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    The Werewolf of Paris - Guy Endore

    "And thus was the silver bullet cast."

    I had read a synopsis stating this book can be read in two different ways – from a supernatural bent or from a psychological one. While I took pains to cull supernatural detail from the novel, and there are numerous examples, in the end this book seems more of a study in mental illness to me. It’s likely I read the book this way as much because I’ve been steeped in horror for the last few years as because it’s actually written that way. By contrast to my normal faire, the supernatural is downplayed.

    That being said, The Werewolf of Paris is a fascinating read and easily worth the investment of time and money. It’s considered a classic werewolf story and Dennis Wheatley included the work in his famous Library of the Occult.

    Betrand is born of rape and from a young age exhibits some strange physical characteristics like hairy palms, connected eyebrows and a lack of wit that held him back from his peers. He was constantly ridiculed and picked on growing up, and one day succumbs to a rage that he not only can’t remember clearly the next day, he believes what he can recall to be dreams. It begins with the taste of blood, then graves are disturbed, and eventually the bodycount begins to mount as his uncle and caretaker begins to realize something is terribly wrong with the boy. A wolfhunt ensues with no real success, traditional weapons seem useless, and soon the wolf is shot by (Uncle) Aymar with a silver bullet. The body of the wolf is not recovered, and the next day Aymar digs his silver bullet out of the leg of young Bertrand. Bertrand learns able to keep the wolf at bay by partaking of the blood of his willing young lover Sophie, but soon loses himself in Paris amidst the turmoil of civil war and moves toward his fate.

    One of the most interesting facets of the novel is not just the reader thinking on his own, but the character of Aymar, with a love/hate relationship with Betrand, musing to himself multiple times by the end that yes, Bertrand is a monster, yes he kills those around him, but Betrand’s sins are nothing compared to the death toll humanity inflicts on itself daily, and especially during the conflict Paris is currently undergoing. Is Betrand really that bad? The internal struggles by both Aymar and Bertrand serve to highlight how we abhor certain things, but accept much, much worse as par for the course of life.

    "All wounds heal over time, and those that are not healed are covered by the grave."

    3+ stars






    Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 02:58 AM.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
    -John Barth


      By Insanity of ReasonJohn R. Little; Lisa Morton

      “If I was tried for murder, I’d just demand a jury of my peers. Every parent understands wanting to kill the miserable kids once in a while.”

      First experiencing Lisa Morton through the outstanding anthology Dark Delicacies, I saw that book’s opening story by heavyweight Ray Bradbury comparatively beaten to a pulp by the second story, written by Lisa. I’ve since read a number of her works, with favorites being the novella Hell Manor and the Stoker nominated novel Malediction. Lisa has mastered the writing of horror as it relates to the physical world.

      Discovering John R. Little through the amazing collection Little Things, and later the somehow even better collection Little by Little, I’ve learned John has mastered the writing of horror as it relates to empathy and emotion.

      A collaboration between two outstanding authors, By Insanity of Reason is both psychological and real-world horror, playing with time in a way that evoked the film Memento, though it doesn’t work exactly backward. Told from an alternating first-person perspective, by story’s end I had questions.

      Crystal, a mother of two children who is on trial for their murders, along with the murder of her husband Richard, can barely remember events in her past due to the combination of head trauma and medication. She’s fuzzy on who she killed, if she killed, why she killed and how.

      Richard, Crystal’s husband, the father and other narrator of the tale, had hired a private investigator to look into his wife’s activities to find out if she’d been cheating on him the way he had been on her all these years. Through these two perspectives the present is informed by the slowly revealed past.

      There is an element missing here but I feel it’s by necessity for this novella. If you have two main characters, one who is quickly known to be a bad guy and another who is charged with being bad and in a constant haze, it's difficult to connect with either.

      An intense read, but different in the more exacting requirements it puts upon the reader. It’s not all laid out for us to enjoy normally, it’s a puzzle where we’re given pieces and asked to put them together.

      Hours later it’s still on my mind.

      4(-) stars



      Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 08:28 AM.
      “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
      -John Barth


        Originally posted by bugen View Post
        Nice cover. I imagine it would look quite spooky under a blacklight.


          Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post
          Alice Walks-Michael Aronovitz

          Like most readers, I love a good first couple of lines. I liken the reading of the first couple of lines of a book like being on a blind date. Sometimes it takes a while for you to warm up to your date, maybe the introduction was awkward, but you struggle through and at the end of the night you’re happy that you spent that time together and might get together again at some point. Other times, it’s an utter disaster and the date is cut short after the prerequisite first drink. Then there are the times when the gods above cast a ray of good fortune down on you and it’s love at first sight.

          With Alice Walks, it was the latter of the three. Now, it isn’t my favorite first couple of lines of all time, that still belongs to Straub’s Ghost Story, but it does have a knockout one that might just land it in second place:

          “Alice walks. She walks ‘cause she can’t breathe. She’s angry that you can.”
          I definitely liked the starting lines, as well. I also liked a line close to the end of Chapter 11:


          I also really liked the last sentence of this one, too.


            The GolemGustav Meyrink

            “The world exists for us to think it to tatters.”

            Centipede referred to this translation as ‘hallucinogenic’ and I can’t think of a single better word to describe it. It’s like being (allegedly) on LSD, but with most cognitive functions still intact. Those functions didn’t seem to help me too much, though, because I’ve just finished one hell of a trip (allegedly).

            I’m not going deeply into plot at all, partly because shoehorning this story into a box could well remove the mystic, opium-flavored experience, and partially because there’s no way I understood things properly.

            We follow Pernath, a jeweler, through a section of his adult life in Prague as he experiences the people around him, falling in love, being betrayed, imprisoned, released, and quite confused himself much of the time. Not much of a plot, right? That’s because this book isn’t about plot, or it kind of is, but is more about the hypnotic happenings in Pernath’s life… you know, I can’t actually say what this book is about.

            I can say it’s interesting, it has a kind of voice straight out of a nightmare-turned-neutral, and it’s obfuscating throughout. That doesn’t mean bad, either. Rather, ‘interpretive.’ I experienced multiple moments throughout the read where the mystic action leapt off the page and my imagination cranked to 11, only to fall back into a fugue state within minutes.

            I’ve never read anything like it, and will revisit one day.

            "Could I not dream for a minute, for a second, for the brief span of human existence?"

            3 stars






            Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 02:59 AM.
            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
            -John Barth



              Borrowed Souls - Paul Kohler

              "Well? What do you have to say for yourself? Why were you late? Again, I might add."
              "There was--"
              "I don't want to hear your excuses!"

              Jack Duffy awakes on a bus with no memory of the previous day. As he struggles with this loss he is greeted by a Mr. Wilson, who seems to know a great deal about what happened in the last day and is willing to help Jack remember with the assistance of a magic coin. As Jack is slowly brought up to speed with what he missed he learns more about the enigmatic Mr. Wilson, and is offered a choice...

              Horror, thriller and mystery combined into a 92 page novella, this is a lightning read combining a very short length and a very quick pace. It has a little bit of humor, a bit of tension and a plenty of conflict. There’s some betrayal, and some revenge. And it’s easy to like an underdog like Jack.

              The tale doesn't really break any new ground and reminds me of a novel I read decades ago, but is perfect fodder for that hour that you need to kill somewhere and does a great job of keeping readers interested.

              3 stars

              Happy Halloween everyone!

              borrowed souls.jpg
              Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 03:00 AM.
              “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
              -John Barth



                Ender’s GameOrson Scott Card

                "What is it next time? My army in a cage without guns, with the rest of the Battle School against them? How about a little equality?"
                "Ender, if you're on one side of the battle, it won't be equal no matter what the conditions are."

                Ender’s Game
                , originally a short story published in 1977, was adapted into novel format in 1985. It won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and the next year its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, won both awards again. Card is currently the only author to have performed this feat.

                In a near-future Earth, we had encountered our first alien species and they attacked. Years later, they attacked again in the Second Invasion, when it was realized the First Invasion wasn’t an attack at all, more an exploration. When the Second Invasion arrived, it was a full assault, and humanity survived only by the brilliant military tactics of one man.

                Now, preparing for the Third Invasion many decades later, mankind has realized the only chance of survival is the cultivation and training of a military mind at least as fine as the one that saved humanity during the Second Invasion. Battle School is formed, and the novel begins with the leaders of the school discussing their most promising future student.

                Ender Wiggin, a 6 year old child with two older siblings, is earmarked as potentially containing the mental capacities necessary for a commander to be successful against the overwhelmingly powerful enemy. His oldest brother Peter, also once earmarked for the program, possesses many of the qualities but is too severe, too ruthless, while his older sister Valentine, also mentally capable, is too trusting and mild. Ender is chosen for Battle School, and leaves Earth behind to begin his training with other genius students recruited for the program.

