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The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

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The Core of the SunThe Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So this is “Finnish weird,” huh? I like it and I want more, especially from Johanna Sinisalo.

This book is… well, it’s a suspenseful mystery set in a horrifying and plausible dystopian now with some magical realism woven between it all.

Vanna is an addict. A chile addict. In Finland in 2016 chiles, along with other dangerous and addictive substances like alcohol and drugs, are banned. Vanna is also a “morlock”–a woman who doesn’t meet societal standards and isn’t allowed to breed–except Vanna is also an “eloi,” or at least she was raised pretending to be one. Her sister, Manna, is an eloi, the type of “femiwoman” Finland has been selectively breeding for for generations. Vanna is also Vera, and Manna is Mira, because soft elois can’t have hard Rs in their names. Rs and other special things–like independence and nearly Stepford-like wives–are saved for mascos.

This story is told with letters Vanna/Vera writes to Manna/Mira, which tells their life stories from the beginning when their parents died and they moved to Finland to live with their only relative to the end where Vanna finds out what happened to her missing sister; in excerpts from fictional (and occasionally real!) books and articles about the history of Finland, which explain the history and realities of modern Finland; and through Vanna (and occasionally her masco friend Jare’s) present-day actions from Vanna’s chile highs and confused grief to Jare’s future plans and their shared chile-dealing business with a bit of capsaicin-spirituality over and above it all.

I loved this book. I was shocked by Vanna, I pitied her, her sister, and everyone trapped as they were, I was frightened by the very plausible history of Finnish society the author created, and I was always, always entertained. Also, I really want some spicy peppers now, but Vanna can keep the core of the sun for herself.

[I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.]

View all my reviews

Written by tldegray

January 14, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Book Reviews

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The general premise is that the library at Alexandria was never destroyed. Instead, it thrived and became The Library, a world power unto itself. It began as a shining ideal, to preserve all knowledge and make it available to everyone, through “blanks” (books) they supply. Over the years The Library began to care more for preserving and expanding its own power than its original mission.

Jess is a book smuggler. He’s part of the underground that sells illegal original books to anyone who can pay. He fears The Library because they’d kill him if they caught him. Then he gets the chance–or the curse–to enter Library training.

There’s a huge theme about paper books vs ebooks running through this story, with The Library’s blanks taking the part of ebooks. Now, I was reading this as an ebook and didn’t find it to be just “words on a page” that didn’t move me, as Jess thinks about blanks. But that theme isn’t alone; it’s accompanied by that of who controls the knowledge. And that’s where I really felt The Library’s evil. (To sum up: all books good; suppressing knowledge bad.)

There’s one piece of knowledge in particular The Library suppresses. A piece of knowledge that crops up in different places and times by different people, no matter how hard they try to erase it. It’s the absolute perfect thing for The Library to suppress and it had me thinking about the tremendous changes the lack of this would have wrought on the world. Loved it.

Chapters of ephemera are interspersed with chapters of action, and that’s a style choice that worked very well for this book. The ephemera is knowledge, of course, communications, books, etc. And it’s there, underpinning the story even though our characters don’t (yet) know it. It’s also the foundation of The Library, and that foundation is rotten. It was a nice touch.

I’m in for this series. I love thinking and reading about communication and knowledge and stories, and this is right up my alley.

View all my reviews

Written by tldegray

January 4, 2016 at 10:16 am

Posted in Book Reviews

#mmjinfo

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#mmjinfo I want to tell you about my experiences with #medicalmarijuana in #MA and at a #ME dispensary. #spoonie #MultipleSclerosis

#mmjinfo You have to have a “qualifying condition” to be eligible for mmj. Leafly has links & info http://tinyurl.com/nlzsgat #mmjinfo

#mmjinfo @Leafly is a great resource, btw. Everything you could need to know about #medicalmarijuana on one site.

#mmjinfo I qualify for medical marijuana because I have #MultipleSclerosis & spasticity.

#mmjinfo My hospital does not allow its doctors to prescribe #medicalmarijuana. So for pain mgmt I go to a doctor that specializes in mmj.

#mmjinfo In MA doctors must have certain type & duration of training before being allowed to prescribe #medicalmarijuana

#mmjinfo You must also have a relationship with your prescribing doctor. They are a real part of your health team & renew your Rx annually.

#mmjinfo Speciality #medicalmarijuana doctors usually don’t accept ins. But you can submit a “super bill” to your ins as “out of network.”

#mmjinfo YMMV sending the bill to your insurance company. I don’t get reimbursed, but the $ amt is credited to annual out of pocket $ spent.

#mmjinfo #MA also charges you $50/year to get your #medicalmarijuana registration card. Signing up online is so easy & your doctor can help.

#mmjinfo My pain mgmt #medicalmarijuana doctor always forwards my records to my Neurologist. It was my choice, but it’s a thing they offer.

#mmjinfo In #MA I see a doctor at Integr8mass.com. Their website also has a lot of information about #medicalmarijuana.

#mmjinfo Both my Neurologist and my Primary Care Physician are supportive of my taking #medicalmarijuana and are interested in the results.

