- A book filled with positive thoughts and suggestions of ways to clear the negativity from yur life and to focus on the things that matter. I think m...more- A book filled with positive thoughts and suggestions of ways to clear the negativity from yur life and to focus on the things that matter. I think most people would agree that the gifts discussed would be considered ways of making your life happier and more meaningful, including pursuing your dreams, ridding your life of toxic people, and being open to the people who can have a good influence on our lives. Most would consider these ideas common sense, but truthfully, many individuals have forgotten their importance or have just become lost in general and can use a guidebook to get themselves back on track. The author even provides avenues for applying these concepts to your daily living.
I consider this a great pick-me-up manual that I can turn to for an injection of positivity – certainly an enjoyable read. (less)
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book because Ms. Lang was a keynote speaker at this year’s CMA conference in Nova Scotia. The book di...moreI was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book because Ms. Lang was a keynote speaker at this year’s CMA conference in Nova Scotia. The book discusses the importance of innovative thinking, which includes trying to recapture the type of curiosity we had as a young child before the industrial-era-developed school systems we still have place in our innovation-era world killed that curiosity. It touches on the need for divergent thought, the ability to explore many answers rather than just focussing on the one “right” answer and the freedom to fail in order to be able to create.
I love the concepts in this book as well as the case studies of a variety of innovators and examples where divergent thinking and a willingness to move beyond accepted norms allowed for new inventions that did change or may change entire industries.
My only minor complaints is that I did find the book a little repetitive in places (possibly for the sake of reinforcing important points) and I didn’t like the emphasis on competitiveness over cooperation - I guess because I have “too Canadian” a mentality.
-A very good read for someone studying business, interested in innovation or just looking for some inspirational and positive stories. (less)
T W Brown may be known for his horror but this book (along with his Dakota series) proves that he’s no one trick pony. Yes, it does have horror elemen...moreT W Brown may be known for his horror but this book (along with his Dakota series) proves that he’s no one trick pony. Yes, it does have horror elements to it, but I wouldn’t describe it as a horror story at all. To me this was dark comedy mixed with action adventure, and the horror was just part of the decor, much the way it is with zomedies – only in this case the supernatural presents itself in the form of ghouls, psychics, revenants and vampires.
I did enjoy this story, although at times it read more YA than adult with the thirty-something protagonist behaving more like a teenager rather than acting her age. The youthful silliness did add to the humour, and I don’t think it was overdone. I would have like to have seen a little more interaction between Ava and her human sidekick and a little less bickering with her professional rival, but I suspect there might be a broadening of that relationship in later stories, once both Ava and her companion have adjusted more to their circumstance.
Overall, I have to give the story high marks for content. The narrative flowed smoothly, with clean editing and realistic dialogue. Best of all, the story was entertaining and demonstrated more originality then a lot of the typical zombie/vampire/werewolf books out there. “Fun” comes to mind as the best word to describe this book, so much so that I was disappointed when the story came to an end. I’m looking forward to reading its sequel. (less)
I was looking forward to digging into this anthology because the first Midnight Movie Creature Feature was such a treat. While this anthology didn’t q...moreI was looking forward to digging into this anthology because the first Midnight Movie Creature Feature was such a treat. While this anthology didn’t quite reach the high bar set by its predecessor, it was still an entertaining medley of mostly creature features. I say mostly, because a couple of the stories had no real creature to speak of, as another reviewer pointed out. Despite the fact that they didn’t quite fit with the theme, they were still thoroughly enjoyable stories – they just seemed a little out of place.
Aside from the odd editing issue and a couple of stories that were a little too over the top for my tastes, this was a great read and the illustrations were exceptional. Most of the stories had a very “spooky” quality – the fear generated less based on shock and gore (not that they weren’t there, they just were a predominant feature) and more on suspense and an overall eerie factor. I actually prefer this type of horror – stories offering a good scare more so than a sense of revulsion (or in some instances, providing a combination of the two.) Here are my favourite picks:
Dark Waters by Lillian Csernica – This one presented a good dose of spooky and suspense. I like the phobic element and the mysterious air associated with the ocean and Bill. I also found the ending appealing – great twist there.
Piggy back by Matt Kurtz and Palmetto by Suzi M– More ooky than spooky, these ones captured the true flavour of a late night horror flick. I think because I’m a parent, I found Piggyback particularly disturbing.
How Do You Do It, Mr. Sullivan by Jill Behe – This was one of the stories that didn’t quite fit with the theme, but on its own merits, it was a pretty fabulous story. Its Dexter-esque storyline had me hooked from the start.
While I wouldn’t rate this the same sure-fire five as the first MMCF, I’d like to give it a 4.5, which I guess I’ll round up for star-rating purposes to a marginal five. (less)
If Ren Garcia writes it, I’ll be reviewing it. He never fails to impress me with his world-building skills, original plotlines and interesting charact...moreIf Ren Garcia writes it, I’ll be reviewing it. He never fails to impress me with his world-building skills, original plotlines and interesting characters. Despite the fact that his writing ventures into genres I don’t usually enjoy reading, like steampunk and science fiction, his work always manages to entertain me.
Against the Druries is the second in The Belmont Saga – Seventh in his League of Elder series - and I found it as equally satisfying as the book preceding it. I’m not going to go into any great plot detail as a lot of what happens in this book would be considered spoilers for the first book, but I will touch on some of the highlights.
One of the first things I liked about this saga was that aside from the protagonist, who is the larger-than-life classic hero typical to Ren’s stories, the majority of the other characters in the book are the type of flawed individuals who appeal to my sensibilities. I was especially drawn to A-Ram, the true underdog sort with something to prove, not just for himself but on behalf of his family. The rough-edged Tarra also made for some necessary comic-relief during very tense times.
While Ren’s not afraid to offer up the darker side of things, this book seemed particularly dark. I prefer my reads grim and messy (not the writing, but the storyline,) so this aspect made me happy. It also leaves us with some rather frightening prospects for stories to come.
The most surprising part of the book was the villains and the revelation of their true nature. They certainly aren’t what they seem to be at first, providing an even greater threat to our heroes and their objectives than first anticipated.
In all, this was an intense, shadowy adventure, filled with intrigue, excitement and extreme ups and down – an edgy joyride. Definitely five stars from me. (less)
It’s great to see a horror anthology dedicated to female horror writers, and the recommendations of stories written by these women. The premise was an...moreIt’s great to see a horror anthology dedicated to female horror writers, and the recommendations of stories written by these women. The premise was an interesting one and the anthology contained a diverse collection of tales with some well presented recommendations. Typical of any anthology, there were some stories I really enjoyed and others I wasn’t so keen on. In my opinion, the most enjoyable tales were gripping and straight to the point – as Chuck Wendig says:”Plain Stakes, Stabbed Hard Through Breastbone”. I believe a writer can hone in on the terrifying in either an obvious, visceral way or a more subtle, invasive way, and some of the stories achieved that. The stories that didn’t work for me were the ones that were too metaphorical, in some instances chaotically so, with endings that didn’t make much sense to me or seemed unnecessarily abrupt. Other readers may love these stories, but I didn’t. I think the editors may have been looking for a more “artistic” approach to horror with these, but I found them less engaging and less frightening as a result.
Overall, this was an entertaining anthology, but there were a couple of things that disappointed me - first was the number of stories written by men in an anthology dedicated to female horror writers. Submissions were open to all writers, so it didn’t come as a big surprise, and I understand the editors wanted to show female horror writers have influenced both male and female writers alike but I feel the best way to honour females in the genre is to showcase their work, not just praise it. I also didn’t like certain parts of the format. What I consider the best story in the anthology was first in the line-up, lending to a bit of a let-down after that. I also think that the extra recommendations included in the anthology should have been interspersed amongst the stories, rather than all lumped together at the end.
Here are the highlights of the anthology:
The introduction by Lisa Morton was superb, noting discrimination women writers face in the genre and stating examples she has encountered. She also pointed out, in a very passionate way, that successful female horror writers need to be recognized and celebrated or risk being forgotten.
The opening story, “Crash Cart” by Nancy Holder was both disturbing and frightening on many levels. It was a no holds barred story where the horror exists in the villain, the victim and the protagonist alike. This was my favourite story in the anthology.
Other stories I really enjoyed included “Hollow Moments” by R.S. Belcher- a chilling tale bent on striking fear in those of us who spend much of our lives thoughtlessly plodding through the routine and not really living, “Red Is the Colour of my True Love’s Blood” by Colleen Anderson – a vividly frightening story that blends colours and associated emotions and states of mind with unpleasant events, “Beavers” by Rachel Karyo – a disturbing tale that delves into how becoming a new mother without the proper supports in place can lead to mental instability, and “Pinprick” by Scathe meic Beorh - a story I appreciated in particular because of its dark humour.
The story recommendations were real gems and introduced me to writers that are now on my “to-read” list – a proper bonus to the anthology.
While I might have changed a few things about it if I could, I did enjoy this anthology and I’m including it on my recommended reading list. (less)
I’ve been reading an interesting assortment of anthologies lately, this one amongst them. I consider myself fortunate to have shared pages with many t...moreI’ve been reading an interesting assortment of anthologies lately, this one amongst them. I consider myself fortunate to have shared pages with many talented writers in the past, and this compilation of ghoulish tales from great women is no exception to my good fortune. Every story from my seventeen cohorts in horror had something of merit to offer and while the themes and styles of some of tales appealed more to my sensibilities than others, I didn’t dislike a single one. It was interesting to see the spectrum of chilling fiction combined here – some focussing on very womanly topics from a strongly female perspective, others tapping into less gender specific fears and disturbing concepts. As a whole, it had a notable flavour that set the anthology apart from your typical horror offering. Specifically, there were powerful emotions other than terror or despair, several tales based on personal connections, and many of the characters demonstrated a strong sense of self with much of the horror internalized. Not that there wasn’t gore and action, but there was a lot more than that.
My three favourites in the anthology (in order of appearance) included “The Mistakes”, “Black Bird”, and “Sometimes Monsters are Real” – the other stories certainly had their value and were entertaining, but these three grabbed me in particular:
Hollis Jay’s “The Mistakes” was gruesomely eerie and thoroughly disturbing, offering a tale of the taboo that jars the senses. It’s a story presented in bits and pieces to reflect the thoughts of the narrator, not a linear retelling of events in their entirety – the format used better suits the narrative, in my opinion.
In Nikki Hopeman’s “Black Bird”, a woman is haunted by her past, an obsession that plagues her in a physical form and refuses her any escape or solace. I loved the way the author captured the protagonist’s mind-set and blended her phobias with her remorse. Great imagery and flow.
Kelli A. Wilkins’s “Sometimes Monsters Are Real” is a twisted and complex story that had some things in common with the classic “The Monkey’s Paw”. I think many a mother could relate to the protagonist and the kind of choices one might make given similar circumstances.
I also have to mention the final story “One for the Road” because I found it dizzying (in a good way) and I have to wonder how the author, Joanna Parypinski, kept her head on straight while writing it.
I highly recommend these tales from such talented and scary ladies. Two trembling thumbs up here. (less)
Wading in to an all superhero anthology, and an all Canadian one at that, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The cover is a beautiful montage tacked togeth...moreWading in to an all superhero anthology, and an all Canadian one at that, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The cover is a beautiful montage tacked together to offer the shape of a maple leaf. The first thing I was pleased to see was that there was a fairly even split between male and female contributors. The intro was solid too, from someone who can be considered an expert with regards to Canadian superheroes. But truly, what blew me away about this anthology was the diversity and complexity of the stories. All were lush with historical and/or cultural references. Some were set in the past with unusual alternative histories, others took place in current times and there was even one with a futuristic tone. The tales had focuses on heroes, villains and those falling in between, formats ranging from comic book character descriptions to poetry, myth-style storytelling to modern literary narrative. You can find a little of everything in the anthology from the whimsically quirky to the dark and soulful, with protagonists varying from potheads to senior citizens. I feel it is a well-polished, well-explored compilation and here are a few of my favourites – keep in mind that it’s the darker fiction that appeals to me most:
The Creep – Michael S. Chong: Possibly the darkest story in the story and certainly the most chilling. While not wanting to spoil the tale, I will say that it hinges on a disconnect between perspective and reality. It had my mind spinning off into just how far the “hero” might go with his powers.
Circe and the Gunboat – Kevin Cockle: I loved the illusion of the relationship between the protector in this story and his ward. The implications of how a less tangible super power could change the world and the extremes people might go to to preserve the new world order were very thought-provoking.
Sea and Sky – Rhonda and Jonathan Parrish: A terrific myth-based tale with old world ambiance, it captured my heart with its charm.
Lonesome Charlie Johnstone’s Strange Boon – Jason Sharp: A tragic story demonstrating the corruptive powers of wealth and power that is both sad and frightening with moments of dark humour. I enjoyed its quirky flavour.
My only minor disappointment with the anthology is that my favourite story by far, and the only one that made me cry, was the opening tale to the anthology, Nocturne by E. L. Chen - an angst-ridden, sympathy-driven story about one downtrodden man craving significance in a fickle world. I’m the type who likes to save the best for last, so I would have preferred to see it placed towards the end of the anthology.
I applaud this excellent anthology with such a strong and obvious Canadian influences. It definitely rates amongst the top of my recent reads. (less)
The Paradigm – This story has a nice noir flavour, its narrative is smooth and most of the dialogue, while a li...moreThis collection included the following:
The Paradigm – This story has a nice noir flavour, its narrative is smooth and most of the dialogue, while a little cliché at times (I suspect intentionally) is good. The one quirk that irked me a little was that the boy, Terrence Graves, does not always speak like the 12-13 year old he is supposed to be (adult vocabulary and phrasing). I do like the play on words with character names and the characterization in the story really builds on that noir ambiance. A few sections dragged a little for me because noir is not one of my preferred genres and the goons and guns and snarky banter lose my interest after a while – I was hoping for more “spooky”. I think a diehard noir fan would really enjoy this, however. I was a little disappointed that there were still many unanswered questions at the end, but overall it was a decent story.
Beyond the Doomed Cave – The title of this sounded more my style – proper horror. It does, however start out with a fairy-tale air, the cautionary kind, with misbehaving children choosing to ignore warnings and talk of a Baroness involved in witchcraft. Once again, while the story was fun, spookier this time than the first story, and the characters were interesting, the dialogue for the children wasn’t always very realistic. For example, the average child won’t use a sentence like “Do you think it’ll sustain our weight?” I’d expect them to say something more like “Do you think it’ll hold us?” – simpler language when communicating with their peers. In all, it is an entertaining story with a ghostly tale at its core.
The Rattling Man – A bogeyman tale set during Halloween and probably the spookiest of the stories in this collection with a focus on kids, although still not hardcore horror (more like the kind of scary story you might tell around a campfire.) The dialogue was good in this one and the plot suspenseful. I particularly liked the ending.
A Madman’s Atonement – My favourite in the collection, it was a good mix of crime and horror with serial killer elements and a hint of noir flavour. Characterization was well done and the story held my interest, even though it was fairly long.
Vengeance is Mine – This was a story rife with historical references regarding Jack the Ripper. I normally wouldn’t expect to like this story that much because I think Jack the Ripper has been done to death in genre fiction, but I was surprised at the combination of both analytical detail and gory suspense, as well as some added twists and turns, so it actually worked for me. I did really like the vengeance element implied in the title. It gave the story an interesting spin.
While it had its quirks and a few editing issues, overall, this was a collection worth reading and could easily appeal to readers of varied taste. If you enjoy noir, crime thrillers, horror and historical fiction, there’s something in here that may be right for you. (less)
If I had to describe this in one sentence I would call it American Psycho mixed with Apocalypse Now and a hint of Hannibal Lecter, backdated (ranges f...moreIf I had to describe this in one sentence I would call it American Psycho mixed with Apocalypse Now and a hint of Hannibal Lecter, backdated (ranges from world war II to the post-war era.)
I liked the events set with gritty realism in war-torn Philippines, post-war Paris and US. Characterization is strong, horror is gripping and for the most part ambiance and imagery is vividly described. Unfortunately, it was the nightmares that are mentioned in the title which I enjoyed the least. The dreams and surreal musical interludes proved to be my least favourite. The author does surreal well, and I like the way he shows Arthur’s obsessive nature is tied to music and food, but while I enjoy a taste of surreal, I found these scenes excessively long at times, to the point where the scenes started losing my interest and detracting from the story. Then again, I prefer substance to style and someone who delights in highly-detailed, lengthy descriptions with vague connections to the body of the plot might love the nightmares– they certainly did reflect a strong aspect of horror. I also found some of the metaphors where the author was trying to be complex and artsy just didn’t work for me – I much preferred it when he kept it simple and real.
There were a few minor editing issues as well, particularly in Chapter 17 (Example: “a part “ vs “apart”, little things like “the” in where it shouldn’t be and “a” not being where it should,) and a few instances of redundancies and repetition in Chapter 24. If these types of things bother you as a reader, you may find them distracting.
One thing I did especially like was the progress of the story, the way certain events exacerbate the degradation of Arthur’s psychological condition (no surprise that they would) and how the decline of his mental state continues with the influence of alcohol and anger management issues (probably the result of PTSD). Some of the later scenes in the story really tap into that.
Where this story was good for me, it was exceptional and definitely well worth the read if you enjoy horror, enough to look past the few things that didn’t sit as well with me. (less)