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review 2020-06-06 14:47
The Taste of Different Dimensions
The Taste of Different Dimensions: 15 Fantasy Tales from a Master Storyteller - Alan Dean Foster

by Alan Dean Foster


Most of the anthologies I've been reading in recent years have been multiple author collections on a theme, but this one is a compilation of short stories all written by a well-established Fantasy writer, Alan Dean Foster. Needless to say, the quality is consistent and of the highest caliber.


I don't know what else I can say about this one. I loved every story. The excellence easily earns the designation of Master Storyteller on the description. If you like traditional Fantasy, read this. You won't regret it. Full of brilliant ideas, great characterization and unexpected plot twists well done.

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review 2020-05-28 14:18
The Flavors of Other Worlds
The Flavors of Other Worlds: 13 Science Fiction Tales from a Master Storyteller - Alan Dean Foster

by Alan Dean Foster


Another great collection of stories from Alan Dean Foster! This one is 13 stories all well into the science fiction genre. We have aliens taking over the planet through corporate buy outs, bootleg knowledge, alien assistants, and we even get to learn how to communicate with a cuttlefish.


Foster's writing is always good and his inventive plots are way above par. This collection has a nice variety of stories that are well up to his usual standard, exploring other worlds whether they are in space or under sea.


Highly recommended for any science fiction fan.

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review 2020-05-28 01:55
Hate - Lynne Phillips,Michael Carter,Michael Davis,Terry Miller,Brian Rosenberger,David Donachie,Glenn D. Wilson,Andrew Anderson,Angela Zimmerman,Wendy Roberts,Kevin Kennedy,Peter Foote,Vonnie Winslow Crist,Tor Ulven,Terri Arnold,Jodi Jensen,Andrzej Mularczyk,R
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A fantastic exploration of hate and revenge told from a variety of perspectives. From betrayed exes and disgruntled employees to vampires and fairy tale characters not satisfied with The End.

This collection includes my drabbles, "A Giant's Revenge", "Bluebeard's Bloody Test", "Guess My Name", "Fate of an Evil Queen", and "One Night in the Lumberjack Camp".

Some of my personal favorites in this anthology were Peter Foote's "Crushed Heart", Kimberly Rei's "The Last Dance", and Maura Yzmore's "The Weave" among others. It was very difficult to narrow down. There were so many great twists, clever word plays, and wonderful descriptions.

Good variety of stories. Some were gruesome, some were humorous, some were beautiful, and some were downright twisted.

These bite-sized stories are perfect for fitting a little reading time in to a busy day and taking small journeys into the darker side of life.
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review 2020-05-22 00:13
'Watchers' by Dean Koontz - if only we'd met in the Eighties.
Watchers - Dean Koontz,Edoardo Ballerini

If I had met 'Watchers' when we were both much younger, way back in the Eighties, I think we'd have had a good time. Now, more than three decades later, we're both showing our age.


I can see the appeal 'Watchers' had when it first hit shelves but I'm distracted by the literary equivalent of Eighties hairstyles and jackets with padded shoulders. I'm also more cranky and harder to impress than I was back then, so 'Watchers' now presses my buttons, both about voyeuristic violence and paper-thin characterisations of women. Yeah, I know, grumpy old git talking.


But then there was Einstein, the genetically enhanced Golden Retriever with language skills and a brain bigger than our ex-Delta Force (why are they always ex-Delta Force?) hero. Einstein was wonderful. Einstein justified the whole book. Anyone not liking Einstein needs a personality transplant.


I know that 'Watchers' is a favourite Koontz book for many of his readers and I can see why: Einstein, a scary monster, Einstein, outwitting the NSA, Einstein, triumphing over broken pasts and building a hopeful future, Einstein, defeating bad guys who really deserve it and finding good guys who will help in adversity because of ... well, Einstein.


I tried hard to give myself up to this book and to Einstein and to the long-time-coming confrontations and I mostly made it, except for the times when I got distracted or had my buttons pressed.


At the start of the book, I was sure I was going to have fun. I was one chapter in and I'd already had one murder, one almost-encounter with a menacing something and a meeting with a very bright dog. I was hooked.


Then I started to have doubts.

There was too much relish in the descriptions of how the contract killer does his job. I felt like I was in a Jack Reacher novel only without a good guy to save the day.


I hated the subplot of the TV Repair Man turned stalker. I'm not sure if it just hasn't aged well of if Koontz doesn't write women who seem real but I'm I didn't buy Nora's internal dialogue.


That's not to say the writing was bad. I hated both the assassin and the stalker. In my youth I'd have been glad to hate them and wait for the moment when they got theirs but my older, crankier self kept going, 'This level of detail seems exploitative, don't ya think? I mean, why else is it there?'


'Watchers' is definitely of its time. A lot of the plot has an 'only in the 80s' feel: the Russians are killing people rather than buying the President, the NSA are the good guys and no one has a phone. When our hero explains computers to Nora and tells her that they make everything more fluid and that they'll make it more difficult for governments to control individuals, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. None of this is a criticism of Koontz. I just wish I read this in the Eighties when I'd have seen the same world he did.


By modern standards, the pace is leisurely but I don't think it suffers because of it The pacing reminded me of dancing the flamenco, starting with slow, stylised posturing. leading into fast, hot-blooded action.


The emotional palette in 'Watchers' is limited but effective, like a graphic novel done in black and white with splashes of red à la 'Sin City'. People are either very bad or very good and blood flows often and copiously.

Women don't feature heavily, except for Nora who starts as a broken flower and evolves into someone comfortable with using an Uzzi at close range. I didn't find her convincing in either role. I could see why she like Einstein but I was less clear on why she fell so hard and fast for our ex-Delta Force hero (did I mention I didn't like him much? I was hoping he'd make The Ultimate Sacrifice).


I recommend the audiobook version of 'Watchers'. It's a recent recording with strong narration by Edoardo Ballerini. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

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text 2020-05-19 13:45
Reading progress update: I've listened 821 out of 991 minutes. If Koontz kills the dog...
Watchers - Dean Koontz,Edoardo Ballerini

...I'll never forgive him.


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