Review by Awesome Indies
August 8, 2014
Fifty Egg Timer Stories by Richard Bunning is a short story collection that engages the readers’ short attention span. Each story is approximately 750 words and, according to the author, should take about three minutes to read. I will admit, I was dubious about the idea at first (his first story explains his method), but I warmed to it as I continued to read. Bunning did not limit himself to one particular genre for these stories, but rather took on as many as he could.
This style of story collection is an interesting concept and allows both the reader and the author to dabble in fields unexplored. By including a variety of genres, the reader can experience a small example of what historical fiction, speculative fiction, or philosophical thought (to name a few) might be like. The author even includes a story in outline format, and a short play. Interestingly enough, the author could have broken down each genre into several sub-categories. The reader will notice that the stories are also anecdotal, allegorical, life lessons, or educational. The range displayed in Bunning’s collection gave him an excellent opportunity to try his hand at writing from a variety of character perspectives, points of view, and setting descriptions. These stories are told through the minds of young men or women, aliens, scientists, philosophers, and adults under duress.
As the stories are so short, it is difficult to describe them without giving too much away. The readers will find themselves riding on a train in Sardinia, donating their body to science, hitchhiking on the moon, being written out of a will due to a fashion choice, learning that deceased loved ones are never far away, and many more places. Two of the stories contained trigger warnings for sexual violence. I applaud the author for recognizing the necessity of announcing this.
By limiting himself to 750 words, the author did miss several opportunities to turn very creative ideas into meatier stories. Though many of the stories play out well, a few seemed halted unexpectedly to meet the length criteria and others didn’t have enough time to flush out characters or purpose. Regardless, the collection is a well-rounded variety and contains something for everyone.
Reviewed by Katt Pemble
Tahlia delivers another solid book, this time by way of a mix of short stories.
I loved the little intro, A drop from the well of creativity. I loved the way the stories where characterised like children, it made me smile, especially this line:
Inspiration falls like a drop of mercurial silver into the vast depths of my open mind. It hovers in space, then collects and merges with a gaggle of ideas and images until it hangs pregnant and heavy with a pressing need to deliver.
I just adore that imagery! What a welcome intro!
Now, the content… While some of the short stories weren’t really my favourite, I can’t fault Tahlia for producing a flawlessly written book, it was. The subject matter was uplifting and inspirational in each piece, dealing with self exploration of your mind and understanding perception, dealing with death and even the dangers of making assumptions.
By far, my favourite story was ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’ I felt the most connected with the characters, even though it was probably the most far-fetched in terms of plot.
In closing, if you are after a delightfully uplifting and exploratory adventure that is easy to read, well crafted and inspirational too, all while galloping through romance, YA, drama, science fiction and fantasy genres, pick this one up!!
Reviewed by Awesome Indies
October 24, 2014
When you’re reading a sweet, tender story of romance, you don’t expect to be on pavements with holes in them, or at bus stops, or held in the routines of the morning’s commute, and you certainly don’t expect that setting to contribute to the story’s charm. That, however, is exactly what Tahlia Newland has achieved here. There are just two characters, each with a self-image that’s far from flattering. The girl thinks she has ‘thunder thighs’ and an expanding waistline and yet she ‘can’t give up eating ice cream’. The man sees her as a goddess and himself as an ordinary mortal. He suspects she finds his bow tie unfashionable but to her, it’s cute. And so the story develops in this world of ‘rusty fences, cracked paths, faded paintwork and builders’ rubble’.
But it’s also a world which has ‘the fragrance of Jasmine in the warm air’ and it’s this juxtaposition of mundane everyday elements and the dreams and fantasies which we all carry that leads the whole to a very satisfying conclusion. The strange holes which keep appearing are part of the crumbling everyday setting and yet, in the story, they have a generative, symbolic function. They’re an excellent metaphor, used with restraint and sensitivity. This is magical realism at a seemingly simple and yet powerful level. And it’s all in the characters and the use of language. Their feelings are ‘golden’, ‘brilliant’. Magnolia leaves carpet the ground, but the hole contains sticky-looking mud. The ‘thunder-thighed’ woman has eyes with ‘endless depths’, the shy, tongue-tied man becomes a rescuing knight. And it seems that the holes were never there at all.
Reviewed by Bill Kirton –
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 –
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.
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.
Justin Spahn –
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.
Sandra Padgett –
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.
Annie Evett –
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.