My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The "F" Effect

It's New Year's Eve, and a dreary day, so let's have story time, shall we?

Say, hypothetically, you have a teenager who is flunking math. And say, hypothetically, you punish said teenager by taking away said teenager's iPod.

What happens next?

A) The teenager sighs but takes the punishment like a trooper.
B) The teenager calls you a name and slams the bedroom door.
C) The teenager threatens to run away from home.

Let's pick...C.

OK, so the iPod has been stripped from the teenager's grasping little fingers. There's wailing. There's whining. There's gnashing of teeth. Parental ears are genetically coded to block such teenage assault. The iPod is firmly tucked away for safe keeping. Grumpy, slumpy teenager stomps to the bus and is whisked away in a belching cloud of fat, yellow bus exhaust.

While on the bus, the teenager rants against the inhumane parental punishment, leeching the one entertainment available to the teenager on the laborious ride to school. Quick with pen and paper, teenager vents by authoring a note:

"I'm leaving. By the time you read this, I'll be far away."

Teenager slaps the note down, crosses arms, and sulks all the merry way to school. A day goes by, fraught with learning, and when teenager comes home from school, it's necessary to wash away all that learning residue, and hops in the shower. Whilst in the shower, teenager hears dog barking like a maniacal Cujo-resurrected-from-doggie-hell kind of way. Teenager drips to the window to inspect what is disturbing the force.

Oh my. The police have arrived!

Crazy, salivating dog is tucked safely away in a bedroom while teenager eyes the suspicious cops lingering by the front porch. Teenager does not confront them.

The phone rings. It's the police requesting an audience with teenager.

While teenager is speaking with the police at the front door, the father parental comes sliding into the driveway. The father is confronted with the idea that teenager just may have some serious issues. Teenager could be on the verge of running away. Teenager could want to end it all.

What the he...? the father blusters.

"The teenager left a note on the bus."

Teenager looks sheepish. "Oh yeah..."

Father parental explains that teenager was angry in the morning because the iPod was taken away. Teenager was being overly-dramatic, and is not in crisis.

"That explains it," says the officer. "However, the ambulance has already been called."


Teenager is gurneyed into the ambulance and carted off to the hospital where teenager is gowned and tagged and told to wait for a crisis counselor. Teenager watches T.V. and does all the happy things teenagers do...minus the iPod, of course.

3 1/2 hours later a crisis counselor takes 5 minutes to evaluate teenager, coming to the conclusion that said teenager is a normal teenager who got angry and thought about running away for all of 2 minutes. The teenager is not in crisis, stop wasting my time, thank you very much. Teenager is sent packing.

Sheepish teenager arrives home. Teenager still doesn't get back the iPod, but the parentals get landed with a 4 figure bill to pay for it all.

This is called the "F" effect.

Hope you enjoyed the story!

Book Review: Darkfever, by Karen Moning

Karen Moning

22 year-old Mac is devastated over her sister's unsolved death. She flees her sultry home in Georgia to land in Ireland, intending on kicking some life back into the lifeless investigation. What she finds is a dark world of the fae, come to life right before her supernatural eyes. She's drawn to this parralel life in the hope of solving her sister's murder, aided by a mysterious man, named Barrons, who also has one foot planted in this surreal world.

I liked the premise of this book quite a bit. If you're new to the world of fae (as I am) everything is rather clear to the noob. The characters, though not exactly lovable, are vivid and clear and easy to imagine, right down to the blush pink nail polish. When I think of Mac, I think of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. Ms. Moning has painted quite a vision. It was a world I could see and believe in.

There are some things I didn't like. For one, all the ominous foreshadowing. The "if I only knew then what I know now" statements that are sprinkled throughout the book. I'll allow it, once, in the prologue, but not in the story. I'm more the "just tell the damned story and quit trying to interject your thoughts and spoil it thank you very much" kind of girl. If a character is going down the wrong path, don't tell me that...let me learn it on my own as I read. Let the surprise take me away. Nothing says "spoiler alert" like a statement "It would turn out to be one of those things I was wrong about". There are more creative ways to end a chapter.

I also don't like my action broken up by mini info-dumps. You know, when you're right in the middle of a scene, and the author has to pull you out of the action to let you know that the reason the character is doing or feeling or knowing something is because, back when she was a little girl, she used to do X with her dad? Um, no. I don't want to skip down memory lane right when something major is going to happen. Put up the road block and let the action play out.

I just couldn't feel any connection to Mac, who is shallow and concerned about hair and makeup and clothes. She's not the sort I would pick out in a crowd and say, "Let's be BFFs!" Squeal, giggle, hug. I couldn't care about what she was going through.

