Wisdom of MY Words

Random Musings & Book Reviews

Archive for August, 2013

29 August
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The First Day of 8th Grade

This is how the past 24 hours have gone. Besides two small sojourns this summer; one for lax camp at University of St. Thomas and an AYM trip to the Dells my 13-year-old has been home, all summer. My 18-year-old daughter was home for a little over half of it and foul at that, until she realized it best to move on and out, which she did, with not much great aplomb. I have gone on several trips but most of my days have been consumed with feeding said teen boy.

This was a typical day: Wake up. Read. Remember that I should be writing that book. Write. Tweet. Read some more. Use a lot of toilet paper. Son wakes up at an ungodly hour after noon. Make him an appropriate breakfast, lunch or brunch meal. Clean up meal. Tweet. Read Twitter. Read Kindle. Ingest some pills. Nap (or just lay about in bed and read.) Get out of bed. Make my son another meal. Sometimes clean up all the way, sometimes half-way and sometimes not at all. Later, in the evening, realize, after more reading and most likely starting my second book for the day, that I should clean up, because now I have to cook ANOTHER meal.

Yesterday my son went back to school. They are out of uniform because it is “too hot for a uniform”? However, the kids are expected to wear appropriate attire. This is a Catholic School, so good-Sunday clothes, is what I think of. That means, no short-shorts, no short skirts, no lycra, no tank tops (or lax penneys), no BB shorts where your naughty bits sort of stick out of the fabric, so basically my son is stuck wearing something non-uniform that looks uniform, plaid or striped shorts and a cute polo. This is understandably WAY TOO HOT for school. He came home drenched yesterday after school. A sheen of sweat dribbling from his face. It’s summer. In Minnesota. Why should I sweat? We are close to Canada after all. The complaining about the clothes began. It didn’t end, except when he was plugged in to MineCraft.

An email was sent to parents from the Middle School Coordinator telling all us parents what a great job we did not dressing our kids inappropriately on the first day of school. We are parents for G-ds sake, we do know how to dress our children, thank you for noticing. While he was at school I finished all four of my remaining Game of Thrones. The Starks, the Lannisters, Oh my! Every time I watch something geeky like this I realize I really should nag the husband to go to ComiCon, but he thinks we’d be pronouncing our geekiness to the world. Well, yes, that is true, but isn’t that the point?!

After my son arrived home he watched the beginning of The Descent with me and I tweeted. Then I thought about high schools. Thinking about high schools made me think of Heike, so I Googled her and the bitch stole my husband’s ideas! Her blog, which she hasn’t touched in a year, is called “BecauseAnneSaidSo,” which is pretty damn close to what the husband used to name her computer directories, “BecauseHeikeSaidSo.” One idea stolen. I read a blog post. A van down by the river? The husband says that ALL THE TIME. We used to compare their house to a van down by the river owned by her husband (which she says!) and then she mentions a missing kidney, which was a constant refrain when Simon was in high school because of Charlie and Candy Mountain. Now Charlie is 22, or 23, and has a kid, out in California.

By this time it was time for me to make my teenager another meal. The first one was chicken wings with homemade honey mustard dipping sauce. The second was grilled cheese. I have yet this morning to go round-up plates from his sister’s old bedroom and his room and start dishwashers and, most likely, the washer. You might ask why I am not working? I’m writing a book! Don’t you read?

So after my visible agitation that Heike stole my husband’s ideas and he should sue her, said in jest, of course, I had to debate with my son what to wear today. He wanted to wear poly basketball shorts. I said No. About 10 times. I said No because his junk sticks out and that would not be good-Sunday clothes. I convinced him to wear a different pair of striped shorts and his pink polo. There was a 15-minute debate last night about the polo being too hot, and 95F with a dew-point of 74% is hot, and somehow a lax tee would be less hot, but not good-Sunday, which I suppose is arbitrary, but still, I’m the parent.

This morning he was wearing the pink polo and he looked so preppy and cute, I wanted to eat him up. He was slow. I said, Come on Whitney, it’s time to fly! He responded with something else, and I sadly have to admit that my son doesn’t know who Whitney Houston was, but he knows the Beatles. Riddle me that! I certainly hope we get another cheery email that tells us what a great job we are doing dressing our children in non-hoodlum or slut wear today.

The highlight of my day is the fact that Douglas Wickard’s new book, A Perfect Setup. Thank G-d for Twitter.

28 August
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Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James

I seem to be using the word redundant a lot in my reviews of this trilogy, I am also sick of hearing everyone yammer on in the reviews that this is a rip-off of Twilight, this is a massive rip-off of the film, The Secretary with James Spader (who was named Mr. Grey), from 2002; taken from the original story from Mary Gaitskill. This book took me the longest to read, it’s almost 500 pages long, I ran through it in under eight hours; including breaks. I stayed with it to see if a plot would develop and one did. Finally, [SPOILER] a kidnapping and if you’re a woman you knew Ana was pregnant WAY before she did. Ana’s well-read naivete is still impressive in this book, “Why shouldn’t I pee?” Well, duh.

Everything gets sorted in this book. Then you get a nicely tacked on Hollywood-ending where the Grey’s live happily ever after, and there are even more Grey’s now since Ana has a child and her best-friend Kate marries Christian’s brother and they have a kid.

If you are book addict, as I am, then read it for the plot, but skip over the boring panting, sex and chronic orgasms, unless you like that kind of thing.

28 August
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Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James

To quote one reviewer: “It’s like literary crack. You know it’s bad for you, and you feel dirty and low for enjoying it, but you can’t stop.” Spot on says @krautgrrl. There was more plot to this book than book one, and by plot I mean more real writing and less sex, but there is still a lot sex, and with this much sex; well, one becomes immune. It’s like consistent expletive usage, it gets old fast. But ever the reader to finish a book and hope Ana or Christian die, or get kidnapped, or something so all the sex will just end, we get a confrontation with Christian’s first dom, who “corrected” him.

Ana and Christian are in love, or lust, and while she doesn’t want to be hurt by his whips and canes and hiking equipment, she is still drawn to the Red Room of Pain.

IMO, we’re pretty tame on the whole erotica theme, mostly because there is all that blushing and flushing and grimacing and lip pulling, and spanking. I’m guessing I wasn’t supposed dwell on the issue that they seem to have a lot of time for sex when they both work. As in my first review, the redundancy is what makes the book unbearable. This book took me less time to read because I paged forward past a lot of the sex. Been there, done that, I’m married!

In this book we get our prior repetition from book one, plus Ana constantly calling Christian, “my fifty,” in her head every other page (or so it seems.)

Where oh where was the DE on this project? Or was said DE just so amazed by handcuffs and butt plugs that he or she over-looked the fact that the plot compromises about forty-nine pages?

Read if you’re intrigued by sex that isn’t missionary all the time, otherwise just read the plot bits. The aging dom debacle is well-done!

PS: A DE is a Developmental Editor who usually takes the first look at your book before it gets shuttled off to editing.

27 August
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Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Four days of my life I am never getting back for reading this entire trilogy. My friends have been ranting about it, Twitter has been going gang-buster about the movie it will be, and my mum said it was pornographic. I stayed away, even though the New York Times Bestseller list always intrigues me. After going out drinking with @derkrautboy and friends, the female told me I “had to read Fifty Shades of Grey.” Husband downloaded it off his Amazon site and the trilogy arrived in my Kindle as I was finishing up a Jo Nesbo book (who is an amazing author, and good-looking too!)

About mid-way through the book, I did a double-take, just a second here my CPU brain said, this is an elongated version of the film, The Secretary, from 2002, which stars James Spader, whose name JUST HAPPENS TO BE Mr. Grey! Just like Stephanie Meyer stole major portions of the Twilight series from Buffy, James stole her idea from Mary Gaitskill’s short story, which The Secretary is based off of.

What virgin in her right might throws her virginity away to a 26 year old billionaire who makes her sign an NDA and wants her to be his submissive? Ana’s naivete is appalling and gets old fast. The sex scenes aren’t terrible in book one, but the redundancy is obvious when you move through all three books in a row.

Christian Grey is super hot, always amazing to look at; and I wanted to scream after the 50th “baby” was whispered, yelled, typed in an email, well, you get the picture. I remember 26 year olds, and they did not always get erections from just a kiss, or a look, or a squeeze. Grey seems to have a permanent horn! I was shocked that the book was based in Seattle because of all the Britishisms I read, I’ve lived in the UK so I have a few of my own, but regardless of her English language prowess, Ana had never travelled abroad and therefore would not end up with the vocabulary she uses consistently.

