Sunday, October 27, 2013

Surprised at All the Stories I've Read Lately

Hadn't realized it, but I guess I've read a number of stories lately. I say stories instead of books purposely. I'm finding that I don't have time to sit down and read a 500 page novel. I mean, I do have time - in fact, I'm in the middle of Watchers by Dean Koontz - but I don't have large chunks of time to dedicate to extended novel reading.

So what's a story addict to do? Read novellas, novelettes, and short stories. There are plenty of good shorter works out there. Here are some recent reads that are also on my Goodreads list. Some have graphic content, so not necessarily recommending them, per se, but if you like thrillers like I do, then most of these are suspenseful treats.

Bad Nurse by Jude Hardin

This 87 page novella is just right for an evening of enjoyment. It has a bit of a twist, which I thought well done, but Hardin's strength is the fast-paced action that keeps you engaged from page one. Here's the blurb:

It’s your worst nightmare… You’re a patient in the hospital, at the mercy of those taking care of you. Your nurse walks into the room carrying a syringe, but the medication isn’t meant to help you. It’s meant to kill you. You don’t know this, of course, until it’s too late, until you’re slipping into the abyss, unable to call for help. You sensed there was something odd about this caregiver from the start, and as you sink further and further into the blackness of oblivion, one thought keeps running through your mind: Why?

~*~

Lock and Load by Sean Black

At 70 pages, this is also a quick read, and quite well done. I discovered the author via a StoryBundle of thrillers - 8 books for a minimum of ten bucks, I think. Check it out soon, though. Offer expires in about two weeks. Here's the blurb for this story:

Fresh from a stint undercover in Pelican Bay Supermax prison in Northern California, Ryan Lock, and his business partner, former US Marine Ty Johnson, are in Los Angeles, tasked with protecting a young Hollywood actress from an abusive movie star boyfriend who refuses to accept that their relationship is over. But as Lock knows only too well, and Ty is about to learn, keeping someone safe from harm can be harder than it looks, and damage can come in unexpected forms.

~*~

Jacked Up! by Joe Konrath and Tracy Sharp

Another novella - or short novel at 74 pages (20k words) - that delivers a lot of action in a short amount of space. You seeing a pattern here? Most stories this length focus on one plotline and take the reader on a wild ride to the end. Which I like.

I'm also excited to see this collaboration between Konrath and Sharp. It's the first of many to come as Konrath has franchised his Jack Daniels stories. So the idea is that a slew of collaborations will be released in the months ahead that will also feature the co-writer's main character, in this case, Sharp's Leah Ryan. Ryan is a kick butt former "repo" chick who has become a private investigator. In the course of tracking down a stolen car, she meets Lt. Jack Daniels, and all sorts of mayhem ensues. Fun read.

~*~

Paris is a B* by Barry Eisler

This longish short story (or novelette of about 8500 words, ie 35 pages) features Eisler's trying-to-retire contract killer John Rain in an incident in Paris with his Mossad operative girlfriend, Delilah. I've not read any of Eisler's novels, so this introduction definitely worked for me - I'm inclined to buy one of his novels now that I'm familiar with his writing style and main protagonists.

In fact, if a writer has a popular series, one of the main purposes of these shorter works is to provide a free or cheap "teaser" that works both as a stand alone story and a gateway drug into their other, longer, works. Works for me.

~*~

Exposed by Joe Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson

At 120 pages (about 35,000 words), this story is longer than the others but actually has less plot than the stories I've finished recently. It reads like a long car chase and is meant to be reminiscent of the action movie sequences where there is a ton of action, lots of explosions, plenty of thrills and death-defying feats but very little storyline, other than the escape or rescue or completion of the mission that set the story in motion to begin with. This means there is very little breathing room, you have to read read read to keep up with the action...by the time the scene/story is over, you're wiped out! lol

So while not my favorite among all these thrillers I've posted on above, it does deliver a crazy rush and introduces an intriguing special operative, Codename: Chandler, who appears in three novels: Flee, Spree, and Three. This series is a collaboration as well, and has an interesting premise, which means I'll probably get to them eventually!

So that's it for now. I've actually read a few more stories, novelettes, and novellas these past few weeks and I'll report on some of my favorites here later this week. What series have you enjoyed? Do you like shorter works or are you stuck on lengthy novels? Comments and discussion appreciated.
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