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review 2020-03-22 19:26
FEAR OF FREE STANDING OBJECTS: A COLLECTION by Doug Rinaldi
Fear of Free Standing Objects: A Collection - Doug Rinaldi

FEAR OF FREE STANDING OBJECTS: A COLLECTION is an impressive and imaginative group of stories that swept through me like a slow moving storm and left me like jello, shivering on the floor.

 

I can't list my thoughts on all of them here, but the ones that blew me away were:

 

AN INCIDENT IN CENTRAL VILLAGE- Pond monsters!

 

THE YATTERING-A haunted bookstore. Already, with the title and subject alone, it screams my name.

 

THE SICKENING-At this point in time, what with COVID19 and its effects, this tale was even scarier than it otherwise would have been.

 

At least COVID19 doesn't make us kill each other. At least not yet.

 

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP COMING -A "tables are turned" type of story.

 

LOTUS PETALS: LIMINAL PERSONAE-Body Horror that put me in mind of Geek Love or some of Michael Blumlein's work.

 

SYBARITES (OR THE ENMITY OF PERVERSE EXISTENCE) I don't even know what to say about this other than that this was the tale that cemented my thoughts about how great this collection really was.

 

To be honest, this was a collection where every story worked for me on some level or another. That's a rare occurrence, so I took my time savoring these tales and surrendered myself to whatever it was Mr. Rinaldi wanted to show me. I'm so glad I did!

 

My highest recommendation!

 

Get your copy here: FEAR OF FREE STANDING OBJECTS: A COLLECTION 

 

*Thanks to Doug Rinaldi for the paperback arc in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2019-07-25 00:00
SKIN by Kathe Koja, narrated by Suzanne T. Fortin
Skin - Crossroad Press,Suzanne Fortin,Kathe Koja

SKIN was way out of my comfort zone, but I'm so glad I gave it a shot. It was amazing!

 

This is the story of two women, Tess and Bibi. Artists. Body Art. Performance Art. Body Horror. Body modifications. Cutting. Lesbians. Bisexuals. Heart. Sculpture. Welding. Feeling. Cult Mentality. Hangers-on. Groupies. Darkness. Death. Wish you were dead. Wish I was dead. And finally? Love. I love you.

 

Written in a prose that was sharp, stabbing, and staccato-like, SKIN takes some getting used to. I took a stab at it above, (get it? HA!), and it's much harder than it looks. (Or in this case, harder than it sounds, since I listened to this on audio.) I was amazed at how much the author was able to get across in so few words. Seriously, I was and still am astonished by it all.

 

I don't want to go into the plot too much, because it should unfold as the author intended. However, I did feel for these characters, I felt their pain and their need to be heard and loved. Though at other times I wanted to punch them both in the face. Either way, this book reached out to me and made me FEEL. Also, I feel like I accomplished something by surviving the experience, because this book was brutal at times.

 

At first I didn't care for the narration at all, but then I realized it was the prose that bothered me. As I said above, it takes some getting used to. Once I was more familiar with the writing style, the narration settled right into my head and this became more of a visual experience than a literary one. I'm not sure I'm making sense here, but looking at the other reviews, I don't think I'm the only one having trouble describing this book.

 

It's gory, heartbreaking, thrilling, cringe-inducing stuff. SKIN makes you think, it makes you face your fears, even as the characters attempt to face theirs. This tale isn't going to work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*I was provided an Audible Audio code for this book by the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-12-21 18:30
HUSK by J. Kent Messum
Husk - J. Kent Messum

 

HUSK was a fast paced, science fiction, political, mysterious, horror-show and I loved it!

 

Let me set the scene. We're in NYC at some point in the future. The political landscape is a mess. The Occupy movement has relocated from Wall Street to Central Park and has grown beyond all expectations. Our economy has gone to hell, people are out of work and out of patience. We now grow almost all of our own food, which sounds great, but it's not. We are growing our own meats, (yes, we grow meats, UGH), and vegetables in warehouses, with who knows what chemicals and additives. There is a severe water shortage that allows us to only "mist" not shower. Our technology has outpaced us and the best of the best of it is only available to the super rich.

 

One of these technologies is the ability to upload your essence, (your mind, emotions, thoughts-everything that makes you YOU), into a computer or server when you die. You then become a POST MORTEM. As a PM, you can live in your own virtual reality, you can be downloaded into a robot of sorts, or if you're SUPER-SUPER rich you can hire someone to loan you their body. These hirees are called HUSKS. Rhodes, the subject of this story is one of them.

