TTT: Top 10 favourite novellas/short stories

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

Favourite Novellas/Short Stories

I don’t read a lot of short stories, however, when I came to check my books I had more than I thought – here are the ten I chose which are either novellas or collections of short stories:

  1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – I love this story and have read it many times.
  2. Monstrous Little Voices – this is a wonderful collection of stories based on the works of Shakespeare.  You definitely don’t have to be an expert in the field, in my opinion, as I certainly am not – but the stories are all written by different authors and all the stories connect.  Such a good book.
  3. I am Legend by Richard Matheson – I don’t even need to say anything about this book surely?
  4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – this is a fantastic story.  Brilliant.
  5. In Calabria by Peter S Beagle – ‘a unicorn fable for the modern age’
  6. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – I adore this book – I don’t know why I haven’t read the rest yet – I’m obviously a maniac and afraid to be happy.
  7. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – creepy as hell.
  8. In the Company of Thieves by Kage Baker – A wonderful collection of stories from Baker’s Company series.  Not to be missed.
  9. Road Brothers by Mark Lawrence – if you loved the Broken Empire then don’t be shy.  You need this book in your life.
  10. Poison/Charm/Beauty by Sarah Pinsborough – three books – each one connected, that include a bunch of fairy tales for grown ups.  Wonderful reading.
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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Posted On 16 July 2018

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SpinningSpinning Silver was a book of surprises.  A story that brings together the faint whisper of other fairytales and a tale that I was fully immersed in for the most part, in fact I’d go so far as to say I was all but convinced that this would be the one. And, in some respects I preferred this to Uprooted.  It’s beautifully written and some of the characters are just wonderful to read.  I think the only thing that prevented this becoming the perfect read was a slightly stilted feeling that I experienced during the second half of the read combined with maybe one too many character povs.  But, for now, yes, this is a beautifully rendered retelling of Rumplestiltskin that gave me chills reading, not just because of the cold and aloof Staryks that inhabit their own icy world, but also because of the shivers you feel when you’re reading a book that seems near perfect.

The story is loosely based on the original fairytale.  In fact I love the way that we begin the journey with the strong voice of Miryem explaining that not everything you hear in your bedside stories really happened in the way depicted.  In fact, she’s here to put the record straight.  Miryem’s father is a moneylender, but a very poor one who doesn’t seem to grasp the concept and very rarely collects the debts he’s owed leaving his family more often than not with a lack of food on the table, fuel to keep them warm and the basic comforts of life.  Miryem becomes tired of seeing her mother suffer and basically, much to her parents shame and consternation, takes over the running of the business and does so not only with ruthless determination but also with a certain flair that demonstrates how well suited she is to the business.  Of course her exploits don’t go unnoticed and soon she finds herself on the receiving end of unwanted attention from the Staryks.   Creatures of myth, the Staryk only ride forth to take gold.  They’re cold and seemingly heartless – I’m not really sure if they’re from the winter court of the fae but that’s what came to mind when reading about them.  Changing silver into gold is much akin to magic in their covetous eyes and so Miryem finds herself being drawn into an unwanted and seemingly impossible bargain.

At the same time we make the acquaintance of Irina.  Born into a noble house, Irina spends her time trying to keep beneath the notice of her father.  Her father is disappointed in Irina.  She isn’t beautiful enough to attract a suitor who is well connected and she seems to have inherited nothing of her mother’s other-worldly characteristics.  But Irina is clever, she uses the invisibility that her feminine demeanour bestows to listen when none would believe her to be interested and so is politically astute and knowledgeable in terms of potential contenders for the crown.  More than that Irina cares about the people who she will ultimately be responsible for and this leads her to take great risks in order to protect them.

As if that wasn’t enough we have a third strong female character in Wanda.  Wanda and her brothers suffer horrible cruelty at the hands of their drunken and abusive father.  Wanda however manages to find herself a position working for Miryem and her parents and her steadfast reliability gradually sees Wanda becoming almost invaluable – to such an extent that her brothers all eventually become entangled with Miryem’s family.

So.  I’m not going further into the plot.  Just read it.

What I really loved about this book.  Well, firstly, the start of the book was positively enchanting and was just like reading a fairytale for adults.  The pacing was spot on, the descriptions were evocative.  The forest, the cold, the fear of the unknown, Miryem’s tale, everything about this was captivating.  And I was suitably enchanted.  I also really enjoyed Irina’s story.  The way she dealt with the people around her, her compassion and strength, again, a very compelling part of the story.  Wanda’s story was, for me, the weaker link in that she felt necessary in some respects to drive the plot forward.  That being said, I still found myself very intrigued as things began to unfold.  Then, there’s the writing.  The descriptions and the dialogue are just so damned good that I can’t even begin.  I loved the frosty kingdom and the people we met there.  I loved the threat from the fire demon and I particularly loved the feeling that other stories were playing a part – particularly strong Hansel and Gretel vibes, even Little Red Riding Hood and maybe a couple more.

In terms of criticisms.  I felt like there were just one too many POVs and not all of them really brought anything to the table – not that I could discern anyway.  I also felt the story slowed down somewhat when the two leading ladies began to formulate their plans.  Something went missing about that point for me, I didn’t feel the tension as much as I felt I should, I was intrigued, but not as gripped and the fundamentals of all of it felt like it left the realms of fairyland and was too ‘real’ somehow’.

To conclude though, I would definitely recommend this to lovers of fairytales retold.  In spite of a few niggles I had a very good time with this and found it quite hypnotic.  It has a great ending – although I would have liked more (just saying) – and I sincerely hope that Naomi Novak takes up the pen again to bring us some more enchanting fairytales told in her own sweet style.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up : 15 July 2018

Posted On 15 July 2018

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This week I’ve been so busy on a personal level that even though I felt I got off to a good start it fairly rapidly went downhill in terms of reading and blogging.  I read Little Eve which was very unusual and I’m about half way through Redemption’s Blade.  So my reads this week:

  1. Little Eve by Catriona Ward

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Next Week’s Reads:

  1. Hunted by GX Todd
  2. Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Upcoming reviews: –

  1. Starborn by Lucy Hounsom
  2. Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace
  3. Noir by Christopher Moore
  4. The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
  5. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  6. One of Us by Craig DiLouie
  7. Wrath of Gods by Dyrk Ashton
  8. Little Eve by Catriona Ward

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Friday Face Off : ‘There’s more of gravy than of grave about you’ – a cover featuring a ghost or spectre

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme. This week’s theme:

‘There’s more of gravy than of grave about you’ – a cover featuring a ghost or spectre

Funnily enough I thought this week’s theme would be much easier than it actually worked out.  The book I eventually chose was : The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

My covers:

I narrowed this down to the following:

My favourite is:

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Which is your favourite?

Next week – a cover featuring a icicles or snow

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ of one of your favourite covers)

20th July -‘In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow’A cover featuring icicles or snow

27th July – “I saw huge buildings rise up faint and fair, and pass like dreams.”  – a cover that is steampunk

3rd August – “Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.” – a cover featuring a starry sky

10th August – ‘…Christine, who have torn off my mask and who therefore can never leave me again! – A cover with a mask

17th August – ‘Knock, knock… ‘who’s there?’ – A cover featuring a door ajar or closed

24th August – ‘To be a legend, you’ve either got to be dead, or excessively old!’ – A cover with a title featuring the word ‘legend’

31st August – ‘“Come buy our orchard fruits, Come buy, come buy’ – A cover featuring a goblin or dwarves

7th September – ‘Mirror, Mirror on the wall – A cover featuring a queen

14th September – “He had killed man, the noblest game of all, and he had killed in the face of the law of club and fang.” – A cover featuring a wolf or wolves

21st September – ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ – a cover featuring clouds

28th September – Eyes wide shut – a cover featuring eyes

5th October – “He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn’t owe too much money.” – A cover that is ‘noir’

12th October – “The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”  – A cover for a mystery novel

19th October -“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!”  – A horror cover

26th October – Trick or treat – A halloween inspired cover

2nd November – ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November,’ – A cover inspired by Bonfire Night

9th November – ‘All right! They’re spiders from Mars! You happy?’ – A cover feturing a critter of the eight legged variety

16th November – There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.’  – A scary cover

23rd November – ‘The child is in love with a human. And not just any human. A prince!’ – A cover featuring a mermaid/man

30th November – “..the children of the night. What music they make!” – a cover with a vampire

7th December – ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

14th December -“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”  – A cover featuring a crown

21st December – ‘ho, ho, ho’ – A seasonal cover

28th December – A freebie – choose one of your favourite titles and compare the covers

2019

4th January – A cover that is fresh – New beginnings for a New Year

11th January – ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king’ – A cover that depicts a novel set in the Tudor period

18th January – A cover featuring an Amulet – either in the cover or title

25th January – ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’ – A cover featuring a monk/priest/person of the cloth

1st February – A comedy cover

8th February – ‘Hi little cub. Oh no, don’t be ssscared.’ – A cover with snakes

15th February – A heart – for Valentine’s day past

22nd February – “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” – A cover with abandoned building/s

1st March – ‘who will buy this wonderful morning’ – A cover featuring a shop or market

8th March – ‘Two little fishes and a momma fishy too’ – A cover featuring a fish/fishes or other sea creatures

15th March – ‘Beware the moon, lads.’ – A cover with a shapeshifter

22nd March – ‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’ – A cover featuring a king

29th March – “I thought unicorns were more . . . Fluffy.”  – A cover featuring a unicorn

5th April – ‘nomad is an island’ – A cover featuring a desert landscape

12th April – ‘Odin, Odin, send the wind to turn the tide – A cover featuring a longboat

19th april – ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – A cover featuring a school

#SPFBO Cover Contest Update

Posted On 12 July 2018

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People.  A quick update just in case you’re absolutely gagging to know how the cover contest is progressing (and why wouldn’t you be).  All ten blogs have now chosen their three entries and all thirty covers are copied below for your ease of reference.  Each blog will now choose four favourite covers from this bevy of beauties and hopefully a winner will come to the fore.

If you’re interested in casting a vote there is a poll set up here and anyone can take part – Be aware that the votes cast by the judges will determine the winner but it’s really interesting to see how a general vote pans out compared to the judge choice.  Drop on by and cast your vote – and obviously if you want to choose my three books then that would be rather jolly decent of you – however, in fairness, there are some damned impressive covers this year and choosing is going to be mighty difficult.  Wow.  Just wow.

Here they be:

1. Bookworm Blues

A Dance of Silver and Shadow: A Retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Beyond the Four Kingdoms Book 1) by [Cellier, Melanie]The Snowtiger's Trail (The Windhaven Chronicles) by [Davis, Watson]Dragonsphere (The Fallen King Chronicles Book 1) by [Fierce, Richard]

2. Fantasy-Faction
The Rise of the Fallen (The Rotting Empire Book 1) by [Fugazzotto, Peter]Carnifex (Legends of the Nameless Dwarf Book 1) by [Prior, D.P.]Blood-Stained Heir (Ascent Archives Book 1) by [Norman, T.]

3. Fantasy Book Critic

4. Lynn’s Book

The Great Hearts: A swords & sorcery fantasy epic by [Oliver, David]Banebringer (The Heretic Gods Book 1) by [Park, Carol A.]Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords: A standalone Yarnsworld novel by [Patrick, Benedict]

6. The Alliterates

Fallen Empire (Ironstone Saga Book 1) by [McArdle, Keith]Whiskey and Dragon Fire: A Dragon Shifter Paranormal Romance by [Peake, Marilyn]Darkmage (The Rhenwars Saga Book 1) by [Spencer, M.L.]
7. The Weatherwax Report
Image may contain: one or more people and textImage may contain: textImage may contain: mountain, text and nature

8. Fantasy Book Review
Revenant Winds (The Tainted Cabal Book 1) by [Hogan, Mitchell]Moroda (World of Linaria) by [McNeil, L. L.]The Vale: Behind The Vale by [Anderson, Brian D.]
9. Booknest
We Ride the Storm (The Reborn Empire Book 1) by [Madson, Devin]The Tainted Crown: The First Book of Caledan (Books of Caledan 1) by [Cowley, Meg]
The First Fear (The Empowered Ones Book 1) by [Olney, Matthew]Song (The Manhunters Book 1) by [Teller, Jesse]Oathbreaker (Legend of the Gods Book 1) by [Hodges, Aaron]

 

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