Review of Out of the Ice, by Ann Turner

I won a paperback copy of Ann Turner‘s Out of the Ice through Goodreads.

Description:

When environmental scientist Laura Alvarado is sent to a remote Antarctic island to report on an abandoned whaling station, she begins to uncover more than she could ever imagine.

Despite new life thriving in the icy wilderness, the whaling station is brimming with awful reminders of its bloody, violent past, and Laura is disturbed by evidence of recent human interference. Rules have been broken, and the protected wildlife is behaving strangely.

On a diving expedition, Laura is separated from her colleague. She emerges into an ice cave where, through the blue shadows, she is shocked to see an anguished figure, crying for help.

But in this freezing, lonely landscape there are ghosts everywhere, and Laura begins to sense that her own eyes cannot be trusted. Is her mind playing tricks? Has she been in the ice too long?

Back at base, Laura’s questions about the whaling station go unanswered, blocked by unhelpful scientists, unused to questions from an outsider. And Laura just can’t shake what happened in the ice cave.

Piecing together a past and present of cruelty and vulnerability that can be traced all around the globe, from Norway, to Nantucket, Europe and Antarctica, Laura will stop at nothing to unearth the truth. As she sees the dark side of endeavour and human nature, she also discovers a legacy of love, hope and the meaning of family. If only Laura can find her way…

Out of the ice.

Review:

I don’t use star ratings on this blog. But I do cross-post to Goodreads, and there I rated this book 2 stars. Let me say early on that my low rating is a reflection of the fact that I did not like the book, not necessarily that it’s a poorly written book. I suppose you could say that it’s a subjective, rather than objecting rating.

The issue was largely that, despite the stunning descriptions of nature, the book didn’t hold my attention. I was bored a lot of the time and I found Laura’s thoughts repetitive. Then, with about 100 pages to go, I set the book aside and read three other ones before forcing myself back to finish it. The problem was that in addition to the things I listed above, it became obvious that the hinted mystery was going to be a pedophilia ring and I both didn’t want to face reading it and felt horribly disappointed that Turner chose such an over-used, tritely salacious climax. All in all, I’m just glad to be finished with it.

Review of Silver Moon, by Catherine Lundoff

I bought a paperback copy of Catherine Lundoff‘s Silver Moon.

Description from Goodreads:

Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged and trying to embrace a quiet life, discovers that there are still plenty of surprises to be had when her menopause kicks in with bonus lycanthropy. And she’s not the only one. The seemingly peaceful and dull town of Wolf’s Point has its own all-female werewolf pack and Becca has just become its newest member. But it’s not all protecting Wolf’s Point, midnight meetings at the Women’s Club and monthly runs through the woods. There are werewolf hunters in town and now they’ve got Becca and the Wolf’s Point Pack in their sights.

As if that wasn’t enough, Becca’s cute lesbian werewolf neighbor, Erin, is starting to haunt her dreams as well as her doorstep. What’s a newbie werewolf to do, between hot flashes, silver bullets and unexpected transformations? Can Becca overcome her fears and help the werewolves defeat their greatest enemy?

Review:

I insta-bought this when I read the blurb and saw women who turn into werewolves with the onset of menopause. Heck yeah, older women almost never get to be heroines in UF and you even more rarely see menopause discussed. I was 100% on board for this. Unfortunately, I liked the idea of it a lot more than the execution of it. I thought Becca spent far too long in her head ruminating about her situation, I spent a lot of the book bored, I wasn’t truly certain what happened in and after the climax, and I hated the subplot with the ex-husband because I felt like he won in the end. 

Worst of all however, is that I didn’t feel like the werewolves utilized their wolves. There was a group of hunters trying to kill them all, and the pack’s response was to run them out of town by having the town’s people refuse to serve them and to tamper with their van (and to be more vigilant in their patrols, but nothing seemed to come of this). Over and over the hunters threatened or took direct action to hurt the pack members and then Becca went to sleep and to work the next morning. I didn’t really feel any sense of urgency in that and I didn’t feel the pack was responding appropriately to the very real threat. Maybe the author was trying to emphasize that a pack of female wolves, older female wolves at that, wouldn’t leap to violence like men would (certainly there is a little of that with the Scott comparison) but I kept wanting to yell, ” Ladies, you have claws and fangs for a reason!”

