Book Review: The Lido by Libby Page

 

We’re never too old to make new friends—or to make a difference.

Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton, London, all her life but everything is changing.

The library where she used to work has closed. The family grocery store has become a trendy bar. And now the lido, an outdoor pool where she’s swam daily since its opening, is threatened with closure by a local housing developer. It was at the lido that Rosemary escaped the devastation of World War II; here she fell in love with her husband, George; here she found community during her marriage and since George’s death.

Twenty-something Kate Matthews has moved to Brixton and feels desperately alone. A once promising writer, she now covers forgettable stories for her local paper. That is, until she’s assigned to write about the lido’s closing. Soon Kate’s portrait of the pool focuses on a singular woman: Rosemary. And as Rosemary slowly opens up to Kate, both women are nourished and transformed in ways they never thought possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.

What a lovely, lovely book!

A lido, for the benefit of my fellow Americans who’ve never encountered the word before (other than via references to the Lido Deck on The Love Boat re-runs), is an outdoor pool. And in The Lido, it’s so much more than simply a place to swim. For the Brixton neighborhood, the lido is a fixture dating back to pre-World War II, a place where members of the community of all walks of life come together to exercise, to raise children, to chat with friends, to interact with neighbors. But as with so much in this day and age, a community gathering center that doesn’t bring in big bucks has a hard time lasting, so when a development company wants to buy the property and turn it into upscale housing and tennis courts — well, of course that’s a tempting offer for a cash-strapped local council.

And yet, there are people like 86-year-old Rosemary, who has had the lido as a centerpiece of her life for more years than she can count. Her memories of her late husband — and really, their entire love story — are inseparable from the memories of the moments they spent together at the lido. The lido remains the true constant in Rosemary’s life, and in the lives of countless of her neighbors. The potential loss of the lido is like one more death for Rosemary, and seems to represent the final, shattering blow for a woman who’s lived through so much and has already lost the love of her life.

George is in the way the mist sits on the water in the morning, he is in the wet decking and the brightly colored lockers and in the sharp intake of breath when she steps into the water, reminding her that she is still alive. Reminding her to stay alive.

For Kate, the lido starts off as merely a newspaper assignment, but as she comes to know Rosemary, Kate begins to connect with the community that’s sprung up around the lido, and even rediscovers her own joy of swimming, something lost to her as an adult who is often overwhelmed by anxiety and panic. Kate becomes invested personally in saving the lido, and through her deepening friendship with Rosemary, finally finds a community that she belongs to.

But there was something about Kate that made Rosemary think she was in great need of a swim.

Rosemary and Kate are both wonderful characters. Rosemary is strong and wise, but still mourning her beloved George. Kate is a vulnerable young adult who has had the confidence drained out of her over the years — but Rosemary and the lido seem to give her a new purpose and a new sense of self, enabling her to emerge from her shell and truly connect.

I loved the chapters filled with Rosemary’s memories of her courtship, romance, and early years with George — and also the memories of their more mature years, such as the time they snuck into the lido late one night for a midnight swim and then couldn’t get back over the fence to sneak away. The depiction of the fire brigade rescuing this 70-something-year-old couple is priceless.

The story is told through multiple viewpoints, not just those of Rosemary and Kate, but also nameless characters such as a pregnant woman and a teenage boy who each find meaning in their lido swims. We even see certain events through the eyes of a fox — and crazy as that might sound, it absolutely works.

Most of all, the friendship between Rosemary and Kate is simply beautiful. The two women are separated by sixty years of life, but they’re brought together by their loneliness, and find in one another someone to listen, to care, to be there for, and to laugh with.

Kate thinks of the first time she swam with Rosemary, how the old woman seemed to become young in the water, and how she, Kate, felt the unsteadier one. She had felt then that Rosemary’s strength was tucked away beneath her dry-land clothes, a hidden power unleashed not by a cape but by a navy blue swimsuit.

I really can’t say enough good things about this book! The Lido paints a gorgeous picture of the power of community, the importance of connections, and how great a gift friendship can be, not matter how surprising the package it comes in.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: The Lido
Author: Libby Page
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: July 10, 2018
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

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Shelf Control #126: Abandon by Blake Crouch

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: Abandon
Author: Blake Crouch
Published: 2009
Length: 521 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman, and child in a remote gold-mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins—and not a single bone was ever found.

One hundred sixteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them to the abandoned mining town so they can learn what happened. Recently, a similar party had also attempted to explore the town and was never heard from again. Now the area is believed to be haunted. This crew is about to discover, twenty miles from civilization with a blizzard bearing down, that they are not alone, and the past is very much alive.

