Thursday, April 2, 2020

Wordy Thursday: Ornery Book Reviews: The Lovely Bones


Five out of Five Stars for Goodreads

If readers purchase a copy of the book using the above link, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. The following is a duplicate of my review for Goodreads.

I really enjoyed this touching and powerful book. I appreciated the author's ability to connect the reader with Susie, the victim of a horrific crime committed by a very evil man. I enjoyed experiencing Susie's thoughts from her vantage point in the afterlife. I also appreciated the fact that the author discussed the ways in such a devastating incident disrupts the family of the victim. I simply can't think of much to say without giving away things that the reader should discover for themselves, so I'll keep it brief. Read this book (or listen, as I did.) It is an amazing experience.

The following questions are from the Insecure Writers Support Group Book Club discussion of this book.

1. The main character, Suzie Salmon, is killed in the first chapter. The author, Alice Sebold, has very little time to build Suzie as a character and get readers to connect to her.

QUESTION: Did you feel a connection to Suzie in Chapter One? What helped to create that connection?

I liked Susie from the beginning. She was an ordinary girl. Personally, that's one of my favorite protagonists: simply an ordinary girl trying to get through life.

2. Have you ever written a story in the point-of-view of a ghost/spirit?

If yes, what technique did you use? (How did you handle not being able to use certain senses such as touch and smell, and was your character able to interact with other characters?)

I primarily write paranormal/science fiction hybrids, so I write about ghosts quite a bit. My ghosts can see, touch, and smell things but have trouble interacting with the living unless they encounter someone who is sensitive to their presence.

3. The story jumps from character to character a lot and includes a lot of flashbacks. Did this detract from or increase your enjoyment of the overall story?

I thought the author did a great job of this and it added richness to the story.

4. What did you think of the description of Suzie’s Heaven?

I liked the realism of it, although I think it would suck to be there. I request a different heaven!

5. Overall, people love this book or they hate it. Where do you stand?

I liked this book very much and recommend it highly. It gets the Ornery Seal of Approval!

Ornery Owl
Image copyright Open Clipart Vectors on Pixabay

Monday, March 30, 2020

IWSG Book Club: Questions for Chill Factor

Disclosure: If readers purchase a copy of the book through the above link, I receive a small commission from Amazon. I really wasn't a fan of this book, and I don't recommend it. I gave it two out of five stars. But you're welcome to check it out if you like.

1. In the opening of Chill Factor, I love the way Sandra Brown begins with setting, weaving in character activity and then details to create this uncertainty when we meet Ben Tierney. He is out in the open air of snowy mountains with a shovel where there are four unmarked graves. Then, as it continues, his thoughts detail the event and mystery of the graves, as he finds his way back to his vehicle. The introduction of the character, setting, and mystery are powerful. It makes you quickly flip the page to find out what happens next.

QUESTION: The first chapter ends in uncertainty. At that point, did you think Ben Tierney was a hero or a killer?

I thought there was a fair likelihood that Ben was a killer (or one of a group of killers) at that point.

2. In the second chapter, Brown is in the female POV and she reveals the thoughts of the ex-husband in such a subtle way through the female's thought summary that you almost feel like you are hearing his thoughts, not hers. It’s so seamless it feels like you are in the room with them.

QUESTION: How do you handle deep point of view between characters?

I don't think I really give it much thought. If it works well, then it's a good technique.

3. A. Which characters did you like the most in Chill Factor? Why?

I liked Scott the best. He seemed like he was trying to do the best he could with a horrible situation.

B. Which characters did you like the least in Chill Factor? Why?

I thought every male character except for Scott was awful. Dutch and Wes were both abusive. Ben was passive-aggressive. William was a nasty little weasel.

4. Throughout Chill Factor, we’re not positive if Ben is a good guy or a bad guy. Have you ever put your readers on this roller coaster ride, tricking them into thinking a good character might be bad, or vice versa? And what techniques did you use?

I've written characters who were somewhat ambiguous. I never start out with any particular technique in mind. My characters are pushy jerks who write themselves.

5. As a fellow asthma sufferer, it was nice to see that as part of the heroine's character development and nicer to see that it didn't stop her from being depicted as strong. Too often asthma and allergy sufferers are portrayed as weak.

QUESTIONS: What other characteristics often make a character seem weak? What other characters have overcome weaknesses to be portrayed as strong?

I really don't feel that Lilly was a strong character. The line about her "not wanting to play the feminist card" made me say "oh boy, here we go" early on in the book. I have asthma, and I found it rather insulting that the author used Lilly's condition as a plot point to make her "need" Ben.

I was not a fan of this one. My review is here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Wordy Thursday + Ornery Reviews: Chill Factor

Romantic Suspense

Two of Five Stars for Goodreads and Audible

This is a duplicate of my review of this product on Goodreads.
If readers purchase a copy of the book through the above link, I make a small commission from Amazon. The book isn't so bad that I refuse to link to it, it just was not my cup of tea. If you like tawdry thrillers, you might enjoy it.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and if I had taken a shot every time I found myself blurting out "oh, for Chuck's sake," (what I actually said rhymed with Chuck) or "ew," I would have been unconscious on the couch oozing alcohol out of my pores. 

It became clear pretty early in the game that this book was not going to be high on my list of favorites. Every one of the male characters aside from Scott, the eighteen-year-old high school senior and long-suffering son of the school's abusive athletic director, was odious. Ben was a passive-aggressive mysterious hunk. Dutch was a macho cop with anger issues. Wes was a military wannabe and an abusive husband and father. William, the pharmacist, was a creepy little weasel.  

These characters sound interesting, but they were tropes. From the moment that Lilly decides that she "shouldn't play the feminist card," I knew it was going to be one of THOSE books where the "strong, independent" female character learns that she needs a man to complete her. Most of the story's sex scenes were cringy because I can't stand it when women give in to passive-aggressive macho men. 

I finished listening to the book because I was curious who the killer was, and I have to admit, it was someone I didn't expect. Still, the ending seemed forced. Overall, I was not impressed.

Ornery Owl
Free use image from Open Clipart Vectors on Pixabay

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Blow Your Stack Saturday: Why Blogging Awards are No Reward

This is a response to a post on Hugh's blog regarding the problems with blogging awards.

Please don't give me an award for this post!

When I was new to blogging back when pterodactyls filled the skies, I very eagerly participated in blogging awards, being quite excited to receive them. 

"Someone likes what I'm writing!" I said excitedly. 

However, the bloom came off the rose fairly quickly.

I had people get really nasty with me for giving them blogging awards, telling me not to annoy them with that crap. I genuinely didn't know I was doing anything wrong and felt really hurt.

I found receiving blogging awards to be more stressful than enjoyable. Fortunately, they don't come up very often anymore, but if they do, I decline them politely. Honestly, there's no reason to be nasty about it as some people are.

~Cie the Ornery Old Lady~

Ornery Owl
Free Use Image from Open Clipart Vectors on Pixabay

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Watkins Wednesday: Become a Consultant for $14.95 Through March

Click the banner now to learn more!

If you haven't checked out the Watkins opportunity yet, now is the perfect time to do so. The annual fee for your promotional materials package, including your own website which is built and maintained by Watkins, is already a good deal at just $29.95. But if you sign up as a consultant during March, you only pay half that amount.

I honestly only joined Watkins to get discounts on products for my own home, and if that's all you want to use your membership for, that's fine too. There are no sales or recruitment quotas. No-one from your upline will ever contact you to try and browbeat you into doing more. If the only reason you sign up is to get products like Watkins amazing all-natural, non-toxic degreaser at lower prices, that's completely legit. The degreaser is a superior and cost-effective product that you can feel good about using. Just one tablespoon to a gallon of water will have you cleaning up greasy messes without a fuss. It's the best for stovetops and grills.

Unlike some other home-based business opportunities which won't reveal the cost of membership upfront in order to force prospects to contact a desperate consultant who will then launch into a hard-sell presentation, Watkins is transparent about their very reasonable annual fee. You won't have anyone contacting you to try and force you to buy products or packages now or at any other time. And if you aren't handicapped by social anxiety like I am, you might even find that you are able to make Watkins your primary source of income. The products practically sell themselves.

Don't miss your chance to become a consultant for a long-lasting, time-tested home-based business selling useful, non-toxic cleaning products and delicious spices and extracts. Check out the Watkins opportunity today and pay half the normal fee if you sign up during March.

~Cie the Ornery Old Lady~

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Money Monday on Tuesday: Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten Marketing Welcome Program

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Cheers from Aunt Cie

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Wordy Thursday: Opaque

Young Adult/Paranormal Romance/Sci-Fi

Three out of Four stars for Online Book Club, 
Three out of Five stars for Amazon

If readers purchase a copy of this book through the above link, I will earn a small commission from Amazon.
This review is a duplicate of my Amazon review for this book.
I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes.

Read my exclusive Online Book Club review for this book here.

This story has a fascinating premise and compelling characters. Adam is a young man who is unaware that he has superhuman abilities until Carly comes to his school and teaches him the truth about himself. Adam initially presents as potentially being a sociopath and certain of his actions and their consequences (or lack thereof) are the reasons why I question whether this book should be categorized as a young adult novel although the protagonists are teenagers.

Adam experiences romantic attraction to his mother. Although the author avoids graphic detail, incestuous fantasies are a rather taboo subject, perhaps best left in adult fiction. At one point, Adam's disturbing behavior leads to the death of a young woman and he suffers no real consequences for his actions. I found this plot device unsettling.

The book suffers to a degree from The Twilight Problem. "You can redeem the bad boy" is a terrible message to be imparting to young girls. Carly, Adam's love interest, is so concerned with saving Adam that she ignores his abusive and violent actions. For a female character to be completely wrapped up in saving a significant other who presents a danger to her sends a dangerous and frankly sexist message. I am frustrated by stories which present female characters only as foils and helpmates to badly behaved males.

Further, I was appalled by the frequent references to Carly's apparently ample yet shapely buttocks and to the scene describing her stripping down to her underclothes. I found it unsettling to be reading a voyeuristic description of a teenage girl undressing.

I nearly stopped reading this book when the author made the unfortunate decision to use a psychological condition as an adjective to describe certain of Adam's behaviors that Carly found irritating.

"She sighs at his bipolar actions.”

The author is using the term "bipolar" to mean mercurial or changeable, and this is an utterly offensive thing to do. Individuals who live with bipolar disorder are as varied in their behaviors as those who do not have this condition. I am 55 years old and have type 2 bipolar disorder. I do not tend to present as mercurial or changeable and, in fact, I tend to present as staid and sedate. What people do not see below the surface is the fact that I am constantly fighting against low self-esteem and suicide ideation. The battles of me and others with this serious psychiatric condition should not be reduced to an adjective describing undesirable behavior on the part of a character in a novel. To do so is extremely dismissive and insulting. I would hope that no-one would ever say something like "she sighs at his cancer actions" to describe the behaviors of a person who is weak and tired. Why in the world would anyone think it's okay to do this sort of thing regarding psychiatric conditions?

Although I found the characters compelling, to a degree I also found them two-dimensional. Adam's father was the only character who wasn't Hollywood-pretty.

If the reader can overlook these faults, they will likely be drawn into the story. It is probably okay for older teens to read this book, but I would advise against giving it to anyone under sixteen.

Image copyright Open Clipart Vectors