Tag Archives: Short Story Collections

Book Birthday & Giveaway: Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr

     Happy Book Birthday to Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr.

“Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments, dark and light, by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from under the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly.

From the gentle tones of a story-teller’s cadences to the terror of a blood sacrifice, tales of favorite characters from Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels mix with accounts of new characters for readers to fall in love with . . . or to fear.

Lush, seductive, and chilling, Melissa Marr’s stories revel in the unseen magic that infuses the world as we know it.”

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the short story genre. For me it’s usually because short stories if they are well written…simply leave me wanting more. I want to know what will happen next, how it will end or just more depth in general from my reading material.

That was surely the case with most of the tales in Melissa Marr’s newest collection of stories filled with a plethora of unforgettable characters, differing styles and even what at times felt like a range of  time periods. Inside you will find a little bit of something for everyone from stories containing the characters of the bestselling Wicked Lovely series to the occasional vampire and even the almost folk tale-ish “Winter’s Kiss” which happened to be my personal favorite within the collection. In the end the volume is a array of stories  filled with variety of every kind, snippets of the darker side and tastes of true terror at times. It’s the perfect book to read straight through from beginning to end or to parcel out each night before bed. I can only hope we may see some of these stories later developed into much more by the very talented Marr in the future. Also if you haven’t- make sure to check out Marr’s most recent and only adult novel  Graveminder which I truly enjoyed a short while ago.

Super Book Giveaway

In celebration of the release of Faery Tales and Nightmares Stiletto Storytime is excited to be able to offer a special giveaway from author Melissa Marr herself. One lucky reader will win a personalized copy of Faery Tale and Nightmares along with a personalized copy of the recently released A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton. Giveaway ends midnight EST March 1, 2012. US addresses only please for this giveaway. Winner will be contacted by e-mail.

To enter simply comment below telling me why you want to win this great prize pack. Are you a Melissa Marr fan or a newbie who is intrigued? Do you love short stories or simply crave a taste of the dark side? Just let us know for a chance to win both great books.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower Melissa Marr on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower Kelly Keaton on Twitter

Tweet or Blog about this “Book Birthday” Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Filed under Book Birthday, Fantasy, New Books, Paranormal, Short Story Collections, Young Adult Books

Guest Post & Giveaway: What Lies Behind the Black Veil…Jane Austen’s Reproof of Gothic Fiction

Hi Courtney, what a pleasure it is to be here today at Stiletto Storytime during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. With Halloween looming next week, and ghosts and horror stories on the minds of readers, I thought it quite appropriate to chat with you today about Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey, a tongue-in-cheek parody of the Gothic fiction so wildly popular in Austen’s time.

 Austen is known for her romantic dramas filled with dry humor and social reproof, but of her six major novels, Northanger is quite unique in that it was purposely written as satire and contains broader humor, stronger ironies – and – the classic elements to a Gothic novel: a troubled heroine (Catherine Morland), a haunted castle (an ancient abbey in this case), a mysterious and menacing male figure (General Tilney), hidden secrets of the past (the death of Mrs. Tilney), and a romantic hero who is at odds with his family (Henry Tilney). Now all of these classic Gothic elements of mystery and menace are actually projected by the imaginative heroine Catherine from her reading of Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic romance, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and further fueled by Henry Tilney’s teasing remarks.

 “And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as ‘what one reads about’ may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry?” Northanger Abbey, Chapter 20

 I find Northanger Abbey a perfect read for the Halloween season. Paired with the Gothic fiction that inspired it, such as Radcliffe’s Udolpho, Romance of the Forrest or The Italian, readers will have an excellent grasp of the early beginning of the Gothic genre from the late eighteenth century which would develop further with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

 I was so pleased that of the twenty-two stories in my Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, there are three stories with allusions to Gothic fiction: two inspired by Northanger Abbey: “The Mysterious Closet” and “A Night at Northanger” and a third in which Jane Austen returns as a ghost in “The Ghost Writer.”  Each is in spirit with Austen’s use of parody, spoof and comedy. Here are their descriptions:

“The Mysterious Closet: A Tale,” by Myretta Robens

In the wake of her most recent failed relationship, Cathy Fullerton takes an extended vacation in a converted Abbey in Gloucestershire, England.  Ensconced in the Radcliffe Suite, a jet-lagged Cathy mistakes a walk-in closet for a Vaulted Chamber, a clothing rack for an Instrument of Torture and an accumulation of cobwebs for her True Love.

“A Night at Northanger,” by Lauren Willig

Our heroine, Cate Cartwright, is part of the cast of “Ghost Trekkers”, currently filming at one of England’s most haunted homes, Northanger Abbey.  Naturally, Cate knows there’s no such thing as ghosts.  It’s all smoke and mirrors for the credulous who watch late night TV.  At least, that’s what she thinks… until she meets the shade of one Miss Jane Austen during one fateful night at Northanger.

