I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
In the third book of her Xenogenesis series, Octavia Butler gives us the alien’s perspective. It makes the Oankali marginally less creepy, but only a tiny bit. Butler excels at creating truly alien life forms, with wildly different forms of reproduction.
The Oankali having stinging cells and tentacles, giving them some resemblance to jellyfish (Cniderians) in our world, but they are upright walking, hand-and-arm-possessing, intelligent life forms. And, it turns out, they have a three stage metamorphosis like Earth’s insects do. This installment follows that mysterious third sex, the Ooloi, as one of Lilith’s children matures sexually into the adult form (hence the title, Imago).
In the first book, the Oankali have rescued the small remainder of humanity from a disaster of their own creation and have begun combining the two species. That’s what the Ooankali do and they consider it their payment for their rescue services, but that’s not what it looks like or feels like to humans. Lilith gradually becomes convinced that she won’t be allowed to live as human and reluctantly gets involved with the aliens, although it is against her true wishes.
In the second book, we follow Lilith’s construct child, Akin, who actually has five parents and who understands the relationship between the two species better than either the humans or the Oankali. He sees the basic incompatibility between the two species but also how they can also become compatible. Seemingly a paradox, which Akin reveals as a prejudice of the Oankali against humanity—we’ve always known that humans are prejudiced against the aliens.
This third installment reveals just how much the Oankali need and long for relationships with humans. To this point, they have seemed very unemotional, almost clinical, in their desire to revitalize their own DNA through incorporation of the human genome. Jodahs, who is metamorphosing into one of the mysterious Ooloi, shows us the depth of feeling, the intense sexual need, and indeed the pain of separation that we have been missing so far in the story.
Despite gaining understanding, the whole sexual system of the Oankali feels deeply creepy. The human male and female in the sexual constellation experience repulsion when they touch one another directly, but when joined by an Ooloi, experience intense sexual pleasure. Pheromones by the Ooloi make the situation addictive—being apart from one’s group becomes torment.
Butler is skillful in her refusal to “pick a side.” She provides logical reasons for the aliens’ behaviour and points out both the logical and totally illogical responses of humanity. She explores co-operation, coercion, limited choice, and unequal power without making it obvious which species she favours.
In some ways, this series makes me think of Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End, in that humanity is being absorbed into a genetic continuum, but likely won’t survive on its own ever again. Do we mourn the loss or celebrate what survives?
Book 260 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***
In many ways, this is a very dated Gothic romance—after all, it was first published in 1969. I’m pretty sure that I read it as a teenager, but it must not have been part of my personal collection, because this reading felt like I was enjoying it for the first time. There are enough differences from Holt’s usual romance formula to make it feel a bit fresher plot-wise too.
A young widow, Caroline Verlaine, takes a position as music teacher at an estate close to excavated Roman ruins where her sister had been working as an archaeologist, only to disappear under mysterious circumstances. Concealing her relationship to the missing woman, Caroline tries to trace her missing sister. There are no poisonous distant relatives, exiling Caroline to a tedious life of uninspired pupils, penury, and living below stairs. She has freely chosen her position for a specific reason, she has an undeniable talent for music, and is therefore much less rebellious than other Holt heroines.
Of course, further disappearances occur and there are mysterious goings-on that lure Caroline into dangerous situations. If I have any complaints, it is that the ending was a bit abrupt and completely predictable. I felt the heroine’s choice should have been just a bit more difficult, requiring a just bit more agonizing than occurred. The book ends suddenly with Caroline’s choice, giving no insight into what happens to numerous other characters who formed an integral part of the story.
Still, in this genre, this was a very enjoyable novel.
In his confident debut, Greg Bechtel offers ten magnetically charged stories about the impossible-turned-possible — secrets, paranoia, sex, conspiracies, and magic — as he effortlessly shatters the boundaries between speculative and literary fiction.
Boundary Problems vibrates on the edge of meaning, as carjackers, accidental gunrunners, and small-town cabbies struggle to wring meaning from the strange events that overtake them. Bechtel’s worlds of mystery and magic constantly challenge his characters’ pursuit of logical explanations. These compelling tales blur lines and push boundaries — into the surreal, into the playful, into the irresistible energy of uncertainty.
I must be finally getting over my summer cold (its been kicking my butt for about a month now), because I felt the lure of reading something better and more complex than the fluff that I’ve been filling my summer with to date. This book has been sitting on my shelves for almost a year and the time had arrived—I picked it up with anticipation.
