Short Story Saturday: “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street”

51oXob+cRmLTitle: “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street”

Author: Kevin Hearne

Genre: Short Story, Fantasy, Fiction

Number of pages: 34 pages

Time it took me to read:  1 Day

Synopsis:

The ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan gets more than greasy corn dogs and flat soda when he visits a carnival in Kansas to which his apprentice, Granuaile, drags him. He runs across a barker with a strange power over the crowd: attractive women leave their men and disappear into an unmarked tent, never to be seen again, and the men wander away, forgetting that they ever had girlfriends or wives. When Granuaile falls under the barker’s influence and enters the tent, Atticus isn’t about to forget it and move on. He and his Irish wolfhound, Oberon, pursue her and discover the horrifying secret to the carnival’s success.

Short Story Review:

I am going to start with two short tidbits of information:

First, while this short story is sold separately it is part of a larger anthology, CarniePunk, that comes highly recommended. I will be linking reviews to the anthology with the VisualEditor_-_Icon_-_Tag-big.svg tag #CarniePunk. Keep an eye out for future reviews.

Second, I was struggling to get the last of my summer school students through their needed credits so I used this short story in the place of a longer novel. So this is a twofer review. I am going to put in my own review and then report how my high schoolers responded to the book.

My Review

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Group dinner  Kevin & Tacos!!

I have been reading Kevin Hearne’s since 2012. His first series is called The Iron Druid Chronicles and this short story is part of that series.  I have attempted to write reviews for this series but I love them so much that I am not sure how I would handle my audience rejection of them. I think I have evolved as a reader and blogger at this point in my life and I am ready to share.

 

Let’s start with the main character, Atticus O’Sullivan, who is the last living druid.  Atticus along with his apprentice Granuaile MacTiernan and his loyal Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, are visiting Granuaile’s hometown to check in on her mother who thinks she is dead. They come across some pretty shady things happening at the freaks tent and proceed to try and defeat some demons, imps, and ghouls and hopefully save some human life at the same time.

I may be a little biased here because I love everything Kevin writes. This short was no exception. The characters come to life and his storytelling captivates his readers from the get-go. I am not including a review of the audio recording because I am a devoted Luke Daniel’s fan and in my view, no one can be the voice of Atticus or Oberon but Luke Daniels. Since this short was part of an anthology of various authors I assume this is why they went with a different voice actor. Thus, my review would not be a fair one. I do have to say that my students did like his reading though.

Students Review

My students loved this read! I did have to do a bit of explaining about druids, magic, and some already established norms of series. One area they got a little hung up on was the idea of elementals as begins of the earth, but that didn’t last long with the humor of Kevin’s writing and their love of Oberon.  There were laughs and lots of after class discussion as we stopped ready in the middle because class had ended.

hghghHere are some drawings and words from the kids:

“I liked the part where he says dogs make everything better…”  – Angela M.

“The demons are really clever when they try to disguise themselves in human skin”  – Esteban P.

“I like the fight scene and how the author writes because there is a lot of action and keeps me really interested. I normally jmkjhdon’t like to read. ” – Cesar Y

 

“I like how Granuaile stands up for herself and can kick butt. She is a strong woman who can kick butt. ”  -Celeste L

varv“Oberon is my favorite character! His love of sausage, poodles, & hunting made me laugh so much.”   – Daniel V

“I love the words ‘clueless crunchy guy’ to describe Atticus. What does that even mean?”  – Chris A

 

Overall, “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” was a success and I would definitely teach it again. The engagement level of my students proves its worth in the classroom. Thanks, Kevin!

 

My rating:

5

Find out more about the book and Kevin Hearne

Kevin is Hilarious on social media so I highly recommend you follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Like my review and want to begin reading some of Kevin Hearne’s work? I suggest you start with one of these below:

 

Iron#1

Book 1 – IDC

 

giant

Book 1 – new series

 

 

 

KTFB-cover-art-final

Coming Soon

Review: Firstlife

25785357 (1)Title: Firstlife

Author: Gena Showalter

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, 

Number of pages:

Time it took me to read: 10 Days

Synopsis:

ONE CHOICE.
TWO REALMS.
NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

Novel Review:

Firstlife is an interesting read once you get past the first few chapters, however, it is clear by the Goodreads reviews that it is not a book for everyone. I will explain that a bit more later. Before I get into that, I am going to explain why I liked it and why I gave it 3.5 stars.

Why I liked it: 

Firstlife is a little tricky to understand. It’s the life before your eternal life, so basically a staging area that you grow up in until you decide what side you want to be on in your afterlife. Confusing? Yes, it was a bit confusing until they got into the action and why Ten is so damn important. For me it was when the action started that made everything a bit more clear.

