The Congress of Rough Writers is an anthology; a collection of stories by different writers. Charli Mills is the the series editor and brings into light the work of a diverse range of polished literary gems, penned by both experienced and inexperienced writers alike.
The anthology is sectioned into 5 parts with each part having a distinctive touch from the others, but related in a rather unique way, with part 6 containing the acknowledgements.
Part 1: Best of show is twelve collections of ten 99-word stories. Each chapter has been titled according to the prompt given in the challenge – a topic on which the story is to be based. The stories have been arranged to make a greater statement, which highlights the magnitude of the task and accomplishment of the editors.
Part 2: A new flash fiction challenge contains a collection of ten 99 word stories written to fulfill a challenge to include 3 particular words in their story. The spirited effort springs to life fascinating characters and evocative ideas.
Part3. Expanded flash contains five of the original 99 words stories, expanded into longer versions, but still under 2000 words. This section shows how a flash fiction story can be the seed for a more developed and intriguing story.
Part 4: Essays from memoirists is yet another unconventional part of this project which makes the experience of the writers’ itself the subject. Each essay gives an account of the experience of the writers writing flash fiction while also noting differences and similarities. Anyone who is a writer, or enjoys a look behind the scenes (think movie extras) will appreciate this section as much as I did.
Part 5: Building community with flash fiction is where we get to know more about the project itself. Here we get to know what flash fiction is and how it can affect bigger changes to a writer’s perception towards writing in general. I felt the explanations were easy to follow and flowed easily from topic to topic.
Part 6: Acknowledgements introduces you to the key persons who have been involved in bringing this unconventional project to light, giving the chance to authors, writers and non-writers, that come from diverse backgrounds. I enjoyed the exposure and introduction to the writers especially when I found the ones that wrote my favorite pieces of flash fiction.
This anthology is meant to both encourage and inspire the next generation of writers and authors, so that the craft of storytelling is preserved and propagated. I felt like this book was geared more towards writers, or aspiring writers, but the average reader should not shy away. There is plenty to enjoy in this series. As with any piece of flash fiction, they are better consumed piecemeal and at your leisure. Don’t look for some overarching theme and take pleasure in the quick creation of thought-provoking ideas and compelling characters. If you like shows like The Twilight Zone, then you’ll like this collection. It was tough for me to review this book as it is a collection of stories that range in quality and appeal. Overall I really enjoyed it. And, I suppose, that is the benefit of an anthology, if you don’t like one story, then just move to the next. What a fun read!
Pages: 166 | ASIN: B078BWZ9MD
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
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In Stephen S. Arend’s Soul Searcher The Reckoning Part One the reader will find themselves on an incredible journey that will not only take them to the heart of battle but to the depths of the human soul. In a world where magic is as common as breathing, a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. The Mage-Lord Mordeth is attempting to complete a magic ritual where he can obtain a sliver of immortality. Thwarted and split in two the reader will meet the protagonist of Arend’s tale: Rork. A crafted man with half a soul and even less emotion, Rork prowls the world trying to deny the dreams he has which give small betrayals of his involvement with Mordeth. A large man who has been alive for only ten years Rork finds that he is missing much and is less than reluctant to find out where exactly he came from and how.
Arend does a wonderful job when it comes to emotion in his tale. Rork is full of rage and anger for a variety of reasons. He has been alive for a snippet of time. All he knows is battle and the haunting dreams that plague his sleep. Due to his firecracker temper which is liable to go off at the drop of a pin Rork finds himself saddled with an unexpected package: the scout Bregan. It seems like oil and water have met and are now expected to become friends. Rork immediately voices his disapproval over traveling with the young whip but what he will ultimately learn from his adventures with the scout. Both are more like boys in the beginning and Arend captures the metamorphosis into men quite well.
In a fantastically described world where magic is woven with intricacies even the smallest detail is given quite beautiful description. It is quite easy for the reader to picture the story in their minds as they read. You won’t be left guessing what expression the characters were wearing or what color the trees are when you read Soul Searcher.
For a first part Arend does masterfully in capturing the readers’ attention and lays out the ground work for subsequent tales. Information is freely given yet there is still more to be learned. These are key elements in any piece of work that is meant to go longer than the tome at hand.
With carefully crafted battle scenes and delicate explanations of magic Stephen Arend knows what his novel is about and is diligent in conveying the story to the reader. He takes the relationship between two unlikely friends and uses it to tell his tale. He doesn’t over embellish the tale which can be a major faux-pas for many fantasy writers. He uses his skills to convey the story in all it’s glory without diminishing the importance of the relationship between the two men. Other writers would gloss over the importance they play for each other and how they are essential to the development of each man’s personality,
Soul Searcher is a fantastical novel that is sure to delight those who read it. It’s not a fluffy piece where magic is used to make tarts and cakes. This is an involved and epic tale that is sure to keep your eyes glued to the words until the very end.
Pages: 222 | ASIN: B01IQP0QOU
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The Six and the Crystals if Ialana is the first book of the Ialana series. The author, Katlynn Brooke, brings this coming-of-age fantasy to life with rich details, a large cast of characters, and a world rife with magic.
Jarah is the son of a baker but isn’t happy in the village. Night after night, he dreams of an island nestled in the sea. When the King’s army comes through demanding young men for conscription Jarah, Aiden, and the local bully Blaidd are caught up by the press gang. Jarah and Aiden discover that they are having identical dreams, but Blaidd is not. Tristan, an older soldier, overhears them and contrives to help them all escape. In the mountains, Kex fights with her family over marriage, so she packs her things and leaves her clan. Tegan, a budding healer, flees her burning village. Djana is smuggled out of the city of Rhiannon when her parents are captured and sold into slavery. They are all driven to find the places and the people from their dreams.
One by one, they find each other in the woods and are rescued by a mysterious shape-shifter named Irusan. The enigmatic creature becomes their first teacher, revealing secrets about their past and hope for their future. They discover the first glimmers of their unique gifts, and Irusan prepares them to take up a quest they failed in another life, five hundred years in the past.
I was delighted by the world of Ialana. The landscape is richly described, and the history of the people and their legendary ancestors provides a foundation for the wonders that the Six will encounter. The origin of humans is complex, steeped in mystery and deeply connected to the crystals. The Dherog, descendants of dragons, make terrifying antagonists. Lord Amrafalus’ rule over half the continent bringing slavery, mutated creatures, and fear. The goal of the Six is to heal the damage of the Dherog, free the world from slavery and oppression, and return it to harmony.
Be prepared for a large cast of characters. The author does a fine job of showing how each of the six healers learns and grows throughout their journey, and that was my favorite aspect of the story. I was grateful for the chapter and section headings that identified the character or setting. This was helpful because the point of view changes so often that it can be confusing. Some key scenes felt rushed, summed up in just a few sentences, and I wish the author had taken more time to show the scene unfolding instead of just telling readers what happened. There’s a lot of information to remember, and a lot of it is “told” in conversations where people discuss what they already know. However, some of the best parts of the novel are when the characters discover their history for themselves. While some scenes are genuinely terrifying, there’s very little graphic violence, but a lot of nail-biting suspense that will keep the pages turning.
The Six and the Crystals of Ialana is a solid YA fantasy that calls to mind classics like the Shanarra Chronicles. The plot is refreshingly original, complete with surprising plot twists and interesting, engaging characters. It ends on a note of suspense that leads to the next book in the series.
Pages: 254 | ISBN: 0692573771
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