Short Stories

Book Review: Almost Home

Almost Home
Author: 
Debbie Macomber
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Almost Home is comprised of four short stories detailing 4 people who take risk of opening their hearts to new relationships. "Whale Island" is about a children's writer who is resisting falling in love with the reporter who interviews her because she has a big family secret to hide. In "Queen of Hearts', a man who was a real geek in high school has become successful and handsome as an adult and has run into the woman who he had a crush on in high school but felt out of her league. "The Honeymoon House" is a story of a photographer who finds a bridesmaid of a halted wedding destroying his house. And finally "The Marrying Kind" reunites two high school sweethearts who has a very brief marriage right when they got out of high school but were cruelly torn apart by family members. A great read if romance novels are your genre!

Reviewer's Name: 
Susi W.

Book Review: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains
Author: 
Gaiman, Neil
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

As I’d realized in previous works of Neil Gaiman’s that I’ve read, he excels at (at least) two things: short stories and fairy tales. One could argue that the latter is a subset of the former, but longer works like Stardust cause me to separate the distinction. Perhaps this book was made all the more magical by its audiobook production. Not only did the author himself read it, but it was accompanied with some great atmospheric music to enhance the mood produced by Gaiman’s words. I missed the illustrations this book sports, but I think the words can speak for themselves.

In terms of a fairy tale, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains manages to contain the usual flare of morality and truth against a backdrop of riches and mysterious wonder. I’m almost surprised there aren’t more authors writing modern fairy tales as Gaiman has since there is a precise formula here that Gaiman has consistently used to create these fantastical narratives. After all, most fairy tales are trying to teach something intrinsically human, and this one touches on the oft-repeated moral of greed versus the consequences of obtaining wealth.

Of course, much like Gaiman’s other “fairy tale” works, this story is intended for adults. Sure, traditional fairy tales are gruesome and are used to scare children into submission. Regardless, the lesson contained in this story is something most adults need to hear. We all love the idea of the “get rich quick” scheme, but there are often secondary effects that we overlook when we head out to seek our fortunes. Perhaps if the more adult aspects were toned down a little, it could be used to teach children about these moral pitfalls before they encounter them, instead of after the fact.

Another superb adult fairy tale, I give The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Author: 
Doyle, Arthur Conan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson have captivated audiences for generations. This collection of twelve short stories is fantastic. From stolen jewels to mysterious circumstances and brilliant crimes, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes has it all. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is full of mesmerizing deductions and wonderful short adventures. I highly recommend this collection of short stories for every Sherlock Holmes fan and anyone searching for great mystery novels or short stories.

Reviewer's Name: 
John

Book Reviews: Mars

Mars
Author: 
Bakić, Asja
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

A debut collection of short stories by Bosnian feminist Asja Bakic who uses dystopian, science and speculative fiction techniques to shine a light on gender relations through lenses of eroticism, skewed humor and horror. The stories are a series of twisted universes set in the former Yugoslavia and Mars. The main characters must make sense of their strange reality whether they are a woman who will be freed from purgatory once she writes the perfect book (Day Trip to Durmitor), a woman who awakens with no memory before learning the truth about herself (Abby) to another meeting her clone (Asja 5.0).

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: The Hero Next Door

The Hero Next Door
Author: 
edited by Rhuday-Perkovich, Olugbemisola
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

The Hero Next Door is published as part of a partnership with We Need Diverse Books. It's a collection of short stories by 14 award-winning authors. It's a celebration of everyday heroes that make a difference in their worlds and challenges each of us to be a hero in our world. While every story may not speak to you, there's something in this book for each of us as we work to make the world a better place.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried book jacket
Author: 
O'Brien, Tim
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Things They Carried follows through the perspective of a soldier within the 23rd Infantry Division. Enlisted during the Vietnam War, the book covers over the soldier's, as well as the platoons experiences throughout. The Things They Carried is a collection of stories that correlate to one another, bringing an ultimate immersion to those that are interested of any war, or historical context.

