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Armchair BEA – Day 3, Novellas/Short Stories

Armchair BEA 2014

 

Novellas/Short Stories:

SO. I’ve actually seen a lot of discussion about novellas and short stories recently, and there seems to be a hung jury on the subject. Personally . . . I love ’em.

Sometimes . . .

I don’t like to read short stories for the sake of reading short stories, but as an addition to a beloved series? I will read that sucker every, single time. There are also a handful of authors that anything they write, I will read—standalone short stories, novellas, serials, POVs, imaginary twitter conversations, ANYTHING.

But mostly when I read a novella/short story, it’s of the in-between-books variety, and I go into it with certain expectations:

  1. It’s relevant.
  2. It’s new information, not just a rehash of things I already know.
  3. It’s written thoughtfully, not just squeezed out in an attempt to make more money.

I’m rarely disappointed on this front, but when I am . . . Every reader has a relationship with the authors they read. Even if they never meet them. And relationships are built on trust. If an author betrays my trust too many times, just like in any other relationship, I lose respect for them, and who wants to read the books of a person you don’t respect? Not me.

As much as I love getting BONUS stories (b/c that’s really what novellas/short stories are), I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies. This isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be, b/c more and more frequently, novellas/short stories are being sold individually. AND as they become more popular, and series have several  bonus stories, they are getting bundled together and printed as whole books.<——I LOVE this.

Anthologies on the other hand . . . as I previously mentioned, there are certain authors that I have to read whatever they write, no matter what. When one of them writes a novella or short story, and the only way to read it is to buy the over-priced anthology it’s a part of . . . I get annoyed. I get annoyed, b/c I have to spend MORE money (than an entire book by the author usually costs) on a book that I only want to read a very small part of. Sometimes I get lucky, and a single anthology will include multiple MUST-read authors. When that happens, I don’t mind as much. But that is a rare occurrence, so mostly I hate anthologies.

A couple anthologies I don’t hate are:

An Apple for the CreatureMust Love Hellhounds

And while the novellas/short stories-bundled-into-a-book thing is currently more of a YA phenomenon, several of my favorite adult Urban Fantasy authors have done that too:

Into the Woods by Kim HarrisonA Touch of Dead by Charlaine HarrisShifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

Or they have several:

Men of the Otherworld by Kelley ArmstrongTales of the Otherworld by Kelley ArmstrongOtherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong

Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock novellas/short stories aren’t available in paperback, but you can still get them bundled together in an ebook:

Cat Tales by Faith HunterHave Stakes, Will Travel by Faith Hunter

There are also some fabulous options on the YA front.

Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series is highly popular, but a lot of readers who aren’t as into novellas/short stories overlook:

Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout

which is a shame b/c at 165 pages, it’s pretty close to novel-length, and a wholly complete story by itself. If you’re a Lux fan, I cannot recommend Shadows (Lux 0.5) enough.

A couple of my favorite YA novella/short story bundles are:

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. MaasFaery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa MarrUnite Me by Tahereh MafiGirl of Fire and Thorns Stories by Rae Carson

There are also a TON of novellas/short stories available for FREE.

From Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy:

The Witch of Duva by Leigh BardugoThe Too-Clever Fox by Leigh BardugoLittle Knife by Leigh Bardugo

From Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles:

Glitches by Marissa MeyerThe Queen's Army by Marissa MeyerThe Little Android by Marissa Meyer

And a LOT of my favorite adult Urban Fantasy authors also post FREE fiction on their websites:

Ilona Andrews, Kelley Armstrong, Jennifer Estep, and Seanan McGuire.

Jessica Signature

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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64 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you, Jessica. I love novellas and short stories when they’re additions to series I love or written by favorite authors. Anthologies can get me hot and bothered too, if I’m being asked to buy a pricey book for one story. But it does seem as though most authors are releasing those novellas separately nowadays. I’ve read a few standalone novellas with mixed results. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes I’m left wanting. I love that you included so many of your favorites here. We have quite a few favorites in common. 🙂

    • Yeah, mostly I can avoid the anthology bother, but even when something is only available in anthology format, I’ll taught myself patience, b/c in most cases the publisher only has exclusive rights for 6-12 months, and then the novellas can be released individually—YAY! And yay! also for shared favorites 😉

  2. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of shorts…But I did read a novella by Tessa Dare (Beauty and the Blacksmith) last year. Tessa is infinitely talented and I did find it enjoyable, but I do agree, Novellas are best when part of a series. Love your blog! Write on!!!!!

    • I have 2 or 3 Tessa Dare books that I need to read. I’ll be sure to keep her novellas in mind when I do. Thanks, Amy!

  3. I’m pretty on the fence about novellas and short stories. I often find that novellas are overpriced and my book budget is pretty limited. And anthologies can be great if you buy it for a favourite author or two, then find another author you like that you might not have found otherwise.

    • I totally agree. That’s why I love it when they’re FREE. Seriously Tor.com is an incredibly source of free fiction. Any novella that’s a part of their fierce reads tour, is available for free on the website. For the rest of it . . . used book stores usually have a good collection of anthologies 😉

  4. I’m with you on the shorts that are a part of series. My only wish is that they would all be published in print! Because I often miss the ebook versions.

    • Goodreads has been excellent at keeping me from missing out on books that are only released in ebook form. I like to have everything in print sometimes too, especially if it’s a favorite series, but I’d rather have an ebook than nothing, you know?

  5. Yep, if it is part of a series I already read I read them every single time as well. Sometimes, like in the Shatter Me series, they had SO much to the story that it is ridiculous and I can’t believe everyone doesn’t read them.
    I know they aren’t for everyone but for the most part, I do love them and I love that little extra something something we get in between novels to hold us over.

    • Exactly. I love that little something extra, and I can’t even imagine not reading the Warren POV from Shatter Me (among others, LOL).

  6. I so want Shifting Shadows!

  7. Great post Jessica! I agree with you on the MUST READ of novella from series I love. And I did not know about the Faith Hunter ones, so thank you very much for the tip! Have to get my hands on that one. Jennifer Ashley is one of my favourites. And I also agree on your complaint that those multiple author anthologies are often so very expensive. I usually wait until they are available second hand, and buy them then.

    I do like to read them when tired, or in the bath tub, when it takes just one hour to read a story. I won’t always read the whole book but spread the stories out over a few weeks.

    • If I have to buy an anthology I almost always get it secondhand too. I’m really lucky and have this MASSIVE used book warehouse like 10 min. from where I live. But I usually read novellas in the series’ order. I still read in the bathtub, etc. I just keep reading whatever I’m reading. I LOVE bookmarks 😉

  8. I enjoy the shorts and the novellas for the same reason as well. I don’t always read them, but really should. It is like you said… hard to buy an overpriced book for just one novella. I do like that they are starting to be released individually as ebooks though. So enjoy that! 🙂

    • I know! Best thing that’s happened book-wise in awhile IMO. And it’s even better when you can get the novella for free, like you can so often with Tor.

  9. I used to love anthologies now not so much. On short stories and novellas, I like them and like you, there are some authors whose work I will read regardless. Great picks, Jessica!

    • Thank you! And yeah, I don’t really do the anthology thing unless I absolutely HAVE to.

  10. I love novellas and short stories. If they’re set in an existing series world, you usually get to explore more of the world or it’s told from another characters POV so you get to know more about the world as it exists in the author’s vision. Back before my TBR got so out of control I really enjoyed anthologies because I had more time to read authors I wasn’t familiar with and that was a great way to be introduced to them. Now, if I can’t get the particular authors story as a stand alone (or as part of their own anthology of shorter works) I’ll go ahead and get the anthology but end up picking and choosing what I read.

    • Yeah, see I never did that. I think I might have appreciated them more if it had ever occurred to me to use them as a resource for finding new authors back in the day . . . but it didn’t. I have a near phobia to them I think. For whatever reason, most of the short stories (even in college) that I ended up reading were horror stories, and I HATE being scared. So it’s totally not my fault. I’ve been classically conditioned. FUNNY STORY—I classically conditioned myself not to want to get out of my car several years ago. It was summer and my favorite flip flips were apparently excellent conductors of electricity, so every time I went to open my car door, I got shocked. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that I was flinching when I needed to get out of my car, LOL. So yeah, it could totally happen with short stories too 😀 😀 😀

      • I like anthologies to find new authors and series. That’s actually how I’ve found many of my favorite current authors, because they were in anthologies with one of my must read authors. So I have really been digging the whole trend of $0.99 “box sets”. Granted, many of them are complete rubbish, but in almost everyone I’ve found at least one author/series worth exploring. Plus, I enjoy having a stash of short stories for reading right before bed, I hate getting into a whole long book because i won’t want to put it down and go to sleep, so a short story or novella is a perfect bite sized treat for right before bed.

      • You are one of many who enjoy anthologies for both of those reasons, and I’m sure I would too, if I was lacking for reading material. In fact, if I had used anthologies to find new authors 5+ years ago, I probably would have loved them. But honestly, I can’t imagine putting down a book that I’m in the middle of for the express purpose of reading something shorter before bed. If you can put down a book to read a short story, why couldn’t you just book that same book down when it’s time for you to go to sleep? *shrugs* That’s just me, I guess. But I’m glad that you enjoy it 😉

  11. Nice selection of short stories and anthologies. I loved the Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong ones.

    • Thanks! And me too—Kelley Armstrong’s novellas/short stories, etc. are my absolute favorites.

  12. It’s so awesome to see another point of view, because I’m often the opposite! I tend to stay away from short stories/novellas that “addons” to an existing series, but only because I have had such horrid experiences with them! Some of them have been completely lazy, pointless, and so obviously written for an anthology or collection because the author was asked to/felt obligated to contribute. There are definitely exceptions of course, but I’ve experienced this so much that when I do read short stories these days, they are often separate or standalone 😀

    BTW I think we might have even had this discussion on another blog, I’m having serious case of deju vu 😛

    • *groans* We very well could have. Like I said, I seen LOTS of discussions like these recently, so I apologize if this has been redundant. Blah 😉 But I totally get what you mean about having bad experiences with them. I think the reason, I’ve had mostly good experiences is b/c I ONLY read them if they’re from authors/series that I’m already invested in. Even then it’s not a guarantee. (I really hope that’s not a deja vu conversation too, LOL).

  13. I am not a fan of novellas/short stories. I even get more annoyed when they are almost “required” reading in a series because you will miss something if you skip it. I am usually not a fan of anthologies either but sometimes I will read them if I can get them from the library. I depend on you and a few others to tell me if I have to read a novella if it is part of a series and there is something important in it 🙂

    • Well, that is certainly using your noggin 😉 Goodness knows, I don’t make a secret of how much I love them (under certain circumstances).

  14. I have Shadows on my kindle, and I thought I hadn’t read any of Marissa Meyer’s but it turns out I have read the first two…. Great list though.

    • Thank you! And you should definitely read Shadows. I don’t know if you’ve read any of the other Lux books, but I didn’t read it in order and it didn’t make a difference. Before or after Obsidian should be fine.

  15. “I don’t like to read short stories for the sake of reading short stories, but as an addition to a beloved series?”

    I totally agree with this! I do enjoy short stories more when they are a part of a series. It either get me super excited for the upcoming book or gives me a deeper perspective in a certain part of a book that I loved. Either way, it’s just really added bonus to have more of the books from a series I enjoy.

    I also read standalone shorts/novellas too…on certain days, like before bed, something short and sweet is just what I need plus it won’t mess with my body clock haha.

