Sunday, August 23, 2015

Readalong - Novels of the Change 1.2

Cover art by: Johnathan Barkat Photoshop Credit: Stephen Fischer


     Well, we've done it. We have made through to the end of Island in the Sea of Time. That means we are now 1/15th of the way through our Novels of the Change reread/ readalong. This week the whole project began to feel a bit overwhelming. But I enjoy the novels and am looking forward to having reread them all in order and so we will take it just one book at a time. Today we are discussing chapters 16-end of Island in the Sea of Time  (If you missed the discussion of chapters 1-15 you can find it here). 

     This section of the novel went by a whole lot faster than the previous 15 chapters. It was mostly fighting and battles. Walker is making me mad, with the way that he is using the natives to get his own revenge. Although I thoroughly enjoy the fact that Captain Alston outsmarted him and now has him on the run.

     I enjoyed getting to see Marion meet Swindapa's family and people. I feel bad for the hard decision that Swindapa is forced to make. Should she stay with her family, or with the woman that she loves? Poor Swindapa is forced to make this agonizing choice. In her culture families stay together forever and there is no personal space, no individual homes, they are always together. In Marion's culture Swindapa is lonely because she is far away from her family and she isn't used to being alone. I'm the opposite of Swindapa, and I enjoy copious amounts of alone time. I would be terribly uncomfortable and overwhelmed in her culture so I can understand how uncomfortable and overwhelmed she is by living in a place so foreign.

     In this section of Island of the Sea of Change we don't get to see as much of the planning or just life on the island of Nantucket. We see a bit, barter with the Indians from the mainland and some law making. But I enjoy imagining how regular people would survive an event like this; and so I hope that in the next novel, Against the Tide of Years, we get to see a bit more of everyday life on the island.

Discussion Questions: (If you are reading along and want to join the discussion feel free to answer these questions, or pose your own questions in the comments)

Now that we have reached the end of the first novel in the readalong how do you feel? Are you overwhelmed by length of the series or are you excited?

What was your favorite part of Island in the Sea of Time? Why?

As we move ahead into the next novel in the series, Against the Tide of Years, what are you hoping to see more of? What are you hoping we see less of? Any other thoughts?

**Join us later this week for BookGirlR's initial impressions of Against the Tide of Years, and remember for more regular updates on BookGirlR's reading progress follow us on twitter @bookgirlr .**

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Readalong - Novels of the Change 1.1

Cover art by: Jonathan Barkat; Photoshop credit: Stephen Fischer

Well, it's the end of week 1 of our Novels of the Change reread/ readalong (If you missed the original announcement this is what we will be doing: Introduction to Readalong.  This is our first discussion post; we will be discussing chapters 1-15 of Island in the Sea of Time.

     I love visiting historical places.  I like the feel of a place that has been steeped in time.  The opening pages of Island in the Sea of Time, when the island of Nantucket is described, gave me that same feeling.    "The collapse of the whaling industry during the Civil War era had frozen Nantucket in time, down to the huge American elms along Main Street and the cobblestone alleys"..."a place where Longfellow and  Whittier would have felt at home and Melville would have taken a few minutes to notice the differences" (9 & 10), the description really gave me a feel for the feeling of history that must permeate the island.  I feel that this is probably the perfect setting for an island that is thrown back in time, way far back in time to 1250BC. because they have the museums, and antique shops,  and the old, well-insulated houses.
     It would be scary to be suddenly relocated to another time.  I know that probably sounds like an understatement, but I rewrote that sentence several times and that's the only way it sounds right.  Simply put, it would be scary.  I would be scared! I empathize with the people in the novel who turn to the church to tell them what to do.  I would be looking for someone to give me direction too.  Part of what is so scary is the overwhelming sense of responsibility.  They are more advanced than all the other people that they are coming in contact with.  How far is too far?  How much is too much?  Should they share technology?  Should they avoid contact with the natives and try not to disrupt how things develop?  All the moral issues of time travel come into play the minute they step foot off of the island of Nantucket. 
     After Walker's group of dissenters steals their ships and leaves the island all of those decisions are taken away from the group left on Nantucket.  Now they have to prepare to defend themselves against an inevitable attack from their own people.  So far I have found the encounter with the Jaguar People to be the most brutal part of Island in the Sea of Time.  I was on the edge of my seat and had to read it fast.  There was cannibalism, murder, rape, bestiality... It made me feel a little sick it was all so brutal.  At the end of chapter 15 we are left with the knowledge that a deadly disease has been introduced into the native population.  What result that will have we aren't sure, but it won't be good.
    One thing that has always impressed me with S.M. Stirling's novels are his strong female characters.  The scientist who discovers that they have been thrown back in time during The Event is a woman, Doreen Rosenthal.  Captain Marian Alston of the Coast Guard ship Eagle, which was thrown back in time with the island of Nantucket is an awesome strong character and I love the fact that she is a lesbian and her relationship with Swindapa  of the Earth Folk, who is also a wonderful strong character.  All of the later novels in The Novels of the Change are also full of strong, well represented female characters.  Thank you Mr. Stirling, I truly appreciate the accurate representation of women in your novels. 

Discussion Questions: (If you are reading along and want to join the discussion feel free to answer these questions, or pose your own questions in the comments)

Since this is our first discussion post if you are planning to read along with BookGirlR please introduce yourself in the comments and tell us if this is your first time reading The Novels of the Change or if you are rereading.

BookGirlR thinks the island of Nantucket is a pretty good place to be if you have to be thrown back in time.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Why?  Can you think of another place that would be as good or better?

Would you be scared to be thrown back in time?  What would your greatest struggle be?

