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review 2017-06-10 10:47
The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales
The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales - Mark W. McGinnis

by Mark W. McGinnis

 

This is a book of retold Chinese fables, based on the writings of the ancient philosopher Chang Tzu but written in modern language that any child could follow.

 

The tales are very short and each has a morale at the end to teach the reader something about the foibles of human nature.

 

The pictures are beautifully done and in full color in what looks like an oriental style. Overall the book is beautifully presented and would make a nice gift to a child, though adults would enjoy it too!

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review 2015-11-13 09:26
Fantasy fiction at its most powerful and cutting-edge
The Girl with Ghost Eyes - M. H. Boroson

The main character is a Daoist priestess named Li-lin in Chinatown at the turn of the century. Li-lin takes her place among Lisbeth, Katniss, and Hermione, unforgettably establishing herself as one of the most nuanced, resilient, BAMF fictional female characters around. That a Woman of Color has been placed at the heart of this visionary Hero's Journey is a fact that should be lost on no one.

From the brilliantly established hook and its crisis, the story rapidly plunges the reader into a highly complex world. Li-lin rapidly develops as a reliable and sensitive interpreter and translator of this culturally-immersive paranormal thriller. The story is loaded with Chinese magical rituals which seem to be extremely accurately depicted. Reading the exquisitely written descriptions of these traditional rituals is a rare joy.

The dialogue is credible, believable, culturally attuned, and engaging for the reader. From its dizzying beginnings grounded solidly in the conflicts suffered by Li-lin, The Girl with Ghost Eyes soars into a fascinating and gripping story that never ceases to engage and surprise, all the way through to the heartbreaking final resolution.

The wonderfully dramatic content is sustained throughout the entire story! The reader never knows who can be trusted or how far, constantly upping the ante of tension and suspense. The predicament grows worse by the minute, the stakes are clear and high, and information is only imparted as it is badly needed. The story is extremely unique and exciting.

The heroine is wonderfully developed, thoroughly complex, and powerfully convincing. Her poignant realism as a deprecated widow cements the wildly surreal adventure she embarks upon firmly in the realms of reality and credibility. One “villain” is conflicted about the evil he is helping to perpetrate and therefore multi-dimensional as a dutiful son and inexcusably cruel cad. Why the other villain has elected to persecute this poor Third Aunt/madwoman/priestess seems hard to understand until

his need for a body to enact the most humiliating revenge on the heroine’s father

(spoiler show)

is explained. Then the whole story’s genius absolutely shines!

The writing is luminous and hauntingly evocative. This plot represents an exceptionally moving depiction of a human being discovering, questioning, and reversing her long-held beliefs, one after another, until the very final moment.

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text 2013-10-08 00:03
Hufflepuff and Taoism: Why I Love the Badger.
The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff,Ernest H. Shepard

Fun fact:  I practice Taoism.  Knowing that will probably add a lot more context to this ramble that is supposed to make sense.

 

So, I am sure that you've heard of Pottermore... and maybe a lot of you have taken the Sorting Hat quiz, too.  I have to admit that I took it three times.  Three!  Mostly because the first time I took it, I felt like I answered one of the questions insincerely and wanted to go back.  I knew that they had different questions each time you take it, so I figured I'd get whatever house I was meant to have.

 

I've got a different house each time I took the quiz.  

 

Some claim that means I'm well-rounded (thanks guys), but what I think that really means is that you can't trust a quiz to tell you what you are or what you feel.  The first time, I got Hufflepuff, then Ravenclaw and then Gryffindor.  I remember when I got Hufflepuff vividly.  I didn't really care - I didn't know much about the house, to be honest.  I knew their main color was yellow, which is my favorite color, so I rolled with it.  The welcoming message was awesome and their Common Room seemed right up my alley.  But then... people started making fun of Hufflepuff.  A lot of my friends thought it was hysterical that I had been placed in it.  By this time, I had already re-taken it and gotten Ravenclaw, but I still felt a distinctive need to defend Hufflepuff because no matter what that Sorting Hat tells me, I will always strive to be a Hufflepuff.

 

There is a lovely book that I linked to this post called The Tao of Pooh, which explores Taoism and Winnie the Pooh in a way I had never thought of before.  I really recommend it, even if you don't practice Taoism or care about it whatsoever.  There is a lot of wisdom to be learned in that little book.

 

In Taoism, one does not fight the current of life.  They move with the stream until they find their own branch off.  However, if the stream begins doing something that they don't agree with, they never try to swim upstream.  They do not fight the current.  They simply stand in the middle of it, waging a silent and subtle war. Inner Peace is the goal, and one cannot find peace if they are always in a state of battle.  This was the essence of Pooh and Pooh was the essence of Tao.

 

I believe that the same wisdom applied to Pooh can be applied to Hufflepuff.  Hufflepuff is the most well-rounded house.  There is a reason that Cedric Diggory won the House Cup.  There is a reason they are know as being passive and kind, yet were just as eager as any other house to throw on those Potter-hating buttons in the fourth book.  They are not two-dimensional.  They are simply gliding through the stream of life and accept anyone who wants to journey with them.  Hufflepuff is a symbolic representation of the Tao to me.  

 

Because they welcome people on any path, because they are a House whose paths branch into many different directions - some "good" and some "bad" - because they are the ones who are dependable, because they are good finders, because they are loyal, because they are subtle... all of this is Taoism to me.  This is my perception of The Path. This is how I want to live: quietly standing against the stream, searching for my own path and my own way.  

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