Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Sprained Wrists + Books = Reading Rampage

So I sprained my wrists. Since I needed to take some time not typing, I used the time to catch up on some independent horror films which is not part of this blog post, and my TBR pile which is the focus of this post.

Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy:

Elizabeth’s Review:  I’ve been meaning to read this book forever, so this was the first on my list. Our hardcover edition with gilded pages is a gorgeous book. As for the story, I enjoyed this book in the academic sense, but realized why I never got into it for pleasure.  Asimov’s use of language is beautiful, but as it is a history of The Foundation, I felt like I was traveling past these people at the speed of light, unable to truly connect to any character. After too-few chapters, their contribution to history had finished and time moved on. Regardless it is beautifully written book of 730 pages, which I read in four sittings. Even though at places it could be dry, the novel captured my attention. Four planets for an interesting book.

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Written and Created By Sam Miserendino
Art and Colors by Colin Blanton Letters
Cover by Matthew Mason

Elizabeth’s Review:
I picked this up from the author at CryptiCon. It was darkly funny and the biblical language/punishments was used brilliantly with the art. I thought the artwork was amazing. The story got convoluted in places. For example: why did the kid kill the butterfly? To show the evilness of the world? Little details left me asking “Is this part symbolism? Hmmm.”
Otherwise four crucifixes for a great book!

The Devil and My Daughter51vntf2b6a9l-_sx331_bo1204203200_
Written by Josh Hancock

Elizabeth’s Review:  This book originally intrigued my husband at Crypticon, but I was awoken early by a noisy neighbor so I read it in a few hours.

Spanning a decade, this epistolary novel is written as if it is nonfiction. In this book, its important to read everything. The preface, the footnotes are all part of the story. Overall it took a serious look at what a real demon possession might look like. It follows a film crew who unleashes a demon with a song from their heavy metal soundtrack on to a young actress.

 Because the novel is told through police reports and news stories, some parts can feel dry and repetitive, however it is a fast read. The characters were well developed. I enjoyed the serious tone of the novel which added to the dark scenario. Five Demons for this scary novel!

 

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Life of an author: 7 Ways to Keep the Creeping Bitterness at Bay

Yesterday I read this article: http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/09/28/20-things-to-remember-when-you-think-youre-not-good-enough/  I loved it enough to put on my Facebook Page and then I decided to write my own list, specifically for authors.

I wanted to roll myself in blankets with Rosie.

Every author has days they just want to hide under the blankets.

Every author has felt the creep of bitterness when they watch another author do well publicly. We want to be supportive to one another, but deep inside, is a little voice asking “Why isn’t that me?”

Right now, there are the fall releases. Most authors have author friends. And a lot of them are putting out new books. A friend and I went to a reading for two authors in our acquaintance. We stayed for the reading, but during mingle time, the friend was anxious to leave and overwhelmed. Why? Because she was jealous. Her first book just had another rejection and here two of our friends  seemed to have all the success in the world.

Guess what? I know the inner workings of these two authors well enough to know that they don’t have it all. Yet, even I, feel that creeping anger that overtakes my being and stops me from moving forward. You see, I talk a good game and I hide it well. But it’s always there threatening to break out. This is how I control it.

1) Remember EVERY BOOK has a sales arc from release date to current time.

Every book’s sales drop off after the release blitz. Every Book. Some will hit the top 100 lists and some won’t. Not every book from the same best-selling author will hit the best seller lists.  But every book goes up after its release and then comes down.

2) Remember EVERY BOOK has good and bad reviews.

I’ve had epic reviews where the reader said I’m their new favorite author and I’ve had reviews that said Other Systems was boring. Who is right? They both are. A review is an opinion. And everyone is entitled to their opinion especially since I asked them for it!

3) Remember EVERY AUTHOR has a budget for PR.

Some budgets are bigger than mine. I can’t control that. I can control how I spend my own money and remember that just because this book didn’t do as well as I like, doesn’t mean that the next book won’t.

Now here’s where it gets personal….

If I had been afraid to go through this gate, I would have missed one of the most beautiful and interesting gardens in all of IrelanD!

If I had been afraid to go through this gate, I would have missed one of the most beautiful and interesting gardens in all of Ireland! So Be FEARLESS!

4) Don’t be afraid to write what you want to write

I write what I want to write and have basically told people to fuck off if they tell me to write something else. (Depending on the relationship with the person, this will be a gentle or harsh.)

