Book review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Rated it: 5 stars

I reread this gem last year and the feels are still incredibly strong. Long story short this is a coming of age story of teenager Aristotle (told entirely in his point of view) during the 1980s set in El Paso, Texas, and spans two years.

The summer was hot and humid, the rain was like a veil into different emotional dimension I kid you not. And the birds, well they were there crapping on people in a real way. Oh, just read the thing and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s raining as I’m writing, and usually when it does I’m reminded of my summer boys.

And I’ll be straight with you, dear readers, this is a novel I cannot formulate a coherent sentences worthy of a decent review so I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for this mass of fangirl babble. Ari was at the awkward age where he’s coming to terms that his body is changing, he’s occupied with thoughts of his veteran father who’s in another world most of the time. Added to that he’s somewhat obsessed with an older brother who he barely remembers. 

He meets the soft spoken and bookish Dante (one of the cinnamon-iest cinnamon roll I’ve read so far) one day at the pool. A loner by choice, Ari begins to find his company an education.

The friendship that grows between these two … it’s simple yet it’s not. For better or for worse they change each other. Simply by being there they challenged themselves with facing the hard questions, the kind of questions that makes them realize just how vast and painfully tangible the universe possibly is.

What I loved

  • Sáenz didn’t mince words, let me tell you. When I first read it I was confused and uncomfortable but then I got it. This was Ari’s voice: raw, undiluted and straightforward. Also the writing gets poetic, which I expect from a book with a guy named Aristotle in it. Not that he’s poetic. Hmm, well he does get poetic but he doesn’t think he is.
  • Ari. I like him. A lot. Full of angsty pubescent emotions, foul mouthed (as much as a fifteen year old can be in YA), a natural born smart ass, and an actual decent human being. Cute too, did I mention?
  • Dante, another smarty pants. He’s the yin to Ari’s yang. Gentle, fierce, kind and forever curious. If I recall correctly, he has identity issues with his Mexian ancestry, having not been immersed in it as much as Ari. He’s terribly brave when it comes down to it.
  • The parents Continue reading

Snippet: Over chicken soup

Via All Of The Vegan Food (or is it?)

Via All Of The Vegan Food (or is it???)

The following is a snip from a short story I’m working on right now. I love it when kids are like best friends with their parents, usually I find that those cross out the unnecessary drama that depict cliched relationships. What do you think?

I slouched on the bean bag, my dress in a mess. I never slouch. I’m the chick that preaches “thou shalt not slouch” and I’m in a state where I don’t give two ducks, or geese which are actually more nasty.

“Look dad, this is going to sound all poetic and dangerously cheesy but here it is: when love is the religion, trust is king and truth is queen – or whatever – and together they make it work. You do want it to work, don’t you?”

He looked up at the ceiling, lips pursed. Then he smirked, looking a bit evil with eyes red and puffy from crying.

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Frustration: a painting in words

Frustration is defined as the feeling of being upset or annoyed when unable to achieve or change something. It’s a kaleidoscope of mismatched emotions born of my own inability to change, to develop in order to achieve what I possibly can. Personally, it is for – the most part – a two-toned orange and black fighting for dominance and you know you’re down for the count when they beat each other to a nasty mud brown.

Frustration is sometimes like being thirsty. So thirsty and the thought strikes you that, yes, the Sahara had to have been an ocean ages ago. A tall glass of water sits before you. Your frustration can be defined by either not being able to reach it; or having it in your hands, the condensation dripping wetly down your knuckles but finding that you refuse to drink.

Often, no … many times, the orange wins and the black and mud would swirl down and away into the abyss of a sinkhole. And it’s fine for now.

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Cliché 

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What’s the purpose of it all?

The universal question

Defies language

Defies location

.

Who do they ask?

Why do they?

Humbly I offer

my piece to the puzzle

You decide if and

where it fits:

Life is what you make it

Don’t ask anybody else,

don’t relinquish what

choice you have

.

