Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Michael Crane

Killing My Kindle: Pieces by Michael Crane

KillingMyKindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Pieces by Michael Crane

Released On: May 13th, 2014

Summary From GoodreadsPieces

When a little girl’s body is found in the woods, a once quiet town is shaken to its core as it deals with the aftermath in this short story collection.

A man desperately tries to make a living but finds it difficult when the company van scares potential customers away. A parent fails to see when being protective of her only child transforms into an unhealthy obsession. A man decides he no longer wants children after hearing about the dead little girl, but is there something else factoring into the sudden decision? And in the final story, a child shuts down almost completely and has no idea if she can go on without her best friend.

In these twelve stories connected by a terrible tragedy, grown-ups and children alike try put the pieces back together again without any easy answers.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Pieces wasn’t quite what I had expected when I picked it up. I’m very familiar with Crane’s writing and his style, and usually his books (especially the Morbid Drabble series) have a consistent theme or tone to them. Pieces doesn’t quite fit that goofy or twisted vibe that I was used to, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.

The twelve stories all center around the young girl that was killed and display different ways that humans might grieve after hearing about that kind of news. It doesn’t matter if they were close to her or not, all that had to happen was it being in close proximity for their lives to change in some way. Some coped with drinking, others with isolation, some become obsessed, others just try to go about as if nothing had changed.

Pieces does a solid job at showcasing how the human psyche can be affected by tragedies such as this under a wide variety of circumstances. However, in terms of just enjoying the writing, it missed the mark a bit. A few of the stories didn’t seem to have much point beyond that general scope, and it felt like they were plugged in just to show variety. Other stories were stronger and had a lot of meaning and power to them, such as the best friend at the end or the lady obsessed with the news even though she didn’t know the girl.

For me it was the inconsistency and how some of the stories were rather mundane that put me off a little. Overall I’d say Pieces does what it is supposed to, but knowing Crane’s skill as a writer, it was unfortunate that it didn’t feel like it was as strong as it could have been. Some people wouldn’t be as affected as others, but that doesn’t mean that those stories need to be lacking in purpose.

If you want to read about the many different ways humans react to a singular event then Pieces is probably for you. If you’re a fan of Crane and want his usual brand of twisted humor, then maybe pass on this one. It’s a good piece, just not a great one. Thanks as always for reading.

Three Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: Lessons III – Demonic Dolls and Other Morbid Drabbles

KillingMyKindle

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Lessons III – Demonic Dolls and Other Morbid Drabbles by Michael Crane

Released On: July 30th, 2011

Summary From Amazon

A sister’s doll doesn’t take kindly to insults, and proves it.
A puppet maker believes his creations are out to get him.
A mother can’t stand her son’s new favorite toy… and for good reason.

In Michael Crane’s latest collection of terrifying and darkly comic drabbles, you’ll find out why Playtime is only fun for those with vicious intentions. In these thirty 100-word stories you’ll run into deranged toys with old scores to settle, homicidal sociopaths and other unapologetic creatures that lurk in the shadows.

In LESSONS III: DEMONIC DOLLS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES, nobody ever leaves Playtime in one piece…

Features bonus drabbles/shorts from authors David Dalglish, Daniel Arenson, Sean Sweeney, Imogen Rose and Jason G.Anderson.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

Michael Crane is at his best when he fires out quick, creepy, and humorous short stories, which is what all of the Lessons collections are. I enjoyed the first two Lessons collections quite a bit and got the hankering to read the next one recently, so it was time for III. So in the same style as the first two I will be giving a reverse-ordered favorites list, this time with my 5 favorites! ^.^

5. Never Date a Circus Clown – I imagine the inspiration for this one came from the Joker, and that’s really all I need to say about this one. Who wouldn’t read a short that reminds them of an insane clown? Exactly.

4. A Bloody Joke – Not everyone has the same sense of humor, and often comedians find that their jokes work very well on some crowds, but not at all on others. In this case the consequences are a bit more dire.

3. Downer – People when they are upset often say things they don’t mean, or are at least more extreme because of the emotions they are feeling, and Crane exploits this understanding in Downer very well.

2. Procrastinator – I don’t think the title really works for this one, but while the vampire joke is familiar and reminds me of one of the stories in Lessons II it still works pretty well. Another great ending on this one as well, if only Twilight could have been as sensible.

1. Confession Time – This was a truly hilarious story, not darker like some of the others, and the ending was priceless. Most of us have a guilty conscience to some degree, so when someone corners us trying to get us to confess it isn’t always obvious as to what exactly they are talking about. That is the situation in this story and it’s quite satisfying.

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #60/365; Mount TBR Challenge #43/200; 2014 TBR Pile #43/50; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #21/75

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: Lessons II: Another Morbid Drabble Collection by Michael Crane

KillingMyKindle

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Lessons II: Another Morbid Drabble Collection by Michael Crane

Released On: January 7th, 2011

Summary From GoodreadsLESSONS II by Michael Crane (book cover)

A sinister puppet finally makes a new friend.
A man learns about his bleak future.
A killer has another painful lesson to teach.

From the author of LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES comes this terrifying and amusing follow-up. 30 100-word shorts about horrible ghouls, monsters and deranged, bloodthirsty lunatics. In these drabbles, you’ll run into kid-hungry goblins, sadistic dolls, zombies and psychopaths who believe that violence can solve just about anything.

Disgusting, creepy and darkly comic, LESSONS II: ANOTHER MORBID DRABBLE COLLECTION is bound to entertain, as well as horrify.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

Michael Crane is at his best when he fires out short stories like these, quick bursts of wit and a little dark humor, and Lessons II is filled with 30 such works of gorey awesomeness. I really enjoyed the first Lessons collection which I reviewed early last year, and felt like this was a good time to give II a shot! So in the same style as the first I will be giving a reverse-ordered favorites list, this time with my 7 favorites! ^.^

7. Guest – Had one of the more unexpected twists, something that is pretty hard to do with only 100 words, and it made me think of True Blood. That’s my only hint. ^.^

6. Homework – Oh substitute teachers, how fun it can be to take advantage of them. My mother having been one for some time also added some extra enjoyment to this funny little story.

5. Intervention – This is definitely one of the darker stories despite its lack of gore, but there is a pretty serious message here too. I could use a drink…

4. Fortune Teller – This one had me in stitches. Fortune tellers already take advantage of the public for the most part, not that I blame them, but this is to the extreme, and it’s awesome.

3. Rats – This is included and this high up purely because it reminded me of The Princess Bride and the rodents of unusual size. I need to watch that again soon! As youuuuu wiiiiiish!

2. Dental Work – Dentists and dentist offices, not my favorite environment or place to be, so this had an added freak-out factor. They could do anything while you are knocked out! O_O

1. Solution – This story is, for me, Michael Crane at his best. It’s gorey, dark, twisted, and freaking hilarious. The ending is fantastic and I absolutely didn’t see it coming. One of life’s little problems solved, huzzah!

I don’t think it will be another year before I read Lessons III, these are just too fun to read and I could always use a good laugh. If you haven’t read the first Morbid Drabbles I would check that out, as well as the rest in the series, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #26/365; Mount TBR Challenge #21/200; 2014 TBR Pile #21/50; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #7/75

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: Giggles by Michael Crane

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Giggles by Michael Crane

Released On: August 28th, 2013

Summary From GoodreadsGiggles by Michael Crane

It was supposed to be a simple robbery. But when things go horribly wrong and a bank teller winds up dead, Chad and Ray need to keep themselves hidden from the law. They find a house where conveniently the family is absent. It should’ve been the perfect place for them to stay out of danger.

But there’s a greater danger lurking inside. A child’s sock monkey waits in the shadows and has terrible, awful plans for the pair.

From the author of LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES comes a tale of pure terror and mind games.

Mr. Giggles is ready to play…

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’ve read a few of Michael Crane’s short stories and really have enjoyed them, most notably Lessons (and Other Morbid Drabbles) which I reviewed last year and gave 5/5. So perhaps I came with too high of expectations when I decided to read Giggles for this week’s Killing My Kindle.

Giggles is a sock monkey, a demented sock monkey, and that part does come through in Giggles (the story) rather well. He’s a bit goofy and he uses stereotypical horror movie scenes and then openly mocks them, twisting things back to his version of reality as he sees fit. Giggles (the sock monkey) likes to torture, to play, and have fun…in his own way. All of that worked pretty well.

Where Giggles (the story) runs into problems is the other two characters, Ray and Chad. The story is told mostly from their perspective, taking turns from their POV every couple chapters. I never found any reason to feel any sort of emotion toward either of them. Neither of the two are engaging, both seem pretty cookie-cutter (Ray is the bad guy outer shell but a bit scared on the inside, Chad is the wimpy one that kind of wants to do good but can’t figure out how), and overall they both fell flat for me.

The humor (outside of the sock puppet’s) didn’t work for me here. Crane can deliver good comedic bursts and fun twisted stories when they are short and sweet (or sick and demented, to each their own), but in this longer format it felt stretched too thin. The story broke the fourth wall quite a few times and that didn’t help matters either. Maybe this was supposed to feel like a cheesy horror film (like the story mentions multiple times), and if so it works somewhat well, but I don’t think that was the aim.

Overall it was alright. I didn’t hate it, there were moments where I laughed a bit, and the gore was certainly there even if I was picturing tomato paste more often than blood (cheesy factor again). I wanted to like it, and I think Crane’s short stories are well worth checking out, but this one I can’t recommend. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #13/365; Mount TBR Challenge #11/200; 2014 TBR Pile #11/50; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #3/75

Two Smiling Frodos w Background


Day 32: Lessons (and Other Morbid Drabbles) by Michael Crane

Day 32

Summary From Goodreads

Lessons and Other Morbid Drabbles is a collection of 25 100-word shorts that range from darkly comic to downright terrifying and wrong. Some shorts feature ghouls and monsters while others are simply about people behaving very, very badly. Which is scarier? Find out in this sick and twisted collection.

They may only be a few words long, but that doesn’t lessen the bloodshed any…

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

I came across this collection while I was perusing for eBooks that were similar to that of Jeremy C. Shipp, one of my favorite authors and a horror/creepy-humor specialist. For whatever reason I didn’t get around to reading it until now, but I’m glad I did! As Lessons is a collection of 25 “drabbles”, or 100-word short stories, it is only fitting that I do a top five, so without further ado, my favorites in reverse order!

5. Bedtime – A father refuses to believe his young son when the boy says there is a monster underneath his bed. The dad checks it out refusing to believe and pays the price. Let’s just say his…view on life has been adjusted.

4. Grim – When a couple cops investigate a home where Death is supposedly trying to kill a guy (go figure) they are surprised to meet a dark hooded figure. The solution? Go drink at a bar, can’t go wrong with alcohol right?!

3. S.O.L. – A combination of zombies and a teacher goes all to right for a student who received an unwanted grade. Suffice it to say that the teacher won’t be giving out anything anytime soon.

2. Detention – A homage to Bart Simpson lurks in this drabble, and just as the spiky-haired fiend would believe, the teacher really is a monster.

1. Overreaction – Marriage is never easy, and sometimes one person goes a bit too far, that is certainly the case when Monday Night Football is threatened. I recommend you just let them watch, pick your battles folks!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #32/365

Five Smiling Frodos w Background