Friday, April 19, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

The Time KeeperThe Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A book every go-go-goer of today needs to listen to. An amazing story about appreciating what we have and focusing on all the seemingly little (but really the biggest and most important) moments in life.

My parents and I took a LONG roadtrip this past fall and stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch. I suggested we pick up an audiobook to fill the silence during the drive. Now, I am typically drawn to YA literature and they...they would rather listen to the white noise on the radio than to anything YA. What they like are mysteries and Christian fiction. I found this audiobook and the back blurb sounded like something my folks would enjoy and I could stand to listen to.

As soon as the story started, I was hooked.

The reader does a phenomenal job capturing and bringing to life each of the characters. The story follows three main characters and, even though they are as different as can be, you are instantly sucked into each of their lives.

During the roadtrip we got lost and had to turn the audiobook off to listen to my Dad's GPS device disagree with my Mom's iPhone GPS. During that trip, we ended up seeing some beautiful parts of the country but I never did get to hear the last half of the book.

And the story has haunted me for months. I wanted to know what happened to Dor, Victor, and Sarah. So, 3 days ago, I just happened to pass by the Adult fiction audiobook shelf of my library (I was headed to the kiddie movies which they recently moved near the adult audiobooks--go figure) and by chance looked down and there was The Time Keeper, begging me to take it home.

And I am so glad I did!

I highly recommend this book to everyone and will be putting it on my husband's iPhone when he gets home tonight.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reading Challenges for 2013

I was so close.
Like THIS close.
I failed.
(I'm the little blue guy.)

Last year, I only read 89 books when I said I would read 100.

Now, it's a new year and a new beginning.  And I've committed myself to not only try again this year, but to succeed and maybe even surpass my goals.

Not only am I participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I'm also taking part in the Indie-Fever Challenge over at b00k r3vi3ws by DDS.

My challenge level will be that of LOVER (9-16 Indie Author books). If I had the time to read all the e-books I've downloaded over the past year and a half, I'd be a Fanatic (28+), but I don't want to set myself up to fail twice this year. As it is, I have not had the greatest success with e-books published by Indie Authors, so we'll have to see how this goes. Maybe I will find a few gems in my hoard.

I'm hopeful.

And I'm also now out of time for this post. Diapers to change, bottles to warm, and busy life to live.

Friday, January 4, 2013

e-Book Review: Becoming Jolie by Monique O'Connor James

Becoming JolieBecoming Jolie by Monique O'Connor James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Becoming Jolie is yet another example of why I find it hard to like self-published books.

So far, in my experience, self-published books are riddled with problems. Problems that an editor should've/would've caught. Problems that using more than one beta reader could've pointed out. And I'm not talking just typos because typos exist even in traditionally published books. Even minor the wrong name or a misplaced prop...can slip through on traditionally published books.

However, self-published books or books published by small, online publishing companies tend to have far too many of these issues.

A few might bother me but won't distract too much from the story. But, when you have little thing after little thing after little thing, they really begin to pile up. And that makes it difficult for me to like the book.

That is my major complaint with this book: all the little things.

The inconsistencies with props and surroundings.

--Jolie goes to the bar to get a pitcher of beer and 4 plastic cups, but then everyone is popping the lid off their beer bottles. ??? Where did those come from and what happened to those plastic cups pointed out to me as being served at a bar?

--The need to walk to the back of a convenience shop to get cell service after coming off the highway. ??? In my experience, you normally find better cell reception outside of buildings. She went in only so she could run into another character.

--After traveling a long time, Jolie & Tucker walk into her apartment and the first thing he does is turn on the t.v. and THEN he drops his bag. I don't know how important the t.v. is to him, but I think most people would drop their bags first and THEN go turn on the t.v. to relax. I know that sounds nit-picky, but it's just another example of one of the many little things that irked me.

The odd and inconsistent behaviors from the characters

--Frog: He acts like such a douche/jerk in the beginning but then suddenly has a change of heart and helps out? And I think even a backward backwoods cop would've acted more...cop-like...than Frog did in the bar and at the police station. And what about that bar scene? Do you really think a cop would allow a guy he knows to knock him out in public and then not charge the guy later for assault?

--The FBI: They weren't even really characters in the book, and yet...Not gonna touch that one.

