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The Aqua Human

The Aqua Human by [J. Elizaga]

The Aqua Human by J. Elizaga is a beautiful short story about a young teenager in the Pacific during World War II. The protagonist, young Amaya, is thrust into a dangerous situation and must escape when she goes through a mysterious and unknown transformation. From here she discoveries fantastical new physical abilities underwater and must find her own way to survive.

There are many aspects of this short story that I loved from the very first page. The Aqua Human starts strong with an intense scene that immediately catches the reader’s attention. Even the very first paragraph hooks you as you are thrown into a confronting scene amid World War II. These first few pages introduce you to the protagonist’s father, Bayani, and the actions he takes here gives you a strong image of who he is and what he values above everything and everyone, which added a lot of urgency to this opening scene.

Even though this is an engaging read right up to the very end, I felt that the last quarter felt a bit desultory. Perhaps this was due to the nature of the short story format, if The Aqua Human had ten more pages the ending would be much more satisfying to me, otherwise I did enjoy the ending as it is.

The emotional intensity of this short story doesn’t decline from here but the pace does slow down and gives you time with the protagonist, Amaya, as she undergoes a mysterious and fantastical transformation. Personally, my favorite part of the story is right before the halfway point when Elizaga describes an absolutely beautiful setting of what seems like an entirely new and different world. It was during these parts of The Aqua Human that left me in awe and with an ongoing admiration for the author.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07W3DX48L

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Her Place, Any Region

Dana Vilandre Interview

Dana Vilandre Interview

Her World is a creative collection of women’s literature from writers around the world and published by Her Place, Any Region. What is Her Place, Any Region and how does Her World support your cause?

Her Place, Any Region is a non profit organization which supports women and their families personally, professionally and emotionally. Through a myriad of resources we help women overcome devastating life circumstances such as homelessness, job loss, divorce and death of a spouse or child.

Our organization supports other benevolent and charitable causes through collaborative efforts. Her World, Creative Collections, is a compilation made up of women’s works from around the the world who have donated their works to support the programs in Her Place, as well as other causes of which they chose.

100% of the profits are donated to charities and benevolent causes.

Her World brings women together through the art eclectic, sharing their experiences, their talents and their hearts. Her World is a glimpse of what Her Place is really about, and why it is so important to have the support for these circumstances women face throughout life that traditional resources lack.

What was the collaboration like with all of the authors to put the compilation together?

Creating Her World started as an idea in 2011. Her Place was already in the works, and through that development we found that these creative women expressed themselves in ways that was unprecedented. The talents these women have come from such a deep place of sincerity and love, and bringing them together in print was powerful.

It was a fun project, and it took a lot of trust from the women to allow us to create this and treat it with the respect it deserves. We started pulling together pieces in 2016, and after a few attempts to complete it, we focused for 4 months straight to finalize it though the end of 2019 into 2020. The women were incredibly patient and were still on board throughout the 4 years.

There are 33 women from around the world featured in Her World, so you can imagine it was quite a project.

The final result was exactly like we imagined it to be, and we are all very happy with how it came together.

If someone wanted to get involved with Her Place, Any Region how would they do that?

Her Place, Any Region, has various programs within it; CreateFam, Glimpses, and Books, Bands, Businesses and Brands. While our primary focus is Glimpses, which is centered around helping women re-establish themselves after devastating life changing circumstances, CreateFam is community/volunteer focused and not gender specific, and Books, Bands, Businesses and Brands is a resource for women with businesses.

People can learn more about all of our programs and contacting us through our website http://www.her-place.org.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

We are currently accepting pieces for our next book: Another Year in Her World. We anticipate it to be released February 2021.

Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Her World: Creative Collections by [Her Place Any Region]Her Place, Any Region, introduces you to Her World, Creative Collections. Enjoy a literary journey through the experiences, hearts, and minds of 33 women from around the world. Compiled in one single readable book, view life from the eyes of phenomenal female artists and authors in the form of photography, song lyrics, book excerpts, personal life experiences, prose, and poetry. We hope you enjoy this incredibly broad spectrum with which these stories are written, bringing women together to share a glimpse into each other’s lives, during a time unifying the population of women is more important than ever.

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Of Reality And Dream

Of Reality and Dream: Tales for Underground by [Loredano Cafaro]

Of Reality and Dream by Loredano Cafaro is a collection of short stories. Each tale has peculiar narratives the author wrote as a youth. However, his inexperience at the time didn’t rob the stories of considerable literary sophistication as they incorporate both realistic and fantastical settings and happenings. They are also narrated from different points of view ranging from the first person to the third person.

Many of Cafaro’s stories have an eerie note that expertly relays an uneasy feeling to the reader. It’s not so much that it will leave you awake at night but it’s just enough to creep you out considerably. Also, Cafaro clearly has a way with words as his ability to describe scenes and entities exemplifies the proficiency of a skilled poet. Flash fiction requires sharp and punchy language and the author duly delivers. To do this, he uses striking analogies to eliminate extra words that would have been required to perfectly describe certain scenarios.

The short stories are dominated by themes of love – the love that never was and the painfully short-lived one. Cafaro also centers some of his tales around tragedy and the pain of losing a loved one. Each story carries an air of mystery that’s just strong enough to keep you turning the pages. Be warned, however, that not many of the tales would give you answers even at the end. In such situations, Cafaro leaves you at the mercy of your imagination.

I thought some of the stories were a bit bland. But on the whole, it’s a nice read if you’d like to have your fancy tickled by short narratives structured like musings with tinges of dark tones.

Pages: 71 | ASIN: B07RTTKXJN

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The Birthday Gift

 

 

 

The Birthday Gift by Betty Collier is a short story that follows Mrs. Williams as she finds her world turned upside down amid the sudden passing of her husband while he is away on overseas business. Among the themes present in the book are the difficulty in gaining closure from unexpected bereavement and the struggle to exercise forgiveness for transgressions. The role of religion is also significant in this book.

I appreciated the poignancy of Mrs. Williams’ journey to healing after the loss of her husband. It is apparent from the very beginning that she has much love for her husband – the kind that transcends boundaries of space and time. Collier depicts her in the different phases of grieving in order to reflect the immense pain of losing a loved one without having the chance to say goodbye. She reflects fondly on the memories she and her husband shared, and she even feels anger and disillusionment resulting from her God deciding to take her husband’s kindred soul prematurely. However, her love for her family, in particular her daughter Bella, prompts her to be a strong woman and a strong mother.

On the opposite side of the coin, this book is very evangelical in its message. The role of God and religion is prominently interwoven in Mrs. Williams’ thoughts and motivations, which may be triggering to a reader who may not have an interest in religion yet still seeks an inspirational read. Although I still strove to be objective in my reading, the constant preaching and heavy evangelical language were a bit overwhelming.

I appreciated witnessing Mrs. Williams’ healing process after losing her husband, as well as seeing her gain the wisdom to forgive. If you enjoy similar shorter books, such as “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho,  which have a religious theme to them, then you’ll also enjoy this book. The expressions of pain and passion is palpable and is the thing I truly enjoyed about this short story?

Pages: 106 | ASIN: B087THC8P7

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The Fluke: Sex and Crime Short Stories

The Fluke is thrilling crime story that is engaging from the first chapter. Strange things are happening around an old mansion and I was certainly intrigued from the first chapter. This short book definitely could have used some breathing room, but as it stands at 65 pages it’s packed with compelling mysteries and fascinating characters that together easily invite you into Dorothy’s gripping experience. Honestly if it was a longer book I would have kept reading, and I am actually amazed at how much of a thriller this short story was!

This type of book is not one I would usually read, having a little more sexual detail, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and did not feel uncomfortable at all. It was very well written, and in a diary/memoir format, making it even more alluring.

I love that from the beginning it seemed just like a typical memoir and then it surprisingly turned into a murder mystery. To me it seemed like such a quick change but the story was so captivating that both themes came together really well?

I enjoyed the puzzling mystery at the heart of this story. It certainly keeps you guessing with a Twilight Zone-esque aura to the weird happenings around the alluring mansion. Usually I’m not one to uncover how a mystery could conclude but I was quite proud of myself when I found out what I assumed was correct – not many people would find a story being predictive to being a good quality but it entertained me no less. 

At first I couldn’t see where the title tied in with the content of the book but it does eventually come to light and I quite liked the way it did tie in altogether.

Overall, The Fluke is a provocative yet delightful crime thriller that fans of suspenseful mysteries will surely enjoy.

Pages: 65 | ASIN: B087P1MZRL

A Literary Smorgasbord

A Literary Smorgasbord: Memoir, Fiction, and Poetry, by Migel Jayasinghe, is a unique collection of largely autobiographical shorts juxtaposed with fictional short stories, poetry, and a drama. Jayasinghe, well-traveled and a virtual genius in his own right, provides readers with a smattering of brief excerpts from his own life while also offering a nice selection of stories of varying genres. To read Jayasinghe’s work is to take a peek inside his mind.

Jayasinghe’s autobiographical excerpts, presented throughout the book in no certain order, allow readers to venture alongside him through trips abroad, on a special visit to see one of his former teachers, to meeting and marrying his wife. We, as readers, are not often afforded the opportunity to truly get to know the author as we pore over his/her work. Jayasinghe is changing all of that for us. Interspersed throughout this short read, we get to visit with him and his family before being dropped quickly back into one of his short stories and glimpsing his imagination at work.

I am not an avid fan of poetry, but there is something different and captivating about Jayasinghe’s poems. Having the generally more serious tone of the fiction short stories, some of the poems included in Jayasinghe’s book do venture a bit away from the somber side. Not one to chuckle aloud when reading, I have to admit that Jayasinghe’s “Halloween Day” gave me cause to laugh out loud. Each poem brings something new to the table and shines a light on a different aspect of the author’s life in Spain.

Readers will easily relate to the play, “Market Forces: A One Act Play.” Timeshares are a thorn in the side for far too many people. Following along as the main characters are subjected to a wordy presentation while they want nothing more than to claim their promised prize, readers will shake their heads knowingly, groan along with them, and cringe at the pressure they experience. The drama is an overall fun read and different from any of the author’s other writing.

I enjoyed guessing where each of the author’s shorts would take me. Jayasinghe, without a doubt, is comfortable with all genres and hands readers a wonderful mixture of texts. Readers will appreciate the personal peek into the author’s life as they absorb the uniqueness of his writing.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B07QY7L1TJ

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Dangling Gandhi

Dangling Gandhi is a series of 12 short stories written by Jayanthi Sankar about people living in Singapore, India, and Asia. Each character has a different goal or belief. Many of these stories take place during colonial times. Struggling for independence during a time where not many women had a voice. Told from several different points of view, Dangling Gandhi gives readers a look at how different people live their unique lives. The title story has the metaphor both in the title and the story.

Each of the stories has a different tone and theme. This book of short stories is an inspiring read that, although some stories are more engaging than others, they all taught me more about how people live their lives in countries in Asian, such as India and Singapore.

I like the way in which Jayanthi writes passages with deep prolific language that immediately hooks readers into the story. One of the themes that were prominent was perseverance. My advice to readers while reading Dangling Gandhi is to read it slowly and with an open mind. The story left a deep impression on me most especially the chapter ‘Did Churchill Know?’ How we react in tough situations says a lot about who we are. I have not stopped to think about my own reactions in situations for a while now and this section opened up my mind.

The title immediately attracted my attention before I started reading. The whole message behind the title of the book is that life won’t always go the way that you expected it to. You have to look at life upside down which is what happens most of the time.

I would recommend this story to those who have started studying culture in school. Dangling Gandhi by Jayanthi Sanker is a stirring read that will educate and inspire you.

Pages: 317 | ISBN: 9388860039

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Ghost Hunts

S. J. Lomas Author Interview

S. J. Lomas Author Interview

Winter Chills is a collection of seasonal ghost stories that entertain and spark the imagination. How did the stories in this collection come together?

This collection was a collaboration between 4 writers who met through the #WritingCommunity on Twitter. I (S.J.) was in the process of starting up 8N Publishing, and a conversation with D.B. Carter led to the idea for this book. Derek R. King and Natalie Reeves-Billings were invited to contribute because I’d seen some of their work and was very impressed with it. I thought our individual styles would mesh well to create a cohesive overall book.

Winter Chills was born.

The Holiday Party was my favorite story from the collection. What was your favorite story from the book?

Thank you so much! It took me a lot of false starts before I was able to write The Holiday Party, so it really makes me happy to know you enjoyed it so much.

It’s hard to pick a favorite. Each story is special to me for different reasons. I think they all work well together, as a whole, even though we wrote them separately without knowing what everyone else was writing.

I’m very proud of how it all turned out.

What was the inspiration for your story, ‘The Holiday Party’?

I have a friend who’s a paranormal investigator. I’ve gone on a couple of public ghost hunts with him and it was a fascinating and peaceful experience. It really made me wonder ‘what if?’

I took that feeling and tried to apply it to the progression of the story.

Do you enjoy writing short stories, or do you prefer to work on longer novels?

It had been years since I’d written a short story, so trying that out again was a bit of a challenge for me. Every word and action has to count in a short story. You don’t have the luxury of tens of thousands of words to build up to the climax. You only have a few thousand. If you don’t start in the right place, or relay the right events, it won’t work. It was a challenge, but I really enjoyed it.

I’m working on a new series of novels now, but also starting a short story for a future collection. It’s good to keep the writing skills sharp by trying different things from time to time.

Author Links: GoodReads | TwitterFacebook | Website

In the spirit of seasonal ghost stories, this wintry collection will send a tingle down your spine, but may also warm your heart.Six short stories range from waiting for a mysterious midnight train, attending a party with an unexpected guest, a life-changing reunion for a miserable family, receiving a holiday greeting unlike any other, a visit from an unusual group of carolers, and a journey through a blizzard with a twist. Grab a blanket, your favorite hot drink, and settle in for some Winter Chills.

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