Ask you, that’s who

The divine will give you hope

But what kind of living is it

when you keep looking for signs

Like living from hand to mouth

.

The divine will give you hope,

that’s all and good,

But take direction and

Let heart consult with the head

– d.s

empty (1)

there is a hole in my stomach

that I dig myself

with scooping hands

shaped with inattention

but I do this absently 

like snoring in sleep

i become aware of this

hollow alcove

when I plunge into waking

when my actions (or inactions)

catch up with me

and I feel in that hollow

a lacking within me

to which only I can or cannot fill

with decision

with conviction 

and with belief in none other

than myself

Coshed over with the fact, 

yet once again,

i am my own saviour 

and my own ruination

– devina s.  

App review: Plant Nanny

Image via Google Play

 What’s this now? She’s doing app reviews? Yes, yes, I am. Plant Nanny is this excellent free health application (iOS and Android) that encourages you to drink enough water for the day, taking two factors into account: your weight and level of activity. I used to lug a 1L bottle with me, two of those would set me right for a day. Alas, I didn’t keep it up. Coffee and lemonade (fresh) is basically what I ran on but it’s a good thing I’d quit on soda. 

And honestly, I’m amazed how after all the “water is important” lectures we get from that health obsessed friend, some of us don’t seem to grasp at the fact.

Water is needed by all the cells and organs in the body in order for them to function properly. It is also used to lubricate the joints, protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, regulate body temperature and assist the passage of food through the intestines.

Although some of the water required by the body is obtained through foods with a high water content – soups, tomatoes, oranges – the majority is gained through drinking water and other beverages.

During normal everyday functioning, water is lost by the body, and this needs to be replaced. It is noticeable that we lose water through activities such as sweating and urination, but water is even lost when breathing.

Drinking water, be it from the tap or a bottle, is the best source of fluid for the body. Beverages such as milk and juices are also decent sources of water, but beverages containing alcohol and caffeine, such as soft drinks, coffee and beer, are less than ideal due to having diuretic properties, meaning that they cause the body to release water

–  Medical News Today

Shrubbery? Cheering on water consumption? Yes! The thing is that there’s no simple boring reminder alert but these little cartoon plants, adorably drawn, and there’s a variety to choose from. You input the amount of water you drink throughout the day by choosing from a range of cups, glasses and bottles to which you can assign a designated amount of water.


To feed your seedling just hold down on the cup/glass/bottle icon for a few seconds and you’re on your way to having a happy plant and healthy body. Be warned though, fail to drink and input makes your plant sad at first, keep it up and it will die. As you drink, your plant is growing and every time it levels up it’s transformed into the next stage until it’s an adult, after which the plant gets transferred to the garden. This brings me to the next feature.

I’m all grown up , so I live in the garden now.


Plant Nanny offers in-app purchases. There’s a shop where you can buy fantastic new and strange plants, beautiful pots and backgrounds, water of life (boosts growth and revives dead plants), and most importantly: seeds.

How you get them:

  • You need seeds to have seeds in the first place to buy anything but you get around 10 free ones when you start.
  • Get a single free one when you volunteer to watch an add.
  • Coming back to what I said earlier, when your adult plant moves to the garden, they begin to produce seeds for you, one each every day.
  • You can buy the seeds. They come in three sized: packet (has 100), a bag (600) and a box (3000).

I’ve had it for about two weeks now, with one fully grown Devil’s Ivy (oh, and you have the option to rename them) and right now I have a Dandelion (lv. 3). It’s so satisfying to see them change! The app accomplishes its aim of getting me to drink more water via emotional blackmail. Do you want to see these little buggers suffer and die?

I am still a smol cutie patootie.


No. You don’t. Naturally, I give Plant Nanny 5 Stars and I highly reccommend you give it a try.

About this blog: Direction

Dearest Reader,

This is a letter to you. I’ve done something to this effect before, and in those missives I thanked you for your following – though I suspect many had even forgotten that they had in the first place (and I don’t blame you). So I’ll do that again. Thank you. So much. Really, I’m continuously baffled that new  people still manage to stumble over here amidst the inactivity.

In the fever of my first blogging adventures I practically lived at HC&B. Churning out two to three posts a day, some of which I cringe to think about now, and lots in which I surprised myself with. I’d been about eighteen at the time I made this website, my first one. Today, I sit here at twenty-two. These days make me yearn for high school, where I’d rather do homework than be an adult. And ladies and gentlemen, that is saying something!

To get to the point, I feel guilty on two fronts: 1) to the blog itself that gave me a chance to explore the internet with even more curiosity, to doors revealing insights and opportunities to learn from this community. I shouldn’t give up on this education.

2) to you my followers, to those who have stuck it out with me and my pretty much random content. And to the new folks who decided to give this a chance.

Look. I know I might be over dramatizing this a bit. I mean, it only takes a second to click and follow and about five minutes to forget? Still, I think it’s important.

Concerning direction, I’ve never decided on specific content matter but what I wrote about included books, poetry, creative writing, some vaguely personal insights and a smattering of miscellany. I’m seriously considering writing about shows I’m watching and the languages I’m trying to learn.

Time has always stayed the same after everything else has changed, so I can’t mint any minutes or hours, but I’ll try to get gears turning again. For me, and for those who’d taken that second to click, and those of you who come to just window shop.

Sincerely,

Devina

 

Staccato

He watched as if from afar as his fingers stab and stab away at the keyboard. Surely they couldn’t be his. Neatly trimmed, they look vicious and and unmerciful but yet so graceful in their ministrations.

The sigh that ripples out his chest sucks him back into his body. Surely he must be in purgatory. This knowing he’s not working hard enough, accomplishing less than he possibly could in a workday. But no matter, no matter how hard and long he abused the keyboard he get distracted and plays truant. Ruled by his own impulses. He disgusted himself.

At the end of the long day of doing mostly nothing, the tiredness that swamps him is partly shame and part anger. Tomorrow, he knows, with be identical to today, as the day before that was.

And the day before that.

Bloody hell and damnation. He snatches his hands from the device as if the thing grew teeth. Ah, the small respite from sluggish ruminations hit him like a slap, and he’s grateful. Here, hope dares to bloom and his mind whirs to life as if it had been off the whole time.

I can move forward. I can do this. Plan. I need a plan. The thoughts came in fast now. His mind is clear but it wont last for long. He had learned to move quick to climb up a new rung of the ladder. When his head would become heavy again, he’d be stuck on a new level.

Up up and up.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffry Cranor

via Goodreads

Rated it: 3 stars

Read in: April

Note to people who’ve never listened to to podcast: I will not tell you that you can only enjoy this book if you listen to the episodes, though it would help.  From what I understand it’s marketed as a stand alone. Personally, I don’t mind if you disliked it. Only too easy to be confused and feel like an outsider. It’s a poor reflection of the podcast so please don’t let this discourage you from listening.

—-

When I say that I felt my mind bend several times throughout the book, I am not kidding. For some reason I still can’t put a finger on, I was skeptical about the entire thing. I could suppose that I was so trained to the podcast format that the setup for novel approach was … puzzling. Who am I kidding? Honestly it fell flat for me. There. I said it.

However, I am now satisfied in several respects with regards to the plots of certain episodes. For instance I can now file the away the speculation that The Man In The Tan Jacket is not actually Cecil’s long forgotten brother.

Thanks to The Man and his stupid note, Jackie’s become irritatingly aware of the oddness of her existence. Particularly pissed because because her boring routine life has been unashamedly demolished. The order and the peace of mind it brought, gone. It should be a damn crime.

Diane is more complicated. A single mother having to try communicate with an ever distant teenage shape-shifting son is nothing at all to sneeze at. Between that growing divide is the pothole of all potholes, his father Troy.

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