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text 2017-07-13 18:43
Readercon updates
Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
Raven Stratagem - Yoon Ha Lee
Wings of Fire Book Four: The Dark Secret - Tui T. Sutherland
Grave Matters: A Night Owls Novel - Lauren M. Roy

I'm going to lounge a little before going to Quincy.   Eat.   Relax.   Shower.   Nap.   Gather books I want signed. 

 

I have to say this is just annoying me though.   Look what conflicts with the Okarafor signing!

 

 

Whyyyyy?

 

Of course, I think I can view it online eventually.   Because I'm going to that signing.  I might be able to sneak in mid-talk, but, damn it.   Damn it all.   

 

I did sneak in four more book purchases after seeing that Yoon Ha Lee and Tui Sutherland were going to be there.  I knew about Lauren Roy but was shy of spending more money before Readercon, but since I was determined to buy a new copy of Tongues of Serpants - I can't find my read copy, blargh - I ended up splurging on this, too.   You only live once and this and Inhumans are my last hurrahs before I bury myself in grad school!

 

PS: I don't want to annoy myself.  Unlikely I'll read or talk about SE until Readercon finishes, maybe a week or so after that, too. 

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review 2017-03-14 22:24
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris

This is my first exposure to David Sedaris' writing, and I doubt it'll be my last, but this is also the first time I've ever dinged a rating for content.

 

The writing is incredibly good and hysterically funny.  I listened to the audio and Sedaris does his own narration - as he should, because I don't think anyone else could have pulled it off half as well.

 

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls is a collection of essays, mostly biographical with embellishments for comic effect.  They were all good, but even when they were laugh out loud hysterical, they were also oftentimes gritty and confronting.  There is not a topic he doesn't address upfront and without relying on innuendo.

 

I don't typically have a hard time with that; but what I do rebel against is animals being hurt or killed and/or casual references made to it in my reading.  And while Sedaris doesn't hate animals, (in the first essay he professes to be an animal lover) he is very casual about animal death and cruelty.  One particular reminiscence about capturing sea turtles I just had to skip past completely.  

 

Everything else was pretty flawless; at the end, he reads a small collection of short fictional narratives he created for use in forensics competitions (= fancy name for 'debate team').  These were very gritty, very angry, and difficult to listen to, although they were really good.  Hypocrisy was a strong theme running through these.

 

So while I enjoyed all his essays about traveling, life abroad, growing up, etc., I was not at all comfortable with the casual, easy way he had with telling stories involving bad ends for the animals.  There was a distinct lack of compassion or regret in these essays and their casual matter-of-factness made me uncomfortable about the author as a person.  So I dinged my rating by a star.

 

If you have a thicker skin than I do (admittedly, this is most people), and enjoy edgier humour, definitely give this a look if you haven't already.   

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review 2017-01-28 16:25
You Won't Actually Learn About Diabetes
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris

 

 

The audiobook is narrated hilariously by the author.  Warning:  if you listen to this out in public, walking around or running, you WILL laugh out loud and seem quite crazy.  But it's well worth the risk.

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text 2017-01-25 12:16
7 Great Short Fiction Collections
Strange Wine - Harlan Ellison
The Shawshank Redemption - Stephen King
Tales from Nightside - Charles L. Grant
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders - Neil Gaiman
Night Music: Nocturnes Volume Two - John Connolly
Owls Hoot in the Daytime & Other Omens: Selected Stories of Manly Wade Wellman (Volume 5) - Manly Wade Wellman
20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden

I am a big short fiction reader, and have always been. I love being able to hop in, geta full experience, and move on in a single sitting. Or take a long, hot bath and read an entire novella. That kind of thing.

These are all single author collections, as opposed to multi-author anthologies. I prefer collections, in general, because, while they may vary wildly in terms of content and quality, they tend to be more cohesive, less jarring. Not to say there aren't some amazing anthos (this is what foreshadowing looks like)...

You'll also notice that these are mostly horror. I feel horror is often best at shorter lengths, giving short, sharp shocks before disbelief can set in. Novellas please me because you have just enough space to flesh out a few characters and give your story depth, but not enough to wander too far off  course.

Anyway, a few faves...

 

1. Strange Wine - Harlan Ellison  Strange Wine - Harlan Ellison  

 

    My first Ellison, recommended by Stephen King in Danse Macabre. Contains some of his best, weirdest works, but any Ellison is worth picking up. Still, this has a story about a nice Jewish boy whose dead mom is still trying to run his life. For his own good, of course. How can you resist?

 

2. Different Seasons - Stephen King  Different Seasons - Stephen King  

 

    Four novellas, all amazing. Yes, my favorite is "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption," but"The Breathing Method" is a close second. I love club stories, and this is one of King's rare forays into that sub-genre. 

This is, to my  mind, King's most consistent collection. All of the others have at least one dud. Not this one. There's a reason three of these four tales have been made into great movies.

 

3. Tales from Nightside - Charles L. Grant  Tales from Nightside - Charles L. Grant  

 

    Another one highly recommended by King (he wrote the intro), and another that introduced me to one of my favorite authors. One  of the masters of "quiet horror," Grant wasn't much one for gore, preferring to imply some truly terrifying things. Dark and disturbing, with a few weird turns here and there.

 

4. Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders - Neil Gaiman  Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders - Neil Gaiman  

 

    I love almost everything I've read of Gaiman's, but this is my favorite of his collections. Not much more to say about it, really, it's just great.

 

5. Night Music: Nocturnes Volume Two - John Connolly  Night Music: Nocturnes Volume Two - John Connolly  

 

    Read this last year, and loved it. Everything from literary fantasy to Ligotti-esque horror to true-life hauntings, all in one beautifully written package. Still need to read more Connolly.

 

6. Owls Hoot in the Daytime & Other Omens: Selected Stories of Manly Wade Wellman (Volume 5) - Manly Wade Wellman  Owls Hoot in the Daytime & Other Omens: Selected Stories of Manly Wade Wellman (Volume 5) - Manly Wade Wellman  

 

    All of the Silver John stories in one place. One of my favorite series characters, John is an itinerant balladeer who confronts various bizarre happenings during his wanderings through Appalachia. There's nothing quite like this out there.

 

7. 20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden  20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden  

 

    If this only had the title story and "Pop Art," it would still make the list, but there's so much more, too. Those two are sweet and sad, but the rest gets pretty damn dark while still keeping a bit of wonder.

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review 2017-01-02 17:20
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls ★★★☆☆
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris

Although I’ve loved his other books, this collection of essays just didn’t seem as entertaining. Audiobook via Audible. Read by the author, who as usual provides an excellent performance.

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