The Good Lie Movie Review – A Film about Beauty in the Midst of Pain, Wholeness Among the Ravaged.

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The Good Lie is a story about family living in Sudan in the midst of war, people ripped out of the family, torn from one another and a journey to make them whole. It is also a story about sacrificial love, reaching out past ourselves and faith. It is not an easy journey and their are no pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is, however, integrity, relationship and hope. These will do for now.

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After loosing the adults of their village, some children leave to find a safe haven. There are few in that part of the world. Their travels are long, fraught with many dangers, toils and snares and finally result in a stay at a refugee camp in Kenya. Three brothers and their sister are finally able to go to America and start again.

While this is not a documentary, it’s also not a typical Hollywood film. First, the actors portraying the main characters of the movie are from Sudan, two of whom were made into child soldiers. They have authentic background for those whom they portray. Second, while the trailer suggests otherwise, this isn’t primarily about their relationship with Reese Witherspoon’s character, Carrie Davis, or even about adjusting to American culture. It’s primarily about the “Lost Boys (and girls) of Sudan,” as it should be. It’s their story and the movie places them squarely in the middle of it. There are even movements where, if it were Hollywood (and certainly if it were Disney), someone would save the day from making a decision on only difficult options. So I would say to the folks who say that the film is water-down for Hollywood that they can, of course, watch a documentary – may I recommend The Lost Boys of Sudan. Moreover, wallowing in the misery and pain would not make the story any more authentic; we’re in the theater for a couple of hours watching a film. At most, we would be made uncomfortable in the horrific nature of the war. We have plenty from the film to sense that – drinking urine, soldiers mowing down children with machine guns and a cold shoulder for help. No, I think they played it right.

2014 Toronto International Film Festival Portraits - Day 5

The main characters, Mamere, Jeremiah, Paul and Abital, display a genuineness that is so starkly different from the jadedness of our culture that they are frequently not taken seriously. Their care for each other is refreshing as is the authentic faith they display. There is no health-and=wealth gospel nor is there fitting into a mega-church. There is a Bible carried for hundreds of miles , prayer in the midst of death at the refugee camp and clinging to hope in their God when all external reasons for hope are long gone. Uniting the family is one of their primary aims.

Now, of course, there are the comedic moments of adjusting to American culture and the presumption of that everyone knows the basics of modern culture. My favorite adjustment is the photograph of Abital stuck on the phone – a low-tech Skype. However, the focus is on remaining who they are and on being whole. Bringing everyone together.

What I Loved:

  • The relationships, even when difficult, between Theo, Mamere, Jeremiah, Paul and Abital, both young and old.
  • The genuineness of their faith.
  • The fact that so many Americans stepped up and opened their lives to those displaced.
  • Their integrity and lack of guile.
  • That it wasn’t particularly Hollywoody or Disney
  • The often beautiful landscape
  • The story
  • Using those who were lost to show how they were found by each other

What I Liked Less

  • The displacement in the first place and what they had to go through.

It’s a marvelous film and I cannot recommend it enough. The soundtrack is seriously cool as well.

BoysCarrie

*****************Spoilers************************

If this were full-on Hollywood, no one would die on the road, Carrie would have been the hero and the focus rather than the family themselves and Carrie would have been on a plane and “saved the day” for Mamere to be back in America with Theo et. al. That Theo sacrifices his freedom for his brother and to serve in the hospital in the refugee camp is simply outstanding.

A Month of No New Books—Day 15

J. T. Frazier:

half way – cool. Now that you can start to see the end of the challenge, what about a new one – at least two existing books read for evey one bought? I think that will be my personal challenge

Originally posted on wanderingbarkhumanities:

I am halfway there! Isn’t that amazing? I think it’s amazing…then again I’m the one trying to detox myself from buying books. You might also think it’s amazing. Then again, you might also think I never should’ve been buying that many books to begin with. And you’d be right.

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A Month of No New Books—Day 10

J. T. Frazier:

Read more about the saga of discipline within our book buying addiction continues! Oh, actually reducing rather than building the TBR list – what a concept! The lyrics from Sound of Music come to me when I look at mine- Climb every mountain… Continue good wishes on your journey in book buy discipline

Originally posted on wanderingbarkhumanities:

Well, here we are. Ten days in, and I haven’t bought any new books. Not even for my daughter for Christmas (I did start buying Christmas presents early…I always do). I think I might be turning a corner as far as my addiction is concerned. I think seeing the sheer volume of books waiting for me to read them has had a significant impact on me…and so I am reformed. Maybe. I really want Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. But I am getting closer

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Some Things Change While Others Stay the Same

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“We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not” – Heraclitus

Heraclitus

Heraclitus’ famous phrase was not an ancient Greek understanding of Quantum Physics but rather a statement that all things change. So too for this blog. Music posts are moving to FDRMX, about which more below. All other types of posts will remain right here. Due to some projects, however, I will take a week’s hiatus from posting. Starting on October 21st, look to my typical Tuesday and Thursday posts (with the occasional post thrown in between).

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I’ve been active on this blog for a year and half with a focus on books, music and movies with some technology and culture posts from time to time. I will continue to blog here about all of that except music. While we’re still working out the details, it looks like I’ll be joining the great team over at FDRMX and will writing about music on FDMRX, which focuses exclusively on music. So for those of you who have followed my blog for the music posts, thanks. I hope some have been helpful. If you’re interested, you can still follow my posts on FDMRX here. In fact, I have five posts there now on everything from a review of Joshua Bell’s Bach to a review of “You and Me”, the first song from Pink and City and Colours’ collaboration as You+Me. I still write on topics I pick, still call ‘em as I see ‘em and still provide examples and evidence for all the points I make. It’s not just reviews I’ll be writing either; there are some general music blog posts. For example, I wrote one on the benefits of subscribing to a music service as well as on the need (or lack thereof) of violinist Joshua Bell’s to redeem himself after being ignore playing Bach in a subway. So, it’s still me on music, maybe just taking it up a notch. While there, you’ll want to check out some of the other writers. There’s an amazing amount of cool content for all things music. 

Remember, posts about books, movies and technology will continue right here; there will still be posts at least on Tuesdays & Thursdays with occasional posts between. It’s a very amicable split with myself allowing each part of me to focus more.

Review of The Circuit – Executor Rising

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Rhett Bruno’s debut novel, The Circuit: Executor Rising, creates an intriguing world in which a post-earth universe revolves around an economy of Gravitum, a dangerous but powerful element that allows us to survive low gravity over the long term. The Tribunal pretty much runs the universe while the Circuit, and its keepers, provide a neutral conduit through which people and commerce flow: “The Circuit weaves together all of humanity.” Mr. Bruno has a lot going on in his novel. Political machinations of the Ceresian Pact and other “fringe” settlements, a strange religion with Earth Whisperers who are waiting for a reborn Earth to welcome mankind back after he decimated the planet, an apparent rebel, Cassius (this time, there may be no Brutus), with his über talented android ADIM (clearly with pun intended) and an Executor, Sage, thrust in the middle of it all. And yes, there are even more subplots.

[Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Circuit for an honest review}

Rhett Bruno

Rhett Bruno

Mr. Bruno does an amazing job with the plot, keeping all of this vast universe together in a way that makes sense. His pacing in the storyline is spot on. The character side of the book is a bit more mixed for me. Sage is a delightful character who has conflicted thinking about the various sides of the intermingled conflicts, richly complex emotions she’s just learning to manage after suppressing them for her missions and is about as caring as an assassin can be. Those who make up the Tribunal and their official apparatus of Hands and Executors are one sided bad guys (with the exception of Sage). A little murkiness is thrown in where, periodically, they seem to be true believers but it’s clear they realize their actions are directed towards their own gain. The murkiness may simply be that they have given the party line so often, they’ve begun to delude themselves and start believing it.

