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review 2018-10-04 23:59
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield  for Deadlands
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield

[10/05/18  Edited to add: I managed to upload a bad picture of my bingo card.]

 

This is such a good book I want to be a better writer to do it justice in my review. Waiting longer for inspiration is just not on though: my memory will let the details blur and the experience fade. 

 

Setterfield is a writer who's greatest flaw is not being prolific. Actually, that may be the only flaw. She has once again crafted a work of fiction that has a convincing Victorian setting with a modern sensibility directing the reader's attention to characters and incidents that a true Victorian wouldn't, but logic suggests that they are all valid. She manages to tell quite a few stories and examples of the craft of storytelling within a greater story of amazing events. While many writers succeed at making a house a character within their fiction, Setterfield has made part of the Thames a character, nor was she stinting in permitting this character moods. Okay, on the winter solstice the usual group are sitting around drinking in the Swan, an inn distinguished by the storytelling within. The door opens, a man, his face a bloody mess staggers in clutching a large doll in his hands.

 

Over the course of one year we watch the repercussions of that moment: how it affects characters major and minor and also, this is the tricksy bit, we watch how those events become stories. Yes, many stories dependent on point of view, and skill, stories becoming more stories as that one event is observed (or not), in light of new events, and then, still later developments. The metaphor is well served: there is an attempt to trace the roots of the story back to the beginning, which you can't do any more than you can trace a river back, fractally there are always more branches feeding in.

 

There is so much: there are clever half-starved orphans, prosperous farmers, the family of innkeepers, the town midwife, the minister, servants and animals, wealthy distillery owners, thieves and blackguards, despite the extensive cast one never feels that the author is coasting by with stereotypes or with every character having the same voice. There is plot and pathos enough for Dickens, and despite the 21st century sensibility there's none of that business of giving a character clearly modern ideas.

 

There is, of course, a supernatural element as well as a few mysteries, dreadful crimes and moments of grace. Everything is here, told my a humanist in the Pratchett vein, but without the jokes and footnotes. It is a lovely, suspenseful book that I couldn't bear to put down in order to post updates. Read it soon: give it to yourself or someone you really like as a gift for one of the several solstice-adjacent holidays. Just the thing for long winter nights by the fire.

 

ARC from publisher

 

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review 2017-12-05 17:03
Peace On Earth, Good Will To Dogs - Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
Peace On Earth, Good Will To Dogs - Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

Despite weird punctuation (what are all those dashes supposed to indicate?) and obvious period details this book feels remarkably modern. You could turn it into a modern story in about 15 minutes. You could turn it into a modern movie rom com script without a great deal of effort. Dogs! So cute. Oh, go on: it's free, it's short, it's amusing, it'll get you feeling jolly.

 

 

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review 2017-03-05 03:10
Humbug - Joanna Chambers

From time to time I look through the collections on my Kindle and delete everything I've read already. I just did that the other day and guess what my first reaction was when I saw I've already read this.

I've read this??? When??? ...and... What was it about again?

After I looked at the blurb I remembered at least that I've actually read some kind of a "A Christmas Carol" themed story last year. That also is quite a good giveaway that I've read it somewhere around Christmas.

So this is the perfect example for a not-bad-but-literally-forgettable story and I'll settle for 3 stars.

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review 2016-12-31 17:21
Quick and Hot
Hot for Xmas - Trinity Blacio Emily Garland works to save female victims from horrible lives, regardless of how dangerous it is. It’s been a VERY long time since she’s had any real pleasure. While trying to help another victim and her kids, she meets Baas Sather, the local pack alpha. This was a quick and hot read. It was well written. I would’ve liked to see more from these characters though. I’d recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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review 2016-12-09 19:55
Holidays on Ice: Stories - David Sedaris
Holidays on Ice: Stories - David Sedaris

Veronica needed some “Santaland Diaries” and then I was supposed to take the book back to the library, but Santaland sounded really appealing so I read the whole thing again. This is my favorite Sedaris. “Six to Eight Black Men” is battling “Santaland” for favorite xmas anecdote, and “Jesus Shaves” got me laughing aloud, which I don’t often do when sitting alone in a room reading.

 

Be of good cheer.

 

Library copy

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