Friday, November 27, 2015

Paranormal Public Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

29. Paranormal Public by Maddy Edwards
      Theme/Topic: book with magic

There is no such thing as a mage. There is certainly no such thing as a vampire, pixie, werewolf, or fallen angel. And they certainly do not all attend a college together called Paranormal Public University. One minute Charlotte Rollins is a normal girl about to go to a normal college. She is at once excited and nervous, getting ready to start this new phase in her life. The next minute she is a freshman not at a normal college, but at Paranormal Public University, a school where paranormals of all kinds must co-exist. Charlotte must learn magic, that is, if she could actually do magic, which unlike every other mage at Public she can’t seem to manage. Her transition to this new and wonderful world is difficult. On top of trying to learn magic, make new friends, and confront forbidden love, the archenemy of the paranormals, the demons, are getting stronger. They are looking for something. It turns out that Charlotte might just hold the key to finding it. Can Charlotte get a handle on her powers in time to save the school she loves? Can she fulfill a destiny the paranormals scarcely dared to hope for? Or will she be too late?

My Review:
I thought it got off to a bit of slow start, but it did get better as it went along. Since this is a book about magic, I only found what happened to Charlotte in the beginning was strange (right before and as she was taken away to the paranormal university).

I did appreciate how the five dorms were explained: Airlee being for mages, dream givers and werewolves; Cruor being for vampires; Aurora being for fallen angels; Volans being for pixies; and Astra being for elementals. What I particularly didn't like was how they weren't really allowed to get along with people from the other dorms/houses (or the whole my house/dorm is better than yours type of vibe) besides their own - it was too cliqueish and high school like for me. I personally don't like cliques, but it definitely shouldn't be any of that in college/university - you would think the people would have matured in that area by then.

This was the kind of book in which you knew what was going on before the characters did. For instance, I knew Charlotte was an elemental long before she did. I had figured it out when she had the strange experience in Astra the first she had to clean it. It did take me a bit longer to realize that the president was behind everything. I felt bad for Lisabelle who took the blame for it all (by way of the president).

Of course, all the houses/dorms had to come together at the end to save the university. Most of the trouble could have been avoided if they all got along from the get-go though.

There were a lot of similarities with Harry Potter. Since I am a Harry Potter fan, this book didn't live up to my expectation that I had going into reading this. It was kind of a letdown for me. Although the story did have its moments, it wasn't good enough for me to want to continue reading the rest of the series.

Note: I will not be posting for a few days after this because I have to go out of town for a funeral. If I feel up to it, I will try to post on Wednesday and if not, it will be Thursday.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oceans Apart Book Review

Writing Tuesday

I have decided to do book reviews occasionally on Writing Tuesdays.

2015 Reading Challenge

28. Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
      Theme/Topic: book you own/have but never read

Airline pilot Connor Evans and his wife, Michele, seem to be the perfect couple living what looks like a perfect life. Then a plane goes down in the Pacific Ocean. One of the casualties is Kiahna Siefert, a flight attendant Connor knew well. Too well. Kiahna’s will is very clear: before her seven-year-old son, Max, can be turned over to the state, he must spend the summer with the father he’s never met, the father who doesn’t know he exists: Connor Evans. Now will the presence of one lonely child and the truth he represents destroy Connor’s family ? Or is it possible that healing and hope might come in the shape of a seven-year-old boy?

My Review:
I had been struggling to write a review without using spoilers. I usually try not to use spoilers or give it all away in my reviews because I feel like that ruins the fun and joy of reading.

Mistakes happen and no one is perfect and that's what happens with Kiahna and Connor. They have basically a one-night stand when they know they shouldn't have. I can respect Kiahna's decision not to tell Connor about Max because she didn't want to destroy Connor and Michele's marriage. At the same time, I don't think it's right to not let someone know they have a child - I mean it wasn't that Connor was a bad father or would have been a bad father, it was just the circumstances that made it harder.

Michele's reaction was typical. I could definitely understand where she was coming from, despite how annoyed and frustrated I was at her throughout the story for different reasons, especially for not even wanting to hear Connor's side of the story. I know Michele would come around in the end, but also knew that they had to go through what they did to make that happen (like sending Max back. The only thing I really disliked was the way Michele tried to dissuade their daughters, Elizabeth and Susan, from getting to know Max. I feel that they should have been able to make their own decision from the beginning.

Throughout the story, I really liked how every situation taking place was explained to Max in a way that he was able to understand. Max was a strong little boy, who was able to deal with it all in his own way, without pressure to talk to anyone about how he was feeling unless he wanted to or was ready to. I feel that it was all handled well.

