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Charlotte's Web - Kate DiCamillo, E.B. White, Garth Williams

Read and reviewed on July 2nd.

 

I have quite a few review books to read, but I didn’t have any of them with me when I finished my last book on the train home from the city yesterday. But I did have this beautiful hardcover edition of Charlotte’s Web I picked up in a secondhand book store. If you’ve never felt sentimental about a pig, a spider and a rat (yes, I had a soft spot for Templeton!), then you should probably read Charlotte’s Web, no matter whether you are an adult, child or somewhere in between.

For that handful that don’t know the story, eight-year-old Fern Arable saves the life of the runt of a litter of pigs bred by her father. She names him Wilbur and instantly bonds with him. But when he gets too big, her father convinces her to sell him to her uncle, Mr. Zuckerman, who lives just down the road. Fern visits Wilbur every day, while he settles into his new home making friends with the sheep, the goose and gander, the rat Templeton and the spider Charlotte who lives in the doorway of his pen. It is a very happy life for Wilbur until he realises that Zuckerman plans to eat him. Charlotte promises him that she will find a way for him to survive the winter, and that is when the words ‘SOME PIG’ appear in her web.

A children’s classic, but enjoyed by readers of any age, Charlotte’s Web is a sweet tale, showing both the idyll of country life and also its harsh realities that country kids learn to accept. But one little girl’s love for her pig and the friendship of a spider gave Wilbur more chances than he would usually get. I challenge you not to feel something while reading this novel
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Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect - Diane  Daniels Manning

Thank you to the author for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

 

Almost Perfect is the heart-warming story of a retired dog breeder named Bess, her mildly autistic teenage neighbour Benny and two beautiful Standard Poodles named McCreery and Breaker. Bess Rutledge, seventy years old and proclaiming her days of dog breeding and showing are over, has one last litter of puppies by her also ageing champion dog McCreery. He could have been the one to win the big Westminster Dog Show, but Bess never took him that far. There is one puppy in the litter who looks just like his sire, and Bess is tempted to give dog showing one last shot before thinking better of it. Enter her young neighbour, Benny, hoping for a dog of his own. He thinks that if he can win dog shows with Breaker, McCreery’s progeny, his mostly absent mother may finally take notice of him. Two strong personalities are about to butt heads, and be forced to face their issues – with family, dogs and missed chances.

 

The premise and message of this book is really great – I appreciate the light shed on special needs children and that they can accomplish things in life the same as other children, they might just take another way to get there. This book promotes acceptance of people who are a little different to the outside world and I think that’s fantastic. It shows the work that a school like the New Hope School that Benny attends can do for children who need something different, and also the benefit of animals to children’s development and learning. Benny’s progress through this novel is in leaps and bounds once he starts to bond with both McCreery and Breaker and develops an interest in something new.

 

As an Animal Science major – and an all around animal lover – I could have really loved this book. However, it is the scientist in me that stopped that from happening completely. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but I also had some issues with it not everyone will notice. I am not a fan of anthropomorphizing animals, whether it be in fiction or everyday life, and frankly it makes me roll my eyes. From growing up with animals and also from my studies I can appreciate that they too experience emotions and quite possibly a high level of consciousness, but the overuse of human emotions as labels for dogs just irks me. There is a lot of that in this book, although this could also be attributed to how the characters perceive the dogs and their behaviour. I also found it hard to believe that a seasoned and accomplished dog breeder such as Bess would allow her dogs to eat so much table scraps!

 

As well as the anthropomorphizing, I also found multiple grammar and sentence structure issues that I found hard to ignore, mainly because I feel they could have been picked up during a thorough read-through by an editor. There were also interactions with other characters such as Steffie, a friend of Benny’s from the New Hope School, and events, such as the custody hearing, that could have been expanded upon but were rushed over, not given enough time or were told to the reader, as opposed to shown. Benny and Steffie are all of a sudden best friends, but how did a friendship between two misfits such as themselves develop? We only know they are best friends because Benny thinks it to himself, but I wouldn’t have come to this conclusion from their interactions alone, and I think I should have been able to tell. And from what we know about Benny, the custody hearing should have been a big deal, but it only got maybe a page of discussion. If they were glossed over to avoid taking the light off the main story, did they even need to be included?

