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review 2018-12-10 18:45
THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY by John Hornor Jacobs
The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky: A Novella of Cosmic Horror - John Hornor Jacobs

 

"Misery is a condition that we are all promised."

 

THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY is a beautifully written novella with rich, layered characters and an unfamiliar landscape.

 

Two ex-pats develop a friendship between them. Isabel, an educator and Avendano, a poet, have both escaped a political coup in their home country of (the fictional) Magera. As their friendship deepens, Isabel learns more about Avendano's reputation and his past. When he asks her to watch his apartment so that he may return to Magera, she does so willingly. While so doing, she reads a few of the manuscripts he left behind. It's in these manuscripts that the true horror lies. Will Avendano ever return home? If he does will he find Isabel there waiting for him? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

I loved this book and that's mostly because the characters of Avendano and Isabel are so deep and well drawn. I did not expect to develop such complicated feelings for characters in "A Novella of Cosmic Horror." But develop them I did-especially for Avendano. I disliked him quite a bit when the story began, but I empathized with what he went through later, (or actually, before), and my feelings for him changed dramatically.

 

Whenever I see or hear the term "cosmic horror" lately, I find myself thinking of tentacles. But cosmic horror runs much deeper than that, and in this book it plays a small but certainly disturbing part of the narrative. When the miasma becomes so thick you can almost cut through it, watch out. There are things in that stinking fog, things existing just beyond the limits our visibility, but all too alive just the same.

 

The real horrors here are executed by humans and they make tentacles and Cthulhu look downright silly. It's easy to overlook coups in other countries, easy to overlook the human rights violations and the often abominable acts. We don't seem them on our daily news, so to us they seem foreign and distant. But for the people living under military rule or the rule of dictators or religious leaders? They see these horrors every day and sadly, they are now just part of life. When anyone dares to look more closely, like Avendano for instance, who knows what horrors will befall them as a result? They may take the form of torture, they may take the form of torturing those you love, they can even make you torture yourself, and that's the worst torture of all. 

 

"The pain becomes an offering and sacrifice becomes a beacon."

 

 

 

A beacon to what? That is the question.

 

I've tried hard to impart to you the gravity as well as the beauty hidden behind that oh so lovely cover. I've tried to do it without spoiling anything, but I'm not sure I've succeeded. The writing is sublime and I got lost a few times, just ruminating on the beauty of the language. That doesn't happen often these days, but it happened several times within the pages of this beautiful, scary, depressing, lovely novella and for that reason I highly recommend this book.

 

Get your copy here: THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY

 

*I received a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* 

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review 2018-12-09 06:39
rising from the ashes
Riding Towards Shadows - Nellie Merthe Erkenbach

Riding Towards Shadows really impressed me more than most books I've read in recent months.

A self-discovery novel that exudes strength and vulnerability at the same time, is personal and also help (almost instructions) for women in a similar situation. Nellie Merthe Erkenbach takes us on her journey through the pain of loss, a journey into her past, which she undertakes to heal in the present.

The Glasgow of the 1990s is an unknown world but opens up through Erkenbach’s vivid descriptions and flashbacks.

Riding Towards Shadows is a "road movie" and that's why the vehicle plays a special role; her motorcycle, a Harley-Davidson Sportster, is almost mythical, a symbol of masculinity that helps this woman to emancipate from male stereotypes. The actual journey thus becomes an inner development, a maturing process.

Because these are real people, some characters remain a little unclear but this gives the story a certain kick.

Riding Towards Shadows is suffering from love lost and growing through dealing with the pain, it is not a humorous book but one that stays with the reader for a long time after the last page is turned.  

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text 2018-12-02 13:18
AVR Weekly News ~ 270th Edition

AVR Weekly News ~ 270th Edition

The one where we lose a beloved pet.

 

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2018/12/avr-weekly-news-270th-edition.html
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review 2018-10-25 14:56
Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir - Tom Hart 
Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir - Tom Hart

So apparently I'm on a sequential art jag: graphic novels and memoirs and history. There's no way a memoir about the time just after the inexplicable death of his very young daughter can not be heartbreaking, but that's certainly not the main emotion I felt on reading this. Of course I felt so sorry for the author and his wife, and a little terrified at the possibility of one of my own children dying, but also something else. Undefinable. It's such a vivid and concrete telling of a few short weeks of the worst kind of grief, and although my own experiences haven't resembled his at all, still, I empathized with every moment. Probably every parent thinks "how does one go on after losing a child?" Tom's particular path, although shared with his wife, is still only his. But it gives an example of how one gets through such a terrible grief.

 

So vivid, and so personal, but he doesn't dwell on the death itself, so I didn't cry until the very end, reading the long list of names of people who helped him through that awful time. I am always moved by the kindness of others.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-10-20 17:43
Raw, unfiltered, and achingly honest
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi,Abraham Verghese

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a posthumous memoir/biography from a man who was both in the prime of his life and the beginning of what promised to be an illustrious career as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist. The terminal lung cancer which was already making its way through his spinal column wasn't part of the plan...and yet Paul chose to meet this challenge head-on as a way to understand and learn how the inevitability of death can be explored by those shepherding the way. How does the mind and brain (seen as two separate entities here) play a role in this? He first approached this topic through the lens of literature which he had always been interested in (hence the beginning of the book which would eventually be published after his death) but he then moved on to his direct experience as a doctor and then as a patient. Paul was interested in the bigger picture of what exactly death means and he kept trying to parse it out by asking, "Where did biology, morality, literature, and philosophy intersect?" (pg 41). He didn't shy away from the ugly underbelly of cancer treatment and how it's seen from both a medical professional's standpoint (best practices, proven remedies, etc) and the one receiving the care (uncertainty, despair, anger, and frustration to name a few). Facing mortality and asking the tough questions are the overarching themes of When Breath Becomes Air but this is also a quiet story about a man coming to terms with the fact his life was about to end. I don't want to give away all of the details because I really think you should read this one if you never read another book about death (although why stop here?). I didn't know if I'd be able to continue it at several points (there were tears) because it mirrors so much of what my dear friend, Jessica, went through during her battle with cancer. But I am happy that I persevered. 10/10

 

This quote blew my mind because I feel I'm constantly justifying to people why I do the work that I do even though some of it doesn't compensate me at all (the blog) and the one that does is probably never going to make me financially solvent (children's librarian). Looking at the bigger picture is hard if you are cutting out the crucial bits like death which comes for us all.

Indeed, this is how 99 percent of people select their jobs: pay, work, environment, house. But that's the point. Putting lifestyle first is how you find a job - not a calling. - pg 68-69

If I remember correctly this was a quote from Paul's wife and I think it perfectly encapsulates why this is such an important book. It's why I've read and reviewed so many books around this topic over the past year. 

Paul confronted death - examined it, wrestled with it, accepted it - as a physician and a patient. He wanted to help people understand death and face their mortality. Paul's decision not to avert his eyes from death epitomizes a fortitude we don't celebrate enough in our death-avoidant culture. - pg 215

Side note of interest (at least to me): Lucy, Paul's widow, found love again with a recently widowed father of two...who's spouse also wrote a book about her journey of dying. That book is The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs and yes it's totally going on my TRL.

 

What's Up Next: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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