This contemporary fiction/romance has received some attention. I enjoyed that Simsion uses the first person point of view from the male's perspectiveThis contemporary fiction/romance has received some attention. I enjoyed that Simsion uses the first person point of view from the male's perspective in this romantic fiction piece. It makes for a great change and it's kind of refreshing. And the fact that Don's point of view is skewed because he suffers from Asperger's Syndrome makes this novel an even more interesting read.
Simsion uses humor, tenderness, warmth, and the main character's personal frustration to develop the romance. The reader sees Rosie from Don's perspective and, in my opinion, this distances her from the reader to a certain degree. However, Simsion does a fairly good job of letting the reader "see" Rosie. I understood Rosie's need and insecurities, but frankly when it came to Rosie falling in love with our man I found there to be a disconnect... and hmm... maybe that was on purpose. I mean, if Don could not figure out what being in love felt like, how could he recognize it in her?
Is an adult with Asperger's stereotyped in this romance? I wouldn't know, but, I do know that Simsion's novel is an enjoyable read all the way from beginning to end. Don, if not necessarily Rosie, makes it so....more
Reread The Sound and The Fury for a discussion with my brothers. I'd forgotten about how fabulous and incredibly confusing that first section narratedReread The Sound and The Fury for a discussion with my brothers. I'd forgotten about how fabulous and incredibly confusing that first section narrated by Bengy can be… the "stream of consciousness" or loose association style of writing is just fantastic in this novel. It still amazes me how Faulkner manages to change narrative (writing) styles throughout all four different sections in this book to such great effect. And, of course, the negative, almost nihilistic, views of modern man and society are overwhelming. Thank goodness for Dilsey! ...more
Tim Z. Hernandez bases his novel Mañana Means Heaven on the story of Be a Franco, the young Chicana woman Jack Karouac meets while on his way to Los ATim Z. Hernandez bases his novel Mañana Means Heaven on the story of Be a Franco, the young Chicana woman Jack Karouac meets while on his way to Los Angeles from San Francisco, during his travels across the United States, and who later appears in his famed novel On the Road as Terry, or "the Mexican girl."
"Mañana," she said. "Everything'll be all right tomorrow, don't you think, Sal-honey, man?"
"Sure, baby, mañana." It was always mañana. For the next week, that was all I heard --- mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven. -- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The title of the novel is taken directly from one of the passages of Karouac's novel, but this is Bea's story, not Jack's. That is made perfectly clear from the beginning. Hernandez takes Karouac's short chapter, and following the same timeline, cleverly weaves in Bea's background and breaths life into the woman by exposing the extreme emotional and familial circumstances that pushed her into opening up to a man like Jack, a gavacho "college boy," during that particular time in her life. A time that lasted but a blink in time, but one that changed both of their lives irrevocably.
Meeting Jack gives Bea hope while she is trapped in what seems like a hopeless and desperate situation that Hernandez utilizes to build tension throughout his novel. Franco's short time with Jack changes her. It gives her the determination and resiliency that may have been there all along, but that she learns to use to become a woman who expects better for and from herself. For Jack, much later that moment in time becomes the stepping stone that helps to propel his career as a writer when the Paris Review publishes his short story "Terry, the Mexican Girl," and well, the rest is history.
If Franco and her family are well researched by Hernandez, then so are the historical details. Hernandez takes the reader to a post WWII Los Angeles that comes alive with all of its paranoia and multicultural prejudices. But nothing comes alive more than the San Joaquin Valley and the plight of the pickers -- the smell and paranoia in the tent camps, the fear of immigration raids, the hatred for the implacable owners and the need for work, the child workers, the stultifying poverty, and through Bea, the desperation.
Hernandez utilizes mañana, tomorrow, as the main theme of his novel. The word mañana represents many different things to the different people who inhabit the novel. To Bea and her brother Alex it represents the possibility of a future and the realization of a dream. To the pickers in Selma it represents the basics, work, food, a warm place to stay. If not today, tomorrow things will work out. To Jack it is always a way to gain time, to learn more, to see more. To little Albert, it comes to represent lack of money, a lack of hope. However, Hernandez also uses partings, abandonment, leaving and returning as a secondary and more subtle theme throughout the novel.
As an award winning poet and writer familiar with Franco's cultural background, Hernandez was already well equipped to write a story about Karouac's muse. However, Hernandez's research into her life and his insights into the person Franco was, into the woman she became, takes her story beyond that of a myth. ...more
Lonely as God is a short story about two men who click on the trail through poetry, but don't get "at each other" until they reach the end of the traiLonely as God is a short story about two men who click on the trail through poetry, but don't get "at each other" until they reach the end of the trail at which time they ride off together. This story is hot, Chase style, a bit less raw than her usual pieces, but just as solid....more
I received an ARC of this non-fictional collection of accounts about princesses behaving "badly" throughout history from Quirk Books. The summary realI received an ARC of this non-fictional collection of accounts about princesses behaving "badly" throughout history from Quirk Books. The summary really caught my attention with mention of pirate and warrior princesses from different historical periods and parts of the globe.
