Short Story Saturday: The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham

short story saturday meme book review

Welcome to Short Story Saturday, a celebration of short stories and anthologies, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!

If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email.  If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.


the whisper jar

he Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham

Published:  May 31st, 2012

Publisher:  Morrigan Books

Retail Price: $2.99 ebook, $8.99/$9.99 paperback

Links:  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Pages: 196  

“I do not know what you have done, but put your mouth right here. Confess your crime to this fruit jar as though it were God’s ear.”
 ~ from The Whisper Jar
Some secrets are kept in jars — others, in books.
Some are left forgotten in musty rooms — others, created in old barns.
Some are brought about by destiny — others, born in blood.

Secrets — they are the hidden heart of this collection. In these pages, you will encounter a Blood Digger who bonds two children irrevocably together; a young woman who learns of her destiny through the random selection of a Bible verse; and a boy whose life begins to reflect the stories he reads…

Most importantly, though, if someone should ever happen to offer you a Jilly Jally Butter Mint, just say “No!”

Review:

The stories in THE WHISPER JAR were perfect bit size pieces for a disturbingly delicious anthology.  I was surprised how connected to each story, which is a difficult feat to accomplish in so little words.  After reading a couple of the stories, I had to stop and nurse my book hangover, since I was not quite ready to let go of the characters.  One of the stories,  THE READING LESSONS, is due to become a full-length novel next year, though I’d think that almost all of these stories would make fantastic full-length books.

Besides the gothic elements, this anthology also dabbles in some controversial topics like incest, pedeophiliacs, underage sex, racial tension, and religious tyrony.  Most of these topics are implied, though I must warn that anyone who is easily offended should not read this book.

Stories that were amazing:

  • Keepity Keep – a love triangle between two brothers and a fairy.  The ending of this story crushed me!
  • The Blue Word – an orphan prepares for graduation.  I wish that this was made into a full-length novel.  I could not believe the ending.
  • The Forgotten Orphan – a boy who discovers the creature upstairs.  Amazing story from start to end.
  • Friar Garden, Mister Samuel, and the Jilly Jally Butter Mints – I’m not quite sure what this story was about.  I’m thinking that the mints were some kind of hallucinogen, but it’s hard to say.
  • The Reading Lessons – reading lessons that can kill you.  I think this story had a slow start, yet and amazing finish.

Stories that were okay:

  • The Whisper Jar – poem about a jar that holds the town’s secrets
  • The Good Part – a brother who will do anything for his sister
  • Maxwell Treat’s Museum of Torture for Young Girls and Boys – a boy collects torture devices.  I didn’t care for this story much.
  • The Adventures of Velvet Honeybone, Girl Werewuff – poem about…umm I don’t actually know.  It’s too poetic for me.

 

about author

 

Housewife 3copyIn addition to The Whisper Jar, Carole Lanham is the author of the upcoming novel The Reading Lessons (Immortal Ink Publishing/May 2013), and twenty-four short stories.  Her work has twice appeared on the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award and her short story Friar Garden, Mister Samuel, and the Jilly Jally Butter Mints was shortlisted for The Million Writers Prize in 2009.  Please visit her at carolelanham.comhorrorhomemaker.com, or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/TheWhisperJar

Coming in 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing –

THE READING LESSONS.  

Based on the award-winning short story from The Whisper Jar…  

 

thereadinglessons-1-200x300

Mississippi 1920: Nine year old servant, Hadley Crump, finds himself drawn into a secret world when he is invited to join wealthy Lucinda Browning’s dirty book club. No one suspects that the bi-racial son of the cook is anything more to Lucinda than a charitable obligation, but behind closed doors, O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright. What begins as a breathless investigation into the more juicy parts of literature quickly becomes a consuming and life-long habit for two people who would not otherwise be left alone together. As lynchings erupt across the South and the serving staff is slowly cut to make way for new mechanical household conveniences, Hadley begins to understand how dangerous and precarious his situation is.

 

The Reading Lessons follows the lives of two people born into a world that is unforgiving as a Hangman’s knot. Divided by skin color and joined by books, Hadley and Lucinda are forced to come together in the only place that will allow it, a land of printed words and dark secrets.

