Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top Ten Halloween Freebie

 

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is Top Ten Halloween freebie! I'm going with scary/ atmospheric reads- I'm not a horror fan so none of these will be that (with one or two exceptions) but all of these have a creepy or spooky vibe about them. In some cases the supernatural bits may just be rumors, in  other cases they are definitely part of the story.    


The Wood

13 Treasures (Thirteen Treasures, #1)

13 Curses (Thirteen Treasures, #2)

13 Secrets

This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1)


The Blackbird Season

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1)

Fear the Drowning Deep

Freeks

Nightstruck (Nightstruck #1)

Ten

Tuesday Tagline #63

The Blackbird Season

When they fell, so did she...  That gets my attention.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Blackbird Season

The Blackbird Season  

The Blackbird Season is a book I couldn't read fast enough. It had me from the get-go with this tale of love and secrets in a rural Pennsyvania town. It begins with an eerie premise- thousands of starlings falling from the sky, dead. All over town. And the story unfolds from there as Nate and his wife see their marriage fracture after Nate is accused of sleeping with one of his students. Nate claims he's innocent, and their mutual friend Bridget, another teacher, believes him. Well, mostly. The evidence is pretty convincing, but she knows Nate and she knows he didn't do it. 

The student in question, Lucia, is the heart of the story. A troubled girl, with white hair and a reputation as a witch, she's the accuser but throughout the story it's unclear what her relationship is with Nate. Was he just helping her through a tough time? He has a reputation for being close to his students, and he's the baseball coach and popular. Most of the parents like him, at least until he's accused. Then the town golden boy is suddenly persona non grata, and Bridget is one of the few that stands by him. Nate also has issues in his marriage with Alecia,who cares for their autistic son Gabe mostly alone. Alecia's whole life is wrapped around Gabe and his special needs, and Nate feels neglected. 

The story is told from four viewpoints- Nate and Alecia, as well as Bridget and occasionally Lucia. The Lucia chapters mostly to serve to provide a glimpse into the enigmatic Lucia's life and background, which is pretty depressing. She's being abused by her brother and her parents have run off, and her only lifeline is her friend Taylor, who seems to run hot and cold with her. And that's partly where Nate comes in- the guy who's disconnected from his wife's struggles seems to be there for everyone else in town, including his students- and Lucia. I thought they were all compelling, sometimes unlikable, sometimes totally relatable, and it felt true to life. The small town, the cliques, the snarky parents. And strangely enough, the book is funny. At least I thought so- the narrative voice for each character is pretty distinct, but the author has a way of poking fun at suburban life in a way that reminded me of Liane Moriarty. I found myself laughing at certain points, especially in Alecia's chapters. You can relate to her frustrations and her feelings toward Nate, as he sails through life while she tends to Gabe. 

 There's no real right or wrong here- it's just people, and everyone has a point. Nate and Bridget both feel like Gabe consumes every waking moment in Alecia's life, and he does- they would like her to lighten up, just a bit, and she of course doesn't understand that at all. Bridget has her own issues, she's now a widow and sort of tuned out of the daily school rhythms- she's just going through the motions, but her role as creative writing instructor gives her insight into the students, especially when things erupt. She's crucial to the story as she is the only one with access to Lucia's innermost thoughts, via her journal. She discovers some unsettling truths about the people around Lucia and tries to help.  

What's with the birds? It lends a possibly paranormal element to the story, which I liked, and while a possible explanation is given, it's left open- ended  I found the climactic reveal a little unrealistic, but each chapter provides more insight into these flawed people and I couldn't get enough. The characters are complex and well- drawn, and this book looks at so many things- how well do we really know someone? We can never know their innermost thoughts- does that matter? Nate is a nice guy who doesn't help his wife enough. Alecia is a great mother who can also be a bitch, as several people point out. Bridget comes out of her grief- induced fog to push for the truth, when no one else does. What is justice in a small town? Can you trust the cops? What are kids really doing at the high school, or at parties? Why does Lucia see birds, and is she a victim or a wild child or both? 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Top Ten Unique Book Titles

 

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is Top Ten Unique Book Titles. Kind of a fun topic.   


Need

Panic (Panic, #1)

Eight Hundred Grapes

Wreck

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick (Perry & Gobi, #1)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Hitchhiker's Guide, #4)

A Map for Wrecked Girls

The Lifeboat Clique

Tuesday Tagline #62

Layover

One missed flight. Two broken hearts. Three unforgettable days. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

On The Run 17

The Ministry was an immense structure, almost a city unto itself. It ran for miles and had its own shuttle service, to ferry VIP's or technicians from one end to another. You could work there for years and not see all of it, and of course there were the restricted areas few did see. It was easy to get lost, and even easier perhaps to lose perspective, surrounded as you were by like- minded souls and never seeing the practical effects of your work. All of this ran through Eric's mind as he sat at a conference room table, waiting. 

Across from him Anna was looking at her datapad absently, but he could see she was distracted. Nervous, too. They had made it as far as the reception area before they were scooped up by security and whisked here, into a conference room over looking the courtyard. That felt like it had been hours ago. A carafe of water, some coffee, and lots of waiting. At one point McKittrick had appeared, breezing in with an armful of files, all business. Eric knew him vaguely, a mid-level functionary who was no doubt trying to round up whoever could really talk to them. 

"Look, is there a reason we can't report to our area? Why are we being held?" Eric had asked. 
"You're not being held. You're waiting," McKittrick had replied in that harried tone of voice he had. 
"Waiting for who, exactly?" Eric kept his voice calm. 
"Waiting. As in someone will see you when they can. You're not supposed to be here, you know," he lowered his voice conspiratorially. "You caused quite a stir coming in the front door like that. Weren't you supposed to sit tight?"
"Yes, we were," Eric replied. "And I'm afraid that's not acceptable. We come in, shot all to hell, missing three people, and we're told to sit tight? Seriously? What's going on?"
"Eric..." Anna started. 
"No, I get it.This takes time to sort out. It's been a couple days. I want answers." Eric couldn't keep his voice from rising. 
"Yes, yes, we all want answers. This doesn't just affect you, you know," McKittrick pointed out. "You were off visibility for a while, I'm told. Several days?" Raised eyebrows. 
"You could say that, yes. We were on Tantalus IV and it all went south. Anna and I..."
"Yes, wherever," McKittrick waved that away dismissively. "I'm more interested in where you were after that." 
Eric just sat there. "Yes, wherever" is where he had lost three people. He'd had enough. 

"You know what? Shove it up your ass, McKittrick. Get someone in here or I'm walking. And quickly." To be honest he didn't know where he'd go, he wasn't exactly playing from a position of strength, but he didn't care. Enough was enough. McKittrick sputtered on a bit more and then left in a huff. Anna was standing by the window, looking down over the courtyard, and just shook her head when he came over. 
"Well that's an auspicious beginning."
"Wasn't it though?"
"It's not really funny. We should have waited, like we were told to." 
"Wait how long? Until some security shows up at the apartment and we're... disappeared? No thanks. If they're going to hang us out to dry I want to be here and get some answers at least, beforehand."
"Yeah, me too," she sighed. 

The courtyard was the largest of several in the Ministry complex. It was immense, with parkland and trails, several ponds and even a landing pad for emergency traffic. Eric watched people coming and going, saw several air transports flit by, without really seeing them. He'd worked here now for nine years, he believed in the mission, had even met Anna here. And he wondered if he'd done the right thing, coming here unannounced, upsetting the apple cart.  They were obviously mixed up in something that went beyond surveying Gates, but what ? And why now, after several years of routine work? 

The door hissed open behind them and they both turned to see three people enter. Summers and Dana walked in, and their faces lit up when they saw Eric and Anna. Summers told the security guard with them that he could wait outside, it was okay, and he nodded curtly and left. Then there were hugs all around and lots of excited talking as everyone tried speaking at once. Finally Summers waved his hands, laughing, and said "Alright, alright, let's sit down and get right to it. We don't have long," he added, glancing at the door. 
"What does that mean?" Eric asked as they sat down. 
"It means we only have a few minutes before we have company. Why did you come in? We wanted you to sit tight, out of sight, until we could work some things out."
Anna looked at Eric with her eyebrows raised. Eric just sighed, holding up his hands. A smile toyed at the corner of Dana's mouth. Nothing more need be said. 

"Are you guys okay?" Dana asked. "We saw your debriefs but a lot of it was redacted."
"We're fine," Anna replied. "But what is going on?"
"First of all, we're sorry about your team. About... everything." Dana was clenching and unclenching her hands, looked at Summers, who nodded. "We didn't know, until too late."
"The word was that the entire team was lost," Summers added. "We were devastated. That's part of the reason they didn't want you here. Revising their story and all that," he said, rubbing his eyes. "As you know, surveying Gates hasn't exactly been controversial. In fact it was considered a legitimate use of resources. But things have changed. There's been a new find." He looked at Dana. 

"Right," she said. "A survey team came in  a few weeks ago, their report went to the highest levels. Apparently... they found another Gate. There's speculation that it's a master Gate." She paused, to let that sink in. "And things changed after that. Your mission was already a go, already approved. But we heard things. And you were already gone."
Eric and Anna exchanged a glance. 
"And now they're... erasing the survey teams, or what? And why would they do that?" Eric asked. 
"We don't know yet. We only know this much thanks to Moira. Who wants to see you by the way. She's going to reach out, I'm told."
"So she's not a part of this?"
"She is a part of it. She knows everything that happens, you know that."
"Nobody knows everything," Anna muttered to herself. 
"They're watching all of us now," Summers added. "As you can see from our guest," he inclined his head toward the door. "Supposedly he's with us for security reasons, but I'm sure he listens very closely as well." 

"So who is they?" Anna wanted to know. "Who are we talking...?
At that moment the door hissed open.