Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tor Free Shorts Challenge + Free Amazon Story

I don't know if there is a Tor Free Shorts Challenge, but I'm all up for dominating this fun collection of imaginative stories.  Tor Shorts have some of the most simple, but elaborate story lines spanning into a small amount of pages. I'm embarking on my journey to conquer these beautiful stories.The best thing is that these stories are free! FREE! Something so awesome being free is just an absolute treasure trove. These stories are short and can usually be read within 5-30 minutes and that's such an awesome thing!  If you are interested in taking on the Tor collection, let me know!
So far I've read these stories:
    Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski- 5 stars because this story is set in the Winner's Curse world with an excellent fairy tale story.
    The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because I love Bardugo and this story was A+.
    Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Glass- 4.5 stars because the story's transitions were beautifully done, but I wanted more. 
    Ponies by Kij Johnson- 4 stars because it was super creepy.
    Among the Thorns by Veronica Schanoes- 3 stars because it was sick and creepy, but I wanted more.
    The Log Goblin by Brian Staveley

I've read a quite a few since I last talked about this challenge, so I'm going to be reviewing four Tor shorts!

Orphan Pirates of the Spanish Main by Dennis Danvers

1.5 stars

This Tor Short is super weird. I like weird and most of the time bask in the strange, but this weird plot line has no concrete path. This story follows two brothers who are very old in age; what should be the weirdest thing is that their parents were aliens, but these two plan on going to the abyss- the place their parents died. The premise is promising because alien parents sound awesome, but the writing is choppy and doesn't leave me wanting more. In fact, I wanted this super short read to be quickly over because it was doing nothing for me. This sadly isn't a Tor Short I'm quick to recommend.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.5

Plotastic Scale: 1.25

Cover Thoughts: I love the design of the cover, but it's the only thing this short has to offer.
18166510All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead by Dennis Danvers

5 stars
This story... it is infused with heavy doses of magical realism and an ambiguous ending that left me squealing with happiness. This is the kind of story that makes reading short stories fun and rewarding. This was an absolutely stunning piece of work. I've read another Tor Short by Danvers and was very unimpressed, but this one was absolutely magnanimous in writing and story style.

The story follows Maggie, the crazy woman living on the mountain and she is having a snake problem. Enter a mysterious snake handler that seems to be otherworldly and this beautiful tale is born. All aspects- from the characters, to the pacing, to the writing- felt like a finely woven story that flowed from one point to another. This is one of my favorite shorts so far!

Character Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover; even if it's not my favorite Tor illustration it's beautiful.
17790188The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo

5 stars
This free Tor short is considered to be apart of the Grisha trilogy, but you don't have to read the books for this story to be enjoyable. It's a simple folklore tale in a vast fantasy world. I always enjoy stories of fantasy setting within fantasies. It's a weird type of inception in storytelling that if done right becomes a highlight of the writer. Bardugo definitely has the ability to build worlds within worlds and make them very enjoyable. This isn't really a fantasy story, but more of a cautionary tale about thinking too much of yourself.

The fox is known for being clever. He has outsmarted creatures since leaving the womb and when a hunter and his sister donned in animal pelts begin to kill off beloved friends the fox takes it upon himself to save the forest. It's a simple story and not incredibly imaginative, but Bardugo's writing style makes it feel like the most creative story around. She is a fantastic storyteller and I definitely recommend picking up this short! It won't disappoint.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5

Villain Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: Wolf in a wolf's skin? I love this cover so much. It's one of my favorites!
20818790  Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo

2.6 in the Grisha trilogy

4.25 stars

Little Knife is a Tor Free Short that falls in the mythology within the Grisha trilogy. The story follows Yeva, a girl so beautiful that the rumors of her beauty give no true physical description because it always changes. Yeva's father produces the flour that makes the town so popular and after concocting a scheme for Yeva to marry the prince, he sets a task that will also rid the trees so he can plant more flour. Seymon, a water Grisha, hears the task and with the help of the river he succeeds. The Duke isn't happy and continues to set tasks for the suitors to win Yeva's heart.

I'm quite the fan of folklore set in fantasy worlds and this a great addition to Bardugo's fairy tale stories. I definitely enjoyed the story of Little Knife and felt that it was a strong representation of Bardugo's writing abilities. She's an incredibly strong writer, but this one felt a little lacking in comparison to the other Tor Shorts that she has written. At her weakest, she is still a very strong author in YA fantasy and she's an author that I've grown to love.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.5

This story doesn't really have fleshed out characters because it takes on the role of being a story with a moral. Stories with morals as the central focus usually lack in character development and this story definitely doesn't have fleshed out character development.

Character Scale: 3.5

The Villain- I definitely enjoyed the villainous undertones that characters like the Duke, Seymon, and Little Knife depicted. All of the villains were not evil, but people who were selfish. Little Knife could be seen as the hero for Yeva, but he was the villain to the town and that's incredibly fascinating.

Villain Scale: 5

I definitely recommend checking out this Tor Short. It's free and a great story that is definitely worth taking the time reading. I continue to be an avid lover of these Tor Shorts and this is one I stand behind.

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: Oh, how I adore these illustrations. They are so visually stunning.
I'm a huge fan of Tor Shorts and I'm continuing to find some really amazing ones! I also have one free Amazon short story to review, so I'll just drop it right down below!
Gone by Elena Dillon

Prequel to Breathe

2 stars

I read Breathe a while back and saw that the prequel followed the sister who was kidnapped and murdered by her stalker. I was very intrigued by this and I'm trying to clean out my kindle so I decided to give this a quick read. The story follows Daisy who loves to volunteer at the NICU and Trane, the brooding anti-social misfit at the school. This story focuses more on the dynamic of Trane and Daisy becoming friends instead of her being stalked, kidnapped, and murdered.

I'm not disappointed with the direction that the short story decided to take, but I'm not overtly impressed either. The story is kind of depressing, but I also didn't feel a strong emotional attachment to the overarching layers of the plot. It felt kind of dry and unemotional content wise.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 2.5

The characters are bare bones and aren't incredibly fleshed out or developed upon. I felt more like I was watching two side characters on Grey's Anatomy that I liked watching, but wouldn't want to see for more than a few minutes within an episode.

Character Scale: 2

The fact that the stalking isn't really emphasized on being a stalker kind of annoys me, but I can also see how Daisy thought it may have been Trane.

Villain Scale: 1

Overall, I'm not entirely impressed by this short story. I did enjoy it more than Breathe. I personally don't think psychological thrillers are Dillon's strong suit and she should probably stick more to the contemporary genre since she focuses more on relationships that development of psychology and characters.

Plotastic Scale: 2

Cover Thoughts: I kind of like the smoke, but I'm not impressed or really into it.
I'm kind of obsessed with short stories at the moment. Probably because I can read them and feel accomplished in my free time. Have you read any of these stories? Let me know your thoughts down below in the comments! 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Summer Book Haul Part 3

 Hi, everyone! Here's the third part of my summer book haul! I'm hoping to film more videos and write reviews, but my course load is very heavy right now. I'm going to keep trying to make free time if possible to do some blogging and filming because I miss it so much. Writing and filming has always been a fun outlet for me to de-stress and express my creativity and feelings/thoughts on novels. I'm excited to keep this blog alive throughout my college years and hope to see it expand and come to life as I keep evolving!
The Video:

The Books:
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      13601629 25773811 9723667
 Seven more books to add to my very large summer library expansion. I honestly don't regret it. Since I've finished this video, I've read Valley of the Dolls, And Then There Were None, and The Girl on the Train. I'm happy that I've been reading the novels I've bought recently and I hope to continue the trend!

Have you read any of these books? If so did you enjoy them? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Twilght Zone: The Shadow

The Twilight Zone: The Shadow by David Avallone

4 stars

Anyone who knows me pretty well knows that I have a secret obsession with the Twilight Zone. I love to watch the marathons that play on TV on the Fourth of July and if I get up early enough in the morning I watch a few of the timeless episodes. Hell, I even went on the Tower of Terror at Disney just because I love Rod Serling as a narrator and wanted to experience the ride for myself (I'm never getting on it again). Naturally when I saw this was available on Netgalley I hit that green button and I don't regret it. Not only did this feed my love for the Twilight Zone, but it also introduced me to a pretty fascinating storyline. A story that I think Rod Serling would have loved to have on his show because it captured the essence of what lurks within the Twilight Zone.

The story is seemingly simple enough a superhero/vigilante under the alias of the Shadow has just shot multiple people in a Nazis American rally. His friend (and possible lover?), Margo, implies that he has lost his humanity and the man that he is under the mask. After an accident, the Shadow wakes up in alternate universes that question the authenticity of the shadow. It's a complex outline that fits the Twlight Zone format quite brilliantly and for that alone, I would give this novel 5 stars.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

But just because it's Twilight Zone inspired doesn't mean that it can completely save the story. I highly enjoyed the story, but it's not a favorite or anything remarkable. I did love the Nazis American concept, the Justice theme, but the characters felt a little distant. I like the Shadow, but I don't care about the Shadow and don't see myself ever wanting to return to his world.

Character Scale: 3

The art is the best. I do like the noir, crime style because it's very different. It felt very retro and I think that matched up excellently with the Twilight Zone because it's a black and white show, so it makes to have art reflective of the era. I'm just not totally in love with, but the idea is brilliant.

Art Scale: 3.75

Overall, I highly recommend checking this one out if you are a fan of The Twilight Zone because it's a great edition to this world and something i think fans, like me, will enjoy!

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: I love the Twilight Zone so I'm digging this cover.

Thanks you, Netgalley and Dynamite Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Are you obsessed with the Twilight Zone? Let me know down below in the comments!

Short Stories That I Enjoyed in the Last Two Weeks

Hey, everyone! I've been away for a while. I moved into my apartment, started my intern teaching tenth graders at a local high school, d...