Showing posts with label Anthology/Short Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthology/Short Stories. Show all posts

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bitter Bronx by Jerome Charyn

Genre: Short Stories
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
In Bitter Bronx, one of our most gifted and original novelists depicts a world before and after modern urban renewal destroyed the gritty sanctity of a land made famous by Ruth, Gehrig, and Joltin' Joe.

Bitter Bronx is suffused with the texture and nostalgia of a lost time and place, combining a keen eye for detail with Jerome Charyn's lived experience. These stories are informed by a childhood growing up near that middle-class mecca, the Grand Concourse; falling in love with three voluptuous librarians at a public library in the Lower Depths of the South Bronx; and eating at Mafia-owned restaurants along Arthur Avenue's restaurant row, amid a "land of deprivation…where fathers trundled home…with a monumental sadness on their shoulders."

In "Lorelei," a lonely hearts grifter returns home and finds his childhood sweetheart still living in the same apartment house on the Concourse; in "Archy and Mehitabel" a high school romance blossoms around a newspaper comic strip; in "Major Leaguer" a former New York Yankee confronts both a gang of drug dealers and the wreckage that Robert Moses wrought in his old neighborhood; and in three interconnected stories—"Silk & Silk," "Little Sister," and "Marla"—Marla Silk, a successful Manhattan attorney, discovers her father's past in the Bronx and a mysterious younger sister who was hidden from her, kept in a fancy rest home near the Botanical Garden. In these stories and others, the past and present tumble together in Charyn's singular and distinctly "New York prose, street-smart, sly, and full of lurches" (John Leonard, New York Times).

Throughout it all looms the "master builder" Robert Moses, a man who believed he could "save" the Bronx by building a highway through it, dynamiting whole neighborhoods in the process. Bitter Bronx stands as both a fictional eulogy for the people and places paved over by Moses' expressway and an affirmation of Charyn's "brilliant imagination" (Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune).

My Thoughts:
This was a tough one for me to read.  Had I grown up in the Bronx, or lived in New York where I was more familiar with its history, I might have made better connections to this book. Instead I felt disconnected. I was able to get a sense of what life in the Bronx was like and the changes it went through after Robert Moses split it in two.  I have to agree that the changes were not for the best. I know my first husband came from the Bronx and his parents would talk about their reasoning for living was how bad it had grown and how gang filled it had become.  His writing was wonderful to read. It made me long to see the Bronx before the expressway went through cutting areas in half. It almost reminded me of the Berlin Wall that cut off the two sides.  Each side grew in a different way and at a different rate.  Sometimes the things we do in the name of progress have the opposite effect. The division created is one that has been a struggle for years and will continue for many more to come.  This was an honest look at what once was, what it is now and hopefully a glimpse into what it may become one day.

About the Author

Jerome Charyn's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative, Ellery Queen, and other magazines. His most recent novel is I Am Abraham. He lived for many years in Paris and currently resides in Manhattan.

You can find him on:


New York Times Review

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Two Short Stories

Thicker Than Water by Clink Roslam

Genre: Contemporary Short Story
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This was a great short story. The life of two boys, brothers take different paths as they grow up. One is constantly in some form of trouble. He fights at school and at home to protect his younger brother. After spending a little over a year in rehab for a heroin addiction, the older brother returns.  His first stop is to see his mother. His second stop is at the secret spot only he and his younger brother share. But, as the younger brother discovers, sometimes things go too deep to be repaired.  He accepts this as easily as he breathes.  This story is woven together nicely and is one I love for the emotions it brings to the surface.  I would read many more short stories by this author and hope to see more from him.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

If I Was Someone Else - Kea Kamiya

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Short Story
Source: I purchased a copy, (while waiting on my autographed copy from her.)
Pages: 44

Okay, so this is where I usually have my Student Saturdays, where I have a student review a book.  I won't have those until school is back in session. Howeve,r I have the next best thing. The book I am reviewing today is from one of my former students.  She participated in NaNoWriMo last year.  Out of all of the students who reached their goal, she is the only one who got her work published.  Kea moved at the end of third quarter. I knew through emails she was continuing to write, but had no idea she had completed and published the book until I got an excited email.  To say I am proud of her is an understatement. Below is a review of her short story.  I can't wait to see what she writes as a seventh grader. It was truly difficult to write an unbiased review knowing she was my student, but I think I did a pretty good job.

