Isabelle Joshua

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I only give it 3 stars because while I liked the book, I didn't love it. But I would recommend others to read it for themselves. The story and the idea of it are very original (husband and wife isolated on a lighthouse island desperate for children, rescue a baby without known parents and take her for their own. The resulting deception and tragedy that the child's mother is alive and grief struck with the loss of her baby and husband cause the make-shift family to fall apart.)

The storytelling dragged at times and maybe because I listened to the audiobooks, but I wasn't clear who some characters were at times. I was getting them confused. It was very sad at the end, and it ended as well as a story about such a difficult situation could end. I'm not sure why the connection and love that was apparent between Tom and Isabelle wasn't as moving as I think it should be.

CORRECTION: I thought this book was written by a man and assumed that maybe that is why I didn't connect with the emotions and writing, but M.L. Stedman is a woman, so there goes that theory about the disconnect. But I still stand by my assessment that there is a disconnect of emotions that may be because it was written from 3rd person, so there was a detachment throughout the book that mirrors Tom's personality.

I would recommend other to read the book because I think it does show interesting dilemmas concerning bitterness, hatred, forgiveness, deceit, love and redemption. So many of the characters went through these and suffered loss. It also is a portrayal of a small community and how it affects everyone in it. The townspeople and their complicity in the crime but yet denial of it.

A good book, I can't say that I would read it again but it was very thought-provoking, and I want to see the movie. I have a feeling I will like the movie much more than the book.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Review: The Ladies' Room

The Ladies' Room The Ladies' Room by Carolyn Brown
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Read this book because it was chosen for my book club. Wasn't my choice and I wasn't a big fan. It was an okay read. But the writing style seemed unnaturally rushed and the inner dialog was flat as one other commenter said. The dialog seemed forced and unnatural at times as well. This is the opposite of other stories where the protagonist is left with nothing and has to make it on her own. Tudy is given everything and is forced to make it own her own. I didn't think there was much development of Billy's character and Drew continues to be an ass. It was a fast read and kept my interest enough for me to finish it but I felt like she just ended it too quickly as well.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Character and Scene Descriptions

As a writer, I struggle over descriptions and describing the scene and what my characters look like. I spend countless hours researching outfits (if it is important to the scene) or homes and the layout.  For every book I've written, I have a Pinterest page where I save images, and I save homes that I scour the internet for to use as the homes of my characters. I have to picture it all in my head and then translate it down onto the page.  But I also know that my stories are anemic when it comes to descriptions compared to other authors.  When I write a scene, I usually plow through with the dialog or what is happening and then go back on the second draft and add more description unless it was originally pivotal to the scene.  But as I reader, my focus is entirely different.

I realized this during a discussion with the book club I'm a part of.  We were discussing the differences between the character described in some of our favorite books and the actor's portrayal or appearance in the movie version.  I typically separate the book from the movie version because the author usually has minimal control over what happens in the movie.  But the women were going on and on about the differences between who played the characters and how different his look was to the one in the book. I was baffled, I said I rarely remember what the characters look like unless it is a very prominent characteristic or mentioned frequently. They suggested that it could be that I read the books so fast it is hard to remember the details.  Maybe but I think the details aren't as important to me.  I like the action as a reader, and I want the story to move. And so often the story drags when it suddenly starts describing a character's outfit in the middle of the action.  Especially if it doesn't add anything, I don't effing care that he is wearing epaulets unless they have some special power that saves the world, because otherwise the character need to get on with it, her friends are waiting for her to save the world!

Maybe it is just me, but I don't care what the curtain or the end table looked like or if it was some antique 2nd century whatever, does it matter to the story? No, then tell me it's an antique end table and move on!

Crazy Reviews

I write reviews for books, but I can never come up with more than just a few sentence even if I absolutely loved the book.  I probably can come up with a more thorough review when I actually do not like the book.

Then I joined a book club (excited to talk to fellow book lovers), and I expressed my amazement at other reviewers dissertations on books. I hate when reviewers rewrite the blurb that the publisher or author wrote because that is easily found usually further up the page on Amazon.  But then the reviewer spends the next eight lengthy paragraphs intimately dissecting the book. How??

I mean where does all that come from.  I thought maybe I lack this skill because I speed read.  I can usually read a 300-400 page in a day, so the elaborate descriptions that the author painstakingly created are breezed by to get to the meat. Anyway, I've gotten off topic.

What I am amazed at is the level of detail in the reviews.

I googled "how to write great book reviews" and here is a smattering of the advice and links.

