WWW Wednesdays! 7 Oct 2020 #wwwwednesdays

Welcome to WWW Wednesday!

Hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three W’s are:
📖 What are currently reading?
📖 What have you finished reading?
📖 What will you read next?

I’m currently reading and REALLY enjoying Hag : Forgotten Folktales Retold. It’s a compilation of traditional folk tales by some cracking women writers like Daisy Johnson, Kirsty Logan and Irenosen Okijie. It’s part of my spooky season October reads.

Staying with spooky reads, I finished reading Famished by Anna Vaught. A dark collection of short stories with food and feasting as the main theme. It’s on my best of 2020 shelf on Goodreads and has pride of place next to my (slowly growing) Shirley Jackson collection. You can read my 5 star review HERE.

Next in line, is creepy horror collection Diabolica Britannica: A Dark Isles Horror Compendium by a variety of horror authors including Sarah Budd, Morgan K Tanner and Tim Lebbon. It’s introduction is written by horror legend Ramsey Campbell and I can’t wait to get stuck in! All proceeds from the purchase of this ebook go to Covid-19 research here in the UK, so it was a no-brainer to buy this for Halloween!

So there we have it! As you can see, I’m very much into short story collections at the moment. I like how I can get the satisfaction of a whole story without committing too much time to each one.

💀 🎃 👻 🎃 💀 🎃 👻 🎃 💀 🎃 👻

Famished by Anna Vaught ~ A Recipe Blogpost Review

‘In this dark and toothsome collection, Anna Vaught enters a strange world of apocryphal feasts and disturbing banquets.’

INGREDIENTS

  • 25g of dried madness
  • 300ml of warmed passion, diced erratically
  • A generous cupful of foul thoughts (check the back of your pantry)
  • 400g of delicious words
  • 1 or 2 tsps of mixed emotions
  • 50g of old musty dictionary pages (‘W,T or F pages are probably most suitable)
  • For the glaze: A wash of quiet darkness

METHOD

Preparation is recommended on an empty stomach.

Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl. Do this in a careful manner, creating a revolting soup-like consistency that can easily travel through ones veins.

Next, gently combine the dry ingredients together into an old urn or suchlike. There’s bound to be one lurking on the mantelpiece somewhere. Stir with a gnarled and boney finger until it resembles an odd, dusty, cement-like mixture.

Mix both wet and dry ingredients together and divide into 17 unequal portions. You are now ready to create your worst food nightmares.

‘…the tripe blinked at her and writhed in its nasty pool of white sauce…’

HOW DOES IT TASTE?

Comparable to a Cindy Lauper album, Famished has got to be the most magical, colourful, intelligent, bonkers, grotesque mix of stories I’ve ever had the (dis)pleasure to read. For reasons unknown, it just reminded me of how fascinated I am by Cindy Lauper in that you can’t help but find it entertaining, albeit very weirdly so.

Anna Vaught is a novelist, poet, essayist, reviewer and editor. She is also a secondary English teacher, and that shows spectacularly throughout the entire book. I spent a great deal of time looking up so many words in the dictionary, I felt like I was back in school. (Would I get an A* Ms Vaught, if you’re reading this?!)

Famished was a learning curve, a strange experience, a delight.

‘Will you gently suck, or will you shovel up with the liquorice, drunk on the acid-carbonate reaction with your own saliva?’

Famished was also heartfelt, relatable and revolting. Did it whet my appetite? It certainly did. But it didn’t make me hungry. Did it ruin my dinner? No! Funnily enough, it took me back to dinner times at home with my parents in the 80’s. Tinned mandarin segments with condensed milk for pudding was supposed to be a treat!

I must have quite a strong stomach because out of all the darn right disgusting things in this book, there was only one thing that really turned me over.

These four words – ‘…sea-foam milky tea…’ 🤢

I’ve only really started reading short story collections in the last couple of years, so I’ve got quite a list to get through. Many classics and a few contemporary, but I don’t think I’ll come across anything quite like Famished again.

Although…and I’m saying this with great relish; there’s hints of SHIRLEY JACKSON in Vaughts writing. YES, that’s what I said. I’ve compared a modern author to JACKSON, the QUEEN OF MACABRE.

Famished is staying on my forever shelf, and Ms Vaughts’ vulgar little tales are living beside Shirley Jackson. They can be like ‘two sisters, secreted in the deeper recesses of darkness…’

Famished is going on my Best of 2020 Goodreads shelf

Bunny by Mona Awad

‘We call them Bunnies because that is what they call each other. Seriously. Bunny.’

I’m a bit all over the place with this book. I’d call it a ‘yo-yo read’. It’s sickly sweet, ugly pretty, cutely foul and oddly addictive. I was up and down throughout, with awkward ‘do I even like this’ moments. On numerous occasions I was indeed loving it in all its twisted hilarity.

Samantha Heather Mackey is an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at Warren University. In fact, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort – a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other ‘Bunny’.

But then the Bunnies issue her with an invitation and Samantha finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door, across the threshold, and down their rabbit hole.

Bunny was an unusual choice for me as it’s got Young Adult/Fantasy genre written all over it – not my usual choice. But this book feels like it not only blends genres, but bends them too. Into very uncomfortable positions.

⤴️You can treat yourself to this Bunny Zone sign for your wall/garden/bedroom/dustbin area by clicking on the sign!

It’s as funny as hell in places and has a fair few horrific scenes. On Goodreads someone described it as ‘one of the most demented books I’ve ever read’. I dig a bit of weirdness in my books, so my FOMO got the better of me!

I’m a member of The Ladies of Horror Fiction Group on Goodreads and there was a choice of books for September to vote for. Bunny won, so I thought, oh why not, let’s do it! I’m glad I did, but I’m still not sure I even liked it much!

I’m in the UK and the story is American, so I found certain things that I didn’t connect with. The education system in the USA is something I know nothing about. Also certain pop culture went over my head, so perhaps things were a bit lost on me.

The quirky characters were cracking, the humour was dark and dry, it was shockingly funny on countless occasions. It was written in such a way that is felt ‘chatty’ and flowed from page to brain* very easily.

*whilst mashing it up repeatedly.

The Sunday Independent quotes it as ‘Mean Girls with added menace’ and I completely agree.

At three quarters through I felt it was just playing with me. My feelings went from ‘this is weird’ to this is ‘REALLY effing weird’. Then ‘it’s so hilarious but still weird.’ Then ‘uh-oh, I’m getting a bit bored of the repetitive bits in the middle here.’ And the final part was just ‘whaaat??? – I’m not sure I even ‘get it!’

Talk about rollercoaster! It’s like nothing I’ve read before ever. But I think I liked it.

Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it? I would, yes. But it’s definitely not for everyone. Maybe it would sit better with an American reader, and certainly would be more appreciated by someone twenty years younger than myself.

Apparently the rights are sold to AMC for a possible TV-film adaptation. I think it would be better on screen, I’d watch it, but only because I’ve read it.

It comes across as a weird, fantastical teen/YA story, with elements of horror that is cleverly put together. I enjoyed the characters and their strange behaviours, the writing was extremely good but overall I’d say it is an above average ‘Bunny Tail’ deserving of 3/5 bunnies.

I’ll leave you with a couple of lines which made me pull a right dodgy face;

‘A pause so pregnant it delivers, consumes its own spawn, then grows big with child again.’

‘She looks at us all in her probing, intensely gynaecological way.’

Urgh! That’s just ‘orrible!!

ONE STAR – A short story by The Behrg

Well, I’ve been DESPERATE for an excuse to have my say about the dreaded ‘One Star Reviews’ that get the online book communities knickers in a right old twist, and nows my chance!

I’ll start by saying, I do love it when my opinion of a book is unpopular. I also seem to get a lot of pleasure bashing out reviews for books I didn’t like, or thought were pretty crappy.

I’ve got to that age where I enjoy having a good moan, things annoy me more these days, (peri-menopausal 😬) and I’ll quite happily verbally fight my corner. (Don’t get me started on litter droppers, unruly children and bad parenting).

So, Behrgs’ book, what can I say? Firstly, I had to read it twice because it was one of those books. It was also very short, only 17 pages. But, OH MY DAYS, what a clever bloke you are Mr Behrg!

I’m not going to give anything away on the synopsis, you can get the lowdown over on Goodreads. What I will say though is this;

If you’re a book blogger, reviewer, dark horror fan who doesn’t get too triggered by stuff, ‘ave a gander at this one.

To say this is a unique story is an UNDERSTATEMENT. I’ve never read anything like it. It is the most relevant read a book blogger will ever come across. I’ll tell you that now. It was a clever, thought provoking head mash which I awarded four stars.

When I finished it, I had to have a very large gin. And then I had to have another very large gin after the first large gin. Honestly. Thank god for gin.

I’m now going to take this opportunity to share some of my reviews of books that I thought were pretty awful. I had a BLAST scribbling down at frenzied rate what I thought of them.

