Thursday, September 30, 2010

Character Connection (3): Samhain Corvus LaCroix - Scroggins Style

Character Connection is a weekly meme hosted by Jen at The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

It's Banned Book Week, as I'm sure you all know, and in honor of this, I've decided to do another post in the style of censorship's most recently vocal spokesperson: Wesley Scroggins, Morality Judge of the WORLD. Enjoy!

(Note: There will be non-specific story spoilers!)

Scroggins Would Say: "I cannot even express how dangerous "Hold Me Closer, Necromancer" is to impressionable teens. Not only does it seek to corrupt them into practicing occult rituals, but it is underhanded and tricky in doing so. Just look at the main character's name! "Sam" - an innocent and biblical name, or so you think! His name is actually Samhain, which is PAGAN - one step away from SATANIC! And furthermore, "Sam" (I can't bring myself to type that pagan word again), isn't an ordinary teen working at a fast food restaurant like a responsible member of society, as he first appears, but is in fact a NECROMANCER. That's right. He is able, through unholy black magic and pagan ceremonies, to bring back and control the dead.

"Sam" and his friends are vulgar and irresponsible (lying to police and covering up several crimes!) and cruel to the only normal boy in the story. Don't believe for one moment that they are the "good guys"! There are NO "good guys" in a book for young adults that promotes this type of behavior as well as witchcraft and the occult and necromancy and SEX. Oh yes, "Sam" has sex... with a non-human... and enjoys it. Luckily, I do not believe there was mention of prophylactics involved!

This book should be avoided at all costs. It contains subject matter that is unsafe for any moral reader to handle. Do not be fooled by the "humor" or the themes of camaraderie or understanding or acceptance - these are not honestly come by - they are requirements of the cult of which "Sam" is a recruiting member!"

My Thoughts:
Of course the above represents the most ridiculous arguments against the book that I could come up with...  This is a fantasy book, and so, like Harry Potter, the reader understands that the magical and supernatural parts of the story are not real. It seems only those who seek to censor these types of books fail to see the difference.

I personally loved the book, and Sam is a great character. He is brave and loyal and tries to do the right thing even when everything around him is going wrong. Sam struggles with learning who he really is, which is something that ALL teenagers cope with, necromancers or not. Sam is brilliant, funny, honest, and accepting of peoples' differences. These are the things that matter, not those things we cannot control.

For my full and glowing review, click here.

Censorship... That way lies madness.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Would Scroggins Say? Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

In honor of Banned Books Week, and in light of criticism of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. by a certain Morality Judge of the World (Hey there Mr. Scroggins! And I didn't even know you were running!), I've started wondering what he would have to say about other great and important books... I'm sure that it was incredibly hard for him to narrow down the choices to only three. But, since he didn't impose give his opinion on other books, we'll just have to guesstimate!

So here's my first "WWSS?" post... The book being Scrogginspected is Annie On My Mind, by Nancy Garden.

What Would Scroggins Say?: This book is a danger to teens and young adults. It is an enticement to the fragile, developing brain of impressionable youngsters to engage in PORNOGRAPHY and HOMOSEXUALITY! The teens in this book are RULE BREAKERS! One of the girls even set up an EAR PIERCING station in the school, which caused ear infections! This girl is the STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT! Is this the role model you wish your children to aspire to be? On several occasions, they bare their IMAGINATIONS in public! They even utilize the empty home of a TEACHER for their DALLIANCES, although it's no wonder, since the students obviously picked up the GAY VIBES from the teachers themselves, which, much like a parasite burrowed into the IMAGINATION of the students and spread like a disease! IT'S CONTAGIOUS! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! The progression from becoming GAY to engaging in BESTIALITY and NECROPHILIA is a slippery slope! PROTECT THE CHILDREN!!

What I Say: All jokes aside, it scares me that people actually DO think like that. It's a ridiculous and insidious fear-based method of control. People who think this way are afraid, and so they seek to spread their influence through fear in order to control others.

