Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This Dark Road to Mercy

This Dark Road to Mercy by: Wiley Cash

Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours. I received a copy for honest review consideration
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a town not far from the Appalachian mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex-minor league baseball player whom they haven't seen in years, suddenly appears and wants to spend more time with them. Unfortunately, Wade has signed away legal rights to his daughters, and the only way he can get Easter and Ruby back is to steal them away in the middle of the night.

Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn't the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.

A second novel is always hard after a breakthrough debut. I love Southern gothic literature and this book looked like a perfect fit for me. Unfortunately, despite the fantastic blurb - and intriguing premise this novel fell flat. I don't mind predictable storylines or unlikeable characters, but the problem comes when I and unable to connect to any of the characters.

I read this book in two short sittings, but I never felt like I really cared about any of the characters in the novel. Easter, Ruby - would they come to a place of peace? I didn't care. 

With Weller, the guardian ad litem, Wiley gives us another chance to be pulled into the narrative but again Weller's character falls flat. There are tragic circumstances regarding his expulsion from the  police force - but again, I couldn't rally up my emotions to care. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be feeling or caring about, but - suffice to say that it just didn't connect for me.




I'm excited to be participating in the tour for Wiley Cash's This Dark Road to Mercy, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here, it runs through 6 November. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Carrie, Carrie, Carrie


As Halloween is upon us and I noticed that the new Carrie film was on Netflix, it only seemed appropriate to do a three way comparison. Since I consider Carrie to be a book/movie that has become a part of our collective cultures, there will be spoilers. But, I'm pretty sure if you haven't read/seen it already... you still already know about it.

Let's just get this out of the way up front. Neither movie holds a candle to the original source novel. King wrote an epistolatory novel that also has flashes of into the first person of a few different characters. See my review. But the characters are well fleshed out and there's just no way that could ever be translated to the screen.  Now that we have that out of the way, let's compare movies.

I lurve the original 1976 film directed by Brian de Palma and with Sissy Spacek in the title role. But last night I finally got around to watching the 2013 version directed by Kimberly Peirce with Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role. (I liked it a lot too!) I think the easiest way  to do this is going to be a side by side comparison.


Carrie


Title character - miscast this and the whole movie is going to be ruined. As I said before I lurve Sissy Spacek's take on this kid, but Mortez brings something different to the character. I think that Spacek's portrayal is more true to the book, but I love the attitude that Mortez brings to the character after she realizes the power that she wields. While Spacek remains the 'deer in the headlights' Carrie throughout the entirety of the film, after discovering her powers and especially after having the pig's blood dumped on her, Mortez starts to kick ass and takes no names.

Verdict: Tie. I just can't choose.


Margaret White

Personally, I think it would have been cool to see Sissy Spacek come back and play the role of Margaret White, but Hollywood and its infinite wisdom did not allow for that. Instead we have Piper Laurie in the 1976 classic and Julianne Moore in Peirce's 2013 version. I loved what Peirce did at the beginning of the 2013 film, seeing Margaret give birth to Carrie, alone, and wanting to kill her because she's such a fanatic nut was frickin' brilliant. We get some of that in the '76 version but it's done through allusion rather than what the audience actually sees.

I also love how Moore is shown in the 2013 version flagellating herself, using her fingernails, or the seam ripper. That being said, Laurie didn't pull punches when trying to portray the totally batshit crazy religious mom.

Verdict: Julianne Moore for taking it up a notch with the self flagellation, even if she seems a wee-bit more approachable than Piper Laurie.


Sue Snell

Maybe it was just the seventies realness that left me unable to really connect with Amy Irving as Sue Snell in the original movie. Or maybe it was because I wanted to punch her in the face. But I felt like Gabriella Wilde came closer than Irving in portraying the character as written in the book. In the book Sue really is sympathetic to Carrie and is haunted by her actions in the infamous locker scene even before the main action goes down.

Verdict: Gabriella Wilde, Class of 2013.


Chris Hargensen
The meanest of the mean girls. I love the feathered hair realness that Nancy Allen brought to the role in '76, but I felt like it was Portia Doubleday brought the true mean-girl/really nasty girl high-school bully to the screen. Two parts masochist, one part scared little girl who counts on Daddy to make it all right. I was disappointed in both versions with the pissing contest that takes place between the principal and Hargensen's lawyer dad over her suspension and loss of prom privileges. In the book the principal has some incredible balls and promises a counter lawsuit under the theory of locos parentis (which I really don't think would have worked, but hey, fiction, right?) on behalf of the treatment Carrie receives from Chris.

This was close one, but I think the iPhone update pushes it over the edge for me.

Verdict: Doubleday, for publishing the 'plug it up' video on YouTube and for generally just looking scary and entitled.

Penultimate Shower Scene
The opening scene to the novel and the movies - this is the scene that sets the tone for the rest of the body of work. While I enjoyed the updates in the 2013 version, I felt like Spacek's performance was rawer and realer than Mortez's performance. I think that Spacek shows a lot more vulnerability that keeps pace with the way that the novel was written. Besides, Mortez is just too damn pretty. On the other hand the cinematography of the original focuses just a little too long to pubescent girls just having and awesome time in the locker-room, which is so far removed from reality I don't even know what to classify it as.

Verdict: 1973's performance was rawer, realer, and does a better job at setting the tone for the movie.



Prom Night
In the 2013 version I really think this is where Carrie begins to come into her own. She kicks ass, take no names and becomes judge, jury, and executioner to her tormentors. We also get to see Sue's pregnancy (she's not a virgin and she gets to live?! What the what?!). Even in the stances the two actresses are taking, you see Mortez owns the power better than Spacek. I like that.

Verdict: Prom Night 2013, foreveah!

Overall Verdict:
Well, obviously the book wins over any movie adaptation. But I think I'm going to have to go out on  a crazy limb and say that I preferred the 2013 reboot to the original film. It felt truer to the book, the characters were less one dimensional, and I'm pretty sure Peirce snuck some subversive feminist messages in there. It's also worth noting that school shootings and mass terror wasn't a thing in 1976, so that made the subject matter of a girl basically blowing up her high school all the more... explosive today?  (Sorry, poor taste.) But Peirce handles the subject matter deftly, and I can't recall a single cringe worthy moment on account of that type of subject matter.

So, Readers, what do you think? Have you read the book? Seen either of the movies? What's your preference? Oo! Has anyone seen the musical?


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spread the Love: Week Thirty Seven



Well, I found out on Friday that I passed the Georgia bar which means that soon I will be a licensed attorney in two states, now just forty eight more to go. :)

I have a big announcement. As you can see I've been hosting this party for thirty seven weeks (straight, except for that one lapse, which couldn't be avoided), at forty weeks I feel like I'll have carried this baby to term and I'm offering up to any other blogger that might want it. It would be totally your own thing (after all I took it over from Rebecca at Love at First Book) and you could change anything or everything that you wanted. It was a great way to get to know many new (and new to me) bloggers (especially when I was newer to the community). It can be a bit time consuming but I'd highly recommend it as something for newer bloggers to get involved in the community - and as far as I know it's the only link-up of its sort out there. Email me if you're interested! 

Last week the most clicked on link was: 




Go get your button!

Your turn! Showcase your favorite post this week!
Would you like a friendly reminder on when 
The Spread the Love Linky Party is going live? Wanna grab some buttons? 


Guidelines
  • Link up your greatest book review, bookish post, or anything tangentially related to books, reading, writing, or blogging that is fabulous this week (or before!) that you want to show to the world!
  • Additionally, please avoid linking up other parties, directly to Etsy shops, and posts that are just to a giveaway. If you have a book review or an author feature or... anything else that happens to have a giveaway as well, that's A-OK.
  • Spread even more love - Click on at least one other link that interests you (and others!) and say something nice! It's a fantastic way to learn about a new blog and see an amazing post that someone is really proud of! We all love nice comments, so this part is important, take a minute and spread the love!
  • By linking up, you are granting the party hosts permission to promote you and and image from your site in a featured post or on social media. Meaning, if I or anyone else thinks that your post is super fabulous, it might get promoted! This is totally a win-win, don't you agree?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Guest Post: Stuck in the Middle

Source: loranger / Foter / CC BY

What writer hasn’t dreamed of being published, selling loads of copies, and maybe even having his or her book made into a movie? One of my friends is doing just that. I’d be jealous if I wasn’t so darn happy for her. Her book, traditionally published, was released in June 2014 and has sold nearly 5,000 copies—an  amazing feat considering those are print copies (she doesn’t yet have an ebook).

