Thursday, 27 February 2020

Shout-Out: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Sky in the Deep in this bewitching, historical horror novel, perfect for fans of Holly Black and V.E. Schwab.

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the deeply-buried truths about themselves. Equal parts classic horror novel and original fairytale, The Bone Houses will have you spellbound from the very first page.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

History Review: Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography by Sara Lipton

After the introduction there are seven chapters: Mirror of the Fathers: The Birth of a Jewish Iconography, ca. 1015-1100, Blinding Light and Blinkered Witness, ca. 1100-1160, Jewish Eyes: Loveless Looking and the Unlovely Christ, ca. 1160-1220, All the World’s a Picture: Jews and the Mirror of Society, ca. 1220-1300, The Jew’s Face: Flesh, Sight, and Sovereignty, ca. 1230-1350, Where are the Jewish Women?, and The Jew in the Crowd: Surveillance and Civic Vision, ca 1350-1500.

The first few chapters the author would posit an idea and then later refute it, making a mess of my attempts to note take the book. I found the later chapters much more straightforward. The chapters are all subdivided into smaller subjects that wrap around the issue so you get a feel for the times and places being discussed in addition to the main question of how Jews were depicted in art during the middle ages.

She alternates between generalized statements and specific examples but constantly reminds the reader that there is no singular interpretation - that anti-semitic images existed along side images showing Jews witnessing ancient prophets and detailing important Old Testament stories in positive ways. The slow evolution of images from merely illustrating stories to hook nosed, cap wearing personifications of evil is a sad reflection of their society as a whole, made even sadder by the fact that you can see a lot of similar beliefs/accusations against Jews and other minority groups cropping up in society today.

The book contains a good amount of black and white photographs of the artworks discussed as well as a central section with colour photos.

It’s an interesting and complex topic and the author does a good job of breaking it down into smaller, easy to understand pieces.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Shout-Out: Songs From the Deep by Kelly Powell

The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Book Review: The Killing Light by Myke Cole

Note added June 25, 2020: since this review was posted some allegations have been raised against this author.
------------------


Pros: intense, great slow-burn romance

Cons:

Heloise and her allies march on the Emperor’s city, but a ghastly glow behind them changes their focus when it becomes clear a rent has been torn into the demonic realm after their battle with the magicians in Lyse and demons have come through.

As with the previous volumes there is a lot of action, a lot of pain, and a lot of surprise twists. The book can get very intense at times, especially during the fight scenes. I had no idea where anything was going but the ending felt like the perfect wrap-up for all Heloise had been through.

I loved the relationship that formed between Heloise and her bodyguard Xilyka. Xilyka’s understanding of Heloise’s PTSD was wonderful to see.

Tone’s storyline was very surprising considering everything he did in the previous books and yet seemed to fit. I appreciated that though Heloise was hurt and angry, she never became a monster.

This is a great series if you want a heroine you can root for - the whole way through, one who grows as a person and doesn’t become corrupted by loss.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Shout-Out: The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

South Africa in the 1880s. A young and naive English doctor by the name of William Abbey witnesses the lynching of a local boy by the white colonists. As the child dies, his mother curses William. 
William begins to understand what the curse means when the shadow of the dead boy starts following him across the world. It never stops, never rests. It can cross oceans and mountains. And if it catches him, the person he loves most in the world will die.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Book Review: Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

Pros: compelling, thought provoking

Cons: limited tension

The world believes that 10 years ago Zahra’s father killed everyone aboard the House of Wisdom spaceship using an old virus. Zahra now belongs to a wasteland ‘family’ that plans to hijack the ship and use it as a new home, escaping the reach of the United Councils of Earth. To access the ship Zahra and a small group kidnap the only surviving member of the House of Wisdom massacre, Jaswinder Bhattacharya. But the Councils were wrong about what happened on the ship and Zarah’s small infiltration group is about to learn the horrifying truth.

This is a very compelling read. I had a hard time putting it down and finished it in one day. This did have the unfortunate side effect that I didn’t really have time to fear for the characters’ lives or feel any emotional connection with any but the point of view characters. There was only limited tension built up before bad things happened.

The story is told from the alternating points of view of Zahra and Jaswinder, with occasional transmission logs in between giving information from the time of the original massacre. Both protagonists were in many ways broken people with tragic pasts and complicated presents. They were interesting to learn more about and easy to sympathize with.

The book occasionally had characters point out the racism and politics of their world, especially with the treatment of Jaswinder’s best friend, Baqir, who immigrated to the Councils but lost family members and an arm to a disease before their application was processed.

The mystery on the ship was handled well, with information being revealed at a satisfying rate.

It’s a great, quick read.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

3D Notre-Dame de Paris Puzzle

For Christmas my husband got me a really cool, incredibly detailed, 3D model/puzzle for Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral.  I spent the last 2 weekends putting it together. It's by a company called Cubic Fun.

The pieces are printed on each side of thin foamboard, which you punch out of cards. There's also a card of printed acetate windows and double sided tape pieces for putting the windows in.

The puzzle/model starts by putting the west facade together. I was amazed by the number of pieces each step took.

The doors look so real, with a piece of foamboard for each layer of statuary. It looks amazing. And they got the pictures for the sculpture right - so each door has the proper tympanum and archivolts (sculpture above and around the door), rather than the same images printed 3 times. The rose windows are also different, though the other windows are copies of the same image.

 Next were the two sides, and all their flying buttresses.

Here's one side done, roof and all.

The finished cathedral looks incredible and is quite large. My cat walked around it while I was taking pictures, giving a sense of scale. Closed, it's over a foot high and at least a foot and a half long.


It even opens up so you can see the interior aisles and tiny altar.