Review: “Get in Trouble” by Kelly Link

This review has been almost a year in the making, but it’s finally happening! After how much I didn’t really like Kelly Link when Bibliomancy did her Magic for Beginners collection, I’m upset about how much I liked this collection. Shhh, don’t tell Taylor.


Weekly Wrap Up + What We Read 3/13/16

Hey guys! Really fast post from on on the road, actually. And really, you guys know how this works by now!






Review: “Mermaids of the Deep and Other Mysteries” Short Story Anthology

It’s finally here! Taylor and I are back to bring you our joint review of the Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep anthology edited by Paula Guran. Once again, we had a hard time not chatting–and a harder time not arguing. However, you’re in for a treat if you hang out. I even hit him in the face with my book a few times.

Sorry in advance that the middle section is out of focus. Such is the fate of my poor, sad video camera. My birthday is in June, guys. Hang in there.

From the Notebook: Back to School Book Haul

Now that Amazon/Chegg have finally delivered all my school books for the year, I thought that it might be cool to do a book haul! Don’t worry: not a text book in sight. In fact, these books are all either fantasy/scifi short story collections, memoirs or–okay–some really strange philosophy texts. Some of them you’ll see on the blog … some of them you won’t. Either way, here’s a really cool 16 book haul for you guys!

Review: “After” Anthology: 19 YA Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia

Welcome all to my first video review without Michaela! Given separation anxiety (and because he also read it anyways) Taylor from Bibliomancy for Beginners is also guest starring! It is a longer review, but that’s because this is a short story anthology … and we can’t stop insulting each other.

13455518After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Goodreads | Amazon

If the melt-down, flood, plague, the third World War, new Ice Age, Rapture, alien invasion, clamp-down, meteor, or something else entirely hit today, what would tomorrow look like? Some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature answer that very question in this short story anthology, each story exploring the lives of teen protagonists raised in catastrophe’s wake—whether set in the days after the change, or decades far in the future.

New York Times bestselling authors Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis, and Jane Yolen are among the many popular and award-winning storytellers lending their talents to this original and spellbinding anthology.

Gretchen’s rating: 3 stars | Taylor’s rating: 4 stars

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Five Cool Short Stories You Can Read Online

I don’t think short stories get enough love.  Novels will always have my devotion because I love being immersed, but sometimes short stories can do things that novels can’t.  They can do more in less time, and leave you with incredibly strong impressions because there’s often only one big thing per story.  Instead of following a whole sprawling plot, you are entirely absorbed by that one big thing.  Good novels leave you with contentedness or complicated feelings; short stories leave you feeling like you just had a really, really vivid dream, or maybe got punched in the gut.

So because short stories don’t get enough love, and because the novel I’m reading right now is a beta-read and therefore not up for review, I thought I’d post a few short stories I like that can be read online, and why I like them, and then invite everybody to share their favorites, or their thoughts on the ones I posted.

Giantkiller, by Brenna Yovanoff: YA authors Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton, and Maggie Stiefvater used to run this short story blog.  There are years worth of stories up there, especially if you go into the Livejournal archives.  This one is one of the last ones posted, and…I have an unreasonable amount of love for it.  It starts out as a story about a couple of dysfunctional brothers, and then rapidly devolves into something weird and alien and scary.  And even then it’s about the choices, not the monsters.

Oh, and there are predatory groupies.

How To Talk To Girls At Partiesby Neil Gaiman: I don’t know if this counts as YA.  It’s kind of hard to pin this guy down to a genre sometimes.  In a nutshell: a couple of awkward boys go to a party to meet girls.  It is definitely, definitely not the party they were looking for.

My reasons for liking this one are pretty simple: it’s kind of surreal, and the main character is so charmingly clueless as he tries to make normal conversations with abnormal people, and nobody is apologetic about how weird they are.  Also, I kind of like seeing people find out that they’re in over their heads.

Blood Like Apples, by Tessa Gratton: another story from the Merry Fates blog!  If you like new twists on old mythology, you’ll like this one.  If you read The Lost Sun and liked it, here’s a familiar character for you, but it stands alone beautifully.  Fenris Wolf talks about why she has not swallowed the sun and ended the world yet.  There is kissing.

The Rapid Advance of Sorrow, by Theodora Goss: this story may be one of my favorite things I’ve read all year. It’s the most literary thing on this list, but it’s also definitely fantasy, in a strange, metaphorical, nightmarish way.  There’s an invasion, but not the kind with tanks.  There’s magic, but not the kind that can be explained.  There’s a lot of snow, and sad people.  It’s gorgeous.

What Used To Be Good Still Is, by Emma Bull: I read this one in the Firebirds Rising anthology, and I adored it, and I still adore it.  It’s about a mountain being dug up for mining, and a girl who can feel what’s wrong with the mountain.  It’s wistful, and sweet, and kind of beautiful.  I can’t say what else I like about it due to spoilers, but it’s really awesome.

So what are your favorite short stories?  If you decided to read one or two or all of these, what did you think?

When your writing style begins to lose its mind…

Did you know that could HAPPEN? It’s a true fact, believe it or not. I just discovered this, roundabouts yesterday. Here I thought I was being so awesome–I was starting off the New Year the right way: writing. This short story just kept coming and coming until I’d sacrificed multiple hours and 11 pages of notebook paper to its altar. Then I went to read it. My face looked a lot like…this.

Only less yellow. Anyways…

Whether you’re really conscious of it or not, everyone has a writing style all their own. It’s something you do naturally, without thinking about it, because that’s just the way you write. You probably don’t even realize what the nuances of it are because you just do it. But let me tell you: when you depart from it, you know it.

I didn’t understand this story right after I wrote it and I still don’t understand it a day after I wrote it. It is so not me I don’t know what to do with it. It’s lack of coherency is probably another problem I have to fix… But the thing is, I know what it ISN’T: it isn’t what I normally write. And I’m not talking genre or characters or anything like that. I write fantasy all the time, my MCs tend to be girls–it was actually a story idea I started months ago but never finished. The rewrite yesterday turned into another beast entirely.

The thing about writing is that it’s a fluid craft. It changes when you change, and you change day-to-day. Your writing one day won’t be the same the next day, and it doesn’t always get better consistently either.  You probably already know that the best writing comes when you’re in that “mood” that is really hard to find but always amazing to be in, as our friends from Calvin and Hobbs by Bill Watterson understand. And sometimes that creativity is just strange. Like this story I’ve got here. I’m going to need a decryption machine in Gibberish to understand just what’s going on. But you know what the funny thing is? I like it. I like it a lot. No, not the story. What the story represents.

Sometimes you start feeling like the way you write is tired and tried, but the problem is that you think you’re stuck with it. You think that this is the way that you write and, while you can learn to write better, it’ll always have that same flare to it. You started doing them because you thought it was cool, but now it’s like you’re stuck on them. I certainly thought I was. I had seven different stories started in my notebook, and I didn’t think I could write one of them well, so I just wasn’t writing. That is probably the worst thing you can do.

You know what, maybe it will take you all seven stories to get one paragraph of amazing writing. Maybe it’ll take you all seven stories to get a sentence. That’s okay. Just let out the words that want to come out and stop thinking about it. Yes, what comes out might make absolutely no sense, but that’s okay too. That’s nonsense you wrote. And maybe it’s less nonsense than you think.