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review 2019-03-19 15:15
Review of "Wild Country" (The World of the Others) by Anne Bishop
Wild Country - Anne Bishop

I finished this one a while back but was having trouble reviewing.

 

While reading it, I was thoroughly caught up in the story (and it was a stay in seat until finished read).

 

But, like Lake Silence, it introduced more new characters.  Oh, some familiar faces made an appearance.  And some really fascinating new "others" were introduced.

 

I think it missed the 5-star mark for me because it was too brief to get as hooked on the characters as I did with The Others series. 

 

I hope the next installment gives us more of the characters from these two books rather than a new main character.  Even if not, I'm looking forward to more in this world so am continuing the series. 

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review 2019-03-15 19:05
In the Country by Mia Alvar
In the Country: Stories - Mia Alvar

This is a brilliant story collection, full of tales from the Philippines and their diaspora. The author is one of those literary writers who does a fantastic job at creating characters, with distinct personalities and psychological complexity, in just a few pages. The stories tend to focus on the characters’ personal journeys, and are sometimes quietly brutal, but stand out for the vividness of the characters and of the author’s imagery. I finished this a couple of weeks ago, and took my time reading it, but most of the stories still stand out clearly in my mind. The author’s writing is also excellent, and has a certain weight to it that will keep you from breezing right through: every word has meaning and is there because it needs to be. It’s by no means dense, but it’s solid literature, the kind of writing that loses nothing when you re-read it.

Because I often look for others’ reactions to specific short stories as I finish them, here are my mini-reviews, in order of appearance:

“The Kontrabida”: A young man working in New York returns to the Philippines to visit his abusive father, who is seriously ill, and his apparently saintly mother. To my mind this is one of the best in the collection, deliberate and atmospheric, with a whammy at the end.

“The Miracle Worker”: A young special ed teacher, living in Bahrain with her husband, is approached by a wealthy Arab woman who has unrealistic dreams for her severely disabled child. This is also one of the best, complex and surprisingly dark, leaving a certain awful secret to be fleshed out by the reader, and with a final image that stuck with me long after finishing.

“Legends of the White Lady”: An American model with some personal issues visits the Philippines for a shoot. My least favorite of the collection, this story is lightweight compared to the rest, but it still feels grounded in authentic experience.

“Shadow Families”: A community of newly-well-off Philippine wives in Bahrain includes less-fortunate immigrants from their country in social events, but these include a challenging young woman who’s more interested in their husbands than their friendship. This story is told in the first-person plural – there’s a “we” but no “I” – and none of the many wives included in that “we,” or their husbands, really stand out. Meanwhile, it goes on too long, as if an epilogue had been appended to a short story.

“The Virgin of Monte Ramon”: A boy in a wheelchair befriends a girl from the local shantytown and learns a disturbing secret about his own family. This is a perfectly fine story, though not my favorite.

“Esmeralda”: A cleaner in New York, who works hard but has a difficult life, falls for a lonely banker in the World Trade Center when she cleans his office. This one is told in the second person, which I usually hate and which literary writers seem to need to get out of their systems . . . but the story is strong enough to shine despite that (or perhaps even because of it). It’s vivid, memorable, and does a great of splicing together different timelines even in a short space.

“Old Girl”: Set in Boston, this is taken from the life of Corazon Aquino, who became a major figure in Philippine history, though you might not have guessed it from the meek wife here who caters to her flamboyant and ambitious husband. You don’t need to know anything about her to make sense of the story (though if you do, it won’t spoil the story and will add resonance to it). The family dynamics are carefully observed and the characters have no less complexity than if the author had had free rein to create them herself.

“A Contract Overseas”: A college student from an impoverished family is supported by her beloved brother, who takes a job in Saudi Arabia, but she can’t save him from his own problems. This is a vivid story with strong characters and realistic emotions, but I wanted a little more from the end.

“In the Country”: At about 85 pages, this is closer to a novella than a short story. It switches between two timelines – a young nurse who fights for better pay and marries an ambitious journalist, and that same woman later, after a devastating loss. This story fleshes out a lot about the recent history of the Philippines, and provides the context for “Old Girl.” It is quite good; the history perhaps overshadows the characters at times, but it’s fair to say that the two can’t be entirely separated for people whose lives are so tied up in history.

Overall, this is a great, well-written, well-observed collection of stories. I am definitely interested in reading more from this author.

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text 2019-03-12 14:10
REVIEW BY DEBBIE - Her Lord of Death (A Mythic World Romance) by Kyla D. Knight
Her Lord of Death (A Mythic World Romance) - Kyla D. Knight

Enter into an ancient Greek world both harsh and beautiful, a place of gods and magic—and love worth every sacrifice.

With her uncle’s kingdom terrorized by a murderous creature, Kora reluctantly agrees to marry the one warrior capable of defeating it. Acheron is the champion of a neighboring king, one whose reputation precedes him—brutal, deadly, barely human.

But Kora soon discovers that Acheron is a more complicated man than his reputation suggests—and he just might be everything she’s been seeking all her life. Yet more is at play than the simple marriage alliance that Kora thought she was getting into. Behind this alliance lie the machinations of a sorcerous queen—one with her eyes on Kora’s unusual ability to see and speak with the dead.

