Book Review – Sailor Moon Short Stories 2 by Naoko Takeuchi

Title: Sailor Moon Short Stories 2

Author: Naoko Takeuchi

Format: Paperback

Published: 2004

Translated: 2013

 

For me there has always been something about Sailor Moon, the series captured me and never let go.  I enjoy the characters and loved the Anime and yet despite not giving rave reviews of the manga I can’t help but buy the manga and read it and in some ways love it.  It wasn’t long ago that I was in the store and discovered that there was one more book of short stories for Sailor Moon and I had to place my hands on it.

 

If you are at all familiar with the anime the chief story in this book was the source of the Super S Movie about Luna falling in love with a human and wishing to be Human for a short time to help a man who was dying of a heart condition.  In movie form I found the movie to be a bit odd and different but I think I found the movie to be so odd because I watched at the wrong point during the series.  In manga form the story flowed nicely and was rather an enjoyable read.  Additionally the added short stories were quite good.  The most odd of the stories was the Parallel universe story.  It was interesting seeing all of the girls all grown up with children of their own and knowing that Usagi has a second child. Though this was all interesting I felt that Chibi-Usa was a little off point from what she normally is and the fight in the story was a little weird with Ko-usagi (Usagi’s second daughter) finding a pink cat and saving the planet from a herd of rabbits by taking a whole bunch of cats to make a lynx as they are the natural enemy of rabbits.  It was rather bizarre to be honest but not the worst of the short stories.

 

Over all I found the read to be quite enjoyable and I think I would give this short story book a 4 out of 5 pages.  If you like Sailor Moon then this is a pretty good read and isn’t too difficult to follow as some of the other mangas have been for me in the past.

Book Review – Forgotten Fads and Fabulous Flops

Rhino Presents: Forgotten Fads and Fabulous Flops
Paul Kirchner
Paperback, 1995

 

Rhino Presents: Forgotten Fads and Fabulous Flops: An amazing collection of goofy stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time is a book about, well, stuff that only worked for a minute or two, if it worked at all.

This book is arranged alphabetically, mostly, so if you’re looking for something specific because you remember it and none of your friends do, then you’ve got a pretty good shot of finding it quickly.  But there’s no index, so if you don’t remember exactly what it was called but you do remember chewing a gum that looked like a band-aid, you’re going to have to read through the table of contents and figure out what you meant (It’s OUCH!, by the way.  And it was awesome…)

Here’s the thing.  For every item that you wonder why it didn’t work out (all the candy, for instance, is something I remember having in the 80s and liked, or there was an All in The Family toy that never sold) there is something that makes you just totally confused about what the hell it is you’re looking at.  Want a doll with prosthetic hooks for hands who comes with his own suitcase full of interchangeable prosthetic somethings?  They made that.  Want a pair of underwear that holds a condom in place so it can’t fall off?  There’s a patent for that.

So this book has two halves.  The forgotten fads part will give you a trip down memory lane (for a brief second, remember, since none of this stuff lasted all that long), and the fabulous flops part will make you scratch your head while wondering either what were they thinking or why didn’t that work.  There is a list of celebrity flop restaurants, for instance.   There is a line of perfume that BIC tried that never sold, at least in part, because the bottle made it look like a cigarette lighter, which they also make (hello, safety issue!).  There is even a urinal for women that requires one to totally remove her underwear and straddle the urinal bowl while hiking her skirts up to at least waist level.  (No thank you.)

 

At the end of the day, though, this book might help you win a trivia contest at your local bar, but there’s not a lot of use for it beyond that.  As somebody that keeps pretty much all of my books, I realized about 1/3 of the way through that this would be a book that there would be no point in keeping.

I’ll give it a 3/5 for finding funky stuff that is fantastic, freakish and few (and for their alliterative use of the letter F), but it’s not a book worth keeping around, so get it from the library and read it a few pages at a time between the heavier stuff.

Book Review – The Traveler by Ashley Bourgeois and Kathryn McGowan

Title: The Traveler (Chronicles of the Inner Realm)

Author:  Ashley Bourgeois and Kathryn McGowan

Format: Digital Pdf

Published: 2013

 

When thinking of how to start this book I want to start with the words run away and never look onto this book again!  It was not what I was expecting in the least and not something I would recommend to anyone!  To start off let me just say that what I was expecting and what I got are two different things.  Based on the book blurb I was expecting a YA novel, as it is all about a girl who is a senior in high school and found a magic book that takes her to a magic world.  This is most certainly NOT a YA book.  Truth be told this is a NSFW (not safe for work) book.  I unfortunately did not know this and had the book with me at work.  Fortunately it was on my tablet rather than on my computer and was not easy for some random person to pick it up.  Sill all the same, the book was horrifying and I only made it just short half way through before I had to simply just put it down and not read any more.  This is not what I signed up for.  I don’t care to read smut and I additionally don’t care to read pointless and overtly wrong smut – more on that later.

 

First I would like to talk about formatting.  When I agree to take a copy of the book to read I was honest and stated that my preferred medium of reading is a hard copy rather than a digital copy. I was requested to take a digital copy instead and I obliged.  The author the precede to send me a pdf file.  I didn’t think much of it till I went to finally read the book and realized that it isn’t simply a pdf file it is a proof copy!  I was shocked and dismayed to say the least.  Really you send a proof copy for a review?  Still, I decided to be nice as I did get massively behind in my reading list and opened the file to find the formatting to be horrific at best.  I am no stranger to kindle as I’ve used it for a few other books I’ve read and this was not a Kindle friendly format.  It had the proofing instructions attached and everything was set up in the format of a double page so I had two pages of the book for every one page in my Kindle.  I had to zoom every time I turned the ‘page’ and then shift the ‘page’ around to get the fully text before I move the screen to the next page and had to repeat.  Additionally my place could not be marked in my kindle and I could not pull the book up by directly opening the kindle I had to ‘download’ it again from my e-mail to open it in Kindle.  I tried to read the story in Adobe.  It gave me the documents as 2 book pages for very page and it was linear document so I had to zoom in once then shift from one side to the other then down and over to repeat this over and over to read the book.  Why did I put up with this painful formatting, because the book started out semi-decent.

 

Upon starting the book, I found myself admittedly slightly captured by the writing and the story but at the same time I knew that the writing really wasn’t that good, as there were text and typographical errors as proofs are wonton to do but at the same time the writing really wasn’t all that great but I kept reading and not wanting to stop.  Finally I concluded that the caliber of the book was that of a well written fanfiction something that has a smattering of errors but is accepted and it really not that great of writing and yet you read it anyway because it is like a potato chip enjoyable hard to stop but terrible for you.  I expected the book to be that way though out particularly when the side story characters of the magical world all have animal nicknames such as Bird, Dragon and Snake, and there are several modernisms in a medieval esque fantasy setting.  Yet that was not my luck as these problems were the least of my worries.

 

The book starts off with character introductions such as Aislin who is a shy recently turned eighteen senior in high school and her new school teacher librarian Alexander Bookman who is a little more than what he seems.  (I had issues with Alex from the start but we won’t get into that here).  Anyway, Aislin lost her mother not too terribly long ago and is living with her step father with whom there is no love lost between them. It is during these character introductions that Aislin finds the mysterious book that leads her to a world of magic and gets stuck there only to be ‘rescued’ by her teacher.  At this point despite several problems and idiosyncrasies, I was finding the book enticing an enjoying it like one enjoys a few too many potato chips (with a wee bit of guilt) all of that came grinding to a halt.  Upon trying to ‘rescue’ Aislin, Alex learns that she refuses to leave and won’t do as he wishes  As a result Alex decides that Aislin is behaving as a child and thus needs to be punished as one, he therefore proceeds to toss the girl over his lap and lift up her skirts to spank her bare bottom!  Yes, completely bare naked bottom.  WHAT THE HELL!?

