Reviews for Life is a box of chocolates (Anthology)
Timbo Slice chapter 10 . 5/24/2015
This piece has a very dreary, dark feel to it that is punctuated by the clever use of metaphorical "doors" to describe the various hardships the characters faced throughout their relationship. The brevity of the prose works fine IMO because it helps to focus the readers attention on their struggle without any excess descriptions of setting and characters.

The relationship between the narrator and their partner is a pained but bittersweet one because it shows just how far they are willing to go for the person that they believe they love while at the same time highlighting their naivety and delusion of romance. The ending really hits right in the feels as well, basically having their lover lie to their face just to get them away from them and hoping they don't make the same mistake of coming back.

One thing I would clear up is to have a gender specific characterization for them as it was sonnewhat difficult to tell due to the broad writing, otherwise great little story.
LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 8 . 5/23/2015
I really liked how you build up to show how disillusioned the main character is because it shows how far mad he has gone after losing his loved one and how he sees her everywhere and it shows a lot. I also liked the fact that you end with her screaming because it shows how horrible this person was and how she wanted to get rid of him, it shows what it is like. I also loved the ending line because it shows how warped this man is and how his beliefs are very skewed at the end of it all, it seems.
lookingwest chapter 10 . 5/21/2015
I found myself very distracted through this entire piece in a kind of guilty way because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what gender this character in first person was narrating from perspective-wise. I didn't know if I was supposed to be picturing a man or a woman, or if the love interest was even a man or a woman. There might've been a hint but it kinda got lost on me. I say I feel guilty because I'm not *sure* that it really matters, unless you had a clear vision of yourself, or you provided the ambiguity on purpose. I also hate to think in such binary terms like it's a big deal or something, but it did kind of lose me in the sense that I started reading for clues and things that weren't there. I probably shouldn't care, though. So I dunno if this point of concern is worth anything unless, again, you were narrating from your own distinct idea. I like that it could be any couple with any sexual orientation in any situation, I just hesitate to wonder if that was what you were purposely trying to get across, or if you had something more specific in mind (weirdness of FP reading too).

The entire piece I had a difficult time visualizing things. There was no setting really, no character descriptions beyond Ms Howe looking like an "old bag" in one section... We get they're on a bed at the end. For some reason this time I was just bothered by not being completely grounded in a scene with a pace that seemed to move pretty quick. That being said, I think I liked the opening the most with the classroom stuff. It felt most relatable somehow, or the most accessible during the narration.

Sometimes your italic break technique (which I feel you seem to use a *lot* in these shorter pieces) work, and sometimes they don't. This time, I didn't think they worked. They're sort of dropped by the end and overall, I dunno, I felt like you could just cut them out of this story and you're not losing anything. They kept jolting me out during that classroom stuff, and I kind of would've rather have just stayed in the classroom scene. I naturally started skipping over them and then had to go back and re-read too, which is why I feel nothing is really lost by not reading.

I liked the door theme. I liked how you listed off the different "doors" opening and shutting... I'm not sure if the narration executed it perfectly, but I like how it cumulates to the last two paragraphs because of the way the narrator wants the love interest to "take the wrong turn."
lookingwest chapter 7 . 5/19/2015
So I went to go like, confirm what I think is happening in this piece with other reviewers, but I don't think anyone actually riddled it out? This is all happening in Mr. Connelly's head, right? He's made the Nurse (Io) and his doctor (DeWalt) two character sort of in his dreamworld or head... and he's Euan. Nobody else was really explicit about that, but if that's what's up, then I liked the twist and how you did all of that in the last act - I actually thought it was pretty clear that's what was up, but then I think this actually might've been a WCC prompt that I gave, ha! I liked it because it went an unexpected direction - I didn't see the twist coming until we get that medical log in the last act. Well done!

I think my favorite sections were actually in Act I and any time you were describing the relationship between Io and Euan. You actually handled the sex Act really well too, and I enjoyed the different images, especially in that Act I with the tangled bodies and stuff. I'm like one of your other reviewers - wasn't sure if Io and Eau were supposed to be brothers or not, but they could've also just been close friends growing up in an orphanage. I liked Act IV (the lovers one) when you describe "he would do anything to hear that cry" - because I think it characterized their bond nicely. Then we get that all complicated by finding out in the end it's all in Euan's head. Curious piece, for sure!
lookingwest chapter 6 . 5/18/2015
Heyy, I liked this a lot! I think this is my favorite piece of yours I've ever read, actually, lol. Loved it! I liked it because it had an almost fairy tale like quality to it - I wouldn't be surprised if it was even a retelling of a previous fairy tale, either. The "twist" in it that the emperor was really the picker was also one that I didn't see coming - very nicely done! You should write fantasy more often, friend!

