The story began about 30% of the way through. It started out in a way that wasThe protagonist in this story reminded me of an old song by Johnny Cash
The story began about 30% of the way through. It started out in a way that was painful to read because the moment was long, drawn out, redundant and lost my interest after the first page. Also, The Phrase that I grew to hate started on the first page. I continued to see The Phrase, repeated on every page, until about the 30% mark. Then The Phrase was thankfully abandoned, or maybe I had become so numb to it that my eyes just skipped it. In any case, when The Phrase resurfaced towards the end, I sprinted through the rest of the novella, just to avoid a rehash of my frustration. The Phrase was....well. I just can't write it. Nothing is offensive about The Phrase in itself, and I could deal with poetic license to use it with some repetition, but, for me, it was too much. I grew to hate reading it, which tainted my view of the story. Despite the repetition of The Phrase, the scarce examples of why The Phrase came about, didn't live up to the over-emphasis of The Phrase.
Too much repetition - in general. That's what bugged me throughout the story. Arses tightening. Anal rape. Enough already. At some point, the reader gets it. Also, too many long passages of reflection, which instead of going deep, were reiterations--ten ways of writing the same emotion is hard to read after awhile. I wish there had been more story telling that allowed emotional space to get to know the characters.
If all that were fixed, I think I could have enjoyed it more. Some parts were humorous, and I rooted for Jossie. I liked the relationship between a prince and a sword-maker's son. However, I didn't buy that the boy could become a martial expert in the manner it was accomplished. It didn't ring true for me. ...more
I appreciated many things about Skye's Lure. The pacing, characters, story arc, etc were appropriate for a MG/YA story. The retelling of fairy tales cI appreciated many things about Skye's Lure. The pacing, characters, story arc, etc were appropriate for a MG/YA story. The retelling of fairy tales can be fun to explore, especially when they are brought to modern times. Thus, I think many young readers will enjoy reading it.
To dive a little deeper though, this could have been great. While a mermaid falling in love with a land lubber isn't new, what Skye really wants are legs and feet. In fact, the romantic element detracts from what is unique about the story--which is to long for something desperately, then to be given a taste of what you desire, only, not really. If she were a bit more of a heroine, perhaps she'd try harder---confront the Sea King, or something. It was a cruel act on his part after all. I'm being cryptic so as not to spoil the plot.
As for the romance, I had trouble rooting for a man who would kidnap a mermaid and keep her against her will. Sure, he takes care of her and finally repents, but he shouldn't have gotten off the hook so easily. The author tried to redeem their love through some offers of self-sacrifice at the end, but the gentleman was never redeemed in my eyes.
So---lots of interesting moments here. The prose was competent and at an appropriate level for MG/YA, but the magic that would have made this story really special just wasn't there for me--not in this novella, but perhaps in Ms. Leya's next one........more
Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemingway
I once took a class in Shakespearean acting. I had never taken an acting class, but t Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemingway
I once took a class in Shakespearean acting. I had never taken an acting class, but the bug bit me years before after I performed in a couple plays in high school--so I thought, why not?
The instructor was a classically trained Shakespearean actor. Everyone in the class had to audition for a seat so we all felt a bit smug to be in attendance. First off, our instructor asked each of us read a short verse from Hamlet. As we did so, one after the other, he paced up and down the aisle. Only one person in the group sounded very good. We applauded the guy. The instructor, however, never appeared pleased. In fact, exasperation would be a more appropriate description of his demeanor.
Nonetheless, he taught the class well and it provided me with a deeper appreciation for Shakespeare. His greatest gift, however, was his assessment of the class after that first reading. He said, "All of you here are like students in class for brain surgery when you haven't even completed medical school." Those words hurt, but they taught me that if I'm serious about a subject, the best course is to master the fundamentals first.
So, if you've read this far, you might be wondering what this has to do with a book review. It's not my job to summarize all the problems with My Abigail, so I'm not going to try. I will say that Mr. Kummer wrote passages and made observations that led me to think he has great potential. My honest assessment of the novel is that it needs a lot more work before it deserves to be on stage. This is, of course, only my opinion. I'm still in the writing equivalent of medical school.
Not only as a novelist, but as an avid reader, I maintain that the novel is yet uncooked. I encourage the author to keep at it. He's already way ahead of most people who aspire to write novels.
I enjoy literary fiction only partly due to its high standard of writing. In The New Book, the reader will find excellent prose, including sentence flI enjoy literary fiction only partly due to its high standard of writing. In The New Book, the reader will find excellent prose, including sentence flow, lexicon, and clarity. Allie Cresswell is an artist with words, which I find refreshing because many modern works appear to be written without real care to the language, and if they are, the writer has not yet developed beyond purple prose. Ms. Cresswell is well beyond that; her prose is highly palatable.
My favorite literary writers include Virginia Woolf, as well as Cormac McCarthy. In both, the reader can feel a depth of emotion echo in descriptions that build and build through every scene until it causes a shift in the reader's perspective. I love that. The topic doesn't always have to be social or political, but usually provides some insight into the human condition. For me, the very best will speak in the language of the heart.
The New Book has moments like that. Particularly, the story of Eleanor Rigby and the vicar. Others varied on hitting the mark for me. The author's review of The French Lieutenant’s Woman made me want to read that novel immediately.
As I reflect on The New Book in entirety, I was disappointed in that it felt incohesive. It seemed like random bits from the author's writing drawer. While I enjoyed many of the stories, the addition of a review and excerpts from novels put me on a different track---and then I was sent into a memoir that could have been expanded to stand on its own.
To rate work highly, I need to see an underlying bit of magical thread that shows a master weaver behind the tapestry. Without that, while the bits are interesting, I feel like I've been listening to a soprano ran through the musical scales--they sound fantastic, but food for the soul comes from the entire arc of the performance. Perhaps I should read one of the author's novels.....hmmmm....more
I read this out of curiosity given that Binder was one of the first to write about a sympathetic robot, and that his story influenced Isaac Asimov. AsI read this out of curiosity given that Binder was one of the first to write about a sympathetic robot, and that his story influenced Isaac Asimov. Asimov wrote: "It certainly caught my attention. Two months after I read it, I began 'Robbie', about a sympathetic robot, and that was the start of my positronic robot series. Eleven years later, when nine of my robot stories were collected into a book, the publisher named the collection I, Robot over my objections. My book is now the more famous, but Otto's story was there first."
As a story, it was okay. I read Asimov immediately after and agree that Asimov's is much better. ....more
Although I've not read the first two installments of The Sword of Light series, I was able to enjoy the story in Soul Blade. This is due to sprinklingAlthough I've not read the first two installments of The Sword of Light series, I was able to enjoy the story in Soul Blade. This is due to sprinklings of backstory during the first 20% or so, which does involve a bit more 'telling' than 'showing' in the prose than I like, but the intermingled actions and descriptions were enough to keep up the pace. Some of the prose bordered on purple, other descriptions were spot on with evocative visuals.
Another praise-worthy aspect was the dominance of earnest and noble characters. One doesn't see straightforward heroes as much these days. Modern writers tend to play in gray areas, for both protagonists and villains. Although Hodges gives his villain a backstory, the motivations and goals of his protagonists are clear.
My primary difficulty with the story was the number of primary characters. Their similarities were such that I'd think I was reading about one, then the name of the character could be mentioned and I was jarred out of the story with the realization that I had another character in mind. This may be my fault since i generally read at night when my mind is tired. In summary, I recommend this novel to fantasy lovers, but I'd suggest they start at the beginning of the series. ...more
While reading this novel, I realized that I have a compartment in my mind for Christianity and another for fantasy stories involving dragons and the lWhile reading this novel, I realized that I have a compartment in my mind for Christianity and another for fantasy stories involving dragons and the like. Wrong, of course. Medieval Christian art and symbolism often depict unicorn and dragons and griffons. Cymri draws upon the richness of that world and thrusts it into modern life. She uses quite a bit of fantasy lore to flesh out details of a parallel world that is bridged with ours, where clergy, police, and citizens are authorized to pass between and solve the predictable squabbles akin to interactions between foreign countries. I enjoyed this world and its mixing. The characters were fun and kept from being caricatures, largely due to real emotions and situations, even if those situations involved fantastical elements. My favorite characters were a dragon, Raven, the star-crossed love interest of Penny White and Morey, a griffon. Their dialogue had a sharp wit that often made me laugh out loud. If I were to rank the least interesting aspect, I'd have to say the presence of vampires didn't seem necessary, and the snail shark, while unique, gave a cartoon quality to the novel that wasn't quite in line with the other characters. The snail shark was cute, though.
There are touches of theological discourse, but Cymri delivers those with a deft hand. Those topics are relevant to the main character, and the story, and never fall into sermonizing. References to drinking and Dr. Who were far more laborious in places. All in all, a recommended read for those who enjoy fantasies, as I do, on these dreary winter evenings. ...more
This MG/YA novel will appeal to budding sci-fi fans. The main characters are Vicki, young girl raised by a loving family, and an AI fugitive. They forThis MG/YA novel will appeal to budding sci-fi fans. The main characters are Vicki, young girl raised by a loving family, and an AI fugitive. They form a friendship where the AI, Halle (a bow to the famous Hal) acts as a kind of guardian angle for Vicki as her life is threatened by the darker sides of the adult world.
The forces in the story are aligned between good (Halle, Vicki, her family), evil (government, scientists), and evil's pawns (doctors, a lone detective) who are ineffective against the evil forces who provide paychecks. Halle is the true hero, while Vicki is the modern version of a damsel-in-distress. A traditional damsel would simply lie on the railroad ties and wait for the hero. Vicki takes initiative and provides some protection for Halle. Modern damsels are more interesting than their predecessors, yet I would have enjoyed Vicki more if she hadn't required so much assistance from Halle. Then again, everyone can't be Katniss.
Topics in the story include social responses to biotech advances that could result in super-humans, the threat of AIs that could prove superior to humans, the invasion of government into people's lives, moral choices vs. job performance, and foundations of friendship. There are others, but this list hints at the ambitious agenda.
While I believe this story brings up interesting topics, it does not explore or enlighten those topics in depth. Reading, though, is a process by which our minds are stretched and enriched. This novel could start the journey by raising issues in an entertaining fashion. For that reason, I hope books like these spark interest and further reading about the social issues that technological advances bring to the table. ...more
Good read for folks who enjoy YA fantasies. Standards of the genre are present--Lorin, the young protagonist with special abilities is forced into a cGood read for folks who enjoy YA fantasies. Standards of the genre are present--Lorin, the young protagonist with special abilities is forced into a challenging quest when all she wants is to be normal. The first 15% is setup, and a bit slow, but picks up when Lorin's brother is kidnapped by monsters. Lorin's mother is the foil, her father is no help at all, and her siblings are loving. The more interesting characters are her grandmother and Uncle Alfred, who provided her with the special genes, and guidance to alternate worlds filled with mythical beings and danger enough to keep the rest of the story lively.
The prose has been edited, is suitable for YA and delivers the story effectively. There is a slight poke at the close-mindedness of religious folks, with Lorin's mother leading the front of obnoxiousness. The land of legends and myths hold dearer truths, and open the reader to threads of multiple existences, parallel universes, and fantastical wonders. Very fine effort for a debut novel. ...more
Interesting character-driven story that captured my interest not only through content, but expertly applied craft. While there are plenty of novels thInteresting character-driven story that captured my interest not only through content, but expertly applied craft. While there are plenty of novels that interweave two or more time periods, Ms. Russell accomplished a task which is seldom achieved--a point in the novel when I recognized the fate of characters whom I had grown to appreciate--my heartstrings seldom have been plucked so well. A month after finishing this novel, I'm still dwelling on the mechanics of that technique, as well as the story and characters. While it could have taken place on Earth, I appreciated the absolute isolation of humans trapped on another world, truly vulnerable as sparrows. The evolution of faith, however, is taken to its logical conclusion, which in itself, is one accessible everyday on this world. ...more