Tag Archives: book review

New Species Series – Review

I recently read these books by Laurann Dohner. Well most of them at least. It started because I wondered what types of books get on these best seller lists. I found these, and apparently a few of them have made a couple of the best seller lists.

In I dove. They state on the books that though each one can be read as a stand alone, it makes better sense to read them in order.

Book 1 is titled Fury. And each subsequent book is titled after one of the new species characters. In order they are as follows.

  1. fury_msrFury – read
  2. slade_msrSlade – read
  3. valiant_msrValiant – read
  4. justice_msr 2Justice – read
  5. brawn_msrBrawn – read
  6. wrath_msr-smallerWrath – read
  7. tiger_msrTiger – read
  8. obsidian_msrObsidian – skimmed…sorry I had had enough
  9. shadow_msrShadow – I am not sure I could go there again.
  10. Moon_msrMoon – maybe in 10 years or so
  11. True_HiRes-smallerTrue – maybe not

The reasons I read more than one was I wanted to see a couple of things. They don’t take long to read…and to be honest, the last few was sort of speed reading.

  1. Were they formulaic ? Yes.
  2. Did they do more than repeat similar version of the same story ? Not really.
  3. Did the series grow as it progressed ? No.

Now this is not actually a BAD review. The books are what they are. Romance/erotica novels. Kind of Mills and Boon with loads of pussies and cocks thrown in. Very large cocks, and very tight pussies. Starting to sound a bit like porn ? I have nothing against erotica. It has its place in the scheme of things. And the New Species series is about what I expect from that genre. The characters capably do what they are meant to do. There is a plot to each book. It differs from book to book [though not a great deal], and some characters do recur throughout the series.

The premise of the series is that a large pharmaceutical company has genetically modified people with animals. They have over a period of decades tried to perfect this new species so that they can use them to perfect drugs for sale, and to eventually get the perfect fighting model to sell on as mercenaries.

Greed, making money, as much as possible is their driving force. Not ALL too far fetched yet.

But someone is watching and discovers what they are doing. In Fury we see this New Species set free. Sort of. Of course they do not assimilate well in to the general population. Well, every book needs conflict.

There are hate groups who want to put them all down among the human population. Some of the New Species are not showing a great deal of love for the humans either.

Until…da, da, da, da…Fury falls for a human female named Ellie.

Now, to explain a little. Fury has the DNA of both human and canine in him. He growls a lot. Has teeth like a dog. Has an enhanced sense of smell, as do all New Species, to the point he can smell when a female is ovulating/menstruating/is aroused/has had sex.

Against ALL odds they come together…oh yes they do. As do every subsequent couple in each of the series after facing many difficulties. There are attempted assassinations, kidnappings on both sides, misconstrued conversations, well, you get my drift.

Book three, Valiant, was interesting because this is the first time we have a New Species character who looks more animal than the others. Valiant is part feline [a lion]. He roars when he comes and apparently his semen is hotter than a humans. I’d like to know if this correlates to real felines, and how the heck you would find it out. Valiant lives far away from humans due to his intense dislike/distrust of them until one day a scared little human female accidentally wanders in to his territory.

According to the blurb in the beginning of the book [and these are in every book], Tammy was never prepared for the sexy, lion man-beast with exotic, golden cat-eyes who terrifies her so much she cannot flee. Valiant takes one whiff [hey he is a cat type person] and decides he is not going to let her go. He uses his big, buff body to convince her to stay.

Both Tammy and Ellie, and every other female in the series are tough little humans who stand up to these hulking brutes until they get too close. At which point they lay down and open their legs.

Because you see, the big/buff/animal/human males are sexual beasts who know what they are doing. And of course I think that the big cocks might also be a draw card.

Of course these B/B/A/H/males are scared too. They are afraid that those big cocks, and their enormous sex drives will kill these puny little human females. So for the tiniest moment they fight their urges.

Not content with one time flings these B/B/A/H/males take the puny little human females as mates. Which means fighting other males of both species who get too close to their mates as well as marking them with their scent.

Now it seems that the female New Species are unable to bear children. But wait…those puny little human females can and do get pregnant. Which brings with it a new set of conflict for all concerned.

So…there you have it. The basic plot of each and every book in the series. Except for Book #9 Shadow. Shadow actually falls for a New Species female. But here is the kicker. Most New Species females are big, strong, beautiful and butt-kicking strong women. The New Species that Shadow falls for is one of the Gifts. These females were engineered small and fearful, so that they could be given to human males as gifts, and yes, I mean sexual slaves. No…I haven’t read this one yet…but the blurb is quite clear, and the GIFT females are introduced earlier in the series.

What bothered me was not that the books are erotic. Neither was it that each book seemed to be a reinvention of the last book with names and conflicts altered. I didn’t have a problem with the fact that we are bordering on the cusp of bestiality. After all, they are more men than beasts. I mean they have two legs, two arms, buff bodies and can speak even if they do like their meat pretty rare and many of them growl and even purr. Nope…I don’t have a problem there.

So what does bother me you ask ????

This. In every book I have read so far a couple of things happen.

  1. The main female character is drawn to the main male character because he is soooooooo dominant.
  2. The main male character is drawn to the main female character because she submits to him on all levels, after she puts up a bit of a show to show us that she chooses to submit.

What happened to equality ?

I am assuming these books are aimed at a mainly female audience. As they are on bestseller lists I am also assuming they sell well to this same female audience.

So does this mean that all these women want to be dominated ? That their ideal mate is someone who protects them from all comers ?

Am I missing something ?

All in all I have to say they are better written than the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Another erotic series that focuses on domination/submission between the sexes that sold like molten gold.

So I guess I answered my own question. But I have a feeling that the something I am missing, I probably don’t want to find.

Posts that may or may not be related…hehehehe

Marionette – My Thoughts

T B MarkinsonSome of you may know the lovely lady above. T B Markinson is her name for those of you who do not.

I recently got my hands on a copy of her newest book…MARIONETTE.

I was a bit hesitant about reading a book from someone I know…ye Gods…what if I hate it ?? Especially when you are dealing with subject matter such as this book does…attempted suicide, homosexuality, hiding who you are and dysfunctional family bonds.

Suicide has touched my life…and in every case…every single one…those left behind are broken and shattered and struggle to find their way past the moment that the person who took their life passed the burden on to them.

I grew up trying to be the perfect daughter, wife, mother…never trusting that the real me was good enough. I hid behind a veneer of what I perceived was acceptable.

As for dysfunctional family bonds…I am writing a book on those. From experience.

Thus…when I started reading Marionette…I was like…oh no !!! Because the beginning of the book starts with a failed suicide attempt.

Then…wham bamm thank you ma’am, you step right in to her crazy family where Paige hides everything important about herself.

Three out of four boxes I know about…Marionette was hitting close to home.

Paige Alexander is a young woman who has lived her life with parents who frankly…need shooting on sight. Seriously. These are the sort of people that were they dogs…then they would be euthanized to protect the community .

