Posts Tagged ‘novella’

Here’s a collection of four novellas around 200 pages each. It’s a nice length. Short enough it’s a quick read, long enough for you to burrow into the story.

First up we have ‘The Langoliers.’ Yet another thing to scare you about flying. Part of this story is working out what the heck is going on, so I’ll leave you to puzzle that mystery with the characters. It’s an interesting idea. One with just enough science to understand the hypothesis the characters come up with, and not a smidgen more. Totally implausible, but somehow still scary.

The characters were two dimensional but serviceable. I did get a bit annoyed with the magic little blind girl. She was a nice person, but really? Does every little child with a disability have to have some kind of special powers? Aren’t they neat enough as they are?

The plot was decent but not something to rave about. The pacing was a little off. A bit slow in places. I’d give this three stars. I did like the ending. It made me wonder what long term effects their trip might cause them. This was my least favorite of the four, and the reason why the whole book didn’t get a five star rating.

Secret Window, Secret Garden:

Four stars.  I watched the movie beforehand, so might’ve found it more entertaining if I hadn’t know the twist. I did like the tense claustrophobic feeling the whole story has. It’s well written, and the twist is a great one. We spend most of our time with one character. He’s got a lot of similarities with most of Stephen King’s characters. A writer. A guy still suffering the aftereffects of a nasty break up. 

He’s trying and failing to write a book, and then a stranger comes and accuses him of stealing a story of his. Things get worse from there. 

I thought on the whole the story was a very good one. It required some suspension of belief as to why the guy doesn’t just call in the police. At first, sure, he can play the nice guy. But then something happened that made the animal lover in me cringe and curl up into a ball of sadness. Nothing would’ve stopped me calling the police after that. Or taking more violent action.

The story manages to stay supernatural free until right at the very end. I’m not sure the supernatural insert was needed. In my opinion the story would’ve been more powerful without it, but that’s just my view.

The Library Policeman:

Five stars. This one and the next one were my favorites of this collection. 

This one revolves around a man roped into writing a last minute speech. Being the diligent guy he is, he checks out a couple of books from the library to help. Only, he loses the books and can’t return them. He soon finds this is a bigger deal than he’d thought. 

Scary book. Heavy on the supernatural which worked well. It also has an interesting creature I haven’t come across before. It makes a frightening idea.

I found the plot worked well. The pacing kept me interested. The last showdown was pretty cool, and the conclusion was satisfying. A good story.

The Sun Dog:

A boy gets a camera for his birthday. Only, no matter what he points the camera at, the picture comes out showing a dog. And with every picture the dog gets closer. 

Five stars. It’s close, but if I had to choose between this one and the previous one, Sun Dog would win. This story had great everything. The tension stayed high. The pacing was great. When the action happened, it was thrilling enough to have me on the edge of my seat. 

I liked the characters more than the previous story which is what pushed this one into the winning spot. The boy is one of those genuinely nice, respectful kids. Mature for his age, but still enough of a kid not to seem unnatural. The other characters were varied and interesting. The father turned out to be a lot deeper of a character than the son makes out at the start. Plus he has a back-story that makes his interactions with our ‘bad guy’ interesting.

Our ‘bad guy’ is another we spend a lot of time with. He’s not really bad, just invested and ambitious. Not a nice guy, but not a terrible one. He’s the hero of his own story. 

Great story with a satisfying ending, and a tiny little extra twist that adds to the whole creepy feel. 

For more reviews on this collection go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/133266.Four_Past_Midnight

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Yup, still making my way through Stephen King. It’s taking a while, but I’m enjoying it.

Skeleton Crew is a collection. One novella, and twenty-one short stories. I think this is my favorite short story collection of his I’ve read. Not every short story is five stars, some are just OK, others are amazing.

The star of the book for me was the novella: The Mist. You may have watched the film based on it. This is about a father and son trapped with a group of people in a grocery store when a mysterious mist closes around them. And of course, since this is Stephen King, it’s no ordinary mist. There are things inside it, and they aren’t friendly.

One thing I really loved about this is we never find out for sure what caused the mist. There are several very strong hints, but the mystery is soon tossed aside to focus on what’s important: how to survive. There are strange monsters here, but the majority of this book is about surviving the even stranger monsters human beings turn into when they’re frightened and desperate.

There are so many good short stories in the bunch, it’s hard to pick favorites, but here goes nothing:

The Reach: This is the story you turn to after The Mist leaves you feeling desolate and hopeless. It’s about an old woman who’s never left the tiny island she lives on. For Stephen King this is really rather a sweet story. Sure there’s death (it’s Stephen King), but it’s the kind of death made up of old friends, and arms ready to fold you up and comfort you. More of a literary short story than a horror. A nice contrast to the heebie jeebies the rest of the book has in spades.

The Jaunt: Rather a straight forward short story with some neat imagined science, and an ultra creepy twist ending.

Nona: Creepy, creepy. About a boy, a girl he meets, and the horrible things that happen as consequence of meeting her. With a twist.

The Word Processor of the Gods: A decent ‘monkey paw’ type story with a happy ending! Bookmark this one to read after some of the many others with far from happy endings.

Survivor Type: One of the most disgusting and horrific short stories of his I’ve read. It’s (slight) plausibility makes it all the more scary. This will stick with you. Not sure if that’s good or bad.

Gramma: starts slow, but mega creepy ending.

The Monkey: Not as scary as some of the others, but still worthy of this list.

The Raft: If I’m going to be inserted into a story (I’m hoping for a superhero story that lets me have awesome powers) this one is at the bottom of my list. No thank you. No way. I will not be going on that raft. In short: SCARY.

The rest of the stories were decent, but the milkman stories? I have no clue what’s going on in those ones. Am I missing something?

Anyways, good collection filled with a lot of gems. It’s worth reading for The Mist alone, but short stories like The Jaunt make it doubly worth it.

For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13440.Skeleton_Crew

This one is a short read, but definitely worth it if you liked the humor in the Sarah Milton Chronicle books – which by the way I wholeheartedly recommend. It’s an expansion of events mentioned in the second book which were only mentioned in passing. And it’s really really funny.

Link to my review of the first book: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/book-review-wednesday-reading-the-dead-5-stars/

Link to my review of the second book: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/book-review-wednesday-reading-the-dead-fidelis-in-aeternum-4-stars/

The humor of the series reminds me of Buffy. Some may see something different in it, but that’s how I view it. Now I know there are those who hate buffy humor with a passion, in which case this may not be up your street. For my fellow buffy fans who have not read these books, click on the above link to read my review of the first book in this series.

By this paragraph I’m going to assume you guys still reading this have read at least one of the Sarah Milton books and know what I’m talking about. If not prepare for confusion.

Anna gets the front seat in these stories. The first is her point of view of the night the “Fancy Dress Killer” almost killed Sarah. This was mentioned in the first book and detailed pretty explicitly in the second, so not much new here. Still was interesting to see Anna’s side of things though.

The second story is the real prize. This one takes place during Sarah’s dad’s wedding which was mentioned in passing in the second book. It’s kind of like Casper meets Home Alone, and this one was hilarious.

Two criminals have the bright idea to infiltrate the wedding to try and steal money from the house while the guests are busy shedding tears over the vows. Anna just so happens to spot them and takes it upon herself to teach them a lesson.

This was pure unadulterated fun, so don’t expect anything serious from that story and you’ll enjoy it.

For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20693234-anna-s-adventures

I came to know of Holly Lisle through her writing classes. Like all writers, I’m constantly working on my craft and Holly Lisle has some great resources for that. The Death Circus is a novella included in the ‘How to Write a Series’ class that I’m working through for the second time.

It’s a dystopian space opera set around a ship that has a mysterious owner who no one seems to see. Be warned though, this is a series. We don’t get all the answers in the first book. That would make for a very short series.

The ship is a death circus. They travel to pact worlds and buy people sentenced to death. Pact worlds seem to be kind of like weird playgrounds for insanely rich control freaks. With enough money you can buy your very own pact world, whose people are taught from childhood to be mindless drones. Any deviation away from said mindless drone state results in them being taken away for punishment.

Punishments seem to vary, but in a lot of cases it’s death. Of course there’s a technical issue here. Pact worlds can’t carry out a death sentence. They get around it in other ways. Most popular seems to be saying to them ‘hey you’re not in the club anymore. If you want us to welcome you back, step right up and plunge yourself into this burning pit of fire.’

Creepy.

And brainwashed as they are, most of them do just that. The stubborn few left are sold to passing death circuses who agree to carry out those death sentences. And there begins our story, with one poor brainwashed guy bound for our mysterious ship, and our other main pov character, a guy working on said ship.

This book mainly revolves around our guy working in the ship. He’s ambitious and has his mind set on his next in what he hopes will be a long line of promotions, but things don’t go quite as he planned.

The most interesting part of this book for me was the looming mystery. What exactly is the ship’s owner up to? How is he getting all his money? And what are his plans for all those people he buys?

Be warned though, this is a short book. Only 56 pages. So don’t go into it expecting a full blown novel.

For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21893697-enter-the-death-circus

This is a prequel novella to the dystopian romance ‘Under the Never Sky.’ For my review on that novel, check out the following link: https://samaustinwriter.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/book-review-wednesday-under-the-never-sky-4-stars/

I’d say this is an interesting story on its own, but not quite compelling enough without the novel. The novel (obviously as it’s longer) goes a lot deeper into the world building and there’s a lot more at stake. Saying that, with the novel I’d call this one a five star novella.

Here’s the blurb:

Before Perry and Aria, there was Roar and Liv.

After a childhood spent wandering the borderlands, Roar finally feels like he has a home with the Tides. His best friend Perry is like a brother to him, and Perry’s sister, Liv, is the love of his life. But Perry and Liv’s unpredictable older brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides, and he has never looked kindly on Roar and Liv’s union. Normally, Roar couldn’t care less about Vale’s opinion. But with food running low and conditions worsening every day, Vale’s leadership is more vital—and more brutal—than ever. Desperate to protect his tribe, Vale makes a decision that will shatter the life Roar knew and change the fate of the Tides forever.

This shows something that happened before the novel with two of the more minor characters. It’s really interesting to get a deeper look at those two characters and the dynamics of their relationship with Perry who is one of the main characters of the novel. Since I’m a little obsessive about reading things in order I read this one before I read the novel. I read the novel right after, so I think I still got the full impact. When those two characters came up in the book I knew the gravity of their relationship and the pain they must be going through being apart. It really enhanced my experience of reading the novel.

I’d say if you’ve read the novel and loved it, then definitely read this one as well. If you’re planning on reading the novel then pick this one up to read either directly before or afterwards. The full impact of the novella only comes once you’ve read the novel, and the novella definitely enhances the novel.

For more reviews on this novella go to the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15754052-roar-and-liv