Review: Everything That’s Underneath

underneath

Me and Too Many Words are now a Read and Review minion for Apex Book Company. (If you are a reviewer I’d definitely check them out here) They have an eclectic collection of really unique novels and anthologies. Their monthly magazine rocks. It’s an all-around awesome stop for horror, fantasy, and science fiction lovers. For my first pick, I went with Everything That’s Underneath by Kristi DeMeester. I was drawn to the breathtaking cover by Mikio Murakami.

I enjoy the darker side of fiction. Better yet, I adore the hint at more than we are being shown. Layers and layers of it. Kristi had me with the first line of her first story which shares the title of the collection. Both sets the groundwork and mood for the rest. Kristi’s lyrical, poignant style and sorrow-touched scenes bled together into a mystifying air that builds with each story. This is a splendid collection of her horror and weird fiction. Each story is truly a complex and haunting masterpiece.

If I had to call out one story as not only my favorite, but one that will stick with me for a good while,  it would have to be, The Wicked Shall Come Upon Him.

Wicked Shall Come Upon Him kicked me in the throat then held me in an embrace of flowing prose and clear, raw and painful images. Kristi paints betrayal and broken heart in a tale wrapped with the gleam of dark fantasy. There is so much to pull from each sentence. The moment I read the last word, I circled back to reread it. Just. Wow.

I definitely recommend this anthology. Kristi is a gifted writer and masterful storyteller. She juggles the balance of relatable emotion and otherworldly elements with a swift, fluid prose. So much emotion comes through each story which webs beautifully with the terror and tension many of them build.

You can find the anthology at the publisher’s site and on Amazon.

Happy Reading!

-J

Episode 54: Heather Mason

54 promo.pngPop Culture journalist and host of Obsessed Right Now, Heather Mason joins me this We talk about Heather’s six weeks on the road, changes in weather, and the pressure to binge-watch Stranger Things 2. Before Heather comes on I get into the twisty world of my writing process and thoughts for those participating in NanoWriMo. The weekly book recommendation of the week is “All The Crooked Saints” by Maggie Stiefvater.

 

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iTunes: https://goo.gl/yNRqS2
Stitcher: https://goo.gl/MB9rpF
Google Play: https://goo.gl/2H6Shz

Support the show on Patreon https://goo.gl/S94MmS

New episode with Kat Howard

photo-by-shane-leonard

Kat Howard is on the showing talking about her new release “An Unkindness of Magicians” and her exciting new book deals with Saga Press. Kat and I get deep into the process of creating and what it is like to do yoga with pets. At the end of the episode there is a bonus section where Kat answers big questions about “An Kindness of Magicians” for those who have read the book. Before Kat comes on, I talk about NaNoWriMo and my crazy plans.

iTunes: https://goo.gl/7cLaso
Stitcher: (coming soon)
Google Play: https://goo.gl/byqqnK

Support the show on Patreon! https://goo.gl/S94MmS

Anthology Review: Upside Down

upside-book-coverI received a review copy of Apex Publication’s newest anthology UPSIDE DOWN: INVERTED TROPES IN STORYTELLING. This anthology is a treasure for both readers and writers. Editorial super team Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli did a splendid job compiling stories, poems and essays of well-trodden fantasy and science fiction tropes turned on their heads.

Unlike novels, anthologies give you the option of jumping around and reading at all different places in the book. Sometimes I do that right from the get-go, and I did the second time through with this anthology. But, my first time through, I was glued to each page from the very first to the last. The index of tropes and the stories that tackle them encouraged me to go back. Twice. The introduction sets the stage by getting into the comfort of tropes and the importance of them. “We all love comfort food. We all love surprises. A well-executed story trope, like a favorite meal, is always there when you need it, eager to satisfy. A chosen one destined to save the world. A love interest ready to transform your dull life…” -Jerry Gordon

It’s true. There is comfort in tropes. As readers, they give us something to hang our hat on and as writers we need to wield them. There is a fabulous array of authors such as Delilah S. Dawson, Alyssa Wong,  Micheal Choi, Sunil Patel, and Micheal Matheson—to name a few—who take common tropes and do extraordinary things with them. Alex Shvartsman takes all that we count on when diving into an epic fantasy and riddles a satire native with “Nouns of Noun: A Mini Epic” that kept me chuckling. I was delighted by “Drafty as a Chainmail Bikini” by Kat Richardson, which comments of the absurdity of women’s armor in the fantasy genre.

Each story has its “WOW” moment. There are a few stories that stood out to me so strongly I had to go back and reread them and soak in the beauty again and again. That’s the thing about the written word. Stories can carry a certain weight or personal response that just clicks instantly. When that happens, it’s a beautiful thing.

In “The First Blood of Poppy Dupree” Delilah S. Dawson takes the trope of an unprepared preteen’s first period. She paints an incredible picture of a girl who knew it would come, adds some Greek and Southern Gothic mythology and writes a story I wish I could have read when I was a preteen. I was in Walmart wearing white terrycloth shorts when mine first came without a clue. Dawson took all the shame out of it and made getting your period truly badass, raw, and slightly terrifying.

“The White Dragon” by Alyssa Wong is one those stories that reels you in with every sentence and then when its ended, everything just washes over you. Wong built so much in so few words. She tackles the trope of Yellow Peril, which is the fear that Asia poses a dire threat to Western civilization. Wong’s characters are so deep and well conveyed. The layers of magic realism packs such a punch.  It’s truly amazing.

“Those who Leave” by Micheal Choi tore my heart out and convinced me once and for all magic is in the world. Choi took the trope of the cold and calculating Asian scientist and built a world with hope, magic, and the ever-complicated mother/daughter relationship. Just gorgeous from start to finish. I teared up a little.

After the string of awesome stories, the impact of the essays detailing some tropes such as “Into the Labyrinth: The Heroine’s Journey” by AC Wise and “I’m Pretty Sure I’ve read this Before” by Patrick Hester really ties it all together. Each essay detailing basic story concepts somehow made every story I read prior more powerful.

There is whimsy and underlining darkness, heartbreak and satire, that flows well throughout the anthology. UPSIDE DOWN is really worth the grab!

You can find copies here!