What a perfectly titled collection of short stories! All of them poke at boundaries of some sort—between physics and magic, mental health/illness, male/female, reality/illusion, self/others, past/present/future. How accurate is anyone’s assessment of the world? We each view it through our own lenses. The characters are ordinary people, made extraordinary by the author’s attention to their existence.
The writing is beautiful. The stories are a pleasure to read, but I hesitate to say that I fully understand them. They don’t spill their secrets too easily and I can see where I will likely read them again, more slowly and with more attention. Though each stands on its own, they also support one another, each providing a window into their creator’s imagination. The varied topics reveal an unexpected mix of experience and knowledge.
I will definitely be interested to see what Mr. Bechtel publishes next.
When Camilla King's grandfather leaves her the family estate in his will, she is shocked. Before her summons to his deathbed, she had never met any of her late mother's relatives. Although the rest of the family clearly does not want her there, Camilla honors her grandfather's wish and becomes the mistress of the magnificent Thunder Heights.
But along with the grand house, Camilla has inherited a legacy of hatred and secrets. Not knowing who, if anyone, she can trust, Camilla searches for the truth about her mother's death. Soon she begins to suspect that it was no accident, but rather murder.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
A disappointment, as I had high hopes of Phyllis Whitney. So many gothic romances are set in England, at first I found it refreshing to read one set in New York instead. But I just couldn’t connect with the heroine, Camilla King, who seemed to be unrealistically naïve, especially for someone who had been through so much loss and was supporting herself through governessing.
The big party that happens close to the book’s ending would have been better placed in the middle or slightly before that, and to have introduced at least one other man into Camilla’s sphere of influence. As things stood, as a reader I knew she would have to end up with either the artist or the engineer/advisor. Whitney spent very little time letting Camilla form relationships with either one of them. As a result, when the choice was made at the end, I just couldn’t feel it was realistic—she barely knew the man she ended up with.
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on MacKayla Lane’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
A reasonably good premise, with a really TSTL main character, MacKayla. If you could solve mysteries by wearing the correct colour of nail polish, Mac would be fabulous. Instead, her special talent is vomiting when she’s close to one of the special Fae artifacts. She can’t think her way out of a paper bag—her most often asked question is merely, “Huh?”
Barrons is the typical overbearing asshole alpha who gets saddled with Mac when she shows up in Ireland, totally clued out but too stupid to give up and go home. This first volume is obviously setting him up as a love interest for Mac, but I don’t see how either one of them can be seriously interested in the other.
Add to this a very simple writing style and basic vocabulary, and an insultingly simple plot, and I have a hard time believing how many people absolutely love this series! Perhaps I was just crabby when I read it, maybe I picked it up at the wrong time. I will read one more book in the series, just to see if I can find what the fuss is about.
Harold Gaynor offers Anita Blake a million dollars to raise a 300-year-old zombie. Knowing it means a human sacrifice will be necessary, Anita turns him down. But when dead bodies start turning up, she realizes that someone else has raised Harold's zombie--and that the zombie is a killer. Anita pits her power against the zombie and the voodoo priestess who controls it.
In The Laughing Corpse Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried-and some people better off dead...
***2017 Summer Lovin' Reading List***
How can I not adore a book that has a character bearing my name? May I say that I did love Wheelchair Wanda, the prostitute with a heart of gold? Even better, she lives while men die around her like flies!
But the book is about Anita, who is just a bit rougher and tougher that your average Urban Fantasy heroine. Because she is an animator/nercromancer, there are also far more zombies than I'm used to in the genre. How is it that I can lurve the vampires and feel so ambivalent about the zombies? I just don't understand their appeal.
Nevertheless, Anita experiences what so many (if not all) UF heroines do--they suddenly find hidden depths to their powers which solves their current dilemma, but opens a whole can of worms, to be explored in further volumes. Has she found her leverage to use against Jean-Claude, the King of Vampires in her city, or will she be lulled into a false sense of safety with him? (I'm betting on door number two!)
Right, off to order book three from my friendly neighbourhood public library!
Shakespeare’s plays weren’t meant to be read. They were meant…to be played.
What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits? This choose-your-own-path version of Romeo and Juliet—packed with fun puzzles, secrets, and quadrillions of possible storylines—lets you decide where the plot goes every time you read. You might play as Romeo, or as Juliet, or as both of them at the same time.
This was a fun idea and I really wanted to love it. It reminded me of many of the books that I bought from Scholastic Books during grades 6 and 7, puzzle books, mystery books, that a child could go through multiple times and still find new treats by taking different turns.
I don’t know how many times I started through this choose-your-own-adventure book, trying to actually follow the Bard’s version of the story, only to get distracted by goofy story lines that I just couldn’t pass by. Unfortunately, goofy was the general standard of the various branchings and the writing was a great disappointment. Less silliness and more depth would have been welcome.
I still don’t know if it was even possible to get to the traditional ending of the play. I lost interest in trying after about a dozen attempts.
Though a small town at heart, Lawrenceton, Georgia, has its dark side-and crime buffs. One of whom is librarian Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, a member of the Real Murders Club, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It's a harmless pastime—until the night she finds a member killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. And as other brutal "copycat" killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects-or potential victims.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
A typical Charlaine Harris setting for this mystery series, a small community in the South. As per usual, Harris nails the small town details, the over-entwined lives, the importance of reputation, and the somewhat rigid social roles that people get pigeon-holed into.
Not an overwhelmingly wonderful mystery, but enough to keep me reading quickly right to the end and enough to encourage me to put a hold on the second volume at the library. It also helps that the heroine, Aurora Teagarden, is a librarian, a career near and dear to my heart.
Like so many of Harris’ leading characters, Roe is used to being part of the background. Just like Sookie Stackhouse and Lily Bard, Aurora is overshadowed by the women around her that are deemed more attractive or more normal. Harris seems to enjoy giving these kind of women some power, some male attention, and room to explore what they might actually want from life.
Sometimes a bit of magical help might cost more than you bargained for ...
London is hosting the Carnival Fantastique, and Genny's job has never been busier or more fulfilling. Only not everyone is so happy. Genny believed she'd cracked the fae's infertility curse ... but the fae are still barren. It's a devastating plight to which the mysterious Emperor may have the solution - if Genny can find him.
She needs help.
She turns to the vampire Malik al-Khan, only to find he's wrestling with his own demons and, when the police request Genny's assistance with a magical kidnap, her own problems multiply too. Is it all unconnected, or can the Emperor help her solve more than the fae's infertility? Soon Genny is hard on his trail, so it seems she'll have a chance to ask ... but will the answer cost more than she's willing to pay?
***2017 Summer Lovin' Reading List ***
Under normal circumstances, I read urban fantasy to take a little holiday from the real world and to simply enjoy a story. But Suzanne McLeod refuses to let me coast, she provides a plot of such complexity that I have to pay attention and her characters are down-right Machiavellian in their manipulations of one another.
In her acknowledgements in this volume, she talks about getting to meet Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series and one of the queens of urban fantasy. I enjoyed the Sookie series, but I think that McLeod is head and shoulders above Harris in every aspect—plot, characters, setting, complexity. One of my other favourite authors, Ben Aaronovitch, also appreciates McLeod’s work and their series are set to intersect somehow in a future volume of Spellcrackers.com.
How in the world am I going to fill my time until The Hidden Rune of Iron? (Very much a rhetorical question, as I have an enormous stack of library books waiting for me in my reading nook).
It's late. The phone rings.
The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.
The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago.
What do you do?
Nora Watts isn't sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn't want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her?
But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . .
I’m not sure how this book even got on my TBR list—but it came in at the public library for me last week, so I must have seen something along the way that prompted me to put a hold on it. I’ve obviously had it on hold for some time and now that it’s published, voila!
A woman with a past. Alcoholism. Sexual assault. A baby given up for adoption. Homelessness. Indigenous heritage, making her invisible to the justice system unless it is making life more difficult for her.
And yet she has talents and has carved out a very small place in the world for herself. One phone call shatters all of that progress and plunges Nora Watts back into the world with a vengeance.
I would definitely read another book about Nora. I hope Ms. Kamal finds another story that Nora could tell.
Old habits die hard. And I plan on murdering someone before the night is through.
Killing used to be my regular gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly matters: Mab Monroe, the dangerous Fire elemental who murdered my family when I was thirteen.
Oh, I don’t think the mission will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more problematic than expected. The bitch knows I’m coming for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters she hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keeping Bria safe is my first priority. Taking Mab out is a close second.
Good thing I’ve got my powerful Stone and Ice magic — and my irresistible lover Owen Grayson — to watch my back. This battle has been years in the making, and there’s a chance I won’t survive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s coming with me...no matter what I have to do to make that happen.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
I’m glad this installment actually made some plot progress. The revenge plot actually went somewhere finally in this 5th (!) installment. And the romantic sub-plot seems to have firmed up nicely as well. I like the magic system, I’ve grown accustomed to the environs of Ashland, I like the secondary characters.
