Book Review – White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears

White Tears is a 2017 literary horror novel by Hari Kunzru. Seth and Carter are two young white menwho share a passion for music; particularly black music. Thanks to Carter’s trust fund and wealthy family, and Seth’s technical skills and talent, the two run a successful recording studio in Brooklyn. Their lives take a turn, however, when Seth records an unknown singer in the park. Carter mixes the lyrics in their studio, making it sound like an authentic recording of a blues musician from the 1920s, and releases it online as a song by a lost artist of his invention named Charlie Shaw. It seems harmless enough to them, until somebody online reaches out saying that their fictional song and musician are somehow very real. What begins as the two humouring a seemingly confused old man sends their lives spiraling down into the darkness of the nation’s heart.Read More »

Book Review – The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Faceless Old Woman etc

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor is the third standalone novel set in the world of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast series created and written by the authors. The Faceless Old Woman is a mysterious, spectral figure who has haunted the homes of Night Vale in the series for years now. Often menacing, yet sometimes obtusely helpful, who she might have been and where she came from had always been an unknown. Narrated by the Faceless Old Woman herself, this novel tells her entire life story, from her birth in the Mediterranean in the early 19th century all the way to how she first came to Night Vale, intercut throughout with her meddling in the life of Craig, a young man living in Night Vale in the 2010s.Read More »

Book Review – MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam

MaddAddam is the third and final novel in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, following Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. It picks up exactly where the second novel left off, with Toby and Ren having recused Amanda from her captors, subduing them after Jimmy stepped in first. Though they initially have a handle of the situation, it all falls apart when the Crakers show up—the semi-humans created by Crake to inherit the Earth after the pandemic. Though everybody makes it out with their lives, the two dangerous men escape in the confusion. Needing to tend to Jimmy’s infected foot, Toby becomes a figure of much interest to the Crakers, and she quickly finds herself put into the role of storyteller in Jimmy’s stead. Ever on guard for the two men who still lurk somewhere nearby, the little colony of Toby and the MaddAddamites try to eke out a living in this post-apocalyptic world, while Toby probes Zeb for stories of his past.Read More »

Book Review – Here (away from it all) by Polly Hope

Here (away from it all)

Here (away from it all) is a 1969 novel by Polly Hope, originally published under the pseudonym Maryann Forrest. On an unnamed Greek island, often swamped with tourists, a small number of wealthy expatriates from around the world live a fairly carefree, relaxed lifestyle in one of the island’s villages. Our unnamed narrator lives with her husband, only referred to as “N,” and a number of her children. One lazy summer’s day the island is covered in a thick layer of dust, as if the fallout of some cataclysmic incident. Communication with the rest of the world ceases after this “Day of the Dusting” and leaving the island becomes hazardous. Left to their own devices, the precarious relationship between the native islanders and the foreigners stuck there begins to fall apart, as some of the old traditions come back into fashion and the expats realize they may never have been as welcome as they thought.Read More »

Book Review – The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood is the 2009 sequel to the author’s 2003 novel Oryx and Crake and the second entry in the MaddAddam trilogy. The story is dystopian/post-apocalyptic science fiction set in the not-too-distant future after a global pandemic has wiped out much of humanity. The world before the fall was none too ideal either, with greedy corporations controlling nearly everything. Gene splicing and experimentation was rampant, heinous acts were presented for entertainment, and the world was in the midst of a complete ecological collapse. This novel follows two women who have managed to survive the pandemic, jumping between the day-to-day tribulations after “the Flood,” and their shared history with the ecological religious group the Gardeners before human civilization fell to ruin.Read More »

Book Review – Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett is the 14th novel in the Discworld series, and the fourth in the “Witches” subseries. Unlike most other Discworld novels, this book begins with a note from the author suggesting you read some of the previous “Witches” novels before starting this one. This novel begins right where the last one, Witches Abroad, left off, and also continues plot threads from Wyrd Sisters, the novel before that.

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick have returned home to the small kingdom of Lancre after their journey abroad, only to find trouble afoot before they can even settle back in at home. Magrat finds that her potential husband-to-be Verence II, the former Fool made King, has fast-tracked a lot of their wedding arrangements without her input. Meanwhile, crop circles are appearing all across the kingdom; it seems somebody has been dancing around some stone circles, inviting the return of the elves. While remembered fondly in the minds of people, their return only spells trouble for everybody living on the Disc.Read More »

Book Review – Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust

Stardust is a 1998 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. It’s been a part of my personal backlog of books to read by the author for a while, and in a lot of ways it was not what I’d been expecting. The story concerns the small village of Wall in England, known for the ancient wall that is its namesake that separates our world from that of the Faerie. The only way to pass through the wall is a small passage, typically guarded to keep village folk from wandering into the unknown. Tristran Thorn, however, is hopelessly in love with the captivating yet disinterested Victoria Forester, and after the two witness a falling star he pledges to fetch it for her in exchange for whatever his heart desires. Though it has landed beyond the wall, Tristran will stop at nothing to fulfill his oath and win Victoria’s heart. This is complicated, however, when he finds that the fallen star is not a celestial rock, but a beautiful young woman named Yvaine, with no interest in coming back with him.Read More »

Book Review – Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn

Star Wars: Thrawn is the first book in a trilogy of Star Wars novels centred around the titular character, a blue humanoid alien with red eyes from the Chiss species, who rises to great prominence in the Imperial navy in the time between the prequel trilogy of Star Wars films and the original trilogy. The author originally created the character in older novels that are now deemed “Legends.” This is the first novel to feature the character in the new canon since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, initially debuting him in the series Star Wars Rebels.

In this first novel, Mitth’raw’nuruodo, simplified as Thrawn, is discovered on an uncharted world in Wild Space by Imperial scouts. Apparently exiled by his people, the Chiss Ascendency, he impresses the officers sent to investigate by cleverly sneaking aboard their capital ship despite his limited resources. Brought before the Emperor, Thrawn’s talents for strategy are recognized and he wishes to serve the Empire with the hope that, should it be needed, the it might come to the aid of his people. Seeing his knowledge of the Unknown Regions of the galaxy as a further asset, he is allowed to enroll in the Imperial Naval Academy, with the reluctant cadet Eli Vanto to accompany him as an aid and translator.Read More »

Book Review – Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Little Heaven

Little Heaven is the fourth and latest novel by horror author Nick Cutter. In the backwoods of New Mexico in the mid-1960s a religious commune has built themselves a community to get away from the sinful world, guided by their charismatic leader Reverend Amos Flesher. Only one rough road and some trails lead back to civilization. They are surrounded by woods and ever in the shadow of a monolithic black rock that looms over the landscape. They have dubbed their community Little Heaven, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many months after Little Heaven is settled a young woman named Ellen hires a trio of mercenaries to take her there. Her goal is to find her nephew, ensure he is safe, and if he isn’t, get him out of there. Finding the place is easy enough, but getting out becomes another matter entirely.Read More »

Book Review – Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

Kicking off my Frighteningly Good Reads for 2019 is Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, the 2013 sequel to one of the author’s most famous novels, The Shining. Dan Torrance, now a grown man, is still haunted by his experiences at the Overlook Hotel all those years ago. Some ghosts are harder to escape than others, and the violence and drinking that plagued his father has come back around on him, leaving him to aimlessly wander around the country. He eventually winds up in Frazier, New Hampshire, a small town that inexplicably triggers visions, despite the years of drinking dulling his “shine.”

Dan decides to settle in the town and gets his act together, attending AA meetings and eventually working at a hospice where he uses his psychic gifts to comfort those passing on, gaining the nickname “Doctor Sleep.” One day he is remotely contacted by Abra Stone, a young teen girl with a “shine” far more powerful than his own. She has attracted the attention of the True Knot, a tribe of psychic vampires who feed off of victims with powers like theirs, and needs his help if she is going to survive.Read More »