Tag Archives: Book Review

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

Book Review of “Surrender” by Aimee Lane

I wrote the header for this post, and then I sat and stared at it for a while. I’m not even sure how to review this book. Let’s try to start with the basics.

Were there any explosions? Yes, there was, but you’d miss it is you blinked. I had to re-read the section to make sure what happened…. But there was an explosion, so she earns an extra cookie for her efforts.

What POV was it in? Second person. That was fine… but it switched back and forth between the character of Lily and Cael. For half of the book, this worked wonderfully. The other half, it didn’t work for me. I’ll explain later.

Okay… let’s get into the good stuff

Oreo Top

Aimee Laine has a sharp writing style. She is crisp, concise, and not overbearing on her settings. I prefer a novel that moves, and for the most part, Surrender does keep flowing.

The last 40% or so (yeah, I read on a Kindle) flew by. Great plot, great pace, and lots of heart pumping excitement. I really enjoyed it and had trouble putting it down.

Oreo Middle

Head Hopping:

Okay… so… here is my problem. I completely understand why she skipped between points of view in the end of the novel. I worked beautifully.

However, it didn’t work so well for me in the beginning. I think I could have gone through almost all of the beginning entirely in Lily’s POV and not missed out on much.

I think the author tried to keep it consistent, and made sure we saw Cael’s POV in the beginning so it was not jarring at the end. For me, it backfired, because I found I wanted to stay with Lily.

Too many characters.

There were just too many characters in Surrender. Half the time I was lost and had no idea who was who. Now, in saying this, there was a “book one” that I did not read. This may be part of my confusion. But my mind wanted to focus on Cael and Lily and the family that Lily went to live with. But Cael was always involved with long conversations with other people that just seemed to go on forever (from my perspective) because I wanted to get back to Lily.

Aimee Laine did her job, in that I cared about Lily… but I just didn’t care about all the rest of them… even if they were trying to save Lily.

Long conversations.

I touched on this a second ago. I feel like there were too many extended conversations. Honestly, I started to skim from time to time, thinking: “Let’s get back to Lily.”

Was this two short stories that became a novel?

At about 40% in to the novel, I was dreading writing this review. For the reasons above, I was really not liking it. It felt like it was winding down, and it pretty much did, with one loose end. But there was still 60% of the novel to go.

Huh

Oreo Bottom

All of the sudden, when the characters grabbed onto that little loose end, my interest became peaked. Suddenly, I was drawn in. I cared. I stayed up late reading. I hid from my kids trying to get a few extra pages in. We had company, and I was bored, so I scooted upstairs and got a chapter in and slipped back before anyone wondered about me. I was interested. I was hooked. It came together.

I did have a slight cringe when three or so new characters were introduced into the ensemble, but the pacing kept me going. Right up until the very last page you find yourself on a roller-coaster ride of awesomeness.

When I finished, I closed my Kindle and said “Wow, that was great.”

But here lies my quandary… I feel like I have read one three-cookie “okay” book, and one four cookie “really great” book. So how the heck do you tie that all together?

I’m just not sure. I wish that the author had found a way get past the first half of the book faster. There just seemed to be too much fat there, when all the beefy good stuff was at the end.

Would I recommend Surrender?

Yeah, I think so. Especially if you read Little White Lies. The beginning might make more sense if you have read the first novel in the series.

But if you find the beginning a little “tame”, don’t hate me… just get to about the 40% point and enjoy the ride. The second half of the novel really moves, and it is an enjoyable, tense read right up until the last few pages.

A Review of “Instinct” by J.A. Belfield

I gave this novella a try despite my better judgment about a shorter work with the “same” characters in a different setting from the original novel Darkness and Light.

DARKNESS AND LIGHT referenced a “past life” meeting between Jem and Sean, and this initial meeting is the premise for “Instinct”.

The idea of werewolves in a pre-electricity setting intrigued me.  Within the first few pages, I was swept up in the story, and quite glad I’d given it a try.

