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review 2020-06-05 21:00
THE ATTIC TRAGEDY by J. Ashley-Smith
The Attic Tragedy - J. Ashley-Smith

Beautifully written, this novella was a short and dark visit inside the mind of a young woman.

 

Georgina, (George), became friends with Sylvie in a rather dark antique shop. There, Sylvie shares a secret; she can tell where an object has been just by touching it. George though? George never shares her secret with Sylvie or anyone else, (at least not verbally). Why not? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Right from the get-go, right from the opening line:"Sylvie never called them ghosts, but that's what they were." THE ATTIC TRAGEDY had me in its grip. This is a poignant tale about unrequited love, about feeling that you're different, that you're never a part of things, never at home, even in your own body. During your teen years, (which is where this book began), one is always feeling awkward and out of place to start with. Add in a few of the issues these teens were experiencing and it adds up to an almost unbearable state. Did I mention there's a supernatural aspect to this story as well? At least, I think there was...

 

I'm surprised at how much feeling the author was able to pack into this novella, (perhaps novelette, technically speaking). Please believe me when I say, Mr. Ashley-Smith can write. In one scene where George wants to reach out to Sylvie, there's this description:

 

"My fingers stretched and recoiled, daring then afraid, expanding and contracting like some skittish undersea creature; the kind of thing that dwells in shadow on the ocean floor, its hideous misshapen body an insult to nature."

 

So vivid, so beautiful, so easy to picture. My heart went out to both of these young women, but especially to George. I have to wonder what would have happened had things worked out differently. I do know I'll be thinking about both of them for a while. This was my first experience with this author and I hope to read more of his work in the future!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Thanks to Meerkat Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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text 2020-06-05 20:09
Reading progress update: I've read 380 out of 380 pages.
L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

(French text and images below.)

 

Well, that's a wrap.  Somewhat against my own expectations, I finished this book in just under a week.  As I suspected, we don't actually learn that much more in the final 150 pages, even though the action continued to move at a sprightly pace.  There were a few more things I could have done without

(including but not limited to the "dark and stormy night" goings-on which the author, it turns out, had only been saving for the book's final chase(s), as well as a veritable "coup de théâtre" during the final conclave which might easily have backfired in real life),

(spoiler show)

and the author's choice to present the solution in a Golden Age mystery-style "final conclave" didn't really work for me, not least because -- but for the revelations that actually only follow the "final conclave" -- much of what Nicolas says there had at the very least been on the cards since the book's halfway mark or (in part) longer.  But to the last, the book's biggest draw for me was the historical detail -- Parot clearly knows what he's writing about, and he is very good at building it into the story's setting and atmosphere.  (Unlike in other, similar cases, I didn't even mind the footnotes; by and large, they actually worked better for me than a lengthy "historical note" at the end of the book would have done.)  As I said to Tannat in a comment on yesterday's status update, the book feels like Parot is taking the reader on a tour of 18th century Paris (and 18th century Paris society), while at the same time telling a detective story.  Overall, that made for a very enjoyable experience.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Eh bien, voilà tout fini!  Plus ou moins contre mes propres expectations, j'ai fini ce livre dans un peu moins d'une semaine.  Comme j'avais supposé, on n'apprend plus grand'chose dans les 150 pages finales, bien que l'action continue d'avancer à un pas assez gaillard.  Il y avait encore quelques élements de plus auquels j'aurais bien voulu renoncer

(tels que les évenements "nuit sinistre et orageuse" qu'il émerge que l'auteur avait seulement conservé aux chasses finales, autant qu'un véritable coup de théâtre durant le "conclave final" qui aurait bien pu finir manière retour du bâton dans la vie réelle),

(spoiler show)

et le choix de l'auteur de présenter la grande solution façon "conclave final" d'un roman policier de l'Âge Dorée ne m'a pas exactement enchanté, non des moindres parce que -- à part des révélations qui, en fait, suivent au "conclave final" -- beaucoup des faits y  mentionnés par Nicolas avaient été au moins possibles depuis la moitié du livre (ou même plus longtemps).  Mais jusqu'au moment dernier l'attraction la plus grande du livre, pour moi, était le détail historique -- c'est clair que Parot sait de quoi il parle, et il réussit bien à l'intégrer dans la mise en scène et l'atmosphère du récit.  (Au contraire d'autres cas pareils, même les notes individuelles de l'auteur ne m'ont pas dérangé; tout-en-un, je les ai préféré à une longue note historique à la fin du livre.)  Comme j'ai dit à Tannat dans un commentaire à mon status update de hier, ce livre me parait comme si Parot avait invité le lecteur à un tour du Paris du 18e siècle (et de la société parisienne du 18e siècle), tout en nous racontant une histoire policière.  En somme, cela a fait une expérience bien plaisante.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Final images:

 

Etienne Jeaurat: Le carnaval des rues de Paris (oil on cloth, 1757, Paris, Musée Carnavalet)

 

The Carnaval de Paris lasted, in the 17th and 18th centuries, from the day after Epiphany (Twelfth Night) until Ash Wednesday / the beginning of Lent.

