Armchair BEA | Day Three: Novellas & Short Stories

Shorter fiction is just as close to my heart as full-length novels are, and today’s topic lets me show that!

Now it is time to give a little love to those little stories in your life. Share your love for your favorite shorts of any form. What is a short story or novella that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves? Recommend to readers what shorts you would recommend they start with. How about listing some short story anthologies based upon genres or authors?

Here are some not-quite-books that I love.

“The Witch of Duva” by Leigh Bardugo

This illustration for the story was done by Anna and Elena Balbusso.

There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls…or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home.

This is a tie-in to Leigh Bardugo’s YA tsarpunk series The Grisha Trilogy, which I love to pieces anyhow, but this chilling, sinister folktale has a beauty of its own. For those who are already Grisha fans, Leigh’s trademark Ravkan worldbuilding and ghostly mood flavor every bit of this story, and its brevity does nothing to detract from it. In fact, the memory of reading “The Witch of Duva” will only add another deeper dimension to your experience of Alina’s Ravka. If you haven’t already been introduced to this series, this short piece is a wonderful introduction. The ending has a deliciously creepy impact that will stay with you for hours, even days after you’ve finished, and the language spins a web of magic and darkness. Sharp twists on fairy-tale tropes are also immensely important While it’s a tad long for a short story, it is well worth your time. It’s all haunting and oddly breathtaking, which is really what many readers have come to expect of this brilliant author. (I know I certainly have – the conclusion to the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, is one of my most anticipated books of the year.)

“How, Ever” by Samantha Chaffin

This is the story of how Ever Macintosh changed my life.

“How, Ever” is a heartbreaking, honest novelette about just a boy and just a girl – and yet so much more than that. Samantha Chaffin is an as-of-yet unpublished writer on Figment, which is a shame, because she’s got crazy skills. I’m friends (if I’m not overstepping here, haha) with her through the website, and her down-to-earth voice seeps right through into this story. The length is shorter than a novella but longer than a short story, but that isn’t off-putting in the least. To be quite honest and to embarrass myself a little, my eyes were burning with tears in front of the computer screen when I’d finished reading – probably not a great sign of sanity from the perspective of my parents.

Read. This. Samantha has an absolutely fabulous contemporary style and she deserves the love!

“The Little Android” by Marissa Meyer

When android Mech6.0, saves the life of a handsome hardware engineer, her body is destroyed and her mechanics discover a glitch in her programming. Androids aren’t not meant to develop unpractical reasoning or near-emotional responses… let alone fall in love.

Of course, Marissa Meyer is one of my favorite authors PERIOD. Her Lunar Chronicles series does some truly groundbreaking things with fairy tales while doing its own original plot alongside it, making these books some of the most exhilarating ones I’ve ever read. So it stands to reason that this companion story, “The Little Android”, would be an entirely feels-inducing and glorious retelling of The Little Mermaid.

Enough said, actually. *points* Please click the link now for all our sakes.

What about you – do you love short fiction as much as I do?

Armchair BEA | Day Two: More Than Just Words

Today’s daily topic for Armchair BEA is really interesting, and one that I’ll have fun with: “More Than Just Words”. (Read the first Armchair BEA post here.)

There are so many mediums that feature more than just words and enhance a story in a multitude of ways. Examples may include graphic novels and comics, audiobooks, or even multimedia novels. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats?

So today, because of this wonderful prompt, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite storytelling experiments on the web: Storybird.

Here’s a short description, taken from the Storybird “About” page:

Storybird lets anyone make visual stories in seconds. We curate artwork from illustrators and animators around the world and inspire writers of any age to turn those images into fresh stories.

What I love about this site is that every story is really based around its illustrations – the pictures are what take the creators’ minds to new places in the plot. Storybird’s illustration curators are truly wonderful, filling the selection with whimsical drawings full of imagination. These allow writers to bend genres and tell tales that are weird in the best of ways. I’ll be highlighting two of my favorite Storybird pieces below! (And I’m user “QueerStarflower” if anyone wants to swing by.)

