booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
So sorry about the absent reviews recently m(_ _)m My problem in doing it, is, I have a very bad memory. And so, reading any book I want to review, I have to take notes constantly. Somehow, this is taking away from the enjoyment of the book... so... I have not been doing the reviews so much recently.

But, I decided that to do it in a different structure is better than nothing, right? So, this review is a little different from normal, not so much structure, but, just writing about it. I hope you like it anyway m(_ _)m

I'm going to talk about three books here: Murkmere and Ambergate by Patricia Elliott, and, The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson.


All three of these books focus on swan maidens (though, Ambergate is the companion book to Murkmere, and, follows the character Scuff from that first book, but, the swan maiden plot also returns in it). And, they are all very beautiful in writing, with some dark haunting feeling and some fascinating ideas. Particularly, the bird-focused religion in Murkmere and Ambergate is very interesting, unique, and, gives an atmosphere to the books, as well as being the frame for much of the plot.

All the books also have a strong and interesting female as the main character, and, particularly, I like the character of Leah in Murkmere, a high-born but wild-hearted girl with a personality and nature that is an exact echo of the swan. Any swan-kin out there, will see something from themselves definitely in her I think, in her fierce and dangerous beauty that cannot be tamed. Doucette in The Swan Maiden is also similar... a kind girl, and yet, she has that alien, swan nature, that pulls her away from human life and human love, afraid to be trapped.

The other thing that all of these books have in common is a very strong and positive idea of what a swan maiden is like. Like I said before, the swan maiden characters in the books have a feeling about them that rings true... being a swan maiden myself, I know this. Unlike some characters in certain books I reviewed, who don't react in any strong way about losing their wings, the swan maidens in both books are fiercely possessive of their swanskins, and, over many threats to take it from them, you can see and feel the pain in their hearts. (This might be quite triggering, in all three of the books I mention.) The swanskins, the wings, the flying, are treated like their souls... if you have ever read His Dark Materials series, and you know how the armoured bears treat their armour, then, you have some idea of how it is in these books. As it should be, as it should be.

I'm also happy to say, that none of the books end with messages about giving up your swan nature to be with someone you love. Some spoilers for the endings, trying to keep it mild ) That is part of what makes me review all these books together... they all have such heart and understanding, about being a swan girl who is not really human, about needing (not just wanting, but, needing) magic, about the fear of being trapped without the skin, how they will not give it up for anything.

There is an absolute wild heart in all of these books, and, they are definitely worth reading. I will say, that The Swan Maiden does have some slightly negative thoughts on magic, but, also some very positive ones, and, the transformation parts are beautiful, and will give you shivers for sure. I don't think there's anything to regret about Murkmere, and Ambergate is fun to read with only a handful of small parts that feel a little slow. I can definitely say, that these books all deserve five out of five... that score does not mean "perfect", because, no book is perfect, but, it means "this has so much deep content about being a bird person, you shouldn't miss it if you are one". Especially for any other swans out there, but, also bird people in general.
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: This is a companion book to an art exhibit by Peter Greenaway, which was held at the Louvre in 1992. It's fitting for a book on an art exhibit that the writing is lovely, thoughtful and philosophical. Your opinion of the art will very depending on your taste of course, but, the comments on it truly spark some really fascinating thoughts for anyone winged. Much of the pictures don't seem like they really have anything to do with the subject, but, Greenaway is creative and the ideas he draws out of the paintings definitely make you think twice. Absolutely must have in any winged person's collection... if you can afford it.

Writing: The writing is wonderful, asking many interesting philosophical questions, while following a journey through art from the ground, to the sky, and then falling to the ground again. The writer treats the book as catalogue of philosophical flying instructions, containing secrets how we might fly, and presents this in a very serious way. There's also a lot of beautiful art to enjoy obviously.

From a winged person's perspective...: Of course, this book is all about the winged. The writer understands the longing for flying, how no machine will do, our offspring will not do... we must fly. He understands that false flying portrayals make us feel let down. Really, the book is all about that longing for flight, treated as a very serious thing. The "story" of the book, as much as it has a story, has a negative message about flight in the end, but it's such a beautiful journey and the negative message seems to be more about showing all the possibilities and angles that artists have treated flight, not making a judgment.

Trigger warnings: Graphic description of dead bird. Detached wings in a picture. Association of flight with negative pride, detailed descriptions of failing of flight.

More thoughts... )
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: For Jonathan Livingston Seagull, flying is the most important thing in life. Unlike to his kin, who think flying is only a tool. Armed with this philosophy, Jonathan makes some surprising discoveries about life... and beyond. This is an amazing philosophical story that is a slot similar to classic fables and allegories. On the lteral level, as well as philosophical metaphor, many winged people I think will enjoy it... it's about living in the way that is important to you even if it's not the custom, the spiritual things that follow from that, and much more.

Writing: I didn't really notice the writing in this book... I guess the sign of a good book, is when you focus on the story so much, you don't notice how the writing is like at all! As for the plot though, it's great, and builds more and more on itself... it starts out being about one thing but, always has more to teach. The book also has seagull photos at some points in the story, which helps you feel the characters are real and makes you feel like you are being drawn into the story a lot.

From a winged person's perspective...: Well, the book is about flying of course ^^ Although in a way you can see it as a metaphor, the story is also very much about "the things YOU feel joy doing... are important and will change you". So, if you want it to be about flying, the book isn't going to tell you, that itself is not about flying. For a book all about learning to fly, there is not much description of the feeling of flying... it's more about the Jonathan character achieving his goals. But, he does focus much on "flying for the sake of flying is the important thing".

Also, all the characters are seagulls ^^ So, there are no issues to worry about like, "is this book going to call me a freak for wanting to read about wings?"

Trigger warnings: Being outcast. Also, this is just my personal view but some things at the beginning of the book were a little ED triggering for me (it depends on what ED is to you), though, by the end of the book it actually turns around in a nice way and might actually be a support in that way. If you're not suffering from ED you probably won't notice this, but, it is just a small thing I noticed.

More thoughts... )
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: An anthology of stories that are presented as cultural perspectives of other worlds... in a very clever and funny way that doesn't stop the stories feeling serious at all. All the stories are fascinating and powerful, and the story that I think most winged people will like (The Fliers of Gy) has a mix of negative and positive treatment of bird people, but it uses that to tell a good message. Really recommended!

Writing: The writing is really fantastic. It has a bit of humour without being over the top at all and the stories feel very serious and real. You really feel you are reading reports from other worlds and they're very alien.

From a winged person's perspective...: There are two stories in this book that I think winged people will like especially: Seasons of the Ansarac, which is about a migrating bird-people that don't have wings but are based on real bird behaviour, and The Fliers of Gy, which is about winged and feathered fliers with a full culture based on having feathers. Both stories, like all the other stories in the book are very evoking, and the culture of the bird people in both these stories feels very real. The message of The Fliers of Gy will be very powerful to bird people I think... even though there's a lot of pain to go through to get to the good part, the message is rewarding.

Trigger warnings: Talk of language used to insult the people of Gy. Negative feelings towards the winged people and cruel torture treatment of them with mocking. Mention of cutting off, binding or injuring the wings, but it's written very clearly that to do anything to their wings will kill them literally. Treatment of wings as deformed or a handicap.

More thoughts...: For this review, I want to do something a little different: I want to philosophically discuss this story, because I think it's very interesting. If you just want to know whether you should read this, I definitely think you should if you can handle the cruelty: I would give it five out of five, for the bird people stories and the others as well. But I also want to talk about the message of The Fliers of Gy. This will spoil the story, so, please don't read this unless you finished the story or you don't mind.

