“Eon” by Alison Goodman

I love this cover!
I love this cover!

I wanted something light and fun to read after The Great Gatsby and The Great Hunt. Something fantastical with a strong female protagonist. I considered returning to my first love, the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce, but I was tired of re-reading. I wanted to discover something new. As always, whenever I consider searching for a new book (meaning never yet read and not familiar with the author), trepidation overwhelms me and I cast around for reasons to remain in the comfort zone of those I’m familiar with. I love comfort. I hate disruption and surprises (most times). I like knowing what to expect. My greatest bibliophilic fear—reading a book I don’t like. I like to finish what I read but pushing through a story that I do not like is a torture that I would not inflict on anyone. Recently, I’ve started to come to terms with leaving a book half done if I can’t bear to continue with it. It’s great to step out of my comfort zone once in a while, though. Reading reviews of books, getting recommendations, and cover art help me to do so. Yes, cover art. Cover arts are tricksters. They pull you to the book and if they are really good, they trick you into believing that the story will be great as well. That’s what happened with Alison Goodman’s Eon. But the story was not horrid; it was good.

Quick summary:

Eon is about a girl masquerading as boy so that she can train in the arts of dragon magic. Set in a culture similar to the Chinese, Eon must work to become apprentice to one of the eleven Dragoneyes (masters) that are connected to the dragons: Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat. There are twelve dragons, each for a particular cardinal point, but the Dragon dragon has not been seen for several years and is believed to have disappeared. There is no Dragoneye for the Dragon dragon. Only males are allowed to train to become an apprentice and gain the title of Dragoneye, hence Eon’s disguise as a boy. At the time when Eon decides to compete for the position of apprentice, the Rat dragon is in ascendant. This occurs at the beginning of the year and the Dragoneye connected to the ascending dragon will be most powerful for that entire year. As luck would have it, Eon is almost picked as apprentice for the Rat dragon but things do not go as planned and something unexpected occurs.

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‘Taking the Ordinary and Making it Extraordinary’ — Edward Weston

by Edward Weston

“I have been photographing our toilet, that glossy enameled receptacle of extraordinary beauty. Here was every sensuous curve of the ‘human figure divine’ but minus the imperfections. Never did the Greeks reach a more significant consummation to their culture, and it somehow reminded me, in the glory of its chaste convulsions and in its swelling, sweeping, forward movement of finely progressing contours, of the Victory of Samothrace.” — Edward Weston

I bumped into Edward Weston, an American photographer (1886-1958), while re-reading my art history text book, Living with Art by Mark Getlein. Why am I re-reading a textbook? Well, I really love art and I enjoy learning about it. Since my memory of art history is a bit foggy, I’ve decided to revisit the subject and re-learn what I studied. It’s a lot of fun! Not only am I refreshing my memory of art history, I am also deepening my appreciation for the subject.

In a section titled “Art and Beauty,” Weston’s photograph of a cabbage leaf was featured as an example. I paused when I saw it. If I wasn’t told that the photo is of a cabbage leaf, I wouldn’t have guessed it. At first glimpse, I thought the picture to be the skirt of an elaborate gown with the bodice not shown (I think many others thought the same). As you can see [above], the photo is taken against a dark background and is casted in black and white. Taking away the characteristics of the cabbage (its color) and focusing solely on a piece of it makes me consider the cabbage in a new way and focus on parts of it that I’ve never considered: for example, the lines caused by its rumpled leaf. I love lines and the lines in this piece kicked my imagination into overdrive. They flow freely and form curves and sometimes arch against each other. To me, they look like the ruffles in a dress and other times I think of them as veins or the wrinkled skin of a weird sea creature or even an alien.

Another item that Weston photographed is the toilet. Now, why would anyone want to take a photo of something so ordinary? I enjoyed gazing at Weston’s toilet. His photo transforms it. The perspective that Weston shoots from causes the bowl to loom above us, taking on the persona of the “porcelain goddess,” as some refer to it. He makes the toilet look majestic. Also, I couldn’t help thinking of it as a sculpture.

Weston is a gifted photographer who’s quite adept at making the ordinary extraordinary, and at giving objects a new personality. I find that his use of black and white photos emphasize things that are blind to us in color. With the absence of color, we focus more on content and contrast. I now have a new appreciation for black and white photos. I suggest that you check out some of Weston’s photos too. You will be blown away.

Also, check out Martha Schwendener’s article in The New York Times to read more about Edward Weston and his art. And visit this slide show, also on The New York Time’s website, to see more of Weston’s work.

“The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan

Cover of "The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Ti...
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

I’ve continued on the journey with Rand by returning to the Wheel of Time series with The Great Hunt. It’s another great story: well-crafted though repetitive in some spots. We are thrown in another adventure and once again we journey across the land sometimes pursuing and sometimes fleeing from the Dark One’s forces. Rand is still our point of focus and where the first book dealt with Rand’s loss of innocence and discovery of his strange abilities, this installment focused on his struggle to accept his identity and his role in the pattern the wheel weaves.

Quick summary:

In this installment, Rand and his friends—Loial, Perrin, and Mat—along with the Shienaran warriors and Verin Sedai of the Brown Ajah chase after the filthy Padan Fain to retrieve the Horn of Valere and Mat’s dagger from Shadar Logoth, which Fain and the trollocs stole. Fal Dara was infiltrated by trollocs, who came to rescue Padan Fain from its dungeons. Obviously they had inside help since Fal Dara is made to withstand trolloc attacks. It’s also at this time that the Amrylin Seat came to visit. Rand tried to keep away from her since he was afraid he would be gentled for being able to channel. However, he was surprised to be let go. Apparently the Amrylin, like Moiraine Sedai, believes Rand to be the Dragon Reborn. But Rand still refuses to accept this. So stubborn!

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Walter Mosley - By the Book quote

“…the first time the reader works her way through the volume it’s more like a first date than a one-time encounter. If the person was uninteresting (not worthwhile) there’s no need for a repeat performance, but if they have promise, good humor, hope or just good manners, you might want to have a second sit-down, a third. There might be something irksome about that rendezvous that makes you feel that you have something to work out. There might be a hint of eroticism suggesting the possibility of a tryst or even marriage.”

—Walter Mosley, from the By the Book section of the New York Times. Mosley is an American author who’s known for his crime fiction such as Devil in a Blue Dress.

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