I'm a big fan of local publications and authors, and those of you who are familiar with my writing know that I also love flash fiction. I recently came across Blink-Ink, a publication that combines these two enjoyments. They publish 50-word (or fewer) stories in a themed quarterly print collection that is just the perfect size for a pocket. On their "about" page: "It has been said that very short fiction conforms to modern short attention spans. Originally that was intended as a joke, but it is true." Their goals are: "To publish the finest in eclectic succinct short fiction, and to be inclusive of writers as well as readers."
I think that their goals are well met. I read two issues, "One Eyed Jacks & Deuces Wild" (Issue # 27) and "The Enchanted Forest" (Issue # 28). The stories have varied interpretations of the theme, from literal to metaphorical. The tone of the stories range from humorous to serious, from poetic to sparse. The genres are mostly literary to mainstream, with some forays into magical realism or speculative fiction. In "Jacks," there is even a 3-part series of shorts by Linda Tyler, which were among my favorites of the collection, entitled "Escape 1," "Escape 2" and "Escape 3." These three stories show different ways a person can escape - from literal running away from an abusive relationship, to accelerating the death of an elderly parent, to provoking a fight in a relationship.
Blink-Ink is a fun little booklet with about 25-30 short shorts per issue, and it's easy to digest in one sitting. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Although I always try to pay special attention to the writing of local authors, my love of Kristan Higgins' work predates my move to Connecticut. I don't remember exactly when I started reading her books, though. How long has she been writing?
Needless to say, I am very familiar with her work - if having read all of her books constitutes familiarity. She writes down-to-earth characters who are easy for the reader to relate to. They are often working men and women, friendly and silly and completely human. Her settings are so detailed that it feels like you could walk down the street. And the voice/comedy of the situations are often cringeworthy good.
In Your Dreams is no exception - it's a great book with great characters If you'd like to know more about it, please check out my full review here at Bewildering Stories. Enjoy!
I recently finished reading The Black Tide: Rebellion (Tides of Blood, Book 2) by Baileigh Higgins. I did a full review of Book 1: Remnants at Bewildering Stories, which you can read here. I was also so excited by the first book that I asked Ms. Higgins if she'd do an interview with me, and she was kind enough to agree. You can read the full interview with her here.
Now, let's dive into Book 2 of the series. Almost everyone else is gone after a deadly disease called The Black Tide has swept across the world. In the first book, the disease was passed manually from victim to victim when in close proximity to someone who was sick - sort of like the flu. The way to avoid contagion was wearing a mask and avoiding contact with bodily fluids. But the first book closes on a horrible mutation of the sickness, which makes it airborne. The survival strategies of hiding from the disease become useless, and the second wave of The Black Tide wipes out nearly everyone.
Ava, her younger sister Lexi, and two acquaintances of theirs are four Immunes, who remain untouched by the disease. But with death surrounding them, they flee their hometown of Riebeeckstad to a remote cabin owned by her ex-boyfriend's family. Ava's still in love with Brian, her ex-boyfriend. They had a brief romance during the first phase of the disease, but he's a soldier, and he was sent to guard the border of South Africa before the second wave hit. Yet she still hopes against hope to see him again, although she knows it's highly unlikely he survived. Immunes are fairly rare.
Yet in Book 2, the reader anticipates a reunion between the two of them. Brian does survive the second outbreak, and he is traveling back from the border with two fellow soldiers, everyone else having perished. His only mission is to find Ava again.
Ava, meanwhile, is just trying to survive. She meets four other Immunes when she makes a supply run to the nearby town, and she's unsure whether she can trust them or not. Her decision could be the turning point of her life, and might lose her the hard-won peace that she's found with her friends and family at the cabin.
Although Book 2 is a bit slower, action-wise, than the first book, I really enjoyed the slow build of tension. As a reader, you just know something's about to hit the fan. And the ending of the book doesn't disappoint, being as much of a cliffhanger as Book 1. I went to turn the page and - darn it! - there wasn't any more.
Book 3: Vanquish will be available in October - and I can't wait to see what happens next (although I'll have to!). If you're a fan of apocalyptic fiction, this is a great series to pick up. I'd definitely recommend it.
It's summer, and to me that means summer reads. I want something light and fun and fluffy, gosh darn it. I live near a beach, so I'm going to pick up a few beach books.
Enter The Model Man by Genie Davis. This book really hit the spot. It's got thrills, it's got mystery, it's got love and a lot of silliness. Although marketed as a romance (and there's plenty of romance), it also has a strong whodunit element to the story. It reminded me strongly of one of my favorite writers, Janet Evanovich, but not in a derivative way.
So if you're looking for a fun read to prop up your piña colada, this might be a good choice. I'm happy to go look up some of her other books, too - after all, summer's not over yet! For a full review of the book, check it out here at Bewildering Stories. Enjoy!
Although I've been reading this genre all my life, it wasn't until recently that I heard the term "science fantasy," which is the mashup of science fiction and fantasy. So think magic and machines, unicorns and space ships. It can be a lot of fun to cross the boundary that separates the two, since I feel that science and magic should, actually, be similar. Just like science follows rules, magic should have rules, too. I'm not a big fan of: "And then there was magic, so it solved everything!" Nope. Not for me.
But I digress. If you want to take a look at a fun new science fantasy mashup, turn to Skin by K.A. Krake. Although it's the fourth book in the series, I didn't feel like I was deprived by jumping right in. You can read a full review of it here at Bewildering Stories. I hope you enjoy reading Ms. Krake's impressive world building as much as I did.
For those of you who have read my reviews for a while, you’ll know that a poet I enjoy reading is Gary Beck. One thing that I think informs his poetry is the breadth of his writing experience: in addition to poetry, he has written plays, he has written essays, and he’s the author of novels and short stories. I recently picked up his latest poetry collection, Tremors, which I think is one of his strongest poetry collections to date. The review was published today in Bewildering Stories. I hope you like it as much as I did.
And if you'd like to learn more about Mr. Beck and his writing, head over to my blog here to read my interview with him.
One element of fiction that I enjoy is the nonfiction aspect of it. What I mean by this is that I always like to learn something new, something factual from the real world. For example, I love to read about a profession I’m not familiar with or a location I’ve never heard of or been to or, just generally, a way of life that is different from mine.
It was with this thought in mind that I picked up Cindy O’Quinn’s book Dark Cloud on Naked Creek. It explores the world of Appalachian folklore and the "Cunnin' Folk," and while it is speculative fiction, it had a lot of interesting details about a way of life that is unique.
If you'd like to know more about the book, please check out the review published in Bewildering Stories today. You can read the review here. Hope you enjoy it!
For those of you who know me, you'll know that I'm a history buff. I'm always happy to read nonfiction books, and I absolutely love very detailed fictional stories set during pivotal moments in time. I especially enjoy reading history from around the world.
Alice S Hill's debut novel, When the Tree is Dry is set in fairly recent times, but it is filled with life and death struggles for basic human and political rights in Zimbabwe. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who is looking for a fast-paced story filled with sympathetic characters, mostly female protagonists, who must do what they think is right - for themselves, their families, and their country.
A full review of the book has been published at Bewildering Stories - you can check it out here. Happy reading!
I read a lot - depending on my writing schedule, I can usually read about a book a day. Some of the books are fantastic and I would love to recommend to everyone - some, not so much. Either way, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I'm reading at the moment.