Saturday, October 25, 2014

Writing Prompts

Writers Digest has some pretty interesting prompts to help with that nasty writer's block.  There are so many times when I have no idea what to write about, or even how to start a story.  I have been trying to improve my writing in various different ways and these prompts are very helpful and some of them are rather interesting.  Here are a few of my favorite ones:

You wake up feeling refreshed, a new day a new— wait your favorite pair of pants is missing. Darting up from bed you hear a noise outside. A woman is wearing them and looking straight at you. What do you do?

The wizard’s terror bolt lances overhead. You shout back to your party that you’re going in. Dagger held high and ice shard at the ready you tear towards the dastardly spell caster. How does your fight play out?

You’re in an epic pun off; whit is spewing out of your mouth and your opponent’s mouth with punishing purpose. What are some sweet puns you could use to really wipe the smile off your opponent’s face? Make sure not to frown on the worst of puns either—they’re all beautiful. Write this scene and battle of puns.

The last one makes me think of James Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake because it was written in complete puns and makes completely no sense.  I have a feeling that is where my story would end up, I could come up with something interesting to myself, but would absolutely no sense what so ever. Sometimes I wonder how some of my favorite authors like Ted Dekker or Sherrilyn Kenyon have battled writer's block and made their stories into the masterpieces they are.  Did they struggle the way I do when they began writing?  How about you guys, how do you deal with writer's block?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Inheritance: Judith MIchael

Inheritance: Judith Michael
Source: Hardcover
Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: When their parents pass away, Laura and Clay Fairchild are taken in by their step brother Ben, who trains them in the art of thievery.  Ben formulates this plan to set up the owners of a hotel chain in order to avenge his father.  Unfortunately Laura strikes up a friendship with Owen, the family patriarch.  Owen takes Laura under his wing and is rewarded with her undying devotion.  Laura finds everything she is searching for; including the love of a good man, Paul.  When contesting the Owen's will Felix Salinger (a family member of Owen's therefore owner of the Salinger hotels) tries to use Laura's dark past as a thief to thrust her out of anything Owen may have left for her.

In order to regain her reputation and legacy, Laura strives to make her own hotel chain that rivals the Salinger chain.  Ben does a little more to make his mark among the family, though his means are not as noble and honorable as Laura's may be.  A sudden twist of fate changes everything and threaten to ruin everything they have worked towards.  Is Laura going to lose everything she has ever loved and desired throughout her life?  Will she be able to regain the love of an extraordinary man?

Review:  I found this novel on my mom's reading shelf.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to read a romance novel my mom had, somehow that seemed a little creepy.  But I decided to read it anyway, and boy am I glad, it helped begin my love for romance novels.  It isn't the typical romance novel that centers around sex, it is one that centers around the actual relationship between two people.  I also love that Judith Michael is actually a husband/wife team.

There are times when the plot seems to be predictable, but it is a good kind of predictable.  The characters and setting are so vivid and precise that it seems as though you are there beside Laura as she goes through her trials, happiness and lose.  You will not want to put it down because it is so eloquently written.  We witness Laura's character literally change from a young woman willing to do anything to survive, to a strong woman willing to do anything to remain devoted to her legacy and honor.  She does everything in her power to overcome her dark past to rewrite her future.  This writing team does a amazing job at creating a main character the readers both love and hate.  There are times when you cheer and root for her, but then they are times when you just feel so disappointed in her actions and choices.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this novel some are expected some are not.  It will have you awake at night turning the pages not wanting to put it down.  It leaves you wanting more from all the characters not just Laura, Ben and Paul.  Granted it is a novel that was published several years ago, but it is also one of those novels that are timeless and will continue to entertain readers for years to come.

More From Judith Michael:


                                                                                

Monday, October 20, 2014

Styxx

"Styxx"  (Dark Hunters):  Sherrilyn Kenyon;  media source: paperback.  Rating 5 out of 5 stars.

We have all met Styxx throughout the other novels, but never got his story, nor completely understand him.  I don't know about other readers but I have always wondered what made him the man he was.  Who was Styxx really other than Acheron's twin brother?  We never seen him for who he truly was, until now.  There is so much that happens in this novel that it would take forever to give you a synopsis.

In order to protect her son, Acheron's mother had another goddess hide his unborn body into the womb of a queen.  A queen who happened to have already been pregnant which her own child.  When the two boys were born, there was a visible difference between the two.  One was marked as a god, Acheron.  The other was not marked.  When Styxx's father seen Ash, he accused his wife of infidelity and disowned Acheron as his son.  In doing so he also marked distrust and hatred towards Styxx.  Xerxes find ways to punish Acheron for whatever he felt is disrespectful or other things deserving of a punishment.  Unknown to him, Styxx felt everything that Acheron felt. Styxx spent his time agonizing over Acheron as kids, even more so after Acheron was sent away to live with their uncle.  An uncle who did unspeakable things to Acheron.  Styxx quickly learned of these things, when Estes decides to "break Styxx in" he learns exactly how bad things were for Acheron.  throughout his lie Styxx gets tortured by various gods in various ways, mainly Apollo who marks him as his own.  Then Apollo marries his sister and his life is made even more miserable.  Who would have thought that Styxx' life would be seen as miserable.

All the while Styxx falls in love with a beautiful woman he meets by the river, but he doesn't reveal who he truly is and we learn that both are keeping secrets.  Throughout the novel he meets up with
her secretly  slowly building a life together.  He goes to war where he is miraculously the only general to have success against the Atlantians.  Throughout the novels gods and men alike pin after Styxx and he can hear those thoughts.  Left over residual from being born alongside Acheron?  Flash forward a bit.  Someone kills Styxx's sister and Apollo is furious and both Ash and Styxx are killed (are they really?) Apolloymi (Ash's dear mother) goes crazy and kill or turns the gods and goddesses of her pantheon into statues.  Again a lot happens throughout the novel, too much to give a detailed synopisis of what happens, so I am leaving some things, but that gives you all the more reason to read the novel.


So Styxx dies, but not really cause he can only die if Ash dies and well, Ash can't die.  Flash forward a bit more and Styxx is greeted by Dionysus and another god of the Celtic pantheon.  Both want Styxx' help to kill Acheron which he gladly jumps at. Of course they are unable to follow through with their plan, but end up angering Acheron and we see just what that man in capable of.  As we go on Styxx is miserable with the loss of his beloved Beth and their unborn child, but makes a friend in one of Acheron's warriors: Urian.  Off and on Styxx is asked to help Acheron, which he does for various reasons.    Through deductive reasoning Simi; Acheron's Charonte demon realizes who Styxx's beloved is and tries to reunite them cause all hell to break loose.  Styxx is happy again, he finds out the true reason he can hear the thoughts of those around him, as well who Urian truly is.

There is a ton that happens as I said a few times throughout this, and it is a rather thick book, but it is an AMAZING book.  I loved the Acheron focused installment of the series, and I love this one just as much.  Kenyon quickly became one of my favorite authors and she never ceases to amaze me.  The novel is full of strong emotions radiating off the pages from Styxx.  Who knew he was such a passionate character?  We didn't really see that in the glimpses of him that we have seen thus far.  This story paired with Acheron shows there are always two sides to a story.  The twins hated each other for what they thought the other felt and thought, when what they perceived was not the truth.  Styxx' character endures so much throughout the novel  he becomes a completely different character by the end of the novel than he was in the beginning.  We watch as he becomes broken down, but picks himself back up again.  He is not the spiteful conniving character we tend to think he is, far from it. 

From the moment I picked up my first book from Kenyon I was hooked, I believe I have all her novels including those from the League series, though I am missing some of those.  I cannot get enough of her writing, she is simply amazing. She gives us characters that we continuously want more from.  After reading Styxx and Acheron, I kind of want a novel on Ryssa (the sister) as well as Urian, among so many others.  I cannot wait to get my hands on another one of her novels.  If you haven't read any of her novels yet, not just Styxx, do so.  You will not be disappointed.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Graveyward Shift

Graveyard Shift (Reapers Inc series; book 1) by Angela Raquet.  Source: Kindle edition.  Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Lana is a reaper, I wouldn't call her a lousy one, but she does as little as she can without causing troubles, sometimes.  She spends most of her time hanging out with Gabriel, yep the archangel himself, at a local bar called Purgatory.  But while at the annual ball, she learns of a shocking promotion and information that could change the very fabric of Limbo, even Inferno itself.  She now needs to scour the earth looking a perfect soul, one that would save the realm as they know it.  Without the soul, all could be lost, but Lana and her team are not the only ones searching for the soul.  There are others who want nothing more than to see her mission fail.  What is so special about Lana, that only she can be able to find this soul?

I highly enjoyed reading this book.  I downloaded it as a change of scenery so to speak as lately I have been reading a lot of the same genre.  I was interested in it from the beginning.  I enjoyed the take on the afterlife as being set up as a small realm of its own with its own residents interacting with each other and specific faiths having their own "island" so to speak.  No pantheon is left out in this one and I love it.  The main character is one we can all love for many reasons, one being that she bends the rules so that she may be able to help the souls she has harvested.  The development we see in this character is fantastic.  In the beginning Lana despises her job and does the bare minimum, she doesn't consider herself much of anything special.  But as the story progresses and she learns about her quest; the true story of Limbo,  and herself; she changes quite a bit and becomes a strong courageous character.

