Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

 

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone is the start of a five book series (soon to be six) that’s garnered a lot of attention. Gladstone has been selected for several prestigious nominations, including finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in both 2013 and 2014, and a Hugo finalist in 2017 for the series, which is called The Craft Sequence. Admittedly there were awful problems with the 2015 Hugo awards, which resurfaced in 2016, but 2017 looks to have succeeded against small-minded bigotry. Gladstone is also publishing with TOR; if you read fantasy, you know that TOR has been a mover-and-a-shaker for a long time. Fans were not pleased in 2015 (see here and here) when president & publisher Tom Doherty of Tor Books came out in defense of the same racists and misogynists who were f*cking up the Hugo awards. (In 2017 there’s some weird stuff going on, too, but it seems to mainly be Scalzi v Vox in this instance.)

Despite all the recognition from ambiguous sources, Gladstone’s own work features several aspects of a diverse cast. And Gladstone doesn’t just write books—that’s right, I let my nerd flag fly—he also writes games and serials. In addition, his middle book (third to come out, fifth in the internal chronology of the series… it’s complicated) has been on just about every diversity reading list I’ve seen lately. I think the black woman and the Asian woman on the cover are lovers, but I’m not for sure. (I’ll keep you posted).

Anyway, that black woman, whose name is Tara, is our main character for this book, Three Parts Dead, which takes it’s quirky name from Betrand Russell, “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.” A quick internet search will also advise that “three parts” is generally understood to mean 75%.

Tara is the lawyer mage, Abelard is the apprentice priest, and Cat is the addict cop. Together they find trouble, and ultimately, answers. Each of our trio has some scenes working solo and some teaming up. I like that our main characters are young, untested with something to prove. You can really see the character development and growth that happens in these pages.

If that doesn’t snag you, rest assured this book will also provide: gargoyles, vampires, murder, dead gods, and LOTS of magic use. And you can encounter such choice phrases as “the pretty young vivisectionist” who works with “dead human meat,” or the not-so-nice professor whose magic masterfully manipulates the very fabric of the universe, “time its warp and space its weft.” This volume has a very sci-fi feel for a book that’s considered fantasy, and there are also some parts that feel steampunky. And here’s some bizzaro fun with font and cover colors—apparently Gladstone is a little magical himself.

 

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

  • PopSugar 2017 reading challenge No. 45 a book about an immigrant or refugee. I was trying to give this category the respect it deserves and save it for a serious nonfiction book, but I just don’t know if I’ll get there. The news is depressing enough. So I decided this book may be as close as I get. Tara talks about her family being immigrants twice. It was that or No. 20 career advice, since the novel explores Tara’s career path, but I think I’m much more likely to read another book about writing (my preferred career path).
  • Book Dragon’s Lair Audiobook challenge Nope.
  • Book Dragon’s Lair Pages Read challenge These 333 pgs bring me to 11,489 pgs.
  • Read It Again, Sam Nope.
  • My Reader’s Block Mount To Be Read (TBR) and Rock My TBR challenge While I have been wanting to read this series for a hot minute, the rules say I can’t count it because I checked it out from the library.
  • Diverse Reads challenge (here and here). Yes! The main character is black, as are some of the supporting cast, and Tara is a strong, capable, intelligent woman who also fights for freedom and what is right! Just the kind of hero we can love whole-heartedly. I also liked that, unlike in many books, the males in these pages play more submissive roles while the women do the lion’s share of fighting and detective-ing. This is also the first book of the series which promises an Eastern setting in book three. I will keep you posted.
  • The Book Date Full House challenge Nope.
  • The Book Date Read the Books You Buy challenge This one I have managed not to buy yet, but I make no promises for the future.
  • The Worm Hole’s What’s In A Name challenge Does “three” count for the number title, or is it disqualified because it isn’t written as a numeral 3?
  • Anne Read Along Nope.

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

Love,
Jobe

Posted in Special Announcement

Banned Books Week is coming up!

In only a month Banned Books Week will be here! There’s a WRITING CONTEST, a BAKING CONTEST, and a workshop co-hosted by yours truly J. Jobe and Kassandra Klay. You won’t want to miss a moment of it! Check it out!!!!!

For our part, K and I will be co-hosting a writing workshop including discussion and prompts. Here’s a snippet from the press release:
logoRomance vs. Erotica Writing Workshop
CALS Main Library, 100 Rock St., Little Rock
Thursday, September 28, 5:30 p.m.
Instructors Jobe and Kassandra Klay lead this conversation on how the genres differ, surprising traits they have in common, and offer tips on how to construct scenes that will thrill.

