Growing Up Little

A woman exploring the world of BDSM and sharing what she discovers…

The Blogger’s Survival Guide – Book Review

 

The Blogger’s Survival Guide

Book Review By Growing Up Little

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My Rating:  3.5

Three and a half stars

My Review

If you are serious about creating a blog to generate income… this book is a great place to start.  It contains tons of information – in an easy to understand way, which is perfect for those that:

  • are thinking about starting their own blog
  • have recently dived into the blogging world and have lots of questions
  • have been blogging for a while and wonder if perhaps they can turn their hobby into a job Read the rest of this entry »
5 Comments »

Magic In Us – Book Review

Magic in Us

written by Natalie Tinti

Sewing-a-Friendship-2-Magic-In-Us-The%20Power-of-Friendship-www_natalietinti_com

My Rating:  unable to rate

MY REVIEW:

This book was written by Natalie Tinti, who was 10 years old at the time.  I can not assign a rating to this book for a few reasons.  Let me explain.

There were some things I really liked about Magic in Us, including:

  • before the story begins, each character is introduced by providing an illustration and information about each, including their age, family information, favourite food and colour, as well as each character’s “specialty”
  • I adored the creativity of Dogon (a dog), whose favourite food is listed as being cat food
  • the first chapter, in which Dogon delivers a letter to each of the four girls, is by far the strongest chapter
  • each character was unique and special in their own way, their differences were what made them special, an excellent lesson (or reminder) for readers of all ages

What really stood out for me and what I loved the most about Magic in Us, were the illustrations.  They are bright, vivid, creative and amazingly detailed.  Natalie Tinti is a very talented artist and her illustrations added a lot to the book.

However, if I was to consider the story itself and only the story… I would have to rate this book very low.  The story started out strong but quickly the creative magic I found in the first two chapters… faded.  Overall, the plot was incredibly weak.

I would not purchase this book for a child to read because of its story line…  I would purchase this book for a child to read because the 10-year-old author and illustrator encourages and inspires children to write and illustrate their own stories.  In addition, the author explains to readers the many wonderful things that writing can bring including:  improved spelling, enhanced reading skills, widened vocabulary and increased confidence.  Natalie invites other children to participate in her next project.  She is creating a collection of short stories entitled  From the Heart:  A Children’s Series Designed to Inspire:  Written By Children For Children.  She is encouraging other children to write and publish their own story, just like she did.  She is providing them an opportunity to submit their work, with the possibility of publication.

If you know a child who is interested in writing – this book is a perfect way to inspire and give them the confidence to do just that.  I have no doubt, that this book will get children writing and illustrating their own stories and if I was to rate Magic in Us, for that reason – I would award it 5+ stars.

Natalie’s heart is in the right place.  I have no doubt the world will continue to see wonderful things created by her and I hope that her ability to inspire her peers, will continue for a lifetime.  The world needs more people, just like her.

Who is Natalie Tinti?

Author:  Natalie Tinti

Author: Natalie Tinti

Author Bio:

At age thirteen Natalie Tinti is a multi-award winning author, illustrator, of 12 children’s books and an inspirational public speaker who promotes varied uplifting messages for her peers as well as their parents. Despite this early success as an artist Natalie was recommended to repeat Kindergarten as her teacher thought she didn’t have adequate language function and memory recall. However, this apparent set back would later serve as a valuable growth experience in her social awareness and desire to help her classmates. Natalie’s books gave her a platform for speaking at various venues where she promoted the empowerment of children to include: the value of social skills for overall happiness and as a tool in dealing with bullies, appreciating one’s unique talents and personality to bolster self-confidence, and challenging children of all ages to build friendships by having the courage to include others.

 

 

 

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Growing Up Little is proud to be an official reviewer on this Virtual Book Tour, presented by Reading Addiction Blog Tours.

 

Book Tour Schedule – See What Others Thought of Magic In Us

April 27 – Reading Addiction Blog Tours – Meet and Greet
April 28 – The Avid Reader – Guest Post
April 29 – My Reading Addiction – Interview
April 30 – Bunny’s Reviews – Interview
May 1 – Texas Book Nook – Review
May 2 – Books, Books, the Magical Fruit – Guest Post
May 4 – Book Reviews By Dee – Guest Post
May 6 – The Avid Reader – Giveaway
May 7 – Author Ever Leigh – Interview
May 8 – Growing Up Little – Review
May 9 – The Serial Reader – Guest Post
May 11 – Just Me, Myself, and I – Review
May 13 – Mythical Books – Guest Post
May 14 – Green Frog Reviews – Review
May 15 – Inside BJ’s Head – Giveaway
May 16 – Gimme the Scoop Reviews – Guest Post
May 17 – Books and Needlepoint – Giveaway
May 18 – My Devotional Thoughts – Interview
May 19 – Debbie Jean – Review
May 20 – Deal Sharing Aunt– Review
May 21 – Bianca2B – Giveaway
May 22 – Green Frog Children’s Book Reviews – Review
May 24 – Book Referees – Review/Interview
May 25 – RABT Reviews – Review
Leave a comment »

Most Memorable Lines From Jodi Arias Trial

As some of my readers will already know… I have been following the Jodi Arias trial. 

Here are my chosen top 13 memorable lines from the Jodi Arias trial:

1. Juan Martinez to Jodi Arias: “What were you going to do with the gun, ma’am? Throw it at him?” the prosecutor asked Jodi about why she’d taken a gun with her when she met with Travis.

