Review: Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin

When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something’s amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.

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So far, I’ve read all of A Song of Ice & Fire (including spin-offs) and The Armageddon Rag. When I read the latter I was really surprised by how different it was to the former. Now that I’ve read Fevre Dream, I’m surprised again at Martin’s range of writing.

Although nothing compared to his major work (IMO), I wasn’t disappointed by this book. It’s a strangely slow and rambling tale but it’s also gripping to the end. Kind of like a cruise on an old riverboat steamer I would imagine.

My knowledge of boats and rivers is next to nothing, but I’d be interested to find out more as a result of reading Fevre Dream. It all seems so elegant yet dangerous and dirty at the same time.

Definitely recommended whether you’re a GoT fan or not. 4/5 stars.

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#abnermarsh, #georgerrmartin, #joshuayork, #marsh, #mississippi, #review, #york

Review: Forgotten Reflections

Forgotten Reflections is a gripping coming of age story set among war and romance. The novel was written by Young-Im Lee.

This is a fascinating book and I do not usually dip into the two latter categories but I love intriguing coming of age tales and the backdrop of South Korea also appealed to me. The book was so good that I couldn’t put it down and it certainly exceeded my expectations.

Forgotten Reflections by Young-Im Lee

Forgotten Reflections by Young-Im Lee

In the current international climate where North Korea takes center stage, “Forgotten Reflections” weaves an inspirational tale of family, lost memories, folklore and an unforgotten history, spanning three generations as South Korea rises from the ashes.

This is a really interesting book with a fantastic and thrilling original story. It is also quite easy to follow, despite flitting between the past and present.

The fascinating story is set in South Korea during The Korean War. The character I like best is Iseul, an arrogant and feisty young woman.

I am not sure that the story benefitted by being told by her granddaughter in the present day, but it still worked as a strategy. The evocative plot focuses on the relationship between Iseul and her foe-turned-friend, Jung-Soo.

Their heart-warming friendship is sweet and believable. The characters are very well drawn and readers can identify with them easily.

There was also an unexpected twist to the story, but of course I won’t mention that here! What I liked best was the way that the author personalised the sensitive experience of living through war, reminding us that it’s different for everyone.

It will change the way you see the various roles of people in a war-torn country, whether they’re fighting on the battlefield or striving to keep a small community alive.

My only reservation about this book is that, unfortunately, it needs some serious proof-reading, but I would not let that put you off giving it a try. (Note: I noticed that the cover shown on Amazon differs slightly to my copy, so perhaps the book has been edited and re-released.)

DARE TO DREAM IN THE MIDST OF WAR.

Forgotten Reflections is a powerful first novel by Young-Im Lee and it’s a highly entertaining read. I definitely recommend that you add this memorable book to your collection. Don’t miss it – this is well-worth reading.

#forgottenreflections, #review, #youngimlee

Review: The 100-Pound Gangster by Henry Lin

Henry Lin spent most of his precocious youth involved with the international criminal underworld. By the age of fourteen, he was involved with a notorious San Francisco triad with links to Hong Kong and mainland China, and by the age of eighteen, he had seen, and done, more than most will in a lifetime. Unsure of himself and his place in the world, he fought to survive and earn respect from his peers. But when he learned that his grandfather was a high-ranking member of the Chinese Secret Service, and was one of the most powerful and well-connected men in China until his death a few years before, Henry discovered that he was descended from a kind of underworld aristocracy. – Blurb

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The 100-Pound Gangster by Henry Lin

This is a really interesting and gripping memoir. Henry Lin tells us stories from his life, from childhood to his late twenties. The tales are brutal, sad and shocking, as you’d expect from the premise of the book.

The most interesting parts of The 100-Pound Gangster for me, were the stories of incarceration, wether in juvenile detention centres, prisons or “reform” schools. Lin describes these experiences well, speaking truthfully about his fears and emotions.

I do wish the book was a bit more linear. We jump back and forth in time for no apparent reason and I found this a little frustrating at times. But overall, it’s a fascinating read.

I give The 100-Pound Gangster 4/5.

