Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tangential delights--Review of Lauren Skidmore's "What Is Lost."

You know, one of the worst things that I can say at the end of a book is "I didn't see that coming."  I remember co-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Kate and I were on opposite ends of the living room, reading from midnight until 7:50 a.m.) and being slightly exasperated by her frequent jaunts to her bedroom.  She would be checking a reference or revelation against a previous installment of the series.  One of the best "reveals" was when we witnessed a young Severus Snape telling Lily Evans about dementors and finally understood that Petunia's comment about hearing about dementors from "That awful boy" was not a slight against James Potter.

I love a mystery as much as the next person, but I love a mystery with antecedents.  When it gets to the denoument, I expect to be nodding and smiling at the cool logic and clear presentation.  

All of that goes to say that, yes, I quite enjoyed the second book in Lauren's series.  I developed a theory about the ending about 50 pages in and spent the rest of the time finding things to back up my theory or to throw me for a loop.  When it came to the climax and I found myself nodding and smiling and saying, "Of course!  That makes sense!", it was with fondness.  So my first recommendation is that this is a great mystery with an indeterminate audience.

Let me take a moment to talk about the characters.  While I half-expected to see the story of the first book continued, having it told from the point of the antagonist was a master stroke.  It made me question everything that we knew about him from the first book.  I was never quite sure if I liked him--he was a man with good intentions and a really screwy way of working with them--but I never thought of him as an unrealistic character.  

For its subtitle, the Little Red Riding Hood story didn't play as much of a part as I anticipated.  I loved that the Gradmother is a bit of a criminal mastermind and the Wolf reminded me of Ras Al-Ghul at times.  As someone who knows of Lauren's fixation with Japan, I enjoyed seeing this second book set in the culture and some of the customs of that country.  It amused me that every person of consequence in the book seemed to have ninja training, but that again can be attributed to either the Japanese influence or the Ras Al-Ghul factor.

As I recently said to Kate, the highest compliment I can pay this book is "There HAS to be a sequel."  If the story is left there, I will feel cheated and a little bit resentful.  So, until that comes out, please join me in becoming fans of the series.  

Where to find this:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Build-up Binder--An Exercise in Self-Therapy

So, you'll be getting another post soon.  If you remember Lauren Skidmore's wonderful book--What is Hidden--I get to blog-tour the sequel this Sunday.  Stay tuned!

In the mean time, I'll talk about the power of positive thinking.  This isn't something that comes easily to me.  I'm a Bostonian and someone with clinical depression and PTSD.  This often means that I want to punch people in the face when they try to hug out a problem.  I stayed away from a well-meant church activity where someone lectured on happiness.

Counseling and medication could undoubtedly help with this, but right now, I work 40 hours a week take piano lessons, play for choir, teach Sunday School, have season tickets to the Symphony, am training for a 10K...  I have yet to find time since moving to my new town to actually find a therapist, a psychiatrist or a reliable GP who doesn't tell me that if a migraine lasts more than four hours, it's no longer a migraine but a cry for attention.

So, what do I do instead?  To be honest, I bang on the piano a lot.  I run my butt off at the local gym.  I eat too much Mexican food.

Recently, I got a response to Wingspan that I'll talk about more later.  The person greeted me like a friend, called the writing witty and lovely and at one point called the idea genius.  Yes, I've gotten this sort of thing said about fanfic before, but she went into so much detail that I had a hard time not crying because she went into such detail about the characters and plot and intentions that,,,

Well, let me put it this way.  Kate has been contributing ideas and feedback to Wingspan for so long that I feel like Aislin and Maeve are in on our circle of friends.  We have in jokes with them.  We care about what's going on in their lives.  This person, who recently read this unpublished book, made me feel like she's a genuine friend to my characters as well.

What this has to do with my depression is this:  I went to Wal-Mart and got a green binder.  I'm going to print off things that people have written to me that make me feel good about myself and put them in that binder.  In there will be the e-mail from this friend of the series as well as the page where Kate wrote "THIS IS BRILLIANT!" about the Kafka reference three-quarters of the way through the book.  It will include my favorite reviews on fanfics, from the "OH MY GOD!" variations to the ones from my Irish barrister friend.  It will even include funny tweets I've gotten in response to my own tweets.