Dies the Fire, by S. M. Stirling: A Review

Book #6 on my 2017 Reading Challenge list is: a book set in your hometown/region. For this, I chose to read Dies the Fire, by S. M. Stirling. Set in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, it is practically in my back yard.

The story opens an hour before a catastrophic world-altering event that renders electricity, vehicles and even guns useless. The book follows a handful of main characters as they struggle with the aftermath of such an event, two groups in particular.

One, led by Juniper McKenzie – a musician and Wiccan – head into the hills outside Corvallis. Here they begin to dig in and plan for a drastically altered future. A future where survival has become the only priority.

The other group is led by Mike Havel, a former marine who has been making his living flying wealthy tourists into the backwoods of Idaho. He is flying with his most recent charge when the Change occurs, and he is forced to bring the now dead plane down as safely as can be managed. Out in the middle of nowhere he and the family – the Larssons – with him are unaware that this was not an isolated incident.

And so begins the journey to a new (old?) reality. Juniper, Mike and all the others battle against fires from planes that fell from the sky, the chaos of cities plunged into the dark ages without electricity, and rural communities ill-equipped to operate without the benefits of machinery. New horrors emerge as well such as the Protector of Portland – a man bent on claiming his place in this new world through force and intimidation. They face cannibalism, the plague and brutal warfare, things most people in America today would never imagine having to face.

Stirling writes his tale with brutal realism. Though the initial premise of the story is a little far fetched, and the cause of “The Change” is never explained, the actions taken by the characters after the event are well thought through. The things they have to endure are horrifyingly plausible. That these things are happening in places I know makes it even more chilling. It is a well-written book and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m looking forward to picking up book two, The Protector’s War.

If you’re into alt-history novels at all, this is a great series. If you’ve read it already, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – August 30, 2017

Welcome to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! Join me in finding inspiration in unexpected places. Each week I post a new prompt intended to spark ideas for whatever writing project you’re working on—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. The possibilities are endless!

If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are a few simple rules, so please check them out below before posting. 

Think about someone in your life who stirs up extreme emotion – love or anger – and write a letter to this person, expressing your honest feelings. Don’t worry: you don’t have to mail it.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

The Ugly Secret

This week’s writing prompt was to:

Write about a secret without actually naming it. Describe how that secret makes you feel.

The scenario that follows is not a true story, though it could be based on the experiences of thousands of children. It may be difficult for some readers, and does contain potential triggers for trauma victims, so please, proceed accordingly.

I have a secret I keep close to my heart. I don’t tell. I can’t tell.

I sit in the back corner hoping no one will notice me. I hide my face behind my hair, letting it fall over my eyes to create my own private space. I doodle mindlessly in the margins of my notebook. A rosebud, dripping blood.

My stomach hurts, like I need to vomit, but I can’t go home again. The school nurse looks at me funny when I go see her. I can’t take her accusatory glare. I’m sure she thinks I’m drinking. Or on drugs. I pluck at my sleeve and contemplate cutting. But I can’t, not here. Instead I press on the half-healed line on the inside of my elbow. Somehow the pain makes me feel better.

I reach into my bag and pull out a few of the chocolate chips I took from the pantry at home. I nibble on them without letting anyone see. It’s all I have. And it will have to do for now.

I wear my shame like a mantle. Don’t they see? How do they not know?

Childhood sexual abuse is never an easy thing to talk about. But hiding it in secrecy only gives power to the abusers. My hope in sharing this scenario is not to bring more pain to anyone, but to shine a light on an ugly truth. Too many have suffered at the hands of their abusers, and only go on to suffer more throughout their lives. No one should have to suffer in the darkness, but all deserve to find healing.

Holding on to a dark secret such as the one described here does even more harm to a person who has already been victimized by keeping the individual locked in a vicious cycle of self-loathing and shame. If you, or someone you know, is battling this kind of darkness, I urge you to reach out for help. Here are a couple of websites that offer help and support:

avoicefortheinnocent.org
rainn.org

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – August 23, 2017

Welcome to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! Join me in finding inspiration in unexpected places. Each week I post a new prompt intended to spark ideas for whatever writing project you’re working on—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. The possibilities are endless!

If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are a few simple rules, so please check them out below before posting. This week’s prompt might be a little out of season again, but it’s never the wrong time to give a thoughtful gift.

Write about a secret without actually naming it. Describe how that secret makes you feel.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – August 16, 2017

Welcome to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! Join me in finding inspiration in unexpected places. Each week I post a new prompt intended to spark ideas for whatever writing project you’re working on—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. The possibilities are endless!

If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are a few simple rules, so please check them out below before posting. This week’s prompt might be a little out of season again, but it’s never the wrong time to give a thoughtful gift.

If you are still fretting about gifts, instead of rushing out and buying the hurried present, try this option. On nice paper write down what you wish you could give each person, and a little description why. Choose things they really need or would want vs. material things, i.e., good health, a publishing contract, a baby girl, one more day with Grandpa before he passed away.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – August 9, 2017

Welcome to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! Join me in finding inspiration in unexpected places. Each week I post a new prompt intended to spark ideas for whatever writing project you’re working on—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. The possibilities are endless!

If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are a few simple rules, so please check them out below before posting. This week we turn in a slightly different direction – editing!

Good grammar counts! Use today (this week!) to revise and edit earlier pieces.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner: A Review

I have been eager to read The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, since I watched the movie adaptation back in 2014. At the time, I wasn’t aware it was based on a book. When I found out, I was excited to read it. Thus, it seemed perfectly appropriate that this book join my 2017 Reading Challenge list as #4, a book that became a movie.

The Maze Runner is the story of Thomas, a 16 year old boy who joins a group of other boys ranging in age from about 13-18 who have all been sent to live in what they call The Glade. But there’s a catch. No one can remember anything about their life before The Glade, or why they were sent there.

The Glade sits inside a giant maze, and every day the boys of the Glade run through it, mapping it in detail and searching for an exit. Every night, the walls of the Maze move and the doors close, locking out horrible, mechanical beasts they call Grievers. This has been going on for two years without success. Until Thomas arrives. Then everything changes. I found myself pulling for Thomas and the other boys to succeed.

I have to admit, this book didn’t quite have the “wow” effect I was hoping for. There were a few quirky things I found difficult to get past, especially early on. Maybe this was because I’d seen the movie before reading the book.

Overall this book was a fun read. It’s well written, the plot moves quickly, and I couldn’t help but care about the characters. And the sequel is set up nicely in the end so that I am now eager to continue reading the story. I will say this, however, if you haven’t read it yet, and you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first.