                Readers are let in from the beginning that while there are many students in the school, Ender is the one everyone is banking on. Ender is the one who must be crafted into the greatest military mind in history, and Ender is the most likely, possibly only, candidate that may be honed into the commander necessary to save us from extinction.

                The boy undergoes brutal training, endures incredible mental stresses, has everything repeatedly stacked against him higher and higher, and wins. Always. As he keeps winning, the instructors add to his stress, add to the odds against him to points of impossibility, for if Ender is not strong enough to overcome the most outrageously severe situations, we are all dead.

                The novel is mostly aimed at a young adult audience, but is certainly not limited as such. Most of us here were likely voracious readers during our youth, which classified us a certain way and made it easier for us to empathize with Ender, probably contributing a great deal to the beloved book’s success. In this intelligent, self-conscious and lonely child we could see glimpses of ourselves, and as the odds mounted against Ender we could feel them also mounting against us as we progressed from children to young adults to adults. Card’s ability to draw parallels and make these connections is uncanny.

                Ender’s Game is the story of humanity fighting for itself, the underdog story of facing insurmountable odds, and it’s the story of us.

                The perfect novel.

                5 stars







                Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 08:30 AM.
                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                -John Barth



                  Dark Screams Vol. 1 - Richard Chizmar, Brian James Freeman (Ed.)
                  “You can’t predict what a man will do in a given situation after he reaches a certain degree of dumbness, because the man himself doesn’t know if he’s going to s--t or put his fingers in the fan.”
                  -Stephen King, ‘Weeds’

                  Consisting of 5 stories from highly regarded authors, volume 1 of Dark Screams exhibits a unity generally not found outside of themed anthologies.

                  Stephen King opens the book with his tale "Weeds", where a less than intelligent man finds a meteor, inadvertently touches it, then finds a strange, rapidly expanding growth on his fingers the next morning. He begins to panic as the moss-like growth spreads…

                  Kelly Armstrong ups the ante with her following tale "The Price You Pay," where the lives are two young girls are played out in non-linear fashion as we flash between past and present to discover why they are chained separately in a dark basement, receiving beatings from a strange man…

                  Bill Pronzini’s "Magic Eyes" takes a slight step back as we follow a man in an asylum, frequently writing in his diary that he doesn’t trust his doctor, he’s innocent of his crime, and he actually saved his wife from being devoured by a monster with particularly striking eyes…

                  Simon Clark spins the best tale here with his "Murder in Chains," about a man who wakes in an unknown subterranean passage chained by the neck to a physically unstoppable madman. Of all 5 tales here, this one lashes the reader to the character(s) the quickest and screams toward a somewhat baffling conclusion, while still remaining effective…

                  And Ramsey Campbell closes the book out with "The Watched," what I felt to be a fair story but the weakest of the collection, about a boy who begins spying on the drug-dealing neighbors next door for a disgraced ex-policeman who’d seen his daughter fall to drugs and wants revenge…

                  These are solid, mostly fast-paced horror stories. King is, of course, the man, and nearly every story he writes is good. It was nice to see Armstrong follow him up so strongly. Mr. Pronzini’s tale is also very enjoyable. The biggest surprise for me was the upset of Simon Clark and his extremely effective man-at-the-end-of-his-rope (chain). Mr. Campbell has written some of the best, most riveting stories I’ve ever read, and also some of the slowest and least effective. His tale here was one of the slower ones, but keeps with his popular style and should be quite enjoyable to fans.

                  At the onset of this review I didn’t know whether the sense of unity between the stories was real or imagined, but in reflection I think it’s madness that binds them together. Each tale here contains a type of insanity, generally desperate, and because of this I found the collection more cohesive than most anthologies. The reader is not beaten over the head with it liked a themed anthology, though; this trait is just naturally revealed over the read.

                  Having appeared out of the blue, Dark Screams Vol. 1 was short but extremely enjoyable and I look forward to future releases within the new series.

                  4 stars

                  Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 08:31 AM.
                  “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                  -John Barth



                    Prisoner 489 (Black Labyrinth book II)Joe R. Lansdale

                    “That would be funny. Kettle brings the supplies and that thing is waiting on the dock for him with one of our legs. Well, not that funny.”
                    “No. Not that funny.”

