Book Review: Alphabet Soup

I got to about “C” before I realized I should take down notes to do a quick book review for Alphabet Soup, but then decided I wasn’t going to go into detail like I did with Will Dalphin’s book (Don’t Look Away) and thought that a quick-n-dirty review would be fun.

Wow. Has it really been like a week since I posted? Bummer.

Anywho. Let’s have a quick-n-dirty review.

Alphabet Soup: Horror Stories for the Tormented Soul

This is a book collected/put together by Tobias Wade (Tobias Wade did 51 Sleepless Nights, which is a great collection)/P F McGrail (who writes the forward) and the art is by Taylor Tate. I love the art in this book. The entire collection is by different authors playing in roughly the same world.

A is for Addiction, by David Maloney – A guy meets an addict, becomes an addict, and winds up getting a dose of something he wasn’t after. I like how it goes from typical “dude winds up an addict” to something you’d find on an early season of NoSleep Podcast.

B is for Barnacle, by Mr Michael Squid – Northeastern town is hit with a hell of a storm when this old captain collapses in a sub shop, much to the dismay of the employees. Really fucked up The Thing kind of stuff happening throughout the story while you realize that the person who wrote it loves marine biology.

C is for Clairvoyance, by Ryan Cook – A person has a gift for seeing peoples’ past/future. He’s told to not do anything about it, but does it anyway, and, eventually, has to make a terrible decision. Fun story!

D is for Daniel, by DoverHawk – Alien Hand Syndrome mixed with Phantom Limb Syndrome. A terrifying concept that made me think of another story kind of like this one (instead of Phantom Limb Syndrome, the character with Alien Hand Syndrome ends up being taken over by it). It’s a quick gut punch of a story.

E is for Echo, by Tobias Wade – A teenager hears the last thoughts of people who have died in any given location. Unfortunately, they go to a nearby lake with classmates for ditch-day and get consumed by the noise. It’s a really neat story.

F is for Formaldehyde, by Kyle Alexander – A guy gets revenge on his neighbors for managing to kill his friendly neighbor upstairs with cigarette smoke. This is a fun story and I highly enjoyed it. It gives off that sweet, sweet revenge feeling.

G is for Gang, by Grant Butler – Weird shit’s going down in Pine Grove Mall and a young officer winds up witnessing it. At first, the story seems a bit lackluster, and then the farther you go into the book, the more you realize that everything’s connected and this story was the introductory build-up to more twisted shit.

H is for Hegemonic, by Rafael Marmol – Religious cult! Sacrifice to a Dead God! Creepy ass priest. Did I mention religious cult? This story is so close to what we know of religious cults in our real-world that the only thing that’s different is the fact that this one has some sort of god living in a sarcophagus. But, really, who’s to say that hasn’t happened in meat-space yet?

I is for Ideation, by Jack T Anderson – A stone tablet falls to Earth, causing a scientific study of it. The downside is, once they’re able to translate it, they can’t get it out of their heads. This was a really awesome story.

J is for Jackass, by Saint Entropy – A person is remembering their college roommate, Jeff, who was your typical self-righteous asshole. Until he disappeared after making a poorly timed joke to the wrong guy. It’s a good story and I like the simplicity of it.

K is for Kinky Serial Killers, by Bak Hayong – Pretty much what it says on the tin: a group of serial killers go out, kill evil bastards, and have an orgy afterwards. The leader of the murderers realizes that for every one they kill, three more pop up, and he’s decided who the last victim will be. Despite the name, it’s a pretty good story and I enjoyed it.

L is for Lunacy, by Chris Thompson – A person has landed on the moon (with a group) in order to colonize it while firmly believing they are the only sentient beings there. After the description of something akin to Geiger and The Thing, I Noped the fuck right out of the story.

M is for Mirror, by Jacob Mandeville – A cursed mirror turns a man’s world upside down. I enjoy mirror stories, despite not being much of a fan of them in real-life. It’s like if Through the Looking Glass and American McGee’s Alice were to meet and manipulate people into murder.

N is for Necrosis, by J Y – A kid is forced to grow up with their obese mother and, while trying to get away as fast as possible, winds up having to come home from college in order to care for her. Her back has started to necrotize and, well…let’s just say if you’ve ever read or listened to any of the narrations for William Dalphin’s Hunger, it’s…a bit like that. I was super grossed out. (but it was so well written!)

O is for Olivia, by Marni Sue – A woman goes from a terrible near-death experience to being able to murder people with psychokinesis! It’s super awesome.

P is for Prey, by Kaitlynn Cooney – A “step by step” guide in how to lure and kill people and frame the coworker you absolutely hate. This story cracked me up.

Q is for Quota, by Kelly Childress – A woman leaves a note for her former bosses, thanking them for their hospitality before telling them who she is and what she’d done. She found that while her family was cursed, she also got screwed with the cure for the curse. I don’t want to give it away, but it was really enjoyable.

