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Be Heard!

6 Nov

People before us fought for our right to vote. Take advantage of it and get to your polling station if you have yet to do so. P.S.: Did you know that women were the first group to picket the White House?

Review/Analysis of The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

2 Nov

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
Penguin Group (October 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9781937007010

Favorite Lines: “The metal presses deeper. I’m too terrified for it to hurt, too surprised to manage a protest or plea. Warm, thick fluid bleeds down my throat.” (p.144)

There can only be one allegiance.
It’s her time to choose.

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

While reading The Shadow Reader, I sucked up the tension and quickly flipped through the pages. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a love triangle when I began reading, but it wasn’t until I finished reading the book that it really bothered me. I’ll go into that later.

The story is pretty awesome…on the surface. The heroine is trying to save the fae. She is kidnapped and told she is helping the wrong side. Along with her, we learn the truth about the war raging among the fae. The characters are fully fleshed, the mystery aspect of the story is well written and I became emotionally involved. The story is fast paced and enthralling. I loved it, until I didn’t. The Shadow Reader is book one in Sandy Williams’ McKenzie Lewis series and is told in the first person.

I try to avoid analyzing books for several reasons. The most important reason is that I read for entertainment and pleasure. The books I generally read will not impress me politically or in any other way. They are simply a way for me to escape my life for a few hours. The Shadow Reader is different, although I didn’t realize it until I was explaining the book to my cousin. Then I became irritated and my 4 star GoodReads rating of the book seemed like a major mistake. Don’t get me wrong. I loved every minute of reading the book until I thought about what the book was really saying and then my opinion of it plummeted.

SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS YOU’LL BE PISSED IF YOU READ ON CAUSE IT IS FULL OF SPOILERS!

Many women love the danger and excitement associated with a “bad boy.” I love bad boy heroes, too. But I don’t understand how unrequited love of 10 years can be written off over the course of a few weeks. McKenzie knows that her friend and would-be-lover Kyol is honorable and trust worthy. He has always protected her and it is only by the dictate of his king that he has not acted upon his feelings toward her.

Kyol has always been clear that a relationship between them is not possible, despite the passion and love he feels for her. However, when it is possible for the two to get together, she chooses elsewhere because he didn’t choose her soon enough. What? His willingness to do the right thing was a major attraction for McKenzie. She was drawn to his honor. But she was so fickle that she didn’t even take the time explore the possibility of a relationship with her friend and dream warrior. He risked everything for her and she gave him nothing.  Why?

I never should have had to wait ten years for him. I should have respected myself more than that, known I deserved to be treated better.–p. 306 (McKenzie thinking about Kyol)

Just who can treat her better? Well obviously the bad boy who abused her, Aren. Hell, he more than abused her. He almost killed her by slitting her throat. Later, he healed her. Really? This is what we are telling girls and women is important? It’s okay that your hero cut your throat because he loves you. It’s better to choose him…the man you’ve known for a few weeks…the man who slit your throat…than to investigate your feelings that have evolved over the course of 10 years.  I don’t understand. Especially when it is paired with the following statement.

“If I were a good man,” he says, “I’d acknowledge that Taltrayn is an honorable fae, that he loves you and would take care of you. I’d step down and let you have the man you’ve always wanted, but, McKenzie, I’m not as good as Taltrayn. I never will be, and I can’t step down. I’ll fight for the chance to be with you.” (Aren speaking to McKenzie about Kyol aka Taltrayn)

I’m a romantic and at first I thought it was so lovely. He’d always put her first unlike Kyol who chose his promise to his king. He loves her so much, he’d never let her go. Now, pair that mentality with a man who has shown violence against a woman. It adds an ominous air to the story.

