How to Ruin a Book Series and Anger Your Fans

Burned by Karen Marie MoningAfter 8 years of reading books on Kindle, I finally understand what makes someone want to throw their Kindle against the wall – or use it to slap the face of the author who destroyed a world they so carefully built.

Burned by Karen Marie Moning, is the 7th book in the Fever series, and the last book by KMM I will read.

This is how you destroy a book series:

Kick off the 7th book with a scene that occurred in Book 1, from the other character’s point of view. Then, throw in some added content that concludes with a memory-erasing spell – of just the new content. Be sure to include something that fully changes your perspective of BOTH characters since the event that occurs never would have happened with the characters as they have been written, yet make sure it serves no purpose and does nothing to move the plot forward. It’s just there for decoration.

Have a strong-willed character who has lived for centuries, and needs nothing, run to the main character, a young 23 year old valley girl – for HELP. Because he needs a lot of help, and she can give it, right?

Give a split personality to another character, that again, was invented in Book 7, and simply make the character the exact opposite of who they were before. Make sure to make her extremely annoying. Nails-on-the-chalkboard annoying.

Shift point of view from one character to another for the entire book. Make sure this doesn’t actually serve any purpose. Just use it because other authors do it. Why not, right? In fact, be sure to give a few chapters to some minor characters who are not relevant to the story. Plot? Who cares about plot?

Don’t worry about details being congruent. For instance, when a character is invisible (again, it doesn’t matter that this type of magic has never happened in the previous books, just go with it), and the character makes a point to tell you that anything she touches or holds is invisible, you don’t need to keep this line of fantasy going. No one is paying attention anymore. So it’s totally okay to have her stand on a scale, and have the scale disappear, yet in the next sentence, read a book. The book doesn’t become invisible because details do not matter, right? Right.

Oh, and be sure to end on your classic cliffhanger, but, to fully make sure your fans never read the next book – use a minor character for nail-bitting-thrilling ending – one we care absolutely nothing about.

Karen Marie Moning, you should be ashamed of yourself.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

The Stepford WivesWhat is it about Ira Levin? How did he write things that seem so normal on the surface only to be downright chilling and horrific underneath?

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the story behind The Stepford Wives, either from seeing a TV show, or a movie, but I couldn’t remember the specifics. The story is short at only 150 pages so I read it in entirety last night and it’s been on my mind since.

Not only is the main theme scary (what is happening to women to make them such perfect housewives?), but the nuances to story hit the mark as well. As Joanna sees others in the supermarket with their groceries perfectly aligned as they shop, she too feels the desire to match what they are doing, and be like them. She is disgusted at their tendency to disparage all interests outside the home in exchange for having the perfect, clean, house… yet she feels inadequate when compared to them. If given enough time, Joanna would probably have become a perfect Stepford Wife all on her own, even without the antics of the men in the town – and that – is quite scary indeed.

I like that the details are not completely spelled out, but instead you are left to your imagination to figure out… just what happened to Joanna.

All in all, it’s a good quick read that is still relevant – and will be as long as the concept of a Stepford Wife is in use in our vocabulary!

The Stepford Wives is available on Kindle for a whopping $7.99 (at only 150 pages), or you can read it on Scribd. You can use this link to get a free two-month free trial to Scribd – and I highly recommend it!

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeI’m speechless. When a book is THIS good, I usually skip writing a review. For one thing, the reviews are already glowing off the charts, and the description on Amazon boasts a variety of awards and recommendations. What can I possibly add? But, I decided to share my thoughts anyway, just in case you’re in need of a good book to read today.

I went into this book blind, no knowledge of what it was about, or the reviews. I just started reading, and then, I couldn’t stop. I read Tell the Wolves I’m Home on my Kindle, but I’m eager to own it on paper, and read it again… and again… and again.

The main character is a young teen in the mid-80s and there are so many images this story brought back to mind. Some fun nostalgia, some painful memories. And the fear. I remember exactly where I was the day I first heard the word AIDS, and how I learned about it, and how it was presented in the news. I remember Ryan White.

Though I think this book may be enjoyed by anyone above the age of 13, I think there are some parts that will just wring your heart into a million pieces if you’re closer to my age or just a little older.

I don’t want to say much more than that so you can experience the story as the author intended. And even if you are younger, the story is a must-read, as it’s simply great on it’s own even if you didn’t live through that time.

