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review 2017-02-17 17:01
Cyclops Road by Jeff Strand
Cyclops Road - Jeff Strand

Evan Portin has just lost his wife and is having a very bad day at work. But he comes upon a woman being mugged and finds that she doesn't need his help.

Harriet is a strange one for sure. She's never been in a car or seen a cellphone. Safe to say she's been pretty isolated. Oh, and she's on her way to kill a cyclops.

I know, right? Someone has a few screws loose. Maybe...?

Follow Evan as he takes the ride of his life.



I found this book entertaining as all get out, and unique, and very funny! I loved it! It was very different from the usual Strand novels. Can't say much more so I don't give anything away. I definitely recommend it though. It's not actually horror. I would put it more in the fantasy, sci-fi category.


4 stars



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review 2017-01-26 14:15
The Last Valkyrie by Jeremy Robinson
The Last Valkyrie - Jeremy Robinson,Tori Paquette

Excited to be going back to the world of Antarktos! Although this book can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading Antarktos Rising and, one of my all time favorites, The Last Hunter.

This is the story of Solomon's daughters, Aquila and Norah, as they learn to fight and survive the underground realm of Antarktos when Aquila is taken by the Nephilim, who want to turn her into a hunter. Norah must overcome her fear of inadequacy in order to save her sister and on the way, learn about her amazing power.


Highly recommend (the whole series)!

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review 2016-10-24 02:14
The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel - Katherine Arden

As Katherine Arden herself states in her author’s note at the end of The Bear and the Nightingale, she does take some liberties with Russian names, as well as the history in which her story takes place. However, her capable storytelling allows the reader to set aside this knowledge and simply enjoy the story she has created. 


Arden’s novel is visually detailed. It is easy to picture the setting and the various set pieces of this story, from Pyotr Vladimirovich’s great house and the Grand Prince’s vast hall adorned with a heavily laden dining table, to the great battle scene that rounds out the story at the novel’s end. The story juxtaposes images that trick the reader’s sensibilities. What initially appears to be a stark, blank canvas, is actually teaming with abundant and colorful detail. Even the shadows that lurk through Konstantin’s bed chamber offer essential insights not only in terms of plot, but in terms of the internal conflict that faces Konstantin as well. 


While a reader might think that such attention to detail might hamper their enjoyment of the story, that is not the case here. Arden’s prose flows easily. Her descriptions become part of the action, supporting the characters and their interactions with each other. When characters are talking, it’s fun to also picture on the side a little domovoi, or house elf, sitting by a clay oven with a long, smoking beard, munching on burnt crusts of leftover bread. The folkloric elements complement the realistic aspects of the story well. The characters have real presence. Their various conflicts are very natural and real, despite the supernatural elements that are ever-present. The petty jealousies, fears, fervent devotions, honest love of family and daily toils help ground and balance the novel, maintaining the reader’s interest throughout. 


While the story is entertaining, some readers might balk at the novel’s somewhat abrupt ending. Though there is a definite conclusion, Arden leaves some details open-ended, enough to make a potentially satisfying sequel. After reading and conducting some research on Katherine Arden’s website, she states that this book is the first of a trilogy—information I did not know prior to reading. In truth, I’m glad and can’t wait to revisit the feisty Vasya and her folkloric world, and perhaps see further intrigues related to the ever troubled Konstantin.


Copy provided by NetGalley

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review 2016-10-03 08:02
The King - Kader Abdolah
The King - Nancy Forest Flier,Kader Abdolah

I failed utterly to get into this at all.


I know this is entirely my fault: the book, which is translated from the Dutch and tells a story about the modernisation of Persia (modern-day Iran) through the eyes of a weak shah, clearly draws on a literary tradition that I have no experience of. It's told as a fairytale of sorts - simple language, rare dialogue, events often summarised rather than experienced. Historical characters are fictionalised, and I think a century or so of history is collapsed into the reign of one shah, which makes the historical era hard to place.


In other words, the novel seems to be going for a certain kind of fictionalisation of history - making it, almost, into legend.


Which is interesting, in its way. I think it's probably doing some interesting thinking somewhere in there. But I just couldn't get emotionally invested.

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review 2016-09-11 14:37
Rags & Bones - eds. Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt
Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales - Holly Black,Kelley Armstrong,Rick Yancey,Neil Gaiman,Carrie Ryan,Saladin Ahmed,Melissa Marr,Margaret Stohl,Kami Garcia,Tim Pratt,Gene Wolfe,Garth Nix,Charles Vess

Rags & Bones is billed as a book of "New Twists on Timeless Tales", which, silly me, I thought would mean a book of fairytale retellings. (I love fairytale retellings, especially because I'm on a Once Upon A Time kick at the moment.) Although there are a couple of fairytales covered - "Sleeping Beauty" and "Rumpelstiltskin" - most are riffs on Stories that the Writers Happened to Like, which ends up being a rather broad range of inspiration, from Spenser's Faerie Queene through to Kate Chopin's The Awakening. All the stories, however, are somehow fantastical or science fictional, so it's not entirely random. I guess.


The thing with Rags & Bones is that I'm just not sure what the point of the book is. As is admittedly the case with most anthologies, the quality of the stories ranges from highly mediocre to excellent; and most of them, even the more engaging ones, don't feel like they add anything to the original text. Do we really need a retelling of "The Monkey's Paw" set in a post-zombie-apocalypse America? Why?


Without a coherent theme, the book just feels a bit like a vanity project for the editors, with Neil Gaiman's name stuck on the front to help it sell.


Reviews for the individual stories:


That the Machine May Progress Eternally - Carrie Ryan (after E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops"). I haven't read the original, but this felt like one of the more pointless stories; an addendum to Forster's story rather than a tale in its own right. A boy wanders into a vast underground city and...that's it. It also has a rather unpleasant anti-technology slant to it.


Losing Her Divinity - Garth Nix (after Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King"). Again, I haven't read the original. I enjoyed this one, though (in fact, I think it was probably my favourite), mainly because Nix has a real gift for worldbuilding; the story of a man who comes across a goddess on a train, there's a sense of an entire functional world sitting beyond the margins of the pages, waiting to spring into life. The ending is wonderfully creepy, too.


The Sleeper and the Spindle - Neil Gaiman (after "Sleeping Beauty"). As far as I can tell, Rags & Bones is where this story first appeared before being published as a book in its own right. A queen goes to investigate a sleeping plague that threatens her land. I was annoyed by it for the same reason I get annoyed with all of Neil Gaiman's writing: it turns female bodies into creepy decoration while doing feminist lip service. Did we really need the detail about the cobwebs between the serving girl's ample breasts? No, we did not.


The Cold Corner - Tim Pratt (after Henry James' "The Jolly Corner"). A man returns to his small home town in the American South; weird shit starts happening. I felt like it took a long time to set up its premise, and then ended where it should have begun.


Millcara - Holly Black (after J. Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla). That title. Why. It's a retelling of Carmilla from the vampire's point of view, only set in modern-day America. Another one that felt just a bit pointless without its original.


When First We Were Gods - Rick Yancey (after Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birth-Mark"). In a future in which the rich can live forever by transferring between bodies, a married man falls in love with his mortal housemaid. I quite enjoyed this - as in, I wanted to keep reading for the love story - but, like "That The Machine May Progress Eternally", it felt like one of those 70s SF short stories which exist solely to point out the evils of technology. Also, "death makes life meaningful" is one of those truisms that hardly ever gets questioned. It may be true, but it's been an SF crutch for time immemorial and it's not enough nowadays to pin a story on.


Sirocco - Margaret Stohl (after Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto). On the set of a film adaptation of The Castle of Otranto, one of the star's caravans plunges over a cliff and two teenagers fall in love. Tedious.


Awakened - Melissa Marr (after Kate Chopin's The Awakening). A selkie story, and another story which kept me reading even if I didn't love it. I think it's a nicely redemptive take on Chopin's story, even if it's not as powerful; one that offers freedom as an alternative to death.


New Chicago - Kelley Armstrong (after W.W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw"). The aforesaid zombie-apocalypse retelling of the story about a monkey's paw which grants three cursed wishes. There are probably interesting things you could do with this story to subvert it; Armstrong doesn't.


The Soul Collector - Kami Garcia (after "Rumpelstiltskin"). A policewoman with a troubled past has to go undercover with the criminal organisation she escaped years previously. A mysterious figure helps her infiltrate the group - for a price, dearie. It doesn't feel like a retelling in the traditional sense, but it is one of the handful of stories here that feels like it's doing something useful with the original.


Without Faith, Without Love, Without Joy - Saladin Ahmed (after Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene). One of the best stories in the book, because, again, it does something useful with the original: reimagining Book 1 of The Faerie Queene (mercifully without the rhyme) through the eyes of the Saracen knight Sansfoy, it's a story about the injustice of coopting someone into a narrative that they have no voice in.


Uncaged - Gene Wolfe (after William B. Seabrook's "The Caged White Werewolf of the Saraban"). A man rescues the wife of a dead plantation owner somewhere in Africa - but what is her secret? It's very Kipling-ish and slightly colonial and not very interesting.

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