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review 2017-04-23 03:02
Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul - Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Although I am not (officially) a Catholic, I have always been impressed how Catholicism embraces the feminine. This may sound odd, considering the way the boys in the Vatican treat women, but I don't think it is. There is something older, wilder, more female and, dare I say, more deeply attuned to Spirit than the rules, regulations, glitter and power of Vatican city. Many of the nuns I've met get this.

Estes brings this older, darker, more vibrant female to the fore, and she does it with great respect to the goddess who those of us who feel at home with more earth-borne and yup, pagan, roots can identify with. Did not the Lady of Guadalupe appear on a site sacred to the Indigenous people of Mexico? She did. Not, I contend, to displace her, but to assure those who believed in her that a simple change of name really changes nothing. She is still here, among us.

That's an experience I've had at a number of Christian sites in France and Wales; sites built upon much older sacred sites. The power of the sacred transcends shifts in religious fashion.

So, all this to say that Estes works hard in this book to reconnect us to that timeless and powerful female energy and she does a hell of a job, incorporating stories, poems, prayers, visual art and song to draw us in.

If this sort of thing interests you I urge you to put aside any prejudices you may have (and we all do) and take a wander. I think you'll enjoy it, and it will enrich you.

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video 2015-06-26 16:03

Publisher Karl Beckstrand on new thriller: To Swallow the Earth, an Adventure 108 years in the making!

A man and a woman, each searching for missing family members, clash amid a Nevada silver rush scheme that leaves both unsure who to trust--and scrambling to stay alive.

"A wonderful story of adventure, grit and survival. Karl’s done an amazing job of beautifully illustrating this story through his words. I highly recommend it!" - Lindsay Condie

Source: www.amazon.com/Swallow-Earth-Ransom-Wilcox/dp/0692407979/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435330866&sr=8-1&keywords=karl+beckstrand
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-02-11 02:20
Orbit, the Ways I Love Thee
American Elsewhere - Robert Jackson Bennett
“Oh, propriety,” says Mrs Benjamin. “We’re always so concerned with propriety. Even in total madness, we still stick to our hierarchies and chains of command.”
 
This one feels like if the Fallout game series was written by someone whose idea of fun is to write urban Clthulu-esque horror/science fiction.   I want to devour it, marry it, and make it my book husband, right alongside John Dies @ the End.  I want them to be my sisterwife-husbands.
 
This is an amazing work of almost unparalleled excellence, and I am shocked that I had to find this one on my own.  Guys!  There needs to be something for people to know that this one is one of the best that the bizarre genre has to offer.  Count on Orbit, the publisher, to distribute yet another piece of genius written by a relative unknown that, BOOM, blows other things out of the water like everyone else is writing goddamned candy grams on starburst wrappers.
 
Our main character is Mona, an older, bad-ass woman (yay!) who used to be a police officer and married.  She... is no longer on both counts.  Oh, she also has a grudge against her deceased father and she unequivocally dislikes the hell out of him.
 
She reminds me of Cybil Bennett and I want her gun and intimidation skills now.  Hey - maybe the author's ACTUALLY Cybil Bennett?  ..C'mon, can't a girl dream?
 
It is common, but oft-misunderstood that she settled for Harry's bitch-ass. Girl please, Cybil was FAR too fly to settle down with someone whose gun skills were so... poorly.
 
Mona discovers that she has to reach a town that is supposedly non-existent on every map ever made, and must decide if she wants to stay and live there, all ready for discovering her late-mother's roots and if she can move on from her own personal strifes.  Little does she know that Lovecraft got a hold of the script that is her life and wrote some... interesting additions to her simple plan. 
 
Wink, the town in question, seems like(since we're talking about Fallout here) the black-and-white level that looks like a Leave it to Beaver episode gone fucky.  And we all know where THAT goes.
 
Meanwhile, some people who run a drug ring are encountering some real issues with the podunk desert town that they get their supply from - the odd rituals that they have to do in order to get the okay from their mysterious supplier are causing more and more of a strain on the men and women associated with the drug trafficking.  When something catastrophic occurs, they are forced to wonder if all of the insanity is really worth that sweet, sweet, easy money.
 
This is all really just touching the top layer to the weirdness.
 
So, what's REALLY going on here?
 
S-s-s-spoiillerrsss:

 

Yeah, Mona had a family that she didn't even know about - turns out Mona's mom was an Elder God from another realm of reality.  Kind of a real bummer for her. 

 

So, yeah, remember how I was bringing Lovecraft into this?  I wasn't fucking joking.

 

 

Even for an Elder God, Mona's mom was, incidentally, a complete douche-canoe, an eerily realized narcissist who had many children - all of which she dragged from their homeworld when she got restless, destroyed the joint, then abandoned them in Wink like a true party-girl.  She promised them that she would return one day and planned to never do just that, up and until she could move onto the next big thrill.  Turns out, the one thing she cannot stand is same-ness, so she destroyed a lot of shit in the past and lied to her children about it.

 

Oh, and her children are, just like her, nightmarish, writing worm-monsters that inhabit the bodies of hosts - people in Wink.  You following me on this?  There WILL be a test, that I can assure you of.

 

Here's your teacher!  He looks like the trust-worthy type!

The "children" all reside in some form in the town of Wink, all shades compared to the horror-enducing real form of "Mother" - a giant fucking abomination that is, incidentally, the kaiju-looking-motherfucker that emerged from the abandoned science laboratory of Wink.  And then there's the son that she thought that she had left to die back in their homeworld.  He... REALLY loves Mother, and has more power than her, and the only thing keeping him in check?  A disturbing area that he's kept in that is not unlike the sort of a shindig that the SCP gents could come up with.  It is with his stolen power that his siblings can be murdered, which they are.

 

Mother issues is the secret ingredient holding this cake together, and, boy, is it a sickly delicious one.  Mother was going to take them somewhere else, and someone got sick of waiting for Mother to come back.

 

Mona, it turns out, is the youngest sibling, for the simple fact that her mother, the strangely haunted woman who committed suicide when she was a kid, was actually Mother in human skin.   This monster decided to try on the skin of one of the scientists at the abandoned lab and rode it all the way into a marriage with Mona's douche-canoe father and then got bored. 

 

This brings us to: Mona.  Perpetual outsider, meant to take the bitch down a peg or two.  Cue different dimensions, gun fighting and detective work - interacting with her bizarre siblings and meeting the poor, poor people who (unintentionally) live with the fucking things.   Oh, those poor people - the end of the book is sort of like a Slayer/Dethklok music video, and they're the blood in the raining blood.

 

Anyway, we also get to meet one of my favorite omnipotent gods of all time, Mr. First.  Mr. First has a weakness for a cute girl who works at the diner and he also has a weakness for being Gene Kelly - therefore, quite the flair for the dramatic.

 

Really, Bennett, I can only want to date a fictional god-monster SO much before I become an actual Nightmarekin for him.

 

 

If this does not get turned into a movie somewhere down the line, then I lose all faith in this dimension's people.  I really mean it this time.

(spoiler show)

 

 

I mean, the cover looks... well...
 
It's sort of just dumb and ugly.  I think it's, ah, growing on me, but it looks stoopid, if I can be clear.  In spite of that, just buy this one if you're a fan of the strange.  Thank me later for the good, solid read.
 
Flaws?  Get  that weak shit out of here.  I want to live in Wink, bitch.
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text 2014-12-01 22:02
Shadow Scale

I expect I'm horribly late to this, but two chapters of Shadow Scale, the sequel to Rachel Hartman's wonderful Seraphina, are available to read NOW:

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/240291548/Shadow-Scale-by-Rachel-Hartman-Chapter-Sampler

 

The covers, the covers.  I could die for those covers.  They are stunning.  I hadn't read a word about Seraphina before I saw that first cover on a bookshop table.  I picked it up and bought it without reading the blurb, flicking through, or anything.  The cover did it all.

 

The book was pretty great too. 

 

 

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review 2014-11-21 07:26
Medieval assassin nuns! I repeat. MEDIEVAL ASSASSIN NUNS!
Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers

I don't know how anyone alive could resist that premise, frankly.  I am in thrall, and this is my favourite of the three books that make up Robin LaFevers' trilogy.

 

The setting is a medieval, alternate-history Brittany, just after a young Anne becomes duchess.  An older, nine-god religion (based on Celtic deities) fights for primacy with the new Christianity.  (Religious geekery.  I love it.)  The assassin nuns are the instruments of Mortain, the God of Death, and are deployed according to his wishes by the Abbess of the convent.

 

Dark Triumph is the second of the series, and it is dark.  Very dark.  It doesn't hold back on cruelty or abuse. The main character, Sybella, is sent back into the family situation that nearly drove her into madness in the first book, Grave Mercy.  I thought my own family was dysfunctional, but hers beats mine into a cocked hat.  The story follows her as she navigates the dangerous waters of her suspicious, manipulative father, over-possessive brother, ladies-in-waiting who spy on her every move, and over-eager retainers, all the time attempting to follow the orders of her convent and keeping her real mission secret.  

 

Sybella thinks of herself as something dark, almost evil.  The story's romance features a man who sees the good in everyone, Sybella included, and the way she finally comes to accept herself and her place in the world is a treat to read.  

 

In so many books featuring strong women, the heroine still ends up rescued by the man.  Not in this book.  I also love the real friendship between Sybella, Ismae (the heroine of Grave Mercy) and Annith (Mortal Heart), the relationship between the daughters of the convent and Anne of Brittany, and the complicated, sore relationship between the nuns and the Abbess - who may not be all she seems.  

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