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Friday
Jun142013

What a Woman Can't 

So I haven't written poetry since junior high. Forgive my greeness.
Simply stated...I felt compelled. Thank you, Delilah S. Dawson or the inspiration! (P.S. Jessica formatted this beautifully, but Squarespace refused to let those indents stand).

 

 

What a Woman Can’t
By: Tee Tate

 

Tell me what a woman can’t do

Tell me a woman
can’t write you a story
without heart,
without soul,
Without the need of a man

Tell me a woman
can’t struggle,
can’t inspire
can’t fight,
can’t desire.


Tell me a woman
can’t rule,
can’t teach,
can’t judge,
can’t preach.

Tell me a woman
can’t birth worlds
of impossible,
of the surreal,
of the sublime.

Tell me a woman
isn’t necessary,
isn’t essential,
isn’t a part of the conversation.

And I will tell you a few things

A woman is
a creature of limitless strength,
of insurmountable power.

She folds cells and atoms in the palm of her hand,
into mass, into pumping, thriving hearts,
into life, into being, into me,

into you,

into the mouth that you use to belittle her
to disrespect her purpose
her sense and every hope, dream, fulfillment, mistake.

She imagines a world where
even you,
yes you,
little man,

little scared

little frightened

LITTLE MIND

are free to spew your venom.

She cradles
life, music, dance, rhythm,
souls, purpose, intelligence, design,
while you,
sit back and judge,
while you,
ponder her purpose,
while you,
seek to control, to domineer, to shame.

A woman gives
hope
love
laughter
strength
to thousands like her,
yes, even those who
refuse to honor her in name, in voice.

She leads
armies,
settles violence,
eradicates misery, poverty, intolerance
shifts the face of history.

Don’t
Tell me what a woman can’t do.
Because she’ll always,
always,
show you what she can.

Thursday
May302013

Texts From A Potter Newbie

So. I have this friend. She's a smart lady, a professional and a serious bookworm. But in all the years I've known her, she has refused to read any of the books I recommend. She's more of an "airport fiction" gal. I'm drawn to the fantastic.

I am a Potter Nerd.

She is not.

This past week we were discussing the various pros and cons of our favorite books. She said she likes journey fiction. She likes a big, strapping hero; she likes stories about very wicked villains and heroes with supreme flaws.

I told her “then Potter would be perfect for you.”

“No,” she said, “it’s for kids.”

Then I regaled her on the many and various reasons that Potter is absolutely not simply a children’s series. (I did not scare her with information on fanfiction or just how devious the Potter fandom truly is).

Begrudgingly, she agreed to read the series. What follows is her texts to me based on her knee-jerk reaction to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. (They are not screenshots because I’ve yet to figure that one out on my new Galaxy).

I’ll do my best to keep you updated, because, let’s face it, there’s nothing better than someone discovering a new world. Well, that’s not true. What’s better than that, is watching that discovery first hand.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – The Boy Who Lived

 “Wait. They’re just gonna leave a baby on the doorstep? What if he gets frostbite?”

“He’s not going to get frostbite. Keep Reading.”

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – The Vanishing Glass

“Okay. Harry’s family are snots. Please tell me he grows up to kick their asses.”

“He grows up to kick ass. That’s all I’m saying.”

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – The Keeper of the Keys

“Oh, I know what’s going to happen…that furry guy is going to kick the uncle’s ass.”

“What furry guy?”

“The one that kicked in the door.”

“You mean Hagrid?”

“Yeah. Him. He’s going to eat them.”

“LOL! No, boo, Hagrid isn’t going to eat anybody. Keep reading!”

 

 *Apparently, I may have been correct in recommending the series because I did not hear from my friend for hours and hours. My evil plan, she is working.*

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – The Midnight Duel

“I think Ron has a problem with strong women. He sure hates Hermione.”

“Maybe he’s just deflecting. Maybe he really thinks she’s shiny.”

“Nah. She likes Harry.  They’re gonna hook up.”

O___o “KEEP READING”

(and my Good Ship heart broke just a wee bit).

 

Tuesday
Mar262013

Review: Ever After by Kim Harrison 

Ever Afterever after
Kim Harrison
Harper Voyager
ISBN-10: 0061957917
Release Date: January 22, 2012

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing… for the worse.

While saving the world is important, it isn’t Rachel’s only motivation. There’s also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It’s also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He’s already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn’t give herself up soon, they’ll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn’t going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She’s also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she’s going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones… and prevent an apocalypse before it’s too late. Or, at least that’s the plan.

