Book Talk: The Poppet and the Lune

Posted May 24, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


OuaT7 read again! It’s such a sweet piece. It falls under fairytale for me because of how strongly it’s a modern fairytale. (That comment will make sense once you’ve read it.)

The Poppet and the Lune by Madeline Claire Franklin

Cover for The Poppet and the Lune by Madeline Claire FranklinN.B. This refers to the original 2011 Smashwords release. Hopefully, the 2013 version recently uploaded tackles the grammar and proofreading issues I had.

I loved the ideas of ‘The Poppet and the Lune’, but the execution needed a /lot/ of work. I started skimming because of the sheer amount of telling and the need for proofreading. The proofreading issues were relatively small things that quite a few people would probably just read over without noticing them, but combined with how much telling there was in this book it made for a frustrating read. I almost abandoned it every single time I put it down (and quite a few times in between), but I stuck with it and I’m glad I did.

‘The Poppet and the Lune’ is a fairytale. It’s absolutely adorable and heart-warming. The titular characters are a girl stitched together by moonlight and a werewolf. The girl is created after a great tragedy strikes a village and kills all the children. The good-hearted witch promises them she can make a new child from all the others, but she dies before she can complete the spell. Time passes and the poppet/patchwork girl decides to leave the village to find her own way in life. Along the way she meets a wolf, who isn’t who he appears to be, and several other creatures, all of whom want something of her.

It’s a coming-of-age story and one of self-discovery. It touches on the meaning of (human) emotion as the patchwork girl tries to find herself. It’s about the power of names and the way people interact with one another. It’s about being true to yourself and the choices we make. It’s a fairytale that doesn’t, quite, follow the rules of fairytales and that works in its favour. The narrative is that of a storyteller which highlights the way the story itself is also about the stories: the ones we tell ourselves, the ones we tell others, and the ones we come to believe and how those stories affect us.

It’s also a love story and a story about happy endings. The poppet and the wereman (yep, there’s a reason I’m not giving names) are both intriguing characters and they complement each other well. Watching them navigate the world they’re in, getting to know themselves and each other was a treat. The little glimpses we get shown of their relationship and the world-building are what kept me reading in the end. It’s a sweet, little story.


Book Talk: Frisland Stories

Posted May 21, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


Firmly within the folktale category of OuaT7.

Frisland Stories: Eleven Tales of Folk Magic by Niko Silvester

Cover for Frisland Stories by Niko Silvester These eleven stories are all tied together through more than just place. I wasn’t really expecting that, I admit. The characters weave in and out of each other’s stories in fascinating ways. The writing itself could use a little polish. The voice isn’t as strong as it could be, tenses weren’t handled as well as they could have been, and the sense of place could have been firmer. I was so sad that it didn’t entirely convince me because there are so many brief flashes where it took my breath away with how well they were done.

Anyway! The stories themselves were lovely. They’re a mingling of tales I know and tales I didn’t, presumably because they’re unique to Frisland/Silvester. I have a soft spot for folktales retold this way, to see how they spin out within a vastly different culture and yet remain familiar too. They play with your expectations too.

The stories themselves are varied, dealing with friendship, love, greed, magic, longing, belonging, grieving… I loved the connections between all the stories. Sometimes it was just someone getting mentioned and other times it was someone showing up briefly or playing a more active role. Andry, a young boy we meet briefly in the first story, later gets a tale of his own. The dragon gets seen again. Etc. There is no overarching plot line — it didn’t even feel like the stories were entirely chronologically ordered — but there’s still… something that speaks of progress and growth throughout the collection. It was a delightful read!


Book Talk: Myth, Magic and Glitter & Winged Things

Posted May 19, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


OuaT short story collection reading FTW! These two count towards myths and/or folklore and/or fantasy, take your pick.

Myth, Magic and Glitter by Sarah Diemer and Jennifer Diemer

Cover for Myth, Magic and Glitter by Sarah and Jennifer DiemerThis is the second-latest (as of this writing) magazine instalment of the Diemers’ Project Unicorn. It’s their best yet! I /loved/ these stories and couldn’t pick you a favourite if you forced me to. They were all phenomenal. These stories all take on existing myths (something the Diemers have a strong record with) from various cultures. So far, the Diemers have stuck fairly close to western myths and fairytales in their retellings, but this sees them branch out into a few other cultures as well.