--Hutch & Jolie: I didn't even realize they were going to kiss the first time (it happened so quick and out of the blue) and then it's like they forgot it happened, too. Their whole relationship was awkward and wishy-washy. And I lost all respect (if I had any) for Jolie from her response to being rejected:
"...Hutch was distant as he pushed her to the floor and stood.
"Please, don't leave.""
I'm sorry, but she is either really needy which makes her weak and dislikable, or she is the epitomy of dumb girls everywhere who only find self-worth and happiness in the person she is with. What self-respecting girl would beg a guy to stay after he rejects her forward advances and DUMPS her on the floor? How pathetic.

And there were some issues with grammar and a serious overuse of passive voice.

But the story itself? The story itself was...absurd. The whole idea of the thesis which sent Jolie to Folette seemed far-fetched. The big ta-da near the end about Jolie was painfully obvious much earlier in the book than when the ta-da was revealed. There were so many unrealistic things which happened in the story and made it unbelievable. And the ending? Totally had that cartoonishness where the good guy goes to confront the bad guy and said bad guy confesses to all his evil-doings for no good reason, except to tell the reader what happened and why he did it.

Becoming Jolie's saving grace was Tucker. His character was consistent and most often seemed reasonably believable.

I have another of Ms. O'Connor James's books already queued up on my ereader, so I will give her another shot, but I doubt I will purchase anything else from her if the next book has similar issues.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Stories

Once upon a time...
It was a dark and stormy night....
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
Call me Izzy...

Ah, the opening line.

I spent so many hours agonizing over perfecting my opening line for Telos.  I have so many versions saved in one of the various 'temorary' files for that book.  It's hard to believe I began writing Telos over two years ago--as a project to occupy my time during Lent (we'd given up television watching) and to give my kids a story while they waited for the next installment of the series we were reading (Justin Somper's VAMPIRATES, which we've just recently begun to reread).

I'm happy to announce that thirteen minutes into the new year (and thirteen minutes later than my goal had been), I finished the fifth complete rewrite of Telos: book one of The Children of Chaos.

Now, it's time to start something new.  These new projects (for indeed, there are more than one brewing in my head) will encourage me to take a step away from the world of Chaos and to leap into new worlds full of chaos.  I look forward to the days of research as I examine and explore those worlds which I have yet to create.  I look forward to getting to know all the new characters I will meet there and their problems.  I look forward to the headaches of figuring out why something just isn't working and the countless hours of revision work ahead of me.  And, I look forward to handing the first rough draft to my husband/daughter/sister/mother-in-law and having them tell me what they did/didn't like about it.

But, I'm not leaving the world of Chaos completely.  I still have work to do...query revision, rewriting the snyopsis, finding an agent to sell Lily's story.  And then there are the sequel and finale in the trilogy which need rewriting and the side-stories and companion novels itching to be told.  But, I'm putting Chaos's full stories aside for now as I focus on renewing my passion for writing.  The few short stories I wrote while working on Telos really helped revitalize my love for telling stories and I'm hoping at least one new novel will do the same.

I'm excited!  It's a new year full of new stories to tell, and I look forward to sharing those stories with you and the rest of the world someday soon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Dump - Recycle or Just Throw it Out?

People give excuses not to GO GREEN all the time. "But I can't afford it." "But it's actually more harmful than helpful." "But it doesn't really make a difference."  However, I believe going green (to an extent) is the socially and environmentally sound option.  Even those who hate the whole GREEN campaign can agree that recycling paper, plastics, glass, styrafoam, and hazardous waste (to conserve natural resources, reduce landfill waste, and protect surrounding areas from harm) is a good thing to do.
Now, am I saying everyone should buy a hybrid car or switch out all their light bulbs or only buy products using recycled/recyclable materials?  No.  Just that, sometimes, recycling, if the item can be recycled, is a good thing to do.

And sometimes, you just have to throw some things away.
What does any of this have to do with writing?  (I’m getting there…)
I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember.  Growing up, my favorite thing to do was read.  To this day, I still love to read.  It’s my favorite past-time.  And I really love it when I start reading a book and I get sucked into this whole other world I never knew existed.  Thankfully, someone else did and they were skilled enough with their language and writing ability to transcribe a story and introduce that world to me.
I never realized how difficult that introduction could be until my focus turned to writing.