The Grim Reaper, I found to be an interesting character, I never imagined him as a corporate big wig. His personality wasn't what I would expect of the Grim Reaper, but then again I have never met the creature so how would I know what it's personality is like.  He seemed to be standoffish, reluctant to inform his employees of the dangers they are getting into with the mission he provides.  The book portrays him as only caring about the money and not where the souls go after they care collected, even seems reluctant to pay his employees their fair share of profits. Almost like he wants to stick to a minimum wage.  But I liked his character.  I liked that he was something different than what has been done in the past with a character of similar standing.  At first he seemed to not like Lana, but she grew on him as the time progresses and he begins to actually care about her well being (so we think, but then are proven otherwise). He seemed to almost have had a soul himself and that is not normally an aspect of Grim that one includes in Grim Reaper characters.

There are plenty of things throughout this novel that make it unique from other novels that I have read in the past and recently alike.  Each character has their own personalities, opinions and characteristics that make them their own even if we have seen them in other things such as the Grim Reaper and even Gabriel.  She makes them her own characters, I almost forgot Gabe was an archangel which was refreshing in its own right.  The way she describes things is its own.  She doesn't spend time focusing on describing everything, but when she does it is precise and to the point, and yet in such vivid detail that you can almost feel as if you are here beside Lana the whole time.  Her battle scenes with the pirates, I felt like I was on the ship with Lana fighting them off and the fear of getting demon acidic blood on me, the ship or anything else.  Made me want to be there and be a reaper or even at least meet her.

This was a fantastic read, I didn't want to put it down for a minute.  I cannot wait to be able to download all the other books and read the series to see what is next for Lana and her crew.  Pick it up today in kindle version or even in paperback.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

MoonGlow

Moonglow: Kristen Callihan; Darkest London series; release date 2012
                    paranormal romance: source: Paperback
Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Summary: With the death of her husband, Daisy Ellis can finally live the life she desires, one with freedom to do as she pleases.  Until suddenly a series of mysterious murders come knocking on her door causing her to narrowly miss being attacked by a creature thought to be lore: a werewolf.  This causes her to fall into the arms of someone even more mysterious for safety: Ian Ranulf.  Ian tries to live his life hiding from society, almost in a hermit like nature. He is the Marques of Northrup, but there are times when it seems as though he wishes he could be of a different heritage.

But the murders that are sweeping through London are threatening to expose his deepest secrets he longs to hide. Ian and Daisy work together to quickly find the source behind the dreadful murders: the identity of the werewolf.  As they do so and are in close proximity to one another, they being to fall in love.  Although both are hiding things from one another, could those secrets be more dangerous to each other than the terror that threatens the night?  Daisy's sister Miranda and her husband Archer (formerly a good friend of Ian) know the secrets Ian is desperately trying to hide. Could their knowledge expose Ian to Daisy before he is ready to reveal who he truly is?


Review:  This is a novel I won from a giveaway at Goodreads; and I have to say if I did not win the novel I would have gone out and bought it. I went out and bought her other novel Firelight right after I read this one.  Callihan takes us into the darkest streets of London (hence the series name duh).  Both of her main characters have a secret and their own horrid past they are desperately trying to hide from the world and in turn each other.  Ian, himself, fights a daily war with himself regarding his secrets and his past.  But could that be his ultimate downfall?

The plot to the story was rather interesting in itself.  Murders being done by a werewolf we have seen before in different formats.  Werewolves are nothing new, and I admit I thought "not another werewolf story." She takes something so familiar and changes it into something of her own, and makes it seem new.  In "Moonglow", this werewolf's motive is simply killing women who have the same scent.  One that he is drawn to for one reason or another (and no I won't tell you because that just takes away from you reading it).  It was well written and well thought out, she stands her own ground in this genre and does a phenomenal job at it.

The story she creates captivates her audience from beginning to end, and then leaves them wanting more.  She had added to my addiction to not only reading, but also paranormal romance.  Once you open the book you step into a new world, or rather a new London.  I enjoye reading this novel and suggest it to others and look forward to reading more of her work.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Apologies

My Apologies, I am undergoing some construction with the site and myself.  I apologies for the lack of postings.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Roald Dahl



Happy Birthday Mr. Roald Dahl!!  Roald Dahl is the author of many beloved children's stories such as The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and so many more.  Many of us may have read something of his as a child or seen movies based from his books.  He influenced so many other authors and made a difference in children literature.  We need more authors like him.

                                                  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Books to Read

A List Of Books has complied a list of books that should be read.  They complied top books from various different lists to condense it all into 1 giant master list.  There are 623 books listed and they challenge by asking "can you collect them all?"  (I admit the pokemon theme song just ran through my head with this one).  Now I haven't finished scanning this list of books but there are a good deal on the list that I do own, or have read at some point in my life and probably should re-read such as George Orwell's "1984"  Rereading it now rather than when I was a sophomore in high school, I might have a different viewpoint on it that I did back them.  Of the 623 books on this list I have read roughly 70 of them.  That doesn't really seem like I have read many but there are plenty of books I want to read and are on my list such as War and Peace.

