Tag Archives: Ray Bradbury

Armchair BEA – Let’s Talk About Short Stories

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Today for Armchair BEA, the topic is Novellas & Short Stories. We’re giving some love to those delightful small bites of fiction that can be just as powerful as a long novel. I want to highlight a few short story anthologies that I’ve read recently and loved. Because I love genre fiction, all these collections contain stories that are offbeat and quirky, and all have supernatural elements. If you don’t have time to read a novel and you’d like to savor a short story, here are some I highly recommend:

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. I’m going to be using the word “strange” a lot in this post. These stories are just…strange! Ogawa is a genius at finding a common thread and weaving it throughout all her stories. The overall snapshot of this collection is a city where odd and terrible things happen to people, and the lives of those people come together over and over. I know that doesn’t tell you much, but seriously, just read this book!

Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury. This collection was released soon after Bradbury’s passing, and is full of emotional and heartfelt stories that are reminiscent of his style. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

Stranger Things Happen  by Kelly Link. Kelly Link is probably my favorite short story scribe. She and her husband run Small Beer Press, a small publisher that puts out awesome and high quality novels and stories. She usually publishes her own anthologies through Small Beer, and she’s won lots of awards. She’s truly talented, and if you love offbeat fantasy and just plain weird and quirky, you should definitely check out her writing.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. Another favorite of mine, Karen writes novels and short stories equally well. This collection was one of my favorite books of 2013 and I demand that you read it!

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link. Yes, I have three Kelly Link collections listed! Here’s another one, with one of my all-time favorite short stories, The Faery Handbag.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. I believe this is her first collection that was picked up by a major publishing house, and it’s marketed for the young adult crowd. Some of the stories also appear in the other two Link books I’ve listed.

The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales. This offbeat collection earned a five-star review from me, and it’s filled with gory horror and lots of humor as well.

Appalachian Undead edited by Eugene Johnson & Jason Sizemore. If you love zombies and you love the South, you’ll love this quirky, bloody and uproariously funny collection of zombie tales.

Do you read short stories? Do you have any short story recommendations? I’d love to hear them.

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Link Salad (7)

Link Salad button copyWelcome to another Link Salad! Here are the interesting links I found around the internet this week, plus a video at the end that you must watch:

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Dead Ever AfterAlas for Sookie Stackhouse fans, Charlaine Harris’ long-running series is about to end. The final book, Dead Ever After, comes out next month, and the author visited Entertainment Weekly to share her self-narrated book trailer (it’s pretty fun!) and talk about her plans for life after Sookie. Click here to see the book trailer and read the interview.

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OriginJessica Khoury, author of the YA science fiction novel Origin, shares her rules for being a writer. This is the kind of no-brainer advice for writers that I love to see. Whether you’re a pro or just starting out, you might learn something new. Or Jessica might just inspire you to sit down and write. Click here to read her advice!

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Two Boys KissingThe inimitable David Levithan’s next book isn’t coming out until August, but EW’s Shelf Life just revealed the book cover. They also interview Levithan about the book, Two Boys Kissing, a story based on true events about two teenaged boys who set a new Guinness World Record for the longest continuous kiss. You can read the interview here.

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fahrenheit451bookcover-980x730Talk about awesome book designs…designer Elizabeth Perez has come up with a unique design for Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Unfortunately, this is only a concept design, and it’s not for sale—yet. The book includes a match that can be lit by striking it against the spine. You can read more about it on The Fire Wire, as well as Elizabeth’s website.

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Mila 2.0Debra Driza’s debut sci-fi thriller Mila 2.0 has just hit shelves, but you can go to The Midnight Garden and enter to win a copy right now! As long as you’re a U.S. or Canadian resident, that is. Click here to enter and get in on the first book in this electrifying new series!

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InsomniaThere’s still time to enter my giveaway of a signed ARC of Insomnia by J.R. Johansson! I loved this creepy thriller about a boy who is unable to fall asleep, but instead goes into the dreams (or nightmares) of the last person he makes eye contact with that day. You can also read my interview with Jenn! Click here to enter!

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To wrap up this week’s Link Salad, I’ll leave you with the new trailer for Joss Whedon’s next film. Did you hear me? I said JOSS WHEDON. Much Ado About Nothing is, well, based on Shakespeare’s play, and updated for us modern folk. It’s not the first time this has been done, but has it ever been done quite like this? Probably not. And Nathan Fillion’s in it. Did you hear me? I said NATHAN FILLION!!! Also Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, and Sean Maher, who are all from past Whedon shows. No need to click any links this time, here you go:

Thanks for stopping by!

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Tammy’s Top Ten Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and I’m happy that today’s theme revolves around Halloween. Since I love horror stories, and I’ve been reading them since I discovered Stephen King in high school, this is a fun theme for me! So here are the top ten books that I feel could put anyone in the Halloween spirit:

Oldies But Goodies (otherwise known as “classics”):

1. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. This is one case where the movie is just as good as the book (in my opinion, of course). Either way you enjoy this story, it will scare the pants off you!

2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It’s been years since I first read this classic haunted house tale, and it’s probably time for a re-read. Haunted house stories always scare me. I guess it’s the feeling that you might be trapped inside with whatever bad thing lives there…

3. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I read this as a kid and it terrified me! Bradbury has a wonderful way of evoking memories, and every time I see this book I think of Halloween.

Books That Scared Me In My Younger Days:

4. Watchers by Dean Koontz. This was the first Koontz book I ever read, and boy was it a doozy! I was flipping pages almost faster than I could read them.

5. Ghost Story by Peter Straub. Straub is a master of creating mood, and this is another haunted house story that is hard to forget once you read it.

6. The Shining by Stephen King. Honestly, I could have made this entire list up of King’s scariest novels, but I decided to pick just one. The Shining was my very first King book, and it was responsible for setting me on the path to becoming a book collector and horror geek. And the movie’s great, too.

The “New” Classics:

7. Breed by Chase Novak. I just read this terrific horror story about genetic mutation (you can read my review here) and it’s a perfect scary read for the Halloween season.

8. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill.  Hill’s first novel is about a man who purchases a ghost from an online auction, and the nasty things that ensue. It made me a Joe Hill fan for life. If you’re one of the many people who are anxiously awaiting Joe’s new book NOS4A2 (which doesn’t come out until next April), it might be time to re-read this one.

9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A post-apocalyptic novel without any supernatural elements? The Road is one of the most heart-wrenching and terrifying books I’ve ever read.

10. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. And just for fun, if you haven’t read any of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, try this one. The first and best of the series, it’s full of southern charm and humor, but has a deadly serious side as well. If you’re a True Blood fan, you’ll recognize the characters and the story, but that’s about all the two have in common.

Have you read anything on this list? I’d love to compare lists. Let me know what you think!

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SHADOW SHOW: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle – Review

This wonderful anthology was published only a month after Ray Bradbury passed away, so the timing is especially poignant. Editors Sam Weller and Mort Castle have put together an amazing collection of stories that manages to feel “Bradbury-esque” without losing the flavor of each particular writer’s style, a remarkable achievement. Each author was asked to write a short story to celebrate the esteemed man, and each one took that instruction to heart in different ways. Some of the stories are directly related to specific Bradbury tales, and are instantly familiar. Others evoke the emotions one feels when reading a Ray Bradbury story, and you will recognize those too.

These stories explore common Bradbury themes, such as loss, marriage, death, loneliness, and especially the future. Bradbury himself wrote many stories that posed the question “What will the future be like?” As many of these were written in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, the idea of space travel was new and exciting and gave writers the freedom to imagine whatever they wanted to. Several stories in this collection pay tribute to Bradbury’s love of science fiction and what a future Earth might be like. Kelly Link’s Two Houses is a great example, a very strange tale about twelve women traveling through space on a ship called The House of Secrets, complete with a talking computer named Maureen that can alter the ship’s décor at will. Probably my favorite story of the bunch is Young Pilgrims by Joe Meno, where two children living on an unnamed planet, a desolate place with un-breathable air run by strict and menacing adults, discover an underground Eden filled with remarkable plants and animals and oxygenated air. In the afterwards, Meno mentions that he was influenced by Bradbury’s famous story The Veldt, which was immediately recognizable to me. Robert McCammon’s Children of the Bedtime Machine is a hopeful story set in another desolate future, and describes a lonely woman who finds a machine that when cranked, shows a hologram of a child. The woman begins to read stories to him every night, and of course she reads to him from one of Bradbury’s books.