Despite its length, I found this in many ways superior to the full-length novel.  I’m not sure if it was setting or the interesting pickle Sean was in. Werewolves, after all, are not supposed to fall in love with humans.  It’s a big No-No, and boy does the head of the pack get ticked off when he finds out!

The world- building is excellent. I really felt drawn back in time, and the idea of werewolves just seemed to “fit” in the setting beautifully.  If you haven’t read Darkness and Light, I’d recommend “Instinct” first to wet your appetite and decide if the premise turns you on, because these are the two characters who are reincarnated in Darkness and Light.

Personally, I would have loved to see Instinct continue.  I think it had novel-length potential, and I enjoyed the historical setting immensely.

Click here to tweet about this review: http://clicktotweet.com/6lgeC

A Review of “A Touch of Greek” by Tina Folsom

Okay, honestly, this is the type of book that I normally wouldn’t admit to reading. I’m not really even sure why I picked it up.  I was looking for something “light” to read and something brought this to my attention, so here we are.  Ugh… I’m embarrassed to say that I really enjoyed “A Touch of Greek” [[cringe]]

The premise is that Super-Hunky Greek God Triton gets caught sleeping with the wrong woman.  Zeus gets ticked, and due to Triton’s history of womanizing he decides to teach Triton a lesson. He strips the young god of his powers and sends him down to Earth. He can only get his powers back if he can convince a mortal woman to love him.  And just for fun, this woman ends up being blind, so she cannot even be attracted to his godly good looks.

Yeah, yeah I know – the whole idea just makes me want to barf too, but I still liked it!

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the writing was awesome.  In fact, I thought I was reading a middle grade book to start, and ageless Triton spoke like a middle-schooler in the early chapters.  He was totally unbelievable… but I pressed on because “something” and I’m not even sure what, held my interest.

By the end, I was really rooting for Triton.  I got scared when I should be scared, and happy when I should be happy, and really nervous when the God of the sea was not there to stop a natural catastrophe.

Come on!  Fall in love with him already!  Don’t you know thousands will die if he doesn’t get his powers back???? Geesh!

[Snicker] I am soooooo laughing at myself.  Despite this books flaws, it was genuinely entertaining.  I turned off my ever-present internal editor and just enjoyed a light, fun to read story.

I’ll subtract one star for the hokey beginning, and poor dialog from Triton in the early chapters, but I can forgive the rest for the genuinely fun read this was. And the writing seemed better as the novel progressed too, so it is quite possible that the tone of the writing in the early pages was a plot device that was just lost on me.

Rocket Science this is not, but sometimes ya gotta just relax and read something just for the fun of reading, you know what I mean?

JenniFer_EatonF

Road to Publication #25 – One week to Release Day – And the Reviews are in…. Deep Breath

I think I’ve mentioned that people have contacted me to say that they liked the story.  Yeah, that gave me the grins and giggles.  But the actual reviews have now started to pop up on Goodreads. (Amazon is not live until the actual release date.)

When I heard, my hands shook.  “Nope, not going to look.”  I was a wreck.  Then I got a nudge from a friend telling me that I should definitely look.

Here are the reviews of “Make Believe” so far on Goodreads… cutting out just the parts that mention Last Winter Red. Links are included in case you want to see the full review.

Brook – 4 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/459716333

Last Winter Red was probably my most favorite story. I am really into dystopian literature and this definitely had that underlying theme. I loved the world building that went on. And I liked the separation of the “classes” in the two different worlds, which is something you see in all dystopian novels. I could definitely see this story sprouting into a book or even a series. And I loved the twist to this story, it was one I was not expecting!

Jill – 4 Stars  http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/462048340

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton … was an interesting story. It reminded me a little of Brave New World. We have to civilizations living apart from each other both thinking the other is diseased and living a strange lifestyle. This follows a girl that is moving from one civilization to the other and the discoveries she makes about her life and herself. This is one of the top stories in the anthology.

Danielle Villano – 4 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/460337884

This was such a great premise for a story! “Last Winter Red” had a significant dystopian feel that was not present in the other pieces, and so it stands out in my mind. While Emily is a bit whiny as a main character, her personality is completely justified: her upbringing has her believing that she is entitled to a certain way of living, and a certain caliber of privilege. As she leaves the boundaries of the Red and enters the world of the Gray, she is faced with the fact that she is “different,” and not cut out for the hardened Gray lifestyle. The twist in this story was very well-done and I enjoyed it immensely.

