The Gravity of Birds | Tracey Guzeman

 

The Gravity of Birds by Tracey Guzeman

The Gravity of Birds by Tracey Guzeman

The Gravity of Birds by Tracey Guzeman is a book about art, artists and families.

In this compelling debut novel, an art authenticator and an art historian are employed by a famous, reclusive painter to sell a never-before-seen portrait, leading them to discover devastating secrets two sisters have kept from each other, and from the artist who determined the course of their lives. How do you find someone who wants to be lost?

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative-and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.

Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters-a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.

In The Gravity of Birds histories and memories refuse to stay buried; in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again.

Impresive, especially for a debut novel.

Continue reading

Doll Bones | Holly Black

Bones BlackDoll Bones by Holly Black is a childrens book about imagination, childhood and growing up.

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice.

But one night the girls pay Zach a visit and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – which claims to be made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

An impressive book.

Continue reading

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell | William Klaber

Lobdell KlaberThe Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber is an intersting look at gender and sexuality through the fictionalised account of a real life.

One day in 1855, Lucy Lobdell cut her hair, and put on britches.  She did it to earn men’s wages, but the changes went far beyond anything she had imagined.  The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, available in June 2013, is the account of Lucy’s extraordinary foray into the world of men and her inward journey to a new sexual identity.  It is her promised memoir, as heard and recorded a century later by William Klaber, an upstream neighbor.  Lucy promised to write a book about her “adventures in male attire,” but that book was never found.  Instead, more than a century later, author William Klaber received the gift of a satchel filled with letters and other documents concerning Lucy’s life.  Recognizing the historical importance, Klaber set out to do justice to a piece of forgotten Americana—to tell the story of what happened to Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell once she changed into pants.

Lucy Ann Lobdell was a real woman who dressed as a man in order to find work and a better life.

Continue reading

(re)visions: Alice | Various

(re)Visions: Alice is a collection of retellings of the childrens classic.

(re)Visions: Alice is the first in a planned series in the (re)Visions line, which is devoted to exploring the lasting legacy of classic works of speculative fiction on our genres and on our lives. In each book in the series, four authors will tackle a classic work of imaginative fiction, and give it their own spin; along with each of these novellas will also be the original work. In this first entry, Lewis Carroll’s timeless classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is presented, along with four modern pieces based on his work.

Here’s a summary of each of the novellas in Alice:

What Aelister Found Here
By Kaye Chazan

It is 1888, and Aelister has never felt at home, not even in his own skin. Now that he’s been expelled from school, he sees no reason to stick around his house in Warwickshire, so he runs away to another world altogether: London. The city is a maze of heat and rain, where a murderer stalks the streets of Whitechapel and a Crown Prince flouts his mother’s laws, and Aelister soon finds himself dealt into a series of deadly games—ones that put his life, and far more, on the line. And while London may not be the wonderland Aelister expected to find, he is far from the only person in the city looking for that very place.

House of Cards
By Amanda Ching

There’s Alice, who fell down a rabbit hole and had an adventure. Then there’s the Queen of Hearts, who loses her temper quite frequently. But before that, there was Mary Ann, a servant pressed past patience, past duty. As all three hurtle toward an inevitable meeting, a creature has broken from its coffin and is even now tunneling to meet them. When the deck is stacked like this, even the strongest foundation could crumble.

Knave
By Hilary Thomas

In the city they call Wonderland, the Queen calls the shots. If she doesn’t like the way you’re playing the game, she’ll give you the axe. Permanently. Jack Knave is an investigator, a man of many talents, an occasional blade for The Crown; and he’s the best at what he does. He knows every face in the city, every move they make, every connection.

Except one.

When a mysterious woman shows up in town, Jack is sure she’s not just here for the tourism. But the more he digs, the less he knows. Finding the answers means getting close to her, but she’s not the only one with secrets. Somebody’s been stealing from the Queen, and it looks like Jack’s taking the fall. Alice could seal his fate with a word—or not. With no options left, and the odds stacked against him, Jack must make a desperate gamble to survive. Whether his luck holds out or he’s left out to dry, one thing’s for certain: he can’t afford to lose his head.

The World in a Thimble
By C.A. Young

Toby Fitzsimmons hates the creepy sculpture of Alice on display in his gallery, but when it drops him into Wonderland for real, he’s not prepared for what he finds. From real living furniture to scoutmasters and cowboys to coyotes who really do go everywhere, Toby finds himself in a Wonderland that’s more deadly, and much more American, than the one he remembers reading about as a boy. At the heart of it all is the Catmistress, who rules over the city’s dark alleys and knows the secret of the Cheshire trick. In this strange new world, Toby will need all the help he can get to find his way home. Before that, though, he’ll have to find a way to keep from losing himself. Wonderland, it seems, changes everything it touches. And then there’s the thing in the sewers…

I really, really enjoyed this. Collections can be hard to review, but this was great.

Continue reading

A Spear of Summer Grass | Deanna Raybourne

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourne is a mainstream/romance set in 1920’s africa.

Paris, 1923 

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides. 

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.  

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.  

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.

This can be a difficult novel.

Continue reading

Lynnwood | Thomas Brown

Lynnwood (ebook ISBN 9781907230424)  by Thomas Brown is a horror about a town with a dark secret.

The unthinkable is happening in Lynnwood – a village with centuries of guilt on its conscience.

Who wouldn’t want to live in an idyllic village in the English countryside like Lynnwood? With its charming pub, old dairy, friendly vicar, gurgling brooks, and  its old paths with memories of simpler times.

But behind the conventional appearance of Lynnwood’s villagers, only two sorts of people crawl out of the woodwork: those who hunt and those who are prey. Visitors are watched by an entity between the trees where the Dark Ages have endured to the twenty-first century. Families who have lived behind stone walls and twitching curtains know that the gusts of wind blowing through the nearby alluring Forest bring with them a stench of delightful hunger only Lynnwood can appease.

This is really rather good.

Continue reading

The Heretics Daughter | Kathleen Kent

The Heretics Daughter by Kathleen Kent is a novel about the relationships between women set during the Witchcraft Trials of Salem.

Martha Carrier was hanged
on August 19th, 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, unyielding in her refusal
to admit to being a witch, going to her death rather than joining the
ranks of men and women who confessed and were thereby spared execution.
Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and wilful, openly
challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. In this
startling novel, she narrates the story of her early life in Andover,
near Salem. Her father is a farmer, English in origin, quietly stoical
but with a secret history. Her mother is a herbalist, tough but loving,
and above all a good mother. Often at odds with each other, Sarah and
her mother have a close but also cold relationship, yet it is clear that
Martha understands her daughter like no other. When Martha is accused
of witchcraft, and the whisperings in the community escalate, she makes
her daughter promise not to stand up for her if the case is taken to
court. As Sarah and her brothers are hauled into the prison themselves,
the vicious cruelty of the trials is apparent, as the Carrier family,
along with other innocents, are starved and deprived of any decency,
battling their way through the hysteria with the sheer willpower their
mother has taught them.

I picked this up because it was on sale, and I’m glad I did.

Continue reading