I also liked the main character - she was very very clever in ways that I would not have been able to come up with as a writer, but by the end you really do feel like she's the one meant for the emperor too. It's a scary tale, but again, reminds me of something like Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber in the way it twists and turns. Also like her due to the different tests she had to accomplish, especially her answer to the beast question. Overall, great work on this! It was very well done! O:
lookingwest chapter 3 . 5/18/2015
Other - I think the only thing that confused me about this piece is whether or not Claudia has actually killed herself, which doesn't make any sense. Base keeps saying he'll never see her again and "this is all he has left of her" and all this cryptic stuff - but from what I understand in this piece, she's just selling out her body to be used as a meat puppet. It was a little too confusing to me in regards to her getting the money or why it would be worth the money if she mentally is never coming back? Unless this is all just one big scam - in which case, why didn't Base tell her so? Or did he, and she didn't believe him?

Plot - Other that that though, I liked the cyberpunk quality of this piece. This whole idea is nothing new. It's used in Gibson a lot and while the concept isn't unique to science fiction, I liked the way that you programmed the bodies to do a little more than just be bodies - like having them self-clean, etc. It's also always been a creepy concept to me, of course, but it's also a little alarming that the women or even men that are doing this don't seem to have any autonomy - which just makes me wonder how much they're getting paid, and loops back to that foreshadowing that Base somehow thinks that once these bodies are "bodies" they lose all identity and "die" - especially due to the ending line.

Technique - Perhaps some of me getting muddled up with this is also your decision to add in the italic sections, which I actually wasn't really a fan of. You've done that in another piece I've read from you recently - maybe even the WCC story before this one? But this time it just felt a little too jolty and tell-y for me, and that's where things felt a little unclear as far as what Claudia was actually trying to achieve by doing this. Get paid, yes, but at what cost? You don't get the money if you're dead. I also wasn't totally a fan of how these italic section seemed to kind of go from reaccounting past sections into actually seeming to be for the most part in the present... I know they're supposed to work up to what I assume is the distant past - but like, the last section, I dunno. It could've just been not in italics and I don't know if you would've lost anything, for instance.

Enjoyment - Overall, despite some of my confusion, I did enjoy this piece. I think I enjoyed the element of Base's character the best. The way you have him play of the kid, Finn, at the end, was nicely done and I especially liked the ending moment where there's an allusion that the kid is being bred to be a "Promised One" in the future - can't say I really got all the references there to what that means (do they tell people that this is a meat puppet service, then lie and create them into cyborgs called Promised Ones? and what's that for? to re-create a new Earth or something) - I've never minded ambiguity so not knowing those things or guessing around what could be happening was fine with me :) It gave me something to think about, trying to put all the pieces together! Thanks for the read!
Jalux chapter 7 . 5/18/2015
I think the beginning while an information dump worked for this one shot because it gets the reader familiar with the characters of Io and Euan. Admittedly I did skim over parts of this because I'm not a fan of slash but the writing was very good, there's an element of tension weaved into your sentences which works well to propel the reader forward. I also like how the end forces you to ponder on the other acts, it's a nice circular flow that keeps your story in the reader's mind even after you finish reading so well done.
Timbo Slice chapter 12 . 5/14/2015
This was a great little fantasy tale! I liked the subtlety of the writing, as if felt somewhat like "magic surrealism" without being too upfront with some of the more fantastical portions of the story. Some of the descriptions were simple yet effective in getting your point across while others like the "River of Tears" is so vivid in its meaning it really adds to the magical quality of this piece.

The relationship between the Boy and Baby was tender and kind of quirky, with him not being able to understand her and all and that really helped to set the tone of the ending as well, such an unexpected twist that really changes the dynamic of the piece upon second read!
Imperial General of Grado chapter 12 . 5/14/2015
Is this really a romance oneshot? I hope it's continued because it kinda left off making the reader want more. I liked the part where he was no maid at all, clever double meaning because he's neither a housekeeper or a woman. Ouch. So they only meant to use him as a sacrifice. I liked the kind of mythic feel of the story, with sacrifice and mermaids. My only complaint is that as a one shot you can't go into detail about the boy's background, the universe, mermaid lore, and the captain's personality and adoration for his wife.
pumadelic chapter 12 . 5/14/2015
Great terse opening - smiles were not allowed.

Setting: you quickly establish the boat as a place of darkness and despair where the innocent joy of a baby is unwelcome . As often with fairytales, there is a suggestion of pre twentieth century but no precise historical period here. It might have been good for the sailors to have had a stronger presence and for there to be a little more backstory to this world. The notion of a pleabearer ship is intriguing so it would have been nice to have a tiny bit more on the kingdom it sails from. Mention of plague makes you think of the Middle Ages.

