Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky - or, Lydia Netzer is amazeballs!

It is no secret that I adore Lydia Netzer. She is an amazing person, a wonderful and true friend, and a truly brilliant author. I've known her now for more than 15 years. I've been overjoyed with the success she found with Shine Shine Shine. I loved seeing bits and pieces of what I knew buried inside the pages. 
Shine Shine Shine did very well! And then there was the long wait...the wait the wait the wait for Lydia's next book.

The time arrived - July 1, and How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky launched for the world to read and enjoy. I was actually lucky enough to read an advanced copy of it. I love it. I love the quirkiness of it, I love the characters, I love that there is a George and an Irene. I love that there is magic and science and a girl who speaks in whistles and that there are black holes and there is love.

I wanted to post some of the reviews she has gotten for this book because I am outrageously proud of Lydia, and I want others to read her books and see how great she is too!

Here is a really good review that was in the Atlanta Journal Constitution -- it's behind a subscription wall so I am sharing it here: 

In her second novel, “How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky,” Lydia Netzer returns to outer space, the setting for her acclaimed debut, “Shine Shine Shine” (2012), for another look at the human species as it attempts to bridge the gap between life on earth and life beyond the stars. Once again, fate plays havoc with science. 
Netzer has a thing about programming. In “Shine Shine Shine,” a feral child was taught to understand facial expressions and how to make conversation; in later life, he became a robotics expert who engineered robots to be more life-like. Now, Netzer asks if people can be similarly encoded to fall in love — in a match made not in heaven, but on earth.
+“How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky” by Lydia Netzer
It all starts with two precocious 12-year-old girls who think it would be cool to have babies born on the same day, then groom them to eventually marry each other. “Think what you could do for them,” Sally says to her best friend, Bernice, “to make that marriage awesome.” 
Gulp. Like my tweenage plan to marry Ringo, it’s a fantasy most kids would abandon by about age 15. But these two grow up to carry out their scheme, right down to separating their twin toddlers so they won’t remember each other when they finally do meet. Thank goodness, before that can happen, something ruptures the mothers’ friendship, and Sally orders the whole wacky idea scrapped. 
We don’t know much of this when the novel opens 29 years later. Astrophysicist Irene Sparks has been recruited by the prestigious Toledo Institute of Astronomy because of her research into black holes, and she moves to take a position there. Her new colleague, George Dermont, a cosmologist and professor at the fictional institute, is also on the brink of revealing his revolutionary theory — it involves a gateway to a parallel universe — but has yet to prove it. 
Irene is deeply skeptical of love and, despite a live-in boyfriend, steers clear of emotional and sexual intimacy. By contrast, George, who was given a description of his future beloved by an astrologer, has been desperately auditioning every woman who fits the bill, to no avail. 
The moment he spots Irene, “every electron in every atom in the universe paused, breathed in deeply, assessed the situation, and then reversed its course, spinning backward, or the other way, which was the right way all along. And afterward, the universe was exactly the same, but infinitely more right.” Equally floored, Irene pictures her sudden and overwhelming attraction to George as shocking as “unfolding an envelope and finding water.” 
Fate insists they were meant for each other. But real life has other plans that force the young lovers to look for answers in a shared past they have both mysteriously forgotten.
Into Irene and George’s blossoming romance, Netzer deftly braids another star-crossed tale: the history of their mothers’ troubled friendship. Irene’s late mother, Bernice, kept her emotional secrets under wraps with alcohol; the once open-minded Sally is now a high-powered attorney with unexplained anger issues. As we learn the truth about their relationship and the particulars of their children’s births, Irene and George close in on the reasons they feel so connected. 
A couple more twinned souls round out the cast — Irene’s Hulk-like boyfriend, an online game designer, leads a double life as Belion, Archmage of the Underdark; and George’s girlfriend, a math whiz named Kate, was raised by her father to communicate only through music. Like the rest of the characters in the novel, they’re as likable as they are flawed.
The good news: You don’t have to be a physics major to follow the thinking in this geektastic book. Granted, “How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky” piles on the big questions. It asks whether “religion and astronomy and astrology all used to be the same thing” — and might still be. 
But Netzer keeps things grounded by blending astrophysics and cosmology with tender, illuminating insights into human relationships. The novel’s black holes are both literal and figurative — like the “whistling chasm” in the lucid dream world Irene visits each night in search of her mother. And its parallel universes come in various personal shapes and sizes: Gods and goddesses have shared George’s waking life since childhood; and in an online city of his own making, Belion stalks a mysterious virtual maiden. 
Every so often, the narrator steps out of character to clarify or sum things up, offer advice to the reader, and to point out the less-than-obvious. These soliloquies seem right at home in a wickedly funny novel that plays like a Shakespearean comedy — complete with spirits and deities, fickle stars and planets, mixed signals and missed chances — at its core, a story of ordinary mortals looking for love in all its many disguises.
 Here is a link to the lovely review in The Boston Globe.

Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ which is mighty fine.

Pop Goes the Reader mostly reviews YA novels (another of my favorite genres), but she decided to read How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky and I'm so glad she did. She has links to other reviews as well.

I love this review by RT Book Reviews - especially this part: 
Seeing how well that book did was great, but Netzer's sophomore effort (if we don't count June's novella "Everybody's Baby"), How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky, is astounding. Netzer manages to take a blend of magical realism, the quirk factor of her previous novel, and her own unique voice to create a novel that stands out from the crowd being created by authors like Matthew Quick and Graeme Simsion.

Clearly, I highly encourage each of you to run to your local indie bookstore or download it onto your kindle (or nook, or iBook, or whatever you happen to use as an e-reader). Oh! And if you want to not use amazon (or bn or apple) to buy your e-book, you can check out Lydia's blogpost about that here.

And did you know you can also buy the audiobook? Joshilyn Jackson (another author you should read, if you haven't yet) reads the book. It is wonderful. You can hear a sample here. She read for Shine Shine Shine as well. She is amazing at narrating these books. 

If you are on Facebook, I highly encourage you to go and "like" Lydia Netzer.

I am looking forward to my book club in September when we will be discussing How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky. Now to think of what to eat and drink at this fabulous affair. Perhaps I'll ask The Lovely Lydia!