Book News, Prize winners

Noirville winners!

Yes, it’s taken a bit longer than planned, but the Noirville winners have finally been announced.  In case you missed my original post, I was super excited to be part of the competition amongst an illustrious group of judges.

Fahrenheit Noirville: short stories from the dark side banner picture.

You can read the winner’s list here – and I’m thrilled that pretty much all my favourites made the cut.  The standard was incredibly high though and it was really, really hard to separate the stories.  All the judging was done blind, so I was really excited to see who was behind the stories that I’d enjoyed reading so much.   So today I’ve got a whole load of new people to add to my twitter watch list so that I can see what they’re going to write next.

It was such a great experience to have the chance to be a judge on this.  It was also absolutely terrifying – definitely out of my comfort zone! The actual published book will be out in a couple of months and I can’t wait to see the finished book, and obviously hear what everyone else thinks about the collection.

Congratulations to all the winners – and commiserations to the people who missed out.  Here’s to the first Noirville Short Story collection – may it be the first of many!

 

crime

Bonus Post: Noirville competition

So, in exciting news, I’m going to be one of the judging panel for a short story competition for Fahrenheit Press.  I know.  Exciting times.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of what Fahrenheit Press are doing – I’ve hosted interviews with several of their authors (like Duncan MacMaster and Derek Farrell) and reviewed a hell of a lot more of their books (I started making a list, but I got embarrassed about how much of a fangirl it made me look. But there’s a tag.  You can search for it and point and laugh).  I’m in my second year of having an annual subscription to their stuff (a great gift for the crime reader in your life – as I said at Christmas!), and it’s meant I’ve read new authors, new to me authors and tried stuff that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.  So I was thrilled to be asked, if a little nervous about it all.

I love the picture. It’s way more glamorous than I’ll ever be, so I’m hoping to get reflected glamour from it!
The rest of the panel are: Jo Perry – author of the Charlie and Rose series (as reviewed here a few weeks back), and book bloggers Kate Moloney (of Bibliophile Book Club), Gordon McGhie (of Grab This Book) and Janet Emson (of From First To Last Page).  I know.  I’m super punching above my weight. I’m going to be on my best behaviour and I’ve already got a spreadsheet planned to make sure I do this right.*

Details on how to enter are here if you’re so inclined.  Closing date for entries is the end of September.  And if you’re not entering yourself, I’ll be checking back in afterwards to let you know how it all went and (hopefully) rave about the amazing talent we’ve discovered.

*I did a recruitment selection course the other week and it scared me stupid.

Book of the Week, literary fiction, women's fiction

Book of the Week: Difficult Women

This week’s BotW is Roxane Gay’s short story collection Difficult Women.  I’ve been reading this as my bedtime book for a few weeks (which is where short story collections often end up in my house!) and have really enjoyed reading.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
My copy of Difficult Women

Difficult Women is a collection of stories about very different women, all of whom might be termed “difficult”.  The term “difficult women” conjures images of angry or confrontational women, but that’s not necessarily who these women are.  These are women who don’t fit into neat categories.  They’re women who have had bad experiences.  There’s abuse, violence and infidelity and a whole host of trigger warnings here, but no two women are the same.  There’s poverty and privilege, there are single women, married women, violent women and women who are in fish out of water situations and there’s some sci fi too.

Some of the stories are sad.  But somehow this is not a sad book.   It’s thought provoking and clever and really beautifully written.  There were women that  liked, women I didn’t like and women who had life experiences a million miles from mine but there was always something in the story to make you feel empathy with the women, no matter how terribly they were behaving.

The last short story collection I raved about on here was American Housewife (I think) which is totally different to this, but both reminded me that when done well short story collections can be as satisfying as 500 page novels. I’ve been following Roxane Gay on Twitter for ages and have heard people raving about her but until now I’d only read odd stories in isolation or her essays.  I know I’ll be going out and finding more of her writing after reading this.

You can get hold of Difficult Women from Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles and on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week

Book of the Week: American Housewife

I know. I know. This is a day late. And I’m sorry. It’s been one of those weeks. Work has been quietly bonkers, I’ve been exhausted and time got away from me. Rather than rush something out to keep to schedule, I thought I’d take the extra time and do it properly.

So the BotW is Helen Ellis’s short story collection, American Housewife. These a a series of deliciously dark and funny bite-sized  tales, which I mostly read before bed. I’m not a massive short story reader, but they do make good bedtime reading because they have good obviously stopping places. And while these blackly humorous, there’s nothing here that’s going to give you nightmares. That said, Ellis doesn’t give you all the answers, some stories have distinctly ambiguous endings. Or even ambiguous middles.

Copy of American Housewife
I love the cover design – so simple and striking but appropriate for the book

I think my favourite story was the email war between two New York neighbours over their shared hallway. Or maybe the instructions on how to be a patron of the arts. Or the very unusual book club. Basically, there’s a lot of good stories here and I’m spoilt for choice.

If you fancy dipping your toe in the short story pond, this would be a very good place to start. And if you’re a short story fan, this should definitely be on your list. In fact I’d be surprised if it isn’t already. It is a hardback at the moment – and you’ll probably need to look in a proper bookshop for this (ie not the supermarket) or you can order it from Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles. It’s also available on Kindle and Kobo – at the much friendlier price of £2.99 at time of writing.