Short Stories That Moved Me

I’m always amazed when I read a good short story especially since I know that they’re not easy to write. Despite their difficulty, short stories aren’t talked about as much as novels (or maybe I’m wrong?). So, let’s talk about them!

Whether they had me crying or cringing in fear, I’m going to share with you four short stories that moved me this year.

What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

31522415In Arimah’s story, global warming crippled today’s political giants causing them to flee to Africa for safety. It’s here where our gifted main character, Nneoma, lives. She’s a rare mathematician that uses a special formula to extract emotional pain from her subjects—for a price! Like most in her profession, she’s wealthy and only caters to the highest bidder. But there’s an unforeseen price for taking in all those horrible emotions.

While the world building, overall story concept, and Nneoma’s unlikable personality were interesting, what moved me was the people Nneoma encountered. She wanted to avoid a young girl, for example, because she could see the child’s pain–and it was a doozy: her family died in a flood, she was abused in refugee camps, and was hated because she wasn’t a full African citizen.

Heartbreaking, right? Nneoma came to tears when she extracted the girl’s pain into herself and, honestly, I almost did too.

Kin by Bruce McAllister

3149899Since Earth is overpopulated, a young boy’s unborn sister must be aborted by government decree. He reaches out to an Antolouian assassin, an alien from a complex culture, to kill the man who signed the order. As the story moves on, an unforgettable friendship form between the desperate boy and lonely alien assassin.

Their relationship starts off professional, but, as we learn more about the alien’s culture and that it’s an exile, the two begin to respect each other.

What makes this relationship moving is that everyone is afraid of the alien and for good reason. It’s kinda creepy:

Closing his eyes, the boy could see the black synthetic skin the alien wore as protection against alien atmospheres. Under that suit ropes of muscles and tendons coiled and uncoiled, rippling even when the alien was still. In the doorway the long neck had not been extended, but he knew what it could do. When it telescoped forward—as it could instantly—the head tipped up in reflex and the jaws opened.

But the boy shocks the alien when he ignores his fears and treats it like a person. Turns out the alien only wanted to be…well, wanted and treated with decency.

Don’t we all?

The Shadow in the Rose Garden by D.H. Lawrence

22587315We follow a not so happy couple on their anniversary: the wife is manipulative, the husband (Frank) is possessive, and both are emotionally withdrawn from each other. The wife decides to take a stroll in a local garden where she’s reunited with her long lost lover, Archie, who supposedly died in a war. Only he’s not the same because…well, he’s bat shit crazy. She runs home distraught and demands to be alone. Frank, however, has had enough of her disassociated behavior. The two argue and both walk away broken hearted.

The difference in how the couple communicated in the beginning (withholding their emotions) versus how they communicated in the end (explosive emotional argument!) is what grabbed my attention. Plus, Lawrence’s writing made me drool. His characters purposely try to hurt each other and the descriptions between their dialogue speaks volumes:

He shrank, and became white, impersonal. There was a long, paralysed silence. He seemed to have gone small.

“You never thought to tell me all this before I married you,” he said, with bitter irony, at last.

To Room Nineteen by Doris Lessing

1290402Susan Rawlings has a marriage that would make anyone green with envy (at least, that’s how her peers felt). Only it’s not so great. Her husband cheated on her and being a stay-at-home mom isn’t fulfilling. She decides to separate herself from her family by renting a motel room where, after discovering her husband cheated on her a second time, she commits suicide.

I thought it was sad how Susan felt so unsatisfied with her life. She couldn’t get the things she craved (like returning to her creative career at the advertising firm) because others depended on her for their happiness. To make matters worse, she was too prideful to express her inner troubles and this unwillingness to be vulnerable is what leads to her downfall.

 

There you have it: four moving short stories you should make time in your life to read.

Has a short story ever moved you in some way?

Cinder by Marrissa Meyer (book review)

Remember all the hype Cinder had when it first out? It was the book that book bloggers and bookworms on twitter gushed about (the ones I follow at least). I remember thinking, It’s probably not that good!

I was wrong.

With awesome characterizations, a gripping plot, and an authentic story world, Cinder always kept me up passed my bedtime.

Quick synopsis

Cyborg and mechanic Linh Cinder was just trying to survive her miserable life with her step mother when Prince Kai appeared at her shop with a malfunctioning android. Little does she know that the secrets locked within the android’s mainframe, her favorite sister’s sudden illness, and her developing affection for Kai will propel her into the center of an intergalactic conflict.

What I Loved

The amazing characters

There’s something to love about all the characters in Cinder, but there’s only a handful that made an impression on me.

Cinder was my favorite. Whether it meant bashing in android heads or sassing bad guys, she never played the victim. She wasn’t passive and actively tried to solve her problems. And…well, she’s a cyborg!

Prince Kai wasn’t just the snarky, yet charming, love interest whose sole purpose was to sweep Cinder (and, let’s be honest, the reader) off her feet. He had his own story and faced his own conflicts.

Then there was Queen Levana. She’s a sadistic control freak that’ll make anyone do anything with just a thought (or she murdered them). Surely, a villain I loved to hate!

The beautiful world building

Marissa Meyer did an awesome job with the setting. The way she fused traditional China with sci-fi elements gave the story an authentic feel.

Some scholars believe that the earliest Cinderella tale came from 9th-century China. Additionally, some believe that the iconic glass slipper (which was gold in the Grimm version) came to us from China’s tradition of foot-binding and a culture in which women were praised for tiny feet. So having Cinder set in China was my way of paying homage to the story’s roots.

It also seemed more interesting than setting another book in America!

Marissa Meyer

There was also a ton of nifty gadgets and androids! Cinder had an augment that could tell her when people were lying. Plus, she could download information to her brain from the Internet! Cool, right?

…Or would that be painful?

The light romance

I like to think of myself as an open minded reader, but the one thing I just CANNOT tolerate in books is a love-struck protagonist who never stops  gushing about the object of their affection. I’ve had to put down a couple of books because of this.

Romantic moments between Cinder and Prince Kai were gingerly sprinkled throughout the prose, making them more memorable.

Oh no, a cliffhanger!

I wouldn’t have finished Cinder if I thought it was horrible, but I have one problem with it: the ending.

(Spoiler Warning: There’s spoilers galore from here to the end of this post. Continue at your own risk.)

After getting thrown in jail, Dr. Erland convinces Cinder to escape and gives her the tools to do so. She commits to the idea and mentally accepts her new life as a fugitive, but that’s it! The story ends. I wanted to see her sneak out of prison Mission: Impossible style (or fight more androids!) at least.

I mean why? Why a cliffhanger?!

Cinder’s life lessons

Stories can teach us things. They can give us a new perception of the world around us or even teach us something about ourselves. With that said, here’s two things Cinder taught me.

Don’t loose yourself

Prince Kai’s carefree life ends the moment his father dies. A ton of responsibilities are tossed on his shoulder before he has time to grieve: prepare for his coronation, conduct official meetings with Earth’s leaders, negotiate with an evil moon witch (and possibly marry her)–Kai had it rough!

He had to change the way he behaved just to fit the mold of Emperor. Sure, he fought to hold onto who he was, but he slowly gave into what other’s wanted him to be.

He chaffed under social pressure, but we don’t have to. Everyone will always have expectations for us or try to force us into cookie cutter molds, but we’re the ones who have to live with ourselves. It’s our lives and our decisions and we should stay true to who we are.

Don’t like your situation? Do something about it.

Whether it was Cinder’s decision to leave her verbally abusive family or Kai’s mission to find the heir, both characters sought solutions to their problems.

No matter how bad a situation is, there’s always a way to make things better if we’re willing to look.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book and if it sounds like something you might like, consider following the links below to learn more about it.

Goodreads Page

Marissa Meyer’s author website

Did you read Cinder, but have a different experience than me? Did Cinder teach you anything? Is there something you’d like to add?  Tell me about it in the comments section below.

Fall Quarter Goals

I have a nasty habit of setting a repeat goal only to not complete it. During the summer, I decided to break that habit by taking on an accountability challenge.

And it was an experience!

The objective was to make a list of goals for the summer quarter (June-August) and then complete half of them by September 1, 2016. Then, to keep myself motivated throughout the quarter, I have to publicly announce my successes and failures to you guys.

That’s what today’s post is about. So, lets see how I did.

 

Summer 2016 Goals

I set a total of ten goals, so I need to complete FIVE for the summer to be successful. They were…

1. Finish Editing Ruin

Oh I edited Ruin alright. Edited it, rewrote it, and edited it again, but am I done? No.

I still have a few continuity and structure errors that I’m working on, so I’m counting this one as a loss.

2. Outline the sequel to Ruin

Have I laid the sequel out scene-by-scene? No, but I do have a rough idea of the major events that’ll take place in the sequel. I just need to fill in the blanks.

3-4. Start Drafting/editing Retaliation

I didn’t get a chance to work on this project at all since I was waaay to busy with Ruin.

5. Read 2 (or 3) Books

A win, finally! I probably read more than I wrote (oops!), but that’s okay. I spent my entire spring semester reading critical texts and classics, so some modern fiction was a nice change of pace.

You can check out the reviews for two of the four books I read via these links: Joe Gollem and the Drowning City and Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.

6. Write a (or 3) Short Stories

Yay, another win! I wrote a total of three shorts (1000+ words) and two flashes (100+ words). I’ve never completed a short story before, so this was an enlightening experience.

Lesson: writing a short story is just as difficult as writing a full length novel. Go figure!

7. Write a (or 3) Guest Posts

I wrote a piece on criticism that Luther M. Siler from Inifintefreetime was gracious enough to post on his blog. You can check it out here.

8. Post once a week

Nope. I fell apart at the beginning of August.  😦

9. Be more active on social media

I set out to be moderately active and I did. Woot!

10. Get Podcasting Equipment

I can start recording episodes at this very moment! I have the editing software, microphone, and a recording strategy all set. Alas, I’m going to set my podcasting ambitions aside for this quarter.

Yay, 5 out of 10! Not bad for my first time.

 

Fall Quarter Goals

The end of the year is almost here, and I don’t want my biggest 2016 goals to spill into 2017. With that said, my goals are…

1. Read 2 (or 3) books for fun

I love being an English major. I get to read tons of critical texts and write about them (yay!), but I also like modern fiction. Managing two books this semester should be enough to keep me from wanting to bang my head against a table.

That and I really wanted to beat my Goodreads challenge this year!

2. Write 12 blog posts

The idea is to post once a week (preferably on a Wednesday), but I doubt I’ll have a stellar record this quarter especially during midterms and finals. Writing a total of 12 posts should be enough to keep my blog alive while I stress over my GPA.

3. Write a blog post series

I got an idea and I can’t wait to do it! Be on the look out.

4. Completely finish editing Ruin

This is it. This quarter is when I finally finish editing Ruin—no excuses!

I can do it, I can do it, I can do it…

5. Outline Retaliation

Retaliation is a sci-fi novel that I’ve been working on since 2012 (yes, that long! One of my biggest flaws as a writer is that I’m constantly rewriting my work). I’m hoping that I can do this during October so that I can…

6. Compete in NaNoWriMo

I love NaNoWriMo! It’s like a holiday for writers.

I didn’t compete last year so I’m going to do it this time around with Retaliation.

 

I know, I know. I have a short list of goals this time around, but that’s only because I have to make room for my studies. Hopefully I can complete all six, but the goal is to finish three by December 1st.

Wish me luck. 🙂

Book Review: Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Christopher Golden (Illustrated by Mike Mignola)

I can easily get “lost” in a store with a book section (woe to the soul that accompanies me to a book store or, worst, library). There you’ll find me gazing at book covers, reading enticing blurbs, and sampling the first pages (okay, first CHAPTER) of an interesting novel.

The aisle where I found Joe Golem and the Drowning City, written by Christopher Golden and illustrated by Mike Mignola, looked like the aftermath of a Black Friday sale. Books were pulled from their proper places and thrown on shelves where they didn’t belong (I found Fifty Shades of Gray in the middle grade section). I unearthed Joe Golem and the Drowning City from a pile of books in the romance section and bought it.

I really intended to read it, but the spring semester started and…you know how that song and dance goes. I picked it up in June (or July) and finished it in three days!

It’s an amazing read filled with occultists, steampunk machinery, otherworldly gods, and dark illustrations to boot.

Synopsis

The inhabitants of the “Drowning City,” formally Lower Manhattan before the sea flooded the streets in 1925, do whatever they can to survive the city’s watery slums. Molly McHugh use to be just like them. She lived a life of fear and poverty until Orlov the Conjurer, a powerful magician hindered by age, pulled her from the streets and employed her as his assistant.

Things change when Orlov is abducted and his capturers try to kill Molly. She runs into the mysterious detective, Joe Golem, who promises to help save Orlov.

But neither are prepared for the world that lies ahead of them.

Blurb from Amazon:

In 1925, earthquakes and a rising sea level left Lower Manhattan submerged under more than thirty feet of water, so that its residents began to call it the Drowning City. Those unwilling to abandon their homes created a new life on streets turned to canals and in buildings whose first three stories were underwater. Fifty years have passed since then, and the Drowning City is full of scavengers and water rats, poor people trying to eke out an existence, and those too proud or stubborn to be defeated by circumstance.

 

Among them are fourteen-year-old Molly McHugh and her friend and employer, Felix Orlov. Once upon a time Orlov the Conjurer was a celebrated stage magician, but now he is an old man, a psychic medium, contacting the spirits of the departed for the grieving loved ones left behind. When a seance goes horribly wrong, Felix Orlov is abducted by strange men wearing gas masks and rubber suits, and Molly soon finds herself on the run.

 

Her flight will lead her into the company of a mysterious man, and his stalwart sidekick, Joe Golem, whose own past is a mystery to him, but who walks his own dreams as a man of stone and clay, brought to life for the sole purpose of hunting witches.

My Overall Thoughts

Since I respect those who haven’t read the book, spoiler text will be in GREEN from this point forward.

The bleak atmosphere of the Drowning City drew me in. Its inhabitants occupy the tops of skyscrapers and use makeshift bridges to get around. Beat-up boats transverse waterways that snake around abandoned buildings. To make matters worst, those who live in the city are essentially abandoned because no one is willing to help them rebuild.

There’s also a supernatural element with staeampunk undertones that makes the setting even more wild: Church (Joe’s partner) uses alchemy and a mechanical heart to prolong his life, Joe is an ancient stone golem meant to protect the world from witches, and Orlov is the son of an interdimensional god.

In my opinion, the interior format of the print book is amazing. It’s about the size of an adult coloring book with Mike Mignola’s shadow-heavy illustrations displayed in the margins. They aren’t prominent (there’s a few full page illustrations), but they’re detailed enough to pull you further into the story. You may be more familiar with Mignola’s work than you think, since he wrote and illustrated Hellboy (check out his work here).

The characters were also interesting; however, I didn’t like Molly very much. She wasn’t a bad character: she’s decisive and abrasive (definitely not a damsel in distress). The only problem is that she’s a normal character amongst extraordinary ones (Joe is an ancient golem, Orlov is a magician, and Church is basically a cyborg).

Even the antagonist was oddly charming. He has this jolly santa clause vibe…right up to the moment when he starts explaining his evil plan to open a up a parallel dimension that’ll throw the world into eternal damnation.

Things I loved!

The illustrations! Beautiful.

Joe’s gruff, stoic, attitude.

The scene where Joe saved Molly from the possessed tree that tried to eat her.

The part where Orlov finally becomes the freakish god he’s destined to be in the climax of the story. His metamorphoses causes tsunamis that ruin upper Manhattan (where the wealthy live) and a parallel dimension to bleed into our world. It’s a touching moment because Orlov is confused and doesn’t want to be this thing he’s becoming. At the same time, he has to leave to the parallel dimension or risk destroying the world Molly lives in. No matter which decision he chooses, Molly will be left alone (so sad).

Things I Tolerated.

I’m not kidding when I say this book was awesome. I also don’t finish books that I don’t like (and I finished this in three days!). With that said, there were a few places in the book that were a bit drawn out. The scene with Molly being chased by the gas man for example, could have been shorter.

The story’s climax was spectacular, but I was a bummed when Joe bailed at the end. When Molly asked where he was going, he simply told her he was going to hunt witches (keep in mind that Joe’s witch hunting days were over centuries ago…he just doesn’t remember). Molly didn’t want him to leave just as much as I didn’t, but he did anyway. Boo! I can’t say this is a bad thing, it’s actually good writing on Golden’s part. Makes me want to buy the sequel.