Paige loves Jessica. Secretly. Why you may ask ? Well, for that you need to read Marionette.

What can be a problem with books such as this one, I have found at least, is making the characters believable. Too many writers turn the people in their books in to cardboard cutouts that have no real dimension to them.

As Paige goes off to college, and to counseling, piece by piece we get to travel within [think Fantastic Voyage] her until we finally end up completely in Paige’s head, really knowing her.

Along the way we also get to know Jess better. Quite early on you wonder a bit about whether Jess is all she seems. I am not going to give any spoilers here, so if you want to know the answer to that…you know the drill…get the book. Why does this older, educated, confident, funny woman want to be with the younger, damaged Paige ?

The other characters in the book, except for the completely hellish parents, are all well written complementary characters. Not that the parents aren’t well conceived, they are just downright evil people.

Liddy, Paige’s counselor, is one of my favourites in the book. Slowly through Liddy, we the reader get to know Paige.

Then there are the college friends. Audrey [the roommate], aptly nick named ‘Minnie Mouse’ by Paige. Jenna and Karen [the suite mates]. Jewels, Emily, Tom, Ben and Aaron. Paige’s relationship with Tom provides a few nice twists.

Then there are:

  • Mel and Wesley. Talk about a couple who need a swift kick.
  • Alex. Paige’s childhood friend. This was one of the saddest but most unexpected relationships in Marionette.
  • Abbie. Paige’s sister. Abbie has more than her share of demons too.
  • Julia. Who runs a diner and through her food has become part of Jess’s family and so therefore also Paige’s.

This is a book about relationships. How they can grow and surprise you. How you can survive the ugly ones and rejoice in the ones that lift your spirit. It is also about secrets.

I read Marionette in one sitting. Then I went back to read it again for this review and was just as delighted the second time.

Thank goodness it has also been edited and proofread. Self published books that haven’t are sadly too many to name these days. They do little to serve the readers or the authors who can’t be bothered to make sure that their finished book actually is that – finished.

I look forward to reading the next of T B Markinson’s efforts after this.

mar-kindle

This article was originally published on BlogCritics: Book Review ‘Marionette’ by T B Markinson.

A Dash of Reality

What do you get when you combine a sporting franchise run by an egotistical bozo that is feeling the economic downturn, a female billboard model on the verge of getting fired, and a reality TV show?

A Dash of Reality.

Tauranga based author Lee Murray’s newest book comes under the ‘chic-lit’ heading. So I opened the first page with a bit of trepidation. Reviewing a book of someone I know in a genre that I usually only turn to when I don’t want to tire my brain, and having offered to review said book, well…I wondered if I had really thought this through enough. So, what is A Dash of Reality about?

When Melanie, a billboard model, is given a month’s notice she comes up with an unlikely scheme to keep her job and catapult herself in to the realm of famous people. You know the ones, people, that when someone says their name everyone know who you are talking about.

A reality TV series is born where a bunch of everyday New Zealanders will take part in six running events that ends with a marathon and one winner who will get cash for the charity of their choice.

Melanie has more in mind than just cash for her charity. Winning will mean staying employed, paying the bills, being the face that everyone recognises. Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Ahhh…but we are talking about a Lee Murray book where nothing is as simple as it first seems.

As well as a few corporate douche bags who seem intent on making Melanie’s life hell there is her family. An absent father, a mother who seems preoccupied with appearances, a stepfather who calls her Flakey, a stepsister who would rival either of Cinderella’s stepsisters, and finally a stepbrother who I actually liked.

Luckily Melanie has Jack, her boyfriend and biggest supporter. Melanie’s best friend Janeen’s disabled daughter Caro is also Melanie’s goddaughter. I was so glad that there were at least a few nice people in this girl’s like.

Once or twice I found myself wanting to shake Melanie, and wondered how anyone could do something that dumb. Then I remembered that in my lifetime I have seen a lot dumber things done by a lot smarter people. I have to be honest and include myself in that category. I have also met a few of these people. The ones that seem terribly one sided until you take the time to look deeper and realise they are just as insecure and flaky as you are.

What is also nice to see is a book set in New Zealand as I know it. Too many times books like these are set in such a generic locale that it could be anywhere, or they are written by someone who has never set foot in the country they are writing about. A Dash of Reality has a distinctive New Zealand flavour in the setting, the humour, the language and the way its characters live and interact.

Chic-Lit sounds like an easy genre, but to get the right mix is a little more difficult than it looks. Too light hearted and I get bored, to deep and it crosses right out of the genre. Luckily for me I really liked A Dash of Reality. Is it War and Peace? Thank God no! That book may be considered a masterpiece but I have never got passed page ten. Every genre has its place. Chic-Lit, when done well can be a great read. A Dash of Reality is done well.

If you find yourself interesting in running, at the end of the book are some tips on starting. And Lee should know. Not only is she an award winning writer, but Lee has competed in 18 marathons, a bunch of half marathons and an ultra marathon.


Where you can find Lee

Related posts

Article first published as Book Review: A Dash of Reality by Lee Murray on Blogcritics.

Travel Theme: White

Ailsa’s theme this week is WHITE. This wee guy greets Chevvy and I often as we walk around the estuary and I wanted to share him with you.

And because it talks about vanilla sex I thought I might add my thoughts on something I read this past week.

Okay I caved and actually read this book. Have you heard the expression ‘curiosity killed the cat’?

Christian Grey. Where do I start? Fifty shades of mental illness. How on earth this guy ever got around to making $100,000.00 an hour is a miracle. He spends hours training. I mean let’s be real here. You need to be in shape to be able to smack the arse off a petite, whiny virgin, if you really want to make her run for the hills. Christian with the grey eyes. How many ways are there to describe grey eyes? A lot it seems. There’s grey, intensely grey, dark and grey, serious and grey, super grey. Need I go on?

Christian is obsessed with Ana eating. It’s a little creepy. He even puts it in the contract she must sign. Oh yes. Ana has to sign a contract of what she will and won’t do. Foods she is allowed are listed in Appendix Four. And no snacking between meals, please.

As for Ana. She ‘rolls her eyes’ 25 times throughout the book. A little dangerous doing that, as Christian thinks that is an over the knee spanking offence. Then there is Ana’s inner goddess, who glares, is thrilled, dances, nods, jumps, stops jumping, glows, is surprised, is pleased, is not pleased, smacks her lips, does back flips, bounces, wakes, pleads, stares open mouthed, prostrates herself, spins, has a do not disturb sign on her door, is beside herself, grins, pouts, scowls, basks, gazes, swoons, is hopeful, and she also drove me to drink.

Repetition, repetition, repetition. Using my kindle search tool I discovered that Ana flushes exactly 100 times. There’s actually a whole lot of religion in the book. 39 holy shits, 30 holy craps and 18 holy fucks.

There is so much wrong with this book I don’t really know where to start the criticism. Although I could start with the fact the main character is a girl with silver balls in her vagina getting spanked and seemingly enjoying herself, who squirms under people’s gazes and says jeez 81 times. This same girl spends her time hooking up with an Adonis who has a red room of pain, won’t let anyone touch certain areas of his body and wants to turn this little virgin in to his own personal submissive.

Let me warn you. It is a wasted couple of hours that you will NEVER get back. I actually finished it because I wanted–I don’t know what I wanted. Maybe to be able to say I’d been to literary hell and back. These are two of the most annoying characters I have ever come across. Seriously, don’t waste your time. I’d rather have gone to the dentist.

Article first published as Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James on Blogcritics.

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As Cheryl has kindly asked after Jackie, I just want to mention that my beautiful Jackie is doing better. She is still on a low fat diet. We are treating her as if she has pancreatitis. Which means a low fat diet forever. They only way to know for sure are hugely expensive tests or treat her for it by adjusting her diet. She’s a big girl so can afford to lose a little weight. And I was switching her over to the raw food diet anyways, so I don’t mind that.

They still don’t know for sure what was wrong, and she has to go back for FIV tests again in 60 days just to be sure.

She sends you all her thanks for all the wonderful well wishes, hugs and head pats !!!!

***

Play Him Again: A Review

Want to find this book on Amazon…click on the cover.

When I received the synopsis of this book and a request for a review I was intrigued. Jeffrey Stone’s request was unusual enough in itself to tell me that anything he had written could be good.

Hi, Jo, how are you?  My name is Jeffrey. I liked your comment about needing instructions to survive in Queensland. I was raised in Youngstown, Ohio in the U.S. It’s about 800 miles from Chicago, a notorious gangland town commonly known as The Windy City. Youngstown was referred to as Little Chicago because of its own lawlessness. We used to say that Chicago may be the windy city but Youngstown blows.
I’m hoping to interest you in reviewing my crime novel, Play Him Again.
See what I mean. Jeffrey Stone sounds intriguing himself with a history like that. Then I read the synopsis he sent me.
It’s the Roaring Twenties but silence remains golden for Hollywood.  Sound is expensive. Only two studios have installed sound equipment.  Matt Hudson, the preferred bootlegger of the film industry, wants to produce a talking picture but neither sound studio will lease him their facilities. After Hud’s oldest friend, con man Danny Kincaid, dupes a gangster who controls a small movie studio into buying a bogus sound device, the gangster gets wise and Danny ends up dead. To settle the score, Hud runs another con to play the gangster again. A con that will either avenge Danny and land Hud a studio, or get him killed.

Now you understand why I thought I might enjoy reading this. Nothing thrills me more than to take a trip out of this century. And how I love this era and this backdrop. Hollywood, gangsters [somewhere other than Chicago], bootlegging. I went to Amazon, read the prologue and opening chapters. That was enough to send me off to Smashwords [where it is also available] to download it.

Stone’s characters are wonderfully complex. The plot of Play Him Again is believable and flows with a quick and smooth pace from one scene to the next. The author has constructed a great backdrop that makes it very easy to slip in to as you read.

I think I fell a little in love [lust] with Hud from the moment he slid in to bed with Sylvia. Many books fail miserably when it comes to love scenes. It is either too Mills and Boon, picture an orchestra playing while the heroine swoons in to the muscle bound hero’s bulging arms,or jumps straight in to pornography. Play Him Again does neither. It balances perfectly on the highwire of not being cringe worthy but still being raunchy enough to feel real.

Hud is such an interesting character. He grew up a hustler. He and Danny spent many years conning people out of their money. When we meet Hud, he has moved on. No longer comfortable with being a con man Hud is now a bootlegger, and one of the best in Los Angeles. Hud is also fascinated with the prospect of talking movies.

There are so many facets to Hud’s personality. He’s real in the way a protagonist should be. Intriguing, flawed, knowing who he is but vulnerable when it comes to showing that to the one person he needs to be honest with.

I loved the complicated relationship between Hud and Sylvia. Thankfully all the supporting characters have depth and add to this story. Minnetti is a terrific antagonist.

Play Him Again is a fascinating story. I admit I love Humphrey Bogart, and this book took me to similar places Bogey did in his films. It is well written, well plotted and actually just a great read.

A young Humphrey Bogart would have made a perfect Hud. It is a fascinating look at the twenties, prohibition, gangsters and the film industry.

There were a couple of grammatical errors but I think I found more in Harry Potter. There are more books to come in this series and I look forward to following Hud through all of them.

Article first published as Book Review: Play Him Again by Jeffrey Stone on Blogcritics.

13.9.2012 – I just heard that this review has been picked up and posted by the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Very cool !!!!

The Angry Woman Suite

The Angry Woman Suite is an unexpected novel. Most authors shy away from having more than one protagonist. Lee Fullbright has three.

This different take actually works which I found surprising, as I have rarely come across a book where that tactic doesn’t lead to confusion and chaos for the reader.

The supporting characters are not forgotten and are fleshed out just enough to not only make them interesting but integral to the story.

It is a disturbing novel. This is one of the most venomous families I have ever come across. How they tear each other down is Machiavellian in extremis. But it is compelling.

I found it a difficult novel at times to read. Not because of the writing. Lee Fullbright has eloquently detailed a time and a family in a way that makes it no surprise this book has won the 2012 Indie Reader Discovery Award for Literary Fiction.

It is not a novel to be read for light enjoyment…though enjoyment comes because of the articulate and fluent prose that weaves together the three protagonists’ lives in a tapestry of torment and deceit.

What I loved most about this book was the fact that I found it difficult to put any one character in the good or bad box. Their complicated personalities had you hating them one moment and sympathizing with them the next. For me as a writer it is one of the most difficult tasks. So I appreciate it when I find authors who are able to do this. No villain is completely bad and neither are the good guys what they seem.

My only problem with this book is the ending.

To quote my favourite TV show: “Endings are hard!”

I felt that Lee, in trying to tie up the loose ends and leave you with a sense of completeness, only left me wondering. I finished the book unsure of why it all happened.

That said…Lee Fullbright is a writer I want to read more of in the future.

From the book’s back cover comes this synopsis…

When overbearing former big band star Francis Grayson mentions the “murdering bitches” who supposedly ruined his life, his resentful stepdaughter Elyse—always on the lookout for simple dirt on Francis—takes note. Intertwining narrative with Francis, Elyse stumbles across glimmers of big murder instead of simple dirt, while Francis moves perspective of his “bitches” back to the 1930s, to his childhood in Pennsylvania. His coming-of-age story centers on a mysterious painting and search for the artist who he believes can fix his feuding family. Aiding him in his quest is his mother’s lover, Aidan Madsen, who not only mentors Francis’ big band music career, but knows everything about two murders implicating the women in Francis’ family. The three narrators of The Angry Woman Suite—Elyse, Francis, and Aidan—weave together a picture of two disturbed families who meet their match in the young, determined to survive Elyse Grayson, and human to a fault hero, Aidan Madsen.