Cassius, like Sage, has some complexity to him but ultimately fails to be a compelling protagonist for me. His main motive of revenge (say what he likes about freeing the universe from the control of the Tribune) and the, quite frankly, evil methods he is willing to employ to see that happen, make him an uncompelling figure for me. Too much anti in the anti-hero. (I’ll argue this point more, but that requires spoilers so it will be past the spoiler section, for those who have already read it.)

One of the other challenges, at least for me, was the phrasing, both in the narrative and as part of the dialog. Folks have different preferences here, but for me, too much of the writing came off artificial and stiff. A bit like someone putting on a British accent to sound formal. I think I can provide some spoiler-free examples so you can come to your own conclusions for your own tastes:

[Cassius recording for posterity] “It has been four years, but now I, Cassius Vale, am on the verge of the greatest breakthrough in human history since the discovery of the element Gravitum deep within the earth. “

[Captain of the Solar-Ark that transports goods and people along the Circuit] “The Tribune may control Earth, but we keep you and your ilk alive despite how they may feel about you!” He wheeled around, snobbishly tossing his cape over his arm before he snickered.”

This kind of posturing isn’t my cup of tea. It’s mainly Cassius who pontificates with Tribunes and Captains following close behind. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some phrasing that I think is lovely:

“The planet’s tilted discs wrapped it like crescent blades of ice and dust. Their soft pallet of blues, oranges and browns flawlessly complemented the toiling atmosphere of the gas-giant. Dancing around all of that was an archipelago of smaller bodies, one of which was the pale orange orb of Titan where she headed. Nearby was the smaller moon know as Enceladus…”

What do I see as the difference? The latter describes the movement, look and feel of the discs. It allows me to see the discs in my mind’s eye. I want to piece it together as if I’m there. I prefer you not tell me someone snobbishly throws a cape over his arm, rather describe the actions so that I sense that it was snobbish. Rather than a monologue to inform me of the greatness of what the character is doing, I prefer you to let the circumstances, snatches of dialog with others or their reaction allow me to conclude how brilliant and important the character’s work. As Anton Chekhov told us: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

What did I love about The Circuit

  • Its robust world with an incredibly rich set of challenges, politics and people.
  • First rate plot with great pacing of the narrative.
  • Sage
  • ADIM

What was I less fond of regarding The Circuit

  • Cassius as the protagonist willing to use any means for his goal
  • Some of the phrasing, especially Cassius’s speeches and some of his dialog.
  • The Tribunal and their minions were pretty narrow, one-sided characters.

Overall, I enjoyed The Circuit, it’s even likely that I’ll read the next book in the series However, for my tastes, the lack of a compelling protagonist and the mixed phrasing are enough keep what could be a great book as a good one.

****Spoiler Alert****DON’T READ BELOW THE LINE UNTIL YOU’VE READ THE BOOK 

I’m OK with anti-heroes. I love Han Solo (who doesn’t) and Malcolm Reynolds (again, who doesn’t) but I don’t see either of them stooping to blowing up a mining asteroid of non-combatants or killing everyone aboard a ship who were civilian by-standers, to accomplish their goals (other than in self-defense, ala the Death Star). Those are unacceptable actions of a hero, even an anti-hero. For me, the protagonist needs to be the good guy (unless I’m purposely reading about a bad guy ala James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis. The Tribunal are clearly laid out as the bad guys but there is no good guy, with the possible exception of Page, but that story is left incomplete). Now, you might say, “Joe, you’re fussing about the Tribunal being one-sided, but here’s this nice complex character with mixed motives trying to free the galaxy.” I’m all for some mixed motives or, better yet, mixed execution on the right motives. Even failing to live up to one’s own standard can be compelling. That’s fine, but Cassius is mainly about revenge and a little about freedom and the ends do not justify the means. He needs to find another way. Because of this lack of moral standard, I do not empathize with him. For me, it’s critical that I empathize with the protagonist. Otherwise, I’m less invested in the story. For example, if Cassius were to die, I would be OK. When it appeared Gandalf died, I threw the book across the room, mentally screamed at Tolkien “How could you?!?” and took about another half hour to calm down before picking the book up again. That’s connection.

