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06 Jul, 2016

Ebony Exodus – Time to Give Up on the Black Church?

/ posted in: Reading Ebony Exodus – Time to Give Up on the Black Church? The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion--and Others Should Too by Candace R.M. Gorham
on September 1st 2013
Pages: 224
Genres: Nonfiction
Published by Pitchstone Publishing
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Goodreads

Black women are the single most religious demographic in the United States, yet they are among the poorest, least educated, and least healthy groups in the nation. Drawing on the author’s own past experience as an evangelical minister and her present work as a secular counselor and researcher, <em>The Ebony Exodus Project</em> makes a direct connection between the church and the plight of black women. 

The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey reported that 86% of black people identified as Christian. Black women make up the majority of most congregations in black churches.

The Ebony Exodus project is a collection of interviews with women who have left the church.  In between the personal interviews, there are discussions of the effect of the black church culture on mental health and physical health.

Several of the women identified the church’s attitude towards homosexuality as a factor in leaving.  Some of them were bisexual or lesbians themselves and others had family or friends who they didn’t want to see denigrated by the church.

The difficulties of leaving an institution that for many people defines the black experience in America is discussed.  Who are you as a woman in the African-American community if you aren’t in church?

Anti-intellectualism rears it head again.  Many women talked about studying their way out of the church (like I did.)  They hate the fact that so many people don’t know anything about the religion that they purport to believe in.

What is the affect of the prosperity gospel teaching on the black community?  What happens when you give the money you had to pay your bills to the church because you are supposed to believe that god will provide for you if you are supporting the church?  Is this helping to keep black women in poverty?

One thing that seemed very different in the black churches described here and the white churches I knew was the idea that you can only speak positive things.  If you say that things are going poorly for you then you are “claiming” that reality.  It is sort of like, “Fake it ’til you make it.”  Women in this book said that it leads to suppression of what is really going on in their lives. No one shares the real problems.  No one admits to be stressed or depressed and may not get the help they need since they are too busy “claiming” their wonderful realities that they want to have. There is also a tendency to blame bad things on a person having demons attached to them.  Nothing is the fault of circumstances that the person can improve on their own.

I’ve never understood why Christianity is so rampant in the African-American community.  It doesn’t seem logical to me.  It is a religion forced on their ancestors by their oppressors as a way of controlling them.  It would seem like people would be in a rush to get rid of it.

 

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26 May, 2016

Midnight Taxi Tango

/ posted in: Reading Midnight Taxi Tango Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba, #2) by Daniel José Older
on January 5th 2016
Pages: 319
Series: Bone Street Rumba #2
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New York
Also in this series: Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba, #1), Battle Hill Bolero

The streets of New York are hungry tonight... Carlos Delacruz straddles the line between the living and the not-so alive. As an agent for the Council of the Dead, he eliminates New York’s ghostlier problems. This time it’s a string of gruesome paranormal accidents in Brooklyn’s Von King Park that has already taken the lives of several locals—and is bound to take more.
The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie's botánica, where she worked. But the closer they’ve gotten, the more she’s seeing the world from Carlos’s point of view. In fact, she’s starting to see ghosts. And the situation is far more sinister than that—because whatever is bringing out the dead, it’s only just getting started.

Goodreads

In Half-Resurrection Blues we met Carlos, a half-dead agent for the New York Council of the Dead.  He has no memory of the time before he was killed and sort of brought back to life.  He had a short fling with a woman he met who is like him and she left him when she found out that she was pregnant.  It is now several months later.

Kia is 16 and runs a Santeria shop after school.  When she was 7 she went with her beloved older cousin Gio to watch a house of a friend of his.  The friend said that there were strange men outside his house every night and Gio wanted to see what was going on.  That night the men, who appeared to be made out of bugs, attacked his friend Jeremy.  Gio disappeared a few months later.  Kia is still mourning him deeply.  When she is attacked by a ghost in a park, she gains the ability to see the dead and it unnerves her.  She also finds out that the bug men were real and that they are back.


Older writes great characters. In this book I particularly liked Reza.  She is a bodyguard for a prostitution ring.  She likes to dress in menswear and prides herself on being very dapper.  Four months ago her girlfriend went missing while on a job.  No trace of her has been found.  Now another woman from the company was abducted.  Reza and her boss decide to shut down the prostitution business and go after people that they decide are evil.  This brings them into contact with Carlos and Kia when their investigations overlap.

I liked this book in the series better than the first. I’m interested to see how this series develops.

#socksunday with Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel Jose Older

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

About Daniel José Older

“Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa NocturnaHe co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.comSalonBuzzFeed, Fireside Fiction, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs around New York and he teaches workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis.” – from his website

16 May, 2016

Code Name Papa

/ posted in: Reading Code Name Papa Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight by John Murray
on September 30th 2015
Pages: 326
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Format: Paperback
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Who'd have thought a bright, but fairly ordinary young man from middle class America who got just above average grades, dated the same girl throughout high school and went to church most Sundays, would grow up to eventually head a very secretive band of brave individuals--both men and women--who regularly put their lives on the line because they wanted to protect the rest of you. Yet that's what we did, often sacrificing our personal lives (four marriages for me, all in the book) and our health (countless broken bones, major surgeries, even death) to do it.
Meanwhile you're just going to have to call me "Papa" like everyone else around the globe has through most of those wildly unpredictable and dangerous years.

