Thursday, February 4, 2016

Women and Writing

Manuscripts Burn is a blog run by horror/sci-fi author Steve Kozeniewski (check out his short stories in the Hell's Gates anthologies: Origin of Evil and Bound By Blood). This month, his blog is featuring the Manuscripts Burn Women in Horror Month Interview Series.

[The goal of WiHM is to "learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries."]

The series begins with yours truly, Ursula K Raphael.

Also, since it is Black History Month, I will be trying to feature more reviews from African-American authors. Since I don't know the ethnicity of the authors that I read until AFTER I write my reviews, please feel free to suggest some of your favorites that you would like to see here at the Lair.

Here are a couple previous reviews featuring such authors:

Crystal Connor's Twisted Mind

Interview With Lori Titus

As always,

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jane Steele: Crazy Or Calculating?

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye is the pseudo-autobiography of a young woman who identifies with Jane Eyre. Faye delivers a brutal blow in the very beginning when Miss Steele confesses to be a serial killer, and her first victim is a family member. Told solely from Steele’s POV, at first glance, she appears to be a murderess with no regard for the lives of others. However, it is her high regard of those closest to her that motivates her to eliminate anyone she considers a threat.

Faye conveys an exceptional personal drama as Steele reflects on her past hardships and complicated relationships. I was fascinated by the closeness Steele felt for others, even as she struggled to keep her many secrets, fearing no one would want anything to do with her should they discover her true nature. All of the characters likewise intrigued me, particularly Inspector Quillfeather.

The novel is divided into three parts, and the turn of events in the last section is shocking, intense and full of twists compared to the first two sections. Jane Steele is like Sherlock Holmes and Jack The Ripper thrown together to create an unusual young lady’s coming of age, finding her future tangled in the past of Charles Thornfield, the love of her life.

The mix of genres – suspense, drama, romance and crime-thriller – made every page of this story a very engaging reading experience. I look forward to reading more by Lyndsay Faye.

As always,

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

John Connor Returns

Fifty Percent of Infinity by John A Connor is an interesting assortment of science fiction short stories and flash fiction, with a touch of horror. I have enjoyed Connor’s work in the past, but I had mixed feelings about this particular collection:

STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT shows how alternate realities can literally cross paths.

WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF is an absolutely excellent story, a perfect example of Connor’s talent.

FIFTY PERCENT OF INFINITY is one of my least favorites, but remains a unique concept of mind and body.

MISSING, PRESUMED LOST is an ironic, post-apocalyptic tale.

PORTAL could be taken as either a suicide account or a tale of ascension.

LAIKA is an alien’s best friend.

DREAM, BABY has lots and lots of dialogue, but very little in the way of a plot.

YOU HAVE ONE NEW MESSAGE makes me not want to check my voicemail ever again.

AFFAIR OF THE HEART is a major transplant issue.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY is a long story about first contact.

END OF THE LINE is quite a surprise.

LIVING IN REALTIME is an example of what the imagination can do.

SLOW LANE is a fantastic twist on immortality.

END OF TERM is definitely my least favorite, and not at all what I expect from Connor.

HERE TODAY features an uncertain future.

PICK AND MIX is a time analogy.

WORLD’S END left me wondering if it is real or the best con ever.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD made no sense to me…possibly the author’s intention?

UNQUIET MEALS shows how a space journey can take its toll on the human mind.

I think the reason this anthology didn’t meet my expectations is because there is more flash fiction than short stories, and while the flashes might give readers a thought-provoking and/or entertaining moment, they don’t always deliver a story.

I do recommend that readers check out Connor’s interview here at the Lair.

As always,