June 1, 2015

Recent Reads

58. Sweetland
This is an example of a book where the GoodReads summary gives away important plot points, so I'm glad that I did not read it before cracking the book open.

Here is book blurb that contains no spoilers: The town of Sweetland clings to the shore of a remote island off the craggy coast of Newfoundland, where its eccentric inhabitants have lived for twelve generations. For a tight-knit community dependent on the declining fishing industry, the island's erosion has finally come to a head with the local government offering each islander a generous resettlement package to vacate and move to the mainland. But to receive the package, everyone must leave.

This book got on my radar because the author will attend Booktopia Vermont this year. The title of the book refers to both an island and a character. Think of this story as domestic fiction set on a remote island, amidst hardscrabble lands and people. The plot hinges around the point that everyone must leave, and of course there are some hold outs, the most notable being the main character Moses Sweetland. The story is told in present time with flashbacks to multiple timelines interspersed through out the book, each of which helps to flesh out the characters and their stories quite effectively.

If you are looking for a thriller or fast paced story, look elsewhere. This story is a meditation on life, loss, family, and home. The plot took a turn I did not expect, and I was interested to see if things would pan out as I suspected or not. The writing is good, I enjoyed all the boat and outdoor scenes, and I was intrigued enough to read to the end. That being said, I enjoyed the first half of the story much more than the second. This is the first book I've read by the author and it will not be my last. Rating: 3 stars.

59. Thessaly: Witch for Hire
So there is this ghost, and he is in love with a witch. I guess that would make it a paranormal romance. Or does that label only apply if one of the parties is human? Labels can be so confusing. 

Sandman readers might recall first meeting Thessaly in one of the early books. She is the oldest, most powerful witch around, and the last of her kind. Oh, and she likes to keep a low profile. It does not help that this ghost is in love with her, and you just know that things are not going to be low key when he is around. 

This graphic novel is a fun, fast read, and while it does not have the depth and nuance of the Sandman books, I liked it. Rating: 3 stars.

60. Shield of Thunder (Troy #2)
This is book #2 in the Troy Trilogy, and while it was not as fantastic as the first book, it was still a fun read.

We meet some new characters: Piria, a runaway priestess nursing a terrible secret, Kalliades, a warrior with a legendary sword, and Banokles who will carve his own legend in the battles to come. While I liked these new characters, I did not find them as interesting as the original cast of characters, who still play a part in this book, though not as much as I'd have liked. There are some interesting twists and turns that I enjoyed, but this book is about war. It has started and no-one on the Great Green is safe. Alliances are formed and broken, people behave honorably or are betrayed by trusted allies. Lots and lots of people die.

The saga continues with beautiful men and strong women, and Hektor and Achilles enter stage left. How is it that I had not read before that Achilles had a lesbian sister? As for Hektor's secret shame - did not see that coming. 

This book suffers from the typical middle book slump, and the first half is better than the second. I already have the final book on its way to me, and I've read that the author died while writing it, so am curious to see how his wife finished it. And yes, I know how this story ends, and am already bracing myself for dark days ahead. Rating: 3 stars.

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