Monthly Archives: March 2012

Book Review: Attic Toys

Attic Toys
Attic Toys, edited by Jeremy C. Shipp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pediophobia: The morbid fear of children or dolls.

If you suffer from this, you shouldn’t read this book.

However, if you have a demented inner child that needs to be entertained, then this book is definitely for you.

Attic Toys, edited by Jeremy C. Shipp, is a collection of short stories, all based around the idea of killer toys or killer children or killer attic spaces, mostly from the horror variety, with some noticeable exceptions being the stories from Piers Anthony and Mae Empson, which are more like grown-up fairytales.

There’s not a stinker among these stories, and all entertain in some form or another. While I enjoyed a couple of stories a little less than some others, this was more according to taste rather than any actual problems with those stories. And that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy all of them. In different ways, they all satisfied the need to entertain my own demented inner child. A personal favorite was “The White Knight” by Aric Sundquist, which follows the adventures of a young boy and his rival/companion, a stuffed cat.

As I mentioned, noticeable exceptions to the horror theme were “Living Doll” by Piers Anthony and “The Tea-Serving Doll” by Mae Empson. These were interesting changes of pace that were curious additions to this collection. While they stuck with the “toys and attics” theme quite well, the tone of these stories was different enough to change the pace and almost give the reader a short breather from the other more twisted stories. In addition, the quality of the writing is so high that I can understand why exceptions were made.

I can find no significant flaws with this short story collection. All these stories are fun and disturbing in their own ways. If killer teddy bears, psychotic children, and haunted attic spaces appeal to you, then you will love this book, and the styles and stories are different enough that everyone will come away with a favorite among them. However, if you are a sufferer of pediophobia, you might have trouble sleeping at night.

Attic Toys earns five childish screams out of five.

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Meet Molly Brown Nylander

ThumbnailThere have been many goings on recently. There’s actually been so much, that I haven’t had time to attend properly to this blog, like I wanted. But busy is good.

To start, I would like to introduce everyone to the newest adopted member of the Nylander clan, Molly Brown Nylander (sorry for the bad lighting, but if I used the flash, then I wouldn’t have been able to properly capture the color of her eyes):

Molly the Puppy

As I’m sure you can tell, she is a chocolate labrador retriever, recently turned one-year old. So she is still a puppy but in a full-grown body. Her favorite activities include sleeping on people’s feet, sniffing crotches, and playing keep-away in the backyard. She even has her own Twitter account: @mollybrownnyl.

She has been occupying a lot of my time lately. I recently moved out of my Santa Monica apartment and am on my way to living in Venice for a while, but for a short time I’m staying with my parents in the San Fernando Valley to help them out with Molly (she’s their puppy).

My mother recently went through major neck surgery, and with a rambunctious full-grown puppy around, it was a concern about her being able to take care of Molly the way a puppy needs during the day, as well as if Molly could get too rough with her while she’s healing. So, I’m staying with them to puppysit while my mother heals. My mother is actually doing very well so far, by the way.

However, this along with my job hunting has been taking up most of my time. This means that I will not achieve my goal of completing my novel, Payroll, by my birthday, which is in less than a week. I’ll have to give myself some other arbitrary date in the near future for when I will have it done so that I can once again miss my self-imposed deadline.

It’ll happen. You’ll see.

Now, if you’ll excuse the short update, I have a brisket in the pot to make my corned beef and cabbage recipe.

Book Review: Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island

Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island
Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island by Cameron Pierce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cameron Pierce is a sick puppy. Having read some of Pierce’s previous work, I knew was to expect in terms of the violence, gore, and sexy stuff, an expectation that I did not have the advantage of when I read Ass Goblins of Auschwitz. In addition, his short story in Christmas on Crack should have cleared this up. Which made Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island a bit unexpected. Hold on. I’ll explain in a moment.

The story starts with four college students on break in the Caribbean in a boat being chased by pirates. After their boat is damaged and they managed to commandeer the pirates’ boat, the four students and one of the pirates wind up on a mysterious deserted island…or so they think. You know things are ominous when Oscar, the main character in the novel, tries to identify their position by the stars but can’t recognize any constellations.

The writing overall is very good. It’s very descriptive, both in scenes and action, and there’s a dark humor, too. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit when Oscar accidentally injures Allen. Or I’m just sick, and reading too much Bizarro fiction. Either way, it works in a sadistic way.

The first half of the book felt…normal. Way too normal. And tame, primarily focused on the pirate attack and then being stranded on the island and the relationships between the characters. This is what was so unexpected. Maybe this was Pierce’s goal, to lull the reader with a false sense of security and a change of style from his previous work. But the book is really divided into two parts, or could have even been written by two different authors. This first half is quite tame compared to most of the other stuff I’ve read by Cameron Pierce. It doesn’t feel like a Bizarro novel. The gargoyle girls of the title don’t even appear until around the halfway point.

Unfortunately, this is also where the book’s central problem comes in. The book changes gears way too fast. There’s little to no ramping up of the action or weirdness. Instead, Pierce smacks the reader in the face suddenly with what I have come to expect from him, reminding you that you are indeed reading a Cameron Pierce novel. It’s a bit like sailing relatively gentle seas with the occasional rolling wave, then getting hit by a tidal wave out of nowhere. This inconsistency becomes this book’s biggest failing, at least for this reviewer, as the dramatic change in tone pulled me off the page and reminded me that I was reading a book and not there with the characters. But I think what makes it so jarring is that what felt like the novel’s real story is way too short, and that there was potential for a lot more development of the gargoyle girls and the society on the island. They’re just sort of there. It felt less than undercooked, even half-finished.

It’s a decent book (in terms of quality, not morals), but unfortunately it doesn’t achieve greatness with this reviewer. The tone and style change too quickly, and it takes half the novel before the real action that you would expect from the title to even start. As such, Gargoyle Girls of Spider Island by Cameron Pierce earns three bottle of pirate rum out of five.

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