Category Archives: Book/Movie Review

Sometimes a retelling just “works”. A review of the 2014 animated Tarzan movie

For family movie night recently, my husband pulled up “Tarzan – The Legend lives” (The 2014 version)

To be honest, all three of our boys 9, 12, and 14 rolled their eyes. I think I did, too.

ANOTHER Tarzan adaptation?   Pleeeeease say it isn’t so.

Within about three seconds, though, the movie caught my twelve year old’s attention as dinosaurs ran across the screen, and we were taken into outer space to see a meteor throttling toward Earth. For a while, I’d forgotten what the movie was about. This didn’t seem like Tarzan at all!

Really impressive animation

My fourteen year old and I jumped on board when we skipped to the future to see that they’d updated the story to a more present-day-like setting. Then a little accident happened, and the little boy gets stranded in the jungle.

This is where my youngest set aside his computer and started watching with the rest of us.

I have to say, this adaptation seemed the most “real” from the perspective of how Tarzan was raised by apes and how he moved and learned to live like an ape. My husband didn’t think that Tarzan would have forgotten people and words (he was about six when lost, and people show up when he’s about seventeen, I’d guess) I’m not so sure this is true.

While all the basic elements of the Tarzan story are there, I love how they wove in a sci-fi angle. And where stuff like this (crossing genres) usually bothers me, somehow it really worked in this story.

By the end, we were all huddled on the couch watching and enjoying this together – something that rarely happens in our house these days.

This movie had plenty of good old Tarzan for Dad, lots of explosions for Mom, and enough action and adventure to keep the kids happy.

For us, this adaptation totally worked. I’m surprised that I hadn’t even heard of it. I’m not sure if it did well in theaters, but I think this one is worth a watch from home.


The narrator of an audio book can make or break the novel.

The joy of audio books …

Game of Thrones has been out for quite a while now, and despite being a fantasy lover, I haven’t picked it up because hey, these things are HUGE, and I’d been warned that they were so detailed that the story moved slow at times.

1430695 YAY CHEERBut when I saw the audio book at the library, I figured that would be a great way to experience the book without cutting into my reading time. So I prepared to make Game of Thrones a part of my commute for the next few months (There were 28 disks in the set).

Project2At first I enjoyed the narrator, who’s British accent really added flavor to this medieval fantasy tale. The problem was, though, that his voice sounded like an older man. Now, this was fine when voicing Ned Stark, or the King …but most of the characters in Game of Thrones are kids 14 years old and younger.

I’ve listened to many talented actors voice novels this year, and each and every character sounded different. The female narrators had a knack for sounding like boys, and the male narrators had no problem sounding like girls.

Project1No matter who’s part this narrator read, though, sounded like an old man.

That made it really hard for me to get absorbed in the story when we were in the points of view of characters that were young, or even worse… GIRLS.

No matter how hard I tried, I envisioned an old man playing all the characters. It kinda ruined it for me.

Yesterday I got a ping from the library that my audio book was due back. I was only on disk 4 of twenty eight. Since someone else had requested it, I could not renew, so I returned the discs figuring I could take them out again at a later date.


But the more I think about it, I probably won’t. The sad truth is that I really wasn’t enjoying it, and I don’t want to get a bad taste for the book just because the narrator didn’t spark my imagination.

This will be my first DNF of 2015. Bummer.

If you’re interested in listening to narrators who were great, consider the audiobooks of Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress (All the Lunar chronicles) or the audio book of “14” by Peter Clines. Those narrators totally rocked a distinct voice for every character, be they male or female.


How can a book be both the worst and best you’ve ever read?

Alien Huh Close

I think we’ve all been there… we are gobbling up a book, loving every minute, and then all of the sudden Bam! Something happens in the plot that kills the book for you. Disappointment lingers. You place the book on your nightstand and think up reasons NOT to read. Then, after a few days, you grab something else, and that original book sits on your dresser, collecting dust.

I came very close to this in reading “14” by Peter Clines. Notice that I said “close.”

Let me explain.

This book was recommended to me by two readers on Instagram. This year my goal was to read only books that were recommended in order to really submerse myself in the current trends.

Anyway, that’s how I found “14”. Within a few pages, I was instantly engaged. This is odd for me, because the book is about an everyday guy who has a low paying job and gets an apartment in an old, historical building. Nothing exciting, right?

