Ajax Bell

Author of the Queen City Boys books

Things and books and other things

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I’m in the market for a used dresser or side board or cabinet of sorts to replace the cheap, small emergency shelves set up in my sewing nook.  I’m simply hoping to stumble across the right thing in a thrift store or whatever and paint it (or I figured I’d be happy with something like this).  However I stumbled across this re-do the other day and now suddenly I need something I can refinish with a squid.  Like I will waste away, pining for a squid dresser if I don’t get one.

click for pictures from the books locations, in case you werent already wishing you were in Provence right now

I just finished reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s YsabelThe Lions of al-Rassan is one of my favorite books and I really enjoyed The Last Light of the Sun.  If I find I like an author I generally seek out more of their books, but I rarely read anything about those books or the author.  I’ve been burned too many times by finding out the creator is a jerk and I find it’s easier to just read a story in the void and only bring to it my current preconceptions of the world and not any negativity about the author or to be pre-influenced by reviews I’ve read.  So based on my two previous reads it seemed safe to assume that Kay wrote character stories in fictionalized versions of historical events (al-Rassan is essentially El Cid and Moorish Spain and Sun is Alfred the Great defeating the Vikings). Which he does write, right? He just also writes other things, apparently.

Ysabel reads like a YA urban fantasy, you know the ones where you’re just a teenager in the city and suddenly you get caught up in the drama of the fairy world? (See Charles de Lint‘s Newford saga stories or Holly Black‘s Modern Faerie tales.) Kay’s story relied more on the strange possibility of magic and history colliding and less actual fairy tales and the setting, Provence, was as much of a character as person in the book.  It was enjoyable and neatly written, it made me dream and think and still left something lacking.  I just didn’t engage enough with any of the characters.  I was compelled to keep reading by the mystery and strange magic and French Celtic history.  And while the main characters were likeable enough, they were real enough, still they just didn’t make me care enough.  I’d recommend this, but save it for the airplane or the beach.

After reading I tried to sleep, somewhat unsuccessfully, because of a string of late, late night thunderstorms that seemed so threatening that I got up from my bed under the windows and went and curled up on the couch (not under windows and further from big, bad thunder).  But as I drove in to work this morning, the storms had left behind a jumbled mess of crazy clouds rushing out and everything is so very, vibrantly, overwhelmingly green, especially against the grey sky.  And I remember, as I do every year, that I (and surely everyone else) continues to live in Tennessee because spring is so sensational.  It’s really astounding how the trees fill in and the colors.  It’s like God is talking directly to you, just for a little bit, daring you notice every leaf and every change and be grateful for it.  And it will be hot soon enough, spring so fleeting like the first flush of being in love and overwhelmed by it, but it comes back every year.  It’s worth the storms and the heat waves and the grim winter.  The Steve Earle line, “Tennessee is green in spring” is like the understatement of the century but at the same time anyone who lives here understands the depth and meaning of that little statement.

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