 

My gripes aside, at the heart of this novel it is an enjoyable and touching story about the taking chances, opening up your heart and also the power of a dog’s love. It will make a nice read for any dog lover.

 

A stunning debut

Awakening Foster Kelly - Cara Rosalie Olsen

Thank you to the author for sending me this e-book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I was contacted regarding a review for this book. Tuesday night after my last exam I settled into bed, got comfortable and started to read. Four hours later, it was the middle of the night, the rest of the world was asleep, and I was enraptured. I couldn't put it down. Even though reading on a ten inch tablet can be frustrating, I didn't let this stop me as I powered through a good chunk of this 600+ page novel in one night. A couple of days later, when I reached the end, it was again the middle of the night and I lay awake for another hour, turning the whole thing over in my mind. I couldn't not think about it. What a book. I loved it. Not all the time, but overall I just adored it.

Foster Kelly is a senior at Shorecliffs High School, a musical genius who keeps to herself and has a penchant for tripping over her own feet. Her name has caused her quite a bit of grief over the years, and she prefers to keep to herself. On moving to Shorecliffs, she was befriended by the twins Emily and Jake, both full of life and fun. Still Foster keeps to the shadows of life, not wanting to bring attention to herself, much more an observer of high school life. Her life is brightened by her parents who she adores and the kids she cares for at the House of Hope. Her life changes the day she meets Dominic Kassells, who shakes up her quiet life. He challenges her and encourages her and gives her the push she needs to really start taking part in life. He also recognises how she needs to help herself - which was, to me, a very important realisation.

This book is about first love and the amazing things it can do, but it also about finding who you are and being true to all versions of yourself. Foster's slow progress through the novel, her confrontations with the half-truths she had been hiding behind, and her building confidence was heart warming to read. I felt like I was a part of Foster's journey. I smiled for her, was happy when things went right, my heart broke alongside hers, and then was amazed with the discovery toward the end of the novel. I laughed at her friends, Emily and Jake, who were brilliant characters. I cheered as she started to do things for herself. My heart melted as I watched her literally trip and fall in love. I felt protective of her, too. There were times when what I was reading would make me nervous and I wanted to shield her from the pangs that mistrust and heartbreak could bring. I felt like I knew her.

That being said, as much as I adored Foster and this book, I can recognise that this is not going to be for everyone. The plot development is slow, due to the fact that we read from Foster's perspective and everything she does is thoughtful, deliberate. She is not impulsive and does not make spontaneous decisions. Before she speaks, she gives every word a lot of thought. A single moment in time could be described over two pages. But this is necessary as it gives the reader an accurate picture of who Foster. Not everyone will understand, but to really understand the book you need to understand Foster. There were a few things that frustrated me, particularly to do with her budding relationship with Dominic, but the key word is patience. You need to patient to work through Foster's thoughts and to progress through the book. I would feel frustrated, like I needed answers more than Foster did, and because she didn't actively chase them, we didn't get them straight away. However, if you are patient, you will be rewarded. Everything makes sense in the end.

This is what kept me up so late, those light bulb moments coming on more and more as I got closer to the end. The wait is worth it when you get that 'oh, it all makes sense' moment of realisation. It kept me thinking about it long after I had finished reading. All my thoughts, feelings, ran around my head for an hour before I could sleep, and it's all I've though about all morning. This book has had quite an effect on me. A wonderful, wonderful read. I am buying a copy for my bookshelf because until I do, it will feel empty without it! A deserving five stars to a book that has given me a lot to think about.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) - Maya Van Wagenen

At first glance, it is easy to be mistaken about the contents of this book. A shallow young girl who just wants to be popular? Who wants to read about that? Luckily this book is so much more than that.

Popular is the memoir, yes I said memoir, of then-13-year-old Maya Van Wagenen, who finds a copy of Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Guide to Popularityfrom the 1950s in her father's study and decides to embark on a year-long social experiment where she follows the advice of Betty Cornell, teen model in the 1950s. This includes dramatically changing the way she walks, the way she dresses (the addition of a girdle!), experimenting with her hair and slowly drawing herself out of her shell to widen her circle of friends, something she never thought she would be able to do.

Maya's voice is fresh and honest, and it is heartwarming to read her journey as she learns what is most important on her quest for popularity. Her whole world opens up in an entirely different way when she steps out of her comfort zone and not only does she learn about herself, she also learns about her classmates and that, social ranking or not, they are really all the same. I admire Maya's bravery and I enjoyed the writing, and I look forward to what she does next.

A few quotes that stood out to me:

I'd always thought they were mean and judgmental, but I guess I was the one judging before I really got to know them.

Why is everyone so scared of one another?

Writing Clementine - Kate Gordon

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

Writing Clementine is the coming-of-age story of Clementine Darcy, who just doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. She's not interested in boys and fashion like her friends, and her family does not feel as whole as it did before. In a series of letters to her teacher for a class project, she explores what it's like to be herself when she doesn't know who she is.

I loved this. I absolutely loved this. I recognised so much of myself in Clementine's feelings and thoughts, where she feels distanced from her friends due to differing interests - although I never had a Fred or a steampunk society. But I saw much of my 14-year-old self's thoughts and feelings in Clementine's beautiful writing. I could never write as well as she, but I definitely tried! And I identified with this line in particular: I decided to take my lunch and my book and sit outside; let book-smell and sunbeams bring my humours back into balance - I have felt like this so many times!

Clementine's romance with Fred was sweet, if slightly unrealistic. They are only fourteen, after all! But I still enjoyed reading falling in love in an out of the ordinary way. Clementine's relationship with her family was intriguing and her 'fix-it' attitude is nice, and I enjoyed watching as she realises she can't fix everything and learning all those other things about growing up.

Writing Clementine is a well written, beautiful story and Clementine is a fantastic character. I really enjoyed this heartwarming story, watching Clementine try and fail and try yet again. She is never discouraged. I wish there were more girls like Clementine - you know what? There probably are. We should tell their stories more often.

Disruption

Disruption - Jessica Shirvington

I'd never read any of Jessica Shirvington's books before, but when I saw there would be a Melbourne book launch of Disruption I decided to go along and see what the fuss was about. I really enjoyed Jess' talk and while standing in line waiting to get my book signed, having finished the previous book I was reading, I read the first hundred pages (I was at the back of the line). So first thing that jumped out to me, this book is an eaay read and this is probably the only thing that didn't change from start to finish.

Maggie Stevens lives in a world where people find their perfect match through a microchip embedded in 'M-Bands'. 'M-Bands' can also be used detect the people who don't match well with anyone, the 'negs', who are thought to be the cause of crime and other bad things. Maggie has lost someone she loves to this technology, and she'll do anything to defy the system and get them back. 

The problem is, I found, that many people were lost to this technology, people that over the book Maggie comes into contact with, but she doesn't care about them. I admire her strength and her drive, and her want to do right. I just wish she wanted to do right by everyone who had been affected, rather than just her personal interest in the matter. I understand why she did a lot of the things that she did, but I think with what she was trying to achieve she could have done more had she widened her scope. Her selfishness in the end was her downfall.

I feel like I say this a lot, but I really wish that authors would stop focusing on the physical appearances of their characters. It always seems to be the good looking guy that everyone wants and the girl that doesn't know she's beautiful. It's so boring and I'm sick of it. And why are all the other girls bitches and why do they all want that one other guy? Seriously, he was nice but wasn't the only guy in the world! The romance was kinda nice but I also felt she let too much get in the way of her objective. As romance does, but come on. So much more at stake here!

Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading this book and I'm looking forward to the sequel, it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Room - Emma Donoghue

It didn't take me long to read this book. 24 hours. 1 day. But in that time I felt so utterly consumed by it I could think of nothing else. It made interacting with other people difficult because I couldn't explain how I was feeling, or why. It is haunting.