I think the quote “I may not care for people, but I love humanity. I love what we stand for; what we’ve accomplished; our limitless potential to expand and invent. I will not sit idly by as the Tribune holds us back!” summarizes nicely the areas I find challenging for The Circuit 

  • What does it mean to care about humanity but not people? This is the hubris of Cassius at its full. You don’t love humanity, you love how you think things should run.
  • You will kill people, eviscerate planets and thrust the galaxy into chaos all in the name of not holding humanity back. Surely there is often a cost, often pain and death, to achieve freedom to pursue one’s calling. That ought to be a cost we willingly take on as the price of freedom, not one man’s dream to thrust it on us as he gets his “revenge” for his son’s death. A death, I might add, that the son came under whilst pursuing what he voluntarily wanted to do with the encouragement of the Tribune whose rescue they delayed in prevent Cassius immediate take off to rescue his son when that rescue would have endangered many other lives with little hope of success.

Read The Circuit and decide for yourselves. The world created and the story of it, by themselves, is worth the read.

Timebound – Rysa Walker

J. T. Frazier:

Nice, detailed review of Timebound, as one always finds on Bookish.

Originally posted on Bookish:

Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1)

Time Travel, strong female lead, 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, multiple time lines – what’s not to like.  ‘Timebound’ is the first in Rysa Walker’s Chronos Series.  At this point we know there will be at least three books in the series.  The second book is scheduled to drop on October 21, 2014.  I’m ready for it now.  This is light and fun young adult fiction adults can enjoy.  Walker would have delved much deeper into the science of time travel etc. had it been for an adult audience but  ‘Timeboound’ is still solid.  In some respects it has a flavor of Connie Willis’s take on time travel, but that detracted nothing for me.  Walker also travels to The White City of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.  This is an intriguing time frame for the amount of inventions, scientific discovery, rampant crime, the onslaught of a huge population influx in Chicago…

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A Month of No New Books—Day Three

J. T. Frazier:

It’s always intriguing when someone else is transparent about our addictions – this one is to books and Ms. Wheat is exercising some discipline on her addiction. It’s also amazing how, once we say no, the temptations seem to fly harder and faster. While I thought I would never encourage someone to avoid buying books – best wishes with this one Ms. Wheat.

Originally posted on wanderingbarkhumanities:

So, I decided October would be my month of buying no new books. In part I decided this because I need to budget for Christmas presents, and also because, well, I have too many books to read already. So far, not buying new books has sucked (is there some rush we get from buying books? Or is that just me?), and it’s only the third day of the month. However, I thought it would be fun to start a blog “series” about all the books I want to buy but have to wait for.

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The Atopia Chronicles Reviewed – A Clever Tale from a Projected Phuture

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Matthew Mather sets up an ambitious project with this novel. He tells a story of a future when, through nanobots (smarticles) and virtual intelligence, we’re able to move from material consumption to virtual consumption and do so on an immensely rich scale. We can live within dream worlds while being green. So goes the theory. The books structure mirrors this future of placing splinters of yourself in various places simultaneously through providing vignettes that follow a single perspective where these vignettes partially overlap each other chronologically. The point-of-view shifts that overlap the next all come to crescendo of a single narrative flow as the novel concludes with some of the core cast of characters collapsing back to a single person. So the very structure of the story, even the pacing of the vignette changes, mirror what our cast of characters endure. Brilliant.

