that are stirring at its heart. Forces older than Time itself, and more evil than anything Candy has ever encountered.

She’s a strange heroine, she knows. But this is a strange world.

And in the Abarat, all things are possible.

Review: The imaginative world of Abarat has found a spot in my heart and has nestled deep down, never to be forgotten. “One of the best, most amazing books I’ve ever read”, is something I say about only a few really good books. This is most definitely one of them, no doubts. As you can see, I gave it a very high rating, nearly perfect. It certainly deserves it.

After reading Abarat, I have become a great fan of Clive Barker. His mastery of literature rivals his beautiful and very imaginative illustrations. It is a truly gorgeous book, strange and very appealing artwork adorning nearly every other page, encouraging the reader onward with the story. A true work of art.

I have always believed that the ultimate fantasy is a fantasy that appeals to every emotion of the reader. Wonder and excitement yet also hatred and disgust are prevalent throughout the plot of Abarat. Hearing this might cause some people to be overly hesitant about reading it, but it should not be the case. Fantasies are where readers will lose themselves in strange new worlds. Without all emotions, those pleasant and those unpleasant, the world will feel hollow for the reader. The fantasy will no longer be a fantasy. Fortunately, I found the world of Abarat to be one of the most fantastical and mind-capturing worlds I have ever delved into. Absolutely amazing. 😉

Abarat is the first of The Books of Abarat series, a supposed quintet. The next installment is titled Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War. Look for my review in the future, I will definitely be keeping my eye on this series. 😉 

http://www.clivebarker.info/

Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull

Rating:
Characters: 19/19
Plot: 20/20
Originality: 19/19
Writing: 18/20
Recommendation: 20/20
Overall: 96/100 or A
Source: Library

Summary: After many centuries of plotting, the Sphinx–leader of the Society of the Evening Star– is after the final artifacts needed to open the great demon prison, Zzyxx. Kendra, Seth, and the Knights of the Dawn are in a race to strange and exotic preserves across the globe in an effort to intercept the final artifacts. The stakes have never been higher. The risks have never been more deadly as the forces of light and darkness collide at last.
Review: Wow, what a way to end the series! Brandon Mull must be proud of his masterpiece because I’m sure many readers were absolutely satisfied with this fifth and final book. I certainly was. 😉 The ever building excitement of the series reached it’s climax and blew away all doubts of a weak ending. I wouldn’t want to give anything away to those unlucky ones who haven’t had the chance to read Fablehaven yet, so I won’t say too much more. 
I was hyped up and also kind of melancholy after finishing the series. It definitely earned a place in my heart along with a few other memorable reads. I will look onward with continued passion as the author’s next series The Beyonders captures my attention. I have loved reading Fablehaven and I am sure will enjoy it again and again in the future. Thank you, Brandon, for a much wanted dose of inspiration.

Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull

Rating: 
Characters: 20/20
Plot: 19/20
Originality: 19/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 19/20
Overall: 96/100 or A
Source: Library
 
Summary: Brace yourself for a shocking secret. Two hidden artifacts have been found. Three more remain unrecovered. More preserves face destruction as the Society of the Evening Star relentlessly pursues new talismans. Reading in Patton’s Journal of Secrets, Kendra learns the location of the key to a vault housing one of the artifacts. In order to retrieve it, the Knights of the Dawn must enter a death trap a dragon sanctuary called Wyrmroost. The mission cannot proceed without stealing a sacred object zealously guarded by the centaurs. Anybody seen Seth? The race is on to acquire all five of the artifact keys to the great demon prison. Will the Knights of the Dawn conquer Wyrmroost? Who can stop the Sphinx? Can Vanessa be trusted to help? What artifact will be found next?
Review: The Fourth book of the Fablehaven series has significantly more sustenance than the previous installments. The plot is more serious and events are beginning to heat up. I actually felt quite a bit of excitement while reading and there were times when I absolutely could not put the book down. The variety of magical creatures that Brandon Mull included was enormous. I enjoyed that factor. 
Overall, I could say that Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary was my favorite of the series, but it is immensely hard for me to choose favorites. I simply loved this book and can’t wait to review the next. Brandon Mull has a very endearing imagination that I am ever fond of. 

Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

Rating:
Characters: 18/20
Plot: 19/20
Originality: 20/20
Writing: 19/20
Recommendation: 19/20
Overall: 95/100 or A
Source: Library

Summary: Picking up where the last novel left off, Kendra and Seth are still at Fablehaven with their grandparents. Suspicions have been cast on the Sphinx and his loyalties. Kendra has been recruited as a Knight, and the family agrees that she should infiltrate with hopes of claiming the next artifact before the Sphinx can get to it. And Fablehaven is under attack by a mysterious darkness that is spreading extremely fast. Can Seth and the rest of his family and friends discover the cause and stop it before all of Fablehaven is lost?
Review: Arguably the darkest book of the series, Grip of the Shadow Plague sure gripped my attention. 😉 I enjoyed this addition to the story of Seth and Kendra Sorenson more than the last two. I agree that the plot was probably the best part of book, subtly hinting at what is to come in future books. I absolutely loved the introduction of the Centaurs as they are exactly portrayed as in my imagination. The writing is as solid as ever and Brandon Mull’s top-notch imagination supports his endearing originality. Excellent. 😉

True Life

  A muse has bestowed upon me the gift of an insight and after much pondering I am ready to write about it. 😉 I haven’t posted anything philosophical or spiritual for a while as most of my recent musings have been more of the internal, reflective type. That still really isn’t much of an excuse for not sharing. I believe that I should express myself and share what my developing consciousness has to offer because if not, how could I ever be true about myself? After struggling with the words to begin, I am finally ready.

Life as we know it is an illusion.

An awesome way to start, right? It seems so dramatic, I love it. 😉 Actually in truth, it’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. I am not going to talk about aliens imprisoning humans and placing us in computer created alternate realities just so they can eat us later. Nothing quite so Matrix-y. Although what I do have to say is still pretty serious. Our comprehension of life is definitely flawed. Humans have allowed their minds to triumph over the true joy of living. Most of us are possessed by our egos, the voice in our heads that is constantly in conflict with life. Who would have ever thought that we may be thinking about life too much instead of actually living it?

We humans live a seemingly complex life. I stress ‘seemingly’ because life is in fact simple. We view the very essence of our existence as though it was bagged down by constant constraints and complications. In reality, it’s all in our minds. So no more worries, right? For most people, life is the persistent struggle of gaining and losing. We try to reach some form of fulfillment or satisfaction through our power or possessions. Our struggles are futile. We will never feel fulfilled and will constantly seek more as a means to remedy our feeling of being incomplete. This is because material possessions and delusions of power cannot complete us. They are mental baggage and slowly pollute our Spirit. Only living in harmony with life, and not fighting it, will we be fulfilled and experience true joy, not the illusion we are familiar with.

The central goals of Buddhism are to achieve Nirvana (spiritual enlightenment) and to eliminate suffering. Suffering means that pain is inevitable in life. Birth is painful, sickness is painful, aging is painful, and death is painful. It is painful to experience unhappiness and displeasure; it is painful to want something and not be able to have it; it is painful to have something and lose it; it is painful when a pleasurable experience ends. This is suffering, the conflict our ego constantly puts us through. It does not accept the inevitable pain of life and constantly fights it, causing us to suffer.

If you have finally just realized that you have suffered your entire life, than you are probably in a pretty pessimistic mood right now. But never fear! Suffering is of the ego, but the ego is not of awakened life. 😉 This means there is a way to eliminate suffering and truly experience the joy of life through achieving Nirvana, awakening, or reconnecting with God.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism are a way of approaching suffering. They are as followed:

1. Life means suffering.
 2. The origin of suffering is attachment (ego).
 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable (Nirvana) (God)
 4. The path to the cessation of suffering (Eight-fold Noble Path)

The Eight-fold path is the path to end suffering- a gradual path of self improvement and finding God. It is as followed:

1. Correct thought: avoiding covetousness, the wish to harm others and wrong views (like thinking: actions have no consequences, I never have any problems, there are no ways to end suffering etc.)
 2. Correct speech: avoid lying, divisive and harsh speech and idle gossip.
 3. Correct actions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct
 4. Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions.
 5. Correct understanding: developing genuine wisdom.
 (The last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation:)
 6. Correct effort: after the first real step we need joyful perseverance to continue.
 7. Correct mindfulness: try to be aware of the “here and now”, instead of dreaming in the “there and then”.
 8. Correct concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind.

Nirvana is not a place like heaven, but rather an eternal state of being. I consider it to be another name for God, Goddess, Spirit, Love, etc. It is the end of suffering; a state where there are no desires, and individual consciousness comes to an end. Realization that we are all one spirit connected through God arises. Attaining nirvana is to relinquish clinging, hatred, and ignorance. Its achievement entails full acceptance of imperfection, impermanence, and interconnectedness. It is true life. 😉

In my opinion, one of the most beautiful moments of life is when somebody finds that the truth they were searching for has been inside of them the whole time. Their heart is their own temple and they discovered it through their own means. They are truly on the path to uniting with God/Christ. I find that more and more of humanity are becoming aware that God or Spirit are much more a part of their lives than imaginable. This realization can come from inside AND outside of religion. In fact, many people are turning away from religion as a whole. This does not necessarily mean that they are Godless or sinful, just that they wish to discover truth in their own, more personal way. They wish to be free from dogma and pursue a more intimate relationship with their creator.

As more and more people accept and discover spirituality, the collective consciousness of humanity rises. Spiritually enlightened humans are becoming more frequent. God IS being discovered, even if it seems unlikely at times. As the grip of the ego lessons just the slightest among us, it will try even harder to corrupt our spirits before it is truly diminished. And someday it will be diminished. I guess it could also be considered the return of Christ, depending your beliefs.

Humanity is definitely on a path, collectively and individually. It is up to each individual to accept their part in the interconnected web of life and discover Spirit/Love in their own way. It is up to humanity as a collective whole to rise up and Ascend to a new plain of consciousness, to coexist harmoniously, and to eliminate the unnecessary suffering that constituted a false life. It is up to us, yet it is our choice to seek God and true life.

-Ival Ty Crisp