Book Review: Outlining Your Novel

review-cover-outlining your novelTitle: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Author: K.M. Weiland

Genre: Non-Fiction, Writing & Publishing, How-To

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Writers often look upon outlines with fear and trembling. But when properly understood and correctly wielded, the outline is one of the most powerful weapons in a writer’s arsenal. Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success will help you choose the right type of outline for you, guide you in brainstorming plot ideas, aid you in discovering your characters, show you how to structure your scenes, explain how to format your finished outline, instruct you in how to use your outline when writing the first draft, reveal the benefits of outlining, and dispel the misconceptions.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have to be honest… this book wasn’t what I expected it to be. Based on the description, I went into this book thinking this was going to help me outline, figure out how to fill in said outline, structure my scenes and plot, etc.—but that isn’t exactly what this book is. 90% of this book was a switch between author interviews where basically every author had the same response (which is fine, they all talked about outlining and why it was useful), and the actual author of the book encouraging the reader to outline. That’s fine… but you aren’t really going to pick up this book unless you’re already planning to outline… so why are you trying so hard to convince the reader that outlining is the way to go?

I expected the book to be more helpful, to help me fill out an outline and spark questions about where to go next in my outline. I was hoping for page after page of outlining advice on how to actually figure out an outline and turn it into a workable story… but there was very little of that in this. Don’t get me wrong—it was in there… sort of, but it felt more like the book was one big advertisement pushing the reader to try outlining and feel really good about that decision… and like I said, no one’s going to pick up this book if they aren’t already going to be outlining.

In the end it felt like the small percentage of the book that was actually useful was so small that it could have easily been a single blog post. The rest was just filler to bolster pages and make the reader feel good about their decision to outline… rather than being of any actual help. I gave this book three stars because it was fine. I learned a few small tidbits that will be helpful, but I also feel like I wasted my money on something I could have just Googled, and probably would have gotten more out of in the process. I’m a bit disappointed.

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Book Review: The Tail of Emily Windsnap

review-cover-the tail of emily windsnapTitle: The Tail of Emily Windsnap [Emily Windsnap 1]

Author: Liz Kessler

Genre: Middle Grade, Children’s, Fantasy

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Everybody has a secret.

Mine’s a little different, though. I didn’t even know about it until the first day of swim class in seventh grade. You see, I’d never been allowed to go in the water before. As it turns out, swimming comes naturally to me. Very naturally. In fact. So naturally that you might even say… well, it’s true.

Here’s my secret:

I figured out that I’m a mermaid.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have to give this book a little bit of leeway because it was most definitely a middle-grade book geared towards young children. So, we’ll start off with the good—the book was extremely well edited. It was easy to read, fast-paced, and had enough humor and shocking moments to fully entertain my 13-year-old daughter (who I read it with). Emily’s adventure in becoming a mermaid and seeking out her father was an interesting plot, and it was very entertaining. My daughter loved the book!

From an adult’s point of view, though… It was cheesy. Very cheesy. The characters were one-dimensional, even pretty stereotyped at times. The twists in the book were ridiculously easy to see figure out well before the characters figured them out, and the world-building was rather unimaginative and well, silly. Mermaid reporters and underwater limo’s with seatbelts was a bit much.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun book, and my daughter was entertained… but as an adult, had I read this on my own, it would have easily gotten 1-star. The last few chapters of the book were a bit of a letdown, and definitely very unrealistically resolved, and even my daughter had to admit that it got pretty ridiculous. It didn’t feel like there was anything to learn from this book. There were no real life lessons or situations I could talk about with my daughter, other than the main character’s terrible decisions to lie to her mother, sneak away in the middle of the night to swim in the ocean, break into a prison (no, I’m not kidding), and generally cause havoc for all the adults in her life. She was a bratty 12-year-old that didn’t think about the consequences of her actions, and somehow avoided all of them. The book was pure fluff.

Overall I gave this book two stars, because although I wasn’t a fan of it, and it was definitely not geared towards me, my teenage daughter did enjoy it. Was it her favorite book? No. Was it a good book? Meh… It was entertainment and served its purpose, but I don’t know that I’d delve deeper into the series.

Book Review: Water

review-cover-waterTitle: Water [Water 1]

Author: Emory Gayle

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Cora Reed and Darrien Locke are both haunted by the night Cora’s twin sister drowned. Seven years later, having never actually met, their paths cross, sparking a chain of events that will change both their lives forever.

The last thing that Cora Reed wanted was to fall in love. But this water phobic couldn’t have prepared herself for Darrien Locke, ‘the lord of the abs’ swim instructor at Camp Titus. Unknown to Cora, is the true reason she’s been asked to work there. Mysterious things begin to happen to her, plunging her already torn world into chaos. Only one thing remains steady…Darrien. But he’s not at all what he seems.

