I so enjoyed this book. Here's the thing: it's a modern-day fairy tale for those of use who grew up loving *and* hating fairy tales. I loved reading aI so enjoyed this book. Here's the thing: it's a modern-day fairy tale for those of use who grew up loving *and* hating fairy tales. I loved reading about the princesses and princes and their trials and tribulations, and I loved reading about creatures from other worlds, but I hated everything always being tied in a neat little package. I guess I read the Disney versions of these stories more often than not, but still. Happily ever after always left me wanting more.
Imogen and Marin are two sisters who wind up living next door to the Fae...but these aren't the wish-granting, human-loving kind of Fae. These are the darker ones, the riskier ones, and with an ugly past and a future that looks (at times) to be just as grim, they must turn to each other in order to save the day...or the girl...but not the boy...this isn't *just* a story about boy-meeting-girl, after all. Like the true Grimm fairy tales, Roses and Rot is much more than that.
Great characters, believable motives, and beautiful scenery combine in Roses and Rot to create an unforgettable world and a fun and engaging story....more
Who was your first book-crush when you were a kid?
Mine was Calvin O'Keefe from A Wrinkle In Time. I loved him so hard! He was a ginger! And sweet! HeWho was your first book-crush when you were a kid?
Mine was Calvin O'Keefe from A Wrinkle In Time. I loved him so hard! He was a ginger! And sweet! He took care of Charles Wallace, and loved nerdy Meg.
He was (and still is) a perfect guy.
Since reading A Wrinkle In Time for the first time, I've had many (MANY) other book crushes. Jem in To Kill A Mockingbird. Richie Tozier in It. So many more, I can't even think of them.
Now I have a new one. I trust that the author's wife is going to forgive me for this...
In New Yorked, the debut crime novel of awesome author Rob Hart, we met Ash McKenna, the dude with the girlie name (today's boy named Sue, if you will), as he goes on a drug- and alcohol-fueled violence bender, searching for the killer of the unrequited love of his life. New Yorked was fun. It was a romp through the streets of Lower Manhattan, and Ash himself was....
Well, he was a mess.
I did NOT have a book-crush on the Ash McKenna of New Yorked. Nope. Not at all.
Then I picked up City of Rose, the second book in Hart's series and, well...I sorta fell in love with Ash McKenna.
In a bookish sort of way.
Here's the thing. In City of Rose, Ash has fled his self-destructive ways, seeking new beginnings across the country in Portland, Oregon. Working in a "vegan strip-club" (that is, a strip club that serves only vegan food - how very Portlandia!) as a bouncer, he's self-suppressed. Buttoned up. Opposed to making any sort of connection with any sort of person who could possibly make him smile.
At least until a gorgeous ex-junkie-stripper named Crystal asks for his help in finding her little girl.
Little by little, Ash opens up, becoming human again, but also falling into his violent tendencies. But it's all in the name of saving a little girl! And thus, it becomes so...sweet!
Yes, in this book, somehow violence is endearing.
No, I don't understand it.
But I do love it.
I think what's happening here, really, is that we, as readers, got to see a major change in the author's life. Rob...had a kid. A sweet little baby girl, born during the writing of City of Rose. We get to see his love for his child portrayed through Crystal, sure, but also through Ash himself, giving the characters so many more dimensions than he had in New Yorked.
Now Ash is sometimes tender. He lets Crystal in beyond the brick walls he's built for himself. He goes above and beyond to reunite mother and daughter.
And in the end...he reads a little girl a story, and damn if it doesn't make you want to hug someone.
Now, keep in mind this is still a Rob Hart original. As such it's still snarky. Vicious. Witty. Bloody. Nothing is every quite as it seems, and the other characters are almost as colorful as in New Yorked (though it's hard to top a drag queen drug kingpin). City of Rose kept me turning pages late into the night, and gave me a good excuse to shut out the rest of the world and sit on my back porch and READ.
It's a fun book, about as fun as it gets, and I'll be honest. That Ash. He owns a piece of my heart now, and I really hope he doesn't give it back!
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a little girl, growing up in New Jersey, right across the river from Staten Island. If you went to tA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a little girl, growing up in New Jersey, right across the river from Staten Island. If you went to the small, oily waterfront in my hometown, you could see it. It was right there.
Author Rob Hart grew up on that little (big) island, around the same time as me. The worlds of our youth were, therefore, quite similar. We share memories of New York City in its pre-Rudy Giuliani years, when subways were dark and graffitied. When used hypodermic needles made the Long Island beaches minefields of disease and depravity. When 42nd Street was a mess of hookers, drug dealers, and peep shows.
And you know what?
Rob Hart and I share the same nostalgia for those years.
Yes, yes, I know. New York City is arguably better now. It's safer. It's cleaner. It's a place people move TO, rather than a place they run FROM.
But still. Those years. Those dark, gritty, dirty, filthy, rotten years.
I miss them.
There was something special about the city back then. You could make it as an artist, living off a couple bucks a day, hunkering down in a shitty apartment, eating Ramen and drinking coffee. The city felt more alive then, at least in my memories. It felt like even the streets lived and breathed.
I mean, they certainly smelled, didn't they?
Anyway, I digress. Because the thing is? It was fun (and even a little thrilling) to find this nostalgia for a lost city woven artfully through the pages of Hart's upcoming novel, New Yorked (out June 9, 2015). To find a book that accepts New York City's contemporary status as a haven for hipsters and Starbucks and chain stores, but which does so with righteous indignation.
For Hart's narrator, part-time PI Ash McKenna, inhabits this contemporary Manhattan, frequenting places like Alphabet City (off-limits to child-me, for its dangerous residents and pervasive drug use) and a bar called Apocalypse, while navigating a treacherous road of fedoras and skinny jeans.
And McKenna hates it. He misses those darker, grittier days. He misses the same things I miss.
This was an incredible treat to find in a book. Hart gives my nostalgia words. Images. Sights and smells.
He gives it clout.
He also manages to be one of the few writers I've seen successfully talk about 9/11, about the loss and suffering surrounding that terrible day, without...well, without pissing me off. Because Hart was there, just like I was. He's able to talk about these things because he knows. Hart's experiences lend the entire book an authenticity that a non-native writer would struggle to achieve. Hart's narrator feels authentic because Hart is authentic.
And the New York of Hart's novel is alive.
And that's what it's all about.
New Yorked is a great example of the noir writing. It's part murder-mystery, part scathing look into a community ravaged by addiction and desperation. When Ash McKenna is implicated in the murder of his wishful-thinking-girlfriend, Chell, it becomes his mission to clear his name...and to kill Chell's killer.
Along the way, he runs with a crowd of the most colorful characters I've had the pleasure of reading. With names like Bombay and Tibo, Lunette and The Hipster King (yes, you're supposed to read that with more than a hint of irony), they're diverse in skin color, style, and yes, sexuality. Each character is as well fleshed out, with background and motives and opinions, as Ash McKenna himself. And I love Hart's bravery, taking all these awesomely wild people and mashing them together into one roller-coaster story.
In this day and age in which we hear all about diversity in literature, Hart's not just preaching it: he's writing it.
And that's a hugely important distinction to make.
I loved this book. I read it in about three sittings, which is damn near miraculous for me. Hart's prose is tight and dark. His roads are long and winding. And the final destination keeps you guessing.
It's going to be a few months until Hart's book hits bookshelves everywhere (and I do mean everywhere...though is publisher, Polis Books, is considered a small press, they're doing a lot of things right, including getting their books into bookstores), but I want you to remember this: if you're looking for something exciting in scope, plot, and diversity, you need to read New Yorked by Rob Hart.
So go ahead!What are you waiting for? It's available for pre-order NOW!...more
Ever pick up a book, knowing even before you start that you're destined to love it?
Ever have it exceed even those lofty expectations?
Mort(e) was sentEver pick up a book, knowing even before you start that you're destined to love it?
Ever have it exceed even those lofty expectations?
Mort(e) was sent to me several (many) months back. I'd been chatting with a PR person at SoHo Press about a different book I'd reviewed, and she mentioned Mort(e). "It's about a war...with ants...and sentient house pets..."
Or something like that.
Of course I was all, "Yes! Yes please! Send it! Send it! Send it!"
Because ants? Waging war against humanity? I mean, Them is only my absolute FAVORITE of the 1950s atomic-fear sci-fi flicks. And that's about ants! Giant ants! Giant ants that take over the desert!
So yeah. You had me at ants, SoHo. You had me at ants.
Here's a confession: I read Mort(e) six months ago. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but as it wasn't set to release until January of 2015, I figured: wait until then to write the review.
Writing the review while the material was still fresh in mind was the other, smarter option, but it wasn't the one I chose. Because I also wanted to see if the book would stick with me. If it could make me remember, to wonder, to think about it for months to come. Because that, to me, is the mark of a really good book - a book I'm destined to love and re-read again and again.
Mort(e)....did it. I loved it. And it stuck.