Two deserved two stars (at a push) and the other was, yep, a ONE STAR THIS BOOK IS CRUD I SHALL *USE IT PURELY TO PROP UP MY WONKY SIDE TABLE AND SNORT AT THE SATISFACTION I GOT WRITING THE REVIEW FOR THE LITTLE BASTARD. (*I didn’t actually do this with it because, for starters it was an ARC ebook, so in effect, I’d of have to of used my kindle. And I also do not have a wonky side table, soooo, yeah, anyway).

I do love a bit of feedback about my low star reviews on Goodreads. Some positive, and those joyous negative ones too. Those in particular do fill me with glee.

Click on the pictures to see my (scathing?!) blog posts.

Murder at the Mill by M B Shaw ⭐️⭐️

Goodreads comments:

-“This made me laugh out loud….”

-“I agree with you about this book. I will not read another one by this author.”

-“Hilarious.”

Doll House by John Hunt ⭐️⭐️

Goodreads comments:

-“Ouch!”

-“…I’m waiting to see what you write, maybe you can get it done better.” (Snarky remark, love it 😆)

Psycho Analysis by V R Stone ⭐️

No readers comments on this one, but maybe I’ll get some now I’ve highlighted how much I disliked this book.

So I’ve turned The Behrgs’ review into a post pretty much all about me and my reading preferences. This absolutely was supposed to happen and I’m not sorry in any way. Here’s a bit more about him, I know I’m intrigued by it all, aren’t you?!

This is how the author sees himself:

‘So who (or what) exactly is “The Behrg?”

While “Behrg” is a childhood nickname and the name by which my parents, siblings, and closest friends call me, it’s also my creative identity and the moniker through which my written works can be found. It’s a way for me to share an intimate part of who I am rather than just hiding behind a pen name.

So embrace the parts of you that are different and unique, that no one else can replicate, and share them with the world. Even if it means your first name becomes “The.”

Stay weird. Embrace the strange. And remember you can only find the light after wading through the dark.’

I’ll finish by saying that I’m excited to read more from this author. I’m a big fan of horror, not usually short stories, but I’ve subscribed to The Behrg and have received three more FREE shorts which I look forward to reading. He has an unusual voice in horror, and it’s definitely caught my attention.

*Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this short story.*

Find out more about The Behrg here:

https://www.thebehrg.com/

 

 

 

 

 

My Books Smell Funny…

Every day I’m coming across Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell, whether it’s on Goodreads or Twitter or here on WordPress. I don’t actually own it at the moment, but I will be getting it soon. Very soon. (Update: I now own it. And LOVE it!)

I absolutely love the horror genre, particularly stuff from the late 70’s and early 80’s, and seeing so many posts about vintage horror books had me causing utter chaos amongst my bookshelves.

The disarray was well worth it though, because this is what I wanted to share:

IMG_2379

Isn’t it just a sight to behold?

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s ALL by James Herbert. (Apart from the ones ABOUT Mr Herbert!) And what I noticed when I was organising the books is that my Magic Cottage is missing! (Not my REAL magic cottage, you understand, just the book. To misplace my real magic cottage would be very careless. And impossible, as I don’t have one.) I’ve loaned it to somebody and I can’t remember who. I’m mortified, so I’ll have to replace it, but I want the same edition as before, naturally. Anyway, now I’ve come to terms with the fact I’ve lost track of one of my FAVOURITE books and have mopped up my tears, lets discuss the smell.

If only I had a scratch and sniff option on my blog! (Although if I saw someone scratching my beloveds, I wouldn’t be best pleased, so I guess it’s a blessing really.) Some of these beauties have been sat on my bookshelves for over 30 years. They’re yellowing and dotted with mould. Some pages are falling out, the spines are ripped, but they’re loved. They have that smell that I struggle to describe, nothing I can think of can compare. It’s not a ‘oooh let’s get a Glade Plug-in like that’ smell, it’s more of a WONDERFULLY GRUBBY AROMA that oozes the stench of my first horror adventures.

Oh how I love you my fabulous fousty friends!

keep-calm-and-smell-books

So, from fousty friends, to bookish friends. Fancy sharing some smelly old reads that are close to your heart and catnip for your nose? I’d love to see more photos, especially if any are by (IMO) The Master of Macabre himself.

James-Herbert1

In memory of James Herbert OBE 1943 – 2013.

I’ll finish on a lighter note, James’ dad was called Herbert. Yep, he was Mr Herbert Herbert, what crazy parents he must of had! Or just lazy!😂