Short Stories

Book Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Author: 
Gaiman, Neil
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

As someone who has to read many short story submissions for the anthology my writing group puts together each year, I can appreciate a well-written short story. I have not read much of Neil Gaiman, but in his collection of anthology short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, I was able to see what kinds of stories a professional writer writes for an anthology. While quite a few stories were interesting, not all of them were necessarily in genres I typically read. Then again, I consider erotica and stories submitted to Hustler as pornography, which is why I do not read these kinds of short stories.

Furthermore, it is a little more uncomfortable listening to erotica, as was the case with this audiobook. Fortunately, Gilbert Gottfried did not read it, but it still is uncomfortable to hear it nonetheless. Sure, the concepts in these short stories were somewhat interesting, but the sex ruined it for me. At least there were enough other stories that I found fascinating to make it worth my while to get all the way through it. The simplicity and genius of these ideas merely verify Gaiman’s writing talent, even if a few were hard to follow. At least a few of them followed the title of the book, which helped tie these separate stories together.

Perhaps my biggest qualm with this book was its structure. Moreover, maybe it was a limitation of a direct transferal to the audiobook format, but it is almost impossible to go back to the first section of the book and listen to the intro for each story before reading that story. Instead, it dispensed pertinent information on every short story before I even had a chance to get to them. If I were to appreciate each story fully, it would have been better to introduce each one with background information, so the context is fresh in the listener’s memory.

A collection of well-written short stories, I give Smoke and Mirrors 3.5 stars out of 5.

For more reviews of books and movies like this, please visit www.benjamin-m-weilert.com

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Through the Woods

Through the Woods
Author: 
Carroll, Emily
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

“Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll is a comic book collection of whimsically morbid fairy-tales, each mostly self-contained but serving what I would call an important, human theme: the uncanny waits, and surrounds, especially where you wouldn’t expect it. I love the stark yet evocative art throughout this book, and some of the stories did manage to surprise me. I personally love testaments to the monsters under our beds, particularly those intended for adults, and if you do, too, you may carry something interesting away from this collection. At any rate, the art is gorgeous, feeling “classic” even as it’s so unique.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kate

Book Review: One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
Author: 
Novak, B.J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Ever wonder what your grandmother might be up to in heaven? Or maybe why it is that there are some people who just give the best advice? BJ Novak, writer and star of The Office, explores these topics and much more in his refreshingly hilarious One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. Tales run the gamut of the absurd to the seemingly mundane: from a peek inside a blind date with a warlord, to a boy who is not allowed to eat sugary name-brand cereals. Each story is almost like two sides of the same coin, all at once being achingly funny and heartbreakingly human. The collection, while as a whole is mostly always humorous, ebbs and flows with a sincerity that demonstrates Novak’s keen ability to not only write about human emotion, but to make the reader feel it as well. One More Thing shows that Novak’s writing is intelligent, his command of language sharp and his wry humor at its best.

Reviewer's Name: 
Heidi

Book Review: Four: A Divergent Collection

Four: A Divergent Collection
Author: 
Roth, Veronica
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I loved this book because it was a spin-off of the Divergent series. If you like dystopia and a different point of view, this book is just for you. The book goes in detail of Tobias Eaton's life in four different sections or chapters. I think it's amazing to be able to look into another character's background, especially after reading all three Divergent books in Tris' point of view. In the novella, you get to see Four's abnegation side before he moved to Dauntless. You see how scared he was and the steps that make him who he is later in the book. There is a lot of foreshadowing to compare to the original books and the spin-off. The reason why I gave it a four stars though, is because I felt as if Four could've had more emotion and thought because when I read it, it felt as if I was just reading the behind the scenes and not how he was REALLY feeling.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Jade D.

Book Review: The Demigod Diaries

The Demigod Diaries
Author: 
Riordan, Rick
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Demigod Diaries is a fun collection of short stories that bring you back into Percy Jackson's world with new adventures. Luke Castellan, son of Hermes, tells his story for the first time in "The Diary of Luke Castellan". Argo II members Leo Valdez, Jason Grace, and Piper McLean go on a search for a missing item and wind up finding trouble within the forest of Camp Half-Blood. Rick Riordan's son, Haley, also includes a demigod story of his own.

Overall, this book was lots of fun. Each story was interesting, adventurous, and packed with humor. I especially loved hearing more about Luke's past, as his character in the first series didn't have much time to tell his story. Leo's adventure is hilarious and fun. Haley's story was well-written, but I felt it was a little serious, considering the rest of the stories are more light-hearted. Nevertheless, this book is wonderful. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried
Author: 
O'Brien, Tim
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Actual Rating: 3.9

This book is good and fairly understandable if you like books that take place in war times. It has A LOT of symbolism which many can be examples of the exact things they carried. There are many back stories and stories about the soldiers as well giving you a lot of imagery as to what is happening. It talks about their missions and thoughts emotionally. It was a little difficult for me to read it but it's a pretty well written book otherwise.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Dominique R.

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