#mmjinfo See? Legal, prescription medicine, overseen by multiple doctors. #medicalmarijuana is a real, helpful, legitimate thing.

#mmjinfo Here’s how you figure out your #medicalmarijuana dosage: Use your chosen strain until you get high. Then cut that amount in half.

#mmjinfo It’s important to check your dosage for different strains because they effect you differently. (Why is a big topic; more later.)

#mmjinfo For example, I use only one puff of a particular strain because two puffs gets me high. One puff. So this is sensitive. YMMV.

#mmjinfo I use a vaporizer to take my #medical marijuana. It’s personal preference. I don’t like to smoke. I also think it tastes better.

#mmjinfo Yes, tastes better. In my experience, smoking #medicalmarijuana tastes like burnt leaves, but vaping allows you to taste flavors.

#mmjinfo The United Patients Group has information on ways to consume #medicalmarijuana here http://tinyurl.com/ax4cda2

#mmjinfo Vaporizers vary in cost and quality so do your research. I’ve used both the Magic Flight Launch Box and the more expensive Pax.

#mmjinfo You’re also going to need a grinder for your #medicalmarijuana. I have hand & joint pain so I use a larger grinder with a handle.

#mmjinfo My grinder also has multiple levels and a “pollen catcher” to collect kief. (What is kief: http://tinyurl.com/jqh3ntg)

#mmjinfo Grinders about the size of a quarter are fine for grinding a small amount at a time & fit great with the Launch Box.

#mmjinfo This is all up to you. I grind in advance so I’m not cursing my painful hands and a grinder in the middle of the night.

#mmjinfo I like to grind some #medicalmarijuana in advance and store it in small, airtight glass jars like these http://tinyurl.com/j8d45aa

#mmjinfo Storage is important to keep your #medicalmarijuana fresh. Zipped baggies, airtight containers, whatever you like. I use both.

#mmjinfo Where to get your supplies? Your dispensary, your specialty doctor’s office, even amazon. It’s all out there and easy to find.

#mmjinfo Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your vaporizer, pipe, whatever. You’ll need alcohol, pipe cleaners, q-tips.

#mmjinfo And do clean it often because the build-up tastes gross and it clogs the vape/pipe letting less vapor/smoke get to you.

#mmjinfo Earlier I linked you to different ways to consume #medicalmarijuana. Vaporizing is my personal preference, but I also like edibles.

#mmjinfo One of the differences in consumption methods is how long it takes for the #medicalmarijuana to affect you.

#mmjinfo Vaporizing works almost immediately, while edibles take some time to work (30-40 mins). Vaped effects wear off faster than edibles.

#mmjinfo For pain management purposes, vaporizing (smoking) deals with your pain right away, while edibles require you to plan ahead.

#mmjinfo By using #medicalmarijuana I was able to stop taking Vicodin, Baclofen, and Gabapentin. It deals with all the pain and spasticity.

#mmjinfo Getting rid of all those meds (some which upset my stomach, some which damage my liver, some which mess with my mood) was great.

#mmjinfo For me, #medicalmarijuana does all the things those drugs did, and does them faster, more effectively, with less side-effects. YMMV

#mmjinfo #MA has been slow in the legalization process. We’re just now getting dispensaries in our state. I’ve been going to Maine.

#mmjinfo To find a dispensary in your state, Google is your friend, as is Leafly, and your state’s Department of Public Health.

#mmjinfo In my experience with dispensaries, they are concerned about your privacy and are there to help educate you. So ask them questions!

#mmjinfo Okay, that’s about an hour’s worth of information. Enough for now. I’ll do this again sometime, and answer any questions I can.

Written by tldegray

November 30, 2015 at 9:30 am

Weekly Reading Meme

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What I’ve just finished
The Paladin Caper (Rogues of the Republic #3) by Patrick Weekes [ARC]
Alpha Unleashed (Alpha Girl #5) by Aileen Erin [ARC]
Both of these books were ending books (though the Alpha Girl world will go on, I believe) and both wrapped things up very well. The Paladin Caper, especially, tied up things that had been in play since book 1. (Longer reviews will be on Goodreads when I have the spoons.)

What I’m reading now
Fool’s Quest (The Fitz & The Fool #2) by Robin Hobb: I love this series. I smile while I read it, I think the writing is gorgeous. I’ll be lost in this to the exclusion of all else until I’m done.

What I’m planning to read next
Reap the Wind (Cassandra Palmer #7) by Karen Chance [ARC]: I’ve been with this series from the beginning and I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t love the vampire stuff, but I like Cassie and Pritkin, so this book should be good.
How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness by Toni Bernhard: Toni is pretty well known in the chronic illness community. I like her blog, I’m excited to check out her book.

[ARC: I received these books free from NetGalley in exchange for unbiased reviews.]

Written by tldegray

September 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Lock In by John Scalzi

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Lock InMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. There was so much in this book. It’s suspense–people are being murdered and the FBI is investigating. It’s speculative fiction–one of the FBI agents is a “Haden,” a person with Haden’s syndrome whose body is in a medical cradle at his home while his mind inhabits a robotic body (threepio–so perfect). It’s about disability and disability rights and it is very, very good at that, in my opinion. The book gets five stars from me because it combines speculative fiction with suspense/thriller and because it made me think.

