There is a place where forgotten books find a home. It is a secret bestowed on a select few. Once you are brought into the cemetery you are given a chance to chose one book. This becomes your book, you are charged with protecting it.
This series tells the story of one particular family, the Sempre family. They are booksellers, a family that understands the intrigue and power of books. A family that understands the importance of books and keeping them safe. The series is a tale of this family keeping not only their business alive but also finding ways to make connections with others around them. It is a tale of a family who gets intertwined in mysteries that change their lives forever.
What I loved:
I actually started this series backwards. I started with The Angel’s Game, not realizing it was part of a larger series. The Angle’s Game and the subsequent books had this deep air of mystery. You were always wondering what exactly was going on. Each book had its own mystery, one that slowly unwound around the reader.
I enjoyed the slow and steady pace of these books. Sometimes with mystery books there is a long drawn out hint at what is going on. Then at the end everything gets wrapped up in a few pages. This was different. The mystery unfolded piece by piece. We meet new characters and figure out what is happening. This pace is what keeps you reading, wanting to find out the exact details.
I also like that this whole series was around one family. I enjoyed slowly learning about them. We got different generations in the books. We saw the evolution of the family and the long term effects of events in the earlier books. I liked this connection that built on themselves throughout the stories.
I also enjoyed the air of otherworldliness in The Angel’s Game. This was the first one I read and I twas captured by it because I had this feeling something was happening under the surface. I liked this kind of floating feeling I had throughout the story. I had a theory and later learned I was right; but I liked that it was in another novel that I found out what was truly going on. This was what kept me reading this series. I wanted more of this atmosphere though unfortunately that wasn’t present in the the other books.
What I was just okay with:
I started with The Angle’s Game and found out that it was the second book in a series of three. When I finished The Angel’s Game I believed that The Shadow of the Wind would have taken place before The Angel’s Game, or at least have a solid logical connection it. That was not the case.
The Shadow of the Wind actually took place after The Angle’s Game which left me very confused. I could not fathom why the series was written in this order. I read The Shadow of the Wind expecting to have more understanding of The Angle’s Game but that wasn’t true. It did nothing to help tell The Angel’s Game any different.
I struggled I think because I started The Shadow of the Wind with a certain expectation. When I realized it was not going to do what I expected it to do, I felt let down. I felt lost which I think took me out of the series.
If I had read the series in order maybe I would have felt differently about the series as a whole. But as the way I read them, I felt I was missing a vital piece to this story in the end.
What I wished was different:
The last book The Prisoner of Heaven felt like it had nothing to hold itself up. The Angle’s Game and The Shadow of the Wind were two good stories that stood alone if necessary. The Prisoner of Heaven did have a nice connection to The Angel’s Game but it was a history of one of the characters, nothing more.
I wanted to hold a true story but it felt like it could have been integrated into the other books. The last book felt unnecessary which left me feeling detached and disappointed by the series as a whole.
As a whole the series was alright. I gave it between 3-4 stars on Goodreads. I liked the mystery elements, I liked how it held me captivated but wish that the series felt better connected with one another. In the end I felt like the series could have been stand alone stories and it would have worked as well if not better.
One of thing I find most fascinating about novel or stories is where the author got their inspiration. What made them think to write about that specific topic? What made them ask the question the story is trying to answer? Why did they choose to write an adventure tale or a romance? Who inspired the character traits of the protagonist? Is the story close to them or is it them trying to work out issues in their own life?
When I write I find inspiration from a number of things but mostly it comes from me asking, What If? . I ask the question and then use my writing to explore the number of avenues the story could go down.
My short story collection, Is There More? consists of a number of stories over a span of years. Each one has their own unique story about how it came to life. I thought it would be fun to write a post about where the inspiration from each story came from. I will give a short summary of the story and then a bit about how I came up with the idea or why I wrote the story.
If you find this interesting and want to read the stories for yourself be sure to check it out on Amazon, either as a paperback or ebook. And if you do read it and enjoy it, a review is always appreciated!
Always Been Ours
Always Been Ours is a cautionary tale about what happens when you abandon the books and stories that created you. It is a reminder to never forget how important reading and books can be for your everyday life, especially for a writer.
This story is the oldest in the collection. It was written when I was a junior in college. It was written (at least the first draft) as part of an assignment: write a short story. That was all we were told.
I wanted to write a story about books whispering inspiration to a writer. I wanted it to be about the creative process but as I wrote I could not get the idea of the books being angry out of my head. Every time I wrote their voices, it was with an edge to it. If I wrote them helpful and inspiring it felt forced and flat. I finally gave in and this story was born.
