Unusual Settings - Melting Pot
As I write this column, I am sitting in an unusual setting of my own…I’m visiting Port Townsend, WA. Why am I here? I’m working on edits for my YA Civil War Era Steampunk novel and I am taking the time to exert a focused effort on this endeavor. I chose this excursion because, I want a calm and quiet place free from the distractions of laundry, dirty dishes, and that pile of books on my nightstand demanding to be read. It is good to change up your surroundings and gain a new perspective. Like Sheryl Crow sings, “A Change Would Do You Good.”
My selections, this month, take place in settings we don’t often get to see. The first book happens in a variety of small towns mixed in with a few big cities. The second book takes place in Sangui City, Kenya and provides a look into both privilege and poverty.
Ok, I know, American Gods, isn’t a ‘new’ release and typically I try to bring newer books and authors to this column…BUT, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and HAD to share it.
There’s a battle brewing between the old and new gods who need worshipers and tributes to retain their power. Shadow Moon plays the ‘poor average guy’ caught between the two warring factions. But there is more to Shadow Moon than meets the eye.
As a student of mythology, fairy tales, and folklore, I really enjoyed seeing characters like Loki, Easter, Shiva, Oden, and leprechauns absolutely running amok in modern day America. I also thoroughly enjoyed how gods from a broad swath of cultures and religions were present and active throughout the story.
American Gods will soon be a series on Starz. I recommend this book with only one caveat – be prepared to read a few side story vignettes that feature specific gods and provide background information that doesn’t necessarily drive the story forward. Also be prepared for extensive dream sequences that do drive the story forward.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic—an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.
A storm is coming . . .
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.
But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.
Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.
WOW! I am still reading this story and normally I try not to include a book that I haven’t finished, BUT City of Saints and Thieves is an absolute MUST READ. Tina, aka ‘Tiny Girl’ is truly on an adventure filled with twists and turns that keeps you turning the pages. Tina’s drive to take care of her sister and find her mother’s killer are the fuel that keeps her going, but things aren’t always what they initially appear to be. Nom, nom, nom – that’s the sound of me devouring this book.
City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling murder mystery set in Kenya.
In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn't exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill's personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.
With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.
My To Be Read Pile:
I’m excited to read this new work by Sonali Dev…plus, I’ll get to meet her at RWA Nationals this year! *squee*
A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev
Dr. Nikhil 'Nic' Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.
Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.
Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy. She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.
Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.
Columnist: C. Morgan Kennedy
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. Though I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.
My stories feature strong women, who know how to wield their minds like weapons. Their men are smart and often controlling….but, rest assured, my female leads give them a run for their money. They strive to follow their hearts and dreams for the betterment of themselves and their loved ones. Like my life, all of my stories feature a diverse cast of characters.
With my business partner, Therese Patrick, I work to demystify marketing principles for my author friends. Our first book, Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal, was published by Gazebo Gardens Publishing and released in October 2013.
Steampunk, futurist, blerd, artist, author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.
Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website: http://www.cmorgankennedy.com.