Category Archives: Book/Movie Review

You need to buy this book, and it’s on sale for $.99

Now, I know it’s not like me to hang here and tell you to buy a book. Unless it’s mine, cause, hey, ya should, cause, well… it’s mine.

But anyway… Let me tell you about this book called Darkside Sun.

As you may have noticed from my several reviews, I am a big Jocelyn Adams fan. I think she’s awesome.

Almost two years ago, I gushed when I tripped over her in a chat room. (She was posting under a pseudonym, and I didn’t even know I’d been talking to her – funny story I’ll have to tell you some day) Anyway, we became cyber-buddies, and she’s been uber helpful with advice about do’s and don’ts in the publishing industry.

Last year, she entrusted me with a beta copy of “DARKSIDE SUN”. Let me tell you, I was floored. When I finished it, I cried… and wrote this blog post: “There is a book out there that is better than yours.”

And yes, this book was contracted soon after by my target publisher.  Yes, I celebrated.  This book totally deserves it.

A month or so ago, I was contacted and asked if Entangled could use a quote from my beta comments on the novel in their marketing.  “Sure,” I said… not even remembering what I’d said.

Imagine my surprise when the cover hit Amazon:

See that white writing in the upper left hand corner?  Let me zoom that in for you.

Darkside Sun Quote

Wowzers.

All that stuff they say about making connections and stuff… yeah, it’s true.  my name is on the front of a novel that I personally believe will be the next “big thing.”

And let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier.  There are not too many novels out there that I would recommend this much… or slap my name on the cover… but this is one.  You will be drawn in from the first pages, and biting your nails until the unbelievable end.

Even if you don’t like this genre, I’d recommend this for the simple reason of soaking in Jocelyn Adam’s writing style.   She is everything I want to be when I grow up, and I am trilled to death that she’s finally received big-name recognition.

Darkside Sun is on sale for the next few days in a promotional blitz.  For $.99 on Amazon. I am sure you will not be disappointed. It doesn’t get too “paranormal” right away, and everyone from contemporary to horror can learn a little soaking her style in.

Even though I read the beta, I am hopping over now to pick up my copy. I can’t wait to see the final product. I hear it’s even better. I’m prepared to be wowed all over again.
Darkside Sun (Entangled Embrace)

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Learning from someone else’s mistakes – How to NOT write a novel

I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels lately. Not because it is my favorite genre, but to help strengthen my skills in writing inner-thought and making an emotional connection between the reader and the character.

I recently read a book that was AWESOME at this.  I was totally engaged. I liked the heroine. I cared about her. I liked the hero even more. They were both complex characters with faults that drove their characterization, and I completely believed them and felt like part of their lives. It was everything I wanted in a novel. This author totally deserved the “bestselling author” splash on her advertising.

At the end of the novel, there was one of those lovely magic buttons nice and handy so I could buy the next book.

Did I buy the next book? No.

Wasn’t I interested in the story? Didn’t I want to know more?

Yes. I totally did. I was ready to stay up late and read more.

So why didn’t I buy the next book?

The author, despite being incredibly talented, lost my trust. The story was not complete. Not by a long shot.

The heroine is being threatened by her brother and a former boyfriend who raped her. She had been in hiding for years, but they found her. She needs to go home and face them because her mother is dying. The hero of the story agrees to go home with her so she is not alone. BAM. It’s over. If you want to see what happens, you need to buy the next book. There isn’t even a neat, tidy closing thought to make the novel feel like it ended, like “I would be fine, I knew I would be fine because we would face this together.”

Nope—a closing line like that was not there. The chapter just ended, and the next page prompted you to buy the next book.

Seriously?

Now, if this had been a free read, I totally would have cut the author some slack. I would have purchased the next book. Call me snobby, but I expect a story to be complete when I pay $5.00 for it.

But maybe I was wrong. Maybe I misunderstood. So I checked to make sure there was not a worded warning like “part one” that I overlooked.

Nope. Nada.

I went from being a wildly enthusiastic fan to a lukewarm, disappointed reader in a matter of seconds.

