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A book about a young athlete's battle with cancer.
Book Reviews

A Heartbreaking Real-Life Cancer Story

Cancer sucks.

Cancer

This week’s book is about a young man who was taken too soon. Before we begin, I have a few confessions to make.

  1. I had never heard of this athlete prior to reading this book.
  2. I am not this book’s target audience.
  3. This review will contain affiliate links, and I receive a small commission from any purchases made through them.

Still with me? Great.

The Target Audience for This Heartbreaking Cancer Story

As I stated in number 2 above, this book wasn’t aimed at me. I know next to nothing about most sports. I have little to no experience with sports and am not nor have I ever been athletic in any way, shape, or form. Sports don’t connect to me on the same deep, emotional level that it can with some people. I respect the discipline, training, strength, and planning that goes into them, but I can’t personally relate. If you’re a huge sports fan, this book may resonate much more strongly with you.

Speaking of sports, hunting and fishing are involved. I respect peoples’ right to hunt for food and sport, but I’m an animal-loving vegetarian. The hunting scenes simply didn’t speak to me. Again, this story may appeal more to readers with experience tracking live game.

Finally, this story will really connect with religious people, particularly Christians and especially Catholics. There are several mentions of the bible and how personal faith helped the athlete and his family navigate their hardships. Though I appreciate that religion provided them with this positive support, I could not relate to this on a personal level. I believe Christian readers will find this book inspiring and even uplifting at times.

He Was Picked

I Was Picked: The John Challis Story, by Howard Shapiro is a deep dive into the life of John Challis. John was only in high school when he was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer. He fought back with a vengeance through sports and by spreading his message of courage and hope. This book contains photos of John’s journey as well as excerpts from interviews with his family and friends. Shapiro clearly segments each section, grouping interviews and data points together by theme. He conducted an incredible amount of research.

Even though I’m not the target audience, there is something about John’s message that applies to everyone. He reminds us that life is short. And through this book, he also urges us to live life to the fullest.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg · The Adventures of Technicality Man · When the Future Comes Too Soon · Love is Love · The Bear · Dragon God · Balfair’s Confinement · Don Quixote & Candide Seek Truth, Justice, and El Dorado in the Digital Age · Shoebox Funeral · The Plainview Lottery · The Lady Who Loved Lightning · Loreless · Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better

creative
This Writer Can't Draw

Be Creative!

Are you creative?

creative

Welcome back! Hope your Taco Tuesday is off to a great start.

Before I get into the guts of this article, I wanted to give you a brief update on our Uninvited Guest situation. It appears that one mouse may actually be many mice. And no manner of live trap has been able to catch them. I’ve used seeds and sweets and peanut butter, all to no avail. Worse yet, they’ve begun to taunt Gizmo, our lovable and awkward bearded dragon. So, I’ve passed the issue onto my partner. And, sadly, I won’t be sharing any pictures with you of adorable mice. (As much as I really, really wanted to.)

Anyway, on to the funny stuff, yeah?

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re working on a new project. A story, poem, painting, song, whatever. And the beginning stages of creating that thing is super energizing. The new ideas are shiny. It’s like a romance or a vacation to a new country. Everything is exciting and fresh.

But you’re going to stick to it. You’re committing to this ONE project and giving it your all. And you’re totally not going to get distracted by the ten thousand shiny new ideas lying in wait. Nuh-uh. Not even that one over there. The super squiggly one with the cool shaped wings. Nope. Not. Gonna. Cave.

And then, of course, you slip a teeny tiny bit. But the idea was too awesome to pass up. It was just a fling. You tell your project the new idea didn’t mean anything. You recommit. And the cycle continues.

Now, imagine a different scenario. You aren’t working on any projects. No, you’re out in the world enjoying your day. And suddenly, somebody ambushes you. They need creative ideas from you, and they need them right now! If you’re anything like me, that situation looks a little like this.

Be Creative!

creative blank

Fun fact: this also happens when somebody asks me to say something random in Spanish. Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh, hola?

Did You Miss Some Comics?

Cheesy Writing Montage  · Things I Do While Writing  · Bookworm Problems  · How to Words  · Changing Perspective  · Focused · The Dream · Writing Workshop · Squirrel! · Spelling · Reading Time · The Writer Life · Mark Your Place · Bad News · Reaction · The Stranger Effect · Typing · Work · Funny Face · Progress? · Circling the Issue · Mammals Are Weird · Heat Wave · Great Ideas · Look Who’s Drawing Now · What the Stomach Wants · Caffeine Crash · Hard Work · Typos · Bad News · Uninvited Guest


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Break up
Book Reviews

Breakup Stories

A breakup is never easy.