Matthew Mather

Matthew Mather

There is trouble in paradise almost from the beginning. We always go for the apple. Our own depravity is brought with us into the paradise of these virtual worlds. Before I dive in to that, however I’ll focus on the beginning vignette of the novel. To be honest, I almost gave up the novel at the very beginning. Olympia Onassis, erstwhile marketing executive and protagonist within the first vignette, is unequivocally the most obnoxious character I’ve read in the pages of a book. I’ve met many nastier characters who exude evil; she is not “a bad guy,” she’s just seriously irritating.  To say that I didn’t care for this character is similar to Voldemort not caring for Harry. She is a caricature of the pushy New Yorker. Whomever narrated her role (the audio book has multiple narrators, about which more later – UPDATE: Angela Dawe “confessed” to giving voice to Olympia’s New Yorker tone) did a beautiful job bringing out that “Nanny”- like broad accent but ten times more grating. She yells at a clerk from the beginning, she has the attention span of an ant, she is consummately lazy ceding control of her mind because she can’t be bothered and becomes the first one to lose herself in her virtual  pssi (polysynthetic sensory interface) world. I mostly read the Kindle version for this part and avoided the Audible version; at least I didn’t compound the foibles of the character by listening to it spoken with a push New York accent. In fact, I looked at the X-Ray feature of Kindle to see how much she was part of the story. I was delighted to see that she was just in the beginning. Whew. The premise and the execution thereof really intrigued me but there was no way I would read an entire novel filled with Olympia. While I have more fortitude than she (pretty much anyone would), there’s a limit to the pain I’ll endure. I’m really glad I did. Overall, The Atopia Chronicles is not just a clever premise with a rich and diverse world populated with interesting characters, it’s also just plain, good story telling in a novel manner.

As we flit between POVs of the various characters who grow up in with pssi as part of their world or are intimately intertwined with the pssi project, a picture begins to emerge that depravity of man is a much a part of the virtual world and the real one. Relationships are broken, people hurt one another and we bend, or pervert, each aspect of the pssi world to our own warped desires. Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t good in the virtual world. Just as there is good in the real one, there is good in virtual one. However, everyone is trying to take advantage of it, even if subconsciously through deeply hidden splinters of our psyche.

What did I love about The Atopia Chronicles?

  • World Building: Mr. Mather incredible imagination burst forth on Atopia with his pssi world, splintered people and proxxis. Not only does he build a rich world, clearly tied to the possible, but he fleshes out the impact of this world on people (and people on the world). Truly amazing, well explored world
  • Relationships: The relationships developed between the characters, the way their storylines intermingle and the intimacy of experience for the “pssi kids” who group up on a world of seemingly endless possibilities was staggering. Mr. Mather brilliantly explores, through narrative, how the changing world changes relationships yet how our character impacts those new relationships in old ways.
  • Overlapping vignettes: Telling a story from a point of view, then switch the perspective is nothing new; weaving those switches into the nature of the world created and getting a glimpse of the splintered life the characters live is new and brilliant. Changing the pacing of the switches and the amount of overlap as the story draws to a conclusion is genius. .
  • Narrative: With all of the new, cool world and genius moves, it still comes down to storytelling – Mr. Mather is a consummate story-teller.
  • Characters: Really cool, diverse cast of characters. It is another sign of Mr. Mather’s capabilities that he can write from so empathetically from so many starkly different points of view is astounding. It was an equally brilliant move to have the audio version use multiple cast members to handle these diverse characters

What was I less fond of?
Olympia Onassis: Actually the words loathe, hate or abhor all come to mind. I really can’t stand the woman.

Top N. Podehl, L. Daniels & A Dawe Bottom T. Eby, A. McFadden & M. Naramore Side M. Foster (director)

Top Narrators: Nick Podehl, Luke Daniels & Angela Dawe Bottom Narrators: Tanya Eby, Angela McFadden & Mikael Naramore Side: Director, Mel Foster

As I often do, I went between the Kindle and the Audible versions of the book. As I indicated above, the narration was brilliant (Olympia’s narration a little too brilliant) and all of this incredible voice talent was used well. Unlike some multi-cast books, these narrators primarily took on a character but voiced everyone in the vignette presented from their character’s point of view. A challenge indeed and I must, therefore, commend Mel Foster for keeping it all together.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you. If you happened to be like me and do not care for Olympia, push on. It’s worth it.

Anne Akiko Meyers’s The American Masters Reviewed – Fresh, Contemporary Orchestral Music Beautifully Played

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There is so much to love about Anne Akiko Meyer‘s new album, The American Masters (not to be confused with The American Album). Not only does it begin with one of the most lyrical, rich violin concertos of the 20th century (and one of the most played), Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14, it also contains two commissioned works. Sandwiched in the middle is a lush lullaby by John Corigliano commissioned as a gift from Ms. Meyers husband celebrating their daughter Natalie. It ends with Mason Bates Violin Concerto which contains Mr. Bates signature contemporary music that stretches the listener while remaining accessible and often melodic. If nothing else, this album dissuades you from the idea that Classical music is all about old, dead Germans. Don’t get me wrong, I love old dead German music as evidenced by Ms. Meyers’s Air: The Bach Album. However, the more I listen to modern orchestral music, the more important I think it is to be stretched musically (as I outlined here). The album shows the fresh vibrancy of contemporary orchestral music highlighted with Ms. Meyers precise yet expressive playing.

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Leonard Slatkin

The album has a brilliant progression starting with Barber’s Concerto. After 9/11, many people probably associate his name with his Adagio for Strings, op.11 since it so well captured the mood of the country and was played so frequently. His Concerto for Violin and Orchestra takes a similar, lyrical approach resulting in sheer beauty. Ms. Meyers has that rare ability to be precise and disciplined in her playing whilst evoking all of the emotion and expression contained in the piece. She does that throughout the album. This approach is brought out further in her collaboration on the album with Leonard Slatkin, in conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra; they exude disciplined passionate music making.

While you might be tempted to think that Lullaby for Natalie is a fluff piece with no real musical conflict needing resolution, listen carefully to the story.  The nestling in, the settling in and the drifting off to sleep. The very simplicity and progression could so easily come off sloppy and dull. Instead, each part of the progression is beautifully portrayed. Sometimes I think we’ve come to associate anything that is pleasant to listen as lacking depth. At least for me, sonic beauty is OK.

Anne Akiko Meyers

Anne Akiko Meyers

Mason Bate’s Violin Concerto presents more of that obvious depth and challenge but it doesn’t leave its audience behind. Take the opening movement, Archaeopteryx. It may have a little of the frenetic energy and jumpiness of an almost-bird-partly-dinosaur but half-way through the movement you sense this sheer gracefulness of gliding. It’s this kind of combination that seems to set Mr. Bates apart from some of his contemporaries – lyrical sections set against quick transitions all with a melodic thread tying it together. This is also where that disciplined expressive nature of Ms. Meyers really shines. Precise, fast-paced transitions with melodic interludes embedded within each movement requires top technical competence while maintaining the expressive nature of the work.  Lakebed memories portray that same type of juxtaposition for this mixed bird – it comes to rest but hops around as noise or movement make it uneasy. The Rise of the birds, the final movement, is just flat-out gorgeous. Nature documentarians ought to fall over themselves to use this as soundtrack to birds in flight.  It also does a nice job of bringing together the albums overall lush, rich tone with a beginning of quick movement of take-off to the long, sweet sounds of full flight.

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John Clare, from KMFA radio,  has an nice interview with Ms Meyers: Bach, Dinosaurs, Lullabies, & Perpetual Motion (KMFA)

Of course, all of these words are all inadequate to express the lovely music making contained in the album, go visit here to try it out a bit for yourself.
Happy listening.

Christina Farley’s Silvern Reviewed – Revving up the Mythology while Ramping up the Challenge

ChristinaFarley

Christina Farley

Christina Farley pulled a rabbit, or rather a Blue Dragon, out of a hat with Gilded (reviewed here); was there anything left in the hat for Silvern? You see, one of the things that made Gilded such a fun, fresh read was the use Korean mythology juxtaposed to modern day Seoul, South Korea and the international students populating this world. So, its sequel, Silvern, had a bit of a challenge; the world Christina Farley created so well is now, comparatively speaking, old hat. Can Silvern generate the same level of excitement with that newly minted shine dulled a bit with use? No, no it can’t. Instead it goes even further, generating a whole new level of intensity with established relationships going deeper, a much more involved romp in the Spirit World and a foray into North Korea. It is a slightly darker, more intense world with our protagonist, Jae Hwa, having to deal with issues and decision making with which no 16 year old ought to have cope. If you thought Jae Hwa was between a rock and a hard place in Gilded, she’s between mountain and fire in Silvern.

