So, the title has a lamb and a lion and the cover has a deer. What‘s up with that, you ask? I had no idea, but the cover reminded me of The Only Good Indians (my review).
Highlights of the book blurb: “… a queer punk rock traveller, … best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, … utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. … town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner. … a blood-red, three-antlered deer—turn on its summoners. … save the town—or get out alive.“
Ok, then… I liked the story, although the supernatural element was not explored much. There is the summoned deer, the zombie animals and mentioning of some magic, but not much introspection into any of them. The creepiness was there, but it was pretty bloodless. Some poetry.
In terms of world building I got more out of the representation of the squatters and anarchists. I am not sure if this story truly knew what it wanted to be about. However, I would probably pick up the sequel, if it came my way.
3.5 heartless birds, rounded down for now.
Locus Award Nominee for Best Novella (2018), Shirley Jackson Award Nominee for Best Novella (2018)
I have a bad track record with Scalzi. The Collapsing Empire was ok-ish (my review), although I considered a DNF at the time. And I only finished Redshirts (my review) with a lot of skimming. So Scalzi is not on my list of wanted authors. Unlocked came as part of a free collection, otherwise I would not have picked it up.
A 63-page novella that tells the story of a pandemic, about a virus that locks people‘s minds in their bodies. I am not quite sure if it‘s really a prequel to Lock In or more of a companion piece that should be read after the novel. I have not read the novel yet and the story worked well for me.
I am a fan of stories building up to the apocalypse (and set during it), so this was right down my alley. Despite not usually liking the epistolary form. Here it worked well. Ok, it‘s not really an apocalyptic story, but it seems to be at first. Society and the world as we know them do not really end. But there is massive change and a high death toll.
I liked this. Not a lot of character development, which would be hard in the shortness of this novella and the amount of interviewees telling their stories in short paragraphs. The voices are interchangeable and I only managed to keep track of two or three of them. The world building was fine though. It was clear what was going on and the societal implications were portrayed in a captivating way. Heck, I wanted to be a Haden at the end.
I will check out the novel. Scalzi finally struck a nerve. I would have read this in one sitting, if I hadn‘t been so tired.
PS: Apparently I just read a novella through the viewpoint of a lenticular lens. You learn something new every day…
Sibling Dex, a monk, searches for a new vocation and finds it in becoming a tea monk, caring for others. One day, when this somehow isn‘t enough anymore for Dex, they take off into the wilderness, where they meet Mosscap, a robot. Mosscap wants to find out what people need and more importantly, what Dex needs. They both go on a road trip of self-discovery, looking for meaning in life and comfort. A little philosphical, inspiring, relaxing.
“You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.”
The third novella in the Singing Hills Cycle. By now the cleric Chih has become a good friend. And Almost Brilliant, who had been missing in the 2nd novella, is back as well. They join an older couple and two young women on their treck through the riverlands. On the road they tell each other stories about the past, about emperors, fighters and bandits. Reaching their destination is a culmination of those stories.
This is probably my favourite of the Singing Hills Cycle novellas. Although I am pretty sure I missed some of the things the author was trying to tell me. I loved all of the major characters and the hinted-at relationships. I also appreciated the discourse into how stories are told, should be told and what points of view can turn them into.
I received an advanced copy of this novella from the publisher or author through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.
Set entirely on a London bus travelling from Hoxton to Highbury and taking place over just 36 minutes, the events of The 392 unfold through a cast of charismatic characters coming from very different worlds. On the 392 are all the familar faces you might expect to see on any bus ride through inner-city London in the grip of gentrification; delinquent school kids, the high-flyers, the weird, the wonderful and the homeless. These Londoners share two things: a bus journey and a threat. A threat which is ready to blow apart everything they know.
From the book blurb
Not my usual type of reading. The premise sounded interesting and it is included in my Audible subscriptions. So here we are. Narrated by a British cast, we are riding on a bus through London, listening to the bus passengers narrating their life, their past, their wishes for their future, their prejudices, fears and wants… Hipsters, racism, soccer, gentrification, low brow, high brow, drugs, a pregnant girl, a barrister, a blind man, an elderly lady, unknown buildings, weird smells, school children, a camera man, a politician…. A bomb?
Great narrators, great characters talking about their own experiences and perceptions. Very well written and the narration by different voice actors makes it very lively.
Barney makes me think of Boris Johnson. Is he supposed to be?
Slightly gross at times, for a mature audience.
Bottom line, not bad, getting a glimpse at Londoners from various backgrounds. Ultimately not really my thing.
#2) The Sign of Four, Watson meets Mary. And we take a trip to the Andaman Islands. ★★★★☆
#3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes & Watson meet The Woman / The Adventure of the Re-Headed League / A Case of Identity / The Boscombe Valley Mystery / The Five Orange Pips / The Man with the Twisted Lip / The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle / The Adventure of the Speckled Band ★★★★☆
– INVISIBLE PEOPLE by Nancy Kress — parents find out that their adopted daughter has been genetically altered as an embryo. Besides the ethical questions this throws up, it‘s a well-written thriller. Great character development for a short story, I was with them every step of the way. ★★★★★
A servant tells the story of her empress to a non-binary cleric. Two linear timelines, novella. Much is hinted at, little is spelled out. Fantasy novella with hints of China and further north.
“The abbey at Singing Hills would say that if a record cannot be perfect, it should at least be present. Better for it to exist than for it to be perfect and only in your mind.”
It‘s well written, but I never connected to any of the characters. Lyrical writing and good worldbuilding are important—I am a very plot-driven person. However, I need relatable characters. We never got much insight into their thoughts. On an emotional level I did not care what happened to any of them.
There was a lot of telling and very little showing, it was a pretty dry affair. By the end of the story I just shrugged and moved on. Pretty cover though.
I am the odd one out here in my usual reading circle, they all seem to have loved it.
Thisweek‘s topic / March 22: Books With an Adjective In the Title
Tricky topic. Lets see what I can did up on my shelf. For variety‘s sake I‘ll start with the books I added to my shelves last and work backwards…
Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings — my latest NetGalley addition: Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future. Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space
The Art of Cursive Penmanship: A Personal Handwriting Program for Adults by Michael R. Sull — A practice guide to improve one‘s handwriting. We start with a discourse on the history and technicalities of handwriting. There is instructions on the correct sitting posture, how to place the paper, how to use your writing implement, on fountain pens and so on. Chapter 5 is the beginning of the practical part. That‘s roughly where I am right now. Haven‘t started with the exercises yet…
Ancestral Night (White Space, #1) by Elizabeth Bear — not quite sure why I added this one to my stack: A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from multi award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.
Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes — this was a buddy read that I skipped. Everybody really liked it, so I got it after all: Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.
The Black Coast (The God-King Chronicles, #1) by Mike Brooks — another buddy read that I skipped and my reading buddies all loved it: When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them because they know who is coming: for generations, the keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Tjakorsha. Saddling their war dragons, Black Keep’s warriors rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own land by a daemonic despot who prophesises the end of the world, the raiders come in search of a new home . . .
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim — I like the original fairytale and the cover is pretty, so I couldn‘t resist: Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control.
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds — two novelettes set in Revelation Space. And the blurb of one of them is something aquatic. I had to get it: In the seas of Turquoise live the Pattern Jugglers, the amorphous, aquatic organisms capable of preserving the memories of any human swimmer who joins their collective consciousness. Naqi Okpik devoted her life to studying these creatures—and paid a high price for swimming among them.
Digital Divide (Rachel Peng, #1) by K.B. Spangler — not quite sure why I picked this one. Genre bender with cyborgs: Rachel Peng misses the Army. Her old life in Criminal Investigation Command hadn’t been easy, but she had enjoyed it. Now, as the first cyborg liaison to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police, Rachel is usually either bored senseless or is fighting off harassment from her coworkers.
Yes, not 100% certain that those are all adjectives… *shrugs*
What interesting reads have you added to your shelves recently?
It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call. Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.
From the book blurb
The POV of this novella is very smartly done. We experience everything from the eyes of a main character that has a very narrow field of vision and knowledge of the world he lives in. So we also know very little at first of this seemingly pastoral and feudal world of humans in a society governed by ogres. We take every step of discovery with him. And it’s quite a stunning list of discoveries for him. Very little of what he believes to be true turns out to be real.
I missed emotional expressions. The inner landscape of our main character was laid out in a pretty sterile fashion. I made no real connection to him and found it hard to like or emphasize with him, even during the truly horrible events of his life. Nothing seemed to have a real impact on him. However, the story as such was a very smart one.
The final head twister is a real bummer. Nicely done, Mr. Tchaikovsky!
PS: 2nd person narrative, ugh. I am not a fan of that. But I got over it.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher or author through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.
Let‘s call it alternate history with a strong horror element. Three African-American women hunt Klu Kluxes, aka monsters disguised as Klu Klux Klan members. The story is set in Georgia in 1922.
I liked the beginning quite a bit. Nice set-up, speedy beginning, interesting monsters. However, when the more supernatural elements entered and the focus shifted towards the characters, I started to drift off. The plot seemed to disappear into almost nothing and I lost interest in what went on. I never really connected with the main characters or the story.
The audio was ok at first. I struggle a bit with the Gullah accent of one of the characters. The narrator was too over the top with her vocalisations and her high tones eventually really grated on me.
I finished, but it was a close call and I barely paid attention at the end. Yes, the social commentary is very, very relevant, but if you‘re not telling me a gripping story, I find it hard to care.
I did like the aunties. Could they have been a version of the Three Fates? I looked up the Night Doctors, the Klu Klux Klan, Stone Mountain, D.W. Griffith and his movie, what a ring shout is and I wondered about Rhode Island. H.P. Lovecraft, maybe? So, this novella was not a complete loss for me.