Archive for the ‘E books & E readers’ Category


Dewey #813.08 Short Story Collections

In Book Reviews,CannonballReadX 2018,E books & E readers,Fiction,Short Stories on April 1, 2018 by mrsdillemma Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

20180401_131154.jpgWriting short stories takes a special kind of author, one who cam compress language to its densest form, one who can masterfully piece together a believable story arc in just a few pages – They need to be precise in their delivery and they need to capture the attention of their reader quickly. Single serving fiction, a short story, is the perfect for for our digital age.

I first discovered my passion for short stories at University – In my first year I had a favorite spot in the James Hight library which happened to be amongst the English Literature ( Dewey #813.08 ) stacks, not a subject I studied but I liked the view, the quiet and the short stories.

When I first started work for Borders in 2005 Penguin published 70 pocket sized editions to celebrate their 70th birthday. Most of the selections were excerpts from larger works that were characteristic of the depth and breadth of the penguin stable of authors but the collection also included a number of short stories by very well recognized authors; Roald Dahl, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Dave Eggers and John Steinbeck.

I bought #69 John Steinbeck’s Murder as I was in the midst of delving into ‘Of Mice and Men’ and needed a break. . . ( I have no idea why I chose the same author. . . ) I devoured the collection in an afternoon and it has been a little book that has moved house with me too many times for me to count.

First published in 1938 as part of a larger collection; ‘The Long Valley’, Steinbeck’s short stories ( The Chrysanthemums, Breakfast, The vigilante and The Murder ) are full of the unpleasant side of life experienced by the suffering poor in 1930s America. He had the ability to paint a picture of the the grim reality, the gritty, the nasty and the downright ugly. Steinbeck provided a powerful voice to those with no voice in the heart of depression.

Steinbeck’s titular tale, The Murder, tells the story of a Salinas Valley farmer who marries an eastern european woman, while at first they appear happy, their marriage suffers as a result of a massive cultural divide and eventually they drift apart. I won’t spoil the ending but you can probably guess where the story goes by the title. . .

The Chrysanthemums is about a woman living a stifling existence on her husband’s ranch. This narrative is unusual, it forces the reader to think about what is not said, there is a tone, a dull intonation that runs through the story – On the surface the story seems so banal, so uninteresting, yet it is such an important study of the female protagonist trapped in an unequal and restrictive marriage but who’s strength and vitality shine through.

Women were usually one of two things in Steinbeck’s work; a prostitute or a downtrodden appendage, a wife who is by all means and purpose a possession – although written with dignity and compassion, still unfulfilled, desolate and lonely. Steinbeck creates incredibly detailed environment with such an economy of words, he has such an understated writing style which put even the novice reader at complete ease. His stories are so unsettling and so powerful they resonate even today, 80 years later.

Next time you’re in a bookstore, think about trying a collection of short stories, think about stepping out of your comfort zone, I promise it would be worth your while.



three days in chicagoland

In Book Reviews,E books & E readers,what i'm reading now. . . on September 13, 2013 by mrsdillemma

Three days in Chicagoland – R.J. Ellory, A story told in three parts, three e-book novellas. the sister. the cop. the killer. genius.

Ellory has used a new format to enhance his surprisingly simple story – an e-book short utilised in a surprising way. Ellory’s Three Days was released in three segments, each a month apart.

The trilogy uses three viewpoints to describe a single event, the death of a young woman in 1950s Chicago. It is an utterly intriguing tale, full of emotion, striking social commentary and to top it off, a killer punch.

Ellory has created a dynamic journey which forces us to consider how we deal with preconceptions and even how we deal with the hand we are dealt. His writing is creates an atmosphere that drags you in and you don’t want to leave, you become totally and utterly absorbed, there are elements that will enthrall any lover of crime fiction but others that will appeal to lovers of a damn good story.

The emotions Ellory puts on display here are tangible and heart wrenching, add to that an unexpected and almost perfect ending, and this is one of those stories that will stay with you long after you are finished. Don’t let this one pass you by.

Postscript: Ellory’s publishers created a trailer for the trilogy, it gives a glimpse of possibility, worth a watch.


Wool – Hugh Howey

In Book Reviews,E books & E readers,what i'm reading now. . .,YA literature on March 12, 2013 by mrsdillemma

With a beginning that internet legends are made of, short stories going viral on Amazon, movie rights sold to Ridley Scott at 20th Century Fox and finally an actual paperback. . .  Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it? the science fiction version of Fifty Shades of Grey.

But, the Fifty Shades comparison does the author an injustice, Howey can write. What sets Wool apart from hundreds of thousands of self-published e-books is that it’s a good and compelling story, and very well told.  There are times at which his writing is a little clumsy and the characters a tad wooden and predictable but with a story this bold he can be forgiven. His work is  frightening, its intriguing claustrophobicly and most of all its thoroughly engrossing – a dystopian vision of the future especially in these times of global warming.

Hugh Howey has created a world to rival Orwells 1984, a future in which earth is a toxic wasteland and the survivors live in giant silos underground. The first section of the book ( there are 5 ) revolves around the ritual of the Cleaning – cameras are positioned at ground level to provide images of the toxic remnants of their planet and the cameras gradually get coated in filth, so, the silo authority issues punishment sentences to heretics where they are sent outside to their certain death to clean the cameras.

Wool is the kind of science fiction novel you can give to those who love the genre and those who never read the stuff and they’ll love it.


Cruel Death

In Book Reviews,E books & E readers,what i'm reading now. . . on May 7, 2012 by mrsdillemma

OK, I admit it, I have a guilty pleasure – True Crime. I know the writing is not great and the subject matter pretty brutal but once I get started I just cant put a good true crime story down. I have recently acquired a sony ereader and that gives me an opportunity to purchase true crime at a superb low price… FREE! (or at least under $5.00)

I have just finished reading “Cruel Death” by M. William Phelps, a prolifiic true crime author who appears to be very thorough in his background research and open to questions should you end up with any at the end of the book – I really wanted to have a question as an excuse to contact him!

Cruel Death is the story of a grizzly double murder committed by a husband and wife, the descriptions of the crime itself are disturbing but necessary to determine the means by which the couple are completley and utterly bat shit crazy, its a lurid and gruesome tale of madness, money, sex and murder.

The premise goes a little like this – Erika Sifrit was once a high school basketball star & an honours student, then she met  Navy SEAL Benjamin Sifrit, and married him three weeks later.

Some say Erika was abused by ‘B.J.’ Some say she pulled his strings. But by the time they reached Ocean City, Erika was packing a gun in her Coach bag and was caught in a drink, drugs, guns, burglary downward spiral.

In the resort town, a loving couple crossed paths with Erika and B.J. & shortly thereafter, Erika was wearing a bloody wedding ring on her necklace, while what remained of two dismembered holiday makers was buried in a Delaware landfill, and a modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” story was being written.

The investigation portion occupies a major part of the book,  Phelps includes chapters on the backgrounds of the Sifrits (and their victims) mixed in between with the running current investigation. Each chapter would end with an exciting bit of information but not all of it, then it goes back to the investigation again – leaving the reader with an exciting “edge of the seat” feeling.

True crime titles are a guilty pleasure but Phelps writes well enough to convince me to read another and I’ve just downloaded it!


Stephen King- Mile 81

In Book Reviews,E books & E readers,what i'm reading now. . . on March 31, 2012 by mrsdillemma


OK, I’m all about the touch, feel, look and emotion of a new paperback or if I’m really lucky, a new hardback… but (and I knew the time would come when I’d eventually say it) I’m slightly addicted to digital only releases – where a favourite author releases a new full length novel or short story but only in eBook format.

At the moment I have a list, Stephen King (Mile 81), Michael Connelly (Angle of Investigation & Suicide Run), Dean Koontz (The Moonlit Mind) and R.J. Ellory’s Three Days in Chicagoland.

I can’t get enough, I’m fascinated by the idea of works by such talented (and may I say bestselling) authors not making it to a bookshop shelf. . . .

I don’t currently have an ereader but I think the time is growing closer that I will feel the need to indulge myself and make that purchase. With my commute to work now established as an ambling bus ride rather than a brisk walk the need is growing ever stronger.

I have just finished reading Stephen Kings’ Mile 81 ( ) and I must say it is two of the things I adore about Kings writing; pure unadulterated horror and a short story /nov  ella that leaves you wanting more.

The majority of King’s more recent work has been more mysterious, paranormal, or suspenseful than pure horror but MILE 81 is a return to a  kind of horror that will satisfy those readers who fell in love with King back in the CUJO, CHRISTINE, and IT days.

We meet Pete Simmons, our unlikely hero, heading into trouble just off the I95 at mile marker 81 and to be fair that’s about as far as I’m willing to go….

I now intend on spending the rest of the afternoon curled up in my reading chair well and truly ensconced in Koontz.