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Book Review – Invisible by Jeanne Bannon

Posted April 11, 2012 By LadyJai

InvisibleInvisible by Jeanne Bannon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I won an e-copy of this book via the author’s blog: http://beyondwordsblog.blogspot.com/
I am a slow reader, as I like to enjoy the book. But I also am doing many other things, like writing my own. So, it took me a little while to finish this book. But what I’d like to say is, I DID finish. Unlike the last three books I’ve attempted to read, this story was engaging. It was easy to read. Grammar was excellent, and the plot was solid. I did enjoy this book. We all love “the underdog wins” kind of book, don’t we! 😀

However, there were a few things I had issues with in the book. We know Lola is supposed to be tall and overweight. I don’t feel that the author accurately described Lola. I never got the picture of an obese teen. Nor did I get the feeling she was overly tall. At 5’8″, that’s not too far reaching. Rather, the image I feel the author painted of Lola was more “normal” than she was going for, only a little chunky, despite Nino’s comments to her.

I clearly could see Charlie as the author wanted, I felt more feelings for Charlie than I did for Lola, and she wasn’t the main character. I think this poses a problem.

I’m not too keen on “ugly chick gets beautiful guy”. Because, let’s face it, really how many times have you seen this in YOUR high school? This is just fantasy we’d all LOVE to have happen in real life. But it just doesn’t. If Lola really is ugly…she shouldn’t get a beautiful guy. A guy, yes, but not gorgeous.

My biggest character issue is with Gram. Gram is in her 80s, but talks and acts like a teen. I could not find anything in her character as believable, really. Though her role in the story is crucial, the character personality is wrong.

Other than those issues, I really did like this. The story, the message especially. “You have to love yourself before others will love you.” This one phrase is very important and teens just don’t get it. I know I didn’t when I was a teen.

The bully/bully-ee conflict hits home with me, and I am sure with so many. However, I was starting to worry about the outcome. I really did not want an eye-for-an-eye type outcome. And, let’s just say, I am happy with the ending! No need to spoil it for you.

I definitely would recommend it to the teen reader! Especially, someone who is on the brunt end of a bully, or a girl who is not happy with who she is.

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Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Posted February 13, 2012 By LadyJai

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*SPOILER ALERT!*

After finishing this book yesterday, I am still fuming. I feel cheated by the ending. Why is it that authors of series, good series, tend not to know when to end the book? Look at JK Rowlins, she could have left the Epilogue off and everyone would have been just fine without it. Suzanne Collins, well, she could have ended it with Katniss going ape crazy bonkers nuts and I’d have been happy. But no. She chose to continue on with it and weave it into a “happily ever after” ending. Bah humbug!

As far as Gale is concerned, still useless despite his role in the last book. Add him into the mix as a soldier, that’s fine. But have him a “love interest” to just “make him disappear” at the end? psha!

As for the predictability, yes, it still happened. I knew who Katniss was going to kill from the time she showed up in District 13. Katniss doesn’t know how to be anything but someone else’s pawn. The grass isn’t always greener, is it?!

The overall story was lovable. The first two books were really good, despite how I feel about the predictability and the love triangle. The third book was good, even. Up until she killed off Fennick and Prim, Gale disappearing (some love interest), and continued on to make it a semi happy ending. Ugh!

But, I sure was hoping that Ms. Collins would have utilized the berries for her ending. Somehow gone back to the “Romeo and Juliet” aspect of it and ending it on that note. Or maybe make President Coin and President Snow husband and wife and this whole thing would have been a domestic dispute. Or nuke it all! Or even, having Katniss spend out the rest of her life in her insane little world, one in which she cannot remove herself from the Games, and everything she sees, and does, and thinks is just another part of the Games. It would have been a more interesting ending.

I guess you can say, I didn’t see this ending coming! And the only time I think I may have shed a tear was when she was back home in District 12 and Buttercup finally accepted her. Yeah, I love how cat’s just know when you need some lovin’. 🙂

“happily ever after”…such a cop-out! Like “it was all a dream” cop-out. CHEATED I TELL YA!

