The First Time & The New Arrival by Jessica Kirby

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Helllllo readers, hope you’re well – two books in one for you today which is always interesting. Some of you know that I adore Twitter and although I could definitely use it more I send the odd book/wine/food/hungover related tweet. I’ve been following Jessica and her wonderful fiance Pols on twitter for a little while and when I spotted that she had written a couple of short stories I thought why not get a hold of a couple and sit down to read. So I did, and this is what I thought!


The first time is a short story about a females first time – with the blurb simply stating that fact. The tale starts with a woman, dangling her feet thinking about the past. It’s an interesting way to start the plot and definitely helped to create a sense of mystery. We follow the life of the female character and learn about the introduction of a male during her childhood. Innocently taken in by the parents the male starts to wreak havoc on the girl’s life, taking liberties and treating her with contempt. Here we see the girl take her life in her own hands and the consequences in the future where the tale ends.

I guess the first thing to note is that this is a really short story which explains why there is a lack of names and has a basic build up. I did like the style of the writing – quite basic language throughout but also pinches of description woven in snippets to bulk out the tale. I thought the ending was a brilliant twist and definitely made me think – there’s a mention of a pet which definitely made me go back and re-read once I made it to the end. It takes a dark turn which upon re-reading the book made me feel a bit of a chill. For such a short tale (4/5 pages) it does pack a punch.  Yes you could argue that it’s simple and we don’t have a lot of character profiling but it’s a clever little story.


The second short story is called ‘The New Arrival’ and it follows the birth of a child. We see the persona go from the comfort of the womb, to the integration into a new family. I’m assuming this is a personal story because it definitely felt special or nostalgic about the feelings of family which made me feel real warmth. There is talk about the parents being married before but the feelings of family, making things work and growing together was beautifully built.

Once again it’s a simple story, 4/5 pages isn’t a lot to work with but it’s a lovely little tale of love life and family. I would love to see this book worked into a series to find out more about the family and the child. See how they grow up together and the potential trials and tribulations that come with any family. For me, I kind of wish these books came as a collection into one book because they are so short. I would also like to read more from this author in a longer format of book – I can see real talent there but with something so short it is difficult to culture characters but I was definitely drawn in through these short tales and would love to read more. Additionally the first book I think could definitely become a longer tale and I would love to read more into and learn more about the main character.

So, overall I loved these books, I’ve spoken a lot about my three-month reading slump and these definitely helped me get back into reading. I wish they were a little longer of collaborated to create one book but overall lovely little reads that I really enjoyed!


The New Arrival – Goodreads 

The New Arrival – Goodreads

The First Time – Goodreads

The First Time – Amazon

Jessica’s Twitter

Pols Twitter – both are definitely worth a follow!



Shards: a short story anthology by C.J Cummings

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Hellllllo readers I have a really interesting book of short stories to share with you today. It’s very rare that I would be sent a collection of books that make an anthology but I’m really excited to have received this and have it to review for you today. In terms of my review schedule I am about month ahead now in terms of what needs posting but I will get them all read and up for you soon. Without delay: THE REVIEW.

Like a box of lost and found, Shards is a dive into fiction and all its wonderful edges. Tales of life and of death; war and poetry; monsters with fangs and creatures with claws; the weird and the woeful; the realism and the obscure. It is a journey into the back of a brain, deep in the tunnels of imagination, where the most unusual and brilliant and terrible ideas are born.

An anthology of twenty brand-new works of short-fiction: Science-fiction, Weird, Abstract, Fantasy, Dystopian, Contemporary, Horror, War & More. A love-letter to the written word.


