Ex Libris: A Review

ExLibris

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Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 384

ISBN: 9781607014898

*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This collection of fantasy short stories explores the relationships of readers and librarians, the wonderful work librarians do, the fantastical places that libraries can be… and all of that mixed with lore.

Now, I must say this book really caught my interest when I first saw it! Stories about librarians, libraries, and lore in the same book? Count me in! Also, the Latin title got me. I think it speaks for the theme’s oldness, deep knowledge, and mystical air. The best thing about Ex Libris? It did not disappoint me – in fact, it even surprised me more than once!

Of all the book introductions I’ve read in my life, Paula Guran’s one in Ex Libris is by far the best one out there yet (at least for passionate readers and anyone who loves libraries). She tells us of the different libraries and librarians from all genres in literature while punctuating it with excerpts. Her research must have taken her a long time… but I want to say it was well worth it and beautifully done. It’s an introduction I won’t forget anytime soon. As for the reading itself, it flows – it is engrossing and lovely. It also got me quite emotionally invested in the stories, characters, and life itself (I still haven’t figured out how it managed to do that with the last one, but it’s still a neat feat!). Moreover, I had a magical read! The stories (most of them) were very funny and amusing. It reminded me of the magic libraries hold and how time flies by when I’m reading. It is an enchanting and lovely book!

All the short stories in this collection have a varying degree of importance related to books and/or libraries – you never know what to expect except that these two elements will be there in some way or another. To what extent and use is the surprise of each story. Speaking of stories, they were quite imaginative. They even manage by some mysterious force to be believable (don’t ask me how, I’m still working on understanding it)! The voices of the many narrators are clear, distinct, and strong. I would have thought some stories would lack in voice… but I was shown wrong with this collection! Woven into the texts are amusing references to real books – it’s a nice addition and at the same time a necessity regarding the library theme.

The vocabulary used in these stories is diverse, beautiful, and precise. The short stories aren’t too long – I believe their length has been well measured as it makes for captivating enough without becoming boring. Some stories are drama, others are adventures, but all have a subtle touch of humor and are engaging in their own way. One thing is for sure: together, those short stories are an eclectic mix – although it is sometimes destabilizing, it is also quite pleasant, much like refreshing parts of the same whole. Another thing I particularly enjoyed about Ex Libris is how diverse the situations and characters are! Some are people of color while others have illnesses or handicaps. A much appreciated touch that helps make those weird (it’s a compliment here) stories more realistic! There is something different I noticed about the format of these short stories: they include subtitles related to books or libraries (like the widely used Dewey decimal system), quotes, and other fun things. It’s a great idea to make their format somehow fit their main theme! I also think they were well structured, which helps the reading experience by making it easier on the eye. Finally, I loved learning about the authors in the ‘’About the Authors’’ section at the end. At first, I thought this was a collection of short stories written by emerging authors, but oh no! They are all big names like Holly Black, Ray Bradbury, and many others! It’s imposing and impressive.

You’re probably wondering where are the negative points, aren’t you? I was too, frankly… However, there are only two of those, which I am pretty sure are now fixed since the book has been released. I have found a few typos, additional and unneeded words, and sometimes forgotten conjugations. The other thing that bothered me (only slightly as the rest of the book was well worth my time spent reading it!) was how many repetitions there were. For example, in two close paragraphs the words ‘’soft’’ and ‘’softly’’ were used thrice. It happens here and there and, like in that example, it can pull you out of the story you’re reading. Those points aside, the book is pure entertainment with mysteries written in its pages.

The idea itself of a book about libraries and librarians wins numerous points with me. It hit home and I think it will do the same thing with other bookworms. In fact, it is a good fit for anyone who has a (secret) love of books and libraries and the people who help keep them in order. I give it a rating of 5 out of 5 because of the library theme, the quality of the stories, and also because I always wanted to resume reading it. I’m pretty sure all fantasy fans will find Ex Libris quite entertaining and worth their while since it has varied short stories – in other words, there is a short story for everyone in this amazing collection!

As a bonus, here’s my ranking of my favorite Ex Libris short stories:

1- In the House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages

2- The Last Librarian by Edoardo Albert

3- Death and the Librarian by Esther M. Friesner

4- Special Collections by Norman Partridge

5- In Libres by Elizabeth Bear

Please note that all short stories had something unique to them and the ranking above is simply based on my personal tastes!

If you want to know more about the editor, Paula Guran, and Prime Books, the publisher, click here for the first and here for the latter.

Well, Well… Look Who’s Not Stuck Anymore!

Hello, folks!

Remember I said that whenever there were news and updates concerning my writing I would tell you? Believe it or not, there are!

I’m psyched!

You know how I’ve been stuck with my novel (first in a pentalogy) Down to Earth for months now? I have finally written myself out of that infernal corner!

YES! That means I now know where the story’s going and more importantly what to do in order to get there. I just need to sit down and do the timeline of big events and relationships, but other than that I’ve solved the big issue. Isn’t it fantastic?!

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « fantastic gif »

Also, my Nightshade series is very close to my heart and has quite a strong presence in my mind… You know where I’m getting at, of course. Because of that, I’ll try to outline and write the first book (Nightshade: The Death Stone) in that series at the same time as Down to Earth. Call me crazy… I’ll just say you’re right, but it feels so good.

Lastly, I told you a week and a half ago I had an idea for a novella. Whilst it’s still true, this ”novella” of mine seems to be expanding into either a full book or a duology or something of the like. I’m still trying to keep it at its current size, but really it’s counterattacking me to get bigger, so I’ll look at what to do with it. Moreover, I started researching (I’ve even got a notebook for that purpose!) fairies, Ireland, and the Seelie Court. I’m having much fun!

Although I don’t give myself deadlines when it comes to writing (unless it’s for a contest or a magazine), I am working hard on disciplining myself. It might seem odd coming from a woman who’s studying her bachelor’s degree in translation online (no, really!) and who needs a high level of discipline to succeed at it, but when it’s about my writing, I’m quite sporadic and spontaneous. I’m quite proud to tell you I’ve been writing every day of the last week, so it’s coming along!

And that’s all for today! Watch out for another book review this week. I’ll also keep you updated about my writing projects (those three main I just talked to you about!).

As always, thank you for being interested in what I have to say and accompanying me on my writing journey. It’s an immense pleasure to have you here with me.

Where is your writing at?

Is it hard for you to be disciplined for your writing?

 

 

Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Review

Online Marketing for Busy Authors_Fauzia Burke

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*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

The book Online Marketing for Busy Authors by Fauzia Burke, a leader in online book marketing and consultant for authors, explores essential aspects of marketing such as personal branding, reader profiles, goals, and much more. It offers a plethora of resources, exercises and integrated worksheets.

Fauzia Burke really does the job she set out to do in this short yet immensely helpful book. Since there are several good points to it and very few negative points, I’ll start with the latter: it is indeed too short. That’s it. I loved it so much I craved for more information, examples, explanations, and resources! I was satisfied with the book when I reached the end yet disappointed because I wanted to dive even more in Miss Burke’s experience.

As for the good points, prepare to be overwhelmed (no, really, this book is fantastic for authors like me who have no idea how to market their books!). In the first pages, the author makes it clear what to expect from her book and what its structure is (three sections in order to make the best gradual use of it – a step-by-step approach). I must admit what I loved most about this book is how straightforward it is: Miss Burke’s tone is friendly yet she doesn’t kick around the bush. She gives precise and direct information with just enough detail so as not to bore the reader. Plus, the information shared by the author is highly relevant to the field and does exactly what the title of the book implies. In other words, it makes you think about YOUR own online marketing strategy and find guided solutions for you. Her examples are clear and easy to understand.

This book also includes worksheets, advice, and quotes, which are all useful and well thought to help us. There’s even space for the exercises in her book – it’s close to being interactive! It really feels like the author, Miss Burke, truly wants to help us, starting from the basics and expanding on that newly learned knowledge. Her vocabulary is inspiring and diverse; it is also laced with kindness and even sometimes a pinch of humor. Thus, the writing is quite enjoyable and conveys the intended messages. Do you want to know another fabulous point about this book? It is free of typos and mistakes of any kind! That impressed me, I must say. It made my reading flow like a river (now, don’t you just like my failed attempt at poetry here?).

Miss Burke is always professional! Her twenty years of experience really show in all the information she gives us and how she does it too. She covers a wide range of topics and gives in-depth but short explanations throughout the book. Not only does she tackle what we can get out of each marketing effort, but also the why, which professionals rarely do. There are constant reminders of your goals and marketing strategy in every chapter so you don’t lose your focus. The author also provides tips on how to best use social media and certain platforms, which she deems the best in terms of online marketing.

Her views and guidance on the different marketing efforts are realistic. Miss Burke also makes use of good questions that prepare you and make you think about your own strategy. There are also lists of things to do that cover the steps you need to go through in order to succeed at that particular marketing effort. This book demystifies marketing for authors. It makes me feel more confident about my own online marketing strategy, which I’ll now tweak a bit thanks to Miss Burke! One of the best things about Online Marketing for Busy Authors is the tools (a.k.a websites) it gives us to learn more about our niche and potential bloggers, customers. It also provides the tools for us to find help, tips, and ideas. Lastly, Miss Burke does a recap of everything learned at the end of her book, which is a useful refresher training!

