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review 2018-07-08 10:19
Unnatural Creatures
Unnatural Creatures - Maria Dahvana Headley,Neil Gaiman

edited by Neil Gaiman

 

This is a collection of mostly excellent stories edited by Neil Gaiman. Naturally the quality of writing is set to a high bar and I enjoyed most of them very much. Except for Gaimans own contribution, they are all previously published somewhere, one as far back as 1909! Many are by known authors, though I'm not familiar with a lot of them.

 

Ironically, the first one I thought was a little slow was Gaiman's own story, which was number 12 and followed by a werewolf story that was a favorite of his, but I couldn't get into it. The theme of the anthology is strange and mythological creatures. Each story has at least one of these unnatural beasties. Or something close to it. The second to last one was a stand-out for an original approach to this theme and very well written.

 

As anthologies go, this was very high quality, but what else could you expect from Neil Gaiman?

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review 2018-07-06 18:30
WHITE DEATH by Christine Morgan, narrated by Matt Godfrey
White Death - Christine Morgan,Matt Godfrey

WHITE DEATH is the first book I've read from Christine Morgan and it was a winner!

 

Set during the Great Blizzard of 1888, it's apparent that Ms. Morgan has done her research. Set in the small town of Far Enough, Montana, this novel depicts what it was like for the inhabitants in a time when there were no weather forecasts, or warnings of any kind, before a storm.

 

At the same time, the author also weaves in some native American folklore in the form of a Wanageeska. In fact, it's the crossing of this creature that sets everything else off. I loved the characters in Far Enough, Montana, except for for the founder of the town, who deserved everything that happened.

 

The only problem I had was the large cast of characters, which are easier to follow on paper, than in audio. (I did find that jotting down notes on everyone helped quite a bit.) I thought the writing here was above average and detailed-if you ever want to know exactly what it feels like to have frostbite, or to debride the skin around your eyes trying to remove ice, than this is the book for you!

 

My only problem was that I didn't feel I got to know as many of the characters as I would have liked. However if I had, the book probably would have been much longer and the pacing slower. Perhaps a slightly smaller cast would have worked better and we could have become more familiar with people like Emma the schoolteacher, and a few others.

 

I listened to the audio of this story, narrated by the always excellent Matt Godfrey. In regards to excellence in audio, he never fails.

 

WHITE DEATH was entertaining and informative and caused me to want to learn more about the Great Blizzard of 1888. It was also quite a bit of fun where the Wanageeska was concerned and I would like to know more about that creature as well. Overall, it was a great time listening to WHITE DEATH and I definitely recommend it!

 

 

You can get your copy here: WHITE DEATH

 

*Thanks to Matt Godfrey for the Audible copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it. Further, I consider Matt to be my friend, even though we've never met, but this did not affect the honesty of my review.*

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review 2018-06-26 20:00
5 Out Of 5 "lonely eyes" STARS
The Mermaid - Christina Henry

 

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~BOOK BLURB~

The Mermaid

Christina Henry

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Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn't bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.

 

  1. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he'd heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.

 

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he's determined to hold on to his mermaid. 

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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This was truly fantastic!  A beguiling, slightly fantastical tale about a curious mermaid, and where her curiosity took her.  Taking us from the coast of Maine to New York, Charleston and beyond. Amelia, the name she picked for herself, is haunting and alluring and you can't help but love her.

 

Centered around a reimagining of a hoax played by P.T. Barnum about the Feejee Mermaid, in early 1840's New York, with a tour ending in Charleston, SC.

 

 -Advertisement for the Feejee Mermaid from the Charleston Courier, January 1843

 

The Mermaid is a story about what it means to be human or humane, actually.  It's also about love, friendships, and loyalty. I highly recommend.

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

5STARS - GRADE=A+

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 5/5

Main Characters~ 5/5

Secondary Characters~ 5/5

The Feels~ 5/5

Pacing~ 5/5

Addictiveness~ 4.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 5+/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 5/5

Originality~ 5/5

Ending~ 5/5

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Book Cover~ It's very good

Publisher~ Berkley Publishing

Setting~ New York City, 1840's

Source~ I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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review 2018-06-12 21:38
California Creatures by Clasman & Anthony
California Creatures - David Anthony,Charles David Clasman

Note: Even though this is Book #3 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

This is another great collection of spooky tales for the whole family. I expected great things from this book since Frightening Florida was so wonderful and I was not disappointed. Some tales are based on local myths or legends while others have a more modern bend to them.