Writing/language. The faintly archaic style succeeds in suggesting the fairytale world. The vocabulary is simple enough for the boy narrator but is used in a sophisticated way. I particularly liked the description of the ship as an upside down house and the use of rhetorical questions. Calling the infant 'baby' might come across as twee but it doesn't here: the effect is to create a universal 'baby', albeit a female one. Metaphor is apt and not overdone: 'continents and seas happier than his little brother..the bones of ..a sea creature bleached white like polished pearls' and my favourite, 'the water hugged his neck fondly sending little splashed to plant cold kisses in his ears' I would have preferred the boy and the mermaid to sound a little less contemporary and more archaic in their final dialogue.

Plot - It soon becomes clear a sacrifice will be made to the Pleagranter but I didn't anticipate the turn around. It is a nice (grim) touch that the Baby is actually the bait that provides the offering without being the offering. The interlude with the mermaid and her conversation with the baby has a fairytale charm and again, I did not exactly predict the ending. I wasn't sure whether Baby - who seems more clued in than her guardian - was aware of what would happen and consequently wanted to join in the fishy fun or not. It didn't matter. I like the change worms idea...very psychedelic.

Ending. Humorous and upbeat after the angst of the rescue from drowning and sacrifice.

btw purple plague would have been an accurate description of my teenage dress sense. Perhaps a bit too alliterative to be scary.

A fine salty yarn.
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 12 . 5/13/2015
I'm too lazy to give you a Depth review, and - you know, I just clicked on this, because I wanted to, and this review was just written to tell you how I feel about this XDD. I like this a lot? I really do? :D I think you should make a bigger story out of this, but then the premise of a fairy tale is that it’s always short and to the point (and creative).

So I think this piece is very creative: the ship that’s turny topsy turvy, creatures of the dark, mermaids, and a voyage that’s been undertaken in order to save the life one person. I really love the concept of ‘an eye for an eye/a wish for a sacrifice’. It’s been done so many times before, but I’ve always considered it a great theme, because of how it tests characters, and how it always make the plot so much darker. It many ways it defies fairy tale tropes, but if you look at Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytales, then you’ll notice that they are a staple of fairytales’ tropes as well. Also: I think you should Clamp’s works (the aforementioned ‘Tokyo Babylon’ I’ve been telling you to read? Clamp! But I think the titles that you might want to look into are: xxxHolic, X/1999 and Tsubasa Resovoir Chronicle; they all deal with wishes in a way very similar to yours, excluding X/1999 but that should – MUST – be read in conjunction with Tokyo Babylon). XD

Yeah, I like this story: I like it a lot. I really loved the tone – it’s dark but not dark, with a sort of wistful approach to it that I found really fitted the plot. The helplessness that the MC faces at not being able to avoid the cruelty of this whole outcome is something I found quite sobering and well-written. It was still touching how he took care of Baby though.

XD Actually I think that’s it? I probably forget something, but hey if you want to know what I thought – just ask me on chat XD Far less effort to tell you what I liked than listing it all here :P

(READ TOKYO BABYLON OR XXXHOLIC - YOU WOULD LOVE IT)
Shampoo Suicide chapter 12 . 5/12/2015
I like the tone and feel of this. Despite your intentions it's still somewhat dark in nature, by no means gloomy but definitely dark in the nature of old fairy tales rather than Disneyfied ones. It really works here though, and I saw this as only a good thing because I've never had a problem with the mood of your work! That said, the magical fairy tale elements did keep it from being gloomy as I mentioned.

I think presenting it this way makes it easier to swallow the boy's character, like more artistic license or something. Like, I was confused that he was the nursemaid for this baby at first and thought of literal nursing, but it was pretty easily forgetten the more magical things appeared and once the strong bond with Baby was made very clear.

I really liked the writing in this a lot, it reminded me somewhat of the modern magic realism-ish style of Francesca Lia Block, and the innocence and special quality of Baby was probably the most responsible for that feel, on top of the structure of the sentences and metaphors/similes used and what not.

Loved the ending and the callback to the worms. Not only was that cool, but also the confirmation that Mer and Baby really had been communicating. Very clever! The final line was humorous but overall it was still a little wistful knowing he'd been traded away like that and I'm left wondering what will become of Baby.

This was such a cool prompt for me, and your particular take was inspired. It's too bad this isn't up for voting! Great job.
Ventracere chapter 12 . 5/12/2015
I think I'm going to go backwards on this. But the ending was great, haha. Maybe you weren't going for amusement considering the nature of the piece, but I definitely laughed when he finally understood the mermaid. To be honest, I thought the mermaid was going to drown him, but I'm glad that she didn't. I liked how you deviated from the idea that mermaids were sirens in this case - it was a refreshing way to show how the mermaid wasn't about to turn her back on him after she and baby had obviously bonded.

