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review 2018-02-16 18:27
Am I a vampire or just super anemic?
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures - Aaron Mahnke

Only as I'm reviewing these books do I realize just how many 'scary' books I read at the end of last year (and how many more I've just now added to my TRL). That's how you know that I'm a 'whatever I feel like reading' reader/'I'm interested in this topic for the next 3 books and then I'm going to wildly change interests' reader. [A/N: I couldn't remember the term 'mood reader' to save my life when I was originally drafting this post. I chose to leave that crazy line in there because it cracks me up.] All of this is to set up today's book which is The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke. I saw an ad for this in a subway station and it wasn't the title that caught my eye but the author. I had been an avid listener of his podcast (named Lore unsurprisingly) last year and then as is my way (especially with podcasts) I had totally forgotten about it. Once I started reading the book I realized that it was essentially composed of transcripts from his podcast episodes. (Guess it's a good thing I didn't listen to all of them.) The book is broken down into categories about different creatures from folklore. Two examples: vampires and zombies. Vampires could have been created because of a disease whereby people were pale, sensitive to sunlight, and craved blood. (And then there was Vlad the Impaler who is perhaps the most well-known nightwalker. (Quick note: Nightwalker is not a cool name for a vampire like I had originally thought but I'm gonna just pretend that it is cause it's better than repeating the word vampire ad nauseum.)) Zombies were most likely inspired by victims of tuberculosis (the living dead) and the large numbers of people who were pronounced dead then subsequently rose from their graves. (This is a real thing and will perhaps explain why more people choose cremation these days.) Mahnke also discusses the history of hauntings and the popularity of the spirtualist movement among many other topics of the supernatural. He has a way of simultaneously debunking these theories while giving the impression that we should still remain open-minded. It's an interesting read especially if you haven't really delved too deep into this subject area and you want to get the rundown. 8/10

 

Monstrous Creatures is the first in a planned trilogy and I think there's also a tv show in the works. I guess I'm not the only one interested in the supernatural. ;-)

 

What's Up Next: Soonish by Kelly Weinersmith

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-07 17:33
What did the Frenchman ever do to you?
Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: Twenty Chilling Tales from the Wilderness - Hal Johnson,Tom Mead

I think if I had a new copy of this book I would have had the benefit of seeing the illustrations in their original glow-in-the-dark awesomeness. As it is, I got this from the library and it had seen many days under the sun (and probably some under a flashlight to really get all the juice out of it).


Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: 20 Chilling Tales from the Wilderness by Hal Johnson with illustrations by Tom Mead is a children's graphic novel that certainly delivered what it set out to with that supremely long title. This is definitely a middle grade title and I wouldn't recommend reading this to your elementary aged child before bedtime (unless they're tough as nails). It would however make a fantastic Halloween read aloud. ;-) The book consists of short stories depicting different monstrous creatures of lore and how they were discovered, captured (if they ever were), and killed their victims. Each story is accompanied by illustrations of the creatures overlaid with the glow-in-the-dark ink I mentioned at the beginning. The illustrations are FANTASTIC. I also felt like the stories were the perfect length if you were using them to read aloud to kids. Since there are 20 you could read one a day on the lead up to Halloween. However, in the spirit of full transparency, I need to point out that it seemed as if the author had something against Frenchman (they were abused quite a lot throughout) which did make me quite uncomfortable at several points. If not for that, this would have been a fully enjoyable little collection of monster stories. As it stands, I'll go with a 7/10.

 

An example of the illustrative style and writing. [Source: Barnes & Noble]

 

What's Up Next: The Unreal and the Real: Where on Earth by Ursula K. Le Guin

 

What I'm Currently (Re)Reading: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-01-31 06:52
Games Creatures Play ed. by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner
Games Creatures Play - Charlaine Harris,Toni L.P. Kelner

Welcome to the wide world of paranormal pastimes, where striking out might strike you dead. Editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner are your announcers for this all-new story collection of the most peculiar plays ever made… Sports fans live and die by their teams’ successes and failures—though not literally. But these fourteen authors have written spirited—in more ways than one—new tales of killer competitions that would make even the most die-hard players ask to be benched. These supernatural sporting stories are guaranteed to have you rooting for the home team…or else…

Goodreads.com

 

 

 

Edited by Charlaine Harris of Sookie Stackhouse series fame, along with co-editor Toni L.P. Kelner (they've previously collaborated on similar anthologies), these short stories are crafted by some of the biggest names in the supernatural / fantasy / sci-fi genres. Oh, and speaking of Sookie Stackhouse by the way, Harris includes a story featuring her into this mix.

 

Here, the stories are given a sports-themed twist just to keep things interesting. That's the concept anyway. After my reading experience, I came away feeling more like these were kind of like campfire stories... fun and mildly spooky in the moment but quickly forgettable once you're distanced from them. I also found the sports connection in many of the stories pretty loosely done. 

 

Each author gets a (usually comedic) bio blurb at the start of their story. I suspect each author wrote their own, but who knows. I'd say my favorite is the one for Mercedes Lackey, which opens with: "Mercedes Lackey was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 24, 1950. The very next day, the Korean War was declared. It is hoped that there is no connection between the two events."

 

Then there was the bio blurb of Adam-Troy Castro, the author of the Gustav Gloom series: "Adam-Troy Castro has historically brought the suck to any sport he has ever been coaxed into playing, but he has had a little bit more luck as a writer."

 

No surprise, my very favorite story in this collection was "Jammed" by Seanan McGuire, as she is one of my favorite authors and seeing her name on the cover was a primary reason for me purchasing the book in the first place. I can always count on her to come out with highly unique and wildly entertaining plots! I haven't yet gotten into the InCrytpid series, but I hear this story is supposed to fit into that world. 

 

In "Jammed", Antimony Price comes from a long line of monster hunters, but the Price family was supposed to be wiped out centuries ago. In this modern age she needs to keep a low profile, so she takes up the persona Annie Thompson, social worker / roller derby competitor (playing under the name Final Girl). At one of the roller derby meets, a girl from another team is murdered, her severed leg all that's left to identify. Looking at the leg, Antimony determines this was likely a non-human attacker. So, you can imagine that low-profile life is quickly eliminated as an option!

 

"I shove my phone into my pocket, shouting, 'Mom! I'm going to go fight a monster I can't identify yet!"

 

"Don't get decapitated, dear," she called back. 

 

I shook my head. "Parental oversight," I muttered, stepping outside. Sometimes it's hard to forget that I'm the youngest child in the family -- I came after the heir AND the spare, and my parents are happy if I make it through the day without setting anything on fire or dropping anyone who doesn't deserve it down a pit trap. Great for doing whatever I want without worrying about rules getting in my way, lousy if what I want is for my mother to realize that I'm running off to get myself killed and at least offer me an extra knife or something."

 

~ from "Jammed" by Seanan McGuire

 

The collection opens and closes with offerings from editors Harris & Kelner. It's a fun enough gathering of names in that you get to see them doing a little something different, creatively, with their craft, but most of these didn't leave me mindblown. I'd recommend solely off the Seanan McGuire story. 

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review 2018-01-11 18:45
After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard
After the End of the World (Carter & Lovecraft) - Jonathan L. Howard

 

At the end of the excellent CARTER & LOVECRAFT there was a major cliffhanger and I felt compelled to request an ARC of the next book. I have to admit I was disappointed with AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD.

 

The things I loved most in the universe that Jonathan Howard has created was the weirdness of it-the mysterious Mr. Weston who started everything off by showing up and awarding Dan Carter ownership of a bookshop, run by Emily Lovecraft. (Emily is black and you can almost hear Lovecraft turning over in his grave.) I also enjoyed an area called Waite's Bill, an isolated place on the shore where creepy, mysterious people live. (Not to mention the large amphibian-like creatures emerging from the water!) Unfortunately, other than Dan Carter and Emily, most of the mysterious fun things I liked from the first book were not here. 

 

The world has unfolded, (the major event which ended CARTER & LOVECRAFT), and we're now in a universe where we are great friends with Germany and the Holocaust never happened. A group of Germans working at Miskatonic University are trying to build a machine that will provide unlimited power without draining any natural resources. Mr. Weston makes a brief appearance and Carter gets involved as a security guard at MU.

 

From there, I feel like the tale crept away from the components that I enjoyed and veered into the area of weird science-fiction, with the entire group of scientists, (as well as Carter and Lovecraft),  traveling to the Aleutian Islands to continue their work on the power machine. The pacing slowed way down and I really couldn't have cared less about the machine, the Germans, or anything else for that matter. Events degenerated until the story was more like an action movie than the dark fiction horror story I was expecting. I don't care for action movies.

 

I still love Dan and Emily and am fascinated by Mr. Weston and the weird creatures, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series if there is another book. This case is one of those "It's me, not you" situations, I think, because everyone else seemed to love this book. While I admired the world building and the banter between my favorite characters, the meat of the story just didn't appeal to me. 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it. I'm sorry it's a little late.*

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review 2017-12-28 13:30
Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers by Joe Lansdale
Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers - Joe R. Lansdale

 

With a title like BUBBA AND THE COSMIC BLOOD-SUCKERS and an author like Joe Lansdale, how could anyone not want to read this book? Throw in the fact that this is the prequel to the awesome story BUBBA HO-TEP, and how could I refuse?

 

I've never seen the film of BUBBA HO-TEP, but I loved the tale with all of its warped humor and fun characters. There was less humor in this book, which I found disappointing, but there were some cool inter-dimensional monsters, as well as some freaky shadowy vampire-like creatures as minions and what's not fun about that?

 

The characters here were a mismatched bunch and I would like to see an entire novel based on the character of The Blind Man. (He may not be able to see, but all of his other skills as well as his psychic abilities are well honed.) I would also love to know more about Johnny, (sometime narrator of this tale) and John Henry, wielder of the giant hammer. Lastly, the horny house ghost also interested me. Unfortunately, this short novel moved so fast that I didn't get to know these characters as much as I would have liked.

 

BUBBA AND THE COSMIC BLOOD-SUCKERS was full of bloody horror action and a lot of fun, but I guess I was expecting a little more from the Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe Lansdale. But hey, a so-so Lansdale book is better than most good books by other authors, so if this premise sounds interesting to you, I say give it a go! You could do a lot worse.

 

*Thanks to Subterranean Press for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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