How and when I got it:

I picked up Abandon when there was a Kindle price drop a few years ago.

Why I want to read it:

Ooh, sounds creepy, doesn’t it? I’ve only read one book by this author (Dark Matter, which I loved), but I’d like to read more. And hey, I’m a sucker for a good ghost story… eerie disappearances and deserted western towns are definitely a plus!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten recent novellas that I really, really loved

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Favorite Novellas/Short Stories.

I’m not a huge short story fan, but I have read some amazing novellas lately. Here are some of the best:

1) The Wayward Children novellas by Seanan McGuire:

Every Heart a Doorway (review)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Beneath the Sugar Sky

2) The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (review)

3) Time Was by Ian McDonald (review)

4) The Binti novellas by Nnedi Okorafor

5) American Hippo novellas by Sarah Gailey (review)

6) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (review)

7) Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (review)

8) How to Marry A Werewolf by Gail Carriger (review)

9) The Dispatcher by John Scalzi (review)

10) Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant (review)

 

What are the best novellas and short stories that you’ve read recently? Please share your TTT links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 7/16/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: Loved it. My review is here.

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1) by Tamora Pierce: Finished the audiobook! This is a re-read for me, after many, many years, and I’m really enjoying it.

Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer: Noir detective fiction starring main characters Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Yes, it’s just as silly as it sounds… and so much fun. My review is here.

Pop culture goodness:

This week’s entertainment included a bit of live theater…

And a movie!

Elsewhere on the blog:

Phew! I finally did some major housekeeping on the Book Blog Meme Directory! I went through and tested all the links to verify that the memes listed are still up and active. If you’ve visited before, you’ll notice that the list has shrunk a lot… but those that remain all check out! So now, it’s time to add — if you know of other book blog memes that you love and think others will love too, please let me know! New additions always welcome.

Fresh Catch:

So many new books this week:

And what’s life without a couple of new Georgette Heyer books too?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Lido by Libby Page: A lovely story about a friendship between two women of different generations who meet at the local pool. I’m at about the halfway mark, and really enjoying it.

Now playing via audiobook:

In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness, #2) by Tamora Pierce: Continuing my adventures with Alanna! It’s so much fun to revisit this series after all these years.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.
  • We’re continuing our way through all of Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John stories, currently on the final week of The Custom of the Army.

So many books, so little time…

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Take A Peek Book Review: Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

 

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

This mystery thriller reunites Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama for a political mashup full of suspense, intrigue, and laugh out loud bromance.

Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted—the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.

Part noir thriller and part bromance novel, Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fanfiction—and a cathartic read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.

My Thoughts:

For everyone who laughed through their tears while scrolling through all those countless Biden/Obama memes…

This one’s for you.

Hope Never Dies is a noir detective story that just happens to feature our favorite presidential bromantic couple as the lead action heroes. In this funny, warm-hearted satire, retired Joe Biden is still a good guy, but one with enough time on his hands to build up a great big load of resentment over former bestie Barack’s never-ending parade of fun celebrity outings… while Joe just waits for a simple call or a text. But when the Amtrak conductor who’d been a part of Joe’s commute for decades turns up dead under suspicious circumstances, Joe and Barack are thrown together into a crime investigation that features drugs, bikers, shady cops, and plenty of stops for fast food.

“Son of a buttermilk biscuit” I said, grimacing. “We got bamboozled.”

This book is charming AF and oh-so-silly, and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about the good old days when these two were in the White House. Their fictional counterparts are adorable, and their ongoing friendship and devotion brought the teeniest little lump to my throat. The author has a knack for keeping the story moving while weaving in little snippets of dialogue and actions that bring our former POTUS and VPOTUS to life on the page.

Hope Never Dies is a surprisingly fun read, and the detective elements are actually pretty clever and engaging too. But really, read it for the Biden-isms and cool-as-hell Obama appearances. It’s like a little ray of sunshine in book form.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Hope Never Dies
Author: Andrew Shaffer
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication date: July 10, 2018
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Satire
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

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Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

 

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

What a fascinating story! I hadn’t heard of Scythe until my son’s high school picked it for their school-wide summer reading book. Once I picked up a copy (ostensibly for my son), I just had to read it. Utterly compelling and impossible to put down.

In the world of Scythe, modern history dates back to the year 2042:

It’s a year that every schoolchild knows. It was the year when computational power became infinite — or so close to infinite that is could no longer be measured. It was the year we knew… everything. “The cloud” evolved into “the Thunderhead,” and now all there is to know about everything resides in the near-infinite memory of the Thunderhead for anyone who wants to access it.

