logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: planned-for-2018
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-09-17 22:28
Killer Librarian / Mary Lou Kirwin
Killer Librarian (Thorndike Press Large Print Mystery Series) - Mary Lou Kirwin

Champion of the mystery section at a small-town Minnesota library, Karen Nash is about to embark on a dream trip to London, a literary tour inspired by every murderous intrigue, wily suspect, and ingenious crime found in the pages of the British mysteries that she devours. But she's clueless why the love of her mid-life, Dave, would dump her hours before takeoff, until she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm! She decides the best revenge (for now) is to get on that plane anyway . . . and entertain schemes for Dave's untimely demise while crossing the pond.
After touching ground in the hallowed homeland of Christie, Sayers, and Peters, she checks into a cozy B & B run by charming bibliophile Caldwell Perkins. Soon she's spilling tears in her pint at the corner pub, sharing her heartbreak saga with a stranger. That night, a B & B guest drops out of circulation permanently. And when Dave and his cutie turn up in London, Karen realizes they are an assassin's target. With the meticulous attention to detail that makes her a killer librarian, Karen sleuths her way through her own real-life mystery in which library science meets the art of murder.

 

I read this book for the Cozy Mystery square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I’m not usually a tremendous fan of the cozy mystery genre—I tend to like things a bit darker and more threatening--but I was charmed by this librarian-reluctantly-turned-sleuth tale that also incorporated a gentle romance.

Karen Nash is a successful librarian who has always dreamed of visiting England, the land of all of her favourite authors. She has carefully planned her upcoming vacation, trying to indulge her passion for literature while not boring her plumber boyfriend Dave. But the course of true love never did run smooth and Dave dumps Karen just days before they are to embark on this adventure. What’s a girl to do? Karen buys her own plane ticket and goes anyway, finding at the airport that Dave has replaced her with a younger woman. Understandably angry, Karen conceals herself as best she can on the flight, then follows the couple upon landing in London.

Who hasn’t been dumped and fantasized about taking revenge on the former object of our affection? Karen books into her B&B and is pleased to find that the owner loves books as much as she does. When she goes looking for some juice in the middle of her first night, she stumbles over the body of a fellow customer, complicating her situation.

The remainder of the book deals with meeting the other denizens of the B&B, being touristy in London, causing trouble for the disloyal Dave, pursuing the new man in her life, plus solving the murder mystery. A very full schedule. Karen is a woman after my own heart, a planner, a reader, and a very competent woman.

Perfect if you want a warm, fuzzy reading experience with a very gentle mystery attached to it. Truly, the story is much more about Karen and how she sorts out her life after it’s been shaken up. Very enjoyable.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-09-17 21:55
Jaws / Peter Benchley
Jaws - Peter Benchley

It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble a warning of what was to come took the form of a young woman's body, or what was left of it, washed up on the long, white stretch of beach. A summer of terror has begun.

 

I read this book for the Fear the Drowning Deep square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

This is purportedly a book about a monster shark. I would beg to differ—the shark is just a catalyst for the very human drama that became the main thing for me. Police chief Martin Brody is a conscientious policeman—he isn’t perfect and he knows it, but he is striving to do the right thing. He’s not up against the shark really, he’s up against those with money who want to make more money. Shutting down the town beach during the July 4th weekend is going to hurt the community economically, but powerful people seem to value money over human life.

We get a good look at “the old boys club” in action in Jaws. Their indifference to potential deaths is far scarier than the enormous Great White that is cruising the shore. They are as indifferent as the beast itself. We also get a glimpse back in time to society in the 1970s—women are still mostly housewives, maybe with a side job to help with family finances. Only the elderly woman who runs the post office seems to be able to speak her mind without reservation, as she has no husband to police her behaviour.

The icthyologist who admires the shark, but has a sexual liaison with Ellen Brody, ends up self-destructing—it’s unclear which issue he’s being punished for, siding with nature against humanity or breaking societal expectations with another man’s wife.

I’m pretty sure that I read this back in junior high school (at the time it was originally published), but the only familiar thing was that cover! I’m pretty sure that my teenage self was reading entirely for the sharky bits, not so much for the human stuff.

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-09-17 19:47
Parable of the Sower / Octavia Butler
Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

 

What a powerful view of a dystopian near future! Just like Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler was able to scan the news of the time (early 1990s) and extrapolate from those stories to produce this tale exploring where North America might be headed. Her version of a United States that has been reduced to third world status is striking for how possible it feels. Although Canada features as a desired destination for the economic refugees, Butler tells us nothing of what is really happening north of the border, content to show us the plight of regular Americans.

