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.
‘In this dark and toothsome collection, Anna Vaught enters a strange world of apocryphal feasts and disturbing banquets.’
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
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.
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.
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…’
‘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.
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.’
‘In one of my periodicals, there’s a paper by someone who’s worked out that what we know of the universe is only a tiny percentage of what actually exists. He says what’s left can’t be seen or detected, but it’s there; he calls it dark matter‘.
London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.
But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.
And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…
Loaded with tension and atmosphere, Dark Matter is my idea of the perfect ghost story. I could of easily read it in one sitting, I was gripped from the very start.
The writing was at a gentle pace, methodical, magical, terrifying. I was transfixed. In the first hundred pages not a lot had actually happened, but that didn’t matter to me in the slightest. The feelings of isolation and suspense traveled up through my fingers with the turn of each page, cold yet clammy because I was there, with Jack.
The relationships between the characters were bold and often amusing, their personalities deep, emotional, with subtle hints of their own darkness and fears.
Jacks relationship with Isaak, one of the eight Huskies who accompanied them on the expedition, developed into something really very heartwarming.
This is the first book I’ve read by Paver, but it definitely won’t be my last. Horror and the Paranormal is one of my go-to genres, so I’ve read a LOT of spooky reads. But this, by far, was of a higher quality, superior to most I’ve read before.
So today I’ve decided to take a trip down Book Memory Lane. You know what us oldies are like for reminiscing about days gone by, all nostalgic, when times were better…
As you’ve probably all experienced in your own lives, us book lovers simply run out of shelf space. Unless of course you’re one of those lucky sods with a massive spare room/library to house every single book you’ve ever owned. (No bitterness or jealousy at all there.)
I’ve done many a charity shop donation with books I just didn’t have room for. Okay, admittedly, some I was glad to see the back of, but most were ‘I doubt I’d re-read, but I still like yous’. I have been known to *ahem* buy them again if seen for a bargainsomewhere though.
In superb technicolour, here are the actual editions I have loved and lost.
[Click on the covers to find out more!]
And there we have it. A mixed bag of books from my past that I would love to have back on my bookshelves. Did any of these ring any bells? If you were a child/teen of the 80’s, I’m sure some of these covers will take you back!
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend folks!