Monday, February 28, 2011

The Demon King Review

It's been a long time since I've been able to get lost amid the pages of a good story.  I mean get really immersed where everything around disappears and the mind escapes into the land of fantasy.  No television, no dishes, no laundry, no bills, no work, no responsibilities or chores.  Just the adventure that explodes in the mind, meeting new characters, caring about what happens to them, feeling for them and hoping for the best. 

Well, thanks to Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series, I've been able to do just that.  It's not like I needed an escape.  Actually, it came at an inopportune time, but at a much loved and cherished one anyway. 

The first book of this series, The Demon King, is excellently written and follows the journey of two reluctant heroes.  Hans Alister - a streetrat, vagabond and a marked man with no hopes for a future and nothing of a past to cling, except for a mystery, an unknown inheritance and a secret that changes everything. Then there's the princess heir-Reisa  whose future is already mapped, enslaved as a political pawn in the fight for power, until her path crosses with a childhood friend and a villaneous streetrat. 

I loved it.  I devoured every ounce of  imagination.  I can't wait to continue the story in The Exiled Queen. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray
Author of The Blood of Cain

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cheap Cabernet Review

This was a hard book to read for me. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. After reading the first few chapters, I felt like Cathie Beck had been peeking into my life. When the story progressed to where we meet Diane and Cathie starts to notice the first signs of Multiple Sclerosis, I had to put the book down. Not because it was disturbing, but because it reminded me of things I've long chosen to forget.

I so tried to keep my editorial eyes open while I read this memoir,looking for pacing, story structure, fludity, etc. Instead I found a catalyst that threw so many things I have chosen to stash away right back into the forefront of my mind. This story doesn't entertain me, it makes me feel, makes me remember. Maybe not everyone, perhaps not many who haven't went through a lot of the same things or had a friend like Debbie or have known someone with MS, will get the same thing out of it, but it felt like Beck let me have peek into her soul at the time she was sneaking a peek into my own.

I've never read another book like this. I really wouldn't even know how to categorize it. I'm too close, having grown up with a mother with MS, been a teenage mom, a single-parent in my early twenties, and facing my 40th birthday just around the corner having not yet met my Debbie, being and becoming a writer and knowing the true taste of cheap cabernet. Perhaps it's time for my own WOW group to form.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Well-Manicured Murder Review

Every once in a while I go through my 'Chick-Lit' phase, where I want to delve deep into the female psyche and get lost. However, those times are far and few between. You'll never find this gal lost in a hopeless and senseless romance novel, because to me they're all the same. I'm all about action, adventure and imagination.

A Well-Manicured Murder by Georgia Adams gave me a little of both. I love murder mysteries, especially when I don't quite know who the murderer is by the first quarter of the book. This mystery left me questioning until the very end. While the revelation was one of my guesses, I couldn't quite be sure... so it's a win as far as I'm concerned. So, kudos to the brilliant minds of Browning, McColgan and Dunn.

I'm not without my bias. I know 1/3 of the trio that make up the Georgia Adams persona, Mrs. Joann Dunn, she's a member of my writers group and it's my love for the work she's shared in the club that led me to desire to want to read this book, and I'm glad I did.

If you love down-home, good southern humor, with a dash of mystery, you'll love A Well-Manicured Murder.

I can't wait to dive into the next installment of the LitChix Mysteries in Killer Condo.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Friday, February 04, 2011

I Am Number Four Review

"While the beginning of this book was fantastic, full of intrigue, curiosity and excitment, the ending left me wanting a little more. My heart soared through the first ten chapters, thinking 'finally, something with some backbone', to losing me short...moreWhile the beginning of this book was fantastic, full of intrigue, curiosity and excitment, the ending left me wanting a little more. My heart soared through the first ten chapters, thinking 'finally, something with some backbone', to losing me shortly thereafter. Not that anything in particular was bad, but I really felt like the 'integrity' of the story was bulldozed over in the name of 'commercialization'. A diconnect happened, pulling me to the outside of the story, instead of having me inside on the battle field fighting right along side John. I can't quite put my finger on it.

The relationship with Sarah was the typical teenage obsession, all about how she made him FEEL, and vice versa. Love isn't only about feelings. The development of the relationship started off at a great pace, then about half-way through it shifted gears into an unbelievable level of devotion and extereme understanding. Where were the real 'human' moments of shock, disbelief, question, fear. It's human nature to protect ourselves when we're afraid, but here you have a character instantly throw caution and everything she's known all her life to the wind... because she kissed a boy and liked it?

Then we have the relationship with Sam. This too started off at a great pace, and had a nice twist with the whole gun incident, but then everything after that.... got lost. In fact... Sam got lost for a whole chapter that covered practically a whole season. Then, suddenly he pops back on the scene, a big battle ensues (which John doesn't even give him a second thought through the whole thing) which he shows up at the end to help save the day, to making a decision to take off on the road with two aliens. Just a week before he couldn't tell his mom "no" when it came to visiting his aunt, but now he's ready to take on the world?

Don't even get me started on the whole Mark relationship. The guy is a bully, plain and simple... then all of sudden he turns into a knight in shining armour because John saved his two dogs? A bully isn't a bully for no reason. There's usually a deep-seeded reason, and that reason doesn't disappear with one incident and change his whole NATURE. Transformation of character takes time. But, even that isn't what bothers me. There are some obvious BIG plot holes when it comes to this character. #1 - why was a video sent to him, and who sent it? Why HIM. #2 - WHY on Earth would he take and 'confront' Henri and John about it? He was afraid of John after the Halloween incident. In fact, so afraid he couldn't even give him the party invitation on his own. He miraculously stops "bullying" John after getting his butt kicked once. I'm sorry, but that's just unbelievable.

However, with these obvious flaws, the story still held my attention, still had me pulling for it. I just can't for the life of me figure out WHY the paradigmn shift happened. It seems like one person started writing the story, and another person who's only read the outline, finished it. It's like some of the best elements of the story were taken out and the worst elements were added to ADD certain 'commercialized' elements to sell movie tickets was added at the expense of the true story. A story shouldn't be written to sell a movie... it should be written so well that one is inspired to desire it's film adaptation.

I'd still recommend this movie. I gave it to my 20-year old son, and he loved it. Felt something was missing, but still loved it. I'm sure lots of teenage girls will love it too.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray