Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Friday, August 24, 2018

A preview of hell...

It's been smoky in the Pacific Northwest for the last week thanks to more than 300 fires raging out of control in British Columbia. The wind is finally blowing the smoke away but for a while there, the air quality was worse than it is in Beijing, giving everyone dry and red eyes.

It struck me that this might be a good time to share my list of favorite fire-related books. Everyone always points to Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean, who also wrote A River Runs Through It, but I prefer Dennis Smith's Report From Engine Company 82, which came out more than 40 years ago, but is still available. If you were a fan of Denis Learay's Rescue Me, you'll see similarities in this book.

John Maclean (son of Norman) has written several books about fires, but his best is probably Fire on the Mountain, about a fire known variously as the South Canyon Fire and the Storm King Mountain Fire. (I'd have gone with Storm King Mountain--so incredibly evocative.) This was a particularly deadly fire in that it killed an entire elite team of 'hot shots" who'd been dropped into the area. The lone survivor of that event has written his own book.

An even deadlier fire, the Granite Mountain Fire near Prescott, AZ claimed 19 firefighters and is the subject of a movie called No Exit, starring Josh Brolin.

Two other memoirs that are gripping:  Bob Donbrowski's 38 Years: A Detroit Firefighter's Memoir  and Nick Brunaciini's B-Shifter.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

One for the TBR list

The cover of this book caught my eye.
I'm currently writing a sequel to Magic in the Blood called Santa Muerte, but the saint of the title is a benign, female version of death who grants favors to her followers. this looks like a very different book, but I definitely want to read it. It's available on a bunch of different platforms, but here's the publisher's site.

The debut authors are crushing it lately

Heart of Thorns, described as a fierce feminist fantasy, is the first in a series (of course), about a young woman who lives in a world where only women can possess magic. The author is Bree Barton, and if you sign up for her newsletter, you can win a copy of the book. (It was published last month.)

I like the cover--simple and elegant. I like the concept. Can't wait to dig into this one.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Peng Shepherd's Book of M--a review


In a world where people are suddenly losing their shadows, the lives of a group of unrelated people are bound up in a hope for building a new world on the memory of the old.

This is an epic, apocalyptic quest along the lines of Stephen King’s THE STAND or Robert McCammon’s SWAN SONG, with a large dose of INCEPTION thrown in. It’s also a zombie story of sorts, particularly in scenes where the “shadowless” surround those who are still tethered to their ‘dark twins.” The story unfolds in a somewhat nonlinear fashion where events being recounted by various characters overlap, but there’s a good mix of adventure and intimate contact.


The unraveling of reality is incredibly visual, and no one will much quibble with the premise that memories are stored in our shadows (and not in a certain part of our brains). The writer tells the story from multiple points of view, with both first and third person being used. The author does a very good job of “opening out” the story with flashbacks to “before” and even to multiple events after the Forgetting hits.


Peng Shepherd's debut novel is a multi-faceted apocalyptic quest story told from multiple points of view. She plays with pov in a way that I haven't seen since Kevin Brooks' iBoy, and it's astonishing that this is her first book.