Something else that I liked was the focus of the piece. There was a gradual lead up to the end, so nothing was totally out of the blue. It wasn't obvious that the mermaid was trying to save him, that they were going to leave him instead of baby, but it also made sense. Another thing I liked was how although this piece relied majorly on descriptions, it was still easy to get through. Nothing in particular bogged me down, and it was a easy, enjoyable read :)
m. b. whitlock chapter 12 . 5/11/2015
RG Depth #4,849

Opening:

I like the opening paragraph. It’s fun because we get these pieces of information that don’t often (at least in my experience) go together – rough men with a boy and an individual, possibly a child, named ’Baby’ on a ship. Maybe I just found it fresh because you saved the fact that they are on a ship for the last sentence. Good opening hook structure there.

“The ship was like an up-side down house, with its roof-shaped bottom and its flat-roofed top.”
You could say ‘pitched’ roof, since there are so many roof design types/shapes. Also perhaps keep with the house metaphor and say the top of the ship was like the floor of a house…? If it is…

“And thus it was that like all the vessels of its kind, it had a pall of desperation and despair hanging over it as it followed the great sea current called the River of Tears to Darkwater.”
Wow there are a lot of dark, desperate nouns and adjectives in there. Maybe comb out a few. I think it will have more impact that way (and I get the humor, think it will be just a bit crisper with less). :)

Writing/Techniques/Style:

Like how you are keeping with the marine/water metaphors here:
“continents and seas happier than his little brother, whom he'd carefully nursed only to see sicken and pass on, eaten by the purple plague as his parents had been.”
Also the purple plague taking his whole family is so sad and scary and icky (but kind of self-reflexively funny too). Like it. ;)

Like your language here too:
“Baby and him, they matched each other like bread and butter.”
Already you are setting up a contrast between the pleasant relationship between the boy and Baby and everything else that’s going on on the ship.

Setting/Relationship:

Really lovely description here:
“River of Tears always ran clear, even when the sea beyond it was murky or cloudy. It was so clear that they could see right down to the bottom, making it seem as if they were floating over nothing but air.”
So vivid I can see it. This also moves forward the budding relationship between the boy and Baby.

Really nice moment here too:
“He tried to babble back at her to humour her, but she scowled and fussed and waved her arms at him as if to say that he was being silly.”
Again, develops the relationship. They are learning how to communicate even though they speak different languages (though Baby may be the only speaker of hers, we’ll see…).

Interesting that mermaids speak Baby-tongue, or the Baby speaks Mer:
“The two females had long exchanges, seemingly about him much of the time, judging from the way they pointed at him and giggled or frowned.”
Makes sense in this fairytale world. :)

“The ship was thus stranded by the edge of the bottomless pool that was Darkwater”
Just thinking about how the name Darkwater is contradictory since the water is clear… Is it still clear or is the translucent/transparent part only the River of Tears…?

Action/Scene:

“They took Baby from him, and when he held on to her just a moment too long, a hard blow to the head took away his senses.”
I like how the blow refers back to the cuffs he gets in the beginning and also the tenderness of him holding onto Baby just a bit too long.

Have to say the bait-n-switch with Baby was just a little hard to buy… I mean, how many boys (I’m thinking he’s 10 to 14 yrs old or so) want to be/are even capable of being babysitters on a ship…? I think it’s no big though, especially since this is a fairytale type story. :)

The worm-eating stuff is great!:
“The mermaid shook her head too, and answered him with a flood of words that only fishfolk and babies understood. She pointed to the worms, and to her mouth.”
You set this up well with the wormy red stuff in the shell the mermaid presented to Baby earlier and the fact that the Mermaid and Baby were talking about him.

Very cool concepts here:
“The mangling spread to his insides. He felt like something inside him was changing, twisting and churning up his guts and rearranging them in strange new ways.”

What an adorable end!

Lots of fun. Very cute. Liked how consistent the voice of the narration was throughout too. (and you way nailed the prompt!)

vb,

mbw
C. V. Atwood chapter 12 . 5/10/2015
As a heads up, I have nothing but great things to say about this.

I love your description. The imagery is amazing. "The ship was like an up-side down house, with its roof shaped bottom and flat-roofed top." I have never thought of a ship that way, but the moment you said it I got it, and that excited me. Anytime I read a brilliant line of description I am hooked.

I also thought the twist with the worms was surprising. At no point did I think she'd bring back worms and the line about it being his last meal really sold it that he was going to die. That being said, I was surprised yet again when it turned out the worms were to change him. You are great at plot twists. I can't believe how many times you got me in such a short story. Thank you for posting this.
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