Acheron, however, is not about to let anything happen to Kora, a woman of quiet beauty and hard truth, one who slips past his barriers and into parts of his heart that he’d thought long dead. He will face anything, even his worst nightmares, to protect her.

Author’s note: Her Lord of Death contains explicit sex, strong language, and dark themes that may disturb some readers.

 

@debbiereadsbook, #Adult, #Fantasy, #Romance, 5 out of 5 (exceptional)

Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2019/03/12/Her-Lord-of-Death-by-Kyla-D-Knight
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text 2019-03-11 22:55
Around the World in 80 Books Mostly by Female Authors: Master Update Post

[World map created with Mapchart.net]

 

The aim: To diversify my reading and read as many books as possible (not necessarily 80) set in, and by authors from, countries all over the world.  Female authors preferred.  If a book is set in a location other than that of the author's nationality, it can apply to either (but not both).

 

On the map I'm only tracking new reads, not also rereads.

 

The Books:

Africa

Nigeria

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Purple Hibiscus (new)

 

Egypt

Elizabeth Peters: Crocodile on the Sandbank (new)

 

 

 

 

Americas

USA

Michelle Obama: Becoming (new)

Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Red Lamp (new)

* Puerto Rico

Rosario Ferré: The House on the Lagoon (new)

 

Canada

Stef Penney: The Tenderness of Wolves (new)

 

Brazil

Clarice Lispector: The Hour of the Star (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Asia

China

Xinran: The Good Women of China (new)

 

Japan

Shizuko Natsuki: Murder at Mt. Fuji (new)

 

North Korea

Hyeonseo Lee: The Girl with Seven Names (new)

 

Sri Lanka

Michael Ondaatje: Anil's Ghost (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Australia / Oceania

Australia

Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock (new)

 

New Zealand

Ngaio Marsh: Vintage Murder and Died in the Wool (both revisited on audio)

 

 

 

 

 

Europe

United Kingdom

Lorna Nicholl Morgan: Another Little Murder (new)

Stephen Fry, John Woolf, Nick Baker: Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets (new)

P.D. James: A Taste for Death (revisited on audio)

Agatha Christie: The Big Four, Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, The Unexpected Guest, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and The Secret Adversary (all revisited on audio; The Unexpected Guest also in print); The Lost Plays: Butter in a Lordly Dish / Personal Call / Murder in the Mews (new)

Elizabeth Ferrars: Murder Among Friends (new)

Barbara Pym: Excellent Women (new)

Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites (revisited on audio)

Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler? (new)

Nicholas Blake: A Question of Proof (new)

Joy Ellis: The Murderer's Son (new)

Peter Grainger: An Accidental Death (new)

Elizabeth Gaskell: My Lady Ludlow (new)

Various Authors / Contributors: Agatha Christie Close Up: A Radio Investigation (new)

Virginia Woolf: The String Quartet (new)

John Buchan: The 39 Steps (revisited on audio)

Oscar Wilde: Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (new)

Ellis Peters: The Hermit of Eyton Forest (reread)

Patricia Wentworth: The Alington Inheritance, and The Gazebo (both new)

Dorothy L. Sayers: Whose Body? (reread)

Martin Fido: The World of Sherlock Holmes (new)

 

Ireland

Tana French: The Witch Elm (new)

 

Greece

Stephen Fry: Mythos (new)

Madeline Miller: Circe (new)

 

Sweden

Astrid Lindgren: Die Menschheit hat den Verstand verloren: Tagebücher 1939-1945 (A World Gone Mad: Diaries, 1939-45) (new)

 

France

Emmuska Orczy: The Elusive Pimpernel (new)

 

Croatia

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (revisited on audio)

(Note: Yugoslavia at the time of the writing -- but the action is set after the train has passed Vinkovci, aka "The Gateway to Croatia".)

 

 

 

 

 

The "Gender Wars" Stats:

Read to date, in 2019:

Books by female authors: 36

- new: 25

- rereads: 11

 

Books by male authors: 10

- new: 8

- rereads: 2

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 1

- new: 1

- rereads:

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review 2019-03-11 22:50
A Poor Man's (or Woman's) "House of the Spirits"
The House on the Lagoon - Rosario Ferré,Silvia Sierra

Ugh.  If this hadn't been my final "Snakes and Ladders" book I'd have DNF'd it.  This is essentially a Puerto Rican version of House of the Spirits minus magical realism, plus a plethora of characters and episodes that don't greatly advance the plot (think 500-episode telenovela) and a whole lot of telling instead of showing.  That isn't to say I learned nothing at all about Puerto Rico, its people and its history -- indeed, the island itself was by far this book's most interesting, believable, fully elaborated and just plain likeable character -- but by and large, I'd have accomplished more by reading a nonfiction history book or a travel guide about Puerto Rico ... or by going there to see it for myself.  (Which I'm still hoping to do at some point.)

 

Nevertheless, I've enjoyed my "Snakes and Ladders" run enormously -- a huge thanks to Moonlight Reader for her spur-of-the-moment inspiration in initiating this game!

 

(Charlie and Sunny also say thank you for the exercise and all the snacks along the way.)

 

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