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Sarah J. Maas
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Back in Circulation - Marc Holland, Kathy Holland Review to come.

Mechanica: The Inventor Princess

Mechanica: The Inventor Princess - Betsy Cornwell You lost me at Cassandra Clare

The Year After

The Year After - Adrianne Noel This review originally appears here:http://www.guyvestal.com/home/2014/10/the-year-after-review/ ‎As well as at Amazon.

I was initially attracted to this book over the cover, (of course) but the prospect of reading about a close Daddy/Daughter relationship was the prime motivation, and I was not disappointed.

Oddly enough, the entire family was believable, the bi-polar mother, the crazy sisters, the doting father, even Maddies love interests. The world and character building was steady from beginning to end, something rare in most authors. The book felt as if the author took her time, and let the story flow naturally from her, nothing rushed or slapped together.
Maddie was attractive to me because of her journey from NYC to Colorado, and an expected decision to remain in the town to buy a house, typical of people who have spent any time in the "big apple". I lived there for quite a while, and I did love it, but if you had known other homes, it is easy to be caught up in getting out of that rat race as well.

It was strange that her first love, the high school coach turned out to be a dick. I had expected him to be the main love interest throughout, only to be shocked when he turned out to be the typical male with commitment issues. Maybe a little stereotypical, but we as guys (and some gals) are notorious for it.

What was even more unexpected was Maddies overreaction to it... Her Mother raised her to be so self-sufficient, and having become so independent in NYC, to come home to be with her father, and to become so needy? Maybe her mother's death, her fathers quickness to move on, her sister's wedding, all that together simply made her feel left behind?

And while we are on the topic of needy, lets get to snively, and just plain beating a dead horse whiny. Don't get me wrong, I still loved the book, but I am allowed to have issues too ya know.

As a Daddy of eight Daughters, I get that the Mother/Daughter relationship is always quite different. In fact, many women reading this are going to say... "I moved out of my parents house because I wanted to live somewhere that my mother was not. And hopefully at least a few hours away... Ok, we get it!

-Your mother is dead.
-Your father is glad.
-Your mother is a bitch.
-Your mother is a bi-polar bitch
-Your mother was the bane of your existence.
-Your mother was the bane of your sisters existence.
-Your mother was the bane of your fathers existence.
-Your mother was a bitch
-You're crazy because you hear voices.
-We got it.
-Get over it.
-Move the hell on.
-Even Jackson told you to get a grip.

No wonder men run at high-speed when your clingy ass wants marriage and a baby after the second date. No wonder the cat was your surrogate love interest.

-Maddie reminded me of Taylor "clingy psycho" Swift.
-Maddie achieved nirvana, she became mother's daughter.
-Maddie needs meds, not Merlot.

And to make matters worse, what does she do at her sister's wedding? Drop down into the hay letting the gardener feel her up, get him wound up, then cut him off. She wonders why her younger sister, and even her father, months after the battle-axe dies, are getting married and moving on? LOL You can smell Maddies desperation in every third chapter.

Of course, it wouldn't be a truly weak and needy woman unless, she swallowed her self-esteem, and went back crawling to the guy, she should have never tried to pretend that she was the one with the penis in the relationship with, in the first place. And... Of course, the prude finally had to drop her bra and panties for a skinny dip to get back in Jackson's good graces. He (Jackson) should have left that woman to rot in her new cabin, that way she could hate on the main street men, shove the Bronte sisters down the throats of her male students, and get herself a dozen cats to sit with her by her precious window.

And do you know what pissed me off the most? What really got my fur bristled? What I knew was going to come, because that is the way it is when I am interested in a character, only to see that character fizzle?

On the last page, of the last chapter, halfway down.

The ghost of Jackie gets one lousy paragraph of closure!
And a cliché one at that!
Of-Fucking-Course!

What ever happened to the camera? Is it still rolling? Did it sit there until Moose Run was sold?

As soon as Jackson pulls his dick out, Jackie falls off the face of the earth until after Maddie reflects on how she snared Jackson. Poor guy is probably p-whipped by now, with Maddie refusing to even admit that she should be on the meds her mother would have probably done better on.

But with all that bitching.

I really loved the book! HaHaHa...


Something rare here is the appeal to men. There are some strong male characters that a wide array of men can identify with, and follow along with. The sports minded, the player, the doting Daddy, the artist, the business type. It is certainly not something that is everyday in adult romance.

It was also nice to be exposed to the descriptions of the landscape of Colorado, the animals, the weather, the travel, the architecture.

I paid $13.09 at Amazon, and this is actually one of the rare times that I can say the material far outweighs the price. The cover and paper are very sturdy. The binding held up to extensive reading abuse. It fact, it held up so well, I went out of way to bend it around, and flatten it, just out of spite, and it still stood strong. The ink is dark, the type is clear and readable. It was worth every penny in material cost.
------------------------------------------

Author Interview with Adrianne Noel



1. QUESTION: What are the main parallels between you and the book.

The novel is based on my experience of losing my mother to cancer fifteen years ago. My mother was much like Maddie’s mother, Lena, and, sad to say, her daughters were not able to blossom until after her death. Like Ted, my dad started dating only a few months after my mother’s funeral, which challenged many of my preconceived notions about love, marriage, and loyalty. I am also a college English teacher who has specialized in Victorian literature, although I’m considerably less dreamy and more practical than Maddie.

