Tag Archives: short story collection

Tangents & Tachyons by J. Scott Coatsworth Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author J. Scott Coatsworth brings readers a brand new anthology collection of short stories and flash fiction that redefines the sci-fi genre in his book, “Tangents & Tachyons”.

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The Synopsis

Tangents & Tachyons is Scott’s second anthology – six sci-fi and sci-fantasy shorts that run the gamut from time travel to hopepunk and retro spec fic:

Eventide: Tanner Black awakes to find himself in his own study, staring out the window at the end of the Universe. But who brought him there, and why?

Chinatown: Deryn lives in an old San Francisco department store with his girlfriend Gracie, and scrapes by with his talent as a dreamcaster for the Chinese overlords. But what if a dream could change the world?

Across the Transom: What if someone or something took over your body on an urgent mission to save your world?

Pareidolia: Simon’s not like other college kids. His mind can rearrange random patterns to reveal the images lurking inside. But where did his strange gift come from? And what if there are others like him out there too?

Lamplighter: Fen has a crush on his friend Lewin, who’s in a competing guild. But when the world goes dark, only a little illumination can save it. And only Fen, Lewin and their friend Alissa can light the spark. A Liminal Sky short.

Prolepsis: Sean is the closeted twenty-five-year-old editor of an 80’s sci-fi ‘zine called Prolepsis. When an unabashedly queer story arrives from a mysterious writer, it blows open Sean’s closet door, and offers him the chance to change the world – and the future.

Plus two flash fiction stories – The System and The Frog Prince, never before published.

This is the first time all of these stories have all been collected in one place.

The Review

This was a powerful and entertaining read. The range of stories that the author tells, from traveling to the end of the universe to alien visitors, demons, and time travel, became the perfect balance to the rich character growth and emotional storytelling that the author played out across each story. The imagery and exploration of fear and hope across the LGBTQ community were so spot-on in this collection, and really captured the heart and emotions of the characters in these stories.

While each story and the collection as a whole were fairly quick and easy to read, what stood out to me was how well developed each story was. The character’s arcs and the personal storytelling with the sci-fi-influenced themes all played out in a very natural and engaging way and felt like each story was perfectly laid out and not rushed whatsoever, something some anthologies suffer from overtime.

The Verdict

A memorable, emotional, and mind-bending sci-fi anthology, author J. Scott Coatsworth’s “Tangents & Tachyons” is a must-read collection in 2021. One of the standout sci-fi reads of the year, the natural infusion of LGBTQ themes and characters into thought-provoking sci-fi storylines that explores our world and our role in the universe as a whole really made the reader become engaged in these narratives and made for a compelling read overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Tangents & Tachyons - J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi collection out: Tangents & Tachyons. And there’s a giveaway!

Tangents & Tachyons is Scott’s second anthology – six sci fi and sci-fantasy shorts that run the gamut from time travel to hopepunk and retro spec fic:

Eventide: Tanner Black awakes to find himself in his own study, staring out the window at the end of the Universe. But who brought him there, and why?

Chinatown: Deryn lives in an old San Francisco department store with his girlfriend Gracie, and scrapes by with his talent as a dreamcaster for the Chinese overlords. But what if a dream could change the world?

Across the Transom: What if someone or something took over your body on an urgent mission to save your world?

Pareidolia: Simon’s not like other college kids. His mind can rearrange random patterns to reveal the images lurking inside. But where did his strange gift come from? And what if there are others like him out there too?

Lamplighter: Fen has a crush on his friend Lewin, who’s in a competing guild. But when the world goes dark, only a little illumination can save it. And only Fen, Lewin and their friend Alissa can light the spark. A Liminal Sky short.

Prolepsis: Sean is the closeted twenty-five-year-old editor of an 80’s sci-fi ‘zine called Prolepsis. When an unabashedly queer story arrives from a mysterious writer, it blows open Sean’s closet door, and offers him the chance to change the world – and the future.

Plus two flash fiction stories – The System and The Frog Prince, never before published.

This is the first time all of these stories have all been collected in one place.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Scribd | Thalia | Vivlio


Giveaway

Scott is giving away a full set of his previously self-published eBooks to one lucky winner:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47214/?


Excerpt

Eventide

Tangents & Tachyons meme - J. Scott Coatsworth

I felt a little sick. Okay, a lot sick—like something had wrenched my stomach out of my gut and pulled it halfway to Mars.

Not far from the truth, as it turned out.

I reached for my stomach. My furry belly was a little thicker than I would have liked—too much processed sugar, Peter said. That and the whole no exercise thing.

What did I eat this time? My memories were a bit fuzzy.

I remembered bright lights and a sharp smell. And a keening whine.

I opened my eyes. The light above dimmed of its own accord.

That’s weird. And the smell… kind of antiseptic?

I sat up, and my fingers sank into the soft blue mat beneath me, leaving an impression when I lifted them up which just as quickly disappeared.

I was naked. What the hell?

Alarmed, I looked around as my eyesight cleared.

I was alone in a plain white room. White walls curved into a white floor and ceiling, and only the “bed” had any color—a bright blue pad on a raised pedestal. There were no doors or windows.

I pushed myself up and my head spun. My stomach clenched, and I felt sick.

The room swam around me, darkening, changing.

I’ve been sick. I was certain of that, but the details were vague. I fell back, cushioning my fall with my left hand. “Hello? Peter?”

“Hello, Tanner Black.” The reply was warm, cordial. Feminine, maybe? Hard to tell.

“Hello.” My head ached. “Where am I? Who is this?” The walls continued to flow.

“I am Sera. You are in an awakening room. Welcome to the Seeker.”

“Welcome to where?” None of this made any sense. Where’s Peter? He must be looking for me. I tried to get up again and a searing pain clenched my gut.

“Please lie down, Mr. Black. You have not fully recovered yet, and your room is not ready.”

Recovered from what? I wanted to argue, but suddenly resting seemed like an eminently sensible idea. I was tired, and my head hurt.

Maybe just a short nap.

I pulled my feet up and lay down, wishing for my comfy feather pillow.

The foam conformed to my body, hugging me. So comfortable.

That thought faded as sleep took me, and the light went out.


Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth Avatar

Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.

He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

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Things Happen by Christopher Acker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The desperate search for answers we all desire takes center stage in four incredible short stories from author Christopher Acker in the collection, “Things Happen”. 

The Synopsis

In these four stories, things happen.

A mother loses her son to a magic trick gone horribly wrong. Now a Google Maps car is trying to erase the last tangible memory she has of him.

Michelle lands her first big role in Hollywood as a prostitute in a Sam Cooke biopic. But her chance at stardom is jeopardized when riots break out after an innocent black man is murdered by the LAPD.

Everyone in St. Louis knows about the Salazar House of Horrors where a teenage girl was tortured and imprisoned. The prosecution asks Brandon—a model railroad enthusiast—to make a miniature replica of the infamous dungeon. The goal is to persuade the jury to put the monster behind bars forever. But constructing such degradation at 1/12th scale with his wife and two daughters lingering over his shoulder pushes Brandon and his family beyond their limit.

Disgraced journalist Alexander Reynolds is knee-deep in depression. Just about the only thing he can muster these days is slithering to his couch to watch The Maury Povich Show. In a sudden stroke of genius, a path out of his humiliation falls into his lap: he will fake his way to being a guest on Maury. There’s only one problem. He’ll need to convince his wife—the Oscar-winning filmmaker—to play a co-starring role.

The characters here are bruised, battered, and just plain exhausted. They’re like us. And like us, not everything works out for them. It’s this humanity that’s at the heart of this unforgettable collection.

THINGS HAPPEN offers a poignant yet highly entertaining portrayal of people desperately looking for answers in a time when truth and facts are more elusive than ever. The themes of infidelity, unresolved grief, identity, redemption, and racial injustice are woven throughout, lending these short stories a degree of resonance every reader can connect with. And to keep things interesting, a celebrity or two might even make an appearance.

