Marsha Cornelius

Losing it All

Losing it All
Published: March 8, 2013
Author's Twitter: @marshacornelius
Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness. With no family or friends to turn to, Chloe and her children are sucked into the traumatic world of night shelters, and dangerous predators. When they bump into each other at the soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth by taking his mind off his own problems. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high as a working man, and Chloe has hit rock bottom. By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.

Reviewed by Richard Bunning

 

5 Stars

Cornelius sets the reader right into the tough trough of a city’s squalid underbelly. We can imagine ourselves looking into the concrete underpasses of whatever modern urban environment we may know, as a similar story could be written there a thousand times. The ending may be less kind, less relieved by love, but the story will be much the same. True life, sadly, often reads like this.

We are made to see how easy it is to fall so low that an unexpectedly dry corner in the most derelict of landscapes can come to feel like a treasure, a blessing even. Life can be so much worse than living in the shelter of a sturdy cardboard box with just enough mouldy bread or a nearby soup kitchen.

This is a story of continuing hope despite the worst of what life can throw at us, of dealing with whatever damage we are responsible for drawing onto ourselves, of dealing with the consequences of physical and mental abuse; a love story despite the engulfing scum. We are made to see how long and how tough the march from true poverty truly is.

Beautifully written, completely believable, a story that is often paralleled in some way by the real lives of societies all too real outcasts. The end was a great relief. We must finally remember that very few such badly blighted lives end with so much fulfilled hope. This third novel by Cornelius is as different as was each of the first two. Each one is of the same high quality. I will be reading Marsha Cornelius’s next work, whatever ‘genre’ she picks.

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways

Awesome Allshorts: Last Days, Lost Ways
This superbly written short story anthology showcases talented Awesome Indie authors from around the globe. Though from a variety of genres, the stories are all entertaining, contemporary and thought-provoking.   Indulge your taste for good fiction with this short story anthology by authors with bold new voices. Though from diverse genres, the stories share a contemporary and contemplative feel that will linger long after the reader has read the last one. Awesome Allshorts showcases talented authors from around the globe, many whose novels have received multiple honors, including Awesome Indies approved status. Stories selected by Tahlia Newland, Dixiane Hallaj and Richard Bunning.

Reviewed by Bill Kirton

5 Stars

First, a disclaimer. This volume contains a flash fiction story of mine but the review relates to the other 26 contributions. It’s entirely objective. If it weren’t, I’d be undermining my credibility as a reviewer.

The enigmatic subtitle of the collection, Last Days, Lost Ways, hints at disjunction, reflection, scenes in which a variety of voices recount departures, frustrations, lost or decaying loves. In fact, as you read from story to story, the variation in styles and subjects, the movement from striking characters to bleak or funny situations, the range of emotions provoked – all combine to make this a rich experience.

The authors all know how to grab the reader and draw him/her very quickly into the specifics of their settings and the mysteries of the characters and their obsessions. The mood swings from anxious to loving, sinister to funny, despairing to whimsical, futuristic to domestic, romantic to dystopian. Some stories are firmly set in an apparently mundane everyday world, but one unpicked by a character’s reactions to its pressures and interpretations of its moments. Others move straight into the paranormal or historical. But all touch on aspects of life, fears, relationships which will have echoes in readers’ own experience.

The anthology exemplifies the flexibility and continuing relevance of a form which is nowadays enjoying an overdue revival.

Reviewed by Amy Spahn

5 Stars

Full disclosure: One of my short stories appears in this anthology. This review is about the others.

I did not expect these stories to move me as deeply as they did. Short works often struggle to pack a significant punch in their diminished wordcount, but the pieces contained in this collection rise to the occasion. Some had me on the edge of my seat in suspense. Some brought tears to my eyes with their emotional depth. And some utilized unique writing styles so artfully that they should be studied in literature classes.

Like with any anthology, not everything in this book will appeal to every reader. But the breadth and depth of the writing styles, storylines, and people explored make it deserving of a spot on any avid reader’s shelf.

Reviewed by

Ignite

3 Stars

 

This is a collection of stories subtitled Last Days and Lost Ways. I received an Advanced Review Copy. It is not the final version. I don’t know if the stories will appear in this order but I found I didn’t really get on with most of those in the first half. The second half of the book picked up for me, but if I hadn’t been reading to review, I might easily have lost interest and abandoned it.

The writing was good. It was the definition of ‘story’ which didn’t click with me in some cases. To me, and I suspect, to many readers, a short story is a complete tale. Some of these read as, or maybe even were, excerpts from some longer work and I didn’t like that. I wanted closure.

The stories I liked best were Pearls, Home late, The Creator, Recipe for a Dinner Party, Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin; for the Devil to Show and A Matter of Trust. I enjoyed these stories and the feeling of having savoured a complete experience with them.

Reviewed by

Justin Spahn

5 Stars

As the husband of one of the authors in this anthology, I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. So, here it is!

I’ve read a few short story anthologies, and this one is definitely the most interesting. The collection is richly diverse in terms of subject matter, national origin and setting, narrative tone, length, and literary style. As I read, I found myself jumping from fantasy to vignette to full plots inspired by true events, and the transition somehow is fluid and seamless rather than jarring or distracting. Awesome Indies has managed to build an enjoyable whole out of various and disparate components!

Among my favorites in the lineup were ‘Clearing the Shed’, ‘Quarantine’, ‘I, Zombie’, ‘Chasing Dreams in the Time Left Over’, ‘Traffic’, ‘Standin’ at the Crossroads, Waitin’ for the Devil to Show’, ‘Home Late’, ‘A Matter of Trust’, ‘Pearls’, and what is likely the stylistic jewel of this collection, ‘Recipe for a Dinner Party’.

