Story Review: Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik from Unfettered II

Story Review: Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik from Unfettered II



Cover for Unfettered II taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Spoiler Free Summary:  Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik is the first story in the Unfettered II Anthology. A young boy and girl investigate a tower after dark. The secrets it keeps could make one of them a monster forever.

Character:  The characters were proactive if not memorable. I think this story fell short in two areas for me, the lack of sympathy I felt for the character is the first issue I had. Sure, the characters were taking action, but I just didn’t really care about them. Short fiction has to immediately connect readers to the characters or it will fall flat, and I think that’s what happened with this story. 

Exposition: For short fiction, this exposition was outstanding. The author’s crafting of words isn’t remotely in question. While this story didn’t really ring my bell, I’d probably be willing to give any of her longer fiction a try because of her style and how well paced her writing is. Honestly, this story comes down to a card match, which would bore me to tears in any other case, but the pacing and style of the writing allowed the story to flow well despite the lack of character connection.  

Worldbuilding: There’s not much here. The scene make sense, but I never really got a fell for much more than what I needed to know what was happening. I don’t think that’s bad, exactly. I wanted more though.

This image of Naomi Novik was taken from her website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Dialogue: This is the other area where the story fell short for me. Essentially, there’s a card game where people talk. That conversation didn’t carry the story the way it needed to. I’ll confess I like plenty of wit in my dialogue, and that’s not exactly a thing all writers do. Still, I read a lot of talking, and it the tone and pace of that conversation didn’t really do much for me. 

Description: This was good. This author shows a lot of skill in telling concise stories and giving plenty of detail. I’ve often said that you can tell a story is good if two of the categories listed here are good, and that holds in this case. The two categories (exposition and description), just happen to be among the categories  that are the least important to me. Regardless, this story truly activated my senses. 

Overall: Drama and character fall short, but readers who enjoy smooth stories with great description would love this little story. It has a pretty interesting premise, I just wish I was more invested in the character.

Thanks for reading



Book Cover of the Month Update!

Book Cover of the Month Update!

december-bracket_round-2Round 1 is over!  The Book Cover of the Month voting is now down to the Elite 8!

I want to thank everyone who voted. I think we ended with 68 votes. I hope you found a cover you fell in love with and that it won this round. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Now, the next thing is to vote in the next round!  Head on over here to plug in your votes for round 2!

This round of voting will last until Midnight Jan. 12.

Thanks for voting and reading,


Book Cover of the Month for December 2016

Book Cover of the Month for December 2016

december-bracket-round-1Where the idea came from: As a teacher, I follow my students after graduation. I look at their work. What I do, is I go to (where all the Navy photography can be found) and look at 10 pages. I share the photos I like on my alter ego’s page. It’s my way of giving my students credit for what they do, showing my support, and helping my current students see what we’re looking for.  So I took that idea to Amazon. I want to the Fantasy & Science Fiction section and looked at books released during the past 30 days. I look at 10 pages, and pick my favorite.  Then I post it on FB and talk about why I like the cover.

If you follow me on Facebook, and I’d be honored if you did (just like my page), you’ve seen me post my Book Cover of the Day post.  Well, since I’ve been talking about the book covers I’ve liked over the past month, I figured it would be fun for everyone to vote on their favorite.  Now, I started this in late December, so you’ll notice there’s only 16 this time. I’ll have a full 32 cover competition at the end of January. It’s my plan to do one every month, then do one for the whole year. This lets you all do a few things.

  1. It allows you to participate in my blog, which is pretty much awesome!
  2. You can get a picture of what I like about covers. I teach photography, and layout and design (among many other things). I like to look at work and talk about what “works” for me and what doesn’t
  3. I’ll read the winning book and post a review here on this blog.
  4. I get to meet more of you on FB and other social media sites.

How it works:

Well, that’s simple. The bracket is right here. You should also be able to see and vote on it below. This is my first time trying something like this, so we may have to work on some bugs.

First round voting goes from midnight Jan. 4 to midnight Jan. 8.

The Elite Eight voting last from the end of the first round until midnight Jan. 12.

The SEMIS go from then until Jan 14.

The voting for the FINAL lasts until midnight Jan. 17. I’ll post the results here on my usual Wednesday blog, Jan. 18.

I’d love this to reach as far as possible, so any like’s shares  RTs and whatever else social media allows would be greatly appreciated. I love book covers, and this gives all of us a way to talk about them, which brings me to my last point.

Talk about these. Talk about what you like. Talk about what you don’t. If we can look at art and critique it, we’ll all get better. I want to know what you guys think.