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review 2019-03-27 15:13
Living Dead in Dallas / Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn't enjoy it).
The point is: they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges - and soon Sookie's in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She's supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed.
But that's easier said than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly...


2019 Re-Read

Just as telepath Sookie enjoys resting her mind around Vampire Bill, whose thoughts she can’t hear, I enjoy resting myself in this series that I’ve read and enjoyed before.

I find myself really curious about Charlaine Harris’ writing practices—did she have this series planned out well in advance or did she just sit down at her desk each day to see where the characters took her? Maybe a hybrid somewhere in between? I feel like the general arc of the story must have been laid out in advance, but then some characters (the maenad, for example) just seem to appear without warning or explanation.

But Harris delivers some on-the-nose commentary about American society, despite the supernatural elements. Take for example the lawyer Hugo that Sookie is teamed-up with to investigate the Fellowship of the Sun:

I could tell Hugo was convinced that he would get to walk back up these stairs: after all, he was a civilized person. These were all civilized people.

Hugo really couldn't imagine that anything irreparable could happen to him, because he was a middle-class white American with a college education, as were all the people on the stairs with us.

I had no such conviction. I was not a wholly civilized person.

I’ve made assumptions like this—that life is safe and that bad things won’t happen. It’s these little observations that make this series more than just fluff. Just as Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple could gauge people from her village experience, Sookie has good psychological experience from being a woman, a telepath, and a bar maid in a small town. It’s true what they say, that everybody knows your business in a small town and this gives anyone who is paying attention a chance to educate themselves in the field of human behaviour!

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review 2017-03-29 21:42
Stone Spring / Stephen Baxter
Stone Spring - Stephen Baxter

Ten thousand years ago, a vast and fertile plain exists linking the British Isles to Europe. Home to a tribe of simple hunter-gatherers, Northland teems with nature's bounty, but is also subject to its whims.

Fourteen-year-old Ana calls Northland home, but her world is changing. The air is warming, the ice is melting, and the seas are rising. Then Ana meets a traveler from a far-distant city called Jericho-a city that is protected by a wall. And she starts to imagine the impossible...


I read this book for the frivolous reason that it has “Spring” in the title and its springtime as I write this review. Plus, it had been on my TBR list for some time and I decided that it was time that I moved it.

It’s a solid story—set in Mesolithic Europe, as the climate and the land masses change with the melting of the ice sheets. Baxter has obviously done his research on the archaeology of the region, including the parts that are completely underwater now. And he has thrown in his own imaginative touches, creating believable cultures for these prehistoric tribes and inventing one that is entirely fictional, the “Leafy Boys.”

There is conflict—when you’ve got a hammer, every problem looks like a nail and when you’ve got a stone-tipped spear, well everything looks like it needs to be poked with that spear. The primary relationships are those of tribe, parent, child, etc. and not so much romantic. There is very, very little sex described, it is mostly implied or spoken about crudely by loud-mouthed men. In some ways, it is Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series without the sex and much less emotional angst.

Obvious messages include: slavery is bad, global warming will raise water levels so deal with it, and that it’s difficult to deal with people who hold extremely different worldviews from yourself. I was somewhat unsure of how I felt about the character of Ana, who runs other tribe’s people’s lives ruthlessly and has a baby only to solidify her chosen power structure. I know people like this exist, but her choice of power over genuine emotion bothered me.

I guess what I didn’t entirely care for was the grafting of 21st century values and motivations onto Stone Age people. It didn’t always ring true for me, but it was still a pretty good book.

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text 2016-05-04 17:42
Reading progress update: I've read 15%.
Uncanny Magazine Issue 9: March/April 2016 - Jim C. Hines,Max Gladstone,Michael Damian Thomas,Mark Oshiro,Shveta Thakrar,Rachel Swirsky,Javier Grillo-Marxuach,Lynne M. Thomas,Daryl Gregory,Simon Guerrier

Currently reading: "The Shadow Collector" by Shveta Thakrar


The opening lines of this are just magical.


In the garden where girls grew from flowers, their days washed in the distant trills of the queen's wooden flute, a gardener toiled. His name was Rajesh, and in his spare time, he collected shadows. Shadows of nectar-loving hummingbirds, shadows of laughing fathers, shadows of hawks who preyed on squirrels.


You know what the best part of short fiction is? That you can devour it whenever you have a spare moment. Even at work ;).

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review 2016-04-23 05:54
You and Me, Always - Jill Mansell

You know where this book is going as soon as you've met the leading characters but on the way there's plenty of humour, an idyllic village in a beautiful setting. A happy go lucky type of story, where everyone gets what they deserve and the reader is left smiling! Take it on holiday as it's light, frothy and enjoyable.

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text 2016-04-04 15:54
Martin John / Anakana Schofiled
Martin John - Anakana Schofield

Martin John is not keen on P words. He isolates P words from the newspapers into long lists. For you, so you know he's kept busy, so you don't have to worry he might be beside you or following you or thinking about your body parts. So you don't have to worry about what else he has been thinking about.

From Anakana Schofield, the brilliant and unconventional author of Malarky, comes a dark, humorous and uncomfortable novel circuiting through the minds, motivations, and preoccupations of a character many women have experienced, but few up until now, have understood quite so well. The result confirms Schofield as one of the bravest and most innovative authors at work in English today.


Another entry on my “Horrible Humans” shelf. Martin John is certainly not someone you would want to be Facebook friends with. He is a creepy sexual offender of the nuisance variety, although as I read the author planted just enough doubt into my mind that, by book’s end, I was pretty certain that he would be destined for worse crimes if he remained uninterrupted.

I was unsure of the time period of this book. The only pop culture references were to the Eurovision singing competition (which MJ is obsessed with) which I guess would put it into the last decade. He is a walking catalog of psychological problems—obsession, hoarding, ritualistic behaviour, among other things. It also becomes obvious to the reader that his family, such as it is, is a part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

The writing style was unique, sometimes with only a few words to a page. There was a chaotic aspect of it that seemed to mirror Martin John’s mental state at the given time. More orderly towards the beginning of the book as he is going to work and dealing with roommates, less so as he acquires a housemate that he comes to distrust and fear.

An interesting spelunking expedition into the dark cave of mental illness and human motivation.

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