Review: The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

UncertainPlacesPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616960140
ISBN 13: 9781616960148
Published: June 2011
Pages: 237
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

‘The Uncertain Places’ by Lisa Goldstein is a modern (well, set in 1971 and after) fairytale set in America, involving the family Feierabend and their uncanny life of luck. When Will and his best friend Ben become involved in their lives, they are soon involved in unravelling the mystery that encases the family, especially when Livvy – Will’s girlfriend – falls to the fate that ensures the family’s luck will continue.
The book is clever in the little hints we see right from the very first pages, that all add up as the story progresses. The detail in the scenery and what life was like in those days paints a vivid picture, so those too young to know what happened in the 70s, and someone who’s never been to America before still gains an interesting perspective to their way of life, and the influences those times would have had on a person.

Some may view the characters as lacking depth, yet I took them on as characters I could place against people I know in my own life. Livvy’s annoying showy sister Maddie who’s ultimately good, their mother who’s a little whispery around the edges (and usually in the middle, too) and the younger sister you kind of forget about for a while – perhaps for too long.

The plot ultimately keeps you guessing and progresses the story quite quickly, even when time passes (as we see the characters from college through to their older years) but something must be said for how easily they do get out of seemingly impossibly situations. Reason is given, yet a little more despair or attempts would have made it feel the scene was more warranted, or perhaps if it had further replications in the future.

What is special about this book is the emotion and ‘feel’ it conveys, which made it hard to put down and certainly one of my favourite books of the year so far. It’s different to the majority what’s out there and caught me by surprise by eager I was to continue reading it. There are little issues here and there that I found easy to overlook (and not even notice while I was reading, and only took note of while scrolling through other reviews on GoodReads) but they did not take any enjoyment away from the story – moreso, I would be interested to hear what the author would say in response.

Ultimately, this book made me wish there was more of it, because I felt a certain kind of sadness when it was over, and still felt the need to pick it up and continue reading it for the rest of the day, and a few days after that. Lisa Goldstein has written a fairytale possibly in our modern world as many people have done so already, though she has done so with a certain voice and way of words. I’ll be looking out for her other work in the future.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 30th June 2012.

Stairs to Ventureadlaxre

Best Books of 2012

Books read and to be published in 2013

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

A coming of age story set in the unspecified future of America that captured my interested as soon as it spoke of the destruction of Australia and how we were replaced by AI computers until we were able to repopulate once again, along with the rest of the world.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius (edited) by John Joseph Adams

A fantastic collection about superheroes and villains and those around them in a variety of ways. With authors such as Mira Grant and Mary Robinette Kowal, and cover art by Ben Templesmith, it’s a struggle to find anything lacking. Highly recommended for the high quality within!

Books read and published in 2012

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

A dystopian novella set in 2013, 2014 and 2035, telling the story from three split times (as one could probably guess from the title) of the world almost destroyed by a combination of things. What grabs you about this book is how plausible it all could be – it’s all so very well written, and sticks in your mind long after you’ve read it.

Blackout by Mira Grant

Last in the ‘Newsflesh’ series, this continued to be a fast-paced, epic and as ever surprising end to the fantastic series. Out of all zombie novels currently available, this stands to be the very best in my humble opinion, a series that’s too hard to categorise – science-fiction? Political thriller? Medical? Mystery? Whatever it is, it is sure to become a classic.

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

The book that we were all waiting for, then to discover it was… well, not entirely what we were expecting, even after the synopsis was released. A harsh look upon society that isn’t exactly nice to read, but probably needs more exposure. A book that makes us thankful for what we do have, it’s cleverly woven together to show the ties we have with friends, family, at work and where we live, and how these can all deflect and reflect from each other. A hard, worthy read.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

This is split into two worlds, one in Cambridge, England, and one in the fantasy Kingdom of Cello – it’s beautifully written, not strictly fantasy, nor simply mystery or literature – this is a mix of lovely and sad, biter and sweet, crazy and utterly sane and clever, intelligent and demands to be shared.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Another book I’ve been waiting for thanks to the first book in the series. It starts with the line: ‘Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching.’ and continues with beautiful description and dialogue throughout. One of the few books where the second in the series is as capturing as the first.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

About a Forger, someone who can use magic to recreate or edit any item or person as long as she knows its history. Using it on humans though is strictly forbidden, something she only does on herself usually… but when she’s captured while trying to steal the emperor’s sceptre, they offer her another option rather than death. She is to create a new soul for the emperor who, after an attack, is very close to death.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