My Thoughts:
Kea Kamiya has written a short story about a young girl who has gone through a life event that has left her scarred, whether she realizes it or not. Kathlean and her family are going through the daily motions of life. One day her dad walked out and didn't come back. Kathleen doesn't understand why. She holds onto little pieces of him, a letter, a DVD, all of which she hides form her mother. Her oldest sister Kathreana pretty much ignores her, as well as the situation.  Kat handles it by getting angry. Kathlean's mom is so worn out after working so many hours that popping a frozen dinner in the oven is the norm for her. She is oblivious to what is actually going on in her house.  Kathlean has always been able to deal with her feelings by talking to her best friend MC. Now, that  part of her world is crumbling as she learns her best friend is moving. How will Kathlean survive now? What will happen to her family?

Kea has taken a problem that faces so many kids today and put it into perspective. She is very intuitive.  Her solution to the issue is spot on. For her first debut book, as a sixth grader, I believe she did a great job in story telling. I look forward to much more by this passionate young lady.

About the Author:
Kea Kamiya is a middle school student. This is her first book. She is passionate about her family, God, and life.  This book came about through her participation in NaNoWriMo. She is currently working on her second book.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Carvings: A Short Story Anthology by Drake Vaughn

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Source: I received a copy in exchange for my honest review

From Goodreads:
The Carvings Collection: A selection of ten shocking tales from the crinkled mind of Drake Vaughn. The short stories span every arena of horror - from psychological tales of imagination gone wrong (“Dolls” and “Carvings”), to supernatural monsters (“Master Key,” “Sales,” and “Flatheads”), to realistic crime (“In The Chair,” “The Test,” and “Driver’s Seat”), along with a new spin on old tropes (“Trip to V-Town” and “The Garden”). All are bite-sized chunks for fans of horror and dark pulpy fiction.

My Thoughts:
I love short stories.   When I only have a few minutes to read I can sit with a good short story and get my reading fix.  This book is filled with great stories.  I must tell you that some of the language is a little rough in a couple of the stories.  However, if you can just jump over those words you will thoroughly enjoy the book.   The first story “Dolls” held the utmost creep factor.  When I read stories like this it makes me wish I could spend the day getting to know the author, just to see how they really think.  “In the Chair”  reminded me of one of those great movies you see on TV where you think the criminal is going to get caught only to have things spun around in some weird twisted way that catches you by surprise.  I mean this in a good way.  “The Garden” was one of those stories that took me by surprise.  It leads you to think one thing and then you get to the last page only to have it be something completely different than what you thought.  I would have to say my favorite of all of the stories was the one the book was named after, “The Carvings”.  Once again the author leads you down a path only to surprise you at the end.  I have to say that this was one ending that completely surprised me and I completely agreed with.  You really need to read this book to see what I am talking about because I’m not going to say anything more that I have said.

About the Author:
Drake Vaughn is the author of The Zombie Generation, along with many other pieces of dark fiction. His self-proclaimed “crinkled fiction” is a blend of horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction with a heavy psychological bent. His tales appear deceptively simple, but transform into a wild spree of suspense, madness, and trauma. He lives in Santa Monica, CA with his wife and a black cat named Shadow (who he is certain has come back from the dead on a number of occasions.)

To discover more of his crinkled tales, please visit his Amazon page.
Likewise, feel free to follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. Or join his mailing list at his website:

Friday, January 3, 2014

In Mint Condition 2013 - Shannon John, Editor

I was contacted by email and asked if I would be willing to read and review an anthology.  I happen to like anthologies so I had no problem saying yes.  This book is definitely different from most books.  The book is full of poetry and short stories that lean to the dark side of literature.  I enjoyed each story, some more than others.  One of my favorites was "A Place in Pine Island". This was the story of a man's run in with an alligator.  "Mr. Scratch's Murder Circus was a poem that reminded me of the freak side-shows at carnivals.  A lot of them dealt with the topic of death.  Call me a morbid person if you want but I enjoy reading things like this.  Each author was chosen from several people who had submitted their stories or poems.  After choosing the stories to be placed in the book, artists were found to illustrate each entry.  The book is full of both talented writers and artists.

You can find out more here.   The stories are so good that I read the entire book in a couple of hours.  I just couldn't put it down.  I will tell you the stories are for the more mature reader and there is some graphic language.  I would definitely read another anthology written any of these sixteen authors.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Student Saturday - The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar - Roald Dahl

Student Saturday is a day I post reviews written by other students.  The review that follows is written by Connor

This book is about a selfish billionaire that cares only for himself and does nothing but gambles. When he stays at one of his friend’s estates he finds a little folder and read it. The folder is a report about a man who can see with his eyes closed and sees without seeing. When he finds this out he takes the folder and immediately starts to practice. After three long years of training he can see with his eyes closed and he can do this so quickly he can read a person’s hand in less than four seconds. When he shares this new information with a friend he wants to go along with him. Henry agrees and they go off at once. They fly to casino to casino with whatever money they are not using for their project. When they have enough, the locations were set up and the construction began soon after the plans and money has been received. The years passed on and more and more places were built, and soon Henry died. The story came to be when his friends thought it was time to share the secret and what they did.

The story was amazing because it reminds me of “The Ghost Before Christmas”, because when Henry wins his first round of money he doesn’t want it so he throws it out and then he decides why not do something good for the community, and that’s how his mission became true. I recommend this book for people with warm open hearts and who want a good book to read with the family.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Everblossom - Larissa Hinton

Everblossom is an anthology unlike any I have ever read before.  First of all it seemed strange to read something that was so casual in its style.  I almost felt as if I was at an oral story telling.  This is not bad, just different.  Her mixture of short stories and poetry was refreshing.  I loved the poem “Childhood”.  As I find myself getting older it was nice to read a poem that took me back to what it was like to be a child.

Just about the time I thought I had the author’s style pinned down she slipped in something new.  “Crack” seemed like a short story of an abusive mother.  It had a twist to it that caught me off guard.

I think I enjoyed the poetry more than the short stories.  I felt like there needed to be more to the stories.  Maybe it was just my desire for there to be more.  I do believe this is an author we will see more from.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Poison Eater and other Stories - Holly Black

Publisher:  Big Mouth House
Pages:  224
Source:  Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
Genre:  Young Adult, Short Stories

Most of these stories appear in other anthologies.  Some of them a humorous.  Most of them are on the dark side.  Maybe that is what I liked about them.  My favorites by far were "The Night Market" where we discover what love really is and at what length we will go to obtain it," The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" a twisted vampire story, "The Poison Eaters" a story of revenge, and "A Reversal of Fortune"  a story of beating the Devil at his own game.  This book has something for everyone.  Not all of the stories were as good as I would have liked.  I will say there was enough here for everyone to find something for their taste in short stories.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Darkness Creeping by Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Puffin Books, 1995
ISBN: 9780142407219
Source: My Purchase
This book was part of my 9 For 09 Challenge. I had to find a book with the prettiest or ugliest cover. I thought this was one of the ugliest covers as it seemed to be a group of vines and/or snakes twisted around or creeping in and out of a school. The photograph and the stories within were definately both creepy. Here is my short review of this wonderful book.
Darkness Creeping is a book of 20 short stories that will creep you out. “Security Blanket” is the story of a 'special' quilt that turns into the worst type of security blanket. I may never look at quilts the same again. My favorite was probably the 'River Tour'. The story of a special guided trip down the River Styx. Have a fear of dentists? 'Ralphy Sherman’s Root Canal' is a story you can really sink your teeth into. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes short stories, the creepier the better. If you are a Neal Shusterman fan then I would definitely recommend this book. I gave it a 5 out of 5