Blondes, Books and Bourbon, is a gritty, witty, and downright entertaining series of short stories. The character of Jonathan Alvey, and indeed the whBlondes, Books and Bourbon, is a gritty, witty, and downright entertaining series of short stories. The character of Jonathan Alvey, and indeed the whole White Dragon Black series, reads as if the author mixed Harry Dresden and Phillip Marlowe in an acid bath and then etched the page in the peerless prose that resulted. The stories in the anthology vary in tone and temperament, some irreverent and funny like What a Nightmare (which reminded me a bit of a slapstick comedy), others darker and more foreboding such as The Cost of Custody, or The Ties That Bind. I enjoyed this anthology greatly, and every enchanting story was a treat to read. In addition, there’s a fun character interview with a twist, and a tantalizing sneak peek at the next novel the White Dragon Black series. I highly recommend Blondes, Books and Bourbon. ...more
The thread of relationship, human connection, winds its way through this book creating a marvellous tapestry of broken hearts, searching souls, yearniThe thread of relationship, human connection, winds its way through this book creating a marvellous tapestry of broken hearts, searching souls, yearning spirits, lost hope, and hesitant faith. The thread coils its way through fascinating paths, intersecting darkness and death, connecting fantasy and reality, until it makes its way past starlight musings into universal truth. The poems in this book are both profound and personal, objective and reflective. They play with words and dance along the edges of the shadows. I delighted in the expressive imagery conjured and emotional infusion contained with the penned lines (some of my personal favourites were Hush, Six Words For Edgar, Gaslight Fancies, Passage, Natural Deception, Note To Self:, and Oubliette). The Scent of His Feathers is superb, and I highly recommend this volume of poetry. ...more
The Toll of Another Bell is a bit of a fantasy mash-up, if an entertaining one, its magic and mayhem swirled with a bit of sci-fi and a dash of historThe Toll of Another Bell is a bit of a fantasy mash-up, if an entertaining one, its magic and mayhem swirled with a bit of sci-fi and a dash of historical imaginings. It veers through a wide speculative spectrum, casting forth myths, enchantments, magic, strange creatures, and mad science in its wake.
Here are some quick thoughts on each of the stories.
Breath: This story is soft and subtle, with a seamless blend of character and parable. The setting and fantasy world is rich and creative, a delicate fabric that perfectly suits the story.
Awareness: The beginning of this story was a bit tangled for me as I tried to decipher my way through the opening puzzle motif, but once my brain clued in, I found the story captivating. The narrative had a tense precision to it without losing its mystical undertone of fantasy and surrealism. And I loved the ending.
Phoenix: An excellent modern re-imaging of the Orpheus myth. The tragic quest, the juxtaposition of the contemporary world against mythology was all woven together in an well-crafted tapestry.
Life Under Research Conditions: This story leans more heavily into the sci-fi realm than fantasy, but it was a kick-ass story regardless. The first-person narration, from the point of view of the traditional “monster”, lent the story a different, sympathetic intimacy I enjoyed.
The Year of No Foals: This tale is the star of the book, with a charming, cozy allure that draws you in and never lets you go until the end. It has a sense of wonder and hope, built atop an undercurrent of heartbreak, and melds the fantasy seamlessly into the story.
Naoki No Yokai: This story was light on the fantasy elements, but I enjoyed its historical, slightly off-kilter world, and the mystery that unravelled. I did have a minor quibble, however. There were a few clever, modern in-jokes that peppered the story. While amusing and witty, they pulled me out of the narrative and marred the flow of the story for me.
Jilted River: Another quiet story, but one with much clout. It was a lovely blending of folktale, superstition, and family ties to create a beguiling narrative.
Tower Gods: This one reminded me a bit of an old fashioned boy’s adventure story, complete with giant robots and mystical mentors.
Reality As We Know It: This story was a very entertaining tale that twists the fantasy element a bit, turning the fantasy creatures into regular people, instead of the other way around. It has a spectacular voice and set of characters, and a sweet tone.
60 Seconds to Midnight: I found this one a engaging yarn with sci-fi and Lovecraftian overtones. The ending was a bit open-ended, though. I love to see a sequel to the story, or to have the tale expanded into a book.
Overall though, the book is a great read and I recommend it....more