Waxing Lyrical & Tales in Teacups by Vivian Zems | Book Reviews

'Waxing Lyrical' and 'Tales in Teacups' book covers

On New Year’s Day I decided to take the whole day out for a good, long read, and I gobbled up Zems’ debut poetry collection and debut short story collection in one sitting, so here we are with a double bill on the book review front.

Waxing Lyrical

There are 50 poems in Waxing Lyrical, each one exploring the intricacies of the funny thing we call life. Love and heartbreak, friendships, family, and life and death are common themes, making for a touching reading experience.

I’m gonna level with you – I’m dense about poetry. I don’t read a lot of it and I can’t for the life of me write it. But I found Zems’ poetry very accessible, and many of the poems really resonated with my own life experiences.

There was a recurring concept of masks throughout the collection which I really enjoyed. It highlighted both the masks that others wear, perhaps to fool us into thinking they’re something they’re not, as well as those we wear to offer ourselves protection or as a result of our lack of confidence.

Some of my particular favourites from Waxing Lyrical are:

  • Skin Alive
  • Mask Off
  • Lust
  • Defined By…
  • Home and Away
  • The Howl of Despair
  • Gossip

All in all, Waxing Lyrical is a lovely collection fraught with emotion and passion.

Tales in Teacups

With 40 short tales in a wide variety of genres, this was a really entertaining read. Some of the stories are light and funny, while others use darker humour which is right up my street. Some are tense and packed with action, and more still are gentle stories about real human emotions.

I think my favourites were the teeny-tiny stories which packed a punch with dramatic twists – the likes of ‘The Calling Card’, ‘His Last Supper’, ‘The Jump’, ‘Buried Roots’ and ‘The Right Ingredient’. Many of these shorts I would love to see fleshed out into longer tales, which could allow for a greater building of tension and more insights into the (often delightfully twisted) minds of the protagonists. But maybe that’s just me greedily wanting more of a good thing; one of the reasons why I think these types of mini stories are so effective is because so much is said with such few words.

Compared to Waxing Lyrical, Tales in Teacups gives a true insight into Zems’ eclectic imagination, which is what drew me to her blog, Smell The Coffee, in the first place. I love dark, creepy themes in short fiction along with a sprinkle of humour, and many of the stories in Tales in Teacups offer exactly that. However, since the collection is so varied, I think there’s a little bit of something for all tastes.

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Author: Ellie Scott

Ellie Scott is a freelance copywriter and fiction writer from Sheffield, UK. She writes speculative and silly short stories and flash fiction. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Short Story Competition and published her first book, 'Merry Bloody Christmas: A Short Story Collection'. You can often find her hanging out on Twitter (@itsemscott), Instagram (@tinysillystories) and Medium (@elliemaryscott), or hibernating on her sofa with a book and a very large glass of gin.

4 thoughts on “Waxing Lyrical & Tales in Teacups by Vivian Zems | Book Reviews”

  1. Picked up the audio book version of Tales in Teacups. I have to shovel snow in my area this weekend so I might as well have a good listen. Played the sample before I purchased. It sounded like….my cup of tea.
    Thanks.

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