Author Archives: lydias

5 Reasons Why You Should Become a Reviewer for Long and Short Reviews

Today’s post is a little off the beaten path when compared to the topics I normally blog about here, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about discussing with my followers for a while now.

First of all, you might be asking yourself what this site is and why I’m telling you about it. Well, Long and Short Reviews is a book reviewing site that I’ve been a huge fan of for many years. They are the most professional, trustworthy, and well-run review site I’ve discovered so far, and I’ve spent countless hours researching this topic.

Long and Short Reviews comes to mind every time one of my author friends talks about their need for more book reviews. There are so many amazing stories out there that really deserve more recognition. One of the best ways for them to be discovered by people who would love them is if reviewers take the time to write about them. The more reviews an author can get, the more chances they have to find their perfect audience.

There Are Many Books to Choose From

Long and Short Reviews receives more requests for reviews than it’s current pool of reviewers can read.

Whether you’d like to read erotica, romance, mysteries, science fiction, paranormal, horror, fantasy, young adult, or children’s stories, there’s something for every reader there.

They have short stories, novellas, and full-length novels in all of these genres, too. The vast majority of the books they have available for review are e-books, so it doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re from. Any reviewer who is comfortable writing in English is encouraged to apply.

Every volunteer reviewer is also free to review from as many or as few genres as they please. Some of them only read one genre while others are known to write reviews from a wide variety of genres. No one is ever assigned a particular story. They are always free to make that decision for themselves.

All of the Reviews Are Honest and Snark-Free

One of the biggest reasons why I like Long and Short Reviews is their policy of only posting honest, snark-free reviews.

If one of the reviewers notices an issue with a story, they aren’t afraid to speak openly about what didn’t work for them and why that part of the plot, character development, pacing, or other aspect of the storyline could use some more development.

Nothing is sugar-coated, but it’s also never snarky. Any criticism a book might receive is always written with the goal of helping the author become a better writer in the future.

The kindness of their reviewers is seen in every review, from the ones that receive the highest possible score to the ones that receive the lowest possible score. I’ve seen multiple examples of authors thanking reviewers there for pointing out the parts of a story that didn’t work for them and explaining their reasons for feeling that way.

It’s a Great Way to Support Authors

As I alluded to above, writing reviews are one of the best ways to support authors. I have a wide circle of friends who are writers, and many of them talk about the difficulties of finding potential fans out there.

Every review that is published increases the chances of someone stumbling across an author they’ve never heard of before but are going to love.

I always read the reviews before I buy a new book or borrow it from the library. Doing this has steered me towards certain titles and away from other ones on many occasions.

Not every story is going to appeal to every reader. By taking the time to type up reviews of the types of books you like, you increase the chances of them being discovered by other potential fans.

Yes, I’m including less-than-stellar reviews here as well. While some criticisms that are objective like not using standard punctuation marks, many other parts of the reviewing process are highly subjective.  One person’s pet peeve in a particular genre might be stuff that another reader doesn’t mind or even really likes.The more reviews a book has, the higher the chances are of it being found by new fans who are in the market for that exact kind of story.

The Community Is Warm and Supportive

The comment sections of the reviews and blog posts on Long and Short Reviews are a wonderful place to browse if you have some free time this week.

I’ve met so many interesting people as a result of spending time on this site.

Some of the authors there have been submitting their books for years. They’ve built up relationships with the reviewers and their readers over that time that occasional spills over into the comments section.

There are also relationships being built in Saturday Seven, the weekly book meme this site created a few weeks ago that you may have noticed I’ve been participating in. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how that community grows in the future.

You May Discover New Favourite Authors

This is by far the most subjective point on this list.

I obviously can’t promise when it might happen for you or even if it will happen at all. So much depends on what you like to read and what kinds of tales are sent in for possible review in any given month.

With that being said, Long and Short Reviews has many Indie authors and small publishers who are regularly featured there. I’d never heard of most of them before I began following this site.

A few of the authors I first discovered on this site have since been added to my very short list of authors on my I Must Read Everything They Write list.

Given how much of my free time I spend reading and how high my standards are for my must-read list, this is a pretty big compliment. If an author makes it to that list, they’re virtually always bound to stay there for good.

