Tag Archives: Homelessness

Moore, Christopher: Bloodsucking Fiends (Love Story I) (1995)

 

Christopher Moore has writer’s magic. Reading Bloodsucking Fiends was a joy. Words flowed in and around my brain engaging me in his version of San Fransisco.

There are very few things I know about San Fransisco. I have seen its Golden Gate Bridge in movies, Alcatraz is somewhere nearby and it was one of the first places where you could openly hold hands with one of your own gender without getting beaten or killed within the first few minutes. Oh, and the gold rush. Must not forget the gold rush and a couple of tinee tiny fires.

Actually, now that I think about it San Fransisco has been part of several books that I have read, but not until Bloodsucking Fiends did San Fransisco settle in my mind. There were two contributing factors to San Fransisco becoming part of my repertoire. One was The Emperor. The Emperor was the most loveable character of the whole story and I don’t really know why that is. The other factor was Tommy moving from Incontinence, Indiana to San Fransisco. That combination was one of the funniest moments in the story for me. The US being the US I actually wondered if there was a place called Incontinence in Indiana, but looking it up left me empty-handed.

Then we have Jody’s mother. Jody had forgotten to phone her mother the month she became a vampire because Jody had not gotten her period. She would combine the two most unpleasant things in her life to get the unpleasantness over with. Not getting my period ever again is certainly one advantage to becoming a vampire that would appeal to me.

Details like this are some of the many things that made Bloodsucking Fiends as fun as it was. That moment when Tommy walked into the store the first time and owned the Animals. Or the time when Jody decides she has had enough questions and asks Tommy one of her own.

“Men are pigs: Fact or fiction?”

“Fact!” Tommy shouted.

“Correct! You win.” She leaped into his arms and kissed him.

Finally I got to read a story with the kind of romance that I understand. Christopher Moore’s irreverent take on homelessness, gender, stratification, relationships and stalking will probably end up being a repeat read for me.


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Bloodsucking Fiends on Little Brown


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If Asian People Said the Stuff White People Say (Video)

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Fate I (2003)

Path of Fate - Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cover art by Alan Pollack

Magic. Not all fantasy books include magic, but a lot of them do. Path of Fate is definitely about magic. We have the bond between the ahalad-kaaslane, Reisil-Tark’s evolving power and the power of the Patvermese magicians. All of these types of magic come together and open up a discussion about power, politics, gods and responsibility.

My rhetoric question of the day is: If you have power, do you also have a responsibility for how that power is used? Hell, yes!!! But just because you have a theoretical responsibility does not mean that translates into having to answer for your use/abuse in the real world. We all know that. Even I know that and I am not the best person in the world when it comes to paying attention to what goes on around me.

Reisil-Tark’s greatest role in Path of Fate seems to be to put a light to the abuses of power going on in and around Kallas during the story. We join her as her own sense of responsibility grows and embeds itself firmly into her mind and heart. Watching her come to realise that the people around her are not what she had thought/hoped for is an interesting process. It hurts when people we trust betray that trust. More difficult is seeing how we, ourselves, betray the trust of others. Reisil-Tark has to come to terms with that side of herself as well. My experience is that the reality of myself is the most difficult one of face. Being able to say that I screwed up or need to change a part of myself hurts. The pain is in many ways similar to the pain I have experienced whenever there has been need for surgery. This is the kind of pain I am sensing from Reisil when she has to come to terms with herself.

Path of Fate is Reisil-Tark’s story. She is an enjoyable character who does her best to deal with the life she has been given. Finding her strength in a world where she is pretty much alone is a process and we get to follow her on that journey.


Reviews:


  • Series: Path of Fate (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451459504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451459503

Canavan, Trudi: The Magician’s Guild (Black Magician I) (2001)

Magician's Guild - 6 different covers
Various artists for the 6 different covers:
Les Petersen: bottom centre
Steve Stone: top centre
Matt Stawicki: top right

As far as I can tell, The Magician’s Guild has been published in 3 different English dialects and 15 other languages. That is impressive.

My son and I read the UK version of the The Magician’s Guild. As the reader I worked a bit harder with The Magician’s Guild than I have on my last few audio-jobs for my son. As the readee, my son seemed pleased with my job.

