1 Following

Bruce's Reads

Writing Flash Fiction: How to Write Very Short Stories and Get Them Published

Writing Flash Fiction: How to Write Very Short Stories and Get Them Published - Carly Berg I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I rate it as three stars.

“Writing Flash Fiction” by Carly Berg, is written for newbie writers who have little or no experience in publishing fiction works, especially shorter ones. It covers an array of topics that are worth consideration, and the guidance provided gives enough detail for one to start.

Some of the topics presented used to be routinely accepted in the publishing world. However, with the recent changes in publishing, especially independent (or self) publishing, some of those elements are no longer always appropriate for everyone. For example, critique groups and agents are capable of more harm than good, especially for writers just beginning a career in this field. This is not to say that they can’t be of good use, but full consideration must be given. Some guidelines readily accepted ten or fifteen years ago are considered pitfalls today.

I would have like the author to balance out the book with the subject of independent (or self) publishing, beyond the standard “vanity press” reference. Much has changed and the writers need to understand the opportunities that are available in the independent publishing world, as well as the traditional one. Writers who wish to forge their own careers and retain more control over their works are given more opportunities today as opposed to just five years ago.

The author paints a realistic picture of the expectations an author should have. She also provides examples of flash fiction for writers to review, so they can get a feel for the tone, pacing, etc. of this kind of writing. So it was a good book, but I felt it could have been more complete.

The Never Hero

The Never Hero - T. Ellery Hodges The Never Hero, written by T. Ellery Hodges, is the first in a series of science fiction/fantasy stories aimed at young adults, and other readers who enjoy stories such as these. The cover and blurb about it being a top choice book caught my eye, as well as a well written summary. So I thought I'd give it a try.

I found myself immersed in a book that was well developed, and balanced in both action and self-discovery. Our "never hero" is attacked by an unknown force, and things heat up from there. I liked the way the enemy was portrayed--not a standard cliche type of species, but one that had a reason behind what they did. Again, this was well thought out.

My only concern with books like these is that once you gain an audience, it's often hard to write fast enough to keep them satisfied, and have all the elements included that make a story like this a success. I wish Mr. Hodges the best of luck with that!


Hero - Mike Lupica Mike Lupica's "Hero", is the first book in the start of a promising contemporary fantasy series. Fourteen-year-old Zach Harriman begins to learn that life is taking on a different course than he thought it would. With his father gone and these strange powers developing within him, other people start coming around, attempting to control his decisions and how he will use his powers.

I thought the book was very well written, and the tension kept me wanting to read. There was, however, too little overall description of the characters, place and setting, so it was harder to imagine myself there. However, I doubt this would bother target readers as much as me. The internal changes of Zach were well played out and contributed to a very satisfying read.

I would definitely want to read the next book in the series.

Blue Sea Burning

Blue Sea Burning - Geoff Rodkey This final installment of “The Chronicles of Egg”, by Geoff Rodkey, brings to a climax a fantasy story of love, loss, war, humor, and a whole lot more. This was my absolute favorite book in the entire series. It brought about a strong touch of humanity and humor to a tale filled with “good guys”, “bad guys”, and those “in between”. While aimed toward younger readers—middle grades and early teens—I believe fantasy readers of all ages could enjoy it.

Rodkey excels in getting inside the main character, giving him believable thoughts and realistic behaviors. All of his characters are well developed, drawing the reader in to care about most all of them, causing us to cheer when things finally start turning out all right.

The adventurous book (and series) was filled with plenty of twists and turns, and the ending was well conceived. I could imagine even further adventures for Egbert down the road, and if they were ever to come about, I think I should find myself standing in line, waiting to read all about them.

Ares' Anger

Ares' Anger - James R. Womack James Womack’s "Ares’ Anger", is a nice, science fiction tale about astronauts on Mars. I think it will gel well with those who prefer more of the science aspect in science fiction. It also reminds me of the old, black-and-white TV science fiction series that deal with alien worlds, wherein each episode brings its challenges and adventures. This short story centers around Dexter, one of a very small crew on the planet Mars. He goes out on assignment and faces some very real dangers. Does he make it back before he is seriously hurt, or killed? Given the limitations of Mars, simple errors can easily be life threatening.

