Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
by Ben Loory
208 pages
short stories

***Recommended Reading***

A delayed review, thanks to a career change right in the middle of attempting to read a pile of books from NetGalley!

I followed the suggestion put forth by author Ben Loory in his fabulous title and read most of his stories at nighttime, which proved frustrating because I had a difficult time putting the book down. I quickly developed the "just one more..." mentality while reading and loved being whisked away at night with his take on the modern fable. I was extremely pleased to see the book featured at my local Barnes & Noble during my last visit to the store - it definitely deserves attention for its creativity and heart. I have a hunch it may be one of those quietly successful books that is passed around from book lover to book lover and discussed among friends.

While I am not generally a fan of short stories, I was completely mesmerized and delighted by this collection which was just as magical as the two collections I often recommend to others: Kissing in Manhattan and Magic for Beginners. I love stories that put you on edge, have an air of mystery about them, spark some magic, and keep you guessing. Since I was reading this on my nook, I never knew when a story was going to end, and that was a huge part of the fun for me as well.

After reading the entire book, I thought long and hard about which stories affected me most, whether for pure enjoyment reasons or because they made me think after I had moved on. It was challenging, but I narrowed the list to ten of my favorites, and then narrowed it even more for this review. If you are curious even a little about this collection, please check out this fantastic debut and dive into Loory's imagination with some of the following...

(I am not giving away anything really, because I just want you to have at it! Here is a tasting...)

The Book - in which a book with completely blank pages becomes and incredible success
The Crown - in which a dish-washing employee discovers an invisible crown in the suds and begins to wear it with results he does not anticipate
The Octopus - in which an octopus has left the sea to live in the city but struggles with agoraphobia
The Tree - in which a tree that can walk is fenced in for public display
The TV and Winston Churchill - in which a television, frustrated with showing horrible and mind-numbing programming, decides to compose an opera about Churchill

I think this book will be one of my top ten of 2011 and I will be pushing it on everyone I know.

You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
240 pages
General Fiction - short stories

Not usually a fan of short stories, I quickly found myself completely immersed in the tales of the life of the military families whose lives vary so much from my own. As a military wife, former resident of Ft. Hood (where many of the stories occur), and current resident of the Middle East, Fallon tells stories that seem to be non-fiction and for that I think she has really tapped into her niche.

At a time when our world is so chaotic and so many families are separated by war, I read each story in this book sending more and more prayers up to Heaven knowing that many husbands and wives have experienced life in the way that Fallon's characters have. I think each reader will take one or two stories with them long after they close the cover.

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Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
Published 2009
General Fiction - Short Stories
240 pages

* * * * * Best of 2009 According to Time Magazine * * * * *

The stories were written well enough to make me feel uneasy as a reader (which is Tower's goal, I presume) but completely forgettable. The only story I could even summarize for you would be the first one, and I don't even remember its title. Move on to another 2009 book.