There’s “A Myth of Ashes” which cleverly combines Cinderella with an even older myth, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. You’ll probably pick up on it quite quickly when you start reading, but I think it’s the more powerful because of that. There’s “When Thou Wakest” which is as much scifi as it is fantasy and a strong take on origin myths in general. There’s “Even in Another Time” which I wished tied the storylines a little more tightly together because I would have loved it even more. There’s “Phasma” which it would not surprise me in the least to learn it was inspired at least partially by Tam Lin. There’s “True if by Sea” which is their first venture into a trans* story and may be one of my favourites for the sheer amount of hope and love in it. There’s “Speak of the Devil” which is a darker tale, a poem rather, about the Jersey Devil. It’s not at all what you might expect. It’s also easily the darkest of the stories in the volume and it feels a tad out of place because of that, but it’s still a good tale.

There are more tales and most of these are freely available on their website if you want to try them before you buy, but they’re worth every penny. I loved this little collection and I look forward to their next works!

Winged Things by Jennifer Diemer and Sarah Diemer

Cover for Winged Things by Jennifer Diemer and Sarah Diemer This is the latest (as of this writing) magazine instalment of the Diemers’ Project Unicorn, and it follows up the quality that they delivered in ‘Myth, Magic and Glitter’. Some of these stories see the return of an issue I had with earlier volumes in that the stories don’t feel finished. For example ‘Aphrodite Has a Daughter’ is over before its plot even has a chance to start properly. This makes sense when you know it’s an introduction to a novel-to-be (as I did), but might make a reader feel cheated if they didn’t know. Sometimes I felt like the stories could have benefitted from a little more length to introduce elements more strongly, such as in ‘Flower Constancy’ where the ending felt a little too abrupt.

Largely, these stories weren’t what I was expecting and that probably does bias me a little because it means I never enjoyed this as much as I was hoping I would. It also means every story surprised me, though, because none of these stories ever went where I was expecting them to go. I loved that. I enjoyed these. It’s an odd mixture of the quality of ‘Myth, Magic and Glitter’ with some of the lack-of-polish from the first few volumes.

My favourite is probably either ‘Solitary Birds’ by Jennifer or ‘Unwanted Things’ by Sarah, with a close third runner-up being ‘The Bee Telling’ (again by Sarah). These were the stand-out pieces for me. ‘Solitary Birds’ was beautiful. It ended at just the right spot for me to want to shout “But you can’t end it there! The story’s not over yet!” except that I /know/ that’s not true. It’s a perfect ending spot for a short story. And it doesn’t spell everything out and the descriptions of Emerald are wonderful and the communication barrier… It was lovely. ‘Unwanted Things’ manages to carry a strong environmental message as well as everything else. I quite liked these fairies (well, this fairy) and I /loved/ the concept! And ‘The Bee Telling’ is so sad. But I do so want to learn more about this world and the philosophies behind bee telling.

Lovely collection, as always.


Book Talk: The Bard’s Daughter

Posted May 17, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


Whoot! I read books! Actually, I’ve been reading a fair few books and stories, but I haven’t really been talking about them much. When I gave up on book blogging, I did so partially because I’d burned out on it. I picked it up again because I thought I’d rested and healed enough. I thought I’d figured out what had caused my to burn out on it and could handle it if I just made changes. Turns out I was wrong about that. I’ve been book blogging again since March and it’s already left me back at the point where I was when I quit initially. Clearly, more things need to change. I’m not quite sure how to do that yet, but we’ll see. For now, I’m catching up on the burbles I’ve written and not yet shared and scheduling them all in advance. Maybe I’ll have a new system by then, maybe I won’t. We’ll see.

(Yes, I still want to do the The Last Unicorn read-along, have no fear, people whom I’ve rambled at about it! I will still be doing that come June/July somewhere. I just need to pick a date, cut the questions down to a more manageable level, spruce up the questions so they make sense to people who are not me and are reasonably intelligent questions to ask, and figure out how to tackle promo banners because I have none.)

And now, without further ado! The actual review I promised in the title!

The Bard’s Daughter by Sarah Woodbury

Cover for The Bard's Daughter by Sarah Woodbury

I’m very tempted to describe this as a cosy mystery. I don’t read pure mystery too often, so I don’t know if people who do feel it fits there, but it was a very cosy read and a mystery, so. Cosy mystery. The book is a prequel to Woodbury’s Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries, which I haven’t yet read. I picked this up in the hope that it would be a good introduction to the world and Woodbury’s style. I’m definitely interested in reading more! I really enjoyed this.