I like looking at different lists of books to read because it always gives me a good idea of books that I can add to my collection, or even books I can pick up at the local library.  They always give me ideas of books that I would like to read, books that I haven't heard of, but that sound crazy interesting.  This list gave me several books that I need to add to my too read list; which is ever growing and never dwindling.  I always want to have books that need to be read.  With a list as long as mine, I think I need to get reading!  I will never end.

What are some books on your to read list or even on your top 10 must read?   Let me know.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bringing Reading Back

I have a baby shower this weekend and the momma asked that along with the general gift most people get that we would also bring a book.  She would like to start reading to her daughter and have things for her to get interested in reading at an early age.  I simply love this idea.  I think too often parents have neglected the encouragement of reading for various different reasons.  It is part of the parents' job to spark the love of books and literature in all aspects (yes I include comics and graphic novels as literature and would encourage my kid to read comics because hey they are reading).    We can do silly voices or let our kids do the voices to encourage their creativity.

We live in a society were video games, computers, television are the power houses in youth entertainment.  Reading has become something that is looked upon with disgust and things I read as a child are no longer what holds their attention.  I commend authors like J.K Rowling who have sparked a reading frenzy with the Harry Potter series.  Kids, teens, and adults all rushed to read the novels as with Stephanie Myers with "Twilight Sage."  There are others who also are sparking an interest in reading amongst teens, and that is a trend that needs to continue and start younger. 

Rather than bring sexy back...let bring reading back!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Comes a Horseman

I picked this book up on a whim, every time I passed it something about the jacket cover called out to me, telling me  it would be a good read.  It was not 100% of what I was expecting.  Although I am not sure what exactly I was expecting from a book with Comes a Horseman as the title. Regardless, I picked up the book and it took me a few days to really get into the storyline, the beginning parts seems a lot like something else I have read in the past.  Almost right off the bat there seems to be so much going on, there is a murder mystery, a love story, and even a religious aspect and more, could it have possibly had too much going on all at once?


Brad Moore and Alicia Wagner are new detectives assigned to one of the biggest cases for their careers, the Pelletier Killings.  A string of murders that seem to have nothing in common.  As they delve deeper into the case, they realize the connection is something personal and deep rooted, a near death experience.    Now they have an idea of the murder connections they need to no figure out how to predict the killer's next move.  Soon they come to find out they are on his list, and must find him to bring him to justice all while trying to avoid his deadly axe.  While all of this is happening, in Israel Luco Scaramuzzi is working with Father Randall to convince a group of people known as the Watchers that he is the anti-christ.  They try to facilitate things to make sure Luco fits everything the prophecies predict.  He eliminates anyone who opposes him or gets in his way of achieving this goal.


Comes a Horseman merges both ancient prophecies and distorted religious viewpoints to bring about a story that is compelling and thrilling.  It was difficult to really get into the story at times.  This was probably one of the harder books for me to get through.  I was expecting more with the horsemen of the apocalypse, and was surprised with the references to Valhalla in the novel.  I wasn't sure where Robert was taking that story but I was pleasantly surprised.  The images Robert portrayed were well done and pulled the audience into the story.  I could almost see the severed heads of the victims.  Something I did find interesting in this story was the use of the computer equipment to process the crime scenes.  That is an element that I haven't seen in too many mystery novels, so it was a nice change of pace.

While I didn't think twice about borrowing this novel from the library, I don't think it will be one that I am adding to my shelves.  While it was an enjoyable book and I enjoyed the novel, it wasn't what i expected nor was it up to par with other Christian thriller authors like Ted Dekker whom he is compared to quite often.


Pros: Unexpected character development, vivid imagry
Cons: Moves along slow, seems like something else I've read
Bottom-line: I would recommend it if you want something good to read, but not if you want something fast paced.

Rating: 35. out of 5 stars

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Into the Woods

The cover to this book is what attracted me to it to begin with.  The branch like design made me wonder what it was about and what woods or trees could do with the story I read on the back cover.  I was drawn in based off the cover.  I did not expect the story that I found when I opened the book and began to read.

The story follows Detective Rob Ryan as he works on a case of a murdered child.  The case takes place in a town he grew up in.  He struggles with his own obsessiveness over this case and the possible link to another unsolved case involving 2 missing children, from the same area.  Could the cases be related, could this be a murder of convenience, or is someone trying to get a message across to the leader of a protest group.  There are so many questions that arise with this case including the possibility of cult related sacrifices because she was found placed on an ancient druid alter by an archeologist. 

The story opens up on the background of the missing children case.  Three children go into the woods and don’t return.  Once a search party is assembled they find one of the boys clinging to a tree, with blood in his shoes and brusies, and cuts.  The other 2 children are not found.  The young boy grows up hiding from the media and unable to remember anything that happened that day in the woods.  He grows up and becomes successful as a detective.  He is none other than Detective Ryan.  As our detective investigates the murder in his home town, he begins to remember little things about that day and the days leading up to it.  But he cannot remember what exactly happens.  As he becomes obsessed with the case, he throws himself at various different angles trying to find a solution to the case, even if it means grasping at straws.  Detective Ryan gets swept up into his own world that he makes mistakes and doesn’t pick up on subtle hints about the case.  He makes minor mistakes that come back to bite him in the butt. 

