Title: Lakebridge: Spring
Author: Natasha Troop
Source: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Vermont, picturesque and lovely, attracts visitors from across the country in search for the perfect picture, the perfect fall foliage or perhaps a taste of maple syrup. Stansbury is best known for the odd covered bridge that spans Stansbury Lake and goes nowhere, connecting no roads and serving no known purpose. The locals call it the Lakebridge. Very few know of its mysterious origins and fewer care to know more. Those visiting the town perhaps take a few snapshots and leave, their curiosity quelled by an uneasy feeling that they shouldn’t think on it anymore.
The tourists will eventually leave Stansbury, but its residents strangely linger, seemingly held captive by a force they barely recognize. They also do not think about the town’s mysterious artifact much except in passing, all but Gil, his father, Ben, and a few others. They know of the bridge’s dark history and understand that it is responsible for every horror that ever befell the people of Stansbury: the people who fear the bridge but will not speak of it. The bridge makes people do things – bad things – so that it can continue to love and care for them all.
Some have tried to destroy the bridge, but as long as the bridge is fed with the lives of the innocents of Stansbury it will go on – loving the people of Stansbury.
Lakebridge: Spring is the first of a four book cycle revolving around Stansbury and the Lakebridge.
This series is described as supernatural horror. I’m generally squeamish about horror but thought I could handle this and I did. If you’re looking for broken bones and slashed up bodies this is not the book for you. That’s not to say there isn’t violence in it. There is but it fits the story and isn’t so graphic it kept me from eating while reading.
Lakebridge: Spring has elements of a whodunit which pulls the reader into the story. No character, no matter how minor, is wasted.
This novel is grounded in the present and what can be seen. People are living their lives and not thinking too far ahead into their futures. They never ponder the purpose of the bridge. They don’t wonder what happened to the many apothecary counter girls who disappeared over the years. Something always turns their thoughts away from the past and back to the present.
I often find stream of consciousness points of view annoying. The stream of consciousness storytelling works. In fact, it really helps you understand the characters better. Even the weasel faced Deputy’s thoughts provides laughs. Sure, it’s a dark story, but it’s got humor to lighten the tension.
About the Author:
Natasha grew up in Southern California and received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Comparative Literature. She also holds Masters Degrees in both Secondary Education and Creative Writing. Natasha currently lives in the Phoenix area with her spouse, son, daughter and menagerie of pets, including a Basset named Moose and a very overprotective collie dog. Aside from writing and teaching high school students to love theatre.
Connect with Natasha on the Stansbury, Vermont blog, Facebook or Twitter.
Title: Thoroughly Modern Monsters
Author: Jennifer Rainey
Source: My personal library
Monster – (noun) an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.
In Thoroughly Modern Monsters, most of the stories take place in the present time. Each story features a different monster. On first reading, they don’t meet The New Oxford American Dictionary definition of monster. On a second or third reading you ask, “Who are the real monsters? The werewolves, ghosts, or sirens? Or the humans who created the Monster Relocation and Employment Act which exploits the monsters?”
My only complaint about Thoroughly Modern Monsters is the length. It’s comprised of seven stories and I was not ready to let go of this alternate universe. The heart of the stories are the emotions. We can all identify with the desire for a fulfilling job, the wish to be left in peace, and the nervousness caused by a new path in life. If you’re a fan of literary fiction then you’ll probably like this one.
Author: Ha Jin
Publisher: Vintage Books
Source: Personal book collection
The winner of the 1999 US National Book Award for Fiction, a poignant and deliciously funny love story, set in China during and after the Cultural Revolution.
For more than seventeen years, Lin Kong, a devoted and ambitious doctor, has been in love with an educated, clever, modern woman, Manna Wu. But back in his traditional home village lives the humble, loyal wife his family chose for him years ago. Every summer, he returns to ask her for a divorce and every summer his compliant wife agrees but then backs out. This time, after eighteen years’ waiting, Lin promises it will be different.
What happens when you wait 2+ years to marry the person you love? That is what Ha Jin explores in Waiting. And it doesn’t seem to be very pretty for either side. Manna Wu becomes bitter over time and Lin Kong wonders if he’s made the right decision after all this time.
I really wanted to connect with the characters but couldn’t for some reason.
Title: Goblin Tales
Author: Jim C. Hines
Source: My Personal Library
A vengeful ghost trapped in a goblin’s ear … a flaming spider who must help stop a goddess from conquering a science fiction convention … a goblin nursery worker who finds herself trapped in the middle of a war. This collection features five humorous short stories that explore the fantasy realm from the perspective of the lowest of the low, the unlikeliest of unheroes: the goblins.
You don’t have to be familiar with the Goblin Tales Trilogy to enjoy these stories. This was my way of dipping my toe into the goblin waters and find out if I’d be interested in reading the entire series. It worked. If you like your fantasy slightly skewed and humorous then you’ll like Jim C. Hines.
This was a quick read which I finished in a few days.
Title: The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity
Editors: Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray
Publisher: Daw Books
Source: Columbus Metropolitan Library
What if the fae were still here, living among us? Perhaps living in secret, doing their best to pass for human? Or perhaps their existence is acknowledged, but they’re still struggling to fit in. How have they survived? Are they outcasts clinging to the edges of society, or do their powers ensure success in the mortal realm? Here are fourteen fabulous tales-ranging from humor to dark fantasy-that explore how the creatures of fae are fitting into the modern world.