Yet I was flipping pages.

Then we meet the other people living in the building, and they each have their own quirks, their own voice, and their own … hmmm, I don’t know how to put it, but they each have their own “something special” that that drew me to them and made me want to read more.

So I kept flipping pages.

Soon, they all start discovering odd things about their building and their apartments, and that’s when the fun begins. I really can’t tell you anything else without ruining it, but at one point, something “happened.”

One of the characters looked out the window and saw a “xxxxxx”. Now, when I read this, I thought,

“Please tell me that he didn’t really see a “xxxxxx”.

But, alas, the main character actually DID see what I didn’t want him to see.

Alien SnarlI stopped reading. I was angry. Why did the author have to go there? I was loving this book! Why did he have to ruin it with a “xxxxxx”?

But the story festered and simmered in my brain. What were the characters going to do? Would they stop? Would they continue? Would the one character tell the others about the stupid “xxxxxx”?

I picked up the book, and eagerly started to devour it again. To my glee, the “xxxxxx” was not there after that scene, and I dove back into this amazing world.

Enter the climax. Wahoo! There were things I didn’t expect, and boom were we on a fun ride! (Meaning me and the characters, because we were all buds by this point.)

But then another hard stop, because the “xxxxxx” came back. And not only that, the “xxxxxx” “****ed”.

I wish I could fill in those blanks, but it would completely ruin this book.

Again, I was so frustrated that not only was there a “xxxxxx” in the book, but the “xxxxxx” also “****ed” that I considered placing the book down.

But I couldn’t.

My friends were in imminent danger. Would they survive?

Alien sour I realized that I wasn’t reading a book anymore. I was experiencing events. The story was happening around me, not inside the pages of a book. The writing is totally on point, maybe bordering on brilliant being that I WANTED to abandon the book. I just couldn’t.

After a while I was able to accept that the “xxxxxx” “****ed”. Not sure why. Maybe I just got used to it? Anyway, I was then totally able to enjoy the adventure with my new friends.

Yes, I’d have to say that this is one of the best-written books I’ve ever read, simply because of my need to find out more about the characters. But I would subtract one star in a review for two reasons.

#1, obviously, the “xxxxxx” – which I still wish was written differently, but so be it.

#2, The book starts out with a false action beginning. This was not a problem initially. Actually, I thought it was brilliant to show what would happen later in the story, since the beginning is very “everyday” contemporary. Unfortunately, this ended up ruining the end for me, because I thought I had read a passage that would happen in the future. When that DID NOT happen later in the book, I was taken aback, and scratched my head when the book was suddenly over.

Alien PKO_0003410-JPGBut in the end those things did not ruin the book for me, and I think it will be a long time before I am able to stop thinking about this story.

If anyone reads this book, (Please please please read this book) I would love to talk about it with you. I am very interested if anyone else was annoyed by the “xxxxxx” and if that aspect of the story was enough to ruin it for you.

Note: Mature content (mild sex scene) and a few F-bombs, but I didn’t find the language overused. I might even drop an F-bomb myself if I saw a “xxxxxx” coming at me.

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An 11 year-old Reviews Joshua and the Lightning Road by @DonnaGalanti “Omigosh! Action Adventure!” @Month9Books

Since Donna was nice enough to hang out and chat on Monday nights with us, I thought it would be great if I could get a middle grade perspective of her book.

This review comes directly from my eleven year old son, with a little prodding by Mom.  Details about what the book (and the book trailer) are about are at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

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 Let’s start out with what you liked.

The main thing I liked about it was the non-stop action and adventure.

Other details I liked were how different things and different problems were introduced and there were so many things they had to do all at once. And I also liked how the story didn’t take place in one area, how they had to move to different realms all the time.

Also I liked how things started winding down at the end, and then they started winding back up at the end– At 75% it seemed like everything was safe and then it was like “Omigosh they’re not safe because (character name removed) is back!”


 Did anything special catch your eye?

Some of the things that caught my eye were how you didn’t know Joshua’s name until his friend mentioned it. You didn’t know his name until the second chapter. I kinda liked that.

Also, at the beginning, I liked how when the storm happened out of nowhere and then this guy showed up and all this action suddenly came out of nowhere. It was like, “Omigosh! Action adventure.”

(Mommy plays Devil’s Advocate) Was there anything you didn’t like?

(He had to think a minute)

The only thing I didn’t like was how hard it was to keep track of who the characters were. There were too many kids that he meets.

There was also one character that has something bad happen to him, but he still goes on the adventure, but is only mentioned once when they are eating but then you never hear about him again. What happened to him?

[Minor spoiler] They never found out who spilled the beans on the plan they had to escape from the mill. [End minor spoiler]

 Overall thoughts?

Even though there were a few things that bothered me, overall I really liked this book.  

Would you read another book n the series if there were one?



On a scale of 1 for the worst book you’ve read and 5 for the best book you ever read, how would you rate this book?

I would rate it a four

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There you go! Directly from my eleven year old son. I hope you enjoyed it!

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About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of A Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books), the first two award-winning, bestselling books in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, and the middle grade fantasy adventure series Joshua and The Lightning Road (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs at Project Mayhem. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. Visit her at

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About Joshua and the Lightning Road:

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark world where stolen human kids are work slaves ruled by the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians who come to see Joshua as the hero prophesied to restore their lost powers. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.

An 11-year-old’s review of The UnderTakers: The Last Siege of Haven


Before the review, a note from “Mom”:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how I first encountered a Ty Drago book.  For those of you who don’t know me, I have three sons. 14, 11, and 9.
My 14 year old (AKA the Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer) is an avid reader. Always has been. After years of struggling to get Middle Dude to even read a comic book, I’d given up. Then I started having the same trouble with Littlest Dude. In a panic, I rescheduled a weekend to bring Littlest to meet Dan Gutman… the author of the only book the kid agreed to read if I twisted his arm.  Middle Dude came kicking and screaming (Well, not that bad, but he wasn’t happy)
What, Doesn't this look like Ty Drago?

What, Doesn’t this look like Ty Drago?

Anyway, this is where Ty Drago comes in wearing a big old red cape

(Well, kind of. We actually didn’t even meet him) …
While we were buying a few Dan Gutman books at the Barned and Noble stand, Middle Dude comes up and hands me this book. “Can we get this?” he asked. “It looks sooo cool!”
I flipped over this very thick book 480 stinking pages. It was HUGE.  I said, “You’re not going to read this.”
“Yes I am,” he pleaded. “It sounds awesome.”
I stared at this monstrous book that I knew would end up as a doorstop or mashed in the toy graveyard in the corner of his room. With a sigh, I purchased The Undertakers, figuring if he read five pages, I was way ahead of the game.
That is when the magic happened. That night, I found Middle Dude hiding under the covers with a flashlight READING.  Did you hear that? R.E.A.D.I.N.G.
I couldn’t believe it!  A few weeks later, he was done and asked for the second book. And then the third. And then the on-line material!
This kid who hated reading, was suddenly devouring Ty Drago books.  And once he blew through them all, he was far more open to trying other books. 
Now he reads every night with a smile on his face. Thank you Ty Drago!  You are my hero.
Enough of my babbling … Here is Middle Dude’s review.  I was going to correct his punctuation and typos and stuff, but I figured I’d leave it as he typed it.  Enjoy!
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The UnderTakers

The Last Siege of Haven.

To Ty Drago,
Over all i really liked the book. It was literally non stop acition and i read most of it on one night because it was so great. The only thing i disliked was that most of the book was based on getting amy to haven.
Throught out the book i just kept thinking in my head oh my gosh what will happen next. my favorite part of the book was when they were being chased by the baby malum, it really added alot of action to the book, like a hole new species.
another part i like was when helene got out of her homeless old lady suit for backup. that came out of no where. When prentended to lose his sight i was like oh my gosh how did he lose it he isnt eighteen yet and a bunch of other questiosn like who will be the leader.
i enjoyed the part when they set haven with traps so the corpses wouldnt get in. i was also sad when [SPOILER REMOVED] died, but at least {SPOILER REMOVED} saved [his or her] friends.
overall this was one of the best books that ive ever read and i cant wait for the next 2 (i think there will be 2 more) books that you will write.
it always seemed like every second was an hour when i waited for your book “the secret of the corpse eater”.
i hope it wont be like that for the 5 book. i hope that wont happen this time.
  Happy Reading,
[Middle Dude signed his name.  So cute! but Mom is removing for privacy’s sake]
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Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | TBD

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Rafflecopter! Enter to win one of 5 digital copies of Last Siege of Haven (The Undertakers #4) by Ty Drago Click here

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Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place.  In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses,The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest.  He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.

Author Links:  Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads

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Middle Dude received an arc for his fair and honest review. Where he would never pan a book (He’s cool like that) He has, like his older brother, respectfully declined to review a book after reading. He wouldn’t have typed all that out if he didn’t feel strongly about the book.

Book Review: The Artisans by Julie Reece

I’ve been looking forward to this book release for a long time. Julie Reece is the author of CRUX, which is one of my favorite paranormal/mythical novels.

Now she’s out with a brand new YA novel. Woohoo!

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The Artisans is a “Southern Gothic”. I had no idea what that meant, so I was surprised when it started to get a little scary. (At one point, I even had to shut my eyes, which made me remember that I was reading a book, which is a little hard to do with your eyes shut.) It is a creepy read at times, but only one spot got “gory” (Which was probably mild by horror standards, but it made me cringe a little.)

This is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a touch of the cobbler fairy tale thrown in for good measure.

A teenage girl is blackmailed into designing clothes in this “mean but cute” rich dude’s mansion in order to save her father. But there’s a catch – the mansion is haunted. And Mr. Hotness might have a few family secrets.

Ooooooo, yes,

They are the scary kind.

I enjoyed this book a lot, especially the last 30% or so when things started to heat up between the main characters, and the ghosties started to get a little… ummm, “impatient”. The last ten percent or so flew by. This is great for romance fans who don’t mind a little “boo” mixed in with their love story.

What is interesting though, is that this book is a duology, which means there is another book coming out. I am very interested to see where the author takes us in the next book, because The Artisans definitely had the feel of a stand alone. There is really nothing “left hanging”. So, if you are the type that likes a stand alone, don’t worry about picking up The Artisans. It definitely ends, and ends satisfactorily.

I would recommend this book for a nice quiet weekend read, or a fun book to hide under the covers with.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | kobo | TBD | Goodreads

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Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of The Artisans by Julie Reece (INT)

Click here to enter the rafflecopter!

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About Julie Reece

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!


Eleven-Year-Old’s Review of “The Three Thorns”: Brotherhood and the shield by @Michael_Gibney @chapterxchapter @tantrumbooks @month9books

TTT-CoverI figured a middle-grade review would be best coming from a middle-grader. Here is what he had to say, in his own words:


What was the book about?

It was about three orphans who band together when a bunch of guys tried to kill them. They end up traveling to a new magical world and find out that they have special powers and are part of a prophecy that says they will bring down the evil emperor.

What did you like about the book?

I liked how there was lots of action and adventure. There wasn’t just talking all the time. There were a lot of fight scenes, and it never got boring.

Who was your favorite character?

Tommy was my favorite. He was the oldest of the kids, and he was really mean when the story started, but he changed over the course of the book.

TTT-CoverTell me about the bad guy.

He has assassins and a big army. You don’t really see him to much.

You mostly see the big scary assassins that are nine feet tall and in every fight scene. They are really more like the bad guys in the story.

What was your favorite part?

When they broke out of the orphanage, everyone chased them. Mr. Jennings offered a year of work off to any of the other orphans who caught the kids who escaped. There was so much action! And they forgot something and had to go back, and someone got caught and stuff, and it was really exciting.

On a scale of one to 5… One being that book you didn’t finish last year because it was boring, and five being the best book you ever read, how would you rate “The Three Thorns?”

TTT-CoverI think 4 stars.


There was a lot of action and a lot of chasing, but the part  where they were being taken to the castle didn’t have a lot of action.

There should have been some fight scenes to make it more interesting.

Would you be interested in reading the next book?

Yes. They ended it in a way that made me say “Omigosh I have to see what happens next!”

Would you recommend this book to your friends?

Yes, to my friends that like action adventure books.

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 A note from Mom:

There you have it, directly from my son. I have to say that each day he finished reading with a smile on his face. He is easily bored, and there are a lot of books in his “did not finish” pile. He does not put up with books that don’t keep his attention. There is a rafflecopter going on to promote this book. Click below to enter. Good luck!

Purchase Links:

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD | Indiebound

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Rafflecopter Link:

More about the book:


Three brothers born to a once powerful King were abandoned at birth and cast out into the old world as orphans – alone and unaware of the other’s existence or their royal heritage.

In the new world, by order of the false King, three of the most lethal assassins are sent to kill the children before they come of age and avenge their father’s throne.

But when the brothers find one another, Benjamin, Tommy and Sebastian must resist the temptation of magic and power if they are to defeat the unspeakable evil that has threatened them since birth.

The Three Thorns is book one in an exciting children’s fantasy series called The Brotherhood and the Shield from debut author Michael Gibney.


Michael Gibney began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen and assumed his first sous chef position at twenty-two. He ascended to executive sous chef at Tavern on the Green, where he managed an eighty-person staff. He has worked in the kitchens of Morgans Hotel Group, 10 Downing in Manhattan, and Governor in Brooklyn’s DUMBO, among many others. Over the course of his career, he has had the opportunity to work alongside cooks and chefs from many of the nation’s best restaurants, including Alinea, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Bouley, Ducasse, Corton, wd~50, and Momofuku.

In addition to his experience in the food service industry, Gibney also holds a BFA in painting from Pratt Institute and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Connect with the Author:  Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

The books I read in 2014: Listed from “Best” to “Not So Best”

Looking over this list at the end of the year, part of me wanted to start re-arranging. But I decided not to, because this is how I felt after reading each book. #1 and #2 were really neck and neck for best book, so I am going to give them both the number one slot.

It is funny– I read 21 books this year. That is exactly the same number of books that I read last year. I am half way through reading another J.L.Armentrout book right now, so maybe it is really 21.5 books this year.  Not too shabby since I don’t have all that much time to read.

So here it is, my list of Best to not so best books this year. Have you read any?

  1. Onyx , Jennifer L. Armentrout – Second (maybe third) in the Lux Series. Girl moves into a town and the twins next door are aliens. This story deepens the plotlines of book one. Slow to start, but once it got going I forgot about all that. What an amazing and unexpected last fifty or so pages!
  2. Rules of Survival, Jus Accardo – Great story about a bounty hunter that shackles himself to a fugitive girl and then finds out there are people trying to kill her. Great action and nice character development. Have to fault the author for an unrealistic sex scene, but loved the rest of it!
  3. Darkside Sun, Jocelyn Adams—Great Googly Moogly. I loved this book. Paranormal action and suspense at its best. The ending could have had some more action, but an awesome read overall.
  4. Rescue Me – This is writing of First Person Present at its best. The tone did not jar me, and despite being downright offensive at times, this author kept me turning pages. Granted, I started to roll my eyes after the fortieth sex scene, but this novel really moved.
  5. Opal, Jennifer L. Armentrout–Yeah, another Lux novel. I really enjoy these. The concepts and characters continue to pull me in. Unfortunately, I had read the blurb on the next book before reading this, so I knew how it would end. Kind of ruined it for me. Great excitement and really awesome writing. This author has not let me down yet.
  6. Cinder, Marissa Meyer–I liked this book a lot. I just didn’t love it. While everyone is telling me book 2 is even better, I didn’t find myself instantly reaching for the next book, and I’m not sure I ever will. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It was. I’m not sure why I’m not continuing with the series.
  7. Midnight Dawn, Jocelyn Adams–Adams is another one of my favorite authors. She rarely disappoints me. Great story and great world and kick butt characters with explosive endings. What’s there not to love?
  8. Branded, Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki — This was a great fast-paced Dystopian. I had to cringe a few times over the violent images (not my thing) But the authors did manage to surprise me at the end. After hearing mixed reviews, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this.
  9. Call Me Grimm, Elizabeth Holloway – Really neat story. Great world building, but she lost me in the last sentence. Didn’t spoil the overall enjoyment of the book though.
  10. Ghosts in the Mirror, Joyce Mangola — Oooo ghosts. This is a unique pass at a ghost story. Ghosts jump into this poor kid and put him in a coma. Lots to love here. I would consider picking up another book in this series if there was one.
  11. Divergent, Veronica Roth–Okay, I’ll admit this was a DNF for me. I really enjoyed the writing and the flow of it all. But I saw the movie when I still had half the book to go. I just kind of lost interest after that. I will probably read more some day though.  I think all the talk about the rest of the books not being good may have turned me off as well. I’ll probably get back to it some day.
  12. Fire of Stars and Dragons, Melissa Petreshock—Girl has to marry either a dragon, a god, or a vampire king. They all have to woo her to win her love. Interesting premise, but told in first person from each male lead’s POV and the protagonist’s POV. Not crazy about the switching first person, but after a very shaky beginning, this was an enjoyable story overall.
  13. Damaged, H.M. Ward – Great story. Odd that I enjoyed it because it was contemporary romance. Really had me hooked, but it Didn’t end AT ALL. You need to buy book 2 to find out what happens. I did not buy book two. I felt cheated, and didn’t like not knowing if I’d have to buy book three, four, or more before the story completes. If a book is a serial, it should have a stamp on the cover or something. Instead of loving the book (which I was doing) I ended up ticked off at the end. Not good.
  14. The Brown House, Christy Sloat — Interesting and very complicated ghost premise (in a good way) This is a ghost story that really is not scary at all. (Like not even a creepy feeling) I got this book because it was based loosely on a real house and the weird things that happened here. It was neat reading another book that took place in New Jersey.
  15. Sleeping with a Stranger—A crit partner asked me to read this, because this is a writer she wanted to emulate. I was not impressed, but it could be a bad match of reader to book. I can’t relate to gambling or immature, dangerous behavior. I also felt the conflict was forced. (Note – After reading it, my crit partner agreed. She wondered if this was one of the author’s earlier works)
  16. Tempting the Bodyguard, Jennifer L. Armentrout writing as J. Lynn — Okay, this is my favorite author. Why is this book down here? Yikes! This book was not written for me. I picked it up expecting the same valued writing style that I enjoyed with the Lux books, but with an adult story. Boy, was that NOT what this was. Shame on me for expecting what this was not. There is a reason she changed her names for these books. Not. For. Me.
  17. The Witches of Glass Castle – DNF. I was bummed, because I could not engage with this story. Stinky, because so many people seemed to like it.