 

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Awards and Acknowledgements 

The Good Part
Trunk Stories 2005
Tales of Moreauvia 2009
Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot 2005 for Outstanding Achievement
in a Short Story
Honorable Mention 21st Annual Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror

Keepity Keep
Fantasy Magazine December 2008
Voted One of the Five Best Stories in Fantasy Magazine for 2008
Honorable Mention Best Horror of the Year Volume One
CATE Award for Best Stories of 2008 at Poison Apple

The Blue Word
The World is Dead 2009
Honorable Mention Best Horror of the Year Volume Two

Maxwell Treat’s Museum of Torture for Young Girls and Boys
First Place Winner at On The Premises 2008
Notable Story of 2008 in the Million Writer’s AwardFriar Garden, Mister Samuel, and the Jilly Jally Butter Mints
Thought Crime Experiments 2009
Short-Listed for the Million Writer’s Award 2009The Reading Lessons
Son and Foe Issue 1 2005
Presented as a pod cast at Parade of Phantoms 2008
Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot 2005 for Outstanding Achievement
in a Short StoryThe Forgotten Orphan
Midnight Lullabies 2007
Honorable Mention 21st Annual Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror
Voted Top 25 in Short Story Horror – Editors and Predators Reader’s Poll
2007

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Story Story Saturday: 13 British Horror Stories

short story saturday meme book review

Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!

If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email.  If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.


13 british horror stories

Thirteen British Horror Stories by Rayne Hall

Published:  February 14th, 2013

Retail Price: $2.99/$3.99 ebook, $6.64 paperback

Links:  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Pages: 100

Review:  These stories are light horror.  They are perfect for people who aren’t horror fanatics and much rather atmosphere over scare.  The descriptions in the books are breathtakingly beautiful and crisp.  The majority of the stories share a similar format.  The main character is introduced and we discover a brief background and get a very vivid description of the current location of the character.  Then we’re taken on a journey that sends goosebumps to the skin, but won’t plague us with nightmares when the story finishes.  There’s amazing character depth and uniqueness in the stories.  It’s clear that the goal of the author is to tell a story and not just scare the bejeezus out of the reader.

I think that the book could be titled “What Goes Around Comes Around” because of how many of the stories play out.  I can’t say that I’d suggest this to MG due to the subject matter in stories like Never Leave Me, but this would be great for YA or Adults that want to dip but not commit into a horror book.

Stories that were amazing: 

  • Take me to St Roch’s – Jean is my favorite character of the book.  Any other character and that situation would go an entirely other way.  The humorous twist at the end made me laugh.
  • Double Rainbows – This story is based on a real beach with super fast tides.  I don’t think I’d have the guts to walk across it, especially after reading this story.
  • Scruples – I was shaking my head at the main character when the twist happened at the end.  He should of known better.
  • The Devil You Know – One of my favorite stories.  This is about a woman running away from an abusive boyfriend only to be confronted by an unknown creature on an empty railway station.
  • Four Bony Hands – A creative twist on a popular Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
  • Beltane – I liked the personality of the character and how focused she was on something so that she completely missed clues for something else.
  • Druid Stones – I hope that this wouldn’t actually happen.  Such a crazy ending!
  • Burning – Possibly the saddest of the stories, especially after reading its inspiration in the prologue.
  • Only a Fool – This one is written in second person and I really like how the ending connected back to the beginning.

Stories that were okay:

  • Seagulls – I liked the setup and how vivid the house and birds were described, but I thought the climax should of been extended.
  • Never Leave Me – I didn’t connect to the characters and perhaps this is because the POV character is a controlling husband.  This story feels rushed and I didn’t grasp the setting like in the other stories.
  • Through the Tunnel – I liked the setup for the story, but the ending was horribly predictable for me and that killed the suspense.
  • I Dived the Pandora – Not being a diver myself, I found it hard to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

 

Excerpt:

The tallest of the gulls, with head feathers standing up like a punk’s haircut, tilted its head back and trumpeted a shattering scream.  Kreeeeee!  Kreeeee!  The white chest vibrated with screeches which could have brought down the walls of Jericho.  Jose wasn’t sure if the window glass trembled, but the shudders in her spine were real.

 

(I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

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Short Story Saturday #20: The Shunned House

The story selected for this week’s SSS is the first I’ve read from H.P. Lovecraft.   If you enjoy weird fiction or horror, then you have to read this short story.  Available for FREE on Amazon as well as other online sites.

short story saturday meme book review

Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!

If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email.  If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.


the shunned house

The Shunned House by H. P. Lovecraft

Originally published: 1924

Retail Price: FREE

Links:  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  HPLovecraft

Pages: 48

Review:  No book blurb is available for this short story by H. P. Lovecraft, however the descriptions within the book will overload your senses.  Lovecraft braids together mood and visual details to paint a picture of quite possibly the most repulsive and horrifying haunted house.

The narrator (never named) and his uncle are obsessed with this haunted house.  The story deviates from the present to include the horrible history of the house and its inhabitants, so when it returns  to the present to follow the narrator through a night spent with his uncle in the house’s cellar, you experience the same dread and anticipation as the characters.

