Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top --- edited by Ekaterina Sedia

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   Introducing stories of circuses traditional and bizarre, futuristic and steeped in tradition, joyful and heart-breaking! And among the actors you will find old friends, be they sad clowns or free-spirited gymnasts, as well as new ones - mammoths, mechanical piano men, and things best not described at all. Come in, come all, and enjoy the literary show unfolding!

And here's what I thought:   This book of short stories has contributions from a wealth of authors, including Peter Straub, Jeff VanderMeer, Douglas Smith, Cate Gardner and others.   So, there's a lot to choose from, which I like; just in case I don't enjoy one story, I can always try another.

Like many collections, I found I enjoyed some of the stories here more than others.  I originally picked up this book because I have always had a fascination with circuses and carnivals.  I've always been curious about the kinds of people who tie their lives to a circus, and also find the history of circuses and carnivals to be interesting.   I also ordered this book for my library's collection and snapped it up when it hit the shelf ...... I'll be returning it tomorrow to give other people the opportunity to check it out.   The stories range from the fantastical to the horror-tinged.  My personal favorites among the stories were Amanda Downum's Smoke and Mirrors, Vanishing Act by E. Catherine Tobler, Circus, Circus by Eric M. Witchey and 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson (which involves a woman who buys an act with 26 monkeys who vanish, from a suspended bathtub, onstage).    It was also nice to re-read a story by Douglas Smith called Scream Angel -- I had read and reviewed Smith's book of stories, Chimerascope a while back, and had enjoyed it.

One of the best things about short stories is that they can introduce you to an author you've never heard of, without being committed to an entire book.   As I said, I didn't love every single story here, but I found the overall collection to be good.

One of my favorite first lines:   When the circus was very small, it believed it would grow up to have many multi-colored big tops with banners on the support poles and three rings in each tent.  It lived in Mexico then, and its smaller tents were brand new -- the Bottle Throw, the Wheel of Fortune, and especially the Palmist and Mystic -- because she loved the circus most; and love was, after all, the food that made the circus grow.

from Circus, Circus by Eric M. Witchey

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I feel like I'm letting down my books ......

But my schedule lately has been kicking my butt.  Between work being a little hectic, going to conferences and meetings, and taking an online class (which, seriously, I did not think was going to take up as much of my time as it is.....), I feel like I'm neglecting my reading and reviews.

by ~ELEK-triK -- DeviantArt

Reviews will be somewhat sporadic until November.....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions - Scary Books!!!

Twice a month, Karen at For What It's Worth and Midnyte Reader host a meme called Book Blogger Confessions.  It's a good opportunity to have some thought-provoking conversations, which I always appreciate.

This week's question is:  Happy Halloween!  Do you like to read scary books? Why or why not?  If so, what is the scariest book you ever read and why does it deserve that honor?

Bonus question:  Have you ever dressed as a literary character for Halloween?

I DO read scary books from time to time, although I don't read them on a regular basis any more.  I did go through a phase when I was about 10, and read a lot of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker and John Saul.   I think Stephen King is the only one that I still read, and re-read.

I like a good psychological thriller from time to time, as opposed to something more on the horror end of the scale.  Scary books can give an adrenaline rush, and really get my imagination going, which is fun.  What I think it interesting is how different readers define "scary" --- for some people, it can be something with monsters, and lots of gore.  For others, it can be something post-apocalyptic, where the world, itself, is frightening.

I think one of my favorite scary books is The Stand by Stephen King --- I find the idea of a flu killing off most of the world to be scary, and King also adds in some pretty scary characters, as well.   In fact, that's something I like in a lot of King's more recent books, like The Stand, Misery, and Bag of Bones -- there are unpredictable, scary people.   And don't think I'm going to leave out King's super-scary book, It.   After all, how do you top a creepy clown and something that lives in the sewers and tries to snatch you away?   Chills.

Bonus question answer:  Yes.  One year, when I was in my early 20s, I dressed up as Death, from Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels, and went out clubbing with friends.  Sorry, no pictures.  It was an easy costume, especially since I wear black clothes most of the time, and just required a wig and some makeup.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the other scary books people list for this Confession!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Blogger Confession for 10/1 --- Blogger Envy

Twice a month, Karen at For What It's Worth and Midnyte Reader host a meme called Book Blogger Confessions.  It's a good opportunity to have some thought-provoking conversations, which I always appreciate.

This week's question is: Blogger Envy:  Do you have a bad case of blogger envy?  Do you covet they neighbor bloggers book hauls/follower numbers/blog design?  How do you tamp down the green-eyed monster?

Well....... I'd be fibbing if I said the green-eyed monster had not made an appearance from time to time.  However, I've mostly banished it (which doesn't mean it won't at some point turn up at my door, whispering snotty comments to me).

Envy happens, in some form, I think, to the best of us.   I will say that I do not tend to suffer envy for bloggers who have huge book hauls; I'm a librarian and I'm surrounded by more books than I can shake a stick at, so I don't have that kind of envy.   I also don't suffer envy for blog design ---- I contacted Lori at Pure Imagination Designs a while back and paid her to do up my blog design (heck, yeah I paid someone to do this .... I have no idea how to design a blog and make it look this good) -- and after all this time, I still love it.  So, no envy for other designs, although I certainly do appreciate some of the beautiful blogs out there.

What I have suffered from is ..... comment envy.   I don't make myself feel blue over my number of followers because the way I see it, the people who Follow are the ones who use Blogger (thus leaving out any Wordpress bloggers).    However, I sometimes sigh when I go weeks without a comment on a book review post, and see other bloggers who regularly have loads of comments.  However, when I get myself in a blue mood over this, and the little monster is doing its best to sit on my shoulder, I remind myself that I blog because I just wanted to put my thoughts out there.  Just because I write a book review doesn't mean that a lot of people have something to say.   I also know that to get comments, I need to get out there and comment more on other people's posts ..... and that bit of knowledge kicks me in the butt and also squashes down the envy monster.

Of course, I'm looking to see if anyone out there has some good advice on how to deal with comment envy ......

This is the only monster that should make a regular appearance in my house.

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