Not your typical horror stories. A lot of the stories in this book are really more fantasy than horror, and really none of them are super scary. StillNot your typical horror stories. A lot of the stories in this book are really more fantasy than horror, and really none of them are super scary. Still, it is a good collection. Some of the stories were pure rubbish, but the great ones were fantastic and make the collection worthwhile. ...more
Olive Kitteridge is actually a tough one to rate. The writing is good. So good, in fact, that I continued reading this all the way to the bitter end dOlive Kitteridge is actually a tough one to rate. The writing is good. So good, in fact, that I continued reading this all the way to the bitter end despite my intense dislike of the characters, the stories and the message. Well, regarding the message, assume what you will. There must be some deeper meaning that I am unable to grasp. But as far as I can tell the meaning of this book is to enjoy love, dreams, and desires while you have them, because at some point all of that will be lost to you, and you will find yourself trudging through your lonely days out of sheer habit. You know the old saying, “life is shit, and then you die.”
Such is the world Elizabeth Strout has created. A book of short stories, all centered in a small Maine town and the world’s most miserable woman, Olive Kitteridge. Some of the stories are about Olive, and a few feature people who are quite close to her. Many of the stories depict people who know Olive in the way that everyone in small towns “know” each other, regardless of whether they have an actual relationship. All of these people, and I do mean all of them, are incredibly miserable and depressed. The marriages presented are all matters of familiarity, rather than love. The men have cheated on the women. The women don’t like having sex with their men. Children disappoint their parents. We are presented with a robbery, the after affects of a murder (29 knife stabs!), anorexia, alcoholism, infidelity… ah, so much more that I am forgetting (thank goodness!)
I am actually a huge fan of dark, depressing, disturbing fiction. The difference between Olive Kitteridge and the other stuff I have read it that in most books it is obvious that whatever is going on, it isn’t normal. But Strout presents so many terrible people, situations, and lives that you start to wonder if that isn’t how life turns out no matter what you do. The majority of the characters in this book are middle age or older. So we don’t get the chance to see them in a good light and before they spiral downward. We just see them as they are, bleak and disheartened.
What saved this book from getting only one star is the writing. Strout is an excellent writer. She must be, because I didn’t put this down, even though I wanted to use the library protective plastic cover to slit my wrists halfway through. ...more
Zombies! Thanks to Carrie Ryan's Bougainvillea. Undoubtedly the creepiest, most spine-tingly zombie story IZombies Vs. Unicorns and who is the winner?
Zombies! Thanks to Carrie Ryan's Bougainvillea. Undoubtedly the creepiest, most spine-tingly zombie story I have read since... well, since Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Haters of that book shouldn't be dissuaded though. This story is lacking the angst and lurve triangles found in Forrest. Instead, we get complex, unique, sympathetic and believable characters in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. And of course a healthy dose of the zombie horror that Ryan does so very, very well.
Notable zombie mentions include:
Maureen Johnson’s wonderfully bizarre Children of the Revolution, where we see something akin to a mix between old fashioned voodoo type zombies, new age religion and celebrity culture. Yeah, I know, it sounds like too much. But trust me, Johnson makes it work.
Libba Bray’s Prom Night This is the woman who wroteA Great and Terrible Beauty? It surprised me, because although I liked (liked, not loved) the first Gemma Doyle book, this dark, post-zombie apocalyptic story is not only better written, but so much more emotional and thought provoking. This one will stay with me for a long, long time.
Not so awesome zombie entries include:
Garth Nix’s The Highest Justice I’m not really sure whether this is Team Zombie or Team Unicorn, because it has a little of both. Either way, I didn’t care for it.
Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love Will Tear Us Apart I liked it but…. think Twillight: The Zombie Version. Granted, this is written so much better than Twillight. However, I can’t help thinking that the novel everyone loves to hate inspired this one.
Scott Westenfeld’s Inoculata struck me as an introduction to a larger story, rather than a complete short.
Cassandra Clare’s Cold Hands didn’t even belong here. Really. Zombie light. For kids. Kids who are not very discriminating readers.
