Category Archives: Book Review

Storytelling Done Wrong: The Silo Series

I want to start by pointing out that Hugh Howey’s Silo Series has been very successful, and for good reason. A lot of what he’s doing is exceptionally fine writing. I also want to say that the initial portion of the epic (Wool), is one of my favorite pieces of fiction, ever. That’s precisely why I’m being so harsh in calling this Storytelling-Done-Wrong. When I read “Wool” it was the first time I’d ever truly identified with a main character. Juliette, an ordinary, working-class person will probably always be my very favorite lead character. I read “Wool” with the sort of fascination that I’ve had for under a dozen novels in the course of a lifetime full of reading. It was one of the most compelling things I’ve ever read. Continue reading

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Two Reviews on Writing-Revising books

When my self-imposed rough-draft deadline whooshed past (in August) and then again (with the extended deadline, in September) I decided it was time to consult others’ advice on the matter of getting things finished. I read Rachel’s Aaron’s “2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love” and am following her advice on making editing a smoother and more thorough process. I went on to read Chris Fox’s “5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter” and was pleased with the word-tracker Excel spreadsheet included with it. Ever the skeptic (I’m more a messy-notecard writer) I tried his ‘writing sprint’ exercise and logged my efforts accordingly. I was really happy to see that it helped my word count considerably. While the real trick to increased word count is staying focused, it can really help to have specific exercises aimed at improving one’s focus. Continue reading

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My Thoughts on Dead-Dog Children’s Fiction

When I was in second grade, the teacher read us “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. Maybe it was part of that year’s curriculum. Or maybe she just hated us. Maybe she thought that a few of us had reached the ripe old age of 7 without losing enough grandparents, getting punched enough on the playground, or that we weren’t spending enough nights lying awake with terror at what little we understood of the Cold War. Perhaps, she thought, “Where the Red Fern Grows” would round out the character building we were surely missing out on. Continue reading

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Audible, a review

I’ve been hearing commercials, mostly on various podcasts, for Audible for years now. Seriously. Years. And it didn’t really snag my interest until a few weeks ago. The basic spiel is that you pay $15 every month in exchange for an audiobook. Now, what’s obvious to the routine purchaser of audiobooks, is that that’s a good deal. Have you priced audiobooks lately? Any typical novel can cost between $20 and $30. A very long novel can run anywhere from $30 to $50. If you normally buy an audiobook every month, Audible’s an excellent idea. I, however, normally never bought any. For some reason I thought reading only ‘counted’ if I actually read the words myself. Having them read to me by a professional narrator seemed…somehow like cheating, as far as reading goes. (I’m not going to try to make that make sense.) Continue reading

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Audio Classics (for the Classics-Resistant)

My relationship with classical literature is tenuous and recalcitrant. Friends occasionally try to engage me on the great works I should have read, only to ask, mystified, “what kind of English major were you?” Well. I’ll be honest. I was the kind of English major who found the classical style of writing about as familiar and appealing as the corsets and straight-last shoes people wore when they penned their masterpieces. A voracious reader since childhood, I dreaded each new semester’s syllabi, rife with things that promised to be a hard slog at best. (Since high school, I have been assigned to read The Faerie Queene no less than five times. I grind my teeth just thinking about it and, yet, will confess: I have never actually read it. I managed to pass every pop quiz and test by taking good notes from the lectures.) I believe classical literature has its merits but I also believe teachers, students, and casual readers should all consider that writing style has an impact on our ability to understand and enjoy a written work. Reading the classics can be as challenging as if we were to dress in period costume, perch on badly made wooden benches in drafty, uninsulated buildings, and study those pages by candlelight. Continue reading

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Goodreads

For anyone new to Goodreads someone once described it to me as “like Facebook without all the dickery, and it’s mostly just for book-lovers.” I suppose that’s just about the best way to sum it up. Instead of finding out my acquaintances’  angst-ridden political views, I can log on to Goodreads and find out what my friends are reading, check out book reviews, and get updates on book-related blogs. It’s not social-networking so much as book-networking, and that’s freaking awesome.  Continue reading

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Neverwhere (kind of a book review)

A decade ago I read Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. For the first – and, I increasingly suspect, only – time in my life, when I reached the last page I turned back to the first one and started rereading it immediately. I loved the characters, the setting, the adventure, the sense of history intertwined with myth. I loved something woven through it all but it took me ten years to figure out what that something was. Continue reading

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