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review 2017-04-11 22:24
The Late Breakfasters by Robert Aickman, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Late Breakfasters and Other Strange Stories (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Philip Challinor,Robert Aickman,Matt Godfrey

It pains me to say it, but I did not like this book. At all.

 

I knew going in that it might not work for me. I've read one of Aickman's collections so far, and many of the stories left me unsatisfied. But, it was just one collection; maybe I read it wrong? It happens. But after listening to this wonderfully narrated story, I think it will be a long time before I attempt to read the other Aickman collection that I own.

 

The man writes beautifully, there's no doubt about it. He is also capable of sly social commentary and has a keen eye for the reasons behind certain behaviors; I appreciate that. But, and forgive me for asking, where is the damn story? This seemed more like a rambling tale about repressed sexual feelings, that sometimes features a nice enough lady named Grizelda. There are a few, I stress FEW, weird moments...and that's about it.

 

The narration here is fantastic and to be honest, if it weren't for Matt Godfrey's soothing voice, I would have ditched this book without finishing. It seems like with such promise in the voices, the story just HAD to get better, or at least show up. But sadly, it never did.

 

As I mentioned, the prose itself was excellent as was the narration, hence my 3 star rating. If I were rating on narration and quality of prose ONLY, it would be 5 stars. But for me, there has to be a story, and here I could not find one. This is obviously how I and I alone feel about The Late Breakfasters. Your mileage may vary.

 

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

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review 2016-11-07 19:25
Shadow Moths by Cate Gardner
Shadow Moths: Frightful Horrors Quick Reads - Cate Gardner,Simon Bestwick

 

Shadow Moths collects two short stories into one very slim book.

 

We Make Our Own Monsters Here is a very short story about a puppeteer of sorts going on an audition. It's strange, but I liked it! Check Harding checks in to the Palmerston Hotel, a place he's planning on staying for the night before he goes on an audition in the morning. The hotel is strange, his room is strange and Check himself is VERY strange. He passes the night practicing his shadow puppets on the wall and the next morning, takes the bus to his audition. I can't say much more without spoiling this weird tale, but I can say that I loved it and I wish it were longer. I have a thing for puppeteers, (shadow or otherwise), and if you do too, I think you will enjoy this eerie little tale.

 

Blood Moth Kiss was another short, but strange story. It was rather surreal and well...shadowy. I'm not quite sure I understand what happened, but in my opinion, I think this was a vignette about war and our fears; be they real or imagined, like the blood moths exploding throughout this tale. In either case, war is sad for everyone involved, on all sides, and that's what I'm taking away from Blood Moth Kiss.

 

Both of these stories are beautifully written and evocative.

 

I've not heard of Cate Gardner until earlier today, but now that I've read a few tasty treats from her library, I think I'd like to read a few more. Highly recommended!

 

You can buy your copy here: Shadow Moths: Frightful Horrors Quick Reads

 

*I received a free e-copy of this short book 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 - Professor of Strategic Management Bernard Taylor,Michael P. Kube-McDowell,Christopher Priest

 

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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review 2016-10-10 15:22
Blood Verse by Patrick James Ryan
Blood Verse - Patrick James Ryan

 

Blood Verse is a rather lengthy collection of short stories and dark poetry. The stories range all over the place from weirdly creepy tales to ones about psychos surviving the storm of the century. Some were bigger hits with me than others and those were:

Hair This was a story straight out of the Twilight Zone. Creepy and weird without any real explanations, this was my second favorite tale in this collection.

Spelling Bee reminded me a lot of Stephen King's The Running Man. I remember a game show in that story where people with heart problems had to run on a treadmill. In this story, contestants have to do the whole spelling bee drill-say the word, spell the word, then say the word again. However, in this game if you get the word wrong, the consequences can be deadly. (This was my favorite story.)

Little Swimmers was an imaginative little story that packed a surprise ending that really was a surprise. (That happens so rarely, at least for me.)

F-21 was all over the place from abusive husband, to spree killer to apocalypse survivor-there was just no way to predict where this story was going.

While all these tales showed a lot of imagination and promise, the writing itself left a little to be desired. Admittedly, I have pretty high standards as far as grammar and use of language are concerned, so this is mostly a personal observation on my part. Also, there were a few things that could have been caught with more careful editing; for instance the word Tornado's in F-21 shouldn't have been a capital T and it shouldn't have had an apostrophe either. Issues like this popped up more often than they should which is why I deducted 1.5 stars from a 5 star rating.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection of dark fiction and poetry and I believe that Patrick James Ryan is an author to watch. As such, I plan to read his novel The Night It Got Out later this month.

 

You can purchase your copy here: Blood Verse

 


*I received a free e-copy of Blood Verse in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2016-09-11 21:27
Bumps in the Road, edited by Chad Lutzke
Bumps in the Road - Michael Arsenault,Kyle Vadlsky,Pam Farley,Vincent Treewell,Adam Vine,Bekki Pate,James H. Longmore,Chad Lutzke,Chad Lutzke,Kevin Folliard,The Authors of Black Bed Sheet Books,Suzie Lockhart,Shane Simmons,Glen Damien Campbell,John Boden,Kelly M. Hudson,John

Bumps in the Road is an anthology, edited by Chad Lutzke, containing stories that all have something to do with being on the road. The road can be a dark, creepy, and lonely place; some of these trips are nightmarish, indeed.

 

As with any collection, not all of the stories worked for me, but the ones that worked especially well are as follows:

 

The Last Seven Miles and Home by Shane Simmons. As ugly little scenario that felt realistic to me. 

 

 

Deprivation by Chad Lutke. This was a heartwarming tale of a trucker doing without. Doing without a lot of things. Like...teeth.

 

Lids by John Boden. I'm not sure, but I felt like this story was about saying goodbye. I liked it.

 

Loop by Bekki Pate. Just plain disturbing.

 

Blood is Thicker by John Rollins. I thought my mother was bad.

 

Night Patrol by Vincent Treewell. I had a clue where this story was going from nearly the beginning, but the journey was enjoyable anyway.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this collection more than I thought I would. With the exception of Chad Lutke and John Boden, I had not previously heard of any of these authors-that's kind of a shame. I think there's some real talent on the grow here, and I look forward to hearing more from a few of these writers soon.

 

Recommend to all fans of short fiction!

 

*A free PDF of Bumps in the Road was provided to me by John Boden in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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