If You’re Interested…

If any of my readers are interested in signing up to become a reviewer, this page has all of the rest of the information you’ll need to apply. Go check them out on Twitter or the book reviews section on Long and Short Reviews to get a feel for the kind of casual, conversational writing style they’re looking for.

Don’t hesitate to speak up if you have any questions. The people who run that site are quite friendly and helpful. Of course, I’m happy to help you out, too!

Saturday Seven: Cold and Flu Season Reads

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

We’re well into the depths of winter now here in Ontario. Cold and flu season is in full swing. I spent the last several weeks fighting and just recently finally getting over a stubborn cold myself, so communicable winter illnesses like these have been on my mind. How do you stay healthy when everyone is sniffling and coughing their way through January? Will we ever come up with a cure for the flu or the common cold?

Today I thought it would be amusing to talk about books that approach these questions from a wide variety of perspectives. My list begins with one of the most common ways that germs enter a body, explores what happens when an epidemic occurs, and ends with the one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time.

Three of these books are non-fiction, and four of them are fiction.

5. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach. 

One of the most common ways to catch a cold, the flu, or other diseases is to touch your face after you’ve touched someone or something that is carrying those germs. That virus then travels from your eyes, nose, or mouth into your body and begins replicating.

While this book spends most of its time talking how the digestive tract works in general, it also discusses the body’s defences against germs and how someone’s diet can affect their chances of getting sick. I was simultaneously fascinated and also a little grossed out by the author’s descriptions of how all of these things work.

 

1. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It by Gina Kolata. 

Imagine how terrifying it must have been for our ancestors to watch their loved ones die from this strain of the flu or from the secondary infections they developed as a result of it. Normally, influenza kills people who are very young, very old, or who have underlying health conditions. It must have been even more frightening to see so many young, healthy adults succumb to it.

Antibiotics and life support machines didn’t exist in 1918, so there was little the hospitals could do in general to help patients who had severe reactions to this virus. People either recovered or they didn’t. All the doctors and nurses could do was watch and wait.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was how much detail it went into why this strain of the flu was so deadly, how it disrupted the daily schedules of the people who encountered it, and why it faded away.

2. The Stand by Stephen King.

The Stand was the first story I ever read about a virulent strain of influenza accidentally being released and killing off 99.4% of all humans. It ignited my interest in this genre.

While the plot soon veered off in other directions, the first few chapters went into great detail about why the U.S. army weaponized this virus to be so deadly in the first place, how it ended up being introduced into the general population, and what happened once people began dying in droves.

 

3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. 

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a huge fan of Margaret Atwood’s stories in general. What appeals to me the most about Oryx and Crake is how much time she spent describing what the world would be like after all but a handful of humans died in a terrible pandemic.

Some species flourished after mankind died off either because or in spite of all of the ways we bio-engineered them. Other species weren’t so capable of looking after themselves without a friendly human to feed them and keep them out of mischief. The buildings, trees, and land in general also changed in many ways as the Earth quieted down.

4. The Plague by Albert Camus. 

Don’t read The Plague if you’re easily grossed out by detailed descriptions of disease or what happens to a body after someone dies. The communicable disease that these characters come down with is a particularly nasty one, and there were never enough people around to take care of the ill or bury the dead.

With that being said, there are a lot of poetic passages in this book once you get past the descriptions of what happened when the characters fell ill.

5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

Most post-apocalyptic novels assume that everyone who comes down with the disease that’s destroying humanity will die. This one describes a world in which infected people remain alive but are changed into something that is no longer human. By the time the first scene began, there is only one human left in the entire world.

That’s all I can tell you about the plot without giving away spoilers, but I was fascinated by the idea of a virus that permanently and severely changes someone’s personality, habits, and ability to communicate rather than outright kills them.

 

6. Miracle Cure: The Creation of Antibiotics and the Birth of Modern Medicine by William Rosen. 

Finally, we come to the idea of a cure. The introduction of antibiotics changed how modern medicine was practiced in so many positive ways. Surgery became much safer, and with the threat of infection greatly reduced we were eventually able to start performing risky procedures like organ transplants as well.

Before I read this book, I had no idea how dangerous it used to be to give birth, have surgery, or even do something as ordinary as accidentally cutting yourself and then developing an infection in that wound. No one was too young or too healthy to avoid a terrible death if the wrong strain of bacteria entered their body during one of those events. I wonder if a similar drug will ever be invented that cures the common cold or the flu?

