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review 2018-02-24 18:05
All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones
All Aunt Hagar's Children - Edward P. Jones

I think I am done with this one, at least for now. I've read the first 5 out of 14 stories (132 pages) and am finding it a drag, though I loved The Known World years ago and later on liked Lost in the City. The going felt slow, and the stories felt cluttered and sometimes confusing. Not all readers will share my short story preferences - I like them to be streamlined and to end with a bang - but that didn't really fit with these stories, which tend to meander along with two or three subplots that often don't reach any resolution or have much to do with the main plot. They're well-written and I'd hardly say they were objectively bad, but I'm not feeling it right now.

Some commentary on the individual stories, because I always want to see more of that in reviews of collections:

"In the Blink of God's Eye" - a young couple moves from Virginia to D.C. at the beginning of the 20th century, and begins to grow apart after she adopts a baby abandoned in their yard. I liked this one, though I felt it was a little padded out with the stories of secondary characters.

"Spanish in the Morning" - a young girl starts at Catholic school and skips ahead to first grade. The ending of this one baffled me.

She falls at her desk when standing up and thinking about how she's not happy about the treatment of a couple of other students, and then we rejoin her in bed at home with a wound in her hand and her family saying she doesn't have to return to that school. I couldn't tell whether she'd had a seizure or medical episode - which would make sense practically but not thematically and wouldn't explain the wound - or whether she spoke up and the teacher stabbed her in the hand, fitting in with a story an older relative told her earlier about a teacher who had a pitchfork like the Devil. Which would make sense thematically but is bizarre.

(spoiler show)


"Resurrecting Methuselah" - an American soldier in Korea is diagnosed with breast cancer, and his wife decides to leave him. In this one it was the motivations that confused me. We spend a lot of time with the wife, including a long sequence in Hawaii on the way to Korea in which she buys some candy she remembers from her childhood to find it completely different.

Then for some reason that was unclear to me, she immediately gives up on visiting her husband and flies home instead. My guess is that, having spent her adolescence as an invalid, she wasn't willing to have sickness in her house or around her daughter. But what does the candy have to do with it?

(spoiler show)


"Old Boys, Old Girls" - a young man is imprisoned for the second of two murders he's committed, does his time, and once on the outside, has to figure out how his family and an old lover fit into his life. I liked this one, which is interesting and doesn't have room for random subplots.

"All Aunt Hagar's Children" - a Korean war vet wants to head out to Alaska to pan for gold, but the older women of his family ask him to look into the murder of one of their sons instead, and he does. This was interesting but the end unconvincing.

He sees the murdered man's wife strike a powerful pose and concludes that she was the murderer, although there are plenty of other suspects.

(spoiler show)

And this one too grew weeds: it spends a lot of time on a stranger who died in front of the narrator getting off a streetcar, which does nothing in the story other than to haunt him, and I didn't believe for a minute that he somehow memorized her last words when they were full sentences in a language he didn't speak. Strings of unfamiliar words are unmemorable gibberish to me, and I'm good at foreign languages.

At any rate, I'm certainly not denying that there's merit here, but this wasn't the right time for this book, so it's heading back to the library.

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review 2018-02-23 18:45
Corpse Cold: New American Folklore by John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan
Corpse Cold: New American Folklore - Chad Wehrle,John Brhel,Joseph T. Sullivan

 CORPSE COLD: NEW AMERICAN FOLKLORE is a nice volume of tales which also includes outstanding illustrations. Just look at that impressive cover to get an idea of the drawings within.

 

The stories, however, didn't entirely float my boat. While well written for the most part, they are lacking that certain punch that I enjoy in short tales. This is just my personal view and for someone that hasn't read the hundreds of horror stories that I have? This may seem like the best collection of stories EVER.

 

My favorite was IT THAT DECAYS. If you weren't afraid of the dentist before, you will be now!

 

AUTOPLAY ON: This was a fun little tale featuring a You Tube channel that was left on all night. (I guess it's best not to do that?)

 

MOSS LAKE ISLAND was a neat story that took a weird turn about a third of the way in. It gave me the creeps much like IT THAT DECAYS. I like the creeps.

 

FRIENDSHIP: BURIED AND DEAD. This tale had a cool concept for a theme park. I would like to go there!

