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Monday, November 30, 2015

November 9 | Colleen Hoover

“‘One of the things I always try to remind myself is that everyone has scars,’ she says. “A lot of them are worse than mine. The only difference is that mine are visible and most people’s aren’t.’”

Genre: Romance
Number of Pages: 320
Perspective: Alternating First
Location: California and New York

November 9 is the story of Ben and Fallon. On the day they meet, Ben helps Fallon in an argument against her dad. They immediately have a connection, but Fallon is moving—that night. They agree to meet in the same spot on the same date every year for a few years, with no additional contact. This is so that they both have a chance to experience life and mature. But life and love are never that simple. For a complete summary, you can go here.


Any book that makes me stay up to crazy hours in the middle of the night to finish the night before a twelve hour drive deserves five stars. [Not to mention that I started it as I laid down for bed]. It's been awhile since a book has consumed me like that… and it feels GOOD. That is why another one of Colleen’s books ended up winning my Best Book Award

I hate romance novels. But why do I keep reading Colleen Hoover’s stories? I just finished her book Confess less than a month ago. When I started it, I had no clue that it was romance. So that was my excuse. But then, I knowingly read another one of her romance novels. Why? Because she’s freaking awesome! [Side note: if you don’t already follow her on social media, you should. She’s hilarious.] 

In this book, she even jokes about the cheesiness and unbelievability of most romance novels. This does contain some cheesiness, but the story is so captivating, that it doesn’t really matter. 

I don’t want to say too much since I don’t believe in giving out spoilers in a review, but it does have a similar feel to Confesswhich is good because that means she has a specific style of writing. So if you’ve read that, then you know you can expect angst and a twist. Romance novels aren’t supposed to make love look easy, right? Now I’m off to read all of her other books… If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it hereAfter you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

P.S. This is one of the quickest and easiest book reviews I have ever written.

“I think I’ve been overlooking the best parts of romance novels. Maybe the grand gesture doesn't really matter nearly as much as all the inconsequential things between the two main characters.”

 5/5 Stars

*****

o Amber Gregg o




Friday, November 27, 2015

Why I Love Happily-Ever-Afters

This is a guest post by Elsa Winckler.
There is something about a happily-ever-after that still gets me every time and I’m way past the age where one is supposed to still believe in that. Despite all the curveballs life has thrown my way I still believe in kindred spirits, soul mates, love at first sight and the possibility of being happy forever.

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I married my college sweetheart and we celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary earlier this year. Being married, having kids, going through one crisis after the other, in other words when life happens, it’s easy to forget why you fell in love in the first place. But when you do remember, the rest becomes white noise.

I’m an avid reader and literally read every book in the library of the small town where I grew up. But somewhere along the way, I’ve realized the stories with the happy endings, the stories with the promise of hope – those are the ones I love to read. So when I’ve decided to try and write a story, there was never any doubt in my mind that it would be a romance.

To sit down and give life to the characters in my head and the endless conversations they have with one another, gives me great pleasure. Every time I reach that moment where the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, I’m smiling.

So I hope you enjoy reading about the Cavallo brothers and their happily-ever-afters as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about them. 



Inspired by the writing of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James, and the Brontë sisters, Elsa Winckler likes her heroines beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong. She married her college boyfriend who, after 40 years, still makes her weak in the knees. They have 3 interesting and wonderful children and 3 beautiful grandsons, and live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty's Bay, South Africa with the ocean a block away. Visit with the author on her website at: www.elsawinckler.com. 





Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Some Well Meant Advice On How To Avoid Giving Author Interviews

This is a guest post by James Roberts.

As the writer of a one of the funniest books ever written I am often pressed for what I would describe as 'authorial titbits'. (This current article being a case in point). This phenomenon, the desire to know all about 'the author', I am afraid to say, is particularly virulent amongst that generation for which a free university education, affordable mortgages and paying for recorded music are quite fanciful notions. Ergo, younger readers, or the NA market if you happen to be up on your genres. Now being one of those wordsmiths for whom more than a half page of text per day is likely to bring about a seizure, this presents something of a problem. No words to spare, as it were. On these occasions, I often find myself calling upon my old chum Roland Barthes and his seminal monograph Death of the Author (1967). 

Why? you ask. Well, let me tell you. Within the many, many pages of Death of Barthes puts forward a convincing argument (or so I am told) for the breakdown of certainty between sign and signifier, the inadequacy of language as a method of transmitting true meaning, and thus, the inevitable divorce of the author from their work. He also uses a lot of made-up words like  'phallogocentrism' and to be honest the whole thing is one huge semiotic car crash. But that need not concern you at this point. All you need to know is that Barthes, along with fellow 'post-structuralists' Jacques Derrida and some other Frenchmen, whilst being inadvertently responsible for the overuse of the prefix 'post', ditto some public buildings being built inside-out and a large number of monumentally rubbish paintings, should be given credit for pointing out that there really is very little mileage {or kilometers} in the 'reader' getting to know 'the author'.