 

It was at this point that I should have just stopped reading the book, I almost did but it was late at night my judgment a bit impaired and I knew I had promised a review.  I figured that I could get past this and try to read more.  So I did despite being mentally scared by the insanity of the afore mentioned scene.  I continued on and things continued to go downhill.  Aislin still smarting over what her – let me remind you – school teacher, librarian did to her she decides to try and get revenge on him.  In the process on getting some sort of revenge she is caught by him and they argue before she gets a call from her step father who was now kicking her out of the house.

 

With her world crashing down around her, Alex decides to be a gentleman and allow Aislin to move into his spare room considering that she is of age and not really a child after all.  The whole fact that Aislin is 18 makes everything alright as there is nothing wrong with a young girl and student to move into his home with him, a teacher at her school.  Seriously?  There is EVERYTHING wrong with this!!  Worse yet she decides to trust him, it is even mentioned in the book how despite the fact that he humiliated her and spanked, she just had a feeling she could trust him and accepts his offer.

 

This is where sexual tension starts to build up as Alex realizes oh, not only is Aislin of age, she is a woman, a very pretty and very distracting one at that too, and Aislin is starting to notice that he has very nice and muscular arms.  Toss in a gratuitous scene of Aislin’s black lacy underware falling out a box and the awkwardness and sexual tension is so think you can cut it with a knife.   Things move on and the two characters make fast friends and Aislin decides that Alex is gay because he makes the remark that he likes a lot of mean.  (This was in the context of his ordering a pizza).  Aislin takes this to mean that Alex is gay.  She further concludes this fact because he’s ‘awkward’ around her, nice, and really cute as all gay men are.  Wait am I missing something here?

 

After a few additional scenes where Aislin is caught by Alex in just her underwear (all for stupid reasons that make no sense what so ever) Aislin concludes that she needs to be best friends with Alex and they start to play fight which leads to exposed satin red underwear and Alex unthinkingly tossing Aislin on his bed where she makes a remark about him being gay and while he’s turned on he offers to show her just how not gay he is for him to realize what he is doing is wrong and stops short of a kiss.  Up to this point I am struggling through things because of everything above but I figure I can make it it’s not as bad as some of the other books I’ve read – that was until, in anger Aislin storms off to her room and decides to pleasure herself seeing as Alex won’t do the job for her and she makes sure that she is loud as a form of getting back at him!

 

This is NOT what I signed up for this is not the kind of story I enjoy reading.  I am not a fan of smut, particularly pointless smut!  It was at this point I decided that I was done reading, as I could not take any more. I wish I could give this book a less than 1 page review because this was terrible and not something I would recommend to anyone, particularly after reading some of the other reviews to know things get worse from where I left off.

 

Writer Wednesday – Bobby Nash

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…
My name is Bobby Nash. I am a writer. I write novels, comic books, short stories, and screenplays. It’s the coolest job.

Here’s my official bio…
About Bobby Nash:
From his secret lair in the wilds of Bethlehem, Georgia, 2013 Pulp Ark Award Winning Best Author, Bobby Nash writes a little bit of everything including novels, comic books, short prose, graphic novels, screenplays, media tie-ins, and more.
Between writing deadlines, Bobby is an actor and extra in movies and television, including appearances in Deviant Pictures’ Fat Chance, FOX’s The Following, USA’s Neil, Inc. and more. He is also the co-host of the Earth Station One podcast (www.esopodcast.com) and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.
Bobby was named Best Author in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards, his first professional writing award. Rick Ruby, a character co-created by Bobby and author Sean Taylor also snagged a Pulp Ark Award for Best New Pulp Character of 2013.
For more information on Bobby Nash please visit him at http://www.bobbynash.com, http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBobbyNash, and http://www.twitter.com/bobbynash, among other places across the web.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I’ve been a published author since 1992, but I didn’t really start producing regularly published material until around 2005. In that time I’ve worked on some pretty cool projects for a few different publishers. You can get the full list of my work at http://www.bobbynash.com, but here are a few of the highlights:

