A Package of Moods by Adam Bassett (2016): A Review

A Package of Moods by Adam Bassett (2016)Adam Bassett’s A Package of Moods is a speculative fiction novel set in a future where a pharmaceutical company has distilled moods into a nicotine patch-like form. Through a series of chapters, each focusing on a new character, Bassett’s novel explores various individuals’ lives and how they intertwine and are impacted by the new mood drugs.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The novel was an easy read, with prose that flowed and was rarely interrupted with any awkward phrasing. Bassett’s writing style has a few moments where it shines. A character’s hesitancy to try the mood altering drugs and his transition to acceptance was encapsulated in “Aidan remained hesitant until the night after Christina broke up with him. He fell into a bottle of rum and awoke with a war in his head and Happy on his neck.” Another character’s description stuck out with the succinct lines “death would be hard for Colby to come by. He always buckled his seatbelt.”

I wanted to like A Package of Moods—the premise was intriguing and borderline dystopian—but it never quite delivered for me. I feel a glaring issue is that the novel attempts to cover more characters and ground than its short length lends itself to. There are 11 chapters, including the epitaph, and each chapter of the novel focuses on a new character and their story. All the characters are connected in one way or another—a nurse from early in the book appears at the end briefly to care for another sick character, the owner of the coffee shop where one character works appears later as the wife of another character, etc.—and the main character of one chapter becomes a background character in another (or disappears entirely). This results in a very surface-level feeling to the story. Other books have demonstrated that it is possible to have a large cast of characters and tell the story from different perspectives—the wildly popular series A Song of Ice and Fire (adapted for televison as A Game of Thrones) is an obvious example—but the length of the book must allow time to develop such a large cast and give the reader enough time with the characters. A Package of Moods, being a bit over 50k words in length, just does not have the time to develop the characters and connections it introduces.

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5 self-published Kindle short stories: an overview

Last week, I made an offer on reddit’s /r/selfpublish, calling for submissions of self-published Kindle short stories from which I could pick up to 5 to review. A part of my criteria for the stories I chose was fewer than 5 reviews on Amazon. As you might know, reviews and recommendations are important for getting your work noticed. Not many people want to gamble their money on something with very few reviews. And no reviews? Forget about it. I wanted to offer other authors the chance to get one of those initial reviews.

A bit about my process: I read what each author submitted, then used’s Amazon’s Look Inside to preview the first page or two of the story. Based on my interests and what I read, I tried to pick the stories that I thought I would most like. I read the stories in the order I purchased them, highlighting and taking notes within the Kindle text as I went. After I finished reading, I wrote my initial impression and some more substantial notes before moving on to the next story.

Finally, I wrote my reviews over the course of a couple days, taking my time to balance and polish each. I wanted to highlight positive aspects as I found them, but I also wanted to be honest.

So, without further ado, here are the five Kindle short stories I chose, and a summary of my reviews.

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Review: “Second Thoughts About the Fourth Dimension” by Adam Bertocci (2013)

This is a continuation of a week-long review series featuring Kindle short stories from authors from reddit’s /r/selfpublish. Check back throughout the week for more reviews.

Second Thoughts About the Fourth Dimension by Adam Bertocci (2013)While my call for short stories to review was for genres I typically read—scifi, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror—Adam Bertocci took me at my word that I occasionally read other things, and offered me this piece of literary fiction. And, boy, am I glad he did.

If you have ever taken part in a wedding—whether as the bride or groom, or one of the other essential wedding party members—you know that planning a wedding can be a tense, awkward, nervous affair. Adam Bertocci’s “Second Thoughts About the Fourth Dimension” captures this feeling almost perfectly as it follows bride and groom, Harper and Sean, as they discuss their upcoming wedding.

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