Then there’s the massive amount of redundancy; besides Christian’s permanent horn. Ana is always wet and ready, the sex scenes are pretty darn tame for erotica and between her inner goddess and said goddesses chaise lounge and her prim subconscious, Grey and Steele are always flushing and blushing and gazing wantonly at one another, as well as Christian constantly being mercurial.

Is it too much to ask for a plot? Oh, there is one; an entire sub-plot where Christian was brought into the BDSM LifeStyle by his mother’s friend! The sub-plot gets good in book two, btw, but the redundancy may kill you.

I found the writing actually pretty well-done, considering I read a lot. If you are easily titillated and bored with your own sex-life give it a whirl.

27 August
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Surviving the Fall by William R. Potter

I found Potter on Twitter. As a published author, ex-Professor and long-time reader of many genres I had trouble with Potter’s work. This book is technically three stories. One about a guy who takes in a 14-year-old prostitute. That is the longest story and is just unbelievable. What rational 26-year-old man would take in a 14-year-old girl? I understand his loss and confusion over losing his wife, but the story just screams stupidity. After taking care of the teenager for a few days, her past catches up to them and he is held by the Police. Then the story ends abruptly.

The second story is about a painter who has a three-year old son and his wife is in hospital. His parents’ are racists, and his father dies while he is on the phone with his mother. There is less of a plot in this story, and way more telling then showing.

The final story is about a man who won the lottery and his three friends who have bonded since Junior High. The lotto man’s son and his friend’s children are stolen by “Eastern Europeans” and they don’t call the Police; instead they call the other two friends and go all Rambo on the kidnappers. Again, shorter, more telling then showing with a nice pat ending where the kids are just fine.

The book isn’t horrible, but it is just not believable!

27 August
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Unheard Cries by Joyce Mitchell

I found this book on Twitter. As a published author, adjunct Professor and editor I feel this compulsive need to torture myself and finish books to give a good review. I read a lot, between research for my own books to leisure reading of fiction and nonfiction (usually not Indie published authors, but lately I have felt the need to read what’s going through KDP since I just published with them this summer, after years of thinking Indie publishing was a bad idea) I read anywhere between 2-10 books per week and have since I was a child.

While this author’s bio may make her seem like she’s some great author, the book is poorly written with grammatical errors, typos, a lot of telling not showing, a scattered plot line, etc. The author is approximately my mother’s own age, so I do know a thing or two about the time frames she writes about, which are the 1930s-1980s. The book reads like someone’s geriatric grandmother is telling stories and the illiterate note-taker of grandma’s stories is jotting everything down for publication. I have some examples.

Emma, the main female protagonist, is drawn in by Aaron, the main male protagonist. Emma is part Cherokee. When Emma has her and Aaron’s first child, Judy Ann, the author brings up AGAIN, Emma’s Cherokee blood. This would be a great opportunity to explain to the audience what it was like growing up as a half-breed in the South during the 1930s-1940s.

At 39% a woman named Odessa comes to visit Emma. Odessa drives up out of the blue, she’s never been introduced in to the book, and she just shows up to gossip with Emma. We never see or hear from Odessa again. Her visit is not explained, except as a means for gossip about Aaron to reach Emma. Situations like this happen all the time. We know Aaron’s father, Harvey, has a bad heart, but Harvey just disappears from the book. As the reader you wonder if he is now dead. Aaron’s mother still plays a prominent role, but her husband has completely disappeared. It’s perplexing for the reader.

At 41% it is now 1948 and Emma has her third child. The author states: “…Emma and Aaron’s mother Bessie got in the ambulance…” Bessie is Aaron’s mother and Emma’s mother-in-law. If you’re paying attention, you begin to wonder what happened to Beulah, Emma’s mother. The next page tells the reader that Emma’s fourth child is now born. What year is it? A half page ago it was 1948, now it’s what? 1949? 1950? There is absolutely no time continuity. You have no idea what year it is and what in the heck is going on. Another example for confusion is this same area of 41-42%. After the fourth child is born, Judy [Ann] is taken to the river by her father, Aaron. She is frightened by a “Georgia bobcat.” A paragraph later, we read that Aaron took an instrument in to the water and fish started to float on top. Where did the bobcat go? Who knows! It was never mentioned again.

Mentioning something, for example, the KKK, out in the country-side and then not talking about it, is a prime example of what this book brings to the table besides rampant drunkenness, laziness, enablement, physical abuse, and much more.

At 44% we are now told it’s 1954. That’s two pages after it was 1948. A page after it is 1954, Emma is thinking, “But she was tired, and age was catching up with her.” Emma, in 1954, must be about 28-30 years old. She’s hardly old, even by 1950s standards. On the next page Emma is hit by Aaron because she notices a 1954 Chevy on the road and we find out that Aaron has told her she cannot look or speak to her parents. All this time, I’ve been wondering what happened to Emma’s mother and father, and at 45% we’re just told she can’t talk to them. This would have been a great place to show some plot demonstration, but Mitchell doesn’t have the first clue how to demonstrate plot, so again we are left lost.

Moving forward to 55%, Emma gets an old friend to taker her and the kids to her parents house. She tells them she’s staying. Mitchell writes: “Yes, we’re staying.” she said. “This is our home.” And so they stayed.” They did not stay and Emma went back to Aaron. But what is bad about this, is that there are plenty of times where Mitchell could elaborate, demonstrate mixed feelings, the relationship between Emma and her parents, anything at all; but she doesn’t. This is precisely one of those points in the book.

Aaron is banned from Troup County, GA at 74%. There might be a respite for Emma and her kids now. Mitchell has stated that YEARS HAVE GONE BY, but at 75% we find that it is only 1955. 30% movement in the book, so much has happened to Emma and her children, but we’ve only moved forward in time one year! Aaron has moved to Mobile, AL and it is said that it smells like the Ocean. This would be a great opportunity to SHOW people where Mobile is, at the top of Mobile Bay, an inlet off the Gulf of Mexico.

At 77% Emma starts dating a soldier from Fort Benning and the reader finds out her and Aaron are divorced. She marries the soldier, who is married to another woman, and has a baby; long after he is taken away by the Military Police. We have no idea what year it is, there is no story behind Emma and Aaron getting divorced, no explanation of much at all. At 79% we find it is only Winter 1958. At 82% Emma states that her parents were good providers but that they were living in hard times. A lot of people don’t know, and were not affected by the small recession that hit the US in 1957-58, it certainly wasn’t as bad as the 1930s when Emma was a child. But Mitchell could have explained that the US hit a recession and affected the price of things during that time period. Most people did not lose their jobs, so it really wasn’t something that was documented all that much.

At 85% Mitchell writes, “Many years passed, some of them happy and some of them just-so. The 1960s came…” Well, for crying out loud, it’s about time! I believe Mitchell has no concept of what the word MANY means…

Aaron, ~50 years old, falls in love at 95%, with a 27-year-old. He calls his daughter Judy and she gets his divorce papers. However, she states that his divorce papers say that he “…has no right to remarry.” I’ve never heard of such a thing, and believe that Mitchell could have explained this odd legal scenario.

I feel like four hours of my life was sucked from me by reading this absolute piece of garbage. Do not read this book, it is poorly written and a grave disappointment. It’s a sad state of affairs that everyone thinks they are a writer when they have no training, no experience, have never been critiqued, and can’t even hire an editor to clean up their hodge podge work and still get published! It’s frankly disgusting. Author bios can be a boatlaod of lies and no one points it out. Well, I am!

C. S. Lantz stated on my Amazon review this: “This review says exactly what I was thinking, but is better documented. I didn’t take notes as I went along, but like the reviewer above, I feel compelled to finish a book and give it every chance to become something. This one did not become anything other than a disappointment and I too felt it was a major waste of my time. I am an avid reader and enjoy reading different types of stories. I read this in hopes of seeing an inside view of how a woman stays in an abusive marriage. But it wandered around, there was no involvement in the story, and the author just dropped things onto the page without explanation or reason, and went blithely on, leaving me constantly wondering what was the point of that item ? There seems to be a story in mind, or an idea, but it is not written in a way to make the reader see or feel what is going on. It is merely described, and poorly at that, in a disjointed way that left me feeling frustrated. I’ve read many books, and some are not too good, but this is truly one of the worst. I have never left a review of any kind, and I truly did keep reading hoping this story would have some redeeming value, but it does not. I’m sorry. I have to say this is not worth your time.”

