Book Review – Lucifer’s Fall

Book Title: Lucifer’s Fall (Celestial Downfall, Vol 0)
Author: AJ Flowers
Format: Kindle
Published: 2017

 

So, this is a short story that goes along with the Celestial Downfall (I think) series by AJ Flowers.  I have never read the series, but the book popped up in an email about free ebooks and I saw it was a short story, so I decided to give it a go and jumped in blindly.

The story starts with an angel speaking.  “Another malformed embryo.”  Angels, apparently, hatch from eggs.  These angels are tasked with checking the eggs for imperfections.

This is a short story.  Really short.  So I don’t want to go any more into the story because I don’t want to give it away.  But I loved this.  It showed Lucifer in a light that we don’t normally see him.

And I want to read the whole series, which is the point of short tie in stories.

I will say this.  The short is really short, and 75% of the e-download is actually chapter one for one of her other books, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much money it’s worth.  I got it free and it was worth reading it.

A solid 4/5.

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Books Review – The Christmas Scrapbook & The Mitford Snowman

NOTE: In honor of the holidays, I thought I’d do a couple holiday stories, so it’s a bonus twofer review day! I know that these are competing series, but hey, why not?


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TITLE: The Christmas Scrapbook
AUTHOR: Philip Gulley
FORMAT: Hardback
PUBLISHED: 2005

Okay, so I needed a Christmas book for the reading challenge, and I found this on the shelf.  It was short, so I grabbed it.  I’m not big on Christmas stories in general, and I’ve already read Skipping Christmas and Ester’s Gift, and a couple other short ones.  Thus, this one it was…

The book is apparently a stand-alone companion book to the popular Home to Harmony series of books.  I haven’t read them, but I had no problem following along with who everyone was.

In this story, the MC is Pastor Sam, determined this year to get a better gift than the almost two-decades of crap he’s managed before, so he’s off making her a scrapbook. Misunderstandings happen.  Hilarity ensues.  Or something. [Side note.  If you’re the type of husband that can’t manage something better than a friggin’ pelican to hold your kitchen sponge, you are doing this husband thing wrong.  He’s supposedly been married 17 years.  I don’t know why either one of them put up with the other.]

Look, I’m sure these are supposed to be cute and wholesome and whatever – and this felt like a rejected Andy Griffith Show story line.  But unlike Andy, Sam’s just annoying.  And the busybodies all over town are just … annoying.  And I know I said that about Sam, but let’s just say that if this beauty parlor had the only shampoo in existence, I’d never wash my hair again instead of having to deal with these twits.  Apparently being a total gossip is a “good Christian” quality.

And the wife…  So, this is a minister and his wife.  When Sam has somewhere to be Wednesday nights and a bad lie to cover it up, why does she automatically assume he’s cheating on her?  I’m not saying clergy can’t cheat, but I’d like to think they operate under a higher morality clause than the rest of us.  And I’d like to think that even if they were acting all suspicious, a minister’s wife would assume just about anything else before cheating.

Honestly, this book did less than anything for me.  Maybe people who love this series will think this is a cute story, but I think that it could have seriously used about 1000 more words to flesh some things out instead of weak transitions and the glossing over of stuff.  For instance, at one point somebody twists an ankle.  And since the response to that is more important than the actual ankle being twisted, it was reduced to about half a sentence.  That could have at least been an exciting paragraph.  But no.

In the end, I suggest reading this to put yourself to sleep.  If you like your fiction so saccharine sweet (with an undercoat of hen chatter) that you get diabetes, maybe you’re the target audience, but I know that I certainly am not.  2/5.

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TITLE: The Mitford Snowman
AUTHOR: Jan Karon
FORMAT: Hardback Large Print
PUBLISHED: 2001

For those not in the know, Jan Karon has a series of books that take place in the little town of Mitford, and center around a sleepy southern town and a priest.  I haven’t read any of the novels, but I did review the other Christmas book about a year ago.

So this one.  The Mitford Snowman is a simple – and very short – story that starts with a couple guys sitting around talking and then it starts snowing.  Next thing everyone knows, an impromptu snowman building contest starts up, and everyone up and down the street gets involved.

It’s cute, and it’s simple, and I think it’s pretty much what it should be.

With that said, it’s short.  Like 1800 words.  Which isn’t necessarily bad for a gift book at Christmas, but I have several issues with this version.  Like I said, I got the large print one, which came out from Wheeler Publishing.  Unfortunately, this version has all black and white illustrations, and the short internet search I did about this book shows that the interior is actual in color in the regular print version, so I was sad to miss out on that.  Also, because Large Print somehow costs oh-so-much-extra to print, the cover price on this is $26.95.  Yes, $27 for 1800 words and some should-be-in-color illustrations in black and white.

And because it’s Large Print, it felt like I was reading a Children’s book.  There were something like 45 words per page.

So I was seriously disappointed with this version.

Bottom line.  For the story itself, I totally think its worth the read.  But the Large Print book isn’t worth it at all. I don’t want to even give this version of this book a rating.  But I must, so I’d give it a 3/5, mostly because the story is good.  The price with the B&W is a total ripoff.  That said, I’d give the regular version a 4/5, so if you can get your hands on that one, read it instead.  But if you have a friend that’s really into the Mitford books, this would be a great Christmas gift with a nice box of tea.

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Either book satisfies the Christmas Book portion of the challenge.
Book 6/52.  (And yes, I know these reviews published out of order.)

Book Review – a Richard Russo two-fer

Title: The Whore’s Child
Title: Horsemen

Author: Richard Russo
Written: ?  Published: 2012
Format: Paperback

Note:  These stories were (I think) originally published in a greater volume, but have then been published alone, even though they’re really short.  On with the reviews.

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The Whore’s Child

Okay, The Whore’s Child is, um, interesting. First of all, the story, by my estimate, is about 7500 words long, making it the long end of a short story, dancing on the cusp of being a Novellette. I’ll call it a short story. And some how, this has managed to get published as a stand alone book.
The narrator of the story is a college professor who is only professor-ing because he managed to publish a book, even though the book has apparently not sold. And the main other character is a Nun. Capital N, Habit and Robes, Catholic Nun. Who is the cause of the title, herself being the child of a whore.

The story now goes downhill (somewhere around page 10), and starts in on the Nun writing and having her memoir and having it edited in class (it was a fiction writing class). In fact, that was the only conflict in the whole story. A page or two about the guy not knowing what to do about having her in the class without having signed up for it, without having taken the prerequisites, and without having a fiction project. yeah. That could have totally been not in the story and we wouldn’t have cared.

Oh, and the end of the nun’s story?  One simple question from a chick in the class and the question she has is answered and oh, lookie, there we go.  The only thing that gave her courage in her life and it’s all done like that.  (snap fingers here).  Gah.

My problem is that the story is, well, boring. I mean, stuff happens, but it happens mostly in narration/recap. And then that’s it. And while the sentences were technically written well (properly), and I commend his use of words being of the appropriate length, there’s nothing going for it on a ooh, fiction level. Yeah. Onto the next story.

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Horsemen

So, in Horsemen, our FMC, who is a writer (is this a trend with his stuff?  Because I really hate writers writing about writers) and college professor (ahem) has just caught a student cheating.  She also has a poem going through her head.  And we also flash back between grad school and now (some number of years later, although I can’t tell if its 2 or 10 the way its written.  I’m sure somewhere it gave the age of her son, but the timeline is a bit murky).

And as we go back and forth, we get a story of her bad marriage (current) and the day she left a blind guy in the rain to find his white cane under the bumper of her worst professor’s Mustang.  (wtf?)

And she keeps repeating lines from the poem.

So. This one, by my estimate, is at the end of the range for a Novelette (around 15k), and also published like a standalone book.  And, um.  Same thing as before.  The lines are technically right.   Punctuation is where it should be (although I found a mistake, but only one).  But there’s not that much gripping.  I actually put the story down for two days and had to remind myself what it was about because I couldn’t remember.

The end of the story felt rushed, too.  There was a distinct point about four pages from the end where I realized the author was wrapping up, then there were two page long paragraphs, and… a few things needed a bit of logic and review to link together (like the poem she kept reciting).  I think the story would have benefited from another thousand words.  But there was a little more going on than the last one, so it has something going for it there.


End result?
The Whore’s Child – 2 out of 5
Horsemen – 3 out of 5

Book Review – Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories Vol 1 by Naoko Takeuchi

Title:  Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories Vol. 1

Author/Illustrator:  Naoko Takeuchi

Format: Paperback

Publication: 2004

Translation: 2013

So it was while I was checking out a local comic book shop of a friend of mine that I went exploring the manga section of the store curious about purchasing a new series that I had heard about and watched to discover that there was a short stories collection of Sailor Moon that I had never heard of.  I was nearly jumping up and down with excitement.  If you have read any of my previous blogs you know that I am a fan of Sailor Moon and this was a must purchase for me (particularly when the store is having a buy one book get a second half off – more adventures and reviews to come because of this sale).

Just barely glancing into the book I was already excited to see that there were several stories that were Chibi-Usa centric.  I’ve been on a recent Chibi-Usa kick due to re-watching the series lately and doing a bit of role playing pertaining to her character.  When I opened the book I admit that I was not disappointed.  This book was as it says it is a group of short stories, things that you never see happen in the anime and of course not in the Manga.  It is kind of fun to think that our beloved Sailor Senshi have other adventures beyond just dealing with the typical Youma.  Of course, the monsters in this book were very much like the others in some ways but in others it was different as some of the villains possessed the bodies of others to do their dastardly deeds.

I think over all my favorite part of this manga as I read it was that it wasn’t focused on Sailor Moon.  I love her just as much as the next and she was featured in several stories and did even fight but it was other senshi that dealt with most of the problems on their own and that was kind of cool to me.  Of the stories I think my favorite was probably “Rei’s and Minako’s Girls School Battle” as it followed Mina being herself and being absolutely hilarious as she tries to fit in at Rei’s school in disguise.  While my least favorite was “The Secret Hammer Price Hall” which focused on two new characters who are supposedly the same age as Chibi-Usa but look to be much older.  They are fashion fanatics, focus on the material talk like valley girls and cosplay and Sailor Senshi.  It was kind of a long and slightly boring story as though out the story  Chibi-Usa had to explain to Hotaru and the readers a lot of the odd terms that these girls used such as Häagled which is their way of saying ate Häage-Dazs ice cream.  I kind of found this annoying having to read so many explanations.  I also didn’t appreciate the objectification of these two girls at the end of the story.  I accept the history behind Sailor Moon and who it is geared for in some respects but when it comes to very young girls like these two girls are supposed to be I have a bit of a problem with – even if they look to be a lot older than Chibi-Usa.

Over all, I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages as it was a good read but not something I would dub a must read – really this book is more for true fans of Sailor Moon which I like to claim I am even if I am a late adopter into the series.

Writer Wednesday – Patricia L. Beaudin

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m a born and raised Michigander. When I was in high school, I was into art and didn’t think I’d ever be able to write something decent. In my mid-twenties I decided to write down a story I had been thinking about for fun. The floodgates were opened with that story and I haven’t stopped writing since.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I love writing young adult. The stories always have some paranormal or fantasy elements.

…and what you’re working on right now.
A short story related to my debut novel, Being Human, called Sunlight. It takes place after Being Human and is in Jamie’s POV.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I remember being in love with Clifford The Big Red Dog books. I had them all and reread them all the time.

What are your three favorite books?
Just three? Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, Willow by Julia Hoban, and The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I only read one book at a time and usually from start to finish which means nothing gets done until I reach The End. I’m actually not reading anything right now. I have some stories by friends I need to beta.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
get lost in another world.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I don’t reread often, but only because I have so many new books I want to read.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Not likely. Goodreads has book recommendations and I have people recommend books and I rarely pick those books up. It’s not that I don’t think the books would interest me, it’s more I already have a giant TBR pile that I’m trying to get through.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I do it a good bit. If I read a book that I really like, I’ll review it on my blog and that’s pretty much me recommending the book.

What do you look for in a good book?
I never really thought about it. Usually if I pick up a book it’s because the cover caught my attention and the back sounded interesting enough to open.

Why do you write?
I write because it’s fun and I like creating. I’ve always been creative so it’s a good outlet for me.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I honestly can’t say. I’d probably just be working at a restaurant as a cook or baker, but those jobs wouldn’t be my passion.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
All over. Things I see or hear, other writers, my imagination.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
I can do things I didn’t think I could do. I always thought I was an awful writer, but I gave it a shot and it worked out. I know not everyone will like my stories, but they are good.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My grandma is beyond proud and tells me all the time. I figure my parents are too, but we don’t really discuss my writing too much. I’m not much of a talker, even with my family. Usually, I thinking, “Don’t ask me about my writing. Don’t ask me about my writing.” when I’m with family.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Not that I can think of.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Getting noticed. There are so many books being released each day now. Self publishing really opened the doors for writers, but it also means that you have to work twice as hard to get noticed.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
My first paperback of Being Human I forgot page numbers. When I was formatting for e-book, the guide I used said take out the page numbers, you don’t need them. Then when I started on the paperback, I forgot to add them back. It took me a few months to finally put the page numbers in because I thought I needed to buy a new ISBN number and I didn’t have the money. Turns out I didn’t.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I’d like to have a story in an anthology, but I’m horrible with deadlines. A friend asked me to be in one she was putting together and she said the deadline was Christmas. I couldn’t write a single thing for the story idea I thought up because all I could focus on was the deadline. Deadlines are my Kryptonite.

How do you deal with your fan base?
By being really excited. My fan base isn’t very big yet, so when I have a fan talk to me, I act like a fangirl and jump and squee. LOL

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
I’m a lot more anti-social than they think. Talking online is super easy because I’m hiding behind a computer screen, but if any of them met me in real life, I wouldn’t be half as chatty.

Anything else we should know?
This is the kind of question you don’t ask me. I always say nothing, even when I have a lot of new things happening in my life. I can’t help it though, I’m anti-social and an introvert. You have to drag me kicking and screaming and then I say things like, “This was so much fun. Let’s do it again.” Not even kidding. It has happened multiple times.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/patricialynne07
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/patricialynne07
Website – http://www.patricialynne.com

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