Oceans Apart is a prime example that everything can work out in the end, but it just takes time to get there.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Being Thankful

Sunday Funday - Thanksgiving Edition

I haven't posted much over the past week and a half due to family issues. On November 14, we found out that my Uncle John died after a long battle with cancer. We only knew a couple days ahead that he wasn't doing that well. That came as a shock as he always took care of himself and was health conscious. But, unfortunately, eating healthy and staying active doesn't prevent someone from getting an illness such as cancer. My uncle was 71 and the eldest brother of my father - my dad is the youngest of five, although sadly only two siblings are remaining. I was closer to my uncle when I was younger and even though I wasn't as close to him in recent years, his death came as a surprise to me and kind of threw me for a curve. You don't necessarily know how you're going to react to something (in this case losing a loved one) and honestly, I didn't really know how to react to this news. Regardless, we are all saddened by the loss of my uncle, but we are hanging in there. There was a memorial service yesterday in his state of residence that I couldn't attend, but in a couple of weeks, there's going to be another one where I and much of the family lives.

Enough of this, though.

Thanksgiving is in a few days in the US and it's a time to be thankful for what you have.

I've always said and believe that family comes first. I wouldn't know where I would be without my family and that's what I'm most thankful for. In light of what we are currently through, I am more thankful and grateful for my family. No family is perfect and mine's no different. There's been sort of a divide going on for quite awhile (extended family) and even though we may not always agree with each other, we're still family and nothing will change that. I'm still hoping that all of us can manage to move on and unite back together as a whole. If there's one thing that I could ask, it would be to really treasure the time you have with your family because you don't know how long you have with them. Yes, things happens and you may not always stay as close as you once were to certain members or there's disagreements over certain things and it breaks you apart from them, but after some time, try to agree to disagree and move on. If that does happen, things may not be the same but staying in contact and touch with all family members is something to be proud of. It seems when a generation starts dying off, the glue that bonded everyone together dissolves and it gets harder and harder to stay connected in a way. If we work at it, it is possible to maintain a solid relationship with your family.

Other than my family, I have lots to be thankful for. Here are just a few examples:

1. God - without Him, nothing is possible
2. Friends
3. Good health
4. That my heart condition is under control
5. Music - without it, I couldn't have made it through some tough times
6. Writing - I believe it's a God given talent to me and wouldn't have it any other way
7. Books - they allow me to escape into my own world and go places I never thought possible

Most of all, I'm thankful that I'm alive. It may not always be easy, but as long as I have what I need, I'm good. It's as simple as that.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that there are always other people less fortunate than you are, so be thankful for what you have.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Carnival of Souls Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

27. Carnival of Souls by Jazan Wild
      Theme/Topic: a graphic novel

A story that takes you back centuries ago to climb aboard the first ever Ferris Wheel. Fasten yourself into the first ever rollercoaster, as you ride through time and help Jexter The Clown, collect the oddest of oddities, the most freakish of freaks, and the grandest performers ever to perform under the big-top! This dark caravan of misfits needs just one thing to complete the show!

My Review:
To get this out of the way, I usually don't read graphic novels. That means that this book just wasn't my cup of tea.

The Carnival of Souls is exactly what it says - stories about the souls of dead people who apparently own a carnival. Saying that, this book was just okay. Some of the characters' stories were okay, some were not. The parts I disliked the most were what I am calling the poetry parts. I'm sure there's a name for them, but I can't think of it. It's basically when a clown/someone is telling a joke or introducing the next act in a poetry kind of way. I found them to be lame.

If you're into graphic novels, comics or anime, you would probably enjoy this book. 

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

More Than Friends Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

26. More Than Friends by Katherine Spencer
      Theme/Topic: a book you can finish in a day

When Grace Stanley’s older brother, Matt, died in a car accident, she wanted to die, too. But she’s slowly finding her way again, with the help of her mysterious new friend, Philomena--who always seems to show up when Grace needs her most. If only Jackson, Matt’s best friend, had a Philomena of his own. He’s fallen into some very bad habits--at the same time that Grace is falling for him.

My Review:
I randomly picked this book up one time when I was at jury duty and I was a little bored. I figured it would be perfect to finally read it for a book to finish in a day.

It's the story of a teenager, Grace,  going through a hard time after her brother unexpectedly dies. With the help of a guardian angel, Philomena, things start to get better and she is able to turn her life around. It was like she was given a second chance. It's an issue that someone could be experiencing firsthand when they're reading it.

This book is geared toward teen (although truth be told, I didn't realize that when I picked it up), but can also be good for tweens as well. Most of us are tweens/teens when we first lose someone we love, whether a family member or maybe even a best friend. If you haven't experienced a death before your twenties, you're probably one of the lucky ones.

I had been through a few deaths in my family by the time I was a teen. Saying that, though, I was fourteen when I first experienced a significant loss with the death of an uncle in 2001. It finally seemed real to me, that no one lives forever. Three grandparents died when I was really little and I don't remember it at all. The first funeral I remember attending was for an uncle when I was only six. I didn't really understand what was going on. As time went on, I started realizing what it all meant. When my uncle died suddenly in 2001, I definitely wasn't prepared for that to happen. What made it worse was that he died right before Christmas, making the funeral and burial take place right after Christmas. It was one of the hardest times I've been through. I was all over the place with my emotions, but it ended up being quite a learning experience for me, as it can be for anybody.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Anna Karenina Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

25. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
      Topic/Theme: a book published more than 100 years ago (1877)

In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together.

My Review:
Anna Karenina is one of the best classics I have read. The relationship between Anna and Vronsky was good, but Kitty and Levin's was more compelling, more realistic in a way.  Kitty and Levin had their problems like couples do in the first year of marriage, but always managed to work them out.

Anna and Vronsky had their issues as well, more on Anna's part, but didn't really solve anything. While they did seem to love each other at times, there were also times when they couldn't tolerate each other. I get that things were more complicated because Anna was still married, but I think it could have been handled better at times by both parties. I don't think much would have changed if they had gotten married. Anna always wanted to be in control and while she did seem to forgive Vronsky after an argument, she ended up hurting him, making him pay. I did really wish that Anna and Vronsky would have been able to have worked it all out in the end and gotten married, but that didn't happen. The one thing that surprised me was Anna committing suicide at the end. I wasn't expecting that at all, didn't see it coming. I'm putting myself out there when I say this, but I really felt that Anna had a mental illness or something. If everyday people can have mental disorders, so can a character in a book. 

Alexei Karenin frustrated me when it came to the whole divorce thing. I was actually surprised that he didn't want to leave Anna when he learned of her affair, but then I realized that things were different back then. Divorce, for whatever reason, was unheard of. It was odd that he agreed that she could keep seeing Vronsky as long as she didn't see him in their home. When Anna moves away with Vronsky, Karenin told her that he would divorce her if that's what she wanted. However, he agrees to divorce Anna only if he gets custody of their son, as a way to hurt her, get her back for the affair, even if he didn't have a good relationship with him. I agree with him in that he stood up for his Christian values, but surely there can be extenuating circumstances. I don't agree with him in that he relied on the so called advice/opinion of another person to make the choice of divorcing Anna for him. In my opinion, they should have gotten divorced, but to have shared custody of their son. Would have getting a divorce made things easier for Anna and Vronsky? I don't necessarily think so.

My only other issue is with Stepan and Dolly. For them, I wish they would have been able to come more to common ground at some points. While they would make up with each other, I think they would have been better off if they just made compromises.

To end this, Anna Karenina was a great book. I was able to get really engrossed in the characters, especially with Kitty and Levin and Anna's situation as a whole. I guess I only wished that there would have been at least one perfect couple, but that's not realistic. Marriages may not always be easy and there's no such thing as a perfect couple. Sometimes a marriage works out and sometimes it doesn't and that's okay too. 

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Quick Announcements

Instead of my usual Writing Tuesday post, I'm doing a couple announcements.

1. My Author Spotlight posts will be done on Fridays. Thursdays just weren't working out.

2. I'm open to ideas for what to write about for writing Tuesdays. Let me know of any suggestions in the comments.

3. My new blog will be up either in December or January. I'm working on a writing series for the first couple posts and since it's personal, it's taking a little bit longer.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Starlight Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

24. Starlight by Debbie Macomber
      Theme/Topic: a popular author's first book

At a magical Christmas fete, Karen McAlister meets a man she cannot ignore—the first man to interest her in a long while. Before she laid eyes on Rand Prescott, Karen would have said her life was complete and content . . . much to the dismay of her widowed father, who would love to see her married and settled. But everything changed that enchanted night: The stars, the moonlight, the music, and the champagne all conspired to throw two people together. But the fates are determined to pull them apart. Long ago, Rand Prescott erected a steel fa├žade around his heart. He never had any intention of maintaining any kind of relationship with a woman. Independent, proud, and nearly blind, Rand felt he had no capacity to return a woman’s love. But that was before he met Karen. In one night, she shattered all of his preconceived ideas about romance and threatened to break through his walls. Rand is convinced that Karen deserves better than the love of a blind man. Can he ever accept this beguiling woman into his life—and into his soul?

My Review:
As Debbie Macomber's one of my all-time favorite authors, this book was good. Like I recently wrote about, a writer gets better with each book (this goes for any craft/career). I find this to be true of any great author or any writer for that matter. What I like about Debbie Macomber (and just like fellow writer Karen Kingsbury) is that she keeps it real. Both authors manage to write about everyday issues in a believable way, if that makes sense.

In Starlight, there's Rand who's guarded and put up a wall so thick that no one can get in. And then there's Karen, who falls in love at first sight, but has some doubts. Disabilities, like Rand being almost completely blind, can hinder relationships in that they may not necessarily believe or think that normal people will accept them for who they are. I can understand Rand keeping his guard up, especially about having children (valid fears in his case). He did come across as being too mean at times, although I did appreciate him coming around in the end. Even though, I'm not married yet, this novel represented what happens in the first year of marriage filled with doubts and getting adjusted to living together - issues of course that get straightened out with time.

I personally enjoyed Matthew's character and role. This was a man who knew his health was declining and wanted both of his daughters to be married and happy. With Karen, Matthew just wanted to have a granddaughter. He played a great supporting role who did whatever it took so Karen (along with her sister) would be able to live and thrive if something happened to him.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Friday, November 6, 2015

Luanne Rice, Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight

Luanne Rice

  1. American author of 31 novels
  2. Five novels have been made into TV movies
  3. Those are: Follow the Stars Home; Silver Bells; Beach Girls; Blue Moon; and Crazy in Love
  4. First published a poem when she was 11
  5. First published a short story at 15
  6. Mostly writes about nature and the sea
  7. Has had work featured at Hartford Stage and Geffen Playhouse
  8. Also featured in some off-Broadway theatre productions
I have read some of her novels. The first one, and also the one I like the most, I read was Follow the Stars Home.

If you have read any of Luanne Rice's novels, which one(s) is your favorite?

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Emma Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

23. Emma by Jane Austen
      Theme/Topic: a classic romance

Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protege Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

My Review:
Emma Woodhouse is independent and knows what she wants (or doesn't want). As a female myself, I respect that in any woman. However, in this case, there's a downside. Time and time again, she doesn't like to admit when she's wrong, especially with Harriet as she attempts to find a match. I respect tht Emma stays true to what she believes in, but there are times when it's necessary to admit when you've made a mistake or even see/understand the other side of things. I found Emma and Mr. knightley's spats to be interesting as each would have valid points. They end up loving each other even though they don't always agree on certain things. As a  whole, Emma was just okay.    

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Just Keep Writing; Writing Tuesday

It's time for another Writing Tuesday.

This is for anyone who wants to be a writer. My advice is to just keep writing (thanks to Debbie Macomber for sharing this). Follow your passion and go after the dream of becoming a writer. No matter what your passion is, the only way to get better is to keep doing it - in this case, writing. Writing is the only field that age doesn't matter and it's never too late to write a book. You can get published at any age - from kids and teens up to the elderly. Don't ever give up in chasing your dreams.

Image Source: Sewanne School of Letters
Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Fun

Sunday Funday

Yesterday was Halloween, so I figured I would do a Halloween tag.

Please note that I'm not a huge fan of horror movies and while I like Halloween, I'm not too crazy about it - I, for one, don't believe it's an official holiday.

1) What’s your favorite horror movie?
~ never seen a horror movie (I've seen Frankenstein, but it wasn't scary so it doesn't count)

2) If you were in a horror movie, how far do you think you would get? (Five minutes, halfway, all the way to the end credits…?)
~ halfway, maybe???

3) Favorite scary video game?
~ don't play scary video games

4) Favorite scary story?
~ don't know

5) What’s one unusual thing that you’re afraid of?
~ dogs - while I actually do like dogs in general, I'm not big on being around them due to an incident that happened when I was about 8 or so

6) What’s your first memory of Halloween?
~ I don't know if this is technically my first memory, but I remember being excited to be in a neighborhood Halloween parade - just a parade/general walk where neighborhood kids could walk around showing off their costumes

7) What’s your favorite Halloween memory?
~ probably what I just said above

8) Best Halloween costume you’ve had?
~ Minnie Mouse

9) Worst Halloween costume you’ve had?
~ probably a bum - I was 10 or 11 and it was the last year that I wanted to go trick or treating, but it wasn't all what I expected to be

10) Werewolves or vampires?
~ werewolves

11) Ghosts or zombies?
~ zombies

12) Creepy dolls or creepy clowns?
~ clowns

13) Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers or Leatherface?
~ probably Krueger (who is Leatherface?)

The following are pictures of a few of my Halloween costumes - Ariel (I think), Minnie Mouse, and Cinderella.

Hope you had a happy and safe Halloween!