*I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book*
In the author’s words:
“Fran is adjusting after her husband’s death when her first love comes back to town upsetting her family and leading her to inspiration. Fran first fell in love with Michael as a teenager. When he broke her heart, she married Carl and lived a happy life for more than thirty years until Carl died tragically. Just when she’s becoming fed up with the well-meaning, yet tiresome comments about Carl’s death, her first love returns, and stirs long-forgotten emotions. Rescue dogs and a love resurrected bring a sweet Christmas celebration to the Smoky Mountains.”
I like nothing better than finding a character from a previous book starring in their own book! That is exactly what P. C. Zick did. I read and reviewed Mountain Miracles (click here to read the review) and the character of Fran, was a real standout! This novel is a continuation of Mountain Miracles and one of the sweetest romances. Not only that, but the characters leap off the page as if you already know them.
Fran does the baking for Beanery Joe’s, a local coffee shop owned by Cecelia Jones. Fran’s husband, Carl, is recently deceased. Life has dealt a blow to Fran, and she isn’t sure how to cope.
The one shining light that helps to keep Fran moving forward is the impending marriage of her friends, Cecelia Jones and David Bellwood. When David’s father, Michael shows up to attend the wedding, Fran realizes he is her long lost boyfriend from high school. It doesn’t take long for the old sparks to ignite feelings that Fran and Michael had hidden for years.
The fact that Michael betrayed her and married someone else complicates their friendship. To make matters worse, Fran’s son Nick, and Michael’s son, David, struggle with their parents new found relationship. Fran’s memories of Carl and their life together muddle things further ensuing in plenty of fireworks.
Fran is one of the most endearing characters I have read in a long time. I really connected with her and felt the pain of her loss, and the joy of her new love. P. C. Zick deftly spins a love story that is poignant and real. If I met Fran today, I would want her as my friend.
This story is more a journey of healing for both families. It centers on dealing with life and the choices we made in the past and learning how to forgive, and move on. The theme of getting a second chance at love resonates through the entire story.
I read quickly to find out what happened next. I could not put the book down. If you love a romance where the characters walk off the page to meet you, this is the book for you. It was a “me time” read and I loved it! ❤
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate:5 out of 5 stars
Author, P. C. Zick
About P. C. Zick:
P.C. Zick describes herself as a storyteller no matter what she writes. And she writes in a variety of genres, including romance, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction.
The three novels in her Florida Fiction Series contain stories of Florida and its people and environment, which she credits as giving her a rich base for her storytelling. “Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply my fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.”
Her contemporary romances in the Behind the Love trilogy are also set in Florida. Her most recent works are set in the Smoky Mountains. All of her books are stand-alone reads, even if they appear in a series.
Her novels contain elements of romance with strong female characters, handsome heroes, and descriptive settings. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion, and through her fiction, she imparts this philosophy in an entertaining manner with an obvious love for her characters, plot, and themes.
Those of you who follow my reviews will know that I’m forever talking about narrators and how interesting I find them. The ‘unreliable narrator‘ can be put to very good use by authors, not only mystery writers, but also writers of other genres.
An unreliable narrator, a term first used by Wayne C. Booth in 1961, is somebody who in work of fiction tells the story, but whose version of the truth leaves a lot to be desired. There are many different classifications and definitions and I thought I’d share some articles about the subject, in case you’re thinking about using it. And a few lists of favourite unreliable narrators (I’m sure you have your own).
The link above, from Wikipedia, suggests a possible classification or different types, for example, narrators who are liars, who are mentally ill, children or immature, pícaros…
This link from Now Novel offers a general description and discussion of the term, with some clear examples.
Half a Step Away From Love reminded me a lot of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It follows Inessa Antego, who is the first lady-in-waiting to be the Duke’s sister. She does everything in order to please her mistress–be it aid in the escape of a secret lover, steal portrait, etc. However, duties are being threatened by the desires of her own heart: Lord Cameron Estley.
This novel was originally written as a bestseller in Russia, which I thought was pretty neat to receive a request to review with Olga Kuno being an indie author in America. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. No, it wasn’t perfect in the translation from Russian to English, but I honestly don’t expect that in most book translations. So, no problem there.
I wasn’t too fond of the way the story opened because it seemed as though it would be a third person narrative, then a few paragraphs later, Inessa barges into the room and we find that it’s in her first person point of view. It was confusing at first but didn’t disrupt my reading too long since the opening was short. The narrative included a lot of adverbs…a bit too many. Other than those instances, the prose was extremely nicely done. In my opinion, the story overshadowed the few downfalls.
The author created each of her characters very well…they popped out of the pages, claiming life of their own. I especially loved the heroine, Inessa, as she was very witty, very knowledgeable and very loyal. Much like Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice fought against her feelings for Mr. Darcy, Inessa couldn’t help her feelings with Lord Estley, a man she claims to dislike. I found myself quite amused by the conversations with Inessa and her companions. And to top it off, she even had a friend that was a palace ghost who helped her with mischievous duties.
If you enjoy Jane Austen, and you enjoy twists, tears, and humor, then I’d say go for Half a Step Away From Love. You won’t be disappointed.
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
Born in Moscow and having left Russia in 1991, Olga Kuno has lived in Europe, Asia and America. Having completed her Ph.D. in linguistics, she started writing fantasy romance novels. Today she is both a lecturer in linguistics and a famous Russian fantasy writer who tries hard not to mention princes, dragons and magicians in her scientific articles. Her interests include British folklore, linguistic analysis of humor and animal communication. Among her favorite authors are such English writers as Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and J. R. R. Tolkien, which is definitely reflected in her novels.
We’ve all shared tips on how to write every day and how to fight that devil, procrastination. Or in other words, how to nip our laziness in the bud. Laziness is indeed a real thing, but often when we think that that’s exactly what our problem is, it isn’t. It’s overwhelm. Beating ourselves up with a whole lot of self-recrimination doesn’t help either. Feeling bad about yourself in general isn’t going to give you a fabulous boost of creativity or spur you to action. More than likely you’ll just spend the whole day playing Candy Crush and then top off your day eating piles of pizza while pondering your uselessness as a writer and in general. The secret to avoiding this is to know your real enemy.
We’re all very similar. All day long most of us are inundated with reasons to fail at whatever it is that we’re doing. We have lots to do as well as our writing. Family responsibilities, marketing, day jobs, and the list goes on. Then when we do sit down to write we freeze right up and not a single word comes out. A few angsty minutes staring at the blank screen, and then hello pizza, TV, and self-recrimination.
