Reviews for Life is a box of chocolates (Anthology)
pumadelic chapter 11 . 4/14/2015
Sahara's dog voice is well achieved and funny: I particularly like the leash as hateful-stopper-of-smells etc Her relationship to Al has just enough detail but I find ambiguous...not sure if he is a serial killer, turning women into werewolves or meat or whatever- the notion of hide and seek works well as a sinister misunderstanding of what this is all about.

The Aliph section is well written but feels less original, although there is an underlying theme of flesh spirit conflict.

So Al is Aliph and Sahara is his shape shifter?

You've riffed very well on all the implications of the word meet as well as on a master pet relationship. It is effective - and grisly - nice job.
Jalux chapter 11 . 4/14/2015
That opening is clever, because a human bite is seen as primitive and disgusting by most people and it arouses the reader's curiosity. Of course it could also mean bite as in figuratively but that's kind of the magic of it, it's a GREAT opening hook. I liked how it seemed to be about a dog but then transitioned into the shapeshifter, it's a unique take and makes the story feel like it breaks free of tropes and cliches. Haha, love the tie between "I'm the best bitch ever!" and her being a shapeshifter dog. Al makes for a good "villain" in my opinion, he's cruel but in a believable way.
Orgaya chapter 11 . 4/9/2015
Initially I had the thought that it was going to be about a dog given the title. With the next few paragraphs, that was confirmed, although without ever saying it, which is good. I was thinking to myself that this was a pretty decent portrayal. Nothing unique, per se, just a dog wanting a belly rub or being hungry. Mistaking certain nuances of the human world for something else.I had figured that the guy was using the dog to lure women in, a tactic I have seen before when wanting a date, so again, nothing new. It was humorous.

And then "hide and seek" was mentioned. This was odd to me, something that broke the pattern. It then slowly dawned on me what this was turning into. We were privy to the mindset of a dog belonging to a serial killer. At first, I thought this was utterly brilliant. I was all excited, and frankly, I wish it had ended with "I obey". This would have been one of the coolest short stories I've read in a long time!

...

Then... the italics happened. What? Was this from something else? I skimmed over it because frankly, I was already engrossed in what had happened previously that all of this talk of vessels and... other things pointing to weird paranormal nonsense threw me so completely out of the story. It returned, sure, but I have no idea what that was about nor did I wholly care.

So, the story with the dog - perfect. Chilling, excellent twist. The stuff in italics? No idea. Unsure what to make of it. Written fine, sure, but I couldn't care less about it. Sorry. The twist, however, was enough to make me vote for this piece.
Shampoo Suicide chapter 11 . 4/9/2015
I really enjoyed this overall! I liked the opening, especially the standalone "I bite" to begin with. The sentence that follows is good too, kind of a stream of thought feel to it. It could also work, maybe, cut into shorter sentences using periods instead. Maybe before the "but". But the floaty stream of consciousness feel has it's appeal as well!

I also like how dramatically the mood shifts from that sentence to the next part talking about "Well you smell okay" which seems more lighthearted and makes it very clear who the narrator is. I liked that a lot, especially given the overall arc of this which makes the shifting moods seems much more purposeful a choice and a very good one.

The part set off in italics was jarring at first, confusing almost because maybe I'm slow but it took me a moment to realize what was going on. Once I did though I was very impressed with where you ended up taking this. And, like I mentioned, it made the lighthearted seeming nature of the earlier part that much more brilliant. It also make the ending have this duality of tone where it was sweet like the beginning but still quite spooky where the mentions of meat and drool seemed more sinister than they ever could have without the crazy shape-shifting twist. I thought it was fantastic.

I think it's a really original take on a prompt. It's remarkable because it's so open ended a prompt and yet I'm so impressed with where you went with it! The originality and the quite surprising twist make this very enjoyable, and your writing as always is clear and lovely and seems so effortless. Best of luck in the WCC!
Virtuella chapter 8 . 4/6/2015
This is exquisite. I love all the little details, like the hand that gropes for the missing hair or the clothes with the frayed edges. It makes the character very vivid. The simile in the first sentence is great, it immediately conjures up this image of a small, neat figure.

I’m not sure if I’d been prewarned by you mentioning that it’s an unreliable narrator, or whether I would have picked this up anyway, but I think there is a creepy undercurrent from the start. The sentence about the dug out pride momentarily creates sympathy for the narrator, but then comes this sentence that I found creepiest of all: “every time we touch, I want to melt into the warmth of your skin and sink down into your flesh to spread like a blush through your veins until I reach your heart.“ It is exactly the kind of language that is sometimes considered erotic but which bears witness to a very unhealthy obsession and a desire to possess the other person.

It’s a powerful story that I don’t want to pick apart further, suffice to say I read it sitting on the edge of my chair.
Virtuella chapter 11 . 4/6/2015
Woah, I didn't expect the sinister turn of this! What am eerie and fascinating idea. The contrast between the dog voice and the OTHER voice works very well. I like how in the dog persona, Sahara's thoughts and feelings are correspondingly restricted and that she returns to this point of view afterwards. Al, though, what a monster! My goodness, I can just about imagine the trouble the police are having with this case. Very well done.
LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 11 . 4/5/2015
I like the way you show this romantic relationship between shapeshifters because it shows a different side between two animals or an animal and a human interacting with each other which is a great thing and leaves you wondering about things. I also like how you characterize Sahara because she has a unique overprotective personality of all which draws into her character quite well and leaves you wondering. I however dislike the fact that it is not clear what species any of these characters are because it detatches from the interactions. Otherwise great start.
Jalux chapter 6 . 4/5/2015
Excellent opening in my opinion, probably because the opening line was quite compelling and made me want to read on. Like why are his hands in people's mouths and where did the name the Picker come from? There is a bit of exposition here but I did not find it hard to get through at all because your opening hook kept me interested. I think what I liked about the plot was the element of mystery in some regards, you don't know what the Picker does at first and then there's all these tests. It creates suspense and makes for an exciting read.

I'd like to level a certain amount of criticism at Shyan though. I didn't feel I connected with her as a character that much. Like why does she want to become an Companion? The lack of reaction to watching someone get their neck torn apart? Her interactions with the Picker suggest she's playful but I think you could expand her a little more. I do think there is a solid foundation for a great character here. Speaking of which the ending had a lot of shock factor in my mind, it seemed like the whole process was just to find a partner for the Emperor but it turns out to be something different. Surprises are always welcome and this one I doubt many would see coming. It's an open ending too which is a double edged sword I guess but I think for a short story an open ending always sticks in your mind longer.
Jalux chapter 5 . 4/4/2015
[Character]
I like the moment of self-reflection when she realizes that she's acting like a weak girl which is exactly what she hates because it raises the question is it wrong to be weak in these situations? Perhaps maybe but it is also human and understandable as well. I thought the best friend was a cool character but a little flat and cliched in some respects. It is a short story though so it can't be avoided.

[Technique]
The use of the various lines of thought and the mashed words was confusing at first but I think at the end you get used to it and I feel it adds quite a bit to the story. There's a layer of complexity you can reach but delving into their heads like this. It also makes it easier to see who is talking.

[Ending]
Very bittersweet ending, it's terrible in a way because they died but at least it was together and yeah I suppose it touches on the theme of if it's worth living if your loved ones are dead. It's also very emotional and I personally felt most people would connect to Jay at the end, maybe not so much for Mach although glimpses of him through Jay were good.

[Dialogue]
Dialogue reads quite well and especially the last few lines between the lovers was very somber. You could feel Jay's sense of helplessness and even defeat in some of her lines and I found this really cool to read through because of the strong dialogue.
Jalux chapter 4 . 4/3/2015
[Technique]
I like the use of the mouse click and the repetition of it. It reminds the reader that all of this is taking place online and all the potential ramifications of that. However I would say this works better on an online format like FP then actual written format.

