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DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: Sacrificial Nights

Posted on 2017.02.15 at 11:46
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Sacrificial NightsSacrificial Nights by Bruce Boston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a dark and effective novella-in-poems (with some prose / prose poem passages), weaving the lives of several characters into a compelling plot. The collaboration of Boston and Manzetti is nearly seamless, and the pages turn far more quickly than one would expect. The overall effect is one of noir hallucination, with several photomontage illustrations (by UK artist Ben Baldwin) enhancing the experience.

Aficionados of free verse, modern prose poetry, or noir fiction will probably find this a five-star ride. I prefer a little more structure and music, but still found myself unable to look away before this urban apocalypse reached its conclusion.

Full disclosure: I was supplied with an e-copy for Bram Stoker Award consideration.





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DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: The Girl on the Train

Posted on 2017.02.07 at 16:05
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The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you enjoy figuring out unreliable narrators, this one is definitely for you. Told through the perspectives of three young (to me, anyhow!) women, all of whom have serious problems in their lives, a fairly ordinary whodunit becomes something very hard to put down.

Recommended for those who enjoy female-centered thrillers, modern UK atmosphere, and a heavy dose of interpersonal drama. I found myself liking this one more than I expected to, possibly because I've ridden the London area commuter trains that figure so heavily in the plot.





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DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: Buddhism for Beginners

Posted on 2017.01.31 at 14:03
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Buddhism for BeginnersBuddhism for Beginners by Thubten Chodron

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I'm rating this three stars rather than four due to the audio format. It's very well presented, but there is simply too much information in this short book to absorb in audio.

That said, this is a very good introduction to Buddhism for the curious, with an amazing amount of data packed into four hours of listening! It's clear and well-organized, and covers several different traditions. I suspect a hard copy or Kindle edition is the way to go with this one -- it seems intended for reference, as well as for reading straight through.





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Penric and the Shaman (World of the Five Gods, #1.6)Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Another delightful return to Bujold's World of the Five Gods, though with a somewhat confusing look into how shamanism works in that culture. (I've been told that reading The Hallowed Hunt first might help. I have somehow missed this one, & definitely intend to do that!)

This is very clearly the second in a series, so reading Penric's Demon first will let the reader get the most out of another right-sized fantasy adventure featuring a very young "full-braid divine" and his much more experienced demon. I'm already looking forward to reading the third of this series, now waiting on my Kindle.



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DEquinox

last footprints

Posted on 2017.01.17 at 15:06
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dust
of a waning moon
last footprints


                      -- Ann K. Schwader

                Gene Cernan, last astronaut on the moon, is gone at 82
                http://wapo.st/2jpCsXf


I'm still catching up with contributors' copies, etc. from the end-of-year deluge, but wanted to mention that Colorado's own Centipede Press has recently released Weird Fiction Review #7.

This annual journal -- so big that my contrib arrived in a box of its own! -- is edited by S.T. Joshi, and offers over 350 pp. of fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, reviews, and artwork, all in a very handsome sewn paperback edition with color covers & much interior color.

The fiction this time around is by Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Howard Jones, Jonathan Thomas, John Shirley & Don Webb, and Nicole Cushing. Poetry is by Christina Sng, Ian Futter, K.A. Opperman, John Shirley, Wade German, Ashley Dioses, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard -- & Yours Truly.

There are also articles by Charles A. Gramlich, Jason V. Brock, Chad Hensley, and others; a column by John Pelan, and more.

For more information, or to order at a discount, please check here.

DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Obsidian Chamber

Posted on 2017.01.05 at 15:44
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The Obsidian Chamber (Pendergast #16)The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This latest Pendergast adventure was both satisfying and oddly disappointing. Unfortunately, despite it being devoted to winding up a number of mysteries and family secrets, the disappointment prevailed for me.

Without revealing any plot points -- almost anything in this one could be a spoiler! -- I've got to admit that this one felt way too much like a mundane thriller. It was certainly well-crafted, with plenty of military details & exotic locales, but it seemed to lack that hint of Otherness most books in this series have. Pendergast never goes fully into the supernatural, but he frequently skirts the edges of it, or at least leaves the reader wondering whether something truly strange might be going on. This time, however, he stuck to the real world (or at least his variant of it). Black ops, yes. Black rites, not a sniff.

This may simply be a matter of personal preference. Most regular readers of this series are likely to be fascinated enough by seeing several long-running plotlines come together, or by picking up yet more esoteric details of Pendergast's background. I will definitely continue reading this series, but I'll be hoping for a bit more of the weird/ horrific next time around.





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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Highwayman

Posted on 2016.12.06 at 14:20
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The Highwayman: A Longmire StoryThe Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A genuinely spooky bit of modern Gothic, with twists all the way to the end. Familiarity with at least some of the other books -- or the TV adaptation -- might be helpful, though this tale doesn't appear to fit into a particular point in the series.

Johnson's evocation of northern Wyoming in the early spring is bone-chillingly accurate (I'm a native of the state), and his continuing cast of characters all feel like old friends. The plot justifies its novella length without overstaying its welcome. A must read for fans of the series -- though anyone interested in contemporary Western mysteries would probably enjoy it.



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It Can't Happen HereIt Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a dated (especially in some of the language relating to minorities) but still deeply disturbing piece of speculative fiction. First published in 1935, it does an excellent job of showing the life cycle of a "regime change" in a democratic society unable to sustain itself.

Lewis is more than occasionally dogmatic, but there are memorable ideas and phrases in nearly every chapter. The protagonist is flawed enough to be sympathetic, and the plot does move, though I felt the ending was a little rushed. As with most dystopias, some suspension of disbelief is required -- but I found the effort more than worthwhile.








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When it comes to reviews, glad tidings are always welcome!

Hippocampus Press publisher Derrick Hussey recently let me know about some very kind words re my 2015 fiction collection Dark Equinox & Other Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. In Wormwood #27, reviewer John Howard finds that


. . . Schwader unflinchingly shows the disintegration of the personal and the cosmic: and nothing is, or ever again can be, secure. (re 'When the Stars Run Away')

Intense and with a superb sense of place, each tale refers obliquely back to one or more stories or concepts from the Cthulhu Mythos, and runs with it in a refreshingly distinctive way. Lively and intriguing, they are utterly Lovecraftian in spirit. (re my five linked tales of Cassie Barrett)


Dark Equinox is available from the publisher, or from Amazon in both print and Kindle formats.


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