Last night, I helped out a friend with an envelope stuffing party. I realized that this person introduced me to seven people in the last year, invited me to dinner multiple times, and pretty much makes this meme true for me. She is one of two extroverts in my life and I’m so glad for her.
Who are you grateful for today?
Title: All the Birds in the Sky
Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Length: 319 pages
Genre: literary sci-fi
Where Bethany’s copy came from: IndyPL
Plot Basics: Patricia and Laurence are two outsiders — she, apparently, is a witch and can talk to birds and he is a geek of the first-degree, building time machines and AI interfaces in his bedroom. They become friends in middle school, trying to stick up for each other when the world seems against them. But, sinister forces tear their friendship apart. Until 10 year later when they reunite in San Francisco on opposite side of what might be a war for the planet, pitting magic against science.
Banter Points: Thank goodness for The Morning News Tournament of Books or I might never have encountered this quirky gem of a novel. When #ToB2017 announced the short list, I realized with some level of chagrin, that I hadn’t read any of this year’s choices. I read the descriptions and “All the Birds in the Sky” was the one to pick up immediately.
For all the kids who grew up on Harry Potter, this is the next book for them. Anders has crafted a serious and yet charming book with a plot line that hangs on the edge of apocalyptic/dystopian fiction. She edges up to that line — major world disasters are hinted at, but never fully explained — in such a way that creates a wonderful blend of tension but doesn’t take the reader away from the main story. It’s really a book about friendship and fate and big picture questions about science and magic, all while retaining a heart and a soul.
Bummer Points: This book isn’t any one thing which might aggravate some readers. It’s not just a story about friendship. And it’s not hardcore disaster sci-fi. It’s both. Additionally, Anders makes some jumps and then goes back to tell the reader what happened. I’m sure she had her reasons, but I had to wonder if a straight-line narrative would have worked just as well.
Word Nerd Recommendation: I’ve already gotten one co-worker to pick this up after a #FridayReads post and I highly suspect this is 2017’s first pusher book of the year.
ToB Thoughts: To read the Opening Round critique of “All the Birds in the Sky,” click here.
Tomorrow it’s up against Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” which just seems highly unfair. I haven’t read “Underground Railroad,” not for lack of interest, but more for lack of time, but I suspect it’s going to sail through the Quaterfinals. I’ve got my fingers crossed that tomorrow’s judge will go for the upset, not because Whitehead’s book about race is not timely and important, but because Anders’ book about science, magic and friendship speaks to a different zeitgeistic (can I make that an adjective?) element and one that we’re not talking about very much.
Title: The Queen Of Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Length: 643 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics: The rightful queen was hidden away shortly after her birth to protect her life. Kelsea Raleigh is now 19 years old and seeks to reclaim her throne. Her journey reveals that the task is larger than she ever envisioned, if she survives the journey to her holdings.
Banter Points: I know that this was a recommendation either from a Goodreads friend or a Facebook friend but my typically referrals haven’t read it. This frustrates me because I’m enjoyed the book and have moved on to book two already, It would be nice to tell them “thank you” and then ask what else they are reading.
I like the pseudo fairy tale feel to the telling of this story. Rather than it being historical, it’s future. Something has happened and the world has lost technology, gained magic, and The Church is an influence similar to medieval times. Society has reverted in other ways too, losing advancements in equality and medicine.
The how and why of this world is fascinating to me.
Bummer Points: By the end of the book, I was fascinated by the “why” of what happened. How did the world step back from technology? Why did they run to the new place? What were they running from? I tried to find some additional information, but wasn’t able to find an author website or book website outside of bookstores or the publisher.
Stacie’s Recommendation: Read it. I’m half way through book two and have high hopes for how this trilogy will end.
Title: Black Dawn (Morganville Vampires #12)
Author: Rachel Caine
Length: 370 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy/vampire
Plot Basics: Fearless foursome Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael have gone up against their share of bad guys in Morganville, Texas, secret vampire stronghold town. But that was before the draug — the thing vampires are scared of — shows up. Nothing is the same in town and it’s an all out war. The four friends will have to learn how to re-trust each other if they have any chance of keeping their town alive.
Banter Points: I have every intention of finishing this series and have for a few years. I also am making a new intention of writing well-put-together reviews of them. This is series where I got blurbed, and yes, on the back of this one, is my oh-so-poignant statement: “Fans of Twilight should really check this out.” Because it’s better. Because that was a review written in the hey-day of Twilight madness and I was doing my self-appointed duty to try to point out other, better books.
First, I think Caine must have studied at the Joss Whedon school of “how to hurt your characters” because she definitely stepped it up in this one. I’ve always liked her as a writer because of how well she raises the stakes at the end of each book. All her characters have to face real and imagined losses in this book.
Second, this series remains a great page-turner. Twelve books and it’s not getting rote or repetitive. Yes, the basics of the four friends keeping each other safe and going up against the bad guys is the same, but Caine continues to invent new and different circumstances.
Bummer Points: The big, and flawed, difference between Caine and Whedon is that the main characters aren’t ever really in danger. She does a good job of breaking the relationships between Eve and Michael and Shane and Claire, but she also put them back together. I think Whedon would have left one of them fractured and forced them to keep working together through it until it was really fixed or irreparable.
Word Nerd Recommendation: These books are great for readers in their late teens/20s. The action keeps the books going and the relationships presented are far healthier examples.
This second day is always like a kick in the pants. Especially tough after being awakened in the middle of the night by… wait for it… a snoring cat.
One Word Nerd is studying her brains out. The other of us is trying to stay on top of a mounting pile of deadlines.