Darrien’s sole mission is to return the long lost princess to her father ASAP. Unfortunately, his job has become…complicated. When the mouthy bad tempered princess is nothing like what he was expecting, this work obsessed, emotionally void guard falls hard for the one girl he can never have.

Darrien must help Cora discover who she really is, before a power in the deep rises. But, to do that…Darrien will have to sacrifice his love for Cora and do the unthinkable.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Honestly, Water by Emory Gayle was a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, it was a very interesting story, but on the other, the execution sometimes lacked.

As far as the technical side of things went the book had some pretty obvious flaws. There were a lot of typos. I found problems with tense, spelling, omitted words, and even improper grammar. They were obvious mistakes that could have and should have been cleaned up before publication, and since the author e-mailed me specifically to make sure I had the up-to-date edited copy, I was kind of surprised by how many technical errors I still found.

That aside, there were times that the pace of the book, especially concerning the romance, that seemed rushed, and I think that because of it, there were times when the narrative voice and dialogue of the characters came off as overly dramatic and unrealistic.

that isn’t to say that it was all bad, though. I liked the characters, the world building, the plot…. so many parts of the story. I got sucked into the book and read the entire thing in a matter of a few short hours. I was entertained, and overall, I did like the book. I just think it was in desperate need of another round with the editor.

I think that if you tend to enjoy YA fantasy or romance, you will probably enjoy this book – just be aware that it is lacking a bit in the technical department.

Book Review: Lie To Me

review-cover-lie to meTitle: Lie To Me [A Touched Trilogy 1]

Author: Angela Fristoe

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 3 (3.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Phoebe Matlin has always felt broken. While one of her sisters sees the future, and the other can heal people, Phoebe has come to accept that her truth telling gift just doesn’t work.

Then her best friend, Tonya, lies to her and Phoebe’s gift flares to life. With Tonya pissed at her, being a Truth Teller suddenly doesn’t seem like such a great gift. Although, it is nice knowing she was the reason her crush, Nathan, dumped his stalker girlfriend.

But in lies, intention is everything and Tonya’s lies are a cry for help. The fear that her friend is covering darker and more serious truths is something Phoebe can’t ignore. But knowing when someone is lying is the easy part. Now she has to decide what to do about it. And with Nathan and his doubts about her ability confusing things, finding a way to help Tonya isn’t as easy as Phoebe thought it would be.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

There is so much I want to say about Lie To Me by Angela Fristoe. There was so much to the book that I wasn’t expecting, but in some ways, there was also a lot less.

As far as the technical aspect of the book is concerned, it was well edited. I only ran into one noticeable typo in the entire book, and that’s pretty amazing. The narrative was easy to read and was paced well. I never felt rushed or bogged down. I got sucked into the book right away and I was entertained by what I found there.

The characters themselves were an interesting mix of barely-there stereotypes (like the angry, popular ex-girlfriend) and the amazingly complex (like the main character). Phoebe was a very interesting character in particular. Going into the story I’d read a few negative character reviews of Phoebe—and I kind of get it. She could be a bit of a loose cannon at times, and yes, she could be a bit bratty… but I saw more to her than that.

Phoebe lived in a strange, dynamically volatile household. She was stuck with an overprotective father, a sister that was constantly trying to take all of her very real, but negative feelings away, another sister who could see her future—and often used that information against her, and a grandmother who pried into her past constantly through her ‘gift’. Frankly, I could understand Phoebe’s discontent. She lived in a war zone where she was constantly being bombarded by her family and they gave her very little privacy or consideration. I’d be angry too! As the main character, I found Phoebe flawed, but in a believable and interesting way.

Unfortunately, there were some parts of the story that lacked. Nathan, as a love interested just didn’t cut it for me. I think because there was so much going on in the story outside of the romance, he often got treated as a bit of a side character, and I feel like I didn’t get a chance to really know him as well as I wanted to.

Also, there were so many unanswered questions about Phoebe’s sisters, her friends, and her gift that were never really delved into. I’m sure there will be more about all of those further into the series, but I still can’t help but feel like I missed out on some important information. The entire paranormal aspect of the book was used frequently in the story to spur on the action and drama of the plot, was fairly glossed over in every other way possible.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was more complex than I’d expected, and although not perfect, I’m glad I read it.

Book Review: Resurrecting Ghosts

review-cover-resurrecting ghostsTitle: Resurrecting Ghosts [Kings of Chaos 4]

Author: Shyla Colt

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Ruthie Gregg was the independent woman who had everything together. A homeowner with a successful job in advertising, and a busy social life, she never wanted to get serious with a man. Things with Kings of Chaos member, Skull, were meant to be fun and light. Then she made the mistake of catching feelings without discussing their relationship status. Misunderstandings and indiscretions lead her to call things off. But life is a cruel mistress who wasn’t done uprooting her perfectly managed existence. To get the life she’s dreamed of, she must put her past behind her, and fight for her future with a man who just may be the love of her life.

