Friday, August 23, 2013


I'm trying something new, folks. One of the most mind-boggling things I learned at the Alpha Young Writer's Workshop is how hard it is to write a strong story in a tiny space. Short stories have to be tight. Flash fiction doesn't leave a word to spare. As for tweeting, which only allows 140 characters....well.

#tinytwittertale is an experiment. A chance to practice packing a punch into a short space...which of course means this first tale has to involve actual punches. I've got to put all those martial arts lessons to good use, after all. If you're curious, keep an eye out. Let me know - are you intrigued? confused? bored? If it turns out decent, I'll probably try again. If it turns out crap, I'll try even harder.

"Here, today (not a long time ago in a land far away), there is a boy. He sees a girl. She slams him with a mean right hook. #tinytwittertale"

Read the whole story:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Once Upon a Time....

I'm taking a break from books today to rave about ABC's Once Upon a Time. The short summary is that Snow White and Prince Charming didn't get their happily ever after - the queen cursed them and threw all fairy tale characters into the worst nightmare imaginable....our world. With amnesia. Yep.

The series alternates between turning classic fairy tales on their heads (for example, how Jimminy became a cricket and met Geppetto), and the tensions going on in our world. Namely, Snow White and Charming's daughter needs to be convinced that she can save them all.

I love the complexity of this series. Going back and rewatching episodes makes me realize how far the writers must have planned things out, because the Fairy Tale flashbacks are not chronological. Someone can mention a "past" event in episode three that gets acted out in episode eight. It's awesome.

And, of course, we've got some spunky heroines. My favorite is Snow White, who did the Robin Hood act and actually robbed Charming in the woods. A damsel in distress, she is not.

Many of the episodes are online. If you enjoy it, leave a comment!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.

It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—

Are about him.

What an extraordinary world. Coakley creates several very distinct cultures with rich and conflicting histories. There are two protagonists who have been raised each other (or at least their people), and right after hearing all the reasons to hate one, we get into his head and find how human and sympathetic he is....and then vice-versa.

The Final Word: If you like classic fantasy at all, this is a must read!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood - Tiki's blood...

What an amazing story weaver Hamilton is! Although The Faerie Ring is Tiki's story, it bounces between her POV - a desperate street urchin trying to care for a band of orphans - to that of Prince Leo himself, who is frantically trying to reclaim the valuable ring. Given how this novel centers around secrets and deceptions, I loved how Leo's occasional chapters ensured that the reader always knew more than everybody involved.

And I can't forget Rieker. This thief likes to drive Tiki crazy, but he also has secrets, and Tiki must learn to trust him if she ever wants to resolve the ring conflict and protect her orphan family.

I'm not doing this book justice. It's a wonderfully mysterious and suspenseful faerie tale (with just a drop of classic fairy tale) about a strong girl trying to succeed through tough times and mystical forces conspiring against her.

The Final Word: I absolutely love Tiki and her story. If you like Tithe or Wicked Lovely, definitely pick up The Faerie Ring.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Debut Challenge 2011: Complete

So that's it - the 12th and final book done for The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge! If you want to see my complete reading list, just look at "debut 2011" under the Genres sidebar tab.

I don't know if there was a lot of it published, or just what I gravitated toward, but this seems to be a year for sci-fi. Five of my twelve were dystopian novels, and wow are there some scary scenarios of what the world could become.

My favorite of all 12 was Divergent for its extraordinary society-building and compelling writing. Explanations cannot live up to the book itself, so just know that you should read it.

And the best part of this Challenge for me? I reviewed a bunch of books! Which means I ought to start looking for more reading/blogging challenges. I like reviewing - it just takes some motivation. If you know any challenges, or have debut recommendations, please leave a comment ^_^

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

I'd like to start with how jealous I am that Tessa lives above a bookstore and basically has a library for her living room. All right. On to the review.

I expected this to be a unicorn story, but it's really more of a modern mythology. The POV jumps between Tessa, dream-past-Tessa, the Fates themselves, and the ebil woman searching for the tapestry. Guibord does a wonderful job of balancing all those personalities and making each one vital to the overall story.

While Tessa's race to protect the tapestry (and the haughty but kindhearted Will who came out of it) made for a good story, my favorite part was the Fates themselves. They are absolutely creepy, and they have little patience for mortal troublemakers. Because of this, they become pseudo-villains even though both they and Tessa have essentially the same goals. Very cool.

The Final Word: An enjoyable fantasy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

Epidemics, floods, droughts–for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she’s rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can’t continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There’s something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

This book was slow going at first. Not that it wasn't well written; Jo Treggiari steeps her prose in description that makes Lucy's post-apocalyptic world incredibly vivid. But for the first couple chapters, there was only description of how Lucy goes about surviving, with the occasional break for how this world came to be. Things got much better once she met Aidan and his band of survivors, because we get actual dialogue. And here's where the story kept me reading.

What does it take to survive? What keeps this motley band of old timers and younglings together, keeps them resisting the Sweepers that attack and kidnap? Lucy, after half a year without speaking to another soul and years life was normal, allows herself to be folded into their camp and their way of life. And when that way of life includes facing off against Sweepers....there are implications that go all the way back to when the plague first started killing people off, and Lucy remained completely healthy.

The Final Word: A good premise, but rather predictable and heavy on the details.