Of course, WikiHow weighs in, and it feels more like an academic exercise.
Step 1: "Read the book and take notes. If possible, read the book multiple times, as repeat reads tend to lead a reader (or reviewer) to view aspects of the story, the setting and the character(s) in a new or different way."  OMG, hello, I am not taking notes while I am reading this book, talk about getting out of the story.
Step 2: Think about the book's genre and/or field of study.  
Really, it's YA Fiction, or Romance, or Historical Romance, or Suspense, etc. Again, this doesn't really help me.
Step 3: Determine the major themes of the book. 
This step might have some merit, but I don't read a book for the theme. The characters, yes, but usually not the themes.
Step 4: Consider the author's writing style. Yes, I probably do this some and more depending on the book.  Like Shatter Me, I loved the author's writing style or the protagonist's voice which was lyrical, what many describe as purple prose, but I think it worked.
Step 5: Think about how well the author develops the major areas or points in the book.
Eh, maybe.  I probably talk more about how the character develops within the book or progresses, but I don't think I cover this.

Anyway, I didn't read this whole WikiHow because I realize it has three parts with a total of about 15-20 steps.  Shit.  Sorry, I'm not spending any more time on that site, but I have the link if any of you are interested.

The next one is probably closer to what currently do but mine are freeform, and I hate as I mentioned earlier the Step 1 on the list below.  Usually, because a better description of the book is on Amazon or other book sites and I don't want to waste my time with a book summary.

BookTrust - Writer:  Luisa Plaja
1) Start with a couple of sentences describing what the book is about
2) Discuss what you particularly liked about the book
3) Mention anything you disliked about the book
4) Round up your review

So if these other bloggers or reviewers follow a mix of this or some other guide for the book (some provided for book clubs), I wonder why.

Do you as a reader find long reviews helpful?  What steps do you think are vital?  I write the review within a day or so of finishing the book and most of the time within the hour when it is fresh in my mind.  What am I missing? Or are you happy with the reviews?  I can't say that I will change much but I might.  I'm not too old to learn new tricks!  Thanks!


Review: Winter

Winter Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were times in this book that were sooo frustrating. In the middle of the action, unlike in other books, she would spend so much time on descriptions or explain the characters emotions. The scene with Winter and Scarlet going to get the wolf soldiers was infuriating, Winter's craziness was not enough of an excuse for her indecision. But Scarlet rocked! I really love Cress, but she was beyond frustrating as she was paralysed with fear and then when running into Ki the author spend a paragraph on the description of his clothes. I understand that it is a technique to slow down the scene but really it is an intense action scene doesn't need to be slowed down. The characters got even better and had more depth of character. And I didn't understand why Cinder didn't use her glamour which looks like Channery to convince them all that she is Princess Selene. Over and over it says how furious and angry she is, but yet it comes to nothing. It was so nervewracking, and I was on the edge of my seat, but then I would get so frustrated because of the delay in action. But I did really like this book, and the conclusion was satisfying. I don't have the same issues that other reviewers have about Cinder's choice about Lunar. It was a really good finale to the series, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: Cress

Cress Cress by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be my favorite book of all of the Lunar chronicles. I love Cress and I love Thorne. I laughed so much at spots in this book and Thorne was one of the most relatable characters of the series.

The additional characters and the complex subplots made this book extremely interesting and enjoyable.

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Review: Scarlet

Scarlet Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book even more than the first book. The storyline became very interesting and the characters were compelling. I listened to this on audio and my only complaint was Scarlet's character and all her vehemence and yelling. Maybe because of the french accent as well made her shrieking seems especially harsh, but she was constantly yelling about getting her Grandmere back. I really liked Wolf's character and love Thorne. He might be my favorite character by far in the series.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: Cinder

Cinder Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good book. It isn't great, but it was entertaining and I was very interested to find out what happens after this book is over. I like the characters.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Panic

Panic Panic by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting premise and while many think it is unbelievable, they must not be around a lot of teenagers because they are dumb and engage in risky behavior for much less than this book proposes. Also, the setting of the town and the idea of escape and that these teens will do anything to escape is a very strong compelling force. What I disliked most about this book was Heather's best friend, I've forgotten her name, but she was a spoiled, whiny, manipulative bitch. God, she was getting hurt or complaining all the time. It kept my interest and although some of the storylines and conflicts were predictable and incongruent at times, I did like the story. The other thing that I didn't like was the ending, all wrapped up in a little bow. I don't know what the reason is to do that is; I want a satisfying ending, but it was sudden and too much. There was unresolved conflict that just went away, and everything was fine. I really liked Bishop's character the best.

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