And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseAnd Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe has the honor of being the first book I read completely digitally. That is a testament to its readability. I loved having it in my pocket to page through whenever I had downtime over the past month. This is a fantastic collection of short stories. Each one has its charms. The Man in the Ambry was a particularly spooky standout that had me glancing a little longer at the closet by my bed, while The Five-Day Summer Camp and The Tower Princesses provided Twilight Zone-esque social commentary. Kiste’s prose is often beautiful as she mixes tragic romance, nature, and societal flaws into a delicious cocktail. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe is how well the tales fit together on a thematic level. While I pick up a copy of Kiste’s novel, The Rust Maidens, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this collection.

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The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot, #2)The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about “Papa Poirot.” Agatha Christie’s prose style is simple and easy to read while her plot is fascinatingly complicated. No wonder she’s remained popular for just about a hundred years (her first novel was published in 1920). This tale starts with a murder on a golf course (links as it’s called in the title). Poirot and his friend Hastings, the narrator, quickly line up a row of suspects, all of whom have secrets to be revealed. While the mystery at the heart of the novel is compelling, I might’ve enjoyed two of the subplots a little more. The first was Poirot’s rivalry with a fellow investigator, Giraurd, who spends his time comically scouring the ground looking for clues. The second was Hastings romance with a girl he terms “Cinderella.” Based on Hastings romantic sections, I’d wager that Christie could’ve been just as famous a romance writer as a mystery writer if she’d chosen to do so. I started this book because I wanted to read an Agatha Christie novel, and I am very happy I did. While I have no plans to read more mystery novels anytime soon, I will probably pick up another Poirot tale in the future.

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Man of War: A Two Hawks Adventure by Heidi Ruby Miller

Man of War: A Two Hawks AdventureMan of War: A Two Hawks Adventure by Heidi Ruby Miller

Fans of pulp should love this story. While I’d never read a Two Hawks adventure before this novella, I was able to step right into this world and easily grasp what made the character and Farmer’s universe interesting. This is a testament to Heidi Ruby Miller’s prose. She details a wild aquatic world for Two Hawks to explore alongside his partner in crime, Dakota. Miller manages to make both her protagonists feel equally interesting, and Dakota never becomes a cliché damsel to be rescued. If you like pulp, Two Hawks, Philip Jose Farmer, or fun, I can’t recommend the book enough.

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The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

The Ballad of Black TomThe Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

LaValle created a novella that takes The Horror at Red Hook and improves on all it’s worst elements while staying true to the themes and tropes of the Cthulhu Mythos as made famous by H.P. Lovecraft. The central character of the novel, his struggles in a racially divided New York, and his fury, propel the reader through this tight read. The novella also does a fabulous job of explaining why elements of The Horror at Red Hook don’t sync up completely with The Ballad of Black Tom. I can’t recommend this story enough if you’re fan of the Cthulhu Mythos.

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Great Tales of Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

Great Tales of HorrorGreat Tales of Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

This collection has all the best of Lovecraft’s horror tales, and each story is introduced with a blurb by famed Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi. This is a great collection to own for any fans of the weird yarns of H.P.L. My personal favorites are The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Colour Out of Space, and The Whisperer in Darkness.

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