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text 2018-06-22 13:50
Going to take another break from non-fiction
Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) - Paul Kincaid

This is good, and the excerpt is only 29 pages long, but I want to feel that I'm finishing a book.   The medicine I'm has depression listed as a side-effect, which means I need to feel productive to bolster my self-esteem. 

 

So I'll be working on the next category: graphic novels, yay!

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review 2018-05-14 18:43
The State of the Art / Iain M. Banks
The State of the Art - Iain M. Banks

The first ever collection of Iain Banks' short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast. The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks' staggering talent.

 

A selection of short fiction set in the Culture universe, where your tools and equipment have opinions too and can talk back to you. My own tendency to talk to my surroundings would definitely have to change.

I really wanted to like the story where the Culture visits Earth. Is it still a first contact story if the Earth doesn’t know it’s been contacted? A bit on the preachy side, obviously written when Banks was annoyed with our treatment of our environment and each other, but acknowledging that we’ve got something special here. I liked it without have my socks blown off.

Banks is such a good writer, but not all of these stories demonstrate his best efforts. It does rather feel like a catch-all, displaying varying degrees of polish. Still, well worth reading for fans of the Culture!

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review 2018-05-14 03:01
Forged in Steele
Forged in Steele - Maya Banks

Steele, like Rio, was a character whose story I really wanted to read and I looked forward to it. But, like Rio's, I was disappointed. For the "Iceman" I didn't buy it. He's an asshole one moment, then incredibly sappy another. I got whiplash. What woman wants to be called an "idiot?" Really? Surly there could have been a better middle ground for Steele's sappiness. 
Maren, I liked. She's got a career. She's competent. I didn't care for a certain trope. Then, let's give her a psycho admirer and get her kidnapped! And have to be rescued. *Sigh*
The final, eye-roll came towards the end. Someone is CRITICALLY injured and bleeding out, but let's check the MEDICALLY STABLE pregnant woman to make sure she is not having a miscarriage. 
I was set to give this a 2. But, then, Steele was willing to put Maren and her career before his own, move anywhere she wanted, and, if needed or necessary, give up his career at KGI. While that didn't make my issues or disappointment with this book go away, if softened it a bit. So, a generous 3. 
I do think I'm done with this series.

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text 2018-05-10 21:34
TBR Thursday
The Country Girls - Edna O'Brien
Beneath the Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire
The Borrower - Rebecca Makkai
Honor Among Thieves - Ann Aguirre,Rachel Caine
The State of the Art - Iain M. Banks
A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn

Such a good selection of books from my library!

 

I will finish A Plague of Giants this evening and I'll continue to have Robots Vs. Fairies as my coffee break book.  Then its time to get started on this selection.

 

I have tomorrow off work--tomorrow is also the beginning of the Calgary Reads Big Book Sale.  I plan to be there when the doors open at 9 a.m. with my wishlist in hand to have first pick.  Photos for Monday!!

 

Also planning to see a performance of Julius Caesar with my Shakespeare buddy on Saturday evening.

 

Have a wonderful weekend, my BL friends.

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review 2018-05-07 11:16
Love Him Anyway (memoir) by Abby Banks
Love Him Anyway - Abby Banks

One night can change everything. Abby Banks put her healthy, happy infant son to sleep, but when she awoke the next morning, she felt as though she was living a nightmare. Her son, Wyatt, was paralyzed. There was no fall, no accident, no warning. A rare autoimmune disease attacked his spinal cord, and there was no cure. In an instant, all her hopes and dreams for him were wiped away. The life she envisioned for her family was gone, and she was frozen by the fear of a future she never imagined. As she struggled to come to grips with her son's devastating diagnosis and difficult rehabilitation, she found true hope in making a simple choice, a choice to love anyway-to love her son, the life she did not plan, and the God of hope, who is faithful even when the healing does not come. In Love Him Anyway, Abby shares her family's journey from heartbreak to triumph and reminds us that hope and joy can be found in life's hardest places.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

In this Christian-based, medical themed memoir, author Abby Banks writes of the years she and her husband spent praying and pushing through infertility struggles, eventually having two children via invitro methods. So when pregnancy #3 came along by natural means, the couple felt both shocked and blessed. Some months after their son, Wyatt, was born, the Banks put him to bed one night only to find the shock of their lives the next morning. Overnight, Wyatt seemed to have developed noticeable, unnatural mobility issues. Rushing him to the hospital, the first doctor brushed off the child's condition as a matter of "simply fatigue and dehydration". 