R is for Romance, by Mikey Knutson – A woman hooks up with a guy and changes his life. Again, I don’t want to give the story away, but it was well done.

S is for Sable, by Noah Rex – A homeless man, trying to find somewhere to crash for the night, winds up on Sable Lane and regrets it instantly. Horror ensues, the artwork for the story helps you imagine the climax, and it was fun. I was kind of hoping for an Adam Nevill style ending, but it works out for later on in the book.

T is for Time Travel, by John Buffalo – A kid shows off his parents’ time machine to his new friends and learns why you don’t leave people in there. This reminded me of a story I read years ago in the Darkness Creeping anthology, so I highly enjoyed it.

U is for Undelivered, by Harrison Prince – Killer Klowns for Outer Space meets Christmas is the best description you’re going to get from me. And now I have a reason to find snowglobes creepy as fuck. It’s a great story though!

V is for Venom, by P F McGrail – A woman gets conned into using her psychic abilities to take him to where he needs to go by using a synthetic poison. It’s a fun story that reminds me of like an old movie or something.

W is for West Bale Path, by P F McGrail – A recurring character meets another past character and shows him all the sights at West Bale Path. Terrible things are shown, memories of previous stories are brought up, and it’s a fun little story.

X is for Xenophobia, by Claudia Winters – A teenager is in charge of their town’s militia until one of her team mates winds up killing a stranger. Terrible things ensue and we get a glimpse of a character previously mentioned, which I thought was pretty cool.

Y is for Your Match, by Kyle Burton – A woman is recounting her terrible date with a guy to her best friend. It reads exactly how it would if someone were recounting their evening. Bosch is mentioned, which was neat, and I like the breif mention of something else (but, if I say it, then it’s going to take from the story itself, which I don’t want to do). I liked the brief mention of the thing, but also kind of hated the narration style. I understand why it was written like that, and I think that’s great. Just not my thing overall.

& is for Ampersand, by Christopher Maxim – Also known as “If You See This Building,” which MCP narrated a few weeks back. I started reading it and realized “hey! I know this story!” and that’s why (I’d listened to the narration). Quantum Physics in a building sent out to destroy worlds/timelines. It’s pretty great.

Z is for Zodiac, by Alex Baran – The thrilling conclusion to the book that leaves us with more questions than answers and the fear of world domination. It’s wonderful.

Overall, it’s a great anthology and I’m glad to have gotten the experience of reading it. It is available on Amazon for kindle (currently available for free if you have kindle unlimited) as well as paperback ($9.99).

If you’re into horror, then you will probably enjoy this read. It’s also fairly quick.

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Book Review: Don’t Look Away

(note: I realized when this hit 4 pages that I probably wouldn’t be able to post this on GoodReads like Will had asked for, so this is the Big Fat Review besides the basic omg this is awesome review. This has Links To Things)

Book Review!!

Don’t Look Away by William Dalphin

 

A collection of 35 short horror stories, which, frankly, are pretty awesome. A short version of the review would be: dude, this is awesome and you should read this, especially if you’re a fan of scary stories. But, since I can’t do a decent review by loud squee-like noise and trying to convince people to read it because dude this is awesome, I’m going to go story by story as most of them have narrations that I can link to.

Artwork is by Emily Holt, which is reminiscent of Stephen Gammell, Edward Gorey, with a hint of Charles Addams, and a sprinkling of Dave McKean

The book in its entirety reminds me of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series by Alvin Schwartz, Darkness Creeping by Neal Shustersman, and other various scary story collections that I used to collect and read as a kid. I found myself having to stop reading every two or three stories in and going to read something else. Usually a Discworld novel. Most of my narration links will go to NoSleep Podcast and Chilling Tales for Dark Nights. NSP’s first 2 seasons are completely free to listen to, while seasons 3 and on have SeasonPass memberships with the first one or two stories being free to listen to. CTFDN has their own website you can sign up for to listen to more stuff, or you can check them out on youtube. All the links I have for CTFDN goes to their youtube posts so you can listen to the narrations. (note: NSP is short for the NoSleep Podcast and CTFDN is short for Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, both wonderful podcasts).

She Found Her Way Into My Home: An entity finds its way into a guy’s home and hangs out. I don’t know what it is about this story, but it always creeps me the hell out. There are two narrations for the story, one by NSP  and one by CreepsMcPasta .

Ragged Lake – The Eye: A kid grows up with a “summer cabin” that he and his family go to every summer. He wakes up one night and finds something staring at him through a knothole. The story is creepy and I found myself continuing to question what the hell was that well after the end.

Ragged Lake, part 2 – One Mean Grip: The kid has grown up and been given keys to the little “summer cabin” to have fun with friends out in the middle of nowhere. The description reminds me of Smith Mountain Lake and that deep-rooted fear most people have that there really is something in the water.

