Category Archives: Short Stories

Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past – Review

Title – Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society
Author – Dorita Avila, Anne Aylor, Anna Belfrage, Richard Buxton, Christopher M. Cevasco, Lorna Fergusson, Cj Fosdick, Mari Griffith, Patricia Hilton-Johnson, Lisa Kesteven, Vanessa Lafaye, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, Yvonne Lyon, Jeffrey Manton, Nicky Moxey, S. Pitt, Jasmina Svenne, L C Tyler.
Genre – Historical Fiction/Short /Stories
Length – 171 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Gripping and thought-provoking stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society.

A new anthology of nineteen award-winning and acclaimed historical fiction short stories.

Distant Echoes brings you vivid voices from the past. This haunting anthology explores love and death, family and war. From the chilling consequences of civil and world war, to the poignant fallout from more personal battles, these stories will stay with you long after the last page.

This selection of winning and shortlisted stories from recent Historical Novel Society writing awards includes The House of Wild Beasts by Anne Aylor (winner of the Historical Novel Society Short Story Award 2014), Salt by Lorna Fergusson (winner of the HNSLondon14 Short Story Award) and Fire on the Water by Vanessa Lafaye (winner of the HNSOxford16 Short Story Award).

Review

If I had to pick one word to describe this anthology it would be heart-rending..the tales were all so beautifully raw and emotive. At the end of the book I wasn’t sad as such.. it just knocked the wind from me and brought me back down to earth. My life has been so far relatively pain free..not everyone has been so lucky.

It’s a very personal collection of tales, In very few word you find yourself immersed like the events are playing out right in front of your very eyes. While it might be a quick read I found myself drifting in-between stories, rereading bits, contemplating events in my own life that seem so trivial now. It left a lasting impression.

It’s hard to pick a favourite from the collection but The Happy Island by Christopher M. Cevasco really hit me hard and I won’t forget it any time soon.

I challenge you to read this book and not be touched by it.

A major plus for this book is although this is a collective work by a number of authors it all fits together nicely. While the stories differ in setting the tone filters throughout the book to make it an easy flowing read.

It’s a touching collection of thought-provoking tales that I highly recommend.

I was lucky enough to be given an ARC copy of the book by Corazon Books to read but how could I read this and not buy my own copy..for me it was worth every penny.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Chase: The Hunt for a King by Thomas Dellenbusch – Review

Title – Chase: The Hunt for a King (Chase (EE) Book 2)
Author – Thomas Dellenbusch , Richard Urmston (Translator)
Genre – Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Length – 118 Pages
Publication – Feb 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Translated Version from the popular German book series of Movie-Length-Theatre-Of-The-Mind-Stories

Scotland on the brink of independence: the government is planning its own Scottish monarchy. But when a member of the close-knit planning group reveals the identity of the candidate for the throne, suddenly people appear who want to prevent this royal ascension at all costs – including murder. When CHASE is called in to assist, Jérome and Chen Lu travel to Glasgow. Together with the Scotsman James Campbell, they hunt for his father’s murderer. A secretive wax seal leads them into a maze of ancient legends and lost manuscripts. Can they solve the mystery and save the king – or will old ruins become their grave?

Review

This is the second book in the CHASE series. If you didn’t catch my review of book one then click here –  The Hunt for the Mute Poetess.

On to book two…. This time the author lets other members of the CHASE team shine and this meant the story was not only enjoyable but fresh. This added some depth to the team which we were introduced to in the previous book and it’s this kind of slow but steady build-up that makes me invest in a series.

The CHASE team have a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and they’re thrust into a life or death situation as a friend of Jérome’s life hangs in the balance.. it’s all linked to the death of his father and ties to the past and the Scottish monarchy itself.

There’s plenty of twists to this tale and exciting revelations to keep the reader hooked. Fast paced scenes keep the action flowing but there are also points in the book where you and the characters can reflect on events. For me this reminded of TV character Columbo, a real mystery to be solved and it takes the CHASE team to figure things out.

