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review 2018-01-16 22:45
Family Legacies
Carter & Lovecraft - Jonathan L. Howard

The Early 20th Century writer HP Lovecraft has spawned a whole sub-genre of horror dedicated to his ideas, often called the Cthulhu Mythos or Lovecraftian horror. Not surprising that nearly 100 years later, people are still re-imagining his work and characters. "Carter and Lovecraft" is a different spin on Lovecraft. What if Lovecraft, frankly a huge bigot and racist, had descendants of color and one of them ran a bookshop? What if one of his recurring characters, Randolph Carter, actually existed, and his descendant was a police officer? And they team up in a story? Well, that's this book. Daniel Carter is a detective who has lived through the trauma of his partner killing himself in front of him after they rescue a kid from a serial killer. His last words referring to "the twist". Carter resigns from the police and becomes a private detective. Shortly thereafter, he inherits a bookstore from a person he never knew in Providence, Rhode Island. When he goes down there, he meets Mina Lovecraft, an African American woman who runs the bookstore for her uncle, who disappeared months ago and has been heard from since. Around the same time, Carter is hired on a case that leads to some very strange murders committed by a rogue mathematician. Could all these things be related? Yes. So this is a very strange book. It's relatively short, but there's a lot here to chew on. Howard knows his Lovecraft. This book is full of nuggets and easter eggs for Lovecraftian enthusiasts. I was encouraged to look up some elements of the story, and it gets deep into the Mythos. I think he captured the aspect of Lovecraft in that you feel like you have no idea about what's going on and you probably won't find out. He also touches on the visceral horror that is integral to Lovecraft. In some ways, he develops some aspects of the Mythos better. His characters are more fleshed out and are used as more than devices to spread the feeling of fear and fatalism about an indifferent universe. He picks up some concepts and themes from some of Lovecraft's stories and creates a new story out of them set in the 21st Century. But my favorite part is how Howard subversively dissects Lovecraft's bigotry and racism. Mina is a descendant would have done Lovecraft proud if he could get past his white supremacy and racism. She's thoughtful, intelligent, emotionally stable, well-read, and loyal and very strong. She had a matter-of-fact approach to weirdness, which is enviable, considering some of the events that happen in this family. She seems to be the antidote to Lovecraft's claustrophobic fear of the Other and conviction that some people are just genetically inferior. Daniel Carter is a good co-lead. He's a decent guy. As a cop, he tends to be a skeptic about things, but in the face of weirdness, he doesn't shut down, he follows the lead. I like that he had to confront his own hidden prejudices and comes out a better man after he did so. He does feel at times the helplessness in the face of events beyond their comprehension that is emblematic of Lovecraft's protagonists, but doesn't give into and doesn't allow it to break his mind. There's a developing connection between Carter and Lovecraft, but it's nascent. They become friends, and its likely what they go through will only strengthen that bond. It is possible that things may become romantic over time. But more importantly, they know that they have each others' backs. Of course, there had to be some weird people, because it's Lovecraft. The rogue mathematician, the Waites, femme fatales who are simultaneously sexy but also deeply wrong, and their brain dead spouses, the mysterious lawyer who informs Carter of the bequest. Enough to make any reader feel uneasy about everything. So why the <b>3.5/5.0 star </b>rating? The main feeling I came out of this was "What did I just read?" It feels short to me. It was a book that kept my interest, and I liked the main characters, but I also felt like there was a lot that I didn't get or understand when it ended. There are some gruesome elements to this story and subject matter that made me uncomfortable. This one is not for young readers. Frankly, I was a bit disturbed by some imagery. The rogue mathematician who discovers a way to manipulate reality is a profoundly damaged individual lacking in morals. His acts are unconscionable and bizarrely cruel. To him, murder is manipulating the odds. It's always hard to read about people like this for me. Readers who like having the questions will enjoy this book. I think I would have preferred a longer book that delved a little deeper into those unanswered questions. This is going to be a series, so maybe things will be more fleshed out in later books. I like the main characters and the concept, so I'll keep reading.

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review 2017-01-29 05:02

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: 1952Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: 1952 by Mike Mignola

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weird. Yeah, I know that 'weird' is essential to Hellboy. But this was really weird. A hodge podge of horror with science fiction. Hellboy is awesome as always. His team kind of blurs together for me. Good action, but nothing that stood out and made me say wow. Having said that, it's Hellboy, so it's good.

View all my reviews

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-07-18 21:18
How John Taylor Surprised Me With His Beliefs About Good and Evil -- A Review of Paths Not Taken (Nightside #5)
Paths Not Taken - Simon R. Green


My Thoughts


The first instance ever that I have read the words jet-black describing the MC's mom's hair. The thing with jet-black is that while I have heard it used quite often in my family, I haven't heard it or read it anywhere else. We use it to describe a shade of black darker than black and shiny. Maybe I found this word because this book was written by a British author and not an American one. Could be that this word is one of the vestiges left behind by the British from their time in the Subcontinent.


