Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two Books, One Review, New Decisions

It's been a while, right?! Phew, just back from exams and the epiphany that I'm not writing as much as I want to- it's been kind of difficult here.
Thanks to the iPad I am now reading more than ever, but as you guys see, the blog posts have been dwindling. The sliding thingy is not sliding anymore. I am not the goddess of commenting anymore. The reason for this unexplained MIA is very simple: there is this little part of me that's nagging at me to stop with the procrastination and just get on with writing what I want to write. What I want to write is some bloody gorgeous fantasy, something new and shiny and lovely. And I've got plenty of new, shiny, lovely ideas- just not the time to write them down. So I gotta let my reviewing take a back seat and get around to doing what I love doing: which is to WRITE. 
and that's by  http://valkyriestarr.deviantart.com 

I started Wishful Thinking as a blog to put my stories on, but somewhere along the way the reviewing/author interviewing/art talk took over. Now, since I'm letting my reviews take a back seat, I will be writing a lot more flash fiction and random stuff, and WT is not the blog for that. You guys followed me for a reason, the reason is WT and its review-y quality, and I'm not gonna change that. SO I MADE A NEW BLOG.
It's called Accidental Dreaming. It's over here.  It's gonna have lots and lots of magicky, fun, fairy-dusted stories. It's gonna do two major writing memes: Sunday Scribblings and Carry On Tuesday. It's gonna talk about all the awesome stuff that I discover accidentally (I accidentally discover a lot of pretty amazingness on the internet) and there's going to be more about short stories. (I love short stories, sometimes more than novels) If you guys want to follow me, just click the link, and click on a post. 
Hey, join me. It'll be fun.

To honor AD, I'm going to share two short story collections that I read recently. Both are fantasy, both are great in their own way.

First up, Lips Touch, Three Times by Laini Taylor.

I'm a fan of Laini Taylor- I really am. I love her artiness and her wordcraft. I think her books are terrific and drool over all the pretty she has in her house (you guys check out www.lainitaylor.com, there really is a lot of pretty there) I didn't read Lips Touch till now because I knew it was illustrated, and I wanted the whole experience, which e-books can't really give. And man, was it worth the wait.

There are three stories in Lips Touch- Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses Such as These, and Hatchling, of which Hatchling was my favorite (and longest). Goblin Fruit is inspired by Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market, incidentally one of my favorite poems. Spicy Little Curses is set in the time of the British Raj, in a lush and wondrous cusp-of-the-century India (yes, India! This Indian girl is happy!) and Hatchling is a glorious, soft and breathtaking take on Zoroastrianism.

Goblin Fruit has an "urgent, unkissed, wishful" girl as its protagonist, a girl hungering for love so much that her
"soul leaned halfway out of her body, like a shirt untucked." (Quoting from memory here) Kizzy is a dreamy, perfect protagonist to the story that doesn't quite have a happy ending. Her exchanges with her friends are very relatable- I remember having similar conversations with my two best friends- and there is an urgency to the whole tale, a domino-waiting-to-fall kind of urgency, and in its urgency and passion is its loveliness. It's the most YA of this lot, and thus the most stereotypical, but still it's really, really pretty and I'm willing to forgive the YA-ness of it. 


(How many times did I use "pretty" in this post? I should stop.)

Spicy Little Curses had an odd version of the Hindu concept of hell- odd to a Hindu, that is. But again, it is the characters that shine through the pages more than the plot. The British Raj is depicted as both a glorious and a stifling period, and I applaud Laini Taylor for doing a version of India that an Indian can actually love without feeling the need to roll her eyes. If only other authors were like you.

And finally, Hatchling. Almost a fairytale, but so much more. I loved this story, perhaps because of its ties to Zoroastrianism (I've seen one of the temples and will never forget the practices and mythology) or perhaps because of the well-plotted story. 

Of course, illustrations by Jim di Bartolo helps. (Gah, they're gorgeous. I'm so jealous.)






The second book is Changelings and Other Stories by Leah Cypress (free on Smashwords!!)

Leah Cypress's book begins on a very different note from Laini Taylor's. Laini's lush, lyrical prose is contrasted with Leah's stark, elegant, short sentences. 
There are seven stories in this, and they are all short.

Changelings is the first one. It's elegant and mysterious, with a poignant narrator. I didn't see the twist coming, and I won't remember this as the greatest of short stories, but it sucked me in with its fairy tale quality.

Then there is Silent Blade. This one, I will remember. Because it was so short, yet the idea came across so well. A girl is waiting for her brother to come home to assassinate his family. There's a stark poetry in the idea. There's a gorgeous tale in the book.

The third story, Temple of Stone, stuck out like a sore thumb. Something was wrong with this one. There were priestesses and a magical stone, and then there was a girl who could hear the stone humming, and then there was a dragon. Um. What?

Shalott's Inn, of course, deals with Arthurian mythology. Specifically, Sir Lancelot shows up at an inn at the edge of Fairie, and meets a starry-eyed girl who's more something-else than human. I liked the writing in this one.

After two more stories- Quests Inc. about a company that deals in Quests and a wise-guy unicorn, and another about a girl who could see people dying at the places where they died (Dead Silent, it was called, and this one was quite fascinating) we get to the last tale- Fair Trade- which has a unique narrative. A one-sided, conversational narrative that was very different and definitely fun. I could feel the coldness of the Fairie paths, the quiet darkness of the changeling girl, the madness and desperation of the narrator.

All in all, a very different set of tales from what is currently in the market.

I continue to adore YA, and these two books are kind of the reason why. There's beauty in conformity, but there's AWESOMENESS in being a little different from the flow. 
See you soon.

4 comments:

  1. I'm with you - I have been procrastinating like crazy on my thesis, but sometimes you just have to put blogging in the backseat for a bit so that you can actually WORK. Okay, so a thesis isn't as cool as a fantasy, but it's the same kind of idea :)

    This is the first I'm hearing of Laini Taylor's previous work - Woah, okay those illustrations really are gorgeous. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't actually read Daughter of Smoke and Bone yet, but this just made me want to read her stuff so bad! The short stories sound amazing.

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  2. They are!! Well and truly amazing. Hope you get the thesis done soon!

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  3. Hope you are getting in more writing! Sometimes it takes a little while until we know what direction we need to go in. Sounds like you have some great ideas. Enjoyed the books you shared in this post!
    ~Jess

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  4. I sure am! Been writing like a maniac on crack. Thanks for the comment, Jess.

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Images used in this blog are either digital art created by the author or free photographs. Reviews and views expressed on this site are strictly personal. Text by Varsha Dinesh is copyrighted under Creative Commons.