Saturday, August 19, 2017

Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler

Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler



                And so it all ends. And it was so damn good! Okay, let me slow down and start with the beginning of this book. The Clay’s Ark disease is running rampant. The only people who exist now are those with the disease, those who hold the pattern and the mutes being controlled. The Clayarks and Patternist are basically at war. Teray is a son of the Patternmaster, Rayal, who is dying from the Clay’s Ark disease. Coransee is also a son of Rayal and now sees Teray as his biggest threat to obtaining the pattern once Rayal finally succumbs to the disease.
                There you have it. That is the backdrop for the final book in this series. I’m not going to try and go into the details of this book because they are too vast and I won’t be able to put into words everything going on, within the limits I want this post to be. What I will say is that this was a satisfying finale. This story spreads over hundreds of years. Many of the characters within the story are never intertwined but they are vaguely mentioned and if you are familiar with these books, then their presence is obvious. I kept wondering throughout if any of the previous characters would intertwine more explicitly and honestly I like that she didn’t. Each of these novels could easily stand on their own. Interestingly enough that’s how this series began! Patternmaster was the first book released in this series but is the last in the series chronologically. The story then moved to Mind of My Mind (chronologically the second book), then Survivor (chronologically fourth but a book she pulled from being published again because she hated it. Of course I’m curious but it’s almost impossible to get my hands on!) Fourth to be released was Wild Seed (chronologically first) and the last book to be released was Clay’s Ark (chronologically third).
                I’m glad that my first experience reading this series was in the chronological order. I absolutely loved the way these characters developed and how the story was told. The world building blended and expanded beautifully with each book. I gained more understanding of the how the pattern was formed and maintained through each book. The introduction of the Clay’s Ark disease was a completely unexpected twist that piqued my interest instantly and made me crave to know the conclusion of the series. I will eventually read the series in the order it was published because I’m curious to see what that reading experience would be like.

                This is a series I would highly recommend. The topics and themes explored were extraordinary. The concepts of slavery, control, freedom and maintaining humanity were prevalent throughout the series, and the supernatural, magical elements added so much depth to the story that it was easy to fall into the story. I loved each of these book. I’m just upset it took me this long to read them. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler

Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler


                Blake thought he would be safe with his daughters in their armored truck, even as they traveled out of their safe enclave. But when a man ripped open his locked door and threatened to kill his family everything changed. Blake knew these people were different. They were reading his body language, like they were reading his mind. They knew Keira was sick even if the strangers couldn’t deduce what was wrong. The strangers forced them to go to the ranch, kidnapping Rane, Blake’s other daughter and threatening them all if they didn’t follow. Eli, the leader of the ranch, made it clear that they couldn’t leave. That they would be infected like him, and everyone else at the ranch. The extraterrestrial organisms inhabiting Eli’s body would infect him too. Shockingly, the only way to keep any one at the ranch, and the world safe, would be for Blake and his family to stay. By then they were already infected.
                I have absolutely no idea how this novel fits into the Patternist series because none of the other characters of the previous books were even mentioned, but it is obvious that this novel is part of the Patternist universe, so beyond anything else, I am extremely curious. With that being said, this book could stand on its own. Changing in narrative from the past, with Eli’s infection and him coming upon this inhabited ranch, back to the present with Blake’s family kidnapped and brought to the ranch, Butler weaves a tale of the struggle to maintain humanity, while your body is losing its humanity. Every single character is struggling with their circumstances, brought on by a mission off the planet and an infection that took the lives of everyone but Eli. The possibilities of what could happen in this well-crafted, and terrifyingly realistic world are disturbing to say the least. And I could not put this novel down.

                I mean, damn. I’m continually shocked by how amazing Octavia E. Butler was a writer. This story, like every single one of hers that I have read so far, has incredible character development and world building. Each plot has been mind-blowing in its uniqueness and detail. This is another book that I could easily recommend. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler

Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler



                Centuries have passed since Dora and Anyanwu have met and chose to live harmoniously. A truce between the two of them to exist together even though they may disagree. Doro is close to getting what he always wanted. His descendants are growing in number and now there is Mary. He knew from the moment Mary was born that she would be different. An exceptionally strong telepath, something completely different than he had seen before. She would be the prize he was looking for, if she survived transition. What Doro wasn’t expecting was for her to form a pattern with some of his other telepaths after she transitioned. That those telepaths would be connected to her and that she would be able to control them in a way that even he could not. And that he would begin to see her as a threat.
                The Patternist series is just incredible. There is no other way around it. What Octavia E. Butler created with this series is a group of non-humans who are able to enslave and take over those around them without their knowledge. That plot in and of itself is achieved seamlessly in Butler’s very capable hands. This second book in the series is as strong as the first and pulls in a deeper realm than I ever imagined. The characters are beautifully imagined. The world building is extremely strong. And because there is no extent to their power, the possibilities really are endless to where this story can go.

                I will say that I am reading this book in the order the series flows but not in the order the story was published. I had no idea the story was published in a different order but I am glad I am reading this story through chronologically. I’m loving the way these stories are flowing in to one another. This series is just steadily taking my breath away. Well done. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Eager to begin the next book. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler



                This is a story of power, unbelievable power and unexplainable beings. Doro has roamed the Earth for over three millennia, taking bodies as necessary and finding others with some form of power to breed and build colonies of people, his people, obedient, subservient, useful and different. Many would call them witches. Anyanwu was special. She had power the likes of which Doro had never seen before, able to not only control her shape and appearance but to heal. Alive for more than three hundred years Anyanwu had many husbands and bore many children but none with a power to rival her own. Two extremely powerful beings with motives that would never mix and one content to keep the other a slave.
                I don’t want to spoil anything but what follows is an intense power struggle, one based on morals and the concept of what it means to truly live and to truly love. Anyanwu is willing to sacrifice her freedom for the people she loves and for her descendants. She believes in family and in forming relationships. Doro on the other hand has to kill to survive and only values the lives of those who can best serve him in one way or another. They both fear one another and yet Anyanwu is in a form of slavery. It is an intense and unpredictable story that looks at how we sacrifice ourselves for the ones we love and how others use power to manipulate others for their own gain.

                Octavia E. Butler ladies and gentlemen in all of her splendid glory. I am obsessed. And a little upset at myself for being so late to the “Octavia E. Butler is an amazing author” party. What the hell have I been doing?! What I love about her is that I never know what to expect from her stories but I can always depend on amazing character development, beautiful world building and a wholly original plot that is emotional, not contrived, well thought out and an extremely visceral experience. This novel about Anyanwu and Doro fit all of that and more. Easily 5 out of 5 stars. This is the first book in the Pattermaster Series and I’ve already downloaded the second book to begin reading soon. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck



                Audra was just trying to get away from her ex-husband and his controlling mother. It took her years to finally get over her addiction, develop a relationship with her kids, and finally leave. But he still controlled their lives. He was constantly trying to take the children away from her and she needed a break. Four days they had been on the road, making their way cross country when everything changed. The sheriff pulled her over, her kids were taken from her and now the sheriff claims they were never with her. She knows the truth and yet no one believes her. Except for Danny, the man who this has happened to be before, and who has been hunting for the people responsible.
                Here and Gone has a really interesting premise and started off strong. The sequence with the children being taken happened in the beginning stages of the novel and readers weren’t aware of how far into addiction Audra was and for what reasons until those facts were used to paint a picture about her. This helped with character development and with developing the plot but some of the aspects of the story felt really forced. None of the other characters were strongly developed. Those behind the kidnapping were given very little motivation outside of monetary reasons and those who demeaned Audra never gave her a chance. I also didn’t care for the world development because not much detail went into creating the setting for the story. In all, I thought this book was ok. It has a satisfying end even if some of the plot dragged a little in the middle of the novel.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget Cook

The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget Cook     


                Rebecca Wall has been a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) her entire life. Her mother was a second wife and had 14 children. Her father had three wives and 24 children in all. Rebecca never doubted the sanctity of plural marriage. She questioned those outside of the FLDS and the evil lurking in wait to harm her and her family. The Prophet, Rulon Jeffs, was a tool of God and she would eventually be his bride. But as she got older and became a wife she was privy to more and more disturbing details. Were marriages really ordained by God or negotiations of the men in power? Was abuse something women and children should take without question? Eventually the questions and fear of Warren Jeffs, the son of Rulon, who took power after his death were enough to convince Rebecca it was time to escape.
                I heard about Rebecca Musser after watching the documentary “Prophet’s Prey.” It focuses on Warren Jeffs and the corruption running rampant within his FLDS sect. It was interesting and terrifying to say the least. I wanted to read Musser’s story because I knew it would have intimate details of a life I could never imagine taking part in. This memoir is story of a woman who since birth was wrapped up in this ideology. Her youth was filled with abuses at the hand of her father’s first wife. She was constantly told that anyone not of the FLDS would only harm her and were with Satan. Yet as she gets older she discovers all of this corruption. As she becomes aware of everything around her, she realizes just how lost the people around her and the people she loves really are and decided to leave fearing for her own safety. This is a story of courage. It is personal and endearing and describes a religion that is controlled by men through brainwashing and fear.

                I’m recommending this memoir because people need to be aware of just how manipulative other human beings can be and how many will use a religion for their own personal gains. This was not the best written memoir but it does its job. It gets Musser’s story out there. Very interesting look at polygamy and the FLDS from someone who experienced it firsthand. I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars.