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OK, it’s actually spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. So what? I’m still delighted to announce that the long-awaited Autumn Cthulhu anthology (edited by Mike Davis) is available now from Lovecraft eZine Press!

This one has a killer TOC, with 18 stories and one poem celebrating the darkest and most Lovecraftian aspects of the season. It’s available in both paperback & Kindle formats. And, yes, I do have an item in it. Where did you think that poem came from?

For more information, & to order, check here.

DEquinox

Earth Day 3016 . . .

Posted on 2016.04.22 at 12:17
Tags: ,
                        
Earth Day
the archived hologram
flickers


-- Ann K. Schwader

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (Vorkosigan Saga, #16)Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It’s almost impossible to review this one without spoilers. Suffice it to say that this is what fans of the Vorkosigan universe have been waiting for since the ending of Cryoburn.

Set three years after those events, this is a lovely, strange, and mature romantic comedy with science-fiction packaging – some of that quite thought-provoking. It is also a Secret History of the Aral / Cordelia marriage, an advanced course in Betan vs. Barrayaran thinking, and a number of other delightful things, all delivered with style and wit.

What is isn’t is the sort of space opera Bujold does very well. It took me a few chapters to realize this wasn’t forthcoming, and I was slightly confused until I did. I also suspect that this book may resonate more with readers who are parents than with those of us who aren’t. However, it’s a must for all fans of this series – and very likely to result in frantic rereading of the earlier books.




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DEquinox

Return of the Grateful Happy Dance

Posted on 2016.02.24 at 15:37
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As I suspect most of the genre-reading world already knows, The Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot was announced yesterday, here.

Congratulations to everyone listed!

And if you scroll all the way down, you’ll see why Yours Truly has gone back into her Grateful Happy Dance.

DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Crimson Shore

Posted on 2016.02.09 at 16:05
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Crimson Shore (Agent Pendergast, #15)Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I’m a long-time reader of this series, and a major fan of Constance Greene, but this latest installment of Special Agent Pendergast’s adventures left me a little cold. It was well-crafted, and seemed to have all the required elements of a really good Preston & Child thriller -- but those elements just weren’t coming together in a coherent plotline.

To begin with, the “mundane” mystery – dark historical secrets of a small New England town leading to multiple bizarre murders – went on a little too long (for me, anyhow) before the weird/possibly supernatural component kicked in. The pages definitely kept turning, but the two elements never quite meshed.

The relationship between Pendergast and Constance took some damage, too. I’ve been intrigued by their subtle, strange, almost-chemistry for the past few novels, but this one included a remarkably awkward scene I wasn’t prepared for. As a plot device, it did what it was probably meant to do (and I can’t say more without committing Spoiler); but as character development, it struck some false notes.

There is also the matter of the ending . . . again, without committing Spoiler, I can’t say why it didn’t work well for me. Though cliffhangers are nothing new for this series, this one felt unusually opaque. I was left wondering where the next few chapters were, rather than looking forward to resolution in the next novel.

I did enjoy the read – most of the time – savored the character details, and certainly haven’t given up on the series. Fellow Pendergastlies will of course want to read it in order to keep up, but I suspect I’m not the only one feeling a bit let down. YMMV.




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The latest issue of Spectral Realms, a weird poetry journal (plus articles & reviews on that topic) has been announced for sale at Hippocampus Press.

Edited by S.T. Joshi, this twice-yearly journal always offers a bumper crop of dark poetry & poets, but this time around it’s massive: 144 pages! Delivered in a nicely produced trade paperback format, it’s less a magazine than a permanent addition to any weird lit lover’s collection. Good for your dark-minded Valentine, too!

For the full TOC and ordering details, check here. The journal ships free within the USA, & free worldwide with any other qualifying purchase from the press.

[Truth in LiveJournaling: yes, I do have two poems in this issue. One is a very up-to-date bit of cosmic horror based on the discoveries of New Horizons.]

DEquinox

Thirty years ago today . . .

Posted on 2016.01.28 at 12:46
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never
so clear again
Canaveral sky

                         -- Ann K. Schwader

(a memorial article from The Washington Post is here)

The HWA’s 2015 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot is out now, here. Congratulations & best of luck to all!

Scroll down – way, way down – to see why Yours Truly is doing a very grateful Happy Dance.

(Sorry for this news being a bit late, but I spent the weekend picking teeth out of my office carpet. )

DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Slade House

Posted on 2016.01.12 at 16:06
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<Slade HouseSlade House by David Mitchell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This very odd, very well-written, and intermittently spooky short novel was my first read of 2016. It was also my first experience with David Mitchell’s writing, which might have been part of the problem I had with it.

I’ve read elsewhere that this author (of The Bone Clocks, Cloud Atlas, and other works, some of which can be described as speculative) tends to interweave the elements of his novels. If so, that might explain why I had so much trouble waiting for certain concepts to be explained – in vain – or why the middle of the book seemed so slow.

It’s entirely possible that I was missing something important. Perhaps having essentially the same series of disquieting events happen to three separate victims of Slade House (and I’m not going to add any spoilers!) was intentional. Perhaps I was meant to know, or care, more about these first three individuals than I did. Unfortunately, I barely made it through the first three sections of this novel before getting caught up in its two-section conclusion – which did deliver a pretty nasty plot twist.

There’s nothing wrong with Mitchell’s prose here, or his skill in building creepy atmosphere. Fans of quiet horror will likely find much to admire. All in all, I suspect I’m being unfair by only awarding this one three stars rather than four, but I’ve got to report my own experience.




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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Penric's Demon

Posted on 2016.01.06 at 15:50
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Penric&quot;s Demon (World of the Five Gods, #3.5)Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Set within the Chalion / Five Gods portion of Bujold’s works, this novella is a must-read for her fans (I’m one of them) – and recommended for other fantasy enthusiasts who enjoy world-building and complex characterization without massive doses of graphic violence. Though there’s plenty of action & convincing darkness, the narrative would work for both YA and adult readers.

As always with Bujold, relationships take precedence here. When a young lord whose family has seen better days accidently becomes the newest host of a “demon” (a supernatural being linked to religious magic), he reacts by trying to make friends with the entity. This unusual choice – demons are generally treated as unwilling servants of the sorcerers they inhabit -- drives the rest of the narrative at a brisk pace. Readers of Bujold’s Chalion novels will discover small but tasty additions to that lore. Readers new to the series are unlikely to find themselves lost, but may not appreciate this adventure quite as much.

This novella is a fine example of a fantasy written to its proper length, and no further. I was fully satisfied with the tale when it ended, though (of course!) I wished there were a few more waiting in the wings.




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