Archive for the Books Category

Book of the Week: Strangely Enough by C. B. Colby / Happy Halloween

Posted in Books, Media with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2019 by ranranami

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First of all, happy Halloween! Second, the book of the week is once more brought to you by nostalgia. One of my fondest memories as a kid was going to places like Goodwill or huge library book sales where you could pay 5-10 bucks for a large brown bag to fill with books to your heart’s content. This was one of many finds I had that was decommissioned after a long and honorable service (1959 actually). With most of the stories being fairly easy to read, generally no more than 2-3 pages, it’s such a great book to burn through and read to kids. Not to mention, it’s not so morbid or dark that you’d have to deal with too many nightmares afterwards.

Book of the Week: Who’s Been Sleeping in my Grave? (Ghosts of Fear Street #2) by R. L. Stine

Posted in Books, Media with tags , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2019 by ranranami

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Fueled by fond library memories of my childhood perusing the shelves and grabbing the most intensely-shaded books with the brightest titles, I was thinking about the Ghosts of Fear Street series this morning. I read all of R. L. Stine’s stuff throughout my childhood, stopping with a Nightmare Room book before I finally felt I’d outgrown his stuff. Goosebumps, Fear Street, Ghosts of Fear Street – – I loved them all. Why? Because they were mostly kids books that rarely had a happy ending, and it just felt scarier that way.

Some day I might revisit all of his books, though it’d be a monumental task. Whether they’re easy 1-day reads or not, there are a lot of them. However, this one was one of my favorites. A kid has a creepy substitute teacher who has a particular fondness for him. Nostalgia is the main operator here, because I don’t remember much. Except the chills that ran down my spine whenever the substitute teacher was described, and when her true identity was revealed in all it’s – – gory. (Get it? Gory? Glory?)

Book of the Week: The Mask (comic book series) by John Arcudie and Doug Mahnkie

Posted in Books, Comics, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2019 by ranranami

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I’ve been wanting to talk about this one for awhile. I’m sure most of you reading probably grew up knowing the movie just as well as I did, and may have even watched the 90s cartoon. Wasn’t the 90s a great time for cartoon spin-offs? Killer Tomatoes was probably my favorite…

None of those spin-offs, and not even the movie were even remotely close to just how dark the comics they were based on turned out to be when I finally read it. The Mask doesn’t just imbue a person with cartoonish super powers and strip them of their inhibitions, it strips them of their sanity altogether as the ultimate cost. This series is just as wonderfully violent as Evil Ernie, with ample gore to satisfy the grimmest comic fans. Prior to the film and cartoons, the mask was called ‘Big Head’. Stanley is no hero. The Mask is more of a monkey’s paw than a gift, or maybe even a Jekyll and Hyde potion. It’s a fantastic series, and I can’t recommend it enough. Especially if you enjoy having your childhood memories shredded.

Book of the Week: Yurei Attack! The Japanese Ghost Survival Guide

Posted in Books, Media with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2019 by ranranami

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You probably knew this was coming on some level. Maddy goes to Japan for 2 weeks, we’re either going to have to put up with a slideshow of pictures she took, a bunch of stories about the food she ate, or something that we really don’t care about. Well, you were wrong! I actually picked up several books on the trip, and I’d like to recommend a couple. Yes–all of them were about monsters, ghosts, or demons.

Japanese mythology is probably one that I’ve always sort of been lacking in. Not because I’m not interested, but because there’s just so many different types of creatures in them. From old clothes and furniture to the embodiment of a really good or really bad feeling, everything seems to be able to become some kind of monster. Ghost movies always seem to follow the same thread, where some angry lady has long hair that gets everywhere, and regardless of a person’s guilt in her death she is going to haunt the crap out of them. Well, I discovered through this awesome book that isn’t just a film trope. It’s part of their actual belief in ghosts, which is wildly different from our own. I can’t recommend this enough if you really want to explore anything and everything about Japanese ghosts.

Vintage Magazine: Famous Monsters of Filmland, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Cover-Pg. 13)

Posted in Books, Comics, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2019 by ranranami

This month I bring you something a little different. Instead of vintage comics, I’d like to visit a vintage magazine, ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland’. This series ran from 1958-1983. This is the father of horror magazines, which inspired all sorts (including my personal favorite, Fangoria). Originally conceived as a one-off, the first issue was so popular that they had an unexpected 25 year run! In fact, the first issue had to have a second printing because it sold out so fast.