Arias Trial Read the rest of this entry »

2 Comments »

Teaser Tuesday – Boundaries

Teaser Tuesday

Boundaries – Where You End And I Begin

Written by Anne Katherine, M.A.

BOundaries

Your life is yours.  You are the one accountable for your choices.  You bear the consequences of your decisions and your body bears the consequences of your decisions about it.

Teaser Tuesday 2

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read • Open to a random page • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

14 Comments »

The Sound of Loneliness – Official Book Review – WIN PRIZES!

 

The Sound of Loneliness – Book Review
By Craig Wallwork

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My Rating:  Four Stars ****

My Review

The main character of this book is Daniel Crabtree.  He is in his early 20’s and has recently moved out from his mother’s house, his father having died when he was 13 years old.  He is now living on his own, considers himself a struggling writer and living from some sort of government welfare.  He thinks that in order to become the great writer he believes himself to be, he must be subjected to great suffering.  In this way, he will obtain the tools needed to write his great masterpiece.  Suffering he seems to be willing to do but the actually writing… not so much.

Daniel Crabtree drives me crazy, which is why I ended up having a love/hate relationship with this book! 

Let me explain.

Picture from Miss Lexi Rose at worpress.com

First the love.

I adored the way the author described things.  The imagery used in this novel, is five-star quality for sure.  For example:

No matter what floor you arrived at, an old bicycle would be propped up against one of its walls, the front tyre missing or handlebars rusted.  A few of the residents hung window-baskets or mounted brackets for hanging baskets.  There were never any flowers in them.

This novel is FULL of gems like the one above.  His description of people, places and things, goes way beyond average.  For that alone, Craig Wallwork is one to watch. 

I loved the dark comedy woven through out this story.  An example is when Daniel enters into his cancer stricken Uncle Billy’s apartment to discover, what he thinks is his deceased body on the toilet.  His reaction:

My experience in dealing with the dead was at novice level.  I tried to remember films and television shows where the actor had stumbled upon a dead body to understand the correct procedure for such an event.  They used the phone to ring the police, and when the police arrived, the person who found the body was usually accused of killing the person.  I returned the receiver and sat on the couch to mull it all over.

Another example of this dark comedy was when Daniel’s son was born weak and with only half a stomach.  His reaction:

I couldn’t see the complications of having a baby that needed only half the food of other babies, and probably shat less too, but I had to accept their efforts in wanting to provide us with a fully formed child.

Many characters in The Sound of Loneliness, suffer from alcoholism.  The author describes alcoholism and its realities so vividly.  At times the author relieves the reader and numbs that reality down effectively, with his use of dark humour… but the deep sadness of it, still remains and exposes a necessary and accurate truth.  This is a difficult balance to achieve but Craig Wallwork does so quite gracefully.  He writes:

It struck me that most of the people who drank were just waiting for their end, seeing out the hours among those already dying…

 

Now the hate. 

By the end of the book, the main character made me nauseous with his way of avoiding responsibility for his own life and his own choices.  As a reader, I had hoped and had expected him to obtain some self-awareness or some maturity by the end of the novel.  It didn’t happen.  The character remained stagnant.  A true sense of himself, always out of reach and well beyond his reasonable grasp.  His fanciful dreams and wishful thinking was supported only by his ego and certainly not by any actions taken on his own part.

Daniel ‘inherits’ Emma, when his Uncle dies.  Emma is a beautifully compassionate and unselfish 15 year-old girl.  A girl who, a character like Daniel certainly needs in his life but in no way deserves.

Emma wanted to understand me, and I guess she wanted to understand love too.  Never had I wanted to sit with a person and talk about life and the silliness of it all more than I did with Emma.  I wanted to brush the hair from her eyes and articulate the mistakes maturity brings.  Wisdom does not come with age, only with experience.

The above quote (which is from Daniel’s perspective) is evidence of his self-delusion and his grandiose sense of self.  Daniel is 8 years older than Emma but she already has more wisdom, kindness, and compassion for others than he does or ever will.  The connection between Daniel and Emma, brings such hope to the reader that he will grow up because of her influence but he does not.  He allows their age difference to be an insurmountable obstacle and he abruptly ends their friendship with no true explanation to Emma, an impressionable, young and vulnerable girl.  The way that Daniel handles himself at the end of their friendship, is cruel and unforgivable.

Near the end of the book, Daniel returns to his home town, novel unwritten and all short stories he has actually written – rejected.  He considers himself to be a lowly workingman with a mortgage, a wife and child – something he never wanted.  Daniel expected better than that for himself.  He feels that he has failed and he is right.  Not because he is unpublished but because he can not appreciate himself, even see himself, as he is.  He rejects the people and the love that is available to him.  He is ungrateful, miserable and lonely and the only person or thing to blame, is himself.

As a reader, I can not forgive this character for being so unyielding, so depressing, so unaware of himself and so stuck. 

For this reason, I awarded The Sound of Loneliness, four stars, instead of five. 

So, there is your love and there is your hate.  I love the dark humour, the wonderful imagery and the brave, open raw style Craig Wallwork has and for those reasons – this book is well worth reading.  However, I hate that the author never allowed any real growth to happen in the dismal, stagnant, and truly selfish main character that he created.

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE CONTEST (info about how… can be found below)!

I would LOVE for one of my readers to WIN!

BEST OF LUCK!

 

My Favourite Quotes From The Sound Of Loneliness

And so my anger toward people became the one constant fire that burned within me.  (pg 9)

I find it hard to see how a person can place trust in the hands of God and Fate, when neither entity has provided for them in the past.  (pg 19)

It was true that the only suitcase never moved from the top of my parents’ wardrobe in the twenty-one years I lived there, its role more concerned in keeping my father’s porno magazines safely hidden from view than allowing recreation to sully its interior.  (pg 20)

In the infancy of life, the womb is more an ocean liner, gently rocked by shifting seas with access to the twenty-four-hour buffet.  (pg 63)

Sometimes a writer forgets where fiction ends and their life starts again.  (pg 72)

It seemed to me the only noticeable changes she ever made were the bed sheets.  (pg 107)

I am one of those men willing to make the same mistake over and over.  Not because I wish to experience the same anguish, but more that I can live in hope my luck will change.  It never did.  (pg 117)

Death has a weird effect on many people;  for me it made me compliant and agreeable without dispute.  (pg 120)

A female can be many things, but their candidness toward talking openly is a quality I have grown to appreciate.  (pg 153)

Having Death breathing down your neck really adds to the absurdity of life.  (pg 184)

Like me, he must have known loneliness allowed mistakes to be your own, risks undertaken of no consequence to anyone but yourself.  You live life freely that way.  (pg 202)

These are the solutions that mask the cracks in your heart, a life that allows you never to be dependent on anyone, or in turn, they dependent on you.  (pg 202)

For that reason I envied the path less travelled because it was paved with ideals and self-deluded pipedreams.  (pg 202)

 

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About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

Welcome to Novel Publicity’s first ever publishing house blog tour. Join us as three new titles from Perfect Edge–we’re calling them the Perfect Edge Trifecta–tour the blogosphere in a way that just can’t be ignored. And, hey, we’ve got prizes!

About the book:

Manchester in 1991 is a town suffering under the weight of high unemployment and massive government budgetary deficits that is plunging the UK into a recession.

To Daniel Crabtree, a struggling writer, it is the backcloth to his first novel, one that will see him become a famous published author. Living off mostly water and flour, Daniel has embraced penury into his life under the mistaken belief that many young artists have: one needs to suffer for success in art. But Daniel is a terrible writer. In the three years since signing on the dole, of every morning chastising his Irish singing neighbour for waking him from his sleep, and scrounging food from his close friend Henry Soperton, Daniel Crabtree has produced one short story. His heart is bereft of words as much as his pockets are of money.

The Sound of Loneliness is a story of love, and how a poor starving man chasing a dream came to the understanding that amidst the clamour of life, the sound of loneliness is the most deafening of all.

Pick up your copy of this Literary/ Urban Life/ Black Comedy through Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.

About the author:

Craig Wallwork lives in West Yorkshire, England. He is an artist, filmmaker and writer. His short stories have appeared in many publications in the US and the UK. He is the author of the short story collection Quintessence of Dust, and the novels To Die Upon a Kiss and The Sound of Loneliness. Craig is also the fiction editor at Menacing Hedge Magazine. Connect with Craig on his website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

Craig Wallwork

About the prizes:

Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of The Sound of Loneliness, or an autographed copy of one of its tour mates, Stranger Will by Caleb J Ross or Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez. Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Perfect Edge Books was founded in late 2011 to unite authors whose books weren’t “obviously” commercial. Our books tend to sit in various genres all at once: literary fiction, satire, neo-noir, sci-fi, experimental prose. We believe that literary doesn’t have to mean difficult, and that difficult doesn’t just mean pointless. We prefer to cultivate a word-of-mouth approach to marketing, and keep production as simple as we can. Learn more at www.PerfectEdgeBooks.com.

 

Learn more about The Sound of Loneliness‘s tour mates HERE.

 

 

8 Comments »

Angel Falls – Review – WIN PRIZES!

Angel Falls

by Michael Paul Gonzalez

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My Rating:  3 Stars ***

A note about my rating:

What does a 3 star rating mean to me?  Pretty good.  Not great but not bad.  I would recommend based on certain tastes.

My Review

Angel Falls is Hell, renamed appropriately by its caretaker Satan.  Angel Falls isn’t such a bad place to be, in fact it’s more like a vacation or a resort and has all the fun and entertainment there that you might want.  There are bars, theaters, restaurants, clubs… everything to keep those who aren’t too eager or interested in beginning their Long Walk.  After all, Satan isn’t such a bad guy, he’s just misunderstood.  He feels like he was tricked into the responsibilities of taking care of Angel Falls and as he puts it:

I’ll be damned if I do anything other than the minimum required of me, which is to watch over these poor lost souls.

It was difficult trying to review this book because there were both some true strengths to it, as well as some significant weaknesses, which is why my rating isn’t higher than it is.  At first, I was pretty impressed and enthused about where the plot was going.  I was enjoying the characters and really liked the author’s clever use of humour.  There were some fantastic one liners.  Occasionally I groaned and rolled my eyes but for the most part the humour hit the mark and made the reading quite enjoyable.

While there are obvious biblical references, I didn’t feel as though you had to be super religious in order to follow along and understand.  However, it is likely that a deeper understanding of the biblical references, would likely add a more meaningful layer into the story.  I do not consider myself ignorant to what is contained within the Bible but I am certainly no biblical scholar either.

