Terran Tomorrow – Nancy Kress

Terran TomorrowThe spaceship Return carried only nine people, although it could have carried many, many more. The mission from Earth to World had not been a success, and so some of the Earthlings were going home, accompanied by five Worlders. They had no idea just what they would find on their arrival. After all, even though only a short time had elapsed on World, the transit through space would mean that twenty-eight years will have passed on Earth. The Earth to which they returned was profoundly changed. The spore cloud had killed most of the humans. Only a few million scattered survivors were left and they were waging war on one another. The new arrivals were soon joining the effort to end the deadly plague. I have always enjoyed Nancy Kress, but I was a bit disappointed in this book. The plot was pretty obvious and the characters were mostly one dimensional. This is the third book in the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy, but it can be read as a standalone.

eGalley review                                                      Publication date 11.13.18

Posted in adult, dystopian, science fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale – Jane Yolen

How to Fracture a Fairy TaleOh, how I love Jane Yolen’s fairy tales! I promised myself that I would make them last. Read only one a day. Yeah, right. That didn’t last very long. I gobbled them down like a greedy little pig. There were princes and princesses, dragons and frogs, and there was an unhappy bridge. There were myths, legends and fairy tales. My favorite was Sleeping Ugly. Or maybe Happy Dens or A Day in the Old Wolves’ Home. But Cinder Elephant was really good, too. Let’s face it, I loved them all. Some made me happy, some made me want to cry, some were disturbing. All of them left me wanting more. The very best part, though, were the Notes and Poems, wherein she discussed just how and why she fractured each story and included a poem relevant to the story. If I counted correctly, there are 29 stories in all. A little more than half are new to this book. I recommend this book for anyone who loves an unexpected twist to an old tale.

eGalley review                                                               Publication date 11.5.18

Posted in folklore, Uncategorized

The Colors of All the Cattle: No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (19) – Alexander McCall Smith

The Colors of All the CattleHow nice it was to be back in Botswana with Mma Ramotswe. She is such a kind, gentle, generous person. If a friend asks for a favor, she feels the need to grant it. But this is too much. Mma Potokwane wants her to run for a seat on the City Council, and she absolutely does not want to run for a seat on the City Council. She likes her life just as it is. Meanwhile, the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has a new case, a hit and run, and Mma Ramotswe lets young Charlie, her sometimes detective, do a bit of investigating. I love this series. It never gets stale, boring. The characters grow and change, just a bit. Just enough to keep things interesting. The plot moves at a gentle pace. There is always time for tea, always time to think about things, always time to see the beauty and humor in life. This is the 19th book in the series, so if you want to start with this one, there is a lot of missing back story. But it is not absolutely essential and the book can stand alone.

eGalley review                                                      Publication date 11.6.18

Posted in adult, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Brilliant Death – Amy Rose Capetta

The Brilliant DeathFrom the publisher, “All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.” 

Despite having familiar plot elements – coming into magic, political maneuvering, violence that becomes commonplace, and sacrifices for love – The Brilliant Death is unique.  The way the author has combined all the elements is very well done.  Gender fluidity isn’t anything new in scifi/fantasy and can sometimes detract.  Not here, Teo and Cielo change gender often and it adds to the story.  For readers who like a bit of violence, that box is checked too.  Teo’s oldest brother caught in the act of skinning his brother alive, is just one example. The writing is chock full of figurative language, almost too much, but it is used to enhance the story and not drag it down.  I enjoyed it and eagerly await the sequel.

eGalley review                                                             Publication date 10.30.18

Posted in fantasy, Uncategorized

Little – Edward Carey

LittleWhen she was born in a small village in Alsace in 1761, she was tiny, oh so tiny, just about the size of two hands, and not expected to live. Little Anne Marie was stubborn and refused to die, but she was not very good at growing and stopped when she was the height of most people’s hearts. And so she lost her name and was called “Little”. She was an odd-looking little thing, with a large nose that pointed down and a large chin that pointed up. Her mother taught her to read and told her to always stay busy and to always discover. When her parents die, she becomes a servant to Dr. Curtius, a recluse who makes interesting things from wax. He makes body parts, all sorts of body parts, and wonderful heads. The scene shifts when they must flee creditors and hide in Paris. There they make wax heads of notable people, (and some not so notable) exhibit them, and become rather famous. Unfortunately, they also become caught up in the French revolution. Little tells her own story, and the first-person narrative is so well done. I felt that I was there with her through the nice times, the just okay times and the awful times. This book is very, very good, full of wonderful characters, historical events, humor and tragedy. It is laced with lovely illustrations, purported to be drawn by Little, herself. I highly recommend it.

eGalley review                              Publication date 10.23.18

Posted in adult, historical fiction, Uncategorized

Unsheltered – Barbara Kingsolver

unshelteredWilla thought her life was finally in order. Her husband, Iano, had tenure, and she had a job she loved with a magazine. But of course, that was not to be. The college closed, the magazine failed, and it was back to zero. At least, they had inherited a house in Vineland, New Jersey. It was fairly close to Iano’s new job. But (and there is always a “but”) the house is very old and is falling down. Flash back to the 1870s. Thatcher Greenwood is also dealing with a house that needs major repair. He is newly married and newly employed as a science teacher at the Vineland school, and he must cope with a headmaster who feels that Darwin’s theory is heresy. The chapters alternate between the two centuries. The writing is beautiful, as only Kingsolver’s can be. Each narrative has its own voice and is true to its time. Shelter is more than a house. Shelter is also found in your beliefs, your friendships. This book explores the difficulties finding shelter when the world is changing around you. Barbara Kingsolver has again written a thoughtful book, combining wonderful stories with issues that confront us daily when we are trying to make sense of our life.

eGalley review                                               Publication date 10.16.18

Posted in adult, fiction, historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

Unclaimed Baggage – Jen Doll

Unclaimed BaggageFrom the publisher, “Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of “Mr. Popular” whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people’s lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future.”

Full of quirky, yet stereotypical characters, this is a fun teen book.  It is about friendships, belonging, and sense of family while dealing with some serious subjects.  Doris, Nell, and Grant make the perfect trio of friends.  They each have their own strengths but together they are better.  They bring out the best in each other.  Doris and Nell stand by Grant when he confesses he is an alcoholic.  Grant defends Nell and her boyfriend.  Doris is the special glue who is so comfortable in her own skin.  Very mature and confident in herself – an old soul.  While the cute cover doesn’t have anything to do with the book, it conveys the humor and the voice of the story.  Witty and humorous, it is a feel-good book that wins.  Highly recommend.

eGalley review                                                            Publication date 9.18.18

Posted in fiction, highly recommend, realistic fiction, Uncategorized