Category Archives: Thoughts

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.

Advertisements

6 Comments

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?

6 Comments

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

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?

18 Comments

Filed under Bookish, Books, Short Reviews, Thoughts

Reading and Blogging

kids-readingI’ve found myself far from the computer lately, having to reevaluate my reading and my blogging.

I’ve been reading, mostly non-fiction, some science fiction for a couple of challenges, and some older titles off my TBR stacks.  What I’m finding is I don’t seem to have a lot to say about these books right now.  Maybe my brain is tired, stress at work, stress in life, who knows?

What I’ve decided is that I will not worry about writing reviews of books for a while.  If I am inspired by something then I will certainly voice that here and I hope you will continue to stop by and leave comments if you feel like it.  And I will continue to visit your lovely blogs whenever I can.

19 Comments

Filed under Books, RandomPost, Thoughts

Synners by Pat Cadigan

synnersSynners by Pat Cadigan

Bantam Specta, New York, 1991

A book read for the Science Fiction Experience and the Women of Genre Fiction Challenge.  Also for the TBR Double Dog Dare.

Pure cyberpunk.  I discovered William Gibson and Bruce Sterling in the 1980s , not sure how I missed Cadigan.

This is a big book crammed with many characters and many ideas that, except for the lack of  wireless and smart phones, does not feel dated.  The story takes place in LA, the cast of characters includes virtual reality programmers, corporate flunkies, rogue video makers, hackers and a mysterious internet personality named Dr. Fish.  A company called EyeTraxx, known for making popular music videos, has developed a new technology that enables a direct connection between the human brain and the internet, opening up all kinds of commercial possibilities.  But then things start to go horribly wrong.

Synners moves from one character to another but they are all connected through work or music of life.   Most of the changes are easy to follow, but I found myself skimming through some of the chapters, just because I found them distracting from the main story.  It was the relationships between characters that really caught me and carried me through ’til the end.

I am now curious about Cadigan’s other work, particularly something called Tea From an Empty Cup.  Anybody read it?

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Science Fiction Experience, 2013 TBR Double Dog Dare, 2013 Women of Genre Fiction Challenge, Books, SciFi, Thoughts

Playing Catch-Up, Again

13sfexp2300

I spent most of January reading lots of Science Fiction for the SciFi Experience, but have been loath to write review posts.  Instead of forcing myself I thoughts I’d give brief descriptions of some of my favorites.

willisTo Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  A wonderful time-travel romp jumping between the mid-Twenty-First century, the 1940’s and 1888 or so.   It is sweet and funny and a deeply intelligent book, the questions of time-travel’s possible impact on history had me reeling.  I’ve been meaning to read Connie Willis for a while and, having finally done so, am on a mad search for used copies of Blackout and All-Clear.

clarkeChildhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.  A Classic.  Aliens mysteriously appear, connect with representatives of the United Nations and help bring humans beyond war and into a Golden Age.  I read this one many years ago and it stands up pretty well.  I had forgotten the ending, found it surprisingly moving.

Still Forms on Foxfield by Joan Slonczewski.  I have a dear friend who has been part of Clarion West and Wiscon for a number of years.  When I though to ask him what science fistion book I should read he suggested this one.  I had never heard of Slonczewski before, and was thrilled to find a new-to-me women author of science fiction.

A colony of Friends, after escaping from warring earth, has landed on a planet they call Foxfield.  Already inhabited by a life-form the humans call Commensals, there is a period of adjustment as the two species learn to live together.  Their hard but peaceful co-existence is threatened by the arrival of a ship from earth piloted by representatives of UNI, the world government.  Should the colonists rejoin their earthly cousins?  Will their faith and way of life be threatened?

I enjoyed this book and found the author using her story to explore society and culture much the way Ursula LeGuin does in her science fiction novels.sloncz  Slonczewski wrote several other novels including The Children Star and Daughter of Elysium.  They are on my used book search list.

All of these books came from my TBR pile so I have managed to stick to the TBR Double Dog Dare as well as join in the 2013 Science Fiction Experience.

9 Comments

Filed under 2013 Challenges, 2013 Science Fiction Experience, Books, SciFi, Thoughts

Pure by Julianna Baggott

purebaggettPure by Julianna Baggott

Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2012

From my library hold list.  This is the first book in a trilogy.

I read about this one early last year and, being a fan of apocalyptic fiction, was intrigued by the setting and the unusual features of the main characters.  As a young adult novel Pure has some of the draws of The Hunger Games, struggle for survival, adventure, evil adults and budding romance.  What helps it rise above other modern, young adult, post-apocalyptic novels is the strength of Baggott’s world building and her writing.

Pressia lives in a land destroyed by the Detonations.  Like those around her, these deadly explosions have fused her body with other material, in her case, a doll.  Something has allowed these fusions to live and, in many ways, thrive.  There are areas where people, melded with glass, engine parts and animals, struggle to survive.  There are areas where only Beasts survive, beings more animal than human, and places where Dust threatens everything, soil and bits of matter that have taken on a violent life of their own.  And there is the Dome, where the Pure live, and wait to reunited with their brethren.

We know you are there, our brothers and sisters,
We will, one day, emerge from the Dome
to join you in peace.
For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.

But are the Pure truly benevolent?  A young man, Partridge, the son of one of the original designers of the Dome, escapes to the outside.  When he meets  Pressia the two of them find a vital connection and, along with others,  determine to discover the truth buried in their shared past.

Baggott has created a frightening, nightmarish world containing some of the most bizarre beings in fiction,  at least for me.  Living Dust, humans fused with engines, animals, each other..

Our Good Mother speaks only to Pressia now.  “The Detonations hit and many of us were here, alone, in our houses or trapped in our cars. Some were drawn to our yards to see the sky or, like me, to the windows.  We grabbed our children to our chests.  The children we could gather.  And there were those of us who were imprisoned, dying.  We were all left to die.  We were the ones who tended the dying.  We wrapped the dead…”  She sits again in her chair.  “They left us to die and we are forced to carry our children, our children who will never outgrow us, and we will do this forever.  Our burden is our love.”  From pages 286/287.

In her afterword the author states that research for this novel lead her to accounts on the  aftereffects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Having read many of those accounts I can see their influence.  I look forward to the next book in this series, Fuse.

3 Comments

Filed under 2013 Challenges, 2013 Science Fiction Experience, 2013 TBR Double Dog Dare, Books, Dystopian, SciFi, Thoughts, Young Adult