Monday, December 19, 2011

Review of There Goes the Galaxy by Jenn Thorson

I have read thousands of sf novels. This is a great example of absurdist sf, much like Hitchhikers in tone and language, but I can assure you there is only one towel on one page. There is, however, a significant soap on a rope. And our hero, Bertram,and his ex, Rozz, are not merely pinging around the universe, victims of the paddles of fate, but are actively working to save themselves and the Earth.
My favorite scene is when the non-organic rights march is joined by life for tryfe march, engineered by Bertram by offering food for marchers, and then the march turns into a 5,000 member OWS riot. The interview of the compost pile was priceless.
I highly recommend this novel, and I will buy the sequel when it comes out.

Review of Finding Angel by Kat Heckenback

Seven years before the book opens, Angel was discovered wandering alone in a forest with the locket that gave her her name. She cannot remember her past, and no one claimed her, so she is growing up in a foster home with one of the sweetest little foster brothers you can imagine. Her little brother finds a black and silver beetle that sings and matches the diagram on Angel's locket. Her search to identify the beetle that does not exist on our Earth ends up propelling her into the fairie world she came from and fighting an evil that is blighting that world.
I was prepared to not like this book and add it to the Why bother finishing? sack that goes to the used bookstore; but the story sucked me in with good writing, likable characters, and magic with a twist. If you like fantasy at all, I think you will like this book.

Review of The Bars That Once Condemned Me by Stephanie Buslach

Stephanie Buslach is a member of our church, Imago Dei Vancouver or House of Providence.
The subtitle of the slim book is A Testimony About the Spiritual Implications of Depression. She wrote the book because none of the books she was given while she was hospitalized with depression addressed what she thought was most important: the lies that depression told her about herself. That is always a good reason to write a book. She works with troubled teens. And this is the perfect book to give to a teenage girl suffering from depression. Stephanie shows incredible bravery by baring some of the bad decisions she made and quoting from her diary during depressed times. She shares what God says about us versus what depression tells us.
I think this would make a great youth group book study.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

new granddaughter

Tonight Best Beloved is flying home from a week-end visit in Cleveland to visit our four-year old granddaughter and brand new granddaughter. I am lying in bed. Ah-CHOO!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review of Oxygen by John Olson and Randy Ingermanson

This is a book that will make your days drowsy as you cannot go to sleep while you keep turning just one more page. Well researched by people who understand the science and give you true tech-speech instead of bafflegab. This reprint by Marcher Lord Press includes bonus appendices that are fun to read and instructional. If you like thrillers, you will like this book.

Review of Conundrum by C.S. Lakin

Wow! What an intelligent and literate book. Because of it I now understand a certain line in a certain poem I could not get before. But what I just said should not make you afraid of the book. The real subject is how real love works. The book opens with Lis meditating on conundrums and whether or not the truth truly sets you free as she goes to visit her brother in the mental ward.
After the pain-filled visit, Lis begins to ask questions about things she was always afraid to delve into. When answers come, her whole world shakes, and her narcissistic mother attempts to destroy her before she finds out the rest of the story.
The writing is beautiful, and the motifs and resolution and discoveries are excellent and satisfying. One of the best books I've read this year.

Review of Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

I was not prepared to like Ultraviolet. Most stories about teen-age girls bug the snot out of me. And there is some creepy romance in it. Even if I liked romance, I would have found it creepy. But I ENJOYED this book. Here a girl with the worst (or best?) case of synesthesia I have ever seen (which makes it one truly colorful book) who wakes up in a mental hospital. She is so traumatized she can't remember why she is there. She collects cues and memories until she remembers that she murdered somebody with her mind! And then, and then, oh my goodness, where the story goes then. This is a page turner as a girl discovers not only what makes her tick, and her family tick, but also a few things about the universe and how perceptions can flip with some knowledge. This is one cool book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Announcement for analysts