Many of the stories derive their inspiration from specific Bradbury tales. Joe Hill’s By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain is a companion piece to The Fog Horn, and has an eerie, otherworldly quality to its sad story about a dead sea monster. The Companions, by David Morrell, imagines Bradbury’s The Crowd in reverse, and is a spine-tingling tale of guardian angels. Cat on a Bad Couch by Lee Martin gets its inspiration from I See You Never, although Martin explains in his afterward notes that it was the way Bradbury crafted his story that gave him inspiration. The Tattoo by Bonnie Jo Campbell is, as you might expect, an homage Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, and is an odd and magical story about a man who gets an enchanted tattoo at a carnival, a tattoo whose pictures change and form stories, stories that don’t always have happy endings. Audrey Niffenegger gives us her take on The Playground in Backwards in Seville, a short but powerful tale of a grown woman who wants to give her aging father her extra years, and manages to find a way to do so. One of the funnier stories is by Charles Yu as he re-imagines There Will Come Soft Rains, in Earth (A Gift Shop), where a future Earth is devoid of people, except as a tourist attraction.

Some of the writers had personal relationships with Ray Bradbury himself, either through years of friendship or correspondence, and in their afterwards notes they explain these relationships, which I thought was fascinating. Another of my favorites is Dan Chaon’s Little America, which starts out with a sinister premise (a man has kidnapped and tied up a small boy), but does not turn out the way the reader expects it to. Jacquelyn Mitchard, an author I would not expect to find in an anthology like this, used her years of writing back and forth with Ray to start her own writing career, and here gives us a horror story with familiar Bradbury overtones. The collection concludes with a short and chilling look at the end of life itself, Weariness by powerhouse Harlan Ellison, a man who had a life-long friendship with Ray.

Even the editors get in on the fun and contribute stories. Sam Weller’s The Girl in the Funeral Parlor is a poignant look at a man who meets his true love after she’s died, and Mort Castle’s Light is an unexpected series of snapshots of the life and death of Marilyn Monroe, told in a sparse but potent voice. In both cases Bradbury’s influence is clear.

I wish I had the space to specifically mention each story in Shadow Show, but I will say that I was moved in one way or another by all of them. The collection as a whole is filled with everything you would expect from Bradbury’s own stories: wonder, sadness, the joys of childhood, and enough imagination to fill ten rocket ships. It made me want to dust off my old Bradbury paperbacks and reread the stories that I remember from my earliest days of reading fantasy and science fiction. I’ll have to admit it’s been a while since I’ve read a Bradbury story, and if it’s been a while for you too, and you’re looking for a nostalgic reading experience, you’ll want to dive into Shadow Show as soon as possible.

Many thanks to Library Thing for supplying a review copy.

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In My Mailbox #14

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a fun way for book bloggers to highlight new acquisitions. This week I acquired:

Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle. Won from Library Thing Early Reviewers. Release date: July 10 2012. The timing of this book is particularly poignant, since we just lost Ray Bradbury. This book collects 26 short stories by some of the finest writers in the industry, including stories by the two editors and an introduction by Bradbury himself, written before his death. Here is the book description from Amazon:

What do you imagine when you hear the name . . . Bradbury?

You might see rockets to Mars. Or bizarre circuses where otherworldly acts whirl in the center ring. Perhaps you travel to a dystopian future, where books are set ablaze . . . or to an out-of-the-way sideshow, where animated illustrations crawl across human skin. Or maybe, suddenly, you’re returned to a simpler time in small-town America, where summer perfumes the air and life is almost perfect . . . almost.

Ray Bradbury—peerless storyteller, poet of the impossible, and one of America’s most beloved authors—is a literary giant whose remarkable career has spanned seven decades. Now twenty-six of today’s most diverse and celebrated authors offer new short works in honor of the master; stories of heart, intelligence, and dark wonder from a remarkable range of creative artists.

This could be one of the year’s best collections.

The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore. Now available. I have to admit in all my years reading and collecting horror, I was unaware of this book. First published in 1933, there have been various editions through the years. The newest edition, just released, is from Pegasus Crime. I’m so happy I stumbled upon it  while browsing at Barnes & Noble last night. Here’s what Barnes & Noble has to say:

The werewolf is one of the great iconic figures of horror in folklore, legend, film, and literature. And connoisseurs of horror fiction know that The Werewolf of Paris is a cornerstone work, a masterpiece of the genre that deservedly ranks with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Endore’s classic novel has not only withstood the test of time since it was first published in 1933, but it boldly used and portrayed elements of sexual compulsion in ways that had never been seen before, at least not in horror literature.

In this gripping work of historical fiction, Endore’s werewolf, an outcast named Bertrand Caillet, travels across pre-Revolutionary France seeking to calm the beast within. Stunning in its sexual frankness and eerie, fog-enshrouded visions, this novel was decidedly influential for the generations of horror and science fiction authors who came afterward.