The book started out as a memoir, but I found myself adding fictional scenes and characters—and my writing group discovered that they enjoyed reading the fictional parts better than the biographical ones. I ended up throwing out large chunks of biographical material and fictionalizing the story. Everyone asks if Jackson is modelled after my husband. Jackson is an entirely fictional character, although my husband is also a college professor and does frequently wear tweed jackets, Levis, cowboy boots, and a fedora.


2. QUESTION: Why write it?

I wanted to capture the feeling of loss that coincides with the humor of a dysfunctional family trying to get on its feet again. I also thought readers could relate to a grown woman’s conflicted feelings of relief and grief in the loss of a difficult parent, as well as the complex emotions that surface in watching a surviving parent date again. Of course, there is the love story, too, and I knew that many readers would identify with Maddie’s tendency to fall for the wrong guy, and even her dilemma in feeling like she needs to choose between love and career.

3. QUESTION: What do you want readers to come away with from your book?

The bonds of family cannot be broken by time, space, or death, and sometimes forgiveness, redemption, and love come along when we least expect them.

Most of all, my goal is to entertain. I hope to create a world in which readers can lose themselves for a few hours--a world that evokes both tears and laughter.

4. QUESTION: Is there any other books in the works?

My work-in-progress follows two women of different centuries, linked by a mysterious piano, who defy the expectations of their families and communities to pursue a passion for music. The setting of the novel alternates between South Dakota and Bergen, Norway, and it captures the experience of Norwegian immigrants to the Dakota Territory and their descendants.

After that, my plan is a series set in Old Snowmass, Colorado, where local ranchers share the idyllic mountain valley with the monks of St. Benedict’s Monastery. When three women find refuge and transformation in the valley, the vision of a local developer collides with the values of the monastery and with the determination of a reclusive rancher who wishes to preserve the land.

5. QUESTION: Have Maddie's mother tell us why someone should read this book.

We all experience regret and fear that we haven’t been the best mother, father, daughter, sister, or grandmother. Maddie’s story considers the possibility that love, forgiveness, and redemption can still happen, even after we are gone. As Jackson tells Maddie early in the novel, “ . . . the divide between this world and the next is not as fixed as we would like to think.” Maddie’s journey has brought the telling of a story that I could never tell myself –and produced the kind of life I never could have imagined.

Game of Life

Game of Life - Mary Cote This review & interview originally appears here: http://www.guyvestal.com/home/2014/09/game-of-life-by-mary-cote-a-review-author-interview/ as well as at Amazon...

Those that know me know of my love of the Theatre, so I could not help myself but to purchase this play and another, and spend some time immersing myself. I had communicated with the publishing house about the possibility of an author interview, because I am hoping to get Goodreads, as well as other book bloggers interested in the value of the stage play, and its place in a civilized society, academia, and entertainment itself.

Let me first be clear before we start. If you are an unyielding feminist, a Judeo-Christian, or Islamic zealot/extremist, then you will by no means find this play entertaining, let alone humorous.

The Game of Life is a play in two acts that stars 3 spiritual icons, their four assistants, the earth religion representation of Mother Nature, and a biographer.

The spiritual icons involved are:

-God - A liquor drinking, sexually overactive, sometimes excitable, irreverent, female representation of the Judeo-Christian Deity.

-Allah - A Martini drinking & cigar smoking player, a smooth as silk Aladdin. The representation of the Islamic Deity.

-Buddha - A beer drinking, snack food guzzling, well liked, and quite Casanova looking. Far from the spiritual vision of enlightenment.

-Mother Nature - A worrisome, unstable, stereotypical woman from the male POV, that babysits the overall creation in chaos. The representation of the earth religions.

They sit around a table playing a board game known as "The Game of Life". Throughout the play, they are shaking and throwing dice, moving their game pieces, and commenting on the spaces for which they land, all the while discussing various topics that include historical spiritual references, everyday human life, and hidden interpretations of social commentary. All taking place with their busy assistants fulfilling their whims, among tiki bars, tents, and military barracks type backgrounds.

The creation of the world, fruits and vegetables, natural disasters, sex and excess, and various other things that relate to the human condition make the game players a hoot to read, let alone the possibility to see performed on stage.

The majority of the dialogue is centered around both the daily life activities of the creation, and their adding to the thoughts and commands of the deities, as well as reading between the lines, and interjecting their own failed interpretations of the will of those they worship, causing the confusion and conflict the players of the game are embroiled in at the table.

All of this is tied together by the random interjections of their biographer named Seuss, and rightly so. His ramblings sound as if coming straight from the adult versions of the children's books, feeding off of the dialogue at the game table, such as...

"Whores in stores, whores galore, whores with scores and bottoms sore, whores you meet on the street, I met my whore on Muggwump Street."

This work is complete, it contains a detailed outline of the cast, dialogue with stage positions and notes for direction, a costume plot, property plot, stage furnishings, sound effects, and a stage diagram. This all inclusive book can be used effectively with all actors, stage hands, director and producer.

It is a work that would do best in a liberal arts setting, such as a drama department for a community college, or a university setting as a production for students and the surrounding community. If directed properly (which I would give anything to direct, this is a director's dream for running wild with!), and the actors allowed to ad lib a bit, it could be stretched into a comfortable evening performance at a university. As is... Being shorter than average in a typical two act script, it might just be a nice afternoon matinée on a community college Saturday.

I would be a little reluctant to see this in a community theatre setting. It does not have a wide enough appeal to be given the possibility of a warm reception, let alone a long enough run, to make it even worth producing.

This playwright has a sharp mind, and the ability to visualize the stage, and the needed actions and interactions required to make for a good small production, as well as transmitting those thoughts/ideas to ink and paper. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in seeing the working of a play from the ground up, buy this work, give it a read, and after a few re-reads, you will better understand what goes on, and the foundations of what it takes for a stage production to get from script, to cheers and jeers in the local newspaper.


(The review was written prior to the interview, and was the impetus for the questions submitted to the playwright.)
-------------------------------------------------------
Interview with playwright: Mary Cote:
-------------------------------------------------------

Question: Are you a theist, or a non-theist, and how did that play a part?

MC: "Well, let’s jump into the deep end. I’m a theist, raised Catholic, but consider myself to be more Gnostic (probably if I walked into a Catholic Church right now, there would be a lightning bolt shower). Obviously some of my personal beefs regarding organized religion and religious dogma play a significant role in the play."

Question: Why this play?

MC: "Frustration perhaps. Dismay. Disgust. Perhaps a bit of fear. I think that everyone should learn about all religions because that would go a long way to stopping a lot of the hatred that exists. I think that religion should be a personal choice, but that it should not be a convenient tool on the shelf of our lives. The incongruity in society with what they preach and what they do is staggering, and not just a little ironic. I hate that religion is used to propagate fear and that it is used to manipulate. I hate that God, whatever God you’re talking about, has been lost in the dogma. We’re told daily by preachers, politicians, etc what God wants. I picked up the ball from them and took it to extremes. God should be something more than someone you thank for making a touchdown, or that you should espouse while making a speech, yet that you totally ignore when you see a hungry person on the street, or who becomes invisible as you bully your way up a corporate ladder. It’s convenient to blame Him for the bad and praise Him for materialistic gains. Organized religion has been responsible for a LOT of hurt throughout the history of man. Wars have been through, battles waged... we have terrorists on every corner of the world, extremists who use their holy books in their attempt to mold the world into their own personal image, all in the name of religion. The Christian right is as scary as the rest of them, and we’re seeing more of it, so perhaps this was my cry to get people at least talking about it. It also doesn't hurt to have a religious edict issued against you when you’re trying to sell books."

Question: What is your response to those that will be offended over the content?

MC: "I would tell them that if they are comfortable with their relationship with their God, then they have no reason to feel threatened by my relationship with their God. The intent is to make us examine our own relationship with whatever deity we choose to embrace, but that we should do so honestly. The intent is to make us discuss religion and spirituality, why there is a difference between the two, and that while we see something we think ridiculous in one religion, they might see something we do in ours the same way. The way religion is used today is offensive; I just took it to the extreme. I suppose I could have had George Burns leap out of a cake somewhere along the way, to make people more comfortable. Why is it okay to assume that God could be an old man with a cigar and coke-bottle glasses, but not a strong woman? Mostly, if they can prove that any of the portrayals are wrong – scientifically prove it – I will gladly retract my position."

Question: Describe Mary Cote utilizing 7 nouns, 7 adverbs, and 7 adjectives within the description.

MC: "Oye. I profoundly dislike adverbs in descriptions – they tell. I would rather show, but that’s for another day. Mary is painfully shy, slightly conflicted, mildly obsessed, occasionally sarcastic, mischievously provocative, always questioning, never confident. She is needy, grumpy, anal-retentive, precise, irreverent, patient (when necessary) and hopes that to some degree she is humorous."

Question: Tell us who you would want to see into the role of each cast member, in the hopes of giving us the best representation of your work.

MC: "I have actually two dream casts – one British and one American. How sad is that! In the British version, I see Dawn French as God, Helen Mirren as Mother Nature, Alan Rickman as Allah, Gerard Butler as Roach, Anthony Hopkins as Buddha, maybe John Cleese as Seuss. On this side of the ocean, it’s David Hyde Pierce as Buddha, Bebe Neuwirth or Kathy Bates as God, Carol Burnett as Mother Nature, Channing Tatum as Royce, either Christopher Walken or Daniel Day Lewis as Allah."

Question: What venue do you see this work getting the best reception in? Example; community theatre, college/university, etc.

MC: "I think because of the nature of the content, it is probably not community theater fodder. I suspect it would be most likely seen in a college or university."

Question: Improv time... Pick one cast member to give the readers here the parting shot, before I say Thank You and Goodbye.

MC: "I told them to start taking care of the earth. I told them, but would they listen? Noooo. They continued to dig and frack and blow up and destroy. They fight and war and hoard money... like money is going to feed them when they've ruined everything else. I keep sending them warnings. I give them hurricanes and blizzards, but do they pay attention? Noooo, they just don’t care, and when it all goes down the crapper, you know who they’ll blame? You know! Of course you know! Just like they say You created the earthquakes because women exposed some cleavage, they will say that it’s your fault that you let this other mess happen. Oye!"

CCC: Thank You, Good Luck...

Interested in the Playwright?

