Dog Days by Joe McKinney – A Review

Dog Days
Joe McKinney
JournalStone (July 2014)
young adult/horror
Dog Days

I received a copy of Joe McKinney’s Dog Days through LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewer program. The book got my hopes up with a strong start, introducing us to Mark, a Texan teenager at the beginning of his summer vacation, who wakes up to the aftermath of a hurricane that has struck his wealthy Houston suburb of Clear Lake (where my dad’s sister used to live, for what that’s worth). A shrimp boat stuck up a pecan tree with a pile of half-eaten corpses inside promised a rollicking old horror story. Continue reading

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Wolf Interval by Chrysoula Tzavelas – A Review

Wolf-Interval-Front-L-605x910 Wolf Interval
Chrysoula Tzavelas
Candlemark & Gleam (October 2014)
young adult/urban fantasy

Wolf Interval, the third book in Chrysoula Tzavelas’ Senyaza series, is coming out this month. I was lucky enough to get an ARC so I could share my thoughts about it with you. (And I will be honest here–the author and I are friends on Twitter; I don’t think that colored my review, but I want to get that out there.) Continue reading

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Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet – A Review

Pills & Starships Pills and Starships
Lydia Millet
256 pages, Black Sheep (June 2014)
science fiction/young adult

I received a paperback copy of Lydia Millet’s Pills and Starships as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer. The cover caught my interest when it appeared on the list of giveaways and I was pleased that I won a copy. Continue reading

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Infinity Key by Chrysoula Tzavelas – A Review

Infinity Key
Chrysoula Tzavelas
272 pages, Candlemark & Gleam (November 2013)
contemporary/urban fantasy



Infinity Key cover

“She really didn’t want to be one of the giggling girls in the audience, watching passively as the world changed around them.”

Earlier this year, I read Chrysoula Tzavelas‘ debut novel, Matchbox Girls, enjoying it quite a bit. You can see my thoughts on that book here, if you like.

Continue reading

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There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.

This post originally appeared over at the now-deceased Snobbery blog. Figured I’d repost here, as folks seemed to like it, back when it went up on January 20, 2014. Continue reading

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Salsa Nocturna by Daniel José Older – A Review

SNcovernoblurbfront Salsa Nocturna
Daniel José Older
Crossed Genres (July 2012)
ghost noir

I didn’t win this book as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer. I won it as a backer of Crossed Genres’ Long Hidden kickstarter! Continue reading

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There’s a Little Real History in my Alternate History #6

The sailors have harvested as much wood as they can from the corpse of la Santa Maria, and building has begun. It’s an awkward-looking square taking shape on the beach, just above the high-water line. I’m trying to picture the men from three ships fitting into the bones of one, and I wonder. What’s the point of this, other than to mark Colón’s claim on this land, on this people?
~”So The Taino Call It”

Whaddaya know? Back in the fall of 2012, I ran a series of blog posts talking about the real history in my alternate history novella “So The Taino Call It.” Recently there’s been stuff in the news that calls for an update.

Continue reading

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Maze by J.M. McDermott – A Review

J.M. McDermott
Apex Book Company (December 2013)
science fiction/fantasy/horror: it’s got it all



I found J.M. McDermott’s Maze to be an interesting read. It’s the latest LibraryThing Early Reviewer book on my TBR list and is quite different from a lot of what I’ve read recently.

Maze is divided into sections: the mazes of four different characters, Maia Station, Joseph, Wang Xin, and Julie Station. They all find themselves trapped in the same place, it would seem. A lot of overlapping characters and places. But these characters each have their own issues to deal with. Having thought about it since I finished the book, I feel like there are four separate mazes (at least) that all lie on top of one another. They interact and yet are somewhat separate. That probably doesn’t make any sense, unless you’ve read the book.

And even then…

I found McDermott’s prose to be solid and, occasionally quite lovely. The stories themselves are dark, violent, and in some cases, downright gross. The book is a mix of genres. Science fiction when we’re in Maia’s maze; she comes from a space station and looks at the maze from a scientific point of view. She’s the only one who does. Julie, Maia’s daughter, is born into the maze and doesn’t really understand the science her mother tries to teach her.

The two men’s stories, as well as Julie’s, are told more from a fantasy/horror point of view. The men both came to the maze from a more prosaic planet Earth, stumbling into it. Well, Wang Xin trips over his bicycle, literally stumbling; Joseph is dragged into the sewer system by a ghost he brings to life.

I found Wang Xin to be the most interesting character of the bunch. Jenny Ghost, who has her own interlude in the book, drags Joseph into the plumbing, but gets to Wang Zin through his eye, and he (as a young boy) believes he can see the future because of this. A lot of things happen that convince him he’s right, and even when things don’t match up to his vision, he’s still convinced.

Wang Xin’s section of the book, his maze, is also the most disturbing. Part of his vision includes two women he is sure are in love with him. They aren’t and he ends up treating them badly–raping one, in fact. Xin pays for his bad behavior, and the author’s tearing down of his visions bit by bit was an enjoyable–from this reader’s perspective–part of the payment.

Unlike most fiction I read, Maze has no resolution. Our protagonists never find their way out of their mazes, unless death is the way out. As Joseph says at the end of his story:

We made the best life we could in this terrible place.

This may be frustrating for readers who like a definitive ending to their stories. I didn’t mind it so much. My main problems concerned certain sections that weren’t as well written as others. Joseph’s section, in particular, felt stiffer and more confusing than the rest. And the scene with Parks on the bed reminded me of the first Evil Dead movie, and not in a good way. The grotesqueness of what was done to her felt gratuitous, moreso than other nasty scenes in the book. What was the point?

In general, though, I would recommend Maze. If you’re up for a dark and troubling read with no easy answers, give it a try.

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The Book of Apex: Volume Four of Apex Magazine – A Review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00012] The Book of Apex: Volume Four of Apex Magazine
Lynne M. Thomas, Editor
Apex Book Company (October 3013)
science fiction/fantasy/horror


I received an electronic copy of The Book of Apex: Volume Four of Apex Magazine through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review. Gotta say I was pleased. Continue reading

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Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas – A Review

Matchbox-Web Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tzavelas
324 pages, Candlemark & Gleam (February 2012)
contemporary/urban fantasy


As you can see by the publication date, I’m a little late to the party with Matchbox Girls. But, then again, books don’t really go bad (for the most part), and I reviewed one from the nineteenth century last year, so, you know? I’m not going to worry about it. Just wanted to point out that this book has been out for a little while.

And I’m sorry I didn’t get around to reading it sooner. Continue reading

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