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text 2017-06-26 21:57
Sing to the Moon: Tales from the Kitten Cam (Pickford)
Sing to the Moon: Tales from the Kitten Cam - Jill Pickford

This is a slight book of occasional short stories and poetry that gives me a really disproportionate amount of pleasure: or, at least, I'm sure people would think it disproportionate who aren't also followers of the 24-hour live streams of foster kittens upon which its "characters" are based. Chief amongst these streams, and the only one I follow with any regularity, is the kitten cam of Foster Dad John, a middle-aged IT guy who lives just outside of Seattle, a gentle, knowledgeable cat-lover who is that rarest of males, neither camera-shy nor a grandstander. Though he sometimes gets other assignments, generally he sees a litter of kittens through from birth to adoptable age at 8 weeks or a little older; most often the mother cats are also part of the deal. He takes his educative role seriously, but never pompously, and famously does undignified things like sweeping out his "Critter Room's" floors, building elaborate anti-climbing contrivances (which inevitably fail eventually) and falling asleep on camera with the kittens crawling all over him.

 

Jill Pickford is part of his international following (she's based in Britain), but whereas others content themselves with chatting online, or donating to FDJ's parent shelter Purrfect Pals, or making drawings or craft-y gifts for the kittens' going-away, she has been composing occasion-driven cat point-of-view stories (or verse) for several years now, often helping other viewers through some of the more traumatic events in that little world like the death of a kitten. Encouraged by those other viewers, she has developed that alternate cat world - and chiefly its relation to the "other side" of the rainbow bridge - into a fantasy world with its own rules and dominant characters. The mother cats figure prominently in her stories, as do the fragile kittens who failed to thrive, those of their living siblings whose adoptive owners have signalled tolerance for publicity by inviting cam viewers on to dedicated post-adoptive facebook pages, and the brother and sister cats of those same adopted facebook cats. In short, there is a fairly large circle of reference through social media which pretty much dictates the extent of the expected readership for these stories.

 

That said, in the later stories in the volume, Pickford has allowed herself a bit of freedom from the constraints of real incidents and courtesy to private individuals (including FDJ himself), by inventing whole other lives for cats once they are across the Rainbow Bridge or, in the case of two lost kittens, their "next lives" (since cats have 9). This is where Pickford's generous imagination and clever writing sings, in my opinion - and it is here, too, that there is the opportunity to find readership not just amongst those in the social media fan club.

 

All proceeds go to Purrfect Pals, by the way - like many fan communities, this is a gift culture, as is evident by the wide variety of (international) collaboration that has gone into the publication. Even had it given me far less pleasure than it did, I would have been happy to know that its purchase (it was a generous gift from my sister, another Kitten Cam follower) put a few more pennies into the hands of that worthy shelter.

To find FDJ and his current batch of kittens, google "The Critter Room", or search youtube with that same phrase (youtube is his platform now; he was priced out of his previous one).

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review 2017-06-25 15:04
Fountain of Drowned Memories by Erik Hofstatter
Fountain of Drowned Memories - Erik Hofstatter

 

Fountain of Drowned Memories is a short story that touched my heart.

 

Lorcan is a man obsessed with the stains in the ceiling and someone, (or something?), trying to steal from him. Is this real or is there something else going on? For a story that is only 18 pages long, this one packs a powerful punch and I highly recommend it.

 

Oh, and did I mention it's free? (Or you can donate $1.00 if you like it!) Here's a link, (what do you have to lose?):Fountain of Drowned Memories

 

*I received this short story free, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

 

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review 2017-06-24 14:52
Double Barrel Horror: There Will Be Angels/Marlene the Magnificent by John Boden
Double Barrel Horror: There Will Be Angels... / Marlene the Magnificent - John Boden,Matthew Weber

 

DOUBLE BARREL HORROR continues on with this series of two short stories per volume. This time around they are both written by John Boden. These super short stories being: THERE WILL BE ANGELS and MARLENE THE MAGNIFICENT. 

 

THERE WILL BE ANGELS is exactly the type of story I expect from Mr. Boden. A young boy is in distress and there are angels, but these are not the type of angels that will save him.

 

MARLENE THE MAGNIFICENT is NOT the type of story I expected from Mr. Boden. Not at all. Marlene actually IS magnificent and I wager that once you are introduced to her and her act, you will never forget it! A word of advice though? If she asks for your watch as part of her act, do NOT give it to her! 

 

I've been a fan of John Boden for a year or two now, and his work always surprises and pleases me. These two short stories continue that tradition and I give this small volume my highest recommendation!

 

You can get your copy here: 

Double Barrel Horror: There Will Be Angels... / Marlene the Magnificent

 

*I received this book free, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

 

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review 2017-06-14 15:48
Some Rain Must Fall: And Other Stories - Michel Faber

I didn't think I was going to finish this on, it has certainly taken me some time. The stories are weird and wacky but I just didn't 'get' a lot of them, I kept expecting some kind of punchline that just didn't come. Entertaining but I don't think I would read them again. I much prefer his novels.

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review 2017-06-10 16:11
Review: You Will Grow into Them by Malcolm Devlin
You Will Grow into Them - Malcolm Devlin

 

I would like to thank Unsung Stories for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

 

The world is a far stranger place than we give it credit for. There, in the things we think familiar, safe, are certain aspects. Our fears and desires given form. Moments that defy explanation. Shadows in our home.

In Malcolm Devlin’s debut collection, change is the only constant. Across ten stories he tackles the unease of transformation, growth and change in a world where horror seeps from the everyday. Childhood anxieties manifest as debased and degraded doppelgängers, fungal blooms are harvested from the backs of dancers and London lycanthropes become the new social pariahs. The demons we carry inside us are very real indeed, but You Will Grow Into Them.

 

 

'You Will Grow into Them' is a solid selection of short stories. The stories are varied and different and have a dark unsettling undercurrent. The author's writing style is engaging and draws the reader in, he manages to give the reader just enough information to get the story across while at the same time leaving room for the reader's imagination. This allows the reader to fill in the gaps and to embrace the strangeness and fantastical and let their imagination run with it.

 

While I didn't find them to be scary, I did enjoy the strangeness and unsettling feel of them. They made me think, had me reading between the lines and contemplating the effect and affect, and the reasoning behind what was taking place. I can't say I was a fan of every story in the collection, some stood out more than others. My two favourites in the collection were 'Her First Harvest' and 'We All Need Somewhere to Hide'.

 

As a whole, I would say that 'You Will Grow into Them' is a 4 star read. I did, however, rate each story individually as I read through the collection and you can find those ratings below:

 

1 - Passion Play - 3 stars.

 

2 - Two Brothers - 3 stars.

 

3 - Breadcrumbs - 4 stars.

 

4 - Her First Harvest - 4.5 stars.

 

5 - We All Need Somewhere to Hide - 5 stars.

 

6 - Dogsbody - 3.5 stars.

 

7 - Songs Like They Used to Play - 2 stars.

 

8 - The Last Meal He Ate Before She Killed Him - 2 stars.

 

9 - The Bridge - 3 stars.

 

10 The End of Hope Street - 4 stars.

 

 

 

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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