Since you, the reader, are new to my world of Chaos, I feel like there is so much you need to know about its history and the rules existing there.  Some things are easy to slip in here and there, but others?  Not so much.  For example, things the MC needs to know:  her family's history, who and what she is, the "real" history of the "real" world.
 Enter the INFO DUMP.

Ugh.  Sitting in the middle of my book, smelling the whole thing up, is an information dump about all the background stuff I know and which I truly believe enriches the story and want to share with you, my reader.  And it really isn’t full of garbage.  There are some gems in there.
But (and there is always a but, isn’t there?)
I feel like I’m giving the reader a history lecture, which (as most non-history-buff people would agree) is BORING!  The last thing I want is to bore my reader.
But (there it is again)
My main character really doesn’t know all this stuff and she needs to and she’s inquisitive and she asks and, and, and…
What do I do?  What do I do?  What do I do?

For you, the reader, do info-dumps bother you? I don’t think they bothered me…before I knew they shouldn’t be there…before I knew there might’ve been a better way for the author to tell me all that stuff.
But now…
The writer in me says I need to eliminate it.  Just throw it all away.
But then...

The story-teller in me says, “You need to know!!!!”

So, do I just throw it all out and see if it works without that knowledge?  I’m so close to the story, will I even be able to realize that the reader doesn’t know what I do?  Or, do I go back and try to weave the most important details into the existing story?  You know...recycle it.
That seems like the right thing to do.
But, but, but...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Audiobook Review: LOCOMOTION by Jacqueline Woodson

LocomotionLocomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio presentation of this book. I chose to listen to this, not knowing anything at all about the story, because of how short it was...just over an hour long. At the very beginning, I thought I would regret my decision.

I am amazed at how much I ended up liking this story.

Dion Graham, the reader, did such an amazing job bringing Locomotion (the MC) to life. I really felt like Locomotion was reading his poetry book to me...or I was in class listening to him read it aloud.

The author, Ms. Woodson, did an amazing job writing poetry believably written by a tweenager. Some of the poetry set me giggling. Some made me feel sad. All of it made me relate to Locomotion even though I've never experienced the things he did.

I highly recommend this audiobook even if you aren't a fan of poetry.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book Review: Passion (Fallen #3) by Lauren Kate

Passion (Fallen, #3)Passion by Lauren Kate
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh thank Heavens I finished this book!

If I could go back in time and stop myself from picking up PASSION and RAPTURE from the library, I would do it. At least I can prevent myself from reading book 4. I read the last page in the last book, so I know what happens and feel I've got it covered. No need to suffer through the 448 pages of that book. Maybe it would be better than PASSION, but I'm not going to spend my limited time reading it. After all, I have a stack of other library books and dozens of books on my shelf and close to a hundred e-books to read.

As for PASSION, I guess my main problem was the whole traveling-back-through-time bit. I get their Announcer travel, even if I don't understand it or why it is even possible. And I was okay with Luce going back in time to find out what the curse was and how to correct it. And I was even okay with her wanting to figure out why they loved each other (although I don't think that was ever actually answered).

At first.

Then, I just got bored. It was the same thing each time. Some minor enlightenment followed by some gruesome (or not so gruesome) death followed by Daniel acting like a seriously-depressed person. Okay, I get that he loves her and it tears him up to have to watch her die time and time again, but it really didn't help me to like him more or see him as a strong individual. And I really don't see what they love about each other. It's insta-love over real reason beyond they are soul mates, he's super hot,, that's about it.

But my biggest beef with this story is the 'God' character. He totally doesn't act like an all-knowing, all-powerful, creator of everything, kind of god. He even admits that he doesn't know how something will end up for one character...which goes against the 'all-knowingness'. And then, he sides with Lucifer and says "Lucifer is right..." In what alternate timeline/universe did Luce end up in where 'God' would ever say Lucifer was right about anything?

Unfortunately, I cannot say I liked this all. It was okay. I've read much worse. I've read MUCH better. Will I recommend this book? No. I really liked FALLEN. TORMENT was good, a bit annoying, but okay. I'm sure there are some readers who loved this entire series, including this book. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them and won't be finishing the Fallen series.

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