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review 2017-08-02 03:38
The Golden Lie
The Golden Lie - B.M. Hardin

Title:  The Golden Lie

Author:  B. M. Hardin

Publisher:  Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Five

Review:

 

"The Golden Lie" by B.M. Hardin

 

My Thoughts...

 

This is definitely one of those reads that you will not want to put down until the end.  The story will be filled with so many lies that you will simply have to keep up with all of its twist and turns. I found all of the characters simply off the chart bringing so much to this story that will have you shaking your head and saying wow...I didn't see that one coming.  At the end I was left wondering just who the truthful person was in this read.  There was so much damage that had been done would there be a any room for a healing?  I will only say this author has done it again and that is give the readers another good read. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-11-08 19:26
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing

First let me say that I cheated a bit and listened to this 27 hour audiobook and that part was a mistake. It made the divisions in the story more difficult to understand and I ended up going back and getting the ebook to make sense of it afterword.

The book hit me much like Madame Bovary did back when I read it first but I understand the problem now and can honestly say that I see why it is considered a feminist classic and how it contributed to the body of work that eventually won Doris Lessing the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The book is incredibly problematic in many ways right from the start. The point of the book though, is the introspection into the four notebooks where the main character looks at all the ways in which the bubble of her life as an upper middle class white heterosexual in the society of England just afte WWII is problematic. While I'm sure problematic would not be the word Lessing would have used at the time, this is where we've come in looking at books and feminism and all the intersections of life. As part of this, there is also a diversity problem throughout. Nevertheless, we do get to see some people who still have representation issues and though the characters aren't treated well, it's a part of the book that the main character spends time writing in the notebooks about her treatment of them, her feelings about it, and sometimes debating other tactics. None of this makes her noble, but it definitely makes the book ahead of its time. For the record, it was originally published in 1962, which is a year before The Feminine Mystique. Along with the aforementioned notes about people, she also takes a long and introspective look at her life, her role in society, the way society treats her and the things expected of her by everyone.

Like I said, it was a book ahead of its time. It's problematic in many aspects right from the start but the point is looking at her life. For me, that makes the nature of the problems a part of the plot and not an afterthought or something the writer neglected to care about. The whole point is seeing for yourself if you are a racist or sexist or hetero-sexist.

Some minor spoilers ahead.

To elaborate on what I was getting at above, this book is great in that it so well explains that plight of women in several walks of life during it's time. The part that bothers me is intricate to what makes it great. It's so true.

Yes, it gets quite complicated and it may be difficult to understand what I mean by that in a review and I did think at first that maybe it was just me and I just really identified with the women the story is about. But it's not. I know that because I also get the ebook, as I mentioned above, which has two introductions that were written by the author, one in 1993 and the other in 1971. She has received enough fanmail and letters stated this that I know I'm not alone in that.

What I mean by the "plight of women" is that there are things that we all know happened back in the time that this book was made that we like to gloss over. We watch old movies where men say things that we would not consider a compliment if said now and the women laugh and then we laugh as if it's okay because those aren't real women anyway, right? Well, many of those very things had to be a part of the culture, it only makes sense when it pops up in, literally everything made in the time. Let's go ahead and add in the feeling that there is a requirement to have sex with a guy who buys you dinner now, let alone in a time before the Women's Liberation movement.

So yeah, what made me squirm as I read the story wasn't that I didn't like it as a masterful piece of work with a beautiful prose that just makes you feel what the characters feel, but the idea of living and breathing in that world terrifies me. A lot. Like, A LOT. It's not Hunger Games level, but it's not necessarily far off either.

I grew up knowing that there were lots of women around me that felt like they had to just be happy with the man they married despite affairs and poor treatment because they were unemployable and he was a decent provider for their kids. And just like with some of the men here, it was her kids, not their kids together. These guys don't feel anything for their children, they aren't a part of their lives. Having kids was a favor they did for the women they kept all but chained to the house. Now, don't get me wrong, house-wives are great. It's the idea of a man looking at his housewife as if she exists as a burden to him and having children with her solely to give her life meaning because he won't "let" her do that by any other means or because she feels bound by society to make that the meaning of her life that I have a problem with.

Part of what makes this so clear is that the book itself isn't about a housewife, it's about a serial mistress. She doesn't want to be married. I don't want to spoil all the details of why and her circumstances, but this gives us the window through which we get to see these men. Married men in pursuit of her as their girl on the side and then we get to walk through her thought process and whether or not she wants to sleep with them and whether or not she does in spite of desire but out of obligation. All of these things leave her in positions that I would loathe finding myself in as well as most of the other women in the book. Before I get accused of making the distinction, though I don't think it should be necessary, I do understand that this is her circle and the people she finds herself around. I'm sure there were plenty of perfectly happy marriages with men who didn't sleep around. This book isn't about those marriages or those men.

What makes it a truly interesting book despite all the things that terrify me is that what makes the plot move along is Anna's introspection that is brought on by her notebooks. She has written a successful book and is compartmentalising in an effort to find adequate inspiration for a new book. Her introspection makes her take a second look at everything, even the most menial, repetitive, or normal things. For example, she mentions washing up several times a day while on her period and changing out her tampons. She doesn't just mention it but thinks on how it makes her feel, how it effects what happens throughout the day that she has to take this extra precaution.

The commentary on communism is an interesting one that I've never really heard before. It makes sense to see it in the beginning as something hopeful on that level but I love that it is also broken down into people and how people can so easily break a concept like communism. My dad once said (and he was probably quoting but he's my original source) that communism is a great idea until you add people to it. I remember working to figure out what that meant and realizing that it does sound like it should create a better world, then later realizing that some greedy people will always come along and destroy it all. This, of course, was well after the Cold War ended and that cat was out of the bag. I'm sure I was watching something that mentioned something about it.

Due to her experience in Africa and the nature of her first novel, Anna does also get introspective about racism and even colonialism. The plot of that first novel would be considered very problematic these days and she realizes it in the book and spends some time on why and how and what she could have done differently but that it would not have sold that way. No one would have believed it or wanted to see it if she had told the real truth.

I found her dreams toward the end with the projectionist interesting. I had a similar, though different, experience recounting events in my life as I had started to become better versed in feminism these last few years and started to see all the little ways that I had bought into internalized misogyny. I had been a girl who said that I wasn't like other girls because I genuinely didn't like many other girls at the time. The list of faux pas from back then goes on, but the introspection was an important part of it. It's a little jarring when you sit down to it, at least it was for me and I appreciate that it was equally so for Anna.

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review 2016-01-05 02:52
Read the Mapmaker's Trilogy by S.E. Grove!

The Glass Sentence & The Golden Specific are the most inventive MG fantasy novels that I've read since Harry Potter. I don't read a lot of MG, true, but they are also much more inventive than a lot of YA I've read. Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended.

 
After the below synopses, I will ramble in true fangirl style about my love for these books.

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove | GOODREADS
Release Date: June 12, 2014 (hardcover; pb: June 16, 2015)
Published by: Viking Books for Young Readers
 
She has only seen the world through maps. She had no idea they were so dangerous.

Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.

Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.

The Glass Sentence plunges readers into a time and place they will not want to leave, and introduces them to a heroine and hero they will take to their hearts. It is a remarkable debut.


IF YOU HAVEN'T READ BOOK 1 AND ARE AFRAID OF SPOILERS, DON'T READ THIS NEXT SYNOPSIS.

The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove | GOODREADS
Release Date: July 14, 2015
 

The eagerly-awaited sequel to the best-selling The Glass Sentence -- a historical, fantastical adventure perfect for fans of Philip Pullman!

It is the summer of 1892, one year since Sophia Tims and her friend Theo embarked upon the dangerous adventure that rewrote the map of the world. Since their return home to Boston, she has continued searching for clues to her parents’ disappearance, combing archives and libraries, grasping at even the most slender leads. Theo has apprenticed himself to an explorer in order to follow those leads across the country—but one after another proves to be a dead end.

Then Sophia discovers that a crucial piece of the puzzle exists in a foreign Age. At the same time, Theo discovers that his old life outside the law threatens to destroy the new one he has built with Sophia and her uncle Shadrack. What he and Sophia do not know is that their separate discoveries are intertwined, and that one remarkable person is part of both.

There is a city that holds all of the answers—but it cannot be found on any map. Surrounded by plague, it can only be reached by a journey through darkness and chaos, which is at the same time the plague’s cure: The Golden Specific.

 

And the cover for The Crimson Skew, the third and final book in the Mapmakers Trilogy, was recently released as well. That book will be releasing July 12, 2016. You can read my initial thoughts up to page 85 of The Golden Specific as well.

Note: this is categorized, I think, as middle grade, but the characters are 13-14 years old. You could just as well categorize them as young adult, if you're hesitant to read them because of the label.

WHY YOU NEED TO READ THIS TRILOGY*:
*The Crimson Skew may not have been released yet but yes yes yes it is making my 2016 list...

