This is a truly inspirational story, and I have no problem giving it five stars!
The year is 1982, and a young girl wants to play in a rock band. I'veThis is a truly inspirational story, and I have no problem giving it five stars!
The year is 1982, and a young girl wants to play in a rock band. I've never played a musical instrument before (unless you count six months of guitar lessons in Primary School, which I sucked at), but I know two people who play guitar, and I recognise many of the brand names and terminology from their anecdotes. And of course, I love music--who doesn't??--so I was delighted at some of the song references.
I was completely engrossed in this young Japanese girl's journey from auditioning for a local band, to starting her own band, to tasting fame, to finding out where she ends up (which I won't share with you).
The Author's Note at the end gave me goosebumps, as I made the final realisation that this is not just a story about a young girl's musical aspirations, but rather a story for any artist involved in creating anything (and that includes writers), and a declaration that we don't have to wait to be considered "good enough" by music labels, publishers, etc.
One of the best, and most well written, indie stories I've read in awhile. I'll be looking for more by this author!...more
Okay, let me first say that Paranormal Romance is not one of my regular genres, but the synopsis of this one grabbed me, so I decided to pick it up. TOkay, let me first say that Paranormal Romance is not one of my regular genres, but the synopsis of this one grabbed me, so I decided to pick it up. The opening chapter had me absolutely hooked as well!
Unfortunately, it all goes down hill from there. If you read this book, I suggest you grab a pen and paper so that you can draw your own versions of the various family trees, which are convoluted to say the least. It doesn't help that most (but not all) members of the same family have names that begin with the same letter. Genders are often switched from what you would expect, making it difficult to visualise what the characters look like.
I liked the analogies, and the sexual humour is quite funny, but that's about all. Characters appear out of nowhere, suddenly part of a scene when they weren't when it started, and there's no explanation for how they got there. More than once a flipped a screen or two back when a character was suddenly there, thinking I'd missed something, only to find that I hadn't. In fact, if I wasn't reading an e-book, I'd think I was missing pages!
By around 10% through, I was beginning to get confused, but I thought that if I just pressed on, everything would fall into place. At 36%, I still have no idea who any of the characters are, and how they relate to one another, and I'm afraid that now, I never will....more
A good old fashioned spy story, which puts me in mind of the old Nick Carter stories I used to gobble up as a kid. There's just the right amount of acA good old fashioned spy story, which puts me in mind of the old Nick Carter stories I used to gobble up as a kid. There's just the right amount of action, sex, guns, cars, and international espionage, to keep you entertained.
The story is quite gripping and believable, but the writing feels a little "immature", as if the author still needs time to develop his own unique style. There are one or two niggling problems that keep cropping up as well, like the fact that there are very few possessive apostrophes, and long speeches with multiple paragraphs that you forget are part of the speech because the writer doesn't re-open inverted commas on each paragraph. Also, early on the book, measurements are given in metres, but about halfway through, the book switches to the Imperial system (yards and miles), and stays that way until the end.
I think this author is a great storyteller, and with just a little bit more practice, could turn into a really accomplished writer. I think I'll pick up the next one when it's released, and give him another shot!...more
I've never read Lovecraft before, but I've been meaning to for quite some time, based on his reputation as a father of modern supernatural horror, andI've never read Lovecraft before, but I've been meaning to for quite some time, based on his reputation as a father of modern supernatural horror, and my passing experience of the Cthulu role playing game. I listened to an audio version story of The Dunwich HorrorThe Dunwich Horror several weeks ago, though (Which I enjoyed), so I was quite looking forward to reading this anthology, which I felt would be a good introduction to the mythos, and the author's work.
The first story in this anthology is the original Lovecraft story, The Shadow over Innsmouth. It was good, but I have to say, I enjoyed The Dunwich Horror more, and even within this collection, it wasn't my favourite.
There are seventeen stories here, including The Shadow over Innsmouth. Like most anthologies, some were amazingly good, some were good or just "okay", and some were downright silly. They all have something to do with Innsmouth, and extend Lovecraft's original story in their own way. Some of them are actually SET in Innsmouth, while others are set in faraway lands whose history or people somehow relate back to that town.
What I liked about the collection as a whole was that there was no contradiction in any of the stories, and they were set in such a way that they flowed very nicely into each other. I now feel that I know a fair amount about the town, Dagon, and the Deep Ones, and I think I'll be exploring the whole mythos further!
I found the original story by H.P. Lovecraft a bit difficult to read, particularly those sections where Zadok was talking, because the accent came through thickly in the writing. I think that's a little over-done, and that there's a reason why many modern writing courses teach not to go overboard with regional inflections when writing dialogue! Also, the language is general is a little archaic and I'm not used to it any more. Still, I can appreciate Lovecraft's genius, and the world he has created, and I am most definitely not put off - I'll be reading more, as I said.