Next time this happens to you, before setting in motion the usual procrastination-busting sequences like clearing up your work space and forcing yourself to just dive in to any first sentence, take a deep breath and have a look at whether or not you have reason to feel overwhelmed. Then be kind to yourself. Break things down. Go slow. One sentence at a time is fine. One word at a time. It’s a common human behavior when faced with something that doesn’t seem doable to freeze and do nothing at all. You have your fight or flight instincts which are quite common and discussed often, and your freeze instinct fits in with them. These days in the modern world where we don’t often have to physically defend ourselves or run for the hills, many of us find those instincts coming into play on an emotional level and often wreaking havoc with the way we live our lives. The freeze instinct can be just as damaging as the punch or run. Often when what faces us seems frighteningly undoable by us, instinct tries to save us with the old immobilize and ignore. No matter how much we want to write, we just can’t seem to start.
A good exercise here is to realise that it’s a feeling generated by inappropriate fear blown out of all proportion. Be kind to yourself and accept that the fear is reasonable to you though, and then stay right where you are and let it come. Don’t head for the pizza until the anxiety goes away. Consider that even though you might write something not particularly fabulous it won’t be the end of the world. Writing nothing will never expose you to be a rotten scribbler, but ask yourself if the stress levels of staring at the blank screen and the extra poundage from avoiding it are worth it.
Accepting that you feel overwhelmed either by the thought of writing, or the enormity of writing a whole book in the little time that you have available, and giving yourself a little imaginary hug is a great step to getting words on paper again. If you can only write two words an hour, give yourself kudos for trying rather than self abuse for the teeny wordcount. Often tough love is not what’s needed when the story won’t come out. Try a little bit a self sympathy instead, and just do the best that you can. Recognise that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed. You’re human. That’s a lot more conducive to being able to write than calling yourself lazy.
“How far would you have walked to gain your high school education?
From an early age, the greatest passion in Boitumelo Tumelo’s life is learning. Boi, as she is known to her friends and family, just loves going to school. Her primary school is in the local village, but when she graduates to secondary school, two obstacles stand in the path to her further education. Firstly, there are fees to be paid. Secondly, it is eleven miles to the nearest secondary school. She would have to get up very early, and walk that long distance to school every day, and walk home after school. There are many potential dangers along the remote African track between her village and her school.
This is the inspiring story of how Boi overcomes the obstacles and dangers to gain the education that she so desires. Not only does she achieve her ambitions, but she manages to make life better for the children of her village who wish to follow in her footsteps.
Eleven Miles is a fictional story based upon a true-life situation in Botswana. Until the target of Princess Boikanyo’s School Bus Project is achieved, 50% of all profits from the sales of this book will go into the project funds.”
Open the pages of this book and slip inside the existence of Boitumelo Tumelo, a young girl from Botswana, who leads the reader on an incredible journey from her childhood into adulthood in a world fraught with difficulty and strife. Boi’s life humbled me with her compelling story and the bravery and determination she exhibited to achieve her dreams.
Boi is a gifted child who lives in abject poverty. She faces cruelty and stares down social injustices. Food is scarce, and many mornings she begins the laborious eleven-mile walk to school on a breakfast fueled by a crust of bread. Life is not comfortable in her village, and it is a struggle just to survive.
Her parents, grandparents, and her older brothers contribute their hard-earned cash to send her and her brother to school. Not only is this considered an honor, but it is also a calling. Boi realizes early, that if she is to succeed in life, she must get an education.
Like the proverbial sponge, Boi soaks up one academic challenge after another, and her hard work and determination finally pay off. But it is her commitment to change that grabs the reader. Boi realizes that if she runs the miles to school and back, she will have more time to dedicate to her studies. Her ingenuity is stunning.
Boi turns the daily obstacle of the eleven-mile walk to school into an active endeavor. After running twenty-two miles a day, Boi discovers her real gift, that of becoming a long distance runner.
I had this book in my “To be read,” pile for quite some time and couldn’t wait to read it. The story did not disappoint. I loved Boi’s story from start to finish, and I enjoyed the cultural elements the story provided. Lance Greenfield Mitchell takes you on a journey to a place far away from our western philosophy. I wish Boi’s story became mandatory reading for young people everywhere so they could appreciate their advantages. I know it made me appreciate the many opportunities I have enjoyed.
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 4 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Author, Lance Greenfield Mitchell
My name is Lance Greenfield Mitchell.
Before you ask, my natural father’s name is Greenfield. My Step-dad’s name was Mitchell. So, I changed my name by deed poll when I left school, from Lance Greenfield to Lance Mitchell, to avoid confusion. My Step-dad, whom I loved, died. I eventually got back in touch with my real Dad, who, unbeknownst to me, had been banned by the courts from contacting me. I didn’t know that till I tracked him down. To avoid confusion, I added the Greenfield back in as a middle name.
Confused? So am I!!!
I live in Andover, Hampshire, Southern England, but I sometimes wonder where I am or where I come from! I have visited about eighty countries in my life. I just love traveling and immersing myself in different languages, cuisines, and cultures.
Because of family complexity, I attended ten schools, the last of which was HMS Conway, a Naval school in North Wales.
I was in the military for 22 years, Royal Navy AND Army (Royal Engineers) before going into technology as a second career in civvie street. I am now a VP of an international software company, and I fly around the planet a lot. What time is it?!
I started writing reviews as part of the BBC RAW (Read and Write) campaign a few years ago. There was huge enthusiasm for my reviews, so I resolved to publish a review for every book that I read. I publish my reviews on amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, goodreads.com and waterstones.com.
In my spare time, I started writing a couple of novels about eight years ago. They are still not finished!
Two years ago, I was part of a group read for a book from the erotica genre, which I wouldn’t normally have read. Not only did I enjoy it, but I thought that I could maybe do better.
I like erotica for the double-A. That is AROUSAL and AMUSEMENT. There are very good authors in this genre. One of my favourites is Chloe Thurlow. She’s great!
I got so into it that I wrote a couple of short stories and shared them with a select few friends who loved them. They encouraged me to write an anthology, which I have now completed.
Two publishers rejected my stories, so I have now self-published on Amazon. I don’t know if my work is any good. I like to think so, but that is for others to judge.
The title is “When Pleasure Blooms.”
If you do take the time to read it, please leave a review. Receiving criticism, good or bad, is the only way that I can hope to improve.
My all-time favorite book of any genre has to be “Skallagrigg” by William Horwood.
I have three grown up children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Hence my comment about being too busy in the opening paragraph.
My eldest son is a tattoo artist, and he recently persuaded me to have some artwork on my skin. It only took him ten years to get me into his studio! I now have two tattoos and will have two more very soon. Take a look at the photos on my GR profile if you want to see them.
