Still by CM Bohn

Original story by me

It was after visiting hours when Karen pulled into the parking lot, but she knew no one would say anything. They hadn’t said a word when she brought a treat yesterday. What did it matter at this point?

The room was quiet and dim when she got there. The light from the silent television gave the room a strange moving glow. As she looked at the still figure on the bed, Karen felt her pulse throb in her throat. She couldn’t move from the doorway. Her fingers went icy cold. Then he stirred and opened his eyes, and Karen almost fell over.

“Hey, Karrie-Girl. How’s my pretty girl?” Dad asked. “Come in and sit down.”

She entered, scooting a chair closer to the bed, and sat. “Hey, Dad. Did I wake you?”

“I was just resting. You can turn that damn thing off if you want to. The nurses keep turning it on when they come in.”

Karen found the TV remote and turned it off.

“That’s better. Just you this time?”

“Yeah, I just wanted to see my Daddy.”

He smiled then, but it was a pale imitation of his old grin. Her stomach clenched a little, but she ignored it.

“How are you feeling tonight?” she asked.

“I’m fine. Kind of sleepy.”

Karen looked around the room. The cookie crumbs had been cleaned up. Yesterday she had been taken with an urgent need to make oatmeal raisin cookies. She’d eaten half a dozen as they came out of the oven, still warm and tasting of cinnamon. When she brought the kids to the hospital that afternoon, her son had insisted they bring cookies for Grandpa.

But when they got there, Dad shared the plate around, urging the kids to help themselves. The kids were happy to dig in. Karen watched her dad until he finished one cookie, the last one on the plate. She knew he wasn’t eating the hospital food. But he seemed to enjoy the cookie.

“Are you thirsty, Dad?” she asked, handing him a mug of water. He managed a few sips.

“My Karrie-Girl.” He patted her hand.

She clasped her fingers around his. His hand felt dry and shriveled, like it was withering away. She clung to it as they talked.

They talked about old times and laughed a little. Their voices were nearly lost in the murmur of machines, the conversation in the hall, the sounds from the parking lot. After a few minutes chat, the room grew quiet. Everything important had been said long ago. Karen laid her head down on his chest and he stroked her hair with his feather-light hands. She closed her eyes and prayed. But no tears.

In the days to come, when the phone call came, through the funeral and the lunch after, during the cleanup; she knew that half of herself remained there in that room, still sitting in that chair, still feeling the feather-light touch of his hand, still stroking her hair.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

22304616._SY540_Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy/Horror Novella

Silence is an innkeeper, but if you’re thinking of a friendly, garrulous sort who likes to gossip with the patrons, you’re far off. Silence is grim. Most folks are pretty grim, here on the outskirts of the forest. She’s also a bounty hunter, and between both jobs, she’s barely making enough to provide for her 14 year old daughter and her ward. Now she’s heard of a fat bounty on a known criminal, currently sitting downstairs in her tavern.

Silence and her daughter William Ann wait for the right moment, then follow to get the bounty. They’ll have to track a whole group of men, kill them, and bring back the body of the one they want, all without getting killed by the men or attacked by the shadows who dwell in the forest.

Of the two, the forest shadows are far more deadly. One touch and you’ll start to wither. Only silver can stop you from becoming like them. There are rules to keep you safe, but even when you follow the rules, there’s never any guarantee. But Silence needs that bounty.

Sanderson is really one of my favorite writers. I loved how he painted such a vivid picture of a grim world and a tough woman determined to keep her family together no matter what it took. Haunting and mesmerizing, you have to read this one.

Review: London Road

Title: London Road, Linked Stories Volume 1

Author: Tessa Smith McGovern

Setting: London, present day

Theme: second chances, family, mental health, love

This little book starts with Janice, recently released from prison for manslaughter with no plans and no friends. She’s heard vaguely about a boarding house that will take in people like her, so she heads that way. It turn out to be a lucky break.

All these stories are short, each focusing on just one person, and just little glimpses into one day of the life of the residents of the London Road boarding house. But together, those glimpses add up to a complex picture. I quite liked this book and I would love to read more by this author.

Review: The Tuesday Club Murders

Title: The Tuesday Club Murders or The 13 Problems (Miss Marple #2)

Author: Agatha Christie

Setting: England 1930s or so

Format: physical book

Plot: Author Raymond West is staying with his aunt in the country. One evening at a dinner with friends, he proposes that they each relate a mystery, then see who can come up with the best solution to the story. To his surprise, sweet little Aunt Jane wins every time.

Reaction: I love Miss Marple. I always pictured her as a sweet, white-haired lady with “a mind like a steel trap,” as a police acquaintance says. Now that I’ve seen the mysteries with Joan Hickson in the role, I can’t imagine anyone else. She’s deceptively mild, but oh, what a wicked tongue she has when she wants to. Miss Marple was always very much a gentlewoman, but not always a gentle woman.

While I prefer the longer books like The Body in the Library, the nice thing about the short stories is that you can pick them up when you just have a few minutes to read and then put it down again without worrying about remembering where you were in the story next time. I’ve been working on rereading this one for a couple of months, and I never felt any rush to finish, just a bit of happiness every time I picked it up.

My favorite story is the one told by glamorous actress Jane Hillyer of a burglary. If you haven’t read Miss Marple before, I think I’d recommend starting with the first one, Murder at the Vicarage.

Read Harder Book 1

Title: Future Worlds: A Science Fiction Anthology

Authors: Various, my favorite was Michael Darling

Read Harder Challenge Task #21: Read a book published by a micropress: Future World Publishing

This was a collection of several short stories that I got through Kickstarter, and I have to say I found it disappointing overall. The only story I really loved was by Michael Darling. It features a couple of performers traveling together on tour, when Harry meets an audience member who won’t play along.

The rest of the stories were a mixed bag, and while some of them were good, there were all basically commercials for full length series. Why did I pay so much for this when it was mostly advertising? I would recommend this one mostly for those who want to discover a new series without reading a whole book. I did find a couple I want to read more of.

 

Book Review: Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Title: Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Authors: Elisabeth Grace FoleyRachel Heffington, J. Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, Hayden Wand

Looking for a little fairy tale magic this season? This collection offers six stories which are both distinct and unique. From steampunk to western to WWII, this little book offers something for every reader. Not all of them end happily ever after, and as usual with such an anthology, I liked some stories better than others. I didn’t like the Snow White story as much, but they were all good stories. I wasn’t completely crazy about any of them, but I did like them each enough that I want to see how a full length story by these authors stands up.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, but my opinion is my own. Verdict: worth checking out!