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review 2018-06-20 21:42
The Regional Office Is Under Attack - a comic book of a novel - great fun
The Regional Office is Under Attack!: A Novel - Manuel G. Gonzales

How to describe this... It's about superheroes while they're "off duty" and a specific group of superheroes -- all women. They're recruited by a place that is a travel agency unless you want to go to Akron Ohio, in which case it's the global HQ for these amazing magic women and the people who organize them.

 

And the book takes place while their HQ is under attack.

 

I can't tell you much more than that without spoiling it. It's humorous without being satire and without mocking superheroes of the more usual sort. Clearly written by someone who loves the heroes we all know and love and also completely different in the angle we watch from. The humor isn't at the expense of our usual heroes, it's just that we're in on their inner-most thoughts - stuff like "this is a f-ing ridiculous way to die" etc.

 

A very fast read because it's easy and I wanted to know how it was going to turn out. It started a tad slow, and we get the back and forth from present to past and back again (a gimmick I'm really starting to see as a novelists easy way out, but it works here.) I feared it would be all origin story, but it's absolutely not. There are very few feelings, and the only adjective is the F word - all of this sounds terrible. Maybe it's just my mood. I have been wanting light lately and this hit the spot. There's no great depth, which is exactly why it works. I've read comic books that felt a bit like this but never a novel. It's different and therefore quite interesting as well as just plain fun. 

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review 2018-06-18 17:31
Vegan Yack Attack on the Go! by Jackie Sobon
Vegan Yack Attack on the Go! - Jackie Sobon

I am no where near a Vegan, as a matter of fact I am pretty far from being one. I do love my fruits and vegetables though. I honestly believe that you can find some of the best tasting fruit and vegetable recipes in vegan cookbooks. 

 

As I was going through this book I found so many recipes I cannot wait to set on the table for my family. The book is broken down into sections. Breakfast, prep aheads, bulk and more. The best thing about these recipes are they are all quick recipes. 

 

Some of my favorite recipes are: Fresh Fruit Yogurt Sundae,  Grill and Chill salad,  grilled eggplants pesto pita pockets,  and hearty skillet cornbread to name a few. 

 

Everyone should check out this delicious book.

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2018-02-14 05:44
Not all things are lights
The Night’s Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars - Elena Maria Vidal

Disclosure:  I downloaded only the free sample preview of the Kindle edition of this book.  I do not know the author nor have I had any personal direct communication with her about this book or any other matter, but I am aware of her through discussions here on BookLikes.  I have also read reviews of her books and her comments regarding those reviews.  I am an author of contemporary and historical romance novels.

 

The Amazon preview feature is an option afforded to self-publishing authors so that they can give potential readers the opportunity to look at the opening of the book the way they would if they were browsing the shelves in a brick and mortar book store or a library. If the reader likes the beginning, they can buy or borrow the book and take it home to read the rest.  If the beginning isn't quite so intriguing, the reader puts the book back on the shelf and moves on.

 

Elena Maria Vidal's book is, in my opinion, outrageously over-priced at $9.99 for a Kindle edition of approximately 228 pages.  A writer with no professional credentials or writing track record would be well advised to lower the price and hope to get some readership.  At the current price, however, it had to be one hell of a fine book to tempt me.  In truth, if not for the fracas surrounding Ms. Vidal, I would never even have considered this book.

 

I've been interested in the Cathar "heresy" at least since my first reading of Frank Yerby's The Saracen Blade when I was in high school in the 1960s.  This was about the same time as the popular song "Dominique" was topping the charts, sung by a Belgian Dominican nun.  The song chronicles the life of Saint Dominic.  Although the English lyrics

 

At a time when Johnny Lackland
Over England was the King
Dominique was in the backland
Fighting sin like anything

 

seem innocuous enough, the original French words reflect more of Dominic's history:

 

A l'e poque ou Jean-sans-Terre de' Angleterre etait Roi
Dominique, notre Pere, combattit les Albigeois

 

"Combattit les Albigeois" does not mean "fighting sin like anything."  It means "fought the Albigensian(s)."''

 

I already knew what that meant.  I knew who the Albigensians were -- the Cathars -- and I knew why the Catholic Church was determined to exterminate them.

 

Years later, I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the allegedly non-fiction account of Knights Templars and Cathars and the hilltop village of Rennes-le-Chateau in the south of France.  I also picked up Robert Shea's novel, All Things Are Lights, about the Cathars.  Right now it's on the top shelf of the big bookcase or I'd get it down and add a photo.

 

So I'm not totally ignorant of the history of the Languedoc and the Cathar heresy.

 

Oh, and one other thing.  In early February 1969, I hitchhiked from Paris to the Spanish border.  My journey took me through Cahors, Limoges, Montauban, and Toulouse before heading into the Pyrenees via Pamiers, Foix, and Col de Puymorens.

 

 

With this personal background, I downloaded the sample of The Night's Dark Shades.

 

For one thing, it's very short, hardly enough to get much of a taste of the story.  But, as I've noted often enough before, it's not difficult to determine a writer's skill at writing in just a few pages.

 

Elena Maria Vidal is not the greatest writer in the world.  Millions of murex snails would have to be sacrificed to produce so much purple prose.  It's not just the extravagance of adjectives and speech tags that make my eyes roll while reading, however.  It's also the fact that the text is boring. 

 

Lady Rafaelle is heading to her uncle's chateau where she will probably wed his son, her cousin, after the deaths of her father and her betrothed in . . . some war.  There's a lot of info dumping, but not much else.  Well, there are questions raised that should be answered right away.  They aren't.

 

Lady Rafaelle seems to be the heir to the estate of Miramande, in the somewhat distant region of Auvergne.  Her father is dead and there's no mention of any brothers or other siblings who would have inherited the estate and its chateau.  So, why is Rafaelle leaving her estate to go to her uncle's? Why did she initially consider entering a convent? Who is minding Miramande in her absence?

 

We get more information about Jehanette, the peasant who serves as Lady Rafaelle's handmaiden, than about why Rafaelle has seemingly abandoned her chateau.

 

That bothered me.  It seemed like that should have been an important plot point.

 

What also bothered me was that there's no description of the "rabble" of pilgrims who are accompanying Rafaelle and her troupe on the journey.  Well, no, that's not quite right.  There is some description, but it's not adequate.  How many are there?  I thought at first it must be a hundred or more, but apparently it's less than 20.  I would have liked to know that sooner.

 

Who else is in this train?  Two attending women, a couple of knights, and . . . . that's it?

 

This is important because one of the knights, in a tedious little info dump, informs Rafaelle that there are bandits in the mountains, murderous renegades of the religious war, I guess.  Because of the bandits, the knights advise against stopping for a brief rest.

 

Wait a minute.  What difference would stopping for a rest make?  I mean, if bandits are going to attack, couldn't they attack while the company from Miramande are on the move?  After all, they aren't moving very fast, because some of the pilgrims and men-at-arms are on foot.

 

If I as a reader think this, why didn't Rafaelle?  Why didn't she ask about this?  Well, of course she didn't because that wouldn't be good for the story, I suppose.  And also of course, Rafaelle prevails in demanding a brief rest and the bandits attack.

 

That's when I quit reading.

 

Purple prose for the sake of purple prose turns me off.  The opening paragraph that describes the pass in the Pyrenees would almost have been enough to make me put this book back on the figurative shelf.  But further reading didn't really improve my opinion.

 

There's no real sense of the historical period established.  Oh, the history is given: one king is dead, the new king is a minor, France is under the rule of the king's mother Queen Blanche, blah, blah, blah.  But it takes more than a few data points to make the reader feel as if she is in the scene.  Author Vidal wasn't able to bring me into that mountain pass.  She didn't give me a full sense of Rafaelle as a character, someone I could identify with as the story progressed.  I didn't know what she looked like, or even how old she was. 

 

Writers are free to write their stories any way they want.  Once they put their stories into the public marketplace, however, they must also accept the judgment of the readers who choose to look at those stories.  And readers are free to form and express their opinions on the writing, the stories, and yes, even the authors themselves.

 

As a reader, I'm not inclined to read any further into The Night's Dark Shade.  I'm more inclined to climb on a stepstool and pull All Things Are Lights down for a re-read.  Vidal's writing is insufficiently professional to command the price she's put on the book, but more importantly, it's insufficiently professional to command my attention.

 

One-half star and a Do Not Want to Read.

 

 

 

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review 2017-12-29 00:00
Attack Of The Yetis
Attack Of The Yetis - Eric S. Brown Attack Of The Yetis - Eric S. Brown Attack of the Yetis had all the hallmarks of being a ridiculously fun, pulp-filled monster horror/action book that would have lovers of the genre cheering.

Eric S. Brown is very talented at writing non-stop action and pitting man against monster in battles that will have you on the edge of your seat. His gory scenes aren't the best I've ever read, but they're not bad by any means. There was one scene in particular that had me cackling. It involved a Yeti (don't think I'm spoiling anything, considering the name of the book is Attack of the Yetis) squeezing someone until their intestines shot up and out of their throat. It was great!

Up until the end of the book (technically it ends at 90 percent, and the rest is a preview of another book), it's go-go-go-go with lots of squishing, shooting, and screamy fun. So, yeah, this could have been a great book.

But it wasn't. And, in this case, I'm more inclined to blame whomever edited it (or didn't, as the case may be).

There are multiple errors in this book that should have been caught. So, that's enough to rub me the wrong way right there. Had it been properly eye-balled, most of it could have been easily cleaned up. But beyond the errors, there's the repetition.

Holy crap, the repetition.

I say this with the utmost sincerity and in the spirit of honest constructive cricticism: Someone needs to buy the author of Attack of The Yetis a thesaurus.

It's always an inhuman roar. Lots of things that aren't human can roar and scream and such and they sound very different from each other. It's almost always blazing yellow eyes (sometimes they're just yellow). Are they big eyes? small? deep set? Any little bit of description other than blazing yellow would easy up on the monotony!They're always covered in white hair. What type of white hair? Is it fine, coarse, shaggy or long? They blend in with the snow - does that mean the hair is snow white? Or is it like polar bear fur and actually clear? There's some description that can be had there! Intestines are either red- or green-slicked strands, depending on whether its a human or monster getting gutted, etc. I think my point is made.

I got so tired of reading the same descriptions over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. There's no change up in this book. The pulse-pounding action is not complemented, at all, by the complete and utter blandness of the desperately over-used adjectives.

I feel like someone messed up on accident here. It really feels like one of those cases where a restaurant gets super busy, someone orders a steak dinner with all the trimmings, and the plate is put together and brought out to the customer's table before anyone realizes they forgot to actually cook the steak. (Though in this case, the 'steak' is well done, but everything else is raw and unseasoned.)

Attack of the Yetis is great, fun, no-holds-barred head-splodey action that has been screwed over by no one giving it the attention it needs to turn it into the masterpiece of B-movie low-budget bad-goodness that it could have been.
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review 2017-12-05 13:00
Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board - Bethany Hamilton,Sheryl Berk,Rick Bundschuh

She is really inspiring. Something major happened to her, but she got back up and continued to do what she loved.

 


I enjoyed the book, but not the writing style as much. I've seen people complain that she did not talk more about the shark and how things were different after, with having one arm, and how she adapted to doing things differently, or how she talked about the making of her movie. But this book isn't meant to dwell just the attack; it's meant to be about her life, and that would include her faith and the movie.

I also want to add, I love sharks. They get a bad rep for this sort of thing. They don't see humans as food, and usually leave after having a nibble (they mistake you as their food.) But that nibble is usually enough to kill or seriously maim someone. They are not evil killing machines or an useless animal as I've seen a lot of people say. It is their world people "invade" for a lack of a better word and they might be curious about you if you are flailing around and seem like a seal in distress.

I can't speak for her personally, but I do feel like she is the type of person who would not blame the shark, and would know it wasn't the sharks fault. I can't remember what she said exactly in the book about this, but I remember in the movie, she was upset when people went after sharks, hunting and killing a bunch. I mean she is a firm believer in God, and sharks are one of his creatures, right?

 

This is a true story, written by someone who is not a professional writer, so I did find some of it choppy and odd. She is amazing and I wish her well. I hope she continues to inspire people.

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