Writing: Science Fiction Evolution

I am reading some classic science fiction (Foundation Triology) and have found an understanding why I didn’t enjoy science fiction as much as fantasy when I was younger. There is a trend in the genre to be plot, world, and science focused with characters only being a carrier for these things to be explored. Asimov, Heinlein, Butler, and even Douglas Adams. It generally isn’t the characters we love and quote from these authors. Dune was an interesting books, but I didn’t connect with any specific character. The world, the politics, the exploration of different societies on different worlds feels like a core to book. Heinlein’s characters are notoriously flat and repetitive (if I read 3 Heinlein books in a row, I begin to confuse names they are so alike). Butler’s book I read was amazing and emotional, but it wasn’t the characters. Then I compare to the fantasy I loved when I was young: Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, Mary Herbert,

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Review: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned

Anyone who reads my book reviews has probably noticed a dearth of non-fiction. I don’t read much of it. I generally read for escapism and reading something real isn’t escape. There are exceptions to this rule. Alan Alda is a fun actor. I’ve known of him pretty much my entire life – mostly from M.A.S.H. I don’t know when or why I picked up his memoir, but I needed something different to read recently and so I started it. It was very interesting. I had no idea he was a child of vaudeville although it makes perfect sense to his acting style. I will admit, I had to struggle some to separate “actor” from “character” (Hawkeye) and stop trying to pigeon-hole the actor into the character. As I did, I feel like I got a better glimpse of the creative process of the creative artist behind the character. I never would have guessed some of his struggles, emotional or professional.

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Review: Spice and Tea (St. Augustine, FL)

I recently visited St. Augustine for a much-needed beach vacation. It was fabulous, and I was so excited to find Spice and Tea in downtown. First I smelled several teas, they smelled good. I finally settled on some 1 oz “sample” bags and 2 larger 4 oz bags: Emperor’s Chai (4 oz) Peach Turmeric Herbal (4oz) Sinfully Cherry (1 oz) Florida Sunshine (1 oz) Grapefruit Basil (1 oz) Oh. My. God. These are amazing blends. I did not expect to like the grapefruit basil, I smelled it thinking I would recoil. It smelled good. Quite floral and fruity. Hence the 1 oz bag to try it. Holy crap, it’s amazing! It is a little sweet by itself, I added a hint of sugar and…. I swear I almost had to take my clothes off (if you have seen Food Wars anime, you’ll get that reference). It isn’t a subtle flavor it sinks in and you just have to ride the

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SCOTUS: Opinions Unread so far

I am still playing “catch-up” on May and this week I’m seeing the Supreme Court put out opinions – and some of the headlines I’m reading are making me want to drop important chores (like dishes) to the wayside and find out how some of these judges are leaning and WHY. I know, I’m a nerd. So I am bookmarking the SCOTUS opinions page (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/slipopinion/20 if you’re curious) and I am going to read and blog about at least some of the cases. I’ve already heard some commentary on the Van Buren v. United States case, but I am curious about the opinions – because Gorsuch, Barret, and Kavanaugh all sided with Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagen. I will probably blog Sanchez v. Mayorkas and Garland v. Ming Dai together because they both deal with immigration (that’s about all I know, I’ve only read the abstracts). This isn’t my area of expertise, so we’ll see when I read them if they

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Review: Diving Universe

So my general rule has always been to avoid reviews until I have read an entire series. The problems come when a series is begun, but incomplete. The author has more to write. Do I review or not? Well, I think I have decided if I have read all available published in a series, I will review. Mostly because there are several series I’ve been reading that I haven’t been reviewing and it’s making me feel like a slacker. I’m not reviewing! I AM reading though. So I am going to start this new rule with a good one: Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving Universe. She has been writing novels in this universe since 2009. Sometimes short stories, sometimes novellas, and some full-length novels. I have read the novels. All of the short stories I’ve read were already in the novels, so for this review I am going to stick with the novels and novellas. As of today, this is the

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Review: Things Fall Apart

I picked up this book several years ago and put it on my “to read” shelf with great gusto. And promtly forgot about it. I wish I had read it sooner. Hell, if I was a high school English teacher, this would be part of my curriculum. It is good. I can see why it’s been aclaimed. Why the author, Chinua Achebe is aclaimed. The book isn’t long or dense. It’s a pretty easy read over all. It is more a character exploration than anything else, digging into the “whys” of human choices than following the what in a direct path. The book is broken into three parts which are unequal in length and depth. The first part is the longest in words. It is building the picture of the world of the protagonist Okonkwo and his own mindset. At the very start of the book I was a bit confused, but it did not last long. The cadence is

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Life: Anxiety in 2020

I can finally give a concrete example of anxiety manifesting in 2020. For the past two days or so I am bothered. I am turning it over and over and over in my mind. I get upset and grumble and gripe about it to myself. I literally start arguing with myself over it. No, I am not upset with my husband or even politics. I am worrying on a Star Trek Deep Space 9 episode. I haven’t seen it in a year or more, but it’s on my mind. For the STDS9 fans, it’s the episode when Kiko O’Brien is possessed by the bajoran Fire Demon. She has been on the planet seeing the “fire caves” which is a tourist destination and is possessed by this evil (in the bajoran religion) non-corporeal entity (a spirit). The show begins when she comes home and Miles O’Brien, her husband, is waiting for her with her favorite exotic chocolates as an apology for

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Review: Black Jewels Trilogy

This is not my normal fare of fantasy. These three books by Anne Bishop; Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness. They are borderline romantic, without the erotic elements most romance novels feature. Reading these three books, it felt like I got dropped into a world without a lot of context. But since this was her debut novel, it’s not like I accidentally picked up a trilogy in a world she’s written other books in (I did that with Mercedes Lackey before). I want to start here that I would not recommend this book casually. There is too much dealing with trauma and abuse to just say “everyone would enjoy!” and not in a “everyone would learn good lessons from her approach” way. A LOT of people would be made very uncomfortable with the issues it addresses. These issues are very interwoven throughout the three novels, although the most in the first novel. By the

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Review: Book of a Thousand Days

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale is written like a diary, the entries numbered by days. The story itself is an interesting melding of eastern and western fantasy. I like that the world isn’t a direct correlation to Chinese or Japanese imperialism. At least not anything so directly recognizable. The plot is such a cool retelling of Rapunzel. Sort of. Which I love. I love when authors give me what I think is a story I know, put it a cool twist on it, and drop me with a swift kick in the expectations. And this book delivers all that inside an intriguing medium of the “diary” storytelling method. Which is challenging. And I love the illustrations (James Noel Smith does them and they are really good). The villain is well written and evil and scary and yet realistic (in the world Hale created). The magic is there but not blatant. The romance is subtle and kind of funny and

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Review: Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea: One man’s mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time has taken me about three years to read. It was my toilet book and for a very long time, I would look at it feel utterly intimidated by it, so I would read and re-read the first chapter or two. I finally started making myself read a paragraph at a time. Once I did, I began to steadily devour it. Then I had a kid and often my bathroom time was too rushed to even try. Or worse…. I had a crying baby in my arms while I tried to do my business. But finally this year I finished the book. I feel bad because this books deserves so much better than this. I will go back and re-read this book someday over a vacation at the beach while I make my husband play with the kid in the sand and I just read. However,

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