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Giveaway: Porcelain: A Novelette by William Hage (INTERNATIONAL)

December 26, 2015 Leave a comment

cover_porcelainIt’s the sixth and final giveaway of 2015 here at Opinions of a Wolf.  Woohoo!!

There is ONE ebook copy of Porcelain: A Novelette by William Hage (review) available courtesy of the author, William Hage.

What You’ll Win:  One ebook copy of Porcelain: A Novelette (review) by William Hage.

How to Enter:

  1. Leave a comment below stating the second-hand item you own that you think is most likely to maybe be evil.
  2. Copy/paste the following and tweet it from your public twitter:
    Enter to win PORCELAIN: A NOVELETTE by @w0rdvirus, hosted by @McNeilAuthor http://buff.ly/1JAHQcP #giveaway #entertowin #horror #short
    You may tweet one entry per day. The blog comment gets you one entry. Each tweet gets you one entry.

Who Can Enter: INTERNATIONAL

Contest Ends: December 29th at midnight!

Disclaimer: The winner will have their book sent to them by the author.  The blogger is not responsible for sending the book.  Void where prohibited by law.

Book Review: Porcelain: A Novelette by William Hage

December 26, 2015 1 comment

cover_porcelainSummary:
Out near the Pine Barrens in New Jersey sits the Whateley Bed & Breakfast, home of a wide collection of knick-knacks and antiques for its guests to view, including a beautifully ornate porcelain doll. However, after the Whateley’s latest guest purchases the doll as a gift, a horrifying series of nightmarish events begins to unfold.

Review:
This is the final review for the 2015 ARCs I accepted (6 total).  Woo! This 8,000 word novelette was the perfect way to wrap up my year of ARCs.  Bite sized, it kept me entertained for almost precisely the duration of the public transit portion of my commute.

This short horror involves a father buying a doll for his daughter, only to have the doll wind up to be evil.  I don’t consider that a spoiler, because I think it’s pretty clear from the cover and the description that is what is about to go down.  While some of the evil doll aspects were about what I was expecting, others were not.  The scenes happened at just the right pace to hold interest, and I did find myself hoping I’d have time to finish the novelette without having to stop.  I think the story is helped by reading it in one sitting, so I would advise picking it up when you know you have enough time to finish it in one go.

All of this said, while I enjoyed it and it is well-written, it just didn’t linger with me.  I wound up feeling quite neutral about it.  Perhaps because the novelette is so short that there’s no time to establish an emotional connection with the main character.  It’s also possible that the ending just failed to wow me.  That said, other readers who are more generally into short fiction than I am will probably enjoy it more than I did.

Overall, this is a well-written piece of short fiction that should be read in one sitting.  Recommended to fans of short horror.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

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Book Review: Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris N. Brown

April 17, 2012 2 comments

Skeletons with butterfly wings.Summary:
This collection gathers 34 contemporary Mexican short stories featuring fantasy, scifi, and literary, clearly a wide range.

Review:
For me this collection was very hit and miss, and alas even the hits weren’t that wonderful.  Part of the issue is there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind the order in which the tales are presented.  It feels as if 34 completely random stories were selected with the only thing they have in common being Mexican authors.  I generally prefer a short story collection to have a more universal theme or play upon similar tropes, but there is none of that here.  The stories range from young boys hunting iguanas to figuring out how to dispose of a body to a trophy wife on vacation in Las Vegas to a pact with the devil.  It was a bit of an exhausting collection to read.  That said, I’d like to highlight a couple of my favorites that kept the read from being an entirely troublesome experience.

“Hunting Iguanas” by Hernan Lara Zavala both gives a glimpse into country Mexican life, which isn’t something we get to encounter very much, and provides commentary on colonization.

“Lions” by Bernardo Fernandez was particularly delightful for an animal rights activist to read.  In a time of budget cuts the less attractive animals of the zoo are let loose in the city park and gradually take over.  Delightfully tongue-in-cheek.

“The Nahual Offering” by Carmen Rioja features a disturbingly prophetic dream by a tribal woman.  It is a great example of the beautifully grotesque.

You can see, though, that I was only able to pick out three short stories from a collection of 34 to highlight as particularly enjoyable to me.  The collection simply lacks a universality of theme or talent.

Overall this collection is an interesting peek into contemporary Mexican writing, although it does seem the editors could have done a better job in selecting what to include.  Recommended to those with a marked interest in modern Mexican writing.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: LibraryThing EarlyReviewers

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Book Review: The Sweet Smell of Success and Other Stories by Ernest Lehman

March 4, 2010 2 comments

Black and white image of the hood of a car.Summary:
A collection of Ernest Lehman’s noir style short fiction, including The Comedian and The Sweet Smell of Success, which was turned into a film in the 1950s.  Varying in length from flash to many pages, most of the stories address the damage caused to individuals by the overly hungry theater, movie, and television industries.  Some of the stories also look at individuals suffering from discontent in marriage.

Review:
My first entry in my reading challenge to read books I bought for university but never got around to reading.  This was assigned for my Film Noir class in conjunction with watching The Sweet Smell of Success.  I loved that class and at least enjoyed the assigned books that I read at the time.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for these short stories.

Lehman’s writing doesn’t just evoke the past of the 1950s, it evokes an alternate, incredibly depressing universe.  I have the feeling that was his point in writing these stories.  The entertainment industry is evil and will slowly rob you of your soul.  There’s definitely merit in that, but it can get a bit depressing and redundant to read the same theme over and over again.

I also found the dialogue jarring.  The characters do things like call other men “baby,” and I can’t help but wonder if people actually talked like that back then.  It made the stories ring a bit more fake to me than I think they should have.

Three of the stories revolve around press agent Sidney Falco and columnist J. J. Hunsecker.  While I enjoyed these short stories it felt as if someone had ripped out three chapters from a back and handed them to me out of order.  I wish Lehman had written this as a book or novella.  He clearly had an affinity for these characters, as he repeatedly came back to them to explore them, so I wonder why he never just wrote a long piece about them.

The Comedian though is where Lehman hits his stride in this style and theme.  He takes just the right amount of time to tell the story.  He subtly lets us know the background information vital to feeling something for these characters on this crucial day, and the overarching them of the story is deeper than “the entertainment industry is evil.”  Oh, it is still represented as bad, but that is not the main point of the story, which makes it stronger.  I recommend reading this short story if you can get your hands on it.

Overall, if you’re in the mood for a marathon session of dark noir, you’ll enjoy this book.  Otherwise, I’d recommend finding one of the short stories to get a taste of the 1950s version of the genre.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Source: University bookstore

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