• Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Shadow

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    Shadow by Amanda Sun

    Shadow is a prequel novella to Amanda’s Paper Gods trilogy. I have read it before, when it first came out, but when I wrestled Storm (the final volume) away from my oldest daughter, I decided I’d like to read the whole set of stories as a single, continuous tale. I don’t do re-reads very often, and I haven’t done a trilogy in one go more than a handful of times as an adult, but I thought I’d like to do real reviews of each story in the sequence, and that makes Shadow a good place to start.

    So, taking it as the first piece of the story, Shadow introduces the two primary characters of Ink, Katie and Tomohiro, and it’s told in the first person for both, in thirteen alternating chapters plus both a prologue and an epilogue. The bookends are both from Tomohiro’s perspective, and we begin with a nightmare in progress. For Katie, we start with a different kind of nightmare, at the gathering right after her mother’s funeral.

    After that, the two stories run in parallel. Katie starts to come to terms with her mother’s death, makes the move to Japan to live with her aunt, and starts school there. Tomohiro takes steps to remove himself further from the social life of a normal (Japanese) teenager and begins to make an effort to understand his dreams. The stories don’t quite come together, but do brush up against one another near the end, with the first day of school welcoming ceremonies.

    Overall rating: 4 stars. Translation: this is a good establishing the background and character introduction story. It makes a nice prequel to Ink, but would have thrown the pacing of the novel off completely if it had been included. But since Ink is told entirely from Katie’s point of view, we also would have lost Tomohiro’s journey. You don’t need to read Shadow before Ink to enjoy either story. Actually, you don’t need to read Shadow at all to enjoy Ink, but if you’ve liked any of Ms. Sun’s other writing, you owe it to yourself to check it out. And, as of this writing, it’s available free in a couple of places.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Fiction,  Reading

    What I’m Reading: Rain

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    Lately, I don’t seem to spend all that much time sitting still. I’m far, far behind on my reading goals for this year, at least when it comes to books. I am doing plenty of reading, but it’s mostly online, mostly electronic.

    And I’ve come, in the past few years, to somehow look at a print book as a luxury, something to sit down and savour, rather than devour.

    So it is with my current primary fiction reading. Rain, by Amanda Sun.

    This is the second book in her Paper Gods trilogy, and I’m ashamed to say that, much as I want to find a couple of hours to just sit down and read the whole thing straight through, I haven’t been able to do so. Instead, I’ve had to satisfy myself with a chapter here, a chapter there. As it stands, I’m only halfway through the book, when she very generously provided my daughters and me with an advanced reading copy Anime North at the end of May. (I also have a copy from her launch party. Both are signed, of course.)

    The girls have both long since reached the end of the book, and both in a matter of days. So I’m left with a bit of guilt, but my slow read also means that I have things to look forward in the story that they already know, I still have more of the story to savour, and I will have less waiting time between finishing book 2 and the arrival of book 3 next year.

    Rain, like a its predecessor, is YA fantasy, and is published by Harlequin Teen. But don’t let that fool you, this is not a romance story. Oh, certainly there are elements of romance in it, and the primary protagonists are in the vicinity of 17 years old, withing sight of finishing high school in Japan. But this is not a teenybopper romance story. This is modern fantasy set in Japan and giving us an awesome treatments of certain aspects of Japanese mythology, translated into our world. So sure there’s romance, but there’s also action, adventure, danger, and a little bit of cultural exploration that you don’t even realize is going on while you read.

    I loved the first book, and I’m loving the second. And I absolutely recommend that anyone go out and buy it. It’s a fun and amazing story, and if you’re a YA fan, a fantasy fan, or a fan of Japanese culture, you’ll absolutely be a fan of Rain. And Ink, the first book.

    Thank you, Amanda. And I can’t wait to see what comes next.

    ink-cover

    rain-cover

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  • Days of Geek,  Podcast

    DoG Ep 06: Interview with Amanda Sun

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    00:00 Episode ID

    Days of Geek, Episode 6: with Amanda Sun, recorded at Ad Astra 2013.

     

    00:05 Music

    “Split In Synapse”, courtesy of Kevin McCleod at incompetch.com.

     

    00:13 Intro

    Where I offer some contact info and then quote Bilbo Baggins on how dangerous it is to leave your front door because you don’t know where you’ll wind up. I make the point that the same is true of books.

     

    01:12 Main

    A very quick intro to the ancient interview with Amanda Sun (it was recorded in April).

     

    02:01 Main

    The Interview.

    Amanda talks mostly about Ink, touching on characters, kendo, kami, locations in, and background for the story. We find out things about her like her love of gaming and anime, and cosplay, and a preference for tea over coffee.

