Book Review & Giveaway – Making Memories By Georgia Evans

Title: Making Memories
Author: Georgia Evans
Format: Paperback
Published: 2013

Two best friends from highschool reunite after four years of college and take a promised trip to Myrtle Beach. She’s skinny with big boobs, and he’s ripped. He insists they share hotel rooms so he can “protect” her, and the predictable happens. It probably would have happened by day three, but she’s convinced he’s engaged to his evil exgirlfriend Roxie despite the fact he’s not mentioned this Roxie in the past four years and the only person to spot them together said they were arguing.

Essentially Making Memories is a fluff romance, and to be fair, that’s not my preferred genre. But I’m here to try new things.

So first the good. Melanie (the protagonist) has a consistent narrative voice, and the relationship is believable enough. She’s almost believable as a ditzy friend telling you about a special vacation where she found “love”. The plot is simple and predictable, but it never boasts to be anything else, which is fine for a fluff romance. And a pair of identical twins pop up for the second half of the story… I’ve got a special soft spot for identical twins.

And now the bad. The book is every bit as exciting as your ditzy friend telling you about her AMAZING vacation which is far more interesting to her than you. You smile politely and fight a yawn, mainly enjoying the fact your friend had fun and wishing she didn’t spoil all her jokes by overplaying them.

I guess in a town with a population of five hundred (and an inexplicable number of highschoolers considering) it’s not so hard to set the curve, which is the only way this girl could have gotten enough scholarships to pay her way through college.

I’m well aware that book smart doesn’t necessarily mean people smart. Social cues aren’t easy for me either, but Melanie takes the prize for being oblivious. She keeps convincing herself that her best friend (who’s so obviously smitten with her, it doesn’t count as a spoiler) is in love with Roxie, who he never mentions and has excluded from this vacation, that she believes his making out with her is an accidental reflex…

The dialogue is almost entirely short, grammatically correct sentences, which comes off as rather stiff and unnatural. If you’re feeling generous, you could write this off as a narrative voice fitting a kindergarten teacher (a job Melanie will be starting post-vacation). But it’s easy reading romance, so I don’t expect Shakespeare. The shallow plot and transparent characters can be forgiven or at least explained by the nature of the genre.

What drops the story from a three to a two is the cringe worthy ethical aspects. Okay, I’m a prude, but at least the sex was summarized and mostly off screen. The glaring problem is the complete lack of self-respect Melanie has. Granted the evil ex had done a number on her self-confidence (four years ago in high school), but despite a long trail of clues, the guy kissing her multiple times, and getting moody and jealous if she so much as mentions another guy, she can’t conceive the possibility that he’s romantically interested in her.

She genuinely believes he’s engaged and in love with another girl but decides to have sex with him to just enjoy this special moment with her best guy friend. If she had very relaxed/open ideas about sex this would be one thing (though it still doesn’t excuse her deliberately participating in what she believes to be cheating), but the author goes to great lengths setting up how the pair think casual sex is immoral and getting mad at each other for the slight potential of a hook up. The first half of the book is dedicated to them assuring their families that they aren’t going to have sex on this trip. Even after having sex with him twice, she’s still convinced the guy couldn’t love her as more than a friend.

The author tries to plaster this over as okay. Because the other woman is really evil, and the guy really loves her. But it gave me the creeps, particularly with the author claiming this is YA appropriate. The last chapter and epilogue are practically a condom commercial, and I get the weird feeling this is supposed to show “healthy” sexual behavior since they’re using birth control and he asks five times if she really wants to have sex. But the failure of the characters to have any sort of clear relationship discussion before intercourse, and the protagonists’ willingness to give up their virginity to what they both believed to be a one-sided situation was not healthy, quite the opposite.

If I could ignore the ethical implications, I could maybe give this a three, but I don’t think we should have to ignore ethics entirely while reading, particularly when they’re internally inconsistent, so 2/5 is my final score.

 

The Giveaway:

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Georgia Evans has graciously offered to giveaway a paperback copy of Making Memories, so you can decide for yourself. For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post with your name, address, and where you would go on a vacation with your best friend by April 10th. (Comments are screened, so this won’t be public.)

Writer Wednesday – William Dickerson

WilliamDickersonBanner

 

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m William Dickerson and I was born in Yonkers, New York, home of DMX and Mary J. Blige.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m a filmmaker and author. My debut feature film, DETOUR, was just released nationwide, and my book, “No Alternative,” was recently published as a Paperback and eBook.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
“No Alternative” is my first novel. It is a coming-of-age story about teenagers in the grunge era of the early 90’s. The protagonist, Thomas Harrison, is determined to start his own alternative band, an obsession that blinds him to what’s either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his little sister, Bridget. Bridget boldly rejects her brother’s music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers, by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta’ rapper named Bri Da B.

…and what you’re working on right now?
I’m working on two books. One’s a memoir (of sorts) detailing my experience making an independent film in Hollywood – it’s part instructional, part anecdotal, with helpings of caution, acquired wisdom and humor. The other is a sci-fi thriller involving mind control, the Beat Generation…and maybe some Ninjutsu. My film-related activities involve post-production on my second feature, THE MIRROR, starring the Internet sensation known as “Taylor.” We are currently looking at a summer 2013 release date.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
“Animal Farm,” “Old Yeller,” and “Huckleberry Finn” are embedded in some of my fondest book-related memories. Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians” is particularly special, as it was the first book I ever adapted into a movie. It was, in fact, the first movie I ever made. In 6th Grade, I asked if I could shoot a movie in lieu of writing a book report, and for better or worse, my teacher acquiesced to my request and the rest is history!

What are your three favorite books?
Questions like this are always so difficult to answer. It’s hard to say for sure, but three books that I often find myself going back to and that I admire greatly are: “Lolita,” by Vladimir Nabokov, “The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway, “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said,” by Philip K. Dick, and also, if I get to add one more, it would “The Great Gatsby,” because shouldn’t that book just be in any Top Three list by default?

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I don’t get to read as many books as I would like, which is unfortunate, but I’m currently reading “The Revolution Was Televised” by Alan Sepinwall, a terrific rundown on the way television has changed (for the better) over the past decade. It is also noteworthy for being the first self-published book to be reviewed by The New York Times, which is a terrific benchmark for indie authors.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
___ make sure to find a position in which I do not aggravate my herniated disc.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Re-read. Unless it’s Proust’s “In Search Of Lost Time,” because there’s simply not enough time…at least, not at the speed that I read.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Depends who recommends it to me! Just like anything else, I suppose!

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I’m extremely selective about the books I read, so I’m very likely to recommend them. I vet my reading material thoroughly before I dive in.

What do you look for in a good book?
I look for books that have protagonists with strong, subjective points-of-view; perspectives and views of the world that I can lose myself in and explore anew.

Why do you write?
As if there is any other choice?! In all seriousness, I find very little else as fully satisfying as the creative process. Writing a sentence, filming a scene, playing a drumbeat or a guitar lick; it is as freeing as a bird in the midst of flight, or that’s what I imagine it to feel like. It’s one of the few things that allows me to escape the world and enter another, and that is nothing short of thrilling.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Chef.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Life experience and imagined life experience, and sometimes one informs the other.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
Writing has taught me to focus more on the details, the leaves not the tree; not that the tree isn’t important, but it’s the details that stick, that resonate, that float past your face, fall to the ground and crunch under your foot when you step on them.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
It’s been many years since I’ve embarked on a career in the arts, and I’ve had tremendous support from friends and family. However, and perhaps this is just me being hard on myself, I feel like it takes many years to earn the credential of a “professional” in the eyes of those around you. And perhaps that’s a good thing; it keeps you striving, it keeps you humble and hungry; it keeps you on your toes.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
That all writers are miserable. Okay, well, maybe that one’s true…

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The publishing industry is changing exponentially; for someone to succeed in the business, he or she must treat it as a business, which is the last thing I (and others, I’m sure) want to do! First, you need to write a good book. If that wasn’t hard enough, you then have to market it, and you must do so with as much conviction, fiery passion and steely resolve as you direct to your writing.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I will defer here to a quote by Charles M. Schulz: “I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.”

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Yes, absolutely. I would very much love to adapt “No Alternative” into one of my next films.

How do you deal with your fan base?
Pepper spray.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
Whenever the movie LA BAMBA airs on television, I can’t turn it off – I must watch it until the very end.

Anything else we should know?
I’m kidding about the pepper spray.

 

 

By the way, if you want to win stuff, here’s your chance: 

Click Here to Win Books And Stuff

Writer Wednesday – Abigail Keam (and a giveaway!!!)

Abigail Keam is an award-winning author who writes the Josiah Reynolds mystery series about a beekeeper turned sleuth.

Death By A HoneyBee won the 2010 Gold Medal Award for Women’s Lit from Reader’s Favorite and was a Finalist of the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011. Death By Drowning won the 2011 Gold Medal Award for Best Mystery Sleuth and also was placed on the USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books of 2011.

Ms. Keam is also an award-winning beekeeper who lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters.

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Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?
Abigail Keam, born and bred in the great state of Kentucky, sired by Appalachian and Southern parents.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m pretty much a stereotype.  I’m old, cantankerous and an embarrassment to my children.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I write the Josiah Reynolds mysteries or the Death By ____ series.  My first book was Death by a HoneyBee.  The mysteries are about a female Kentucky beekeeper who becomes an amateur sleuth.  I’ve been fortunate that the books have been so well received by positive reviews and awards like the USA Book News – Best Books List of 2011, which included Death By Drowning as a Finalist.  

…and what you’re working on right now.
Death By Lotto

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I have lovely memories of my mother taking me to the Cincinnati library and checking books out for me.   My mother didn’t drive, so we had to take the bus, walk seven blocks to the library and then back to the bus station.  I’m sure it wore her out, but she was determined that her children be educated.

What are your three favorite books?
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
To Kill A Mockingbird  by Harper Lee
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?
One at a time.  I am currently reading Herakleitos and Diogenes.  Translated from the Greek by Guy Davenport.  You asked.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
I’m transported.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Everyone should reread the classics.  It’s important the people read the great books in all genres and streamline those books into our culture.   It’s sad that many young people do not know the great ancient myths or they don’t understand the meaning when someone says “thirty pieces of silver” or “the road to Damascus”.   Regardless of our ethnic or religious backgrounds, we should have a common understanding of our western culture.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Rarely.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Hmmm.  Next question.

What do you look for in a good book?
A good book will draw you into it.  That’s all it needs to do.

Why do you write?
I feel compelled like Moses in the Wilderness.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A beekeeper.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My past.  My cultural identity.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I am a terrible speller.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They could care less.  Remember the saying that a prophet is not honored in his own country.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I think that they are all true.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
To get an even break.  Thank goodness for Ebooks.  Also they are handicapped by their lack of education.  A person graduating from high school in 1970 is better educated than a person graduating from college today.  This is very true in Kentucky.  

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I don’t contemplate on them because it would undermine my confidence.  A writer shouldn’t look back but keep on truckin’.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I would love to co-write a novel series with one or two authors that I know.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I am sorry to say that I am an adulation whore.  I just love my fans.  My Street Team is called Josiah’s Queen Bees.  Hokey I know, but I love it.  

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
That I was surprised when my readers told me that the Josiah Reynolds series was funny.  I didn’t intend them to be.  

Anything else we should know?
Let’s keep a little mystery, shall we?

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Links you might be interested in:

Abigail Keam’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/abigailshoney

Abigail’s website: http://www.abigailkeam.com

Death by Bourbon Paperback link – http://www.amazon.com/Death-Bourbon-Josiah-Reynolds-Mystery/dp/0615651593

Death by Bourbon eBook Link –  http://www.amazon.com/Bourbon-Reynolds-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0098BMV54

Or find Abigail on twitter @AbigailKeam.

So, hey, you saw the title of the post, right, and you totally want a chance to win stuff?  So here’s the deal.  Rafflecopter’s pretty box can’t imbed in wordpress, so follow this link and you could win copies of Abigail’s books *and* jars of her award winning honey!

CHECK OUT ABIGAIL’S RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY HERE!!!

Coffin Hop Prize Winners Announced!

WINNERS!!

For those who were in the drawing, I’m sorry I couldn’t give prizes out to all of you, but there were 152 entries!  For those out of the know, there were all kinds of goodies up, including stuff from Ink Monkey Mag, Silence In The Library (Janine K. Spendlove and Brian Young), and whatever else I have around here…  (Amazing!)  Anyway, in no particular order, the winners are:

Lauren MacKay – chapbooks or photography
Anne Michaud – Coffin hop sampler EBook
Eric Wilson – Coffin Hop Sampler EBook
Heather Powers – goody pack with book thong, etc.
Rachael – chapbooks or photography
Lisa Fisher Walker- goody pack
Rachelle Reese – Ink Monkey somethingorother
Robin Blankenship – War of the Seasons: Book 2, The Half Blood by Janine K. Spendlove
If you have not received an email from me, you should probably comment on this post so we can arrange your prize delivery…

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The following is the original Coffin Hop page.  Archived here for no good reason other than nostalgia…

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What’s this coffin hop thing?  

Simple.  The Coffin Hop is a really awesome blog tour that takes place every year at Halloween time.  Check out http://coffinhop.wordpress.com to find out more and to see a list of participating blogs.

Why do I care?

Simple.  You’re a reader, or you wouldn’t be here.  And as a reader, you want to find more resources.  Also, we’re participating in a scavenger hunt and a give a way (check out the links below), and really, you don’t want to miss those, do you?

For the scavenger hunt: Check out Melissa Smith’s blog! http://melissasmithbooks.wordpress.com/

And, to win awesome prizes, check out our very own giveaway:

Book in the Bag’s Rafflecopter giveaway

Prizes include lit mags, anthos, chapbooks, photography and more!

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