#Review: Listen to Love by Val Portelli @ValPortelli #shortstories #newpaperback

By | June 30, 2020

Back in February – just in time for Valentine’s Day – it was a real pleasure to feature the new short story collection from Val Portelli, Listen to Love. I couldn’t fit in the reading at short notice, but Val wrote a lovely guest post – you’ll find it here. Much better timing this time – it’s been available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US (also available via Kindle Unlimited) since 4th February, but last week the paperback was published too. What better time to review, eh?

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy Val’s short stories – I always like to read the ones she publishes on her Voinks Author/Writer Facebook page, and I thoroughly enjoyed Weird and Peculiar Tales, the wonderful collection she put together with Paula Harmon (you’ll find my review here). So, let’s take a closer look at her new collection..

If music be the food of love, read on…


A collection of short stories with love as their theme, but be prepared for some surprises.


Dementia, ghosts, murder, jealousy, second chances and even inanimate objects all find their place.


Before each story is a brief introduction, giving the background and inspiration.


Many were inspired by song titles, but the stories are as varied as love itself…

I so rarely read short story collections – I’m never quite sure whether to read them all from beginning to end, to take a pause after reading one or two, or just to dip in and see what takes my fancy. But this was one I read end to end – a lovely collection, all stories with the general theme of love, interpreted in so many different ways. Many of the stories are prompted by song titles – and being easily side-tracked at the best of times, I actually did enjoy searching out some of the tracks I’d quite forgotten, and wanted to listen to again.

The stories vary in length, are all easy to read, and inevitably there were some I enjoyed more than others – but what I really liked about these stories was that they often (maybe that should be “almost always”) had unexpected endings, a clever twist in the tail that takes you by surprise and often makes you smile (or sometimes shiver a little!).

Shall I pick out some of my favourites? Juliet has a great twist in the wake of a particularly awkward job interview, taking the whole story in a direction I really didn’t expect: and I very much enjoyed Late Departure (not inspired by a song this time, but by an episode of Tales of the Unexpected) with its matter-of-fact build-up and a really chilling ending. And Love Story – an attempt at “happy ever after” without being sloppy (liked that!), that takes something of a turn towards the weird and peculiar.

I really liked From this day forward, told through a lifetime of letters: and I loved I’ll Remember You, a little different in its construction, simple and really poignant. There was one story – Ghost story – The wedding – that I’ve read and enjoyed before, another one that gives you a bit of a chill, and a perfect fit for the collection.

There really is something for everyone here – it’s a collection with a real difference that might well intrigue others too…

About the author

The author’s occasional pen name Voinks began many years ago. It started as a joke when a friend bought a holiday home abroad, then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published.

Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.

To save her sanity she completed and had published her first full length novel. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before deciding self-publishing was the way to go. 

She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘quirky.’ From having too many hours in the day, she is now actively seeking out a planet with forty-eight-hour days, to have time to fit in all the stories waiting to be told.

She is always delighted to receive reviews, as they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

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