Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An eclectic collection of book reviews

Short stories, long stories, adventure, mystery and more... I added some really short books to this week's reading list, just for variety. And I read a really good anthology of short stories, but I suppose I should confess one of the stories was mine.

Tomorrow I plan to grab a free ebook from Amazon, so if you're kindling and looking for a story of a strong-willed Appalachian girl swapping coal country for New York City's Upper West Side and struggling to stay true to the promises she made at her mother's deathbed, Promises might be for you. It's by E. G. Lewis, whose novel, Martyr, I reviewed last week and it's free on Wednesday and Thursday from Amazon.

Anyway, time for coffee and book reviews:

Second Wind Publishing's Change is in the Wind is a really fun collection, filled with the sort of short stories that read easily, leave the reader pleased, and don't demand earth-shattering puzzle-solving skills to fathom what they're about. A theme of renewal ties the stories together well, and the topics range from space travel to a lonely garden, love lost to love redefined, regret to desire and more. Plus there's a perfect Easter story, and my own story, Ark. Enjoy this well-balanced collection with a well-balanced 3-star cup of coffee.

Staying with a theme of short stories, Karen Dales' The Guest is short enough for a single cup of 4-start complex coffee, and elegant in a slightly unsettling and intriguing way. Set in a Buddhist monastery, it introduces a curious stranger with an even curiouser "gift," that blends nicely into the characters' approach to death and rebirth.

Next on my list is another short story, Lord Humphrey's Daughter by John Grover. The author does a nice job of turning readers' sympathies around as the truth creeps out. I wished there was more, but of course, he had a much longer collection of short stories out there. Enjoy with a quick cup of 5-star dark intense coffee.

Kamuela Kaneshiro's I didn't mean to kill my best friend is the rather oddly named third in my short story books for this week. Two Steve's at the start make this a rather odd story, but it's fun, evocative of various comedy movies, and entertaining in a grimly satirical way. This dead body's hard to dispose of, and the various characters met on the way invite contemplation of life, death, and more. Enjoy with another dark 5-star cup of coffee.

I did read one novel. The author posted on my blog yesterday--an excellent piece about readers and writers, so don't miss it. The Voynich Cypher by Russell Blake is, as the title suggests, an action adventure starring an amateur cryptographer, similar in style to the Da Vinci Code. The novel's denouement might offend the same readers as the Da Vinci Code, but the story's fun, the locations are great, the mysteries nicely investigated, and the characters have some nice surprises up their sleeves. Mostly well-balanced, enjoy this one with a balanced smooth 3-star cup of coffee.

And finally, for when there's no time to read, I've been playing with Grabarchuk's Sliding Tiles and I love them. Remember those sliding squares where you have to make the pattern right. Well, these have the same tactile reward, a reset button for when you're hopelessly lost, and some seriously interesting puzzles to resolve. Enjoy with lots of cups of 1-star bright crisp coffee to keep the brain in gear.


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