[Character]
OneCentShort is a tragic character and partly relatable for most people. There is a sense of bitterness and regret to him through comes through in his thoughts and messages. You also feel he is fairly depressed given his detachment to real life. I didn't care as much for legacy98 in contrast, I felt he wasn't as interesting.

[Ending]
It's not a happy ending but given the build-up I think this was the expected ending. It's sad and it's tragic but it's realistic because this sort of stuff does happen and it brings up the theme of online identity and being tricked. Yeah it's a great way to show how dangerous online relationships can be.

[Dialogue]
Not sure if you could call it that but the online messages and the use of online terms made this feel like this took place online which is important. It also reads quite well and does hint at the overall conclusion.
Virtuella chapter 3 . 4/3/2015
Woah. I am mightily impressed. This story intrigued me from the very first moment. I thought (hoped?) for a while that we were talking about mannequins here, but it soon became clear that the situation was much more sinister. What a brutal examination of where our society’s consumerism might lead!

There is so much in this story in the way of real world issues that are hinted at – human trafficking, the sex industry, artificial intelligences, brain-washing etc. The people in this story commit the ultimate sin – treating human beings as things. And it is chilling to consider that we are already doing this to a degree. This scenario is merely the logical extension.

The tone of the story worked very well. The spare, understated prose has a mechanical feel to it that fits the theme perfectly. The sandwiching of current and past scenes also worked well. It was puzzling to begin with and then gradually the whole story emerged.

That “the data files that contain her personality” get lost, just as Claudia had feared, is a moment of bitter tragedy. It also makes me think of what dementia does to people. Whether this was your intention or not, it adds another interesting layer to the story.
rkalanau chapter 3 . 3/30/2015
On Chapter 3
I really like your writing, so easy to read. This chapter was, somewhat horrifying. There really could be a whole number of spinoffs just from this short story alone, ranging from the moral/immoral, the time period, military (science), to the political. How far would society have to go before something like this happens, and is accepted? How would it change...? So many things.

Left me feeling extremely uncomfortable especially for the fate of the boy. Are they in essence murdering him as soon as he is of age? Ahhhh...! Scarey society!
rkalanau chapter 2 . 3/26/2015
Part-time: Chapter 2
To be honest, I found this style hard to read… while ‘organized’, the choppiness made it hard to get to the end. Had to go back a few times to re-read paragraphs of it again, to understand what was going on. I can tell you are a good writer, however the delivery needs to be more, clear? And… far less choppy… to me it was akin to kayaking down a choppy river, getting hit by a large wave, than being hit with yet another while trying to get going again. Glad other people got it and liked the style.

Lady lumps? Made me laugh, appreciated the wit.

Must be my imagination, but I originally ‘thought’ this occurred out in the street, and he was dancing in a store window for their amusement, not sure how I arrived to that… however further in, was surprised to find that this is occurred in a classroom. LOL, sry, am a newbie reviewer, bear with me.

I like how you explain: he assigned her a small fraction of his attention. To me this comes across as a character that is intelligent, self aware, and controlled…

All in all the chapter is ok. So what will he do now, and most of all what will he do about her knowing whom he is? He clearly comes off as the stronger character in this chapter, in my opinion.
Fayechii chapter 2 . 3/12/2015
I really like the style you used in writing this. It's unique. I loved reading it. You were able to convey the emotion of your characters. Also, I have to commend you because you were able to let us see two different voice. The piece was able to distinguish the thoughts of your two characters.

