Friday, October 26, 2012

SHARING: YA survey can win you YA books...

ReadingGroupGuides.com has a survey for YA lovers. They are interested in learning what drives readers to select YA books and who those readers are. Their survey takes about 25 minutes to complete, and those who do so will be entered to win one of 450 YA titles being given away. The survey will be available until November 30th. I won't be taking it, since my YA interests are very select, but if you are interested, you can check it out here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Introducing...Viewer Discretion Advised by Cindy Roesel

Introducing books through the first paragraph or so... 

"What the hell is going on?" Charley yelled as she walked into the newsroom. A crowd of people gathered around her main anchor.

Lady Gaga singing. Is that a CD, or is the Fame Monster a guest on tonight's show? A guest I didn't approve. But OMG, how on earth did we possibly book her?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

REVIEW: Wilderness by Lance Weller

Synopsis

Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain meets David Guterson’s East of the Mountains in this sweeping historical novel of a Civil War veteran’s last journey on the Pacific Coast.

Thirty years after the Civil War’s Battle of the Wilderness left him maimed, Abel Truman has found his way to the edge of the continent, the rugged, majestic coast of Washington State, where he lives alone in a driftwood shack with his beloved dog. Wilderness is the story of Abel, now an old and ailing man, and his heroic final journey over the snowbound Olympic Mountains. It’s a quest he has little hope of completing but still must undertake to settle matters of the heart that predate even the horrors of the war.

As Abel makes his way into the foothills, the violence he endures at the hands of two thugs who are after his dog is crosscut with his memories of the horrors of the war, the friends he lost, and the savagery he took part in and witnessed. And yet, darkness is cut by light, especially in the people who have touched his life—from Jane Dao-Ming Poole, the daughter of murdered Chinese immigrants, to Hypatia, an escaped slave who nursed him back to life, and finally to the unbearable memory of the wife and child he lost as a young man. Haunted by tragedy, loss, and unspeakable brutality, Abel has somehow managed to hold on to his humanity, finding way stations of kindness along his tortured and ultimately redemptive path.

In its contrasts of light and dark, wild and tame, brutal and tender, and its attempts to reconcile a horrific war with the great evil it ended, Wilderness tells not only the moving tale of an unforgettable character, but a story about who we are as human beings, a people, and a nation. Lance Weller’s immensely impressive debut immediately places him among our most talented writers.


Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
ISBN 1608199371 (ISBN13: 9781608199372)



About the Author
from his blog

Lance Weller is the author of Wilderness upcoming from BloomsburyUSA, September 2012. His short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, New Millennium Writings, Quiddity, The White Whale Review, The Broadkill Review and Terracotta Typewriter


My Thoughts
She comes awake with an urgency she does not at first understand, surrendering the overbright tidelands of dream to the bottomless dark of her waking day. A moment before, there'd been a dazzling fire upon a shadow-polished beach and, out upon the rim of the world, a paring of sun to redden the westward ocean.
Civil war veteran Abel Truman lives in a shack by the Pacific Ocean in Washington's Olympic Mountain range. Stern, anti-social, and living the life of a hermit, he knows life is winding down for him, and as it does so, he finds himself on an unexpected quest. He endures tremendous trials, as his memories and past hardships are slowly revealed to us.

I loved this book! And it's a bit surprising how much I loved it, considering it is strongly narrative, and I am more of a dialogue-driven reader. But I used to live in this area, and I have hiked the Olympic Mountains (well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I have hiked for a few hours at a time in those mountains). I used to look out at these mountains every day, and they are my favorite place on earth.

Combine that with a character like Abel Truman, a gritty old war veteran, a widower, a loner, and you've got me hooked! But Abel isn't completely alone. He shares his little shack and quiet life with a dog that found him years before. This is the second story I've read in the last few months that is about a loner man and his bond with his dog. The last one, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, became one of my favorite books of 2012, and this book surpasses that one.

Abel seems pretty miserable. He is just enduring life rather than living it. And as you get glimpses into his past, you begin to understand why. You come to realize he has a bit of a death wish, and does not fear death at all; that he would, in fact, find death to be a relief.

But then circumstances change, and he finds a mission to drive him, which then leads to another mission, and what will then become the defining moment in his life. Moments of the story can get quite emotional. Modest and restrained, this story is told in beautiful prose and descriptive text, and that is quite something said coming from someone who is not a fan of descriptive text!

This provocative story starts out being narrated by an elderly woman in a nursing home, looking back on her life and that of her "second father" Abel. But soon after the story becomes solely Abel's story.

There are some wonderful insights into human nature. I usually avoid quoting ARCs, but this one passage particularly moved me...
He agreed that most men remain accountable to themselves only, and that but poorly. He said that the proper chore of a man is to be chargeable for those and that dear to him and that this was something women understood and knew how to do without having to be told. It was a thing women looked for in their men, and this was why most women lived lives of bottomless sorrow.
This passage really struck home with me, as it addresses an issue I've been confronted with in my own life the last several years, and with which I just recently finally found closure.

I would give warning that there is a bit of offensive language and subject matter in this book. Abel was a civil war soldier, and he was a confederate soldier, fighting against abolition, and he speaks like a racist through much of the story. The "N word" is thrown around a fair bit, along with some other offensive terms. There is also death and rape and other violence, but that isn't the bulk of the story. And you wind up loving this man despite his shortcomings.

My final word: This was a story of real substance; a series of complex stories interwoven into poetic beauty and tragedy. Abel becomes a very human, flawed and reluctant hero, and you can't help but admire him. A truly beautiful story!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Bloomsbury


My Rating:





Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ in the actual published version.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Introducing... The Names of Things by John Colman Wood

Introducing books through the first paragraph or so...

She hung the canvas on the wall of the studio. I'd seen her start paintings dozens of times, but for some reason-- perhaps because of how things turned out-- this one has stayed with me. The canvas was square, a little taller and wider than her reach. The surface was primed bluish white, thick enough to mask the texture. Despite its bulk the frame was empty, a window unto snow.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

READATHON: Final Post


Well, I did participate in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon, but on a more limited level this year. I had prior commitments distracting me, but I did get in a few hours of reading (even at 3 AM!), and I did complete one book, Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman, I made progress on The Wilderness by Lance Weller, and I started The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. So not bad! I'm happy!

I hope everyone else who joined in had fun and got some good reading done, and we'll see you again next spring!

REVIEW: Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman

Synopsis

A transporting and brilliant novel narrated by an unforgettable woman: Karen Nieto, an autistic savant whose idiosyncrasies prove her greatest gifts

As intimate as it is profound, and as clear-eyed as it is warmhearted, Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World marks an extraordinary debut by the award-winning Mexican playwright, journalist, and poet Sabina Berman.

Karen Nieto passed her earliest years as a feral child, left alone to wander the vast beach property near her family's failing tuna cannery. But when her aunt Isabelle comes to Mexico to take over the family business, she discovers a real girl amidst the squalor. So begins a miraculous journey for autistic savant Karen, who finds freedom not only in the love and patient instruction of her aunt but eventually at the bottom of the ocean swimming among the creatures of the sea. Despite how far she's come, Karen remains defined by the things she can't do—until her gifts with animals are finally put to good use at the family's fishery. Her plan is brilliant: Consolation Tuna will be the first humane tuna fishery on the planet. Greenpeace approves, fame and fortune follow, and Karen is swept on a global journey that explores how we live, what we eat, and how our lives can defy even our own wildest expectations.


Hardcover, 1st Edition, 256 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN 0805093257 (ISBN13: 9780805093254)



About the Author
from the back cover

Sabina Berman is a four-time winner of the Mexican National Theatre Prize for her plays; she also writes film scripts, poetry, prose, and journalism and has published several novellas. Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World, which will be published in twenty-five territories, is her first novel. She lives in Mexico. 


My Thoughts
...the sea...
   ... and the white sand beach...

The sea flecked with sunlight all the way out to the horizon.

Then the white sand beach, where the waves roll in, dissolve into foam. And, up in the sky, a sun full of white fire.

I'm thirsty.
   I'm going to stop writing and go get a glass of water.
When Isabelle inherits a tuna canning factory in Mexico, she finds her previously unknown-to-her niece Karen Nieto living under the factory as a "wild child". Isabelle takes her in hand, teaches her to speak and educates her, and over time they come to love one another. And as she grows up, Karen makes it her mission to make tuna capturing and slaughter more humane.

Karen is quite obviously "different", and you discover through the book that she is apparently autistic, and while she has an extremely low intelligence in most areas, there are a few areas where she is a brilliant genius and highly talented.

I enjoyed when the autistic character would refer to turning off "Relating Mode" or going into "Non-Relating Mode". I can identify with this, as I tend to do a similar thing, though less consciously. There are times when outside stimuli gets to be too much, and the sounds and actions of other people just becomes grating and annoying, and trying to "relate" to people becomes exhausting. At these times, I need to shutdown away from them and recharge. So is the nature of an introvert! But this character takes this to a new level.
So 1 afternoon, sitting out on the balcony, staring at the sea, I vanish. Where there was Me, now there is 0. (page 214)
I did have an issue with the author's act of using numbers instead of spelling out the numerical word. Particularly the number "1", which resembles an "I" and kept throwing me off. I know it is being utilized to further the idea that Karen is an autistic with idiosyncrasies, as Karen is the one that is supposed to be writing the book, but it just proved to be rather confusing.

At times the character's way of interpreting the world would make me laugh. For example, her response to her business partner Gould when he expresses his affection for her.
Karen, sweetheart, I love you like the daughter I never had.

1 of those impossible sentences that only human fantasy could come out with. Gould loved Me as much as a nonexistent girl. (page 155)
And I got a kick out of the fact that the character likes to put on a wetsuit (complete with flippers), and hangs in a harness from the ceiling. It relaxes her. I love the imagery of someone walking in the door and finding their new roommate hanging from the ceiling in a wetsuit and flippers, turning around and walking right back out again, as happens to Karen after she goes away to college!

Yet despite the fun and clever scenes, the story could be quite preposterous at times. Sometimes this came off charming, but other times it came off just ridiculous. 

My final word: Overall I enjoyed this story. There were a few characters introduced whom I wanted to learn more about or whom I wished played a bigger part, only to find them suddenly disappear from the story. Yet there were some interesting and refreshing tidbits. If you're looking for something a little quirky and off-beat with novel ideas, consider picking up this book!


Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Henry Holt and Company


My Rating:






Disclosure:

I received this book from Henry Holt and Company in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an ARC, and quotes noted here could appear different in the actual published copy.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Time for a Read-a-Thon!


Well, it almost got by me! I just happened to see a post on Facebook yesterday about Dewey's bi-annual read-a-thon, checked the website and found out that it was scheduled for this weekend. I had no idea!

So I will be trying to join in today, but won't be able to fully commit. I'd already made plans to do a few things. So I'll be trying to read in between commitments.

Now for my brief introduction:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? South Florida
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I want to finish up a couple of books that I've been enjoying and begin reading the classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I'm actually staying pretty healthy today, but I may sneak a few dark chocolates!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! My name is Heather and I've been blogging for... about 3 1/2 years I think it's been. I've got a lot of blogs, but my book blog is the only one I post on regularly. I am divorced with no kids, but I have four cats, a dog, a bird and a turtle! It's just me and the ZooCrew!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I've been doing read-a-thons for the last few years, and I find I get more relaxed as the years go by. No pressure. I used to try to stay awake the whole 24 hours. These days I just try to get in as much reading as I can, but not exhaust myself doing so. After all, the whole point is to enjoy yourself!

My main goal today is to complete Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman, and The Wilderness by Lance Weller. If I can make it through the two of them, then I will start on The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

I hope everyone enjoys their day and their reading!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Introducing... Wilderness by Lance Weller

Introducing books through the first paragraph or so...

She comes awake with an urgency she does not at first understand, surrendering the overbright tidelands of dream to the bottomless dark of her waking day. A moment before, there'd been a dazzling fire upon a shadow-polished beach and, out upon the rim of the world, a paring of sun to redden the westward ocean. Burnt swell tips flashing beneath a violet sky streaked with shivery bands of pale light that laced the undersides of roiling rain clouds. Wet black sand and a jagged chain of yellowy foam to mark the snarl of tide across wave-cut stone. Sparks from a nearby campfire rose in a spray to fall and lie like bright little jewels upon the shore. They flared and died and flared again in the wild yellow eyes of the wolf that watched her from the forest rising dark and quiet from the low cliffs behind.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

REVIEW: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Synopsis

Over the course of his career, New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on a spectacular array of journeys. Midwives brought us to an isolated Vermont farmhouse on an icy winter’s night and a home birth gone tragically wrong. The Double Bind perfectly conjured the Roaring Twenties on Long Island—and a young social worker’s descent into madness. And Skeletons at the Feast chronicled the last six months of World War Two in Poland and Germany with nail-biting authenticity. As The Washington Post Book World has noted, Bohjalian writes “the sorts of books people stay awake all night to finish.”

