Monday, March 2, 2015

Musing Mondays



Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What’s your favorite genre? Why?

I love horror novels, especially Gothic horror. Give me Dracula, or The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I am a happy, happy reader. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Showcase: Dare to Dream by Carys Jones











 I am so happy to be part of the Dare to Dream release day! Below you can find all the information about the book and the author. You can even see the exclusive book trailer.






About DARE TO DREAM: 
The world was going to end. Of that, Maggie Trafford was certain.
Fourteen-year-old Maggie Trafford leads a normal life. Well, as normal as being crammed in a three-bedroom house with four siblings and a single parent can be, anyway. But despite being somewhat ignored at home, Maggie excels, earning top grades, a best friend who would do anything for her, and stolen looks from a boy in Maths.
It’s not until the dreams start that Maggie realizes “normal” is the least of her problems. Every night, she lives the same nightmare—red lightning, shattered glass, destruction. But nightmares are just that, right? No one believes her when she says it’s an omen. At least, not until the already mysterious pillars of Stonehenge start falling.
No longer alone in her fear, Maggie and the world watch with bated breath as one after another, the historic stones tumble, like a clock counting down. But only Maggie knows what it means: when the last stone falls, destruction will reign. And when the world ends, there’s only one option left—survive.
Horrifying and raw, Dare to Dream is equal parts tragedy and hope, detailing the aftermath of apocalyptic catastrophe, the quest for survival, and the importance of belief.

About Carys Jones:
Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader's imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

When she's not writing, Carys likes to indulge her inner geek by watching science-fiction films or playing video games.

She lists John Green, Jodi Picoult and Virginia Andrews as her favorite authors and draws inspiration for her own work from anything and everything.

To Carys, there is no greater feeling then when you lose yourself in a great story and it is that feeling of ultimate escapism which she tries to bring to her books.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Japan by Vasudev Murthy



Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan It's 1893. King Kamehameha III of Hawaii declares Sovereignty Restoration Day ... Tension grows between China and Japan over Korea ... The Bengal Famine worsens ... A brilliant scientist in Calcutta challenges the system … The senior priest at Kyoto's Kinkaku-ji temple is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Dr John H. Watson receives a strange letter from Yokohama. Then the quiet, distinguished Mr. Hashimoto is murdered inside a closed room on a voyage from Liverpool to Bombay.

In the opium dens of Shanghai and in the back alleys of Tokyo, sinister men hatch evil plots. Professor Moriarty stalks the world, drawing up a map for worldwide dominion. Only one man can outwit the diabolical Professor Moriarty. Only one man can save the world. Has Sherlock Holmes survived the Reichenbach Falls?

Writing a new novel starring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson can either be a fun homage to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or it can be a painful game of imitation that leaves readers cringing. This was the latter. 

For one thing, the timeline where this story is supposed to happen makes absolutely no sense. The plot takes place within those three years where Holmes was considered to be dead after fighting with Professor Moriarty, but it allows Watson and Holmes to meet again before the canonical meeting in “The Empty House”. Considering how surprised Watson is in the original Doyle story of their reunion, this add-on leaves readers scratching their head. If Watson already knew he was alive because of this fanfiction passing as a novel, then why would he be so shocked in Doyle’s story?
That blatant disregard for canon is not the worst thing that this novel has to offer, unfortunately. 

There are endless pages of exposition explaining how Holmes survived, which are laughably unrealistic. There is the fact that now apparently Moriarty survived Reichenbach, as well, making that entire Doyle story pointless. There are also ridiculous suggestions at Holmes’ interest in philosophy of any sort, including vegetarianism. Most of the characters, apart from Watson, speak like Holmes, including one man who uses the same detection skills as the famous detective. There are the mind-numbing travelogue pages that boil down to “we got on a train, we got off a train.” I could go on and on about the faults this book has to offer, but the worst one, the one that made me push the novel aside time and time again is that it was boring. I have never found a Sherlock Holmes story boring, not even the ones written towards the end of Conan Doyle’s patience with the character. The characters were pale copies of the originals and the plot was laughable. Although the book is marketed as seriocomic, it is neither serious nor comedic. Just dull.  

This is not a good Sherlock Holmes story, as you have probably deduced by now, pun intended. Stick to the originals or to the ones approved by the Doyle estate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Irritable Hearts by Mac McClelland



“No one says that unresolved trauma can kill you. If anyone did, maybe people would take it more seriously. Serious as cancer."

Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love StoryPTSD is an insidious disease, one that crawls into every crevice of the sufferer’s body and mind, spreading its fear and darkness even to the happiest of moments, and this is what McClelland’s new memoir Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story captures so well. 

As a journalist, Mac McClelland has traveled to the most war torn regions of the world, but nothing could have prepared her for Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2010 after the earthquake that left more than three million people homeless. She arrives in Haiti to find people living in tents made out of tarps and wooden poles that threaten to collapse in a mudslide with every rainfall. It is not destitution or hunger or sickness that has the population living in fear, however: it is rape. Violence against women, specifically rape, has always been higher in Haiti than in most other countries in the world, with an average of 50 women raped a day, according to one of the sources McClelland interviewed during her time in the country. After the earthquake, this number hiked up exponentially, with men cutting through the makeshift tents and stealing women right from their refugee homes. They were raped for food, for shelter, for anything that they required, and many did not survive the experience. In a city facing such destruction, the police was inefficient at best, and at worst, corrupt. Even Haitian doctors turned their backs on these assaulted women, blaming them for the violence or shrugging it off as part of life. 

It is while setting out to interview sources for her story that McClelland sees “it.” We do not know what “it” is, since she does not gives a description. All we know is that she witnesses something related to rape happening in a vehicle and a group of men. This image along with its accompanying scream, is what latches on to her like a tick, drawing all vitality and equanimity from her. 

No matter how many times we read about PTSD, there is a classic image in our heads about what suffering from this debilitating disorder means. A soldier just returned from war with anger issues, depression, and hallucinations. The reasons we have this notion about what the disorder looks like is because the majority of cases we have heard about are those related to soldiers. Reading about McClelland’s experience, however, allows us to put a different face on the disease. Nothing happened to her directly, yet she is struck down, her mind crystallizing and shattering after witnessing trauma.
The memoir speaks to the nature of trauma. It splits damage open to show us the underbelly of our minds and bodies, the way we can all too easily break apart. It speaks of what it means to be a victim versus being victimized with all its subtle but important distinctions. It shows that there is no magic cure or special button that can erase damage done to our minds, but instead that it is a steep struggle to sure footing once again. But, however, McClelland’s memoir tells us that it is possible to do.
Since her own mind was so disjointed at the time of her PTSD, it is no surprise that the memoir has its rough patches. There are some head-cockingly strange transitions that could require a seconds reading, and although the book calls itself a love story, this aspect of it is its weakest. We do not get a strong foundation of the relationship between Nico and Mac, so it is difficult to understand the strength of that relationship or what it means to the author as the narrative progresses. 

Ultimately, Mac McClelland presents a fearlessly raw look at what PTSD is. She is honest about every aspect of the disorder, from its inception and all the way down the long road to recovery. Acute narration and powerful insights into what it means to be helpless make this memoir one to read.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Legion by by William Peter Blatty

 LegionOne by one the bizarre murders frustrate and torment Lt. Kinderman , the homicide detective from "The Exorcist". — A boy, crucified;A priest, decapitated; another priest slain;a nurse,slaughtered — All bear the Zodiac mark of the Gemini Killer. — BUT ... the Gemini Killer has been dead for 12 years! — Lt. Kinderman stalks the brutal and elusive killer down the dark streets. Until ,finally, in desperation he dares to cross the boundary that seperates the living from the dead.

This novel was written by the same author as The Exorcist, which guaranteed a great read. It was…just not in the way I expected.
What surprised me most about the novel was that it dealt quite a bit with the nature of good and evil in a philosophical sense. I expected something more like The Exorcist, but this one was an entirely different take on what it means to come face to face with evil. The protagonist, Kinderman, is the same detective as the one in The Exorcist, and even Father Karras makes an appearance (though I won’t tell you how). This ties the novels together which made it very entertaining to read.
What I did expect and didn’t really receive was a fright. The author is so well known for his previous novel, that I truly wanted to be scared, to feel the same atmospheric horror that he did so well in The Exorcist. This one dealt more with the philosophical aspect of what goes bump in the night, so it was, as is expected, slower paced, though quite entertaining.
I do recommend this novel, but be prepared for an unexpected tone and writing style.

    

Monday, February 2, 2015

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What do you think about re-purposing old books (eg. into art journals, etc)? Why?

I have no problems with re-purposing old books, though I don't ever do it. My sister is an artist, so I've seen her change books into all manner of art journals and they look very cool.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

EchoMusic, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Lost and alone a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. 




Middle grade books are tricky to write. The author has to balance between being overly adult-like in tone and being too cutesy for its intended audience. This book began with promise in that respect, but lost its way somewhere close to the end. 

The best part about this novel is the beginning story, with Friedrich in Germany as the Nazis are taking over. This section is balanced perfectly, bringing serious mentions of the Nazi movement while still managing to keep it at middle grade levels. The pacing was wonderful and it never got overly sweet. The second part, with Mike and his brother, was not as well done, with many eye-rollingly saccharine moments that would make any middle grader gag. Maybe it is the subject matter, two orphans trying to get adopted, but it was just too “precious”. The same thing happens with the third part of the novel, although at least this one has some interesting commentary on the way immigrants were and still are treated in the United States. 

The writer obviously knows what she is doing, I just wish that she would have left some of the Hallmark moments out of the novel. That would have made this book memorable and perhaps an instant classic.