With the coming of the Thunderhead and infinite knowledge, humankind had the answers to everything — disease, hunger, death. People became immortal, and thus, the need for scythes emerged. Generations later, scythes have rockstar status (there are even trading cards), but are also feared and treated as outside normal society. Scythes bring death as they “glean” people, some with thoughtful process and compassion, others with showy spectacle. Yes, people still have accidents and can be “deadish”, but everyone who dies in any manner can be revived, apart from those who have been gleaned. Gleanings are final, and irrevocable.

As Citra and Rowan have their lives transformed, from humdrum teen life to the world of apprenticeship, they’re thrust into a secret society of laws and infighting and a morality all its own. And as the year of apprentice progresses, they learn that some scythes have embraced a more corrupt, corrosive form of scythedom, and that these scythes seem poised to take over completely.

I was utterly absorbed while reading this book. There are some truly deep notions that I can only imagine would make for fabulous discussions. In Scythe, we learn that with infinite knowledge comes a lack of true meaning. Everything that can be known is already known. All accomplishments have been accomplished. Life stretches on forever, and when a person’s body reaches a more advanced age than desired, he or she can simply “turn a corner” and reset back to an earlier age. Without the fear of death or the sense of a limited time to make one’s mark, life is persistent and pleasant, but there’s no sense of urgency. Art suffers — there are no heights of passion or suffering to scale. Everything is nice… but it kind of sounds like a pretty boring way to live forever.

The power plays of the scythes is scary and upsetting to read about. Scythes are untouchable and answer only to their own governing body — so when corrupt scythes who tow the line of the letter of the law while committing horrific acts start climbing to dominance, there’s no balancing force to keep scythedom pure.

I really just can’t say enough good things about this book! I was completely hooked, and can’t wait to start the sequel, Thunderhead.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: November 22, 2016
Length: 435 pages
Genre: Young adult fiction
Source: Purchased

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Shelf Control #125: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Published: 2012
Length: 288 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

How and when I got it:

I finally picked up a Kindle edition a couple of years ago, after having this book on my wishlist since it first came out in 2012.

Why I want to read it:

Books about books and books about bookstores are always a treat! This book sounds wonderful and weird… and now that I’ve read the author’s newest (Sourdough), I’m kicking myself for not having read Mr. Penumbra yet.

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My ten favorite books (so far!) in 2018

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far).

Where to even start? 2018 has been full of amazing books for me — here are some of my favorites:

1) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (review)

2) The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson (review)

3) Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (review)

4) The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (review)

5) The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (11 books and counting!)

6) The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)

7) Only Human (Themis Files, #3) by Sylvain Neuvel (review)

8) The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (review)

9) The Murderbot Diaries, books #1 & 2 by Martha Wells (review)

It’s kind of hard to limit myself to just ten… but the final spot, I think I need to go with one of the two Georgette Heyer books I’ve read (so far) in 2018. I can always count on GH’s books to brighten my day!

10) A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer (review)

Oh, what the heck… let’s include one more, because it was just so unique and awesome:

11) Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (review)

And now I’m going to hit the “publish” button before I add any more to this list!

What are your top books read so far in 2018? Please share your TTT links!

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The Monday Check-In ~ 7/9/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I’m back! And finally starting to feel human again after a nasty, nasty week of jetlag. Want to know where I’ve been? Check out my vacation post, here.

What did I read during the last week?

First of all, I read a WHOLE BUNCH of books on vacation — you can see my wrap-up post here.

And since I’ve been back, I managed to finish two terrific books:

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce: Captivating historical fiction by a debut author. My review is here.

Robots vs Fairies editied by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe: A sci-fi/fantasy collection, including works by some favorite authors. My thoughts are here.

And, in book group news — we finished our group read of Lord John and the Haunted Soldier by Diana Gabaldon. Another outstanding adventure!

Fresh Catch:

New books arrived this week:

The Dreamers is a Goodreads giveaway! After entering these for years, I finally won something… and it’s something I’m really excited to read!

I also treated myself to a little something from Out of Print — they were offering mystery grab bags for $40, and I couldn’t resist… and I’m thrilled with what I ended up getting:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: Ssh, don’t tell — I stole my son’s required summer reading book!

Now playing via audiobook:

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1) by Tamora Pierce: It’s been at least 15 years since I read the Alanna quartet, and I’ve always meant to go back and read more of the Tortall books — but first I need to remember the basics. So, it’s back to the beginning I go! I’m enjoying the audiobook so far — we’ll see if I stick with the audio format for the whole series.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week… and we have a long way still to go.
  • We’re continuing our way through all of Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John stories, currently on week 2 (of 3) focused on The Custom of the Army. Always great to revisit a favorite character.