 

Rhodes is having some trouble husking lately. He's returning to his body to find it beaten up, scratched and bruised. Nothing that would violate his husking contract, but definitely things that devalue him to a post-mortem looking for a good time. When Rhodes starts having hallucinations and memories that are not his own, he begins thinking about leaving husking behind and finding another line of work. Will he be able to extract himself from this business? Will he be able to return to a somewhat normal life and his pregnant girlfriend? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

The mystery here is quite engaging, and it's hard to figure out what's going on at first, until you get the feel for how husking works. It's basically high tech prostitution. With the lack of jobs and the tanking economy, Rhodes lacks the skill set to do much else-I felt for the guy. Most people I know, including myself, are a few paychecks or one major illness away from being out on the street.

 

Aside from the mystery surrounding Rhodes, the politics and observations regarding our climate and environment, the rich vs. the poor, cloned foods and the lack of fresh foods are sharp, on point and all too realistic. Messum has envisioned a scary and dark world that has no time or room for the poor, the uneducated and/or the unlucky. This is where the horrific aspects come in. (Other than the horror of lending out your very body and mind, of course.)

 

I was impressed by this story. The world-building is not only fascinating but prescient and did I mention all too realistic? The characters were mostly well drawn, though I feel like I didn't get to know Rhodes quite as much as I wanted to. Perhaps that's because Rhodes didn't even know Rhodes? I'm not sure, but I deducted half a star for something I felt was missing in Rhodes, in his girlfriend Ryoko, and in Phineas, a friend to them both.

 

That said, between the vision of the world presented, the technological ideas, the fast pace and the action that occurs during the second half? I totally enjoyed this experience and I ripped through it quickly and with great pleasure!

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: HUSK

 

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

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review 2018-02-09 15:34
All the Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva
All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva

ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD is a collection of short literary fiction stories, the last two of which were absolutely brilliant.

 

The tales in this book are all over the place, but I think it's all the different facets of humanity that link them all together. No two stories here are even remotely alike and I enjoyed that diversity.

 

Among my favorites were:

 

LOGGING LAKE which involved a strange happening at an ill advised campsite.

 

ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD which was a heartbreaking story of two young girls who were kidnapped and forever changed by it.

 

ROBERT GREENMAN AND THE MERMAID: Once we glimpse something fantastic,(in the true sense of the word), it is very difficult to let it go.

 

MANUS was probably my favorite story here. After so many tales involving ordinary life, here's one that is totally out of left field. Gripping, poignant, and so creative-I'll never look at a human hand in the same way again.

 

And finally, PLEIADES: I don't even know what to say about this story. It's powerful, beautifully written and well told. I doubt anyone could read it and remain unmoved.

 

I liked the tales in this collection, but until the last two I didn't feel that this volume was anything special. MANUS and PLEIADES elevated this book to something really special in my eyes, and I highly recommend this book to fans of literary and speculative fiction.

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

**Also, thanks to my fellow book blogger Cody for turning me on to this collection. You can find his excellent reviews here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56352820-cody-codysbookshelf **

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review 2018-01-28 15:45
Dark Screams: Volume Nine
Dark Screams: Volume Nine - Kelley Armstrong,Richard Chizmar,Stewart O'Nan,Brian James Freeman,Peter Straub

DARK SCREAMS: VOLUME NINE was a ton of fun! I was most especially impressed with the last entry TORN by Lee Thomas.

 

I'm not even going to get into what TORN was about because I think it should be related exactly as the author intended. I will say that even though this is a longer story than I usually care for in an anthology, it kept me riveted, it was original and I LOVED it!

 

THE DEAD YEARS by Taylor Grant was another original entry and this one had a science fiction bent to it that I enjoyed. I would love to see this idea expanded to a full length novel.

 

SUMMER OF 07 by Stewart O'Nan. A super short story that reminded me of Ted Bundy.

 

THE BLACKOUT by Jonathan Moore was an unsettling tale mostly set at the morgue.

 

INVITATION TO THE GAME by Kelly Armstrong. This was another tale that had a science fiction bent to it, in my view. It's about a corporation that controls, (or attempts to control?) all aspects of its employees lives. When they send you an invitation, it is unwise to decline.

 

Lastly, there was a story from Peter Straub: VARIATIONS ON A THEME FROM SEINFELD. I admit that the reason I requested an ARC of this book was due to Straub. I have such love for him and for Seinfeld, for that matter, but this story didn't do much for me.

 

Overall, I had fun with this volume, (most especially the story TORN!), and I recommend it to dark fiction and science fiction lovers everywhere!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and to Hydra for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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