Novels: Evil Ways, Deadly Games!, Earthstrike Agenda, Fantastix
Comic Books: Fuzzy Bunnies From Hell, Demonslayer, Domino Lady vs. The Mummy, Lance Star: Sky Ranger “One Shot”
Short Prose/novellas: A Fistful of Legends, Tales of The Rook, Zombies vs. Robots, The Ruby Files, Lance Star: Sky Ranger, Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars, Domino Lady, Secret Agent X, The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible, The Spider: Extreme Prejudice
Graphic Novels: Yin Yang, I Am Googol: The Great Invasion
Screenplays: Zenoids: “Animal Crackers”, Starship Farragut: “Conspiracy of Innocence”
Media Tie-In: Green Hornet Case Files, Green Hornet Still at Large, Nightbeat

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m always juggling multiple projects at one time.

At the moment, I am working on the first (of many, I hope) Ghost Gal novel for Raven’s Head Press. I’m doing production work on the Operation: Silver Moon graphic novel I wrote so it can go to press this month. I’m also working on a Honey West/Domino Lady novel for Moonstone Books. I also have a screenplay in the works I’m co-writing with a writer friend of mine on, and doing rewites on a short film I wrote that goes before the camera in May. There are other odds and ends that make up my day as well. I co-host the Earth Station One podcast, keep my websites up to date, social media, things like that. There never seems to be a shortage of things to do, which is nice.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I remember reading and enjoying the Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid. I checked them out from the school library. They were great. The first novel I recall owning was Han Solo’s Revenge. My Mom ordered books from a catalog and I was a big Star Wars fan. I saw it in her ordering form and she bought it for me. I still have it.

What are your three favorite books?
This is a tough one to answer because the answer is always changing. The first three that come to mind today are Airframe by Michael Crichton, Whipping Boy by John Byrne, and DC’s The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. I’ve read them multiple times.

How many books to do you read at any given time?
It varies. Sometimes it’s one at a time, sometimes three. It depends on my mood.

What are you reading now?
Right now I’m bouncing between three novels. So Close The Hand of Death by J.T. Ellison, Honey West: This Girl For Hire by G.G. Fickling, and I just started Star Trek: The Fall: A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Lose all track of time.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I have re-read a few novels over the years, but only a small number. There’s always something in my to read pile I’ve not read yet.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely, especially when people who share the same interests as I do recommend a book. I’ve discovered many fantastic readers because someone said, “you have to read this.”

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I love to recommend a good read to others, even if it’s not one I wrote. [laughs]

What do you look for in a good book?
I like to be entertained. Tell me a good story and I’m excited. Make me fall in love (or hate) with your characters and I’ll come back for more. What I don’t like is to be bored.

Why do you write?
It’s the only way to get the stories out of my head. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true because the ideas never stop coming. There are more story ideas rattling around in my brain than I can write. I will never have the chance to get to all of them. I love telling and crafting stories and creating characters. It’s fun.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I’d probably be sitting in an office doing something uninteresting.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Ideas come from anywhere. I wish I had a better answer, but the ideas and inspiration come from all around. I will say that deadlines are great motivators.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
Writing has taught me that I can persevere and accomplish things with a lot of hard work and dedication. When I first started down this path, it was tough. There were (and still are) many rejections and criticisms. As a writer you are advised to “have a thick skin” but sometimes that is easier said than done. It would have been so easy to give up way back when. Thankfully, I didn’t give up and stuck with it and today I’m being contacted by publishers asking me if I would like to work for them. That’s pretty amazing. I wish younger me could have seen me now.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
It’s weird, but the one I find most often is meeting people who assume I’m rich because of the number of books I’ve worked on. Sadly, published author does not automatically equal wealthy author. I wish it did. I think my life would be a little simpler if that were the case, but it’s not. Far from it, in fact. I’m still chasing that brass ring.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
There are a lot. We’re not all rich. We’re not always drunk or high. That sort of thing. Also, the police never ask me to help them solve crimes.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Right now, it has never been easier to get your work in print. The downside of the that is that it takes a lot more to make your book(s) stand out against the millions of other titles out there. I don’t have the answer for how to rise to the top because, if I did, my books would be selling better than they are [laughs]. There is more to being a writer than writing. You have to market your book(s) and yourself. You have to get out there and meet readers, talk to people, sell it. It takes a lot of work, a lot of time. Writing the novel is only part of the job.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Oh, sure. Poor writing style or clumsy turns of phrase. There is always something I look back on and realize that I can do it better or differently now. That’s not to say it was wrong the first time (although, sometimes…) but as I learn new techniques and develop new skills, how I approach certain things is different. I learn from those mistakes.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
There are so many dream projects. I do enjoy writing media tie-ins and I’ve had fun with the few I’ve been fortunate enough to write for, but there are a few out there I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at eventually. Stargate SG-1 or Stargate: Atlantis would be fun. I pitched a novel to the publisher that holds the license, but never heard back. It would have been fun, I think. I love Star Trek and Star Wars, but I’m not sure I’m the right writer for novels based on those properties. On the comic book side of things, an opportunity to write The Fantastic Four would be incredible. I love those characters. There are more, of course, but those are currently at the top of my list.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I feel fortunate to have a fan base that interacts with me. I answer every email, question, and comment sent to me or left on my website or at conventions. I attend as many conventions/signings/conferences as I can afford to get out and meet readers and creators face to face. I love meeting fans and potential fans of my books.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
Secrets. I’m pretty much an open book. Sometimes I think I share too much. [laughs]

Anything else we should know?
I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to check out one of my books, leave a review, or just say hi. I love what I do and hope to continue doing it. Please feel free to visit me at http://www.bobbynash.com or on social media.

Book Review – I Do

Jessica Simspon I Do: Planning your dream wedding
Hardcover, 2003

I feel a very very strong urge to preface this review with the following comment/statement.
I have, near me, the most incredible used bookstore, where prices start at a just five cents for a book and the ones they can’t take for whatever reason end up in a free bin outside, where people can take what they can carry.  Last time I was there, I made two trips and my mother has been devouring the stack of fiction I got for her.  (This is where the Fancy Nancy book came from that I reviewed last week.)  And this one was in it.

I’m one of those gals that subscribes to Modern Bride from time to time just because.  So when I saw this, I grabbed it, fully expecting it to be silly and to return it the next time I went.

From the back cover:

On a rainy Texas day, Jessica Simpson married her longtime love, singer Nick Lachey in a wedding that was, in every way, a dream brought to life.  With exquisite photography and Jessica’s own personal stories and insight, I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding invites you to share in her incredible experience.

For the bride-to-be who is planning her own wedding, I Do is filled with expert advice from the same professionals who helped Jessica prepare for her lavish nuptials every step of the way.  No matter your budget,  you can learn the tips and tricks that make any wedding an unforgettable event, from some experts as: <list>.

Okay.

First of all, the book is designed to look like Jessica is either the author or her name is in the title, and according to that paragraph, her name isn’t in the title and according to the title page, her mother conceptualized it and then got somebody to write it.  And I read the title page, which implies that like one person wrote it, but there are a dozen people listed on the back cover who contributed in a somewhat important way, so me not putting an author up there in the header isn’t an accidental omission since there is technically no author listed on the cover and I chose not to. I could have listed her photographer as the photographer for the book, like they sort of did on the title page, but really… if you bought a book that had used a photo from somebody that he didn’t make for that book, they wouldn’t do that, so the fact that this book did…

Next, the back cover suggests that this is a combination “ooh, look at Jessica” and how-to wedding planning book.  Except then I looked through it.  And it’s really a five thousand photo ode to Jessica – Nick himself is barely in the photos and not at all on the cover.  The articles written by experts that they brag about?  Fluff.  “It was so awesome to work with Jessica.  She was incredible and everything she wanted she got.  So if you can’t afford what she did, try this…”

Really, it’s a book without a proper purpose.  From reading the back cover, I expected a gallery of her wedding and tips and tricks to do your own (that were decent and usable).  What I got was a bunch of photos that don’t even look that great (there’s an exceptionally creepy black and white one of her and her father where you can’t even see their faces because they’re in total shadow and has been manipulated to be blurry… dafuq?!) and none of the traditional ones.  In fact, about a quarter of the photos in this book are of the celebrity experts that helped by getting paid for doing something.  (For instance, a full page shot of Vera Wang since she made the dress.)

Yes, the tips are supposed to be helpful, but they’re sort of common sense/internet tips and you don’t need this book for those.  “Consider venue choices when picking your date.  An event at a local university affected Nick and Jessica’s plans early on and they couldn’t use that site…”  Um.  Duh?  Of course, I’m from the camp that would pick a wedding date that had significance, so I guess I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t rent something at a certain site.  But still.  We didn’t need a book to know that.

Based mostly on the fact that the layout person did a beautiful job, I’ll give this book two very wilted roses out of five.  It’s really a book about Jessica first and Jessica’s wedding second.  If you’re into her, you might want the book, but it is useless as a how-to.

Book Review – Batman: Battle for the Cowl by Tony S. Daniel

Title:  Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Author:  Tony S. Daniel

Published: 2009

Format: Paperback

 

I will admit that I am reading this particular story arch rather backwards.  I started with Red Robin (which has become my obsession) who was searching for Batman because he didn’t believe he had died.  I have now branched out to read the store of the after math following Batman’s death that precursors Tim’s search for the Dark Knight.

In this story the “bat family” have enlisted and called upon the help of other super heroes to help keep Gotham in lines as it had turned to turmoil since the disappearance of Batman.  As the city and the super heroes try to recoup things continue to spiral downward through the void left by the lack of Batman.  These problems strongly indicate that there is a need for a new man to step up and take the mantle of Batman and stand for what he stood for.

Yet in this story the question remains as who?  The logical response would be for Nightwing aka Dick Grayson the first Robin to take the mantle but he is hesitant and while he hesitates, Tim Drake steps up to don the cowl as there is a need and there is another deranged being who has tried to take on the mantle of Batman but with a rather loose interpretation of Batman’s morals such as killing criminals rather than arresting them and using guns.  The question then sits who is this new poser as Batman, can the super heroes stop this man and keep Gotham in one piece as a gang war breaks out among many other near disastrous moments?

I admit that as I was reading this comic I was constantly turning from one page to the next to the next review pages over and over again taking in the great artwork and the meaning of what was going on.  This was a powerful story that I know I will probably read again.  My biggest complaint and is that there were characters in this story that I am less familiar with such as Squire.  I think it is cool that other super heroes came to help and I love the idea but my knowledge is limited to the world of batman.  There wasn’t major history that I needed and though I may not know anything about Squire I could still follow along with story and it really wasn’t a big problem.

Over all I would give this story a 4 out of 5.

 

BONUS

 

Title: Gotham Gazette

Author: Fabian Nicieza

Published: 2009

Format:  Paperback

 

At the end of Battle for the cowl was a bonus story called Gotham Gazette.  When I hit this particular story I was given pause as the art style and storytelling changed.  Additionally there was a strong focus on several tertiary characters to the Gotham and Batman story so I have very little reference point to work from which made the story rather confusing to me.  I read it any way as a lot of it was some of the after math to what happened in Battle for the Cowl.

 

This story was a lot more difficult to get through save for at the end when the characters I know such as Tim and Dick made an appearance it helped set up a bit for the Red Robin series.  Additionally toward the end the story was also leading to someone figuring out the Bat secret and that to me is an interesting story arch but it didn’t delve far into it leaving me almost hanging.  The story ended well and I understand it ending but it was disappointing for me to get interested in a plot that ends a bit prematurely and is carried on a bit in a different story.

 

Over all, I think I would give this bonus content a low three out of five pages.  It wasn’t bad enough for a two though I found the art style to be a bit odd and drab and the story to be a bit flat but it wasn’t terrible and it did give me some entertainment and helped to set up for the future stories that I have already read.

Book Review – Kurt, Gert, Jazmine, and Bagel

Kurt, Gert, Jazmine, and Bagel
Irene Dolnick
Paperback, 2014
illustrations by Richa Kinra

 

So, those of us get a lot of books at Book in the Bag to review.  We’ve asked for them, but we don’t just go all out willy nilly.  We always have some reason that we want a particular book.

In this case, it was a children’s book and it sounded interesting and cute.  On Black Friday (for those of you outside the USA, that’s the biggest shopping day of the year – the day after our Thanksgiving holiday), I stopped to get my mail and came up with this gem, which I read out loud in the car as Mom and I drove around.  [Additional side note:  please remember, here at BitB, we only have to *write* the review in a timely manner, it doesn’t have to post live right away.  Just sayin’.]

Because this book came to me for review, it also came to me with a press release.  I don’t, as a matter of course, read those before the book.  But I will get to that in a couple minutes.

The book is about a beagle dog named Jazmine, and is told third person.  I’m guessing it’s a phonics type of a book because all throughout the text parts of words were underlined or turned red.  Seriously.  Now, keep in mind that I was reading this thing out loud – the red/underline thing made the book incredibly hard to read.  I’ve read books upside down that were easier.

Now, based on the text I was given, and my mother agrees, the book had a potential premise, but it never got there and a few weird things happened in the meantime.  Jazmine starts out jealous that her not-homeless friends Gert and Kurt are inside nice and warm and then she meets another homeless dog – Bagel the beagle – and they go for food and to plan and adventure.  Then jealousy and worry take over and the book ends with… a phone call?  What?

So I went back and I read the press release.  (See, I told you we’d get back to that.)  Apparently the story is about Jazmine being jealous of her friends in their warm, cozy house, and it’s a story of friendship and adventure.    If you go by the press release, the book actually sounds pretty cute, and I’m guessing this is why I picked this book to begin with.

And I can see places where the story got near that premise, but there were several things that just didn’t get there.  Jumps in logic and a few places where there needed to be pages added to the story.

The grammar also had a LOT of issues – each page was one ugly blob of text, no matter if multiple characters were talking or not.  Also, every sentence of dialogue was surrounded by its own quotes, even if it was multiple consecutive sentences said by the same character.  Another thing is that the adverbs ran amok and the dialog tags (a pet peeve of mine) were obnoxious.  The author went so far as to tell us that one character was saying something to the other character, even though most of the book consisted of only Jazmine and Bagel talking to each other.

Also, there were a few weird words that I’m pretty sure were only used because of how they sounded.  For instance, Kurt tells Jazmine that “there is a gaff in your thinking” at one point.  Mom was annoyed because of the spelling of gaff, but also because the word is hardly used and really has no place in a kids book, because no kid is going to know it (and half their parents won’t either).

With that said, the artwork was really nice. Mom and I both liked it, although Bagel looked a little more like a kangaroo and less like a dog a couple places.  But the colors were nice and it had a watercolor feel.  So kudos to the artist.

But the author.  I don’t even know what to say about this book.  I mean, it feels like a rough draft was bound and presented.  Also, the $25.95 cover price for a forty page paperback is ridiculous.  It’s also available as an eBook, but I can’t imagine that this book looks any different in eBook form than it does in paperback, although the font color won’t be different and that might be a plus.

While I’m at it, nowhere did I see anything that told me this was a advance copy, but the copyright is for 2014 – remember, I got the book in November of 2013, and the press release says it was published in October – so I’m hoping that’s the case.  And because of that, I’m not going to give it a number rating.  Let’s hope the author comes out with a second edition.   This book needs an edit – and a grammar coach.

 

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