The story itself isn’t… very meaty, I suppose is a good way to describe it? It’s comfortable it doesn’t twist and turn too much. It’s not necessarily predictable, but neither is it very surprising. Gareth doesn’t actually show up in this story. He gets mentioned as he and Gwen have a past (and it sets up part of the reason I’m interested in reading on: how will these two meet up again and what happens after that?), but it’s largely a story of Gwen’s origins. This is the story of how Gwen became a medieval sleuth, if you want the simplest way to describe the plot.

Gwen is a young woman in medieval Wales, who’s spent her life travelling with her father and brother, following the music. When her father is accused of murdering a man, Gwen doesn’t believe the accusation and sets about to prove that he’s innocent. Before her father is facing execution (something that shocks quite a few people because it’s a foreign law), Gwen has no real thought or idea about what she wants to do with her life. She’s still unmarried and she has no real trade to speak of, despite people having urged her to find one. Facing her father’s execution, she’s forced to do an awful lot of growing up in just a handful of days and figure out who she is and what she wants in life.

The historical details aren’t ones I can vouch for in terms of accuracy, but they work well within the story that Woodbury is telling. There’s a strong sense of societal upheaval and change in this short novella and it’s a fascinating look in what changes in government might mean for a society.

I look forward to exploring more of Woodbury’s work!


Book spine shenanigans

Posted May 6, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Daily Life. The text 'Lynn's Living Life' underneath the cameo silhouette of a woman. Daily life updates.

The last time I did a book spine meme, I came up with a grammatically correct sentence that was something like seventeen books long. If I still had the books and/or the photographic evidence I would show you all and prove it, but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about how I was bored tonight and caught in a mood where I did not (still don’t) want to read. (At least the author whose book I’m reading now knows how to use vocative commas. They’re still not hard, people!) Anyway. I was poking about the internet as you do and came across a book spine meme note.

And I thought to myself that it would be an utterly brilliant idea if I, you know, putzed around with my book titles just for the fun of it. Except… Except two things, really, or possibly three depending on how you count:

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April/May 2013 Goals

Posted April 30, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Monthly Goals. The text 'monthly goals' underneath a scroll with a key on it. A look back at my goals of the month.

My April goals were as follows…

I Want to Read:
– Yellow Moon by Jewell Parker Rhodes
– The Various by Steve Augarde
– Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

I Want to Write:
12500 words of fiction

I’ve failed to read Moving Pictures (sadness, but I haven’t really been in a humour read and I read, like, 25 other books), but I did read Yellow Moon and The Various!

And quite against my expectations, I also made my writing goal! (Surpassed it, actually, by about a thousand words.) April started off as an abysmal writing month. I barely wrote anything for the first half, but things picked up in the last week or so. I got 10+K written the past week. I’ll take it any week! Here’s to hoping I’m back on top of things for May!
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Book Talk: Kitty Bennet’s Diary

Posted April 29, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


Look! A not-OuaT read! :O

Kitty Bennet's Diary (Pride & Prejudice Chronicles #3)Kitty Bennet’s Diary by Anna Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer note: Anna is a friend. I have friendship-bias, but she’s simply an amazing storyteller. *heart* Kitty’s diary is the third in a series, but it’s perfectly possible to read it on its own. You’ll be a bit spoiled for the first two and you’ll miss out on the start of Kitty’s character arc, but it functions perfectly well as a stand-alone book. (I dare bet you don’t even have to have read Jane Austen to enjoy this.)

If I have any complaints about this book (and the series as a whole), it’s that it follows the idea that all women NEED a romantic relationship with a man to be fulfilled in life a little more than I’d wanted. That said, the strong points of Anna’s romances is that they are NEVER about the physical. Characters are always draw to one another because of some mental or emotional attraction. The physical is secondary. (Good thing too; I do not get on with romances where the attraction is purely physical.)

And Kitty is a wonderful character. She’s sassy and snarky and sweet with a touch of a temper, and she’s dealing with some pretty dark stuff. (PTSD, if you’re curious.) She’s assertive and yet constrained by the society she lives in. It’s been a delight to read about Kitty’s adventures and friendships. The plot is fast-paced with many a tense moment, but the book is really all about the characters and their relationships together, about friendship and self-discovery. And romance. I mean it IS a romantic story. Of course there’s romance. ^-~

Thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s made me eager to reread the first two in the series.


Readathon! Except unofficially this April

Posted April 28, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


My unofficial readathon was off to a… rather rocky start. We had visitors during the first few hours and then I couldn’t focus on my book or kept getting interrupted.

