collecting thoughts

Hello everyone:)

I’m working on a new project right now, and I was hoping you could all give me some input on a question I have been mulling over. When you read a book what do you want in a villain?

Do you want someone who is senselessly and inherently evil, or one that can be almost likable? Does your bad guy need a defined reason to do the things he does or can he just like being bad?

Can you form a connection and hate him or love to hate him if he has virtually no good qualities to redeem him?

I have been tossing around ideas and am really curious to see what you think.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think many of us went into reading Doctor Sleep with some form of trepidation. When the central focus of the original book is a hotel–and that hotel is nonexistent at the end of the book, how does one pick up where they left off and write a second book based on that original?

Well…apparently what you do in this case is build a new story off of scant memories and fill in the rest with very imaginative and yet ultimately pretty pointless paranormal characters.

Did I love this book? No!

Why?

For so many reasons. Here are a few:

The Shining scared the Hell clean out of me. I’m not going to get into the Kubrick Vs. King debate here as far as the movies go and the possible hidden meanings (think Room 237,) but I will say that the thing I loved about the original book, was that there was a fine balance of psychological terror and paranormal terror. I didn’t get that from Doctor Sleep. Really, the only time I felt like the book bordered on any kind of reality I could accept was when Dan was remembering the events of the Overlook and his childhood.

Rose the Hat. My, oh my. One of my pet peeves is when an author spends an entire book building up an evil character and then they die a pointless, silly death that never showcases all of the talents they have for being bad. I won’t include a spoiler here to say how or exactly why I feel as I do, but I definitely thought this was a case of “ran out of good ideas,” when it came to the end of her story.

Abra was a spoiled, self-appreciative brat. I want to love the main characters in the books I read, I think we all do. I loved Dan, but I suppose much of that probably came from the already established feelings I had for him. (He was such a little slugger in the first book.) Abra did not impress me much. She was supposed to be such a powerful kid, and yet most of the time she was featured hugging a cuddly toy and taking the advice of others. Had this been a movie, it would have been a situation where the audience members kept saying, “how dumb is this kid?” for getting herself into the situations she did.

I could go on, but I want this review to be balanced, so I will move on to the things I liked.

If I wasn’t looking at this as “The Shining part Two,” I might have felt differently about it. Still, it was an interesting book with a lot of very captivating ideas. I liked that Dan still had some psychic abilities even after he got older and that he was putting them to use in a helpful way.

Azreel the cat was a nice addition to this story and worked well with Dan’s talents.

Whilst I expected there to be more reference to the events in the original story, and was somewhat dismayed that there wasn’t, I appreciated that the grounds where the Overlook stood were used as an important part of this book. I never would have guessed how they were going to be reinvented, and I liked how Rose could sense the evil that lie there, beneath the surface.

The relationships Dan built throughout the course of Doctor Sleep reminded me that he was human and gave me a sense of nostalgia, particularly at the end, when he sees a certain specter.

Typical of Stephen King works, there is a healthy amount of telepathic ability between the characters. Although I found the paranormal aspects of this book more over the top than in the original novel, I also felt the “King vibe” that has been absent in some of the more recent works. His sense of humour and use of irony was ever-present in this book, and that was nice to see.

My overall opinion of Doctor sleep is this: If you are a big fan of Mr. King and in particular of the Shining, you will want to read this to satisfy your curiosity about what happened after the Overlook. You may love it or hate it or, like me, find yourself somewhere in between, but either way you should check it out.

As a standalone novel this might have earned a higher rating from me, but as a book in any way connected to one of the finest horror works in history (my opinion of course,) this did not in any way compare. The feeling of claustrophobic, psychological terror that made the Shining so frightening was absent in this book.

While there may have been 237 reasons to love this book, there were at least 217 reasons not to. It wasn’t the worst book ever, nor the best. 3 stars is my final opinion.

A discussion about poetry with Pamela

My good friend and fellow author Pamela Beckford has recently taken her first foray into the publishing world. Today we are going to sit down with her and talk a little bit about her experiences and the art of poetry itself. Please welcome her to Readful Things and take a moment to check out her sites:

http://poetrybypamela.wordpress.com/

http://pamela984.wordpress.com/

 

You have been experimenting lately with different forms of poetry. Are there some that are easier to work with than others? What has been your favourite so far?

Thank you for noticing the different forms I’ve been working with. I really have enjoyed learning about them and how to make them work. I think that many times the shorter poems (tanka, doidotsu, cinquain, etc) are more difficult than a longer poem. With the shorter ones, the choice of words to make the biggest impact and convey just exactly the right feeling, can be very challenging. My favorite form is whichever one I’m working with at the moment. I haven’t found any that I really don’t enjoy.