THE SHUNNED HOUSE also has quite possibly the longest sentence ever written:

 

A weak, filtered glow from the rain-harassed street-lamps outside, and a feeble phosphorescence from the detestable fungi within, showed the dripping stone of the walls, from which all traces of whitewash had vanished; the dank, fetid and mildew-tainted hard earth floor with its obscene fungi; the rotting remains of what had been stools, chairs, and tables, and other more shapeless furniture; the heavy planks and massive beams of the ground floor overhead; the decrepit plank door leading to bins and chambers beneath other parts of the house; the crumbling stone staircase with ruined wooden hand-rail; and the crude and cavernous fireplace of blackened brick where rusted iron fragments revealed the past presence of hooks, andirons, spit, crane, and a door to the Dutch oven — these things, and our austere cot and camp chairs, and the heavy and intricate destructive machinery we had brought.

 

 Have you read H.P. Lovecraft?  Do you have any favorite stories to recommend?

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Short Story Saturday #19 The Hunger Chronicles

short story saturday meme book review

Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I find books around 100 pages or less that are self-published/small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!

If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email.  If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.

the hunger chroniclesThe Hunger Chronicles by Tes Hilaire

Publisher:  Self published

Retail Price:  Currently free on Amazon.  $.99 on Barnes & Noble.

Links:  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  Twitter  |  Website  |  Facebook

Pages: 60 pages (119 with preview for LIFE BITES)

If you remember nothing else, remember this…

The nightmare is here. There is no way out. Even death isn’t an escape because it is death. And chances are it’s already taken everyone you know.

…You’re on your own.

Just because the face is familiar doesn’t mean they won’t kill you. Hiding won’t help. And it’s past time to run. They’re already here. And hunger is the only thing they feel.

Review:  THE HUNGER CHRONICLES is a collection of short stories based in a zombie apocalyptic world, however this novella goes way beyond all expectations of zombie stories.  I was flabbergasted by the amount of character depth and how instantaneous I connected with each of the main characters.  The voice is so different for each one that I it doesn’t even seem like one author wrote THE HUNGER CHRONICLES.

By 50% I knew I had to go see if this author wrote any other books.  By 100% read, I was ready to purchase the companion book.  And, then I discovered that it was her only book not available in paperback.

Each story is stand alone.  The stories combined paint a hopeful yet morbid picture of what society has turned into.  I think the ‘hope’ resonating through each story is the reason why I found the novella so irresistible.  In most zombie books, there is no hope.  There is no plan for redemption.  But, each of these stories, particularly show that there might one day be an end to the zombie epidemic.  Now, forgive me as I beg the author to release LIFE BITES on paperback for me.

 

Don’t wait!  Pick up your copy while it is FREE on Amazon.

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Short Story #18 Five Minutes Alone

short story saturday meme book review

Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are both self-published/small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!

If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email.  If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.

Disclaimer:  This week my pick isn’t a stand-alone short story.  It is the first story in an anthology.  At first, I was a little hesitant on reviewing just one of the stories, but then I read it and it’s pretty awesome.  A short film of this story will be uploaded on the author’s website in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned.

25 perfect days

Five Minutes Alone by Mark Tullius

Publisher:  Vincere Press

Retail Price: $2.99

Links:  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Author Links:  Website  |  Facebook

Pages: 6 (entire book is 322 pages)
“Five Minutes Alone” is the first story of the dystopian novel, 25 Perfect Days, which chronicles the path into a hellish future of food shortages, contaminated water, sweeping incarceration, an ultra-radical religion, and the extreme measures taken to reduce the population.
 
Higher taxes, strict gun control, an oppressive healthcare system. Complete media control, genetically modified food, experimentation on citizens. The push of depersonalizing technology, unending wars, government sanctioned assassinations. Is this collection of stories merely science fiction or soon to be fact? Are these policies designed for the greater good or disguised to benefit a chosen few at the expense of the masses? Is this brave new world the best we could do or part of a sinister grand plan?
Through these twenty-five interlinked stories, each written from a different character’s point of view, 25 Perfect Days captures the sacrifice, courage, and love needed to survive and eventually overcome this dystopian nightmare.

 

Review:  It’s pretty impressive how the author revealed clue after clue about what the 5 minutes meant and I didn’t “get it” until the last couple of paragraphs.  I actually re-read the story and knowing the ending it just completely felt like I was reading a whole different story.  It’s like watching the Sixth Sense and knowing he’s dead.  FIVE MINUTES ALONE is a superb short story and if it is any indication of the rest of the book, 25 PERFECT DAYS will be unlike anything else you have ever read.

The writing is clunky in one or two of the sentences, but otherwise great characters and story execution.

 

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