The Tale of My Father’s Five Tasks to Break Our Family’s Bad Luck Curse

I’m actually acquainted with the user “Linnaly”, who wrote this delightful picture book with images from the Storybird illustrator Oya. (Incidentally, Linnaly’s other writing is lovely as well.) But “The Tale of My Father’s Five Tasks to Break Our Family’s Bad Luck Curse” follows a well-loved, warm fairy tale format, with a voice that is sure to endear itself to you.

The Short but Sad Tale of a Girl Named Bella Luna

This magical, entrancing “short but sad tale” follows a little girl named Bella Luna and her journey. It has a simple storytelling style and an atmosphere that really stuck with me.

Of course, I would be remiss in not also providing some graphic novel recommendations for this topic:

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips.

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom–Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.

Add this to Goodreads here.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part.

Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.

Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.

Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.

Add this to Goodreads here.

These graphic novels are both fabulous, but don’t take my word for it! Read them – and the Storybird pieces as well. Happy second day of Armchair BEA!

Armchair BEA | Day One: Introduction

Hi, there! As part of Literoses’s entry into the blogosphere, I, Christina, am participating in this year’s Armchair BEA. This is an event that parallels the real Book Expo America in New York – but entirely online. I’m excited to get started with this first post, which is an introduction of myself. I’ve answered five questions below, and I hope you all enjoy getting to meet me.

Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

I’m Christina, to be short about it. I usually call myself hopelessly bookish, which sounds more romantic than it actually is. I’m really just a teenage girl awkwardly finding her way through the huge and wonderful world of words. I’ve been blogging on and off about books in a variety of places since about 2011, though Literoses only came into being a little while ago. Originally, I got into blogging not really intending to have much of a readership. I adored the idea of sharing my thoughts about books, and as I did more and more reviews, I found that I became better at analyzing storylines and characters. As an aspiring YA author, this started to become a vital skill for me, and so blogging became a somewhat useful pastime, as well as being a lot of fun. Right now, I’m blogging from the rainy, lovely, weird Pacific Northwest.

What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year?

Oh, darn. Last year was a great book year – I began to expand my horizons in YA so much, and I discovered so many books to fall in love with. But I think the book that affected me the most wasn’t really a YA novel at all. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern hit me really hard, and it was from that book that I started to develop my taste for beautiful prose. Its magic and mystique are something I hope to bring to my own writing someday, and the characters will stay with me for years to come.

This year, my favorite book so far is Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse. I was so afraid that because of its hype, its rumored awesomeness had been blown out of proportion, but that wasn’t the case at all. However, some close seconds are Victoria Schwab’s The Archived and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. I’m discovering some amazing books this year, which is really exciting.

Share your favorite book or reading related quote.

I think my favorite is probably this one, from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief: “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring? Why? What 3 non-book items would you bring? Why?

If I were stranded, my top three books would probably be –

  1. An edition of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, because I love what I’ve read of his work and I know that even rereads of his plays will be meaningful.
  2. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale because it was one of my very favorite books when I was younger, and I’m sure I could empathize with Dashti’s imprisonment in the tower if I were stuck on an island.
  3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, because I’ve heard that it’s a great book, albeit very long. And being stranded would make me read it, right?

Non-book items –

  1. A huge, thick notebook. I love writing, and being able to do that would at least let me keep my sanity.
  2. A high-quality pen. To write with, obviously.
  3. A piano. I’m not sure how the logistics of bringing a piano would work, but I’ve been playing the piano for eight or nine years now and enjoying it. Music and words would keep me almost happy – or stable(ish) at the very least.

What book would you love to see as a movie?

Hands down, I want Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy to be a movie series. Latino/a characters, an epic plotline, the ship to end all ships, and a heroine who is amazing, period – this needs to hit theaters, and soon. Its diversity, feminist aspects, original magic, and intriguing setting would bring a breath of fresh air to the movie world.

So that’s all for me – hope you enjoyed my greeting!