#4stars, #china, #chinesesecretservice, #gangster, #henrylin, #hongkong, #lin, #memoir, #review, #sanfrancisco, #the100poundgangster

Alternatives to a Frozen Mouse – Review

Unless you have it, Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder) probably isn’t what you think it is.

Alternatives to A Frozen Mouse (Feb’ 2017) by AJ Mouse

Blurb:

This wasn’t my life to begin with. It wasn’t my body either.
I inherited both, and more, from Mouse.

Mouse created me. She had created another life when she was four so she knew how. That’s what people with Dissociative Identity Disorder do.
You see, terrible things happened to Mouse when she was very young, so she decided to simply stop growing up when she was eight. Her body aged but she didn’t. At eleven, when something even more despicable happened, Mouse froze herself in time, leaving her life, body, and name to me. Mouse remains an afraid and damaged young girl, living in The Deep inside of us. But don’t worry, she isn’t alone.

My name is Jade and I am an alternate personality – the main personality but an alternate nonetheless. I live in this body with Mouse and the other alters: Peter, Neil, Jane, Zen, Nancy, Ray, and Lucy. For over twenty years there had been no more splitting, no one new. Then Anne came along, making alter number ten.

This book is the first part of our journey integrating Anne into her new life. It was her idea to write about it and both our ideas to dedicate this book to Mouse …

Our Frozen Mouse – the author of us all.


Writing under a pseudonym to protect her identity, A. J. Mouse decided to publish her personal struggle with DID in order to impart the truth about living with this condition… DID/MPD has been explored many times in film and television, but what is it really like living with this condition and what causes it? Author A. J. Mouse rejects the dangerous myths and misconceptions created by the mainstream media… 

In the book, A. J. Mouse explores the origins of her DID and speculates on how the ‘splitting’ first began. When faced with unbearable trauma, the brain splinters to protect itself so that it can survive. Each alter has their own reason for being and their own story. But all lives stem from Mouse—the original…

This book aims to give readers an insight into the reality of this condition and open up the discussion about mental health in our communities. Head to www.ajmouse.com for more information. – InHouse Publishing


Disclaimer #1: I received a free paperback copy of this book so that I could write a 100% honest review.

Disclaimer #2: I wouldn’t have chosen to review a book with this subject matter on Examining the Odd if the authors hadn’t contacted me. I don’t feel that it’s right to present this book as ‘strange’ in the way that I would talk about a weird fiction novel or surreal fantasy adventure. Having said that, this book is strange, surreal, weird and unlike anything I’ve read before.

Disclaimer #3: This is the first time I’ve reviewed a book about real, living people and I sincerely hope I do not offend any of them.


Seventeen of the chapters in Alternatives to a Frozen Mouse are written by Anne, the newest identity to come along in over twenty years. She’s an adult woman suddenly ‘born’ into a new body which she shares with strangers.

Anne decides to document her journey, aided by Jade (the ‘main’ personality) to help herself to understand her new life. Jade fills in the gaps, authoring alternating chapters, and we also get sneak peeks of the others through emails, notes and stories. Anne and Jade have very different personalities, as well as separate writing styles, so the book stays clear throughout.

The personalities as a whole have a good job and a nice house, they’re married, have a son (who sounds incredible), a dog and a cat. They drive a car, make food, do chores, etc. In other words, they’re probably not like any fictional character that you may have come across in books or films about those with DID. But they’re probably nothing like you either.

Potential readers may think that this is a book for those with DID, or for their friends/relatives, but I think that this is a book for all. It’s like reading an excellent piece of fiction, bolstered by the fact that you know it’s all true.

You know when you’re watching a film based on a true story and every so often you turn to the person you’re watching it with and say “bloody hell, this actually happened!”? Yeah, it’s like that.

I would be very interested to read reviews of this book written by others who have DID. I don’t necessarily feel as though I learned a huge amount about the disorder through reading this book, but I did learn more about the different ways that people cope with stress, trauma, abuse and depression.

It’s an excellent reminder that no two people react in the same way to difficult situations, and in turn, no two people will deal with the aftermath in the same way either. I found myself reacting to the reactions of the different personalities, rather than just accepting that that’s how they deal with situation/person ‘x’. That’s ok when I’m reading the book, but I would never dream of confronting someone about their reaction (unless it put themselves or others in danger).

