Tag Archives: short story

Quiet Magic

Quiet Magic by Sam Cook, with illustrations by Bob Cary

University of Minnesota Press

This book is exactly what it promises: quiet and magical.  It’s a collection of stories and essays the author wrote for the Duluth News-Tribune, grouped by season.  Each piece is 2-4 pages in the book: a nice little morsel.

Each piece is 2-4 pages of observations and experiences related to the north country, the people to be found there, hunting and fishing, canoeing, etc.  Cook’s gentle humor and perception make for a delightful few minutes of reading per story.

I find myself continually returning to Loomis Lips for the chuckle factor.  Without spoiling it, I’ll just note that it’s about human nature.  Oh, and fish.


Back shortly


Thank you for your patience during my absence. I’ve been making hay as the sun shines, as it were.

Back soon with more reviews. Current readings address topics as diverse as an all-girls polka band, a canoe trip down the Mississippi, short stories by Western writers, and a soldier suffering from both PTSD and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Stay tuned!

What I Would Do If I Weren’t So Afraid

I bought the book List Your Self:  Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery by Ilene Segalove and Paul Bob Velick as a means to gather some tidbits for a memoir.  I got through no more than two lists (including the title of this blog post) before I started writing fictional short stories based on the lists.  A very useful book!

The Desert Here and The Desert Far Away

The Desert Here and The Desert Far Away by Marcus Sakey

(alternately titled The Desert here and the Desert There)

A short story in the collection Thriller 2:  Stories You Just Can’t Put Down, edited by Clive Cussler

Rating:  * * * * *

When his military buddy Cooper calls on him for help, Nick doesn’t hesitate.  Now stateside, the bond that was forged in Iraq still holds strong.  Nick learns that Cooper’s troubles are far larger than he implied, and more dangerous, causing Nick to have flashbacks to their time in Iraq.  The story explores war through its toll on soldiers and through the bonds they form.  Perhaps because the story is short, its punch is concentrated. If you like this story, you might also like the 2007 movie In the Valley of Elah.

James Penney’s New Identity and Other Stories

James Penney’s New Identity and Other Stories from Thriller:  Volume One, edited by James Patterson

Rating:  * * * *

Short stories are a good way to check out new authors. I rate this audio collection four stars because it’s so helpful to me to find this sort of collection when I’m searching for authors I haven’t read before.

Lee Child’s short story in this collection, James Penney’s New Identity – a prequel of sorts – stars Jack Reacher in a secondary role. Having never read a Jack Reacher novel, let alone a Lee Child story, this was a treat and I have added the Reacher series to my wish list.

Denise Hamilton will not go on my authors-to-seek list, based on her underwhelming-in-the-brains-department heroine in At the Drop of a Hat.

Eric Van Lustbader’s story The Other Side of the Mirror is wonderfully detailed, although the style is not to my taste – but if a movie comes out based on his works I would consider it.

Raelynn Hillhouse’s story Diplomatic Constraints is crisp and enjoyable and I’ll look for more of her work.

Gayle Lynds’ story The Hunt for Dmitri is interesting, though forgettable and rather loosely woven.

Narrators on this collection are Dick Hill, Mel Foster, Michael Page, and Susie Breck.  All are excellent.

Kowalski’s In Love and Other Stories

Kowalski’s In Love and Other Stories, from Thriller:  Volume One, compiled and edited by James Patterson

Rating:  * * * *

This short-story audio collection includes stories by 5 authors, four of whom are new to me.

The Kowalski story is my introduction to James Rollins’ Sigma Force series.  Dick Hill’s portrayal of Kowalski, a man with “the heart of a hero but lacking the brainpower to go with it” (from the cover), is laugh-out-loud funny – it perfectly matches the picture in my mind.  The Sigma Force series has been added to my wish list based on this story.  Kowalski first appeared in Rollins’ novel Ice Hunt.

This collection includes stories by James Rollins, James Grippando, Grant Blackwood, Dennis Lynds, and Christopher Rice.  The narrators are Dick Hill, Michael Page, Joyce Bean, Mel Foster, and Susie Breck.  Based on this collection, I will seek out more by these authors as well as these narrators.

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