Short stories

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Book Tag – Shelfie By Shelfie #2

Published November 12, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

For my very first Shelfie by Shelfie please see my post HERE.

Anyway – on with the tag, here is the second shelf of my first bookshelf:

Back Shelf

Front Shelf

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

There’s kind of a theme going on here. Erm…kind of! The back shelf is mainly crime fiction with a mixture of authors including Thomas Harris, Chelsea Cain, Karen Rose, Cormac McCarthy, Belinda Bauer and a small collection of books by one of my favourite British crime authors, Mark Billingham that I really need to get back to reading! The front of the shelf has a few recent acquisitions like Sugar Money by Jane Harris and The Bright Edge Of The World by Eowyn Ivey which I’m reading very shortly. There’s also my collection of Roald Dahl short stories which all have the most stunning covers. (More on that later!).

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

After much deliberation, I think I’m going to tell you about 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino. My boyfriend and I had recently moved into our new flat in Surrey, finally getting away from the chaos of London. It was nearly Christmas time (our first Christmas in the new flat), I was feeling so much more relaxed and happy and I had recently started getting a book subscription box called Book And A Brew which I highly recommend by the way! Then my second box arrived with this book in it and a wonderful black tea called Baby, It’s Cold Outside by The Teashed, perfect for Christmas with cardamom, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and ginger. I still haven’t read the book (yet!) but it brings back a lovely memory.

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Ugh. I hate my own question. Okay, I think it would have to be The Busker by Liam Murray Bell. I quite like the look of it but it’s probably the book on this shelf that I’m least excited about out of all of them.

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

This however is a very easy one! It would have to be my Roald Dahl collection of short stories. There were originally only four out and then recently, Penguin brought another four out so obviously I had to have them. The titles of the collections are Deception, Lust, Trickery, Innocence, War, Fear, Cruelty and Madness, the cover art by Charming Baker is completely gorgeous and I just wanted to show you some of my favourites.

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

That would be The Beach by Alex Garland. Can you believe I still haven’t got around to this book?!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

Sugar Money by Jane Harris. I’m a huge fan of her previous novels, The Observations and Gillespie And I and am eagerly anticipating this one.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

The Bright Edge Of The World by Eowyn Ivey. I absolutely adored her debut novel, The Snow Child and have been a bit scared about reading this as I’ve got such high expectations. It WILL happen, and soon!

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

I have my five year Jane-A-Day diary on this shelf purchased from Waterstones a few years ago. I try to use it to keep track of all the blog tours/reviews I’ve promised to write for a certain time but sadly, don’t make as much use of it as I should. It has a quotation from a Jane Austen novel for each day of the year and I love that it’s five years as well – it’s lasting me so long!

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

I think it shows that l like my crime fiction (or anything else slightly disturbing) and that I’m a sucker for interesting covers.

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

Anyone who wants to do this, please feel free, I’d be delighted but please tag me in your post so I can see your shelfie in all its glory. This time round I’m going to choose a question for myself:

Is there a book on this shelf that you’re more intrigued to pick up? Perhaps you’ve forgotten it’s there?

For sure this would be The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer. I had actually forgotten this was on my shelf (it’s so difficult when books are hiding at the back and you can’t see them every day!). I read The Shut Eye by her quite recently and really enjoyed it so keep meaning to pick up some more of her work.

 

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #3

 

 

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Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Published November 9, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Moons Of Jupiter all about?:

The Moons Of Jupiter follows our protagonist Janet as she visits her father in hospital and comes to terms with the probability of losing him.

What did I think?:

I’m fairly familiar with Alice Munro’s work having read and enjoyed her short story collection, Too Much Happiness a few years ago. However, I often find that a book of short stories by one author has peaks and troughs and there always seem to be some stories that you favour whilst others seem to lack that extra something. It’s perfectly obvious (even to the non-analytical short story reader like myself) that Alice Munro is a talented author and a master of her craft and The Moons Of Jupiter is quite a clever little tale with multiple hidden meanings all revolving around the importance of family and how we re-analyse our own close relationships during times of crisis.

In this short story, our narrator is Janet and she is visiting her father in Toronto General Hospital after he has been told he has a very serious heart condition. The surgeons are willing to operate but make it quite clear to them both that his life expectancy is very much reduced. As well as (or maybe because of) all of this, Janet begins to look deeper into the relationships with her own children, Nichola and Judith which haven’t been plain sailing for one reason or another. After a trip to the planetarium and a heart-to-heart with her father before his operation, Janet begins to put things into perspective and feel grateful for the small moments in life and the love she has for her family.