Would you like this book? I’d recommended Tell the Wolves I’m Home for fans of Markus Zusak, Catherine Ryan Hyde, and those of us who came of age in the 80s.

There is no I in TEAM – Anthem by Ayn Rand

Anthem by Ayn RandPublished in 1938, Anthem by Ayn Rand was way ahead of it’s time. Of course, that’s likely the goal with a Dystopian novel, but apparently it wasn’t taken as a warning.

In a society where children are growing up without knowing what it means to lose (everyone wins!), books like this should still be read today. It is a bit odd to read a book where there is no “I” – even though it’s written from the first person point of view, as people are not individuals and being alone is against the law. Since there is no alone, there is no “I” only “we” and it’s a little too easy to read this as though Gollum from The Lord of the Rings wrote it. Yes… yes, we read it we did!

I still shudder at the workplace environments where open collaborative spaces are the norm and quiet places to do actual work are few and far between. Most Fortune 500 companies are inspired to: foster a creative work environment where the team can cohesively work together and drive innovation that will bring sustainable improvement to key-emerging technologies destined to be a game-changer.

Yeah. Read this book. It’s a quick short story that gives new meaning to justice and liberty for all.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a Book Worth Talking About

We Need to Talk About KevinWhat a train wreck. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a psychological thriller that slowly builds steam. And I do mean slowly. This is not your light fluffy read for the afternoon, but instead something to read, think about, and discuss. And maybe even have another light read on the side to make your way through this journey.

Some reviewers say the writing style is pretentious, but it is the main character Eva, who is pretentious – rather than the book. Lionel Shriver brings Eva’s personality to life, and as other characters are quoted, you get a really good sense that she (the author), can really write characters that are easily distinguished from one another. I grew to hate Eva’s husband almost as much as her son – and that may have even been part of her goal.

From the beginning we know that Eva’s son, Kevin, committed mass murder. Eva wonders if she (or perhaps her “thought crimes”) are to blame, and though the questioning thoughts she has never leads us in this direction, I half wonder if her husband’s behavior toward Kevin played a larger part – given Kevin’s intelligence, personality, and Franklin’s way of never treating him as being older than a toddler.

This is a very difficult book to rate. At the beginning I loved the writing style, and I loved seeing what Eva had to say about the matter (and I too, wanted to know WHY everything happened as it did). However, as the story unfolds, the verbose language style and heavy plot really weighed on me. I took a break in the middle to read a trashy romance novel (and by trashy I mean, it was awful), before continuing on with this journey that felt like it would never end. Then again, I couldn’t make myself stop reading it, and, it’s not a book that can be skimmed.

All in all, I’d say I really liked it for what it made me think. But I’m desperately in need of a good light fluffy novel now to get lost in for a few hours!

I never would have known about this book if it hadn’t been suggested to me by the recommendation engine on Scribd!

Why I Won’t Read Harper Lee’s New Novel

I call foul. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee will be released  on July 14, 2015, and I want to ask, should it be? Should this book be published?

Harper Lee

It was only a few years ago when Harper Lee claimed her agent took advantage of her and duped her into signing over the copyright for To Kill a Mockingbird in 2007  (as of 2012 she again holds the copyright).

Ms. Lee has lived in an assisted facility since 2007, has been losing her hearing, and her vision, and has never once mentioned writing another novel in the more than 50 years that have passed since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. In 2014, this article quotes Ms. Lee as saying (about a memoir), “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood”. In the same article, Lee addresses why she never wrote another novel, stating that, “I already said everything I needed to say…” and compares herself to Boo Radley (the character in To Kill a Mockingbird who is a recluse).

Jonathan Burnham of HarperCollins stated that he has never spoken to Harper Lee directly about her “new” book, and instead has, “communicated with her solely through her lawyer, Ms. Carter, and her literary agent, Andrew Nurnberg.” and that has me concerned.

Has Harper Lee given permission for this book to be published? I have serious doubts, and I’m not the only one.

To publish a book by a living author without their direct consent should be questioned. I feel that reading this book is the same as if I walked into Harper Lee’s house, uninvited, and started poking around her closet! This isn’t a lost literary gem – it’s stealing, and invading the privacy of an author who cherishes her privacy.


