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Search tags: short-stories
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review 2020-05-28 14:00
The Elf
The Elf: A Christmas Horror Short Story - I. Clayton Reynolds

by I. Clayton Reynolds

 

This was a short Christmas Horror story with an interesting twist. I should mention trigger warnings but how to do so without spoiling the twist?

 

It starts out much like an old Twilight Zone episode. There is an elf decoration with evil doll aspects and a little girl who is blind seems to hear it speak and describes things she cannot see because the elf saw them. Standard creepy stuff, but it doesn't go where I expected.

 

I thought it was very well done and the surprise ending caught me off guard, unpleasant though it was. A good one for those who like Christmas Horror and don't mind when things get icky.

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review 2020-05-28 00:07
‘Everything My Mother Taught Me’ by Alice Hoffman -highly recommended short story.
Everything My Mother Taught Me - Alice Hoffman,Brittany Pressley

I rather like Amazon's idea of having collections of short stories, written by well-known writers and available as Kindle and audiobook versions.

 

One of these collections is called 'Inheritance' and focuses on family secrets and their consequences.

 
 

When I saw that one of these stories was by Alice Hoffman, I was excited. When I heard the opening sentences, I knew I had to have a copy:

'There are those who insist that mothers are born with love for their children and place them before all other things, including their own needs and desires. This was not the case with us.'

The dispassionate tone of the second sentence was the hook for me, a move into a minor key that says, 'something is very wrong here and has been wrong for some time.

 

So I spent an hour listening to Alice Hoffman's precise prose describing a girl's deep understanding of her mother's loveless nature, her choice to stop speaking after her father's death and her decision, as she comes of age, on how to put a stop to her mother's behaviour and achieve her own freedom by learning one of the lessons her mother taught her: put your own needs first.

 

Brittany Pressley's narration sets exactly the right tone for the story. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

 
https://soundcloud.com/audiolibrary-a/everything-my-mother-taught-me-by-alice-hoffman-audiobook-excerpt 
 

 

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review 2020-05-27 19:00
THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS by Brian Lumley, narrated by Joshua Saxon
The Taint and Other Novellas - Brian Lumley,Joshua Saxon

Welcoming the chance to get my Lovcraftian horror on via the excellent narration of Joshua Saxon, I tore into THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS. What fun!

 

A collection of 5 novellas which were written back in the mid to late 1900s, these tales do not have the polish of Lumley's later works, like the Necroscope series. These stories are more the work of a writer starting out, (while serving in the military), a writer bewitched by Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. The fun parts of the mythos are here, but they lack the racism and other issues of Lovecraft's work.

 

My favorites of the 5 were: LORD OF THE WORMS This tale featured Titus Crow, a name I remember from back in the day, though I can't quite remember the tales in which he featured. In this story, he's invited to a home under the pretense of cataloging a large book collection at an old estate. Of course nothing is as it appears. Throw in some mesmerizing hypnotism, (see what I did there?!), some maggots and some spiked wine and you have yourself a great time!

 

THE TAINT was a fun tale involving fish-men. That's right, fish-men. With all the creepiness inherent in that phrase. It's not as much a pulp tale as one would think, with just the right mix of horror and perhaps a bit of social commentary, (but that's just my take.)

 

Finally, the last story THE TEMPLE HOUSE takes the form of a man inheriting an old estate from his uncle. He takes a friend and goes to Scotland to inspect his inheritance, and soon finds a letter from his uncle asking him to destroy the place. Why? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Regarding the narrator, Joshua Saxon-I've only listened to one other performance of his, which was the excellent THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja. In that book he was voicing only one character while in this collection, he voices all kinds of people and he does it quite well. English, American, Scottish, he does them all and never for a moment did I doubt the origins of any of the characters. Well done, sir!

 

This was a collection full of fun Lovecraftian monsters, fish people, maggots and worms. If these are the things that delight you, then you'll enjoy the hell out of this volume!

 

Recommended!

 

You can get your audio here: THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS

 

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

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review 2020-05-27 03:31
Review: Inside Jobs
Inside Jobs: Tales from a Time of Quarantine - Ben H. Winters,Scott Aiello,Ellen Archer,Kevin T. Collins

This was one of the audible monthly free listens.  I listened to this at work while binning and while I would love to say I couldn't focus on it because of the job, that's not the case.  It was a fun-ish listen; the stories had some comedy, and intrigue that made me laugh or gasp, but it was nothing to write home about.

 

I feel as though it was a good effort and the stories were decent, but I could only manage 3-stars.  The stories all take place during the "current global situation" and I can appreciate the thought behind it.  A little something to make you giggle during quarantine, or something the spike your heart rate.  I get the intentions behind it, and I applaud the authors and editors, as well as the narrators.  I just didn't love it.  It was not quite distracting enough.

 

But it's a quick listen with comedy, quarantined mobsters, estranged brothers stuck together in their childhood home, and a woman who is certain one neighbor murdered his b=husband and is slowly disposing of the body in pastry boxes every day. So it's worth a listen, especially if you're an audible member.

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review 2020-05-18 21:13
The Hardboiled Dicks, edited by Ron Goulart
The Hardboiled Dicks - Ron Goulart

This was a fantastic anthology of hard-boiled detective fiction from the pulp golden age. All eight stories feature a short paragraph introducing the author, their signature characters and the context of original publication. The end of the book has a brief reading list detailing full length novels and collections published that, at the time of this 1960s publication, could be found in remote lending libraries that didn't weed their collections too often. Ha!

 

These stories deserve a blow-by-blow account of highlights and misfires, but I didn't keep any notes while reading this one. 'China Man' had some racist elements in the underbelly of Manila, but Raoul Whitefield's Filipino private-eye was a refreshing change of pace nonetheless. There were a few other racist and sexist elements that cropped up in these stories, but nothing shocking or unexpected considering the genre.

 

This was a gag gift from a friend, but I enjoyed it very much. With the exception of 'China Man', the stories were set in the United States in L.A., New York, a mountain resort, Florida among others. The detectives were professional private eyes, gangsters, cab men and reporters. I suspect this is as good a survey of the genre as you're likely to find.

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