Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My most heartfelt (and terrified) review to date 28 August 2103

I write a total suck-up review of THE GOODREADS KILLER because, well, reasons. Heh.

16 stars! Superb!! no kill I

Sunday, August 25, 2013

New Review 25 August 2013...funny, funny book gets funny kind of review

I read CAMPTOWN LADIES by Mari SanGiovanni and laughed and laughed 4 stars' worth! You will too. C'mon in, the nuttiness is fine! Review is here and you should be too.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ninth Jay Lake Pre-Mortem Read-a-thon Review Up

After causing myself needless terror and pain by losing the post, and some of the review, I've got the last novel that's likely to be published by Jay Lake before his demise reviewed and appreciated at Shelf Inflicted, a group blog.

His own blog, Jay Lake, Writer, has a post today about "Special Dying Person Wisdom." He says something the Buddha said, in a different way. That so many teachers say, and so many students nod at, but still it remains something we all need to hear again, and again, and again: "But in any case, be kind. It costs you nothing and makes the world around you a better place."

Well, that's it, really. That's the whole deal in a nutshell. Even if my take-away from the entire experience of encountering Lake and his fiction was that, it was a transformative one. Reading these nine novels, reviewing them, and making the reviews as much about the experience as the book and saying thank you to the creator of the books pre-mortem, remind me to be kinder so I can make my corner of the world a bit better than it is now.

KALIMPURA brings Green's saga to its stopping place. In the end is the beginning; in the beginning is the end. It's a hard thing to do, to read a novel of maturing that comes from a person whose perspective is The End. But then again, if he's got time to tell the story, who am I to ignore it because I feel sad about how it's coming about?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Suspense Novel Review 21 August 2013

I give CLOSE MY EYES from St. Martin's Press a going over at my thrillers page & like what I see 4 stars worth! An excellent rating for a debut suspense novel.

I get St. Martin's Press's Criminal Element newsletter...lots of good stuff comes my way from that...and won this ARC from the entry made there. Good book, promising start, and I hope a good long career for the author.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Three new reviews for the August 2013 Blue Moon

I reviewed a collection of essays for The Small Press Book Review, called MEATY. It's by a blogger called Samantha Irby, a Person of Size whose blog is called Bitches Gotta Eat. That made me snicker, so I asked the publisher for a copy to review.

I wasn't sure about these essays until I hit the one on diets and dieting, when I started laughing so hard I scared the dog. Read the review, see why. I quoted the (to me) funniest one of them.

Then I re-read Mary Renault's THE PRAISE SINGER on the Literary Fiction page, and gave the old girl four stars out of sheer luxurious pleasure in her use of language.

Lastly, my friend and co-blogger Dan Schwent writes an appreciation of the Grand Master Mysterian at our group blog, Shelf Inflicted. From Get Shorty to Maximum Bob and all points in between, I enjoyed Elmore Leonard's work. I will miss anticipating his latest foray into inspired silliness.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Eduardo del Valle Seduces Me

I read a poetry book. I liked the poetry book I read. No, really, go see:

It's about a man, an architect, who works at Ground Zero while it's being rebuilt. That should tell you how much I liked this book: It's a dead art-form that I don't much like, about a subject still raw enough to me that I don't like people yim-yammering about it.

He's made quite an achievement.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two New Mystery Reviews! 13 August 2013

My Mystery Series section.

I finally got around to writing a review of THE LAST KASHMIRI ROSE but wasn't all that interested. Too bad, too. I wanted to be blown away!

Less good than that was the first "Trash'n'Treasures" Mystery, ANTIQUES ROADKILL. Just...~meh~ Halfway between good and bad. Nothing to remember, no desire to pick up another one, just...~meh~

The books themselves have gone off to my friend Kath's library, there to be shelved.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Not One But TWO New Reviews!

At Shelf Inflicted, I continue my Jay Lake Pre-Mortem Readathon with the lucky number seven review: GREEN, first in a series of three told by the title character, Green.

Anyone who has paid the slightest attention to my thunderings on the subject knows how I feel about fantasy, majgickq, and teenagers. This is a book all about all three.

And I gave it a three-plus star review. See what I mean about lucky number seven?

Here at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud, I've enjoyed and reviewed Alaska-set thriller THE RAVEN'S GIFT, by Fairbanks-based Alaska native Don Rearden. It's a terrific read. One heckuva debut for Rearden!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


New Review! One big issue I have with science fiction is its relative absence of gayness. Today I read an excellent short science fiction story WHEN YOU WERE PIXELS by Julio-Alexi Genao. It's a kind of gay male Fifty First Dates set in a Bladerunner-y dystopic future. This is what I've been looking for! Try it out.