So let me say this now: There is no need to fear people who simply choose to love a little differently than you do.
Annie On My Mind is a celebration of finding oneself and finding someone to accept and love you for who you are. This book is about courage and understanding and strength and conviction. This book is about standing up for what is right, not simply what is easy. This book is about telling the world that nobody has the right to tell anyone else where their happiness should come from.

Wesley Scroggins gives me a reason to fear - but it's not the one he intended. In his closed-minded judgment, in his willingness to dictate what should be taught - not just to his own children, or even his own classes, but the entire school, and surely beyond, if he can manage it, and in his ignorance and twisted perceptions of what constitutes "pornography", he frightens me.

Do not let ignorance like that Mr. Scroggins has shown dictate your lives. His arguments against Speak, Twenty Boy Summer and Slaughterhouse-Five are ridiculous. He is ridiculous for trying to stifle free expression and thought, for trying to stifle creativity and art, for trying to stifle learning and knowledge. Hopefully you think my parody of his type of arguments is equally ridiculous.

We need to move forward toward progress and understanding and acceptance, not backwards into hatred and fear and superstition. That is all. 

If you would like to do your own "What Would Scroggins Say?" parody, I'd love to see it! Please link to your post below. :)

Smut-tember... And I'm Spent!

Mission accomplished! I have completed my goal of reading five smutty romance books for the month of September!

For someone who rarely reads romance, this was venturing outside of my genre comfort zone a bit, but it was fun and I learned that I can actually like them! Who knew? Of course, I didn't read a single Harlequin, so the jury's still out on those, but as far as historical romance and romantic suspense? I think I can handle those. The jury's still out on paranormal romance too, because out of the five books I read, that was the one I liked least. Maybe I've yet to find any really good ones? I mean, I enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse series, but after a while, they just started getting annoying. That's probably just due to Eric though. I do expect more from a man than rippling hair and abs.

Anyway... Here's the score for Smut-tember!

Angels, Sinners & Madmen1) Angels, Sinners & Madmen by Cate Masters
Type: Historical
Pages: 183 (ebook)
Star Rating: 2/5 (Review)
Steamy Scenes: 1
Steam Level: 4/10 (Revised from previous. I done been learned.)
This book had a lot of potential, but I just felt that it felt a bit flat and hollow.

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancees, #1)2) The Bride by Julie Garwood
Type: Historical
Pages: 357
Star Rating: 3/5 (Review)
Steamy Scenes: 4 or 5
Steam Level: 6/10
I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It was fun, funny and sexy. :)

Gentle Warrior (Tapestry Romance)3) Gentle Warrior by Julie Garwood
Type: Historical
Pages: 309
Star Rating: 3/5 (Goodreads Review)
Steamy Scenes: 3 or 4
Steam Level: 5/10
This one seemed like the fore-runner to The Bride, and wasn't quite as good, but still pretty decent and fun.

Dangerous Tides (Drake Sisters, #4)4) Dangerous Tides (Drake Sisters #4) By Christine Feehan
Type: Paranormal
Pages: 354
Star Rating: 1/5 (Goodreads Review)
Steamy Scenes: 2
Steam Level: 8/10
The sexy-time was pretty good here, but the writing was just not good. :(

Wait Until Midnight5) Wait Until Midnight by Amanda Quick
Type: Historical
Pages: 350
Star Rating: 4/5 (Goodreads Review)
Steamy Scenes: 2
Steam Level: 5/10
This was my favorite of the five. Realistic characters, good story and writing and realistic love scenes. I very much enjoyed this one!

So there you have it. I have succumbed to the wiles of romance, at least temporarily, and while I see that I prefer historical romance over other types, I'm still keeping an open mind. (Just don't let Wesley Scroggins see what I've been reading! O_O)

If you participated in Smut-tember with Jackie and I, let us know how you did... or if you read any really smut-tastic books that you wanna share! :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review: The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional ★★★★

The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a ProfessionalMy rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this ebook for review from the author.

