Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Mechanical Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine

Synopsis: Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic.

That magic is no accident: Boss builds her circus from the bones out, molding a mechanical company that will survive the unforgiving landscape.

But even a careful ringmaster can make mistakes.

Two of Tresaulti's performers are entangled in a secret standoff that threatens to tear the circus apart just as the war lands on their doorstep. Now the Circus must fight a war on two fronts: one from the outside, and a more dangerous one from within.

My thoughts: this book was really thrilling! It’s about a magical circus in a post apocalyptic world, where cities have collapsed with bombs and there is no such thing as a stable government. The Mechanical Circus Tresaulti is a out of common place where people have metal parts – arms, legs, eyes, bones, spine you name it – and where nothing is what it seems (li-te-ral-ly). When you think you have found the order and meaning of all of it, the book fools you and you get lost all over again! I called it an organized mess: you can find what you want if you know where and what to look for. Therefore it requires your full attention at every page you turn otherwise you’ll have to keep searching through the book for the answers while you continue reading.

                It has a very good writing with different tenses making you see the same scene with different angles and perspectives. So, this is a kind of book that you have to go “all the way through” or suffer with the doubt of what was about to happen.

                The characters were captivating and well-structured. My favorites were the ladies, especially Elena, Boss and Bird, because they were shown as strong, independent and active, making decisions of their own instead of just agreeing politely to them.

                The end of it was a little incomprehensible, so I had to reflect a little bit about it in order to fully understand it (although I still haven’t got it completely) (laughs). I think that if it followed a straight timeline it would be so much easier for the reader, but I believe that the mess is all part of the show.

All in all, I really liked this book! It was very different from everything that I’ve ever read and I would love to see a circus such as this one.

and a half

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean P. Sasson

Synopsis: Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, her sons, and her country.

Sultana is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the king. For the sake of her daughters, she has decided to take the risk of speaking out about the life of women in her country, regardless of their rank. She must hide her identity for fear that the religious leaders in her country would call for her death to punish her honesty. Only a woman in her position could possibly hope to escape from being revealed and punished, despite her cloak and anonymity.

Sultana tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage--a happy one until her husband decided to displace her by taking a second wife--and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. Although they share affection, confidences and an easy camaraderie within the confines of the women's quarters, they also share a history of appealing oppressions, everyday occurrences that in any other culture would be seen as shocking human rights violations; thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age, young women killed by drowning, stoning, or isolation in the "women's room," a padded, windowless cell where women are confined with neither light nor conversation until death claims them. By speaking out, Sultana risks bringing the wrath of the Saudi establishment upon her head and the heads of her children. But by telling her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana has allowed us to see beyond the veils of this secret society, to the heart of a nation where sex, money, and power reign supreme.

My thoughts: an amazing story about a princess who chose to speak her mind in a world where she was taught to silence herself. What makes it more thrilling is the fact that it’s real, that Sultana really existed, despite the fact that her real name isn’t that.

                While reading, I had hopes for Karim. I thought that he would stood up for the princess in her fight for women’s rights, but apparently he just said what he thought would soothe her wild character down. And, my Goddess, how they spend money! I never thought that they were so shopaholics or THAT wealthy (although that in Dubai they are like, craazily rich).

                Despite the few lines between the characters, it doesn’t make the reading less entertaining and fun. I laughed and cried (this last one internally) with this feminist princess that had the guts to get out of her palace and tell the world what women in Saudi Arabia get through.

                Ali got in my nerves as well as his Father. I almost, ALMOST, had a glimpse of hope with the last one, but after it he sank in the abyss of my profound loath for him. Her brother was disgusting: seriously, pictures of women and animals not doing cute or nice things, but dirty and nasty?! Jesus!

                In a society such as ours where we can do things that they can’t even fathom, we don’t give enough value to these little things. This book made me see that what for a few is a lot, for many is ridiculously small.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Hatsheptut: She Pharaoh

Name of Birth:                                   Hatshepsut

Place of Birth:                                    Thebes, Egypt

Date of Birth:                                     c. 1508 BCE

Place of Death:                                  Egypt

Date of Death:                                   c. 1458 BCE

The only child born to the Egyptian king Thutmose I by his principal wife and queen, Ahmose, Hatshepsut was expected to be queen. After the death of her father at age 12, Hatsheput married her half-brother Thutmose II, whose mother was a lesser wife -- a common practice meant to ensure the purity of the royal bloodline. During the reign of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut assumed the traditional role of queen and principal wife.
Hatshpsut was the first female pharaoh in history and she made it through many obstacles. She governed the Egypt for 22 years on her own. At that time, Egypt was one of the richest. To remain in the government she made use of her relations with her Father, that at first agreed with it, since her son Thutmose
III (son of Thutmose II) was too Young and couldn’t reign yet. Initially, Hatshepsut bore this role traditionally until, for reasons that are unclear, she claimed the role of pharaoh. Technically, Hatshepsut did not ‘usurp’ the crown, as Thutmose the III was never deposed and was considered co-ruler throughout her life, but it is clear that Hatshepsut was the principal ruler in power.

She started to wear the false beard and trousers just like the pharaohs as a way to confirm her authority as regent, not to trick people by thinking she was a male. Hatshepsut’s successful transition from queen to pharaoh was, in part, due to her ability to recruit influential supporters, and many of the men she chose had been favored officials of her father, Thutmose I. One of her most important advisors was Senenmut. He had been among the queen’s servants and rose with her in power, and some speculate he was her lover as well.
During her reign, Egypt prospered. She promoted an administrative innovation and commercial expansion. Unlike other rulers in her dynasty, she was more interested in ensuring economic prosperity and building and restoring monuments throughout Egypt and Nubia than in conquering new lands. She built the temple Djeser-djeseru ("holiest of holy places"), which was dedicated to Amon and served as her funerary cult, and erected a pair of red granite obelisks at the Temple of Amon at Karnak, one of which still stands today. Hatshepsut also had one notable trading expedition to the land of Punt in the ninth year of her reign. The ships returned with gold, ivory and myrrh trees, and the scene was immortalized on the walls of the temple.
            At the same time that she made changes in Egypty, she took care of Thutmose III’s education. She sent the boy to tha Amon’s temple where he was educated to become the next regent.
            To ensure her authority she didn’t spend efforts to keep the boy away from the throne. She did even tried to marry him with one of her daughters from her marriage with Thutmose II. However, with princess’s death, her power was weakened. As head of the Army, Thutmose III claimed his rights, specially his title as pharaoh. But he only received that after the queen’s death, in early February of 1458 B.C. of unknown causes. Her remains were never found until recently in 2007. Late in his reign, Thutmose III began a campaign to eradicate Hatshepsut’s memory: He destroyed or defaced her monuments, erased many of her inscriptions and constructed a wall around her obelisks. While some believe this was the result of a long-held grudge, it was more likely a strictly political effort to emphasize his line of succession and ensure that no one challenged his son Amunhotep II for the throne