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Wrath of the Eternal Warrior
Vol. One: Risen
By Robert Venditti & Raul Allen
Collects Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1-4
Review by Josh Brandon
The first thing I desperately want to get across is how jaw-dropping-ly beautiful Raul Allen’s art is within the pages of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. I have been excited for month to get a chance to sit down and read this book purely based on flipping through and see the beauty that lies inside this volume. Okay, now that that's out of my system…
I have been debating for a while as to where to start my reviews when it comes to Valiant Comics. Ever since their company re-launch a couple of years back I have fallen madly in love with every title I can get my grubby little hands on, and this book is no exception. That said, I do not recommend this book as a solid starting place for some one new to get into a Valiant state of mind, and here’s why.
While this book is the first volume of the latest series to star Gilad Anni-Padda, it spins heavily out of the earlier mini-series Book of Death (which is another fantastic read that will be reviewed soon). For the start of this book you need to know one massive spoiler from that mini-series, so if you want to avoid it, now is the time to look away.
Are you ready?
Seriously, look away now…
At the end of Book of Death the Eternal Warrior dies defending the earth. Wrath of the Eternal Warrior however centers on the after life our eternal warrior deserves and how he must, yet again, leave paradise to return to a world that desperately needs him to save it. Over the course of the four issues, Robert Venditti delves deep into both the reasons why Gilad must leave his paradise and all the temptations that could keep him there. Paired perfectly with this sentiment is Raul Allen’s beautiful art that captures both the intimate family moments and the massive battle scenes in a way that could leave even the most jaded comic lover stunned.
Reflecting on a new Valiant trade becomes difficult for me as a fan because it is hard not to fall completely in love with each new character you are introduced to in this universe, which is no small feat for a company with so many properties to explore. It can be certain, however that any comic reader will be more than happy with which every aspect of this universe they decide to explore first.
For Fans of: Vikings, Conan the Barbarian, Dante’s Inferno
In addition to creating a lot of art for this website, Josh has been reading comics for as long as he can remember. An avid fan of the craft, has has a degree in English Literature and works to get his own work off the ground. He is also found of movies and his dog. (He's the one with glasses, if you're wondering.)
Monday sucked. Kyle was late with the files I'd ordered which put me late for my meeting with Henderson which made me miss lunch which upset my stomach which caused me to spew all over Kolbinskie's shoes as he passed by my cube which made him order me to go home early. "Big meeting with Holpatrick and Ferguson tomorrow. Get some rest, Julia," and when I went outside to my car it was gone. Stolen.
I waited forty-five minutes in the coffee shop for an officer to fill out a report. My cell was in the car and my husband ignored the forty calls I made to his cell from the payphone at the coffee shop--he never answered unknown numbers--so I had to catch a cab home. Twenty-one dollars and fifty-cents plus tip. It was dark when I finally walked up the driveway. In the garage sat Dan's BMW--he was always forgetting to close the garage door--and my Volvo wagon sat in the drive. Had the police already recovered it? Weird.
As I walked toward the front steps I fished the house keys out of my purse. Something caught my eye as I passed by the window. I took two steps back and stared. There was a woman in my kitchen and she was washing the dishes. What the hell?
I walked closer to the window for a better look. Not only was she washing dishes she was wearing one of my sweaters. The ugly brown and gray one my mother-in-law gave me before she died. I hated that thing, never wore it. My husband walked in from the den, marched right up to this stranger and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her from behind, hands on her tummy, his lips caressing her neck. I was floored. Stunned. At a loss. My husband was having an affair. Right in our house. No wonder he hadn't answered his cell.
I watched, helpless as they held each other for what seemed like forever. I couldn't move. I was taken aback. And then this woman turned around and kissed my husband square on the mouth, suds dripping from her yellow vinyl gloves and running down his back as they embraced. "Daniel, no--" I gasped. "Please--" My husband of fifteen years with another woman. A woman who was washing his dishes? Is that what turned him on?
They pulled apart and immediately I recognized her. Shoulder length strawberry blonde hair, pointed nose, soft blue eyes, tiny scar on her chin from when she fell off a swing in kindergarten. This was no other woman. This was some other me. An exact duplicate. Right down to the touch of gray at my temples that hair color never seems to cover up completely. But how? Had a doppelgänger taken my place, caused my husband to forget I was at work, that I hated ugly brown and gray sweaters? I never wore gloves when I washed the dishes. Hell, I never even washed the dishes.
"Dinner'll be right up, Danny Boy," she told him as they pulled apart. "Okay, Jules, I'm just gonna finish that bill for the Parker's." He patted my--I mean her--rear before he left the room.
