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review 2017-11-14 22:58
Okay that was good
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle

I am not a huge Lovecraft fan. I'm not a Lovecraft fan at all. I understand why he is a touchstone and all that, but yeah, he's not for me. So outside of the two characters, there are probably some Lovecraft references I missed.

This is a fine book about racism, society, and what society makes people become. LaValle gets so many points for the wonderful story arc that kicks Hollywood stories to the curb. 

Overall the writing is beautiful (though the kindle edition has at least two run-ons that jarred). This novella is a brillant work of criticism and homage to Lovecraft as well as indictment of USA past and present.

And it is a story about music too.

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review 2017-11-07 18:40
Tail & Trouble by Victor Catano
Tail and Trouble - Victor M. Catano

This was a disappointing read. It started off with a with a reasonably neat concept, with the main character searching for his witch girlfriend with the help of her bulldog and familiar, Orson. It started off okay for the most part and it was fine other than heaping too many daily details onto the narrative. But then we get to the bad guy of the story and we discover that his hanging out with a teenager didn't set every single one of the teenager's mother's warning signs off and she was apparently happy that he seemed to be hanging out with friends. <.<


Things started going downhill from there and I just got more and more tired of it. The dog was cute but the main character was tiresome, and the solution to where the girlfriend was all this time was just kind of lame. The magic system and the girlfriend's specialness were yawn-worthy.


Oh well. This was one of the books I had tentatively earmarked for the Halloween Bingo before deciding on another book for the witches square, so I'm glad I was able to get it out of the way. As it is I'm using it for the 16 Festive Tasks Square #1 Calan Gaeaf book task, "Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, especially if it features witches or witchcraft."

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review 2017-10-16 06:59
The Ballad of Black Tom; Or, Red Hook Reimagined
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle

LaValle's re-imagining of Lovecraft brings race to the forefront, and the results are disturbing and sadly quite timely. The world Tom Tester walks through, and the trials he faces, were painful to behold. Ultimately I was far more invested in Tester's story than any of the Lovecraftian horror elements of the story, though those were well written. I cared about this man and what happened to him. My biggest hurdle came when the POV shifted halfway through - I had a hard time investing in Malone and just wanted to return to Tester's story. Bottom line: If you like Lovecraftian horror, but find the treatment of race in his works unacceptable, you should absolutely pick this novella up. It's a great update to an old and problematic story, and a solid addition to the genre.

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review 2017-10-09 15:54
The Changeling by Victor Lavalle
The Changeling - Victor LaValle

So lately I have been trying this thing where I judge books by their covers. When I enter my favorite library, I immediately make my way towards the new releases shelf. I'm trying to read outside my bubble. So far my experiment has had some mixed results. This novel was much more successful than the previous novel.


I'm not going to lie, when I found out there were horror elements to this novel, I nearly brought it back. I don't do scary. I don't read Stephen King novels. I don't watch movies about dolls that come to life. I could barely handle the Goosebump books when I was a kid.The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my all time favorite movies but sometimes I close my eyes when Oogie Boogie is trying to murder Santa.  I don't do scary. 


I stuck with this book. Even after Emma does something completely unforgivable and appalling. Something that should have given me nightmares for years. I stuck with this book. It was worth it. 


Even more amazing than the author's ability to weave modern and myth together, was his ability to subtly sneak in his views on society today. Instead of throwing his views in the reader's face and demanding that the reader accept them, he managed to sneak in shots here and there. It was brilliantly done.


If you are looking for a modern day take on old myths that doesn't include Percy Jackson saving the day, I would recommend this book. For those of you participating in Halloween Bingo, I think this book is worth a glance. Even if you aren't participating and you want something to fit the season, this book might just be it for you.


Has this book encouraged me to broaden my horror horizons? Nope. Not even a little bit. Am I glad I tried something new just this one time? Absolutely. 

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text 2017-09-27 05:37
Reading progress update: I've read 59 out of 360 pages.
Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art (Working Class in American History) - Robert W. Cherny

So far this is proving an interesting read. Arnautoff led a fascinating early life, though Cherny really seems to get comfortable in describing it only after his subject arrives in San Francisco.

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