Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

When I was much younger, I discovered the science fiction and  fantasy section in my local bookstore, and instantly fell in love. In those books, I discovered characters that I wanted to get to know, worlds I wanted to explore, and quests I felt were worthy to pursue. I read each tale with a sense of wonder. One of my favorite authors was C.J. Cherryh, and her Faded Sun trilogy is still, to this day, one of my all-time favorite series. She built marvelous worlds, to be sure, but she filled her books with complex and compelling people, and when you reached the end of each story, those characters stayed with you, like old friends. And best of all, you ended the book with a sense of hope for their future and a bit of a smile.

Today, I have a harder time reading science fiction and fantasy. It’s grittier, you see, harsher. Some of the worlds are brutal, filled with grimness, darkness, and death. Are they well written? Of course. They tell marvelous stories, and are best sellers, but I can’t read them. I see darkness in the world every day, and so I need to read something with a bit of light to give me hope.

Enter the book, “The Goblin Emperor,” by Katherine Addison. I saw an early blurb about the book, and was intrigued. It sounded like a book from my childhood…and I thought, maybe I’ll give it a chance. And I did. Thank goodness I did; words cannot express how much I enjoyed this book.

Maia is the fourth son of the emperor of an elvish kingdom. Maia, whose mother was a goblin, has been exiled by his father after her death, since the emperor already has three other heirs, all full-blooded elves. Maia’s exile is a harsh thing, for he lives in a barren land and is cared for by a cousin he hates. He is lonely, and strives to endure, until one day a messenger arrives, informing him that his father and brothers have all been killed in an accident; Maia, the half-goblin son, is now the emperor.

As emperor, Maia finds his knowledge severely lacking. He does not know the people of the court, does not know intricacies of the politics he must mediate, and does not know whom to trust. He is as lonely as he was in exile, and strives to endure. But Maia cares more about the people around him than he cares for himself, and demonstrates this time and time again. This, it seems, is a rare quality in elvish emperors. And so, Maia, in spite of himself, begins to change things for the better. Soon, the people around him see him as more than just “the goblin emperor.” They see him as a valued leader, and in some cases, as a friend.

I ended this book with a bit of light to give me hope, and a smile. My hope is that Katherine Addison writes a sequel, and I’ll once again get to spend time with Maia, Cala, Csevet, Beshelar, and all the rest of the marvelous cast. If you read it, I hope you read it with a sense of wonder and a smile. It’s a rare and beautiful book.

The Goblin Emperor, available April 1, 2014, in both hard cover and ebook version.
I received my review copy from Edelweiss @ abovethetreeline.com, but have already pre-ordered the Kindle version of the book to show my support of this wonderful author.

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Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver

Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver

Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver

I love dogs, and I love poems, and I happened across this book quite by accident. When I saw it, I immediately had to snatch it up, and I read it in one day. This was a library copy, and so, after finishing the book, I had to immediately buy a copy for myself. This is a book I will certainly read over and over again.

Mary Oliver is a new poet for me, but she is well-known in the literary world, having won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Her works in “Dog Song” are straight-forward, and at first glance, almost simple. They are not, however, simple in any way. Rather, Mary Oliver communicates the small, every day happenings that give depth to the relationships between dogs and people. And for me, while many of the poems seemed to celebrate what it means to be a dog, I found myself reflecting more on what it means to be a person, and what it means to be me.  This one, for example, reminded me of joy, and how I often forget to appreciate the wonder of each moment:

The Storm (Bear)

Now through the white orchard my little dog
romps, breaking the new snow
with wild feet.

Running here running there, excited,
hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins

until the white snow is written upon
in large, exuberant letters,

a long sentence, expressing
the pleasures of the body in this world.

Oh, I could not have said it better
myself.

Read “Dog Songs.” Even if you are not a dog lover, I promise you will enjoy it. And if you are a dog lover, then, like me, you will certainly read this book more than once.

Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver
Published October 8, 2013
The Penguin Press

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The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh

The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh

The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh

“The Weight of Blood” is a coming-of-age story, one wrapped in mystery and woven together with family ties and truths. Lucy loves her family and friends, but the discovery of a murdered friend’s pendent in an unexpected place causes Lucy to start to question what she really knows about them. Everyone has secrets, she discovers, and perhaps the secrets of those closest to Lucy are darker than most. One of the darkest secrets may involve the disappearance of her mother, Lila, years ago. Will revealing the secret bring her friends and family peace, or destroy them all together?

Two women are missing—one from the past and one from the present. Long ago, Lila Dane went missing; she was last seen running into a local cave carrying a gun. In present day, her daughter Lucy is distraught over the loss of her friend, Cheri, who is found murdered after being missing for a year. When Lucy finds Cheri’s pendant, Lucy starts to ask questions, dangerous questions. As tensions mount, Lucy begins to suspect that Cheri’s murder and her mother’s disappearance are related. The cost of the truth, she realizes, may be more than she is willing to pay.

This novel, set in the town of Henbane in the Ozarks, is a starkly beautiful tale. The author deftly shows us the ties that bind the small community of Henbane together, for better or for worse. She brings the landscape to life so clearly that I could almost hear the buzz of mosquitoes and feel the heat and humidity of a late Southern summer. This is Laura McHugh’s first book, and it is a doozy. I look forward to her next book with great anticipation.

The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh
Forthcoming: March 11, 2014 from Spiegel and Grau

 

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