Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Word of Mouth - Fifty Shades of Grey

Yep, this is the book the whole world seems to be tittering about. I too was caught up in all the hoopla and picked up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Let`s chat about it, shall we?
First off, I just want to preface my thoughts about this book by saying that what follows is in no way a slam against fan fiction. I love good fan fiction! Heck, I still write fan fiction even though I have a book of my own on the market. For those who didn`t know, this novel was originally a Twilight fan fiction that the author then reworked for reasons we all can figure out. What she failed to do, though, was to make the leading lady into an original character in terms of personality. Anastasia Steele is, for all intents and purposes, Bella Swan, but we`ll get into that in a bit.

Since I very rarely review books that I don`t like, this is new for me. I`ve decided to try to lay out what I didn`t like about the book and what I did like logically, perhaps discovering why, for me, this book was such a disappointment. To be honest, at first I thought I was having so much trouble finishing it because I had read such a phenomenal book beforehand. Anything would pale compared to ‘A Game of Thrones’, right?

That, it turned out, was not the case. The reason I had such trouble is because this is a poorly written book. Even the author has said so. Why is it selling a copy a minute according to a recent estimation? We`ll touch upon why I think it`s so popular down in the Sex/Romance section. Let`s get into some basics of what I assume a good book is made of, shall we?

One-Plot

50 Shades does not have one. Not really. Unless you call the ‘Will She or Won`t She’ question a plot. If it is, then we already know she will or the book will be darned short. So, we already are working on a deficit since a plotline is none existant BUT you don`t know this until you`re more than halfway through the novel. I kept looking for a plot, and waiting for a plot, but none ever surfaced. So, we have a zero for the plot.

Two-Sub-Plots

Every good book has at least one. 50 Shades does not. Since it has no plot how can it have a sub-plot? Another zero on what I think is a pretty basic rule of writing.

Three-Likeable Characters

For me, your protagonist should be someone the reader can easily identify with, embrace, cheer for and learn to love. I disliked Bella Swan greatly. Since Anastasia Steele displays every maddening character trait Bella Swan did, I found it impossible to warm to her. She is gratingly irritating. I ended up being so exasperated by this girl I wanted to throttle her.

Christian Grey, as our leading man, I found to be a controlling stalker. All his money and good looks and rumpled copper hair aside this man is about as warm as a viper in the winter. I know, I know. ‘But he`s troubled and had a bad childhood and was abused as a young man’ the lovers of the book are saying. Yes, he did, and that is sad and tragic but so did another Dom in another series and that male I fell in love with. (Yes I`m talking about you Vishous.*Winks saucily*)

The day a man thinks he can tell me what I am going to eat, or asks me about where I am in my menstrual cycle in order to dominate me is the day that man hits the road and takes his toys with him. For me, neither lead character was appealing so another zero has to be given.

Four-Basic Writing Skills/Mechanics

As I forced myself to read through this book I kept asking myself, and my husband and daughter, this question. ‘Has this woman no access to a writers group, beta readers or an editor?!’ I do not claim to be a grammar Nazi, and Lord knows my own book probably has many a flaw in it, but this novel is SO poorly written and SO crammed with frustrating mistakes in basic mechanics even I, the woman whose editor vowed to remove my apostrophe key from my laptop, could barely get past them.

Echoing (Using the same word or phrase repeatedly in a sentence, paragraph or page) is so prevalent in this book I nearly lost my mind. The term inner goddess is now emblazoned upon my brain, and not in a good way, either. This is just boggling to me. This is what we go over in writers groups. This is what we circle as mistakes so that our friends and fellow writers can change their manuscripts. It`s Writing 101 as far as I can see.

Lack of detail is glaring. There are pages and pages of nothing but dialog. Has the world stopped moving around them? And speaking of pages crammed with boredom, we have ten pages of a Dom/Submissive contract to read. Don`t we all just LOVE reading contracts in real life? Yeah, me either. I`m also not a huge fan of first person present, but that`s just a slight displeasure and if this were a better book, I would not have minded that at all. I could go on and on but I think you get the gist. Zero stars for mechanics.