Once the detectives begin their investigation you as the reader find yourself trying to figure out who the murderer is as well.  There are numerous hints throughout the novel, that if you pick up on them you can figure out who committed the crime and why it happened.  Throughout the novel French drops little hints leading to the murderer while also leading away from that person.  The way French describes things is exceptional.  I was able to picture the small Irish towns and the places the detectives visited.  It was a great imagery based novel.  A lot of the time when a novel focuses a lot on images, the story gets lost, but this is not one of those novels.  This is one of those novels that makes you want more from the story, makes you want to know what happens next.

The backstory with the missing children seemed like it would be more important to the story line other than Detective Ryan’s connection to it.  I was a little let down the nothing progressed with it, such as them finding out some more information or even finding out where the children could have gone.  That is the only thing I would have to complain about this novel.  It let loose ends linger.  Maybe she addresses that in another novel, I might have to see.

Pros:Compelling story, great characters and imagery.
Cons: Questions linger on some of the storyline

Bottom Line: I would highly recommend this to anyone who needs a good read

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Character Profiles

I stumbled upon and interesting blog recently: Creative Writing Now.  It was created by writing teachers as a free service to authors and poets to help hone their skills whether you are just beginning or are a seasoned writer.  There is something for everyone on this site; I found numerous things that are going to be helpful to me in expanding out of my comfort zone with my writing.

One of the posts that I found incredibly interesting and helpful was a questionnaire for writing character profiles.  There are things on the questionnaire that I didn't think about when I have written stories in the past such as "Consideration of other, how he/she views him/herself, how others view him/her"  and other things like temper and strongest/weakest personality traits are things I never really considered when I thought of my characters, but there are things that are incredibly important when developing your characters.  There are so many things that go into writing a character that people would love to read about (or love to hate) everything on this list brings those aspects out and into the character you want to develop.  It makes them more human in a sense.  The additional questions provided at the bottom are a little interesting because they are things that make up the character and who they are even if it doesn't come up in the story at all.

Any writer wants to have a character that appeals to their readers and some of the most memorable novels/stories I have read all include powerful characters in one way for another.  The helpful questionnaire provided by Creative Writing Now, helps make you think of the character you want to create and aspect of that character that are portrayed through their dialogue and actions.  It is important to have those characteristics in mind even if readers don't see it as blatantly as they would other aspects; its part of what makes reading so enjoyable.  I am definitely going to be using this questionnaire for my characters and see how that changes my writing.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Discussion

Not too long ago I had dinner with some old friends and had a great time catching up on life and things.  We talked about books we have been reading and discussed a few things about them.  But there were moments it felt like awkward as the book discussions got more in depth and "intellectual," and felt there was small judgment for some of the book I have read such as Harry Potter series.  A question was posed of "What is there that you can discuss about Harry Potter?"  There are plenty of things one can discuss about this novel and more.  I think you can make any novel into an intellectual discussion if you wanted to not just novels like "Atlas Shrugged."

It felt like regardless of the book you read, if it wasn't able to be discussed it didn't count as something intellectual.  Which I don't think is the case.  You can find things to discuss about any kind of book including "Hop on Pop" if you so desire.  If you put your mind to it you can find something in any book that can be applied to life or says something about society.  And that is what my friends wanted to book discussions to be, highly in depth and intellectual.  Where as I am content at reading my books for the shear fun of it.  The need for an in depth intellectual conversation tends to take away from the joy of reading, although sometimes having that is nice, but not with every single book we read.

We can't make everything we discuss or do intellectual and in depth.  There needs to be something to take our minds off of things, something to relax, distress, and just allow our minds to escape.  Reading tends to do that, but when we try to force discussion topics into our reading it tends to take away from that effect and turn reading into something completely different. A book discussion should be fun and enjoyable, not always highly intellectual and in depth.  Enjoy the book and time with friends.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintence

I have to admit when I first started to read this book I had a very difficult time getting past the first few chapters and when I did, I was beyond glad I stuck with it.  Robert Pirsig explores how we live, and meditates on how to make our lives better while pursuing our passions.  The novel is through the eyes of a father on a cross country motorcycle ride with his son.  The novel become a personal exploration and a journey through philosophical questions.    Pirsig delves into the question of what is Quality, and what gives our live Quality?

This novel is perfect for anyone to read because of Pirsig's use of something personal and fundamentally universal.   This novel won't  have you debating Kierkegaard or Nietzsche, but provides you with questions and something to reflect on and question yourself.  Never have I read a book more thought provoking and rises questions about my own life I have never thought to ask or investigate.  Pirsig address the idea that we live in a world of both Romantic and Classical, or simply put, form and function.  One of the problems with the world that Pirsig presents is that function is essential to life, but it is form that is emphasized.   When form and function work together equally then the desired Quality is obtained.

Pirsig does an excellent job presenting his thoughts and ideas to his readers.   He draws them in with a very personal story of a father and son trying to reconnect.  Through his story we see an imperfect father striving to be perfect, to discover Quality for both their lives.  It is beautifully written and a novel should be read.

Pros: Thought provoking and compelling insight
Cons::It can be difficult to begin the novel
Bottom Line: Incredibly thought provoking and interesting.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shadow of The Wind

I picked this book up on a whim, I read the synopsis online and decided to check it out.  From the first page I fell in love with the story and the characters.  It is a story of a young boy who gets wrapped up in a book while mourning the loss of his mother.  After reading this forgotten book, he goes on a quest to find out more about the author Julian Carax, only to find himself in a web of mystery surrounding this author.  He surprisingly finds out that someone has been looking for the books as well, but not to collect and read them, but to destroy them all.  He goes around talking to people who have been in contact with the author in his past.  The more he finds out the deeper he gets and the more trouble arises for him.  He learns more people are intertwined with this author than he expected.  Along the way he realizes he is in love with his best friend’s sister, which is more of a side story than a part of the bigger story.   There are several other love stories mixed in this novel as well, which takes the story off course sometimes, but at the same time adds to the beauty.

This novel is full of all kinds of twists and turns that you don’t expect are coming.  Once you think you have something figured out, such as who the person destroying the books is, you find out you are totally wrong.  There is nothing that is predictable within this novel.  You can try, but you soon find out you are wrong.  Ruiz does a wonderful job describing the character’s appearances as they change as well as their surroundings.  He pulls you into the story and setting with his words and captivates you throughout the story, never letting go.  There are aspects throughout the novel that make you wonder what importance does it have to the story, then you read father and realize those minor elements are critical to the plot line.

Ruiz creates characters you grow to love and admire.  Characters you can relate to and grow attached to and want to know more about.  The villain character is exactly that, the villain, even though he is disguised as a man of the law.  Even the minor characters are ones that you want to see more of within the novel, characters you want to have a more active role in the story.  But then again maybe some become a major player in the story.  There are certain parts in the book that don’t seem to fit the story, but they fit the character background.  It is an interesting thing for Ruiz to do, but it fits and makes the story even more enjoyable.  This novel will keep you in suspense in wondering what is going to happen next.  When will the book destroyer be revealed?  What happened to Penelope?  What is hidden in Julian Carax’ past that everyone wants to hide?

If you like mysterious and suspenseful novels, then this is a good one to pick up.  I recommend it to anyone who wants a good read, they cannot put down.  This is NOT a book that  you can finish in one day, it takes several to get through the almost 500 page novel.

Pros: Not a storyline I've read before, unique and interesting
Cons:  There are moments in the story that don't seem to fit but doesn't take from the story.

Bottom Line: This is a definite book that needs to be read.
Rating 5 out of 5

Monday, August 18, 2014

Last Unicorn

I found this novel through finding the movie.  I wanted to read the novel before I watched the movie, to see what the author intended.  It is a beautiful tale about the journey of a mystical unicorn who desires to find other unicorns.  She finds it hard to believe that she is the last of her kind.  Along the way she runs into trouble with humans wanting to tame her as an ordinary white mare.  The while she tries to sleep a witch traps her for a circus show relating to creatures of the magical arts such as dragons, harpies and of course a young wizard who can see the unicorn for what she truly is, unlike other humans.  The young Wizard helps free the unicorn for her cage and the go off together to complete her quest.

 As they journey on, the companions come across a band of bandits who wish to be like Robin Hood.  As Schmendrick fools the band, the unicorn and himself are able to escape, only to obtain one more traveler: Molly.  Molly can see the unicorn for what she is, because she’s been waiting for her all her life.  Throughout their journey they learn more about what could have happened to the other unicorns and come across a village with a mysterious prophecy.  A village haunted by the castle and the king that rules them, the king has a being that serves him, the Red Bull.  From here the unicorn and her companions try to make it to the castle only to be attacked by none other than the Red Bull.  In order to save the unicorn from being killed by the bull, Schmendrick turns her into a human.  After this happens the unicorn and her friends make it to the castle, and enter the service of the king.  They spend countless months trying to figure the riddle out and find the unicorns.  Does the unicorn find her own kind?  Can Schmendrick find his own magic to turn the unicorn back into a unicorn?  Does the village’s prophecy come true?  All these are answered in the end of the story which I don’t want to spoil for all you fine folks.

