Tag Archives: book reviews

A Different Opinion

Just finished a book everyone has been LOVING, and I’m disappointed. From the halfway point on the story was awesome. If I hadn’t read the author before, though, I would’ve quit reading way before I got to the half point. The book, imo, suffered from something several romance novels suffer from these days. No honest, authentic romantic development. I’m a romance reader. Watching a relationship develop from the moment of interest to something more is one of the reasons I enjoy romance so much. When the first show of interest is completely unbelievable, it stops me. Especially when the entire setup is such that the heroine in the story would never be attracted to the hero.
I think one of the reasons this bothered me so much was because the heroine in this story was bullied as a teenager by the hero. Bullied so much she’s still devastated by the events of her childhood even though it’s a decade later. In fact, she’s still bullied by the hero’s friends and family.
The original attraction was so contrived it really bothered me. It felt like the author was told, hey, by now there better be a kiss, and she put the scene there because it’s a romance, so a kiss was expected.
I almost quit reading the book right then.
I didn’t, and I’m glad because, like I said the second half of the book is great. The first half is solid, too, except for the romance.
One of the characters in the novel is made fun of because she’s smart. I get the impression the author might understand that kind of bullying. The main character is bullied just for existing. I don’t think the author has any reality check on that kind of emotional trauma. I was never bullied like that, but I have family members who were. I see students who are. It’s very, very real in my mind. Perhaps that’s why I was so turned off by the romantic attraction that came out of the blue in the novel.

Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

I’m on vacation in Vegas having a great time.
One of the reasons I’m having a great time is I brought a book by one of my favorite authors. BUT just as I got to the last forty pages of this awesome, amazing huge book that spans several decades, the author killed off one of the main characters. Totally threw her under the bus. For no purpose other than to make the reader cry. No lessons learned. When Luanne Rice killed off the heroine in CLoud Nine, I got it. AND she told me on page one that she was killing her off. This was different. This was stupid Nicholas Sparks Message in A Bottle or The Friday Night Knitting Club kind of killing off the person, only at least in Friday Night there was a greater purpose in the death.
You know, I guess she gets to be a “real” author now. I should’ve realized something was wrong when I saw the freaking cover quotes. It looked like I was getting ready to read an Oprah book. I should’ve known!
I wo’t be buying her books again. Grrrrr!

Last of the Break Books

The last two books I read over break were both big reviewer favorites,
Nancy Werlin’s Impossible and Linda Howard’s Death Angel.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed both books, they were my least favorite of the break. Perhaps it was “reader overload.” But I’ve never actually suffered from reader overload to that extent, so I don’t know.
Impossible is a fantasy novel that is so immersed in real life I had a problem with suspension of disbelief. I must be the only person in the world with the problem though because the book is a National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award Winner.
Actually, I see why. Even though I kept saying NO WAY, I kept reading. You couldn’t have paid me to put the book down. I had to know how it ended. I guess that explains the whole title. 🙂
Death Angel had me from hello. And then this thing, can’t say what because it would totally destroy the book if you haven’t read it, happens mid-way through. And for about two pages I thought I was going to have a major Linda Howard fit. I really thought it was going to be a throw the book against the wall, possible language alert. Within two page Howard redeemed herself and I was okay. It’s not my favorite Howard, the end left me a little undecided, but over all I’d give it an A mark. I recommend both novels

Rekindling the Dream

Dear Stephen King, (Not that you’ll ever read this letter, unless I print it off and mail it using old fashioned snail mail.)
I read On Writing years ago when it first came out, and I loved it. I loved it so much I lent it to a student and never saw it again, but that was okay because I “got it.” I loved your story and your advice, but I didn’t really need it. Back then I was a relatively new writer. I had several manuscripts out, several requests, several requests for revisions. I was young and sure of myself and my place in this world. I was a writer, and nothing could shake that.
Flash forward a decade, and much has changed. Multiple rejections and life have a way of interfering with writing plans.
Last year I didn’t exactly give up on the dream, but I didn’t work it either. I read. A lot. And I fiddled around with a couple stories I’d finished but not submitted. When life came crashing down making it impossible to attend my writer’s group meetings, I didn’t really care. Going just made me feel like a fraud anyway.
And then for some reason, I bought On Writing from Audible and started listening to it every day on my way to work—a place I love, a place where I spend hours sharing my love for words with students, hoping they too will love writing and books and paper and ink and everything that is wonderful about the craft.
Listening to On Writing truly did change my life. One day I found myself on my ten minute commute from one side of Wichita Falls, TX to the other bawling my eyes out as you talked about the craft. I’m not sure exactly what you said. I think it was “Kill your darlings.” I just know as you spoke, I realized somehow, over the course of ten years, I’d let the dream die. Not fizzle, not fade. Die. And then you said something about writing for the words, for the story, not for the publication. And I realized I can’t NOT write. It makes me crazy. Destroys my spirit. HURTS.
So I’m writing, really writing, new words, new people, new everything.
And I’m in a room in the back of my house with the door closed.
Thank you for On Writing. I see that it’s a considered a new classic. I’ve got to say I couldn’t agree more.

Stephen King's On Writing changed my life. You should read it!

Word Power

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

How many years have we heard that statement, even said it, all the while knowing it for the complete falsehood it is?
Words have incredible power. They can evoke emotion to such extent that wars explode. The can slice and dice a person in minutes. They can destroy or motivate.
Words last.
I tell my students all the time to remember: you can say I’m sorry, but it doesn’t erase whatever was said. Those words are out there in the air doing their best to interfere.
The same way a simple “good job” or “you’re cool” or even an “I like your hair” can lift someone up.

Speaking of words…
I’m working on a novel right now that I hope will have an impact on readers. It’s emotional and it touches on issues we sometimes like to forget and it’s personal in a way I hadn’t really planned on. It’s spiritual and gritty. It deals with the themes of redemption, shame, and forgiveness.
I hope those words I write will last. But I know, if I’m lucky and the manuscript hits the right desk and sparkles with energy and proves to be an innovative new plot or my voice hits that chord inside an editor that sings YES! when she reads a book she loves-and it gets published-someone will read it and hate it.
And that someone could post on the Internet how much they hate the book and all the reasons why. And I’m sure I’ll hate the review and I’ll hurt inside and call my CPs and rant and rave about how they {reviewers} “just don’t get me!”
But hopefully I’ll remember the review, just like the rejections that have come before, isn’t really personal at all. It’s just someone’s opinion of my book, not her opinion of me.
As a reader I love reviews. I used to write them for my local newspaper. But for the same reason people are critical of reviews right now, I quit.
I refused to review bad books. I wouldn’t lie and write good reviews about bad books, but I only sent in reviews of books I loved. Several people thanked me for the recommendations and some even discovered they actually liked romance. Deborah Smith’s Stone Flower Garden especially found a place in the heart of several “I don’t read romance” converts.
But I couldn’t bring myself to put in print how a plot was fatally flawed or characters were one dimensional or narrative and dialogue seemed padded to extend the book’s length. In the back of my mind I always had some reviewer demon screaming: it’s just your opinion. Your mother (sister, grandma, aunt, dad, the old lady next door) will love this book. That variety is what makes the romance world go ’round.
I applaud sites like AAR where romances are reviewed with honesty. I love Mrs. Giggles, although I can see that changing if I’m ever published. 🙂
One of my CP’s, Brava author Karen Kelley, reads her reviews and tries to learn from the negative ones. She says sometimes a reviewer will point out a problem she hadn’t even thought of and she sets out to fix that problem in her next work. That’ll be my goal one day, I hope.