Review: Cecily Gayford (Ed) – A Very Murderous Christmas

Christmas should be a time of joy and family. In these 10 crime short stories written by the best classic crime writers Christmas becomes a time of murder and mayhem instead. Well… as long as you are in the Northern Hemisphere and have a snowy Christmas.

So I’m not usually one for crime novels, and you wouldn’t expect me to enjoy a set of crime short stories. However, I’m in a bit of a reading slump at the moment, and I figured what would it hurt if I read it? As I have always said, short stories are a good way of working out whether you want to read more by a specific author.

The Man with the Sack by Margery Allingham – Nifty! I actually rather liked this one. I’m not sure it was the right short story to start the volume though, not enough oomph.

The Adventure of the Red Widow by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr – I was underwhelmed by this one. I know that Sherlock Holmes is the namesake of crime (along with Agatha Christie), but I didn’t really enjoy the writing style and I would have preferred more clues so I could solve it myself.

Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz – This was a good one! I find it interesting how so often the ‘bad guy’ briefly exposes themselves with a look, but the detective isn’t sure what to make of it. 

The Flying Stars by GK Chesterton – Eh, average.

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake – I could have liked this one because it offered me the clues to solve the ‘whodunnit’ by myself. However, I was irritated by the way the different characters were referred to by their types and therefore that I couldn’t always follow who was who.

Loopy by Ruth Rendell – This was an interesting premise, but so loopy 😉 that it didn’t work for me.

Morse’s Greatest Mystery by Colin Dexter – Average. I hardly remember what it was about, and I only just read it!

The Jar of Ginger by Gladys Mitchell – I was keen to read this one from the name. However, it didn’t actually play out the way I expected it to. What kind of ginger was it exactly? Crystalised ginger? I expected powdered ginger.

Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces by John Mortimer – This actually had a lot in common with one of the other stories (The Man with the Sack) and so didn’t offer much new.

The Problem of Santa’s Lighthouse by Edward Hoch – This one was ok, but I would have liked some more clues so I could solve it for myself.

Overall this set of short stories was rather underwhelming. I’ll still give it 3 stars, but I feel that your reading time could be spent better elsewhere.

Allen & Unwin | 28th November 2018 | AU$19.99 | paperback

Review: Josepha Sherman (ed) – Lammas Night

Lammas Night
Josepha Sherman (ed)

Lammas Night is a collection of short stories inspired by a Wizardly Ballad written by Mercedes Lackey. The foreword tells me that originally it was going to be a collection of songs based on what comes next, but it was deemed that it wouldn’t be salable.

I’m not sure why this book was salable, I’m certainly not going to read it again. Maybe it was the fact that Mercedes Lackey’s name was on the front cover, despite Josepha Sherman being the editor? Although Lackey always says writing novels isn’t really profitable enough to live on (she’s married to Larry Dixon, another fantasy author). When almost every short story follows the same pattern (that was set out in the original ballad) it’s predictable and boring. And of course there isn’t enough time to become properly attached to the characters during the course of a short story. I don’t think there was a single character that I wanted to hear more about.

A couple of the short stories bucked the trend and approached the ballad’s ending instead and what same next. In some cases, it seemed exactly like it was a follow on from someone else’s short story. But I found it hard to tell since there were so many different characters’ names floating around in my head.

I didn’t read this in one sitting, instead choosing to pick up another couple of novels in between. I borrowed it while we were on vacation from my Aunt and so it was intended as a leisure read. I can easily give this 3 stars for readability but would advise reading it over time so you don’t get bored. I didn’t hate any of the short stories due to the writing style, but I didn’t love any either.

Review: Short Stories, Because You Love to Hate Me (ed. Ameriie)

Because You Love to Hate Me
Editor: Ameriie

Leave it to the heroes to save the world—villains just want to rule the world. In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

I confess, I read the first two short stories and almost gave up on the whole anthology. Neither were in a style I enjoyed. A book of short stories was never going to be my favourite read. You will remember from the time that I was more enamored with Mercedes Lackey that I read a lot of short stories. I usually like to use them to pick out some new authors to test out, but honestly at the moment I still have novels left over from last year to review and it’s just not going to happen.

I recognised two of the authors here – Adam Silvera (They Both Die in the End) and Nichola Yoon. I wouldn’t say that any short stories really shone out as amazing, but my pick would be Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith. Let’s just say it has a lot in common with Breaking Butterflies. I wouldn’t want to ruin the underlying theme of it.

Honestly, I’m actually really envious that these vloggers got to request specific topics for their short story. Maybe I should start vlogging about my books? But I’m more of a writer of reviews. If you asked me to do this, I think I’d choose a reimagining of a dragon fairytale, clearly. Maybe the dragon from The Hobbit?

Let’s give this 4 stars, which is pretty generous from me for a book of short stories. Worth reading if you love fairytales, don’t mind short stories and are looking for some new authors to read.

Bloomsbury | 1st September 2017 | AU$14.99 | paperback

Review: Alexander Weinstein – Children of the New World

Children of the New World
Alexander Weinstein

In the near future, social media implants are normal, and memories can be virtually implanted. Sex, souls and ass are currency and children can be deleted from life or have their insides fail. This collection of short stories is an eye-opening horror that will leave you thinking about the implications of technology long into the night.

29243630The short stories lapped in with each other, the world felt complete and despite the short stories being, well, short, I felt satisfied after reading each one. I’m not sure that I would be able to comfortably read a whole novel of this, nor what storyline could go with it. There is just so many disparate things happening that it seems impossible to get

I want to suggest this novel for others to read, and perhaps lend it to a friend or two, but I’m also hesitant because I’m not sure most people are going to be accepting of most of the ideas. It’s out there alright, and I think it should be read. It’s another level of “1984” (with the same sort of Big Brother ideas).

Oh, I wasn’t sure whether to give this 4 stars or 5 stars. Normally I wouldn’t go in for a book of short stories, but it really was fantastic.


Text Publishing | 1st December 2016 | AU $22.99 | Paperback

Review: Abigail Ulman – Hot Little Hands

Hot Little Hands
Abigail Ulman

This is the debut of a ‘striking, wry, utterly fresh new voice in Australian Literature’. A collection of nine short stories cover ‘stumbling on the fringes of innocence, and the marks desire can leave’. If anything could bring me back into reading literature, I thought this novel would be it.

24681815I read at least five of the short stories (I had to say I had read half at least), and although the prose was fantastic, the characters believable, there was something about each storyline that left me grasping at anything that would give me meaning with them. I’d read each one, and feel sort of empty, not fulfilled.

For some reason I thought I would enjoy this set of short stories published by Penguin. Instead, I started them, found that I couldn’t get into them, and put it back on the shelf for a very long, and guilty time. Here I am, writing a review at least several months down the line.

I want to enjoy Australian literature, I really, really do. I feel so bad that I don’t even like my home country’s literature. Even when I studied it back in high school, and then in university, I couldn’t enjoy any of these texts (for my other reviews, see ).

Although I couldn’t finish it, I’m putting that down to the fact that I’ve stopped trying to get through novels that I can’t stand unless they belong to a specific author who has sent me a novel. I have so many novels to read that I don’t want to waste my time on something that I’m pretty sure I won’t love. I’d like to be proven wrong, but so far, this novel isn’t it.


Review: bud smith (editor) – First Time

First Time
bud smith (editor)

This novel is a collection of essays, stories and poems about the first time the authors had sex. I only bought this ‘novel’ because one of my favourite authors had written a piece for it. Sadly, it didn’t turn out anything like I hoped, not to mention the humping bunnies on the front cover

18364966By the feel of things, I think the authors had a wide scope of what they could write. For me, I hate poetry. I especially hate random poetry where I can’t work out any of what is going on. Other examples were of not-true stories. What is the point of writing expository fiction if your reader can’t connect in any way with it?

It’s stupid of me, but for some reason I thought this would be a collection of stories about queer people’s first times. I figured this because two of the authors that I knew had works in this book were gay, and I liked their other pieces. So as such, this ‘novel’ wasn’t for me. I’m not interested in the first times of straight people, generally these seem to be boring. Queer people (and I know I am generalising here) have more interesting first times, or first meetings, because half the time they don’t know what they want or if their partner will be willing, available and accepting.

Honestly, I read about half this book, picking and skipping authors that I wasn’t interested in. There is no way I would have read it in its entirety. I will be freeing it into the wild in the hopes that other people might get something out of it. If you’re queer, I’d recommend the Letter Q instead for relatable fiction. Let’s give this one 2-3 stars and call it a day.


Review: N.R. Bates – The Fall of Icarus

The Fall of Icarus
N.R. Bates

I got this very thin paperback as part of ‘The Sharp Edge of Lightning‘ blog tour. I’m sorry to say that I delved into this one first, thinking that it would be painless and give me a good insight into the author’s style. Instead, I got concerned about the other novel I was supposed to be reviewing.

25357738Each of the short stories (there are three) has an interesting premise, although I enjoyed the the explanation about the original story of Icarus the best. The elevator was quite inspired. But like many other short stories, it left me wanting for what it really meant, or the enjoyment of it. I didn’t start reading them in order to have an active role in interpreting how it reflects a conversation on society, I did it because I thought they were light fiction!

This is a very short review, which is usually what happens when I leave a review hanging around to write for a couple of months, and also when it is a set of short stories. There are other things out there to read if you like thought-provoking short stories, I’d even suggest Peter Carey. Perhaps I should just stop volunteering to read short stories in general…