[Book Talk] Trigger Warning: Short Fictions And Disturbances by Neil Gaiman (Audiobook)

trigger warningBook Details:

Format: Audiobook
Source: Borrowed
Listened: August 2016

Synopsis:

Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things–which includes a never-before published American Gods story, “Black Dog,” written exclusively for this volume.

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.

My Thoughts

For years and years now I’ve considered myself to be a fan of Neil Gaiman. It all started back in the late 90’s when I was working at a local drug store. We’d get in a selection of paperback novels to sell along with the magazines and one day Stardust was among them. I remember being interested by it and eventually bought myself a copy. I fell in love instantly and declared that book my absolute favourite – quite fitting since I literally could not put it down. I read it wherever I was and tried to figure out how I could read it while doing whatever I was doing, whether or not reading was something you did while doing whatever it was I was doing. Since then I had read the story and read it again, listened to the audiobook, seen the movie – and I’ve read more of Neil Gaiman’s work, tried following his career, and so on and so forth.

My Neil Gaiman shelf at home is getting more and more packed as I pick up a new book of his here and there. It’s hard to keep on top of him since he has so much material and I don’t want to be that person who just buys things and never reads them, but eventually that’s what I’ve turned into. So, it’s been my mission lately to try and read all the Neil Gaiman I have on my shelf, whether it’s once a month or once every six months, just try and get through it all and experience all he has to offer.

Trigger Warning was released last year and I just had to buy a copy, even though I still own an unread copy of Smoke And Mirrors, Neil’s first collection of short stories. I completely gobbled up this collection, thus declaring my old self not quite ready for short stories, which is why I’m pretty sure I never read his previous collection or the one before that. I mean, I read a few stories in the books, but I never felt inclined to just breeze through them like I did this one. I started listening to the audiobook since I had seen it on Hoopla. In fact, I didn’t even intend to listen to this book but when I had gotten into my car one day I realized that I hadn’t downloaded my current audiobook listen onto my phone so I panicked, since one should always have an audiobook to listen to in the car, and quickly browsed through Hoopla to find something since I could listen to it using mobile data. I came across one title of Neil’s that wasn’t available and then saw this one and immediately thought that short stories would be a good idea since I could listen to a story here or there rather than devote large chunks of time to the book at once.

Or I could just read the whole thing in a few sittings, which is what I did.

I loved these stories. Sure, some of them weren’t my favourite and I’m sure some went over my head, but there were quite a few that I absolutely adored. My favourites include Making a Chair, The Thing About Cassandra, Adventure Story (the pteradactyls!), the July and October story in A Calendar of Tales (seriously, the one with the genie is awesome!), The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury (I loved this one since I’m a mom who’s CONSTANTLY forgetting normal words – and in the same sense, I fear forgetting things as I grow older), Click-Clack the Rattlebag (I’ve listened to this one a few times and always love it. It’s short and so super spooky!), Nothing O’Clock (I’m not the biggest fan of the 11th Doctor, but this was a great story. Kind of made me want to pick up the collection of stories this story was written for.), and Feminine Endings (ADORED this one. It’s one of those psychologically creepy stories with a real hit at the end.). Others were great, too, but these were my absolute favourites. I would say my least favourite stories in the collection would probably be the Sherlock Holmes one and The Sleeper And The Spindle (which I had read before and was just so so about).

Pretty much right when I started listening, I fell in love with Neil’s voice (as I usually do) and as he talked about the different stories, I wondered how one would go about talking to Neil about mundane things, like picking up a gallon of milk, or telling him to put his socks in the laundry basket. His stories are so twisted and dark that I wonder what he dreams about or what he talks about in conversation, since I really only know him through his stories. He’s the kind of writer who makes me love writers, the kind of writer who makes me gaze upon writers with awe, wondering how they manage to craft such interesting stories that suck us readers in, making us want more and more. The instant I finished listening, I knew I had to really catch up on more of my Neil Gaiman reading and I fully intend to! And I really look forward to reading more of the story collections of his because I really think they are the best.

{My Thoughts On} My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins

my true love gave to meTalk about highly anticipated books! When the holidays roll around, I *love* reading holiday-themed books. I’m not sure why, since I live in Canada and we get a ton of snow, so the mood is there, AND I love Christmas, so the decorations and Christmas tree are always spot on. Plus, there’s the Christmas carols on the radio and all that good cheer going around. Do I really need MORE of a holiday boost this time of year?

Either way, it’s still super exciting to find the next best holiday book — and it’s even MORE exciting when it’s a book by various authors, most of whom I already love! Short stories are great, too, since I can read one before bed or in the morning before the boy gets up and I don’t have to remember all those plot points and what’s really going on when I pick it up again.

The unfortunate part about a collection of short stories, though, is that I’m not going to like ALL the stories in the book, but that’s just a given. I’m sure I’m not the only one! So I’m going to run down my quick thoughts on all the stories in this book that took me half a month to read … what can I say, it’s the holidays! Things were busy.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell (Verdict: LOVE!)

I wouldn’t consider myself a HUGE Rainbow Rowell fan, but she’s growing on me. This story was the perfect way to start off the book with a countdown of midnights with two friends. More New Years-y than Christmas-y but definitely hit me in the feels.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link (Verdict: Meh)

Right off the bat I wanted to love every story in the book, but this one was just … strange. It was one of those stories where I just didn’t connect with or care about anyone, unfortunately.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena (Verdict: Liked It)

I think my problem with the last story was that it was just to fantastical … this one was not. It was more modern day, boy meets girl kind of story. It was cute.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han (Verdict: Meh)

So I loved Jenny’s Summer series and expected to love this story, but again it was just too fantastical for me. In the beginning it made me think of Elf, but it was just a little too boring and vague for me.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins (Verdict: LOVE!)

OK, even though I was NOT a fan of Isla and the Happily Ever After, I loved this story. I kind of expected to hate it, thinking Stephanie was losing her touch with writing, but it was just such a sweet story! I loved that the two main characters met at a tree lot and then spent the evening together decorating and making things Christmas-y … I loved both of the main characters and how cute they were around one another. Just such a sweet story.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan (Verdict: Meh)

I think this is a story I just didn’t quite get. I haven’t read a lot of David Levithan’s books and I do appreciate the LGBT story being included, but there was just a lot of angst in this one.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black (Verdict: Meh)

What the hell did I just read? This one was just weird for me … and about the part of the book where I stalled since I read two ‘meh’ stories in a row. Maybe I just don’t appreciate fantasy stories, but I just didn’t like this one. It was kind of on the same level as The Lady and the Fox.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman (Verdict: LOVE!)

Again, wasn’t a huge fan of Gayle’s last book, but this story was so cute!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire (Verdict: Liked it)

I really liked this one. It was fun!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White (Verdict: Liked it)

This one was kind of fun … the story of a girl who works in a restaurant in Christmas, CA. They get a new chef who just seems to know what people want. It brings back memories for people and helps them realize what they should be doing in life. I thought it was cute.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter (Verdict: LOVE … but wanted more)

This was one of those short stories that would be WAY better as a full-length novel. I loved the story of two girls switching plane tickets, but then the ending was way too rushed and happy. I wanted this story to be drawn out more. It was really, really good until the crazy rushed ending.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Verdict: Meh)

OK, I know I’m the black sheep with this one, but maybe it’s a fantasy thing again. I loved one of Laini’s books so I know she’s a good writer, but I honestly skimmed through this one. Everyone had been raving about it, so I wanted it to be good, but I just couldn’t get into it. It was one of those stories that didn’t have me connected at all and I think I was more annoyed reading it.

So there you have it …. Mostly, I think I liked the collection. It was nice to look back on the stories and actually remember what they were about, since sometimes I’ll read through short stories and have those that really stand out and then others that I don’t even remember reading.

Even though the collection wasn’t AS good as I thought it was going to be (less fantasy, more romance maybe?) I still enjoyed reading it. Like I said, it was fun to devour a short story here and there and discover some authors I had never heard of. And I do have to say that the cover is CRAZY good. It’s just so eye catching and beautiful that I couldn’t NOT have a physical copy of the book. I think the cover is my favourite part!

Have you read this collection? What did you think? What are some of your favourite holiday books?

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Mini Reviews – Part 2 (The One With ALL the Horror Short Story Read-a-Thon Stories)

Short Story Read-A-Thon

The last review post had the first 6 horror short stories I read last week and this one will have the rest! Can I just say it was an awesome week of lots of great horror writing? Love that I managed to work this into my week, along with some great audiobooks and horror novels! I hope I can do the same next year and maybe read the stories I missed this year!

When The Darkness Presses and The Hole the Fox Did Make by Emily Carroll

I just found out about Canadian graphic artist and writer Emily Carroll earlier last week and I am SO in love with her! I’m also very intrigued by the whole web comic format! She had posted on Twitter about When The Darkness Presses being finished, so I thought I’d check it out. I think some of it went over my head, but I’m eager to go back and explore it again. I think one of my favourite parts of the whole story is the layout of it. It’s just so beautiful and unique … not to mention, you feel that creepy vibe almost instantly!

The Hole the Fox Did Make is also gorgeous and creepy … both stories are those that left me wanting more in the end, or at least wanting to go back and explore more and really dig at the themes of the stories. There are TONS of comics on Emily’s website — definitely worth checking out!

What’s In My Sandwich? by R. L. Stine

When I was on Twitter last week, CBC Books tweeted out a link to a new R. L. Stine Halloween short story. Since I had just been listening to some good ol’ Goosebumps by the author, I added it to my list! I didn’t realize that it was a story he tweeted out. Super short, this story packed a punch! And it made me very thankful that I had different lunch plans.

The Signalman by Charles Dickens

Talk about your effective horror! I’ve actually never read anything by Dickens (though I am a ways through A Tale of Two Cities), so I didn’t know what to expect. This story had such a creepy vibe throughout, and an ending that sent shivers up my spine. I love how it really unnerved me while reading. I knew something was up and there was a little bit of tension and then BAM! By the end, I was terrified! I definitely want to read more Dickens now.

AND I didn’t realize until I finished and looked up some reviews that this is the Doctor’s favourite Dickens. Convenient that I picked this one to read!

The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

I had heard somewhere along the way that Ray Bradbury is the master of horror. I expected a LOT from this story. In a way, this story wasn’t terrifying at all. It was another one of those stories with a subtle horror throughout, something you just couldn’t put your finger on. It’s funny because this is an older story and it kind of predicts what kind of conveniences we have in the future — some of them are absolutely bizarre, but it’s interesting how there was a truth in how much the people in the story relied on those conveniences, much like we rely on ours, even if they’re not quite the same. Another story, just like the Dickens, that had me a little on edge by the end, this one was completely different from what I expected, but still an intriguing little read.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

Maybe I’m not a total Edgar Allen Poe fan. I always expect something terrifying from him, but usually end up not being scared by the end. This one is pretty much what I expected, but I did find the story interesting, the descent into madness the main character experiences. It would almost do better to have this story as more of a full length story than such a short story. I think it would’ve been more effective and set a better mood that way.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

It had been a LONG time since I read this one, but every now and again I whip it out for a reread. This story is terrifying! It’s amazing how much joy Jackson conveys in the first pages of this story, how the reader thinks that it’s such a wonderful thing to have the lottery, only to find that it’s actually quite horrific. And the horror doesn’t really come until the last paragraphs. Why is the woman so upset? Only reading until the very end will tell you why … seriously scary story.

Have you read any of these stories? What did you think? 

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