“The Ghostwriter,” by Elizabeth Aston

 Sara, obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, is jilted by Charles, who can’t compete with Mr. Darcy. His parting gift is a lock of Jane Austen’s hair. Sara wakes the next morning to find a strange woman sitting on the end of her bed. A figment of her imagination? No, it’s the astringent ghost of Jane Austen. On a mission to restore the reputation of forgotten Gothic author Clarissa Curstable, Jane Austen saves Sara’s career and brings Charles back before taking herself off into the ether, but there’s a price to pay, as the couple discover when they wake up to find another ghostly visitor at the end of the bed. It’s Jane’s friend, Clarissa – and she plans to stay.

 While editing these short stories for the anthology, their irony and high comedy reminded of this passage in Northanger Abbey between Isabella Thorpe and Catherine Morland which illustrated Austen genius for burlesque.

 Isabella: “Have you gone on with Udolpho?”

 Catherine: “Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke; and I am got to the black veil.”

 Isabella: “Are you, indeed? How delightful! Oh! I would not tell you what is behind the black veil for the world! Are not you wild to know?”

 Catherine: “Oh! Yes, quite; what can it be? But do not tell me — I would not be told upon any account. I know it must be a skeleton, I am sure it is Laurentina’s skeleton. Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.” Northanger Abbey, Chapter 6

 Happy Halloween everyone. I hope you discover what lies behind the black veil!

 Cheers, Laurel Ann

 Editor bio:

 A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

 Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966

 Book Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by Midnight EST November 12, 2011 stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winner to be drawn at random. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all and Happy Reading!

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, Contests, historical fiction, Jane Austen, New Books, Short Story Collections

Guest Review: Pistols for Two by Georgette Heyer (1960)

Pistols for TwoThe first thought I had when I started reading was, “This is that it is a lot like Jane Austen”. Honestly, because I don’t read romances it is the only thing I have to compare it to. There is the same sharp wit, the humor, the preoccupation with good matches, a question of propriety versus love, the grumpy gentleman, the vivacious young ward, picaresque scenes of the English county side and, of course, romance. In the case of Pistols for Twoa series of romances.

Now I hadn’t read the synopsis so I didn’t realize that what I was really reading was a series of romance short stories. I remember thinking that this was one heavily populated novel with so much going on, and I was trying to figure how on earth Heyer was going to tie all the stories together. I had been told that she was a master storyteller, but it was getting ridiculous. Then I finally decided to look at the back of the book… I felt like a total idiot… like a deflating balloon. And admittedly, it was difficult for me to get back into the book. It was already difficult, because as I mentioned earlier, I don’t read romances. So if you don’t read romances, why did you try to read Heyer? Simply because I was curious. I think narrow mindedness is a terrible thing and you don’t know if like/dislike a book/genre/author until you have actually tried to read them. So this is good time as any to say that I only made it half way. I did enjoy two of the stories though; the title story ‘Pistols for Two’ and ‘Bath Miss’.

So let’s start with what I did enjoy, the language;

This unthinkable situation had arisen out of something far more serious. Not that one could call Marianne Treen serious: she was the gayest and most light hearted of all possible causes of dissension.

If nothing else Heyer is very good at that dry British humor which I have learned to love. That counts as a second thing, yay! The above quote proves my point. It comes from the title story, where two friends are willing tear their own friendship asunder for a woman who has made neither of them any promises. This situation brings to mind something that my friends use to say back in our more immature years…on second thought the saying is somewhat offensive, but the general idea is that we weren’t going to allow girl to come between our friendship. Another thing that I liked is a bit of spoiler, that neither of the characters that featured so prominently in the story get the girl. I think it is quite an interesting way to start a book of romantic episodes.

The other story I enjoyed is one that dealt with the issue of propriety, and features that English countryside I spoke about in the introductory paragraph. ‘Bath Miss’, which is very strange title but makes a lot more sense once you have read it, is the story of a gentleman to be married, who has been charged to escort a rather vivacious young woman home from school. So you’ve got a young lady excitable to the point of impropriety, a man locked in a loveless engagement, a troublesome dog, long journey through the country and an awkward moment that brings about what seems to me to be a very predictable ending.

Now I don’t want anyone to think that because I have been unable to finish Pistols for Two that I won’t ever try to read Georgette Heyer again. I guess this just isn’t the right time for me to try, maybe I will grow to appreciate her stories. Any one have any favorite suggestions for me to try next?

~K (The Gentleman) at Baffled Books
*Don’t forget to enter to win one of two fabulous Georgette Heyer Prize Packs from Sourcebooks. Also each “meaningful” comment on any Georgette Heyer post (including this one) in the month of August at Stiletto Storytime will also get you additional entries.*

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Filed under Adult Books, Contests, Georgette Heyer, historical fiction

Review: Death’s Excellent Vacation

https://i0.wp.com/2.bp.blogspot.com/_RX9KFt4q6Bc/SuEjpMPaMWI/AAAAAAAAAcg/xJBFPp5QzhI/s320/deathsvacation.jpgEveryone needs a vacation, even the undead and especially the immortal wouldn’t you say?  With Death’s Excellent Vacation, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner have presented readers with thirteen out of this world stories from some of today’s best-known and beloved paranormal writers including the editors themselves. Authors such as Jeff Abbott, L.A. Banks, Sarah Smith and Daniel Stashower all contribute stories to the collection including many others of paranormal notoriety. Ranging from eerie to intellectual and down right hilarious the anthology has something for everyone and a little bit of everything included.

Vampires, ghouls, ghosts and demons all make appearances in this collection of stories about what the supernatural do when they’re off the clock. This newest compilation proves to be a wild ride on the supernatural side ranging from a brand new sexy Sookie Stackhouse story to the out of this world tale of one demon dog’s unique European tour. Each story while not involving what one may consider a typical vacation does ring true to the theme “because everyone-and-everything needs a break from the routine”, whatever said routine might be.

Lovers of the genre will enjoy the uniqueness of each story and the variations in writing style and characterization woven into one book. However those not familiar with paranormal literature and its peculiarities may find themselves confused by the changing personas created by each writer. Vampires for instance take on different characteristics and weaknesses depending on their creator in each story. Some writers allow their vampires the joy of the sun during their vacas while others keep them far away within the confines of darkness for fear of absolute death. While sometimes difficult to follow this varying outlook is one of the things that makes this work a interesting resource for seeking out new paranormal writers and helping reader’s find their own niche and personal favorites.

In the end die hard readers of the paranormal and newbies will all find a story to perfectly fit their vacation reading within its magical pages. And as with any short story collection one can sit down and read straight through or pick and choose when the moment is right. Some ups and some downs between stories may be felt due to personal writing tastes of the reader but still a spooky addition to any reader’s reading list just in time for summer.
And did I mention it includes a new Sookie Stackhouse story?
~
Death’s Excellent Vacation will be released tomorrow August 3, 2010.
Also coming February 2011 is The Sookie Stackhouse Companion Book.

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Filed under Adult Books, Charlaine Harris, New Books, Paranormal, Short Story Collections

The Importance of Characters of Truth

The importance of characters in works of fiction can not be overly stressed. They are what make us connect to the story and the plot that unfolds. Without them you have nothing and with characters of truth, you have the beginnings of everything.  My favorite books are those whose characters connect with me, draw me in and often times completely shock me in their honesty and humanity. The last two books I have read have made me think on the subject of character creation in fiction because they have both done it so seamlessly and in a truly natural way. I am amazed at their talent and their ability to push boundaries and be original even shocking at times. Their talent is inspiring.

Review: Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle

Award winning author Aryn Kyle has created a intriguing and mesmerizing work in her latest literary accomplishment, a captivating short story collection: Boys and Girls Like You and Me. Diving into the lives of characters full of angst, hope and fear Kyle has put forth eleven stories that will transform and inspire. Eleven stories crafted to make an impact on almost any reader. The majority of her characters are female and quite disastrous in their life choices, often making horrid life decisions, pathologically lying or even crossing moral boundaries many hold dear. However readers will find themselves hungrily reading story after story finding the characters both fascinating and even likeable. Like a drug once began it cannot be stopped.

From the nine-year-old Tess who has spent most her young life creating her own world through lies and manipulation to the single Leigh who still pines over a past love while trying to search for the true path her life should take.  Kyle’s central characters are strong and unique in multiple ways each showing their incredible attributes as their stories elegantly un-fold.

It is the characters in Kyle’s work that make these stories unforgettable. She has truly gone above and beyond in creating characters that readers will not only respond to but relate to and even be shocked by.  Thus her new book is impossible to put down. Much like The God of Animals, it is in many ways breathtaking in its beauty and honesty. Kyle’s short story Femme even goes so far to demonstrate the deep understanding the author has for the relationships often formed between women and the trust boundaries often forged and broken. She is an artist of words but also an observer of life whose accounts will leave readers wanting more.

This reviewer is generally not a fan of the short story genre but will continue to sing the praises that are so deserved by Boys and Girls Like You and Me.  And perhaps in the future it will also cause me not to judge a book by it’s genre but to look deeper into the soul of writing which most often lies within its characters and their relationships with others.

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The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

Another work I urge readers not to miss is Elizabeth Berg’s latest The Last Time I Saw You. I myself have always been a fan of Elizabeth Berg and most of all of her setting and character development. Her writing is like a comfort food to me at times, warm and nourishing. Her latest work is no different. As it explores the hopes and dreams we nurse throughout life, we see an amazing cast of characters form for their 40th and very last High School Reunion. Many have faults, silly obsessions or past indiscretions but each and everyone seem to come across as genuinely true and real. As each come forward with their hopes for this big night, we see a beautiful rendering of what life can sometimes offer and take away. One of the things I look forward to most in reading Berg’s works is meeting each one of her characters and getting to know them as people. Because when Berg writes a novel, they are not simply characters: they come to life. This latest endeavor is no exception.

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Filed under Adult Books, New Books, Short Story Collections