I’m so tired of hearing about Gin being an assassin (retired or otherwise), where she keeps her knives (seriously, if you’ve made it this far in the series, you have read that hundreds of times), how Mab Munroe hurt her, what the inside of the Pork Pit looks like, what everybody’s various runes look like, or about Finn & his chicory coffee, just like dear old dad. The obsession with eye colour is also a bit tiring. Does it really matter?
I liked that Gin actually made some realistic mistakes, early in the novel, and has to deal with the fallout. I also appreciated that we finally got some back-story on the Devereau sisters and we now know why they help Gin. I’m a little less gung-ho about Finn & Bria’s new attraction to each other.
The big negative that I can see ahead? There’s going to be no end of the repetition reminding us of what went down with Mab. This will last for at least 4 more books by my reckoning, if not more. Sigh! I like Gin, I like her friends, I like the setting. This could be such an awesome series if an editor was willing to be ruthless.
Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.
Complication One: Her grandfather was Mr. Wainwright and the artifacts are lost somewhere in what is now Jane Jameson's book shop.
Complication Two: her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, who keeps turning up half naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn't need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially when he’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard—can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
An Irish witch on a special mission to Half Moon Hollow. It’s a cute, fun paranormal romance, in Molly Harper’s inimitable style. But it’s the intersection of this story with the continued adventures of Jane Jameson and Dick Cheney that truly made this worthwhile for me. I’m always interested in whatever shenanigans that Dick is enmeshed in and he features heavily in this book.
Half Nola’s adventures, half the Dick & Jane show, there is just enough of each to keep the plot moving along and to keep me smiling. Perhaps a bit predictable, but with enough humour & snark to keep me reading.
Recommended as light, fluffy summer material.
A vampire soldier weary of life...
Centuries ago, Sebastian Wroth was turned into a vampire—a nightmare in his mind—against his will. Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite, fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.
A valkyrie assassin dispatched to destroy him...
When Kaderin the Cold Hearted lost her two beloved sisters to a vampire attack long ago, a benevolent force deadened her sorrow—accidentally extinguishing all of her emotions. Yet whenever she encounters Sebastian, her feelings—particularly lust—emerge multiplied. For the first time, she's unable to complete a kill.
Competitors in a legendary hunt...
The prize of the month-long contest is powerful enough to change history, and Kaderin will do anything to win it for her sisters. Wanting only to win her, forever, Sebastian competes as well, taking every opportunity—as they travel to ancient tombs and through catacombs, seeking relics around the world—to use her new feelings to seduce her. But when forced to choose between the vampire she's falling for and reuniting her family, how can Kaderin live without either?
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
I’m not sure why I did this to myself? I gave Kresley Cole a second chance, after the less-than-stellar A Hunger Like No Other. I did like this one infinitesimally better than that one, but I don’t think she will get a third chance.
I like the idea of Valkyries as characters—warrior women who kick ass and take names. The whole world of the Lore has potential. There’s some humour in these novels too, that I can appreciate. It’s just that the plots are soooo thin, like tissue paper, just the basics to string together the sex scenes. And those are hot, but there are so many of them.
Now if that’s what you are reading the book for, your star rating will be higher than mine. However, I like a little plot to go along with my romance.
So I think I know what I will be doing this weekend! I've been fighting with a nasty cold ever since I got home from Seattle, so I'm hoping to catch up on my sleep as well as get the necessary laundry, cooking, and housekeeping done.
But, I have Thunder Heights on interlibrary loan, so it can't be renewed. Also, No Rest for the Wicked and Darkfever have holds on them, so I'll have to return them soon, too.
After those three, I'll be able to pick & choose.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…
Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.
As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.
Well, I slurped that down in one evening flat! And it was delightful. I will no doubt read it again, savouring it more slowly.
All the signs point to the Hidden Legacy series consisting of only 3 books. But there are so many things that just call out for more volumes! Leon finally has found his magic and started to use it. Arabella and Catalina have been required to use their talents too. I need to know more about all of them.
Plus, the big conspiracy theory that has been behind all three novels hasn’t been fully explored yet. Sure, the conspirators sustain a lot of damage during the course of Wildfire, but we still don’t know who the criminal mastermind is.
The whole “becoming a House” process has just begun, and there are bound to me challenges. I want to know what those issues are! And how do Nevada & family cope with Evil Grandma?
Not to mention that I just enjoy Nevada’s family and would be interested in whatever crazy things they were doing. And although Nevada and Connor may seem like a done deal, those two will always have challenges and I want to witness those.
Please, Ilona & Gordon, tell me there will be more books in the Hidden Legacy world!!!