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review 2017-03-06 15:36
The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett
The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett

 

The genre of fiction that I identify as weird tales has always appealed to me, though it's hard to describe. There are also...flavors of weird tales, they're not always the same, even though they may belong to the same genre. For instance, Thomas Ligotti may be described as an author of weird fiction. While I love his style, I often find his work too nihilistic for me. Laird Barron could be described as an author of weird fiction as well, though his style generally leans toward cosmic horror. Lastly, Robert Aickman is admired as an author of weird fiction, but I often find his stories to be rather...unsatisfying. Jon Padgett, however, satisfied ALL of my wants and needs as a reader of dark and weird fiction. These stories have a clear beginning and end, (though some continue on, in other stories), and are as utterly satisfying as short fiction can be. In fact, I'd call them brilliant. That's right. BRILLIANT!

 

Starting with the appealing cover, (what horror fan could resist it?), and ending with Little Evie singing, in the story "Escape to the Mountain," (which makes me shudder just thinking about it.) These amazing stories are beyond impressive, each and every one of them.

 

After "Origami Dreams" I will never look at folded paper in the same way again. I will never see the word "appendage" again and not think of Solomon Kroth and his endless research in the University Library. I will not pass the abandoned paper mills in nearby towns without thinking of those ugly "paper mill days" and the filth they spewed upon the town of Dunnstown. I will never again pass a swamp without thinking of the room in "Indoor Swamp":

 

"Perhaps there is a room that contains a worn vintage tea party set with frilly dressed dolls, but one of those doll's heads gradually rotates completely around, going from an expression of knowing, smiling perversion to an open-mouthed, silent O of horror and back again."

 

I cannot possibly give this book a higher recommendation. As you read it, you may feel dizzy at times, or maybe even a little sick.

 

"You may begin to imagine you hear something that sounds like static or even the roar of an airliner. you may feel lightheaded like you are going to pass out. Ignore these feelings. They are normal."

 

They are a trifle. YOU are a trifle.

 

If you want to fully understand the meanings of these things, you MUST read this book. For me it started with the cover. It was the cover that made me BUY this book, rather than accept the free copy submitted for review to Horror After Dark. That's right, I bought it. You should too. Seriously. Right. Now.

 

Go here: The Secret of Ventriloquism

(You can add the audio for only $1.99 more!)

 

Usually this is where I say I was provided a free copy in exchange for honest feedback. However, (see above), I bought this book, and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2016-09-25 19:50
Bats by William Johnstone
Bats - William W. Johnstone

Bats is a re-release:it originally flew free back in the 90's and that's one of my favorite periods for the horror genre, so I requested it from Net Galley right away. I'm sad to report that I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

 

You can probably guess from the title that this is a creature feature, so you know going in that's it's most likely not going to be a literary classic. (Which was fine with me, sometimes that's exactly what I want.) However, I do expect the writing to be of a certain quality, and I'm not talking Cormac McCarthy level here, but I wouldn't think that a James Herbert level would be unrealistic. Unfortunately, I don't think the Herbert level was reached here.

 

That aside, the story itself was a lot of fun. Most especially because these weren't just normal bats, they were mutants. Incredibly large with huge fangs, they were also capable of immense intelligence. That's all I can say, because this is where all the fun of the book is and you should read it for yourself. One thing that bothered me in the narrative itself, was the repetitiveness of "stupid people deserve what they get" mantra. Alright, we get it, they're too stupid too live. Move on.

 

Overall, Bats did deliver on the FUN its cover promised, but the writing itself and repetitive nature of a few viewpoints soured me on the book as a whole.

 

*Thanks to Kensington/Lyrical Underground and Net Galley for the free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review! This is it.*

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review 2016-02-22 10:03
Are We Screwed?
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate - KLEIN NAOMI

As I was reading the first part of this book, trawling through countless numbers of examples of how the fossil fuel industry is raping and pillaging our Earth, how our political leaders are in their pockets, and how were are constantly being bombarded with propaganda as to how climate change is really nothing to worry about while the true effects are being hidden behind beautiful pictures much like the slums of Dehli where during the Commonwealth Games, I simply couldn't help thinking about how we as a species are heading down a path that not only will end up destroying the planet, but also destroying that which we hold dear while ceding ever more power to the aristocrats that currently rule the planet. I guess a part of me was used to what I had read in Klein's two previous books No Logo and The Shock Doctrine where she basically tells us how bad things are yet offers no solutions that I expected that this book, with the enormity of the crisis that we are facing, would once again end with a completely hopeless note.

