Reading: Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway is the story of a school for children who have come back from magical worlds and who, in their right mind, is going to turn down a story about a school for kids who don’t fit in elsewhere? We all want to find that place where we can be accepted for who we are, instead of being forced to conform to some tyranny of the majority version of ourselves.

This book has so many intriguing bits, like sympathetic mad scientists reanimating the dead, nonsense worlds where children run on rainbows, and creepy underworlds where girls are rewarded for slowing the beating of their heart down to nearly nothing. There’s so much eye candy that it’s hard not to get swept up in the story.

At its core, this is a murder mystery, but the book is over before you know it. If I had any complaint at all, it’s that I would have loved to go deeper and have more glimpses of the lives these children led in their fantastic and horrific lands. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m going to get that chance, because the sequel, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, comes out in June.

Warp Drives Episode #3: Scalzipalooza

We made it to week three of Warp Drives! In this episode, Dave and I attend John Scalzi’s reading at the University Bookstore in Seattle and talk about the story of the night John met his wife. We also got a sneak preview of the sequel to his novel Lock In, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to John’s reading to get the scoop on that book.

We also talk about John’s newest novel, The Collapsing Empire. It’s an action-packed mix of traditional space opera and new scifi sensibilities. (Like, oh I don’t know, maybe women get to kick ass AND they get to be bisexual!)

Dave also tries to figure out why I dislike The Expanse on television when it contains literally every element I love in a scifi show (#1: space!). I also come clean about “The Butter Incident” so I can continue with the episode with a clear conscience.

Warp Drives Episode #3: Scalzipalooza

Warp Drives Episode #2: The Writing Pimp

On this week’s episode of Warp Drives, we talk about our favorite bits of Norwescon, Dave’s love of The Adventure Zone, and how impressed TJ was with the handling of disability and mental illness in Mishell Baker’s Borderline and Phantom Pains. We also talk about why three Guests of Honor withdrew from Odyssey Con this week and how women’s safety concerns aren’t taken seriously.

Warp Drives Episode #2: The Writing Pimp

What we’re talking about in this episode:

Books:

Podcasts:
The Adventure Zone

People:
Annie Bellet
Mishell Baker
Monica Valentinelli
K. Tempest BradfordOdysseyCon and Why Serial Harassers Are Safe In Our Community
Natalie LuhrsOdyssey Con Fucks Up But Good

Reading: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders shot to the top of the bestseller lists. I wouldn’t say this is a fun book, but it is a thoughtful slog through grief and denial with a colorful cast of unforgettable characters.

Saunders’ unusual prose style is disorienting at first, but then makes complete sense as a style choice. Each character has a clearly unique voice. After a few chapters, it’s easy to tell who’s speaking, even without dialogue tags. The unique perspective of each character infused into their bit of the narrative was deftly done. And there’s so much history woven into the text that you’ll surely come away having learned a few things about Civil War-era life.

I really enjoyed Lincoln in the Bardo and it turns out that Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman also liked the story enough to buy the film rights.

Reading: The Collapsing Empire

That John Scalzi, he sure can write dialogue. Hang on. Let me back up.

I’m going to sheepishly admit that I didn’t know John Scalzi had a new book coming out. Primarily because of my inability to read any publishing news and not due to any marketing failure on Tor’s part. Eh, I’m working on getting better at staying plugged in.

The first I heard about The Collapsing Empire was when word spread that one particular eye-rolling troll was attempting to diminish Scalzi’s book launch by excreting a pile of words under a similar name and cover design. So, of course, the only right plan of action was to immediately purchase Scalzi’s book in three different formats. (I read ebooks, Dave listens to audio on his long commute, and my little brother does paper copies.)

The Collapsing Empire is space opera at its modern finest. It’s fast and packed with intrigue without getting bogged down in political details. The concept of the Flow is both exotic and easy to understand. You don’t need a degree in astrophysics to follow the plot. And, as I said above, the snappy and true-to-life dialogue is a pleasure to read.

The entire cast of characters was¬†realistic (even in extraordinary circumstances) and reflected the incredible breadth of cultures we would expect to find in a multi-planet civilization. And as a bisexual woman, it was amazing to see a strong character like Lady Kiva front and center. When she considered making a marriage of political convenience but couldn’t choose between a certain lord or a particular lady, I cheered. Why limit yourself when there’s so much awesomeness all over the gender spectrum?

You’re not going to find long, lush passages of description here. And that doesn’t make The Collapsing Empire a bad book. Because that’s not what this book is here for. You’re going to jump in fast and ride it hard like a bucking bronco. Or like Lady Kiva… *ahem* nevermind.

Reading: Spells & Sorcery

I bought Spells & Sorcery by S. Usher Evans a few weeks ago when we were due to have a huge storm with power outages and I’d planned to spend the evening reading. The storm never materialized, so it took me a while to get through my “Great Storm” reading list.

Spells & Sorcery is a fun YA story about a teenage girl who abruptly comes into magical powers. Lexie Carrigan struggles with both controlling her magic and navigating those tough teen years when you’re not quite an adult and not quite a child. Add to it an unusual household dynamic–um, like family members who completely abandon her to her new, uncontrolled powers despite her begging for help–and you’ve got a lot going on in this quick read. Also, it’s a terrible idea to take advice from an unfamiliar middle-aged man in a park. That’s just a good rule of thumb.

Evans’ prose reads cleanly and the story flies by. I finished the entire thing in one sitting… luckily the new book in the series is out this week!