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

My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon by Edited by P. N. Elrod, 358 pages, 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, 363 pages, 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, 195 pages, 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, 255 pages, 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., 176 pages, 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, 161 pages, 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, 111 pages, 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, 356 pages, 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.

 

05. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Short Stories

Zombies Vs. Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, 415 pages, read by Angie, on 06/03/2012

It is an age old question.

Zombies or Unicorns?

Are you on team Zombie or team Unicorn?

I assumed going into this collection I would definitely fall into the team Zombie category. I love zombie stories and movies and unicorns have always just seemed to girlie to me. And I have to admit that I am still on team Zombie, but the unicorns might have turned my head just a little bit.

This is a pretty solid collection of stories from some of the best teen authors of today. I love the back and forth banter of our team captains before each story. Yes, it could seem annoying to some but I thought it brought a lightness and a sense of fun and illustrated the challenge of the book. Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black were clearly having fun with this book and we should too.

As for the stories…some were better than others. Some were great short stories, some were not that great and a few I wish were the start of an actual book. So bring on the zombie apocalypse or the invasion of the unicorns. I am ready!

29. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags: , ,

When the Women Come Out to Dance by Elmore Leonard, 288 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/28/2012

This short story collection contains “Fire in the Hole” the short story that the TV series Justified is based on. The characters and setting are taken from the short story but not all the details. Boyd Crowder is a more likeable fella in the tv show than he is in this story. Marshall Raylon Givens is still his laid back western hero-self trying to live and work in modern day Kentucky.

Some of the other stories are mysteries in that there is a crime involved and someone figures it out but others are just narratives of life. I think I liked Sparks the first story in the book the best. All have believable if not likeable characters.

29. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Melody, Short Stories

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, 195 pages, read by Melody, on 03/27/2012

What an amazing book.  For the uninitiated, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a picture book sort of illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, Caldecott winner for The Polar Express and Jumangi.  I say sort of because in the preface of the book, Van Allsburg says the pictures are really from a fellow named Harris Burdick who dropped off 14 drawings that he said that he had written stories for at a publisher’s desk to see what the publisher  thought of them and then Burdick, and the stories to accompany the drawings, were never seen again.  The publisher then gave them to Van Allsburg years later.  To this day, Van Allsburg’s official story is that Burdick indeed does exist and the story behind the illustrations is true.  Regardless of the ownership, the pictures are weird and magical and often menacing with cryptic quotes.  Over the years, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick has served as the inspiration in countless classrooms when students create their own stories based on the drawings. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is an extension of those projects.  Written by top flight writers; Stephen King, Kate DiCamillo, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, ect and  introduced by Lemony Snicket, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is a collection of short stories that capture the mysterious wonderment of the original art.  Highly recommend this book.

21. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

Faery tales & nightmares by Marr, Melissa , 418 pages, read by Kira, on 03/19/2012

Faery tales and nightmaresWell you really ought to read this after you finish the last in the Wicked Lovely Series….because it finishes or picks up individual tales/plotlines from the various protagonists in that series, as well as having a couple of other short stories unrelated to the Wicked Lovely series.  The first one I read, about Donia & Keenan was a little fluffy with Not much happening, but I did enjoy hearing more about Irial and Niall – though, I am bored to tears with Leslie, please give her a rest.  The story The Sleeping Girl was in some ways a redo or Wicked Lovely, but in other ways it was fresh.  I didn’t like the vampire story Transition, it was a bit too much negative deja vu (and gross).  I liked the Selchie tale, it had an interesting twist.

02. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Kira, Paranormal, Romance, Short Stories

Songs of love & death : tales of star-crossed love by George R.R. Martin, 643 pages, read by Kira, on 02/29/2012

Songs of love & deathI really liked some of the tales.  His Wolf by Lisa Tuttle, was my favorite – what an idyllic life (well sorta).  I wasn’t thrilled with Neil Gaiman’s The Thing About Cassandra (but at least it wasn’t another woman being victimized), but I need to remember that he can do horror, not all he writes if purely fantasy.  Jim Butcher’s Love Hurts had more of that romance with Harry Dresden and Murphy (should be Susan Gonzalez – argh).  Robin Hobbs’ Blue Boots was very nice – quaint, everything ringing true for the setup.  I didn’t quite understand “After the Blood” unless it was basically the same “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson (on which Omega Man movie was based).    Tanith Lee’s Under/Above the Water seemed to resonate with Asian notions of life and rebirth.

27. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Short Stories

Bad Doings and Big Ideas by Bill Willingham, 464 pages, read by Courtney, on 02/22/2012

So, this book isn’t really a graphic novel or part of a series of comics. Instead, it’s a compilation of Bill Willingham’s work from his early days. Before “Fables”, that is. In it, we have a wide variety of tales (and a wide variety of artistic talent), all of which are prefaced with introductions by Willingham. Particular favorites of mine are the stories set in the world of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Merv Pumpkinhead as a spy? Yes, please. Not one, but two arcs involving the inscrutable Thessaly (a character I always wanted to hear more about)? Absolutely! Top it off with some entertaining vignettes spanning comic genres and you’ve got one heck of a fun read.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Poetry, Short Stories

Lost and Found by Shaun Tan, 128 pages, read by Angie, on 01/10/2012

Shaun Tan is extremely talented. His work just blows me away. I thought this collection of stories was very powerful. and the illustrations are magnificent. Tan is like a strange cooky version of Dr. Seuss; he is whimsical and there is just so much going on in the pictures. You want to pour over them for a long while. The three stories in this book are all variations of loss and finding your place in the world. The first “The Red Flower” deals with a girl’s depression and the darkness and loneliness she feels, but there is hope in the end. The second story “the Lost Thing” is my favorite about a lost something that is found by a boy. He wants to take care of it and find it a home and he eventually does find it a place with others of its own kind. This story deals with conformity and pushing things into the dark if they don’t fit in. “The Rabbits” is probably the most obvious allegory tale of the three. It deals with a population being invaded by colonists. It is a perfect story to go with lessons on Native Americans. They are driven from their homes and lands and pretty much decimated by the invaders. Tan’s strength really lies with the illustrations though. They bring the stories to life in their own whimsical way. Very enjoyable book that you want to read over and over.