Here’s another great summer read for these dog days of summer. This collection of short stories has a wide variety of styles and different perspectives on the relationships fae have with humans. Some fae try to blend in, some use their powers to manipulate humans, and at least one has no regard for humans. These stories can easily be read between dips into the pool.
I first read about the project on Palmatier’s blog and followed its progress. The theme of the anthology was broad enough to encompass different types of fae and restrictive enough to let the writers’ creativity fly. It didn’t disappoint.
Title: Dogs Don’t Lie
Author: Clea Simon
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Pru Marlowe isn’t your ordinary animal psychic. A tough girl on the run from her own gift, Pru left the big city to return to her picturesque Berkshires hometown looking for a little peace. Too bad that her training as an animal behaviorist got her mixed up with Lily-a rescue dog-and Charles-Lily’s person. Now Charles is dead, and Lily looks good for it. After all, Lily is a pitbull, a fighting ring dropout, and way too traumatized to give Pru a clear picture of what she has witnessed. But Pru knows something about bad girls trying to clean up, and, with a sense of justice strong enough to overcome her dislike of human society, she takes the case. Listening to the animals, Pru picks up clues-and learns there are secrets in the pretty little town that make murder look simple. Unable to tell anybody about her psychic abilities, uncertain at times about her own sanity, Pru comes to realize that if she clears Lily, she’ll likely become the prime suspect-or the next victim. While the only creature she can totally trust is her crotchety tabby Wallis, Pru’s got to uncover the real killer-and find a way to live with her gift-before the real beasts in the town savage her and those she has come to love. The first in the Pru Marlowe “pet noir” series.
Pru’s an animal behaviorist and dog walker who happens to be a natural animal psychic. She can eavesdrop on their thoughts. Unfortunately, she can’t confide in anyone how she can be so certain about what she knows. This can complicate things when it comes to solving who killed Charles and bringing the perpetrator to justice.
The animals who assist Pru become unique characters. Some of them are more likable than their human counterparts. The plotting of the mystery will keep the reader guessing until the end. Isn’t that part of the fun of reading a mystery?
Clea Simon is a Massachusetts‑based writer, journalist and a regular contributor to the New York Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Ms., Rolling Stone and Salon.com. She’s the author of three nonfiction books, Mad House: Growing Up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings, Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads, and The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats. She lives inCambridge, MA, with her husband, the writer Jon S. Garelick, and their cat, Musetta.
Title: The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
Author: Nichole Bernier
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group (Random House)
Source: Publisher for review
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. is a thought-provoking novel about relationships. How well can you know your best friend? Or your husband? Which characteristics or habits are you willing to overlook or fool yourself into believing don’t exist?
Those are some of the questions most people don’t explore. Through the journals, Kate discovers Elizabeth’s philosophy that sharing confidences only makes the other person feel worse. It helps explain why Elizabeth never told Kate some of her most private heartaches or why she was really on the plane that crashed. The journals also help Kate figure out she needs to move beyond the fear of this new post-9/11 and live her life. No one can plan for every contingency.
The back and forth between Elizabeth’s journals and Kate’s life have the give and take of a conversation. This format was one of my favorite aspects of the novel. It’s not something that was easily pulled off. Bernier had to put a lot of time into revisions to make it flow properly.
Title: A Long, Long Sleep
Author: Anna Sheehan
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley
Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose– hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire– is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes– or be left without any future at all.
It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone– and her future full of peril.
In essence, Sheehan has imagined Sleeping Beauty with a science fiction setting. If you’re not a fan of science fiction, don’t let it keep you from reading this novel. Rose is an outsider trying to figure out how she fits into this new world and what she wants from her life.
The plot is solid and asks some tough questions about how children should be raised. The characterizations of Rose and her two friends, Otto and Bren, are deep. All have their faults and their merits.
Title: Goblin Quest
Author: Jim C. Hines
Publisher: DAW Books
Source: Columbus Metropolitan Library
In Goblin Quest we’re introduced to Jig. He’s a runt amongst Goblins and still assigned to muck duty which is usually reserved for youngsters. Filling up the 46 fire bowls in the tunnels without catching one’s self on fire is hazardous enough – Jig also has to steer clear of his bully cousin. One evening, his cousin gets the upper hand. When his cousin contaminates the muck, Jig is forced to do patrol duty. He patrols the tunnels while his cousin (and cronies) gamble. Jig’s only companion is Smudge, a fire-spider.
Jig is captured by a group of adventurers. One prince is going to prove himself to his father by finding the Rod of Creation. The other prince, a mage, is helping his brother. Their Dwarf teacher, an amateur cartographer, is there to keep them from killing one another. A sullen Elf pickpocket rounds out the party. Since Jig lives in the tunnels, they think he knows the way to their destination.
With characteristic humor, Hines shows how stubborn and foolhardy adventurers can be. It takes more than brawn and magic to figure out a puzzle. This was a light read I finished in a few days.
Title: Coyote Ugly And Other Tales
Author: Pati Nagle
Publisher: Evennight Books
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
This collection of short stories is a delightful mishmash of genres. They aren’t set in the same place or time and really show off Nagle’s versatility. It was the unexpected that kept me returning for more.
Characters and plots have stayed with me long after reading this collection. I can still picture the feline detective checking baggage at the
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