It turns out that the sections about these princesses are rather short and written in a chatty, very mod style, which of course would not take away from the content if the accounts had in fact some meat on the bones, or if the author's attempts to make this a feminist piece had been truly successful. I think that perhaps for readers who are not quite interested in history but want to read a book with facts and "girl-power" flavor, this book might be fun with its light tone. Unfortunately, this collection did not hit the spot for me.
The first book in the Nell Sweeney historical mystery series turned out to be really good! I know I'm giving it a B (or solid), but that's only becausThe first book in the Nell Sweeney historical mystery series turned out to be really good! I know I'm giving it a B (or solid), but that's only because well... it's the first of a series and I don't usually give first books higher grades unless they are fantabulous. Nell is an Irish governess working for a wealthy Bostonian family. The time is just after the American Civil War has ended and the mystery? Nell's employers, Augustus and Viola Hewitt are shocked and appalled when they are informed that one of two sons, William Hewitt, declared dead at Andersonville, is not only alive and in Boston, but is accused of committing a violent murder while under the influence of opium. While August wants Will to hang, Viola asks Nell to help Will in any way she can. The investigation takes Nell from Irish slums to Chinese opium dens, and worse. But, is Will really innocent? And will Nell be able to hold on to her job after all this is over?
I love the setting and time period for this mystery. Nell is a wonderful main character and Will and Detective Cook both serve as great foils for her. Ryan takes a chance with this series, I think, as she begins to build a series with a woman who has a bit of a mysterious and checkered past, and includes the beginning of a romance (?) with someone who is a long way from perfect.
There is less of the "upstairs/downstairs" atmosphere to this first novel than I expected, but there is a marked difference between the clean, wealthy life that Nell leads with the Hewitts, and the life of those she encounters while investigating the murder. Ryan's descriptions of life in the impoverished sides of Boston are riveting. I can't wait for more. The end to the mystery was a total surprise for me and I really loved how it turned out. And yes, I bought the second book to the series, Murder in a Mill Town, as soon as I finished this one. :) Thanks to Li for the recommendation....more
I enjoyed the stories in this anthology -- after all, it contains a favorite tale of queer villainy, Hal Duncan's "The Origin of the Fiend" --4.5/5.0
I enjoyed the stories in this anthology -- after all, it contains a favorite tale of queer villainy, Hal Duncan's "The Origin of the Fiend" -- but can I just say how much I absolutely loved the introduction by Tom Cardamone? We don't say enough about introductions and how they affect a reader (the "hook" they become), or what they mean to a collection or anthology. So to give you an idea of what this great collection is about, I will quote Cardamone:
"Queer kids identify with the monsters in the movies, empowered outcasts, bogeymen bursting out off the closet; villains are cool. They wear their shadows well and if you're going to be expelled into the darkness, you might as well flaunt it."
"We can't just be heroes and victims -- that would create a fictitious reality, one where we are more vigilant in our denials than in our quest for equality."
So yes, as an editor, Cardamone reached his goal in choosing the writers with just the right tales of "queer villainy" for this collection. I enjoyed them all:
Light and Dark by Damon Shaw The Web by Steve Bereznai The Meek Shall Inherit by Jamie Freeman After Balenciaga by Marshall Moore The Third Estate by Lee Thomas The Ice King by Tom Cardamone Lesser Evil by 'Nathan Burgoine The Plan by Charles "Zan" Christensen The Knights Nefarious by Rod M. Santos Snow and Stone by Stellan Thorne Scorned by Jeffrey Ricker Your Changing Body: A Guidebook for Boy Supervillains -- Introduction by Mr. Positive by Matt Fagan The Origin of the Fiend by Hal Duncan ...more
Claire goes to the YMCA to attend a support group after having been diagnosed with breast cancer, instead she ends up at a group for erotica writers -Claire goes to the YMCA to attend a support group after having been diagnosed with breast cancer, instead she ends up at a group for erotica writers -- this is a fabulous beginning! She meets Justin, a younger man who tells her he's there attending the AA group, not because he's an alcoholic, but to pick up women. Claire is a 40 year-old, divorced woman who dedicated her whole life to raising her son Max who just left for college. She never made time for sex or herself, and now that she's ready to begin, feels that her body has betrayed her. Justin convinces Claire that before she goes through surgery, she needs to make a wish list of sexual fantasies and go through with it, ergo the "Now or Never List" is born. Now, let's get this straight, Justin doesn't plan on being part of Claire's sexual explorations, he is to be her wingman. He plans and helps with fantasies, and in the process they become friends.
