Gone missing?

Tree-of-Books-books-to-read-683854_1600_1200

It has been over a month since my last post.  I’ve been traveling, spending time outside away from my computer and dealing with a minor health issue.  I have also been reading, loving what I read and finding it difficult to write about the books I’ve finished.  You can see the books on Goodreads.  My user name is Gavin9.

Even with all that keeping me busy, it is obvious to me that I’m just not into keeping up with this blog.  I am reading your posts,  finding time to visit your blogs and sometime leave comments.   I will continue to do so.  I hope to revive my poetry blog and occasionally I post something on tumblr, so you are welcome to visit those place.  For now be well, be happy and keep reading!

Gavin

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Iainbanks

Iain M. Banks 2/16/1954 - 6/9/2013

Iain M. Banks 2/16/1954 – 6/9/2013

 

According to a post at the Daily Minor Planet website Iain Banks now has an asteroid named after him.  I’m sure he would be very pleased.

The official citation for the asteroid reads:

Iain M. Banks (1954-2013) was a Scottish writer best known for the Culture series of science fiction novels; he also wrote fiction as Iain Banks. An evangelical atheist and lover of whisky, he scorned social media and enjoyed writing music. He was an extra in Monty Python & The Holy Grail.

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Filed under Authors, Iain M. Banks, RandomPost

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

0316216852.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Mulholland Books, New York 2013

Borrowed from my library.

First I read Zoo City.  Then I read Moxyland.  I have been waiting for this one to come out since I first heard Lauren Beukes had another novel being published in the US.  Boy, was it ever worth the wait.  This is a thriller, a murder mystery.  Very enthralling and very creepy.

A killer find a key.  The key opens the door to a house.  The house opens the door to time.  The girls shine.

A young girl meets a stranger.  Years later, she is attacked and almost killed.  When she recovers she is obsessed with finding her attacker.

The Shining Girls grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.  It’s a time travel story unlike any I have read, with a structure like a house of mirrors, dark, frightening and constantly driving towards a resolution.  I loved it.  I think it could be this year’s Gone Girl.

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Filed under Books, Mystery, SciFi, Thoughts, Thriller

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

1401340873.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Hyperion, New York, 2012

Borrowed from my library.  I’ve had this one on my TBR list for a while. I must admit I was a bit nervous about reading it.  The time and place could part of my personal story and, having found Groff’s The Monster of Templeton a bit unbalanced, I wasn’t sure how she would portray this slice of American history.  I needn’t have worried.

Arcadia is Ridley Sorrel Stone’s story.  Known as Bit, born in a van traveling with a caravan of trucks, buses and VWs searching for paradise, this child grows up in a commune known as Arcadia.  Acreage filled with fields and forest and a run-down mansion in upstate New York, lead by musician/guru Handy and overflowing with mid-wives, farmers, bakers and those lost to mind-bending drugs, Arcadia grows and changes along with Bit and his parents, Hannah and Abe.

When Bit closes his eyes, he can see what Abe can see,how Arcadia spreads below him: the garden where the other children push corn, bean seeds into the rows,the Pond. The fresh plowed corduroy fields, workers like burdocks stuck to them.  Amos the Amish’s red barn, tiny in the distance.  The roll of the forest tucked up under the hills.  And whatever is beyond: cities of glass, of steel.  from page 80.

This could have been over the top, but Groff handles it gently, in a kind and balanced way.  Her writing is vivid, both in depicting Arcadia, the falling-down and rebuilt mansion, and in telling the stories of the people who live there .  In reality, not all people living on communes were dysfunctional, some where completely committed to building a new way of living and being.  As Bit grows up and ventures into the “real” world he takes the lessons learned from his parents, his “extended” family and Arcadia with him.

I enjoyed Arcadia, it will be on my Best of 2013 list, and I look forward to reading more from Lauren Groff.  In skimming some comments about this novel on GoodReads, I saw several references to “dirty hippies”.  Can I say that I find this term highly offensive?  Want to talk about it?

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Filed under America, Books, Historical Fiction, LiteraryFiction, Thoughts

The 7th Canadian Book Challenge

Brought to us by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set, this is a challenge to read books by Canadian authors or about our neighbors to the north.  I am hoping this will get me back into writing about books I love.  Information about the challenge and how to join in can be found here.

7thCanadian

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What I’ve been reading…

I know, it has been a while.  Work, life and a broken laptop.  What else can I say.   I did manage to get through the TBR Double Dog Dare and read 24 books, not quite as many as I had hoped.  Once again, James has inspired me to continue plowing through the piles of unread books I have sitting on shelves and stacked in corners.

I am getting ready for another camping trip with the children and another season of hanging out at the beach, introducing folks to the rich diversity of animals that live in Puget Sound.  I’m not sure what the summer will bring.

As for what I have been reading:

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow WilsonAlif_

Grove Press, New York, 2012

Borrowed from my public library.

A surprising combination of middle-eastern fantasy and cyberpunk.  The story takes place in an unnamed country whose government is turning into an ultra-high level security state.  Internet activists are finding ways to expose corruption and abuse.  The backlash is all too familiar. Alif, a talented hacker, find himself running from state security and dealing with creatures he cannot believe exist.

Filled with djinn, demons and a land only accessible by magic,  layered with high-tech and folklore, this was a fun read.

The Antagonist by Lynn Coadycoady

Knopf, New York, 2013

Borrowed from my library.

I’ve read Lynn Coady before and was impressed.  When this novel was short-listed for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller prize and I learned it was being published in the US, I put it on my hold list at the library.

The Antagonist is “quirky” and only an author with Coady’s skill and daring can pull this kind of thing off.  When Gordon Rankin, known as Rank, picks up a novel written by Adam, an old college friend and discovers it seems to be a thinly veiled fiction about his life he grows irate.  In a series of emails, he rants at Adam and, through those rants,  slowly unburies his own memories and untwists his own story.  Again, as in her collection of short stories, Coady creates a rough, crude and intimidating character that I couldn’t help liking.  I love how this women writes.  The Antagonist will be in my top ten books of 2013.

I’ve also just finished Home by Toni Morrison and Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran.  That one has me anxiously awaiting the second book in this mystery series, Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway, due out in June.

Enough for now.  What have you read lately that really grabbed you?

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Filed under Bookish, Books, Short Reviews, Thoughts

At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

beesAt the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

Small Beer Press, Easthampton, MA 2012

From my TBR pile.  Kij Johnson has won the Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Nebula awards.  This is an odd and moving collection by one of my favorite authors and goes onto my Best of 2013 list.

It is unusual to come across a collection of stories that is  emotionally deep and, at the same time, chilling and even horrific.  I have loved Johnson’s writing since I read The Fox Woman years ago and ordered this book as soon as I heard about it.  Not keeping up with fantasy publications,  none of these were familiar to me.  I find them difficult to describe.  Most feature animals, there are aliens and most feature humans in all their strange and convoluted glory.

All moments are this moment.  Past and future jumble together: Jingu cannot say which is which.  And because everything — sorrow and anger and love and grief — is equally immediate, she finds herself strangely distanced from her own life.  It is as though she listens to a storyteller recite a tale she has heard too many times, the tale of the empress Jingu.  From The Empress Jingu Fishes, page 109.

Built with elements of folk and fairy tales, mythology and science fiction, the stories bend and twist out of those forms and enter what I consider the realm of slipstream.  Some are are made of memory and there are often stories within stories.   Johnson travels to unfamiliar places, even for fantasy.   I find myself wanting to follow her, as long as I am sure I know the way back.

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Filed under 2013 Challenges, DarkFantasy, Fantasy, Once Upon A Time VII, StoryCollection