Book Review: The Christmas Wish

Title: The Christmas Wish

Author: Tilly Tennant

Format: Kindle

Published: 2018

 

DROP EVERYTHING!  STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING!  Go and read this book now!  *Disclaimer: not for people who hate heartwarming, funny, feel good holiday romance novels.  This has become my FAVORITE holiday read ever; to the point where I may even re-read this!  (I know that’s a shock, I NEVER re-read my books!)

The story starts out with Esme who decides to break it off for good with her boyfriend and goes to her grandmother’s house for some solace.  She has neglected her friends and family while she was dating her tool of a boyfriend and has an estranged relationship with her parents.  Her grandmother is the only person she knows that will take her in with no questions asked.

They bond and her grandmother is hell bent on her repairing her relationship with her parents.  Shortly before Christmas, she passes away.  Esme discovers her grandmother bought a paid for a trip to Lapland, a place in Iceland she has always wanted to go but her husband would never take her.  As Esme goes through her grandmother’s belongings she discovers tickets to Lapland that her grandfather had bought but passed away before he could take his wife.  Esme is torn at what to do with the trip and, as any down and out woman does, goes back to her tool of a boyfriend.

She tries to convince her boyfriend to go on the trip with her but all he wants her to do is to get the money back for it and spend it on something else.  Esme decides to be bold, sneaks out of the house while her boyfriend is at work, and does what her grandmother would have wanted her to do; she goes on the trip by herself.

She meets up with 3 other solo travelers; Zach, Hortense, and Brian.  Hortense and Brian end up hooking up and that leaves Zach and Esme, as friends.  Esme starts to grow fond of Zach but he is keeping his guard up high and she cannot figure out why.  Don’t even get me started on his mood swings, they’re intense.  As she takes this trip, she starts to realize there is more to life than she will ever see with her boyfriend and she needs to start living her life.

I cannot say anything else without giving key parts of the book away so, go read it!  The detail in this book around Lapland just painted a vivid picture in my mind.  I know how a very high desire to visit Lapland in person and one day visit these places Tennant describes in this book.  The attention to detail is unreal and really makes this book stand out.  I truly felt like I was everywhere described in this book.

This is a 5-star book.  Yes, 5 stars!  I wanted to be in Lapland.  I was rooting so hard for all of the characters in this book.  They all faced some difficult things in their lives and all were able to see past those times.  This made my heart smile, and my face, and even made me tear up a little and laugh out loud.  The penmanship Tennant has is just stellar and remarkable.  This truly goes beyond your typical holiday novel and is a genuine, solid read.  Does it involve romance?  Yes, but, this book offers so much more than that!  Tune in next week for advance copy review of An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

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Book Review – Dombey and Son By Charles Dickens

Title: Dombey and Son
Author: Charles Dickens
Format: 
Paperback
Written: 
Oct.1846- April 1848
Published: 
1995 (Wordsworth Classics)

One of Dickens’ lesser known novels, Dombey and Son is the tale of the proud and wealthy merchant Dombey who puts all his hopes into his son and neglects his daughter. As with most Dickens novels there’s a large cast of secondary characters, many of which are more memorable and charming that Dombey himself. As far as I’m concerned the indomitable maid, Susan Nipper, is the real hero of the story, though I can’t quite call her the protagonist.  There is no clear single “main” character.  In contrast with Dombey’s wealth and pride is the humble and poor but happy and loving, cobbled together family of young Walter Gay, his elderly uncle, and their colorful friend Captain Cuttle.

First, some notes on how to read Dickens, since I met many people who expressed intimidation at the dense 769 page tome in my hand. Most Dickens novels were originally released in serial form over the course of several months. They are not intended to be gulped down in a few sittings but savored over an extended period of time, like a television series. And I think the best way to appreciate Dickens is by reading a chapter a week or one per night (depending on your speed), and remember this was from an age before T.V. when the author must act as set dresser and costume designer. I pressed through Dombey and Son in less than three weeks, since I’m trying to read a high number of books this year. But I think high school ruins Dickens for most people by forcing them to quickly gulp down often abridged versions of the story, and abridging Dickens is crime, since most of the humor, wit, and insight if in the subtleties of the sentences (though less so with this particular novel).

