A Wrinkle in Time

by Madeleine L’Engle

It’s incredible how A Wrinkle in Time, a sci-fi/fantasy published in 1962, is still fresh and relevant.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleThe first time “IT” was mentioned in the book, I read it as “I”, “T”, like the department you call when your network or computer died at work.

Near the end of the story, we found it IT is a powerful brain, a tyrant, that imposes logical yet unreasonable rule in the name of equality. And the reason IT is so is because no one loves IT. What I got from the book is that having a brain without a heart will lead to darkness.

As Information Technology develops, people seems to be more distant. You often see a group of people sitting together but they are all on the computer or their cell. Granted you can connect with people far away but if you are not more aware, you might become disconnected to yourself.

The other thing I liked was how Mag Murry (the heroine) realizes that she expects other people to do what she thinks is needed because she avoids fixing it herself. And when it didn’t work out, she blames people and complains that nothing is being done.

Luckily, I have learned a few years ago that if you want things/people to change, you have to change yourself first. And the funny thing is, once you change yourself, it didn’t matter if those things/people changed or not.

Madeleine L’Engle wrote with a brain and a heart. As I go on and write my own stories, I am inspired to carry the same sensibility between my words.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

A Flavia de Luce Mystery
by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is a 11-year-old year who knows her poisons. Her love of chemistry and her unstoppable curiosity brought me back to my childhood.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce MysteryShe is a typical girl who hates her older sisters but she is unique because she applies what she knows to all the problems she encounters. In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, her quest for answers helped her understand her father as a human and solve two murder cases at once.

Although I admire her spunkiness and intelligence, I find it a little difficult to like her since there is darkness in her personality. She reminds me of Dr. Temperance Brennan from the TV series, Bones. And to see the same traits in a young girl reminds me to consider each child as a individual.

I enjoyed going on the detective adventure with Flavia and hope she will grow into a well-rounded lady who chooses to use her power for good.

The City & The City

by China Mieville

The City & The City by China MievilleI found this book hard to read, mostly because I don’t know if the words I don’t understand are made up or not. (Brought back painful memories of reading The Lord of The Rings before my English was good enough for it.)

The concept of two cities occupying the same location where people from one city has to UNSEE the people from the other was interesting but if I didn’t remember Nancy Pearl’s intro to the book, I’d think I need to retake all of my English classes.

Other things that bothered me about this concept is that drivers have to avoid cars from the other city and unsee them at the same time. Perhaps I missed the explanation/description somewhere…

The story itself was slow at first but once it brought in the BREACH (power that is higher than both cities) it flowed better. However, since I have to guess about how the cities work and how the murder happened at the same time, it took me a long time to finish the book.

The overall idea is original and intriguing just wish I was able to catch up with the language. For fantasy/sci-fi readers, this is a good one to try.

Hex in High Heels

By Linda Wisdom

If you think all witches are ugly and green, you’d be wrong. Blair is sexy, powerful, and playful.

But what I love about Hex in High Heels is how Blair and her 12 witche friends are loyal to each other. Their friendships have lasted since the day they refused to tell on the other in 1313. Wow, that’s what I call BFF!

Hex in High Heels by Linda WisdomThe romance between Blair and Jake (a werewolf/dog) is strong not only because of their mutual physical attractions. Both are people with character, both trust and protect each other.

And the “magikal” creatures who live with Blair and her roommate are each interesting in its own ways. With everyone under one roof, it’s just a big family consist of eccentric members.

With the small town setting as the background, I’m very likely to become one of the tourists they welcome to their winter festival!

Linda has a way to make the imagined place and people real. Reading this book has inspired me as I write my first fantasy/romance short.

The Prince and the Nanny

Before I opened this book, I thought all romance novel were created shallow. How ignorant of me.

The Prince and the Nanny by Cara ColterIn “The Prince and the Nanny (by Cara Colter,) Prue, the nanny, was working her way out of an unhealthy habit of filling the hole in her heart with things and men’s attentions while coping with the sudden need to earn a living after her father’s death.

She decided not to date for a year and used her Fatal Flaws List to stay on track. She was so serious about improving herself, she turned Prince Ryan’s job offer twice, just to be sure she wouldn’t have a chance to fall in love before the one year ends.

Prince Ryan though used to get what he wanted but was not an arrogant royal brat. He wanted someone who can bring happiness back to his motherless children. After Prue came to work in the castle, he discovered he also would be at his happiest when he is only a loving father to his children and a common man to Prue.

As the story grows, Prue matured and found her own truth. Prince Ryan granted himself the freedom to be himself and a prince at the same time. Both found love at exactly the right time, after they had found themselves.

Wow, I will never look at a romance novel the same way again. (Thanks to Deb, soon to be a full fledge romance writer, for the recommendation!)

The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt

In the last few weeks, I realized I needed to read more fictions to help me become more expressive. Many times, I was stopped by my limited abilities to write in the ways that would justify the feelings I was trying to portray.

The Shivering SandSince my instructor encourages me to write more romance, I decided on reading books by Victoria Holt. I remember reading them in my native language when I was in junior high.

The Shivering Sands is not only a romance, it is also a mystery. I was pleasantly surprised that I could read her books (first published in 1969) without difficulty.

This story keeps you turning the page. When she wrote about the sceneries, it was always just long enough to keep you from skipping to the next paragraph. And the romance is always tangled up with the mystery so it’s not just a frivolous part of the whole story.

Although in a few places I found similar conversations being repeated too many times. Perhaps I noticed it because we are living in a fast pace world and I didn’t want to read what I was already told.

It is amazing that Victoria Holt, Eleanor Hibbert in real life, wrote the story so long ago, I still couldn’t help becoming someone who might have lived in that time and place.

The Enchantment Emporium

The Enchantment EmporiumI discover this book and Tanya Huff via the recommendation in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine.

Maybe it was because English is my second language and that I am also new to the fantasy genre, the first chapter of The Enchantment Emporium was hard to read, too many people, too many things happening. However, I got the feel of the craziness of a large family getting together, especially when I also came from a similar family.

Then the story moves on without missing a beat. Her style seems choppy and unlike other books I have read. It took me a while to read at my normal speed. But once I got used to it, I had to force myself not to pick up the book until I was done working.

What I like the most of this book is that although there are dragons, wizard, leprechaun, and supernatural forces, everything else is something we have encountered in our own lives.

Finding MagicAfter I finished The Enchantment Emporium, I became curious about her other writings. Among her short stories in Finding Magic, my favorite story is “I knew a guy once.” Her talents and skills allow her to tell stories in many different tones and methods, great examples for a new writer like me.

The orange in the sock

Who put the orange in my sock? I don’t like orange of any kind. Oval, round, tangy, sweet, I hate them all.

The old man grumbled as he went around the house to check for sign of the break-in but everything looked to be in perfect order. He then open his backdoor and threw the orange in the yard, thinking some animals might like it more than he does.

The next morning, another fresh orange appeared in his sock. This time it was even bigger and brighter. He threw it out again.

On the third day, when he opened his door with the orange at the ready, a squirrel was waiting. The squirrel was so skinny, you’d think it’s a paper mache on a small frame.

Now the old man likes oranges and he shares it with his new ferry friend.