Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Museums I Want to Visit

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Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A photo of Stonehenge on an overcast day. The stones are covered in a thin, spotty layer of moss. My answer to this week’s question is basically all of them. It’s rare for me to hear of a museum or gallery and not want to see it! The Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario here in Toronto are both excellent. If any of you are ever in town, I highly recommend adding them to your itinerary and would visit them with you, too, if you’re interested.

With that being said,  here are the museums that are still at the top of my list to visit someday.

Stonehenge

It’s not a traditional sort of museum, but it’s a mysterious historical site that I’d love to visit. If only we knew more about who created it, how they managed to move such massive boulders, and what they used this location for!

. The rest of my answers will be of actual buildings one can visit to see art and exhibits.

 

The National Museum of Ethiopia

I have never been to Ethiopia, but this would be the first place I’d visit if I did go there. Not only do they have Lucy, the first Australopithecus Afarensis remains that were ever discovered, they also have multiple floors dedicated to Ethiopian history and culture. It would be amazing to soak up that knowledge and history.

 

Mütter Museum

This museum is in Philadelphia. Their exhibits explore advancements in the medical field that have saved countless lives, rare birth defects, bodies that were preserved in unusual ways after death, the history of how various diseases were treated, and so much more. I think this would be a fascinating place to spend a day.

 

Neanderthal Museum 

You all may remember how much I love learning about prehistory and Neanderthals. The name of this museum gives away what it’s about. It is located very close to the Neander Valley in Germany where the first Neanderthal remains were found in 1856. I wouldn’t want to leave until I’d read and examined every bit of every display there.

Louvre 

Imagine being able to see the Mona Lisa in person in France among the many other famous works of art to be found here.  That would be incredible.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was Super Excited to Get My Hands on but Still Haven’t Read


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Surreal painting of a little pale-skinned person sitting on the edge of a pond with their legs hanging over the water while the sky above is dark but there is a pale blue light over the horizon. The light in the sky is brighter than the moon but dimmer than the sun. You can see a reflection of it in the pond, although it is partially distorted by ripples in the water. The pond is set on a hill, and you can see two more hills behind it. Is this set at dusk or dawn? Why is the person wearing a hat but not a jacket? Why are they alone so close to the water and at such a lonely time of day? I own ebook copies of all of these titles, but there are so many incredible books out there that I have not yet managed to read anything from this list yet.

Part of the problem is that my attention span isn’t as long as it was when I was a kid.

I tend to gravitate towards short stories, novellas, and short novels these days instead of mostly reading regular to long novels like I did back then.

Maybe Toronto will have a lot of thunderstorms this summer?

I find I’m more interested in digging into something full length if the weather outside isn’t conducive to doing something active there instead.

It’s hard to remain cooped up inside on a pleasant, sunny day.

At least half of these recommendations came from my friend Berthold Gambrel, so I’ll tip my cap to him for recommending them. If you love talking about indie books or older films, he’s a great person to follow. Just tell him that Lydia sent you over to say hello. 🙂 

 

 

Book cover for Vander’s Magic Carpet by Patrick Prescott. Image on cover is a photograph of train tracks taken at night. You can see what might be the light of an oncoming train at the very edge of the cover. Then again, maybe it’s moonlight instead!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.Vander’s Magic Carpet by Patrick Prescott

Why I’m Interested: Patrick is an Internet friend of mine, and I’ve been curious about this story of revenge and magic carpets for a long time.

Book cover for The Devil and the Wolf by Richard Pastore. Image on cover shows a sketch of two people, one in a blue suit and one in a red suit whose colour fades to grey at the shoulders, walking down a grey path and towards the head of an enormous blue-grey wolf that looks like it is about to devour them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Devil and the Wolf by Richard L. Pastore

Why I’m Interested: This sounds hilarious. Richard is another Internet friend of mine I’ve gotten to know well over the years.

 

An Assortment of Rejected Futures by Noah Goats. Image on cover is a photo of the branches of a leafless tree against a starry night sky. It appears to be dusk or dawn as the sky is purple instead of plain black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. An Assortment of Rejected Futures by Noah Goats

Why I’m Interested: I love both reading and writing short stories. They can be so entertaining and memorable.

