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text 2017-12-19 18:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Anthologies/Collections of 2017
The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett
Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Johann Thorsson,Max Booth III,Glen Krisch,Jessica McHugh,Kealan Patrick Burke,Mark Matthews,Jack Ketchum
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two - Nevil Shute,Mary Elizabeth Braddon,Michael P. Kube-McDowell
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow
Dark Screams: Volume Six - Stephen King,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman,Joyce Carol Oates
20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden
Halloween Carnival Volume 5 - Lisa Tuttle,Kevin Quigley,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman
The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle
For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska,Steve Upham,Charles Black,Reggie Oliver,Reggie Oliver
DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense - Joyce Carol Oates

 

I've read a ton of great short story collections and anthologies this year, making it difficult to limit my post to only ten. But I think I've managed to do a decent job of it, so without further ado, here's my top ten. (Click the book covers below to see my original review.)

 

1.  The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett  This collection still haunts my dreams. I know I'll be reading it again.

 

2Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Johann Thorsson,Max Booth III,Glen Krisch,Jessica McHugh,Kealan Patrick Burke,Mark Matthews,Jack Ketchum  An anthology featuring stories of addiction.These tales are disturbing, fun and gross all at one time!  Featuring some of the best horror authors of today, you can't go wrong with this intense anthology.

 

3. The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two - Nevil Shute,Mary Elizabeth Braddon,Michael P. Kube-McDowell  Once again, Valancourt Books puts together a stellar anthology, featuring the likes of Michael McDowell, Stephen Gregory and R. Chetwynd-Hayes to name just a few. James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle both have a keen eye for excellent horror and they don't just hand us the same old, same old. 

 

4. Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow  Edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton. I have to admit this anthology knocked my socks off. All of these tales are connected by Halloween, be it the Halloween we celebrate here in the US, or the different ways it is celebrated across the world. This is the anthology that surprised me the most this year. (In a good way!)

 

5Dark Screams: Volume Six - Stephen King,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman,Joyce Carol Oates  I read a number of the Dark Screams series this year, but this one was my favorite. Featuring stories by Tim Curran and Norman Prentiss, Dark Screams: Volume Six stood out the most to me. 

 

620th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden  This was Joe Hill's first published book. I loved it! It features the story Pop Art, which is one of my all time favorites. 

 

7. Halloween Carnival Volume 5 - Lisa Tuttle,Kevin Quigley,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman  Like the Dark Screams anthologies, I read a number of Halloween Carnival volumes this year, but this, Volume 5, stood above the rest. Featuring stories from Richard Chizmar, Norman Prentiss (there he is again!), and Lisa Tuttle among others, this was a fun book. 

 

8The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle  This outstanding collection features a bold premise: a group of Victorian age writers get together with the price of admission being a supernatural story. What fun! I read this last week and I'm still thinking of some of these fun tales. 

 

9For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska,Steve Upham,Charles Black,Reggie Oliver,Reggie Oliver  I read this fabulous collection with my Horror Readers group and we all loved it. I had never heard of this author before reading this book and now I'm hoping to read more from her in the future.  (Plus, look at that cool cover!)

 

10DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense - Joyce Carol Oates  by Joyce Carol Oates. These stories had all been previously published, but I had not read them, so they were new to me. JCO is hit or miss with me sometimes, but with Dis MEM Ber, she did not strike out. 

 

If you've stayed with me this far, I thank you! I hope you'll check in with me during 2018 as I tackle more horror short stories and hopefully more new authors. Thanks for reading!

 

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review 2017-10-22 00:37
Halloween Carnival, Volume Two - Brian James Freeman
Halloween Carnival Volume 2 - Glen Hirshberg,Lee Thomas,Holly Newstein,Del James,Brian James Freeman

With Halloween right around the corner, let's get right into this collection.

 

 

Mr. Dark's Carnival - Glen Hirshberg

 

 

A Montana ghost story thats got some nice creepiness. David is a college professor that teaches a class that explores folklore and his favorite part of the course is the folk tale of Mr. Dark's Carnival. For many years, it has been rumored that the mysterious carnival pops up in a rural setting and only a few select people get chosen to attend. David has never met anyone that has personally been to the carnival and doesn't believe it truly exists until he gets his ticket. A great ghost story that has a murky ending.

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 


The Facts in the Case of My Sister - Lee Thomas

 

 

David's estranged sister, Joyce, is in the hospital from an "accident". The prognosis isn't good and David has doubts that her injuries were from an accident. When Joyce and he were kids, David taught himself how to do magic tricks from a book he got. Joyce was always his willing audience and participant. Now, David pulls out a trick from his past to learn what really happened to Joyce.

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 


Mischief Night - Holly Newstein

 

 

Willard had a good life, a loving family and wife, and looked forward to his retirement. He was never a drinker after growing up with a nasty old drunk for a father. In what seemed like a harmless way to celebrate his retirement, the bottle grabs ahold of Willard and doesn't let go. On Mischief Night, Willard meets a troubled teen that stumbles into his basement. Can one man's bad decisions help alter the path the youngster is headed down?

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 


The Ghost Maker - Del James

 

 

Halloween has it's own set of scares when you're a mob hit man. You have to be on your toes, even if you're the grim reaper. Great voice that makes for a fun read.

 

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

 


The Pumpkin Boy - Al Sarrantonio

 

 

Jody is a latchkey kid for half an hour every afternoon until his mom gets home. He knows he's not supposed to be outside and he follows that rule. Until, one day, he sees the Pumpkin Boy walking past his window and he can't believe his eyes. For police detective, Len Schneider, Jody's disappearance is bringing back old, haunted memories that he's been trying to lock away for 18 years. What started out as a promising novella, fell flat for me with the ending.

 

 

3 out of 5 stars

 

 


Overall, a nice little collection with mostly hits than misses. Well worth the time.

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

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text 2017-10-02 22:30
September 2017 Round Up!
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix
Carter & Lovecraft - Jonathan L. Howard
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters - Emil Ferris
Dark Screams: Volume Eight - Bentley Little,Kealan Patrick Burke,Richard Chizmar,Frank Darabont,Brian James Freeman
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two - Nevil Shute,Mary Elizabeth Braddon,Michael P. Kube-McDowell
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde - Recorded Books LLC,Jeff Guinn,Jonathan Hogan
The Wilderness Within - John Claude Smith
Haven - Greymore Publishing,Matt Godfrey,Tom Deady
Audrey Rose - Frank De Felitta,Matt Godfrey
Mystery Road - Kevin Lucia

I read 16 books in September!

 

 

Graphic Novels:

 

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Farris

 

Total: 1

 

Audio Books:

Audrey Rose by Frank DeFelitta, narrated by Matt Godfrey

Haven by Tom Deady, narrated by Matt  Godfrey

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, narrated by Emma Thompson 

Go Down Together: The True,Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde narrated by Jeff Guinn

The Girls by Emma Cline, narrated by Cady McClain

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc, narrated by Amy McFadden and Michael David Axtell

 

Total: 6

 

ARCS:

Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton

Dark Screams Volume Eight

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories Volume Two, edited by James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle

The Wilderness Within by John Claude Smith

Money Back Guarantee by Hunter Shea

Mystery Road by Kevin Lucia

Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix

 

Total: 7

 

Random Books:

Carter and Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

 

Total: 2

 

 

 

READING CHALLENGES

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June & July: 0

August: 1-The Talented Mr. Ripley

September: 0

Running Count: 6

 

 

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

July count: 4

August count: 5

September: 1

 

Running Count: 34! Challenge Met!

