Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Tribute to Tanith Lee

I don't think I've ever even mentioned Tanith Lee on the blog before.  This isn't because I don't read her or because I haven't been in awe of her writing since I was probably 10 when my mom put The Claidi Journals in my hands. Simply put, it's rather hard these days to get copies of her books.  None of the libraries I lived near had more than a few of her books (and usually they were The Claidi Journals which I've read more than a few times at this point), and considering she wrote well over 90 novels, that's saying something.  She does have some ebooks, but those are mostly collections of her short stories...and I digress.  It's hard to find her books, and I've slowly been snatching up any copy of her books I can find. (The last time I looked online for used books since that's usually what I buy, her used books were selling from $20-$40, which should tell you something.)  It's saddening to me that such a prolific writer, an author who won many awards, who has pushed the limits of science fiction and horror since she first started writing, was no longer having her works published (not her choice).  It's surprising to me that so many of her books are out of print (my assumption since they're so costly used, so I could be wrong about that).  It's surprising to me that someone who I would consider to be one of the most important authors of the twentieth century is so overlooked.

Despite the fact they are usually quite slim (a great many of her books are 200 pages or less), it takes some time to digest her stories.  She breaks all the expectations you have going in. Her worlds don't work in the way we expect them to work, and neither do her characters.  And her fantasy often feels like sci-fi and her fantasy like horror, and it's just this wonderful blend of scifi-fantasy-horror that I promise you is a completely weirder and cooler atmosphere than you're imagining right now. I have a complicated relationship with her writing. I've never exactly loved any of her books, and I don't often exactly enjoy them either. And yet I would be happy to devour her entire collection of writing because no matter how little I'm enjoying them, they're thought provoking and feminist and well...weird.  I guess the best way I can describe her writing is uncomfortable.  And no one really likes being uncomfortable do they?  Her "heroines" more often than not rather evil, and really few of her characters are likeable at all.  But she's one of the few authors whose books are filled with women.  Filled with unapologetically powerful women.  You honestly don't find that's not even that it's hard to find unapologetic powerful women, because I can name more than a few YA heroines who fit that, it's that her heroines are so...unconstrained by the constructs of society or fear of consequences for just being so powerful.  Honestly her writing is rather difficult to describe, and I'm leery of recommending a place to start both because I've read so little of her extensive catalogue, and because the book I remember enjoying the most involves quite a bit of rape. (I'm fuzzy on the details, but I usually have a very difficult time when authors choose to have characters raped.  With Tanith's a bit different. Again, hard to explain why exactly).  Add in the fact, that simply put Tanith Lee is not for everyone.  Or maybe even most people.  Hence the no mention on the blog before. But I DO think her books are an experience well worth having if you're willing to approach them with an open mind.  If I had to pick a book that I think would go over well with people who are YA oriented and I remember enjoying (remember that I use this term loosely with Tanith Lee, but I do think this one features one of her more likeable heroines) I'd say Black Unicorn is a good way to ease your way into Tanith Lee's writing.

It's funny that an author I've read so little of has inspired such a powerful reaction in me over the years (and with books I don't love the way I normally love books, to say the least!), but I'm grateful I still have so many more books of hers to read.  I'm incredibly sad that she is no longer around to give us more stories.

Rest in peace, Tanith Lee.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Day in the Life #35 + April Wrap Up

Well, it has been a whirlwind of a month, that's for sure.  It's ironic that my decision to only read books by PoC ended up being well timed.  If I can call anything about the past week well timed haha. In fact at this moment I couldn't even tell you if anything of note happened earlier this month.

I don't want to spend too much time talking about everything that's gone down here in Baltimore, because I've already talked a great deal about it.  And honestly, this has literally been all I've been thinking about every conscious moment for the past entire week.  Even when I've not been glued to live streams of what's been happening.  I want my brain to be occupied by ANYTHING else. (Scratch that - anything else good. My only other distraction has been the earthquake in Nepal.)  In my links I leave at the bottom of the post, I'm going to post a bunch of the best articles I read about Baltimore and protests this week.  My twitter profile has loads of other links to look at as well.  Here's a summary of things I've learned and experienced this week.

1. Monday was terrible. I absolutely don't want to downplay the destruction that happened.  Here's a map of what took place.   Baltimore already has food deserts, and I'm afraid because of what happened and because of how the media has been reporting on this that it's only going to get worse.

2. OTHER than Monday, there was a small group of people who acted out on Saturday. But the destruction was significantly less, and the media totally blew it out of proportion.  After Monday there have been an extremely small number of destructive actions.  This city made a complete 180 and what I witnessed this past week was incredibly inspiring and heartwarming.  From the powerful, peaceful protests and marches that took place to the honest conversations that are taking place about race and poverty in this city to the entire communities who came together to clean the city up to rival gangs making a truce to put the well being of this city first, it has been just an overwhelmingly positive week.

3. That being said, this city has felt...scary.  And not because of the protesters.  You know in all those dystopias (or in many other countries around the world) where there are helicopters and armored trucks driving around and men with giant guns on every corner?  Well now I know what that feels like.  And it's terrifying.  I am thankful for how the police have reacted since Monday (the fact that there weren't any protest related deaths - to my knowledge - speaks volumes on how the police handled Monday), and I appreciate the support the national guard and state police have given.  So I applaud them and don't want to take away from the great work they've done this week. That doesn't change the fact that it lends the whole city an air of danger. (Or change the fact that while I support ALL of these groups, there are some significant legislative and departmental changes that need to be happening.)

4. I'm not sure if it's the large groups of men, large groups of officials signifying danger, or the HUGE GUNS they are all carrying that scares me, but having to walk past them every day makes my mouth go dry and my heart race.  I mean there's groups of like twenty or thirty of them.

5. I considered going to the protests but didn't for a few reasons.
     A. I worked during all but two of them.
     B. The media last time I was watching made it seem like the the protests that were peaceful were only peaceful because of the large number of white people in the crowd, completely ignoring the almost entirely black protests that happened the week before.  I didn't want to contribute to that.
     C. The protests I COULD go to were being led by people who have been known to be openly anti-semitic or had ties to groups who are openly anti-white, and while I totally support the protesters, I don't want to be part of a rally that promotes either of those sentiments.
     D. I'm hoping to be able to help in the communities once the media coverage and protests have died down...and communities are still hurting.  In interest of that here are some places you can donate if you are at all interested.

6. You can't trust the media. Not even a little bit.  My waning trust in the mainstream media has been completely severed this week.  It sounds like many of you have also been gleaning your news from local bloggers, so I think a lot of you have been seeing more than the destruction.  And since I stopped watching the main news stations, maybe they changed and stopped focusing on the destruction and everyone saw more to this city than the looting, I don't know. (Actually please tell me, I'm very curious what the news stations have been showing.)  But I applaud the local news stations for doing a great job covering what was really happening - the good and the ugly.  I won't be watching any big news stations anymore. I can't trust any of the news I'm getting from them. It makes me wonder what else I'm completely misinformed on because of their coverage.  It's funny - if any of you have read the Newflesh Trilogy (which I'm thinking of rereading and reviewing because of the media situation this week) it's weird feeling like that set up is already here. And probably has been for a while - I don't know how long it's been this skewed.

I basically had these songs on repeat while I was driving through the city on Tuesday.  (Reasons why should be pretty apparent if you listen to the lyrics)

So that was longer than I meant to make it, but since when have I NOT been long winded haha!  On to the bookish part of my month:

Best Book

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

Guys, I don't care what genres/audiences you think you don't read, you ALL NEED TO READ THIS.  I'm planning to do a review of this series (and maybe a separate review of this book so there's no spoilers).  It's an important book, and it just completely soul crushed me. In a good way. (But totally traumatic way).  There's this scene and it is hands down the most viscerally horrifying thing I have EVER read. Or even thought about. (But not in a Stephen King-I-cried-myself-to-sleep-in-terror sort of way).  Or as Kirsty described it, "You're in for a treat in the last 100 pages. And by treat I mean scarred for life."  

It's a fast paced, action packed book for sure, but it's not fluffy fun times.  I think it's a crime against humanity that a HUGE portion of my goodreads friends have it marked - but only like 1/3 of them have read this book.  GO READ THIS.  NOW. DO IT.  I literally am going to buy any copy of this I ever see in a used bookstore and then am going to mail it to people.  I am that insistent that the whole world needs to read this.  And with everything that went down this week in Baltimore, it was particularly pertinent.  If you've read it you'll know what I mean - particularly the part where the media talked about the young teens who got caught up in the mess as "violent thugs".

