The giveaway winner of The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman is Anastacia Zittel. Congratulations!by
Here’s my post for week two of the Republic of Thieves readalong, hosted by Andrea at Little Red Reviewer. This week’s questions were written by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow. I love the way that there’s a question for every chapter, as so much happened in this section. My answers won’t necessarily stick to just the chapter in question, but it’s a neat structure to try out.
As you may have noticed, I’m a week behind on the reading. Last weekend a friend from out of town came up for a surprise visit, and so I spent the weekend socializing. Hopefully I should be fully caught up later today or tomorrow.
Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?
I was actually surprised that it wasn’t worse. I expected Locke to vaguely resemble Darth Vader by the time it was over (he’s more machine than man now). Instead, he’s as good as new, but has a severe case of the munchies.
Now, the part about Bug… just wow. This is gonna bother Locke for a long time, especially as he feels a sense of responsibility for them as the group’s leader. I foresee an extreme crisis in faith, but not until he’s gotten through the Bondsmagi election. Locke doesn’t tend to get emo unless he’s in between schemes, and Sabetha’s presence is distracting enough.
Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?
Either one is deserving of the final oath, but I wish that Locke had been more vocal about it when Sabetha asked him if he was interested. From Sabetha’s perspective, Locke didn’t really want the priesthood, and just stepped forward on a whim. We do know that Locke has daydreamed and thought about it, but the way he kind of fumbled his way into it is going to make Sabetha a lot more resentful, especially as it’s clear that she views him as a threat to her power and her place within the group.
Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?
This chapter leaves me with more questions than answers. I’ve been dying to learn more about the Eldren ever since the first book. I want to know what made the Eldren leave, and if maybe whatever it is will come back later in the series. I like the fact that the Eldren’s disappearance places the Bondsmagi’s power in check; their fear of whatever drove the Eldren away is probably the only thing keeping them from taking over the world and making a royal mess of the world.
Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?
Chains’ reasoning makes perfect sense. The group needs to be challenged to make them work as a team and quit squabbling. Chains also needs a break. He loves the whole group, but they’re giving him a headache.
I’m curious to see how the theater thing’s gonna work out. We already saw that all hell has broken loose among the actors that are already there. I’m curious to see Locke and/or Sabetha arrange a jailbreak. I wonder if he’ll end up letting her lead more, or whether necessity will compel him to do what he’s best at.
The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?
Having an ally with an addiction is as bad as having a Bondsmage know your true name. Basically, they’re fucked.
Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathise with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?
The qualities that make a man look charismatic can unfortunately make a woman look like a total bitch. Sabetha isn’t really that different from Locke, and I’m sure he’d feel the same as she did if he was in her position. She’s acting like such a teenager about it, and I don’t like the way that she’s deliberately playing with his emotions. At some point, both she and Locke are going to have to learn to work together. Seeing as she and Locke parted ways, I’m wondering if that’s a lesson that they still have to learn.
Extras! Let’s be having any random bits that amuse you, confuse you, or just plain interest you…
The scene from Patience’s memories must have been incredibly difficult for Locke and Jean to see, but the dynamic between Patience and the Falconer was fascinating. I know that Patience expected him to fail, but I suspect that that expectation of failure was because she set him up.by
Title: The Color of Light
Author: Helen Maryles Shankman
Publisher: Stony Creek Press
Where I Got It: TLC Book Tours
Tessa Moss is a young Jewish woman attending a classical art school in New York City. Her biggest project of the semester is an artistic exploration of her family’s history during the Holocaust.
The founder of the school, Raphael Sinclair, is a vampire. When Rafe walks past one of Tessa’s paintings, he sees the name “Wizotsky” written on a suitcase. This brings back painful memories of his former love Sofia Wizotsky, who was killed at Auschwitz. Tessa reminds Rafe of Sofia, and he quickly finds himself falling in love with her.
Rafe and Tessa each have their own day-to-day struggles that complicate the relationship. Tessa had been dating her boss, Lucian Swain, after nursing him through a breakdown, but Lucian doesn’t appreciate Tessa and cheats on her with a professor. Tessa is devastated, and Lucian’s new girlfriend seems to have a personal vendetta against her. And although Rafe founded the academy, half the board members hate him and wants to hire modernist professors and depart from the school’s classical mission. There’s a rule against dating students, and any involvement with Tessa could tip the scales against him.
Combining a vampire novel and a book about the Holocaust is difficult. When adding pop fantasy elements to an already horrific period in human history, one risks making light of the atrocities that occurred. Shankman did a wonderful job, treating the Holocaust with sensitivity and care. She uses the vampire story to highlight the lasting pain that the Holocaust caused. Raphael was heartbroken by Sofia’s loss, and was never able to forgive himself. Meanwhile, in 1992, Tessa’s family still hasn’t been able to get over the wounds that the Holocaust caused, and her grandfather refuses to speak of the family he lost in Poland. Tessa’s project channels those emotions and provides an opportunity for healing.
