05 April 2014

Metal Heart (Meredith Shayne)

Before I begin this review I want to make it clear that I am friends with the author. Good friends. I have tried very hard to not let that friendship influence my thoughts on Metal Heart, but I feel it best to disclose the friendship and let each of you decide for yourselves whether my review justifies the rating J

Oh, and isn't the cover gorgeous? It totally fits the book IMHO!

Metal Heart is a book of two parts, well...three if you count the prologue. In the prologue we meet the Scott of 2011; we then follow him down memory lane to the 1990s (hereafter referred to as the past) and then back to 2011 (hereafter referred to as the present). I know some people aren’t fans of flashbacks. (Or prologues for that matter.) Going the flashback route was definitely a gamble, but for me it pays off. Without knowing...without living through how Scott and Ash met, how and why they fell in love and what led up to their breakup I don’t feel I would have completely understood where they were coming from in the present. How...reticence and...stuck they were. The flashback is from Scott’s POV, whereas the present has alternating POVs. Another gamble as the reader is left overly sympathetic to Scott, but I thought by not knowing Ash’s POV in the past we were able to learn it alongside Scott in the present. (And I always thought there was far more to the story than what Scott [and I as the reader] knew.)

A number of things worked for me in this book. The first is in the imagery. The author paints an amazingly clear picture of the rock scene in Australia in the 1990s. I could all but smell the cigarettes and stale beer J The second is the characters. Both primary and secondary. In fact, although I adore both Scott and Ash (although I must confess a preference to Scott J), the secondary characters were just as three-dimensional. What is more, they felt organic to the story and not just stuck in as a plot device. Also, it was nice to have one of the primary characters have a positive, long-term relationship with female characters who were not caricatures. And Scott’s relationship with his sister and his niece (and theirs with him) was integral to the character. Thirdly, I loved that fault was on both sides.  And that there wasn’t a ‘you’re cured’ wand wave...that Scott kept in contact with his drug counsellor, that his family worried about his potential for relapse, even 16 years later. That it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Did I think it weird that Scott and Ash had waited so long? 16 years long? Well...no. It actually made sense.  Sometimes things get in the way, you keep waiting for the right moment and then you realize so much time has gone past and you don’t know where to start. So you don’t. And I’m not sure if the people Scott and Ash were in their mid 20s had the...self awareness they did in their early 40s to sort things out.

I loved how the book came full circle in not one, but two ways. Firstly the way the prologue ended was mirrored in a scene near the end of the book, and secondly with regard to the song. And I loved that the ending was, in fact, a beginning...rather than an explicit HEA.

Going back to those amazing secondary characters...do I want Justin’s story? Hell to the yes! I loved that even though he was the ex-boyfriend he wasn’t bitter or twisted; he wanted what was best for Scott. On the plus side, being good friends with the author I can enquire nag her for updates J Which leads me to the author’s writing itself. I was lucky enough to read the author’s first book before it was published and I love how her writing has developed and progressed from that book to this one J

11 March 2014

Library Thing Vs GoodReads Vs BookLikes

When I first ventured online a good friend told me about Library Thing. So I joined. And it was nice, tracking my books, etc. Then the friend moved to GoodReads and told me all about that. So I joined. And...while it was nice, tracking what I was reading, what I loved about GoodReads was the community. Talking about books. Discovering new books. Speculating about forthcoming books (I seriously had as much fun speculating what was coming next in Ginn Hale's The Rifter as I did reading it :) With likeminded people who read what I did. But...IDK. Something has changed on GoodReads over the past several months. The community feels...disjointed. There has been the whole 'we, the administrators, can delete your reviews whenever we like' and the move to it being more about authors and less about readers. And, gradually, the people whose status updates I looked forward to reading seem to have vanished... Don't get me wrong, I love interacting with authors (please refer to The Rifter speculation group comment), but connecting with people who read and enjoy what I do was what kept me at GoodReads....

Which leads me to BookLikes. A number of people who used to be on GoodReads have moved there. (Or back to Library Thing. Or both :) My issue with the latter is I want to be able to discuss books. But more than that, I want to be able to discuss books with my friends. So, I guess what I'm really asking is - where do you go to talk books? Because where you are is where I want to be! (And any pros/cons for your choice would be greatly appreciated :)

04 March 2014

Where's Wally?

For those of you not in the know, the Where's Wally? books are detailed double-page spread illustrations depicting dozens of people doing a variety of things at a given location. The challenge is to find a character named Wally hidden in the group. I was always terrible at finding Wally. And sometimes I wonder if I don't have the same problem with time...

So...it's been almost a  month since my last confession post :) And I must confess that I've drawn up a rough schedule...no laughing...for every day of the week for the unnamed expert and I to go through because I feel like a headless chicken most days and yet nothing seems to get done... And that makes me stressed. Bottom line is, I like boundaries. Actually 'like' seems to subtle a word. I love boundaries. I need boundaries. For...everything. I feel...safe...with boundaries. And that one word, safe, seems to be the linchpin for me. Everything I do (sub)consciously comes down to being safe. I don't think I'll ever not need boundaries, but maybe if I work hard enough I will feel safe and maybe, eventually, a little more able...a little more secure...to go beyond them. Every once in a while :)

No, no question at the end of my post. This time *grin* Just a promise to try and post more this month. I do actually have some posts in mind...I just seem to get overwhelmed with the process, which is ridiculous. Now I'm going blog hopping :)

08 February 2014

When To Read

So I've had a book on my Currently Reading shelf at GoodReads that I have yet to start. Instead, I've been re-reading scenes from various books...a 'whatever takes my fancy' kind of thing. It's not that I don't want to read the book. I do. I think part of the problem is that I consider the author a close friend and I don't want to not like it. Do I think I will not like it? No. My friend is an incredible writer and all of her work that I have read to date I have more than enjoyed. But the thought that this could be the exception has me...not struck dumb so much as struck readerless (or should that be rudderless? *grin*) Plus, I know it's a book with some angst, and I'm kind of wound up ATM (part of the reason while I have been AWOL for the past week)...and I think that is holding me back... And when I'm all anxious I turn to comfort reads, but I have so many books in my unread pile and listed on my To Be Read shelf (which are kind of mutually exclusive) that I feel guilty...

And all of the above has left me stuck re-reading all and sundry...until today when I remembered the words of a very wise close friend, the very lovely rocalisa at Too Many Books, to read what I felt like reading, and to not feel guilty if I chose to not read something and/or finish something. So, I'm going to move the aforementioned book from my Currently Reading Shelf to my To Be Read Shelf and read my comfort read.

So, are there ever times when you plan to read something, but just end up reading something else...

01 February 2014

Irregulars Anthology

So earlier today I finished the Irregulars anthology. Overall I gave it four and a half stars, which is broken down as follows:

Cherries Worth Getting (Nicole Kimberling): I loved the world building and I thought the plot was beyond fascinating. I did feel the writing was more tell than show though and sometimes felt a bit...stilted? Clunky? In places. However, I would definitely like another story (longer) with the two main characters! Four and a half stars.

Green Glass Beads (Josh Lanyon): This novella had the author's typical flow. I wasn't sure how I felt about Archer (the main character whose POV we saw), but every time I was edging towards disliking him the author would tip me the other way with some personal insight that fleshed out his character and explained more about why he was the way he was. We knew less about Rake (the other main character), but that didn't worry me. Overall I thought the author balanced character development and plot well with a limited word count. Four and a half stars.

No Life But This (Astrid Amara): This was mind-blowing! The world-building was incredible - in at times a totally squick way - and I loved the character development, although we had far more about Deven...but he was so interesting. So many layers I wanted to peel off! And I'm with August: the Aztaw are SCARY! (Yes the capitals are necessary!) Seriously, why does this anthology not have a sequel??? Five stars.

Things Unseen and Deadly (Ginn Hale): I must confess that this was my least favourite of the novellas that made up the anthology. I'm a big fan of character development, and while the POV alternated between Jason and Henry I never felt like I had a handle on them, although at times the loneliness of both characters came through. I also found the plot dragged a little. Normally I love the beautiful descriptions Ginn Hale includes - if you haven't read The Rifter rectify that right now! - but in this book I just wanted the plot to move. (I'm probably the only one that felt this way.) Four stars.

20 January 2014

Musical Interlude

Sometimes song lyrics are meaningless ...and sometimes they have so much meaning they can rip you in half. Both of these songs fall into the second category IMHO:

What song(s) has(have) touched you lately?

16 January 2014

The Year That Was

I have been trying to write a post for...weeks...months if I'm honest. I do this thing where I continually second guess what I've written. I always want to change it, make it...better. Which means nothing is every...acceptable...for public consumption. Or private for that matter. So many things just never made it past the drawing board in my head as I'm so petrified of getting it...wrong. Of getting everything wrong. Perfectionism thy name is orannia. So, I'm trying a new tack this year - I'm going to take the advice of Flynn from what is probably my favourite keeper series - Falls Chance Ranch:
Just say it. It doesn't need to come out right first time, we'll straighten it out.
So, here goes. Last year was...hard. I felt...overwhelmed. By family. By everything. And even though I love being online, it was stressful. I like to visit blogs, I like people to know that I've read their posts so I feel like I should comment. On every post. And sometimes there just isn't enough hours in the day. And so I feel guilty. And then when things got very overwhelming being online felt like something I could...let go of for a bit until I'd got everything done that felt a pressing weight. Except days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and I hadn't posted or commented. Or anything.

I want 2014 to be a different year. A better year. If I do nothing else this year I am going to work on controlling my anxiety. With the assistance of the unnamed expert :) But more on that later. I don't want blogging and commenting to get shoved to the side like it did last year. But I don't want to get obsessive about blogging and commenting until it becomes overwhelming. So, all I will say is this - I promise to try and visit. And read your posts. And I promise to try and comment. Not on every post mind, but some :)

So, what do you want from 2014? (It can be something big or something small...something general or something specific.)