Thursday, December 03, 2015

Cat's Cradle TV Show, The Danish Girl movie, Third Place Books, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes, Tower Lord and Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan

I've long been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut's work, especially his classic books, like Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five and God Bless You Mr Rosewater. I am excited to see that they are going to be making a TV series based on his novels.

TV: Cat's Cradle
FX has put in development Cat's Cradle
a limited series from IM Global and FX Prods. based on Kurt Vonnegut's
1963 novel. reported that the project will be written and
executive produced by Noah Hawley (Fargo), who "has become a go-to drama
writer at FX. In addition to writing/executive producing the second
installment of the Emmy-winning series, he recently was tapped to
write/executive produce the X-Men-themed pilot Legion for FX and FX
This movie has gotten major "buzz" because apparently the chameleon-like Eddie Redmayne does a splendid job of playing a transgender woman.

Movies: The Danish Girl
A new clip from the film adaptation of David Ebershoff's novel The
"is set at a costume party and features [Alicia] Vikander gracefully
remembering how her and [Eddie] Redmayne's characters first met,"
Indiewire reported. Directed by Tom Hooper, the movie opens in select
theaters November 27.

I have been meaning to check out Third Place Books new basement of wonders, but I've not gotten there yet due to many factors. Still, if it snows on my birthday and I can't make the trip to Powells, Third Place would be a great Plan B!

Third Place Books: A Seattle Underground Hot Spot
Matador showcased "11 underground spots in Seattle to check out before
including Third Place Books & Pub
"At street level, Ravenna's Third Place looks like any other cozy
independent bookstore. But down in the basement you'll find a great bar
with 18 rotating taps. Playing host to live music, book club gatherings,
and Magic Mondays (where, every so often, the PNW's finest magicians get
together to perform in the spirit of the London theater cabarets), the
Pub at Third Place serves up choice dishes including mezze plates,
eggplant sandwiches with grilled halloumi, and kopanisti dips made from
roasted red peppers and feta. And it's all good. All of it. There's also
a sister cafe upstairs that serves housemade Greek food."
I am looking forward to seeing this remake of Murder on the Orient Express, as I've been a long time fan of Kenneth Branaghs, as his birthday is two days before mine, and I think he's a brilliant actor, director and script writer/adapter. His adaptations of Shakespeare's plays for a modern movie audience are amazing. 
Kenneth Branagh will direct and star in 20th Century Fox's remake of
based on Agatha Christie classic mystery novel. reported
that Branagh will also produce along with Ridley Scott, Simon Kinberg
and Mark Gordon. Michael Green (Blade Runner 2) is writing the script.

I was born toward the end of the Baby Boom (1960) but I have always felt that those born on that end of the Boom got ignored, often in favor of those born right after WWII. Despite that, and the fact that we're all over 50 now, I have always known that we were readers and writers at heart.

Baby Boomers: 'Spine of Independent Bookselling'
Gayle Shanks, Mitchell Kaplan and Kris Kleindienst "are among many baby
boomers who founded stores with little sense of how to run a business,
but a profound sense of purpose
They are now pillars of a smaller but still vital independent-bookstore
community, and models for the wave of younger owners who have opened
stores in recent years," the Associated Press (via ABC News) reported in
an article headlined "Baby Boomers Still the Spine of Independent Book

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes was a historical mystery/romance that sounded right up my alley when I read about it on Shelf Awareness. I was delighted to discover that it lived up to the glowing review, and was an engrossing read. The fact that the story takes place on Orcas Island and in Seattle is only icing on the cake. Here's the blurb:
The smallest items can hold centuries of secrets...
Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt's island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara's life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.
Inspired by true events, Kelli Estes's brilliant and atmospheric debut serves as a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing, and the power of our own stories.
As Inara and Mei Lein's stories unfold, readers get to learn about a dark part of Seattle's history, in which the Chinese were forced from their homes and put aboard ships to sail back to China, as prejudice men in Seattle believed that they were taking white men's jobs and that they were lesser as a race because they were different in religion, appearance and language. Many Chinese were killed outright, or drowned after being thrown overboard on the ships. Inara's horror at her ancestor's part in this racism is spot on, and her ability to stick to her guns about not continuing to sweep it under the rug is brilliant. Though this is her debut novel, Estes prose is lyrical and strong, and her plot is methodical and precise. I'd give this novel an A, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries about Seattle's past.

Tower Lord and Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan are the final two books in the Raven's Shadow trilogy, which began with Blood Song, which was reviewed here previously. Though this is epic fantasy at it's mightiest, I was anxious to find out what happened to the characters in Blood Song, particularly Vaelin Al Sorna, the main character, whose life took many twists and turns over the course of the three novels. All three are over 600 pages long, so it was no easy task to finish them, yet I somehow couldn't put them down. Here's the blurbs: Tower Lord
New York Times bestselling author Anthony Ryan returns to the “wonderful universe” (Fantasy Book Critic) of Blood Song, as Vaelin Al Sorna continues on his inevitable road to destiny…
King Janus’s vision of a Unified Realm has failed, drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause that was forged from a lie. Sick at heart, Vaelin Al Sorna, warrior of the Sixth Order, returns home, determined to kill no more, seeking peace far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm.
But those gifted with the blood-song are not destined to live quiet lives. Vaelin finds himself a target, both for those seeking revenge and those who know about his gift. And as a great threat once again moves against the Realm, Vaelin realizes that when faced with annihilation, even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword.
Queen of Fire:Vaelin Al Sorna must help his Queen reclaim her Realm. Only his enemy has a dangerous new collaborator, one with powers darker than Vaelin has ever encountered…
“The Ally is there, but only ever as a shadow, unexplained catastrophe or murder committed at the behest of a dark vengeful spirit. Sorting truth from myth is often a fruitless task.”
After fighting back from the brink of death, Queen Lyrna is determined to repel the invading Volarian army and regain the independence of the Unified Realm. Except, to accomplish her goals, she must do more than rally her loyal supporters. She must align herself with forces she once found repugnant—those who possess the strange and varied gifts of the Dark—and take the war to her enemy’s doorstep.
Victory rests on the shoulders of Vaelin Al Sorna, now named Battle Lord of the Realm. However, his path is riddled with difficulties. For the Volarian enemy has a new weapon on their side, one that Vaelin must destroy if the Realm is to prevail—a mysterious Ally with the ability to grant unnaturally long life to her servants. And defeating one who cannot be killed is a nearly impossible feat, especially when Vaelin’s blood-song, the mystical power which has made him the epic fighter he is, has gone ominously silent…

So much happens in these two books, it would be impossible to comment on all of it. What they don't talk about in the blurbs is that there's a chronicler named Vennier whose account of what has happened bookends many chapters and his fate is intertwined with that of the main characters, including Queen Lyrna. I really enjoyed Lyrna and Reva and Davoka and the other heroic women's voices in these books, because epic fantasy of this type often marginalizes women as only fit for being brood mares and slaves. Even the evil immortal women who is Frentis' nightmare and psychic jailer comes off as a three dimensional character who has seen many things and is hopeful for a life spent with Frentis, though he doesn't love her (and she's insane). I skipped over or skimmed many battle scenes in Tower Lord and Queen of Fire, because descriptions of killing, blood, death and gore aren't my thing, still I was able to pick up the thread of what was going on with the characters fairly easily. Chapters go from one characters POV to anothers, and while that can be disconcerting, I was glad that we learned so much about the landscape and the people through these different POVs. The ending wasn't as HEA as I would have liked, but it did tie everything together, and was satisfying for the reader to learn the fate of the main characters. A well-earned A for this trilogy, and a recommendation to those who enjoy epic fantasy along the lines of GRRM's a Song of Ice and Fire.

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