The Things They Carried is a book that has a deeper insight within the emotional, mental, and physical state of the soldiers that went through the Vietnam War. Having a darker and more serious tone than other novels, it is one that stands out and deserves recognition.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Take it as a Compliment

Book Review: Take it as a Compliment book cover
Author: 
Stoian, Maria
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A graphic novel featuring true reports of sexual harassment and assault in its many forms. A really powerful, quick read. My only problem with it is I wish it was longer. I read it in about 30 minutes. I did like the format of graphic novel. It made it seem more lighthearted than it actually is, which further illustrates the darkness of the subject matter.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Assignment in Eternity

Assignment in Eternity
Author: 
Heinlein, Robert
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Back in college, my first introduction to Heinlein was Stranger in a Strange Land. I had to read this book for my “Science in Literature” course, and I found it moderately interesting. Since then, I’ve read other Heinlein books like Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but I didn’t realize how dedicated Heinlein was to some of his “supernatural” themes until I read Assignment in Eternity. Sure, most authors will have some concept or idea that they like to revisit. Still, the fact that a majority of Assignment in Eternity ’s included short stories deal in some way with “superhumans” must mean something.

The whole concept of ESP and “evolved” humans isn’t interesting to me since I don’t think there’s much that can be done with the concept. While Stranger in a Strange Land covered most of the bases, Assignment in Eternity doesn’t really expand the ideas any further. If anything, Stranger in a Strange Land was the culmination of Heinlein’s obsession with this topic. I think, in the end, the whole idea of telepathy and other mind powers isn’t science fiction as much as the ideas explored by Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov.

Because Heinlein could fill a book with short stories mostly centering on this theme speaks volumes about the overall topics in his writing. If you’re into this kind of story, then Assignment in Eternity is an excellent addition to the classic that is Stranger in a Strange Land. If anything, Heinlein is consistent in his style, even if it makes short stories like this somewhat repetitive to the other stories and books he’s written. Like other short story collections, I would have liked to see some more variety in what was presented here, but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.

More of the same Heinlein, just in smaller chunks, I give Assignment in Eternity 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Tales of Falling and Flying

Tales of Falling and Flying
Author: 
Loory, Ben
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is a compilation of short stories, which are filled with humorous tales and great short stories. I personally really liked this book because of how every story was a perfect duration. I often find it hard to commit to a book for more than a week, with this book, I was constantly entertained by the fun theme of all the stories. If you're looking for a great compilation of bed time stories, or just don't have the time to commit to a long chapter book, this book is perfect for you. If you are looking for one great story to start the adventure, my favorite was The Squid Who Fell in Love With The Sun.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: Messenger's Legacy

Messenger's Legacy
Author: 
Brett, Peter V.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In a series that’s full of exposition and backstory, I found it a little odd that these extraneous details weren’t relegated to side-story novellas so the plot of the main series of books could focus on the current action. What’s even more curious is that Messenger’s Legacy, a side-story novella in this series, doesn’t explore anything new or interesting that hadn’t already been covered in the main books. The only new information I learned in this novella was slightly more detail about bog and swamp demons, which seems unnecessary with all things considered.

Following somewhat minor characters from The Warded Man (who haven’t appeared in the series since), Messenger’s Legacy shows it is easier to survive in demon-infested nights than the series initially indicated. While I’m not sure if any of these details will come into play in the main-line books, it does help expand the world-building just a little bit more than if this story hadn’t been included at all. As always, the demon-infused action is exciting and a strength of the author’s writing.

I’m sure there are much more interesting backstories and side-stories to tell in this series, so it’s curious that this one was written about at all. I’d much rather read about the original Deliverer or the society that crumbled away in the desert (leaving behind powerful wards in the process). Sure, there’s some personality explored in this story that helps pull the reader back to less god-like individuals and their struggles against the demons. However, with so many more interesting stories to tell, I’d suggest that anyone reading this series can skip this novella and not miss anything important.

A curious side-story that doesn’t add anything to the series, I give Messenger’s Legacy 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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