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Just when you thought it was safe to defeat a demi-god and have a bit of a rest, here comes the god for whom said defeated demi-god served. You’d think he’s come for revenge, but keeping in line with a fine tradition of many bad guys, he looks at this as a recruitment opportunity. “If Jae Hwa defeated my demi-god servant, then she would make for an even better servant,” goes the thinking. That, plus she has some unique characteristics having one foot in South Korea and one in the Spirit World. Of course, those kind of employment opportunities aren’t always presented as an optional choice.

Eventually everything leads to traveling to North Korea to do some reconnaissance and possibly recover a powerful relic. As a side benefit, she helps improve and save lives. There is a rift in the Spirit World that mirrors the 38th parallel, the border between North and South Korea. Palk can’t enter the realm of Kud who rules the North, so Jae Hwa goes to retrieve the orb. Adventure ensues. People are killed or hurt. Mythological creatures are destroyed and life will never be quite the same for our cast of characters. Then there is the cliff, the cliff upon which Ms. Farley hangs us out to dry until the next book. We will not quite be the same again. Seriously, Ms. Farley does a nice job wrapping up the story in Silvern but does leave us over the precipice at the conclusion; I think she kind of likes dangling us over the edge. Be that as it may, she has set herself up for some high expectations to bring this to a beautiful resolution. No pressure or anything.

NKDMZ

North Korea DMZ

What did I love about Silvern?

  • World Building: While we became more familiar with the Korean Mythic world via Gilded, there is so much rich material here and it was cool to not only explore it, but to be immersed in it.
  • Relationships: Relationships become more complicated and extended. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a father who thinks I need to be committed, a boyfriend who is officially assigned as my security detail and a smart girlfriend who will not leave well enough alone. OK, maybe I know a little about that last part. All of this, while always knowing that the “collateral damage” of this battle against Kud may be those for whom she most deeply cares.
  • North Korean Tie-In: I thought it was a brilliant move to have the South / North Korean divide the Spiritual World as well. We see parallels (other than the 38th)  between these worlds time after time.
  • Narrative: While the story line was cool in Gilded, I was so engrossed in the world, the people and the action that the story became almost the thread that held all of it together. In Gilded, it’s a web that pulls many disparate elements into a coherent narrative whole. Now they are both as equally important as Ms. Farley drives forward this battle between good and evil.
  • Characters:The level of eyes-wide-open sacrifice that must be made by teenagers is staggering. These guys don’t just give up their Friday night fun to serve, they give themselves. They are fully committed to the endeavor. Their concern, actually, isn’t even so much the price they’ll pay but the price the ones they love pay.

CliffsofInsanity

What was I less fond of?
The Cliffs of Insanity: Of course, we all secretly enjoy cliff-hangers to some extent. We really look forward to the answers to come, but there is that element of “NOOOO. YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME!” There might have been a bit of that in our household.

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Greta Jung

As I often do, I went between the Kindle and Audible versions (using Whispersync for Voice to keep a smooth transition). Greta Jung did a fine job narrating especially within the dialog. I loved her Marc who came off with a bit of smooth, cool voice without being arrogant. I did notice that the fluidity of the dialog didn’t always carry over to the non-dialog reading; I don’t remember this being an issue in Gilded, but the pacing within the non-dialog parts could be a bit stilted and awkward. I’m not sure if this was to help clarity, but I didn’t hear as much nuance and emotion on the non-dialog narration as when there was dialog between characters. Overall, however, Ms. Jung narrates the work well, conveying both the English and Korean cultural elements well. I look forward to Ms. Jung’s narration of the rest of the series.

Silvern does exactly what sequels ought to do; it takes the foundation laid by the first book and takes everything to a deeper level raising the bar for the rest of the series. I highly commend Silvern to your reading pleasure. I.E., it rocks.

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