But the novel was great. Why wouldn’t you buy the next one?

Like I said, she has lost my trust. Will the next book finish the story, or will I be prompted to buy another book? I don’t know. I cannot trust that I will ever see a satisfying ending.

For now and probably forever, I will see this author’s name and red flags will pop up all over the place.

Why not just tell the truth?

Now, if it was stated up front that this was an add-on series, a work in progress available in installments (and priced at $.99 rather than $5.00 each) I would have totally slipped the next book in my cart. In fact, I think that’s an awesome idea.

But you just need to be honest about it.

Don’t lie to your readers.

Would I recommend this book? No. Absolutely not.

I sure did learn from it, though.

What would you think if you finished a book, and it totally left you hanging… Holding you ransom until you paid to find out what happened?

JenniFer_EatonF

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The books I read in 2013: Listed from “Best” to “Not So Best”

Wow. Totaling them all up, I read 21 books in 2013. That’s not too shabby. Ten of these are novellas, so I guess that would equate to the equal of 16 full-length novels.

Up until two years ago, I felt accomplished if I finished ONE book in a year.  I’ve found that reading GOOD books has improved my writing in leaps and bounds. If you are not reading, Why not?

These are the books I read last year, in order of how good I thought they were. Now remember, I can be easily swayed by an explosion, so some of these got pushed down the list simply because they were not as exciting as another book.  A few of them are down there because, well…. someone has to be at the bottom, right?

You also might see me saying that I don’t like a certain kind of novel. So why did I read it? As an author, I try to “round” myself out. If I only read explosions I won’t be opening myself up to different pacing and different types of tension. I look at every book I read as a learning experience. If I forget that I’m reading, and think “Ergh! I’ll have to read it again to study how they did (insert really great thing here)” Then those books ended up in the top 5. Okay… maybe the top six. :-)

If you’d like to know my opinions on a book that I did not review feel free to drop me a line.

So, here’s my list from Best to “no so best” of 2013.

#1:  Obsidian, A Lux Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout – I got close to the end of the year before I found a book good enough to take over the number one position from “Slipping a Toe In”.  Obsidian is a great Sci-Fi love story.  I was on edge from page one.  Very well done. (Search this site for my full review)

#2: Dipping a Toe In by Linda Carroll-Bradd – A snoozer of a Sweet Romance that wowed me with the writing style. (Reviewed)

#3: Sweet Blood of Mine by John Corwin – YA paranormal from a boy’s perspective. Great YA first person voice. Just Loved it! Bring on book 2 (Reviewed)

#4: Crossing Hathaway by Jocelyn Adams – Awesome Hot Romance.  Great Fluidity of Writing. Big fan of Jocelyn Adams. (Reviewed)

#5: Caught Up In Us by Lauren Blakely – Picked this up while researching “Best Selling” Contemporary Romance.  It did not disappoint.  Great characters you could relate to.

#6: Shadows, A Lux novella by Jennifer L. Armentrout – I’m trying to decide if I would have rated this higher if I did not read book 2 first.  I think this is better as a book two than a book one.  I liked knowing what was going to happen. It made the whole experience more “tense”. Stupendous voice.

#7: Eye of the Soul – By Terri Rochenski – Great World building.  A classic-style fantasy tale.

#8: Romance Novel Book Club by Kastil Eavenshade – as naughty as this book was, it was just too darn much fun.  Very readable and hard to put down.  A romance writer poking fun at the romance genre – brilliant (Reviewed)

#9: Stone Chameleon – Jocelyn Adams New, interesting world from one of my favorite authors. I hemmed and hawed over this one. I ended up ranking it down because there is a heavy vampire theme, and apparently I’m not crazy about vampires. This book really grew on me as I read, but it took me a while to engage because of the bloodsuckers.

#10: A Touch of Greek by Tina Folsom – Despite its faults, I really liked this. Consider it a “Guilty Pleasure” (Reviewed)

This Wicked Magic by Michele Hauf – The little Engine that could – Slow start, but great roller-coaster-ride ending. (Reviewed)

Whirlwind – Romantic/Erotic Short – Excellent writing, but it was really just a sexual fantasy with not much story involved.  I like a little more meat to chew on (ah-hem… sorry) The writing as good though.

Talbot’s Seduction – Kastil Eavenshade Great historical setting. I love this author’s ability to bring me back in time. I just wish I liked her main character in this series more.

Alone No More by Terri Rochenski– Great Historical Writing. Really felt like I was there. The middle of the story was a touch slow for my tastes

Resonance – JA Belfield – Great Premise. This is a “linker” novella that does not stand alone.  I loved the scenes in the “other world”.  Very Imaginative

Purely Relative by Claire Gillian– While this had a great ending, the beginning was a bit slow for me.  The writing was awesome, though.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Purchased to research the publisher. My review earlier in 2013 says it all.

18 Things by Jamie Ayres – I hate putting a novel this good below some things that were not written as well, but I really did not enjoy this book.  That is a reflection of a bad match of book to reader – not a reflection of the book, because it was awesome and thought-provoking. (Reviewed)

Capturing the Marshall’s Heart – Didn’t hold my attention, despite being by one of my favorite authors. Great Western setting though – which may have been part of the problem. Western is not my cup of tea.

#20 and #21: 

I decided not to post the titles to #20 and #21 in respect to the authors, because they were awful. Just awful.  (Oh, not the authors… their books)

Some books, like #3 “Sweet Blood of Mine” do wonders for the self-publishing industry.  Others, like #20 and #21, are the kind of books that give self-publishing a bad name.

Please, please, please don’t self-publish your book without professional opinions. It makes you look bad. It makes your reader mad, and it brings down the writing profession in general.

So, what were your favorites  of 2013? Any good suggestions for me to read this year? Anything I should avoid?

JenniFer_EatonF

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What makes you abandon a novel you are reading?

I recently finished a novel that was truly painful. In respect to the author, I’m not going to name it… but it was NOT an enjoyable read.

All the other novels I have lined up were screaming “Try me! I’ll be better, I promise.” And I was pretty sure that ANY of them I picked would have scaled higher on the enjoyment factor.

Was it written poorly?

I don’t think so.  You see, I purchased this book because it was by one of my favorite authors. In fact, this is someone I’ve reviewed and given five stars to, and if you hang here you know I don’t give away five stars all that freely.

I almost gave it up on this story five times, but I continued reading hoping that the author that I’d fallen in love with would shine through.

It didn’t happen.

What didn’t I like?

Well, I think it was a lot of things. This was a western. I detest westerns, but I’d read one last year that I really enjoyed, so I figured my favorite author could pull it off, too.

Ah, no.

The main character also had an annoying name. “Jazzy”.  Yeah, I’m serious. Don’t you want to smack her upside the head already?  I hoped my favorite author could overcome the annoying name.

Nope, didn’t happen.

In the end, I forced myself to finish. Probably because I purchased the book and wanted to get my money’s worth. Probably because I was waiting for some kind of a Sixth Sense ending that would make it all worth my time.

Didn’t happen.

In the end, though, something about the background came out that made me sympathize with Jazzy. Interestingly enough, I suddenly connected. Unfortunately, it was in the last couple of pages… thousands of words too late.

I’m wondering that if I had known this little tidbit of information in the beginning of the story, if the necessary connection between reader and character would have happened… that maybe, just maybe, I would have cared enough about her that I would have been worried when the stagecoach got overrun by bandits. I would have worried when the gun was pointed in her face. I would have cared if Mr. Perfect saved her scrawny butt…

The problem is that I suddenly cared to late, and it did not fix the rest of a very uninteresting read to me.

Have I given up on this favored author? I don’t think so, but I will be much more leery of picking up another title of hers. It’s a shame.

What did I learn?

I try to take away something from every novel I read. In this case, I will remember that if there is a secret or something in a character’s past that may help reader connection, I will push that little tidbit up front.  Late revelations are just that. Late. In this case, too late for me.

What about you? What makes you stop reading a book you have paid good money for?