Above all else, THINGS HAPPEN reflects what’s going on in this country right now:

A whole lot of something. 

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The Review

This was such a compelling and engaging read. The author expertly crafted each story to represent an important representation of today’s issues facing our nation, from racial injustice to grief and loss and everything in-between. The characters in each story felt real and gripping as their stories developed over time, and their struggles touched upon so many issues that have always been there but seem to have intensified and become more prevalent in the last couple of years during this pandemic.

What stood out to me was the pacing the author took with each story. With each story being a short story or novella, the reader may have expected the narratives to feel rushed or details to have been missed, but honestly, after reading this collection I felt like the author perfectly elevated the tension and built up the atmosphere in a natural way without sacrificing the theme or characters in any way. 

The Verdict

A memorable, thought-provoking, and entertaining read, author Christopher Acker’s “Things Happen” is a remarkable and relatable must-read collection, and the perfect book to pick up this fall. Emotional storytelling, haunting atmosphere, and perfectly built-up tension allowed this collection to shine brightly, and I was truly enthralled with each story’s narrative. If you haven’t yet, either preorder or pick up your copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christopher Acker is a husband, father, and full-time clinical social worker living in Bridgewater, New Jersey. His fiction has appeared in Change Seven, Crêpe & Penn, New Reader Magazine, Junto Magazine, The Ocotillo Review, Thing Magazine, Subtle Fiction, The Raven’s Perch, Inwood Indiana, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Firefly Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and No Extra Words. His work has also been featured on Wandsworth Radio in the UK.

www.facebook.com/christopherhowardacker

www.amazon.com/author/christopheracker

www.goodreads.com/christopheracker

Ékleipsis: the Abyss by Tamel Wino Review

TRIGGER WARNING: SOME STORIES MENTION OR INCLUDE THEMES OF SUICIDE, ABUSE, AND BODILY HARM. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Author Tamel Wino returns with six new stories of desperation and destruction as humans find themselves nowhere to turn other than downward in the upcoming short story collection, “Ékleipsis: the Abyss”. 

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The Synopsis

The seed of evil has been planted …

What will happen when its roots take hold?

Ékleipsis: The Abyss is the second short story collection by the award-winning author.

Tales of depravation and insanity are woven together with unrelenting style and depth, scrutinizing human nature’s degeneration when compromised by tragic, vicious circumstances.

These complex, wretched individuals and the irremediable conditions they are desperate to claw out of—or into—invoke the unfathomable question: What devastation are we truly capable of when left with no way out but down . . . into the obscurity of the abyss?

The Review

Such a fascinating and engaging read. The author has done a brilliant job of following up the first collection of short stories with new tales of darkness and desperation that really delve into the darkest parts of human nature. The author’s ability to draw out this theme in each story while maintaining a healthy dose of haunting atmosphere and emotional character development was amazing to read. 

The twists and turns the author employs throughout this narrative are what will really wow readers. Each story features a truly gripping and gut-wrenching narrative that shows just how far people who are pushed to the brink are willing to go to fight and claw their way out of a situation. These stories are not the rise and victory of a hero, but instead a reflection of the chilling world we are living in today, and how unexpected meetings and moments in life can take truly drastic turns.

The Verdict

A brilliant, chillingly creative, and entertaining yet haunting read, author Tamel Wino’s “Ékleipsis: the Abyss” is a must-read collection of horror and thriller reads. Perfect for the arrival of the fall/spooky season, readers will be both emotional and enthralled by the author’s creativity and passion that radiates throughout each story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tamel Wino is a Canadian fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on degeneration of sanity and morality. He studied Health Sciences and Psychology, which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Chuck Palahniuk, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic shows and traveling.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekleipsis29/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ekleipsis29/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ekleipsis29

Website: https://ekleipsis.ca/

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Melody of Your Heart by Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A short collection of short stories take center stage as themes of love, loss, and hope come alive in co-authors Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu’s “Melody of Your Heart”.

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The Synopsis

Melody of Your Heart is a short story anthology that we wrote together. They are stories with themes of love, loss, and connection, exploring different kinds of love.

The Review

What a compelling and moving short story collection. This group of stories really does an amazing job of weaving together stories of love lost, love found, and the hope we find in the wake of loss. The chemistry between the authors and their writing style is felt in every tale, highlighting their shared experiences while also delving into the bond they built with one another.

One story, in particular, stood out to me right off the bat, and that was Walls. The story of a man sent to prison suddenly and forced to be separated from the person he loves, only to feel her slip away and the world starts to forget him entirely, really did an amazing job of highlighting the walls we often force ourselves into or are forced into when fighting for love. We try so desperately to hold onto what we had, that sometimes we lose sight of who we’ve become until you are the only one left behind in a world that moved on without you long ago. It’s a thought-provoking and mesmerizing tale that touches just the tip of the iceberg in this collection. 

The Verdict

An engaging, heartfelt, and thoughtful collection of short stories, authors Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu’s “Melody of Your Heart” is a must-read collection. The passion and eloquence with which the authors approached the narratives within these stories really showed the depth and love that the two authors brought from their own lives and into the tales. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Author of Cryptic Clockwork, an autographical collection of prose and poems, and Melody of Your Heart, a short story anthology about life, love, and loss. These works were compiled after his death by Tiffany Chu, in hopes they bring hope and encouragement to anyone going through dark times.

Born in England as Leonel M. M. Santiago on May 14, 2003, Renley lost both his parents in a fire that permanently damaged his vocal cords and lungs at the age of five, leaving him unable to speak. He became Justin Steele at the age of eight when adopted into the Steele family.

Through a shared love of writing, Renley met Tiffany Chu in 2020 and they formed a close friendship. At the beginning of 2021, even as his health rapidly deteriorated, he prepared to move to the U.S. and become part of the Chu family.

On May 18, 2021, he changed his legal name to Renley Nicolas Chu.

About a week after his eighteenth birthday, Renley suffered a severe attack leading to lung and heart failure; he passed away on the morning of May 25, 2021, three days before he would have left for the U.S.

Renley’s last wish to come home was fulfilled on June 1, when his ashes were brought to San Diego and scattered at Los Penasquitos Canyon.

He left behind numerous samples of his writing, both personal as well as fictional. Each piece he wrote exudes the rawness and authenticity of his heart, his emotions, his experiences. His style tends to be stream-of-consciousness and metaphorical with a sense of immediacy and strong emotion.

Rest in Peace, Renley Chu (May 14, 2002 – May 25, 2021) 

 InstagramFacebookGoodreads.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58298765-melody-of-your-heart

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Season of Love – A collection of four, seasonally-themed short stories by Kristine Raymond Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Kristine Raymond brings readers four original short stories exploring romance in the various seasons of the year in the hit short story collection, “Seasons of Love”. 

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The Synopsis

Four couples. Four seasons. A lifetime of love.

Dogwoods in Springtime

Still in mourning three years after her husband’s death, Caroline Ballard’s solitary life in rural Kentucky is disrupted by a broken water line, of all things. As if the lack of running water wasn’t bad enough, her immediate attraction to plumbing contractor Rick Spencer unearths emotions long thought buried. Opening her heart to love for a second time, a malicious lie told by his ex-wife threatens to end the budding relationship before it begins.

Seashells in Summer

Having adopted her four-year-old daughter, Lily, at birth, Taylor Brightman is suspicious when former Marine Sergeant Grant Cutler appears on her Nantucket Island doorstep claiming to be the girl’s biological father. Wary of his motives, his good looks and charming personality win her over, but can she trust that she won’t lose custody along with her heart?

Aspens in Autumn

Ramsey Fiorentino is having a bad day. On the run for her life after witnessing a murder, she’s being pursued by none other than Bishop Hamilton, a private investigator hired by the person who committed the crime. When he catches up to her and the truth comes out, they flee to the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona to hide, but it’s only a matter of time before their newfound romance is tested in the wake of a deadly confrontation.

Snowflakes in Winter

When New Hampshire State Trooper Alex Ballard becomes stranded during a blizzard in the middle of the night, he seeks refuge at a local bed and breakfast, surprised to discover the owner, Chloe Mancuso, is the sole occupant. A passionate night spent in each other’s arms ignites feelings neither thought possible, but there’s someone else with his eye on Chloe and he’s not willing to share.

The Review

A truly fantastic collection of short stories, the author has done a wonderful job of creating well-rounded characters and evenly-paced stories that really capture the reader’s attention. The interesting thing about this collection is not only how the stories end up connecting to one another, but how each story incorporates various genres into the narratives, ranging from drama and loss to mystery and suspense, all against the backdrop of romance. 

The really interesting thing however comes in the use of seasons for the narrative of each story. Utilizing this storytelling device, the author has found a way to make the seasons themselves not only part of the tapestry of the narrative but characters themselves. The writing does a great job of navigating the subtle nuisances of each story’s narrative, ranging from building tension to passionate romance and so much more.

The Verdict

An emotional, heartfelt, and enrapturing read, author Kristine Raymond’s “Seasons of Love” is a must-read short story collection. Perfectly written for those who love romance stories that incorporate many other genres into their narratives and romantic pairings that draw the reader in immediately, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible collection today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

It wasn’t until later in life that Kristine Raymond figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, an epiphany that occurred in 2013 when she sat down and began writing her first novel. Over a dozen books in multiple genres later, there are a multitude of ideas floating around in her head thus assuring she’ll never be idle. When a spare moment does present itself, she fills it by navigating the publishing and promotional side of the business. When not doing that, she spends time with her husband and fur-babies (not necessarily in that order) at their home in south-central Kentucky, gardens, reads, or binge-watches Netflix. To find out more, please visit her website at www.kristineraymond.com

https://www.instagram.com/author_kristine_raymond/

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https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kristine-raymond

Ekleipsis by Tamel Wino Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

What happens when ordinary people give into their darker nature? Find out in this amazing collection of short stories from author Tamel Wino, titled “Ekleipsis”. 

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The Synopsis

The sun has finally set on humanity…

What happens when we give in to the darkness?

Ékleipsis is a debut short story collection written by Canadian author Tamel Wino, with hints of Chuck Palahniuk’s and Cormac McCarthy’s stripped, vivid writing styles. This gripping book explores the havoc wreaked when ordinary people abandon their humanity to pursue their darkest desires, and questions just how far people will go to follow their baser instincts.

Each story takes a version of a person we’ve known in our own lives and transforms them into something completely unnerving—yet all too familiar.

These dark, complex characters and twisted tales of the once ordinary will change your perception of humanity forever.

The Review

What a fantastic and well-written collection of short stories. The author does a brilliant job of delving into the darkest parts of human nature and allowing readers to see into the minds of these ordinary people who find themselves pushed into becoming their darkest selves. Pacing is key to this collection of stories, as each tale while short, does an incredible job of building the suspense until the twist ending comes and shakes the foundation of the narrative to its core. 

One story in particular early on that I enjoyed was Closing Costs. The author does a great job of taking readers into the classic affair story gone wrong while getting to see the story from a different perspective of “the other woman”. The author does an incredible job of making these characters feel both vibrant and real all at once and challenges the notion that far too often we see the masks of people they want to show the world, and rarely see the true face beneath the mask. 

The Verdict

A powerhouse collection of short horror stories that are both entertaining and enlightening all at once, author Tamel Wino’s “Ekleipsis” is a must-read book. The author truly is able to showcase the dark psychology of those who are pushed to their limits and those who take the plunge into their darkest desires and gives readers a thought-provoking thrill ride. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tamel Wino is a horror/thriller short fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on madness and human morality. He attended the University of Western Ontario, majoring in health sciences and psychology which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold, evocative narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic movies and travelling.