Rachael Morgan – 4 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/442896275

MAKE BELIEVE is a magical collection of short stories. Just the right size for someone like me who falls into bed too late every night and doesn’t have much time (or energy) left to read! It was a pleasure to escape into so many diverse fantasy worlds, some completely different from our own, others familiar but with a dash of the paranormal. All the stories were well-written, but I think my favourite was LAST WINTER RED, followed by BIRTHRIGHT. Those two captured my attention the most, and kept me clicking through the pages when I should have been switching off my light and sleeping! Overall, an enjoyable escape from the real world. Fantasy-lovers should definitely check this one out.

Jen – At Random – 5 Stars http://lratrandom.blogspot.com/2012/11/make-believe-anthology.html      (Loved it overall and didn’t comments on any story specifically.

Aimee Lane – 5 Stars http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/327147561

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton 4/5
Another self-sacrifice story, but one mixed in with selfishness (on some people’s parts) and a totally different world in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic setting. I liked that this was totally different than the rest with its settings and purpose.

Sans – 5 Stars on Amazon

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton
This one is a kind of dystopian tale in that Terra is surrounded by a wall to keep out the “diseased”, the people inside are known as Reds. Reds are supposed to marry and have many children to increase the population as they all seem to die young. Outside the people are known as Grays, or vermin. The two are not supposed to mix ever. There’s a “red” doctor trying to help the grays and give them health care as they seem to be living to older ages and have age related ailments that need medical help. Emily is a Red besotted with the doctor who ferrys the doctor supplies from Terra to Outside. Emily’s husband died before they have children so she now needs to find a new husband and begin having children to contribute in Terra and be considered a good valued Red.
I enjoyed this as the dystopian genre is one of my favourites. I would also love
to read more about these characters too. Maybe this short story could be the
start of a series?  So I would give this story a 5/5 I want more!

Wow.  Ya gotta love that!  But I’m a realist, so I will now stop reading them again until someone nudges me.

This really helps me moving forward, though.  Maybe I should step out of my comfort zone more often!

How about you… have you had success with something that was far different from anything you’ve done before?

Review of Eragon by Christopher Paolini. What did you think? I mean seriously?

The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer and I discuss the Novel Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

Now, to be honest I read this before I started beta-reading, so I was able to turn off my internal editor and just enjoy the story… but I really liked it, for all the same reasons Dude talks about here. Take a listen, and if you’ve read it, let me know what YOU thought, and why.

So, what are your thoughts on Eragon? I mean seriously. Come on and chime in!

Related articles

The best dang book I’ve ever read with such a Sh*tty beginning

If you are looking for the Spooky Halloween blog hop, click HERE

Ha!  Nothing like letting it all out in the title.  Note to self … never write a book review when you’re in this kind of mood… but I am in this kind of mood, and I already started, so here we go…

Today, we’re going to talk about the YA novel Crux, by Julie Reece.  Now for starters, I am going to openly admit that Julie Reece is the author I spoke about several months ago who jumped out of the Scribophile world and offered to help me when I needed a beta reader for Last Winter Red.  Will this skew my review?  (I think you know me better than that by now.)  I can honestly say I’ve never met Julie Reece, and wouldn’t know her if I tripped over her in a Wal-Mart.  So, no… no problems there.

So this is the deal.  I picked up Crux for two reasons.  #1:  Awesome cover.  Totally love it and I’ve made a note to find out who the cover artist is, ‘cause it stopped me dead in my tracks several times.  Brilliant cover in my opinion.

The second reason this moved up in the ranks of my “to read” list is because the author is uber nice, and really helped me out when I was in a bind.  (It’s that marketing think I’ve been talking about)

So, the basics…

This was written in first person “I” which I’ve subtracted a cookie for in the past, but I’m going to stop doing so now because I’m starting to see first person written well.  Crux is no exception.

Tense:  This was written in present tense.  Ugh!  Sorry, Ms. Reece, but it drove me a little batty.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  She did it well.  Once I got used to it the tense was okay.  The problem is I needed to “get used to it” every time I started reading the book.  I’m not sure why this is, and I am willing to admit that it could just be me.  Within a page of reading every night, I was swept away by the story and forgot the tense… but since it jarred me every time I picked up the novel, I need to subtract a cookie.

Were there any explosions?  Yes!  Well, no… Ummm… sort of.  Geeze!  I’m gonna say yes.  It wasn’t really an explosion, but it had to do with a whole bunch of water and it was uber-fun.  Loved it!  I will let this fall into the explosion category and give her the extra cookie for it.  (I can’t tell you what happens with the water or it will be a spoiler)

Okay, so starting with five cookies, she dropped to four and then hopped back up to five for the modified explosion.  Here we go:

The Oreo Cookie concept… Start with the crunchy goodness, dig into the gooey bad stuff, and end on a crunchy good note

The top of the cookie:

Crux is a wonderfully imaginative story, completely original with kick-but characters that are wonderfully easy to relate to (right down to the dog)  Even the bad guy is the sleazy gotta-love-him type.  There is a strong romantic plotline and the attraction between Grey and Birdie is both completely believable, and undeniable.  This is probably the most cleanly written relationship I have EVER read.  There was no doubt in my mind, for a single second that the characters were attracted to each other, and acted the way the way they did…

… and Grey… DANG.  For the first time ever I can understand how women can swoon over a guy from a book.  I don’t know if she just hit on exactly the type of guy I like or what… but his “package”  (tee hee) has more to do with his actions and personality than his looks.  Awesome Character.

Birdie, the female lead is a great “kick butt” chic.  She comes from a troubled past, doesn’t think of herself as strong, but all of the sudden the weight of the world is on her shoulders.  This is a “super hero like” story with a likable and believable teen in the role of hero.

The middle of the cookie:  The bad stuff

I already subtracted a cookie for the present tense, so I won’t go into it again.  There is actually only two other things I have to pick on about this novel because this sucker is CLEAN (not even any typos, come to think of it… I should have mentioned that earlier.

Anyway…

Near the end of the novel, our hero Birdie is holding someone’s hand and “thinking”.  She opens her eyes, and the person who’s hand she is holding is on the other side of the room and walking towards her.  Huh?

I read the passage over and over again, trying to figure out what I had missed.  This bothered me so much that before I wrote this review, I contacted the author and asked about it.  She sent back a marked up version of her manuscript page that clearly showed that when she was “thinking” she was in a flashback, and she was never actually holding the person’s hand at all (At that very moment in time).  It made complete sense to me as I looked at the marked up manuscript pointing out the elements that I’d missed.

However, I went back to my Kindle, prepped with my new information about what I’d missed… AND I READ IT EXACTLY THE SAME WAY I did when I had read it the first, second, third, and fourth time.  Now, I am willing to admit that this may be just because I am a bimbo, but I’m figuring I’m probably not the only bimbo out there.  If the author didn’t point out what I’d missed, and couldn’t explain the passage, I would have subtracted a whole cookie, but for this confusion I need to subtract at least a quarter of a cookie… just to make the bimbos of the world not feel so bad.

Another thing… The beginning.  Ugh.  I really didn’t like it.  I am Sooooo glad that I had already purchased the novel, because if I read the first few pages in a preview, I would have dumped it.  It’s a shame really.  A Kick-Butt novel like this should have a kick-butt beginning… something with more excitement.  Frankly, I was bored and completely uninterested.

When I finished the novel, I actually went back and re-read the beginning, and found it read WORSE than it did the first time.  Mainly it had to do with the character of Jeff, who I really didn’t like or understand the first read.  In the second read, I found everything in the beginning both out of character, and completely unbelievable in the realm of the overall plot. The beginning felt like it was written after the rest of the novel… I have to think that at one time it was written another way, but the author got some bad advice and changed it toooooo… ugh.  I’m gonna pretend the novel starts at the point of Birdie running into the restaurant and meeting Grey and his family for the first time.  That is followed by a KICK BUTT car chase.  From this point on, the novel is an awesome roller coaster ride.  The beginning would have been better taken care of in “gentle” backstory and inner thoughts, in my opinion.

Since many reading Crux might dump this novel before it gets good enough for us action lovers, I need to drop another quarter cookie.

The bottom of the cookie;  Ending on a crunchy good note.

About three quarters of the way through the book, a little light bulb went off in my head.  It had to do with the dog.  When that little bulb blinks for me, it is a do or die trigger for the novel.  I think “If I’m right, it will ruin the entire novel for me”.  As I read the end, my neck muscles tightened, because it looked more and more like I was right… but in the last seconds, what I was dreading didn’t happen.  “Whew” what a relief.  I’m still not completely convinced that I’m not right… but at least it did not ruin this book for me (although it might blunder a sequel if not done well)

The ending was action packed and exciting.  Lots of swords and mayhem and even a few heads getting lopped off for those of you who are in-to that sort of stuff.  It was all done without the gore factor though, and the person doing the lopping was not enjoying it one iota.  Even with the violence, I have added this to the Monomaniacle Middle Grade Reviewer’s reading list, just to see if he enjoys the book as much as I did.

The only minor thing I will mention about the ending, is that I think it could have sewn up just a little faster.  Yes, I know sometimes I complain things sew up tooo fast, but I think this dragged on just a touch too long.  I realize though that the next book was being set up, and a few things needed to be ironed out…. Which is good.

Everything is ironed out… even the minor side plotlines, but a few things are left “kind of open” which leaves us ready for a sequel, without leaving the reader feeling cheated.  Yes, there is an ending, and it is solid.  Nicely done.

So… the verdict is?

We start with five cookies.  She lost one for present tense, but gained one back for the “water-kinda like an explosion” thing.  We lost a quarter cookie for the beginning of the book, and then we lost a quarter of a cookie because I’m a bimbo.  (Sorry, my review, my rules)

So, we have four and a half out of five Oreos for Crux… and a firm place in the top five novels I have ever read, (despite the Sh*tty beginning… which says a LOT about the strength of this story.)

Pick up Crux to research:  Great character development, relationship building, realistic dialog, pacing, and just for an all-around fun read.

 

I’m sorry. I like you, I just didn’t like your book.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  I read a book by a friend of mine, and I just didn’t like it.

Was there anything wrong with her writing?  No, not really.  It was just a disappointing read for me. So, what did I do?  I finished it, and I moved on to something else, kept my mouth shut, and I didn’t do a book review.

At one point, in a forum we are both on, she said, referring to me finishing her novel:  “I guess no news is good news, yikes”.  Well, there was no actual question asked in the statement, so again, I kept my mouth shut.  I thought I had ducked the bullet.

Today she sent me a private message. (Almost a month later) She asked me if I hated it.  My heart sank.  What the heck do you say?  I don’t want to lie. It’s not that it’s a bad book.  It was traditionally published, so someone had to think it was good, and it had a few good reviews.  I just happened to agree with the bad ones.  I would have given the book three stars if I’d reviewed it, but in doing this, I felt like I would have to list the things that I didn’t like.

I have a policy not to review books I don’t like at all.  (Although some would say I’m lethal even when I do like a book :-) )

The way I figure it —  It doesn’t help the author any to bring their rating down because I didn’t care for it.  That’s why you have only seen four star reviews so far.  The stuff that I haven’t liked, I’ve set aside (except for that one I reviewed without giving the author’s name or book title)

So now, I’m stewing, and writing a blog post about it.  I need to say something to her by tonight.

Whattya do?

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #10: Interaction is the name of the game

How you interact with others will have a HUGE impact on your careers

  • Join your first writing group ASAP and join as many as you can
  • Find other authors who might help you
  • Go to Writers conferences – You can meet people who can help you.  They might tell you where a conference is and you may meet someone there (agent publisher)
  • Remember, you will get a lot of useless information
  • But also remember, you will get some great information as well.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com