Danny Boy? Jules? Daniel hadn't called me Jules since our second date and never again once I informed him how much I disliked it. This was all a bad dream. Had to be. I must have slipped in the vomit I'd spewed all over Kolbinskie's shoes earlier, hit my head on a file cabinet and was probably in a coma right this very moment, Dan in a sobbing heap in the chair beside my bed, weeping like a hung-over cheerleader the day after prom.
"Jules" snapped off the gloves, pulled something out of the oven--a soufflé?--and carried it out into the dining room. A homemade pie lay cooling on a rack on the counter, its top neatly criss-crossed with strips of dough; two Cornish hens sat patiently next to it. Her apron was nauseatingly embroidered with yellow sunflowers. Who the hell did she think I was, Rachel Ray?
Okay, something was definitely not right. This other me may have had my haircut, my nose, my build, but she definitely didn't have my sense of style. Wearing my husband's dead mother's sweater, washing dishes, fixing extravagant meals, submissively allowing my husband to smack her on the ass--didn't she know how to use the phone to call a pizza or what paper plates were for or how to command her own personal space? This hussy was getting to be too much. She walked back in and pulled a bottle of wine from the fridge. My mind was made up. I was going to barge in there, smack her with the cast iron skillet hanging above the stove--hey, I finally found a good use for the thing!--and shove her into the trash compactor. Stealing my husband was one thing, but to spoil him at the same time? Oh, no no no. This would not do. I'd put too much time into this relationship to let this Suzy Homemaker replicant take over now.
I could do this--sneak in, whack her on the head, dispose of the body. How hard could it be? This other me had nothing on the real me. Three mornings a week at the gym for spinning class had kept me lean, strong and firm even into my forties. I was ready, pumped up, I still had the front door key in my hand, I was all set to charge--when a bawling, screaming rug rat, barely able to walk, came into the kitchen and latched onto "Danny Boy's" new wife's leg.
"Mama!" it gleefully hollered through a face full of snot.
That bitch. Not only had she done the Stepford wife thing, she'd done me one better and given him a kid.
Okay, now it was war.
I spent the next few days in a Holiday Inn breakfasting at Starbucks and watching reruns of Law and Order trying to make sense out of what had happened. But I couldn't make sense out of any of it no matter how hard I tried. This was too weird, too scary, too strange. I drove to work in the Volvo--I had the keys, it was sitting right there n the driveway, it was in my name after all--spent even more time at the gym and ate dinner alone. It was killing my Visa but what choice did I have?
My cell wasn't to be found in the car, Jules must've had it with her. After a week I gathered up the courage and called it. "She" answered.
"You bitch. What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"What?" I said, taken by surprise. That was going to be my line.
"Keep the car, I don't care. Just stay the hell away from my family." I didn’t recognize my own voice. Is that what I really sounded like--all nasally and high-pitched?
"It was my family first. You're the one who needs to get lost. I want my husband back."
"Well, he doesn't want you anymore. He appreciates all I do for him. Cooking, cleaning the house--"
"We have a maid."
"I fired her. I do it all now--cooking, cleaning, running errands, filling out paperwork for his business and I make sure that I'm never too tired to screw his brains out four times a week."
"Hey! That's not fair! I work a lot of hours and there's--"
"There's always the gym, isn't there? You spend more time with the stair machine than you do at home with your own husband. You're sad and pathetically self-centered." She was so right I was about to cry. "I keep Danny happy now. Get over it." She was about to hang up on me but I stopped her.
"How did this happen to us?"
"What do you mean?"
"What happened to make us two now instead of one?" She was quiet now, mulling this over.
"I--I don't know. I've thought about it but can't come up with a reason. Sometimes things happen beyond our control or understanding. Some things happen for the best."
"How can this be for the best?"
"Well, you can live your life the way you always wanted now. Work at the office as much you want, take that vacation in Italy that Dan would never do. And me, well, I can stay at home and raise Marianna, maybe have more kids. Danny always wanted a boy as well as a girl."
"What about the house? I can't live at a hotel the rest of my life!”
"Get an apartment or--I know! A condo on the beach! You always wanted that."
"You have an answer for everything, don't you?"
"Just trying to be helpful."
"You can help by giving me my life back!" I was in tears now. How could she be so callous, so calm? "I want my life back, dammit! I want my husband, my house. How could you do this to me?"
There was no answer except for the click on the other end.
I could've taken her advice. I could've left well enough alone. But I just couldn’t bring myself to give up just yet. I wanted my old life back. I wanted my house, my bed, my pajamas, my maid, my Daniel. But mostly I wanted that bitch, Jules, to suffer as I had. Here's a fun fact you should know about me: I was the first person in my family to be diagnosed with mental illness. Manic depression. Extreme feelings of guilt. Could that have evolved over into the years into a split-personality which had actually split me physically as well? Had another and separate persona gone off in search of a better life and usurped mine? Here's another fact: One year into our marriage I had an affair with a co-worker that my husband had never found about. Now he would.
