Category Archives: Guest Post

Editorial Review – Ramonst

 

 

Title: Ramonst

Author: Anthony Knott

Genre: Fiction, Southern Gothic, Crime

This novel reads somewhat like a memoir or a snapshot of the past. The summer in Tennessee enters as almost another character to the story of young Rodney, a boy tottering on the brink of puberty. He’s interested in everything and regularly writes down what he hears, but he struggles to know what to do after witnessing a series of disturbing events committed by an older, local boy adept at violence and threats.

Every year, Rodney leaves New York City with his mother to visit his relatives in a small town full of prejudices, opinions, religion, and forth-rightness. Everyone discusses everything, and the adults regularly say and do things in front of the “cousins.” Special reports, recent crimes, scandals, and medical procedures are all mentioned with alacrity, though specific details are glossed over.

The narration is from Rodney’s point-of-view, and the story has a slow, thoughtful pace that correlates to this young man—an insightful, sensitive soul who is liked by most, though he does have certain worrisome enemies that make his summer difficult.

Ramonst falls on the fringe edge of Crime Fiction, if it even belongs in that genre. Though a number of crimes occur, there is no mystery as to “who-dunnit” and the story isn’t about bringing the criminal to justice. Rather, it centers on how Rodney will survive the criminal’s threats if he tells anyone what he knows.

At times, the story flows along as lazily as a summer river, discussing baseball cards and drive-ins and mule-pulls without any concern about veering away from the “plot” of the crime and its consequences, and it can feel slow, plodding, and unstructured because of this.

Also, there were a few times when the sentences were vague and confusing. While some spelling errors contributed to this, the euphemisms employed by the narrator primarily generated this. Most of the time, there are no explanations, and certain processes, like Nana’s swallowing her tube, are never elucidated even though they happen during the story.

Even though Rodney falls under the Young Adult age, this story isn’t one of coming-of-age and growing up. Instead, it celebrates summers in the south, and will appeal to those who enjoy literary fiction more than fast-paced crime-solving or adventure.

Not a story for the weak-stomached, the tale plunges into violence, crime, and sexuality with a blunt coarseness that lends a very real dimension to the narration while making the novel primarily appropriate for adult readers.

Ramonst offers readers a dark, believable story from the south, its gritty realism balanced by the generally-optimistic outlook of youth. Featuring realistic characterization, the story flows at a steady yet relaxed pace, where events happen much as they would in real life.

It paints a portrait of a certain time and place without being overly-sentimental or judgmental, avoiding any discussion of good or bad, right or wrong. It just retells things as they were, or might’ve been, giving readers a portal to a vision of the past with all its flaws and pleasures.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

Original post here.

Editorial Review written by the Book Review Directory Production Team. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.

Editorial Review: Deserving Good

Title: Deserving Good: Getting to Know Your Real Self and Live a More Fulfilling Life

Author: Leora Zairi

Genre: Self-Help

This short self-help work by Leora Zairi provides gentle guidance towards self-awareness and transforming one’s life for the good. Focused primarily on knowing one’s self—one’s desires, needs, and emotional wants and making choices based on loving oneself—the author speaks from her own experience in an insightful way without being pedantic or overly technical.

She discusses the importance of getting off “the autopilot of the subconscious” and living as one wants without being swayed by one’s past or by society’s demands.

In many ways, this reads as the voice of a friend who has struggled and found the key to connecting deeper, being content, and escaping from a life of reactionary thinking. Providing gentle self-help rather than a strict “you must do this” regime, the author starts by explaining why self awareness matters and how to go from a “place of weakness to a place of empowerment.”

The tone is conversational, pragmatic, and practical, and while all such guides are open to cynicism, she has genuinely positive things to say and understands that the transformation she’s discussing won’t occur overnight.

Accordingly, the work makes no promises of instant change and betterment. She explains, “Spirituality doesn’t guarantee happiness but promises to help us to be happy with who we are. It is an inside job aimed at accepting and appreciating ourselves as we deserve.”

The book has very mild language which reinforces the conversational feel, making it seem like she knows the struggles and is there for you without being nagging, pretentious, or condescending.

Instead of addressing the more philosophical and metaphysical questions of destiny, justice, and the moral complications of everyone doing as they’d like, the author focuses on how one can improve one’s daily life, from finances to weight challenges to relational difficulties, though the primary focus is on emotional health. Overall, it focuses on understanding oneself rather than the universe and why one is here.

It felt like the book’s content could’ve been strengthened by showing how the methods discussed could be applied to a variety of religious frameworks. The author mentions having studied many sources looking for answers but seems to dismiss these sources as less important than a general, all-purpose spirituality, which could leave readers with unanswered questions and intellectual restlessness, as not everyone can overlook all “why” questions and only focus on what they are feeling in the moment. Perhaps a follow-up book will address the challenges of integrating the book’s principles into a framework of beliefs about life, morality, and humanity’s place in the world.

