Friday, March 29, 2013

National Pet Month

Animals are pretty awesome. Statement. No need to even ask your opinion because if you don’t like animals, then I don’t like you. Seriously, you probably don’t have a soul. Well April is National Pet Month, so for the occasion, I read Oogy: the dog only a family could love by Larry Levin.

Oogy is the story of a beautiful puppy who was used as bait for fighting dogs and overcame it to become an amazing family member to one lucky family. Oogy was found with half a face because, as a bait dog, another dog attacked and mutilated him. He was a puppy taken to the animal ER and expected not to make it out, but with the help of committed doctors and staff, this resilient puppy returned to health. What is truly extraordinary about Oogy’s story is that even though the dog had obviously been through traumatizing experiences at the hands of humans, he was gentle, loving, and friendly to everyone he met. Never did he snap or show resistance to anyone or anything he came in contact with. Oogy went to a home with the Levins where he thrives. Not only is he a remarkable animal, but he found a remarkable home with people who love him like a son/brother.

Oogy’s story is inspirational. To think that an animal would still trust and love humans after his ordeal is mind boggling. That is the part of the story I loved. Do you think a human could do that? The Levins spoil Oogy and for good reason. To them, he is not just a pet, he’s an individual who has seen and felt more hurt than anyone deserves, and he is a member of the Levin family. At points I felt the level to which Larry went with his pet was a bit overboard, but I’d try to remind myself that Oogy is more of a son to them than a pet. This was not a spectacularly written book and I found myself getting frustrated at chapters that were not about Oogy, but considering the book is barely 200 pages, I skimmed through it pretty quickly.

I recommend skimming through this book. Read the chapters about Oogy because he is an amazing animal and his story is sadly rare. Not many fighting dogs have happy endings. Luckily, this one does.

If you enjoyed this story here are some other suggestions

  •  Dewey: the small town library cat who touched the world by Vicky Myron
  •  The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s dogs and their tale of rescue and redemption by Jim Gorant
  • A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Wind in the Door

In second grade, my very bestest friend, also named Kristin (the reason we became besties), had our teacher read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle aloud to us. Now Kristin is a very smart cookie. She was way ahead of me and a voracious and sophisticated reader ahead of her time. At the age of 7/8, A Wrinkle in Time was a bit ahead of me, but I remember being thoroughly absorbed in it. I reread the book a few years ago and am astonished that it was read to me at 7. It’s kind of intense! Well I decided I really wanted to finish the series because it’s a classic and I love the titles.

A Wind in the Door is the second book in the Time series. Charles Wallace, the youngest of the Murry siblings has just started school and is coming home bloodied and bruised because he doesn’t fit in. Now he is seeing dragons and starting to get very sick. Meg, his older sister, soon discovers the “dragon” as well and is taken on a journey with Calvin O’Keefe and a few new arrivals through the universe and into the mitochondirion of Charles Wallace. This is a journey to save Charles Wallace’s life and help dispose of a force so hateful that it seeks to extinguish all life.

The Time series is most certainly science fiction. The Murry parents are both scientists, and a lot of the extraordinary things that happen to the children revolve around science and different discoveries the parents are currently making. Although I am thrown off by science-y science fiction (chemistry and physics you allude me yet again!), this book was not out of my comprehension. I mean it is for children, so I would hope it wouldn’t be over my head. I kept waiting for the children to go somewhere out of this world and it wasn’t until about half way through the book that they finally left God’s green earth. In this I was frustrated because I was impatiently waiting for more to come. My expectations were not met with a whole new universe until the book was about half done. Then the problem became that events got melodramatic. Maybe I’m too old to be reading this book, but the way Meg interacted with the other characters and the level of drama annoyed me. There was too much explanation on top of panic and confusion. Everything got jumbled together and it felt like we were rushing to get to the end.

Although I still think it’s a well written classic, it was not my favorite. I will finish the series and I do highly recommend Ms. L’Engle for children who love science or science fiction. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Fitzwilliam Darcy Novel

Fitzwilliam Darcy, a man who has been speculated about, revered, and loved throughout the ages, finally gets his own take on the action of Pride and Prejudice. In Pamela Aidan’s trilogy, including An Assembly Such as This, Duty and Desire, and These Three Remain, we encounter Darcy’s mind and heart on what is happening during the period of P&P.

Having read the first novel, An Assembly Such as This, a few years ago, I was a bit lost on what happened, but it wasn't too hard to catch up in Duty and Desire given this is based on my favorite novel. Duty and Desire starts at the “silent period”, as I've heard it referred to, in P&P where Bingley and Darcy leave Hertfordshire and are not seen for a bit of time. Well now we hear what Darcy was up to.

Darcy goes to Pemberly to visit his sister and see how she’s progressing after the unfortunate incident with Wickham. He finds her altered for the better and becoming a fine young woman. Darcy, himself, feels the need to exercise Elizabeth Bennett out of his system and thus accepts an invitation to an old college friend’s gathering at his estate. While at this gathering, Darcy decides he must seriously start wife hunting and thus sets his eyes on the women at the party. Lady Sylvanie, the stepsister of the host, soon catches his eye with her fairy like looks and mysterious past. What started as a mere gathering of old acquaintances soon turns upon its side. The host, Sayer, is in financial trouble and on the edge of ruin. Darcy’s cousin’s fiancĂ© is overly attentive to Darcy’s person, and an afternoon excursion to a local spot turns sinister. Soon Darcy finds himself in the middle of a mystery and events that can only be described as from a gothic novel.

I was utterly surprised by the turn this novel took. Not in the least did I expect this would take a Gothic twist or that Mr. Darcy would be embroiled in such events. That’s certainly not what I’m sure anyone thought would happen when Darcy was separated from the Bennetts. I think I spent most of the buildup going “no this isn't where Aidan’s taking this novel. She wouldn't turn all Mysteries of Udolpho on us!”. She did. Although it was a turn from Austen’s form of story and writing (outside of the parody in Northranger Abbey), it was intriguing. I cannot say I preferred it to the regular line of Regency drama however. Social graces and foibles are the usual and I missed that.

Aidan gives Darcy a passionate, yet reasonable character who shows affection to those he loves and forethought on his actions. However, this trilogy has left me bored and waiting at points. I want more out of them than what Aidan offers.

I suggest this trilogy for those of you who enjoy Pride and Prejudice and all things Austen and would love to hear how others perceive Aidan’s drawing of Darcy’s character. I will finish the trilogy because the ending is my favorite part and now I must know Darcy’s take on the events that occur.