Friday, October 19, 2018

You Never Cared



Michele L. Montgomery
Self-Published
Reviewed by Nancy
3 out of 5 stars



Summary




Jordan is a golden child — wealthy, popular, the self-professed ruler of the senior class. Jordan is also a bully, a bully whose group of friends mercilessly tormented seventeen-year-old Casper for being different, for being poor, for suffering silently. Random acts of abuse from his classmates were par for the course in Casper’s life, until one night, the bullying evolved into a hate crime and he, unable to endure, longing for peace, finally took his own life.

You Never Cared is the heartbreaking tale, told in Jordan’s words, of a life stolen, of love lost, and of a soul compromised. But ultimately, it is a story of forgiveness and redemption. As Sammy, Casper’s friend and lover, attempts to cope with the anguish of his boyfriend’s loss, Jordan attempts to own his part in the crime, trying to make amends but knowing his only hope is to carry on Casper’s legacy, to work to build a better future for boys and girls who, like Casper, just need a strong voice to encourage and stand up for them.



My Review



Bullying is an epidemic that has troubled teachers and students for years. The psychological and degrading effect it has on its victims is far more lasting than any physical wounds.

I am glad there are realistic works of fiction, such as this story, that explore the negative effects of bullying on the victim, the victim’s classmates who witness the bullying, and the bullies themselves.

17-year-old Casper takes his own life as a result of bullying that has gone too far. This story is told from the perspective of Jordan, who allowed his friends to torment Casper, and who was once his friend until their lives went in separate directions.

Sadly, this story did not have the emotional impact on me that it should have. Maybe there were too many “I” sentences, too much introspection, too much telling and not showing. I just couldn’t feel Jordan’s pain, suffering, and remorse, while Sammy’s agony broke my heart. I wanted to understand why Jordan allowed a friend to suffer and I wanted to be convinced he was sorry, but I didn’t like him any better at the end than I did at the beginning.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Riyria Sampler

The Riyria SamplerThe Riyria Sampler by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First and foremost I must mention that the Riyria Sampler is free on Amazon and Michael J. Sullivan's website. Michael J. Sullivan's site has various format options while Amazon only offers a Kindle edition.

The Thieves

This short story is one I'm familiar with as it's in the omnibus Theft of Swords. Hadrian and Royce find themselves about to be robbed until a choice word changes the conversation. I do enjoy reading about Royce being helpful.

3 out of 5 stars


The Viscount

A woman asks for help, Hadrian springs to her aid, and Royce scowls.

The Viscount perfectly explains Hadrian and Royce's personalities. Hadrian sees himself as a hero and is willing to do good for good's sake. Royce is brooding and jaded while exuding an air of danger. The two are opposites in seemingly every way yet they balance each other's shortcomings.

The Viscount while simple provides a good look into the members of Riyria.

3 out of 5 stars


The Jester

Riyria has been hired by a candle makers widow to help find a treasure. A dwarf Jester left pieces to a map and dangerous traps for any who would come looking.

The Jester is a solid short story that depicts the kind of mess Riyria usually finds itself in. Nothing ground breaking occurs. This is the type of short story that truly doesn't add much to the larger story although it reinforces the duo's effectiveness and relationship.

3.5 out of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

EVO BY DIANE MAY

EVOEVO by Diane May
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

”’From the info we have so far the virus kills between forty-eight and seventy-two hours after infection, and its R naught number is 16-20.’

Marchiori’s brows knitted. ‘R naught?’

‘Basic reproduction number. It shows how many people a single infected individual can contaminate. Basically how fast it spreads.’

‘And I’m assuming this is a bad number.’

‘Well, if you think back in 1918--when they didn’t have all the highways and skyways to travel on in a matter of hours from one part of the planet to the other--there was a worldwide outbreak of the swine flu that killed nearly fifty million people, and the R naught number was 1.4-2.8, then yes, I’d say it’s beyond bad. Probably closer to end-of-the-world plague, rotting corpses in the streets, death of civilization as we know it.’”


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This isn’t a virus you can run from. If let loose on the world, it will eventually find every nook and cranny of the earth, every mountain cabin, island retreat, and Arctic station. Even the rich who cocoon themselves from the world will find themselves equally susceptible. Possibly it could reach them when their maid brings their 5 o’clock martini sprinkled with a sneeze she could not contain as she plunked a fat green olive in the vodka.

