Story Review: There Goes the Neighborhood by Vivian Kasley from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: There Goes the Neighborhood by Vivian Kasley from Alien Days Anthology

 

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  There Goes the Neighborhood by Vivian Kasley is the final story in the Alien Days Anthology. The Konnover family bought a lavish bunker for a random apocalyptic event. The bunker came in handy when a strange group of beings arrive on Earth. The only thing more horrible than the secrets the Konnover father keeps are the origins of the beings who’ve arrived.

Character:  The characters had trouble being proactive because they were crammed in that bunker/condo. This made the story feel like it was dragging at times. There are some wonderfully dramatic moments. This story relies on the drama between the members of the family. I don’t think it worked so well for me, but the elements are there. 

Exposition: This story is pretty solid in this regard. There is a  soliloquy of exposition near the end, but the story flows well. The pacing is also solid. I’ve already mentioned the only reason the story drags, but I’d have to say it wasn’t bad at all. 

Worldbuilding: There isn’t really enough in this story to evaluate. The story takes place on modern-day Earth. The above-mentioned soliloquy is pretty much all the world building we get.

Kasley
Image taken from the author’s Amazon page for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Dialogue: I think this is where the story didn’t work for me. When a story relies on its drama, the dialogue is critical. Here, the dialogue was simply “not bad.” If this book had more action and activity, this dialogue would be fine. However, since there wasn’t much for the characters to do, this needed to be outstanding, and it wasn’t. 

Description: This was a strength to the story. The story engaged all of my senses and I had a pretty solid picture for things around me. I could have used more character description, especially with the creatures, but this story did a good job of activating my imagination. 

Overall: This story is a solid drama. If you like psychological stories, you’ll probably think this one is ok. I wasn’t a fan because the drama didn’t pay off and the characters didn’t make a connection with me. It wasn’t boring by any stretch of the imagination, but it felt like a lot of unfulfilled potential to me. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Story Review: Songs Sweeter Still by David M. Hoenig from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: Songs Sweeter Still by David M. Hoenig from Alien Days Anthology

 

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Songs Sweeter Still by David M. Hoenig is the nineteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Fim is an alien creature the humans thought was incapable of higher thinking. When a strange voice from her planet calls on her, everything begins to change. Will the humans continue to ravage Fim’s planet for resources, or will Fim become something more than anyone had ever expected.

Character:  I liked Fim. She’s not competent, but she’s sympathetic and proactive, and that combination of traits is my favorite. This story had solid character development and foreshadowing. Everything plays of Fim as she grows and learns. The author did a nice job of making me want to know more about her and what would happen next. 

Exposition: This story is formatted a little more like I’m used to. It jumped from character to character, staying in that being’s life and mind for the duration of the scene. That allowed the author to provide details without revealing too much. Nothing in the story dragged or made the story seem boring.  

Worldbuilding: The world building is ok, but I wish I had more. I will say I got what I needed, but this story would have been far more impressive with a thousand or so more descriptions or details about how this planet works and what resource the humans are after (Fim only calls them rocks).  More attention to the culture and atmosphere of the planet would have elevated this story a lot.

Dialogue: The dialogue in this story worked. It wasn’t overly impressive, but it wasn’t wooden or even poorly-veiled  exposition.

Description: I probably could have used a bit more here for the same reasons as I mentioned while talking about the story’s world building. I can’t begin to tell you what Fim looks like or what the “rocks” look like either. I’m glad the author didn’t go to the other extreme, but this story was a bit hard to get lost in without the descriptors that bring it to life. 

Overall: This story is pretty good. No, it didn’t make my top three for the anthology, but that was because of an incomplete ending and lack of description. Plot wise, this story may have been the best concept out of the 20 stories in the anthology. The interesting premise and compelling character definitely make it worth the time to read it. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Story Review: Within the Storm by Beth Frost from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: Within the Storm by Beth Frost from Alien Days Anthology

 

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Within The Storm by Beth Frost is the eighteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. A grandmother sits her children down to tell the story of when an alien came to get shelter from a storm.

Character:  There wasn’t really any conflict in this story. I can say the main character is sympathetic. But without anything to struggle against, there wasn’t much pulling the story along. If you’ve ever helped someone get shelter from a storm, you know how this story goes. 

Exposition: This was better than the greater majority of the stories in this anthology. Despite being told in first person, this story doesn’t slow down to explain much.  

Worldbuilding: The story takes place on a farm on Earth, so there simply isn’t much world building.

Dialogue: The dialogue is conversational, but without any conflict, it felt mundane. It was like eavesdropping on the Waltons. 

Description: This was the strongest aspect of the story. The description was vivid with great attention to detail without forcing the story to come to a screeching halt. The characters received an equal amount of attention as the setting. All the senses got some sort of trigger.

Overall: This story just had no conflict. There was nothing pulling the story along. There was no danger. I can understand if the author intended to have an alien encounter story that didn’t involve some sort of invasion angle, but I had no reason to read other than I had paid for the book. For me, stories need something. No, the alien didn’t need to be hostile. We didn’t even need some sort of rush to save the alien from human experiments, but I certainly needed something. Maybe a “Keep him hidden” angle. Without a conflict to drive the story, I couldn’t get into it.

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Story Review: Another Day, Another Dollar by Juleigh Howard-Hobson from Alien Days Anthology

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Another Day, Another Dollar by Juleigh Howard-Hobson is the sixteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. During an alien version of a zombie apocalypse, one man finds a way to make a few bucks.

Character:  I re-scanned the story a few times and didn’t even find a name. So he’s got a “House, M.D.” sort of jerk-face appeal to him, but other than establishing he hates people and likes money, there’s no real character development in this story. 

Exposition: This story was told in first person, so that will always increase the amount of exposition, but I still feel there was a lot more exposition than necessary. I think if this were the first chapter in a story with character development, I’d love it. As a stand-alone story, it’s just a guy complaining about things while he kills alien zombies. Some people will love that. I’m just not one of them. 

Worldbuilding: This story takes place on an alternate Earth. There isn’t much more to it that that. We get some details on how this world came to be, but even that was buried in the aforementioned exposition.

Howard-Hobson
Image of Howard-Hobson was taken from her Amazon author page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Dialogue: This is not applicable as it’s just an internal monologue. 

Description: This is probably the best part of the story. Howard-Hobson’s description is very good. It’s detailed without being overwhelming. It’s strongest in describing the action and the aliens, but there is attention paid to all the senses, and that’s a positive. 

Overall: So this was a decent zombie scene. If you like a bit of zombie-killing mayhem, you probably won’t regret picking it up. It feels a bit out of place in the anthology, but it’s a nice little character scene. It drags a bit here or there, but it wasn’t boring. I personally need a bit more from the character than I got (or more of something), but it was ok. I’d say this is sort of like a pop-corn movie for readers.  

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Story Review: A Mission of Mercy by Mark Lynch from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: A Mission of Mercy by Mark Lynch from Alien Days Anthology

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  A Mission of Mercy by Mark Lynch is the fifteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Christopher Taylor, struggling with memories of his time as a POW, is about to investigate the most unusual crash ever. But when faced with putting a creature through treatment he’d previously faced, Taylor has to make a decision on what to do.

 

Character:  Taylor is sympathetic and absolutely proactive. The author did a fine job of helping us understand Taylor’s motivation, which is a step up from most of the other stories in this anthology. 

Exposition: This is still a big area of improvement for Lynch as well as for a lot of the other authors in this anthology. There was a lot of telling in this story. I’ll concede this exposition at least established something important, but the story dragged because I read a lot of backstory. 

Worldbuilding: This story is historical fiction. There’s not a lot of world building other than scene and location.

Dialogue: The dialogue in this story was also limited (another reason the story dragged for me). What dialogue I remembered and reviewed seemed at least natural, but it was a very small aspect of the story. 

Description: I think the reader gets what he needs, but even I didn’t get as much as I wanted. There was attention spent on sight, but little other senses, so the story lacked a visceral quality for me. 

Overall: A readers opinion on this story is going to depend entirely on what they think of the ending. I didn’t like it, but I did understand it. I would have preferred a different decision for the same motivation. The story wasn’t bad, but it did drag a lot. Taylor makes the story worth checking out if you like character studies. People who both understand and like the ending will think much more highly of it. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Story Review: Recidivism by Charles E. Gannon from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: Recidivism by Charles E. Gannon from Alien Days Anthology

Happy New Year! I hope that the previous year was full of love and joy, and I hope this next year is even better!

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Recidivism by Charles E. Gannon is the fourteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Dan had written a paper regarding potential methods for planetary defense from aliens. While holding the rejection letter from his educational peers, he ironically faces the very threat he was afraid of.

 

Character:  This didn’t work for me. The biggest reason is that while Dan is a character, this story is far more like reading a military defense or scholarly essay than a story. I had go back and scan the story just to recall that much. 

Exposition: This is probably the biggest area of improvement for this story. It had more exposition than anything else, which made this a particularly difficult story to get through and then remember when it came time to write this review. 

Worldbuilding: I can’t reveal the reason this area is so weak because it would be a spoiler to the plot twist at the end (or at least I think that’s what it was supposed to be). However, that plot twist isn’t foreshadowed or teased at all, so it just seems to come out of left field. The smallest bit of worldbuilding would have helped with that problem.

Dialogue: This is non applicable since there wasn’t a single conversation or spoken word in the entire story. 

Description: The only description I remember from this story was the detail put into the papers on which the essay or memo was written. Again, the ending would have been more rewarding if there was more (I do vaguely recall some details about Dan) description in the story. 

Overall: Regrettably, this story reads like a scholarly paper with brief, impersonal interludes into the life of the one who wrote it. There’s no conflict at all to speak of. There’s not lesson learned for the character. There’s no journey. I just didn’t find it entertaining or compelling at all. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

 

Story Review: And The Light Faded by Lisa Fox from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: And The Light Faded by Lisa Fox from Alien Days Anthology

 

First, please let me offer you all a Merry Christmas! I hope this is a time of joy and love for you and yours. I wish you a Merry Christmas and many more. This is the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, who was born into humble human flesh, where he lived a perfect life so that he could die on the cross, thus paying the price for our sins and giving us freedom and life.

“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” (Luke 2:9-14)

 

AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  And The Light Faded by Lisa Fox is the thirteenth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Rosa thinks she’s about to mournfully observe another new year, another new year in a world without her daughter in it. An alien invasion changes everything. The come swift and terrible, and Rosa is forced to survive.

 

Character:  On one hand, Rosa is very sympathetic. She’s also proactive. This is one of those stories where I like a lot, but the thing I didn’t like, a decision made by the character near the end, really rubbed me the wrong way as an individual. I will acknowledge that Fox did a nice job making that decision seem realistic, but I still dislike the choice. 

Exposition: This probably had more than I’d like, especially in regard to the end. It wasn’t so much exposition that it lagged in places, but it was disappointing in that the exposition felt more like the author trying to justify herself than simply provide background. I’ve read a few stories like this, where I feel like the author is trying to defend him or her self. It’s only a problem because it shows the author feels defensive. 

Worldbuilding: This is an Earth alien invasion story, so there isn’t much need for world building. In terms of alien invasion stories, it is what it needs to be. Scifi fans who want to be whisked away may not enjoy it, but fans of drama-oriented stories will judge it based on how they feel about the ending.

Dialogue: This was solid. Maybe a little stereotypical, but not unbelievable. This is another area where the conversation seemed to dip sometimes into author justification. There really is only one conversation in the story, so it may be a bit unfair to judge it by that one conversation. Then again, if you’re going to write a story containing only one conversation, perhaps it should be a powerful conversation.

Description: I don’t remember much about this particular aspect of the story, which means it didn’t drag, but it didn’t activate my senses very well either. If I had to choose between dragging the story down or just moving it along, I’d go with the move along option. 

Overall: This story hinges on how the reader feels about the end. I personally didn’t like it, but those reasons are as personal as the sort of ending written. I’d say if you want to know, give it a read and see what you think. This ending is exactly the sort of ending meant to be discussed and debated. If you think it works, you’ll probably think the story is OK. I don’t know that anyone would call this story great though. For an alien invasion story, there’s certainly not much happening other than a long conversation based on the wealth gap. 

Thanks for reading

Matt