I looked up the number for the florist, punching in the numbers with quick stabbing motions.
#"Are you trying to wreck our marriage?"
"My marriage. Remember? I was there first. And I'm the one trying to salvage it."
"Well the flowers from Robert didn't work. I'd already told Danny about your little indiscretion. He took it very well. Did you know he confessed to sleeping with Marcy while you were in Denver last year?"
"What! That son of a--wait a minute, who's Marcy?"
"Waitress at Hooters. Not anyone we know."
"You kicked him to the curb I hope!"
"I forgave him like any good wife would. Then I took full blame for it all. 'It was all my fault,' I told him. 'And I'll never give you reason to stray again, honey.'"
"You're lying. You're making this up to make me hate Daniel so I won't fight for him anymore."
"Believe whatever you want. But remember, I'm here and you're not."
I hate her I hate her I hate her I hate her I hate her I hate her I hate her I hate her...
"I love your hair"
"Well if you love it so much why don't you marry it?"
"I'd marry you any day, baby. What's your name?"
"Go screw yourself."
"Is that Ms. or Mrs?"
"Look. I only came in here for a drink. So get the hell away from me."
"C'mon, baby. Don't talk that way. Let me buy you a drink."
"The lady said for you to get the hell away from her. You should take that advice."
"Who the hell are you?"
"I'm the guy who's gonna punch your lights out in about three seconds."
"Okay, okay. Jeez..."
"Uh, thanks, but I really don't need your help."
"You don't remember me do you?"
"Mark. Mark Kearney. From high school."
"Ohmigod! I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you."
"Hey, that's okay. I was over in that booth over there and was trying to get up the nerve to talk to you when I saw Mr. Suave bugging you and took that as a sign."
"Well, I'm glad you did. Really."
"So what have you been up to since high school?"
"Um, you know. This and that. Working."
"Someone told me you got married."
"Yeah. Still am. A ring and everything."
"Oh, okay. Well, would it be out of line for me to ask for your number?"
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. Forget it. I didn't mean to put you on the spot. It was great seeing you. Really. I'll see you around."
The run in with Mark left me dazed, confused. Horny. Yeah, I could've taken him back to my room at the Holiday Inn and screwed him senseless but it just wouldn't have felt right. I wanted Daniel. And I wanted him bad. It'd been over a week and if Jules could have sex with my husband then why couldn't I? All it would take on my part was a little bit of planning and a little bit of seduction.
And the secret to seduction is surprise.
"Jules! What are you doing here?"
I grimaced at the "Jules" but somehow managed to give him my best come hither look. He stood behind his desk, there were little stacks of papers all over it, leaning precariously.
"I wanted to surprise you. Look, I bought a new outfit." I dropped my coat. Underneath I was wearing nothing but a hundred and twenty dollars of black shear and lace (on sale.) "Cancel your appointments; you're having lunch on me this afternoon." I placed a can of pear slices on his desk and began to open them with the can opener I had tucked into my garter. Dammit! It wasn't working, I could never work them damn things, so I gave up halfway, tossed my hair back and sashayed towards him around the desk.
"But the Harbor account is pending! I don't have the time!"
"Then we'll just have to make time, won't we?" I shoved a stack of papers out of the way, scooted my ass onto his desk, grabbed him by the tie and pulled him in close, wrapping one leg around him while doing so. Yeah, I felt slutty but what the hell.
"What about the baby?"
"Mary Anne? I got a sitter."
"No," he patted my stomach tenderly even--gross--fatherly. "The new one."
Stunned, I stared at him as if I was a slack jawed Venus de Milo in a hundred and twenty dollars of black shear and lace (on sale, thank god.) My ass was suddenly very wet and cold on his desk--I must have knocked over that half-opened can of pears. Before I could say or do anything the door opened.
"Hey, Danny! Ready for lu--" I could feel his co-workers eyes on my nearly naked, embarrassed and goosebump covered self. My ass was sticking to the desk blotter from all the pear juice.
And so I learned that the secret to seduction wasn't surprise. It was timing.
I spent the next week in my hotel room, alone. I called in sick to work. Kolbinskie was torqued but I didn't care. The curtains stayed drawn, the light stayed off, my head stayed under the covers. Even the television didn't come on.
What did I care? My life was going on without me, unconcerned to my wants and needs. The phone rang. I pulled the cord out of the wall and tried to cry myself to sleep but failed at even that.
The next Monday morning there was a knock upon my door.
"Hey, it's me. Jules. Open up."
"I've been calling you at work but they said you haven't been there."
"I took some time off to clear my head. How'd you find me?"
"I checked my credit card online."
"I changed the password."
"Yeah, 'jewel4dan,' real cute."
