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Posts tagged book review

Book review: Conjure House, by Gary Fry, DarkFuse
June 17, 2014 | 4:25 pm

conjure house coverI have a problem with books like Conjure House - which is a pity, because it means I'm blind to some of its outstanding merits. I have a problem with Family In Danger narratives in horror. Or with Childhood Friends Reunited stories. I have a problem with books that take the Yorkshire landscape as a setting without fully evoking its bleak Wuthering Heights magnificence. I have a problem with Chapters That End With Single Standalone Significant Sentences. Like This. That said, there is a lot to like here, as well as to be very scared of. Gary Fry seems to be working...

Techno-thriller about Taiwan, China was 10 years in the making
June 16, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Dragon Storm coverFor T.J. McFadden, writing the military thriller [easyazon-link asin="B00ITUEKYA" locale="us"]Dragon Storm[/easyazon-link]-- about a potential war between China and Taiwan -- was a labor of love and part of a ten-year learning process. A recent thumbs-up review in a newspaper in Taiwan has given the Ohio author a feeling of success, even if sales are still slow. To write the Kindle ebook, McFaddeen was able to use many of the things and terms he learned in serving as a military journalist in the U.S. navy, he told this reporter in a recent email. ''I was a journalist assigned to the USS Ashland," he...

Book review: The New Black, edited by Richard Thomas, Dark House Press
June 7, 2014 | 10:18 am

The New Black from leading indie publisher Dark House Press brings together 20 tales in the burgeoning genre of neo-noir, characterized by Dark House's materials as "a mixture of horror, crime, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, the transgressive, and the grotesque all with a literary bent." That definitely, and accurately, describes the contents of the anthology, and Richard Thomas' s extremely detailed introduction goes about as far as anyone reasonably can in summarizing the genre's essential qualities and leading practitioners. It also comes with an evocative foreword, "Eye of the Raven," from Laird Barron, who could easily wear the neo-noir...

Book Review: Every Short Story 1951-2012, Alasdair Gray, Canongate Books
May 25, 2014 | 2:00 pm

With the near-destruction of the renowned Glasgow School of Art building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it's a good time to celebrate one of its most famous alumni: Alasdair Gray, artist, author, polemical Scottish nationalist, and dyed-in-the-wool Glaswegian. He started writing in the late 1950s, although he only began seriously publishing in the 1980s, with his landmark novel Lanark appearing in 1981. And Every Short Story 1951-2012 collates every published story in his five published collections: Unlikely Stories, Mostly (1984), Lean Tales (1985), Glaswegians (1990), Ten Tales Tall and True, (1993), and The Ends of Our Tethers: 13 Sorry Stories (2005). The Endnotes,...

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...

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: 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...

Ragnarok by Brian James: A Book Review
December 10, 2013 | 2:06 pm

ragnarok by brian jamesWhile not being immersed in Norse mythology since middle school, I’ve found myself surrounded by it lately between a number of different books and movies. In a matter of a few months, I’ve read or seen several different versions of Thor, Loki, Odin and the Norse fringe characters. The latest was in [easyazon-link asin="B00AEDPNFA" locale="us"]Ragnarok: Book 1: The Hammer[/easyazon-link] by Brian James where the gods have been thrown out of Asgard and have made lives for themselves on Earth. There is a fight to control Thor’s hammer with nearly a dozen characters appearing throughout the first book. The story is enticing with a...

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...