The other thing that was missing for me, besides not wanting to be BFFs with Mac, was emotional investment. I wasn't feeling it. Part of it was because of the telling and not showing. I don't feel the anger Mac is feeling with lines like "I was getting madder by the minute". You and read on but the emotional bank account is kind of empty. The same goes for the sensual aspects of the story. Didn't feel anything there either.

Oh, and I found it annoying that the epic battle scene at the end virtually didn't take place on the pages of the story. It was over in like 1/2 a page. I couldn't picture what even happened, other than Mac swiping, slashing and dodging. What the hell's up with that? That's either kind of lazy writing or lack of imagination on the author's part, because I wasn't given enough information here to actually "see" what was going on.

I will say this: the last third of the book rocked (except for the aforementioned battle scene), and by this time Mac had grown up a little and I'm kind of liking the woman she's turning out to be. I even almost like Barrons, whose mystery appears to live on in the sequel. There are issues I want to see play out, questions I want answered, and mysteries resolved. Despite the rather long list of annoyances I portrayed here, they're not enough to keep me from reading more in the series. I look forward to it.

Book Review: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins

The last installment of the Hunger Games series finds Kat broken and shattered and seemingly beyond repair. In fact, there are a number of characters who seem behond repair. It's a dismal outlook for many of our friends as the world, Hunger Games style, goes to war against the Capital.

I can't say that I liked this book as well as the others. Yes, it was finely written. Yes, the story stayed true to form and yes, barreled along to a riveting, and sometimes heart-breaking, conclusion.

But, while in real life a girl who'd been through the trauma that our dear Kat had been through would indeed be a shell of herself, catatonic even, for an achingly long time until she got her head squared, in book-time it was an excruciatingly long time. I wanted the story to get on, I wanted Kat to snap out of it, I wanted her to get up and kick the shit out of the Capital.

Kat got there, but for me, it took too long to get there.

Okay, I'm not heartless. I felt for Kat. Truly, I did, but if anything significant happened during her down-time, I don't recall it. I don't know what it was supposed to add to the story. I don't recall the significance of the length of down-time as it related to the story, other than showing the Kat was mentally out for the count.

But we would have been silly to count Kat out.

Anyway, with that being said, I loved how the series ended. The last half of the novel kicked ass. And while Kat didn't end up with who I *wanted* her to end up with, she ended up with who she should have ended with. It was right. And some of the players died. Was I happy with some of those deaths? No, I was not. But that heart-wrenching reality is what makes a story good, makes it real, makes it a not-so-happy-ending for everyone...just like life.

Spot on, Suzanne!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

Book 2 in the Hunger Games series finds Katniss at odds with Peeta, with herself, with Gale, with the world. She doesn't quite know where she fits in, the world is changing, and her life is changing. President Snow is forcing her to go through with a wedding she doesn't want, casting dire threats against everyone Katniss loves. Then lo and behold, a new Games is announced, and this time the Capitol is breaking all the rules.

I have one word for this book: Riveting.

I couldn't put it down. Dinners didn't get cooked. Clothes didn't get washed. Husbands were ignored (ok, that plural is just for dramatic effect...I don't have multiple husbands), kids were ignored, pets were ignored.

Suzanne kept the tension throughout the story...even the beginning describing the tedious wedding preparations kept my attention, and I could sympathize with Katniss over dress selection and all the boring details (personally, I got my wedding dress off the rack...bought the first one I grabbed).

Ultimately, Katniss finds herself in what seems a lose-lose situation, and I *had* to find out how clever Suzanne was going to bring Kat out of the mess intact. Well, physically anyway.

One of my top fave reads this year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: Double Cross, by James Patterson

Double Cross
by James Patterson

Alex Cross is back, and he has double the trouble. It's hard enough tracking one bad-ass serial killer, but two? It's enough to give one a migraine.

As usual, James Patterson creates a complex plot filled with twists and turns, hills and dales, hairpin curves, and sheer drops. There's a reason Patterson is a best-selling author, and honey, it ain't bad writing.

Alex Cross is building his private practice, but finds himself sucked back into police work when he visists a murder scene with his lady love. Alex can't resist scoping things out for himself, and then the ball starts rolling. As the serial killer starts racking up the body count, Alex can't help but notice these murders are similar to his old nemesis's artwork...Kyle Craig.

But which murders are copies, and which are the real mccoy? Impossible, right? Kyle is in a maximum security prison. The maximist security.

