Rolling Gravestones ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Rolling Gravestones
Series: ———-
Author: Alfred Hitchcock (Editor)
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction
Pages: 179
Words: 69K


From the Inside Cover


The only grass that Alfred Hitchcock gets high on is the kind that grows in the cemetery, and the only acid that blows his mind is the sort that can be thrown in someone’s face. Diabolical death is Alfie’s special kick, and he wants you to enjoy it, too. For that purpose, he’s harvested a brand new crop of terror tales, and served them up to you with grisly relish. Here is the master’s personal choice of fifteen spine-chilling spellbinders.

Introduction by Alfred Hitchcock


      Stephen Marlowe


      Jonathan Craig


      Robert Colby


      Edward Hoch


      Helen Nielsen


      Jack Ritchie


      Rog Phillips


      John Lutz


      H. A. DeRosso


      Ed Lacy


      Henry Slesar


      Charles Einstein


      Michael Brett


      Mary Linn Roby


      Richard Deming

My Thoughts:

This was just a very weird read. Not in a Twilight Zone, throw you a curveball kind of weird, but a plain old fashioned weird that actually kind of creeped me out. Some stories DID have a twist but enough didn’t that it kept me on my toes. I must say that psychologically speaking, Alfie played me like a bassoon.

Two of these stories stood out to me above the rest.

The first, A Place to Visit, dealt with a Straight Arrow dying, going to hell and partying it up with naked chicks and having the time of his life. The devil tells him that unfortunately, Straight Arrow has been too good and so he’s going to be sent up to Heaven, with all the clouds and harps. It’s also where his wife is planning on going, so Straight Arrow will be with her. Oh the horror! BUT! The devil tells him that the devil can make a deal with him. The devil will revive Straight Arrow for five minutes and all he has to do is kill his wife, so she’ll go to heaven and Straight Arrow will go to hell and back to partying with naked supermodels. Straight Arrow takes the deal and the story ends with rather predictable results. I have to admit that I laughed my head off when Straight Arrow learns the truth and has the floor literally pulled out from under him, plunging him into the burning stygian pits of hell. Despite the rather “questionable” theology, it was a really good story. Now I’ve ruined it for everyone else but come on, who couldn’t see that ending? No deal with the devil ever turns out good.

The second, Sorry, Right Number fit my misanthropic self like a glove. It was about two couples, one older and one younger, that have to share a party line for their telephone. If you don’t know what a party line is, go google it. It will build character. Well, the old lady is always hollering at the younger couple whenever they try to use the phone to the point where they’ve learned to pick up the receiver without making any noise. The younger husband does this one day and over hears the older husband making plans to murder his wife because of reasons. The younger husband shares the info with his wife and they debate what they should do. The younger husband finally decides that they need to call the police. When he picks up the line the old wife is on the telephone and chews him out for “listening” to her conversation. So he hangs up and lets nature takes it course. How great is that?!?!?

While those two were the highlights, none of the others were duds. Alfie chose well with these set of stories and I enjoyed them. The main reason I gave this only 3 stars is that the book as a whole didn’t pop for me and I don’t ever plan on re-reading this. A great filler and something different, but not something grand or great.

On a side note (I was going to say tangential, but there’s nothing tangent about it), there’s a certain blogger who usually asks if that is him on the cover, or me, or some such thing. I’ve decided to take a pre-emptive approach this time. Dix, you are the gravestone and I am the motorcycle. Alfie is of course Alfie. With that out of the way, I can now cogitate the important things, like why Ken is always arraying himself against mortals like Sir Otsy. No fear of me ever running out of things to learn.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 128
Words: 35K


A collection of short stories consisting of:





My Thoughts:

Man, Lewis could write some really WEIRD stuff. As peculiar as it may sound, a demon proposing a toast and going off about the general blandness of evil in the world was the most normal of these stories. The Man Born Blind almost reminded me of a Roald Dahl story with it’s twisted ending.

I am glad I read these and I think the points Lewis was trying to get across WERE conveyed but man, I just didn’t expect that level of weirdness from him.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

An Odd Conversation

Mrs B related the following story to me that she was reading:

Main Character is learning to fly a plane. He learns. Then Side Character says he wants to learn and Main Character puts on a space suit. They end up in space while flying the plane. Side Character teaches Main Character how to survive without breathing and they give the spacesuit to the flight instructor. They promptly crash into the space station, where the flight instructor and an American astronaut get mixed up and the astronaut flies back to Earth with Main Character and Side Character. End of related story.

I was going off about how that made NO SENSE whatsoever and Mrs B says something like “magic” and I replied “yes, stupid writer treating physics and ballistics like magic”. She then says “No, literally magic. Side Character is a magician.”  I end the conversation with “Well, as odd as it sounds, THAT actually makes way more sense.”

Ever have those really weird conversations?


bookstooge (Custom)

Fool’s Run ★★★★☆

foolsrun (custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Fool’s Run
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 221
Format: Digital Edition



Seven years ago Terra Viridian turned a laser array on her own location at a military base in the desert, killing 1500 people. Afterwards, she was found alive and babbling about the dark and visions. She was sentenced to life in the Underworld, a high security, solitary confinement prison on the moon.

Aaron Fisher’s pregnant wife was just about to get out of the military seven years ago. She was one of the victim’s of Terra. Aaron has been working on hunting down Terra’s twin sister Michele to find out from her why Terra suddenly snapped and destroyed Aaron’s world. So far, Aaron has had no luck.

Aaron is friends with Sidney Halleck, the owner of a bar where musicians play. One of these musicians, Roger Restak, known as The Magician, has the disturbing ability to get lost in his music and to ignore literally everything around him while playing. He and Aaron have become unlikely friends. A world weary cop and a genius musician.

A Dr. Fiore wants to study Terra and her “visions” that she has continued to talk about. He brings up a new machine to the Underworld that can visualize what Terra is thinking. What he finds is baffling and incomprehensible. He asks the Warden of the Underworld, Jason Klyos if he can bring up a band to see how music affects Terra. He hopes that by understanding how her visuals change in regards to the music that he can begin unraveling what the images of her “visions” means.

Sidney is contacted and puts The Magician up for nomination. The Magician assembles a band, only to find out that his “cuber” not only can’t stand heights, but can’t travel off the ground without becoming deathly ill. The Magician is at a loss until a former friend, the Queen of Hearts comes back into his life and she volunteers. Aaron and the Queen of Hearts strike it off immediately. Even though Aaron knows she is going to the Underworld and then a tour of the solar system, he opens his heart to her.

The Band makes it to the Underworld, where The Magician meets Terra and while everyone else is looking at the machine where her “visions” come out, The Magician is given a glimpse directly into her mind. This somehow transfers the vision to him. It is also revealed that the Queen of Hearts is Michele Viridian, Terra’s twin sister. The Warden calls up Aaron, as he’s suspicious of everything going on.

Terra breaks loose and with help from The Magician, flees the Underworld. The Magician takes his own band hostage, locks down the Underworld and begins seeing visions himself. Aaron and the Warden give chase in the only available ship, only to find that Terra has hidden away and has a laser rifle trained on them. They are in contact with the Magician and he must convince them that he and Terra are not crazy. It turns out that both The Magician and Terra were psychic and picking up the emanations of an alien being born. It is born and Terra dies. The Warden pulls his weight and convinces everyone that The Magician was not a criminal terrorist intent on breaking Terra free. The band goes free, Aaron lets go of his hate and hooks up with The Queen of Hearts.

The book ends with The Magician telling both Aaron and Sidney that the alien is now here and watching them.


My Thoughts:

This has got to be the weirdest book I’ve ever read. When I read it in ’07 I was pretty mesmerized by the use of poetic language that McKillip is so good with, but this time, I was just weirded out the entire time. If my time had been a Smallville episode, Allison Mack would definitely have this on her Wall of Weird.

I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 because every time that The Magician would start to explain what was going on, either Aaron Fisher or Jason Klyos the Warden would interrupt him with exclamations of usually disbelief or anger at the subject, ie, aliens. It was super frustrating to read. Magician was trying to put into words something that he had no words for and these 2 idiots just kept making it harder and harder. Thankfully, they finally did shut up and things moved forward.

My initial reaction when I finished this was to simply read it again to make sure I had read what I thought I had read. If I could have written this review and use the word “weird” and nothing but that, I think that would capture the essence.

Quite enjoyable for the trippy experience but unless you’re a hardcore McKillip fan, I wouldn’t recommend this.



bookstooge (Custom)