 

Book cover for The Left Hand of Dog - an Extremely Silly Tale of Alien Abduction by Si Clarke. Image on cover shows the silhoutte of a person and a medium-sized leashed dog standing on a hill and admiring the night sky. Curiously enough, there is a gigantic purple, blue, and pink teapot in the sky that is pouring some extra light into the sky through its spout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Left Hand of Dog – an Extremely Silly Tale of Alien Abduction by Si Clarke

Why I’m Interested: Silly science fiction about aliens? Sign me up!

 

 

Book cover for Born of the Sun: A novel of human ancestors by Peter Munford. Image on cover shows a drawing of a large leg bone lying on cracked and dried red soil. The sun is setting over this desert scene, but it still feels unbearably hot and dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.Born of the Sun: A novel of human ancestors by Peter Munford

 

Why I’m Interested: I love reading about prehistory and the various hominids that have lived on Earth. This is set about 2 million years ago, so it could be quite interesting to compare how people are now to how pre-human species were back then.

 

Book cover for A Reconciliation With Death by Cody Ray George. Image on cover shows a drawing of a short-haired person sitting on a couch and looking wistfully through the blinds at the world outside. Have they finally decided to try to heal from their trauma, maybe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. A Reconciliation With Death by Cody Ray George

Why I’m Interested: So many post-apocalyptic books end before their characters have any chance at all to begin recovering from what they’ve endured. I relish the thought of reading something that acknowledges that a terrible plague happened but then speeds forward to see how the characters recover from it. Healing is vastly underrated in speculative fiction in my opinion.  We need more hope in the world.

 

Book cover for Little House on the Wasteland by Laura Ingalls-Wei, Amanda Platsis (Illustrator), Christopher McElwain (Translator). Image on cover is a drawing of the characters from Little House on the Prairie but in a futuristic postapocalyptic setting. They are walking down an abandoned road and keeping an eye out for trouble. This scene is framed by a torn and decaying white and red gingham curtain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Little House on the Wasteland by Laura Ingalls-Wei, Amanda Platsis (Illustrator), Christopher McElwain (Translator)

Why I’m Interested: Horror and Laura Ingalls Wilder are two things I’d never think to blend together, but the people I know who read this book really loved it. I need to find out for myself how such wildly different styles of writing can improve each other.

 

Book cover for American Chimera by H.R.R Gorman. Image on cover shows a gold scarab beetle against a gold and brown background. The beetle looks like it’s a toy or a pin instead of a real beetle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. American Chimera by H.R.R Gorman

Why I’m Interested: Chimeras are fascinating.

Book cover for Roach by Liz Boysha. Image on cover is a drawing of a red, winged, six-legged insect. It is nothing like any roach I’ve ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.  Roach by Liz Boysha

Why I’m Interested: People turning into bugs in stories is one thing…but a roach turning into a person? This could be really good.

 

Book cover for Born in a Treacherous time (Dawn of Humanity #1) by Jacqui Murray. image on cover shows a drawing of a long-haired person holding a spear and a wolf striding confidently towards the viewer. Behind them is a mammoth who has been superimposed onto the scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Born in a Treacherous time (Dawn of Humanity #1) by Jacqui Murray

Why I’m Interested: As mentioned earlier, I love reading stories set in prehistory. This one is set 1.8 million years ago, a time period I have not read as much about as I have other time periods. Here’s hoping it’s an exciting and educational read.

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Spring Surprises: A Review of The Red Tree

Book cover for The Red Tree by Dave Williams. Image on cover shows a photo of a leafless deciduous tree whose branches are oddly red. This looks like a photo taken with one of those cameras that plays around with which sorts of lights on the light spectrum to reveal. That is, they take snapshots of items without using the visible light spectrum and instead show infrared or what have you. Title: The Red Tree

Author: Dave Williams

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 25, 2020

Genres: Speculative Fiction, Contemporary

Length: 32 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

While rain falls for weeks, the Engler family invites friends over for an evening of dealing with cabin fever together. And when the spring sun arrives, the Englers celebrate by walking in a wooded park, where they encounter a red tree away from the trail. Guesses abound as to why the tree is red when none of the other trees are. Life returns to normal for most of the Englers. The father, Calvin, decides the red tree was a sign for him to make changes in his life and property. Changes the family and neighbors don’t quite understand. But some family members can be eccentric, and others learn to roll with it. A novelette about family, experiencing the mysterious, and letting your imagination loose.

Review:

April showers can bring so many things as the weeks march into May. The old rhyme about them barely scratches the surface.

