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).
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.
But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.
I read this book to fill the Creepy Crawlies square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
I never thought I would ever say this: I wish this book had been scarier. I’m not a horror reader, generally speaking, although I’ve been gradually developing a bit of a taste for the genre. If I had to describe this one, I would tell you that it’s like a mash-up ofFrankenstein, The Girl With All the Gifts, and Jurassic Park (but substitute tapeworms for dinosaurs).
Mira Grant is the horror writing alter-ego of one of my favourite authors, Seanan McGuire. I was genuinely creeped out by her bookInto the Drowning Deep with it’s dark twist on mermaids. I have herNewsflesh trilogy in the future of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project. But I was disappointed with this novel when I had guessed at about the halfway mark exactly what was going on. Not that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book, but I just couldn’t imagine any reader being fooled beyond that point.
What I did appreciate was the basis in science--I’ve read about the Hygiene Hypothesis (roughly, we’re too clean and our immune systems are developing autoimmune diseases just to have something to do). Also that we evolved to deal with internal parasites and they evolved to calm our immune systems in order to survive. Too clean and no calming parasites equals allergies, food sensitivities, and self-destroying syndromes.
Like so many twenty first century stories, this book is filled with conspiracy theories--it’s difficult to choose between them. Should we believe SymboGen with their bio-engineered tapeworms, or the renegade scientist with her own version, or Sal’s father who works for the military? They all have their own takes on things, leaving Sal wondering who really has her back or if all of them are against her or using her. A paranoid story for paranoid times.
I guess I’m over conspiracy theories and although the tapeworms were a bit squicky, I didn’t find them horrifying. Perhaps a side effect of having been a biology major early in my university career. So although I am loathe to say that I didn’t like something written by an adored author, I don’t think I’ll be bothering with the sequel toParasite.
Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
Remarkably fun! I love good Urban Fantasy and I’m coming to love the Victorian London steampunk type of that genre as well. I had to wonder at the end of the first book where there was for the author to take things--once the happy couple are married, you risk losing the tension in a series. So Carriger does the sensible thing, she devises problems for the happy couple.
What problems, you ask? Well, how about a mysterious loss of supernatural powers for vampires and werewolves? The unexplained movement of this crippling area of magical suppression. Lord Maccon sneaking off to his familial home in Scotland while his regiment lands on Alexia’s front lawn in London. Plus, Ivey Hisselpenny, Alexia’s BFF, has become engaged, but is in love with a most unsuitable man. Alexia, being Soulless, can cope with the werewolves more easily than with unrequited love.
Carriger leaves us with a mysterious ending--I will definitely be reading Blameless to see how she intends (or if she intends) to fix things up!
Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong.
When the Luidaeg—October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price...or face the consequences.
Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour.
Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy spending time in October Daye’s world--the land of Faerie right adjacent to our own world. Where Hobs, Pixies, and Brownies (among many others) inhabit the land and Mermaids, Selkies, and octopus-headed Cephali live undersea in the Kingdom of Saltmist. I keep meaning to find some books on fairy folklore to brush up on my fae identification skills.
This book features the Luidaeg (the Sea Witch) prominently. As one of the First Born of Faerie, she has awesome powers and anyone with any sense is scared witless of her. Except for our dear Toby, who has seen through the Luidaeg’s thorny disguise to the caring person on the inside. Controlled by a geas laid on her by one of her sisters, the Luidaeg is compelled to only tell the truth and to help those who request assistance, although she is allowed to charge high prices for that help.
This is the point where shit gets real if you are a Selkie--the Sea Witch is calling in their chips and calling on Toby to seal the deal. Toby has a soft spot for the Selkies--her first fiance was Connor, a Selkie. Selkies also straddle the line between humanity and the Fae, just as Changelings do, so Toby can relate to that too. The trick is to find a way to both let the Luidaeg keep her word and to let her be merciful.