For no reason other than the title, I got it into my head that Dombey and Son would be a comedy, but it turned out to be the least funny Dickens novel I’ve read yet, which I could also say is its main failing. The humor often falls flat, being more cringe worthy than humorous. But then I don’t think it was intended to be funny, so that may be a matter of taste rather than a failing of the writing. This is not Dickens tightest writing or plotting.   The story meanders (which is rather normal for Dickens but this meandered more than most of his books), and Dickens soapboxes to excess. It struck me as more redundant than his other stories, which disappointed me.  Florence, while a delightful character, is praised to dulling excess.

At the same time, it’s also one of Dickens more sophisticated and cutting social commentaries, poking mainly at the feigned moral superiority of the wealthy/middle-class, but also examining domestic life, abuse, negligence, and the nature of family in a variety of shapes as well as taking more than a few jabs at the school system. The “Hymen” toast (Hymen is the Greek god of marriage, btw) was pretty edgy, particularly for the time period. Even as a modern reader, I was glad not to be drinking when I read it.

Dombey and Son rips your heart out, steps on it, kicks it around for a bit, then restores it to it’s proper place and condition.

Ultimately, I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 for general quality, sophistication of theme, and wrapping up all the loose ends, but with the condition that while I would recommend this to many, it’s a terrible starter novel if you haven’t read Dickens before. If you love Dickens, don’t skip this one. You see the early development of themes and characters played out more tightly in later novels, but they are in some ways more satisfying here. If you haven’t read Dickens, I suggest cutting your teeth on Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, or A Christmas Carol, and then working up to Great Expectations and Bleak House before moving on to David Copperfield and then onto something like Dombey and Son.

Book Review – Room by Emma Donoghue

Room
Emma Donoghue
Hardback
2011

So, you know those book papers you can get at the library or book stores? Well, this book was in there a while ago, and after I saw it, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. So I finally got a chance to read it.

And I sort of don’t know what to say.

Room follows five-year-old Jack and his mother who live in a little itty bitty ten by ten shack. Because Ma had been kidnapped, held hostage, and raped for several years, where she had Jack in captivity. Then a plan is hatched and Jack gets out and goes and gets them saved.

Oh, and it’s told from Jack’s point of view.
You heard me. Jack.

So what do I say to this review?
The book was weird. First of all, when life does not exist outside a 10×10 box, you don’t need things like articles to help explain things. Because you don’t need “the room” or “a room” or even “his room” or “my room.” You just have room. And because room is all there is, it becomes Room. Capital R. And it wears it like a proper name and becomes another person. So there is Room and Table and Plate and Fork and Plant and… after a while, it’s really hard to read because you sort of stumble through the sentences because the rhythm is off.

And in the first part of the book, it’s okay, but in the second part of the book, you sort of lose a lot of the story because you don’t get the understanding of an adult (or, you know, somebody who had ever been out of Room or slept somewhere other than Wardrobe) and you don’t get to see a lot of the stuff that happens with Ma.

So, like I said, it’s just weird.

I liked that it was a different perspective, but I had some issues with things, too.

The second part of this book had three parts – liberation, dealing with it, and then moving on. But in the dealing with it stage, there’s a lot going on with Ma that just really pissed me off, and poor Jack gets lost in the shuffle and treated like he’s the biggest problem in the world over certain things. Because, you know, Ma wants her world back and is so hell-bent on having it, that she totally forgets that Jack just wants his world, too. (There are arguments when he wants the personal effects the police brought back from Room and she just wants to incinerate everything.) And there is a lot of that that is never ever dealt with.

Jack, who is still being breast-fed at the age of five. A detail that they made sure to talk about several times and I’m not even sure it’s plausible. Because while Jack is busy being small and malnourished and they’re counting out 100 cheerios for an entire meal, I highly doubt that she’s getting nearly enough nutrition to be able to keep breast feeding five years after the kid is born.

And I’m all for breast feeding, but the scenes are kind of weird when it happens because Jack tells us which breast he likes more and why and… And we don’t need that. Seriously.

The story is fresh and new and different, but it falls a little flat because so much of what readers want to know is out of the scope of the narrator. Unfortunately, I’m not sure you could do this sort of thing without the rape/kidnap scenario, so you have to pick and choose. Clearly, the story isn’t about the kidnapping. We don’t see it happen and we don’t fall into it until seven or eight years in. So you sort of have to get past that expectation to appreciate the story.

Sadly, my expectations were way better than the story. I’m going to give it a three. Go ahead and pick it up if you stumble across it, but don’t go out of your way.

Interview – Pavarti K. Tyler

TOUR BUTTON - WHITE CHALK

Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?

Pavarti K. Tyler: entrepreneur, author, mother, trouble-maker, pervert and general rabble rouser.

 

…and a bit about what you’ve written…

My current novel is White Chalk.  It’s an insight into the twisted reality of far too many American girls.  I deal with issues of sexuality, power, the economy and various kinds of abuse.  It’s not a book for the faight of heart, but it’s one I believe in.  Chelle is the main character and I think most of us know someone like her or someone who could have been her at some point in our lives.

 

…and what you’re working on right now.

I just sent the final draft of my next project to my editor!  It’s called Sugar & Salt and is about a woman who owns a brothel and falls in love, while at speed dating!

 

What are your earliest book-related memories?

My father used to read to me every night.  Pinoccio.

What are your three favorite books?

That’s just a mean question.  Hmmmm.  The Clan of the Cave Bear books (I read them over and over.  The DUNE series and probably Stranger in a Strange Land, the uncut edition.

How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading Necropolis Now by Vincenzo Bilof and BETA reading a friend’s newest novel.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___

Stay there until I finish it.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.

I love to re-read but there are so many great books out there I don’t have the time to do that like I used to.  My To Be Read pile takes up two bookshelves!

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

Quite likely, especially if it’s on the advice of someone whose writing I respect.

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

I do it all the time.  Check out my blog.  I try to review a book once a week when I can and when I love something I try to tell everyone.  I LOVE talking about books.  I only wish more people read the ones I do!  Check out The Silver Series by Keira Michelle Telford, The Habitat Series by Kenya Wright, Nira/Sussa by Julian Darius, I could go on forever.

What do you look for in a good book?

I am always looking for something to make me think.  A social statement, a scientific discovery, a moral dilemma.  I love books with some meat on their bones.

Why do you write?

Why do you breathe?  I don’t know how not to.

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

Well, I’m not just a writer.  I’m a mom, an accountant, a wife, an artist, a knitter, a daughter, a friend, a pervert.  If I wasn’t a writer I’m sure 5 or 6 other things would fill the void, but I’d be less happy!

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Everything.  The world around me is filled with people whose stories need to be told.  I’m just one person, but this is my tiny contribution to saving the world and the people in it.  If I can make you think, make you look at the world around you through another persons lens, even for just a moment, I consider that success.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?

Depends on who you ask.  My family is proud of me and happy to see me doing what I love.  My husband is beyond amazing.  Everyday he comes home and asks me “What did you write today?”

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?

To self-publish or not to self-publish.  The stigma of self-publishing still exists, but the tremendous success of authors like Amanda Hawking, Hugh Howey and Bella Andre make it impossible to ignore as a legitimate option.  It’s not easy, but neither is querying agents.

How do you deal with your fan base?

Well, I don’t think I have a fan base.  I have readers, followers, friends.  I wouldn’t think of them as fans.  Sounds too… I don’t know… commercial?  As for how I deal with them?  I love them!

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.

I’m actually a drag queen trapped in a house wife’s body.  No, I don’t think that’d be much of a surprise to ya’ll 🙂

Book Review – 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I’ve been agonizing over when to put this review out there.  Since today’s April Fool’s Day and this book is a bigger joke than Twilight… Here ya go.  I’m warning you, though.  This review is about 2x longer than any other I’ve ever written (or anyone on this blog has ever written) and is absolutely not safe for work.

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey

Author: Writer:  Chick who managed to put words on paper: E.L. James

Format: Paperback

Published: 2012

Also known as: Twilight, the fan fic.  (You did know that, right?  Because, you know, if you didn’t, you’ve been living under a rock.  This shit is fan fiction based on Twilight.)

So, at the beginning of this blog, Catherine made a comment about how we’d never review this book.  But, you know, I read it for the purpose of reviewing it, and hey, I’m reviewing it.

Someone, please hold my lunch.

If you haven’t heard anything about this book, please, crawl back into your cave and stay there.  You’re safe in your cave.  I promise.

I can’t save you if you keep reading.

Run away.

Now.

Quickly.

Why are you still here?

Haven’t you heard me yet?

RUN!!!

Really?  You’re sticking this out?

Okay, then.

I am no longer responsible for you if you stay.

