May 1st, 2009

Hearth

Friday!

Administration
Happy May Day/Beltane! I have celebrated in the traditional way - singers and Morris dancers on the banks of the Charles, followed by marvelous sex.

Medical
I am full of ouch, thanks to being unusually active yesterday. :(

Dreamwidth
I'm there as Shadesong. Subscribe to me! Or don't. Up to you. Just letting you know. :)

Raffle
Last day, and payday for many of you! Paypal to shadesong AT gmail.com, and e-mail me to tell me what you want to put your tickets on.

Friday memage!
Wearing: Sock monkey bathrobe.
Reading: Ravens in the Library!
Writing: Pretty much nothing this week. Which is making me a little stir-crazy. Next week, fundraising will be over, and I can get back to my life!
Planning: A nap. Also hanging out and doing errands with Mark today. Tomorrow's the Blue October concert. Sunday, Harvard Square May Fair.

Also, I have decided that this Sunday is my Mother's Day. *nod*

I leave you with this lovely image from elisem: "We don't spend the night driving around with bunches of flower and bright paper and ribbon any more, so this is the closest thing I can give you right now. Look, here, on the door: there's a ribbon-loop, and folded paper, and an assortment of flowers from whatever 24-hour grocery emporium had some bouquets available to two giggling Minnesotans in the middle of the night. And now it's morning, and the first light is coming over the yards and slanting in under the porch roof, and you're here at the door thinking, "What's that there?"

Happy May Day. With love, from anywhere and everywhere."

After nap, I will post more about the raffle, and I'll post book reviews, but my brain is just not here right now!
Writing - XanaDuMalion

Books I read and liked this week and last

The Patriot Witch, by Charles Coleman Finlay (ccfinlay)

I snapped up a review copy of this because I’ve been hearing great things about his short fiction. Very glad I did. The Patriot Witch is historical fantasy, set during the Revolutionary War. Proctor Brown is a minuteman - and a witch, with power inherited from his mother. One of the things I really loved about this book was the internally consistent portrayal of different types of sorcery and witchcraft, and how the characters use and think of their powers. Brown’s descended from Salem witches, and discusses his powers with his pastor - he struggles with being a witch and being a member of a religion that will not suffer a witch to live. There are also representations of Appalachian, Southern, and Quaker traditions; there’s a lot of clear research and detail applied to something many authors just handwave away.

Oh, and there’s a plot, too! Basically, this is a Revolutionary War fantasy in much the same way that Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books are Napoleonic War fantasy, but with witchcraft instead of dragons. If you’re reading Novik for the engaging and historically accurate-as-they-can-be characters and the military history and maneuvers instead of just the shiny dragons, you’ll enjoy this book; Brown’s every bit as defined as Laurence, and his philosophical internal conflict alone could drive a series, but there are interesting threads for him to follow here as well.

Books two and three are dropping in May and June - get this one now so you can keep up!


###############


Desideria, by Nicole Kornher-Stace (wirewalking)

Desideria is a dizzying whirl of story within story, play within play, folded together like fine silk - our ideas of which version of the story is real change like a drop of ink in a glass of water. It is possible to do this sort of thing very poorly. Kornher-Stace does it very well. The use of language is lavish but precise - details are ample, but not overwhelming. This is a theatre novel, a fantasy novel, a novel of the romance of being someone else, and it held me right to the last page.

And you can still win a copy in the raffle!


###############


Fathers, Daughters, Ghosts, and Monsters, by JoSelle Vanderhooft (upstart_crow)

My new LJ subtitle is “freelance alchemist”. Vanderhooft could use that title herself. As she did in The Memory Palace, she uses poetry to transmute her complex relationship with her father; where her processing was stripped bare in The Memory Palace, it is here viewed through lenses of folktales and fables, science fiction and horror. The title “The Robot’s Daughter” made me laugh, but the story so artfully shaped within is one of the most poignant in the collection. “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” is breathtaking in ways that I’ve yet to fully articulate; like the daughter in this poem, Vanderhooft describes the darkness at the heart by tracing, suggesting; it’s a lovely and fitting use of negative space. There are quiet acts of desperation and revenge by bitter daughters, and love and longing by others. The standout for me is a matched set: “The Step-Father” and “The Step-Daughter”, a mirror, two people trying to find a way to relate to each other in a world that defines their relationship as one of opposition.

“The Vampire’s Daughter” is another note-perfect poem. I’ve never seen vampirism handled the way it is here, and it’s brilliant in a way that makes me wonder why I never saw things that way before. It’s in the form of an interview - a startling departure at first, but ideal for what Vanderhooft needs to accomplish here, and boy, does she pull it off. It’s the strongest piece in a book full of strong pieces, and it lingered in my mind for days afterward.

“Zeus’s Daughter” closes the collection, and it hits all the right notes, given that much of this has been Vanderhooft’s own exploration of herself as a daughter. It is bittersweet, wistful, and calm. The last words of the collection are those of closure: “It’s alright. It really is alright.”

Altogether, this collection is a wonderful examination of a relationship so rarely explored with this sort of delicacy and depth. I enjoyed Vanderhooft’s earlier work, but mining this territory has made her even better - each collection builds on the last, and I can’t wait til the next. If you order this direct from JoSelle, you can get it autographed! Ping her at upstart_crow!


###############


Goblin Quest, by Jim Hines (lj user="jimhines">)

This is a book for everyone who’s ever run a D&D campaign or read a fantasy novel and wondered what life was like for the “monsters”. Goblin Quest is a light-hearted reversed view of the usual fantasy tropes. It’s not specifically billed as YA, but you could give it to your middle or high school kid, especially if they’re a gamer. Or if you are ☺ Hines deftly sets the scene for sequels, and indeed there are two, which I’ll definitely be hunting down… he has a gift for characters, and I want to read more of Jig’s adventures!

###############


Standard disclaimer - I got free copies of the first three to review, but a positive review is never guaranteed. As with my controversial Sharing Knife review last time, if I have a problem with something, I'll say so! :)

Tangentially - if you send me a book, I'll review it. Sometimes it takes me bloody well forever to get to it, but hey, I was punctual about these!

Now I go run errands. When I return, I'll have Elayna (who should be home by then) write you a post about Explo, and I'll pimp the raffle one last time. Closes at midnight. Get your tickets in!
Elayna - Oct08

Elayna on Explo

I just got back home, and Elayna's busy on homework, so I give you this. When we applied for financial aid, they required a statement from her as to why she wanted to be in Explo. This is what she had to say:

To whom it may concern,

When I went to Exploration last year, it completely changed my life. I come from a school in which I’m teased for being above a lot of the kids, for being small, for dressing differently, for liking things most kids didn’t like. I liked myself the way I was, but I didn’t like the teasing. I’d heard tales, and knew that there would always be a couple of people in each school to accept me. But it was nothing like what I found at Exploration.

In Exploration last year, the number of people that accepted me for who I was could fill my entire school. That kind of acceptance is unbelievably unique. I’ve never found anything like that before. I learned so much, not just from the classes, but from the environment, and from the people. I met people there that helped and accepted me, and that allowed me to help and accept them.

Last year at Exploration, I tried my hardest to be as kind, helpful, and accepting as I could, to make up for the kindness, helpfulness, and acceptance that were given to me. And I think I succeeded. Although there were a few people I disagreed with at Exploration, I respected them, and they respected me. No one would disrespect me on purpose, so I always respected everyone around me.

I think everyone deserves a chance for something this great, and I hope I can be someone who could get that chance again. Exploration was undoubtedly one of the best things that had happened to me. I met people that changed my life for the better. I did activities I loved and a couple I didn’t, and learned from the experience that I loved or didn’t love them. There are things I can do at Exploration that I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else. Anywhere else, I would be worried about embarrassment, judgment, or teasing, but at Exploration, I’m never judged or teased. So I can really do anything. Even though this happened to me just last year, I still have trouble believing that such a privilege can really exist.

Very Truly Yours,

Elayna


###############


Adam, Elayna, and I are a single-income household living in one of the most expensive areas of the country. I am disabled (and damn, that's still hard to say), and so can't do the day job thing - and my medication costs ~$150 a month.

We didn't get the financial aid. There are people worse off than we are. Totally don't dispute that. Explo draws people from all over the country, and from over 40 countries around the world, so transit and housing are terribly expensive.

But I'm committed to doing whatever I can to give my daughter this experience again.

So please check out the raffle. If you see something you like, get a few tickets. I am awed by the generosity of my friends - those buying tickets, and those donating their own crafts, creations, and time. (Check out the Etsy links and shop in our donors' stores! They are all awesome, talented, and good-hearted people!) I've told Elayna jokingly a few times that she's The Internet's Child. It's only half a joke. She has people from all over the world who are invested in her, who want to to have things that do this for her. We thank you all.

As always, do not feel pressured to buy tickets; I'm not going to be upset if you don't. I totally understand that times are hard for everyone right now. I single out sponsors and donors in my thanks above, but I appreciate you all.

Raffle runs til midnight tonight. Last chance to get in on it! Go now, quick like a bunny!