1) This trilogy is not just for kids. I like to think of the quote I have on my about page: "A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." (From Lewis, C.S. "On Three Ways of Writing for Children." On Stories: And Other Essays in Literature. New York: Harcourt Inc., 1982: 31-43.). The best kind of MG and YA stories are the ones with themes so resonant that adults can identify with them as well, and with recognizable yet colorful characters, complex world-building and plotting. When I read The Glass Sentence and The Golden Specific, my first thought was that I would recommend these books to readers of all ages. As I stated in my review of The Glass Sentence, the books focus on making of time what you want. The books focus on family, belonging, history, myth, and story-telling.

2) This trilogy is also perfect for kids. The Golden Specific would be excellent to facilitate discussion among kids about immigration policies and the founding of the United States, what happened to Native Americans. The trilogy is, in many ways, a discussion on historical constructs: this is what happened in our past (Age of Verity); need we repeat these events in the future? Who is telling the story - the people we're destined to become or the ones we're choosing to be every day, or the people empowered by their Age? It has these very deep embedded questions that a teacher or parent could use to ask questions of the kid, and for the kid? This series also has all the magical adventure, fun, wit, and sheer imagination that something as famous as Harry Potter does (note: I haven't read His Dark Materials, so I can't speak to the Phillip Pullman comparison). I have the sense that S.E. Grove can do anything; her imagination is truly remarkable.

3) Sophia, and the other characters, are as adorable as ever. I love that these books are clearly led by Sophia. Theo becomes a hero with his own character arc in The Golden Specific, but to me the books are still centered around Sophia, who is one of my favorite heroines for her resourcefulness, loyalty, and determination. I love that S.E. Grove has created a female lead who doesn't give up her willingness to trust other people, even in the face of dangerous and frightening circumstances. I love that she comes across her own realizations in the appropriate amount of time, and I love that her flaw, time and time again, is what helps her to succeed -- in accepting herself, she becomes stronger with each book. As for the other characters, my original complaint from The Glass Sentence was that they didn't pop for me as much as I'd liked. No such complaint for The Golden Specific! Because you get other points of view besides Sophia's, the characters feel more complex. They have their own agendas, and seeing the characters through more than just Sophia's perspective allowed for added shades to their character. Additionally, The Golden Specific did a wonderful job highlighting how the characters are both their own people and defined by the world and Ages in which they live.

4) The world-building is phenomenal. If I expanded on this category, it would be incoherent fangirly rambles in which I praise S.E. Grove's imagination and all the remarkable little details that she adds to make the atmospheres and settings palpable, imaginable, and within our reach. So, I'll just have to curtail my discussion; also check my review of the first book for more on that note.

In comparing The Glass Sentence to The Golden Specific, I'd say that The Golden Specific picks up the stakes; the other points of view (besides Sophia's) allow for additional complexity in the plot but sacrifice a little of the thematic emphasis that The Glass Sentence had on making of time what you want. I think that also hints at how dynamic this series is. While The Glass Sentence had a whole heap of magic and enchanted me with this grand world, The Golden Specific pushed my imagination as a reader, because I could not predict where the plot was headed; there were so, so many details, and the world-building is so expansive that I didn't know where the book would take me next. Reading was an adventure of its own! One last thing I will also say is that if you've read The Glass Sentence, I would suggest rereading before reading The Golden Specific. Because the world-building is so expansive, I had a harder time remembering certain aspects of the plot and world that turned out to be crucial to The Golden Specific.

A wonderfully well-written, timeless adventure through Ages and worlds both marvelous and dangerous, with colorful and developed characters at the forefront. You cannot miss out on The Mapmaker's trilogy by S.E. Grove.

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url 2016-01-05 02:35
Best Books I Read in 2015

Today I thought that I'd share my favorite reads from 2015. I've been posting these on a Goodreads shelf all year long, but some of them are books I'd also marked as favorites in 2014: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski, and The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon. Those I read in 2014, though they were officially published in 2015 -- would still recommend reading those! Last year I only made a video as a means of recommending books to people who didn't like YA much, but this year I wanted to make a full list!

 

*note: not all were published in 2015!