Jack just turned five years old. His entire world is contained in an eleven by eleven foot Room he lives in with his Ma. He knows nothing else, except for Old Nick who brings the groceries but he isn't allowed to see because Ma makes Jack stay in the wardrobe when Old Nick visits each night. Jack has no idea there is a whole wide world outside the Room.

This book is unputdownable but at the same time it can be hard to read. The subject matter is sensitive but Donoghue handles it with care, showing us how a life of confinement must feel for a child who doesn't know anything else. The world is a big and scary place at the best of times, let alone for a 5-year-old who never knew it existed. There is so much taken for granted everyday that Jack doesn't even understand. He is words- and numbers-smart but everything else he has to learn from scratch and he struggles to comprehend it with what he thinks he already knows. It is incredibly moving and at time's painful to read as he interprets the world around him and doesn't always like what he sees and wishes for the comfort of the Room he knew - something that hurts his Ma, who orchestrated their escape.

I know I shouldn't finish this review without mentioning the strength of Jack's Ma. I can't imagine how hard it would be to have the child of your rapist and I'm not going to pretend to. She did an incredible thing, raised her son to the best of her ability in her circumstances and then did everything she could to make sure he made it to 'the Outside', to give him the best chance she could. It wasn't too surprising that once she got outside she had a breakdown. She had endured for so long, what do you do once you break free of the person who kept you captive for so long? But I admire what she did for her child. I imagine Jack is what kept her going for all those years. All the pain and the suffering can be awful to read, but there is a sliver of hope present in the end, when Jack says his good-byes to his previous life, that makes you think everything will be okay in the end.

I don't know if me and Hemingway were ever meant to get along...

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

Oh, Hemingway. Is it you or is it me? I don't know why but I can't feel anything above mild acceptance that your novels are okay. Are you just not as good as you're cracked up to be, or do I just not understand your genius? And do I keep reading until I work it out?

Robert Jordan (not just Robert, never Robert, but Robert Jordan) is a Spanish teacher who has become involved in the Spanish Civil War as a dynamiter. He has to blow up a bridge with the help of a band of guerillas living in a cave somewhere in Spain. The world as he knows changes when he falls in love with Maria, who was adopted by the band after they blew up a train. 

First off, the dialogue was frustrating to read. With so many thous and thees and thys you would've thought you were reading Shakespearian but actually the translation of Spanish to English translates better that way than to modern English, apparently. The problem is, it doesn't fit with the rest of the narrative. I don't know how else to explain it except it doesn't fit. Just reads wrong. The other thing about the writing style is that while it is written in the third person, the reader spends a lot of time in Robert Jordan's head. Which is not always an exciting place to be as he often argues with himself and goes off on crazy tangents that don't always feel relevant or crucial to the story. It's hard to stay interested.

I struggled to get into the story mainly because it felt like the point, the blowing up of the bridge, was so far away and without it there was so little to keep the plot moving. I also found it hard to connect with the characters - none of them really did anything for me. I wasn't at all moved by this book until the very end. At the end the imagery of Robert Jordan lying on the ground with his leg at an unnatural angle and with his submachine gun pointed at Lieutenant Berrard was just so vivid and so real in the my mind - if the whole novel was more like the last page, my rating would have been very different.

World War Z

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks

If you've read my review of Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, you would know that my interest in zombie apocalypse fiction has been heightened thanks to The Walking Dead. Thanks to fantastic stories behind different fictional apocalypses, my reading interests in the genre have expanded. This inevitably led me to World War Z.

The 'history' of World War Z is told through a series of interviews and first-hand recounts of people who lived through ten years of zombie war, twelve years since VA Day. There are stories from throughout the world - nowhere was untouched by the devastation wrought by the living dead. I thought this was a unique way to present original fiction and slowly, before I knew it, I was reading it as if it was a nonfiction reflection of the war years - something that happened many years before and we should not forget.

The line between fact and fiction felt so blurred to me. It seems silly, I know. But the accounts given by those who lived through it were written with such conviction and of course, the human factor. All the mistakes and triumphs, the shock and grief, humanity bonding together against a common enemy, I'm not going to lie. I found it moving and heart warming, especially when in those final chapters we are given a few small glimpses of hope.

