short stories

Book Review: What’s in a Name? (Volume 1) by Sally Cronin

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What's in a Name?What’s in a Name? by Sally Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are many topics that will draw my attention to a book. In Sally Cronin’s collection ‘What’s in a name?’ I found a whole bunch that piqued my curiosity: short stories, genealogy, and how first names are chosen. On top of that, it’s the first volume in this series, which means I have another to read soon. Now this made my weekend!

Cronin shares ~20 short stories covering the letters A through J in volume one. She lists a male and a female name for each letter, then contributes a story ranging from five to ten pages each. Short, but not simple, and I mean that in a good way. Cronin packs an immense amount into each brief tale… whether it’s personality traits, complex plots, or comparisons between two people over different periods of time, I found everything from nuggets of glory to hilarious banter.

One of my favorite aspects of this work was the varying time frames, locations, and genres of each short story. Cronin deals with normal life events, everything from death to pregnancy, marriage to sickness. How she manages to pack such a punch with so many characters in so few pages is astonishing! I kinda want a sequel to cover what ends up happening to many of the people we’ve met.

If you’re looking for something fun, clever, and easy-to-digest in short samples, this is definitely for you. I recommend it for those interested in learning about how personalities sometime echo the name chosen for an individual… and perhaps vice versa. Kudos to the author for finding a new fan… and I’ll be reading volume two next month, so be prepared!

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Book Review: Off Center in the Attic by Mary Deal

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Off Center In The AtticOff Center In The Attic by Mary Deal

I’ve read all of Mary Deal’s novels at this point, except for two non-fiction ones that I’ll eventually dive into. Off Center In The Attic is a collection of ~40 short stories where the theme or characters are slightly askew or peculiar in a way that will entice and excite you. Some are just a few lines; others are ~15 pages. All are well-written and showcase her fantastic talent as a storyteller, author, and creator.

On the shorter side for a collection–ending up around ~125 pages in totality–you can devour these tales all in one sitting or over a few night before going to bed. A few frights, a few laughs, you’ll undoubtedly love some more than others because of a character’s description, the ingenious plot twist, or the clever and witty writing tone.

I recommend reading one of her novels first so you understand how strong of a writer she is, then hop to the short story collection so you can see the immense range of her work. Then hop back to her other books where you can travel the world and visit serial killers through her talented writing skills.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton

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Kinsey and Me: StoriesKinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up from the library last week thinking I’d never read it. Two stories it, I realized I had. So I’ll review what I can from memory.

If you’ve never read a Grafton before, it’s a good one to cut your teeth on. If you love the detailed mystery it will fall short. If you just like the character you’ll love it. I’m in the middle. So it gets a 3 star rating from me.

Good characters. Interesting backstory. Fun to learn about the author. I like the interaction at different parts or ages in Kinsey’s life.

Too easy to solve. Not long enough to get vested.

It is supposed to be this way tho. So I get it.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Dark Visions by Dan Alatorre (with Robbie Cheadle and others)

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Dark Visions: an anthology of 34 horror stories from 27 authors: Volume 2 (The Box Under The Bed)Dark Visions: an anthology of 34 horror stories from 27 authors: Volume 2 by Dan Alatorre (Author), Allison Maruska (Author), Jenifer Ruff (Author), Adele Marie Park (Author),

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Today launched an anthology of ~30 horror stories from multiple authors in a collection called Dark Visions, the second in the Box Under the Bed volume. Although it was edited / Arranged by Dan Alatorre, I was given a heads up by a blogger who I follow named Robbie Cheadle. Robbie and her son write children’s books for the Sir Chocolate series, which I’ve read and reviewed, as well as promoted on my blog — they are fantastic and deserve a lot of praise and attention. When Robbie mentioned she’d written a few darker stories, I jumped on it. I knew she’d written other works, but I wasn’t familiar with them. Now I am as she has two in this wonderful collection. As I skimmed the table of contents, I found 4 other authors who blog that I’ve followed over the last year. How fun is that!

I read all of the stories / poems. They range from 2 pages to about 20 pages, and the entire collection is probably around the 250 page mark. From light spooky stories to much darker, its range is strong and inviting. Nothing is so scary that you’ll run in fear, but there’s a lot beyond subtle to find tantalizing. I do like this type of fiction, so it was a good fit for me. There’s also hardly any gore (none I can actually remember, but taste in this subject can be subjective and personal). It’s more about pushing the envelope with the air of mystery, the hint of suspense, and the suggestion of something very bad or impacting occurring.

I won’t point out any favorites since there’s a lot to cover, but I will highlight Robbie’s pieces because I do think she deserves the attention. The first is called “The Haunting of William Cheadle” which makes you wonder… which family member is she trying to spook? An early line: ‘it’s sticky, like blood.’ There’s a housekeeper I pictured as a certain character from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca who keeps someone in line. It’s all covered in a fine dose of murky and sinister fog… which makes for a very eerie and cool story. The other, The Willow Tree, my favorite kind, involves a doctor… something found in a bag… the tree… and a lot more I can’t tell you! But it’s enough to make you want to read more from Cheadle in this genre.