Goodreads

 

John Murray joined the Marines during the Vietnam War after working as a police officer in Florida.  He becomes friends with two men named Jake and Bill.  Over time he finds that Jake’s father is a powerful man who has the power to make things happen for him, including getting him out of the Army.

Eventually, Jake’s father offers them all a job.  He heads a team of people who are the American branch of an international organization who kill people that governments can’t touch for various reasons.  They will be given cover careers but will be out of contact with their families for much of the time and they can tell no one what they actually do.

Not a lot is explained about how it all works.  Jobs are assigned but by whom?  How is this funded?  He says over and over that it isn’t illegal but defined how?  I kept waiting for the plot twist.  You know the one.  In the thriller the main character is working for a shadowy organization and eventually realizes that he is on the side of evil.  Spoiler alert – it doesn’t happen here.

Some of the locations discussed in Code Name Papa

The stories of the jobs are told in a very matter of fact style.  There is not much emotion expressed about the many people who died in these jobs except for when it was decided to kill innocent people to eliminate witnesses.  The descriptions are brutal but clinical instead of sensationalized.  It is a lot like listening to war veterans discuss battles.

When Jake’s father becomes ill, John takes over the running of the team.  He decides how to recruit and train new members.  He decides how to get jobs accomplished.  He makes decisions like requiring all female team members to have a hysterectomy because periods are inconvenient but the men don’t need to be castrated (because I guess testosterone never leads to anything bad happening?).

I read the book in one day because I found it intriguing but the more you think about it the more disturbing it becomes.  I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone who is bothered by reading about violence.  The husband read this book also.  Like me he was quickly absorbed into the story and read it over the course of a few days.

 

I received a copy of this book from the author for possible review.

05 May, 2016

Half-Resurrection Blues

/ posted in: Reading Half-Resurrection Blues Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba, #1) by Daniel José Older
on January 6th 2015
Pages: 326
Series: Bone Street Rumba #1
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New York
Also in this series: Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba, #2), Battle Hill Bolero

“Because I’m an inbetweener—and the only one anyone knows of at that—the dead turn to me when something is askew between them and the living. Usually, it’s something mundane like a suicide gone wrong or someone revived that shouldn’ta been.”
Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.
One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.
But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death…

Goodreads

After reading Shadowshaper I was interested in reading more from Daniel José Older.  I liked the world building a lot more in this novel.

No one knows quite what Carlos is.  He has no memory of his life before the day he died.  He was picked up by some ghosts and taken to a safe house where he recovered.  He isn’t a ghost but can see and interact with them.  He was thought to be one of a kind until another person like him shows up and starts trying to harm some of the most powerful ghosts in New York.

I love the idea that there is a bureaucracy of the dead in New York.  Carlos works for the afterlife’s law enforcement.  His partners are actual ghosts and this leads to issues like never being able to hand anything directly to him in sight of the living because nothing upsets live people like seeing a coffee cup float through the air.

He also seeks help from a gay Santeria priest and the teenager that runs the priest’s store when he has spiritual and magical issues to resolve.  Add in a paramedic with interest in the occult and a Haitian trauma surgeon for physical help when needed and he is set.

My only quibble with this book is that the female characters aren’t written as strongly as the male ones.  I know that he gets better with this because I read later books first so that’s good, but in this one the love interest Sasha pretty much seems to exist only as an object of Carlos’ desire.  You don’t get a lot of insight into what she is thinking about the situation.  Even when an attempt is made to show her point of view, it is flat compared to the way he writes men.

This is a good start to a series.  I’m interested in seeing where he takes this.

About Daniel José Older

“Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa NocturnaHe co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.comSalonBuzzFeed, Fireside Fiction, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs around New York and he teaches workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis.” – from his website

18 Apr, 2016

The Shadow Speaker

/ posted in: Reading The Shadow Speaker The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor
on October 2nd 2007
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Niger

In West Africa in 2070, after fifteen-year-old "shadow speaker" Ejii witnesses her father's beheading, she embarks on a dangerous journey across the Sahara to find Jaa, her father's killer, and upon finding her, she also discovers a greater purpose to her life and to the mystical powers she possesses.

Goodreads

I’ve been having a sort of disappointing book year.  It isn’t unusual for me not to give out many 5 star ratings.  I just did 7/170 last year.  But so far this has been a solidly 3 star book year for me.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like them.  It means that I liked them enough to finish them but they aren’t going to stay with me.

The Shadow Speaker was such a breath of fresh air.  From the beginning it was wonderful to sink into the world of Nnedi Okorafor’s imagination.

“Kwàmfà, Ejii’s home, was a town of slim palm trees and sturdy gnarled monkey bread trees, old but upgraded satellite dishes, and sand brick houses with colorful Zulu designs.  It was noisy, too; its unpaved but flat roads always busy with motorbikes, camels, old cars and during certain parts of the year, even the occasional truck.  Kwàmfà was also known for its amazing carpets and after the Great Change, in the shadier parts of the market, its flying carpets.”

After a nuclear war, so called Peace Bombs were dropped by a militant environmental group.  They caused a lot of molecular changes to Earth including rapid forest growth and the development of metahumans with special skills.  It also opened passages to other planets with civilizations very different from Earth.  Ejii is a Shadow Speaker.  She can see long distances and see in the dark.  She can hear shadows talking to her but can’t understand what they are saying.  Shadow speakers get an urge to wander but it isn’t safe to travel now and most of them die young during their travels.

Ejii’s father was the chief of her village.  He made women cover and hide themselves and said it was for their own protection.  He was assassinated by Jaa, a female leader.  Life has been going well in Kwàmfà for the last five years but now Jaa is leaving.  Ejii knows that her father’s younger wives have a grudge against her mother and her half siblings are planning to move against Ejii because she is a metahuman.  When Jaa asks her to go with her to a meeting with representatives of other worlds she knows she has to go regardless of the risks of travel.


There is so much to love in this book.  One of the favorite parts of reading this author is seeing all the amazing and unique ideas she comes up with.

  • A talking camel who named himself Onion because onions are his favorite food
  • A planet whose technology is all based on plants
  • Ghosts that act as advisors in a conference room
  • Trickster gods who act as guardians of the passages between planets
  • Wild cats who debate with themselves whether or not to eat you
  • Guardian owls

I was excited to see that the planet that they visit for the meeting is the world from Zahrah the Windseeker.  I loved seeing the apes that made an appearance in that book show up in totally different circumstances here.

My only minor quibble is the ending.  The books ends with a character telling Ejii that she has to tell her a story about what has been happening while Ejii was on her journey.  I want to know that story!  I want more!

If you haven’t read this author yet, you need to.  It isn’t necessary to read Zahrah the Windseeker first to read this book.  Both of these books would be considered MG/YA so they are easy reads and a great entry point to her work before reading her adult novels.

 

07 Apr, 2016

The True Game

/ posted in: Reading The True Game The True Game by Sheri S. Tepper
on 1996
Pages: 501
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

In the lands of the True Game, your lifelong identity emerges as you play-Prince or Sorcerer, Demon or Doyen. Raising the dead is the least of the Necromancer's Talents-he is a wild card who threatens the True Game itself. A giant stalks the mountains. Shadowpeople gather by the light of the moon. Bonedancers raise up armies of the dead. And the Wizard's Eleven sleep trapped in their dreams. Players, take your places. The final Game begins now...

Goodreads

If you’ve spent much time around here you know that I’m a fairly rabid Sheri S. Tepper fan.  I’ve had this trilogy on my shelf for a while.  I actually read book one before but got bogged down in book two.  I was going to read her most recent book and then realized that she is tying together a lot of her series in that book and that I needed to have read this to understand that.  So, I decided in the spirit of Weirdathon (because it totally fits that) and Read My Own Damn Books, that I was going to get through this in March.

These are the first books that she published.  Because of that they are fairly different from the later books of her that I love for their feisty feminist and ecological perspectives.  These are more straight high fantasy.

King's Blood Four (Land of the True Game, #1)King’s Blood Four by Sheri S. Tepper

In this world, people in the upper classes will manifest a magical power by their late teens. They then spend the rest of the lives (which may not be long) caught up in Games, which are magical duels. Some of these are massive battles that can destroy whole regions.  Some people can fly, others can transport things, others can charm people into following them, some can read minds, etc. There are 11 major powers and then numerous subcategories that can mix together weakened versions of the main eleven.

Peter is a foundling being educated at a school for boys who will grow up to be part of the game. He hasn’t shown a power yet when a scandal requires him to leave the school. On his journey he stumbles across a carved set of game pieces representing the first people who had each of the major powers. He thinks they are just toys until he realizes that when he holds them he can manifest the powers of each of them.

This is a complicated world that you get dropped down into.  I generally like books that don’t spell out everything for you right off but I had a hard time understanding all the rules of the world the first time through this book.  This is my favorite of the trilogy.

 

Necromancer Nine (Land of the True Game, #2)Necromancer Nine by Sheri S. Tepper

Peter begins to find out the secret behind his game pieces as he follows clues to the land of the wizards where these “toys” are made.

This book was slow for me.  There are some very troubling stories about women here.  I would have been uncomfortable with them if I didn’t know that the author became a great feminist writer.  It seemed like this was her starting to put her own ideas of women overcoming submission into her stories.  They don’t quite get the payoffs that they will in future novels but it was interesting to see the start of this part of her creative process.  I can see why I didn’t get through this one the first time.  I powered through it because I was determined more than I was really enjoying it.

Wizards Eleven (Land of the True Game, #3)Wizards Eleven by Sheri S. Tepper

It is hard to talk about the plot of this one without giving away spoilers for the other books. This one was much better than the second. The female characters get much stronger. I absolutely love the giant birds who pull a wagon. Peter shows some emotional growth as he learns how to deal with his talent.

 

 


Overall, this is a good fantasy/sci fi series but not a great one.  There are glimpses here and there of the writer that she will become and you can definitely see her skills grow as she writes each book.

21 Mar, 2016

The Sari Shop Widow

/ posted in: Reading The Sari Shop Widow The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal
on 2009
Pages: 301
Genres: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New Jersey

Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents' sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison's bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling. . .
To the rescue comes Anjali's wealthy, dictatorial Uncle Jeevan and his business partner, Rishi Shah--a mysterious Londoner, complete with British accent, cool gray eyes, and skin so fair it makes it hard to believe he's Indian. Rishi's cool, foreign demeanor triggers distrust in Anjali and her mother. But for Anjali, he also stirs something else, a powerful attraction she hasn't felt in a decade. And the feeling is mutual. . .