Another enjoyable aspect of Angel Falls was how the author used widely known characters, and put his own unique spin on each of them.  Characters such as:

  • Satan
  • Goliath
  • Eve and Adam
  • Cain and Abel
  • St. Peter at the Gates of Heaven
  • The Boss (aka God)

Michael Paul Gonzalez took these well-known characters, stripped away their stereotypes and created alternate personalities for them.  In addition, he developed unique dynamics between those characters.  This created a lot of interest for the reader.

My favourite character in the book was Eve.  The way the author portrayed her was brilliant.  We first meet Eve working as a waitress at the ‘Garden of Eatin’, a popular restaurant in Angel Falls.  As the story progresses, the character of Eve has the opportunity to reveal herself.  Her need to be surrounded by living things, her love of nature, the way she communicated with nature, were some truly beautiful moments in an otherwise lighthearted novel.  For example, Eve commands the trees to provide a layer of warm leaves for Satan to spend the night on and the trees out of reverence for her do just that.  She is gently rocked to sleep high in the canopy of the forest, the trees cradling her like a newborn child.  The respect between both Eve and nature is obvious and these interactions are beautiful and memorable.

However, there were periods of time in the novel when the interest and enthusiasm started to fade for me. I felt like there were events that just weren’t necessary for moving the plot ahead and it made me want to skip pages to get back to the ‘real’ story.  It felt as though, there was a bit of ‘filler’ used to extend the story, when it really wasn’t necessary and that is frustrating to me as a reader.

There were times in the story when things simply got confusing.  Normally I may have gone back, re-read or tried again to make sense of what the author was talking about but there just wasn’t enough interest in it for me to do that.  A bad sign indeed.

Another thing I didn’t care too much for in this book… there were times when I thought the author was simply in poor taste. An example of that would be when a Chihuahua dies falling off of a bridge.  Shortly after, a character retrieves the dead dog carcass and ‘plays’ with it and makes it dance.  I simply don’t see the humor or value to this scene at all.

So in summary, this novel certainly won’t be added to any of my favourites lists but I might recommend it to a certain type of reader… I just don’t happen to be one of them.

 

Some of My Favourite Quotes From Angel Falls

“That was beautiful,” The Righteous whispered.  “And everything beautiful dies.  See?”  He held the dog pelt towards her.  “It’s done everything it was meant to do,” Eve said.  “It’s still amazing to behold.  And it has the potential to grow again.”  (pg 82)

“There are no such things as mistakes and innocent bystanders.  We are where we are and when we are at all times.”  (pg 87)

“The air was perfectly still around us, the very essence of time and the universe waiting for the balance to shift, for life to return to the giant or dissipate forever.”  (pg 92)

Now would have been a perfect time to faint.  Just take a few minutes off, let my system regroup, start all over again.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.  This is Hell, after all.  Even I must suffer for my sins.  (pg 95)

“Flesh is pain.  It’s the hardest truth I’ve discovered.”  (pg 136)

“You turned gay just to get out of Heaven?”  “When you put it that way, it sounds wrong.”  (pg 156)

“Why would you create a race of creatures only to watch them struggle and fail?  Why would He have me be the fount of the entire human race, and then deny me the right to guide my children?  He made me a soul mate and tore him away.  Why?”  (pg 163)

 

 

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

Welcome to Novel Publicity’s first ever publishing house blog tour. Join us as three new titles from Perfect Edge–we’re calling them the Perfect Edge Trifecta–tour the blogosphere in a way that just can’t be ignored. And, hey, we’ve got prizes!

 

About the book:

It’s been rough lately for the Lord of Darkness, with ex-girlfriend drama rearing its head at inconvenient moments, ancient gods returning to take over the universe, and Satan’s own unstoppable laziness. But whatever.

Satan is okay, and he thinks you’re okay, too. This whole eternal damnation thing is all a bit of a misunderstanding.

He runs Hell as a resort, kind of. A vacation spot. The point is, he’s not a bad guy. He’s trying to save Heaven and all of creation, and he only has a dimwitted giant, a surly waitress, and a monkey to help him. So, a thank you might be nice. Maybe buy him a cup of coffee next time you see him. And you will see him.

It’s the Apocalypse, and all that.

Pick up your copy of this Fantasy/ Satire through Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.

 

About the author:

Michael Paul Gonzalez lives and writes in Los Angeles. He is the editor at ThunderDomeMag.com, an online lit zine and small press. He is at work on his next novel as you read this. Seriously. He probably just rattled off a really amazing chapter, and someday you’ll read it and think back to this moment, and exhale. Connect with Michael on his website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

Author Michael Paul Gonzalez

Author Michael Paul Gonzalez

 

About the prizes:

Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of Angel Falls, or an autographed copy of one of its tour mates, The Sound of Loneliness by Craig Wallwork or Stranger Will by Caleb J Ross. Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Perfect Edge Books was founded in late 2011 to unite authors whose books weren’t “obviously” commercial. Our books tend to sit in various genres all at once: literary fiction, satire, neo-noir, sci-fi, experimental prose. We believe that literary doesn’t have to mean difficult, and that difficult doesn’t just mean pointless. We prefer to cultivate a word-of-mouth approach to marketing, and keep production as simple as we can. Learn more at www.PerfectEdgeBooks.com.

