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review 2020-04-18 21:33
Luxurious package takes some unpacking
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter

Do I dare call this full of symbolism, and therefore feel the need to scratch under the surface of these tales? Then again, is there any fairy tale worth it's salt that is not so.

Lets start saying that the way this is written is incredibly sensual. I was surprised because I was sure the first tale (The Bloddy Chamber), would turn up into a hardcore purple prose BDSM. It does not become explicit, but the erotic charge and the tug of war between desire for freedom and sexual or base hungers, innocence and a curiousity for corruption, is heavy and all encompassing on that one and several others in this collection (The Tiger's Bride, The Erl-king).

Puss in Boots was hilarious in all it's terribleness. Not one character in it can be called good, our narrator least of all, and yet. Lots of laughing OMG, no!

 

The Snow Child was... How do you pack it that fast? It takes infinitely more to unpack.

All of them are incredibly evocative. Also disturbing. Oh, and they screw with your mind with the POVs and tenses too.

 

I'm a still quite discombobulated by much of this, and I'm pretty certain I don't get even most  of what this is conveying, but frankly, at some point I started researching some fairy-tale stuff for background, and found out there are whole freaking books essaying on the meanings of this collection, so I reckon I'm good enough just keeping it floating on the back-burners of my mind.

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review 2020-03-25 07:22
How do you talk to an ocean
Solaris - Stanisław Lem,Steve Cox,Joanna Kilmartin

(but maybe, we should worry more about how the ocean would try to talk to us)

 

It's a very disturbing read from the start, and you can feel the disquiet grip you into the pages immediately, but it's pretty dense and it can get dry.

 

Know what this reminded me off a lot? "Moby Dick". It's those essays, and the way everyone keeps approaching that ocean from a description of the components because the whole is unfathomable. Also quite a bit of "Arrival", and the inherent difficulties of communications.

 

Around the middle, I found that I started to like Snaut because he was saying everything that Kalving wouldn't even admit in his own internal narrative. Snaut was a ruthless bastard that angered Kalvin, but there was this sense that the reason Kalvin got angry all the time was because he was voicing what he did not want to see.

 

I did not expect it to end where it did, though that is likely the fault of my vague memories of the last movie made. There is so much that it leaves you speculating on, the concepts of a god that evolves and a god cradle in that final conversation specially, with Snaut wishing to stay, and that we never see anyone else's visitor but Kalvin's (oh, and the fact that Kalvin is the only one that does not obsessively hide his, the things that says).

 

There a lot more odds and ends that keep running around my mind for such a short novel, so I'll likely be chewing on my book hangover for a while.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-02-08 18:26
The Deep Review
By Nick Cutter The Deep [Hardcover] - Nick Cutter

 I am so torn how I feel about this book.One one had I really like various elements of the book but on the other hand they were done done as well as they could have been. I really really enjoyed The Troop and enjoyed The Acolyte enough where I wanted to keep reading more books by this author. Like The Acolyte I am mixed overall after reading this. I really liked the concept but the actual execution was sort of weak. To me Nick Cutter is overall good with his endings in that they are vague and mysterious, though will say thought The Acolyte ending could have been better. The main characters don't always come out fine at the end . Most times things are worse off than how they started. Humanity is just overall fucked in his books to say the least and while that might be more than a bit nihilistic but it has a truth in that sometimes for no reason bad things just happen and people are at a loss to stop them.

Other than mostly liking the ending even if it was a tad confusing in this one, I did enjoy the setting of this one but felt it was not used to its full advantage. Thought more of the horror was going to center on the claustrophobic nature of the setting. Some of that came in to play during certain scenes but there could have been a lot more of it. While there is for sure tension that on the edge of your seat level tension never happened for me. That and and the tension or worry was greatly misplaced at times.For example I found myself more when Clayton tore the dog's ear off than when the dog was being dragged by the other dog/monster thing into the hole/rift . Think overall the misplaced tension was one of the major issues that caused me not to enjoy this as much as I did. I am not 100 percent sure if it was how it was written or if it was just me.

 

I also just overall really enjoy the weirdness and body horror in his books, or least I did in the Troop and maybe I should not have expected the same sort of vibe with this book. There was for sure some body horror and weirdness in this one but over the body horror never reached the well..horror that The Troop did or the out right grossness either. To me there was not a good balance of the horror and just plain weirdness in this one. To the horror, felt it was not all that horrifying. Think it goes back to the tension never reaching the level it should but also to me the things that happened throughout were not all that scary. You have the claustrophobic setting, whispering in the dark, bleak and unyielding darkness, bodies(human and animal) twisted in unnatural ways and merging with surrounding in some way and bees so many damn bees, which I know was meant to be super damn creepy because of what they end up doing and just how freaking big they get but to me was well.. that's a whole lot of damn bees.
description

Now since horror is subjective , maybe I was just not horrified by these things . I am not sure this is the case though since I found similar things once again pretty damn scary in the Troop. Think it was one part the tension, which have mentioned before, but think too I was not as invested in the characters like I were for the characters of The Troop. Now for me at least this is way different than being likable. I don't have to truly like the characters to be invested in them. In fact I quite like books that have very very unlikable characters and honestly I find myself often loving characters others may hate.Here though just ...I found the characters boring . They were likable enough I would say but just felt this massive distance personally from them to the point that when really horrible things started to happen to them was just not as horrifying as it should have been . If anything I worried more about what was going to happen to the dog than I did to any of the human characters , though again the final outcome for the dog fell flat.

Mentioning the horror, have to of course mention the monster element of this book. Will compare it to horror movies with a monster or monster element. There needs to be a balance of times reader/watcher sees the monster , the build up to that and course a nice outcome if the monster is ever fully shown. For me the build up is mostly ok but not the best . Again think things that were meant to be scary just did not do it for me for one reason or another and then when the "fig men" as they are called are finally seen and are at center stage as it were , which is the last 15 or 20 pages I am just ...this is it ? To me, the tension that did work was just sort of killed in the final pages.The monsters that had been lurking around in the shadows only heard in whispers and strange sounds and only seen in flashes failed to remain scary since now Luke is having a full out conversation with them. All the build came to a head that just to me did not pay off. I would much rather preferred the monsters stay in the dark or stay disembodied voices. In these last pages, it came off as that part of show or movie where the "villain" fully explains their evil plot. All mystery is dead and gone . The same goes here. The fig men explain for the most part their plan , strike a deal to give back Luke's son or least something that looks like his son. I still have my doubts that they had any good will or intention given all that occurs throughout the novel. Think it was more just to get Luke to go along with their plan and to finally just tip him fully over the edge. Whatever the case may be , the last few pages just were really disappointing. Now saying that I did mostly enjoy the ending in that they or whatever it is that finally comes up is now unleashed on the world but think the less the reader knew about the monsters the better the ending would have been.

Also , while I enjoyed the elements of the story at times, the overall story was a bit cluttered. It goes from a mysterious illness story , which in hindsight is more a passing mention than anything else , to a hero trapped in an awful situation and must find a way out , to creepy body horror and very very weird situations, to finally a supernatural/monster that hero must overcome or be taken by story. Overall the book felt like it lost focus and was trying to do and trying to be too many things all at once. The situations had they been on their own could have work . I do wish, too, that and the mysterious illness was more at the forefront than it was . To me the supernatural aspects sort of ruined my enjoyment of this one. That and most of the weirdness was less scary weird and more confusing and weird for the sake of being weird.

My last major issue was it felt like it told instead of showed. Going to mention The Troop again but thought Cutter there did a great job of showing us the boys slow climb to worry , at times madness and the overall just horror of being trapped and at any second could just be consumed by this thing that well consumes you til there is nothing left of your humanity left. Here though the the tension gets killed from too much telling of how Luke is feeling instead of just showing the reader that through his actions . This goes for how Luke describes other characters as well. He goes on and on how Clayton is unfeeling instead of letting the reader realize that through Clayton's actions alone. I mean, hell, he pushes one of the dogs through the hole thing to see what would happen a scene that would have been way more effective had we had a flashback to Clayton doing that instead of just seeing the aftermath of it, which is a different issue but still goes along with my point. Characters come across as evil just because Luke says they are or what they did was evil when the reader could have figured that out through showing their actions all on their on. Take for instance his really horrible mother. Now she does do some beyond horrible things , which based on the fig men's summary of their plans could be them controlling her to do them or it is heavily implied that they least watched and had fun playing games. Still, though, most of what we know about her other than one or two events that we actually see is based on Luke describing how awful she is and fat..how so very fat she becomes as he is growing up. And think it is just supposed to make her out to be more disgusting but overall just seems like a oh just so you remember his mother was fucking huge.

To the one event that we do see that confirms that his mother is monster that Luke just says that she is, has to do with abuse so just a warning. I don't have an issue with abuse being in books as long as said abuse is not there just for shock value since feel that is a cheap shot and underplays the evil that actual abuse( physical or mental ) is to a person. Sadly here it was used just to cement it in our minds how just awful the mother was and to just shock the reader. The scene itself is short and thankfully does not go into any graphic detail. It is heavily implied that the mother is sexually abusing Clayton and when said scene happens is hinted to that this is not the first time that this has occurred . Clayton does get his "revenge" so to speak in that he slowly starves to death due poisoning her , but because Luke is on and on again how uncaring and unfeeling he sees his brother the reader is just supposed to get I guess that Clayton is just a monster without really any nuance to his character. Again just supposed to or or less takes Luke's word for it. How Clayton comes across is heavily colored by how Luke's sees him and not letting the actions Clayton does speak for themselves.

Will also mention that there is also a bit of a forced love interest vibe between Alice and Luke to the point where something that is meant to be scary is happening and Luke is thinking about boning her and just...wtf. Thankfully that never happens but just with any book I greatly hate forced romance/flirting etc to just throw in some sort of romance. Not every book needs a romance. They just don't and they will do just fine if not better without them.

While this review may come across as super negative, I still think overall Cutter had some interesting concepts . I had personal preference issues and just overall issues with tension building, but I still enjoyed the book. The horror and weirdness in this one was just not to my liking and very often fell a bit flat or came across more confusing than actually shocking or horrifying. Will also I am going to take a break before reading Little Heaven since I am really into what it is about and really hoping is not just the middle of the road as this one ended up being

(spoiler show)
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review 2020-01-24 19:10
The Twisted ones by T. Kingfisher
The Twisted Ones - T. Kingfisher

I knew I was going to read this book someday so I avoided all of my friends reviews and went into it blind. I was expecting it to be good but I wasn’t expecting it to be such a perfect book for me! One of the main characters is a redbone coonhound which is same breed as my pup, the plot is genuinely unnerving and some scenes are chill-you-to-the-bone and seep-into-your-soul scary but the best surprise was the humor. I was not expecting humor and I appreciated the humor so much. So many books I read are deadly serious, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but some of them could benefit from a little snark and/or comic relief to help you relate better to a character or break up the tension and/or relentless impending doom! This one does it right. The humor is organic and part of the character development and it never felt forced.

I’d like you to go in blind with this one as well so you can cherish all of its unsettling turns so I’m not going to hit you with a plot dump. I’m also feeling meh and a little lazy, so there’s that too. This book is folk horror which is a little hot after the release of Midsommar and The VVitch. I’ll be honest here and tell you that I had no clue what folk horror actually was until very recently. I always thought it was retelling stories rooted in those dark old fairy tales where the wolf eats grandma and feeds some of her parts to LIttle Red but it goes much deeper than that and now I want to read it all.

I was smitten with Bongo the not-so-bright dog mentioned above but also with the conversational writing style.Your mileage may vary on this but I felt as if a friend were telling me her story and it was perfect. The only snag I hit was the old journal bits in the book. They were super boring, if you’re asking me, and I had to do a little skim-read of them because my brain just didn’t want to take it in.

This is an interesting story filled with a unique plot, fun characters, tension, humor and genuine creeps and if you stumble with the journal segments as I did just give them a skim and keep on going. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-01-22 22:39
Wilder Girls-Review
Wilder Girls - Rory Power

I am overly conflicted about this book. There are many aspects I liked about it : the body horror, the government cover up, and the queer aspects just to name a few, but there are many aspects about it that just fell flat for me. In fact I was quite nervous to finish it because quite certain that however it may it that it was going to ruin the entire book for me. I put off the ending,aka the last two chapters, to the point that I finished an entire Pet Sematary audiobook before I finally went back to finish it.

 

As much as I love darker themed young adult novels, I was really wanting it to be darker than it ended up being . I realize this is a personal issue and had I wanted to read a darker body horror novel there are plenty of adult novels that would have been better suited to my needs. Even so I was still expecting just a bit more from this one.A lot of my issues, though, with this book in particular plot points that to me do not make sense. For instance more than half way through the book an incident with the fence safe-guarding the school from the twisted animals that now roam the woods allows a bear to get inside said fence, and inside the school itself. Under the circumstances, it would still be case for alarm if a normal bear had gotten in. Given that it is twisted by whatever is infecting the island, which turns out at the end to be some parasitic worm thing, it is meant to be a even more terrifying experience was frustrating since Hetty and most of the other girls are able to outrun the bear from room to room and barricade themselves inside said rooms. The latter is at least more believable than the former. During the whole encounter only one girl ,that I recall, actually dies from the whole episode with the bear.

 

I am not saying the author should have killed off more characters, she is not at all shy to kill characters or least some of them, but the fact remains that some how they are able to outrun the bear when people have hard time running away from "normal" bears in the wild. It just all feel too overly convenient. What should have been a high stacks nerve wrecking scene just to me held no tension whatsoever. Mentioning killing characters, though, the author does rack up quite the body count and yet it doesn't hold the impact, least to me, that the author intended. I will like to state character deaths other than a few instances(aka my favorite character in a given work or a death that comes completely by surprise) rarely do much for me. Here, though, the deaths that do occur suffer from particular aspect of novels that really bug me : killing of faceless,nameless, "unimportant, side character(s). Now I am not saying the death of side characters always come off as "safe bets" or meaningless deaths but here it does. Of the characters that do die, the reader only really gets to know the slightest bit of them based on what Hetty has said about them or the few scenes they are present in, which is not enough in to develop them or they were not develop as well as they should have been. Instead in this book , it feels like the reader should be shocked by the number of death instead of who actual has dies. I felt the same way about the two adults that died and then the boy that dies from Byatt kissing him.Given how little time we get to know them their deaths hold little or no impact. If you don't really give the proper time to really know characters than their deaths just don't mean much .

 

The only death that would and could of held any meaning the author took back , which is a trend in books and other media that I hate. Will be the first to admit I am not a doctor, but I was pretty sure with how invasive Byatt is removing the worm thing in her arm, how much blood she loses in the process, a fact that Hetty remarks on when Byatt is finally found, and the fact that Byatt is left alone who knows how long with no medical assistance she would not still be alive .Least it doesn't seem like she should still be alive. I think it would have much more impactful to have her die, have Hetty deal with that grief and pain of not being able to get there in time, which it seems for a moment she is than to be oh no Byatt is actual alive, very very weak by somehow still alive.

 

Another aspect of the novel that sort of threw me was the romantic subplot. I love that there is a queer relationship in this and other than the body horror was an element that made me pick it up in the first place,but I am still confused by the two that get together. From the start, was pretty sure Byatt and Hetty were meant to be the romantic pair given how close they seemed in every scene they shared together and given the book was from their two points of view. I have nothing against power close friendships and given what has happen the students may cling tighter to each other more than ever before,but it just felt like more than friendship between the two of them , least from Hetty's chapters. No, though, seems Reese and Hetty are the ones that get together, which just really confused me. Hetty spends way less time with her, at one point Reese tries to choke here and for awhile seems like they are not even friends anymore and are not not even talking. I can buy that Byatt and Hetty are just really close best friends . Books need more powerful platonic best friendships they really do. The fact still remains that relationship makes no sense between the two that are paired up in this book. Maybe I was missing subtle clues but to me seems they went from sort of again not even being friends because of Hetty getting boat shift, something Reese really wants to try to find her dad, to kissing and suddenly are sort of together. If this was the plan where were there no chapter from Reese to get to know her more and develop her more?

 

Overall I enjoyed it enough to finish even if I put off finishing it but I wanted more from it. I really enjoyed the body horror aspects of it and when they were the focus the book was really exciting . I just really wanted more of those aspects I am not faulting it for not being as dark and gritty as I first thought. I get it is young adult and the darker elements have to be toned down in some way for that target audience. Even so what it did do in that respect was great and just again wanted more of it. I was not a fan of the lack of any explanation for the Tox. I was not expecting a full exposition dump since that would have been over the top and annoying , but was expecting something more than was in the book. I get diseases are confusing in real life but was expecting some sort of explanation to parts of it at least in this. Finally as much as I love open endings , when they make sense, the ending felt rushed and abrupt.Was overall just disappointed in a lot of the aspects of this novel. The cover is gorgeous,though

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