08 April 2018

Review: Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women's Wrestling

Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women's Wrestling Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women's Wrestling by Pat Laprade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a wrestling fan, the rising prominence of women's wrestling has been a welcome occurance, and this book lands at nearly the perfect time. A history of women's wrestling, mostly United States-based, this attempts to be as clear and direct about the personalities as possible.

The pros are how comprehensive the stories are about the important players, including people on the independent scene. The major con, however, is that the book is less about "the history and rise" of wrestling, but instead acts as a vehicle for capsule biographies of any important women involved. It becomes less a story about women's wrestling and more about "these are the people you should know from this era."

A better narrative makes this a five-star affair, but otherwise, a solid read.

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07 April 2018

Review: Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities

Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities Her Mourning Portrait and Other Paranormal Oddities by John Brhel
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I'll come out and say it - at this point, I'm not sure I like sort of traditional horror storytellers as much as I've been enjoying the output of Brhel and Sullivan.

Her Mourning Portrait is a collection of short paranormal tales, but this time with a bit of an angle toward romance and relationships. The result is a lot of short and simple, yet compellingly sophisticated stories that have a tendency to stick with you well after you're done.

Favorites included "Side by Side," which involved a widower and his dead wife's first lover in a twist-filled romp, and a geocaching tale that kept me guessing even though I was positive I knew what was going on.

My first foray into Brhel and Sullivan was the quirky Mavelry collection, and the way they've grown as writers is evident as they spread their wings here. As always, I can't wait for what comes next.

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06 April 2018

Review: Animal Money

Animal Money Animal Money by Michael Cisco
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a weird, weird book. And I loved it.

The conceit is that there is some version of the world where economists are also politicians, but also religious figures? Maybe? And there's a new form of money being proposed that is never completely explained in a coherent fashion, but involves animals, and since it threatens the order of the world in some way, there's of course competing interests and murder and mayhem.

And since this isn't a traditional narrative by any measure, there are giant diversions into histories and short stories and meta references to this very book and its publication and at some point I just stopped thinking about it and enjoyed the ride.

It's pure chaos in a distilled, readable package. I've never read anything like it and likely won't ever again, and I wish I could.

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Review: Strange Weather

Strange Weather Strange Weather by Joe Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yeah, this was real good. Four novellas, each pretty great in their own right.

* "Snapshot" is kind of classic weird horror, with a person who has a camera that seemingly steals memories. Hard for me to read for personal reasons in many regards, but really brilliantly done within an existing horror trope.

* "Aloft" a brilliant, strange story about a skydiver. I don't even want to say much about it except that the story was never what I thought it would be and that was great in and of itself.

* "Rain" was my personal favorite, regarding a killer change to precipitation that turns raindrops into sharp and deadly crystals. The sort of learned helpelessness that comes with a story like this was exactly what I was looking for.

* "Loaded" may be the weakest of the four, and not necessarily due to politics or plot, but just a more as a straightforward crime story that takes some interesting twists that don't always work in quite the same way. But if I was reading it on my own, it would still be a 4-star read in many regards; it's just a bit of a letdown in comparison to its three siblings surrounding it.

A solid collection, and a great reminder about how awesome Joe Hill is at what he does.

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Review: Semiosis

Semiosis Semiosis by Sue Burke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Closer to a 2.5.

I love a good first contact-ish type book, and this is somewhat adjacent in that way given the plot, which involves a shipwrecked crew forging a communicative bond with the wildlife on a foreign planet. The problem with the book? It feels like it has little in the way of heart and less in the way of a real significant plot. A lot of this felt needlessly abstract, and the result is a book that barely resonated with me and lacked that real base I was looking for.

Many might like this for those qualities, to be fair. This is less a failure of a book and more of a book failing to connect with me personally. But there are enough issues with the book in terms of construction and choices to know this was a miss in many ways.

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