What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? April Fools Day

Before I say anything at all about what might be on my nightstand, virtually or otherwise, I have to give over a few minutes to April Fool’s Day. Really.

Did you have a Nintendo NES? Or any 8-bit gaming system? The folks at Google obviously not only had several, but they remember them very, very fondly. Go to maps.google.com and start your quest for a touch of nostalgia. Watch the video tutorial for a real belly laugh. There’s an article on USA Today with details and “Easter Eggs”.

For the more literary-minded, Shelf Awareness has published a special, April 1 edition of their normally weekday e-newsletter for booksellers, reviewers, librarians and anyone interested in books and the book trade (it’s generally awesome and well worth subscribing to). But the April 1 issue is an absolute delight of wit, sarcasm and irony. With just the splash of “oh, maybe, could it be…someday?” thrown in now and again for good measure.

On my nightstand, really and not April Fool’s, it’s a light week. I’ll try to do a little catchup, or a little reading ahead. I know, I know, famous last words…

Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves is a YA-ish paranormal mystery. But I picked it on NetGalley because is it set in London during the Gaslight era, and involves Jack the Ripper. It sounded creepy-scary but not too scary. And I love Victorian London of that era, it’s the Sherlock Holmes era.


Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson had four things to recommend it: urban fantasy, a New Orleans setting, and Hurricane Katrina blowing everything to hell in a handbasket to start the story, and dead pirates. As a starting line-up, it sounds terrific. I’m willing to bite on this debut novel.
I reviewed Isles of the Forsaken by Carolyn Ives Gilman last year. Although it got off to a slow start, about half-way through I got totally absorbed and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The sequel, Ison of the Isles is finally here. Yes!


So, what do you think? Should I catch up on some of the TBR nightstands of old? Or should I read ahead and queue up reviews for nightstands to come? Or here’s a novel thought, I could read some books just for fun!

No fooling around, there will be an Ebook Review Central tomorrow, and it’s the four-in-one issue.

Before I forget, April 4 and 5 Reading Reality will celebrate a unique event. It’s a Blogo-Birthday!

What’s that? Reading Reality’s Blogoversary is April 4. The blogger of Reading Reality is having a birthday April 5. Hence, Blogo-Birthday.

This will be like a hobbit birthday. Meaning that I will give presents instead of receiving them. A giftcard will be given away on each day!

Come back April 4-5 and celebrate with me!

Isles of the Forsaken

Isles of the Forsaken by Carolyn Ives Gilman was one of those books that I picked to review because I thought I was going to like it. Then I nearly didn’t. Then I read it all in a big clump, because I had to find out what happened. And about two-thirds of the way through, I realized that the author couldn’t possibly loop all the holes in the pages remaining. And she didn’t. Dammit, there’s a sequel.

The story starts out in very familiar territory. A young man, Nathaway Talley, is the youngest son of the most prominent family in the kingdom. The Talleys run everything, and they excel at everything. At least, all of them do except Nathaway. Nat can’t find any profession to put his heart into, until he joins the expedition to the Forsaken Islands as a junior Justice. He discovers that enlightening the “heathens” about the impartial beauties of law and civilization are the calling that he has been waiting for.

Harg Ismol is a captain in the Native Navy. But that is not quite enough of a description. Harg is the one, the only Adaina captain in the Native Navy. His people are the “heathens” that Nat’s expedition is coming to civilize. Harg’s people in the South Chain islands have remained isolated, and kept to their old ways. They still believe in the balance of nature and the spirits of their islands. Harg’s people are not just subjugated by Nat’s empire, which has until now been far away fighting another war, but they have been under the much closer thumb of the people of the North Chain Islands, under the rule of the Tiarch, who have been collaborating with Nat’s people, the Innings.

At the opening of Isles, Harg Ismol resigns his Naval commission and returns to his tiny home island of Yora. He thinks he is returning to the paradise he remembers from his youth. But nothing is as he remembers it, because he is not the same.

On Yora, the final subject of the story resides. Spaeth Dobrin is a ritual healer  She is one of the people that Nat is planning to save. Ritual healers don’t cure with herbs, or even with spells, although that is what the Innings believe. Ritual healers, Lashnura, are a different race altogether. They are compelled by their nature to heal. They cure by binding themselves to the people they heal by giving up their blood, and their life essence, as part of the healing. But Spaeth does not want to be bound. She rebels against her nature.

Everyone in this story is in rebellion. Nat’s is a quiet rebellion against his family’s expectations. Harg was a youthful rebel against the Adaina spirit of compromise, so he joined the Navy. Returning, he becomes the voice of the Adaina rebellion against Inning imperialism. Spaeth rebels against her nature, her own body’s need to become a healer.

Even the secondary characters are in revolt. The last spiritual leader of the Islands hides on a tiny outpost and refuses to name a successor. The Tiarch, the Satrap-like governor of the Islands, finally rebels against the Inning empire. Even the Admiral of the Inning Fleet revolts against the rule of Law and Order he is sent to bring to the Islands.

The Inning imperials’ civilization is itself a rebellion against the very nature and naturalism of the Forsaken Islands. And the living spirits of the Islands rise up in rebellion to overthrow that civilization, taking the confused son of the empire as one of their representatives.

Does the plot of the story confuse? Yes, it does at points. A little backstory on how the Talleys and the Inning Empire got to where they are, and who they fought in that previous war, would have helped this reader.  But once all the players in this drama are gathered together it is impossible to turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens next.