No, I don’t write about YA vampires nor do I write spanking fantasies about women being dominated by billionaires.To be clear, I am not dissing any author who writes about such things as long as they are writing about these subjects because they want to. 

I am saying If I wrote such a story, it would be shit. Know why? Because I don’t care about that. I don’t even care about the Hunger Games wannabe dystopia stories though they are closer to what I write. Not because these subjects are better or worse than what I write, but because I would be a poser and no one likes a poser.

I write serious hard science and hard social science fiction. My inspirations are Margret Atwood, Vernor Vingeand David Brin

Sometimes I also write horror or epic fantasy. My inspirations are Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Tanya Huff.

These are the authors I read for pleasure. Notice something about the authors I listed, they have two things in common. They are authors who write for adults. and no matter what the setting deal with real life issues in their writing.

No one makes me write this. It’s a tough road, but a road that I put myself on willingly.  I really don’t care what other people think I should write. I’m living the dream–and so can you–just remember every great dream has a bit of a nightmare.

5) Go your own pace.

It will feel that everyone is moving faster than you. They are releasing ten books a year while you’re struggling with writer’s block. I once let a publishing contract pass me by. It hurts when I think about it sometime, but I know I did the right thing for me. I nor my project would have been what the press wanted from me.

6) When it gets too hard, reach out for help. 

I think most authors want to help. I love helping. Hell, even if I can only give you a hug (real or metaphorical) and pass you along to some one more qualified, I will do that. And if you  happen to run into jerks, write them off, and come over to my side of the inter-webs.


7) Five Words: I am a fucking author. (And if you need them add another seven…Nothing can take that away from me.)

I wrote a hard science fiction novel and it was published. I wrote, created artwork and self published 4 graphic novels and a comic book series. I have had a few short stories published. This is where I am in my career. It has taken me eight years to get this far and I’m not stopping.

No one can take that away from me…not even death. I might not be remembered, I can’t control that, but I used the time I have in a way that I feel is worthwhile.

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Here is me at Norwescon’s Writer’s Row last year.

If you wrote a book or a short story or a blog post you are an author. You created something out of nothing. Be proud of that.

Plus one extra tip for no charge: Figure out what  gets your hackles up, and do your best to ignore it.

America loves an instant Success story and a get rich quick scheme. Right now, that’s publishing an e-book on Kindle.

Being an author is work. No one just poops out novels or trips over a publishing contract. My pet peeve is every bio from a best-selling author that starts with “I never thought I’d be an author…. ” I’m calling out bullshit on that. Then I stop reading and go about my merry way.

So Authors Friends, what helps you?

Reviews The Shining and Dr. Sleep by Stephen King

What was on my Christmas list this year? Dr. Sleep. And what did Dennis get me?

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A hardback volume of three Stephen King Novels and a hardback of Dr. Sleep. I love reading a beautifully bound book with big letters. I’m old fashioned that way I guess. And yes, I do plan on re-reading the other two novels in the volume which if you can’t tell from the photo are Carrie and Salem’s Lot.

Great Christmas Gifts!

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Also in book related Christmas Gifts, my parents bought us bookends. We needed bookends, we love that they are little mice sitting on cheese reading books.

But on to the reviews…

My Review of The Shining
Even if you haven’t read the book, most people know the premise.  Jack Torrance, the struggling author and recovering alcoholic, gets a job as the Winter Caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. He and his wife and son go stay there. His son Danny has the shining and the Overlook wants him. The Hotel weaves its way into Jack’s subconscious and he goes crazy.

What I didn’t remember from the first book is what a great job King does a great job letting the reader know that there isn’t something right, but it is eerie and easily explained away. There is another reason that this book works. The Torrences have had some setbacks due to Jack’s temper and drinking, but are looking for away to make it work.

There is time for them to escape before the hotel is strong enough to hurt them, but Wendy and Danny are financially bound to Jack or they must live with Wendy’s emotionally abusive mother. Jack hates his physically abusive drunk father and tells himself that is not how he is. He is not abusive.

Now on to my review of Dr. Sleep.

Okay so now Danny is all a grown up. He is Dan now.

First of all, I really enjoyed the antagonists, because people who follow my reviews (and my writing) know, I love a “justified” villains. (Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying anything they do is good, because these people are evil, I’m saying they have their own moral code and follow it) The True Knot live on the essence of kids with the Shine. They torture and kill kids to get it, they drink it in order to survive. However in the book, they believe they are the humans, all of us are just rubes, kids with the Shine are food.

Secondly, as with the first book, there was so much “real life” horror mixed in with the “supernatural” horror.

Thirdly, while seeing Dan Torrance grown up and how he moves through his life was interesting and Abra Stone was a great counter point. In my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects, since I just read The Shining is also interesting to think about how much the world changed between when Dan was a child and today when Abra Stone is growing up.

Yes Danny Torrence’s family was extremely poor due to his dad’s drinking, while the Stones are upper middle class, but it is more than that.  The world has changed. Child raising has changed. The toys kids play with have changed. King refers to plenty of technology that is here right now since the book is set in the present day. Google Earth for example.

King repeated enough of the story from the first book, that if you haven’t read The Shining, you will understand both characters. However I suggest read (or reread) The Shining. Due to it’s constant feeling of rising dread, I felt it is the better of the two. Maybe I’m a bit jaded, but with so many modern convinces and wealthier parents and just more people rooting for Abra, while she was in greater danger, yes, but she never seemed as she was in much danger.

I am not saying they are both not five-star books, because they are, but they are five-star books in different ways.

Yep, it’s time for another reading rampage: review of Chemical Attraction, Breed, and Dead Heart!

Well a few things have been going on this week 1) 48Fourteen has released three new books and 2) on our anniversary Dennis and I stopped at Barnes&Noble after our steak dinner. So everyone should figure out that means I am going back on a reading rampage! (FYI: I purchase every book I review.)
What was strange about all three books is they are all suspenseful books that deal in someway with medicines. I did not plan that at all, its just what happened.

The first book on my to read list was Chemical Attraction by Christina Thompson published by 48Fourteen currently available in e-book. I throughly enjoyed this book–in fact more than I expected to– while this book is categorized as a romance, under Amazon, it’s really a thriller with strong romantic subplots as well as a strong science-fictiony component to fulfill the geek in me.

The descriptions of a small midwest town were excellent. Thompson enveloped me into the world she created and her pacing was excellent. I loved the opening scenes as they moved between all the characters and showed how they were interconnected.

Dr. Madeline Pierce and FBI Agent Joe Roberts have great chemistry as does the other couple Police officer Matt and his wife Eva (who is also Joe’s sister.) My only real criticism about the love aspect to the story is I got more emotionally involved in the relationship between Matt and Eva better then the one between the protagonists. In a way, their romance seemed more real.

Still, its a great book and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who wants a romantic thriller.

The 2nd Book I read this weekend was Breed by Chase Novak published by Mulholland Books available in hardback.

This book was very interesting it felt a bit more science fiction than horror. I did not find it necessarily terrifying, but it had great pacing and lots of suspense. Alex and Leslie are happy except they cannot seem to have a child. They try one infertility treatment after another and the want of a child turns into obsession–especially for Alex. As a last-ditch attempt to make his dream of a child but especially a male heir come true, he takes Leslie into Slovenia to meet Dr. Kris, where they submit to a painful procedure that finally works but has awful consequences to them and their offspring: the twins Adam and Alice

Without giving too much away, most of the book revolves around the twins when they are ten and they are trying to work out what is happening to them and other kids born from Dr. Kris’s procedure. Their parents are both the protagonists and antagonists of the story which I LOVED! The other thing which was really interesting was the book was in presence tense. It gave such a panicked feel to the pacing which really worked for this type of novel.

 

The 3rd Book I read is Dead Heart by RL King published by 48Fourteen and avialble on e-book.

Now I admit, it almost turned me off on the first chapter, guys are talking guy talk and I wondered to myself if educated men really act like such idiots when they are alone together, but then I wouldn’t know and more importantly I got more and more swept up by the story between Paul and his sister Rhea as well as Paul and his companion ghosts.

For a debut author, King has the gift of understanding in horror books one must beat on the protagonist and allow them to suffer. I do not want to give any spoilers so I will just say, I was so engaged with Paul and what he was going through, I read the book in one sitting.

Wonderful book!

Getting out of one’s funk–the answer to Wednesday’s depressing post

Somedays, I just want to roll myself in blankets with Rosie.