Eleven Milesis a fictional story based upon a true-life situation in Botswana. Until the target of Princess Boikanyo’s School Bus Project is achieved, 50% of all profits from the sales of this book will go into the project funds. In the meantime, please feel free to make additional contributions to this worthy cause by clicking on the project link.
The first book of John Heldt I read was book number three of his American Journey series, Indiana Belle, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Class of ’59 is the fourth installment. As with Indiana Belle, you don’t have to read the others in order to enjoy this one.
As I began to delve into Class of ’59, I fell in love with the story line. All the characters were easy to love. The only thing that seemed to bother me, though not for long, was Mary Beth seemed too quick and willing to trust that Mark, a stranger who entered and exited the very house she was staying, was from the past.
Mary Beth, along with her sister–Piper–spends time with the two young men who lived in the past–Mark and his brother, Sam. The four embark on a journey they will never forget. Piper and Mary Beth decide to live in 1959 for a while and have the experience of a lifetime–Piper enrolls into Ben’s school, Mary Beth spends time with Mark. The sisters easily begin to fall for the brothers, which results in the quandary you’d expect–what happens when they realize that their time together must come to an end.
Class of ’59 takes you back to a time when everything was simpler. The dialogue was amazing and captivating. The plot moved forward at a fast pace and keeps you yearning for more. At the end of each chapter, I kept telling myself that I’ll read just one more chapter–before I knew it, it was ten o’clock at night and I’d finished the novel in one day. I highly recommend it.
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.
Sorry to be posting this review earlier than I planned, but I was informed that the title was running a promotion on Bookbub on the 20th and I thought that might give everybody a good chance to get a copy if you fancy it or you want to see what you think, but it will be on offer in Goodreadsuntil the 26th too.
Here it comes!
The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
October 18, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN 9781492637257
Title: The Other Einstein
Author: Marie Benedict
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Praise for The Other Einstein
October 2016 Indie Next and LibraryReads Pick!
PopSugar’s “25 Books You’re Going to Curl Up with this Fall”
“The Other Einstein takes you into Mileva’s heart, mind, and study as she tries to forge a place for herself in a scientific world dominated by men.”– Bustle
“…an ENGAGING and THOUGHT PROVOKING fictional telling of the poignant story of an overshadowed woman scientist.”– Booklist
“…INTIMATE and IMMERSIVE historical novel….
Prepare to be moved by this provocative history of a woman whose experiences will resonate with today’s readers.”– Library Journal, Editors’ Fall Picks
“Many will enjoy Benedict’s feminist views and be fascinated by the life of an almost unknown woman.”– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Benedict’s debut novel carefully traces Mileva’s life—from studious schoolgirl to bereaved mother—with attention paid to the conflicts between personal goals and social conventions. An intriguing… reimagining of one of the strongest intellectual partnerships of the 19th century.”–Kirkus
“In her compelling novel… Benedict makes a strong case that the brilliant woman behind [Albert Einstein] was integral to his success, and creates a rich historical portrait in the process.”–Publishers Weekly
A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and worked with one of the greatest scientists in history.
What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Maric_, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.
But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever. A literary historical in the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.
Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in history and art history and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.
Thanks to NetGalley and to Sourcebooks Landmark for offering me an ARC copy of the book. I voluntarily decided to review it.
We’ve all heard the saying: ‘Behind every great man there’s a great woman’ in its many different versions. It’s true that for centuries men (or many men of the wealthy classes with access to education) could dedicate themselves to artistic, scientific or business pursuits because the everyday things were taken care of by their wives or other women in their lives (mothers, relatives, partners…) As Virginia Wolf wrote in ‘A Room of One’s Own’ women had a harder time of it, as they were expected to take care of the house, family, and ensure that their husbands came back to a place where they would be looked after and tended too. Unless women were independently wealthy and could count on the support (financial, emotional and practical) of the men in their lives, it was very hard, if not impossible, to pursue a career in the arts or the sciences.
Mary Benedict’s book explores the life of Mitza Maric, who would later become Einstein’s first wife, from the time of her arrival in Zurich (as one of only a few female students at the university) to the time when she separates from her husband. Maric is an intriguing figure (and I must admit I hadn’t read anything about her before) and an inspiring one, as she had to go against the odds (being a woman at a time were very few women could study at university, suffering from hip dysplasia, that left her with a limp and difficulty in undertaking certain physical tasks) and managed to study and be respected for her knowledge of Physics and Maths.
The book is written in the first person, and we get a close look at Maric´s thoughts, emotions and doubts. The early part of the book is a very good read, with descriptions of the social mores of the era, Mitza’s family, the development of her friendship with the other female students at the lodgings, the intellectual atmosphere and café society of that historical period, and of course, Mr Einstein, whom he meets at University. Mitza believed (like her parents) that due to her physical disability she would never marry, and lived resigned to the idea, having decided to dedicate her life to her research, studies and the academic life she craved. And then… Einstein arrives.
The Einstein depicted by the book is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character. He’s friendly, humorous and charming, and also, of course, a brilliant scientist, but can be selfish, egotistical and cares nothing for anybody who is not himself. We see more of the first Einstein at the beginning of the relationship, through their interaction, walks, scientific discussions… Einstein opens the world for Mitza, and if she had been enjoying the company of the other girls, she later neglects them for the world of scientific discussion among men, where she gains entry thanks to Einstein.
When, after much hesitation, Mitza decides to visit Einstein and spend a few days with him in Lake Como, the two of them alone, the book becomes more melodramatic and things start going very wrong. Mitza gets pregnant, Einstein keeps making excuses not to get married yet, and resentment sets in. If I mentioned that Einstein is a Jekyll and Hyde character, Mitza, who was always shy but determined and stubborn, also changes; she becomes sad, hesitant, and she seems unable to follow her own path. In the book, there is much internal discussion and debate, as on the one hand she does not like Einstein’s behaviour, but on the other, she tries to see things from her mother’s point of view and do what’s right for the child.
As some reviewers have noted (and the writer acknowledges in her notes at the back of the book), it’s a fact that they had a daughter out of wedlock, but it’s not clear what happened to her, and that makes the later part of the book, at least for me, stand on shakier grounds. That is always a difficulty with historical fiction, whereby to flesh out the story authors must make decisions, interpreting events and sometimes filling in gaps. In some cases, this is more successful than others, and it might also depend on the reader and their ability to suspend disbelief.
