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review 2018-08-15 17:39
The People of the Sea: "Dolphin Island" by Arthur C. Clarke
Dolphin Island - Arthur C. Clarke


“Johnny Clinton was sleeping when the hovership raced down the valley, floating along the old turnpike on its cushion of air. [..] To any boy of the twenty.first century, it was a sound of magic, telling of far-off countries and strange cargoes carried in the first ships that could travel with equal ease across land and sea.”


In “Dolphin Island” by Arthur C. Clarke



“Dolphin Island” was one of the very first proper book I read, or tried to read, in English, when I was 10 or 11, in primary school, and I loved it. My dad had given it to me, because he thought it would make a good first read for a boy who was trying to teach himself English at the time. 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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text 2018-08-01 04:39
Extending my mini-vacation, and then it's over
  • The four-day week-end I spent in the Seattle area was not much of a vacation, other than being a break from cooking and washing dishes.

    I think I walked three or four miles just through the airports and had the burden of hauling a suitcase and overloaded laptop case.  Being old and out of shape doesn't help.  Even on wheels, the combination of luggage was heavy.  There was no way I could have carried it up and down stairs, so I appreciated the escalators, but in many places there were just ramps.  They're fine on the downward slant, but uphill ramps have always done a number on my ankle and calf muscles.

    During my stay, we went to baseball games three days out of the four, and invariably there was uphill and downhill walking, with the same effect on my muscles as airport ramps.  Nights were often late and most mornings were early, so I didn't get nearly as much sleep as I would have liked.  And sleep in an unfamiliar bed never provides the best rest.  Each day I fell further and further behind.

    Sunday, we went to beaches.  Several of them.  We went in search of stones and seaglass.  I found enough little stones at one beach to maybe make a small tumbler load and maybe produce some casual jewelry, but the seaglass beach was inaccessible.  That was a bit of a disappointment.

    We also went to the beaches to take pictures.  No one has any pictures of me because I'm always the one taking the photos, and I don't like any of the photos of me anyway.  But everyone wanted some family pictures, so we found a big driftwood log at one beach and some pictures were taken.  I haven't seen them yet.  I'm not sure when I will.

    I returned to Arizona Monday – the airport walks were longer and even more horrendous because I was already exhausted – and wasted no time.  Dirty laundry was the first thing unpacked, and while the washer was running I finished the unpacking.  As soon as the clothes were in the dryer, I set the timer for an hour and crawled into bed for a 60 minute nap.  There being insufficient groceries in the house to fix supper – and there being absolutely no enthusiasm on my part for cooking it anyway – we went out to eat.  I came home completely exhausted in spite of my nap, and was sound asleep shortly after 9:00.

    This morning I woke up earlier than I really wanted to and had no desire to get out of bed, so I spent about an hour just being lazy and doing some thinking.  It's not the first morning I've done that, but for a variety of reasons this morning was a bit different.

    A good portion of the past weekend was also devoted to motivational conversations, for reasons I won't go into here.  Although I was not the object of these discussions, much of what was said hit home: I've not been adequately motivated to stick to my writing and I've also been far too willing to come up with convenient excuses.  The weather is too hot or too cold, there are too many worries about finances, too many appliances have broken, blah, blah, blah, blah.  The end result is that I have two novels sitting at well more than 50,000 words each, and I have done virtually nothing on either of them for months.

    A few weeks ago, I figured out why one of the books was stalled.  The problems were fixable, with some work, and the fix would make the story much stronger.  And even at 50,000 words, the book was going to require a whole lot more writing anyway.  The words don't write themselves; I'd have to stop making excuses and get to work.

    The other book presents a much more complicated problem.  I began writing it without a clear idea where it was going.  The plot was vague and strongly character-driven, so I had the character arc well formed, but not much else.  The more I worked on it, the more the writing veered to the character part of the plot and away from the story, because the story wasn't strong enough to pull it back.

    The story also had a huge hole.  No, that's not quite right.  The story as I had written it up to those 50,000 words had an obvious weakness.  At least it was obvious to me.

