From the Forge: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

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Writing today from StoryForge Productions:

Last week, the Club discussed The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. The classic whodunit is light on its toes—the perfect read to offset the longer, heavier texts that we have chosen lately. The only element lacking from our evening of laughter, wine and murder was a round of Clue…

Read more at the Forge!

Ender’s Game: An Outsider’s Sci-Fi Book Review

Right off the bat, let me clarify: I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan. I’ve really enjoyed the Vorkosigan series, but I haven’t explored much beyond that.

Consider this review to be an outsider’s view of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.

Even to a non-Sci Fi addict, the book is fascinating. Card delves into the psyches of his young geniuses, and creates a war of manipulation that carries through the entire story. Graff and Major Anderson, the two adults in charge of forming children into world saving heroes, skew the lives of the prodigies by controlling every single aspect of their lives. The book makes one consider the power of social constructs and question what it means to be a genuine hero. 

So on one hand, the book is an interesting mental game. 

But on the other hand, I personally couldn’t relate to the characters. Card so carefully controls little geniuses that I didn’t sense much natural feeling. It felt sterile and calculated. The natural world just isn’t like that. Even if the characters are up in a space station, they should still feel human. 

When I asked my book club what they thought, they gave me a different view. Showering me with examples of relatability, they pointed out Ender’s loneliness, his struggle to survive, and his constant stress. They also reminded me of dear Valentine. Her fear of Peter can pull the heartstrings of the reader, as she struggles against her brother’s cruel brilliancy. 

Could you sympathize with the characters better than me? What are your thoughts?

Book Review: The Help

The Help is an incredible book. It’s taken me a while to pinpoint exactly why, because there are so many layers. But I think I’ve got it.

Here goes.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett will always shock and entertain with one key element: it’s human. It points out the inhumanity of humanity in a very humble, humorous way.

Am I making any sense? 

The book brings us to the sweltering heat of Jackson, Mississippi, and nearly makes us sweat while we read. Looking back fifty years, we learn that America’s racist past isn’t as far in the past as we thought or hoped. We also find that the wives of this small, stuffy town orbit the ladies’ league: one huge clique with Hilly Hollbrooks at the center. Painted smiles cover all of their faces, but the story slips behind those smiles to expose the people within. The nice ladies are not so friendly after all. And the happy women are not so happy after all. The charade, thankfully, is exposed by Aibileen, Minny, and all the others who see the secrets. 

I rarely endorse a movie as highly as the book, but the film adaptation captures the spirit so well. Since I watched the film before reading the story, I had the actors invading my imagination. Normally I dislike this—for example, Elijah Wood. I do not want him as my visual for Frodo because he doesn’t fit Tolkien’s character. But actors in The Help so thoroughly embody the characters that I enjoyed the book even more with them. 

Book Club

I always thought that book clubs were for rich middle aged women who had nothing better to do. I have no idea where I got that notion, because I just started my own book club last month! I realized their value: community with good friends, and exploration into good fiction.

I had no idea how to start one, or what to do when I did, but I emailed a bunch of girls and off we went! Are you interested in anything like this? Because really, it’s quite incredibly simple:

  1. Email people.
  2. Meet and pick a book. (We’re reading The Help right now)
  3. Read the book.
  4. Meet a month later.
  5. Talk about the book.
  6. Pick another book. (Not sure what’s next yet—we’ll see!)
  7. Repeat.

However simple that sounds, the one difficult task is picking the book. Still haven’t gotten that part down yet. We have so many tastes and opinions: sci-fi, mystery, classics, pop-fic, dystopia, memoirs. The list goes on. So much wonderful diversity—but it makes it difficult to find something that everyone will enjoy. 

To you all out there, the floor is open: Any tips on how to pick books? Or any recommendations?