The Crystal Egg – It’s a story about a gift that keeps…on giving. And not in a good way. This is a terribly sad story and I read it and went “What the F—” out loud. It’s also kind of creepy because it has this ominous ending, like the thing notices the main character and follows him around.

The Man in the Attic – Hey look, a babysitter tale. I’m not much of a fan of babysitter tales, but this one is a little more “is there really a person living in the attic?” than there is “the phone call is coming from inside the house.” KingSpook does a narration of it.

The Body on Main Street – A Halloween tale that, well, does what it says on the box. There’s a body in the middle of the street. It’s a neat little tale and I thought there was a narration for it, but a quick Google and Youtube search revealed nothing. I could’ve sworn CTFDN had done it.

Why I Refuse to Work Late Anymore – A computer programmer/designer winds up getting stuck working by himself on the weekend to try to finish a project for a customer. It ends up building up to a creepy story of a haunted building. Personally, I find the whole thing unnerving, but that’s because public restrooms creep me out and hallways of any kind freak me out. There is a narration on NSP to help bring up the creep factor.

Dinner by Swamplight – A guy recollects a strange series of events he had as a kid after moving to a new location due to his father’s job. Trekking off with a friend and his siblings ends up getting hurt and causing the series of events. The art is creepy as hell and NSP has a narraion for it.

Terror Haute – Guy comes back from college to find there are no jobs, only to be offered one by his parents, who own various rental properties. It’s a haunted house style story that starts with the base nightmare of moving home and slides into a strange encounter with a house. It continues to build up dread and, for me, keeps giving the expectation of turning a page to find some art that would jarr you back into reality. NSP does a narration of it.

A Game of Flashlight Tag – It is what it says: it’s a retelling of a game of flashlight tag, something I can only guess at and imagine what is like. It is the nightmare of parents, this story: a child goes missing and a child gets chased through the backyards of a neighborhood while kids are running around and having fun. The art is creepy as hell and there are quite a few narrations of the tale. CTFDN , CreepsMcPasta , KingSpook , and NSP

The Crawling House on Black Pond Road – Bugs. It’s bugs. omfg it’s bugs. The art is awesome and reminds me of Edward Gorey. There is a narration from NSP , so have fun with that one.

We don’t Talk about Sarah – This is a really sad story. A little girl talks about how much she wants a little sister and finally gets her. She spends time talking about how wonderful it was and then the one day where her little sister is no longer around. It’s a sad story that takes a moment to sink in before you realize how messed up it is. Both CreepsMcPasta  and NSP does a narration.

She Found Her Way into My Home, pt 2: Bedtime Stories – A little girl tells her parent spooky stories; classic ghost stories you’d expect from a kid who’s been read the Scary Stories series. Only, the parent learns that she never got them from a book. I think it’s the same family as the first part, but I’m not 100% sure. It makes it seem as though it’s a different family, but who knows. I could ask, but that would take away some of the fun. A quick search brings narrations for part 1 even though I could’ve sworn there was a narration for part 2.

Will-o’-Wisps – A guy is telling of an event he had when he was younger, going to visit his grandparents’ house and traipsing through the woods, only to get almost lured to his death. I hate this story. Not for the story itself, which is a really great idea, but the implied accent, which I found jarred me out of the story time and time again. Maybe it’s because I don’t need the extra implication as it reads as a kind of Appalachian accent and not just a basic “Southern twang,” or maybe it’s just how I read things. But, a hilarious line from the story is “I felt myself tippin’ head over biscuits…” because I’ve always known the line as “ass over tea kettle.” A quick search brings about no narrations, although it’d be really neat to have one and see how the narrator would work it.

Uncle Wallace’s Shack – Going to visit a far-flung uncle, who spends time standing vigil and waiting on something, only to screw everything up that the uncle had been working on. There’s a build up of intensity that levels out into hilarity. There wasn’t a narration that I had found. Looking through my notes, I had to stop at this one and try to figure out why I’d written “f—ing a vigil all to hell” before laughing and re-reading the story.

A Conclusive Demonstration – Two dorm mates become best friends, one volunteers for a very “hushhush” experiment with maybe the science department, maybe the government. The whole thing reminded me of “How to See the Future” from Season 4, Episode 1 of NSP (the story with the time-goggle things, rampant paranoia, and all). There is currently no narration, but the quick youtube search brings up various conspiracy theories.

The Babysitter – A babysitter tale that harks back to another NSP tale (“Poor Little Babysitter,” season 3, episode 1) as well as, if memory is correct, a Bentley Little story (I think it was a Bentley Little story, possibly called “Chicken.” But I have misplaced my paperback of “The Collection” so I can’t verify it). It starts off as you’d expect and then veers off a bit towards urban legend territory. There is currently no narrations of it, which sucks because we need more babysitter narrations to mess with people’s heads.