I honestly feel like I read Mort(e) last week. It's stayed very fresh in my mind, coloring the ways I think about animals. The ways I interact with animals. And, most importantly, the ways I behave with my very own dogs and cats.
Because in Mort(e), a giant, mutated, sentient queen ant has decided to wage war on humanity. There are all sorts of complicated reasons for why she does it, and you can learn more by reading the actual book. But the long and the short of it is: she wants revenge.
Somehow, in her all-knowing, all-seeing state, she manages to create a serum that gives self-awareness to animals. It makes them grow, morph, become human-like in all but their original furry faces.
And the animals are pissed off at people.
I mean, think about it. Think about how you really treat your pets. Example: I walk my dog several times a week. He's not so great at "heeling," so I often have to tug on his leash to keep him on track. This pulls on his neck, sometimes jerking him off-balance. All in the name of getting him to behave.
When I leave the house, I put him in a crate - a box - to keep him out of trouble. I control when and what he eats. When he goes outside. I control everything.
And I'm a nice dog owner! Those are things a nice dog owner does!
Imagine what the mean ones do!
So it makes perfect sense to me that the animals, once sentient, rise up against the humans, killing the literal hands that fed them.
At least until Mort(e) comes along.
Mort(e) is a cat. He had decent owners that never really did anything too terrible to him. He managed to not kill them in his initial state of heightened awareness...mainly because Mort(e) loves Sheba.
Sheba is a dog, a neighbor's dog, and she disappears almost as soon as Mort(e) becomes self-aware. His life becomes a mission to find her.
Along the way, he becomes a soldier, a killer, a rescuer, and he uncovers a plot....
Never mind. You don't want to know. You're going to want to find out for yourself.
Repino is a fun writer. His prose is tight and focused, and his humor is black as night. He makes an obese, undulating queen ant seem almost sympathetic, until you care what happens to her almost as much as you care about what happens to the cat who wants to save the world.
Two weeks ago, I was asked to submit my favorite books of 2014 to the LitReactor staff picks...I wanted to put Mort(e) on that list. I loved it that much. Too bad it wasn't actually released yet.
I think I need to re-read it in the new year, mainly so I can put it on my 2015 lists. Because this book is that fun. That entertaining. That much of a ride.
So you, you sci-fi fans, you animal-fans, you book fans - you should read it too! ...more
This is a fun romp through a future-world. It speaks the language of programmers and coders everywhere, and is highly accessible. I love Scalzi, and tThis is a fun romp through a future-world. It speaks the language of programmers and coders everywhere, and is highly accessible. I love Scalzi, and this is a great addition to his (and my) library....more
I've had an advance copy on my Kindle for a while now, and it's....amazing. So good. Chock full of writers I admire, some of whom I'm lucky enough to I've had an advance copy on my Kindle for a while now, and it's....amazing. So good. Chock full of writers I admire, some of whom I'm lucky enough to know. The stories all fall under the loose category of "neo noir," or, "new black." They're dark. They're heady. They're they kind of stories that will reach inside, yank out your heart like Mola-Ram, and then they'll stomp all over it.
They're that good.
Noir heavyweights like Stephen Graham Jones and Craig Clevenger grace the pages of The New Black. So do newcomers like Rebecca Jones-Howe, whose writing is so damn fresh and enticing and heartbreaking you'll regret reading her....for ten minutes, before you come back for more. If you want to hear more about each of the authors included in the anthology, read Richard Thomas's intro: he's grown to know all his writers. He admires and respects them, and he's not afraid to tell you why.
That's the kind of editor Thomas is.
I'm still reading my way through this anthology. I have to take my time with it. I have to take breaks, to come up for air. I have to come back into the light from time to time.
Thomas does a fabulous job arranging the stories so each has its moment to shine, framed by other tales so different and yet so intrinsically alike it's hard to imagine one without the other. It's the kind of anthology that begs to be enjoyed, to be read with a glass of dark red wine and a bit of quiet jazz in the background. Or maybe, for some stories, you'll want to switch to 80s punk, or the theme music to Halloween.
It's that kind of anthology. You don't want to read it all in one sitting. You want these stories to stick with you for as long as possible. You want to hope, for as long as possible, that everything will come out okay in the end.
But I'll give you a hint: the anthology isn't called The New Black for no reason. Most of the time, things won't turn out okay in the end.
Perhaps the Forward by award-winning writer Laird Barron says it best: "Rules are out the window, the physics of morality, ethics, and fair play smashed to powder and in the wind. Reality is on a permanent vacation. The universe is more about guidelines in sand, passwords that are randomly overwritten, splinter cells and half-enunciated shibboleths."