Dragon Eye, Anna Simpson–This is a cute story, great for a short read at the beach or while waiting in a doctor’s office. Just some good clean fun.

Pixified, Sheryl Winters–More good fun. Lots of goofy characters written tongue in cheeck. Read this with a smile on your face.

Craft Books:

1. Riveting you Reader with Deep Point Of View – AWESOME

2. Writing Fight Scenes: Almost put it down because the beginning was talking down to a novice, but later parts of the book were helpful. I like how it is divided into different sections for different types of fights.

So there you have it. What was the best book you read in 2014, and why did you love it?


If you are skimming a book, why even read it? What the ease of self-publishing has done to the “great” novel

I recently picked up a book that I was really excited about.  The premise was new to me, and the cover was stunning.  The five-star reviews on Amazon helped a bit too.  So I nestled down with my E-reader and delved into this wonderfully imagined tale.

swish swivel squiggle

***My bubble soon popped***

The idea of this story was great… elves live among us.  They look just like us, only a little shorter, and they are all quite beautiful.  The story is about an elf girl who is predestined to marry a particular elf, but they cannot meet until her eighteenth birthday. (Of course that gets screwed up or there wouldn’t be a story.) There is also this great buildup of a huge battle between dark and light elves.

(In respect to the author, I am not going to reveal the title or author. No one likes a bad review. And everyone should form their own opinion.)

The story sounded so exciting, but as I read, I had to wonder where all these five-star reviews came from.  Has the influx of bad novels stilted people’s reading so much that they would consider an average novel to be extraordinary?

I found tons of things wrong with this novel.  Long, unnecessary conversations with friends that have nothing to do with the story, several typos in the first few pages. (missing words) Scenes that seemed placed into the text just for page count that had nothing to do with the story, and so on.

But I delved on.  I figured all these stars had to come from somewhere.  So I started to skim, and skim, and skim. Then all of the sudden, the hero (future husband) pops up and gets jealous of a drunk guy hitting on his future bride (who he has not even officially met yet)…


Yeah… cold blooded murder. And then there is a conversation with his Dad about how it really didn’t even bother him to have killed someone.



I sooooooo don’t like this guy anymore. And I should like him, because the main character loves him. Right? (Or am I an old fogey and it is okay these days to have a murderer for a fiancée?)

I was resolved to see how the author would write her way out of that one… but she never did.

At the end, when I reached the big battle, I stopped skimming, but continued to be dissatisfied.

When I was done I shook my head.  How was this possible?  Why did I dislike this book so much when the premise seemed so good?

I looked back and checked to see who published it.  Yes, there was a publisher listed, so I looked up their website.  Guess what? No website.