Five- Romance/Sex

Now we`re getting into the meat and potato’s of things! This is why everyone is whispering about 50 Shades behind their hands. It does include BDSM. But in all honesty, the BDSM isn`t all that racy, at least I didn`t think it was. J. R. Ward writes MUCH better sensual scenes. I would put Vishous and Jane in that bathroom scene from ‘Lover Unbound’ up against any naughty encounter in this book and it would blow it away. The sex scenes are mediocre at best. There are way hotter books out there, and even those who live and practice BDSM have been quoted as saying this is not at all how their world really works. So, if you`re buying the novel to get a naughty peek into the realm of whips, chains and riding crops you might be led astray.

The romance is passable. What we have is the older man trying to lure the younger woman into his dark world while all the while telling her how bad he is for her. It`s pretty routine, and very Edward and Bella. There are moments when you feel the two connecting, but the overall feeling of creeper just kills that soft bud of love about to blossom in my humble. When Anastasia asks for time alone with her mother to think about signing that ten page contract, who shows up not three days later but Christian? Do I find that endearing? No, I find that obsessive and unsettling. Maybe a half star for a couple tender moments.

Six-Believability

I understand that this is fiction and that we have to sometimes suspend disbelief. When you`re hopping around in a world filled with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, ghouls, and Greek gods in your goat barn, you can`t cling to reality real tightly. I`m all for fantasy and fiction….there`s a but coming here, you know it, right? Good call. BUT the characters have to act in a believable manner to make the shift from reality to fantasy/fiction seem flawless and sincere.

I can believe that a woman graduating collage has never had sex with a man. It`s a rare thing in this day and age but okay, I`m onboard. That she has never masturbated? I have a hard time swallowing that one. That she would sign on to become this man`s sexual submissive her first time out the sexual gate I do not buy. Sorry. Nope. No way. Maybe I`m just an old goatherder but this virginal girl (and I use the term girl because when you read her inner thoughts you think a thirteen year old is telling the tale) leaping into this dark lifestyle just does not compute for me. What the Sam Hill did her mother teach her in her formative teen years?

And let’s not forget Mr. Grey. Why would a Dom with fifteen (I think that`s the number. Someone correct me if I`m wrong) submissives in his past take a virgin to his side? Would he even want that in his life or in his Red Room of Pain? Seriously, would he? I ask because what I know about the BDSM lifestyle would fill a thimble, but, this seems way out of the ballpark to me.

Sure, I can see the attraction being there….maybe….. if he can get past her falling on her face and using the terms ‘Oh Dear’ and ‘Oh My’ and ‘Jeez’ and referring to her vagina as ‘Down There’ or uttering the famous ‘Argh’ when he takes her virginity. Excuse me for a moment, won`t you? *Head falls to desk numerous times* I`m better now. Another zero, sorry fans!

Seven-Character Development

Here is where the book grabs one star in my review. We do see some growth from Christian Grey. At the end the man is willing to forgo some of his staunch rules, such as no sleeping in his bed or dictating every morsel of food that his new squeeze eats. He is finally seeing that he cares for the girl (Again girl not young woman. See above for explanation of terminology) he has brought into this disturbing, dysfunctional world of his.

Anastasia is still needy, immature, self-conscious, confused, unable to stand up for herself and generally mealy-mouthed unless she`s talking to the man via email, but at least Christian shows some development. One star for Christian and his progression!

This spark of evolution and warmth is the only thing that got me through the last one hundred pages. Is it enough to make me go buy the other two books in the series? Absolutely not. I just did not get invested enough in either of them to care what happens next. I think I know what happens. I read the Twilight books and can guess. Bella….I mean Anastasia, finds her true love with this control-freak of a man or some variant of that.

As a Para/Rom and Rom/Com reader and writer I applaud that HEA that may come for these two very sad individuals. I just am not willing to plunk down over thirty bucks for two more books of such low caliber.

For those who adore these novels I am happy for you. There is nothing like finding a series of books that move you. I wish you fans continued joy with Christian and Anastasia, I just won`t be along for the ride.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Word of Mouth-A Game of Thrones

Another book done! Ah, the satisfaction is great….usually. This time around I`m not satisfied at all. I need more…more I tell you, MORE. We`ll be spreading some word of mouth today about the novel ‘A Game of Thrones’ by George R.R. Martin.






I`ll start off by admitting that I am late for the game on this series, which so far includes (according to the inside cover) the second novel ‘A Clash of Kings’, ‘A Storm of Swords’, ‘A Feast of Crows’ and ‘A Dance with Dragons.’ I will be grabbing books three through five rest assured. This series was brought to my attention by a good internet friend who kept insisting I read it. I himmed and hawed because sweeping, political stories usually aren`t my thing. I`m more a Para/Rom or Rom/Com kind of gal. I don`t watch much TV either, and we don`t have premium movie channels like HBO where the series is now in its second season. After reading the book, I may try to convince hubby to sign up for HBO. That right there is a glowing recommendation from me, the one who scorns most television unless it has the words big, bang or theory in the title.

A Game of Thrones is epic, brilliant, compelling, addictive and majestic. It centers around the families Stark and Lannister mostly, but there is a deposed heir and his sister with the surname Targaryen that are moving to return to the lands of the North and South and reclaim the throne taken from their family. There is something for everyone in this book- romance, adventure, intrigue, fantasy, political maneuverings, sex, backstabbing and humor.

In these lands summer can last for decades but when winter comes it can last for a more than a lifetime. Winter is coming. Dark, sinister things are gathering beyond the kingdom of Winterfell`s protective Wall. What is massing beyond the Wall is just one of many subplots that are expertly woven together by Mr. Martin. You`ll meet bastards and wizards, assassins and soldiers, lords and ladies and kings and queens all playing a deadly game of thrones. There is betrayal, drama, tragedy, fear, victory and loss as allies and enemies clash to see who will sit on the Iron Throne.

The storylines and subplots are brilliant but it was the characters that pulled me in and held me as tightly as a direwolf`s jaws. Each family has stunningly crafted people that you meet and either hate or love. The bonding is swift and I found myself turning pages in a rush to see what happens to Eddard, Tyrion, Daenerys, Jon, Bran and Arya, just to name a few. I have an idea of what I would like to see happen to Joffrey that rotten, little….*Takes deep breath*

I had moments where I was simply stunned by what occurs on the page. At one point I had to lay the book down, my grief was that strong. Few books move me that way. JR Ward`s books move me to tears and outbursts and that is why I grovel at her tiny feet. Rick Riordan`s books make me cheer and laugh, also why I love his work as I do. I think I`ve just found another author to admire and another series to place on my shelf of ‘Never to Be Traded In’ novels.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Magic Touch or Conspiracy?




Howdy all! Drop on down and have a fresh cuppa. I have a question for the girls…..

I was wondering if you ladies ever had this happen to you. It`s happened to me more times than I care to mention. Yesterday I went down to pick up Miss at the bottom of the driveway. I had put the window on my side down because the two dogs that insist on going down in the afternoon were breathing up the truck. After the bus came and my kid got in, she too pushed the button and her window went down. Up the hill we came, talking about our days. I parked the truck and tried to get the front windows to go up. Neither would work. I pushed. Miss pushed. We pushed and pushed and pushed those buttons.

Nothing.

So we left the windows down and came inside. I tossed the keys to Mister and informed him, in my most loving wife way, that the truck windows wouldn`t go up. I got the look. You married gals know that look. The one that says without words ‘I just got home from a ten hour shift and now you want me to go fix truck windows?!’ So, I gave him a look back. Mine says without words ‘I know you just got home but the rassafrassin` windows are down so don`t give me ocular lip, just go fix the windows!’

We have lots of conversation without uttering a word after twenty years.

So he huffed outside and I got around and started dinner. He wasn`t gone two minutes until he was back. I looked over my shoulder at him.

“Did you get them up?” I asked, stirring ground beef in the pot for sauce.

“Yeah, I pushed the button and they went up.”

That statement was followed by another look. The DUH look.

“I pushed the button! Seventy-two times in fact and those windows would not go up!”

Mister said nothing in reply. He didn`t need to. I knew what he was thinking but I swear my daughter and I pushed those darned buttons! Why is it that when a vehicle decides to be stupid it only does it when I`m driving it? I`ll hear all these sounds and creaks and ominous noises and tell Mister about them. Does he hear them when he`s driving the darn thing? No. Then he gives me that DUH look and carries on about his business.

Is this some sort of plot by cars and trucks to make us women look stupid? Or, is it that we ladies can hear things than men can`t? Lord knows I could hear a baby sniffle in the middle of the night but my husband couldn`t hear her screaming her head off.

Perhaps this is a case of male selective hearing. He is quite gifted in that regard. I can be having a long conversation about something important, like plotlines, what to wear, what happened to my eyelashes, you know? Important stuff for a woman. I`ll think he`s listening but when I ask him a question I get that blank stare as he moves his sight from the TV to me.

Well, whatever it is, selective hearing or a plot by vehicles to make me look like a dolt, I don`t like it. Oh, and the windows in the truck are working fine this morning.

Go figure.

And a big yodel of welcome to Melissa Garrett! Welcome to the hillside farm, Melissa. Knowledge of yodeling is not required to have fun!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Word of Mouth - The Spirit Keeper

More books! I just love chatting about books, don`t you??

Today we`ll be sipping coffee and passing some word of mouth about a wonderfully written YA novel called ‘The Spirit Keeper’ by Melissa Luznicky Garrett.






As y`all know, or should know by now, I have a great fondness for all things mythological. That includes the myths and legends of the Native Americans. This love of the Native American culture and stories was passed down to me by my mother, who read anything that had to do with Native Americans, their ways, customs and legends.

Ms. Garrett does a superb job of giving us a new world filled with magic, lore and characters that we grow to really care about. I was particularly impressed with how the author wove a new tale of creation. That grabbed me right away. Then I was swept up into the life of Sarah Redbird, a young woman living with her aunt and uncle after the death of her mother and grandparent`s in a house fire. That fire turns out to be not just a terrible accident but a very deliberate act of revenge.

It`s been six years since the day of that fire and Sarah is now trying to move through the always agonizing high school years. Her heritage does not make this any easier and she is constantly tormented and ridiculed by one young lady (And I use the term VERY loosely here) in particular. You know the author has you when you sit and hiss bad words at a character in a book. I did not like little Miss Katie…no I did not! But, Sarah rises above the taunts and racial slurs tossed at her with dignity and grace. Kudos Sarah!

Life seems to be rather normal until a new family moves in across the street. A family, it turns out, that has a direct tie to Sarah`s family and past. A past that her aunt and uncle have kept hidden from her.

The book moves along wonderfully, never slowing in pace. The teens act and speak like teenagers do. The pain of being an outcast in high school is shown with sometimes brutal honesty. The mystery is also well-plotted and kept me guessing, giving me one person who I thought was the baddie only to find out….well, I don`t want to spoil it for anyone so I`ll keep that to myself.

Another point I wanted to make about this YA novel is how realistically the romance between Sarah and Adrian felt to me. There is no sex in this book, but the spark and sizzle is there as are some nice, heated embraces and kisses. My daughter would love this book for its mature depiction of teen romance and how a young woman feels and thinks when she first kisses the man of her destiny.

I really enjoyed ‘The Spirit Keeper’ and can`t wait to see what happens next to Sarah!

Monday, April 9, 2012

How I Spent My Easter

Howdy gang! Tug out a chair and grab a mug of the good stuff!

I seem to still be suffering from a case of the logeys this morning. Must be a ham and taters hang-over. I hope everyone who celebrates had a good day with their loved ones. Ours was nice if not quiet. Mister and one of his fellow turkey hunting groupies - I mean fellow enthusiast – left at the crack of dawn to go listen to wild turkeys. Miss Yodeling slept in. Being a teenager is exhausting apparently. So that left me to my own devices.

After getting the ham in and whittling on the short story that refuses to remain a short story I fiddled around at Smashwords and got my book uploaded! Any of you that have E-Readers can click on that link over to the right to order your copy, if you so wish. I must give a shout to Angel Walker, my buddy and sister in writing, for pretty much leading me step-by-step through the formatting of an E-book. Thank you, thank you Angel!

For anyone looking for a print copy, you should be able to order yours here-

From My Shelf Books

If you can`t find a direct link, try back again in a day or two. Kasey should have it up by then. The long weekend has pushed things back. I`m also working with my tech whiz buddy to get things set up on my website so that readers can order directly from me. Hopefully we`ll have things up and running soon, but feel free to hit my beloved Indie bookstore if you don`t wish to wait!

