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review 2017-09-03 18:09
Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction From the 70's and 80's by Grady Hendrix
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix

 

A book about the period of time when the horror genre ruled the paperback racks at the bookstore? A book about the period of time in my life, (about Carrie's age, in fact), when I felt like an outsider, and horror made me feel included? Sign me up! Luckily, Quirk Books and NetGalley did just that, and here we are.

 

This book is a reference book, a guide to life and times in the United States in the 70's and 80's. Things going on in the world and in society always affect our fiction and those times were no different. Paperbacks from Hell puts it all into perspective in an easy to read and humorous way. All the while vividly punctuated with those freaking AWESOME horror book covers of that time!

 

I bet you remember those covers too. The Sentinel with the priest looking out at you; Flowers in the Attic with those children looking out at you...and ALL those children from the John Saul books, (though at least one was blind and was NOT looking at you.) I had a mad grin on my face the entire time I was reading this, and with its funny chapter titles like "What to Expect When You're Expecting (a Hell Baby)," and its funny observations about life back then, how could I not? I'd wager that you'll have a mad grin on your face too.

 

 

 

Contributing a great deal to this book was Will Errickson and his blog, Too Much Horror Fiction. You can and should (!) find it here: Too Much Horror Fiction

 

Paperbacks From Hell gets my highest recommendation! Period. You can pre-order your copy here. (I did!): Paperbacks From Hell

 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *

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review 2017-09-03 17:29
Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Audrey Rose - Frank De Felitta,Matt Godfrey

 

Back in the late 70's I guess, maybe the early 80's, I read this book and I loved it. I was very excited when I saw that Valancourt Books was bringing it back into print, but I had trouble working it into my reading schedule. When I was offered a chance to review the audiobook, I jumped at it and I'm glad I did.

 

It turns out that I had forgotten a lot of this story. Not only that-I think a lot of its social commentary went over my head because I was only a young teen at the time and didn't know half the things I thought I did.

 

Janice and Bill Templeton have a young daughter, Ivy, who has bouts of severe nightmares. Asleep, she runs about in a panic, yelling for her parents and screaming "Hot, hot, hot." The first time the nightmares occurred, a psychiatrist seemed to help the situation. This time around nothing seems to help.

 

Meanwhile, a strange man is spotted recently hanging around Ivy's school and standing nearby the beautiful apartment building where the Templetons live. How is this man related to Ivy and her nightmares? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This story takes place in the 70's with all that that entails. Scientology and other cults are becoming popular. Hypnotism and psychology fascinate the general public. Casual sex, (before AIDS), is becoming a thing and the social fabric of life in the US is changing. Bill and Janice Templeton seem to want to change with the times, (they get sex manuals and try to keep things fresh, for instance), but in other respects, Bill especially is set in his ways. His world view is not flexible and anything that challenges it cannot be tolerated. If only for a slightly more adaptable point of view, much of what happened later might have been prevented.

 

Audrey Rose held up for me, after all these years. There was much I didn't remember so it seemed almost like an entirely new story. Some of it is dated, of course, (remember looking for a working payphone?), but its observations of human behavior are still spot on and sharp. This isn't a perfect story and perhaps the courtroom drama could have been trimmed a bit, but I never lost interest.

 

The narration by Matt Godfrey was also spot on and helped to cement some scenes clearly in my mind. "Mommy, daddy, hot, hot, hot..." gave me a serious case of the creeps every time I heard it.

 

I'm glad this story from the golden time of horror held up and maybe even exceeded my vague memory of it. This tale supports the idea that you should always appreciate fully what you have, but you should also keep an open mind. Don't be so stubborn that you allow no room for the unexplained. You may avoid a lot of heartache and tragedy if you can do that-just ask Bill Templeton.

 

Highly recommended, especially for fans of 70's and 80's horror!

 

 

You can find your copy here: Audrey Rose

 

*I received a free review copy of this audio in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-04-10 18:55
Elizabeth by Ken Greenhall
Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural - Jonathan Janz,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

NEVER have I been so unsettled reading a book narrated by a 14 year old girl. But perhaps that is because Elizabeth is not your ordinary teenager. She's descended from a long line of witches and is now discovering the power within her. Or is she? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

The prose in this book is simply outstanding. It's chilling at times because the narrator seems to have no feelings whatsoever. She talks about sex, acts of violence, and eating breakfast all in the same tone. Sometimes I would need to read a sentence or paragraph over again to be sure that I read it correctly.

 

Then, there's the sex. It's not graphic at all, there are no mentions of sex organs or the mechanics of the act itself...it's just there. Perhaps that is why it never bothered me, as sex between a 14 year old girl and adults should. Then again, perhaps it is because Elizabeth herself never expresses any feeling about it, she only mentions it as a...tool, (please forgive the half-hearted pun), to get what she wants.

 

The entire time I was reading, I was wondering if Elizabeth, indeed, possessed supernatural powers. Was everything going on simply a matter of coincidence and her overactive imagination? Or were these things actually happening because of her actions? (In this regard, Elizabeth reminds me of one of my favorite books, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons.) It was the masterful writing of Mr. Greenhall that had me turning this fact over and over again in my mind. I know what conclusion I came to, I'm interested in yours!

 

This novel reminds me of why I became a horror fan in the first place, it wasn't the gore or the blood, (though those DO have their place and I love them too), it's human nature and what people can be capable of, underneath their ordinary facades. These days we have tons of books and TV shows about sociopaths/psychopaths/personality disorders-all of which are trying to explain things to us. Mr. Greenhall wrote this back in the day, (the 1970's), before FBI profiling and Criminal Minds. Even without all of those studies and the psychiatric manuals, he had this criminal profile down PAT.

 

Is Elizabeth continuing on her family's tradition of witchcraft, or is she another type of animal altogether? I HIGHLY recommend you read this book, and then come talk to me. We'll discuss it together!

 

*Thank you to the most awesome Valancourt Books for the free review copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

 

**Furthermore, thanks to Valancourt for bringing back these horror gems that may otherwise have been entirely forgotten. Bravo, guys! Bravo!**

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review 2017-03-22 18:50
Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall
Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

In the late 70's, I started reading horror in earnest, and I honestly thought I was familiar with most horror writers of the time. I was wrong. I'd never heard of Ken Greenhall until Valancourt Books brought him to my attention. Now, I want to get my hands on everything he's written.

 

Baxter, the bull terrier, is a sociopath. But he's just a dog, you might say! It's true, but he's observant, willful and extremely dangerous. With some portions of this book being from his point of view, the reader gets a clear look into what's going on in that doggie head of his. I know this book sounds cheesy, and perhaps like a rip-off of Cujo, but the facts are that it's not cheesy at all, and it was written before Cujo. Featuring keen insights into human behavior, precise but spare prose, and bringing to the reader a growing sense of dread and horror, I'm pretty sure this will be among the best books I will read this year.

 

My highest recommendation! You can get your copy here: Hell Hound

 

*Thanks to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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text 2017-03-21 17:35
I've read 50% of Hell Hound and...
Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton

 

I'm torn between racing through to the end or slowing down to savor every word. I'm not sure how I missed Ken Greenhall back in the late 70's, since that's when I began to read horror in earnest. I only know that I will now try to track down everything he's written.

 

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