The Ashland Express – A woman catches the wrong bus because she’s too busy reading and wanting to give off a “leave me alone” vibe. It’s part how I feel on the bus, part “oh gods I’m going to miss my bus” paranoia that runs through my head on a frequent basis. There’s a mention of H. H. Holmes! Woohoo! The story reminds me of a story by Ramsey Campbell, I believe, except his story involved a train and I’m having a brain fart on the name (It’s in the same collection as “Again, Again” but I can’t find our copy of the book, so don’t hold me to it) It’s almost as though it’s a less ominous version of someone else’s story, like he read it and went “I wonder if it was a bus” and got strung along until he wrote it out. Unfortunately, there is no narration currently, but I could see it as like a Jessica McEvoy/Peter Lewis piece on NSP.

She Found Her Way into My Home, pt 3: It’s in the Blood – There’s a monster in the closet and at first, the parent thinks that it might be imagination or something that the thing from Part 2 told the kid. This story made me really glad that we removed the doors to the closet in the bedroom when we moved into the house because nope nope nope. Like part 2, there is no narration, but it’d be nice to have all 3 parts narrated and compiled together, almost like how Dr Creepen on youtube has been doing narrations for stories like the Helltown Experiments and such.

Peek-a-Boo – A family line is doomed. Doomed because there is a thing following the bloodline no matter where they go, no matter what state they move to. It’s a messed up tale and a really neat take on the “peek a boo” game people play with babies. There are no narrations.

The Room with too Many Shadows – Kid attends a birthday sleepover where the birthday boy shows off the laundry room and the extra shadow that lives there. It’s a highly enjoyable story that reminds me of something you’d find in a horror anthology easily found on the shelves of B&N or something. There is no narration, but the quick youtube search brought up a bunch of Lindsey Stirling videos.

The Pigman of Northfield – An urban legend about a creature known only as “The Pigman” with the question of is it one person, is it one thing? Does the Pigman cause a form of pig-based lycanthropy or transformation? The description made me think of a Tennant-era episode of Doctor Who and brought on the thought of the whole transformation-by-cryptid concept. The art made me think of something that I could imagine being depicted in Aparment 16 by Adam Nevill. There is a narration by KingSpook  as well as Sir Ayme.

A Room of Pitch Black – A creepy ass house with a sealed off room, strangely roped off. Yep, no thank you. It’s description is pretty much “a long hallway of doorframes.” Nope. Hallways are damn creepy. The whole thing kind of reminded me of Stephen King’s “N.” There is one narration that I was able to find by KingSpook.

An Unexpected Guest – A guy visits an old friend and winds up getting set up in the “soon-to-be” playroom for the kid as the wife’s uncle has unexpectedly come to stay with them as well. This is a story of how bad PTSD can manifest itself and the artwork reminds me of “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker” from the Scary Stories series and is narrated on NSP .

The Haunted Cave – A story about a story of a haunted cave attraction. Yeah, nope. So, this guy is driving his wife and her younger siblings out to this haunted cave that he went to when he was a teenager. As he’s taking them there, he’s telling everyone about the time he went to the cave with his buddies and how he wonders if it’s the same goofball setup as it was back then. It’s got some really well done imagery and I found myself imagining scenes from Hostel as I was reading it. There is a narration for this story on NoSleep, however it is for the Season 3 Halloween episode for SeasonPass members, and therefore I can’t link to it.

Bdellophobia – Imagine Wil Wheaton screaming “Leeches!” and you’re halfway there. As someone who spent summers growing up playing in a “leech-infested” creek, I’ve actually never seen one in real life and my knowledge of leeches comes from documentaries and science shows. I find them fascinating, but this story is horrifying and I can easily see it being used against a child to keep them out of a creek or pond. There are no narrations for this story and if you search on youtube “bdellophobia” it comes up with a “not found” page and I find this hilarious yet kind of disappointing. As someone who is used to the sound effects of NSP, no matter how wonderful or disgusting, I’m disappointed that this one hasn’t been touched yet.

Olivia – A friend talking about their now deceased friend and the anxiety she faced before she died. It’s a really sad story, but also hard-hitting for people who have been in abusive relationships even though it just barely scrapes the surface. The artwork is very reminiscent of the practical effects makeup from the Insidious films. The only narration I could find was from NSP .

The Devil Lives on Old Mill Road – A child goes against their grandparent’s wishes and meets the devil down an old dirt road. It’s like a tall tale that a friend tells at a party while sitting around having drinks and it gives a nice chill down your spine because it’s easy to imagine it to have really happened to someone. NSP does a narration for it.

The Cross by the Railroad Tracks – A boyscout hiking trip goes awry after the group stops for the night near some abandoned railroad tracks to set up camp and tell ghost stories. It’s like a twisted tale of a ghost train, but from a different perspective. It’s a wonderfully spooky tale and NSP does a narration for it.

Hunger – Simply: it’s a misunderstanding by a doctor of an eating disorder. Beyond that: it’s a twisted freaking story that I will avoid as much as I possibly can because my introduction to this story was from NSP  and, even though I don’t normally get grossed out by sounds, especially in an audio-drama format, I died a little inside with it. I walked into work listening to the story and a coworker told me I was visibly green. CTFDN also does a narration for this story  but, after it cut on from autoplay after an Otis Jiry narration, I freaked out, yelled “NOPE!” and immediately cut it off. Reading the story isn’t as traumatizing as listening to the NSP version, but it’s still pretty squicky. Don’t eat anything while you’re reading this story.

The Jack Monster – There’s a monster in the basement and the narrator’s dad didn’t do a good enough job preparing his kid for dealing with what was there. Unlike “Hunger,” NSP doesn’t do the story justice because the story itself is much more twisted than the audio adaptation of it.

The Painting of a Hallway – The narrator’s dad sends him a painting of an innocuous hallway, which kind of brings to mind an average hotel hallway. The painting slowly changes and brings more dread to the narrator. It’s kind of like that episode of Night Gallery, but instead of being campy and the butler driving his “new master” insane, it’s this uneasy mounting dread of terrible things about to come. Both NSP  and CTFDN
do a narration for this story, but I find that the written version is better than the audio version.

The Ant King – A young child is terrified of ants, the father is tired of dealing with this irrational fear and let’s the kid suffer until the kid finally winds up killing an ant, which turns out to be this huge, strangely marked ant. And then the tables are turned. Reading the description of the ant, I was reminded of a haunted house story from the Midwest I’d read as a kid where this couple had found “huge black ants” coming out of their dishwasher that were described as about the size of an average adult thumb and immediately thought of that as the size of the Ant King. The descriptions are pretty visceral read as well as listened to. NSP and CTFDN  have narrations for these, but beware the sound effects of NSP.

The Well Went Bad on the Pierson Farm – A teenager decides to take a shortcut home from work through the back part of a farm that is known for having ornery owners, which reminds me of all the farmers I’ve met who don’t like anyone just wandering on their land (and for good reason). He finds a well and something that tries to lure him down into it. It’s a great story that leaves a lot to the imagination and I found myself guessing what happens, what will happen after the story, and what happened before the story. Both NSP and CTFDN  have narrations for this story.

The Last Halloween – A kid goes trick-or-treating and ends up getting conned into pranking the little old lady down the street by his friend. Terrible things happen, which causes the story to be more trick than treat. It’s a great story that is perfectly paced with enough background information and fast-paced fear to keep you intrigued. It’s a great finish for the collection. Again, both NSP  and CTFDN  have narrations for the story.

A half-review

The other day I decided that I am going to at least attempt to finish reading the horror novel I started…two weeks ago (hey, two weeks on one book is a long time for me if it isn’t a textbook or something the size of The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort)

I can’t do it. I’m 63% through the book and…I just can’t. (I’m calling this a half-review because I didn’t finish the novel. this…turned out lengthy)

So!

The book is: The lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty.

Pretty much, it’s basically:: Small town, going under like some small towns do, have traditional…fair-folk who terrorize the outlying farms.

Sounds great, right? Well, it intrigued me enough to want to add it to the kindle. It starts off generically enough (girl “sneaks” boy into house, gets set up for a “movie night” and drama ensues) and a new chapter starts.

Each chapter is titled with a main character’s name. If you’re not familiar with the A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones), it can be kind of strange. For certain parts of the story, it makes sense: we have girl from the first chapter in a different area than the girl in the second chapter. But, while GRRM does things within those chapters (like Jaime’s inner mantra), it doesn’t make much sense for some of these. I really don’t need a handful of chapters bouncing from character to character when they’re at the same place.

Also, what gets me is that this is less than 300 pages, why do I need almost 10 “main” characters?

During this, we have things called “Haunchies.” The most description I’m able to gleam from this is that they’re magical hobbit ninjas with killer nails. Within the…27 chapters I have read, this is the best description I have. The most that I can remember of any sort of description is: they live in the woods, they’re small, and they look like living straw dolls. After one character gets captured, we learn: they eat humans, use human women for breeding purposes, and therefore share at least some of the same genetic code as us humans (because basic science teaches us about crossbreeding).

So, traditional fae, sans the whole “women are only useful for breeding” thing. The whole idea of someone writing a story about the shining ones and using the tradional “they will eat you, dummy” was really fascinating.

However

I have spent more time skipping through paragraphs of sex than should be necessary in a basic horror novel. I told Jamie that it was like reading the novelization of an 80s slasher film because it really is::

We just met, let’s have sex! Oh, the power’s out mysteriously, we should have sex right here!

Jamie’s response was: “Oh, so you mean a basic pulpy 80s horror novel.” Yep.

I don’t read horror for sex and I don’t go looking for fictional horror to read about rape. If it was one or two sex scenes, I could skip over it and keep going. But when you spend more time describing a sex scene, or even a rape scene, in more explicit detail than you bothered to use on your scenery or even basic characters, then I’m done.