27 August
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Starfish by Jennie Orbell

I found this book on Twitter and I must say, it’s a cute little read. It doesn’t take long and most of the characters are CHARACTERS: funny, silly, drinking, teasing, nice people. Olivia is the primary protagonist and she has been kicked out by her husband and is staying at her parents house over the Christmas holiday while they are in Hawaii. Her brother James shows up and sweeps her off to a mansion in the middle of nowhere to visit James’ friend and co-worker Rory. Rory occasionally lives at home with his mum, Molly; the cook, Martha; his brother Max and Max’s girlfriend Reba (which is short for Rebecca). Reba is a horrible, pretentious person who really wants to get a hold of Max’s old family money. Reba wants to be “lady of the manor.” I personally despise the name Reba, it makes me think of awful Yank singers.

Olivia, or Livvy (which immediately made me think of Liver and Onions, and Reba is uncouth to point out it does for her as well) as she is called, is devastated by her husband William. Livvy bares her soul to the drinking Molly and Martha before Christmas. Max it seems can read minds and knows that Livvy was beaten and sexually abused by William. Livvy did not come across like that, but what I found fascinating is the fact that her parents, when they came back from Hawaii (and going to Hawaii from the UK isn’t cheap!) were displeased with Livvy and ignored her. It seemed, according to Livvy, that they believed William instead of her, liked William more than her, and they chose to not speak to her. Livvy was really on her own.

Now Livvy does come across as pretty naive, James not so much, and Max and Reba an odd pair. Molly and Martha are as one would expect two older women to be. One the current lady of the manor, the other the help who is the confidant of the lady. They are silly and a bit nutty, but pretty typical of old-style money situations.

We soon discover that Max’s heart has been broken three years prior, by the Minister’s daughter no less, and he is insulating himself with the attractive, yet crass, money-grubbing Reba. His mum, Molly is a hoot, her husband Fred dead, what better way to spend time than drinking with the cook over the holidays; they certainly are a lonely time. The holidays are the worst, and the book brings strangers and family together very well for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years Eve.

The book does take some suspension of disbelief. We, as readers, have to acknowledge that William and Reba are going to get away with anything because Molly doesn’t want to see her son hurt or affected by bad press. I grew up in an old money family where appearances are everything, so I understand this mentality, but it’s hard when Livvy has been so abused by her husband whom she trusted with her chastity and she can’t even speak to her parents about it. Max seems to want to take his time, he seems to understand Livvy is damaged, yet they end up having sex on the beach. A quickie of sorts, and it is a bit shocking to consider Livvy was abused, Max can tell, but then would take advantage of her in such a manner. Additionally, Reba’s resources to prove a fake pregnancy are incredible! I wondered how that was possible. So, as I stated, you need to suspend disbelief, because, for example, while Max can seem so smart, you’d think he’d have Reba checked by his personal physician to see if she was with child, instead of people she could pay off to falsify that she was pregnant. Max seems gullible in some areas and not in others, and they don’t mix well, those issues.

We are shown, one night when Molly, Martha and Livvy are drinking that Livvy was a cook, and a good one at that, for nine years, before her marriage to William. Because of Livvy’s personality (naive, a bit blind regarding what’s in front of her) and her experience as a cook, she is asked to replace Martha as the house cook. She does, and what I find so sad is that she is really lonely. Livvy just wants to be accepted, and her parents don’t seem to be of the accepting sort. But Reba and William trying to rob Molly’s home comes as a bit of a shock. It appears the two will go to enormous lengths to get what they want, it’s almost surreal.

Numerous events in the book, the dogs, the seals, the interactions between everyone, make it a super easy read. There are some typos and grammar issues, it could have used a diligent editor, but not so many errors that it makes the book unreadable, which has happened to me with books found on Twitter.

It’s a cute little read with a nice, sweet happy ending; an ending that Livvy deserves after all she’s been through.

26 August
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Intended for Harm by C.S. Lakin

I found this book on Twitter, it was free. I’m always disappointed it seems, when I get a book that others promote and it doesn’t live up to basic book expectations. Now, since I am an author, editor and adjunct writing Prof., I may have heavier standards than most. But I will start with Jacob. Jake Abrams, born of Isaac, marries Leah Sacks (a Jew), and begets Reuben (Behold: A Son), Simon (To be heard), Levi (Joined in harmony) and Dinah (G-d has judged). Jake’s only goal in life is to not go to UCLA, get away from his parents and get a college degree in the time of the Vietnam War.

Leah runs away and one night when Jake is supposed to be at school watching Simon and Levi in a play he walks and finds and open, empty (no services) Church. He cries for Leah, his wife that left him and his children. He never was able to finish his college degree, and there are dramatic parallels with the Old Testament. But the author NEVER deals with the fact that the first four of Jacob’s children are Jews. If the mother is Jewish, then the children are as well. Lakin belongs to PEN, but a Christian arm of it (which, as a member of PEN, I was unaware existed, but actually shouldn’t be surprised). So, we have this basically Christian father, Jake, from Colorado, who meets Leah Sacks in LA, is over-whelmed by her and ends up married. He stays in school but pregnancy seems to liberate her, make her feel more like a woman. So she continues to fight with her husband Jake, not take her pill and get pregnant. Leah, supposedly, has no relationship with her own parents.

When Dinah is a baby, Leah bounces and goes off with a Moor (a black man), pounding coke up her nose, singing her songs and playing her acoustic guitar. The most hurt, besides Jake, by her actions, is Simon. It’s always the Simon, I have to say. I have my own Simon, whom I’m writing a book about and I think Lakin MUST know how a “Simon” behaves, regardless of hair colour, because I saw my own book in her writing; which frankly is pretty scary! Lakin can tell a good story! I will explain later why I only gave her 4/5 stars.

Back to the Church, which, we are not told of the denomination, but there Jake meets Rachel. Eventually Jake and Rachel marry and she births Joseph (G-d will increase!), who is so close to the Biblical Stories I have read, is scary. He is a pain though, to his older brothers. But a child who brags he knows better than G-d, or his older brothers and their evil deeds is going to be the cause of some consternation. I am taken by my own daughter, Miriam’s, baptism, where light shined upon the six-week old wee one and she has been truly a gift from G-d. Rachel, coming after the careless Leah, is an amazing, loving, G-d-filled (supposedly) woman. But Rachel has her faults. She loves Joey more than the others and they notice. Her sister and parents aren’t pleased with her marriage and make it abundantly clear, by their actions, how displeased they are, and it’s hard to read. It really is. One wants to believe so much that we love out children and therefore are happy for them when they get married and will do everything for them, but Rachel’s parents’ remind me of the Catholic joke that says everyone is nice in Church and when they get out to the parking lot they could care less if they ran you over. Those are Rachel’s parents to a tee!

After some miraculous events, Rachel is pregnant with Ben (Son of my right hand), who is a sickly child. Joey realizes G-d has a plan and Ben is to be saved, but Rachel dies. Now, Joey’s miraculous events are wonderful, but the burden of his mother’s death and his brother Ben’s illness, as well as the anger from Simon and Levi eventually weigh the poor kid down. Simon is truly evil to Joseph. Joey is but a naive child and says things that upset his brothers, but Simon trying to kill him is just insanity. At 54% Jake is angry with G-d, he doesn’t believe that G-d is there for him. That is a constant struggle between him and Rachel, although, in my opinion, she doesn’t press Jake to go to Church as she should.

On top of that, Jake is so worried he will turn out like his father that he pays less attention than he should to his children. He is so emotionally absent it’s a bit scary. After Rachel’s death, Jake keeps to himself. We are probably at the 30 year mark here. This book hits about five decades. As a side segway, the songs at the beginning of each chapter, I, personally, found hard to understand. I’m an 80s baby and Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper are OK, but my brain starts singing the lyrics in my head and then I feel like I have to search for the song meanings within the chapter. Given that I am an early adopter, as well, of YouTube and songs online and MP3s, I found it difficult. My brain wanted to do one thing, try to sing lyrically, in tune, to the song presented, yet also understand what the song meant to the chapter.

75% we have Tim, from Hootie and the Blowfish. What an awful band. You can/t even understand what the lead singer is saying! I made a bookmark and I watched the video and in all honesty, I wouldn’t be able to pin the song Lakin put in ger book to what he’s singing. 97% LeAnn Rimes, How Do I Live? Wow! What an awful song! I know the 90s were bad in general for music, but I couldn’t place this, so I had to GFE it, and I was disappointed. Rimes hurts my brain. I think I actually lost some of my brain cells listening to her. In my opinion, music should be fully integrated or not at all. So, let’s move forward to Roland, after Simon and Levi did their awful deed. Roland is AMAZING! I love the guy. Lakin just makes you ache as a reader for these good people who care and are not judgmental about some white boy on the streets of South-Central LA. Roland and his family can be called nothing but a G-d Send in this book. As a reader I just want to meet Roland and grab him by the shoulders and hug that man to death! He is an amazing construct of love, will, stubbornness, and purity. A black man helping a white boy is often seen as odd in our society and I was really happy to see Lakin bring this to the forefront, albeit it was heinous what Simon and Levi did to their own brother, but read a Bible, this is taken from it!

Joseph moving to St. Louis and saving Ben’s life, as predicted, is a bit silly. Levi and Simon, by proxy, coming to their senses and taking responsibility for a crime they committed snaps everything neatly in to place. @krautgrrl says, well written, a good read; but don’t expect to suddenly believe in some religion where kids are baptized at six years old.

26 August
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Once Upon A Castle by Alan S. Blood

I found this author on Twitter. I’ve given him four stars because he has a good storyline, but abruptly ends it with Mary & Tom’s fathers death. Tom and Mary’s uncle Toby said that there would be castles to explore, with ghosts. The twins leave their schools and parents for evacuation to Northumbria during the second WW.

They live with their Aunt Victoria and Uncle Leslie, meet Mrs M., a bizarre dog who only appears when the twins are in danger, Scamp and, then their awful tutor, Miss Urquart. They run away from Urquart to find a mysterious castle they heard stories about and think they saw through an old telescope. Suddenly they are part of a sic-fi time warp that demonstrates ancient warfare. They are rescued by the Royal Navy. Yet, this is only the beginning of more unexpected tragedies before the twins begin to escape from it all. There are Vikings, castles, and German U-Boats all found in Northumberland.

The drawings were pointless, my son found them silly; I just ignored them. For only 77 pages it should cost less than $3.99USD. Mr. Blood, while may have been a teacher (as I’ve been an adjunct Prof.), doesn’t mean he can write. There are some good scenes but Blood could have made the whole adventure much more scintillating. If I were the author I’d work more on development and holding my audience longer.

A three-star book, but gave four stars for effort. Not a bad read, some parts interesting, but too short. Give it a go if you have nothing else to read.

21 August
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A Human Element by Donna Galanti

I’m giving this book four stars, although I’m really leaning in on 3.5; mostly because there are gaping holes in the plot, a zillion typos and grammar errors that about drove this published author absolutely crazy. The only reason the book took me three days to read was the errors took enormous energy out of me and I had to put it down otherwise I would have lost my sanity. Either Galanti did not hire an editor or she herself published this Kindle edition with massive errors. That lost the book major points in my eyes.

The plot line is mostly solid, but the beginning is shaky and rough, the reader is constantly jumping around to different people and feels lost at first. A “secret government experiment” isn’t explained until much later. If you like good transitions and want a plot line that moves seamlessly, you won’t get that until the middle of the book.

Lastly, towards three-fourths in to the book you are shoved in to an unexpected situation and practically everything you wondered about is finally explained. While this is done pretty well, it’s a lot of information that could have been presented over a longer time line; a very difficult concept for writers.

It has an interesting sci-fi-ish plot, but the science-fiction of this book doesn’t really exist in the realm of what most people would label sci-fi. More of an interesting twist of fate.

The denouement cleans everything up and presents you with a clean little, bow-wrapped Tiffany blue box. Galanti obviously likes her happy endings. But it’s just too nice and tight, after dealing with scattered writing for a chunk of the novel to have this tight, well-written denouement is interesting, and you are left happy, if you’re all about Hollywood endings. I really wanted some disappointment at the end to show the brevity of the main female protagonist’s situation, personally I was not pleased.

I recommend this Kindle book as a read if you’ve run out of five-star books to read, want to read something because you yourself are an author and want to see some mistakes to avoid, or want to support Indie authors. Otherwise pass on it.