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Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Night in the Lonesome OctoberA Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back in the day, in the mid-'90s, I had the great pleasure to see Zelazny before he died. He was so full of life, so enthusiastic.

And by that time, I'd read so much by him. All the Amber books, Lord of Light, This Immortal (which shared a Hugo with Dune), and so many more that were just... FUN. This book was no different, but at the time I hadn't read it because this was currently either being written or was to be published, shortly.

I went to his reading at an SF convention and the guy literally got up on the table and barely read from his script as he performed, with glowing eyes and such energy, a scene right from A Night in Lonesome October.

We laughed, sat enraptured, and, because this was a very tiny crowd, sitting around him in one of the tiniest meeting rooms in the hotel, we all got to talk with him.

I was amazed. Thrilled. He was one of the small handful of authors that made me realize that all I wanted to be was a writer.

It really came as a shock to me when he died at only 58 of cancer, that he had not only been going through it as he wrote this book -- but that he even voiced the entire narration in the audiobook for it.

It was as if he poured all the rest of his vitality into this last project, for us.

Am I reading too much into this? No. Probably not. He was a great man and he was able to give us so much light in the time he gave to us. Maybe it just hits differently when we actually get to meet our heroes. And it hits even harder when they turn out to be that much more heroic.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Blood and RainBlood and Rain by Glenn Rolfe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perfect for werewolf fans. Updated, gory, small-town horror, desperate antics. Oh, yeah, and horny teens, beleaguered lawmen, and silver bullets.

It really ticks off all the expected elements, pulls off great pacing, and makes me think of all the other classics of the genre. Stephen King, especially. And it shows. Hello, Bangor, Maine. :)

It was very enjoyable, scratching all those nostalgia hackles, and it made me howl at the moon.

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The Wisdom of Crowds (The Age of Madness, #3)The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grimdark fantasy returns with a passion. A passion of stupidity, madness, and blood.

This caps the latest trilogy by Abercrombie, continuing the legacy of this bloody land, driving what should have been a time of peace and prosperity down into the mud until we get a novel that's quite the equivalent of the French Revolution.

Mob rule, high idealism turned into a mad bloodbath ruled by the angry and the virtue-signaling insane, frankly stupid, and reality-denying dog-whistlers.

In other words, the Wisdom of Crowds.

And no, we're not seeing ANY correlations with our own world. Nope. Not here. Definitely not.

Fortunately, I also thought this was one hell of a fun, dark ride. I felt sorry for some of my favorite characters in this last cycle, was surprised to see how much everything had changed, and even enjoyed the return of some old characters from the very first trilogy.

Well, here's to hoping there will be at least a LITTLE stability from here on out.

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Mr. ShiversMr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm very impressed with this novel for a few reasons, not least because it's a good, long adventure of revenge. I think I loved its feel of near-universal poverty set in the time of the Great Depression the most, however.

The long-off, almost impossible quest to kill the bogeyman named Mr. Shivers across this desolate America, finding bad-off friends on the dole, the trains, the evil lawmen, the poverty, poverty, poverty, just filled me with as much, or much more dread than the bad guy.

But that's okay. Atmosphere is everything in these kinds of novels. While it's not particularly scary, the journey was pretty impressive and immersive.

I should mention I'm a pretty big fan of this author's later works and will still place them much higher than this one, but I AM fascinated to see how different this is from the rest. :)

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

In Sheep's SkinIn Sheep's Skin by Scott Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-read for spooktober! 10/17/21

This is definitely no weak-ass horror novel. It's not sitting around, afraid to dive right into the squeamiest and bloodiest aspects of the human heart.

Werewolves, cults, and murders only barely scratch the surface. And if you're looking for a paranormal romance, then I'd definitely tell you to read this, too -- because I'm also a bit twisted. This is an ultimate anti-romance. It has so many of the same features, but really, I can only describe it as a romance dystopia.

Are they bad for each other? Yes. Do they keep coming back for more punishment? Yes. Is it awesomely bloody? Yes. :)

This really needs readers, folks. I'd love to see people's takes on this.

Original review:

*** Pre-Release Review ***

It is my total pleasure to say that Scott Hale has done it again. In a field that has provided so many variations on a werewolf theme, he has, in full awareness of all the conventions, outdone the lot of them.

No cute, loveable werewolves here.

Only complicated human dynamics, fantastic use of Liminal Space (look it up if you're curious), and some of the most gut-wrenching transformations (psychological or meat-grinding) I've ever read.

And I've read a lot of great horrors. I'm no slouch. But when I say this hits my originality radar, I ask you to pay attention. There are several layers of mirroring going on in the story. There are many instances of true surprise. But do you know what the most impressive feature is?

The inevitability. The sick, twisted feel of inevitability.

And this is extra impressive because these two kids are not stupid. They're fully aware of themselves and the danger and their own shortcomings. They do what they can.

But I've got to be honest... I've never seen a more twisted co-dependency relationship in fiction. I mean, there are a LOT of those in fiction, movies, REAL LIFE... but this one pretty much takes the cake.

The full-moon cake. :)

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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Defying Destiny (The War of Broken Mirrors, #3)Defying Destiny by Andrew Rowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good end to a decent fantasy trilogy. Just saying that this has tons of magic a-la D&D, godlike powers subquests, epic weapons, and tons of adventure doesn't really do it justice. It's character-driven and has an epic load of peeps to enjoy.

Of course, it needs to be read in conjunction with the other two books, but I found this to be an altogether fun, light read. I kinda feel like I just read a JRPG that's heavy on a few D&D concepts, and while that doesn't scream *original*, it did provide me with a good deal of fun.

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Stealing Sorcery (The War of Broken Mirrors, #2)Stealing Sorcery by Andrew Rowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I personally think that this second book is better than the first. Or at least, I'm now comfortable enough with the main character that I really enjoyed the part mystery, part tournament, part training, part gorgeous magical bloodshed better than before.

I liked the team building, the discovery of skills, the hints of greater things.

In other words, this was a fine and good fantasy that I admire.

Now, while I won't quite rate these two as some of the finest fantasies I've read, I did have a lot of good, clean, fun. And that's what we're looking for with ancient godlike blades and abilities, no?

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