Sonea is somewhere around the age of 17 when we meet her. Her mom is dead and her dad has run off. Thankfully, she had her sister’s mother (Jonea) and Jonea’s husband who stepped in to take care of Sonea. They were part of the dwell society and at the point that Sonea’s mother died they lived in the slums. In the time since they managed to make their way into the Outer Circle of Imardin. There the three lived and worked out of a one room flat. Things were looking up for them. Then life did what life does and hit them in the face.

Before the threesome had moved behind the walls of the Outer City The city of Imardin - Trudi Canavan - Magician's GuildSonea was running with one of the gangs (Harrin’s gang) and had learned to pick pockets and steal. Several of the kids in Harrin’s gang are homeless kids who look upon the gang as their home. One of Sonea’s best friends, Cery, is such a kid. His father was killed by the Thieves for breaking trust with them.

Harrin, Cery and Sonea are one half of the equation of The Magician’s Guild. They bring in people to help them, but in essence the story is about them – and especially about Sonea.

The other half, of course, is about the Magician’s Guild. They have the food, the wealth, the king’s approval and magic. Like most privileged people the magicians are comfortable with status quo and reluctant to share their goods with “less worthy people”.

Compared with the rest of the world I am probably somewhere in the top 20% when it comes to privileges (in spite of being a woman). Being a woman lowers me somewhat but this is what I have going for me: I am of Norse blood living in Norway. I have a college degree and am married to a man who has a university degree. He is well-paid. I am not – due to health issues. We live in a country that assures that all of its citizens have free health-care, free education and are assisted if they should fall on hard times. Our home isn’t stylish or up-to-date but it is largish and warm during the winter. We always have plenty to eat. In other words, we have lucked out in the lottery of life.

What this means for me, is that I have to make some kind of effort to keep the other 80% in mind. Then I have to make even more of an effort to try to be of constructive assistance. It would be much more comfortable to pretend that the other 80% did not exist and that I had no responsiblity for the lives of other people on this planet of ours. But I know life is all about luck, nothing more. So I don’t have a choice.

The Magicians are at the point where they are going to be made aware of the dwells as something more than cockroaches to be stepped on once a  year during the Purge. Sonea is the tool to make it so. Discovering that there is one among the dwells whose powers are so strong that these powers have manifested all by themselves is going to change the opinion of some of the Magicians, frighten others and cement the prejudices of the rest.

Good luck, Sonea! You are going to need both it and loads of hard work to even begin to make an imprint in the sceptical attitudes of most of the magicians of the Guild.


Reviews:



Phantastik Award

Winner: Gilde der schwarzen Magier 1: Die Rebellin
Bester internationaler Roman 2007

Tarwater, Tristan J.: Little Girl Lost (Valley of Ten Crescents) (2012)

Little Girl Lost
Book cover design: Christopher Tarwater
Cover artist: Amy Clare Learmonth (she has some incredible illustrations on her site)
Editor: Annetta Ribken

The cover of Little Girl Lost reminds me of the story of The Little Match Girl by HC Andersen (a story that made me bawl when I read it the first time). That look fits the story well as this is a story of orphans and poverty. A very short story. Only 15 pages long.

Tristan J. Tarwater calls Little Girl Lost a prequel to Thieves At Heart. I guess that makes it story no. 0 in the tale of Valley of Ten Crescents.

Tavera is around seven or eight years old when she is sold into service – not for the first time. Such a fate was not unknown (and probably isn’t today) in many parts of the world. Tavera’s previous work had been coal sorting, fruit picking and laundering.

Being an orphan has never been an easy life. Being a “half-breed” (in this case half-elf) seldom helped.

A sense of Hansel and Gretel enters the story when the ancient, hunched over crone, Mrs. Greswin, pokes a finger in Tavera’s ribs and states that she’ll soon have Tavera fattened up. Yikes, what does this sausage maker put into her sausages?

Like all children, at least I was, Tavera is curious and when Mrs. Creswin is drunk enough Tavera explores as much as she can and discovers surprising facts about the old lady, gets into trouble, and sometimes discovers secrets better left alone. As it is a prequel, you all know this story is going to end well for Tavera. Well, kind of.

I enjoyed this little tale that only took a short, short while to read.


Reviews:


Hoyt, Sarah A.: Draw One in the Dark (Shifter) (2006)

Draw One in the Dark
Cover art by Veronica Casas

Draw One in the Dark made me think about what it must be like to be a foster-kid and a homeless kid in the US. I haven’t been a foster-kid anywhere. Nor have I worked with foster-children and am therefore unqualified to speak about its reality. But I have wondered what it must be like. That and being homeless. I’ve read books and articles about both but that doesn’t show me the way the minds of people who have been in the foster-system and living on the street work. How would this affect a person’s ability to deal with situations? Let’s say you throw in being a shape-shifter on top of that. And on top of that you aren’t really sure if you are a shape-shifter or if you are just having psychotic episodes that leave you covered in blood every once in a while.

This is the point that Kyrie Smith and Tom Ormson are both at when Draw One in the Dark begins. Some months after meeting each other they both receive revelations about their nature and are thrown together into one dangerous situation after the other. This means that life becomes even more chaotic for the two of them but they soldier on as best they can.

That tells me something about resilience. For regular people soldiering on can be difficult enough but for kids with an atypical background soldiering on must be even more of a struggle.

To my way of thinking Draw One in the Dark is partly about resilience and partly about bravery. It is also about messed up people making messed up decisions and living with the consequences of those. Trying to make amends as best we can is one of life’s major lessons. What has been done can never be fixed, but maybe/hopefully some of the pain we inflict can be lessened.

Draw One in the Dark is an easy to read young adult urban fantasy novel that is of pretty average quality. But it spoke to me and helped me clear up a couple of things in my head. Oh, and I really liked the cover art (roar, my name is dragon).


Reviews:


  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; First Edition edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416520929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416520924
  • Shop: Amazon (US)

Moore, Mary C.: The Shadow Killer (2011)

Shadow Killer
Cover art by

The Shadow Killer is only 10 pages long, but Mary C. Moore manages to fill those ten pages with so much sadness and hope that it made me want to weep.

Being homeless must suck in a major way. There are no safe places for you. Anywhere you lay down you risk being chased from. Others treat you as if you are invisible and those who do see you often look at you as if you are trash whose only function in life is to be stepped on.

“The girl is tired. She is more than tired; she is bone-weary exhausted. The only sleep she has had in the past few months is what she could catch while the sun was high in the sky. Only then could she risk curling in a ball on the unforgiving cement to sleep. She cannot try to find a place at night, she cannot go to a shelter, she cannot sleep without the sun because …

Because, every night the goblins come for her. The goblins are hunting, and she is their prey. She doesn’t know how or why, but she does know when. A black mass that seems to be nothing but nails and teeth follows her. Gibbering, drooling, hissing, they hunt her when the shadows become long.

She cannot sleep without the sun.”

Reading these paragraphs made me want to cry. The whole beginning of this short story made me want to cry. I know this tiredness. I know this fear. My goblins may have looked human but that was only skin-deep. Thankfully, this story like my own carries with it a lot of hope.

Dark fantasy like The Shadow Killer makes a difference in how life can be perceived. Hail to Mary C. Moore for writing fantasy in a manner that neither preaches nor gives easy solutions. Dark fantasy rules!


  • File Size: 151 KB
  • Print Length: 8 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007NU5KVE

Guon, Ellen: Bedlam Boyz (Urban Elves) (1993)

Bedlam Boyz
Cover artists C.W. Kelly and Larry Dixon

There seem to be pirat copies of the digital version around – according to the author. Amazon has taken their copy off the air.

The Urban Elves series is a sub-series to the Elves on the Road Universe an urban fantasy universe depicting the interaction between the human and the elven world adding in a bit of diesel/gas.

As far as I can see Ellen Guon (Beeman) has written three novels: two in collaboration with Mercedes Lackey and the Bedlam Boyz on her own.

Bedlam Boyz is a stand-alone novel set in Los Angeles. It is about getting the surprise of your life and how that surprise changes your life. In a life-threatening situation Kayla discovers she has the power to heal.

A talent like that is bound to bring a lot of attention. Not all of that attention is positive. In fact most of the attention Kayla garners because of her ability to heal is quite negative. Gangs, elves and social workers all want a piece of her and only one of the parties wants to help Kayla get a better life.

Bedlam Boyz was a fairly good novel. It seemed believable when it came to the fate of Liane. I imagine that to be the fate of quite a few homeless kids. Kayla’s fears are also believable and her confusion about her talent seems natural. I imagine there are police officers and social workers who care about the homeless kids the way a couple of the characters in the novel did.

I liked it. It wasn’t great but it did entertain me enough to keep me reading to the end. With a bit more editing it would have been a much better read.


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