Great contemporary reads --

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed, Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn, and Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Written in the Stars is a heartfelt exploration of an arranged marriage in Pakistan, written simply to maximize its impact and our identification with the main character on her horrific journey. Dumplin' is a romantic coming-of-age about a fat girl who competes in a beauty pageant to regain her confidence and self-love. About a girl trying to break into a men-only secret society, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is another great read from E. Lockhart. And what happens when you take three self-destructive, morally grey people and force them to interact with each other? A high stakes psychological thriller from Stephanie Kuehn, potentially her best work yet in Delicate Monsters. Black Iris is Leah Raeder's heart book, sexy, romantic suspense layered with questions about gender identity and sexuality. All are wonderful explorations of growing up in a patriarchal world.

You can read my reviews of: Black Iris, Delicate Monsters, and Dumplin'. I nominated Dumplin' and Delicate Monsters in theEpic Reads Book Shimmy Awards, and encouraged others to be excited for the release of Dumplin'.

Magical realism that takes risks in its narrative --

Chime by Franny Billingsley, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, and The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

YA magical realism is a wonderful expanding genre that's pushing the boundaries of the typical YA narrative. All three of these stories are told in their own cyclical, winding ways, and all three have absolutely gorgeous writing. Chime tells the story of a girl regaining her confidence as she discovers the truth; Bone Gap tells a story about perception and beauty; and The Accident Season tells the story of a family broken by a tragic past. Highly recommended, and can't wait for more magical realism to crop up.

I discussed Bone Gap and The Accident Season here. I nominated Bone Gap in the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards.

Female-led historical journeys --

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Elizabeth Wein is a reigning queen of YA historical fiction, and Rose Under Fire was a gorgeous tale of female friendship tested under terrible circumstances. Walk on Earth a Stranger is about a girl with a fantastical ability to discover gold on an Oregon Trail-like, self-discovery journey to California, and it's as fantastic as that sounds.Daughter of the Forest is loosely based on the legend of the Children of Lir and "The Six Swans," a fairy tale told by the Grimms and many more. It's gorgeous and I absolutely adore the commingling of tender romance, Celtic atmosphere, and fantastical curses.

You can read my review of Walk on Earth a Stranger. Because of my love for Daughter of the Forest, I wrote a recommendation list of adult fiction for YA readers. I nominated Walk on Earth a Stranger in theEpic Reads Book Shimmy Awards, and encouraged others to be excited for its release.

Er, the only Urban Fantasy recommendation I have is Burned by Karen Marie Moning. A few years ago, I got caught up in adult urban fantasy, which is often sexy and led by kickass heroines. At this point, I'm not reading much adult UF (though feel free to recommend me some books!); only the Fever series remains on my tbr list.

Fantasy! Fantasy! Fantasy!

The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge, Serpentine by Cindy Pon, Eon by Alison Goodman, Poison Study by Maria Snyder, and A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Goodness, where to start? The Golden Specific is a part of the MG trilogy I said was most inventive MG fantasy I've read since Harry Potter. Shadow Scale is the much anticipated sequel to Seraphina, and is, like its predecessor, a wonderfully written masterpiece. Crown Duel is the most fun I've had with fantasy in a while. As Small Review said: "It's like a fantasy Pride and Prejudice with an imperfect main character who grows throughout the book, a swoony slow burn hate-turned-love romance, and lots and lots of political intrigue." Uprooted has a side plot of slow burning hate-to-love romance, a determined, spirited heroine who learns to wield magic with skill, plenty of plot twists and an absolutely wonderful main female friendship. Plus, of course, a creative fairy tale world, with a cinematically creepy evil Wood. Crimson Bound is very much of the same ilk as Uprooted; enjoyed one, and well, you should read the other. At its core, Serpentine features a wonderful main female friendship which runs well alongside a sweet romance, lush setting inspired by Chinese folklore, and an innately discussable premise about a girl with a power that makes her feel Other. Eon is an epic fantasy inspired by Japanese and Chinese mythology, full of daring adventure and heartbreaking action and romance, and layered with questions on gender identity. I'd definitely recommend Poison Study to fans of Throne of Glass; Poison Study is about the food taster to the Commander of a military regime, and the political intrigue, magic, and romance she unexpectedly finds. A Thousand Nights is a loose epic fantasy retelling of 1001 Nights, and features a heroine who defies the odds in not only surviving the threat of murder from her husband but also in becoming a stronger leader and a goddess in her own right. ALL FANTASTIC FANTASY READS!

You can read my reviews of: A Thousand Nights, Eon, Serpentine, Crimson Bound, Uprooted, Shadow Scale, and the Mapmakers trilogy. I discussed Crown Duel and Poison Study here. I nominated Serpentine and A Thousand Nights in theEpic Reads Book Shimmy Awards.

Science Fiction for your Star Wars craving --

Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci

I'm thinking that the success of Star Wars is going to led to an upswing in YA science fiction. In the meantime, however, perhaps you'd like to satiate a craving for YA sci fi with Cecil Castellucci's space epic. In the Tin Star duology, our scavenger-esque, survivor oriented heroine must fend for herself while navigating intergalatic politics and a sweet, cross-species romance, and answer for crimes she did not commit.

You can read my review of Stone in the Sky here.

Nonfiction for the rainy days --

Six Myths of Our Time by Marina Warner, The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction by James A. Millward, and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming is an absolutely amazing memoir. I usually say that I don't read things written in verse, but man am I glad that I broke that "rule" for BGD! HIGHLY recommended for everyone. Jacqueline Woodson can evoke beautiful imagery in such few words. I related to her experiences despite having a very different identity. Can't wait to read more from her. As for the other two books, if you're interested in cultural myths or the Silk Road, you'll be as pleased as I was in reading them.

Writing out this list made me realize what sort of books I'm looking to read for 2016 and beyond, and the kind of books that I specifically enjoy. Almost all my favorite contemporaries are diverse books; I no longer am interested in reading books from the perspective of a white, cisgendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical, rich teenager unless, like Frankie Landau-Banks, they have something very different to offer. I also don't read a lot of science fiction or historical fiction, it seems, but I'm looking to change that, particularly since historical fiction seems really focused on its leading ladies and the friendships that change their lives. YA Magical realism is my go-to for stories that break the mold, and I'd love to see more books published in that genre. Fantasy? Man, there's a reason fantasy is my favorite genre. Fantasy books that give me romance ship feelings (Crown Duel, Poison Study), or are fairy tale retellings with atmosphere (Uprooted, Crimson Bound), or are layered, literary stories I can slowly unpeel (A Thousand Nights, The Golden Specific, Shadow Scale), or are coming-of-age stories with complex and diverse world-building (Eon, Serpentine) -- yes. These are my kind of books. If any of that fits your reading tastes, you may be interested in reading some of the recommendations above.

What were the favorite books that you read in 2015? Do we share any? Have you read any of the books I listed? Let's discuss!
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review 2015-12-12 18:20
Eon by Alison Goodman & The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove

I don't usually write posts about books that I haven't read ALL the way through, but sometimes I think that it's actually helpful to see how your initial impressions match with your whole reading experience. Also, it's helpful to see what a person thinks of the beginning - I mean, will this book capture you from start to finish? Anywho, today I thought that I'd share with you my current reads, Eon by Alison Goodman and The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove.

 

 
Eon by Alison Goodman | Goodreads
Release Date: August 31, 2010 (pb release)
Published by: Firebird (Penguin)
 
Quick, very bare bones summary: a sixteen year old girl masquerading as a twelve year old boy must learn how to control her Dragoneye power in order to save the empire.
 
So, actually, since I filmed that video, I finished reading Eon and its sequel Eona. My original thoughts are much the same. From the very beginning, I felt very captured by the story and its atmosphere. There are so many concrete details about the Chinese & Japanese mythology inspired world; it's easy to feel like you're there with Eon(a). It's more than just building an atmosphere: Kat Kennedy from Cuddlebuggery mentioned the idea of a Cultural Iceberg from Edward T. Hall, and looking at the Iceberg, with no doubt, Eon digs deeper into the water. You understand the religious beliefs, values, notions of self, perceptions, and more. And, as I emphasized in the video, I loved Eon(a) as a character. There are some books where I feel like I'm being very consciously manipulated to like that character - he or she's the one who provides for his/her family; he or she would sacrifice himself/herself to save the younger sibling, etc. This book wasn't one of them. I liked Eon(a) for her personality, for her determination to survive and her cunning. In some sense, she's like Katniss in her pragmatism. But she's also very different because this is a hugely duty and honor bound world, and Eon(a) has been shaped by that. So, in short, from the very beginning, I loved Eon(a) and the world.
 
I still loved them by the end, and wanted to continue onto the sequel, Eona, actually. I read Eona but will try to keep my thoughts focused on Eon. I loved the relationship between Heuris Brannon and Eon. I loved that there was no moralizing; there are so many fantasy novels where because you don't know the cultural values, you immediately pin your own onto that world, and you immediately demonize a character for something we would consider wrong. And that's because there's a HOLE in the world-building; you have to fill it in yourself. But Eon is not like that at all. So, for instance, as Eon's master, Heuris Brannon, beats Eon when Eon doesn't master things as quickly as Brannon wants. Is that wrong? In our world, probably, but in the world imagined by Alison Goodman, it's very much a part of the master/Dragoneye apprentice relationship. It's also similar to how no one is allowed to touch the Heavenly Emperor on threat of death. But, thankfully, because the world is so well-developed, it's not something where we're told GASP GASP that's wrong that he would threaten to kill someone for touching him! Instead we live it beside the character. And so I thought that the Eon/Brannon relationship was really complex. In Eona, that complex relationship is continued with someone else who I won't name (though I'm less a fan of his ending...). In general, Goodman seems to excel at creating a complex world with characters who are very much SHAPED by that world. They could easily have been character tropes: the orphan boy who has risen in fortune; the cross-dressing girl; etc. They're not.


I also really liked how romance was handled in the duology. Since Eon is actually Eona and Eona is pretending to be a 12 year old boy, there's not much opportunity for romance; if Eon did have a romance with someone at 12, it probably would've been a different book. But the relationships between characters are set for the next book, which then allows for a gradual development of the romance. I loved how gender identity was discussed in Eon. There are a lot of books with cross-dressing girls; rarely is it actually discussed why that girl has to hide herself as a boy and the repercussions of that. Here we got to have Eon(a) unpack how her culture treats her differently as a boy vs. girl, and her own biases about what it means to be female, male, etc. And that's especially challenged in some of the side characters: Ryko, a Shadow Man (aka eunuch) who takes steroids that enhance Sun energy (masculinity), and Lady Dela (a twin soul; a man who dresses as a woman and is accepted to be both - probably simplifying this). It's the rare fantasy that actually discusses the cross-dressing instead of using it to make the character seem more "badass" or give the character the opportunity to have traditionally masculine characteristics.

Wow! This is getting to be long. Okay, well, other things I liked: the cinematic feel of the book (there's a reason why Rites of Passage are what we focus on in so many different books - choosing ceremonies and the like - and man, this book doesn't disappoint on the climax and the dragon choosing ceremony and so many other extremely visual scenes) and the side characters and development of the characters (the emperor can't be touched because of rank; actual development of class rank, and how class rank affects each character! and side characters who have their own stories!). I didn't like the ultimate villain (the quickest way to make a villain is to have them hate difference or be cruel, etc. but the most fascinating villains, to me, are the ones most like the protagonist), the Dillon side plot, and how Eon's disability was handled. But otherwise, wow, I read those books so quickly and just ATE THEM UP.

The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove | Goodreads
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Published by: Viking

You can read my review of The Glass Sentence (book 1) here. You can also read my discussion of Sophia (main character) as a great heroine to follow.

I'm reading this along with Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I've stopped at around page 85. If you haven't read book 1, The Glass Sentence, it's based on the premise of The Great Disruption, a worldwide event that slid the different continents into different ages. We're following Sophia, who lives in New Occident (sort of New England) in the nineteenth century with her explorer uncle, Shadrack, because her parents went on an expedition and never return. Shadrack is kidnapped in The Glass Sentence, and Sophia goes searching after him. In The Golden Specific, Sophia is searching for her parents.

First off, just as Eon had AWESOME world-building and definitely fulfilled the Cultural Iceberg premise, so does The Glass Sentence/The Golden Specific world. SO MANY INVENTIVE DETAILS. For instance, S.E. Grove has created this religion called Nihilimanism (sp.?). Believers think that the world which Sophia and co. live in is the Age of Delusion, and they are trying to restore the Age of Verity, the time from before The Great Disruption. So much love for that creation. In general, I love Grove's discussion of different religions and different ways in which people cope with this HUGE event, and I love how she develops the cultures of each individual place.

I love the characters. Sophia is this wonderful, determined heroine who is often left by herself because the adults around her are dealing with other things or have to work late nights (in The Golden Specific, the latter is true). It actually feels realistic - it's not parents being neglectful, more that jobs can be really demanding and sometimes there isn't time for the kids. So Sophia is forced to be resourceful. The character relationships established from The Glass Sentence are really getting developed in this second book, and the inventive details also apply to the characters. For instance, there's this fixation on a potential villain as having REALLY WHITE TEETH. Has anyone ever seen the episode in Friends with Ross and his white teeth? It's this small detail, yet it's also again something that I think a lot of people would relate to. Teeth can totally creep people out. I don't even know the full details behind the teeth at page 85, and I'm creeped out.

In short, The Golden Specific is promising to be every bit as awesome as its predecessor, The Golden Sentence.

What are you all currently reading? Have you read either of these books? Would love to discuss!

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