Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Problem with Self-Publishing, or Don't Read Negative Reviews

I suppose I'm a sucker for book blogger drama. The latest is a self-published author's atrocious response to a two-star review of her e-book over at BigAl's Books and Pals. His review of the book alone reminds me of why I decided not to review any more self-published books after my own two-star review of The Dead Rise First. But what really made BigAl's review go viral is the stream of comments made by the author that can only be described as immature and unprofessional. By comment #200, I was merely skimming, I was so amazed by what had been stirred up.
BigAl's review is concise, specific, and fair. He addresses both the content of the book, as well as the quality of the writing. Unfortunately, the author, Jacqueline Howett, can not see past the legitimate complaints he had about the book and refused to respect his opinion to the point of using foul language. Sometimes I feel like I need to tattoo this to my forehead: "Opinion does not equal fact." We are all entitled to our own opinion, are we not?
One of the major difficulties with self-published works is that oftentimes the step that editors complete in ironing out the spelling and grammar problems gets skipped. It seems to me that the average writer-wanna-be believes he can write simply because he can read a book or hold a conversation with someone. Much more goes into the process of writing a publishable book than the average person is aware of. This is largely why I prefer the business of classic publishing versus self-publishing.
The two examples that BigAl cites from Howett's book in reference to grammar errors are legitimate:

"She carried her stocky build carefully back down the stairs."

"Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance."

I am incredibly picky when it comes to correcting bad grammar, so I could likely fill a page with my thoughts of what is wrong with these two sentences. I will let the errors speak for themselves, though. But the author's response? Flat denial. It is glaringly obvious from her comments that she did not even bother going back over the manuscript to see if he even quoted the sentences accurately, something I would have done had it been my work being critiqued. Her response to his critique is all emotion, no rationalization - and emotions are not rational. Pretty much everyone else commenting on this thread agree with BigAl's assessment and try repeatedly to talk some sense into the author through any means possible. Unfortunately, she seems to be a lost cause on this issue, which is quite sad really. (I am also wondering what kinds of grades she made in English class in school...)

What can I say? The only advice I can glean from this situation is if someone chooses to take the self-publishing route, please, PLEASE, learn a few things about what makes the publishing industry successful and attempt to copy it for your own work. Every book I have ever read on writing well recommends edit, edit, edit, write multiple drafts, and always get others to read and critique before submitting for publication. Oh yea, and get used to the rejections.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee

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

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

My Teaser:
Demon: A Memoir
          'Why would the world change?'
'Just as one renegade gene creates a new thing, the world had begun to mutate.' Her casual shrug said it was nothing important. 'It was the natural order, a trajectory set in motion by a single aberration that signaled perversity to come.'
I thought back to every beautiful place I had ever been -- to the red rocks of Utah, the shores of Saint Lucia, the peaks of the Guilin Mountains along the Li River. I thought of Aubrey's travel books, of Ansel Adams's black-and-whites.
'Yes, I call your beautiful world mutant and perverse. So would you if you had seen the original. If you had, you would know how far we've all veered, how like a cancer things have grown. In fact, I almost felt sympathy for El when I saw how saddened he was again. But I, too, had begun to change.' - pg. 128, Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee

What are you reading this week?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Impact of Book Bloggers

