Rarity from the Hollow 3/5by Robert Eggleton
This was an odd read that fluctuated throughout trying to find its own identity but never settling. It gets an extra star from me because it was interestingly written, often witty and dry and punchy, riding quite heavily on dialogue, but there was a lot that didn't really work.
Lacy Dawn is a preteen in an abusive family; physical from the father and neglect from the mother. They live in a rundown home in the hollow, a mildly undefined space at the edge of town. She chants roundabend, roundabend, roundabend and floats into the woods (where the trees talk to her) to see her alien-android friend, DotCom. At first you're not sure what's real and what's made up, and though a lot of things are made concrete there's so many elements in this book it's a feeling that never quite goes away.
DotCom promises to help with her family problems by 'fixing' her parents, and in return she must save the world. The first act is an interesting mix of preteen worries and adult themes, as we explore the abusive relationships within the family, and early adolescent longings. She loves DotCom, and he, an android, loves her back. But he has no genitals.
Genitalia, panties, love and lust and masturbation all have a big part to play. But the tone of the book and the witty style of writing is so at odds with the themes that when these things are idly, as if in passing, mentioned, from the POV (in the main) of a preteen girl, it is a strange thing to read. It's bold for sure, but is just consistently weird. Thing is, Lacy Dawn, (rarely just Lacy) is educated to a high degree by plug-in sessions with DotCom in which he uploads information (metaphors!) so this could easily have been explained and made to feel more natural if her higher level of intelligence was highlighted more, but I never really felt that.
Add acts 2 and 3 and you have a book which was way too long and tangential. I love scifi, and when they went offworld I thought some plot might kick off, but it was drawn out and revolved around shopping. So odd! The book is advertised, and was presented to me by the writer, as an exploration of childhood abuse but that is, in the main, all 'solved' within the first act, making the rest a scifi adventure about a girl who likes talking about her panties and an android's growing penis, while playing out an episode of Extreme Couponing.
The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M Appel
On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters. On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath--a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society. As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others. When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity.
Zach, a justice angel and one of the agency’s most skilled operatives, has just returned from a harrowing mission working with the dead and dying in strife-torn Syria. The last thing he needs is to be sent back into the field.
But two humans on a celestial witness protection programme have just been abducted and Zach, saddled against his better judgement with rookie agent and time shifter Sara, is sent into the Inferno to rescue them.
A Blindefellows Chronicle by Aureil Roe
The naïve newcomer is quickly taken under the wing of the rumbustious, philandering Japes, master of physics, who soon becomes something of a mentor, though not in an academic sense.
A Blindefellows Chronicle follows the adventures of Sedgewick, Japes and a handful of other unmarried faculty at an obscure West Country boarding school including the closeted headmaster, Reverend Hareton, stalwart Matron Ridgeway and loathsome librarian, Fairchild.
Each of the dozens of stories in Dalphin’s frightening debut collection is bound to tingle your spine and leave you looking over your shoulder. If you enjoy a good shudder, Dalphin’s terrifying tome will satisfy your craving for the macabre. But be prepared… Lock your doors, check your windows, and whatever you do…
Don’t look away.
One kidnapped girl.
One impossible rescue mission.
When the staff of a human rights NGO receive a call from a distraught girl, Mya, claiming she had been kidnapped, they are thrown on a gut-wrenching quest. They don't know who she is. They don't know where she is or her destination. All they have is a phone connection. Every clue draws them closer to her rescue...or pushes them to frustration. Within the next twelve hours, they must each make daring sacrifices and be tested to their limit.
While the narrator is not a female, four women play prominently in the plot and resolution to the conflict in the story. Three-fingered Jack Davis sells some laced black tar heroin that contained carfentanyl, a drug used to tranquilize elephants. Several of the addicts overdose, and now Jack and a new friend, Jesse James Hofstetler are stuck with a number of dead bodies to deal with. The two men aren't evil, not in the way a serial killer is, but under the law they have committed murder. But they also possess a very human side, Jack takes in a young addict named Posie and offers her protection, and Jesse saves the life of an overdosed girl called Imogene. Looking for refuge they hook up with Marielle, nicknamed Hell, a prostitute who owns a house of ill repute in the neighborhood. The lives of the five become intertwined as they are investigated by tough, but fair, Detroit homicide detective Bonnie Benham.
They placed him in a Calorie Reduction Centre (CRC), where trained staff work to help him and many others slim down. Well, that was the intention, anyway. The powers that be had decided chubby citizens must either go there or lose their health care coverage.
When he meets Jacinda Williams, an activist lawyer researching this new system, Keelan is more determined than ever to slim down. But Keelan discovers losing weight is more difficult than it seems, especially when he also has to fight against a ridiculous bureaucracy and policy wonks with hidden agendas. Can he succeed, and will the CRC-crossed lovers ever sit at love’s banquet together?