A discussion of The Fliers of Gy )

Skellig

Mar. 27th, 2011 11:29 am
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: This is an amazing book... it feels claustrophobic, and vast at the same time, gloomy and hopeful, full of pain and full of light. It's a story about a mystery man, a lot of birds, and the flickering dreams of two children... and that really gives you all you need to know about it. There's much philosophy, and many interesting, inspiring questions asked, and the book holds birds and bird-people in high esteem, touching on the dreams that we have all had about them. It's wonderful.

Writing: The writing here is great. The story is written like shadows, only revealing itself halfway, and the story builds up and builds up like a rolling thunderstorm until it almost hurts to read.

From a winged person's perspective...: The winged person in this book is never shown quite directly, but only in hints. But those hints are worth ten of what's in many other books. Through all of the book, his presence provides a feeling of magic and mystery that touches everything in the story. You don't see him fly, but you will feel the power of flight through all the references to birds and flying that feed on each other and make the story feel like it's very tightly knitted. He's shown as beautiful not monster, even though he is crippled. There is lots of talk of myths, birds as evolution, and a somber kind of magic... I only want to hint at it, because it's lovely to see it, itself, but it truly is great for winged people, and a little bit of a different story from the usual ones about people who want to fly. Though, one of the main characters in it is someone who has a strong love of birds and desire to fly, and wants to protect them, which is nice too. It's shown in one place as a temporary love and not something she deeply felt from the beginning, but other than that one line, it's a very beautiful picture of someone who feels connected to birds.

Trigger warnings: Some mentions of dead birds. Threats of cruelty to birds. The winged character is shown as suffering and in pain clearly. Lots of reflections on death.

More thoughts... )

Birdwing

Mar. 23rd, 2011 10:14 pm
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: A story that continues the traditional fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm, The Six Swans, following the life of the youngest brother in the story who is left with a swan's wing, after being released from a curse that turned him to a swan. Because it's based on that story and can't change from it, in the beginning, the swan curse is seen as a horrible thing. But then, the story tells that the youngest brother's swan wing was "on the left side - the side closest to the heart". And this is where the tale really begins, as next we are plunging into a world of joyful flight, and pain, and spiritual wonder. This book is very descriptive which is both a blessing and a curse... it's lovely that it goes into such details about what it is like to be part-bird, and what it is like to be a swan, but because it feels so real this book can be painful to read. But, if you can handle that, I very much recommend it.

Writing: The writing is absolutely beautiful... I said about Gwinna that the descriptions of flying are the most detailed you would see, but about being a bird-person, the writing in this is even more descriptive and has equal poetry. It's a very serious story mostly but even then there are little funny moments, clever-funny though and not cheesy funny as a lot of these books... I actually laughed out loud in parts. At the ending, it starts to get a little slow and drawn out but the very end is worth it.

From a winged person's perspective...: Where do I start?? Usually, what is a good guide of how good the book is on this matter, is how long my notes are. For this book they were two pages long. I think that's the longest I ever had. I would describe all the little details, and I really want to, but that would just spoil it... but, for a character with only one wing, he's more well described than ten two-winged people in other books. The book always notices the wing in an extremely realistic way. His connection to swans is painful and beautiful. So much thought has been put into the whole thing. There are moments where he hates and curses the swan side of himself but you always see the beauty too in ways that make up for that. If you can put up with it not being 100% positive about him, but more like 70%, then you will love this book.

Trigger warnings: Threats of cutting off wings and actual cutting off wings, cruel murder of animals, abuse of birds, use of words like "freak" and "thing" by the main character towards himself and by others towards him. Lots of detailed description of the longing for flying and the longing to belong.

More thoughts... )

Gwinna

Mar. 19th, 2011 09:08 pm
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: A fairy tale that is just pure magic... in every meaning of that word. This is surely the antidote to all the books out there that promise you fantasy and wonder but take it away just as quickly... it's an amazing story, for young and old people, and especially those with wings. It's a beautiful story for anyone who loves magic and spiritual things too, because its spiritual heart is very deep. The pictures are just as beautiful as the story too. This is a "must read" book!

Writing: Pretty and full of poetry, with a soft magical feeling matched with the soft misty paintings... the descriptions are so beautiful and the story is uplifting. The images will just flow into your heart.

From a winged person's perspective...: This is a great story for winged people. Even though this is a fantasy, dreamlike story, the descriptions of flying are realistic and the most detailed you will see. There are many realistic descriptions of birds too and Gwinna's wings are never treated as an afterthought. Gwinna has an ache in her body and heart for the sky and she loves who she is, only happy to embrace it, coming to learn that her parents are not her true family and that they keep her bound out of fear for her, but also not forgetting them for her new life, and continuing to be loving towards them... so it doesn't have a message of "thoughtlessly abandon your family for your true self" either, making this story the best of both worlds. There is no "horror of being not human" in this story at all, except from those who are ignorant... Gwinna sees herself as a bird. I can't think of anything negative about how this story treats winged people, except for the parts in the trigger warnings which might upset some people.

Trigger warnings: Binding wings and making them painful and crippled, described in detail. Some characters treating wings as a curse.

More thoughts... )
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: This book can't be described in a short review so well without spoiling it... or even a long review without spoiling it. All I will say is it's a strange, beautiful, ethereal feeling story that is absolutely recommended for everyone with the heart of a flyer... and also just as a great story... you won't understand why for a while, but it is worth waiting for as it slowly unfolds, and in the meantime, the rest of the story unfolding is a joy. Even the cover and the size of the book are part of the beauty.

Writing: Amazing... full of poetry, a beautiful sort of melancholy wistful feeling, mystery, and hope. The writing never lets this book down.

From a winged person's perspective...: At first, this book may not seem that it has much for winged people. The main character is a girl who is so light that the wind carries her, but soon she is bound to the ground. But you will understand in time why this book is called "Bird". All through the book, too, you will get an indirect feeling of her love for the air... in the way that she always describes the weather and the quality of the air and the feeling of being up high... more subtle than most books, but it is all through the story in a way that makes it really a story about a flyer, in a way that is rare, and realistic. To say more would spoil it....

Trigger warnings: A child is imprisoned and treated poorly.

Extra note: This book is by Rita Murphy who also wrote Night Flying (which I review at that link). Clearly, she has an attachment to this idea... flyers may want to watch out for her work in the future.

More thoughts... )
booksofafeather: A book and candlestick, with a feather lying across the pages. (Default)
Short review: From the day Ben was born, he knew that he was meant to have wings. Or, to look at it another way, from the day Ben could talk about his feelings, his family knew he had a strange delusion. A battle of wills between Ben's beliefs and his family's fear grows and grows... but who is right? This is a really amazing book, with lots of philosophy, and a good message, about how strange people can hold a quiet and beautiful wisdom. Even for non-winged people, it's a book about seeing things beyond the obvious... for winged people it's really amazing.

Writing: The writing is good, with some wonderful details and some moments of poetry. It has more to think about in the story than just wings too.

From a winged person's perspective...: For any person who ever dreamed of flight, or is winged otherkin... this is amazing. Everything is exactly as a person with wings would feel about it. Some people might find it too detailed because of the description of wings that feel trapped and are trying to push out of the skin... if otherkin know that feeling... then it may bring it back very strongly. But it's otherwise good. There is a sense that even though Ben is the only person he knows like himself, he created a small "culture", having additional meanings for words like "grounding", and hating to be trapped indoors. He sees flying as expressing his identity.

Trigger warnings: Lots of graphic descriptions of wings trapped under skin and trying to escape. Ben imagines sometimes scenes where wings are torn up or damaged. People making a big point of not wanting to use Ben's chosen name, but the one he was born with. Some people who pretend to believe in him who are overheard making fun of him later.

More thoughts... )

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