"I just wanted to call you and tell you we were moving to Colorado next week. Dan got a promotion."
"Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant?"
"Would it have mattered?"
"Boy or girl?"
"Boy, I think. Danny hopes so. I'll find out for sure when it pops out in about five few months."
"Five months? But Dan and I have only been apart for a few weeks!"
"You don't have to explain biology to me."
"That should have been me. I should be having Dan's baby."
"You know that would never work. Besides, you were on birth control. Can you really see yourself raising a child while trying to have the career you've worked so hard for all these years?"
"So is this how it happened? The decision of whether or not to raise a child or not is what caused all this? Made another me? Is this what ruined my life? Did I bring all this down on myself?"
"It only ruins your life if you let it. And you know there is another possibility."
"Maybe I'm not the other you--perhaps you're the other me."
Kolbinkskie didn't fire me; I caught up on the Ferguson account; I went shopping for a place to live. An apartment near the museum--not a condo on the beach.
No one at work ever asked about my husband, I never had to say a word. The spinning classes and stair machine at the gym turned into long walks through the historic district with a German Shepherd I rescued from the Humane Society. I made new friends and went dancing with them on the weekends.
One night, at a bar watching a local band play, I saw Mark talking with a friend. He saw me and begun walking my way. Instinctively, I glanced down at the ring on my finger.
It wasn't there. Perhaps it never had been.
Copyright 2015 Roy Peak
Roy Peak has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
by Carrie Brownstein
Published October 2015
Review by Roy Peak
What do rock stars like Keith Richards, Justin Bieber, and Beyoncé do when they take time off from touring and recording? Go on drug-filled trips to lush islands with an entourage in tow. Rent the entire floor of a Manhattan hi-rise for all-night, every-night debaucherous parties for them and their friends. You know—the usual. So, what did Carrie Brownstein from the rock band Sleater-Kinney do while on a hiatus from her band? Take college courses and volunteer at an animal shelter. She bought a modest house in Portland, Oregon. This is my kind of rock star.
Sleater-Kinney (pronounced “Slayter-Kinney” for those who don’t know) is considered one of the best rock bands of all time by noted music critics Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau, releasing 8 albums of incendiary and fun and noisy rock ‘n’ roll. They were linked with the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s and played the 2006 Lollapalooza festival. Sleater-Kinney was highly influential, fearless, and a true rock ‘n’ roll force to be reckoned with.
Now, most musician autobiographies leave me wanting more. Rock musicians aren’t usually noted for their written prose, but rather how they command a stage. Writing songs and writing books are two differing entities entirely. So even a fantastic writer such as Patti Smith left me hungering for more details on the recording of her albums, especially Horses and Easter. Bob Dylan’s Chronicles left gaping holes in his story, leaving the reader asking more questions at the end than he answered. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon was written too soon after Gordon’s breakup with band mate and ex-husband Thurston Moore. Gordon should have given it more time and distance before telling her story as it came off too angry and bitter in places. Dishing dirt is one thing, not letting go of blame is something else. Juliana Hatfield’s book When I Grow Up is much like Hatfield’s music—a bit hit and miss. She comes off as trying too hard and just barely misses her mark, mistaking detail for energy and candidness for openness.
So when I started Brownstein’s tale of her days in the great Northwest, playing in one of rock’s best bands of all time—I was hoping for greatness but not holding my breath. This ended up being one book I couldn’t put down and that I wished would have been at least as twice as long. Brownstein’s passion for her art is clearly evident, she writes honestly and openly in an intelligent and candid manner, telling her story with an easy grace. Talking about personal issues—life’s failures as well as triumphs—can be difficult, but Brownstein pulls it off wonderfully, sounding like the sort of person you could sit down with at a dinner table or on a bus ride to nowhere and have an awesome conversation with. As a musician myself it was uplifting to read of Brownstein’s early struggles with identity and making musical friendships. Of the learning curve involved when you start out. What’s a stage monitor? Must you use standard tuning just because everyone else does? How do you start a band? More importantly, how do you break one up that just isn’t doing it for you anymore? This is the tale of a musician who hungered to play music, on her own terms, and to make a difference with her music and her life.
I have a few music related books that are essential reading for me, books I re-read every few years. Mystery Train by Greil Marcus. Peter Guralnick’s Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad. I’m adding Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein to that stack.
Roy Peak is a musician and author. His album All Is Well has been reviewed by Sacred Chickens and he is pictured wearing the shirt that he won in a contest after naming the village of Whistlestop.
Your old Uncle Morty is old and tired and dead, though not without the empathy that remains in the empty brain and abstract heart of anyone who has ever worn a suit of flesh. His previous embodiments leave him still puzzling as to why the living seem to value the miracle of being human so very little. Even when they can be led to believe that they themselves might have some intrinsic value they seem always unlikely to give that benefit of the doubt to others. I will give you a few scraps of reasonable advice that I myself found when I walked among the living. It was expressed by two of the best men I have ever known, Kilgore Trout and George MacDonald.
