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review 2018-04-03 11:54
Review: Dear Sweet Filthy World
Dear Sweet Filthy World - Caitlín R. Kiernan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This particular author is one of my favourites of dark and bizarre fiction. Most of the time I love her work, there are the odd ones that I really don’t like or get at all. This collection of short stories has been on my radar since I heard about it. I was thrilled when I got approved for it on Netgalley (a hardcover is nearly $30). After reading a few of the stories I knew I had to have a finished copy and  I did purchase a finished Kindle version.

 

Stand out stories for me were:

 

Werewolf Smile – a narrator’s flighty girlfriend posing for a series of disturbing photos based on a Red Riding Hood theme. There was something so dark and powerful about the prose that made this story stick with me more than the others. First story in the collection.

 

Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint – this is about a dude who picks up a random girl hitchhiking and finds himself sharing her memories of violent acts throughout history. Very vivid and uncomfortable.

 

The Eighth Veil – I loved this one, I wanted a full novel of this one. A group of weird people gathering in a bar to watch some sort of stage show which seems to be an execution.

 

-30- This one is about a woman who receives an anonymous photo of some sort of monster – is it real? Where did it come from? Who sent it? What is it? An intriguing mystery though was a little disappointed with the end.

 

The Carnival is Dead and Gone – This was another favourite, dude and has friend visiting a carnival of oddities and freaks head into a special area where the strangest of creatures are held including some sort of quivering mass with theatricals that resemble a giant vagina following some strange sex act. It was another one that was quite uncomfortable but utterly compelling and erotic as it was disturbing. It feels wrong but you can’t take your eyes away.  The audience of the show seemed to find it really erotic.  Something like this should not be erotic, but it was and what does that say about the state of my mind?

 

Interstate Lovesong (Murder Ballard No 8) Two sisters who pick up randoms and kill them on their journey get a shock of their own when they pick up a girl with an attitude of her own. Gory and fascinating.

 

These were the stand outs for me.

 

This collection is a host of stories from the strange, the weird, the bizarre, disturbing, erotic and sometimes just plain what the fuck was that? 28 of them. Some of them I loved, some of them I hated. Some of them were just bland. One in particular - Tempest Witch - I read the whole thing and didn’t get a word of it.  The writing is beautiful and lyrical, dark and dreamy.

 

A good mixed bag.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Subterranean Press  for approving my request to view the title.

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text 2018-03-23 15:13
Dear Abby

I started a new "Dear Abby" blog post section from readers, answered by one of my readers!

 

Dear Mia & Sugar,
I want to attend a book signing(s), but there are SO many types to choose from. I must admit—I am overwhelmed and am in need of book signing advice.

Keep reading here http://cristinharber.com/archive/dear-mia-and-sugar/dear-mia-and-sugar-seeking-book-signing-advice/

 

Source: cristinharber.com/archive/dear-mia-and-sugar/dear-mia-and-sugar-seeking-book-signing-advice
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review 2018-03-20 23:48
Dear Martin -- my best YA read in recent memory
Dear Martin - Nic Stone

 

 

nortonism.tumblr.com

 

This is what I imagine Justyce, the MC, would do if asked to hold a sign about race early on.

 

There has been a stream of books about race and police brutality in the last few years. One could read nothing but books on the topic and still not keep up with the books available. What a great problem to have: too many books on important topics. Now if only these books were useless because the problem had been solved.

 

If one can "enjoy" a book like this, then I enjoyed Nic Stone's telling of tragedy story more than I've enjoyed almost any other. There are obvious comparisons both in other recent books but also to real cases in real America. Nic Stone writes for the young reader in a simple way that never is dumbed down or too basic. She has all the nuances and difficulties of her subject matter under command as she writes the story of Justyce and his friend Manny, two black kids at a liberal, elite school and the ways they handle casual, subtle, daily racialization, microaggressions, as well as the more obvious and deadly type.

 

The POV shifts between third person storytelling to Justyce's interior life to second-person letters/journaling to "Dear Martin" (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) Nic Stone makes excellent use of the "safe place" classroom, where the white students do all the talking on race while the black students sit uncomfortably or angrily by, but certainly don't feel "safe" on the topic of race, despite having a black teacher. There is confusion by the bundle for our protagonist, in the way his friends behave, the racial issues involved in dating, the always-difficult world of being a teenager. He takes refuge in writing honest letters to MLK, and it's here that he feels safe enough to say what he thinks. But can even Dr. King help Justyce when the world caves in?

 

This is, ultimately, an uplifting story with characters who grow in the face of extreme circumstances and stereotypes that threaten to keep them stuck. Well worth anyone's time.

 

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review 2018-03-18 13:10
Dear Diary - Lesley Arfin,Chloë Sevigny

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book was okay. I found it in the Little Free Lending Library, was drawn in by the interesting cover and cool diary-like book design, and figured, "Worth a shot". At first I thought it was a work of fiction as many "diary" books directed to young girls are. Then I actually read the description and realized it was a true story about a girl growing up who eventually gets addicted to heroin. Nothing to deter me yet.

Then I started reading.

Wow.

I can't believe this was written by a 28-year-old. I'm a year younger than Arfin was when she wrote this book and feel like I can be much more insightful and introspective about my messed up little pre-teen self.

The book consists of actual diary entries from Arfin when she was growing up (middle school, high school, college, after college, rehab, rehab again, etc.) along with "updates" from her current self. These "updates" didn't necessarily give any insight, but just kind of explained who people were and what was going on. She more just deciphered her cryptic teenage language of "I hate my life" rather than reflect on her life and the events that got her where she is today. There are also "interviews" where she reconnects with people from her past. This mostly consist of her reminiscing about all the funny things that happened when she was high and not-at-all-subtly steering the conversation back to herself whenever the other person tries talking about their own lives. This is a common theme throughout the book: it's the Lesley Arfin Show and no one else is allowed to think, feel, or do anything. 

Writing-wise, I was surprised that Arfin has a degree in creative writing and is an actual writer who write actual articles. I'm fine with the appreciations and slang, but her writing just isn't very good. I'll leave it at that. 

Also, I'm not really sure what the point of this book was. From Chloe Sevigny's forward, I figured it would be a book for young girls to help them through all the horribleness of growing up female, complete with the bullying, peer pressure, and general mistake-making that go along with it. However, with advice like "If you really want to know what drugs are like, you should do them for yourself" and "My recommendation to younger girls who are having sex for the first few times: Get drunk", I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of young girls using this as a guide or something to relate to. Yes, she talks about how horrible it was being addicted to heroin and all that, but she's pretty encouraging of other drugs and overall not-so-great decision making. Kids and teens are going to do drug and act irresponsibly anyway, no need to encourage them talking about how cool drug are.

This book is definitely not what I excepted. It was okay. There were little gems of insight tucked away in it, but nothing earth-shattering. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, because I don't think there's enough good in it to outweigh the bad, boring, and narcissistic in it.

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review 2018-03-07 04:50
Dear Evan Hansen by Scott Levenson, Justin Paul, and Benj Pasek
Dear Evan Hansen (TCG Edition) - Steven Levenson,Benj Pasek,Justin Paul

Whoops! I forgot to post about this when I read it. I wasn't sure if I was going to count it towards by goal or not, but I think it counts. 

 

I first listened to the (glorious) soundtrack of this musical and was so intrigued that I decided to read the script.

 

Having read this, it helped me understand the musical so much more and really served a gut-punch, even more so than the soundtrack. It's written beautifully. I'm not one to normally read plays, but I'm so glad I did this one, just in case I never get the chance to see it live. Perfection.

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