Ancient Woods and Modern Cities

36742955I did some googling, and was surprised to find out that Coldfall Wood is an actual ancient wood in London, England, covering 14 hectares. In this book, there are other ancient things there; ancient beings who do not like what humanity has done with the world. Beings that plan to turn things back to the way they used to be.

Coldfall Wood, by Steven Savile, is actually a sequel (the first book is called Glass Town), even though this fact is not exactly advertised on the cover, but while there was a learning curve to get the hang of who the characters were, the story was pretty much standalone.

Basically, an ancient king/goddess-consort takes advantage of a tear in reality caused by the events in the first book, and he wakes a number of his followers, placing them into the bodies of contemporary youths, all connected by an abusive foster home. This inadvertantly has the side effect of inflaming racial tensions. There are also a seres of young girls who drop into coma-like states, only to all wake up at the same time, all saying the same thing. Police find an old man alone in a house, with greenery shoved down his throat, but when the greenery is removed, he wakes up.

The story builds well, filling in details from the previous book without being overwhelming about it, and the dark atmosphere grows more and more intense. My only complaint was that while the ending was satisfactory, it didn’t quite live up to the tension that had been built. But it did leave me hitting Google, looking up elemnts of myth and geography that intrigued me, so I would call it a success.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read this

Advertisements

It’s Readathon Time!

It’s the 24 in 48 Readathon this weekend. I’m not going to do hourly updates, though. Instead, I’m going to update as I finish books.

7:40 am – Book one finished (I had less than 50 pages to go) was The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson, which was also a book for the Read Harder Challenge (a true crime book about a non violent crime) a fascinating read about salmon fly tiers, and the lengths they go to for exotic feathers.

1pm – along with a trip to the doctor’s to get the results of my shoulder ultrasound (no tears, so exercise and stretching until it gets better), drop off a library book and hit The Works for lunch. Along with all that, I finished Kingdom Of Needle and Bone, the new Subterranean Press novella from Mira Grant. Fabulous read, As usual from her.

6:30 pm – After a much needed nap, I finished I Met A Traveller In An Antique Lad, a Connie Willis novella, also from Subterranean Press. I also have been listening to a Clive Cussler audiobook and read a little fan fiction as a bit of junk food.

At bedtime last night, I’d read for 10:09. I’m halfway through a collection of short stories, and there was 4 hours left in an audiobook, for a total of the equivalent of 400 pages. I’ll definitely finish both today and I’ve got a couple more books waiting in the wings.

2:30 pm – Finished the audiobook of Sea of Greed by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown. Always fun in audiobook. I also finished The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana, translated from Catalan. Highly entertaining crime stories, full of black humour.

9:45 pm – I ended up not finishing anything else. My eyes are burning, so I went back to an audiobook that had been stopped for a library book, and listened to a couple of hours of that, around the family Sunday dinner.

In the end, I made it to 20:15. It’s looking like 20 hours is pretty much the max I can do in two days.

Who’ s afraid of the big bad gay

39196330

A new year, and time to start catching up on reviews of last year’s reading.

Ike’s Mystery Man by Peter Shinkle is a very interesting combination of biography and history. On the whole, it is a biography of Robert Cutler, who was the first National Security Advisor.

He was also a gay man working in the government during the McCarthy era, when not only communists, but ‘sexual perverts’ were being hunted as security risks. It doesn’t appear that he went to great lengths to hide his sexuality, but he was never exposed. In fact, some powerful people seem to have deliberately shielded him.

So, while we learn a lot about the man’s life, through school and war and finally government work, as well as his infatuations with younger men, we also get a view of the changing view of government. For example, the book looks at the primary era of the CIA trying to change governments around the world in the US’s favour, even though the hindsight of now says that those regime changes rarely worked out well in the long run. We also get a first-hand view of how dangerous it was to be a gay man in government, although I get the feeling that he rarely was a lover of his paramours as much as a mentor. But while he never faced exposure, a number of the younger men in his circle of influence ended having to resign instead of being exposed.

The author is a relative of Robert Cutler, and had access to, among other things, a series of diaries that he gave to the young man who was the great love of his life, although the man in question had several regular lovers. Later in life, Cutler seemed to vacillate between great joy whenever they were together to intense depression when he didn’t get the reassurances he wanted that he was the focus of the life a man less than half his age.

All in all, it was a fabulous read about a part of recent history I knew little about. After all, few people think twice about gays in government anymore, but even in Canada, there was a long period of time when public servants could find themselves under investigation because someone made an accusation. In Canada, they were hooked up to a device called, I kid you not, the Fruit Machine in an attempt to determine homosexuality. Thankfully, the world, for the most part, has moved past that stage.