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Book review

Book Review: Conqueror Womb: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath, Martian Migraine Press
March 30, 2014 | 10:25 am

Lovecraftian fans of the Cthulhu Mythos will need no introduction to Shub-Niggurath - as in "Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!" Yes, that  Shub-Niggurath - a name so evocative as to have almost an entire sub-mythos woven around it, although H. P. Lovecraft only cited it in a few vague ceremonial chants, and did little to flesh it out beyond some allusions in other tales he ghost-wrote that tied it to the Magna Mater and Astarte. Given that Lovecraft's squamous, rugose imaginings are often attributed - fairly or unfairly - to sexual repression, it's...

Book review: Flowers of the Sea, by Reggie Oliver
March 27, 2014 | 12:29 pm

Reggie Oliver is proving to be one of the most prolific, as well as most consistent, of modern British dark fiction and horror writers. His latest collection from Tartarus Press, Flowers of the Sea, includes thirteen stories and two novellas, many "originally written for inclusion in specific anthologies and ... therefore, to a certain extent, composed to a brief," but this needs little apology. As the author says, "none of them, however, was 'manufactured' ... cobbled together out of sheer ingenuity and the desire to please an editor." If anything, they show more sustained quality and variety than much of his...

Review: Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner
February 28, 2014 | 6:58 pm

coverIf you type the words into Google, you’ll find that random story generator sites are everywhere on the Internet. It seems like people have discovered the randomness of computers can help them shuffle up a bunch of basic archetypes and come up with a plot outline they can write to. But there’s a set of random story generation tools out there that pre-date the Internet by most of a century—and while not as old as some people claim they are, they’re nonetheless old enough, and well-used enough, that they can make a great tool in any writer’s toolbox. I’m...

Review: French Reader Series by Yves Thibault
January 30, 2014 | 2:25 pm

french reader seriesI found a great little series on the Kindle store that I think will really help me in my quest to read more French this year. I consider myself a high intermediate in reading (my spoken French is much more fluent) and while I can muddle through with a real book competently if somewhat slowly, I think my ability to improve via lessons has peaked. At this point, I will only improve via practice, practice practice! Enter this great little series. Each book features three short stories written in modern, colloquial French. The stories are chunked so that English translations are...

Book Review: Shadow Campus by Kathleen Kelley Reardon
January 27, 2014 | 4:43 pm

Shadow CampusI was fortunate to receive a review copy of [easyazon-link asin="B00EBZACUS" locale="us"]Shadow Campus[/easyazon-link] by Kathleen Kelley Reardon. It's a mystery/thriller that takes place on California university campus. The location is important because much of the book revolves around university politics and everything rings true. It's obvious Reardon has been a professor, and many of the incidents sound like situations she's either seen or heard about. The basic plot is that the main character, Shamus Doherty, is called from Connecticut to California because his sister, a professor at the university, has been in an accident. When he arrives, he learns that the "accident" was actually...

Review: Summer is my Favorite Season by Ilir Berisha
January 20, 2014 | 10:32 am

Ilir Berisha might say he was one of the lucky ones. He got out of Kosova alive while living there during the war, and got to tell his story. Berisha’s book “Summer Is My Favorite Season: A Memoir of Childhood and War in Kosovo ” paints a true story of a young boy who witnesses some of the worst the world has to offer. His parents are frustrated and frightened. They don’t know where they are going to get their next meal or when the electricity will return or if they will ever get running water again. His father has to work...

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
December 31, 2013 | 1:25 pm

the way of kings by brandon sandersonI have time to get in one more book review before the end of the year, and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is a good one to end on. Sanderson is an excellent epic fantasy author, and he proves it again in this book. Note that this is not a new book. It was published back in August of 2010, and, although I bought a copythen, I didn't get around to reading it until this month. Why? The reviews I read indicated that not much happened in the book and that it was mostly a set up for the...

Book Review: In the Forest of Forgetting
December 23, 2013 | 10:40 am

In the Forest of ForgettingWorld Fantasy and Rhysling Award-winning Hungarian-born American writer Theodora Goss has fast established herself as one of the frontier dwellers in the border country between different traditions and genres.  As Terri Windling writes in the introduction, "She is a master at evoking liminal spaces, those mysterious places and moments that lie 'in between'." These days, while teaching and writing in the U.S., she makes regular trips back to her original native country.This generous selection of 16 stories dates from 2002 to 2005, compiling the tales that first put her on the literary scene. The collection first appeared in paper in 2006, but...

Review: Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution
December 22, 2013 | 11:11 am

coverI finished reading Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, which I mentioned in my post yesterday. I quite enjoyed it. Even though I read the news reports of the events it describes as they happened, you don’t get the big picture until you read a book like this, that looks back and puts everything together in the proper context. The book covers the development of the iPhone and Android phones, touches on the iPad and what it meant, goes over the Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuit, and then wraps up...

Book Review: House of Small Shadows
December 19, 2013 | 4:18 pm

On the jacket of House of Small Shadows, Adam Nevill is described as "Britain's answer to Stephen King." I'm happy to say that, if this is an answer, it's a very distinctive and locally accented one that is anything but pastiche King. Rather, Nevill's very personal style is more what you would expect from a British ghost and horror story writer in the tradition of M.R. James and Arthur Machen - updated to the era of The Ring and body horror. It's that unsettling. Briefly, late-thirtysomething provincial antiques valuer Catherine Howard sets out in quest of a fabulous collection of animal...

Book review: The Hat-Stand Union, Caroline Bird, Carcanet Press Ltd
October 24, 2013 | 6:57 pm

caroline birdBefore reading this review, please note that Caroline Bird: "won a major Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2001. Her first collection, Looking Through Letterboxes, was published in 2002 (when she was just fifteen). She was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2008 and 2010 for her second and third collections." And "she was one of the five official poets for the London 2012 Olympics." Plus, "she is also a playwright. In February 2012 her children’s musical The Trial of Dennis the Menace was premiered at the Southbank Centre, and in...

Book review: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
October 23, 2013 | 10:03 am

jeff bezosThe narrative has been there for years – Amazon is a big, evil corporation that will do anything to get what it wants. Part of that is true, especially after reading The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. Amazon didn’t become a successful business by being nice and allowing other companies to get in line in front of them. No, it was ruthless and confrontational. Yet, point of view matters when it comes to Amazon. If you are a competitor, then Amazon is not your friend. Partners have had it hard with the Seattle-based company as it looks...