This past few weeks my emotions have been up and down most likely due to the stress of my last convention and getting stuck on a few scenes in The Martlet the novel I am currently working on. I left Westercon feeling great and then… hit the blues in a major way.

(Note: I am certainly not referring to real clinical depression. If you think you are clinically depressed, please see your doctor.)

So Wednesday I was feeling a little down in the dumps which quickly fell into me being pretty sure that I am the most uncreative, untalented, blah blah blah author ever. Well now it’s Saturday and I am feeling much more like myself. Here is how I got out of my funk.

1) I remind myself since my writing is good enough to get published, I am not the worst writer or the worst artist or the worst whatever.

2) I figured out what was bothering me. While something was the catalyst to my mood, that wasn’t what I was dwelling on. I was dwelling on the lack of reviews/readers for Other Systems. I began wondering why since I wrote a hard science fiction novel was I now writing The Martlet, a fantasy book about assassins. Maybe that’s a mistake. Is the Martlet storyline one which has been told before?

Now I pulled myself out of my mood before I started spiraling deeper. How?

3) I had to finish an interview to the Red Reader. She asks some fun questions including the dream cast of an Other System’s movie. I admit I spent a few hours going over IMDB picking out actors and even got Maria’s help in the silliness. Robert Downy Jr. was my choice for Cole and if you want to know the others go check out the interview!

Also she will be reviewing Other Systems probably somewhere near the end of the month.

4) I sent in Other Systems to the 7500 word challenge and got an incredible review of the first 7500 words. The Owl gave Other Systems: Characters 5/5, Setting 5/5, Plot 5/5, Grammar/Spelling 5/5, Punctuation 5/5, Structure 4/5, Potential Beyond 7500 Words 5/5

She said she “fell in love with the characters” and I was called a “world builder and a wizard with words” sniff sniff (Yep, those are happy tears.)

5) I wrote a rough draft of a short story about a fallen cherubim who lives in the Eastern side of Woodland Park with the rabbits. He steals sandwiches from picnic baskets–he likes the lunch meat and gives the veggies to the bunnies. No, I am not making this up, I actually wrote this story. It needs to rest for a day so I can re-edit it, I also need to head over to Woodland Park so I can walk the dogs and get a few technical details. It’s been a while since I’ve been there.  The point of writing the short was to get my mind off The Martlet for a very short time. I took two days of rest. Now I can get back to work.

6) I queried four more book reviewers. One accepted my query: I sent him the PDF this morning.

7) Finally my mom (who yes reads my blog) sent me an email to make sure I was okay and we’ve been talking about the next steps for the Other Systems’ universe.

My point is that when you are feeling blue and uninspired, making, forward momentum, even if it is just baby steps, will help keep you going. How do you get out a writing funk?

My review of Prometheus: interesting… but…

So my husband and I went to see Prometheus.

I am trying not to give spoilers, but this is a review.

Overall I enjoyed it. As a action science fiction movie, I felt it did a good job. It was shot beautifully. The opening scenes in Iceland were especially beautiful. And I loved the alien “Engineer” technology. It was gorgeous and I felt it kept in the same feel as the other movies. My husband saw the movie both in 3D and in 2D and he said some of the 3D effects were spectacular.

One thing I really liked is the crew included a science team as well as a team of people to run the ship, plus Vickers who was management.

However there were a few problems with the film: Mainly it didn’t feel like a prequel. It had almost nothing to do with the Alien series which I know and love.

1) The human technology was all glossy and pretty, yet it was supposed to happen prior to Alien. I would have liked to see more mixing of low/high tech. Yes, I understand it was supposed to be a nicer and better-funded ship than a mining vessel, but that doesn’t explain the more advanced technology.

2) The characters were completely flat except the “villain” characters. Michael Fassbender as David, Charlize Theron as Vickers, and Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland were all terrific. I understood why every single “villain” was doing what they were doing. They were awesome.

3) I was glad when bad things happened to the protagonist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) because he was such a jerk. Was he supposed to be one of those gray characters that science fictions fans love? Well, he did not pull it off. He just seemed like a douche. The other protagonist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) was nicer, but she didn’t seem much smarter. She seemed to have no reason for her belief system.

When the bad things started to come down some of it was completely obvious as they were reminiscent to the other movies, but why are scientists in movies such idiots?  Personally I wanted MORE bad stuff to happen to them because they made such stupid decisions.

So while I liked it, I can only give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

 

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