I don’t need to know that some character practically gets naked so she can fuck a guy she just met that day and then uses the “opportunity” to have sex with her later as a lure to get the idiot to go out on a walk through Haunchie territory.

I don’t need to know all the details of “The Watcher” raping a girl and the constant references to how “perfect” her boobs are. I don’t need to know any details of that. There is enough of that in reality that I do not need to go into fantasy-land and read more of it.

I read horror for horror’s sake. Funny, weird, gorey, suspenseful. You can easily use your words to imply things have happened or are going to happen without using explicit detail. If I want to read something like that (consensual sex), I’ll go read Maggie Shayne or I’ll go and read me some fanfiction because I can guarantee you, it’ll be written better and I’ll know what I’m getting into instead of being sideswiped with the erotica version of a cheap summer thriller.

And then, there are some things about the setting itself that kind of bother me.

So, you’ve bought a falling-down farmhouse. Well, I assume it’s a farmhouse by the lack of description besides the house is falling apart and that used to be a corn field. You’ve bought a house that you plan on converting into a recovery center out in the middle of nowhere. Ok, I’m on track with this. It happens. People like to help others and purchase property where they can. After a while, we’re told that it’s a 2-storey house because people “chose rooms upstairs.” Uh…can I get a layout?

But you’ve set your characters up in a house where the only heat available is the fireplace and whatever blankets they can scrounge up (let’s not forget human heat, hur hur). And you’ve got them going to this house, to repair ittwo days before a snowstorm.

Why?! Why would you do this? Does it help with the ambiance? Does it help so you can rip apart one of your characters? Does it feel more terrifying when you’re inadequately prepared for such a normal phenomena that your characters conveniently forget how to do things like prepare?

And how do you get from “It’s been three years” and “This house wasn’t touched by the fire” to “this house is so run down it should be condemned”? I’m trying to figure that one out because, from personal experience with our house, it was unoccupied for 2.5 years and was built almost 90 years ago. Some of the stuff is strange, and most of the rooms stay pretty cool during summer. So how is the house in the novel so dilapidated that wind creeks and acts like it blows through the walls?

Seems kind of weird to me.

So.

The concept/idea seemed really cool and I wanted to keep reading it, but…no. Just no. I can’t do it. I don’t care if “The Watcher” gets mangled or there’s a beautiful scene of viscera. I have no empathy for these characters that the author has created. I loathe these characters.

The other night, when I was just at 60% of the story, I was rooting for the Haunchies. But now, I’ve barely gotten through another chapter, and I could care less. I tried, but I also started 5 other books after I started this one, two of which I’ve read dozens of times before.

I could try another novel by the author, but  I don’t know if I will. He’s got a handful of them and that’s pretty awesome, but I’m a bit wary. (and hell, I had more fun using alternate names for fae than I did reading what I slogged through.)

I must give up reading it

Jamie found a zip file of ghost stories because I love me some ghost stories. It was just a small handful and when we looked on Amazon, they were ones that were available for free, so my guess is the downside is that the author is not getting the hits? (I’m really not sure, sales figures are something I don’t know about).

Within the small handful of ghost stories, I ended up with this book:

True Ghost Stories, Vol. 3 by Rosemary Breen

I didn’t look up the description, because, really, why should I? If it says “True Ghost Stories,” I automatically assume it is the author’s real-life paranormal encounters of things. And hey, you’re up to volume 3, you must be a freaken lightening rod, tromp around through more areas than your average Travel/Discovery channel Halloween special, or you’re re-telling spooky stories of family members and friends along with your own. Ok, that sounds like fun.

It’s not.

These are 1 to 2 paragraphs of “I woke up in the middle of the night. There was a black shadow standing over me. I was very scared!” And variations thereof.

I told Jamie how terrible it was, but that it was so bad I was determined to attempt to finish the whole thing. I…can’t do it.

I gave up at 45%

I looked up the description and apparently it is this woman who did “The Largest Online Survey” for paranormal encounters. Yet, there are no names (I found two names, names of doctors, that were not omitted in a “story”), no notation  as to where these stories came from. The only way you know a story has changed is by a paragraph break and a bolded “title,” which is usually more descriptive than the paragraph-long “ghost story.”

Good grief. No wonder why it’s on “Volume 3.” And there’s little to no editing. I’m not saying like “this should be gone through with a fine-tooth comb,” I’m saying “did you not at least read through this to find where words don’t make sense?”

I give up.

This is not a “quick and easy” read. This is a book of Twitter updates. This is a brain-melting sludge of “are you fucking kidding me” and I can get a better description out of a grocery list than what came out of this.