 

Feeling unsettled with this diagnosis, the Bankses pursue a second opinion. In comes a veteran nurse who, with a quick visual examination, dismisses the "simply dehydration" opinion and calls for further tests. Good thing, because a second doctor brings the truth out: Wyatt (still an infant, remember) had developed paralysis due to a rare autoimmune disease attacking his spinal column. To add to the strain of this moment, Abby Banks was receiving this news during the time she herself was being treated for thyroid cancer!

 

Now, when I first looked at this book -- took in the synopsis, considered the title -- I was a little confused and disturbed. My mind was thinking, "well, YEAH, should be kind of a given that any decent human would love their child no matter what... so what's with the title? Is this one of those stories where I'm expected to applaud someone for them doing what they should do naturally?" I realize that may come off harsh, but I'm an honest reviewer, one that has to make note of whatever rings odd or confusing in my mind as I'm reading so that I can hopefully make sense of it further on in the book... so, yes, these kind of thoughts / questions run through my mind as I'm mentally making notes to later work into a review. Let me just state now then, that my confusion on this matter was quickly cleared up over a few different points.

 

Firstly, I gather that the idea for the title came from a moment shortly after Abby and her husband are given the news that Wyatt would likely only have about a 33% chance of recovery from his condition, so the odds were high that he would remain wheelchair-dependent for much, if not all, of his life. When Abby and Jason try to explain to Wyatt's siblings, their elder son, Jay, responds, "We're just going to love him anyway." Abby shares her own reflections on their new reality with these words:

 

"I could drown myself in a sea of anger because life hasn't turned out the way I planned, but I know that life is a gift, and I want to fight to make ours amazing, no matter what it looks like... I cried for Wyatt and for the innocence and wisdom in Jay's precious answer. He was right. When we don't know what to do next and are crippled by fear, we love. We love until the fear is gone. When we can find no answers and can't make sense of the situations in our life, we love. Love will always be the right answer. When our faith is weak and hope is hard to find, love will carry us through."

 

Banks emphasises throughout the whole book that throughout this challenging journey, she wants to always strive to find purpose in the pain. Optimism and humor are a noticeable constant within Abby & Jason's story, which you have to admire, considering the horrifically bad luck this family has been put through! But that pursuit of the joyful seems to have been been passed on to Wyatt, as numerous times throughout this memoir Abby notes her son wearing a beaming smile throughout a slew of procedures, treatments and grim diagnoses.

 

Our nurse told us that it looked like an episode of House. The doctors and residents were searching for answers in books and running through every possibility, but they couldn't find an answer. Nothing made sense. Why would a seven-month-old simply stop moving? He was healthy. There was no fever, and he was still smiling. 

 

One aspect of this book that didn't sit quite right with me: Abby's obsession with her social media appearance -- multiple references to her consuming disappointment (to the point of being driven to tears) of not being able to create Pinterest / Instagram worthy parties, posting video of Wyatt's physical therapy on a local news channel's FB page, hoping it will get the most likes so their story can be featured on the news broadcast on tv.... these sorts of things were distracting me from the main focus of this book. I also didn't entirely agree with her stance on teaching her children that "feelings are not truth and feelings would fail them." In some cases maybe, but it's hardly a universal truth. In some life situations, it proves beneficial to choose your wild spirit, instinctual heart over your logical mind. 

 

That bit said, let me close on a strong positive note. Banks does have some quite empowering lines throughout her story here, one being: "God may not have moved the mountain but he moved me." In the closing chapters especially, Banks leaves the reader with some great, inspiring words. One of my favorites came from the chapter "What God Has Joined" where she focuses on how her marriage has transformed over the years, particularly with the challenges of Wyatt's condition. At one point, she writes, "I don't like the fire, but I like what it turns me into." Empowering words to plant into the hearts of all readers! 

 

FTC Disclaimer:  Blue Ridge CWC and Ambassador International kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

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