with historical romance author
Whispered by Carrie at 2:36 AM
Whispered by Carrie at 9:44 AM
Let me just start off by saying that I don't think I can give an appropriate review because I couldn't even make it through the book. I am disappointed, for myself, because I had never read a Philippa Gregory book before and I was excited to get the chance to do so. But it was kind of like reading a history book that was written in first person. Now I don't have anything against details and descriptions, but sometimes, the story is weighed down by them and never really gets started. For me, that is what happened with this book. It was so rich in detail, I felt that I was living this woman's life right along with her. Unfortunately, I never got beyond the first few chapters, so I never reached the point where the story actually began.
I am not going to rate this book or give an opinion one way or the other because, since I couldn't finish it, I don't believe that I am in a position to do so. Instead, I would rather leave that to Miss Gregory's fans and followers who can better sum up this book than I ever could. For me, I will wait for the movie version to come out.
For more information on Miss Gregory and her books, please check out this link:
I had hoped to have an interview from Jay Asher today, but he must be on vacation or something because I did send him my interview questions, but I haven't heard from him since I sent him the questions. I do, however, have an image of him and his book that he sent me, which I am using today. I apologize for the lack of the author's presence here, but that doesn't mean that I cannot talk about his book.
I will discuss this book, Thirteen Reasons Why. I am warning you right now, this review will contain a minimum amount of spoilers. It's up to you if you choose to read on. When I do reviews, I tend to focus more on the overall picture of the book and the characters. I do my best to not give away key details of the book. If I did, why would you read it?
The point of this review is not to retell you what happens, but to tell you what I feel works, what doesn't work and why. In the end, whether you read this book should be ultimately your decision based on a few key facts.
Fact 1 - This book is about the suicide of Hannah Baker
Fact 2 - Hannah Baker is dead throughout the entire book
Fact 3 - Clay Jensen receives a box of cassette tapes from an anonymous someone with Hannah Baker's voice on them
Fact 4 - The journey of the book takes you through Clay's time listening to the book
Fact 5 - The book was written for teens
Fact 6 - The book was written by a man (Sounds sexist, right? Well, there's a reason you need to consider this and I'll get to that, eventually.)
The facts I've given you so far will not alter how you see this book, because it's pretty much given to you on the cover/jacket flap.
On Goodreads, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I gave this book 4 stars because what he wrote, he wrote well. It may not all work for me, but it was well written, and I could not deny the author this. Plus, I thought the audio version was done well. However, there were some things that just didn't work too well for me. To be honest, I think that my own personal experience with suicide and the people that I have met who have tried or succeeded in committing suicide has shaped the way I look at the events in this book, particularly Hannah Baker herself.
Lets start with what works in this book.
I don't know why, but he works for me. Some see him painted as being "perfect," but that's not quite right. He is given 13 tapes (one for each reason) that he needs to listen to, to find out why Hannah Baker killed herself and why he was receiving the tapes to begin with. Clay is a teenage boy who is, I have to say somewhat weak. He sees people doing things that he doesn't like, but never says anything to these people, never gets involved, he just worries about himself and his own actions, the way most teenage boys would be. He tries to be good, and in doing so, just doesn't interact much with other people.
Why does he work for me?
Well, Asher did a really great job of conveying Clay's confusion at being on this list and his need to continue to listen, his need to learn the part he played in all of it. The way I see it, it's his overwhelming desire to be good that drives him to continue to listen, to learn how he failed someone, to learn from it and not do it again. That's how I saw Clay Jensen. Excellent character and is the sole reason I kept listening. I began to want to know why this kid was on the list.
Listening to it in audio format over reading the book worked for me, but I also think it hurt my take on this book too.
What doesn't work for me?
Honestly, I thought it was 13 sides and never realized, until now, that it was 13 cassettes. That really confuses things even further and makes the driving force even less idealistic. Let's look at things logically. Each cassette is at least 30 minutes per side which equates to 1 hour per tape. The book itself isn't even 13 hours, but half of that, which equates to roughly 1 reason per side, and 7 tapes overall. Having used cassettes myself, and the fact they are expensive these days because the format is so antiquated, it doesn't make logical, economical sense. Besides, with all of today's current media, why would anyone want to use cassettes when digital is easier to use and way more accessible? Not only that, it's a lot cheaper to make two discs than to use tapes. I don't see the cuteness in that. It's just not logical. Asher didn't really do a good job in covering that aspect of why Hannah used tapes and not digital means. So, that part didn't really fly with me.
What else doesn't work for me?
Hannah Baker herself.
Well, I just couldn't wrap my head around this character or her reactions to her situations. This is where I wonder how well a man can really get into the head of a woman, much less a teenage girl. Okay, this girl has 13 things happen to her that humiliate her to the point where she "knowingly" does things to humiliate herself. Okay, that I get. I can buy that. What I can't buy into is that, with as suicidal and hanging by a thread that the author tries to portray her to be, she is aware enough to go through each incident one by one and blame all the people responsible for it.
Huh? I'm sorry, but I've been there and I've talked to people who have been there and read stories from people who have been there and not once did anyone ever say that they were killing themselves for the reason Hannah picked nor were they even thinking beyond how miserable they felt and they didn't know if they could handle the pain. My lists of people follow, but for the sake of those involved, I am leaving their names off.
Person 1 - was a friend in high school. She had a really bad, humiliating incident happen when she was in school. She was so devastated that she just ran blindly away from the group of kids humiliating her right into oncoming traffic. Because it was a school zone, the cars were driving slower by nature, so she was lucky that the car stopped as she ran into it and no real damage was done. She told me she wasn't thinking about anything other than how hurt and humiliated she felt and her reaction was instantaneous. After she had some time to think about it, she realized what it would have done to her mom and she still couldn't believe that she'd done it.
Person 2 - was someone in my family. No one saw it coming. His wife had just ended what seemed to be a very "positive" telephone conversation. Even his brother, who he was staying with, didn't hear or see any reason to worry, until he hung up the telephone. In that flick of an instant, he changed. He slammed down the phone (yeah, this was back before cellphones and cordless phones were a regular feature in homes) and from what I was told, he left saying he needed to go for a drive, to get some air or something of that nature. It wasn't until after he had left did it click with anyone that something might be wrong. They were too late. After it happened, it came out the he had always been depressed and had been talked down from suicide on more than one occasion but was never treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist or meds of any kind. And, for some reason, as he grew older, he must have seen therapy as something negative and not helpful.
Of course, because I was the "youngest" person in the family, no one thought fit to tell me about his problem, even though just about everyone close to him knew. I was as close to him as they were, I should have been told before this. Now, some of may say why should they, but I say, why couldn't they? Yes, this is survivors guilt talking, and I'll be dealing with it until the day I die, but here it is - if I had known how he felt, if my family members had thought enough of me to tell me, I could have helped him. We could have helped each other. He could still be alive.
Because, the eventual reasons that lead to his depression his attempts and him eventually committing suicide were some of the same reasons I almost did two years later. Where nothing could stay his hand, stop him from, well, let's just leave it at that, something stayed mine. I don't know what or who, but I expect that it was Mark. Mark was there to give me strength when I needed it the most. Which leads me to
Person 3 - Me. I had been the kid everyone picked on for years, I grew up feeling like crap and I remember crying at the age of 5 for what I said was "no reason" but was really because I felt completely miserable with myself. Things didn't get any better either because it got worse for awhile in grade school, up until I finally stood up for myself. I don't know why I had done it. Even to this day I still can't believe I did it. One of my habitual taunters was riding his bike by me and taunting me. I don't know what came over me, but I pulled him right off of that bike and threw him to the ground. Then, he got up and kicked me in my private area. Boy did that hurt, but I didn't start crying or rolling on the ground, I just stood there and looked at him. He and the rest of them left me alone after that. It didn't make me feel any better about myself, it just made the taunting stop.
Well, eventually, I got to high school, which I can honestly say sucked! But I endured it. I also endured losing several people in my life. From the time I was 17 until I was 19, I attended 17 out of 20 funerals/wakes. The first was my grandmother, my rock, my roots, without her, I was lost. Then I lost my cousin (who was my age but by the cruel twist of fate, the vaccine that made me safe, turned her into a lifelong infant), my best friend and my grandfather - all within the span of 6 months, but the loss didn't stop there. When all was said and done, I had gone to 17 of 20 funerals and I can't remember if I even went to the wakes of those. Not sure. One of the wakes was a double - two people killed in the same accident. It still hurts thinking about it. But I survived all of that, somehow.
