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review 2017-04-20 18:35
Nightmares and Geezenstacks by Fredric Brown, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown

This was a thoroughly enjoyable collection of short stories, superbly narrated by Matt Godfrey. I can see now why Stephen King gave Fredric Brown and specifically this collection a special mention in his non fiction book about influential horror written during the 1950's through the 1970's: Danse Macabre.

 

Within this volume, there are nearly 50 stories, most of them very short. There were some sci-fi tales mixed in, but most of these were horror. For whatever reason, these tiny gems brought me back to the stories I read when I first got into horror. I would say the period after Poe, but before King. I did a lot of short story reading back then; I used them as a way to find new authors, and then longer works written by them. Somehow, I never discovered Mr. Brown back then, but I'm so glad that I've discovered him now.

 

There are too many tales to get into here, but a few of the standouts to me were:

 

The Geezenstacks This was Just. Plain. Fun! How can you go wrong with a horror story about dolls?!

 

Cat Burglar That ending cracked me the hell up!

 

There were several stories that began with "Nightmare in..." and I pretty much loved all of those.

 

Matt Godfrey does a tremendous job narrating these stories. I've listened to a few of his audios now, and he's quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. Will Patton had better watch out!

 

This collection really stands above most others of its kind, not only from that time period, (the 60's), but this time period as well. That's not to say that some of these stories don't feel dated, because some do, but I don't feel as if that affected their impact. Also, Nightmares and Geezenstacks will not work for everyone, especially those who love their tales to be extra bloody or leaning towards bizarro. Horror was tamer in the 60's, and these stories are a product of their time.

 

That being said, I loved this collection. It had short stories that were actually short, it had a great deal of variety, most tales packed a real punch and the narration was wonderful. I give this my highest recommendation!

 

*I received this audio free from the narrator, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2016-10-30 16:48
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume One
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories - Francis King,John Blackburn,Richard Marsh,Michael McDowell,Stephen Gregory

 

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume One is one of my favorite collections of this year, and that's saying a lot because I've read some STELLAR collections in 2016. This is one of the rare times that every. single. story. worked.

 

The stand-outs to me were: Miss Mack by Michael McDowell. It's McDowell. How could it not be good? This starts out as such a nice story about a friendship between two women and then it takes a sharp turn into darkness. Permanent darkness.

 

Furnished Apartments by Forest Reid (I would be remiss if I did not mention the excellent intro to this little known author's story. This, and the story itself made me want to immediately read more of Reid's work.) This is a creepy little story about (surprise!) a furnished apartment for rent.

 

A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh Most known these days for his novel, "The Beetle", Richard Marsh wrote over 80 books and 300 short stories. This particular tale is a delicious story of revenge featuring some creepy crawlies. I absolutely loved it.

 

The Progress of Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory Stephen Gregory is another favorite author of mine. He's not as prolific as I wish he would be. Valancourt somehow dug up this nasty tale, (which, once again, features a bird), originally published in the Illustrated London News back in 1982. I am so glad they did! I have read everything I could get my hands on from Mr. Gregory. Without Valancourt, I would never have had the opportunity to read this gem.

 

California Burning by Michael Blumlein Michael Blumlein is another author introduced to me via Valancourt Books. They published his collection: The Brains of Rats which contains one of the most disturbing short stories I've ever read. Once again, Blumlein knocked my socks off with this story of a man whose bones would not burn.

 

The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin A beautifully written tale and one I found to send chills up my spine. Not only because of the spookiness of the story, but because of the amazing prose. I've never even heard of this guy before, but now I want to read everything he's written.

 

The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest Probably most well known for his novel The Prestige , Christopher Priest's contribution to this collection was superb. It reminded me a bit of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love and makes me wonder if she ever read The Head and the Hand. It's a rather weird tale, but I loved it. Plus it made me REALLY want to read The Prestige which has been sitting on my Kindle for well over a year.

 

I could go on and on, because as I said every story in this collection worked for me. I can't write a review that's a long as the book though, so just a few more things. The intros to these stories were excellent. Many of them talk about how these authors were prolific back in their day and now have been forgotten. I love that Valancourt is dedicated to bringing these authors back into the public eye. I'm going to do my best to read more of the authors that appealed most to me, like Priest and Birkin.

 

This collection receives my highest recommendation! Every single story is thought provoking and even the introductions to the tales are well written and informative. Plus, these aren't a bunch of stories that you've already read in countless other collections and anthologies. Valancourt worked hard to bring you enticing pieces that will likely be unfamiliar to most contemporary horror readers. All I can say to that is BRAVO! (And MORE, PLEASE!!)

 

Get your own copy here: The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories

 

*A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

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text 2016-01-27 18:01
Reading progress update: I've read 290 out of 656 pages of The Magus and...
The Magus - John Fowles

 

I am bored. So, so bored. 

 

About halfway through now and suddenly the story seems to have changed from interesting and intriguing to OH MY GOD when is something going to happen?

I took a quick break from this to read something else, something NOT BORING! 

 

Any words of encouragement for me out there? Is it worth it to struggle on?

 

 

     

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review 2016-01-15 17:15
The Collector by John Fowles
The Collector - John Fowles

 

Thought by some to be the first psychological thriller, this book left me slightly wanting.

 

The Collector is broken into three parts. The first part is from Clegg's point of view. Clegg is a man obsessed with a young woman and decides to "collect" her, much as he collects butterflies. The second part is from the woman's point of view, once she's been "collected". This was the part that I found unsatisfying. There were some observations in this portion about class, money and society which probably were more pertinent in the 60's, (which is when this book was written), than they are now. I found this portion slowed down the pacing considerably. The third part goes back to Clegg's point of view.

 

Clegg is where this book lives. The peeks inside his mind, while presented as normal thoughts on his part, are truly chilling to us readers who are sane. I shivered to read some of the things he was thinking. These psychological tics and the detached way in which they were presented were what made this book great. (You can see how I'm torn here between being unsatisfied, while at the same time finding some portions of The Collector to be outstanding.)

 

To today's jaded horror readers? This might not be the book for you. But to fans of stories like Silence of the Lambs, or even Red Dragon, I think this book will appeal, even though some of the themes are a bit outdated. It's to them that I recommend The Collector. 

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review 2014-12-15 18:05
Ratman's Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert
Ratman's Notebooks - Stephen Gilbert,Kim Newman

 

Does anyone remember the movies Willard or Ben? They were both based on this book by Stephen Gilbert.

 

 

I can see why this book would be a prime candidate for film. It was vividly written and is told through the personal diary entries of Willard, starting when he was asked by his mother to kill some rats on their property. Willard chooses to take a different route altogether and the reader is in for a ride.  (To be clear the author of the diary is never named in the book, I used the name Willard to make writing this review a little easier.)

 

This is more of a psychological tale than a creature feature. We follow Willard as he begins to befriend and train his rats. It was a fascinating process. It was also fascinating to read Willard's diary entries and follow how his mind slowly warps into something ever more dangerous and desperate.

 

 

 

 

 

I had a blast with this book! I found it very difficult to put down and very difficult not to freak out as the rats play a bigger and bigger role in the story. However, believe it or not, there was a point where I felt so sorry for one rat, that I had a tear in my eye! Excellent, simple writing and great storytelling come together in this book and I had a great time reading it.

 

Highly recommended to fans of creature features and psychological horror!

 

 

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