Lead by Kylie Scott

Lead (Stage Dive, #3)Lead by Kylie Scott

As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it’s booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.  

Lena’s not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It’s been a long time since I found a novel that has so much humour and sassy wit in it. This will keep your attention no matter what is going on around you. To the point that it might be dangerous:)

The main characters are both lovable in their own distinct ways. The dynamic between them is unmatchable. Never have I wanted to see something work out for two people so badly. I got a big kick out of the arguments and rough words between them and especially the way Lena put Jim in his place.

This is one of those books that you will find consumes you early on. The story flows well and the plot does things that you don’t fully expect. I had nothing but fun whilst reading this.

If you are a fan of edgy romances with characters that really are memorable, this is the book to choose. I’m looking forward to another book from Kylie Scott.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living by Paul Collins

Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called LivingEdgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living by Paul Collins

5 Stars

Looming large in the popular imagination as a serious poet and lively drunk who died in penury, Edgar Allan Poe was also the most celebrated and notorious writer of his day. He died broke and alone at the age of forty, but not before he had written some of the greatest works in the English language, from the chilling “The Tell-Tale Heart” to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”—the first modern detective story—to the iconic poem “The Raven.”

Poe’s life was one of unremitting hardship. His father abandoned the family, and his mother died when he was three. Poe was thrown out of West Point, and married his beloved thirteen-year-old cousin, who died of tuberculosis at twenty-four. He was so poor that he burned furniture to stay warm. He was a scourge to other poets, but more so to himself.

In the hands of Paul Collins, one of our liveliest historians, this mysteriously conflicted figure emerges as a genius both driven and undone by his artistic ambitions. Collins illuminates Poe’s huge successes and greatest flop (a 143-page prose poem titled Eureka), and even tracks down what may be Poe’s first published fiction, long hidden under an enigmatic byline. Clear-eyed and sympathetic, Edgar Allan Poe is a spellbinding story about the man once hailed as “the Shakespeare of America.”

 

My review:

 

As with other historical authors of note, there have been so many different biographies and books written about the life and times of Edgar Allan Poe. Yet, as I am a curious sort, I tend to read every one that I can get my hands on. Previously to this one, I found myself quite disappointed with the vast majority of them. Most of the time this was for two main reasons, which I shall note later in this review. This book delighted and surprised me.

This author took a different approach. Rather than treating this man as though he were a villain or a hero, he instead took a much appreciated far more neutral approach. In this particular book, Paul Collins did not treat Poe as if he were some rare anomaly, but rather discussed the hardships and high points of Poe’s life. I think this is the first work of non-fiction about Poe’ life that I actually felt like he was being portrayed as human in. No parlour tricks, no illusions that he was something dark and macabre to be feared. Just a man on a streak of bad luck and bad decisions.

I was impressed by the author’s meticulous research and that he seemed to hit most of the valid and important parts of Poe’s personal life and career from the beginning. Unlike many other biographies on the man, this book did not centrally focus on the publication of the Raven, nor the drinking habit which the author later became synonymous with. His actions are debated somewhat here and there, but are not put under a 21st century microscope of morality. I like it when the author can allow a story (especially in non-fiction) to tell itself with little interference in the way of the author’s personal interjections.

This is not a long book, but has more than just the simple, basic Poe info in it. If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe or just curious about a man who led an intriguing life of poverty and moderate success, then this would be a good book for you to choose.

Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Six Million Accusers: Catching Adolf Eichmann by D. Lawrence-Young

Six Million Accusers: Catching Adolf EichmannSix Million Accusers: Catching Adolf Eichmann by D. Lawrence-Young

“Six Million Accusers” is a historical novel reliving the hunt for, and capture of one of history’s most evil criminals – a leading Nazi named Adolf Eichmann.

Having disappeared after WWII, members of an Israeli organization search the world for Eichmann, hoping to one day capture one of the men responsible for brutally massacring millions of Jews, and others. Following any tip possible, eventually they discover a Jewish father and daughter who swear Eichmann quietly lives in their community, under a new name. The search for Eichmann ramps up, and the agents begin to fervently believe they have found their man.

As they get closer and closer, a plan must also be created to capture Eichmann, and secretly transport the villain back to Israel. Is it really Eichmann? And if so, what complications may arise that might destroy their plans to have this notorious Nazi held responsible for his crimes?

“Six Million Accusers” is based on historic detail, and David Lawrence- Young does an excellent job reliving the hunt for, and capture of Adolf Eichmann. Well written and easy to read, “Six Million Accusers” should be a staple of the educational discussion of WWII and the aftermath. –Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really don’t feel like I’m going to do this book justice by writing a review, but at the same time, it deserves a review. I usually will not award five stars to a historical fiction. I am almost always disappointed in them, no matter how much research was done before the book was written. This is a case where this book would get more than five stars if I were able to give it.

Nazi War criminals have been on the telly a lot lately. Through old black and white films and descriptions and accounts written by those who survived the terror, we have learned quite a bit. Still, I feel like most of the time, we watch these things on the History Channel or in films and we seem to be removed from the reality. We see the images and we know that it is not fiction, but never feel like it could happen to us. Those who went through it do not touch us on a deep, emotional level most of the time. That is where this book comes in. If you want to see the lives of people who wanted retribution for these heinous crimes up close, this book will give you that.

Yes, this is a fictional account, but I guarantee you that once you begin reading, you will forget. A lot of meticulous research went into this book. A lot of man hours of studying and learning about what actually happened make this an extraordinary read. This author also has a knack for story telling and character creation. I broke down more than once during this book, which is a rarity for me.

Although Eichmann’s name is displayed prominently in the title, this book is actually more about the dedicated group of people who came together to bring him to justice. The novel doesn’t focus as much on his reign of terror as it does the years after and the search to satisfy “six million accusers.” I thought the way this was written made it feel very personal and easy to relate to. The author did an extremely good job of filling in the voids in Eichmann’s history and making it believable.

What I came away with after reading this novel, was a sense of just how much it took to take this man down. He may not have looked like much, bookish, what today we might call a geek. He may not have felt guilt nor remorse for his actions–he was doing as ordered, by his own admission, but I came away from this book with a sense of awareness. There is darkness in this world. There are evil people who commit senseless acts of violence and genocide. Yet, there are people who will work tirelessly to make this world a better place. I think this author not only understands that, but it one of the good ones.

I would encourage anyone who has an interest in this subject to read this book. I loved it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

The Bookman’s TaleThe Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love

Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you truly love books, if you get excited at the sight of them, the feel of them, the way dusty old tomes smell, then this is the book you have been waiting for.

I was greatly impressed with this novel. Not only has Charlie Lovett managed to incorporate a love of rare books and a good deal of mystery into this novel, but he has also told of a beautiful and enduring love story. Reading this book, I thought of the man I love and adore and how we met. The way books drew these characters together, both in life and in death made me genuinely feel close to them.

This story spans multiple time periods, but does so with grace and precision. Both intriguing and heart warming, this book offered everything a book lover could want.

I was fascinated by the historical ties in this story and excited by each new discovery along the way. The way this author brought to life famous literary icons was not only believable, but thought provoking. His research was excellent, but it was the life–the fire and drive that he gave these characters that was so outstanding.

A lot of unexpected twists in the plot made for exciting reading, coupled with superb dialogue. This was a book that I didn’t want to put down and will happily place on my to be read again shelf.

Book lovers rejoice! This is one like no other.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the publisher as well as a quite complimentary Englishman who bought me the book whilst in London, merely a fabulous coincidence. Thank you, Julian.

A broken kind of beautiful

A Broken Kind of BeautifulA Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four-year-old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth — appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows — so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line — an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white

My rating:

4 of 5 stars

 

A beautiful kind of read.

This book deals with faith very well. There is no surprise or point when this suddenly shifts to a “god book.” Although some Christian novels seem to feel as if they are trying to push or persuade you, this book doesn’t do that. You know from the beginning that it is a Christian book, but the author leaves you free to come to your own conclusions about belief.