Then one day, after I had dropped out of MSOE, worked, played D&D, made a lot of friends and then met the man who is now my husband - all positive things, right - completely out of the blue and unexpected because I hadn't had a suicidal thought in years, so I thought I was clear. Then it happened. I was doing a simple thing. Slicing cheese to put on my sandwich and the thought struck me. I put the serrated steak knife to my wrist and thought, "Hey this knife wouldn't work because it was too dull, but there are sharper ones in the other drawer...." Huh? Where they hell did that come from and why was it all I could think about? Why did I want to do this? Why did I feel so awful?
I didn't know until some time later, after I had finished all of the therapy. But what happened? Well, I had something hold my hand and I remembered Mark. I didn't want that, but I didn't know how to stop my self. I called my mother and asked for help,
but she said, "when I get home, I'll look in the book."
to which I said, "I need help now! It can't wait!"
Obviously, I got the help I needed because I am here with you today.
Not once did any of us have forethought to "tape" the reasons why we wanted to kill ourselves. Hell, if we could have done that, they would have been paying us the big bucks by now!
Talking about your problems is cathartic, writing about your problems is cathartic, which is why therapists make you do it, or suggest really strongly anyway. So, how could this "troubled girl" feel so lost that she'd want to kill herself, yet be strong enough to tell it all to tapes and at the same time, analytical enough to realize that she only had herself to blame for some of the situations she got herself into and still go on and kill herself?
It just doesn't fit with me. It doesn't make any sense to me. In fact, the way Asher paints her, Hannah Baker is cold and vindictive because she basically she says to these people, I killed myself and your the reason why, how do you like that? and how does that make you feel to know that? (or some variation of these questions, but they're close) she asks at one point on the tapes that Clay is listening to. Okay, how does that make her a victim? How does that justify or explain any of it? It doesn't. It also isn't logical.
People who are depressed and hate themselves, commit suicide. People who are depressed and hate the way they were treated by specific people, commit murder - columbine and other high school shootings have taught us that. Depressed people who are given lifelines, a light at the end of the tunnel, take them.
As I read it, the author does nothing to truly establish Hannah Baker as a person with low self-esteem with no way out, no lifelines. That's why Hannah and the method do not work for me. I gave 4/5 stars because of Clay and that, with a few minor tweaks to the story, it could rock and stand the test of time and experience.
But don't take my word for it, read the book and draw your own conclusions, just keep in mind those list of facts I gave you earlier.
Note: Yes, I do believe that teen suicide is an issue that needs to be talked about, which is why I wanted to interview this author. If you have your own story, or views of this book, that you would like to share, please do and know that you are not alone in your suffering! Yes, drugs and doctors can help you through the rough patch, but then it's up to you to use the tools they give you to finish the job.
Whispered by Carrie at 8:40 AM
Whispered by Carrie at 7:46 AM
A PLACE TO DIE FOR?
Thank you Moonlighters for inviting me here today.
Have you ever been to a place that completely absorbs you? A place of striking beauty that is unlike anything that you’ve experienced and is different from what you had expected. And how about if everything that lives there is designed to injure, or kill & eat you? I found that place.
I’m sure it surprises no one that I’ve written a book. The book I wrote is an erotic romance entitled Magnificent Man, published in May of 2009 by Midnight Showcase. http://www.midnightshowcase.com/MagniMan.htm. I greatly appreciate anyone who decides to immediately download or order my book, but that is not the gist of today’s rambling. The story follows the travels of Cassandra Taylor, a working single mom from Shreveport, Louisiana, and Coyote, the man who rescues her and agrees to take her home after he completes his tasks. These travels take them through the desert country of Arizona and New Mexico in the American southwest. I had a problem writing that journey since I had never actually been there. I had seen the old Randolph Scott and John Wayne western movies, but I can tell you now, it just ain’t the same.
