Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Note on Children's Books

I love reviewing children's books. My kids love that we review them together. They get excited when a new one comes in the mail. They voice their opinions and I share them with my readers. Folks, I DO NOT READ MY KIDS BEDTIME STORIES FROM MY KINDLE. Why? Because it's black and white. Because it's small. Because I can't hold it between the three of us and experience the pictures that go with the story. And because they can't take my Kindle to bed with them and gaze at the pretty pages and remember the story until they drift off to dreamland. So please stop offering review copies of children's stories on Kindle or on PDF. Even if it sounds great, I will automatically delete the request. Sorry. I understand that hard copies cost money. Remember, I'm an author, too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Open for Submissions

Nevermind the Furthermore is again accepting submissions. Please review the guidelines page thoroughly before sending your request.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Confessions of a Wedding Musician Mom by Jennifer McCoy Blaske

I had expected something completely different from this book. I thought I'd just be reading about weddings and piano playing. But Confessions of a Wedding Musician Mom was actually about perusing a dream while juggling the reality of mom life. Any mom can relate to that. I mean, normal moms, not those super moms who have it all under control and their dream career to boot.

At times I thought the author had been peeking into my life. I have two kinda small kids. The main character Heather has two kinda small kids. I agonize over taking my kids in public. Heather agonizes over taking her kids in public--with good reason. The experiences Heather has in this story mirror my own and probably those of most moms.

As she chases her dream of playing piano for happy brides, things go less than smoothly. Things go wrong. She wants to give up. Jennifer McCoy Blaske's novel isn't predictable at all. I was 80% into the book and still had no clue how it would end.  Because it was real.

Confessions of a Wedding Musician Mom is a fast read. It's only 142 pages and is fast-paced. Because the last book I read was long and heavy, I appreciated the lightness of this one. I'm looking forward to reading books from this author in the future. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Coming Soon: Favorites of 2016

Since we're coming up on the end of the year (yes we are, don't deny it) I've begun to compile a list of my favorite reads of 2016. If you've enjoyed one of the books I've reviewed I'd love to see your comments here. Honorable mentions will be those books that my audience loved but didn't make my list. These don't need to be books published in 2016, just books read in 2016. So comment comment comment and help me end the year with some great book recommendations.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Savaged Lands by Lana Kortchik

Savaged Lands is a story of a family whose lives have been overturned with the invasion of Kiev by the Nazis. Natasha struggles to survive and finds help from a handsome Hungarian soldier.

I'm not usually drawn to sad stories. This one was very sad. I wondered through the whole book if the family would survive and if the story would have a happy ending. If you enjoy tear-jerking drama, I recommend Savaged Lands. It's also a great lesson in the history of WWI as it drops you into the middle of the human experience.

I had one major issue with the writing. In two chapters the tense suddenly shifted from past tense to present tense. Both chapters were sex scenes which makes me believe that this shift was intentional, but it pulled me out of the story. Also, sometimes authors feel they need to add erotic scenes to sell to an adult market. Here it was unnecessary and felt forced, especially with the change in tense.

Still, Savaged Lands impacted me emotionally. Yes, it was heartbreaking, but it also showed me the importance of the war and defending the freedoms of others.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Making Michael by Mike Smallcombe

Making Michael takes readers into the studio with the King of Pop, charting the creation of record-breaking albums including Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory, and the twists and turns that occurred along the way. Untold stories, revelations and secrets finally see the light of day as Jackson's career outside the studio is also examined, including his Hollywood dreams, life at Neverland and those mysterious, ill-fated preparations for the final tour, This Is It. Supported by the people who shared the journey with him, Making Michael takes readers behind the scenes, revealing Jackson at his best; and at his worst, relentlessly pursuing perfection and displaying a cutthroat shrewdness and competitiveness few knew existed.

Author Mike Smallcombe spent five years researching and interviewing to bring readers a look inside the music and videos that Michael Jackson created. Making Michael paints a story of each artistic endeavor from start to finish. It's a great read for those interested in the creative process of music, but doesn't go into much technical detail.

If you're hoping for a biography of the King of Pop, this isn't it. Smallcombe briefly mentions Michael's legal troubles and personal life, but for the most part he focuses on his career. I appreciated that about this book. There's no sensationalism here or tabloid-style writing.

That being said, Making Michael can be very tedious if you're expecting a story to be told. I enjoyed the anecdotes about Michael's playful behavior in the studio and especially every account of what a terrible driver he was. But those were sprinkled conservatively throughout the book. However, being that I have a performance background, I did appreciate the meticulous detail with which the author described the creative process.

Making Michael is definitely a book that any true Michael fan should have in their library.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Next Happiest Place on Earth by Greg Triggs

Frances is a divorced New Yorker looking for a new start. Without telling her ex-husband she takes a job in Orlando in the creative department of a fictitious theme park that rivals Walt Disney World.

I was happy to again find a story with character I could relate to. Frances is in her late thirties, childless, and divorced. And although I'm not under forty, not childless, and not divorced, I could still relate to her view of the world. Her cynical attitude made me laugh out loud, especially against the backdrop of the colorfully saturated tourist trap into which she's landed.

"I suppose on some level I knew that magicians marry, but I never expected to encounter the spouse of one."

The story was vivid from the beginning. Triggs' description of Planet Binger and its residents pulled me in immediately. The contrast of Frances to her surroundings was obvious but not forced. 

I did, however, feel that the story slowed down in the middle. The romance between Frances and her coworker lacked tension and there seemed to be a few more characters than there needed to be. I lost track of a few. 

But overall I felt that The Next Happiest Place on Earth was a good way to finish up my summer reading. It's a light and fun book which I recommend to anyone who's had to put on a brave face in a strange land. 

Thanks again to Greg Triggs for the lovely paperback as well as the postcards (one for me, one for a friend).