Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair – #Shortstories – #Canada M. L. Holton, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Multigenre Jean Wilson and Joy Lennick, #Flash Sarah Brentyn, #Suspense Audrey Driscoll

Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair and today short stories.. collections across the genresto dip into.

The first collection that would make a great gift is by M.L. Holton…Sticks and Stones: Ten Canadian Short Stories

About the collection

Ten Canadian Short Stories from Canadian artist and author, Margaret Lindsay Holton
Eclectic & Electric. Satisfying & Satiating. Delightful literary morsels to feed the mind …

From the INTRODUCTION: “… I am offering these stories to a wide range of readers because sharing well-chosen words expands our minds. New synaptic connections are made. We learn. We become more than we are. And, in these challenging times of reflection and crisis, reading really is a supportive and reassuring Gift that we can offer each other.” – mlholton

“Beautiful. A fine collection of memorable moments.” – “Cinematic.”
“Details described impeccably.” – “I loved these stories immensely.”

Experience isolated island life in the North, inner-city dilemmas, a heart-felt funeral, star-crossed lovers, untidy father-daughter dynamics, stories filled with razor-sharp elders and ever-constant rebellious youth – this collection is about life and the living.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Sticks and Stones, the new collection of previously unpublished short stories by prominent Burlington, Ontario-born artist/writer/filmmaker Margaret Lindsay Holton, is surprisingly unsettling.

That it would be unsettling is no surprise: the author clearly articulates in the introduction her objective to entice readers away from their settled beliefs and ideological certainties into unfamiliar cognitive spaces in the hope that more empathetic communication might develop across today’s social and political divides.

The surprise is in just how many different and unexpected ways Holton finds to destabilize the inherent cognitive bias of the reader. Poetic word choices, plot twists, and shifts in perspective are to be expected in the short story format, but Holton combines and recombines these with familiar settings and seemingly familiar characters to the point that even the most ordinary scenes can become hallucinatory experiences.
Holton’s sensibility as a visual artist is evident in the extraordinary number of indelible images that these stories evoke. However, I feel I must refrain from describing in too much detail any of these striking moments lest their impact within the reading be diluted.

The collection includes ten stories, mostly set in the Golden Horseshoe region. Some are simple and touching sketches, some involve fantasy and romance, and some are disturbingly puzzling, while others are puzzlingly disturbing. To reveal more would just spoil the fun.

Although these stories are all newly completed, Holton explains in the introduction how their original drafts were written at various stages over the past forty years, and how the experience of the 2020/21 pandemic inspired her to revisit these works. These reworked stories resonate deeply in this period of isolation and uncertainty. They evolve with a kind of organic accuracy that amplifies an on-going contemplation of the grandeur and significance of the passage of time. (Worth noting, this ability to ‘mark time’ parallel’s her deft handling of multiple generations throughout her 2019 novel, TRILLIUM, a 250-year epic saga set in the Niagara Peninsula.)

Sticks and Stones offers the reader an insightful glimpse of the aesthetic voice of Margaret Lindsay Holton. It rewards the reader with several enduring images and provokes profound questions as it subtly reflects on the beauty, horror, heroism, and hubris of our shared experience, especially during this unprecedented pandemic. It is a good read. I highly recommend it.

Buy the book: Amazon CA – And: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Margaret Lindsay Holton

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Read more reviews and follow Margaret: Goodreads – Facebook Author/Artist fan pageMargaret Lindsay Holton FacebookTrillium NovelTwitter@TrillLINDSAY

The next author is Jane Risdon with her short story collection Undercover: Crime Shorts.

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Apr 02, 2021 Jennifer Shepard rated it five stars it was amazing

This is the first book I read from this author and let me tell you that I loved it! Such a good book with great characters that keeps you obsessed with every page since the first one. The ending of this book.. come on! I just didn´t expect it! Can´t wait to read other books from this great writer! Amazing job! a must-read! A fantastic book that has it all! I happily endorse this story to any and all who are looking for a mystery enjoyable read and a completely different experience than anyone could imagine on their own. ¡Great book!

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US

Also by Jane Risdon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon USBlog:Jane Risdon WordPressGoodreads:Jane Risdon Goodread – Twitter: @Jane_Risdon

The next cross genre collection is by Joy Lennick and Jean WilsonWhere Angels Fear to Tread

About the collection

The joint ages of friends Jean Wilson and Joy Lennick may add up to one hundred and seventy one years, but there’s nothing “old lace” about these two women writers; while the “arsenic” connection is questionable…

Both adept at delving into the messy, murky world of murder, it is enlightening, and sometimes, a relief… to discover their added light, humorous touch. This makes for a diverse selection of highly entertaining short stories to tickle the fancy of readers of all ages and genres.

