Writing Contest!

Hey, everyone!  I’ve decided to hold a writing contest for anyone who’s interested! The rules are simple:

1.) Choose an opening line from the list below and write a short story with it (entries must be between 100 and 1,000 words).
2.) Send me the story, or a link to it, at kirsten.dani@yahoo.com BEFORE September 30, 2012.
3.) All stories must be suitable for all ages (no excessive violence or sexual themes, etc.).
4.) There are three categories: Humor, Romance, and Mystery. It’s okay if it has two, or even all three; just choose which one you think works the best.
5.) You may enter up to three times: once per category.
6.) If you’d like to change any of the opening lines a little, please contact me about it.

There will be three winners total; One each for the Humor, Romance, and Mystery categories. Even if you have entered more than one story, you can only win once. Each winner will be featured here on GalumptiousWords!

Okay, now here are the opening lines you can choose from:
1.) I have one green eye and one brown eye. The green eye sees truth, but the brown eye sees much, much more.
2.) “Be nice,” my father said. “After all, he’s your brother.”
3.) I think her wings are fake.
4.) If somebody didn’t do something soon, we would have a catastrophe on our hands.
5.) Ms. Fleming’s wig had gone missing.
6.) It had been a great sorrow, a loss more painful than anything he’d felt before.

Remember, anyone can enter, so long as they stick to the rules!

Oh, and HAVE FUN!!

A Human Element, by Donna Galanti

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommended for: Adults only, those who can handle sex scenes and some swearing

I was excited to win A Human Element in the Goodreads First Reads contest, and I set to work reading it at once. Ms. Galanti spins a wonderful tale of love, loss, and alien contact in her magnificent debut novel. I loved Laura’s strength and compassion, Ben’s need for love and acceptance. I felt true sympathy for Charlie/X-10, the monster created by human cruelty. The story was wonderfully written and beautifully told, and contained a great message about the abilities of humans to love, to forgive, and to be redeemed.

The plot was terrific—I love science fiction, and A Human Element did not disappoint me in that department! Meteors, spaceships, aliens, humans with strange powers. All the elements of a truly amazing sci-fi were there. When Laura was born, she was born the smallest of a pair of twins, here brother being monstrously huge and grotesque. Raised separately, she in a loving home, he in a decrepit laboratory, she had no idea that he existed. X-10, however, knows everything about his twin through his strange mind powers, and feels intense jealousy toward her for having a life he could never have. He systematically kills her entire family, and anyone who grows too close to her. When Laura meets and falls in love with Ben, she begins to fear for his life. Will Charlie destroy Ben and Laura, or will she, with her own strange powers, be able to save him? Truly a five-star book, if that were it.

Unfortunately, there were far too many sex scenes and explicit language for my tastes. I would have much preferred a few implied scenes—no descriptions necessary, thank you very much! I would have given this book five stars, but these scenes really kind of ruined the book for me.

I applaud Ms. Galanti’s excellent storytelling ability, but I really just could not stand those scenes.

Of Two Minds, by Carol Matas

Rating: 3 stars

Recommended for: Children to young teens who enjoy fantasy and adventure.

I must admit, I was, at first, intrigued by this short little novel after reading the blurb on the back cover. I though it was an interesting and fascinating twist on the whole mind-reading-ability to have everyone else hear your thoughts, too. How would that be? I wondered. Would you be picking up on someone’s thoughts, only to have all your replies and responses broadcast to that person, or the whole room? I was very interested, and I expected a great read.

However, I was sorely disappointed in the story as I read. There was great potential in the writer’s ideas, but she was unable to execute them properly. I felt that there was no real plot at all–just a dull What-Will-Happen-Next-type story. The characters had little depth, had no personalities. I couldn’t even force myself to feel the lest bit sympathetic with their plight, and the part toward the end, when Princess Lenora discovers that the head bad guy of the book is actually her future self, turned into a man, was more creepy and unsettling than surprising.

Eric Kent Edstrom’s Undermountain

Rating: 5 stars

Recommended for: Thirteen and older–any who love sci-fi, bigfoot, adventure, or aliens–or all four!

Eric Kent Edstrom spins a magnificent tale of love and war in his latest novel, Undermountain.  A huge lover of all things Sasquatch, I enjoyed the book immensely. Mr. Edstrom is a very creative, yet logical-minded individual, and it’s obvious that he put a lot of effort into the book. I give Undermountain a five-star rating.

The book was well-written and continued smoothly, allowing for an easy reading pace and an enjoyable story. Mr. Edstrom was very descriptive in the book, and I felt as though I were truly in the bigfoot city of Undermountain. The many characters, human, bigfoot and tangoga, were all very well-constructed and had the kind of depth that all characters should have. I felt as though I knew the characters, and I felt a little lonely when I finished the book.

Mr. Edstrom is very creative. He built an entire underground and interplanetary society for the “bigfeet,” or People, as they call themselves, complete with religion and language. Though some of the names of the bigfeet are somewhat hard and a bit difficult to pronounce, they are unique and very interesting, and they fit perfectly. Mr. Edstrom also created several new species of aliens, the tangeg, a two-headed animal-like species, and the tangoga, which look just like the tangeg, but have higher cognitive skills. The author also added his own twists to the bigfoot legend, such as altering their appearance—the bigfeet have more bear-like than ape-like faces, which would explain why people rarely see them—they think they’re seeing a bear, when it’s really a bigfoot! An interesting thought, in my mind: how many times have I been in the woods and seen a bigfoot?

The plot was incredible: I couldn’t put it down, I was so excited for What Happens Next! When six teens go for a hike in the Canadian Rockies, they get more than just a little time in the great outdoors—they accidentally discover a group of bigfeet, who are attempting to re-capture a gaggle of escaped tangeg. The bigfeet, in order to protect their secret existence, take the teens to the city of Undermountain, where they find themselves caught up in a war between the People and the tangoga. There are several interesting twists in the story, and it kept me on my toes the entire time.

I would never have known about this book without Goodreads’ First Reads program, and I would have missed out on a terrific sci-fi adventure! I honestly canNOT wait for the sequel—if it’s anywhere near as excellent as the first, we’re in for a great tale!

Eric Kent Edstrom’s Undermountain is a truly galumptious read!

The Night Angel Trilogy, by Brent Weeks

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommended for: Adults only–those who enjoy action scenes and romance, and who can deal with a lot of swearing.

Although I absolutely enjoyed Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy, with its wonderful, twisting plot and its incredibly well-developed characters, I simply could not handle all the needless swearing in these books. The fact that nearly every other word out of the mouth of the main character, Kylar, was an expletive was very distracting. I loved the plot–the magical ka’kari, the romance between Kylar and Elene, the amazingly detailed, magical world in which they live, the glorious battle scenes. Honestly, it was a terrific storyline, and everything fit together perfectly. If only Mr. Weeks had left all, or at leasthalf, of the swearing out of it, it would have been a much better trilogy.

A redeeming point in the books was Elene’s pure love and goodness, in her refusal to do anything that would go against the laws of the God. She was an influence on Kylar, an influence for good, and he became a much better person by the end of the trilogy. In fact, in the final book,Beyond the Shadows, the reader is allowed to see just how good she is when she sacrifices herself to save the world, refusing to hate the evil woman who has kept the world dark for centuries, and instead fully embracing her with love. Elene is, indeed, the best character in the books, in my opinion, and almost makes up for the excess swearing.

I applaud Mr. Weeks’ brilliant ideas and storytelling skills, but I cannot give this book the five-star rating it would otherwise deserve.

The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy

Rating: 5 stars

Recommended for: Anyone ten and up who loves the absurd, the clever, the fantastic.

The Order of Odd-Fish is an absurdly funny book in which eggplants dance, giant cockroaches obsess over neckwear, wannabe villains sell their souls for barbecue-flavored potato chips, ostriches fly, and nefarious handymen adore avant-garde pies. In short, James Kennedy’s debut novel is a strange and clever book, full of fantastic places and well-developed, complex characters.

The book first drew my attention while I was browsing the shelves of my local library. I initially noticed its unusual cover, particularly the large fish vomiting up a brick building on the front. I next turned my attention to the title: The Order of Odd-Fish. I was intrigued already—I prompty checked it out and left, without even bothering to read the book jacket.

Later that day, as I sat in my cozy reading chair back home, I cracked the book open and started to read. Being an avid reader (and lover!) of fantasy, I was hoping for the best, but I must admit that I was halfway expecting to find a dull story within its pages, grossly eclipsed by its cover. There must be a reason that it’s such a small-print book, I thought.

Instead, I found myself blown away by Mr. Kennedy’s clever wording and detailed descriptions. There was not too much dialogue, nor too little, and t was always very easy to tell who was speaking, and with what inflections. The story did not overwhelm me with details and impossible explanations, but it made me feel as though I were actually in Eldritch City. I soared through the skies with Jo and Ethelred,  I fought beside them in the Dome of Doom, I walked through luscious rainforests alongside them. I was completely immersed in this fantasy world, and I spent two or three nights huddled beneath the covers, flashlight and book in hand.

The plot was very well-thought-out and well-written. Thirteen-year-old Jo Larouche has an awful destiny in which she must destroy the world as a wild goddess, and she wants absolutely nothing to do with it. Forced to hide her identity as the Ichthala, Jo throws herself into her new life in Eldritch City, focusing on her new friends and on her squire training. However, where some authors may somewhat ignore Jo’s destiny, coming back to it very infrequently as she explores her new world, Mr. Kennedy never allowed the worry to completely leave Jo’s mind—she is constantly bringing it back to the attention of the reader, wondering how her destiny will play out, wishing the Silent Sisters would just get it over with already. The reader is never completely distracted from the true plot of the story, but there are plenty of side-stories and happenings to please and interest.

How often have I come to the climax of a story, only to find the resolution either entirely predictable, or utterly confusing? The Order of Odd-Fish was neither—the outcome was surprising, yet it fit in perfectly with the rest of the story and left me feeling satisfied that things had, indeed, worked themselves out. All the loose ends were tied up, and, by the final sentence, I was fervently hoping for a sequel, or even a prequel. Mr. Kennedy’s book is fantastic, and absolutely worthy of its five-star rating. I applaud Mr. James Kennedy’s wonderful storytelling abilities.

It was truly a galumptious read!