Book Review: Coyote Blue

Coyote Blue

From Christopher Moore, author of Fluke, comes a quirky, irreverent novel of love, myth, metaphysics, outlaw biking, angst, and outrageous redemption.

As a boy growing up in Montana, he was Samson Hunts Alone — until a deadly misunderstanding with the law forced him to flee the Crow reservation at age fifteen. Today he is Samuel Hunter, a successful Santa Barbara insurance salesman with a Mercedes, a condo, and a hollow, invented life. Then one day, shortly after his thirty-fifth birthday, destiny offers him the dangerous gift of love — in the exquisite form of Calliope Kincaid — and a curse in the unheralded appearance of an ancient Indian god by the name of Coyote. Coyote, the trickster, has arrived to transform tranquillity into chaos, to reawaken the mystical storyteller within Sam … and to seriously screw up his existence in the process.

Review:

I love Christopher Moore’s sense of humour and Coyote Blue doesn’t disappoint. The other thing I love about Moore is that he does his research, which he certainly does in this novel. The story is about a man from the Crow nation and the details of the culture and stories feel authentic and respectful.

Coyote Blue follows the life of Sam, going back and forth from his time as an adolescent on the Crow reserve to his life in Santa Barbara as a successful insurance salesman, until the trickster god, Coyote, decides to wreck havoc through his life.

Moore takes us on a journey to imagine how the ancient gods exist in the modern world. Sam is a character we can sympathize with, just trying to live his life the best way he knows how under strange and, at times, terrible circumstances. Coyote is fabulous, an absolutely outrageous character with no moral qualms about anything.

And, like any good story, it is strewn with “truths.” Probably my favourite line in the book is when Sam is contemplating all of the upheaval in his life: “His life was back to normal, and normal wasn’t good enough anymore. He wanted real.”

Coyote Blue made me laugh, made me think, and kept me up late reading so I could see how it all ended.

 

 

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Art in the Park

On Canada Day, my writing group (Books in the Belfry) had a booth at our local Art in the Park, art show/sale and music, celebration here in Kamloops, BC. Here we mostly are:

It was a fantastic, beautiful day, full of people coming by to talk about books and writing and I appreciate everyone who stopped by.

I am so fortunate to have this amazing, supportive group in my life. A common thread among the writers who visited our booth is that they often feel disconnected and would love to connect with other writers. It’s a funny thing, how so many writers are introverted and we work on our own so much, but that we need times to connect and get support as well. After our Art in the Park experience, my group, Books in the Belfry, is looking at trying to find ways to connect with other writers, perhaps even world wide, while still maintaining the integrity of our group. One of the things we really value is our feeling of safety to share our work or speak our mind — because we know how rare it is to find.

Thanks again to everyone who made Art in the Park a fantastic day, and feel free to sign up for our newsletter here to keep up with our plans. And here’s a link to a post about our group, but basically, we are all batshit crazy about writing and keep each other going through (mostly) weekly meetings at a local coffee shop. And how did we start? Through creativity courses and by going up to people who have Nanowrimo stickers on their laptops in coffee shops.

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Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant #1)

by Derek Landy, Tom Percival (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator)

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he’ll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That’s right, they’re the heroes.

Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle’s most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.

So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.

Review:
This is a really fun book, full of interesting characters, adventure, and action. I was engaged right from the first page.
Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton detective with a dry wit and a quick mind and full of snappy quips. You know right away when he appears at the fringes of his friend’s funeral that he is going to be interesting and full of character. He teams up with twelve year old Stephanie to find the Sceptre of the Ancients after her uncle’s death. There is mystery and intrigue right away, pulling both Stephanie and the reader into a magical world hidden in just below the surface of the everyday world.
I liked Stephanie — she is feisty and fearless, willing to fight for what is right. She is sensitive and thoughtful, but also determined, is able to stand up for herself, and is up for adventure.
Landy has created a fantastic magical world in this book, filled with interesting characters and menacing villains. Many of the characters are stereotypes, however, with the evil ones having no redeeming qualities and the good ones very sympathetic.
This is a great start to the series and I can see kids racing through these books.

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Recently I have been having a hard time getting into reading due to some health issues. Finally, I decided to re-read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I first found this book in high school and instantly fell in love with it. I’ve read it a couple of times since and still find it funny, compelling, and a great read.

Synopsis:

Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together, this dynamic pair began a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!

Review:

It’s hard for me even to consider writing a review of this book — it was one of those pivotal books I discovered in high school that opened up whole new worlds of writing to me. I hadn’t read much fantasy or sci-fi before I discovered Hitchhiker. I remember racing through it, soaking up the humour, the adventure, the sheer quirkiness of the book. No one else I knew had read it, so I couldn’t talk to anyone else about it and I would have loved that. Instead, I devoured everything else written by Adams, then started on some other fantasy books.

Re-reading Hitchhiker recently was a lot of fun, reminding me of why I loved the book so much. It’s become iconic — so many people know the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything now, they know the importance of carrying a towel, or the tragedy of a bowl of petunia’s falling from the sky.

All as I can say is that I love this book and will continue to love it, re-reading it every so often when I need a light-hearted laugh. I love the simple, outrageous, hilarious brilliance of Adams’ work and how it’s still current, all of these years later. In fact, what’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide but an e-reader with Wikipedia?

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