If you're looking for an introduction into Lovecraftian horror, I think that this anthology will serve your purposes well. You'll come out with an appreciation for the rich tapestry that was started by the man, and carried on very respectfully by many other authors after his death....more
So, a boy from Johannesburg goes to Eersteling in Natal to visit his aunt for the school holidays. There, he meets a girl from England, who is also stSo, a boy from Johannesburg goes to Eersteling in Natal to visit his aunt for the school holidays. There, he meets a girl from England, who is also staying at his aunt's place temporarily. The two of them meet another girl, who lives in the area, and the three of them meet a boy from a nearby township. The four of them go on an adventure together.
Have you ever read The Famous Five series, by Enid Blyton? Well, I did, and I was OBSESSED with the series, as a kid!
Even though there are only four kids in this story, I still thought that this is The Famous Five for the new generation; The Famous Five for the South African context. At least, that's the impression I get in the beginning of the story. Not so much by the end, but I won't tell you why, lest I spoil it for you.
And boy, is this book South African! The kids eat mealies instead of corn, wear tackies instead of sneakers, play glassie glassie instead of Ouija, and cut across velds instead of fields. Witches and wizards use muti instead of magical ingredients. I love it!
The story takes place in South Africa in the mid-twentieth century, during the Apartheid regime. Yes, I groaned a little too - I'm a bit tired of re-living that particular time in our history. It's nothing but horrific and depressing. But I needn't have worried, because while it does play a rather large part of the story, it's handled in a very tasteful way, a simple statement of fact about the way things are at the time we join the story. It adds a very nice authenticity to everything, and truth be told, nobody living in that time could've escaped it anyway. It also serves as a vehicle with which to introduce us to magic in black culture, and to learn a thing or two - for example, did you know that witches and witch-doctors are two different things? One of the characters in the book explains that white people often get the two mixed up. Well, I don't know about you, but I always did!
The Apartheid background also serves to add flavour to the period, because certain characters can reflect on the fact that when white and black people shake hands, or share a meal together, it's a rarity. In those days, a person's race was important, and the author consequently mentions the race of new characters as they're introduced, almost before any other features. Try and do that today, you'll be labelled a racist in a heartbeat (because that's exactly what you would be), but for the period in which the book is set, it was reality.
The overall pacing of the story is pretty good, although at some points I did feel it was maybe going a bit slowly, and in others I felt like I was racing to keep up. The characters are authentic and believable, and in my opinion generally act very appropriately to their ages.
It's marketed as a children's story. For the first half of the story, I sort of agreed, even though I felt that it was probably not appropriate for younger kids (say, kids younger than 12 or so), because some of the themes, and specific scenes, are quite dark and potentially a bit scary. There's also some explanation of Orthodox Christian theology, and it kind of flirts a bit with Demonology. Although it's explained in a way that children can understand, it's again a little bit frightening at some points.
By the second half of the story, though, my thoughts on age appropriateness were changing rapdily. As the realities of the Apartheid regime come to the fore more and more, it begins to become a major theme of the book, instead of just the backdrop that it had been up until that point. It gets very dark and violent, and I was beginning to think that the story is not appropriate for anybody under the age of sixteen. Sure, it could be pointed out that plenty of kids under sixteen DID live through that reality, they shouldn't have had to, in my opinion!
I honestly think this could turn into a really nice series, if the author so wished to write another one involving these characters. Jeffery and Catherine, in particular, are immediately likeable, and it would be really good to read about what happens to them next....more
I was INCREDIBLY conflicted when trying to decide how to rate this book.
On the plus side, I really enjoyed the concept, and the story was solid. As aI was INCREDIBLY conflicted when trying to decide how to rate this book.
On the plus side, I really enjoyed the concept, and the story was solid. As a Minecraft player myself, I squealed with delight at some of the references to the creatures, items, and blocks in the game. The descriptions were quite vivid, as well.
The problem with this book though, is that in my opinion, it was simply not ready for publication. It's riddled with typos and mixed up words (lay/lie/laid/lain is a common one, that the author couldn't manage to use consistently, never mind correctly). There's lots of redundancy, speech in all caps, and far too many interrobangs and multiple exclamation marks for my liking. The problem with all these things is that, every time I run across one, it destroys my immersion, yanking me out of the story and reminding me that I am, in fact, reading a book instead of witnessing the adventure unfold.
I know the author said that the book had been beta read and edited by many people prior to publication, but to my mind, they either don't have particularly strong editing skills, or they gave advice which the author ignored. They certainly weren't professional editors by any stretch - and I truly believe that a professional editor would do this work wonders!
There's also a fair amount of blasphemy in the dialogue ("Oh my God" and such). As a Christian, this offends me, but at least it's in the dialogue only, and I sadly have to admit that this is the way American teenagers talk these days, so while unnecessary, it's not entirely out of context.
Having said all of the above, I truly have a lot of respect for a 17 year old kid who can produce a full length novel, and a story with such depth. If you like Minecraft, you'll almost certainly enjoy this story.
Will I be reading the next one, when it comes out? I honestly don't know....more
Write. Publish. Repeat. was a finalist in this year's Goodreads Choice Awards, if memory serves, but I've known about it for quite a while. It's written by Johnny B. Truant and his partner in crime, Sean M. Platt. These are both absolute legends in the self-publishing world (as are all the authors in the set), with over 50 books published, so they really practice what they preach. The book is written for people who are serious about turning self-publishing into a business, and they make no bones about who the book is not for, and that you shouldn't bother reading it if you don't fall into that category. They cover everything from cover design (excuse the pun) to professional editing, to a little bit of marketing, but every single thing they say in the book comes down to one simple thing: Write. Publish. Repeat. And having written over a million words last year, they truly are an inspiration!
One of the things that stuck with me in this book is the concept of the 80:20 rule. You know, that rule in business that says that 80% of the things you do will get you 20% of the results? Well, Johnny and Sean turn that rule on its head, saying that you need to focus on the things that will bring you 80% of the revenue. All other things, they refer to as "20% things" (a term I'm definitely going to start using in both my day-job, and my author career). These are things which will bring you some results, but you should only consider doing them if your 80% stuff is done... and the most important of those 80% things is? Write more books. Duh!
Like I said, I had previously read the first edition of Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should, and I wasn't particularly interested in reading the second one. It's been updated for 2014 with some new options and case studies, but otherwise there isn't that much new information. If you've never read it before, I would highly recommend it, but I wouldn't recommend you bother picking it up if you've already read the first edition (unless it's part of a box set like this one, with good value for money, and other books you want to read)!
I have some huge respect for the author of How To Market A Book, having first come into contact with her through her YouTube channel, and then her website, and finally getting to know her a little better through her blog and Twitter accounts. As such, I have been wanting to read her book for a really long time! I must say, I wasn't disappointed. She gives some real no-nonsense advice about all the various options available to indie authors today, including social networking. There's also some advice in there about time management and discipline.
I particularly enjoyed her little anecdote (although it might have actually been as part of an interview for Write. Publish. Repeat.; I can't remember), where she says that she has a poster on her office wall, asking "Have you produced art, today?" She tries to make sure she always ends the day being able to answer "Yes" to that question. Her definition of "art", in case you're wondering, is anything that contributes to her body of work in the world, so it could be a short story, podcast, video, or work on a longer project like a novel.
The interview at the end is a transcript of a Google Hangout between Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, David Gaughran, and Joanna Penn, and it's incredibly entertaining. A lot of what they talk about is actually covered separately in their respective books, but in the chat it's a lot more casual, and besides, the repetition helps it sink in a little easier.
Overall, I enjoyed these books and found them to be quite inspirational. I truly think the information I've learnt is going to help me along in my own writing career, and I recommend these books to any author (self-published or otherwise, come to think of it) serious about making a career from their writing....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's designed, as the title suggests, as a survival guide for kids who are being bullied, but there are so many differI thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's designed, as the title suggests, as a survival guide for kids who are being bullied, but there are so many different layers, I think that it could really benefit anyone, at any age.
Aija's story is both sad and inspirational. She doesn't give too many details about her own personal experience with bullying; just enough for you to know that this girl knows what she's talking about, and for you to understand that, if you're being bullied, you're not alone.
Much of this book contains practical advice to how to handle being bullied at school. And of course, it's American-centric. In the rest of the world, we're the bit different, in the sense that we don't have "hallways" or "lunch rooms" per se (since our school premises are mostly outdoors, with only individual class rooms and administration offices being indoors), and we wear school uniforms. This mitigates some of the things that an American kid might be bullied for, but also adds a few other things that they don't have to worry about.
Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the list of things that you may be bullied for (spoiler alert: it's literally endless). There is absolutely no way you can predict what kind of things about yourself would make a bully target you, which means that there is absolutely nothing you can do or not do to stop from being targeted by bullies. You would think that this news would be depressing, but it's not. It lets us know that we're not alone, and millions of people around the world suffer from the same things we do.
I'm an adult, but I was bullied as a kid, and I can identify with a lot of what Ms Mayrock talks about in this book. I also really enjoyed the chapter of Cyber Bullying, because that's something that can affect you no matter how old you are or where you are in life. Then, the final chapter, about the benefits of bullying, I can also really identify with. I fully understand that what I went through in school has shaped who I am today, and I would be a completely different person, were it not for those experiences.
The author is a very wise young lady, and I think her message is a truly powerful one. I'm going to be recommending this book to kids I meet, or even parents I meet, of kids who are suffering from bullying. I honestly think it could be a huge help to them.
I enjoyed Aija's "Roems" and little inspirational messages as well. The only issue I have is that they're a bit weird in an ebook, because they're handwritten pages, inserted into the book as images. It makes them rather difficult to read on small screens - but on my 10.1" tablet, I didn't have too many problems....more
One for the Road is somewhat of a sequel to 'Salem's Lot. I don't think you'll miss much if you read this one without having read Salem's Lot, but don't read this one if you intend to read its predecessor, or it'll be spoilt for you.
A man shows up at a bar one day, in a town a short distance from Jerusalem's Lot, saying that his car ran out of fuel in the Lot, and he left his wife and daughter there while he came to look for help. The narrator and his friend finally agree to drive him back to fetch them, but they're not happy about it, because of the legendary creatures that inhabit the Lot.
The pacing is fantastic, and the tension builds perfectly. The ending is quite satisfying. I don't know who the audio-book narrator is, but he does a fantastic job in reading! I don't know if I would've given the book five stars if I'd have just read the book myself, but I strongly recommend you go listen to the YouTube video I put in the top of this review!...more
H.P. Lovecraft is someone I've been meaning to read for quite some time now, having been fascinated by Cthulu and the mythos for many years, ever since I started roleplaying.
After listening to this story, I can attest to the fact that he was insane in his genius... or perhaps genius in his insanity.
In the town of Dunwich, a child called Wilbur Whately is born. We don't know who his father is, but his mother and grandfather are strange people indeed. Wilbur begins to grow and learn far faster than any normal human, and within a few years, he is dabbling in things and raising a demon from the dead.
The descriptions of the horrors are very vivid, and I felt myself shuddering more than once. I'm not sorry I decided to finally pick up this author, and I will most definitely be reading more in the series. If you enjoy horror, you should to - he may well be the father of modern horror!...more
I'm a pretty big fan of Stephen King, and when this novella came up on Scribd, I jumped at the chance to read it.
It was okay, I guess, but not reallyI'm a pretty big fan of Stephen King, and when this novella came up on Scribd, I jumped at the chance to read it.
It was okay, I guess, but not really what I've come to expect from King. The story is occasionally creepy, but never scary. It's often predictable, and although the ending is a bit unexpected, there's never anything in it to truly shock me.
Oh, the writing style is perfect, and I love the candid way that the author speaks to the reader, so no issues there. It's definitely got Stephen King's signature in that respect. I just... expected a bit more, is all....more
This was a decent enough story, and the ending was a bit surprising. But, something was off.
The book is supposed to be set in a fantasy world, but theThis was a decent enough story, and the ending was a bit surprising. But, something was off.
The book is supposed to be set in a fantasy world, but the language simply didn't support it. Words and idioms were used that quite simply would never have been used in those days (like someone being "thrown under the bus"), and concepts, such as electric current, are mentioned, without any explanation as to how the technology would be available, much less commonplace.
Furthermore, Thalia (our heroin), is an impetuous, vindictive, and melodramatic child, who takes every little slight as the end of the world. Yes, she's only seventeen years old, but I can barely imagine a seventeen year old, today, behaving as immaturely as she does. In the typical medieval fantasy world, there's just no way she would possibly survive as long as she has by the time we meet her.
As yes, a medieval level of technology, like it or not, has become the default assumption for a fantasy story, unless the book explains otherwise. It doesn't.
Much of the story is supposed to be against the backdrop of a distinguished college for those with inborn magical abilities, but other than the occasional mention of someone performing magic, the language and other descriptions used makes it difficult for me to believe that it's not any other typical American college campus (and yes, the word "campus" is used more than once).
One thing that I can say is that I do respect that the author is a Christian, and therefore there is only one God in the world, and people pray to Him. That is refreshing, but I think that because of that fact, Hahn could have gone to a little bit more trouble of introducing the religion of the world, and how it all fits in with Christianity... or leave religion out entirely: there are plenty of really good fantasy tales where religion doesn't play any part at all.
All in all, it was a somewhat entertaining story, although as other reviews have pointed out, there isn't any real closure, and the book is just a set-up for the next instalment in the series. The problem is, I didn't enjoy it enough to want to read the next instalment....more