I am not, nor do I ever hope to be a character in any of my books. My husband is not, and never will be a character in my books. My children are not, and never will be characters in my books. Nor shall I put friends in my books. Each character is a work of fiction. I have no desire to write an autobiography.
I am not a pacifist. We were in the active AF for fifteen years before our daughters' difficulties and other life circumstances forced us out. My husband was in the reserves for, I don't remember, six or seven years, until he fell from the roof and crushed his feet and became ineligible to serve. One of our sons is in the AF. We loved military life. We also like every pacifist we've ever met.
Thank you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Launch delayed

The January launch of Shatterworld has been delayed. I guess that gives me more time to plan an awesome launch party.

Review of The Restorer by Sharon Hinck extended edition

I can remember only two science fiction books that would be possible for me to identify with by having characters with my particular correlates. That's not a problem as I can easily identify with a purple slug on Neptune or a male hobbit. Still, it's nice to find a book with kinda you in it. Shivering World by Kathy Tyers has a medical technologist as a protagonist. (Onward, pipettes!) Well, she is a bacteriologist, a specialist branch. I can grow bacteria AND count red blood cells. And that book by her is my favorite.
The other book is The Restorer by Sharon Hinck. The protagonist is a housewife! A homemaker! A soccer mom! Yes! And she spends a lot of time thinking about her kids and husband.  Wow.
The last few decades as more and more women write science-fiction have seen more science fiction stories include families. There have always been families in fantasy, but few, few, few in science fiction which usually focuses on atomistic individuals against the universe. That may be a function of sf initially being primarily a young man's literature. That has been changing as more women are allowed into science careers.
The Sword of Lyric Trilogy focuses in the first book on Susan who is accidentally sucked into another universe and onto a truly odd planet.
I fell in love with the book and writer when I first read The Restorer some years ago. I grieved when it went out of print. Then Lord March Press released an extended version which includes those dotty squares your smart phone can read and play music for you. Sad to say, my smart phone is smarter than me and I can't use that app yet, but when I can, that will be the first thing I use it on. The book has been revised and includes extra scenes which enrich the reading, and study questions for a book club, and a devotional. The cover is beautiful. The story is a page turner.
I'm sure that men can enjoy the book, too, but we women will find extra resonance in it. If you have a friend who thinks sf is just escapist drivel, hand her a copy of this and open her eyes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Not fair

I was not fair about Keven Newsome's book, Winter. He did so many things right in the book: he captured the black hole egotism of most teenagers: ie. Winter yells, "I hate you!" at her mother dying of cancer because Winter will need to move to another town. She is so sensitive to what other people think of her and she pretends like she doesn't care. She is super critical of how her roommate dresses, and throws an inner hissy fit when someone criticizes how she dresses. She is so LONELY, and yet whoever tries to get close to her is treated like crap. I believe most teen girls would identify with her far more than they would be able to identify with somebody like me.
And.... it is not a romance!!! Which is a Good Thing. To me.
Please, I know that falling in love is the most fun you will ever have in your life and I love to see people in love. I've had the good pleasure of falling in love. This summer we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Best Beloved is so excited about it that the calendar he hands to everybody for a Christmas present features our wedding, which was held under a tree in Lake Sacajawea park, and the reception at his mother's house. I received twelve casserole dishes and two ironing board covers. One friend sang, and another played the guitar. There Is Love by Peter, Paul, and Mary. I sewed my wedding gown because we had to pay for our wedding at ages 19 and 20. We honeymooned along the CA and OR coast, sleeping in my dad's Volkswagen Van. And then we moved into other peoples' basements as we continued on in college.
But romances..... bleh. Lorraine Snelling once said at a writer's conference that she chooses to believe that people can find love. Well, yeah. But when men write about women giving them everything they want, it's called pornography. When women write about men giving them everything they want it's called.... romance? I suppose if we read each others' literature we would have a better idea about what to give each other.
OK, now that I have insulted 90% of all Americans, you are free to tell me that you hate my literature as escapist drivel. I like hard science-fiction and high fantasy. When my brain is tired I read space-opera and sword-and-sorcery. I also like to read Bible, true history (not so much alternate), science, sociology, culture, gardening, etc., but few people are going to cavil about that.
Actually, the second book in the Trilogy, Circumnavigation of Shatterworld, might be a romance. That wasn't how I was thinking about it. I was thinking about the question: What does love look like? And there are so many kinds of love. So maybe I'm a hypocrite here. And I have read a few romances that I enjoyed.
But when I think about the girls I knew in high school who loved, loved, loved romances, who married the first person who asked them, all I saw were disasters. That colors my thinking.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review of Wind and Shadow by Kathy Tyers

I am a fan of Kathy Tyers. I especially liked Shivering World and wish I had the guts to ask her to let me turn it into a screenplay I offer to a movie maker in my son's church. I enjoyed her thoughtful Truce at Bakura and her other space operas.
Wind and Shadow is her latest, set in the Firebird universe with lots of action and suspense and musical references. I have no idea how she could follow up the ending. Or maybe I could, as she has made the altered people a despised minority in an Empire. And you know what Empires do to people who bother them.....
If you like derring-do and space operas at all, I cannot tell you how much you will enjoy the exciting Wind and Shadow. The characters are fun to follow and believable in their motivations. There is definite evil, but not all the conflict is evil vs. good. In fact, most of the conflict is flawed good vs flawed good vs flawed good. A definite recommend.

Review of Winter by Kevin Newsome

First I have to say that I am grateful for Kevin Newsome's ministry to teen girls who will likely get a lot out of this book. I daresay that he will reach thousands of times more people with his books that will touch people and show them a glimpse of Glory, than I will with my books.
Second, I really, truly found the main character disgusting. I couldn't stand girls like that when I was that age and time has only deepened my disgust. She is flawed and broken, but God could still use her, which is a good thing to say. Still, utter stupidity will always offend me. She chases around psychopathic killers without bothering to call 911. She has visions she won't share with her friends so they can make better choices. Better is wailing, "It's all my fault!" after something bad happens. I wanted to give her a Darwin Award.
And the writer commits another thing I despise with all my heart: making God a speaking character in the book. He only does it twice. For the most part he got around it by directly quoting Scripture, which is good. Some writers use surrogates, such as angels, which I will also accept. Other people "quote" God in their books, and I know they pray a lot before they do so. But I cannot accept making the Sovereign God a "character" in a novel. I just, no. No.
Aside from that bitching, the writing is clear and suspenseful. For people who like supernatural suspense, this will be a great read. I think I just discovered that I don't care for supernatural suspense. I don't like making that discovery as I have bought a lot of books in that genre to support other Christian writers, and there they lie in several wobbly piles in my bedroom. Guess what most of my friends are going to get for Christmas.

Speaking of unlikable protagonists: I once wrote a novel that started as a short story with the protagonist a person who thought just like me. I didn't want to take the time to think through a different kind of character because I was in a hurry. Okay so, my critique group read it, and they all said the same thing: The story was good, the protagonist wasn't. They all hated her..........Ouch. Now that I know how Irritating I am, I will never make a protagonist or any character like me again.

Do not confuse this Winter with Winterland by Mike Duran which is a ghost parable. I kept getting the two confused until I read both of them.

Our boarder came up and laid the book on the desk next to my computer and said that the book was really good. I asked her why, and she said: "I like this book a lot! I thought it was rather interesting how the author portrayed Winter, the Goth girl, as a Christian and a 'good' character, instead of the typical demonic or at least 'bad' character. I also enjoyed how the author made this unlikely heroine a prophetess in a modern context. Overall, I enjoyed this book a great deal."

I knew it. And then I read all the five star reviews on Amazon. There is no hope for me.