So the point is, you can’t hide from it.

The only solution is to stop it before it can jump on a horse of the apocalypse and ride across the curve of the Earth with the scythe of death flung wide.

Of course, you might be fine.

Maybe.

If you have a very special gene, the G Gene. Which if you say it really fast, it sounds a bit like the ratcheting of a shotgun or the ringing of a sale on an old fashioned cash register. The Cha-ching of the G Gene.

Who would develop a dangerous virus like this? The Americans, the Russians, the Israelis, Muslim terrorists? Or how about Marvin, the chubby pimple faced twenty-seven year old, living in his mom’s basement, a proud member of the involuntary celibate group INCEL (yes, it really does exist.), who dug out the chemistry set that Uncle Ted gave him for his twelfth birthday and began experimenting on the neighborhood cats and his nieces and nephews until he had the superbug that would separate the population chaff from the plump kernels.

That boy was just never quite right, but no, it wasn’t Marvin, nor was it any of the other potential government/terrorists entities who might be looking for a break-glass-only-in-case-of-emergence Z solution to world domination.

It is something much more insidious, a billionaire who knows he has the G Gene with immunity from the virus. He is deluded and arrogant enough to believe that he is Thanos, about to save the world from overpopulation inspired starvation. ( I never really thought of Thanos as an environmentalist until Infinity Wars. Batshit crazy environmentalist, but still technically a Planet First kind of guy.)

Yes, Von Eckstein is a super villain, and who do you call when you need to fight a super villain? Well, I call Bond, James Bond, with a shaken not stirred martini cocktail in hand, ready to point him to the epicenter of this fiendish plot in a bunker in Verona.

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Juliet’s Balcony. Photo supplied by Diane May. (photo credit: www.ricwebdesign.com)

Wait? What? Verona? The home of Romeo and Juliet? The center of passion and unrequited love? It can’t be. It is such an endearingly cute, damn town. How could something so horrible be created in such a place? It is dastardly clever, in my opinion, to hide something hideous among the lovely architecture and beaming tourist trade.

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Piazza BrĂ . Photo supplied by Diane May (photo credit: www.ricwebdesign.com).

So the author, Diane May, does not call Bond, but she does bring in the American Alexander O’Neal, who works for some agency so secret that I wonder if he even knows really who he works for, and my favorite character of the book Verona Police Detective Livio Marchiori. I do have hopes that he will prove to be a replacement for my beloved Italian Detective Aurelio Zen, created by Michael Dibdon. (If you have not seen the trilogy called Zen starring Rufus Sewell, give it a look. It is fantastic.)

Now Marchiori is plagued by more than the threat of a life changing/ending superbug. He has a new partner who is more annoying than useful at this point. He has an American dark ops agent who is frankly out of control. He has a woman he must protect because she inadvertently stumbled into the virus plot who also seems intent on self-destruction. He has a crazed psycho killer who seems to be able to use hypnosis to induce people to kill themselves.

WTF?

”I can’t control it, she realized and a crushing wave of panic stormed over her. He was controlling her, controlling her own brain, telling her body what to do. It felt as though two entities lived inside her skull. Hers and his. A dark presence that she just couldn’t fight against.”

I give that a double *shiver*.

This is the perfect book for a long plane ride, or an afternoon on the beach. It pairs well with a chilled white wine or with a more robust merlot. Smoke them if you got them, but I wouldn’t recommend a funny cigarette of the “joint” variety as the natural paranoia induced by such a repast could be increased exponentially by the treacherous weavings of this insidious plot. I did dance with the book a few times, but when I did finally settle into the cadence of the writing I finished it in a single afternoon. There are original concepts, Q-esque gadgets, and a plot that will keep the pages turning. There is a hit the brakes with both feet plot twist that may leave even the most jaded among us feeling good about humanity. Oh yes, and there is unrequited love. How could a novel largely set in Verona be written without a dash of love?

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Picture supplied by Diane May. (photo credit: www.ricwebdesign.com)

Diane May lives in Verona and after plying her with all the charm I possess I convinced her to let me fly to Verona to sit down with her for an interview. (Some of this statement is a lie.)

Jeffrey Keeten: Excuse the pun, but where/when/how did this "germ" of an idea of a plot come together for you? What got you started writing?

Diane May: What got me started writing was Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun. I read it when I was 13 years old and loved it so much that I didn’t want it to end. So when it inevitably did, I decided to continue the story because I couldn’t bear the thought of having to leave the amazing world he had created. I soon discovered that my words didn’t seem to hold the same magical power though, as my characters seemed adamant on remaining lifeless stick figures and they didn’t jump off the page the way his did. But I kept at it, I read and wrote, I even won writing contests in school (because my literature teacher made me write stories when she discovered I was good at this), but I never actually considered writing for readers. I only wanted to write for myself, to create worlds and characters and, more often than not, I would do this in my mind without even putting it down on paper. Until one day when my husband found a novel I had written while I was at university and he loved it so much that I started writing for him. He’s always been an avid reader, just like me, and from that moment on he also became my critic, editor and motivator. And… the rest is history.
As for the idea for this story… well, I’ve always been fascinated by two things: genetics and the universe. I watch documentaries and Ted Talks about them, and one day, after watching an amazing BBC documentary about genetic engineering, I started picturing in my mind the scenario in Evo, more specifically the part at the end. And then I did some research and found out that we’re actually not that far from this scenario and that there are already scientists who are officially working on extending our current lifespan. And then I started thinking about illegal genetic experiments and what happens when we play with things that are beyond our understanding. Because no matter how much medicine has advanced, we still don’t understand how a tiny change in our DNA will affect human evolution in the long run. And so Evo was born.

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Diane May (photo credit: www.ricwebdesign.com)

Jeffrey Keeten: I could tell you are a military brat because you are very comfortable with your descriptions of weapons and military/spy gadgets. I particularly liked the cell phone sized gadget that messed with cameras for 60 seconds. I could use one of those walking around in the States given all the camera lens trained on us wherever we go. Can you share a bit of your background while being a military family? Did the government move you around a bit?

Diane May: Yes, it did… a lot. The first time it happened I was eight years old and I cried and cried because I didn’t want to leave my friends. The second time it happened I was eleven and I promised myself I would never make friends again. And so I started reading more – I was already in love with reading – and never left the house, except when I had to go to school or my mum told me to take out the garbage. My parents got worried because I would read between one and three books a day, depending on the length of the book, and I completely refused to go out and make friends. But I was happy because books never left you and they were portals to magical, wonderful worlds. However, there’s much more to life as a military brat than just the pain of constantly making friends and then losing them. I lived on military bases at times, I became interested in guns and military technology, I even learnt the Morse Code when I was 15 and most of my friends were either like me or soldiers… And you know what’s interesting? That even now as an adult who hasn’t lived on a military base for over twenty years, I still see army as a home and men and women in uniform as completely trustworthy.

The gadget you mention is purely my invention, as is the black bag O’Neal uses to destroy evidence during his mission in Moscow. And by the way, if the army is interested in making them they can go right ahead and do it, I hereby give them permission. :))

JK: You take us to America and also give us a peek of Transylvania. Have you had a chance to visit the other places besides Verona that are featured in your novel?

DM: Actually, I was born in Transylvania and I still go back there every few years. I also visited Germany and other countries in Europe, but I’ve never been to Africa. Sibiu, the city I mention in Transylvania, is the city I was born in and it’s close to Dracula’s Castle, which I visit quite often as Dracula is my uncle and he can get really grumpy if I don’t go and see him. Kidding! But here’s an interesting fact about me: I was born at two am on a full moon night in a town shrouded in a fog so dense that it looked like an impenetrable gray wall, and wolves were howling in the dark forest at the edge of the town. There was a terrible wind that night and when I came into the world and cried, like all babies do, a gust of wind opened the window and swept through the room so violently that the small white blanket the nurse was about to cover me with flew out of her hands and into the darkness outside, never to be found again. My grandma crossed herself and told my mom to always keep a crucifix by my head in the cot so the strigoi (vampires) can’t take me.

Vampires apart, Transylvania is an amazing place with breathtaking scenery, superb cities (see Sibiu, Brasov, Sighisoara), delicious food and wonderful people.

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Picture taken by Diane May. (photo credit: www.ricwebdesign.com)

JK: You mentioned to me when we were corresponding about your book that you worked as a Juliet secretary which I found fascinating. Could you explain to my friends and followers what that job is exactly?