Now or Never is short, but what a fantastic short it is! I've previously enjoyed Logan Belle's works, but this is different, it's more a combination of contemporary fiction with erotica than straight up erotica. There is depth in Claire's story, a 40 year woman who has been a "mother" for so long she has forgotten what it is to be a woman. She comes off as a woman with real fears, doubts and lacking in confidence -- all of this resonated with me, like part of a normal stage that women go through at some point in their lives. Justin is the mystery here. The male who you want to throttle one moment, but really makes you think the next. I cannot wait to see what happens next....more
Published by Harper in 2002, The Birthday of the World: and Other Stories is a collection of eight stories by Ursula K. Le Guin. The collection beginsPublished by Harper in 2002, The Birthday of the World: and Other Stories is a collection of eight stories by Ursula K. Le Guin. The collection begins with a marvelous introduction in which Le Guin provides readers familiar with her works a behind-the-scenes look at each story and new readers, like me, with enough understanding to enjoy them. Six of the eight stories are connected to her Hainish Cycle* series. These stories are all set in the different worlds Ekumen mobiles explore. In three, Le Guin focuses and expands on distinctive sets of social and/or cultural customs, while in the rest her mobiles confront conflicts arising from either observation or active participation in their attempt to understand different civilizations.
Of the stories focused on cultural and social customs, "Coming of Age in Karhide" is a favorite. Set in the frozen Gethenian world where its inhabitants are androgynous hermaphrodites, Le Guin weaves a coming of age piece filled with detailed intimacy and warmth. Le Guin refers to the other two stories, "Unchosen Love" and "Mountain Ways," as "a comedy of manners." They are both set in the world of "O" where the custom is for marriage to take place between four people -- two males and two females. The complexities used as a base to build this society's familial bonds were both intriguing and well thought out, however, neither story kept me as entranced as the outstanding tales where her mobiles discover conflict through observation or confront it through personal participation.
"The Matter of Seggri" is composed of observation reports written by various "mobiles" throughout years or centuries as they witness changes taking place in a society where women outnumber men. With Seggri's world, Le Guin experiments with the reversal of gender roles, as well as with the inevitable consequences arising from a society where "men have all the privilege and women all the power." Does Le Guin's thought experiment, gender role reversal, and imbalance lead to a utopia for women? This is a fascinating study that ends the way it should.
"Solitude," also has a bit of that role reversal happening since villages are composed solely of women and children, while males are thrown out into the wilderness to fend for themselves as soon as they reach puberty. Women choose if or when to visit males for sexual pleasure or to have children, but all inhabitants of this planet, males and females, relish solitude. The mobile in this piece pays a high price when she brings her children to live within this society. Le Guin conducts an intricate detailed exploration of culture, gender roles, and human nature in this favorite piece.
And finally, in "Old Music and the Slave Women," Le Guin takes on the subject of racism and bigotry and turns it units head by taking the reader to the planet Werel where slavery has always been the way of life. She picks up the story in the middle of a revolution as the slaves are winning. The long-term chief intelligence officer from the Ekumical embassy is taken prisoner by the losing side to be used as a weapon against them. Narrated from the mobile's point of view, his ideological views soon clash with the cruel realities of what a physical revolution entails as he first meets one faction and then the other. Will things really change? Or in the end, is bigotry and racism so ingrained in this society that it won't matter who comes to power?
Of the two remaining stories, including "The Birthday of the World," "Paradise Lost" captured my attention and stayed with me, not only because it deviates completely from the rest, but because the content and writing are fabulous. This is a space voyage set in a generational ship, focusing on the middle generations whose lives begin and end during the journey. Their duties are that of maintenance and ensuring that the journey continues unimpeded to its final destination. Imagine that! To those middle generations the ship is "the world," where they have built their own complex realities, have no real knowledge of their home planet Earth or Dischew, and little interest in their Destination. These generations's only knowledge of Dischew is through virtual reality programs where they learn about dangers encountered by past generations in their home planet through an educational system established by Generation Zero.
In the Fifth Generation My grandfather's grandfather walked under heaven. That was another world. When I am a grandmother, they say, I may walk under heaven On another world. But I am living my life now joyously in my world Here in the middle of heaven. -- 5-Hsing
"History is what we need never do again." Generation Zero attempts to build a future "world" where subsequent generations learn from their past history. There is no organized religion, disease, crime, and people's lives are highly organized and therefore effective -- all is beautiful, perfect and in its place. But, although certain anomalies are considered, they forget that humans learn through experience, that history is often manipulated and lost to future generations, and that what is important to one generation may become obsolete to others. They fail to take into consideration the human factor and, as expected, there is trouble in Paradise. However, in Paradise Lost that human factor also includes love of freedom and the beauty that life has to offer. This is a 115 page-long study of the complexities (the seemingly simple and deeply profound) found in human nature.
As an added bonus at the end of this book, you will find the fabulous essay "On Despising Genres" (a piece that deserves a post of its own), followed by "Answers to a Questionnaire." Both give the reader further insight into the author's personal thought process.
Originally posted at Impressions of a Reader. ...more
In His Secret Life is a fantastic romance with forbidden love, sexual tension, intense yearning, and angst. It's one of those all-encompassing, sweepiIn His Secret Life is a fantastic romance with forbidden love, sexual tension, intense yearning, and angst. It's one of those all-encompassing, sweeping, lasting romantic love stories between two men who are also selfish enough to cheat and lie to be together. They pay a high price, but in the end find their way back to love. The execution in this romance is fantastic, as Bossa follows through with all the characters, the choices, consequences, life and love. My favorite LGBT romance of the year to date... I highly recommend it.