Fifty years from now, women will read this book and cite it as a literary example of the breakdown in society. It shows how deeply instilled women have become with the idea of needing a man at all times. McKenzie needed a man in her life so bad that she chose a violent man over hopes of finding a man who would cut off his own arm before harming the woman he felt passion for or the man she has loved for years. She didn’t even consider re-evaluating what she wanted in a man. She is an example of the battered women who are hospitalized by the men who love them, yet go right back home to the men because they apologized, showed kindness and said “I love you.”

Worse. I never liked the idea of the heroine finding new love, but I accepted it. Until I retold the good parts of the story aloud. Then my brain kicked in. I would never want my friend to be with a man who abused her. The heroines in my books are my “literary” friends. I don’t want them with abusive men either.

So while The Shadow Reader is an engaging book, I’m not sure that I’ll continue the series because I don’t like the undercover ideology. During war bad things happen. It would have been bad if the hero let someone injure the heroine. But to allow the hero to purposely injure the woman he cares for is hard to swallow. For my heroine to choose violence over love–that’s almost unforgivable.

I Read It, but I’m not Reviewing It

1 Mar

Yeah, that describes a ton of books. While I love telling people what I think about books, there are some books that I keep to myself. Often they are my secret joys. You know the books that fill juicy little holes inside of you that you would never critique. Or they are books that irked me because the author went in a direction that turns me off. It’s not that the writing is poor, it is that the plot no longer interests me.

I don’t think it is fair to bash a book because I don’t like the creative angle it took. That doesn’t mean I don’t it just means sometimes I recognize it wouldn’t be fair to give a bad review based on my personal hangups. Sure, I’m fickle. I’m a reader.

I spend hundreds of dollars every year on my book addiction and it only makes sense that I feel invested in them. (God, I don’t ever want to know an exact dollar amount on money I spend buying books.) But this month in particular seems to be filled with books that I read, some of which I enjoyed, but will not be writing a review of. Here are a couple of them:

Richelle Mead’s Iron Crowned (Pissed me off so bad)
Kim Harrison’s Pale Demon (Really enjoyed)
A.M.Dellamonica’s Indigo Springs (Barely finished chapter 1. DNF)

So what about you? What have you read that you hated, loved, DNF or just don’t want to review?

The Battle of my Year: nook vs. paper

23 Feb

I’ve had my nook for about a week now and so far in the battle of nook vs. paper, paper is winning. Sure I like reading the nook when I’m out and about (like the skating rink over the weekend), but my preference is paper books. I’m enjoying the convenience of instantly downloading books, but something is missing. I can’t put my finger on it. I just need to hold a real book.

At one point in my life I was all about convenience. Now as I get older I find myself wanting quality. Quality that can be found in a paper book instead of an electronic copy lacking a cover. Or an e-book with words that are connected (thatare) and I have to separate in my mind. It’s not really that big of an issue, but it’s not quality. It’s great for the books I don’t want to keep. Not so great for those that I’ll need to purchase again to decorate my bookshelf. Ahhhhhh!!!!!

So the debate runs on in my mind…to ebook or not to ebook. Right now, not to ebook is kickin’ ebooks ass.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy an e-book Reader

6 Feb

Okay, I’m just gonna go over the top. It seems like EVERYONE is purchasing or receiving an e-book reader lately. Sure they’re great. They make it possible to have instant gratification when you’re feening for a book and sure it’s convenient. But when I hear people say e-book readers change the way people read today I get scared. These are the reasons why you shouldn’t buy an e-book reader.

  1. When the apocalypse comes and the electric grids fail, you will have no way to charge your reader. Then what will you do with all your time.
  2. If you spill liquids on it you are threatening your library. Not just one book but all of them because most stores only allow you to re-download books a few times.
  3. When you lose your reader you will be shit out of luck. This means you will have nothing to read.
  4. What will you decorate your bookshelves with? They’re called BOOKshelves for a reason.
  5. You need to buy groceries more than you need another electronic gadget in the house.
  6. They cost the same amount as the paper books on your BOOKshelf.
  7. When you consider the materials needed to make your reader, you really aren’t doing much to save the environment.

So why shouldn’t you get an e-book reader?