DM: If you’ve seen the movie Letters to Juliet, you might remember this quote: “There is a place in Verona where people who suffer can leave a message to ask Juliet for help.” That place is called Juliet Club, it’s real and it receives tens of thousands of letters and emails every year from people from all over the world. The story of the Dear Juliet letters started in the 1930s when Ettore Solimani, Juliet’s Tomb keeper, began gathering the letters people left at her grave. Moved by their stories and wanting to help them, he started replying and signed as Juliet’s Secretary and, in doing so, created this decades-old tradition. Now there’s an army of volunteers who do this, and although you’d be tempted to think that since we’re living in a highly technological era the number of emails the Club receives far exceeds that of the letters written by hand, the truth is that when writing about the matters of the heart people still prefer to use good old-fashioned pen and paper. When you’re there and you see all those letters written in so many different languages and coming from the four corners of the Earth, as Shakespeare would say, you understand that the one thing all human beings have in common, no matter their age, nationality and social status, is the need to love and be loved. Some write because they seek advice, others need hope and reassurance that they will sooner or later find their soulmate, and a few just want to say thank you for having met the one they want to spend the rest of their lives with. When you sit down at that table, open a letter and start reading it you fully understand why Ettore Solimani couldn’t throw them away and felt compelled to write back. Reading something which comes straight from the heart and soul of another human being is so powerful and so moving that it tears down all your walls and defenses and settles in your heart, and you find yourself unable to ignore it; it becomes your problem, your priority. And the answer you send back has a piece of your heart in it. What Juliet’s Secretaries do is not just simply answer letters, but send out hope; hope that time and obstacles don’t matter, that one day we will meet the one we’re destined to be with for the rest of our lives.

JK: One of your villains, the enhanced ability Hypnotist, was a guy that the X-Men might find themselves fighting, yet the way you presented his abilities it seemed so plausible. I can't think of anything more frightening than having someone who can control our actions and be able to take over our minds. Did/do you have nightmares about this guy?

DM: Ah, this is a tough question. When I first started thinking about him, picturing what he does and how he does it I tried to look at it clinically, like a scientist merely observing what happens in an experiment. This helped me to become somewhat immune to him, but writing those scenes still sent shivers down my spine and made my heart beat faster. The very idea of hypnosis scares me because we don’t fully understand how the mind works, yet we are arrogant enough to claim we can control it. Believe it or not, what gave me nightmares while writing the book was not his ability to take over our minds, but the reasons behind it, the thirst to kill and the fact that he’s completely devoid of any positive human emotions. And when I wrote the scene where you find out why he is the way he is, you know what kept me up at night? The fact that I could understand him, I could actually see that tortured little boy shedding his humanity and crossing over to the dark side. And I felt sorry for him.

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Diane May (photo credit: www.ricwebdesign.com)

JK: So what are you working on next? Is this a first of a series or do you intend to write stand alone novels?

DM: When I wrote Evo I intended it to be a stand alone novel but after receiving reviews and messages where people told me how they loved Livio Marchiori, the homicide detective in the book, and how they would like to meet him again, I’m now thinking about writing a series with him as the main character. I already have some ideas in mind so that’s definitely a possibility, but the book I am currently working on is another stand alone novel, a crime thriller called Till Death Do Us Part. And trust me when I say it, there’s a new serial killer in town and he's looking forward to meeting you. ;)

JK: Yes! I’m so glad to hear that you will be bringing Livio Marchiori even more to life in a future novel!

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Monday, October 15, 2018

The Razor's Edge

The Razor's EdgeThe Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm giving this five stars. I don't know if it's exactly perfect, but I liked a bit better than Maugham's other most famous works which I highly enjoyed, Of Human Bondage and The Painted Veil, so that's saying something!

Looking at it, The Razor's Edge appears to be a sort of family saga. Maugham places himself into the center of the story, the author of some repute who gets invited into society for being the interesting, up-and-coming artist of the day. This gives him the opportunity to peek into the lives of the family members and relay the details to the reader.

The actual central figure is Larry Darrell, a WWI pilot suffering from PTSD. Larry turns away from society life to seek the meaning of his own life. This afford Maugham the opportunity to Herman Hesse-up his book with transcendentalism.

