The Sticks

Title: The Sticks
Author JF Smith
Publisher: Self
Amazon: Buy Link The Sticks
Genre: gay fiction
Length: Short story/31 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: Heartbreaking


Percy’s given up. He’s given up and wants to be as far away as possible from the
place that has been the source of his troubles all his life. But to his
disappointment, he finds himself in the last place he expected. And a chance
encounter with a redneck and a stubborn hound dog aren’t helping, either. That
is… until they do.

Invincibility can be found in the strangest

This short story by JF Smith imagines that, perhaps, very big
things can happen in very small moments.


Just to make it very clear, while I do think that this author has a room to grow and develop in his writing,  I am definitely already a fan of his work.   I reviewed his novels “Falling from the Face of the Earth” and “Latakia” on the site and considering that I thought his writing already improved in Latakia,  I could not wait to see what he would come up with next. The settings, themes and characters in his novels were completely different from each other, not repetitive at all, so I suspected that this is not an author to do the same thing over and over again and when I grabbed and read this short story, I saw that he wrote something completely different yet again.

So, this short story is not a romance, or a love story. It is a story about the effects of  bullying on a young person. I don’t think we could ever have enough stories which show the devastating effect of bullying on our kids and teenagers, hopefully those stories would help at least some of them to get through high school by encouraging and supporting them.

But besides that, this story is just so beautiful. On the surface it is deceptively simple, but as reviews on Amazon state (yes, I purchased this story and when I do so sadly I always read reviews), if you know at least some very basic Greek mythology (really really basic – at least in my opinion, just  need to know some basic figures), the story would hit you so much harder and the tragic  interpretation would become so much more obvious. I did not feel that I was reading an antibullying Public Service Announcement though, but a work of art.  I was very pleased to see that this writer can do a shorter form so well. There is some ambiguity left in the interpretation in my opinion, because not everything goes according to the mythological path either, if I remember my Greeks well, or maybe I am just a hopeless lover of happy endings.

Not much is happening in this story, even though a lot happens to main character, hence my review is so short, but I highly recommend this story.


    • I enjoyed it Larissa, his writing here is very different from Latakia (which I loved, imperfections and all), so if the writing would be to your taste, I think you may enjoy the content.

  • I was lucky enough to read Latakia and go searching for more of his books during the brief window in which he was offering this one for free. So I nabbed it, but didn’t find the blurb compelling enough to give me much interest in reading it beyond how much I’d loved Latakia. But your review increases that interest significantly; he should run his blurbs by you in future for fine-tuning! 😀

    • Just keep in mind that it is not a romance and I think you should be fine if you dont mind heartbreaking :). I really do think that he is awesome and with good editor has a potential to be amazing. Of course I have no clue, maybe he has an editor, but honestly if so, longer works IMO needed stronger editing content wise. Let me know what you thought if you decide to read it.

      • I’m fine with non-romance and with heartbreaking, I just like to know in advance so I can read it when that’s what I’m in the mood for. 😀

        He may be in need of a good editor, or it may be that since he’s self-publishing, he’s choosing to ignore what might have been excellent advice. When beta reading, I’ve had authors not take some of my suggestions, and then I’ve watched as review after review has said how much better the book would have been if only it were different in the ways I’d suggested. 😆

        It’s not high on my TBR, but I’ll try to remember to let you know what I thought whenever I finally read it. 😎

        • Heh, see you are braver than me. I have that feeling that no matter how many times author would tell me to express my suggestions freely that they would not like it. I only agree if I am hundred percent sure (and I have very very limited beta reading experience and not about grammar of course, only content) that the person would not flip out on me about my suggestions. It is their work, so obviously I really do not care whether my suggestions are used, but I would be too worried about loosing friendly relationship if that makes sense.

          I think, self publishing or not, paying for the editor helps, if of course you expect some serious investment to your book. If it is just your hobby, eh, I don’t know, maybe several betas are enough.

          Definitely let me know please. And I so hear you about the appropriate mood. I postponed reading an amazing book for about a year and read it only recently – just because I did not think reviewer was clear as to the ending lol.

          • I’m not sure how much it’s bravery or stupidity. :hysterics: But seriously, I only beta for authors whose work I like and who I think take criticism well. So then it’s fun and satisfying. 🙂

            I can see that paying the editor could make an author more invested in that editor’s suggestions. But paid or not, not all editors are equal. So I think the real trick is to get a really good one and a few really good beta readers (with “really good” defined by fitting well with the specific author, as that will vary a bit from person to person).

            What’s the amazing book you just read recently? wondering if I’ve already read it or might want to check it out

            • Oh I think everything you said about beta reading makes perfect sense 🙂

              Elliott Mackle “It takes two” – it is a reread because it was just reissued on Kindle, but I have read it quite some time ago, so in many ways felt like new 🙂 But you said you don’t like historicals, so probably not for you? It is a twentieth century though – Florida in the 40s, so maybe you will like it better? I loved this book so very much, even more second time around.

              I am also finally reading first of the Donald Scratchey mysteries. Very good mystery, very well crafted, complex, sophisticated, not one of those where we have two more or less developed characters besides main characters and we need to guess who is the killer, you know? No, perfect main stream mystery as far as I am concerned and Donald is gay of course. He has a lover, just dont expect a romance.

    • I live to please ;). Let me know what you thought. I have a feeling that you may like it.

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