Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Once Upon A River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon A River: A Novel
by Diane Setterfield
Published by Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books • December 4, 2018
480 Pages • ISBN 978-0743298070 • Hardcover



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Book description:
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.

Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.


Once Upon a River is a return to form for Diane Setterfield. Bellman & Black, her followup to the astounding The Thirteenth Tale, fell far short for me; one of the rare occasions that I simply did not finish a book. I believe Setterfield was hard pressed to come up with something as incredible as The Thirteenth Tale and could not be pressured into a new story, and it shows in Bellman & Black. However Once Upon a River, while an entirely different creature from The Thirteenth Tale, has the same unputdownable pull. Read over the course of 3 sittings (the last keeping me up until the wee hours of the morning, reading the entire second half of the book), I was enthralled by the threads of story that she weaves throughout the book and had to find out how everything would come together in the end.

A tale told just as much through stories as the action itself, the reader follows the plight of three families as they all lay claim in one form or another to a mysterious child who was found dead but miraculously comes back to life. No once knows for sure who she is, but the child becomes the crux of the story and through her, secrets are brought to light that threaten to pull some families apart, while also bringing some families back together. Can the folklore of the region explain her away, or can the budding science of modern medicine give a reason to her miraculous resurrection? Who will finally lay claim to the child? These are questions only Setterfield can answer, and she answers them beautifully.

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

Alliances Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story is all over the place; Double Vision is obnoxious; how many times can Vader question Thrawn's loyalty, only to back off almost immediately, and then repeat the cycle all over again; does Thrawn ever get anything wrong, ever? To be honest, I don't feel like this book did anything to further along the SW literary galaxy, even tho I'm pretty sure we still haven't heard the last of Thrawn.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell
Published by Headline Books • September 23, 2014
128 Pages • ISBN 978-1472260086 • Hardcover



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Book description:
A stunning and timely creative call-to-arms combining four extraordinary written pieces by Neil Gaiman illustrated with the striking four-color artwork of Chris Riddell. (This is taken from the US edition - the UK edition's illustrations are in B&W.)

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”—Neil Gaiman

Drawn from Gaiman’s trove of published speeches, poems, and creative manifestos,
Art Matters is an embodiment of this remarkable multi-media artist’s vision—an exploration of how reading, imagining, and creating can transform the world and our lives.

Art Matters bring together four of Gaiman’s most beloved writings on creativity and artistry:

  • “Credo,” his remarkably concise and relevant manifesto on free expression, first delivered in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings
  • “Make Good Art,” his famous 2012 commencement address delivered at the Philadelphia University of the Arts
  • “Making a Chair,” a poem about the joys of creating something, even when words won’t come
  • “On Libraries,” an impassioned argument for libraries that illuminates their importance to our future and celebrates how they foster readers and daydreamers
Featuring original illustrations by Gaiman’s longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell, Art Matters is a stirring testament to the freedom of ideas that inspires us to make art in the face of adversity, and dares us to choose to be bold.


The best review I can give this book is to just read it, absorb it, live it, read it again.

This.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke: 30th Anniversary Edition by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland


Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke: 30th Anniversary Edition
by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland
Published by DC Comics • September 23, 2014
152 Pages • ISBN 978-1401284121 • Hardcover



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Book description:
One bad day. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, The Joker is out to prove a deranged point. And he's going to use Gotham City's top cop, commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl) to do it. Now Batman must race to stop his archnemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight's closest friends.

Critically acclaimed writer Alan Moore redefined the superhero with
Watchmen and V for Vendetta. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he takes on the origin of comics' greatest super-villain, The Joker, and changes Batman's world forever.

Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke: 30th Anniversary Edition includes both the recolored art by artist Brian Bolland and the original colors by John Higgins, along with the never-before-published scripts, and numerous Batman and Joker sketches and stories by Bolland.

Collects
Batman: Black and White #4; Batman: The Killing Joke; Countdown #31; Cover Story: The DC Comics Art of Brian Bolland; Joker: Last Laugh #1, #6; Joker's Greatest Stories Ever Told; Who's Who in the DC Universe #13 and Wonder Woman #96.

Even going into this new 35th Anniversary Absolute edition of Batman: The Killing Joke knowing there wasn't much new here to flesh out an entire Absolute offering, the redundancy was overwhelmingly obvious when I finally got the volume in hand and read it thru. Including the various covers and pinups attached to the series was a nice addition, the script was interesting to flip thru, and the additional short stories from other volumes helped fill out the volume, but basically running the entire story 3 times in a row in one volume (the new recolored edition on better paper, the original colored edition on basically newsprint, and then the script) was a little overkill for me. Don't get me wrong, like all of DC's Absolute editions, this is an impressive volume, but unless you are a serious hardcore The Killing Joke fan, skip this for one of the cheaper editions available. (Normally, I give this book a 4 star rating, but the redundancy of this project dropped this particular volume down a star.)

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Old-Fashioned Snow: A Story by May Sarton

The Old-Fashioned Snow: A Story
by May Sarton
Published by William B. Ewert, Publisher • 1992
20 Pages • Handsewn in Paper Wrappers



It's a rare occasion for me to discover a May Sarton publication that I don't own or know existed, so imagine my surprise when this slim edition of Sarton's short story "The Old-Fashioned Snow" popped up on eBay last week. I immediately jumped on the auction and it was delivered yesterday. It is a gorgeous 2 color printing designed by John Kristensen, printed and handsewn in wrappers by Firefly Press in Somerville, MA. It's the story of Uncle Charles, who may or may not remember things exactly as they were in his childhood, as he shares a day of fun and frolic with his nieces during an old-fashioned snow. Sarton again uses her keen insight into old age and weaves a touching and heartwarming story that shows while some memories may become exaggerated in old age, they can still be just as important no matter how they are remembered. A wonderful addition to my collection, and another of Sarton's stories for my to cherish.