Breakup

If you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship before, odds are you’ve experienced a moment where things weren’t quite right. Sometimes such kinks can be worked out, but sometimes a relationship is doomed to end. And there are acceptable ways to breakup a relationship, and there are some not so great ways to do it. This week’s book is a collection of personal breakup stories submitted to artist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell.

The concept for the book began after Campbell suffered a heartbreak of her own. She realized that drawing cartoons about the situation helped to cheer her up. So, she decided to gather other people’s stories of romantic woe and illustrate them, as well. The result, was this book. (Also, links after this point are affiliate links which help support my blog.)

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better is an extremely quick read. Definitely great for anyone who set up an absurdly high Goodreads challenge for themselves this year (like  I did) and needs to get caught up. The stories are brief, and the accompanying cartoons are cute.

Some of the accounts are told from the person who made the terrible breakup decision, which is something I wasn’t expecting as a reader. And some stories fly by so fast, it’s difficult to feel engaged with the accompanying emotions. However, this may be a therapeutic read for anyone currently dealing with romance-related heartache.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg · The Adventures of Technicality Man · When the Future Comes Too Soon · Love is Love · The Bear · Dragon God · Balfair’s Confinement · Don Quixote & Candide Seek Truth, Justice, and El Dorado in the Digital Age · Shoebox Funeral · The Plainview Lottery · The Lady Who Loved Lightning · Loreless

uninvited guest
This Writer Can't Draw

Uninvited Guest

Don’t you hate it when you get an uninvited guest?

uninvited guest
Life is an adventure. It’s always throwing curveballs at you even though it knows full well you don’t play sports ever since that incident in kickball. This week’s surprise came in the form of a flash out of the corner of my eye.

What was that?!

It was a super fast moving shadow, but I couldn’t get my brain to process what it saw. Did I make it up? Did I need a nap?

But then it happened again, a flash moving in the opposite direction!

That’s when I knew we either had a ginormous radioactive roach in the apartment or a Speedy Gonzalez.

After a bit more observation, it turned out to be the latter. Which is a big problem because I freaking love mice. The ears. The whiskers. The teeny tiny hands. *implodes*

 

The trap hasn’t worked yet, but I’m ever hopeful. It’s also weird how this whole trying-to-catch-an-animal thing has tapped into a deep part of my hindbrain. I’m like in full-on animal-tracking mode. What is it thinking? Where is it pooping? What is it chewing? And please to bees don’t let it die inside our walls and stink up the whole apartment. Sometimes my reactions seem a little silly, hence this week’s comic.

Uninvited Guest

 

comic

In my defense, the water’s next to the trap and the food is in it. Will I catch it? Stay tuned to find out.

Did You Miss Some Comics?

Cheesy Writing Montage  · Things I Do While Writing  · Bookworm Problems  · How to Words  · Changing Perspective  · Focused · The Dream · Writing Workshop · Squirrel! · Spelling · Reading Time · The Writer Life · Mark Your Place · Bad News · Reaction · The Stranger Effect · Typing · Work · Funny Face · Progress? · Circling the Issue · Mammals Are Weird · Heat Wave · Great Ideas · Look Who’s Drawing Now · What the Stomach Wants · Caffeine Crash · Hard Work · Typos · Bad News


Free to Share, Not to Sell

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

post images
Writing Tips

Stress Free Images for Blog Posts

Does the idea of finding images for your blog posts give you a headache? If so, keep reading.
post images
Serious blogging is a lot of hard work. There’s SEO, keyword research, data research, discovering effective ways of driving traffic to your site, writing, scheduling, editing, you name it. But there’s another vital element that may or may not be in your personal wheelhouse: image creation.

Why Images Are Important

The majority of people are sighted and highly visual. Images tell a story, set a mood, and reinforce your brand. They help create an emotional context that connects to your readers. And it helps them remember you, too. Most people only remember 10% of what they hear, but images bring the recall rate up to 65%. Plus, posts with images are more likely to be liked and shared across a wide range of social media platforms.

Social Media

Free and Easy Resources for Creating Images

The good news is that there are a lot of great free tools out there for bloggers. Here are the ones I use every day.

Canva

I’ve been using Canva since way back in my teaching days. Registration is free and can be done by linking your Facebook or Google Plus accounts or simply by using your email. Once you’ve registered, you have access to a host of free templates, images, illustrations, fonts, and other elements. There’s a Pro subscription plan available for those looking for even more access, and there are design elements and images available for a $1USD fee.

Gratisography

Gratisography

No registration required, just download and go. These weird and wacky images are 100% copyright free with no attribution requirement. You can read the full terms of use here.

Unsplash

 

Unsplash

Gorgeous photographs with zero copyright and attribution restrictions. You don’t have to register to download photos, but you can if you’d like to follow certain photographers. You can search pics by keyword or theme. Full info on their use policy here.

Stocksnap.io

StockSnap.io

Great images for travel, lifestyle, and food bloggers. You don’t have to register to download photographs. And all their pics are listed under the creative commons license listed here.

SplitShire

SplitShire

Nearly 900 photos as of this posting. You can search by keyword or category. No registration required. Pictures can be used as is or modified. More on their terms of use here.

Pixabay

Pixabay

This site has photographs, illustrations, digital artwork, AND vector images. Hands down, I use this site the most. Most images are free of copyright restrictions but that may vary per image so be sure to read a pic’s terms of use before downloading. You don’t have to register with Pixabay, but non-registered visitors have to complete a captcha code each time they download an image. Registration is free.

Why Getting a Photograph is Only Half the Battle

battle

So, you’ve found the perfect photo for your blog post. It’s copyright free so you don’t have to worry about getting sideswiped by legal issues. And that’s a great start! But have you noticed that other professional bloggers incorporate text into their featured images? There’s a really good reason for that.

See, incorporating text into an image allows you to include a call to action, or something you’re inviting people to do. And once you have an image like that, you can share it on just about any social media site and— you guessed it— bring traffic back to your blog.

Then, there’s Pinterest. Everyone in serious blogging circles has heard about Pinterest and how it can do wonders for increasing traffic. I was skeptical at first, too, but after doing some research I decided to try it out. And I’ve definitely seen an uptick in my traffic. However, in order to get going and growing via Pinterest, you have to give people something to pin. A standard stock photo won’t quite do the trick. There is a process for optimizing your Pinterest profile and pinning strategy to drive up traffic (and lots of amazing blogs out there have free tutorials on how to do this). But you’ve also got to have images that are optimized for pinning.

What To Do If You Don’t “Get” Visual Design And Words Like Vector Stress You Out

Take a deep breath. Use the free resources above. Do what you can. Ask others for their advice and opinions. Test drive different images with your blogging friends.

And, if all else fails, you can take advantage of my custom image-creation services.

Book Reviews

Cultural Fiction About a Man Discovering His Roots

Cultural fiction fresh from Australia.

cultural fiction

This week’s book was a refreshing change from last week’s read. I absolutely fell in love with this story and the incredible research and respect that went into making it. Though this isn’t an own voices book, PJ Whittlesea went to great lengths to treat the people in his story with deference. Obviously, I’m totally recommending this book. (Also, I’ve included affiliate links after this point that help support my blog.)

Loreless, by PJ Whittlsea, was a pleasure to read. The narrative follows Billy, a man of Australian indigenous decent raised in the city with no knowledge of his family’s traditional beliefs, as he gets lost in the desert only to find his true home. Written in third person, the structure of the novel interleaves Billy’s present experience with those of his ancestors. The ancestor chapters are presented chronologically starting with the most recent and working their way back. The interplay between the past and present chapters is haunting and lovely.

This story does contain a rape scene. But, Whittlesea handles it with incredible care, respect, and a sense of justice for the victim. It isn’t another case of highly-detailed shock-value sexual violence for male gratification. Instead, this scene demonstrates the devastating effects of colonialism.

If you’re coming to this book from the action/adventure frame of mind, you may find it lacking. This story doesn’t punch through bad guys to win the ultimate prize. It’s more meditative. Billy doesn’t run out and seize the day. Instead, the world flows toward him, and he picks which way to turn. He doesn’t actively change his world so much as reacts to it. Though Billy is the main character, it’s his ancestral past that acts on him, shaping him, protecting him, guiding him. I think this is lovely but recognize it may not be for everyone.

There’s one minor writing flaw in this book which popped out at me. Some passages lacked variation in sentence structure. I came across several instances of 8 or 9 sentences in a row that started with the word “He.” This made the rhythm feel a little weird sometimes. However, it’s a small issue that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg · The Adventures of Technicality Man · When the Future Comes Too Soon · Love is Love · The Bear · Dragon God · Balfair’s Confinement · Don Quixote & Candide Seek Truth, Justice, and El Dorado in the Digital Age · Shoebox Funeral · The Plainview Lottery · The Lady Who Loved Lightning

Bad News
This Writer Can't Draw

Bad News

There’s the good news, and then there’s the bad news.

Bad News

Welcome back. I’m not sure if you noticed, but 2017 has been an awful year. Sure, 2016 wasn’t all that and a bag of popcorn, either. But this year has really and truly sucked.

There. I said it. It’s out in the open now.

*wafts the odor away*

In case you have been living in cave a thousand feet underground with marshmallows jammed in your ears and had no idea, there’s a giant racist potato running the country of my birth.

Unreal, right?

It seems like every day there’s one more piece of bad news. Mass shootings, hurricanes, earthquakes, missile launches, neo-nazis running amuck in the streets. You know, the usual.

Right now I’ve got over 15 family members stuck in Puerto Rico. That’s right. THAT Puerto Rico. The one you’ve been hearing about all over the news lately. And it’s possible you only recently discovered (along with the disturbingly large number of other Americans who were unaware) that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. Which means the giant racist potato is in charge.

*deep breaths*

After Maria hit, the whole first week of not-being-able-to-contact-anyone-on-the-island thing was gut wrenching. But it came barking down the heels of a whole lot of other no good, very bad personal news, as well. I got sick. My husband got sick. Our adorable bearded dragon got sick. And whole lot of other awful, really bad things happened, too.

Through all of it, one thing has kept me moving forward. My sense of humor. I may be punny (and puny). My jokes may reek of the dad joke variety. But they’re simple, and they’re pure, and I wouldn’t have my dorky self any other way.

Bad News

Bad News Comic

Did You Miss Some Comics?

Cheesy Writing Montage  · Things I Do While Writing  · Bookworm Problems  · How to Words  · Changing Perspective  · Focused · The Dream · Writing Workshop · Squirrel! · Spelling · Reading Time · The Writer Life · Mark Your Place · Bad News · Reaction · The Stranger Effect · Typing · Work · Funny Face · Progress? · Circling the Issue · Mammals Are Weird · Heat Wave · Great Ideas · Look Who’s Drawing Now · What the Stomach Wants · Caffeine Crash · Hard Work · Typos


Free to Share, Not to Sell

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Book Review
Book Reviews

Book Review: The Lady Who Loved Lightning

A book with space sex and lots of alcohol.

Book Review

Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

I had such high hopes for this book. Really, I did. It had a gorgeous cover, positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Plus, it’s the fourth in a series. Nobody gets to number four in a series without a really good story arc, right? (“Oh, Ditrie,” I can hear some of you saying. “You’re so innocent and naive.”)

I absolutely cannot speak for the other books in this series. Maybe they’re outstanding and this novel is a fluke.  Perhaps by not reading them first, I’m missing out on something. And that is the ONLY reason I’m not giving this book a rock-bottom rating.

The Lady Who Loved Lightning, by Robert A. Sullivan could have been much better. Here’s how.

Dialogue Tags

The sheer variety of dialogue tags in this book is mind-numbing. If you’re not sure what a dialogue tag is, it’s the word at the end of a quote that lets you know a character is speaking. They are words like said, asked, croaked, hollered, etc. Ideally, dialogue tags within a story are invisible. The reader briefly recognizes them as speech markers and moves on in the text. But when you have a dialogue tag that calls attention to itself, it breaks the flow of the narration and conversation. It creates a momentary hiccup in the pacing. This is an excellent technique to use SPARINGLY for special effects. But when it’s abused over and over throughout the course of an entire novel, it slows down the narrative until it’s nearly unreadable.

Adverbs

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with using adverbs. For anyone needing a refresher, an adverb is a word that describes how an action (verb) is done. They’re like adjectives for verbs. And adverbs usually end in -ly. You’ll find adverbs most often paired with common, plain, or weaker verbs. Too many adverbs is a sign of poor verb choices.

Observe. Which is more enticing?

  • She walked sultrily to the bar.
  • She sauntered to the bar.

It’s the second one, right? Using powerful and specific verbs avoids adverb abuse. This book, however, does not. In fact, there are even adverbs in most of the dialogue tags. Which is— why would you do this?

Plot?

In the book’s defense, many of these characters are carrying on a storyline that started earlier in the series. From what I can tell, that longer story arc includes time travel and other nifty technology. But this novel? It’s classified as a science fiction novel, but it reads like a failed stab at erotica. There are a bunch of people in space. They get drunk a lot and have sex. Much cheating ensues.

Oh yeah, and they find a planet, one of the leaders is going to be put on trial for something, and for some reason, they decide to tow a giant moon over to the planet they found to make it spin slower? Science aside, the plot is thin, and there is a lot of talking about nothing with equal amounts of nothing being done. But at least there’s tennis and surfing? And apparently, they set up mines at some point. No idea who the miners are since apparently these like 6-8 people are isolated in the middle of nowhere. And they’re sworn to secrecy about something.

Misogyny

Where do I begin? Every woman character is objectified at some point throughout this story. There’s a lot of butt slapping and undue emphasis on how tone said body parts are. And there’s actually a scene where a woman punishes her lover by waving her breasts at him to remind him of what he won’t have? If this were erotica, that might make some sense. Maybe. But there is some pretty well-written erotica out there with fantastic plots and zero misogyny. It can be done.

Every woman character in this book is portrayed as possessive, jealous, controlling, and absurdly attractive. The men characters, who are never physically described, constantly complain about women being in charge. They state outright how men can never win with women.

And evidently, these characters procured the best timeline via their earlier time travel expeditions in other books. But somehow, the men feel threatened and oppressed by women while simultaneously changing them around like underwear? And the relationship changes are abrupt with zero discussion between affected members except for an ‘oh, by the way’ after the man has conquered someone else. This isn’t a case of clearly established and respectful polyamory. It’s 100% objectification for the sole purpose of men’s pleasure.

And yes, there are trysts between women, but nothing similar between any of the men.

Actions and Transitions

There aren’t a whole lot of either. The majority of this story consists of dialogue between characters who are quoting other books, plays, songs, and shows. And there are a LOT of main characters to keep up with, but their personalities are almost interchangeable. Several times a scene starts out on one ship with a couple of characters exchanging dialogue and then suddenly there are more characters (who either are or aren’t on the ship) that butt into the conversation. It’s difficult to keep track of where everyone is. Oftentimes it feels like everyone’s on a cruise ship having one, big, long, drunken conversation interspersed with orgies.

I believe this book could benefit from a solid rewrite, professional editing, and a handful of sensitivity readers. It should also probably rebrand as erotica— but only if some sensitivity readers guide the process. Otherwise, I cannot in good faith recommend this book. I’m still putting the Amazon ad at the end so you can see the beautiful cover and read what other reviewers on Amazon have said.

 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Any purchase made via the link below supports my site. Even if you buy a toaster oven instead of this book. Which, you probably should. Toaster ovens are awesome. This book is not.

 


Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg · The Adventures of Technicality Man · When the Future Comes Too Soon · Love is Love · The Bear · Dragon God · Balfair’s Confinement · Don Quixote & Candide Seek Truth, Justice, and El Dorado in the Digital Age · Shoebox Funeral · The Plainview Lottery

Typos aer my superpoewr
This Writer Can't Draw

Typos

Typos are fun. Editing is funner.

Typos aer my superpoewr
How many times has this happened to you? You’re writing a really important email. Maybe it’s a message about work. Or maybe it’s a job application. It may even be an article or story you’re submitting to a magazine. You’ve combed through it dozens of times searching for sneaky typos.

The first time, it’s like a seek and destroy mission. But by the second pass through, everything seems fine. Your message has great flow. It hits all the key points. And your confidence starts to build. This is going to be amazing. Maybe you will get the job/promotion/refugee aardvark from South Africa you’ve totally been trying to adopt for three years.  Perhaps this message, this crucial piece of writing is the greatest bit of literature you have ever produced. You might even change lives!

Full of confidence, you hit send. And as you listen to the magical whooshing sound as your words are rushed off into the cybersphere, you see it. The typo. And then it seems like the more you read your message, the more typos you find. How is this possible?!

No medium in this category, other than sent emails, frustrates me more than Twitter. Twitter is like a graveyard for lost typos.  And for years, the only options have been to leave them out there for everybody and their monkey to see or to delete them and pretend they never existed.

But maybe this never happens to you. Maybe there’s a gremlin who sprinkles typos into my messages the way some* people sprinkle cheese on pizza. A gremlin who leaves breadcrumbs all over my keyboard. And, hey, where did my sandwich go?

Typos

Typos
#YouCantProveItsNotAGremlin

*I can’t have cheese. Or pizza. Not the normal kind, anyway. Chronic illnesses are fun (not). The food I can eat is expensive. So, uhh, here’s my tip jar?

Did You Miss Some Comics?

Cheesy Writing Montage  · Things I Do While Writing  · Bookworm Problems  · How to Words  · Changing Perspective  · Focused · The Dream · Writing Workshop · Squirrel! · Spelling · Reading Time · The Writer Life · Mark Your Place · Bad News · Reaction · The Stranger Effect · Typing · Work · Funny Face · Progress? · Circling the Issue · Mammals Are Weird · Heat Wave · Great Ideas · Look Who’s Drawing Now · What the Stomach Wants · Caffeine Crash · Hard Work


Free to Share, Not to Sell

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

A book about a town that should have known better
Book Reviews

Book Review: The Plainview Lottery

A book about a town that should have known better.

A book about a town that should have known better

Did you know? Every time you make an Amazon purchase from one of my links, you’re supporting this site.

Before I dig into the meat of this book review, I’d like to acknowledge some mistakes I’ve made in the past and changes I’m making moving forward. In my previous book reviews, I’ve been pretty salesy. I would emphasize the positive aspects of a book while ignoring its blatant faults. Part of this was, indeed, motivated by a desire for clicks on my ads to hopefully increase my income (or to make any income, to be honest). However, part of it was also because I was anxious about criticizing other authors when my own writing is far from perfect. (I mean, who’s perfect?)

In the end, though, this isn’t really fair to you, dear stranger off the internet highway and/or subscriber to my blog. You deserve the whole truth, delivered in an entertaining and professional manner. And with that in mind, let me tell you what I think about this book.

The Plainview Lottery: A Town Learns a Hard Lesson in Basic Economics by Markas Dvaras (also known as Mark Hall), would probably have been better as a novella or a short story. All things considered, though, it really isn’t all that bad. The prose is clean, clear, and reminds me of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I love Nathaniel Hawthorne. And the plot of this book is similar to the Stone Soup folktale. I loved that story as a kid, so this really tapped into my nostalgia. However, because this is, at best, a novella-worthy idea stretched into a full-length novel, there are a few issues.

First, there is a lot of repetition. A LOT of it. The characters repeat lines and phrases. The narrative repeats descriptions of places and actions. Some of this verges on hypnosis. And as someone with genuine, clinically diagnosed OCD whose mental loops can be triggered by repetition, it was right on the border of uncomfortable for me. (Side note for those who are unaware due to popular misconceptions: OCD is less about handwashing and more about uninvited mental stutters. Think— anxiety and an annoying song had a kid. OCD manifests a little differently for different people. But that anxiety + annoying song analogy is EXTREMELY apt for me. But, I digress.)

Second, the townspeople who begin as naive, not very bright, and loveable start to take on a slightly creepy vibe as this charade draws out. And I don’t think it’s intentional because this is not a horror story. The citizens of Plainview obsessed over the lottery without openly questioning it. They walked around with chipper, happy-go-lucky attitudes for months. And it started to remind me more and more of The Stepford Wives (which, I admit, I’ve only seen the movie version thus far).

Third, we only meet about five women in the novel. And they’re all either accessories to their husbands or literally asked to make sandwiches. If I have to explain why this is a problem, you probably should unfollow my blog.

Fourth, with the exceptions of Old Man Miller and the strangers from out of town, all of the non-women characters feel like variations of the same person. They use the same phrases. Make the same unfunny jokes. Think the same thoughts. Again, refer to my earlier comparison to The Stepford Wives.

In the end, though, I can safely say the story does NOT have a scary twist. It is simply a folktale-like story drawn out way past its limit. But at its heart, it is an innocent parable about only wanting as much as you need. And who can’t use that reminder from time to time?

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Did You Catch These Book Reviews?

Issola · Reversion · The Dead Room · Naheli’s Sacrifice · The Reviled · After Jessica · Running Out of Time · Wixon’s Day · Little Computer People · The Book of Jhereg · The Adventures of Technicality Man · When the Future Comes Too Soon · Love is Love · The Bear · Dragon God · Balfair’s Confinement · Don Quixote & Candide Seek Truth, Justice, and El Dorado in the Digital Age · Shoebox Funeral