Seanan McGuire’s inventiveness never fails to please me. I am so glad that the next book is set up in the plot of this one. Forget Finding Nemo, we’re going to be Finding Simon.
If I have any frustration with this series, its the constant irritation of October’s estranged daughter, Gillian. October has been rejected by her, her father & step-mother (who, curiously is also October’s grandmother) for reasons that seem spurious to me. Toby has saved her repeatedly and gets zero credit for it. I’m not sure where McGuire is headed with this particular plot line, but I’m sure it’s not random. OMG, I’m like a soap-opera fan, I must tune in to the next installment to see what happens.
Please keep writing, Ms. McGuire! I will keep reading.
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
I read this book to fill the Magical Realism square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
Wow. Toni Morrison writes gorgeously about an ugly reality. If her writing was any less majestic, it would be difficult to make it to the end of the book. The situations she describes are searing in their intensity. As it was, I found I had to take my time. Read a chapter, then rest and reflect. Read another chapter. Repeat. This wasn’t a book that I could hurry through.
It is an unflinching look at slavery and freedom. An examination of what exactly freedom means and doesn’t mean. It is horrifying and despairing and hopeful. Beloved haunts this family as slavery haunts our society.
I recommend it to everyone. It is a powerful book and well worth your time. Take your time and really feel it. Another good book on the same subject is Kindred by Octavia Butler. Very different but also worthwhile.
Headstrong and beautiful, the young housemaid Sally Jupp is put rudely in her place, strangled in her bed behind a bolted door. Coolly brilliant policeman Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard must find her killer among a houseful of suspects, most of whom had very good reason to wish her ill.
I read this book to fill the International Woman of Mystery square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
This is my first foray into P.D. James’ mystery writing and I was pleasantly impressed. I can certainly see a relationship to the works of Agatha Christie--but I guess it is virtually impossible to write in this genre without paying homage to both her and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. What James does so well is to make me feel like I truly know the people that she is writing about. They aren’t just cardboard cut-outs, they are fully realized people with their own motivations and prejudices. They are part of their community, well known and involved.
What she also captures so well, in my opinion, is the way that society was changing in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Class was becoming less meaningful and less respected. Sexual mores were already shifting and loosening. Charity from upper class people was less valued and more resented.
In Dalgleish himself, I see the roots of another favourite detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, written by Louise Penny. They are both quiet, introspective, intellectual men who have good taste and good sense. I didn’t get to know Adam Dalgliesh as well as I would like to in this first book, but I will certainly go on to the next book to see if I can remedy that situation.
Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.
Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself - and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.
I read this book to fill the Darkest London square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
I have rated all three books in this series so far at 4 stars, because I really enjoyed them. However, the first book still reigns supreme for me. This one, book 3, is better than the second one, but still not as much fun as book one. I miss the boarding school surroundings and Rory’s dread of field hockey. And Claudia. I miss Claudia.
Still, it’s a very good story, with suitably spooky Sid & Sadie waiting in the wings to use Rory’s talents. Plus the rather unappealing Thorpe, who now heads the team while Stephen is out of commission. I was happy to have Jerome reappear and he still has Rory’s back. Stephen is an unknown quantity at this point--after all that he has been through, will he be able to relate to Rory at all? I’m unapologetically on Team Jerome, but I’m probably in the minority on that one.
I’ll definitely read book four when/if it becomes available. I keep being surprised at how much I enjoy Young Adult literature, but I keep finding series like this one, which are well written, suspenseful, and deal with subjects and situations that interest me.
