Books to Love: Shorts Go With Short Stories Part Two


On Monday, I wrote about several short stories that I have enjoyed. I was purposeful in keeping those short stories specific and outside of the context of anthologies. However, I really love short story anthologies. One of the reasons I like them so much is because they give me a chance to experience new authors without committing to a whole novel. Another reason I like them is because they are usually compiled by theme. 

And since I’m not ready to fold up my shorts and don long pants yet, here are a few anthologies of short stories that are a lot of fun. (Warning, the themes are decidedly varied, but isn’t that the best sort of reading?) 


Songs of Blood and Gold:

This is actually three anthologies about three regions in the ancient world: Pompeii, Britannia, and Troy. I’m a great lover of history and these short stories don’t disappoint. It was also a great enjoyment, particularly the Pompeii stories, of seeing how different authors approached such a historic tragedy. 

The authors are varied, but among them are a few favorites: Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Schecter, Stephanie Thornton, Stephanie Dray, and Libbie Hawker. So, if you’re feeling a hankering to don your plumed helmet and take up your machaira, gird your loins with these short stories and you’ll be well on your way into rich and colorful historical fiction.

If you’re interested in only one of those specific region in the ancient world, each of these anthologies is available on its own: A Year of Ravens (Britannia); A Song of War (Troy); and A Day of Fire (Pompeii). 


Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History without the Fairy Tale Endings:

To be fair, these aren’t really short stories. However, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie compiled this list of historic princesses, giving each her own chapter; therefore, you can pick it up chapter by chapter and not really lose anything in the reading. I have it on my Kindle, and in a pinch, can read a chapter on my phone if I find myself in the sorry position of not having packed my book. I’m only a couple chapters into this book, but I have enjoyed learning about these intrepid women throughout history. 


Jane Austen Made Me Do it: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart:

I picked up this anthology because, well, Jane Austen. However, a number of the authors are ones I love: Carrie Bebris, Pamela Aidan, Lauren Willig, Jo Beverley, Amanda Grange… I’m not sure which short story is my favorite. I do recall really loving Amanda Grange’s, but I haven’t actually finished reading my way through this anthology yet, so that could change. Although, Lauren Willig’s is a lot of fun with its shades of Northanger. 

And, if you happen to enjoy Carrie Bebris and Pamela Aidan’s short stories, there’s good news for you: they both have written Jane Austen inspired series. Carrie Bebris had a spectacular murder mystery series that parallels Pride and Prejudice with The Thin Man, turning Elizabeth and Darcy into erstwhile detectives. The first novel in her series is Pride and Prescience. The subsequent novels- Suspense and Sensibility, North by Northanger, et. al- also have the added bonus of bringing in the principle characters from other Austen novels. Pamela Aiden wrote a trilogy paralleling Pride and Prejudice; it’s written from Darcy’s perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed them, particularly the richness of her language, which felt akin to the language which Austen would have used herself. The second installment is a particular favorite because it had the most new storyline, chronicling the time Darcy was away from Elizabeth after he had separated Jane and Bingley. Aiden had a lot of room to play here and I think she did an excellent homage to Austen’s love of the fantastical by weaving a little of the gothic goodness of Northanger into her plot. (See post here.)


Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War:

Some of these stories are positively heartbreaking, but given the title, do you find that surprising? I think my favorite one might be Jennifer Robson’s, but I do love Beatriz Williams, too. Robson’s is more satisfying in that the ending is on a happier note. However, Williams’ is positively evocative, and contains a really great line: 

Sex hangs in the air, thick and musky, and it tastes like Scotch whisky.

I haven’t finished all the short stories in this anthology. I’m looking forward to Hazel Gaynor’s in particular, as I have seen her novels recommended based on the books I like to read, but have never read anything by her. Have any of you, dear readers? What did you think of her? 

This anthology introduced me to Jennifer Robson, by the by. If you’re looking for more books on the Great War or the Second World War, then search her out. She’s wonderful. Also, you can purchase the short stories separately if you're interested only in specific authors. 


From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel):

Confession: I haven’t started reading this one yet. However, it’s nestled in my Kindle just waiting for me to start it. I purchased this anthology because I liked several of the authors chosen to contribute (Renee Ahdieh, Sabaa Tahir). Given that there were over 40 contributors, I would hazard a guess that there’s a little something here for every type of reader. And, if you’re a Star Wars fan, then this might be just the things to get you out there meeting authors from different genres who also appreciate the franchise as much as you do. 

And, if you are a Star Wars fan, then this post from May the Fourth might be just the thing to make you smile today. 

Now, it’s your turn, dear readers. Any short story anthologies that you recommend?