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text 2018-05-24 15:44
TBR Thursday
Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd
A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge
Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
Lord Peter Views the Body - Dorothy L. Sayers
Macbeth (Hogarth Shakespeare) - Nesbo Jo

This is the clean up round, folks, just clearing the decks before I begin The Summer of Spies!

 

I'm finishing up a rather busy week, looking forward to some time on the weekend and next week to catch up on my library books.  The weather here has been lovely, inspiring me to spend an evening wandering a local park with a cousin.  And I've done a household purge, taking an enormous quantity of clothing, bedding, etc. as a donation to a charity. 

 

Still to be done:  I bought plants on the long weekend which I need to get transplanted into my balcony planters.  One of my friends gave me a lovely bunch of rhubarb and I intend to make Ginger Vanilla Stewed Rhubarb either tonight or tomorrow.  Plus all the usual household stuff that one has to attend to when one lives alone and can't delegate. 

 

I wish you all a happy weekend of reading!

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text 2018-05-17 18:44
TBR Thursday
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Alfred Birnbaum,Haruki Murakami
Lion in the Valley - Elizabeth Peters
A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress
Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd
Turn Coat - Jim Butcher
A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge

Wow, how is it Thursday again already?  I've actually felt like doing some houseworky type things this week and haven't read as much as usual.

 

So I'm circling back to read some library books that I've had out for a while:  Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Lion in the Valley, and A Curious Beginning.

 

Then, I plan to have some fun with Turn Coat.  Two more books for my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading List--Beggars in Spain and A Fire Upon the Deep.  Plus one of this year's reading challenge books, Bog Child, which is a posthumously published work.

 

On Sunday, my friend & I are going to see Much Ado About Nothing, presented by the Shakespeare Company here in Calgary.  It will be my 18th Shakespearean play.

 

We've got a long weekend coming up, with Monday being Victoria Day and finally it looks like we'll have nice weather all weekend!  A trip to the garden centre for some plants to put in my balcony pots will also be in order.

 

Happy reading, friends!

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review 2018-05-10 10:36
Golden Child by David Henry Hwang
Golden Child - David Henry Hwang

From the author of the Broadway play M. Butterfly, Golden Child travels across time and place from contemporary America to mainland China in 1918 and depicts the challenges of a culture in transition to the influences of western civilization.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This play includes a scene describing a suicide being carried out. 

 

 

Playwright David Henry Hwang grew up hearing amazing, almost mythical stories of his great grandfather's life, a life crafted by the choice to swap Confucianism for Christianity, boldly breaking with Chinese tradition when he decided to let his daughter grow up with unbound feet. Such decisions would impact future generations and came to inspire Hwang to write the play Golden Child

 

The timeline of the story alternates between a small village in Southeast China during the Winter 1918 - Spring 1919 and Manhattan in the late 1990s. The opening scene combines the two when Andrew Kwong in Manhattan, awakens with a start one night, puts on a robe and begins to take on the personality of his grandfather, Tieng-Bin. Andrew converses with Ahn, his grandmother. She appears to him as a young girl of ten but her voice is that of an elderly woman. This conversation between them eases the audience into the transition to early 20th century China, where we are soon fully immersed. 

 

In the village of Amoy, we meet the three wives of Tieng-Bin, a prosperous land owner: first wife Siu-Yong, second wife Luan, and third wife Eling. Tieng-Bin has recently returned home after a three year absence. He'd been living in the Phillipines for business and now that he is back, man and wives settle into a nice dinner where everyone gets reacquainted. The conversation starts to shift into Tieng-Bin telling of his observations in the Phillipines, mainly the growing influence of Christianity and western culture throughout the area and how that got him thinking about his own upbringing. At first he claims that he merely finds western ideas interesting, the inventions amusing --- some of these inventions he presents to his wives as gifts. First wife Siu-Yong's response to her gift, a cuckoo clock, was the best: "I'm sure it will do wonders for my insomnia." 

 

His traditional wives are suspicious, especially 2nd wife Luan, who fears that their polygamous lifestyle will soon be threatened by Tieng-Bin's experiences. Though the play does incorporate serious cultural themes, the bickering and shade-throwing between the wives ends up offering comic relief. Though Siu-Yong is one of the most entertaining of the bunch at the start of the play, later on I was disturbed by the manipulative nature of some of her conversations with her daughter, Ahn (Andrew's grandmother from the opening scene). 