In the beginning I wasn’t all that excited about the main character. She came off as a selfish, spoiled brat with an agenda that seemed at first like it would prevent her from forming a real relationship with anyone. I am now certain this was intentional on the part of the author as it allowed for great character growth later in the story.

The relationship between the two main characters is the main focus of this story. There is a lot of tension and I thought the author did an excellent job of making the story line between the two of them both realistic and complicated.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was compelling enough to keep me turning pages and never dulled or hit boring spots. The love story is layered and interesting and the type that you are never quite sure will succeed until the end.

If you enjoy books where the characters feel very real and the issues at hand are things you can relate to, this would be a great choice.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Hell yes, I read: Inside the mind of a lifelong reader

This is the conclusion to the 2 part series on reading habits (or not reading, if you caught the first half.) Today we are joined by Pamela, from Year Round Thanksgiving

and Poetry by Pamela.

Pam reads more than anyone else I know, so I thought she would be perfect to provide contrast to our previous guest. She has some really interesting answers, so authors, if you are wondering what makes your book sell, have a read.

 

Ionia: Why do you read so much? There are so many forms of entertainment, but what makes you come back to books?

Pamela: I have always been a reader. I grew up loving books. One of my fondest memories as a very young child, was “running away from home”. My mom had made me do something I didn’t want to do (but I am sure now that it was something I should do) and so I announced that I was going to run away from home. Back then, suitcases were those hard sided ones. I proceeded to pack it full of my books to take with me. No clothes or toys, just books. And then I asked my mom is she would carry it for me so I could run away from home because I could only drag it as far as the end of the driveway.

I’m not really much of a television watcher. I do love movies in the theater, but if the movie is based on a book I’ve read, I’m nearly always disappointed. Books capture my imagination and feed my soul.

Ionia: When you do find a book you think you’d like to read, what is it that first captures your attention? What makes you pick that book rather than another?

Pamela: What better way to spend an afternoon than in a bookstore or library? I can browse for hours. I think that the cover of a book is the first impression. It doesn’t mean that is all I consider, but that is what draws me to look at it. From there, the genre and the book blurb have to captivate me. Of course, most of the indie books are not in the bookstores or libraries and I find those through some of the promotional sites, blogs, and word of mouth.

Ionia: How important are what other customers say about the book in reviews? Do you pay attention to star ratings and customer reviews?

Pamela: Of course I read YOUR reviews and have picked up several books because of that. I don’t generally read reviews of books on the sites where I’m purchasing a book. Reviews can be so skewed by the readers. I rely heavily on the book description. I don’t notice the star ratings as much either.

Ionia: Do you do most of your reading in paper format or digital and why?

Pamela: There was a time I would have answered this question with “I will NEVER read other than a paper book”. Then I bought a Nook. I was hooked from the beginning. I could carry dozens of books with me all the time. About that time I also noticed that I began reading more and more. I was already a voracious reader, but my Nook (Julio is what I named him) was so easy to carry with me everywhere…and I did. But then I realized that so many indie books were only available on the Kindle platform. So I bought a Kindle. They fit so easily into my purse or briefcase so I always have one of them with me. No more outdated boring magazines in waiting rooms. Plus, when I’m reading on my Kindle and fall asleep, it doesn’t (a) hit me in the head and (b) keeps my place. I still love to touch books, smell books, and hold paper books, but I prefer reading electronically.

Ionia: You’ve decided to read this book. What makes you say..never mind. Not for me, or do you ever give up before finishing?

Pamela: I don’t very often quit reading a book. I guess it is that hopeful nature I have that keeps me going. But I do have to say that if a book can’t capture my interest or attention in the first 25-50 pages, there is a strong chance that I may just give up. There are so many really good books to read that I don’t feel it is necessary to read a book that doesn’t hold my attention. There have been some very popular mainstream books that I just couldn’t get through. I’m trying to think of the name…I saw the movie and it was good, but the book just couldn’t keep my interest. Oh, I know, it was “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larrson. Everyone said after the first 100 pages, it got interesting. I just couldn’t wait and gave up. If it is an indie book and has obviously not been proofread or edited, there is also a good chance I will just put it aside too.

Ionia: Does it matter to you if the book was put out by a big publisher or an indie author or indie press? Does the name of the publisher have any influence on if you will take the risk and buy the book?

Pamela: I love indie authors. But I also love some really big name authors. I have noticed that some of the bigger names aren’t necessarily good books. There seems to be a tendency for their books to start feeling the same as their last one, even if they aren’t in a series. I want something that is original. My preferred genre is thriller/suspense/mystery and there seems to be a formula for those books. But character development and plot twists and turns still keep me reading. I realize that much of life is a pendulum. Right now my pendulum has swung toward the indie author/publisher. I throw in a mainstream mass market book from time to time though.

Ionia: Do you have any favourite categories that you do enjoy reading when you find a book that you enjoy?

Pamela: As I mentioned before I really enjoy the suspense/thriller/mystery books. But I have been branching out with genres. Historical Fiction is another favorite of mine. But I will read just about anything. I’m not a big fan of sci-fi though. Or romance. I avoid romance books most of the time. Isn’t that ironic? I write love poetry and yet I don’t like romance books. Hmmm maybe I should read more romance.

Ionia: Does price influence your buying decisions? Are you more likely to buy a less expensive book than a more expensive on or is it really about the content?

Pamela: I remember the days that I bought all of my books in hard cover…at $19.99 up to $29.99 each. So, purchasing a book that is $9.99 is still a bargain. I am not dissuaded from reading something on my Kindle by price generally. That being said, if I spend $10-$15 on a Kindle book and it isn’t well written or edited, I’m not happy. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see how much I spend on Amazon in the course of a year. I keep thinking how nice it would be to win one of those sweepstakes where the prize is $1000 at Amazon. Wouldn’t that be fun? As much as I enjoy reading, I also enjoy finding new books and buying them for my to-be-read queue.

Ionia: Will you buy a book just because it is part of a series? The hole in the shelf syndrome, if you will? Even if you don’t intend to read the books, will you buy based on having a partial series?

Pamela: Oh dear, someone told you about me, didn’t they? I have just enough OCD tendencies that I couldn’t possibly read books in a series out of order. And if I enjoyed the first one, I most certainly will buy every single one in the series…in order. But I also purchase books from authors, even those not in a series, so I will have them all. In fact, I have every Stephen King book he has published in hard cover copies. But I also have a lot of them for my Kindle. As I said earlier, I prefer reading on my Kindle so I want them to read in that format. But my bookshelf wouldn’t be complete without every single one of his books on it.

Ionia: Does sales rank have anything to do with purchasing decisions?

Pamela: What a great question. Until I published my own book, I had no idea about the sales ranking. Obviously then, it didn’t impact my purchasing decision at all. Even now that I know about the sales ranking, I rarely pay attention to it. I think it is the thing that the authors love (at least when the numbers are good), but from a reader standpoint, not so much.

Ionia: One final question: Where do you see the most advertising for books and have you ever bought based on an ad from that place?

Pamela: The only place I really notice book advertising is on blogs and through the multitude of “free and bargain book” sites. I subscribe to several of those and I find a lot of really good books that way. I may not buy them at the time, but I add them to my wish list.

Oh my, I just realized that we’ve been talking for a long time. I know you are busy and I’m sorry if I talked too much. But thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects.

Thank you so much for being here today and giving us some insight into the mind of someone who really loves literature!

Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Richard Brookhiser

Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham LincolnFounders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Richard Brookhiser

Abraham Lincoln grew up in the long shadow of the Founding Fathers. Seeking an intellectual and emotional replacement for his own taciturn father, Lincoln turned to the great men of the founding—Washington, Paine, Jefferson—and their great documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution—for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and purpose. Out of the power vacuum created by their passing, Lincoln emerged from among his peers as the true inheritor of the Founders’ mantle, bringing their vision to bear on the Civil War and the question of slavery.

In Founders’ Son, celebrated historian Richard Brookhiser presents a compelling new biography of Abraham Lincoln that highlights his lifelong struggle to carry on the work of the Founding Fathers. Following Lincoln from his humble origins in Kentucky to his assassination in Washington, D.C., Brookhiser shows us every side of the man: laborer, lawyer, congressman, president; storyteller, wit, lover of ribald jokes; depressive, poet, friend, visionary. And he shows that despite his many roles and his varied life, Lincoln returned time and time again to the Founders. They were rhetorical and political touchstones, the basis of his interest in politics, and the lodestars guiding him as he navigated first Illinois politics and then the national scene.

But their legacy with not sufficient. As the Civil War lengthened and the casualties mounted Lincoln wrestled with one more paternal figure—God the Father—to explain to himself, and to the nation, why ending slavery had come at such a terrible price.

Bridging the rich and tumultuous period from the founding of the United States to the Civil War, Founders’ Son is unlike any Lincoln biography to date. Penetrating in its insight, elegant in its prose, and gripping in its vivid recreation of Lincoln’s roving mind at work, this book allows us to think anew about the first hundred years of American history, and shows how we can, like Lincoln, apply the legacy of the Founding Fathers to our times.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Other books on Lincoln have noted his interest in the founding fathers and how he looked back to them, but here, for the first time, a historian of the founding looks ahead to Lincoln.”

And so he did. This is a truly excellent example of careful research and a desire to look at a much analysed life in a way that it has not been considered before.

I have read tons of Lincoln books. I know people say this about books a lot, but truly, I have been collecting them since childhood and I read everything I can find on the subject. Naturally, when there have been so many books written about one man, (if you want to see an example of this, check out the Lincoln Book Tower at Ford’s,)you are sure to run into information that has been documented before, albeit not always correctly. In such cases, it becomes important to the armchair researcher how the information is presented. This book took a different approach to telling the story of Lincoln from his youngest days to the end.

It was appealing to me to see a book that did not focus on the untimely death of the sixteenth president, but rather his life. His preoccupations with certain poets, George Washington and Lincoln’s propensity to suffer from melancholy and discontent with religious beliefs were focal points of this book instead. I felt while reading this, as though the author has made a great connection with history and was a reliable source for information as well as a talented wordsmith. This book does not have the drab, dull feel of a history book as many such titles do.

**My favourite thing about this book was the way the author approached giving facts. There was no point when I thought “well that was certainly subjective to your own interpretation.” So many Lincoln books have lost me for the author’s inability to keep their own opinions out of the way of the facts. Thank you, Mr. Brookhiser for giving it to us straight.

Getting to know Lincoln through his interests and the events and people who shaped him into the famous man we have all heard about was a nice approach for this book. If you are interested in Lincoln, the founding fathers or American history in general, this would be a great addition to your library.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Hell no I don’t read, but if I did…

There will be a part 2 for this series in a day or so with the same questions asked to a lifelong reader, just for comparison.
 
I have seen a lot of blogs poll readers or feature readers and ask them what they look for in a book. What do they want to see on the cover? What do they want to see in a title? Is there something that influences their buying decision one way or the other more so than other things?
 
I’m not here to do that.
 
Well, not exactly.
 
I, being the great (short) pioneer that I am…am going to ask pretty much the same exact questions, but to someone who doesn’t read, or at least not very often, anyway. I think getting an opinion from someone who doesn’t read much is an organic approach to this non-scientific method of questioning. I’d like to know what would make someone who doesn’t usually read much, be encouraged to buy a book and maybe even pick it up and open the cover. So here we go.
 
 
My guest today does a lot of different stuff and he is a good guy, so you all can’t give him too much guff for not reading. Well, you can, but I will not be held responsible. I have to give him credit for patience. He always listens to me ramble on about books, even when he doesn’t care what I’m talking about. I do the same to him when the 49ers play. blah blah something about a funny looking little ball that has nothing to do with a foot.
 
I am going to protect his identity from the hoards of angry people who think everyone should read.
 
Rather than his actual name, we are going to call him Jeremiah “that guy.”
 
So with out further ado, here is “That guy” and I having a bookish conversation.
 

Ionia: So, “that guy,” why don’t you read all that much? I know you have to read for work and you have to read for daily life, but why don’t you read more for pleasure?

TG: I don’t find books very often that pique my interest enough to read them, or at least not all the way through. I find something that might interest me occasionally, but then I tend to lose interest rather quickly. Sometimes the plot goes to sleep and so do I.

Ionia: When you do find a book you think you’d like to read, what is it that first captures your attention? What makes you pick that book rather than another?

TG: The first thing I look at is the title. It isn’t as much the cover as it is the title. The title has to be really interesting and make me want to pick it up. If the title seems boring, I won’t even bother. Secondly, I look at the size of the book. I might be feeling ambitious, but I know my concentration has limits, so if the book is enormous…uhm…Tom Clancy…if I can watch it in the movie a lot faster there is no hope for the book. Sorry readers. I do look at the cover, but it isn’t as important to me as the blurb and the one liner that tells what others thought. I might not buy a book solely on what those say, but I’d rather read a book with a boring white cover that has people saying good things than one with an awesome cover art that has no one saying anything.

Ionia: The title thing is interesting. There have actually been studies done on what happens if a poorly selling book gets a more exciting title. The results were kind of amazing. Some books that had been out for ages started selling to the top of the charts within a few days of the change. How important are what other customers say about the book in reviews? Do you pay attention to star ratings and customer reviews?

TG: If I’m buying online I do somewhat take into account the customer reviews. A lot of it depends on whether or not it is fiction or non fiction. Fiction is subjective. People may love one writing style and not another or they may be influenced by which POV the book was set in. With non fiction, especially if you are using the book to learn a new skill or for education purposes, I would pay more attention to the reviews. If, for instance I got a book about algebra and the other customers said it was confusing and unhelpful, I may look at another one instead. But with fiction, I pay little attention to the opinions of others. Sometimes it is the one star reviews that make me interested in a book though.

Ionia: I have to agree about the one star reviews. Plus, sometimes they point out things that the four and five star reviews don’t, such as which characters could have been improved, or plot holes. I hate those. Do you do most of your reading in paper format or digital and why?

TG: I have both, but I am somewhat old fashioned. I like paper books. I don’t ever have to worry about my battery dying in the middle of a hardcover. I do have to say though, reading a paper book in the dark is not very easy. It is easier to collect more books with a reader than with normal books and it takes a lot less effort to move them.

Ionia: I’m really amazed at your bravery for facing down this rabid audience of readers and writers. I appreciate the honesty here. Don’t look behind you. Charles, put down the mallet. John, it isn’t nice to make faces. Susan…never mind. Susan you can continue whatever it is you’re doing over there. What turns you off in a book, right away? Say you have gotten past the title, and the cover, and the blurb. You’ve decided to read this book. What makes you say..never mind. Not for me.

TG: If the author can captivate me and hold my attention (for fiction anyway) within the first 3-10 pages I will continue. I can handle a small boring spot, but if it is more than a few pages I lose focus and put the book down. If I like the direction and approach the author takes to writing and I can visualise the content, I am more likely to keep reading.

Ionia: Does it matter to you if the book was put out by a big publisher or an indie author or indie press? Does the name of the publisher have any influence on if you will take the risk and buy the book?

TG: It doesn’t matter. It is more about the content than who it came from or where. If you don’t write things that I find interesting, then I won’t pick up the book.

Ionia: Do you have any favourite categories that you do enjoy reading when you find a book that you enjoy?

TG: I like to read fantasy. As I am a highly visual reader, I love the descriptions and worlds in fantasy, but I will read other stuff if it is interesting.

Ionia: Does price influence your buying decisions? Are you more likely to buy a less expensive book than a more expensive on or is it really about the content?

TG: Price really doesn’t affect my decision. If I’m liking the above named things about the book, I’ll spend the money.

Ionia: Will you buy a book just because it is part of a series? The hole in the shelf syndrome, if you will? Even if you don’t intend to read the books, will you buy based on having a partial series?

TG: No. If the book doesn’t interest me and I have books 1, 2, 3, and 5, I won’t buy 4 just because I don’t have it.

Ionia: I think our wallets all envy your reserve.  Does sales rank have anything to do with purchasing decisions?

TG: Not at all. I can find a great book at a thrift shop or one that has a million plus sales ranking. It makes no difference to me as far as buying the book.

Ionia: One final question: Where do you see the most advertising for books and have you ever bought based on an ad from that place?

TG: I see the most advertising from Kindle, but I don’t necessarily buy based on those ads. They might encourage me to look at a book, or download a sample. It really is about the content and the overall impression I get of the book. A pretty cover doesn’t mean that it will be a great fit for me.

Ionia: Thank you so much for your time and for answering all these questions. Put down your torches and pitchforks people. He is doing all of us authors a service.

 

So what do you all think about what our guest had to say today? Do you agree or disagree? Authors, here’s your chance to give your hard earned two cents.

 
 

 

Mirror Interview #1 John Howell

photo-by-tim-burdick-copy

 

John: Hi Ionia I’m so glad to be able to sit with you for this interview.

 

Ionia:Urm, John could you hold on a moment. I need to make a basic introduction. John W. Howell has a blog he calls Fiction Favorites [http://johnwhowell.com] It’s there he holds court from a small barrier island off the southern Texas coast. He has published his first novel titled My GRL [http://www.amazon.com/My-GRL-John-W-Howell/dp/1625530595/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388558903&sr=1-1&keywords=My+GRL ]and has submitted the sequel to his publisher Martin Sisters Publishing. John completed a career in business and began writing full time when his youngest graduated from college. Now John you may go ahead.

John: Good thanks for that intro. Although it is all true it still sounds like a fantasy when it comes from your lips.

Ionia: How so.

John: First there is the lovely Kings English accent which could turn reading a McDonalds menu into a thing of beauty. Second the information sounds a bit odd when you think of it.

Ionia: Odd? How do you mean?

John: Think of some old coot busting his butt in a business career and then turning to a writing career. It sounds like an old coot has a self-destructive tendency.

Ionia: Perhaps it is not a destructive tendency, but more a productive tendency.

John: See when you say things they come out so well.

Ionia: Tell us then what made you decide to write a novel?

John: I tried to write about ten years ago and had to give it up. I was working full time and trying to write at night. It just didn’t work. My manuscript still sits holding the laundry room door open. I have to admit it was pretty bad. I quit the writing with a promise I would return when I could devote myself fully.

Ionia: So you published My GRL and have finished the sequel. What’s next?

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John: I have started the last of the trilogy and am about 20,000 words into it. The second book is titled His Revenge and pretty much describes how the protagonist John Cannon is worked over by Billionaire Matt Jacobs who wants retribution for John messing up his terrorist activities in My GRL. The last book is called Our Justice and details how John develops the evidence to put Matt away for a long time.

Ionia: So when do we get to read the second and third.

John: Good question. The release dates are determined by the publisher so I hope His Revenge will be out by year’s end and Our Justice in 2015.

Ionia: What about after these are done?

John: By the way forgive me. I brought a thermos filled with margaritas. Would you care for one and if not do you mind if I go ahead?

Ionia: Yes I would love one.

John: Here you are. Would you like some crisps as well?

Ionia: Um I think I will pass on the crisps. Have to watch my girlish figure.

John: If you want to go ahead with the crisps I’ll watch your figure for you.

Ionia: *laughs* Okay sounds like a deal. Now tell us what else you are working on?

