North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Quick plot summary: Country mouse Margaret Hale moves to a Northern town in England with her family, befriends a cotton factory worker and his daughter, and feuds with the handsome cotton mill owner John Thornton.

After watching the BBC mini-series, I was inspired to read Gaskell’s North & South. The mini-series is fantastic. If you like longing looks…

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Or looks out windows…

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North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood is an author who I will give the benefit of doubt and read anything she writes. Her blending of feminism and speculative fiction (her term)/science fiction (generally recognized) is satisfying. Her versions of a not-so-distant future are never too far from the present which makes them even more harrowing. They seem possible and because of that all the more urgent.

How could I not read The Heart Goes Last? It’s her first speculative fiction outside of her fabulous Maddaddam Trilogy. Be cautioned, the advertising around this novel is  misleading. This isn’t a new book. Atwood initially published the book as a string of serial stories on Byliner beginning with I’m Starved for You and ending with The Heart Goes Last. The book appears to be a compilation of these stories with some light editing for its final format.

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The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Short Reviews, Quick Takes

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In The Visitors Lucy is recovering from a typhoid fever in Egypt with her American governess at her side. She is listless and unable to focus on the living until she meets and befriends Frances Winlock whose father is an archaeologist. Soon she becomes part of a crowd which includes Howard Carter, Lord Carnavon, and others who discover King Tut’s tomb. This discovery mold’s Lucy’s life.

A bleak book crowded with historical figures and events. The discovery takes place in the 1920s, but the book dwells in the disastrous events afterwards and follows Lucy to her old-age. There are so many disasters and ghosts. Beauman appears to be grieving for an age of exploration and adventure that is long past. I couldn’t help but wish that this book had more joy in it and less history.

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Short Reviews, Quick Takes

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

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Digby is trouble with a capital ‘T.’ Ever since his sister disappeared, he has been obsessed with solving the mystery even if it means breaking the law. When another girl goes missing in River Heights he’s convinced that the two disappearances are related and goes on a reckless, hilarious, and dangerous quest to solve the case.

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Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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There is too much banter in a lot of young adult fiction. I blame Joss Whedon. Brennan has to be a Buffy fan, you can tell it with the pointless jokes during crises, conversations that go nowhere and a group of friends who might as well be the Scooby gang.

I liked Buffy, but so many people are trying to write this way that some are bound to fail.

So. Much. Banter.

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Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Defending Jacob by William Landay

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A teenager is found stabbed to death next to a New England wooded bike trail. Andy Barber, Assistant District Attorney, gets the call and rushes to the scene of the crime. He’s all the more eager to catch the killer when he discovers that the victim is his son’s classmate. However, when Jacob is implicated as a possible suspect, Andy is taken off the case and he must consider the worse while trying to keep his family from imploding.

Defending Jacob is an interesting blend of thriller, mystery, courtroom drama, and family drama. I love it when stories defy genre. It often makes for more complex and interesting stories.

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Defending Jacob by William Landay

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

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Valente’s novels are hard to describe because they are so crazy and random and ambitious. This is about a documentarian Severin who investigates the disappearance of a town and becomes a mystery herself. This is about what would happen if during the 1920s we colonized the planets in our solar system. This is about space whales!

See?

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Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente