Summer season Shorts: The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson, Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore & Lifeless to Her by Sarah Pinborough.

How effectively have you learnt your finest good friend?

Orla and Kate have been finest buddies endlessly. Former celebration ladies who beloved to bounce until daybreak, new mum Orla and newly single Kate, have drifted aside of late. Nevertheless, if there’s one factor assured to carry them again collectively, it’s their annual weekend away. This 12 months, a visit to Lisbon is on the playing cards. Whereas Orla is a bit of nervous to depart her child for an entire weekend, she’s additionally wanting ahead to a weekend spent catching up together with her finest good friend. Possibly they’ll even dance the night time away. That’s one thing Orla hasn’t achieved shortly. As for Kate, glamorous as ever, she’s nonetheless the fun-time woman Orla knew approach again when. And Kate is able to celebration!

The morning after the night time earlier than, Orla awakes with the hangover from hell. There’s no signal of Kate. Neither is there any signal of the 2 very handsome guys they introduced again from the membership. Ahem. Orla’s undecided what her husband would make of that exact element. Not that something untoward occurred. At the least she’s fairly positive. The reality is, although Orla doesn’t suppose she drank that a lot, particulars of her night time out with Kate are hazy.

Because the hours go, and Kate doesn’t return, Orla begins to panic, satisfied that one thing horrible has occurred to her good friend. Alone in a metropolis she doesn’t know, she units out to search out Kate, however it appears as if her good friend has vanished into skinny air. Seems, Kate has her secrets and techniques. Secrets and techniques that can shatter Orla’s world.  Did Orla ever actually know her finest good friend in any respect?

Quick-paced, partaking, and an entire lot of enjoyable, The Weekend Away is a good summer season page-turner, with a twisty ending that can go away you wanting extra. A winner!

4 Stars
Printed July twenty third 2020 by Avon
Acquired for assessment


twotruths - Summer season Shorts: The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson, Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore & Lifeless to Her by Sarah Pinborough.
Straightforward, breezy, and with a Mother Squad harking back to the Greek refrain in Liane Moriarty’s Large Little Lies, Meg Mitchell Moore’s Two Truths and a Lie is the proper escapist summer season learn.

When Sherri Griffin arrives within the beachside city of Newburyport contemporary from a divorce – at the very least that’s the official story – she’s not anticipating to suit proper in with the native Mother Squad. And she or he doesn’t. Nevertheless, for the sake of her eleven 12 months outdated daughter, Katie, Sherri has to make an effort with this shut knit group of women who lunch, gossip and day-drink with abandon.

As soon as upon a time, Rebecca Coleman was all aboard the Mother Squad gossip prepare, however not a lot as of late. Ever since her husband died, eighteen months in the past, Rebecca has been grieving. She’s additionally been spending time with a brand new man, however the Mother Squad doesn’t have to find out about that. Are you able to think about the gossip? In any case, the Mother Squad is just not taking note of Rebecca, so distracted are they by the movies her seventeen-year-old daughter, Alexa, is importing to YouTube. After all, Rebecca is aware of nothing about her daughter’s on-line life.

When Alexa agrees to babysit Katie – the Mother Squad is in full settlement that Katie, at eleven, is just too outdated for a sitter and that one thing should be occurring – Rebecca and Sherri develop nearer, Alexa discovers a darkish secret, and a tragedy happens in a summer season that can change the whole lot for one, probably two, and perhaps even all three, of those ladies.

If it’s pure summer season escapism you’re searching for – with a splash of thriller and a smidge of bittersweet first like to boot– then Two Truths and a Lie is it. Whereas the story doesn’t supply something in the best way of main surprises (besides one!) it’s nonetheless an satisfying summer season learn with which to absorb the solar.

3.5 Stars
Printed June sixteenth 2020 by William Morrow
Acquired for assessment

deadtoher2 - Summer season Shorts: The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson, Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore & Lifeless to Her by Sarah Pinborough.

For those who marry for cash, you’ll earn each penny of it…

When down-on-her-luck waitress Marcie met profitable lawyer Jason Maddox, sparks flew. Feathers had been ruffled when Jason divorced his first spouse, however that’s all up to now, and Marcie is now fortunately ensconced because the second Mrs. Maddox. As such, Marcie enjoys all the trimmings of the elite Savannah society to which Jason belongs. It’s five-star all the best way for the previous waitress from Boise, Idaho. Marcie might not have been ‘born to it’ and he or she is aware of the Savannah ‘outdated cash’ set will all the time see her as an outsider, however she will reside with that. The massive home helps. As does the nation membership. Oh, and the countless buying sprees – these assist too.

At thirty-five, Marcie is an effective deal youthful and extra glamorous than the botoxed-to-the-eyeballs first-wives in her set, and so when Jason’s boss, the recently-widowed William, returns from a visit to Europe with a a lot youthful second-wife in tow, Marcie is lower than happy. At twenty-two, Keisha, an apparent gold-digger, is just not solely youthful than Marcie, she’s extra lovely too. And ever since she arrived on the town, Keisha has been flirting up a storm with Marcie’s husband, Jason…

There could also be bother forward.

For those who’re an everyday reader of Sarah Pinborough’s novels, then you definitely’ll know to count on the surprising. That’s actually the case with Lifeless to Her, which could seem to be a scrumptious summer season thriller of errant husbands and warring wives, however is definitely deeper, darker, and much deadlier than that. Lifeless to Her is depraved with a twist – and an entire lot of unusual. For those who favored Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes, you’ll get pleasure from this.
3.5 Stars
Printed August sixth 2020 by HarperCollins
Acquired for assessment

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.