John: I have a collection of short stories that I am editing right now. I think I’m going to publish these stories myself.

Ionia: Why don’t you submit them to Martin Sisters?

John: I really don’t think they will be of interest to them. The stories are somewhat different and cannot be categorized easily. Some are thriller type stories and some more literary. I would be very comfortable just calling them a collection and see what happens.

Ionia: I have heard your stories have a reoccurring character named Frank. Tell us about that.

John: Yes Frank shows up in almost all my short stories. Frank is a despicable character who is self-absorbed and, as a result, stumbles into the oddest circumstances. I can say right now, nothing ever goes well for Frank. He is a symbol and representative of all the nasty people who think they have the power over individuals simply because they are the boss in the work environment. Personally Frank is the fictional personification of a boss I once had.

Ionia: Sounds like you did not like him much.

John: The sad fact I liked him, but he took advantage of a friendship and cost me an immense amount of stress.

Ionia: Do you ever talk or see him?

John: No. Thank heaven. I never want to see him again. I have created a way to work off what could have become self-destructive hatred and it feels good when Frank is on the suffering end of the story. The beauty of the arrangement is there is no bloodshed and justice is served.

Ionia: I’m glad you found a way to turn something negative into a positive. How about free time. What do you do?

John: I read mostly. I have a TBR pile that would choke a horse. I also write short stories to relax.

Ionia: The last time we talked you were working on an old FJ 40 Toyota. Still doing that?

John: No. I found a young man who was crazy for her so I sold her. I simply didn’t have the time to continue my restoration project. The young man is a firefighter and has days in a row off. He will do her justice.

Ionia: it is almost time to wrap up. Any advice for writers?

John: Yup. Keep writing. Don’t listen to those who say you should do things a certain way. Those folks really don’t know what you are attempting to accomplish and are really giving advice from their point of view. Also don’t show your work to anyone until it is complete. The biggest barrier to finishing work is creeping self-doubt. Once somebody says something in your work sucks, it is almost impossible not to be affected. Best alternative is that someone tells you something sucks after it is done.

Ionia: Thank you John it was nice having you stop by. Thanks for the drink and crisps

John: My pleasure totally

 

 

* On a personal note, John Howell–You do a better job being me than I do. I’d like my voice to come out of your head more often.

On a second personal note, John Howell is one of the true blue. He is definitely one of the most dedicated and hard working authors I know. His first novel rather blew me away, and as far as people go, you just can’t find any better than him. Check out his work, or drop by and say hello to him at his blog. He will enrich your life just by knowing him. Thanks, John–for the interview and for making my life brighter.

Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories by Elizabeth hand

Saffron and Brimstone: Strange StoriesSaffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In keeping with my promise of honesty in reviews I will first disclose that I usually hate short stories. The lack of character development and the short and hurried plot points tend to kill it for me, so the fact that I made it through this at all, says something about my respect for this author’s abilities.

Now to review. Okay, the book is subtitled “Strange stories,” so I can’t say that I didn’t go into this prepared for what I found. The subtitle doesn’t lie. This is definitely an interesting collection of strange stories.

Whilst the book does indeed raise some unusual questions and provide the reader with a lot of what if scenarios, the stories to me felt incomplete and as if the author changed thought processes in the middle of them. I don’t think I walked away from any of these stories feeling like I really understood where she was trying to go with it. Perhaps that was intentional and I am simply reinforcing her intent.

I shall warn others, this book has some tough subject matter including abuse, sexual and otherwise. If that bothers you, then this might not be the best book for you. However, if you like stories that are definitely off the beaten path (not an intentional pun) then you will get a kick out of this collection. These are the kind of stories that make you lie awake wondering hat just happened and how you would deal with the ideas that the author brought forth.

I hate bugs. The first story is full of insects. This is a personal issue and nothing wrong with what the author wrote, but it did not endear me any closer to this book.

Overall, this was different and not something that I would read again, but I’m glad I had the experience. Need an ice-breaker at a lit convention? This book is the way to go.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Open Road Media and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.