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I m mostly into novels and short stories are not my first choice to read but when it comes to evil genius thriller writers, like MY ALL TIME KING that I take a bow and THE PRINCE HILL create something new, I jump up and down to perform my happy dance, grabbing the book, turning off my phone, gathering my munchies and soft drinks, locking myself into my bedroom and starting to flip the pages nonstop Don t get me wrong After saying some many highly things and expressing my dedication to those writers, I still gave FOUR SHINY, THRILLING, SHORTY STARS but this is average point for the stories I ve read But if it s only for LATE RETURNS story, I ll give ten gazillion stars I honestly say this is one of the best stories I ve read in my whole life It s about grief, time paradox, unfinished business of the people trapped in limbo and it s about books It s about real good books and their importance for the people who need their own closures I love books and I know how to deal with compelling grief so this is my dream mash up story My other favorite stories which deserve than five stars with their fantastic plots, great characterizations and mouth widening parts All I Care about is you , taken place at the 22th century, Iris who celebrates her 16th birthday with Clockwork boy named Chip she d rented for an hour But things are getting nastier, twisty eventually Murdergame is a masterful invention and story s sucker punching memorable ending is a blast In the Tall Grass Father son collaboration to write this eerie, nerve bending, ominous story that already has sold to Netflix as a movie Something is hiding in Kansas grass Aliens Monsters Cannibals I highly suggest you not to stop your car as you hear a child s scream for help and please do not dare to walk into the grass if you ever want to find your way out You are released You re cruising at 37.000 feet as the Third World War begins What With memorable characters and their fears, their perceptions, their urge to find against the common enemy even they have racial, national, political differences This is the final story and I couldn t choose a better one to end our whole journey Still good ones Twittering from the circus of the dead Your family from hell real and hot one held you captive in a road trip and you write tweets about them Interesting concept Dark Carousel This story reminded me of Body It adapted as Stand By Me , I still remember little River Phoenix s memorable performance with eyes filled in tears and It , a group of boys adventurous spirit to discover the enchanted I think cursed is the better definition carousel at the Cape Maggie Pier We get vibes of Goonies and Stranger Things In my opinion they re all same story s different versions, tomato, tomahto Not enjoyed so much and made me give lower stars Throttle King and prince collaboration but this one didn t work for me I hope they don t expel me from kingdom or send me to the dungeon for writing these words Hail for my king and prince Wolverton Station I m not into wolves stories, thanks By the Silver Water of Lake Chamberlain another version of Body but this one is not my favorite Faun Hunting game for fantastical creatures Pass Thumbprint Scary stalker stories normally work fine with me but this is too disturbing and I couldn t connect with the characters Devil on the staircase Sorry but I prefer Zeppelin s Stairs to Heaven or Ac Dc s Highway to hell Mums Resurrection of a mom with seeds by turning into mummy It s too nerve binding, disturbing one Ending part is also not quite satisfying.As a summary I enjoyed my full throttle thrilling crazy ride And I really loved the intimate prologue of the author who told us about his relationship with his father, meeting with George A Romero, struggling years of his writing experience till he found his way what he really wanted to write about were fantastic beginning of our journey They re natural, honest, emotional, genuine words which warmed my heart I love my KING, my PRINCE And I loved this book so much Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins Publishers William Marrow for giving me early Christmas present and lighting my day by sharing this amazing ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review. [[ Free Book ]] ☛ Full Throttle ⇤ In this masterful collection of short fiction, Joe Hill dissects timeless human struggles in thirteen relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including In The Tall Grass, one of two stories co written with Stephen King, basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.A little door that opens to a world of fairy tale wonders becomes the blood drenched stomping ground for a gang of hunters in Faun A grief stricken librarian climbs behind the wheel of an antique Bookmobile to deliver fresh reads to the dead in Late Returns In By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain, two young friends stumble on the corpse of a plesiosaur at the water s edge, a discovery that forces them to confront the inescapable truth of their own mortalityand other horrors that lurk in the water s shivery depths And tension shimmers in the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert as a faceless trucker finds himself