Liked Coraline? Read Dust by Arthur Slade

Sometimes books listed as “for children” are really an “all ages” type of read – but the only way to find out, is to read them. Since I just read a book listed for ages 9-18 on Amazon, and loved it, I wanted to be sure to write a quick review. Because… I’m not 18 anymore…

Dust by Arthur SladeIf you’re in the mood for something that’s a quick read but has some serious creepiness, enough to make you want to keep turning the pages because you MUST find out what happens next, be sure to check out Dust by Arthur Slade. Part fantasy, part horror, it’s quite a unique story. Children go missing and an entire town is mesmerized… What has happened to the children, and why are people held captivated by the town newcomer? You’ll have to read to find out.

Then, if you want to continue reading more books that fit the same vibe, be sure to check out Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and Ashlyn’s Radio by Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty.

P.S. Isn’t that cover just awesome? I admit to purchasing this book because of the cover. See? Sometimes that choice pays off!

Ride the Roller Coaster of Madness: A Bipolar Life

It takes a certain level of sanity to know you are mentally ill, yet try to hide it from the world – and succeed. I just finished reading Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher and I’m slowly coming back to reality. It was tough to put this book down and do anything else, it’s captivating, and quite frankly, mind-blowing. It’s difficult to imagine someone living this way, not only simply coping, but coming out on top and living a successful life. It is not a “how to be well” handbook, there are no answers here. But there is a journey well worth taking.

“I am silent. I do not exist. I am merely a pair of eyes, looking around the room. The rest of me is invisible. I won’t be visible again until someone sees me. If a woman stands in her kitchen rubbing her eyes and pouring coffee with no one there to see her, does she exist?”

MadnessMarya Hornbacher has managed to squash Anorexia, Bulimia, Alcoholism, and seems to be finding a way to live with what sounds like, fairly severe Bipolar disorder. Her descriptions of the rapid-cycling between hypermania and depression left me with a very clear understanding of what it would be like to face these obstacles, and a much better understanding (and empathy) for being mentally ill.

During the years her biopolar was misdiagnosed – then the years she fought the diagnosis, she led a somewhat functional life. Rather, it was highly dysfunctional but she accomplished some amazing things. Her book “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia” was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 – all while being shuffled in and out of the psych ward (and associated reality).

“You wake up one morning and there it is, sitting in an old plaid bathrobe in your kitchen, unpleasant and unshaved. You look at it, heart sinking. Madness is a rotten guest.”

Marya used both food and alcohol to try to manage her moods and mind, and it’s unfortunate it took so long for her to receive appropriate help with each of these areas (eating disorder, alcoholism, and then finally, her biopolar). I learned, the longer bipolar goes undiagnosed, the more severe it will get (and the more frequently swings will occur). Since bipolar is often diagnosed as something else first, the patient is at risk.

Marya Hornbacher is a beautiful writer. As a lover of words, she has an amazing way with them. This book will likely be one of my favorite reads for this year – and it’s only January!

Madness: A Bipolar Life is of course available on Amazon, and also on Scribd.

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You

Sharon and DaveAs a child, one of my favorite books was called “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” illustrated by Edward Gorey. It had alternating sections in back text, or blue text, indicating where to hand the book over and either read, or enjoy the portion being read to you.

Since Dave and I are both avid readers, it didn’t take us too long in the early days of our relationship to run into a reading-related problem. We wanted to each read a short story, of which, we had one paper copy. With only a small amount of free time each evening, it seemed like a good idea for me to begin reading the story to him aloud while he cooked dinner, and then he would read to me later on in the evening. It was a simple problem with a simple solution. We didn’t realize we were creating one of those “us” things. You know, those moments you look back on and realize it was the start of something big? Reading to each other every day is something we have done ever since, now going on nine years!

We discovered several things all those years ago when we began to read to each other. Even though we typically read very different books, it’s also nice to read something else that’s a cross-over book, something we both enjoy, and get to experience together. This broadens our reading experience.

Books are more fun with friends! You know those moments when a book makes you gasp, laugh, shriek, or jump? Even if you are in the same room with someone, this is something you experience by yourself. Perhaps you feel the need to explain what happened in the story, what made you react, but they haven’t gone on the journey with you and cannot share your experience.

Both the experience of being read to, and reading to someone else – is relaxing. It’s a great way to wind down from a stressful day, and get to be together, and from my perspective, much more fun than watching TV!

Reading with someone is like a life-hack. It’s not how the medium of reading was meant to be enjoyed, but it adds another layer that is there for the taking. Happy reading!