In his fifteenth book, The Sandcastle Girls, he brings us on a very different kind of journey. This spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012—a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.


When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The First World War is spreading across Europe, and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There, Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo to join the British Army in Egypt, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.Flash forward to the present, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed the “Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.


Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Doubleday
ISBN 0385534795 (ISBN13: 9780385534796)



About the Author
from his website

Chris Bohjalian has called The Sandcastle Girls the most important book he will ever write.  Published in July to great acclaim, this story of the Armenian Genocide debuted at #7 on the New York Times bestseller list, and appeared as well on the Publishers’ Weekly, USA Today, and national Independent Bookstore bestseller lists.

USA Today called it “stirring. . .a deeply moving story of survival and enduring love.”  Entertainment Weekly observed, “Bohjalian – the grandson of Armenian survivors – pours passion, pride, and sadness into his tale of ethnic destruction and endurance.”  And the Washington Post concluded that the novel was “intense. . .staggering. . .and utterly riveting.”  The Sandcastle Girls was also an Oprah.com Book of the Week.

He is the author of fifteen books, including the other New York Times bestsellers, The Night Strangers, Secrets of Eden, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before Your Know Kindness, and Midwives.

Chris's awards include the New England Society Book Award in 2012 (for The Night Strangers), the New England Book Award in 2002, and the Anahid Literary Award in 2000. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, a Publisher's Weekly "Best Book," and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. His work had been translated into over 25 languages and three times become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers).

He has written for a wide variety of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and has been a columnist for Gannett's Burlington Free Press since 1992. Chris graduated from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.
 

Visit the author's website
Follow the author on Facebook
Follow the author on Twitter


My Thoughts
When my twin brother and I were small children, we would take turns sitting on our grandfather's lap. There he would grab the rope-like rolls of baby fat that would pool at our waists and bounce us on his knees, cooing, "Big belly, big belly, big belly."
A modern day woman learns of the love story and horror kept quiet in the history of her grandparents. We discover along with her of how her grandmother Elizabeth Endicott traveled to Aleppo, Syria with her own father to offer relief to Armenian refugees. What they find when they arrive is a genocide in progress as Turks and Syrians attempt to erase the Armenian race from the earth. While in Aleppo, Elizabeth meets Armenian engineer Armen and falls in love. The novel follows their stories as their modern day granddaughter unravels their past decades later.

I am ashamed to admit that I was unaware of the Armenian genocide, which resulted in the deaths of between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians between the years of 1915 and 1923. It's heartbreaking to think of what happened to these people, the suffering of those who died, and the haunting memories carried by those who survived.

I thought the format of this book was an interesting concept. Instead of simply telling the story of Elizabeth and Armen, to have it told through their granddaughter as she discovers what happened to them in their youth. Elizabeth and Armen were very believable. The granddaughter was sort of forgettable-- a bit of a quiet voice narrating and guiding the story, but Elizabeth and Armen were meant to be the stars of the story, and I found them to be real and solid and moving. They brought the horrors of the Armenian genocide to life.

Caught up in Elizabeth and Armen's story are the stories of many other characters, including an Armenian refugee by the name of Nevart and her young charge Hatoun. Two survivors of the genocide (at least they survived during the period that Elizabeth knew them), their own story is beautiful and stirring and heart wrenching. And then there is the underlying story of the images of the refugees, captured on film plates and being smuggled to safety to assure that they survive the slaughter, to reveal to the world the truth of what is going in Aleppo. And let us not forget the tragic story of Armen's wife Karine and infant daughter.

My final word: This story was a mixture of sweetness, tragedy and horror. Elizabeth and Armen were characters that I could really care about. This novel wraps a history lesson up in an intriguing story. A robust novel full of flavors, and I will undoubtedly be tasting of author Chris Bohjalian's other works. Definitely recommended!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Random House
   
My Rating: 






 

Disclosure:

I received this book from Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

DNF: Variations by John Donatich

A compelling sympathy of the faiths that fill the gap between who we set out to be and who we ultimately become

A powerful debut novel about a priest who has lost his church, his mentor, and, most upsetting, his ability to pray. How can Father Dominic protect or guide his parish when everything he loves falls away? How can he counsel Dolores, a troubled teenager prone to emotional panic and spiritual monomania? Or James, a promising African American pianist, struggling to realize his artistic ambitions by bringing his own voice to a piece that has been played by the world's most brilliant pianists, Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Into this malaise comes Andrea, a sophisticated New York editor attracted at first by Dom's blog and then by the man himself. Dom's journey from the cloth into the secular world will offer carnal knowledge, but also something deeper, a more resistant knowledge as life fails to offer happiness or redemption. In prose both searching and muscular, John Donatich's The Variations has located the right metaphor for our spiritual crisis in this story of one man's spiritual disillusion and ache for self-knowledge.



Did Not Finish:  I received this book from the publisher for review, but I have not been able to get through it. I wasn't able to get into the story, and the creepy way the priest kept focusing on young girls' legs and skin and such left me feeling sleazy. Perhaps I'll get back to it at a later date, but right now I have no desire.

TLC BOOK TOUR and REVIEW: Not Famous Anymore by Michael Loyd Gray

Synopsis

Following up on the success of his critically acclaimed novels, Well-Deserved, Blue Sparta, Fast Eddie and December’s Children, author Michael Loyd Gray has returned with the moving journey of a man’s transformation from superficial success to true inner wealth. Written in the taut, beautiful prose that has become Gray’s trademark, Not Famous Anymore is not only a hilarious and tragic literary gem, but a brilliant commentary on the both the illusions of fame and the state of American society today.

Movie star Elliott Adrian has the life that most of us aspire to: fame, fortune and the freedom. But behind the walls of his Beverly Hills mansion, Elliott is floating in a sea of Stoli, loneliness, and quiet desperation. Surrounded by sycophants and paparazzi, his only real friends have fled Hollywood for less pretentious climes, and he longs to do the same. Thus begins his physical and spiritual return home to the rural town of his birth and to the idealist boy he once was.

Disguising himself with a mustache, a cowboy hat and a series of vehicles that have seen better days, Elliott escapes his golden cage and begins driving back to the Midwest. He is not sure what he is doing, but he knows he is driven by an inexplicable need to make things simpler. What he finds, however, is that his life is about to get a heck of a lot more complicated.


Paperback, 260 pages
Published December 2011 by Three Towers Press
ISBN 1595981578 (ISBN13: 9781595981578)


About the Author
from TLC Book Tours


In creating the rich world of his novels, Michael Loyd Gray draws both on his own experiences and the many pearls of wisdom he has gleaned from literature, music, and movie. His work, he has said, is particularly inspired by that of Ernest Hemmingway.


Michael is an award-winning author, journalist and college professor. Born in Arkansas, he has lived and worked all over the country, including Illinois, New York and Arizona, Texas, and Michigan. He has a MFA from Western Michigan University and a Journalism degree from the University of Illinois. His novels have earned several awards, including the 2008 Sol Books Prose Series Award, the 2005 Alligator Juniper Fiction Prize and the 2005 The Writers Place Award for Fiction. Currently, he is a full-time online English professor at South University, where he co-found Asynchronous, the student literary journal. To learn more about his work, visit http://www.michaelloydgray.com/


My Thoughts
The sad wail of a mourning dove distracted Elliott Adrian, a compact, dark-headed boy of ten. He quickly surveyed the trees, but could not locate the bird. A breeze rose up suddenly with a swoosh and the treetops grated against each other and moaned with insistence. The dove spoke again and Elliott listened a moment before resuming his fierce stance. In his small hands was a Japanese Samurai sword, a relic pilfered from an uncle who had served in the Pacific. 
And so we are introduced to the younger version of Elliott. But today Elliott Adrian is a well known movie actor who has grown tired of being famous. So one day he picks up and does his best at NOT being famous anymore. He lives as something of a regular guy, albeit with a lot more cash than a regular guy, and tries to be a face in the crowd that is easily overlooked.

I came out of this novel with rather mixed feelings. There was good character development of the main character, Elliott Adrian, so that I felt I really got to know this guy, and to understand where he was coming from--  I "got" him. But there were enough niggling little things to lower my enjoyment of the story.