*** I found that the reading progressed much faster than I had thought it would.  I had assumed that I would be reading about half of a novel per week (because I am also still reading my other novels for review), but I actually read about two-thirds of Island in the Sea of Time this week.  Maybe it's because I'm rereading the novels, having read them before I am able to read them a bit faster this time?  Or maybe it's because I had some insomnia problems this week and spent some extra time reading in bed in the middle of the night.  Whatever the reason, we will be discussing chapters 16-end next Sunday.***

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep - Review

Title:  Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep
Edited by: Paula Guran

Synopsis:  "The sea is full of mysteries and rivers shelter the unknown.  Dating back to ancient Assyria, folkloric tales of mermaids, sirens, rulsalki, nymphs, selkies, and other seafolk are found in many cultures, including those of Europe, Africa, the Near East and Asia.  Dangerous or benevolent, seductive or sinister -- modern masters of fantasy continue to create new legends of these creatures that enchant and entertain us more than ever.  Gathered here are some of the finest of these stories.  Immerse yourself in this wonderful -- and sometimes wicked -- watery world!"

Review:  I'm not really a fan of short stories.  I generally enjoy a longer, more in depth story.  Which is why I usually stick to novels.  However this collection is about mermaids, and that fascinates me; and it has stories by a lot of well known (and many of my favorite) authors.  Here's a list of the stories contained in Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep:

Elizabeth Bear - "Swell"
Samuel R. Delany - "Driftglass"
Neil Gaiman - "The Sea Changes"
Delia Sherman - "Miss Carstairs and the Merman"
Margo Lanagan - "Sea-Hearts"
Christopher Barzak - "The Drowned Mermaid"
Genevieve Valentine - "Abyssus Abyssum Invocat"
Seanan McGuire - "Each to Each"
Sarah Monette - "Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home"
Peter S. Beagle - "Salt Wine"
Caitlin R. Kiernan - "The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean"
Amanda Downum - "Flotsam"
Cat Rambo - "The Mermaids Singing Each to Each"
Chris Howard - "The Mermaid Game"
Gene Wolfe - "The Nebraskan and the Nereid"
Angela Slatter - "A Good Husband"
A. C. Wise - "Letters to a Body on the Cusp of Drowning"
Jane Yolen - "The Corridors of the Sea"
Lisa L. Hannett - "Forever, Miss Tapekwa County"
Catherynne M. Valente - "Urchins, While Swimming"
Tanith Lee - "Margritte's Secret Agent"

     My favorites were: "Swell", "Miss Carstairs and the Merman"; "Each to Each"; "Salt Wine"; and "Forever, Miss Tapekwa County".  However, there weren't any of the stories that I disliked.  The writing is all very well done, and all of the stories are unique.  I recommend Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep for  fans of mermaids, fantasy, science fiction and other speculative fiction; even if you normally shy away from short stories, like me. 

Publisher:  Prime Books

If you like this book you may want to read:

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

Human For a Day edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Jennifer Brozek

Steampunk edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Buried Life - Review

Title: The Buried Life
Author: Carrie Patel
Series: Recoletta #1

Synopsis:  "The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies.  When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation -- Recoletta's top-secret historical research facility.
     "When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, les they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them."

Review:  I found the whole premise of The Buried Life fascinating.  A city buried underground?  Wow, yes please.  Although I found myself getting confused about locations and what was where and what do things look like?  I would have enjoyed more description of the city and buildings.  The Buried Life reads more like a detective mystery than a steampunk novel.  If you like mysteries and steampunk, then great.  You should love The Buried Life!  But if you aren't overly fond of mysteries I suggest perhaps skipping this one.
     I personally love mysteries; and I love steampunk.  So I loved The Buried Life.  I enjoyed learning about Patel's world and the culture of this underground city.  I honestly could not figure out the "whodunnit" and had no idea who was the murderer until the characters figured it out at the end.  For me that's a huge plus as I can normally figure it out pretty quickly.  I purchased the sequel, Cities and Thrones, the same day I bought The Buried Life; and I look forward to reading it.

Publisher:  Angry Robot
If you like this book you may want to read:

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter by Rod Duncan

Depth by Lev AC Rosen (read BookGirlR's review here)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Readalong - Introduction - Novels of the Change

     Have you ever read a series that just sticks with you and makes you want to read it over and over and over again?  Is there a series that you can't stop thinking about, even when you are finished and reading other things?  For me that series is the Novels of the Change by S. M. Stirling.  I picked up a copy of Dies the Fire in my favorite used book store (TheBook Centre) about 7 years ago.  I've been hooked on the whole series ever since. 

     With the newest novel in this series coming out in less than a month (The Desert and the Blade, check it out here)  I have been wanting to reread the entire series.  So, BookGirl's BookNook is going to be doing a reread of the Novels of the Change.  I will be starting with the Nantucket Series and then moving on to the longer Emberverse Series.  I will be working these discussions in around my other posts, and still be posting other reviews in between, so with a couple of discussion posts per book you can probably expect  3 or 4 discussions of the Novels of the Change per month.

Here is the lengthy list of novels in the series, listed (in my opinion) in proper reading order:

Nantucket Series:

Island in the Sea of Time
Against the Tide of Years
On the Oceans of Eternity

The Emberverse Series:

Dies the Fire
The Protector's War
A Meeting at Corvallis
The Sunrise Lands
The Scourge of God
The Sword of the Lady
The High King of Montival
The Tears of the Sun
Lord of Mountains
The Given Sacrifice
The Golden Princess
The Desert and the Blade
Prince of Outcasts*

     That's 15 novels (*edit 7/17 due to the new novel coming out in September we are now reading 16 novels).  If you don't want to miss any of the discussions be sure to follow BookGirl's BookNook.  If you want to read along, so you can participate in discussion, and would like to be updated on my reading progress more often follow me on Twitter (@bookgirlr) where I'll be posting my progress.

Happy Reading!