Friday, April 30, 2021

A Place to Be

 

In this haunting collection, one of Jesse Falzoi’s characters imagines the word “Wuthering” means “From all directions and never the one you anticipated.” Using this definition, these are Wuthering stories, coming at life from many angles, each one full of surprise and illumination. Falzoi’s characters thrum with yearning—for connection, for meaning, for a place to be, to belong. They will find a permanent home inside your heart.

RRP £8.00

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Jess Falzoi’s A Place to Be is a collection of stories that burn in you long after you have read them - be prepared to be haunted by a strong voice, a strong sense of place and a strong energy driving each story. Falzoi is a hybrid AS Byatt and Raymond Carver - she combines an urgent, existential stark Minimalism with a complex tapestry of rich inner lives of her characters. Each story is a lattice, a delightful,  delicately woven fabric where relationships are held together by the finest of threads. These stories are sensitively told, emotionally taut, the words  explosive, the form inventive. A Place to Be is Einstein's cottage in candlelight, a chance encounter in the back seat of an ex-pimp's car in a barren nowhere place in Northern California, being barricaded with a mother and her children in an apartment in a post apocalyptic black out: these stories will surprise and dance in you, and burn their way into your heart.

Paul Williams 

I find reading a short-story collection is far more exciting than opening a box of assorted chocolates. After all, there is a guide on the lid so you can leave the ones you're not keen on for your boyfriend and eat all the cherry and strawberry soft-centres for yourself; it's not what I call an assortment. They are fixed and predictable. In this anthology, all you know is that you will enter worlds which seem understandable at first but will confound your expectations In 'When the Curtain Closes', the setting is a typical first-world city of supermarkets, schools and fully-equipped apartments where, in one, a mother whose husband is away on business tries to keep her two children calm, clean and fed during a catastrophic power failure. However, the more you read, you realise their lives, while seemingly normal with homework and teeth-brushing eating sandwiches and pasta is unreal. Could this be the Apocalypse or perhaps a metaphor for a marriage-breakdown? And then the lights work. This is not a let-down ending as I still can't stop thinking about it. Each time I read it, I found something new. And so it is with all these stories. Here's another example. 'The Last Planet' opens with a couple eating in a restaurant and the man says that he wishes to end their relationship. Only, the heart of the story is how that man looks after a younger - a stranger – he meets on a bus who has drunk too much and has been sick all over him so he takes her home and meets her younger brother and much, much more.

That's why I love literary fiction and why it always intrigues me. It's never boring or predictable. If I offer a small caveat it's that many of the stories read too much like American creative-writing class exercises, such as writing from the second-person viewpoint or using the vocative case. Having said that, keep your eye on Jesse Falzoi. I like her style and expect to read more.  

Sally Zigmond

Ich habe diese tolle Kurzgeschichtensammlung regelrecht verschlungen und kann sie absolut empfehlen. Es sind sehr tiefgehende, nachdenklich stimmende Geschichten, die mich zum Teil auch noch längere Zeit nach dem Lesen ganz schön beschäftigt haben.
Die zwischenmenschlichen Beziehungen zwischen den Protagonisten,
die mal zufällig und mal weniger zufällig aufeinander treffen, sind sehr fein und sensibel nachgezeichnet.
Eine klare Empfehlung für LeserInnen, die gern Kurzgeschichten lesen und auf der Suche nach wirklich interessanten und berührenden Stories sind, die unter die Haut gehen und einen so schnell nicht mehr loslassen.
  

 

ISBN: 9781907335655


Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Best of CafeLit 8

 


We asked those writers who were published in The Best of CaféLit 7 to vote for their five favourite stories published on the CaféLit web site in 2018. These are the stories that received the most votes.

Each story in this little volume is the right length and quality for enjoying as you sip the assigned drink in your favourite Creative Café. You need never feel alone again in a café. So what's the mood today? Espresso? Earl Grey tea? Hot chocolate with marshmallows? You'll find most drinks in our drinks index.