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Book Review: Catching Fire By Suzanne Collins

Posted February 9, 2012 By LadyJai

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve overcome my problems with reading the first person present POV. I’ve felt every twisting, confusing thought that plagued Katniss. I felt what Ms. Collins intended me to feel about each and every other character through the eyes of Katniss. Although, I am still unsure why we need Gale at all.

I agree with others in that her love interest in Peeta is a definite crucial plot point, but Gale is superfluous. That love triangle, that torn piece of the heart, serves no real purpose to further the story line. I find it just gets in the way.

Just as with the first book, I found the outcome very predictable. In fact, I think this book was more predictable than the first. I don’t know if it’s because of my age and have more experience in life that I can predict the outcome and the how, or is it just that plain obvious? These books are classified Young Adult, so who knows. 🙂

Overall, I am still enjoying the story. It is a very easy read. And each chapter makes you crave more.

Off to read Book #3.

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Book Review: The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins

Posted January 31, 2012 By LadyJai

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first encounter with first person, present tense POV. It took a little getting used to because I am so interested in getting into the heads of/the psychology of all the other characters. First person POV did not afford me that opportunity.However, I did find that Ms. Collins managed to get me deep into the head of Katniss. She made me indifferent to some characters while remaining standoffish to others. I think she pulled this off quite nicely. The present tense provided a more immediate feel for the situation. The tension was good. The pacing was good. I found myself not wanting to put it down, even when real life called.

Overall, I loved this story. It is very reminiscent of Lord of the Flies and Running Man, with a hint of Romeo and Juliet. A struggle for survival. Playing a game of life or death, and only one can emerge the victor. I’m not big on the whole romance thing, though. At least it wasn’t dripping in it. Not sure how that will play out in the following two books, though. But we’ll see.

The only real problem I had with the story, and it really is a minor one, is that it was too predictable. I pretty much figured everything out. Like I said, this is a minor irritant. After all, the book’s intended audience is for the “Young Adult”, not someone like me. The overall story, the characters, the plot, everything was rather enjoyable and I wanted to keep reading even when life got in the way. I will be reading the other two books soon enough.

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Should Writers Review Books?

Posted January 13, 2012 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

Recently, I have noticed a lot of banter on Twitter and blogosphere about writers, reviewers and self-published/Indie authors. Many authors who self-pub, or even trying to get their small-press Indie publishing company off the ground have been out seeking reviewers of their newly published books. And many authors are frustrated because the review sites will not accept self-published or Indie published books. I’ve seen valid points on both sides of the argument.

Yes, I am a writer. I write. But I also read. I’ve been reading much longer than I’ve been writing. And I feel that reading is a necessity for writers. Reading can provide an escape from reality. But it can also provide lessons for the writer. Books can give me insight into story, plot, structure, and characters. It also opens me up to many different styles. I can then learn from what I read and analyze and make it my own, in my own writing. When I review someone’s book, and if I find issues, I will note it and try to find ways for the author to improve. I don’t sugar coat anything. I don’t find it beneficial to have a line of “Yes Men” giving out glorious reviews on something that isn’t production-ready. It only serves to inflate the author’s head and does nothing for the fan base. (Honestly, I would prefer to have my critique sessions to come BEFORE publication so I could work out the kinks and make it a better story)

So, recently I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some rather sketchy comments on Twitter and blogs bashing people who don’t accept self-published or Indie books for review. The authors of these types of books seem to be blowing things out of proportion and generalizing too much. Some have gone so far to say that those reviewers are downright rude. I’ve gone to a few reviewer’s sites and read their policy, even read why they chose not to review self-pubbed/Indie books. I’ve not yet found a single rude comment. Just because it goes against your wishes, or your opinion, does not mean that you can categorize it as “rude”. Take, for example, All Thing’s Urban Fantasy’s stance and reasoning. The blog post is very well written and very tactful. I cannot see any sense of rudeness. However, I’ve seen comments that point to an author’s distaste for the decision.

I read. And when I read, I expect the author to have a basic understanding for grammar. If a writer cannot master spelling and grammar, how can you expect them to master the more intricate form of storytelling? I don’t hold a traditionally published author to a higher standard than a self-pubbed/Indie author. In fact, now that I think about it a little more in-depth, I may hold the self-pubbed/Indie author to a higher standard. At least with a traditional pubbed author, you know that they’ve fought tooth and nail with their story to get it as perfect as they can before submitting to an agent/editor/publisher. And those that are traditionally published, don’t have to go through much more editing after that. Their work is not necessarily perfect, but as perfect as they can make it.

Now, I like to support my fellow writer and I think reading and reviewing shows that support. However, I’ve had some serious issues with the majority of self-pubbed/Indie writers. I haven’t fully taken the step to limit my reading to traditional published authors, but I am seriously straddling that line. Why? because the majority of self-pubbed/Indie Author’s I’ve read are just not ready yet. Granted, there are a few who’ve gone out of their way and went through an editor and several revision processes. One of my local critique partners has self-published a few of his short stories. I’ve read them. I’ve reviewed them. They are actually, what I consider, publishable quality.

I was hesitant, at first, to garner him support for the self-publishing world. The stigma that surrounds this area is very negative, even in my eyes. My first encounter with a self-published author was an OMG! I can’t believe this made it to press! moment. When I found out that it was self-published, I became biased and distanced myself from reading those types of books for a very long while. It was only when I started following more writer-ly people on Twitter did I decide that reading and reviewing their work would be good support for them.

I recently read a book and gave (what I thought) a very insightful, tactful review. However, once the author saw the review, their twitter stream exploded! You would not believe what I read. Rather than focusing on the content of the review and taking it as a means of bettering their writing, they focused on the fact that I said it was “self-published”. Now, this book was not technically self-pubbed–meaning the author didn’t do it themselves. Rather, they went through a newly formed Indie publisher who, in my opinion, is nothing more than someone who assists authors in self-publishing. I don’t want to knock this method. It really helps those not technologically savvy. But, my point was not remotely anywhere near bashing self-published or Indie authors. It was simply to state that the story was good, it just needed a few more editing passes before the author actually put it to bed.

Not only did the author’s twitter stream explode, but then I get a response to the review on Amazon, apparently from a friend of the author. I did not apologize for my review. In fact, I stood behind it. It was honest, heart-felt, and I truly wanted to help the author better their writing.

Unfortunately, the level of maturity I’ve seen in some self-pubbed/Indie authors is akin to a teenager. Many seem to lack the ability to take constructive criticism. So when I see an author asking for “honest reviews” on their new book, I am very reluctant. Can the author REALLY handle my reviews if it’s not a 4 or a 5 star review? Or will I get a snotty brat when I’m done? I so want to say, “I’ll review your book and give you an honest opinion IF, and only IF, you can handle this: Skeleton Lake by Angela Kulig Review.”

So, I think I will continue reading self-pubbed/Indie authors in hopes I find some real gems. But, I will probably stay away from authors like the aforementioned ones I’ve come across. I will also continue my HONEST review process in hopes of helping those who want to better their writing. Self-pubbed/Indie Authors can be a very good way of getting your name out there. Make your book the best it can be! As good as a traditional author does to get their foot in the door of an agent/publisher.

The stigma will always surround self-pubbed/Indie authors, for a long time to come. Get used it, but overcome it! Change the stigma one book at a time, one author at a time! Stop whining about it!

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Your Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on CapitalismYour Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on Capitalism by Joe Kernen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a parent with a child in the public school system, I found this a book a wonderful read. I’ve pretty much got a handle on the topics here but Joe Kernen breaks it down in a very easy to understand manner for any level. Blake’s questions and ideas are very thought-provoking and it really does show you just how a child’s brain works. As adults, we are trapped within our own mind and seldom think on a lower level. We take for granted our knowledge and sometimes expect our children to understand without question. This book really does open your eyes as to how the school system is teaching our children.