Goodreads

Anjali has been working in her parents’ sari shop in New Jersey since her husband’s sudden death ten years ago.  She loves designing clothes that are fancy enough for special occasions and weddings.  Her father handles the finances so she doesn’t know that they are close to bankruptcy until he calls in his dictatorial older brother from India to bail out the business.  He brings his new business partner to help.

This is a typical chick lit story with the twist that Anjali lives with her very conservative Indian immigrant family.  That made this book a bit frustrating to read from a western feminist perspective.  The male love interest is way too pushy to be appropriate in my opinion.  He figures out ways to control her whole life without discussing it with her.  At one point a meeting is called with Anjali’s mother, father, uncle, and the love interest to discuss his relationship with her.  She was not included and no one found this odd.  I actually thought that this was going to be another obstacle in the story once Anjali found out. I was hoping that she would dump him and realize that she didn’t need him to be successful. That didn’t happen.

I’m not sure if this lack of agency in her own life was an attempt to convey what it is like to be a widow in a conservative Indian family (which was discussed and which she tried to rebel against for a while) or just the writer giving in to the trope of a rich man coming to solve all the heroine’s problems. I actually found Anjali at the beginning of the story to be more interesting than she became at the end.

There was also a disturbing amount of comment on the fact that Rishi doesn’t “look Indian” and how that made him more desirable to women.

That being said, this was a setting that I hadn’t seen before in a book. This is a high end sari shop in a neighborhood in New Jersey that is populated by Indian immigrants. This is a world where brides drop fortunes to have the most lavish wedding imaginable. I would have loved to see a book that focuses more on that.

17 Mar, 2016

Bitch Planet

/ posted in: Reading Bitch Planet Bitch Planet 1 on August 4th 2015
Pages: 136
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Science Fiction
Published by Diamond Comic Distributors
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro team up to bring you the premiere volume of "Bitch Planet," a deliciously vicious riff on women-in-prison sci-fi exploitation. In a future just a few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman's failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords will result in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. When the newest crop of fresh femmes arrive, can they work together to stay alive or will hidden agendas, crooked guards, and the deadliest sport on (or off!) Earth take them to their maker?

Goodreads

Are you a compliant woman?  Do you do everything the men in your life want you to do?  Are you skinny and attractive?

If not you might be sent to the Auxilary Compliance Outpost – otherwise known as Bitch Planet.

This volume covers the first 5 issues of Bitch Planet.  A new group of women have been sent to the planet, including a former athlete named Kamau Kogo.  On Earth there is a very important sporting competition called the Duemila or Megaton.  The producers want to put together an all-female team from Bitch Planet for the entertainment of the male spectators.  They chose Kamau to lead it.  The women agree to do it, not like they really have a choice, because they have a plan to take down the event from the inside.

 
I particularly like the end of each issue. There is a page of advertisements that make fun of the ads that you see in the back of comics.

The story is ongoing so I’m interested to see what happens when the next volume comes out.

 

11 Mar, 2016

Howl’s Moving Castle – Book Vs. Movie

/ posted in: Reading Howl’s Moving Castle – Book Vs. Movie Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
on August 1st 2001
Pages: 336
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Goodreads

I’ve read a lot of Terry Pratchett but I’ve never read any Diana Wynne Jones. I love the Howl’s Moving Castle movie by Studio Ghibli so I decided to start with that book.

The book is very different than the movie. Both start with Sophie being cursed by the Witch of the Waste and turning into an old woman. She searches out the fearsome wizard Howl to try to turn her back. In the book there are many more characters than in the movie. I think that if I had read the book first I would be annoyed by the fact that the movie got rid of all the people, but since I know that movie better, I think that it was a good decision. The book rambled at times and got confusing in trying to fit in all the characters. I know, I know, that is absolute sacrilege to like the movie better because it has less going on.

Things I love about both stories:

  • Calcifer the fire demon is my favorite.  He’s powerful and grumpy and the greatest.
  • I love the idea of a house that has a door that can open to one of four places.

I like the book better because:

  • Sophie learns that she is magical and has a very cool talent

I like the movie better because:

  • This is a story that is really enhanced by the visuals
  • I like the scarecrow being in the story more from the beginning

Have you read this and/or seen the movie?  What do you prefer?

09 Mar, 2016

Atomik Aztex

/ posted in: Reading Atomik Aztex Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster
on July 1st 2005
Pages: 203
Genres: Fiction, General
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in California

In the alternate universe of Atomik Aztex, the Aztecs rule, having conquered the European invaders long ago. Aztek warriors with totemic powers are busy colonizing Europe, and human sacrifice is basic to economic growth.
Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, is plagued by nightmares of a parallel reality where American consumerism reigns supreme. Ghosts of banished Aztek warriors emerge to haunt contemporary Los Angeles, and Zenzontli’s visions of Hell become real as he’s trapped in a job in an East L.A. meatpacking plant.

Goodreads

People who write reviews of this book fall into one of two categories.

  1. This is the most amazing book ever and this writer is BRILLIANT!!!
  2. What The F$#@ did I just read?????

 

I’m firmly in the second category.  I’ve never wanted Cliffs Notes for a book before this one.  The note at the beginning of the book includes:

“Persons attempting to find a plot in this book should read Huck Finn.”

