Books Review – The Bride’s Little Book of…

Title: The Bride’s Little Book of Cakes and Toasts
Title: The Bride’s Little Book of Customs and Keepsakes
Presented By: Brides Magazine
Format: Hardback
Published: 1993-1994

This review is a two-fer.  I was looking for better wedding books at the library and came across The Bride’s Little Book of… series in the online directory, so I placed holds on both of them.  When they got to me, I realized they were much more little than I expected, but I checked them out anyway, hoping they’d be even a little bit useful for a minute.

oh lordt.

So, for starters, I’m going to recognize the fact that the books are almost 25 years old, which is an eternity in something like weddings, which change stylistically all the time.  But the type of information I wanted from these were things I thought could transcend that, so I opened the book.

They’re both short-short.  Like 40-ish pages each.  And they’re both small.  Like four or five inches, and barely thick at all.  And since they brag about having “Over 30 images of…”, there’s an understandably small amount of space left to hold any actual information.    Y’all, it’s all so dated-traditional that I don’t think this stuff was useful at the time.  Seriously, I don’t think anything in this book was cutting age when the thing rolled off the press.

I had expected information like who should do toasts, what to expect from them, etc…  What I got was one page of quotations that were so overused that they were beyond clichee.  (May the road rise up to meet you…)  Come on.  We can do better than that.

These books *did* have a bit of cool historical information.  Like the origins of ___.  Which was neat, but not what I was going to these books for.

Which brings me to the saddest ratings ever.  These could have been those tiny gift books we find today boxed with weird trinkets.  (Customs and Keepsakes, complete with blue ribbon and old penny!)  But they weren’t.  They were just sad.

If you come across them at a yard sale, give somebody a nickel for them and then throw them in the trash to better weddings everywhere.  I hope these were better when they were originally published, but they absolutely fail the test of time.  I’ll give them a very overly optimistic 2/5 for the historical tidbits and nothing else.

 

 

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Book Review: The Grownup

Title: The Grownup
Author: Gillian Flynn
Format: Hardcover
Published: 2014

“On a whim/because of a feeling” is probably not a good method of picking every book I ever read, but it’s the method I used with this one.  There is something about the cover art that just drew me in, and I couldn’t help it.  “Story by the author of Gone Girl” led me to believe it had some potential because Gone Girl was widely successful.  So I paid $1.50 for this at my local used bookstore because it looked brand new and I was drawn to it.

Also, it’s quite short, which I liked, because I’ve not been able to finish books lately.

Anyway.  So the book starts out with our main character describing her day job – she gives hand jobs to guys.  23,000 plus over the past three years, by her estimates.  But carpal tunnel set in and she moved up in her company, to clairvoyant, and now instead of jacking off guys for their hard earned money, she took a more figurative approach with the women folk.

She met a woman named Susan.  A disgruntled mother with a busy husband, a son of her own, and a crazy step-son that needed stopped.  Oh, and the house.  The house was angry, and could she fix Susan’s life?

Eventually our MC decided to swindle her out of a few grand by sprinkling sage and lavender around the house, washing a wall or two, and then calling everything fixed.  The husband was gone so much he may as well have been MIA.  The son was a sweet seven year old with a lock on his door because the step-brother was a bit of a handful.  And the step brother was a teenage with a devious streak that everyone was afraid of.

Part way into the con, there’s a twist that I’m not going to share with you because holy shit.  I didn’t see that coming and all and when it hit, I stopped reading for a minute to take in it’s glory.  Next came a twist on the twist that left you confused as to what was right and what was wrong.

Y’all, I’ll write you a story, but I am not this smart.

No wonder Gone Girl was so well received and no wonder this story originally released in an anthology with an amazing cast of authors along side it.

I’m being vague on purpose because I don’t want to spoil it.

So the story is fabulous.  The first few pages were so funny that I was laughing out loud in the middle of McDonalds.  And there are some fabulous one liners like “Books may be temporary, dicks are forever” that are delivered so matter of factly that you just can’t stop reading.   (Oh, and for those who are worried, it’s a clean book.  They don’t describe any of the handjobs at all…)

When I finished the book, I smiled.  It was perfect.  I just want to caress this book’s cover all night and tell it I love it.  And when I flipped the last page and saw who the acknowledgement was for, I was giddy with delight.  I’m so glad I was surprised by that at the end.

So definitely 5/5 pages for this.  Read it.  Love it.  Share it with your friends.

Book Review – The Nixie’s Song

Title: Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles.  Book 1 The Nixie’s Song
Authors/Illustrators: Holly Black, Tony DiTerlizzi
Format: Hardback
Published: 2007

 

So I feel that I need to start this with a preface that I know absolutely nothing about the series.  I saw this book when I was walking down a row in the library and grabbed it in a hurry because I recalled that the series was popular and I wanted to see what the hype was.  It wasn’t until after I got the book home that I realized that it was a second series about the same thing (sort of?  Apparently?)  So I don’t know if you needed to read the other series first, but it said it was book one so I dove in.

In this series, Nick’s dad is a developer on a project in Florida so he moves his sons down there, along with their new stepmother and stepsister Laurie.  Laurie is obsessed with a book and she’s determined that it’s real and the odd creatures she’s reading all about are really just outside her window, only she can only hear them and not see them.  Nick, bored and in need of something to do, begrudgingly humors her on a walk and realizes that she may be able to hear the creatures, but he actually has the sight.

The two end up with a Nixie on a quest.  Her sisters are missing and she’s got to find them.  They agree to help.

 

So, for a children’s chapter book, the thing isn’t bad.  It’s written well enough that I didn’t mind that I was 25 years beyond the target age group (at least) and it was cute enough that I see no issue with a kid picking it up.  

The Nixie is really an unhappy camper when she finds out that two of her sisters are dead, but the group soldier on to find the others and instead find a giant.  

Which appears to everyone around them as just a mound of mud.  They’re trying to get people to leave the thing alone while they try to kill it, and everyone else wants to move what they think is a dirt pile to somewhere a little more slightly.

Oh, and along the way the group picks up a few more people.  For starters, Laurie’s book is supposedly written by information from Jared and Simon Grace, so they track the twins down for help.  They also find a guy named Noseeum Jack – or more accurately, Jack finds them – who gives them a lot of information that they will need as they continue on.

Just as the book got interesting, the chapter was over and with it went the book.  Dang it.

 

So my review.  Again, I’m a bit *ahem* beyond its target age group, but I found that I didn’t care.  The story was pretty quick and I blamed most of that on the genre.  I hadn’t intended on reading more of the series, but the action stopped mid way through the friggin end of the book.  Like, a creature was on the move and then BOOM and we’re expected to pick up the next one to see where it goes.  

I hate that.  It’s like the worst thing ever.  I mean, I’ll have to read another book or something.  (Ha!  I’ve already asked for it from the library.)   

 

Bottom line, it was decent enough.  I think that a kid in the right age group would really like this, and I’m guessing that whatever happened in the main series connects to the book that Laurie carries everywhere with her (she even says she does) and people who haven’t read the other could read this.  I know I followed it around just fine.   I think this would be a great book for “what do I give to a eight-year-old interested in fantasy…? “ and because of that I’ll give it a 4/5 page rating.

Writer Wednesday – Nathan Day

Tell us who you are and a little bit about what you write:
I’m an introvert trying hard to convince everyone I’m an extrovert. I’m a geek – to me a “geek” is someone who loves nerdy things, but a “nerd” fully understands and can explain those things – who enjoys stories via any medium (film, song, gaming, theatre). I’m a Kentucky native, Tennessee transplant who moonlights as an author, actor, director, singer/songwriter. I try to write stories that feature rounded, realistic characters, even if they have been thrust into extraordinary circumstances or are extraordinary themselves in some way. An example of this is my current Orphan Saga which places regular and extraordinary people in the crossfire of the eternal war between Heaven and Hell.

What is something your fans would be surprised to know about you?
I think my fans would be surprised to know that once upon a time I wrote and performed R&B as part of a “boy band” called Innocence and was lucky enough to sing as part of a choir on the Backstreet Boys’ recording breaking sophomore album, “Millennium” on the final track, “The Perfect Fan” (Don’t believe me? Read the credits in the album jacket, I dare ya.)

What made you become a writer?
While I can’t remember any one thing or circumstance that made me “become a writer” I do remember laying in the living room floor as young as 6, banging away on my mother’s old typewriter, absolutely using up every piece of blank paper and ribbon in the house. It’s just always been a love of mine. Fantastic places and characters, the escapism, the whole shebang. Who doesn’t want to close their eyes and imagine they’re riding on the back of a dragon, wielding a sword of pure flame, saving the world from an overpowered entity the size of a mountain?

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I feel like I’m a plotter who likes to get a bit “pantsy”. While I spend lots of time, as many do, creating outlines, I find a lot of my ideas come to me in the middle of the actual writing. Most of the time this is an effect of how I feel the characters would react versus how I originally wanted the story to play out. Many of my initial plot ideas fall victim to this, but I hope it makes for a better, more digestible flow in the end.

What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned not to make while writing?
The biggest mistake I feel that I am learning (as opposed to have fully learned), is to KISS (keep it simple, stupid). My initial run throughs are often unnecessarily wordy, especially when I first began to novelize Orphan: Surfacing, which was originally meant to be a graphic novel. I wanted my prose to really stand out, to have an intelligent, poetic air…but in the end a lot of what I, at first, thought was brilliant, just came across as pompous or overcomplicated and confusing. I hope my style improves with each new work.

What is the last book you finished reading?  What did you think?
I’m the Worst Person in the World (yes, I claim the title) for starting a book, and then starting another, and another, and…see where this is going? It’s not that these books don’t captivate me, it’s that I’m such a story glutton that I cannot wait to sample the next course, especially when it comes to indie and small press authors. I’m currently reading
Hidden by Serina Hartwell, a YA offering that feels both new and classic, real and fairytale, as well as Without A Conscious…by James William Peercy, a slick real-world thriller and finishing Sara Dobie Bauer’s hilarious and exceptionally well written Bite Somebody. I’ve also just picked up Michael David Anderson’s Teddy. As a big Stephen King fan, I’m very excited to see what title character Teddy Dormer’s story has to offer.

Would you like to pimp a specific project?
There are soooo many projects I would like to pimp: Stephen Zimmer’s
Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot and the Rayden Valkyrie novels from which it spawned (all available on Amazon); The Devil’s A Lie novella I’m currently working on which is an adaptation of a noire screenplay by award winning director Thomas Moore; Thomas Moore’s first feature film, Covet, an “inspired by true events” thriller; anything by author Michael David Anderson as many of his books are connected by means which I cannot divulge; my own Orphan novel series beginning with Orphan: Surfacing (available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com); and lastly author Robb Hoff’s Cosmic Egg Rapture (available on Amazon). Stephen, Thomas, Michael and Robb have been incredibly supportive and inspiring to me in many ways, so the least I can do is help spread the good word about their exceptional bodies of work.

Is there a URL or social media account you’d like to share?
While admittedly I need to strengthen my social media presence, I can be found and followed on Facebook (
www.facebook.com/orphansurfacing ) and on Instagram ( @akagenre ). I can also be found on Goodreads.

 

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…on deep characters…

While I’ve already spoken of this point to a small degree, I want to emphasis what I feel is the importance of writing deep characters. Not all characters need to have massive depth, but I feel there should be enough dimension within them that the reader can begin to make base assumptions about their lives outside of your story arc. Little quirks, mannerisms and seemingly irrelevant beliefs or pasts, can bring a surprising connection between reader and printed word. The more fleshed out the inhabitants of your literary world, the more fleshed out the world. Look around you, everyone has their idiosyncrasy. What are the things you fail to notice on a regular basis that makes these people unique? What ticks do you have? Also, listen to your characters. Although many people react in unexpected ways in extreme circumstances, most of the time you can feel when you are having to shoehorn your character’s actions into fitting your narrative. If something he, she or it does feels unnatural as you write, it will feel unnatural as your fans read. Don’t break the immersion! Let’s be clear: I’m no expert. I’ve less experience in the field than your favorite authors and no education worth bragging about, but I can speak as a reader as to what works and doesn’t work for me. Art, advice, taste is all subjective, so take mine with two shakes of salt. I just suggest thinking of yourself as a reader first and writer second. Take a look through the window before you buy the house.

Writer Wednesday – Bob Freeman

1. Tell us who you are and a little bit about what you write.

My name’s Bob Freeman and I write occult detective fiction. It’s a genre I’ve been enamored with since childhood. The early seventies had sparked an occult revival of sorts. Real life witches were showing up on talk shows, movies like The Exorcist were dominating the box office, Marvel Comics was publishing Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf By Night, and The Son of Satan (to name a few), and on the small screen you had things like The Norliss Tapes and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Coupled with my early reading of Dennis Wheatley’s Duc de Richleau novels, it’s little wonder that my adult predilections have led down a similar path.

2. What is something that your fans would be surprised to know about you?

That’s a rough one because I’m something of an open book. One thing that may have slipped under the radar is my love of musicals. My favorite is the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar which, in and of itself, is probably a big shock to people who are quite familiar with my body of work and religious proclivities.

3. What made you become a writer?

I think most writers are shaped to become storytellers from an early age and I’m no different. I always loved a good ghost story, and growing up pretty isolated in rural Indiana, I spent a lot of time reading and letting my imagination run wild.

4. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser, all the way. If I know where a story is going, I lose interest right away. I enjoy the uncertainty and discovery that creating stories entails.

5. What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned not to make while writing?

Not finishing what you’ve started. I’m an author who really needs to keep that fire lit. I am…easily distracted. Buckling down and seeing a project through to the end is the best advice I could pass along.

6. What is the last book you finished reading? What did you think?

I just finished Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot which offers a great new take on interpretations for those with an interest in cartomancy.

7. Would you like to pimp a specific project?

My latest collection is First Born, the first book in my Liber Monstrorum series. The book collects several stories connected to that mythos and particularly concerns my occult detective, Dr. Landon Connors.

8. Is there a URL or social media account you’d like to share?

My website/blog is http://occultdetective.com. The best place to connect with me online is through my twitter account: http://twitter.com/occultdetective

 

…On Life and Writing…

Life is not fair, nor just, nor even-handed. Bad things happen to good people and vice versa, not because of karmic debt, but because life happens. It is unpredictable. It is sometimes cruel and unforgiving, but this is the canvas upon which we work, where our seed has been planted, where our sword is sharpened.

I know it can feel overwhelming sometimes, but it’s not. It’s just life. It breathes in. It breathes out.

For all the heartache, all the loss, there is still beauty to be found in the wreckage and words to be written in blood.

I talk a lot about the negative side of writing, the work part… you know, the struggle. I’d like to take a moment to comment on how freaking thankful I am to be blessed with the storytelling gene.

Writing is ecstatic intoxication. It is surreal and wonderful and fulfilling in every way imaginable (except financially, but that’s for another blog). Brutal? Unforgiving? Yes, it is all that too, and more, but truthfully, there’s an almost indescribable elation that comes from stringing words together, from building worlds and giving life to characters, from sitting before a blank page and then filling it with nothing but your imagination.

I just felt like I needed to say that.

For all the misery and heartbreak and soul sucking excrement you have to put up with, it’s all worth it.

Words are everything. Especially when they’re yours.

Book Review – Lucifer’s Fall

Book Title: Lucifer’s Fall (Celestial Downfall, Vol 0)
Author: AJ Flowers
Format: Kindle
Published: 2017

 

So, this is a short story that goes along with the Celestial Downfall (I think) series by AJ Flowers.  I have never read the series, but the book popped up in an email about free ebooks and I saw it was a short story, so I decided to give it a go and jumped in blindly.

The story starts with an angel speaking.  “Another malformed embryo.”  Angels, apparently, hatch from eggs.  These angels are tasked with checking the eggs for imperfections.

This is a short story.  Really short.  So I don’t want to go any more into the story because I don’t want to give it away.  But I loved this.  It showed Lucifer in a light that we don’t normally see him.

And I want to read the whole series, which is the point of short tie in stories.

I will say this.  The short is really short, and 75% of the e-download is actually chapter one for one of her other books, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much money it’s worth.  I got it free and it was worth reading it.

A solid 4/5.

Book Review – The World of Post Secret

TITLE: The World Of Post Secret
AUTHOR: Frank Warren
Format: Hardcover
PUBLISHED: 2017

 

The World Of Post Secret is the newest PS book and it breaks a five year draught where all we had was weekly secrets on the internet (If you’re a fan of post secret, you know what I’m saying).

For those who don’t know, Post Secret was started by Frank Warren when he made up a bunch of blank postcards and left them in public spaces.  One was blank, one side had instructions to fill the blank side with your secret and then stick it in the mailbox.

Over the years, Frank has become the secret keeper.  He’s amassed millions of secrets and he’s the one who brings them back out and travels the world with them, displaying them in gallery shows and lectures, and of course putting them in these books.

I have read all of the Post Secret books.  I own half of them.  So when I saw this one at the library, I grabbed it in a hurry.  And I immediately opened it and couldn’t put it down.  

Hands down, this is the best book they’ve done.  The early books just displayed postcards.  This book arranges them in a conversation.  There are interviews from Frank’s first mail carrier, Frank, even some of the people who run PS in other countries.  

There’s a section on the app, I’ll fated because people are jerk so, but it’s amazing. There was a secret where somebody wanted to travel the world but only had a month left because of a brain tumor.  It was arranged on a page with responses – photos of people sharing their locations so the OP can travel from her armchair…  

I have always felt a little like a voyeur looking at the site and seeing the secrets.  But with this book, I felt like I was part of the conversation  Like I was asked to open a part of me and be the secret keeper too.  And they were all so very raw and very real.

If I could, I would give this book a better rating.  5/5 for sure from me.

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