book review

“The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade” Review

19464141 The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade by Cameron Pierce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable anthology of strange fiction. I’ve been seeking out, reading, and writing odd stories for a number of years now, but was never aware of the “Bizarro” genre label.

This collection was my first foray into the relatively current crop of bizarro authors. It’s a very hefty collection containing 35 stories, and most are entertaining. A few of them weren’t really up my alley since they seemed to be weird for the sake of being weird, or used their “weirdness” as a crutch to mask questionable writing, but the weaker stories are few and far between.

The gems in my opinion were “Crazy Sh!tting Planet”, “Atwater”, “Ear Cat”, and “The Sex Beast of Scurvy Island”. These alone are worth the price of entry.

If you’re looking for something different that will make you laugh, possibly offend you, and occasionally make you scratch your head (what good books should do!) then this is worth a read.

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book review

“On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft” Review

On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent, if unconventional, guide for writers looking to improve their craft.

I’d been recommended this book by multiple friends and other authors, especially since my work leans into the horror genre. I’m a big fan of King’s style, and I approached “On Writing” with an open mind knowing this wasn’t a conventional “How To” guide. King’s easy manner and tone is what makes this book a winner. It feels more like you’re reading a letter from a friend than having sets of rules dictated at you. Some might find it a bit frustrating picking out the technique tips amidst the storytelling, but fair warning that it has the word “memoir” right in the title.

While I didn’t agree 100% with all of his advice (part of me thinks his style works for him due to his gifted abilities as a writer) there are lots of gems to unearth in this book. For example, the pre/post-edit work in the back gives great insight on being concise.

I’d recommend this to beginning writers or those brushing up on their chops who have the time to read an entertaining (and admittedly biased) tome of advice. If you’re looking for a technique guide that you can easily navigate using a glossary, this isn’t that book.

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book review

“Bloodstone” Review

BloodstoneBloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I count myself as a fan of “dark fantasy”, and Bloodstone was an excellent find in the genre. If you enjoy Conan and other grim worlds, the realm of Wagner’s anti-hero Kane should be right up your alley.

I ran across this book while scouring for older fantasy works, since I have been getting a bit bored with a lot of the modern fantasy I’ve been checking out as of late. Plus I have been playing Dark Souls, and it put me in the mood to read something set in a brutal realm. Kane is an interesting character, enigmatic and self-serving, but he’s the type of guy you love to hate. Wagner’s universe is oppressive and unforgiving; full of demons, vicious sword fights, and dark sorcery. His prose is DENSE, and the vocabulary he uses to build his vision demands full attention. I found myself re-reading pages to ensure I knew what was happening.

If I can level a few criticisms, the middle of the book lags a bit, but it’s not so horrible a slog that I became bored. Also, the authors penchant for “SAT words” (he was also a psychologist) ran a little rampant and he picked a select few to overuse. You can only read the word “coruscant” so many times before it becomes irritating. There was also some verbiage that I can only describe as medical terminology that arrived late in the story and felt a bit out of place.

Outside of those minor faults, it’s an excellent story that pulls no punches in creating an intense atmosphere that blends dark fantasy and science fiction. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenging read that is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the “Tolkien-esque” heroic high fantasy.

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