by Connie Willis
Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine
Pub Date 04 Oct 2016
One of my top three books, a book I could read over and over again, that I would take with me to a desert island or prison, is The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It was my first introduction to the work of Ms. Willis. I loved it so much I read several of her other books, including Passage and Lincoln's Dreams. When I had the opportunity to read an Advanced Readers Copy of Ms Willis's new book Crosstalk through Netgalley, I was thrilled. I hoped I was in for another thrilling read and I was not disappointed.
Crosstalk takes place near our time, possibly a little ahead. There is not a specific date mentioned but the technology referenced includes Apple and smartphones and DVRs. The technology at the center of the book, the EED, is an outpatient procedure that is preformed on a couple.The purpose of the EED is to allow the couple to share each other's emotions, to feel what their partner feels. One famous surgeon is performing it on royalty, billionaires and celebrities to great accolades. All the patients report feeling closer and more emotionally bound to their partner by sharing without words or actions their emotions.
Briddey is an executive with a communication company that produces smart phones. Her boyfriend Trent is the rising star of the company with his eye on a corner office and huge salary. He convinces Briddey to have an EED with him and upon successful completion, they will be publicly announce their engagement. Trent feels that EED will enhance their relationship and give them both the assurance of their feelings for each other before making a commitment.
Briddey and Trent both have the procedure. There is only one problem initially. When Briddey emerges from anesthesia, she does not feel Trent's emotions. She hears a voice. It is not Trent's voice. And from there the book takes off on a break neck series of twists and turns until the final conclusion.
I enjoyed this book. The characters were fun to get to know. I found that I could relate to them. With the exception of one character, I really liked them. The story kept me engaged and reading (and staying up later than I should). The only problem I encounter was some of the discussions towards the end of the book about the science of what was occurring. I had a hard time following that part but I usually require a translator is science is being spoken so that is a fault on my part not the author. I highly recommend Crosstalk, another great book by Connie Willis.
America's Most Haunted Hotels
Checking In with Uninvited Guests
by Jaime Davis Whitmer
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Pub Date 08 Sep 2016
America’s Most Haunted Hotels: Checking in with Uninvited Guest by Jamie Davis Whitmer was a fun read. The author and her husband visit ten hotels that are infamous for hauntings. The locations are The Myrtels Plantation, The Queen Mary, The Copper Queen, The Kehoe House, 1886 Crescent Hotel, Jerome Grand Hotel, Fransworth House Inn, Lemp Mansion, The Stanley Hotel and The Palmer House Hotel.
Each location is a separate chapter. A history of the site including any possible reasons for paranormal activity, such as murders or tragedy, is given. The author is careful to note what is legend and what can be substantiated through documentation. I appreciate this thoroughness. It helps separate the urban legend from the facts. Areas of the sites that are connected with the most activity also include photographs. The author then relates her and her husband's experience at the site. This included any official tours for the public, personal tours with the owner provided just for the author, and their overnight stays. Some locations provoke an immediate sensation with the author while others do not. They do have some activity but not all can be documented either due to the type of activity, the lack of clarity in the voice recordings or equipment that malfunctions for no discernable reason. The end of each chapter included information about the location if the reader wants to visit. It has the address and contact information (including email addresses) for each hotel, if there are tours available and the closest airports.
A couple of things really stand out for me in this book. First, as already mentioned, the author’s thoroughness in detailing what is documented and what is part of the site’s legend. Second, the photographs are very nice. They are clear and give a good sense of the atmosphere. The photograph of the hallway in the Queen Mary is extraordinary. I visited the Queen Mary, but did not stay overnight, in 1989 and took the public tour. The photograph in the book brought back how there was an overwhelming sense of unreality about the ship. Look at the picture, of a normal straight very long hallway, and it does not feel normal at all. Finally, the author and her husband weigh in separately on their experiences. Sometimes they experience similar things but other times they are completely different. That seemed somehow more authentic to me than both of them always experiencing the same thing, like a ride at an amusement park. Visiting a haunted location is not a guarantee that you will experience any type of paranormal activity. The author does an excellent job of explaining this in the conclusion.
I live about an hour and half from one of the locations. While I knew it was an area with a reputation for haunting, I did not know about this location in particular. It could be a good choice for our anniversary getaway this year. I enjoyed it so much I will be tracking down her first book, Haunted Asylums, Prisons and Sanatoriums. I was provided with an advanced review copy by Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.
Thank you, Mr. Hartness, thank you! I have been waiting for the story of how Glory and Q met. And what a story you delivered, just breathtaking in pace and character. I have loved the Harker novellas since the first one. Now here at number 5, the writing continues to be excellent, the plot exciting and the characters true to themselves. The Harker universe is so heavy wiith potential that there should be no end to the series.
For those that are not familiar with Quincy Harker, get thee to a copy! Quincy Harker, the son of Jonathon and Mina Harker of Dracula fame, is trying to live a normal life. It is pretty much a pipe dream since his mother's affair with Dracula combined with his father's night of passion with Dracula's wives gave him some very unusual DNA. He is half human and half still trying to figure that part out. On her deathbed, Quincy's mother entrusted his care and guardianship to his "Uncle" Luke. The novellas follow Quincy and his guardian angel Glory as they fight hell spawn in Charlotte, NC. Uncle Luke helps when he can but is know to have a severe allergy to the sun.
I give Heaven Sent another 5 of 5 stars plus a bonus supernova for fulfilling my wish. Keep writing this fantastic series. And thank you for the first of many, I hope, back stories to come.
The Gates: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel
Written by: Iain Rob Wright
Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
Publisher: WRIGHT IDEAS LIMITED
The Gates has a very fresh concept for apocalyptic horror. No zombies or lethal diseases. The Gates first appear as strange large rocks that seem to materialize from nowhere. They appear all over the world in a short time period. The cannot be moved. Individuals who touch them die, horribly. Then the stones change, strange symbols are revealed by a glowing light from within. As people gather to watch this phenomenon, the stones become gates, allowing monsters to move from Hell onto the earth.
The book follows several different groups of people. There are civilians, soldiers, reporters, parents, and children. Each group has an encounter with the entities that come through the gates. While all are different, the commonality is that they want to survive. The action is fast paced. It is not predictable. For the most part the characters are likable, there is one in particular I disliked but I believe he was written to be disliked. My only problem with the book was at times I had trouble remembering which characters thread was being followed. That may be user error on my part and not on the part of the author The Gates is the first book in a series so the ending does not have complete closure. I am adding the next book to my "to read" list.
Nigel Patterson does an excellent job narrating. I have enjoyed other books narrated by him and this one was no exception. I hope he continues to narrate this series.
I received a copy of the audio book in exchange for an honest review.
Cinched: Imagination Unbound came to my attention because it contained a short story by John G. Harness, author of the Quincy Harker series that I love. A corset appears in all the stories. In some it is a major feature and in others the corset is a sinister oppressive feature lurking just at the peripheral of the reader's eye.
The book contains the following stories:
The Basque of Red Death by Eden Royce
Cazadora by Andrea Judy
Snake Bite by Misty Massey
Escape by Kimberly Richardson
The Circus by Emily Lavin Leverett
Homecoming by Dave Harlequin
The Blue Lights by MB Weston
A Gift for Death by RD Stevens
High Fashion Hell by John G. Hartness
Tighten the Laces by Herika Raymer
The Shadow Fatale by Nico Serene
Bone of My Bone, Flesh of My Flesh by Sarah Joy Adams
Lagniappe by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin
I loved the women in this collection. They were all strong women, with or without the sinister corset. They all made very hard choices and sacrifices to help those they loved and lost.
All the stories were good but the three standouts were:
The Blue Lights - reminded me of the best of the Victorian mysteries like Sherlock Holmes
High Fashion Hell - as usual for a Harker story, funny and horrifying all at once.
Tighten the Laces - hit the unique scale with a large and rocked it
This is a strong collection. I would love to hear it as an audiobook, maybe James Foster and Rebecca Roberts as the narrators.
I picked up The Girl Who Could Read Hearts by Sherry Maysonave from Netgalley because the description of someone reading hearts instead of minds intrigued me. I thought it would a nice change of pace. The story is told in the third person but the perspective changes between a six year old child and several adults.
Kate is preparing to celebrate her sixth birthday. She has an angel figurine, Etta Elba, given to her the day she was born by her grandmother. The figurine communicates with her through wing movement and eye flashes. It seems as though there is a telepathic link also. The adults who surround Kate range from caring like her parents to evil like her uncle by marriage.
The concept of the book, that one's heart/soul can be visible has potential but I had a few problems with the book. Every character in Kate's family has names that are double initials, for example Terrence Ted or TT. Some of the minor characters had similar naming, for example Virginia Vettlehurst. I found that to be distracting after the first few chapters. My second problem was the characters were two dimensional. The "villian" Vaynem Moxsin reminded me (showing my age here) of the old cartoon character Snidley Whiplash. I found all the characters light or dark with very little in between.
The book contains Christian themes. Jesus and The Great Angel Mother are mentioned often. If religious themes are not your cup of tea, you may want to give this one a pass. Overall I enjoyed it. It was different. I see potential in the writing of Ms. Maysonaye and look forward to checking into her next book.
Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
I read Ms. Pulley's first book, The Dead Key, about 18 months ago and loved it. The Buried Book, her latest, did an excellent job of placing the reader in the time and location of the story. There is a rich atmosphere created around the rural setting and families living hand to mouth. I enjoyed that aspect of the book very much.
I did not connect with the characters as much in this book. The main character is a young man. He is surrounded by adults who never tell him the truth. They seem to believe that he should be protected from it. All the trouble he gets into could have been avoided if the adults had answered his questions truthfully. The one character I really did want to get to know, his mother, was inaccessible. Her story is told through her diary and in grudging tidbits from her family. She really intrigued me and I wish she had had a voice. Her presence is strong throughout the book but her voice is absent.
The mysteries, yes plural, in the story span decades. Much like The Dead Key, the main character is in the middle of a mystery that is linked to one from the past. Both must be unraveled. I enjoyed The Buried Book and would recommend it.
Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for honest review.