Category Archives: Reading together

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Fury (Chronicles of Elantra IV) (2011)

In our case, my reading to my dyslexic child makes the world of words more accessible to her while also giving us the opportunity to cuddle. But needing to be read to is NOT a prerequisite for reading together. Stories like Cast in Fury are wonderful reading out loud stories because there is so much dialogue. That means that I can shout, whisper, and bring humour to my voice. Fortunately, my daughter still enjoys my voice. We had fun and precious together time, something I am not usually very good at.

I adore Merrin. She is what I would have liked to have been. But I would go insane in the chaos of an orphanage. Having two children of my own has been difficult enough. The other thing she does, that I would also like to be able to do, is to accept any person (no matter breed) as long as they are kind to her children.

I fear I am more like Kaylin. My daughter and I laugh at her attention span. Do we ever recognize ourselves in that. Kaylin’s attention span and her bluntness. Autists aren’t famed for being great liars (although some of us are able to lie). Nor is Kaylin. If anything, she if known for the opposite. These traits bring her into trouble with her teachers and friends, but they are also the traits that keep her going as she searches for a truth she can live with. Truth is strange that way. Depending on who I speak with or what I read, ideas of what truth is and must be varies. Kaylin’s greatest truth is that all children have the potential for “good” or “bad” deeds. Only time will prove what they prefer.

Cast in Fury is in part about the child that Kaylin claims as her own. She was there at his birth and licked some of his birthing fluids off his eyelids (not my kind of thing). That makes her part-mother according the laws of the Pridlea, and Kaylin uses any tool at her disposal to save a child she has met. The little dude is one lucky boy to have Kaylin on his side. Without her, he would be a dead little Leontine cub according to Caste laws. That a child might need killing in order to protect a group from something is not a new phenomenon. Nor do I expect it to become an extinct practice. Killing this Leontine baby is the only wise thing to do according to Leontine tradition and lore. Not only Kaylin is in trouble for trying to save the Leontine cub. Her sergeant, Marcus Kassan, is awaiting his trial for murder because of that same cub.

We had fun reading together. Recommended (both reading together and the story).


Reviews:


Cast in Fury available at Scribd

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Secret (Chronicles of Elantra III)

Once again, my son and I have finished reading a book together. He enjoyed the first two books of the Chronicles of Elantra, which is why we just finished the third one, Cast in Secret. My son’s conclusion about Cast in Secret was to get me to begin reading the next in line. He laughed a couple of times, giggled some and seemed touched by certain parts of the story. I had similar feelings in about the same places of the story as he did.

Kaylin’s attention deficit disorder is a good thing for us, the readers. This way Sagara has an excuse to introduce us to concepts Kaylin missed in class. Even though Kaylin knows she needs to learn certain principles about magic and ought to know more about racial relationships in Elantra, she seems to struggle with the same inability to pay attention to subjects she considers irrelevant to her job as I do. In social settings this proves a problem for her, and Lord Sanabalis is clear on her being a long way from ready to meet the Emperor (unless she wishes to be eaten). Some people need to learn from experience rather than theory (well, actually, I think that most of us only get true learning through experience). Kaylin needs this more than most people. This inability to learn any other way tends to get her into trouble.

I like Michelle Sagara writing about a person like this. With one dyslexic son, one autistic son and one autistic mother in this family, we are all stuck in that mode. My reading ability, age and gender have probably all contributed to the theoretical understanding I have of people. Face to face encounters can go really well, but like Kaylin I tend to break social rules. Admittedly, some of that disobedience comes from not seeing the importance of the rules, but there again Kaylin, I and both of my sons find common ground. Other rules are broken because we do not understand them.

Words. Such a powerful tool. And what a difficult tool it is to wield. Sagara does a great job portraying the difficulties that arise from not understanding what is being taught. Kaylin has a theoretical understanding of what the Tha’laani are, but she is petrified of them. Her terror is a common one in humanity – fear of the unknown. In this sense, all humans are autistic. But just because a race is physically able to read your secrets, does not mean that they want to. Unfortunately, we humans seem wired to think that if a person is born a certain way, then that means that they wish to wield that “power” over you. We seldom stop to think that the other person might be just as afraid of us, disgusted with us or simply does not care about who and what we are. I suppose that comes from our ego-centrism.

