Book Review: Christmas Glitter

Title: Christmas Glitter

Author: Ann B. Harrison

Format: Kindle

Published: 2017

 

In July, my mother got me addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies.  I decided this holiday season I would read some cheesy, Hallmarky novels and enjoy myself.  What I learned is that it is impossible for me to read a holiday romance novel in more than 1 sitting, it just doesn’t work.  I end up staying up until the book is finished, which is ok with me!

Let’s get one thing straight, yes, this book is absolutely predictable, just like every single Christmas Hallmark movie ever made.  The story is just plain adorable and had me sucked in.  This is also part of a series so guess what I’ll be reading in my near future!

This is the story about the super hunky soccer player, Adam, who moves back to his hometown to help his parents while his father recovers a heart attack and a woman, Dakota, who owns a fancy upscale, unique jewelry business.  Dakota recently suffered an injury in a car accident and can no longer craft how she used to and came to this small town to try and reinvent herself, while swearing off men.

Adam and Dakota meet when she goes to pick up the keys to her rental home.  Adam is stepping in for his father with his real estate business and instantly there is a connection.  They continue to bond over trying to save a dance hall in the town and Dakota steps up and leads fundraising efforts.

Dakota and Adam are doing everything they can to remain friends.  Dakota has to remind herself that he’s going to be leaving soon and going back to the world of soccer, so she is trying not to get too attached.  Everyone around them can see they are perfect together, so why do they keep denying it?

There are some grammatical errors in this book that make you stop and re-read what you just read to try and make sense of it.  Aside from that, this book is for you if you love and adore Christmas Hallmark movies.  In fact, Hallmark, this book needs to be made into a movie STAT!

This is a 4-star book from me, provided you love the super cheesy holiday romance.  If you are not into that at all, just skip over this book or pass it along to your Hallmark loving friend!  It is such a cute, sweet story and now I need to read the other books in this series to see what happens with the others in the story!  Tune in next week for yet another holiday book review of Restoring Christmas by Kate Kasch.

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Book Review: The Hit

Title: The Hit

Author: David Baldacci

Format: Paperback

Published: 2013

How did I start down this path?  My family loves Clive Cussler and I asked my Dad for a few books to try him out.  He gave me a bunch of books and Mr. Baldacci was included in the pile.  I tried to read Clive Cussler but just could not get into it, so I picked up The Hit.  I.  Was.  Hooked.

Right away we are introduced to a scene where we have a man sitting behind a computer help orchestrate an assassination in another country.  When it is time for the shooter to make the hit, the man behind the computer has been shot and killed by the sniper instead.

In the next scene we meet Will Robie, expert sniper at the agency.  He successfully kills a target in Central Park, New York and immediately gets called to meet with higher ups at the agency.  It appears they have had an agent go rogue by the name of Jessica Reel.

The agency believes Jessica Reel killed Doug Jacobs, the man that was sitting behind his computer.  She was a sniper at the agency and started to defy orders and had gone off the grid.  The agency enlisted Robie to kill Reel so they could stop the rogue employee.  They chose Robie because he was the most like Reel, and they went through training together.  Together, they were a deadly force that even the most highly trained forces could not stop.

Robie takes on the mission and as soon as he does the Vice President of the agency has just been murdered.  Robie starts to feel that the agency is hiding things from him and accidently discovers in all the files he has received on Reel, they have omitted pages and pages of information.  He confides in Blue Man, a man high up in the agency, and starts to have a feeling he may not be doing what he should be.

As Robie dives in to find Reel, they end up saving each other on a few occasions.  How can Reel be a bad guy when she has saved his life?  She knows he is after her to kill her, so why spare him?  He was sent to kill Reel so when he has an opportunity to kill her, he ends up saving her.  Why?  What is going on?  Robie is determined to go off the grid himself and separate himself from the agency to get down to the bottom of what is going on.

I am giving this book 4.5 stars, which if you’re rounding up, is 5.  I loved the short burst chapters and the constant action going on.  Each chapter gave you a little insight into Reel and then bam, suddenly the page turned and gave you some insight into Robie.  The book ended on a high climatic note and has me pumped for more Will Robie.  I now have a box FULL of David Baldacci books that I cannot wait to get my hands on.  Tune in next Thursday for my review of Winter In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand!

Book Review – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

TITLE: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
AUHTOR: L. Frank Baum
FORMAT: EBook
PUBLISHED ORIGINALLY: 1900
THIS VERSION: 2000+ (exact year unknown)

readingchallengesmall

The baby took a nap, so I was finally able to finish this book.  I have to say, I had forgotten how many things were different between this and the movie, since it’s been so long since I read this the last time.  I’ve probably seen the movie 1000 times (daily for a year or so, 3D IMAX, television for years, etc), but this is only the third time I’ve read the book (and the first time was abridged when I was a kid).  I should also add for the sake of disclaimer that I’m not entirely sure that the copy I had wasn’t abridged, but it doesn’t specify either way in my copy, and I can’t find my print copy to verify (not that I checked that hard, but still).

For those somehow out of the know, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz centers around a young teenage girl named Dorothy who is caught in a cyclone and whisked – house and all – from Kansas to Oz, wherever that is.  She meets several witches, a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion, and travels through several lands to get to the Emerald City to get the Great and Powerful Oz to grant several requests.

From the book to the movie, there are certainly some similarities – Dorothy drops a house on a witch in Munchkinland, for instance – but there are most certainly some differences as well – the slippers are silver (Red was for Technicolor), the part where the Wizard takes off in the balloon is only about 75% of the way through the book and not at the end, there are Winkies and all four witches and…  Look, at one point the Wicked Witch beats somebody with a switch so she can keep them as slaves.  This is definitely not the beloved children’s movie with Judy Garland where its all just a dream.

But I think it’s worth a read.  I’ll warn you that the language feels a little off, but that’s to be expected with a story that was written in 1900.  And some of the things that happens are just weird.  But there are some cool lands that don’t make it into the movie, and it’s nice to see a wrap-up of where all four characters go and not just Dorothy.

If you’re a fan of the movie, I think you should read this to know where it all began.  I’m going to give it a very cautious 4/5.

Also, a word of note.  There are a dozen Oz books that Baum himself wrote (and at least another dozen that other people wrote).  He only wrote sequels because the public begged him to and he actually hated all of them.  So read the first book, but don’t feel obligated to read the rest of them.

readingchallengesmall

This book satisfies the 100 years old + category.

2 books of 52 completed.

Writer Wednesday – Michael Essington

1. Who are you?  Michael Essington

2. What type of stuff do you write?
My two, published, books are autobiographical. Last One To Die and Life Won’t Wait are stories of growing up in Los Angeles. Going from being a young punk rock kid and later becoming a father. My third book, Under A Broken Street Lamp, is a collection of short fiction stories that I did with an author from the East Coast named David Gurz.

I also write an occasional music review for Deep Red Magazine and Strange Reaction dot com.

3. What do you want to pimp right now?
I am writing the third and final book in the Last One To Die series, called Born Frustrated. Again, the stories are autobiographical.

4. What is your favorite book?
I like authors more than I like a specific piece of work. So, here it goes:
James Frey
Eddie Little
Edward Bunker
And of course, no list would be complete without a Bukowski mention

5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
I have always been an artist and a bit of a writer. It wasn’t until I hit my forties that I actually made an effort to publish stuff.

6. What link can we find you at?
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/michaelessington1 and my Amazon page: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

The best advice 

In 1994 or 1995, I went through a break-up which lead to a search for new employment and new housing. In other words, things went bad quick.

I slept on a friend’s floor for a couple of days, and then I took the couch at my brother’s place. Slowly, as I got my bearings and confidence, I put the feelers out to everybody and anybody that knew of housing and/or employment.

Finally, one day a girl I worked with in the 1980’s at a record shop called and said that her boyfriend was managing a Kinko’s and they needed somebody to run the computer department during the midnight shift. Perfect! As it was, I couldn’t sleep anyway. Break-up, money, one-year-old daughter, on and on, the brain never turned off.

One morning I’m sitting behind the counter at the computer department working on a press release for Michael Jackson’s parents Katherine and Joe Jackson, when a very dignified African-American man walks up. He asks if he could have a cord to plug his laptop in directly to the printer. I give it to him. He shoots off a couple of pages. Comes back, pays for the prints and hands me the cord.

This went on for a few months, cord, prints, pays and leaves. One day, curiosity gets the best of me, I walk over and ask what he’s working on. He tells me he’s a poet and he’s putting together some pieces about his time in Vietnam.

I told him that I had been writing poetry since the early 1980’s, then asked if he could look it over sometime. He agreed.

My new poet friend came in a week later. He walked up to me and handed me a book he made of 5 or 6 of his poems. Each very different styles, modern, traditional and a sonnet.

I went over and took out a notebook I had of my writings, similar to what I write now, but a bit too heavy on the metaphors. He looked everything over and made comments, like, “This one reads like a song,” and “This is good, but take out the “I,” tell the story without it being first person.” Really cool perspectives. Then he said to go to the local bookshop, find the poetry section and buy the first author I recognized. The point was to find my own voice. Don’t write poetry like I think it should be, don’t imitate Shakespeare.

I wandered over to Barnes & Noble. I looked and looked; finally I see a book by Jim Morrison called The Lords and The New Creatures: Poems. I bought it, read it and moments later declared it as the worst piece of shit I ever read.

I rewrote most of my poetry based on my friend’s suggestions. When he popped up a day or so later, I showed him my updated work and told him that Jim Morrison’s poetry was horrendous.

He read through my latest poetry, offered a few more pointers, and then he asked, “Have you read much Bukowski?” I said, “Not really. I saw Barfly in 1987.”

He nodded, and said, “OK, there’s a book you have to buy. I’d give you my copy, but I probably gave it away already. When you get off work, go to the store and buy Bukowski’s Love Is A Dog From Hell. That should point you in the right direction.”

That man was author Clyde A. Wray; he has always been an inspiration and a friend.

