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review 2018-04-27 15:32
FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES by Steve Rasnic Tem, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey

 

FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES by Steve Rasnic Tem is an exceptional example of short fiction at its best. I've been reading Mr. Tem's work for years, but never have I seen so many of his short stories collected into one volume- and what an outstanding collection it is!

 

There are far too many tales to go into each one individually, but my favorites were:

 

JESSE: A very disturbing story that tricked this reader-I picked the wrong bad guy.

 

CITY FISHING: Other than the word "unsettling," I have no idea how to describe this. It was the first tale in this collection and it hasn't completely left my mind since I finished it.

 

HUNGRY was just...sad.

 

"It's like the love goes inside me and gets lost. And then it just isn't there anymore-like I eat the love, momma. And then I'm still hungry." 

 

RED RABBIT: Yet another disturbing tale which starts out being about one thing but by the end it was about something else entirely.

 

LEAKS: This one gave me a bad case of the creeps. Something was wrong with this horrible, damp, wet house. I shudder in disgust just thinking about it.

 

MIRI: is a special kind of stalker. INVISIBLE: Who in their life has not felt invisible at times? Those points where it feels like no one in the world even knows or cares you're there? This one touched a chord deep inside.

 

THE MEN AND WOMEN OF RIVENDALE: There are a lot of stories in this volume about grief. I felt this was one of them. Grief is powerful, but extended family can be a big help when they're there for support, right? Right?

 

GRANDFATHER WOLF actually made me grin, though I'm not sure it was supposed to. It makes me wonder what lengths a family would go to to keep a family member close, even if that family member is dangerous.

 

VINTAGE DOMESTIC: This one turned my stomach. Then I laughed with delight.

 

PREPARATIONS FOR THE GAME is a tale that started out one way and then slowly morphed into something else entirely. Better get dressed now, it's almost time to go.

 

I guess I'll stop there. Not every story in this collection worked for me, but most of them did, and they worked WELL. I know these tales won't be for everyone, but for me this was a perfect collection of stories. They all complemented each other and flowed like a freshwater spring from one to the next. In short, (too late!), they left this reader blown away.

 

I listened to this book on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose laid back style is perfect for this collection. The combination of Steve Rasnic Tem, Matt Godfrey, and Valancourt Books is like some unholy trilogy of excellence and FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES is the result of their union. Don't let it pass you by.

 

My highest recommendation!

 

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

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review 2018-04-26 22:30
FIGURES UNSEEN by Steve Rasnic Tem...
Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey

I just finished it and I'm going to need a little bit of time to collect my thoughts on all these stories. That said, this collection vaulted right past many others directly onto my  ALL TIME FAVORITES list. 

 

More tomorrow when I post my review, but seriously? If you're a fan of horror and/or dark fiction, and you're not reading the work of Steve Rasnic Tem? 

 

You are missing out on some of the best stories in the genre. Period. 

 

 

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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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text 2017-12-14 12:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Audiobooks of 2017!
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey
The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
Between Two Fires - Christopher Buehlman
The Memory of Running - Recorded Books LLC,Ron McLarty,Ron McLarty
Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown
You Will Know Me: A Novel - Megan Abbott,Lauren Fortgang
Behind Her Eyes: A Novel - Sarah Pinborough
The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel - Matthew Quick,Inc. Blackstone Audio, Inc.,Darwin Porter
Empire Falls - Richard Russo

 

This has been the year of the audiobook for me. I believe I've listened to more of them this year than ever before. And boy, this year brought two of my favorite authors to life through the power of voice. Let's get on with it, shall we? (Oh, and click the cover to see my original review!)

 

 Blackwater by Michael McDowell, narrated by Matt Godfrey

1. My number one audio of the year, (and indeed, of ALL time) is Blackwater. Written by the fabulous Michael McDowell and performed by Matt Godfrey, this epic tale spans generations of the Caskey family and their matriarch, who may or may not be altogether human. The star of this show is McDowell's writing-he brings his sharp wit and his knowledge of family dynamics to the table and then Matt Godfrey brings it all home. Blackwater clocks out at just over 30 hours of listening, and I was never, ever bored. 

 

Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey 

 

 The Lesser Dead written and performed by Christopher Buehlman

2. Christopher Buehlman was unknown to me at the beginning of 2017. Now, in December, I count him among my favorite authors. I've read or listened to ALL of his novels since April, starting with Those Across the River and ending with The Lesser Dead. Mr. Buehlman narrates The Lesser Dead himself and in most cases, I don't think that's wise. In this case, he knocked it out of the park. I later learned that he performs at Renaissance Fairs, sometimes as a storyteller and sometimes as a professional insultor. Perhaps his experiences with performing has honed his voicing skills because this book was KILLER. After I finished listening, I "rewound" it, so to speak, and listened to the last chapter again. Oh my goodness, oh so killer!

 

The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman 

 

Born to Run written and narrated by The Boss

3. I'm not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen, but I'm a bigger fan since I listened to his memoir. I have always been a fan of his songwriting abilities and it seems that that skill transferred well to writing this book. I'm sure a true Springsteen fan would get even more out of this book than I did, but I sure did love listening to that husky voice relate how he got started, learned to dance, (to pick up women), and how he struggled to get and keep a band, not to mention a marriage, together.

