03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Short Stories

Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III, read by Madeline, on 02/10/2014

In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.

In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is “dirty”—tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife’s infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she’s met surfing the Web.

Slivered by happiness and discontent, aging and death, but also persistent hope and forgiveness, these beautifully wrought narratives express extraordinary tenderness toward human beings, our vulnerable hearts and bodies, our fulfilling and unfulfilling lives alone and with others.

late bloomer  Clarissa Pinkola Estes examines archetypal themes in fairy tales relevant to unleashing creativity and letting your unique talents blossom. Estes uses a combination of Jungian psychology together with family wisdom to explain the significance of various tales.  I learned that she had been held at gunpoint down in Guatemala, during a period of civil unrest, listening to her inner voice/angel, she eventually started singing to her kidnappers, who let her go, saying the singing was driving them nuts. She finishes each chapter with a blessing.  I really liked this title, As it was so deep & rich, I wouldn’t want to read several back to back.  I really clientImg_estesenjoyed this book, & feel cactslike I benefited from her wisdom.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Short Stories, Steam-punk, Teen Books

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link , read by Courtney, on 01/10/2012

A wee bit hit or miss as far as the quality of the stories goes, but overall a fun collection. Particular favorites of mine are the tales by Libba Bray, Cory Doctorow and Kelly Link. Extremely varied, both thematically and in setting, the steampunk element is represented in its broadest definition.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman, read by Eric, on 01/25/2014

“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly.” This tasty tidbit is from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to the book, and wonderfully sums up my view of most of his writing. He has a way of stringing letters together which makes the mundane magical, or at the least, a bit odd. I like a bit odd, and so enjoyed this collection of short stories. It also was interesting to compare stories written earlier in his career to more recent ones, both of which are in this collection. I had read a couple of these tales before, and one in particular (The Witch’s Headstone) became a chapter in Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book. Short stories are a great introduction to an author, and so if you are one of the five people not familiar with Neil Gaiman, this collection is a decent place to start. Although it is a collection intended for younger readers, the content is pretty mature, including older cultural references I doubt young readers will understand.

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Stories

The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente, read by Courtney, on 12/02/2013

The Melancholy of Mechagirl is a compilation of short stories and poems with Japanese-themed undertones. Each story is completely unique and highly literate. Some are more sci-fi, some are more fantasy. Some don’t even have humans as the main subjects. Many are deeply rooted in folklore.
My personal favorites from the collection were “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time”, which retells various creation stories from a hard science fiction perspective, and Killswitch, a story about a game that deletes itself upon the player’s completion of the game. It cannot be duplicated or replayed. In a sense, it only exists for the person playing the game at the moment.
As it turns out, Valente (author the Fairyland series), spent several years living in Japan and was clearly changed by the experience. She acknowledges that her perspective is not that of one who is native Japan; rather she uses her experience as an outsider to focus her approach. It never feels like she’s appropriating Japanese culture. It feels more like a combination of respect, curiosity and love for the country Valente found herself in when she married a man in the Navy who was stationed in Japan.

19. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Rachel, Short Stories, Teen Books

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan, read by Rachel, on 12/18/2013

An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says… These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own in tales and illustrations that Shaun Tan’s many fans will love.

This book is a quick read, but is emotionally exhausting (in a good way!). The short stories play on human emotions and leave you thinking at the end. It reminds me of old-time stories where the meaning was not necessarily written in the words, and the endings left you with nothing but the moral. Some are sad, some are hopeful, and some are just weird!

26. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Humor, Short Stories, Tammy

Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense, and Other Endangered Species by Philip Gulley, read by Tammy, on 11/23/2013

porch talkPhilip Gulley shares more heartwarming stories revolving around the front porch where friends and family gather to share stories and small moments. He writes about small-town life, his thoughts, and his Quaker meeting. His observations are humorous and remind the reader to stop and smell the roses, or in Gulley’s case, relax in the rocking chair on the front porch.

20. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Poetry, Reviewer, Short Stories · Tags: ,

Welcome to Bordertown : new stories and poems of the Borderlands by ed Holly Black and Ellen Kushner ; introduction by Terri Windling. Neil Gaiman, read by Kira, on 08/18/2013

wel bordtbordt lives  The premise of the series of bordtown wallinterlinked short stories is that the in-between town aka Bordertown where elves essential_border_cover_artand hret bordumans can co-exist has been closed to travel between the realms for the last 13 bordtown livesyears, and has now opened up again [its also been 13 years since the previous Bordertown collection of short stories].  What was 13 days in bord townBordertown itself, was 13 years in the World (of humans).  The short stories are really a mixed bag.  A couple focused on the theme of immigrants in the US.  Many focused on the problem of Elf borderland_cover_secondSuperiority – or the racism of the elves.

I didn’t care for  Ours bordtonnis the Prettiest by Nalo Hopkinson (didn’t really fit in this world), nor We do NOT come in Peace by Christopher Barzak (protagonist is soo depressed).  But most disappointing was the Neil Gaiman piece was just a short poem, and imho not a very good one, I couldn’t wait til black-coat-elfit ended.bordertown__when_you_give_an_elf__

06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags:

Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children by Arthur Bowie Chrisman, read by Tammy, on 05/29/2013

This collection of Chinese folktales made for a fun read. You can almost hear the voice of the storyteller telling the stories around a campfire or more appropriately a father or mother telling their children’s these fables and tales at bedtime that their own parent told them. The stories cover a wide range of characters from peasants to princesses and kings. There are some morality tales as well with the man character being someone who is not too bright or who is lazy or stubborn. Some of the tales are similar to the fairytales including some dragons making an appearance.

Winner of the Newbery Award Winner 1926.shen

17. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories, Teen Books

Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story by Ally Carter, read by Angie, on 04/14/2013

Macey of Gallagher Girls fame and Hale of Heist Society fame meet up in this caper. They are both attending a high society event when suddenly masked gunmen take the who’s who of New York Society hostage. They are after the canary diamond and Macey and Hale have to stop them, with a little help from their friends.

I have never read any Gallagher Girls books, but I really enjoyed Heist Society. This is a fun little novella that peaked my interest in the rest of Ally Carter’s books. I just might have to check them out.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com

02. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Madeline, Short Stories

We Live in Water by Jess Walter, read by Madeline, on 03/08/2013

We Live in Water, the first collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jess Walter, is a suite of diverse, often comic stories about personal struggle and diminished dreams, all of them marked by the wry wit and generosity of spirit that has made him one of our most talked-about writers. In ‘Thief,’ a blue-collar worker turns unlikely detective to find out which of his kids is stealing from the family vacation fund. In ‘We Live in Water,’ a lawyer returns to a corrupt North Idaho town to find the father who disappeared thirty years earlier. In ‘Anything Helps,’ a homeless man has to ‘go to cardboard’ to raise enough money to buy his son the new Harry Potter book. In ‘Virgo,’ a local newspaper editor tries to get back at his superstitious ex-girlfriend by screwing with her horoscope. And the collection’s final story transforms slyly from a portrait of Walter’s hometown into a moving contemplation of our times.

05. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Melody, Science Fiction, Short Stories

Naked CIty by Edited by Ellen Datlow, read by Melody, on 03/02/2013

Gritty short story collection by some of fantasy’s best authors like Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, and Holly Black with urban settings.  Dark and atmospheric, great fantasy read.

03. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Melody, Short Stories · Tags: , ,

My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon by Edited by P. N. Elrod, read by Melody, on 03/02/2013

Another fun short story collection by today’s big stars of fantasy and science fiction.

28. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Melody, Science Fiction, Short Stories

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination by Edited by John Joseph Adams, read by Melody, on 02/23/2013

Do you ever cheer for the monster?  Wish that you were an evil genius?  Think that the mad scientist should win once in a while?  Then The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is the book for you.  Full of nefarious plots and slavering Igors, it is a wildly entertaining romp of short stories where the superheros are often just stupid saps and the wicked do not get their just deserts. Muahahahahaha!

15. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales by Chris Van Allsburg, read by Angie, on 02/13/2013

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is an interesting, different book. Supposedly, Harris Burdick left a collection of illustrations with captions and promised stories to go along with them. He disappeared forever with his stories. Several of the best writers for children and teens took up the challenge of writing stories to fit the illustrations. This book contains stories by Chris Van Allsburg, MT Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Stephen King and more. As I was reading this I kept thinking of the old Twilight Zone episodes. Each of these stories is a little off, a tad bit strange or downright weird just like The Twilight Zone

12. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Melody, Short Stories · Tags:

The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes, read by Melody, on 02/11/2013

The Ways of White Folks is a short story collection of the great poet and Missourian Langston Hughes.  These intersections of white and black life are brutal and heart breaking in Hughes’ distinct melodic spare style.  Succinct empathetic stories of early 20th century African American life.

30. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Literary Fiction, Short Stories

We Are What We Pretend To Be: The First and Last Works by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., read by Courtney, on 01/14/2013

This slim volume covers two previously unpublished Vonnegut works. The first, “Basic Training”, is a very early novella, written a few years before “Player Piano”. “Basic Training” follows young Haley to his relative’s farm after the death of his parents. The head of the family is known as The General and runs the family in military fashion. The second half of the book is a unfinished novel entitled “If God Were Alive Today”. It is classic late Vonnegut, bitter, ironic and unabashedly honest. The protagonist, Gil Berman, is a self-proclaimed stand-up comedian who tackles everything from politics to morals to social mores and just about everything in between. Both works are semi-autobiographical, which should come as no surprise to any Vonnegut fan.
Both stories are interesting from a contextual point of view. I’ve read just about every Vonnegut book I’ve been able to get my hands on. It’s fascinating to see the development between the early and late Vonnegut writings, even if they can’t really hold a candle to the extant works. I do wish, however, that he had had a chance to finish “If God Were Alive Today”. Great potential there. Many classic Vonnegut-isms.  Not, however, for the Vonnegut initiate.

 

 

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Short Stories

Paintings From the Cave by Gary Paulsen, read by Leslie, on 09/26/2012

Paintings from the Cave: Three Novellas

“In these three novellas, Gary Paulsen explores how children can survive the most difficult circumstances through art and the love of dogs”

This is such a departure from the usual Gary Paulsen story of dogs or the outdoors, I truly enjoyed it.  By the time I finished reading each story, I found myself wishing he would lengthen these into full stories.  I want to know what happened to each of the characters.  Highly recommended.

16. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Leslie, Short Stories

How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen, read by Leslie, on 05/08/2012

How Angel Peterson Got His Name

When you grow up in a small town in the north woods, you have to make your own excitement. High spirits, idiocy, and showing off for the girls inspire Gary Paulsen and his friends to attempt:
• Shooting waterfalls in a barrel • The first skateboarding • Jumping three barrels like motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel–except they only have bikes • Hangliding with an Army surplus target kite • Bungee jumping • Wrestling . . . a bear?
Extreme sports lead to extreme fun in new tales from Gary’s boyhood.

 

I so enjoy reading this book to my older students, especially the boys.  I see them nod their heads and I have to wonder if it is because they have tried it or want to remember it to try later.  These short stories from his childhood are so funny and they did bring back memories of different childhood things for me.  Highly recommended, especially to a reluctant reader.

29. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags: ,

Hex Appeal by edited by P.N Elrod, read by Tammy, on 07/26/2012

Honestly, I checked this book out because it contains a short story by Jim Butcher, featuring his paranormal detective Harry Dresden. It was nice to read about Harry doing a favor for a friend and not having to worry about saving all of humanity or even just all of Chicago. Butcher’s sense of humor once again comes through as his character Harry tries to explain to a campus security officer how parts of a university campus were destroyed and why some students are claiming to have seen some giant hairy creature, people that move really fast with glowing eyes and other weird things. Harry as usual tells him the truth confident that the officer won’t believe him anyway so why bother lying when the truth is such a fun story.

Also contains stories by current popular paranormal authors: Ilona Andrews, Rachel Caine, Carole Nelson Douglas, P. N. Elrod, Simon R. Green, Lori Handeland, Erica Hayes and Carrier Vaughn. I especially enjoyed Retribution Clause by Ilona Andrews and Outside the Box by P.N. Elrod. Fans of Simon R. Green’s Nightside series will also enjoy the origin story of Dead Boy. A sad tragic story but that’s to be expected of the Nightside.