Novel Publicity Blog Tour Notes

Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The Angry Woman Suite? Well, there are two ways to enter…

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Angry Woman Suite tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I’ve posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.

About the author:

Lee Fullbright is a fourth-generation Californian, raised and educated in San Diego. She is a medical practice consultant and lives on San Diego’s beautiful peninsula with her twelve-year-old Australian cattle dog, Baby Rae. The Angry Woman Suite, a Kirkus Critics’ Pick and Discovery Award winner, is her debut novel. Connect with Lee on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or GoodReads.

Get The Angry Woman Suite on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Have a look at a Rafflecopter giveaway

*****

A special treat is coming up on the 10th and the 11th of September. The Hook has his book “The Bellman Chronicles” in a giveaway for both days. If you are a member at Amazon – watch this space and I will remind you to get your copy as the time approaches.

*****

Article first published as Book Review: The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright on Blogcritics.

Self publishing or self indulgence ???

Lately I have been receiving e-mails from authors requesting that I review their books.

Sounds good so far…free books.

But let’s look at the last three books that have come my way.

Corpalism by Arun D Ellis: The first two parts of the book were wordy, with too much exposition and seemingly unrelated to each other. There were too many to note, but the book was full of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. And yet there was underneath it all the possibility of a story that could become something. Part three logically for this reader was going to be where the melding of the previous parts would occur and thus draw the story together. Nope. Nyet. No way Jose.

Well…I have no answer for just how bad this piece of writing got !!!

I wanted this book to work…because the subject matter is relevant to today’s society. In the end though I couldn’t finish it as got mired down in a soup of self indulgent, incoherent storytelling that made no sense at all.

I decided to contact the writer and inform him that I could not write a review for this book to display on my blog. There was no way this book was ready for the public arena. One small problem though…the book was already published.

Curious as to how others perceived the book off I went to Goodreads. The publicity blurb had me believing this was the novel of the year.

Book 2: I actually liked this one. It needs tweaking in a few places (in my opinion) but has the possibility to do well with the demographic it is aimed at. But oh…the mistakes that were littered throughout. I am a bit pedantic when it comes to books with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. I hate it. Now I know that it occurs. In a book that has 100,000 plus words an error or two will slip past. So again I contacted the author. What did the author do…he sent it BACK to the proofreader.

Seriously.

Who is this proofreader ???

Why are they NOT doing their job ???

I am assuming they got paid a bucket-load for their services.

At least this one hasn’t been published in this state. Because I believe that this one could do well. I also believe if a book is published before it is ready it will not ever recover from that.

Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker.

Picture this. Opening the first page on my computer what do I see ???  The book cover, the title page. All good. The table of contents tells me there are nine chapters.

Tap…Kindle clicks over to the first page of the story.

Interesting. The book starts with a couple of e-mails. Including the ‘From, To and Subject’ lines of the e-mails.

Tap. Next page.

Tap.

Tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

OMG !!!!!!!! The whole freaking book is nothing BUT e-mails with every e-mail including the ‘from, to and subject’ lines. Capitol letters emphasise words. Comments such as <Insert sarcastic tone> pop up all over the place.

What a friggin’ nightmare to read.

I was done by page five I think. So I can’t tell you whether this one is littered with mistakes that need a proofreader to sort out. Because I lost interest.

I have read books in the past that are based solely on a series of letters between people. One I thought was done exceptionally well. But in truth I think it is a lazy way of writing.

I have gone back and browsed through it, but it is just not my cup of tea.

The plot ???

Renee Greene is talked in to going online by her friend Mark Finlay to find love.

The further the plot progresses, the sillier it gets. I didn’t believe it. It felt forced.

What I am getting from reading all these books is this. Independent publishing should not mean publishing any old rubbish, or as in book number two a book that is peppered with errors. As an independent author the onus is on you to make sure that the book is free from errors. It is also your responsibility to get the opinion of someone, actually lots of someones about two other things.

Is the story any good ?

Is the writing any good ?

As a writer I know how easy it is to be blinded by words on the page. They become your babies. As such it is often difficult to look at them without prejudice and judge them solely on their merit and worth to the story.

A writer I admire once told me that if the words on the page don’t do one of two things they should NOT be there. They must move the story along to its next destination, or they must provide NEEDED background to move the story along to its next destination. Every word must have a purpose and earn its place.

In the future I hope to publish my own novels. I have learned three, what I consider important, things from writing book reviews.

The need to get expert as well as lay opinions. Actually get as many opinions as you can as long as they are honest. As the writer you are too close to your work to view it objectively. I think of J.K.Rowling when I say that. I love the Harry Potter books. I wonder though if her fame got in the way of the last book. In my view it was in need of some serious editing.

You need to listen to the opinions of others even if you disagree. If a reader tells you they don’t get what you are getting at…then that is your fault as a writer. Writing should make it easy for the reader to fly from word to word, character to character, becoming lost in the story. A really great book makes understanding the plot and reading easy. If someone tells you they don’t get it…as a writer you need to look at why that is and fix it. That is your job !!!!

Self publishing should not mean sloppy publishing. Edit, edit then edit again.

Which bring me to number three. Mistakes. Spelling mistakes. Punctuation mistakes. Errors in grammar.

Proofread, proofread, proofread and do it again. Then send it to a professional proofreader who has a GOOD reputation. When it arrives back…proofread, proofread and proofread again.

It makes all the difference.

Books like these are why authors need to get a professional proofreader (one who is good at his job), and an editor who will tell them the truth about their writing before they publish. Independent publishing of books in these states only makes it tougher for all the other independent authors to stand a chance.

Publisher/author Kenneth G. Bennett did all these things before he published The Gaia Wars and sent out a well written book that meets all the criteria and is a great read because of it. So too did Edmund Jorgensen, author of Speculation.

Related posts:

Speculation

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It is always nice when a friend remembers you in their will isn’t it ?

But what if what they leave you is a choice ?

Remember that TV show The Money Or The Box.

What would you choose ?

I have always thought that I would go for the box.

Speculation is about being left that type of choice.

Buddy Johnston, Sothum (Stanley Riordan), and Andrew Wrangles have been friends since college.

Sothum, a genius in Andrew’s eyes who has not quite lived up to his full potential. Buddy, born to wealth with two bestsellers and the belief that life owed him everything. Andrew, both a student and teacher of philosophy every day of his life.

After Sothum’s death Andrew is left three boxes of papers from Sothum to sort through. He is also left with a choice. $10,000,000.00 or an envelope.

Andrew begins to search through the boxes hoping to find some clue as to what is in the envelope.

He is also searching for a clue to a bigger mystery. What happened to Buddy Johnston ? Buddy is missing presumed to have committed suicide after being ridiculed in the press. Andrew believes that Buddy would have found it too difficult to leave this world without a suicide note. During a conversation with Sothum about Buddy’s disappearance Andrew is connvinced that Sothum knows and is hiding something.

Has Sothum left a clue to the Buddy mystery, has he left behind the answer to a previously mind boggling philosophical question, or is Sothum being Sothum one last time and playing a prank on Andrew ?

There is no time limit on when Andrew must decide…but his wife Cheryl is definite about what she wants him to choose…and quickly.

I was completely fascinated from the first sentence. Edmund Jorgensen has crafted four believable, funny, quirky characters that meld together seamlessly in this book.

When it came to my eyes demanding to be closed, it was with sadness that I placed the book under the pillow to be picked up again at the earliest opportunity.

Seriously. I really hated my body’s need to sleep.

The back story of these four characters is weaved effortlessly through the book. The more you learn the more you want to know.
The pace builds as you get closer to the heart of the story.
Speculation did what few books do these days. It surprised me.
If there is one new author you need to discover…have a look at Edmund Jorgensen.
If there is space on your bookshelf for one more book…read Speculation.
While I will be lending this book to friends…it has found a permanent home to be taken out and reread.

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Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of Speculation? Well, there are two ways to enter…

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Speculation tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! You can enter on the tour page linked above.

About the author: Edmund Jorgensen was born in Chicago. He studied classical languages and has maintained a love for all things Greek and Roman. He fell in love with his wife in Mexico; they now reside, happily but considerably more chilly, in Watertown, Massachusetts. Edmund is currently hard at work on his second book, a set of interconnected short stories. Connect with Edmund on his website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.

P1060703

Winnie – the – Pooh

Illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard

I was undecided about whether to include Pooh in the reading challenge. It was such a favourite as a child. Then I remembered the joy I found in the Hundred Acre Wood when my own children were small.

Illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard

In the library I found the 80th Anniversary Edition. It is a beautiful edition with Ernest H. Shepard’s illustrations taking you away from the Disney hype and reminding you of long ago memories of Pooh and his friends.

From the dedication ‘TO HER’ to Pooh going bump, bump, bump up the stairs behind Christopher Robin in ‘We Say Goodnight’ I lost the adult world that is mine and my body smiled during the journey through A. A. Milne’s.

Illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard

Where else could you find a bear with no brain who will roll in mud to look like a black cloud and sail in to the air under a blue balloon hoping to reach that oh so tempting hunny?

Each story is a delight and there is no place for hanging on to being a grownup.

It seems impossible to pick a favourite story.

Eeyore losing his tail, Pooh visiting Rabbit, Kanga and Baby Roo, Piglet meeting a Heffalump and all the rest are adventures that take you along so that you actually say “Oh” and “Ah”. You feel your eyes getting brighter and your cheeks puffing out as your mouth turns upward.

Yet there is one – for me.

Chapter Six – in which Eeyore has a birthday and gets two presents

Illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard

Pooh eats all the hunny in the jar on his way to Eeyore’s and Piglet falls and breaks the balloon he’s carrying.

But the gifts are perfect. Piglet’s scrap of red balloon fits in Pooh’s Useful Pot.

There is a lesson in there !!!

Eeyore it seems also got more than that. For Christopher Robin is reminded of — a little — a little…

Well I think I leave that for you to discover !!

There are some books that have no category, no target audience.

There are some books that transcend all divisions.

And I am already looking forward to the day I can introduce my grandchildren to the one I think does it better than most ~~~ Winnie – the – Pooh ~~~

Isn’t it funny

How a bear likes Honey?

Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

I wonder why he does?

(From Chapter One ~ Winnie – the – Pooh)

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Illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard

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Click on the image above to read what others think of books they are rereading for this challenge.

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Charlinder’s Walk

With the world the way it is I thought the premise of Charlinder’s Walk would make for interesting reading.

In 2010 a great plague strikes. By 2012 it has taken down the majority of the world’s human population, with only small pockets of communities left.

Fast forward to 2130.

Charlinder is the teacher at a small community school in Paleola in America.

It is an unusual community, because of the way it is structured. Marriage no longer forms the basis of the family unit. Instead children are raised by their mothers and the mother’s brothers.

It is also one of the few communities that puts value on education, and maintaining the skills that allow children to grow up being able to read and write.

But much like communities today, there are tensions between Paleola’s people and their beliefs. Much of the tension in the community is because a part of the town is convinced that the plague was a punishment from God. This faction want the town’s ‘heathens’ to return to a society that is structured around religious teachings.

Sounds almost familiar doesn’t it ?

So what did cause the plague ? They know it began in Italy. They know there was no cure. They know little else.

Charlinder decides to make the journey to Italy to find out what caused the plague. He hopes to be able to silence the religious faction of Paleola when he proves that the plague did not come from God.

There are some great characters in this book. Personally I loved Charlinder’s Uncle Roy. Any man who would send a young man off on his walk half way around the world with a sheep as a companion is the type of character I love.

Queen Anne’s Lace, Lacey for short (the sheep), provides Charlinder with exactly the type of side-kick he needs. Their relationship on the journey also provides a lot of the humour in the book, as well as a lot of insight in to Charlinder’s character.

Alyson Miers has a lovely style of writing. She generally keeps the book moving at a good pace. I did find Charlinder’s dream sequences a little confusing at first. While the book is a little slow to start, it was worth sticking to, as I enjoyed following Charlinder as he encounters communities across the globe.

So what did he find – well more than he expected.

He found that sometimes the simple truth is complicated.

He found that sometimes the truth is only that – the truth and not the answer.

He found that you need to look for more than just the truth to find answers.

It was an interesting idea – one I think Alyson Miers managed to convert in to an interesting read.

***

An excerpt from the book:

The rest of the afternoon passed so enjoyably that Charlinder soon asked himself if he had overreacted. He forgot the tension of the school day. He liked his life just where it was, and he preferred not to think about how it would be several years down the road, when all his friends would be mothers of children in his class. Stuart, for example, was a very sweet child but there was no telling how he would be as a pupil. The idea that within the next couple of years the rest of his friends would also have babies was a change he preferred not to imagine. The idea of “babies” was one thing, but he preferred to come up to Spinners’ Square and join the women as “my friend Char,” and without the additional layer of “my kid’s teacher.” He liked what they had just then. It didn’t need to change.

Even when Ruth arrived late in the day with a knitting project of what appeared to be a small sock, Charlinder assumed she didn’t intend to do anything except enjoy some conversation while doing her textile work.

“Hello, Ruthie,” said Miriam, in the tone she used to tell people they were expected to declare their intentions right away.

“Hi, everyone,” Ruth responded as she sat down in the grass. “Hi, Stuey!” she cooed at Stuart, who held up the ball of yarn he was using as a toy.

That was enough for the time being. Ruth went on knitting, the rest of them continued with their tasks, and no one said very much, but it wasn’t a tense quiet. It was the kind of quiet that happens when no one needs to say anything, and they were comfortable that way, until the sun started glowing orange and sinking towards the horizon.

“Char, who was the other little boy fighting in school today?” asked Ruth suddenly.

“What do you mean by ‘the other little boy’?” He suspected she already knew of Taylor’s nephew, but wanted her to spell it out.

“I heard from Taylor that his nephew, Michael, was in a fight with another little boy at school today. Who was the other boy?”

“That was Khalil,” said Miriam. “I’m tight with his grandmother.”

“What were they fighting about?” asked Ruth.

“Taylor didn’t tell you?”

“No, he just said Khalil said something that made Michael really mad, and they ended up fighting.”

Charlinder did not like where this was headed. “Khalil said Michael and Taylor were both squirrel-brains,” he said, dodging the issue and making Phoebe and Yolande giggle.

“But what would make him say that?” Ruth pressed on.

“I don’t know,” he fudged. “Kids that age do a lot of things for no apparent reason. The little buggers just don’t think.”

“But this is the first fight you’ve seen in two years of teaching school,” said Ruth. “Surely it didn’t just happen for no reason.”

Miriam let out an exasperated growl. “Char, you might want to leave now,” she said through gritted teeth, then turned to Ruth. “Taylor probably already told you this, but just to get it back in the open so you know we’re all informed, little Michael decided to share Uncle Taylor’s preaching about how God punished people for behaving badly by giving them the Plague. Khalil didn’t agree with him.”

“So, how did you handle that?” Ruth asked Charlinder.

“How he handles the kids in the schoolroom is none of your business,” said Miriam.

“No, really, it’s okay,” Charlinder cut in. “The class got a little off the subject after a history lesson, and I just wanted to move on so we could have math time. The kids didn’t drop the subject when I asked, and they ended up fighting, so I broke them up and made everyone sit down in their math groups. And then it was over.”

“Why couldn’t you just let them discuss what they wanted?” asked Ruth.

“Because if I let a few six-year-olds decide the topic of discussion every time one of them had a whim, we’d never get anything accomplished,” he answered.

“So, you don’t want them discussing the Plague?”

“The Plague is a history lesson for another time, which I do teach, just not today.”

“So, what, you don’t want them discussing the disease that set the human race back by thousands of years, except on your terms?”

“I’d have no right to call myself a teacher if I let the kids use school time to have any conversation at any time they wished,” he pointed out. “Then I’d just be a babysitter, and while many parents figure it’s the same thing, I’m still interested in educating. And if you ever try teaching kids that young, you’ll see you can’t just let them run the place. So, yes, I do want them discussing the Plague on my terms only, or they can take it outside of school.”

“Which I see your friend Taylor has already done, in any case,” said Miriam.

“And does that bother you?” asked Ruth.

“If Taylor wants to give his big sister and brother a break from dealing with a six-year-old boy for just long enough to tell him that God loved His creations so much He tried to kill them all,” Miriam explained, “then I’m frankly disturbed, but then I can’t be everyone’s mother when their mothers are alive. What bothers me is when people want to use the Plague as an excuse to pick fights with people who aren’t interested,” she continued. “Like you’re doing now, for example.”

“Picking a fight?” Ruth said disbelievingly. “Is that what I’m doing?”

“Well, you are the one who brought it up,” said Phoebe.

Yolande tucked the wool cards under one arm and took Stuart in the other. “Come on, Stu-baby, time to go home,” she said while making haste from the Square.

“What you call ‘picking a fight’ is the least that I and anyone else who cares around here has to do to get anyone to talk,” said Ruth. “What are you all afraid of, anyway?”

“We’re not ‘afraid of’ anything except giving you lot the idea that there is anything to talk about involving your God. Just who are you to decide what anyone should be talking about around here, anyway?” demanded Miriam.

“Maybe we do it out of concern for your souls,” Ruth offered, still just as composed as ever above her array of slender knitting needles and two-ply yarn. “Maybe we want you to start talking about what led to the Plague because we don’t want you to suffer eternal damnation in Hell for your actions.”

Charlinder wanted to run home and bury himself under a pile of Eileen Woodlawn’s writings, but one look at Phoebe’s face showed him what he felt: they just couldn’t look away.

Miriam began laughing again. “And who’s going to tell us what kind of behavior is going to send us to Hell? You?” she scoffed. “That is, assuming your promises of Heaven and Hell are places that really exist, which I’m far from convinced they are, but you know how I really feel about what caused the Plague, and what your God may have had to do with it?”

“No, Miriam, tell me how you really feel,” Ruth said flatly.

“I just don’t care one way or the other. I don’t see why anyone gives a lamb’s tail about what caused a disease that snuffed itself out almost a hundred-twenty years ago, when we have much more important things to do than argue over what might have happened. The Plague is in the past; it is history. We need to take care of the present, and if you have enough time on your hands to be quibbling about something that far in the past, then you’re not doing enough to get this farm moving into the future.”

Phoebe looked extremely impressed with Miriam’s rant, but Ruth was unfazed.

“But what kind of future will we have if we just make the same mistakes that brought God’s anger on our ancestors? How many of us will survive another Plague?”

“And again I ask,” Miriam continued, “Who are you to know what any supposed God wants us to do, any more than the rest of us? And have you ever found it a little strange how your whole argument for why we should love God, and worship Him, and build our lives around bending to His will and honoring His divine plan, is that He supposedly brought about a disease that killed over six and a half billion people in less than two years? Have you ever considered how that looks to those of us who aren’t impressed with your reasoning for why God even exists in the first place? Any God who would do that to His creations for disobeying a moral code that He never even bothered to communicate to them is, as far as I care, not a God who deserves even our respect, much less our worship.”

This time, even Ruth was shocked. She finally blinked and recovered her voice enough to say, “There doesn’t have to be any mystery in what God expects from us. It’s a pity that none of our original survivors left a Bible in good enough condition to last this long, but all you have to do is pray, and listen to what He says.”

“Except I don’t think you, or any of the other Faithful, want us to pray,” Miriam told her. “You don’t want us to listen to voices only we can hear, and you don’t want us to discuss what we think may have happened over a hundred years ago. You want us to listen to you. And that’s why the rest of us don’t want to have this conversation. It doesn’t matter why our ancestors saw all their family and friends die of the Plague, because at this point, there’s nothing we can do to change the fact that it happened. Arguing about what they did to bring that disease on themselves isn’t going to make our children’s lives any easier or better. The only people who have any reason to care about why the Plague happened are long since dead.”

“I see I’m wasting my breath on you,” said Ruth, with a slight expression of awe.

“You’ve been wasting your breath on everyone who’s been sitting here, honey,” Miriam confirmed.

Ruth speared her ball of yarn on the ends of her needles and stood up. Before she walked away, however, she looked at Charlinder. “She never could explain how she knew it was safe to go outside, could she?”

“I don’t think she was ever really concerned about that,” Charlinder answered.

“No, she may not have been concerned. But she still never managed to explain it, even after she described it in her diary,” Ruth reminded him, and finally walked away.

“What was that about? Who is ‘she’?” asked Phoebe.

There was no way it could be anyone else. “Eileen Woodlawn.”

Novel Publicity Blog Tour Notes:

Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of Charlinder’s Walk? Well, there are two ways to enter…

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Charlinder’s Walk tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! You can enter on the official Charlinder’s Walk tour page.

About the author: Alyson Miers was born into a family of compulsive readers and thought it would be fun to get on the other side of the words. She attended Salisbury University, where she majored in English Creative Writing for some reason, and minored in Gender Studies. In 2006, she did the only thing a 25-year-old with a B.A. in English can do to pay the rent: joined the Peace Corps. At her assignment of teaching English in Albania, she learned the joys of culture shock, language barriers and being the only foreigner on the street, and got Charlinder off the ground. She brought home a completed first draft in 2008 and, between doing a lot of other stuff such as writing two other books, she managed to ready it for publication in 2011. She regularly shoots her mouth off at her blog, The Monster’s Ink, when she isn’t writing fiction or holding down her day job. She lives in Maryland with her computer and a lot of yarn. Connect with Alyson on her website,blog, Facebook,Twitter or GoodReads.

Get Charlinder’s Walk on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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Little Women

Thr first copy I ever owned of Little Women…I still have it.

This was a childhood favourite.

Maybe because my own world was a little topsy turvy did it seems the the world of the March’s was a lovley place to inhabit.

Their trials were there for sure…but the loving unit they presented…it seemed a magical place to inhabit to me.

So it was with great expectations that I opened the first page.

By page two I knew I was in trouble.

A more detailed version.

The characters are still great. I still adore Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy. Mr Lawrence still makes me smile…but.

Perhaps because I am now an adult and cynical the truly GOOD parts of the book seem a little fanciful to me now.

The women I know marry the rich guy and end up bitter and twisted. A beloved sister dying doesn’t open up the writer’s soul in another but sends her in to a drunken spiral.

Yet I was not giving up. Tempted as I was to return to reading theThe Dead Sea Scrolls Deception” I persisted.

Somewhere around Amy falling in to the icy pond and Mr Lawrence delivering his dead daughter’s piano to Beth it began.

The magic.

The March’s world settled lightly upon my mind and its tendrils wound their way in to my soul once more and I remembered.

I struggled with the girls as they tried to be selfless. I understood their questions about what their places in their world meant to them and to others. My heart grasped their great love for their parents and the drive to win their love and approval.

I relearned some old lessons. Not to give up too easily. To search for the shadowy nuances that they can reveal themselves to you. I remembered that there is good everywhere if we push aside the curtain to reveal it to ourselves.

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Thank you for all your support.

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Rebecca

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

As I read the opening line to Rebecca a haze formed around me, the lights drifted away, the sounds of life as I know it dissipated and I fell in to the world Daphne Du Maurier created in this wonderful novel.

“It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes to the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.”

From Rebecca.

And I was just as lost with those opening paragraphs as I had been the first time I read Rebecca.

As a child I identified with the narrator as she stumbled her way from Monte Carlo to her new life at Manderley as the new bride of Max De Winter.

Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine from the 1940 film.

The house was a sepulchre, our fear and suffering lay buried in the ruins. There would be no resurrection. When I thought of Manderley in my waking hours I would not be bitter. I should think of it as it might have been, could I have lived there without fear. I should remember the rose-garden in summer, and the birds that sang at dawn. Tea under the chestnut tree, and the murmur of the sea coming up to us from the lawns below.

From Rebecca.

This truly is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. It held me as I floated along side the narrator through the pains of young love, the uncertainty of fitting in, the dark gloom of imagining yourself unworthy when compared to someone who came before.

Reminders of Rebecca are everywhere.

She was in the house still as Mrs. Danvers had said, she was in that room in the west wing, she was in the library, in the morning-room, in the gallery above the hall. Even in the little flower-room, where her mackintosh still hung. And in the garden, and in the woods, and down in the stone cottage on the beach. Her footsteps sounded in the corridors, her scent lingered on the stairs. The servants obeyed her orders still, the food we ate was the food she liked. Her favourite flowers filled the rooms. Her clothes were in the wardrobes in her room, her brushes were on the table, her shoes beneath the chair, her nightdress on her bed. Rebecca was still the mistress of Manderley.

From Rebecca.

The narrator with Mrs Danvers (the housekeeper)

But it is much more than that.

A dark gloomy horror story. Manderley itself breathes and lives and the love, the hate, the tragedy can be felt in every vase and painting, even under the trees that shade the rose garden.

Some have said that the narrator’s character is insipid. I disagree. Maybe because I know her fears.

I love this book today as much as I did back then.

As proof…I still have the original book from my first reading.

Great writing never gets old, or dated, it just floats through generations like a supernatural spirit.

Oh and BTW…the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie is a must see. He brings out every nuance that Du Maurier penned in to her words.

On a slightly different note…those of you who know me will understand the necessity of including this. As I Googled for images of Rebecca…well TBs are just darn well everywhere…I found this !

TBs from Supernatural. Not sure what this has to do with Rebecca…you’d need to ask Google.

This is the start of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca…not only read the book…watch the movie.

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Black Beauty

Black Beauty was one of the first books I remember reading as a child.

As a child I loved the fact that the story was told from Beauty’s POV.

I’ve read that when Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty she hoped to highlight the terrible conditions that horses worked under during her lifetime.

Anna Sewell

The book is a narration through Beauty’s life from a colt to old horse, and he goes from well loved pet at Squire Gordon’s to taxi cab horse to eventual retirement in the country.

I was eager to get in to the story. Perhaps because my first book for this challenge Born Free was still such a delight to read as an adult.

Sadly I did not get the same feeling with Black Beauty, and at times had to force myself to continue reading.

The story did not hold the same magic. It is well told, but Black Beauty is told in more simplistic language and therefore perhaps better suited to a younger audience.

I still felt sadness at the turns Beauty’s life took, and empathetic toward horses in general at a time when animal welfare was not known or cared about as it is today.

Black Beauty is in my opinion a great book for younger readers. There is a simple charm to the tale, and I can imagine that younger readers would still feel the magic I did at their age.

The book just doesn’t cross over well though for adult readers.

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What I thought of Scorpio Rising

They say that adversity makes you stronger. If that is true then the characters of Alex Ivanov and Brigitte Dartois are two of the strongest characters you’ll likely ever meet.

I really enjoyed Scorpio Rising and read it in a couple of days. I would have read it in one sitting had the laptop been at home, because I immediately felt varying emotional pulls for these two.

You just want things to work out for these characters.

I guess it has to do with our urge to root for the underdog.

Many writers have used this in their books, and it can be cliche – luckily in Scorpio Rising, Monique Domovitch has resisited the temptation to go there. Her characters remain believable and sympathetic.

