Tag Archives: Collection

Queen Klutz

queen_klutzI don’t read a lot of humor, and I’m not a reader of “inspiring” books like Chicken Soup for the Soul and the like, so this book was a little bit of a stretch for me. But the more I read, the more I laughed. Queen Klutz is a collection of vignettes about life’s travails and troubles, and the author’s meeting of those moments with a sunny-side-up attitude.

I found I really enjoyed the stories. I gasped, winced, and laughed as a read, and felt inspired by Marti Lawerence’s infectious and delightful attitudes.

The chapters are short, and make for good reading in snippets in the short empty spaces of a busy life. I read it on my phone, one vignette at a time in all the waiting spaces of my day. I appreciated the way each chapter left me feeling uplifted, amused, and appreciative of the good things in my life.

I recommend this one if you need a boost and a reminder that a bad day doesn’t have to keep you down.

About The Reviewer:

BRYANT-CroppedSamantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her Menopausal Superhero series is available on Amazon or can be requested at your favorite book store: Book 1: Going Through the Change, Book 2: Change of Life, and (upcoming in 2017) Face the Change.

Learn more about Samantha and her work at http://samanthadunawaybryant.blogspot.com/

The Square Peg Book

square_pegDo not drink. Do not eat powdery or crumbly things while reading this book. You are forewarned. …Because you will wind up inhaling something down the wrong pipe as you gasp in a fit of hysteria. Now, not all the episodes in this droll tome will have you grasping your sides, but a fair share of them will. That’s sure. The rest? You’ll nod sagely, recognizing, dare I say, yourself, your in-laws, your neighbors and friends, and, yes, even your sworn enemies.

S. Bradley Stoner nails suburban life to the wall, then proceeds to expose all its undersides in hilarious and, sometimes, uncomfortably candid detail.  From the steamed green lady to the gab-gad-about gossip, from the dig-himself-into-the-doghouse dufus to the know-it-all ne’er-do-well, you’ll recognize them all, though the faces you see in your mind’s eye won’t match the faces your neighbor sees when he reads the same lines. But your wife will nod wisely as she quirks a small smile your way when you read her some choice, juicy passage, you seeing yourself in the protagonist’s shoes whilst she’s seeing you . . . never mind.

I give The Square Peg Book a four-star . . . because there are some minor editing issues. S. Bradley Stoner’s a darned fine writer, but, yes, like all of us, he misses some stuff when he knows better.  Still, pound for pound, I found no more faults in this work than I find in something put out by HarperCollins, though I know, anymore, that’s not saying much.

About The Reviewer:

DLKeur_1_400x600D. L. Keur is an artist, a musician, and an author in her own right. Her titles span multiple genres and include science fiction (Aeros), paranormal mainstream and psychological suspense (E. J. Ruek), and Western Romance/Family Saga (C. J. “Country” James).

You can find her and her novels online at DLKeur.com.

Borrowed Time

Borrowed_TimeI love short stories. Unlike novels, with short stories I get an entire story in a single sitting, and they’re easier to fit into my busy life even during hectic times. In a good collection, I get ten or more good reads without having to shop for another book. So I was really happy to find this collection by Chad A. Clark.

A diverse and well executed collection of stories, the tales in Borrowed Time range from horror to weird to literary. My favorite story in the collection is the first one: Mist on the Highway. In the vein of Rod Serling and Ray Bradbury, it’s a story that rewrites itself as you read it, constantly making you secondguess your assumptions about what is really happening. It plays off the familiar, referencing ghost hitchhiker stories, but is certainly more than just another retelling.

Another story in the collection, Falling to Dark, was scary enough that I couldn’t read it at bedtime without unduly influencing my dreams. I had to put it away and try again in daylight.

I recommend it for readers who are looking for shorter reads and like variety in the subject matter.

About The Reviewer:

BRYANT-CroppedSamantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is now for sale by Curiosity Quills.

Learn more about Samantha and her work at http://samanthadunawaybryant.blogspot.com/

Past The Borders

past_the_borderI’ve known of Christopher Ruz through mutual writer friends, but this was the first time I properly sat down and read his work. And let me tell you, I cannot recommend this collection highly enough. (In fact, when I put Past the Borders side-by-side with my own collection Hungry For You, I confess to a tingle of envy.)

Past the Borders is an unsettling speculative fiction collection of six short stories plus a novella. While the length varies widely from story to story, the crisp, sharp writing and almost naked honesty of emotion remain consistent throughout, creating a truly escapist read.

The collection starts off with a bang—the first story, Black Rain, is a stunning, nail-biting piece with subtle imagery and a quiet horror. A couple is trapped in a house by ceaseless black rain that plunges them into despair. How much of the darkness is real? How much of it is paranoia?

Then there’s Unknown Hunger. What begins as a straight up detective story strays off the beaten path and into the paranormal. An alcoholic man witnesses a mysterious death and is suspected of murder. The cops are sure of his guilt, but he can barely remember his own past… and at the heart of his memory loss lies a dangerous secret.

The collection continues from strength to strength with the cyberpunk They Trade In Eyes, which is my favourite piece (tied in first place with Black Rain). Here, Ruz explores a world where people upgrade their eyes to mechanical alternatives, depicting a bleak vision of the future (pun intended!). Choice excerpt: “People aren’t buying eyes to see. They’re buying eyes to know.

Occupied is a strange, quietly sad story with excellent characters. A boy finds a note in a bathroom and decides to reply, striking up a lifelong correspondence with an unusual man. No Exit is a newspaper article set in the year 2094 in a post-apocalyptic Australia. The Aliens Came Alphabetically is a cleverly written ABC story about first contact.

The collection closes nicely with the longest piece, The Ant Tower, in which a magician leads a group of mercenary soldiers through the desert to recover a forgotten relic. I loved the world-building of this story, and the ending left me hungry for more.

What I most enjoyed about this dark collection was that each story offers a fresh take on the speculative. Christopher Ruz explores some highly original ideas whilst creating evocative settings and very believable characters.

If I had to nitpick, this collection is lacking in female perspectives, as the majority of protagonists are male. But why complain when what is on offer is so good?

What are you waiting for? Grab Past the Borders. You won’t regret it.

About The Reviewer

AMHarteA.M. Harte is a London-based speculative fiction enthusiast and chocolate addict whose work includes the dark fantasy novel “Above Ground” and the zombie love collection “Hungry For You”. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and enjoys procrastinating at http://amharte.com