Monday, October 30, 2017

#70: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson

A professor finds herself searching for a missing pupil, leaving the dreamlands for the waking world in Kij Johnson's The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.

The title is a riff on H.P. Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and features characters and situations from that novel. 

I have read a lot of work recently by people trying to process their appreciation of Lovecraft's writing versus his themes, as seen through contemporary eyes; race in Victor LaVelle's The Ballad of Black Tom, sexual identity in Paul La Farge's The Night Ocean, and now Johnson's look at gender in this novel.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is vivid and imaginative, but grounded in the story of a middle-aged woman looking back at her life.  A solid, award-winning fantasy read.

I bought this with an Amazon gift card and read it quickly, then sent it to a professor friend I thought would enjoy it.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

#69: A Bullet for Sartain by Frank Leslie

In the Old West, a Cajun gunslinger named Sartain, but called The Revenger, goes into action when an old pard is killed and two others are threatened in Frank Leslie's A Bullet for Sartain.

Frank Leslie is in reality Peter Brandvold, who has written a lot of westerns under his name and others.  He contributed to the long-running "Adult Western" series Longarm, and much of that vibe is here; Sartain has one eye for killing and one for the ladies, and even his horse is on the lookout for a filly.

But Brandvold doesn't stint on the action; every character is rude and ready for gunplay at a moment's notice.

A satisfying action-oriented contemporary western for fans.

I received this book in the mail from Brandvold, a double novel with Death and the Saloon Girl as the second offering.  I look forward to reading it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

#68: I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson

In the early 1970s, two Welsh girls share a friendship built on their love of David Cassidy; years later, fate brings them together to fly to Vegas and see their childhood crush in Allison Pearson's I Think I Love You.

Pearson mines Nick Hornby territory in this novel, a humorous story of relationships built along the lines of Hornby's About A Boy and High Fidelity (with maybe some of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones thrown in).

I Think I Love You is highly enjoyable and largely pretty breezy, with bonus points if you were alive when David Cassidy was at his peak. 

Even though I was somewhat aware of Cassidy's fame, he was even more famous in Europe, and his concert at White City Stadium in London is a critical juncture in the story.  An epilogue, where Pearson interviews Cassidy, adds value.

I listened to a good audiobook reading of this novel on loan from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

#67: Last Chance Canyon by Jim Austin

John Fury is a wandering gun-hand who comes across a dying man delivering mail, catapulting him into a war against a ruthless band of claim-jumpers in Jim Austin's Last Chance Canyon.

Jim Austin is in reality James Reasoner, a prolific author who has wrote five novels as Austin and countless others under many names.  This novel is dedicated to western author Len Meares--known as Marshall Grover and other pen names as he himself knocked out over 700 westerns.

If you are familiar with either Meares or Reasoner you have a pretty good idea what to expect; a solid western that hits all the right beats in action and storytelling.

I checked this out from the Parker City Public Library in Parker City, Indiana and read it quickly.