Like most Americans, I travel the Interstate Highways and my only purpose is to get from one point to another as quickly as possible. When I went to the desert southwest, I found that getting away from the ‘big highway’ and onto the real dirt roads actually allows you experience what it must have been like on horseback hundreds of years ago. Once out of a car, there are unexpected sensory experiences. There are subtle smells ranging from sweet flowers to dry clay dust that randomly drift. The wind makes sounds, sometimes with a rhythm that makes you swear that you are hearing distant drums or chanting. There are sights such as plants and rock formations ranging from hostile and dangerous to the most soft and inviting. The heat and the wind combine to alternate between caressing your skin, and assaulting you with scorching blasts. The dry air saps the moisture from your nostrils and your brain experiences different scents depending upon how dry are your sinus. It becomes easy to see how Native Americans could find spirits in the land, the animals, and the sky. I cannot say that I had a spiritual epiphany during my time in the desert, but I gained a new appreciation and respect for those who do find spirituality in that place. The other thing I learned is, when you ain’t from there, beware! Your death is in the details.
As I wandered from location to location, I wondered what it would have been like to travel the desert on horseback. As I looked around, through cowboy eyes, it scared hell out of me. Miles and miles of desperately dry terrain with no water and no shelter from the blazing sun. Animals including mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, and rattlesnakes await your first misstep. Venomous spiders and scorpions invite you to sit or lay down to rest. Hawks, vultures, and eagles watch for you to stop moving. Even the plants are spiked and venomous, or poisonous to touch. As I considered what I was facing, it occurred to me that everything there had been designed to kill me and consume my carcass. Sure, the only way to really experience the magnificent desert country today is on a motorcycle, but make sure your gas tank is full.
Thanks again Moonlighters,
Randall Lang grew up in the tough coalfields of southwestern Pennsylvania where nothing comes easily. It is a world of limited opportunity and few roles to follow. Dreams are quickly vanquished in the shadows of necessity and creativity is usually buried beneath an avalanche of cynicism. However, epiphanies come in all shapes, sizes, and in a wide range of locations. In the dark and quiet world of the underground worksite, the stories within him began to take form. Years later, Randall Lang is the author of eight books of erotic stories published by Renaissance E Books, has contributed to two erotic anthologies, and the recently released Magnificent Man, an erotic romance published by Midnight Showcase. Randall’s erotic works include the five volume Trailer Park Nights series and three books of erotic short stories. These are available at http://shop.renebooks.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=120. His newest release, Magnificent Man, is available from Midnight Showcase at http://www.midnightshowcase.com/MagniMan.htm.
Visit Randall’s website, The Worlds of Randall Lang, www.randalllang.com.
Or his blog, The Mind of Randall Lang, www.randalllang.blogspot.com. It’s a strange place to be.
Randall now lives historically on an historic island in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Whispered by Carrie at 5:07 AM
I usually read at least one book by an author before I compose interview questions. In Ashley's case though, I was not able to do so because I could not find them at my local library. For her interview, my questions are based solely on what I found through her website and other places. Check out Ashley's Website for some cool stuff and graphics. Now, on to the interview!
Q. According to your website, you lived in many different places. Why was that? Why did you move so often?
A. I moved away to go to college, then I lived in different places for internships, a foreign exchange program and to attend graduate school. I moved to Northern California just because I wanted to see what it was like to live there and one of my friends who was living there at the time convinced me to go.
Q. When did you do most of your moving? How old were you?
A. I wrote Girls Rule while I was a full time graduate student in my mid to late twenties living in an old piano factory/artists’ community in Boston. Before that I lived in Northern California and Southern California, in my early twenties. I currently live in Dallas, Texas, where I mostly grew up, but I’ve also lived in New Jersey (for college), Spain (when I was 15) and New York City (for a summer when I was 19 and working at a literary agency). I was born in Houston but only lived there until I was three.
Q. How did all of the moves affect your life and relationships?
A. I had to become flexible and learn how to take care of myself and get around in new places. I think it helped me grow as a person and to be able to get along with all different types of people.
Q. Have you used this experience to draw on for any of your books?
A. Living in so many different places and meeting so many different people from different places helped me learn a lot of things. A lot of what I learned about hopes and dreams and friendship and life in general from those people and places has gone into my writing and illustration. Constantly experiencing new and different things – which I try to do all the time, even now -- keeps me constantly learning and drawing and writing.
