REVIEW: “Earth Music” by Jennifer Lee Rossman

Review of Jennifer Lee Rossman, “Earth Music”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

I really really like this work. I love the premise, and I loved how Ve is blind, but was still allowed on the trip. Instead of her people thinking that she was defective and leaving her behind, they brought her with them to Earth, and I love that. I love how, even without looking it up, I knew exactly what song was included on that disk, the one that Ve was so obsessed with. I love the way Ms. Rossman lets us imagine the aliens the way we want to, while still giving us hints of how they’re different from us.

I absolutely adore Ve, just all around. Something about her…she just seems sweet. Like one of those people you see and you instantly want to smile and hug them. Those are some of my favorite people, and that’s the vibe I get from her. I love how she comes across as intelligent, or intuitive, at least. She knows she has a weakness, but she thinks of how she can use it as a strength for her people. She isn’t afraid to put herself on the line, to try and ensure the best for her people. I love so much about the story, and most of it centers around Ve…which makes sense, considering she’s the focus of the story, but anyway.

The ending, ah, the ending. It’s so bittersweet. I can’t decide if I like it the way it is, or if I’m mad cause there’s not more to read. Either way, this is a gem, and I recommend it.

REVIEW: “Blood-Stained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto” by Stewart C. Baker

Review of Stewart C. Baker, “Blood-stained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

This one sucks you in. I didn’t think I was going to like it at first, to be honest. I’m really not fond of first person POV, whether it’s in the form of a letter or journal, or, well..anything. So I saw this and resigned myself to misery. That lasted about, oh, three minutes? Give or take? Then I started going “….waiiit a minute….” By the end, I was leaning forward on my elbows, nose thisfar from the monitor, and probably looking like an absolute loon.

So now I’m left with a different problem. I have to review this story, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, either. Some of you, if you know anything about Japanese mythology will probably be able to figure out what’s going on before it gets to the end. The rest of you though…well, you might just find yourself browsing through Wikipedia for more information. The story…shouldn’t be cute, but it kinda is? Mostly because of the mental image I have of the person writing the letters. Ahh, I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say, at the end? The story is no longer cute. It is a story of bloody revenge that is very satisfying.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

REVIEW: “Mourners” by Joe Baumann

Review of Joe Baumann, “Mourners”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

I read a story once about a person who woke up and had completely forgotten how to read. He could write, but he was unable to read the words that he had wrote. He had to relearn the sounds each letter made, and how they went together to form words. The premise of “Mourners” is very similar to that idea, but instead of a mental ability, the people woke up missing body parts. One person woke up without feet, another without eyes. Someone else lost their nose, and a famous singer lost their vocal cords.

The author never goes into why it happened, a decision I’m not entirely sure I agree or disagree with, but he does a good job of painting a picture of how people might react to the sudden change. The “why” of it still bugs me though. Was it mother nature getting revenge? Was it aliens? Was it a shifting of realities?

The last one is the only one that makes sense, to me, considering that there was no blood or anything when the body parts went missing. They just disappeared as if they had never been there in the first place. I would love to hear other theories, so feel free to read and share your thoughts on the matter.

REVIEW: “Singularity Alice” by Lorraine Schein

Review of Lorraine Schein, “Singularity Alice”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal

No sugar coating, no lying: I was bored. I was expecting so much more, especially when I saw that it was a human exploring a supermassive black hole. I have been fascinated by that very idea since I was eight, okay? So you can imagine my disappointment when I found myself skimming – skimming – through it, trying to see if it picked up along the way. It didn’t. I kept finding myself adding “with zombies” at the end of sentences, thinking maybe it was just too passive voiced. I finally just had to admit that I was bored because it was…well, boring.

I’m willing to cut it some slack though. I liked the “White Hole” ending, and it’s possible I was just too excited about the idea, and was unfairly biased. I suggest reading it for yourself, just to be on the safe side.

REVIEW: “Seven” by Sarah Krenicki

Review of Sarah Krenicki, “Seven”, Syntax and Salt 4, 2017: Read Online. Reviewed by Tiffany Crystal.

I cannot express just how much I love this story. It has magic, and children, and growing up, and fireflies, and magic. Sarah Krenicki takes us for a short trip into a world where children gain magic on their seventh birthday, and lose it the day after they turn eight. It’s a rite of passage all kids go through to become “big kids.”

All kids except for little Katy. She turns seven, gets her magic…and never loses it, even when she turns eight, then ten and twelve. In this, Katy is almost a Peter Pan figure, with her older sister (or so I assume) playing the part of Hook. Or perhaps it would be better to say that Katy is Peter, her magic is Wendy, and her sister is the jealous fairy Tinker Bell.

However you want to look at the characters, the story is definitely worth a read…or two or three.