Biggest Disappointment

Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)

This. I just. NOOOOO. HOW.  This is a bigger blow to everything I believe in ever than Mansfield Park was! Tamora Pierce is my hero! She's a GODDESS.  ....actually apparently she's human and the fact that's written like 30 other books that I LOVE does not mean I've lost faith in her. But dear god this book hurt me. I felt betrayed and just....NO. I'M SORRY BUT IT DIDN'T GO DOWN THIS WAY.  This went from being a series that was probably my favourite ever of hers to...I'm not sure I'm going to buy it. Because I don't think I will ever read this book again. Maybe I'll just buy the first two and pretend this book never happened. Because it didn't. DO YOU HEAR ME? This book NEVER. HAPPENED.  (But seriously have any of you read it? Because I need people to cry with. Or if they didn't cry about THE THINGS in this book, please, please convince me I'm wrong to hate it)

Here's what else I read this month.  You may notice that the thing that happens once in a blue moon - the wretched DNF happened for me this month.  I only got maybe 50 pages into The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. It wasn't bad writing or anything - it just clearly involves an unhappy relationship. I have to say after reading the adult fiction I've read this month, my theory that 99% of adult contemporary fiction is about unhappy marriages and adultery (or at least it happens) has not been disproved. Not even a little.  And I just DON'T WANT TO READ ABOUT IT. So I didn't even try getting further because I'd just read The Interpreter of Maladies and was at my absolute max of being able to swallow another story about unhappy marriages.  This is why I don't read adult contemporary fiction.  

I did really well on my Authors of color challenge!  I'm actually in the middle of like three more books that I didn't put here because I haven't finished yet. I'll talk about them in my Tell Me Tuesday post :)  I felt like I didn't read as many books as I read, but I think that's because half of the books I read belonged to two series, so it made it feel like I read less. But I don't usually make it through challenges (or I read like half the amount I usually do).   I was hoping that what with having a city wide curfew for the past week that I'd get more reading done, but I mostly stayed glued to live streaming of what was happening. And watching Warehouse 13 haha.  Speaking of...

What I Watched


The Last Cinderella was a fun J-Drama. It had a lot of potential to be more than it was that it totally squandered, but even though it didn't do nearly what it could have it's still a good, standard J-Drama.  As per usual, I loved the totally tomboyish leading lady!

Warehouse 13 (2009) Poster

I have a friend who just started watching this and was going to watch seasons 4 and 5 with me (which I still haven't watched because I was CONVINCED they would appear on Netflix. But season 5 came and went, and season 4 never went on Netflix. So it's just never going to happen, I'll have to find it elsewhere *grumbles*).  Unfortunately he watched all three seasons in like a day and a half and burnt himself out haha. But it made me want to rekindle my love for the show (which I think Kirsty got me on to begin with?) and I needed something fun that I'd already seen to put on while I was stuck inside my house this week.

Sleepy Hollow (2013) Poster

I FINALLY watched the season finale!  I had been really upset with what they chose to do with a female character they could have treated WAY differently, but I'm appeased that with the season finale there will be no more of that. Plus I'm pretty sure they switched out the lead writer. So. Hopefully I will NOT be breaking up with both of my favourite shows (OUaT) in the next year.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Poster

 I am SO GLAD I stuck with this show, because this season has been hitting it out of the park!  I am a few episodes behind and haven't seen the newest Avengers film yet...I haven't decided whether I'll just go ahead with the show or try and watch the Avengers film first. (I never watched the latest Captain America and was fine with the show)

How I Met Your Mother (2005) Poster

I am...conflicted by the ending to this series.  I both like it and HATE it?  I dunno. I'm glad I wasn't hugely invested in it is all I can say.

Bookish Discussions

Rosamund Hodge gives an obligatory strong heroine post.
Garth Nix on Aboriginal Stories. (Thanks to Glaiza for the link!)

Blogging and Reading

Mitchii discusses the reader's bill of rights.
Sunny gives a tutorial on how to make a personalized gif.
Erin Bowman tells us how we can support an author beyond buying their book.
Anne of Green Gables‘ Jonathan Crombie Passes Away at 48 - *sobs*
Asheley had a bookish a-ha moment that legit made me cry at work.

Bookish Fun Stuff

Ellis and Judith had me in tears I was laughing so hard at their Coblogger Burn, Rewrite, Reread Challenge.
Cee has some more book fonts for us!

Miscellaneous Non-bookish stuff

The Baltimore Protests

Steve tells us Baltimore is not Ferguson, covering the issues here that are more class related than solely race related.
Puja talked to a Baltimore officer about what things are like for them during all of this. (Hint: it involves the city not feeding them and no overtime.)
Willie defends looting. - This is one of those articles to definitely read. Very thought provoking.
Michael is a reporter who's lived in Baltimore for 30 years. He tells us what we really need to know about Baltimore.
Baltimore libraries stayed open this whole week - even when everything else was shut down (including schools), because they knew the community needed them.  This is why I LOVE libraries and librarians - it's more than just the books. Libraries are a haven for the homeless and at-risk youth.

*As always a thank you to Christina, Asti, and Kelley for their weekly bookish round ups, many of the links on these lists I never would have found without those weekly round ups!


And THAT is the end of my very long monthly/bi-weekly round up :)  Anything good in you past few weeks? Do share I need some good news in my life!