Thankfully, Kaylin is also the kind of person who tries her hardest to face her fears. Facing our fears is so stinking hard. But sometimes a situation arises that forces us to do so. And what do we usually discover? Well … The answer is given considering the story and the obviousness of the question. In Kaylin’s case, the Tha’laani children helped her face and overcome her fears . Children are great fear-breakers that way – if we let them be.

Definitely recommended.

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Reviews:

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Cast in Secret available at Scribd.com

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My review of:

  1. Cast in Shadow
  2. Cast in Courtlight

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Translations:

Le secret d’Elantra: T1 – Le Cycle d’Elantra

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Courtlight (Chronicles of Elantra II) (2006)

My son and I just finished reading Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara.

Sometimes reading out loud is made difficult by the author. Certain bits  of Cast in Courtlight brought a “crying pain” to my chest and throat. Thankfully, I had reread Cast in Courtlight to myself ahead of getting to that part with my son, so I made it through. He did not.

Growing up hurts. Much of that pain comes from needing to change your point of view. Letting go of what you thought was truth takes courage. Courage to change often takes time and insight. Some of our memories are of the kind we would like to forget. If we were given the choice,  would we actually choose to forget? I used to think I would have dumped some of my memories if asked. Kaylin and Severn are apparently offered that option at one point of the story. What they see, experience and choose there, changes both of them.

Kaylin and Severn are two characters that have snuck into my heart. Their friendship has survived pain of the kind that few friendships can survive. At first it was the pain childhood in the fiefs brings. Later that changed into something darker. At this point of their lives their pain, once again, becomes shared and therefore somehow more bearable.

Living in the High Halls of the Barrani is not something I would like to do. Except in their bath/swim room. I wouldn’t mind living in that. Kaylin seemed to enjoy that part of the Halls as well. Other parts of the High Halls she found rather nerve-wracking. Some of the Barrani also got on her nerves. Lord Evarrim was one of them. She and Evarrim met in Cast in Shadow and their meeting was memorable. Kaylin managed to shock him then and she shocks Lord Evarrim now. Good for Kaylin.

I like Kaylin’s resilience. Severn’s is of a kind that I respect as well. But it is Kaylin’s head we get inside of. Well, actually it is Sagara’s imagination we get inside of, and I am having great fun with that imagination. Being able to share her fantasies with my son is an awesome gift Sagara has given me.


Reviews:


Cast in Courtlight available on Amazon •  ChaptersBorders •  IndieboundBooks A Million •  B & N •  Powell’s • Book Depository • Vroman’s


My reviews of:

Sagara, Michelle: Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra I) (2005)

 

My son and I just finished reading Michelle Sagara‘s Cast in Shadow. Reading Michelle Sagara’s writing out loud is a completely different experience to the one we have had reading together lately. She has a lot more dialogue and Cast in Shadow reads more like a play than a novel. Realizing this has made me even more aware of the importance of reading my own posts before I put them on my blog.

… she added softly, remembering. The way they had huddled together in a room that was warm because it was small and it held so many of them. The way Jade had come to her side, had put a skeletal arm around her, …

Poverty stinks. There is the physical stink that comes from not being able to afford all of the things a lot of people (myself included) take for granted. Even stinkier is the unfairness of it all.

When Kaylin at the age of 13 moves out of the fiefs and becomes a hawk, one of the first things she notices is how different the two sides of the river are. Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there is crime (hence the Hawks, Swords and Wolves). Yes, there is inequality. But in the fiefs life was worse to such a degree that we might compare the fiefs with the slums anywhere in the world. The other side of the Ablyn would be more like Norway.

Moving from the fiefs (in her case Nightshade’s) to the Emperor’s side of the Ablyn is no simple matter. In Kaylin’s case she was helped/hindered by the magical marks that appeared on her arms at a younger age. The decision was to either kill her or to let her be under control of the Hawks. The Hawklord felt she deserved a chance to prove herself, now that the danger seemed to be over. Kaylin’s marks represent a danger to both Elantra and the fiefs if the process that was once begun is completed. (Hah, hah not going to tell you more about that).

