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review 2018-10-08 18:45
HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM edited by Christopher Golden
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden

Christmas! I really can't stand it, but this anthology appealed to me for the following reasons. 1. The killer cover! (For which I got to host the exclusive cover reveal on my blog, Char's Horror Corner, and it was very exciting!) 2. It was edited by Christopher Golden and I've had good luck with anthologies he's edited in the past. I'm happy to report this one was no exception!

 

This book was chock full of stories, nearly 400 pages worth, so I can't get into all of them here, but I will briefly talk about the tales that stood out for me:

 

YANKEE SWAP by John McIlveen. Wow! We go from a woman trying to avoid her sexually aggressive boss at a Christmas party, to her getting knocked over the head and waking up tied to a chair. This tale had it all-violence, surprises and plot twists along with a satisfying conclusion. Bravo! 5*

 

CHRISTMAS IN BARCELONA by Scott Smith. I loved Scott's A SIMPLE PLAN, but this tale was completely different from his usual stuff. I was able to guess the end just before the story got there, but that didn't spoil the fun at all. 4.5*

 

THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE CHRISTMAS HOTEL by Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe Lansdale. This was a perfect "ghost gets revenge" type story and I loved it, as I do most anything he writes.4.5*

 

 

LOVE ME by Thomas Sniegoski. This twisted little tale reminded me of the Tribble episode from Star Trek. What fun! 4*

 

GOOD DEEDS by Jeff Strand. I don't even know what to say about this one, but it's Jeff Strand. What else do I have to say, really? 4*

 

IT'S A WONDERFUL KNIFE BY Christopher Golden. I figured out the conclusion early on, but that didn't spoil the fun getting there. 3.5*

 

HOME by Tim Lebbon. This was a twisted little tale of the end of the world and Santa, albeit a Santa you would never recognize in a million years. 3.5*

 

Lastly, THE HANGMAN'S BRIDE by Sarah Pinborough. Sarah's books have quickly become some of my favorites in recent history, (and I'm glad I have a good-sized backlog to catch up with), but this tale really took the cake. My second favorite in this anthology, with a distinct Dickensian feel, young William and his soot-filled lungs stole my heart. 5*

 

Most anthologies are hit and miss with me-very rarely do all the stories hit their mark. In this case, though, it was pretty close to doing so, therefore I gave it a four star rating overall . Even if you hate Christmas, and you "Bah Humbug" with the best of them, this anthology has something for everyone-the variety is outstanding. So as the title suggests HARK people! Come and hear the angels scream!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for the e-ARC of this anthology in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-10-08 16:59
Lore: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold
Lore: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold - Brinda Berry,Karen Y. Bynum,Laura Diamond,Jayne A. Knolls,Theresa DaLayne,Cate Dean
Diverse Voices Square for Halloween Bingo!
 
 
Lore is a collection of six short stories that re-imagines folktales and mythology from around the world and places interesting and romantic twists into each.   Written by six different authors, each story has a unique feeling and setting.  
 
Shimmer takes the mermaid tale and gives it a fresh spin with Draven and Coral.  Draven is spending the summer at his father's cottage after a heartbreak when he sees Coral alone at night, seemingly drowning herself. Draven is compelled to help Coral, but she may not need it.  I really enjoyed these characters for the short time that we know them as well as the modernized mermaid mythology.  I did think it wrapped up a little too quickly, but that is the nature of short stories.
 
Between is a modern story of the Arabic djinn brought to a modern high school. Lucy and Natasha have made peace with their bodies and have found love with each other at fat camp this summer.  When Lucy returns home skinny, everything changes.  She is finally accepted into the popular group, the Royals.  However, being a lesbian does not fit their mold.  This one made it difficult to like any of the characters, but there was growth even within the confines of the short story.  I enjoyed the arc of the djinn the most and that Lucy and Sienna were able to realize that love wins over popularity. 
 
Sunset Moon incorporates lore from the Blackfeet Native American mythology in order to reawaken a troubled teen.  Eloise takes the rap for her boyfriend and now has one strike too many, it's either jail time or nine months at a juvenile work home.  While there, Eloise is forced to learn about her heritage and meets Ven.  Ven is bound to help Eloise through the darkness, but she must accept the light.  I really liked learning about the dreamcatcher lore as well as watching Eloise find hope in her life.  This is one that I would have loved to see develop into a longer story.
 
The Jewish Golem and Frankenstein's monster are combined in The Maker.  After Brett is left with a traumatic brain injury, courtesy of his now ex-girlfriend Cassandra, his life is changed forever and he is bent on revenge.  Unable to get out and about much by himself, Brett unearths his family's hidden manuscripts and makes a creature that will be sure to seduce Cassandra and humiliate her.  The Maker is definitely the creepiest story of the bunch, but also the most surprising.  The Golem is the best character of this story.  
 
A Beautiful Morning was one of my favorite stories, a tale of the Mayan sun god Kinish and flower goddess Ishel.  Their love for one another made perfect sense, but was forbidden.  This was a sweet romance that incorporated the destructive nature of some of the other Mayan gods that may have led to the downfall of the civilization. I really enjoyed these characters and the glimpse into the complicated lives of the Mayan deities.
 
The Barricades turned out to be another favorite of mine even though the premise seemed really strange to me.  Set in the future on another world, the Fae and humans have escaped a dying Earth.  They were set to live as equals, but the Ethernal Fae's powers have placed the above the humans in every way.  When the dying Eternal prince Daniel is found within the human area, a very caring human girl, Casey risks everything to save his life.  This was a very sweet and action packed story laced with magic, greed and romance.  A lot of development was packed into this short story that made it seem like much more.
 
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review 2018-10-03 12:01
The Story of Kullervo, J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Verlyn Flieger
The Story of Kullervo - J.R.R. Tolkien,Verlyn Flieger

I wasn't aware until I read this book that Tolkien has become a sufficiently widespread and intensive subject of study to have an academic journal entirely devoted to him and his works! As a direct result of this, we are presented with this book which is not part of Christopher Tolkien's apparent obsession with his father's imagined mythos, being instead edited by Verlyn Flieger.

 

It's a short, unfinished, stylistically dreadful tale that no sane person would publish alone based on its literary merit - so what's the point? The cynical might argue that for some time now the Tolkien estate has been milking a cash cow that is aging and drying up, producing lower and lower quality product. That may be so, but I don't think Flieger's motivations are cynical at all. This story, which is a very early example of Tolkien's creative output, appears to be a "missing link" between admiration of an existing work (The Kalevala) and inspiration for his own imagined work, specifically the Tale of the Children of Hurin and more generally the Silmarillion as a whole and Flieger sets out to demonstrate this. Hence this book is not really "Here's a forgotten story by the most influential fantasist in history, it's really good!" so much as, "If you're sufficiently interested in Tolkien, his imagined world and creative process, this little, badly written adaptation of a little-known (in English) Finnish folk-tale is important and you should have the opportunity to learn about it."

 

In that context, this book is worthwhile. Additionally, the biographical aspects of Tolkien's life that raise the personal parallels and significance this story would have had for its author are made clear along with how these developed into what I believe is Tolkien's best story (the above mentioned Children of Hurin). However, even with the attendant notes and essay, one would still have only a very small book. Bulking out the volume (to still very modest proportions) are two versions of an informal lecture on the Kalevala, the source material for the Story of Kullervo and it is this connection that made me interested in this book.

 

I read a translation of the Kalevala, a collection of Finnish folk ballads assembled into a vaguely narrative sequence, not long after the release of this book and it was amazing! To learn that it was a heavy influence on Tolkien was fascinating and here is the book that is going to tell me what the influences were and what he thought about the source material. So this book may not be for you; if you just want a good story - forget it. If you don't know or don't care about the source material - probably not that interesting. If you don't care about how Tolkien's justifiably famous works came into being - not worth your time. But for me - though the story itself was the least rewarding aspect - well, I ripped through the supporting material in no time, even if the material it supports had me plodding like I was trying to find my way through the Finnish bogs of its setting.

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text 2018-10-02 16:29
Reading progress update: I've read 49 out of 192 pages.
The Story of Kullervo - J.R.R. Tolkien,Verlyn Flieger

Hurrgh. That was almost unreadable, except for the verse parts.

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review 2018-10-01 22:12
Slow to start, but definitely worth reading!
The Storm Runner - J.C. Cervantes,Jennifer Cervantes

*I received an ARC from NetGalley. This does not affect my review.*

First off, I'll admit that had it not been for a NetGalley email letting readers know about The Storm Runner and Dragon Pearl that were inspired and sponsored by Rick Riordan, I probably...perhaps very likely would not have heard of these, or picked them up so quickly... I loved the Percy Jackson series growing up, and like with any of my favorite authors, if they talk about other authors and books, I have to check them out! (Which is why this isn't a 5 star review.)


That said, while I wasn't immediately pulled into this one, I loved the idea of learning about Mayan mythology as I read this, and once the gods started getting introduced I quickly found myself wanting to know more! That was a big thing, since I was afraid this wouldn't be able to stand up to other mythology stories I've read like the mentioned Percy Jackson series, and even things like Gaiman's Norse Mythology. Not to worry, since I loved it! (Although all those I and X names kind of got confusing! I still managed to figure it out though.) If I was asked about a favorite character...? I don't have one, and there was a part where pretty much each of the main characters was able to stand up and have the spotlight. I loved so many little things that I can't even begin to list, with or without spoilers I just know I would miss something. Why not read it? I'm sure you will find your own favorite things about this book!

Source: adventuresthruwonderlandreviews.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/arc-review-the-storm-runner
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