Actually, that was probably the whole point of The Razor's Edge. The family saga is a mere backdrop. However, I liked and appreciated Maugham's couching his religious pondering in a story. You might even call it a parable, for Larry is a very Jesus like figure, a loving and caring man who seems to be able to perform miracles amongst the sinful masses.

This may not be five stars for everyone, but I'll freely recommend it to everyone.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Pentacle

PentaclePentacle by William Meikle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When John, the concierge of a haunted boarding house, hears something in the basement, he goes down to investigate and finds tapes left by the previous man to hold his post. As he listens to the tapes, he's horrified to find the exact events on the tapes unfolding around him...

Broken Sigil was my first William Meikle book and this book is part of the same mythology: creepy ass houses that draw troubled people to them, people who bear sigils carved into their flesh.

This one is all suspense, glimpses at the horrors from beyond that threaten to break through into our world. It's all John can do to keep the house in order, much less fix whatever has caused things to come unraveled. As with a lot of great horror, Meikle provides enough hints for readers to fill in the blanks and supply a lot of the really horrible shit themselves.

Pentacle reminded me of 14 a bit, probably because of the mysterious setting and the contraption in the basement. I really like the mythology Meikle is building on here and plan to track down the related works at some point.

In a time where I can't seem to find enough time to read, William Meikle has proved time and time again that I can count on him for a solid story every time. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Criss Cross


Jordan Castillo Price
JCP Books
Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars



Summary



Criss Cross finds the ghosts surrounding Victor getting awfully pushy. The medications that Victor usually takes to control his abilities are threatening to destroy his liver, and his new meds aren't any more effective than sugar pills.

Vic is also adjusting to a new PsyCop partner, a mild-mannered guy named Roger with all the personality of white bread. At least he's willing to spring for the Starbucks.

Jacob’s ex-boyfriend, Crash, is an empathic healer who might be able to help Victor pull his powers into balance, but he seems more interested in getting into Victor’s pants than in providing any actual assistance.



My Review



Criss Cross is the second story in the Psy Cop series. Once again, a well-written, fun, fast-paced and suspenseful story told from Victor’s perspective. On a fishing trip with his former partner, Maurice, Vic discovers that his ability to see and communicate with the dead is amplified when he sees dead faces in the water. Meanwhile, his former partner, Lisa, informs Jacob that Vic is in danger, and Vic wants to figure out why he is scratching Jacob. Vic needs answers from Lisa, but she is in a training center in California for psychics and is unreachable. So Vic asks his new partner, Roger, to take him to California.

What a ride!

This is a very satisfying and engaging story that blends elements of mystery, suspense and romance. The reader is given a little more background about Victor’s past, and it is easy to understand why he behaves the way he does. Jacob is really showing what a sensitive and fiercely protective guy he can be. It is so obvious that he loves Vic and is willing to give him the time he needs to trust in their relationship.

The sex scenes are hot, sweet, and emotionally intense.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Wrath of Empire

Wrath of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #2)Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Landfall has fallen. The Dynize have taken over and are bringing in their armies. Lady Vlora Flint and Ben Styke are fleeing with their troops while protecting the refugees. Michel Bravis remains in Landfall attempting to help refugees escape the city. The Red Hand and his forces have enacted a plan that will require Vlora, Ben, Michel, and their allies to do their part and perhaps end the Dynize threat for good.

Wrath of Empire is a solid sequel to Sins of Empire. Anyone who has read the Powder Mage trilogy or Sins of Empire will undoubtedly have a great feel for how the story will go. The story has multiple point of view characters, intense army battles, espionage, and more than it's fair share of arrogant pricks.

The best part of the story for me is that Brian McClellan really delved deep into the psyches of Ben Styke and Michel Bravis. The reader gets to learn of both of them as men fully and they each go through intense quests externally and internally. Ben starts to look at himself and who he was and does not like everything he sees. Michel is forced into a massively uncomfortable spot on minimal information and the results aren't entirely what I expected. I didn't care for him at all at the end of the first book so the change was enjoyable.

The third point of view character, Vlora, I wasn't entirely thrilled with. Vlora had a quote about herself that summed up her storyline in this book,
"She wasn't going to fight her way out of this -- her only chance was to talk. Unfortunately, she was not good at talking."