The author’s inner-centric way of changing one’s life explains how to create a spiritual connection that fills the void that used to be one’s life story. By feeling, exploring, and responding to one’s “inner child” through positive affirmations and encouraging questions, she shares how to change one’s life in any area, She writes, “The answer that comes from within you comes with the capacity to fit your own unique emotional structure and therefore, to heal.”

The work is divided under subheadings that provide an easy guide for reference while one is working through things, detailing nine steps to loving oneself, the four levels of perception, and other useful steps in creating a new way of life through connecting with the Higher self (called God, one’s spirit, and the Universe) rather than being restricted to the limited self (one’s ego).

The author assumes no prior knowledge and doesn’t favor any particular religion, though it is mildly Christian in outlook (referencing the book of Genesis as illustrating how humans are made in the image of a Creator and thus made to create one’s outlook, one’s response, and one’s life). Still, the goal isn’t to proselytize but to encourage expressing oneself, caring for oneself, and steering clear of anything that would pull one down.

She writes, “To love yourself is to understand that you have great strength within you, that nobody can deliver you from the outside and that only you can deliver yourself from within.”

Simple and relatable, “Deserving Good” provides a universal guide for finding peace and knowing one’s inner self. Avoiding mysticism, particular religious affiliations, or anything too technical or controversial, the book is remarkably permissive, understanding, and practical. It provides the tools to know oneself and, by knowing, to choose how one responds to life, and it delivers these tools in a simple and succinctly powerful way.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

Original post here.

Editorial Review written by the Book Review Directory Production Team. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.

Skill vs. Talent – Which Do You Have?

by Ryan Lanz

  • tal·ent [tal-uhnt] noun: a special natural ability or aptitude.
  • skill [skil] noun: the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well.

What if you don’t have natural talent? Does that mean you may as well give up?

 

It’s not quite the chicken or the egg debate, but it’s up there. I’ve heard people go in circles about which comes first and which is necessary. At what combination of both does one continue the grind and attempt at success? I’d be surprised if you haven’t asked yourself that question. It’s a part of being human.

 

What does each really mean?
This comes from the university of my opinion, but I would describe talent as the natural ability that needs little to no refinement, and skill is the unnatural ability that you have to develop. For those of us who’ve played sports (myself excluded), I’m sure you’ve all encountered someone who strides onto the field and makes it all look so darn effortless.

This person hardly shows up to practice, and you have a fairly good idea that it took hardly any effort to accomplish. Same with the person who aced every test in college with little preparation, leaving you in study hall time after time with a bucket of coffee. You must have missed at least three parties because you had to cram for the Calculus exam, right?

 

Which is better?
Good question. And one not so easily answered. Sure, we would all like natural talent that we don’t have to pour so much effort into, but sometimes that doesn’t quite pan out. Often, we are born with enough talent to have an affinity for a profession, but the rest has to be made up with skill. In writing, there are dozens of abilities that need to be present to make a good novel, such as foreshadowing, prose, description, natural dialogue, pacing, etc.

Let’s say that you have a knack for writing dialogue, but your setting description rambles on and on. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and you’ll have to practice at writing setting description over time to develop it into a skill, even if it’s not a natural talent. To be fair, natural talent does get you to the goal quicker.


Related: Finishing a Book is a Skill


 

The combination of the two
If Tiger Woods is not the best golf player of all time, then he comes very close. He started golfing on professional courses at the age of two years old and was featured in a golf magazine at the age of five. Tiger spent 545 weeks combined total as the world number one. In my opinion, that is some superb natural talent. Although Tiger has mounds of it, he still had a golfing coach (and probably still does) through most of his career. That’s combining the natural with the refined skill that creates that sweet spot. Think about how you can make a similar combination.

 

Is it so bad if you don’t have natural talent? Should you give up?
The one downside to having natural talent is that you don’t have as much appreciation for the effort. Let’s look at two writers: one who writes his/her first book and quickly becomes published, and the other is a writer who labors for ten years to even become noticed. Both eventually become published and successful, let’s say. I think it’s fair to say that the latter writer has more appreciation for the effort of the craft. There are small nuances of writing that I feel are best represented when someone has to massage and mold their skill over the long-term.

I believe that about anyone can accomplish about anything if they were to dedicate their entire life to it, even if that person doesn’t have a drop of natural talent. Ask yourself what craft you can accomplish if you were to invest 20 years to its perfection. So, no, don’t simply give up on it. You may have been born with talent in a profession you’re not interested in. That’s okay, just work to catch up in a profession that you are.

 

Conclusion
If you sharpen your skill enough, people will believe that you’ve had talent from the very beginning, regardless of how much you actually had to start with.

 

Original post here.

Guest post contributed by Ryan Lanz. Ryan is an avid blogger and author of The Idea Factory: 1,000 Story Ideas and Writing Prompts to Find Your Next Bestseller. You can also find him on TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr