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Posts tagged book review

Book review: After the People Lights Have Gone Off, by Stephen Graham Jones, Dark House Press
June 6, 2015 | 2:03 pm

After People Lights Have GoneThis collection by Stephen Graham Jones has been cropping up on slate after slate for this year's awards, with Best Collection nominations in the Bram Stoker Awards and Shirley Jackson Awards, and a win as Best Collection from This Is Horror. After the People Lights Have Gone Off comprises 15 very diverse stories, quite a few of which will already be familiar from other highly regarded anthologies. Dark House Press have done their usual sterling job with excellent production values, including some superb chapter heading illustrations by Luke Spooner. Which is quite something for a collection where you'd hesitate to describe some stories...

Book review: The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross, Little, Brown
May 26, 2015 | 7:42 am

contentSuccessors to the Lovecraftian legacy are many and variable, but Charles Stross's Laundry Files cycle is among the most distinguished. Scientific rigour combined with bleak pessimism would surely appeal to HPL himself, especially when seasoned with the same genre spice as Weird Tales days - updated to espionage potboilers and Tom Clancy. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, though, because Stross manages to play off the grubbiness of a UK civil service department (the dirty-linen-festooned Laundry) against the grim horror of its raison d'etre and the Kafkaesque irony of bureaucracies stacking card indices against annihilation, in a way...

Book review: A Mirror of Shalott, by R.H. Benson, Archive.org
April 21, 2015 | 2:25 pm

English Catholic priest and author Robert Hugh Benson was one of the more eccentric and gifted scions of the family that also produced E.F. Benson (of ghost story and Mapp and Lucia fame) and A.C. Benson (author of "Land of Hope and Glory"). Son of an Archbishop of Canterbury, he left the Anglican priesthood to become a Catholic in 1903, and was appointed a supernumerary private chamberlain to the Pope in 1911. A prolific author, he published numerous novels and devotional works after his conversion, including the early dystopian science fiction/horror novel Lord of the World. He also produced ghost...

Book review: The Lost Stradivarius, by John Meade Falkner
April 11, 2015 | 12:25 pm

This is a review of quite an old title, in fact one dating from 1895 and freely available on Project Gutenberg. But The Lost Stradivarius, by John Meade Falkner, has been described as the novel that M.R. James never wrote, and as an ardent Jamesian, I'm naturally going to want to read such a work. Perhaps I wasn't as impressed as I hoped to be from such a description, but I was sufficiently diverted. The Lost Stradivarius, for one thing, shares the same collegiate setting that James loved, unfolding much of its action in Magdalen Hall College, Oxford, where the possessed...

Should authors respond to positive reviews?
April 7, 2015 | 10:25 am

reading There have been plenty of stories over the years of authors who have gone a bit off the deep end when reacting to negative reviews. However, what should authors do when a good review comes along? Some have thanked the reviewer for their opinion, while others say nothing. Being thankful or silence. Personally, I enjoy when an author leaves a comment on one of my reviews. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way, especially if the remarks don’t feel spammy. Rather, the author seemed to appreciate that you took the time to read their book and write a review for...

Review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
April 1, 2015 | 2:10 pm

So You've Been Publicly ShamedI have just read a fantastic book that I think should be required reading in all journalism---indeed, in all high school media---courses. I devoured [easyazon-link asin="1594487138" locale="us"]So You've Been Publicly Shamed[/easyazon-link] by Jon Ronson in about two days, and have so many thoughts swirling in my head that I think I'll need at least another week or two to process it. The book came my way at an opportune time---following Monica Lewinsky's surprisingly sympathetic Vanity Fair piece awhile back. She got herself a TED talk which has been making the rounds on the blogosphere this week. It seems she is reinventing herself...

Review: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
March 25, 2015 | 12:25 pm

zero waste home'The Zero-Waste Home' by Bea Johnson was one of my more thought-provoking March break reads. It was a little more dry than I had thought it would be---I knew this lady had a blog, so I was expecting more of a memoir-ish feel, and this was pretty much straight-up information. But there were several aspects of it which interested me so I perservered. This might seem like an odd title to review on a blog like this. What does reducing your household garbage have to do with reading books? Well, I have long thought that the digital revolution has played an...

Review: The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde
March 3, 2015 | 12:25 pm

the sketchnote handbookI wrote earlier about discovering the art form of Zentangle, and while I have been enjoying making the little designs, I had no clear idea what to do with them. Well, I have finally found the book that's made it all click for me---[easyazon-link asin="0321857895" locale="us"]The Sketchnote Handbook[/easyazon-link] by Mike Rohde. 'Sketchnote' is the name Rohde gives to visual note-taking. In the first book, he applies this to notes taken during a live or real-time lecture or presentation. A follow-up book applies technique to other uses. The benefit of visual note-taking (using illustrations, sketches, icons and doodles to enhance your written text)...