Now you may protest, “Uncle Morty, Kilgore Trout wasn’t real! He was a character in books. He was made up.” And so on.
All I can say is that being true matters more than being real. And if humans could grasp that they might be a good bit better off than they are. (And you may not know of George MacDonald at all…but he was both real and true.)
If you’ve never read God Bless You, Mr, Rosewater, you should. Even if you have, maybe you should look at it again, especially right now. It’s the story of a rich man who moves to a small town in Indiana to care for the plain and “useless” people there, through all of their troubles, depression, alcoholism, ugliness, and squalor, in big ways and small by simply not judging them and giving them what they need on a day to day basis, and also by making sure their volunteer fire department is extremely well-funded – more on that later. In short, Eliot Rosewater, did not measure the worth of the inhabitants of the run down and sad town of Rosewater as a percentage of someone else’s profit.
At any rate, here’s Kilgore Trout elucidating the beauty of Eliot Rosewater’s social experiment, his treatment of everyone no matter how “worthless” as a human being, someone who needs love and attention:
The problem is this: How to love people who have no use?
In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine too. So—if we can’t find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out.
Americans have long been taught to hate all people who will not or cannot work, to hate even themselves for that. We can thank the vanished frontier for that piece of common-sense cruelty. The time is coming, if it isn’t here now, when it will no longer be common sense. It will simply be cruel.
And here’s the bit about the fire department, explained by Kilgore Trout:
Your devotion to volunteer fire departments is very sane, too, Eliot, for they are, when the alarm goes off, almost the only examples of enthusiastic unselfishness to be seen in this land. They rush to the rescue of any human being, and count not the cost. The most contemptible man in town, should his contemptible house catch fire, will see his enemies put the fire out. And, as he pokes through the ashes for remains of his contemptible possessions, he will be comforted and pitied by no less than the Fire Chief.
Trout spread his hands. “There we have people treasuring people as people. It’s extremely rare. So from this we must learn.”
Here’s much the same thing from another perspective in a quote from George MacDonald.
On the rich young ruler
I do not suppose that the youth was one whom ordinary people would call a lover of money. I do not believe he was covetous, or desired even the large increase of his possessions. I imagine he was just like most good men of property: he valued his possessions-looked on them as good. I suspect that in the case of another, he would have regarded such possession almost as a merit, something he deserved. Like most of my readers, he would probably have valued a man more who had some means, and valued him less who had none. Most people have no idea how entirely they will one day alter their judgment, or have it altered for them, in this respect. How much better for them if they alter it themselves.
by Han Kang
Review by Jarad Johnson
In this dark and disturbing novel, the reader is presented with the story of Yeong-hye, who, before a series of nightmares, led a distinctly ordinary life. She was married, and, if not happy, at least content. Until the nightmares. Horrible images of blood and gore, haunted her thoughts night and day. To cleanse and purify her mind, she decides to stop eating meat, much to the dismay of her overbearing husband. And in a world where societal norms are strictly obeyed, this subversive act causes a spiraling sequence of violence and scandal, taking ever more alarming and violent forms, including her own father physically assaulting her, knocking her to the ground and shoving pork into her mouth. Her simple rejection of meat unfolds a series of events that threatens to sever her ties with reality and send her spiraling into an ever-more present fantasy world.
This book was a complete surprise. I expected it to be about the ordeals of being a vegetarian in South Korea, since vegetarianism seems to be somewhat taboo there. It turned out to be so much more, a powerful and disturbing book about a woman who feels that she has lost complete control of her body, that she has no free will. The breaking of a cultural taboo is an attempt to explore the boundaries of her own reality. This is an odd book, but worth the trip over the cultural divide to consider the boundaries of human self-determination.
Jarad attends Middle Tennessee State University, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is majoring in English. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!
The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times
Theology After You’ve Been Left Behind
Jeffrey C. Pugh
Review by Julie Carpenter
The Homebrewed Christianity Guidebook series is an outgrowth of the Homebrewed Christianity podcast, a theology based discussion created by Tripp Fuller; it has an audience of nearly fifty thousand unique listeners. The guidebooks, like the podcasts, are meant to be provocative and to make the reader think. And perhaps, like the Hitchhiker’s Guide, prevent panic in readers faced with theology of all kinds.
Now sometimes, theology seems like a rather tedious and academic quest. Even those who identify as Christians don’t often become deeply involved in such arcane pursuits. But there may be times when theology affects all of us, including you, some of my dear agnostic and atheist friends. And end times theology is one of those occasions.
Jeffrey C. Pugh, the author of this particular guidebook and a Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University, (and also a former professor of mine at Tennessee Wesleyan ) helps guide his readers through the history and impact of End Times Theology, largely without panic.
The book discusses Pugh’s own history with what he terms, Rapture Culture, and his time with The Children of God, an apocalypse obsessed group in the early seventies. Pugh became disillusioned with the group but realized what a firm grip the idea of the end times had on the imagination of Western Culture. In fact, he realized the strength of the End Times Theology is such that it even affects major political decisions. For instance, much of the recent foreign policy of the United States has been at least somewhat influenced by the idea of the rapture. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The book is easy to read, slightly snarky, and well written. If you are a Christian and you have never seriously considered the foundations of your belief about the rapture, whatever that may be, this is a very good book to start with. If you are not a Christian, you should probably be aware of how deeply felt and well rooted this belief system is and how very much it affects your life, whether you want it to or not. This is a book for everyone that wants to delve into an unusual but foundational feature of Western Culture that’s not only important but weirdly entertaining.
Harry Potter and the
JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Review by Jarad Johnson
Based on an original new story by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play premiered worldwide on July 30th, 2016.
Eighteen years after the death of Voldemort and the end of the Great Wizarding War, Harry Potter, now married and a father of three school-age children, is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, along with some of his fWhile he grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy that he doesn’t want and doesn’t feel that he lives up to.
This was an interesting read, to say the least. As a nearly lifelong Harry Potter fan, I was caught off guard at the prospect of continuing the series, after I thought that it had reached its conclusion. And, like many people, I was relatively nervous about re-entering a world that I had loved so as a child. I guessed that it wouldn’t be on par with the original seven books, and unfortunately I think I might have been correct. It’s geared towards middle-grade students, much like the first three books of the series. And it was pleasant to revisit old friends. It was an enjoyable read, but it felt odd. Seeing Harry and the rest of the original characters as adults was disconcerting. On one hand, it was awesome returning to that world, and on the other there was a disconnect that’s difficult to articulate.
I think that it was difficult to fully return to the world because there could have been more substance in the book. It was written as a screenplay, and that took away from the overall reading experience. As a novel, I think that there could have been at least 50-100 pages added, because there was no detail. Not to say that there was no depth, but almost everything that made the other books great is lacking in this installment. As a screenplay, the writing does not reflect the story in the kind of intricate detail that made the original stories so compelling.
However, in this book, an avid reader will uncover more of the history of Harry Potter’s world. For example, Voldemort had a secret daughter. And we get to see how Harry deals with his child being sorted into Slytherin; and trying to differentiate himself from Harry. Unlike Harry, Albus does not relish his time at Hogwarts, and spends time with his one friend named Scorpious, who is the son of Draco Malfoy, Hurry’s longtime rival. But, like, Harry, Albus eventually embarks on his own quest, going back in time to save Cedric Diggory, who was killed by Voldemort. In doing so, he changes the future several times, making Ron fall in love with someone other than Hermione, and even changing who won the Wizarding Wars. Oh yes, we got to see what would have happened if Voldemort had defeated Dumbledore’s Army. So the suspense is triggered not only by what will happen to a new generation of Hogwart’s students, but by whether or not the magical world readers have come to know and love will hold together.
I loved revisiting those familiar characters, older and wiser, along with some new, interesting characters. I really loved how time turners played a key role in this book. We only saw these used briefly in the Prisoner of Azkaban, and it was nice to see elements from the older books incorporated into this novel. Overall, I did enjoy the story and the plot, but I felt that the story suffered from its format.
Jarad attends Middle Tennessee State University, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is majoring in English. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!
The Accidental Wife
by Orla McAlinden
Review by Julie Carpenter
The Accidental Wife is a remarkably well-developed collection of stories set against the backdrop of Northern Ireland’s Troubles. Each story is the expression of a single player in a complicated history, contributing to the larger story that surrounds them all. The stories radiate from the center of the McCann family and the author moves deftly between characters and generations; the well crafted result is that every story stands on its own but taken as a whole the collection is every bit as satisfying and hard to put down as a novel.
McAlinden does not write like a novice, though this is her first story collection. She changes perspective and voice skillfully so that each character becomes his or her own person. McAlinden handles each change of perspective like a pro, even nailing the notoriously difficult second-person point of view to involve the reader deeply and immediately into the experience of a child. The dialect is also at once authentic and understandable, plunging the reader into the setting and the atmosphere of the time and place.
The beauty of the book is the author’s ability to see stories in otherwise ordinary objects and events - from passing through a checkpoint into Belfast to a too-large hayshed built in a farmer’s field. It is in these ordinary things that the life of the family becomes incarnate. Even the small details, like a pack of cigarettes or a cup of tea have weight and importance, as they often do in the memories of our own lives.
