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review 2017-10-07 17:13
The Hospital ★★★★☆
The Hospital - Keith C. Blackmore,R. C. Bray

Zombies are my least favorite horror sub-genre. Ridiculous as this sounds, I just can’t suspend disbelief with all the biological impossibilities. But this short story was really good in spite of that, mostly for its unusual twist, and for the little flash of post-apocalyptic humor when the protagonist comes across a supply room full of toilet paper.

 

Audiobook, which I picked up as a freebie on Audible ages ago and am just now getting around to. RC Bray’s performance was okay, using a sort of classic noir deadpan approach.

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review 2017-06-23 16:00
On Canaan’s Side ★★★☆☆
On Canaan's Side - Sebastian Barry

I had a lot I wanted to say about this book, as I had just finished it, but then I got into a long, work-related conversation with a colleague, and now I find my brain mostly empty of thoughts where this book is concerned. That, perhaps, is a good indicator of how deeply affected I was by it. Mostly how I felt, by the end, was as though I was covered in a heavy smothering blanket of depression. Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps that was the author’s goal in writing this book. When I read “literary” novels, this seems to be how I most often feel, with the second most common emotion being impatient annoyance. The latter is most common in the ones that I’m not even able to finish reading.

 

On Canaan’s Side seems to be about grief and loss and the pointlessness of actually making human connections in life, when at the end everybody you loved is gone or has betrayed you in some way. There is some beautiful language and gorgeous descriptions of setting and emotions. The author chose to express some of these in stream-of-consciousness style of run-on sentences that literally went on as long as 1 ½ pages of text. Fortunately, these were mostly confined to the first and last few chapters, with the middle third of the book written in a snappier style that moved the plot and story (such as it was) along in a more tolerable fashion.

 

When I was a teenager, we had a saying that encompassed all the angst of that age: “Life’s a bitch, and then you die”. That’s pretty much how I felt by the end of this book.

 

Hardcover version, purchased as a circulation discard from a Friends of the Library sale. I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoloy challenge, for the square Trains, Planes, & Automobiles 14: Read a book that involves overseas travel, or that has a suitcase on the cover.  There is a brief description of the main character’s overseas journey from Ireland to America, and two other characters journey overseas for the Vietnam and Gulf wars.

 

Previous Updates:

6/29/17 182/272 pg

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text 2017-06-19 14:18
On Canaan's Side: 182/272 pg
On Canaan's Side - Sebastian Barry

Finally, the pace is starting to pick up. I'm starting to think I'll never be done with this book.

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review 2017-02-26 23:18
Search the Shadows ★★★★☆
Search the Shadows - Barbara Michaels

Amazingly, this is the first Barbara Michaels I’ve ever read. It was a good page-turner, and the mystery was satisfyingly atmospheric in its gothicness and twisty with its misdirection. The romance, however, felt sort of tacked-on at the end. I was pleased to have a romance with an intentionally unlikeable heroine, for a change. She’s rude and selfish, snide towards all other women, and feels very little sense of guilt over neglecting her relations. She also does not hesitate to use any tools available to her to achieve her own ends, including people. But of course, she is also beautiful and unaware of it, feeling that her dark coloring makes her unattractive in comparison to her fair-skinned and fair-haired mother. This makes pretty much every man she encounters willing to

literally

(spoiler show)

walk over fire to help her.

 

I read this for the 2017 Romance Bingo. It fits the Gothic Romance square, as it has most of the elements of gothic literature, except the usual supernatural one, if you discount several characters who seem to have almost psychic thought connection or leaps of intuition. 

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review 2016-11-19 17:07
The Shadow Wife ★★☆☆☆
The Shadow Wife - Dorothy Eden

This hilariously bad book gets two stars only because I was too curious about the ending to DNF it. Written in 1967, it is terribly dated in its gender roles and sexual attitudes. It takes the form of a woman’s recollection of terrible events that befell her a few years earlier when she met a rich, handsome, romantic stranger and was so desperate to avoid being a pathetic old maid at the age of 26 that she demanded he marry her rather than just engaging in a love affair. After all, she was already damaged goods from an earlier love affair where (gasp) her lover had refused to marry her after stringing her along. From all her dark hints, I expected that she’d been imprisoned and tortured in the dungeons. It turned out, however, that  

he’d pretended to marry her in a sham wedding, then acted like she had hallucinated it all when she miscarried in an accident.

(spoiler show)

Then, to make sure you understand what a villain he really is, it turns out that he 

was a Nazi collaborator during the war, which really has nothing whatever to do with the plot.

(spoiler show)

But not to worry, she finds hope of happiness in the end, when 

Otto commits suicide, but she realizes that she really has the hots for his brother, who is actually the marrying sort.

(spoiler show)

 

This book serves as a good moral lesson on the dangers of impulsive commitments, not because of the heroine’s sufferings, but because I picked it up on impulse from my library’s donation gimmie shelves. And oh boy, did I pay for it.

 

I read this book for Task the Second: The Silent Nights (Read a book set in one of the Nordic countries, where winter nights are long!) in the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season challenge. Although it takes place across several countries, the bulk of the action is in Denmark, and in Otto’s home manor house castle on the island of Samsø, and is in the spring, where apparently, the days are very long instead of the long winter nights.

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