If you haven’t read any Alice Munro before and you’re looking for something that is quite fast-paced beware, this probably isn’t for you. However, if you enjoy the intricacy of family relationships then this is an enjoyable little read. Personally, I have mixed feelings. I love the sentiment expressed in the story and the writing is obviously that of an author at the top of her game but….(and this is probably going to come out all wrong!), I appreciate a short story that I can get my teeth into, that plays on my mind and I have to think about, and with The Moons Of Jupiter it felt like I had to think too hard to discover what the author was trying to say. I fully admit that after finishing I had to google the story just to make sure I had got the right end of the stick and I had, thank goodness but for a little while, I felt a little bit stupid. I don’t tend to like stories where I have to analyse too much and with this one, it almost felt a little too clever for me and I hate feeling that way! On reflection though, when I had confirmed what the story was trying to say, it did make me look at it in a more positive light and I appreciated all the nuances the author used.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts

Published November 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s Best New Horror all about?:

Best New Horror follows the editor of a horror magazine as he tries to track down the author of a short story he has recently read and loved so that he can publish it in the next edition of his magazine.

What did I think?:

I’m familiar with Joe Hill for three reasons, the first two being the most important – his wonderful novels Heart-Shaped Box and Horns. Thirdly, only three words are necessary – Stephen King’s Son. If you’re a die-hard King fan like I am, surely you’re going to be curious about his son’s writing? I was but put off reading him for so long as I specifically didn’t want to compare him directly to his old man and wanted to enjoy him as a brilliant author in his own right. What better way to enjoy some more Joe Hill than to pop his short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts into my Short Stories Challenge when a slot opened up?

So, after the five star rating that I’ve given his previous two novels, I have to admit my expectations were sky high. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed by the first story, Best New Horror although it didn’t initially clamour for my attention like his novels have done. Our main protagonist, Eddie Carroll receives a letter in the post one day from a friend with a short story that he simply has to read, the suggestion being that he could publish it in the next issue of his magazine, Best New Horror. Eddie sits down to read the short story by Peter Kilrue, entitled “Buttonboy,” and although the subject matter is distressing, disturbing and beyond disgusting he can’t help but be entranced by what the author has to say. He is determined to publish the story but wants to contact the author first so sets off on a journey to track him down, becoming embroiled in a horrific situation that encompasses what “Best New Horror,” might actually mean.

This story felt quite different to other pieces of short fiction I’ve enjoyed in the past. For one thing, it’s a story within a story which felt quite unique and exciting. The author actually transcribes the “Buttonboy” story for us as Eddie reads it so we can find out as a reader exactly what makes it such a traumatic but interesting reading experience. It’s every bit as awful as Eddie’s friend has suggested it is, I found the use of buttons especially gruesome and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, but it is how Joe Hill manages the story afterwards that is the most fascinating part. En route to find and connect with Peter, Eddie ends up in a horror story of his very own and it almost feels like one of those classic horror films where your inner self is screaming to the person on screen: “Don’t go in there! Don’t do that! Get away!” and I loved the eerie sentiment that the author brought to the situation and the characters. It’s not a story for everyone, the “Buttonboy” story might offend a few people if you’re sensitive to the horror genre but I think it was quite a fun look at horror turned on its head and what we classically find frightening in the genre.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Five

Published November 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://www.creativindie.com/how-to-make-money-by-publishing-and-selling-short-stories-and-short-books-on-amazon/

Hello everyone and welcome to the fifth part of my Short Stories Challenge in 2017. My fourth part was quite like the third, up and down. I had a huge disappointment with a short story by Daphne du Maurier which was Monte Verità but I also got some lovely surprises in the form of The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse and The Man In The Ditch by Lisa Tuttle. Here’s what I’ll be reading in the next few months:

Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Unplugged by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Wisht by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Man From Mars by Margaret Atwood from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

Seeing Double by Sara Maitland from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

Freaks: A Rizzoli & Isles Short Story by Tess Gerritsen (stand-alone).

High House by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – A Place For Violence by Kevin Wignall from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Published October 28, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s A Place For Violence all about?:

A Place For Violence follows our male protagonist on an apparent holiday in Bali but the reasons why he is there are a lot deeper than we are first led to believe.

