Hark---A Christmas Collection By Justin Bog

    This is not your usual Christmas collection of stories. There are no tales of magic and miracles to be found. In this book, the author has collected together short stories that show another side of Christmas. An equally important side. There are people who, for whatever reason, may not be enjoying the Christmas season, and these stories looks at a few examples. Christmas comes every year and, therefore, brings with it memories. In 'Hark' you will find stories of regret, loneliness, fear, pain. That's not to say that it's a depressing read. On the contrary, I enjoyed reading these stories because the characters seem like real people and their emotions are so well portrayed. The author has a talent for bringing characters to life. This is a well written collection. All the stories were enjoyable for different reasons, but I think my favourite is the last story 'The Heralds' because there is a great twist and it is uplifting as well as being insightful. I liked the ending of 'Snow Globe'; it's a great example of the author's ability to understand the complexities of human nature. Although all the stories have a dark side, there is also fun to be found among the pages, most notably in the story, 'Seducing Santa'.

    I'd definitely recommend this book, especially as a Christmas read. The sights and sounds of the season are intertwined with the deep and poignant characters' stories. Hark---A Christmas Collection There was something quite lovely about reading a collection of Christmas stories wholly unique to Christmas stories; they weren’t sickly sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I love the romantic, Scrooge redeeming, Wonderful Life, toy making stories that are so common this time of year. But that’s not all that Christmas is about and I think these stories keep in mind the vast number of people for whom Christmas is a complicated time.

    There is a warmth in Justin Bog’s writing but, to me, it doesn’t come from a light, humourous tale but more from a desire to portray complicated relationships and feelings that are important to so many people at Christmas time. Each story is different, unique. Some are humourous, some are darker. All of them are a very lovely addition to my Christmas reading. Hark---A Christmas Collection
    Title: Hark: A Christmas Collection
    Author: Justin Bog
    Publisher: The Author's Advocate
    Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
    Rating: Five

    Hark: A Christmas Collection by Justin Bog

    My Thoughts....

    What a wonderful Christmas collection of six short stories that will keep you turning the pages being of a read that will put the reader in and touch your heart. I loved how as one read through each story you will be able to feel the emotions [happy, sad, in between and thought provoking] that so many people feel especially during this particular holiday season. I was able to feel each story so very well that had a different meaning being presented. After reading this collection I will say I plan to make it one of my traditions to read Hark every Christmas holiday!

    Whether it's 'Hark, Seducing Santa, Bracelet. Everyone Wants Me To, Snow Globe and The Heralds' I enjoyed all of the stories that 'will touch your mind as well as your heart.' And then at the end the author gives the reader a short story 'Poseidon Eyes' which was another good read that I found rather interesting also.

    Definitely, this author is a 'master storyteller' that will keep you in awe as you read through his stories. Now, I will say this may not be one of those sweet reads...it is a very realistic one...and yes the true meaning of Christmas that takes place all over the United States. Now there will be some 'bitter sweet moments with romance and even a little humor thrown in.' This will be definitely a little different in its deepness than the 'normal' Christmas stories.

    I enjoyed reading these unique anthologies as the reader sees how other people have faced different problems and through it all have found hope in the things that are so important to each of them. Would I recommend? YES, just remember 'that not everyone has a sparkly and super happy Christmas but their stories will touch you whether you celebrate Christmas or not.'
    Hark---A Christmas Collection
    My Review

    While I read the title, I was all set to have a fun, light read. So I started the book lazily. I was expecting a stout bubbly Santa with funny fairy tales. But once the stories unveiled, I realized that the book is not a Santa but a six fingered monster. Instead of tender tales I saw stark realities. Like the fingers in our hand each story varies in style, length, depth and purpose.Real lives of people in trouble, pain, happiness, anger, all the same. Since it is a short story collection, I am not going into the step by step analysis citing plots, characters, highlights and drawbacks. I am of the opinion that while reviewing short stories and poems, we should not give a detailed review of every stories/poems.

    The first story Hark touches the strings of heart which would drip blood. The second story Seducing Santa makes us smile, frown, wince, pout and laugh. The third finger Bracelet is an intricately weaved the story. Fourth one Everyone wants me to, brought me to tears. Snow globe, the fifth story is an easy read. Sixth and the last story, excites us with an unexpected twist, which reminded me of the proverb keep the best to the last. Author has made use of his experiences in the right channel. Writing style is good. The shift of third person narrative and first person narrative in Everyone Wants me to is a fresh treatment of literature. The stories surely lingers to our mind even days after reading.

    Some stories are stretched unnecessarily,which drops the pace of the story and reading. The cover image did not reflect the stories.

    One Liner
    A six fingered monster capable of alluring and haunting the readers.

    Hark---A Christmas Collection In this Christmas story, we have six different well written and thought out stories. They are not your tis the season stories. Their about the reality for some people at this time of year, not everyone enjoys this time. Justin is real in his characters and story lines. I'm not saying their all dark stories, some are happy with realty in them. Candycanes, stocking and presents isn't what it's all about for some. I think there is a lot of people who can resonate with this book. I adored all the stories because they are real. I recommend this book to all who want a real Christmas story about different meanings for this season. Hark---A Christmas Collection

    Justin Bog ò 7 READ & DOWNLOAD

    A beautifully written collection of short stories from critically acclaimed Pacific Northwest writer Justin Bog, Hark explores the range of emotions surrounding the holidays. From melancholy to madness, loss and despair to hope and forgiveness, these six tales shimmer with feelings, some we’d rather stuff away, that Christmas can evoke.

    Within Hark—A Christmas Collection, a retired police officer faces another Christmas Eve while bitter recollections haunt his every turn, a lonely woman plans to seduce Santa Claus one Christmas Eve, a widow grows anxious as she searches for a present she misplaced and intended to send to her ungrateful sister, a woman can’t keep the images of her past—these ghosts—from haunting the life she chooses to live, a young gentleman and his partner join a Christmas party in Sun Valley, Idaho and are taught a lesson most un-holidaylike, and, finally, a couple portrays Mr. & Mrs. Claus in their small island town holiday festivities and face a grim diagnosis together.

    Set in colorful locations around the United States, from Anacortes, Washington, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Sun Valley, Idaho, each tale focuses on people who struggle to make good choices, learn lessons, and maybe even find peace during the holiday season.

    A bonus story, Poseidon Eyes, from the upcoming Sandcastle and Other Stories—The Complete Edition, is included. Hark---A Christmas Collection

    HARK - A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION by Justin Bog is a collection of short Christmas stories that make this anything but your typical holiday romp. Like a box of chocolates, some are better than others but each is honest, real and touched my heart. I laughed out loud, got a little teary, a little melancholy mix of emotions were stirred in this quick read. And that's author Justin Bog's gift! Well done. Many set in the Pacific Northwest. Anacortes WA! Hark---A Christmas Collection Originally posted on Book-o-Craze, on a tour hosted by Sage's Blog Tours.

    Blog ∙ YouTube ∙ Instagram ∙ Facebook ∙ Twitter

    This is an unusual Christmas collection of short stories! The author successfully showed another side of the Christmas season, narrating the stories of some people that don't particularly feel the hype the of this time of year!

    More specifically, Hark tells the story of a former police officer who is now confined to a wheel chair after an incident in the line of duty. He tends to be thinking about all the dreams he had before he became handicapped and is melancholic during Christmas time. But his wife, Colleen, and the bond they have formed has significantly helped him become more peaceful and think less of the accident and more about this joyful time of year!

    In Seducing Santa, Laura has been fantasizing about Santa ever since she can remember herself and never gets too close with anyone for more than one night. The strongest example is Elton, a man ten years older than her, with a white beard, and a plump belly, whom when she meets she can't help but feel an instant attraction, but not for more than one night...

    Bracelet tells the story of Callie, a widowed teacher who is about to lose her job, and to top all of her sadness she has lost her sister's present, the bracelet. She starts her quest of finding the very important bracelet, and in the end finds it in one of the most important places!

    In Everyone Wants Me To, Arlene flies back home with her mother, a fact she deeply dislikes, as she prefers living with her grandmother! This short novel narrates the current story of Arlene and her parents, Marion and Barry, as well as the background ones of the parents! An interesting combination of a number of events and stories!

    Snow Globe narrates the story of a gay community and the struggles they go through, as not everyone is as accepting! But, will this year's Christmas time prove to be different?

    In The Heralds, Ken has been starting feeling ill, and knowing he suffers from a disease in his esophagus, he visits his doctor, without telling his wife Carmel! But even if his disease is getting worse he is determined to live his life to the fullest and nothing is going to stop him from dressing up with his wife as Mr. Claus and Mrs. Claus this year!

    In the end of the book, a bonus content, Poseidon Eyes, was included. In this short story, Melanie loves the water so much, she prefers living her life into the sea, apart from everyone else. When she was a little girl she had a run-in with a strange man, resulting in her getting Pseidon Eyes, which meant her eye sight changed, making her see everyone as different kinds of fish! After years of unsuccessful psychotherapy, her almost drowning made her see human beings as they really are. But, what about the strange man who reappears to wish her happy birthday?

    This anthology proved to be a quite unique read, giving us a different glimpse of Christmas through the eyes of various people that face different problems and find hope in the things that are most important to them!

    All in all, 4 stars for this unique chance to read about a different side of Christmas time! Hark---A Christmas Collection Creating these six holiday tales, some written during the months far away from the actual Christmas season, was a pleasure. I hope you enjoy the characters (their journey through this sleigh-bell world), and the stories they tell as much as I did. Hark---A Christmas Collection Having read Justin Bog’s previous books, I kind of knew not to expect anything from the book while picking it up. The author always takes a new road and forges his own path with his unique style of storytelling.

    There are six stories in the collection. In ‘Hark’ a police officer looks back on how one event changed his life forever. The next story, ‘Seducing Santa’, tells us about a woman daydreaming about her very own Santa. ‘Bracelet’ is about a misplaced gift and the relationship between two sisters. ‘Everyone wants me to’ is about a girl who is all but invisible too her parents, about her life and that of her family. ‘Snow Globe’ touches upon the subject of homosexuality and the society. ‘The Heralds’ is about an aging couple and their much anticipated stint as Mr.& Mrs. Claus.

    The above one-liners do not give out much about the stories and neither do they capture the true essence of the stories. Yet I chose to give one-liners as I really want other readers to pick up the book and experience it for themselves without having any prior expectations from it.

    Each story in the book brings forward a different aspect of life and emotion. People usually relate joy, happiness and hope with the Christmas season. But it is also the time when other emotions bubble up to the surface for many people – loss, loneliness, despair, pain, regret, anger, forgiveness. It is these emotions that the author has explored through his short stories. Some of the stories are light hearted and some even humourous; but all of them have a darker tinge to them if you look closely enough. If you are looking for Christmas joy and miracle stories, this collection is probably not for you.

    Justin Bog has proved over and over again that he is a master storyteller. He artfully takes simple situations and portrays the depth of emotions that a person can feel. This is the third book that I have read by this author, and he still manages to surprise me and keep me guessing. Polished language and smooth flow in his narration are his prime assets.

    Like with every other book of his (that I have read) this book too is not for everyone. A lot of people might feel disappointed if they pick this one up expecting sweetness and cheer dripping from it. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read ‘something different’ from time to time and has no issues with exploring every aspect of the season and not just the sunshine.
    Hark---A Christmas Collection ***HARK will touch your mind and your heart***

    HARK brings us six wonderful stories that occur at Christmastime. Unlike many books about this time of year, Mr. Bog’s collection pays tribute to the season without being melodramatic or candy-cane sweet.

    In the lead-off story, “Hark,” a police officer replays an event that changed his life forever. Just as Christmas marks time each year, so do the memories and consequences of his tragedy. “Hark” is a strong lesson in our inability to change the past, to live in the present, and to hope for a better future.

    If you are in the mood for a romantic-comedy, you will love “Seducing Santa.” It is whimsical and tongue-in-cheek, but it conjures the magical spirit of the season.

    “Bracelet” in its simplicity brings to mind “The Gift of the Maji” by O. Henry. The ebb and flow of the story will cradle you like a warm ocean tide. The ending is picture-perfect with a delightful twist.

    “Everyone Wants Me To” is the longest story in the collection with a similar theme to “Hark.” It’s about the intersection and merging of lives and the effects of these meetings. The story begins with Arlene as a young girl and finishes with her much later in life. It’s an incredibly ambitious tale, not easily told in a short story format, yet, Mr. Bog does it brilliantly. The use of several points of view and a seamless movement from first to third person narration adds layers upon layers of complexity. It is a cautionary tale about how adults deliver love and hate during the formative years of a child. Though it would be an over-simplification to say that negativity and abandonment begets a miserable life, I can fairly say that one is certainly at a disadvantage. Allegorical in its telling, “Everyone Wants Me To” reminds us of blessings we might otherwise take for granted.

    My favorite story of the collection is “Snow Globe,” which takes place at a posh Christmas party. The atmosphere is festive; the conversations clipped and pretentious, as conversations tend to be at parties. I enjoyed the diversity of the guests—gay, straight, men, women, all intermingling at what is supposed to be a joyous occasion, yet, there is tension dripping out of champagne bottles. Despite all good intentions, one guest decides to speak his unpleasant truth. It’s an accurate study of human motivation, especially when confined in a pressure-cooker environment.

    In “The Heralds,” the story that completes the collection, Kenneth Herald is battling a life-and-death illness. He and his wife discover a shocking truth right before Christmas and what they do is completely unexpected.

    I compare the flow of these stories to that of a jazz song. They are delivered in slow, crisp tones. The notes hit the mark and draw in the reader. Like a ‘seasoned’ jazz singer though, Mr. Bog knows that too many trills or too much scat singing can rob a song of its essence, even if it may impress initially.

    As such, HARK is a true lesson in storytelling restraint. Each tale, including the bonus “Poseidon Eyes” provides a window into the lives of people we know. They are not Christmas caricatures; their lives are not always extraordinary. They are pieces of you and me, and their stories will touch you whether you celebrate Christmas or not. Hark---A Christmas Collection