Gah some of these stories are real stunners. The anthology is total mix of different stories and contexts. The first few are very subtle stories There are subject matters than appear once or twice, especially the writing of intense emotion. ‘A busy doorway’ is a beautiful tale of two people who are saying goodbye at an airport the emotion that the author manages to get into the tale and the use of words to give the characters description despite it being a very short tale is skilfully done. The ending was very endearing and difficult to read but it just summed it all up without tying it up in a really finished bow. Delightful. ‘Just Right,’ was another romantic tale that just fell into the readers hands; the author has a definite way of writing to really tell a tale with the characters without needing long descriptions or lots of backstory. It’s a very sweet tale and one I really enjoyed. The two characters continually meet at different coincidental opportunities and although maybe a little twee I thought it was beautiful.

Some of the stories also take on a darker turn especially ‘Soil in the eye,’ is a very dark tale, it tells of a person being buried alive but the emotion driven into the story makes you feel as if you’re there with quaking in the box, feeling the oxygen slowly slip away. More subtle stories including ‘Facing the right’ and ‘The Light’ tend to be more soft stories revolving around the telling of the tale rather than telling a story. Due to them being so short they do have an abstract feel but for me I thought it just added to the authors ability to weave such delicate stories. This is shown most in the tale ‘The Still Bridge,’ it’s so atmospheric and different to the earlier tales I thought it was beautifully done.

My favourite of the tales I think was ‘The Aching Vengeance’ one of the stories towards the start of the anthology. The tale shows an old cowboy who has been searching for his daughter for many many years and after wandering into a bar it all starts to get a bit messy. The story shows Cumming’s ability to string together a powerful tale in only a couple of pages and the story really stayed with me. It’s a very dark tale but one I thought was really intriguing.

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There were a couple of stories that did fall short, ‘Sunday Night Movie Massacre,’ felt a little rushed and didn’t fully explore enough into the monster to make me believe in such a tale, and the story before ‘The Town Built on tragedy’ didn’t give enough to end the tale and make a lot of sense to the reader. I think it was a really interesting start but there wasn’t quite enough to make me feel that, oh wow feeling. There are a few near misses but most of spot on.

Overall this is a really brilliant complation of different tales with different contexts, characters and stories. Some of the stories I felt had too much content to be tied up too quickly and lacked a little more information but I thought the experimentation with style and genre was really exciting. I’ve just seen the author has another book and I might just have to give that a good. If you like short stories or want to read some really superb ones, this is a compilation for you.





A Short Story Collection by A J Spedding

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Helllllllo readers; another day another review and all that. Recently the blog has been feeling really just great. I think us bloggers all go through stages of love/hate with said blog but right now it feels comfortable. I’m also toying with a new feature called the eight minute review. I think it would interesting to see what I could get down, and what would the first important bits to write about. It’s just a thought because my reviews tend to drag on a little and I do read shorter ones that put the review over a lot more succinctly. Today’s review will take a little longer than eight minutes but that is definitely not a bad thing.

My life story… where’s the interest in that, I thought, until I started to put pen to paper… then I realised just how much I had done in my what seemed to be short time in this world. At 93 years of age and finally retired, some would say my life has been interesting, some would say erratic, some would say fulfilling, some would say hectic… I would say immense fun!

I pick up my life story not from the day my dear mother brought me into this world, but from my late teenage years and joining the army; a fortuitous path I took as the army instilled in me a sense of duty, a sense of honour, a sense of purpose that I continued to strive for following demob.

From there I had a few jobs; selling the Encyclopaedia Britannica, later the Junior Britannica, which then led to my own business… selling double glazing! Yes, yes, I hear all the moans and groans now, but in those days it was new… and it was a hard slog!

From my adventures in Zagreb and World War II in Germany and Singapore, doomed flying lessons and scam investments, meeting my beautiful wife and my son’s obsession with wanting a real pony, my wife’s hens, mother-in-law and a gas explosion, to clubbing a chief inspector over the head and transporting him by wheelbarrow to a neighbour’s garden, a silver teapot, a faith healer and Shep…

Yes, it may have been hectic and erratic, it may have worried those around me, but I would definitely say interesting and immense fun!

This review is going to be one of two sides I think; as the blurb suggests it documents the life of our author in little snippets and tales. We see stories before, during and after the war, quirky tales about married life and job interviews and the like. Each is told with camaraderie and wit, written well with little description but told to you as though you are listened to the story as your tucking into your second Yorkshire pudding on a balmy Sunday lunch time. They have a warm tone told with vigour and energy. In terms of length there is a lot variation; the first is a good couple of pages long but as I continued through they seemed to get shorter and shorter, some barely a paragraph in length at times. This makes it the perfect book to dip in and out of without needing to flip back and read a previous telling. Saying this I thought some of the stories could have been a little longer just to flesh them out a bit. A few longer tales would have helped the reader to empathise or understand the writer easier.

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My other two wobbles were I thought the book lacked a system or so. The stories appear to be interwoven so at the beginning I wasn’t sure if it was the same author throughout. Although I understand why it’s been done like this as it doesn’t follow a chronological order I felt it needed something to string the story as a whole together. The second thing, which is a personal thing, was that I didn’t like that so many of the stories seemed to finish with an exclamation mark. It feels a bit juvenile but I am the same, I love a good one when it fits but it felt like it was overdone.

Saying this the book is overall a tongue in cheek sweet number of tales that will honestly make you crack a smile or two. They have a lovely wholesome feeling and are written with lively and telling titles. Overall a book that didn’t make me think too hard but definitely made me smile.

It Ain’t Easy: Short stories by Kesia Alexandra

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Hellllllllo readers; I have stepped away from the fantasy books and have discovered some wonderful books this week which you will see reviews of soooon. I’ve been getting back into going to the library and getting books read. I think some variety is needed so I’m trying to read lots of different styled books so there’s something for everyone. I’m other news, I am looking for a new job *cheers.* I’ve been meaning to look properly for a while but I’m ready to move to a new city and find myself a new path I guess but will keep you updated. For now a selection of short stories to get your teeth into.

Life is seldom easy for a teenager, and when that teen has to grow up in Washington, DC, life can be hell. In It Ain’t Easy, a collection of short stories by Kesia Alexandra, the reader is shown what life is like in that part of the city that’s not monuments and government buildings—from the gritty streets of some of the poorest parts of the city to the privileged halls of its prestigious private schools.

I do adore a short-story if done well; emphasis on the “if done well.” I think that it seems simple to write a short story but recently I’ve found if I’m reading short stories or a novella, they are too short and therefore fail to capture the reader wholly. Thankfully that didn’t happen here; this author writes with a skilful insight into the five stories of five girls that each delve into the gritty Washington scene. We meet, a single mother caught up in cheating the tax system, a mother to be with a less than savoury partner and a scholarship student attending a private school but drawn to a shady person in her path amongst others.

The writing is raw and real; I often complain about slang used in books but here it just about words. The language, I assume used in Washington helps to cement the stories to a certain place. Lines like ‘I check my watch. “We don’t want to be late.” “Girl, it don’t start till two. Stop bein’ pressed.” She grabs my arm and pulls me into the shop.’ There are a couple of glitches in the grammar and a number of spelling wobbles but it shows a writer with potential and promise. If she were to turn any of these stories into something longer, I would definitely grab a copy. My only real wobble is I would have liked a little more character development. Although the stories are short I think there was more time to really build the profiles and make the reader fall for the character.

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The stories are often raw and blunt offering a real and honest looking into the lives of those in the city. The writing is strong and steady and it has an evocative feel to it. If anyone has read NW by Zadie Smith it has the same feel although I think this writing could be strengthened with deeper and stronger descriptions. It gets about half there and then falters, I think overall more could be added. The speech is coarse and dotted with swear words which helps to make the text feel all the more real. It’s not added for the benefit of adding swear words but instead it adds to the text which I liked.

Overall this is a book with real merits; it tells a number of tales with determination and tenacity. It doesn’t hold back on the tales. My only critique would be a lacking in character profiling and more heady description but the writing style is solid. A quick read and an author I would really like to see more from.