Calvin was an interesting and memorable protagonist. As the father of two kids who sounded like they were just beginning to reach the preteen stage of life, he wanted to soak up the last moments of childhood with them while also encouraging his sons to pursue more mature interests like camping or hiking that adults also commonly enjoy. Transitions aren’t always easy for kids or parents, but this also provided a nice parallel to Calvin’s own transformation after his experience discovering the red tree in the forest he was walking through with a group of friends in one of the earliest scenes.

I had mixed feelings about how to rate this book. The writing was thoughtful and beautiful for the first ninety percent of it, but the ending was so vague that I didn’t feel justified going for the four or five-star rating I would have given it up until that point. It sadly fizzled out instead of clearly pursuing the themes that it did so well exploring in the beginning and middle. That was a disappointing experience for me as a reader, and I wish I’d known to expect it from the very first sentence so I could have tempered my expectations.

With that being said, I am still glad I gave Mr. Williams a try. This was my first taste of his work. His gentle but vivid descriptions and high expectations of his audience have whetted my appetite for more of his stories. He is a talented storyteller who is especially adept at creating a world that feels just like our own ninety-nine percent of the time only to fill me with a sense of wonder as I discover that small sliver of something unexplainable that ties everything together.

The Red Tree surprised me.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: How I Feel About Staycations

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Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A photo looking down at someone’s legs as they stand on a porch next to a welcome mat that has the word “home” written on it in a thick black font. The “o” in the letter home has been replaced with a red heart. I have mixed feelings about staycations.

Sometimes they’re the perfect choice if you’re exhausted and/or don’t have the budget to travel elsewhere.

They can be a nice, relaxing way to recharge under those circumstances. There is definitely something to be said for keeping things low key and thrifty.

On the other hand, there’s the temptation to treat a staycation like any other time of the year and not make any fun memories during them at all.

This happened to my spouse and I years ago. We didn’t have the funds to travel anywhere that time, and I totally understood and accepted that.

The problem was that we didn’t do much stuff that was out of the ordinary for us during our staycation from what I can recall. I still washed the dishes and did the grocery shopping, (most of the) cooking, and laundry. We still ate out at the inexpensive fast food restaurants we’d normally visit if I’m not cooking that night for whatever reason.

Other than not working, it was completely like any other week. We didn’t try any new places from what I can recall, and I only remember going to one free place that I’d previously enjoyed. The rest of the time was spent watching tv and wandering around a local mall. (No offence meant to people who think that sounds like the perfect vacation, by the way! To each their own. It’s simply not my cup of tea.)

These days I’m more assertive about staycations. Yes, I’ll stick to whatever the budget is for the week, but I am going to break my daily routines and go to some nice dairy-free bakeries, parks I don’t get to visit very often, or free local events at the bare minimum! My spouse doesn’t have to accompany me, and I certainly won’t fill every day with long lists of places to visit or anything like that. A couple of hours every other day or so to spend on stuff I really love to do is enough to make me happy.  That leaves plenty of time for walking around the mall, watching tv, or doing nothing in particular, too. 😉

I simply need more from a vacation than doing the same things we always do and then going home to do chores. That’s not my idea of a good time.

Staycations can be a wonderful option if you treat your local community as if you’re a tourist there and go to places you normally don’t visit (or places you’ve visited before and already know are perfect for your tastes!)

They can also be disappointing, at least from my perspective, if you stick to the same old routines every day and don’t branch out at all.

So much depends on how you plan ahead for them and how much effort everyone puts into the experience.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Love a New Book From


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A lush bouquet of red flowers are lying on the pages of an opened book. The majority of my answers this week will involve authors who have either passed away or retired from writing for health reasons because there’s something poignant about wishing for stories that will never be written. (I do still have hope for the last few of them, though).

If only all authors could live long enough and in good enough health to write every single story in their heads!

I like to imagine some alternate universe out there where every unwritten or unfinished book somehow exists and can be enjoyed.

Here are my answers:

1. Jean M. Auel

I’ve talked about my love of the Earth’s Children series before as well as how disappointed I was by how the major conflicts remained completely unresolved in the sixth and final book. In many cases, they were not mentioned at all despite being catalysts for character and plot development in the first several instalments.  It would make me unbelievably happy if Auel could write just one more book to wrap everything up properly and reunite Ayla, the protagonist of this series, with her now-adult son.

