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review 2017-09-11 21:24
STRANGE WEATHER ARC Review
Strange Weather: Four Short Novels - Joe Hill

Read for "Modern Masters of Horror:"

 

I was two people when reading this collection of short novels. I read the first two stories ('Snapshot' and 'Loaded') mere days before my best friend took her own life. I read the latter two entries ('Aloft' and 'Rain') after. Naturally, my mind was elsewhere when reading the final two stories — but they were good. Very good. Especially 'Aloft'. I'm terrified of heights, so that one got to me. 

After The Fireman, my faith in Joe Hill had been shaken a bit . . . But my faith is reaffirmed! These are four excellent, scary stories. Highly recommended. Would love to give a more in-depth review, but I am medicated and just want to sleep. 

Snapshot - 4 
Loaded - 5
Aloft - 4.5
Rain - 5 

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.

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review 2017-09-11 03:19
Review: Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land (Remembering Tomorrow) - Robert A. Heinlein

This was my first time reading anything by Heinlein.  I really enjoyed the first half, and I was pleasantly surprised by how readable and entertaining it was, but I disliked the second half quite a bit.

 

The main premise is that there is life on Mars, and humanity has only just begun to travel there.  As a result of the first trip, a baby is born on Mars, his parents die, and he is raised by Martians.  When the book begins, Mike, the baby in question, is now an adult and he has just traveled back to Earth to meet his race.

 

I thought the first part was great.  It was a bit dated in some of its attitudes and beliefs, but the story was interesting and I really liked how Heinlein built up this alien culture which looks at things so differently from humans, to the point that some things simply can’t be translated in terms humans can understand and vice versa.  The characters were relatively interesting and likeable.  Even Jubal was likeable at first.  I had the impression, without knowing anything about Heinlein’s personality or beliefs, that Jubal was Heinlein’s voice in this book, representing the ideal older man and expressing the ideas that Heinlein wanted to convey to his readers.

 

The second half devolved into mysticism, orgies, and, worst of all, monologues, and I didn’t care for the ending.  But my biggest complaint was with the monologues.  They weren’t terribly long, but they were frequent.  The author, usually through Jubal, seemed to have a lot of opinions on religion, philosophy, families, and cultural taboos that he wanted to express.  My problem really wasn’t with the opinions themselves.  I agreed with some and disagreed with others.  I was horrified by a few and amused by others.  It’s just that they were presented in a manner that felt too preachy, and that pulled me out of the story.  And at that point, the story itself became less interesting and everything felt like a vehicle to deliver the monologues.

 

I have a couple of Heinlein’s other books on my reading list, and I’ve seen them compared more favorably to this one, so I intend to cycle back around and give him another try eventually.  When he was just telling me a story and not trying to preach at me, I enjoyed his writing style.  On the sites where I can give half stars, I’m rating this as 2.5.  On Goodreads, I decided to round up to 3 based on the first half and parts of the second half.

 

Next Book

In the Night Garden, the first book of The Orphan’s Tales by Catherynne Valente, another new-to-me author.

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review 2017-09-07 03:07
Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow

 

Haunted Nights collects several previously unpublished stories from an array of excellent authors-with the bonus that they're all connected- by Halloween. It may not be exactly the Halloween that we as Americans are used to, but the seeds are still the same-whether they're sown in Scotland or Ohio. I found quite a few stories to shine for me in this anthology and here are a few of them:

 

John Langan's Lost in the Dark is one of my favorite types of haunting tales-the disconcerting kind. That House of Leaves eeriness combined with a cool framing device and several stories within a story all equal out to a very satisfied Char.

 

With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds by Seanan McGuire was impressive and convinced me that I need to give more of her work a try. Always remember that those Halloween tricks can get you into trouble-especially if you trick the wrong person.

 

A Small Taste of the Old Country by Jonathan Maberry. This one was predictable, but man, I just wanted it to happen so badly. When it did, I couldn't have been happier.

 

The Seventeen Year Itch by Garth Nix would have made one hell of a Twilight Zone episode. This story put me in mind of those old horror and sci-mags back in the day. There is a lot of punch, (and scratching!), packed into this short story.

 

A Flicker of Light on Devil's Night by Kate Jonez is a downer of a tale, but I can't deny how powerfully it was written to make me feel that way.

 

All Through the Night by Elise Forier Edie. What another sad, sad tale! Halloween is not all fun and games and neither is the horror genre. Sometimes it's fun and imaginative, (see The Seventeen Year Itch), but sometimes it's all too realistic. Often it's those hard to look at stories, the ones about the lives of real people and the hardships they go through, that are the most horrific of all.

 

The Turn by Paul Kane. This is the perfect title-because it's exactly what you want-NO-are compelled to do when you hear footsteps behind you on a dark street. But what if you would be okay, if only you didn't turn. Would you be able not to?

 

John Little's The First Lunar Halloween and Jeffrey Ford's Witch Hazel rounded out my favorites in this collection.

 

I loved the fact that ALL of these stories were new and I adored the connection they had to Halloween. I've previously been disappointed in collections where I've discovered, (too late!), that I'd already read many of the stories within. These were fresh tales and featured some fresh, (at least to me), authors, as well as some tried and true. It is my excited opinion that this anthology belongs on any horror lover's shelves-but especially to those of us that have a love of all things Halloween!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: Haunted Nights 

 

 *Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

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text 2017-09-06 04:13
Reading progress update: I've read 63%.
Strange Weather: Four Short Novels - Joe Hill

Currently reading the third story in this collection, 'Aloft,' about a skydiving venture that goes... badly, to say the least. 

 

I have a major fear of heights. I'm stopping reading for tonight because this story has given me an anxiety attack. No hyperbole. My reaction is a sign of excellent writing on Mr. Hill's part... but my nerves!!!

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text 2017-09-05 22:22
Reading progress update: I've read 56%.
Strange Weather: Four Short Novels - Joe Hill

I hate comparing Joe Hill to his father, but 'Loaded' felt like vintage King — the King of Cujo and  Apt Pupil — set in the modern era. A novella about gun violence and racial profiling in America, I was on edge from the start and terrified shortly thereafter. The ending made me actually scream, and cry a little. DAMN. 

 

Even if the last two stories in this collection don't live up to 'Loaded,' this release will still get a high rating from me. 

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