The trends that she was working with? Effects of drug use (made me think of our current fentanyl crisis), the growing rich/poor gap, the precarious nature of employment, the willingness to build & fill prisons, the unwillingness to build & repair schools & libraries, the tendency to value the economy over the environment, and climate-driven weather change (and the resulting change in what crops will grow and food price inflation). Butler could foresee this twenty years ago—how much closer are we today to this exact situation? Oh, this makes me think so much of Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, where you can really feel like the whole book scenario could easily come true.

Of course this wouldn’t be Octavia Butler if there wasn’t some exploration of the power dynamic between people and groups of people as well. The main character, Lauren, progresses from childhood, governed by her Baptist father, to leader of people migrating north and founding her own religion. We get to see Lauren and her brother Keith struggle with their father’s authority in different ways and the outcome of those struggles. Butler certainly makes the reader see the value of having a community—a chosen circle of people who both give & receive support.

My only complaint might be that it is so United States focused, rather like Stephen King’s The Stand. It could have been even better, in my opinion, had she widened the scope to include other parts of the world, rather like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

This is book number 295 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-09-15 22:05
A Discovery of Witches / Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

 

I read this to fill the Spellbound square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo Card.

I know there is a fandom out there for this particular flavour of Paranormal Romance, but I am not among them. I guess that life experience shapes these tastes and mine have shaped me to reject being a fragile flower type of woman and to abhor bossy, controlling men. Diana is my nightmare as a main character, someone who thinks she is strong but in reality is always tired, hungry, injured, pale and otherwise needy. 

I also had issues with the vampires. They are a pretty namby-pamby kind of vamp--able to eat food, sometimes sleep, and exist happily by hunting deer. Essentially, they are humans with cold skin and long life expectancy. They spend an awful lot of time snarling and growling, but Matthew "purrs" rather a lot. I don't even have an idea of what that would sound like.

Then there's Matthew specifically, who's supposed to be over 1000 years old, but still acts like an adolescent. He's moody and angry for no apparent reason, full of secret sources of angst. And he's met everyone--Christopher Marlowe was his pal, Shakespeare signed a book for him, he corresponded with Charles Darwin. It's like all those folks who go for regression hypnosis and emerge thinking they are reincarnated Robert the Bruce or Cleopatra, never a pig farmer from Finland.

On top of all that, there's the relationship between Diana and Matthew. Once she decides he's the one, she keeps inviting him to bed and being astonished when he turns her down. Science says that she can't get pregnant because they are different species, but Matthew always has some lame excuse. There's some ancient covenant that forbids interspecies relationships or his mother wouldn't approve (!) or they've got all the time in the world, on and on. I don't know about other women, but if a man turned me down that often, I wouldn't be hanging around for further humiliation. Then, all of a sudden, Matthew kisses her and declares his love in front of his mother. Poof, they're married now. (That reminded me so much of a scene in Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels where Sookie is persuaded to take some object & present it to Eric Northman, and poof! They're married) Despite this official marriage, he still won't consummate the relationship. 

Can vampires suffer erectile dysfunction? 

It's 579 pages long and they still haven't done the deed.

(spoiler show)

 



This is like a cross between the Mayfair Witches of Rice, Outlander by Gabaldon, and Twilight. It reminds me strongly of the work of Christine Feehan and Kresley Cole, two authors that I now avoid. Fans of these franchises will no doubt enjoy this book more than I did. Govern yourselves accordingly.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-09-07 18:41
Bloody Jack / L.A. Meyer
Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy - L.A. Meyer

Life as a ship's boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.

There's only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life--if only she doesn't get caught. . .

 

 

”It's easier bein' a boy, 'cause when someone needs somethin' done like holdin' a horse, they'll always pick a boy 'cause they think the dumbest boy will be better at it than the brightest girl, which is stupid, but there you are.”

I liked this book a fair bit, but there were a couple of ways in which it disappointed me. As the quote above illustrates, there is a bit of commentary on the role of women during this time period. The basic plot is quite liberating for Jacky—she impersonates a boy and gets herself a job. She’s a sharp enough observer (trained by her time on the streets of London) to figure out how to pull it off without getting caught right away.

However, Jacky spends more time than necessary, in my opinion, bawling and dripping snot. Because apparently that’s what girls do. I don’t know about you, but my mother was the reserved one of my parents. You could make my dad cry fairly easily, but Mom was the Iron Lady. I remember that she gave me hell for crying too much at her mother’s funeral! She believed in crying in private, on your own, not in public for all the neighbours to see.

The writing style, though somehow strangely appropriate for this tale, didn’t really thrill me. Perhaps that’s because I am far older than the intended demographic for this series. I found it a decent book and a relatively quick read, but I sincerely doubt that I’ll be pursuing the series any further.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?