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review 2018-06-03 21:16
A Student of Weather
A Student of Weather - Elizabeth Hay

A Student of Weather was today's choice read to recover from travel, jet lag, and the unpacking and laundry tasks that come with it. 

 

I had high hopes for the novel: It's set during the 1930s in depression-hit dust bowls of Saskatchewan and the New York of the 1960s, and it's by a Canadian author.

 

The last one, the Canadian factor, may have worked against the book. I'm only half kidding. I love Canadian writing. However, I am also reminded of Will and Ian Ferguson's summary of the Canadian literary novel (found in How to be a Canadian):

"Handy tip! Write about a family gathering, a funeral or some sort of homecoming. That's the easiest way to bring characters together without having to construct a plot. And make sure to include the free-spirited sister, the recovering alcoholic brother, the other sister (the one who gave up on her dreams and is married to an abusive and/or aloof man) and - last but not least - the standard-issue abusive and/or aloof father figure. Add to the mix some cryptic dialogue about a past betrayal, maybe a dark secret or two, and half-bake at 40F. Do you see how these things just write themselves?"

The thing is, my assessment of every Canadian novel I have read since the Fergusons' above summary has started with a categorisation: either the book fits the description or it doesn't.

The ones that didn't fit the Fergusons' description were, on the whole, much more enjoyable and interesting reads.

 

Sadly, A Student of Weather fits the above description to a T (except there was no recovering alcoholic brother, tho there was a brother who died early on... I am counting this as half a point.). What is even sadder, is that I could not find any other aspect that made this book compelling or that kept me from skim-reading some parts.  

 

It didn't help that the centre premise of the book is based on a love triangle that features some selfish asshat of a guy and two sisters who fight over his affections (which are always engaged elsewhere and for some reason the sisters just cannot see it)... Ugh.

 

The writing, tho, was very accomplished and I do look forward to trying the other book by Hay on Mt. TBR, Late Nights on Air.

 

Seriously, if that one also has a love triangle in it, I will DNF it faster than than I can type out the book title.

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review 2018-05-01 19:27
Another quick listen...marriage and family gone awry
Rough Weather - Robert B. Parker

Interesting conclusion, I am thinking, to Spenser's relationship with the Gray Man.  A spoiled rich girl's wedding gets ruined when Gray Man comes to shoot her would-be husband and then you find out he is the father who kidnapped his daughter.

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photo 2018-04-20 17:06

This is insane.  We're in April -- and not so long ago, we were still battling winter temperatures. 

 

Well, if previous instances of the same pattern are anything to go by, that means we'd better enjoy these temps right now, because they won't be making much of a reappearance in summer ...

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review 2018-02-12 20:22
Four well written novellas.
Strange Weather: Four Short Novels - Joe Hill

This was a perfect example of a book I would never have read if it hadn't been for a book club - and our fabulous Lit Fest, next month, which Joe Hill will be attending. This is tagged as Science Fiction and Horror, and while I'd not be drawn to Sci Fi, I'd certainly shy away from Horror. Yet, these four novellas, published together under the umbrella title of Strange Weather, were not particularly scary and I found them weirdly interesting.

 

I listened to the audio version, read by four different narrators, Stephen LangWil WheatonDennis Boutsikaris, and Kate Mulgrew, who all do an excellent job.

 

There is a slim connection between three of the stories through weather, but only the 'Rain' seemed to me to be truly connected to the weather. A storm is brewing for 'Loaded' (an anti-gun story - though to begin with I wondered if it was actually pro-gun) and a freak weather pattern presumably caused the cloud in 'Aloft'. I'm not sure how 'Snapshot' is connected though. 

I am left wondering how anyone would dream up such off-the-wall tales. 

 

I think my favourite story was the first one, 'Snapshot', suggesting that every time a photo was taken by The Phoenician, the subject lost a little more of their memory. Relating this to Alzheimer's Disease made for a thoughtful read. I also liked how I found myself gradually grasping what was going on.

'Aloft' was my least favourite, largely because I got a bit confused and had to rewind a few times to clarify what was going on. Maybe it just didn't lend itself so well to audio.

 

All in all an interesting diversion from my usual reads and I look forward to hearing what the author has to say in March.

 

 

 

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review 2018-01-30 15:40
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Strange Weather - Wil Wheaton,Joe Hill,Kate Mulgrew,Stephen Lang,Dennis Boutsikaris

Snapshot is the first story and it’s narrated by Will Wheaton who does a most excellent job.

Set in the 80’s, Strange Weather is the story of a 13 year old boy and his run in with a man he calls “The Phoenician”. The Phoenician is the villain of the tale. He’s ugly, vaguely imposing and possesses a camera that steals memories. 

It’s also a story about aging, and about caring for those who once cared for you. It has some misty eyed moments and just a wee bit of eeriness. It lags pretty badly towards the end though and left me feeling gloomy. 

Loaded is narrated by Stephen Lang who is deadly serious for a deadly serious story.

This dark tale is about guns, hate, prejudice, revenge and the media. I’m going to admit that there are many days that I have to turn off the news because I can’t take in any more of the unending ugliness occurring in the US right now (as I write this there has just been another senseless school shooting that is barely getting any media coverage). This is a story I never would have chosen to spend my free time reading had I known more before going in. I read to escape this true life horror. This story introduces a group of mostly loathsome people who come together in a climax of bloodshed at a shopping mall, taking out a few innocents along the way. In the aftermath, it turns into a story of the stupidity of hero worship and the suspicious reporter who smells something fishy. Though well written, it wasn’t my favorite and I would never read it again.

Aloft is narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris and just like the previous two narrators, he nails it. 

Things go awry for a young man with an extreme fear of heights when he attempts to skydive to fulfill a wish made to a deceased friend and he ends up stranded on a cloud. This story is super imaginative but it also wasn’t my favorite. Something about Aubrey just grated on my last nerve. I don’t know if it was his fearfulness and gaseous emissions in the beginning, his never-ending pining away for a girl who was so not into him or just his personality. At any rate, it was a struggle and it shouldn’t have been. I found his thoughts boring and all we get are his thoughts. Sorry, I’m a jerk. I know this. If you’re going to throw anything my way, make sure it’s a horror book. 

Rain is the final story and, if you ask me, the best in the collection. It is read by Kate Mulgrew who is one of my most favorite of all the narrators in all of the lands. 

So many people seem to loath this story and find it ridiculous (and yeah maybe it is that) but I thought it was heartbreaking and sarcastically funny and Honeysuckle was a character I loved spending time with (unlike that Aubrey fellow) which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. She’s tough and resilient as a spiky rain falls from the sky and reigns terrors on those caught up in it.

I have to say, with the exception of Rain, I found this collection a wee bit unsatisfying.

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