Reviews – Two Books & A Movie

According to my Blog Calendar, this is the weekend I should be posting some sort of review, be it a book or a movie. This time around, being as I’ve been so intent on finishing up the first draft of my next Barnesville Chronicle novel this past month, reading anything too long and deep just hasn’t happened.

I haven’t watched any movies worth reviewing. Unless stating that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen isn’t my cup of tea, counts as a review. Technically it’s not a Monty Python movie, but Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle were both involved in its creation, as was Robin Williams! You’d think with that sort of line-up, it’d be something more amazing than I found it to be. It just left me confused and wondering what sort of drug Gilliam was on when he came up with all this. About halfway through, I decided I had more interesting things to do, like sort through my dresser for old clothes worthy of being donated somewhere.

Moving along, I did do a bit of reading.

Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn is a collection of short stories of the horror variety. There’s always a touch of envy in me for people who can pull off a successful short story. In a mere 112 pages, Israel managed to keep me fully engaged and amused for about ten days. As with any collection or anthology, by even the most famous of writers, there are going to be stories that readers will enjoy more than others. I have to be honest and say that there were a few in this collection I didn’t quite ‘get’ or felt like they were lacking somehow. However, the majority of them I thoroughly enjoyed and enough so that I’d easily consider picking up more work from this up-and-coming author. My biggest complaint about this book is that it was far, far too short.

Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea was another quick read for me, coming in at 141 pages. Hunter is a pro at sucking the reader in and half-chewing them before spitting them back out covered in blood, goo, and whatever other sorts of partially digested stomach contents may have been in there at the time. And I mean that in nicest way possible. If you enjoy monster killing mayhem and madness, you really should check out not just Loch Ness Revenge, but all his other cryptid tales. I have the same complaint with this as I did Israel’s book – too short. I wanted more details about the characters and their lives, but with these shorter books, Hunter’s skills and talents as a story teller aren’t being put to their full potential. I really do prefer his novel length works. For me, a story is only as good as how well I get to know the players.

Short and sweet this time around, folks. I have some thicker works reaching the top of my TBR pile now and with first draft of my latest Barnesville Chronicle, The Witch’s Backbone finally done, maybe I’ll find some breathing room to do more reading.

My Writer’s Book Bag

It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of May already. Spring has been desperately trying to spring here in the Northeast. Here’s hoping our recent bought of warm and sunny weather is going to stick this time! April proved to bring us a plethora of rain. May has certainly blessed us with flowers. One of my four lilac bushes is literally drooping to the ground under the weight of its own flowers. The small murder of crows I’ve been trying to lure in with peanuts and cat kibble are slowly making a comeback by perching in the trees outback and cawing at me. Our back yard is mostly set up and ready to go for a summer’s worth of friends, family, evening fires, fair weather, and food. In between all of that, along with writing and submitting a couple novels and a bit of dark poetry to some publishers – one of which has already been accepted – I’ve managed to get in some reading time.

In last month’s Book Bag, I’d just started Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles. I’m happy to report, I’ve emerged victorious from this adventure into some serious literary analysis, yes, Sigmund Freud even showed up! It reminded me way too much of all those English classes where the instructor insists that the color of the chairs is symbolic of the four Cardinal directions as specified in some mystic’s dream book from the early 15th century. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I don’t use a lot of symbolism when I write and the one time I tried to be clever that way, I got so bogged down in trying to remember what represented what that I completely lost track of where I wanted to go with the plot. I tend to believe the chair was blue, red, yellow, or green because the writer liked that particular color and thought it would be nice, but maybe that’s just me. That aside, I learned the difference between ‘horror’ and ‘terror’ as it was defined back in the late 1700s and that Romances weren’t considered Novels. An interesting and educational read despite the academic dryness.

While slogging my way through that, I managed to get in some good old short stories from Israel Finn’s collection, Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs. I’ve been eyeballing this book for a good long while and finally decided it was time to give it a read. As with any collection or anthology, you’re going to find some you really enjoy, some that leave you confused, or some that just don’t hit the spot. Happily, most of Finn’s stories were very enjoyable and better still, memorable! My biggest complaint on this one is that it was way, way too short! I’m hoping to add more of Israel’s work to the TBR pile in the future.

I recently dove back into the dark and murky depths of another Hunter Shea cryptid book. This time it’s poor old Nessie that he’s picking on. Hot on Shea’s aquatic tail (see what I did there?) is a Lyle Blackburn book that takes us beyond the realm of Boggy Creek to look at other cryptids of the ‘Squatchier kind found deep in the American South, but we’ll save any further details on those for next month.

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

Maledicus by Charles F. French

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea