Short stories and more, with dark coffee and light to heavy snow

I've always enjoyed short stories and I've read quite a few this long weekend while trapped indoors by the snow. (I've read some r-e-a-l-l-y long ones too...) So here are some more book reviews to warm your kindles, nooks and kobos while you drink hot coffee (or cocoa, or tea) and wait for the snow to melt.

Giant Tales from the Misty Swamp, by Heather Marie Schuldt and others offers a fine collection of three-minute stories, all short, all different, nicely collected, intriguing connected with occasional repeated themes (butterflies and mazes, swamp and carnival...). There's something for everyone, and plenty for each, best enjoyed, for their sometimes dark surprises, with a dark intense 5-star coffee.

For younger readers, Elves, Bikes, Unicorns and Other Fantasies, by Jacquelyn Wilson, offers nicely different and imaginative tales, simply told, of, well, elves, bikes, unicorns, and a pillowcase. Enjoy with some easy-drinking 2-star coffee, and give your smaller kids some fun things to dream about.

For slightly older kids, The Gateway, by Steve Simons, offers short chapters detailing the adventures of two English boys suddenly transported, in Gulliver fashion, to alternate worlds. Chapters end on cliff-hangers, nicely recapped as the new chapter begins, making them perfect for bedtime reads. The imagination is child-centered, and the problems will be fun for kids to try to solve while the parents read. Enjoy this with some more more easy-drinking 2-star coffee.

And now, one I read just for me: Skeleton’s Key, by Stacy Green is the third book I've read by this author, and a definite favorite. Romantic mystery suspense, set in the South with a pleasing flavor of North South antagonism, it's got just the right amount of history behind it to feel real and multi-dimensional, and it stands alone convincingly for all that it's the second in a series--in fact, I forgot I'd read the first book, and forgot, until I finished, that this was book 2. Enjoy this elegant novel with an elegant 4-star coffee.

Save Me, by John Meany, is a much darker novel, told in a surprisingly lighter tone. There's a very detached feel to the writing, which separates reader from the spiraling depression of the protagonist, a rape survivor, quite effectively. It makes for a slightly uncomfortable read though. Take a dark 5-star coffee to drink with their dark/light tale.

And finally, Semmant, by Vadim Babenko,is a long dark, very Russian exploration of creativity, sexual relationships, and intelligence, with a science fiction twist. You'll need several coffees as you read, and I'd recommend intense 5-star brews for this slow, intense tale.


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