And here’s a snippet from the website:
Romance vs. Erotica Writing Workshoplogo
Thursday, September 28 • 5:30 p.m. • Main Library
Find out how the genres differ, what surprising traits they have in common, and how to construct scenes that thrill. Instructors Jobe and Kassandra Klay tell us what’s hot and what’s not. Audience: Adults

 

Posted in diversity, Reading Challenge, Reviews

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is the story of a transgirl written by a transwoman, and they even used a beautiful trans model for the book cover. The setting is high school, and any reader will recognize the familiar trappings—divorced parents who don’t see eye to eye, teens who are or are not included in “the popular kids,” feeling scared and uncertain of social situations. There are also several flashback scenes that give the reader a fuller sense of who the main character is, developing and enriching our reader experience at a pace that is masterfully parsed. The writing here is just so honest and so real. A lot of people say that reading the Diary of Anne Frank made them feel Jewish. This book will make you feel trans, in the best, most empathetic ways. Simply stated this book is vitally important and should be required high school reading nationwide. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m afraid to say much more so let this suffice: I adore this book. If you read one book this year, make it this one.

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It made my heart surge to see this book translated into so many languages.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

Love,
Jobe

Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

Collage Class with Jobe: Reflection

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So I tried to teach a collage class at everybody’s favorite art store and I got schooled by a tough reminder that knowing how to do something is not the same as knowing how to teach others how to do it. The class was fine and the attendees turned out great work, but I could tell there was some frustration that I wasn’t providing enough information or structure. I realized belatedly that when I do collage work, there’s not much in the way of surface level “rules” or thoughts going on—I put together stuff that “feels” like it goes well together. Which is great for me, and really not helpful at all for people attending a class. I had an idea to structure with a specific project, such as making a calendar, but the class didn’t seem thrilled by the idea so I just defaulted to the traditional layering method for creating dynamic imagery. I’m hoping that bringing a million supplies counted for something, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to try something new. But I’ll stick to teaching writing classes from now on, since I feel confident in my abilities to teach, encourage, and spark in that subject. And in case anyone still wanted a few tidbits on the topic of collage, I’ve outlined some here.

Best kind of glue? Purple glue stick. This was wise advice from the late, great Amy Edgington, reiterated by the hip young artist-poet Sandy Longhorn.

Use a thick base, such as wood, cardboard, or cardstock. If you use something slimmer, like some types of art paper, and your base starts warping, it’s too thin. That’s okay. Just glue another layer to the back.

Know that if you mod-podge the top of your finished creation in order to give it a (clear but textured) protective layer, it can warp or bubble the images you’ve used. Experiment first so you know the differences in how it will look. I tend to just slip my work into clear plastic sleeves.4232bcf63a08c54fa2ce07ad70fda539

Assemble the pieces before you glue them: lay everything out the way you want before you glue anything. If you’re afraid you’ll forget exactly how you had it, take a picture with your phone.

Alternately you can also just start gluing without a plan, just know you may end up with something a little more abstract or disjointed. Either way, it’s your creation.

Keep in mind that whatever you glue down first is going to be your bottom layer. So if there an image you really like, save it for the top.

Anything can be part of your project: scraps of fabric, ribbon, stickers, hole punches, shape punches, stamps, washi tape, words and images from magazines, as well as discarded or old used books—art books and coffee table books are especially good sources, and don’t forget comic books! You can also print virtually anything off the internet, and you can also photocopy the same image to use more than once. In addition, various papers such as: newspaper print, music paper, patterned or printed paper, graph paper, tissue paper.

If you love the look of it, clip it and save it. Inexpensive methods of storage include paper envelopes and clear plastic (sandwich or snack) baggies. If you want something a little sturdier, IKEA has corkboard slide drawers, and The Container Store has clear plastic photo storage.

If you’re interested in more check out the Rookie Mag and The Spruce. And don’t forget, you can also search Pinterest and Etsy (until your eyes fall out) for endless inspiration and ideas.

Until Next Time!
Jobe

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

The Dark Tower comic book series by Stephen King

The Dark Tower. You’ve probably heard of them. The comics are based on the novels by Stephen King, and are “plotted by Robin Furth and scripted by Peter David” per the wiki entry. You may have heard the buzz about the new movie, which stars Idris Elba, which prefaces the upcoming series of the same star. That’s a lot going on for a book series that started in 1998, about 20 years ago. So far I have read the first complete arc of installments:

  1. The Dark Tower – The Gunslinger Born (240 pgs)
  2. The Dark Tower – The Long Road Home (160 pgs)
  3. The Dark Tower – Treachery (176 pgs)
  4. The Dark Tower – Fall of Gilead (208 pgs)
  5. The Dark Tower – Battle of Jericho Hill (144 pgs)

1001004005395707In the first book we get the first adventure of the young man Roland, and his two besties Bert and Alain, which make up a ka-tet, aka crew. We meet villains like Marten, Rhea, and the Big Coffin Hunters, and we hear about even more scary and notorious ones like John Farson and the Crimson King. Roland forgets the face of his father while he’s getting it on with his new honey, Susan. There’s some serious fighting over oil: one side wants it, the other doesn’t want them to have it. And don’t forget the super weird squid-tree-monster, called the thinny. The comics differ from the novels (I’ve been told) because they start his story chronologically, rather than looking back from “present day” with the older, more experienced Roland.

longroad1In book two Roland gets addicted to grapefruit, Sheemie shakes hands with electrocution, and a vicious pack of wolves threaten to eat Bert and Alain. B & A have to contend with Roland’s serious new sleep-walking problem, Sheemie very unexpectedly saves the day, and the Crimson King is the ugliest cousin. The ka-tet goes home to celebration because their town thought they were dead, and Roland is too weak to give up his grapefruit habit.

