Monday, October 31, 2011

The Unpublished Series

         I'm really excited about this series of blog posts that, with the approval and support of several wonderful members of inkpop, I've decided to do. But first, what it's all about:

What it is: I do a lot of blog book reviews, so I thought it might be fun to do the same, only for unpublished projects, such as those from the very talent writers on inkpop.

What the Inkie/writer gets out of it:
         1) Comment/critique on their project here on inkpop, highlighting on grammatical errors, character development, consistencies and inconsistencies, etc.
         2) Possibility of a pick.
         3) Epic blog review :P
         4) Possibility of getting more readers via said review.

The Upsides:
         1) Everything listed above.

The Downsides:
         1) There aren't any :P

The Point:
         1) Give me a fun way to get involved in inkpop again...which I've been meaning to do...and I happen to like blogging so...
         2) Give the opportunity of more readers to inkies.
         3) Write helpful comments, and in the process learn to write even better ones.

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         The plan is for one (1) unpublished blog review to be posted each week, with exceptions extended around holidays when I might be able to do more, or around weeks when life takes over and eats all my time up and I don't have the time to.

         Only books and short stories will be reviewed, since I don't feel equipped enough to review poems, which I know little to nothing about in the way of critiquing. Sorry, poets.

         I'm a bit picky about what I read (in the way of curse words used, sexual content, etc.), so I make no promises to any particular inkie, writer, or project until I have had the change to personally look into it. I reserve the right to review whatever project I feel deserves it (with the author's permission, of course.) However, I'm open to suggestions and I'd love your input.

         The Unpublished reviews may or may not be posted on a regular day or scheduled time -- it will all depend on the time frame I have to work with over the course of the week, which tends to fluctuate.

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Questions? Comments? Complaints? Suggestions? Post below, or send it via the form on the "contact me" page.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Crossing by Serita Jakes [Review]

Title: The Crossing
Author: Serita Jakes
Labels: Fiction / Contemporary
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Contains: Cursing and occasional sexual references
Buy It: Amazon

My Rating: 

Blurb: On the way home from a football game, a decade earlier, a masked gunman opened fire on a Texas school bus. Cheerleading coach BJ Remington was killed, but her murderer was never found. Claudia, who had a close friendship with the young, spirited teacher, constantly relives the anguish of that day, caught in one moment in time. When her husband, the assistant district attorney, becomes determined to uncover the mystery of that tragedy, the secrets buried over the years threaten to tear their family apart.
         Officer Casio Hightower will never forget the day his dreams were destroyed. A star quarterback with a promising future, Casio was on top of the world--until one bullet changed everything. He is eager to help Victor Campbell find BJ's killer, the man who shot him. Maybe solving the case will help silence the demons driving Casio to hurt the woman he loves. As the Campbells and Casio teeter on the brink of losing everything, will they be able to discover that what begins at the crossing ends at the cross?

         Not going to lie, the prologue and 2nd page of the first chapter kind of freaked me out a bit. I knew I, with my weak constitution, was probably doing the wrong thing when I picked this crime novel, and for a few pages into this book I kept asking myself what had gone wrong with my brain process when I decided to get this book over other ones I could have chosen that probably would have agreed with my stomach more. It actually surprised me--it wasn't very graphic (even the prologue and 2nd page really weren't that bad, my constitution is just extremely weak :P) as far as the actual murder and whatnot. Anyway, once I got a handful of pages in, all was well in that department.

         As far as the actual writing goes, I thought The Crossing was very well written. Jakes clearly gets the point across without needless and overextended detail or explanation. The story flows well and is an easy read. Also, I would just like to thank Jakes for her point of view choice -- the people who have told me that you can't write a book with multiple points of view per chapter without it being confusing clearly didn't know what they were talking about.

         As for the plot. The crime side of it was pretty good. Although I had a guess at who the murderer was early on, which ended up being the correct suspect, there wasn't any hard evidence to make me lose interest. Maybe it was just a lucky guess, but even so Jakes kept me second guessing myself and reading to be sure my suspicions were accurate.

         The side story -- the characters personal lives and involvement -- didn't really impress me. I was disappointed in several aspects, which I won't name specifically for the sake of not spoiling it for future readers. While the wrong acts committed by the sub-characters weren't encouraged nor made appealing, I felt the author didn't well in condemning or discouraging it as well as she could have.

         I also wasn't very impressed with the ending, which, again, I won't go into great detail about lest I spoil it, especially since it came as a surprise to me. I definitely wasn't expecting the outcome of one of the main characters, Casio Hightower, nor the conclusion to his side story. I was disappointed in his story, because I saw potential for his story.

        All in all, I didn't think The Crossing was the greatest book in the world, and I'm unlikely to recommend it. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 21, 2011

50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know by Kay West [Review]

Title: 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know
Author: Kay West
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Contains: N/A
Buy It: Amazon

My Rating: 

Blurb: It's safe to say that young women in the 21st century are exposed to more educational opportunities than any generation of women in history. But sometimes what gets lost in between ballet and biology, AP classes and piano lessons, creative writing and cross country, are the basic rules of simple etiquette and guidelines for appropriate behavior.
Progress is a good thing, but even an accomplished student, a gifted artist, or a brilliant young law clerk is at a disadvantage if she never learned to write a thank you note, understand a formal table setting, accept a compliment, make an apology, express sympathy, or respond to an invitation. This latest book in the GentleManners series was written especially for girls ages 8 to 14, to teach them the basic skills every young lady should have and every young lady's mother and grandmother want her to have.

          I got this book thinking that since I couldn't think of fifty things off the top of my head, there had to be something in there that I could gain from. And I was right. 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know covers just about everything from the basics of "please" and "thank you", to proper etiquette concerning things perhaps less well known in the world today, such as dancing, invitations, entering/exiting cars, and more.

          Though proper manners and etiquette seem to be fading around us, particularly in the younger generation, West summarizes the basic know-hows every female ought to learn. Most of the chapters deal with things adults would think to be obvious manners, but in reality are greatly lacking today.

         In a world losing its personal touch with the people around us, 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know is just that--things every lady ought to know, and yet most don't. In one well-flowing, easy read, West points back things every female should be practicing on a regular basis. I would, without doubt, recommend this to any young lady. I received this book for free from Booksneeze for this review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon [Review...ish]

          Ever since HarperCollins announced that they were going to publish The Carrier of the Mark, there has been a crazy amount of excitement spreading around because of it. Although I am a member of, the website where the book and its author, Leigh Fallon, were discovered, the general excitement running through the site never really fazed me. I guess that was probably because I had joined long after Fallon, and since I have never really been incredibly active in the community I never had the pleasure of meeting her or reading the book in its early stages. Still, since it was the first book published through inkpop, there was more than enough blog posts, forum threads, and the such to keep me well acquainted with the title. Without that general knowledge, I probably wouldn't have had the privilege of reading it.

         This might bore you to death, so if you skip to the next paragraph, I won't be offended :P. Anyway. I'm not really into the supernatural or super sappy teen oriented books, so if this had been any ordinary book, I most likely would have passed by without a second glance. I was in Barnes&Nobles -- a rare occasion to begin with, since 1) I live in the middle of nowhere where the only real legit store without driving 1+ hours away is Walmart, and 2) I'm generally broke -- looking for another book. Yeah, I was actually looking for a completely different book, completely different author, completely different genre. I walked in and asked the lady at the customer service desk, because I'm a loser and since I don't usually have the occasion to wander around in bookstores, I have no idea where to find what I'm looking for. Yes, I'm lame like that. So the lady looks it up on her computer, and tells me that they don't carry it. My mom and I are heading back toward the door, and then I'm like, give me a sec, I'm going to go look for it anyway. Why I decided I didn't believe the lady, I'm not sure. But we ended up looking around anyway, and as we're passing a bookshelf labeled "top teen lit" (or something close to that) the cover of The Carrier of the Mark caught my attention (which I've seen a few million times on inkpop). One big double take and backwards step, and suddenly the book I keep hearing about is in my hands. I don't think I've ever grabbed a book so fast in my entire life. For some reason or another, I thought it was so cool to actually find the book I kept hearing about. About five minutes later, we walked out of the building with my newly purchased copy of the The Carrier of the Mark. Some things you just can't explain :-).

         ***May contain spoilers***

         It's been a long, long time since I've been blown away by a book without being completely confused (Shakespeare tends to blow me into confusion, but that's different). I find it hard to believe someone could come up with such a complex idea as the Marked without losing the reader in the process, and yet Fallon has done it. Throughout the book, I could tell that there was so much more to the story, so much more back story, but it was well spaces and told only in small chunks to absorb, so that by the time the next chunk of information came, the reader had had plenty of time to absorb and reach an understanding of the last chunk.

         Generally I'm not the biggest fan of romances where the characters fall for each other in a ridiculously short amount of time, as Adam and Megan do, but the farther I read, the less it bothered me. It made more sense when we learned that the elements attracted one another, and hence their quick love didn't seem to be entirely their fault, and made a little bit more sense as to why they got together so quickly.

         The one thing that really bothered me was the swearing used throughout the book. I understand that in this day and age teens swear just as much as in the book if not more, but I still do not believe it to be right. I am also of the firm conviction that you can have excellent teen fiction without needed to insert foul language.

         I loved the setting as well. I thought it was really cool that Fallon uses locations that actually exist. The intertwined history and myths made it so much more real and interesting, as well as the added flavor of the dialogue and expressions. I quickly found myself wanted to read more, until finally there was no more to be read. I look forward to the publication of The Carrier 2 (unnamed), and this time, I'll be on the lookout and headed to a bookstore to get it, not a different book. :-)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The God Pocket by Bruce Wilkinson [Review]

         The God Pocket is a short inspirational centered around challenging people to give willingly to God and allow Him to move them to give their allotted offering to a specific person, according to His timing. The book flows nicely, and is an easy read. It thoroughly and systematically challenges the reader to try this "ready to give, willing to share" principal.

         Although this is a good, well written, thought provoking book, it wasn't until I hit the sixth chapter that I began having concerns for the theology and motivations presented. Throughout the sixth chapter I felt like Wilkinson was trying to sell the idea of giving to God, so that He would lead us to give to someone in need. I felt like he kept emphasizing -- and made it sound like, to me -- God would for sure and certain return the tangible money back to us, which I'm not sure is necessarily correct. Sure, for some He will and has done so. But perhaps for some people He saves the "return", or the blessing, for you to enjoy in heaven. Or maybe sometimes He blesses us in a different way, in an intangible way, or in some way other than hard cash.

         Another point Wilkinson brought up earlier in the book (chapter 2) was the last of seven steps to prepare people to deliver God Pockets: "Step 7. Disciple. Disciple the person by encouraging them to deliver God Pockets too."
         At first, when I saw the "disciple", I'm like, yes! Then, as I finished reading the section, I was more along the lines of...what? Shouldn't our first and foremost concern, as followers of Jesus, be to share the gift of salvation with the individual? I felt like the book was leading up to this great opportunity to witness to people, but it all fell through the cracks when instead of taking the opportunity, it encourages us to push off this idea onto more people. It's fine to share the concept of the God Pocket and get more people involved, but I felt like the focus was off from our first and foremost Commission of witnessing.

         One last thing I wanted to point out. It seemed that pretty much all the illustration stories used in The God Pocket had almost immediate, visible results, with recipients that were then totally willing to pour themselves out and share how the gift had affected them. I don't think that necessarily always happens. And what if it doesn't to someone starting out on this challenge? What if this new God Pocket deliverer didn't get the opportunity or change to see immediate -- or even any -- results at all? What if they never see the people they share with again, never get to hear how it affected their lives? This could be extremely disappointing as well as discouraging when from the start, the challenge has been painted to have relatively immediate results.

         Though a thought provoking book, The God Pocket did seem to have a few cracks in it. I'm glad to hear of the success it has had, but I can't help but wonder if it is painting a picture that may not be true for everyone.

         I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Last Great Hope by Ronnie Floyd [Review]

         Our Last Great Hope centers around revitalizing Christians' call to the Great Commission. I found this book to thought provoking once I got into it....which unfortunately, was rather late in the book. I didn't feel pulled into it or hooked into it to the point I couldn't put it down or anything great like that. Then again, with a subject like the Great Commission, perhaps most people wouldn't feel super excited to read the whole thing in one day? We don't get excited over being reprimanded by a parent or employer....

         Despite my above statement, it is a topic that still needs to be discussed. Still, I wasn't super thrilled over the writing style. As a writer myself, I could tell Floyd was extremely excited when he wrote this book, but I failed to feel the excitement carry over to the reader. The writing itself felt a little bit repetitive at times. Then again, maybe that's not such a bad thing: "Repetition is a powerful teaching tool." (p. 81)

         When I finally got myself plugging along at a decent pace, I began feeling more interest, and better yet (at least in some peoples eyes), convicted. I was just disappointed it didn't kick in till the last few chapters. Despite that, there were solid, thought provoking quotes and points throughout the book.

         I received this book for free from Booksneeze for this review.