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review 2019-01-15 12:45
THE PIGEON by Andrew Lennon and Christopher Motz
The Pigeon: Nothing Goes Unseen - Christopher Motz,Andrew Lennon,Ryan C. Thomas

Don't let this rather vague-looking cover trick you into thinking this is not a full-fledged horror story. THE PIGEON is not some little psychological tale with a talking bird or poetry like an Edgar Allan Poe story. And it's not some fancy literary fiction either. It's an in-your-face, fast paced, gory, twisty-turny little novella that might even make you laugh at times. How much fun is that? A lot! It's a LOT of fun.

 

When Andrew Lennon asked me if I could review this book last fall I think it was, I said sure without really knowing what I was getting myself into. If I had known it was this short, I probably would have tried to squeeze it in even sooner.

 

A young lady hates her job and is being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. He shows up at her house and things just go downhill from there. Fast! There's no way I can get across to you how surprised I was at nearly every turn this story took. And it's because of the fact that I want you to be surprised too, that I'm not going to go further into the plot.

 

If you like your horror unpredictable, bloody and gory, with a sense of humor on the side? THE PIGEON is for you!

 

Highly recommended! Get your copy here: THE PIGEON

 

*I was provided an e-copy of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-01-04 17:15
COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglesias
Coyote Songs - Gabino Iglesias

 

COYOTE SONGS. What can I say? It was brilliant, so let's start with that.

 

I can't even hope to write a review as insightful and well written as my friend's, Michael Patrick Hicks', here: Mike's review.

 

 All I can hope to do is try to impart to you the way this book make me feel. There is a small group of characters living near the U.S./Mexican border and we are privy to their lives-with all the sorrows and joys therein. Unfortunately, there are very few joys. There is little to look forward to other than more poverty, misery, and crime. I quote from the book:

 

"He opened his eyes to a present that mocked his every wish and shattered any vision that dared go past it." 

 

When every hope you have is dashed, when every small good thing in your life is met with ten big, bad things, what point is there? When you have no hope for your children or yourself, again, what's the point?

 

Here is where I was going to make a brief political statement, but I just deleted it. If you don't already feel compassion or empathy for those innocents caught up in this immigration debacle, then there's nothing I can say to make you feel for them. But Gabino Iglesias has said the words that made me feel even more for them than I already did.

 

They are powerful words. They are words that needed to be said. They're not all flowers and sunshine, they are violent and dark and represent some of the worst things about humanity. You should read those words. They are called COYOTE SONGS.

 

My highest recommendation, period.

 

You can and SHOULD get your copy here: COYOTE SONGS

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review 2018-12-21 18:30
HUSK by J. Kent Messum
Husk - J. Kent Messum

 

HUSK was a fast paced, science fiction, political, mysterious, horror-show and I loved it!

 

Let me set the scene. We're in NYC at some point in the future. The political landscape is a mess. The Occupy movement has relocated from Wall Street to Central Park and has grown beyond all expectations. Our economy has gone to hell, people are out of work and out of patience. We now grow almost all of our own food, which sounds great, but it's not. We are growing our own meats, (yes, we grow meats, UGH), and vegetables in warehouses, with who knows what chemicals and additives. There is a severe water shortage that allows us to only "mist" not shower. Our technology has outpaced us and the best of the best of it is only available to the super rich.

 

One of these technologies is the ability to upload your essence, (your mind, emotions, thoughts-everything that makes you YOU), into a computer or server when you die. You then become a POST MORTEM. As a PM, you can live in your own virtual reality, you can be downloaded into a robot of sorts, or if you're SUPER-SUPER rich you can hire someone to loan you their body. These hirees are called HUSKS. Rhodes, the subject of this story is one of them.

 

Rhodes is having some trouble husking lately. He's returning to his body to find it beaten up, scratched and bruised. Nothing that would violate his husking contract, but definitely things that devalue him to a post-mortem looking for a good time. When Rhodes starts having hallucinations and memories that are not his own, he begins thinking about leaving husking behind and finding another line of work. Will he be able to extract himself from this business? Will he be able to return to a somewhat normal life and his pregnant girlfriend? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

The mystery here is quite engaging, and it's hard to figure out what's going on at first, until you get the feel for how husking works. It's basically high tech prostitution. With the lack of jobs and the tanking economy, Rhodes lacks the skill set to do much else-I felt for the guy. Most people I know, including myself, are a few paychecks or one major illness away from being out on the street.

 

Aside from the mystery surrounding Rhodes, the politics and observations regarding our climate and environment, the rich vs. the poor, cloned foods and the lack of fresh foods are sharp, on point and all too realistic. Messum has envisioned a scary and dark world that has no time or room for the poor, the uneducated and/or the unlucky. This is where the horrific aspects come in. (Other than the horror of lending out your very body and mind, of course.)

 

I was impressed by this story. The world-building is not only fascinating but prescient and did I mention all too realistic? The characters were mostly well drawn, though I feel like I didn't get to know Rhodes quite as much as I wanted to. Perhaps that's because Rhodes didn't even know Rhodes? I'm not sure, but I deducted half a star for something I felt was missing in Rhodes, in his girlfriend Ryoko, and in Phineas, a friend to them both.

 

That said, between the vision of the world presented, the technological ideas, the fast pace and the action that occurs during the second half? I totally enjoyed this experience and I ripped through it quickly and with great pleasure!

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: HUSK

 

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

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review 2018-12-14 18:30
WINTER'S BONE by Daniel Woodrell, narrated by Emma Galvin
Winter's Bone: A Novel (Audio) - Daniel Woodrell,Emma Galvin

I'm not feeling like a full review today so I'll limit this to only a few comments.

 

*The Ozarks in which this book takes place seem to have nothing in common with the OZARK Netflix show.

 

*I have no doubt in my mind that life in some areas of the Ozarks is as brutal as it's depicted in this book. Poverty, drug use, tight family units, and long-held multi-generational grudges are just part of the miserable lives examined here.

 

*I couldn't help but feel for 16 year old Ree who just wanted to join the army and get the hell out of there. Due to her mother's mental illness and her two young siblings, her hands were tied. It's hard to escape family.

 

*I thought this book was savage with sharp, vivid prose-sometimes so sharp it stabbed me right in the heart.

 

*I enjoyed WINTER'S BONE, as much as one can enjoy a story this violent and merciless. I look forward to sampling more of Daniel Woodrell's work in the future.

 

*Recommended for those with the wherewithal to stomach the brutalities of this rural, mountain life. You have been warned!

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review 2018-12-10 18:45
THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY by John Hornor Jacobs
The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky: A Novella of Cosmic Horror - John Hornor Jacobs

 

"Misery is a condition that we are all promised."

 

THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY is a beautifully written novella with rich, layered characters and an unfamiliar landscape.

 

Two ex-pats develop a friendship between them. Isabel, an educator and Avendano, a poet, have both escaped a political coup in their home country of (the fictional) Magera. As their friendship deepens, Isabel learns more about Avendano's reputation and his past. When he asks her to watch his apartment so that he may return to Magera, she does so willingly. While so doing, she reads a few of the manuscripts he left behind. It's in these manuscripts that the true horror lies. Will Avendano ever return home? If he does will he find Isabel there waiting for him? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

I loved this book and that's mostly because the characters of Avendano and Isabel are so deep and well drawn. I did not expect to develop such complicated feelings for characters in "A Novella of Cosmic Horror." But develop them I did-especially for Avendano. I disliked him quite a bit when the story began, but I empathized with what he went through later, (or actually, before), and my feelings for him changed dramatically.

 

Whenever I see or hear the term "cosmic horror" lately, I find myself thinking of tentacles. But cosmic horror runs much deeper than that, and in this book it plays a small but certainly disturbing part of the narrative. When the miasma becomes so thick you can almost cut through it, watch out. There are things in that stinking fog, things existing just beyond the limits our visibility, but all too alive just the same.

 

The real horrors here are executed by humans and they make tentacles and Cthulhu look downright silly. It's easy to overlook coups in other countries, easy to overlook the human rights violations and the often abominable acts. We don't seem them on our daily news, so to us they seem foreign and distant. But for the people living under military rule or the rule of dictators or religious leaders? They see these horrors every day and sadly, they are now just part of life. When anyone dares to look more closely, like Avendano for instance, who knows what horrors will befall them as a result? They may take the form of torture, they may take the form of torturing those you love, they can even make you torture yourself, and that's the worst torture of all. 

 

"The pain becomes an offering and sacrifice becomes a beacon."

 

 

 

A beacon to what? That is the question.

 

I've tried hard to impart to you the gravity as well as the beauty hidden behind that oh so lovely cover. I've tried to do it without spoiling anything, but I'm not sure I've succeeded. The writing is sublime and I got lost a few times, just ruminating on the beauty of the language. That doesn't happen often these days, but it happened several times within the pages of this beautiful, scary, depressing, lovely novella and for that reason I highly recommend this book.

 

Get your copy here: THE SEA DREAMS IT IS THE SKY

 

*I received a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* 

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