Facebook link -- https://www.facebook.com/MaryCoteAuthorPage

Publisher's link -- http://www.writersamuseme.com/gameoflife.htm

Author's link -- http://www.marycotewalkden.com

Witch Way

Witch Way - M.A. Marino This review appears here: http://www.guyvestal.com/home/2014/09/witch-way-review/ as well as Amazon.

From the publisher:

"Evil isn't something you are, it's something you become."

Jessica O'Rourke is learning the dangers that young witches face when dabbling in not-so-good magic for personal gain. All of the women in Jessie's family are witches. Not the kind of witches that fly on brooms or cast spells with pointed sticks. They're the kind of witches that Jessie's mother called practical witches-that is, until she got killed.


This book is a lesson in book cover importance.

I came into this with average expectations. I liked the cover, and so did just about anyone I had exposed it to around the internet, and here in memes.

If you liked the television series "Charmed", you will recognize a lot of the character, plot, and world building.

The star of the show, "Jesse" is a teen who goes through the normal trials and tribulations of having to mature much too quickly, having her father brutally murder her mother, then to find herself a ward within the system in California, to eventually be allowed to have herself placed under the guardianship of her aunt Rhiannon, who resides with her younger sisters, and a small child of one of them.

Jesse befriends the small child in particular, and the relationship progresses to being more intimate than the older aunts, which is plausible, seeing as "Maybelly" is the only one with an existing Mother, ergo she is drawn to her.

The Charmed theme rings loud and clear here.

-Dead Mother
-Dead Grandmother
-Sisters
-Sister Commercial Business Interest
-Sisters Fighting Warlocks
-House and Sacred Space focus
-Law Enforcement Privy to Secrets
-Good vs. Evil overfocus

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and being a fan of Charmed, it did bring about quite a bit of comfortable familiarity.

Problem is that it is slow to start, but picks up quickly enough, then paces naturally until the end, where the character, plot, and world building come to a painfully screeching halt, and a few small chapters are used to lightning fast bring everything to an unsatisfying close, with an attempt of using some remaining page space, and an epilogue to tie up the many loose ends left behind from a chaotically short, "wrap-up".

I was doing fine, and the book was moving at a four star pace until the end, then it dropped to three stars, and I really stopped giving a damn about the final pages afterwards, that really never accomplished the job of closure.

I paid $11.69 at Amazon, and the material itself was of average quality, nothing spectacular in quality, a bit overpriced when I purchased it, and quite overpriced in retrospect. The type is clear, the ink is dark, and there were maybe 3-4 editing errors at most. The cover was enticing, and looked very well when seen in person. The book folded and read well, the binding held up nicely.

Poems of the Unrequited Clinically Depressed Ghost Girl

Poems of the Unrequited Clinically Depressed Ghost Girl - Kathryn Anne Lavelle This review appears Here: Poems of the Unrequited Clinically Depressed Ghost Girl - Review As well as at Amazon, and a mention at the book trailer at the publishers website.

Today we have something quite rare, so don't even get used to seeing this. We have a 5 star review. But before anyone should even care, or show a lack of caring, it is important to say that the only reason this gets 5 stars is because it has entered the "right time, right place" zone.

If this had been read and reviewed 2 months ago, it would have gotten 4, it it had been read 2 months from now, it would have gotten 4.

I came into this saying to myself... "No biggie, looks like a nice read, and I can relate. Life sucks at times, so what, that's the other guy, not me, I am beyond all that bullshit."

But then I started getting into the work, and realized that I was about as deep into denial as it gets. Not only was this not the other guy, but I was nowhere near beyond any of my own bullshit.

Let me tell you upfront, if you got a lot of shit going on in your life, and you're dragging, this is going to rip your guts out, so if you are not ready to have your demons revisited, I suggest you stay away from this work until you are ready to hurt. I myself was not ready, but was glad I got caught off guard, because if I would have continued down this road I recently just lead myself onto, I would have been worse off later. TRust me, I was watching what was going on with me, and just figured I could beat it back, and stuff it, as I had done for so many decades in the past. But now there is freedom from these recent demons, and a new way of thinking that just might convince me to let some of the old ones out, and dispatch them.

Most of the poetry is short, but it hits hard and fast. There is a variety of issues addressed, but the central theme remains the same. Pain, only the circumstances change here and their from piece to piece.

Some of them read 2 pages, but for the most part, the book is %35 whitespace, which is acceptable for a book of poetry.

I paid $8.09 at Amazon, and it was a little more than what the book itself is worth. The cover is slightly below average in paper quality, but the cover image is beautiful. The paper is heavy, the ink is dark, the type is clear and readable, and it does hold up well to page folding. Overall, the content inside makes the book invaluable, the price to me is nothing more than another price I have paid in life, and no longer holds a monetary value, after reading the work.

You don't have to be a "Girl" to read this, in fact, this goes beyond gender, even though gender is mentioned here and there. For me, gender just seemed like the shell that this was all housed in, and that this road is no respecter of persons, and has no qualms dragging you through the same sadness and eventual healing and love.

Half of me wants to call this author a "Bitch" for exposing the secret club handshake of the hurting and hidden, and the other half just wants to give her a big hug and tell her, "It's gonna be ok now, I get it, thanks..."

