A historical gothic thriller set during the great depression in the rural south. It has a thread which linOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A historical gothic thriller set during the great depression in the rural south. It has a thread which links to the US Civil War. Readers won’t guess what the source of the horror is until two thirds through the book; be prepared to linger at the edge of your comfort zone and have a hard time putting this book down.
About: Main character Frank Nichols is a WWI vet turned college professor. His girl friend Eudora and he have decided to marry after a several year affair which has destroyed her marriage and his career.
Against the advice of his deceased aunt they move into the house she has given him in her will. The small Southern town where the house is located (near the river) is where Frank plans to write his historical book. It will be about his notorious and cruel ancestor whose plantation was also located “across the river”, where he was horrifically murdered at the hands of his slaves.
Our narrator, Frank, and his young wife do not recognize what lurks just beyond the river, even though he has been warned by a variety of sources not to venture into the woods. But soon they and the entire town will be caught in a tangle which will alter their lives and the landscape completely .
Thoughts: I found Those Across the River in audio at our local library, and think it is a perfect read for Fall since the climax for the novel is set around Halloween. The reader has a slightly sad and light southern accent – perfect for Frank. Interestingly he also has a variety of deeper accents which are effectively used for the other Southern characters in the novel. All work very well in helping make this book a heartbeat-increasing pleasure to listen to.
With its historical thread I was thinking that it was going to be a realistic thriller, but after finishing think that I would define it as horror. I liked the dark paranormal aspect although would not recommended it for “sensitive readers”. There are some interesting and gory scenes - one in particular a graphic sexual encounter which may shake up some readers; it did me.
I would recommend it for those who enjoy Southern gothic stories, thrillers with a paranormal edge, horror aficionados, and anyone with an interest in the US civil war (sadly only a too short thread as I found myself wishing for more). I liked that everything did not end up in a “traditional story tied bow”, and give this audio book 4 stars. I will be watching for more from this author since it did surprise me. ...more
An awarding winning novella, that has a dark and lovely rendition of a numbOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought in a graphic novel trio review.
An awarding winning novella, that has a dark and lovely rendition of a number of combined ancient fables. It’s gorgeously illustrated and celebrates Japanese mythology.
About: A young Buddhist monk who is at peace with his life is in charge of a small temple set in some beautiful mountains in Japan. While attending to his his daily rituals and household maintenance he is emotionally accosted by two animals/spirits who want to live in his place. In their attempt to finagle the little church from the Zen priest, the fox falls in love with him. Later when his life is in danger from another selfish faction who would like to live his life, the fox spirit has no choice but to attempt to save him.the dream hunter
Thoughts: This is a stand alone story from the Sandman series which I am only just learning about, it was apparently written after the series had been “retired”. Technically not a graphic novel, this is really a story with a lot of illustrations. Happily they are gorgeous – I love Japanese art. The text is incredible too – complex and yet very easy to read, which is a big favorite style for me.
It won several awards in 2000 including a Bram Stoker and a Hugo. In my research I also became aware that several other versions of the book have been printed and are using other artists in a more traditional comic book format, including a very recent version. A warning for parents is that it is adult in nature with some very dark themes, so I would not give this book to children or immature teens. The story contains “dream hunters” which are particularly menacing – very cool but scary. I am thinking nightmares.
I loved this book at 4 stars and I am now a fan of Neil Gaiman. Believe it or not this is the first of his books that I’ve read. So what’s next? Perhaps American Gods before the movie comes out? I better get cracking!
Please note according to my searches the version I read is not available in the US. It is however available in the UK and Canada. ...more
A slowly intensifying and terrifying page turner that details a woman’s descent into abuse, addiction, andOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A slowly intensifying and terrifying page turner that details a woman’s descent into abuse, addiction, and hell and/or insanity. It’s not a novel for the faint-of-heart.
Shellie’s description: The story alternates between two different times in the main character’s life, the past (occurring during the 1970’s) and the present. The main character, Julia, is a creative personality, an artist who paints pictures and cares for her ailing mother at the family home. She also has a terrible past and secrets that come to light as the story of her youthful life unfolds.
As a young girl she didn’t have the emotional support of her parents who dismissed her art, asserting that her life should be one of traditional domesticity. In fact her mother, the only surviving family member, is still verbally abusive. This created a background which led her to choose the wrong man – a deranged psychopath. As the story moves along her secrets and the reasons for succumbing to the lure of mind-numbing substances and horrible men become clearer.
With themes of demons, angels and the beings that exist in between the realms of good and evil, Julia finds power, retribution, and some kind of peace in spite of her descent.
Shellie’s thoughts: This is a wonderful and horrifying novel. It has a writing style that is easy to read and follow, the author moving back and forth between the past and present as the main character’s terrible story is told. With no issues in the pacing or editing to mar the reading experience, it’s a seamless read.
Additionally, what Sandy DeLuca does is to lead the reader into the darkness slowly, increasing the tension so that the book becomes difficult to put down. It’s hard to turn away as the plot slowly crashes to its climax – and just like a gawker at a crime scene or auto accident, the reader is left wanting to see what’s happening even though we know it’s not going to be pleasant.
