Tag Archives: English

Book Review – Cycling to Asylum by Su J. Sokol

I have just spent a few months finishing up reading Cycling to Asylum by Su J. Sokol, and today I finally finished it. I have to say, the title seemed to provoke more interest and intrigue than the content provided. I enjoyed the character of Laek, a free-thinking teacher from New York in what could conceivably be called a near-future dystopian period, but I absolutely disliked his wife and his two children, basically because Sokol stops at crucial junctions in the story to do a chapter on every single person in the family and their point of view on the same event, which could have been consolidated instead of making the reader read laboriously through the same event four times. If each character was to have his or her own chapter, I would have preferred for that chapter to carry the story a little further, but in this book that just simply didn’t happen. The parents moved much of the story along, the sister a little bit, and the youngest child’s chapters were all completely unnecessary.

That said, I do enjoy a certain sense of national pride when I read this book – that Canada is where people go to find hope and a new life (this publishing house publishes several Canadian-based works, so I expected nothing less from them). They leave New York to get away from violence and terrorist groups to find a new life and hope in Montreal. I enjoyed Sokol’s accurate use of the intermix of English and French that characterizes much Canadian speech, especially in Quebec, and I thought the mood of a Canadian city in winter was captured best of all. Also, I enjoyed the sexual/relational freedom Laek and his wife Janie enjoy in their marriage, as their relationship with Philip seems to represent a bridge between the bad parts of the U.S. they are leaving behind and the good memories they made there.

All in all, I give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars, for an interesting storyline, but no more than 3, for taking too long to reach a climax and the staunch formulaic nature of the manuscript.


Poetry Post – ‘stardust’ by daenor

One of my dirty little secrets is that I have completed writing an anthology of poetry, but it is as-yet-unpublished.

My poetry pen-name is daenor (which is roughly translated to shadowflame in Quenya – a form of High Elvish created by J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings, and many, many others), and hence why my blog’s address is daenorestel.wordpress.com instead of sharaleereads.wordpress.com. (Additionally, estel is the Sindarin or more common Elvish word for hope, a name I chose because though some days I feel like shadow, and some days I feel like flame, writing always gives me hope).

elvishestel

It can sometimes take me a while to finish a book for review, but I thought I’d share with you one of my poems maybe once a week, and see what you think of them. And what better poem to start with than this? I give you one that actually references my pen-name (but in English), and is based on the great 2007 movie ‘Stardust’ (directed by Matthew Vaughn, starring Charlie Cox and Claire Danes, based on the book by Neil Gaiman):

stardust

Without further ado, here it is. Please enjoy stardust:

stardust

a fallen star,

unlikely boy –

such treasure found.

if i could shine

like that,

i would:

to you be bound.

a darkness stands

between us,

won’t you

break it down?

let starlight

gently

flood the night:

receive your crown.

i am not golden,

i am but

a shadowflame

to flicker in

the corner,

whispering your name.

there are so many reasons why,

both yes and no.

you stand there,

i forget them and

i simply glow.

– daenor

shadowflame