The author comes up with an explanation for the possible origin of the theory of relativity, closely linked to Mitza’s faith (and I know there have been debate as to how much Einstein’s wife contributed to it, and she definitely did contribute, although most likely not as much as is suggested in the book) that hinges around a dramatic event affecting their daughter, the problem being (from a historical point of view) that there’s no evidence it ever took place. That event, as depicted in the text, has a major impact in later parts of the novel and seems to underline all of the later difficulties the couple has, although Einstein’s behaviour, his reluctance to include his wife’s name in any of the articles or patents, the time he spends away, and his infidelities don’t help.
I found it difficult to reconcile the woman of the beginning of the book with the beaten down character of the later part of the book, although there are some brief flashes of her former self, like when she converses with Marie Curie. Although there is much self-justification for her continuing to live with Einstein given the circumstances (she is doing it for the children, she still hopes he will seek her ideas and collaboration and they’ll end up working together), one wonders how the strong and determined woman of the beginning can end up tolerating such a frustrating life (especially once Albert becomes well known and their financial difficulties end). There is also no evidence that she sought to rekindle her career once she was no longer with Einstein, and one can’t help but wonder if perhaps their relationship, at least early on, was also a source of inspiration for her too.
I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Mitza Maric, and in particular about the era and the difficulties women had to face then, although I would have preferred to be more aware of where the facts ended and author creativity started whilst reading the book, as I was never sure if some of the inconsistencies within the characters were due to their own experiences and circumstances, or to the reimagining of some parts of the story, that perhaps ends up transforming it into a more typical narrative of the woman whose ambitions and future die due to marriage, children and a less than enlightened husband. (It reminded me at times of Revolution Road, although in this instance both of the characters are talented, whilst there…) The author provides sources for further reading and research at the end that will prove invaluable to those interested in digging further.
In sum, this book highlights the figure of a woman worth knowing better; it can work as the starting point for further research and fascinating discussions, and it is eminently readable. People looking for specific scientific information or accurate personal facts might need to consult other books as this is definitely a fictionalisation.
And now, if you want to check the book, you’re in luck!
Thanks so much to NetGalley, Sourcebooks Landmark and to the author for her novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!
There are lots of fabulous fonts around these days for us to use in our paperback books, and I think that making them visually attractive as well as wonderful to read is a great idea. Using a plain font for most of the body text is best, but there is no reason not to create great looking chapter headings, or using old typewriter fonts to make letters or notes stand out in your stories. Some fonts are made by hobbyists and offered online free for use commercially so it’s always necessary to check that they are embedded in your manuscript when you load it up to CreateSpace or any other POD system.
“In order to print your book, our printing presses need information about how to properly render the fonts used in your file. Information about fonts is not always included in documents by default, and you may need to take extra steps to explicitly embed fonts when you save your file. We recommend that you always embed fonts within your file in order to have your book print as intended.”
When you’re finished your book and ready to format for paper, click on the Microsoft icon and select Word Options.
Click on Save from the menu on the left hand side. Tick the box beside Embed fonts in file, and make sure that the two boxes beneath that are not ticked, and click OK.
Regardless of which word-processing software you use, to make sure that all fonts are embedded in your final PDF file, open it, and click on File and then Properties.
Select the Font tab. Each font used in the manuscript will be listed there and you can confirm that all are embedded and that your book will be printed exactly as you want it to be as far as text is concerned.
This short story fiction work, Murder and More is what the author calls “Fiction for Fun.” It uses real places and real geography to spin a story that didn’t happen, but should be fun for the mystery reader. As a quick read, those familiar with the early 1960’s geography in the novel, will travel back in time to places that will always be remembered. This is the fourteenth story in the Carson Reno series. The other books are available in paperback, hardback and e-book formats. Some are also offered as an audiobook. His book, Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time to Go, is a non-fiction collection of stories, events and humorous observations from his life. Many friends and readers will find themselves in one of his adventures or stories.
Murder and More is a quite intriguing story. The author does well to take the readers back in history. The scenery were very well described, the characters three-dimensional and interesting. The story pops out from the pages and you’re really just watching a movie–that’s how engrossing it was…for me, anyway.
This is the fourteenth installment of the Carson Reno series but is a stand alone. We get the sense of who Carson is without knowing anything about this novel’s predecessors.
Carson is a very likable man, but I had trouble discerning how old he was. Sometimes he seemed to be in his mid-thirties, while other times he appeared to be much older. Either way, he gets his job done well.
Throughout the novel were various photos which help remind us that it’s set back in time. While I enjoyed the old-time landscaping and sign photos at times, some of the photos were beginning to become a bit of a nuisance, making it more of a picture book.
I did rather enjoy reading Murder and More. It was a quick, easy read, kept me guessing, and I became so engrossed in the story telling that I managed to finish in one day. I highly recommend the story, whether you’ve followed along with Carson Reno in the past or not.
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
A Florida native, Gerald grew up in the small town of Humboldt, Tennessee. He attended high school and was a graduate of HHS class of 64. Following graduation from the University of Tennessee, he spent time in Hopkinsville, KY, Memphis, TN and Newport, AR before moving back to Florida – where he now lives. During the early 70’s the author actually worked from an office in the Memphis Peabody Hotel. So many of the events about the hotel in Carson Reno’s stories are real as well as many of the characters you meet.
His fiction books are what he calls ‘Fiction for Fun’. They use real geography and include pictures and characters some readers might recognize. The ‘Carson Reno Mystery Series’ features adventure mysteries set in the early 1960 time period. The primary geography is Memphis and West Tennessee, but Carson’s stories take the reader across the United States and occasionally to foreign countries. Each story is considered light reading and is rated PG for everyone’s enjoyment. You are invited to pick your character and put yourself in the ‘play’. You might find it fun!
The reader will experience character continuation through all the stories and enjoy the growth of the core characters with each new adventure.
Current published ‘Carson Reno Mysteries’ include ‘Murder in Humboldt’, ‘The Price of Beauty in Strawberry Land’, ‘Killer Among Us’, ‘Horse Tales’, ‘the Crossing’, ‘Sunset 4’, ‘the Everglades’, ‘The Illegals’, ‘Dead Men Don’t Remember’ ,’Fingerprint Murders’,’Reelfoot’, ‘Justifiable Homicide’, ‘Dead End’ and ‘Murder and More’.
Gerald’s non-fiction book ‘Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time To Go’ includes stories and events spanning time from pre-high school to his now retirement in Florida. As an avid hunter and fisherman, many of the events involve activities and stories from his personal outdoor adventures. As a business executive, and extensive traveler, he gives us some playful observations accumulated from the millions of miles he traveled across the US. As someone who loves animals and adventure, he offers thoughts and observations that are probably outside most reader’s imagination. Not a ‘tell all’ narratives, real names and real people are included. If you know the author, you might find yourself – or one of your adventures – included. If not, I’m certain you will find a real familiarity with the stories and the times chronicled in the book. A must read if you enjoy hunting, enjoy humor and can laugh at yourself – while others are also laughing at you.
Genres: Sword & Sorcery, Sports, Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult
*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*
In the Author’s Words:
“Agben had stood for a thousand years. A mysterious school housing more than students, it was the seat of the powerful Women of Agben and the center for harnessing the potency of herbs. Few knew all that transpired within the walls.
And now Marra stood at its gate.
With friends and support stripped from her, the fragile life she’d built for herself now lays in tatters. And the source of this evil hunted her like a deer culled from the herd. The gateway before her was her only hope.
For as the city itself crumbled, all depended not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the valiant men who’d brought them this far. Everything depended on finding a magic powder in the vaults of Agben itself.
Everything depended on her.”
The second book in the series takes place in Missea. The third book, “The Dim Continent,” is in the works, and will be the last in the series. However, I’ll probably write more stories in this world because I won’t be able to resist.
From the Inside Flap: Hiding from an evil that stripped away friends and support, a young woman discovers the future of her race depends not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the heroic men who’d brought them this far. Everything depends on her.
The Agben School is the exciting sequel to The Birr Elixir which I read and reviewed here.
The story resumes with Marra and the Truemen team finally arriving in the land of Missea, where Tryst is a Skullan prince, although nobody knows his real identity. The Skullan and the Trumen are the gamesmen. The Trumen are the smaller, weaker race, while the Skullan is the physically superior race which rules the kingdom.
New to the city, Marra looks for a shop where she can buy herbs for her elixir for the team. The boy running the shop presents her with a mysterious box. She keeps it hidden, not knowing its actual use, or who it was meant for. As a Truemen, Marra is required to be subservient to the Skullan, so she keeps her secret.
Marra’s herbalist skills out surpass many other Bristas. It is revealed that she possesses an acute sense of smell, a gift so rare, it earns her a coveted place as a student at the school. Once there, she learns the Women of Agben are the most powerful in Missea. There is a mystical magic found in the potions and elixirs created and taught at the institution. However, there is a dark magic that hangs over the palace. Soon it becomes apparent that only Marra can rid Missea of the evil malignancy growing within the castle walls and possibly within the Agben school.
Weaving throughout the story is the game of Comet. The “game” is played in an arena with two opposing teams. At an inner circle in the field, a line is drawn in the sand by a judge. It is forbidden for the teams to cross the line until the judge allows it. There is much jockeying for the balls by both team members. Four leather balls need to be dropped into a cone shaped area to score points, which are determined by the judge. Each ball contains distinctive markings which ascertain the number of points each ball is worth. As contact sports go, I envisioned the game to be a combination of football and hockey with players participating in a competition to the death to win, if necessary.
The author, Jo Sparkes, skillfully weaves a story within a fantasy kingdom that leaves you wanting more. The detail about the Agben School and the study of herbs was excellent. There is quite the mystery here, and I am sure all will be revealed in the final book of the series, The Dim Continent.
I must add that this book could stand alone because the main details from The Birr Elixir are intertwined within the pages of the story. Even so, I loved the first book and would encourage everyone to read it. The rich descriptions put you right into the action, and you feel like you are peeking over Marra’s shoulder waiting to learn her fate.
If you love epic fantasy with the added excitement of tournament games, you will love this book and the series.
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 4 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate:4.5 out of 5 stars
Author, Jo Sparks
About Jo Sparks:
From television shows to articles for Arizona Sports Fans Network, Jo’s been writing for years. She’s taught screenwriting at the Film School at SCC, interviewed Emmit Smith and Anquan Boldin (as Arizona Cardinals), and went on camera to make “Stepping Above Criticism.”
Her fantasy ‘The Birr Elixir’ was awarded a Silver Ippy; her script ‘Frank Retrieval’ won the Kay Snow Award.
She’s probably most recognized as the lady walking her dog in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize and chosen by David Sedaris as his recommended book for his Fall 2016 tour.
So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes—a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a place feels appropriate. In a week, I would run away from home and never go back.
This is the story of how I disappeared.
The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.
Played out against the snowy landscape of coastal New England in the days leading up to Christmas, young Eileen’s story is told from the gimlet-eyed perspective of the now much older narrator. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimely funny, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary literature.
“Eileen is a remarkable piece of writing, always dark and surprising, sometimes ugly and occasionally hilarious. Its first-person narrator is one of the strangest, most messed-up, most pathetic—and yet, in her own inimitable way, endearing—misfits I’ve encountered in fiction. Trust me, you have never read anything remotely like Eileen.” —Washington Post
“What makes Moshfegh an important writer—and I’d even say crucial—is that she is unlike any other author (male, female, Iranian, American, etc.). And this sui generis quality is cemented by the singular savage suburban noir of Eileen. . . . Here is art that manages to reject artifice and yet be something wholly new and itself in sheer artistry.” —The Los Angeles Times
“Eileen is anything but generic. Eileen is as vivid and human as they come . . . Moshfegh . . . writes beautiful sentences. One after the other they unwind — playful, shocking, wise, morbid, witty, searingly sharp. The beginning of this novel is so impressive, so controlled yet whimsical, fresh and thrilling, you feel she can do anything . . . There is that wonderful tension between wanting to slow down and bathe in the language and imagery, and the impulse to race to see what happens, how it happens.” —The New York Times Book Review
“The great power of this book, which won the PEN/Hemingway debut fiction award last month, is that Eileen is never simply a literary gargoyle; she is painfully alive and human, and Ottessa Moshfegh writes her with a bravura wildness that allows flights of expressionistic fantasy to alternate with deadpan matter of factness…As an evocation of physical and psychological squalor, Eileen is original, courageous and masterful.” —The Guardian
Body of review:
Thanks to NetGalley and to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Jonathan Cape, for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel that I have freely chosen to review.
I confess that I did look at some of the reviews on this novel before writing mine and they are very evenly divided. Some people love it and others can’t stand it. Yes, I guess it’s a Marmite kind of novel. Why? Having checked the novel in several online stores I noticed that it is classified under mystery novels, and if lovers of the genre of mystery read this novel I suspect many of them are bound to feel cheated or disappointed. Literary fiction, which is another one of the categories it is classified under, perhaps is a better fit.
