Sunday, June 24, 2018

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome

You can read the story for free here.
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome is the prequel novella/short story to John Scalzi’s Lock In. I loved Lock In and am very eager to read Head On. Lock In was a mystery set in a science fiction world, but that wasn't Unlocked. Unlocked answered some questions for me, but also raised some more. Reading about the creation of the Agora and how people lived there, reminded me of Ready Player One, while the threeps reminded me of Surrogates, though they are less realistic.  It was interested to read how people who had Haden's Syndrome became their own people and faced ostracizing once the "novelty" of personal transports went away.

Of all the characters, the First Lady stood out for me. Margie Haden was strong and vivacious. She was the real power of the presidency. If it wasn't for President Haden's wife contracting the disease (and subsequently having the disease named after her), how would it have been handled. Once it was "under control" would threeps have been invented? Would it just be about maintaining bodies in their "vegetable" state. Having Marcus Shane (a Michael Jordan level basketball player?) testify too about what the disease did to his toddler son was also a way to get American emotions on the side of the researchers. Of course it is his son, Chris Shane is the star of Lock In and it makes sense to see how his young life played into the beginning of Haden's Syndrome. There are so many questions though. Where did the disease come from? Was it man made? Why isn't there a cure yet? Will the robot uprising actually be Hadens taking over the world? When will regular people get their own threeps?

Unlocked gave me a chance to whet my appetite for Head On. I thoroughly enjoy Scalzi's writing and am exciting for the next adventure.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lumberjanes: Out of Time

The more I read the Lumberjanes series, the more I love them. These are some fantastic girls. Their personalities shine. They are so different, and they love each other so much. They love Jen. I was glad we got to spend more time with her. Being their Camp Counselor must be so hard! They are always getting into trouble, sneaking out, or fighting the supernatural! What is Jen to do? Jen understands the girls more in Out of Time, and she learns more about Rosie too. I think this is the most we've seen Rosie. Rosie is usually this overarching presence, without being involved directly in what the girls do. This time though, Rosie finds herself in the midst of not just saving Jen and the girls, but the whole forest.

I really liked that we got to see more of the forest and what lives in those woods. Is every creature living there evil? Are any of them? We learned more about the Bear Woman too. I feel like there's so much more to that story.

What about Abigail? When are we going to see her again? Because she's not done with the forest or Rosie. What happened to her was sad, but she did not deal with it well. She was an interesting character, a real contrast to those we've met so far. 

Jo was a stand out for me too. She always seemed like such a leader to me, sure of herself and her place among the group. In Out of Time we got to see her have doubts. She had to deal with one of the Scouting Lads from earlier in the series. April befriended Barney and we got to see him return with his kitten (which was a call back to the brainwashing story, so that was fun). Barney wants to be a Lumberjane so much, he wants to go on adventures and thinks these girls are amazing. Through this interaction, we get to see Jo grow as a person, become more mature and reflect on herself. We also get to see her call her Dads and what that reveals about the camp the girls are in.

Lumberjanes: Out of Time was the fun and uplifting story I wanted it to be. I'm so glad I have more Lumberjanes waiting for me. I've introduced them to my daughter too. I'm excited to start talking to her about these fun and fantastic stories.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


I think I have a love/hate relationship with Stephen King. I mean, I love him, his books, his tweets. He's smart and interesting whenever I see him in interviews. His books just floor me. They're usually long, tense, complex, filled with characters I love, characters I hate and characters that get long, complex backstories, only to have them killed off on the next page. I've definitely needed some recovery time.

I started reading It months ago, in the middle of a reading slump. I managed to crawl my way out of it and back to the novel. (Piece of advice: If you're in a reading slump, picking up a novel that's over 1000 pages is probably not a good idea.) It was just so long! Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down, but looking at that super thick paperback made picking it up daunting. I did it though, because I had to know what happened to Bill, Ben and Bevvie, to Mike, Richie, Eddie, and poor Stan.

Ben was utterly my favourite character. I know it was Big Bill who was the star of the story, or maybe Pennywise the Clown, but Ben stood out for me. There is something about him that I connected to. I don’t know if it’s because he was a target, or because he changed so much from the child he used to be to the amazing adult he became, but I loved Ben. I want to know more about him, I want to know about his future. I wish I could have spent more time with him.

Also, I loved the Turtle. From the first moment of its mention, I had to know how It was connected to The Dark Tower. King has created his own universe/multiverse, and we see characters pop up from different stories. I remember feeling the same way when I read Insomnia, but this was even better. It was more subtle. If you have never read The Dark Tower series, you wouldn't be missing anything by not knowing about the Turtle connection, but if you're a fan like me, you will be struck, tickled even. It makes me want to dive back into The Dark Tower and find the Turtle references. (Also, what was Shardik doing when all this happened?)

Though it took me a while to get through, I really enjoyed It. I think it also sparked in me the urge to read more of King's books. Maybe Full Dark, No Stars, maybe The Stand, I have been thinking about Night Shift too. I wonder if any of those characters will show up again. I'm not sure what else I can say. It's a long book, but a lot happens and I don't want to give any of it away. It is worth the time to read it. I'm glad I got to spend time with The Losers Club.

*Side note: There have been so many great book covers over the years, I wanted to share them. I found the one for the French translation of It, but it was a little too gruesome for what I was wanted.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Wonder Woman: Flesh

The end of Wonder Woman: Flesh was fantastic. I couldn't have asked for it to be better. Though it feels like a "middle" book (it definitely leaves off on a cliffhanger) there is character growth. We get to see not only Diana change, but also Hera and even Apollo. I was starting to feel bad for First Born, but nope, I don't. I think I feel bad for Cassandra though. I don't think she saw that coming. I would like for Zola to learn something, to be more active in her own safety. I understand that everyone is some kind of god or demi-god, but still, something. Also, I could have used more Orion.

Again, I find myself enjoying the art. I love the thick lines and expressiveness. Wonder Woman's smirk after a certain fight was perfect, and so telling. The art of Flesh and of the series so far, has been engaging, not just fitting well with the story, but adding to it as well. Flesh has left me very excited to read Bones. There are battles to be fought, destinies to be fulfilled, babies to raise. Diana has suffered so much loss, but also gained so much love. What is next for Wonder Woman?

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Sun and Her Flowers

I'm so glad that I picked up The Sun and Her Flowers. I've slowly been reading more poetry over the last couple years. I had, of course, heard of Milk and Honey. It was on the Bestseller's list, bookish people were talking about it, my cousins were talking about it. Then, Rupi Kaur published another book. People were excited. When I saw The Sun and Her Flowers looking up at me from a display table, I felt I had to read it. I hadn't heard much about the new book yet, as it had not been as hyped as the first. Though since purchasing, I've been seeing more and more about it.

I connected with The Sun and Her Flowers, enjoying the words, the structure, the images. I've read that people are not sure that it is actually a book of poetry. I can see why they might think that. Rupi Kaur writes about being the child of immigrants, relationships, and discovering herself. They could easily be topics or sections in a memoir. There is memoir in Kaur's words. To me, however, The Sun and Her Flowers is poetry, even if you count the entire book as one long illustrated poem, the poem of her life.

There kept being short passages, moments, that I had to share. So, I Instagrammed them. They connected with me, the whole book did, the struggles that Kaur goes through. How often do we compare ourselves and our paths to others? I know I do all the time. As a mother, friend, daughter, writer, reader, and so many other ways, I have compared myself to others. How can I be there for my children more? Is my husband happy with me? Why aren't I writing more? Why can't I read as much as all these other people?

Kaur reflects on immigration, focusing much on the journey of her mother. It made my wonder about my own parents, particularly my mother (though both from Trinidad, my parents met here in Canada). From the stories they've told me, my father did all right. It was still difficult, but he wasn't sheltered the way my mother had been. My mother was the youngest and a girl. I also wonder about the difficulties her mother faced. She was a single mother bringing her children to a new country, leaving a place where, from what I can tell, her husband had been beloved (he died in a car accident when my mother was seven). They are powerful words indeed to make me thing about all these things.

The Sun and Her Flowers is a book I can see myself coming back to over and over again. It is a book I could just let live at my bedside or on my desk. A book where I can just randomly open a page and read a few words. A book full of words to meditate on, consider, question and inspire. I look forward to reading more of Kaur's work.