Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Year They Burned the Books by Nancy Garden

By the author of Annie on My MindWhen Wilson High Telegraph editor Jamie Crawford writes an opinion piece in support of the new sex-ed curriculum, which includes making condoms available to high school students, she has no idea that a huge controversy is brewing. Lisa Buel, a school board member, is trying to get rid of the health program, which she considers morally flawed, from its textbooks to its recommendations for outside reading. The newspaper staff find themselves in the center of the storm, and things are complicated by the fact that Jamie is in the process of coming to terms with being gay, and her best friend, Terry, also gay, has fallen in love with a boy whose parents are anti-homosexual. As Jamie's and Terry's sexual orientation becomes more obvious to other studetns, it looks as if the paper they're fighting to keep alive and honest is going to be taken away from them. Nancy Garden has depicted a contemporary battleground in a novel that probes deep into issues of censorship, prejudice, and ethics.

A coming of age story that deals with accepting one's own sexuality in a world in which it's not always safe or comfortable to be yourself. In other words the world we all live in right now.
Jamie, the editor of the school paper, and her best friend both feel they might probably be possibly maybe gay (I believe that is how they put it.)
The school has recently adopted a free condom Friday policy which has upset some of the parents, and particularly those who believe sex is sinful. Things escalate as books are removed from the library and some want to adopt an abstinence only policy for sex education.
It was an enjoyable although simplistic story that I don't feel quite grasped all the complexities of the subject matter but keeping in mind it is intended for a YA audience I am rounding up my 3 and a half stars to 4.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 5 Edited by Brian James Freeman.

Richard Chizmar, Lisa Tuttle, Norman Prentiss, Kevin Quigley, and Peter Straub unmask monsters hiding in plain sight in an anthology of heart-pounding short fiction assembled by horror author and editor Brian James Freeman.

DEVIL’S NIGHT by Richard Chizmar
You’ve read about what happened that night. What you don’t know is the true extent of the damage. The papers got it wrong—and the truth is so much worse than you thought.

THE LAST DARE by Lisa Tuttle
Elaine hasn’t been back to her hometown in years. The house she lived in is gone. The tower house isn’t—nor are the stories of the fate that befalls whoever dares to go there.

THE HALLOWEEN BLEED by Norman Prentiss
People think there’s some sort of mystical power that allows enchantments and witchcraft to come to life on Halloween night. But real magic obeys no calendar—and true evil strikes whenever it’s least expected.

SWING by Kevin Quigley
In Hollywood, everyone lives forever. At least that’s what I used to think . . . before Jessica. But no one seems to live long when they’re around me.

PORK PIE HAT by Peter Straub
When it comes to jazz, there are players, and there are legends. “Hat” was a legend. His real name didn’t even matter. Still, he had his secrets—secrets best left buried in the past.

In this last installment of the 5 part Halloween Carnival anthology there are some real winners and a couple of clunkers. I was hoping the final volume would end with a bang. Instead it just kind of fizzled out.

I like Peter Straub a lot but I am just not a big fan of Pork Pie Hat. I know someone must really love it, since it's been published so many times, but that somebody is just not me.

For me,  only 2 stories  really made this  anthology worth reading. DEVIL’S NIGHT by Richard Chizmar in which an ordinary school teacher gets wrapped up in murder and mayhem on a windblown Friday, the night before Halloween.

THE LAST DARE by Lisa Tuttle was another 5 star read for me. Two old friends, each of them a grandma now, who haven't seen each other in many years happen to bump into each other on Halloween. Their granddaughters hit it off immediately. What seems like a happy reunion soon turns into a nightmare. I loved this story.

I received an advance copy for review.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 4 Edited by Brian James Freeman





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

For Better, or For Worse: Eight Stories by Josh Craven


In For Better, or For Worse, Josh Craven offers up eight unsettling stories of the macabre, the supernatural, and the worst of human nature.

•"For Better or for Worse" - When Jacob’s world is derailed by a tragic accident, the hot-shot young attorney finds practicing law is easy compared to practicing his new life.
•"Tongue Lashing" - Two junior-high boys alone in an East Texas pasture on a broiling hot afternoon. What could go wrong?
•"The Hungry House" - In an effort to get his life straight, Davy takes a road trip to put the past behind him for good. But he finds his childhood home has been waiting for his return.
•"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" - Having to go in to the office on a Saturday is bad enough, but commuting on the public rail system can be… well, murder.
•"Attrition" - When looking for a job in the brutally competitive world of big law firms, John Nichols finds that getting through the hiring process can be survival of the most desperate.
•"Cake and Smokes" - A young couple buys the perfect starter home, but they find the elderly prior owner wasn’t quite ready to leave the house behind.
•"The Past Never Dies" - Through the daily entries in Barney’s grief journal, a terrible secret from his past is revealed.
•"The Last Photographer" - First her parents, then her husband—Kat has trouble letting go of those she loves, but she soon finds there are fates much worse than death.

For Better or For Worse is a curious collection of bizarre tales, that range in nature from Sci-Fi in the title story, to psychological thriller, to horror. The first few were just not for me but the last 5 more than made up for that. In "Attrition" several job applicants show up to interview at a law firm that has but a single job to offer. Times are tough and they all desperately need this opportunity. Desperation can be a dangerous thing! I loved this one.

In "Cake and Smokes" an elderly woman puts her house on the market but tries her damnedest to not get put out of her home. This one was super creepy.

"The Past Never Dies" was my absolute favorite. It's about love and loss and grief. Barney has recently lost his wife, and begins a daily journal to deal with his emotions and to tell his wife all the things he can no longer say. Strange things begin to happen as Barney is haunted not by his wife but by his own past.

"The Last Photographer" also touches on grief as Kat tries to face the fact that her husband is losing his battle with cancer. When she tries to both hold on and let him go she learns that some things are far worse than death.

All in all a good solid collection. 4 out of 5 stars from me.
I received a complimentary copy for review