The story is an in-depth look at a character, the Eileen of the title, who is narrating an episode of her own life, in the first person. It is not strictly written as a memoir. As I observed recently when reviewing a novel also told from the point of view of the older character looking back and reflecting at her young self (in that case it was Anne Boleyn), these kinds of books have the added interest for the reader of trying to work out how much of what is being told is filtered by the wishes of the older person to provide a positive portrayal of their young selves. In this case, what is quite shocking is that either that younger Eileen had no endearing features, or the older Eileen is trying to make herself feel better and reassure herself that she’s come a very long way, indeed.
Eileen is a lonely young woman (twenty-four at the time of the episode she describes), whose mother died years back, who has a very superficial relationship with her only sister (who no longer lives at home and who seems to be very different), and who lives with her father, a retired policeman, an alcoholic and paranoid man, who sees hoodlums and conspiracies everywhere. From the mentions she makes of her mother and her past experiences, her childhood was also sad and the opposite of nurturing, with both parents drinking heavily, and neither of them having any interest in family life (and even less in Eileen, as her sister seemed to be the favourite). She lives in a derelict house, drives an old car with exhaust problems, works at a young boy’s prison, and has no friends or hobbies, other than shoplifting and looking at National Geographic magazines. She lives in a world of fantasy, and even her physiological functions are bizarre.
In some ways, the novel reminded me of Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller because of the narrator, who was also very self-absorbed and had no empathy for anybody, although in that case, it wasn’t evident from the star. Here, Eileen sees and observes things carefully as if cataloguing everything that happens, but has nothing good to say about anybody, apart from the people she gets crushes on (however undeserving they might be).
The novel, full of details which can be seen as sad, shocking, or bizarre but humane depending on our point of view, hints from the beginning at something momentous that is going to happen and has influenced the choice of the point at which the story starts. A couple of new employees come to work at the prison and Rebecca, a young and glamorous woman (at least from Eileen’s point of view) becomes Eileen’s new obsession. She tries her best to deserve this woman’s attention and that gets her in some trouble that I guess it the mystery part (and I won’t discuss to avoid spoilers, even though as I said I don’t think the novel fits in that genre easily, although perhaps it shares similarities with some classics of the genre, and I’ve seen mentions of Patricia Highsmith. Ripley, perhaps?). From the reviews, I saw that some readers were disappointed by the ending, although it fits in well with the rest of the book. (And from the point of view of the character, at least, it feels positive.)
The novel is beautifully written (although the content itself is not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination), detailed and fantastically observed, and it works as an impressive psychological study, that had me wondering about all kinds of personality disorder types of diagnosis (although the whole family are depicted as very dysfunctional). It is difficult to empathise with such a character, although she seems to be an extreme representation of somebody with low self-esteem and completely self-obsessed (and at a lesser level, even if we might not feel comfortable acknowledging it, most of us have contemplated some of her thoughts or feelings at some point). She is relentless in her dislike for almost everybody and everything, but even her older self remains unapologetic (and well, it takes guts to just not care at all). I could not help but wonder how much better she is now, despite her words, as her comments indicate that she hasn’t changed an iota. If anything, she’s come into herself. But I guess self-acceptance is a big change for her.
I found it a fascinating novel, a case study of the weird and disturbed, pretty noir, but not a read I would recommend everybody. (After all, I’m a psychiatrist…) It is not a feel-good or a nice novel to read but it might be for you if you like weirdly compelling characters and are happy to go with a narrator who is not sympathetic at all. I don’t think I’ll forget Eileen or its author in a hurry.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 4.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 3.5/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4/5
Captain Lincoln’s last day is the hardest day of his life.
An old, onetime Captain of the interstellar spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal, Lincoln always knew that this day would come. For just as birthdays are carefully planned, so are deaths. And although he must reckon with his fate, this is not a somber story. It is a tale of love and sacrifice, told in the context of the most advanced civilization ever to exist—a society that has taken to the stars in an effort to save all that is best in humanity.
Follow Lincoln through his internal struggles, his joy in having lived, and his journey to peace.
The End is just the beginning.
The Last Day of Captain Lincoln is meant to be a slow paced story. How can it be fast, after all, when the main character is preparing to say goodbye to the life he’d led? It’s a very different take on a science fiction novella. I was actually surprised how I enjoyed it. But like I said, it’s different. These days, we don’t see enough originality. I read it through in one night.
Throughout the novella, we’re given poems and letters by famous people such as Van Gogh or Irving Berlin. I found it to be quite interesting how the author weaved in certain quotes to fit Lincoln’s last day.
Not only do we get to read a well-written story, we’re given artwork that’s pretty good. The drawings remind me of the Tell Tale video games such as The Walking Dead. It proved to be amusing for the most part.
The Last Day of Captain Lincoln is thought-provoking, with an unexpected ending. Reading this novella was a nice change of pace for me from all the dark murders that I’m usually drawn to. If you enjoy science fiction or utopian society stories, then I suggest you try this book.
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
EXO Books is the pen name and publishing company of a NYC based science fiction writer.
An exodus is the departure of a people out of slavery, to a promised land. It is a journey punctuated with peaks and valleys of joys and sorrows, through darkness ever towards the light. Behind this journey is the idea that while we continue to search for a better life, the search may not be fruitful in our lifetimes. Through it all, we are sustained by hope, and love.
The road is long, my friends. We trek on together.
A free copy of the book was provided to me in exchange for a review.
Clement Clarke Moore’s much-loved poem is brought beautifully to life in this gorgeous picture book with a twist – as Santa visits a family of bears on Christmas Eve.
I’ve always loved Clement Clarke Moore’s poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.’ For me, Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year. So when I was asked to review this book I didn’t hesitate in saying ‘yes’.
Christmas Eve is a magical night and this book is just as magical. The pictures, story, and vivid colour not only help in making the book a spellbinding read, but they captured my heart. I could not fail in taking in every last detail of the illustrations and being whisked away on Santa’s sleigh for the time it took me to read the book.
I thought I was going to get the story of ‘The Three Bears’ but was very pleased to say there were no hints of cold porridge or lumpy beds. I smiled throughout the whole book and could feel it pulling me back to the days of my childhood. Not only will every child enjoy reading this book, but so will any adult who reads it to children.
As I have already mentioned, the illustrations are both beautiful and colourful. Children, young and old, will take a great time in absorbing the whole story not just from the words, but also from looking at the pictures and taking in everything that has been captured in them. They are mesmorizing.
Although the book is aimed at younger children, I’d encourage parents to get older children to read the story to their younger brothers and sisters. Didn’t we all love the magic of Christmas, especially when very young? The book will certainly help anybody reading it to spread that magical feeling to their audience.