Basically, when the Spanish crossed the ocean ready to take over Mexico, the Aztecs were ready.  They killed the invaders and then went and took over Europe.  Now they wage war to get captives to sacrifice to drive their economy.  The Aztecs also believe in a complex version of time and reality and multiple dimensions.

“The Wurlitzer of the Universe is packed with 78 rpm realities side by side. Get ready to drop your dime.”

Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness of the Aztex, a warrior on his way to help liberate Saint Petersburg during World War II, is existing in another reality as a worker in a Los Angeles slaughterhouse with a sadistic boss.  This is a strange version of reality where the Aztec were conquered by the Spanish, like that could ever happen.  This Zenzon spends his nights slaughtering pigs and is being recruited to help unionize his company.

Because of the Aztec idea of everything that ever happened is happening at the same time you get stream of consciousness discussions that reference the Beatles during World War II, for example.  There are times when some of the asides can be funny:

“the exact number of those rainforest leaves it turned out was the ever-changing combination to the doorway to several alternate realities but you know it’s so hard to guess I did get it right one time {23,901,7782,880,633 x K to the 435th power; believe me you don’t even want to know how I got it}”

That’s an exact quote – lack of punctuation and all – which is another reason why this book can be hard to read.  Besides proudly making no sense, it has it’s own spelling and punctuation.  Paragraphs can go on for pages.

I put this book aside for a while but determined to finish it for Weirdathon.  I’m arguing for this book today on Outlandish Lit as part of the Weirdathon debates.

I’ll leave you with the ending of the book.  Don’t worry about it being a spoiler.  It doesn’t have anything to do with anything else.

“I mean, sometimes I sense a monkey spirit. I could be mistaken. That’s the trouble with one’s inner life. Monkeys could be playing around with it. They’ll fuck around with your stuff if you let them. You’ll be looking for something in your inner life, some truth about your situation, in this world or some other level of existence somehow, then you’ll have to take care of some other Business, and when you turn around, when you go back and check your inner life again, just watch, the monkeys will have fucked off with something. Some part of your interior life will be fucking lost cuz of the monkeys. I don’t know what you can do about that.”

From now on whenever I go a little crazy, I’m placing the blame firmly on the monkeys.  Maybe this book was useful after all.

 

08 Mar, 2016

Ascension

/ posted in: Reading Ascension Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
on 2013
Pages: 334
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Outer Space

Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually-advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the" Tangled Axon" proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he's a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego... and Alana can't keep her eyes off her. But there's little time for romance: Nova's in danger and someone will do anything -- even destroying planets -- to get their hands on her!


I heard about this book on a list of science fiction books written by authors of color and featuring POC characters.  This book did have a very different cast of characters than you normally see in space-based science fiction books.

  • Alana Quick – 30s, dark skinned, lesbian, mechanic, living with a chronic degenerative disease
  • Nova Quick – Alana’s sister who is a spirit guide with a life goal of transcending the need to stay in her body
  • Tev – blond, lesbian, captain of the Tangled Axon
  • Slip – female, doctor, polyamorous
  • Marre – female, pilot, studied to be a spirit guide until an accident caused body parts to randomly fade in and out of existence
  • Ovie – male, engineer, may or may not actually be a wolf

Alana works in a ship yard but there isn’t much call for fixing ships anymore.  New technology from beings who came through a dimensional rift makes mechanical engines obsolete.  Alana loves engines though.  She can understand them through the sounds they make.  When the crew of the Tangled Axon lands to try to find her sister for a job, she stows away on board.  She hopes that once they are too far away to be able to easily return her, she will be able to prove her worth and be kept on as crew.

Things don’t go as she plans.  The crew use her as a hostage to get in touch with her sister.  From here things get confusing.  There is a genocide that the crew is going to be blamed for if they can’t clear their names.  There is a romance.  There is fighting between the sisters.  There is so much going on that it doesn’t always flow together into a coherent story.  I think that more world building would have helped.  You are dropped into the story without a lot of explanation, which I usually like, but this needed a little more explanation up front to truly understand what the stakes were.

I did like the way the story of a hero with chronic pain was told.  Alana is too poor to afford the cure for her disease.  She can barely afford to get the medicine that keeps her symptoms at bay and she runs out of meds while on the ship.  She finds out that her sister is able to alleviate her symptoms but it requires her to be so mentally disoriented that she can’t function normally when pain free either.  The cure she was saving up for may even be worse than the disease.  You don’t see many stories written with disabled heroines so this was an interesting point of view.

 

 

25 Jan, 2016

The Violinist of Venice

/ posted in: Reading The Violinist of Venice The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo
on December 15th 2015
Pages: 448
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Italy

Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Goodreads

This is a wonderful historical novel about the life of Antonio Vivaldi, the composer best known for writing The Four Seasons. 

I didn’t know anything about Vivaldi’s life when I started this book.

He was a priest who worked in a home for abandoned children in Venice.  He wrote many of his works to be performed by the female musicians there. These women were talented musicians who signed a promise never to perform again if they left the home to marry.

In this book, he takes a private student from a prominent family who is wonderful violinist.  As he teaches her they fall in love and begin an affair.  When the truth of this comes out, her family is scandalized.  The book follows both Vivaldi and his student, Adriana over the next thirty years to see what this affair cost them both.

The writing is wonderful and conveys the sense of place and time beautifully.  From the excesses of Carnival to sneaking around at night, you feel like you are there.  The musicians’ love of music comes through in the story and the despair that comes from being denied the right to express yourself in music.

If you’d like to win a copy, join in the #historicalfix chat on 1/26/2016 at 8:30 pm EST.  We’ll be discussing historical love stories and this book will be given away to one participant.  It will also be discussed at #bookclubfix on 2/24 at 8:30 PM.

11 Jan, 2016

The Year of Living Danishly

/ posted in: Reading The Year of Living Danishly The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
on February 1st 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Travel
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Denmark

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness.

Goodreads

What is it about people doing things for a year and writing a book about it that draws me in every time?

Helen Russell is a Londoner with a job at a magazine who is also going through IVF treatment when her husband is offered a job with Lego.  That means moving to Denmark – in January.  This isn’t Copenhagen either.  This is rural Jutland.  They decide to go for one year with Helen giving up her job and starting to freelance.

When they get there the place seems deserted.  They find out that it is because of hygge.  Hygge is the Danish word for getting cozy in the winter with candles and dinner and friends and basically hibernating until spring.

When I was reading this part of the book, I looked over to my left and saw this.

 

She also found that working all hours of the day and night doesn’t show that you are invaluable to Danish employers. To them, not getting your work done during the allotted time in the day means that you aren’t good at being efficient.  Everyone stops work in the early afternoon to spend more time with family.  I had some questions about this section though.  She only talks about office workers.  What about service industries?  Does this hold true there too?  What about medical workers?  This read a bit like the articles I see all the time that tout everyone working from home or being a geographical nomad.  I’m always thinking, “I see patients for a living.  How exactly is that supposed to work then?”

Not everything is great in Denmark though.  While women are legally treated equally, there is still a way to go on getting equality in people’s attitudes towards them.  There is also a lot of violence in the culture.  Fights are common.  There are also a lot of unwritten rules that the community enforces which can be hard for someone coming in from the outside.

The school system is good though.  High taxes mean that there is a huge support structure.  For example, college is paid for and you get up to 2 years unemployment if you decide to change jobs.  There is maternity and paternity leave.

I have been thinking about going to Denmark in 2017 for a conference.

 
Hello, tax deductable airfare and hotels!

This book made me even more interested in going.

I got this book from Bex for the Nonfiction November swap.

23 Dec, 2015

Mini Review – Magic or Madness

/ posted in: Reading Mini Review – Magic or Madness Magic Or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
on 2005
Pages: 271
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Australia

For fifteen years, Reason Cansino has lived on the run. Together with her mother, Sarafina, she has moved from one place to another in the Australian countryside, desperate not to be found by Reason's grandmother Esmeralda, a dangerous woman who believes in magic. But the moment Reason walks through Esmeralda's back door and finds herself on a New York City street, she's confronted by an unavoidable truth—magic is real.

Goodreads

Reason has been taught from a young age to believe in numbers and logic.  She has also been taught that her grandmother is a dangerous woman.  But, when she is 15, her mother has a mental breakdown and custody is given to her grandmother.

While trying to escape the house like she has been trained to do by her mother, she goes through a door that opens into New York and then can’t figure out how to get back.  She’s taken in by another girl who is magical and now Reason has to decide whose stories to believe – her mother’s or her grandmother’s.

I liked this book mostly because the Australian influence is very strong and I don’t read a lot of books like that.  Reason uses Australian slang and can’t get used to a New York winter.

The magical system is different than other books I’ve read.  Every time you use magic you are using up life force.  Magic users die young.

This is the first book of a trilogy.  As of now I’m not intrigued enough to read the rest.

 

18 Dec, 2015

Gibbon’s Decline and Fall

/ posted in: Reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall Gibbon's Decline and Fall by Sheri S. Tepper
on 1997-06
Pages: 480
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New Mexico

A wave of fundamentalism is sweeping across the globe as the millennium approaches, and a power-hungry  presidential candidate sees his ticket to success in making an example out of a teenage girl who abandoned her infant in a Dumpster. Taking the girl's case is Carolyn Crespin, a former attorney, who left her job for a quiet family life. Now she must call upon five friends from college, who took a vow to always stand together. But their success might depend on the assistance of Sophy, the enigmatic sixth friend, whom they all believed dead.

Goodreads

In 1959 a group of college freshmen bonded over making a very beautiful girl look ugly in order to help her avoid male attention. Part of her disguise was carrying Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The women call themselves the Decline and Fall Club.

Now it is the year 2000. The group still gathers annually.

Bettiann– A former beauty queen who became anorexic. She married a rich man and spends her time on charities.

Ophy – She became a doctor in an inner city ER.

Jessamine – She is a PhD who works with primate behavior.

Faye – a famous sculptor

Carolyn – a lawyer who is coming out of retirement to handle the case of a teenager who was gang raped, got pregnant, and is accused of murdering the resultant baby.

Agnes – She always wanted to be a nun but was required to get a MBA before joining in order to develop a company to make the order self sustaining. She is now Mother Superior and has been ordered by her bishop to hand over her business to local men because it isn’t proper for women to have jobs.

Sophy – Probably Native American but she would never confirm that. Traveled the world collecting women’s stories and wrote books. Disappeared three years ago but everyone else in the group thinks that they are being haunted by her.

The world in this version of 2000 has been very violent. Gangs of men are in the streets trying to shame women whom they consider to be immoral. However, slowly people are starting to notice that violent crime is dropping. The divorce rate is going up. Rapes went up sharply and then decreased. What does this have to do with Sophy’s disappearance and bands of old ladies vandalizing fashion stores?


I love Sherri S. Tepper’s books.  They are wonderfully, wholeheartedly, unashamedly feminist books.  If you like Margaret Atwood, consider reading Tepper.  I recommend The Fresco for a starting point in her books.

Sort of Spoilers

 

The end of the book offers a discussion what you would choose of the following options:

  • Heterosexual couples bond in monogamous pairs and can reproduce once every decade if they choose
  • Females become able to reproduce without men like some lizards
  • Puberty is delayed so only mature adults are able to reproduce
  • The world is similar to now but women can only get pregnant if they make a conscious decision to allow it
  • Keep the world the way it is now

What would you choose and why?

I would choose option 1.  That eliminates all the drama between people over sexual attraction and fidelity and keeps the population down.

18 Dec, 2015

Mini Review – Excavation

/ posted in: Reading Mini Review – Excavation Excavation by James Rollins
on July 3rd 2000
Pages: 448
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Peru

High in the Andes, Dr. Henry Conklin discovers a 500-year-old mummy that should not be there. While deep in the South American jungle, Conklin's nephew, Sam, stumbles upon a remarkable site nestled between two towering peaks, a place hidden from human eyes for thousands of years.
Ingenious traps have been laid to ensnare the careless and unsuspecting, and wealth beyond imagining could be the reward for those with the courage to face the terrible unknown. But where the perilous journey inward ends—in the cold, shrouded heart of a breathtaking necropolis—something else is waiting for Sam Conklin and his exploratory party. A thing created by Man, yet not humanly possible. Something wondrous . . . something terrifying.

Goodreads

 

I read this book for the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge.  It has been sitting on my shelf forever.  I don’t know where I got it.  I’m sure I picked it up because of the author.  He’s a veterinarian when he’s not writing and I have to support my people!

High in the Andes an Incan temple has been found with an intact treasure chamber.  An attempt to loot it sets off traps and then it collapses on the archeologists who go in to investigate the break in.  They are only able to escape by work their way through the puzzles built into the temple.  It is very Indiana Jones.

At the same time, a mummy removed from the area turns out to be not Incan but a Spanish priest.  Inquiries lead to the kidnapping of the lead investigator by a group of priests.  Seriously, if priests or monks show up in a contemporary story is it ever a good thing?  These guys have a wacky theory about some metal hidden in the temple and go about trying to steal it too.

I’ve read several other of his books and enjoyed them.  This isn’t one of my favorites. It can be a fun read but nothing memorable.

17 Dec, 2015

Rabid

/ posted in: Reading Rabid Rabid on 2012
Pages: 275
Genres: Medical, Science
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

A maddened creature, frothing at the mouth, lunges at an innocent victim--and, with a bite, transforms its prey into another raving monster. It's a scenario that underlies our darkest tales of supernatural horror, but its power derives from a very real virus, a deadly scourge known to mankind from our earliest days. In this fascinating exploration, journalist Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy chart four thousand years in the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies.
The most fatal virus known to science, rabies kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. A disease that spreads avidly from animals to humans, rabies has served throughout history as a symbol of savage madness, of inhuman possession. And today, its history can help shed light on the wave of emerging diseases, from AIDS to SARS to avian flu, that we now know to originate in animal populations. 
From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of mankind's oldest and most fearsome foes. 

Goodreads

I’ve had this book forever and finally read it after a staff member starting insisting that she had rabies. A stray cat bit her and died a few days later. (In my mind there is an equal chance that the staff member was poisonous to the cat.) The cat was tested and was rabies-free so all was well for the humans involved. It didn’t change things for the cat.

The first few chapters caused mass giggling in my office.

First up this is description of how Louis Pasteur collected saliva to use in developing his vaccines.

“.. watching Pasteur perform this trick with a glass tube held in his mouth, as two confederates with gloved hands pinned down a rabid bulldog.”

 

My confederates can’t hold a mildly pissed off cat with gloves on sometimes.  I pointed this out to them.  They pointed out that the next paragraph discusses how they had a loaded gun on hand in case someone got bit.  They postulated that they could shoot me and get a new job if I tried to get them to do something as stupid as holding a rabid bulldog.

Next it discusses getting the head removed from a rabies suspect.

“The first part of that process — capturing and humanely dispatching a deranged animal — is fairly standard stuff for your local vet.”

 

Well, thanks for the vote of confidence but, yeah, no.  Not routine.  At least not the deranged animal part.

“If the vet is lucky, her hospital has seen enough suspected rabies cases that it has thought to keep a hacksaw handy.”

 

Lucky?  Is that her definition of lucky?  Where does this woman practice?  I think I’m lucky in that I’m not handling rabies suspects every day.

One of my favorite vet school memories though involves putting a head back on after the brain was tested.  I was in my pathology rotation and someone had mistakenly told the owners of a large dog that they could have the body back in pristine condition after the brain was removed.  The pathologists were furious but couldn’t say no after it was promised.  I was just learning to quilt so I volunteered and spent an afternoon hand sewing a head back onto a body.  I matched points and gathered as needed.  The hair laid over the sutures to hide it.  He looked amazing, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, back to the book.  I liked the chapters about the medical aspects of the disease even if some of them made me doubt my medical training.

“Dogs, (Aristotle) wrote with an odd confidence, suffer from only three diseases:  lyssa, or rabies; cynanche, severe sore throat or tonsillitis; and podagra, or gout.”

 

Well, there’s four years of my life in vet school wasted if that’s all they get.

Other portions of this book discuss the idea that fear of rabies inspired the legends of the werewolf and the vampire.  I wasn’t as interested in those aspects as the medical ones.  Your experience may be different.

The end discusses a rabies outbreak started when someone smuggled a dog that ended up having rabies onto the previously rabies-free island of Bali in 2008.  The government’s first response was to order all dogs killed but of course, people hid their pets so that didn’t work.  Vaccination protocols were set up to contain the disease.  And that’s why governments don’t let you just bring pets into their countries just willy-nilly, even if you are a celebrity and think that laws don’t apply to you.

 

 

 

 

16 Dec, 2015

Only Ever Yours

/ posted in: Enviromentalist Wacko Posts Only Ever Yours Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
on June 30th 2014
Pages: 400
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in England

Freida and isabel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions - wives to wealthy and powerful men.
The alternative - life as a concubine - is too horrible to contemplate.
But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril.
And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.
Freida must fight for her future - even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known...

Goodreads

It was the tagline on the book that got me.  “Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale”

In this world female children are taught that their only asset is beauty.  They will be selected into one of three groups – companions, the privileged wives of men; concubines, the playthings of men; or if chosen of either of those they will be teachers who live to serve the girls yet to be chosen.  All women die before the age of 40.

Every day the girl’s popularity is ranked based on pictures taken each morning.  Their social media profiles are watched by those outside the school to see who is the best.  They have to maintain a very narrow weight range or they are but on calorie blockers.  They have to be “perfect.”

In their last year though, a change comes over Isabel.  Isabel has always been ranked number one but now she is gaining weight.  That is the worst thing that can happen to a girl.  She doesn’t seem to care though.  Frieda can’t understand why she is doing this when the boys are about to come to pick their companions.

This book seems to be meant to be accessible to those who are too young to read The Handmaid’s Tale.  It is only about the school.  You don’t have to see the lives of sex slavery that the companions and concubines are forced into.  The book ends with the selection.  The ending is very quick and nothing seems resolved.  I knocked it down a star for that.

 

 

15 Dec, 2015

Mini Reviews – Imago

/ posted in: Reading Mini Reviews – Imago Imago by Octavia E. Butler
on April 1st 1997
Pages: 224
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, General
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in the Amazon - Brazil?

The futures of both humans and Oankali rest in one young being's successful metamorphosis into adulthood.

Goodreads

 

I’ve reviewed the two other books in this series – Dawn and Adulthood Rites.  Those books made me really, really hate humans.

To sum up – humanity has been rescued and the Earth restored by an alien race after an environmental disaster in exchange for humans agreeing to cross breed with them.  Humans act like fools from then on out.

This book looks at the situation from the point of view of a cross bred child who is turning out to be the third gender seen in the alien race.  He is the first to develop in this way.  This gender is able to bond family units consisting of a human female, a human male, an alien female, and an alien male with itself.  It mixes genetic material from all the partners to make offspring.

Honestly, I enjoyed this book the most of the series but without the outrage at the humans that I had in the other books I don’t have that much to talk about.  It is a good series ender and is an interesting look at nonbinary gender relationships.

 

07 Dec, 2015

Afterworlds

/ posted in: Reading Afterworlds Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
on September 23rd 2014
Pages: 608
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Takes place in California

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.
Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

Goodreads

I picked up this book for my first attempt at #ReadYourMyDamnBooks since it has been sitting on my shelf for a while. I don’t even know where it came from.  It is the ARC so I had get it from someone else.  Thanks, whoever it was!

I found it funny that a book that I picked up read to restart my reading mojo after NaNoWriMo turned out to be about a girl who wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo.

Darcy sells her book and is given a large advance for it and another book after it.  She is just 18 and decides to defer college and move to New York to do rewrites and start the next book.  She has a strict budget.  This was the most stressful part of the book for me because I am old and cheap.  She kept doing over budget in wasteful ways.  She rented an apartment that was $500 over budget for example.  She kept going out to eat.  I honestly had to put the book down and walk away for a bit because it was stressing me out.

 

www.seniorliving.org

Every other chapter in this book is Afterworlds, Darcy’s novel.  It is the story of a girl who survives a terrorist attack by slipping into the world inhabited by ghosts.  She is able to cross back and forth and needs to learn how to function in both worlds.

Darcy spends a year learning how to navigate the YA publishing world while trying to fix everything her editor says is wrong with Afterworlds.  We are reading the finished Afterworlds after rewrites and it is interesting to see her talk about the book she wrote versus the book we are reading.

Darcy’s story is a satire about world of YA publishing from editors who love your book and then tell you to rewrite it all to the randomness of whether a book will sell well to the craziness of going on a book tour with a YA superstar when your book isn’t out yet.

There is also a lot of talk about cultural appropriation.  Darcy is Indian but not a practicing Hindu.  Does that make it ok for her to use a Hindu god as a character in her book?  Is it worse that she is using him as a love interest because he is hot?

The Afterworlds in the book has a lot of the YA tropes that people love to hate – instalove especially.  It is done on purpose to show what a high school senior with absolutely no life experience would write because all she knows is what she reads in YA.

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