There was really nothing to dislike about it. So, well done!
m. b. whitlock chapter 9 . 3/10/2015
RG EF #6702

Find X

Opening:

I like the opening very much though I do find a few parts just a tad confusing. I think the best of it is SKB’s entrance and how Izzy is so thrown off by it. :)

I do think you could simplify the language here some:
“The balding bush that he was huddling behind was a poor mediator between his goose-pimpling skin and any outraged stares, even with the help of fading dusk light.”
‘Mediator’ sticks out some for me and kinda needlessly implies agency on the part of the bush and doesn’t quite work for me in the context of the sentence. Perhaps something like, ‘The balding bush he was huddling behind poorly concealed his goose-pimpling skin from any possible outraged stares,” just suggesting.. ;)

“The shadow of the bush shifted and birthed another shape – a slender four-limbed one,”
“Four-limbed” makes me think she’s an animal – non-human animal ;) — at first. Cool. Works to show her difference from the beginning.

I don’t understand why he was changing though. If you choose to revise this maybe explain a bit more…?

But was he ever naked?:
“She laughed. "It's not like I've never seen a naked guy before.””

Writing/Techniques/Style:

Interesting repetition of the word ‘bald’:
“The bald statement made him flush.”

Bald originally meant ‘white’, specifically ‘white spot on the head’ (like a horse might have, think ‘Bald eagle) or ‘shining’ in Middle English. It didn’t get it’s current definition of ‘lack of hair’ until much later. Perhaps an association with the word ‘ball’ or just the fact that bald men had white hair on the sides or shiny bare heads. Anyway, I’m wondering if you are getting at something here…

Makes me wonder how old they are:
“"We'll be good little children and keep this to ourselves, right?" she said with a sly, exaggerated wink.”

Like this line:
“He was quite good at being inconspicuously absent.”

In fact I very much like the thematically based format you develop throughout the piece with these repeated phrases at the top of each section describing things he’s ‘good’ at, also:
“He was fairly good at Maths.”

Character:

Like this moment for developing his character:
“He couldn't think of anything else he might have done that would qualify as a Very Important Matter. It weighed on him – if he was in trouble, he wanted to at least have some excuses prepared.”
He appears to be a quite sensitive and thoughtful person. Showing us his anxiety over getting in trouble for doing something ‘bad’ is a very effective non-clichéd way to convey his need to be accepted.

Great character here:
“He wondered fleetingly how it might feel to be the elusive 'X' that was always being sought for in Maths problems,”
The girls seems more like an ‘X’, and he does seem like a more solid ‘Y’.

Really like her re-entrance here:
“He looked up at the voice, and into his head jumped the movie he'd watched at Ben's. Pale skin, long black hair and cold hard eyes – he was apparently face to face with the supernatural protagonist of the movie. “
Adds drama and excitement, much more than if you had simply said she showed up again. The multiple identities thing is cool too. :)

Funny:
“ The expressionless face that she said it with made the swearword seem coarser than it actually was.” And she didn’t even use the actual swearword. Like it. He really is a ‘shouldn’t’ guy.

This is an interesting development:
“He was referring to her straight-A results and regular awards for academic and extra-curricular achievements; virtually every student in the school knew her full name from it being repeated so often during assemblies,”
It’s a little surprising to me that she’s such a stellar student. Not what I expected after her peeping on him and climbing like Catwoman.

Dialogue:

Whoa:
“ "All I'm good for, according to my parents, is to spread my legs wide open so some man can stick his glorious manhood in so that nine months later, another glorious sample of manhood will burst out through the same hole.””
That’s some serious dialogue! ;) I wonder would she really use such a shy term as ‘manhood’. Why not have her use ‘dick’ or something earthier, more shocking (cause I feel like she may want to shock him). ;)

Like these lines a lot!:
“"Yeah, I'm a good girl. You're a good boy. We're two effing balls of shiny effing goodness.””
I definitely hear her voice there.

What an intriguing dark ending. I’m not sure whether she actually dies lying on him or if you are symbolically showing how after they get married a part of her dies as they become conventionally ‘good’.

Really liked it!

vb,

mbw
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