These varied short stories are ideal to read on a long journey, or when enjoying a quick mid-morning or afternoon cup of coffee.

A recent review for Where Angel & Devils Tread

The charm of this collection of short stories written by Joy lennick and Jean Wilson, is that all of them are driven by interesting and authentic characters in a manner reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s novels. The superstitions, petty prejudices, and pleasures of these very English characters allow for thoroughly engaging stories with plenty of tongue-in-cheek British humour when circumstances and planned actions bring calamity down on their heads. I enjoyed the plots of the various stories but it is the style of the writing that made this a five star read for me.

A few examples of the humour which had me laughing as I visualized the characters are as follows:

“When I managed to get in I could see that Manny had left his mortal coil and wouldn’t be needing any more injections. I have to say the wife beater was very useful and I have developed a philosophy rather like the Ying and Yang that even dead losses have their uses on occasion.” This extract is from Aldgate’s Angel by Jean Wilson which tells the story of a queen’s nurse in 1950s London. In those days the nurses used to make house visits to attend to certain chronic patients. The conditions in which many of these patients lived were eye opening for me and the wry humour pulled at my heartstrings even as I chuckled.

“Mr Lawson, an ex-banker had been caught stealing some cigars from the newsagent along the road. The fool hadn’t remembered that they had security cameras and his antics were well and truly viewed, although a little mistily, and he was arrested without ceremony and taken to the local police station. Angie Roberts had given a hyena-type short laugh. It was typical of bank managers to help themselves to whatever they wanted. She held them responsible for the state the country was in.” This extract is from Death By Design by Jean Wilson in which the residents of a retirement home decide to take the righting of certain wrongs into their own hands.

“Kosher his mother’s home was not. He smiled as she flitted across his consciousness. Having decided while he was still in the womb that he should be a lawyer, she was disappointed when he became a detective, calling him a “Klutz!” adding “You could be killed!”

However, the fact that his younger brother, -“My son, Joseph, the doctor!” – fulfilled a birth wish, left her happy.” from Freeze by Joy Lennick, a murder investigation into the death of a small time crook and drug addict. The investigation grows legs and leads to some interesting findings.

“Adam was fortunate in the fact he had a head for figures and was ambitious. Very! The fact that he worked out and possessed a certain, while to some, oily, charm; had an enviable head of dark head, and expressive eyes the shade of malt whisky, helped his cause – social climbing. But, the years had thinned his hair somewhat and peppered it with several grey strands which persisted in battling against the dyes he tried.” from The Menu/Shopping List by Joy Lennick. When Piers, formerly Adam, Smythe finds a shoping list/menu in a second hand book, he decides the imagined available, attractive, likely well-heeled author of the letter is perfect for someone like him. He is in for his comeuppance.  

Other books by Joy Lennick

Read the reviews and by the books : Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Joy : Goodreads – Blog: Joy Lennick at WordPressTwitter: @LennickJoy

The next review is for the anthology The Shadows We Breathe, edited by Sarah Brentyn and featuring several contributing authors who are on the shelves of the Cafe including Sarah, Mary Smith and Diana Wallace Peach.

About the Anthology

WE ARE ALL PART SHADOW

Life promises joy and sorrow. Alongside the light, there will always be traces of darkness. It is the nature of being human.

In this anthology of short fiction, we explore relationships—how they sculpt us, hurt us, help us, and reveal our deepest desires.

Eight artists, whose words paint worlds, bring you stories of heartache, loss, hope, and forgiveness. They unveil the intimacy and complexity of relationships.

Whether family, friend, or lover, connections to others can hold us up or break us down.

Within these pages, beautiful words are spun into tales threaded with darkness.

Discover the shadows we breathe.

A recent review for the anthology

MacTrish 5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning achievement!  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 October 2021

This remarkable collection of fiction has taken me completely by surprise. I expected it to be good because a couple of friends told me it was. I didn’t expect it to have such an impact.

The book is divided into three ‘volumes’. The first, Flash, has the theme of relationships – but each story is confined to 500 words. There wasn’t one amongst them that didn’t move me. The word limit means that the writers have condensed the usual more rambling narrative of a novel into something that has captured the crucial essence of the tale. All of them ended on a powerful note, often with a twist I didn’t see coming.

