Monday, April 15, 2013

Note to Self - Shards and Ashes

A book review of Shards and Ashes, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

Note to Self:

In case you ever forget, Self, dystopian stories are freaking awesome. Or post-apocalyptic – there are distinctions, but sometimes they are hard to remember. Basically, thinking about what could happen if the world as we know it ended, or what could cause the end of the world, or just any crazy thing like that is oh so fascinating. If you ever doubt it, Self, don’t.

You love these kinds of stories. And there is good reason for that.

The thing you may not love as much?

Reading 9 short stories of you favorite genre. The stories are awesome. And then they end. And you’re left thinking…what?! How is that all?!?!?! I want more!!!!

And as frustrating as that can be, it really does show the quality of those short stories. Dammit.

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I recently read Shards and Ashes, a collection of short stories about dangerous futures, written by 9 amazing, best-selling authors.  Who are these authors and what stories did they write, you ask?  Well….

Hearken by Veronica Roth
~ In the future, where death can come at any time and happen any where, people gifted with perfect pitch are chosen to become Hearkeners, or people who can hear and dictate a person’s song of life, or their song of death.  When Darya’s sister asks her to make a life altering decision to hear the death song of the mother who failed her in every way, she must face realities about herself and the life that formed her into who she is.

Branded by Kelley Armstrong
~ After the devastating results of the scientific modification of people’s DNA, living Outside means certain death. Unless of course, your boyfriend is actually a werewolf and the two of you are cunning enough to attempt an escape from behind the walls to join the Branded, just make sure the hybrids don't get you first.

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl
~ When the only real currency that matters is in the form of beads of liquid, or raindrops, would you chose to save your beads to live a long, healthy life, or spend them and live the short life you have to the fullest? And what happens after the Jump that ends your life, anyway?

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine
~ Limited resources often necessitate sacrifices, even the sacrifice of thousands of children on a train leading to their death. When you are one of the few randomly chosen to live, do you stay hidden to survive, or rise up the ranks of the dogsbody’s with the hope of one day, with the fateful help of a long-lost friend, enacting revenge on the murderer responsible for countless deaths?

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder
~ What’s a girl to do when her search for batteries ends up with meeting a super-hot German boy who awakened an unknown power in you? Travel with him to a castle to solve the mystery of the magic, and the end of the world, of course!

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr
~ When a god, not one any religious books have told us about, shows up with lizard creatures that feast on corpse soup, Harmony decides that risking her life to fight the evil in her world is more important than anything else. Chris wants to keep her safe by leaving their hometown and ghostly memories for the un-occupied parts of America, but what can he possibly do to make her forget her quest for vengeance?

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia
~ The ozone layer is completely gone and living in the sun means burned, scarred, wrinkly skin; skin which some criminals, will do anything, or take anyone to get. When Phoenix’s sister goes missing, how can she hold the Skinners responsible, when the government knowingly turns a blind eye?

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis
~ The spaceship heading to a new world is kept safe through the twisted schemes of a dictator who knows that in order for their quest to survive, people must be kept under control; the smallest spark of rebellion could mean failure and certain death to the human species. When Mag decides the time for rebellion is now, Orion must choose between his love for her and his knowledge that in order for their resistance to succeed, they must bide their time.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan
~ The swamp plague is everywhere, along with the beaked doctors and their plague-eating beasts, and there is no beauty to be found. Except in Frankie’s eyes when she sees the beautiful flower gardens of the Oglethorpe family. With her sister on death’s door, Frankie will do whatever she must to keep her alive, maybe even accept help from a stranger who long ago fell in love with her eyes when she was mesmerized by the flowers.
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I really enjoyed all of the stories, especially the thrill of reading some of the scarier ones late at night. This was my first collection of short stories and overall I was very pleased with it.

You know, other than the infuriating reality that the stories I got sucked so deeply into were only 30 to 40 pages long!!!

I really wanted more from all of them. Especially Hearken, Love is a Choice, and Miasma. I mean, there was only one that had a definitive ending, because the narrator died. And even that one I wished was longer! The other 8 all could have gone on.

Please, authors, PLEASE! Write more later!

I doubt it will happen though, because isn’t that the point of a short story? To write something incredibly engaging, give a little hook or hint as to what might actually be going on, then end semi-abruptly, making the reader remember the story forever and ever, always wondering what happened next because you only gave them 40 pages of mind-blowing goodness that ended with a crazy making cliffhanger that is never resolved?

That is the point, right?

FYI, these editors also have a collection of Paranormal short stories called Enthralled.

You can bet it is on my TBR list.

Because I am a glutton for punishment.


(10 points to the first person who catches the reference I made to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld).


  1. I don't usually read collections of short stories, for the reason you've pointed out here. They just aren't long enough and I want more. That being said, these sound really interesting, and come to think of it, short stories are probably nice for when I'm too busy to do much reading. I might have to check this book out. Thanks for the recommend!

  2. Ooh, ooh, me, I know the reference to the Uglies series! It's just so "crazy making!" how good dysopians are!