This book however still falls short of a 4 star read because after a while I missed the familiarity of a developing storyline and the presence of characters to get attached to. I enjoyed the anecdotes and varying perspectives on the war but I think there's a lot of potential for Brooks to expand into a series of novels set during World War Z as I find it a fantastic premise. Also a bit disappointed in the back of Australian representation (the one character interviewed in Sydney was actually in space for the whole war so I feel like he missed out) but I should be used to that by now!

Jasper Jones - Craig Silvey

When the cover of a book states it is "the Australian To Kill A Mockingbird" (The Monthly), you have to admit this is a pretty big call to make. It's enough to make you prick your ears up and make you doubt the book, all in the same breath. And while I usually dislike such comparisons, I have to agree this is pretty spot on, and I would have picked up the connection even if it didn't say so on the cover.

The similarities lie in the coming-of-age story, where our young protagonist is exposed to parts of the real world that they don't understand and question relentlessly. There is inner reflection, a love of books, older role models, a childhood best friend and people who have been wrongly accused and suffer in silence, the 'Boo Radleys' of the world, if I may. But Jasper Jones stands on its own merits too.

Silvey's lyrical prose takes the reader back to the 1950s and a small town in Western Australia, where we meet Charlie Bucktin. Thirteen, bookish, a Vietnamese best (and only) friend and a crush on Eliza Wishart. Enter Jasper Jones, tapping on Charlie's window in the middle of the night. Jasper is the town's outcast, a rebel, the kind of boy you don't want around your daughter. He has a devastating secret and he needs Charlie's help. This the summer where Charlie grows up and learns about life - the hard way.

It's so easy to write reviews about books when you don't like them. But when you love them - for me this has always been much harder. How can I convey properly all the emotion, all the angst, all the tension this book contained - and I contained in myself as I read it? A great book makes you feel things. I felt everything. I couldn't put it down as it hurtled towards the conclusion but I didn't want it to end, either. Silvey's writing is a joy to read, insightful and witty. Charlie and Jeffrey's back and forth was so amusing and such fun to read. His exchanges with Eliza were heart wrenching with the pangs of first, awkward love. The enigmatic Jasper didn't appear more than three or four times throughout the book but his presence was felt throughout. It was an interesting way to present such a character but I thought it was fitting.

Charlie learns a lot over that summer: dealing with bullies, the confrontations of racism, the injustices of the world, the heaviness of white lies and withholding the truth. He battles jealousy and the meaning of true friendship and loyalty, and deals with the disappointment of someone he loves, and watches a myth dispelled about someone who preferred to keep to himself. That summer changes everything for Charlie but change is in the town as well.

Craig Silvey is a true Australian gem of an author and I look forward to reading more of his work. Categorize this however you like, it is simply a really good book.

 

This review is also posted at Crash My Book Party. Check there for more reviews!

13: 24: A Story of Faith and Obsession - M Dolon Hickmon

Thank you to LibraryThing and the publishers, Rehoboam Press, for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

13:24 - A Story of Faith and Obsession is not for the faint of heart. It is gritty, presenting images to the reader that they will never want to see for themselves. It points fingers unashamedly. And reading it, you feel like it speaks a truth that has been covered up for some time, despite the fact that this particular story is fiction.

Chris is fourteen years old. He has just murdered his mother and her fiance. He's on the run, but he's not finished yet. He has a goal in mind. What seems like a tragic murder possibly caused by Chris' obsession with the dark heavy metal band Rehoboam (coincidentally shares the name with the publisher?) soon turns into something much more sinister, involving the band's frontman Josh, who is dealing with the ghosts of his fundamentalist upbringing.

This book involves a lot of heavy content and devastating, descriptive scenes that may be too much for some readers. But, as the author states in the 'Note on Accuracy and Inspirations' found in the front of the book, while these particular events are fiction, the abuse suffered by some children at the hands of their parents and encouraged by the church is real.

The book was fast-paced, a real page turner and mostly well written but did involve some clumsy or out-of-place phrasing, such as when a man who had been married for a number of years 'looked at his bride' - a phrase I would associate more with a couple just married. There were a few other examples that stood out as I was reading but nothing that really made me angry, as poor writing and editing will do. The characters of Chris and Josh were well developed and I sympathised with them and what they went through, all the while with this feeling in my gut that it couldn't end well for either of them. In my mind the book as a whole came across to me like a really good episode of Criminal Minds (which I adore) with the cases being more complex than just right-and-wrong and with the same 'can't-look-away' feeling, which translated to 'can't-put-it-down'.

Great storytelling, but not quite flawless. Still, 4 stars from me.

 

This review has also been posted at Crash My Book Party. Check there for more reviews!

Sigh. Why can't I keep track of all my book sites? When I spend more time on GR, BL gets forgotten about. And vice versa. And adding to that a LibraryThing account, trialling the new site Literally and updating my own blog - I may be in over my head!

 

I haven't posted in 2 months but it's nice to see some people forgot to unfollow me. Maybe I'll throw up a few reviews today :)

War and Peace

War and Peace - Lena Lencek, Joseph Frank, Constance Garnett, Leo Tolstoy

I would have loved to give War and Peace a 5 star rating. I was so close, too. But then we reached the 100-page epilogue and it was all downhill from there. Granted, I made it through more than 1250 pages before I started to consider the possibility of a DNF, but I had gotten that far and with good reason, so I thought I would see it out.

The cover of my edition has a quote from Simon Schama, whoever that may be: "It's a book that you don't just read, you live." I couldn't agree more. The first 100 pages were the hardest and at one point just about put me to sleep, but as I delved further and further into the lives of these Russian families in the midst of a hectic war that no one really knows why they're fighting, I just was absorbed into it all - the story, the history and most of all, the characters. There are a lot of them and to start with it can difficult to discern between your Rostovs and Denisovs and Dolokhovs, and the various Maryas and Annas and all the counts and princesses (honestly, is everyone in the Russian aristocracy some kind of royalty?) but once you read on you can narrow it down to who are the most central characters and who else is just there in the background.

Over the 1000 pages, I connected with the characters and felt invested in their lives and the relationships they made with each other. As they grew up, became men and women, went to war, dealt with the aftermath of losing loved ones. As they got married, tried to move on with their lives, made mistakes - I felt for them, I didn't hold back when I thought they were doing stupid things. When Nikolay Rostov was gambling, when Pierre married a woman he didn't love, when Andrey lost a wife he barely knew. When Natasha danced around from man to man, when Princess Marya endured the wrath of her horrible father, when Sonya sacrificed her happiness again. I was happy when they were, when they finally found the things in life that made it worth it, and I regretted not all of them could have known this. I lived their lives with them, over the three weeks I read this book.

War and Peace is more than just a novel of society families, and Tolstoy was adamant to insistent he didn't consider it a novel at all. It is also a testament that the 'great man' Napoleon was not so great, and Tolstoy is going to tell you why. In great detail. It was also a reflection of the questions people still ask themselves today "Why do we go to war?" "Why do we commit such terrible acts against our fellow human being?" "What is the point?" The characters often find themselves questioning all of these things and more. There was also quite a lot of tactical discussion which left me a little lost, however these were integrated into the overall story so I wasn't lost for too long.

Until, of course, that cursed epilogue. One hundred pages of epilogue, and only fifty (the first fifty) on the characters and how their lives turned out. The rest was - well, I'm not even sure. A long discussion on the subject of man and free will that to be honest, I just skimmed. I hadn't realized that the narrative was over until I was a few pages in and to me, the rest felt completely unnecessary in terms of the novel. It made it hard for the book to leave a good impression, as much as I had enjoyed it up until then. With so much invested, I wanted to finish it feeling something real, some positive or even a negative emotion due to the story, rather than the annoyance I felt when I realized the characters weren't going to be mentioned for the next 50 pages. And yet, I stuck with it and I saw it out, all the way to the end.

My advice to anyone reading this book for the narrative though: skip the second epilogue.

11

Eleven - James  Phelan

Third book into the series and I'm still intrigued where this is going. We got a little more detail in this one about the Professor, Jack and the Dreamers which was good - I actually like explanations for things like this! I want to understand why things are the way they are but in these books things have happened so quickly there hasn't been time for it. Sam locates another of the Last 13 - who has been there almost all along. I thought this may be a little too easy until I considered the "nature vs. nurture" argument that is discussed in the book and figured that in the circumstances, it does make sense.

Alex is starting to get on my nerves, and Eva seems to be in a bit of a mood because she's being told to stay put. Eva, there is a reason you don't go out climbing mountains by yourself in the middle of the night! Sigh. I hate stupid characters and as we now have the books from both of their perspectives now as well as Sam's I hope it improves!

The only other thing is I don't think any of the characters are emotionally mature enough for what they're doing, which definitely shows. I only hope their guidance under the Professor, Lora and Dr. Dark keeps them on the right track.

Damned if we do, damned if we don't

Dear authors:

 

Please quit trying to lay down the law regarding what reviewers should or should not do whilst reviewing.

 

Firstly because it's not your place:  you don't own or run the reviewing sites, so you don't get to make the rules.  More importantly, though, is the fact that there will never be a consensus among you.  I know that, because every time one author puts a rule forward, another author refutes it:

 

Some authors insist that it's unfair to write DNF reviews, while others mock readers who bother to finish a book they hate. 

 

Some authors complain about the lack of text in reviews, while others complain about reviews being too long.

 

Some authors demand constructive criticism, and others feel harassed when it's offered.

 

And really what all this haranguing over reviews amounts to is:  If a reader doesn't like your book, you want them to be quiet about it.  That's all.  That's the truth.  The rules are just excuses.  Possibly excuses you have told yourselves: 

 

  • If that person had read the whole book, I'm sure they would have given me a better rating. 
  • If that reader had stopped when they realized my book wasn't for them, they wouldn't have given me a bad rating. 
  • I don't mind negative reviews, so long as the reasons are well documented and thus refutable.
  • I don't mind negative reviews, except when they point out so many mistakes it's insulting.
  • I wouldn't mind negative reviews if they were constructive.
  • I don't mind negative reviews, but who is this reader to tell me what I could do to improve?

 

Not only is this behavior annoying to readers, but it's not a sustainable method for dealing with negative reviews, either.  Sooner or later, someone will say something in a review that you cannot pigeonhole and dismiss.  They'll point out something you can't deny. 

 

Rather than coming up with excuses for why the review is wrong, you need to be fine with negative reviews regardless.  They happen.  If you're happy with your writing, and you're making enough sales to be satisfied, then who cares what your reviews say?  But if you're not, then maybe the reviews could give you a clue as to why, and maybe you should pay attention, rather than closing your eyes and hoping they'll go away.

 

Not that reviews have to be constructive.  That's more a bonus than anything.  But that doesn't mean they can't provide insight into what you're doing wrong, just the same.

 

Think about it.  Please?  It's far easier to change what you are doing than to change what millions of readers might do. 

 

Thanks,

 

ThreeRs

12

12 - James Phelan

I don't love these books exactly and I am a little beyond the readership, but I feel like I'm committed now to the series and I may as well see it through. If the writing wasn't so immature I might like them more but honestly I fly through them so quickly it's not that bad of an issue.

The last time we saw Sam, he was face to face with Solaris fighting for his life. It's not much of a surprise that he manages to get away with the Star of Egypt and continue following the dream sequences which come to him as he sleeps. It has fallen to Sam to track down the rest of The Last 13 as they appear to him in his dreams, a journey that in this book sends him from New York to Egypt to Rome, escaping enemies and relying on the help of friends as he goes.

This book will appeal to young readers who don't like much 'filler' - a lot is happening quite quickly and it's all a bit go, go, go which is good I guess but I prefer a little more fleshing out in the books I read.

Still, onward! On to the next one.