Learn more about Angel Falls‘s tour mates HERE.

6 Comments »

Crossing that line…

Safest Road To Hell…

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I recently read an article in Reader’s Digest about how our instincts can fail us.  The article described five different ways that our natural instincts can be harmful, even lethal.  They were described as:

  1. The Domino Effect
  2. Double or Nothing
  3. Situational Blindness
  4. Bending the Map
  5. Redlining

The one that provoked the most thought for me was redlining.  Two examples to illustrate what redlining is:

  1. A scuba diver sees an interesting wreck just beyond the limit of their dive tables.
  2. A mountain climber goes beyond their turnaround time, wanting to reach the summit.

When a situation requires a safety parameter, people will be tempted to overstep it.  It is very easy for a person to think, I’ll just go over the red line a little bit.  No big deal.  Of course, very often, a little bit becomes a little bit more and then just a little bit more and eventually you realize you have gone too far but by that time, it may already be too late.  You have ‘little bitted’ your way into that danger zone, the point of no return.

That’s the danger of crossing the red line.  Once you have crossed it, there may be no other cues to remind you that you are headed in the wrong direction.  There isn’t anything calling you back to the safe side.

This got me thinking.  How often have I ‘redlined’ myself into trouble or unhealthy situations?  How often have I sworn to myself… “just a little bit” and then later on, some time down the road, I turn back around, quite startled and ask myself;  “Whoa… wait a second, how the hell did I ever end up here?”

I’m not necessarily talking about crossing physical red lines or physical safety parameters (although that has also happened) but crossing my own bottom lines, allowing my boundaries to be crossed, allowing myself to cross my moral and ethical red lines.  It is the “just a little bit” thinking that leads me into real trouble.  I should take a step back from those red lines and realize that.  I need to be aware when I am tempted to redline and recognize the true danger I put myself in, if I do ultimately decide to cross it.  Lessons learned.

Photo by Philipp Christyakov

Photo by Philipp Christyakov

Above photo credited to:  filchist on flickr.

6 Comments »

Stranger Will – Book Review – Contest – WIN Prizes!

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One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card… so please remember to leave a comment on my blog for your chance to WIN!

Additional prizes (another $25 gift card and 3 autographed books also available via Rafflecopter, more info below).

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Stranger Will

by Caleb J. Ross

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My Rating:  Five Stars *****

My Review

If I could use just a few words to attempt to describe Stranger Will, I would choose:

  • UNIQUE
  • DARK
  • PHILOSOPHICAL
  • A-MUST-READ

Stranger Will was truly one of the best books I have read, in quite some time.  I don’t re-read books very often but this is one book in which I plan to do just that.  Why? Because there are SO many layers contained within this story, so many meanings, and so many things to think more about.  A second read, would be an opportunity to pull back some additional layers… layers you can’t help but to have missed the first read through and even then… I think it is quite likely that you would still not reach the ultimate core of Stranger Will.

The author Caleb J. Ross, is definitely unique with his style, yet at the same time, his writing reminds me of other great authors such as:

  • Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club, Survivor, and Choke)
  • Augusten Burroughs (author of Running With Scissors, Possible Side Effects, and Magical Thinking)
  • George Orwell (author of Animal Farm and 1984)

Caleb J. Ross has a way of telling an edgy, odd story, with a serious dark side.  He creates and brings to life, characters who you’d be afraid to know.

Stranger Will makes you think about those frustrating types of questions, those questions that don’t seem to have the black and white answers you so desperately crave for them to have.

The main character William, is an insecure, depressed and cynical character, whose job as a human remains removal specialist has contributed to his lack of enthusiasm he is exhibiting for his unborn child.  According to William…

He cleans the dead from the world and what’s one more child?  Just another body that someone will one day have to clean from the road.

and

“Just a parasite, Julie,” he takes a sip of coffee, cold but he keeps his face straight.  “Tapeworms, children, we could all use fewer of them.”

His fiancée Julie, seems to deal with William’s resistance to their fetus, which is already very well-established within her, by continuing to cross-stitch, shop for baby clothes, pick out names (one for a boy, one for a girl), sing lullabies and stay calm.  Julie clearly feels she is already a mother.  William on the other hand, continues to search for any solution in which they will not be the ones expected to give this child what little he believes that they can offer it.  Those that feel desperate for solutions, often come to their solutions in dangerous and immoral ways.

There were so many things that intrigued me about this novel, including…

  • William’s employment as a human remains removal specialist.  His job is to remove the ‘stains’ that human lives leave behind.
  • The personality contrast between William and his co-worker, Philip.   “Philip believes people deserve chances.  William believes that people are the exact reason chances don’t work.”  The dynamic between the two is riveting.
  • Mrs. Rose, the elementary school principal and the bizarre lessons she is teaching to not only her students but to many adults as well, including William.  Even more astounding, is her philosophy behind these lessons.  “Mrs. Rose has taught William many things, one of which is that the world is not worth fighting against.  The world knows what it is doing.”   and  “Mrs. Rose taught William that children are a second chance and that second chances are exactly what keep us from believing that we need only one.” 
  • Messenger pigeons and messages that are intercepted and how they can form their own story.
  • The different meaning, purpose and value that the individual characters have for life and where that ultimately brings each of them in the end.
  • The ability and need that some have to control and what that means.  How is that accomplished?  What is lost by those who are controlled?  What may be gained and what may be lost by a group that is under a method of organized control?  What is lost be the one doing the controlling?

If you are one who likes to ponder the meaning behind things – you will enjoy this book.

If you like dark, twisted, bizarre and sick characters – you will enjoy this book.

If you enjoy the writing style of Chuck Palahniuk, Augusten Burroughs or George Orwell – you will enjoy this book.

If you like a book that makes you think and then makes you think again – you will love this book.

I highly recommend Stranger Will to all adult readers.

I am very much looking forward to following Caleb  J. Ross’s writing career, for he is a noteworthy, significant and truly brilliant writer of our times. 

Some of My Favourite Quotes

William admires her will power, though he could do without her drive to use it against him.

When two strangers meet in the woods, they don’t pass by with a nod.  They don’t pretend something greater lies just ahead.  They smile at company and make room for a few words.

A body, a simple lump of blue skin, black hair, and features, sits molded to the corner.  Not a stain, not a mess, but a real human being.  Her eyes roll toward the light.  In a final stretch for good news, William turns to Philip and shrugs.  “At least most of her blood is still in her body.”

I’ve seen the desert our world has become, shredded with bullet holes in apartment buildings where nothing but filth exists.  I’ve cleaned it from walls with a toothbrush stolen from the deceased’s bathroom.  I’ve believed in a world with good intentions for too long.

“She also told William that people who use the word fascinating, usually aren’t.”

“Keep an animal locked up with nothing to do and eventually it will realize it is imprisoned.”

Though he’s known for days that these games teach survival, he sees now that these skills are not the school’s primary motive.  Where once he saw a small tiff, children being as children will be, he sees now a gang initiation, or extermination of the weak, not for survival but to prove dedication.  Where once a group of children might play rhyming games, clapping hands, smiles and chants, they now share blood via severed fingers and cut palms.

“What, I ask you, is less pleasurable to endure than permanence?”

“It might be years from now that these kids look back and realize that they’ve been controlled their entire lives, but it will happen.  They might hate me, you, and all the others, but they will understand control — they will realize their life.  It might take therapy, it might happen behind a giant oak desk in a corner office, but it will hit them, and they will have an entire childhood of proof.”

We live above defeated generations and search for all the ideas they must have missed.

William looks again, before the sun disappears, across his home, his life with Julie, and fits everything into graves.

She had been enduring his rants for months, staying strong to her familial ideal, and here was the end to what he had wanted all along:  his weak fiancée fighting up hills of dirt dug in search of her child.

…he has the power to steer outcome.  The trick is to keep anyone else from believing it.

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Please note:  I received a review copy of Stranger Will courtesy of Novel Publicity, in exchange for a written review with my honest thoughts, comments and opinions regarding this book.

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About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

Welcome to Novel Publicity’s first ever publishing house blog tour. Join us as three new titles from Perfect Edge–we’re calling them the Perfect Edge Trifecta–tour the blogosphere in a way that just can’t be ignored. And, hey, we’ve got prizes!

About the book:

The child he loves. The idea of a child, he’s beginning to understand, is where everything will go wrong.

William works as a human remains removal specialist, removing stains left by the dead. Whether by a bloody crime scene or a quiet domestic death, William is reminded each day of the frailty of human life. As his fiancée, Julie, nears term with their first child William becomes increasingly desperate for a way to overcome his belief that to birth is to kill. But Mrs. Rose, an elementary school principal and messenger pigeon hobbyist, nurtures William’s depressive outlook and claims to have a way to prove that William’s hesitancy to accept fatherhood is not only natural but necessary.

In this novel of impending fatherhood, an idealistic teacher recruits a pliant protégé to join her group of Strangers – a devout collection of kindred minds who have dedicated their lives to cultivating a unique idea of perfection.

But joining is easier than leaving.

Stranger Will explores the human urge to reproduce via one man’s struggle to understand his role as a father. As Rob Roberge, author of More than They Could Chew and Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life, says “This is an original—unlike anything you’ve ever read before.”

Pick up your copy of this Literary/ Psychological/ Horror through Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.

About the author:

Author Caleb J. Ross

Author Caleb J. Ross

Caleb J. Ross has a BA in English Literature and creative writing from Emporia State University. His fiction and nonfiction has appeared widely, both online and in print. He is the author of five books of fiction and is a core contributor to The BookTube Vidcast, a columnist at ManArchy Magazine, and is the creator of The Burning Books Channel, a YouTube channel featuring humorous book reviews, literary skits, writing advice, and rants. Connect with Caleb on his website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

About the prizes:

Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of Stranger Will, or an autographed copy of one of its tour mates, Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonazelz or The Sound of Loneliness by Craig Wallwork. Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Perfect Edge Books was founded in late 2011 to unite authors whose books weren’t “obviously” commercial. Our books tend to sit in various genres all at once: literary fiction, satire, neo-noir, sci-fi, experimental prose. We believe that literary doesn’t have to mean difficult, and that difficult doesn’t just mean pointless. We prefer to cultivate a word-of-mouth approach to marketing, and keep production as simple as we can. Learn more at www.PerfectEdgeBooks.com.

Learn more about Stranger Will‘s tour mates HERE.

 

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Musing Mondays – The Visible Man, Commentary

Musing Mondays – April 1st (no joke)

MusingMondays5

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits. • Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s). • What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!  • Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it. • Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us! • Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

Hosted By:  Should Be Reading

 

I have chosen to muse about:   

Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it so far; why you chose it; what you are (or aren’t) enjoying about it.

I have almost finished reading The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman.

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It has been an interesting read but as I am nearing the end, so very close to the very end… I am worried that I will ultimately be disappointed by it.  I am hopeful that the ending will ‘save’ this book for me and the next eleven pages will be the deciding factor!

I purchased this book from Chapters.  It was from their ‘bargain books’ section, I think I paid $7.99 (the original price, $28.99).  What sold me on it originally was the synopsis…

Austin, Texas, therapist Victoria Vick is contacted by a cryptic, unlikable man who insists his situation is unique and unfathomable.  As he slowly reveals himself, Vick becomes convinced that he suffers from a complex set of delusions:  Y___, as she refers to him, claims to be a scientist who has stolen cloaking technology from an aborted government project in order to render himself nearly invisible.  He says he uses this ability to observe random individuals within their daily lives, usually when they are alone and vulnerable.  Unsure of his motives or honesty, Vick becomes obsessed with her patient and the disclosure of his increasingly bizarre and disturbing tales.  Over time, it threatens her career, her marriage, and her own identity.

Interspersed with notes, correspondence, and transcriptions that catalog a relationship based on curiosity and fear, The Visible Man touches on all of Chuck Klosterman’s favorite themes–the consequence of culture, the influence of media, the complexity of voyeurism, and the existential contradiction of normalcy.  Is this comedy, criticism, or horror?  Not even Y___ seems to know for sure.

For me… the fact that there was a therapist as a main character, who was treating a patient for delusions and the fact that his delusions involved him being able to observe people in their daily lives, essentially being a voyeur, was enough for me to risk spending the $7.99.

I have always been fascinated about what it might be like, to have the ability to be invisible.  Imagine being able to watch and view human behaviour in its purest form.  It would be interesting to see the contrast between how a person behaves and presents oneself in public or even with one person in private and how that person actually is when they believe nobody is observing them and they are completely alone.

While the book did describe Y___’s experiences with viewing individuals without their knowledge, I still craved more.  He would sneak in to the person’s home, position himself where it would be unlikely he would be bumped into by the person he was observing (after all, he was invisible but still physically there) and he would simply watch, for varying amounts of time.  He would then, report these observations to his therapist, Vicky.  Vicky of course, does not believe he is actually making himself invisible and entering strangers homes, she believes it is a delusion, one she can of course help him with and treat.  Although, very strangely, Vicky allows Y___ to dictate the rules and boundaries of therapy in an unprofessional and ultimately unhealthy way.

I am very curious to see how this novel concludes.  It is quite possible, once I do, I will end up doing a review of the book, so be sure to check back later if you’re interested.  These last eleven pages will truly make or break this novel for me.  Time will tell!

Author:  Chuck Klosterman

Author: Chuck Klosterman

 

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The Persnickety Princess – Book Review – Win PRIZES!

The Persnickety Princess

by Falcon Storm

Persnickety

My Rating:  4 Stars ****

My Review

Please Note:  I received a copy of The Persnickety Princess – courtesy of Novel Publicity for the purposes of this review but all opinions are my own.

The first thing that I adored about this book… was the narrator named, Upon A. Time.  He is a heroic traveler who is arrested by two city guards (neither who seem very bright), for having been found dressed in the sheriff’s clothes, riding on the back of a pig and shouting out a limerick (which shouldn’t be repeated).  The opening scene, sets the stage for the humour and originality that soon follows.  As Upon A. Time begins telling the guards the story of the Persnickety Princess, the reader becomes quickly absorbed in the tale.

Although, The Persnickety Princess was intended for children aged 6-9 years old, I am sure many adults will get just as much enjoyment (perhaps even more) due to the humour, as well as the life lessons contained within the story line.  This is the type of book, you originally buy for your child but that you end up loving just as much as they do!  It’s for sure one of those rare win-win situations!

Princess Lavender (aka the Persnickety Princess) has waited unhappily in her self-designed castle for many, many years for that perfect, heroic Prince to come along and rescue her, the beautiful damsel-in-distress.  The Princess knows what type of Prince she wants – she very specifically knows what type of Prince she wants.  She is specific in the Prince she is waiting for, even down to the exact height he should be –  five foot eight and three-quarter inches tall – and nobody else will do.  Several Princes have tried but all have failed.  So there she remains, in her perfectly painted castle, discontent, irritable and confused about why her Prince, the right Prince, has not arrived to rescue her from her self-imposed prison.  How many single Princesses are sitting, waiting for that very specific type of Prince to come into their own lives, to save them?  Discontent, irritable, unhappy, yet there they sit waiting, in their own castles, dissatisfied and confused about how long it is taking for him to finally arrive!

The Persnickety Princess looks down upon her sister Petunia, who takes a very different view of how life should be lived and what having fun is all about.  Petunia is adventurous and certainly isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the process.  Princess Petunia isn’t sitting around waiting for some Prince to arrive and rescue her!  After all, she considers herself to be a self-rescuing Princess.  I think a lot of us can learn from Princess Petunia!  Self-rescuing Princess indeed!

Prince Hugo arrives at the castle, just as Princess Petunia is snatched up by a dragon.  Princess Lavender can not understand that Prince Hugo is not there to rescue her.  So while Hugo rushes off in pursuit of rescuing Petunia, Lavender finally decides she is tired of waiting within her castle and she is going to have to venture out and put herself in some serious danger, in order to be saved by her tardy Prince.  Of course, the underlying message for insightful adults is… many Princesses feel the need to be rescued by a handsome Prince, even though they may not be in any real danger at all or if they are, those same Princesses are fully capable of rescuing themselves!

Princess Lavender repeatedly puts herself in increasing amounts of danger, in the hopes of being rescued by Hugo, however, Dave keeps saving her from each dangerous situation!  How frustrating and inconvenient that is!  Dave is just a lowly squire, assumes Lavender, not the one destined to be with her at all!  Of course, the underlying message in this is, sometimes the person who is right for you, has been there all along but may not be the one you have your sights narrowed in on.  Princess Lavender can’t seem to see the forest for the trees!  How many of us, do the very same thing?

During her last and most dangerous rescue, Dave again saves her.  It is then revealed by Hugo that Dave is actually Prince Dave and that while he is shy and doesn’t talk much, he does believe that Princess Lavender is pretty.  It is then that Princess Lavender realizes all the time she has wasted waiting in her tower.  After asking Prince Dave his height, which is five foot eight and one-fourth inches, she claims that is close enough, she’s not picky.  Of course, as all true fairy tales end… Prince Dave and Princess Lavender end up marrying and living happily ever after.  Needless to say, in real life… that’s not usually how things end up but after all, this is a fairy tale and we all could do with a little dreaming and happy imagination at times!

The Epilogue explains what happens to the various characters afterwards, except for one, which leaves the opening for Book Two from Tales Upon A. Time.  Brilliant.  The concept of having Upon A. Time continue in Book Two, to tell the tale involving this character that needed a story of her own, is effective.  Due to the quality of The Persnickety Princess and the interest it created for me with its characters – I would purchase Book Two in the series which is due  for release September 24th, 2013.

I rated this book a solid four stars.  I like the moral of this story, the underlying humour running through out it and the well-developed characters that were so easy for me to picture in my imagination. I will love reading The Persnickety Princess to my niece.  Children need more stories in which the Princess learns NOT to wait around for some Prince to come rescue her, who learns that being a self-rescuing Princess is not only much more fun but much more empowering as well and that sometimes being Persnickety and being too picky about what one thinks she wants, ends up narrowing ones choices so much, that one may miss out on some pretty awesome things in the meantime.  Our children need more fairy tales just like this one and perhaps, even quite a few of us adults, need more stories just like this one too.

A Few of my Favourite Quotes From the Book

Petunia laughed so hard, she snorted. “You poor prince, I’m a self-rescuing princess. Didn’t I mention that? In fact, it looks like I just saved your bacon.”

Hugo stepped back and almost stumbled as he nervously kept an eye on the dragon. “Is it safe?” Petunia shrugged as she finished saddling the dragon. “Is anything ever really safe?”

You’re a terribly accident-prone princess. Seems you might need someone around to rescue you with fair regularity.

Lavender smiled and reflected on all the years she had wasted waiting in her tower. Only when she finally left had she had found herself a worthy prince.

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the book:  High up in the tallest tower of the purplest castle in the Kingdom by the Sea, Princess Lavender awaits rescue. Desperate as she may be, only the most dashing, well dressed, properly mannered prince will do. Oh, and he must stand exactly four and three-quarters inches taller than her. A princess has got to have standards, after all.

When, finally, one such prince comes to her castle—not to rescue her, but her younger sister—Lavender refuses to be ignored. Instead of waiting for the next suitor to come along, she devises a plan to put herself in danger, thus forcing the upstart prince to forget her sister and rescue her instead.

Well accustomed to getting her way, there is only one thing, unfortunately, that this princess can’t control—her luck. When her plans go awry, putting her in very real danger, will she allow the prince to rescue her as he sees fit? Will he even want to try?

And will anyone be able to find a way to rescue Lavender from her persnickety ways once and for all? Find out in this comedic tale of princes, dragons, and dreams that just may come true.

The Persnickety Princess is a lower grade chapter book intended for kids 6 to 9 years old (although kids of all ages are sure to enjoy it! Pick up your copy through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or Kobo Books.

About the author:

The Author

The Author – Falcon Storm

I was born in the frozen wasteland of Alaska with the unfortunate stigma of being both a daydreamer and left-handed. Starting from an early age, I’ve filled my life with stories of every sort from my father’s hunting trips to the Holy Trilogy (read: Star Wars). In the fourth grade, I became more interested in telling stories of my own than listening to those of others. Doctors—being doctors—attempted to medicate them out of me, but the best cure has always been a pen, a notebook, and my crazy, unrestrained imagination. I continue to whittle away at these stories in my endless search for the one that will finally bring me back to reality. All the while, I secretly hope such a story will never come along. I hear “reality” is far too boring. Connect with Falcon on his website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win (1) a $25 Amazon gift card, (2) a $50 Amazon gift card, or (3) a Princess Prize Pack, which includes a plush purple dragon, necklace with lavender pendant, The Fairy Godmother’s Guide to Being a Princess, tiara and wand party set, and a DVD of The Princess Bride.

Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the $50 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other two prizes (including the awesome Princess Prize Pack) will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Persnickety Princess tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

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