I so often find that the SFnal setting in more-or-less romantic fiction is pretty lame. Not this time. It's got depth and it's got breadth. I am so so pleased! It helps that I'm Goodreads friends with the author, since I got to hear about the book that way. It's free to all comers, though, so I'm not unique!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Public Thanks to Jay Lake

I have a Guest Post at SFSignal, a science fiction/fantasy/horror blog,about my Shelf Inflicted project the Jay Lake Pre-Mortem Read-a-thon. Please go give it a look. Lake's work is a pleasure, and I think we should say so before he says his final goodbyes.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another Review of a Gaiman Book, Oh BOY!

I posted my take on THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE.

You know, the words "master" and "groundbreaking" are fast becoming vigorously waved red flags for seldom is the subject an actual master and even more seldom is the work in question "groundbreaking." Virginia Woolf broke ground. So did Faulkner, Beckett, even *shudder* Djuna Barnes...Robert Pinget...but Neil Gaiman? C'mon.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Latest review at The Small Press Book Review!

Another four-star review, this time of a short novel set in New Orleans: THE WISDOM OF ASHES from small press Lavender Ink, based in New Orleans. The book is a short 100pp. By page 10, I wasn't tasting anything but Mississippi water as I submerged in the reality of New Orleans and its many many broken pieces that still knit together.

Jonathan Kline, the author, is a poet. Don't let that scare you off. He's a very talented prose stylist, too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

THE WASP FACTORY: An Appreciative Review

The late, great Iain (M.) Banks's passing inspired a number of group reads of his books in different Internetty places. I joined one for THE WASP FACTORY over on LibraryThing. A lot of people had ewww-ick responses; my response is here.

This is one great, as in LOLITA-type great, book. It will long, long outlive most (maybe even all) other books published in 1984.



Simon & Schuster
$16.00 trade paper, available now

Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: Frank--no ordinary sixteen-year-old--lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; & his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return--an event that explodes the mysteries of the past & changes Frank utterly.

My Review: Much has been said in disgust and even anger about this polarizing book. Some have called for it to be banned. Others have written the equivalent of a silent finger-down-the-throat mime.

You are all entitled to your opinion. Here is mine: This book is brilliant. It will be remembered long long after the pleasant entertainments of the day are more forgotten than Restoration drama. (Hands up anyone who knows who Colley Cibber is. And don't front. Or use Wikipedia.)

I'm also an ardent partisan of Lolita, that deeply disturbing and very beautiful book by a pedophile about his pursuit of the perfect lover. I loved Mrs. Dalloway, the chilling, near-perfect narrative of a wealthy woman's desperation and crushing ennui.

So here's the deal: Frank, and his brother Eric, aren't role models, aren't people you'd want to be around, aren't amusing compadres for a jaunt along the path to the Banal Canal. They are, like Hum and Lo and Clarissa and Septimus, avatars (in the pre-Internet sense) of the raw, bleeding, agonic (unangled, in this use) purposelessness of life. They are the proof that salvation is a cruel ruse. These characters rip your fears from the base of your brain and move them, puppetlike, eerily masterful withal, into your worst nightmares.

And all without resorting to the supernatural.

Humanity comes off badly in this book. The truth of what made Frank the person he is will leave you more chilled than any silly evocation of a devil in a religious text. Frank's very being is an ambulatory evil act. But the reason for it, the motivating factor, is the absolute worst horror this book contains. All the animal-torture stuff is unpleasant, I agree. It's not as though it's lovingly and lingeringly described. And it pales in comparison to Frank's raison d'etre.

So yes, this book is strong meat. It's got deeply twisted characters enacting their damage before us, the safely removed audience. It's making a serious point about human nature. And it's doing all of that in quite beautifully wrought prose, without so much as one wasted word.

But it's essentially a warning to the reader: Don't go there. Don't do the pale, weak-kneed versions of the rage-and-hate fueled horrors inflicted on Frank, and even on Eric. Pay attention, be mindful of the many ways we as lazy moral actors condone the creation of Erics and Franks in our world.

Pay attention.

The Jay Lake Pre-Mortem Read-a-thon Continues! Sixth review

It's that means it's time for another JAY LAKE PRE-MORTEM READ-A-THON REVIEW! You lucky people you. Anyone who has paid attention to me these past 40 or so years knows that I'm no fantasy fan...Tolkien and Lord Dunsany break me out in hives...but the current book, MADNESS OF FLOWERS, is fantasy done right. Four-plus star review over at Shelf Inflicted, a group blog.

Have a wonderful time in New Zealand, Jay Lake! *vibrates with envy*