End of Semester Delays

My posting won’t go back to normal for the next two weeks, I think. I’m too distracted by the things I have to finish for my last two sets of classes.

On the up side, I have had a chance to look at lots of books recently, and I have a few to recommend.

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is a fun story in an awesome fantasy setting. My only reservations revolve around how it follows a bunch of romance genre conventions in a way that I find a little less appealing. This isn’t because I have something against good romance work — I love Bujold’s romance stories — but because I don’t like the dynamic between the two romance leads as much as I like the rest of the story. And to be clear, most of the story isn’t very heavy on the romance. But it is definitely there.

Hmm, that sounds less like the recommendation I thought I was writing and more like a warning. It’s a fun book, and I *do* recommend it. It has an Eastern European setting with witches and magic and Baba Yaga type stuff! What more could you want? I rather enjoyed it.

And, on the picturebook front, I strongly encourage you to look at Water Is Water, published last year. It is gorgeous. It has so much detail and setting layered into each image. As a Vermonter, it gave me little nostalgic quivers. It’s worth reading.

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PAX Takes Time & Birds Are Amazing

I seem to be making a habit of missing my Friday post of late. This week it was because I was at PAX East with friends (wooo, those Friday night concerts were good). I had the pleasure of seeing Joshua AC Newman and Hannah Shaffer, the latter of whom introduced me to Birds Are Amazing. You can see some of Hannah’s other projects here, and some of Joshua’s here.

I’m now in love with Birds Are Amazing and have been playing it with my friends all weekend. If you aren’t yet aware of the marvelous world of birds, you can find the tip of the iceberg right here.

Did you know that puffins grow larger by combining with one another? It’s true. When trying to mate they sometimes accidentally collapse into one larger puffin. This growth process is why there are fewer and fewer chicks in a puffin nest as the babies grow larger. Puffin eggs are actually filled with millions of tiny puffins, slowly combining until only one larger chick remains. This also means that puffins are perpetually beset by relationship anxieties surrounding loss of identity and merging.

I Guess “Jacopo’s Ridiculous Liege” Didn’t Have The Same Ring To It?

This brief post is all about showing a little appreciation for The Count of Monte Cristo, both the story written by Alexandre Dumas (which I must admit I’ve only ever read in abridged form) and the 2002 movie-version of the same tale.

I watched it again recently. I was forcibly reminded of how well Dumas wrote melodramatic excitement, and impressed by the way he wove it into the very fabric of his stories. As an overweening revenge fantasy filled with now clichéd twists, there’s still something classically appealing about the whole thing.

But I admit, the standard storyline gets a little same-old, same-old. There’s only so far my appreciation for Dumas’ excellent treatment of the form will take me before I start rebelling. No matter how much the movie may claim that Edmond Dantes is the main character, the one most deserving of our attention, I can’t help but feel that he (and his frenemy Fernand Mondego) are whiny and/or stupid assholes.

No, Jacopo is the one I like best.

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That’s right, that guy right there. Jacopo, as played by Luis Guzmán. He’s smart (if not a genius), he’s loyal, and he has his head set firmly on his shoulders. When Dantes first lays out his plans for revenge, Jacopo responds: Why not just kill them? I’ll do it! I’ll run up to Paris – bam, bam, bam, bam. I’m back before week’s end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?

This line is almost delivered as comedy, maybe at Jacopo’s expense for being so simpleminded. But the truth is, Jacopo more or less has the right of it. And that continues to be the case throughout the entire story. He goes along with Dantes because he swore that he would be his man after Dantes spared his life, but that doesn’t stop Jacopo from pointing out Dantes’ insanities and obsessions. I’m rarely happier watching this movie than when Luis Guzmán is on screen.

It’s a good thing I like watching him so much, because I think I’ll need to revisit this film again soon for some appropriate inspiration to my various swashbuckling-esque stories. It’s good stuff.

Last Days of Loneliness: 4/7/2016

Whoops. I missed Friday’s post. Fortunately I have some new material for Last Days of Loneliness, something I put together in response to questions from my workshop group at Simmons.

Enjoy!

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The March North, by Graydon Saunders

March-North

I’ve been telling my housemate Books to read this ever since I started the series back in March. They haven’t listened to me, much to their detriment. You have a chance to do better by yourself and read this book. And if you have any appreciation for feminism, transhumanism, powerfully egalitarian worlds, entirely in-character narration, and a series that finally recognizes just how screwed up a world with horrifyingly powerful wizards would be, then you totally should read it.

To give you a little perspective, I’ve now read all three books in the series so far. I started in March. I’ve been overly busy with school for the past two weeks, to the point of feeling like tearing out my hair, and I read the third book in only a few days during that time anyway. This is good stuff. The delivery is dense, and you may have to work to keep up every so often, but it’s quite exceptionally good.

I’ll admit, the first book might not be for everyone. If you can’t enjoy military fantasy, it might not be your cup of tea. The next few have their idiosyncrasies too: I didn’t expect to have so much fun reading about people moving huge piles of dirt. But those idiosyncrasies are a mostly transparent patina on top of stories about self-discovery, formulation of identity, and choice. You may find other themes buried in here that speak to you as well (I know I did). Regardless of any lack of physical similarity, the characters in these stories are deeply human, people who are wonderful to discover.

The March North, A Succession of Bad Days, and Safely You Deliver are for sale through Google Books.

More Miska: 1/28/2016 pt.2

And this is the end of my first pass through Miska’s story for now. At least until I have more time. Let me know what you think. If you missed it, the last post is here.

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More Miska 1/28/2016

One more week’s worth of words for you! This picks up immediately from where it left off.

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More Miska: 1/27/2016 pt.3

Almost done.  This picks up immediately from where we left off.

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