Friday, April 17, 2020

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 17 + April PAD Challenge 2020 Day 17: Sedoka For a Lost World


visitors to Earth
long after life had vanished
found many exotic things
tomes filled with strange glyphs
would they ever decipher
the meaning of our lost words?

~cie~



Check out the Ornery Book Emporium for reviews of strange tomes you may enjoy, plus the occasional rant.

Also check out this exotic tome filled with ornery glyphs for your reading pleasure. It's free to borrow on Kindle Unlimited, or own it for just 99 cents!


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Wordy Thursday: Ornery Reviews: Project Tau

Project Tau
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: Three of four stars for Online Book Club and four of five stars for Amazon
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes. This review is a duplicate of my review on Amazon. This post contains affiliate links. If readers make a purchase through the links provided, I will earn a small commission from Amazon.
The author did an excellent job creating the personalities of the main characters, Tau and Kata. I really appreciated the bond they formed as they helped each other cope with the terrible conditions at the lab where they were imprisoned and experimented on.
The book touches on important topics such as the ethics of cloning and the dehumanizing treatment people inflict on those they consider inferior.
The only reason I didn't give the book five stars was because I felt that other than the Trendellian security chief, Samara, the female characters were two-dimensional. The male characters were much better developed.
Homecoming by Jude Austin
I am already reading the second book in the series, Homecoming. I couldn't wait to find out what was next for Kata and Tau after the shocking culmination of the first book.
Cheers,
Your ornery Aunt Cie
Cross-posting to:
Content copyright 2020 by Cara Hartley

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Wordy Thursday: Ornery Book Reviews: The Lovely Bones



Genre:
Mystery

Rating:
Five out of Five Stars for Goodreads

Disclosure
If readers purchase a copy of the book using the above link, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. The following is a duplicate of my review for Goodreads.

I really enjoyed this touching and powerful book. I appreciated the author's ability to connect the reader with Susie, the victim of a horrific crime committed by a very evil man. I enjoyed experiencing Susie's thoughts from her vantage point in the afterlife. I also appreciated the fact that the author discussed the ways in such a devastating incident disrupts the family of the victim. I simply can't think of much to say without giving away things that the reader should discover for themselves, so I'll keep it brief. Read this book (or listen, as I did.) It is an amazing experience.

The following questions are from the Insecure Writers Support Group Book Club discussion of this book.

1. The main character, Suzie Salmon, is killed in the first chapter. The author, Alice Sebold, has very little time to build Suzie as a character and get readers to connect to her.

QUESTION: Did you feel a connection to Suzie in Chapter One? What helped to create that connection?

I liked Susie from the beginning. She was an ordinary girl. Personally, that's one of my favorite protagonists: simply an ordinary girl trying to get through life.

2. Have you ever written a story in the point-of-view of a ghost/spirit?

If yes, what technique did you use? (How did you handle not being able to use certain senses such as touch and smell, and was your character able to interact with other characters?)

I primarily write paranormal/science fiction hybrids, so I write about ghosts quite a bit. My ghosts can see, touch, and smell things but have trouble interacting with the living unless they encounter someone who is sensitive to their presence.

3. The story jumps from character to character a lot and includes a lot of flashbacks. Did this detract from or increase your enjoyment of the overall story?

I thought the author did a great job of this and it added richness to the story.

4. What did you think of the description of Suzie’s Heaven?

I liked the realism of it, although I think it would suck to be there. I request a different heaven!

5. Overall, people love this book or they hate it. Where do you stand?

I liked this book very much and recommend it highly. It gets the Ornery Seal of Approval!


Ornery Owl
Image copyright Open Clipart Vectors on Pixabay







Monday, March 30, 2020

IWSG Book Club: Questions for Chill Factor


Disclosure: If readers purchase a copy of the book through the above link, I receive a small commission from Amazon. I really wasn't a fan of this book, and I don't recommend it. I gave it two out of five stars. But you're welcome to check it out if you like.


1. In the opening of Chill Factor, I love the way Sandra Brown begins with setting, weaving in character activity and then details to create this uncertainty when we meet Ben Tierney. He is out in the open air of snowy mountains with a shovel where there are four unmarked graves. Then, as it continues, his thoughts detail the event and mystery of the graves, as he finds his way back to his vehicle. The introduction of the character, setting, and mystery are powerful. It makes you quickly flip the page to find out what happens next.

QUESTION: The first chapter ends in uncertainty. At that point, did you think Ben Tierney was a hero or a killer?

I thought there was a fair likelihood that Ben was a killer (or one of a group of killers) at that point.

2. In the second chapter, Brown is in the female POV and she reveals the thoughts of the ex-husband in such a subtle way through the female's thought summary that you almost feel like you are hearing his thoughts, not hers. It’s so seamless it feels like you are in the room with them.

QUESTION: How do you handle deep point of view between characters?

I don't think I really give it much thought. If it works well, then it's a good technique.


3. A. Which characters did you like the most in Chill Factor? Why?

I liked Scott the best. He seemed like he was trying to do the best he could with a horrible situation.

B. Which characters did you like the least in Chill Factor? Why?

I thought every male character except for Scott was awful. Dutch and Wes were both abusive. Ben was passive-aggressive. William was a nasty little weasel.

4. Throughout Chill Factor, we’re not positive if Ben is a good guy or a bad guy. Have you ever put your readers on this roller coaster ride, tricking them into thinking a good character might be bad, or vice versa? And what techniques did you use?

I've written characters who were somewhat ambiguous. I never start out with any particular technique in mind. My characters are pushy jerks who write themselves.

5. As a fellow asthma sufferer, it was nice to see that as part of the heroine's character development and nicer to see that it didn't stop her from being depicted as strong. Too often asthma and allergy sufferers are portrayed as weak.

QUESTIONS: What other characteristics often make a character seem weak? What other characters have overcome weaknesses to be portrayed as strong?

I really don't feel that Lilly was a strong character. The line about her "not wanting to play the feminist card" made me say "oh boy, here we go" early on in the book. I have asthma, and I found it rather insulting that the author used Lilly's condition as a plot point to make her "need" Ben.

I was not a fan of this one. My review is here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Wordy Thursday + Ornery Reviews: Chill Factor



Genre: 
Romantic Suspense

Rating:
Two of Five Stars for Goodreads and Audible

Disclosure:
This is a duplicate of my review of this product on Goodreads.
If readers purchase a copy of the book through the above link, I make a small commission from Amazon. The book isn't so bad that I refuse to link to it, it just was not my cup of tea. If you like tawdry thrillers, you might enjoy it.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and if I had taken a shot every time I found myself blurting out "oh, for Chuck's sake," (what I actually said rhymed with Chuck) or "ew," I would have been unconscious on the couch oozing alcohol out of my pores. 

It became clear pretty early in the game that this book was not going to be high on my list of favorites. Every one of the male characters aside from Scott, the eighteen-year-old high school senior and long-suffering son of the school's abusive athletic director, was odious. Ben was a passive-aggressive mysterious hunk. Dutch was a macho cop with anger issues. Wes was a military wannabe and an abusive husband and father. William, the pharmacist, was a creepy little weasel.  

These characters sound interesting, but they were tropes. From the moment that Lilly decides that she "shouldn't play the feminist card," I knew it was going to be one of THOSE books where the "strong, independent" female character learns that she needs a man to complete her. Most of the story's sex scenes were cringy because I can't stand it when women give in to passive-aggressive macho men. 

I finished listening to the book because I was curious who the killer was, and I have to admit, it was someone I didn't expect. Still, the ending seemed forced. Overall, I was not impressed.


Ornery Owl
Free use image from Open Clipart Vectors on Pixabay

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Wordy Thursday: Opaque



Genre: 
Young Adult/Paranormal Romance/Sci-Fi

Rating: 
Three out of Four stars for Online Book Club, 
Three out of Five stars for Amazon

Disclosure:
If readers purchase a copy of this book through the above link, I will earn a small commission from Amazon.
This review is a duplicate of my Amazon review for this book.
I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes.

Read my exclusive Online Book Club review for this book here.

This story has a fascinating premise and compelling characters. Adam is a young man who is unaware that he has superhuman abilities until Carly comes to his school and teaches him the truth about himself. Adam initially presents as potentially being a sociopath and certain of his actions and their consequences (or lack thereof) are the reasons why I question whether this book should be categorized as a young adult novel although the protagonists are teenagers.

Adam experiences romantic attraction to his mother. Although the author avoids graphic detail, incestuous fantasies are a rather taboo subject, perhaps best left in adult fiction. At one point, Adam's disturbing behavior leads to the death of a young woman and he suffers no real consequences for his actions. I found this plot device unsettling.

The book suffers to a degree from The Twilight Problem. "You can redeem the bad boy" is a terrible message to be imparting to young girls. Carly, Adam's love interest, is so concerned with saving Adam that she ignores his abusive and violent actions. For a female character to be completely wrapped up in saving a significant other who presents a danger to her sends a dangerous and frankly sexist message. I am frustrated by stories which present female characters only as foils and helpmates to badly behaved males.

Further, I was appalled by the frequent references to Carly's apparently ample yet shapely buttocks and to the scene describing her stripping down to her underclothes. I found it unsettling to be reading a voyeuristic description of a teenage girl undressing.

I nearly stopped reading this book when the author made the unfortunate decision to use a psychological condition as an adjective to describe certain of Adam's behaviors that Carly found irritating.

"She sighs at his bipolar actions.”

The author is using the term "bipolar" to mean mercurial or changeable, and this is an utterly offensive thing to do. Individuals who live with bipolar disorder are as varied in their behaviors as those who do not have this condition. I am 55 years old and have type 2 bipolar disorder. I do not tend to present as mercurial or changeable and, in fact, I tend to present as staid and sedate. What people do not see below the surface is the fact that I am constantly fighting against low self-esteem and suicide ideation. The battles of me and others with this serious psychiatric condition should not be reduced to an adjective describing undesirable behavior on the part of a character in a novel. To do so is extremely dismissive and insulting. I would hope that no-one would ever say something like "she sighs at his cancer actions" to describe the behaviors of a person who is weak and tired. Why in the world would anyone think it's okay to do this sort of thing regarding psychiatric conditions?

Although I found the characters compelling, to a degree I also found them two-dimensional. Adam's father was the only character who wasn't Hollywood-pretty.


If the reader can overlook these faults, they will likely be drawn into the story. It is probably okay for older teens to read this book, but I would advise against giving it to anyone under sixteen.



Image copyright Open Clipart Vectors



Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Suspending Literary Services


Howdy Solks...I mean Folks.

Due to recent changes in my health, including my cognition, I have opted to suspend my literary services except for those I do for Online Book Club. I make a small amount of money working with them. It was a grand total of about $5000 last year, but it's better than nothing.

Diabetes is a garbage disease. Just when you think it's done fucking you up, it will fuck you up some more. 

My guess would be that my time on this scuzzy ball of dirt will be terminated by something relating to diabetes unless I decide it isn't worth it to keep fighting the tide and decide to punch my own ticket.

That being said, I want to spend the remaining time I may have to work on my own writing and helping my son prepare for the time when I won't be around to assist him anymore, which may be sooner than I have anticipated. I worry about this because although there are some things he does very well, he will not do well being completely on his own.

If I still believed in God, I would bargain with the fucker. But from what I have seen, if he exists, he enjoys being a dick. So I'm not even going to include him in the loop.

I am not in a great place psychologically and haven't been for a while. 

No unsolicited advice, please. Like the kid in the picture above says, I really don't believe that chewing seaweed covered in whale urine while standing on my head and reciting ancient mantras backward is going to lead to my diabetes going into remission, my thyroid healing itself, my hair reversing its grayness, and me suddenly being converted from a hideous old fat hag with a face that could destroy worlds to a Conventionally Attractive Hot Supermodel of a Socially Acceptable Size as drooling dudebros literally beat down my door to get a piece of this. I fucking wouldn't want that shit even if I could have it for the asking.

Okay, I would take the diabetes reversal and the thyroid healing. As for the appearance stuff, fuck you if you really think I'm less worthy of being treated with common courtesy because I'm not young, thin, and pretty, and the dudebros banging on my door sounds like something out of one of my nightmares.

I'm kind of thinking it would be better if I put the kibosh on comments for this post because I really don't have it in me to deal with that shit. If I want to interact with you regarding these thoughts, you already have my email address.

So...yeah. Now you know what's going on with me, for what it's worth.