So, I read the book.  And I took notes.  FOUR PAGES OF NOTES.  Then I decided that if I ranted and raved in this review even half as much as I do in person when somebody asks me what I thought… well, you’d be here longer than it took to write that drivel.

Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Ana, college chick, works at a hardware store in Portland/Seattle (the author doesn’t know the difference, why should I?), studies English, only reads old literature… oh, and doesn’t know how to check email and has never masturbated, let alone had sex.

Her roommate gets sick and sends Ana to do an interview in her place despite the fact that Ana isn’t a journalist and not smart enough to prepare for the interview – like, you know, read up on the guy on the internet or any- oh, wait.  She doesn’t know how to use the computer.  Wikipedia is clearly too difficult.  So she goes totally unprepared to her interview with Christian Grey, busy hating herself and thinking she’s a big fat loser, what with her blonde hair, blue eyes and all.  Oh, and as for that fat thing, she hates how skinny and hot her roommate is, but they share clothes so, uh…

Christian Grey on the other hand, is young, rich, and successful, so the list of responsible journalistic questions asked of him include insulting him at every question – is your success all luck?  Are you gay?  You know, that type of responsible journalism thing.   And then he falls for this useless fat ugly whatever thing that interviewed him.

Cause, you know, that totally happens in real life.    Jeez, I wonder who I could interview for this blog and end up in a bondage room with.

Oh, did I skip ahead?  Yeah, well.  That’s because there’s no substance to this book.

And more issues than Time Magazine.

So what do I have problems with?

  • The author can’t figure out the difference between Portland and Seattle and is there a mention of Vancouver for this American born/bred?  My best guess is Seattle, but I, as the reader, shouldn’t be guessing.  The author herself should know.
  • How the hell do you make it to 22-years-old, about to graduate from college, and can barely figure out how to hit the “ON” button on a laptop.  Email, are you kidding?!  What the hell?!
  • The writing is awful.  Aside from the first person present point of view (“I go and I see and I wait and… I vomit”) which I hate, it’s not even well written.  The thing about this POV is you either have to be good or you end up with a shitload of crappy, choppy sentences.  Yeah.  We’ve got those.  We’ve also got a ton of long, repetitive, run-on sentences.  Sentences that repeat words and colors and phrases and oh, dear God, kill me.  Please.  Because I can’t stand this!
  • Which brings me to my second argument about the writing, which is word choice.  Ana says things like “jeez” all the time.  Also, every combination of “good God” “good golly” etc.  I kept expecting a jeez god or a god jeez or something along those lines.  We get it already, James.  Your character is a clueless, stupid, innocent twit.  Wait, what?  That’s not what you want us to think?  You’ll get over it.  Cause that’s what you wrote and that’s what your editor pushed through.
  • Ana harps on everything – from her roommate and herself to every description every thought every whatever. Also, every guy she meets is cute, even though there’s no chance of a relationship with them.
  • Certain characters have names – like Roy, her father-like ex-step-father – but others, like her mother, don’t.  Not exactly a family therapist here, but if you love your ex-step-father like a father, you probably call him Dad.  And if what’s-her-name down in Georgia isn’t Mommy Dearest, you probably don’t call her that.  Just sayin’.
  • Oh, and she FUCKING MURMURS EVERY FUCKING TIME SHE TALKS.  (No, that didn’t bother me at all. </snerk>)  She doesn’t say, she doesn’t speak, she doesn’t yell (unless they’re in the bedroom) she fucking murmurs.
  • Million dollar words.  This here’s another pet peeve of mine.  When your character is a simple minded twit that uses words like “jeez” every time she opens her mouth, you don’t use fancy vocabulary for the rest of what you say.  Jeez.  I’m sorry, EL, but your character is a moron.  And honestly, people that use huge words when cute little tiny ones will do, end up sounding stupid.  I mean, I know our MC is a college-educated woman who can’t use a computer, but still.  [as a side note, several of the words that she throws around like popcorn in this book are so infrequently used that I needed a dictionary… I actually kept a list at one point of the bizarre choices of words she used]
  • She drinks every scene.  – no, I’m not anti-booze (I’m a card carrying member of the Tennessee Squire Association, thankyouverymuch), but I don’t see the point in drinking every time you go anywhere just because you can, and really, she drinks so much she should be sloshed.  What’s wrong with a glass of water once in a while?  Lemonade?  Iced tea?  Coffee?

So fast forward all this stuff.  After a few choice encounters where she happens to randomly run into Christian Grey (like at the hardware store where he buys zip ties and drop cloths), several meetings where her knees go weak, including a photo shoot of Christian Grey, etc., they end up doing a few things like dinner… and each other.

And the sex scenes are awful.  Because, here, ladies and gentlemen, is how every damn one of them works.

  1. Declare that you (the gent) will not do anything that shows any sort of actually caring about the woman you’re with.
  2. Demand she put her arms over her head.
  3. Do her like you’re her rapist.

Seriously, how bad is the sex life of a normal middle aged wife that they find that sexy?  Is it hot because it’s not missionary-style on Saturday night?  Grey’s not the husband and he’s not grunting till he’s done and rolls away?  What the hell?

50shadesabused

And as the book progresses and she does more and more of this even though she hates it, I seriously have to question Ana.  How bad is her self-esteem (and how clueless is she about sex) that she thinks she has to give in to the total control and domination from her man to get any?  How warped and twisted and – fucked up – are you to think that you don’t deserve any better?

As the story goes along, we learn a few more things about Mr. Grey.  He’s “fifty shades of fucked-up” (which is why I said that in the previous line – in Ana’s case, Mr. Fifty Shades becomes her new nickname for her boyfriend), and this includes his first time being with his babysitter, several (it felt like several million) discussions about the bondage contract she won’t sign, and the most agonizingly annoying scene in which she can’t believe she’s so naughty because she goes to dinner with his parents… without underwear.  (Poll women between the age of 18 and 30, and I bet within a dozen of them, someone will admit to having not worn underwear at some point in the past two weeks.)

ARGH!!!!!

You know, I’m gonna stop because, really, I just want to vomit.

Here’s the thing that pisses me off so much about this book.  Ana is a naïve, clueless, moronic twit (have I said that yet?).  And she somehow got into this relationship with a controlling freak.  Now, maybe, just maybe, if she had had several relationships, been a bit older, had a fucking clue, I wouldn’t be so upset.  But to have a main character that doesn’t even touch herself, who can’t refer to her girl parts – the word is not “down there” the word is “vagina” – thinks of her inner goddess or whatever other bullshit words she uses on herself… she is not equipped enough to be with this man.

And really, the author most certainly shows us this herself.

As the relationship progresses, and we see such uber-creepy behavior as Grey finding out where Ana lives because he has her cell phone tracked, demanding she get a new car because he doesn’t like the one she has, etc., and they discuss the contract to death, we learn a couple safe words (and they’re incredibly stupid safe words), get to watch her dream of sex toys and get them (I can never look at riding crops the same way), and eventually get to “the” scene.  I’d call it the climax, but really, slapping her twice gets this girl off, so using the word climax no longer has any meaning at this point.

Pardon the interruption, but… being stalked, tracked, or otherwise controlled is not ever the sign of a healthy relationship.  If you or somebody you know is in a relationship like this, please leave and find somewhere safe to go.  If you don’t feel that you can leave safely, call the police and they will help you.  Abuse is never okay, and you don’t need to be a victim to be in a healthy relationship. There are resources out there, and it’s NOT something glamorous.  

Ana/Bella (because let’s remember, this was based on fan fic, and she’s really just the tortured soul Bella in a new name) has at this point decided that she wants to know what the extent of Grey’s abuse, er, I mean spanking, is.  So she tells him to go  all the way.

And while she’s crying about how awful it is, she has her only moment of light where she decides that it scares the shit out of her and she should leave.  So after it’s done, she breaks it off with him.  End book.

And even this, I need to bitch about.  Because if you already forgot, about a paragraph and a half ago, I pointed out that they had safe words.  Which she doesn’t use.  At all.  And then she’s all “I can’t believe you hurt me like that” and pouts for a while.  Wait a damn minute.  She’s entered into an agreement (even though the contract never got signed) that she would do this sort of stuff, but she has a safe word so that it can’t get out of hand, and then because she’s too stupid to use it, she gets to play the victim?  I don’t think so.

Another side note.  Consensual BDSM happens all over the world.  It does not look like this.  And it is not about being hurt or abused, it’s about control and trust.  There is absolutely no trust anywhere in this book.  The author should be ashamed at writing this shit.

If I tell you to stop, I damn well expect you to stop.  But if I don’t say anything, then it’s safe to assume for whatever reason I want you to keep going.  It’s sorta like… going to a bar and seeing someone drinking across the room and assuming they’re at least 21 (or whatever the legal drinking age is where you are).  So really, all we learned through this book is that Ana needs therapy – not only to see why she thinks so lowly of herself but also to figure out why she has the sexual development of a thirteen-year-old.

Really, I think it’s irresponsible on the writer’s end.  We’re in an age where women (no matter how young or old) are increasingly having body issues.  (Just today, a friend of mine posted a link to Hardee’s new commercial paired with a conversation about how he can’t convince his 16-yr-old daughter that there’s nothing wrong with the way she looks.  For the record, she’s adorable and fairly skinny.)  Date rape cases are rising.  So what did this asshat author do?  She wrote a book where the main character thinks that nothing about herself is okay, is too emotionally stunted to deal with herself in any way, and then made her think that she had to be abused to be cared for.  Note that I’m not saying ‘loved’ because, you know, that doesn’t actually happen at any point in this book.

I thought the worst part was that there were two more books in this series, but no.

Somebody is writing fan-fic.  About this.  A fan-fic.  About Twilight.  And the longer this book is in print, and the more copies that sell, the more people who are going to take this crap and write their own.  And really, one was bad, it being a trilogy should have been the end of it.  But I picture a library full of this shit, and well… *shudders*  Also, even better, when the fan-fic about this was announced, EL James demanded her lawyers issue a statement to the next author saying “You just don’t steal other people’s ideas”  – um…

Can I give a negative pages rating?  Please?

Book Review – My Orange Duffel Bag

Title: My Orange Duffle Bag: a journey to radical change

Author: Sam Bracken (With help from Echo Garrett)

Written/Published: 2008-2010

Format: Hardback

 

My Orange Duffle Bag is the story of a man named Sam, who was kicked out into the world by his mother at the age of 15 with nothing more than his orange duffle bag and a few clothes.  It deals mostly with his journey to not be another statistic, and to instead succeed at football and academics and later religion.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve been excited to actually sit down with a copy of this book since the original self published version of it appeared at a booth I was part of during a book festival.  The self-published version was orange canvas, complete with a white zipper and full color pages and it was as beautiful and incredible as it possibly could be.

The version I finally got to review is the copy my library had; professionally published by Crown Publishing and missing the awesome zipper, but still awesome looking.

 

So, I popped a movie in and sat down with this book (ever the multi-tasker) and eventually turned off the movie and just finished this.  The book is about 200 pages long, but there’s a lot of white space and a lot of pretty layout, but it’s short on content so I finished it in just under two hours.

The book is divided into three parts – the first is a short history of his life.  Just a paragraph or so about a year in his life, boiled down to the most generic of story lines.  “Age 10 – I win my first track meet and my step-brother uses me as a human dart board”  Onto the next age.  And key points of his life – Age 18, I am baptized – are glossed over so quickly that you almost miss them.

The second part of the book talks about his time through college.  How he succeeded at football but doubly succeeded at academics because he set huge goals.

The third is over half the book and includes his “7 rules for the road.”

 

I was hoping for a little more, actually.  I think that Sam was trying to hard to be positive and uplifting that he forgot to tell us about himself.  I didn’t need a full memoir, but I wanted some sort of connection.  What I didn’t get anywhere in this book was EMOTION.

And what I didn’t get was what drew me to this book in the first place.  You see, after Echo got the book to my booth, I kept in touch with her and her brother Kevin Montgomery, who does a 50 states in 50 days concert tour to raise money for Echo and Sam’s Orange Duffle Bag Foundation.  So through them in other venues I’ve heard the stats.  Only about half manage to get a HS diploma, 2% get a four-year degree.  Over a quarter end up homeless.

And while Sam wasn’t formally in the system (he stayed with friends for random periods of time and bounced from house to house), the fact that this WASN’T him is a story that I wanted to hear along with the tips and tricks for being awesome.  Especially since a lot of these are common sense.  (The gist is want it and do what it takes to get there.)

 

Granted, the book is beautiful in any form.  Several of the pages could be really awesome motivational posters, and I wish they were.  And I think it’s a book worth sharing.

It’s not a top rating, but I’m confident putting it solidly in as a four out of five.

