Featured Slider

Book Review: The Possession of Paavo Deshin by Kristine Kathryn Rusch


The Possession of Paavo Deshin by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: WMG Publishing

This is one more short from the Retrieval Artist series that I had in my ebook library that went overlooked when I read the series. I enjoyed it so much, I wished it were longer or expanded to be part of the wider work.

Paavo Deshin, son of Luc Deshin (who figures into the main series) is central to this story as the little boy is being "haunted" by what he perceived as ghosts until one day while at the Aristotle Academy, it's made abundantly clear, they're quite real. Enter, Miles Flint, the main character of the series and the one whose appearance elevates the story by several notches. He's brought in on the investigation into how security was breached at the Aristotle Academy. It's a case that basically brings him out of retirement because his daughter Talia, attends the same school and he's as concerned as the headmistress and the Deshins. There's one more player on the board and that added to the tension and also gave another perspective on the sides taken between the Deshins and Paavo's "ghosts". I didn't know how this was going to resolved because truth be told, there aren't a lot of happy endings in this universe when it comes to Disappeards and anyone connected to them. All in all, this made me miss the series and again, recall it fondly.

Recommended.

Summary: All of his short life, Paavo Deshin has seen ghosts. The same two ghosts who have now approached him on the school playground, ghosts who look older and actually smell bad. Paavo’s cry for help brings the authorities, a few lawyers, and Retrieval Artist Miles Flint, who learns some secrets about the ghosts—and about Paavo’s parents. This short stand-alone science fiction novel in the Retrieval Artist series received a Special Mention from the prestigious international UPC contest.




Book Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood


The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (3 stars)
Publisher: Chatto & Windus

I'm torn between 3 and 4 stars. And I can't tell you how much that saddens me.

This began wonderfully and Aunt Lydia really saved the whole thing for me so I'm very glad I've read it. But here's the thing, I was never in this for what happened to OfFred's baby Nicole. I cared more what happened to her first child that was taken from her but that's not what made me want to know more at the end of The Handmaid's Tale. I was always most interested in Gilead and how this society took over and took shape (who are these Sons of Jacob who attacked & liquidated Congress... like, what does that even mean?! I need details!). I was relishing learning how it falls and seeing it happen. Well, that's hinted at, glossed over and it's stated it does indeed fall but there's nothing here to show it. And that was profoundly disappointing to this reader.

I should also say, I've only watched the first season of the series (I have to pace myself with intake of misery porn & borderline misery porn between books & television) and this may well read differently for those who have watched more of the series. I showed up for strictly the book Gilead and I don't think The Testaments is just an answer for that.

I've mentioned that Aunt Lydia was the saving grace for me, so I should also say the real drag in the story was Daisy aka Baby Nicole. She was exceedingly tedious and I had a very difficult time buying her and buying the fact that she'd survive given the stakes. She never seemed to really understand the danger or gravity of the situation into which she was thrust. She did at least convince me that Gilead was indeed on the cusp of its nadir as she wasn't summarily dispatched. Agnes Jemima was much more tolerable and not just because she was in her early twenties for much of her recounting. I understood her actions and thinking and even empathized with her given the circumstances. Her friend Becka aka Aunt Immortelle was, of the three young women the one who I will remember most fondly. She was pathos personified.

Also to the good were moments of wry wit and some truly memorable quotes that will remain with me. Atwood has a turn of phrase that demands notice. Recommended, even though you can't go home again. Not even to the hellscapes.

Some of my favourite quotes:

"I was pleased with this story. Ir was only later that I pondered it" how could Job have allowed God to fob off a batch of new children on him and expect him to pretend that the dead ones no longer mattered?" It's always nice to see a character voice a long-held opinion of your own.

"The strain of being in a strange and debilitating environment, such as Canada, can have that effect."

"Not for nothing do we at Ardua Hall say "Pen is Envy."

"Reading was not for girls; only men were strong enough to deal with the force of it; and the Aunts, of course, because they weren't like us."

"All things come to she who waits. Time wounds all heels. Patience is a virtue. Vengeance is mine."

"What am I doing here? I thought. This place is weird as fuck."

"The truth can cause a lot of trouble for those who are not supposed to know it."

From the Afterword:

"How did Gilead fall? The Testaments was written in response to this question. Totalitarianism may crumble from within, as they fail to keep the promises that brought them to power, or they may be attacked from without; or both. There are no surefire formulas since very little in history is inevitable."


Summary: More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.
As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.




Book Review: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig


Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Del Rey

When I'd heard about this one, I knew I wanted to read it. Would I like a little humankind on the cusp of the apocalypse owing to some mystery illness that's "zombified" a segment of the population and a contentious political season in America? Yes, please. Few things I'd rather read more on a sunny day with hours to wend away. It was an easy sell for me so as soon as it came out, I bought it. Then I realized it was an 800+ tome. No problem, that just moved it over to my vacation read list.

This did not disappoint and I toted this everywhere (beach, pool, lunch). The characters were a bit better than stock but with a large enough cast, it reminded me of Justin Cronin's The Passage and also Peng Shepherd's The Book of M . I had a couple of favourite characters in former police officer, Marcy Reyes and CDC scientist, Cassie. Pretty much the entire thread of the scientists working to figure out what was going on epidemiologically was what most propelled me. The pace was quite good and I zipped right along, wanting to get right back to it when I'd had to put it down. There are some seriously dark turns here that I wasn't expecting but points for unpredictability. I was skeeved. Also, if like me you've been forever scarred by Seanan McGuire's stories about viral outbreaks with spores, molds & fruiting bodies, steel yourself. I'm a woman of science but the cringe is real on that one. I don't even want to talk about it here, but there's your warning. There is plenty of hope and humans at their best too. I highlit a fair number of passages and even had a few laughs. It's not perfect (some of the political times captured herein, could wear on some) but I found it darn near unputdownable. This was my first by Wendig and I'd definitely read another. This is one of my favourites for 2019.

Recommended (in ebook form, because 800+ pages, people!).



Summary: Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.
For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.


Book Review: The Impossibles (Retrieval Artist #9.5) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch


The Impossibles by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
My rating: 4 stars
Publisher: WMG Publishing

On a recent peruse of my out of control ebook library, I realized that there were a couple of shorts from The Retrieval Artist series that I hadn't read. Reading this served to remedy that oversight & also help me to move a couple of additional ebooks over to the finished column.

This takes us back to Kerrie's beginnings as a lawyer. I remembered her from the series so this was a nice look in that explained her trajectory a bit. The haul in the Earth Alliance InterSpecies Court for the First District is the most unenviable and soul-crushing branch in the Multicultural Tribunal System and she's almost clear of having put in her time to work off those student loans (clearly, the student debt load life of penury doesn't get sorted in this future). One morning, she takes on a case in exchange for shifting some of her own and this case is the one that changes everything. I won't give away any spoilers but it's a good twist and that coupled with the reason she gets this particular case, was well done. I quite liked this one. I don't know if I'd have felt differently if I'd read this while reading the series but as I already knew the main character, it was worth the read. Recommended for fans of the series.


Summary: Short Side Story in the Retrieval Artist series. Set in The Judicial System of the Earth-Alien Alliance. Miles does not appear.
To pay off her law school debts, Kerrie works in the public defender’s office at the Interspecies Court. She has more clients than she can defend, most of them from cultures she does not understand. The public defender’s office loses almost all of its cases, but sometimes it gets a win. Kerrie thinks she has a winner. But does she? Or will winning the case mean she loses at everything else?
To pay off her law school debts, Kerrie works in the public defender’s office at the Interspecies Court. She has more clients than she can defend, most of them from cultures she does not understand. The public defender’s office loses almost all of its cases, but sometimes it gets a win. Kerrie thinks she has a winner. But does she? Or will winning the case mean she loses at everything else?




Book Review: The Arrangement by Robyn Harding


The Arrangement by Robyn Harding
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Scout Press

Book review lovers, my review posting hiatus has come to an end (as autumn is upon us) so let's get right to my review of The Arrangement by Robyn Harding.

The salaciousness of the Sugar Baby/Sugar Daddy dynamic aside, this was a story that was compulsively readable and also ended up making me ever grateful for the father I drew in the cosmic lottery.

Nat's relationship with her father spilled over into every part of her disastrous life and while it was compelling to read it struck me as profoundly sad. There are likely women who have good paternal relationships who take up this lifestyle but Nat was truly a cautionary tale. Her relationship with her mother wasn't good either and that didn't help. Grant also plays as ghost father to his own daughter and that too led to disastrous results. Though he felt the one who'd been abandoned and done wrong himself. Truly a selfish guy, awful father and crappy husband. Quite the accomplishment.

It turned out that I'd figured out the "Whodunnit" in the murder but relating the "How" was very well done. As a book that opens with the fact of a murder and a character already copping to it, the tension was pretty well done. I read this at a crack-fic speed, which was great as I was on vacay. The author had some deft and memorable lines that I very much enjoyed. I'd happily read another by Robyn Harding.

Recommended.

Summary: Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favours are optional.
Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.
So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.






Book Review: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo


The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
My rating: 2 stars (🌟🌟)
Publisher: Headline

It's been a while since I've read a post-apocalyptic book that I didn't much enjoy but here it is. I enjoyed the idea of The Feed and how most people were users to the detriment of face to face human interaction, the ability to read and write and all kinds of other things. So much dependency and then one day, it crashes and so does civilization. Perfect set up. All of that was fascinating.

Book Review: Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg


Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg
My rating: 3 stars (🌟🌟🌟)
Publisher: William Morrow

I had high hopes for this one but alas it wasn't a stunner. This also had the hook of a political family, so I was really excited. I've been having bad luck with the thriller end of mysteries of late. My expectations are high and there are so many that I'm running into more middling than magnificent. Here, the biggest problem was the main character, Finn. She was the sort of character that often did things that made no sense and it became quite clear early on that the story needed her to do that for there to be a story. Without her withholding info and making incomprehensible decisions for "reasons" this would have been a novella. Still, I persisted reading because I kept thinking it'd turn around.