October 21, 2014

Nightmare at 20000 Feet by Richard Matheson: Review

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Nightmareat20000Feet

Well, that was disturbing.

Back in October 2008, I read I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, a novella that really impressed me. Now in October 2014, I’m revisiting Matheson through the audiobook collection Nightmare at 20000 Feet.

Stephen King warns in the introduction of this collection that “he will wring you dry” and he certainly did. At the end of many of these stories, I was left with an eerie sense of unease. He has a cynical eye for the human race. What are the worst things we are capable of? What does madness do to a person? Can you trust your family, your neighbours, your own sanity? 

Nightmare at 20000 Feet is the classic Twilight Zone episode featuring the only man on a plane who sees a gremlin on the wing. It’s been remade many times. Even Bart Simpson had an encounter with the gremlin. The short story is much more scary than the television episode. We learn more about the man’s state of mind. He’s nervous, he’s taken drugs, he’s suicidal (he has a gun ON THE PLANE! Something unimaginable now.) Is he a reliable narrator? Is the gremlin real or a figment of his sick mind?

BartandGremlin

A couple of my other favorites were

Disappearing Act. A one night stand begins a chain of events leading to the literal disappearance of a man. He starts to freak out after trying to get into contact with the woman he slept with only to find she doesn’t exist. Then other parts of his life start disappearing, including his wife and home.

Legion of Plotters. A little too close to home. A man begins to suspect the little annoyances he endures throughout the day are part of a plot to destroy his sanity. It doesn’t end well.

Dance of the Dead. The future, 1997, is a place ravaged by war but young people are still seeking a good time. One thrilling entertainment is watching the Dance of the Dead performed by LUPs. You’ll find out what they are. 1997 sure sounds a lot like the 1950s though.

The Distributor. I can’t call it a favorite because it left me feeling terrible but it is compelling. A man moves into a quiet neighbourhood and slowly begins to destroy the lives of the people on the street. It ends in murder and suicide. I was most disturbed by the cold, calculated way he goes about it for no apparent reason.

The stories reveal a lot about attitudes towards race and gender during the time period. The women are harpies, victims of violence, or sexual predators. Slaughter House features sexytimes with a ghost! The men are driven crazy for it. One of the neighbours in The Distributor are afraid of being outted as black, whether they are or not.

There are ghosts, monsters, vampires, zombies, all your typical Halloween creatures, but not so typical.The writing is creeps up on you. The mundane details add up to the macabre. It’s a slow process that raises the hair on the back of your neck. If you want to be freaked out, read Nightmare at 20000 Feet.

About the Audio: No Stephen King does not read his own intro. Damn. There are several narrators for the collection, although only one woman, Julia Campbell. Yuri Rasovsky’s oddly cheese-grater-like voice was one of the ones that creeped me out the most. I couldn’t listen to him vocalize a child’s voice in Dress of White Silk. I had to skip that one.

October 20, 2014

Evil Book Bloggers: Everything You Heard Is TRUE!

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First things first, just like Canadians, all book bloggers know one another (Shout out to all the Bobs in Saskatchewan!).

gilly

We are all part of a Super Secret Society and have monthly meetings.

creeper

A virgin is sacrificed. Virgins are so hard to get these days. It’s a hardship.

fay-wray-king-kong-1933

We dance around a Fire of Vengeance and burn the books of our enemies. Sometimes there are marshmallows!

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Through a complex ritual, we decide the fate of authors. Who will be destroyed? Who will be revered?

nancy the craft

I’m not saying book bloggers eat babies but…

alison doesn't want to know


In case you didn’t get it, this is a (hopefully) humorous response to some authors’ ideas about what book bloggers do. Like we sit around plotting the demise of writers and books because we hate them so much. Or we’re all drunk with some imagined power, a power we do not actually have.

big time blogger

But really we’re just sitting here like…

stolenbooks

Well, maybe not the stealing part though.

Shock-tober: Good Lady Ducayne

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good lady ducayne

I actually paid cash money for this audiobook ($1.95 on iTunes).

Spoilers, but really there are no surprises here.

Bella (another Bella in a vampire story!) Rolleston is just poor girl, she needs your sympathy. She’s looking for a job as a companion to help her Mama pay the rent. Her only option is to pay an employment agency to find her some work. Although the Superior Person at the office takes her money, she informs Miss Rolleston that finding her a job will be near impossible since she has no skills. Bella, ever optimistic, hoofs it to the agency every week in hopes that someone will give her a job.

