Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Author That Opened Doors to New Worlds!

Book 8: The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

                The only fantasy novels I was introduced to growing up were Mercedes Lackey and Dungeons and Dragons, at least these were what my friends read, and I didn’t like any of them. It caused me to have the impression that there was nothing much of interest there for me.
                Then one day during a writing workshop, the instructor suggested that the next book we buy be one from a genre that we would normally not read. In the bargain bin at the grocery store the next day I found the book ‘The Lions of Al-Rassan’, bought it, read it, loved it, shelved it, and never thought much more about it for a long time. I enjoyed the book but it didn’t really inspire me to become a fantasy lover.
                A few months later my new brother-in-law lent me a book and told me that I would love it, it was the Fionavar Tapestry again by Guy Gavriel Kay. I devoured this book and went looking for more, since then Kay has become a favorite of mine and I’ve read all his books, even the poetry ones, and am eagerly waiting the day someone decides to make a movie out of one of them.
                That second exposure to his work was the kicker for me and once I read through all his books I went looking for more, spending hours wandering the fantasy shelves because I still had some doubts and wasn’t ready to commit to long series like Robert Jordan’s, but I wanted the magic, the mystery and the love, I had found in the other fantasy books.
                I bought a few anthologies of various authors and went from there, opening up a wonderful world full of many other wonderful worlds of fantasy. Yes eventually I read Tolkien too, even went past the Ring tales and into his other works as well.
                As much as I loved the books it still took me some time to fully embrace writing fantasy and how much freedom there was to it. For me fantasy and horror fell in together and my stories tend to reflect that a little bit.
                I only have one of my works that is totally fantasy and takes place in a fantasy world but I bring it back to tie in to my horror works. I just can’t seem to make that leap fully into the fantasy genre in my own writing but I can still appreciate the intricate and wonderful worlds these people have created and shared with us.
                I would, obviously, recommend Guy Gavriel Kay’s books to anyone but I also challenge anyone and everyone to go pick up a book in a genre you don’t like, you never know what surprises lie in store for you there.
                At least once a year I pick up a book that at first doesn’t appeal to me and I have yet to be disappointed, it is an adventure out of the norm – for me anyways!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Book Every Pregnant Woman Should Read

Book 7 – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

                I just recently finished this book and it has changed the way I see and feel about being pregnant, labour, delivery, and a bit about everyday life and the way our fears and perceptions affect us.
                The book starts with 127 pages full of positive and empowering birth stories – these aren’t the horror stories we’ve been brought up hearing, or the exaggerated drama birth scenes we see in the media, they aren’t about pushing a certain way of birth or lifestyle, they are just simple stories about women giving birth.
                That part really made me step back and think about how I was introduced and exposed to birth stories. During my first pregnancy when I was twenty-one, every woman I met had to tell me how hard it was and painful and they were in labour for this many hours and they wouldn’t have been able to do without the drugs and so on. I still delivered my first child with very little drugs and interventions but do feel that compared to today, I was ignorant of the true nature of birth.
                My second pregnancy – two and a half years ago – was a bit different because I was vocal and told everyone that I wanted a natural birth with no pain medications. I thought that would be enough to get them to help me but I was wrong, there were still a few things that happened during the birth that I didn’t like and that caused me more pain then necessary. (I still did it drug free though)
                Now with this pregnancy, I am very thankful that I picked up this book and read it through. After the birth stories she – Ina May (The Nation’s Leading Midwife) – goes on to break down the myths and medical jargon or birth and labor. She explains what all the interventions are, how they can benefit or hinder a natural birth or disempower a woman. She talks about the physiology of birth and pathology of birth and how our fears have a big part to play in how painful or stressful birth can be.
                This book made me a bit upset as I realized just how far down the medical world has brought the simple and natural process of birth. Birth is something that every woman is born and able to do, naturally, without drugs and independently. At the same time I do recognize the many children are saved from advances in medical procedures but unfortunately many of these ‘advances’ are used for convenience and not because there is any danger or because the woman is somehow made ‘wrong’ and can’t deliver.
                I think this book should come free with every positive pregnancy test and that every doctor should recommend it, most midwifes do.
                This book has changed my life in so many ways including the path that I plan to take with it. I’ve decided to get my Doula Certification so that I can help woman make informed choices and be empowered by their birth instead of ashamed by it. Possibly in the future I may look to getting my midwifery license as well but it’s a hard thing to get where I am.
                If you or anyone you know is pregnant or plans to be, please recommend this book. If nothing else it will inform and empower you.