Alex is driven to put the life of poverty behind him, and from a very young age works harder than some adults I’ve known to achieve that. You sense the drive in him the way the words race across the page with the urgency Alex feels.

Brigitte’s story is tragically realistic. I just wanted to pick her up and drag her home to protect her.

The courses they are traveling eventually bring them in to contact, and again Monique delighted me by not going straight down the cliched road.

This book's author did...

Their interaction is interesting, and had me hooked.

The struggles life puts us through are what will usually eventually define us. Sometimes for good, and sometimes for bad. And the wires can get crossed so easily. Monique has created both a world and characters that epitomise just that conundrum of life and the journeys we take through it.

Monique Domovitch - Author Scorpio Rising

So for now…

The Sting of the Scorpio.

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To read an excerpt from the book click here: Scorpio Rising

The Spiritkeeper

Quite early on when I started to blog, I found a website that drew me back – each time reading new chapters the writer had posted from her novel.

I began to comment on her personal blog, and luckily for me a cyber friendship was born.

I think I became obsessed with the tale.

Okay I did become obsessed.

We ALL know I do that !!!

But – it only went to chapter 11.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Eventually Lynn Biederstadt posted chapters 12 & 13.

At this time I went into total withdrawal mode. I HAD to know what happened.

Lynn then did something amazing- she allowed me to read The Spiritkeeper in its entirety.

I read it that night. I cried for an hour before I could e-mail her back to tell her my opinion. She asked me if I would write a review for her and I am honoured to have been given this task.

My hope is that Lynn will get this book where it belongs – into the public arena being read.

These are my thoughts on a book that will remain a lifelong favourite.

***

Sometimes a tale comes into your life that reaches a place you had not previously recognised.

The Spiritkeeper is such a tale.

As your eyes trace the words on the page you are drawn into the drama that is David Emory. You walk the lonely country roads with him; you feel the soft thread pass along your fingertips as he weaves at his loom. The weight of his burden sometimes crushes your chest.

In a tale so dominated by David, it is surprising how much presence the other characters exude.

Eli – the friend we wish we all had.

Marjorie and Martha – the lionesses masquerading as elderly ladies.

Jon – lethally vindictive.

Ty – charismatically monstrous in his selfishness.

McGill Forester – famished for truth.

As McGill pursues the truth about David Emory, she is faced with acknowledging the truth about herself.

In my first reading of the Spiritkeeper I had to control the urge to skip to endings. Paragraph endings, chapter endings, the book ending, because I do that when I am caught in a really great tale.

I savoured every word as I fought the urge to turn the page.

David Emory’s tale is the love story that drives us all to take risks.

Lynn Biederstadt has masterfully breathed life into these pages, these characters. They live and swirl around your brain, stepping out of the pages and existing as you fall deeper and deeper into their story.

Closing the last page my derelict heart crooned with an immeasurable sense of promise.

The ending is both a startling surprise, and as inevitable as the cycle of rain.

It is the book that you should never lend out – for fear you may never get it back.

Black Like Me

My old battered, but much loved copy.

It was the summer I turned fourteen that I wandered into a dusty book shop in Maroubra.

The shop itself was almost hidden in a small dingy mall. The windows were grimy; a fag hung from the mouth of the shop assistant as she sat on a stool behind the counter.

Her eyes were dull, and her bored glance quickly left my face as she seemed to classify me as unworthy of any effort.

Against the wall was a table. It held the cheaper throwaways. The books no-one wants. Not even the shop. Those sorts of tables were one of my favourite places.

It lay under a stack of other books, all much thicker. As I uncovered it, I felt a sharp inhale of breath open up my chest. The cover was – startling.

A man’s face – half white, half black, slashed like a torn page – stared out at me.

This thin paperback changed me irrevocably.

I read it that night. It was late when I finished.

Dad was asleep and snoring.

It seemed the whole world was sleeping.

More than just literally.

John Howard Griffen was a white, middle-aged writer who lived in Texas. He was an unusual white man for his time, because he was committed to racial equality.

Trying to understand the world the American Negro lives in he decides to become just that.

He takes medication, goes under a sun lamp, and gradually his skin tone changes to that of a Negro. He then heads for the South, busing and hitchhiking through Alabama and Mississippi.

With each page I was taken further into the world of racial prejudice. Where searching for a ‘coloured’ restroom can become an important and urgent predicament.

He experiences the ‘hate stare’ that comes for no reason from white Americans toward Negros. He is refused service simply because he is now coloured man.

Everywhere he travels the word ‘nigger’ is thrown at him.

For a time he allows his skin colour to lighten and visits places both as a Negro, and as a white man.

It is during this time that he notices how when he is white he is treated generously by other whites and with suspicion by Negros.

As a black man, he experiences contempt from the white population, and overwhelming generosity from the Negros.

Eventually he returns home.

As the story of his experiment spreads he becomes the target of racial hatred. An effigy of him is burned in his hometown, and he moves his family away.

Black Like Me was a horror story to this fourteen year old girl from Sydney, Australia. Yes – we too had racism. The Aboriginals did not have it much better during that time in Australia.

But I had grown into my teenage years protected and cosseted from this ugly side of human nature.

I thought that all peoples were afforded the same opportunities. This book taught me that life was black and white at times.

I had never thought that black/yellow/red skinned people were lesser than I was. I had also assumed that everyone thought that way.

Ignorant – yes.

Naïve – yes.

Black Like Me had another effect.

It taught me to hope.

For every white clad, pointy hat wearing racist, there were also good people from all sides who wanted change.

I love to read.

Anything.

A lot.

But this thin paperback is the book that has had the most influence on my character.

It is also still in my bookcase.

It should be in yours.

Living Oprah

A few weeks ago a friend mailed a copy of Living Oprah to me. One day I must ask her why she thought I needed to read it.

It took a while for me to get around to reading it. The whole premise of the book actually put me off.

Why oh why would anyone want to live by every piece of advice issued on the Oprah show for a year?

I have to admit to skipping over the monthly accounting most of the time. I just got bored with those pages.

Socially it is possibly a good experiment – not one I would EVER like to have a go at. My wallet couldn’t take it for a start.

Before I go any further I would like to say this.

Her husband is a saint !!!!!!!!

Have I watched Oprah?

Damn right I have.

Did I realise the woman had a lot of influence?

Yep.

But I never realised just how insidious her influence is. It extends into so many areas of peoples’ lives.

Oprah can either tell us herself, or find an authority to bring on to her show for any situation in our lives.

We can learn how to live healthier, richer (both pocket-wise and spiritually), happier lives as long as we tune in on the right day.

When Oprah endorses something, sales go through the roof, or they get elected President of the USA.

The book certainly reinforces what I already knew, or thought I knew.

I wish I could say I closed the last page understanding what the experiment and book was all about. But all I was left with was thinking ‘what a strange way to live for a year – letting someone else make all your decisions.

Then I remembered being married for a while. Oops.

Still – if her book sells well, at least she won’t be so out of pocket.