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review 2019-01-02 18:45
A DEEP HORROR THAT WAS VERY NEARLY AWE by J.R. Hamantaschen
A Deep Horror That Was Very Nearly Awe - J.R. Hamantaschen

The work of J.R. Hamantaschen has been on my radar for years now, beginning with YOU SHALL NEVER KNOW SECURITY. A DEEP HORROR THAT WAS VERY NEARLY AWE is another short story collection from this author and this is his best yet!

 

It's easy to see how his work has matured in the depth of these tales and in the range which they cover. We have everything here from mental illness to strange, unknown things in a men's room stall, dissolved marriages and bullied teenagers.

 

Of all the stories here though, 7099 BRECKSVILLE ROAD, INDEPENDENCE, OHIO was my absolute favorite. Creepy and atmospheric, it was not what I've come to expect from this author at all. I love to be surprised, don't you?

 

I'm not going to get into each story, (there are eleven of them, total), but I will say that none of them are like the next-they're each stand alone creations. They often have strange titles, which I enjoy, for example one title was: STORY TITLE REVEALED ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH.

 

This author is quirky. I like that! I never fail to read the blurbs he has listed in the front of the book, because they're never all legit. He'll slip things in there that are funny to discover and they also make me laugh. Even the copyright page has a little bonus.

 

The only criticism I have, and it's a small one, is that a few of these stories verge on the title of novella, rather than short story. As I said, it's a small beef. That's all I got!

 

A DEEP HORROR THAT WAS VERY NEARLY AWE was dark, soul crushing, beautiful, funny and intriguing all at once. J.R. Hamantaschen always delivers-just maybe not quite in the way you expect. The variety on display here shows how diverse he can be and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: A DEEP HORROR THAT WAS VERY NEARLY AWE

 

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

 

 

**A special thanks to Goodreads for deleting all of my reading updates on this book. All my story notes *poofed* away which I did NOT find helpful.**
 
 

 

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review 2018-12-31 17:43
[REVIEW] A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings - Preeti Chhibber,Roshani Chokshi,Alyssa Wong,Aisha Saeed,Melissa de la Cruz,Sona Charaipotra,Elsie Chapman,Renee Ahdieh,Rahul Kanakia,Julie Kagawa,Shveta Thakrar,Aliette de Bodard,Cindy Gerard,Lori Foster,David G. Myers,Ellen Datlow

Probably my last book of the year. It was a very good anthology filled with folklore and mythologies (a subject that I really love) that I have not been usually exposed to but I enjoyed reading about very much. Some were better than others, some felt quite flat.

Rating for each story

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi 3.5/5
Bittersweet story. Had lovely turns of phrases. Something didn’t quite click with me though. I felt the writing, while super pretty, kept me at a distance and didn’t allow me to connect with the characters or the story.

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong 4/5
Sad ghost story, filled with melancholy and loss and also honor and respect. It made me feel things.

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee 2.5/5
I didn’t like this one mostly because I kinda guessed the twist and because the end was left up in the air. Not sure if the element of the androids helped or hindered the story the author was trying to tell.

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra 3.5/5
Creepy but good.

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette de Bodard 3.5/5
I felt lost during most of the story and had a hard time differentiating Cam and Tam until halfway through. I am glad the author retold this folktale in a way that the sisters weren’t enemies but helped each other out.

The Land of the Morning Calm by E.C. Myers 4/5
This one might be my favorite so far. It made me cry. It felt like a story, even if it was a short one. It left me feeling satisfied.

The Smile by Aisha Saeed 4.5/5
By far my favorite. It was lovely and powerful and rang true to me. This is what I expect of retelling.

Girls who Twirl and other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber 2/5
Meh. Didn’t love it. It was only ok.

Nothing into All by Renée Ahdieh 3.5/5
Well-written and very cute. 

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia 1/5
Didn’t like this one. Couldn’t relate to it at all and it was too vague and emotionless for me to care.

Code of honor by Melissa De la Cruz 2.5/5
Felt jumbled and all over the place. I didn’t hate it but I couldn’t connect with it.

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman 3/5
Man, this one made me sad. I wished it would’ve ended differently, but it is what it is.

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar 3/5
Sometimes it rushed and the characters didn’t possess enough depth. The story itself was interesting.

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon 4.5/5
I really liked this one. I loved that the author gave the weaver a decisive voice and that their tale is one of choice on both sides.

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa 5/5
I loved this one. Probably because I’m familiar with some Japanese mythology. The story was very well-written and catches you immediately, not letting you go until the end.

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review 2018-12-28 00:59
ARC Review: The Legend Of Gentleman John by T.J. Nichols
The Legend Of Gentleman John - T.J. Nichols

I seem to be in the minority with my assessment of this story. I liked it well enough, I suppose, and I was impressed with the author creating a trans (F2M) character in a historical setting. I liked the inclusion of a fantasy element with Banyn, a fae, and his backstory.

I think this book would have worked better for me if it had been a longer story. While the author created a nice timeline, there seemed to be big jumps in time, that especially in the later years of John's story would have perhaps rounded his character out a bit more. We're told of his struggles, the binding of his chest, the monthly bleeding, and the constant fears of being found out, but we're not shown much of it. The story is written with flashback scenes, while John is on the run, bleeding from a wound, and we get to see the beginning of his relationship with Banyn, the progression of their love, and how he ended up in a penal colony on an island off Australia. 

There's a melancholy undertone to the book, befitting the story, and I thought it was perhaps a bit too depressing to be a Christmas story, even if John gets his wish and his HEA. 

I also quite liked the epilogue - that was a fitting ending to this story. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-12-23 22:01
24 Festive Tasks: My Final Books (Doors 16, 17 and 19 -- Human Rights Day, St. Lucia's Day, and Festivus)
A Christmas Guest - Anne Perry,Terrence Hardiman
Skandinavische Weihnachten: Die schönsten Geschichten von Sven Nordqvist, Hans Christian Andersen, Selma Lagerlöf u.a. - Hans Christian Andersen,Selma Lagerlöf,Various Authors,Sven Nordqvist,Josef Tratnik,Dirk Bach,Jens Wawrczeck
A Woman of No Importance - Full Cast,Oscar Wilde
Model Millionaire - David Timson,Oscar Wilde


Anne Perry: A Christmas Guest

The third book in Anne Perry's series of Christmas novellas, each one of which has as their protagonist one of the supporting characters from Perry's main series (William Monk, and Charlotte & Thomas Pitt).  This installment's starring role goes to Charlotte Pitt's vinegar-tongued grandmother, who -- like another remote relative, recently returned to England after having spent most of her adult life living in the Middle East -- finds herself shunted onto Charlotte and her husband Thomas at short notice, because the family with whom she had been planning to spend the holidays have made other plans.  While Grandma pretends to despise her widely-traveled fellow guest, secretly she develops a considerable amount of respect for her, so when the lady is unexpetedly found dead, grandma takes it upon herself to seek out the people who had unloaded her on the Pitt household; convinced that something untoward is afoot.

 

As Perry's Christmas novellas go, this is one of my favorite installments to date, and i loved seeing it told, for once, not from the point of view of an easily likeable character, but from that of Grandma, who is a major pain in the neck to others (even though you'd have to be blind not to recognize from the word "go" that her acerbic tongue and pretensions are merely part of her personal armour).  I also wondered whether the murder victim's character might have been inspired by pioneering women travelers like Gertrude Bell, even if the story is set a few decades earlier than Bell's actual life.  I had issues with a couple of minor aspects of the plot (and characters / behaviour), but they didn't intrude enough to seriously impinge on my enjoyment of the story.  And since Grandma, for all her overblown pretenses, is certainly a strong woman character -- which she shows, not least, by eventually admitting to her own fallibilities -- I am counting this book towards the Human Rights Day square of 24 Festive Tasks.

 

 

 
Various Authors: Skandinavische Weihnachten

A charming anthology of Christmas short stories and poems from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland; chiefly geared towards children, but more than enjoyable by readers and listeners of all ages and generations.  I knew some of the entries (no Scandinavian Christmas anthology without Andersen's Little Match Girl, I suppose), but many of the stories were new to me, and they made for delightful listening on this 4th weekend of Advent. -- Set in Scandinavia, and thus I'm using it as my book for the St. Lucia's Day square.

 

 


Oscar Wilde: A Woman of No Importance

Wilde's second play; an acerbic take on the narrowness of fin de siècle English morality; or more particularly, supremely hypocritical perceptions of women's role in society.  Unlike in Wilde's later plays, the beginning comes across as a bit of an over-indulgence in the author's own clever wit, with a veritable fireworks of sparkling onelines and repartees following in quick succession without greatly advancing the plot (which is what earns the piece the subtractions in my star ratings -- it's the perfect example of too much of a good thing); but once the plot and the dialogue centers on the opposing protagonists, it quickly finds its feet. -- As Festivus books go, it's rather on the dark side, but it's a satire nevertheless, so I'm counting it for that square ... and though (unusually for Wilde) the last line is telegraphed a mile and a half in advance, I nevertheless enjoyed saying it along with the play's heroine from all my heart.

 

 


Oscar Wilde: Model Millionaire

My encore enjoyment to follow up A Woman of No Importance; a story that couldn't be any more different in tone and intent -- the tale of a gentleman who believes he has done a kindness to a raggedy beggar modelling for his artist friend ... only to find that he could not possibly have been any more mistaken, and that in fact it is he who is ultimately at the receiving end of an unexpected kindness.

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review 2018-12-20 20:27
Ehhhhh Okay Stories for the Most Part-24 Tasks
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories - Rainbow Rowell,Holly Black,Laini Taylor,Myra McEntire,Kiersten White,Stephanie Perkins,Gayle Forman,Matt de la Pena,Jenny Han,Ally Carter,Kelly Link,David Levithan

Per usual, some stories were delightful, some were good, and some were just okay.

 

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars)-Wow. This one was a great set-up for the anthology. We get to read about two teens New Year's Eve through the years. You get to see their friendship turn to something more. 

 

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link (2 stars)-This felt endless. I liked the idea of a curse keeping a man from being part of our world unless it snowed on Christmas every year. But did anyone else get squicked out that the main love interest met this dude when she was a kid and he sees her grow up? I just could not. 

 

Angels in the Snow by Matt De Le Pena (2 stars)-I just didn't like the writing style in this one. Sorry. It felt broken up and I like I was missing something.This story actually caused me to put this down for a while since it just totally took me out of the wanting to finish anything.

 

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han (5 stars)-Teen elves getting ready for the Snow Ball at the North Pole and a human called Natalie who has an interesting relation. I maybe laughed with delight with this story. It was so cute. And I could picture it in my head. I also thought it was super cute that elves don't really like to receive gifts, they by nature like to give things to other people. 

 

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins (3 stars)-We follow a character named Marigold Moon Ling (that's a mouthful) who is staking out a Christmas tree lot over a boy. Look, unless this guy looked like Chris Hemsworth I don't see it myself, but to each their own. This story dragged for me after reading the one prior to this.

 

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan (3 stars)-Ehh, okay, didn't really thrill me. A Jewish guy pretends to be Santa to help out his boyfriend. It just....it made zero sense to me. I maybe felt uncomfortable for this fictional character. It just....no. I did laugh at him explaining how his parents told him that yes Santa did exist, but he had too much to do and couldn't stop at their house. This just didn't really seem realistic with this character dressing up as Santa for her boyfriend's younger siblings. Levithan can spin a tale though so I did laugh a few times while reading this. 

 

Krampuslauf by Holly Black (2 stars)-People dressing up like Krampus. The author also gives us some info dumps on Kraumpus. I get it, you have to explain it since this is a short story and many people may not know who this is. That just took up a lot of time setting the story though. This book also deals with ugliness among teens too. There is slut shaming (not by the main character) and she is dealing with things trying to help a friend. Just not very joyous in my mind. 

 

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman (2 stars)-Story dealing with a main character, Sophie Roth, and her freshmen year of college. This one is actually fairly short and I just didn't care about Sophie and her love interest. 

 

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire-(1 star) I can't even recall this one. And I refuse to look it up.

 

Welcome to Christmas, CA, by Kiersten White- (2 stars)-I just recall thinking it was hilarious there are many towns in the U.S. called Christmas. Other than that, didn't feel engaged with this one either.

 

 

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter (1 star) A girl switches tickets with someone called Hulda because she doesn't want to go and meet her boyfriend (Hulda doesn't) and then she pops up and meets Ethan (Hulda's boyfriend) and he kisses her and my brain went wait did they switch bodies? He should know it's not her? And then I stopped caring. Believe me the why behind this mess is so dumb. 

 

The Little Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (3 stars)-Apparently it's custom for young men to leave gifts for their sweethearts for the 24 days of Advent on the Isle of Feathers. Shrug, yeah, I don't know why either. This story follows a character named Neve who doesn't have a sweetheart so she doesn't expect gifts. Just an okay story. Not a strong finish to the anthology I thought. 

 


Epiphany

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