I did think the romantic subplot was sweet, but again ~90% of it is in Becca’s head. All in all, I loved the idea of this book, but was left cold by the story actually told. Plus, there are quite a few editing errors in it. I’ll give Lundoff another shot, but I feel pretty “Meh” about this particular book. 

New art and a new reading challenge

I got a new stretched canvas for my office. The office is the only place in the house that I let myself put anything I choose on the walls, theme, coordination or quality be damned. If I like it, I’ll have it.

Not to suggest that this Icanvas print isn’t quality of a sort, but the rest of the house tends to run toward large, heavily framed prints. It’s not a great photo, but Mizuki by Audrey Kawasaki is what’s above the bed for example:

Though I’ve shrunk it so it doesn’t compete for attention with the canvas that is the point of this post, that frame is almost 30×30 inches (please never let it fall on us in our sleep). So, an unframed whimsical print of science fiction books is a departure from the norm. But I so loved it when I saw it that I insta-bought it, even though I didn’t really have a place for it. (In fact, I wish I’d bought the bigger size.)

After I moved Kawasaki’s Where I Rest out of place (this* one –>), I sat staring at the books and telling my husband how happy I was to see Binti and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet included among such giants as Asimov and Le Guin. But also how I was distressed that Martha Well’s All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries) isn’t included. It 100% deserves to be. In fact, once noticed, its absence sapped a little of my love of the print away. I mean, look, I even tweeted at Icanvas about it.

Hey @icanvas_art, if you’re going to include #Binti and #thelongwaytoasmallangryplanet in this stack of classic sci-fi (which I totally agree with) you gotta get #Murderbot in there too! I’d even buy a second copy. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/aaEuuR7Pzu — @rbnsnzsr

This led me to a second thought. If I was so happy to see Binti and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet included, and was desperate to get Murderbot added, why no excitement for The Martian? It was published in 2014, so it’s basically just as contemporary as the others. Part of it might have been that it’s written by a man and I’m always rooting to see women included. But Dune, by Frank Herbert, is one of my all-time favorite books (even if it by a man). So I decided it wasn’t the gender issue. It was simply that I haven’t read it!

All of the books included here are well known, familiar to me, science fiction. Suddenly I had to stop and think how many of them I love by virtue of being sci-fi cannon and how many I had actually read. Before that very moment I’d have told you of course I’ve read all the classics. But once I was really thinking about it, I realized that couldn’t be true. I hadn’t read The Martian, for example. So, off to Goodreads and my reading list I went. And shock followed.

I started Left to right:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: a favorite, read
  • The Martian Chronicles: Ray freaking-Bradbury, NOT READ
  • Brave New World: read in high school
  • Binti: started this whole process, obviously read
  • The Martian: NOT READ
  • The Left Hand of Darkness: read it last year when Le Guin died
  • The Diamond Age: What!? owned but NOT READ
  • Solaris: also NOT READ
  • The Foundation Trilogy: thank god, read the whole series
  • The Time Machine: Wells. freaking Wells, and NOT READ
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: NOT READ
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: read
  • Hyperion: read
  • Neuromancer: read and loved
  • Dawn: by Octavia Butler! NOT READ
  • Dune: a favorite, read
  • Starship Troopers: read
  • Ender’s Game: read
  • Childhood Ends: NOT READ

Eight—almost half of the books—I discovered that I’ve not read. This is a travesty that cannot be allowed to stand. I mean, for one, If I’m going to hang the picture on my wall (even if just my office wall), I should be able to point to it and know I’ve read them all, but also I’m a sci-fi/fantasy junkie and THEY’RE SCI-FI CLASSICS. How did I let this happen? Obviously, I’m going to fix it. It’s July. I have five months until the end of the year, and by that point I will have read these eight books that I have somehow grievously neglected in my life.

I don’t think I’ll bother coming back and linking reviews here. But I am setting it as an official reading challenge for myself. I do so love to have a plan. Wish me happy reading.


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Yes, I'm totally vain enough that I spread out those two in the back so they could be seen, and there is another on the wall above. They'd been stacked together to be re-hung. I have a new one at the framer's (and a small one waiting to be framed by me) and I'm going to make a collage wall of them. I'll add a picture when it's done. But, though you can probably guess Kawasaki is my husband and my favorite artist, she's not the point of this post. But once I'd posted one, I just ran with it.