2. Octavia E. Butler

Her Earthseed series predicted the future in all sorts of ways that are slowly coming true in the 2020s.  I would be thrilled to know how it was supposed to end. Perhaps both it and our world will improve dramatically in the decades to come?

3. Anne Frank

She should still be alive and writing books! I think she would have been a lovely children’s book author, but maybe she would have preferred some other genre instead?

4. Malcolm X

He was evolving in such interesting ways at the end of his life. I wish he had been allowed to see old age and write about whatever was on his mind from the 1970s and beyond.

5. George R.R. Martin

While I haven’t actually read the Song of Ice and Fire series yet, I know how irritating it is to love a series that hasn’t been finished properly. All series and books should have a chance to wrap everything up. If that final Song of Ice and Fire book is ever written, I will check out this series.

6. Sarah Waters

It’s been a decade since her last book. I completely understand how writer’s block can be an impediment as I suffer from it, but if that’s what is going on with her I hope she is able to get past it soon. Her stories are so good.

 

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Too Much Noise in a Empty House: A Review of The Estate Guards

Book cover for The Estate Guards by Kenny Wayne. Image on cover shows a three-story house that has lights shining through nearly every window. It is dark outside and lighting is striking the land behind the house and temporarily illuminating the sky. What a stormy night it is. Title: The Estate Guards

Author: Kenny Wayne

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 1, 2023

Genres: Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 29 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Kenny Wayne’s short ghost story, The Estate Guards, is the humorous tale of two brothers who can’t seem to keep from running afoul of ghosts.

Harley and younger brother James are providing security for an estate company at an eerie, old mansion whose elderly owners recently died in a tragic accident.

For the straightforward, down to earth, older brother Harley, it’s just a job. For younger brother James, who wants to be just like his older brother, it’s not so simple. Even though he would quickly say he doesn’t believe in ghosts, secretly he’s not so sure.

But after this particularly long night, any uncertainty he had about the existence of ghosts will be removed. The weird noises in the attic, and those upstairs bedroom lights that keep turning on and off by themselves are only the beginning. It’s the other strange late night occurrences that strips the last bit of doubt from James’ mind.

This night there will be strange enough occurrences to make even Harley a believer.

Review:

Dealing with ghosts is all in an honest day’s work, right?

The relationship between Harley and James was interesting, and I found myself wishing there had been more attention paid to the differences between them. It’s interesting to me to think about how wildly different siblings can be even though they were born to the same parents and more or less experienced the same sort of events growing up. Genetics are important, but they certainly can’t predict or explain anything as new readers will soon discover in this story.

I struggled to get to know all of the characters in this short story, especially since two of them were given most of the dialogue, but it was important to remain connected to everyone in order to understand the ending. There simply wasn’t enough space to develop everyone well enough for me to feel emotionally invested in what would happen to them. This is something I’m saying as a reader who normally loves both haunted house and humorous tales.

The humour took a little while to show up, but it was well worth the wait. I think this will be most appealing to readers who either come from a working class background or know a lot about such subcultures in some other way as the jokes weren’t always the sort of things generally included in funny tales about, say, doctors or lawyers. This was about salt of the earth sort of folks who quietly keep the world humming along without expecting or generally receiving any recognition of the myriad of things they do that ensure everyone has a safe and healthy life. The characters were hardworking and matter-of-fact which were exactly the traits they needed in order to make the ghosts believable and the twists worth a chuckle.

The Estate Guards made me smile.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Funny Things I’ve Googled

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A distinguished little Yorkshire Terrier is lying on a white surface. The puppy is wearing black glasses and a black and yellow striped scarf. There is an opened book in front the puppy, and he is looking up as if we’ve just interrupted his reading. Here is a quick snapshot into the funny sorts of things I look up online.

This post is making me miss the search engines from years ago. I feel like the results these days are so tainted by ads and content written by chat bots that it’s much harder than it used to be to find genuine content, especially from non-commercial sites like blogs or small, quirky websites about hobbies, local news, favourite authors, and the like. May that change someday soon!

 

What I Asked:  Why are some people so argumentative online?

Why I Asked It: I’m a peacekeeper by nature, so it’s odd to me to run across folks online who not only seem to enjoy getting into arguments about often inconsequential matters but also actively seek them out. Sharing cool nature photos or telling Dad jokes seems like a much more amusing way to spend your free time in my opinion, but I accept the fact that not everyone is wired the way I am.