The murders are brutal. These guys don't just kill; they torture. Sometimes you have to wonder what kind of brain thinks up this stuff. It's like the movies by Quentin Tarantino. The guy is a master of sick. Sometimes after watching one of his movies my husband will turn to me and say, "What kind of sick f*** comes up with this shit?" Seriously, you have to wonder if it's safe to have a guy like that walking the streets, the kind of stuff churning in his brain is just scary.

Patterson doesn't quite reach that level of sick-dom. Maybe it's because he doesn't dwell on the killing, or draw out the torture scenes, but his characters are just as evil. Killers with no conscience. The scary part is they are out there. For real. And Patterson has tapped that keg of fear and manipulated it into a hot little page-turner.

Here's what I didn't like about it. While reading the story, it was a page-turner. However, it was easy to put the book down, and the characters/story didn't stay with me. Out of sight, out of mind. It's like a burrito that keeps coming up on you...hours later you haven't forgotten that burrito. OK, that's kind of a gross analogy, but it works. That's how I like my stories. I want characters and a story that I find myself regurgitating as I go about my day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Doctor Appointments Can Be Exhausting

OK, so I finally feel like I'm back on the grid both electronically, emotionally, and physically. Sometimes shit never ends, ya know? No phone or internet for 15 days; then the computer gets some kind of virus (I think) because the computer functions, but I can't load any web pages; work is slam busy with 12-15 hours days; and then I got the mother of all migraines...sort of like a move-and-puke kind of day. Lotsa fun, huh? Good golly, miss Molly, dress me in red and call me jolly.

So anyway, here I am in all my whining glory!

As if my life doesn't have enough *excitement*, I took a half day off from work because my daughter had a doctor appointment right after school. We live in a small town that shares a middle/high school with 3 other towns, so her school is actually 2 towns away from where we live. No biggy. It's a drive, but really, no biggy.

So I tell her *three* times before she leaves for school, "Don't get on the bus, don't get on the bus, don't get on the bus," because they say kids learn by repitition. Apparently that doesn't work for *mothers' voices"...which are basically tuned out at the first syllable that dares escape moms' lips to daughters' ears.

I have to pick her up by 2:20 to get her to the doctor by 3:15. I pull up to the school at 2:18, and I'm thinking I'm so slick because I'm usually running late and driving like a bat out of hell to get me to the church on time, know what I'm saying? So I pull in and park along the sidewalk.

No Cassie.

Despite the little stick figure perched on my brain waving this big-ass red flag that says "she got on the bus", I figure she's taking her time since she didn't have to run for the bus, so I wait almost 10 minutes.

No Cassie.

I park, enter the school, search the hallways, have her paged to the office, pace the hall.

No Cassie.

At this point, it's becoming clear she's put her little fanny on the bus. Not good. But I can't call her to make sure, because I have her cell phone because my son has my cell phone because he's broken his cell phone. So I call him to find out if she's on the bus home with him. Good plan, until you figure into the equation that he forgot to bring his (my) phone and it's at home, on the kitchen table, ringing with not a soul to hear it, except the dog, and the cat, neither of whom give a flying fart because they've both snuck into my room and are sleeping on my bed which is off limits.

By this time it's 2:40. If I leave *right now* I can still make the doctor appointment, which is pointless without the patient. I call the doctor and explain that dear daughter is MIA and I have to go home and find her so I can kill her (okay, I didn't say that last part, but I sure as hell was thinking it). They tell me to call when I get home and they'll see if they can still fit her in.

I turn on the car, and bells are ringing and the gas guage dives to E. Great. Juuuust great. There are 2 gas stations between the school and my house, and now I'm going to have to sacrifice five whole minutes of my time to get gas.

So I pull into the first gas station I see, go in and pay, and start pumping. A few minutes later I have all of 1/2 gallon. Wha-huh? I peek around the pump and ask the nearby gentleman pumper if he's getting any gas. Nope. I run inside and tell the lady her pumps ain't pumping. She can do nothing but "call someone". I run back outside, turn off my pump, run back inside to get my money back, but then have to wait in line because by now everyone else is doing the same thing. I get my money, dive back into my car. It's now 2:50.

Off I drive (fly) to gas station #2. Bells are ringing and clocks are ticking. But gas station #2 is so full of people who left gas station #1 before me that the line extends to the outer limits. I seriously do not have time to wait in line. I look at my gas guage, look at the line, and hit the pedal. I'm going for it.

I get home. Dear daughter is there. "Ooops, I forgot," says she. I call the doctor, and get a busy signal. I call 5 times before I get through. By this time it's 3:10, and it takes me 35-40 minutes to get to the doctor's office, the appointment is at 3:15. You do the math.

The good news is that I didn't run out of gas!