I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
If you are looking for a haunting story, this Halloween, these short stories are this and much more. All fall into the horror genre with a fusion of sub-genres most notably mystery and paranormal. They are impactful and vividly written like most horror heavy on sensual imagery and light on plot complexity.
They explore the gamut of human depravity and emotions and the external evil they fear and worship. Both contemporary and historical the characters are well written, and the stories are atmospheric. The collection is diverse and quick to read, although some need closer reading for a fuller understanding.
Born in South Wales, Lee Allen was writing from a young age, developing his fascination with mystery, thrillers and the supernatural.
His debut novel, Those Crimes of Passion, a crime thriller, was published in 2012. He followed this with the novella Alone, a supernatural mystery, in 2014; and a second novella, The Jack O’Lantern Men, a horror chiller, in 2015.
His short story collection, Whispers from the Dead of Night, a hybrid of horror and multiple sub-genres, was published in early 2020, preceded by downloads of two of the stories: A Deathly Shade of Pale, at Hallowe’en 2019; and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, at Christmas 2019.
He is currently working on several future projects, including his second full-length novel.
Vintage Crimes will be a CWA anthology with a difference, celebrating members work over the years. The book will gather stories from the mid-1950s until the twenty-first century by great names of the past, great names of the present together with a few hidden treasures by less familiar writers. The first CWA anthology, Butcher s Dozen, appeared in 1956, and was co-edited by Julian Symons, Michael Gilbert, and Josephine Bell. The anthology has been edited by Martin Edwards since 1996, and has yielded many award-winning and nominated stories in the UK and overseas.
This new edition includes an array of incredible and award-winning authors: Robert Barnard, Simon Brett, Liza Cody, Mat Coward, John Dickson Carr, Marjorie Eccles, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Anthea Fraser, Celia Fremlin, Frances Fyfield, Michael Gilbert, Paula Gosling, Lesley Grant-Adamson, HRF Keating, Bill Knox, Peter Lovesey, Mick Herron, Michael Z. Lewin, Susan Moody, Julian Symons and Andrew Taylor.
I received a copy of this book from Flame Tree Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Crime Fiction is a genre where short stories work well, and this anthology of classic vintage style stories is proof. The book features a range of crime stories, some genuinely vintage others written by contemporary writers. It’s a book you can dip in and out of which is lovely.
Setting and characters are important in short stories, and there are some great examples of both in these stories. Some stories are atmospheric with a hint of menace, whilst others have strange endings.
The varied plots mean this book will appeal to many readers who enjoy classic crime and mystery fiction. The one’s I enjoyed most used sensory imagery well and made imagining the events easy.
Martin Edwards (editor) is the author of eighteen novels, including the Lake District Mysteries,and the Harry Devlin series. His ground-breaking genre study The Golden Age of Murder has won the Edgar, Agatha,and H.R.F. Keating awards. He has edited twenty eightcrime anthologies, has won the CWA Short Story Dagger and the CWA Margery Allingham Prize,and is series consultant for the BritishLibrary’s Crime Classics.
Sometimes in Bath is a captivating story-tour through the city’s history conducted by Charles Nevin, the award-winning journalist, national newspaper columnist, author and humorist.
Beau Nash, Old King Bladud, young Horatio Nelson, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet, the Emperor Haile Selassie and many more spring to life in episodes shimmering with the curious magic of Britain’s oldest resort and premier purveyor of good health, happiness and romance for the last 2000 years.
Each story has an afterword distinguishing the fiction from fact, adding enthralling historical detail – and giving visitors useful links to Bath’s many sights and fascinations Sometimes in Bath is warm, witty, wistful and will be loved by all who come to and from this most enchanting and enchanted of cities.
How do you like your historical fiction? Romantic, an exciting escape into the consolations of the beguiling past? Realistic and instructive as well as entertaining? Or all of that?
I’m all for the all-in approach. And I have a great weakness for a touch of humour being thrown into the mix. Which is why one of my very favourite pieces of historical fiction is the marvellous ‘No Bed For Bacon,’ by Caryl Brahms and S J Simon, a wonderfully entertaining re-telling of Shakespeare and his life which clearly inspired the Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love of Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench fame.
