Winesburg, Ohio

By Sherwood Anderson
ISBN 0-14-000609-5

Publication Year: 1919

Tags: Short Stories, Classic Literature, Literary

Rating: ★★★★★

This collection of stories, published a century ago, is often dismissed as having been once considered great but now considered “pedantic” and something to be passed over and not “inflicted” upon high school students any longer. By this logic, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town should not be taught either, since it’s clearly “outdated” by today’s standards. I would agree that this book should not be taught in high school, since such schools in the United States today most likely don’t have teachers who can understand it well enough to explain it to the bored seniors, with their fourth-grade reading levels and disdain for anything that’s not part of a video game or the Marvel Movie Universe. (I’m now old enough to indulge my cynicism; to use an idiom from today’s meme-based culture, “Change my mind.”) Continue reading “Winesburg, Ohio”

Nightflyers

By George R. R. Martin
ISBN 978-0-525-61968-0

Publication Year: 1980 (illustrated edition 2018)

Tags: Science Fiction, Horror, Overrated

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

An academic research crew of nine boards a star-bound freighter called the Nightflyer in search of the volcryn — legendary beings who have existed for millennia, passing through the galaxy at sub-light speeds, a mystery hinted at in the writings of many civilizations but never yet proved. As the journey proceeds, the researchers come to wonder more about the ship itself instead of the object of their pursuit. What they’re searching for may be far less of a mystery than what is taking them there.

***SPOILERS AHEAD*** Continue reading “Nightflyers”

Let’s All Kill Constance

By Ray Bradbury
ISBN: 0-06-051584-8

Tags: Mystery, Modern-Day Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★★

[from the publisher] On a dismal evening in the previous century, an unnamed writer in Venice, California, answers a furious pounding at his beachfront bungalow door and again admits Constance Rattigan into his life. An aging, once-glamorous Hollywood star, Constance is running in fear from something she dares not acknowledge — and vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, leaving the narrator two macabre books: Twin listings of the Tinseltown dead and soon to be dead, with Constance’s name included among them. And so begins an odyssey as dark as it is wondrous, as the writer sets off in a broken-down jalopy with his irascible sidekick Crumley to sift through the ashes of a bygone Hollywood — a graveyard of ghosts and secrets where each twisted road leads to grim shrines and shattered dreams … and, all too often, to death. Continue reading “Let’s All Kill Constance”

The Darkest Thread (Flint K-9 #1)

By Jen Blood
ISBN-13: 9780998229607

Publication Year: 2016

Tags: Avoid-At-All-Cost, Feminism v3.0, Thriller

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Canine Search-And-Rescue (SAR) units find bodies, ghosts, and a serial killer in a haunted wood, thanks to persistent neo-feminists risking their lives and careers against male liars and evildoers. And that’s more description than this book deserves. Continue reading “The Darkest Thread (Flint K-9 #1)”

Dyeing Wishes

By Molly MacRae
ISBN-13: 978-0-481-23956-3

Publication Year: 2013

Tags: Cozy Mystery, Series

Rating: ★★★★★

Kath Rutledge is back, this time with her friends from a knitting group, all gathered together at a peaceful sheep farm to have one of their number demonstrate some yarn-dyeing techniques. When the group heads out to see the sheep, the beautiful spring day turns sinister with the discovery of two bodies spread beneath a tall tree… and worse, one of them is someone they know. Kath’s friends want her to investigate, as she did not that long ago (in Last Wool and Testament). She is reluctant at first, but when a third victim shows up, she calls on her home-grown “posse” to help her sort through the clues and catch a killer. Continue reading “Dyeing Wishes”

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson
ISBN-13 978-014-303997-6

Publication Year: 1962

Tags: Thriller, Horror, Classic

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The book’s beginning: “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.” Continue reading “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”

You Are A Badass

By Jen Sincero
ISBN-13: 978-0-7624-4769-5

Publication Year: 2013

Tags: Self-Help, Unoriginal, Potentially Dangerous

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I had this book recommended to me by someone who said that it changed her life. (She’s still working at a discount book store, so maybe other areas of her life were changed.) Short Form: Another self-styled Life Coach hypes herself as having THE ANSWER, using all of the worst self-help suggestions in the world, barely repackaged into modern, poorly-written tripe. To quote a favorite short review, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly; it should be throw with great force.” (Attributed, without confirmation, to Dorothy Parker) Continue reading “You Are A Badass”

The Gods Themselves

By Isaac Asimov
ISBN-13 978-0-5532-8810-0

Tags: Science Fiction, What-If, Cautionary Tale

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Through an accident of science, Earth now has a seemingly unlimited supply of energy, enough to last a trillion years. Three people — an outcast scientist, a rebellious alien in a parallel world, and a lunar-born human Intuitionist — are aware that this boon to humankind could cause an imbalance in the nature of nuclear attraction that will cause the sun to explode with enough force to destroy the entire solar system and beyond, in perhaps as little as a few years. Continue reading “The Gods Themselves”

Millennium

By John Varley
ISBN-13 — 978-0441006779

Publication Year: 1983

Tags: Science Fiction, Time Travel

Rating: ★★★★☆

Far over Oakland, California, a DC-10 commercial aircraft strikes a 747 in mid-air, bringing down both planes in an area covering several miles. No survivors. Air disaster investigator Bill Smith is searching for the reason for the crash, as a woman calling herself Louise Baltimore prepares, 50,000 years in the future, to stop him from finding out too much. The crash had to happen. It wasn’t that Louise caused it, but she left something behind on that plane, and Bill Smith can’t discover it before her, or the entirety of human history could be wiped out at a speed of hundreds of years per hour. Continue reading “Millennium”