Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review Wednesday: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. I don’t give 5-stars very often, but I really can’t think of anything wrong with this book. It was so silly, and tender, and poignant, and sad, and…adjective overload. I can’t say enough about the amazingness of this book. I recommend to pretty much everyone. It did have some bad language, but I’ve seen worse. I’m not sure why it’s not YA, since the protagonist is 15 and the only thing inappropriate is the language. I’ve read YA that’s a lot more disturbing as far as subject matter and had just as much profanity. I would not call this book a mystery, but it did have moments of discovery that surprised me, which I enjoyed very much.

The characters in this book were so amazing and well-done. I loved Christopher and as he went through his struggles, he took me along, explaining things along the way that I’d never even realize I never think about. Haddon does as great job of imagining the mind of a person with Asperger’s syndrome. I liked all his lists, and how he explained things in such a delightful, childlike way even though it was usually something very complicated and scientific.

I felt a lot of sympathy for the father (and mother, although she was only a minor character). He had an anger management problem, but I still felt for him and cried when he was trying to make it up to Christopher. I know a little bit about the difficulties of trying to communicate with people on the autism spectrum, and I have infinite respect for parents who face those struggles every day. So although the father was sometimes brutally awful, the author did a wonderful job of making him sympathetic at the same time. I found myself tearing up a few times, both over the sweetness between the father and son and the moments of anguish.

Mark Haddon has created a wonderful book that I can only hope will be widely read for years to come. The way he creates balanced characters with frustrations, fears, sadness, and love that you can feel as you read is truly rare and wonderful. A heartbreaking, hilarious, and complicated work with wide appeal that is well worth reading or listening to. It’s one of those rare books that, when I got to the end, I immediately had the urge to start over at the beginning and reread.

In summary: I LOVE THIS BOOK!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday!

Alright, well, while I'm at it, I figured I'd keep my book at .99 through the weekend and Cyber Monday. So if you want to find The Superiors for super cheap, go check it out! And look at all the other great deals while you're there, too. I'm pretty excited about the tote bag I found on amazon!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Sale!

Hey guys!

My book, The Superiors, is on sale at Amazon for $0.99 right now. So...if you haven't read it and you want to...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review Wednesday: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I read the first half of this book and listened to the second half on audio. I liked the parts I read much better. At first, it was a little hard to get into since it's written in dialect. But once I got into it, I really enjoyed reading it. When I listened to it, I just wanted to get it over with, so I'm not sure if I didn't like the reader of if the book just lost my interest.

I thought it was a good exploration of the relationships between women, both the supportive side and the cattiness. I've heard that a lot of people are angry about a white author trying to capture the voice of black women, or they say the book is stereotyped, or that it glosses over a horrible situation. I didn't really feel that way at all. I think it portrays black people in a very positive light, but I never had a maid or knew anyone who did, black or white, so I can't really say if the book is accurate or not. And it certainly does not gloss over racism and give us a happy Mammie figure. I liked all the characters in the book, although Skeeter's parts were somewhat dull compared to the others.

I also didn't know much about the maid culture of Southern families before civil rights, so that was interesting. I'd heard of rich white families having black wet nurses during slavery, but I didn't know so many maids raised white children even in the 1950's and 60's. So the historical aspect of the book interested me.

I liked that this book, unlike so many in women's literature, did not focus on romance. I'd recommend to anyone sick of reading romance novels disguised as something else, and for pretty much all women in general. A good modern historical fiction book.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review Wednesday: Fading into Magic by Vone Savan

Fading Into Magic (Fading Into Magic, #1)Fading Into Magic by Vone Savan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a valiant effort from a new independent author. I was drawn to it because of the wonderful, whimsical cover art. The story itself is engaging, exciting, and fast-paced. It has some romance, some tragedy, some action...all the usual paranormal ingredients.
The main character seemed a little undeveloped, but I still rooted for her. The plot was a little predictible, but I find that's true of almost all YA paranormal romance. The girls in this book seemed more like 10 than 17, though. At the beginning, I kept checking back to make sure I'd done the math right--I don't see 17 year old girls running everywhere and yelling to each other all the time, calling each other 'honey bunny' and stuff like that. I'm not sure the author is very aware of what high school girls are like.

While the plot didn't have any holes or leave anything to be desired, the writing style was very elementary and hard for me to get into. Some of the dialogue was hokey, the inner monologues often sounded like lectures for the reader, and the writing itself was very beginner. It was a good book, and with a professional editor who knew the writing business, it could have been very good. All the adjectives and people yelling things drove me a little nutty, though. I'd recommend a few books on writing for this author, and expect great things from him if he gets his books into industry-standard form.

An intriguing read that I'd recommend for Middle Grade/Young Adult readers of paranormal romance.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review Wednesday: Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart, #1)The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This book was a fast-paced, interesting historical fiction for young adults. It had some pretty adult themes, but nothing graphic. It was really interesting to me, especially all the parts about the opium trade and how England endorsed it and legally sanctioned the opium growers of India. Unfortunately, I'm not sure many young adults would be interested in the subject, so I don't think this book was very popular (at least not in America). However, it was well worth reading. It's full of action, mystery, and plenty of educational stuff. Now I want to read two things: the next book in the series, and more historical fiction about the British/Indian opium trade.

This is not a light, fluffy read, despite the action and themes (mystery, murder, stolen treasure, a giant ruby, pirates, orphans, curses, oh my!) It has a dark atmosphere, but not gloomy. And besides the action and suspense, the characters are wonderful and lovable. Not quite as much as in His Dark Materials, but wonderful nonetheless. I like how Pullman writes strong female characters at the center of his novels, and surrounds them with a memorable cast of men. In this book, both the heroine and the villain are female, both of them striking and wonderful. And all the supporting characters are quirky, but not too quirky. Realistically rendered and delightfully deviant.

I'd recommend this book to intelligent young adults and adults.

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Monday, November 7, 2011


When people talk about what a writer needs, it always seems to go something like this:

1. an idea
2. an ability to string together a sentence (with talent helps, but is certainly not necessary).
3. time to write
4. passion
5. dedication

I'm here to add one thing to the list: perseverence.

Yes, this is certainly mentioned in blogs and topics where the goal is finding an agent and a publisher. But even if you're not querying or looking to get published, a giant dose of perseverence is mandatory.

First of all, you have to stick with the story. Sure, I have a dozen stories I started that are now anywhere from 30 pages to 150 pages. But if I'd stuck with them, they might have been something. Now they never will be. Maybe some of them didn't really need to be written. Some of them were abandoned for another more pressing idea. Some of them just took too long and I ran out of steam. That's bad. I don't want to abandon a story that has potential just because I lose interest in it. But sometimes it happens to me. First drafting is like a fever of creativity--if I don't capture it when it's fresh, it gets stale and sometimes fades. That's why I can do an entire first draft in a week or two, and why it's not uncommon for me. Of course, having a job does tend to get in the way of that. Too often real life obligations crowd out writing time, and the story goes stagnant for me.

And then, if I get the first draft done before the creativity runs dry, I have to go back and edit. Sometimes, I put this off for, oh, a year or so. Because I hate one of the editing steps. I call it my 'passive voice' edit, where I go through the entire novel trying to root out all those was'es and am's. I can put this off for months. I can start a passive voice edit and finish it six months later. I will try any means of procrastination to avoid sitting down and rooting those little buggers out. It's the head-lice case of the writing process. Nit-picking, fine tooth comb, all that stuff. Adding and deleting scenes is a breeze, perfecting the voice of each character, all that is fun stuff. But that dreaded edit makes me want to scream. But if I do it, if I stick it out and plow through, the book is better. It has to be done.

So now I'm going back to editing. I'm going to stop procrastinating. I will persevere.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Friday!

Hey everyone,
I make it a point to reciprocate in social media, following my followers and such. So...I've tried to follow all my followers' blogs, twitters, etc, on each site. I went through my blog follower list, and I *think* I've got everyone. Authors supporting each other is always a good thing.

So, if I haven't followed your blog back, please post a comment and let me know if I still need to do that. Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Review Wednesday: Bridget Jones's Diary By Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones, #1)Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the funniest book I've read in ages, maybe ever. I love the movie and have seen it way too many times, so I had all the voices in my head when I read it, which was great. Reading it in the intended British accent made it even funnier.

The only book I've ever read that is close to as funny as this is Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, which is like the YA version of this book--both written in diary format, with lots of funny stuff and a few British jokes I didn't get. Still, Bridget Jones has been near and dear to me for about ten years now, so I can't believe I hadn't read the book until now.

The book is a different from the movie in a lot of places, such as the general plot. Also, Mark hardly appears in most of the book, while he's in the movie a lot more. And Daniel sort of disappears halfway through the book and she hardly hears from him again. I have to say, I love love love his character. He's not just the rascally literary antogonist--he's like the real scondrel that we've all dated. Or, at least, I've dated that type. Mark wasn't as well developed, and in fact, I found his character a little transparent in the book. Definitely not nearly as well-done as the hilarious Daniel. Every time Daniel was in a scene, I could not stop laughing out loud for minutes on end! His every line and every move was just so...right.

Bridget's friends also get more page-time than they do screen-time. I just loved her friends, especially Shazzer (I HAD this friend in college!) and Tom, who was so lovable and hilarious I just wanted to hug him and giggle every time he showed up. I loved all Bridget's little tips she got from Jude, from the feng-shui "where do I put the wastebasket?" to the zen lectures. All the friends were hilarious and well-developed in short spaces of time.

It's the first book in a long time that I just could not put down--I put off everything I needed to do for three days straight because I wanted to read this book in every spare second. I don't know what else to say except that his book is a hilarious, light read that pretty much every single girl would love, and plenty of not-single girls too. Full of cheeky, irreverent humor that will make anyone with even a pigeon's sense of humor burst into laughter at least ten times.

Quotes: There are way too many to count, I'd end up quoting the whole book. But a few I marked in the last few hours:

RE Pride & Prejudice: "I would hate to see Darcy and Elizabeth in bed, smoking a cigarette afterwards. That would be unnatural and wrong."

"I hate Christmas. Everything is designed for families, romance, warmth, emotion and presents, and if you have no boyfriend, no money, your mother is going out with a missing Portuguese criminal and your friends don't want to be your friend anymore, it makes you want to emigrate to a vicious Muslim regime, where at least all the women are treated like social outcasts."

"Every time I've met Julio he has been clean and coiffed beyond all sense and carrying a gentleman's handbag. Now he was wild, drunk, unkempt and, frankly, just the type I fall for."

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Coffin Hop giveaway winner!

Hey guys!

Thanks for checking out my coffin hop blogs. The winner of my contest is Jennifer S. I will be emailing you shortly. Congratulations!

And thanks to everyone who entered. I will follow your blogs back if you've followed mine. Happy November. I hope everyone had a spooky, eventful Halloween! Mine was!