‘’I am this animal because they need me and my warriors to protect their reign of peace’’
I made a yearly resolution to read more fantasy, especially series since those are the kind of books that I end up enjoying the most. I did some research and found this series which is centered around queer women (after I got the third book as an ARC on Netgalley…I thought it better to start from the first!). Happy Woman’s day (for yesterday!) this book series does contain some kickass and imperfect women.
The story is set in the future. After religious wars, people have recognized the Collective and most people are enlightened on the fact that they had past lives. The story follows Jael and Alyssa, however, there are some parts told from other characters’ point of view. In fact, the story starts from the antagonist’s Cyrus’ point of views and there are some parts from his views, but only a little. Most of the chapters follow Jael and Alyssa. Jael has been a warrior for the Collective in all her lives. She burns the bodies of those that die alone in order to release their soul; she also kills those that are badly-born in one life in order to have peace in another. Alyssa is a healer type and an Advocate for the Collective. Jael has some interesting abilities and Alyssa also. They are the ultimate power couple…only they do not always agree on the methods to use. This is very much a plot where one character finds light and the other darkness, in order to form gray together.
As I mentioned, some parts are told from other characters’ points of views. One of them follows Kyle, Cyrus’ daughter. Cyrus became a prophet for the One – a monotheistic god from ancient religions. He also became a preacher for capitalism in a world that distributes fairly and treats everyone equally. Kyle is very much not like him but for a while, she does not know what to do.
The main plot point is that the Natural Order formed by Cyrus is becoming too dangerous. Food and medicine is being stolen and redistributed by them in a world which is facing many natural disasters in all of its borderless territories. The Guard, which Jael is the leader on, are assessing people that have heard the Collective’s calling and training them…to become Dragon Horse warriors. Yes, the Guard have a bond with horses that come darkness, sprout wings.
This book is part of a trilogy – both the name and the plot itself show this. This is only the beginning. It does not start too fast but the end has some interesting action. I have to admit that it took until almost the end for me to become interested in what would happen.
I have been researching and discovering what makes good plots and characters and this book had all the right things in place. However, one thing really bothered me, enough for me considering quitting. This book was published in 2015, so not that long ago. To me, there were two main problems. The first is that the Guard are pureblood descendants. The Natural Order is also preaching pureblood-ness (and are racist, unlike the Guard). At least, the Guard have a reason for this, although it confused me why they should keep to ethnic couples if they all had the gene. Perhaps that will be explained later on. I admit to not knowing a lot of biology. This factor bothered me a bit but I could understand that it was a plot point not ideology pushing as the people of this Collective world, do not care much for ethnicity.
The second factor that bothered me was that the author, in my opinion, confused gender and sex. A person that is intersex but identifies more towards being male, is said to be a third gender. There was also the phrase ‘same-sex oriented’ being used which is used in today’s reality but it would be more accurate to say, especially towards one particular character, that it was same-gender oriented. I have to admit that I cringed a bit with all these happenings in the book. At one point, ‘gendered’ is used. It’s also a very binary world still…you would think that it being set in such a fair and enlightened future, that it would be otherwise.
Despite this, the world building was okay. It was interesting to see what things from today would be called then. The horses were interested and the powers as well. It was interesting to see how Jael and Alyssa changed each other. Jael is a realist and Alyssa is an idealist but they both question what needs to be done. Jael at times was a bit too aggressive and at the beginning to sexually driven (she saw Alyssa as a sort of spoil of war! That changed quick however). Alyssa was very interesting. Although she’s a first life-er and Jael has so much experience, she isn’t pushed around. Even during sex, she doesn’t just sit there but she initiates as well and is active. There isn’t a lot of sex scenes although there are a few. There was one however, where even I (somewhat asexual and I tend to skim them) thought it was very hot and different from how they are usually written.
The fact that they like each other, doesn’t resolve their problems and their incompatibility. The characters are realistic, not always likable and that’s ok. Their relationship has chemistry but I found it a bit squeaky that they had sex before discussing and that one is super-protective even though Second, another character, said that Alyssa is a grown adult who makes her own decisions. Jael especially is ethically dubious, not in the fact that she must kill people but in the way she acts.
Overall, I’m intrigued enough to continue reading the series. I would give this book 3 stars. The ending was better than the start or the middle. I want to see the characters evolve. Whoever is interested in reading the series should proceed with caution on the topics mentioned above.