 

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen 

 

Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman, narrated by Steve West

4. Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman, narrated by Steve West was totally and completely INSANE! Some truly scary scenes were depicted in this story and thanks to the vivid writing and expressive voicing, I can still picture them clearly in my head. 

 

Between Two Fires - Christopher Buehlman

 

 The Memory of Running, written and performed by Ron McClarty

5. The Memory of Running, written and narrated by Ron McClarty. I got turned on to Ron McClarty because he narrated Empire Falls by Richard Russo. Then, when I looked for additional performances by him I discovered The Memory of Running. From what I gather, it was originally available only as an audio book which Stephen King highly recommended. Eventually it became available in paper form as well. Anyway, Mr. McClarty used to play a recurring judge on Law & Order, but writing and narrating is most definitely his forte. I loved this weird tale of memories, acceptance and bicycling across the United States.

 

 The Memory of Running - Recorded Books LLC,Ron McLarty,Ron McLarty

 

 Nightmares and Geezenstacks by Fredric Brown, narrated by Matt Godfrey

6. A thoroughly entertaining collection of short stories, some of them super short, but all of them a lot of fun. For the most part, I prefer reading short stories rather than listening to them, but Matt Godfrey's talent made me change my mind about that. 

 

Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown

 

 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, narrated by Lauren Fortgang

7. Competitive teenage girls are just about the scariest monsters out there, and I know scary!

 

You Will Know Me: A Novel - Megan Abbott,Lauren Fortgang

 

 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, narrated by cast

8. The book everyone was talking about at the beginning of the year! Usually, I avoid those like the plague. However, the audio was available at the library, so I decided to give it a go. I vividly remember listening to this while I was cleaning and then, for the last half hour or so, I just sat on the sofa, stunned. 

 

Behind Her Eyes: A Novel - Sarah Pinborough

 

 

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, narrated by Ray Porter

9. Audible was giving this one away for free, so what did I have to lose? I loved the movie, but as usual, the book was a little different. That said, I loved the book too! 

 

The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel - Matthew Quick,Inc. Blackstone Audio, Inc.,Darwin Porter

 

 

Empire Falls by Richard Russo, performed by Ron McClarty

10. This book came to me highly recommended by a fellow reader. Even though a book about small town life with no evil children or haunted houses is really not my thing, Empire Falls MADE IT my thing. I've since listened to two more audiobooks of Richard Russo's work, (Everybody's Fool and Nobody's Fool), and I tracked down McClarty's Memory of Running, (see above.) Now, I just need to track down the HBO series of this FANTASTIC novel. 

 

Empire Falls - Richard Russo 

 

This year I've learned the following:

 

Ron McClarty and Matt Godfrey can both narrate the hell out of any story, and I will happily listen to them perform their grocery lists.

Authors sometimes CAN perform their own stories and do it better than anyone else.

 

I've finally accepted that audiobooks are an acceptable form of reading and I look forward to finding new narrators and discovering new worlds to listen to in 2018.

 

Thanks for reading if you've stayed this far! I hope you'll join me in enjoying audiobooks in 2018! 

 

 

 

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review 2017-12-08 16:38
Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Robert Marasco,R.C. Bray

Marian is a 70’s housewife and she is tired of city life and coerces her husband, Ben, into checking out a summer rental with a beach that is far from the sweltering heat, stink and noise of the city. He says it sounds too good to be true and whines, “but honey, we can’t afford it”. But he caves. Should’ve stood your ground, man!

 

The rental turns out to be a giant estate on 200 acres. There are 30 rooms and all they have to do is pay $900 for the summer and leave “Mother” sustenance three times a day. Ummm, what? Yes, Mother is staying! Apparently, Mother doesn’t leave her room and will be no trouble at all as long as you keep to the feeding schedule or so say the weird brother and sister who are renting the place and who skedaddle out of town leaving no contact information as soon as the couple agrees to rent the place.

 

Marian immediately takes to the home as if it were her own, obsessively preparing meals for Mother and cleaning and fretting (which sounds like a vacation in Hell to me) while Ben, his aunt and their young son fritter away their days in the sun. But that doesn’t last long. Soon enough eerie events start to occur and Marian’s obsession with the house intensifies. They can try to escape but the house wants what it wants!

 

This was an unnerving listen that allows the dread to slowly build. It is read expertly by R.C. Bray who is perfect for this kind of old-timey story. His voice is so serious and wizened just enough to set the scene and make the words even creepier. But, folks, it was written in the early 70’s and its 70’s roots are definitely showing in some of the dialogue.

 

“I’ll do the talking. Just look pretty and keep your mouth shut.” Ben says this to Marian and she doesn’t punch him the face.

 

At another point Marian says (out loud, mind you) to Ben, “You know I’m the dumb one.” He accepts this as fact and again does not get punched in the face and they move along with their day.

 

Ahhh, the 70’s. I am so very glad I was too young to have to deal with this WTFery!

 

If you like haunted houses and haven’t listened to this story on audio, what the heck are you waiting for?

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