What would I do, were I a Haden? Would I use a threepio and interact with the physical world? Would I never use one and interact only in the Agora (a virtual world that is utterly real to the Hadens)? Would I mix both? There was a minor incident mentioned about threepios not being allowed to use chairs in coffee shops if those chairs were needed by those without Haden’s. The particular threepio relating it doesn’t mind, but I’d mind. Oh, would I mind. There are great things like that which call into question the humanity of a Haden while in their threepio. Then there’s the housing which tends to be small and cramped for Haden’s because they are, after all, bedridden and don’t actually need space. But do they deserve it? Does it benefit them?

Oh, and the whodunnit? A wonderful mix of plots and schemes with the technology available to them. Very clever.

I could go on. I’m going to be revisiting this book many times.

Buy Lock In and its prequel Unlocked on Amazon.

Written by tldegray

November 17, 2014 at 7:00 am

Posted in Book Reviews

Tagged with ,

Mur Lafferty’s Shambling Guides

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The Shambling Guide to New York CityThe Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

3.5/5 stars. Zoe is an out of work travel writer who moved home to New York City. She finds an ad for a job she’s sure she’s perfect for, only to be told she wouldn’t fit in. Zoe doesn’t take no for an answer and scores herself a job interview and an introduction to the coterie–all the supernatural monsters (don’t call them monsters!) humanity doesn’t know exist. While planning and editing the ultimate coterie travel guide to NYC, Zoe gets entangled in a dangerous plot, discovers something about herself, and saves the city.

The action is interspersed with segments from the travel guide. It’s cute, but the travel guide sections often come before the related action, somewhat spoiling it. But that’s basically my biggest complaint about this book, which I couldn’t put down and ended up reading long into the early morning.

I really enjoyed Lafferty’s versions of vampires, elementals, and all the other coterie. The travel guide format creates an opportunity to learn things you otherwise wouldn’t learn, such as coterie history and dining habits. It’s a lot of fun.

Also, I really like Zoe’s friendship with Gwen (the Welsh death goddess) and Morgen (the water elemental).

Buy The Shambling Guide to New York City from Amazon.com

 

The Ghost Train to New Orleans (The Shambling Guides, #2)The Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty

3.5/5 stars. The Shambling Guide to NYC was a great hit with the coterie, so Zoe and some of her writers are taking the ghost train to New Orleans to write a travel guide for that city. My complaint from the first book in this series was that the travel sections often came before the action, spoiling it, and that’s fixed in this book, with the travel sections now coming after and supporting the action.

Though the first book threatened all of New York City, Zoe included, this book seemed more threatening to her on a personal level. One of her writers would happily kill her, she gets shot on the train, and some mysterious guy hints that she could be in huge danger just based upon who she is.

There is a mysterious African god Zoe meets in Jackson Square and I encourage those of you who don’t recognize him right away to google him. I think it’ll enhance your reading to know who and what he is, and it won’t take anything away from the story.

Zoe learned a lot of coterie and human-coterie history in this book and I’m fascinated to see where it goes. Yes, obvs, I am hoping for more in this series.

(Provided by publisher)

Buy Ghost Train to New Orleans from Amazon.com

Written by tldegray

July 7, 2014 at 8:00 am

Posted in Book Reviews

Your art doesn’t trump my safety.

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I am angry. I am angry and I refuse to tone down that anger to make this more palatable for you. Other people around the internet have laid this out in calm and rational ways and have done a fantastic job of getting their point across. And even more people have responded to them with disdain and dismissal. Fuck those people.

So what’s up? The Davis Museum at Wellesley College is hosting an exhibit of Tony Matelli’s sculptures. They placed a sculpture of a man naked except for his underwear on a nearby campus road. We can assume that the museum and Director Lisa Fischman intended no harm. (Fischman’s statement.)

Almost immediately students began asking for the removal of this sculpture to inside the museum with the rest of the exhibit. A Change.org petition was started to “remove the uncomfortable and potentially triggering statue put up without student consent.” Read the petition. It’s beautifully written and tells you everything you need to know about the damage this statue has caused and could continue to cause. (Petition.)

Now, here is where all the trouble began. Instead of listening people responded with all that disdain and dismissal I wrote of earlier. Lisa Fischman posted on the petition that she’d seen people interacting with the statue and “[a]rt provokes dialogue, and discourse is the core of education. In that spirit, I am enormously glad to have your response.” But she never addressed the people who have been harmed by this statue, she never addressed the harm.

Let me tell you what excuses are not valid when you are told you are harming someone: I know someone who says it’s okay; but it’s art.

Fuck you and your art. Fuck you and prioritizing your need to provoke over other people’s need to be safe. Move your damn statue inside the free museum where it’s available to everyone who wants to view it and away from everyone who needs to avoid it. Stop thinking your lived experience is the only one and have some damn compassion.

Non ministrari sed ministrare, my ass.

Written by tldegray

February 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm

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