With that being said, I also reserve the right to step away from fruitless conversations about, say, what the best condiment in the world is.

 

What I Asked: Do pigeons hold grudges?

Why I Asked It: Toronto has a pigeon problem. They are so well-fed and have so few predators that their population is much larger than it would be if the land up here was all still swamps, meadows, and forests. This means that not every interaction a pigeon has with a person, a dog, or another pigeon is necessarily going to be a positive one.

Seeing them fight over dropped food or fly away in a burst of energy when an untrained dog lunges at them makes me wonder if they remember who bothered them in those moments and if they feel a little grumpy the next time they see that particular pigeon or dog in the future.

(So far as I could tell, pigeons are not like crows in this regard).

 

What I Asked: Why does Google think everything is a symptom of a terminal illness?

Why I Asked It: The first time I googled a minor symptom and this happened, I was a little nervous. Now I just roll my eyes and try to find results for a hangnail, headache, runny nose or other temporary annoyances that don’t assume the worst. You’d think the algorithm would choose the most likely answers, though, instead of focusing on the tiny percentage of people who might be far sicker than they think they are.

 

What I Asked:  How can I stop dreaming about stressful high school math and science tests?

Why I Asked It: I was curious because I keep having dreams about surprise math, biology, or chemistry tests I am in no way prepared to take despite the fact that I graduated from high school quite a while ago. (I was an average student in math and science, but they were not my favourite subjects by any means). Brains can come up with such vivid dreams sometimes, although sadly there doesn’t seem to be any scientific answers about why we dream about the things we do.

 

What I Asked:  Do pets know that they are adorable?

Why I Asked It: Because this is obviously critical information that all animal lovers must know. Also, I was curious to find out if other people’s dogs understand it when I tell them they’re cute and wonderful little creatures. I hope they do.

 

What I Asked:  Will the United States ever take over Canada? Will they enjoy poutine if they do?

Why I Asked It: Your population is about ten times larger than ours, after all, and we do have large swaths of land in Northern Canada that are filled with fresh water lakes and wildlife but are only very sparsely populated by humans due to how cold it is up there. With droughts happening in so many parts of the world and growing seasons lengthening in colder areas now due to climate change, it makes me wonder if the U.S. is going to decide that 50 Nifty United States isn’t enough for them.

As for the poutine question, all of the Americans I’ve known who have tried it have loved it. But I promise you can enjoy it without invading us. 😉

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Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes About Science


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A male Asian scientist wearing a face mask and peering through a microscope at something on a slide. Perhaps he is looking at a highly infectious disease?While all of my book reviews on this blog are about the speculative fiction genre, I read many other genres as well.

Nonfiction is a particular favourite of mine. It’s exciting to learn about everything from prehistory to astronomy to the latest medical breakthroughs in books.

Here are ten bookish quotes about science.

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
Stephen Hawking

 

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson

 

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.”
Claude Levi-Strauss

 

“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”
Werner Heisenberg, Across the Frontiers

 

“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”
Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

 

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”
Alan Turing, Computing machinery and intelligence

 

“I penetrated the outer cell membrane with a nanosyringe.”
“You poked it with a stick?”
“No!” I said. “Well. Yes. But it was a scientific poke with a very scientific stick.”
Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary

 

“In what terms should we think of these beings, nonhuman yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics? How should we treat them? Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes? Yes.”
Jane Goodall

 

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.

{Speech accepting the John Burroughs Medal}”
Rachel Carson

 

“It takes a fearless, unflinching love and deep humility to accept the universe as it is. The most effective way he knew to accomplish that, the most powerful tool at his disposal, was the scientific method, which over time winnows out deception. It can’t give you absolute truth because science is a permanent revolution, always subject to revision, but it can give you successive approximations of reality.”
Ann Druyan

 

If you’ve read any great books about any branch of science lately, I’d love to hear about them!

