My review of Love Unlimited

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Love Unlimited is an intriguing anthology of short fiction with an uplifting concept at its heart. Although love is the theme, the love featured in these stories isn’t purely romantic. Where it is romantic, it’s rarely the traditional boy-meets-girl love story. There are stories about the love a parent feels for a child, ambiguous love, the rediscovery of love following loss and the way loneliness and a sense of compassion can bring about a different kind of love, amongst many others.

While not all of the stories were to my taste, and there were places where I felt the writing could have been stronger, I found the general message of the collection to be commendable. Featuring stories by eleven different authors, the anthology includes a range of writing styles. What I enjoyed most about this collection was its sheer diversity. The characters featured in the stories span cultures, generations, abilities and sexual orientations. It’s rare to see so many diverse characters in one place and this alone makes the collection worth reading.

A few of the stories which I particularly enjoyed, include:

Summer Healing by Kelly Cain: When budding law school student Hayleigh Malone returns home for the summer holidays in order to visit her ill grandfather in hospital, she’s surprised to find herself falling in love with his nurse, whose political opinions are very different from her own. Cain’s story shows how irrational love can be at times, while also showing how it can be used to bridge people of different opinions and backgrounds.

I liked that the author showed how current political movements in the States affect real people and their relationships. Hayleigh’s interest in, and involvement with, the Black Lives Matter protests was pleasing to see, as movements such as these aren’t included often enough in contemporary fiction.

In Her Space by Geralyn Corcillo: When a sixty-four year old librarian discovers a young man living under her house, she isn’t quite sure what to do. She’s always worked hard to remain unnoticed and has lived alone for most of her life. When she discovers that the man has been going through her trash and eating the fruit from the trees in her yard, she decides to help. Through opening herself up to his presence, she begins to learn to accept her own.

The story skilfully navigates the gulf between our perceptions of ourselves and the truth. Love, empathy and kindness are shown to be powerful tools to connect with others and promote healing.

The Shining Girl by Anne Hamilton: Pale-skinned and blue-eyed Caroline has survived a devastating cyclone in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. On her flight home to London, England, she ponders her options going forward. The experience has made her view her life—and the man she loves—in a new light. But, having lost so much already, will she be able to recover that which is most important to her?

The Shining Girl won first prize in the New Asian Writing (NAW) Short Story Competition 2016, and it’s easy to see why. With beautifully written prose and deftly handled subject matter, the story explores the magic inherent in our lives and relationships. I also enjoyed her vivid descriptions of India.

You can purchase Love Unlimited  from: https://books2read.com/loveunlimited

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36096719-love-unlimited

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Review of The Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology

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Edited by Kerrie McKinnel and Godfrey Newham and published by Kerrie McKinnel on behalf of Lockerbie Writers.’ Foreword by Bryan Armstrong, Editor of Annandale Herald/DnG Media. All illustrations by Lewanna Stewart.

An ambitious and diverse collection of short stories and poems from a talented group of writers based in Annandale and Eskdale (South-West Scotland, for international readers). The group is formed of members Frank MacGregor, Kerrie McKinnel, Steph Newham, Richard Sharp, Kath J. Rennie, Paula Nicolson, Angela Haigh, Chris Openshaw, Godfrey Newham and Pat MacKay. The anthology is divided into six sections:

Life, Love and Loss in South-West Scotland

In ‘It’s Never Too Late!’ by Frank MacGregor, retiree and recent widower, Andy Johnston, rediscovers the joys of friendship by trying something new. Similarly, in ‘Pulling the Wishbone,’ by fellow MLitt-er, Kerrie McKinnel, lifelong neighbours, Betsy and Ada, decide to spend Christmas together. But will it be what each hopes for?

Ghosts and the Supernatural

A local fisherman continues his time-honoured tradition of throwing a coin into the river prior to commencing fishing, in Richard Price’s ‘An Overpaid Fare.’ Surely a few pence is a small price to pay for a good day’s catch, he reasons. Or is it?

Pat Mackay provides a humorous and clever take on the traditional haunted house story in ‘A Ghost Story.’

Historical Connections

Steph Newham vividly describes the final journey of a dying Australian woman in ‘Moss Wall.’

Modern Fairy Tales

‘The Dragon of Annandale’ by Paula Nicolson is imaginative and accomplished in its mythologizing.

Nature

The atmosphere of spring is perfectly captured by award-winning poet, Kath J. Rennie in her poem, ‘The Shepherd and his Flock.’

Mark takes his beloved fiancé, Ali, on a scenic detour when she comes to visit him from afar (they’re in a long distance relationship). But when he parks at the local police station, Ali isn’t quite sure what to expect, in ‘A Sight to Behold’ by Angela Haigh.

Chris Openshaw’s poem, ‘Autumn,’ beautifully evokes the colour of the season and its possibilities of renewal.

On Writing

Steph Newham muses on the trouble her characters give her in ‘The Problem with Characters’ while Richard Sharp reflects on what to write for the next meeting in ‘The Drive Home.’

This collection brought Annandale and Eskdale to life for me, and is no doubt a huge achievement for the group. There is something for everyone here, from the lover of mysteries to those who prefer nature poems. And it’s beautifully illustrated too, by local artist, Lewanna Stewart. I enjoyed discovering the work of these up-and-coming authors, and look forward to reading more of their work in future.

You can buy a copy of the Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale from Amazon for £6.99 for the paperback, or £4.99 for the Kindle version: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lockerbie-Writers-Anthology-Stories-Annandale/dp/1530333245/  Visit their blog: https://lockerbiewritersanthology.wordpress.com/  Like their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lockerbiewritersanthology/  Or, follow them on Twitter: @LockerbieWriter

If you’re lucky enough to live in the area, you might even consider attending their launch event in honour of World Book Night, this coming Thursday the 21st April at Lockerbie Library, where you can relax and chat to group members over a cup of tea, as well as hear short readings of their work. For more information on their upcoming events, visit: https://lockerbiewritersanthology.wordpress.com/upcoming-events-and-meetings/