A few of the tales stood out for me. I loved the tale that have grandparents who claim to be monster hunters (The Boot). I didn’t know until the very end whether the grandparents were going to be heroes or villains. I also loved the opening tale (Tar Pit Terror) because who doesn’t love a scary story that features a skeleton and this skeleton comes out of a smelly, gooey pit. Toll to the Troll was also awesome. I will never look at Alcatraz the same way again.

This collection of tales has a good balance of humor and scary. For instance, The Man in the Gray Suit had me laughing over the corny surfer slang. Often the various characters, almost all of which are kids, tease each other adding a few chuckles to even the scariest stories.

California Creatures is great for all ages as any sad ending to the heroes is left off scene and merely implied in the ending. I liked that most tales left things open ended so I can imagine my favorite heroes escaping at the last second… or being eaten or such if I felt they needed a dramatic ending.

The collection is full of little surprises. A dragon!?! Some weird fountain of youth? A zoo for movie monsters? The authors’s imaginations are on full display with these tales. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Neil Holmes gave another great performance. I love his range of voices, from little girl to gruff grandma to questionable security guard to impatient troll – he has a different voice for them all. His female voices were feminine and his little kid voices were well done. I loved all his emotion too, especially for the scared surfers. I did notice a few small technical issues with the recording – a few times I think I heard paper rustling and once there was a line that partially overlayed another line. None of these small issues detracted from my enjoyment of the book. 4.5/5 stars.

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review 2018-05-07 18:45
TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: DANA ROBERT'S CASEBOOK OF HORRORS, by Joe & Kasey Lansdale
Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts' Casebook of Horrors - Kasey Lansdale,Joe R. Lansdale

 

Joe Lansdale always delivers and now we know that Kasey Lansdale does too!

 

In the foreword, the "Champion Mojo Storyteller" shares with us a little bit about his character Dana Roberts, and how she came about investigating what she calls the "supernormal." This being what most people call "supernatural," but what Dana believes are just events that science cannot yet explain. I enjoyed her tales a LOT, mostly because I loved the framework of Dana being asked to share her stories with a group of skeptical men, (and sometimes women), in a smoky club. In the last two tales, Dana hires Jana, (Kasey Lansdale's creation), and they investigate a few cases together. While Dana is the skeptical, professional and beautiful lead "investigator," Jana is the irreverent, less polished, but also beautiful, sidekick. Having these last tales be from her POV was brilliant, giving us a different look at Dana's work while also highlighting the fact that Dana is kind of hoity-toity and not as willing to get her hands dirty as this reader first thought.

 

My favorites of the bunch were:

 

THE CASE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SHAMBLER I'm a sucker for haunted lighthouse stories and this one was a doozy.

 

THE CASE OF THE FOUR ACRE HAUNT was the tale of a haunted house. What made it special for me were the descriptions of the shadows; some of them honestly gave me the heebie-jeebies, and that doesn't happen often. Well done!

 

 

THE CASE OF THE ANGRY TRAVELER featured one of my favorite tropes-the whole city discovered beneath today's city type-thing. Now you know that Dana and friends found something down there, but what was it, exactly? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

Of the two Jana and Dana stories, THE CASE OF THE RAGMAN'S ANGUISH stood out the most for me. This was more of a novella than a short story, but there were different aspects to it than in the other tales, (I won't say what those aspects were), which made it unique and my favorite story of the bunch.

 

TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS was just plain fun and reminded me of the flat-out horror tales Joe Lansdale wrote back in the day. Joe's famous sense of humor may not be the prominent one in this collection, but Kasey's, (or Jana's) humor is, and it turns out? She's funny too!

 

Highly recommended for fans of short, scary stories that have a healthy side of humor and skepticism!

 

*Thanks to the authors and to the publicist at Cutting Block Books for the chance to read this book free, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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