I told Jamie that if I was to read “Real Life Ghost Stories! By Real Life People!” I was just going to go back onto Dave Juliano’s website (The Shadowlands) and read the thousands of submissions there. Some of them are exactly like what is in this book (e.g. I was reading a book. Someone tapped my shoulder. There was no one there!), but most of them have descriptions and some of them are downright creepy as fuck. Most of them are more than one paragraph, and there are names and it doesn’t make it seem like it’s one person “telling” a bunch of one-liners. Sure, I don’t think it’s been updated in a while, but there are thousands of stories on here and they’re pretty fascinating.

I guess if you read poorly described books or read books whose descriptions start out as “My name is ____ and blahblahblah,” then I guess this is a golden book. But if you read classic ghost stories (or even read about things like The Brown Lady, anything that happens at Eastern State Penn., the Tulip Staircase, etc), antiquarian horror, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Charles L Grant, MR James, or even if you’re just a casual fan of Poe, stay away from this unless you just really want to laugh awkwardly at it.

argh

I’m a bit frustrated about work, so I am going to write a bit.

I read Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and, well, I fucking hated it. It took me forever to read, which was weird since it was the same length (according to my kindle) as Troll Bridge and The Sea and Little Fishes by Sir Pterry. I blew through the Pterry books fairly quickly, but this book took me forever and I had to keep stopping and going to something else before I could continue.

I tried to read it as though I were reading a journal or blogpost, but all I could think of was: Wow, I could easily blow through the Toasterverse  by Sci or Tiny Spy Assassin Steve by Sam easier than I could slog through this. (The TSAS series is something that I’m not interested in at all as well, so there’s that. and I love me some Toasterverse along with the DJ stories). I tried to read it as though I were reading a short story by an author I was unfamiliar with, which is what I was doing. I’ve never read any Capote stories and it’s been so long since I’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s is that all I can remember is: Sunglasses.

The story, in itself, is of a writer who has a whirlwind friendhip with a “Woman About Town,” who turns out to be, well, a trollop and got conned into sending coded messages from a prison inmate to their lawyer while she went on her visits to him. So, basically, she’s a fucking weirdo who ran away from home, is an escort, and is an idiot who inadvertantly works for the mob sending messages via verbal code. How is it that this isn’t more intriguing?

I spent 85-90% of the book hating it, but telling myself that maybe it’ll get interesting and so I’d continue to slog through it. I kind of regret reading it, because I could’ve spent it reading something else (like David Morrell for instance). But, I kind of don’t because now I can complain about how much I hated it. I still don’t see how this was a “great peice of work” that spawned a film.

I’m not going to say “Oh, I bet I could find way more interesting books that would’ve been great films from the year this was published” because I know me and I am a lazy bastard. I’m sure I could find something fascinating to read from that year, but it’s not something I feel the urge to go and look for. I’ll meander through books as I go along. But I am definitely not planning on reading anymore Capote after this.

The other day, HBO released a 40-second clip to steer us towards a reminder that April is Coming. I watched it, I squeed with delight, and I shared a link to it on my fb feed.

Later that afternoon, I got, what I felt, was a slightly pompous response of how it was “nothing new,” and that “we all saw that in the last episode anyway.”

No. Not all of us saw the last episode. Jamie and I have not watched the last three or four episodes of Season Five of GoT because, well, Jamie’s a purist and doesn’t want to be ruined by stuff that David and Dan know and we don’t. (I’ve managed to convince Jamie to have a GoT marathon on Christmas so at least then I can watch the last few episodes). Jamie and I are both excited for Season 6 and Winds of Winter, but Jamie’s kind of standoffish. He’s really afraid that watching something that hasn’t shown up yet in the books will ruin his relationship with the books. I can see it, but we agreed when we started watching that we would watch it together and, well, I really want to watch the Walk of Shame.

So, I responded…pretty shittily. This person is an Unsullied (a fan who has seen the show, but not read the books) but not so much of an Unsullied fan as to go on websites like westeros.org or winter-is-coming to look up information or find out things. They’re a casual version of Unsullied. Like, if no one went out and told them when the new season came out, they wouldn’t notice.

I went off on tangent about how Jamie and I have read the books, we’re not Unsullied. We know that there are peices within Season 5, and the upcoming Season 6, are going to show things that were not in the books because GRRM told David and Dan about the gist of the whole thing. I told them about how we knew about this and that, this character and that character. I named off a couple of characters this person has never even heard of because I am a smug bastard and how can you not know who Lady Stoneheart is?

They responded with something benign like “omg I didn’t know those things!” Well, no shit.

I told Jamie about it and he, for the fourth time in like two months, reminded me that I just need to unfriend this person on my fb page because they make me want to smack them upside the head.

I downloaded a book yesterday because I forgot we have Kindle Unlimited. I booted off some paleo book that Jamie had found (he likes looking for new recipes. We have a 500-page cookbook that we made. it’s pretty awesome). I had seen an ad on my fb feed near something and it mentioned this trilogy that was an interesting take on Alice in Wonderland.