 This was a marvelous story, I am happy I picked it up.  The images of the creatures and surrounds were very well done and I can almost picture them as I was reading.  The way the author tells the story, the reader just gets lost in his world.  He weaves a fantastic tale of friendship, courage, and the desire to know one’s own self.   One of the things I loved most about this story was the author didn’t take us into the mind of a human character, sure there are humans as a part of the story, but we get the insight from one of the most beloved magical creatures.  I also enjoyed that Schmendrick’s magical talents weren’t automatic; he needed to search within himself to find his power.   There was a lot in the story about searching within yourself for what you are looking for.  I enjoyed that aspect of the story.

 The only thing I was sad about was that I didn’t find this book before now.  Everything about it was wonderful.  Peter Beagle does an excellent job at describing everything as it happens.  You can picture the white mane of the unicorn, the frightening stature of the Red Bull, even the magic Schemdrick tries to cast throughout the story.  This is the perfect for a bedtime story for children who enjoy the fantasy and magical realm.  I will be looking for other books by Mr. Beagle.  This is a book you should pick up and read, then watch the movie.

Pros: Great story; good moral
Cons: Descriptions tend to take away from the story
Bottom Line: Great story!  I recommend this to anyone who loves a good heartwarming story.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Splinterd

Alyssa Gardner is trying to hide from the no so secret fact that she is a distant relative of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Alice In Wonderland, as well as the whispers of the insects that inspire her beautifully morbid artwork.    While on a visit to her mom, she learns of a family curse and decides to find a way to break the curse.  She soon finds herself in Wonderland itself along with the boy of her dreams.  Throughout the novel they fight to discover the truth and lies being told by everyone in Wonderland.  She soon finds out the Alice who returned from Wonderland was in fact an imposter.  Alyssa is thrown into a whirlwind of adventure and emotional battles as she discovers her true identity and desires for life.

This novel is an interesting twist to a classic tale.  I admit when I picked up the book I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Many twists to classic tales always fall short or don’t seem to be their “own” story.  Splintered is different; it is in fact it’s own story with slight elements from the classic tale (but slightly altered).   Howard does a phenomenal job at throwing his readers into the world he created; a new wonderland.  The images of the characters we once loved have altered but in a way that makes a new generation love them all the same along with new creations to these characters such as caterpillar evolving into a beautiful mysterious moth.

The descriptions of the characters are beautifully well done that as you are reading the novel you can picture each unique character.  Alyssa’s development through the novel flows beautifully as she learns new things about her family, herself and wonderland itself.  You open the book and know immediately it is a story based off of Alice in Wonderland but can clearly see differences between the two stories that make each their own but also tie the two together.  It was enjoyable to have the story be generations in the future rather than Alice Liddell’s daughter or even granddaughter, but a distant relative.  The novel is marketed towards young adults, but I can see many adults enjoying this novel (series) as well.  I for one will be looking for the next book.

Pros: Unique take on a classic tale
Cons: Moments the story drags on

Bottom line: if you enjoy Alice in Wonderland or other stories like that then check it out.  It is a great novel.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spiral Staircase

In the preface of the autobiography, Karen states:  “The cloister was a radical and daring solution. So while my peers opted out in hippie communes, experimented with mind-altering drugs, or tried to change to world politically, I sought intensity and transformation in the life of a nun.”   While most people view joining a onvent as a religious act, a way of becoming closer to God forsaking all things secular and embrassing the life. From the preface of the memoir and the statement quoted, the reader gets the feeling that Karen seen is as a rebellious act, something that went against all expectations of her from family, friends, and society.

One of the things that drew me in was the usage of T.S Elliots poem "Ash Wednesday," knowing the poem and seeing her usage made me wonder if the poem would have significance to her, and as I read the story farther it becomes evident that it does because she in fact quotes the entire poem.  Then she continues to quote the work throughout her story.

She goes in depth about her experiences after the convent as well as snippets into what she endured as a nun.  She describes in full detail what happened to her mentally, religiously and even physically after leaving the convent.  Her story of having blackouts and not knowing why and no one listening to her just bout broke my heart.  She displays a degree of strength throughout everything that I am not sure any of us would have, I know I wouldn't.  Despite everything she went through in her time in the convent and afterwards, she remains optimistic.

Pros:  Compelling look into someone's life experiences
Cons: None
Bottom Line: This is a compelling story and reaches out to anyone in any walk of life.  I completely recommend this memoir to anyone and everyone.  It is definitely on my must read list.

Rating 4.5 out 5

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Magician's Guild

For Sonea the purge was just like any other, that is until she threw a rock that broke through the magicians’ barrier. Now she is hiding from the out of fear that they want to kill her. How could she, a girl from the slums have magical powers? The magician’s Guild want to teach her how to control her power so that she doesn’t cause any destruction to herself or others. Sonea uses the help of the Theives to hide throughout the city, but each time she thinks she is safe, the magicians seem to be able to find her. She must decide if she wants to be apart of the Magician’s Guild or continue to live her life among those she loves in the slums.