My Recommendations

If you’re someone who likes steampunk, supernatural thrillers (bordering on occult), or you’re a fan of the Hellboy series, then you may just like this one.

Links:

Christopher Golden’s Website

Mike Mignola’s Website

Book Review: “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is and What You Can Do About It” by Steven Pressfield

Advertiser. Scriptwriter. Author.

Do you know what these three careers have in common? According to Steven Pressfield, storytelling.

If you’ve read last week’s post or are following me on Goodreads, you’ll know that I’ve recently picked up Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why that is and What You Can Do About It. I’m a big fan of Pressfield’s no-nonsense writing style and intended to buy his book the moment I heard about it. That was until Marie Forleo gifted a free version to her mailing list subscribers (woot!).

This book didn’t disappoint (not that expected it to). It’s so informative and inspiring that it should be on every writer’s TBR list. Lets talk about why that is.

What was it about?

Similar to On Writing by Stephen King, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t walks us through Pressfield’s career as a creative. Each career has taught him something about storytelling and he’s sharing those techniques/life lessons with us in short, vignette-like, chapters. He also discusses how writers can use these techniques in all forms of writing (novel, script, self-help, non-fiction, etc.).

What are my thoughts?

30556551When I first read the title, I thought “Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Then I read the subheading and thought, “Okay. Now this makes sense.”

I like the title because it’s a sneaky, yet brilliant, way to get your attention😈. Love it. Good job Pressfield!

Anyway, the first three chapters set the stage for the entire book. But, well, as shameful as this was, I…uh…I skipped them.

They weren’t bad! I just really really really wanted to get to the meat of the book. And boy, was it juicy!

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t reads like a narrative with Pressfield being the main character. So you’re getting some sweet advice on writing but you’re also learning about Pressfield’s personal struggles with the craft. In my opinion, this little snippet into his life was uplifting because he never gave up.

Grit and determination can help anyone succeed.

Whenever he introduces a new storytelling technique, the narrative pauses so he can explain it. He explains some techniques/lessons better than others, but I think this is because the “less explained” ones are pretty self-explanatory. He also repeats the complicated techniques throughout the prose so you can’t forget them (at least, I can’t).

Overall, this book is packed with value. The underlining lesson is that us writers must take our readers into account. If we fail to do that, we’ll have one heck of a time trying to get them to read our writing.

What was my favorite part(s)?

After the first eight chapters, the book is broken down into eight parts. The two parts that I like the most are “Book 3: Hollywood” and “Book 4: Fiction: The Second Time.”

“Book 3: Hollywood” is where Pressfield learns about story formula. He delves into my favorite topic, the Hero’s Journey, which is an ancient story structure that (believe or not) every story follows.

(Warning: This book isn’t technically a novel, but it reads like one. So if you don’t want me to spoil the effect for you, skip to the next heading.)

“Book 4: Fiction: The Second Time” is where Pressfield uses the life lessons and writing techniques he learned form his previous careers and applies them to writing his first novel.

This is an intense time in Pressfield’s life because novel writing has impacted his life in a negative way in the past: his manuscripts were never”good enough,” his marriage faltered, and he was jobless.

Despite all this, he still had a burning desire to be a creative and he fought for it even though resistance held him back. This struggle makes his triumph in book “Book 4” especially moving in my opinion.

What are some key take-aways?

Do you want to know what Pressfield means when he says “nobody wants you read your sh*t”? He means:

When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, you develop empathy. You acquire the skill that is indispensable to all artists and entrepreneurs—the ability to switch back and forth in your imagination from your own point of view as writer/painter/seller to the point of view of your reader/gallery-goer/customer. You learn to ask yourself with ev­ery sentence and every phrase: Is this interesting? Is it fun or challenging or inventive? Am I giving the reader enough? Is she bored? Is she following where I want to lead her?

Pressfield on the struggles of writing a novel:

As artists, you and I are struggling each day to dominate our material, to shape it into a cohesive whole with a beginning, middle, and an end. But at the same time, the raw entity defies us. It’s a living thing, with its own power and its own destiny. It ‘wants’ to be something. Our job is to discover what that something is—and to help it become that.

