I was predisposed to be charmed by these stories. Look at the cover artwork with the tiny princess having tea with the dragon! Look at all the story t...moreI was predisposed to be charmed by these stories. Look at the cover artwork with the tiny princess having tea with the dragon! Look at all the story titles about grumpy dragons and precious things! The stories themselves feel traditional and modern all at the same time, and Price's hand on the writing is sure and smooth and fun.
Five-year-old me would have demanded this book be read to her every night at bedtime.
Ten-year-old me would have pulled this out concurrently with volumes of Brothers Grimm and other folklores and sincerely try to read all of them at the same time.
Seventeen-year-old me would have stumbled upon this while reorganizing her bookshelves with a Huh, I remember this. and spent the next 30 minutes rereading it without a trace of shame.
I very much enjoy fairy tales and retellings and I'm fairly well-read in them, but despite George MacDonald being one of the classic names in that gen...moreI very much enjoy fairy tales and retellings and I'm fairly well-read in them, but despite George MacDonald being one of the classic names in that genre, I'd never read anything by him. His writings are openly acknowledged as having influenced the work of many authors I admire — C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, Madeline L'Engle, G.K. Chesterston, Mark Twain, et al. — so when I realized that Project Gutenberg has several of his out-of-copyright publications up for free access, I downloaded them once and prepped my ereader for some serious reading.
Unfortunately, all in all, I really would have rather left MacDonald entirely unread. He seems to be an author far too fond of his own voice. I found his fairy stories to be ponderous moral tales, which I'm sure are fine if you like that sort of stuff: I don't. The gender and race relations made me cringe, and the introduction of the Chinese buffoon characters of "Hum-Drum" and "Kopy-Keck" nearly made me stop reading then and there. In the entirely of "The Light Princess," I found one single passage I enjoyed:
The forests are very useful in delivering princes from their courtiers, like a sieve that keeps back the bran. Then the princes get away to follow their fortunes. In this they have the advantage of the princesses, who are forced to marry before they have a bit of fun. I wish our princesses got lost in a forest sometimes. [p. 15-16]
The character names in "The Giant's Heart" stopped me dead as well: Tricksy-Wee and Buffy-Bob, seriously? "The Golden Key" was better, but I didn't like the creepy, directly stated plot point that eating sentient fish was perfectly okay because the fish turn into angels afterward.
I can't speak for MacDonald's other publications, but The Light Princess and Other Fairy Stories was to me an example of Victorian literature at its worst. I need to go off and reread Wee Free Men as a palate clenser. Two stars.
Quote pulled from unknown edition. Three stories made up this edition: "The Light Princess," "The Giant's Heart", and "The Golden Key."
Radford is a capable writer. Her stories are imaginative and well crafted. And I genuinely don’t like any of them. I read about five of the stories in...moreRadford is a capable writer. Her stories are imaginative and well crafted. And I genuinely don’t like any of them. I read about five of the stories in this collection, and maybe two others from a previous anthology, and I actively disliked each one. The stories she tells just aren’t ones I want to hear. INYIM. YMMV. DNF. Two stars.(less)
Oh, ha ha, this was excellent. The stories are brilliantly creative along the one solid theme, and I really like the illustrations that accompanied ev...moreOh, ha ha, this was excellent. The stories are brilliantly creative along the one solid theme, and I really like the illustrations that accompanied every story. (I’d say I was charmed by the surprise of finding them here – I hadn’t realized there were to be illustrations at all – but ‘charmed’ isn’t a word that gracefully accompanies an anthology of this theme.) I finished it practically in one sitting. Five stars.
The stories in this collection are extraordinary, guttural and disturbing. Warrick plays each one to the weird, and the result is completely breathles...moreThe stories in this collection are extraordinary, guttural and disturbing. Warrick plays each one to the weird, and the result is completely breathless.
Four stars, possibly four and half. I haven't been this excited about a horror collection since finding Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts.
Well-presented anthology of illustrated (comic-book type) erotica with an LGBT focus. I liked the wide variety in the stories and thought most of the...moreWell-presented anthology of illustrated (comic-book type) erotica with an LGBT focus. I liked the wide variety in the stories and thought most of the artwork was top notch. I'm generally not a fan of manga-style art; there were few examples here.
For me, this was best read in small sections — every few stories I had to give myself a break from the sex. If this anthology is weakest at anything, it's in the inherent difficultly of having the last sex-focused story impact with the same success as the first. While I thought the stories were nearly universally good, every time my eyes started skipping over the explicit panels in search of dialogue I knew it was time to step away from the book.