 

However this is not the case, particularly since we are talking about our future here. Simply by taking the strategy that Klein used previously would result in us giving up and basically eating and drinking because we might as well have fun now if the climate change is going to have such an impact upon our world that everything that we have managed to build for ourself is inevitably going to be destroyed. Instead Klein actually ends on a message of hope, dedicating half of the book to revealing how former enemies have united against a common foe and how mass movements are developing to push back against the corporate interests that currently dominate our thinking.

 

Mind you, there is still a pervasive belief amongst society that climate change first of all is somebody else's problem, or that it is rubbish (such as my uncle's statement that 'Climate Change is crap' without actually providing me with any evidence to support that view). The scary thing is not so much the climate change deniers but rather those who are basically apathetic towards the situation, those who accept that something must be done, but leave it to somebody else to solve the problem, or even believe the corporate propaganda that suggests that they are doing something, but not demanding any proof that anything is being done.

 

Personally I have encountered numerous climate change deniers in my time that simply make the statement 'climate change is crap' with the belief that that simple statement invalidates any argument that I might raise to the contrary. Mind you these people tend to resort to logical fallacies to support their arguments, or even just raise their voices to drown out any opposition simply because they are incapable of mounting any rational argument to the contrary. However when I confront such people I try to steer away from climate change per se and put the argument in perspective by point out the real costs of our out of control industrialised society such as the destruction of the natural environment:

 

Mountain Top Removal

 

 

the fact that in many places around the world our air is becoming toxic:

 

Air Polluttion

 

 

while our water systems are becoming undrinkable:

 

Polluted River

 

 

It was interesting to note that as I perused the responses to this book that there where quite a few positive reactions from readers, and one who had slammed it as another part of the left wing conspiracy to take his money and his freedom (which attracted a lot of harsh criticism). At first it seemed like Goodreads is full of people who actually care about the environment and desire to see a better world that isn't ruled by corporate interests, however I then realised that this is social media, and that when I jumped over to [book:Atlas Shrugged] I discovered that there was just as many positive responses to that book. The thing with social media is that you can pretty much filter out anything that you don't like so that the only things that you see are those that reinforce your worldview.

 

I still remember when I first became aware of the crisis that our modern uncontrolled capitalist society is creating. A friend of mine handed me a little booklet about the World Trade Organisation and suddenly my right wing individualist worldview was changed forever. Yet I have to admit that despite the fact that I don't own a car, and don't live a life where I am endlessly consuming, I know I could do much better. The reason I don't own a car has more to do with the fact that it is cheaper to use public transport (and the public transport in Melbourne is pretty good), and while I may not cycle through commodities as fast as humanly possible (while cluttering my house with useless stuff, though I am probably going to need to get a new phone since my current one is now over three years old and basically reaching the end of its life span), I still buy tea in takeaway containers (and maybe a coffee) and shop at the major supermarkets.

 

Yet I also see some positives happening as well. Okay, while people are putting ever more solar panels on the roof, when the current Liberal (conservative) government was elected they began to systematically cripple the renewable energy industry in favour of their mates in the coal industry. However while the fossil fuel industry was enjoying bumper profits for the past twenty odd years everything changed suddenly as the price of oil and iron ore completely collapsed. All of a suddenly it isn't profitable to look for new sources of oil, yet the companies that are on the verge of bankruptcy are forced to continue pumping as they simply cannot afford to shut down any wells, which is further exacerbating the collapse. This suddenly changes the picture as cost intensive extraction methods become less appealing, but untapped reserves are suddenly left in the ground (which means that some oil baron is unlikely to come along and start fraking your backyard). Mind you, everything that I said is probably invalid because I do own shares in a gold mine and an energy company (though the energy company did purchase some windfarms so they could say “hey, look at us, we care about the environment, we own a wind farm!”).

 

Anyway I think I will leave it at this, however if you are interested in reading more I have written a post on the subject on my blog.

Source: ://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1541975820
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review 2014-11-25 18:44
The Curse of the Wise Woman by Lord Dunsany
The Curse Of The Wise Woman - Lord Dunsany

I wouldn't exactly call this book horror. It doesn't neatly fit into any category other than environmentalism. I liked it anyway!

 

A teenager whose father goes on the run, (From the mafia? From politicians?) becomes the manager of his family's estates. Finding himself in charge, he soon indulges in his favorite pastime of hunting. As the tale progresses, his hunting grounds become the target of Progress. Will his friend's mother be able to hold it off? She is known as a "Wise Woman", (read: Witch) after all, and she vows to stop it.

 

Who knew that environmentalism was a thing in the 30's? I'm not sure it was a thing, other than the observations, often witty, made in this story.

 

Quote: "How would some townsman feel who loved his city, and knew that a band of farmers with their ploughs threatened his very pavements and would tear his high buildings down? As he would feel, fearing that turnips would thrive where his busses ran, so I felt and feared for Lisronagh."

 

These observations brought this story alive for me. In spite of the fact that I do not care for hunting, there are several hunt scenes in this book that did not bother me. (In fact the fox hunt was kind of exciting!) Probably because the animals hunted were valued and utilized, not just tossed aside when the hunt was over.

 

What prevents me from showing all the love for this story, was the wordiness of it. I'm not the kind of reader that loves page after page of descriptive passages about scenery. There is a bit of that here, but it's not as involved as some gothic novels I've read- The Mysteries of Udolpho, for instance. I feel like I have to mention this, because it may interfere with other reader's enjoyment of the story.

 

Overall, this book turned out nothing like I expected. Will our young hero and his friend's mother be able to do anything to stop Progress?

 

Quote: "No teaching could make me care for these strangers as I loved this wild land, and all the grief of which a boy is capable was darkening now round my heart, when I thought of the bog about to be partly spoiled and partly to be cut altogether away."

 

You will have to read this book to find out.

 

Recommended for fans of gothic novels!

 

I received a free copy of this book from Valancourt Books, in exchange for an honest review. This is it!

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review 2013-10-11 10:57
The nobility in a time of transition
Uncle Vanya - Anton Chekhov

This is the last of the four Chekov plays that was in the book that I picked up in a second hand bookshop in Adelaide. The main reason that I grabbed the book was because I had never read anything by Chekov before, and also it was one of those nice hardcover editions (though I suspect that it is actually a part of a much larger collection of world literature, like the ones that are advertised in television in one of those ridiculously long infomercials, and they always cry out 'wait there's more' and then sign you up for something you are likely to regret in the future – at least this is literature, and the book looks nice, so <i>I</i> wouldn't necessarily regret it – though I do prefer my books to be eclectic in character rather than a part of an identical set).

As I have mentioned in the other Chekov plays I have commented on, this is basically a modernist play which once again sticks with a similar theme: the changing nature of Russia at the end of the 19th century. Modernism, as I can see, is a movement away from the stories of the past where you dealt with kings and princes, and towards the ordinary in life. In this place Chekov actually explores how the nobility are being thrust into the ordinary of life, and the struggles that they face in the process.

The issue that is raised here is that in the past society was very much separated by class, and the nature of class meant that there was no real vertical movement. However the modern world was bringing about a lot of changes in that regards, in that the ordinary people were becoming wealthier, and the nobility were becoming poorer. In Russia, a pretty backwards country by the standards of the rest of Europe, there was still a lot of resistance to this change, but the change was coming about nonetheless.

Modernism, thus, is a movement away from the epic poetry of the past, and from the romantic poetry and prose of the early nineteenth century. The high ideas of love and destiny were no longer the mainstay of society, as a rising intellectual class began to have access to literature that the ordinary people of the past did not. This period also saw the beginnings of the pulp novels, which picked up on the idea of the adventurous kings and princes, though in many cases the pulp novels also dealt with ordinary people, but gave them the opportunity to be able to rise above their class.

The other thing about this play that I have noticed is that there are a number of discussions regarding environmentalism. It seems that the idea of the environment was a concern back then, though I suspect it had a lot more to do with the idea of the beauty of nature rather than today where we are dealing with concepts ranging from poisoning the Earth to changes in the climate. There are discussions about clear cutting forests, but it seems that the characters in this play are more concerned with the natural beauty of the forest rather than any scientific concepts such as erosion. We see similar things in Charles Dickens, where he describes the mid-north of England being an industrial wasteland, though I suspect that this has changed a lot since his days.

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/738201624
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