The only slight problem I had with the book is that there is a small section of the story which refers to Santa smoking his pipe. The illustration on the particular page also shows this. Given the anti-social attitude towards smoking these days, some may find that they don’t want to promote Santa’s bad habit, as a smoker, to children. I was a little surprised to see it in the book. Had the book been published 30 or so years ago, then I don’t think it would have been considered that much of a problem but, in the current climate, it may raise a few eyebrows.
*I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book*
In the author’s words:
“Calling words her legacy, Ms. Hart has compiled a collection of posts from her Cronechronicler blog. The collection is a celebration of embracing change, aging gracefully, and the elegance of small moments of a life well-lived. Sprinkled with haiku and serendipitous meanderings, this book is for curious and delighted readers. This compilation covers almost two years of daily posts and chronicles past journeys to Europe, Cuba, Mexico, and Ghana.”
I was captivated by the name of this novel because of the unique spelling of the word “Enscribing.” I was interested to find out if this was a purposeful change or an accident as the usual spelling of the word is “Inscribing.” I pondered what exactly could it mean. When I questioned the author, she said, “Enscribe” is a technical term for code writing and actually fits writing across the broad sky.”
And, that is the essence of Ms. Hart’s writing. At the beginning of Chapter One, she includes a quote from David Whyte:
“Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.
Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.”
What follows is the joyful celebration of a life well-lived. This is the journey of a woman finding herself and understanding her purpose in our amazing universe. She shares that at the age of fifty-five, she made the decision to be known as an “original.” No longer does she want to only do what everyone expects of her. Instead, she intends to discover the person she has become.
So, in the summer of 2014, with the help of her grandson, Ms. Hart began her own blog called Crone Chronicler. She set out on a writing journey to discover her inner muse. Discover she did!
Ms. Hart skillfully weaves a unique blend of humor and wisdom throughout this novel. She writes in the style of a memoir, chronicling her many travels to England, France, Cuba, Mexico, and Ghana. Between these glimpses into the past, she sprinkles Haiku and poetry reflecting her interpretation of the present.
This was the perfect evening read. I loved her reminisces which were filled with love, self-discovery, and family. This collection is also an official celebration of a woman who has found herself and rediscovered her writing talent. It just goes to show that we can recreate ourselves at any age. I can relate to that, and I bet you will too.
Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 4 Reader Engagement: 4 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Author, Ina Hamilton Hart
About Ina Hamilton Hart:
At age seventy-five I moved to be near two of my three sons and their families. I intended to spend time getting to know and enjoying my grandchildren who live here. I didn’t expect to create a new life for myself as well. For the first time, I have space and time to let my old gift of writing flower and to make new friends with whom I share the absurdity of aging.
As I know is the case with many of you, I’m a writer. Before I was a writer, I was a reader and I’ll remain a reader (hopefully I’ll remain a writer too, but perhaps I will stop publishing at some point. No matter). If you write reviews (I do), I imagine you might have all been surprised at times when checking other people’s reviews on books you’d read because they were the complete opposite to yours. Of course, personal taste and subjectivity come into it. I, for instance, am not a big lover of lengthy descriptions (although I can admire them if very well written, particularly if the genre calls for it), and I do not like a lot of background story (but sometimes it works). The best books for me, are those that can make me enjoy things that perhaps I wouldn’t choose, and also those that leave me wondering if I should call myself a writer at all because I’d never be able to write that way.
Sometimes expectations might play a big part in how we appreciate (or not) a book. I could not resist but share some one-star reviews of The Great Gatsby (I personally love it, but don’t worry if you don’t) to illustrate the point. First, I thought I’d share the ending, and the original cover, that is gorgeous.
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Here two one-star reviews (I’ve removed the identity of the reviewers, although I don’t know them because it’s irrelevant).
The Great Gatsby – I don’t get it. That is basically my review. I don’t get why this is such a classic, why people seem to love it so much, really I just don’t get it. It is just a bunch of rich people in the 20’s having parties and their nonsensical conversations. Throw in the fact that everyone cheats on each other and you have The Great Gatsby. There is very little actual plot and it is just this random hodge podge of conversations. I found it very hard to pay attention to what I was reading. I kept having to go back and re-read as I found I just read a few pages and could not tell you what happened. Then I would re-read it and think oh, well nothing really happened so no worries. Then I also would also go back and re-read parts as I was always feeling like I was missing something. It was just a strange read for me. Little character development, little plot development, really little plot and yet it is a classic. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I do think it will be way better than the book. I mean it has to have a more developed storyline than the book does right? We shall see.
The book starts off with our narrator Nick moving in next door to Gatsby. He also has a married cousin, Daisy, who lives nearby. The first 3/4 of the book I feel like nothing really happened. I kept thinking why am I reading this? Why do people love this book so much? Then we get to the last bit and a few things happened, but I didn’t really care. I didn’t care about any of the characters as they were all so over the top ridiculous rich people that it was just hard to connect with. That and you didn’t really get to know them at all so they are just random people.
Before I read this I remember hearing it is this great love story. That to me is the most head scratching thing of all. I don’t see how this is a love story. The characters were just cheating on each other which even if they would have been developed more so I connected with them, even if there would have been more of a story here, that wouldn’t be a great love story for me. A very strange read and I just don’t understand what so many people see in this book that makes it such a classic. Oh well, I guess I don’t have to get it. It is just not for me.
I leave this review fully aware that I’m going to catch flak for it. How dare I belittle a classic novel, after all, one beloved by generations of readers. Well, simply because a book is a “classic” doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to appeal to all tastes, nor that it’s a masterfully written novel. It simply means that it was popular or meaningful enough to endure, or that it’s worked its way into school curriculum. And while I never had to read “The Great Gatsby” for school, I did watch the film version and found it lacking. But I was still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and give it a shot — the movie was obviously trying to ape “Moulin Rouge,” and perhaps the book would provide a better experience.
I don’t understand why this book is a classic. It is unpleasant, full of unsympathetic characters, and all-around overrated.
“The Great Gatsby” is narrated by Nick, a young man from the Midwest who moves to New York City during the Roaring Twenties and finds himself drawn to his mysterious, charismatic neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is fabulously wealthy, and constantly throws wild, lavish parties at his home. Nick becomes obsessed with Gatsby, trying to unravel his past (and finding countless contradictory stories about said past from various acquaintances), and soon becomes swept up in Gatsby’s mad quest to achieve his ultimate goal… to win the heart of the woman he fell in love with as a young soldier so many years ago. But in trying to capture his elusive prize, Gatsby will set off a chain of events that will destroy lives… the only question is whose, and who will escape in the aftermath.