And a small-time movie production house is in negotiations with her publisher for the movie rights. She told me not to get excited because even if they buy the rights, they only produce 1 out of 7 scripts they have the rights to. Sorry, can’t help it—I’m excited for her!

On the other end of the spectrum, I know plenty of self-published authors with high-quality books (you wouldn’t even know they’re self-published by the looks of them) who have only sold a handful of copies.

So what do these people have in common? They’re all broke as a joke.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

In this Stealer’s Wheel analogy, I’m not sure who’s the clown and who’s the joker, but I do know there has to be a better way for authors. So much talent, so little money. If you go with a traditional publisher, you might get more visibility for your book but your royalties are so low (typically 7-15%) it’s hard to make a living off of it unless you’re one of the few breakout stars.

And while self-publishers can earn up to 70% in royalties, it doesn’t amount to much unless you sell enough copies.

Trying to make some sense of it all. But I can see that it makes no sense at all.

What the industry needs is a publisher that is small enough to give you the focused attention and marketing your book needs to succeed while not taking all your hard-earned royalties. You don’t need to sell millions; as long as you earn decent royalties, you can make a comfortable living with your books on the midlist.

Light bulb!

That’s exactly what we do at Velvet Morning Press, an indie publishing house I launched with co-founder and fellow author Adria J. Cimino. We’re sick of seeing authors having to work a day job to support a writing career. If you write something great, you should have a shot at success. With Velvet Morning Press, we offer higher royalties than larger publishing houses and stick with you—and your book—to market it to success.


We are currently accepting submissions of finished manuscripts, so if you’ve got one that meets our criteria, send it along! We look forward to being “Stuck in the Middle” with you—we  believe it’s the best place for a new author to be.



I find this almost unbearably exciting, Readers! Both Vicki and Adria are fabulous authors and awesome people to boot! It's almost enough to make me wish I was a writer, who knows maybe I'll spruce up my NaNoWriMo manuscript from last year and throw my hat in the ring. Are you a writer who looks like this might be a good option for you? 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Spread the Love 2.0: Week Thirty Six



Howdy howdy! Did everyone have a great week?! I can't wait to see what you guys have for me! 


Last week the most clicked on link was: 



Becca from I'm Lost in Books announcement on Nonfiction November!

Go get your button!

Your turn! Showcase your favorite post this week!
Would you like a friendly reminder on when 
The Spread the Love Linky Party is going live? Wanna grab some buttons? 


Guidelines
  • Link up your greatest book review, bookish post, or anything tangentially related to books, reading, writing, or blogging that is fabulous this week (or before!) that you want to show to the world!
  • Additionally, please avoid linking up other parties, directly to Etsy shops, and posts that are just to a giveaway. If you have a book review or an author feature or... anything else that happens to have a giveaway as well, that's A-OK.
  • Spread even more love - Click on at least one other link that interests you (and others!) and say something nice! It's a fantastic way to learn about a new blog and see an amazing post that someone is really proud of! We all love nice comments, so this part is important, take a minute and spread the love!
  • By linking up, you are granting the party hosts permission to promote you and and image from your site in a featured post or on social media. Meaning, if I or anyone else thinks that your post is super fabulous, it might get promoted! This is totally a win-win, don't you agree?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Six Degrees of Separation: 1984


Six Degrees of Separation time, y'all! Hosted by the indomitable Annabel and Emma

1984 has been one of my favorite books since I read it... in high school? Middle school? Anyway, it's been forever since I first read it - and I've read it a million (okay maybe five or six) times since. If you're a dystopian writer and haven't read both 1984 and

Brave New World by: A. Huxley (I can never spell his first name right and I'm too lazy to check my spelling right now...) then you're doing it wrong. I love Brave New World (also a dystopia for the woefully unknowing) almost as much as I love 1984. I first read Brave New World my senior year of high school, it was challenging because some chapters were told in an unconventional format. Which leads me to...

Solomon the Peacemaker by: Hunter Welles - also a dystopian novel, but with such a fascinating premise I ABSOLUTELY MUST INSIST THAT YOU READ IT RIGHT NOW. It's also told with an unconventional narrative structure. A 'terrorist' is in police custody and being interrogated, but all the interrogation questions are redacted. The reader must pay careful attention to the answers, in order to glean the questions. It's successful in slowing down speed readers like myself and also leads to more questions. It's a brilliant book, but unfortunately (like many brilliant books) largely ignored. SO! Brilliant books (somewhat) ignored in unconventional formats leads me to...

Dear Committee Members by: Julie Schumacher - an epistolary novel written in the form of correspondence and letters of recommendation from (and a few to) a delightfully curmudgeonly tenured English professor in a completely dysfunctional university. I want to be Jay. Speaking of epistolary novels...

The Divorce Papers by: Susan Rieger - another unique epistolary novel - except that instead of just correspondance from/to the main character we also get statutes and legal memoranda from the same state. As an unemployed attorney I really enjoyed it. There were also legal issues between the divorcing couple in the novel about their kids which brings us to...

The Children Act by: Ian McEwan - (god, how behind on reviews am I?) a family law judge in England is confronted with a suit on whether or not a 17 year old Jehovah's Witness has the right to refuse lifesaving treatment. It's an excellent character driven novel on law, relationships, and hammers home the fact that lawyers and judges are real people too. With feelings. I connect this with...

Steal the North by: Heather Brittain Bergstrom - a coming of age novel set in the background of religious extremism and the need to understand and appreciate other cultures and religions. In this novel it's extreme fundamentalist Christianity needing to understand the Native American 'religion'. This is a beautiful and emotionally difficult book, it's satisfying to see the protagonist shed multiple layers of herself. The beauty of acceptance and diversity in this novel really shine through.


So! From 1984 (also set in 'England' [my favorite country - the real England, not the dystopian one...]) to Steal the North in six easy steps. Do you want to play? I know you do. Here's how:


So, Reader, where do you go from 1984 ? Don't dare tell me you haven't read it! But, it's okay if you haven't... as long as you're not writing dystopian fiction. Check out the other chains. So wildly different and creative! 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Must Read Monday: Station Eleven

Station Eleven by: Emily St. John Mandel

Source: Purchased
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. 



I picked up this book after reading Catherine's review (The Gilmore Guide to Books). I have been a long time enthusiast of apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian novels... dare I say it, before they were cool. So while I find myself a little bored with the massive number of YA books in this genre that carry all too familiar tropes, I always jump on adult novels in the genre (maybe with the noted exception of zombie apocalypse novels). 

This book is beautifully written. It's character driven, which may sound like an odd combination with the apocalyptic setting but St. John Mandel pulls it off beautifully. It's elegant and literary. There are points with action, but it never overtakes the characters or dumbs the book down. I especially enjoyed the shifting perspectives in time, people, and places. It's like a beautifully crafted jigsaw puzzle that you put together in your head, seeing where each character fits.

The characters are well fleshed out and believable (I kept seeing Arthur as Richard Gere, no idea why). There were a few times where a character had been gone for so long from the narrative I had to check myself with a 'wait, who?'. Other than that, this is a fantastic book. 

I highly recommend it to literary fiction lovers, even if they feel 'done' with this particular genre. This book is everything I wanted Lighthouse Island to be, and more. This is not just a genre novel, it's incredibly literary with deeper themes, symbolism and plot devices that could be great for a book club discussion.

For a more spoiler-y professional review that I agree with, pointing out some of the weaknesses of the novel, I direct you to none other than the New York Times.

So, Reader, have you been 'done' with this genre for awhile? Do you have any suggestions for literary novels within this genre for me? I will eat them up.