Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018 Reading Challenge: Week 12

Three books finished to update my list - and kind of a mixed bag.

Flow Down Like Silver by Ki Longfellow for week #12's theme of a book set in Africa of South America.

Summary: From the dawn of history, countless women have marked their times in extraordinary ways. Women have been warriors, Pharaohs, popes, queens and kings, philosophers, poets, mathematicians, composers, painters, writers, revolutionaries and "witches."

But there was only one HYPATIA.

Brilliant, beautiful, accomplished and free, Hypatia of Alexandria was the last of the great Pagan teachers. Her brutal death at the hands of a Christian mob foretold the death of reason, of questioning, of reverence for nature, of the Goddess herself.

My Rating/Review:  3 out of 5 stars.  I loved the concept and focus of this book but I was hoping for a whole lot more.  The book opens well with the chaos of the burning of the library at Alexandria.  It went downhill from here for me.  Hypatia of Alexandria was an amazing women - she would have been amazing in any era, but certainly for 400 AD she was beyond 99.9% of the women of her time.  I didn't enjoy the writing in this book.  It felt stilted with odd lapses into a weird stream-of-consciousness kind of thing in all of the characters.  I slogged through it, hoping I would grow to love it, but that never happened.  

Next up, Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls for week #16, a narrative nonfiction.

Summary:  Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town -- riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane, and, with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle

Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds -- against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. It will transfix readers everywhere.

My Rating/Review:  4-1/2 out of 5 stars.  You'll note this technically was supposed to be a nonfiction book, but this one is written based extensively on the author's mother's remembrances of her mother (the main character), so I'm making it count here.  Lily Casey Smith was a force of nature.  I absolutely loved this book - from the opening sentence, you immediately KNOW who Lily is.  She reminded me a lot of my own grandmother, a spunky, no-nonsense kind of woman who could work a 20-hour day without blinking, was resourceful and capable, and a larger-than-life personality.  I especially loved the fact I know most of the places where Lily grew up and was an adult (since they are here in the Southwest).  An engaging portrait of a remarkable woman.  Highly recommended read. 

Finally, Silver Birch, Blood Moon, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, which I read for week #51 - an award-winning short-story collection.

Summary:  The four previous volumes in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's anthology series of fairly tales retold with a distinctively modern edge have been hailded by reviewers as "brilliant," "provocative," and "disturbing." In this triumphant new collection of original fiction, twenty-one of today's leading writers spin the cherished fables of childhood into glittering gold--offering magical tales for adults, as seductive as they are sophisticated.A jealous prince plots the destruction of his hated brother's wedding by inventing a "magic" suit of clothing visible only to the pure at heart...
A young girl's strange fairy tale obsession results in a brutal murder...
An embittered mother cares for her dying son who is trapped in a thicket that guards a sleeping beauty...
In a bleak and desolate industrial wasteland, a group of violent outcasts lays the tattered myths of one Millenium to rest, and gives terrifying birth to those of the next.

Erotic, compelling, witty, and altogether extraordinary, these stories lay bare our innermost demons and desires--imaginatively transforming our youthful fantasies into things darker, slyer, and more delightfully subversive.

My Rating/Review:  4 out of 5 stars. I absolutely loved this updated collection of fairy tales - definitely not for kids!  Contributors to the collection include Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman and Robin McKinley to name a few of the fantasy greats.  I loved the creative and imaginative twists on old classics.  Some were updated to the contemporary setting while others still retained a Medieval kind of feel, but all of the updated tales reflect a much more Grimm portrait of the stories.  Another highly recommend read. 

WIPocalypse October 2018 Check-In

I worked on a bunch of things this month as I've settled back into a 5-day rotation on my projects, which seems to be working pretty wel...