So… if you’re looking for a few traditional and some non-traditional spooky stories, an opportunity to sample different writers and styles, or a collection of short works to read throughout the next few weeks when the nights get shorts and darker, the ghosts come out to haunt us, and the season turns rather chilly, you’ve found a great place to start!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Bloody Day in Destiny: Four Stories of the Wild West by Russ Towne

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Over the last year, I’ve read a few children’s books by Russ Towne and loved their strong lessons, vivid characters, and well-thought out settings. Then I noticed on his blog that he’d written a short collection of stories based on western adventures, A Bloody Day In Destiny: Four Stories of the Wild West: A Western Adventure. I snagged a copy (thank you!) and dove into it this week. What a remarkable thing to be able to write in a completely different genre but still offer the same wonderful appeal.

Of the four stories, I was most fond of the first, then the third one. All 4 were good, but the characters greatly appealed to me in these two legends. Between the fantastic western settings, the spot-on dialect, and the clever way to end with a wish the story could keep going on… Towne succeeded again. Unfortunately, he made me a tad upset that they were only short stories. I wanted to read more about the woman searching for a husband and/or for her own land, or the sheriff who may or may not have stolen a bank robber’s girl. Who are we supposed to trust? Way to keep us guessing!

Towne has a gift for creating characters you don’t want to forget or walk away from. I really hope he continues in this genre and shares more about the Old West… there’s quite a lot of history he could help convey to those who haven’t been exposed to it in the past. Kudos to a great leap into the genre… bring us more, please!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Funeral Platter Stories by Greg Ames

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When the publisher of Funeral Platter: Stories, written in 2017 by Greg Ames, reached out to me to offer an opportunity to read his collection of short stories, I was honored. I love when that happens, but I had so many in my queue to read, what’s a guy to do? I also am not a typical short story reader, but I agreed to read it in early 2018. I just finished it last night on a train ride from NYC to Long Island and gave it 3.5 stars.

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At ~250 pages, it’s a relatively short read I completed in about 2 1/2 hours. There are twenty short stories, ranging from 5 to 20 pages. Some of the content is more adult-oriented, but many are good for young adults, too. As is usual in a collection like this, many shined; a few fell flat. My favorites happen to be the first three: Chemistry, Discipline and The Life She’s Been Missing. In these, the narrator tells the story of couples or families interacting with one another — both the good and bad sides of life and relationships. He’s got a knack for diving right into the bizarre yet totally understandable moments we all face in life. And there are a few where we actually see ourselves as the main character, experiencing the absurdities life sometimes offers.

Quite humorous, very succinct in capturing character profiles. Although I wanted to hit, smack or kick some of the characters, they always made me react with a hearty laugh or a smirk and wink of at least one eye (two would be just weird). In Discipline, a teenager tries to convince his father that they should physically abuse a younger sister to teach her a lesson, but when that doesn’t work, he asks the sister if they should attack their father to teach him a lesson! It all ends with the son telling the family dog that he drew the unlucky straw and must be punished. Of course it’s humorous, so no need to be alarmed, as it was purely drawing on a minor detail of what the son was really trying to say about life. Same goes for the couple dating in Chemistry. At first, I thought… we’ve got a nasty mean girl and a cantankerous douche of a guy on a blind date. Slowly, I realized, they have been dating for a while and enjoy bashing one another as part of their foreplay. When it ends with them happily in love, you know I’m like “whaaaaaaaaaaaaatttt??????????????” but in the end, it really makes you laugh!

A few of the stories completely flew over my head. Perhaps I’m not that smart. Maybe you just need a certain kinda understanding about life. Nonetheless, I flipped the pages and ignored the ones I didn’t like. That’s how it should be… you can’t love everything, so enjoy what you can. The author’s style is good; it’s a fine balance of realistic humor coupled with extreme circumstances of situations. For instance… ‘Playing Ping Pong with Pontius Pilate’ — seriously, who would think of something like that? But if you read the story, you’ll get a good flavor of Ames’ tone. And when you get to the final one, trying to decide whether people did or did not die, you’ll find yourself confused and tantalized. But when they climb into the coffin together, your head will do a few new moves!

I look forward to reading more from him. He’s got that funky offbeat charm with a bit of old-school approach that reminded me a bit of the flavor you see in Kafka’s slice of life. Oh and by the way, there may or may not be a character named Kafka in one of the stories, too.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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Review: A Woman’s Eye

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A Woman's Eye Book Review
3.5 out of 5 stars to A Woman’s Eye, a collection of short stories published in 2001 by Sara Paretsky. What’s great about this anthology is it contains short stories from 20+ female crime writers in the 1990s / 2000s. It’s a fantastic way to expose yourself to new authors, styles and characters. For instance, Sue Grafton has a short story with Kinsey Millhone. If you read it, you’ll know whether you may or may not like her full series. Always worth taking a chance on books like this as you get see a quick version of a style before you buy an entire book. Paretsky had a few of these over the years, but this one was by far my favorite. I found 2 new authors from it and started their series, too. Some are not series, also. Give this one a shot.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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