I would recommend Descent especially to women who love horror or crime fiction since it involves issues that are important to and about women, but I’d also recommend it to anyone who loves literary horror, since they too will enjoy the book. A word of caution though - this book is extremely dark, has strong language, and is at times violent. It’s NOT for persons of sensitive or delicate sensibilities. But since I love tastefully dark, visceral and shocking reads it’s a 4 star in my opinion. ...more
A “literary tragicomic” that is translated from Norwegian. It’s a short but challenging read which is at tOriginal review posted on Layers of Thought.
A “literary tragicomic” that is translated from Norwegian. It’s a short but challenging read which is at times brilliant, heart-wrenching, sadly funny, and with some interesting bits which require mathematical knowledge to fully understand their references.
About: It is told in the first person by an aging woman Mathea Martinsen. She is a cerebral individual, currently obsessed with death, and perhaps possessing a social anxiety disorder. She stays in her apartment with little desire to connect with anyone other than her husband. With no children, her life consists of the television and going to the store, while simultaneously trying to avoid and connect with her neighbors.
When she finally realizes something is missing from her life – that she wants to be and feel important - she attempts to set things right in a dilapidated series of too-late actions. It seems the harder she tries to be someone, and to connect with others, the worse things become. While she remains oddly positive, as the title suggests she only feels smaller. As her muddled attempts become more desperate, her descent leads to a culmination which is not entirely expected and completely heartbreaking.
Thoughts: One of the reasons I love translated literature is that it helps me to think differently. This book definitely did, and then some. It pushed me to re-read passages, research references, and to do quite few “Googles”. I would even say that with so many looking up of references while reading this ARC, it felt like it was not completely finished.
However, many of the analogies were brilliant and curious. The author has a variety of these interesting tidbits scattered through the story line coming directly from Mathea’s thoughts and actions. An example is that Mathea puts many thing into numerical concepts and theories, speaking to her connection with the world and her relationship to her husband – his nickname and even the title is a reference to a numerical theory.
So, I was a bit conflicted about this book. But remembering it is an ARC I will be searching for a finished copy to compare the two. Perhaps footnotes for the Norwegian cultural references and math connections would help? I don’t always want to stop reading to find an answer to a question.
Recommended for readers that enjoy translated fiction, mathematical logic, and for those looking for a much deeper read. I give this short and intellectually intense book 3 stars as it is in its ARC format; more if my concerns have been addressed in the finished copy. ...more
The first in a sexy paranormal romance series where an ancient and darkly handsome demon meets a gorgeousOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
The first in a sexy paranormal romance series where an ancient and darkly handsome demon meets a gorgeous fledgling angel. Their attraction is so strong that there is only one thing that will save them both. Bet you can guess what that is!
About: Serena St. Clair embodies beauty, love and purity. She is blonde and virtually flawless. As a new angel, learning the ropes and saving souls on earth, she is given her first assignment to help a famous and misguided movie star from falling into the depths of hell. In the process she follows him to “Sin City” Las Vegas, in order to protect him. There she bumps into the extremely alluring, evil, and dark master demon Julian Archer. In Vegas he is a hotel casino owner where debauchery is the key activity for every guest. It’s a way to meet his goals of assisting humans in loosing their souls on their road to hell.
Julian is smitten with Serena; but he eats young lovelies like her for breakfast and throws them into a hell of insanity afterward – it’s an easy and pleasurable game for him. But Serena has other ideas, even though her attraction to him is undeniable and almost irresistible. And then, of course, there is drama, sex, and light violence as the two face-off in a battle for their souls. The question is: who will win?
Thoughts: This is a tale of good versus evil with some very sexy scenes (fairly explicit ones). With this dichotomy of black and white morality there are some distinct and polarized characters in Where Demons Fear to Tread. Perhaps this is a plus for a variety of readers, especially those who enjoy a world that is simply contrasted. This was a bit of a problem for me. I prefer complicated characters, and stories with “grey” morality themes.
On the plus side this was an easy and quick read. I think Stephanie Chong is a clear writer, who does not leave the reader in any doubt of her story line or leave any room for confusion with the world she’s created. It’s also her first novel. So, I am also thinking that there is room for her characters to develop? With that said, I am going to read the second in her Company of Angels series to see where she takes Serena and Julian and what other characters the author introduces into the series. Besides, this is romance and it’s supposed to be light, fun and not too complicated.
I would recommend this novel for paranormal romance readers who like a traditional story line in their reads and also readers who like clear evil versus good contrasts, but also enjoy sexy explicit romances. It’s a 3 star in my opinion....more
An adorable mystery for middle grade readers – especially boys! It h3.5 stars actually Original review with links and more posted at Layers of Thought.
An adorable mystery for middle grade readers – especially boys! It has incredible black and white line drawn illustrations. It can be seen as a book for literary minded and reluctant readers and as an introduction to this fine American author.