Shankman’s writing is beautiful, and filled with artistic imagery. The complex relationships between light, dark, and color are explored in the strengths and failures of each of the characters and the way they relate to each other.
The Color of Light is an impressive and ambitious novel combining art, vampires, and one of the most painful chapters in human history. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and I would highly recommend it.
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Title: Summer and Bird
Author: Katherine Catmull
Where I Got It: Review copy from BEA
Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull is the story of two little girls who discover the magic in their world. Their mother is secretly the queen of the birds, and their father is an ornithologist. Before they were born, the mother’s swan form was locked away, and she has been living as a human ever since. One night, she becomes a swan again and flies away. Her husband runs after him, forgetting about Summer and Bird and focusing solely on finding his wife. The children soon follow, becoming separated as their unique natures and ideas cause them to follow different paths and pursue different goals. Meanwhile, the greedy Puppeteer will stop at nothing to find the swan robe, because she believes that it will allow her to become the queen of the birds.
Summer and Bird began as a bedtime story that the author told to the children she was babysitting. The story is a blend between our own familiar world and the magic of folklore and mythology. The characters feel like archetypes, and while figures like the Puppeteer are a bit flat, it further solidified the fairy tale mood that Summer and Bird conveyed. The story isn’t fast-paced, but rather meanders and drifts as the characters wander and discover new things about themselves. I found it best to read a chapter or two at a time while relaxing rather than tackling the whole book at once.
***This paragraph will contain some mild spoilers*** One of the things I enjoyed most about Summer and Bird was the bittersweet ending. I saw it as a way of explaining the concept of divorce in a way that doesn’t cast blame on anyone, but instead highlights the way that two people can have fundamental differences. Summer and Bird’s mother is a swan, and their father is an ornithologist. While they love each other very much, they’re fundamentally incompatible. They come from two different worlds, and while opposites attract, there can come a point when a couple is just too different. Even though the father studies birds for a living, he can’t understand the mother when she is in her natural form. He doesn’t understand the magical language of birds, and all he hears is squawking. Even though he was able to live happily with the mother when she had lost her swan robe and been out of her kingdom, she was always missing an important part of herself, and was never quite fulfilled. Seeing their relationship fall apart was not good or bad so much as necessary. They just didn’t belong together, and Summer and Bird both had to learn to accept that and to find their own places in the world. The story explains an adult concept, but does so in a tactful and magical way that helps children understand why adults do the things they do, while emphasizing that it doesn’t mean that they aren’t loved. ***End Spoilers***
Catmull crafts a modern fairy tale that highlights the wonder and confusion that is a part of growing up and becoming independent. Summer and Bird may be directed toward children, but it will be treasured by audiences of all ages.by
This weeks’ questions cover up to but not including chapter 3.
1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Carlo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?
I liked the flashbacks. It’s almost like my favorite characters aren’t dead. Oh wait. Nope, still dead.
One of the scenes that struck me the most was after the ruse with Sabetha when Chains actually apologized to Locke for the trick he pulled and for not realizing the depth of Locke’s feelings when he arranged it. I didn’t expect it, and thought that giving the vial to Sabetha of all people would demonstrate to Chains that Locke would do what was necessary to make the best of a horrible situation. It was interesting to see Chains be the one who brought up his own fallibility and the limits of his perception.
2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?
It’s so frickin’ adorable. Poor little Locke has a crush. Obviously Locke’s feelings last, considering that mentioning her still makes him upset, but something had to have happened to drive the two of them apart. Betrayal?
3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?
Go Jean! Locke needed to hear every word of it. He can be a bit emo when he isn’t plotting a clever scheme to become fabulously wealthy. Jean’s guilt trip was just the right medicine to bring him back to his old self.
4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?
I don’t think the Bondsmagi are trustworthy. That’s part of why I’m so excited to see Locke and Jean work for Patience. Locke is better and smarter than everybody else, but he’ll be on equal footing with the Bondsmagi. Dare I say he may even be out of his depth? I suspect that Bondsmagi are a bit like the fae, and that you need to explicitly state the terms of an agreement, otherwise they’ll heed the letter of your words and not the spirit of them. I’m wondering if Locke was specific enough to prevent any funny business.
5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?
I can’t tell if she’s in on it or not. It’s rather ambiguous since we don’t know the identity of the speakers. Patience might be a backstabbing bitch, and that glimpse of vulnerability that she showed Jean might be an act to get him to do what she wants. On the other hand, we already know that there will be multiple contestants in the Bondsmagi election arena, so perhaps this is just a small taste of what they’re up against.
Is anyone else extremely curious what it’s gonna take to get the poison out of Locke’s body? Is this a scene best read on an empty stomach?by
The Book Tower Book Binge is a readalong hosted by Hannah at The Book Tower and lasts from October 21st – 27th. I know that I’m super late in getting this post up, but it’s been a hectic week at work and I haven’t had the time or energy for blogging. Since I didn’t get much reading done this week, I’m going to make the last day count and see how many books I can finish before time is up.
