Thursday, 13 February 2020

Some New Books, A Reading Update and The Science Fiction Novel

Valentine's Day Eve!
Happy Valentine's Day Eve!!!

It's been a nice day today. I took a few books down to my local used book store, Nearly New Books, and discovered that they had a whole bunch of new books... new used books that is. So I found 4 that continue series I'm interested in. Oh, I also happily discovered a couple of new shops in the Comox Mall, directly across from the dentist and new brew pub and right beside the Cannabis store... 😀 Yup we do have some interesting places opening up. Anyway, one of the new shops was the Soup Cabin... something like that anyway. Whatever they were cooking today smelled excellent! Beside it was a new book store (I can't remember the name of it either.. *sigh*) but it specializes in children's books and those for young adults. There were some that looked interesting to me.

Anyway, it's almost time for Jeopardy so I'm going to get down to business here. I'll update the new books I bought, provide my review for the book I finished and give you the synopsis of the next book in line and then continue with my look at the Science Fiction novel. Today I'll highlight four books from new authors to me.

New Books

1.  Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper (Dark is Rising #5). I enjoyed the first book in this young adult fantasy series very much. I will read the whole series.

"This is the fifth and last book in "The Dark Is Rising" sequence. The Dark is rising in its last and greatest bid to control the world. The servants of the light: Will Stanton, the last of the Old Ones, the mysterious Professor Merriman, and the strange albino Welsh boy, Bran, are helped by three ordinary children in this last desperate battle."

2. The Flight by M.R. Hall (Jenny Cooper #4). I have enjoyed the CBC TV series based loosely on these books and am interested in trying them. I'll read the first this year I hope.

"When Flight 189 plunges into the Severn Estuary, Coroner Jenny Cooper finds herself handling the case of a lone sailor whose boat appears to have been sunk by the stricken plane, and drawn into the mysterious fate of a ten year-old girl, Amy Patterson, a passenger on 189, whose largely unmarked body is washed up alongside his. While a massive and highly secretive operation is launched to recover clues from the wreckage, Jenny begins to ask questions the official investigation doesn't want answered. How could such a high tech plane virtually impregnable against human error fail? What linked the high powered passengers who found themselves on this ill-fated flight? And how did Amy Patterson survive the crash, only to perish hours later? Under pressure from Amy's grieving mother, and opposed by those at the very highest levels of government, Jenny must race against time to seek the truth behind this terrible disaster, before it can happen again ..."

3. Dust by Hugh Howey (Silo #3). I read the first two volumes of this fascinating Sci-Fi series. Silo is the final book.

"In a time when secrets and lies were the foundations of life, someone has discovered the truth. And they are going to tell.

Jules knows what her predecessors created. She knows they are the reason life has to be lived in this way.

And she won't stand for it.

But Jules no longer has supporters. And there is far more to fear than the toxic world beyond her walls.

A poison is growing from within Silo 18.

One that cannot be stopped.

Unless Silo 1 step in."

4. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (Mrs. Peregrine #3). I enjoyed Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Unusual Children, the first book in this series very much. It was nice to see the 3rd book on the shelves.

"A boy with extraordinary powers. An army of deadly monsters. An epic battle for the future of peculiardom.

The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience."

Just Finished
My February specific reading challenge was to read a few of the Margaret Millar mysteries I've been collecting. This is the 2nd completed this month.

1. Taste of Fears by Margaret Millar (1950).

"Taste of Fears is the 2nd book I've read this month by Canadian / American mystery writer Margaret Millar. It's also the 2nd of her two books featuring Toronto Police Inspector Sands. I keep saying this after I've read one of Millar's stories, but she is a fantastic mystery writer and story teller.

The story is set in Toronto Canada in the 1940s. Lucille Morrow is married to gynecologist Andrew Morrow and lives with him, his sister Edith and his two grown children, Martin and Polly. Lucille is Andrew's second wife. His first wife, Mildred, who was also a friend of Lucille, was murdered 15 years ago (ish) and after a time, Andrew married Mildred. The murder was never solved.

Andrew and the two children are going to pick up Giles, Polly's fiance, and on their return, stop to assist in recovery efforts from a train crash. The next day, a shabby man delivers a package to Lucille, while the others are out of the house. This package distresses Lucille terribly and when the others return, she has disappeared. The police become involved, including Inspector Sands, when Andrew reports her missing. Lucille is found at a bar, and because of her mental condition, she is put into Penwood Institution for psychiatrist treatment. It becomes apparent that she wants to stay because she feels safer there.

