Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review Sunday: Treasure, Darkly by Jordan Mierek


Treasure Chronicles #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"Seventeen-year-old Clark Treasure assumes the drink he stole off the captain is absinthe… until the chemicals in the liquid give him the ability to awaken the dead.

A great invention for creating perfect soldiers, yes, but Clark wants to live as a miner, not a slave to the army—or the deceased. On the run, Clark turns to his estranged, mining tycoon father for help. The Treasures welcome Clark with open arms, so he jumps at the chance to help them protect their ranch against Senator Horan, a man who hates anyone more powerful than he.

Sixteen-year-old Amethyst Treasure loathes the idea of spending the summer away from her bustling city life to rot on her father’s ranch, but when a handsome young man shows up claiming to be her secret half-brother, her curiosity is piqued. He’s clever, street smart, and has no qualms jumping into the brawl between the Treasures and Horans. Caught in the middle, Horan kidnaps Amethyst, and all she gets is this lousy bullet through her heart.

When Clark brings her back to life, however, the real action starts, and Amethyst joins him in his fight against the Horan clan—whatever the cost. Defeating the Horans may seem easy at first, but going up against men with the same fighting vengeance as Clark, and a Senator with power he’s obtained by brainwashing the masses?

Well, Amethyst’s boring summer at home has turned into an adventure on the run, chock full of intrigue, danger, love, and a mysterious boy named Clark."


Review:
Thank you to the author, Jordan Mierek, for providing me with a review copy.  All expressed opinions are my own.

This is another book I feel conflicted about.  Just like Such A Good Girl, I couldn't decide on the first read through how I felt about it.  On one hand, it has such a dangerous feeling and I've never read anything like it, and on the other hand, some passages felt irksome to me and I couldn't get over how the world is glossed over.  I finally decided that in spite of that, I did like it, with some reservations.  Let me explain:

1.  The plot.  This is the most interesting aspect of the book for me.  The story centers around Clark and how he finds his father after being on the run for several years.  He's sent on a mission to collect certain items and that's when it gets really interesting.  On both read-throughs I was completely absorbed in the story and what would happen.  Mierek does a wonderful job of keeping the reader on the edge of their seat as there are so many little hiccups along the way.  The plotline is a piece of art.

2.  The characters.  The book is set up as a third person omniscient POV which means that the narrator pops into all of the characters' heads at one point or another.  For a while, I was worried the characters would remain flat as they had been throughout the first fourth of the book.  However, once these little jumps into different consciousness's were first introduced, the characters really began to be fleshed out in a more substantial way.  We get to know Clark and Amethyst pretty well because they're the main characters but there are also dives into Amethyst's brothers (Jeremiah and Zachariah) that provided a wonderful insight.  One point I couldn't get over, though, is the use of 'brass glass' as a curse.  I completely understand that the author used it as a device to connect the reader to the world but to me, it just felt silly and impractical.  Curse words roll off the tongue and are typically all-purpose (like you can't use 'shit' in basically any other context other than swearing but you can use both 'brass' and 'glass').  I don't know, maybe I'm getting too into the morphological uses here but it bothered me throughout the novel.

3.  The world.  This is where I had the most issues with the book.  While I did enjoy each of the settings the author introduces the reader to, they aren't exactly painted with a fine-tipped brush.  They're more represented by broad sweeps and most of the outer world isn't touched at all.  This is the first book so there can't be a whole lot of world building (there's character building to be done, after all!), but I couldn't really picture the places they went and their specific layouts.  Characters went here and there but there was no in between and no directional orientation which made it difficult to become fully immersed.

4.  The romance/customs.  Of course, there is a romance, and I found it to be rather meh considering that it doesn't add too much to the story.  It adds a slight secondary plot line and a little more tension than normal but otherwise I didn't find that there was too much chemistry between the two.  I was also slightly confused on what the customs are exactly in terms of courting and whatnot.  This book is set in a sort of post-industrial wild west (think the Western US in 200 years after a government collapse or something of the sort) and there's sort of a mix between what we think of as traditional and modern dating practices.  The characters kept mentioning courting and modesty but the next minute, there seems to be scandal everywhere with the romance (or what I should think would cause a scandal; premarital sex for one thing).  The world seems to be undergoing a sort of transition between the two belief systems but I just wish it was made a little more clear what the sort of expectations are for couples.

5.  Clark's powers.  I wanted to give this it's own little section because Clark's powers kind of puzzle me.  He has the ability to bring the dead back to life (only the very, very recently dead apparently) and then can maybe sometimes use it to kill people too.  I would have loved a little more information on the mechanics of this because that's pretty much all that's said about it.  I also would have loved to hear more of Clark's feelings on the fact that he has these crazy, abnormal powers that he's somehow completely okay with.  I mean, in his thoughts he almost sounds cheered that after bringing someone back, he can transfer that power to a living persona and kill them but an hour later he's saying that it's a curse and that's that.  We don't really get any of his feelings on the subject which is a disappointment.