The body which houses the personalities is a 50 year old female, but it contains a little girl, a man, a lion and seven very different women, all born at separate times over the last two to 50 years! During the book, I felt that I got to know a few of them really well.

Jade and Anne are pretty normal women, with Jade being the more feisty of the two! I was a little disappointed when the book ended and I still felt that I didn’t really know Peter, the male (human, not lion/man) personality.

I would be over the moon to discover that some of the other personalities had decided to write additional chapters, or even books! But, the book has shown me enough to know that a couple of them would never even entertain the idea.

However, I would certainly buy Zen’s self-help book, read Nancy’s blog rants and watch Ray’s practical joke YouTube channel if they existed! I wonder if Anne plans to write more in the future as she gets to know the others better. Hint-hint.

This book deserves to be shared, talked about and read by thousands. It’s funny, heart-breaking, very strange and non-stop engrossing. It’s a bold statement, but reading this book sort of feels like you’re the eleventh member of the body. This is a compliment to Anne in particular as she manages to portray what should be an unimaginable scenario to anyone who may be reading the book. Yes, she’s confused, angry and upset, but she also has a new life to get on with.

I would like to thank Anne and Jade for sharing, not just their story of DID, but also of their experience of coping with abuse, depression and attempted suicide. Yes, it will make readers cry, feel sick and possibly even give them nightmares, but I think it’s wonderful that someone can share experiences like this and help others through the process.

Jade and Anne don’t sugar-coat and they’re not embarrassed to say what they have to say. I’d love to spend some time with them if they didn’t live on the other side of the world!

The cover was created by Neil, one of the personalities: a sort of lion-man with the voice of Liam Neeson. I think I got some strange looks on the bus with it as it probably looked as though I was reading a children’s book. Don’t let it put you off – I completely recommend this book to all.

We are not dangerous serial killers. We are real—all of us. I am. We are. – A.J. Mouse

Available in paperback (274 pages) and for Kindle.

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#2017, #ajmouse, #blurb, #book, #did, #disorder, #dissociativeidentitydisorder, #mouse, #review, #youtube

A Timeline of Weird Fiction

From Akutagawa to Ajvaz, here is a handy timeline of Weird Fiction!

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I hope you find it useful! Feel free to share it everywhere 😉

#1892, #1897, #1908, #1917, #1949, #1952, #1970, #1973, #1980s, #aesthetics, #ajvaz, #akutagawa, #american, #anthology, #artist, #author, #barker, #books, #booksofblood, #clivebarker, #editor, #english, #examiningtheodd, #fantasy, #fiction, #film-2, #flashfiction, #horror, #lairdsamuelbarron, #leonoracarrington, #literary, #literarystyle, #magicrealism, #mexican, #michalajvaz, #mikerussell, #nelsonsladebond, #newyork, #novelist, #poet, #prague, #review, #russian, #series, #share, #strange, #translator, #weirdfiction, #wikipedia, #writer

Clara Engel – Folk Noir

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When the sun’s tentacles reach down from heaven and thaw my frozen tongue

I’ll have a voice that’s all my own…

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Photo taken by Fiaz Farrelly

out of waste bodies rise
out of flesh nectars bloom

-from What Should We Leave for the Monster Tonight? by Toronto-based Clara Engel

Today I’m listening to indie musician Clara Engel. Clara is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and visual artist (all of the fantastic images in this post are hers). The original plan was to write a review just for her album Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss, but I couldn’t not include the various fantastic images and songs that I found elsewhere, so this has become more of a post on the work of Clara Engel.

Listening to Clara Engel’s music is a tad like listening to anxiety… not her anxiety, but a stand-alone anxiety that doesn’t necessarily belong to any one person. The songs are haunting with a slight threat of violence, like a toned-down and more melodic IX Tab… but IX Tab disturbs me and Engel doesn’t. This is a good thing.

I think my favourite song so far has to be What Should We Leave for the Monster Tonight? (a bowl of mushrooms and milk apparently). The song has a gorgeous droning quality to it and wonderfully poetic lyrics (above). It’s brand new (last month) and you can listen to and buy the full digital album here.

Ghostly voices echo and prolong strings of lyricism. Theremins and marimbas billow into the head and cloud the power of reason, like a fog that obscures the path of recovery. ATTN

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The Moon is Covered in Snakes. An older song from Clara, filmed “In the glowing cove”…

This one reminds me of The Handsome Family a little.

I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering the work of Clara Engel as much as I have!

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Follow Clara on Twitter and on Facebook.

#album, #anxiety, #artist, #attn, #bodies, #claraengel, #discovering, #engel, #favourite, #fiazfarrelly, #flesh, #good, #indie, #ixtab, #lyrics, #moon, #mushrooms, #review, #song, #songs, #tentacles, #thebethlehemtapes, #thehandsomefamily, #themooniscoveredinsnakes, #theremins, #twitter, #visitorsareallowedonekiss, #voice, #whatshouldweleaveforthemonstertonight, #work, #youtube

Mike Russell and his Surreal Stories

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Mike Russell is the author of two short story collections; Nothing Is Strange and Strange Medicine. His work is surreal and often humorous, with some stories even being described as erotic, absurd or disturbing. Mike has performed his stories in the South of England for over a decade, wearing his famous top hat with its all-seeing eye.

A review for Mike’s first collection, Nothing Is Strange: “Reader Beware: If you enjoy reading stories that are written with structure, stories that are comprised of a beginning, middle, and end, or stories that do not transcend the boundaries of reality, then this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want to read stories that will free you from the chains that are attached to the anchor of reality, then this is your must-read collection.

Nothing is Strange is a collection of twenty short stories in which everything is strange, but strange in a good way.

The twenty stories are miniature narratives. The collection is well written and highly imaginative. Each story takes you on a journey where the imaginary becomes reality. Instead of reason we have imagination. In place of the banal we have passion for liberation. Instead of the ordinary, we have magic.

By their very nature, the stories are freeing. They will take you to places within your mind you never knew existed. For those unaccustomed to reading surreal stories these stories may be hard to swallow. One might compare it to looking at modern art for the first time. I can only imagine how people felt the first time Duchamp exhibited his Readymades, or Picasso his art. A typical first reaction might raise the question of whether or not the artist is authentic, or is he simply trying to put one over on us.

The concept of these stories first appears to be too simple to be called art. Yet, as one delves into the collection, and crosses back and forth between the boundaries of real and unreal, one comes away with the feeling that there is more to them than at first appears – and you would be correct in this assumption.

Reading these stories feels as if you’re following footprints in the snow, footprints that take you somewhere and nowhere. Sometimes the footprints are deep and easy to follow, but sometimes they are obliterated and nearly imperceptible. The reader may, for a time, get lost. For some, tripping through these stories may be a harrowing experience. But for others, the journey on the wind of imagination will be a mind-blowing and rewarding experience.

But the magic doesn’t end there, for once discovered and devoured, the effects of a surreal adventure multiplies the further out one travels.

My advice then, dear reader, is for you to read this collection. Take a chance you may be hooked on the reality of non reality, which, in turn, will inspire you to explore other artists of the genre, some who are long gone, and others, like Mike Russell, who are our modern guides on the surreal journey.

So go ahead: Jump into the swimming pool with your clothes on. You may very well find you won’t want to get out of the water.” – Gerard Bianco

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Mike Russell’s website is StrangeBooks.com and both books are available in paperback or for Kindle. You can also read Dunce, a story from Nothing Is Strange for free here, and Flock, a story from Strange Medicine for free here!

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#adventure, #advice, #art, #book, #collection, #concept, #duchamp, #dunce, #england, #erotic, #experience, #freeing, #genre, #gerardbianco, #good, #guides, #harrowing, #imagination, #imaginative, #inspire, #journey, #liberation, #magic, #mikerussell, #nothingisstrange, #picasso, #read, #reader, #reading, #review, #shortstories, #stories, #strange, #strangebooks, #strangemedicine, #surreal, #surrealstories, #unreal, #youtube