Review: A Game of Ghosts (Charlie Parker #15) by John Connolly

What I love most about Connolly’s Charlie Parker Books is that they are becoming more and more supernatural…or maybe it’s just that Connolly has done such a great job of making these books real that I no longer question the veracity of them. They are just as believable to me as the sun in the sky…and that is also why they are more and more terrifying as the series goes on…Connolly has managed to mesh the very ordinary world of former policeman Charlie Parker with the spectral world where some things just can’t be explained until suddenly they are all one and the same…but he does so in a way that keeps the real world the focus and the paranormal in the shadows. This isn’t some attempt by an author to create an alternative world or universe or future time period. Connolly isn’t asking the reader to suspend what they know…only that you open your mind to the possibilities…and with your own imagination the possibilities are infinite…which explains the vast amount of fear I experience whilst reading them…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

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Review: Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Three siblings visit their father in New Hampshire. They all have different ideas about how to help him as he ages. They have different ideas about how to help each other (or not). What they have in common is love for their dad, and an ache in their hearts missing their mom.

I generally enjoy books about families and New England, so this was right up my alley. The siblings’ relationships with each other and their spouses was true to life, and I identified with the frustration of having so many opinions in one space!

My favorite part of the story was watching the mom’s secrets unfold. It really goes to show you that you can’t know everything about even your family. We all hold back a tiny part of ourselves — and unless we write cookbook marginalia or we have a secret room, well, those secrets might stay hidden forever.

Well done, Elisabeth Hyde.

-calliope

Buy GO ASK FANNIE

Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Awww…this book was yummy! Oh so yummy. It doesn’t matter what type of book you read. Romance, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Science Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical…it doesn’t matter what type I’m currently reading…this is the type you want…The kind that it’s past midnight, your eyes are burning, your head is all fuzzy, but you JUST HAVE to push through and finish it! I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it at 2:08 am. I haven’t been so proud and so ashamed of myself in so long! Bliss!

This was a totally g rated book as well…well, maybe pg-13…but it didn’t need lots of steamy sex to hook you or make you go weak in the knees…All of the characters were likable if not lovable.

If I had one complaint (and I must confess, I was a bit off put at it) it was that the ending was too much HEA too soon. Once you read the novel and the characters are speaking at the very end perhaps you’ll understand. I would have much rather Maxine Morrey added an epilogue if she felt that she needed to progress the HEA that far ahead…One had to take in to account that for all purposes, even though they knew one another longer, they had only reconnected for two weeks at this point..a nice half page epilogue would have set any irritation on my part aside and made this a perfect book…

Even as it is, I still loved it…and couldn’t wait to zoom through it…and am already looking for more to read from this author…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been going through a bit of a reading funk lately. Work is busy, free time is rare, so nothing has really caught my attention for the last couple of weeks. When a recent road trip came up, though, I knew I needed something good. So I went to this one on my TBR list. Because Chris Bohjalian hasn’t disappointed me yet.

The story starts off with a bang with Cassie, aka the flight attendant, waking up in a strange hotel room in Dubai. But wait…there’s more. *See what I did there?* There’s also a very dead man next to her. She knows who he is, sure. And she even knows how she ended up in his room. Beyond that? It’s all lost in an alcohol-induced blackout. So she does what any logical person would do. She cleans up any evidence of her presence and flees back to her hotel just in time to board her next flight and get out of Dodge.

Of course the story can’t end there. Once back in the states, Cassie finds herself in deeper than she could ever have imagined. And her erratic behavior combined with a dependency on drinking make matters so much worse. She’s in trouble on all fronts. Everything is at stake-her career, her freedom, even her life.

This was definitely one of those books I just couldn’t put down. From the very beginning until the last page, I was completely hooked. It has everything. Family drama, Russian spies, suspense, a few nice little twists…

Trust me when I say this one needs to be on your summer reading list!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Flight Attendant

Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has a few different spots in my heart…the first is that he writes brilliantly and beautifully as so few can do. His style is both unique and refreshing. The second thing is the sound of his voice. It makes me near swoon. I could listen to him speak all day. I never get tired of it. Finally, he is one of the only writers that I actually enjoy a great deal of his short stories. I’m not a short story person really. However, I really do find myself enjoying some of his tales. I also love that he takes the time to explain where the stories come from. Sometimes those super short blurbs are more interesting than the actual story! They certainly almost always add to the story as well. If I had a complaint about the formatting of this novel it would only be I wish the blurbs came right before each story (or perhaps the end). Instead they are all in the start of the book so you have to go back and forth…or if you read the book from start to finish, you forget what little blurb inspired the story in the first place. Yes I know you can go flip back and forth…however, if you’re trying to listen to the audiobook (AGAIN! The second thing! HIS VOICE!!!) it’s not as easy to do.

Some of my all time favourite short stories can be found in this collection. I shall only mention one…”The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. If you can find a copy or a recording of Neil reading it PLEASE DO!!! (it’s also on the An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer cd, which is where I first heard it)

Finally Trigger Warnings…The term. I find it hard to express how I feel about trigger warnings and how silly it has sometimes became in social media. I’ve seen trigger warnings posted such as “dog”, “fat”, “diet”, really this list is endless. And no these were not instances of someone trying to be funny…these were honest to goodness trigger warnings….I’m no one to judge….however, I don’t believe we do ourselves or anyone else living in a censored world of padded rooms full of insulated words…

Again, I’m not a judge or an expert…and I’m not a writer, but my friend, Mr Gaiman is…I found his introduction was spot on for me. It’s exactly how I wish I could explain how I fell about “trigger warnings”…yeah, it might be a bit of an overkill, and you might not want to read it, but I am going to include it anyways…hahaha…if you decided to read it, I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to imagine Neil reading it (I pretty much do his voice inside my head ANYTIME I read one of his books now). Here it is…the introduction of the book:

There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.

And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.

The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.

What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.

I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them.

I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them, an idea that I found myself simultaneously warming to (of course you want to let people who may be distressed that this might distress them) while at the same time being deeply troubled by it: when I wrote Sandman and it was being published as a monthly comic, it had a warning on each issue, telling the world it was Suggested for Mature Readers, which I thought was wise. It told potential readers that this was not a children’s comic and it might contain images or ideas that could be troubling, and also suggests that if you are mature (whatever that happens to means) you are on your own. As for what they would find that might disturb them, or shake them, or make them think something they had never thought before, I felt that that was their own look out. We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.

But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me: stories which contained helplessness, in which people were embarrassed, or mutilated, in which adults were made vulnerable and parents could be of no assistance. They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they also taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now, as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that: I know a lady called Rocky who is upset by tentacles, and who genuinely needs warnings for things that have tentacles in them, especially tentacles with suckers, and who, confronted with an unexpected squid or octopus, will dive, shaking, behind the nearest sofa. There is an enormous tentacle somewhere in these pages.

Many of those stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Review: Gun Love by Jennifer Clement

Sometimes the most unusual stories are the ones that you most enjoy. And that was the case for me with this one. It’s odd, but in an intriguing way. Part commentary on the state of guns in America, but also a reflection of social divisions, it’s one young girl’s tale of living life on the fringe of mainstream society.

Pearl and her mother are homeless. Have been for as long as Pearl can remember. Well, technically they’re homeless. They do have a very large car to live in. Parked outside a trailer park in Florida, it holds everything they own in the world.

During Pearl’s young life she’s witnessed far too much. All around her she sees poverty and deceit and crime. Oh and the guns. They’re everywhere. Her relationships, and some friendships, with the residents of the trailer part are very much entwined with the presence of guns. There’s no way this kind of a story can have a happy ending.

This is a very different kind of story. It’s lyrical with beautiful language throughout. Farfetched and improbable? Maybe. But most stories are.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Gun Love

Review: Stoner by John Williams

Bollocks!!!!

That’s all I can think of about this book. Yet I give it 5 stars! Ha!

I know people like Stoner exist. You have a young man who is, if not happy to work on his family’s farm, he is at least not unhappy. There’s not much doubt that his parents are the same. That their parents were the same as well. Hard workers and not much for complaining. Then Stoner goes off to college and a simple reading of literature changes everything. I found it a bit sad that Stoner couldn’t even imagine a new life until someone said it out loud first.

That’s due to my own personal experience. Books have always been what sparked my imagination and desires. Then there is Stoner. Moved as much as he can be and still left for someone else to imagine a different future for him.

Then there is his wife. Eyy eyy eyy. How I did not like this woman. But yet again, you see Stoner, more or less resigned to his fate…until once again, someone imagines a different life for him and he suddenly moves ahead and makes a change.

The entire novel is like this. Who am I to feel sorry for Stoner? Any disappointment he meets in life he just gets on with it. He doesn’t dwell on it time and time again. He is just resigned to his fate. He doesn’t shake his fist and yell at the Gods.

He proves a man strong in his convictions. He doesn’t back down. But nor does he make waves.

What makes this book such a compelling read? Was it my desire to finally see Stoner stand up and wave his fists in defiance?

Well I certainly hope not, or else I would be well disappointed.

I listened to this book on audio, and the narrator did a superb job with the reading. However, John Williams is an amazing writer. How the hell do you evoke so much emotion from what you do not write as compared to what you do write. Somehow, Williams does exactly this. That is why the narrator is so brilliant as well. Stoner, the narrator and Williams himself leave it to the reader to be outraged and to wave their fists at the Gods, whilst all three of them just simply carry on. If anything we are like the hare, flighty and weaving all about, whilst they are the tortoise that just plods along steady as they go.

I have wanted to read this book for about 5 years now. All the while I was angry at myself for not being motivated to actually start it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more angry at myself for not having started it sooner. And yet….

I am disappointed that I’ve finally read it. It really is something to be savoured. It’s such a difficult book to pin down. It’s difficult to explain. It’s difficult in so many ways…

But it’s not difficult to love…even though it might be very difficult to explain just why…

As you’ve always heard, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for…Stoner is that quiet one sat in the corner. That person whose story is bigger than they let on…

This story is one that is so much bigger on the inside of your mind than it appears on the pages of the book…and isn’t that the very best kind?

Don’t put it off…read this one…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Stoner by John Williams