A real joy to read I must admit and both the author and the translator have got this book spot on. I really wouldn’t have guessed this book was translated from German to English at all and the story works well. It especially fits at the moment with Brexit and the question of Scotland’s independence being discussed.

A super quick, easy and fun read. I’d go so far as to say it would be impossible not to enjoy the book.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

The Escape by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Escape: A Forest Lord Short Story
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 19 Pages
Publication – 3rd April 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

All he wanted was a quiet drink…

It’s spring, 1323 AD, and John Little, notorious outlaw, seeks to forget his troubles in a Barnsley alehouse. He didn’t count on the place being packed to the rafters with drunk, belligerent Scottish mercenaries though.
The locals all respect – even fear John – but the strangers from the north only see in him the chance to claim a great bounty.
When the hard stares and furtive whispers turn into explosive violence the chase is on. Without any of his famous friends to help him though, will it mean the end for the giant outlaw?

This new stand-alone Forest Lord tale sees one of England’s favourite sons in a battle for his very life that will hugely entertain all lovers of action and adventure.

Review

So this is a super short fun tale that fits in with McKay’s Forest Lord Series. It slots in nicely between books 2 & 3 so I’d advise not reading this until you’ve finished book 2 at least.

McKay’s Forest Lord series mainly focuses around Robin Hood as you’d expect so this short is a good chance to shine light on Little John.

It’s short at 19 pages but does offer an action packed little tale to read. The plot is really good and it was a really nice change of focus Robin not being involved. Little John gets to show how much of a formidable opponent he is and the image McKay paints is spot on with how I’d imagine the character myself.

I do hope we see more short tales as I think these are the perfect accompaniment to the series.

As usual with McKay you get great writing and can expect a bit of violence but it’s not overly gruesome, which is one of the things I like about this authors books. I know it sounds weird but he manages to add fun to the fight.. That makes sense right? Ha

Overall this is a good short from McKay and it ticks all the right boxes but it really does highlight how much I miss the series. *Sighs*

Definitely one for the fans of the author and let me tell you that ending is what makes it 5*

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

In Three-Quarter Time: A Short Story by Pam Lecky (@pamlecky)- Review

Title –  In Three-Quarter Time: A Short Story
Author – Pam Lecky
Genre – Short Stories
Length – 22 Pages
Publication – Feb 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Dublin 1914 and war is declared. Each of the Cusack family must face the consequences in their own way. Josie and her young man, Anthony Lanigan, have plans for the future. But her sister Lily is also secretly in love with Anthony and has no idea if her feelings are returned.

Anthony is about to emigrate to America to make his fortune. Will he ever return, and if he does, who will eventually win his heart?

Set against a pivotal time in Irish history, from the Dublin Lockout in 1913 through the First World War to the brink of the birth of the Irish Nation, this story will take you through a family’s experience of war and tragedy, loss and love.

Review

I read Pam’s previous novel The Bowes Inheritance a while ago now and promised to keep up to date with her work and she’s offered up a lovely little short story.

In Three-Quarter Time is a moving tale to say the least but the ending left me looking to the future with positivity.

At 22 pages it’s a super short book but you get a full tale. The author easily sets the scene/introduces the characters and the plot develops at a steady pace.

Even in such a short novel there were some standout moments but obviously if I mentioned them it would give the game away but honestly this tale is a roller-coaster ride..up then down then up again.

If you’ve not read Pam’s full length novel yet I’d highly suggest you get this first to introduce you to her work.

