Dark of the Moon – review

A few weeks ago, I went to the SoKY BookFest.  Here in Kentucky, there aren’t a lot of writerly/readerly things, so I’ve been looking forward to the BookFest for several months.  As soon as I stepped into the huge conference room and saw table after table, stacked with books and attended by the (140) authors, I thought, “Why can’t we do this every month?  Every week?”  After picking up over $60 worth of books, though, I figured out why it would be a bad idea for me for this to happen more frequently.  I wanted every book.  They were all so beautiful and the authors were right there, and they wanted to talk to me and sign their books for me, and I wanted to buy all their books.

I took a break to listen to Henry Winkler speak (yes, the Henry Winkler), get an autographed copy of his book, grab lunch, and then went back in to get $40 worth of more books.  Then I went to a panel where I listened to three ladies discuss their realistic fiction writing techniques (and had an intense break-through moment regarding my own book–thank you, writerly atmosphere of BookFest).  Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope to attend again in the future. 

That brings me to tonight’s book review–

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett.

I was drawn to Author Barrett’s table by the adorable Sherlock Holmes plushie sitting on top of her books.  She writes a series of children’s books called The Sherlock Files in which Sherlock Holmes’ decedents go around and solve his unsolved cases.  But my attention wavered when I saw the cover of Dark of the Moon.  Here recently, I’ve been wanting to read only books written by women, with women as lead characters–that will hopefully pass the Bechdel test–so the feminine eye on the cover drew me to this book.  

I know I’ve heard the story of the Minotaur, but it’s been long enough that I couldn’t tell it to you.  I briefly entertained the idea of looking it up for a quick read before getting into this book, but I was sucked in so fast, I really couldn’t put the book down long enough.  Anyway, I still haven’t looked it up, so I don’t know what parts of the book are directly from the original story and what’s from Author Barrett’s mind, as this is a retelling of the Greek myth. 

The main character is teenage Ariadne, known to her people as She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess.  Her mother (She-Who-Is-Goddess) is her best friend, as other teenagers on the island are afraid of her for her potential power and proximity to Goddess.  Now, her mother is not Goddess.  This was confusing for me.  Ariadne’s mother is She-Who-Is-Goddess, not Goddess.  So.  Yeah.  It does get explained in the book, so I understand now, but it still sounds confusing.

Ariadne is a lonely young woman, with only her mother and her brother to love her.  And her brother is the minotaur, trapped under the palace where he can’t kill everyone mindlessly.  He’s not a monster–he just doesn’t know his own strength and isn’t able to understand most of what is said to him.  Ariadne goes to visit him whenever she gets a chance…

Until one day, a ship arrives, bringing tributes from Athens.  The Athenians don’t know that they should fear She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess, so Ariadne is able to make a few friends out of the pack, including Theseus.  He’s a charming, quiet young man, but with a secret–he aims to kill the monster under the palace.

Ugh, I loved this book.  The writing is wonderful and the characters are sweet.  It passes the Bechdel test over and over again (yay) and the romance parts are very secondary to the bigger plot.  I was pleasantly surprised at how little romance there was, actually.  

The story is told from Ariadne’s POV (first person, past tense) and Theseus’s POV (first person, present tense), which sometimes threw me off but it wasn’t awful.  Ariadne is strong and fierce, while still being kind and scared of her destiny.  She gives me hope that there are plenty of young women characters out there to love.

5/5 GR stars.  I’m very happy to have a signed copy of this book.


My experience with my Kindle, Pebbles.

I have an Amazon Kindle–it’s one of the originals.  It’s all grey-scale, no touch screen, no movies or games (other than Minesweeper, which I LOVE).  The only internet access is to the Amazon book store.  When I don’t turn the internet on, it can go a long time (8+ hours of use) without being charged and it takes almost no time at all to charge up.

My Kindle’s name is Pebbles.  I got it when my mom decided to upgrade to a Kindle Fire and thus didn’t want her old one anymore.

I’ve always loved books.  Animorphs was my original love.  Harry Potter is my forever love.  I enjoy most genres, with the exception of things centering on graphic violence or sex.  I also don’t typically care for the classics (though I have a fair number on Pebbles because they’re free to download).

When I was young, I thought I was a fast reader because I could get through a book in a day and people were really impressed by that.  It wasn’t until a friend of mine and I were reading two copies of the same book on a long bus ride and she got through twice as much as I did that I realized I’m actually a very slow reader who happened to do nothing else.  I’m also not a good reader–I have a lot of trouble with negative contractions, like didn’t, can’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t.  Sometimes I don’t notice the n’t and see them as did, can, should, would.  Other times, I read the positive versions and mentally add the n’t.  I don’t know why, but it has made for lots of very confusing times, while I try to figure out why someone suddenly is asking for help with something they just said they couldn’t do.  I often mix up words, as well.  

Perhaps as a reaction to constantly misreading things, I also reread words, phrases, and lines…at random.  My eyes go over things several times–not every word, just some things.  It’s hard to explain?

For example, I tend to read tend to read things like this.  These are mistakes, I mean to write them like this like this.  These are mistakes, I mean to write them like this. These aren’t mistakes, I mean to write them like this.

No wonder I’m a slow reader.

I love books.  Like many readers, I love books separately, with no mind paid to the stories they tell.  In a room filled with books filled with terrible stories, I would still love being there.  I love book covers, jackets, pages, the ink, the spines.  I want my room to be lined with books. My dream home has a library. 

However.  However.  Pebbles makes reading so much easier for me.

Since Pebbles is so old, it has a Text-to-Speech option they don’t put on the fancier Kindles.  That means I can pop in my headphones, slip Pebbles in my pocket, and listen as it reads books to me in a generic robot voice that has surprisingly good cadence.  It’s absolutely perfect at work, because I can work and “read” at the same time.  And when the story is being read to me, I don’t mix up words or ignore the n’ts or reread a million things.

So, see, I’m torn.  I don’t want to pay for all my books twice, but I want them in two forms: one for the book and one for the story.

Sometimes, I don’t mind paying twice.  I own all the HP books in both forms, as well as The Casual Vacancy (another great thing about Text-to-Speech is it helps so much at getting through boring parts because Pebbles doesn’t get bored and then distracted–it just keeps going and eventually it gets me to a good part, heh.  TCV is great…eventually.  It would have taken me so much longer to get through it without Pebbles).  I want a complete Sherlock Holmes collection in realbook form.  As I may have said in another entry, I want Cinder and its sequels in realbook form once they are all released.

Despite doing most of my book buying on Pebbles now, I would hate for book stores to go away.  I still love walking around in book stores.  They’re beautiful places.  I even kind of got engaged in one.

Anyway, I sometimes feel like I have to defend myself when people see Pebbles.  They get all defensive like I’ve personally called their preferred way of reading “primitive” and they respond by insulting Pebbles and ereaders of all kinds.  So I wanted to post this to give my side of the story.  People with ereaders don’t necessarily hate realbooks or want to see them gone. I love books, just like you.


A Glamorously Unglamorous Life – book review

A Glamorously Unglamorous Life, by Julia Albain. Book 3 of 2013.  

Young Julia Albain packs up and moves to New York!  This is a true story of a year in the life of a writer/actor/director who leaves her friends and family in search of fulfillment and adventure.  Meanwhile, the excitement is really taking place back home, where she and her group of friends are becoming famous, thanks to a Harry Potter parody musical they performed and posted online.  Author Albain gets homesick, struggles with depression and feeling stuck, loneliness, and generally is in need of hugs, which I desperately wanted to give her.

There were some spots where an editor could have helped out this self-published book, but the overall tone was so sweet that I couldn’t bring myself to mind.  I think if I were to move to New York, I would go through a similar experience—the difference is that I’ve never wanted to.  Julia (I call her by her first name sometimes, since I’ve met her, so bluuu on you) thought it was what she wanted, but she grows to hate it there.  It’s sad but a little refreshing to hear from someone who didn’t find everything they ever wanted in NY.  The fact is, not everyone is fulfilled by the same things, and this book is a good example of that.

I do highly recommend this book (I promise it isn’t just because the author is a Starkid).  It’s touching and heartbreaking, with the right dash of optimism.  It’s easy to read and she’s easy to fall in love with.  And there’s the added bonus of helping out a Starkid.

4/5 GR stars.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

Between Mom and Jo – review

Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters.

My first book of 2013!  I got through this in a single night at work, thanks to Text-to-Speech, just under the first-week-of-the-year mark.

Between Mom and Jo is the story of a young boy and his two mothers.  Their lives are pretty normal.  The moms fight with each other, they fight with their son, they laugh and love and embarrass each other.  They lose pets, they fight cancer and alcoholism and homophobia, and Nick feels very awkward when Jo talks to him about sex and relationships.

Erin (“Mom”) is compassionate but impatient, hardworking, strong.  Jo is butch, goofy, flaky, and straight-forward.  When they work well together, they’re adorable—when they clash, it’s cringe-worthy.  Like any married couple, they have their good times and bad.

Nick is a sweet kid.  The first story in the book happens when he’s three years old, and he’s fifteenish when the book ends.  He loves his moms, but for a while resents them for being gay as it gets him teased at school.  He loves animals, especially fish, and has a talent for drawing.

I loved this book.  This is the second book of Author Peters that I’ve read (the first one being Luna, story of a trans* girl, told through the eyes of her little sister) and I don’t expect it to be the last.  The writing isn’t especially eloquent but it’s easy to read and the characters are so lovable.  I especially fell in love with Jo—and the dogs.  Lucky 2 was my favorite. 

Don’t go into this book thinking it will paint lesbians as perfect marriage/parenting material, because it definitely doesn’t.  Their marriage isn’t that healthy, but they know it.  They deal with it.  Overall, no complaints…except when Jo is a bit slut-shamey, but hey, everyone has flaws.

5/5 GR stars.

I’m a little more than half-way through The Bully Book now, so expect a review for that soon

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