Since passing my one-year mark as a book blogger, I am finding that I feel more and more strongly about defending my fellow book bloggers against bad press and negative opinions. The short description is that book blogging is all about combining free speech with a love of literature, but I am finding that there is nothing that people want to control more than free speech. The more I find those opposing it, the more I want to use it and voice my own opinion.
I recently came across an article at The Story Siren in which she interviews Author X, who wanted to remain anonymous in the interest of avoiding self-promotion. Honestly, I don't believe that was the real reason. Anonymity on the internet is about protecting one's self. In this instance, it became clear to me that the author simply did not want any negative backlash coming from the community he/she was condemning - which is book bloggers.
There are many assumptions that Author X makes about what happens to a book in a bookstore, which I believe she got said information from an agent who would be handling all of these technical details. Author X writes "What's going to move copies is store visibility and marketing on the publisher's part (springing for table space, displays, and stuff)." Throughout the entire article, the author's focus is what works in a bookstore, because that can be tracked and factored as so many numbers and figures on a print-out. The internet is basically too big and constantly evolving to be charted and recorded so simply. Although Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books made an excellent attempt at quantifying it.
In today's modernized digital age, the bookstore is no longer the only way to get new literature, and print is no longer the only format to read a book by. Especially with the bankruptcy and closing of Border's locations across the U.S., people are relying more and more on the internet to buy books. My own small town up in Canada had a bookstore years ago, but it did not make enough money to survive.
I managed in a bookstore for a number of years in the U.S. before moving up here, and really, individual books have to rely on randomness and coincidence for the average bookstore pedestrian to be interested enough in said book to buy it. Book bloggers have a way of focusing that aimless wandering that a display table or featured spot in the store just can't achieve.
The thing about all those fancy displays is (a)they get changed pretty quickly and quite often, so a single title is not going to stick around very long, and (b)they never feature only one title (though they may feature only one author) -- which means choices. Though the assumption is that people love choices, too many choices tend to overwhelm someone who does not already know what he wants when he walks in the door. The book blogger and book reviewer simplify the decision-making process.
In today's world of financial distress and recession, people want to be certain that they will enjoy the book they spend good money on. Book bloggers help with that certainty.
As for the average bookstore customer, they come in all shapes and sizes, with a good portion never reading anything but the newspaper, their favorite magazine, or the latest best-seller and just as many only coming for the coffee. Browsers will pick up random books and sit in a chair to read, but never purchase. Just as many of the younger generations will come in with mom and dad, but not have the pocket money or the persuasion capabilities to make a purchase, either. With the internet, the push of a button is infinitely easier than shopping blind or standing in line, and cheaper than the rising cost of gas combined with the very-real chance that the bookstore won't even carry what the shopper wants. Not to mention, the internet makes buying books possible for even those who can't leave home, whether sick, handicapped, without transportation, or no bookstore location for hundreds of miles. Desktop computers, laptops, e-readers, cell phones, etc., all have  the ability to shop online for anything, and so easily that even a four-year-old can do it. (No really, a four-year-old taught me how to use I-Pad.) Few bookstores have the ability to sell e-books from the store location, and bookstore employees don't work on the store's matching website (with the possible exception of indy bookstores). But book bloggers are on the internet, and will oftentimes know much more about books than the average, minimum-wage employee of a bookstore.
Book bloggers are the enthusiasts, the collectors, the bookworms, those who have turned reading into a profession unworthy of any paycheck. I already know I can and do sell books, and that started long before I ever wrote a single blog post. I wish I had known about the world of book blogging when I worked in the bookstore, I likely would have sold even more. I turned my whole family into avid book readers and buyers, as well as many of my friends, and I believe I will always have that effect. My book blogging is merely the record of my enthusiasm. Book blogging is the after-effect of falling in love with literature, and a way to turn that love into productivity.
Author X condemns common practices of book bloggers, such as giveaways and memes. Memes are merely ways to funnel and focus certain topics that are common to book blogging, such as the newest book purchases, and giveaways are yet another way to pass on the love of books to fellow book lovers.
Really, the community of book bloggers has much in common with the typical book club, but operates on a world-wide scale. I've come to think that the negativity against book bloggers is not because some think that book bloggers don't sell books, but because book bloggers impact the market in both unpredictable and unprecedented ways, and very little of the impact of book bloggers can be curbed, controlled, or encouraged by methods that may work for other venues.
Luckily, not every author thinks so harshly of book bloggers, Amanda Hocking is one of them. Some of the other responses to this interview are at Reading Teen and Maniac Manga Cafe.