Comforting Romance

14 Dec

It’s no secret that I have always love Julie Garwood’s Scottish romance novels. I love the strong alpha who isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to protect his heroine. I love the innocent brides who can be defiant without saying an unkind word. I just love them. I never try to analyze them…they are pure entertainment for me. Or they were before two days ago.

What happened? Well, I went on a Garwood binge. I even hit the used bookstore to replace two books I couldn’t find. I read: “The Secret,” “Saving Grace,” “The Bride,” “Honor’s Splendour” and “Ransom.” Yeah, I know the storylines by heart, but I never realized how similar they are. (Honor’s Splendour isn’t Scottish, but it reminds me of them.)

The brides are all fragile and delicate with iron backbones. In some ways almost all of them are damaged by their families. There’s the abusive uncle, mother, stepfather, stepbrother, husband and usurper who take out their problems on the brides. Some don’t even realize they’ve been abused; their husbands figure it out and express rage on their behalf. At some point most of them are attacked and have a leg or arm slashed open. They bravely deal with the pain as their wounds are treated.

You know what? I’m good with that. I started to get irritated when I realized they all sounded the same. When the men and woman talked it was like their names and locations had been slightly changed, but the spirit filling the shells remained the same.

Am I over analyzing? You bet. I won’t be giving up my Garwood books anytime soon, if ever. But I sure shocked myself when I started sighing while reading the books. Maybe it’s just cause I’m older and review books more often. Regardless, I still find her books to be comforting.

One of the Worst Commercials Ever

1 Dec

Do you have a commercial that you really hate? I do. It’s a commercial for Kay Jewelers. It’s supposed to be romantic, but it annoys me that the actress in it is scared by lightning so bad that she jumps into her man’s arms. Yes, love each other, but really, how old are you? See it for yourself, then tell me or link to the commercial you hate most.

Paranormal Questions

27 Nov

I was reading Amanda Ashley’s Night’s Master (told you I owned most of her books 🙂 ) and found myself wondering about paranormal books. What jobs, if any, do the women in paranormal romance and urban fantasy stories have? Off the top of my head I came up with bookstore employee or owner, cop, lawyer or no job at all. Now to put it to the test. I’m going to try to compile a list of jobs out of all the paranormal romance and UF books I read in 2011. We’ll see how it goes. What do you think about me keeping track of the information on a separate page of the blog? I welcome you to add titles and jobs to the list as well.

Meanwhile I want to know:

Offensive or True: Male writers are better than women?

16 Sep

Wow, I just finished reading a post at the Huffington Post’s site and had to scratch my head in wonderment because I don’t understand why women feel the need to knock other women down. The article is filled with wide sweeping comments aimed at a complete group of writers and their work. I think what bothered me most was when its author Koa Beck wrote, “Commercial books do not deserve serious critique because, generally, the writing does not merit it.”

I want to know what type of “commercial books” Beck read to form her opinion. Sure, there are books which don’t deserve “serious critique.” Occasionally I’ll get irritated enough to write about all the reasons a book is an epic fail. However, I would never generalize an entire writing genre or community because of one or two bad books.

According to Beck, “The recognized style of commercial books is cheaper, less authentic, more formulaic, and more predictable, known for comfortable endings and neatly packaged characters that function more as cartoons than representations of actual people. When it comes down to fiction writing — solid, genuine fiction writing — that attempts to push boundaries and say something unique about our nature or the way we live, commercial lit doesn’t have that kind of reach.”

Do you agree or disagree? Why? What book do you think proves her comment to be ignorant or true? I’d especially like to hear from authors.

Edited to add: The title stems from the section of Beck’s article which states “With the exception of a few female literary giants who are regulars in The New Yorker and the New York Times, it seems that even when a big publication does take note of a compelling female voice, she isn’t nearly as strong a writer as her male colleagues.”

Look what I found

24 Mar

Warning: Sexually explicit post……. Continue reading