So many books, so little time…

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Book Review: Robots vs Fairies – edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

 

A unique anthology of all-new stories that challenges authors to throw down the gauntlet in an epic genre battle and demands an answer to the age-old question: Who is more awesome—robots or fairies?

Rampaging robots! Tricksy fairies! Facing off for the first time in an epic genre death match!

People love pitting two awesome things against each other. Robots vs. Fairies is an anthology that pitches genre against genre, science fiction against fantasy, through an epic battle of two icons.

On one side, robots continue to be the classic sci-fi phenomenon in literature and media, from Asimov to WALL-E, from Philip K. Dick to Terminator. On the other, fairies are the beloved icons and unquestionable rulers of fantastic fiction, from Tinkerbell to Tam Lin, from True Blood to Once Upon a Time. Both have proven to be infinitely fun, flexible, and challenging. But when you pit them against each other, which side will triumph as the greatest genre symbol of all time?

There can only be one…or can there?

This awesome story collection has a premise spelled out in the introduction by the editors:

“I, for one, welcome our __________ overlords.”

Assuming the mechanical and/or magical revolution has already taken place by the time you read this, we, the editors, always knew you would come out on top. Yes, you.

We knew this day would come. We tried to warn the others. It was obvious either the sharp rate of our technological advancement would lead to the robot singularity claiming lordship over all, or that the fairies would finally grow tired of our reckless destruction of the natural world and take it back from us.

And so, we have prepared a guide to assist our fellow humans in embracing their inevitable overlords. (If you are reading this and you are human, we are so pleased you found this book in time to ready yourself for the impending/current robot/fairy apocalypse. You are quite welcome.)

Robots vs Fairies is an anthology of stories by an impressive assortment of sci-fi and fantasy writers, each focusing on either robots or fairies (or in a few cases, both). There are eighteen stories in all, ranging from silly to darkly serious. In each case, right after the story, the author declares him/herself “team robot” or “team fairy”, and explains why — and these little pieces are just as entertaining as the stories themselves, in my humble opinion.

As I’ve said in many a review, I’m really not a short story reader, so the fact that I made it all the way through this book is somewhat of an achievement. I did end up skipping 2 or 3 stories that just didn’t call to me, but otherwise read them all, even the ones that left me puzzled or disengaged or with a mighty shoulder shrug.

Still, the stories that I enjoyed, I really, really enjoyed. Best of the batch for me were:

Build Me a Wonderland by Seanan McGuire: Well, of course I loved the Seanan McGuire story! I’m been on a roll with Seanan McGuire books all year, so there’s really zero chance that I wouldn’t love what she wrote. In this story, we see behind the scenes at a theme park with really magical magical effects. Hint: They’re not CGI. The story is clever and intricate and very much fun.

Quality Time by Ken Liu: Ooh, a disturbing robot story! All about a young tech worker looking for the next big breakthrough, whose inventions have unintended consequences.

Murmured Under the Moon by Tim Pratt: About a human librarian given responsibility for fairy archives. Creative and magical and just a wee bit threatening — and hey, it’s about a library! What’s not to love?

The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto by Annalee Newitz: Not a fairy story! It’s a robotic version of Pinocchio, and asks all sorts of great questions about what it is to be real, and what it means to have choices.

Bread and Milk and Salt by Sarah Gailey: I loved Sarah Gailey’s American Hippo novellas, so was really excited to see her included in this collection. Bread and Milk and Salt is probably the creepiest story of the bunch, about a fairy captured by a sadistic human and how she turns things around. Dark and disturbing and delicious.

And perhaps my favorite, because I love John Scalzi and his humor, and this story left me rolling on the floor:

Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind From the Era of Humans For the First Time: Oh my. This story is exactly what the title says it is — a dialogue between robots trying to figure out the purpose and functionality of human objects such as a ball, a sandwich, and a cat. Just amazing. And in case you’re wondering about our future overlords, it would seem clear that it’s cats for the win.

There are plenty more stories, some I found captivating, some weird, all original and entertaining and often perplexing too. It’s really a strong collection, and I could see enjoying it either as a book to read straight through, or as a collection to leave on the nightstand and pick up from time to time to read just one story here or or there, whenever the mood strikes.

As a side note, I had purchased an earlier collection from these editors, featuring some of the same authors plus several others whose works I love. The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales was published in 2016, and I have yet to open it. Maybe it’s time for it to come down off the shelf and sit on my nightstand, close at hand for when I need a story or two.

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The details:

Title: Robots vs Fairies
Authors: Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication date: January 9, 2018
Length: 373 pages
Genre: Science fiction/fantasy anthology
Source: Purchased

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