Writer Wednesday – Valerie Bowen

Valerie Bowen is a NaNo novelist working her way towards a dozen books in print, including a series where a portion of the proceeds go to charity.  But, as she’s told me nothing else about her, that’s all I’ve got by way of introduction. This is her…

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’ m a versatile writer with eight books under my belt. I love writing stories that can pull the reader into the characters world and make them feel the same emotions whether it’s love or terror.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I have written two three book series, the popular For the Sake of Amelia series and the psychological thriller series titled Mind of a Madman. I would also like to mention I recently released The Drifter, another thriller and Shattered which is a novel based on a true story of psychological abuse.

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m currently working on a novel titled The Enchanted Oasis which is also a thriller. The most exciting news, I’ve been offered the opportunity to write another based on a true story. This novel is about the very dangerous life of a well known individual…that’s all I can say at this time.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
I have always been an avid reader, and the earliest memory would have to be the Dick, Jane, and Sally books the children of the sixties had to read in the classroom.

What are your three favorite books?
Asking me to name my three favorite books really isn’t a fair question. I have so many novels that I have loved over the years. Since the question was asked, I’ll try to whittle it down. The first I would have to say is Swan Loch by Randy Mixter. Another favorite of mine, is The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning. Finally I would have to add The Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I have been known to read four or five at a time, but currently I’m only reading one.

Finish this sentence; When I curl up with a book, I __
dive into a world of imagination leaving the day’s aggravation behind.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
There have been many books that I have read and re-read.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
I try to read every novel that has been suggested to me. Although, I do have to admit some have been far less than what I would call interesting and leave them before I have a chance to finish.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I recommend novels all the time. I have a blog, I have to be honest I haven’t kept up on, where I post reviews of novels that have been suggested .

What do you look for in a good book?
To me a good book has to pull me in and hold me there. If an author can drag his/her reader in within the first chapter or two, I’ll stay with it to the end.

Why do you write?
I write because the stories in my head need to be told. Every character has a voice and wants to be put down on paper.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I’m an architectural designer by trade, so I would continue on that path.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
All my novels have a part of me. All the characters, even the villains, are pulled from people I have come across in my life. So to answer this question simply, I have to say my stories contain emotions and people I have encountered over the course of my life.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
LOL writing has taught me, I’ve had far to many nasty people in my life. Face it if I can write about psychological murderer and get his emotions and feelings on paper and believable…well I guess I’ve encountered some mean and nasty people.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
The people in my life rarely read my novels. The reason being, I make the scenes, all scenes life like. My friends and family aren’t into the true to life murders I write. I’m constantly being asked to write a novel without violence, you know a love and sweet romance…I just can’t bring myself to do it at this point in my life.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
In every field there are typical stereotypes, and writers are no exception to the rule. I would classify a true novelist as a loner, happy in the worlds they create. True peace can be found within the comfort of one’s mind even if murder and mayhem are there.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The biggest hurdle for writers, whether just starting out or if they’ve had a few novels published, is marketing. It’s tough trying to get people to take the chance on a new writer. Once your stories are introduced and you have a following, it tends to get easier.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Everyone makes mistakes along the way. I myself try to research and ask questions. I have spoken to numerous law enforcement officials when I was writing the Mind of a Madman series. I’m sure not every cop operates in the same manner, so in the end I’m sure someone is likely to say I’ve written something wrong. Just make sure if you’re writing ay a historical romance, do your homework.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Well that’s a great question. As I stated above, I’m currently in the talk stages of writing a novel, based on the true life of an important individual. This would be my dream work.

How do you deal with your fan base?
Fans are great! Whenever I get an e-mail or a comment from a fan I’m elated. There are a few people I consider my biggest fans, and I always go above and beyond to make them happy. After all, fans are what drives the author in us all.

Finish this sentence; My fans would be surprised to know __
I’m more of a loner than they could imagine. Although I choose to be alone, I’m far from lonely.

Anything else we should know?
To read the available chapters for all my books: http://www.opusnpen.com and http://www.valeriebowen.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=valerie+bowen

Face book author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Valerie-Bowen/140274682715104?ref=hl
Email: val2262001@yahoo.com

I also do anything to help. I offer cover designs at a very reasonable price. To take a look at my work or to inquire go to http://opusnpenblog.weebly.com/cover-designs.html

I also create book trailers and am willing to do them or assist in awy way I can. You can see my work on my site http://www.valeriebowen.com/book-trailers.html

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