My fingers are crossed that we’ll someday have such a thing. In the meantime, stay healthy this winter!

Suggestion Saturday: January 20, 2018

Here is this week’s list of comic strips, poems, and other links from my favourite corners of the web.

Five Good Ideas Science Fiction Teaches Us to Fear via mythcreants. I hope you enjoyed Five Bad Ideas that Science Fiction Teaches Us to Love last week. As promised, here is the follow-up to that post.

Duct Tape 101 via LenieHokansson. A certain sibling of mine is a whiz at anything related to fixing up his house. He’s constantly coming up with weekend projects to make his home even nicer than it already is. I know he reads this blog, and I wonder how many of these tricks he’s tried.

How Mr. Spock Helped a Bi Kid Learn How to Fit In. I loved this story.

Treebound. Maybe this is what really happened to the Ents long after the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At any rate, I prefer it to what happened in the canon.

The Strange Case of the Dented Forehead via ‪StuartRWest‬. I really want a follow-up post to this one that explains whether Stuart really has a dented forehead and, if so, where it came from.

From The Stick Is an Unsung Hero of Human Evolution:

Sticks are probably where the story of craft begins—the point at which our very distant ancestors progressed from animalistic existences to lives materially enhanced by the objects around them.

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What I Missed the Most About Working Out

Its’s been a long time since my last workout thanks to a stubborn cold I caught weeks ago that only now seems to have faded away for good.

There are many other things in this world I can sit patiently through:  obscure jokes I don’t understand; long lines at Service Canada when I need to update my identification cards; medical tests that require you to remain perfectly still for a certain amount of time; an animal or small child who insists on following the same routine over and over again.

With that being said, I never enjoy being sidelined by an injury or illness that requires me to stop exercising for a while. I’ve been feeling restless this past week as my cough faded away and I slowly healed. It’s hard to stay sedentary during this part of the healing process because of how many different things I miss about my regular workouts when I’m not able to do them.

Today I thought it would be interesting to talk about the three parts of exercising that I miss the most now that I’m poised to finally get back into my regular routines.

Better Sleep

I fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly when I get some form of exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous  workout either. Even something as simple as a thirty-minute walk has a positive effect on how I sleep that night.

Some of my sleeping issues over the past few weeks were definitely related to being ill and would have happened regardless of what else was going on in my life. It’s impossible to sleep through a sneezing or coughing fit, and I slept better once most of these symptoms had gone away.

With that being said, I’m going to sleep even better now that I’m getting back into my normal routine.

A Sense of Accomplishment

There’s an app on my smart watch that gives me regular updates on my fitness and activity goals for the day. When I’m not sick or injured, I make those goals so reliably that I can pinpoint exactly when I’ve been under the weather in the past based on when my stats dip below my goals for those particular days or weeks.

My app gives me friendly notifications when I reach a goal or when I’m close to reaching a specific goal for the day. Seeing those updates not only makes me happy, it gives me a small sense of accomplishment as well. It’s easy to discount all of the other things I accomplish every day as a writer and volunteer because of how abstract many of those goals are, so it’s nice to occasionally be reminded of something I’ve done in a more concrete manner.

A Reason to Watch TV Shows

I’ve spent so much time exercising while watching TV shows over the past several years that it now feels incredibly strange to me to sit or lie down quietly while watching them.

Yes, I watched a few shows every day while I was getting better, but I found it a little more difficult to pay attention to their plots while my body was so still. The healthier I began to feel, the more restless I felt as well. I had the urge go run around outside in the freezing Ontario weather, not lie quietly and watch another episode.

It’s going to be so nice to at least be able to move again while I’m watching TV shows this winter!

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4 Things I’m Hoping to See in the New Twilight Zone Reboot

A few days ago, I heard that The Twilight Zone is going to be rebooted. This was incredibly exciting news since I watched reruns of many of the original episodes of this series when I was a kid.

While I am growing a little tired of watching rebooted shows in general, I’m also curious to see how The Twilight Zone is going to be re-interpreted in 2018. The world has changed quite a bit since the first episode aired in 1959, after all.

There were so many parts of the original series that I loved, from the plot twists to the clever re-imaginings of what society could possibly be like.  It would take many posts to talk about all of them, so I decided to concentrate on the four biggest ones for today.

If this reboot really impresses me, I do reserve the right to blog about this topic again in the future.

By the way, don’t click on any of the links I’m about to share if you’re planning to watch the original series and want to avoid spoilers for them. All of the links go to Wikipedia summaries of the plots of these classic episodes.

Social and Political Commentary

For example: The Eye of the Beholder, Time Enough at Last, and The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.

As I mentioned above, one of the things I loved the most about The Twilight Zone was their commentary on American life in the 1950s and 1960s.

The original scriptwriters weren’t afraid to critically examine any number of social ills, especially when it came to exaggerating or inverting them in order to show the audience just how ridiculous or unfair those issues were when viewed from the perspective of outsiders or of people who were most seriously affected by them.

I would be very surprised if the new writers didn’t continue this streak, but I’m hoping they push the envelope much further than it was pushed decades ago. I’d love to see much grittier episodes about the very real dangers of xenophobia, for example, or why blindly following authority figures is so dangerous.

Creepy Children

For example: Mute, Stopover in a Quiet Town, and It’s a Good Life.

Children whose personalities and/or supernatural abilities are creepy are one of my favourite tropes in the horror genre in general.

While there weren’t a ton of examples of this in the original series, the small number of episodes that included children who weren’t what they seemed give me hope that this trope will be used again in the reboot.

Horror in Ordinary Settings

For example: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, To Serve Man, and Long Live Walter Jameson.

There’s something about encountering a monster or other malevolent entity when you least expect it that makes such an experience far more frightening to me than it would be if the characters and audience knew from the beginning what was coming.

The original series did a fantastic job of finding ways to scare the audience without relying on traditional props like a haunted house, a cemetery, or other spooky places. I could have listed many more examples of this kind of storytelling in this section. It was something that the original writers returned to over and over again, and for good reason. Suddenly being shocked by the turn of what sure seemed ordinary events is one of the cornerstones of this series.

Hopefully that means that the new crop of writers will continue this trend. I strongly suspect that this is exactly what they’ll do, but only time will tell if my prediction is correct on this point.

Purposefully Questionable Science

For example: The Midnight Sun The Last Flight, and The Little People.

While I normally expect the science fiction I read to at least attempt to ground their stories with some kind of scientific explanation for why such a thing might occur, I won’t be too annoyed if the new The Twilight Zone occasionally releases episodes that doesn’t bother doing this for the sheer joy of asking questions like, “what would happen if the Earth began moving closer and closer to the sun?” instead.

I’m not a sci-fi purist by any means. There is plenty of room for silliness in the genre if you ask me, and I hope we see it in this series. It’s not like modern science fiction is always accurate! I’ve read and watched plenty of contemporary sci-fi that bends the rules of biology, chemistry, astronomy, and physics just as much as folks did 50 years ago.

Are there any other fans of The Twilight Zone in my audience? Will you be watching the reboot? What do you think of rebooting old shows in general?

Saturday Seven: Fictional Food and Drinks I Want to Try

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. How often do food descriptions in books make you hungry? This is something that happens to me regularly, especially if I happen to be reading a description of a delicious snack or meal right before it’s time to make my own dinner. While most of my cravings can be… Read More

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Suggestion Saturday: January 13, 2018

Here is this week’s list of comic strips, blog posts, and other links from my favourite corners of the web. Illegal Immigration. This is one of those links that works best if you don’t know anything about it ahead of time. Enjoy! Five Bad Ideas Science Fiction Teaches Us to Love via mythcreants. Next week I’ll be… Read More

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An Update on My Difficulties with Meditation

Wow, it’s been six weeks since I last blogged about meditation. I knew it had been a while when I first began working on today’s post, but I had no idea that so much time has passed. The last time I blogged about this topic, I talked about the possibility of taking a break from… Read More

5 Classic Science Fiction Books That Everyone Should Read

There’s something about the snowy days of January that makes me want to curl up with a classic science fiction novel and not lift my head up again until April. I’m not entirely sure why I have this urge. Maybe it’s because burying my nose in something that was old and often assigned in English… Read More

Saturday Seven: Cold Weather Reads

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Since this is the first Saturday Seven, I’ll explain it briefly for my readers. It’s a weekly meme for writers, bloggers, and book lovers in general. Every week you pick any book, writer, or author-related topic you’d like and make a list of seven things that… Read More