Rapunzel’s Daughters – review

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Jul 192011
 
Rapunzel's Daughters - review

This collection is a wonderful mixture of the magical, the bizarre, and the haunting flavor of the fairy tales we’ve all been raised on, with a healthy dose of the grown-up world. All of these stories deserve to be read and to be savored with the giddiness of childish abandon.

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 Posted by at 8:03 am

The Jack Daniels Sessions EP – review

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Jul 152011
 
The Jack Daniels Sessions EP - review

What does one do with a book like this? Read it, obviously, and if you could have seen me as I read it–eyes widening, jaw dropping, hair standing on end–you would probably have laughed. This is not always a comfortable book to read, but it is a magnificent one. The Jack Daniels Sessions EP: A Collection of Fantasies is comprised of short stories and vignettes that flow into one another like the Mississippi rushes over the Delta. Elwin Cotman is a writer, an activist, a performance artist and above all, an impeccable storyteller.

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 Posted by at 12:22 pm

The Lost Machine – review

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Jul 072011
 
The Lost Machine - review

Richard A. Kirk’s The Lost Machine is a delightful yet dark tale about a man named Lumsden Moss who first appears in a prison cell, waking from a nightmare. We never learn exactly why the door to his cell is open that day; all we know is that the prison has fallen into chaos. Moss makes his escape and begins his quest to right the wrongs that put him there. With the help of an unexpected companion, Moss journeys through a world full of witches, bandits and ghosts in search of a mechanical boy — the AI who committed the murders for which Moss was convicted.

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 Posted by at 11:34 am

East Meets West: Yei Theodora Ozaki’s Japanese Fairy Tales

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May 292011
 
East Meets West: Yei Theodora Ozaki’s Japanese Fairy Tales

Even after over a century since its first publication, the stories remain well-told and the collection varied. With something there for everyone, I found many motifs and themes that touched me on a personal level. But I also became interested in the author — herself born of a Japanese father and an English mother — and in her reasons for retelling these stories. So in this article I intend to examine both the stories and the author, looking both at what they have to offer a 21st-century reader and how they reflect the original social context and aims of Yei Theodora Ozaki.

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 Posted by at 8:27 am
May 252011
 
Welcome to Bordertown

I missed my exit to Bordertown.

I recall it clearly – I was standing in the musty confines of the SFF section in Zelda Books in Montgomery, Alabama. Many important moments began this way for me, as many a well-travelled book fell into my hands and helped build me into the woman I am today. I would spend every minute my mother let me, running my fingers along the spines of so very many inviting books, pulling those out that caught my fancy.

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Toads and Diamonds – review

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May 252011
 
Toads and Diamonds  - review

I couldn’t put this book down. My fingers turned page after page as if enchanted by the same goddess that intervenes in the two heroines’ lives.

This book is a retelling of the fairy tale about two sisters who get singled out by a powerful being who grants one the blessing of speaking flowers and diamonds whenever she utters a word, while the other sister must deal with toads and snakes punctuating each sentence. The retelling takes place in a small village which the author describes in lush detail. The two sisters start off a bit one-dimensional, but, as the story progresses, they acquire edges to match Diribani’s many jewels.

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 Posted by at 7:39 am

Russian Fairy Tales – review

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May 252011
 
Russian Fairy Tales - review

This is a wonderful collection, one that is akin to the classic Grimm books, full of lush, fantastical stories, set against the harsh background that is icy Russia.

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 Posted by at 7:37 am

Author Emile Habiby – two reviews

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May 172011
 
Author Emile Habiby - two reviews

Emile Habiby is perhaps one of the hardest of great writers for Americans to read, in more ways than one. His writings are beautiful but determinedly inaccessible to the noninitiate into the Palestinian tragedy. This is so on more than one level. Naturally, he wrote all his life to a world that did not want to hear. But he is also atypical among Palestinians, having stayed in his birthplace of Haifa after the Israeli takeover and thus possessing a consciousness that retains the whole Palestinian territory and history. He writes from a perspective that is tortured with itself, realizing at once that he stands closer to a complete nation and reality than most Palestinians or Israelis, and yet that this stance is the nearest to madness of all.