 

You write with such emotional depth, and yet you haven’t been writing anything public for very long. Was it scary to share your talent with others?

I haven’t been writing anything privately for long either. I think that poetry is so personal and I feel like I am sharing my inner most self. It makes me very vulnerable. I still struggle with sharing some of them and feeling like I’m good enough. If it hadn’t been for a couple of individuals encouraging me, I might still be keeping most of them in my head. But I find poetry to be a great outlet.

 

What do you find inspires your poetry?

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m really a romantic at heart. I put up a tough guy facade, but deep down, I want to love and be loved. I have a couple of muses as well that keep me inspired.

 

Tell us a bit about your first collection of published poetry and how we can find it.

I put together a short collection of poetry called Dreams of Love. It is available on Amazon as a download and also in paperback. It is only $.99 for Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Love-Poetry-Collection-Pamela-ebook/dp/B00I9H9K3Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1394495040&sr=1-1&keywords=dreams+of+love+a+poetry+collection

 

Any plans for further books?

I’m glad you asked. I collaborated with Kirsten on a book of nature poems, Voices of Nature. I love her poetry and we work really well together. http://www.amazon.com/Voices-Nature-Pamela-Beckford-ebook/dp/B00JCRWVJU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1396639061&sr=1-1&keywords=voices+of+nature

 

Any final thoughts/ ideas you would like to share?

First, I would like to thank you for spotlighting my poetry. Second, I would want everyone to know that all poetry is not alike. If you think Walt Whitman “Leaves of Grass” is what poetry is all about, you need to explore poetry a bit more. It comes from the depths of your soul and I hope that anyone who reads my poetry feels deeply.

Heaven

Come, my love
Surrender to my touch
Waves of desire bring raptured delight
As tenderness yields gently to deepest longing
Ecstasy insists we never part
Laying with you’s pure joy
Paradise

 

Thank you, Pamela, for agreeing to the interview and for being my guest author :)

The Inheritance by Elaine Jeremiah

The InheritanceThe Inheritance by Elaine Jeremiah

When Emma uses blackmail to force her father into giving her the inheritance owing to her early, it sets in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of her and her elder sister Kate forever. Although Emma and Kate have grown up on their father’s farm together, they each want two very different things. Emma is fed up with her boring, suffocating lifestyle and longs to break free. Kate by contrast is happy living and working for her father on the farm and can’t understand her sister’s urgency to leave.

With her inheritance, Emma is soon off to London with her wealthy friend Natalie. She begins to live a life of luxury whilst her sister Kate is left hard at work on the farm. But things are not all they seem. Before long Emma is finding that London life is not all roses, whilst Kate is forced to re-evaluate what it is she wants from life. And even though Kate and her father are living in the middle of nowhere, she discovers that a past relationship may pose a present danger to her.

ebook, 156 pages
Published August 27th
2013 by Elaine Jeremiah
The Inheritance
ASIN
B00ESLWOW4
edition language
English

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Score one for setting in this lovely book by Elaine Jeremiah. She did a beautiful job with her descriptions, making this book an easy one to fall into and not leave until the last page was read.

I enjoyed Kate’s story and the mystery that surrounded it, but I have to admit that my heart lie in Emma’s portion of this tale. The author did a brilliant job of blending the various story lines together and making this novel a joy to read. I particularly found myself fascinated by the story of Stephen. I could never quite figure out exactly what was happening with that part of the book until all was resolved. I like it when I can’t guess right.

This story begins after some startling and important events have already happened and offers the reader a chance to know well established characters that are both interesting and fully formed.

The dialogue is written well and the story has a nice pace that is not too rushed, yet not too slow either.

Overall this was an enjoyable book with a lot of excellent qualities to make me comfortable with recommending it. If you are looking for a charming book by a new author, this is one you should consider.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author, all opinions are my own.

Lincoln’s Boy’s by Joshua Zeitz

Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's ImageLincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image by Joshua Zeitz

 

A timely and intimate look into Abraham Lincoln’s White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidants

Lincoln’s official secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay enjoyed more access, witnessed more history, and knew Lincoln better than anyone outside of the president’s immediate family. Hay and Nicolay were the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They read poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union army setbacks, and plotted electoral strategy. They were present at every seminal event, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote about it after his death.

In their biography of Lincoln, Hay and Nicolay fought to establish Lincoln’s heroic legacy and to preserve a narrative that saw slavery—not states’ rights—as the sole cause of the Civil War. As Joshua Zeitz shows, the image of a humble man with uncommon intellect who rose from obscurity to become a storied wartime leader and emancipator is very much their creation.

Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs, Lincoln’s Boys is part political drama and part coming-of-age tale—a fascinating story of friendship, politics, war, and the contest over history and remembrance.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have great respect for this book, having just finished it and now feeling as though I understand things about the former president and those closest to him that I did not before.

It is not a secret that I am somewhat of a Lincoln freak, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I expected this book to be well organised and interesting. What I didn’t expect was the level of careful detail the author included about the lives of John Nicolay and John Hay. He was meticulous in his research and recounting of their lives, and yet this book was not just a string of boring facts.

Looking back into the past through the author’s words was an experience that I shall not soon forget. If you are a fan of historical non-fiction, his book will definitely be one you will want to add to your shelves.

It was fascinating to see where these two men came from and what happened before the careers that they became synonymous with. This book reminds you that even the most powerful and memorable people came from somewhere besides fame.

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

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The Winter King by Alys Clare

The Winter King: A Hawkenlye 13th Century British MysteryThe Winter King: A Hawkenlye 13th Century British Mystery by Alys Clare

All Saint’s Eve, 1211. An overweight but wealthy nobleman, desperate for an heir, dies at the celebration feast he’s thrown in his own hall. A natural death . . . or at the hands of his reluctant new wife?

Sabin de Gifford, an apothecary and healer of note, is called to examine the body, and concludes that he died of a spasm to the heart. But she is troubled, all the same, and beset by suspicions. Did the man really die of a heart attack? Or was something more sinister to blame?

There is only one person Sabin can turn to for help: fellow healer Meggie, daughter of Sir Josse d’Acquin. But what she requires of her is dangerous indeed . . .

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Winter King is one of my favourite historical books of the season. When I began reading this book, there was a little confusion for me since I came into it in the midst of a series, which I had not originally realised, but soon, the book made perfect sense without having to have read the previous.

There are so many things to love about this novel and the characters in it. First of all, the author stays true to the dialogue and speech patterns of her characters from the beginning to the end. Reading this is like getting the juicy secrets of an age gone by directly from the source.

Alys Clare is a pro at creating tense situations for her characters and making the reader do their own investigating and contemplating to figure out the mysteries at hand. She doesn’t reveal too much at once, ensuring that the excitement stays at the forefront of her reader’s mind.

I liked the way she portrayed the villains in this book as much as the way she made you trust and have faith in the heroes. Unlikely heroes are always my favourite anyway.

This book started out with some excitement and ended the same way.

If I had to choose one thing that I didn’t love as much about this novel, it would be the way that a lot of the action is recounted through the speech of the narrator and the various characters rather than being experienced first hand. This gave a somewhat blunted view of the happenings, in my opinion.

Still, I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to hearing the thoughts of others who read it. Recommended.

This review is based in a complimentary digital copy from Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

The Land of Honey by Chinenye Obiajulu

The Land of Honey by Chinenye Obiajulu

9781590951798- Front main (3)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Land of Honey by Chinenye Obiajulu, is a very emotionally deep novel about the bonds we form with those we love and the trials we face attempting to make a place for ourselves in this world.

I was impressed with this book early on for a multitude of reasons. The author does a good job explaining things that readers outside of the culture she describes may not recognise, and yet she never makes you feel as though you are being spoken down to. I appreciated that she took so much time introducing the character’s situations, but that she didn’t miss a beat when it came to unfolding the story at the same time.

Immigration is a tough and sensitive subject with many layers and opinions, so setting a book around the subject was a risky choice. I thought she handled it very well. This is a story that is both eye opening and heartfelt.

As the reader, you get to explore the emotions of the characters as well as experience the obstacles they face as the book moves along. The decisions they make throughout this book will make you stop and consider your own choices in life and how they have affected you and those you care for.

One very impressive thing about this author’s writing style is the way she allows her characters the ability to grow and change. You feel as if they have matured and become more aware of themselves by the finish. This, to me, is the sign of a talented author. Her characters are three dimensional and interesting.

This is a book that I think readers of literary fiction will love, and will want to share amongst those who are close to them. I recommend that you read it and see what you think.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

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Journey to Rainbow Island by Christie Hsiao

Journey to Rainbow IslandNew York Times Bestseller

Yu-ning thinks her perfect life on Rainbow Island will never end—until a nasty dragon called the Obsidigon returns from beyond the grave. Now her beloved island is in flames, her best friend has been kidnapped, and the island’s Sacred Crystals have been stolen. To make matters worse, she must venture into the dark corners of the world to uncover secrets best ignored, find a weapon thought long destroyed, and recapture seven sacred stones—without being burned to a crisp by a very angry dragon.

With the help of her master teacher, Metatron, Yu-ning embarks on a dangerous journey to overcome not only the darkness attacking her home, but also the scars of sadness that mark her own heart. And while most people just see a normal kid, Metatron—and a few other unlikely allies—pledge their lives to the dark-eyed little girl with a magic bow and a crooked grin.Journey to Rainbow Island by Christie Hsiao

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the beginning I was on the fence a bit about this book. There are some truly beautiful passages, even within the first couple of chapters, but I didn’t feel that I got to know much about the main character immediately. This prevented me from being able to care about her early on in the story.

As things went on, I found I was surprised by how lighthearted this story is. There is darkness to be fought, but the overall sense of love and peace and equality does not ever fully leave the reader. I thought this was a nice change, especially in fantasy.

This book is a difficult one to place in an age appropriate category. It seems too young and not complicated enough for many adult readers, but a bit longer and deals with deeper subjects than one would expect for a very young audience. I think it will depend on the maturity of the reader and their dedication to the act of reading to decide how they will feel about this work.

Here’s what I really liked:

This author has a strong talent for world building. Her land is filled with magic and wonderful description that puts the reader right there in the scene. She is also very creative and I liked the way she passed from subject to subject with a smooth flow of words and actions.

The book is never boring and the dialogue keeps the reader engaged and understanding the thought processes of the various characters.

There is a lot of emotion in this work and the views of the author on serenity, human relationships and peace are clear in her writing. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters and appreciated the time she spent in creating them. I would have liked to have seen more personal thoughts and history on the main character.

Would I recommend this book? Yes–to certain audiences as mentioned above. I would encourage parents to give this book a read with their children. There will be a lot to provoke discussion as you read.

Overall I thought this was a well-written work with many interesting factors. I like this author’s writing-style and look forward to more of her works.

This review is based on a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Dark Surrender by Erica Ridley

Dark SurrenderDark Surrender by Erica Ridley

TRAPPED IN DARKNESS . . .

Violet Whitechapel committed an unspeakable crime to save a child. To escape the hangman’s noose, she takes refuge in a crumbling abbey with secrets darker than her own. When its master offers her a temporary post, Violet cannot say no. Just as she begins to see him in a new light, her past catches up to her and endangers them all.

THEIR PASSION BURNS BRIGHT . . .

Alistair Waldegrave keeps his daughter imprisoned in the black heart of his Gothic abbey. As he searches for a cure to the disease the villagers call demonic, his new governess brings much needed light into their lives. But how can the passion between them survive the darkness encroaching from outside their sheltered walls?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Dark Surrender” by Erica Ridley is another fine example of this author’s ability to create stories that stay with the reader. Her books are atmospheric and ripe with chemistry and tension between her characters.

What first caught my attention about this novel was the way the characters were introduced using a bit of mystery and intrigue. I was immediately taken with the main character and the recalling of her past that began to emerge as the story progressed.

The dialogue was well handled in this novel, seeming appropriate for the setting and the tie period. The dark and Gothic feel of this book was not as strong as expected, but I thought it worked for the individual story.

I did contemplate whether or not the main character would have become taken with her mysterious love interest so soon when she’d previously been treated so unfairly by men, but in the end that didn’t make much difference to the overall story.

There were a few unexpected plot twists and a lot of tense moments that made for good reading. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a bit darker and more complex romance.

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

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Lost LakeLost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a novel about heartbroken people finding hope at a magical place in Georgia called Lost Lake.

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lost Lake is another emotional and family-driven read from author Sarah Addison Allen. When I first began reading this book, I didn’t really make an immediate connection. There were quite a few characters introduced early on in the story and I had trouble following who they were and what part they played in the story, but after a few chapters, I settled in to the book and began to see how everything worked.

One of the things that makes me return to read this author again is her ability to build strong bonds between her characters. You know when you read one of Sarah’s books that you will get a comprehensive picture of the main character’s life and their experiences. The friendships and family relationship she builds are so real and so physical that you can easily relate to them. I often thought during this “I’ve felt that way before,” or, “I know how that is.”

This book has lots of good humour and excellent quotes in it. The story kept pace well and by the end, I knew this was a book that I would buy in paper format to add to my collection of treasured books.

If you are looking for something wonderful to read, you can’t go wrong with Lost Lake.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher as part of the Shereads.org blogging network. All opinions are my own.

This is the Shereads.org monthly selection. To find out more about she reads and all the wonderful things they do for women’s literacy and the reading community, please check out this link: Shereads.org