A round-up of my favorite stories in 2022!
One Man's Trash by Ryan Southwick
Quite an enjoyable, cozy science fiction romance, a perfect treat for yourself or a friend for the holidays, or any time of the year. Southwick writes both Croft and Maria's perspective with equal fervor and empathy, with each character's thoughts unraveling like their own sweet mysteries. Science Fiction lovers will be endeared to not only to the romance, but to the hard-scifi feel of the space dock setting and the AI themes, with a dash of space adventure and ancient mystery thrown in. Everything fits together so naturally, from the character dialogue, to the cleaner robots who love Croft, to Maria's relationship talk with a true AI. I would hand this book to my teen to read, as it is fairly family friendly while also displaying a mature level of emotional IQ. Looking forward to reading more by Ryan Southwick!
"Lucas Hale and the Founder's Key" is a promising start for this break-out fantasy series. While fans of Harry Potter will find much to love in the magic school with competing houses, Ratliff's writing has its own unique flavor. Great characterization draws readers in from page one, and a unique multi-world backstory enhances the comfortable backdrop of familiar genre tropes. This coming-of-age story is solid entertainment. While sometimes I wished that 13yos were smarter, I also found their decisions distressingly realistic and in character, without making the protagonists out to be morons. Somebody put a tracker on my tweens, stat! Seriously, though. Ratliff does a good job showing how powerless young teens can be in a world of adults, while still showcasing Lucas' agency and growth.
Literally Dead anthology: "The Ghost Lake Mermaid" brings Alethea Kontis' unique flair to this anthology. Great characters, engaging visuals, and solid storytelling. A fierce narrative exploring the unfairness of life, and the hope that the living might yet address the wrongs of the past--and thereby the present, and the future.
"It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences" by June Casagrande.
Maybe you look at a passage of your work and you know it's a little boring, and you want to understand why. Maybe you get comments from readers saying that sentences are "too long," which is code for clunky, confusing, or full of filler words. For me, I have always enjoyed grammar, but it had been a while and I had never read an entire book about grammar aimed at writers. This book addresses some of the common advice you will hear and explains it more in-depth. I found the book entertaining, so I still enjoyed the sections that covered issues I already knew. I appreciated the moderate opinion, the understanding that these rules are not absolutes. I also enjoyed the sample sentences with sample edits. I'm calling it a refresher on grammar because I feel that if you don't already know many of these terms, the use of them will be overwhelming.