So when I moved to Somerset and fell under that old Bath magic of healing waters, mythic origins, Roman bathing, Georgian larks and the finest cast list ever encountered of charmers, chancers, characters and charlatans, I didn’t need much encouragement to set them down in a series of stories set throughout this richest of histories. Step forward, to name but a few, Bladud, mythical founder and wannabe aviator; a Roman governor with gout; Alfred the Great; Sir John Harington, Elizabethan inventor of the water closet; Beau Nash, Georgian master of its revels; Dr Johnson; Horatio Nelson; Charles Dickens; the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, in Bath in exile; and, oh, yes, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
Thus, Sometimes In Bath; which was tremendous fun, and is, I hope tremendous fun, a happy canter through the city’s history, with some balancing poignancy and wistfulness mixed in.
But possibly not that realistic, which presented me with a problem. A career as a journalist entails many things: and one of them (believe it or not) is a compulsion to establish fact and differentiate it from the speculative and the unfounded. I’m one of those sad people who cannot watch any drama ‘based on’ historical events and characters without afterwards rushing to Wiki to find out how based and how true.
So how to combine this with my flights of Bath fantasy? Just expect readers to do their own research? That seemed a little unmannerly, a touch unfriendly, somehow ungenerous, mean.
The solution I hit upon was to follow each story with an afterword explaining what was fact and what was my invention. And, further, to set the story in its historical context.
This has the added benefit of building up a history of the great city chapter by chapter, with an interesting further dash of fascinating fact and anecdote. So you will learn of the theories of Bath’s great architect, John Wood, on magic and druids, and the significance of the layout of his crescent, circus and square, of the mysterious symbols decorating his buildings; of the origin of the Bath Bun and the end of the noted Bath dandy highwayman, Sixteen String Jack Rann; of how the great Roman bath was rediscovered in Victorian times; of John Betjeman and his fight to save fine Bath buildings, and the truth behind his famous poem, “In A Bath Teashop”; of how Haile Selassie regained his Ethiopian throne in a remarkable campaign of the Second World War; and of the city’s great goddess, Sul, begged in writing on little lead tablets by many a citizen in the time of Rome to curse thieves and vagabonds.
You will learn, too, where to see those tablets and find other places and features mentioned in the book: a veritable cornucopia of Bath, compiled with love and fascination and imagination, and written, as I say in the dedication, for all those come to and from the city. And why not you?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Bath holds a fascination for so many people, even those who have only passed through it. There is a wealth of history, coupled with colourful historical and literary characters embodied in this city. This book, captures many of them, in a humorous, knowledgeable way.
The characters, real or imaginary, are brought to life with astute observation and wit. The engagingly visual descriptions make imagining the characters and settings effortless. Each story completes with a narrative on the fact and fiction and where further historical knowledge is available.
This book is a delightfully different literary adventure to the ancient city of Bath.
Charles Nevin has written for, among others, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times, and the New York Times. Sometimes in Bath is his second book of fiction following Lost in the Wash with Other Things, a collection of short stories. He has also published three books of non-fiction – Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love, a paean to the neglected romance of his native county; The Book of Jacks, a history and lexicon of the name, and So Long Our Home, a history of Knowsley Road, the famous old ground of St Helens Rugby Football Club. Charles lives in an old watermill near Bath, which is ideally placed for his forays into the enchanting city.
Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes. His years as a police officer serve him well as he teases the truth from simple observation, now brought into the English language in a masterful translation by Alex Woodend. The stories include Two Lives, Attic, Spring, Bach, Predator.
I received a copy of this book from Flame Tree Press in return for an honest review.
A collection of literary fiction short stories, set in China and translated from Chinese. The collection focuses on crime and darker aspects of life and love. The unique and well-written stories explore Chinese society and the complexity of its individuals.
Crime features in most of the stories. The author’s knowledge of forensic science colours many of the stories, which are often explicit and graphic. Descriptions of violence and its results make some of the stories closer to horror fiction, but the underlying theme is, what people as individuals and en masse are capable of, given the right provocation.
The stories give the reader a sense of life in China. Like all short stories, some are easier to relate to than others, but if you are looking for something different, and can accept graphic descriptions, this is worth reading.
A Yi (author) is a celebrated Chinese writer living in Beijing. He worked as a police officer before becoming editor-in- chief of Chutzpah, an avant garde literary magazine. He is the author of several collections of short stories and has published fiction in Granta and the Guardian. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the People’s Literature Top 20 Literary Giants of the Future. A Perfect Crime, his first book in English was published by Oneworld in 2015. He is noted for his unsentimental worldview, and challenging literary style.
Alex Woodend (Translator) is a writer/translator whose fascination with Spanish and Chinese began at Franklin & Marshall College. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he wrote his Masters on early post-Mao literature. Translator of The Captain Riley Adventures , Murder in Dragon City, and other works, he currently lives in New York.
From a Tang Dynasty legend of a young girl trained as an assassin with the ability to skip between dimensions on a secluded mountain sanctuary to a space colony called Nova Pacifica that reflects on a post-apocalyptic world of the American Empire and ‘Moonwalker’ Neil Armstrong, award-winning author Ken Liu’s writings are laced with depictions of silkpunk fantasy, Sci-Fi and old Chinese folklore, wrapped up in a mesmerising genre-bending collection of short stories.
Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This much-anticipated collection includes a selection of his latest science ﬁction and fantasy stories over the last ﬁve years – sixteen of his best – plus a new novelette. In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, The Veiled Throne.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.
Science-fiction and fantasy are not my favourite genres. Science-fiction is often too abstract and difficult for me to engage with. Fantasy, such a personal concept. If you don’t appreciate, what the author is trying to convey, it’s hard to enjoy.
Despite, this I was asked to review this book. I enjoy reading short stories, and I am always willing to read the work of authors I am unfamiliar with, so I agreed. I didn’t read this book cover to cover, it’s a book that you can dip into when you’re looking for something different to read.
Not surprisingly, I find some of the concepts in the science-fiction stories challenging, but the underlying themes of the dangers technology present for humanity, as well as its benefits, is something I understand. The idea that if technological advance continues at the rate it grew in the late twentieth century, and this century, to date, humanity, as we know it, may be lost. Which is disturbing for anyone who values the diversity and fallibility of humans. Many of the stories are dark, they offer little hope, but when you look around the world you live in, you can see where the inspiration for these stories comes from.
The fantasy stories, of which the title story is one, were easier for me to understand. They are strange and reminiscent of stories passed down through the generations in all cultures. I like these. The quality of the writing, the imagery and the detail are beautiful, as is the physical book and cover.
This is a book that can be read many times, and the reader will see something in the text that they missed before. An interesting experience, that I will enjoy again. Recommended for lovers of fantasy and science fiction, and those, like me who like to read something original and challenging.
Ken Liu is an American speculative fiction writer and the winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy, Sidewise, and Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards. The son of a pharmaceutical chemist and a computer engineer, Ken emigrated to the US with his mother and father at the age of 11. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in English Literature and Computer Science and later attended Harvard Law School.
Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Ken worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. His debut novel, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers play the role of wizards. His debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories have been published in more than a dozen language and his short story Good Hunting was adapted for an episode for Netflix’s science fiction web series Love, Death and Robots.
Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.
Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.
Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.
A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawnshop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the F*ck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize-nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I enjoy reading well-written flash fiction, short stories and verse and this is an addictive medley of all three.
The overriding theme is darkness, within individuals, within society and within the other worlds, we can only imagine. Despite the noir ethos of the majority of stories, there are many satirical inferences, which make you smile. The author manages to capture the poignancy of life experiences and engenders empathy in characters, some of which may not deserve it.
The mix of genres is eclectic. Crime, horror and paranormal are predominant. The writer’s originality draws the reader into forbidden worlds, which are disturbing and horrific.As a reader, you don’t want to be there, but you do want to know what next, so you keep turning the pages and read on.
The commentary on the current state of the world and its inhabitantsis astute. It showcases the darker side of human nature, probably present in all of us somewhere.
All the stories and verse reveal their secrets in an engaging way, each one reads like a longer story with a beginning, middle and ending that may shock, but does satisfy a reader’s need for completion.
Full of vivid imagery, it’s easy to visualise what is happening. I enjoyed the variety and the balance of prose and verse, it is a riveting book, kept me reading until the end.
D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.
He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.
Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm-up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.
His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Publishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.
A lovely collection of shorts, about romance in Antigua.
Despite the brevity of the stories, the authors manage to capture the holiday island ethos and the intensity of holiday romance. All have hopeful endings, that let you imagine what comes next. Lovely Summer reading.
At the time of reading and review, this book is a free download on Amazon UK.
Three short stories set in Lynmouth, Devon. This is a place I know well, and I enjoyed the sense of familiarity, as I read these stories. All the stories have a distinctly noir flavour, in stark contrast to the beauty of the setting. For me, this increases their impact.
In Plain Sight
Features a mother and son, the terror of their circumstances resonates. The mother’s instinct to protect her offspring is evident. It is this, and the need to survive that gives the story its clever twist. Little, is known about why they are in this situation, it is left to the reader’s imagination. Despite, its brevity the story engages, and the vivid imagery makes the setting and situation easy to visualise.