[[Smacks herself in the head]]

Yep, I was duped.  This appears to be a self-published book with a fake publisher name to hide behind.  And the author did a great job…  good marketing and a gorgeous cover. I think they paid more attention to the cover and marketing than writing and editing.

Now… I am in no way shape or form saying that there is anything wrong with self-publishing.  There are some great self-published books out there. I think I gave a four star review to Sweet Blood of Mine.  It deserved it.

I know that many self-published authors paid their dues, learned their craft, and produced great works of art.  The problem is, these people are getting swallowed by the influx of people producing skim-worthy… or just plain HORRIBLE books.

I don’t even know what my point is. I guess I would not have been so bothered if there weren’t something like 250 five-star reviews on this work.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have never edited your manuscript, or had a beta reader other than your mother, or if you did have a few real beta-readers, and you ignored their shouts of “Show Verses Tell” or their requests to delete a scene, or NOT HAVE YOUR LOVE INTEREST KILL SOMEONE.  (Yeah, that part really bothered me)

Anyway… If any of the things above apply, but you went out to query anyway, and your received rejections, you may not want to take the easy way out and self-publish. Maybe you should really look at your writing, and try to figure out WHY you are getting rejections.

This book could have been AWESOME. The writer just needed a heavy line edit, and a proofreader. A good developmental editor could have made this sucker EPIC.  I mean seriously, this book could have been stupendous!

Was it that bad?

Well, no, but the work reads like little or no attention was given to make this story sparkle.

Yes, self-publishing may give you personal satisfaction.  Yes, most of your friends will not know the difference and they will be excited for you… but all these books out there make it really hard to find a good novel these days.  And with all those five-star reviews on this one particular book, I have to wonder if readers, in general, are losing their capacity to even notice a well crafted book when they read it.

It makes me sad.

Then again, maybe what a “good book” is has changed. Maybe I’m the one who needs to catch up with the times.


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How to write a confusing ending, but make it work. A review of “Now You See Me (2013)”

Movie Review: Now You See Me.

This is a movie that we rented maybe by accident. No one had ever heard of it, and no one remembered ordering it… but that didn’t stop a single one of us from loving it to pieces.

Initially, my husband decided not to watch, so I watched with my 13 year old son (I probably could have let the younger ones watch too, because there was only one curse I remember, a Sh#t. In a very appropriate place)  Anyway, we were originally going to watch half the first night and finish it the next night.

Nope. Didn’t happen. There is no turning his sucker off.

Since I’d never even heard of it, I’ll give you a ultra-short synopsis. This is about a group of four fairly descent magicians brought together by an “unknown” person to form the greatest magician act of all time. They commit robbery right on stage in front of packed houses, and give the money away.

Great new premise for me– yes, with a Robin hood appeal… but more twists and turns and surprises to even keep the action junkie in me screaming for more. (Because yes, the FBI and Interpol are trying to catch them the entire time)

Now lets chat a minute about the ending.  Yes, everything wraps up, but my son and I turned to each other and said “Huh? What happened?” Normally, this would tick me off to no end. But it didn’t.

The next day I said to Dude: “Did you figure out that ending?”


“But did you still like the movie?”

“Yo, totally. It was awesome.”

And I had to agree. It WAS awesome.

Neither one of us “got” part of the ending, but it did not spoil the utter enjoyment of a nice, clean thrill ride.

Intrigued by my lack of hate over this, I roped my husband into watching it, and I re-watched the ending with him. He was less confused than we were, pointing out that every last thread of a very complicated plot was ironed out.

Yes, it was, and quite beautifully. Someone spent a great deal of time mapping this sucker out.

But, I said, “What about [that one scene] what happened there?”

My husband laughed and said. “Who cares?”

You know what? He was 100% right.

Who cares?

For the first time I had something about an ending that I was not completely happy with, but I really didn’t care. This may end up on my list of favorite movies to watch again.  The cinematography and magic shows alone are a hoot to watch.

And everyone who watches the movie will probably have a different explanation about what happened in “that scene in central park”, but does it really matter?

When story-telling is this good… no, it really doesn’t matter.

A few minutes ago I went scoping around to see if this was originally a book. If it was, I could not find it. I would have loved to see from the characters’ POV what happened in “that scene”. But since I will probably never know, I will make it up. I can do that. I’m an author.

And that’s okay.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that’s okay.