Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Sky So Heavy

The Sky So Heavy

The Sky So Heavy is a post apocalyptic story set in New South Wales in Australia. This is the first post apoc I've read set Down Under and it was a nice change of pace, to see what a disaster of nuclear proportions might look like from the Aussie perspective. Fin is a teenager who is forced to survive the onset of nuclear winter when an unnamed country launches a missile strike and everything changes. 

I really enjoyed this book. Fin is likable- to a point- and he has an impossible task trying to take care of his younger brother Max when his father leaves and doesn't come back. Fin's parents are split up- his mother works for the government and is apparently in Sydney when the disaster strikes, and his father follows his girlfriend Kara when she leaves abruptly. Presumably he planned on returning, but he never does. As the nuclear winter descends Fin and Max are on their own in a world changed beyond recognition. 

Fin eventually finds Lucy, the girl he has fallen for, and together with another school mate they set out to find Fin's mother. Society has begun to break down, of course, with people resorting to more and more desperate measures to find food and stay alive. Lucy and Fin provide the one bit of hope in the story, as they continue to get to know each other amidst the chaos. Lucy has to make a tough decision- does she stay with her family or go with Fin, to try their luck in the city, and I felt for her as she made this wrenching decision. 

This story in the end was a bit depressing, if I'm being honest, but at the same time there were moments that were strangely uplifting and empowering. You know the odds are stacked against Fin and Lucy from the outset but you desperately want them to succeed, and to be honest my favorite moments were probably the quiet moments, when the two of them were just together and hoping for the future. This is the kind of book that also makes you think- what would you do to survive? Would you steal from someone- or worse- if that was the only way for you to eat, or protect your loved ones? Thought provoking stuff. 

No electricity, very little food, a government that realizes there aren't enough resources so they transition from serving the people to harshly deciding who lives and who doesn't- pretty heady stuff. And there are some surprises along the way that make you wonder- even if and when you reach your goal, or find your missing people- what happens next? And how does surviving the end of the world change you? 

Lucy was a great character- easily a favorite- and there was an underlying sense of tension throughout. It's also a quick read, with short chapters that handle the passing of time well. I thought it was realistic the way life changed with no power, and with neighbors turning on each other, in some cases- not everyone does- and there was also a nice examination of faith and how it holds up or is challenged when the world is literally disintegrating around you. Faith can sustain hope but not everyone has, or wants, faith and I thought the subject was handled very well. 

All in all this was a solid read. Thought provoking, a little chilling, it had me on the edge of my seat hoping that Fin and Lucy were going to make it. And I loved how it ended. A solid read.   

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Never Give Up - My Thoughts on Capt. Marvel

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Captain Marvel is my favorite Marvel movie to date. There, I said it. I mean I saw it a few days ago, had no desire to review it (not because it was bad, I just don't... have to review everything, I've come to realize)- I was perfectly happy to just let it be. But I'm still thinking about it, and I think I know why. This movie was uplifting and inspiring, and after letting it percolate a bit I have some thoughts. Mainly though it comes down to this- Carol Danvers never gives up. That's it. Period. 

Well nothing ground breaking there, right? I mean lots of movies carry that theme- never give up, keep fighting, etc. But there's something about the way this movie went about it- it took the Marvel formula and upended it a bit, showing us that superhero movies can be just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more relevant. And it sure is relevant, given all the debate over this movie and feminism and all the rest. I don't want to get into all that- I just liked the movie, period. But at the same time I can't just leave it there- I have to say a little more. 

This post will have spoilers for Captain Marvel, so if you haven't seen it yet you might want to go watch it. Then come back!

Carol never gives up. There, I said it again, but that's it. I'm not ashamed to admit that I might have had a tear in my eye towards the end, when she got up after being leveled by Annette Bening's character the Supreme Intelligence. And all those early memory sequences suddenly made sense- Carol crashing on a go cart, falling off her bike, struggling to climb the rope in basic training- all those moments. And we see that she never gave up when she was defeated- and she doesn't give up now. Carol is not a Kree warrior stranded on Earth- she's a human, from around here, and she happens to not be a quitter. 

I always think of all the Olympian athletes who go to the Games and fall short. Sounds harsh, right? But they're not losers. They're better than 99% of people in the world at whatever it is they do- but there can  be only three medal winners. The point is- they went. They gave it all their all. And that's what Carol is showing to moviegoers- many of whom are kids, which is my next point. Who says comics can't be inspiring? Or educational? Okay maybe you don't like being hammered over the head with a "message" when you go to a movie- that's fine, I don't either. But again, here, I was moved. When Carol got up with that look on her face- as if to say you may be more powerful than me, but you can't defeat me- because I will get back up. Yeah I might have teared up a little. 

 The other thing is something I saw in an interview with Kelly Sue DeConnick, who was a big influence on this movie. She said in an interview that a certain scene towards the end will be the subject of Women's Studies and academic papers- she doesn't specify which scene, but I have a good idea what she's talking about. And I may be off base here, but the other scene that I loved was when Yon-Rogg challenged Carol physically at the end. He knows he can't beat her, other than physically, so he falls back on the challenge, on the training montages we see early on, where's he's always just a little better as a straight up fighter. No super powers. 

The kicker is, Carol says no. And then she blasts him into next week. And I almost cheered. I mean come on, how many times have we seen the trope where the student has to defeat their master to advance, to win the day? Luke, you must face Vader to be a Jedi, and all that. No. Carol tells Yon- Rogg she has nothing to prove to him. She doesn't have to beat him in a physical fight. Why should she? Those are his terms. Why does she have to follow his rules? The answer is- she doesn't.  

I suspect that's what DeConnick is talking about. Either way, that's the other reason this movie rocks. Never give up. And you don't have to prove yourself to anyone else either to gain acceptance.

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Can't Wait Wednesday #64

 So here's a midweek round up of what I'm reading watching, etc. Plus Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Wishful endings. So sit back, raise a cuppa, and see what's new! And share what you're up to. 

I saw Captain Marvel last weekend and loved it- you can see my thoughts here on why Carol Never Gives Up and why that made the movie so special. This week my Can't Wait pick is   

To Be Taught, If Fortunate

What I'm Reading

After the Lights Go OutYou Owe Me a MurderThe Sky So Heavy

What I'm Watching 

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2019 TBR


 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is Books on my Spring 2019 TBR            

You Owe Me a Murder

The Devouring Gray

The Night Before

After the Lights Go Out

Watching You

Killing November

Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #1)

One Word Kill (Impossible Times, #1)

DonĂ¢€™t You Cry

Ancestral Night (White Space, #1)

Tuesday Tagline #134

The Mars Monopoly

Find your fortune in the sky- by permission of the Mars Monopoly

Sunday, March 17, 2019

My Road Trip With Thor (aka Hawkeye in Asgard)

body of water during daytime

Fan fiction! I never write fan fic! Well, I guess I do now. Actually this is the third one I've done- I've tackled the Avengers and Star Wars previously. Who knew I would ever take that plunge? Not that there's anything wrong with fan fic, it's just that I'd rather write my own characters. I had an idea, however- what if Thor and Hawkeye took a buddy road trip? You know, to Asgard- home of the Norse gods? And I want to stress that this is the comics version of Hawkeye that we're talking about- he's been sorta revitalized lately in the comics, not that he needed it necessarily- he's always been fun. The movie version is a little more serious. 

So here you go. Let me know in the comments what you think. If enough people like it I may revisit it- after all, Hawkeye has unfinished business at the end? And affairs of the heart are the worst kind of unfinished business? 

"I must take my leave."
Thor and Steve were talking over by the coffeemaker, and I was shoveling in the Wheaties (who ate the last pop tarts, anyway?) but this got my attention. Where was Thor going? I glanced up as Steve filled his mug. Earth's mightiest heroes or not, coffee still made the trains run on time.  He nodded, blowing on it to cool it off, and asked, "When will you be back?"
"I do not know," the Asgardian replied. "I am told there are matters that need my attention, but as usual the details are sparse. Possibly for some time, however."
Steve extended his hand.
"Well good luck, and don't be a stranger. As always, if there's anything we can do..."
Thor took the proffered hand and they shook.
"I thank you, Captain. I will return, and in the meanwhile Jarvis will have a respite from the grocery bill."
They both laughed, but my curiosity was piqued now.
"What's up, Thor? Need some company? I've got some downtime, and this old carny hand-slash-Avenging archer has never seen Asgard."
It was just a throwaway comment. Little did I know what I had just set in motion.
Thor and Steve looked at me.

The first thing that strikes you when you see Asgard are the colors. I'm standing on the Rainbow Bridge- Bifrost for all you Norse fans out there- and it's breathtaking. So vivid. And it hums. Like you're standing on a power line - there's an energy there that I could feel in my bones. You know how rainbows look, right? Imagine that times a thousand. The colors are like their true selves, and every time you've seen that color before is like a pale shadow. And in the distance- the gleaming spires.

I've been in this business a long time, and let me tell you- I've never seen  anything like Asgard. It looks like we have a bit of a hike to get there- why couldn't we have just landed in the city?- but I really don't mind. Everywhere around us are stars, the immensity of space, and dominating everything is the Golden City. I see why they call it that now. I feel giddy as we approach, almost like a kid experiencing Disney World for the first time.

Asgard is magnificent. I didn't want to be that guy, bumping into people as I stared in awe around me, but it may have happened. In my defense it is Asgard. I guess I imagined it would be Valhalla- all warriors and fighting- but there are shops and avenues and grand promenades, market squares and soaring towers. Everything seems giant sized, for some reason, even though the Asgardians are more or less human sized. But there's a grandeur to it all. I don't know what to call it- Viking chic? Is that a thing?

Doors aren't just doors. They're archways, or they're oak banded with iron and make a thunk sound when they close that is strangely satisfying. I haven't seen any electricity, but there are a lot of torches flaring in meadhalls and in the streets, and these globe things that give off light. Magic, I guess? I asked Thor how they work and he just grunted. I don't think he knows? The building are immense, and let's not even discuss the royal palace. That is of course the first place we went, and in the following days as I wandered I was struck by how much there was to explore. The palace itself goes on forever, literally. I got lost several times, and the vaults and subbasements have vaults and subbasements of their own.

The well frequented passages are well lit, or there might be torches beckoning you down a lesser used corridor, but then there are the passages that are dark as pitch. Where do they go? I haven't the foggiest. Some go down into the depths and you can hear strange noises if you venture too far, and on one occasion I came upon a great pool of water deep beneath the palace- lifting my torch I couldn't see the other side, but there were boats moored there. I had free reign to go where I pleased, although Thor did warn me to not venture too far.

Let's talk about the food. I mean, this is ridiculous. Every night is a feast, seems like, with roasted boar or goat, and of course the ale flows. And not just ale either- you can call me a new convert to mead now, thanks. It's made with honey, I guess? Thor never seems to get drunk- well, maybe occasionally- but I can't say the same for his companions. It's party time in the royal palace on a regular basis.

And of course the people. They ride horses through the city, there are ravens everywhere, and it can be a lot to take in, but the people are cool. My penchant for archery soon made the rounds and before long I was matching skills with Uller, the god of archery, among other things- so many of these people have multiple titles- and it's fair to say he's pretty good. I mean, he's a god right?

Oh, and I ran into Amora. Also known as the Enchantress, she's a real piece of work. I've seen her before, of course, but only briefly. She's a bit like Loki, I guess- people respect her but they're wary of her too. She wasn't happy to see me in town, and made no secret of asking Thor what I was doing there. Afterward she came over for a word

"Welcome to Asgard. Are you enjoying your time with us?"
"It's been eye- opening, I'll say that."
"Mmm. I'm sure. And what exactly are you doing here, if I may ask? It's not often that Thor brings one of his...mortal followers with him to the home of the gods?"
"Followers?" I rejoined. "Why I merely thought to tag along and see the sights. You know, not having had the privilege before. I must say it's an amazing place." You know, lay on the charm.
She smiled and leaned in close. "Oh, the sights I could show you, oh man. I know some wonderful destinations that Thor will never deign to show you. Perhaps if you grow tired of the carousing you might wish to see what other secrets Asgard has to offer?

I won't lie- I was a little over my head at this point. The Enchantress is intimidating as all get out, but up close, with her turning on the charm- I was a little dizzy. I managed to stammer out a thanks but no thanks, and was afraid how she'd react, but she just smiled and took her leave. I still felt like I'd escaped from a snake pit. On a somewhat happier note, I did make another acquaintance. A shield maiden named Lys came up to me at a feast and challenged me to arm wrestle. I was, after all, one of Thor's boon companions, was I not? Surely I would acquit myself well?

shae ford fate's forsaken book series
Source: Pinterest

Well, not so much. After I picked myself up off the floor she threw an arm around me and laughed gustily. We drank til dawn amidst the roistering and she even helped me to my chambers when I found I could no longer walk. I'm not sure what intoxicated me more- the mead or her presence next to me. As she half carried me across the threshold I thought perhaps she meant to stay, but she merely saw to my comfort, covering me with furs and stoking the fire.  Her laughter was like the sun on new- fallen snow. I asked her if I would see her again, and she just smiled, and with a wink took her leave.

To be continued?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Sunday Post #289

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Date 
So a month ago or so I was thinking about how St. Patty's Day was coming up soon, and now... it's here. This week. Where did the month go? In other news I've been lamenting the lack of a Movies That Suck post and I've been reviewing candidates for possible watching. This one came to mind...   

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Also I've been revising my On the Run flash fiction. And I wrote something new! It's a road trip story featuring Hawkeye and Thor. That'll be on Monday. Also next week (the 25th) I'll be debuting a new feature called Tales From Northern Michigan, where I share stuff from - you guessed it- beautiful northern Michigan. First up will be snowy owls and an awesome eagle rescue. 

I saw Capt. Marvel this week and loved it. If you follow me on Twitter you've probably seen me extolling its virtues. I also wrote a post about how Carol Danvers never gives up, and why I felt the movie is so inspirational- that will be up soon. And... I rediscovered my favorite game Stargate and posted some video below. Including an arcade in the Detroit area.         

This past week I reviewed Lady S and I posted Cover Love - Sea Monsters which was fun to put together. Next week I've got a review coming for either You Owe Me A Murder or the Sky So Heavy- whichever one I get to.       

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Lady S. Vol. 1: Here's to SuzieYou Owe Me a Murder

Song of the week 



The Sky So HeavyTwo Can Keep a Secret


Did I mention l loved Captain Marvel? And one of my favorite songs is in it!

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Stargate is my favorite game. The words Yllabian Dogfight always meant you were in deep shit.  

Here's a Yllabian dogfight at the 2:20 mark. Notice how loud the controls are- this is a game where you can reverse constantly, and there are seven buttons to master- in an arcade setting we're talking serious hand/eye coordination!

Okay or maybe just watch this one- some guy playing in an arcade. The best way to play. I love the comments and the random screaming you hear in the background. And if you want to see a Yllabian dogfight in a noisy arcade setting just skip to 8:45.

And switching gears a bit- wouldn't the Empire have been better served if all their officers had been this efficient?

Stargate - Williams - 1981