What We’re Reading: Kindred

Rating: 5 out of 5

Written in 1979, Kindred by Octavia Butler has been on my bookshelf for at least a year without me so much as reading the table of contents.


I’d bought it at the suggestion of some writer friends who offered it as a title written by and featuring black people. The search led me to Butler as an author and Kindred as the first book to read from her long list of award winning novels.


The story of Kindred, is a massive trigger warning for people of color, descendants of slavery and oppression as well as women who’ve survived sexual assault as well as various forms of domestic abuse.


The most difficult parts of the book were the parts of the story that gave it it’s edge. A glimpse at the degradation experienced as a slave in the antebellum South.


As Dana traveled back and forth through space and time I too went on a journey of self discovery, though no stranger to the tales of slavery, this particular story had the added insult of having a free woman from the modern world transported to the past and told she had to act the part. In a time where slavery is a not so distant memory and injustice is an everyday publicized occurrence the similarities of the past and the present are undeniable.


I could’ve been Dana, transported from my Philadelphia home in 2018 to 1815 where my complexion merely meant I probably wouldn’t work out in the fields. I’m not sure if I could’ve rescued Rufus.


The title Kindred, could speak to the two couples most noted in the book. The juxtaposition between Rufus and Alice & Kevin and Dana is a connection I couldn’t quite explain.


During the reign of slavery, slaves weren’t able to marry, had no rights and weren’t even seen as people. Rufus exploited this in his pursuits to woo, abuse and eventually drive Alice a formerly free woman to kill herself. Though Rufus claimed to love Alice  his actions showed he could only love her as much as he could any other property he possessed.


A stark contrast from the 70s, marrying outside of your race wasn’t common but occurred. Kevin waited 5 years for Dana and she returned to endure humiliation for him.


I personally don’t feel the title speaks to the story at all. I wouldn’t even say that Dana and Rufus are kindred spirits, their only connection being a bloodline established out of rape and systematic torture. Usually when thinking of the word, it elicits thoughts of fate and a connection that surpasses all boundaries.


This particular connection was to a place, time and person contradictory to the life Dana had built for herself. Beyond transcending time to save his own skin, Rufus Weylin exhibited none of the qualities of a kindred spirit.


It would be easy to create stereotypical characters and in some way Butler, manipulated stereotypes to tell her story however, I would say that Butler was able to cultivate well rounded life-like characters that I connected with and felt for. Dana for me was the most relatable. I am a black woman living in the modern era, it was as if I had been transported into the pass and as she was stripped of each layer of the modern world in a way so was I. There were times I felt physically sick from reading about her ordeal but I’m happy for having read it.


Octavia Butler must have a great mind to consider the conundrum she beset Dana. Without Rufus she would cease to exist, but how long is she to endure to ensure her own safety? She also forms a bind with the boy, once hoping to influence him for the better he evolves into the beast she dreaded despite her presence. I felt myself densely waiting on the arrival of her first descendant just so she could go home and never return.


Dana and Kevin are a biracial couple living in 1978 California at a time when race relations were tense but facing process. Their immediate transport to the antebellum South where white men used black slave women as bed warmers and breeders is a 180 degree switch from what they’re used to. Rufus, his parents and even the slaves had simply been playing the roles taught to them by society as a whole.


A part of the story I didn’t care for is the loss of her arm and the explanation behind it. Call me overly sympathetic to Dana’s plight but hadn’t she gone through enough? To then say that Butler, couldn’t have let her return completely, that some part of her had to remain in the past.


Personally, I feel by the end of the book that Dana had been altered enough and choosing to leave her with both arms wouldn’t have hurt. She’d been overworked, slapped, punched, kicked, whipped and had at one point slit her own wrists. Dana will forever be physically and psychologically altered.


I suppose one would have to wonder how Rufus survived without Dana prior to her birth, but I guess time paradoxes would suggest that she was always the one who kept him alive.


With more than 450,000 copies in print I can see why Kindred comes so highly recommended. The Book itself is a healthy blend of genres spanning across science fiction, fantasy, neo-slave narratives and historical fiction.


Kindred made me openly cry and wanna jump into the book and throttle the characters. I happily give this one a 5 out of 5.

Have You Read Kindred? What did you think? Let me Know in the Comments Below!



You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

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What We’re Reading: Hart’s Hope

Rating: 3 out of 5


I discovered Hart’s Hope by Orson Scott Card while reading a readers digest reference book written by Card. In it he discussed a variety of topics to help readers write their novels and he used his own experiences and writing as examples.


Card is the author of the Ender’s Game saga and a literary icon from what I’ve researched. It only made sense that I read his fantasy novel, to glean some hidden wisdom from his work.


I definitely learned a lot from reading it.


What I learned most was, though I did enjoy the plot of Hart’s Hope, I wasn’t sold on how the story was told.


The kingdom of Inwit, formerly Hart’s Hope has endured a power struggle for over 300 years, through magical and at times divine intervention the cruel king was usurped by Palicrovol a man the Gods deemed worthy to rule, he was then exiled by Queen Beauty, daughter of the cruel king, robbed of her virtue and banished from her homeland she uses the blackest of magic to lord over all.


The Gods through small miracles cause the Hero’s Journey of Orem Scanthips, the only person who can thwart the evil queen.


All the makings of an epic story until you open the book and get slapped by the fantastical names of this world.


Evanescence Eleven…


There are a few things I didn’t enjoy about Hart’s Hope that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the tale. The first would be some of the names, like our flower princess for instance  “Enziquelvinisensee Evelvenin” a name so convoluted I don’t wish to read it let alone trying to understand how it’s pronounced. Changing it to Weasel was probably the biggest favor Card could’ve done for us.


You know this story but, forgot so I’ll remind you.


At the beginning of my reading I noticed the story was a second person narrative. There is a brief paragraph in the beginning of the book that explains this individual is writing to king Palicrovol, in hopes to save the boy Orem’s life.


I have never read a story with a 2nd person narrator that I enjoyed and this particular story did nothing to change that. Throwing in the occasional “you remember that don’t you?” doesn’t change the fact that there are things the narrator shouldn’t know and hiding the identity of the narrator only adds to the confusion.


This new heading means I’m starting a new scene.


 Each chapter was separated into cute little vignettes meant to move the story along while covertly jumping through time. At times the headings broke up the story in a convenient way easing you through otherwise challenging sections with strange vernacular. Other times the headings came as abrupt stop signs interrupting the flow and reminding you of why you hate headings in books. (Is that just me?…oh well)  


I wonder what kind of story it would’ve been without the headings, pretentiously made up names and second person narrative.


I did enjoy the world created by OSC. As this story was mentioned in the world building section of the reference guide I was pleased to see that  his world development skills were phenomenal.


My overall opinion is that this book is neither completely horrible nor is it that great. I can add it to my read pile and that is important. 


Have You Read Hart’s Hope? What did you think? Let me Know in the Comments Below!



You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

To Be Continued: Night of the Animals

You ever start a book and think to yourself, “I’m never gonna make it to the end of this?” 

Usually it comes from a lack of interest in the story, or eagerness to start something newer. Occasionally I find myself wondering why I even started the book in the first place. 

This time around I’ll chalk it up to a wandering eye. I picked up, Bill Broun’s “Night of the Animals” shortly after finishing “A Madness So Discreet” by Mindy McGinnis. I was craving another stand alone since I’ve picked up several series these past 2 months that I’m not sure I want to start in 2017. 

I have yet to make it past chapter One, of this book.

Perhaps it’s the concept. Set in futuristic London; our main character Cuthbert Handley,  (I roll eyes at his name each time) must use his possibly made up special gifts of speaking to the animals, to release/rescue them before a suicide cult determined to kill all animal life gets to them.

👀🤔😞

It could also be that I’ve been buying soooo many fantasy books including, “Hart’s Hope” by Orson Scott Card, lately that I’m distracted from the story because I really wanna crack the spines of the new books.

Either way, I’ll be postponing my exploration into “Night of the Animals” for another time. In the interim I have to decide between, “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” by Gregory Maguire or the aforementioned “Hart’s Hope”

What Book or Series Could You Just Not Finish? Let me Know in the Comments Below!



You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What We’re Reading: A Madness So Discreet

A Madness So Discreet

An exploration of madness in its many forms.

I’m not sure if this review will have spoilers so keep an eye out for those just in case. I borrowed this book from my friend Bree over @ DoYouEvenGeek months ago in an attempt to bring me from a reading slump. The cover was gorgeous featuring a young woman being pulled through wooden floorboards by hands rooted into the soil. A cover that vivid and descriptive offered a thrilling story and I secretly hoped it featured zombies.

The title, A Madness So Discreet, implies we’ll be exploring the main characters mental health. Confirmed as soon as we open the book and discover her inside of an insane asylum, however, the book also offers insight into the mental health of all of the characters including those otherwise deemed sane. Madness, explores society’s view on women and mental during the Victorian era in the US. A time when women had no rights and were property of the men who chose to claim them. The mistreatment of these women is also a recurring theme throughout the story line.

I absolutely loved the characters as well as the dialogue written for them. I laughed outwardly while reading on more than one occasion. Each character had multiple layers to them, no one person was simply sane or insane. Each had a history, a memory and a reason for being included which not only added depth and emotion to the story but also provided a cohesiveness to the book.

The character of Grace is written as a sort of anti-hero. Though she came to be in this predicament through no fault of her own it is her decisions that will change her fate, something I think Mindy McGinnis conveys perfectly. Grace’s spirit and reluctance to remain a victim make you cheer for her even during times when she seems to have succumb to the darkness. We read on past each new pitfall eagerly hoping she makes it into the light.

There seems to be an underlying power struggle with each character vying for control in one respect or another. Starting with Grace who was powerless to prevent years of abuse at the hands of her sadistic father, Thornhollow, eager to break through into a new realm of science where the mind is the new frontier down to Nell who merely wanted to choose her own fate instead of waiting for sickness to claim her. There is a more overarching need for secrecy or “Discretion” throughout the book also, without it freedom seems to be harder to grasp. Grace’s entire reason for being in the asylum in the first place is to keep her father’s indiscretions a secret, the revelation of her alleged botched procedure must be kept or it would cost Dr. Heedson his livelihood. And if Grace revealed to every one her true identity or the fact that she could speak her father would be able to find her and take her away. The characters in the asylum have the added motivation of seeking normalcy in a world viewed as abnormal something they accomplish while forging bonds within the asylum walls.

The story takes place in the 1800’s, the US of the Victorian era still heavily indoctrinated with European customs and social graces placed manners and etiquette in highest regard. Language was mostly English though, cockney is used for immigrants and others who couldn’t read as a symbol of their social class. During this time, it was considered improper for women seen as dainty and easily breakable to be in the face of murderers, brothels or bars. Women who were loud and exuberant were considered to have no class. Men were advised to watch how they spoke in front of women for fear of upsetting her delicate sensibilities. It’s also important to note that Grace spends most of her time feigning mute and so the absence of speech forces her to express herself in other ways.

A Madness So Discreet, is a great evaluation of the human condition. Each of the individuals in the story possess a trait if not several that would mark them as insane. Their actions in spite of their so called state of mind is what we, the audience determine throughout the book. Is Grace insane because she refuses to speak to people who would ignore her pleas for help either way? Or sane for knowing not to waste her strength and efforts on futile cries? Is Dr. Thornhollow sane because he can critically see into a person’s nature by analyzing a crime scene or is his lack of emotional connection and mechanized perspective signs of a true deviant? McGinnis leaves that decision up to us.

The symbolism in Grace’s scars is one of freedom. She is frequently described as being fairly attractive except for the fact that she now has scars on matching sides of her face. To others unknowing of her history those scars seem the greatest tragedy of her condition, however, to Grace those scars represent freedom and hope offering comfort and protection from scrutiny, a rescue from the shackles of abuse from her father. Grace’s scars became her most concealed weapon, easily hidden behind hair, when in full display they made her invisible to those who would usually ignore a crazy person.

My final thoughts are on the concept of the mind. This book tested the limits of what we would call acceptable and argued a sentiment that maybe we’re all a tad insane from time to time. Set during a dark time for mental health and the golden era of serial killers. Madness explores the psychology of men and offers a clear view at life in two separate mental institutions. The concept of mental health is not a black or white canvas meant to be easily ascertained by one’s social status and upbringing. Luckily for us all, we live in a time where this is no longer the case.

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What Series have you read with Eight books or more in it? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

 

What We’re Reading: Artemis Fowl  (The Last Guardian)

AF8

                                   *****Spoilers in this Review****

What an amazing ending to the Artemis Fowl saga!!!

The final book of the Artemis series is the equivalent of winning the gold medal in reading for following through to the end. I absolutely loved the final showdown between Opal and our heroes.

Opal proves how insane she is and how far she’s willing to go by killing the younger version of herself and setting of a series of natural disasters.

For once someone else truly has outsmarted Artemis Fowl.

There is a certain level of either selflessness or selfishness that entails killing one’s self and Opal Koboi is willing to make the choice to finally achieve the power she’s always craved.

Our leading cast is stuck in the surface split between Holly, Butler, Artemis and a troll riding Mulch vs. possessed versions of Juliet, Becket, Myles and other assorted woodland creatures/art pieces/ corpses.

The mental back and forth is heightened each chapter as time ticks closer to Opal unlocking an ancient gate meant to destroy all humanity.

All of our characters have come full circle for better or worse. As Artemis completes his ascension  Artemis, once almost responsible for bringing the world to it’s knees with the existence of faeries will now risk it all to save humanity and fairy kind. Mulch Diggums, formerly a hardened criminal and self affirmed coward proves his reform repeatedly placing himself in harm’s way. Even Foaly turned into an action hero in order to save his wife.

Myles Fowl is one of the funniest supporting characters in the book. As Artemis Fowl’s little brother and genius compared to twin Beckett, Myles’s intellect allows him to fight through the possession and aid in the fight…at least before his nap.

I couldn’t have imagined a better end to an amazing series and it’s interesting enough that I also may want to buy the graphic novels…(yes of the series I just finished reading, but this one will have pictures.)

What Series have you read with? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

 

What We’re Reading: Artemis Fowl  (The Atlantis Complex)

AF7

It took me a bit longer to finish this book than it has the others in the series. I even chose to take a break for a few days to get the Blumoonfiction.wordpress.com site back up and running. Having finished the book I have a few take-aways.

Angeline Fowl is an amazing beastmode mom, in the running for my literary adopted mom status. Using cooperation in keeping the fairy people’s existence a secret, as a way to extort normal teenage behavior from your son, is genius and if faeries were real totally worth the effort.

Secondly, Love truly conquers all including black magic runes and psychosis. This theme pops up often throughout the book, I won’t spoil it for you but see if you can get what I meant. The ending to the final conflict was so poetic, I would’ve teared up if I hadn’t been holding my breath for the downfall of Turnball Root, villain of our novel.

Thirdly, this book is a completely different Fowl adventure than what we’ve come to know. Traditionally there’s multiple villains and levels of psychological sparring ending in the flawless execution of a final Fowl plan to defeat the bad guy and save the day.

This time not so much…

Artemis’s mental ability isn’t going to be as helpful as it’d usually be. In fact Artemis spends a large chunk of the book out of commission.

I love character development and a little variation from time to time. For six books we’ve seen Artemis use his wits to outsmart his foes and to help save the day, but now suffering from fits of psychosis while trying to unravel a villainous plot his mind seems to be causing him the most trouble.

The villain in this book is also different. Questing to be reunited with his love, regardless of of how their romance came to be is a completely different motivation. Ultimately it was that same motivation that ended his scheme. This part of the book is the most poetic if not slightly anti-climactic. A part of me wondered what the point of it all was, but only for a moment.

The Atlantis Complex is also the funniest AF book I’ve read, now that Artemis has a sense of humor, jokes between the characters as well as the jokes the author leaves for the reader are on almost every page. It’s one of the more light hearted books, considering the events that place.

The Orion character is truly one of the more humurous inceptions of Artemis Fowl, with his chivalrous demeanor and floral speech. He proved to be more useful than originally expected.

Psychosis beats Rune.

One final book in the Artemis Fowl series before I am done. This has been an amazing journey but I’m sooooo ready to get out of Ireland.

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What Series have you read with Eight books or more in it? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

 

November TBR!

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I’m working on time management this month so if everything works out I’ll be able to complete this list and blog about while also keeping up with my NANOWRIMO writing. Anyway I digress, This month I’m attempting to finish reading one series and then start another. So far my 2017 Reading challenge is hanging on by a thread. I’m nine books into my 20 book goal. Almost halfway through with 52 days left. I feel like I could definitely get through but I’m ready to read something new. Lucky for me, my run with Artemis Fowl is coming to an end.

AF7

I’m currently working through the 7th installment of Artemis Fowl.  I started reading this book late last month and just haven’t finished. Ironically the title, The Atlantis Complex  by  Eoin Colfer is both a psychological condition as well as a physical location. So far I’m on page 226 of the book, (63% according to my tracker) and for the first time ever Artemis isn’t much help in getting them out of trouble. I won’t spoil it for you feel free to check out my GoodReads feed for more. I plan to be finished this book tomorrow and hopefully the series by mid next week.

AF8

Rounding out the Artemis Fowl series, I’ll be starting The Last Guardian also by Eoin Colfer. Is the final book in the Artemis Fowl saga. When it comes to a series I usually try not to read the description of the books until just before I’m about to read it. However, a quick glance at the inside cover reveals their old foe is back and still determined to bring destruction to both worlds. This series has been a bit of an obsession, I’m happy I’ve picked it up but as I said I am eager to get into a new series.

That series would be The Mortal Instruments and the accompanying Infernal Devices. I started to read the series a few years ago, swiped my mom’s copy of City of Bones as payback for her destroying my Harry Potter series. I personally don’t harm books, I just wanted to read it. I finished the first book but she refused to let me borrow the rest. Now that I have my own I’ll be speed reading the Mortal Instruments and buddy reading the Infernal Devices with my friend Breanna.

I think with a bit of determination I can get through all of these before the month is out, but I’ll definitely have to stay focused. Wish me luck!

Which books made your November TBR list? Let Me Know Below!