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review 2018-08-04 02:25
Mara Dyer meets The Wicked Deep in this deliciously dark haunting
The Dark Beneath The Ice - Amelinda Bérubé

This awesome debut blends the best of paranormal and psychological horror for a fresh contemporary horror read.

 

Full disclosure: I received an unsolicited paperback ARC.

 

I don't know what's in the water right now, but the Canadian horror mojo is strong with this year's debuts, and Amelinda Bérubé's flawless The Dark Beneath the Ice is no exception. I loved the character detail and how drama with family and friends and the childhood and parental goals crumbling under the pressure of nearing adulthood all fed into a really well-fleshed out main character and story world. Bonus points: it's set in Canada (Ottawa).

The MC trained as a fairly competitive ballet dancer, but no longer dances by the start of this story. Finding out why is one source of mystery. I don't care one way or another about ballet, so it was interesting how much the author made of this detail and how interesting it ended up being. Definitely some telling details to watch out for!

 

The other big mystery is a haunting that starts out slow and requires some sleuthing on the part of the MC and her newfound goth-girl friend. Good progression from eerie nightmares to full-on traumatic haunting, with nice touches of how realistic encounters with paranormal stuff like psychics and readings might happen in an essentially non-magical world.

 

So I don't think it makes it into most blurbs, but there is a f/f romance subplot. It's fairly slow-burn, and possibly bi? I'm kind of ambivalent on romance subplots personally, but I know it's a genre convention in lots of YA so heads-up; it's there if you want it, and if you don't, it's not overdone at all. Would love to see more stories about the power of nonromantic love, friendship, family, character etc. helping to overcome monsters, but that's neither here nor there; Bérubé does a great job keeping the story balanced and on trend.

 

This is a great read as we head into fall and Halloween. Hauntings, drownings, and possible madness, what's not to enjoy? Good for fans of the Mara Dyer series, Anna Dressed in Blood, and The Wicked Deep. Definitely grab a copy!

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review 2018-05-30 16:04
A Fatal Grace / Louise Penny
A Fatal Grace - Louise Penny

Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.
No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.
When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he's dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder—or brilliant enough to succeed?

 

My second Armand Gamache book, and I’m still very impressed with Penny’s abilities. I really like Gamache as a character—he’s easy to identify with. As a reader, I was happy to see him succeed in his investigation.

Just like Agatha Christie, Penny has chosen a small community as her setting. A place where people know each other well enough to make a plot line like this one work. Solving this crime in a big city would be a much different proposition, much more difficult. Part of the charm in these books is the way that the townspeople interact among themselves and their acceptance of Gamache.

I had a few frustrations that had nothing to do with the writing! Pages were missing from the library copy that I borrowed, 2 pages from the middle of the book, and the last 3 pages were gone. By that point, the killer and their motive were already revealed, so I just missed the denouement, but it was most annoying. Being a series, there are ongoing concerns that I can only imagine were addressed in the dying paragraphs of the book. I am assured, however, that Penny makes everything clear in each volume, so I have no doubt I’ll be able to pick up book 3 and still be able to appreciate what’s going on.

So, adieu for now, Armand Gamache. I’ll see you later.

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text 2018-05-24 15:06
Reading progress update: I've read 234 out of 416 pages.
A Fatal Grace - Louise Penny

OMG, it was difficult to set this book down last night!

 

I spent a couple of hours in the evening with a friend and her big lovable oaf of a dog.  She works for a Guide Dog charity and they are collecting clothing, suitcases, bedding, towels, etc. for an enormous garage sale to raise money for the organization.  I packed an huge, heavy suitcase with clothing.  Then I emptied out the bottom of my coat closet--a garbage bag of shoes!  Looking around, I saw my mom's cedar chest--with a thick coating of dust on it.  Hmmm....I can't be using whatever's in there!  Three more garbage bags of sheets, towels, blankets.  The cedar chest is empty now and I feel like I've had a weight lifted off me.

 

I highly recommend a good purge to make life look a little brighter!

 

But when I got home from my delivery mission, I had to have another visit with Inspector Gamache, and it ran a little late.  *Yawn*

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review 2018-05-10 18:31
Brilliant
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus - Margaret Atwood,Laural Merlington
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood

Irreverent, insightful, funny, deeply humane and empathetic.

 

The myth of Odysseus is one of my favorite parts of Greek mythology: in telling it from the perspective of Penelope -- with a good bit about Penelope's childhood and youth, and her and Odysseus's marriage thrown in for good measure, as well as with her 12 slain maids acting as a very Greek chorus -- Atwood turns it inside out, gives it a feminist spin, and puts it together again in her very own way.  And Laurel Merlington's narration is sheer genius ... if you're into Greek mythology and audiobooks, get the audio version now.  (If you're not into audiobooks but into Greek mythology, still get the edition of your choice.)

 

Absolutely loved every second of it.

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review 2018-04-18 15:40
Corvus / Harold Johnson
Corvus - Harold Johnson

Eighty years have passed since flash floods, droughts, and tornadoes ravaged the North American landscape and mass migrations to the north led to decade-long wars. In the thriving city of La Ronge, George Taylor and Lenore Hanson are lawyers who rarely interact with members of the lower classes from the impoverished suburb of Regis and the independently thriving Ashram outside the city. They live in a world of personalized Platforms, self-driving cars, and cutting edge Organic Recreational Vehicles (ORVs), where gamers need never leave their virtual realities.

When Lenore befriends political dissenter and fellow war veteran Richard Warner, and George accidentally crash-lands his ORV near the mountain-sheltered haven of a First Nations community, they become exposed to new ways of thinking. As the lives of these near-strangers become intertwined, each is forced to confront the past before their relationships and lives unravel.

 

The author of this book will be coming to the annual When Words Collide conference here in Calgary in August. I try to read at least one book by each of the guests of honour before the conference and since I am a birder, how could I resist a book called Corvus?

I really enjoyed the book—Mr. Johnson is a talented writer. I loved how many threads he managed to weave into this story, everything from Aboriginal issues to climate change to poverty issues. He also painted an intriguing and rather grim view of the future. I loved his Organic Recreational Vehicles, developed from birds—swans, ravens, hawks, etc. One of the main characters, George Taylor, purchases a Raven ORV and true to Raven’s mischievous nature in Aboriginal tradition, George is taken on some unexpected adventures.

Some of Johnson’s themes are really overt—there are a couple of places where I was dismayed with the bludgeoning of the reader with his opinions (even though I agree with them). That prevented this from being a higher rated read for me—your mileage may vary.

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