What this magazine did that was so special, is that it reminded audiences (especially of the younger variety at the time) of the horror icons who had come and gone before, the silent greats like Lon Chaney Sr. This is a gem of archiving in general, because it preserves stills and stories that would otherwise have been lost forever if someone hadn’t come along to show why they were so wonderful. The history of this magazine is so rich, I can’t just describe it in a few select paragraphs, and I encourage you to explore it for yourselves. In the meantime, here’s the first part of the first issue which I will be sharing this October.

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Short Story Recommendations

Posted in Books, Media with tags , , , , , , on October 3, 2019 by ranranami

So a couple of these might have been mentioned in previous posts, but I really can’t stress enough how great they are. Today I’d like to give you guys a few recommendations for some simple, fun short stories to pass the haunting hours this month. Attached will be pictures of the books I’ve found them in for easy reference. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

W. S. by L. P. Hartley

Though that may be a mouthful of single letters, this short story was what inspired today’s post. I think all of us who read, or who have grown up reading, are victims of our own need to buy more books even when we’ve got a shelf or two of the ones we still haven’t managed to get around to. ’11 Great Horror Stories’ was one of the many, because I was familiar with more than half of the works in it (The Dunwich Horror, The Judge’s House, The Shed, etc.) W.S. however, seems to be the ancestor of a very familiar trope (one especially popular with Stephen King) of a writer having a mental battle with one of his own creations. Sadly, this story was published posthumously, and I can only hope it wasn’t autobiographical.

Fish Night by Joe R. Lansdale

Did you honestly think you’d get through an entry of mine about short stories without at least one Lansdale story sneaking in here? Fish Night is one of his more peculiar (though they’ve all sort of got that title) works about the phantoms of long dead sea creatures float about in the desert that used to be the ocean they lived in. It’s such an interesting concept, I couldn’t pass it up.

Drink My Blood by Richard Matheson

Throughout middle school, junior high, and high school – – this story was my white whale. I had read about it once in a small encyclopedia entry, and was obsessed with finding it. Now I may not be ancient, but it was a lot harder in the early to mid-2000s to find out of print books unless you dealt with certain vendors or were old enough to have a card and drop some cash online (which I was not). So when I finally stumbled on this book at a garage sale several years ago, and at long last got to read the story by Richard Matheson about a young boy obsessed with becoming a vampire, it was the best feeling in the world. Yes, it didn’t live up to the hype, but I still highly recommend this story (if you can find it. It’ll be a lot easier now than it was then…)

Sabrina by Don Wulffson

This one is not so much terrifying as a little upsetting (especially if you’re an adult). A young boy falls in love with a beautiful performer, and things work out in the most twisted way possible thanks to a few nasty adults. For those of you who have somehow read this, I’m sure you’ll understand why I had to keep it vague for that bizarre little twist.

A Grave Misunderstanding by Leon Garfield

There’s no deep message behind this one, nothing beyond the whole ‘man’s best friend’ concept wherein a dog keeps his master safe from a pretty ghost–and, well, a pretty living woman too. It’s worth a read for the humor and the oddly poetic nature of a dog’s point of view.

Book of the Week: Goosebumps 25th Anniversary Collection by R. L. Stine

Posted in Books, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2018 by ranranami

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Goosebumps is close to my heart. Funny how you can read a book that you love so much, even reading another copy with a different cover just doesn’t seem like an option. Don’t get me wrong, the redesigns are cute, and it sort of revives the series in a way for a younger generation. Yet I love the old art here. It’s very 90s, and very much a slice of my childhood.

I’ve always love reading, but when I was 6, learning to actively put a sentence together was hard. I’ll save you the whole story of how it suddenly ‘clicked’ one day, and I could read just about anything. Suffice it to say, the first year I could go to that Scholastics book fair with money in hand and the knowledge that I could read whatever I bought without any help was magical. So I got a VHS of The Haunted Mask (which I still have), and a goosebumps book with a pumpkin book light. I’m not going to lie, the book light was what sold it. I think I bought Welcome to Dead House. It was ’97, and Goosebumps was the series that all the kids were reading. The show had just launched, too, and I remember rushing home every day to watch it. There’s not usually a huge scare in the Goosebumps books. Most of them have ambiguously an happy ending (yes, the day is saved…but you’re a monster, or that sponge is going to wreak havoc when it gets wet again, or your dad might be one of the hundreds of plants in the front yard.) The next dark step up from Goosebumps was Ghosts of Fear Street, and then Fear Street when you were really ready for something ‘darker and more mature’. Something for the teenagers.

My point is that I got this collection as a gift, it’s amazing, and I’m pretty sure it could all be easily read in the course of a day by anyone of any age, and still feel just as magical as it did to me that day at the book fair when I bought my first Goosebumps.