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Near + Far
Cat Rambo
Amigurumi Knits: Patterns for 20 Cute Mini Knits
Hansi Singh
Metro 2033
Dmitry Glukhovsky
Southern Gods
John Hornor Jacobs
Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural
Robert Louis Stevenson, Orson Scott Card, Jack London, Tanith Lee, Walt Whitman, Guy de Maupassant, Isaac Asimov, Ivan Turgenev, Johann Ludwig Tieck, Marvin Kaye, John Dickson Carr, Bram Stoker, Tennessee Williams, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Richard Matheson, Johann Wolfgang
Howdunit Forensics
Denise Mina
The Autopsy and Other Tales
Michael Shea, Laird Barron
Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies
Victoria Dunn
Blood & Water
Hayden Trenholm, Camille Alexa, Claude Lalumière, Derryl Murphy, M.L.D. Curelas, Kevin Cockle, Douglas Smith, Jean-Louis Trudel, Julie E. Czerneda
Falling Angel: A Novel - William Hjortsberg (Note the first: this is in response to a discussion group, hence the heavy discussion of Maggie Krusemark.)
(Note the second: part of the reason I'm cribbing my response rather than writing a fresh review is that I am down with a bad cold. I may have missed details.)

I'm going to call this one a fun and very fast read--I went through it all in one sitting, took slightly less than three hours--and tip my hat to it for the ending; I'd bump it up half a star if I could for that.

I loved the little asides and references; I read the Emma Dodd Harvest Memorial Clinic as a shout-out to the Dodds from Harvest Home, and Angel's claim in Walter's Congress of Wonders to that he's not a salesman of "insurance or lightning rods" as one to the opening of Something Wicked This Way Comes, for example.

The sister thing didn't bug me; possibly because I went in knowing vaguely about Angel's history, I thought of it (in terms of technique) as foreshadowing the lie that Harry Angel and Johnny Favorite were different people; the one the reader sees is really the good one, and the evil one is off and away somewhere else. In terms of story, I took it as Maggie lying to stall someone who was setting her on edge about Johnny; I figured that Angel's contact would have mentioned a sister. (Something like "it ran in the family; they called her the Witch of Wellesley, and her sister flips cards in Carnegie Hall.")

(And of course Favorite was a Gemini. Of course.)

Not really subtle, but at least nicely textured, you know?

WRT the Black Mass; my opinion of Angel took a very hard nosedive when he was just sitting there taking pictures of the rape and murder during the ceremony, and that made the rest of the book rather less engaging. I may pick up another [a:William Hjortsberg|8058|William Hjortsberg|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1333048656p2/8058.jpg] later when I've got more time; this one felt like a fast, slightly pulpy horror/crime mix, and that's no bad thing, but I have a bunch of books to run through first.
The Murder Exchange - Simon Kernick Decent thriller, though the switching out perspectives during the near-climactic fight felt like a bit of a cheat and threw me out of the action. Still, solid, and will probably check out more by him.
Tales of Jack the Ripper - Laird Barron;Joe R. Lansdale (I understand I should mention I got my copy as a gift. And it came with a little rubber kidney. A kidne, people. You try explaining to a bewildered barista why that's making you laugh. The looks you get.)

Another book that's making me revisit my policy of reserving five stars for books that everyone should read regardless of whether they are usually interested in the genre--because by any other metric, this would be a five-star book. It's thoughtful, strange, creepy, weird, clever--it ranges from layering strange new meaning onto the quasquicentennial-old[1] events to reinterpreting them in new settings to addressing just what can develop out of a driving obsession with Jack.

Seriously worth picking up, for those with an interest in the Ripper, fans of horror, and those who enjoy the supernatural mixed with their crime fiction.
[1] Another plus. Do you know how few books teach me new words?
Killshot - Elmore Leonard I'm waffling between three and four stars, because it made me cringe a couple of times when it was meant to make me cringe, but ultimately I do not think it is quite the kind of thing that absolutely everyone into the genre would need to read. So three.

That said: dear god this thing reads like an icepick. Direct, brutal, straight to the point, fast and slick and hard. I don't think it can be his best work, but I look forward to digging up more.
The Blackhouse - Peter May On the good side: solid plot, smooth interweaving of the now and then, some really beautiful description, and lovely characterization (one struck me as a bit false, but they didn't matter much to the story, I think).

On the down side: I am inclined to be suspicious of stories which unfold a truth (note that this is a truth, not a clue) that the main character "should" have known but forgot. But it was done fairly well.

Overall solid; will keep an eye out for other works by the author.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Jay Rubin, Haruki Murakami Honestly, the overwhelming desire to shake the protagonist until his teeth fell out and he stopped being such a selfish whittering whiner made this incredibly hard to get into. Everyone else seems at least interesting (although I side-eye the Manic Pixie Dream Girl), but right now I just cannot plough through the POV character to get to them. May revisit next year or something: right now, it's going back to the library.
Katja from the Punk Band - Simon Logan I think Simon Logan may be one of the few people whose novels I like better than his short stories. A very quick read, cinematic and grim and twisted.

Close to the Bone (Logan McRae)

Close to the Bone - Stuart MacBride Solid McRae, but it felt a little more scattered than usual. Mind, I have had a very long week, so that might have simply been my buckling down to read it while in a rather frangible state of mind. (No, not fragile. Frangible.)

Still; the usual weaving together of plot threads, the usual battered-and-gritty setting, and a couple of secondary characters I hope to see again (plus a brief walk-on from good old Jackie). I imagine that at most there's two more books before Logan needs to decide what to do about Wee Hamish, and if he keeps dragging his feet on that until the last minute he's in for it.

(Also, Logan McRae, for the everbleeding love, answer your messages in a timely fashion. Still not doing that? Nope? Right, carry on.)

The Best British Mysteries 2006

The Best British Mysteries 2006 - Maxim Jakubowski This was an odd one; a few of the stories I'd call straight up horror before anything else, and several of them were definitely crime stories but had zero elements of mystery or even deduction. Some of them were a little stilted, but none of them were bad.

(Also, a whole lot of Sherlock Holmes riffs. Fun with the one that began "To Professor Moriarty, she will always be that bitch." although I think the one done entirely from Watson's perspective as he recruits the young conman is excellent.)

A pretty solid read, though, and no complaints.
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter As usual, four stars is my "recommend to anyone who'd like the genre" marker, but I'm not sure what the genre is. Dark and lovely and exquisitely written adult fairy tales I suppose, although it feels a bit odd to call them adult. (I mean, there's clearly sex going on, but it's a little distant, hardly ever explicitly referred to, and the emotional entanglements and compulsions are sad and/or creepy four times out of five.)

(It reminds me of [b:Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & other Horrors|9147711|Engines of Desire Tales of Love & other Horrors|Livia Llewellyn|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1298570681s/9147711.jpg|14026601] a fair bit, actually.)

Ultimately, I think it's the sad distance in the tone of so many of the stories that keeps me from going for four stars; the writing was amazing and beautiful and evocative, but so many of the stories left me feeling a little like I was having a sad day, and couldn't tell anyone why. Definitely worth looking at, if fairy tale retellings are at all your thing, but be warned of possible disconsolation.
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness This is the story of a boy whose mother is sick, and the monster that comes to call.

It is a sad book, and a true one (in that it speaks a truth, not the truth; I think it is smart enough to realize that the topic it is addressing is not one it can fully dress down in words). I have not decided if it is a kind or a cruel book; if it is kind, it is a terrible sort of kindness.

I wrote, once, seven-months-and-change ago, about how there is a dearth of narratives for accepting that you have finished grieving. This is not about that, but it speaks to the shunning--of aspects, of truth, of a person entire--that arises in response to apparently terminal illness, and I think the topics are related.

It strikes me as very worth reading, and I recommend picking it up most strongly.
Blackbirds - Chuck Wendig I keep trying to come up for a better adjective for this story than raw, and I can't do it. (The book's not unpolished; that's quite different.) It's a three-in-the-morning, diner-coffee, grit-spit-and-grime ragged tired running lonely scared book.

And it manages to work through all the storytelling possible problems associated with a protagonist who sees what's coming, and finishes up with a huge bang.

I liked it. Right at the end, there, I loved it a little bit.

Will check out the next one.
Joyland - Stephen King Odd story; for me, four stars means anyone who's interested in this kind of thing should read it, but in this case I'm not sure what "this kind of thing" is, exactly. Literary adventure ghost story?

Still, enjoyed.

The Innsmouth Syndrome

The Innsmouth Syndrome - Philip Hemplow Pleasant read. Found the writing a tiny bit choppy in some spots, but otherwise solid; a reasonable update of what Innsmouth might be like in the modern day. Will keep an eye on the author's other stuff.

Ghost I Have Met and Some Others

Ghost I Have Met and Some Others - John Kendrick Bangs A bit overarch sometimes, and a bit stiff, but largely lightly funny and occasionally pleasantly creepy. I think I might look this one up in paperbook; it feels like the kind of book which would particularly suffer from being e-read.
Blood Rites  - Jim Butcher I have just hit page 245 of 336, and unless I am beyond stunned by the resolution of this book, or hear something a hell of a lot better about where this series goes - possibly after a several-book break, because I understand I am only on book six of fifteen - this is going to be my last Dresden Files book. Or at least the last one from Harry's POV.


Yep. I'm done.

When the guy you hired has been leering at and creeping out your friend who does not like him; when your friend goes into an extremely dangerous situation where both you and her are relying on this hired person's expertise (which exceeds yours and hers together); when your friend ends up in a situation where she cannot move except under this person's direction or all three of you plus several small children will be literally torn to pieces; when the hired person then needs to strip your friend's pants off; when your friend, whom you cannot see, gasps and starts sounding uncertain...

When your response to all that is If he's taking advantage of the situation to do anything sexual to my friend, it's obviously wrong for me to want to do anything about it because I'm not the one fucking her, that's the sensible logical approach everyone goes by, you have dropped off the bottom of my list of tolerably flawed protagonists.

I hear he keeps getting better, but unless anyone can offer specific assurances that he gets better enough, yeah, I'm done.