Fauzia Burke, the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors, hit the bull’s eye with her book. In my opinion, she covers all the essential points and makes it interesting, even for a marketing newbie like me. Because I found it very helpful and true to its blurb and title (and also her own experience as a leader in online book marketing), I give it a rating of 5 out of 5. There were no major bad points, only the fact that I wished her book was longer so I could learn about marketing even more. This book is perfect for fans of Joanna Penn and James Scott Bell for it gives practical tips to achieve your own online marketing with no nonsense explanations of how to do so, a particular manner that reminds me of those two great authors. If you’re an author or an aspiring one who’s lost in all the marketing you need to do, Fauzia Burke’s Online Marketing for Busy Authors simply must be on your shelf. I have the conviction it will make you even like online marketing, just as it did with me.

If you want to learn more about Fauzia Burke and her online book marketing company, you can do so here.

I’m Planning on Novelling Up

Hello, folks!

I’m here with exciting news and updates about my writing (yes, finally!) and my health. Let’s start with the latter.

As you know, I had to have my pacemaker changed, but don’t worry I’m doing fine except for the pain here and then (it’s normal, it’s only been a week!). I’m taking more time for myself through sitting still, reading, writing, and meditating.

Speaking of writing, I’ve had a perfect idea for a novella! Yes! This means that I’ll focus on structuring the idea (I’ve had the plot in general!) and writing it. It’s a YA fantasy about a young girl with quite the temper who meets with the Seelie court (or the fairy realm, if you prefer). It’s going to be fun and lovely! Of course, I shall update you regularly on how the writing of the novella goes because it has now become one of my two main projects.

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(As a proof, here is the temporary title I am using for my novella – it’s more of a practical use than a real title, but it does the job for now. I’m still brainstorming the right one while I create the outline and research fairies!)

I found two helpful articles on how to write a novella. The first is from The Lady Writer and I think it’s actually the best of the two for it even tells you what are the scenes you need in your outline and it makes use of her 8-stage plot, which I prefer over the uninspiring (in my opinion and experience) 3-act structure. The second is an article from NowNovel, a writing platform I adore, which gives you six tips on writing your novella.

As for my novel project, I don’t even know where or how to start talking about it, but I’ll try. I’ve been stuck for months, as you probably guessed it from my previous posts, but this week I had an epiphany: I’d found the main storyline! So, yesterday, I sat down to write what I thought would save the story… only to find out it was not enough. I’m angry because I can never seem to fly with this particular project. I’m close to giving it up. You see, I have many scenes in mind (others are written) and I have all the characters as well as the ending and beginning, but I cannot for the life of me find the story in it. It’s both frustrating and immensely saddening. However, I keep working hard at it, hoping for a creative breakthrough of some kind. I am making progress, but very slowly… Do you remember the turtle and the hare in the fables of Jean de La Fontaine? The hare takes a break during the race and the turtle, though going at a slow pace, reaches the finish line first, thus winning the race. I like to believe I am the turtle with my novel.

Other than that, I told you I’d give you two book reviews when I’d come back and it’s true: you can expect them in the first week of August!

As for you, do you plan on writing a novella? If so, what is it about? If not, why?

Also, if you have tips on overcoming a major issue in a story (just like with my novel project), please do share them with me!

Thank you for being with me on this crazy but amusing adventure!

Happy writing!

Absence (For a Very Good Reason)

Hello, everyone!

I’m posting this short message to inform you that I’ll be getting a new pacemaker (heart surgery) tomorrow, thus I shan’t be available for a week or two. I promise two book reviews when I come back though, yay! I’ll also implement the changes I talked about a few days ago.

Thank you and have a nice week.

Important News: How Things Need to Change on My Blog

Hello, everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed the last post on Android’s Writing Apps. Since then, I got an iPhone SE that I love with all my heart (no kidding) and I finally got my hands on the Scrivener iOS app. It’s a little gem at my fingertips! I should look up World Scribe, though… in case it’s on iOS, too.

Anyhow, I don’t remember telling you, but I am working on a comic book script. Oh, and by the way, I am now part of a newspaper! Huh huh! It’s quarterly and I have to format it, produce about 1 to 3 texts (both literary and informative), and proofread it. It’s charity work, too. However, it gives me a foot in the industry… which I hope to be part of as a writer later on (paid, of course).

So, I’ve decided things would change around here:

  • There will be a lot of different writing advice. I don’t know if I ever told you, but I dabble into many fields. So expect writing advice pertaining to TV writing, comic book writing, novel writing, short story writing, poetry writing, and maybe even movie writing. I agree it’s a lot; however, there is no way for me to keep away from all these opportunities. Don’t worry, my main focus will still be novel writing, but let’s say I’ll publically add more diverse projects and posts to my blog.

 

  • I rarely publish my thoughts about anything except for book reviews. This is going to change. Now, don’t get me wrong: I shan’t talk of the sunny afternoon on a writing blog, unless it has something to do with the actual process of writing. I feel it’s now time to express myself more on important topics.

 

  • As you know, I love to learn languages. I speak French, English, Italian, and Spanish. I am also currently learning Greek, Polish, and Japanese. I realized that not talking about those on my blog actually bothered me. So, here’s what I intend to do to mix your interests and mine: I will post definitions and special uses of English words (some rare, some difficult, and some ordinary) in order to content myself and help us all in the art of mastering the English language (and improving our writing, too!).

 

  • Don’t you find there are not enough updates on my own writing? Me too. I will now post an update once a week. I will get to finishing that novel of mine, fellow adventurers!

 

  • I love a good conversation and I seldom get them on my blog. Thus, I decided to create threads about important writing points or issues, such as heroines/heroes, protagonists, villains, etc. We could communicate and share helpful tips and questions!

I hope these changes don’t scare you too much, but I feel they are necessary for me to still enjoy coming on here and give you the best I can.

See you next post (I have two book reviews coming up) and keep writing, glorious fellow adventurers!

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Writing Apps on Android: A Review

Hello again, folks!

I promised you a review of two free writing apps available in the Google Play Store. Well, here it is!

Let’s start with World Scribe, my favorite of the two.

World Scribe by Averi Studios

Just like its name says, this app lets you build a world along with all the connections, concepts, characters it must have for it to be believable and great.

Positive points:

  • It is cute but simple and easy to navigate and create new files (or even worlds). There’s a big ”+” button for that need and it’s quite hard to miss.
  • We can add pictures!!! (I cannot stress this enough as I am one who loves casting my characters or even add a picture that resembles the place I am creating.)
  • There is a space for general information, the possibility to create memberships and roles to groups YOU create, residences (worlds), various connections such as relationships to one another or with a certain item, and snippets of information that do not fit in the bio.
  • A fact I particularly liked: it can backup to Dropbox! So even if you lose the app or it doesn’t work anymore for whatever reason, you can find all you need in Dropbox (if you backed it up once or more, of course).
  • There are different app themes which consist of five colors and even a night mode (the background then becomes black).
  • You can create as many worlds as you wish!
  • There is a search function in each tab (or category) if you ever have too many characters or else.
  • You can even create concepts about your worlds, items, characters, or whatever it is you want the concept to be about. It is fun to have this possibility because we know that there are many concepts in a world in order for it to feel real…
  • Last but not least, no ads!

You’re probably wondering where the negative points are… I am as well for I couldn’t find any! For an app, it is quite interesting and worth the downloading and installing bits. Now, you can have your worlds and basic character descriptions at your fingertips, wherever you are. Doesn’t this sound magical? It is! So, I give this cute and useful app a rating of 5 out of 5. I recommend it to everyone who writes! Even if you’re not worldbuilding, you can just enter the basic information of the real place your characters are set in and then expand on the relationships, groups, concepts, etc. Thus, you’ll have all you need to start writing on a whim on the subway or on the bus or anywhere, really!

Writing Prompts by Datamix Soft

This app gives you writing prompts for when your creativity fuel is running low or only to exercise your writing skills.

Negative points:

  • There are ads, which is annoying.
  • The interface is dark (bleh) and the pixels show; it doesn’t have a nice and beautiful finish feel to it.
  • There is a tab titled ”Writing Guides”, but when I click it, it tells me to download another app from them in which there are all of their writing guides. This would have been very interesting if it were integrated in the Writing Prompts app. Otherwise, one must use more download in order to get to them…

Positive points:

  • The prompts are fun and diverse. However, they are not precise enough with ideas – they’re more about techniques.
  • Easy navigation.
  • The ”Online Writing Communities” tab lists the 7 most popular writing communities you can find online along with short descriptions and direct links to them. I even discovered a few! This is, by far, the best point of this writing app.
  • The interface’s main screen is a fun space – it mimics a corkboard with the prompts written on a small piece of paper pinned to it. If only it weren’t so pixelated…

Unfortunately, I don’t really recommend it unless you want to explore the various online writing communities, that is. I give this app a rating of 2 out of 5 for the easy interface and the discovery of online writing communities.

Next up will probably be a book review or my review of K.M. Weiland’s outlining software!

P.S.: I’m so glad I re-read my last post because I had completely forgotten about my sci-fi short story… Don’t worry! I’ll get to it and share it with you in due time. Once the research and writing parts are done, of course.

P.S. 2: Also, if there are apps or sites you want me to review or anything you’d like to know, just comment and tell me! I’ll do my best to help you.

Will you try one of these two apps? If so, what did you like and dislike about them?

As always, thanks for sticking with me and see you next post!