Kate Mosse

All posts tagged Kate Mosse

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Two

Published April 15, 2017 by bibliobeth

I’ve read some terrific stories in Part One of my Short Stories Challenge for 2017 so far! However stand out stories have to be The Raft by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew and The Butcher Of Meena Creek by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears. Here’s to finding some more great short stories and authors in Part Two!

The Reader by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

The Birds by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Birds And Other Stories

The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe

Gallowberries by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories

Thorn In My Side by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

The Drowned Village by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Alice Through The Plastic Sheet by Robert Shearman from the collection A Book Of Horrors

The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Fruits by Steve Mosby from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Stations Of The Cross by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Short Stories Challenge – Red Letter Day by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Published October 10, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s Red Letter Day all about?:

Red Letter Day tells the story of a grief-stricken mother who decides to go on a special journey to try and find peace.

What did I think?:

There are a few things I am really enjoying about this short story collection by Kate Mosse. The first one is the author notes she pops in after each story which lets the reader know what inspired her to write it, where the idea for the story first came from and why she chose to set it where she did. Occasionally I do like my stories to have a bit of mystique and decide things about it for myself but for some reason with this collection, the author notes really work and didn’t spoil the magic by any means.

Red Letter Day is quite a sad little tale, focusing on a grieving young mother who lost her young son three years ago when he was a baby and has never recovered from the tragedy, despite the usual cliches she is being subjected to by well-meaning friends i.e. “time is a great healer.” She feels a great connection to a village near the Pyrenees in France which has a horrific history that involved a lot of violence and bloodshed in medieval times. The decision for her is an easy one. She resolves to go to the castle where many years ago, hundreds of men and women walked into a fire rather than renounce their faith. After considering it for a while, and coming upon the knowledge that she had an ancestor there at that particular time, she is certain that this is the only way she will find peace. I think we can perhaps guess what she is planning to do?

I quite enjoyed this story for the most part and although I felt terribly sorry for our lead female character, I didn’t feel like I connected with her as much as I would have liked. Perhaps finding out more of her back story would have helped but I felt a strange detachment to her and what she was planning to do. What about her family – parents, husband/partner, friends? Were they even a factor in her deciding to take this path? I did however love the historical fiction part of the story and it reminded me very much of the author’s novels Labyrinth and Citadel, told with as much passion and knowledge as I have come to expect from the writings of Kate Mosse. She is also a wonder at setting a scene and although this story isn’t super-creepy in any way, there is something vastly unsettling and tragic about it, especially when you consider the subject matter and I certainly wanted to know what was going to happen at the end, even if it was slightly predictable.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Getting It Wrong by Ramsey Campbell from the collection A Book Of Horrors

 

 

Short Stories Challenge 2016 – April to June

Published April 1, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Welcome to another three months in my Short Stories Challenge! The first few months of this year have whizzed by and I’ve found some great pieces of short fiction to add to my collection. Here’s the stories that will take me right through to the summer:

Week beginning 4th April

Elephants In Captivity (Part One) by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

Week beginning 11th April

Space by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Week beginning 18th April

If It Keeps On Raining by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 25th April

The Lordly Ones by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 2nd May

Tiger Moth by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 9th May

The Shadow Tree by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories

Week beginning 16th May

The Unremarkable Heart by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 23rd May

Red Letter Day by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Week beginning 30th May

Getting It Wrong by Ramsey Campbell from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 6th June

The Haunter Of The Dark by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 13th June

Hogmanay Homicide by Edward Marston from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 20th June

What We Save by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 27th June

A Convalescent Ego by Richard Yates from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Short Stories Challenge – Duet by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Published February 26, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s Duet all about?:

In the second story in this collection, Kate Mosse draws the reader into what appears to be a conversation between two men about some suspicious goings-on in a rented building in the 1960’s.

What did I think?:

There are a couple of things that I love about this short story collection so far. First, a lovely black and white photo/illustration which captures the setting is provided at the beginning of each tale – for Duet it appears to be a dark set of cellar stairs with some objects lying haphazardly at the bottom which lead away from a door which is itself slightly ajar. It is entitled Pinewalk Heights, Bournemouth, October 1965 and sets the mood beautifully before we even start reading. Secondly, the author provides a little note at the end of each story which describes her reasoning and inspiration behind writing the narrative. Unfortunately, I can’t talk too much about this particular author note as it would immediately give away all the story’s secrets and I believe some magic has to be found by reading this specific story yourself!

It did take me a bit longer than usual to get into the swing of things with Duet but once I realised what the author had been doing, (luckily I didn’t see it coming until the end, I love to be surprised) I was pleasantly stunned and admired both the writing style and the build-up of tension that was present from the beginning right through to the end. As the reader, we are witnessing a conversation between two men, one of them appearing to be the superior or the “questioner,” who is trying to get some information from a previous tenant of a boarding house owned by a Mrs Nash. From the very first line, I decided that something decidedly unsavoury had been going on – “It was the smell,” is a bit of a giveaway and he appears to be a very shifty character that is definitely withholding some vital information.

Our questioner is being both gentle and at times, harsh with the man he is quizzing. They appear to have had this conversation or “duet,” as he calls it a few times now and each time he attempts to extract more and more information so he can solve what turns out to be quite a grisly little mystery. So, the landlady of a building, Mrs Nash has been quite concerned as one of her other tenants (known only to us as Turner) has upped and left without warning. She has removed his effects to a cardboard box and placed it out in the hall and she wants our shifty man’s help to remove the box from the hall into the cellar. He seems to be a bit reluctant to help out with this task though – wonder why?

The techniques that the questioner uses vary throughout the tale depending on whether he has previously heard the information or not. At times, he sympathises with the man by repeating his words and imitating his movements. Then he might shake things up a bit by changing the tone of his voice or surprising him with a question he hasn’t asked previously. Clearly, his impatience is waning and he wants to get to the bottom of what went on with the landlady, the former tenant Turner and this curious smell… which might be coming from the disappearing tenant Turner’s personal effects – it smells quite sweet, like oranges. Just when there appears to be a break-through however, the two are interrupted and the reader is brought crashing down to earth with a shocking revelation.

I loved the way in which Kate Mosse used a conversation between two quite odd characters which slowly dribbled out small details about a mystery/crime to immediately attract my attention and piqued my curiosity as to what on earth was going on. The build-up is done very well and I certainly was not expecting the ending. Once you understand what has happened, the clues are left quite cleverly within the narrative if you decide to go back for a re-read, like I did. I was surprised not only with the ending but how much I enjoyed the story as a whole and as a work of short fiction, it does exactly what it should to hook you at the start and keep you reading until the end.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer by John Ajvide Lindqvist from the collection A Book Of Horrors

 

Short Stories Challenge 2016 – January to March

Published January 9, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://quotes.lifehack.org/quote/ali-smith/short-stories-consume-you-faster-theyre-connected/

Hooray for a new year and more short stories! This is what I’ll be reading for the first three months of 2016.

Week beginning 4th January 2016

Duet by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Week beginning 11th January 2016

The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer by John Ajvide Lindqvist from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 18th January 2016

Dreams In The Witch-House by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 25th January 2016

Enough Of This Shit Already by Tony Black from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 1st February 2016

Stars Of Motown Shining Bright by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 8th February 2016

Charm For A Friend With A Lump by Helen Simpson from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 15th February 2016

Paranoid: A Chant by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 22nd February 2016

Still Life by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

Week beginning 29th February 2016

Notes From The House Spirits by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 7th March 2016

How I Finally Lost My Heart by Doris Lessing from the collection The Story: Love, Loss And The Lives Of Women

Week beginning 14th March 2016

The Graveless Doll Of Eric Mutis by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 21st March 2016

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 28th March 2016

Choke Collar: Positron, Episode Two by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

Fifty Shades Of Feminism – Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes and Susie Orbach (Editors)

Published October 7, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The antidote to the idea that being a woman is all about submitting to desire. There are many more shades than that and here are fifty women to explore them.

Fifty years after the publication of The Feminine Mystique, have women really exchanged purity and maternity to become desiring machines inspired only by variations of sex, shopping and masochism – all coloured a brilliant neuro-pink?

In this volume, fifty women young and old – writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers – reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today.

Contributors include: Tahmima Anam, Joan Bakewell, Bidisha, Lydia Cacho, Nina Power, Shami Chakrabarti, Lennie Goodings, Linda Grant, Natalie Haynes, Siri Hustvedt, Jude Kelly, Kathy Lette, Kate Mosse, Bee Rowlatt, Elif Shafak, Ahdaf Soueif, Shirley Thompson, Natasha Walter, Jeanette Winterson – alongside the three editors.

What did I think?:

I attended a meeting recently in London for The Fawcett Society which campaigns for equal rights for women in the UK on issues such as pay, pensions, poverty, justice and politics. The meeting featured talks by popular authors Kate Mosse and Lisa Appignanesi, both of whom were truly inspirational and we had an opportunity to buy their books afterwards over drinks and nibbles, obviously an opportunity I jumped at! Fifty Shades of Feminism appealed to me immediately as it features short essays from fifty women all from different cultures, religions and professions on what feminism means to them personally.

Generally speaking, the book was fantastic although certain essays spoke more to me than others, but they were all interesting and it was fascinating to read all their points of view. It was only after I finished the book that I realised that feminism and equality for women is still such a real issue today obviously enough for some developing countries where religion and culture may be an issue, but certainly still today in Western society. Equality is STILL a huge problem in certain industries, some of which may be a surprise like in the literary world, but others like law and politics perhaps less so and where women are sorely under-represented.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a bit of a myth or stereotype about feminism in that we are all butch, angry man-haters. Yes, there will always be extremes of the scale but this book proves the stereotype completely wrong. There’s something for everyone in this book and it ranges in emotion from melancholy and serious to very humorous. Jeanette Winterson writes a very funny piece on the porn industry for example which had me chuckling and shaking my head in disbelief at the same time. Jane Czyzselska, the editor of Diva magazine wrote a wonderful piece about the stigma she receives for being a heterosexual-looking lesbian which proves that prejudice is rife even within the gay community. I was a bit shocked by this particular article and perhaps a bit naïve as I did not think that this sector (who are often subject to gross mistreatment themselves) would be so discriminatory.

