Saturday, 7 June 2014

Some Recent Recommendations


With a holiday and lots of reading time recently, I've enjoyed a lot of books that I wanted to recommend but for which I'm unlikely to find time to write full posts for. So here's some brief snippets about some wonderful books that really deserve more words than I'm giving them...


52 Songs, 52 Stories - Iain Rowana brilliant concept (52 short stories & pieces of flash fiction, written over the course of the year, each titled after a song randomly chosen from the author's ipod on shuffle) and brilliant execution - these short stories veer from crime to the weirdly supernatural to small, devastating emotional epiphanies, from an author with the talent to make a thousand words or so sparkle and linger in the mind. Most of the time he's got a good taste in music, too.

Shadows & Tall Trees 2014there's a lot of anthologies these days with titles like "Year's Best Horror..." etc. Shadows & Tall Trees 6 isn't called such a thing, but it might as well be. A stunning collection of stories, with not a bad one among the bunch. Intelligent, well-written, original horror fiction and (along with the editor's introduction) a passionate manifesto for horror fiction in the short form. Superb.

Horror 101: The Way Forward: a non-fiction book of articles about horror writing; as ever with these things, which of the pieces will be more interesting will vary from reader to reader dependent on how experienced they are and whether such things as writing screenplays have any appeal. But overall this was a useful and interesting read and one I'd certainly recommend to any aspiring authors out there.

A Kiss Before Dying - Ira Levin: a masterfully constructed novel of murder, in which the shifting viewpoints really help heighten the tension. Maybe the climax was not quite as good as the build up, but still I devoured this book in a single day, and it's a long time since I've done that.

La Femme: this one is an anthology from Newcon Press, with each story based around a very loose definition of the femme fatale. Most of the stories here are science-fiction, and most of them are very, very good. My own personal favourites were by Holly Ice, Stephen Palmer, and Frances Hardinge (who managed to write a story from the perspective of a household pet that I really liked - no easy feat as that's normally a real bugbear of  mine).

From Hell To Eternity - Thana Niveau: a collection of short, often brutal, sometimes erotically charged horror stories. I've read a few of Thana Niveau's stories before in anthologies, but this really showcased her range and differing styles.

The Testimony - James Smythe: if, like me, you prefer your science-fiction to be metaphysical head-fuck rather than technological fetish, then this is a must read. An engrossing, original end of the world style plot, about what happens when people all across the world apparently hear the word of God. Or not, depending on your viewpoint. 

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