S. A. Williams

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Smashwords book reviews by S. A. Williams

  • Herr Melby Makes Coffee on Jan. 22, 2013

    In less than 1,700 words, Gavin William Wright has crafted a touching and amazing short story which introduces two complex and conflicted characters. Despite the short length the character development is amazing and feels complete and the plot is engaging. A great quick read!
  • Hard Creek Bridge: a short story on Feb. 27, 2013

    Isaac Sweeney's "Hard Creek Bridge" is a wonderful short that quickly pulls the reader into the life of Slim, a college student who must move beyond the familiar life he is accustomed to, and into the wider world. A great, short read!
  • Jacob's Cross on Feb. 27, 2013

    An excellent perspective on grief and loss that explores these themes in a refreshing way. "Jacob's Cross" is a short, but well constructed and complete story.
  • The Story of Albert Ross on Feb. 27, 2013

    This short story, at time humorous, is an excellent example of allegory, filled with essential questions about mortality. Highly entertaining, but also makes you think!
  • What Jane Taught Me on Feb. 28, 2013

    While an interesting piece, this reads more like an essay than a work of fiction. The prose shows promise and explores an important topic in a new way, but it lacks a clear story arc. Worth a read since its length is short and its topic is important, but needs a bit more to connect the reader to the character(s).
  • White Pine on Feb. 28, 2013

    A solid, introspective, short which shows the character's struggle with his own emotional conflict over his wife's departure. The prose is, at times, awkward, but otherwise this is an interesting read.
  • Saint Sloan on March 03, 2013

    While I'm not a fan of the religious overtones this author seems to embrace, per se, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Kelly Martin crafts a cast of characters that are truly relate-able to almost anyone who's gone through high school and combined them with a plot that is as engaging for young adults as it is to those a bit older. Make no mistake, this book deals with some heavy subject matter, but Martin does so with grace and, frankly, I found that I couldn't put the book down. So why not 5 stars? Well, the ending seemed a little contrived; I'd like a bit more than the easy resolution Martin gives the characters. Further, the whole pain-killer question, which could have just as easily been left alone is brought into sharp focus ever-so-briefly--then left hanging. Perhaps the intent is for the reader to make his/her own assumptions here, but given the otherwise clean ending Martin seems to have worked so hard to craft, it felt a bit out of place. That aside, the bottom line is that this is a great novel and worth a read, it definitely won me over.
  • Hybrid (The Evolution Trilogy) on March 07, 2013

    Initially I was attracted to 'Hybrid' after reading a great, shorter piece by the same author--so I decided to give this a go. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. The plot of this book revolves around a 19 year old University student (Steven) who embarks on the typical adjustment to university life (takes classes, occasionally oversleeps, makes friends, meets a girl, etc.). But Steven is going through a very atypical transition as well (at first unknowingly), and this other transition (along with the intersections between the normal and abnormal) is truly the heart of the story. I liked this book because the plot was engaging and it kept me reading. (In truth, I had a hard time putting it down because I was so invested in the characters and the outcome.) Beyond that, Wester has taken an interesting and pleasantly surprising angle on what would otherwise be a tired plot device (think vampires, though strictly speaking it's a bit more than that). And before you count this book out due to the genre, I will note that the plot is far more engaging than some other recent works in the same vein (pun certainly intended), and in my view better written. It's not a perfect novel to be sure. At times Wester's prose and dialogue come across a bit clunky (and with dialogue specifically: at times it was overly formal). The book could also use another round of editing to eliminate the remaining typographical and grammatical problems. But that said, none of these minor drawbacks stopped me from reading or really pulled me far enough out of the story to be bothered--and the quality of the writing, overall, more than made up for them. In summary, this was a pleasant read and I'm hooked. I definitely recommend it and will, without a doubt, be reading the next book in the series.
  • Complications (The Evolution Trilogy) on March 27, 2013

    'Complications,' the second book in the Evolution Trilogy, picks up where 'Hybrid' left off. We rejoin Steven as he begins his journey away from the "community" in the Amazon with his mother and grandparents; his ultimate goal being to rekindle his love with Caitlin. As predicted by the title, complications ensue. The plot is a bit slower at first, but it picks up quickly enough. Much like 'Hybrid,' my primary source of enjoyment was the plot line that Wester has developed 'Complications.' In similar fashion to the plot of the first book, the reader follows Steven's own interesting journey as he discovers more detail about himself and the other "vampires," how they came into being, and how they differ from the traditional vampire--and again, we only learn these details as Steven himself learns them. For me, this allowed some connection with Steven as my questions were answered in tandem with his own. Structuring the plot in this way, however, took me out of the story on a couple of occasions. Steven's character (and eventually Caitlin's) become inconsistent at times throughout the narrative--this seems clearly aimed at demonstrating their own confusion and adaptation as they undergo what is an unpredictable change (and it would be incorrect to assume that their characters would remain unchanged throughout that, surely), but I'm not sure this device worked as well as intended, at least not for this reader. Wester's prose is, as it was in 'Hybrid,' a bit stiff/awkward for my taste. The book as a whole has some editing needs (certainly even mass market books contain errors, don't get me wrong, but here there are some obvious ones that need attention). I found the dialogue in 'Complications' to be, for the most part, a bit more natural than it was in 'Hybrid,' which was a positive for me. But, it's notable that the criticism I'm offering must be taken in context--specifically the context that overall, this was a worthwhile read. I enjoyed the story arc, and the book left me anxious to read the next installment of this trilogy (I believe Wester is writing it now). If you're a picky reader, you may see issues where I've noted above, but for the general audience (and certainly this book's target audience) I would recommend this one. It provides that ongoing 'I-must-know-what-happens' feel that's always wonderful in the second part of a series.
  • Evan's Story on March 27, 2013

    This is an amazing short! In 'Evan's Story' Hunsaker introduces title character Evan, a high school football player who recently lost his brother, and Susie, a 12 year-old who lives with Evan's family due to a loss of her own (and who experiences some prejudice from the community). This story nicely intertwines themes of love/companionship and grief and presents an unusually complete sketch of all the characters for a work of this length. That is to say: this reader finished the story feeling truly in touch with each of the characters, their motivations, and their desires. While I have been impressed by this author's work in the past, I truly connected with this story in ways that I didn't anticipate and I highly recommend it. From the author's note, the story is essentially a short introduction to two characters in her "Rehearsal" series. After this, I won't be able to stop myself from reading that series in the very near future!
  • Sketches #001 - 'separations' on April 05, 2013

    Sketches #001 - Separations is a collection of 18 short stories set in Norway. As the title suggests the stories follow the theme of separation on the part of the characters. Truly of the modernist bent, these stories are not plot-driven (which is not to say that they don't each have a plot of sorts), rather we see a slice of each main character's life in the tales, which range widely in length. Just don't expect the traditional obvious rising action - climax - resolution structure; it's there, but more subtle as the work focuses deeply on moments, which is highly effective in the way Wright has done it. I was excited to receive a free copy of this book because I've read single short stories by Wright before and have always been impressed. But he's somehow outdone himself here. The theme of the book is apparent as the reader makes her or his way through the differing aspects of each character's disconnect from someone or something. The range of emotions conveyed is surprisingly versatile considering what one might expect along the theme. My only complaint about this book (and it is best ignored) is in the formatting. Call me crazy (go ahead) but I like page breaks on my e-reader between stories. (Seriously, that's my only complaint!)