Please share your own opinion. I'd love to hear what you think!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Support the Boycott

I recently discovered some news in the publishing world that makes me quite sad, really. To a book blogger, authors and publishers are like superheros and celebrities. I drool over any news of my favorites and I feel humbled and honored when one contacts me directly. So when a publisher falls off the ethics scale and resorts to bad business practices for the sake of the almighty dollar, I am appalled and disappointed.
Even though I have yet to review anything from Dorchester Publishing and Leisure Books, I feel like this is a personal betrayal against book bloggers. We shamelessly promote the books, authors, and publishers we know and love, as well as the new names that we are not as familiar with, with the blind faith that they will be as outstanding as the former names.
Recently, author Brian Keene announced a boycott of Dorchester Publishing. On his site, he has kept a detailed account of all the ways that Dorchester has violated contract with him by refusing to pay him since 2009, as well as violating the reversion of both his print and digital rights to his works by continuing to sell his work illegally. Brian Keene is not the only author that Dorchester is screwing over and many others are joining in on this boycott. Keene's site explains all the ways that Dorchester can be boycotted, as well as contains a growing list of professionals who are supporting the boycott.
According to Wikipedia, Dorchester Publishing has been publishing mass market books since 1971, making them the oldest mass market publisher in America. The genres they specialize in are romance, horror, thrillers, and Westerns. As of September 2010, Dorchester canceled all of their mass market paperback lines as print publications with the intention of making all future titles only available as e-books. Keene, as well as several other author/ bloggers, explained that this was to avoid reverting the rights of authors' works back to the authors. In response to the growing response against the company's bad business practices, they have completely turned off comments on the Facebook page. Interestingly, they still have many of the comments that people have made against the company, including a great article by author Stacy Dittrich about her own experiences with Dorchester.
While I am small fry in the world of book blogging, I hope that my readers will agree with me that there is no excuse for what Dorchester has done to its authors. Dorchester needs to be held accountable for its actions.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)Book Details:
Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)
By Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2009, Scholastic Press
Hardback, 392 pages
ISBN: 9780545123266

          For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
I read this book as a recommendation from a friend. Even though I knew lots of other book bloggers love this series, all I kept thinking was "not another werewolf book." I am very glad that I read this anyways. It is very different from what I expected, and most of the book was unpredictable.
The idea of werewolves brings to mind extra strength, no weakness, and no fear, but these werewolves are more victims of a progressive disease with lives that are dictated by changes in the weather. Even in wolf form, they behave as a normal wolf would with no extras to benefit themselves.
Grace is quite an anomaly in the book, and she spends half the book in denial of the obvious. What bothered me about her character was that even though she is "book-smart," she never thinks to question what she is and how she became this way. Outside forces had to propel her out her denial. I really like Sam's character, especially because he tries so hard to hang on to his humanity, not just presently, but ever since he was bitten. The memories he shares of being home-schooled by the other werewolves shows me that even then he understood the importance of this. I grew to really like Isabel's character, too. Even though she has attitude to spare, she still has a heart and wants to do what is right. She actually reminds me a bit of the character of Cordelia from BTVS.
I was a little disappointed about what happened to Jack, but he wasn't exactly the most likable character. I was also a little confused about Olivia, as she seemed to lack uniformity in her character - at one point she seemed to not care too much about the wolves, and then I get the idea that she is supposed to be obsessed with them.
The ending came as a complete shock to me, as I really thought something else would happen right up until the very end. So now I have tons of questions, and I can not wait to get my hands on the next book, Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 2).

The Cover: I found the cover to be somewhat vague, except for that red spot in the middle that must be meant to be blood. I actually did not spot the wolf until after I completed the book.

First Line: "I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves."
This introduction definitely took me by surprise - where is her "fight or flight" response? And then I start wondering about the wolves - why are they just milling around, shouldn't they be behaving differently?

Favorite Quote: "Books are more real when you read them outside."

Read For: Twenty-Eleven Challenge

Recommended by The Book Vixen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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

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

My Teaser:
Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)
          I stared at the dark square of night through the window, lost in the memory of Sam as a wolf. The pack circled around me, tongues and teeth, growls and jerks. One wolf stood back, ice-decked ruff bristling all along his neck, quivering as he watched me in the snow. Lying in the cold, under a white sky going dark, I kept my eyes on him. He was beautiful: wild and dark, yellow eyes filled with a complexity I couldn't begin to fathom. And he gave off a scent the same as the other wolves around me -- rich, feral, musky. Even now, as he lay in my room, I could smell the wolf on him, though he was wearing scrubs and a new skin. - pg. 75, Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls) by Maggie Stiefvater

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: Walking Dead by C. E. Murphy

Walking Dead (The Walker Papers, Book 4)Book Details:
Walking Dead (The Walker Papers, Book 4)
By C. E. Murphy
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published 2009, LUNA Books
Paperback, 376 pages
ISBN: 9780373803019

          For once, Joanne Walker's not out to save the world. She's come to terms with the host of shamanic powers she's been given, her job as a police detective has been relatively calm, and she's got a love life for the first time in memory. Not bad for a woman who started out the year mostly dead.
But it's Halloween, and the undead have just crashed Joanne's party.
Now, with her mentor Coyote still missing, she has to figure out how to break the spell that has let the ghosts, zombies and even the Wild Hunt come back. Unfortunately, there's no shamanic handbook explaining how to deal with the walking dead. And if they have anything to say about it which they do no one's getting out of there alive.
Normally I don't care for zombies in my fantasy literature - the ick factor is just too high for me. (I don't do horror movies, either.) This book is probably the first exception as Joanne disliked them as much as I do. I love that she now as a better sense of what she is doing with her shamanic abilities, and she has even studied a few things related to this so that she is better prepared for future needs. It seems to me that as Joanne better understands the mechanics of what she is doing, the better I, as the reader, can understand them, too.
At the beginning of the book Joanne is dating the mechanic she has nicknamed Thor. I really like the guy and how genuine and honest he is with her, but I feel sorry for him because I know that it is not him that Joanne really wants. She takes him for granted and does not give the relationship any real chance at surviving.
The mess with the cauldron is an interesting bit of folklore that ironically ties back to Ireland, where Joanne's mother comes from. I like also that it introduces some new characters, such as the medium Sonata, and brings back Suzanne Quinley from the first book. Suzanne has got some serious magic of her own, and the courage to use it wisely. This makes me wonder if the author couldn't give her a series of her own in the YA genre. My favorite part of the book is when Suzanne uses her future-seeing abilities and Joanne tunes in. Joanne gets to see all of her possible past, present, and future selves based on alternate choices she could have made throughout her life. This was absolutely fascinating for me because I am always wondering about the "what ifs" with the main characters of the books I read. How I wish more of the books I read would find a way to employ this tactic, heck I would not mind it in real life!
As for loose ends, there are two that really bug me. The first is the outcome of the annoying insurance adjuster, since he just seemed to fall of the radar at the end. The second is Captain Morrison and his ever-evolving relationship with Joanne. He plays a major part at the climax, but the reader does not get to see any sort of personal reaction on Morrison's behalf or his reaction to Joanne's new relationship status. I will just have to wait to see what happens in the next book, Demon Hunts (Walker Papers, Book 5).

The Cover: The cover features a familiar body-shot of the main character Joanne, sporting native jewelry to signify her Cherokee heritage. The horse I did not get at first, but it eventually becomes obvious that it refers to the involvement of the Hunt from the first book, Urban Shaman (The Walker Papers, Book 1).

First Line"My wig itched like a son of a bitch."
There's that typical Joanne attitude that I've come to know so well - bluntly honest to the point of hilarity - not to mention, what would cause no-frills Joanne to wear a wig?

Favorite Quote"Happy was easy. Whatever I got out of life, I was going to have to work for, and that made it all the more worth having."

Read For: Strong Heroine Challenge, What's In A Name Challenge, 101 Fantasy Challenge

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is Your Child Serious? That's Healthy!

The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade StudyI was recently sent an interesting article by a co-author of the book The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, which is written by Howard S. Friedman, Ph.D. and Leslie R. Martin, Ph. D.. The book was recently featured in O Magazine, Parade, and Readers Digest, WSJ, USA Today, Good Morning America as well as Nightline and a host of other media outlets.

On, the description reads:
This landmark study--which Dr. Andrew Weil calls "a remarkable achievement with surprising conclusions"--upends the advice we have been told about how to live to a healthy old age.
We have been told that the key to longevity involves obsessing over what we eat, how much we stress, and how fast we run. Based on the most extensive study of longevity ever conducted, The Longevity Project exposes what really impacts our lifespan-including friends, family, personality, and work.
Gathering new information and using modern statistics to study participants across eight decades, Dr. Howard Friedman and Dr. Leslie Martin bust myths about achieving health and long life. For example, people do not die from working long hours at a challenging job- many who worked the hardest lived the longest. Getting and staying married is not the magic ticket to long life, especially if you're a woman. And it's not the happy-go-lucky ones who thrive-it's the prudent and persistent who flourish through the years.
With questionnaires that help you determine where you are heading on the longevity spectrum and advice about how to stay healthy, this book changes the conversation about living a long, healthy life.
And here is the interesting article followed by a rather impressive bio of the two authors of the book.

Is Your Child Serious? That's Healthy!
About a week ago I attended a party. Most of the attendees were parents and the discussion quickly turned to temperaments: whose babies slept through the night; whose little girls wore pants and whose refused anything but dresses; whose kids were cheerful and full of laughter and whose were more thoughtful and solemn. The matter of cheerfulness versus seriousness fascinated these parents because they saw it as something indicative of who the child was, and what he or she would become.
Science confirms that temperament is indeed present from the very first moments of life and can be seen in the different ways that babies react to things in their environments. Some infants startle easily while others seem nonplussed by sudden movements or loud noises; some infants are difficult to soothe once there emotions have been aroused while others are quickly mollified and return to whatever they had been doing before. Some toddlers are very cheery, with the infectious laughter of a gleeful or mischievous tot. Equally contagious is the toothy grin of a 10-year-old after telling a clever joke. Cheerful, laughing kids provide reassurance to parents that life is good for the child.
It's not surprising, then, some parents expressed concern about their children who seemed OK but were more serious, that is, the children who laughed, smiled, and joked less than their more exuberant peers. "It makes me wonder sometimes if something's wrong with him," "I feel like maybe I should try to pry it out of her," "I encourage him to go and have fun with his friends, but he'll never be the life of the party", and "I hope I haven't done something to make her so serious and focused; I guess I haven't set a great example in this area though; I'm not much of a partier myself."
Sure, even young children can occasionally become depressed and retreat into their rooms, sleeping too much or eating too much, fidgeting anxiously, and feeling worthless. But this is uncommon and is quite different from simply being serious, focused, and not silly. More important than any particular characteristic is the child's comfort level with the trait. If a child is on the serious side but seems content, involved with friends or clubs or sports, and well-adjusted otherwise, there's probably nothing to worry about. In fact, we found that such children may be exceptionally healthy.
In The Longevity Project we studied more than 1,500 children as they grew up and passed through their adolescence, adulthoods, and into old age. Being more serious as a child was not a risk factor for earlier mortality -- in fact the reverse was actually true! The very cheerful, optimistic, and humorous kids had shorter life spans, on average, than their more sober counterparts -- in part because they later took poorer care of their health and tended to smoke and drink more, among other things.
So, except in cases where additional warning signs are present, parents of serious children can relax. Not everyone is a Charlie Chaplin or an Adam Sandler and really, think about it -- shouldn't we all be thankful for this?! Some people are simply more high-spirited than others and these differences start early. Scoring a little lower on the humor-meter is not a bad thing; and our surprising research shows that it may actually be good for one's health. Parenting is tough, and there are lots of things to worry about, but this isn't one of them.

© 2011 Leslie R. Martin, of The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study
Author Bios
Howard S. Friedman, Ph.D.
, author of The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, graduated from Yale and was awarded the National Science Foundation graduate fellowship for his doctoral work at Harvard.  He is currently Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and has been honored with major awards by the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.
Dr. Friedman has edited and written a dozen books and 150 scientific articles and has been named a "most-cited psychologist" by the Institute of Scientific Information.  His health and longevity research has been featured in publications worldwide.  He lives near San Diego, California
Leslie R. Martin, Ph.D., co-author of The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, graduated summa cum laude from California State University, San Bernadino, and received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside.  Currently, she is a professor of psychology at La Sierra University, where she received the Distinguished Researcher Award and the Anderson Award for Excellence in Teaching.  Dr. Martin is also a research psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, and a key associate in Professor Friedman's longevity studies.
An avid traveler, Dr. Martin climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2005, and recently completed the 151-mile Marathon des Sables across the Moroccan Sahara.  She lives in Riverside, California.

For more information please visit and follow the authors on Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Walking Dead by C. E. Murphy

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

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

My Teaser:
Walking Dead (The Walker Papers, Book 4)
          I blurted, "Between my hands and my feet, these things I do keep, to a warrior of light, I grant you the Sight!" and waited for my head to explode of embarrassment.
Billy, gratifyingly, said, "Oh, wow."
My gaze jerked to his face, a couple inches away from my own. "It worked?"
His eyes were filmed with gold. Morrison and Thor had said mine had changed color when I'd used the Sight. I was pleased enough that I forgot having a two-hundred-and-sixty-pound man on my feet hurt, and let him stand there a while before I even thought to howl with pain. Just before I started to complain, he shook himself and stepped back, a broad, astonished smile on his face as gold drained out of his eyes and left them brown again. - pgs. 118-119, Walking Dead (The Walker Papers, Book 4) by C. E. Murphy

What are you reading this week?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Winner of $85 CSN Stores Gift Code

I had a total of 24 entrants for my giveaway of a $85 CSN Stores gift code. Using, the winning number was:

#19 Kim/ The Book Butterfly from

Kim has already been contacted with the winning code. Congratulations Kim!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: Redemption by Laurel Dewey

RedemptionBook Details:
By Laurel Dewey
Genre: Suspense
Published 2009, The Story Plant
Hardback, 381 pages
ISBN: 9780981608754

          After a series of life-changing events, detective Jane Perry has resigned from the Denver Police Department. Trying to make a living as a private investigator, she finds her past haunting her at every turn and old demons rising up to torment her.
Then Jane meets Kit Clark, a woman who wants Jane to drive with her from Colorado to Northern California in search of a man who matches the description of the killer who murdered her granddaughter many years before. Kit’s convinced that the man has started to kill again and she wants to stop him. Jane thinks the woman is crazy—especially when she discovers that she’s a New Age devotee—but Jane is desperate for work. They head on the road, gathering critical information about the killer, and themselves, along the way. Jane has recently experienced several events in her life that seem to border on the paranormal, though she is a complete skeptic in that regard. Now, those experiences come with greater frequency. And when the trail of the killer leads to a fundamentalist church, the consequences of belief and faith propel her toward a deadly confrontation.
Once again, Laurel Dewey has created a novel as rich in character as it is in suspense. Juxtaposing spirituality and religion, mission and manipulation, revenge and redemption, this powerful, taut mystery confirms the author as a top-flight storyteller and promises to resonate in your soul.
I did not read the first book in the series, Protector, but that did not seem to matter all that much in reading this book. I caught up relatively easily to what the author felt I needed to know about Jane Perry's story so that I could dive into the action-packed, suspense-filled plot of this book.
One of the first things I noticed about the main character of Jane Perry is both her seemingly-abrasive personality, complete with a foul mouth, and her battle with alcoholism. Throughout the book, her strong personality is both her greatest strength and her biggest weakness. Her daily battle to remain sober - pushing six months - is also a prominent theme, complete with AA meetings, sobriety chips, and the 12-step program. I found these details interesting from the educational standpoint, since I have known a few alcoholics, both recovering and not, but nothing about the process of recovery from this horrible addiction.
The woman that hires Jane Perry, Katherine Clark (better known as Kit), is in many ways the very opposite of Jane. A woman in her 60's, she describes her personality as that of an "earth mother". Dealing with stage 4 cancer, she is a strict adherent of New Age philosophies and herbal medicine to treat both her cancer and her particular brand of spirituality. In addition, several of the plot's "bad guys" were followers of a particular sect of Fundamentalist Christianity that Kit spends an overt amount of time condemning, despite her many lectures of tolerance, love, and forgiveness. This in turn incites Jane to regularly mock Fundamentalist Christianity by proxy.
While I realize that radicals of any religion are easy fodder for mainstream literature, the personal beliefs of the author completely overpower the actual plot of the book. It is patently obvious that Dewey is a major supporter of all things New Age, with a penchant for Buddhism, and is completely against a literal translation of the Bible. As I have said in previous reviews, a good author is invisible to the reader, but in this book, the author often felt more present in the plot than the actual characters the book was intended to be about - some sort of amalgamation of Jane and Kit. Despite the good intentions that I am sure Dewey harbors in writing in this fashion, I became rather depressed by the end of the book by the over-saturation of Dewey's agenda of  New Ageism versus Christianity, as the book became less and less about the heroics of Jane Perry and more about the beliefs of Laurel Dewey.
While I acknowledge that I do not agree with everything within the particular doctrines of the character of Dr. John Bartosh, I do consider myself a Fundamentalist Christian, a person who believes in both the literal and figurative translation of the Bible. For the author to expect me, the reader, to not even be slightly offended by the condemnation and open mockery of what I consider to be the foundation of my morality and how I live my life on a daily basis is both presumptuous and insensitive.
Despite this, the book was well-written from a literary approach, with unique characters, an unpredictable plot, and no loose ends.

The Cover: The cover seems rather overly simplified, like a bad photograph. Ironically, I think the car on the back cover would have been much better on the front, as it holds a variety of clues to both the main character and the location in the book.

First Lines: "Barmaid!" Jane Perry yelled above the din of the smoke-laced barroom. "Two more whiskeys for me and two tequilas for my friend!" Jane came to an unsteady halt in front of the waitress, her back to Carlos. "You got that?" Jane said, her eyes asking another question.
Well, this is a compelling introduction, as my first thought is that the main character is a drunk, followed by a 'maybe not' with the 'another question.' Of course I had to keep reading after that.

Favorite Quote: "Seek contentment rather than happiness. Contentment holds water. Happiness leaks."

Read For: Off The Shelf Challenge, Strong Heroine Challenge, Twenty-Eleven Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Redemption by Laurel Dewey

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

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

My Teaser:
          Staring back at her from the top of the fold was none other than Sergeant Kenny Stephens. There he was with his cocky grin and his muscular build standing in front of the cocaine-laden table at the press conference. Jane felt an angry edge creep up on her. Her eye then caught the name of one of her FBI contacts who was quoted in the second above-the-fold headlining story. "We've been asked to be part of the Charlotte Walker team and we will use every tool at our disposal to bring this little girl back to her family," Jane read.
She looked back at Kenny Stephen's self-important moniker and slammed the paper on the nearest chair. Suddenly, all those fears about being part of the Walker case and how it might ruin her reputation dissolved into the background. Within minutes, that familiar fire began to burn in Jane Perry's belly. - pgs. 69-70, Redemption by Laurel Dewey

What are you reading this week?

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