year in review

2016 Round-Up: Short Stories

Happy New Year, and 久しぶり*!
*”long time, no see”

Starting today, I’ll be doing a round up of the best short stories, poetry, and finally, books I read in 2016.

Betty and the Squelchy Saurus, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Fireside Fiction)

(1) Closets and under the beds are monster territory. Children may obtain items from the closets during daylight hours, as long as they knock before entering. Items that fall under the bed should be considered lost forever.
(2) Monsters must not be seen during daylight hours. Monsters are free to roam the orphanage at any hour of the day or night, so long as they are not seen.
(3) Monsters may not eat children during daylight hours.
(4) Monsters may eat children at night ONLY if the child (or any portion thereof) leaves the safety of its bed.
(5) Children may ask adults to check for monsters under the bed or inside the closet. However:
(6) Children may not, under any circumstances, request that an adult drag a monster out of its territory to shoot or otherwise kill the monster. Violation of rule No. 6 will release the monsters from the terms of this treaty.

If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love
, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine)

If you were a dinosaur, my love, then you would be a T-Rex. You’d be a small one, only five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you. You’d be fragile-boned and you’d walk with as delicate and polite a gait as you could manage on massive talons. Your eyes would gaze gently from beneath your bony brow-ridge.

Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass
, Jeremiah Tolbert (Lightspeed)

“All my life! All my life, I’ve read stories about fantasy worlds. I used to dream about being whisked away to my real parents, to where I really belonged.” Langford offered a tissue, and she daubed at her tears with it. “When the rabbit holes opened, I thought it was only a matter of time. I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find mine.”

She shouted it, didn’t care who heard her now:

He nodded, let her cry for a moment, and then said quietly, “I bet that made you feel like a real Susan Pevensie.”
“Exactly! What did I do to deserve being left behind? At first, it was about escape. It’s all I ever dreamed about, you know? But now, it’s about—”

“Feeling abandoned.”

If I had to pick a favorite, I would, hands down, give that award to “Not By Wardrobe…” which is the only short story of 2016 that got it’s own entry in my personal blog, complete with excerpt.

My goal was to read at least one short story a week. That… didn’t always happen, but I’m making it a priority for 2017. This time next year, I should have more short stories to choose from to share with you.


A Disappointment of DNFs: Grim

In her review of Mars One, Pamela asked what’s the collective noun for DNF’d books – you know, like a flock of sheep, a murder of crows, or a misbelief of painters. I suggested “a disappointment of DNFs,” and I’m sticking to it.

This won’t be a regular feature; I’m not here to make fun of books. I pick things up, they don’t work for me, and I put them down. A Disappointment of DNFs will be for books that I didn’t just not care for, but I actively disliked.

16115038Our first featured title is Grim, a collection of short story retellings edited by Christine Johnson.

Goodreads summary:

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today.

is not the first Harlequin Teen book that hasn’t worked for me. Maybe because I’m not the audience for Harlequin’s main imprint, either?

Grim deserves the dubious honor of being the first book featured because it was so boring, so utterly forgettable, that I actually picked it up twice. I was halfway through the Blackbeard retelling before I was like “… wait, this sounds familiar.”

The Blackbeard retelling is pretty boring. Puss in Boots was… fine. Malinda Lo did a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses that took place at a boarding school or a university dorm? but that’s all I remember. C’mon, how bad does it have to be for me to be like “there was a story by Malinda Lo and … I barely remember it ’cause the whole collection bored me to tears”?

Some of my favorite books in high school were fantasy (or SFF) short story collections, too: Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction, and The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm. So I don’t think this is a genre thing, or a format thing.

Sorry, Grim. It’s not me. It’s you.