Short Stories to read on Bank Holidays

banks holiday short stories

Hurray for the long weekend! But the most important thing to think about is what are you going to read?

These are my suggestions if you’re looking for something quick and fun that you can read when you get the chance for a sit-down and a nice cup of tea.

Please share your own favourites in the comments!

Zombie Novellas – David Moody and others

If you like Zombie stories, Infected Books published one short story a month last year. That’s 12 to choose from!

Find a full listing at Infected Books – Year of the Zombie, and choose your favourites.

Kim & Kim

Bright, loud and fun, Graphic Novel Kim & Kim follows two unlucky bounty hunters on their journeys across space.

It has two badass female main characters with realistic personalities and a strong friendship between them.

One of my favourites.

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Elma York was an astronaut in her youth and led the way to colonise Mars.  Still living on Mars as she nears the end of her career she is given one last chance to go back into Space.

Beautiful and sweet, The Lady Astronaut of Mars is free to read online at Tor.com

Sing by Karin Tidbeck

Petr is a biologist studying a village of people living on a backwater planet. Aino’s physical disabilities have made her an outcast from that village,  but her singing voice captivates Petr from the moment he hears it.

A short, beautifully written and poignant story that will make you think.

Read for free at Tor.com

Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okora

In Hello, Moto, technology and magic merge into one very interesting story. It’s a lovely mix of sci-fi and fantasy, and it’s very short so good if you only have 10 minutes to spare.

You can read Hello, Moto for free at Tor.com

Tanglefoot (The Clockwork Century, #1.2) by Cherie Priest

Free to read online, Tanglefoot is a short steampunk story set in The Clockwork Century universe.

Edwin is a young boy living in hiding in the basement lab of an old inventor. As the inventor slowly slides into dementia, Edwin becomes more and more lonely, eventually building himself a robot friend he names Ted.

But robot Ted isn’t as friendly as Edwin hoped it would be.

I love Cherie Priest’s books, and this is a good starting point for the Clockwork Century series.

You can read Tanglefoot online for free at Subterranean Press

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyone should read this balanced, insightful, and very sensible short essay on feminism.

Please, someone, make it required reading in schools!

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

A short treat from Neil Gainman, this is a young adult tale about Odd who has to save Asgard from the Frost Giants. It was released for World Book Day nearly 10 years ago and has been a favourite of mine since.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

The inspiration for Dracula, I think this is better. It might seem cliched and obvious now, but this is the book that invented the cliches and provided the foundation for all the vampire stories that have followed it.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2.5) by Patrick Rothfuss

Don’t be put off by this little book being part of a series. It’s a standalone book that follows Auri, a mysterious girl that is one of the secondary characters in the main books.

Auri is a young woman that lives in the Underthing, forgotten passageways and lost rooms underneath a university. It’s a slow book, not much happens really, but it’s odd and bittersweet and I love it.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

Two soldiers on opposite sides of a war fall in love and try to find a safe place to raise their child. A sci-fi graphic novel that’s original and thought-provoking, with unique and diverse characters.

It’s very popular, and definitely deserves all the praise it gets.

Books with Dragons in them

St George’s Day today! Which is my tenuous excuse for sharing some of my favourite books with dragons in them.

Please share your favourites in the comments, I feel like I don’t have enough dragons in my reading list.

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Sebastion and Wydrin are mercenary sell-swords who free a dragon-god whilst investigating a ruined citadel.

At first they try to ignore the problem they have created, but the dragon starts destroying towns and villages and leaving a path of destruction across the continent.

A refreshing and fun story, full of magic, adventure, fights and taverns. I’ve only started reading Jen Williams recently, but she’s jumped straight to the top of my favourite fantasy authors list.

The Hobbit

One of the most famous dragon stories thanks to the films that came out a few years ago. I much prefer the book though, shorter and better paced and without all the boring bits they added to be able to make three films out of it.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

Neither good nor evil the dragons in Earthsea are wise and long lived. Scornful of humans, they will only talk to Dragonlords, humans that understand the language of dragons.

Written in the 1960’s, the Earthsea series is one of the most influential and best-loved fantasies to be published. If you have never read it do yourself a favour and get a copy.

The Dragon Keeper (Rain Wild Chronicles, #1) by Robin Hobb

The Dragon Keeper follows a pack of dragons born so weak and deformed that they can’t fly or hunt for themselves. Tired of having to care for them the people of the Rain Wilds want to move them up river to a place where they can live away from humans.