About: Eddie is the nick name for Edgar Allen Poe and the story is based upon the author’s humble beginnings, as we find out more about how he was born, raised, and lived.
Young Eddie attempts to get himself out of trouble when a powerful next door neighbor’s prized rooster and the local tom cat are hung on a weather vein in a bag during the middle of the night. Eddie is blamed for creating the ruckus by the entire neighborhood and especially by his father.
Thoughts: I just loved this cute short story, the drawings are lovely black lined and delicately done and will break up the reading for younger or reluctant readers. The story is cute and has a deeper appropriate age level message – which states “if you know who you are and are honest and truthful that is what matters most - even if others do not believe you”.
The story has a touch of the speculative. Our young hero has his own personal imp - which is based upon one of Poe’s stories “The Imp of the Perverse” (actual story is linked on the blog). Eddie experiences the human conundrum where one often chooses to follow an internal voice (called by Poe the “imp”) rather than a better and more reasonable form of logic, therefore creating many human problems. Poe believed that it is human nature to follow this “imp” which persuades us to wait until the last minute to accomplish important responsibilities.
This book can be seen as a roll model for children, as well as for youngsters whose interest are literary rather than athletic or social. An important story about one of my favorite classic authors. 3.5 stars for this perfect Halloween “treat” rather than a bag full of candy – or in addition too! ...more
With gorgeous graphics, this is a sci fi novella for adults orOriginal version posted at Layers of Thought with a trio of reviews.
3.5 stars actually!
With gorgeous graphics, this is a sci fi novella for adults or mature and older teens. It is a metaphor for an existential trip that most of us unexpectedly take at one time or another - like the main character.
About: It’s a graphic take on Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novella The Electric Ant, which was first published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine in October 1969. It’s based around an android questioning his reason for existing after he discovers that he is not actually a human as he has believed. His shocking discovery leads to questions about who he is, his purpose, who created him, and if his behaviors are his own or programed by someone else. By opening himself up and examining his “pre-programed tapes” takes a trip into the past via some type of a time-warp. As he digs around inside his inner workings, it can be seen as a metaphor for an examination of his “psychological self”. Psycho-babble for sure but never the less a key concept.
Thoughts: Definitely an adult novel as there are some very adult themes and images, sexual scenes and nudity (although the rude bits are glossed over). Three artists contributed to the novel but the main images displayed are by Pascal Aline.
The one thing that bothered me about the book was that the main character’s diggings and his apparent time travel felt unclear to me. I found myself wanting more and think I would like to read the actual version of Dick’s novella to compare. Hopefully Dick’s writing of the android’s existential experiences will be clearer in the original story. With that said, the graphics are completely wonderful, most of the story is darn good, the ending was one that I really liked and is completely appropriate as it reflects the time in which is was written - the late sixties. So on balance it’s a 3.5 stars.
Extra Info: Marvel Comics adapted "The Electric Ant" as a limited series, in 2010. Produced by writer David Mack; French artist Pascal Alixe; and with covers provided by artist Paul Pope. Also for an interesting indie short film based around the story which is about 6 minutes long link below. Cool but I was not crazy about the ending. Its called "All Gates Open" - http://vimeo.com/6793981...more
A science fiction/fairytale with a strong female protagonist and a handsome prince. It’Original review posted at Layers of Thought.
4.5 stars actually!
A science fiction/fairytale with a strong female protagonist and a handsome prince. It’s a fun start to what looks to be very popular and exciting young adult series.
About: In a future world, plague is ravaging the population and everyone lives in fear of being it’s next victim. The main character, Cinder, is a teenage cyborg - a human with artificial and computerized body parts, including a too small artificial foot that she is self conscious about and has had since she was ten. Sadly, as a cyborg, Cinder is not considered entirely human in this society and has very few rights. So the story starts with a special and discriminated against main character.
She lives in what is now considered New Beijing with her unkind stepmother, two step sisters (one is evil and one nice), and a sweet robot helper. She works as a mechanic - the best in the overpopulated city. She is the forced provider for her family, though her stepmother allots her only a closet sized room and dirty oil stained clothes. Cinder however, while berated in her home and society, is reasonably comfortable in her less-than-human place in this future world’s hierarchy. Life is looking up since she has found a replacement for her too small foot and there is to be a coronation for the local prince with a ball to celebrate. When Cinder meets the prince unexpectedly (he needs help with a broken android) it appears as if the Prince likes her.
As things become complicated and drama ensues, it becomes clear that Cinder may be a factor in saving their world.
Thoughts: This is a sweet and fun story and I just loved Cinder. She is imperfect and smart and stands up for herself. She works hard and gets beyond the grease and grime and does something of value other than fix her hair and make-up. She also has the gumption to tell off some evil and unkind people in the story, creating some excellent dialog that teens will love. Me too – it kept me rooting for this character.
I listened to this book in audio as well as read bits here and there. It was done very well with the reader having a strong and pleasant voice, which helps make an audio book listenable for me. It’s an interesting and surprising take on the original fairytale, with some unusual twists, a strong and smart heroine, some interesting science, and paranormal aspects, all of which kept me happily reading/listening. The only negative aspect for this story is that it’s a cliff hanger – so if you read this book you will most likely be sucked into the rest of the series. Sad thing is that you will have to wait for the next several books in the series as this was just released. Nevertheless, it’s a great book for young adults and adults that love teen reads; a fun one too! In my opinion this sci-fi-ish fairytale re-working gets a 4.5 star rating. ...more
An intriguing literary critique and more, by Margaret Atwood, based around science fiction. It’s for bookOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
An intriguing literary critique and more, by Margaret Atwood, based around science fiction. It’s for book lovers as well as fans of the author and the genre.
About: This audio version of In Other Worlds is a catalog of Margaret Atwood’s relationship with science fiction and contains a number of her unpublished lectures including those titled “Flying Rabbits”, “Dire Cartographies”, and “Burning Bushes”. In the lectures she gives examples of the books which are important to her and her perspective around science fiction and more – how each book she describes affected her development, its place in history, and how it helped to create the genre as we see it today. Also included are her personal, respectable, and well thought out definitions for the sub and overlapping genres within the broad scope of speculative literature and science fiction. At the end of the book are two short stories written by the author and read by Susan Deneaker.
Thoughts: I devoured this short read/listen, since I adore anything sci-fi and books about books. It was a complete pleasure for me. Atwood has some intriguing ideas about what the genre of science fiction is all about, especially for me considering my obsession with defining genres. That Atwood goes into depth was helpful since I learned many things from this book, which for me is what it’s all about. I now have other ways of referencing and categorizing a book.
I am certain that this is not a book for everyone, however, I would recommend it as a must read for any serious science fiction geek. It’s also good for the reference shelf since it contains loads of information on classics, and of course those interesting “speculative” genre definitions that she has provided. In my opinion it’s a great listen. I will be purchasing a paper copy for my personal library. I give this terrific nonfiction book - a big 4 stars....more
A zombie story, with just enough gore to keep you at the edge of your seat. It has an amazing opening whicOriginal review posted on Layers of Thought.
A zombie story, with just enough gore to keep you at the edge of your seat. It has an amazing opening which will suck readers in… zombie baby fingers grasping hungrily under a door!
About: Set in Texas, where characters have easy access to firearms, there is plenty of shooting- especially with survivors attempting to remain alive and zombies searching for their preferred food. Jenni and Katie the main protagonists, are thrown together because their world has collapsed. As they run from the growing hordes that are starving for their flesh, they become friends fast, sharing a similar loss of loved ones. On a mission to find Jenni’s teenage step son they stumble upon a refuge - a group of individuals who have created a walled community. In their attempt to make the area safe against the hungry hordes, there is ample room for all sorts of conflict (internal and external) as the compound’s residents try to create a relatively safe environment.
Thoughts: Rhiannon Frater has a very down to earth writing style which is easy to get lost in, making The First Days a page turning novel. It is the first in a trilogy which was serialized by the author online, later self published, then recently picked up by Tor for traditional publishing - understandably a dream come true for Frater. With psychological insight into the feelings of her characters and a diverse character range (one main character is lgbt), this story has some interesting twists. I liked the two relatable main characters with their strength and feistiness; a favorite kind of female protagonist for me.
A word of warning though. Like much horror that is effective, it has some rough language. Not much but some. There is a lighter side too, with some romance (light sexual references) and plenty of brain exploding gore for a zombie-loving fan base. This is an apocalyptic story with a monster that is a bit faster than your standard moan, groan and limp kind. They run at 30 miles per hour giving the survivors a bit more to worry about. And apparently they are learning too, all of which leaves loads of room for some heart pounding action scenes.
This was my third zombie book ever, I enjoyed it. It’s a 3.5 stars in my opinion and I am looking forward to reading what happens to theses poor souls stuck in this compound trying to get by in a world that has turned to hell; and where they are on the menu. I am suspecting that it will not end well....more
An accessible and life-affirming novella which takes the reader on a trip from the dark stages of addiction and abuse to a kind of whole-ness; set in a realistic and magical setting.
About: Young Jilly Coppercorn, our story's narrator, has not had an easy life. The victim of abuse of various kinds – much of it at the hands of family members - it has been a struggle to stay alive, let alone clean and drug free. Now off the drugs she is turning her life around. Then a good friend, one of her best, turns up and invites her to a concert of sorts. She is a bit worried as this friend is from her old life – her addicted life.
As she steps over doorway into the party she has an unsettling feeling akin to an elevator ride; unbeknownst to her she enters a netherworld. It is very much like our world but in many ways not - as Jilly soon discovers. There she must make a choice to stay in this other realm or to go back to her “real life”. It’s a decision that may help her find and reconcile the darker aspects of herself, the parts she has no desire in accepting.
Thoughts: This is a story set in and around Newford – it is also a realistic fantasy series. The 13th in the set, it is a standalone which features Jilly, one of the Newford series readers’ favorite characters. I can understand why. Jilly is wonderful. She is strong and struggling and imperfect. She isn’t tall, beautiful and waifish but artistic, small and messy. I like that, a lot.
Promises to Keep is dark at times, violent at others, it examines many of the issues experienced by young people (adults too) when trying to get and remain clean, as well as dealing with all sorts of toxic childhood experiences. It is also light and life affirming with a believable perspective from the point of view of a female character, which is impressive. I liked that our main character was more concerned with doing positive things like volunteering at a soup kitchen and a nursing home rather than fixing her hair or boyfriend drama.
This is my second Charles De Lint novel. My first was Yarrow, written in 1986 and read some time in the 90’s, which I count as one of my all time favorites. It was read at a time when I could not digest any fiction at all, which tells you something. In Promises to Keep I had damp eyes at times, laughed too, and said I just loved this book out loud more than once. Highly recommended for anyone who is looking for a change from some of the “kick bottom” urban fantasy out there. It is perfect for those looking for lots of realism in their fantasy, but with a more than a touch of the magical. Perfect for artists, musicians, healers and, most of all, those healing themselves. I give this story a 4.5 stars. Perfect for someone like myself who has not read any of the Newford novels; an excellent introduction I’d say....more
4.5 stars actually - so very close to a five! Original review posted at Layers of Thought.
A perfect summer novel for those looking for something with a4.5 stars actually - so very close to a five! Original review posted at Layers of Thought.
A perfect summer novel for those looking for something with a bit more depth in their reading. This novel has an idyllic summer camp setting in the Ozark Mountains, where an unexpected tragedy is set in motion through a series of complicated events. It is a heart wrenching and insightful story that has a diverse and unusual set of characters.
About: When Wyatt Hudy is accepted as a camp counselor for the summer term at the Kinderman Forest Summer Camp at the very last minute, he believes he will be working with children. However, he has not been informed that for the first two week session he and the other new and impromptu counselors will be taking care of disabled adults that are wards of the state. A significant fact is that Wyatt could be mistaken for one of the campers due to a physical deformity he inherited at birth. As a series of seemingly unrelated events occur, there is an incredible build up a for a completely surprising and uncontrollable tragedy; and it does not stop there. What enfolds is at once heartbreaking yet understandable, leading the reader to think about areas that can be viewed as morally and legally ambiguous.
My Thoughts: This novel made me think and feel a great deal of unexpected emotions. The author's densely descriptive and beautifully accessible language helped me to believe that I was there in the mountains in this summer forest setting. But the best part is that the story includes developed, unusually flawed, complex and diverse characters. There are entirely unexpected personality aspects for the characters -counselors, staff, and the campers especially - creating a realistic and often shocking mix. One character could be even classified as the quintessential psychopath of the most insidious kind – one that charms and which most would not remotely suspect. With the questions that this novel will naturally create for its readers, I think The Inverted Forest will be perfect for discussions, though it may bring some heated conversations to the table.
I devoured every moment of the book, kept thinking about the characters, keep thinking about them still even weeks after finishing it. I enjoyed being immersed in the forest setting, one that most Americans will relate to and which is imbedded in our national psyche as a seasonal event – attending or counseling at a summer camp. This is a 4.5 stars and comes very highly recommended for contemporary fiction readers. For me it was the perfect summer setting and a powerful read. It almost made a rare five star status for me....more
“…he thought they only showed themselves in what he called the uncertain places. Where the sea meets the lOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
“…he thought they only showed themselves in what he called the uncertain places. Where the sea meets the land, for example… or inside meets outside… or at dawn or twilight…” page 171
About: Set in early 1970’s California within the now famous wine growing region of Napa Valley, our narrator Will is studying for his degree at UC Berkley when he meets Livie, one of the Feirbrand girls. It’s almost “love at first sight”. However, Will notices something odd about Livie’s family. Something just below the surface and uncertain – inconsistencies, weird happenings, secrets between the Feirbrands, and most significantly their unbelievable prosperity.
When things start to become imbalanced, as they tend to do, and the truth about the reason for the family's wealth begins to percolate out, Will must act to save Livie from an uncertain faction. Termed “those people” they are obviously not completely of our world, and are tricky. Just how conniving Will does not completely understand until things become uncontrollable and they take a trip through the figurative “rabbit hole” into this other realm.
Thoughts: So who are “those people”? There is a clue; the book is based upon one of the lost stories of the Brothers Grimm - the Bondmaid’s tale. So fairies it is. And with this author’s take they are a blend of images from a variety of sources and not one single shape or size. There is definitely an “Alice in Wonderland” quality to this story.
It’s an adult novel that I think older teens may like it too, since the main characters move from early college into adulthood. And of course it’s perfect for those interested in “fairy stories” or re-tellings. The only niggle I had is that while reading I noticed a difference in the writing style from one section to another. For me it was page turning in areas while in other parts reading it was a slight struggle.
However there is no denying the book has an incredible premise and is jammed packed with amazing and creative details. I consider it a very worthy read, especially for readers interested in a non-fantastical primary setting since the story contains some historical details. While set mainly in the 1970’s the text travels from prohibition era through till the mid 1980’s, with a great bit where the Golden Gate Bridge had yet to be built. I liked that a lot, but my favorite part is the ending which culminates in the reason why there is less magic in the world today. I give this story a 3.5 stars. It has a fabulous setting and I enjoyed the read. It’s a perfect book for readers who enjoy “modern-ish” fantasy containing “those people”....more
I tried four times to get into this story but this romantic paranormal novel was not something I connected with. The writing is good but for me thereI tried four times to get into this story but this romantic paranormal novel was not something I connected with. The writing is good but for me there was no anchor in the story for the setting, or characters - so I felt lost.
However - I know many readers will enjoy it. I would say it has an unusual "stream of consciousness" style.
For those interested it is currently available at B&N for the Nook at .99 cents, and still may be available on Net Galley for review. The second in this series is soon to be or has recently been released.
A well written, intelligent paranormal novel with a very sexy thread. All set within a modern world, inclOriginal review posted on Layers of Thought.
A well written, intelligent paranormal novel with a very sexy thread. All set within a modern world, including a special kind of “werewolf” - a changeling.
About: When Zoey moves to the Canadian countryside to escape city life she is hoping to find peace and healing. As a reporter with a gift of psychic insight she was devastated at not being able to help the victims of the tragedies that she wrote about. However, the change she sought with this move to a small town turned out to have a bit more excitement than she planned.
As the story opens she inadvertently meets handsome and down to earth local veterinarian Connor McLeod, as he rescues her during an ice storm. She is precariously fighting off the attack of a very BIG wolf. Stranded on top of her funky truck, in her attempt to survive she is bitten; a sentence which could lead to a “change” at the next full moon - but not if Connor can help it.
Thoughts: I’m not a big romance reader; I am however exploring speculative fiction. So in an attempt to explore all bases including paranormal romance, I chose Changeling Moon. I am glad since I enjoyed it. Quite a lot actually. It’s a story that is not all “love, fluff, and dreamy stuff” – what I generally don’t like about some romance. There are some intense and horrific scenes, with light cursing and more than a few very sexy scenes – which I would define as erotic. So readers that are looking for a “clean read” should be aware, but in contrast and for my tastes its swearing and gore were not blatant, misplaced or overdone. The sex was interesting and creative versus silly, boring, or just plain hilarious – a big plus; as the latter is another peeve of mine.
The story has an interesting paranormal creature – the changeling; which according to the story are like werewolves. However, they are not constrained to having to turn “animal” at every full moon. They can change at will while still retaining their mental and human clarity, allowing them control in contrast to the classic werewolf. It’s an interesting combination which I am unfamiliar with as I have read very little about werewolves in the past.
Author Dani Harper is a reporter turned novelist, which is perhaps why her main character Zoey feel very realistic. This experience also adds clarity and truism to the book around the reporting done in the novel - which gives the story a bit of needed depth. It is clear that Changeling Moon has benefited from the author’s writing experience.
I can’t say one thing bad about this novel. It was great for an escape; in a genre where one can be assured that there will be a happy ending and which readers expect. The next in the series is now sitting on my nightstand for a needed break from some of the “heavier” novels I have recently read and will be reading soon. At 4 stars – it is an intelligent and entertaining story, recommend for anyone wanting a romantic, thrilling and sexy read....more
A concise, easy to read guide for any one who is considering facial plastic surgery and procedures that goOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A concise, easy to read guide for any one who is considering facial plastic surgery and procedures that go beyond a monthly facial. If you are considering it, this is a helpful place to start.
Definitely not a normal read for me in recent years – I have been mired in fiction (mostly speculative). I decided to take a look at Fabulous Faces because I am an Aesthetician (a professional skin care practitioner – facials, waxing, makeup artistry) which makes me naturally interested in medical procedures and other efforts to look one’s best.
In years past, and within my skin care practices, I would come into contact with many people who would ask me questions about advanced skin resurfacing procedures and fillers and plastic surgery. I have also had the experiences of seeing many clients through their process– getting the real life before and after both visually and verbally. Most have been extremely happy with the results of their decisions. It is an exciting and scary choice, one which most people do not take lightly, so they are often looking for further information from a trusted source. This book is an example of one such example as it is written by an M.D. who specializes in facial, head, and neck plastic surgery.
The format for this accessible book includes short easy to digest chapters. It is concise, well organized, and informative, with real life questions around the feelings of people considering or wanting facial plastic surgery, as well as personal stories from men and women during their processes. The text moves from wondering, to researching options, the inevitable emotional examination, the procedure itself and, most importantly, the results. Dr. Adamson also includes a section on advance skin procedures - like deeper peels using lasers, CO2, and medical grade acids; as well as fillers and Botox.
I recommend it to anyone who is considering facial plastic surgery as a place to begin. It will help one to feel informed when speaking to a surgeon about the available options that he/she may be discussing with you. Most importantly, you’ll know more about what you can expect throughout the process, and then of course the possible results. 4 stars for this great little book written for the layman wanting to know more about facial plastic surgery and related procedures.
Peter A. Adamson M.D. is a plastic surgeon and Otolaryngologist (face, head, and neck specialist).
I have received this book via the publicist in exchange for my honest opinion, which is offered here. ...more
A literary coming of age tale that catalogs a historical journey of a sailing ship’s trip to the South SeaOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A literary coming of age tale that catalogs a historical journey of a sailing ship’s trip to the South Seas. Set in Victorian times, and told in first person by its main protagonist, a boy called Jaffy, the ship voyages to exotic isles to capture wild animals. When the ship becomes lost at sea, the story addresses some of the darkest aspects of human need and survival.
About: Jaffy Brown, is a street urchin who lives in London with his working class mother. His adventures start when he accidently attains star-like status due to being taken up by a lion in its jowls, and surviving. So he is offered a job working for the man named Jamrach (an exotic animal dealer) because it is now believed he possess powers with wild animals. When later he is given the opportunity to travel on a whaling ship to the South Seas in order to capture more animals for Jamrach’s Menagerie, one of which is a “dragon”, Jaffy jumps at the chance.
A mistake aboard the ship creates a catastrophe and what’s left of the crew are forced upon two much smaller boats. Fending for themselves on the open sea for an extended period of time, it’s here where the nightmarish adventures begin and the reader gets a glimpse into the darkest and most sacrificing aspects of human nature and what men may and must do to survive.
Thoughts: Listened to in audio, this book has meandering and lovely language. The smooth voice from the reader also lends to the story telling. Although it’s often long winded, it’s done in a calm and English accented voice. Where the reader varies his accents well for each of the diverse characters. I would say that the audio for the book is well done.
Definitely a literary tale with some horrific aspects, where men are left to survive with little sustenance on the open sea, leaving some room for delusional experiences due to lack of water and food and with nothing but sea and sun for months. Because of this, and the characters’ natural descent into madness, the book has been designated fantasy. For me I am not sure I would classify it as fantastical.
I enjoyed this story, and at times felt like I was actually traveling to the ports, Islands and countries of the South Seas. However, the entire novel did not capture me completely, since I kept waiting for the author to get on with the story line. Also the horrific scenes went on more than I felt was needed. In the end, beyond my personal preferences, I think that many readers will enjoy this book. I recommend it for literary fiction lovers, those who are interested in settings within the Victorian era, readers who want to travel vicariously to foreign areas on a sailing ship, and those who enjoy descriptive language. I give this book a 3 star. ...more
A purportedly true, but billed as fiction, tale of a young man’s harrowing travels outOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
3.5 stars actually.
A purportedly true, but billed as fiction, tale of a young man’s harrowing travels out of Afghanistan into various countries. Struggling as an illegal immigrant he eventually obtains political asylum in Italy.
About: Enaiat wakes up one morning to find his mother has abandoned him in Pakistan, after their small family’s flight from their home village in Afghanistan. Their village had been overtaken by the Taliban, who believe that Enaiat’s people have no value and treat them as such.
His mother, forced to leave her son for her survival, advises him on how to behave while he is asleep as she departs. So begins this young boy’s travels to many different countries where he is all but accepted. He finds that there are crocodiles not only in the sea but almost everywhere, with the title referencing an attempt to cross the Mediterranean in a too small rubber dingy to find relative safety. This is Enaiat’s amazing tale as he tries to find a home, sustenance and survival.
Thoughts: A short and engrossing novel at only 224 pages, it’s been translated from Italian to English. Author Fabio Ceda tells Enaiat’s story to the reader from the boy’s perspective – in the first person with occasional interjections and questions for the boy by the author. Due to the nature of memory and the lack of concrete evidence to support a factual book, the story has been designated fiction.
I listened to the book in audio and found it was hard to put down. I couldn’t stop rooting for Enaiat while admiring his ability to get by in the most horrific circumstances. This is my favorite kind of narrator – one who overcomes the odds no matter how difficult the situation, and Enaiat’s experiences where at times terrifying.
This book is a testament to the human spirit and the will to not only survive but to thrive no matter the situation. Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in the Middle East and particularly Afghanistan. It’s a 3.5 star read in my opinion and is also done well in audio. Recommended for adults but especially teens....more
An incredible collection of short stories, novelettes, one novella, poetry and more -rOriginal and a more complete review posted at Layers of Thought.
An incredible collection of short stories, novelettes, one novella, poetry and more -representing the best in the science fiction and fantasy field published in 2009. All chosen by peers from the SFWA –Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
In summary: I enjoyed every story in this great anthology, one of which is the best short stories I have ever read. Yep, it was that good. Subjective star ratings are shown for each individual work. I encourage you to read these yourself as they are an exciting bunch for anyone interested in SFF (and horror since there are many threads within this selection). Overall, I give this book a rare 5 stars.
Short Stories ~ (under 7,500 words):
“Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” by Saladin Ahmed ~ An exotic story set in old Iran where a Sultan’s physician is sent into a dusty rural area as punishment because of his directness (he confronted the king, opposing the marriage of his lover to an old rich man.) During his exile he is called to cure a hermit’s wife, who has a startling affliction. Purported to be a witch, she is in fact more. With descriptive language and light insight into some of daily practices from Muslim culture, I re-told this great tale to John over Persian food the subsequent evening. Delicious and entertaining at 4.5 stars.I remember the future2
“I Remember the Future” by Michael A. Burstein ~ An aging and dying science fiction author deals with the anger and angst from his daughter from his slights and perceived neglect toward her over the years. As he descends into a happy madness, there was a tear inducing ending. 5 stars.
Non-Zero Probabilities” by N. K. Jemisin ~ A down to earth and intelligent story, that is a “walk around” New York. It has a creative, fantastical, and magical link into a probability of sorts. It made me giggle and blush too. 4 stars.
“Going Deep” by James Patrick Kelly ~ A science fiction story whose main character is a tween girl. Living on a dying space center this girl’s genetic heritage is determined as – “space traveler”. The last in this “retired” collection, it is a relatable tale which accesses the psyche of the main character in an amazing way. A terrific story, which I want to read more of. It’s a 4.5 stars in my opinion.
“Bridesicle” by Will McIntosh ~ Horror, science fiction, and humor mesh in this story, where attractive dead women are frozen for reanimation and can be revived for dating and marriage purposes. Darkly hilarious and an incredible idea, this tale gave me “giggle tears”. I laughed till I cried at 4.5 stars.
Winner: “Spar” by Kij Johnson ~ A dark, horrific, and erotic science fiction short that includes an amorphous non-human alien. Not for the faint of heart or stomach. This story deserves 4 stars.
SFWA Author Emeritus – Neal Barrett, Jr. ~ “Getting Dark” ~ A southern story of sorts where the female narrator is haunting or being haunted - perhaps both? This is surreal and earthy, with a dark and sexual thread told in an authentic female voice. I give it 4 stars.
Novelette ~ (over 7,500 and under 17,500 words):
“The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi ~ Set in the future, a Laos refugee escapes his deteriorating country for the US only to find that his idealism does not work here - within the ever increasing thrill and monetary seeking society that the US has become. With an environmental thread - apparently one of this author’s major themes; this is an incredible story with interesting and sensitive cultural insight. It’s definitely a 5 stars.
“Vinegar Peace” by Michael Bishop ~ An emotional and convoluted story about orphaned parents - designated as such and put to pasture when they loose their children in death. Set in the future it is difficult, full of angst, and has a hallucination-like feel to it as it is often a natural consequence from a severe loss. Its is a 4 stars in my opinion.
“I Needs Must Part, the Policeman Said” by Richard Bowes ~ A dying man is brought into a hospital and falls into various dream like states around his life and the experiences of his friends; many ill like himself from Aids-related complications. I laughed, cried and just loved this incredible story. I’m now a serious fan; this is a 5 star from an incredibly sensitive and insightful author.
“Divining Light” by Ted Kosmatka ~ Every once in a while you read something that just “blows you away”. That is the case with this story – consequently it is my favorite from the collection. It goes beyond any of my expectation and includes elements from several of my preferred genre mixes - horror, science fiction and an encompassing “meaning of life” thread. In my opinion it’s an impossible 5.5 stars. a memory of wind
“A Memory of Wind” by Rachel Swirsky ~ Reviewed by me in another post - linked via the title. It is based upon Iphigenia and set in ancient Greece. I gave it 4 stars.
Winner: “ Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest: Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” By Eugie Foster ~ In this consciousness-bending story – described as a “dystopian” tale - identity is a key element. The individuals of this society are required to wear masks imbued with different drugs/hormones which change daily. There is an element of blending of genders so the story will be classified as GLBT; it also contains a horrific thread. I enjoyed this phantasmagorical story at 4 stars.
Damon Knight Grand Master - Joe Haldeman ~ “A !Tangled Web” ~ An excellent science fiction short which tells the tale of a business deal made between humans and aliens on a planet other than earth. The aliens have an interesting physiology and language, and a method of self-depreciation which is beyond western behaviors. Because of this it’s a darkly funny short with an intriguing alien, written by an author who is rightly honored as a Grand Master in the field. This is my first story by him at 4.5 stars.
Rhysling Awards (poetry):
“Song for an Ancient City” by Amal El-Mohtar ~ Is about a magical ancientthe women of nell gymme's city; a short and lovely poem.
“Search” and “Fireflies” by Geoffrey A. Landis ~ The first poem speaks of a hope in finding other life forms in the stars; the other compares fireflies and the stars.
I enjoyed all three at 4 stars each.
A bundle of highly recommended stories from this “cream of the crop” collection. This was a tough one to complete. How do you review an anthology such as this? I am thinking maybe I should start working on the 2010 winners and nominees since maybe I will be fortunate enough to receive next year’s copy of the Showcase. One can dream....more