His great battles against the sea raiders in the Nile Delta have left Pharoah Tuthmosis II frail, but he finds solace in victory and in the welcome he is sure to receive on his return to Thebes. Across the river from Thebes, however, there are those who do not relish his homecoming, and a group of assassins has taken a witch to pollute the Pharaoh's unfinished tomb. Reunited with his wife, Hatusu, and his people, Tuthmosis stands before the statue of Amun-Ra, the roar of the crowd and the fanfare of trumpets ringing in his ears. But within an hour he is dead and the people of Thebes cannot forget the omen of wounded doves flying overhead. Rumours run rife, speculation sweeps the royal city and Hatusu vows to uncover the truth. With the aid of Amerotke, a respected judge of Thebes, she embarks on a path destined to reveal the great secrets of Egypt.
I read this book to fill the Murder Most Foul square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
I’ve always been a fan of Ancient Egypt and so I was quite excited to try this ancient historical mystery to see if it would engage me like Pauline Gedge’s fiction does. Her novel Child of the Morning, deals with the same Pharaoh and Queen (Hatshepsut, called Hatusu in this novel).
Perhaps because I had high hopes, I was a bit underwhelmed by this mystery. I loaned this book to a friend for airport reading back in May. She experienced the same feeling and we both found that the writing was good, but overly cluttered with detail. Every table, every piece of clothing, every dish, gets described in loving detail. We get it, Mr. Doherty, you did your research.
The mystery itself was well written. When the murderer was revealed, I was completely surprised. If the next book came easily to hand, I would possibly read it. Unfortunately, my public library does not have the second volume and I am not motivated enough to go scour the used book stores for it, so this will probably end my reading about Amerotke. However, I’m still going to give his Brother Athelstan series a try. Also, I will see if I can shoehorn some Egyptian history into my reading schedule. If I’m to read all the details of life in that period, I’d rather read it as history rather than fiction.
OMG, what gorgeous writing! A pleasure to read despite the difficulty stomaching the subject matter. So hard and yet so beautiful.
Yesterday was a gray, rainy day, at least to begin with. But if you let the weather control your life, you'll never go anywhere.
Greater White Fronted Geese, east of Calgary
Canada Geese in the flock too
A Swainson's Hawk prepares for take off
Lake MacGregor Provincial Recreation Area
Western Grebes on Lake MacGregor
Someone was moving house, quite literally. Caused some uproar on the highway!
Wyndham Carseland Provincial Park
Wyndham Carseland Provincial Park
Wyndham Carseland Provincial Park
Young Red Tailed Hawk
We saw so many hawks yesterday--they are massing for migration. By the day's end, it was warm and sunny and I'm so glad we braved the rainy morning and went out.
Have a great weekend, my friends.
Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…
You’re not safe anywhere now.
Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.
But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.
n excellent follow-up to the first volume, Stillhouse Lake. At the end of that first book, Gwen’s creepy, scary ex-husband & notorious serial killer, Melvin Royal has escaped from death row in Witchita and he could be anywhere. He underlines that uncertainty by texting her : You’re not safe anywhere now
Caine manages to maintain the tension in this second volume, ratcheting up the pressure on Gwen, who decides that she can no longer passively flee from her husband and the army of internet trolls and criminals who are making her life a living hell and threatening her children. With the support of a few friends and allies, she will turn the tables and hunt her ex-husband.
Gwen gets put through the wringer--Caine thinks up torments for her that are believable, but harrowing. I couldn’t put the book down, I had to know what happened. Some elements are predictable, but the author manages to give them her own twist that makes them feel right for this situation.
At the end of each book, Caine allows you to relax your vigilance just a little, giving a feeling of completion. However, unresolved elements of the story encourage the reader on to the next volume. I, for example, have now requested the third book from my library and I’ll be hard pressed not to read it immediately when it comes in!
The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom ('Moth' from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it's finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and "gardien de sorts" (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan's high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions--and in guarding the secrets of their clients.
All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor's apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?
Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches' tug-of-war over what's best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.
I read this book to fill the Spellbound square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
I first became aware of Ami McKay last Christmas, when I read the novella Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide. That little taste of this world convinced me to choose this book for Halloween Bingo. I am pleased that I was able to include it.
I really love the atmosphere of this book and the novella. The magic is so much an accepted part of this world that you don’t even question whether it exists or not. It does and all the characters believe in it without reservation. The writing is deft and delicate without being fragile, which is good as serious topics are dealt with. One of those is the continuous relationship between witchcraft and organized religion. Another is the nature of friendship and other bonds between people. Also, the nature of life after death.
It makes me want to plant an herb garden, to spend more time outdoors, to write in my journal. It makes me wish that I could go to New York to visit these women and have tea in their shop. I do hope that there may be more books to come, as I would happily re-visit this version of New York again.
Sabrina has never been the superstitious type. Still, when she moves to Lavender, Texas, to write her first novel and help her Aunt Rowe manage her vacation rental business, Sabrina can’t avoid listening to the rumors that a local black cat is a jinx—especially after the stray in question leads her directly to the scene of a murder.
The deceased turns out to be none other than her Aunt Rowe’s awful cousin Bobby Joe Flowers, a known cheat and womanizer who had no shortage of enemies. The only problem is that Aunt Rowe and Bobby Joe had quarreled just before the cousin turned up dead, leaving Rowe at the top of the long list of suspects. Now it’s up to Sabrina to clear her aunt’s name. Luckily for her, she’s got a new sidekick, Hitchcock the Bad Luck Cat, to help her sniff out clues and stalk a killer before Aunt Rowe winds up the victim of even more misfortune…
I read this book to fill the Black Cat square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
This is a serviceable little cozy mystery. I generally enjoyed the mystery portion, but there were a couple of things that rubbed me the wrong way. The first was the protagonist, Sabrina Tate. She is depicted as absolutely unable to hold focus on anything. She is an aspiring author, but when it comes time to write, she’s worried about the mystery. When she’s investigating the mystery, she’s worried that she’s not writing. And her worries about a stray cat trump both and drag her around by the nose. I just can’t envision someone like this getting a book deal as easily and smoothly as happens in this novel.
My second problem with the whole situation is the whole “I must help the police or they will make a horrible mistake” assumption in the book. Now maybe I’m a naive Canadian, but I believe that the police are far better at investigating homicide than a scatter-brain like Sabrina. She just flails around asking annoying questions until other people want to hurt her. Her Aunt Rowe has a much more realistic attitude, repeatedly telling her to leave it to the police and they will sort things out.
So, with that off my chest, we can proceed to the things that I like. I did enjoy the cat escapades. Hitchcock was a great furry character. And I’m enjoying the foreshadowed romance coming between Sabrina and the cowboy Griffith. If I need to read a Black Cat book next Halloween, I can see myself reading the next book in this series for that purpose.
Visiting her family’s South Carolina estate, socialite Gray Godfrey wakes from a night out to an empty bed. Her husband Paul is gone and a thrashing hangover has wiped her memory clean. At first, she’s relieved for the break from her tumultuous marriage; perhaps Paul just needed some space. But when his car is found abandoned on the highway, Gray must face the truth: Paul is gone. And Gray may not want him found.
Her life is unraveling.
When a stranger named Annie calls claiming to know Paul’s whereabouts, Gray reluctantly accepts her help. But this ally is not what she seems: soon Annie is sending frightening messages and revealing disturbing secrets only Gray could know. As Annie’s threats escalate and Gray’s grip on reality begins to slip, the life she thought she had and the dark truth she’s been living begin to merge, leaving an unsettling question: What does Annie want? And what will she do to get it?
I read this book to fill the Psych square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
This summer, I attended a readers & writers conference and enjoyed a panel discussion at which this author was a member. He made sharp, funny comments and I immediately decided that I wanted to read his novel.
Mr. Vernon, you have a dark & twisty mind. I like. This is a domestic noir that gives books like The Girl on the Train a run for its money. Every now and then, I’d think that I had things figured out. How silly of me! He even gets one more jab in during the very last paragraph!
A very entertaining psychological thriller. Mr. Vernon, I hope there are more books coming because I will read them with pleasure.
On April 1, 1930, Jonathan Ketchem's wife Jane walked from her house to the police department to ask for help in finding her husband. The men, worn out from a night of chasing bootleggers, did what they could. But no one ever saw Jonathan Ketchem again...
Now decades later, someone else is missing in Miller's Kill, NY. This time it's the physician of the clinic that bears the Ketchem name. Suspicion falls on a volatile single mother with a grudge against the doctor, but Reverend Clare Fergusson isn't convinced. As Clare and Russ investigate, they discover that the doctor's disappearance is linked to a bloody trail going all the way back to the hardscrabble Prohibition era. As they draw ever closer to the truth, their attraction for each other grows increasingly more difficult to resist. And their search threatens to uncover secrets that snake from one generation to the next--and to someone who's ready to kill.
I am really enjoying this series despite the fact that I’m having to use interlibrary loan to get a hold of this one and the next volume. Once I’ve read that one, they’re all available here locally and I can binge read them if I decide to.
I love the use of history here--linking the present to the past in meaningful ways. As a genealogist, I’ve found that a family’s past can sometimes explain current problems. At least in my own family, it has. We can’t easily escape the ties of past events unless we understand what’s going on and make a conscious decision to change things.
The other aspect that really appeals to me is the relationship between Claire and Russ. They are trying so hard to keep it at friendship. Both are honourable people and their reputations are important to them, but it’s becoming obvious in this volume that there is a certain amount of gossip going on regarding the exact nature of their bond. It doesn’t help that fate keeps putting them in positions where they are bound to be tempted. It’s agonizing slow-motion, keeping the tension tight and I’m finding that irresistible!
With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it's worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.
The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.
Fabulous! This is going out with a bang, rather than a whimper! I am not sure what it says about me that I adore dark fantasy, with plenty of battles, plots, backstabby treacherousness, and ingenious weapons. And don’t forget the Great Library! Having worked my whole career in libraries, they are near and dear to my heart.
This volume reduced me to emotional tatters by its end. I shed plenty of tears and just sat staring into space for a while after I finished it. What a ride!
Ms. Caine, you have certainly figured out how to make me into a happy reader. Between this series, the Stillhouse Lake series and the Honors series, I am overwhelmed with good choices for future reading. Long may you write!
Librarian. Assassin. Vampire.
Amber Fang enjoys life's simple pleasures - a good book, a glass of wine and, of course, a great meal.
Raised to eat ethically, Amber dines only on delicious, cold-blooded killers. But being sure they're actually killers takes time... research... patience.
It's a good thing Amber's a librarian. Her extraordinary skills help her hunt down her prey, seek out other vampires, and stay on the trail of her mother, missing now for two years. One day she stalks a rather tasty-looking murderer and things get messy. Very messy. Amber, the hunter, becomes the hunted.
And then, from out of nowhere, the perfect job offer: Assassin. She'd be paid to eat the world's worst butchers. How ideal.
Until it isn't.
I read this book to fill the Vampires square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
This is a cute and irreverent frolic through the vampire mythos. Amber Fang was a sheltered young vampire, raised by a mother who believed in ethical eating--only remorseless killers allowed. Good thing that Amber was well into her Library Science degree and has mad researching skills.
Amber would obviously like to believe that she is at the top of the food chain. She reminds me of all the anthropological literature that makes the claim that humans are the world’s apex predator, when really if you turned most of us out into the wild, we would quickly expire from hunger & exposure!
Bonus points for the Icelandic librarian who moonlights as a sniper! My dream combination, violent little fantasist than I am.
I bought this book because I really wanted to support its author, Arthur Slade. Mr. Slade came to a book conference that I regularly attend and I was struck by what a decent guy he is. I think he gave this vampire tale a very playful twist and I’ll see if I can find his other two Amber Fang books.