And I think in the end that’s the real beauty of the book. Like all the best books, this one delivers the universal through the particular. In the circumstances of the McCann family, we see not only their troubles and triumphs, we see ourselves. This book comes highly recommended.
Purchase The Accidental Wife
Orla McAlinden is an award-winning fiction writer from Portadown, Northern Ireland, now living in Kildare. She was a Greenbean Novel Fair finalist (Irish Writers Centre), and has been awarded the Cecil Day Lewis Emerging Writers Bursary by Kildare County Arts Service. More information at orlamcalinden.com.
This Friday's Book Review will feature Orla McAlinden's new book The Accidental Wife. She is an award winning Irish author (her new book won the Eludia award in 2014) and she has written several book reviews for Sacred Chickens.
The following blog post is published here with her permission. It's a lovely rumination on writing and grief. Please check back in for the review and the link to her book on Friday. The link to her new book is also found throughout and at the end of this essay.
Guest Post by Orla McAlinden
Burial to book launch…
I never intended to write a book (or three) it just kind of happened. Now that the launch for my first published book, entitled The Accidental Wife is organised and confirmed for Wednesday 21st September, in Barker and Jones Bookshop Naas, I thought I’d share an essay I wrote a few years ago about how the floodgates opened and the words poured out. I should of course have shared this two weeks ago, on my dad’s birthday, but that’s me…the genius idea always comes a bit too late.
So here’s the essay, written three years ago when I hardly knew how to switch on a laptop!
My father’s parting gift
365 days ago, I had no idea that one year later I would have written a memoir. I have always known that I can make words leap and soar and bounce around, but I never felt I had anything about which to write. “How many books about Teenage Mutant Ninja Vampires does the world actually need?” I wondered.
My father and I, 1970s Armagh, clip-clopping along. We shared many interests: a passion for horses, history, old books, peace and quiet. These shared hobbies drove us out into the highways and by-ways of rural Armagh. He taught me to ride. He walked beside me, holding a long rope, for years, until I was judged safe, and released. During these long, self-indulgent trips a relationship grew that transcended the hero-worship small girls have for their fathers. We were friends.
My father died a year ago today, after an accident from which he was recovering slowly but satisfactorily. We re-arranged the furniture, on Friday, to facilitate his return from hospital on Monday. He died on Sunday morning.
The early, numb weeks passed in a straightforward fashion. I had four very young children, and a husband to organise. Women whispered at the school gates. “Isn’t she doing well? Isn’t she coping great?” I wondered what all the fuss was about. Friendly people commiserated and I would reply, “Yes indeed, he was a very elderly man. Yes, it was for the best. Yes, things could be a lot worse.” I really thought I meant it!
Afterwards? What I’d call ‘the lost weeks’. I would spend a morning full of murderous rage and frustration; tearing the house apart looking for my wallet, only to find it in the salad drawer of the fridge. I would return from Tesco to feed my family of six for a week, with a half-dozen unripe, unwanted mangoes, and no milk. I leapt to my feet, cursing, late for the school run, having sat down for five minutes, two hours previously.
As always, in times of crisis, I turned to the written word. I ploughed through heavy tomes by eminent psychologists and sociologists. Eventually I landed, by chance, upon ‘You’ll get over it’ by Virginia Ironside. She was full of wise advice and sympathy. I was not going mad; I was grieving!
A little secret tribute
On 27th July 2012, I opened my rarely used laptop. I would write a story, a family history. It would be a secret tribute to my father. I would show nobody. Three hours later, I looked at the work. It was a dusty, half-remembered family legend, passed on to me, probably accidentally, while he re-told and embellished it for his own friends. The piece was finished. It was whole and complete. I did not think, or pause for breath. I submitted it everywhere, I didn’t know any better, didn’t know that you shouldn’t submit your first story, didn’t know it’s supposed to be rubbish and live in a drawer forever.
It was published in January 2013, by The Chatahoochee Review in Georgia, USA.
Then I couldn’t stop
The writing continues. I sit down alone. Two hours later I read my new story. It spills out, fizzing, on to the screen, while I type, five or six disorganised fingers flailing, struggling to keep up with the words. Fiction, scripts, memoir, family tales.
A precious child-free hour, snatched here and there, equals a thousand words vomited into the open maw of a blank screen. During the other 160 hours per week the stories jostle and fight for position, shrieking to be released next from their incarceration. “Write me!” they plead. “Tell me.”
I edit in the kitchen, lunch-boxing a thousand ham sandwiches or stirring bolognese. Insomnia is my constant companion. I lie unquiet in the small hours; stories flash and streak across my mind until I long to clamp my hands over my brain’s ears, and scream “Enough! Let me be!”
