Gastien (Part 1: The Cost of the Dream) is an interesting novel, a blend of history, sex and artistic dreams. It is an illustrative glimpse into a pas...moreGastien (Part 1: The Cost of the Dream) is an interesting novel, a blend of history, sex and artistic dreams. It is an illustrative glimpse into a past world decorated with steamy sex and colour.
Set in 19th century France, book tells the beginning of Gastien’s story, a French peasant who wants to be an artist. It details his abusive childhood, his escape to Paris, new friendships and sexual relationships, and the suffering he endures to fulfill his aspirations.
The novel’s strength is in its main character, a well-written and relatable persona. You do feel for his trials and get a good sense of his personality when reading, as well as engage with his life. Plus, the author did an excellent job with the details of an artist’s existence in the time period and the details of painting and technique; I found them realistic. There are some nice historic particulars, too, and the sex scenes are vividly portrayed.
However, the novel does have its problems. I found the prose did get repetitive at times, the plot to be stretched a bit thin, and the story lagged in the middle of the book. Some of the characterization (other than Gastien) is a bit one-dimensional, especially with secondary characters and I found much of the dialogue peppered with too many modern phrases such as “okay” and “gig”. These words detracted from the historic feel of the book for me and I felt the characters’ speech was at odds with the setting. The author also had the occasional tendency for explanative narrative regarding Gastien’s state of mind which I found unnecessary and distracting.
Overall though, I did enjoy the book, so I give it a mild recommendation, though readers should be warned this novel is quite explicit in the portrayal of sex and abuse. (less)
The second book in the Mac Faraday mystery series, Old Loves Die Hard is just as enjoyable as the first. It is another satisfying murder mystery chock...moreThe second book in the Mac Faraday mystery series, Old Loves Die Hard is just as enjoyable as the first. It is another satisfying murder mystery chock full of fascinating characters.
This time around, Mac Faraday’s ex-wife comes calling, bringing a lot of old baggage and some dead bodies, including hers. Mac becomes a suspect in his ex-wife’s murder, but ends up investigating the killing. He delves into his past, both personal and professional, to find answers and the killer.
The charm of the first book remains consistent in Old Loves Die Hard, with its compelling main character the strongest asset of the novel. The author provides a nice bit of character development as well, in both the ongoing relationship between Mac and Archie and insight into his previous marriage. The well-rounded characterization is astutely managed.
The plot is solid as well, spinning several threads and then pulling them into a nice tight conclusion. Several suspects are juggled nicely until the final reveal, which provides an interesting, and fateful denouement.
Overall, I can recommend Old Loves Die Hard, as a gratifying murder mystery and a great read. (less)
Abattoir in the Aether by L. Joseph Shosty is very fine sci-fi space adventure, served up in a smart steampunk style. It was an enjoyable read, a love...moreAbattoir in the Aether by L. Joseph Shosty is very fine sci-fi space adventure, served up in a smart steampunk style. It was an enjoyable read, a lovely mix of fantasy, steampunk and science fiction blended to distinction.
The book is the fourth in the Space: 1889 & Beyond series,(each book penned by a different author), but is written so you can read it as a stand-alone book (although after reading this one, I am quite curious about the rest of the series). It continues the adventures of Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset -beginning with the rescue of their crippled space flyer- as they become the slightly unwilling guests on a heliograph station in solar orbit between Earth and Mars. The pair must unearth the sinister secrets of this place, before they, the station and all its inhabitants are sucked into an aether space vortex.
I thoroughly delighted in reading this book. The author took anachronistic history and Victorian science fiction and created a fascinating and full-blown steampunk setting that makes its own perfect fictional bubble of reality. Add to that some wonderfully interesting characters, very Victorian villains, a well-rendered plot full of nice twists and a great ending, you have a splendid novel. I highly recommend Abattoir in the Aether to any fans of steampunk, or anyone who likes a great read. (less)
I love a good ghost story, and The Lunenburg Werewolf: And Other Stories of the Supernatural by Steve Vernon is full of exceptionally good ghost stori...moreI love a good ghost story, and The Lunenburg Werewolf: And Other Stories of the Supernatural by Steve Vernon is full of exceptionally good ghost stories, plus fabulous tales of monsters, pirate gold, fairy folk, demons and devils. It’s positively oozing those “creepy tales to tell around the campfire” and the “keep the lights on while you read” scary moments, yet it still maintains a black and whimsical sense of humour.
The book is darkly delightful. My fellow Nova Scotian, Steve Vernon, has collected an odd assortment of horrific tales, from the far corners of our fair province of Nova Scotia, and woven them into a first-rate and entertaining book of folklore. Between the covers you will find the ghostly Lady in Blue, the Phantom Ship of the Northumberland (my favourite ghost story), a Phantom Artist, a Black Cat that lingered after death, Beasts, Selkies, and of course the aforementioned Lunenburg Werewolf.
The author knows how to spin a satisfying yarn, weaving fact, history and folklore into a compelling read. Be the tales truth, fiction or a little bit of both, The Lunenburg Werewolf may leave you believing in ghosts. Or at least loving their stories. I can give The Lunenburg Werewolf: And Other Stories of the Supernatural a high recommendation; just be sure to leave all the lights on when you read it.
You, Fascinating You by Germaine Shames is a graceful, haunting book that brings its small part of history to life vividly. As a reader you find yours...moreYou, Fascinating You by Germaine Shames is a graceful, haunting book that brings its small part of history to life vividly. As a reader you find yourself immersed in a world full of happiness, sadness and looming terror perfectly realised on the page.
The book is a fictionalized account of the lives of Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf and Italian composer Pasquale Frustaci aka “the Italian Cole Porter”. You, Fascinating You breathes soul into their life story, amidst the European setting before, during and after WWII.
The author has done a magnificent job recreating the era for her book, with not only place and facts, but with mood, language and emotion. From the first page you feel as if you are there, in Hungary, in Italy, peering into the lives of these people. I was captivated by the story, how the two main characters interacted, the choices they made and how their lives and their futures were swept into and changed by events beyond their control. It’s a book overflowing with love, sorrow, loss and perseverance.
I much as I enjoyed it however, once or twice the author’s choices in book structure bothered me. She rightly focused on certain events and years and skipped over some others, which gave the book an interesting surreal touch, especially near the end. But I found, where in most instances that added to the pleasure in reading, on a couple of occasions it fell flat for me. Overall though, I highly recommend, You, Fascinating You. (less)
I liked reading Rock of Aeons. It unfolded as an entertaining fantasy story with a crime noir feel, and even a dash of paranormal romance.
The book cen...moreI liked reading Rock of Aeons. It unfolded as an entertaining fantasy story with a crime noir feel, and even a dash of paranormal romance.
The book centers on Ozzie, a female bounty hunter chasing a skip named Hank who is more than he seems. Soon her life is full of paranormal creatures, namely mythological Djinn and Angels, and she is smack in the middle of their war looking for a way out alive.
The author does an excellent job with the mythological aspects of the book, grounding them in their origins before putting his own spin on myths and legends. This lends the supernatural nature of the book a legitimate tone and the magic doesn’t seem forced or fake.
I also found the romantic relationship realistic; there were no rushed feelings or artificial interactions. In addition the circumstances that drive the plot flow naturally and the decisions made by the main character seem neither too phony nor too altruistic. The characters all have a slight tinge of ambiguity and there is no overt “good vs. evil”, yet the authors still maintains a clear separation of “good guys and bad guys”.
Altogether I found Rock of Aeons to be well-written, nicely plotted and I recommend it as a book worth reading.(less)