Tag: Books: Short Stories

Armchair BEA: Expanding Blogging Horizons & Novellas/Short Stories

Posted 28 May, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 24 Comments

Expanding Blogging Horizons

I find that my blog and my blogging is constantly changing, expanding, shifting over the years. Not necessarily in a unique way, I think–I haven’t branched out to vlogging or podcasts. While my blog has become predominantly book-related over the years, I still post up my thoughts and reviews on movies I’ve watched, television shows I follow (however few they are; right now I’m posting my thoughts every other week on the latest episodes of Orphan Black), the articles I’ve written for other publications. Over the past year I’ve branched out and taken part in more book blog tours (courtesy primarily of France Book Tours), which is another wonderful way to connect with bloggers and authors and great books.

On a more technical note, the only major thing I’ve been focusing on in terms of expanding my blogging horizons is actually working towards a redesign here, lol. I recently bought this awesome theme from Creative Whim; I was having so much trouble formatting and customising free themes and I’m no longer patient when it comes to learning how to format my own layouts but this theme is pretty promising in terms of what I can do with it. I hope to do a bit more than what I currently have going on here in the coming months. I also hope to change my url next year to something a little more bookish, but we’ll see 😀

Novellas & Short Stories

In the last two years, I found myself reading a lot more novellas and short stories. Still not a lot, mind you, but reading them every now and then is a nice change of pace and I find that whenever I’m in a reading slump, it really helps me through that blahness. They’re also a great place to start if you’re looking to start reading a series or read some books from a particular author or want to continue reading stories set in a particular world that you’ve enjoyed.

For some novellas by classic authors, I highly, highly recommend Meville House’s The Art of the Novella series. The selection is fantastic, and the covers are simple but very elegant and appealing–very nice to have on your shelves! Many of these titles, depending on their copyright, are available free online or elsewhere, but if you’re a collector or are just looking for a starting point, definitely check their selection out. Some notable titles worth checking out (in my opinion ;)):

  • Christopher Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels & The Haunted Bookshop
  • Sholem Aleichem’s Stempenyu: A Jewish Romance
  • Prosper Merimee’s Carmen
  • Anton Chekhov’s The Duel
  • Aleksandr Pushkin’s Tales of Belkin
  • Ivan Turgenev’s First Love
  • Edith Wharton’s The Touchstone

As for fantasy and science fiction, Tor.com has always been my go-to place for short stories from various fantasy and sci-fi authors. Every year they release a small anthology to download featuring select titles. They’ve been fairly hit and miss for me, but it’s some place to turn to for short stories from the genre. Other short stories–such as the novellas set in James S.A. Corey’s Expanse novels and Brandon Sanderson’s novellas–are both entertaining and interesting in what else it reveals of the worlds they’ve created, and definitely worth checking out.

There’s also one author on my to-read shelf whom I would talk more about in this section but I haven’t read any of her works yet: Alice Munro. I’ve heard good things about her work (and she’s Canadian–whoo-hoo!) and of course she’s pretty notable lately because she won the Nobel Prize for Literature so I’m looking forward to reading her short stories 🙂

And now I turn it over to you: How have you expanded your blogging horizons in the past year? Or if you’re a new blogger, what’s your experience been like so far? Do you read novellas and short stories? If so, what are some of your favourites? If you don’t, has my post convinced you in checking out a few titles? 😉

Review: The Girl of Hrusch Avenue

Posted 3 May, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

The Girl of Hrusch Avenue (The Powder Mage short story)
By: Brian McClellan
Format/Source: eBook; see below

Vlora is an orphan living at a boarding school as a ward of the state. Even at her young age, she already has enemies: the Bulldog Twins, Baron Fendamere, and her own headmistress. When a strange man offers to buy her, Vlora runs away and takes to the roofs above the gunsmithies of Hrusch Avenue. It is there that she meets a boy named Taniel and begins a friendship that will change her life forever.

I found out about this author and this short story because it was featured on SFF blog A Dribble of Ink (the short story is free to download until 10 May 2014 (I hope I counted the days right)). The premise sounded interesting, especially I don’t read much fantasy fiction set in a gunpowder-capacity world.

I greatly enjoyed reading this story. It introduces the reader to the world that Vlora, Taniel et al. lives in; you could really feel the streets that Vlora and the Bulldog Twins run around in, the conditions of the house that Vlora lived under. The author does a wonderful job in presenting Vlora and the other characters–both savoury and unsavoury–and in particular what drives and interests Vlora. The story is accessible and quick-paced without a dull moment, the emotions are palpable, the characters on a whole were interesting, and all around was just intrigued about this world and whatever else is part of it.

So overall, fantastic short story, it was great introduction to this world that the author has created while keeping the story interesting and focused. I will definitely keep a lookout for The Powder Mage books as my interest is now piqued. I highly recommend checking this short story out if you’re into fantasy fiction and want to check out a new series 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

Visit the author’s official website

Review: The Opposite of Loneliness

Posted 2 April, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Opposite of Loneliness
By: Marina Keegan
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon and Schuster CA

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at The New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her deeply moving last essay for The Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. Her short story “Cold Pastoral” was published by NewYorker.com just months after her death.

The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina’s essays and stories, which, like The Last Lecture, articulate the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be, and how we can harness our talents to impact the world.

I first heard about Marina Keegan and this collection of essays and stories from Simon and Schuster CA’s Instagram. It sounded like an interesting collection and I was shocked and saddened to learn that the author had died almost two years ago, shortly after she graduated. She had so much ahead of her. I was pleasantly surprised to find an ARC of this collection in the post the other week and looked forward to reading her work. This book will be available on 8 April 2014.

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Review: Stories by Foreign Authors: Spanish

Posted 6 March, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Stories by Foreign Authors: Spanish
By: Various Authors
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

Stories by Foreign Authors: Spanish was published in 1898. This collection gives an excellent look into the writers in Spain at the time. Included in this collection are:

  • THE TALL WOMAN by Pedro Antonio De Alarcon
  • THE WHITE BUTTERFLY by Jose Selgas
  • THE ORGANIST by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer
  • MOORS AND CHRISTIANS. by Pedro Antonio De Alarcon
  • BREAD CAST UPON THE WATERS by Fernan Caballero.

So here’s the thing: I’m in a bit of a reading slump at the moment (which you probably couldn’t tell a few days ago with the 5 books listed under GoodReads that I was reading =P). I find that one way to get out of the reading slump is by reading short stories 🙂 So I decided to read this title, which I picked up on a whim during my many browsings on the Gutenberg Project. This book is part of the Everything Espana Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

I was pleasantly surprised by this collection. On the one hand, it was fairly eclectic in that the first three stories are short and more supernatural/Gothic in theme while the last two are more historical fiction in nature. The first three were far more interesting for me because of the Gothic theme, the mystery and the strange occurrences happening. The Tall Woman was rather creepy while The White Butterfly was quite eerie but with an interesting twist/message at the end. My favourite story was The Organist; while short, it had just the right amount of small-town interest and a truly Gothic twist. The other two stories were interesting enough and more novella-like in length.

Overall, this collection was an intriguing one with some really great stories. I recommend it, especially if you’re looking for some stories written by Spanish authors 🙂

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review: I Stole the Rain

Posted 3 February, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 5 Comments

I Stole the Rain
By: Elisa Ruotolo
Format/Source: eBook; won a copy from a Book giveaway hosted by Booklover Book Reviews

I Stole the Rain tells a trio of unforgettable stories from the superstitious Italian province of Campania, where fizzy drinks are delivered by cart, old women sell gold to a furtive clientele, and the tobacconist’s daughter is a prize beyond imagining. In “I am Super Legend,” a local team of beer-swilling, smoking, perennial losers is dragged toward the dubiously prestigious championship by the coach’s son, who becomes cursed by his nickname, Super Legend. In “Look at Me,” a motherless boy tries to help his father’s best friend, the mute Cesare, who has fallen in love with their housekeeper Silvia. And in “The Child Comes Home,” a young boy disappears, and after losing everything and being forced to take up her grandmother’s questionably legal profession, his mother is consoled by her bickering sisters-in-law and her undying wish to hear a knock on her front door… A sublime mixture of humor and pathos, and brimming with colorful characters, Elisa Ruotolo’s I Stole the Rain is an assured debut from one of Italy’s preeminent storytellers.

To be honest, the book cover was the first thing that caught my attention for this volume; Frisch and Co. did a wonderful job with the cover art for this series of short story volumes. But more to the point I’m always on a lookout for Italian literature and this volume sounded really interesting. I received a digital copy of this book from the publishers through a contest held by Booklover Book Reviews.

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