Because I am practically 50 and perhaps because I happen to be autistical I understand the choice Severn made seven years ago. Kaylin’s rage/sorrow/hatred against him is also something I understand. Now that she is 20 rather than 13 she slowly begins to see Severn’s role in another light.

I also get why Kaylin was so pampered by the Hawks. She was 13 when she was allowed life and given the position of maskot and private. With the immortal Barrani she will always be a child age-wise although her knowledge and understanding has increased. Marcus, the Leontine, loves her dearly because of what she did for one of his wives. The same goes for the Aerians. You see, Kaylin has decided that she needs to use her magic for certain things.

Even though reading out loud was more difficult this time, Kaylin, Severn and Nightshade all captured my heart. My son must have felt the same way for he has stated that he wants to hear book number two of the series: Caught in Courtlight.


Reviews:


Cast in Shadow on Amazon •  ChaptersBorders •  Indiebound
Books A Million •  B & N •  Powell’s • Book Depository • Vroman’s

Ebook on Amazon • B&N  • Kobo • iTunes US/CA/UK / AUSony • OmniLit • GoogleDiesel

Audiobook on Audible US • iTunes US / CA

Britain, Kristen: Mirror Sight (Green Rider V) (2014)

My son and I managed to finish Mirror Sight just in time. We are entering a new phase in our lives with him going off to college. Hopefully this will not be our last story to be read together. Hopefully this isn’t the last book of the Green Rider series either. It did have a sense of closure to it. Except maybe not.

Once again we have enjoyed ourselves immensely. Kristen Britain‘s writing lends itself to being read aloud, something I wish all writers could learn from. She did throw in a couple of tongue-twisters this time but I consider that a chance to laugh together and good practice in getting my mouth around new sounds. Anyways, excellent writing from the oral point of view.

On to content. Let’s take my son first. He loved this story about Karigan and her journey into the future. When Blackveil ended with Karigan trapped in the sarcophagus, my son wanted to write Kristen an extremely irate letter stating how cruel he thought she was toward him as a reader. Not so this time. He seemed to enjoy himself very much. There were a couple of spots that both he and I found funny. One was when the professor caught Cade and Karigan fighting. We also very much enjoyed the interactions between Miriam and Karigan and the meeting of the Riders underneath the glass ceiling. Another funny incident was the table Cade, Karigan and Silk were sitting at during Silk’s evening of entertainment. Neither of us enjoyed the way Stirling treated Cade nor the way he and others had treated Yolandhe. But we found Silk’s animal encounter in the museum satisfying and also Yolandhe’s way of getting back at both Silk Sr. and Stirling. Very satisfying. He was impressed with Ms. Britain’s background information at the end of the book about her time as a guide. We are both people who like details like that. When we were finished my son wanted me to find out if there was to be another book in the series.

In the past I used to ask myself a lot of “What if?” questions. Perhaps all of us do. Kristen Britain must have done so herself at times, as Mirror Sight is very much about what could be given certain choices or events. While we never discover what could have happened in real life, Karigan has the chance to see what might be if certain events take place. The future she lands in isn’t a pleasant one but in many ways it reminds me of the one many of us live in.

Sometimes I wonder if we humans see how destructive we are with our inventive abilities. While all species on this planet consume and procreate without a thought for balance, we seem to have taken things up several levels from the other races inhabiting earth. In that sense Karigan’s future is very similar to our own present.

Women’s place in society had been extremely curtailed in the time Karigan landed. Karigan’s real time seems somewhat like my own space in time and the opportunities women have here in Norway. The future she lands in is much more like the lives that women of Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman, Quatar and so on are living. In Mirror Sight their only role is to bear children (sons) and be property. Servants are somewhat freer (but way poorer) and slaves, well they are slaves and treated as such. I believe my reaction to suddenly having to live a life like that would be much like Karigan’s to having to adjust to her experience. But in addition to having to adjust to being a woman in such a place, Karigan has to figure out a way to get back to her own time. Britain hasn’t made life any simpler for Karigan by doing this to her main character.

Oppression is very much a part of the life Karigan lands in. Eastern Germany, the Soviet Union, Russia today, Egypt and increasingly the US are only some countries that come to mind when the propaganda of the government and the curtailing of people’s rights of Karigan’s future are shown.

As entertainment Mirror Sight is a wonder. From her first story about Karigan G’ladheon, I have been enchanted with Kristen Britain’s writing and was happy when my son shared my enjoyment. These are fun, interesting, informative stories that help me question my own version of truth.


Reviews:


Mirror Sight available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Penguin

Available in audio at: audible, iTunes


My reviews of:

  1. Green Rider
  2. First Rider’s Call
  3. The High King’s Tomb
  4. Blackveil

Lindskold, Jane: Wolf’s Blood (Firekeeper Sage VI) (2007)

wolf's blood
Cover art by Julie Bell

I really am an airhead. I managed to press publish before anything had been written. Sorry if that confused you all. Here is the “real” version of my review.

I hadn’t bought this last installment of the Firekeeper Saga until my son asked me to. We had read the previous five novels together and he really wanted to know how it was all going to end. Reading together is an experience more people should be able to enjoy. As I have said before, this is one of the major advantages to having a child with dyslexia.

Jane Lindskold made Wolf’s Blood as much fun to read out loud as she had made the other five. Her language is intelligent and her vocabulary varied. Again I found myself forgetting to follow the plot as I got so caught up in the intense experience of tasting Lindskold’s prose. That didn’t really matter because I had cheated and read through the novel on my own before reading it to my son.

One thing I have wondered is how the Firekeeper Saga can appeal to both an eighteen-year old and a 48-year-old at the same time. What is it about these characters that the two of us find so fascinating?

Firekeeper and Blindseer

Part of it most definitely has to do with Firekeeper and Blind Seer. The whole idea of our wolf-girl trying to find her place in human society and making sense of us all works for us. That Firekeeper often finds herself flummoxed by human society is understandable. All of our various religions and political views are confusing and usually you have to be an insider to understand all of the unwritten codes that rule us. She is an alien and will remain an alien for the rest of her life. But Firekeeper is an alien with a foot in human society and with people who love her and Blind Seer to bits.

I’ve been trying to figure out how Firekeeper was changed by querinalo. In Wolf Hunting we see that something did happen to her. My personal belief is that she became even more firmly a wolf in her heart and head because of her chant during her fever. Blind Seer probably did not change much as he beat the crap out of the source of the illness, but his view of himself changed drastically. Having come from a people who hated magic fiercely would make his adjustment to the “new” him a challenge.

Derian

Derian_and_Eshinarvash_by_Fortunes_Favor (1)
Derian and Eshinarvash by Fortunes Favor

Derian’s change was a bit more visible. This portrait of Derian with Eshinarvash by FortunesFavor shows how he has become a bit more horselike. His ears and forelock are especially telling. Derian struggles terribly to accept his new looks. His greatest fear is how his family will perceive him now that he “looks like a horse”. I would freak out myself if I woke up after an illness and discovered my face and outer extremities had metamorphosed into a blend of human and animal.

Derian also, quite understandably, worries about what women will think of him. Looking past our exteriors seems to be a challenge for a lot of us (myself included). It’s so easy to get hung up in insignificant details all the while forgetting about the significant ones (like personality and temperament). As the saying goes, where there is life there is hope. For Derian this is true (as you will see for yourself when you read Wolf’s Blood).

Perspective

Lindskold presents things from various points of view. Being on the spectrum makes this doubly important to me. I have learned much reading authors like Lindskold. She, too, has been part of a teaching staff who have all helped me understand people.  Perspective changes good guys to bad and vice versa. If there is one thing I have learned in this life of mine, it is that perspective matters.

Enemies

War is a strange thing. King Bryessidan and his compatriots’ desire to take over the gates makes perfect sense. They had convinced themselves that they were being slighted and hindered in their “noble” purpose. Therefore they were justified in planning and executing an attack against the Nexus Islands. Seen from the Nexans’ side that is an erroneous argument, but to the winner goes  the writing of history.

I also found myself understanding Virim. What he did was a terrible thing, but he never intended for querinalo to be so bad. But when it was he took advantage of it and found it difficult to let go of the apparent advantages to its system.

The ending was good. I knew this would be the result, but it needed saying and happening.

Jane Lindskold has been a pleasure to read with my son. The Firekeeper Saga kept him asking for more. Being the fantasy nut that I am, it is a pleasure whenever my sons enjoy the same literature I have enjoyed.


Reviews:


  • Series: Wolf (Book 6)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (January 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765353741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765353740

My review of:

Lindskold, Jane: Wolf Hunting (Firekeeper Saga V) (2006)

WolfHuntingJB
Cover artist Julie Bell
My favorite Firekeeper cover

When Jane Lindskold got Julie Bell to do the covers for the Firekeeper saga she made the best choice possible. Julie Bell’s wolves and people are incredible (see link above). If you have the chance, you should check out her artwork.

Once again my son and I read about Firekeeper together and once again we were richer for it. I believe this is the only advantage to having a child with a serious case of dyslexia. In spite of his age we get to sit side by side enjoying a story that takes us a to place out of time and away from our world. Both of us have Firekeeper and Blind Seer as our favorite characters. Part of that is due to the kind of fatalism on their part that comes from having to fight for survival since childhood. I believe it also comes from the love that Firekeeper and Blind Seer have for each other.

Another thing that makes the pair my favorite is that they follow their hearts no matter where that might take them. If they feel something is the right thing to do, then they will do it. As they become acquainted with the Meddler they find themselves struggling to discern between what is the influence of the Meddler and what they truly feel is right.

I guess I kind of understand the Meddler’s motives. He is a self-righteous git who takes no responsibility for the consequences of his actions but is convinced that his intentions were all that mattered. The Meddler himself considers Firekeeper a natural born meddler, but the main difference between him and Firekeeper is Firekeeper’s willingness to bear the responsibility for the consequences of whatever actions she might have taken (without putting on a self-righteous mien).

Poor Derian. He is back in Liglim as an ambassador’s assistant and still heart-sore from his short but intense relationship with Rahniseeta in Wolf Captured. My heart warms at the strength of his character. He has had Firekeeper’s back many times during the past five years and will need to rise to the occasion once again. Derian, Firekeeper and Blind Seer are naturals for the quest that is inspired by the Meddler. Along come Truth, the jaguar, and Harjeedian.

Harjeedian is the guy that kidnapped Derian, Firekeeper and Blind Seer in Wolf Captured. He is the human diplomat for the Liglim on the journey. Truth is a divining jaguar who has gone in an out of insanity. In spite of having a shaky hold on reality Truth needs to come along. So does Plik, Bitter, Lovable and Eshinarvash (the wise horse). A strange troupe for sure, but one that represents most of the groups that the gang know of.

Bitter_and_Lovable_by_Fortunes_Favor
Bitter and Lovable by Fortunes Favor

In the above portrait by FortunesFavor Bitter and Lovable are heartwarmingly portrayed. Lovable is as her name states Lovable and in love with shiny things. At first she might come across as your regular ditzy “blonde”, and she is that too. But she is most of all bright and loving. We get to see just how close she and Bitter are in Wolf Hunting when the couple meets up with an incredibly dangerous hunter. Firekeeper and Blindseer love the couple’s wit and courage and deviousness. The two end up being essential to saving Truth and also essential to the well-being of the group that ends up chasing after one of Meddler’s meddlings.

More_Plik_by_SecndLogic
Plik as drawn by Secnd Logic (JRY)

This portrayal of Plik, the maimalodalum that ends up going with the gang to find the twins, shows a version that I agree with. He looks so innocent, but like all innocent-looking raccoons, Plik has another more violent side. As he is maimalodalum that means that there is quite a bit of human in him and we get to see this fairly well. Derian’s first reaction upon seeing Plik is – well I’m sure you can guess. But as time passes Derian sees Plik more and more as the individual that he is rather than the oddity that maimalodali are.

Eshinarvash, the wise horse, first appeared in Wolf Captured. He has chosen to come along as a horse herder and also as a companion to the others. Derian and he develop a close relationship that will come in handy as the story follows the path of Lindskold’s imagination.

These are the main characters of Wolf Hunting. As you see some of them are more unusual than others. But that is the nature of Wise Beasts/Royal Beasts and nutty spirits. I hope you find as much enjoyment with this tale as my son and I did.


Reviews:



My reviews of :