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Scouting for the Reaper

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  330 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Each of the characters in Scouting for the Reaper faces an unanticipated challenge: transporting a truckload of penguins across the country, arranging a proper Jewish burial for the remains of Gregor Samsa, selling tombstones dressed as a Girl Scout. These stories explore the domestic and professional adventures of people in over their heads, while leavening their struggle ...more
Paperback, 185 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Black Lawrence Press (first published November 12th 2013)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  330 ratings  ·  208 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Scouting The Reaper", is a terrific collection of 8 short stories. I love Jacob's physical I did buy this one.
I've written a number of reviews about how I feel about Jacob's stories -- I LOVE THEM!
In this review -- I'll share a few excepts - without spoiling anything. I just noticed this book is on sale - Kindle download - for 99 cents. I paid much more for the book. 99 cents is a bargain!

The first story in this collection is called: "Choose Your Own Genetics"....
I liked that the eight stories in this collection are slightly longer - 20-plus pages - than many I've been reading lately. You really get to know the characters and the worlds they inhabit. Appel writes in many different voices, both male and female, young and old, but the predominant theme seems to be longing and loneliness.

--A precocious girl's self-administered blood test during biology class leaves her questioning her ancestry and opens a whole can of nasty worms when she brings the matter
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: 'I want to say something,' I said.

They both looked up. They seemed surprised that I was still in the room.

'What's wrong, honey, ' said my mother. 'You aren't getting sick, are you?'

She crossed the kitchen and felt my brow with the back of a chilly hand. I pulled my head away. 'She feels warm to me, Gordon,' said my mother.

'I have type-B blood, ' I announced.

My mother tried to feel my brow again but I wouldn't let her. 'I think she's coming down with something.'

'You're not listeningt
Rebecca McNutt
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those uncommonly-fantastic books that has something for everyone in its pages. Scouting for the Reaper is a collection of varied stories, some cheerful and uplifting, some bizarre and strange, and some that simply inspire readers to think of things that don't normally cross their mind. Written with definite originality, creativity and wit, this is a book that every reader should have a look at. Each story is different, and like a museum of curious and mysterious exhibits, it's som ...more
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this collection of short stories.

I hate reviewing story collections, so I'll just say they are good and you should read them.

My one complaint? I figured out that all of the pictures on the cover correspond to a story in the collection. 8 pictures, 8 stories.... but I could not figure out which picture could correspond with the story about the widow and the accountant. And two of the pictures seem to correspond to the first story in the collection.

This is going to keep me up at n
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I give this 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.

This was another solid collection of short stories by Appel and I enjoyed all of the stories. Once again I loved how creative the stories were and how interesting the characters were. I don't know how he comes up with them but I love it!
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: compilations
This is another fascinating compilation of eight varied stories. They are interesting and entertaining. I love the variety Jacob M. Appel provides in his compilation books. He has such a unique perspective and it comes through in every story.

I can recommend this book to anyone that likes unusual and original short stories. They are great. I got a copy of this book for my son. He is reading it now and so far he is loving it as much as I did.

I love short stories and Jacob Appel has come up with quite a list. I understand that Jacob is a psychiatrist and makes a living getting into peoples’ heads. Well, Jacob, I would like to get into YOUR head. Where did you come up with the ideas for these stories?? They are QUITE entertaining and original, at least to me.

Here are the seven stories with, hopefully, no spoilers. Just enough to get you interested.

Choose Your Own Genetics
A 14 year old whose father is a genetics professor knows more
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, 2014, recs
Scouting for the Reaper was one of the most gripping collections of short stories that I've ever gotten to read. Each story caught my attention completely, giving me a chance to not only read about the characters, but start to understand their motivations in a way that is very rare in mainstream literature these days.

The back cover reads, "Jacob Appel's stories echo with secrets. There are the secrets we keep from those closest to us, of course... throughout this fine collection he is concerned
Paul Harmon
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, fiction
This Was a First Reads Book

Scouting for the Reaper by Jacob M. Appel is a far cry from my usual reads. While I read a bit of everything from History and Science to Sci-Fi and Fantasy my favored fare usually involve something with more action and violence.