I know, the above description makes the book sound intriguing. But in all actuality, the book is incredibly dull. Nothing of import happens until a third of the way through, and the book is larded with pointless conversations that ultimately go nowhere. I ended up skimming large parts simply because they consisted of nothing but characters aimlessly gasbagging about things that ended up having no influence on the plot. This book could easily be condensed into a novella or even a short story without losing anything plotworthy.
I can better tolerate pointless content in a book if said content is written well. But Gatsby’s prose is bland at best, awkward at worst, and never truly captured me. It’s not terrible writing — I’ve certainly read worse, especially in modern novels — but neither is it very good, let alone great. (I’m told there’s some controversy over whether F. Scott Fitzgerald really wrote this book, and some attribute it to his wife Zelda, but regardless of who wrote it, the writing is nothing to write home about.)
The characters are unlikable as well. Gatsby is a sad excuse of a human being, not caring who he hurts in his quest to win his true love, even descending to drug-dealing and homewrecking. The girl of his dreams isn’t much better, and comes across as painfully shallow. Her husband, and the closest thing this book has to an antagonist, isn’t much better than Gatsby himself — he’s also racist, but then, this book was written in the ’20s, and some uncomfortable elements of older novels are simply products of their time. The narrator, Nick, is the closest thing to a decent human being the book has, and even then he comes across as a wet blanket, letting himself be walked on and not bothering to get involved when events take a turn for the worse. Some might argue that the unlikable characters are the point of this book, that it was meant to show the shallowness and corruption of the day, but a cast of unlikable characters will make your book VERY unpleasant.
Finally, without spoiling too much… the ending of the book renders the entire rest of the story pointless. The characters have gained nothing, learned nothing, and in the end the moral of the story seems to be “isn’t this world a terrible place?” I don’t demand a happy ending from everything I read, but this book isn’t so much a sad ending as it is a nihilistic one. It’s as if the author set out to write an unpleasant and cynical book simply to make his story “meaningful” or “deep.”
I don’t understand why “The Great Gatsby” is considered such a classic. It’s unpleasant and miserable to read, without a single sympathetic character in the cast and without any sort of meaningful resolution. All I can say is that I’m glad I was never forced to read this in school.
Picture coming across an old machine during a dig. Then picture taking home the machine, trying to figure out exactly what it was and what it does. A group of paleontology students that came across this machine just after a freak landslide will find out exactly what the machine does.
The Navigators isn’t your typical time traveling story because we don’t really see a whole lot of time traveling, except toward the ending. That made it a more refreshing and original read. I loved reading it the more I swiped the page. If I could have, I would have spent an entire day reading this story. That was how engrossing I was.
At first, I was put off at the beginning, because I felt like the novel was opening in the start of chapter two or three. However, I quickly decided that the way the story opened only provided more uniqueness. We were introduced to our main characters and the way they interacted with each other.
The story is very fast paced. Our characters spend the gist of the novel eluding authorities and the enemies they’ve gained, while everyone raced against time to get to the machine and lay claim. The main character, Tomas Pequant (Peeky) and his friends tend to get their hands dirty while trying to figure out what secrets this mystery machine held. While some reviewers seem to not think it’s very realistic, I believe that if I happened to come within a few feet of a possible time machine, there’s no limit to what I may do. But that’s just the adventurer in me.
The Navigators is told in first person (Peeky’s POV), but we also see inside the heads of his friends and their various enemies. I believe writing the story this way only added to the speed of the chase. About halfway through, I was blindsided by a twist that I should have guessed coming, but that only goes to show what a great plot this was, now doesn’t it?
If you like suspense, try it out. If you like action, try it out. If you like stories of time traveling, try it out. If you like reading…try it out.
Overall Rate:5 out of 5 stars
Dan Alatorre is author of numerous best sellers, host of the YouTube video show Writers Off Task With Friends, blogger… and father to a hilarious and precocious daughter, “Savvy” of the bestselling book series Savvy Stories. His novels, short stories, illustrated children’s books and cookbooks have been translated into 12 different languages and are enjoyed around the world.
Dan and his family live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. (If it’s Friday, he’s making pizza, including making the dough and sauce from scratch. Who does that?)
So you’ve finally got your page numbers right. Check that you’ve Justified your text for your CreateSpace book. I know that some authors choose not to justify text in their eBooks (not me), but a paper book really must be justified or it’s going to look messy. Choose your font and font size. You have lots of fonts that you can use in your paperback, but it’s a good idea to stick with something plain, other than for dropcaps or chapter headings.
Decide what trim size your book is going to be and set your manuscript’s size accordingly. From the Page Layout tab, click on the little arrow to the right of Page Setup, then select Paper from the three tabs at the top of the page setup box. Change the Width and Height settings to 6” x 9” or 5” x 8” or whatever size your book will be. If your book has images in it that extend to the edges of the pages, then add .125 to the width and .25 to the height. So you would then apply 6.125 and 9.25. Apply to Whole Document.
In the same page setup box, select the Margins tab. CreateSpace requires a minimum of .25 for the outside margins but recommend .5. I generally go with what is recommended so apply .5 to the top, bottom, and right margin. Leave the left margin with nothing in it and include that in the gutter margin – makes for much less fiddling. What you set your gutter margin to depends on the page count of your book.
24 to 150 pages requires the gutter margin to be set at .375
151 to 300 is .5
301 to 500 is .625
501 to 700 is .75
701 to 825 is .875
Type in your gutter margin, and next to Multiple Pages select Mirror Margins. Apply to Whole Document and click OK.
Finally to apply your paragraph indents, if you’re having them. From the Page Layout tab, click on the arrow to the right of the Paragraph box. For my fiction I prefer indents between three and five spaces. Under Special select First Line, and under By enter your desired indent size, for example 0.5. Select the first paragraph of each chapter and select None if you prefer to start indents from second chapters only. Line spacing for printed books is generally single, so unless you really do want your book double spaced, select Single for Line Spacing. Finally in this box, decide on the space between paragraphs and type this by Spacing After. Anything from 10pt down looks good. Click OK. Save your document when you are happy with the way it looks.
Now you should be looking at your manuscript with two pages side by side rather than one at a time. When formatting your book for CreateSpace, the page you see in front of you on the right will actually be positioned on the left in the actual printed book. Chapter headings in paper books are always on the right, so go through your manuscript with that in mind. All chapter headings should be on the left side of the manuscript of your two page view. You might have to insert a few blank pages to get everything into position, but it is really worth the effort. Check your front and back matter with this fact in mind, and also insert blank pages where necessary to improve the look of the final result.
Save your finished manuscript, and then using the Save As option in the Microsoft emblem in the top left hand corner of your screen, save it again as a PDF file. This is what you will be loading on to CreateSpace.