To get a copy of the book: https://books2read.com/ekleipsis

my website: https://ekleipsis.ca/

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ekleipsis29/

goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20895934.Tamel_Wino

book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuiVWiZP13s&feature=youtu.be

Torrents of our Time by Christian Fennell Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Christian Fennell showcases his mastery of short stories in his latest collection, “Torrents of our Time”. 

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The Synopsis

Christian Fennell’s debut book, Torrents of Our Time, brings together a collection of 22 stories, most of which have appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. A gifted storyteller with a wide ranging audience, Fennell challenges the weakness in the heart of all our “truths”, while illuminating our dreams and our fears. These are stories that reside in the broken places of us, a stunning dance between our flaws and the beauty and joy of who we are, in this place now. Taken as a whole, Torrents of Our Time is a lyrical and page-turning narrative of love, loss, and pain.

The Review

This was a fantastic short story collection. The author has a superb way with words that is both poetic and thought-provoking. Each story is written in a way that allows the reader to interpret and feel their own emotions about the narrative rather than a straightforward story with a beginning, middle and end. 

One story in particular that I enjoyed as a paranormal and magick enthusiast is The Witch in the Woods, which plays on childhood fears and storytelling and the concept of bravery in the face of that fear. The elements involving the “witch” were great to see and the story ends on a shocking note, but the grander concept of false narratives blinding us to the truth and how stories can grow and take on a life of their own really resonated with me. The author’s expert use of imagery and character growth in such a short span of time really added to the thoughtful nature of each story being told. 

The Verdict

Overall, this was a must-read collection. The author’s work is profoundly impactful and really draws the reader in. Each story has something for every kind of reader, and the author’s writing really is creative and emotionally powerful in its delivery, making this a one of a kind read that cannot be missed. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christian Fennell writes literary fiction and essays. His short story collection, Torrents of Our Time, is scheduled to be released by Firenze Books, October 6, 2020. His novel, The Fiddler in the Night, January 2021.

Christian’s short stories and essays have appeared in a number of international magazines, literary journals, and collected works, including: Chaleur Magazine, Litro Magazine, XRAY Literary Magazine, Dreamers Magazine, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Kind Writers Anthology, Liars’ League London, Wilderness House Literary Review, and .Cent Magazine, among others.

Christian was a columnist and the fiction editor at the Prague Revue. He is currently working on his second novel.

https://www.christianfennell.com/

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https://www.facebook.com/Christian-Fennell-103446968171343

Were We Awake by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A series of short stories illustrate the world people thought they knew is not what it appeared in author L.M. Brown’s novel “Were We Awake.”

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The Synopsis

In each story of this collection, events make the characters understand that their world is not as it seemed.

In Hidden, the discovery of an affair between her father and aunt is only the start of finding hidden secrets for Hazel.

What it Means to Be Empty-Handed is narrated by a fourteen–year-old daughter of an alcoholic. Her denial and elaborate imagination starts to disintegrate when she lies to the wrong person.

In Crashing, a middle-aged woman lives a life of servitude until she hits teenage boy with her car.

A thirty-year-old murder takes its toll on the victim’s family in Walking A Country Road.

The stories are set in Boston and Ireland.


The Review

Author L.M. Brown does it again, creating a wonderful collection of stories that are both connected and illustrate the way life constantly throws people curve balls, turning the world they knew into a completely new one. A collection that showcases that things are never simple or what they appear. 

One of the truly engaging stories of the collection has to be Hidden, which delves into the complex family life of Hazel when she discovers her father and aunt are having an affair. Yet as her family life implodes, new secrets reveal that things are not as simple as they first appeared. The story is a prime example of how life is often lived in shades of grey, with people often living complicated lives in an attempt to find peace and happiness. The author beautifully illustrates the pain, the shock and the confusion that comes from having a person’s world turned upside down, and perfectly taps into the emotion and complexity of humanity as a whole. 


The Verdict

A fairly average length read with completely dynamic characters and stories that feel both personal and connected, this collection of stories is truly unique and wonderfully captures the author’s unique writing style and voice. A collection that honestly showcases the ever changing landscape of the world we live in, both the world at large and the world we create for ourselves. A dramatic journey through life’s greatest challenges, this is a fantastic collection readers will not want to miss, so be sure to grab their copy of Were We Awake by L.M. Brown today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo. Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor/

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Interview with Author Lorna Brown

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I always wanted to write, I don’t remember a particular time when the feeling came to me- it was always there. I started my first book at around 11 and it was an orphan Annie story that really disappointed me for the lack of originality. I thought ‘I have nothing to write about’ and I believe that’s when the yearning for travelling came. I talked about that all the time. After studying psychology and working for a year, I left Ireland. I worked in Australia, Japan, Boston and traveled South East Asia and New Zealand for three months alone, and South America for six months with my husband who I met in Japan. Eventually I came back to Ireland and I was nearing 30 when I finally started writing full time, with my husband’s support.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This collection has been a while in the making. I’d been writing novels, breaking every rule in the book too as I tried to figure it out, and when I moved the States with my husband and three daughters, I started writing the stories. I wanted to write about how society views certain people, which make it difficult for them, like Lou and dyslexia, or Marcus marrying and trying to hide that he was gay, or Ester getting it wrong when her friend moves in with an older man, all these mistakes we make about people because it is impossible to know the whole truth about anyone. After I knew the characters, I put them together in the village I grew up.   

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think through all the stories is the idea that we never truly know what’s going on with other people, while also addressing the fact that society can be tough. ‘In Taste of Salt’, when the group of kids come into the room with Lou, I write, they didn’t really know him but it was easy to forget this, to accept their wariness as reasonable, because there is the idea that we become how society views us. It is so hard to break from the mold. But there is also through the stories an idea of second chances, or being able to rise above it, and I think the ending of ‘White Trout’ is good for that.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I started short stories because I wanted to understand them and see how it was done. It took a good while for me to learn what they were about and how to write them.  This year I finished my second collection ‘It Is Good We Are Dreaming’ which is about that moment when people realize something about their live never known before, or that moment when we are forced to grow up, and I loved writing the stories, as well as the stories of Treading The Uneven Road, because they really made me look at the world around me. Writing a novel is a lot more insular I think. At least I tend to focus on the world I am creating, but when I am working on a collection I really look at what’s going on around me. The second collection most of the stories are taken from news articles and my ideas of what was behind them while Treading The Uneven Road was more about society and its biases.  

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Hard one, I like Dick for his dreaminess, but I really like Patrick from ‘Amends’ for his sense of humor. Eilish is a funny one, so stern and upright, but there is some softness to her that I’d like to see, Ann, would be interesting, I’d imagine sitting in her small kitchen with the view of the bay and that I wouldn’t get a word in edgeways. I’d probably ask her if she wished she’d knocked on that hotel door. (You have to read the collection to get see what I mean)

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I really don’t like social media, and I don’t use it much. But I love all the reviewers, such as yourself, who have been willing to review my book after my request with a synopsis. It’s fantastic that you spend time helping authors get known. I have to give it to the book bloggers sites.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

To accept feedback with gratitude because it is impossible to get better or learn without it. To be able to erase your words, none written is a waste of time. They lead to the destination, but not all are meant to stay. Read and write as much as you can and believe in your talent and ability no matter what anyone says, or how long it takes.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have a lot of projects on the horizon. Fomite has my second collection. It Is Good We Are Dreaming. I secured an agent with my novel, Patient 55. But I finished my re-write of Hinterland soon after and we both agreed it was a stronger one to start with. It took eight years for me to get all the pieces right for Hinterland.  I was glad that he thought it stronger because I’d like to think my books get better with each one. I recently finished my latest novel Our Wandering, and I was planning to write a short story collection with Irish folklore in present day setting. I love doing short stories between novels. They are so different. But with the Government shut down and everything that’s happening here, I realize I need to write something about that. I’m reading now and in the planning stages. I write a lot and am always thinking of stories.

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