In the later portions of this story, Tieng-Bin introduces his wives to Reverend Baines, a minister from England Tieng-Bin became acquainted with during his travels. The wives come to know Baines as "white devil". At first I was confused as to why Baines' lines were presented in broken English, as this play is printed in English (my reasoning being "wouldn't the characters understand each other just fine?"). There aren't really too many clues within the text regarding language barrier. Then it dawned on me that what was likely going on was that Baines was probably actually speaking in poor Chinese, so, when translated, his words would come out as oddly constructed. But I do love Baines line that says "You must not fear to speak the truth you know in your soul."

While the story comes off somewhat light-hearted in the early scenes (but mildly snarky, hinting at underlying feelings of discontent to surface later), closer to the end there is a noticeable shift toward the more serious, as discussions between the characters growing increasingly tense as they all finally address the strains they feel as, culturally, the old ways clash against the new. 

"It's not that I want to forget my family, quite the opposite. But to be Chinese -- means to feel a whole web of obligation -- obligation? --- dating back 5,000 years. I am afraid of dishonoring my ancestors, even the ones dead for centuries. All the time, I feel ghosts -- sitting on my back, whispering in my ear -- keeping me from living life as I see fit.
>> Tieng-Bin



An interesting story, but one that didn't REALLY grab me til just before the climactic end. This script may fall under the type of plays where the words alone just aren't enough and perhaps infinitely more is gained by seeing it on stage.

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review 2018-05-06 00:29
Lord of Ravens (Inheritance #3)
Lord of Ravens (Inheritance Book 3) - Amelia Faulkner

CW: Child abuse, drugs:

Laurence sees back in time to the first time Quentin's father beats him. The scene cuts out as his father is preparing to rape him. It's brought up a few times afterward, but no further details are given. :( Seeing this also causes Laurence to try to score heroin later, thankfully unsuccessfully.

(spoiler show)

 

Well, this certainly didn't go in the direction I thought it would, at least in regards to Laurence and Quentin's relationship, which is a good thing. They only deepen their relationship here, and grow more intimate with each other, and after the last two books of patience and hard work to get to this point, I was happy for the guys getting some happiness. They deserve it.

 

We do finally learn what Quentin's father did to him as a child, which is exactly what I thought it was going to be (see CW above). The reason for why he did it was more messed up than I thought it'd be though, and I'm dreading when Quentin remembers or finds out. He's getting stronger and more sure of himself all the time, but his father has a way of reducing him to a scared little kid again.

 

We get to see Neil again, and he's a riot as always, and I love that he just accepts Quentin and clearly understands him as well as Laurence has come to. I wish we'd seen more of Ethan, Aiden and Maryam, but the story didn't allow much time for that, what with the introduction of Amy and Rufus - and we don't even really get a whole lot of time either, but what we do get looks promising.

 

In a book titled Lord of Ravens, I was expecting ravens to be a little more prominent and important to the central plot but that didn't really happen. Instead, Laurence gets a baby raven that he has to raise, and as with babies everywhere it does nothing but eat and poop the whole story.

 

I feel like this book was just a little disjointed, or more accurately that it served more as a bridge to the next book. There is a beginning, middle and end, but the main conflict is still ongoing, so nothing really feels resolved. I do like that Laurence and Quentin actually communicate with each other (though there is a brief Big Misunderstanding), and that real life considerations are taken into account when weird mystical things happen.

 

And lastly, I suppose it had to happen eventually: the geography fail. :P
-No matter what time of the year it is, the sun never sets as early as 4 PM or as late as 9 PM in San Diego. It certainly would never be setting at 4 and fully set after 9. Most people I know wouldn't say the sun is setting until it's within a half-hour of the sundown. (There are websites that'll give you sunset/sunrise times for any location on any date you could wish to know about.)
-Americans don't use meters to measure distance (unless they're scientists). We use feet and yards. Dating a Brit isn't going to change that.

 

There were also more typos in this one than I recall in the previous installments. The most distracting one was the constant use of "noone" instead of "no one." Hopefully this doesn't remain an issue going forward.

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review 2018-04-30 03:46
A ghostly whodunit with love and magic.
The Spirit Child - Kathryn M. Hearst

This was a very interesting read, and I always enjoy a good ghost story. I loved Tessa and her acceptance of her abilities. The story behind the main story is an ongoing one, and it intrigued me enough that I plan on checking out the two books before this and will watch for the next one. The men and family surrounding Tessa are also worth reading this story.

I received a copy of this story as a gift, and this is my unsolicited review.

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