I wavered between giving these three or four stars and eventually settled on four. It's not a keeper volume for my collection, but I suspect if I stumble on it again in the future I'll reread it because hey, sex. Recommended for fans of this genre and theme.
A slim, over-sized anthology of four short stories, illustrated, set in the worlds of Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Magic: The Gathering, and Eberron...moreA slim, over-sized anthology of four short stories, illustrated, set in the worlds of Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Magic: The Gathering, and Eberron. This would have been a better fit for me if I was fan of those series, but as it is I've never read anything from three of those four, and I've never heard of the fourth. These stories did not seem strong enough to stand on their individual merits and they frankly bored me. The illustrations were better, but they don't make the book worth owning. (I should have borrowed this from my local library.)
Two stars. Recommended only for fans of the companion series; prose-only anthologies like The Dragon Quintet recommended instead for more general dragon fans.(less)
Sullivan is a capable, passionate author, and once I got a grip on his disjointed narrative chapters I was completely swept away. Blood Horses was riv...moreSullivan is a capable, passionate author, and once I got a grip on his disjointed narrative chapters I was completely swept away. Blood Horses was riveting, but I don't think I'll feel the need to read it a second time.
Recommended to any with interest in thoroughbred racing, or with interest in father-and-son dynamics. Three and half stars, rounded up to four.(less)
**spoiler alert** I need to offer this book a bit of an apology, because I am not a fan of this subgenre. I typically read fantasy works, and in the o...more**spoiler alert** I need to offer this book a bit of an apology, because I am not a fan of this subgenre. I typically read fantasy works, and in the odd times I might read a romance novel they are nearly always of the historical flavor. Summer in Mossy Creek entered my radar solely because one of my favorite fantasy authors wrote one of the short stories featured here and, well, I'm a bit thorough in reading works by my favorites.
To read the works by my favorites, I have to first find them. While it was easy enough to locate a library copy of this book, the large-print edition I read didn't have a table of contents. The stories, when I got to them, didn't have titles — they had headings calling out which characters each story featured — and they didn't list authors. The only information telling me who wrote what story was tacked on as one of several appendices. I'm unsure if this formatting is common to collaborative novels, or large-print editions, or if it's a general quirk of the Mossy Creek series, but I didn't care for it. And while Summer was billed as a collaborative novel, it would be accurate to consider it a set of loosely collected short stories in a shared setting, each telling an independent tale and staring a different character, but sometimes characters may guest-feature across multiple stories.
The Anne Bishop story I was seeking turned out to be, "Laurie and Twiddle Dee." I found it surprisingly impactful and very well done. In summary, Laurie finds herself divorced and downsized out of a job in quick succession, but it's only when she receives an ominous medical diagnosis (cancer is implied) that she really puts effort in her intention to fulfill her heart's desire. Mossy Creek was intended to be a pit stop on a road trip, but once she arrived she never quite left. Tweedle Dee is her parakeet. But it's only when she befriends the local coffee shop inhabitants that she really starts developing her skills as a storyteller, and she finds she has just enough time left to leave the town one final gift.
It made me cry.
After I read Bishop's story, I went back to the beginning to read the novel the whole way through. Dixon's "Amos and Dog", the opening story, was the only one to mention events that fell in another story (Bishop's):
Fortunately, I didn't have to mention Clay to convince Casey I had troubles on my mind. Like Laurie Grey. New to town, an interesting woman and, according to Sandy, a woman who was more than a little ill with no support system in sight. [p. 60]
Which rather spoils Bishop's soft approach to that plot point, in my opinion.
Aside from Bishop's work, "Louise and Jack" by Carolyn McSparren, which told of a love affair that might have happened, in a different time and place, was the only other story I really enjoyed.
No matter how much we loved each other, Aunt and Miss Vergie felt those obstacles would have destroyed Jake and me in time. In the end, they prevailed.
Could we have made it? Lord knows.
But there are days like today when I wish to God we'd tried." [p. 250.]
Short stories structured around the loose theme of life and survival in lower social classes, that is, the beggar at the dregs of the futuristic socie...moreShort stories structured around the loose theme of life and survival in lower social classes, that is, the beggar at the dregs of the futuristic society, the healer magically tending the local slum, the hacker off-grid at the space station.
I really didn't enjoy this. One or two stories held my interest enough for me to completely read them, but I found the rest terribly dull and skimmed only their first couple pages. Not an anthology I'll seek out again. No stories or authors of particular merit. Still, it wasn't bad enough to earn just one star.(less)
**spoiler alert** A slender ebook of two vignettes that fill in a little back story from The Chocolatier's Wife and an excerpt of that novel. I unders...more**spoiler alert** A slender ebook of two vignettes that fill in a little back story from The Chocolatier's Wife and an excerpt of that novel. I understand that it was originally intended to be part of a free giveaway publication for promotion of that novel, but it's presently available for purchase at a nominal fee.
I would have liked this better if I had better understood exactly what I was buying. I hadn't realized initially that the excerpt was included in here, and it filled a large chunk of the ebook (35 of 79 pages, according to my ereader's pagination). Since I own the novel, purchasing a file that's nearly half content I already have was a little disappointing. I'd thought I was getting a journal of one or both characters or even some more of the letters they exchanged, ones that had never made it into the novel. I still kinda wish I'd had a opportunity to read that. But the vignettes actually included here are sweet.
William's "The Sea Witch" is the first one told. At 14 pages, it's the shorter of the two vignettes, and it fills in quite a large hole in William's back story — it explains why he has left the sea. The reason was hinted at throughout the novel, but the vignette explicitly spells out that William had a brush with someone unearthly whose voice he hears calling him to suicide. The longer he's at sea, the more tempting the voice is, and retiring to a land-based business is William's sensible precaution. Three pages of William's chocolate recipes follow the tale.
Tasmin's "Tasmin and the Sprites" was a less important vignette. At 15 pages, it details how Tamsin encountered and bound the air spirits so much a part of the novel. But it never seemed like vital story to me. William's story I understand the need for — it legitimately explained something I had already been wondering about — but this story of Tamsin's had already been aptly summarized within the novel, and I'm afraid I didn't have any curiosity left on the matter for this tale to satisfy. Four pages of Tamsin's herb simples follow the tale.
I liked the vignettes. As little extras, they were fun to read. And they weren't a bad buy if you consider you're basically tossing a dollar into a pot to support a new author. But I would have been a little happier if I'd read Amazon's sales page more closely before I'd purchased this. Three stars.(less)
Dark humor fantasy/horror in a fabulous rich setting of mythic ancient Egypt. My biggest beef was that these interconnected short stories are disjoint...moreDark humor fantasy/horror in a fabulous rich setting of mythic ancient Egypt. My biggest beef was that these interconnected short stories are disjointed and rather narrow in their scope. I think I would rather have read a novel about the character Kamose instead of these short stories, something where he's challenged, something where he actually struggles.
I kind of feel bad. The Knife and The Wound It Deals is getting really high reviews from every other reader, but I found it rather meh. The stories ar...moreI kind of feel bad. The Knife and The Wound It Deals is getting really high reviews from every other reader, but I found it rather meh. The stories are diverse and compelling, but I had a really hard time reading around the ARC's formatting issues. The text laid out on my ereader with a line break a few words into every second line, a handful of seemingly random words were given hyperlinks that lead nowhere, and changes in point of view or setting weren't given the slightest visual separation cue, even something as little as a new paragraph. Rather than falling immersed into Scully's stories, I spent my time paging back and forth trying to figure out if I was in a new scene or if someone new had entered a conversation.
Three stars. Scully is a writer worth following, and I suspect I would have been happier with her stories if I had encountered them in a more accommodating medium.
Note that I read an ARC PDF for this review and that the formatting issues that so bothered me might not feature in a finished copy.
I picked this up to dabble in some more of Proulx's stories. I had very much enjoyed the film versions of her Brokeback Mountain and The Shipping News...moreI picked this up to dabble in some more of Proulx's stories. I had very much enjoyed the film versions of her Brokeback Mountain and The Shipping News, although my enjoyment of the text stories was mixed, and the cover artwork of this book is gorgeous. I thought it would be a nice place to start reading a little more Proulx. And it probably is... I'm just not cut out to be a Proulx fan.
Two stars. Not to my taste. Best for fans of westerns.
Story summaries: (view spoiler)[The half-skinned steer — Old man drives around; probably dies.
The mud below — About rodeos.
Job history — Man worked hard his whole life; died trying.
The blood bay — Feels like a folktale, but Proulx's dry, dispassionate style takes the magic out for me.
People in hell just want a drink of water — In sum: Large, hardscrabble family rules the town. Local entitled boy sets his sights on the big city; returns broken to the arms of his parents. Boy flashes a neighbor; hardscrabble family gelds him for it; boy dies of the untreated wound. The end.
The bunchgrass edge of the world — Daughter inherits farm and takes advice from rusted talking tractor.
Pair of spurs — Man does not handle news of his divorce well.
A lonely coast — Explores some women's lives.
The governors of Wyoming — Terrible people trying to keep a ranch alive.
55 miles to the gas pump — Wife opens up husband's serial killer lair; two pages.
Brokeback Mountain — Haunting. But the movie is better. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)