    Contact info for Amanda:

    Web site: www.amandasunbooks.com

    Twitter: @Amanda_Sun

    Facebook: Amanda Sun Books

     

    25:54 News

    A very short recap of Quinte Mini Con, which took place November 9th and 10th this year. And the really cool Christmas present I got out of it. I note that we’ll be at Frost Con, which is a 1-day convention in Toronto on the 14th of December.

     

    30:19 Media Consumption

    The part of the show where I very briefly talk about the geeky media I’ve consumed since recording the last episode. Very briefly as it’s been a busy week and there hasn’t been a lot.

    Movies

    Futurama: Bender’s Big Score. The best of the four Futurama films, I think, though your mileage may vary.

    Television (sort of)

    Hitalia – an anime told in 5-minute chunks about the history of World War II (sort of). The characters are all personifications of nations. (Netflix)

    Otome Yōkai Zakuro (Maiden Spirit Zakuro). A 13-episde anime series set during the westernization of an alternate Japan with Spirits and Humans having to learn to live together in a more modern world. (Crunchy Roll)

    Star Trek TOS: “The Enemy Within”.

    Books:

    I’m going through one of those periods where every book I try to read doesn’t excite me enough in the first couple of chapters to continue reading. Years ago, I realized that there are far too many books I’m going to enjoy to spend the time waiting for ones I’m not to get better. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not good, they’re just not good for me. I have hopes for the book I’m picking up tonight.

     

    32:55 Star Trek TOS Re-Watch

    Episode: “The Enemy Within

    I play the original TV teaser and offer a brief (but maybe not brief enough) synopsis, give some thoughts comments the story, characters, and Jekyll and Hyde theme.

    I pick two overlooked Character/Actors this week: Crewman Fisher played by Ed Madden, and Crewman Wilson played by Garland Thompson.

    Scoring:

    No casualties this week, except that poor unicorn dog because of the transporter accident.

    Shirtless Kirk #2!

    First occurrence of “He’s dead, Jim.” (That poor unicorn dog.)

    First nerve pinch.

    And I’m thinking about counting transporter accidents.

    Best Line is from Spock this week:

    “Being split in two halves is no theory with me, Doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other. Personal experience, Doctor. I survive it because my intelligence wins over both, makes them live together.”

    And finally, I give my opinion and recommendation for this episode.

     

    46:08 Outro

    In which I again offer contact info:

    Closing music—George Street Shuffle, courtesy of Kevin McCleod at incompetch.com

    Creative Commons licensing info (Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Un-ported License).

     

     

    XX:XX Blooper. No blooper this week. Which is not to say I didn’t make any mistakes recording, because there were plenty, but none of them were funny. There were more instances than usual of me telling myself to slow down, but not all that entertaining, really.

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  • Writing

    Things I Brought Home from World Fantasy Convention 2012

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    A list, if you hadn’t guessed.

    1. Virtual friendships made real: I met quite a few people I’d only known on twitter up until this weekend. Uniformly an awesome group, I’m happy and better to have met them all.

    2. More new friendships than I’m going to try counting. See point number 1, but also people that I met randomly or was introduced to by other people.

    3. Tonnes of awesome experiences. In the bar, restaurants, panels, hallways. And all about the people.

    4. Two (or maybe three) semi-crystallized ideas of potential novel scope and I don’t know how many short story possibilities, all rubbing up against each other inside my head.

    5. Eight (8!) signatures in my contributor’s copy of Rigor Amortis. I am strangely, still inordinately pleased with “And Yet In Death”, my sonnet opening the book, even more so after one of the other authors, the awesome Renée Bennett, confessed to me that she’d nominated it for an Aurora. Stunned does not begin to describe my reaction to that compliment.

    6. Signatures in both of my Sarantine Mosaic hardcovers by Guy Gavriel Kay (plus the memories of cornering him at the Tor party and keeping my inner fanboy under enough control that I didn’t gush too much).

    7. This pile of (mostly) books:

    Which includes two signed by authors whom I got to spend some time with while there, the awesome Tanya Gough and Amanda Sun.
    8. 8.77 GB of uncompressed audio (14 hrs 50 min 22 sec = 16 panels).

    9. A hippocampus, sketched in 7 minutes on the table of a Korean barbeque restaurant a few blocks from the con by the talented Rebecca Blain. She felt bad for me that I’d promised not to buy any art and resolved to make sure I had something to take home.


    10. A hole in the wall of my shyness in unfamiliar group situations. People who know me will be surprised at that statement, and I’m fine once I get through the initial barrier, but going into an unfamiliar environment with a large group of people I don’t know and expect/hope to interact with makes me anxious and a bit withdrawn. I get through it, but it’s not easy. A little assistance there from Tanya, Stefon Mears, and Andy Taylor.

    11. Some awesome conversations with Brian and Anita Hades (of Edge Publishing, Brian wearing the mantle of publisher and Anita being, at the very least, in the running for sweetest lady on the planet).

    12. The desire to start it all over again.

    Happy World Fantasy weekend, everyone.

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