caught in a sinister dance with a tribe of motorcycle outlaws in Throttle, co written with Stephen King.Featuring two previously unpublished stories, and a brace of shocking chillers, Full Throttle is a darkly imagined odyssey through the complexities of the human psyche Hypnotic and disquieting, it mines our tormented secrets, hidden vulnerabilities, and basest fears, and demonstrates this exceptional talent at his very best. I m not the biggest fan of short stories but I am a fan of Joe Hill and he was able to draw me in with this collection of short stories I had previously read the two short stories in this collection which he co wrote with his father Full Throttle and In the Tall Grass There are quite a few short stories in this book with my favorites being Late Returns and Dark Carousal and my least favorite being Faun But in all honesty, I have to admit my very and I mean very favorite part of this book was the Introduction by Hill titled Who s your Daddy where he talked about his parents, his father reading to him every night and their combined experiences on the set of Creepshow Be sure to read this part as well Be sure to read the end of the book as well There Hill talks about his inspiration for each short story and tells how this collection was written over the course of ten years He also has another tiny little short story at the very end titled A little sorrow If you missed it, you haven t read far enough.All in all, a very enjoyable, creepy, entertaining, and thrilling ride.Thank you to Harper Collins Publishers William Morrow and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review All the thoughts and opinions are my own. I m writing up a review for Scream Mag My last of the 4 reviews for the October issue I m so disappointed in this collection If it wasn t for IN THE TALL GRASS, THROTTLE and like 2 others, this would have been a DNF or maybe like a 1 or 2 star for me Details later. A real mixed bag An average of 3.2 for these stories In the Tall Grass was definitely the stand out Full review to come. The masterful Joe Hill returns with FULL THROTTLE, a collection of thirteen short stories The thirteen tales range from dark fantasy to horror to sci fi, but they all share the same relentless drive and sense of momentum that Hill has become known for The book opens with a lengthy introduction, which reads like a chat with really interesting friend Hill relates several anecdotes about his career, childhood, and growing up as Stephen King s son, including one story that he means to be funny, but is actually quite alarming The story involves King driving his young son around while drinking beer and throwing the cans out the window Hill also include story notes at the end of the book, which range in length from one sentence to a few pages apiece The stories themselves vary in quality, with the worst of the bunch opening the collection THROTTLE is a collaboration between Hill and Stephen King One of two in the book , and is the weakest story in the collection Originally published in a Richard Matheson tribute anthology, THROTTLE is a tribute to Matheson s DUEL, with a vengeful trucker stalking a motorcycle club along a desolate stretch of desert highway The characters are all despicable and interchangeable, and if you ve seen read DUEL, there s nothing new to see here.DARK CAROUSEL and LATE RETURNS are Hill channeling his famous father, which he does perfectly Both are pure Stephen King DARK CAROUSEL tells a pitch black tale of supernatural vengeance that could have been penned by King early in his career, while LATE RETURNS is a gentle remembrance of the ghosts of the past, which is reminiscent of King s recent output THE DEVIL ON THE STAIRCASE and TWITTERING FROM THE CIRCUS OF THE DEAD both play with form as they tell their tales DEVIL is formatted in such a way that the sentences and paragraphs resemble ascending and descending staircases, while TWITTERING is told entirely in a teenaged girl s tweets, as she slowly realizes the the out of the way circus that her family stumbled upon may have going on than meets the eye FAUN and BY THE SILVER WATERS OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN both have their literary roots in other authors BY THE SLIVER WATERS was originally published in a Ray Bradbury tribute anthology, and is a beautiful tribute to the legendary author Hill tells a wonderfully understated story about two children who stumble upon the corpse of a lake monster, and debate what to do with it Bradbury would have been proud FAUN is a spin on C.S Lewis NARNIA books, and features a millionaire who leads rich hunters into an enchanted wonderland to hunt mythical beasts FAUN is the most frustrating story in the book While almost every story is outstanding, this is the one that I most wanted to continue..If Mr Hill were to expand this into a novel, or sequelize it, I would not object in the least THIUMBPRINT and MUMS both have a militaristic bent to them THUMBPRINT follows a disgraced vet who comes home from the desert to find herself stalked by a mysterious person sho is leaving papers with thumbprints on them in and around her home, and MUMS follows a young boy whose father is planning an act of domestic terrorism WOLVERTON STATION is a whimsically dark story