Killing Me Softly
The seasonal contrast of Lynmouth is used to good effect in this story. Internal darkness is the main theme. Poignant, with a tangible sense of hopelessness, you share a young woman’s sense of despair, as she struggles to cope with reality. The isolation and the power of the mind are key to this story. The ending is inevitable but has a strange mystical quality. Even as you know what is happening, you are not entirely sure of the root cause.
Hell And High Water
The final story explores an out of season holiday with unforeseen consequences. Domestic Abuse is the predominant theme. The Lynmouth setting during a storm provides a timely if dark twist to the protagonist’s predicament.
The last two stories are longer, but all three can be read easily, in under an hour, So, if you’re looking for a chilling, noir read, try this on the beach, it even has a seaside setting.
Did You Know …?
Known as England’s ‘Little Switzerland’, the Devon village of Lynmouth is famous for its Victorian cliff railway, fish n’ chips and of course, RD Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.
Located on the doorstep of the dramatic Valley of The Rocks and the South West Cliff Path, the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth have inspired many writers, including 19th Century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who honeymooned there in 1812.
PRAISE FOR LV HAY:
‘Well-written, engrossing & brilliantly unique’– Heat World
‘Prepare to be surprised by this psychological mystery’– Closer
‘Sharp, confident writing, as dark and twisty as the Brighton Lanes’– Peter James
‘Prepare to be seriously disturbed’ – Paul Finch
‘Crackles with tension’ – Karen Dionne
‘An original, fresh new voice in crime fiction’ – Cal Moriarty
‘The writing shines from every page of this twisted tale’– Ruth Dugdall
‘I couldn’t put it down’ – Paula Daly
‘An unsettling whirlwind of a novel with a startlingly dark core’ – The Sun
‘An author with a fresh, intriguing voice and a rare mastery of the art of storytelling’ – Joel Hames
Lucy V Hay is a script editor for film and an author of fiction and non-fiction. Publishing as LV Hay, Lucy’s debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is out now and has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspaper, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. Her second crime novel, Do No Harm, is an ebook bestseller. Her next title is ‘Never Have I Ever‘, for Hodder Books.
Have you ever imagined a different life? Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?
The women in these startlingly original stories are all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Was Kept on the Shelf and The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.
A lovely collection of impressions, interpretations and idealism with a feminist theme. Short stories that focus on women. Society’s constraints, their role in the family and the workplace. The stories have a distinctly magical, mythical makeup but the problems they showcase are real, relevant and faced by every woman today whatever her age.
Although some of the experiences are disturbing, they are told in a readable way that engages the reader and makes a point without being overpowering. This is a book you can dip in and out of without losing the thread. For the most part, all the stories are enthralling and this book is novel quality, with an overriding storyline. Each story can be regarded as a chapter and the theme of women’s in the 21st century is highlighted and reinforced.
Definitely, something I ‘d like in my Christmas stocking because it shows how far women have come in my lifetime and how far we still have to go.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
“… Like Sheherazade, I was fighting to change what struck me as a very bleak future and what follows is the uncensored and unabridged account of how I met that challenge. Was I successful? Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out….”
The Secret Diarists are an anonymous group who have never met and perhaps never will.
They came together online and were inspired by one writer’s idea to create a collaborative work called The Sheherazade Diaries. Loosely based on the concept of 1001 Arabian Nights, their diverse talents were challenged to create a book of romantic, erotic stories linked by a narrative thread.
The result is Beth’s story.
Frustrated that the spark has gone out of her marriage and desperate to feel that connection again, Beth Rogers has a plan: to seduce her husband Miles all over again.
Throughout their new bedtime adventures, Beth keeps a diary. Soon this diary becomes more than just a collection of erotica to arouse Miles in the bedroom, it helps Beth realize she wants more from this marriage than perhaps he can give her…
The Sheherazade Diaries is an interesting concept, which has an overall narrative about a professional woman, Beth, who has a colourful and tragic past. In a rut, she wants to reintroduce the sparkle back in her relationship. She has many bohemian and free spirited friends who are eager to help and suggest erotic tales, in the form of diary entries, are the answer.
Beth is a likeable and complex woman, in her thirties with poignant memories and a self depreciating sense of humour, which she shares with her diary and the reader. Intended for adults, these short, provocative stories, flow well and cleverly illustrate the vulnerability of Beth, her partner Miles and her eclectic collection of friends. The ending is a closure of sorts but suggests there are more tales and more life of Beth to follow.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.