    I’ve actually postponed my listening of Throne of Glass because Christina told me I should read (or listen) The Assassin’s Blade first!

    • You aren’t the first person I’ve heard say that they like to read short stories before bed, or in the bath—when you know you only have a short period of time to read—so you are not alone in that. I just read whatever I was already reading, until it’s time to stop 😉

      And yeah, I agree. I read them first, and they gave me a lot of insight into Celaena and her background, which was the biggest complaint of people who didn’t like ToG as much as we did. I got her to read them before CoM, and that was fine for her b/c (like me) she LOVED Celaena, but if you have the option . . . definitely read the novellas first. I can’t wait to see what you think of them!

  16. I’ll admit I don’t read many novellas, you know the kind between novels. But a lot of readers really love them and love getting SOMETHING between novels in a series. But I do agree with you, it’s hard to feel like you have to buy an entire anthology just because there’s one story for sure you know you’ll like.

    • Which is exactly why I avoid it entirely if I can, or, if it’s not, make a used bookstore run 😉

  17. Novellas and short stories aren’t always part of a series, but when they are I usually avoid them. Unless it is like a beloved series. Because you’re right, it can be just a big info dump of stuff that was edited out of the actual series. Yuck.

    Anthologies are so hit and miss. I have a love/hate relationship with them too. I usually side on love though because inevitably I will find at least one new author out of the bunch to enjoy and discover!

    Great post!

    • Thanks, Becca!

      I’ve been really fortunate on the info-dump novella front. I’m sure that if I encountered them more frequently, I would definitely be more wary.

      And I fully recognize that if five years ago, I had started using anthologies as a way of discovering new authors, I would probably like them a LOT more. But I didn’t, and now I have more books on my TBR then I could ever read, so finding more authors . . . not a issue, LOL.

  18. I LOVE SHORT STORIES/NOVELLAS they are such great ways to cheat on your reading goal :’)

    But seriously though, I am not the kind of person who reads every short story that is part of a series, at times I feel like there is not really a need for one and I kind of become lazy, I’d rather read full length novels that are part of a series than… a novella but when the wait is too long, I’ll give in 😛 I’ve read plenty of short stories that are part of a series that I DID love but I guess it just depends on my mood.

    I also love reading short stories that aren’t part of anything! Like The Story Guy… and Snow Kissed (but Snow Kissed is kind of a part of a series?? it’s complicated :P)

    GREAT POST Jess!! 🙂

    • LOL. No cheating!

      See, I’m almost the opposite. Oh, if I really like a series, and I read that first novella/prequel/whatever and it’s CRAP, then I may or may not give the next one a chance, but if I do, and the second one is CRAP also . . . well, that’s where that respect thing I mentioned comes into play. Honestly, things started to go downhill for me with Veronica Roth after I read her first Divergent short. But if they’re even just decent . . . I’ll read every, single one of them.

      And yeah, not a fan of the standalone short story 😉

      Thanks, DOLLFACE!

  19. I haven’t read the ones from the Lunar Chronicles yet, will have to check them out

    • At the very least, you should definitely check out The Queen’s Army. It’s the best one IMO.

  20. I do like when authors/publishers provide their novellas free. That makes it a little more worth it. But I’m not paying 3 bucks for a book less than 100 pages. Just, not right.

    • I’m with you. If they’re more than that, they go on a wishlist until they’re not.

  21. I love your post and I’m with you. My favorite short stories are the ones by Cassandra Clare. I love all the tidbits and different POVs. They make me giddy, lol.

    My Armchair BEA Post

  22. I don’t like novellas unless they are part of a series either. They are just way too short for me. It feels like I no more than get into it and then it’s over.

    • And what’s the point of that? There’s not one. Glad we’re on the same page, Ashley 😉

  23. I am right there with ya on anthologies. YUCK.

    • Exactly. Even the few that I don’t hate still have a handful of stories that I will NEVER read. Blah.

  24. Meh on anthologies, I’m not into short stories unless they are part of a series I’ve been reading, very good point. Novellas, it depends, the short ones feel too short, lol, but the longer ones are cool as stand-alone reads 🙂

    • Exactly. That’s what I love about the JLA prequel and Kelley Armstrong novellas. Actually, Beginnings by Armstrong is a novella, and it might be my favorite installment in the whole series.

  25. I love novellas and sometimes I wish I paid better attention that they exist so I can read them when I should, as opposed to AFTER the fact. Usually novellas rarely disappoint and I will only read them if they belong to a series I enjoyed or completely fell in love with, you know? (I say “you know” a lot). 😉

    The novella bundle to ToG is probably one of the best I’ve read to date but I also loved the one to the Lux Series…it’s so critical to reading them because you understand the story much better. 🙂

    ♥♥♥

    • Exactly! That’s why I hate that there are so many writers out there that rehash some nonsense, slap a .5 on it, and call it a novella. It really gives the additions a bad rep, and then readers miss out on the important ones b/c they think they’re all crap. We need to educate!! LOL.

      • So many readers HAVE missed out on great novellas. For the longest time I had to force people to read the one for the Lux Series…it helped understanding the story. And now with ToG…that novella bundle is SOOOO important to read. 😉 Good ones are so crucial to understanding and seeing the bigger pictures. I swear, great minds think alike! ♥

      • And even though The Witch of Duva wasn’t absolutely necessary to understanding Shadow and Bone, can you imagine not having read it? It was AMAZING.

  26. Jessica, short stories, novellas from my favorite authors are great . I love them! However, I hate anthologies with a passion. I usually don’t know most of the authors and buy them just for one story, then end up reading all. And I also never review anthologies, because it’s a b*tch! :)) The only time I buy anthology instead of the story on its own if it’s cheaper as a bundle than a story. It happened to me twice recently.

    • Yay! Another anthology hater, LOL. I never review them either. I might write a short review of the story or two that I actually read, but the whole thing—not on your life. And mostly I only buy them used. I haven’t encountered one that was cheaper than an individual short story, but if I ever do, I would for sure buy the anthology too. Why not?

  27. I myself have a love/hate relationship with novella’s. I do enjoy them, but I end up enjoying them too much and wishing for more 🙁

    • Yeah, that’s why I try to stick to novellas from series that I’m already reading—that way there’s always more coming.

  28. ”Imaginary twitter conversations” ahahahaa, you’re so funny, Jessica! But, if Cassandra Clare does some of those, I’ll totally read them. For sure. Nice to know that you don’t hate short stories, novellas. 🙂 I don’t either but, sometimes, when I buy the Hardcover of a book and then realize that the paperback just released has a short story included, I’m not very happy let’s say…

    **Oh.My.God, such a fail. I thought Dragon Con was in the US, Never mention that to anyone. Ever. ;)**

    • Yeah, I’m not happy about that paperback situation when it happens either, and Ilona Andrews totally has imaginary twitter conversations for her Kate Daniels series, LOL.

      Dragon Con is in the US . . . did I say it wasn’t somewhere?

      • Not you, just some guys I heard talking about it not so long ago. Lol, they’re so wrong. Just checked the web site. It’s right in Atlanta. 🙂 Sorry for the misunderstanding.

      • No worries 😉 I just figured I misspoke somewhere, LOL.

  29. I like collections but I definitely love the bundled by one author collections even more because I used to just buy collections for like one or two stories and not always read the whole thing. As for being sold in singles I think they shouldn’t be more then 1.99 because seriously one whole BOOK is usually 7.99 to 10.99 so a short story that isn’t even usually more than 40 pages should NOT be 2.99 or more.

    • I mostly agree. Bundled by the author collections are one of my new favorite things, and while I think it is a bit excessive to be charging $2.99 for a short story, $2.99 is a lot less than the $7.99-10.99 I used to be forced to pay. I’m willing to pay a bit more to be able to only pay the ONE that I want.