Thymara is hired to be a Dragon Keeper, she has to care for and feed her dragon on the journey to her new home.

So if you like dragons this series is packed full of them, and Robin Hobb is a wonderful writer 🙂

Note – this series follows the Liveship Trader series, but I don’t think you need to have read that first (I hadn’t), and this series has far more dragon page time in it.

Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) by Terry Pratchett

A secret brotherhood who want to gain control of Ankh-Morpork release a dragon into the city. Enter The Watch, the ragtag and incompetent town guards who have to restore order to the chaos.

This is one of Terry Pratchett’s best Discworld stories it has many of my favourite characters and is massively funny. If you want to laugh out loud, this is the one for you.

My Favourite Romance Books

My Favourite Romance Book Covers

It’s February, it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s the perfect time to look at book romances!

I normally read sci-fi or fantasy novels but I do have a soft spot for romances, and if a book I’m reading has a bit of a romance in it even better 🙂

Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie

Jennifer Crusie has been my favourite romance writer since I was a teenager, and this is my favourite of her books.

Lucy Savage is divorcing her husband Bradley, Officer Zack Warren is trying to find him to arrest him for embezzlement. When someone shoots at Lucy and then blows up her car Zack decides he has to move into Lucy’s house to protect her.

It’s funny, fast-paced and entertaining with obvious attraction between the two characters that starts with conflict and a lot of banter, and builds slowly into the romance.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Mariana Zapata does slow burning romances so, so well. If you don’t like insta-love then this one is for you. It builds very slowly as the characters start out disliking each other but gradually become friends.

Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane

Downside Ghosts has one of my favourite book boyfriends in Terrible, a gruff  ‘enforcer’ working for the local drug lord who is more intelligent than he looks. He is also incredibly sweet and makes my heart melt.

It’s another slow-burner, in that it takes at least four books for them to sort themselves out, but there is enough magic, mysteries and ghost hunting going on for this series to be worth reading even if it didn’t have the romance.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The book that inspired the brilliant Studio Ghibli film. In my opinion, the book is even better than the film because it goes much more in depth into Sophie’s family, and we also get a lot of Howl’s backstory and family history.

Sophie has magic of her own in the book and is a much stronger and more complex character in general. Howl is also a more interesting character and we can see Sophie and Howl’s relationship builds into mutual respect.

The romance is there, and it is sweet and believable, but it’s not overly important to the story.

Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair

Linnea Sinclair writes romantic sci-fi, and she does it well. The sci-fi side is big and adventurous and the romances are full of sparks.

Here, Captain Trilby Elliot is a down on her luck trader trying to patch up her old spaceship on an uninhabited planet. When another spaceship crash lands nearby she thinks she can steal parts to fix her own ship. But the pilot is still alive, and he commanders Trilby’s ship for his own.

I loved the characters, and the sci-fi plot is well developed and could just about stand on it’s own without the romance.

Garden Spells (Waverley Family #1) by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen’s books are set in the real world but there is always something magical about them.

In Garden Spells the Waverly family has an apple tree in their garden, eat an apple and you will see your future.

Light and sweet, this is one to lose an afternoon in.

The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance

This is full of short sci-fi / romance stories. Some are good, some are not that great, but there are a couple in here that have stayed with me long after I finished reading.

The Derby Girl (Getting Physical, #2)

I play roller derby (with Wakey Wheeled Cats) and I like reading books set in the roller derby world.

This one is well written, the main character Gretchen is unusual and complex and love interest Jared has a bit more to him than the normal alpha male.

The romance is believable, Gretchen and Jared spark off each other and definitely don’t fall in love at first sight.

It’s a stand alone so there’s no need to read the first book if you don’t want to. I didn’t and I had no problems following this.

My Favourite Books I Read in 2016

Best books of 2016

My 10 favourites from the 160 books I read in 2016. It looks like I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy and children’s / young adult books this year! I found a couple of new favourite authors – Margaret Atwood and Dianne Wynn Jones.

I don’t read many new releases because I buy a lot of second hand books. From all of these I think only one was released this year!

What were your favourites from this year? Comment or leave a link to your own blog post 🙂

We Should All Be Feminists  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyone should read this balanced, insightful, and very sensible short essay on feminism. Please someone make it required reading in schools!

We Should All Be Feminists on GoodReads

Jacaranda (The Clockwork Century #6) by Cherie Priest

One of my favourite authors, her Clockwork Century series is a brilliant steampunk zombie adventure. Each of the books focuses on a different character and has it’s own story arc .

Jacaranda is a shortish book about a cursed hotel, and a nun and a padre that arrive to investigate the rumours.  It takes place 20 years after the main story arc and can easily be read on it’s own.

Jacaranda on GoodReads

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

A short story about a family gathering in their childhood home as their father is dying from cancer. Very difficult subject matter but it’s handled sensitively and is beautifully written. Sarah Pinborough manages to keep the human side of the story the most important thing without being overly sentimental.

The Language of Dying on GoodReads

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones

A ghost story told from the point of view of the ghost! The ghost is one of four sisters but she doesn’t remember which one she is, or how she came to be a ghost.

The characters in this book are brilliantly done, each of the sisters is unique and complex. It’s very well written and the story had me guessing right up to the end.

The Time of the Ghost on GoodReads

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

A beautifully written atmospheric story about an introverted bookworm writing the biography of a famous writer. The story itself is nothing ground breaking but this is all about the way it’s told.

The Thirteenth Tale on GoodReads

Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

I love the film but only recently found out it was originally a book. There are a lot of differences between the book and the film, which I like because it means if you’ve seen the film it won’t ruin the story in the book for you!

Howl’s Moving Castle on GoodReads

MaddAddam Series by Margaret Atwood

A man made plague sweeps the world and wipes out most of humanity. This is by far my favourite of all the series I’ve read this year. Each book has a different main character, and with them Margaret Atwood jumps backwards and forwards on the timeline, slowly filling us in on the story behind the plague.

The world before the plague is a near future version of our time with more advanced tech and genetically engineered species.  The rich live in compounds, walls and guards separating them from the poor ‘pleeblands’.  Atwood creates a scarily familiar, rich and well constructed world, before pulling it all to pieces.

MaddAddam series on GoodReads

Flora Segunda (Flora Trilogy #1) by Ysabeau S. Wilce

A gem of a book filled with magic, odd characters, and a house that has a mind of it’s own. It’s a children’s book but it has far more intelligence than most adult books I’ve read. Should be far more popular than it is.

Flora Segunda on GoodReads

Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

I waited far too long to read this. It’s very, very good, much better than the films.

Hunger Games Series on GoodReads

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

I read this before Christmas and fell in love with Laini Taylor’s writing. A fantasy filled with magic, vengeful Angels, war, and Chimera.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone on GoodReads

Christmas books for people that don’t like Christmas

Christmas Books

I actually do like Christmas, but I don’t like the overly sentimental, desperate to make you feel something rubbish that comes along with it.

The six books here are either set at Christmas, or have a wintery, dark feel to them. All of them offer something a bit different to the normal mass produced Christmas stories.

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow

by Peter Høeg, Tiina Nunnally (Translator)

There’s a lot of snow in this book, and it’s actually set over Christmas, though you wouldn’t know it because the main character Smilla is not interested in Christmas at all. It’s bleak and completely unsentimental, but the story about a six-year-old boy who falls off a roof is gripping.

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow on GoodReads

The Last Wish

by Andrzej Sapkowski

Another one that’s not set at Christmas, because it’s set in another world entirely. A fantasy about a witcher, a man with magic powers who hunts monsters for money. This has been made into a video game and I can see why because it’s faced paced and fun to read. The perfect antidote to Christmas mush, I’ve just bought the next book in the series to read.

The Last Wish on GoodReads

The Sittaford Mystery

by Agatha Christie

There’s nothing better than a good Agatha Christie to read in the winter. This has all the usual elements, an impossible murder, a country house, a truck full of red herrings, and throws in a seance and a winter with a heavy snowfall. Christmas is there too, but blink and you’ll miss it.

The Sittaford Mystery on GoodReads

The Taxidermist’s Daughter

by Kate Mosse

Set in the Autumn and not at Winter, but it has dark stormy weather and an isolated house. The creepy Victorian atmosphere makes this perfect for reading at this time of year.

The Taxidermist’s Daughter on GoodReads

The Snow Child

by Eowyn Ivey

I don’t’ normally recommend books I haven’t read, but the description alone made me want to add this to this list. Jack and Mabel build a child out of snow.

The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness.

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

A story “about the ability of books to feed the soul.” this is on the list because a small part of the book happens over Christmas. It’s set in Germany during World War II and it is narrated by Death. Worth reading just for how unusual that is, but the tale of a young girl who is living with a poor foster family and can’t resist stealing books for herself is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I can’t promise you won’t cry at this one, but it’s not cheap sentiment added just to get a reaction.

The Book Thief on GoodReads