Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

As part of my reading goal for this year I want to read  more from Australian authors. Liane Moriarty is the first Australian author I've read in 2014. 

I came across this book on the NY Times Best Seller list and I was immediately intrigued by the concept. What if you found a letter addressed to you by your husband to be opened in the event of his death - only he was still alive? Would you open it?

This novel is so much more than I expected it to be. The question above is only the first of many complex moral and ethical dilemmas posed in this story. I honestly don't know what I would do if confronted by any of them.

Monday, January 27, 2014

So not what I expected - Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut #amreading #bookreview

Going into Slaughterhouse-Five I knew that Kurt Vonnegut was reputed to be one of the best science fiction authors of all time, but not much else

Based on the name alone, I assumed this was some serious science fiction with vicious aliens or a bleak post apocalyptic setting. Boy was I wrong.

Although I suppose this is science fiction - and satire - and absurdism - as it has been touted, that is not my take on this book. I read it as a very sad case of a WWII veteran who suffered severe PTSD at a time long before they knew what PTSD was.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Why no happily-ever-after ending? #amwriting #amreading

- NOT!

The books and stories I write generally don't have happily-ever-after type endings.

So much so in fact, that after reading The Beacon, someone told my husband that it was a good thing I listed domestic violence hotlines at the back because I was going to need them! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

NOT a YA novel! The Cloud Seeders by James Zerndt #amreading #bookreview

The Cloud Seeders is a dystopian science fiction novel where the USA is in a severe drought and you can be punished for using water and energy. Two young brothers who have been surviving by working as water police, set off on a journey to find their parents - their father is a scientist who has been working to develop weather control technology.

This is what drew me to this book. I've recently been doing some research on weather control technology because I'm considering using it in some of my writing and to find this book with that as a plot device intrigued me.

I've read several reviews by others. Some were quite critical because the readers didn't like the profanity and the single sex scene in this book. I will say, in my view the sex scene was not extremely explicit, and I fully believe in writing a book to be as believabl as possible. In this  story where you have two boys - one a teenager in charge of the younger, who've been on their own for over a year - I think the profanity adds realism. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sob-fest but worthwhile. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green #amreading #bookreview

It's a good thing I don't judge a book by it's cover, because I think this is one of the lamest covers I have ever seen. 

I've been hearing about this book for a long time - over a year I think. Everyone has been raving about it, but I put off reading it because I knew it was about a dying girl and I try to avoid books about death and dying as I've had a bit too much of that in my life and this type of subject matter often leaves me feeling depressed.

Then I saw that this book was being made into a movie, and I don't know why but all of a sudden that made me want to read it. I bowed to peer pressure. I thought - well I can read the first chapter and if it feels too depressing, I'll just stop. Right?

So I read the first chapter - and I didnt's top. I got sucked right in. This is a truly wonderful book. Yes, it is about a young dying girl, but it is also about first love, and friendship, and not fitting in, and figuring out how to survive loss. It is also about dealing with the disappointment of finding out your idol isn't worthy of your adoration. So much about growing up.

This is my first 5 star book of 2014. So what didn't I like about it?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I WANTED to love this book, but didn't. Vanished by John Shepard #amreading #bookreview

You all know I love sci-fi, and stories of aliens interacting with us. I wanted to love this story. Sadly, I didn't.

First, although an editor's name is listed on Amazon for this book, I'm not sure what she edited. This book is in desperate need of a proof reader. I don't usually nitpick over the occasional typo, but the typos in this book were many and more along the line of omitted words, or the wrong tense or version of the word in question being used which made me have to re-read sentences multiple times in order to try to understand what was attempting to be said.

Next, this book is written by a man with a female protagonist and while I often read books written by men with female protagnists and they are often seamless - this time it showed.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What makes a book a best seller? #amreading #bestseller

The short answer is - you, the reader. You read a book, you love it, and you tell everyone you know that they HAVE to read it. Right?

But here's the long answer.

So you're an author and you've written a book and you think it's pretty darn good. How do you get it on a best seller list?

Well if you happen to have been published with a traditional publisher you likely have an agent. Your agent, and your publisher will help. They have a marketing team that will advertise your book in appropriate forums, they will contact critiques at various publications for reviews, they will help you set up personal appearances and book signings. Sure, you still have to work hard at marketing yourself too. It's in the best interest of all of you if your books sell. But even that doesn't guarantee you a best seller.

And getting a traditional pulishing contract isn't easy. Did you know that some of the best sellers of all time were rejected by traditional publishing houses?

  • Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 140 times.
  • Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected by 38 publishers.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kill a friend??? Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner #amreading #bookreview

You all know how much I love Indie Authors and their books. I'd say probably 85% to 90% of what I read is Indies. But now and then I venture into the realm of traditionally published authors and this is one of those times.

Lisa Gardner is, in my humble opinion, one of the best mystery/crime writers around and with every book she gets that much better. And one thing I learned about her when I finished this book - and that I absoluetly LOVE - is that she has an annual "Kill a Friend, Maim a Mate" contest for her fans where they can enter the name of a friend or loved one in the contest. The chosen name will become a character which will be killed off in one of Lisa's novels. How fun is that?

I've previously read four of her books - one of which I only rated three stars and the other three got four stars. Pretty good marks in my opinion.

So Touch & Go is my fifth foray into Lisa Gardner's extensive body of work. I must say - I think this one gets five stars from me. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

YA Action! ShockWaves by Suzanna Williams #amreading #bookreview

 I was in the mood for something with both action and a little bit of the paranormal so I picked up this little gem.

ShockWaves is set in Britain and is the story of two teenagers who have never met, yet have an impossible bond. Paige is a priviledged young woman who tragically loses her parents in a car accident. Lee has lived a difficult life, never knowing his father and has lost his mother to cancer. They end up in the same foster home where they meet for the first time, only to realize they psychically they've known each other for years.

I really liked this book. The action was non-stop. The hero and heroine were amazingly physically fit (which is explained by their active athleticism) and resilient in spite of what they endure, but not unbelievably so - or at least no more so than any other action movie or book. I liked their psychic link. I believe a second book is planned and I'm hoping Ms. Williams will explore that link further and tell us why it exists between these two.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A history lesson in a fiction novel. Sliding Beneath the Surface by Doug Dillon #amreading #bookreview

Sliding Beneath the Surface is the first novel in The St. Augustine Trilogy. In this novel Dillon introduces us to Jeff Golden, a lonely, lost teenager, his would-be girlfriend Carla, and Carla's friend/mentor Lobo.

I'm not sure if this is intended to be a YA series, but it is certainly clean enough to be. You all know I am a fan of YA stuff so my review below is not a reflection on the fact that it is a YA book.

Jeff has recently moved to St. Augustine. His father is dead and his mother neglects him. His only friend is Carla. Strange things start happening to Jeff. He has nightmares that are keeping him from sleeping and things only get weirder from there (for him).