Vlora truly since the start of the story has done a magnificent job of making enemies instead of friends. She did a reasonable job making a few friends, but a bit of diplomacy would have saved her untold amounts of turmoil. I can say that Vlora does care deeply about her troops and she's willing to do whatever she can to protect them. Her growth just seems minimal.

The strange part about the book they continues to bother me slightly is the Dynize. They seem to behave as stereotypically Asian people despite being a bunch of red headed characters. They have their family name before their name like Asians like Ka-Sedial. Their dress is a more Asian style. Seemingly everything about that reads as though they should be Asian. I just find the choice to be odd. I have to continually remind myself they are a bunch of redheads as I continually picture Asian people when I read about their interactions.

Wrath of Empire suffers from the same shortcomings as it's predecessors as the villains are largely unexlpored. In the Powder Mage trilogy there was no particularly main villain rather than a nation against another nation. The occasional villain would appear such as Duke Nikslaus or Kresimir, but the story never delves into these individuals enough to make them the enjoyable adversaries they should be. The same problem exists in this series. Outside of the elderly Ka-Sedial and a few of his minions there is no one to specifically root against. It just focuses on the nameless Dynize who are out to get the protagonists. I wish the story would delve into an strong antagonist or two as it would increase the tension for me.

Wrath of Empire was solid, it's best trait however is it left me excited to read the conclusion of the trilogy.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

BORN TO BE POSTHUMOUS: THE ECCENTRIC LIFE & MYSTERIOUS GENIUS OF EDWARD GOREY BY MARK DERY

Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward GoreyBorn to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”Only now are art critics, scholars of children’s literature, historians of book-cover design and commercial illustration, and chroniclers of the gay experience in postwar America waking up to the fact that Gorey is a critically neglected genius. His consummately original vision--expressed in virtuosic illustrations and poetic texts but articulated with equal verve in book-jacket design, verse plays, puppet shows, and costumes and sets for ballets and Broadway productions--has earned him a place in the history of American art and letters.”

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I first experienced Edward Gorey without even knowing I was in his world. The introduction to PBS’s long running series MYSTERY! was where I first brushed up against the uniqueness of Gorey’s imagination. I was in 8th grade. I can remember sitting there completely taken aback, unsure of what I’d just seen, but I knew I’d never seen anything like it before. Every week I watched the opening very carefully looking for anything that I missed the week before. It never occured to me to find out who the creator was of this wonderful opening or pursue other work by him. I wasn’t a fully developed researcher and collector of those things that pleased me...yet.

So when Little, Brown contacted me to see if I was interested in reviewing a biography of Edward Gorey, I felt a whole host of emotions. A) Even though I had occasionally browsed his books, I had never really allowed myself to be seduced by his work. B) I’d been in a Victorian phase for many years now and still had never delved into the carefully cross-hatched Victorian figures that Gorey created. C) This book could be the impetus to encourage me to finally launch a full out investigation of all things Gorey. D) I was thrilled with the opportunity to maybe finally close a circle begun when I was 13 years old.

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Gorey was all that I hoped he would be. He was a voracious reader. He took a book with him everywhere so that any time he found himself waiting in line or stuck in a boring situation he could pull out his book and take himself elsewhere. He had over 21,000 books in his library at his death. He watched over 1,000 movies a year. Think that is impossible? Not if you don’t sleep. He was a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cats, and, most of all, Balanchine's ballet performances. To list all the things he enjoyed would maybe be contained in a scroll ten feet long if one wrote them in small, spidery script.

Gorey considered himself asexual. ”Thomas Garvey coins the useful term glass closet to describe ’that strange cultural zone’ inhabited by people in the public eye who ‘simultaneously operate as both gay and straight. Gorey kept perfectly mum about his true nature to the press; he only spoke about it in his art.’” I think that Gorey did not want to be pigeonholed as anything really. He was fussy about just being considered an artist when he really saw himself as a writer first. He was flamboyant in his appearance with wearing floor length fur coats year round and sporting rings on every finger. Supposedly, there was a lot of gay coding into his artwork for book covers that he designed for writers such as Herman Melville for Anchor Books. Looking at any form of art with an eye for overt or hidden symbols always makes me a bit nervous. Sometimes you find what you are looking for because that is what you want to find.