What did I think?:

The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime has been a really interesting reading experience as part of my Short Stories Challenge. Generally, I love a collection that hosts so many different authors, many of whom I had never heard of before and it has been fascinating sampling the variety of their writing styles. Of course, as with most collections that involve such an array of authors there are going to be some stories you don’t get on as well with but so far, I’ve always looked forward to the next story in the collection. Kevin Wignall was another author that I hadn’t come across previously and it was a pleasure to experience his work for the first time. The only problem with talking about this story, A Place For Violence is that I really can’t say too much about it as to do that would give far too much away!

What can I say? Our protagonist, Dan Borowski is on a break in Bali but from the very beginning of the story, the reader senses that he might either have a big secret he isn’t telling us or that he is on the holiday for reasons other than rest and relaxation. He comes into contact with a young man called Luke Williams who is wheelchair bound following a horrific accident where he was hit by a car driven by an erratic and selfish man that has never been charged for his offence. Dan and Luke also come into contact with another resident of the hotel that they are staying in, Brian Tully – a despicable bully of a man on holiday with his cowed wife and two children and determined to make as much fuss and as much of a nuisance of himself as possible.

A Place For Violence is shorter than your average short story and it isn’t long before things kick off, tempers ignite, justice is served and revenge is sweet. But you may have guessed from the title and the fact that this is crime fiction, that this wasn’t necessarily going to be the happiest or most joyful of tales! Overall, I did enjoy this, I think Kevin Wignall has written a story that does everything it says on the tin. It has interesting characters that you are either rooting for or loving to hate, and an eye popper of an ending that makes you wonder what would happen next if the author had chosen to write on. It also cleverly dulls the lines between essentially what makes a man “good,” and what makes a man “bad,” and, I have to admit, tested my morals slightly as I struggled with my feelings towards certain characters. I’d definitely be interested to read more of this author’s work in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

 

Blog Tour – Stories For Homes Volume Two – edited by Debi Alper and Sally Swingewood

Published October 6, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

“Stories give our imaginations a home. It’s good to see them helping to give people shelter in the real world, too…”
– Joanne Harris, author of ‘Chocolat’

“A cornucopia of witty, tragic, elegant, raw, heart-warming and terrifying stories that take the idea of Home, play with it as only truly talented writers can, and all to help those who have no home at all.”
– Emma Darwin, author of ‘The Mathematics of Love’

A home is something most of us have the luxury of taking for granted but for many it is a grim struggle to obtain what should be a basic necessity. Stories for Homes is a collection of witty, poignant, funny and heartbreaking short stories by fifty five authors, both established and emerging, reflecting the connection between the immediacy of housing crisis and the stories people tell about their lives around and within it. Volume Two of the anthology includes stories, poems and flash fiction and again all proceeds will be donated to Shelter, the charity for housing and homelessness.

What did I think?:

When the lovely Faye asked me to be part of a blog tour for Stories For Homes Volume Two, a collection of stories, poetry and flash fiction from fifty five published and non-published authors, I jumped at the chance. This is mainly because proceeds from the sale of each e-book go directly to the charity Shelter that helps the homeless and that this particular volume was released in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London recently. It is dedicated to all the victims and the survivors, the exact death toll of which still remains unknown. I suffer with a chronic illness and a lot of the time have trouble sleeping so I was actually watching the news as it all unfolded in the early hours of the morning and it left me both horrified and completely saddened, especially as it’s clearly something that could have been prevented.

In Stories For Homes Volume Two we get a wonderful mixture of stories that all have the central theme running through them of having a home to come back to. Whether the protagonist(s) in the tale are away from home and are missing it or it might be a home that they make for themselves and learn to love, each story bounces off the page with poignancy and a great deal of heart. I honestly don’t believe there is a bad story in the collection. Obviously there were some I liked more that others and a few that had an incredibly profound effect on me but each story stood on its own quite vividly and I truly believe there is something here for everyone.

Personal favourites had to be The Tiger Who Came Back To Apologise by Jan Carson which was quirky but brilliantly written and follows the reaction of a young single mother as a man from a previous relationship knocks on her door one day. There was also Siamese by Poppy O’Neill, a fascinating story of a possibly dystopian world where a pair of conjoined twins find a way to deal with the hordes of people who pay money to stare through the window of their house and watch them at their daily tasks. Then there was the thought provoking poem, It Was Only A Patch On The Wall by Andy Leach which explores how easy it can be for such a little thing to turn into something that may cost you your livelihood and home.

I almost wish I had taken notes on each story as I made my way through the collection, there’s so much more I could say and infinitely more stories I could mention, especially the few that cover the immigration experience that I have to admit, broke my heart a little bit. If you enjoy short stories or even fancy giving them a try for the first time, there are not many collections I can recommend higher than Stories For Homes, Volume Two with such an eclectic mix of authors and diverse subjects to enjoy, I guarantee you’ll find at least one story that will move you in some way. Plus, you’ll be donating money to a very special cause – what could be better?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Summary:

Published and unpublished writers come together to create an anthology of stories about what ‘home’ means.

55 writers are included in a second charity anthology that brings issues around housing, poverty and crisis to life through the power of storytelling. Volume One of the Stories for Homes Project raised over £3K for housing charity Shelter and raised awareness of housing issues. Volume Two of the anthology includes stories, poems and flash fiction and again all proceeds will be donated to the charity.

Sally Swingewood, who also edited the collections, commented:

“The Stories for Homes collections would not be possible without the generosity of a huge number of volunteers. By working together we have produced a book which will not only delight but also help address one of the biggest humanitarian crises facing modern society. In a world where migration, identity and belonging are in the news daily we have a duty to help everyone have a home in which they feel safe and settled. Stories for Homes is one way we can be part of the solution”

Further Stories

A dedicated website includes a further collection of flash fiction and poetry, real life experiences from people who have had housing problems or have experienced homelessness, as well as a series of articles from a professional working with homeless people.

http://www.storiesforhomes.wordpress.com

Thank you once again to Faye for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, it’s been an absolute honour to take part and to Shelter Charity for their amazing work. Stories For Homes Volume Two was published on 28th September 2017 as an e-book and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

Amazon UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stories-Homes-Two-Jacqueline-Ward-ebook/dp/B075W8H8QT/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506875151&sr=8-1&keywords=stories+for+homes+2

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft.

Published October 3, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Shadow Out Of Time all about?:

The Shadow Out Of Time follows our male protagonist as he struggles with what happened to his mind and body during a five year period of amnesia and hallucinations.

What did I think?:

I always approach the next H.P. Lovecraft story in my Short Stories Challenge with slight trepidation. It’s no secret that I haven’t been a big fan of some of the tales in this collection whilst others I’ve really enjoyed. The Shadow Out Of Time sits quite comfortably somewhere in the middle in that respect. One thing I might never understand though is the lengths H.P. Lovecraft goes to when telling a story. By lengths, I mean literally the sheer length of the story which could almost be an entire novel by itself and is almost epic in its content. Sometimes I feel as if he could have got a much more effective narrative by just trimming things down slightly and then I might not have felt as bored, wondering when exactly it was going to end.

The Shadow Out Of Time (as with many of his short stories) follows a male protagonist as he describes a horrendous and often fantastical event that he has been a part of and that has affected his life enormously. Our narrator for the journey is Professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee and he is describing a terrifying period of his recent history in the early 1900’s that he is intending to pass on to his son and other academics, hoping that they might make some sense of it. The period in question is when he was teaching one day and, all of a sudden was subjected to the most horrific headache and hallucinations that led to him losing consciousness for about sixteen hours. When he awakens, he is a completely different person, describing it as a “second personality,” that leads him to undertake long journeys for unknown reasons and to seek out strange and mysterious ancient texts where he scribbles weird hieroglyphics within the pages. He cannot look at himself in mirrors developing an odd loathing of his form and eventually, his wife divorces him taking two of their three children into her custody, adamant that he is a different man. This second person remains with Nathaniel for a period of five years until his true personality appears to return. However, he has almost complete amnesia about that time of his life although he is beginning to have erratic dreams and small flashes of memory that are terrifying him to his core.

Eventually (I say eventually as this story is absurdly and overly long) we find out the reason for Nathaniel’s amnesia and strange dreams and, as expected from a story by H.P. Lovecraft, it’s nothing short of bizarrely imaginative. There are supremely intelligent alien, cone-shaped creatures that are ten feet tall and ten feet across, journeys through billions of years of time and space and other, frightening species that although it’s difficult to picture them, appear very sinister indeed. I’ve got to give a nod to the author for the amazing detail that he puts into his stories, The Shadow Out Of Time is another prime example of a narrative that has been meticulously planned but at times I did feel like it was overly descriptive and, as I mentioned before, way too long to hold my interest. I may have given this a lower star rating purely because my attention wandered quite a while before the end if it were not for the ending. It was almost worth the long slog to the finish line just to read that final paragraph.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: A Place For Violence by Kevin Wignall from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7