If you are unfamiliar with the topics, this book explains it on a level anyone can understand. If you are familiar with the topics, it is a great recap of them. The book is not condescending, nor is it “just another textbook”. Joe makes it real by throwing in his own conversations with his daughter. Parents can certainly empathize when reading.

I highly recommend this read to anyone who is sending their children to school–pre-k to college, it matters not. These questions will eventually come up sometime in your conversations with your children. It’s better to be prepared with the proper answers, not something you just guess at. Education is the key to success. It’s never too late to learn. Arm yourself with knowledge and make the world a better place.

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Skeleton Lake, by Angela Kulig — Review

Posted December 8, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

Skeleton Lake (Skeleton Lake, #1)Skeleton Lake by Angela Kulig
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

All the reviews I read made me want to read this book. I was so excited when I received my copy and couldn’t wait to read it.

From the first chapter, I was completely lost. I had no clue what was being said. Maybe this was deliberate since Marlow was “drowning”. So, I kept reading. The story began to work itself out over the next few chapters and I could see it more clearly.

The characters were not very deep. Even though the story was told through the eyes of Marlow, I just couldn’t get into her, deep into her, to really feel any emotion towards her. Each character presented only provided more complication to the reader’s ability to keep them straight. There was nothing discerning about the characters, nothing that made them want to be loved (or hated) by you. There were hints, don’t get me wrong. But there was nothing that went deeper. I felt as I was reading this, it was just being “told” to me.

The story has a great premise, overall. Although the book is an easy read and the chapters are short, I just couldn’t finish reading. I wanted to finish. I tried. But with the amount of grammatical errors, typos, clichés, and “telling, not showing”, I just couldn’t manage to finish. I got to Chapter 42. Maybe I will, one day, plow through the rest just so I know what happens.

Even though it’s a self-pubbed book, with a little work and a couple more revisions it could have been a great read! I just feel it wasn’t ready.

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The Doctor’s Lady – A Book Review

Posted November 9, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

The Doctor's LadyThe Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is amazing to know what God’s plan is for you. A lot of people do not know what God plans for them. They seek it their entire lives. But Priscilla White knew it from a very early age. Her only obstacle–the Mission Board. Vowed never to marry, Priscilla’s rejection to Mission in India comes with a caveat–should she marry, the Board would approve her as a missionary. Her solution walked in through the Church doors.

God called Eli Ernest to medical practice–not just any medical practice, but to those of the Nez Pierce out West. His scouting mission had been paid by the Church. But his second trip would be hindered by the Mission Board as well. Faced with the same dilemma as Priscilla White, their only option was to break their vows to not marry.

This story is deeper than the love that builds between the two. It is a trial of their faith. Priscilla joins Eli and another couple to minister to the Native Americans in the Western Country. Both Priscilla and her female travelling companion become the first women to travel to the Western Country that would become the Oregon Trail. It is a long and treacherous path, and Priscilla is determined to show both Eli and herself that she is strong enough to survive it. But can she? Riddled throughout this story is tension in love, in faith, in etiquette, and in physical security. You will not want to put it down.

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The Preacher’s Bride — A Book Review

Posted September 26, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

The Preacher's BrideThe Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was not my first time reading Historical Fiction. However it was my first read of Historical Christian Fiction. Skeptical at first, I didn’t quite understand the genre and half expected preaching to be involved. As I delved in, I quickly realized that this was not the case.

Pious Elizabeth Whitbread looked only to serve God and those in need, accepting what she thought was her lot in life. When God called upon her through the cry of a baby, Elizabeth put her life and marriage on hold and answered. Little did she realize that her path had now diverged.

Jon Costin, tinkerer by trade preacher by calling, never suspected God’s ulterior motives.

The Preacher’s Bride was a true example of God working through mysterious ways. Strong willed, quick to wit, and God serving characters perfectly matched from the beginning. Both struggled through the persecution of the Royalists and their own personal struggles with God. Their relationship between each other and with God grew throughout the entire book.

Jody Hedlund captured my heart in her first book with her perfectly executed writing. She took the true story of John Bunyan and wove her own of “the woman behind John Bunyan”. It was not preachy, it was not mushy. But it sure was moving! The reader got into the head of Elizabeth from the very first moment and felt the pull of emotions throughout.

I cannot wait to read her next book, The Doctor’s Lady.

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Far From You Review

Posted June 13, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

Far from YouFar from You by Lisa Schroeder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my third.
I’ve read reviews
I’ve heard people talk.
Some good.
Some bad.

But honestly,
I think this is by far
her best
of the three.

She said,
this is her least known.
I don’t know why.

It’s not really
about the story
as much as it is
about evoking
great emotion.
The characters aren’t
deep
but they do
grow.
The plot isn’t
thick
but keeps you
riveted.

I sat on my couch
reading the last of it,
tears streaming down my face,
emotion overflowed.

Her books are journeys
from negative
to positive.
A common thread
in all her works
is
Death is not
the end.

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Martini and More… Review

Posted June 7, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

Martini and More . . .Martini and More . . . by Randy Register

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of short stories in the everyday setting that anyone could appreciate. Ever wonder what a male thinks? Register gives delightful insight on the male perspective of love and loss in his collection. Definitely a nice read, especially on those lazy days during the summer months with a glass of tea in your other hand (or a Martini if you are so inclined).

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I Heart You, You Haunt Me Review

Posted May 31, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

I Heart You, You Haunt MeI Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read out of order
Chasing Brooklyn first.
No need to worry,
a companion book needs no back story.

Similar in many ways
of death
grief
a hint of haunting
a journey of healing.

I’m enjoying the novel in verse
enjoying Lisa Schroeder
but are all three books
similar in ways
of death
grief
a hint of haunting
a journey of healing?

We shall see
when I read her third
Far From You

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Chasing Brooklyn Review

Posted May 20, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

Chasing Brooklyn Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my first encounter
with a novel in verse.
It opened my eyes
to my own possibilities.

Beautiful words describing
grief
and how it’s different
for everyone.

Beautiful words describing
the journey
to overcome that
grief.

Beautiful words describing
a path to healing
and unexpected
love.

And now, the book complete,
I have my own stories
floating
flittering
forming
that must be written
I may just try
my own
novel
in
verse.

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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious HowlingThe Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My 8 year old son began reading this and lost interest rather quickly. When I picked it up to read it I could understand why. It is written in period language. I am not sure even a girl of the same age would find this an easy read. Maybe it’s the age. Maybe had my son been a bit older, say 10 or 12, it might have been more interesting. Aside from that, I really did enjoy the book.

I rather enjoyed the language of the book. The author did a very good job with the style of the period. It was proper, as any refined and educated girl would be expected to be.

The story is about a 15 year old girl who just graduated from Swanburne Academy. As governess, she quickly learns the truth about the “wild children” of Ashton Place and vows to treat them and educate them like children should be. She has a grand task ahead of her and shows just how exceptional a teacher she is by books end…but there is more to the story.

I knew from the beginning that this was a series of books, but did not realize that the story itself would not be finished in the first book. So, be warned, you may want to get the second and third book lined up for when you are done with the first!

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Stampede! — A Poetic Book Review

Posted April 1, 2011 By Jamie Dement (LadyJai)

Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of SchoolStampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School by Laura Purdie Salas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A children’s poetry book
about an entire school year
From start to finish
the allegories quite dear

where else could you see
children all around
running and playing
situations abound?

From stampeding elephants
to swarming like bees
the kids swoop like sparrows
and swing like monkeys

A whirlwind of laughter
to hearts ever breaking
eighteen poems you’ll remember
and keep your sides aching

Kids will see that
all their woes and fears
happen to everyone at some point
in their school careers

Adults will reminisce
of their school days past
brought vibrantly to life
the memories ever last

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