Top Ten Tuesday – July 17: Favorite Novellas/Short Stories

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

July 17: Favorite Novellas/Short Stories


1) Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

My favorite short stories in this collection are:

“Purity Test”, by Naomi Novik
It was so funny, and the unicorn’s wit and sarcasm matched with the protagonist is perfect. Plus, contrary to the old fashioned/traditional unicorn stories, it shows you don’t have to be a virgin to be able to see and help out a unicorn. And a super plus for the Harry Potter and Star Wars references.

“The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn”, by Diana Peterfreund.
BEST.STORY.IN.THE.BOOK. A total page turner. And when it ended I was like, “Where is the rest of the story!!?? It only just the first chapter! I want more! GIVE ME MORE!”
I just loved Wendy’s internal struggle. Her parents are these religious fanatics (think of the mother in Stephen King’s Carrie meets the magic-hating Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter) who coddle her in the most annoying ways, and she also hears the call of this baby unicorn who she grows to love and protect.

“Bougainvillea”, by Carrie Ryan.
I believe this one is my favorite of the zombie stories. They way she wrote it is chilling; telling us about Iza’s world before The Return (what a scary name for the zombie apocalypse!) and then her life in the present, cut off from the rest of the world and living under her father’s dictatorship.

“Inoculata”, by Scott Westerfeld.
This is my second favorite zombie story. It’s post-zombie-apocalyptic and about immunity and evolving to carry the infection. So you are sort of a zombie, but still alive. It’s mentioned that they become more attractive, which reminded me of vampires actually. Anyway, I really liked the prose and the relationships between the characters. It felt authentic and true. I also liked the way it left off, with them driving off in the night.

“Princess Prettypants”, by Meg Cabot.
My second favorite story in the book. I have never read anything by Meg Cabot, but I know her books are best sellers. You know what I love about this story? Not only is it funny because Cabot has a love of irony with the silly rainbows and such, but there is SWEET, SWEET justice in the end. Everything you ever want to do to bullies and creeps in high school, gets done. Oh YEA!  Breaking the mold once more, Liz, who owns Princess Prettypants, is not a virgin.

To read the full review of this collections of stories go to my Live Journal.

2) Rappacini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Part fairy tale, part Gothic horror story, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is an inspired tale of creation and control. Giovanni Guasconti, a student at the University of Padua, is enchanted to discover a nearby garden of the most exquisite beauty. In it abides a young woman, perhaps the most beautiful Giovanni has ever seen; yet as he looks out from an upstairs window, he soon learns that the garden–and the matchless Beatrice–are not the work of Mother Nature but rather the result of a monstrous abomination of creativity.

Being a short story, 27 pages long, there is not much character or plot development. It’s very straight forward.
However, I love the concept. It is so poetically sad. The prose is beautiful and I highlighted many passages.
It’s a classic and timeless gothic story.

Also, Rappacini’s Daughter is the inspiration for this Fleetwood Mac song, Running Through The Garden on the album Say You Will.

3) Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, this unique anthology features Star Wars stories by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from Star Wars’ literary history. Over 40 authors have lent their unique vision to 40 “scenes,” each retelling a different moment from the original Star Wars film, but with a twist: every scene is told from the point of view of a seemingly minor character. Whether it’s the X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star or the stormtroopers who never did find the droids they were looking for, Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View places the classic movie in a whole new perspective celebrates the influence and legacy of the unparalleled cultural phenomenon, Star Wars.

My favorites:

Title, Author(s),Character(s)

“The Sith of Datawork”, Ken Liu, Arvira
This story was so very, very funny. Arvira, the fleet logistics liaision aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Devastator, gives Bolvan several forms to fill out in order to cover up the gunnery officer’s mistake in letting the escape pod go.
Office work is often boring, but not in this story. It shows the ridiculous side of paperwork and forms, but also how smart and manipulative one can be.

“Stories in the Sand”, Griffin McElroy, Jot
I thought this story from a Jawa’s POV would be boring at first. But I really felt for him and loved his fascinations with stories. I especially loved R2 memories of Anakin and Padmé’s wedding.

“Master and Apprentice”, Claudia Gray, Qui-Gon Jinn
Instant favorite story. I loved it so much. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan talk about their failures with Anakin but it was ultimately Anakin’s decision. He had the training and wisdom to choose a better path. Qui-Gon also admires Obi-Wan’s strength and patience all those years.

“Beru Whitesun Lars”, Meg Cabot, Beru Whitesun Lars
It is so sweet and sad, and bit funny. Beru is telling her story from the afterlife. She had dreams before Luke came. But she gave them up for him. She has a few jabs at Anakin but also sees how Luke has the best parts of his parents. And she also did achieve her dream but in a different way than her teacher suggested.

“Not for Nothing”, Mur Lafferty, Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes
I love how this is like an excerpt from her memoir. Yea, Tatooine would not be good for a Bith. The events wove together very seamlessly in this story and it was my favorite cantina story.

“Born in the Storm”, Daniel José Older, Sardis Ramsin
This story is hysterical! What makes it even funnier is the narration. You have to hear the audiobook version to hear Raisin’s attitude. He’s filing a report and he complains from everything to his fellow troopers, his uncomfortable gear, the sand, the heat, etc. All he wants is to do is get a stiff drink and to ride a dewback. What is also so funny, is the encounter when Obi-Wan mind tricks them.

“An Incident Report”, Mallory Ortberg, Conan Antonio Motti
Motti’s HR report about Darth Vader choking him and how religious beliefs are not welcome in the work environment. Motti finds Vader’s lack of faith in the Death Star disturbing!

“Eclipse”, Madeleine Roux, Breha Organa
It was so sad but we also get a glimpse into the life of a Queen and her worry for Bail and Leia. This one is a really beautiful and sad tale.

“End of Watch”, Adam Christopher, Pamel Poul
The funny POV of the officers on the other side of Han’s “boring conversation anyway.”

“Duty Roster”, Jason Fry, Col Takbright
He’s “Fake Wedge” and he didn’t get to fly. There is great character development in this story. I like that it showed the rivalry and competition between some pilots. And it is really suspenseful even though we know the outcome.

“The Angle”, Charles Soule, Lando Calrissian
The voice for Lando was SPOT ON. It was great to see his POV when he sees the Falcon on the rebel’s dark net footage of the Death Star attack. Classic! All of this story was classic Lando, and Lobot is with him!

“Whills”, Tom Angleberger
This was a great way to end the anthology. Two unnamed and unknown characters are writing the journal of the Whills. They banter the whole time about the opening crawl and which stories to tell, the wording. One character argues that it should say “A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away.”
Listening to this story was laugh out loud funny.

4) The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes, and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood…life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself, and above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they only know as her. As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?


I read this so long ago, back in 2010. Here is a copy of the review I wrote back then:

At first I was so not interested in reading about Bree. I still would like to see novellas or even a series on more interesting characters (like a prequel about Carlisle’s life). But I bought the book anyway. A $1 gets donated to the American Red Cross and I love the cover.

So yea, not my first choice of a character to read their POV but I really enjoyed the book. And I liked that it is 178 pages and can be read in a day.

I liked that Bree was smart and tried to figure out what the heck was going on, cause it didn’t all add up.

I also liked learning more about the vampire mythology, like how they reattach limbs. Also, the constant burn and craving for blood.

I knew the Volturi was in on it. Or well, let it go on for their own ends.

I loved Freaky Fred. He was a smart one and had a very useful ability. I wish he had more of a role.
My sister and I imagine that as a human he was a good looking guy with a flatulence problem. How else can you explain his ability?
Now, if there is ever a sequel with the Cullens involved they need to cross paths with Fred. Glad he was smart enough to leave before the battle.

The end right before Bree dies is the best part. Be interesting to read that side by side with Bella’s POV in Eclipse.

3 out of 5 hourglasses

5 & 6) The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe.

There are many great stories by Poe, but these two are my favorites. The Cask of Amontillado is a great revenge story. Also, the act of enclosing an enemy in a brick wall is something that has influenced other stories that came after it; such as the 1960s Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.
With The Tell-Tale Heart I like the idea of guilt driving a crazy man down the road of deeper insanity.


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