Caveat: Author Joshua Margolis is my friend -- and a vividly whimsical artist -- so I was lucky to get to watch Melvin grow from a sculpture into a sCaveat: Author Joshua Margolis is my friend -- and a vividly whimsical artist -- so I was lucky to get to watch Melvin grow from a sculpture into a storybook.
All that being said, Melvin is a robot after my own heart, and his journey from lonely introvert to happy ending (oops . . . spoiler!) leaves a lump in my throat every time. The kids will love Melvin and his endearing friends (Toaster Puppy is my favorite), but some parents will probably relate to Melvin's emotional journey, too. Get Melvin the Sad...(Ish) Robot for the child in your life, but be prepared to get the feels yourself.
Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis is quite a trip. Initially, I gave it four stars, as I often do for an anthology -- every story doesn't workCthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis is quite a trip. Initially, I gave it four stars, as I often do for an anthology -- every story doesn't work for everyone, you know. But after some thought, I'm bumping it up to five because, thematically, it's something new (at least to me) in Mythos literature.
Madness, madness, madness. We all know the Old Ones bring madness to mankind. Happens all the time. But here's a twist: the motif of Cthulhusattva is pushing through that soul-shattering chaos to enlightenment on the other side. As Jones says in his preface,"When all is madness, there is no madness." A Tao of Cosmic Horror. What a fascinating way to break fresh ground!
Highlights for me included Gord Sellar's "Heiros Gamos," in which a self-taught acolyte experiences the ancient, cthonic Eleusinian Mysteries firsthand; "We Three Kings," Don Raymond's eerie revision of the Nativity story; and Rhoads Brazos' urban noir, "Feeding the Abyss," in which we meet the contractors who specialize in keeping the gods fed. Brazos' story also boasts one of my favorite sentences in the whole collection: "In a world of limitations, only a fool would hesitate to touch the infinite."
But the heart, and possibly also the point, of the collection is Ruthanna Emrys' "The Litany of Earth." Here we meet Aphra Marsh (of those Marshes), a mild, devout "Aeonist" in a world where they are a persecuted minority. Emrys turns our expectations of the Mythos gods inside-out (and lays in some fair social commentary in the process):
"Most religions consist largely of good people trying to get by. No matter what names they worship, or what church they go to, or what language they pray in . . . [a]nd every religion has its fanatics, who are willing to do terrible things in the name of their god. No one is immune . . . [i]t's a failing of humanity, not of any particular sect."
What if all those gibbering cultists we've grown so used to are the Aeonist equivalent of suicide bombers and snake-handlers? What if there's really another way?
I'm still getting the hang of audiobooks -- I'm easily distracted by visual stimuli and often discover I've spaced out during important plot developmeI'm still getting the hang of audiobooks -- I'm easily distracted by visual stimuli and often discover I've spaced out during important plot developments. That being said, The Dispatcher held my attention. John Scalzi in speculative thriller mode, performed by the versatile Zachary Quinto: what could be wrong with that? Nothing!
No spoilers, because that would be wrong, but the titular character represents another small but critical Scalzi world-tweak (a laLock In), from which the intrigue ingeniously springs. The Dispatcher also poses some tricky ethical quandaries.
I still feel better with a printed text, but beyond that - 5 stars....more
I don't know why I've never read Tim Curran before - Corpse Rider is exactly the kind of horror that would have caused me sleepless nights, which I seI don't know why I've never read Tim Curran before - Corpse Rider is exactly the kind of horror that would have caused me sleepless nights, which I secretly loved, had I encountered it in my teens. (The Shining's dead lady in the bathtub prevented me from peeing at night for weeks. Good times.) In In this tale about a young woman who attracts the wrong kind of attention in return for a good deed at a cemetery, Curran conjures pure malevolence in a bloated, oozing sac, and it's delightfully sick. Also vividly imagined and colorfully described - his evocation of pure dread is particularly affecting. Not for everybody, but if you like a splattering of gore and rot with your terrifying haints, spend an afternoon with Corpse Rider....more
I don't usually have the patience for audiobooks, but in this case it was a no-brainer. Plus, my friend shared it with me on Audible, so super-no-braiI don't usually have the patience for audiobooks, but in this case it was a no-brainer. Plus, my friend shared it with me on Audible, so super-no-brainer. It just makes sense that a performer as personal and immediate as Amy Schumer would narrate her own story. Amy is arguably the hottest comic in the world right now, and between magazine interviews, her standup tours and specials, a hit tv show and a hit movie, one might think she'd spilled all her crazy stories by now.
That is very much not the case. For one thing, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is less about comedy than you'd think. Although the funny parts are very funny, a lot more of it is fairly serious, or at least bittersweet. Stories about growing up in a tumultuous, multiple step-whatever family, about crushing embarrassments and bad decisions, alternate with segments -- some sweet, some painful -- about her relationship with her MS-stricken father and hilarious adventures with her sister/bff/writing partner Kim. I didn't expect to get something in my eye so often (ahem). She also has some strong opinions about serious subjects, including gun control and body-shaming.
Also, a lot less of it than you'd expect is about sex. Not that it's clean, mind you. But this is the place where her stage persona and her life seem to deviate pretty significantly, and though she freely talks about sex, she highlights the difference between being a "skank" (which she's been called) and being sex-positive. A lot of her focus is on her own bumpy road as a woman in a male-dominated field (world), and how it made her the body-positive, outspoken, hilarious chick she is today. I feel like Amy Schumer has a lot to teach young (all) women, advice she models well in her projects, despite sometimes working very blue. I hope teenage girls are passing this book around anyway -- they already know about all the dirty stuff, and they might learn something about being independent, uncompromising young women.
The one surprising thing that kind of bothered me was that Amy didn't always sound as comfortable reading her words from a page as she does on stage, and comes off a little flat in places. But most of the time, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is subversive, observant, funny and surprisingly moving. Worth the listen....more
Now that's how a speculative thriller should be done! Dark Matter has it all: breathless pacing, inteWow. And I thought time-turners made a big mess.
Now that's how a speculative thriller should be done! Dark Matter has it all: breathless pacing, intense and ever-twisting plot, heart-wrenching love story . . . and a totally satisfying resolution.
The story of an insanely dangerous physics experiment (view spoiler)[involving quantum states and the multiverse theory (hide spoiler)], and its fascinating and ultimately quite disturbing results, Dark Matter delivers on every level. The science is compelling, and explained (but never info-dumped!) for the non-physicists among us, so I even feel like I learned something. Our protagonists, primarily physicist/teacher Jason Dessen, but also his wife Daniela, artist turned stay-at-home-mom, are fully-fleshed and very human ((view spoiler)[no mean trick when there are multiple very different versions of them, sometimes in the same room (hide spoiler)]); I found myself rooting for them so hard it was impossible to put the book down for more than a few minutes at a time. (Seriously, I read until my eyes were on fire.)
It's really hard to review this book without spoiling it, so I'll just say "read it." If Dark Matter isn't a huge success for Blake Crouch, I'll eat my hat. (Also ready to watch the movie, whenever somebody is ready to make it, because it's gonna make a great freaking film.) Five fat, fun, freaky stars, and unquestionably one of the most satisfying books I've read this year....more