So struggling wordsmiths everywhere take heart. Next time some youthful book nerd wassails you on the interweb demanding an author interview, try appending them a copy of Bathes' masterpiece. Then, when the unfortunate youth finds his or herself throwing Death of out of the toilet window whilst tweeting "what an impenetrable slab of garlic nonsense", and by doing so perfectly demonstrating dear Roland's most profound spéculation, you will at least have introduced them to the notion of irony, whilst having saved yourself 400 words of authorial pain and strife.

Happy writing.  




James Roberts is a forty-something indie author and misanthrope who currently resides in the remoter outreaches of the Highlands of Scotland. He states his profession as 'freelance copywriter', being far too vain and supercilious to admit to being 'mostly out of work'. His debut novel, Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce, has been described (here) as the funniest book ever written. To learn more about the book and nothing about its author please visit http://www.jamesroberts.scot.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Storyteller | Jodi Picoult

“It’s amazing what you can convince yourself of, if you buy into the lie.”

Genre: Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 460
Perspective: Alternating First
Location: New England, Germany, and other parts of Europe

The Storyteller is about a girl, Sage, that is asked to partake in assisted suicide and to forgive an ex-Nazi. Her grandma was a survivor of the Holocaust, so she has to decide what is the right thing to do. For a complete summary, you can go here.

Let me start off by saying that I am not a Jodi Picoult fan. She has written so many books, and many of them become very well known. I have read two of her books and I was not impressed. They were boring and drawn out. But all of her books, including this one, have to do with some sort of ethical dilemma. More on that later. After reading her book Change of Heart, I vowed to never read one of her books again. But my book club happened to choose The Storyteller this month, so I had to suck it up and give her another chance. Honestly, I am very grateful that I did. 

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you probably know that I hate knowing anything about a book before reading it. I don’t even read the summary on the back. I usually go based on recommendations or—gasp—the cover. The cover of this book looks sweet and innocent. I had NO idea that this was a book about the Holocaust. Boy, was I in of a surprise. I normally hate historical fiction novels. I have never been good at history and find it to be rather boring. So everything was against this book before I started reading it, but it really was a great book. 

If you are looking for a feel-good, light read, this is not the one for you. It is sad, brutal, and really difficult to get through. But it is definitely a book worth reading. It gives a new perspective on Nazis and the effects of clumping the actions of an individual into the actions of a group. The main theme is forgiveness: who can give it and who deserves it? Like many of Jodi’s books, it is sorting through an ethical dilemma. We are taken through the perspectives of many different people so the main character can decide what’s right and what’s wrong. And we can also make our own decisions about that. At least in my book club, everyone has a different opinion about what the main character should do, including the opposite of what actually happens in the story—I can’t say more than that without ruining the story.

The best books are ones where you walk away from them with a whole new idea about something or feeling deeply about an issue that you’ve never really cared about before. I could see this as a great book to complement a history class talking about World War II. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it hereAfter you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“In my own room, I looked around. What you grab, if you had to pack up your life in only minutes?”


4/5 Stars
*****

o Amber Gregg o


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Confess | Colleen Hoover

“There are people you meet that you get to know, and then there are people you meet that you already know.”

Genre: New Adult Romance
Number of Pages: 306
Perspective: First Alternating
Location: Dallas, Texas

Confess is about Auburn and Owen. Auburn has a strict plan for her future, but that all changes when she walks into Owen’s art studio. They fall quickly for each other, but they each have their own secrets. It may be in the greater good for them to stay apart rather than expose their secrets. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I hate romance novels, but I loved this book! It even won my Best Book Award! I think what I hate most about romance novels are the cheesy lines and the too perfect relationships. But Colleen Hoover avoids that. She’s been noted to say that she hates romance novels too, and never imagined that she would write one herself.  

There were a few things that I really loved about this book. First of all, I loved that people submitted confessions and they were turned into art. It reminded me of Post Secret and the book Life By Committee. There is something powerful about revealing a secret, even if it is to strangers. The people reading it may connect to the peson who shares their secret. I also love that Hoover found a real artist and used his paintings in her book. It is awesome to see different mediums being combined and a collaboration among different professions. 

This story had some good twists that were impactful and believable. I hate when a book throws in a twist just for the hell of it—when the twist is too crazy, the whole believability of the book goes out the window. These twists really do have a purpose and are what strengthen the book—and the final twist actually makes the rest of the book believable for me and justifies most of the main characters’ actions throughout the book. 

I would recommend this book to anyone that loves love and a good story. You don’t have to be a fan of romance novels to love and appreciate this book. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it hereAfter you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“It’s amazing how much distance one truth can create between two people.” 

 5/5 Stars

*****

o Amber Gregg