that evokes echoes of English folk horror, while ALL I CARE ABOUT IS YOU ventures into futuristic sci fi, as a young girl, depressed about how her family s recent financial downturns will effect her birthday, finds solace in the company of a robotic friend for hire The book includes a second Hill King collaboration, IN THE TALL GRASS, another story that has the King family DNA written all over it If the story is a little too derivative of Scott Smith s THE RUINS, well..at least it is a well told, riveting derivation Another story that ended with me wanting Hill closes out the collection with YOU ARE RELEASED, which really hit me hard The story follows a plane full of people who discover that World War III may have broken out while the were airborne He doesn t take up a lot of space with this tale, but he manages to create a plane full of real people, and avoids the easy stereotypes Closing the book with this story really gave me a lot to think about This book also includes the literary equivalent of a motion picture after credits scene, so stay tuned Hill writes a great novel, but his short stories are where he really excels In his introduction, Hill surmises that he probably has another few dozen short stories in him before he calls it a day..I hope it turns out to be a lot than that HarperCollins provided a review copy. Thanks to Edelweiss for the eArc I love Joe Hill and first fell for him because of his short story collection 20th Century Ghost Like his father, Hill writes a damn good short story I have read a few of these before, but I liked them even better upon rereading The newer to me tales, especially You Are Released, were wonderful discoveries.But I also love what Hill says in his forward and Author s Note he is as fascinating as his characters although he probably wouldn t agree and I loved the peeks into the origins of the stories he s written. My review of FULL THROTTLE can be found at High Fever Books.First, a word of warning Readers going into Full Throttle expecting a collection of balls to the wall horror stories in the vein of Joe Hill s sublime NOS4A2 may be disappointed, and perhaps even bored While Full Throttle does have a couple good scares among its thirteen stories, it is, for the most part, surprisingly gentle Rather than packing in an assortment of blood and guts goodies strong enough to make papa King proud, the majority of the pieces here are softer, quieter explorations of characters and moods, with several of the stories having been written as odes to Ray Bradbury for various anthologies, with dashes of C.S Lewis, and a couple of experimental shorts Those looking for some vicious thrills, though, will likely be pleased with a couple of Hill s stories, including two collaborations with his father, Stephen King, but those seem to be the exception rather than the rule here.In his introduction, Hill writes about his various influences, including those of his highly regarded author parents, Tabitha and Stephen King While Hill writes that Dark Carousel is probably the most shamelessly Stephen King thing I ve ever put down on paper, one can still feel the influence of his father throughout the book, particularly in other stories like Late Returns, a decidedly non horrific ghost story that is positively rich in characters, concept, and, most of all, heart I couldn t help but wonder just how much of Hill s creativity is genetic, how much of it is pure nature rather than nurture Obviously, having Tabitha and Stephen as parents, there s plenty of their shared DNA baked right into Joe, and being raised and read stories by them, it s certainly a given that their fingerprints would ease into Hill s writing Maybe it s equal measures of genes and influences, perhaps it s one than the other, but whichever you shake it Hill is clearly the sum of all these various parts You can feel the various influences he discusses in his stories, like spending time on the set of, and acting in, Creepshow and watching laserdisc movies with dad and playing out fantasy sequences on the road, like Spielberg s Duel When he was invited to contribute to an anthology paying respects to the works of Richard Matheson, it s only natural that Hill would return to those fond childhood memories and tackle a recreation of Duel, co writing with his father, for the story Throttle As in Matheson s original, an oil tanker truck is the central antagonist, but this time it s gunning for a biker gang, and the bloodlust is high here Throttle is a pretty straight forward story, and a clear ode to its source material, thriller than horror, with dashes of revenge and a nifty father son dynamic Those who want their horror bloody will be pleased with Dark Carousel, this collection s second entry Originally produced as a vinyl record audiobook, I was delighted to see this make it into print I d heard good things about the original recording, but since I don t have a record player, I had to pass on the audio version This printed edition, though, is one of the easy highlights of Full Throttle for me, and as Hill states, it s definitely his most Stephen King like story This sucker is most definitely the product of King s child This one has an excellent throwback horror feel to it, and strikes a mood reminiscent of a great slasher