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review 2017-09-27 12:25
Man's World
Wolfshead - Robert Bloch,Robert E. Howard

This my first stab at Howard, of Conan fame, and I don't know how to rate it, or if I'll ever read something by him again.

 

In favor it has the fact that it has no compunctions about pulling in elements from any source, and mimic any style to flavor and serve the current story. Makes for diverse settings and background mythos, always an entertaining plus.

 

The downside: It is so heavily male. I'd call it misogyny (and it is), but women so seldom make even a peep appearance in this volume, and affect the stories none at all, it goes past contempt or hate to total disregard territory (I went into minute detail here, so scant they are). It is a man's world he writes, and what makes it worth it are guns, swords and fighting monsters so you can tell a tale *eye-roll* White man's world. Blond white man's world... yeah, you get the drift.

 

So, the run of the stories:

 

- The Black Stone: Cthultuish account, with a nice dash of bookish love for ancient tomes. The name Xuthltan comes up.

The flogged dancer, and the sacrificed girl.


- Valley of the Worm: Norse myth flavored epic (Aesirs). Big on white and man.

Some mention of women being fierce too. None named, one appeared a second without lines.

- Wolfshead: Swashbuckling European nobles in Africa, and a werewolf. Reminded me of Quartermain's adventures.

One pretty virgin, one flirtatious twit (who might be the best female character of the whole book, for what it is).

- Fire of Asshurbanipal: Hunting for treasure in the dessert turns Lovecraftian. Another mention of Xuthltan.

None appear.

- House of Arabu: More blond male. If nothing else, the pretty pictures it painted in my mind and the hour reading on Sumerian mythology it spurred may make it worth it. Aesirs' world. Fits the demon square.

One assassin courtesan (that sounds like it could be sooo cool, but no), one backstabbing, abused slave girl, one demoness, geee, we are overflowing.

- Horror from the Mound: Vampires in the old west.

Again, not even mentioned.

 

Since it's an anthology that runs the gamut, this one could fit Vampires, Demons, Supernatural, Monsters, Classic Horror, likely a couple more if you squint, and my pick:

 

 

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review 2017-09-05 19:37
Victorian (?) Ghost Snooze
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill

I'll let the book itself tell it

 

my main sensation was one of tedium and a certain lethargy, combined with a desire to finish the job

 

As a love letter and homage to Victorian ghosts stories, it fell very short. Hill clearly is familiar with the elements, which is necessary, but then fumbles them. A little flare is essential in these type of tales, specially when it's a throw-back to the style case.

 

As it is, it managed to bore me and made me struggle to finish the short pages. Everything is telegraphed pages and pages in advance, so by the middle I was just rolling my eyes and waving a "get on with it". No surprises, and a foregone conclusion.

 

It is not dreadful. It might appeal to a kid during that starting-to-read horror-addiction phase. And the beginning was somewhat promising. The jump-in-time matrioshka thing could have been interesting if it had been panned out, but only the framing was kept, and all the head-ache of years-math was for nothing. Seriously, what was with that house-buying reminiscing? Useless fat. And the morning-at-the-office while catching the train... tell it straight if it has no purpose!.

 

Then there are the issues of character calling things Victorian. Given the three times we are working with (the maybe 50 years old man writing, the recount of buying his house when he was some 35, and main story when he was 22/23, where a car appears) it could be that the protagonist is applying more modern terms to his past thinking. But I feel like either the author tried to get a cute wink at the fourth wall and it fell dead, or she forgot to stay in time (since she seems to be aiming for an "authentic" Victorian ghost story).

 

This last might be me over-estimating how long it took people to call the Victorian era such, and identify things and styles with it.

 

Anyway, I'm done roasting. Not awful or offensive, but I'm not reading another of hers.

 

 

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review 2017-06-04 22:35
I'm feeling old
Everneath - Brodi Ashton

*sigh* It is evident I'm not the public for this book. While some of the alogoric content inside this was something that is important that is adressed, the whole felt all over the place. I think the part most inconsistent was Nik herself: selfish woe is me then all goody sacrificing. It could be that most of what I found annoying, or had me raging, was just age related stupidity, but *shrug*

 

I had also some specific issues: Jack is such a Stu. Somebody should have called Nik's dad on his bulshit: maybe he's trying, but he sucks at it and a chat was owed. No one really adresses how messed up Nik's little brother must be (I can't even remember his name).

 

At any rate, I'm likely done with this genre.

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review 2017-05-27 21:17
Mind Snooze
Baby on the Oregon Trail (Harlequin Historical Romance) - Lynna Banning

I'm having trouble staying focused, so I decided on a read decidedly less taxing for my mind and soul than Wharton (Age of Innocence left me wreaked) for my Victorian Era Booklikes-opoly roll (this one's set in 1867).

 

This was a quick and easy read that asked for no effort. It was bland and put me in a state of numbness akin to boredom such that I didn't even get annoyed at some of the silly bits. About the only thing I liked was the 11-year-old-girl's pluck. So not the book for me.

 

That said, it's not objectively BAD. It just felt flat for me. I was expecting something more, a better use of the elements, and they are plenty that could have panned so interestingly.

 

Meh.

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review 2017-05-17 00:23
Incoming Rant
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

You know, I'd read in some posh literary review that Jake and Brett were two of Hemingway's most lovable characters, but I really can't see how that could be. I get he was painting an era, but I had the same difficulties I had with Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby": I was bored by the characters misery (first world high class problems, people, that's what you have!); and I was enraged by the chaos and destruction they sowed all around themselves with their callow carelessness. Stupid egotistical brats.

And that's the other thing: they ARE reacting like brats. "Our parent's culture and ideology crumbled down and betrayed us! Let's rage and get drunk, and screw everyone around!" Except, you know, they are in their middle thirties. I don't say you have to have your shit together by that time or any other, God knows you never really do, and life has a marvelous way of sucker punch you when you think you have it balanced, but the over the top woe-is-me shit you are supposed to learn to manage after the hormones of puberty stabilize.

Every generation has challenges, and I reckon those that were born around the turn of the 20th century had a suck-fest of a raw deal, but what I saw inside this book was not just depression and insecurity over lost direction and of self, but a total lack of care for other people. I saw the phrase "moral bankruptcy" around, and I think that's and exact description, but it was treated as an excuse for how these particular characters act, because apparently it was a pervasive thing all around. News-flash: if everyone is a terrible person, and you act like everyone, you are still a terrible person.

 

So no, I have no love for these characters. Now, do I have any use for this book? *sigh* Thorny issue. If it was an accurate representation of the generation, I have to loose any surprise at seeing them fall right back into war; they all felt suicidal to me, and self-centered enough to blow up the world along with themselves.

 

So here's what I think: maybe it's useful, but I did not like it.

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