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.

View all my reviews

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.