    As I read other books and saw similar or even worse weaknesses, I wondered if readers noticed, and if they noticed, did they care.  These flimsy plots and characters who acted without proper motivation or consistency bothered me.  Did they bother other readers?  Whether or not they did, I knew I was having more and more problems with this book because it bothered me.  I had put my character, the one who was driving the whole book, into a situation I couldn't imagine her actually getting herself into.  It made no sense to me the author; how could I even begin to make it make sense to a reader?

    Over the weekend I found an answer, or at least a possible answer.  As with the other stalled novel, this one would require more work.  I'm not sure how much work, or where the changes will need to be made.  Will I have to go back into those existing 50,000 words and make major modifications?  It's been months since I've read it all the way through and I know there are details I've forgotten.  Will they fit in this new "fix" I've sort of come up with?

    The truth is, I've allowed myself to be distracted far too much.  I've forgotten how difficult writing is.  I wanted it to be easy.

    In fact, writing has always been easy for me.  That's not to say the easy writing is always good writing, but I've always been able to do it.  

    What's hard is turning off the distractions.  What's hard is sitting down and facing the next blank line, the next sentence, the next paragraph, without worrying whether some reader is going to like it or not.  What's hard is turning of my internal editor who has the rejection slip already in her hand and just needs my own SASE to send it back to me.

    Today is Tuesday.  I'm catching up on some other work while I mentally play with these two plot improvement projects.  Tomorrow I have another grocery shopping expedition on the schedule, with the follow-up of putting the groceries away.  Overall, it will take up my entire morning.  Another list of chores faces me related to the upcoming art show season.  My first scheduled show is less than ten weeks away.

    The arts and crafts stuff is part of this.  It's a distraction in and of itself, but it's also a source of income, which I need.  There's a necessary balance to be achieved, and frankly, I haven't found it yet.  That's another task for the next couple of days as I think this all through.

    I've been in this position before.  There's always a desire to write, and plenty of workable ideas to which to apply that desire, but the distractions and emotional obstacles stand in the way.  Self doubt is a big one, and maybe having these two plots worked out – at least for now – will help erase some of that doubt.  I've never had an abundance of self-confidence, and it gets pummeled pretty regularly.  Even a light-hearted Twitter query about "Did you ever have someone who had more confidence in yourself than you did, and how did it affect you?" can feel like a dagger to the heart.  No, I never had anyone who had more confidence in me than I did.  Never.  And I never really had much confidence in myself to begin with.

    It's hard to push past that, and yet I've done it in the past.  I know it can be done.  I know I can do it.  I just have to do it.            

    Therefore, I've given myself the rest of this week to put all these other issues in order and out of the way.  There will still be work to be done for the art shows, but that's an ongoing effort.  The other stuff needs to be set aside, so I can focus on the writing.

    There were elements of my four-day weekend that were enough of a vacation to give me the opportunity to think out the problems of these two books and clarify potential fixes.  As I continue to think these through, my job is also to make -- make, not find -- the time to do the writing.  That means to stop making excuses, stop finding excuses.
     
    I think we get a warm feeling inside at the thought of everyone having a mentor, a supporter, someone who makes each of us somehow rise above whatever is holding us back so we can achieve our dreams.  The sad truth is that most of us don't have that someone.  Most of us don't achieve our dreams.  Many of us don't achieve those dreams because we're waiting for that bit of support or encouragement.  But I wonder just how many successes out there are attributable to raw, ugly, solo determination.  I'm taking that for my model.
     