All in all for a short its top-notch, likeable characters, good plot development with some twists and events that make the reader become emotionally involved.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

The Stoner Stories – Volume 1 by Frank Westworth -Review

Title – The Stoner Stories: The Stoner Stories 1-5
Author – Frank Westworth
Genre – Thriller
Length – 196 Pages
Publication – Nov 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

An action-packed anthology featuring covert operative JJ Stoner, who uses sharp blades, blunt instruments and his innate persuasiveness to discreetly resolve tricky situations for the British government

This collection contains the first five JJ Stoner short stories plus an all-new, previously unpublished stand-alone quick thriller and other bonus material

Please note that the JJ Stoner stories are intended for an adult audience and contain explicit scenes of a sexual and/or violent nature

FIRST CONTRACT: JJ Stoner was a soldier who killed people for a living and made no bones about it. On a scorching day in the Iraqi desert, when British blood stained the sand, he over-stepped the mark. Faced with a dishonourable discharge and accusations of murder, Stoner accepted an offer from a stranger who represented an intelligence agency, and found himself about to execute his first private contract…

TWO WRONGS starts with great sex and ends in sudden death. US Navy SEAL Stretch McCann believes he’s met the girl of his dreams. Trouble is, she’s married to someone else; another military man not inclined to suffer rivals lightly. Enter JJ Stoner, who offers Stretch an opportunity for action…

THIRD PERSON: A target is being stalked through rain-soaked city streets. Someone seeks JJ Stoner, covert investigator and occasional contract killer. Caution is advised: with Stoner you often get more than you bargain for and this is Ireland, not so very long after the Good Friday agreement. Someone plans to put a cat among the peace process pigeons…

FOUR CORNERED: Stoner needs to prove to his boss that he’s more than a one-trick pony whose only skill is delivering an abrupt ending. But when a static stake-out abruptly escalates into live fire, JJ is distracted by two killer women. What should have been a ‘routine conversation’ with a disenchanted weapons inspector veers into violence with fatal consequences…

FIFTH COLUMNIST: A bent copper is compromising national security and needs to be rapidly neutralised, but none of the evidence will stand up in court. That’s exactly why men like Stoner operate in the shadows, ready to terminate the target once an identity is confirmed…

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: When Stoner returns to the USA he’s treading on sensitive territory. No Englishman is exactly welcome in Louisiana so soon after the international oil rig disaster. Stoner claims he’s visiting New Orleans for the annual jazzfest, but the agents sent to intercept him have a hard time believing this…

This anthology introduces the central characters from the JJ Stoner / Killing Sisters series in six complete, stand-alone stories. You don’t need to read the longer novels first: you can start right here if you like

Review

Last year I read the first 5 shorts in the Stoner series by Frank Westworth. I was very kindly gifted the first book but I happily purchased the rest in the series I enjoyed the first that much. I was lucky enough to be offered the chance of a copy of the anthology containing the shorts I’d already reviewed but with the added advantage of an extra tale for me to enjoy!

If you’d like to see what I thought of the original 5 shorts click the images below to open up the reviews I’ve previosuly posted.

 

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Looking at the Stoner Stories collection as a whole.. what does it offer you over the purchasing the single stories?? Well to be quite honest the anthology offers value for money. It’s currently £1.99 on kindle which is a steal.

As I also mentioned you get an extra story in this anthology too, SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP. This short builds nicely on the series as Stoner becomes more established and it was a treat to see Stretch in this one as he’s one of my favourites in the series.

I’m not going to spoil the tales for you. What I will tell you is Frank likes to keep you guessing right until the end..you really don’t know where the tale will take you or what will happen to Stoner next.

I enjoyed reading all the stories individually last year but the collection is so much stronger together. Short tales for me are easy to forget sometimes..not that they don’t stick with you but you’ve got to work hard in 50 pages to hook a reader in..this collection perfectly keeps you hooked as you can go from one story to the next and really helps me as a reader enjoy the characters.

The Stoner Collection is full of twists with intriguing characters. Frank Westworth leaves you wanting more and with a short tale that’s never a bad thing in my book..you want to feel like you get value for money (which you certainly do) but you want to know there’s more to come and that the author is hooking you in for future tales.

This collection is highly recommend for anyone who likes shorts like myself, like a bit of a thriller but don’t want the word count or if you just want to try something new.

Great book for a bargain price! Check it out.

My thanks go to the author and also Rowena at Murder Mayhem for the chance to read/review the collection.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Code Breaker by A.J. Trevors – Review

Title –  Code Breaker: An Alexander Hastings Novella
Author – A.J. Trevors
Genre – Short Stories, Crime, Thriller
Length – 26 pages 
Publication – Dec 2016
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

‘So, can you hack it, my friend?’

‘Give me three seconds and a good connection. I can hack into anything’

Cyber-sleuth Alexander Hastings is a hacker extraordinaire

With the help of his phone, he can hack into anything and everything connected to the Australian Central System, also known as the AuCS, making the futuristic city of Melbourne his veritable playing ground.

However, when his past resurfaces, Alex will need to be at the top of his game in order to uncover the shadowy plans of the techno-terrorist organisation Black Binary, their leader and ex-mentor Roman Caster

Follow Alex as he races against the clock to uncover their plans and prevent them from coming to pass.

Before it’s too late.

Review

The last time I read the work of A.J. Trevors I used the word potential and I think this short story shows how well his work is progressing. Yes it’s a short story but the plot felt tighter.

Alexander Hastings is a hacker but he’s not always been on the side of good. In this tale he’s ask to help the police by looking into his ex-mentor.

There’s a really good twist in this story and I really enjoyed the technical side of the tale since these days anything can be controlled/hacked with enough knowledge and time.

This is a good short tale, detailed enough for s short and fun with it and the bang at the ending worked perfectly.

If you want something quick to read then give it a go.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

My thanks go to the author for the chance to read/review their work

Fifth Columnist by Frank Westworth – Review

Title – Fifth Columnist: A JJ Stoner short story (The Stoner Series Book 5)
Author – Frank Westworth
Genre – Thriller
Publication – Sept 2016
Pages – 50 Pages
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

An action-packed quick thriller featuring covert operative JJ Stoner, who uses sharp blades and blunt instruments to discreetly solve problems for the UK government. In Fifth Columnist, a bent copper is compromising national security but none of the evidence will stand up in court. That’s exactly why men like Stoner operate in the shadows, ready to terminate the target once an identity is confirmed…

Fifth Columnist is a quick thriller, an hour’s intrigue and entertainment. It features characters from the JJ Stoner / Killing Sisters series. You don’t need to have read any of the other stories in the series: you can start right here if you like.

As well as a complete, stand-alone short story, Fifth Columnist includes an excerpt from The Redemption Of Charm (to be published in March 2017).
Please note that FIFITH COLUMNIST is intended for an adult audience and contains explicit scenes of a sexual and/or violent nature.

Review

I actually read  Fifth Columnist last year not long after it was released but I’ve been waiting to review it until I had the time to read it again as part of The Stoner Stories collection. Look out for that review soon :).

Fifth columnist is the fifth tale in the JJ Stoner short stories. The author has also wrote two full length novels that feature some of the characters but I’ve not had a chance to read them yet and can confirm it didn’t affect how much I enjoyed or understood these short stories.

Once again Frank Westworth has given us a super short, informative and intriguing tale.

What Frank does well for me is that he gives you just enough information to follow the action but not enough so to give you the full picture. For me this works perfectly. As someone who is yet to read the full length novels it hooks me in.. makes me want to know more about the characters. I can quite imagine also that if I had read the longer novels then these shorts would build nicely onto the series.

Focusing on Fifth columnist itself I have to say I enjoyed it..there’s quite a build up with this one then BANG.. twist..and I was left rereading the page so I could fully take in what had just happened..It was the wow moment I was looking for at just the right time.

I enjoy short stories like this, it’s a great way to see how an author writes before committing to larger works.

Overall this is another great short from Frank which builds nicely onto the foundations set in the previous shorts. I highly recommend you read the shorts as a collection as I feel you get more from it that way. I’ll certainly be making time to fit more of Frank’s work into my reading schedule this year.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.
If you want to know more about The Stoner Stories collection my review will be posted next week but in the meantime you can find out more on Goodreads or Amazon.