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Food for Our Grandmothers – review

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May 172011
 
Food for Our Grandmothers - review

This excellent collection of essays, memoirs, poems, and other writings by Middle Eastern (nearly but not all Arab) feminists in North America announces its relevance to sff writers as soon as one gets to the table of contents.

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The Futurist’s Mistress

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Mar 182011
 
The Futurist’s Mistress

There are some jeweled moments in this collection of poems. Some sparkles of wit and gorgeous imagery that dazzle the eyes and the mind. There are some lines such as this one: “Time sings to itself and smells of space” from Heracleitus Warp Variants, this one from Dorothy’s Poem: “The long, gray of the rain had fallen” or this one from Wings of Augury: “Fortunes can be read in fallen leaves/ And in the white foam runes of the tide” that wrapped themselves around me when I read them and have not let go since.

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 Posted by at 2:00 pm
Jan 312011
 
Legends from Fairyland

Some people speak of books as treasures. I find this to be true. Reading a book offers a door into the author’s imagination. The better the writer, the better the journey. This kind of bond between writer and reader is certainly something to cherish. However, every once in a while you find a book that literally feels like a treasure. Something about the age of the book, the prose, the design that no one uses anymore. One such book, to me, is Holme Lee’s Legends from Fairyland, a long-forgotten classic, one of the great fairy tales of the last two hundred years.

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 Posted by at 4:38 pm

Glasgow Fairytale

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Nov 162010
 
Glasgow Fairytale

Welcome to Glasgow, where the only option is to live happily ever after. Glasgow Fairytale, by Alastair D. McIver, is a wild ride through some of the most well-known stories in the fairy tale canon. By the second line I was giggling and by page three I knew I’d struck gold. In fact, this book is so funny that it was almost impossible to write a review. Every time I thought about the story I started laughing. Set in a very extraordinary Glasgow, where magic happens and a King rules by way of the television, the story begins with the appearance of a wee mysterious man in a scene those of us familiar with public transport in major cities will certainly recognize. From there it goes on to make a delightful mockery of almost everything – from media moguls to immigration rules to footballers. No one is safe here.

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 Posted by at 12:45 pm

Storytelling in Daily Life

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Sep 302010
 
Storytelling in Daily Life

Storytelling in Daily Life is an important book that has dated little in six years. Co-authored by Kristin M. Langellier and Eric E. Peterson, it is shaped most by a series of oral interviews Langellier conducted with Americans of French-Canadian descent. Although it is written from a communications perspective, it touches heavily on folk content, particularly the issues involved in drawing from oral history and other firsthand sources. It is a worthwhile resource for any creative artist mining folkloristic or other ethnic material and interested in negotiating the barriers of cultural appropriation, other issues touching on racism and gender prejudice, or simply in knowing how families tell their own stories.

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The Birds of the Air

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Sep 302010
 
The Birds of the Air

A person who has suffered such a blow must inevitably be faced with the task of reconciling two distinct versions of the self, that before the loss and that created provisionally afterward. During the extremity of grief, which never goes away forever and recurs at intervals for the rest of one’s life, a third self also appears, beholden to neither past nor future nor anything else outside the anguish of the moment. The Birds of the Air is the biography of such a self.

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Who Fears Death

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Sep 242010
 
Who Fears Death

Nnedi Okorafor has made a name for herself writing award-winning young adult novels that vividly explore African characters in magical locales. Who Fears Death is Okorafor’s first foray into adult fiction, and while it continues her exploration of the personal effects that powerful magic can have on the lives of her protagonists, it also adds heightened social commentary and life-and-death stakes which infuse the narrative with compelling suspense. Once picked up, Who Fears Death is very difficult to put down.

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 Posted by at 6:40 pm