Other favourites included Sandi Toksvig’s essay which explored the reasons why women continue to wear high heels that cause them pain and rip their feet to shreds and the final entry written by Alice Stride who won a competition to write a short piece for the book. She wrote a short rant about how she convinced her younger sister not to shave off all of her pubic hair just to make it more appealing to men. It was hilarious, poignant and very, very honest and I challenge anyone to read it on public transport while maintaining a straight face. I failed miserably of course!

This is a book I will definitely be keeping and it’s the sort of book that you can just dip in and out of at your own leisure. It was only after I had finished it that I realised that equality for women is still a contentious issue and we need to carry on fighting for the female sex not only here, but round the world so that we are no longer seen as “the second” and inferior sex. My only slight niggle is that I would have loved to see a few opinions from men for comparison and because I realise there are some wonderful male feminists out there who support the cause. Apart from that, it’s a brilliant read that I would recommend to anyone interested in the topic and for all young girls everywhere as a must read.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

The Taxidermist’s Daughter – Kate Mosse

Published September 23, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The clock strikes twelve. Beneath the wind and the remorseless tolling of the bell, no one can hear the scream…

1912. A Sussex churchyard. Villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will not survive the coming year are thought to walk. And in the shadows, a woman lies dead.

As the flood waters rise, Connie Gifford is marooned in a decaying house with her increasingly tormented father. He drinks to escape the past, but an accident has robbed her of her most significant childhood memories. Until the disturbance at the church awakens fragments of those vanished years…

What did I think?:

This novel is the first book on Richard and Judy’s Autumn Reads 2015 here in the UK and, as always, I like to challenge myself to read the whole list. I’m quite familiar with the author Kate Mosse as I’ve read her first novel Labyrinth and I am featuring her short story collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales on my Short Stories Challenge so I thought I knew what kind of novel I was going to be in for. However, The Taxidermist’s Daughter seems to be a bit of a side-step for the author into the world of Gothic superstition and thriller and I found myself pleasantly surprised.

The novel is set in the sleepy seaside village of Fishbourne in the early twentieth century, a place which the author knows well and which came across beautifully in her descriptive and evocative prose. Our main character is a young woman called Connie Gifford and when we first meet her life is not being incredibly kind. She lives with her father in a large house but is quite isolated from the rest of the village and perhaps this is best as over the past few years her father has taken to drink and she often finds herself having to care for him in more ways then she should. He used to run a popular museum that housed his avian taxidermy pieces but unfortunately the business floundered and he sank down into a pit of depression. Connie manages to keep some of their business going by creating the pieces herself, a job which she enjoys but she is finding herself deeply concerned about her father with each passing day as he seems to be hiding something from her. Factor this in with a terrible accident that Connie suffered when she was a young girl that has caused her to have complete amnesia of her life before the injury and that she still suffers “petit mal” incidents where she loses herself for an unstated period of time and we start to have the bones of a very juicy little mystery.

The plot thickens when the body of an unknown woman is washed up close to Connie’s home. As if this wasn’t enough to give you a serious case of the shivers, it turns out that the crime is related to another crime that happened many years ago and which Connie’s father may or may not be involved in. Well, at least that explains his strange behaviour! As the village is rocked by one of the worst storms in history, Connie desperately tries to put together the pieces of this puzzle that coincides with her injury and subsequent amnesia to bring whoever is responsible to justice. Armed with a new friend, Harry, whose father is missing and also thought to be a part of this incident years ago, it is a tense and exciting struggle to unravel the mystery before anyone else goes missing or is hurt – a dangerous and very real possibility.

This novel is as exciting and mysterious as it sounds. I loved the character of Connie, an independent and intelligent young woman who is more than capable of dealing with her problems rather than collapsing in a heap of misery to await the arrival of a prince. I found the taxidermy parts absolutely fascinating and thought it was a lovely touch by the author to put a quote from “Taxidermy: or, the art of collecting, preparing, and mounting objects of natural history,” by Mrs R. Lee at certain points through the novel:

“We then unite the skin by sewing it as we have said before, separating the feathers at each stitch: we furnish the orbits with chopped cotton, which we introduce with small forceps, rounding the eyelids well, we then place the eyes, introducing them under the eyelids, and when a part of the nictating membrane appears below, we mush push it in with the point of the needle; that the eye may remain in place.”

The author increases the tension even further by including several short and eerie pieces by the perp who believe me, is not somebody you want to get on the wrong side of! In fact, I have little negative to say about this novel apart from the fact that I found all the male characters to be inter-changeable and at times, because of this, I struggled to place who a particular character was in relation to their back story. Apart from this, The Taxidermist’s Daughter was a really interesting and fun read that I raced through in order to find out just what on earth was going on! Let me know if you enjoyed it too.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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