And because I love delving into the history of a book, especially one this old, here are some covers from previously published editions:

1951, Avon Publishing Co.

1974, Sphere Books Limited

1993, Carol Publishing Corp.

2010, Centipede Press

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Now available.  I have to say I hate the cover of this book, but it’s been getting amazing reviews, and could turn out to be a sleeper hit this year. Here’s the story description from Goodreads:

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

This sounds amazing! I can’t wait. What’s in your mailbox this week?

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In My Mailbox #6

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way to share with other bloggers the books you’ve received over the past week.

This week I ended up with a very interesting group of books in all kinds of genres. Here they are:

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith. Purchased. Grahame-Smith wrote Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which I never got to read last year. Now the movie is coming out, and of course I want to read it first.  Unholy Night is his latest, and once again he skewers a historical event and turns it into, well, something else entirely. Here’s what Goodreads says:

They’re an iconic part of history’s most celebrated birth. But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity, besides the fact that they followed a star to Bethlehem bearing strange gifts? The Bible has little to say about this enigmatic trio. But leave it to Seth Grahame-Smith, the brilliant and twisted mind behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to take a little mystery, bend a little history, and weave an epic tale.

In Grahame-Smith’s telling, the so-called “Three Wise Men” are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod’s prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod’s men begin to slaughter the first-born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.

It’s the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.

The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small, published by West Hills Press.  Received a review copy from the publisher. OK, I’m not on a religious kick, I just happened to receive two books this week with religious overtones. The Breath of God has been compared to The Da Vinci Code.  Wow! It looks really good, and here’s the description from Goodreads:

A murder at the Taj Mahal. A kidnapping in a sacred city. A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery. All in the pursuit of a legend that could link the world’s great religious faiths.

In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed. His discovery vanished shortly thereafter.

Now, graduate student Grant Matthews journeys to the Himalayas in search of this ancient mystery. But Matthews couldn’t have anticipated the conspiracy of zealots who would go to any lengths to prevent him from bringing this secret public. Soon he is in a race to expose a truth that will change the world’s understanding of religion. A truth that his university colleagues believe is mere myth. A truth that will change his life forever, if he survives.

CurbChek Reload by Zach Fortier.  Received a review copy from the author.  Yep, he’s back! Once again, Zach has been kind enough to send me a copy of his latest book, despite the fact that I wasn’t blown away by Curbchek and Street Creds. His style is gritty and unpolished, but the life of a street cop is gritty and unpolished, so it works for me in some strange way. Here’s what Goodreads says about CurbChek Reload:

CurbChek Reload is a compilation of calls handled by Zach Fortier. This is a more accurate account of the street…at least the streets as i worked them. You will accompany Zach down some dark alleys, into crack houses, chase teenage prostitutes and try to breathe life into the dying. The humor is dark. It’s real cop humor, not the canned jokes made up by people who write about cops, but the stuff they actually laugh about as they try to cope with the dark realities of the job.
Hang on for a rollercoaster ride full of unexpected twists and turns.

Summer Morning, Summer Night by Ray Bradbury. Won in the Worldbuilders raffle. I was surprised when this showed up on my doorstep, because Worldbuilders was over in January, and I really thought I hadn’t won anything. But I’m so happy to have a new batch of short stories by Ray Bradbury. This book was actually published in 2008, and it’s filled with the magical charm that only Ray Bradbury can bring to his stories. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Green Town, Illinois stands at the very heart of Ray Bradbury Country. A lovingly re-imagined version of the author’s native Waukegan, it has served as the setting for such modern classics as Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Farewell Summer. In Summer Morning, Summer Night, Bradbury returns to this signature locale with a generous new collection of twenty-seven stories and vignettes, seventeen of which have never been published before. Together, they illuminate some of Green Town’s previously hidden corners, and reaffirm Bradbury’s position as the undisputed master of a unique fictional universe.

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?

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Waiting on Wednesday #2: SHADOW SHOW Edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. Although I wasn’t planning on participating this week, along came this book:

Shadow Show is coming out July 17th from William Morrow Paperbacks. It contains short stories by some big name fantasy and horror writers, including Harlan Ellison, Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman…wait a minute, they’re all big names! Ray Bradbury himself has written something for this collection as well.  And the cover, well, it just says “Ray Bradbury,” doesn’t it?

Many thanks to the wonderful blog The Fire Wire for bringing this to my attention.

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