 

Kim Harrison has expectations. She expects, by way of her lush, comforting writing, for her fans to enjoy the time they spend in the Hollows. Readers in return know what to expect from her. There are no sweeping recaps of previous books in her series; no milling around, browsing the memory to recall “where we left off” with Rachel, Jenks and Ivy.  Ever After, the eleventh book in what will be a thirteen book series, does what many Hollows books in the past have done: it quickly reminds readers why they come back again and again to Harrison’s world.

In Ever After we travel to the Hollows, Harrison’s community of the supernatural where bounty hunter Rachel Morgan tries to capture some semblance of normalcy as she chases down evil doers and avoids getting killed. Harrison again complicates the plot and lifts hurdles already set high by her previous novels. Stakes are raised, loyalties are tested and, ultimately, it is up to Rachel to secure the safety of those she cares for and for herself. But this time, she isn’t solely on her own. It is the demon, Algaliarept, and elf/person-who-Rachel-crushes-on, Trent Kalamack, who completes a triquetra of power that enables Rachel to defeat her enemy. The three pair up in a unique and wonderfully intimate way to rid the Ever After, (“a magical plane that exists outside the ken of normal humans”), of a psychopathic demon bent on destruction. It is in this trio and the faith and trust they put in one another that exhibits each characters’ consistent growth. They are no longer attacking one another. They share the challenge of battle and the striking pain of loss, something that readers may have never anticipated from this small motley crew.

It is the deaths in Ever After that places Harrison into the company of writers who understand the necessary sacrifices their characters must make. Like JK Rowling and George R.R. Martin before her, Harrison is not afraid to send a beloved character or two into the “ever after,” so to speak. There are deaths, shocking deaths, in fact, but they are executed in an essential-to-the-story-arch manner. Readers feel the pain of those losses, but understand that they will cradle Rachel’s hunger for vengeance and further her quest to dole out punishment to the responsible party.

The security of the Ever After and the protection of her own life isn’t simply what motivates Rachel, but it is certainly the catalyst that forces her to trust that unflappable instinct to never surrender. It’s a task that keeps her struggling to the very end and only enhances the fast-paced race that Rachel takes throughout the novel. The pacing is perfect – all action, all conflict, that has the reader delving in deeper, makes them turn “just one more page.” From nearly the first scene Rachel is on a mission and it is one that will not allow for much pause. The conflict doubles as the plot progresses and gives readers a swift, intricate look at how complicated Rachel’s life has become.

What makes Ever After, in my opinion, one of the best Hollows novels to date is that the responsibility that Rachel has always leveled on herself, to prove she is capable of protecting, is lifting somewhat and she is finally allowing others to help her shoulder the weight. She is growing as a woman, as a heroine, and is finally admitting that she cannot do all things on her own, that she has hopes, dreams that are separate from the very heavy burden she carries.

In a genre where the heroine always gets her man and does it by kicking butt and not apologizing for needing no one’s help with the job, sometimes the “formulas” of Urban Fantasy can grow tiresome. But with Harrison’s series there are no fixed premises, no tropes that are constant and worn out. Rachel Morgan is cast as the smart, elegant hero struggling to survive, to rescue, to succeed. That she is female is inessential to her overall character and wholly encapsulates the true essence of what an Urban Fantasy novel should be.

I have a theory about Urban Fantasy novels: Fifteen years ago, Buffy Sommers became the most successfully capable, empowered heroine destined to save the world (repeatedly). With Buffy, Joss Whedon created the first truly contemporary feminist hero and it is from her metaphorical womb that Rachel Morgan, Anita Blake and Mercy Thompson was born. The difference, however, is that Rachel is the most like and separate from that female heroine paradigm. She’s smart. She makes mistakes, but she never seeks isolation and is constantly positive about her potential. She’s loved and lost, but it is the journey she takes that matters, not who is at her side with each step. This series isn’t like many in the genre; romance is secondary, it is the “spice” that cooks the gumbo, not the key ingredient that has you salivating.

Once again, Kim Harrison has given her readers a satisfying, (I don’t think I’d be remiss in saying the most satisfying), episode in the Rachel Morgan chronicles. Ever After is full of heart and heartache, loss and victory and will have Harrison’s fan eagerly waiting for Rachel’s next happy ending.

Highly recommended

 

*Review originally posted on Litstack.com 16 January 2013*

Tuesday
Jan082013

‘Days of Blood and Starlight’ by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight
Laini Taylor
Little, Brown
ISBN-10: 0316133973
November 6, 2012

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

—♦—

Laini Taylor is a world builder. That is true of all writers, particularly of those who write genre fiction, but not all Fantasy/SciFi writers can boast worlds that luxuriate in the incomprehensibly beautiful. Greater still is the challenge to bend these transcendent worlds so the reader feels as comfortable there as they are in the privacy of their own homes.

National Book Award finalist, Taylor, crafted a world within our own and brought to life a family made more of hope than blood in her novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone. We meet Karou, a blue-haired art student whose family is a small congregation of “monsters,” or chimaera folk, (creatures that have the attributes of different animals and humans), who rescued her from a fate of senseless punishment.

There is also Zusana, her sarcastic, charming best friend and, of course, Akiva, the boy who means more to her than she realizes, and whose love has breached the infinite depths of time and space. After the first read (because, trust me, it is impossible to refrain from multiple readings of this novel), you will be so fully immersed in Karou’s story, her epic and heartbreaking bond with Akiva, and the damage done to them by war, that your fingers itch to turn the pages of the next installment.

Next week, those itchy fingers will be satisfied.

Days of Blood and Starlight continues Karou’s journey, but it is a trek that is not solely hers to take. Returning again ,and with greater focus, is Zusana and her mission to sort out what happened to her best friend, and Akiva, who searches for Karou and, more hopefully, the forgiveness he believes she will never give him.

The sequel finds Karou in the company of her enemy, taking up the mantel that her surrogate father, Brimstone, carried: the resurrection of their people. Initially, Karou disregards, or perhaps, ignores her own heartache, choosing to coat her shock and loss in a thick veil of rage. Akiva is the source of that rage and Karou seems content to hold tight to her belief that he alone is responsible for her sorrow.

War continues between the few remaining chimaera rebels and the seraphim, Akiva’s people who have sought to decimate the “beasts” with little discretion. But with lifetimes spent in the death and destruction of the enemy, factions – small though they may be – grow weary and separately begin to breathe life into newborn rebellions.

There is heartache in this sequel, understandable when central to this novel is love and loss. There are also moments of shock and sheer joy, some surprising yet bittersweet and expected.

Taylor’s gift is, yes, the imaginative worlds she has woven with her series, but it is hardly her only talent. Words and worlds collide between her pages. Loves are lost and won. Hopes are forgotten and renewed, all made real and vivid. Throughout her novels, Taylor conjures the mystical, the surreal natures of impossible creatures who breathe full gasps of hope and promise. Their struggles become ours, their triumphs and tragedies are felt in our hearts.

Once again, Taylor works enormous magic with simple words, surreal worlds and finely drawn characters. Daughter of Smoke and Bone whetted our appetite and Days of Blood and Starlight leads us deeper into this magical world interwoven with ours. After thoroughly enjoying the latest adventures of Karou and her friends, there is only one question left to ask: where will Taylor take us next?

Friday
Aug242012

My Review of The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

The Bellwether Revivals
Benjamin Wood
Viking Adult
ISBN-10: 0670023590

The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris’s charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal — and perhaps more — through the power of music.

In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden’s powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden’s parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else.

 — ♦ —

Some writers weave magic with words. Some are able to breathe into being, between the black and white lines of their novels, manifestations of wonder. And when this magical birth is done by hands debuting in publishing, the feat itself because something that verges on the miraculous.

Benjamin Wood has accomplished such a task with his novel The Bellwether Revivals.

With a voice akin to the vibrant shades in a van Gogh masterpiece, Wood’s characters become wholly realized, their conflicts and behaviors fully exhibited on each page.

The Bellwether Revivals concerns Oscar Lowe, a nursing home care worker who befriends the Bellwethers, a wealthy family in Cambridge. Oscar falls for Iris Bellwether and becomes mates with her brother Eden. Cambridge itself is drawn in such a way that it becomes as essential to the novel as the love affair and necessity that lyrics and music play in the plot.  But it is the mystery – beginning with Eden Bellwether “still breathing, but faintly,” and the assorted assembly of other bodies that inform the reader that this will not be a simple story. True, it reads very much like a love letter to Cambridge as well as a romance, but there is danger, there is madness and the question of the limits of faith.

Eden Bellwether could be many things: scrupulous villain, genius, we aren’t sure and that question is left unanswered in the story. But Woods orchestrates the characters and his mysteries with depth, with heart, that makes uncertainty altogether unimportant.

As readers, we are asked to draw our own conclusions, to vilify or immortalize the characters according to our own opinions. It’s a risky, perhaps presumptuous device to use, but it is one that Wood executes beautifully. With The Bellwether Revivals, Woods has reminded readers why they fell in love with such literary class as Brideshead Revisited and the type of story telling that rustles them into the discomfiture and brilliance of worlds not visited, where assumption and belief, faith or logic, are vital questions that they must answer for themselves.

You will conclude your reading of this novel feeling satisfied, feeling shocked, feeling anxious for what next world Wood will ask us to visit.

Highly recommended.