Being at the right place at the right time pays off, when she happens to be at the agency upon the arrival of Good Lady Ducayne. The old lady takes on Bella immediately, despite her lack of accomplishments. Like an employment ad on Kijiji, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. Bella fails to see the red flags. Old Lady Ducayne wants to take her to Italy (red flag). She asks the following, “Have you good health? Are you strong and active, able to eat well, sleep well, walk well, able to enjoy all that there is good in life?” (Red Flag). She needs a healthy girl because all her other companions became too ill and had to leave her employment (RED FLAG).

In Italy, everything is fine until Bella starts feeling tired. She’s having strange dreams and has mysterious cuts on her arms. Lady Ducayne’s Italian doctor tells her those are mosquito bites. Yeah, that’s it, mosquito bites. What kind of crazy-ass Italian mosquitos leave bites that look like cuts? Bella buys this hook, line, and sinker. I began to question this girl’s intelligence. She’s like that girl in Mean Girls with the psychic boobs.

fifth sense

Oh and then she learns that no one knows how old Lady Ducayne is. She could be over a hundred. And by the way, all her former companions didn’t just get sick: THEY DIED. (RED FLAG!!!!! GET OUT NOW, GIRL!!!!)

Bella doesn’t get on the first coach to Splitsville because the money is good and Mama doesn’t have to knit mantles or whatever it is she does anymore. Plus, Lady Ducayne is sooooo easy to work for!

Eventually, Bella is rescued by a young English doctor because, surprise, Lady Ducayne has been syphoning off Bella’s plasma to keep her alive.

This isn’t a very scary story, really. Lady Ducayne doesn’t turn into a bat or a wolf or anything. She’s just using questionable scientific methods to stay alive indefinitely. The deaths of all those girls was just collateral damage. It’s a trope of the sensation novel that the Italian doctor, or count, or French maid is totally evil. Obviously Bella hasn’t been reading Wilkie Collins or she’d know this. Poor, stupid Bella needs a man to get her out of this one because she is too dumb to realize she’s in trouble. No one ever tells her what was really going on. 

Even though I found Bella too stupid to live, I did love that she didn’t just sit around waiting for her luck to change. She went out and tried to take charge of her own destiny. I had to admire her for that. It was a short one too so I didn’t have to put up with her for long.

About the Audio: Good Lady Ducayne by Mary Elizabeth Braddon was narrated by Anne Rosenfeld and she did an excellent job. It was very entertaining and over the top. This audiobook is just over an hour.

ripnineperilshort

October 18, 2014

Start Me Up: Readathon (Update)

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Scroll down for update

I’m awake. It’s time to get the readathon started. I’ll be posting and updating throughout the day. Here’s a small pile of books I’ll be reading. I also have to go to the library so I might get more there or download some graphic novels.

readathon books 2

So

  • The Stratford Murders by Agatha Christie
  • The Last Policemen by Ben Winters
  • Pirates! by Celia Rose
  • Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Snacks

  • Chocolate cupcakes
  • Veggie Tray
  • Hummus and chips
  • Lays BBQ chips

 

Meme #1:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Nova Scotia, Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Last Policemen
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Chocolate cupcakes!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I like to run, I do it a couple of times a week, but I do not enjoy races and rarely participate in any.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I might take a little walk this time (weather permitting) to clear the cobwebs.

That’s it for now. I think I’ll start with The Last Policeman. I’ll start after I’ve been caffeinated.


Oh, hello! It’s Hour 13. I know, right! Where have I been?

I’ve been reading, The Last Policeman specifically. I also took a break to go to the library for books (How to Tell If Your Cat Is Trying to Kill You by The Oatmeal and The Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger: graphic books) and the liquor store for beverages.

cider

It’s been a good day.

Hour 12 Challenge

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? I think I’m moving onto the Oatmeal book.
2. How many books have you read so far? Just the one, Readathonerinos!
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Definitely the Oatmeal one. I need some humour.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Just a few. Once I had to fix a sewing machine, but that’s about it.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Not many surprises. I keep getting distracted by Twitter though.

Well, I think I need another snack. The husband is watching the hockey game (Canader!) so I think I’ll play a little music, eat some chips, and read my books.

October 17, 2014

Readathon Crasher: Readathon Oct 2014

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I hemmed and hawed but when I saw all the excitement about the 24 Hour Readathon happening on Twitter, I finally decided to join in. I’m super late, a party crasher, really, but I couldn’t resist. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy anyway, the perfect weather for reading.

wedding crashers

So I threw my name on the reader list. I’m not expecting to be visited by anyone though I always love visitors. I’m just going to do my thing and check out Twitter too. Did you know that there are literally almost 1000 people signed up for the Readathon? I remember when we had just 50!

I’ll post my reading list, if I make one, tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

nrelate