Book Review – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Format: Hardback
Published: 2013
So, we’re finally at the last book of the Divergent series, and this review is going to be difficult to write because of spoilers.  Bear with me.  To see my past reviews of the series: Divergent (Book 1) or Insurgent (Book 2). You can also see Misheal’s review of the first book HERE or Katherine’s interesting review of the first couple in this post.

Now then.

The book starts with Tris and her friends in Erudite headquarters, where they’re being held for the stuff that happens in book 2.  They then leave the city and discover what is going on outside the city where nobody’s allowed to go.  Beyond that, I can’t really say much without going into a lot of spoilers.  Seriously, a LOT happens in this book.

On the plus side of things, after how much I hated book 2, this book seriously redeemed the series.  I still think that book 2 could have been condensed into a couple chapters in book 1.  But in this book, the story moved quickly, the characters were interesting to read about (for the most part), and I got a lot of the questions that I had in book 1 answered outright or at least well enough.

On the negative, I still have issues with Veronica’s decision to just go from one book to the next as easily as one chapter to the next.  These books came out like eight months or a year or something apart.  And with NOTHING to recap what happened in the last book, there are several places where I had to stop reading and try to remember what happened.  Oh, wait, why are they at Erudite…?  What does this term mean, again…?  Who is this person…?  Really, would it have killed Roth to give us a wee bit of overlap?

Also, Caleb annoyed the hell out of me.  Yes, I understand why he was there.  Yes, I get what the author was doing.  But every scene with Caleb in it annoyed me somehow.

Also, and here’s the biggest one… I have already complained about first person (especially first person present).  I hate it, and it’s almost never done well.  While Veronica’s story is good enough to make that okay, in this case it was the most annoying thing ever.  Why?  Because every single friggin’ chapter changed the main character that we were following between Tris and Four.  And while I like Tris and Four, it’s really annoying to have to remember who is talking when all anyone is saying is “I am doing this stuff right now.”   There were several instances when I was so into the book that I forgot that the POV changed until somebody referenced the character that I thought was speaking.  *sigh*

PRO TIP – when we’re all into a book and reading, we’re not stopping to look at the chapter headings to change point of view.  Just sayin’.

Honestly, it got to the point that I would only read a chapter at a time and stop whenever the POV changed.

 

End result – the good outweighed the bad for the most part, but I have to only given this a four out of five because of the POV thing.  Sorry.

Writer Wednesday – Valerie Douglas

Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?
My name is Valerie Douglas

 Tell us (briefly) about you…
*grins* Well, my husband says I’m schizophrenic, depending on which character I’m writing – which is like having a different wife every few weeks. He also says I’m one cat short of being a cat lady (we have four – one with one eye, one whose jaw was broken, and another who sucks her tail) but we also have two dogs.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I have sixteen books out now, mostly fantasy, but there’s a four book romance series, a mystery/romantic suspense, and a contemporary fiction novel I just released

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m dueling projects right now, I have a horror novel I’m polishing for release shortly, and an erotica…..

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Books were always my refuge….

What are your three favorite books?
Just three?!!! To Kill a Mockingbird, anything by Shakespeare, anything by Tolkien

 How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?
I don’t read much when I’m working – but I have an anthology from my group downloaded, The Black Count, Gamble by Dick Francis’s son Felix, and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, A Team of Rivals, and I just finished Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story.

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

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Some books I know I’ll reread, they’re comforting – like Nora Robert’s Chesapeake Bay series, or anything by Anne McCaffrey, and all of Dick Francis’s books.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you? I’d only read a book that was recommended by a friend who knows my eclectic tastes well.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Unless I know the other person’s tastes well, I don’t.

What do you look for in a good book?
Good involving characters in a well-reasoned plot. I like something new and different – a friend has a book she has yet to release about a cop in a reality show set sometime in the immediate future.

Why do you write?
Because it’s the only way I stay sane? Because the voices won’t stop talking to me and the stories demand to be told?

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
An artist of some kind – I’ve done community theater, and I was a portrait artist.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Sometimes even I can’t answer that question. Where in the world does anyone get the idea of writing about an Egyptian Priestess who gets mummified alive? (Servant of the Gods) My old job and the spate of Ponzi schemes gave me the idea for Lucky Charm. The most recent release was courtesy of a picture a friend sent me.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
I’ve had a few revelations. It definitely opened me up emotionally… sometimes a little too much.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband, bless his heart, is incredibly supportive.  *grins* Most of my family seem to treat it like it’s a dirty habit like smoking, and just try to ignore it.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
*laughing*  No, most of the stereotypes are true. We’re an introverted, mostly insecure lot, observers. You have to be to write characters with any depth.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Learning that there isn’t a magic formula. That one book will not make you famous.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
The biggest one is that traditional publishing is a business – while there are a lot of great editors out there, their primary responsibility is to the company. And be careful who you trust.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
No, I’m not a collaborator. I’m a loner in that respect. There’s a few projects of my own in the future.

How do you deal with your fan base?
With immense gratitude!

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
That I can be pretty goofy in real life.

Anything else we should know?
Not that I can think of, but that can change….

 

 

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