The second volume is called Micro and the word count has reduced to a ostensibly unworkable 50 words. These were just as moving, just as powerful and beautifully written.

The third volume is Microburst and the wordcount has plummeted to a mere 10 words. These same authors managed to condense entire tales into these few words. Like I said, remarkable!  

Buy the anthology: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Contributing Authors

Sarah Brentyn Author Page – Twitter – Georgia Bell – Author Page | Twitter – Maria Carvalho Author Page | Twitter – Reena Dobson Author Page | Twitter – Ali IsaacAuthor Page | Twitter – D.Wallace Peach: – Author Page | Twitter – Mary SmithAuthor Page | Twitter

The next review today is for Tales from the Annexe: seven stories from the Herbert West Series and seven other tales by Audrey Driscoll.

About the collection

Seven stories from the world of Audrey Driscoll’s Herbert West Series, followed by seven other tales of illusions, delusions, and mysteries on the edges of logic. Discover Herbert West’s connections to Egypt, and how a dead man can help solve a mystery. Share Charles Milburn’s ruminations as he explores another dimension of his friendship with Herbert. Sample the treats on offer from an ice cream truck from Hell. Ride along with a dad who abandoned his ten-year-old son in the woods where something howls. Find out why a woman paints her bedroom a very special colour. Watch fifteen-year-old Ann as she tries to prove she belongs to the glamorous family on the other side of town. These and seven other curious encounters may be found in this annexe to the ordinary.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

JC Gatlin 5.0 out of 5 stars 14 Short Creepy Tales of Horror & Suspense Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2021

Tales from the Annexe is an anthology divided into two parts. The first part features seven short stories based on characters and settings from the author’s Herbert West series. The second part consists of seven unrelated short stories, all with an H.P. Lovecraft vibe of a dangerous, paranormal world lurking in the shadows.

I really enjoyed all fourteen stories, though I think I liked the last seven better. These stories are filled with interesting, off-beat characters and the author excels at setting a spooky atmosphere. Each story has a current of suspense that keeps the plot moving forward. You just know something bad is about to happen.

“The Ice Cream Truck from Hell” is absolutely my favorite story in the book. In fact, I read it twice because I was surprisingly blown away after the first read. The two misfit teenagers are so well drawn and have such depth that it makes the fate they’re headed toward become increasingly, nail-bitingly tragic. This is one of those stories that can be analyzed for deeper meanings. The ice cream truck that shows up mysteriously in the middle of the night could be a metaphor for so many things.

“A Howling in the Woods” is another stand out. It’s atmospheric and frightening, following a father and son hunting trip into the dark woods. They shot and wounded an elk and are searching for it as the blood-curdling cries of an animal—the dying elk or something else?—echoes through the trees.
The author has an affinity for writing troubled kids and abusive parents, and the world she’s created is twisted and dark in the most intriguing ways imaginable.

As much as I enjoyed this collection of stories, I do feel that the first seven tied to the Herbert West series are weaker than the final seven. Though I enjoyed them, I’m not sure they’re a good introduction to the series. I felt I was missing some crucial information, since I haven’t read the series. Because they are grouped together, it makes the first half of the book feel less rewarding. I think mixing the original stories with the Herbert West collection would allow each tale to stand on its own merits.

Still, I highly recommend this anthology to fans of horror and suspense. It’s a great read.

A selection of books by Audrey Driscoll

Read the reviews and buy the books :Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – follow Audrey: Goodreads – Website:Audrey Driscoll – LinkedIn: Audrey Driscoll

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books… Sally.

 

51 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair – #Shortstories – #Canada M. L. Holton, #Crime Jane Risdon, #Multigenre Jean Wilson and Joy Lennick, #Flash Sarah Brentyn, #Suspense Audrey Driscoll

  1. Reblogged this on Jane Risdon and commented:
    The generosity of Sally Cronin is demonstrated once more with the inclusion of my short story collection, Undercover: Crime Shorts in her fab line-up of authors and their books on her wonderful blog, Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair Short Stories. Thanks so much, Sally, and good luck and Happy Christmas to you, and everyone. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve grown fonder of short story collections since the pandemic started and my concentration lapsed somewhat! These are great additions to anyone’s library and it was lovely to see my review of The Shadows We Breathe here – it’s full to bursting with delicious gems! Many thanks, Sally. xx

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Round Up – 11th – 18th December 2021 – Chart Hits, Christmas Book Fair, Book Reviews, 12 Days of Christmas and Funnies. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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