Saturday, March 25, 2017

Review: The Writer

The Writer The Writer by D.W. Ulsterman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Writer explores a meeting between a writer named Decklan who has become a recluse since his wife's disappearance and a young college student named Adele looking to get a great story. Through their meeting, Adele learns that not all is quite what it seems in the San Juan Islands.

Although this book starts off with an intriguing premise, it loses its grip after a few chapters. The cover says it's a "dark thriller" but dark and thrilling it is not. For most of the book, you get serious details about what everyone is wearing, which takes away from the urgency needed to have a thriller element to it. Pair those descriptions with the fact that Adele never seems to really be in any danger makes the story fall flat. In a true dark thriller, the main character doesn't escape unscathed, physically or emotionally.

The story is wrapped up nicely--a little to nicely given the circumstances. But the part that really didn't sit well with me was the epilogue. Not only was Adele's finished article focused on herself rather than her subject, it went to the point of absurdity when she brags about getting the exclusive interview because she's the only one that they trust. No editor (even for college publications) would have ever let that go to print.

*Book provided through Kindle Scout

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: This Is Really Happening

This Is Really Happening This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is Really Happening is a humorous collection of essays written by BuzzFeed writer Erin Chack. It covers a wide range of topics from being together with the same guy since high school, trying the latest feminine hygiene products, and the perils of peeing your pants as a child to the much more serious topic of having cancer as a young adult.

The most important part of this collection is Chack's voice--it's like you're talking to a friend and she's getting around to telling you some stories you haven't heard before. That's what makes it such as fast read--once you get a taste of Chack's personality, you want to keep reading more. Although readers may not think Chack is old enough to have the life experience needed to fill a whole book of personal essays, it's a book worth checking out, whether you are a Millennial or not.

*Book provided by Penguin First to Read

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review: Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hourglass by Dani Shapiro is a non-linear memoir that provides a glimpse into the writer's life from the perspective that switches between memory, the present and the endless possibilities of what could be in the future.

Although sometimes it's hard to concentrate when a piece is written in paragraphs that go back and forth in time, this one wasn't like that because it so closely mirrored what life is--being in the present moment, but looking around and catching glimpses of the past in the things that surround you, whether you intended to reminisce or not. And contemplating what the future may bring, and how that changes depending on what choices you have to make that day. It is an extremely well-written look at the author's life, particularly how the journaling from her honeymoon weaves in an out of the rest of the moments in time presented.

*Book provided by Penguin First to Read

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Spotlight: 2017 Human Relations Indie Book Awards

Have you written a book that explores issues of human relations?

Information is now available for the 2017 Human Relations Indie Book Awards. The 2017 contest has over 40 indie book categories that include topics related to human relations issues, family relationship issues, children’s books with a human relations focus, poetry human relations books, fiction human relations books and general human relations book categories. April 25, 2017 deadline approaching. There are also several special needs categories included in this year’s contest.

Visit our website at http://humanrelationsindiebookawards.com to find out more about the contest.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: The #ArtOfTwitter: A Twitter Guide with 114 Powerful Tips for Artists, Authors, Musicians, Writers, and Other Creative Professionals

The #ArtOfTwitter: A Twitter Guide with 114 Powerful Tips for Artists, Authors, Musicians, Writers, and Other Creative Professionals The #ArtOfTwitter: A Twitter Guide with 114 Powerful Tips for Artists, Authors, Musicians, Writers, and Other Creative Professionals by Daniel Parsons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The #ArtofTwitter by Daniel Parsons is a useful guide to writers, artists and musicians that want to build a following on this social media platform. The book is laid out to benefit both the beginning Twitter user and those of us who have been around on the site for awhile.

The book provides a wide range of helpful tips on how to build, maintain and interact with your followers. I've been on the site for years and still found this useful to help me tweak the way I currently interact with users and how I can continue to build and audience. Each chapter covers a different topic and provides a helpful checklist at the end to give yourself a quick rundown of the steps you can take to further your Twitter presence.

It also talks about the apps and tools you can use to help manage it all. The author discusses ManageFlitter in detail, though I personally use CrowdFire (and there are many other tools like this out there that perform the same tasks). I actually logged into CrowdFire this morning and discovered one thing that I had been overlooking—following inactive accounts. I was surprised how many are still on my follow list, and now I know how to correct the situation.

The only (very small) drawback to this book is that it has one outdated aspect—Twitter does now allow you to apply for verification so you can get your little blue badge, letting users know that it's really you. Other than that, it was an excellent guide to Twitter.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Hag-Seed

Hag-Seed Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest with all of its magic and revenge. The premise in Atwood's version is a spurned theater director named Felix whose sole wish is to put on a grand version of The Tempest for an audience at a festival to somehow honor his dead daughter, named after one of the main characters in the play. When that opportunity is taken away from Felix, he hides out of sight for years and plots his revenge on the community leaders and politicians that stole his thunder. Eventually, this leads Felix into the local prison system, giving classes and putting on performances with prisoners. It is here where Felix wants to exact his revenge.

This was my first Atwood book, and I'm afraid that it was the wrong choice, because I've heard so many good things about this author. This book tried to be meta, but putting The Tempest within The Tempest was a little overkill. This plot could have worked with Felix directing almost any play with a revenge plot and it would have had the desired affect.

The other reason I wanted to read this is because I've never read The Tempest (you can thank my public school education for that) and I do need a bit of hand-holding every time I approach Shakespeare with its archaic language. I often read (or watch) retellings and interpretations while approaching Shakespeare so that I know I'm understanding the plot. As for what happens in The Tempest, this book didn't help me understand at all what was going on, at least not until I reached the last ten pages or so of the book where Atwood included a summary of the play's plot.

I'm not sure that those who love The Tempest or Atwood's other work would necessarily want to flock to this book. More than seventy-five percent of the book moves at a snail's pace, and the one exciting part is overshadowed by the immediate following of long reports that the prisoners give on the characters post-play. It's not pleasure reading by any means, and should probably only be approached by those who want to study it and figure out what went wrong.

*Copy of book provided by NetGalley

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Poems in the Manner Of

Poems in the Manner Of Poems in the Manner Of by David Lehman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Poems in the Manner Of by David Lehman is an interesting take on the art of poetry. Instead of working solely with original works without explanation, the reader gets the author's insight and influences on each piece for the book.

Many of the poems featured were in the manner of or inspired by poets across the history of poetry. Some of the more recognizable influences included Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and more. There were no poems that particularly stood out as better than rest, and in some cases lifting of another poet's line to include in the new work did more to distract than anything else. The explanations were a good insight as to how or why each poet was influential on the author's work.

*Book provided by NetGalley

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