9780785135746_p0_v1_s260x420In book three the dads of the main characters go on a mission to thwart Farson. Lots of people die. There are several mentions of people having wives and infants or infants on the way. Aileen is the girl who wants to be treated like a boy, since, you know, sexism. She’s super badass (that’s her on the cover) and I’m rooting for her. There’s a super creepy nunnery where Roland’s mom is in deep trouble of her own making, Roland keeps getting haunted by Rhea and visions of his father’s future death until he decides to give up the grapefruit for good, and there’s a party with some dancing and riddles and killing. A spy is discovered, and Roland has some serious issues with famous last words.

Book four gets pretty brutal. Insidious traitors in the midst of Gilead’s greatest are Dark_Tower_The_Fall_of_Gilead_Vol_1_4everywhere, killing everyone, and then there’s a crazy war and basically everyone (else) dies. Kill the philosopher, kill the doctor, kill a pregnant lady’s unborn belly-kid, kill the faces of our fathers. This volume is not for the faint of stomach. There’s a poisoned book that wreaks havoc on Cort, Roland goes to jail, and Aileen (gods bless her) cuts her hair short to be one of the boys. Speaking of boys, a lot of the kids have to take up arms when the grown-ups are mostly slaughtered. A creature type is introduced, “slow mutants,” and I’m unsure if it means they move slowly or they’re slow in the head, but they’re icky looking. Oh yeah, and Sheemie sneaks into the city with his donkey and is reunited with Roland’s ka-tet.

90fcb3683f851774f3113141dd244cb2_xlBook four also marked a change in art style, one I didn’t prefer (eh, you can’t please everybody all the time). The first three books were done by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove working together; the fourth is Richard Isanove and Dean White. But I was in luck because book five is back to the first team.

The fifth and final book of this arc opens with a special earthquake called a beamquake, because it’s to do with the beams that originate from the tower. Roland and gang try to follow the tear in the earth back to the tower but now that the bad guys are in charge stuff like time and physics don’t work. They wander the wilderness for nine years (which is guess than 40, I guess) and they fight Farson’s forces as a small but determined resistance. Of course the band wouldn’t be complete without a traitor, which makes sense since the evil baddies are all about taking advantage of weaknesses like love and family and such. There’s an ambush and an attack and basically almost everybody dies, which we should’ve seen coming since it’s like 20 gunslingers vs. a kajillion baddies. Marten tries to play hide and seek with different skins but Roland’s dad didn’t raise no fool. Fin.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

Comic books and Stephen King. What more could you ask for?
Love,
Jobe

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

 

 

Usually there is a year of downtime in the universe of the series before the characters get into a new adventure of mischief. Ghost Story, by contrast, follows Changes by only moments, in a grand continuation. The readers follow the Ghost of the story as he attempts to solve his own murder, and he entreats the help of all of our usual suspects. I kept wracking my brain, wondering if the ghost is “really dead” or if there would be some time magic hijinks to just rewind the world for an “and then he woke up” effect. And I’m typing this before I’ve reached the end, specifically so I couldn’t accidentally give anything away about the resolution of the story. In addition to the excellent writing you’ve come to expect, spooky book 13 of the Dresden Files departs from the regular Harry-saves-the-day story and shows a lot of the other characters in their own right and/or coming into their own.

There were two things that happened during my reading experience. First, the audiobook that I checked out from the library was narrated by someone other than James Marsters. WHAT?!?!?!? I just could not get over it and I could not get into it! This wasn’t my narrator! You can’t just have someone narrate TWELVE WHOLE BOOKS and then switch. It’s too jarring! Too traumatic! When I searched the web, I found I was not the only one who’d complained. In fact, poor audiobook performer John Glover, whose only crime was not being James Marsters, was the new most hated man on the internet since Jaqen H’gar changed faces on Season 2 of Game of Thrones. (Poor guy.) 30 MOST SHOCKING MOMENTS IN GAME OF THRONES 17. CHANGING FACE

Well I only made it through a disc and a half before I decided I just couldn’t do it, I signed up for a free trial of Audible and listened to it to completion on my phone. (I’ve also been tinkering with ebooks in my iPhone’s Kindle app, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.) The other thing that occurred during my read (and this figuratively never happens) is that I cried. Not gonna lie. The first time Harry and Molly talk, I just couldn’t take it. Now I don’t know if that’s because it was audio instead paper, whether it was because I had earphones in instead of car stereo. All I know is that that scene hit me hard.

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Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

So there’s my August atm, how’s yours?
Love,
Jobe