After that was taken care of, I moseyed outside. The ducks were ready to come out and play so I hung out with them for awhile. They`re growing like weeds and have gotten so big only two can fit in the tub at a time.



I then meandered down to the goat barn to check out the new twins we had overnight Sunday.



A buck and a doe, the doe is on the right. I was really pleased to see a buck since I had people stop Monday in search of a Nubian buck. Sunday we had wethered the two older bucks. Talk about terrible timing!! I`ll be calling them ASAP to let them know we have one for them.

While I was chillaxing with the kids I decided to get all hip and cool like the kids and take a self-portrait of myself. You know how all the teens have images of themselves taken with their cell phones as their Facebook avatars? Heck yeah, I`m groovy and spank! (Do they still use those words? Probably not.)

What follows is my attempt to take a picture of Perseus and me. The last one is the keeper, don`t you think?? Nothing says love like a kid sucking on your ear.







Perseus grew tired of the photo session and nodded off in my arms. I snapped a few other random shots of Freya kid-sitting and Polyphemus using his mother as a step-stool then decided I had lollygagged enough.





After a smooch to my favorite demigod hero`s sweet head I returned to the house to get things in gear for the big meal.

Funny little thing I have to add. I had told my dad that we were eating at one. Well, one comes and no pop. Mother-in-Law is here and the food is ready, so, we sit down and eat. I figured that perhaps he simply forgot that it was Easter. His memory is not what it should be. Either is mine and I can`t site being over eighty as a reason either! After the clean-up we were getting around to take a plate to him uptown. Calling sometimes does nothing since he doesn`t like to answer his phone. He hates telemarketers and assumes it’s them ringing some times. I was just putting the ham into a container and up pulls Pop, hyacinth in his hand.

“Pop,” I said after he waded through the three dog greeting committee, “We were just coming up to check on you.”

“Check on me? Why? You said dinner was at three.” (He dislikes thinking he needs people to check on him.)

“No, Pop, I said dinner was at one.”

“You did?” he asked, “Well, at least I remembered it was today!” he chuckled then sat down to eat and chat.

Hey, as long as he showed up hale and hearty, the time isn`t important, right? *Winks* The rest of the day was spent reading, napping, playing X-Box, napping some more and then heading to the bedding.

How was your long weekend??

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!





From our farm to yours....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New kids and other assorted tidbits

Morning gang! Pull out a chair and rest a bit. I`ll turn the coffee pot on!

Did you ever have one of those weeks where you`ve been busier than a nesting goose but look around and see very little to verify how busy you`ve been? It`s been like that for me of late. I feel like I`m running some sort of marathon and yet my TV is dusty, the carpet needs vacuumed and the family is getting leftovers for dinner.

I blame it on social networking for the release of the book. It seems like there is SO much that has to be done. Sometimes I sit back and wonder if it really all needs to be done or if I`m just allowing the world to dictate what I must do. I`ll ponder on that for another day or two before I leap into much more time spent online. I know promotion and marketing are important, especially for self-pubbers like me, but must I do every little thing that other writers do? Again, I`ll chew on that and come to a decision.

The good news is that the book is done! I should have the printed copies in hand sometime over the next two days. Due to some issues with formatting which were my fault, the release date of 4/6 will be pushed back a bit. I`ll let y`all know when the print and E-reader version will be available. Should be within a week. I might just set the release date to coincide with my author event at my local Indie bookstore on the 14th.

We have had some new kids since last we gabbed. Both Sable bucks and I think keepers! I did say I wanted to try to move away from Nubians and into Sables and these guys are just too handsome not to use as breeders! This is Polyphemus, who was named after a cyclops in Greek mythology. No, he isn`t lacking an eye, I named him that because he is a GIANT!



And this is Perseus. What a cutie and look at that color!






We still have two more does to kid and then I think we`re done for the season! Aside from goats Miss Yodeling has all next week off for Spring break. We were discussing her going to take her permit test on Wednesday this morning, so maybe she will. I`ll let you know. Easter is coming right up, so Sunday I`ll be cooking for the family and MIL and my Pops. I hope that any of you that drive to visit friends and family arrive safely.

I think that`s about it. *Stops to ponder* Yep, can`t think of anything to pass along. Time to refresh my cuppa and go see what`s new in Blog-Land!