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text 2018-04-07 23:58
Wanted: A Speaker for the Dead
Speaker for the Dead - Orson Scott Card

As my husband drove me to work the Monday after his father died, I said, “I wish we had a Speaker for the Dead for your dad.”

 

He said, “I was thinking the exact same thing.”

 

In Orson Scott Card’s novel of the same name, the second in the Ender’s saga, a Speaker for the Dead is a person whose job is to carefully, compassionately, and objectively examine the life of someone who has passed away, reconstructing an honest picture of the deceased that is shared at the funeral. The Speaker is a professional and an outsider, not someone who knew the deceased in life. The idea is that the Speaker may be able to find beauty and meaning in ways that those closest to the dead may not be able to and to find compassion even for those who may not have led exemplary lives. [As a side note, Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead would have his work cut out for him attempting to make sense of OSC’s early fiction’s messages of inclusivity and his later vitriol against the GLBT community, which is explored thoughtfully by the fine gentlemen of Overdue if you’re interested in hearing more.]

 

It’s been over 10 years since I read Speaker, so I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but what I do remember is that in the book Ender had to wrestle to find compassion and meaning in the life of a man that, to most of the world, looked like an abusive no-account.

 

As we reflected on my father-in-law’s life, collecting stories for the minister and for the obituary, I longed for someone who could make sense of a complicated life that had ended, and the complicated ripples that remained in the lives of his children, his siblings, and the others who were close to him.

 

Following an unspoken rule that we do not speak ill of the dead, his children shared stories and happy memories of their father’s hard work, compassion, generous nature, sense of humor, and resourcefulness. Choosing “The Good Samaritan” as the Gospel reading for the funeral, they talked about how he could never turn away anyone who needed help, often allowing people who were down on their luck to live in his home when they might have ended up on the street otherwise. After one glowing story from his daughter, his ex-wife commented, “I don’t remember your father that way, but I’m glad that you do.”

 

And therein lies the truth, that a single man can be so many different things to different people, and so many different things even to one person. Every beautiful story and memory told about him was true. But what was also true was the unspoken or the tactfully avoided, the vices that were no small part of the man’s life, that in fact loomed large enough to cost him his long marriage to a good woman and the mother of his children.

 

How nice if someone else could come in and make sense of it all.

 

But while our shared literary reference provided us some comfort and a shorthand language in which to communicate about my father-in-law’s life and death in the midst of a hellish, heartbreaking week, we knew that no Speaker was available to take this burden from his family’s shoulders.

 

At a meeting with our pastor, my husband talked openly about some of his father’s shortcomings. The pastor said diplomatically, “I won’t mention any of that.”

 

The beauty of a Speaker for the Dead, though, is that he WOULD have mentioned that, the good and the bad, and somehow made it all okay, all beautiful, all a piece of one rich and complex and completed life.

 

After the eulogy, the pastor invited those gathered to share stories about my husband’s father. Not surprisingly, a case of Midwestern shyness kept a room full of burialboisterous, story-rich family and friends silent.

 

The pastor pressed on. “One word to describe him,” he suggested.

 

“Hardworking,” my husband said.

 

“Generous,” said someone else.

 

“Determined,” said another.

 

A smattering of complimentary adjectives and agreements followed, until his sister blurted out, “Ornery!” Amidst the knowing laughter, his daughter muttered, “Stubborn.”

 

The pastor said, “Ah, now the truth comes out!”

 

Of course, the truth was in the hearts of those gathered all along. And while no one person alone could find a way to articulate the sometimes muddled tapestry that had been the man’s life the way that a Speaker for the Dead might have done, a room full of those who loved and knew him best turned out to be pretty adequate Speakers after all.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-03 11:30
Reading Anniversaries: First in a Series & Singles–January Edition

 

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on March 3, 2018.

 

2012

 

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The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

 

I don't much remember what went on in this book, except there being a plot to replace the Queen with an automaton clone. Must have made an impression on me because I rated it 4 stars on GR. Oh, and the covers in the series are beautiful! I recently and reviewed the second book in this series.

 

 

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Must Love Hellhounds by Various Authors

 

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GR tells me that I loved most of the stories from this anthology. Must have been a good collection. I remember trying it out because it also included a story by Ilona Andrews -- a favorite author couple of mine.

 

 

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Frostbite by David Wellington

 

If you don't yet know that an awesome vampire series by David Wellington's exists, then you haven't been paying attention. Like the Laura Caxton series, this one is creepy AF. My GR review tells me I recommend it to:

 

                         people who like werewolves without the romance and cheesiness

 

I loved it and I don't even like horror much! Here, let my gushing adoration convince you that you need to try Wellington's books.