Book Review: Sand of Bone by Blair MacGregor
February 25, 2015 | 12:25 pm

sand of boneI purchased this book as part of the recent Indie Fantasy Story Bundle (now complete). Having been disappointed with the first two books I tried from the bundle, I was starting to think I'd wasted my money with this one. Then I started [easyazon-link asin="B00MRCCG9M" locale="us"]Sand of Bone[/easyazon-link] and knew that this book alone was worth the price of admission. I mean, just start with that cover. And feel free to judge this one by the cover. The inside is just as impressive. For those who still believe that indie books are rife with typos and bad writing, let me assure you...

Review: Steampunk LEGO by Guy Himber
February 23, 2015 | 10:25 am

steampunk legoI got a package in the mail this week---a gorgeous hardcover book from No Starch Press! When I wrote earlier about this publisher, I mentioned that one of the things which intrigued me about them was their print-plus-eBook bundles. They graciously agreed to let me try one out, and while I was able to download the PDF copy of [easyazon-link asin="1593275285" locale="us"]Steampunk LEGO[/easyazon-link] right away, I wanted to wait to write the review until I had the paper copy for comparison. Well...it's here! And is a beautiful book. Even the Beloved, who is not particularly a book fan in either format, remarked...

Book review: How the Scots Invented the Modern World, by Arthur Herman, Broadway Books
February 11, 2015 | 4:25 pm

This is a subject ever so slightly dear to my heart, and I turn to it with the same sense of modesty and proportion that the author includes in his subtitle, How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It. But he makes an extremely good supporting case for it - overstretched perhaps, but not very far. "The point of this book is that being Scottish is more than just a matter of nationality or place of origin or clan or even culture. It is also a...

Book review: The House of Oracles and Other Stories, by Thomas Owen, Tartarus Press
February 4, 2015 | 6:24 pm

One of the many areas that Yorkshire-based independent Tartarus Press does so well is translations of celebrated and lesser-known non-English authors of classic weird, strange, dark, and fantastic tales. Thomas Owen definitely fits this category. The House of Oracles and Other Stories collects a representative sample of short fiction from across the career of this Belgian master of the fantastic, a near contemporary of the better known Jean Ray and sadly neglected in Anglo-Saxon circles - at least, till now. Thomas Owen (1910-2002), real name Gérald Bertot, trained as a lawyer, and began his writing career with crime fiction, but like Jean Ray,...

Book review: The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos, by Patrick Leigh Fermor, John Murray
February 2, 2015 | 6:25 pm

Patrick Leigh Fermor's peregrinations across Western, Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe have become almost as legendary as his wartime exploits with the Greek Resistance. The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos is the long-awaited third volume of his reminiscences of his teenage walking tour from Holland to Constantinople in the 1930s. Long-awaited because after the termination of his second volume of travel reminiscences, Between the Woods and the Water, no one knew if the journey would ever reach its intended goal, and when Patrick Leigh Fermor died in 2011, mystery surrounded the condition of the notes and literary remains...

Book review: Wild Fell, by Michael Rowe, ChiZine Publications
January 27, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Latest in a long line of superb dark/weird horrific titles from ChiZine Publications, Wild Fell by Michael Rowe tells the tale of the house of the title on Ontario's Blackmore Island, site of a tragic drowning that has haunted the local town of Alvina, and of other more mysterious events deeper in the past. The book's protagonist, Jameson Browning, purchases the house partly as a refuge from his own ghosts, only to find, sure enough, that other and worse ones await him there. The novel was a finalist for the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award, and Clive Barker, no less, has declared that: "this is...

Book review: The Last Weekend, by Nick Mamatas, PS Publishing
January 22, 2015 | 6:25 pm

Not quite your everyday run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypse, you could say. Yes, it's another rigid, stiff, slow-moving essay in that genre, shambling and groaning its way into your to-read pile. And what a surprise that this sub-genre has grown so fast, proliferating like - well, a zombie plague. Okay, enough of the cheap demi-humor. And no, I didn't really mean any of those crude, brainless, groaning cracks. Nick Mamatas has written - sometimes brilliantly - in many other branches of horror and dark fiction, and this is his stab - or baseball bat bash, or scattergun blast, or drillbit whirl - at...

Book Review: Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
January 17, 2015 | 10:47 am

discoverability by Kristine Kathryn RuschThere are lots of books out there about how to market your book. Some of them are good. Some aren't. [easyazon-link asin="1561466190" locale="us"]Discoverability[/easyazon-link] is one of the best I've read, and I appreciate it because it looks at writing as a business, not as a way to game a system to make sales quickly. Since one of my day jobs is as a business coach, that appeals to me. This book started as a series of blog posts, and the posts are still available. I read them last year and was excited to see she's expanded on them and updated them for...

Review: The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley
January 16, 2015 | 4:25 pm

the smartest kids in the world[easyazon-link asin="1451654421" locale="us"]The Smartest Kids in the World[/easyazon-link] is my first almost-five-star read of the year! This engaging and well-written book follows three American teenagers who, as part of Ripley's research into the best education systems in the world, go on year-long exchanges to three of the 'top' countries. The narratives of Tom in Poland, Kim in Finland and Eric in South Korea frame Ripley's thoughts on what makes a good teacher or school, the importance (or not) of standardized testing, and what really is the most vital component of a good education. I was impressed by the breadth of research Ripley...

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