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text 2019-08-07 16:10
Halloween Bingo Pre-Party - Days # 4 & 7
Deep Water - Patricia Highsmith,Gillian Flynn
Thirteen Guests - J. (Joseph) Jefferson Farjeon
Gothic Tales (Oxford World's Classics Hardback Collection) - Arthur Conan Doyle,Darryl Jones
Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler,Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola
Cold Moon Over Babylon (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier,Sally Beauman
The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

Favourite Books and Authors of Halloween Bingos past?


Sure! Lots of them!


I love finding new authors during Halloween Bingo, but I also look forward to revisiting authors that have already become favourites, none more so than Michael McDowell.


McDowell to date is still only author of the horror genre that I actively look forward to reading. And Halloween Bingo is the perfect time for it.


But HW Bingo has also allowed me to read more Farjeon, more Highsmith, more Du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle. Not like I needed a prompt for this but what is better than to spend the arrival of the longer nights and winter season with a few favourites that ooze atmosphere?


I have also found a few new favourites like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and I hope to read more by her soon.


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text 2019-06-18 22:18
Re Moonlight Reader's Essential Reading List
Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler,Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola
The Day Of The Jackal - Frederick Forsyth
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë,Peter Merchant
Howards End - E.M. Forster
Forbidden Journey - Ella Maillart
A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
The Comedians - Graham Greene,Paul Theroux
Artful - Ali Smith
Embers - Sándor Márai,Carol Brown Janeway

Ok, a lot of the titles that are special to me have already been listed, so these are the ones that I would add (listed in no particular order - I love them all equally):


1. Gilded Needles - Michael McDowell

This book blew my socks off. I'm not a horror reader but McDowell has changed my entire outlook on that genre and I consider Gilded Needles to be his best work for me.


2. The Day of the Jackal - Frederick Forsyth

The short explanation for this pick is that it set a standard for me about what a thriller should be. I seriously love this book. It has action but also makes one think. Note - The Bourne Identity did cross my mind as a potential contender but it would be like like bringing a knife to a gun fight. LoL. 


3. The Tennant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte

This is the book that tipped Jane Eyre of its pedestal for me. Anne was a badass.


4. Howards End - E.M. Forster

This is a conventional choice. I get it. It's a book that is on many lists already. However, this is Forster's best work and it is a shame that it is on any "Best of List" because that kind of hype usually backfires. At least it does for me. It's one book that also should never be forced on high school students because this book is deeply personal and no one should be forced to discuss how this book makes sense to them. I don't know. 

So, yes, this is a "classic" by a dead white guy, I am not going to hold that against the book. 


5. A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood

Where compilers of Best of Lists like to include Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, I'd usually like to substitute their entries with Isherwood. Yup. I know. Dead White Guy. But still one of the best books I've read. There is especially one part where I always think that the Bell Jar can bugger off - For me "I am. I am. I am." has nothing on "Waking up begins with saying am and now."


6. The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey

I love this book for so many reasons: it literally has no plot and yet Tey managed to turn this into a suspenseful murder mystery, showing that actual history is thrilling. Tey challenged the accepted view of historical fact and basically had the guts to challenge Shakespeare and every school history book being taught at the time of writing. Moreover, she made me look at historical paintings in a more enlightened way. I love Tey - as you are sick of hearing by now, I'm sure - and this one started that that journey.


7. Forbidden Journey - Ella K. Maillart

I am listing this because this is the seminal book of Maillart's that established her firmly as my favourite badass travel writer and explorer. She's usually overshadowed by her two-time travel companion (and brother of Bond creator) Peter Fleming, whose books are really shallow and short-sighted in comparison to Maillart's. She's one author that may not have the stylistic skills of her peers, but she's one that has more things to say than most of the travel writers I have read.


8. The Comedians - Graham Greene

Yup. Greene. I cannot leave Greene off a list and I still consider The Comedians his best book. There is no wallowing in Catholic guilt in this one like there is in what is usually listed as his best work. This one faces and exposes the inhumanities of a violent regime gripping Haiti at the time Greene wrote this and pokes it with a very pointy stick. 


9. Artful - Ali Smith

Ok. Smith. Artful is not a novel. It's a lecture that is presented as a part-fictional narrative. What is important to me about this one is that it encapsulates how language works and how an author can make language work in a multitude of ways. If I were to compare this another work about a different art - John Berger's Ways of Seeing had a similar effect on me. (But he is usually listed on a Best Of list somewhere and I wanted to pick a book about language and literature.)


10. Embers - Sandor Marai

Maybe an odd choice but this is a book that I read decades ago and it is still with me. It is one of the books that set a standard for other books to follow with respect to creating atmosphere because even thinking about Embers I can smell the wood burning in the fireplace and the pine trees outside. 


So, one of the things I noted with some regret while compiling this list is that there aren't many titles on here that originated in languages other than English. There are a lot of authors I adore who did not write in English but the ones I would have picked usually also appear in the Best of Lists - which I take as a sign that I need to make more of an effort to read diversely. 


Of those I would have picked, these are my top 5 (again in no particular order):


- Hermann Hesse: Steppenwolf & Unterm Rad (tr. Beneath the Wheel)

- Klaus Mann: Treffpunkt im Unendlichen (no idea if this was translated into English)

- Kurt Tucholsky: any of the satirical works

- Jules Verne: Journey to the Centre of the World

- Alexandre Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo


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text 2018-08-31 18:45
August 2018-That's A Wrap!
The Auctioneer: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Joan Samson
The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival - Terry Roberts
Behind the Door - Mary SanGiovanni
Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells
Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found - Gilbert King,Kimberly Farr
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury
Occasional Beasts: Tales - John Claude Smith
Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea
Skullface Boy - Chad Lutzke
The Siren and The Spectre (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Jonathan Janz

I read 11 books this month!



Graphic Novels






The Auctioneer by Joan Samson, narrated by Matt Godfrey 4*

Beneath A Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race and Justice Lost and Found by Gilbert King, narrated by Kimberly Farr 4*

The Bell Witch by John F.D. Taff, narrated by Matt Godfrey 3.5*


Total: 3


ARCS/Reads for Review


The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival by Terry Roberts 4*

Behind the Door by Mary SanGiovanni 4.5*

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells 4*

Occasional Beasts: Tales by John Claude Smith 4.5*

Creature by Hunter Shea ALL THE DAMN STARS!

Skullface Boy by Chad Lutzke 4.5*

The Siren and the Spectre by Jonathan Janz 3.5*


Total: 7




Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury 4*


Total: 1



Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

(I'm failing miserably)



1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

3. October by Michael Rowe

4. It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World by Curtis Lawson

5. Bad Pennies by John Leonard

6. Cold in July by Joe Lansdale

7. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

8. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury


Running Total: 109



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review 2018-08-01 18:45
THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Auctioneer: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Joan Samson


 Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes and books like this are the reason why!


Harlowe, New Hampshire is a small town surrounded by small farms. It's a tightly knit community, or at least the townsfolk believe it is, until an outsider comes to town and things begin to unravel.


Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer. Taking over a recently available old mansion in town, (due to the death of the previous owner), Perly sets about "improving" Harlowe by holding auctions to benefit the police department. These auctions are funded by the generous donations of the townspeople. Until they're no longer able to do so, (eventually there's nothing left), in which case they are gently and quietly threatened to come up with more donations, or ELSE. Will Harlowe survive these auctions or will it rise up against Perly in protest? You'll have to read this to find out!


I've been thinking about what this novel was really about and I'm still not quite sure. The strongest feeling I have about it relates to that old poem: "First they came for the Socialists...", but that's not quite right. Then I was wondering if it was really about fascism-the auctions after all first funded a police department, to the point of having almost as many officers and deputies as there were citizens in the entire town. But that doesn't quite fit the bill either, especially in light of the finale. Then I finally gave up the analyzing and endeavored to enjoy this novel for the yummy, atmospheric piece of horror fiction that it was.


If this is the type of story that usually works for you, (quiet, small town horror a la Tryon's HARVEST HOME, or maybe Michael Rowe's ENTER, NIGHT), I highly recommend you give this book a shot! I listened to it on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose voicing of Ma Moore I will never forget.


Atmospheric, full of tension and palpable fear, THE AUCTIONEER still holds up as an excellent tale, even now, 40 years later. I give it my highest recommendation!


*I received this audiobook gratis from the narrator in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it! Further, I consider Matt Godfrey to be a friend, although we've never met in person. This has not affected the content of this review.*

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review 2017-12-08 16:38
Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Robert Marasco,R.C. Bray

Marian is a 70’s housewife and she is tired of city life and coerces her husband, Ben, into checking out a summer rental with a beach that is far from the sweltering heat, stink and noise of the city. He says it sounds too good to be true and whines, “but honey, we can’t afford it”. But he caves. Should’ve stood your ground, man!


The rental turns out to be a giant estate on 200 acres. There are 30 rooms and all they have to do is pay $900 for the summer and leave “Mother” sustenance three times a day. Ummm, what? Yes, Mother is staying! Apparently, Mother doesn’t leave her room and will be no trouble at all as long as you keep to the feeding schedule or so say the weird brother and sister who are renting the place and who skedaddle out of town leaving no contact information as soon as the couple agrees to rent the place.


Marian immediately takes to the home as if it were her own, obsessively preparing meals for Mother and cleaning and fretting (which sounds like a vacation in Hell to me) while Ben, his aunt and their young son fritter away their days in the sun. But that doesn’t last long. Soon enough eerie events start to occur and Marian’s obsession with the house intensifies. They can try to escape but the house wants what it wants!


This was an unnerving listen that allows the dread to slowly build. It is read expertly by R.C. Bray who is perfect for this kind of old-timey story. His voice is so serious and wizened just enough to set the scene and make the words even creepier. But, folks, it was written in the early 70’s and its 70’s roots are definitely showing in some of the dialogue.


“I’ll do the talking. Just look pretty and keep your mouth shut.” Ben says this to Marian and she doesn’t punch him the face.


At another point Marian says (out loud, mind you) to Ben, “You know I’m the dumb one.” He accepts this as fact and again does not get punched in the face and they move along with their day.


Ahhh, the 70’s. I am so very glad I was too young to have to deal with this WTFery!


If you like haunted houses and haven’t listened to this story on audio, what the heck are you waiting for?

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