This was the first time I remember a story writing itself. I always heard authors talk about that feeling but never quite understood it until this tale. I could not write anything else, this was the story that had to be told.
This was also the first time I wrote a story and someone outside of my family was intrigued by it. I remember my professor (my favorite throughout my college career) writing the note “Intriguing”. He wanted to hear more and it made me want to write more, to keep working on this story until I got it just right; which took about 3 years.
So Many Faces
This story tells the tale of love in its many different forms. A number of people tell about their love lives through letters.
This story started off as an idea of writing a letter. That was all that I wanted to do. I didn’t know exactly what the letters would be about, just that I wanted to write a story in letter form. As I wrote I figured out that I wanted to write it about love.
I know that love comes in many forms and different ways throughout a romantic relationship. I played with the different types of love and how relationships work. My favorite is the joking, teasing, fun time with one another.
From the people I have spoken to this is a favorite. I was surprised because I didn’t think this one would strike a chord with as many people as it did. Many liked the different format and I definitely will keep that in mind for future stories.
I Like a Good Fight
In this world there is an app that is designed to help you find your soulmate, or The One. You send in some of your blood and it uses it to find your match. Our protagonist doesn’t buy into it.
I wrote this one because I keep seeing apps and dating services. I am someone who doesn’t quite like the idea. I am cautious of it, mostly because you don’t know who exactly you are meeting.
I wanted to explore the idea of an app maybe actually working. I modeled the protagonist after myself. I wanted to explore my attitudes towards the idea and see if there was a way I could be okay with it. It was fun to think about what I would want from a relationship and how if you give someone a real shot, it may actually work out.
A writer is trying to get some words down onto a paper about a story. They are having problems getting a scene to work, not because they can’t find the words but because one of the characters will not stay where they belong. It is a story about an author fighting with their story to get it become what it is destined to be.
I wrote this one because I liked the idea of exploring a writer fighting with a character. I always see tweets and comments from writers talking about how they can’t get a character to behave. They want them to do one thing but they won’t. Or they try to give them a certain personality trait but it doesn’t work. Writer’s all know that struggle and I thought it would be fun to personify it.
A woman calls a friend desperate for help. She is afraid of what she has found in her home but is also reluctant to do anything about getting rid of the problem. Her friend helps but we learn that sometimes helping others is an excuse to not help yourself.
This one was actually inspired by a song lyric, “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed/Get along with the voices inside of my head.,” from “The Monster” By Eminem featuring Rihanna. I heard the lyric and instantly thought about skeletons in a closet and what if the demons we carry with us weren’t scary? What if we could make them friends instead? What happens then?
I used this as a way to explore the idea of inner demons and what they mean to different people. I also wanted to explore the idea that our inner demons are only scary if we let them be.
A woman and a couple are arguing in a doctor’s office. The woman’s boyfriend is dying and there is only one way to save him. A treatment that will cure him but will destroy everything they have built. Is it worth it?
This story was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend. We were talking about how easy it was to fix a computer by resetting it. We joked about how it would be nice to be able to reset ourselves back to a point where things were going as we wanted them to go. I took that conversation and ran with it.
What if you could reset a human being? What happens after the procedure? Is all that time you take a way really alright to lose? Is it okay because someone gets a second chance?
A couple is arguing. They are at impasse in their relationship and the woman begins to see that what they have is toxic. She wants to leave but her boyfriend holds what she believes is the most important thing in her life. Can she walk away from him and start new? Or is she trapped forever because of what he possesses?
This story was inspired by the idea of keeping your dreams in a box. I have heard people talk about writing down dreams or aspirations and putting them somewhere where you can find and read them later. What if that box could hold literal dreams? What if someone stole it or held is hostage?
Can dreams be reworked to fit the new circumstances? Or are they shot because they revolve around one person or one place in time? What can you do to save those dreams?
A call comes in for a heart repair. A higher up is given the task because it is unlikely the heart can be fully put back together. A lesson is taught and a secret is revealed.
This is my favorite story in the collection and one that I have gotten a number of compliments on. This one came about from a song title, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” by One Direction. The song came on my Pandora and I found myself asking, where do broken hearts go? If you could physically have your broken heart somewhere, where would it be? What would do you be able to do if someone could hold it and mess with it? How would that change the way we handle broken hearts, despair or break ups?
This story was one I read at writers group I was apart of for a short time. I knew it worked when everyone was shocked by the end and it was a stunned silence. Then I got some great feedback and praise about it. It was a story I only rewrote a few times but it was one of those stories that again wrote itself.
A choices is presented to a young woman. A choice she has no idea how to make. A choice she has to make. She chooses and the world come crashing down around her.
I love “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels. I also love games that change based off your choices. I like the idea of being able to chose where the story goes. In this story I wanted to explore that idea on a higher level.
What if your life was dictated by a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel? What if you could do nothing unless you made a choice? What if you chose and found out you were going to lose someone or die yourself? How do you go on? How much control over your life do you truly have?
That is a glimpse into what inspired by stories. I hope it gave you an idea of what to expect in my collection. If any of the stories sparked interest or intrigued you, the collection is available on Amazon.
(Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own).
Ten stories that as you read you get a feeling something is different, a feeling that you aren’t getting the full picture. A collection of short stories that as you reach the end you realize that you were only seeing a small portion of the story. You finish a story and want to go back and reread, hoping to pick up on the little details you missed the first time. Ten stories that by the end you have something to think about.
What I loved:
I was interested immediately in the collection when it began with a prologue. I am not used to seeing prolongs in a collection of short stories. I usually attribute a prologue to something setting up pieces later for a story. I was interested to see how a prologue worked in a short story collection.
The prologue set up the fact that all these stories take place in the same universe, or at least most seemed to. I wasn’t expecting for this greater connection. I not only enjoyed the overarching redemption storyline but I also liked the little nods to stories that had taken place previously. I liked to be able to say, “Oh yeah, I remember her or that incident.” These little call backs were fun and kept me reading because I wanted to see how things would connect further.
I also really enjoyed some of the twists in the story. There were a number of stories that you didn’t quite understand what you were reading until the end. Then I got what it was about and was eager to go back and find the clue that I missed earlier. Any story that keeps you wondering and has a satisfactory reveal is always fun.
What I was just okay with:
I am not an overly religious person. I am not an atheist but I don’t talk about religion often and I don’t connect life events to a religious meaning. This might be why the religious undertones sometimes threw me out of the story.
I won’t say it was too much, it wasn’t preachy. I am always hesitant to read stories that have religious overtones because I worry that it will become preachy and make me feel like I am being lectured. This collection didn’t do that until probably the last story. That one was the wrap up story and I understood why it made use of religion as it did but I just didn’t find myself as enthralled by the story as I was with the rest of the them.
I think most of the talk about God and spiritual connections was wrapped up in the stories well. It made sense most of the time. It was just personally for me I felt myself pulled out once in awhile.
What I wished was different:
This is another personal preference thing. I always enjoy author notes about their stories but for I wish they were in an appendix at the end of the collection. I feel like the explanations take me out of the world, especially with this collection because they were all connected. If I want to know more about the inspiration for a story I will go and read the explanation. If I am satisfied with how I read the story I may not read the explanation. I know I could skip the those but being right in front of my face I feel drawn to at leas scan them. For me, I just prefer the explanations at the very end.
I gave this collection four stars out of five on Goodreads. I enjoyed it. I liked the twists. I liked that they were all connected in some fashion. It was a quick and enjoyable read.
If you are interested in this collection there are a few giveaways and promotions that the author is currently running.
Amazon giveaway, 10 ebooks which ends on Nov. 22nd.
Goodreads giveaway, 5 paperbacks which ends on Nov. 24th.
Kindle Free promotion on Nov. 22nd and Nov. 23rd.
So if this collection sounds interesting to you, take advantage of any or all of these promotions! Or if you want to purchase it outright, be sure to check it out on Amazon.
I recently finish a re-read of the Prisoner of Azkaban after getting the illustrated version. I decided to choose a handful of the Wizard World Book club questions for Prisoner of Azbakan and answer them instead of choosing just one.
Why does Lupin ask Neville to face the Boggart?
Lupin is one of the those people who can see past the outer facade of someone. He was able to see past Neville’s timid self. He saw past the self-doubt and fear. He saw the true potential that Neville held.
Lupin knew that Neville had power inside of himself. He knew that Neville just had to see himself succeed. Once Neville was able to stand up to his fear, he started on a path to becoming the Neville we see at the end of the series. I believe this moment gave Neville a test of what he could do and who he could become. In the end he learned that anyone, no matter their past, can face their fears and succeed.
Why is Harry so determined to prefect his Patronous?
The Patronous is a tool against something that terrifies Harry. The Dementors are a fear that at first he can’t see a way around. They pulled him down and he didn’t see how to make them go away.
He wants his Patronous perfect so that he can banish these things that bring him down. Harry can’t let anything defeat or hurt him. He needs power over these creatures. He can’t and he won’t let them rule him or over him. His Patronous gives him his power back.
Is Snape right to draw comparisons between Harry and James?
Snape can’t help but draw comparison. Harry is Jame’s son. It is natural to look at someone’s child and see their parent. People tend to look for traits so that they can say, “You are just like your father/mother.”
Snape sees Harry’s reckless behavior and sees a man that used to torment him. He sees a similar strong attitude, an attitude that makes him wonder if Harry is heading down a similar path to his father. Harry isn’t as arrogant as James but Harry does hold an opinion about himself, one he won’t let anyone change.
Harry disregards rules like James and his friends did. Snape sees these traits and draws an easy comparison. I don’t think it is a question of right or wrong. I think it is more of asking, can Snape see the difference between the two people?
Is Hermione close-minded as Trewlaney suggest?
Hermione is not necessarily close-minded. She is open to new things, she accepts Lupin, sticks up for house-elves and tries to not judge people too quickly. She can open her mind when necessary. What she can’t do is believe in something she can’t prove.
Hermione is someone who needs facts and figures. She needs to see the details, and be able to use evidence to prove something. She needs books to supply her with knowledge and lessons.
Divination takes a bit of ability to go beyond facts and figures. You have to believe a bit in what you can’t tangibly understand with book knowledge. Hermione can’t do that. She can’t work with something that can’t be learned from books.
I wouldn’t say she is close-minded but she is hesitant to go with what she can’t learn and prefect.
Has Malfoy inherited the grudges he bears from his father?
I would say in a way, yes. Malfoy grew up with a mindset drilled into his head. He was taught that Muggleborns are beneath him. He was raised thinking his family name made him important. He believes this because of his father.
During his time at school he starts to see the difference in what is real and what his father has drilled into him. He sees the way attitudes are different. By book six and seven we see Malfoy becoming detached with his father’s way of thinking and acting. He begins to doubt the way he was told to understand the world.
Do the Marauders trust each other?
In school, yes they did. They had no reason not to. Once they learned each other’s secrets, they learned who they were. They helped one another and in that process formed a strong bond. A bond that made them put all their trust into one another.
As they grew up and life got darker, misgivings snuck into their thoughts. They were in the middle of a war where no one knew who they could trust or not trust. People who never seemed evil were being caught as Death Eaters and hurting others. Even their strong bond began to crumble a little bit.
To keep Lily and James safe, they had to hide all they could from everyone. It was a dark and scary time, it was natural for them to wonder about the people around them. I think though that true trust between Sirius, James and Lupin was unbreakable.
It is that time of year again! NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and this year is going to be a serious challenge for me. For those of you who have no idea what NaNoWriMo means, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month in November.
I have been doing NaNoWriMo since 2012. I have only “won” twice, in 2014 and 2015. I have written a number of draft for novels though none have quite gotten past the initial draft stage. I use NaNo as a time to get as much of the idea onto paper as I can. Sometimes the stories just get stuck and I have to place them to the side until I can determine if they have anything to them.
Winning NaNo is difficult. You start off full of determination but as the month wears on you realize that writing a novel in a month is not easy. Many people get stuck in the middle and have no idea how to move forward. You get that beginning moving and when you hit the middle everything comes to a screaming halt.
Or you set up a schedule and in the end figure out that it just will not work for every day. One you miss that first day of words you find yourself trying to catch up and sometimes it just seems nearly impossible. The two times I have “won” I have been working until the last day. The years I have not won is because I get behind and can’t close that gap.
I love doing NaNo because I love the challenge. It pushes me to get as much of my novel done as I can. I need to get as many words down as I can throughout the month. I also make it more of a challenge for myself because of the fact that I hand write everything then type it up. Sometimes I think that makes it that much harder for myself.
This year will be my biggest challenge because I currently work two jobs and finding time to write has been difficult. I want to use November to see how I can better use my time. I know that “winning” this year may not be in the cards. I have two major work events in the middle of the month and then there is Thanksgiving and a shopping day with my brother. So I know there will be at least 4 days where I will get almost no writing done. But I want to see what I can do.
The best part of NaNo is that there is no real way to lose, unless you never start I guess. As long you get something written and get that work moving then it is worth the time. You may not get 50,000 words done but getting any words one the paper is what counts. Novels don’t get written by thinking about the story, they have to become physical for anyone to read them. NaNo helps give that push in order for you to get started. Once you have something on paper you have something work with.
This year I am going to be working on the novel I have been working on for two years now. It is about a world where alternate universe are kept in books and timelines, every choice made results is a new life and new world. Callie is in charge of keeping everything in order but once The Voices threaten her life and sanity she runs, leaving things to deteriorate. A group of people whose lives begin to devolve because of her choice must find her and put life right again.
I love the idea and have been struggling with particulars of it. Some pieces don’t fit and I have had trouble explain other aspects. Recently I rethought a huge portion of the story, got rid of a useless character and I now think I have it in a position where it can really roll. I am going to use NaNo to push this story as far as I can and see where I end up.
Who else is taking on this challenge in November? If you need a writing buddy find me on the site, my username is Shmibby. I would love to have some virtual writing friends to work on this with.
Good Luck to all those doing NaNoWriMo this year!
What would you do if you knew today was your last day to live? You will die before the day is over, there is no way around your fate. Would you live the life you always wanted to live? Would you open yourself up to a complete stranger? They Both Die at the End explores this idea through a bittersweet tale that will make you smile and cry at the same time.
Mateo and Rufus have both received their Death-Cast call. They will die within the next 24 hours. Mateo becomes trapped by fear in his apartment, afraid to take a step outside and truly live for his last day. While Rufus, a foster child, has lost himself in grief and survivors guilt after surviving the car crash that killed his family. He has no idea who he is anymore but he is determined to live his last day as the person he always wanted to be and not as the one other’s have started to see him as.
They both turn to the Last Friend App to find someone to live their last hours with. Together they extract their real selves from one another. Mateo puts fear aside and truly lives. Rufus lets go of his guilt and shows his true soft and loving side that got lost in the tragedy. They find not only friendship but love and a connection with one another on their last day.
What I loved:
Adam Silvera is the king of emotion. He knows how to invoke that tightness in the chest and that sting of tears in the eye. He knows how to create heartache from sadness and a bittersweet pull as well. He is among a handful of authors who make me fall into my emotions. It is rare I feel so connected to a set of characters. I desperately wanted this to end differently.
Mateo and Rufus were so well written. It is difficult to create round and dynamic characters with only one day of time to work with. Both of these characters start off one way and do a complete turn around by the end. In less than 24 hours Silvera manages to bring both of these boys out of hiding and put them into the lives they were always meant to live.
Mateo is lost and scared. He is a little obsessive. He is scared to experience life. He has no support system life, his mother having died giving birth to him and his dad in a coma.He would have stayed inside, letting his last day slip away.
Instead he uses the Last Friend App to find someone to spend the day with. He wanted to truly live but he doesn’t know that in this last day he will end up living the life he always dreamed of living.
Watching Mateo open up and be purely happy was sweet and heart wrenching at the same time. I felt a rock on my heart knowing he couldn’t get to truly live with this new side of himself. I imagined him making it though the day and becoming this full and whole person.
I felt connected to Mateo. I have always had a fear of taking risks and experiencing the world. His fear hit close to home for me. I have recently walked outside my fears and the feeling is freeing and exhilarating. I wanted Mateo to feel that full experience and see how awesome life can be.
Rufus is lost in his grief. He survived a crash that killed his family. He doesn’t know what to do with himself. He lashes out and hurts other without meaning to. He is lost and scared, much like Mateo.
Watching him push off that guilt and live with Mateo was exhilarating. He showed Mateo that he was a kind soul. He was able to show that he was someone to be loved. His transformation was satisfying. I wanted him to be able to show the world who he truly was. Knowing he wouldn’t leave that impression with everyone was hard to read.
I also really enjoyed the short snippets from other lives that we saw in the story. Each one had some small connection to Rufus and Mateo. Not all the connections ended well but it was this glimpse at how connected everyone in life is. No one exists in a vacuum. We touch lives in some way everyday.
I thought this was a nice touch to alleviate some of the pain and sorrow that clouded the story. The idea that we got to take a step away from the story for a moment and recollect and see that life went on for the people was a good way to ease some of the heavier emotions in this story.
What I was just okay with:
The only thing I was sort of only okay was the concept of Death-Cast itself. There is no explanation of how it works, which bugged me for the beginning of the story. I found myself asking questions about it but once I got into the story I realized it didn’t matter how it worked. Death-Cast wasn’t the main element of the story, it was the vehicle by which these boys were able to change. The story was about two boys connecting and living while discovering love and was not about the technology itself.
What I wished was different:
I honestly wouldn’t change anything in this tory. I read it in 3 days. There was nothing that help me back or anything that I couldn’t manage to get past. Even the insta-love aspect didn’t hold me back because of the finite time line that we were working inside of.
I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads. If you want a story about living life to its fullest, young love and finding your true self you will love They Both Die at the End.
“It’s just the fear of disappointing others or making a fool of myself always wins.” (pg.109)
“I may not be able to cure cancer or end world hunger, but small kindnesses go a long way.” (pg. 126)
“Entire lives aren’t lessons, but there are lessons in lives.” ( pg. 334)