Tritt “Skull” Matthews was a man who wanted nothing to do with love. After watching the four letter word and mental illness destroy his family, he opted to take the path of a permanent bachelor. His brothers in the Kings of Chaos MC were all the family he needed until he took up with Ruthie. The mouthy red head with her vintage style and a strong back bone derailed his plans. When denial, drinking, and self-sabotage doesn’t shake her from his soul, he starts a new mission, to get her back at any cost.

Happiness is within their reach if they’re willing to lay the resurrected ghosts in their lives to rest. The things they fear the most holds them captive in invisible chains. Breaking free is imperative, lest they are doomed to repeat the past.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I just could not get into Resurrecting Ghosts by Shyla Colt, and I tried—I really did.

Technically speaking, the book was well edited. There were only a handful of typos, grammatical issues or punctuation problems to speak of. Unfortunately, I went into this series having not read the first three books, and this was one of those books that started mid-relationship, so by the time the story began, I already felt as if I’d missed part of the story that probably would have gone a long way towards endearing the characters to me. Instead, the pacing often felt rushed, and so I found it hard to connect to them. Their relationship seemed, well, terrible to be honest. Skull seemed to pay little consideration to Ruthie, often steamrolling over her decisions and doing things that decent men normally wouldn’t even consider under those circumstances. Other than the chemistry they insisted they had, I didn’t see much that endeared me to either character or their romance.

To be frank, I didn’t like the characters—any of them. They were foul-mouthed and a bit dim-witted, often prone to making rash, even dangerous decisions. They were often crass with their language and actions. Couple that with the raunchy sex scenes, and I was just turned off by the book in general. This isn’t the first biker romance I’ve read, but it was the first I felt the need to back away from. It just wasn’t for me, and not something I’d actively look for as a romance.

Overall, I just didn’t like the book. I think if you enjoy raunchy biker erotica full of foul language and gun waving, you may enjoy this book more than I did, but it isn’t going to be for everyone—it certainly wasn’t for me.

Book Review: Darkchylde

review-cover-darkchyldeTitle: Darkchylde: The Ariel Chylde Saga

Author: R. Queen

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Horror

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Ariel Chylde is haunted by horrible dreams, and on her eighteenth birthday sheds her skin as the nightmares emerge to act out her deepest, darkest impulses.

But before Ariel can save her small town from the terror of her dreams,
she must first save herself from the sinister secret of her subconscious.

A secret guarded by unspeakable evil.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have been a huge fan of the Darkchylde comic series since it first came out years ago, so understandably, when I learned that a book had been written based on the comic series, I was ridiculously excited.

The core of the Darkchylde saga was essentially the same as in the comic series and I was glad of that. I’ve always liked Ariel as a character, the dark gritty world building was phenomenal and different than what you find in most YA novels. The dreamscape Ariel visited was certainly the stuff of nightmares… but that’s about where my love of this novel ends.

Honestly, I didn’t like the style the book was written in. It was distinctly poetic, vague, and overly descriptive in a way that bogged down the pace and made it hard to follow. Even when I read everything presented, I felt like I was reading the book while only partially paying attention. I just couldn’t keep interested. I think in this instance, the story was better represented through visual media than it was in written form, and I don’t think the style of the writing fit the intended YA audience.

Overall, I’m glad I gave this book a try, and I’d love to see it as a movie…. but I remain disappointed by the novel as it stands. I think the style did the story a great injustice by making it more difficult to read than it needed to be, and by slowing the pace to a painful crawl.

Book Review: Inarticulate

review-cover-inarticulateTitle: Inarticulate

Author: Eden Summers

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

At first sight, Savannah is drawn to the harsh appeal of a man who refuses to talk to her. Keenan’s hard stare is arrogant and unapologetic. The quirk of his sensuous lips is cocky and in control.

But there’s more. There’s something deeper he’s trying to hide behind those steely grey eyes—a slight hint of vulnerability which captures her intrigue.

She’d been warned, told that his silence hides a myriad of lies capable of affecting her career and relationships with loved ones. Only she can’t help herself. Testing Keenan’s defenses is an addiction she can’t deny.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Inarticulate by Eden Summers. In fact, it is probably one of my favorite romances that I’ve read this year, and being that it’s now November, that should give you a pretty good idea of how much I enjoyed it.

As far as the technical aspects of the book go, the narrative was well written. There were a few minor typos, but nothing that stuck out enough to lesson my enjoyment of the book or to distract me from it in any way. The pace was steady, the sentences flowed well, and the dialogue seemed genuine to the characters.

I can only imagine how difficult it was for the author to write a book where one of the main characters is mute, but I think the author pulled it off incredibly well. The characters were well fleshed out, well characterized, and I fully enjoyed the sexual heat between the main couple. This was a fantastic read from beginning to end, and I am so happy that I got to experience this author’s work. I highly recommend this book to romance readers look for a steamy tale with a bit of a different spin. You won’t be disappointed!