Jennifer___Eaton

An Example of Nailing the Setting

I recently picked up a historical novella to clear my head between longer novels.  Terri Rochenski wrote a short story in the Make Believe anthology that I really enjoyed, so I reached for her newest work “Alone No More”.

From the title, you get the gist.  Our MC is alone in love, and at the end she gets her man.  Romance never has a surprise ending, does it?  It’s probably the only genre where this is completely acceptable.  It’s the journey to the couple getting together that is the fun.

So, let’s talk about the setting.  Rochenski has a way of drawing you into her world in the first few pages, and never letting go.  Be it the costumes, technology, language, or just the general feel of a world or time period, Rochenski nails it.

Normally for me, this would be a drag.  I hate too much detail, but Rochenski is one of those authors who has figured out how to gently weave in the important parts of the world without slapping you in the face with laundry lists of details.  You envision a character walking through a room and noticing things around her, or you travel down a dirt road in a swaying cart. The details are interspersed inside the action.  Very well done. I like to read works like this on hopes that some of that setting flair rubs off on me.

If you are looking for a short, quiet historical I would highly recommend this.  Adrenaline junkies would find the middle of  “Alone No More” a bit long and uneventful, but this does happen in love sometimes… especially in an authentic historical setting.  I would recommend this book for the setting in itself.

Pick up a copy of “Alone No More” for some quiet holiday reading (Only $1.49 on sale at the White Rose Web Site.)  Everyone loves a sale this time of year!

AMAZON   /  The Wild Rose Press

JenniFer_EatonF

I really didn’t like this book – but I’m still giving it four stars

I finished “18 Things” by Jamie Ayres a while ago, and decided to let it sit a simmer before I wrote a review. I considered not writing a review at all, because I’m not sure how to give this book, and the brilliant author, the justice she deserves. The fact is, I really didn’t like this book at all, but I’m still going to give it four stars. Let me explain.

This book grips you from the very first page and thrusts you into a nearly unending roller coaster of emotion. The story is about a girl who witnesses a tragic accident that takes her best friend and secret love’s life. (That’s not a spoiler – it happens in the first few pages.) From there on out, the book is about dealing with loss—overcoming this loss by creating a “bucket list” of 18 things to do.

Crud! Just writing that brought tears to my eyes again!

This is the thing. I read for enjoyment – to escape everyday life. This book is NOT THAT. I cried pretty much from the first page to the last page with a very brief tear-free intermission in the middle. Let me tell you – I have enough problems…I don’t need to be depressed while I’m reading, too!

Disclaimer – I sent this review to the author before I posted it… and she was surprised that I cried so much. She felt the “middle” was fun and light. I did feel the “intermission” but it was short lived for me. (Sorry)

But see, here’s the problem. I wouldn’t give a book a low rating because it was written so well it made me cry. I think it had exactly the emotional response that the author wanted. I couldn’t even deduct a star for lack of explosions, because there was one in the first few pages (well, kind of anyway)

So, why four stars instead of five?

For one thing… this is supposed to be a YA paranormal. I’d forgotten the genre while I was reading, because nothing paranormal happens. I understand why it was placed in the paranormal category (Can’t explain or I’ll spoil it), but this IS NOT a paranormal. If you only enjoy paranormal, you will probably cry through this and be frustrated – but I think that is a category error, not the author’s fault. So I’m not subtracting a star for that – I just thought I’d mention it.

All that aside — Here’s the reason for four stars…

As the novel was winding down, I started to feel safe again. Everything came together nicely. I was readying myself to give it five stars, but at the same time explaining that I didn’t enjoy reading it.

Then…

We hit the last chapter.

Did you hear that annoying sound? It was me grinding my teeth.

I’m one for a great surprise in an ending. Totally love a twist – in most cases. This one, however, kind of bothered me. To be completely honest, I felt cheated. Does that make it not brilliant?

No. It was brilliant.

It just made me a tad miffed. No… I had it right the first time. I felt cheated. I also started crying my eyes out again.

My husband kept feeding me tissues and told me to stop reading. I said “No! I need to finish this so I can stop crying!”

So I am subtracting a star for the ending, although I realize it was needed to set up the possibility for a sequel. To me though, it felt added on to make room for the next book. I’d have given 18 Things five stars without the last chapter.

So, this is the scoop: This book is a brilliant piece of contemporary fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again. While there is a slight paranormal edge that you might miss if you blink, this is NOT a paranormal novel.

Readers of contemporary YA will probably love this. I, unfortunately, cried myself silly though the whole thing.

Wow. Just Wow. I can’t believe how much I loved this book. Obsidian by @JLArmentrout

I haven’t done a lot of reviews lately because as an author, I’m sensitive enough to keep my mouth shut if I have nothing nice to say.  Few books I’ve read lately left me with the desire to sit down and tap something out. What a surprise I was in for when I picked up Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

This is one of those books that I have heard tons of rumblings about.  I resisted the urge to pick it up because I already had a ton of purchased books waiting to be read… but when those continuously fell flat, I reached for something with great “word of mouth” advertising.

It’s about aliens?

First of all, I was stunned that this book was about aliens.  I find it terribly amusing that I didn’t even know, since I just finished up my own alien novel.  Luckily for me, the stories are nothing alike. (Whew!)

I’m not sure if it is the plain love for the “alien on earth” genre, or the fantastic deep point of view, or maybe a combination of both, but this book total rocked.

For the first time I can remember, I finished a book and scrambled for the next one. (Actually Obsidian is book two, so I grabbed book one – and I’m glad I read them in this order. I think book one packed more punch after reading book two.)  Not only that, I noticed book four was on sale, so I grabbed that while the price was down, and got book three soon after finishing book one.

Now, mind you, this is very unlike me.  I have tons of books that I want to read in other series. And I already OWN them. I should be reading those first… But Obsidian grabbed me to an extent that I simply HAD TO HAVE MORE.

Crazy.

As an author, I think I may go back and re-read Obsidian in “research mode” to see if I can figure out exactly what that “it” was that made me go nutty. Maybe some day… after I finish all the rest of them.

The only thing I can really fault this novel for is the constant reference to the alien hottie’s eyes, and his long fluttering sooty lashes.  But that’s not much to be annoyed with in a novel.  And there were enough explosions even to make ME happy.  If you look this up, You’ll see that book one is one of those “free teaser” novellas.  I’d highly recommend reading Obsidian first, though.  I’m glad I read them in this order, because “knowing” made book one ten times more powerful than if it had stood on its own.

Multiple and incredibly enthusiastic thumbs up for “Obsidian”

Has anyone else read this book? Did you go nutty and want more, or am I just alien crazed?

JenniFer_EatonF

Seeing “Lilo and Stitch” again 11 years later… Through a new set of eyes.

The other day, my husband was scrolling through movies looking for a good family film.  He chose Disney’s Lilo and Stitch. When this movie first came out I remember a coworker saying: “Disney created a character (Lilo) who was mean, nasty and completely unlikable.  A ‘bad’ kid– so he could not enjoy the movie because he disliked her so much.

I saw the movie a few weeks later, and the writer in me recognized that “bad kid” but watched her development into a “better kid” (not a good kid… a better kid)

Watching the movie eleven years and three kids later, I was dumbstruck. The character of Lilo immediately grabbed my attention as so much more than a bad kid.

Lilo was probably one of best-researched Disney characters I have ever seen.

Watching her mouth off at her sister, fighting physically with other kids trying to defend what’s right, having trouble keeping friends, trying desperately to stick to routines, and not listening among a myriad of other traits. Wow.

Lilo has ADHD

She was a classic textbook case of ADHD, and almost everything that happened I could mirror in my own family life.  (Except for the house exploding, thank goodness)  I watched shaking my head, and really feeling for her sister/guardian, Noni as she tried to control the uncontrollable. As she gave in at times just to keep the peace, as she struggled to stop things from happening that she knew were a “trigger”, and as she treasured the few special moments a day when Lilo showed affection.

I found myself wondering if one of the writers had a kid with ADHD to have NAILED the condition so well.  I did a little research, but could not find a mention of the condition in relation to the film.  I found this sad.  Maybe it is because ADHD was not as much in the forefront of pediatric medicine in 2002 as it is nowadays.

What I found encouraging, though, was the very real way the story played out.  (Not the aliens, silly)

Lilo, a kid struggling with her behavior—knowing she is bad but not understanding why—takes  this other “little kid” (Stitch, the alien, who is programmed to do nothing but destroy) under her wing, and tries to help him be a better “person”.

This is so like an ADHD kid.  My “Littlest Dude”, despite his challenges, will always pick out the person “in need” in a crowd, and help to the best of his ability.

Just the other day, he was outside teaching a kid twice his age how to ride a bike.  They were out there for HOURS.  He would not be daunted. Whatever it took, he was going to get that (much older) girl riding her bike.

When I’m sick, he is the child I can trust to be there… to drop everything and take care of me. (Not that the other two don’t help, in case they read this) But the littlest takes the whole situation to heart.

ADHD kids are not monsters.

They may appear that way.

They may destroy things (when they are mad)*

They may punch you in the face (but you probably provoked it)*

They may scream at you (because something is wrong and they feel mistreated)*

But deep inside, they are the cute, cuddly, fluffy version of Stitch.

They don’t want to act out.  They want to help, create,  make friends,  play,  be happy, and be loved by their family like any other kid.

They just need someone to believe in them, and help them control their triggers so they can make the correct choices.

Any kid can be the cute, cuddly version of Stitch.

You just have to believe in them and show them the way.

*Note* ADHD kids truly DO NOT KNOW why they act the way they do.  If you have a kid with behavioral problems, speak to your doctor or look into programs to help control their triggers. Getting help was the best thing I ever did for my family.

 _JenniFer____EatoN

My first review for The First Day of the New Tomorrow

Now Available from Jennifer M. EatonMy very fist review came out a few days ago for The First Day of the New Tomorrow… and it’s a good one!

Four and a half stars from Lady Bug Lin’s Reviews.

Wahoooo!

Check it out HERE

JenniFer_EatonF

A lesson in making your villain sympathetic

This is partly a review of the movie “The Great and Powerful Oz” which was ten times better than I ever dreamed it would be.  Lots of fun, lots of action, and lots of wonderfully developed characters.

This story stepped up to the plate and took on the daunting job of being a sequel to one of the most beloved films of all time.  And despite some of the reviews I read, I was wildly entertained.  My husband and I loved it just as much as the kids. My oldest son even put down his cell phone and watched… which is saying a lot.

This movie took on two stories of characters that everyone “knows” what will eventually happen to.  This is tough, because you have to ram rod your story in a direction that will lead to a pre-determined outcome.

The film shows how the wizard got to Oz and became the ruler of the Emerald City, and how the Wicked Witch of the West became… well, the Wicked Witch of the West.

What really struck me, is how the movie dealt with the WWW in a way that you really liked her.  I liked her so much, in fact, that the twist “surprise” took me completely off guard.

The premise reminded me very much of the old Batman days, where the villains, even ones as detestable as the Joker, were “made” rather than just “being there”.  They were everyday, nice people who had something bad happen.

In the Original “The Wizard of Oz” the witch was just “there” as if she had always haunted the land of Oz, and we hater her.  Oh, yes, we hated her and hid under our beds at night, didn’t we?

In this movie, though, we get to know her.  We like her.  And then Bam!

Although some reviews say her “journey” happened too fast, I just loved the trope used.  And I felt terrible for her.

I also loved the end, where you thought, just maybe, the character that you’d grown fond of might still be “in there” but of course, since we all know she eventually dies melting in a splash of water… the ending is what it needed to be.

But my point is you can’t get much more wicked than the classic Wicked Witch of the West, and I loved taking the journey with her.  Even if it was to an unfortunate end.

If anything, watch this movie to see the origins of an awesome villain.  Not one you love to hate, but one you can sympathize with… At least until she cries, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!”

JenniFer_EatonF