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review 2018-07-31 00:11
great book and great characters
The Sheikh's Island Fling - Leslie North

Sheikh Rehaj bin Haik Al Nazari went to Amour Island and and he knew he made the three mistakes of his life. . The second mistake was letting his troublesome sisters talking him into going there. A place meant for lovers definitely not him. Still Rehaj had promised his sisters he would give the place a chance and he was a man of his word, a get it done kind of man. Rejah dealt with much of the tedious paperwork from the ground up required. This island had a fourteen day long “Love Rehab” session. On this island all technology was banned. Rehaj was private in his professional life but even more so in his personal life. The longest Rehaj had been in a relationship since he was seventeen was six months. Before him was a blonde woman begging to be allowed to use her cell phone one last time but she was denied by the staff. Then he seen the woman run out sobbing . He followed her as he could never stand seeing a damsel in distress. Anastacia/Ani knew she was being dramatic . But she felt like her whole world was leaving on a jet plane and she had missed the plane. Ani felt too exposed, to vulnerable, too on edge to convey the slick professional easy breezy confidence that was expected from the daughter of such a prominent family and ex girlfriend of a Titan -Marcus- of the business world. Ani had wanted to call her sister Gwen who could usually calm Ani down. Eight months ago Ani boyfriend had traded her in for a younger woman. Then a few days ago Marcus’s new marriage had v=been splashed across the tabloids and his new wife was barely legal and a budding supermodel. He had been ten years older than Ani. Ani had met Marcus when she was seventeen. They had meant working together at a mission’s clinic in Africa for her family’s charity. She had been a senior in HS and hung on to Marcus’s every word. Then two years later they met again. Then two years later they met again when Ani was in college and Marcus was there to speak to the MBA graduates. Now he treated Ani as an adult and wined and dined her and three weeks later Marcus was her first and only lover. Nine years they were together. Ani had turned a blind eye to his philandering and lies. Rajah asked Ani what her name was and Ani told him and asked what his was. Then Rahaj she would show Rahaj she would show him where his villa was as she had been on the island for two hours so she knew her way then it turns out she is next store to Rahaj. Ari liked helping people it always ,made her feel better. She had practically grown up helping her mother. Ari came to the island to forget - forget her past with her mother and the horrific break up with Marcus.Ani was to forget all jer problems and just concentrate on herself for once. Rahaj knew loss with the loss of his father and at seventeen when he loved Ayesha and planned his future with her then she was gone-dead and he felt it was his fault and never forgot that. Ari was to be Rahaj partner as they were the only single people left on the island although at dinner one evening the staff came to ask if they wanted to try other partners that were in a more open relationship they both said no and Ani was getting upset so Rahaj stood and kissed and then deepened the kiss when she responded to him. Ani wasn’t really Rehaj type of woman was one who knew the score and didn’t mind disappearing at the first whiff of media coverage. Ani wasn’t looking for a relationship and neither was Rahaj. Rahaj went out on his balcony and the waves of the ocean soothed him. For the first time he wasn’t thinking about his next cabinet meeting or his big proposal - to lead his brothers cabinet advisors  or the new rules and stimpy motions that his brother’s cabinet should be releasing at any time. Ani and Rahaj have dinner on the beach and got a little drunk- Rahaj never drank and Ani rarely did but the desert had a lot of alcohol in it and it was delicious. Ani and Rahaj became lovers that night.

I loved this book. Leslie North has done it again with another excellent book involving sheikhs I loved Rahaj and Ani together they so needed each other and didn’t know it at first. I also loved the way they interacted with each other. I loved that Ani helpede Rahaj relax and with his speeches. I loved the pace and plot. I loved how Rajah was able to help Ani with her confidence. It was a easy fun romantic read. I advise you to read the other books in this series it just makes everything click. I happily could find nothing to criticize in this book as usual when reading one of Leslie North’s novels. I loved the characters and the ins and outs of this book and I highly recommend.

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review 2018-07-14 18:36
Review: Savage Island
Savage Island (Red Eye) - Bryony Pearce

Review: Savage Island

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This started out pretty good. A fairly interesting premise, it's a UK based horror novel - a group of teens enter a contest where the prize is one million pounds - each. The group will be whisked off to a reclusive billionaire's private island for some sort of survival contest where there will be a number of tasks to complete and other teams to compete against. Last team standing who complete all the tasks win the prize. Sounds pretty good, right?

 

If however, you're a horror movie fan like me and have seen more horror films than you can count or remember red flags should be going off immediately and the obvious question that should be on anyone's brain - what's the catch here? There has to be something that's going to go hideously wrong very quickly. 

 

The characters are pretty ordinary teens, told from the point of view of Ben who lives with his younger brother Will and their divorced mum, pretty girl Lizzie, Ben's long time crush, and friends, Lizzie's BFF mouthy Carmen and smart guy Grady. There's something uncomfortable right off with Will, told in flashbacks - he's got some personality problems and is very manipulative, and cruel especially when he doesn't get his way. Ben's a people pleaser. The peace maker. Will manages to convince them to bring him along. He's very smart and resourceful and could be useful. Despite his sociopathic behaviour issues. Or I'm guessing all part of said personality disorder. 

 

For a horror novel it's not scary in the slightest, (but that could be a personal feeling really as I may be rather jaded from having seen so many movies and read a fair amount of Stephen King which seems to be the yard stick I measure horror against). And while the novel was pretty silly there was something in the narrative that was enough to make me as a reader keep going to want to know what the point of it all was. To be fair it did manage to be pretty tense.

 

When the kids get to the island there's a list of tasks to complete, a riddle to be solved and a tithe to be paid before getting the instructions to the next point. The first team to clear the checkpoints, pay all the tithes and get to the final checkpoint by a certain time is the winter. The first tithe is a little gross, and if that's the first...how bad are the rest going to be? And what about the other teams competing? How far are they willing to go to win?

 

It all starts getting pretty despairing as things get more violent and go from bad to worse. It has some pretty eye rolling for fuck's sake moments, the plot manages like I said earlier to at least keep the interest alive. It is quite visually striking - it's very easy to picture what's going on as if it were a movie on the screen. Despite some eye rolling moments, the kids aren't stupid, they're fairly logical regardless of the growing panic and fear the worse the situation gets and the more threats that approach. 

 

Problem was the kids had in my opinion zero personality to make them remotely memorable or likeable, with the exception of Ben and Will. We get flashbacks of their complicated relationship and unpleasant family history. They are the only ones who seem to get some sort of fleshing out. 

 

What really let this novel down for me was the end. It was...stupid. The whole reveal of what was going on and the final body count....was like what the fuck did I waste my time on this for and was really disappointing. 

 

While this is a standalone novel it's part of a group of UK YA horror called Red Eye, and despite the crappy ending, I sort of would recommend it if you like cheesy horror, which is pretty much what I gather the Red Eye series is. Or at least what I'm guessing I will find this series. I have a number of other titles to try in the series. While this title was by no means somethingI I will read again I do look forward to trying the Red Eye series. 

 

The writing did show promise, so I would probably try something else by this author.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Stripes Publishing for approving my request to view the title. 

 

 

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text 2018-07-04 19:12
Secrets of the Island - Linda Hughes

 

The oldest twins of the Sullivan family both enlist to serve in WWII... Harriet as a WAC nurse and Harry in the army, and end up in the same location in northern Africa. Harriet learns Harry has been injured and is being hid the day after she married her childhood sweetheart and Harry's best friend Bill. Her new husband has been injured in battle resulting in a broken leg, but when he learns Harriet is determined to rescue her brother from behind enemy lines from a native's hut, he refuses to allow her to go alone. While enroute to the rescue, they are spotted by Nazis and unbeknownst to them are followed to the hut. While in the hut, a Nazi storms in, kills Bill, wounds Harry even more and rapes (though not described in graphic detail) Harriet. A British spy posing as Nazi makes his appearance at just the right time and saves Harry and Harriet. 
Back in the states, after they return and are battling PTSD (or shell shock as it was known back then), the Sullivan family starts to uncover secrets of their progenitors that they had been unaware of. One shocking secret leads to another, and the Sullivan clan comes to realize that much of what they had thought of their ancestors was wrong. They all realize that those living trying to conceal secrets are not alone, and each generation had its share. 
This is a entertaining read, and those that enjoy historical fiction, mystery, suspense (with some romance thrown in), or unraveling genealogical puzzles would enjoy this. I received this book in exchange for an honest review-- thank you!
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