On the unicorn side, the case for their dominance and supreme scariness was very nearly won by Diana Peterfreund’s The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn. Silly title, no? Oh yeah, I agree. This is the first story I read from this collection. I know virtually nothing about Peterfreund’s writing (although I apparently know lots about her author-behaving-badly reputation) so I was more than a little curious to find out what kind of writer she is. This story blew me away. For a short story, there was an amazing amount of depth to it. Peterfreund created a complex and believable world in which unicorns ~ scary, evil killer unicorns exist. This was also a bit of a coming of age story, a romance story, and a little bit of religion thrown in as well. Yes, I know it seems like way too much. But it worked. I was hooked from the moment the young protagonist Wen sees a live unicorn at a circus side show… the unicorn growls… it’s handler grabs Wen’s arm and hisses to her, “You’re one of us” Oh gawd, I literally got chills at that moment and was reminded of the superbly creepy scene from Freaks when everyone is chanting, “Gooble Gobble one of us, one of us.” Long story short… I think I’m going to have to read some of Peterfreund’s work in the future.
Notable unicorn mentions:
Meg Cabot’s Princess Prettypants had the feel of a silly teen movie, but I loved it anyway. Just as light and fluffy as the title implies.
Kathleen Duey’s The Third Virgin is dark, thought provoking and almost creepy enough to be a zombie story. Only there aren’t any zombies ;)
Not so awesome unicorn stories are:
Margo Lanagan’s A Thousand Flowers is very… typical of Lanagan. (view spoiler)[ What the fuck is it with this woman and bestiality??? (hide spoiler)] I was disappointed to find this story difficult to get into. She presented a vague world, and multiple points of view. I found the whole thing to be a bit messy and the story just never got a good flow.
Naomi Novik’s Purity Test just didn’t do it for me. A little fantasy oriented a little snarky. Somehow this seemed to be lacking imagination.
Like all anthologies, this was a mixed bag. But the great ones more than made up for the so-so stories. Zombies Vs. Unicorns, as so many people have said, is such a fantastic concept. I am kicking myself for not having read this collection sooner! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was quite fortunate to win this copy of JournalStone’s 2010 Warped Words through Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway =) Really, incredibly lucky, becauseI was quite fortunate to win this copy of JournalStone’s 2010 Warped Words through Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway =) Really, incredibly lucky, because I don’ t know if this is something I would have come across at my local library or bookstore.
According to the back cover, ”The included fourteen stories are the winners of JournalStones’s first short story contest, and for some, this is their first published piece.” It is evident that the selections included in this collection are not written by polished, experienced authors. So, as far as quality of writing, the stories aren’t excellent. They aren’t bad, but they do have a raw feel to them, if that makes more sense. Even so, the stories are still good ~ very disturbing, eerie, different ideas. Does anyone remember Tales From the Crypt? JournalStone’s collection reminded me of that delightfully creepy and campy show. Not to imply that all of the additions to this collection are campy, in fact, very few are. But the quality of writing combined with the supernatural elements made me think of all of the great horror shows that used to be on tv. Some of the most memorable from this collection are:
Death By Darkness by Jasmine June Which explores the fine line between a person with mental health issues and a person who is truly experiencing the supernatural.
Inevitable Death by Christopher C. Payne, the President of JournalStone. While reading this, I had an idea of what may be going on and knew it was either going to be really macabre or incredibly cheesy and groan inducing. Hmmm… I’ll let you read for yourselves to discover the answer. Either way, the story will stick with you ~ for one reason or another =)
The Road of Things to Come by Benson Phillip Lott is another story which makes the reader wonder if the subject is mental illness or the supernatural. I liked this story… but I also wanted it to be more. Sometimes ambiguity works with a good tale, sometimes it works against it. In this case, I’m still undecided. Regardless, it did stay with me for a long time after finishing.
Hips by William Todd Rose is hands down one of the best, most powerful zombie stories I’ve read in a long time. I can’t praise this one enough! The collection is definitely worth it for this story alone, IMO.
Of course, there are ten other great stories, but the ones above are my favorite. And, really ~ four excellent stories from a collection of fourteen unknown authors isn’t bad. I definitely recommend this collection for anyone looking for something different to read, but doesn’t have great literary expectations. I’ll shelve this under “horror” even though this isn’t truly chilling or gruesome. They are entertaining, so the collection deserves a solid four stars. ...more