A moving story that deals with cancer in teenagers brutally well, in more ways than one. Though the characters are hipsters to an almost painful level, the wit and intelligence Green brings to YA is a blessing. It’s an important message that one doesn’t need to live a long life, for it to be meaningful and brilliant.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

About a man whose unique mental condition allows him to imagine a slew of ‘imaginary friends’, who happen to have a wide range of skills that he can therefore access, since they are after all, only in his head.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

A memoir by the blogger The Bloggess, who is certainly on a very special, lovely kind of crack. Her work can’t help but be shared – you laugh out loud even (or especially) when it’s not appropriate, and you can’t help but adore her and everything she does.

The Painter’s Apprentice by Charlotte Betts

Just as wonderful as her first book, ‘The Apothecary’s Daughter’ (and connects on to the end, but not a series as such), it was impossible to put down even though I started it late at night – I had to read into the early hours of the morning! It’s about a girl who can’t imagine leaving her childhood home – a comforting hostel for those who would otherwise be shafted into Bedlam – she especially enjoys the company of a painter by the name of Johannes. As she has quite the talent for painting, all she has ever wanted is to develop her talent to be the very best it could ever be, and if that means never going through the distraction of marriage and a family, so be it.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

My introduction to Scalzi (who runs one of the most interesting blogs I’ve yet come across), this is a comedic science fiction tale involving time travel and a hefty dose of crack. Even those who’ve never watched Star Trek (or maybe just the latest set of movies staring Chris Pine etc and nothing else) will get a kick out of this book.

Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts

The third and final in the ‘Creature Court’ series, a fantastic end that makes you cry over the fact it’s over, as well as what happens to the characters! A very fitting end, realistic and meaningful. This series begins with ‘Power and Majesty’, and honestly – each book is as good as the other, which isn’t always the way of a trilogy. Highly recommended Australian author.

Shadow and Bone (also known as The Gathering Dark) by Leigh Bardugo

I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would, thanks to how build up it was. Overall this book is a mixture of the cliché and familiar, yet surprising and thought-provoking, as we read about almost typical boarding-school bitchyness with makeovers and balls, done somehow in a non-annoying way. This book manages to provide guilty pleasures in beautiful prose, using these plot lines in a way that aids the character and plot development.

To Spin a Darker Stair (edited) by Tehani Wessely

Two stories by two authors, dark retellings of fairytales which draw you in only to kick your heart around.

Tales of the Far West (edited) by Gareth-Michael Skarka

Yes, purchased because it features my ever-favourite Scott Lynch, this is an anthology based in the same world with stories that could tie in together – mentions of Twin Eagle Security mentioned in more than one story and so on, which was fantastically nifty to read.

Books read in 2012 (yet published earlier)

Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The first book I read of Sanderson’s that wasn’t Mistborn, where I was blown away by his range. Wax and Wayne are in my top five set of characters of all times, and the wit and fun in this book just makes me grin to even think about it.

American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson

A memoir by the brilliance that is Craig Ferguson, we see his pretty-dang awful childhood and find even more reasons to love this man.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. It’s fantastic to have a well-rounded book, one that has a well developed plot, believable characters, beautiful description and above all else – a well written novel.

The Calling (Luther) by Neil Cross

Written by the show’s writer, this book is really creepy and so, so wrong in parts, yet it’s brilliant. It does have animals being hurt which I can’t deal with that well (but humans are fine, apparently) and can’t recommend this book enough to those who love the show. It ends right as the show begins, and gives you a very detailed window into the characters.

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

So I’ll review the series as a whole, and just say that I utterly adore it all to bits. Though the ending broke my heart a little bit.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is the perfect book for gamers and geeks alike. It’s the year 2044, and there’s a competition to win an ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world – a competition that’s been going on for so long that no one really expects to find it anymore. Until Wade does.

The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

a modern (well, set in 1971 and after) fairytale set in America, involving the family Feierabend and their uncanny life of luck. This book made me wish there was more of it, because I felt a certain kind of sadness when it was over, and still felt the need to pick it up and continue reading it for the rest of the day, and a few days after that.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

It’s Brandon Sanderson – do I need to say more? You read one book of his and then have to get your hands on everything else. This book is so thick that I have a version that’s printed in two parts – and each is still thicker than most fantasy is! And every damn chapter is wonderful.

Favourites

A list of all favourite novels, with links to their reviews:

Recommended

A list of all recommended novels, with links to their reviews: