Book Review: Athena by Heather B. Moore

I should feel proud of myself, I read almost half of Athena in a day. It also took me a couple weeks to get to that spot in the book, but that’s besides the point, I’m sure. Of course, my reading habits aren’t why you’re here today. So let’s get down to business.


When I heard about the Newport Ladies Book Club, I was excited for the authors (as I consider them author friends) to have such an awesome project get picked up. As the authors spoke about it, I thought it’d be a great series to get my wife. When Heather asked for reviewers, I jumped at the chance. Then I realized that between my wife and I, I had the stronger internet presence and it’d be better for me to review them. Still, my wife got books I wanted to get her. I, on the other hand, wasn’t prepared to actually enjoy the series.

Athena is the fourth book in the side-by-side storytelling concerning the Newport Ladies Book Club (since all four novels take place over the same time period). The thing I liked about the series was that I could connect to each of the four characters. No, I’m not a woman, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share a connection.

With Athena, I think I shared the most. Ten years ago, I lost my mom to cancer. It wasn’t exactly unexpected. But I see some parallels in my life to Athena’s. Athena’s mother was the glue that held her family together, in a similar fashion, so was mine. Athena gave up some things in life to take care of her ailing father. I, on the other hand, left my mission early to go home and help out my father. (There were other factors, but this is the relevant one.) Athena also never took care of herself. Sure, she enjoyed her job and had her workouts, but she didn’t have anything else in her life. And that’s not exactly a complete parallel, but there have been plenty of times in my life when I’ve ignored my own needs in favor of someone else’s. Not recognizing my needs has caused me a lot of unnecessary grief until  I finally see what’s missing and how to fulfill that need.

Now, out of the four books, there have been a few supporting characters. Up until this book, Olivia’s older natural daughter was my favorite and most interesting. But Grey, Athena’s…uh…boyfriend?…sure…boyfriend because my favorite supporting character. A lot of guys dislike the sensitive guy in…well…anything. (I maintain that Edward Cullen is by far the most unreal guy in fiction.) Grey was a very sensitive character. However, he has a past that is delved into pretty decently in this book. Of course, I’d actually like to see a book about Grey.

So, this is a possible SPOILER!!!!!! so if you don’t want to read any, go ahead and jump down to the “END SPOILER” point. Also, I’m writing the potential spoiler in italics to offset it easily for readers.
Athena learns a little about Grey’s past. His father left his family when he was younger and his mother checked out of reality. Grey blamed his mother for what she did. And Grey apparently hated life enough to have attempted to slit his wrists in order to leave this world. Grey is very embittered with his mother throughout the book.

Grey also dated “project” women (for lack of a better term) as a way to cope with his mother’s “checked out” status. But when he met Athena, he found someone who was different. She was a “project” in her own right, but a different project.

Athena was quite bothered by how much Grey disliked (and even distrusted) his own mother. Which I found ironic because while she was alive, Athena really wanted her mother to but out of her life more. It was only after Carmen died, that Athena appreciated her mother’s presence. This was another parallel for me. Having lost my mother, I appreciated her more and projected that appreciation onto others. I even got put in my place once by a friend who had a strained relationship with her mother. It was less than a year after my mom died and she was complaining about her mother. I tried to express how she should be more appreciative of her mother. This friend reminded me how her mother and my mother weren’t the same person. My friend’s definition of “mother” was different than mine.

Something that interested me about Athena was that she played both the damsel in distress and the heroic chick toward Grey. He saved her time and again (in an emotional way) and when mention of Grey’s past is brought up, she goes into this protector mode. Almost as if she wished she could go back to the past and protect Grey from his mother’s depression.

END SPOILER

I liked that Grey was human. In Olivia, her husband is only a jerk because he feels betrayed and is trying to hide what betrayals he’s faced. In Daisy, her husband was just selfish (enough said there). In Paige, she found Mr. Really-Good-And-Still-True, but she chose the other “men” in her life (her innocent sons). In Athena, she has a man that is human. That expresses his pain and sadness and anger and past, something that isn’t “macho”. Of course, I think men in generally need to be better at stating who they are and not what society dictates “should” be shared. In modern western society, it seems that men aren’t supposed to have feelings, aren’t supposed to have emotional pains. And I’m glad Heather Moore wrote a character that broke that stereotype.

So, in the end, I really did like Athena. It was very well written in my opinion. I’m glad I got the opportunity to review this series thanks to Heather’s offer.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

 

Book Review: Paige by Annette Lyon

First, before I get to the review, please note the website address for my blog. Some still use the old one.

Second, I hope to blog here more often. But until then you can read my posts on MormonGeeks or LDSWritersBlogck. Of course, I’ve not been the most active at either.

Third, I feel I owe an apology to two people. The first is Heather Moore. I had agreed to review Paige, put it off, and ended up forgetting about it all together. For that, I wish to publicly apologize to her. And second, to Annette Lyon. I mean, it is her book and out of the four authors of The Newport Ladies Book Club, she is the one I am closest friends with. Hopefully she’ll accept my apology and the fact that I am always ranting and raving about how awesome Chocolate Never Faileth is. (Seriously, that’s a book I’m hoping that will have a sequel.)

Fourth, oh yes, this is a review.

After having read Olivia, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the character of Paige. I saw her as this mousy little girl who was a stereotypical late-20s Mormon mom. But then I read Daisy and saw her stand up for herself against a very pissed off Daisy and thought “This chick just got a lot cooler.” So I was much more excited to read Paige, looking forward to her viewpoint of that face off.

Paige is the story of a recently divorced mom who doesn’t trust men. The more I read Paige, the more I kept thinking “Hey lady, get it through your thick skull that not all men are jerks!” Then, I hoped she’d realize that it was trusting herself that she needed.

My wife really connected with Paige’s character because she fears some tragic accident where I die and she’s left to be a single mom raising our kids. And when she mentioned that, I realized how I’ve had those fears. No, there’s no way I’d ever be a single mom. But it isn’t impossible for me to be a single dad. And I just gotta say, that’d suck.

For me, there are a few themes in Paige. The first is priorities. She reminds me of Rachel’s mom from FRIENDS, who said “I went from my parents’ house, to the sorority house, to my husband’s house.” Paige has only had her one boyfriend, who she married and divorced. She doesn’t know anything else about relationships, it seems. And I feel that it is quite interesting as there are a lot of people out there who only have one relationship and don’t know what it’s like to breakup with someone or even be without a companion.

The other theme I saw was placing value on friendship. Paige gives the air of having no real friends prior to this story. I don’t mean to say that cruelly, but rather, she just never placed an importance on friendship. My opinion is she had casual friends. She’s not an unlikable person, she just never put much effort to her friends. The thing that kind of bugged me was that she recently moved back to California. And by the way it sounds, she was there less than three years previously. Why did she not have any friends from before? She was active LDS and had no one in her old ward to whom she could turn? There aren’t married student wards in Southern California like there are in Utah. In her defense, of course, she was doing her best to avoid her old life and anything that reminded her of her ex. But again, she wasn’t unlikable. Just a plot point I had an issue with, but didn’t really detract from the story.

All in all, I did like Paige. I felt like she had a good story about gaining personal strength. And I definitely enjoyed the “she’s got young kids” comments made toward Nick Jr, PBS, and chicken nuggets.

I give Paige four out of five chocolate brownies.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

 

Book Review: Daisy by Josis S. Kilpack

One of the things about the Newport Ladies Club is it removes the cliche “The woman is always right.” Yeah, both Olivia and Daisy have “the man is wrong” in them. I like the fact that we have imperfect women and, more than anything, it’s okay they’re imperfect.

Is it bad to want to scream at a character and ask “What on Earth is your problem?” or “Grow up, Moron!”? No? Okay, cause I wanted to do that with Daisy. The thing about Daisy that was a little disappointing is I already knew what was happening to her having read Olivia. Was that a major problem having some things spoiled for me? I gotta say, in a way it was. On the same token, knowing all the negative things that would happen to Daisy made me wonder how she reacted to them.

The thing that made me really enjoy the story was Daisy’s bff-like relationship with Paige. In reading Olivia, I judged Paige to be this mousy, spineless little girl. In reading Daisy, I learned I was grossly mistaken. Let me just state, I wanted to yell “Go Paige!” for one of her acts.

One thing we know about Daisy early on is she has two daughters, one of which is about to have a child of her own. Now, this is a sem-spoiler alert. Daisy has man issues in the book (but not romance book man issues, thank goodness). Regardless, if I had written this book with these characters, I would have had Daisy end up with her ex-husband, Jared. Sorry Daisy (or Josi), but that man is an unsung hero.

If I were to rate it on a scale of 5, I give it a rating of “Three failed relationships”. (Yes, that’s a 3 for those who don’t understand that comment and/or its humor. I found it funny.)

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Visit Me and Banana Split

I finished Josi Kilpack’s Banana Split! Why am I so excited? Because my goal for reading 10 books this year is 20% done. Yay!!!!!!! I’ll be reviewing it here in a moment.

First an announcement:

So, you know how this blog is so awesome? You know how you sit there every time you read a post from me and think “I wish T.J. would write some more”? Well, guess what, my goal of blogging more in 2012 has suddenly hit reality because I’m on blogging for two more sites right now.

I’ve been given the opportunity to write once a week on the LDS Writers Blogck website. This is an awesome group of authors with great thoughts and insights to be shared. You can read my first post here.

I’m a little more excited about this 2nd one. I was asked to join some friends of mine at a blog called Mormon Geeks. These are some of my closest friends and I’m so excited to have joined their boat shortly after it left shore . . . yeah . . . that was kind of an odd metaphor. Anyway, the blog started a few weeks ago and I joined it this past week with two awesome posts, if I do say so myself. Gotta say, though, the other posts on the blog are friggin’ awesome, also. So if you like anything in the sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, steampunk, gaming (video or non-), etc, then I think this site is worthy of some attention. Also, there are some friggin’ awesome points made in some of the points.

Okay, I can talk about that site more another time, or just check it out. Now, on to my review.

Most importantly, look at that cover! Seriously, have you gone to any site that shows all of Josi’s Sadie Hoffmiller books? (There’s a link above that’ll take you to Josi’s site where you can see the 7 delicious covers.) These covers are awesome! They are perfect for the target market. I know I’m an accountant, but I recognize good branding and marketing too. This screams of “cozy mystery” and not in any bad cliche. If my wife really liked cozy mysteries, then just looking at this cover would tell me I need to buy it for her.

While Banana Split wasn’t my favorite book ever written, it was actually good enough to make me want to read the rest of the series. If you are unaware, Banana Split is the 7th book in a series and more interestingly, it is the 1st I’ve actually read. (To be honest books 1 and 2 are on my bookshelf. There’s just something about receiving a brand new book and having to read it and ignore the stuff I already own. That’s ADHD for ya-squirrel!)

So, should I start for likes or dislikes? I’m gonna guess that Josi will probably read this review at some point, so I’ll start with dislikes. 🙂

It was a little long for me. Personally, I could have lived without a few things here and there. What? I don’t know exactly, I’d have to reread the book to find them. I also really didn’t like that every time I read the book, I kept wanting to eat something (especially desserts).

Something that kinda bothered me was how it felt like 2 stories in one and the one really had nothing to do with the other. I felt like I ate a little too much red herring to enjoy the salmon feast. (FYI, I hate seafood, but it was the best way to describe this.)

The word nerd / grammar Nazi guru in me did catch a few errors. I don’t know why I notice these more and more than I used to. Maybe it’s reading one too many posts by Annette Lyon. It honestly makes me feel arrogant and prideful. Nonetheless, they were there. One thing I learned from Lisa Mangum at LTUE is the difficulty it is for an editor to find these errors. And in all honesty, most of them would have been easy to miss, in my opinion.

Yeah, enough hashing out on the negatives…if you call them that.

Something I really liked was how quick the chapters went by. I wasn’t stuck in the middle of something when I had to put the book down to help my pregnant wife or one of our children (again, helping my pregnant wife). I’m sorry, but I really love short chapters. Now, if each page was a new chapter, I’d be annoyed. I don’t like them that short.

If I were to tagline what you’re about to read for Banana Split, I’d say “flow your way through a Hawaiian mystery with Sadie Hoffmiller.” Her writing was very smooth. I can actually read another Sadie Hoffmiller book. But, more than likely, my next book to read by Josi will be Daisy, the 2nd published book in the Newport Ladies Book Club series. And until I get to review that and anything in between…

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Book Review: Olivia by Julie Wright

I received a free copy of Olivia by Julie Wright to review. But in nowise does that affect my opinion of the book or my review of it.

First, this is definitely a book written for women. More than likely, I would not have picked it up…well…except to buy it for my wife. It also helped that it is written by Julie, who is awesome if you did not know. But honestly, I liked the book. I didn’t have to force myself to read it. I didn’t have to use toothpicks to keep my eyes open.

Second, I actually really liked the theme I found in Olivia, which (to me) was revolved around independence. Olivia is a woman who has seemingly done what everyone (especially her husband) wanted her to do. She didn’t ever do anything for herself. She didn’t stand up for herself.

The character had lost her mother years earlier and still grieved at the loss of a mother’s compassion. In my opinion, her problem was she hadn’t found a way to replace that loss with anything in her life other than mundane tasks that were fulfilling the needs of others’ but not fulfilling her own needs. I don’t really see anything wrong with doing what you can to help others. But I do see something the matter in not taking care of yourself.

Something that struck me as interesting was the relationship with her husband. At the onset of the book, it is already strained. But as much as I said “I don’t blame her”, in a way, I didn’t blame him either. It was nice to read something where the strain in the relationship wasn’t just the man’s fault (because you know, all men are pigs). And it was nice to see her realize how some things really were her fault.

Something I really enjoyed about Olivia is that it’s the first in the Newport Ladies Book Club and the invested reader will get the opportunity to see the lives of four different women. And I look forward to reading about Daisy, Paige, and Athena throughout the year.

And as always,

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Awesomesauce!

I know, you’re saying “Wow, T.J.’s posted a blog.” Amazing, right?

Actually, I have a goal to post once a week this year. So far, I’ve failed. But I’m starting now.

So, I’ve been using the term “awesomesauce” quite a bit over the past couple of years. The main reason for that is the awesome author Elana Johnson! She is made of awesomesauce, if you didn’t know.

Speaking of…well…anyway….here’s something random that Elana is letting me show you and then talk about. Prepare to see something awesome! Ready…okay…here it is:

 

 

 

 

Now, you’re probably thinking “What’s up with the new cover?” Really, I don’t know. Something about publishers and all that blah, blah, blah that I ignore until someone says “We’d like to offer to buy your book, print it, and sell it, and let you tell the whole friggin’ world about it in shameless self-promotions.”

Well, I was asked to give my opinion about the new cover. To be honest, I much preferred the sparkly white one that’s sitting in my bookcase at home yelling at me to be read. (At least my wife read it.) I think I would like this cover better if the color transition of the top half of the book was the only transition. But then the color gets darker and I just don’t like that pseudo-purple. Still, I love the trapped butterfly. Such symbolism in that picture.

But…guess what. I’m not done sharing pictures. Nope. Here’s another one to share from the awesome person known as Elana Johnson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, now we have this pretty green that turns into a sea-color. Kinda still like the concept if they’d just use the lighter colors. Just think the big transition is taking away from the hummingbird in a jar.

Now, here’s my OCD. Ready. I will probably buy book 2. But I’m not happy about it because it doesn’t match my book 1. I like my items to match (but rarely to have my family match outfits. That makes me want to die. I have limits to my OCD.)

Seriously, we own all 8 seasons of Charmed. For the 5th season on, CBS has their logo on the spine of the dvd box. Grr! So half the show has CBS, half doesn’t. Then we go to the dvds for the Harry Potter movies. 1 through 7.1 are all pretty identical. But they removed the picture from 7.2. It’s not there. There’s nothing. It looks so out of place now. And then there’s The Big Bang Theory. They couldn’t even be consistent from season 1 to season 2. Really? Come on people!

So, now I have the dilemma of rebuying book 1 of a book I still haven’t read, or let my OCD go turn me crazy. (Yeah, you’re probably thinking “Like it hasn’t already?”)

Well, I will one day read all of Poessession. I’ve read the first couple of chapters. ADHD took over and started a different book. That’s usually my problem. So until….squirrel!….sorry….until next time:

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

 

KiTe – Review

So, I don’t do book reviews very often on my site, but I was asked to do a review of this book “KiTe” by Bill Shears. In a new tradition that I’d like to start, I’m going to review the book in a few sections. Today, I’m going with characters, storyline, and voice/grammar. But first, the main gist of it:

KiTe is a story of intrigue and coverup, things coming to life that are supposed to be dormant. With an impending doom concept that threatens Earth, there is also a romantic side with this story. But lets get down to my review. I could bore you to death with plot.

Characters: The main character in KiTe, Mason Dash, fits this roguish stereotype. Kind of the whole “I own my world and I’ve got attitude” idea. I can connect with that because I do own my own arrogance, but beyond that, he was fairly bland. I did like him, but it took some time. Perhaps that was Mr. Shears intent. However, I would have liked a little more depth to Dash. He did have his soft side  when it came to his wife, who I liked a lot better.

Storyline: I think the overall story of KiTe was good. It was just very hard to get used to. Personally, I could’ve lived fine without chapter 1. It just didn’t have anything happen or anything exciting. It was more or less confusing. I don’t mind some confusion in a book, but if I feel lost in the first couple of chapters, I have to force my way through. I also thought it was overdetailed at the beginning. It was a decent et up, but I just wasn’t a fan of it. After that, the story flowed very well.

Voice/Grammar: I’m a grammar guru. I know it’s not the most important thing to a book, but it’s also pleasant when something is written well. And by ‘written well’ I mean the voice. KiTe is in 3rd person with the viewpoints of a few of the main characters. The narration was well done, but very telling. I would’ve liked some more ‘show’ in the story. With that, grammar was very good. I don’t like commas overly used (unless they’re in Facebook posts or blogs, of course). Perhaps it could’ve done with a copy edit, but it wasn’t necessary. I’ve seen professionally published books that I could’ve taken a red pen to.

Overall, on my scale of 1 to 5 I give it a 3.3. It was a decent read, something I’d sit and read on a flight or on a Weekend when I’m bored and feel satisfied.

And, as always,

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.