On structuring a story:

The ending dictates the beginning. I’m a huge fan of this back-to-front method. It works for anything—novels, plays, new business pitches, music albums, choreography. First figure out where you want to finish. Then work backward to set up everything you need to get you there.

What are my recommendations?

As I’ve said before, this book should be a must read for every author, writer, and aspiring author out there.

I think it could also be helpful for those who are struggling with their writing careers or are in need of some inspiration.

If you’re someone who just likes to learn new things (like me), then this book might be good for you too.

Lastly, if you’re going to read this book, please do so with pen and paper. Don’t just read it, try to apply the techniques to your W.I.P.

Links

Goodreads

Amazon

Author Website


Image result for goodreads logoWhile we’re talking about books, how about we be reading buddies on Goodreads?! I’m starting to post updates about the books that I’m reading (snippets of the reading material and my reactions to them) because, gosh, books are awesome.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in (or you just need a friend), send me a request and we’ll be book nerds together! 🙂

Book Review: Choices by K.W. McCabe

12979425“It was the Choice. Always the Choice—and it had to be given.

‘Who will the forfeit be?’ She asked slowly.

I shook my head. They always wanted to know although they knew they wouldn’t be told. She had known the conditions when she accepted the return of her life for a period of time.”

In K.W. McCabe’s Choices, a dark lord gives souls the opportunity to come back to life. However, he will come and collect payment. After a period of time, his messenger, Thomas, will appear and give them one doozy of a choice:

Return to the world of the dead OR have someone else take their place.

The narrative doesn’t say outright, but it seems as if Thomas has been doing this for a long time. Though he appears to just be “following orders” he also has his own feelings and opinions about his “job.” For instance, he harbors a bit of disdain for the souls around him—especially for the soul he has to collect.

 

Useful Links:

Book Review: Fine Wine by Scott Marlowe

Fine_Wine_200x320“Abelard ate a lot. That was why, after I’d slashed my knife across his belly, I half-expected his bulbous stomach, chock full of tender roast, broccoli, soft rolls, and the most delicate shiraz I’d ever sampled—all served just an hour before by his fat merchantship’s very staff—to come tumbling out like a too swollen jellyfish. But something about the cut didn’t feel right, and though Abelard clenched his hands to his gut and fell to his knees as I expected he would, there wasn’t even a single, glistening trickle of gastric juice seeping out from between his fat fingers.”

Imagine that you invited a guest over to your house and, after showering them with your best hospitality, they suddenly reveal that they’re there to kill you. A situation like that would make anyone desperate!

In a nutshell, this is Abelard’s situation in Scott Marlowe’s short, Fine Wine. The main character, who’s unnamed, is hired to kill Abelard for reasons unknown. The story starts off with Abelard being “assassinated” but something just isn’t right…

What’s wrong? Since this a very short tale I don’t want to ruin anything. BUT you can go find out for yourself, here.

One thing that I want to assure you is that Fine Wine isn’t as dark and gritty as it may seem. Marlowe uses humor to temper the grim aspects of the story, keeping it interesting and easy to digest. In fact, I found the main character to be hilarious!

Sound interesting?

 

Useful Links

Book Review: The New World by Patrick Ness

“Don’t open it until you’ve landed.”

“’Til we’ve landed?” I said. “That’s five months from now.”

He smiled and lowered his voice. “Do you know what separates us from the beasts, Viola?”

I frowned, sensing a lesson. “The ability to wait to open a present?”

He laughed. “Fire,” he said. “The ability to make fire at will. It allowed us light to see in the darkness, warmth against the cold, a tool to cook our food.” He gestured vaguely in the direction of the Delta’s engines. “Fire is what eventually led to travel across the black beyond, the ability to start a new life on a New World.

 

9412471Viola’s family is given a mission to prepare The New World for human colonization. It’s
a honorable mission because no one else on ships Delta and Alpha have lived on a real planet. In fact, humans haven’t lived on an actual planet since Old Earth was poisoned generations ago.

However, Viola doesn’t care how “honorable” the mission is. Deep down, she’s actually afraid. And why not? The last settlers didn’t come back. It’s disheartening! But everyone wants her to have hope.

Approaching their destination…something happens…

 

Overall I enjoyed this short read! The ending of this prequel makes me want to check out the rest of the Chaos Walking trilogy. Another thing that I really enjoyed was the theme of hope.

You can find The New World at Amazon for FREE, enjoy!

Basing Your Reading Habits off of Reviews is so…Grade School!

reviewsThe following conversation actually took place. Names have been changed to protect the Innocent:

Elf: My gawd, you’re just now reading that!

Alien: …yeah…

Elf: Even after the movie came out? Didn’t it spoil everything for you?

Alien: I didn’t read the book when it first came out.

Elf: Why?

Alien: Because the reviews were so bad.

Elf: …You base your reading habits off the opinions of others?

Alien: …Well…yeah.

Elf: Dude…that’s so grade school.


 

I’ve noticed a trend in the digital book market. It goes something like this:

  • 5 out of 5 (overall stars) – gets a book a lot of attention.
  • 4 out of 5 – almost the same as 5/5
  • 3 out of 5 – Makes people uncomfortable. They have to check the reviews!
  • 2 out of 5 – automatic skip
  • 1 out of 5 – You’re basically invisible
  • 0 out of 5 – You’d be lucky if someone accidentally clicked on the cover

Am I wrong? You’re free to disagree.

One day I was browsing through Amazon looking for a decent book to read. I found one, sampled it, liked it, and bought it.

Then I noticed it had a poor overall star rating.

One reader wrote a long review on how the author’s writing style was amateurish, that their characters were cardboard, and the manuscript was in need of a professional editor. The icing on the cake was this last part, “don’t waste your money on this rubbish.”

This reader’s review was declared the “most helpful” and one user thanked the reviewer for saving them money and time. I doubt they even looked at the sample…

Ok, the reviewer is entitled to their opinion. But the commenter…

Reviews are opinions of another reader. I’m not suggesting that we should do away with the starring/review system like some totalitarian regime. However–we (as mature readers, budding authors, and authors) should be adult enough to form our own opinions / decisions based on our own judgments.

At least give the author the courtesy of reading their synopsis and a sample of their work. It’s free! Still want to read the reviews? Go for it! But don’t base your reading / buying decisions off of them.

…it’s so grade school!

 

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

Book Review: The Unfinished Boy by Chrystalla Thoma

“Have you nothing to say?” Mother stood, hand fisted. She fixed him with her steel gaze. “You, Raven.” She pointed with a fine white finger, so much like his own. “Oh, I told your father he made a mistake, but he wouldn’t listen. He took you from your maker to soon.”

Raven tangled his hand in his black hair. This information was new. “I have a maker? Who is it?”

16112120I am happy to say that The Unfinished Boy was a pleasant surprise! The novel contains two short stories that could be read in one sitting (at least…that’s what I did). There’s the title story and another called The Truth.

 

The Unfinished Boy
Raven is a young clockwork boy who was stolen from his maker, Chryse, for the sake of the childless Queen. However, Raven cannot feel emotion because his maker didn’t finish him.

So when his “dad” dies he’s unable to feel any sadness. Actually, he spends more time worrying why his “mother” cries crystals then about the sudden loss of his “parent.” He understands the concept of death–but that’s it. In his eyes, life just means to breathe. This strains  his “mother’s” patience and she sends him off to the Crystal Mines, a horrible horrible prison, because she can’t have a son that doesn’t feel.

Great parenting skills, right?

I’m not going to spoil the story for you. But I bet you’re wondering:

  1. Does he eventually develop emotions?
  2. What does this Chryse person have to do with the story?
  3. Will he ever be finished?
  4. Am I going to stop numbering obvious questions?

Well that’s for you to find out.

All in all, I really enjoyed the steampunk feel that this short story had. Not only that, but I loved the overall question that the narrative asked: What is life without emotions?

 

The Truth

The Truth is the untold story of Rumpelstiltskin. Be it that this short story was…short…I don’t want to give away important tidbits. BUT! I will say that Rumpelstiltskin isn’t the ugly-villainous-green-goblin that we were all told. He’s actually a protector.

Of what?

Go figure it out.

 

Here’s Crystalla Thoma’s blog–you should check it out!