Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sweep: Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan (review)

I wanted to like Book of Shadows, the first book in the Sweep series by Cate Teirnan, but I couldn't. Don't get me wrong there were a few things I liked about it, but unfortunately very few.

The story is about a teenage girl named Morgan Rowlands who meets a mysterious new boy on the first day of school name Cal Blaire. Cal is an extremely, good looking friendly boy who instantly becomes popular. He decides to have a party (complete with alcohol) and says that he's invited nearly all the upperclassman. Yet only about twenty kids show up.

This was the first part that was unrealistic. My kids once threw a party and there was rumor that alcohol was going to be at my house. Word spread to three different schools and dozens of kids planned on attending. It's also hard to believe that only 20 kids would show up to a party thrown by the most popular kid in school.

At this party Cal announces that he's a Wiccan witch and is inviting everyone to celebrate Mabon by doing a circle. Half the kids are intrigued and the other half think he's a freak and leave. We learn later that Cal's parents are Wiccan and his mother is a High Priestess. Because of this Cal thinks he's advanced enough to train and initiate his friends into Wicca. He wants all of them to form a coven together. I found Cal to be unlikable, a know-it-all, and seemed to have a cult leader feel about him. At the circle ritual Morgan banishes "limitations" and this opens her up to her new found magickal abilities.

Morgan is at first terrified of her new abilities but curiosity gets the best of her and she decides to start studying Wicca. She frequents a magickal store in a nearby town. There she is told that she is a "blood witch" and given a book about the Seven Clans of witches that form the basis of Wicca and have been at war for the last two thousand years. Later, this same clerk asks her which clan she is from. In Tiernan's world of Wicca, these Seven Clans make up the history of Wicca. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that these Seven Clans are a set up to pit the good guys against the bad guys for the rest of the series.

What I did like about the book was that Morgan's internal and external conflicts about becoming a witch. She was both awed and frightened about the new way she was looking at the world. Her experience was very mystical and mature. All of this was beautifully written and I could certainly relate to Morgan's experience being awakened to the depth and beauty of nature.

What I couldn't relate to was the never ending melodramatic teenage angst of the story. Both Morgan and her best friend end up falling for Cal. They go from being best friends to catty love sick girls. Both declaring that Cal is their soul mate. I know, I know, this IS how teenage girls think. I was a teenager once but now I am a 34 year old woman. Next month I will be 35, and according Carl Jung that is middle aged. I want to read about lovesick thirty-something witches, not teenage ones.

I also had a problem with Morgan's sudden state of enlightenment at the very end. Mystics meditate for decades in order to feel a complete oneness with the universe. Morgan was able to feel it after being to a couple circles? That was a bit hard to swallow.

Will I read more books in the series? Maybe. After reading the blurbs on the back of them I do know Morgan is tempted to use dark magick via the influence of the cult-like Cal. I have a feeling some jealous lovesick girls are going to use magick to get even. That would certainly be interesting. But I don't know if I can stomach more teenage angst.

My rating: Photobucket It was okay.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (review)

There is not I single thing that I don't like about Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book was funny, real, and had some amazingly spiritual moments. It had insights that made me want to take out a highlighter so I could refer back to them again and again.

The characters in this book are all so full and realistic. I've read books like this where the writer wrote about the forest but we never get much of an idea about the trees. Gilbert writes about individual people in each of the countries. What's even more unique is how she writes about the foreigners in each country. So although she only visits three countries, you really get a global cultural experience.

I've read that this book is highly controversial because Elizabeth starts the book off by leaving her husband. People are furious that she broke his heart. I think she did the right thing. Her husband wanted a child. She did not. The more selfish thing would have been to bring an unwanted child into the world simply to make her husband happy. The kindest thing she could have done (and did do) is divorce him so her could find a woman who was willing to start a family.

I think people who get upset because Elizabeth left her marriage then traveled around the world are simply jealous because they can't do that. I know because I am one of them. I am a single mother of four. I fantasize about running away to exotic lands to have adventures but I can't do it. I have four kids to raise. Yes I am jealous but that doesn't mean I take it out a woman who was fortunate enough to live out her dream. Instead, I relish every moment in the book and live vicariously through her.

This book is an example of extreme self-care. In this society, it's okay to spend thousands of dollars on cars, houses, and stuff that you can't afford, as well as work a million hours and ignore your family to get that money, but as soon as you declare that you want to live only for yourself suddenly you become the selfish one. What Elizabeth did was not selfish. It was an act of extreme self-care. There's a huge difference. If you read the entire book you realize how unselfish she actually becomes. In the end, the trip becomes about what she can do for other people. If all someone can do is take away from this book is how to be selfish, then frankly they missed the point in the first place.

The point is that finding yourself and finding God is a solitary journey. No one can do either for you. My rating: Photobucket

Movie review possibly coming soon. I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to see the movie since almost every review says it doesn't do the book justice.