Friday in Review: The Future is Blue

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I probably should have opened with I’ll only be reviewing ONE story from this collection. [Drowned Worlds–edited by Jonathan Strahan] If you’re asking why, well–that is a fantastic question. My answer is this–I really loved this one.

“THE FUTURE IS BLUE–by: Catherynne M Valente

Now, if you will–imagine a world where people and politician don’t believe the threat of Global Warming is an issue. I know it’s a hard stretch–but please, try.

This collection of short stories are all derived from that notion. The simple idea of what will come of this world if we don’t get ourselves into check.

I actually really enjoyed more than one of these tales–but THE FUTURE IS BLUE stuck out somehow. Here is a short summary “Teenage Tetley lives in a human settlement (one of the last) built on a miles-wide floating garbage dump. She explains why everyone hates her now.”

I know. Sounds drab. Who wants to read a story about a young woman who is hated by all–but it’s an amazing read. So utterly removed from the reality that is floating around her, Tetley exists in a world filled with leftovers from our forgotten era. Simply put, she never romanticized the world she had been born into or the life that was handed to her.

Even though she should be mad as hell, and spitting nails .

There is a very special whimsical element to the main character. It’s this component that helps you cope what what you’re really witnessing. And it doesn’t hurt that the floating world Valente built is stunning, once you sift through the mess. (Rather like Tetley.)

I highly recommend this short story–and the rest of the book. (I mean, may was well… am I right?)

Happy Reading!! xxoo-A

Wednesday Words–Angels & Demons

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I picked this prompt because I feel like it forces your hand. You these this sentence and automatically think, ‘fallen angel who runs amuck messing up, royally.’

But what if that’s not it at all. What if it’s a backhanded comment? Like:

“Did you hear about Kara?”

“I did. What a shame…”

“Yeah, I guess you never expect an angel to set the world on fire.”

–or–

Maybe it’s a ‘thing’ a character says.

“You really screwed up this time, Mary.”

“Maybe I have, but you know what they say–no one expects and angel to set the world on fire!”


Words. Words. Words. Love ’em or hate ’em–but they affect all of us. Even the none writing people in our lives (or in this world.)

I like the latter of the two. I like the ‘catch phrase,’ for lack of a better term.

“Life’s too short, man. And you know what they say…”

Happy writing! xxoo-A

Friday in Review — Six of Crows

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A little over a month ago I began the #BooksWithFriends Challenge with my crit partner Michelle Bond–and look! I finally finished!

In my defense, I get my books from the library–and the waiting list was long… The title Michelle choose for me was SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo.

I’m going to steal a page from Michelle’s playbook and post the general description from GoodReads.com on here for you to aquatint yourself with the title–if you don’t already know it.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

The ambiance of this novel reminded me of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA by Scott Lynch, and maybe even a little bit of THE BLADE ITSELF by Joe Abercrombie. There is a grit to these titles, just as there is grit to THE SIX OF CROWS. Now, no one likes an antihero who had a soft life. Where does the hate come from? Where is their drive for vengeance if not born from trials, tribulations, and an inherent need to survive. Okay, maybe more Locke Lamora than The Blade Itself–but the ambiance… read them all and you’ll see what I mean.

SIX OF CROWS is a longer book–running over 400 pages–but there is a lot of of world building and back story that is intergral to the plot. You need to travel those first 250 pages to float through the rest of the novel. It’s worth the work–I promise you that.

Each character presented was relatable and likable (in their own warped way.) Yes, they aren’t Mother Teresa, but you felt for them. You rooted for them. You wanted them to win.

But here is my complaint.

Above I’ve listed three books. All three of these titles are series. THE LIE OF LOCKE LAMORA is book #1 in the Gentleman’s Bastards Series. THE BLADE ITSELF  is book #1 in the First Law series. SIX OF CROWS is book #1 in it’s own series as well. Book two–CROOKED KINGDOM–was released on September 27th.

Now–what they have in common are:

  • great characters
  • general ambiance
  • epic fantasy

What they don’t–both Locke Lamora and The Blade Itself are stand alone books, and The Six of Crows is not.

I am not a fan of this. I just am not. I don’t like the feeling I’m being bullied into a series. When I arrived at the cliff hanger of an ending it immediately squashed the excitement I had for this title. I wanted a conclusion to this adventure. Does that mean that there can’t be a sequel–absolutely not. Let’s use Star Wars as an example.

I’ve come to notice this seems to be a YA thing. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are Adult titles out there that have open ended finales so you’ll ‘tune in next week’ for the new title–whenever that will be. Over all, I find it disappointing.

It may be my age, but I look at series like this–J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t have to do this to make me move on to the next title. Neither did J.K. Rowling.

I’m not going to say, “don’t read this book,” because I really did enjoy Bardugo’s writing style, and the world, characters, relationships, magic, etc.–but that doesn’t change the hit of disappointment lingers like a bad taste in my mouth.

I wish this trend would go away. I think we would all be better if it did.

 

 

Friday in Review–Toby’s Room

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“Toby’s Room” by: Pat Barker

TOBY’S ROOM isn’t my normal read. Yes, I like a good historic fiction from time to time, but in my experience a good story is hard to find.

I picked up TOBY’S ROOM for an online course I was taking on World War I heroism and art. There was a list, and this was the first one my library had a digital copy of–so it won out over all the rest. This may not sound like the most compelling reason to read a novel, but it turned out to be luck of fate.

I very much like the sadness that encompassed Toby’s Room.

Toby’s Room is the story of the civilians during WWI. More specifically, artists. Before this war–the war to ‘end’ all wars–the world was a much different place. Imperialism was just coming to an end, and how we–the public–viewed war was filled with chivalry and grand gestures. World War I put men in trenches and was anything but whimsical and heroic.

The story was twisted, much as life often is. There are a lot of gray areas in the real world. Moments that complicate life, making it anything but cut and dry. That is what I enjoyed the most about this tormented tale.

There are so many moments you should look away. Too many broken people who deserve your charity rather than your gawking–but gawking I did. From the first chapter to the last.

No, this is not an every persons book. If you don’t like history, or war, or gray patches–you may want to pass. But I feel the complexity of the character and Ms Barker’s ability to force you to feel compassion, even for those who don’t deserve it, will leave you turning pages.

Happy reading! xxoo-A

What do you do for a living? (and other loaded questions)

I’ve been writing for a long time, but its only recently I’ve called myself a writer. When meeting new people, and they ask what I do, I tend to say, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.” This isn’t a lie. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for nearly five years now. (It will be five years next month. Let’s have a party. You can bring the chips.) As I was saying–I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I’m also a writer.

Why is it so hard for me to answer, “What do you do?” with, “Well, I’m a writer!”

It shouldn’t be hard, but it always is.

Somehow this last book I wrote–the one currently on submissions–helpped me bridge this gap in the personal assessment of myself. Now, I’m a, “stay-at-home mom, who writes when my child is in school.” So, I have yet to cross the entire bridge, but I’m a lot closer than before.

Now, instead of hearing about how much fun I must have ‘playing’ all the time, I get a new reply:

“Oh! That’s so interesting! What to do you write?”

“I wrote a novel. It’s science fiction.”

“Oh…” Quick subject change. (You know…because science fiction has a bad rap of being boring. It’s not. Read better books.)

But back to the issue at hand. The conundrum of “am I a writer” falls in the same vein as “if a tree falls in the forest and no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Yes, it makes a sound, and yes, I’m a writer. No, I’m not on the New York Times Bestseller list–but neither have been many other writers. Maybe I will be one day. I’m not sure of that, but I am sure I’ll be published.

No, I’m not being egotistical. It’s just what needs to be done. But until that day is cemented in stone, I here by announced that I’m a writer. So if you meet me at a party (or more likely on a play ground) to answer your, “What do you do?” question is, I write.

And soon I hope to be sharing some of that writing on here for your pleasure! Do you write? Do you post it online? Leave me a link in the comments section so I can check you out!

Happy writing!! xxoo-A

Friday in Review–The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin

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THE PECULIAR MIRACLES OF ANTOINETTE MARTIAN, is the story of sisters Rose and Lily Martin. As children they were the best of friends. Raised on a flower farm in Tennessee–they were the sisters we all wish we had. Finishing each other sentences and dreaming of flowers and a life together–life was perfect until one day Rose had a daughter named Antoinette.

Antoinette is special. She is autistic to such a degree she needs constant care and supervision, but Antoinette is special beyond her diagnosis. She can heal with her touch and bring peace to places and situation where there once wasn’t any.

The birth of Antoinette, and her condition, drove the sisters apart–but can it bring them back together?

I very much enjoyed this book–heart wrenching, beautiful, and well written, PECULIAR MIRACLES is wonderful book that I’m so very glad I took the time to read. Very much like the author, Stephanie Knipper, PECULIAR MIRACLES has this way of drawing you in. Warm and caring, this world surrounds you with magic and and new beginnings.

Check it out here, and check out Stephanie Knipper on her blog.

Books with Friends Challenge!

I’m excited, but I’m sure you could tell from the exclamation in the title. Autumn is nearly upon us (and by ‘us’ I’m referring to people who enjoy more than one season like we do in Los Angeles.) I may live in a perpetual like summer climate, but I am still a fan of fall and of reading. And that brings us back to my very first statement: I am excited!–for the Books With Friends Challenge being presented by the ladies at Love, Live, Read YA!

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The “Books With Friends Challenge” is as easy as they come.

First–find a friend. In my case I’m teaming up with the talented and effervescent Michelle Joyce Bond–my friend (check), crit partner (double check), and I’m almost 95% certain she’s going to be the next Bond in the films. (Sorry, Daniel Craig.) You can check out her blog here!

Second–swap book titles. I picked, SANDMAN SLIM, for Michelle:

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And Michelle choose, SIX OF CROWS, for me:

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Third–read the books and then swap more titles!

Head over to Live, Love, Read YA and sign up! And remember, when you read tweet about it with #BooksWithFriends. The Challenge runs September 1st-October 31st.

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Check back with Michelle and me to see what we’re reading, we’ve read, and what we think of each title thrown our way!

Will you join us?

Aryn Youngless