That all said, every crush that Gorey had throughout his life was some form of unrequited love for a member of the same sex. I wonder when we will reach a time when we are not categorized by our sexual preferences. Gay musicians/artists/politicians, etc. are still pressured by interest groups to declare their sexual preference, but by doing so they are generally suddenly defined first by their sexual preference, and everything else they do almost becomes a footnote to that revelation.

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The melancholy deaths of Gorey’s children.

His books were dominated by infanticides. They caused parents to be uneasy and made it hard for booksellers to categorize his work. The awkward size of his books was also difficult and forced many publisher’s to design counter displays for his books at the register. Kids, in general, I have found, love his books. The creative deaths of the children in his books could be scary, but we do like to be frightened, especially when Gorey leads us onward to an ending that leaves us smiling.

He didn’t mind confusing us either. ”N is for Neville who died of ennui.” Or how about this one: ”Still later Gerald did a terrible thing to Elsie with a saucepan.” What terrible thing could anyone do to another person with a saucepan? The mind of the reader was forced to ponder and ponder some more. Usually, I ended up laughing at the scattershot directions that my mind went, trying to pluck the right thread that would lead me to where Gorey intended me to go. Or maybe he wanted the readers to lead himself to his own meaning.

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Clavius Frederick Earbrass

One of my favorite stories of his was ”The Unstrung Harp”, which was about a writer named (C)lavius (F)rederick Earbrass. ”’The best novel ever written about a novelist,’ Graham Greene called it in all apparent seriousness.” The book covered all the hazards of a writer’s life: ”disappointing sales, inadequate publicity, worse than inadequate royalties, idiotic or criminal reviews, terrors of the deadline and the blank page.”

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The idea to have Gorey design the sets for the Broadway production of Dracula was simply a moment of brilliance. He threw himself completely into the project with “every leather-bound volume lovingly rendered of the books in Dr. Deward’s sanatorium library”. The bats, skeletons, death’s-head pansies, coffins, mummified corpses, Dracula’s watch chain strung with teeth, the drapes, and the exquisite wallpaper were all drawn with delicate care. This showed the world that Gorey was much more than just a cartoonist or “children’s” book author or really categorized any which way except that he was capable of showing exceptional talent in whatever medium he chose to express it. The show ran for 925 performances over three years and made Gorey a wealthy man.

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I was constantly, gleefully googling arcane references while reading this book. Gorey’s interests were wide and varied. By reading about his interests, I expanded my own passions, and really anyone who cares about the creative process should read this book. He was a Renaissance man, not only in talent but also in the way he found the world so fascinating. People might have been disappointing, but then he could always create more acceptable characters with the nib of pen. I will certainly be pursuing many more lines of inquiry inspired by this book. Mark Dery will take you on a journey into the development of a creative mind and introduce you to a man who figured out a way to live his life the way he wanted to. So few of us get that opportunity.

My thanks to Little, Brown who supplied me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne #1) By: Peter McLean

Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne #1)Priest of Bones by Peter McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am sort of torn about this one. First of all, let me say I enjoyed this a good deal more than it will SOUND like I enjoyed it.

The descriptions of the story you read are very accurate, it is in its essence an historical style crime story wrapped in a low fantasy setting. It hit the spots for me, interesting world, I enjoyed the characters although they weren't anything you haven't seen before. Well done action, and although I felt slightly where the tale was headed I enjoyed getting there. And the ending...I am on record about that type of ending...(but in all honesty, well done Mr. McLean)

Ok, now you are confused, am I ragging the book or did I like it? I LIKED it..it is well worth your time and I say now the War for the Rose Throne series of books will be on a few lists in the next year or two.

So I stop ranting now and GO READ folks!

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My Own Devices By: Dessa

My Own DevicesMy Own Devices by Dessa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every so often, you have a "click" in your head, something you see, or hear, or taste or etc and so on, occurs and all this time, whatever the heck it is that you didn't like or know about makes TOTAL sense.

That being said, I always have been a big music fan but never a hiphop fan, then one day surfing I ran across "Bolt Cutter" by Doomtree...then it was that loud resounding CLICK.

I was drawn to Dessa that day, her words, her presence is full in effect in this collection of essays, You will feel every beautiful word..that I promise you.

Read this, I don't have enough stars to rate it, so I give it one Andromeda galaxy worth of stars out of 5 (come back when you do the math)

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