Why I gave it 3.5 stars:

  • There is a lot of information dump. It’s a first book and the world is a bit confusing so I can see why the author felt the need to do so. However, I realized that I needed all that information dump towards the end and it came in handy while deciding what side I really wanted her to choose.
  • It is a first book in a new series and the world building and characters are set up mostly in this book. This setup is either a hit or miss with me because I have to decide if I want to put so much time into a series. So far I am seeing it as worth my time and enjoyed the ending of this book. I am eager to pick up the next book so the author did a great job in my eyes.
  • It still is not as clear to me why Ten had such a hard time picking sides. I think I came up with my own idea from the author’s writing but still not too sure if that is what is meant. Again, this being a setup novel for the series that could be something that will be explained later.

So why do I think this is not a novel for everyone?

  • Work. Work. Work. Some readers do not like to work as hard at starting a new novel. Like I said it can be a hit or miss for me.
  • There is a love triangle. This troupe has been done to death and some people are just sick of it or the romance all together. However, let me just say something about that. If you read a book synopsis that says there is going to be romance and you then complain about said romance…. what were you expecting? Dumping on an author simply because YOU didn’t like the romance is not fair in my opinion.
  •  Ten, the MC, is “special”. Some readers have a problem with this troupe. Again, it’s overdone and the author has to really work hard to get it right. Bet let’s be honest here folks, if she wasn’t special then there would be no plot. If Harry Potter wasn’t special then he wouldn’t have been “the boy who lived”. Here I think some people just need to move on if they don’t like this. I mean, you can gleam that this is the case with this read by the synopsis.

Overall, I liked Firstlife and will be picking up the second and hopefully the third book in this series. I do recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have problems with the things I mentioned above and to those who are interested in a new world with romance and a “special” main character.

My rating:

3.5

Find out more about the book and Gena Showalter here

Follow Gena Showalter on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Review: Children of Eden

edenTitle: Children of Eden

Author: Joey Graceffa 

Audio Narrator: Sarah Grayson

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Number of pages: 278 pages

Time it took me to read: 5 Days

Book Trailer

Synopsis:

Rowan is a Second Child in a world where population control measures make her an outlaw marked for death. She can never go to school, make friends, or get the eye implants that will mark her as a true member of Eden. Her kaleidoscope eyes will give her away to the ruthless Center government.

Outside of Eden, Earth is poisoned and dead. All animals and most plants have been destroyed by a man-made catastrophe. Long ago the brilliant scientist Aaron al Baz saved a pocket of civilization by designing the EcoPanopticon, a massive computer program that hijacked all global technology and put it to use preserving the last vestiges of mankind. Humans will wait for thousands of years in Eden until the EcoPan heals the world.

As an illegal Second Child, Rowan has been hidden away in her family’s compound for 16 years. Now, restless and desperate to see the world, she recklessly escapes for what she swears will be only one night of adventure. Though she finds an exotic world and even a friend, the night leads to tragedy. Soon Rowan becomes a renegade on the run – unleashing a chain of events that could change the world of Eden forever.

 Novel Review:

I loved this read! The female protagonist is smart, athletic, and finally takes her life into her own hands which creates the conflict of this story. Rowan is a second child and is hidden away because her existence is forbidden. Imagine being forced into hidden panels in the walls of your home whenever there is a knock at the door. Crazy, I know!

I have had this book on my TBR for probably over a year now. I watched a few of Joey’s YouTube Videos and was interesting in his autobiography seeing as he is a very popular and successful gay YouTuber. Also, his pretty awesome book trailer may have had a little sway in my need to read this. But why did I take so long to pick it up? Not too sure but I am kicking myself in the butt now.

There is a lot of world building in this first book which, to me, makes a hell lot of sense seeing as it is dystopian and *duh* a first book. Some people have a problem with this but I didn’t see those issues in this one. There are also a lot of social commentary that can be applied to our current world events and I love that dystopian novels do this so well. I mean one child rule, environmental destruction, political corruption and possible more with a closer read.

I will also mention that there is a love triangle but it’s one that has not been done or at the very least definitely not overdone. Now trust me I do get sick of the overly done love triangles that seem to plague young adult fiction but I do love them when they are done well or bring in a new element. I was cheering for this love triangle after I figured it out and I still don’t know what team I am rooting for because it is so well done.

I recommend this book to those who like a lighter dystopia and an interesting read.

My rating:

4

Find out more about the book and Joey Graceffa here

Follow Joey Graceffa on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram