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Search tags: The-Woods-Are-Dark
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review 2018-10-16 04:18
Truly Devious for Baker Street Irregulars
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

This is weird and why I consider my own ratings to be bunk: In June I picked this up read the first chapter and abandoned it. Just wasn't what I felt like reading. But it was on the list for Baker Street Irregulars, and I usually like Johnson, so...and I made it to the second chapter and then I was reluctant to put it down. Loved it. So Gothic romance and Nancy Drew and Sherlock and a boarding school too. Nom nom nom. I liked Stevie even as she exasperated me.

 

 By this time seems like I should be better at telling the difference between Not for Me and Not for Now, but no. Midnight in the Garden was probably the first book I picked for this Bingo, and I gave up entirely. Twenty five or so years ago I loved it. Go figure. 

 

Library copy 

 

 

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review 2018-10-06 14:17
Spill Zone - Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland 
Spill Zone - Scott Westerfeld,Alex Puvilland

I think I have already read this one, but I don't have a record of that, so leave it at maybe. Of course, this one didn't get logged last week when read, because they get knocked out in one quick sitting, then immediately on to the next thing. Volume 2 is out now, so a refresher was necessary. Like Paper Girls and Lumberjanes, strange things are afoot and it could be anything. It is so gratifying to read about girls having adventures just like they are real people. Kudos for Westerfeld who puts female and minority characters front and center, without making it the point. If I can get #2, I'm going to use it for my New Release.

 

Puvilland has different styles and palettes that set off the sheer strangeness of what Poughkeepsie has become. Approaching it from the woods in particular puts me in mind of footage from Chernobyl twenty years later.

 

Library copy 

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review 2018-10-04 23:59
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield  for Deadlands
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield

[10/05/18  Edited to add: I managed to upload a bad picture of my bingo card.]

 

This is such a good book I want to be a better writer to do it justice in my review. Waiting longer for inspiration is just not on though: my memory will let the details blur and the experience fade. 

 

Setterfield is a writer who's greatest flaw is not being prolific. Actually, that may be the only flaw. She has once again crafted a work of fiction that has a convincing Victorian setting with a modern sensibility directing the reader's attention to characters and incidents that a true Victorian wouldn't, but logic suggests that they are all valid. She manages to tell quite a few stories and examples of the craft of storytelling within a greater story of amazing events. While many writers succeed at making a house a character within their fiction, Setterfield has made part of the Thames a character, nor was she stinting in permitting this character moods. Okay, on the winter solstice the usual group are sitting around drinking in the Swan, an inn distinguished by the storytelling within. The door opens, a man, his face a bloody mess staggers in clutching a large doll in his hands.

 

Over the course of one year we watch the repercussions of that moment: how it affects characters major and minor and also, this is the tricksy bit, we watch how those events become stories. Yes, many stories dependent on point of view, and skill, stories becoming more stories as that one event is observed (or not), in light of new events, and then, still later developments. The metaphor is well served: there is an attempt to trace the roots of the story back to the beginning, which you can't do any more than you can trace a river back, fractally there are always more branches feeding in.

 

There is so much: there are clever half-starved orphans, prosperous farmers, the family of innkeepers, the town midwife, the minister, servants and animals, wealthy distillery owners, thieves and blackguards, despite the extensive cast one never feels that the author is coasting by with stereotypes or with every character having the same voice. There is plot and pathos enough for Dickens, and despite the 21st century sensibility there's none of that business of giving a character clearly modern ideas.

 

There is, of course, a supernatural element as well as a few mysteries, dreadful crimes and moments of grace. Everything is here, told my a humanist in the Pratchett vein, but without the jokes and footnotes. It is a lovely, suspenseful book that I couldn't bear to put down in order to post updates. Read it soon: give it to yourself or someone you really like as a gift for one of the several solstice-adjacent holidays. Just the thing for long winter nights by the fire.

 

ARC from publisher

 

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review 2018-09-22 16:36
Hunter's Green - Phyllis A. Whitney for Country House Mystery
Hunter's Green - Phyllis A. Whitney

Would also work for Genre: Suspense, Terrifying Women, Murder Most Foul, Amateur Sleuth, and Romantic Suspense.

 

It's fun reading these old thrillers that are so slow, with hardly any murder, no kids or really old people, and servents neither seen nor heard. They're charmingly predictable. And although this was published in 68 and makes much of the brash young mods, they feel So Old Fashioned. There are phones, but only to ring up the doctor or the police to haul away the perpetrator. There are cars for running up to Town, and low speed pursuit, and explosive crashes. What I love most is that everyone stops at regular intervals to sit down and eat a hot meal. I suppose this is what people are talking about when they reminisce about a slower time. 

 

I did have one great disappointment though: a device was quite deliberately introduced in the first act, but played no subsequent part in the plot. It wasn't even a red herring: it was just never mentioned again.

 

The only disturbing part of the story isn't meant to be:

 

My apologies for my failed spoiler tag. 

 

Library copy 

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review 2018-09-13 00:01
Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King for Modern Masters of Horror
Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King,Owen King

  I enjoyed this enormously. There were some surprises and some poor reading on my part (my earlier race comment was wrongish, because of my failure to notice and/or remember the race of characters, but also kind of accurate given later developments - it's complicated). Anyway, nice work with archetypes and fairy tales and a premise that is clearly fantasy, but also very grounded and concrete. There's a large cast and lots of plot. But also really nuanced and generous, kind even. Stephen has always showed an understanding of and sympathy with abused women, so a whole lot of compassion towards the inmates of a women's prison is no surprise. But there is also a lot of anger, some of it directed at people behaving badly and some of it directed at society for creating and exacerbating iniquity. Dickensian.

 

Good on these two for writing a book that is absolutely entertaining, but more than just entertaining.

 

Good for many squares, and recommended to those who don't care for horror in general.

 

 

Library copy

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