It’s called The Insanity Series because apparently it’s a series, not a trilogy. But you can get the trilogy omnibus for free if you’ve got kindle unlimited.

I started the first book, Mad in Wonderland, this morning on my way to work and I should’ve known. The first bits of it say Christ Church, and I immediately thought of Christchurch, which is in New Zealand, and I was all what the fuck. Then the damn thing mentioned ruining an “original copy” of Alice in Wonderland.

It’s Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland is the Disney film. This made me feel kind of stabby. I texted Jamie that I was starting to hate the book and I was only 2% in. Then I continued, thinking maybe it’ll get a little better, and the author has shoved in all these weird little bits that reference the original Adventures and Through the Looking-Glass. (e.g: “…and a writing desk the colour of ravens.” it might not be the direct line, but it’s close enough. I highlighted it and made a note of “ha. ha.” because by this time the references were pretty grating)

I told Jamie that I hated the book. The book made me all stabby and I wondered if Charles Dodgson was rolling in his grave. Jamie reiterated that I should stop reading and I did, when I realized that Neil Gaiman was right: if you were at a party with these characters, would you want to be around them or would you be in the kitchen hoping they’d eventually go away? (sic) I realized that no, I would not want to be at a party with these characters. In fact, I’d be loudly proclaiming that I was either leaving or that the party was over and everyone needed to get the fuck out of my house.

So I started Trigger Warning and got super excited when I realized that Click-Clack the Rattlebag is in here. It’s a wonderfully spooky story.

Where to put you?

I’ve been meaning to work on book and film reviews lately, but I’m lazy. There are a few more…important things to work with, like dogs, cleaning, and filling out applications. Hell, who am I kidding? I simply haven’t felt like it.

Last I checked, I had about 10 to 15 film reviews to do and then I’d be more or less caught up. This does not include Kung Fu Panda because it’s been well over a year since I sat down to watch it and the most I could do for a review right now would be “dude that was cool!” And I had written down about 20 titles of books to review, including the names of the anthologies I wanted to work on writing about.

When I do reviews, I do attempt to write a brief synopsis of the film, book, or story (if it’s an anthology) and then give my opinion. I’ve noticed that if I enjoy a book, I find it’s either one paragraph or two and I go off about how awesome it is. But if I do not like the book or film in question, I go off on a written rampage that spans…quite a ways. Then again, I’ve noticed that if I write the review right after finishing the film or book, it’s more comprehensive.

I have yet to start the review for Game of Thrones by George R R Martin (I’m on Clash of Kings) and I have yet to work on a review for Creepers by David Morrell that is longer than “that shit is fucking awesome” or “squee!”

The reviews are mainly for my own reference. I started with the film reviews (which is probably why it’s currently at 599 reviews) to help remind us what films we saw were terrible and which ones were pretty awesome. Since these are for my own sheer amusement, the reviews have run-on sentences and a smattering of cuss words. And eventually I realized I should work on book reviews so I can remind myself which books to happily avoid.

So, I’ve been going back and forth on where exactly to put these. I could leave these on my rinky-dink Angelfire site (what can I say? I’m a creature of habit) or I could work on just putting them up randomly on the blog. But would I copy-n-paste what I’ve already gotten up or just work on new reviews and post them on the blog? Would I put the review on both the blog and my little rinky-dink site?

I’m really not sure what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll figure something out when I’ve got a few new reviews to post up somewhere.

A pumpkin for Tina

I found out yesterday morning that today is Tina’s birthday. Jamie wanted to make her the little brownie-cake thing like we had  made Robert for his birthday and I offered to make little pumpkin as well. I set to work on the brownie and, well, it didn’t turn out as great as I had hoped. For some reason the recipe called for more sugar than it needed, so the brownies themselves kind of broke apart while I was pulling them out of the tins. Then, in my attempt to fix it, I made this horrible mess of fondant-like peanut butter and partially carmelized peanut butter icing that turned out like peanut butter flavored Pixi Stix (now there’s a disturbing image)

I ran out of butter and powdered sugar (damn). After everything was said and done, we ended up cheating and getting a box mix, which turned out much better than my previous attempt.

I made a little Halloweeny pumpkin (with a face this time! splee) for Tina and Jamie took the brownie cake to work and texted me a little while ago to let me know that Tina enjoyed the brownie-cake and really liked the little pumpkin.

They’re pretty fun to make. I brought up the idea of making a little Frankenstein Monster and Jamie liked the idea. I may try to make a couple more with faces, just to see different things to do with them.

I’m finally working on book reviews. I’m a bit amused that the book reviews are a lot like my film reviews. If it really irks me, I just write a lot about it. I ended up writing a large bit on a book I found I really do not like at all. But I still have no idea how I’m going to write a comprehensive review for “Creepers” besides “dude this is so awesome!” (and yes, the photo with the pumpkin does show a bit of my RL Stine collection. They’re fun books)