I interrupted my own reading all the time too, but that was intentional. I am… seriously contemplating running a couple of read-alongs later in the year. I’m still trying to work everything out and settle on dates and questions and ways to manage it. (The one date I’m certain of is an August/September readalong for Seaward by Susan Cooper. That’s roughly when the book is scheduled to get republished, so it makes sense to host the readalong then.)

This is all very scary and feeling like my questions are better suited to a reading guide than a read-along isn’t really helping, but I’m having fun.

Today’s read has been The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It’s a reread and it’s every bit as lovely now as it was when I first encountered the book. I’ll be tackling Seaward tomorrow and hopefully I’ll find it easier to concentrate on all the reading then. And questions. (Oh! If anyone has ideas for questions on either, please do send them my way. I’ll give you credit if I end up using them! Can’t promise that, but…)

Today has also involved attempting to play Trine 2 with my cousin. That game is every bit as hilarious in multiplayer as I’d hoped. Honestly, we’re neither of us great at puzzle solving. I think we spent half an hour trying to make our way through a timing puzzle? A timing puzzle. (Timing and rhythm, I has them not. We finally solved that puzzle by going “You know what? This is a local multiplayer. Let’s just swap controllers so you can get BOTH of our characters across” and lo that solved the timing puzzle.)

And then my BPAL order arrived. Thanks for not telling me, USPS! Turns out ordering several imps at once is a bad idea (even if it’s sound financial sense) because the scents all mix together and oh my head. (I’m fine with perfumes oils individually, but all mixed up that’s a headache waiting to happen.)

Also, readathons apparently make me very chatty? But today has been a pretty decent day all things considered. Now it is time for bed and tomorrow it is time for more reading. I hope to reread Two Hearts and The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon again as well.

And continue my typocatching and polishing, so I can call this tale done before the end of the month. That would be a marvellous way to end the month.


Book Talk: One Saved to the Sea

Posted April 26, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


And a retelling/folktale for Once upon a Time VII. At the end of the month? A statsie round-up!

One Saved to the SeaOne Saved to the Sea by Catt Kingsgrave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My main issue with this book is one of expectations. I’ve seen this lauded for its sense of time and place and… Narratively it could be set on any remote island chain in any time very easily. The dialogue, though, I felt was wonderful and did have the sense of time and place that I was expecting to find everywhere in the book.

Part of the trouble, too, I think, was that I was expecting a novel, not a novella. There isn’t enough space in this word count to give me the narrative sense of time and place that I was expecting and wanted to experience. (Also, Kingsgrave doesn’t quite follow through on the whole legend she’s building on/retelling, which jarred a bit, because the rest of the plot is relatively predictable.)

But those issues aside, this was a wonderful story. The dialogue was evocative and strong. It was a delight to read. The relationship between Mairead and the rest of the islanders was strong, the emotion taut and tangible, the romance believable and oh so wonderful to read. There is some sex, but if, like me, that’s not really your thing, it is skimmable without ruining the plot. There’s actually a lot to love here and I wish it were a full novel with a stronger sense of the setting and Mairead’s relationship with everyone. It’s already so gorgeously wrought. I loved Mairead as a character, her practicality, her quiet strength, her sense of self, and the way she struggled to fit into the society around her as herself.

I’d happily recommend it. It’s a very powerful and engaging tale. I just wish it’d lived up to all of my expectations. It would’ve jumped right up into my list of favourites on a first read.


Book Talk: The Admonishments of Kherishdar

Posted April 19, 2013 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments


The Admonishments of KherishdarThe Admonishments of Kherishdar by M.C.A. Hogarth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These tales, as the title suggests, are darker than ‘The Aphorisms of Kherishdar’ (which you’ll have read first if you’re reading them in order). They’re as subtle, though, and I’m afraid that means the world-building is handled a touch /too/ subtly for me in this. These stories deal with the darker side of Ai-Naidar society, but I never really got a strong enough a feel for the world to be as affected by the tales as I could have been. It suits the tales that are being told, but it doesn’t make for the easiest of immersions.

The prose is as lovely as ever. Hogarth experiments a bit with some of the styles in this story, but they work and enhance the tale that’s being told. The implications of some of these stories are haunting and the order of them is chilling. (Just wait until you reach the last story. *shudder*)

But I feel like this is a collection best, ah, enjoyed (given the topics ‘enjoy’ isn’t the right word, but) once you’ve learned more about Ai-Naidar culture and civilisation than I had. It’s got a /lot/ of potential and it certainly has loads of food for thought, but I never really connected with it the way that I’d wanted to.