Thursday, August 3, 2017

Creative Critic: Peternelle van Arsdale and Celeste Ng

As it turns out, there's a limit to how much political insanity I can deal with during a day. By evening, I've usually had my fill of it all -- so I'm spending less time online. Bright spot! That gives me more time to read.

The last two books I've read are shelter in the storm; beautifully written tales that make me eager to read the next works from both authors.

In The Beast is an Animal, Peternelle van Arsdale transports you to a world unlike any you've ever encountered, and makes it feel like home. You know this place, even though it's populated with magical creatures, evil and wonderful. Yes, it's a young adult novel about soul eaters. Don't let that stop you from buying it -- much of today's best writing is classified as young adult, and the best fantasy reflects reality.

Truly. I mean, if you've never dealt with a soul eater, then you've never been employed.

Peternelle also publishes a great newsletter; you can sign up for it here. As she says, "C'mon. Give it a try. Life is too short to live with regrets."

I have one regret about the next book I'm recommending -- I regret that I waited so long to read it.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng made all the top lists when it was published -- I bought it for my daughter Mary some time ago, and recently "borrowed" it from her. She's not getting it back. This one goes on my favorites bookshelf.

It's the story of a Chinese American family dealing with the death of a child and it should come with a warning: Don't read the last few chapters while on a plane. Not that I cried -- a lot -- while sitting next to a complete stranger or anything. (We're not talking sniffles. We're talking tears rolling down my face.)

The next book from Celeste -- Little Fires Everywhere -- is due out next month, Sept. 12. I will be reading it ASAP. Maybe I'll let Mary borrow it. Hmmm. No. Probably not.

Celeste also has a cool story online from the 2015 Twitter Fiction Festival. (She was an invited author the year I was in the festival as a contest winner. And I was pretty dang excited to be in her company, even loosely and virtually.)

Interestingly, both The Beast is an Animal and Everything I Never Told You explore some of the same topics -- family, loss, the challenge of being an outsider, the power of love to both hurt and heal.

Gorgeously conceived, written and edited books have always been an oasis for me. Given the days we live in, these two books are absolute gifts, instant transport to another time and place. Take a break. Read the books.

No comments: