Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Juvenilia by Lavie Tidhar (Uncanny; Issue Thirty-Six, September/October 2020)
The first story I read in October was Juvenilia by Lavie Tidhar. I really enjoyed this story. Coming on the heels of reading Mexican Gothic, many aspects of Juvenilia reminded me of that story. There was a little mystery as well as some genuinely creepy moments—and the atmosphere and way the story went reminded me of that achieved by Mexican Gothic—even though it wasn’t inherently a horror story. It was kind of a house story too, given that the setting primarily took place at a single property—Wildfell Hall—which was an integral part of the plot. It was well-developed with an eerie atmosphere and an equally odd set of rules the character was asked to follow. Overall, Juvenilia was a fantastic story.
Hearts in the Hard Ground by G.V. Anderson (Tor.com; September 9, 2020)
Feeling in the mood for another house/ghost story, I decided to check out something that had been on my radar since September. Hearts in the Hard Ground is an incredibly somber tale of a haunted house and the woman who moved-in. There were themes of loss and grief, and it was in the form of the character’s mother having suffered from an illness before passing away. Fiona’s story was an excellent read. Her journey was one filled with memoires and ghosts, as she tried to make a home of the house she’d moved in to. In a lot of ways, this was a story about navigating grief and about places being haunted as well as people being haunted by their memories: of what’s happened and the choices they did or didn’t make. It was about coming to terms with and accepting the “would have” and the “could have,” and the secrets and fears. And while some of the ghosts were charming, the house, for the most part, was suitably frightening with spirits that refused to—or simply couldn’t—rest.
From around the web…
- A Children’s Tale for All Ages: Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker (Alex Brown; Tor.com, October 6, 2020)
- A Question of Horror: Stephen Graham Jones’ Night of the Mannequins (Tobias Carroll; Tor.com, October 8, 2020)
- Our Opinions Are Correct episode #68
- Fangirl Happy Hour episode #131
Friday, November 27, 2020
Source/Format: Tor ebook club; ebook
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor.com; May 8, 2018
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
It’s been a while since I last read any stories from the Murderbot Diaries, and recently I was in the mood for it. After the end of All System’s Red, I was curious to see where our favorite media obsessed SecUnit would go after its split-second and pivotal decision to go off on its own. Artificial Condition is the direct continuation, and the story starts a short time after the end of All Systems Red. I had a lot of fun reading this book. It was a fantastic sequel in so many ways, primarily for the main character. It was on a mission, a personal one, to discover the truth behind the incident that caused its memory to be purged. I enjoyed the way Wells handled the mystery aspects of the story. The lessons learned by the SecUnit were tough, and it highlighted the intricacies that often take place in complicated occurrences. It also showed that answers might not bring closure and may in fact present more questions. Along the way, it met some new characters. One of them, ART, is by far one of my favorites yet. The scenes with ART were filled with snarky sarcasm and plenty of commentary about media, which made the “Research Transport vessel” all that more endearing of a character. I hope to see it again in later stories. Artificial Condition is, so far, one of my favorite stories from this series, and I hope to read Rogue Protocol soon.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Source/Format: Tor ebook club (freebie); eBook
More Details: Science Fiction; Fantasy; Alternative History
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor.com; February 19, 2019
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark's short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.
Monday, November 23, 2020
Friday, November 20, 2020
The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Series: Captain Kit Brightling #1
Author: Chloe Neill
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Historical
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; November 17, 2020
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Chloe Neill brings her trademark wit and wild sense of adventure to a stunning seafaring fantasy starring a dauntless heroine in a world of magic and treachery.
Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles' Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte's fleet. Her ship is small, but she's fast--in part because of Kit's magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for. Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn't know him or his motives--and she's dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who's been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia. Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall....
The prologue set up the stakes of the story with the introduction of the main characters, and who is, for much of the story, the big antagonist among the villains. Gerard’s shadow seemed to loom as large in the text as did the war, which ultimately saw him into exile. The threat of the post-war peace being on the brink of ending—and the evolving role of magic—set the stakes sky-high. It was a great introduction to the story, and an even better way to introduce the characters, world, and the way the magic functioned.
The magic system in The Bright and Breaking Sea was quite interesting. Its function was incredibly limited, and its benefits often didn’t outweigh the risks. So Kit, who was Aligned to the sea, was somewhat of an anomaly at the start of the story. She used magic to aid her ship by increasing its speed, but that was about it. I did like how the views and uses of magic differed greatly depending on the character, and how the gradual shifts throughout the course of the novel changed those perspectives.
Kit Brightling was a capable character. She was competent and confident in her skills as an Aligned and as the captain of the Diana. Some of the standout moments in the story were when Kit was thinking on her feet while engaging in combat. I also liked her family. Hetta was a wonderful character, and the same could be said for Kit’s sisters. Rian Grant was another complex character. Even though he was a viscount, he was also a soldier and had his own share of secrets. As for the other characters, I also liked them. I particularly enjoyed Queen Charlotte’s characterization.
The Bright and Breaking Sea was an exciting story. I had a lot of fun reading it. Plus the implications of the ending were something of a cliffhanger, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
Monday, November 16, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
This year, I decided not to talk about most of the movies I watched in October. It would have been redundant, mainly because they’re pretty typical for the month: think Hocus Pocus, Corpse Bride, and other Halloween classics. That is to say, that wasn’t all I watched, and today I want to talk about two of Netflix’s recent releases.
The first is A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (released on October 15, 2020). The movie was, overall, a really enjoyable one to watch. It’s essentially about babysitting, monsters, and what those two have to do with each other—as experienced by Kelly Ferguson, who was reluctantly recruited into watching the son of her mother’s boss. The story may have been simple but it sure was entertaining, due in part to how good the characters were (hats-off to the actors on this one) as well as how well the special effects worked. Right away, the opening scene introduced Kelly, some of her backstory, and the lore that would play a bigger role later on. The pacing was effective here, as it felt like enough time was spent on each scene to really build a solid starting point. So when the movie picked up and the reveals started happening, there was solid footing to stand on.
The second movie was one I was looking forward to since I first heard about it, which was Vampires vs. The Bronx (released on October 2, 2020). I enjoyed this one as well. We don’t often get vampire movies that step outside of the norm in terms of characters—one of the few I can think of is the Blade series. Vampires vs. The Bronx felt, at times, like a timely narrative (with gentrification being a focal issue in the story) with a paranormal edge. I liked all the characters, as well as how the paranormal side of the story was handled. The setting also afforded for some spooky ambiance, and there were a few comedic moments. Like A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting, I had a lot of fun watching this movie.
So what do these movies have in common? They may be vastly different, but man they were fun. It was the kind of campiness in the same vein as older films like Disney’s Halloweentown: quirky, kind of cheesy, but still an excellent viewing experience.
What have you been watching recently? If you have any recommendations, leave them in the comments.
Monday, November 9, 2020