My stories and memoirs whirl across the internet; a prize here, a shortlist there, hundreds of rejections. A short story which has arrived in a blur of busy fingers, unprovoked, uninvited, lurks in my hard drive. Each time I log on, that story- a young woman deceived by an American GI during the war- screams its rage and its indignation. “I am not a story!” it yells; “I am a PROLOGUE, get me out of here!”
And the tears have come too. I cry constantly. I cry, listening to the news. I sob at adverts for cheese, and at Tom and Jerry. I weep when my children laugh. Thank God for Virginia Ironside!
How long can this exquisite torture last? If the beehive of buzzing words sinks back into hibernation, leaving me sane again, I will be ever grateful that I, briefly, wrote. My hope is that I have been permanently blessed; my father’s parting gift.
Deep breath, everyone
Wow! I really wrote that. The extravagance of the words and the melodrama makes me cringe. Reviewing that piece makes me realise how far I’ve come, in a fairly short space of time. Endless, hypercritical revision has cut thousands of adjectives, adverbs and exclamations out of The Accidental Wife.
If I wrote that essay today it would be half as long, and a lot less hysterical. But the American GI has sneaked into The Accidental Wife, and the world can breathe more easily, because the long-form memoir is safely where it belongs, on a hard-drive, never to see the light of day.
An interview with Uncle Morty
As some of you may know, Uncle Morty, is Sacred Chickens’ best loved (and…okay…only) blogging skeleton. He mysteriously came to stay with us after a Halloween party a few years ago and somehow never left. Morty doesn’t like to talk about himself too much. He’s been a little close with his history, although he does occasionally dispense his wisdom in the form of a blog post or a pithy saying. But for the first time, he’s agreed to sit down and talk about himself.
Q: The first thing I really must ask is why you have a tendency to talk about yourself in the third person? Some people find it a little disconcerting. Maybe even off putting.
A: Well, your Uncle Morty hasn’t had a very comfortable relationship with himself since he lost his suit of skin. Without a heart beating inside these old bones and a head full of matter and electricity, Uncle Morty hasn’t exactly felt like a “self.” He experiences consciousness in a much less physically unified way you or your readers. It’s difficult to explain for him to explain exactly what he means across such a wide existential gulf. But if you think it will help insure that your readers are not “put off,” the poor delicate flowers, your Uncle Morty, excuse me, “I” can try to use the first person more often in my writing. Of all people, I understand that concessions must be made to the flesh.
Q: Question number two is something that I’ve never really been comfortable enough to ask you and even now I’m not sure how to phrase it. Ummm…can you help the reader understand your “condition”…I guess what I’m trying to say is…
A: I get what you’re trying so eloquently to say. (For those of you reading who may not know your Uncle Morty so well…please infuse the previous sentence with a healthy dose of sarcasm). Quit pussy footing around. I’m dead. That’s my condition. I’m not really permitted to go into the metaphysics of my state (nor would you have any hope of understanding the technicalities involved.) But I will say this: it’s certainly not a reward. I prefer to think of it as not exactly a punishment either. It was presented to your Uncle Morty as an opportunity – a sort of correction if you will.
And before you ask…I would prefer not to answer questions about my previous embodiments at this time. I will dispense such information on a need to know basis. And I sincerely doubt that anyone will need to know anytime soon. I would hate for the information to be...misapplied.
Q: I wasn’t actually trying to be nosy about your previous life. So let’s change the subject back to your current…errrr….existence. How did you end up here at Sacred Chickens farm? No one at the party can exactly remember asking you. Not that we weren’t happy to see you, of course. It was Halloween, after all.
A: The Universe has a strange way of working itself out, doesn’t it? And by that I do not mean that it has a plan. Merely that it has a strange way of working itself out. You may take that as you like. I do love bonfires and marshmallows by the way. That was delightful. Although the beer and condiment selections left something to be desired.
Could we please move on to the next question?
Q: What do you see in your future? Anything you want to accomplish?
A: Well, I’m coming off a difficult period physically, literally losing my head for a bit, as you well know. I think it’s definitely time for Uncle Morty to begin sharing his wisdom again. I’m also thinking of starting an advice column for the living and perhaps writing my Automortography. Also, I’d love to update my wardrobe and spend more time meditating. My favorite hobby, startling people, will take a bit more social effort (and possibly skill) on your part. In the meantime, perhaps I’ll take up knitting.
Incidentally, if anyone craves Uncle Morty’s advice or simply to share a story with him...errr... me, please send your clearly stated fears, problems or opinions to email@example.com with Mort-uary in the subject line.
Q: Anything else you want to say to the readers?
A: The same advice I always give to fleshlings. Don’t be Dead while you’re Alive. Be Alive. You’ll be resting your bare skull on a guest room pillow and being asked to write blog posts soon enough.