 

 

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review 2017-09-25 18:45
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two- edited by James Jenkins & Ryan Cagle
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two - Nevil Shute,Mary Elizabeth Braddon,Michael P. Kube-McDowell

 

Once again, the gentlemen over at Valancourt Books knocked their anthology out of the park-maybe even out of the state! Last year's Volume 1, (click to read my review), was outstanding and Volume 2 is as well. My favorites of this volume are as follows:

 

Stephen Gregory's never before published: "The Boys Who Wouldn't Wake Up" was poignant and, in a way, beautiful. It was also very much unlike any other Gregory story I've read. I'm a huge fan of this author and this tale did NOT disappoint. 

 

"The Nice Boys" by Isabel Colegate was a spectacularly eerie story, set in a relentlessly foggy Venice, Italy. A young woman heads there to vacation away a recent bad break up and meets two young men. As the tension grows the reader is drawn in, but the vivid and disturbing scene towards the end ensures this story will not soon be forgotten. 

 

"Herself" by M.E. Braddon involved two of my favorite tropes-haunted houses and haunted mirrors. I'm not sure which it was, exactly,  but I'm going with  a combination of the two. I love these types of stories-where people are called in to help but are rendered helpless by circumstance and can only witness as bystanders the evil that occurs.

 

"Halley's Passing" by Michael McDowell. It's no secret that I adore Michael McDowell. (You do too, if you love Beetlejuice or The Nightmare Before Christmas.) This tale, however, is shocking and extra bloody which is unusual for him, but at the same time: so much FUN.

 

"The Elemental" by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. Another FUN tale featuring a psychic that no one takes seriously. At first. 

 

"Samhain" by Bernard Taylor. Taylor is an author that I was unfamiliar with until Valancourt Books republished some of his work. I am now an unabashed fan and stories like this are exactly why. Everything is going along, you think you have a handle on things, and then BAM! He punches you right in the face. It's often a bloody punch too, and this is no exception. I laughed out loud at the ending because I was surprised, it was bloody and I loved it!

 

"The Bell" by Beverly Nichols. A beautifully told tale about a man who was completely dependent upon his valet/butler and what happens when that butler dies. Who will then come to the insistent ringing of the bell? 

 

Just like with Volume 1, I could list each and every story as a standout, because they were ALL just that good. Also like with Volume 1, is the fact that most of these stories have not been published over and over again. I'm not sure if it happens with all genres, but the same horror stories often appear ad nauseam in anthologies and it's irritating. With the cost of books these days, it's disappointing to buy an anthology only to discover you've read half the stories already in other anthologies. Rest easy, because that is not the case here. 

 

Each story in this volume is prefaced by a bit of background on the story and on the author, many of whom were not known for writing in the horror genre. I think that fact brings a certain freshness to this collection that is often lacking in others. The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two is simply EXCEPTIONAL and belongs in the collection of any serious fan of the genre. 

 

My highest recommendation!

 

You can pre-order your copy  here: The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two

 

*This book was provided by Valancourt Books in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

 

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text 2017-09-14 18:45
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two

Available this October from Valancourt Books! 

 

I was SO VERY EXCITED to find this in my mailbox the other day!

 

There's a Michael McDowell in here I haven't yet read, as well as a Stephen Gregory and a Bernard Taylor. I ask you: Who's a happy Char??

 

 

Valancourt Books has earned a reputation as one of the foremost publishers of lost and rediscovered classics, reissuing more than 400 unjustly neglected works from the late 18th century all the way to the early 21st. In this second volume of rare horror stories, the editors of Valancourt Books have selected fourteen tales – all by Valancourt authors – for this new collection spanning two centuries of horror. This volume features a previously unpublished ghost story by Nevil Shute, a brand-new tale by award-winning author Stephen Gregory, and twelve other tales that have never or seldom been reprinted. 

 

Features stories by: Mary Elizabeth Braddon • John Buchan • R. Chetwynd-Hayes • Isabel Colegate • Basil Copper • Thomas De Quincey • Stephen Gregory • Michael McDowell • John Metcalfe • Beverley Nichols • Nevil Shute • Bernard Taylor • Russell Thorndike • Robert Westall

 

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