New word learned: Suppurate

When I looked it up, it meant:




I also made the mistake of searching for images associated with this word. My advice to you? Never be that stupid! *shudders for the tenth time*


"...Lilith frowned, concentrating, and spoke another Word. ...Lilith gave birth to the Nightside through a single effort of Will and determination."


I don't know about the other religions but in Islam, when God wanted to create the world, He spoke one word. He said, "Be" and so the world was. Which is why, it was unsurprising that the scene with Lilith's creation of Nightside seemed quite familiar.


Some parts of the book read beautifully. A few of my favorites, with some background for reference, follow:


"Because Good and Evil and consequences have a way of creeping in, whenever people get together." That is why, according to John, Lilith seeks to destroy the Nightside she created.


According to the angels who show up, they take forms that human minds can comprehend. The pair in question shows up when the MCs go back to a time when humans had yet to be born.

 "Neither angel had much of a personality, as such. Presumably that would come later, after centuries of interaction with Humanity."


"To stay would be contrary to our orders," said Gabriel. "And in many ways, we are our orders.

This is pretty close to what I have been taught about angels.


"I couldn't let her die because of something she hadn't done yet and might never do.... Making decisions like this is what Humanity is for."


There was a whole bit at the end about Good and Evil that I found really fun to read. It fit in nicely with my mood these days since I was also reading Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes at that time.


What was just a teensy bit off-putting was the romance between John and Suzie Shooter.



Since I had done some snooping before, I did know that it was going to happen. It isn't that they don't make a good couple either. I guess it still managed to surprise me.  



The trademark humor was a part of this book in the series too but it was still darker than the previous ones. A favorite scene with the unflappable Cathy:


"Oh, Security!" said Cathy. A closet door I hadn't noticed before sprang open, and a huge and impressively hairy hand shot out of the closet and wrapped itself firmly around both the invading Eamonns. They struggled fiercely against the great gripping fingers, but with their arms pinned to their sides, they were both quite helpless. They shouted and cursed until I strolled over and gave them both a brisk warning slap round the back of the head. A thought struck me, and I looked back at Cathy.

"Can I ask what's on the other end of this thing's arm?" "I find it best not to ask questions like that," Cathy said, and I had to agree with her.


I did enjoy returning to Nightside. Can't wait to read the next one!


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review 2016-05-20 22:25
There's Weird, and There's Really Weird

Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant, #2)Playing with Fire by Derek Landy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a crazy book series, but I like that about it. A lead character who is a sorcerer whose body is skeletal. A thirteen-year-old girl who stays out all night fighting evil creatures and sends her reflection to school as a stand in. Heinous, and I do mean heinous villains who don't mind exploding people, along with psychopathic assassins with Southern accents who can dig through the ground and who have a favorite straight razor. Yup. That's what this book is about.

I think that this one is a lot more dark, violent and disturbing than the first book, so I'd definitely warn a parent to read it first before letting a kid younger than twelve read this. The narrator was great. I loved his accents and how he makes these very strange characters stand out. I like his intonation for Skulduggery, rather sarcastic and one of those people who really don't panic. If he does, then you're in trouble. I enjoy his relationship with Valkyrie/Stephanie. She talks to him kind of disrespectfully, but it doesn't bother him. He treats her as an equal.

There were loose ends tied up from the first book that really needed tying. Even a cameo of sorts from Valkyrie's deceased uncle who left her his house and fortune. The sorcerer world grows bigger and more complicated in this book, and Valkyrie has cause to think about the life she's chosen as the descendant of Ancients who has decided to fight the good fight. She realizes how much time she's missing out with her family.

This book is just plain weird. If you don't like weird, pass it by. If you have strong opinions on what young people should read and that list includes violent books with sorcery, monsters and psychopathic characters who have no qualms about harming a 13-year-old girl, then you won't care for this. But if you like fun, weirdly humorous, quirky, sometimes scary, and sometimes creepy crawly books with not a small degree of wish fulfillment for tweens (and messages about empowerment for young girls), then you might like this.

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review 2015-11-04 22:08
The Bridegroom - Amelia Mangan

I wish I had this poetic grace for the sinister, decayed, and strangely ugly. Everything stark, defined, and immediate. This is a celluloid film, and perfectly cinematic; it is precise. Gorgeous weird fiction. Surrealism to eat.


I pick up horror anthologies just to read Amelia Mangan's stuff, and now she has a novel out. But someday all her short stories need to be collected, somehow. The sideshow mermaid from that carnival antho; the girl assailed by moth boys in Phobophobias.


BRIDEGROOM is the saturated film yet to be, of an unconventional First Contact story. You can read it for Free from Book Smugglers:





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