This anthology asked me interesting questions, presented me with some of my greatest fears in life, introduced me to new ideas not common in conventionally published shorts, and fed an interest in diverse snippets of literature that I didn’t even know I had.

To sum it up best, I’ll paraphrase one of the author’s descriptions regarding the virtues of the short stories collected in this anthology: The short form gives authors the opportunity to write in ways that couldn’t be sustained for an entire novel.

I recommend reading these shorts–open yourself up to unique experiences from authors all around the world who love writing so much that they publish themselves.

Reviewed by

Sandra Padgett

5 Stars

This collection of wonderful stories covers a variety of themes. From satire to thriller to contemporary life and much more. Each story gets your attention and keeps it from start to finish. They are thought provoking, with characters, dialogue and themes that are believable, but sometimes out in the twilight zone, which is what I like. I will be looking for more works by the various authors and follow them in the future. I received this free from Simon Townley for an honest review. Outstanding! Recommend to any and all.

Reviewed by

Annie Evett

5 Stars

Both emerging and established writers from Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand present a peek into the spectacular moments everyday life holds, but with a twist.

The collection opens with a bang with a story by Tahlia Newland. Intriguing to the last paragraph, I was surprised to find it was an excerpt from her newest project. It sits perfectly as a short story and a wonderful teaser into what looks to be an exciting premise.

Each story has an incredible depth and texture to them, that, although is specific to its own style, melds beautifully as a collection. The human condition is explored where the reader is challenged to reassess their perspectives on stereotypes and events. Post apocalyptic tales sit comfortably with personalised stories like fragmented memories; separate, but with a golden thread holding them together. Heart-wrenching, whimsical, tear-jerking and lighthearted there is a story to suit all moods and readers tastes.

It is difficult to chose a favourite story, with a wrestling loving gran meeting her idol, to emotional trials of marriages breaking apart or forming, futuristic zombies and maids from a gentler time.

Authors are recognised in their own right with multiple honours and prizes and although the anthology is an eclectic mixture of genre, reading one after the other only highlights the complexity and intrigue each story brings.

A great book to stash into someones Christmas stocking for some fireside holiday reading, Awesome Allshorts is set to be a winner in your readers life.

 

 

The Ups and Downs of Being Dead

The Ups and Downs of Being Dead
Category:
Published: May 26, 2012
Author's Twitter: @marshacornelius
Fifty-seven year old Robert Malone is the CEO of a successful clothing store chain and married to a former model. When his doctor tells him he is dying of cancer, he refuses to go quietly. Instead of death, Robert chooses cryonics. He knows it’s a long shot. His frozen body will be stored in liquid nitrogen for the next seventy-five years, and then he’ll wake up in the future. Maybe. If technology figures out a way to bring him back. He’s willing to take that gamble. What he doesn’t realize is that he won’t lie in some dreamless state all that time. His soul is very much awake, and free to move about, just like the others who were frozen before him. He discovers that he can ride in the cockpit with the pilots, but he can’t turn the page of a magazine. He can sit in the oval office with the president, but he can’t prevent a child from dashing in front of a car. He can’t work, or eat, or sleep. These obstacles make it difficult to fall in love, and virtually impossible to reconcile with the living. Over the next several decades, Robert Malone will have plenty of time to learn The Ups and Downs of Being Dead.

Reviewed by Richard Bunning

5 Stars

 

This is a very inventive and truly speculative science fiction drama, which kept me interested from page one to the final word. The plot works very well, provided of course one is prepared to temporarily take on-board the very speculative premise. The idea that one may be able to exist, be a ghost, between the realm of the living and the kingdom of God or oblivion, works well enough for me. Cornelius has some unusual “explanations” for some behaviours that actually fit well to many theories about the subconscious and psychotic illness. You will be missing the enjoyment of a great story if you can’t embrace the idea that out of body experiences may be portends of the future, rather than just the dying illusions of oxygen starved minds. The revival of tissues from cryogenic suspension has already been shown to work. It may not be long before it is possible to thaw out and give back life to once dead human.
The question of how a mind, a soul, detached from the physical world, might influence and be influenced the living, is the central premise. We all face situations we wish we could intervene to change, when all we can do is watch. We find ourselves as helpless bystanders, constrained from what we wish to do. Imagine an extreme of this, actually watching from beyond the grave your partner sleeping with your best friend, and then being murdered. In this case we are watching through Robert, after his physical body has been preserved.
Cornelius’s craft is sound enough that one is easily drawn into the flow, almost forgetting that one is reading. There almost always are a few sentences that need reading twice, but I found very few. My only qualm with the book was a bit of irritation with the mention of a million locations that one or other of the dead visited without really advancing the plot. So perhaps the book was five percent longer than necessary. I am sure that plenty of people, especially ones familiar with some of the locations, would totally disagree with this view. The point was to explain how a ghost could overcome the tedium of years of existence without being a physical influence. I just didn’t need quite so much of it to get the point.
The climax was one that I really hadn’t predicted, even though it logical fitted. That is, logically enough within the constraints of this fiction. I actually felt that the author wasn’t sure until very late how things might end either, not that there is anything wrong with that. I like the feel that I am in an ongoing story rather than working through a pre-solved mathematical problem.
If I find myself dead but not gone I must be careful to avoid viewing those I love. That I suspect would be almost as hard on most of us as it was on Robert. I must do my best to leave a positive legacy, or none at all. Now then, I wonder what I should do about . . . If only I didn’t so hate the idea of being frozen . . .