Help for homework help: Teaching parents Common Core math
By Associated Press
Published: 19:06 GMT, 3 November 2015 | Updated: 19:06 GMT, 3 November 2015
WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) — Any adult who has tried to help a second-grader with homework has noticed math is not what it used to be. Now schools are unlocking the secrets of Common Core math for mystified parents.
They're holding special classes or giving out materials designed for adults so they can help children with their math homework. After parents learn the strategies, educators say, they're more willing to get on board with Common Core math amid criticism from some politicians, from fellow parents, on social media and from celebrities like Louis C.K., who complained Common Core math made his daughters cry.
Nearly all states are using Common Core learning standards, which dictate what students should know in math and English.
In this Monday, Oct. 19, 2015 photo parents Kate Ezyk, left, and her husband Matt Ezyk, second from right, both of Westerly, Mass., practice Common Core math techniques with elementary school principle Polly Gillie, right, during a math workshop at a community center in Westerly. The Westerly school district is running the workshop for parents to teach them Common Core math so they can help their grade schoolers with their homework. Math specialist Gina Gervasini looks on behind right. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In Westerly, teachers and administrators gathered recently in a classroom full of adults eager to learn. It was part of a free three-part series called "Parents Can Help With Math," run by the Westerly Parent Academy.
Matt and Kate Ezyk are perplexed by Common Core math and have seen Kate's sister struggle to help her daughter with homework. As parents of a kindergartener, they worried they weren't equipped to help him when he starts bringing assignments home.
"If this doesn't make sense to us, how are we going to help him?" Matt Ezyk said.
During the 90-minute session, educators demonstrated different ways to solve basic math problems.
"How would you add these two single-digit numbers?" asked one, as she writes 7+6 on a whiteboard.
The teachers went on to explain ways to get to the answer: "doubles," ''count on" and "bridge to 10."
In doubles, the student finds the closest double and works from there. So, 7+6 becomes 6+6=12+1=13.
In bridge to 10, students break one of the other numbers up to form a combination that makes 10. In 7+6, break up the 6 to make 3+3. Then, 7+3=10. 10+3=13.
In count on, the student finds the largest number and adds to it, one by one. In 7+6, the student might count on 7, 8, 9, and reach 10. Add the remaining 3 to get 13.
Parents were then put into groups to do an exercise children might do in the classroom — go through flash cards with different formulas and choose how to solve them: "doubles," ''count on" or "bridge to 10."
Children will eventually learn traditional algorithms, the educators explained, but will have a solid foundation in understanding what numbers mean and being able to justify their thinking.
"We want to develop flexible thinking, so if they hit a roadblock, they have multiple places they can go," said Polly Gillie, principal of Dunn's Corners Elementary School. "It all comes back to real-world application and mental math."
Bill Luck, 37, is a parent of a first-grader and has an engineering degree. He always found math easy but didn't understand his daughter's homework after she started coming home with "10 frames," tools used to help children learn about numbers. He found it hard to explain the basics to his daughter, and said he hoped what he learned here could help them both avoid frustration.
The school district in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has also held parent nights.
"Parents say, 'This is crazy.' They have a misunderstanding of Common Core. They come in a little hot with misconceptions," said the district's Julie Holmes.
Other parents are concerned about teaching math to their children the wrong way, but Holmes tells them not to worry.
"Ultimately, any time spent with a child talking about math is worthwhile time," she said.
In Arizona, a foundation that works to improve schools, the Rodel Foundation, came out with a book last year, "Math Power." Kim Rimbey, Rodel's chief learning officer, said when she sees people complaining about Common Core on Facebook, it's almost always because they don't understand representations such as number lines and 10 frames.
The book includes simple graphics that explain how to use those representations. The foundation has sold or given out 37,000 copies of the book to districts, parents and others. It's available for $4.99 as an e-book.
Back in Westerly, Gillie said she saw the lightbulbs go off for parents as they began to understand what teachers are asking students to do.
"They were like, 'Oh, my gosh, this makes total sense.'"
In this Monday, Oct. 19, 2015 photo fourth grade math teacher Felicia Connelly, of South Kingstown, R.I., teaches Common Core math techniques during a workshop at a community center in Westerly, R.I. The Westerly school district is running the workshop for parents to teach them Common Core math so they can help their grade schoolers with their homework. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this Monday, Oct. 19, 2015 photo Grisel Santiago, left, and Michelle Pont, center, both of Westerly, R.I., practice Common Core math techniques during a workshop at a community center, in Westerly. The Westerly school district is running the workshop for parents to teach them Common Core math so they can help their grade schoolers with their homework. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.