 

A CASKET FOR MY MOTHER cracked me up, especially since this book was funded in much the same way as the main character wants to fund the purchase of a casket for his mom. (I'm not sure it was meant to be funny, but hey, I'm a sick person-just look at the stuff I read!

 

A quick word about the illustrations? (Okay, two words.) They're fabulous!

CORPSE COLD would be a perfect introduction into the world of dark fiction for an adult who is not that familiar with or well-read in the genre. Perhaps someone who has participated in a round of campfire storytelling and wants more? Seasoned horror readers, like myself, prefer that extra punch to the gut and a tad more blood/gore as well.

 

Recommended for those new(er) to horror fiction and dark tales!

 

*I received an e-copy of this book free in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-02-22 02:48
Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes
Burning Girls - Veronica Schanoes

*Enters room filled with cobwebs and dust* 

 

Uh... hello? Is anyone still here? *Coughs from ball of dust* 

 

Phew! It's been a while since I've been able to sit down and read anything. Life has not been kind to me. The beginning of 2018 was so peaceful and productive... for about two weeks. Then Hell came and slapped me in the face and I've been trying to get back on my feet ever since. And let me tell you, it has not been easy. However, I am back and I am ready to tackle my TBR head-on! With that said, I was able to read a short story which I enjoyed quite a bit.

 

Now, seeing as how it's been a while since I've read anything, I decided starting off with a short story to ease me back into reading was a good move to make. And I was right. I read Burning Girls from Tor.com and it was such a harrowing read. It follows a Jewish girl's life living in Poland where she faces discrimination from the Cossacks and how magic can be a double-edge sword for the young witch. This short story covers so many topics. From Jewish tradition to history to even mythology. I was intrigued by the story from the very start.

 

Schanoes's writing style is very crisp. Since her main character is rather blunt and cold-hearted, her writing showed that very same bluntness without ever becoming bland. She has an incredibly flowing writing style and I really am interested in reading more of her works in the future.

 

As for her characters, I felt that a lot of them didn't have enough time to develop into fully fledged beings. I suppose that's what happens sometimes with short stories. Her main character, Deborah, was the only one that actually showed any type of growth. Although she is someone I consider to be highly unlikeable, she does learn to empathize a little with those around her and learns not to judge as harshly as she did at the beginning of the story. Shayna, Deborah's sister, throughout most of the story acted like a petulant child, which annoyed me greatly. I did, however, enjoyed her transformation towards the end of it. Still, I wish I got to know these characters a bit more before reading the end of the story.

 

Speaking of the ending, wow. That was well done and fit well with the rest of the story. I liked how it grabs you and reminds you of the harshness of reality. Life is rough and you don't always get what you hoped for no matter how hard you try... and that sucks. Man, this story made me feel so many emotions!

 

In short, read this story. It's really good. I did have my problems with some of the characters but I did enjoy the magical and fairy tale elements. If you love learning about Jewish culture, fairy tales, and a bit of history, read this story. It's quite the harrowing, dark read, but a good one nonetheless. 

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review 2018-02-21 19:27
Manbot - Scarlet Blackwell
Adorable and sweet story filled with funny and heartwarming touching moments.
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text 2018-02-20 18:24
Back in the news
Shattered Dreams: The Story of Charlotte Fedders - Charlotte Fedders,Laura Malone Elliott

 

 

Charlotte Fedders is back in the news.

 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/19/trump-administrations-domestic-violence-scandal-resonates-abused-ex-reagan-official/326179002/

 

Last night -- Monday, 19 February 2018 -- Rachel Maddow featured a follow-up story on Rob Porter, the White House Staff Secretary who was forced to resign when it was revealed that he had abused his ex-wives.

 

Porter was not the first in the current administration to run afoul of his own shameful (?) past.  Andy Puzder had been nominated for Labor Secretary, but was forced to withdraw when similar allegations against him were made.  Puzder's ex-wife had claimed she was a guest (in disguise) on the Oprah Winfrey show years ago and detailed the abuse she had suffered. 

 

A search for the tape turned up pretty much nothing, until  . . .

 

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/puzder-oprah-tape-235077

 

A link to my review of Shattered Dreams from a couple weeks ago.

 

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1639764/nightmares-revisited

 

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