Making time for reading can be such a challenge! Having travelled the last few weeks, I’ve had – at times – more time to read. At others, however, not so much. Our first night in London, my husband told me just before bed he wasn’t sleepy. I told him I was the same, but we should relax in bed and read…
I was on my phone a bit and then opened up my book. About three lines in, I dozed off and the book fell on my face! It startled me awake and I had a giggle fit since obviously sleep wouldn’t be beyond reach for me that night. Luckily a few days more and I adjusted to the time change. Not to mention, we had some time on trains and a plane or two to get through some chapters! Nevertheless, it all served as a friendly reminder not to underestimate any reading time I get!
Jane Harper’s The Dry Review
It’s possible you’ve already come across The Dry, but it really is as good as everyone says it is. Harper, a former journalist, builds an incredibly suspenseful story grounded in the landscape of Australia.
Harper introduces us to Aaron Falk in this novel. A police officer who specializes in white collar crime. Falk is called back home to the tiny town of Kiewarra after what appears to the brutal murder/suicide of an old friend and his family. In the grip of unrelenting drought, the tension in the town is high, especially as Falk left town with his father decades ago in the wake of the last crime to rock the town. As Falk investigates, it becomes clear that the deaths of the family are not what they appear to be. Nor can he avoid delving into his own past…
The murder-mystery is satisfyingly investigated, but what makes this book stand out – at least to me – is the sense of place. Drought and isolation shape the narrative, the characters, and the plot in an almost claustrophobic way. Readers from arid climates, take note – this may well make you feel rather anxious!
T. C. Boyle’s The Women Review
The story of Frank Lloyd Wright’s marriages and love affairs – the reality behind the legend, really. T. C. Boyle’s The Women takes you, in reverse order, through Wright’s last two wives and the love of his life who died very tragically all too soon. In an unexpected way, the story is told through the voice of one of his mentees – a Japanese man who worked under Wright’s tutelage until the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
Each of the women seems astoundingly different than the last. While you feel for each of them (well two of them at least), you’re also left wondering about their inner workings and how (why?) they love the great architect. Each women is independent in her own way yet succumbs to Wright’s ways of life. Each of them keeps him going be it through love, inspiration, and keeping the homestead going (an accomplishment on their Wisconsin compound).
Throughout the book, you get much more of a behind-the-scenes taste of the real Frank Lloyd Wright. While his artistry is amazing, the man behind it all remains a bit of a mystery. Or perhaps an enigma? His artistry is innovative and scientific while his preferences for home life are simplistic and uncomplicated. It’s the stories of each of his love affairs, however, that leaves you questioning each of the characters more and more!
J.Y. Yang’s The Black Tides of Heaven Review
First, a general recommendation. For the last few years, Tor has been publishing some of the very best science fiction and fantasy novellas – fabulously imaginative books at very reasonable prices. The Black Tides of Heaven (and its companion books in J.Y. Yang’s Tensorate series) is one such – and it is rollicking good reading.
Yang writes in the ‘silkpunk’ subgenre – where steampunk generally pulls from the European Victorian periods. Yang and others take their inspiration from East Asia – and Yang crafts a marvelously inventive fantasy story of a world ruled by magic and the iron fist of The Protector.
Our main characters are twins, Mokoya and Akeha, children of the ruler, and they have unique gifts, one of prophecy, one of magic. They grow up sheltered within the monastery their mother traded them to for a political favor, until a chance encounter with a revolutionary sends them on divergent paths of rebellion. Drawn together, forced apart, and changing the world together – this is their story.
Because of the length of the book, much of the world building is merely teased at, as the real focus in this novella is on character and plot. But there are incredibly interesting details – for instance, in a world where magic is used to shape everything (including bodies), people choose their own genders as they become adults. This is a must for fans of Ann Leckie or anyone with an interest in Asian-inspired fantasy.