I found the writing engaging, and detailed enough so I really felt I was there. The relationships between the characters were well enough developed for this short tale. There were a few typos, though they did not take me out of the story. The only other consideration would be to shorten the lengthy introductions of the crew, as they did little or nothing to contribute to the overall plot of the story, and honestly, I forgot about them after each was listed. I would have preferred to have those words used for more action scenes, which I felt were written in a compelling manner, and helped ratchet up the tension of the story. Those were my favorite parts.

Recommended for lovers of science fiction, I rate this story as four stars, and I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Annihilation of Foreverland

The Annihilation of Foreverland - Tony Bertauski The Annihilation of Foreverland is one of the more original stories I’ve read in a while. It had enough mystery to keep me going, and I was curious to know how the ending would play out. The beginning is sort of confusing, but simply put, they try to force a teen male to plug himself into a network of sorts, and he refuses so they make him very uncomfortable, and more so as time progresses. Meanwhile, others who do plug themselves in are transported to a fantasy-type playland. But of course not all is at it seems, and that’s where the story builds.
The story played out well, the writing was well-edited, and the style was easy to enjoy. Descriptions tended to be scarce and rather lacking overall in places, making it seem hard to envision myself on either island. On the other hand, there were some descriptive scenes that, for this age group, could have been quickly summarized. But for the most part it was a really good read, and I definitely would read more by this author. I give the story four stars.


Yoikes - James  Field The short story, Yoikes, by James Field struck me as something like a mix of "Dumb and Dumber" meets "The Days of Camelot." Here you have 2 beefy bros who are dimmer than a 10 watt light bulb, along with their Alsatians (German Shepherd types--I had to look that one up), who get sucked back in time because of their goofy inclinations. What follows is a fast-reading, humorous romp of a tale, that hopefully means they don't mess up their own futures (or anyone else they know), if and when they come back.

I liked the story a lot, but felt no sense of place or time at the very beginning. That made it harder to immerse myself into, but once I figured it out, everything locked into place (I saw the cover and supposed it began way back when, but it didn't.) Some minimal descriptions would definitely help enhance this funny tale.

I received a copy of this story in exchange for my honest review and I rate it as four stars.

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Little Lord Fauntleroy - Frances Hodgson Burnett Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Burnett, reveals the highest character reflected in a small child. At the same time, the story contrasts it with the lowest of humanity’s traits, and it is within this context that the story intersects. It isn’t simply an old tale for the 1800s, for us to look at and wonder if people are the same today (which they are). It is a remarkable tale that demonstrates how just one person can make a positive difference in the lives of so many people. It tells us to believe there is good in the world, and invites us to be the good.

New Lands

New Lands - Geoff Rodkey New Lands, the second in The Chronicles of Egg series, continues the misadventures of Egbert & Company, trying to find the Fist of Ka before the ruthless Pembroke does.

I found the story bright and vivid, imaginative and daring, without giving into a formulaic plot with predictable outcomes. The story is clean, well written and suitable for young readers and others who enjoy a good story.

This book adds twists and surprises: some hilarious, others on the sad side. Not everything is set in the first book, as will be seen. I enjoy seeing the growth in all the characters, and sensing their different voices. It makes their characters stand out and they seem real.

Hats off to Geoff Rodkey for a story well told!

One Fling to Rule Them All

One Fling to Rule Them All - Deanna Dee One Fling To Rule Them All, written by Deanna Dee, is a type of story I typically don’t read. Romance is generally not my thing, though I like to read a variety of well written stories, of which this certainly was one.

As you will see in the Dedication, JRR Tolkien is greatly admired by the author, and the themes of Dungeons and Dragons games, mixed with Tolkien fantasy, are pervasive throughout the book. It’s about Lydia, who grew up loving a boy and then falling apart once he “comes of age”, and chooses another. Then to add flavor to the story, another guy comes along, and then the emotions and drama flow.

This book is filled with humor, and besides some language throughout, it is a clean read. Lydia is well-developed as a character, and the plot flows along nicely. It seemed so real that I thought certain scenes might have been from real life experiences—that’s how well-developed it was. The relationships between Lydia and her BFFs were strong, and she wanted to please them while trying to hide the pain she was going through.

I found myself enjoying this read and cheering for the main character. It is a book with a good and satisfying ending, and I recommend it for romance readers who don’t mind romps of fantasy through Tolkien-Land.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and I rate it as 5-stars.

The Grave Robber's Apprentice

The Grave Robber's Apprentice - Allan Stratton This fast-paced story is a great read for young readers, as well as for those who enjoy books such as these. Two children, both threatened with their lives and those they love, set out to set wrongs to right and save their families.

I found the tale filled with imagination, twists, and fun subplots. The main characters had many shining moments when they used their imagination and wit to combat a seemingly unbeatable enemy. The book climaxes well and left a satisfying ending to a memorable story.

THE STOW AWAY CAT, Book 2 of the Adventures of Jimbo Series

THE STOW AWAY CAT, Book 2 of the Adventures of Jimbo Series - Enrico Antiporda The Stow Away Cat, by Enrico Antiporda, is the story of a favored feline Jimbo who accidentally gets caught up in an adventure that leads him to Europe. From there he has more adventures until the end of the story.
The artwork, though plain and simple, was colorful and helped retain interest. The language is clean and the story is well edited.
The narrative was told from an adult human’s perspective, instead of that which I would expect in a cat. I would have liked to see a fresh reaction to new things from Jimbo’s point of view, and would not have expected the feline to understand the entire human world. There was not enough mentioned about his world—the cat’s world. This is where the magic of an author introjecting an animal’s senses could have strengthened the story.
There were places where the story lagged (I went to place A, then I went to place B, then I took a nap, then I talked to animal A, B, etc.), while what I really wanted was more action/adventure—again from a cat’s perspective. However, this is a story for young readers and children will likely relate differently than I do.
The theme of “never giving up” was prevalent throughout, and should help encourage readers to be persistent.
I rate this as 3 stars on Goodreads and 4 on Amazon. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Writer's Block

Writer's Block - Michael Gardner This very delightful short story is filled with imagination and wit. A man is thrown back in time, to a special year when JRR Tolkien's works appear on the world's scene. But something is wrong--JRR is not there, and so our own--and other--JRR, must figure out what to do. It is obvious the writer highly respects the works and talents of Tolkien, while creating his own clever spin off story that works well. I highly recommend this to readers of all ages and genres, and thank the author for a well crafted story. I received a copy of it in exchange for my honest review, and rate as five stars.

Cheaper by the Dozen

Cheaper by the Dozen - Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey This was a delightful book, for readers of all ages. It's filled with family tidbits from the early 1920's. The writing style is from a narrative point of view, describing the lives of the family through one of the sons. There are many parts where the father strongly reminds me of J. Jonah Jameson from the spider-man series. The father yells, is very opinionated, but has his soft spots. Actually the dad seemed to have excessive control problems, which added to the hilarity of the events. Some parts were more believable than others, and yet I was somewhat disappointed with the ending. It just...ended, and felt incomplete. Yet the book is filled with many comparable issues that we might hear our parents say today. This is proof that generational cycles of beliefs toward the next generation repeat themselves. I purchased a copy of this book.

Psycho Psyche

Psycho Psyche - James  Field James Field’s Psycho Psyche is a short story that would go great as a comic artist’s story. What I mean is, as I read it I thought of the nefarious bad guy type and the protagonist, who match wits. One is sinister, while the other trying to figure out what is going on. I could envision this in a Spider-man comic. So okay, the talking parts are stiff and clichéd, but still fun. It was a flowing fast read and I finished it quickly in just one setting. The end left enough of a question so you wonder if the story will continue, leaving the door wide opened for lots of future adventures.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review, and I rate it as four stars.

Red and the Wolf

Red and the Wolf - E. A. Walker Red and the Wolf is E.A. Walker's debut writing novella, and I think the author did a fine job of it. The story is carefully constructed and deeply portrayed in most places and with few exceptions, the story line is fairly straightforward. It hinges on a well-known legend--or a spin-off of one, where the characters should feel familiar. This story uses ethnic names, which is different from other stories I've read.

The story has some adult thematic elements, though, so it is not what I would consider to be a children's story; rather for late teens and above simply due to the relationship material.

I rate the story as four stars and received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.