flick, only without the slasher don t worry, you ll find out A night out at the local carnival at the pier for a group of teens goes completely sideways after they lose some money, and the result, for us, is one damn good horror story Wolverton Station is a horror by way of metaphor, a dog eat dog sort of narrative in which a rich American aboard a London train finds himself in some unexpected company It took a bit for this one to click with me, but I ended up enjoying it, particularly the ending By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain is an ode to Ray Bradbury s The Foghorn, and involves a group of children finding a dead lake monster This one s being adapted for Shudder s just released Creepshow series, and I m curious to see what they do with it Frankly, it s not the story I would have picked for a Creepshow adaptation that honor would have gone to Dark Carousel, one hundred percent , but I m open to being proven wrong here This one s got a particular bit of whimsy to it, guided largely by the overactive imagination of children And hot damn, Hill absolutely positively knows how to write children, and it makes for a fun story, which makes the small doses of tragedy woven throughout all the impactful Also inspired by Bradbury, particularly his time travel story The Sound of Thunder, is Faun, which sees a group of hunters passing through a small doorway and into a land of fantasy, where they can hunt and murder fairy tale creatures This one s definitely a morality play, and I can t particularly say I disagree with the message, even if I would have liked action and some lingering on the much justified violence that inevitably plays out This isn t a bad story overall, but it s also not really a very exciting one either I kept waiting and hoping for these big game hunters to get their just desserts, but by the time that happens its execution is practically a blink and you ll miss it event Late Returns Holy hell, you guys This story right here is worth the price of admission alone While there are most certainly a couple other stories I would include in this category, this one in particular is absolutely marvelous And there s nary a single bit of horror about it This is a magnificently gentle story about books and ghosts and the needs of a reader to find one last good story before they die Goddamn, I loved this one Although Hill says Dark Carousel is his most King like story, I actually think this one helps show just how truly Joe is his father s son and just how much of that writerly DNA lives on in Hill This story taps into the tragedies and sweetness of life, and it s a really precious, and moving, story Easily one of my favorites here, this is a story about book lovers for book lovers Dig it All I Care About Is You is another piece that shows off Hill s knack for characterization, and it s a light sci fi story no less, about a teenage girl and the rent a friend robot she buys for an hour It s a decent enough story with a powerful ending, but it didn t grab me the way Late Returns did Thumbprint, however, was a great little thriller Mal is former military, and her time in Iraq saw her torture a number of captives, including those at Abu Ghraib Now discharged and back at home, somebody is following her and leaving blank envelopes with a sheet of paper inside, each containing only a single thumbprint Mal s a pretty awful human, but the story is damn good The Devil on the Staircase is the first of two experimental stories that sees Hill playing with the formatting for his delivery Inspired by the steep staircases of the Amalfi coast, this one involves a jealous man s oh so brief descent into hell Visually, it s typeset so that each paragraph resembles the ascent and descent of a staircase It s a neat gimmick, but ultimately one that this did nothing to improve the story for me Better is Twittering from the Circus of the Dead, which unravels like a prolonged Twitter thread While I found it to be interesting than Staircase in terms of story, it runs on a few tweets too long for me and the payoff regarding the circus was a bit too lazy and cliche for me I pretty well enjoyed Mums, a story of a boy trapped with his militia nutjob daddy after his mother dies There s a neat supernatural element here that pairs well with the following story, In the Tall Grass Hill plays around with the old is it real or just in the kids head trope, but it works pretty well with whichever way you go, and it delivers a few neat scenes and concepts over the course of its page count In the Tall Grass is just absolutely brutal Readers looking for some hardcore horror, this is the one for you, man A couple hear the cries of a boy asking for help and, thinking he s lost in the tall grass, step into the field What s so scary about grass, you might wonder Well, in this particular field, lots Things get incredibly fucked up fast King co wrote this one, and it s got some real jagged teeth on it, and both writers let themselves completely off the chain for this outing It s positively savage and dark as pitch You Are Released closes out Full Throttle, and follows a group of travelers aboard a flight to Balti when a war breaks out and missiles start flying Hill, again, shows off his knack for characterization and brings in some great shades of humanity amongst the various POV characters, as well dashes of conflict and reconciliation Like several others stories here, it s packed with plenty of social commentary, particularly as the world s worst, and easily imaginable, fears regarding the Trump presidency play out on the land and air outside this story s Boeing 777 It s a neat little bottle episode in its own right, a timely bit of thriller paranoia coupled with possibly too real life horrors, and a solid end to this collection.As somebody who was a bit disappointed in Hill s last release, Strange Weather, a collection of four novellas, I m happy to report that I was largely satisfied by Full Throttle While some of these stories feel a bit bloated, Faun especially, and The Devil on the Staircase feels a hell of a lot longer than it actually is, I enjoyed most of these thirteen stories Others, like Late Returns, In the Tall Grass, Dark Carousel, Mums, You Are Released, and Thumbprint, highlight Hill at his best for me These stories just groove along nicely, and I think Late Returns will be sticking with me for a good long while Note this review is based on an advance copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. And you re not an envoy from the lord You re not an angel Nope Just a librarian.Ah, well That s close enough for me Full Throttle is like a shot of adrenaline These short stories were some of the best that I have ever read With short story anthologies, you seem to get some you like and some you hate But I enjoyed every single one of these They were weird and definitely on the spooky side You ll want to add this anthology to your collection, you won t be disappointed At the beginning, we get a tiny glimpse at the life of Joe Hill and his Dad It was like getting a look at behind the madness Things we knew and most things that we never knew It really made me want to watch Creepshow again Late Returns spoke to me the most because I also delivery books to patrons who can t make it to the Library It made me hope that someday I run into something like in that story and I live to help people find the perfect book But In The Tall Grass will be something that haunts me for the rest of my life. Thank you to HarperCollins William Morrow for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review Full Throttle is the new and upcoming short story collection by Joe Hill, to be released on October 1st, and one of my most anticipated releases of the year.I ve read everything Joe Hill has published thus far, and I consider him one of my favorite authors but I won t deny that I first came to his work because of who his father is How fitting, then, that this new collection starts with an introduction titled Who s your daddy , truly one of the finest ones I ve ever had the pleasure to read, in which he touchingly pays tribute to the influences that have formed him both as a person and as a writer They go beyond King Senior, but of course he s a big one yet instead of fearing or resenting that he might never grow out of his father s huge shadow, he sees it as a blessing in his life, and describes a most wonderful and loving relationship with both of his parents, something that made me ache somewhere inside, because I never had that.Short stories are a format Hill excels at, and all of these even the ones that weren t entirely my cup of tea were memorable, which is impressive in and of itself It s very rare that I can look back at the table of contents after finishing a short story collection I read over a period of a month and still recall what each story was about Full Throttle collects thirteen stories two are collaborations with daddy King the second of which, In the Tall Grass, I found so disturbing, it robbed me of a night of sleep , and two are previously unpublished the first of which, Late Returns, is hands down the finest story included.I m very happy to report that I enjoyed this collection very much I suppose now it s as good a time as any to come clean I didn t particularly like Joe s latest two releases The Fireman was okay, but much too blatant a tribute to King s The Stand to be truly enjoyable, and Strange Weather didn t live up to my high expectations after 20th Century Ghosts, either I have one qualm with his fiction in recent years, and some of the stories in this collection suffer from it, which is why I m going to mention it I m increasingly finding that Hill is rather unrefined about the way he infuses his fiction with his political views He tends to do it in a way that doesn t really add value to the story, but just needlessly dates it his dad has been guilty of this lately, as well There were instances in this collection where, if he d kept political as well as pop culture references out, the story had the potential to become a timeless classic Can t we just agree that it s not worth souring a perfectly lovely story by mentioning the Kardashians or to take a cheap dig at Trump I say this as someone who wholeheartedly shares his morals and political opinions, I just wish he were subtle about it.But that s the only detractor Joe s characters come to glorious, fully rounded life in just a few sentences, and so do his alternate realities, it s a masterful gift his dad is good at it too, but not in so few pages Joe doesn t waste words, and all of these are all killer, no filler, most having supernatural and or horror elements, usually of the graphic violence variety Each story packs an emotional punch, and he has a knack for getting the pacing just right he takes the reader on a ride at full throttle, but after going for a short spin he sets you back down, perhaps a little shaken, but feeling exhilarated and satisfied Throttle with Stephen King Originally published in an anthology in honor of Richard Matheson, and directly inspired by Matheson s Duel which I haven t read , this story follows a Sons of Anarchy type of biker gang trying to figure out how to get their sunken money back from a meth deal gone wrong The motorcycle tribe, which includes a father and son, mirroring the writing team, find themselves being chased down by a faceless trucker on a forlorn, dusty road in the middle of the Nevada desert, and what ensues can only be described as carnage It reminded me of 80 s B movies and of King Senior s early splatter stories such as, for obvious reasons, Trucks, but I could spot Joe s influences as well their voices mesh together well It makes for an enjoyable, tension building and action packed half an hour of visceral, gory entertainment, but where it really shines is the brutally honest and realistic backstory that manages to be built along side the deadly chase It does a lot of things right, but as a whole, it s just not the sort of adrenaline and testosterone laden story I enjoy, and I would ve hoped for something different to come out from this first time collaboration Dark Carousel This is the first time this story is making an appearance in print, as it had previously only been released as a vinyl audio edition a trend I could personally really do without On a summer night in the mid 90 s, four teenagers out at the pier and boardwalk take a ride on a creepy antique carousel, and their night of fun starts going horribly wrong from there as their misguided decisions have terrifying repercussions I enjoyed the mention of Charlie Manx of NOS4A2 fame, probably my favorite Hill novel, and thought the story was a nice little nod at Bradbury s Something Wicked This Way Comes when October Country was casually mentioned I was in fact quite sure of it As such, it s perhaps a bit derivative and predictable, but it kept me engaged from the very first page, and I especially really liked the characterization creating not just one, but four well rounded and likeable characters in a short story is a talent Hill clearly has, not to mention his penchant for taking stories just that tiny bit further to show that even a cursed and haunted life goes on Pulpy good fun Wolverton Station This one may seem pretty silly, but I think that there s to it than would appear on the surface, even if the execution was a bit messy A ruthless American businessman is traveling through England on a train he s come overseas to do what he does best Put the little, independent people out of business and make way for corporate expansion with dirty tactics he s the big bad wolf in a dog eat dog world, pardon the bad double pun At a train stop a Wolverhampton, passengers of a different and blood thirsty kind get on I m still not quite sure what to make of this odd, surreal story Is it a parable A satire Is he hallucinating the wolves haunting him, are they a sign of his conscience catching up with him Or are they truly manifesting as a punishment for his ways In any case, it s a very on the nose denouncement of American capitalism with gruesome, dark humor By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain Mommy has a killer hangover, and sends her loud and bickering girls out of the house to have some peace and quiet It s a cold and misty end of summer day that will mark Gail s end of childhood, and she decides to head down to the lake, where she meets up with a friend until they realize that the boulder they d been playing on isn t actually a rock Their discovery lets them spin out the possibilities their future holds, but also makes them confront mortality but is it really happening, or are they just playing pretend We are shown from the very first sentence that Gail has a lively imagination and gets invested in her made up stories and yet assuming it s all make believe leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and this blurry line between reality and fantasy is what makes the story work A rather unusual one from Hill it reads like something that could ve been written by Bradbury or Gaiman Faun This offering was recently picked up by Netflix in a three studio bidding war to be developed as a movie, and I can see why Inspired in part by Bradbury s A Sound of Thunder which is even openly referenced and the myriad of fantastical tales that start with nice children finding passageways to fairy tale worlds populated by fairy tale creatures, this story explores the idea of what would happen if someone not quite so nice discovered a little door to a mythical world instead, and tried to turn a profit by offering rich trophy hunters a unique opportunity This was a really engaging story that turned a pretty tired trope on its head, and I had no idea where it was heading while I was in the middle of it then the sudden turn it took really threw me off track I slept on it and am still not too sure about that ending, I almost feel as if Hill was scrambling to find a resolution, so it didn t feel entirely organic to me it s really quite possible that confusing the reader for a couple of pages was the intended effect though Once I found my bearings again I found that I was still enjoying it very much though short stories are usually pretty straight forward, so I m delighted when they manage to surprise me, which this one definitely did Late Returns I had tears streaming down my face through the entire latter half of this new, previously unpublished tale about a grief stricken truck driver turned part time librarian who drives an antique Bookmobile that sometimes travels back in time to deliver anachronistic reads to long dead people This story made me infinitely sad as it drove home that I ll never get around to read all the books I d like to in my lifetime a thought I ve often had , and also that I ll miss out on so much that will be published after I m gone this was a new consideration to be bummed out about , even though that s not at all what this story drives at it s much about the comfort we find in books, and the memories and significance that they can hold, and that s what moved me to tears Since it deals with time travel there s obviously details that date it, and my only complaint is that I wish he d done a better job at keeping it vague particularly the little political references at the end will not let this story age well, and it was really nothing but a gratuitous dig that felt jarring, given the bittersweet beauty of this tale All I Care About Is You This was very sci fi, which is not something I m used to in Joe s writing, and I m not sure if it s really up his alley An awfully entitled and ungrateful brat of a girl, who isn t having the sixteenth birthday she thinks she deserves, activates a Clockwork, a timed friend who will do everything for her for the next hour They end up clandestinely doing just what she d envisioned and wished for on her special day, an experience which appears to be changing her perspective on what s important I ll say this, he built up this world out of nothing and in so few paragraphs that I felt like my head was spinning, but that ending made me want to throw the book at the wall I think in a good way I recently read Ted Chiang s new collection, and this offering was basically the anti thesis to those stories, and somehow managed to encompass everything that s despicable about humanity in a story so short, it only took ten minutes to read If there s a deeper moral or message, it was lost on me, but if he was trying to go for something that will make the reader feel a sort of hopeless, hard to pinpoint despair about the state of humanity or teenagers , then he succeeded Thumbprint I don t like war fiction I dislike war movies I fell asleep out of desperation both times I tried watching Apocalypse Now , and I ve read only very few novels about the subject, all considered classics and anti war in nature All Quiet on the Western Front, Slaughterhouse Five so I was definitely the wrong audience for this short story and yet It goes deep into the depravity that goes on in war zones there s some scenes that were horrifying to read, not because they were particularly graphic in violence, but because they showcased humans inexhaustible capacity for cruelty In a very short story that follows an unlikeable female Iraqi war vet adjusting to civilian life when she starts getting strange, threatening messages via mail, Hill manages to call out the treatment of Iraqis by US military forces in no uncertain or subtle terms, and goes into what one must already carry within oneself to willingly do certain things during a deployment, but also what being exposed to horrific things does to a person This story and its main character are uncomfortable because they are believable Real life is way stranger and disturbing than this particular fiction just read up on the Abu Ghraib scandal which was the inspiration for this story, and where the main character was stationed if you have any doubts The Devil on the Staircase Set in the late 19th century in Positano, one of the famous picturesque Italian towns on the Amalfi Coast built up steep hills and awash with winding stone steps, it tells the story of a boy who makes his living lugging a rich foreign merchant s wine up and down the pathways cut into the cliffs He lusts after his cousin, and when he commits a horrible crime under cover of night, he stumbles down unknown dark steps They wind down the mountain much further than they rightly should, and when his legs give out, he meets a devil in the form of a child, who gives him a gift Despite its dark and ominous subject, it was a delight to read because it s incredibly well done the language was simply gorgeous that of a myth or folktale,witha lovely flowand pretty cadenceemphasized by the typography,mimicking steps instead of paragraphssuggesting the falling slopes he takes every day Twittering from the Circus of the Dead Two stylistically interesting short stories back to back, but I rolled my eyes when I started this one it s presented as a very typical teenage girl s ranting twitter feed, including time stamps and mobile client used, but boy, did it reel me in by the end The girl s on a family vacation, she s hated every minute of, and has gotten into multiple fights with her mom, who thinks that she spends entirely too much time online, so she keeps tweeting every minute to piss her off even in that petty way teenagers have The hellish vacation s finally over, and there s only a ridiculously long cross country drive left to get through but the dad takes a wrong turn somewhere, and since they ve now tacked on a hundred mile detour somewhere through the Arizona or Utah desert, it is decided that they pull over for a roadside circus show and our teenage girl will soon find out what it is to have a truly hellish time The format choice ended up being surprisingly effective, but the story is quite a few years old, and it shows in little details that already date it, like the fact that tweets are still limited to 140 characters and who calls it twittering these days Mums The second of the two previously unpublished stories included in this collection tells the story of a thirteen year old boy with a maternal family history of mental illness who lives on a farm with his radical, separatist father after his mom failed at taking him away from him and wound up dead, supposedly by slipping and banging her head in the shower after falling off the wagon again She s illegally buried on the property, and the kid plants some mum flower seeds he s gotten from the roadside stall of an old lady on her grave but what s really growing I liked the ambiguity of this story how the reader isn t really given any clue as to whether there truly was some magical, supernatural revenge going on, or if the kid was hallucinating it all and became unhinged after the sudden loss of his mother I also thought that the way the domestic abuse dynamic was depicted in the early pages was very well done, but this one s by far the least memorable story in the collection In the Tall Grass with Stephen King I was raised on horror I ve read countless stories and seen countless movies, but there s only two disturbing enough to have gotten into my head and really fucked me up One was Stephen King s short story The Jaunt, the other the movie Event Horizon Well, add this second father son collaboration to that list A brother and his pregnant sister are traveling cross country, and pull over next to a field when they hear a little boy crying for help Thinking that he wandered into the field while playing and got lost in the grass that s well over six feet tall, they rush in to help him find his way out but within minutes, they ve gotten separated and disoriented themselves The first half of this story made me feel anxious, claustrophobic, and increasingly terrified it really tapped into some primal fear of the mysterious unknown, I guess The second half then takes a turn for the very gory I can stomach a lot, but some descriptions made me feel physically sick When my boyfriend came into the room and started saying something, I was so absorbed, I got such a fright that I scrambled to the other side of the bed screaming and I regretted reading this one before bed, because I really didn t sleep well I feel positively ridiculous now in the safety of daylight but every shifting shadow made my heart pound and I wrapped myself in the sheets despite the heat so nothing could get me I felt like a scared kid who watched a movie it should not have and paid the price in the night I really can t say what it was about this story that affected me as it did, but this is what good horror should do, and it will stay with me for a long, long time The explanation and ending were a bit lackluster, but the rest of the story was so strong that I m prepared to overlook it it takes a hell of a lot to scare me out of my wits, and this story managed it better than anything has in years Netflix is adapting it into a movie which should be out around the time this collection is published, but I honestly don t think the feeling of sheer helpless dread this story evoked in me could be replicated on a screen You Are Released It s a testament to Joe s talent as a writer than he managed to squeeze nine POVs into such a short story, and make all the characters recognizable and well rounded Imagine being aloft sorry, I had to Strange Weather has a story with this title, and he uses the word twice in this one, it really stuck out I guess he likes it in an airplane when World War III breaks out Sounds like a bummer of a story, right And yet he somehow manages to turn a tale about a bunch of strangers approaching nuclear Armageddon together into something almost uplifting, focusing on the bright side of humanity rather than the darkness that got us to the point where the missiles were sent flying A Little Sorrow I shouldn t list this one it s like half a page, and basically a bonus Easter Egg tucked on at the end, included in the About the Author section I can t say anything about it without giving all of it away, it s that short, but I really, really liked it, so it deserves the mention It felt like an extra gift, the cherry on top it conveys a lot about the human condition in very few, poignant sentences All my book reviews can be found here Buy on BookDepository