 

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Stray by Rachel Vincent

 

When I first read it, one of the most annoying things about this series was its heroine. She was a whiny, selfish brat who didn't care about the consequences of her action. One of the best things about it, as I continued to plod along, is how she changed! By the end of the series, the events have transformed her into the alpha her father always knew her to be. If that doesn't float your boat, maybe stay for all the violence and the gore? Oh, and did I mention that the series is complete? You can binge read it!

 

 

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The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

 

Maybe I have a soft spot for tortured, lonely werewolves or maybe it's something else. Either way, I just completed this series. While the first had impressed me, the second and third fell short. All I'm saying is that even with the cliffhanger at the end of the first one, it can easily be read as a standalone.

 

2013

 

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Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

 

I have had much to say about the second book in this series on this blog. All good things, I promise. Therefore, it won't come as a surprise that I loved the first one, as well! The ending blew me away even when I have become so jaded about last-minute twists that change everything. Check this one out!

 

 

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He was a Hero, He Shouldn't have Died by Kenneth Mugi

 

If you asked me to describe this book in a word, I'd probably say weird. But wait, this is what I said in my review:

 

I got this book for free, in exchange for an honest review from Making Connections. Get your copy here.

 

This book is very different from the plethora of Paranormal novels out there- it turns the idea of Dorian Gray’s picture on its head.

 

What I really liked about it was that the touch of fantasy/paranormal elements didn’t overwhelm Kasumi’s story.

Another thing to like was that if the new edited version had any errors, I couldn’t find them.

 

There is enough humor to balance the darkness in the story.

 

I would have liked to see more of Morgan but watching Kasumi grow into her powers would be exciting too.

 

Hoping that there are some fight scenes in the next book!

 

This book isn’t for everybody but if you’d like to read something unique, give this one a whirl.

 

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The Gods Among Us by D.C. Belton

An old read, an old review:

 

The author was kind enough to give me a free review copy.

You know those books that you just don't wanna put down? Not because there's something exciting happening in the story or it is a good story...not only that but mostly because the writing flows and the story is being told so smoothly that you just read on and on. This book was such a book.

 

The parts I loved the most began when Pallas is aboard the ship and meets the crew. Their humor, lightheartedness and loyalty towards each other made them lovable.

I also liked that we're set up to hate Elena in the beginning of the story but we find out she has more depth and understands political intrigue much better than her younger sisters give her credit for.

 

Othello, I feared and hated just like I was supposed to. Even when I laughed at his antics, I wasn't less creeped out by him!

 

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About the gods and their machinations: a) I'm not yet sure if they're actually deities and not humans who know what opposable thumbs are, b) they just don't care whose life they ruin, do they? Even Pallas who claims not to believe in gods & goddesses can't escape their schemes!

 

Pallas keeps mentioning how her father must miss her and I couldn't shake the feeling that there's something wrong there. Poor Pallas!

 

What would have made the book even better was a little more world building, maybe? Or a map, so we could understand what this world is like even better.

 

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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Lovely, fun at times and sad at other times, quirky as heck read. I liked it, maybe you would too?

 

Well, those were my faves from the past years. You can also find reviews of books from 2018 that stuck with me. 

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text 2017-08-07 07:36
Book Booty, August 2017

 

So, a visit to Kitabain brought me these beauties. Let’s look at them all:

 

I am slowly collecting my way through the Discworld novels. Sadly, I still have a ways to go. Anyway, planning to get back to this series as soon as I find the second book.

 

 

This hardcover edition is beautiful and contains many of the short stories written by Poe. The cover shows an orangutan from a murder mystery. A good addition to my collection, won’t you say so?

 

 

 

Part of the Ender’s Quintet and the very book that I needed to read next in this series. Can’t wait to get started.

 

Read my review of the Speaker for the Dead book here.

 

 

 

 

 

The unassuming cover opens into a most amazing book. You will find Victor Frankenstein’s experiments that led to the creation of his monster spawn. The book has illustrations, photographs, and log entries that give it an authenticity.

 

For my ongoing love affair with all things Frankenstein, you might wanna check out Project Frankenstein.

 

I think this is a good haul. How about you?

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-08-02 08:17
July 2017 — A Wrap-Up

 

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As much fun as only Douglas Adams books can be. Although, it might also be due to my technique that I apply when reading books by DA. I space them out, which keeps the jokes and randomness from being repetitive and not-random!

 

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I won this in a giveaway. Read my review here.

 

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Okay, so this was different and seemed a bit incomplete at the end but I still liked it. Something that stuck with me was the concept that while the people were free as a nation, it meant compromising their individual freedom. What does that even mean?

 

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Here is a scene that stayed with me:

 

 

 

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This was cute and fun. I will continue with the series to see if it is more than just cute and fun though. Two examples to give you an idea of what the art looks like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trying this one out for size. Still not impressed though. Just wanted to leave this here; it shows a new level of racism, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

This was for a buddy read over at Booklikes. I won’t say the book wasn’t a fun read, however, it was quite light on science. The humor the depth of observations were the usual Scalzi standard.

 

I just realized this was the beginning of a whole new series with quite a few books in it. While I liked the book, I didn’t love it. Lets see if I feel like reading the next one.

The funny thing is that this book will be the first entry in my Twinsies — Books that Go Together series of blog posts!

 

Two words that I loved:

 

 

Image

 

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This was okayish. I thought that the author was trying to make up for all the complaints that the readers make about Dresden being sexist. It didn’t work for me though. The story was weak but I did like the art. No idea why I like the code of “honor” that Macone plays by but I do!

 

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I have no idea why I read this. Maybe I only read it because I had it. Whatever the reason, I didn’t like it just as I didn’t like the movie. This was a sequel in comic form but it had nothing new to hold my attention. Two supernatural species fighting each other with humans caught in the middle. Sound familiar? It did to me too! The art was okay-ish while there was no story.

 

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Find my review here.

 

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This one was also a Bingo read for the extremely slow round of Book Bingo that we are playing at work! About the book, it isn’t that I didn’t know what went on in Afghanistan. It was nice to be able to know the exact stats for what went down there.

 

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You can find my review here.

 

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I tried Lumberjanes and didn’t like it but when I saw this was going to be a crossover with Gotham Academy (which I mostly like), I decided to give it another try. I am glad I did because it was a whole lotta fun! I love how the characters seem more human and less comic-y because of the way they are drawn. They don’t all look as if they have stepped off magazine covers. Now I just have to give Lumberjanes another chance to wow me!

 

 

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review 2017-07-18 00:00
Ender's Game
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card Re-Reading this as it's our Coolthulu Reads Book of the Month for dicussion on July 19th!

And, as usual, I take away something new from it. Love this book.
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Okay, to start with, I read this book ages ago, and absolutely loved it. But I just recently re-read it so that I could give a fresh review on it. Good news? Its just as awesome on the re-read as it was the first time through.

So, Andrew (Ender) Wiggin is this little boy that was basically bred to be a savior. “They” had tried two times before him, and one was too hard, one was too soft… Ender, like the littlest bear in Goldilocks, was ‘just right’. Oh my god, they (the Battle School people) were so horrible to this little boy, who was taken into the school at 6 years old. So horrible, and they knew it and they did it anyways for the ‘greater good’ because they knew this kid had a chance of kicking ass. It was abuse and neglect, what they did to him. Flat out.

Ender, in perhaps a strong argument for nature over nurture, does not do what you would expect other little kids to do. He doesn’t cry, beg, etc. No, he grits his teeth and deals with it. Now, in most other books, I’d be sitting back and going “Nope. Nu-uh. Not believable. He’s six.” I HAVE a six year old and I can tell you definitively that if anyone did half this crap to her, she’d be a blubbering mess. However, OSC writes it so well that you buy it. He sells it, and you buy it without even blinking. THAT is the mark of a freaking awesome writer who knows exactly what he’s doing.

Ender perseveres. Even when it seems like the whole bloody world is against him, he not only keeps going forward, but he kicks ass while doing it. The book quickly takes you from just being interested in a cool looking science fiction novel to rooting with all your mind and heart for this little boy to keep kicking ass. You become so invested in this character, in what his life becomes, that each of his victories make you glow, and the hardest points in his life… make you admire him. Ender Wiggin is not a character that wants or needs pity. He’s a survivor in a way so many of us only wish we were.

He will not be broken. Even when he wants to break.

Also, this book holds up amazingly well! Some science fiction books date themselves horribly. Ender’s Game, which was first published in 1985, does not. It really is a timeless read. The very definition of a classic science-fiction novel. I think its because OSC doesn’t overwhelm you with details. He keeps everything fairly simple, and only tells you the stuff that you need to know as it pertains to Ender’s Situation.

Ender’s Game is a book that every single person who considers themselves a science fiction fan needs to read. Period.

For this and other science fiction, horror, and thriller reviews, please visit Scifi and Scary's Book Reviews
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