My readathon progress so far (will be updated throughout the day):
- The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow – 22% (Kindle)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – 181 of 181 pages
Title: The Day of the Triffids
Author: John Wyndham
Where I Got It: Purchased
The Day of the Triffids, originally published in 1951, is a science fiction classic about an apocalyptic world caused by carnivorous plants. The story opens as the narrator, Bill Masen, wakes up in his hospital bed. Most of humanity was outside the previous night and saw green meteors flashing across the sky. The next morning, anyone who had seen them awoke blind. Mass hysteria quickly begins to set in as people realize that civilization as we know it has ended and that the predators have now become the prey.
I bought this book because of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. One of the lines in the introductory song mentions fighting a triffid that spits poison and kills, and when seeing the show live, the call line is “What the fuck is a triffid?” This question had been in the back of my mind since college, and when I saw the book a few months ago as a Kindle Daily Deal, I knew I had finally found the answer.
Triffids are a freakish carnivorous plants that were most likely genetically engineered by the Soviet Union. The oil that they produce has profitable industrial applications. Lured by the promise of fame and fortune, humans begin to farm triffids before truly understanding their capabilities. The plants demonstrate unusual characteristics, including the ability to walk around, and their poisonous stings allow them to blind and kill their prey before digesting it. They are intelligent and are capable of adaptation and organization. People didn’t realize the danger until it was too late.
The criticism of the Cold War arms race mentality is blatant and profound. As industrialized nations compete to build bigger and better satellite chemical and biological weapons, a disaster becomes inevitable. It’s unclear whether the green flashing lights were a real meteor shower or a weapon being detonated, either deliberately or by accident. Either way, the triffids themselves were definitely man made, highlighting the dangers of what happens when weapons of mass destruction become ubiquitous and are allowed to proliferate unchecked.
After mankind is decimated, the survivors are left to pick up the pieces and try to create a new society. Wyndham explores the way that moral structures have to change to guarantee mankind’s survival. Groups that cling to dogma and tradition, like a Christian group that settles in the countryside, value ideals more than utility and are unable to innovate. In the cities, compassion toward the blind backfires. The cities are overrun by gangs as the sighted few lead the blind masses they protect to scavenge ever-dwindling supplies, and violence and disease become rampant. This examination of different social structures is one of the greatest strengths of the book, and sets it apart from similar stories.
The Day of the Triffids reminds me of a more thought-provoking version of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. The important difference is that in The Day of the Triffids, the characters come to realize throughout the course of the book that there’s not going to be any kind of magical salvation, and that the only chance of continuing the human race is by taking matters into their own hands.
Verdict: Highly Recommended.by
Yesterday I attended the Maryland Renaissance Festival as a part of my friend’s birthday celebration. It was the first Renaissance Faire that I’ve ever attended, although I had been wanting to go to one for many years.
There was no question about the fact that I’d be going in costume. I love medieval, Renaissance, and Tudor style clothing. When I was a teenager, my mother sewed me a gorgeous Guinevere costume. It took several weeks to sew and was extremely complicated, and my mother joked that it would double as my wedding dress. It was a greyish blue satin with long billowing sleeves and a train worthy of royalty. I was hoping to be able to wear it, but between then and now, I developed actual boobs, and now there’s no way that I can get into it. It’s sad, because the dress was so much fun to wear.
The festival itself was quite lovely, and filled with mead, revelry, and jousting. I even rode an elephant! In our wanderings, we discovered a bookstore, where I purchased the book Sex With the Queen by Eleanor Herman. The book is about queens who took lovers throughout history, and it looks fascinating. In an incredible stroke of luck, the author was there for a book signing, and I got to meet her.
Here are some of the other highlights from the day. I can’t wait to go back next year!
Hannah at The Book Tower is hosting a week-long Readathon that lasts from October 21st – 27th. My TBR pile is enormous, so I’m going to use that week to read and review as many books as possible.
When I did the Bout of Books readathon this summer, I was able to meet my goal of five books. I also got behind on reviewing them, so this time, I’m going to write at drafts of reviews as I go along. Hopefully that will help me prevent a backlog of reviews.
My goal for the Book Tower Book Binge is to read four books. Two will be physical books and two will be from my Kindle. Right now I’m thinking I might read The Red Plague Affair by Lilith Saintcrow, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.
This is a smaller and less structured readathon than Bout of Books, so I’ll probably just sticky and keep updating one post where I track my progress.
Any of you are more than welcome to join me! There aren’t a lot of people signed up, so let’s get the word out and do some reading.by
Note: These literary lolcats were found in their natural habitats on the internet. I did not create them.
Happy Friday, and have a wonderful weekend!by