Let Me Tell You seems to be more for Shirley Jackson fans than any other reader. It's more for those readers who already know they love her work and tLet Me Tell You seems to be more for Shirley Jackson fans than any other reader. It's more for those readers who already know they love her work and therefore want to read anything and everything she's ever written. Am I a Shirley Jackson fan? I don't think so. Not yet anyway. Mainly because the only novel of hers I've read is The Haunting of Hill House (which I love and is one of my favorite novels ever and definitely my favorite horror novel) and The Lottery (which I also loved). I think instead of having read this short-story collection first, I should have probably tried out some of her other well-known short stories.
Let Me Tell You is pretty much your standard short story collection...or rather standard when it comes to me (a person who isn't a big fan of short stories). You have some great ones (particularly Paranoia), some duds, but mainly some short stories that have a creepy sort of feel to them, but also leave you scratching your head wondering what the hell just happened. I was actually more into the essays included as opposed to the short stories. I particularly liked The Play's the Thing. The drawings included in Let Me Tell You were also very interesting.
In the end, I thought Let Me Tell You was okay. If you're a huge Shirley Jackson fan, whose read all of her work, and are just bursting at the seams to read more, then this is the book for you. If you're a newer fan or someone who just wants to read some of Shirley Jackson's works, I suggest you go either for her novels, or some of her more famous short story collections....more
So, I am a Christmas freak! I love everything about Christmas...except the Christmas stories. Despite my infatuation with ALL of the Christmas movies,So, I am a Christmas freak! I love everything about Christmas...except the Christmas stories. Despite my infatuation with ALL of the Christmas movies, I was just never into the saccharine reads that the books always end up being. I'm also not that into short story compilations. But this was a YOUNG ADULT, Christmas, short story compilation with stories written by heralded YA novelists. I, at the very least, had to try it out! And I have to say that I was not disappointed at all! A few of these I really loved, a lot more I liked. There weren't any I actively disliked, but there were some I wasn't wowed by. But for the most part, this Christmas, short story compilation was actually pretty damn great!
Midnights-Rainbow Rowell - Besides Midnights, the only other Rainbow Rowell in my repertoire is Fangirl (which I love and adore and would totally procreate with if I could, if it wasn't so weird). So, all I was thinking while reading Midnights was "Rainbow Rowell is a goddess and should write every book in the world from now on". Loved it!
The Lady and the Fox-Kelly Link - This was one of the ones that I wasn't wowed by. It was just so very weird and I think I just didn't quite get it.
Angels in the Snow-Matt De La Pena - I can't usually get into the guy-narrated YA, so I tend to avoid it like the plague. But I was utterly wowed by Angels in the Snow. I loved Shy! I just wanted to give him a big ole' hug and heaps of food (more likely takeout cause I can't cook worth a damn). This was one of the stories that I want a full length novel of. I'm dying to know what happened after the holidays!
Polaris is Where You'll Find Me-Jenny Han - I liked this one. This is what I usually think when I think of the holidays: Santa, elves, toys. Extremely interesting premise.
It's a Yuletide Christmas, Charlie Brown-Stephanie Perkins - Okay, please don't throw stones, but I wasn't wowed by this one. I've never read anything by Perkins before (even though all of her books are in my TBR), but I keep hearing wonderful things about her. So I was anticipating this story more than all of the others. I think that anticipation killed it for me. I liked It's a Yuletide Christmas all right, but when I finished, I couldn't help but think "That's it?" Sigh.
Your Temporary Santa-David Leviathan - This is another one that I'm in like with. I liked the LGBT relationship and despite the shortness of this short story, I found my heart breaking for the characters. So I still categorize this one as a win.
Krampuslauf-Holly Black - Another somewhat weird one that I didn't quite get. But alas, this is my relationship with all of Holly Black's books so it wasn't entirely surprising.
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?-Gayle Foreman - This was another one I fangirled over. It was sweet, but not overly so. I loved Sophie and Russell and their interactions just left me with a smile on my face.
Beer Buckets and Baby Beer-Myra McEntire - Nothing bad about this one. I liked it enough, but wasn't terribly impressed by it.
Welcome to Christmas, CA-Kiersten White - And the fangirling commences! Welcome to Christmas, CA had it ALL! Intriguing main characters, intriguing supporting characters, a kick-ass premise in Ben, and familial angst. And it was all resolved so beautifully!
Star of Bethlehem-Ally Carter - This is one of those stories that I wish was longer because it just felt rushed. I just didn't see how all the characters developed this affection towards the MC so quickly. It just feels like an outline of a full novel as opposed to a full fledged short story.
The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer-Laini Taylor - So as a Laini Taylor virgin, I immediately noticed the beautiful writing in this story. Unfortunately (for me, anyway), this story was tacked on to the back. And by the time I got to it, I was so exhausted of reading the same book for weeks (not the book's fault at all, I just haven't had much time for pleasure reading) that I don't feel I gave it as much appreciation as I would have had I read this book earlier. However, I've definitely moved Taylor's books 100 spaces up in Mt. TBR.
tl;dr - You HAVE to read: Midnights, Angels in the Snow, What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth, and Welcome to Christmas, CA.
While I own quite a few short story compilations, I don't read them too often. I just have a bit of trouble getting into them. The biggest problem thaWhile I own quite a few short story compilations, I don't read them too often. I just have a bit of trouble getting into them. The biggest problem that I tend to have is that a lot of the time, the stories in the compilation are so long that I start to think "Dude, if I wanted to read a novel, I would've picked one up!". However, A City of Ghosts: Stories seemed to be the complete opposite and that turned me off a bit, too.
In a perfect world, short story compilations would be neither too long nor too short. They'd be the perfect size. The stories in A City of Ghosts: Stories were short. And I'm not talking about regular short story short. I'm talking "half the length of regular short stories" short. It felt like once I really started to get into the meat of the short story, it was over. Also, for me, if the the stories are too short, it makes it harder for them to leave a lasting impression. And only a few of them in this compilation left a lasting impression.
The stories that the writer excelled brilliantly at were the haunted house stories. Now, these while extremely short, left a chill down my spine, while one particular one did that while simultaneously making me laugh because of the reactions of the characters. There were some heartwarming ones (I'm going to suck at the titles for a moment since there were so many stories packed in 215 pages and tons of titles) like the one about the waitress in the mirror. Or the ones about ghosts helping people and the people helping the ghosts (one particular ghost story had a young man find the soul of a ghost who was beaten to death by his father). So, there were a few gems in this compilation.
However, there were a couple of stories where I was left thinking "What was the point of that one. It was neither sweet nor scary". Or some other ones that I just felt were semi-boring. I felt like most of the stories in A City of Ghosts were just okay. You had mostly okay with a smattering of gems and a smidge of clunkers. However, I do think this is an okay to pretty good Halloween read. So, I do recommend it.
Ahh, vampires! Seriously, who doesn't love them? They have this alluring sensuality to them. Either that or they're down-right vicious. Needless to saAhh, vampires! Seriously, who doesn't love them? They have this alluring sensuality to them. Either that or they're down-right vicious. Needless to say, that the vampire has undergone a transformation as of late. They are no longer that alluring (to me anyway) and definitely not vicious. Not only have the Twilight books skewed the vision of the brutal and vicious vampire, it has made them sparkle. This is atrocious. Vampires aren't supposed to sparkle! They're supposed to kill you or turn you. Not walk along professing their "love" for a mortal. (Although, Edward was controlling as old-fashioned vampires are, so there's that). It's not only the Twilight series which has changed the vampire. Buffy (as much as I loved the show), took the award for the most angsty vampire with Angel. Whoever heard of a vampire with a soul before that? Then, they go and give awesomely vicious and brutal Spike a soul, too! Gah! But I'm happy to say that Dracula's Guest takes us back to the glory days where vampires were evil, not pretty boys with angst to rival that of teenage girls.
So, okay, these vampires aren't like those vampires in the film 30 Days of Night (weren't those vampires just scary as all hell?), but they're still pretty creepy. Dracula's Guest is an anthology of classic, victorian, vampire stories. Granted, I haven't read every single story, yet (I like to dip into short stories rather than read them in one go), but I've read more than half of them and most of them are pretty damn great. At first I thought I'd have trouble reading these stories since they are classics and those are sometimes pretty dry, but they ended up being page-turners. So much that I ended up reading way into the night without realizing it and then had to watch Andy Richter Controls the Universe to get vampire thoughts out of my head (which didn't really work considering that as soon as I was drifting off, my smoke alarm went off, for no apparent reason, and I jumped up and looked out the window to make sure there wasn't a creepy, pallid, face peering into mine. There wasn't, FYI).
I have to say that my favorites (so far) have to be The Family of Vourdalak by Alexsei Tolstoy and Wake Not the Dead by Johann Ludwig Tieck. The first just has the creepiest vampire who would look into his family's windows with a, you guessed it, creepy, pallid, face. Wake Not the Dead had the most vicious, manipulative, and FEMALE vampire. Add in numerous people telling the douche-bag husband "wake not the dead" and you have a story that's all types of win. Plus, there are numerous "true stories" that just really make the anthology not only scary, but interesting because you get to see what vampire customs (the garlic, the whole "they must be welcomed in" theory, etc.) started where or how they started.
So, again, while I haven't finished every single story in Dracula's Guest, the good ones seem to outweight the clunkers from what I have read. And I for one rejoice in the return of the viciousness of vampires. The angsty ones can just take a hike and take there melodramatic and pathetic girlfriends with them.
Edited to add that I actually finished the whole anthology today (a mere day after submitting my partial review; so much for dipping into it occasionally) and while I liked the first half better than the second half, I still think that the four star rating should stand. The stories that I thought were particular gems were What Was It? (Though not really a vampire story, I just thought it was weird and bizzare), Good Lady Ducayne (while not scary at all, it really was interesting and I liked that there were parallels between this story and the Elizabeth Bathory history), and And the Creature Came In (I don't know what it is with vampires and windows, but I don't think I'll ever look out the window with a sense of comfort ever again). I didn't really find any stories that I clicked with in Part III, but I think that's because there were only four of them while there were more in the previous parts. But still really great anthology and I have no doubt that I'll re-read my favorites when Halloween rolls around.