Scouting for the Reaper is a collection of eight short stories that gave me flashes of reading Garrison Keillor, Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine or other pieces of literary work that ooze with real life people experiencing the moments that will co
Robert Blumenthal
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although not as compelling as Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets (what could be?), I still thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories. Jacob is a fine writer and should be better known, IMHO. These stories deal with real people experiencing real events (except for the Kafkian final story). The first few deal with young, mostly unrequited love, the later stories deal more with older individuals. My particular favorite dealt with an older woman whose husband has died who nee ...more
Betsy Robinson
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
First, I love the cover of this book — not just the front, but a sneaky little surprise on the spine! Unusual, stark, surprising, and inviting — similar to the stories which are so diverse I wonder how Appel became such an expert in so many venues.

The first three stories are from the point of view of teenagers (a boy and two girls, convincingly written) and felt like Y.A. literature. Since I prefer an older point of view, I was ready to put this book down; the stories are good, but I assumed I
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Denise by: 137
Full disclosure: I won this volume of short stories as a goodreads giveaway, but hat in no way affects this review.

This, the third collection of short stories I've read by Jacob Appel, is another winner! His characters and scenarios are so true-to-life that the stories are really very poignant and enjoyable. I loved the other two collections, too, and look forward to more of his slightly quirky, unusual, but excellent writing!
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Scouting For The Reaper is a Hudson Prize winning collection of 8 short stories authored by Jacob M. Appel. Many thanks to Black Lawrence Press for the ARC for the purpose of this review.

Among the first noticeable things of this astonishing story collection is how original and true to life of the story themes and characters of each finely detailed story. The first three stories feature coming-of-age teens: in "Choose Your Own Genetics" Natalie discovers her physician father would rather blame ou
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a generous gift from an unknown author. I am terribly remiss in taking so long  to get my review up.
When the book arrived I was in the midst of an eclectic group of books, including a collection of short stories by Stephen King. Usually I would wait and not mix two books of short stories, but these seemed compatible, so I broke my rule. And I'm glad. 
This collection of short stories held its own against some of the best Stephen King short stories I've had the pleasure to read. T
Jolene Dretzka
I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.

This author is truly well educated & has a fine grasp on the English language. While there was nothing grammatically wrong with this small tome of short stories, I felt the stories lacked a certain something that was needed to grab my attention & keep it. I would also have to say that while there was a theme to this book, that theme wasn't Scouting for the Reaper (that's just the name of one of the short stories within the book). The t
H.M. Jones
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Jacob Appel is just a stunning voice in contemporary fiction. His short stories are full, complex and extremely unsettling, like a lot of his work. The near misses, the unanswered questions and the representation of human fallibility and insecurity make this collection wonderful to read. Thanks, again, Appel, for amusing me and making me uncomfortable at the same time.
Elite Indie
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Appel never ceases to keep me reading until late into the night, but not because his books are fast paced thrillers or paranormal wonders. No, Appel deals in the ordinary American existence, and he does so beautifully. Appel writes characters who are selfish and self conscious, lonely and searching, in love or looking for love or lusting: he writes the human experience in a way that keeps readers invested in the everyday pitfalls, woes, traumas, anguish and relationships of people with which the ...more
Tony Parsons
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Choose Your Own Genetics my favorite.

Georgia Natalie Stanley (23) was the 9th grade Biology/Science teacher at Commodore Perry in Creve Coeur, RI. Natalie Limberg (Louise, 9th grader) goes to school there. Her family is: Dr. Gordon (Charlie, Charles) Limberg (father, electrician), Jeanne Limeberg (mother, Gwen) Katie Limberg (sister/daughter) & Wade Limberg (brother/son).

Other students are: Jonah Driscoll (9th grader), Shorty Foust (9th grader), Becky Timms (9th grader), Zach Dorsey (9th g
Darlene Cruz
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great reading:) As I finished one story I was left hanging, I have a wild imagination so I was hoping for more. I know short stories will leave you baffled and that's it! Each story left me either mad, or wondering what the hell. Not due to the writing of this author but the story itself, for instance Natalia and Lucien, I was caught off guard on that one. Another story Natalie aka Louise and her blood type episode, I wish it went on I wanted to know more, but it have to wait another day. A blin ...more
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I'm a Jacob M. Appel fan, so have read other short story collections of his before this one. I loved this one just as much as the others. Appel's writing is very character driven with an underlying theme of melancholy in each of the stories. Some are absurd, some are funny, some are sad, but all of them are interesting.

If you love short stories, don't miss this collection of them. If you are looking for an introduc
Christopher Roblodowski
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of receiving this book from the author. This is the second book that I have read from Jason Appel. The first, "The Biology of Luck, " is a novel that offers a fresh take on the current dating scene and is a favorite of mine. "Scouting for the reaper" is a well balanced collection of short stories that will entertain while allowing the reader to make up their own mind about what happens to the characters after the stories are over. My favorites were "The extinction of Fairy tal ...more
Brad Thornton
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've never gotten into short stories, but after winning this book in a Goodreads giveaway, I figured I'd give it a shot.

I thoroughly enjoyed Appel's writing style. The stories engaged me enough that it was tough to put the book down after starting one.

My only complaint was a couple of the stories seemed to have very rushed endings. I got into the characters and story line, and just as it was getting exciting, one paragraph would end the story abruptly. Again, I only felt this way about two of
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Received this book from Goodreads giveaway.

This excellent book from Jacob M.Appel is a collection of short stories. Each narrative has a somewhat satisfying ending that hangs, much like his novel The Biology of Luck. While frustrating, it is important to realize that, by doing so, these different stories hold power over us. They very much mirror our reality: we do not know the future, so how can we say for sure how one specific story ends?

Highly recommend this!
World Literature Today
"After reading so much contemporary fiction that is fretful, laboring in the shadow of modernist complexity or postmodern minimalism, there is solace in reading stories that beckon one into the lives of characters in situations that naturally evolve from satisfying plots." - W. M. Hagen, Oklahoma Baptist University

This book was reviewed in the January 2015 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our website:
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book from the good reads wins. I like the short stories very much. This is the first time that I have read a complete book of short stories. They al amde me sit and try to guess the outcome of the story. THe stories kept you interested in them. Very interesting characters
My 2 favorite were the ones that met their fate. The electrician who got electuted and the old lady who did not want anyone else to mow her lawn.
Great stories.
Laddie Tabor
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is another outstanding piece of work by Jacob Appel. This is my 3rd book of his and I have two more ready to go: "The Biology of Luck" and waiting for the release of "The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up". I have truly become an Appel fan. His short stories are well written and all contain, though sometimes well hidden, a fairly significant point. Life is full of issues and he lays his stories out to tell the tale!
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another winner by Appel. If I had to choose a favorite from the 8 stories in this book, I'd have a hard time. I wonder why Mr. Appel chose 'Scouting for the reaper' as the title. I felt specially moved by 'The extinction of Fairy tale'. I love the unfolding of secrets in the stories which doesn't result in tangible resolution. I'd definitely read them all again.
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: interesting
This was a great set of stories the author really knows how to write short story with messages in them. I thoroughly enjoy this book I recommend this book to everyone. Thank you this was a Good reads Win.
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Goodreads is taunting me 3 12 Jun 21, 2015 09:55PM  
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**Please note: A limited number of complimentary electronic copies of several of my books are available for review. Please email me directly if you are interested**

Jacob M. Appel's first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has published short fiction in more than tw
“Nothing spices up one's sex life like having a partner.” 8 likes
“Nothing sells tombstones like a Girl Scout in uniform.” 7 likes
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