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Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of SuspenseNight-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I checked this out (in Kindle format) from my local library simply to read "Night-Gaunts," & found myself unable to stop. I'd read a certain amount of Oates in the past, but never a full collection of her tales . . .wow. Definitely a mind-altering experience, though one has to get used to her ambiguous endings. In most cases, the reader is never going to be 100% sure how a particular story ended -- though this is not the same as a story dribbling away into nothing. These definitely end, but with a lot of uncertainty for both the reader and the characters.

The title tale is actually the final one (yes, I read it first), & will probably work best for those with some knowledge of H.P. Lovecraft's life. I didn't agree with all the author's plot choices in this one, but enjoyed it anyhow.

The other five stories do not have a Lovecraftian flavor (at least, they didn't to me), & could probably be appreciated by anyone with a taste for slow-burn creepiness. These are, indeed, tales of suspense rather than horror. Most of the horror is hidden between the lines of breathtakingly elegant prose. All six tales are reprints, but from such obscure sources that most readers won't have encountered more than possibly one of them before.

Highly recommended for fans of quiet/literary horror & suspense, and a great summer read for those of us who find our tastes running to darkness this time of year.





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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Blue Room

Posted on 2018.06.18 at 15:43
Tags: ,
The Blue RoomThe Blue Room by Georges Simenon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A creepy, slow-burn, literary crime novel. My first experience reading Georges Simenon (in translation -- my high school French wouldn't be up for this), and maybe not my last.

Essentially, this is the story of a passionate & adulterous affair -- possibly a love affair, possibly not -- and its consequences. The story is woven back and forth in time, adding to the reader's suspense.

For me this was practically a psychological horror novel. The main POV character, though unlikeable, is well and truly trapped. At times, his struggles seemed more cowardly than pathetic, and I never did warm up to the guy. The ending will be staying with me for a long time, though.




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DEquinox

On this day in 1963 . . .

Posted on 2018.06.16 at 17:20
Tags: , ,
XX
marks the stars
Valentina


-- Ann K. Schwader

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentina_Tereshkova

DEquinox

On this day in 1989

Posted on 2018.06.04 at 14:34
Tags: ,
the stretch
of one man's shadow
Tiananmen


-- Ann K. Schwader


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)All Systems Red by Martha Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A right-sized, straight-up SF mystery tale -- from the POV of a self-aware security android. This last bit makes all the difference. Murderbot (its own name for itself, due to a nasty piece of backstory) seems more aware of its own motivations -- and the motivations of others -- than any of the humans or augmented humans in this story.

I found Murderbot's quirky, brutally honest voice the most compelling thing about this visit to an Evil Corporate Future. The rest of the SF trappings are done well enough, but (for me) only this unique POV made the adventure stand out. I really liked Murderbot, which is why I'm sad about the Kindle pricing of future entries in the Murderbot Diaries. Novel prices for novella-length works, no matter how Nebula-winning, are pretty much a nonstarter for me

Fortunately, my local library has the next volume on order.





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Elizabeth II: Life of a MonarchElizabeth II: Life of a Monarch by Ruth Cowen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This short (8, 30 minute "chapters") Audible Original offering is a well-produced brief biography of the current Queen. It is currently available on Audible Channels, and is well worth the listening time for Anglophiles. I'm not sure whether it's available for separate purchase.

I found this light but very interesting (with a few mentions of the royal Corgis, always a plus for me). It's a fairly balanced look at at the royal family, with plenty of dirty laundry being aired along with the high points. The tone was more historical than gossipy, which I appreciated.

Good for those still curious after the recent royal wedding, or anyone wanting a solid but quick overview.







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The Prisoner of Limnos (Penric and Desdemona, #6)The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Any new Penric and Desdemona adventure is worth celebrating (and for many of us, worth acquiring). How much a reader will celebrate this one depends on whether her/his tastes run to romance or magic systems. I personally craved a little more chaos demon and "uphill magic" in action, though I found this novella's resolution satisfying.

I won't attempt to summarize the fairly straightforward rescue plot. Most of the real pleasure here lies in the working out of Pen and Nikys' relationship (though, thank all the Five Gods, it isn't completely worked out -- which means another novella), with a heavy side order of this world's religious system.

As might be expected from the title, there are some nasty threats -- including some court intrigue I did want to see worked out better -- but no serious grimdark elements. Bujold does a fine job of implying rather than detailing the sometimes violent nature of her world, which I for one appreciate.




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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Circe

Posted on 2018.05.07 at 16:07
Tags: , , ,
CirceCirce by Madeline Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is an utterly lovely -- though brutal at points & heartbreaking at other points -- book, possibly the loveliest I've read since my last Guy Gavriel Kay excursion.

Key points of The Odyssey are retold (possibly reclaimed) by a very NOT-minor minor goddess, in first person and with complete honesty. Speaking from a mythology from an ancient culture that did not value women highly, the witch/sorceress Circe turns the tables on narrative expectations and brings not only herself, but many other "minor" female characters (and monsters!) into the spotlight.

There is a definite revisionist flavor to this one, but the politics never get in the way. Highly recommended for lovers of mythology, prose poetry, and/or writers like Mary Renault.

The Audible version is narrated by Perdita Weeks, who sounds exactly as one would expect a Perdita Weeks to sound. YMMV, but I was very glad I spent a credit to enhance my experience.




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DEquinox

Earth Day, 20??

Posted on 2018.04.22 at 11:14
Tags: ,
big blue pin
in their invasion map
Earth Day


-- Ann K. Schwader

I am very happy to announce that speculative fiction webzine Abyss & Apex #66 http://www.abyssapexzine.com/ is up,
with an extensive poetry TOC:

POETRY
Introduction to Poetry Issue 66 by John C. Mannone
“The Song of Unknown Night” by Hongri Yuan
“To Watch the World Burn” by Jason Harris
“Rebellion” by Genevieve DeGuzman
“A City Built On Bones” by Ann Schwader
"Oatk Ash, and Crow" by Rebecca Buchanan
“The Honored” by WC Roberts
“Paul Bunyan and the Whirlwind Mountain” by Gabriel Ertsgaard
“La Belle a la Bête” by Brittany Hause
“Tea Leaves” by Hilary Biehl
“Zojaj” by Sheikha A.

My villanelle "A City Built On Bones" http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2018/03/a-city-built-on-bones/
was inspired by the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City, plus a healthy helping of Atzec mythology.


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