That is the gist of the story, which progresses as Inspector Sands continues the investigation; looking once again at the original murder of Mildred, plus looking into other deaths (murders?) that occur during the course of this story. Millar is skilled at throwing out diverse threads that seem to sit there; the death of a junkie, the train crash, etc and leaving them there for you to ponder until she slowly brings them all together into a satisfying conclusion.

As the other stories by Millar that I've enjoyed, she does not keep the story-telling focused on one particular character. We get perspectives from all of them, from the main characters like Sands, Lucille, Edith, etc all the way down to minor characters like the two maids that work for the Morrows, or the nurse at Penwoods, etc. This adds to the richness of the story and lets you see what the others are feeling or thinking.

I can only say that the more I read of Millar's works, the more I appreciate her ability in spinning a great yarn and developing a mystery that will both entertain you and keep you thinking. (4.5 stars)"

Just Started
I'm continuing with my Margaret Millar reading challenge.

1. The Fiend (1964).

"The young girl... the prison... the doctors... they were all part of the past. Charlie was free and getting well now -

So no one had to know how much time Charlie spent around the school yard, watching. No one did - until the night 9-year-old Jessie Brant disappeared..."

The Science Fiction Novel - The Newbies Part 1?
Just to make this perfectly clear when I say newbies, I mean new to me, not new authors. Most of these four authors came to my attention when I did a series of posts a couple of years ago highlighting Award winning songs and books, including Hugo Award winners.

Joan D. Vinge
1. Joan D. Vinge. Vinge was born in Baltimore Maryland in 1948 and is best known for The Snow Queen for which she won the Hugo Award in 1981. I purchased The Snow Queen in 2017.

The Snow Queen.

"The Winter colonists have ruled Tiamat for 150 years, slaughtering the gentle sea mers in trade for off-world wealth. But soon the gate to the galactic Hegemony will close, Tiamat will be isolated, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. Unless... Arienrhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can commit a genocidal crime - and destroy destiny... unless Sparks Dawntreader, the Snow Queen's companion, can survive sea and city, palace and slums - and find destiny... unless Hegemony Commander Jerusha Palathion, the Snow Queen's victim, can find one ally on Tiamat - and change destiny... And unless Moon Summer, a young mystic, can break a conspiracy that spans space - and control destiny. Because Moon is the Snow Queen's lost weapon. The Snow Queen's lost rival. The Snow Queen's lost nemesis. The Snow Queen's lost soul. Moon is the Snow Queen's clone..."

Neal Stephenson
2. Neal Town Stephenson. American author of speculative fiction was born in 1959 in Fort Meade Maryland. He has received nominations for various of his novels. I have two on my bookshelf.

a. Snow Crash (1992) British Sci-Fi Award nominee (1993) and Clarke Award nominee (1994).

"Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison -- a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cyber-sensibility to bring us the gigantic thriller of the information age. In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's Cosa Nostra Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous... you'll recognize it immediately."

b. Anathem (2008) Locus Award Winner (2009), etc.

"For ten years Fraa Erasmas, a young avout, has lived in a cloistered sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world. But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change—and Erasmas will become a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world, as he follows his destiny to the most inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond."

David Eddings
3. David Eddings. David Eddings was born in Spokane Washington in 1931 and died in Carson City Nevada in 2009. He was author of a number of epic fantasy series, The Belgariad, The Malloreon, The Elenium, The Tamuli and The Dreamers. He won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1983 for the novel that I have on my book shelf.

a. Pawn of Prophecy (Belgariad #1)

"Long ago, so the Storyteller claimed, the evil God Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But that was only a story, and Garion did not believe in magic dooms, even though the dark man without a shadow had haunted him for years. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved—but did not know?

For a while, his dreams of innocence were safe, untroubled by knowledge of his strange heritage. For a little while…

Thus begins the first book of The Belgariad, a magnificent epic of immense scope set against a history of seven thousand years of the struggles of Gods and Kings and men—of strange lands and events—of fate and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!"

Kim Stanley Robinson
4. Kim Stanley Robinson. Kim Stanley Robinson was born in Waukegan Illinois in 1952. He is especially noted for his Mars trilogy but wrote 19 novels and a variety of short stories. He won the Hugo Award for best novel for Green and Red Mars and the Nebula Award for the novel below 2312, amongst many awards over his career.

a. 2312 (2012).

"The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them."

So there you go. Enjoy your Valentine's Day Friday!

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