The Final Verdict:
The shining star of this book is the plot and characters and I have no doubt that their majesty will continue in the next books.  The world, however, could use some more development and a little clarification on the romance standards also wouldn't be amiss.  Also, Clark's powers continue to puzzle me (I seriously am thinking about another reread to maybe clear this up).
3 stars

Friday, October 20, 2017

50/50 Friday (55): Favorite/Least Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation



50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Favorite/Least Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation

Favorite:

Blurb:
"A story about, among other things: A girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Ruby Award.

Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Ruby Award.

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."



I absolutely loved this story.  I think they did such a good job transforming the feeling of the book onto the screen.  I loved their choice of voice for Death and while there are a few discrepancies, they aren't glaring and they add to the overall effect that the movie places on the audience.  Both the movie and the book make me cry every time I watch/read it :)

Some other favorites are LOTR (the original trilogy is my favorite), The Giver, and The Fault in Our Stars.















Least Favorite:

The Inheritance Cycle #1

Blurb:
"Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders?

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . . .
"




I just couldn't stand this movie.  I read these books while I was just getting into YA and I loved them (even though there was that whole LOTR controversy, I think they helped me get through all of LOTR (the movies of LOTR also helped)).  The movie ended up changing plot points (a lot like PJO) and smushed all four of the books (which top out something like 3,000 pages all together) into one movie which was such a disservice.  I'm not saying it couldn't have been done, but the way it was done was just annoying.  It did simplify everything but that ended up getting rid of all of the things that I loved about it that distinguished it a little bit from the classic hero's journey story line (and LOTR).  I also didn't really like how they did the special effects (granted, it was 2006 when special effects are nowhere near where they are today but still).

That being said, I also didn't like the PJO movies.  I still haven't seen Maximum Ride but I'm thinking it's going to be a bust for me.



What are your favorite and least favorite book to movie adaptations?  Make a post and link up down below!


Next Week's Topic: Favorite/Least Favorite Scary Novel

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Guide: Review Writing



This is the next installment of my series that is commemorating my third blogoversary!  I've decided to sum up all of my knowledge that I've gained as a blogger into these guide posts.  My first guide was all about how to find the right reviewer for your novel (see it HERE) and this next one will focus more on the reviewer's side of things: review writing.  I hope you enjoy and if you have anything to add, leave your thoughts down in the comments!



Now I'm sure you've heard this before but it really helps if you sit down for a minute and decide what type of blogger (and reviewer) you're going to be.  People will visit your site because of you, not because your reviews are formatted perfectly.  There are a lot of different general types of reviewers which I've detailed below.

  • The GIF lover.  Let me just come out and say it: GIFs are wonderful.  If you haven't yet discovered their awesomeness, giphy is a good place to start.  They can provide animation and interest in your review and can express emotions you can't with words!  These are especially useful for those books on both ends of the spectrum (good and bad) that you just have no words for.   The GIF lover intersperses frequent GIFs in their reviews and a majority of the review is, in fact, GIFs.
  • The contemplator.  These types of reviewers are the ones who write detailed reviews on both the surface and deeper meaning of the novels they read.  They tend to focus more on themes and intrinsic elements of the book.  If you're looking for a thought-provoking read (or you're a thought-provoking person) these types of reviews are for you!
  • The short stack.  These reviews are great for all the Twitterbirds out there.  If you really just want to give people the gist of a book and don't have too much time on your hands, these types of reviews are for you.  Typically they're just a paragraph or two and almost every blogger has one or two of these on their blog.  Most bloggers do mini review round-up type posts (see HERE) which are a collection of these short and sweet reviews.
  • The list.  Lots of reviewers use variations of this to write their reviews.  It helps with structure (aka let's me know when I'm rambling for too long) and allows the reader to have better navigation.  Your review could be a list of why you should read this book, a list of attributes and how you felt about all of them, etc etc.  There are so many ways you can take this!
  • The meme queen.  This review is closely related to The GIF lover except instead of using GIFs, there's an abundance of memes!  Memes are equally great (and also don't require as much load time as gifs so there's that) and can illuminate your feelings about the book while giving the reader an easier reading time.

So there you have it!  If I left any types out, let me know in the comments :)

Basically, figure out what style fits you best and which you find to be the most helpful, fun, and immersive in your blog!  You can do one style, a combination of styles, or variations; these are just some ideas for you.

It may take some trial and error to figure out what really works for you.  For me, I started out with the short stack, migrated into the contemplator, and landed in the list.  I also tried out a little meme or gif here and there and found that I just didn't seem to enjoy finding memes as much as I thought I would.  If there's one that really goes with what I'm saying that I know off the top of my head, I'll include it but otherwise I find the search tedious.  I do enjoy a good meme, though!  Especially of Sherlock :D


Overall: Figure out your reviewing style.  Sometimes it takes some trial and error but you'll get there!



This may seem rather obvious but you'll probably have to read a book before you can write a review.  Some people go about reading differently, however if they know they'll be writing a review about it.

  • Take notes!  This is a great option if you know you're the type to forget things if left too long.  Personally, I like doing this if I know I won't be able to write my review for a while (for example, I'm reading right before bed so I don't want to get out my laptop and write a review and expose myself to the blue light right before I'm supposed to be sleeping).  Just jotting down a few thoughts can help jog your memory.
  • Use post-its!  If you have quotes you really want to include and you're reading a hardcopy (or use the note feature on ereaders), then post its are the way to go.  You don't even have to write anything on them, just marking a place can really help when you're trying to remember where that one spot was where that one awesome thing happened.
  • Generally reading more carefully.  I tend to do this with many of the books I know I'll want a full, in-depth review on.  I'm the type of person who can speed read through a 400 page book in around 2 hours but if I want to write a good review, I like to take my time and read it in about 5-6 or throughout several days.  This can really help you absorb everything and help you develop your general feelings as the book progresses rather than finishing it in a hurry and having a depressing moment right after where you're just overwhelmed.

This is all up to personal preference but you never know what might work for you!  You can also store things in your mental palace like Sherlock!



Overall: Find an awesome book and read it!  If you like, use some memory jogging techniques.




This is the fun part!  Just start out with what format you want to go with from step one and let it all flow out!  One of the best ways to start writing a review and figuring out what you want it to look like is to just let all your feelings pour out onto the screen and once it's all there, work with what you've just said.  Some things to include in your review:

  • The title of the book
  • If the book is part of a series and if so, what installment
  • The cover
  • The blurb (or your own summary)
  • Links to where people can find the book (popular ones are Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, etc, etc)
  • Your rating (if you want to do ratings.  If you don't, some kind of summary statement about the book that you'll include with every review.  Cristina @Girl in the Pages is an excellent example)
  • The body of your review

Generally, you start out with the book's general information before moving into the review so your readers can get a sense of what kind of book it is before diving into your take on it.


It's also a good idea to separate out your review (use different paragraphs and bold important, summarizing statements, etc etc.  It just helps the reader to more effectively read your review without getting bored or feeling like reading it is tedious.  People have short attention spans nowadays (myself included!) so sometimes it can be hard to read through a whole review, especially if it's just a passing curiosity.

This process can take anywhere from half an hour to a week depending on how polished you'd like it to be.  For myself, I do my best writing when I just spit it out, read it over once, then publish it.    I don't like to sit on things for too long but for some people, it'll turn out better if it's had time to stew for a bit.  It's all up to you!

Overall: Keep your review organized and make sure you have some sort of overlying template for most of your reviews so they're easy to follow.  Bold the important stuff and use that enter key!



Now all you have to do is publish your review!

If you have a blog, obviously it's best to publish it there.  You can also publish reviews on a number of other sites as well.  Here's a list of what I use:

  • My blog
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Niume

Cross-posting is the name of the game in the blogging world and it allows your reviews to be seen by more people and drives more traffic to your blog.  You also help out a lot more people in deciding whether or not to buy a book!

Overall: Cross-post your heart out!



And that's all there is!  If you have any more advice, feel free to leave it in the comments (because I'm 100% sure I forgot something majorly important and I just can't seem to remember what so help me please?)

Also, please enjoy this last Sherlock meme because this show is my life at the moment.


Friday, October 13, 2017

50/50 Friday (54): Best/Worst Bookish Job


50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Best/Worst Bookish Job (job you'd want/not want from a book)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Guide: The Pursuit of Reviewers



Today, before I jump back into posting regular reviews and 50/50 Friday's (I'm still here, Carrie!!), I'm going to be starting a new series all about what I've learned through my three years as a blogger and some advice.  And yes, I'm very bad at celebrating my blogoversary because I always forget about it when it comes around or I'm not prepared enough to organize a giveaway or something of the sort.

This guide is centered mainly for authors (especially authors who have never blogged and therefore need some pointers on etiquette).  I'll be writing guides on review writing, blog design, etc etc soon!  Keep in mind that this has just been my experience!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review Sunday: Such a Good Girl by Amanda K. Morgan


Standalone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"Riley Stone is just about perfect.
(Ask anyone.)

She has a crush on her French teacher, Alex Belrose.
(And she suspects he likes her, too.)

Riley has her entire life planned out.
(The plan is nonnegotiable.)

She's never had a secret she couldn't keep.
(Not ever.)

Riley is sure that her life is on the right track.
(And nothing will change that.)

She's nothing like a regular teenager.
(But she doesn't have any problem admitting that.)

Riley doesn't usually play games.
(But when she does, she always wins.)

She thinks a game is about to start....

But Riley always has a plan....

And she always wins."


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review Thursday: Out of the Ashes by A.M. Heath


Ancient Words #3

Goodreads Blurb:
"Sometimes peace is won through battle.

Haunted by the memories he can't escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn't understand why he's forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He's desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?"

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