I didn't have any favorite pieces throughout the body of the work, because the work as a whole spoke to me both as a whole, and to each individual issue that each individual piece of work seemed to empathize with. To tell you the truth, I found myself simply reading through it as one body of work, non-stop, with the titles each simply being a faded roadsign that I passed along the road.

This is not a fun-time book to read just for the hell of it, it is a serious read, and you might want to pass it by if you can't be serious about yourself. It is just you and this book alone when reading, you are the one that has to live alone with the words after you are done, trying to "stuff" this back down in your trap door with all the demons isn't going to make anything any better...

Endgame: The Calling

Endgame: The Calling - James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton So does this mean I can copy and paste Harry Potter books, and switch out Rowling's name with mine, and Harper Teen will publish it?
SPOILER ALERT!

Sisters of Avalon: The Awakening

Sisters of Avalon: The Awakening - Kate Carridean

This review originally appears here: Sisters of Avalon: The Awakening - Review, as well as at Amazon.

So I stumbled across this book somewhere, not sure, may have been the first reads giveaway, but seeing as it was a new author, I thought I would give it try, as I am a self pub and indie supporter.

I know it's three stars, and that might be disappointing at first, but remember, 1,2,& 5 is almost impossible to get from me, so 3 and 4 is the norm.

Why three and not four?

I had issues with the book, not the type that made it hard to read, and had me dragging through it, but the type that were causing confusion in trying to understand what the author was trying to get across and why.

The beginning and end shared the same problem. They were both "rushed". In the beginning, the character(s) are being built at lightning speed, in a slap together sort of Frankenstein mode, grabbing details from everywhere possible to accelerate to the middle, leaving me trying to follow along with little back story to understand the main character, and supporting cast. By the time the middle of the book came, Airamett (The main character, what appeared to maybe be some sort of Protagonist) was a confusing jumble of ambiguity, and the supporting cast was not much more than just names.

Why do I think both were rushed? Because both had spelling and grammatical errors, where the middle of the book did not. I don't judge on spelling and grammar, even if it is just plain atrocious, because those who are self publishing are obviously on a budget most of the time, and to have money for an editor is really not a possibility if you are a budget author. Besides, its not that hard to figure out what word should have been there (it is quite the shock to get stopped in the middle of getting into the book, to have to try and figure out the mistake, but it is kinda fun to smile and figure out the little puzzle that the error presents itself as.)

In the beginning, Airamett sounds more like an adult pretending to be cool like a kid. You know how adults speak when they are trying to be cool like their kids, but they still inject their adult thought processes, and use the teen vernacular somewhat out of context? It is really awkward, and embarrassing when you say to yourself..."That's not how a teen would talk, she sounds more like her overbearing mother." realizing you must sound the same way to your children when you try to be their "friend".

When the middle arrived, I was finally able to take a breath, and enjoy the nice even pace of natural character and world building progression. The mechanical errors came to a screeching halt, the main character started becoming believable, and the supporting cast really jumped in and gave the story much more depth, and it all really brought the story to life, and made the read very enjoyable, I was engrossed. The author had achieved "Nirvana" with her work.

Then came the ending... Womp, womp, waaaaaaaaaa...... It was a four star book up until the final few chapters. Here we go again, character building at the speed of light, slapping parts together with no real rhyme or reason why. Airamett became a spoiled little tween snot for some reason. (No, love doesn't cause that much of a digression into tweendom, maybe some immaturity because of the experience of it, but de-evolving into a middle schooler..? Then the character building started to clone "Twilight", it was really annoying, mostly because I find Bella Swan annoying to begin with, only to see her now reappearing as Airamett, ugh, I wanted to bang my head when one character said to another as they were discussing vampires (the spelling with the "y" as opposed to the "i" is so corny and middle schoolish. Spell it right, this isn't trying to impress the emo and goth kids at recess.) and one said to the other... "This isn't the CW". I stopped and said out loud... "This isn't Twilight either pally..." Grayson? He is horribly unbelievable, nothing about his character is consistent except for his un believably, do yourself a favor, kill him off in the first chapter of book two, and let her go to Jareth. Speaking of Jareth, he is a much more believable vampire, and bravo for that character, he was consistent from beginning to end, I would suggest using him as a model for the foundation of other vampire characters. Dylan was very consistent as well, bravo on him. Now to the fighting in the end... Do you really need pages of repeated clawing and tearing while the little girl just sits screaming "No, Stop!" It started to feel like raising the word count was the idea behind all of the fighting in the final part of the book, far too much repetition of the description of fighting moves. I started skimming words, that was the final straw, there went the fourth star. When I start skimming sentences, its over, my interest is gone, and now it is just gathering what key information needed to get to the next page, which finding out Jareth's father was Greyson was far too late in coming. That should have come near the fight Greyson and Jareth had when Greyson called him "Boy". That quip would have been a great opportunity to bring in the fact they were Father and Son, not when they both magically pop up out of nowhere at the shack in the swamps in the end.

Was it a good book overall? Sure it was, it was pretty darn good actually. It had its faults, but overall it was the standard that I expect from first time self published authors. First time self pubs don't just turn into Twilight, or Divergent, or Harry Potter. Most of the time they are simply average good reads, and that is what this turned out to be.

I paid $8.99 at Amazon, it was your typical createspace book (they all have the same recognizable covers most of the time.) The cover and binding were solid, above average quality, that stood up well to folding pages, book bending, etc... The paper was good quality, the print was dark and clear, very nice publishing job for the price.

I am not sure if I would pay for book two in the series. Maybe If I talked to the author a few times, discussed book one, maybe I might pay for book two, but there would need to be some sort of explanation as to why the rush in beginning and end. Maybe she was trying to get it off the ground, rushed the start, felt relaxed and comfortable about the middle, then became pressed for time, or just got uneasy about closure, then fell into the same rush. Something is screwy in Savannah. (My number 6 Daughter's name is Savannah, can you guess if it I named her after the city? Here is a hint, her sisters names are Dixie, Georgia, Scarlett, and Delta. LOL)

The work was worthy of four stars, but it needs three so the author can see that she needs to look at number one, and try to see how she can better get number two into that four star category.

Poetry Magazine (September 2014)

Poetry Magazine (September 2014) - Don Share, John Ashberry, Arthur Vogelsang, Robert Fernandez, Dana Levin, Susan Barba, Stephen Sandy, Amy Beeder, Kay Ryan, Noah Warren, Douglas Kearney, Lesley Wheeler, Henri Cole, Catherine Field, Sylvia Legris, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, John Koethe, Francine J. Harris, D. #IV of "The Beatitudes of Malibu" by Rowan Ricardo Phillips, finally answers the question... "What the hell really happened that time out on the highway, when Mel Gibson was ranting to the cops." I really wished a newscaster would have just said this, and then we could have all said..."Oh, I get it now. Clown."

Catherine Fields's "Mythic Beaver"? That's MY DAD inside that box! :-) Thank you for reminding me of him there.

A Sweet, Little Dream

A Sweet, Little Dream - Morgan Straughan Comnick This review originally appears here: A Sweet little Dream – Review as well as at Amazon.

I had to sleep on this review, because I was struggling to decide whether I wanted to voice my complaints first, or last. I went to bed wanting to do it first, I woke up deciding to do it last. Now lets look and see why this book was so turbulent, that for the first time, I actually needed to sleep on a review first.

Where do I start?

I actually sat at the screen here wondering where to start for some time. I eventually had to play the music video for Anna Kendrick "Cups" three times to snap me into thinking straight. For some insane reason I associate this author with that artist, song, and video. I am still wrapped up in mixed feelings. Damn this woman...


Ok, this book is what I would describe as a "utility book". It contains a variety of different examples of writing, giving the reader much more than killing two birds with one stone, you actually get to knock out quite a few.

  • Poetry

  • Short Stories

  • Journal Entries

  • Scripts

  • Other Literary Works

  • Drawings


POETRY:

The one thing I loved was having the authors comments setting the stage throughout the entire book, but it was most appreciated in the poetry. *We will also come back to this later.*

The comments give the reader the true insight as to the foundation of the poem. You know how folks will get all bougie and pretentious about trying to "interpret" was the author was thinking and feeling? Well these descriptions so to speak, take all that opportunity for "deep posing" away, leaving the reader with simply digesting it for what it truly is, something rare to find in poetry.

Another thing is the point of view of the writing as related to age. Because this is work from youth, it means what it says, and says what it means. There is no adult political correctness, no trying to fit, no taking into account anything but the actual moment of space in time. Seeing the world through the eyes of youth can sometimes be the clearest vision one can have, because as adults, we lose our idealism through the jading of wisdom.

Nothing is more real than being a high school senior without a licence, waiting for your dad to pick you up at school, and coming to the eternally true observation that "Boys are Idiots".

As for thy SCRIPTS:

Thy scripts are both entertaining as thy are enlightening in a fun and free sort of way. Thy scripts give thy reader thy opportunity to remember what it is like to do the little Christmas play you wrote for the family in the front room, and soaking in the applause of unconditional love.

They give me the opportunity to feel good about hating both cats and dogs, and made me fall in love all over again with my Daughters, wishing the author was my Daughter, coming to chat with me about her wants and needs, and her enthusiasm over being a "flapper".

SHORT STORIES:

They are a very "mixed bag" of subject matter, with no one being even close to being like another. The two that stuck out in my mind were about a Daughter who came to understand her Father in her last moments of life, and a sister that better understood America, and the choices a woman has, Vis-à-vis her brother.

IN CLOSING:

The Ellis Island Journal entries reminded me of my duty as an American to continue to better understand my country, and her peoples.

The drawings were cute, and gave me a better appreciation of the little items I put on the refrigerator with the girls favorite butterfly magnets.

And because of my love for the content, I actually enjoyed the thanks as much as I did the content itself.

NOW...

The complaints. Brace yourself Ms. Comnick, you get the same level of honesty for both sides of the coin.

I have two pet peeves when it comes to books. #1 is not going to be discussed because it would be a HUGE RANT, so I will address #2.

Whitespace.

Now whitespace has its place in books, in fact, it is required in many instances. Without it, the book can become confusing, and it can disrupt proper formatting, so I don't even notice the normal appearance of it, but here?

Welcome to "Whitespace Hell".

This book is comprised of 210 pages, but in my estimation there cannot be much more than 100 pages of actual ink, what a complete waste of wood pulp! It annoyed the hell out of me from about page 5 five until the tribute to the choir director of her youth.

The comments/description appears on the page prior to the content itself appearing on the next page, and the comment page on average contains an average of %80 whitespace, along with the instance of the poems containing an average of %60 whitespace per page.

Lets talk about those comments/descriptions shall we?

What in the hell is that "blockquote" appearance? That only exacerbated the idiocy of the massive whitespace abuse.

I so wanted to get excited about the authors comments on each writing, but I just couldn't because the formatting of the comments being as ugly as sin. It is bad enough to run into weblogs that the theme coder was incapable of being original enough to make blockquotes more appealing than the average appearance of them, but to have to run into it in a book? And from beginning to end? Shoot me!

The formatting left me with the response of... "Eh ok, thanks for the info, I appreciate being better able to understand you... meh..."

It just sucked all of the energy out of the comments. I wanted to sit smiling, next to the author, and listen intently as she told me about the next writing she was going to read to me, but it ended up being more like her talking on her cell phone as she just told me in a second hand sort of enthusiasm. The formatting made her comments look and feel distant, as if she had failed to realize the true importance of them.

OVERALL:

The book itself is of good quality. The cover is attractive, the cover and paper are sturdy, as well as the binding. It is able to take on quite a bit of handling during reading, and stands up to pages pressed and bent. The ink was clear and dark, done very well, no smudges, no inconsistencies, readable font, overall a quality publishing.

I paid $8.09 at Amazon, and it was well worth it simply for the quality from the publisher. The content was truly the added value, that I would have paid as high as $10.90 for an Amazon price, in hindsight.

Why four stars, and not five?

The author said she was not including the entire of body of work in one book, but was planning on splitting it up into two volumes, which I see as a huge mistake, and a missed opportunity to release the entire work as a tome of her youth.

If she would have used the whitespace responsibly, maybe raising the page count as well, so that the entire collection could be presented, I would have been willing to pay as high as $14.10 for an Amazon price, and I would have been by no means "bored", and I doubt any other reader would have either.

Because I was deprived of the rest of the collection, I am depriving the author of the final star. I would have been better off never knowing that I was only given half of the work, than to be given a book with such amazing work surrounded by insulting whitespace, realizing that the rest of the collection could have been included in the empty/wasted space.

The final verdict? I loved it, and you will too. Thank you Ms. Comnick for giving me the opportunity to resurrect feelings from my youth, through the words of yours.

Little and the Moon

Little and the Moon - Justin Gloe This review originally appears here: Little and the Moon - Review as well as at Amazon.

So, I decided that I need to dedicate some of my time reviewing books that either my children read, I read to them, or of course, we simply read together. It is important to remember that even though we love to read, we need to remain cognizant of the little children staring at us, wanting or wondering what kind of fun WE are having, and maybe they can have fun with us, or on their own. What we read as children, is what brought us here today, so I chose this particular book to kickoff my first childrens book review.

I paid $5.64 with my Amazon Prime (If you are a reader, and you buy from Amazon, you know that price, and free 2 day shipping is unbeatable.) and I consider it a steal! Price plays a huge part in childrens books, NEVER let anyone tell you it doesn't.

It was only 32 pages, but after getting a good look at Amazon, and the profile of the author, (his pic reminded me of a surfer friend in Carlsbad, Calif. named Mike, so I was ok, HaHa) I decided to go with it, and I was really glad I did.

The cover and pages are sturdy, they will take a kids beating for quite a few reads, and re-reads, and here is something parents want to hear... There are blank pages in the back for those crayon scribbles you know are going to end up on it! There are lots of illustrations (black/white/shades of grey), and they cover the entire page, EVERY PAGE. So the likelihood of crayon scribbling is pretty low, because it is a lot of dark colors, which I say extends the reading life of the book itself. For parents, durability and continued re-readability is a huge factor in buying childrens books, and this is an above average value for the money.

I got down on the living room floor, and placed it flat so all 4 of my Daughters could see, and read it to them. The pages folded over well, and it laid flat very well for them all to see effortlessly. The print is rater larger than normal, so it allowed the older one to to see and read along.

So here is what I got from our time together, sharing the book...

My 6 year old female:

She got her blankie and pillow, it was nighttime when I read it. She liked touching the illustrations, and asked questions mostly about the landscape, she paid close attention, and focused on the illustrations as she listened. When all was said and done, she said "I loved it.", and asked if she could have the book after I was through reading it.

My 8 year old female:

She too was interested in touching the illustrations, asked questions about the landscape as well, and was trying to "finger track" (following the words with her finger as read.) which meant she was interested in following along with the text. She said "It was great, I loved it."

My 9 year old female (special needs):

My special needs child was interested in the "tabbit" itself, and followed along closely with his movements throughout the book, and wanted to touch the moon every time he tried/did. She did not comment on the book as a whole, but said she wanted to give the little "tabbit" a "big hug", and went to the window to look for the moon after the reading.

My 10 year old female:

She said the book was "cute", and was not really interested in reading along, and not so much the illustrations, though she did help explain the illustrations to the younger ones. There were only two words she did not know, and promptly asked for a definition. (vast and capsized) She loved just listening, and stayed interested, as she was able to discuss the questions with the other younger girls.

...They all four loved the illustration of the cave, touched the pages (even the 10 year old) and discussed the crystals for a few moments. That was the illustration that got the most attention.

When all was said and done, the book held up well having its paged pressed flat with every turn, and returned back to a pretty much flat form when closed. This book will take a bit of kid abuse. It was worth the spend, and even if you only get one read out of it, it was a fair and square five buck read.

Rejoice in Christ: Daily Insight From the Book of Mormon

Rejoice in Christ: Daily Insight From the Book of Mormon - Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen This review originally appears here:

Review - Rejoice in Christ

Is this particular devotional going to be of any real interest to anyone outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? No.

Is that ok? Is that a good thing? Sure it is.

With almost every devotional out on the market containing no references to “anything Mormon”, it is refreshing to see a Devotional designed specifically designed to take the LDS Church member through a daily living reading of messages from Church leaders, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, some scant Bible references, and just some plain old questions and comments to reflect on.

This devotional is not meant to be an apology for “Mormonism”, it was not written to defend, justify, it is simply what I would consider an excellent companion to your daily Bible devotional.

Many do not realize that LDS members in fact read and believe both the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, and this is a good opportunity to use this devotional to better understand the Bible, because read alongside a daily Bile devotional, it gives one a much greater insight into the Book of Mormon being “another testament of Jesus Christ”.

For the non-LDS apologist seeking to better know and understand the Judeo-Christian worldview from the “Mormon” POV, this devotional would be a great window into the local Ward/Branch, and its members in your city.

Listening to the words of Church leaders commenting on the works in the LDS canon, and how they should be applied to their members will very easily de-mystify the fear and misunderstanding generated by what other denominations apologists define as a “cult”.

Overall I would suggest this devotional to each and every member, of every stake across the world. It would make a great resource to turn every night into a FHE (Family Home Evening). What an opportunity it would be to share this devotional time with the kids, read to, and along with them.

HCSB SOLO: An Uncommon Devotional

HCSB SOLO: An Uncommon Devotional - Broadman Holman This Review originally appears here:

HCSB SOLO - Review

Unlike almost all devotionals, the SOLO is what I would consider a "24 hour" commitment.

Where we are historically used to a chosen scripture(s) to be read, maybe the addition of an assignment for a daily reading plan, and a commentary on the selected scripture, the SOLO takes on a more detailed approach, one that requires the reader to put the digestion and implementation of the material at a higher priority than the accomplishment of conquering the material.

How does it work?

  • The passage focused on is given.

  • An extended passage is given to elaborate on the focus.

  • Suggestions on ways the selection can be read to change or enhance view.

  • Instructions of the need to, and way to think and digest the focus.

  • Discussion on prayer over the focus, and possible petitions.

  • The implementation of the reading, thinking, and praying, to apply them to yourself.


The seventh day is used mainly as a reflection of the 6 days prior, and a re-assessment of that particular past week, something that also sets it apart from many Bible based devotions. No matter what day your Bible based Judeo-Christian worldview assigns as the "day of rest/Sabbath", the reading is easily adapted to, because it is not arranged by date, simply by days in order; 1,2,3... And the day of rest/Sabbath reflections better allow us to comprehend that it is a day of worship as well, a day to reflect on Yahweh/Yeshua, and their role in your life, as well as your role in their Will.

With so many devotionals out there catering to the most popular translations, it is wonderful to see such a heavy commitment to study using the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible), which has been quite up and coming, for quite some time now.

This is a quality trade paperback, well constructed, and will stand the test of a 365 day usage, and will allow for generous highlighting, as well as supplying ample room around the content for your own personal notes. If you are looking for a workhorse to attack the HCSB "head first", and give it the academic and personal attention of a full blown, in-depth, overall study of the Bible, this companion would be my first pick as a temporal tool.

The Bookstore

The Bookstore - Deborah Meyler This review originally appears here: http://www.guyvestal.com/home/the-bookstore-review/

When one reads reviews of this book from various venues, you see much of a rather "mixed bag" of either love it or hate it opinions, with not much middle ground.

The character at the center of the story is Esme Garland, a student at Columbia from Cambridge. She finds herself becoming pregnant whilst pursuing her PhD.

Is she frustrating much of the time? Yes.

Is her relationship with the Father of the child just as frustrating, and one that makes you wonder why she is involved with, and continues to try and make function the dysfunction that is at the center of the story? Yes.

Something that the "haters" of this character and the dysfunction in question, Mitchell, are missing in, their focus on Esme, is the surrounding cast of characters, and the very physical landscape itself.

The Bookstore (The Owl), its employees, its customers, and the visuals of The city (New York) are where I kept the focus of the story at. Esme's dysfunctional relationship is par for the course in Western Civilization, ergo when one treats it with the reality of either our own trials and tribulations, or as first hand witnesses of the troubles of others, we can see that it is the friends around us, and our everyday landscape that is at the center of our support system, that gets us and others through to the other side.

This is indeed the case with this story. The Bookstore and everything about and around it, is the real story here, and its main character is just the vessel used to expose the little things in life that we take for granted, the things that go by with little to no fanfare.

If you are a lover of books, or maybe a lover of New York, or simply just a lover of tight knit communities, as well as the people, places, and environment that makes up a neighborhood, then this story is for you. Yes, Esme is the central character, but if you look at her as a tour guide, you can find yourself immersed in the neighborhood, buying flowers, shopping at the Korean deli, chatting with the local street people, and sorting through the books to be shelved and later rifled through by the very people you look forward to seeing everyday.