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A Review of What Love Survives & Other Stories

Book cover for What Love Survives & Other Stories by DB MacInnes. Image on cover is a snapshot of someone in a cheerful yellow sweater walking away from their cozy little stone cottage outdoors next to a lake in the evening. There are mountains in the distance and the sky is overcast. The land where they are walking is grassy, flat, and brown as this appears to be late autumn. It looks a little chilly given how the wind is blowing the grass around and how tightly the person has their weather wrapped around them. This feels a little desolate but also quiet and peaceful. I get the impression this person loves being out in nature alone at this time of day as night approaches and knows exactly how to get back home safely before nightfall as they will have their home in full view and only about a five minute walk away at most once they turn around. Title: What Love Survives & Other Stories

Author: DB MacInnes

Publisher: Balfour & Breck Press

Publication Date: February 15, 2022

Genres: Speculative Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical

Length: 61 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Lovers in a room overlooking the North Sea, a missing boy on an island in the Hebrides, an itinerant saw-miller’s tragic accident in the forests of Argyle, these short stories–often with a historical and sometimes speculative flavour–offer a glimpse into a Scotland of magic and mystery. First published in literary magazines such as New Writing Scotland and Gutter, they have now been brought together in this haunting anthology.

Review:

Content Warning: Missing children, cancer, child being sent to orphanage, child being raised by a relative after the parents’ death, death of a child, divorce, job loss, disability, accidental injuries and deaths, alcoholism, and an affair.

Even quiet towns are filled with secrets if one listens long enough.

I thought I should give everyone reading this a heads up that these tales dabbled lightly with speculative fiction and paranormal themes. Most of their scenes could easily happen in our world, some could be explained with either supernatural or scientific perspectives depending on how you interpret certain key sentences, and a few were deeply rooted in the speculative fiction with no other rational way to interpret them. This is a writing style I happen to deeply enjoy, but it’s something I think should be shared in advance as not everyone feels the same way about stories that move so fluidly between genres.

The main character and his wife Clare struggled to look after their adult son, Jack, who was severely disabled in “What Loves Survives.” Many stories about children with disabilities focus on the early years, so I was intrigued to get a glimpse of what this can be like once a child grows up and ages out of so many of the governmental support systems that exist for those under the age of eighteen. It’s difficult to talk about the plot twists in this one without giving away spoilers, but I appreciated the protagonist’s realistic assessment of what his life was going to be like as well as the hope he cultivated while trying to do the best he could for his family.

One of the biggest strengths of this collection had to do with how the same themes popped up repeatedly. “The Boy Who Vanished” was the second-to-last instalment, and it reminded me so much of what I’d already read in a good way. Once again there was an innocent person in danger, a town that knew more than you might assume, and an ending that matched the beginning nicely. As the title so strongly alluded to, this was about a boy named Duncan who disappeared one snowy day and the people who still remembered him years later. The flow of the dialogue was especially smooth here as the characters discussed who this child was and what happened to him. It genuinely felt like I was eavesdropping on a real conversation and it made me want to read an entire book written from these characters’ kind and honest perspectives.

“The Sawmillers” began with a child accidentally getting lost in the woods on a chilly night. He was not quite old enough to think clearly in that situation, especially as the sun set and it grew even colder outside. I was intrigued by his predicament and wondered how he was going to get out of it as the adults in his life didn’t know where he was or even that he was in danger yet. While there were no grand plot twists in this tale, that didn’t matter. The journey and how clearly it was described to readers was what mattered, and I couldn’t stop reading until I knew how everything turned out.

What Love Survives & Other Stories was a fantastic introduction to this author’s work. I look forward to reading more.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Stories I Wouldn’t Revisit and Why

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A closeup photo of about a dozen DVD cases, including cases for Friends, Pulp Fiction, Django, and several other films that don’t have English titles. The original topic for this week asked about books, films, and TV shows that I wouldn’t revisit. I’ve decided to pick one answer from each category.

Book

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Why? 

As much as I enjoyed seeing how everything ended, the pacing of this trilogy was too slow for me to ever revisit it. The long, flowery descriptions of the landscapes, settings, and characters painted a vivid picture in my mind, but they were also so numerous that I did find them a little tedious after a while given how much writing styles have evolved since this series was published.

(The films are still cool, though).

Film

Any action film ever.

Why? 

I do not enjoy this genre. On the rare occasion I watch one, it is usually to make my spouse happy instead of out of any innate desire to see a character break the laws of physics and defy the limits of human anatomy as often as tends to happen in these sorts of stories.

 

TV Show

Old sitcoms.

Why? 

The sexist and homophobic jokes in them. What may have been acceptable 30+ years ago doesn’t always age well in modern times. I do not judge others who can look past those things, by the way. I simply don’t find that sort of humour amusing and would rather watch something else instead.

 

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