                    Three men work as kinds of caretakers on a mysterious prison island which houses the truly bad. One of the responsibilities they have is the grave-digging and burial of inmates executed by prison officials. One night all lights are dimmed to the point of disappearing four times, when the general death-by-electric-chair dims the island lights only once. The men speculate that someone was certainly tough to kill, and soon a massive casket arrives for them to bury before sunrise. Mayhem ensues.

                    Another great example of fast-paced storytelling, this novella is likely to be read in one sitting. The trademark Lansdale humor shows up a few times, but there's not much chance for levity this night. Half of the book is description of the fight taking place, and it’s a good one! We do have a kind of dread for a few moments in the first half of the book, but once the action begins the readers’ blood is pumping while the fear is strictly limited to the characters.

                    Overall this is cool novella displaying many of Mr. Lansdale’s strengths like pacing, dialogue and camaraderie between buddies against a common adversary. It may not match the ridiculous pace of his recent thriller novella Hot In December, but what does?

                    An extremely enjoyable, fast read containing horror, humor, blood-n-guts and the buddy system.

                    4 stars






                    Last edited by bugen; 05-11-2016, 05:25 AM.
                    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                    -John Barth



                      Stand on ZanzibarJohn Brunner

                      “All we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. I know people who can’t even learn from what happened this morning.”

                      In the near future, practically the present day when placing the book in context, AI, named Shalmaneser, is on the verge of actual blazing intelligence. A scientist from a peaceful, primitive country has shocked and enraptured the world with his claim to be able to eradicate all weakness from the human genome, and even create supermen for lucky (unlucky) parents to raise. Chad Mulligan, eminent philosopher, at one point explains why this appears a good thing but is actually not. Regardless, Shalmaneser refuses to believe the scientist’s claims of successful genetic manipulation despite the evidence of the entire country living in non-violent, peaceful co-existence while the rest of the world consumes each other as always. An investigation is launched.

                      Before picking up this book one of the reviews I read stated (paraphrased) to “stick with it – I was 100 pages into the novel before I knew what was going on.” I know what the reviewer means to a certain extent, and there are all kinds of lights appearing here and there throughout the book, but at the point where I had my main “Aha!” moment I was 93% finished. This is a 600 page book.

                      Mr. Brunner uses a technique here that doesn’t appear much in our mainstream books today, ostensibly due to our rapid-fire, commercial-laden 2-minute-Youtube clip busy-as-hell can’t-pay-attention existence. Instead of the author lining up his sights, taking careful aim and unloading all 6 shots into the reader in key places over the course of the book, Mr. Brunner uses some kind of carbine-powered indefatigable sub-machine gun to spray a bazillion bullets everywhere, with the idea that some of them will penetrate the reader and make an impact. It works, but it’s so far outside the norm today that the overload strains patience. You’ll probably see what I’m talking about immediately, as a large portion of this book is exactly the kind of rapid-fire information bursts you get when channel surfing and landing on mostly commercials. Yes, you’re catching a lot of information, and no, it’s not currently telling a cohesive story. You have to dig for that.

                      If you’ve managed to keep away from television, and probably more importantly, away from marketing for the last couple of decades you’ll be much better suited for this read. Our lives are burdened with information overload already so that works against it here because we demand quick payoffs and that's not what this is about.

                      It’s a challenge, and if you lower your head and charge forward there are spoils for the taking. I feel those who read it closer to its 1968 release date probably hadn’t had their attention spans mangled as badly as some of us have today and might have found it more accessible. I wish I would have read it when I was much younger.

                      Or maybe I’m just not bright enough to catch this book properly. Either way, I have to go by my reaction, so while the book has certain moments of brilliance and deep insight into humanity the evolution of our ADD society presents significant challenges if first reading today. The Hugo winning story is worth it, but not exactly a walk in the park.

                      "Did nobody ever point out to you that the only liberty implied by free will is the opportunity to be wrong?"

                      2+ stars

                      Last edited by bugen; 11-13-2014, 06:29 AM.
                      “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                      -John Barth



                        World War Cthulhu - Brian M. Sammons, Glenn Owen Barrass (Ed.)

                        "That was the problem with being born; it was just asking for trouble."
                        'Mysterious Ways' - C.J. Henderson

                        Consisting of 22 tales in the Cthulhu Mythos, World War Cthulhu attempts to chronicle the fight back against the unbeatable creatures from Lovecraft's world. Having recently read a good deal of the author's work I'm quite familiar with the human inadequacies saturating his tales, to the effect it's nearly always pointless fighting back. You can run or you can die, which most of Lovecraft's humans seem to realize. This collection concerns those who don't realize, or who do but find themselves fighting anyway.

                        Not to say there's no fear here, but instead of gibbering in terror in a corner until ripped apart these characters are gibbering in terror during a mission, or during a firefight or other activity, until ripped apart. Not that this applies 100% of the time – there are a few victories here instead of just unanimous defeat, but they are fleeting and couched in the despair that is Lovecraft.

                        There is only one tale in the bunch I truly disliked, with the rest ranging from fair to excellent. I did not find that one, 5 star, superbly brilliant stop-the-world tale here, but a couple of them come close. The following were all excellent.

                        Opening with John Shirley’s "Loyalty," the first tale is much like what I was expecting when picking this up. Earth is invaded, and the only entity strong enough to repel the invaders is the mighty Cthulhu, who must first be summoned and enticed. Had the book held the standard of this story throughout I’d be extremely impressed. Mr. Shirley truly embraced what I think the editors were asking for here.

                        William Meikle’s "Broadsword" – An ultra-destructive weapon is deployed while the world is at war and an accompanying alien message is sent to the Allied command, “Stop this war or die.” Two Allies are sent into remote mountains to investigate the source of the destruction.

                        Josh Reynolds’ tale, "The Yoth Protocols" is about a couple of G-Men who investigate an underground cave where the local ‘old ones’ have stopped responding to our communications. Over the course of the investigation the two run into Russian army troops underground and things head south.

                        "The Ithiliad" by Christine Morgan was the most surprising of the stories, detailing what really happened during the Trojan War.

                        Tim Curran’s "The Procyon Project" was fantastic, concerning a security guard suffering from post-traumatic stress who patrols a facility where strange, large-scale experiments are taking place. He wonders what those scientists could possibly be doing with all of that meat and blood, but since loose lips sink ships he internalizes his fear in true Lovecraft tradition. I felt this to be the strongest of the collection.

                        A solid effort from the editors, not every tale brings the fight to the monsters. But this is a much more action-oriented collection than Lovecraft himself produced. I was really hoping for a moment where Man stood tall, but I’ll settle for not being consistently and completely crushed by the opposition.

                        3 stars

                        Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 08:32 AM.
                        “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                        -John Barth



                          John Dies at the EndDavid Wong
                          “He gathered all of his concentration and went about rolling the one, perfect cigarette that could save our universe.”

                          This books is crazy, and not in the Hannibal Lector way. More like the Douglas Adams meets Ace Ventura way.

                          Mainly concerning the two friends David and John, and later Amy, the story begins when John stumbles across a drug ‘Soy Sauce’ at a party which opens his mind in unimaginable ways. Not only does time lose its linear quality, but matter itself is no longer to be trusted and Johns sees all manner of horrifying creatures populating our world, while those not on the drug remain oblivious. Many of the effects, including a super-computer of a brain, wear off hours after use, but other effects seem more permanent. David doses as well, and the friends attempt to discover what’s happening to the world, why these creatures are crossing dimensions, and eventually, if they can be stopped.

                          Even that brief synopsis starts to sound a little wacky, but that doesn’t begin to touch how this reads. To better describe the sense of humor I’d go back to Douglas Adams, a master of revealing the absurdities of our lives and ridiculing them. Adams would reveal profound truths in his jokes, while the author here generally does not, though there are exceptions (“When a man plans, a woman laughs”). NOT to say the humor isn’t worth it, it absolutely is, but I didn’t find that real-world application that some of our best writers today manage to work into their narratives. David Wong (pseudonym) is every bit as funny, though, and uses the same irreverence. Nothing is sacred and pop culture is often in the crosshairs. I add the Ace Ventura comparison to the mix because of the idiocy these guys constantly exhibit. The jokes are mostly delivered with a straight face and I can’t think of an appropriate live comic at the moment to round out the picture. Is there anyone that constantly streams dick jokes without cracking a smile?

                          What can sometimes be a bit jarring, but is welcome nonetheless, is when this humor butts up directly against a horrific event. This happens quite often, and while you’re guffawing, nearly choking on your food, in the next sentence when limbs are flying you might lose your appetite. You’ll certainly find the smile wiped off your face a couple of times, and it provides significant contrasts.

                          There is also an interesting Afterward about how the book came about, with its origins in all-but-ignored online posts until momentum started to gather. And gather. Almost a proof-of-concept to those who may be frustrated by big publishing.

                          All in all I’m extremely happy with this read. It’s a rare gift combining humor and horror, and even rarer when that humor is maintained throughout. By the second half of the book events have gotten serious enough that the laughs die down comparatively to the first, but they are still present.

                          This is another highly recommended book, but mileage may vary. Horror is not really a genre where we find an overabundance of humor, and this book is one of the major exceptions. But because this level of humor does not appear too often in the field the book doesn’t exactly sit well on the shelf between IT and The Exorcist. Right at home next to Mr. Jeff Strand, though.

                          Comically, foolishly, dangerously epic.

                          4- stars




                          Last edited by bugen; 05-11-2016, 06:03 AM.
                          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                          -John Barth



                            Revival Stephen King

                            “I pulled out a single sheet of paper wrapped around a smaller envelope. Written on the face of this second envelope was
                            Read my letter before opening this one. So I did.
                            Got help me, so I did.”

                            Revival opens with a young boy, Jamie, meeting the new local preacher, Charles, as Jamie plays with toy soldiers on a mound of dirt. The preacher’s shadow falls ominously across the boy, who will refer to this moment for the rest of his life. Charles settles into life as the new minister and his fascination with electricity becomes known to Jamie, who witnesses his brother cured from a nasty affliction by a special form of the energy in the preacher’s employ. Tragedy strikes Charles’ family, shaking his faith and resulting in the Terrible Sermon that gets him fired and he leaves town. Jamie is not to see him again until decades later, himself a semi-successful musician at the end of his ropes and addicted to heroin. Charlie addresses Jamie’s addiction with his mysterious electricity, and Jamie becomes tied to Charles, no longer a minister but a circus sideshow selling his healing electricity to the seriously ill. But side effects are cropping up as Jamie looks into the real force behind supposed power.

                            The book moves at a breakneck pace for the first half, slows a bit, then culminates in a vivid ending that seems to be causing a stir, but I didn’t feel it was inappropriate or pushing things too far in the least. In fact, I partly wish I hadn’t heard of it at all, because approaching the end of the tale my expectations of horror kept climbing unrealistically. I can draw an immediate parallel to another book, and two more to movies, one a massive blockbuster, that deal with the ideas in Revival, but they’d be spoilers. This is good solid horror, but nothing to be wary of.

                            Mr. King is a special case for me, as for many. The first book of his I read was The Eyes of the Dragon, the only King book my school library carried. Wanting more, the town library carried Skeleton Crew which I checked out, and was immediately forbidden to read anything from the author by my parents. This forced me into Crime and Fantasy, and it was years later before I came back to the author with Pet Sematary, and I don’t recall if I had to sneak it, if the ban was lifted, or if I no longer cared about the rules but I went on to read dozens of his novels immediately afterward. When all schooling was over and life changed, my reading took a nosedive compared to early years.

                            Probably 15 years later I was scared to read any King novel. Not because of frightening content but because I didn’t want to see my hero fail to live up to my image I had of him from my youth. Feeling this way for years, I finally picked up Under the Dome and realized my fears weren’t justified; the guy was as brilliant, enrapturing and terrifying as ever. Revival reaffirms this by lashing you to the characters, mainly Jamie, and rocketing you through another King horror novel that’s never what you expect – it’s pretty much always better.

                            Don’t be afraid. Not too afraid.

                            4 stars






                            Last edited by bugen; 05-12-2016, 03:02 AM.
                            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                            -John Barth



                              Fight ClubChuck Palahniuk

                              We are not special.
                              We are not crap or trash, either.
                              We just are.
                              We just are, and what happens just happens.
                              And God says, “No, that’s not right.”
                              Yeah. Well. Whatever. You can’t teach God anything.

                              Fight Club is the story of a man too sensitive to the shortcomings of modern life, too aware of our society and its trappings, and too far gone to suck it up and live with it like the rest of us do. Our narrator and his new acquaintance Tyler Durden start a club to help themselves feel alive; to remind themselves we are not just sheep trundling towards death while making sure The Man gets his cut. To remind themselves that while marketing rules the world, there’s no reason for it to rule every individual and run us all into the ground in frenzied consumerism. We weren’t meant for that life.

                              As men are liberated from their mundane existences and given real camaraderie from the club, membership swells, devout followers spring from the woodwork and eventually Tyler starts handing out individual assignments meant to introduce chaos and anarchy into the established system, changing the club from a kind of self-help group to a full-blown terrorist cell bent on turning society on its head.

                              This is a scream of a read and doesn’t suffer one bit from us already being intimate with the characters from the movie. Yes, our narrator is Norton. Yes, Pitt plays Durden and yes, Fincher’s style comes through while reading this. And all of this only enhances the book, as Fincher really slammed it home when he released the movie. And still, despite this being a top-notch movie worthy of film-school level study, the book is significantly better, displaying perfectly some of the themes the film tried to show us.

                              I had no intention of reading this today. This morning I read the first chapter, and then set my kindle down thinking maybe I should get to something else instead. An hour or two later I’d run some errands, returned home and decided I’d go ahead a read a few more pages and wouldn’t switch to another book. And about 5 minutes later I was finished.

                              “You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug.
                              Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”

                              I suppose I could think of worse owners than this book. Much worse.

                              5 stars






                              Last edited by bugen; 05-11-2016, 06:36 AM.
                              “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                              -John Barth



                                Originally posted by bugen View Post
                                Fearie TalesStephen Jones (Ed.), various authors

                                (on fairies)
                                “But they can’t have memories. They don’t know their name. Don’t have a favourite smell or sound, a longed-for taste or a book in which they might lose themselves. They have nothing.”
                                Peter Crowther – 'The Artemis Line'

                                This book spoke to me when I first saw it, and what I’d read of it as far as theme, contributing authors and production value pushed me over the edge.

                                Based on the tales of the brothers Grimm, this book consists of two parts interwoven together. The first are the old fairy tales which are presented here in an easily accessible style of language chosen mainly from one of the various permutations of the writings, Grimm’s Household Tales. As might be expected, these tales are often the weakest in the collection, but they are not to be missed or skipped. They provide important counterpoints to the surrounding stories, are generally much shorter than the newer fiction, and in some cases prepare the landing field for the next story in very important ways.

                                Taken by themselves, the old tales yield a rating of 3 stars. Some are extremely good.

                                The second interspersed part, and the real meat of this collection, is the new tales told by today’s most exciting authors. Mostly modernizing older tales, over half of these stories I would categorize no less than excellent. Horror abounds, and these are bloody, scary, nasty tales, and therefore faithfully update the original Grimm themes. Huge liberties are taken by the authors differentiating these newer spins from older ones, and some seem to be new tales entirely.

                                Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Robert Shearman, Michael Marshall Smith, Markus Heitz and John Ajvide Lindqvist knock it right out of the park, though most of the rest of the new fiction is quite good as well.

                                Two authors, however, take it even further. I’d like to address two of the new stories specifically, for while the book was filled with great material, old and new, and a huge portion of the new fiction is excellent, these two stand as brilliant examples of how exactly this is done to perfection.

                                'The Ash-Boy' - Christopher Fowler

                                I’ve never read a Cinderella story told as well as this one. Maybe there’s never been one. Make sure to read the preceding tale, the older retelling of Cinderella, to get a firm grip on just how bloody this story really is. The old tale was one of my favorites contained in this collection, and moving from it into 'The Ash-Boy' left me feeling the author was perhaps transposing the tale a little too closely, not taking enough liberties, until around half-way through. The story then rockets into its own life, the characters and happenstances differing drastically from the original, and explodes into an ending that had me fist-pumping. The best.

                                'The Silken People' – Joanne Harris

                                A young girl is told by her nurse about The Lacewing King, or the king of the fairies, and to the nurse’s consternation spends all of her time trying to locate the king based on the nurse’s pointers like looking from the corner of your eye and fairies being briefly visible upon first waking. A touching tale of longing and belonging, this one brims over with magic, sadness and wonder. As a penultimate fairy tale should.

                                This collection may seem a little niche to some, perhaps not the pure horror we’re used to in that it borrows so heavily from older material. But remember who Stephen Jones is, remember the brilliance these authors bring to bear in their other work, and trust them.

                                A masterful collection of the themed short form, bringing modernized fairy tales of our childhoods, and the childhoods of our fathers, full-circle.

                                4 stars

                                How are the illustrations, are there quite a few? Also is this signed by Alan Lee. Thanks