Q. While I found your book through a Young Adult search on Amazon, what would you say is really your target audience/age group?
A. Most of my books are poems created for 9-12 year old kids to inspire them but I’ve gotten letters from twenty-five and thirty year olds who say that the books have affected their lives, too, so I think that even though it generally says “for 9-12 year olds” on amazon.com and other sites,20and you can find me through "young adult" searches, the books are really geared at whoever wants to read them. I didn’t really start writing them with a particular age group in mind, I didn’t think that much about it. But once I got into that market I did start concentrating more on the fact of who my target audience was.
Q. Why this age group?
A. 9-12 year olds are just starting to face and confront a lot of the issues that they will face and confront for the rest of their lives: self-esteem, standing up for themselves, following their hopes and dreams, confidence -- so it’s good to get books out there to help and support them as they start their life’s journey.
Q. Why “girl power”? Why inspirational books? What was the draw for you?
A. I try to write books that I wish I’d had to read when I was growing up. Toni Morrison said if there’s a book you want to read, and it’s not out there, you’ve got to write it. So that’s what I try to do. I do the same with greeting cards.
Q. We know that your interest in writing and poetry lead to your current line of greeting cards, but why writing? How did your interest in writing and poetry come about?
A. I wrote my first “book when I was seven. It was called “The Pig Gets the Apple” and was about a bunch of farm animals helping each other out so that the main character, the pig, could get this apple that he really wanted. I drew pictures to go along with it as illustrations. I think we were supposed to write a one-page story for class but mine was twenty pages. So I guess writing has always been there for me in one way or another.
Q. What kind of support and/or obstacles did you face in your writing career?
A. I was lucky to have the support of my publisher. I've worked with them for thirteen years now and they've been really great.
Q. Who is Penelope J. Miller and why is she pictured as a cartoon character rather than as a “real” girl, like most books do?
A. My books are heavily illustrated so it just fits in that she's a cartoon character. But as you read the books she also becomes you (the reader's) supporter and friend.
[I wanted to show you the neat graphic of Penelope, but I realized too late it wasn't in a format I could open and use on blogger! Sorry, but you'll have to visit Ashley's Website
to see Penelope.]
Q. Please tell us a bit about your newest releases that people will find available for purchase in September.
A. For an Incredible Kid includes true stories from when I was growing up along with tips for how to deal with things. I’m really excited about that one because I think it can help kids deal with tricky situations they face growing up. If I made a mistake as a kid I tell how I would have dealt with it now, given my current perspective. Girl Power: Penelope J. Miller’s Guide to Being Great is a collection of poems and inspiring sayings I wrote and illustrated about getting through things and triumphing as a girl in today’s world. Both of those books come with a ribbon bookmark with a silver charm attached, which is something new that my publisher is doing. They’re really neat books, and probably my favorite ones since Girls Rule and Thanks for Being My Friend. (Those are my two original favorites, partly because I had the most fun writing them).
Q. Are they targeted at the same age group as your other novels or do they have a new market in mind?
A. They're targeted at the same age group.
Q. What can they expect from these books?
A. Stories, poems, tips and a whole lot of fun!
Q. Excerpts are the best way to know if a book is what you’re looking for. Where can we find them?
A. On Amazon
Q. Some of the excerpts for your other books are the first 2-3 pages. Why not more?
A. Amazon.com controls that. I don't really know why they do it that way. [Well, that's a total bummer, they should really have a couple more pages to get the full idea of what each book is like!]
Thanks for visiting with us today Ashley!
Do you have anything you want to ask Ashley? Well, leave your question(s) in a comment post and she'll answer them for you!
[Hey, that could be the next book, Go Ask Ashley...for those of you who remember or have read Go Ask Alice.]
No questions? What about other stuff to say? Don't be shy, she'd like to hear from you!
Whispered by Carrie at 6:45 AM
Hi, it's me, Gracen. Before we get to Sierra's post, I wanted to mention how excited I am for Sierra and her new book, Love Can Be Murder, which was released Wednesday, August 26, 2009, by Wild Rosse Press. I had the privilege of reading this novel. It's a good book and it's a fun read! If you like paranormal romances, then I would recommend this one.
Now...to the guest of honor....Sierra Wolfe!
First of all, a BIG THANX to the ladies of Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem for inviting me to guest blog today.
Recently one of my critique partners and I were discussing favorite scenes in books, what we liked and why we liked them. After throwing out a few and analyzing our choices, my CP came to the conclusion that she consistently liked scenes where the hero and heroine kiss for the first time. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I liked those scenes too! I loved reading them and writing them.
Unfortunately, the details of Aunty’s very first kiss are somewhat blurry. It was so very, very long ago… (I think, perhaps, it may have been Og and he hit me over the head with his club before he dragged me by my hair, hence the faulty recollection.) But I have very fond memories of first kisses from special ‘dates’ over the years. Usually the anticipation of those kisses proved more enjoyable than the actual lip contact, but AH! – the build-up!
Maybe that is why first kisses in fiction make such enjoyable scenes? The author can take her time building up all that wonderful tension between the hero and heroine and the actual moment of contact never has to be disappointing. Unlike real life, no clubbing, hair-pulling, bad breath, or tangling of tooth braces need ever happen! The author can revise and reinvent to her heart’s content, and the reader can savor all the lovely anticipation as many times as she wants.
Since my new release, The Treasures of Venice has a dual storyline and two sets of lovers, I got to have all the fun of writing the ‘first kiss’ scene twice! Here is the first kiss between my contemporary hero, Keirnan Fitzgerald, and my heroine, Samantha Lewis:
She stopped abruptly and pulled her hand away. Keirnan followed her gaze across the street where white letters on a green cloth awning proclaimed “Bello Giardino.” Window boxes filled with pink and yellow primroses decorated the front of the four-story hotel.
“Looks like we’re here.”
His libido suddenly over-rode his conscience, and urged him to do more than walk away.
Impossibly bad timing! He fought back the urge.
“Thank you again for being such a good sport, Samantha.”
When had he raised his hand? But he must have because it was poised next to her face. Of their own volition, his fingers cupped her cheek. Her smooth skin felt overheated in the cool air. Those ten thousand volts sizzled up his arm and made his pulse hammer.
“And I meant what I said back there on the Bridge of Sighs. He’s a fool. You’re better off without him.” And me.
Though shock flickered across her expressive eyes, she said nothing, the tip of her tongue moistening her bottom lip His hand moved from her cheek to cradle the back of her head, the silky strands of her hair flowing over and through his fingers. He lowered his head and slanted his mouth across hers, his own tongue lightly following the path of hers. She tasted warm and sweet. But without warning, the painted image of Serafina Lombardo flashed behind his closed eyes.
Saints in heaven, he was losing it! Keirnan pulled back and dropped his hand, but instead of releasing her as he’d intended, he grasped her hand and raised it toward his mouth.
“Take care, Samantha, luv,” he murmured and pressed his lips lightly against her palm.
Blood roared in his ears, but somehow he managed to drop her hand before he made an even bigger and far more stupid blunder.
And here is the first kiss between my Renaissance couple, Serafina and Nino:
Nino paced the open space in front of the bench. His graceful movements made her think of dancing. Who had he danced with during Carnevale?
“Well, he was right about the Doge’s niece.”
Serafina shifted her voluminous skirts so that he could sit next to her on the bench. He hesitated for a moment before he sat down.
“Maybe so, but he should not have poked fun at you.”
“I…” As at the cemetery isle, warmth seemed to radiate from him to her. “…don’t mind. Besides, I may not have a wart on my nose, but my jaw is too square and my mouth is too small.”
She repeated the faults her mother so frequently pointed out, except she never should have mentioned mouth. The instant she spoke the word, her eyes immediately went to his.
She watched in fascination as his lips parted and he spoke. “Your mouth looks perfect to me.”
“Not…” Her hand moved of its own accord. “…so perfect as yours.” Her fingers lightly brushed across his cheek and traced the edge of his lower lip. “Yours feels so soft.”
Serafina lifted her face and his warm smooth lips touched hers. The unexpected contact jolted them apart.
“Forgive me!” Nino leaped to his feet.
“Kiss me again,” she whispered, pulling him back down beside her.
Now THAT is a woman after Aunty’s own heart! I’ll bet she could even handle Og.
What about you? Care to share some memorable first kisses, either your own or fictional? One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of The Treasures of Venice.