RRP £8.00

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'The short stories in this collection are all very different in tone and content. Always well written and thought-provoking, they will make you laugh or weep and experience all emotions in between. An easy collection to dip into when you have a spare moment. I enjoyed reading all the stories but, if I had to select my favourites, I would say A Walk in the Woods by Jo Dearden for its beautiful descriptions, Induction Day by Janet Howson as I could emphasise with the main character and Rose Tinted Glasses by Linda Payne for its dry or unconscious humour. '
 
 
Contributors
Jim Bates, Mehreen Ahmed, Peppy Barlow,  Penny DaleRobert Daley, Jo Dearden, Jacqueline Ewers, Alyson Faye, Laura Gray, Richard Hough, Janet Howson, Gill James, Pat Jourdan, Caroline S Kent, Shawn Klimek, Dawn Knox, Kim Martins, Linda Payne, Paula R C Readman, Hannah Retallick, Allison Symes Lisa Williams, Robin Wrigley.

ISBN: 978110542453


 










 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Nativity

 


Many of the stories in this collection take place at or near Christmas time. There are stories of new births, of rebirths, of new beginnings, and there are a couple that deal with the joys and sorrows of the annual Nativity Play.

Again this year it was difficult to make the final choice. There are so many skilled writers out there. There was little wrong with any of the writing we read but in the end we went for the strongest stories and for those tales that best interpreted the theme.

There are some familiar authors in this volume and also some new writers. We treasure them all.

 

RRP £9.00

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'I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories which range from traditional to dark, from comedic to heartfelt and everything in between. Don't let the title put you off - these are not traditional nativity stories - far from it! They are stories with a nod to the nativity some more solid connections than others but at the heart of this collection is life and life in abundance.There really is something for everyone, I particularly enjoyed Drawn by the Sea by Jeanne Davies and New Shoes for Christmas by Nicole Fitton. A great collection of shorts that will not disappoint.'

 

'The stories are so varied, dramatic, melancholic, dark and comedic, there is a story to suit everyone.
My particular favourites were Emmanuel by Steve Wade and Entranced by Margaret Bulleyment, both very different yet heartwarming and enjoyable to read. '

 

'This collection of nineteen separate short stories centers around the themes of birth and rebirth and the idea of new beginnings. It is not specifically a group of Christmas stories, although Christmas is a key feature of several of the entertaining and evocative tales.'  

 

Contributors:

Sally Angell,Jim Bates, Margaret Bulleyment, Finn Clarke, Elizabeth Cox, Jeanne Davies, Alyson Faye, Nicole Fitton, Linda Flynn, I L Green, Vanessa Horn, Janet Howson, Doug King, Dawn Knox, Joy Mawby, Maeve Murphy, Aqsa Mustafa, Adrian Naylor, Paula R C Readman, L F Roth, Nicolas Siregar, Dianne Stadhams, Allison Symes, Steve Wade   
 
ISBN: 9781907335761
 
 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Basilwade Chronicles

 


The Basilwade stories were originally published on the CaféLit website, where you can access short stories that go nicely with a cuppa. We even suggest a drink! Dawn Knox’s stories contain characters and situations that may seem a little larger than life at first glance but we can soon see that everyone involved is very human. And don’t we all recognise the quirkiness of village/small-town life?

Come speed dating with clueless Derek, join knit and natter for unwanted beauty tips and marvel at Ichabod Bunch’s messages from beyond the grave.

Basilwade. Where else would you find so many zany characters to delight and surprise?

 

RRP £9.00

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I've just finished reading this book and I found that once I'd started I couldn't put it down.
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of different subjects that Dawn can write about whether it be romance, science fiction, history or anything else.
This book had me laughing with every page I turned and I was quite disappointed when I had finished it. I hope there will be a Basilwade part two.
I look forward to Dawn's next book whatever subject she writes about.
 
 
 
 
I loved this book! A group of short stories that feature the same characters so it can be read as a book. Lots of real life situations and laugh out loud escapades! There is a link between each story with a character in the previous story going on to then have their own story which makes it enjoyable.
I didn’t want it to end!
I didn't mean to read this all in one sitting, but it was so funny, charming, and rollicking that I couldn't help myself and now my phone is in desperate need of charging (Kindle app).So here's the deal: picture Corner Gas as a series of character driven shorts following many characters, taking place in the English countryside. Perhaps Terry Pratchett wrote a couple of episodes and then Father Ted got into it as well.That might give you an idea of what to expect from this delightful and hilarious read.
I now need to read The Macaroon Chronicles because it looks amazing too.
Thanks to the author for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated as I haven't laughed that hard in a while!

 
 
ISBN:  9781910542477
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Monday, April 26, 2021

The Power of Love

 

 

The stories in THE POWER OF LOVE are quite simply about LOVE of all kinds. If you like romance, then these short stories are written just for you as well. There is plenty of that! The huge clock on Waterloo station acts as catalyst for that. But the collection also shows us other sorts of love: family ties, enduring love, old love, forbidden love, mended love, children’s love for their parents, parents’ love for their children, a love for old buildings, and love between animals and humans.

RRP £8.00

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'This collection of eighteen different stories show love's "infinite variety."'
 
'Here are some heart warming stories which are very readable. They are just right for downloading to a Kindle or smart phone to grab a quick read during a spare moment. The author has a knack for holding one's attention to the end of each short narrative which leaves the reader with the feeling of a time well spent. I recommend this work to anyone who enjoys short fiction. '
'If you're looking for short stories to read then look no further. These are great reads from Phyllis. The stories are tender, loving and well-written. From a little boy's wish to have his parents re-unit, to a troublesome brother banning his sister her true love, to an upset at a funeral, Phyllis captures all forms of love in up-to-date situations. I'd recommend these stories to everyone.'  
 
ISBN:  9781907335723
 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Tales from Where the Wall is Cracked

 

 

In this debut collection of short stories Paul Bradley takes a look at how extra-ordinary everyday life can be. Kitchen sink realism, magic realism and humour are deployed to present a variety of characters, many of whom live on the margins and cannot or will not fit in. In these pages you will meet a walrus man, a mynah bird called Hitler, Kendo Nagasaki, gypsy Romana, a lonely signaller and many others in an eclectic variety of edgy tales from where the wall is cracked. Wherever possible, light shines through.

RRP £ 7.00 

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ISBN: 9781907335747

Saturday, April 24, 2021

A Most Amazing Zoo

 

What happens when the Queen visits Zedgate Zoo? Well she meets a lot of amazing animals and finds out a lot of amazing facts about them.

This delightful story is told through a series of colourful and entertaining pictures and a lively text. There is plenty of extra story in the pictures for the child who has the book read to them, and the text is of an appropriate language level for the emergent reader.

RRP £6.50

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'This is a beautifully presented book and the story is both fun and packed with facts. The illustrations are amazing, the animals' characters shine through and there's lots of fine detail and humour.'
'This is a beautiful book...wonderfully written and illustrated. Both the writer and Illustrator manage to capture children's imagination brilliantly!
Our Grandkids love it!'
'Thoroughly recommend this fantastic and fun book. Younger children will journey around the zoo with the Queen, as many animals and fun facts are introduced and there are a host of things to spot and talk about in each picture. It is also a great for a reading child who loves animals and a comical bedtime story. '  
 
ISBN: 9781910542484

Friday, April 23, 2021

Theme and Variations by Vanessa Horn

 



Theme and Variations is a collection of sixteen flash fiction stories with music – some of it harmonious, some discordant – running through them.

  • A participant in an internalised music scheme chooses to ignore what he assumes is just a glitch…
  • A story vending machine provides more than just a good read for an apprehensive job applicant…
  • When God decides that the Ten Commandments are outdated, how will Saint Peter manage the re-write…?
  • A silent child finds his own way to communicate…
  • A woman’s music competes with her boyfriend for her affections…

Although fictional, these stories also contain many elements of realism. After all, music will always be with, around or in you.

RRP £6.00 

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ISBN: 9781910542514 
 
Read an extract:

A Question of Timing

David paused in his morning ablutions and peered into the misted mirror. As anticipated, the Darkness peered back at him; always present, there was no reason to expect it to be otherwise. He sighed.

Then, ensuring every towel was hanging rose-pattern outwards as required, he left the bathroom. Slowly made his way downstairs, his slippered feet flip-flopped on each step. Towards the kitchen. Towards Dorothy.

She didn’t look up as he entered. Instead, she huffed then grunted, “Your breakfast’s burnt.”

David sat down heavily. “It doesn’t matter.” He took a quick bite of the charcoaled toast, trying, without success, not to grimace.

His wife shrugged. “Your fault. How long does it take to have a shower?”

Knowing no answer was required, David crunched the last mouthful with relief and then rose from the table.

Moving through to the small utility room - Toby at his heels - he changed his slippers for outdoor shoes and retrieved his terrier’s lead. David clipped it on securely and turned back to Dorothy. He spoke softly, “Won’t be long,” then left the house.

As he shut the small wooden gate firmly behind him, David felt his shoulders begin to loosen and his heartbeat reduce into a more peaceable rhythm. The Darkness was still present. That never went away.

Looking down at the small dog, he smiled sadly. “No way to live, is it, lad?”

In response, Toby cocked his leg against the nearby lamppost, urinating abundantly.

“Exactly,” murmured David, waiting patiently before walking on.

Down the quiet street and towards the churchyard. The usual routine. It isn’t  an unpleasant morning, not for October.. Sunny but with a hint of a nip. A bit like Dorothy when we  first met, forty-odd years ago. A girl who knew her own mind, did her own thing. Didn’t need a man, either.

David, immediately captivated by Dorothy’s free and outgoing spirit, persuaded her otherwise. Eventually. Now, and certainly not for the first time, he wondered whether he should have left her to do her own thing. Maybe then she wouldn’t have grown so bitter. So vindictive.

I was so taken by her free spirit. So outgoing. So unlike me. Well, they say opposites attract. Still I persuaded her – eventually. But… maybe I should have left her to do her own thing. Perhaps she wouldn’t have become so bitter then. Vindictive even.

But that hadn’t been the case.

I didn’t stand in her way. I encouraged her in everything – her career, her hobbies, her life. It’s not my fault she lost interest in everything. Her animosity isn’t my doing so why do I feel so often that it is?

David and Toby turned into the entrance to the churchyard, the latter sniffing enthusiastically at the half-sunken gravestones lying either side of the path.  David stopped to look at the notice board. There they were – the yellowing coffee morning announcements, circa 2012, and handwritten postcards advertising babysitting, lawn-mowing and the like. Nothing new.

Ready to move on, he suddenly heard a noise from inside the church. Some sort of clang or clank? He waited. Moments later, the sound was repeated and, with sudden recognition, he nodded. “The bells, Toby - someone’s got them working at last.” 

Deciding to investigate, he pushed open the heavy door and stepped inside. Blinking at the dimness, he eventually spotted a small group of men standing in a semi-circle at the far end of the church, holding vertically hanging ropes of varying thickness.

“Come to join us?” A stout man indicated the unmanned rope by his side.

David hesitated. “Well, I – “He glanced down at Toby, unsure about the protocol of dogs in churches.

The man grinned. “Bring him in, he looks obedient enough. I’m Nev, by the way.”

After only a moment of hesitation, David complied, heading down the aisle towards the group. 

After introductions were made by David and the others - Bill, Pete, Steve and Mark - Nev explained that he’d instigated the get-together. “I’ve wanted to start a campanology group for a while now, but had to get the bells checked out first.”

“Nev’s the only one who knows what he’s doing,” added Steve. “The rest of us are novices.”

David felt his interest stirring. “So, do you… would you… be looking for another regular member, do you think? To join your group?” 

“Definitely,” Nev replied. He passed over the spare rope. “Here.”

After instructing Toby to sit, David gingerly took the rope and moved into place in the line of men. Listened carefully as Nev went through the bell-ringing techniques. Apparently, it was not just a case of holding the rope correctly but you needed to move with and catch it at exactly the right time.

David nodded to himself. Timing, that’s what it’s all about. 

“Time for you to have a go now, Dave,” concluded Nev, after several minutes of instruction.  

 As he began to pull on the rope, David experienced an unanticipated and unfamiliar sensation of power. Control. Without warning, barely acknowledged sparks of pent-up frustration flew from his consciousness, down his arms and into the rope.

 Then, as he continued to pull, the Darkness materialised around him, merging and augmenting these feelings. It expanded like uncontrollable shaving foam, travelling with the momentum of the ringing until - finally – it broke free, rising up, up, up to the rafts of the ceiling. Momentarily halted by the wooden beams, it then narrowed to a slit and pierced a small hole in the roof. Slid easily through and dissipated into the sky.

  Now the Darkness had gone,  Dave could spy a speck of blue sky peeping through the hole in the roof. New. Fresh. Unsullied.  

 It’s hope. Just a little, but enough.

 He smiled, feeling the relief spreading through his body, pore by pore, vein by vein. 

With hope, he knew he would find the courage to do what he needed to do. 

 

Special offer valid until 20 September 2023: sign up to our mailing list and receive a free Kindle file of this book.  Email editor at bridgehousepublishing dot co dot uk to claim your free copy.    

 

 
 
 

The Story Weaver by Sally Zigmond

  Story–telling has often been associated with weaving and spinning. All is craft, cleverness and magic. Here indeed we have a colourful m...