Thursday, September 4, 2014

Formating a journal and journaling book reviews

Our local writers' group is producing its third anthology soon, and yesterday I downloaded all the stories, poems and pictures from the dropbox, ready to start. Getting them all into the same format, clearing stray tabs and double-spaces, empty lines etc wasn't hard. But getting them all into the right order, to create a semblance of a whole, that's a much more difficult job. I've split the pieces into sections, titled each one "in" or "on" something, cheated with "independence," and done my best to tie the end of each section to the start of the one following. Which is fine, but where do I start? Where do I end? If it's true that I need to put the strongest entries at the start and end, how on earth would I be qualified to choose which ones are best?

Which kind of begs the question, how on earth am I qualified to write book reviews too. I'm definitely not qualified to rate books, hence the coffee ratings. And remember, coffee is rated for taste, not quality. Sometimes I really need a deep dark brew, and sometimes a light breezy cup will be just the thing to perk me up.

So now I'll take a break from formatting the journal and journal my book reviews instead, with some enjoyable youth fiction and bright cups of coffee to lighten my mood.

The See-Through Leopard, by Sibel Hodge, is a truly beautiful young adult novel that bucks the trend of trivial beauty and romance, sending a teen, who thinks she's lost it all, to Africa where she finds a deeper kind of beauty, a more serious purpose, and an unexpected healing. Drink some well-balance, smooth, full-flavored 3-star coffee with this truly memorable book.

For younger teens, Legacy, by Hugo Jackson, is an intriguingly different standalone fantasy that starts a new, exciting series. There's something for everyone here, from gorgeous clothes to complex machines, political intrigue, fierce battles, and plenty of fascinating creatures - dragons indeed, but no dwarves and elves. The author does a great job of combining human and animal characteristics, making this a truly fascinating read for any age. And if there's lots of well-thought-out backstory, that just adds to the sense of depth in this strange world. Enjoy with an elegant, complex 4-star coffee.

The Butterfly Curse, Azra’s Pith #3, by Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows, continues where earlier stories ended, with its sixteen-year-old protagonist growing into his heritage through another fun adventure. Aimed at younger children, it has a nicely odd cast of characters and a wise lesson to be learned. Enjoy with a mild light 1-star cup of coffee.

This next one's definitely for older teens. When the stranger came, by John Meany, is a scary short story delivered in the very convincing voice of a shy fifteen-year-old boy whose safe haven (and dog) are suddenly threatened by a stranger. Very frightening. Very real. Drink a bold, dark, intense coffee with this one.

But try The Elder Tree, by A. F. Stewart, for a gentler piece of sci-fi, suitable for all ages, beautifully told, and pleasingly imagined. It's a lyrical fantasy blending conservation issues with memories of the middle ages, and you'll find it on the author's page on Wattpad. Flare Nova offers a twist on straight science fiction with a seriously thought-provoking ending. Both are short, fascinating, and might go well with well-balanced, smooth-flavored 3-star coffee.

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