I was interested in the story line, but as I began to read the novel, I found the storyline to be lacking in places. It just seemed like a large story of hide and seek. There are several holes in the story that the reader can’t help but catch on too. For example the magicians spend weeks hunting for Sonea only to remember 3-4 weeks into it that they can track her by sensing her magic. If the group can do that, why didn’t they do that in the first place? Sonea is a character I am unsure on to begin with. She relies heavily on other people throughout the novel, and doesn’t do much for herself or really think for herself. She just does what others tell her to do, not really a strong independent character.

The story seems to just drag on and not really go anywhere, seems to be stalling the story to make it longer. The characters don’t seem to develop on their own, and need the assistance of the reader to understand the transformations they are going through. Sonea is supposed to be a girl from the slums, uneducated and unsophisticated, but she speaks as well if not better than the magicians. She comes off as a weak character because she relies so heavily on other people to know who to trust, what to do, what to think. She doesn’t seem to have a mind of her own in the novel, which doesn’t really appeal to me as a reader. She wants people to constantly do things to make life better for others, but she is unwilling to do anything herself to change her situation or that of those she loves.

The author uses a lot of description throughout the novel to the point where it seems the novel is all description. There isn’t a whole lot of dialog, but when there is, it is done well despite the “dwells” speak very refined and don’t have slang terms that one would assume they would in comparison to the Magicians. There are a lot of good things within the novel and things that aren’t so good, but that comes with any novel. It’s all subject to the reader’s preferences. While I may not have been 100% happy with this novel, it is a good start to a series. It sets the stage for what may come later, even if it doesn’t give much backstory to the characters, that just might come later. I will continue to read the series and see where life takes Miss Sonea.

Pros: Great storyline and plot development
Cons: Poor character development, story begins to drag on in places
Bottom Line:  Its a great novel for fantasy lovers of all ages

Rating 3.5 stars out of 5

Friday, August 8, 2014

Facing Your Giants

The Bible talks about a young boy named David who fought and defeated a giant named Goliath with nothing but a stone and a slingshot, and his faith in God.  We each have a Goliath in our lives that takes one form or another; we know what it looks like.  How it presents itself. Sometimes it could be looming bills we struggle to pay or grieve over the loss of a loved one, unbreakable habits and more.   Everything we struggle with throughout life is our own personal Goliath.  The basis of the book is that if you focus on your giants, your Goliath's; you stumble and fall.   But if you focus and rely on God you will triumph over them all.

Once again Lucado causes his readers to re-evaluate their lives and how they deal with aspects of their lives.  Relying on God through troubling times or when we face our struggles is something very important for Christians to follow.  we spend too much time focusing on how overwhelming our stresses are, or our fears, failures and doubts effect our lives now and our relationship with God and other people.  Max Lucado paints a picture, a vivid picture of David and how he appeared trembling before the 9 foot giant.

Max Lucado shows David's focus was on God and not the fears and doubts he had to have had swarming in his mind.  This is how out lives should be lived.  How we should face the giants in our lives.  Max's writing brings the story to life and makes the readers see David's life within their own.  We all struggle with fears and doubts but when we rely on God we can succeed the way David succeeded against Goliath.


Pros: Helps you view struggles and trials in life differently
Cons: Not everyone is going to agree with what he says
Bottom Line:  It is worth the read and you will learn something from reading it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Waking Lazarus

All Jude Allman wants is to be normal.  Not to be known as the man who comes back to life.  Every so often since he was a young child Jude has died, only to come back to life a few days later.  He has managed to blend into the world around him under a different name of Ron Gress.  His whole life begins to change when he meets Kristene.  He slowly begins to taste copper at random moments or sees visions when he touches a person.  What could all that mean?    As Jude/Ron tries to figure his life out, someone is kidnapping children from neighboring communities.  Could the abilities that Jude/Ron has discovered help find the person responsible for the abductions?

This was an interesting novel.  The character development was well done, especially Ron/Jude character.  Reading the development of Rachel was exceptional.  We watch as she begins to see him in a different light, see him as the person he is and not who she thinks him to be. The parts with the kidnapper were confusing with the references to the Hunter and The Normal and acceptance etc.  It seemed like there was something more complex within the plot of who the kidnapper was than what was presented.  It was difficult to understand what was actually being said in those sections, and honestly I skimmed through them faster than the other parts of the novel. 

It was fairly well written with great descriptions of the characters and setting.  There were things that were almost predictable, but others that threw you off guard.  Might just be typical to have some things expected while others. The story is interesting with an interesting characteristic that the main character poses.  T.L Hines does a good job getting his message across and relating the story he wanted. He does an excellent job at capturing his audience and holding them with the story.  It's a good novel to pick up and read.


Pros: Great story idea and character development
Cons: Story progression can be slow and a few unanswered questions
Bottom Line:  It was a good read; it is enjoyable. 

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars