The Cats of Savone by David-Michael Harding

The Cats of Savone via Love at First Book

Photo Credit: Goodreads

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

I’m a fan of David-Michael Harding.  I absolutely loved How Angels Die, which is about two strong and sexy sisters who work to defeat the Nazis, and I still think about that book from time to time.

Then I read and enjoyed Cherokee Talisman, which is about the Cherokee Indians who are being pushed off their land by the white people who are expanding in America.

And now, it’s The Cats of Savone by David-Michael Harding.  The Cats of Savone is a cool book for a few reasons:

1. It’s specifically subtitled: 8 Short Novels for Busy People.  I like that.  Tell it like it is, DMH!

2. It’s Volume 1.  I’m intrigued. . . does that mean there will be more volumes???

3. You can VOTE on your favorite!  And then DMH is going to turn the winner into a full length novel!!!!  How cool is that????

On to the stories themselves. . .

My favorite, and the one I voted for, is My Boo Radley.  It’s a story of a kid who plays baseball and has this disfigured neighbor.  The neighborhood kids all prank the neighbor, as kids sometimes do.  But then the E-Man (named by the kids after the Elephant Man) teaches the main character something that takes him years to discover the true value of.

I just loved it.  It connects To Kill a Mockingbird with a more modern story that I think everyone can relate to.

Then you have the title story, The Cats of Savone, which is about how a pregnant cat made it into a prison and stole the hearts of some inmates.  And you all know how much I love my jail/prison stuff!

And the really strangely unique story of St. Alden’s, which takes place as 3 new students are headed to one of the most prestigious schools on the planet. . . that also happens to have an interesting secret.

Plus there are five more stories to check out!  And if you’re unsure about DMH, he generously provided some free short stories/excerpts!

You can read all of 2 short stories, plus over 100 pages of How Angels Die & Cherokee Talisman!  I suggest checking his writing out, especially because it’s so easy to do so before deciding to purchase!

Now’s the time to share you favorite short story collection!!!!

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Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon. I get a small percentage if you purchase from the link, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

Favorite Reads

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a huge fan of reading.

I’ve read so many books this year, that I thought I’d do a short recap of some of my favs.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – This is the story of Patroclus and Achilles, their friendship (and maybe a little more), plus insight into a different version of the classic Greek mythological tale.  I liked it so much my review basically just yelled that you should read it!

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus – This is a kind of bizarre novel, but one that if you can enjoy it’s quirkiness, you’ll enjoy the ride it takes you on.  Here’s the premise: All children’s speech is lethal.  As in, when kids talk, cry, etc. . . they are killing their parents.  Very cool concept.

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford – From the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet comes another amazing novel.  Songs of Willow Frost is the story of Will, a Chinese orphan who sees a poster of an actress and just KNOWS it’s his mother.  Is it?  And even if it is, will she accept him as her son?

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Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan – If you only read one short story book, this is the one to choose!  Best book of short stories I have EVER read.  They take place in Africa, revolve around desolate children, and aren’t the happiest of stories, but they feel genuine and real.

Garbology by Edward Humes – This “trashy” book by the Pulitzer Prize winning Edward Humes has the capacity to change your life.  Garbology takes a look at landfills, garbage, and how much we waste, with some information on how to make changes.  A great follow-up to Garbology is Do One Green Thing, which has tons of practical tips on being a greener member of society.

What book is one of your recent favorites?

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca

Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

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Long Live Us by Mark R. Brand

I received this book from the publisher CCLaP in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Long Live Us by Mark R. Brand is a collection of short stories that debuts tomorrow.  I know some of you guys stay away from short stories, and I used to, too.

There’s this misconception that short stories are tough to get into, or that by the time you’re into them, they end.

You know what?  Some short stories are like that.  But others are fabulous, and they give you just what you need.

Most of the stories in this collection are like that: just right.

Here are a few summaries of some of my favorites:

Red Rocket is the opening story, and steals your heart right away.  Darryl is having a hard time at school because the other kids tease him about his father who “is an astronaut”.  Is he really away on this really long trip, or is this just what mom told him to keep him from thinking his dad is a bum?

Potluck is a dystopian tale (very realistic though) where healthy weight is mandatory for getting anywhere in life.  Kids and teens are practically starved, weighed in often, and know that if their BMI is too high, they’re not getting into college.  The teens take drastic measures to get extra food and also to make weight.

Nose Goblins tells the tale of a disease that takes over the society, causing everyone to be locked inside in quarantine.  Trust me, it’s unique!

She Was Never Free to Begin With is one of the short stories that left me with a lot of questions, and sticks in my mind as a story I would definitely read if it was turned into a novel.  Kids being raised independently from parents in school compounds, flash mobs. . . something is up.

What’s your favorite short story collection?

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Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

Moral Disorder by the amazing Atwood

Isn’t Margaret Atwood just amazing?  I got a little behind on my Project Atwood, but I picked up Moral Disorder at the library and figured I’d just read a short story here and there.

But I couldn’t do that.  I ended up reading the entire book straight through, which is unusual when it’s a book of short stories.  Similar to The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Moral Disorder is a book of connected short stories.

The stories span decades of time, but stick with many of the same characters, who are all related.  I really enjoyed them, and feel like this is a different type of book that I haven’t seen yet from Atwood.  She can do dystopian political fiction on very tough topics, she can do poetry and short stories, nonfiction, and children’s books.  Now this, which is an interconnected book of short stories!

I guess the question is: What CAN’T Atwood do?

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Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander has a looooooooong title for a book of short stories.

The short stories focus on Jewish life and/or Israel.  The first two were by far my favorites, so I’ll tell you about those.

The title story is about two couples, where the wives have been friends for years, but have drifted.  One couple, Mark and Lauren, live in Jerusalem and are visiting their friends in South Florida.  Mark and Lauren are very religious Jews with more children than they can count.  The couples are so different. . . until they bond over something very surprising.

Sister Hills is a story that takes place in Israel long ago.  Two families are determined to grow a prosperous town.  When the husbands are called away, one wife goes to the other’s home with a dying child in her arm.  A superstition bids her to “sell” her baby in order to prove that the child is not worth anything in order to save her.  Of course this isn’t true, the mother loves her child, but she sells her for a pittance with the agreement that she will live with her birth mother until she is grown, and the child survives.  However, the other wife loses all of her children over the years, and once her last child dies, the oath that was made is called into question.

The stories are all very interesting, with those two being my favorites.  I think this is a good collection of short stories, especially for those who like to read about different cultures or who have connections to the cultures that this book is about.

What are your feelings on short stories?

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Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

The Rag – a literary magazine

I received this literary magazine from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

I’ve never read a literary magazine before, much less a digital one, but when contacted about reviewing one, I figured I’d give it a shot.

I read this on my Kindle, because that’s what I’m most comfortable with reading, but The Rag: Winter/Spring 2013 is available in many formats.

The Rag is filled with short stories, interesting artwork, and a few poems.  I consider it to be “bookish” even though it’s considered a magazine, because I read it cover to cover, as I would a book.

I loved the artwork.  My favorites were the ones where human heads had been replaced by animal heads.  Super cool stuff.

There are many short stories included in the book, all by different authors.  Here are short synopses of my favorites:

  • Opens with a story about necrophilia – who would have thought I would love reading about that???
  • Another story about a small town cop who is contemplating vigilante justice
  • There’s a story about getting into an illegal scam which I loved!  It kind of reminded me of the show Locked Up Abroad, where the people explain their illegal crimes (although it didn’t involve drug smuggling, which the majority of LUA does have, it was a different crime).
  • Then there was one about a hit (you know, like scheduled killing) with many unintended consequences
  • A Desperate Housewives-esque love affair (older boss, young employee), which of course won’t end in a Hollywood way
  • A story you wouldn’t expect about two sets of female twins – I did not see that coming!
  • The most nauseating dog story ever (I couldn’t even read all of it, I had to skip parts)
  • A teacher who has some blurred lines about where his job ends and what is appropriate
  • And then, maybe my favorite, is the last story about a girl with severe body dysmorphic disorder and plastic surgery “extremes”

There were some great stories in here, the majority were great (I enjoyed 9 out of 12 short stories, plus there were poems).  There were also a few in The Rag that I didn’t get into as much.  But you know what?  In every magazine, and in most books of short stories, it’s the same way.

The Rag: Winter/Spring 2013 is my first literary magazine, but it won’t be my last.  When does the next issue come out?

Have you ever read a literary magazine?

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Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon (only $4.99, though, check the price because it may change). I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

 

Quickie Reviews on Things Fall Apart & The Tent

Here are two quickie reviews on a couple of my recent reads, actually by two pretty prolific authors.

This will be a quickie review because, honestly, I feel kind of indifferent about Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

I’ve heard great things, but it just left me thinking the book was kind of moderate.

Basically, it tells the story of a Nigerian family who encounters struggles such as tribal regulations and the onslaught of Christian missionaries.

Things Fall Apart is considered almost a classic, so don’t let my review deter you necessarily.

 

The next review is on The Tent by Margaret Atwood, which helps to fulfill my Project Atwood requirement.  The Tent is a short book filled with super short stories (2 pages usually, sometimes less).  I have to say I have mixed feelings on these.  The book is split up into 3 sections, and I enjoyed the second section the best.  The first section I just didn’t understand.

But I did enjoy some of the satirical quotes from the stories.  Here are some of my favorites:

“No more photos.  Surely there are enough.  No more shadows of myself thrown by light onto pieces of paper, onto squares of plastic.” – p. 25 

“You’re not my real parents, every child has thought. I’m not your real child.  But with orphans, it’s true.  What freedom, to thumb your nose authentically!” – p. 29

“What are we do to?  The child sex trade is not for us: our children are unattractive and rude, and – due to the knowledge of our history – have a bad habit of mugging prospective customers and shoving them over cliffs.” – p. 60

The Tent is super short and a very quick read, so if you’re a huge Atwood fan, check it out.  Some of the stories were great, some were bizarre.

Have you read them?  What do you think?

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