I consider myself to be something of a stickler for proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and capitalization. I have always had a knack for grammar, even though I am not an expert on the rules, and certainly don't know them upside down and backwards, I generally have a feel for them, and not to toot my own horn too much, I'm often right.

Even though I was interested in the book due to the subject matter, grammar is hardly exciting reading, so I was slightly nervous that the book might be dry, boring or tedious. It wasn't. I found the book to be interesting, informative, personable, and even funny at times. Yaffe sprinkled anecdotes throughout the text which lightened the tone of the book, and made it feel as if it was a friendly tutoring session rather than a pre-final lecture.

This book focused on expository writing, such as training documents, memos, articles, newsletters, etc, more than writing for entertainment or enjoyment. I am not a professional journalist or writer, but I do use written communication and presentations in my day-to-day work, and while I feel like I am a good communicator, I still feel as though I picked up some useful information here.

My favorite tip was the "inverted pyramid" and related tests. The inverted pyramid is a method of writing which structures your text into a lead-in section and then the supporting details in the body. The lead-in should contain all of the most important and informative information regarding the subject, and the body should contain the details which provide additional information. There are two related tests which go hand-in-hand with this method: the "Stop Reading Test" and the "Q&A Test".

The Stop Reading Test is designed to ensure that busy readers can glean as much information as possible, as quickly as possible, from your writing. The test helps to indicate how much of the article or text a person would have to read in order to obtain a full understanding of the topic -- the more they have to read, the more likely the text should be rewritten more concisely and to the point, so that a reader can stop reading after the first paragraph and still understand the entire text's purpose.

The Q&A Test is designed to answer potential questions in the body of the text to support the lead-in. As a writer adds sentences, they should anticipate questions that the reader may have, and answer them, so that by the end of the text, the reader has a full understanding of the information provided.

These are brilliant tips that I wish were used more often, especially in the workplace. I detest having to read through pages and pages of a document just to learn one bit of information that could have been explained in a paragraph-long brief up front. I wish that this technique was used more widely!

In addition to these, Yaffe's book contains many examples, exercises, tips and guidelines to help mold us into better communicators. This includes orally speaking and presenting information, which is just as important in the professional world as writing is. There are subtle differences that one should bear in mind between the different types of communication, because they are similar, but using only one set of methods for both will result in a failure to engage and interest your audience.

I found this book to be enlightening and informative, and with the exception of two typos, very well written and helpful. I would definitely recommend this to those people looking to improve their professional communication, both written and spoken.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September Book Ban - Three Week Status

Another week down and no books purchased! :D Had a close call the other day when I was passing the thrift store, which is like a Haven of Inexpensive Paperbacks (Cue angelic singing) or better known as my DANGER ZONE. But I didn't go in. I was strong.

So here's the updated tally of books read this month:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Haunting of Hill House
Angels, Sinners & Madmen (Review Book & Smut-tember eligible)
The Reapers are the Angels (Review Book)
The Bride (for Smut-tember)
Star Wars: Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina
Gentle Warrior (For Smut-tember)
and I'm working my way through The House of The Spirits.

I'm pretty happy about this. This year I've been averaging about 9 books a month, and I've already met that for this month, and I still have a week left.

Unfortunately, I've very recently formed an addiction to Pawn Stars on Netflix. By "recently" I mean on Saturday night, and by "addiction" I mean that I've watched all of the first season and half of the second since then. This is seriously cutting into my reading time. But I just love it. It's like the BAMF version of Antiques Roadshow! :D

So... that's my update for this week. One more to go, and then I will have succeeded in my goal. Pretty sweet. My birthday is this Friday, which also happens to be payday (DANGER! DANGER!) so we'll see if I can make it through my very own Book Ban Hell Week without caving... Wish me luck! :D

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: The Bride by Julie Garwood ★★★

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancees, #1)
I have to admit, I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I thought that I would. I am not a romance reader by nature. I do enjoy romance in the stories I read. I just don't go for books in which the romance is the central plot or point of the story. Give me soul-crushing tear-jerkers about human suffering, or horror, or a classic, or, really just about anything else first. But I agreed to read at least 5 romance books for a friend's blog activity for September, so here I am, reading and surprisingly enjoying romance.

The basic premise here is that a 12th century Scottish laird is ordered to take an English wife by his king, and an English Baron is ordered by HIS king to marry one of his daughters to him. Oh, the atrocity! Those Scottish are barbarians! The English are cowards and weak! Ack! Hiss! Boo!

So the marriage takes place, and all of a sudden Alec Kincaid, Laird of the Kincaid clan, is saddled with a feisty and not at all thrilled to be married Jamie (who has a man's name).

Hilarity ensues (at least to me) when their personalities clash. Oh my goodness, I found their disagreements and misunderstandings and attempts to rile each other extremely funny. In fact, I spent a good 3/4 of the book giggling to myself like a crazy woman. I think that it was this aspect, more than anything else that caused me to like the book. True, the lurvin' was pretty steamy, but it was admittedly a little repetitive too, as were certain conversations disagreements arguments between husband and wife.

On top of this, there was a secondary mystery plotline, which was meant, I'm sure, to ratchet up the suspense: Just when things are getting cozy, there's an attempt on Jamie's life! But the way that it was written felt awkward and out of place. There would just be a random paragraph from the Mystery Murderer at the end of random chapters, in italics, and in 1st person narrative.

So he thinks to take an English wife. Well, she's no match for me. I hope he loves her. It will make it all the sweeter when I watch her die and challenge him. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Yep, like that. Well, maybe without the maniacal laughter. That may have been an embellishment on my part. But I did hear it in my head every time I read one of these little sections!

There was very little that was historically accurate in the book. I mean, the big stuff, like the King and the clan feuds and that stuff, sure, but the devil is in the details, and it just felt a bit modern. The dialogue was definitely modern, but after a while I just got used to it. But I still wanted to mention it.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read and provided me with some laughs, so maybe I'll look into more of Garwood's books in the future. ;)

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September Book Ban - Mid-way point

September is already half over! This means that summer is officially gone, fall is almost here, and winter is right around the corner. My birthday is coming up in 9 days, and so far, I've been a really good girl when it comes to not acquiring new books, and I've done pretty well in the reading department too!

So far this month I've read:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Haunting of Hill House
Angels, Sinners & Madmen
and The Reapers are the Angels

I'm currently reading The House of the Spirits and The Bride (which is for Smut-tember!). Not too shabby!

But still I've been tempted... very tempted to buy books. I went to Barnes & Noble to drool over look at the nook again, because I really think that this will be my next book related purchase. While there, my boyfriend wanted to browse, and he left me unchaperoned in my own personal Temptation Zone. He's a very cruel boy, and one day he will pay.

But I succeeded in being strong and not getting any new books. (Although I did have a minor panic attack when I noticed that they had rearranged the store since my last visit, and I couldn't find their horror section anymore... or more importantly, where they hid Stephen King. I couldn't leave until I'd found him, and was very disappointed when I discovered that he was shunted all the way to the back, like they thought of him as that drunk uncle who always tells the one embarrassing story you wish he'd just forget already because it happened 20 years ago and nobody thinks its funny so maybe he won't be invited to the next get-together, but in the meantime, lets just seat him far away from the NORMAL people at dinner. HMPH. I love you, Stephen King, even if Barnes & Noble doesn't!)

The real temptation was the discount store where the Boy buys paint for his artwork... They sell EVERYTHING there, and they have a rather large discount book section, where Hardcover books are usually around $4 and Paperbacks are $2. And they were having a 1/2 price sale. Every book. It's like they knew I was coming in, and they wanted to make me suffer. Jerks.

I held my own though! I browsed... I touched and held and admired the books, but I did not purchase any. TAKE THAT OLLIE'S!

So... Half the month is gone and I've been good. Hopefully, the 2nd half of the month will go well also! Wish me luck!

If you're refraining from new book purchases this month, whether officially or not, let me know how you're doing. There's safety in numbers, you know! :P

Monday, September 13, 2010

Giveaway: The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell

The Reapers Are the Angels Halloween is coming!  

Here's your chance to win a copy of Alden Bell's post-apocalyptic zombie novel. There are thrills, close calls, double taps, gore and a realism that might keep you up at night, mixed in with a literary feel one doesn't normally see in zombie lit.

My full review is here.

If you are interested in adding this book to your Halloween line-up, and would like to enter to win a copy, just fill out this form.

*You do not need to follow my blog to enter, but I do appreciate it, as well as any advertising you want to do on Twitter or sidebars, etc.*

Since I will be shipping the book out at my own expense, I'll have to limit this one to US only. Sorry International peeps! The giveaway will end at midnight EST on Friday, October 1st, and I'll announce the winner sometime that day.

Good luck!

Review: The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell ★★★

The Reapers Are the Angels
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, and I must say that I was thrilled with the offer because 1) I love zombies, and 2) I love apocalypses and this story has both. It didn't disappoint in either of those regards.

It took me a little while to get into this story, honestly, even though the premise is one that appeals to me so much. The story is told in a 3rd person omniscient narration, but also through Temple's eyes, in a way. Her unique take on life comes through the narration perfectly, and helps us to get to know her, but unfortunately, it was a bit of a distraction to me as well, and made it a little hard for me to really focus on and enjoy the story.

I grew up in the south, and I've been to many of the areas where this story took place: Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas - but I've never heard the type of language that Temple used in any of these places. She is illiterate and uncouth and almost feral, and spends almost all of her time alone, or at least without anyone to converse with, so it isn't hard to imagine that her language wouldn't be pristine. It feels as if it's her own vernacular bastardization, taking words and morphing them into something that she likes the sound of. But, then other characters also use the same type of nonexistent "upgrade" words she does, like "marvelment" rather than just "marvel" and I have to wonder at the author's choice in writing it this way, because for Temple to use these words makes sense, but for other characters to do so doesn't, really. Some of the sentences just seemed to be awkwardly phrased and strange sounding to me, and left me feeling that the writing was trying hard to be something that it's not.

That's not to say that the writing was bad, because it wasn't. There were many beautiful sections that I found myself re-reading to absorb again, and I enjoyed many of the descriptions and the observations communicated through Temple, and sometimes through Moses, who seemed to be both her opposite and her equal.

I am not sure if I liked Temple, honestly. What she lacks in social grace she more than makes up for in ferocity, but I was a little disappointed in her harshness and brutality in situations that I don't think called for such methods. But then again, I don't live in that world, so those kind of coping mechanisms are probably necessary. I just thought it was a little out of character for someone who believes in the beauty and wonder the world can hold, as Temple does. It's like she's got two diametrically opposed parts of herself contained in one shell. I wasn't really sure what to make of her, but I will say that by the end I was rooting for her.

There was a bit more religion than I'd have really expected in this story. There were many, many references to God and angels and miracles and the like, mainly from Temple's interpretation, but nothing very definitive, and nothing that removed the mystery of the world or proved a deity's existence or hand in anything. Mainly it was Temple's own personal religious beliefs coming through in her observations of the world, and her own morality. I was just surprised by this, as she isn't the type that I would usually think of as being religious. In fact, I would have expected her to be the type to shun religion, since a world full of zombies is hardly a miraculous occurrence. But then miracles are open to interpretation, as is everything else in life.

Moving on to the zombie aspect of the story, nothing was explained in this regard either. The world has been overrun by the undead for 25 years, and this world is all that Temple has ever known. I like the way that the zombies were portrayed here. A bit different from the usual zombies as instinctual, eternally hungry, brainless death-machines. These zombies tended to keep a bit of their human characteristics in death. Not love or honor or anything, but mainly habit, or routines that have been ingrained in their human lives for so long that they continue them, to a certain extent, in death. For instance, returning back to their homes or places of work, holding hands, trying to ride carnival rides, etc. These were inclined to adapt - when their preferred food was not available, they would feed on animals or even each other, culling the weak. And then there was the Family... but you'll need to experience them for yourself. I won't ruin it.

The main difference that I noted, and this could just be me reading into this, was that it seemed that ANY dead person could return as a zombie, bitten or not, as long as their brain was intact. Temple made it a point to destroy the brain of every human that she had to kill, to ensure that they would not come back. This makes me think that perhaps it was a kind of airborne virus or something that caused the undead outbreak, rather than a supernatural cause.

There was quite a bit of gore and vivid descriptions of the undead, as well as the horror that they inflict, and that which was inflicted on them. This one isn't for the weak of stomach, but it is a short and enjoyable book on the whole for someone who is looking for something a bit different from the norm when it comes to zombie fare.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Smut-tember Line-up and Progress Report

I've been a little slow getting this post up, but I like to take my time. *snicker*

I received Jackie's Box-o-Smut about a week ago, and I've chosen the 5 that I'm going to be reading. (She actually sent me 7 books, so that I'd have a variety, but I'll be donating the other two, so they don't count towards my mountain of To-Read books.)

I've also read a Smut-tember eligible book, which I'll count as a bonus in addition to the 5 I've chosen from what Jackie sent. More about that in a moment. First, let's see the goods that Jackie's sent to me. :D

Here's the full list:
  1. The Gilded Web by Mary Balogh
  2. Dangerous Tides by Christine Feehan
  3. The Bride by Julie Garwood
  4. The MacLean Groom by Kathleen Harrington
  5. Keeper of the Heart by Johanna Lindsey
  6. Mistress by Amanda Quick
  7. Wait Until Midnight by Amanda Quick
 I decided to go with the ones in bold. The Gilded Web looks interesting, but it seems to be the first in a trilogy, and I didn't want to risk being left hanging later. The Keeper of the Heart seems to be futuristic, and I much prefer historical type romances, if I'm going to read them at all. Let's hope I've chosen well!

So, on to my status report. I just finished Angels, Sinners and Madmen by Cate Masters, which definitely qualifies as a Smut-tember read. It had definite promise and potential, but I felt that the characters were a little flat. The lovin' was pretty steamy though, so that's a plus, although it was a little short-lived!

Pages: 183
Type: Historical
Steamy Scenes: 1
Steam Level: 6/10
Review: 2 Stars - Click for full review

But anyway, I have completed my first Smut-tember read. I feel accomplished! :D

If you're interested in joining the fun, pop on over to Jackie's Blog and sign up!

Review: Angels, Sinners and Madmen by Cate Masters ★★

Angels, Sinners & MadmenMy rating: 2 of 5 stars
Ordinarily, romance isn't a genre that I would pick up on my own, but I received an offer of a free ebook copy from Cate Masters and agreed to review this book. The premise sounded interesting to me, and I enjoy historical fiction/romance, and from the description that I read and the title, there seemed to be a certain element of danger that would make the story appealing to someone like me.

I am always willing to give genres outside my "comfort zone" a try, so I went into this one with an open mind, and a little excited, truth be told, to read something different than my usual. Unfortunately, this book did not really work for me. It had definite potential to be great, but it just seemed to fall flat.

I love characters. The characters are the key to whether the book works for me or it doesn't. For any book to engross me and make me believe in the story that is being told, I need to first believe in the characters. I need to feel as though I know them and understand them, even when they don't really understand themselves. This is especially true, I would think, in a romance, specifically one in which the characters are said to have such defined and rigid preconceived notions about life and love themselves. I wanted this story of Livvie and Sam to grab me and not let go, but in my opinion, the characters lacked the depth to make me believe in them, and by extension, to invest myself in their stories or their battle of wills.

There was a lot of background hinted at, but not very much actually conveyed, and what was conveyed was always told to the reader, not shown. Because of this, even though there technically was enough information to make an educated guess at the reason for the character's action, it didn't feel honest, it felt convenient and contrived. So much of the story was conveyed by telling rather than showing that I found it extremely hard to care about the characters. For instance, Sam is said to have been kept awake several nights by thoughts of Livvie, but other than needing coffee, there are no symptoms of exhaustion, there is no description of him lying awake thinking of her, etc. Just the brief mention that again he'd been kept awake by thoughts of her. Or another example is that he was hurt previously, and reluctant to be hurt again. Aside from his saying so, and his reluctance to commit to anything with Livvie, there isn't anything to suggest that this is the reason for his reticence. Especially not when in the beginning of the story he considers her a conquest to be had and cast away like any other, so the heartbroken Sam seems a new and convenient shift to make him more sympathetic, except that I couldn't really completely believe it. The characters did not ring true for me, so it very much hurt my enjoyment of the story.

I must also say that the story felt repetitive to me, and that the pacing was off. In a story this short (under 200 pages), repetitiveness is not good. Yet Livvie and Sam would meet, they'd flirt, they'd restrain themselves, they'd argue. Sam would work, Livvie would chat with the maid in the boarding house, Sam would drink with Liam, Livvie would lament her lack of freedom. In between these things were chapters of filler which were usually about Sam's work on a shipwreck salvage & rescue schooner. I say that this is filler not because it was uninteresting - it was actually quite interesting, honestly. The concept of rescue and salvage divers intrigued me - but because it did not move the story along, or serve any purpose that I could determine. I feel as though these scenes were supposed to show the risk and danger of this type of work, but so often there was nothing going on at all except waiting, so the men would swab the deck and chat, and the story would just come to a halt again. These scenes just stalled the story, and served as a distraction to me more than anything, because I'd be expecting and waiting for something to happen in vain.

The last point that I want to mention was the dialogue, which seemed very stiff and incongruous with the characters. Livvie is described as independent, a girl who doesn't need a man to save her, who doesn't need a husband to provide for her or "own" her. Yet when she gets into trouble, she screams, "Sam, save me." It seems unrealistic for her to choose these exact words, considering how she defines herself, especially when a piercing scream or calling "Sam!" or screaming "Help!" would suffice and feel more natural.

There was a bit of sarcastic humor sprinkled throughout the story, particularly from Sam, that I quite enjoyed. And I love the setting of the story, being a Florida-raised girl myself, but again I wish that it had been allowed to come alive and show the character the state has in abundance.

All in all, I think that this book had great potential, and a great premise, but needed a lot more characterization to flesh it out and make the characters come to life, and a bit of editing to make sure that the story flowed without unnecessary stops and starts.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Post-Read-a-thon Slump

It's now 2 full days after my long weekend read-a-thon, and I feel like I haven't read anything at all since it ended! To be fair, my boyfriend's family is in town, so we've been visiting with them, and I've still had to work, but I feel very... unaccomplished.

Is it silly to judge my level of accomplishment in page counts?

I've read a few short stories in the Star Wars book that has been on my "Currently Reading" back-burner for about a zillion years, so that's something... but I'm not feeling those stories, so I'm just kinda... wanting it to be over. I'm definitely in a reading slump!

I'm also reading an ebook for review, Cate Masters' "Angels, Sinners and Madmen", which is a historical fiction romance type... It hasn't really grabbed me yet. I'm crossing my fingers that it does. I want to like it, but so far it's just OK.

And finally, in the hopes of dragging my butt out of this slump, I started "The Reapers Are The Angels" which is another review book that was sent my way because I enjoyed "The Passage". This one is about zombies, and one I was super-excited about, but I shuddered more at the use of "should of" instead of "should have" than any zombie action -- not that there has been much so far. But, I can never really overlook grammatical quirks like that... in the back of my mind I always wonder if it's on purpose or not... I think this case is on purpose though. It has a kind of informal feel, and the main character seems to be illiterate, so that could explain it. I'm only 10 pages in though... we shall see where it goes. The writing is very descriptive otherwise... except for "ketchup eggs" which I think was a bit much. And I'll just leave it at that.

Tomorrow I'm cooking for the family - Veggie lasagna, salad and garlic bread. Probably won't get much more reading in tomorrow either. But, it's not every day that they are in town, so giving up a little bit of our time isn't a problem. I'll just have to read extra fast to make up for lost time! ;)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Read-A-Thon Final Tally

I have a little bit of a headache, so I'm ending my Read-A-Thon a little early to head to bed. Here's the final tally of what I read:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - 768 pages (started on page 150)
Pages read: 618

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - 831 pages
Pages read: 831

The Haunting of Hill House - 246 pages
Pages read: 246

Gunpowder - 81 pages
Pages read: 81

Angels, Sinners & Demons - 183 pages
Pages read: 29

Total Books Attempted: 5
Total Pages Read: 1805

Not too shabby! For those of you who participated with me, what were you able to squeeze in? :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Labor Day Read-a-Thon... Obligatory Official Starting Post

Here we go! My goal this weekend is to squeeze in as much reading as possible! 

First on the list is the remainder of my Harry Potter Re-Read: UK Edition, Half-blood Prince and Deathly Hallows.

 Next up, The Haunting of Hill House, which is our September group read in our Stephen King Fan group on Goodreads. This month we're doing a book that Stephen King would recommend for others to read, and I'm super excited it was chosen! This is one that I've wanted to read for a long time, and it's short, so I'm doing it, finally!

I'm one of those sheltered few who have never seen the movie(s), and aside from knowing that it's a story about a haunting (because it says so on the cover), I don't know anything about it at all. This is my first Shirley Jackson novel, and I must admit that I'm looking forward to it immensely. Thanks to Allison @ The Allure of Books for giving me a copy of this one! :D

Then, I dunno... I will see what jumps out at me... Ooh, probably Angels, Sinners and Demons, because it's an ebook, and I'm notoriously bad about reading ebooks on the computer and I should use this weekend to motivate me, but also because it will fit in with BOTH of the challenges I'm doing on Goodreads right now, and knock a review book off of my list, AND work for Smut-tember! SCORE!!!

Official Stats:
Starting Point - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Page 150

Time to get reading!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Book Ban - Opening Ceremonies + Kick-off Read-a-thon!

Here we go! The official ban starting count is 218 Owned-To-Read books! The full list can be found here: Read What I Own Challenge.

Over the course of the month, my goal is to read no fewer than 14 books:
  1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  3. The House of Spirits
  4. Angels, Sinners & Madmen (ebook review copy)
  5. The King's Mistress (review copy)
  6. Keep The Change (review copy)
  7. The Reapers are the Angels (review copy)
  8. The Turtle Catcher (review copy)
  9. The Haunting of Hill House
  10. Smut-tember book #1
  11. Smut-tember book #2
  12. Smut-tember book #3
  13. Smut-tember book #4
  14. Smut-tember book #5
To jump-start this month of reading, I'm going to do a Labor Day Weekend Read-a-thon! From 6pm Friday, September 3rd through midnight Monday, September 6th, I'm going to read as much as my eyes will take in...

Join me if you want to put this three day weekend to good use...  Happy Labor Day!