 

Ebony and ivory Janseist crucifix: Christ is shown hanging with His hands above His head, so as to make His body form an arrow (rather than the "T" form of the traditional crucifix with His arms outstretched at a right angle to His body).  The arrow pointing down to the congregation in the Janseist cruxifix signified that Christ died only for the elect; whereas the traditional crucifix featuring outstretched arms indicates that Christ died for the whole world.

 

 

 

 

François Boucher: The Crocodile Hunt and The Leopard Hunt (both 1736), Charles Parrosel: The Hunt of the Wild Boar (1738), and Charles André van Loo: The Bear Hunt (1739), some of Louis XV's "chasses exotiques", then at Versailles -- all now at the Musée de Picardie in Amiens. (Right-click on an image to see a larger version.)

 

An 18th century map of the faubourg Saint-Marcel (or Saint-Marceau) -- in the 17th and 18th centuries, an extremely poor and downtrodden working class area -- and its location on a map of the modern city (it was outside the city walls in the 18th century).  Rousseau wrote in his Confessions:

"En entrant [à Paris] par le faubourg Saint-Marceau je ne vis que de petites rues sales et puantes, de vilaines maisons noires, l’air de malpropreté, de la pauvreté, des mendiants, des charretiers, des ravaudeuses, des crieuses de tisane et de vieux chapeaux. Tout cela me frappa d’abord à un tel point que tout ce que j’ai vu depuis à Paris de magnificence réelle n’a pu détruire cette première impression, et qu’il m’en est resté toujours un secret dégoût pour l’habitation de cette capitale."

 

Guérande (Nicolas's home town) and its location on a satelite map.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Previous status updates:

41 pages

94 pages

112 pages

221 pages

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text 2020-06-05 14:55
Reading progress update: I've read 142 out of 1264 pages.
Piranesi: The Complete Etchings - Giovan... Piranesi: The Complete Etchings - Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Many views of ancient Roman remains in picturesque decay.

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review 2020-06-05 13:45
Winterglass
Winterglass - Benjanun Sriduangkaew

 As her homeland of Sirapirat is being conquered by the Winter Queen and it's people being fed to the ghost kiln, Nuawa is given a tiny shard of glass to swallow by her mother.  Nuawa survives the ghost kiln and is taken in by her Aunt.  Nuawa trains relentlessly to be a fighter and one day avenge her homeland and mother.  Her chance comes with a tournament where the prize is to be trained by General Lussadh, the Queen's right hand.  Nuawa easily qualifies for the tournament and moves forward, gaining favor with General Lussadh who quickly recognizes Nuawa as a glass-bearer. 

 
Winterglass is  an intriguing retelling of The Snow Queen with a science fiction spin.  The writing is beautiful and pulled me into the scenes of the brutal landscape and resilient people. I was immediately fascinated by the world that was created, the mysterious Winter Queen, the ghost kiln and the many different people now living in everlasting winter.  However, I kept feeling that I was missing something of how and why the Winter Queen came to be and why she is so destructive.  Nuawa is a very decisive character.  She has one purpose and knows she will fulfill it no matter what.  This makes her motivations clear, but also a little difficult to get to know.  I really liked the idea of the glass fragments as well as all of the other enchantments in the world, but I really wanted a little more time to get to know about them.  I also give a big kudos for this world being built with gender neutrality and fluidity.  The pronouns for some people are 'ey' as in they and sexual preference is a non-issue.  This is a shorter book and is very action packed.  There is some explanation of the Winter Queen and glass fragments near the end, but not nearly enough.  This is book one of a series, so I will definitely want to check out what happens next.  

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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text 2020-06-05 13:34
Available Now!

Today is the day! Luminous is available now on Kindle or in paperback.

mybook.to/luminous

Source: mybook.to/luminous
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