Now I'm a dialogue reader. I don't like overly descriptive text and I enjoy the dialogue in a story more than the narrative. But despite being a dialogue-lover, I must say that this author can write some beautiful narrative. Lovely description without getting bogged down in it. However my biggest pet peeve with the dialogue (aside from all of the typos) was the overuse of addressing the other individual by name. The two people conversing were constantly addressing the other person by name.
"What am I, Elliott?"

"My agent, Marty."
All conversations were like that. Most people (aside from salesmen) don't usually address people by name that often in conversation. Yet in this book it was a pattern with every conversation. I read an article the other day about common mistakes that authors make with dialogue, and one was the overuse of names in conversation. That was the problem here.

And it felt unrealistic to me that this guy would meet so many people on his travels that would have such profound insights to offer him, to help guide him on his spiritual path. Although the author did a good job at making these people likable (I particularly liked Elliott's friend Mule). I wanted to know these people. I wished they would come into my life, so calming and empowering, with little blips of knowledge and insight to help you understand yourself.

And I never understood how he had all of this cash on hand. There was no mention of him taking huge amounts of cash with him when he disappears from fame, and yet as he lives "on the run" for the next year, he has wads of cash on hand. If he was making big banking withdrawals, I would think someone could track him down (and since there is a reward out for anyone who can find him, people are looking for him), but there is no mention of this at all. So where did all the cash come from?

Probably the biggest disappointment with this book was the poor editing and production. Riddled with typos, most striking were the errors in placing pages in the wrong spots. I became very confused when Elliott was in the middle of a conversation with Marty on page 63, and when I turned the page I found him now in a conversation with a "Roy" who had yet to be introduced. I later found that these two pages numbered 64 and 65 belonged around pages 92-93. And what was in their place at pages 92 and 93? A scene with a "Morgan" (these pages also misplaced and actually belonging around page 122). And again around page 100 were two pages that belonged later in the book around page 128. So I had to flag all of these areas, and when I came to the actual conversation later in the story I'd have to search through my flags to find the conversation to read it in sequence, then jump forward to my current location in the book once again.

And then it seemed that a couple of chapters at the end of the book were swapped around, or a portion of one chapter maybe. I'm still not sure exactly what the deal was. One chapter I'm reading about a Christmas gathering, and the next chapter I'm reading about weeks BEFORE Christmas where these people have never even met one another before, with no indication that it is any kind of flashback or anything. It seemed that the chapters were jumbled. I've read over the chapters a couple of times, and I can find no reason that this would be done purposely, and have to assume that the chapters were swapped before printing, as they made no sense in the order they were in.

All of these editing issues interfered with my enjoyment of the story. I spent too much time trying to figure out what was going on, why I was suddenly in the middle of a different conversation, why I was reading something from the future, or why I had suddenly slipped into the past. Things were all over the place, and I don't believe it was the fault of the writer.

And I was a little put-off by all of the putdowns of Republicans. Being an "independent" (only because I'm forced to register as something in order to be a registered voter), I'm one of those "can't we all just get along" folk who have loved ones on both sides, and who is suffering from "election exhaustion" from all of the negativity one side throws at the other. So the last thing I wanted was to hear more of the snide comments in a book I'm reading!

My final word: Snappy and engaging, I enjoyed this short novel overall. There is some great human insight, a little romance, and some drama to keep it interesting. Everything you need for a quick read. The typos and misplacement of pages is something I would expect from an ARC, but not a published novel sent from Amazon, and I would have been pretty ticked to put money out for this book and then found so many errors in it. Hopefully this issue has been or will be resolved. Despite the snide comments continually made about conservatives, I found this novel worth my while.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of this tour.

Check out the master schedule for the tour:

Tuesday, August 27th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews - spotlight
Wednesday, August 28th: WV Sticher – spotlight
Thursday, August 29th: Never Too Fond of Books - spotlight
Friday, August 30th:  Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World - spotlight
Saturday, August 31st: The Book Bag – spotlight
Sunday, September 1st: Seaside Book Nook – spotlight
Monday, October 8th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Tuesday, October 9th: Man of La Book
Thursday, October 18th: she treads softly
Monday, October 22nd: Never Too Fond of Books
Tuesday, October 30th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews


Buy Now:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble


My Rating:






Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

EBook Special Offer

Epic Reads has announced some "epic deals" on a few favorite YA books. Get them now for $2.99 while you can!