Tag Archives: short stories

The Kissing Game by Aidan Chambers

I was really really hoping this was Ian Somerhalder’s biography that I happened across, but alas, it wasn’t. The Kissing Game is actually a collection of short stories by British author Aidan Chambers. (Way less titillating, I know!) Kissing_Game_cover

Unfortunately, TKG didn’t titillate me at all. The description on the jacket cover makes it sounds SO much better than it actually is.

“Aidan Chambers explores moments of truth, when a character or an event suddenly reveals an often-surprising meaning: A girl loses her humanity when she takes a summer job as a theme-park character; a boy tries to save a girl from a fiery death, only to discover the same event happened one hundred years before. And the titular story, in which an innocent game takes a fatal turn, will haunt the reader for a long time.”

NO.

I mean, yes. All of these things technically happened, but they were nowhere near as exciting as you’re lead to believe. I usually have a few favorites in a book like this, but no. To be fair, this is supposedly an example of a newish genre of story-telling, as explained at the back of the book. Flash fiction. I’d never heard of it but by definition it:

“Often contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten – that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. Different readers thus may have different interpretations of the flash fiction.”

Many of these “stories” were simply conversations. Some were only two pages long. None of them inspired me or captured my attention. Maybe that makes me unsophisticated. Sorryyyyyyy.

I just want a little more *ahem* story to my stories, you know?

2 agoraphobic stutterers of 5

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The Mammoth Book of Erotica edt. by Maxim Jakubowski

The Mammoth Book of Erotica has been sitting on a bookshelf somewhere in my vicinity since I was a teenager. I started reading it back then, killed a hundred pages, and then walked away. I still had an old piece of ripped paper marking the spot where I left off. Maybe I was afraid of my mom busting me or something. Who knows?

But I finally came back and finished the job. 1319904

As with all anthologies, TMBOE had it it’s ups and downs (tee hee). Rarely did I find any of these stories arousing or titillating (I love that word) but many of them were entertaining outside of the sexual spectrum.

Some of my favorites included:

  • The Isle of the Dead by Thomas S. Roche- Queen of the Damned meets transgender lead singer. 
  • Beauty’s Punishment by Anne Rice- An excerpt of Rice’s famous Beauty BDSM trilogy.
  • Hollow Hills by Michael Hemmingson- Six youths get frisky in the back of a 1971 Mustang.
  • A Carcass of Dreams by Marco Grassi- His “story” was several separate individual pieces. Some were of strange subject matter, but all were well written. (Coprophilia, anyone?)
  • The Girl in Booth Nine by Adam-Troy Castro- One of my favorites of the whole anthology. A sci-fi thriller about a guy who visits viewing booths at a XXX store and how a virtual video vixen gets her revenge.
  • The Safety of Unknown Cities by Lucy Taylor- Sodom and Gomorrah meets hermaphrodite meets evil sorcerer. My other favorite.
  • Violent Silence by Paul Mayersberg- A poolside desperate housewife meets dangerous stranger and they get down in a cabana. (It’s much more intriguing than it sounds–don’t judge me!)
  • Equinox by Samuel R. Delany- Bisexual pirate love! Need I say more?
  • Baubo’s Kiss by Lucy Taylor- A vacationing lesbian stumbles upon a mythical goddess and magic ensues.
  • The Age of Desire by Clive Barker- A secret lab experiment goes horribly awry and an insane man with an insatiable sexual appetite is unleashed. Loved this one.
  • L’Enfer by Alice Joanou- A kept man and his mistress visit a hidden erotic club and things turn violent. Very Jack the Ripper-esque.

So, I guess seeing as how 11 out of 30 stories were very well-written or entertaining, 1/3 of this HUGE book was really good. These were all worth reading. The rest were either boring or rambling. Don’t expect arousal though, because these aren’t smut. They’re graphic, but they’re more erotically-themed short stories than out and out raunchy porn.

4 virtual video vixens of 5

(I think I’m just going to work “virtual video vixen” into as many conversations as possible from now on…)


The Book of Other People edt. by Zadie Smith

I was really really disappointed with this book. It was like that 2008 movie Jumper–amazing concept, terrible execution. Zadie Smith gathered a couple dozen well-known writers to do short stories/character sketches but they really fell short of the mark. I mean, I know that they weren’t supposed to be stories that focused on the plot–character development was the whole point–but even as such they were boring and pretentious. 126

I only found a few stories that were worth my time:

  • The Liar by Aleksander Hemon-a brief retelling of Jesus’ crucifixion. 
  • The Monster by Toby Litt-about a creature who can’t see himself and all he knows of his appearance is based on touch.
  • Soleil by Vendela Vida-one of the better-developed sketches that actually made me interested in learning more about the wild-child “aunt” Soleil.
  • Theo by Dave Eggers-a lonely and jilted giant seeks solace in the beautiful mountains.

The rest you could totally skip and save yourself the yawning. I just felt like so many of the stories were written to sound extremely pompous and egotistical. I don’t like associating with snobby socialites, so I’m not interested in reading about them either. I don’t care about your Upper-East-Side-bagels-and-lox-can’t-find-a-good-nanny-problems. I want to read about someone real. Real problems and real courage.

It reminded me too much of A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff, which I hated.

Maybe I’m shallow. Maybe I haven’t started crying into my gin and tonic at 10am and I just don’t understand. Who knows?

All I know is that I won’t be reading this ever again.

2 vagina-faced monsters of 5


Death’s Excellent Vacation edt. by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

Seeing as I’ve been on Chelsea’s Excellent Vacation since July, reading about Death’s Excellent Vacation was no stretch. 

(As a side note, sorry for being AFK so long. I’ve moved back to the US and have been scrambling around seeing anxious friends and relatives).

Like many of the books I’ve read in recent months, DEV is an anthology of fantastical short stories by some pretty talented names. I had several favorite stories, including:

  • Two Blondes by Charlaine Harris- Sookie and Pam are at it again. Strippers, elves, murderers, and vampires, OH MY! (If I were them I would stop listening to Eric…)
  • The Boys Go Fishing by Sarah Smith- An elderly super hero is forced out of retirement when a bunch of mutant kids are dumped on his doorstep. I liked this one because I pictured Morgan Freeman as the main character–you’ll see what I mean.
  • The Innsmouth Nook by A. Lee Martinez- A goofy tale of two guys opening a bed and breakfast in a town straight from the Black Lagoon.
  • Safe and Sound by Jeff Abbott- Let’s put it this way: Nancy Grace covering the Natalie Holloway case meets supernatural disappearances.
  • Seeing is Believing by L.A. Banks- Old swamp voodoo brings a young couple together, but there’s more than meets the eye.
  • Thin Walls by Christopher Golden- SUCCUBUS, OMG! Just wait til you read the mouth/vagina description… *shudder*
  • The Heart is Always Right by Lilith Saintcrow- A story about gargoyles in the modern world that was so captivating, I’m hoping for a series to be spawned.

There were a handful of others, while cute and entertaining, were just not as gripping as those listed above. They were either too corny or just emitted the paranormal romance vibe too strongly.

I highly recommend this anthology and it’s going down as a new favorite. Read it to stave off post-Halloween withdrawals.

4 horny demon dogs of 5


Lyra’s Oxford by Phillip Pullman

I’m going to be short and sweet with this review because I wouldn’t want it to be longer than the book itself. I’m a huge fan of Phillip Pullman’s and I was absolutely obsessed with His Dark Materials series. I loved it. For any of you who have never read The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, or The Amber Spyglass I HIGHLY recommend that you do. They are amazing, fantastical books that explore some pretty deep topics under the guise of children’s literature. In fact, just writing about them makes me want to re-read the series as an adult to see what else I’ll glean from it.

(Also, obviously, don’t judge the book by it’s movie. The Golden Compass’ film adaptation did not do it justice at all…)

All I know is, I wish daemons were real! So so cool! They’re pretty much an outward extension of your soul represented by an animal. They can change form until you reach puberty and your personality has “settled.” Our main character Lyra’s has now settled as a ermine, I believe, but there can be a multitude of choices. Lord Asriel’s was a snow leopard, Ms. Coulter’s was a golden tamarin monkey, and Lee Scoresby’s was a hare.

Witches’ daemons are usually birds and possess the unsettling ability to fly miles and miles away from their masters. (All daemons are on a relatively short “leash” to their humans, as you wouldn’t feel right with your soul running around without you, would you?) They are usually the opposite sex from their companion. Very interesting…

But that being said, Lyra’s Oxford was completely useless. It shouldn’t have even been a stand-alone novel. It was an extremely short story about Lyra and her daemon Pan, as they try to seek help for a witch’s daemon. Very very brief and pretty uninteresting. It takes place two years after the end of The Amber Spyglass and reminded me quite a bit of what Stephenie Meyer did with The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner or what JK Rowling did with The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Kind of just short, useless reminders of an epic series. (Although The Tales of Beedle the Bard did have a purpose, even though it was small…)

The verdict? Skip it.

2 stolen gypsy children of 5


The Poison Eaters by Holly Black

Obviously, if you’ve followed my blog long enough you’ve heard my sing my girl-crush love about Holly Black many times before. I totally adore her and she’s one of my all-time favorite authors (which is really saying something!)

Holly–if you’re reading this–let’s hang out!

The Poison Eaters has been on my list for over a year now, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. It’s a collection of Mrs. Black’s own fantastical short stories with her signature dark twist.

And, as usual, she’s done a good job with them. She’s managed quite a few anthologies over the years and so I had no doubt she’d be able to seamlessly blend her own tales together.

We got to sample stories about vampires, secret cults, faeries, werewolves, unicorns, and a bunch of other things you’ve never even heard of. And we got to revisit Kay, Roiben, Corny, and Val from her beloved Ironside trilogy.

As with most collections, there will always be stories that rise above the others and The Poison Eaters was no exception. Some of my favorites included:

  • A Reversal of Fortune: kind of like the short story version of the old folk song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Crazy, and you’ll never look at gummy frogs the same way again.
  • The Dog King: werewolves surround a medieval castle, but the real danger may lurk inside its walls.
  • In Vodka Vertias: a school prank gets way out of hand and ample doses of sex are involved…
  • Paper Cuts Scissors: a lonely geek’s girlfriend has willingly trapped herself inside a novel and he’s desperately searching for a way to get her out again.
  • The Poison Eaters: told in the classic rule of three format many fairy tales lay claim to, three sickly girls must follow their destiny.

The aforementioned really stood out to me, but they each had their own little crisp ending that made you pause for a minute after reading. The Poison Eaters is the perfect book to curl up with this fall after your house has fallen asleep and you’ve got a steaming mug of tea in your hands…

4 virgin boys of 5