Friday, January 29, 2016

Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith

Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith is one of the books I recently won through Goodreads Giveaways. I was really hoping to win this one, so yay! And it came with the sequel, Backstage, which I will be reviewing in the future.

To start, let me tell you that this is a young adult novel. It's not a novel featuring teenagers that makes you wonder if parents really let their teenagers read this kind of stuff. This book is clean and fun. If my daughter were thirteen, I would let her read Boy Band. There are a couple naughty words, but not nearly as many as are allowed on basic TV these days.

Boy Band is a first person story from the perspective of Mel who travels with a superstar boy band called The Kind of September. Her best friend Sam is in the band and she's also secretly in love with him. The media is constantly spreading rumors about Sam's love life, and Mel isn't totally sure which rumors are true. Not that it matters because she would never, ever tell him how she feels.

I like light reading. This book is very light. It was almost too light for me. But I'm, let's just say, really grown up. If I had read this book in high school I'm pretty sure I would have been obsessed with it. The story takes the reader through every day and every detail of life on the road with the popular boy band. Sometimes it seems like too much detail. But I think that girls would love to get a glimpse into that world, especially those who are prone to swoon over cute pop stars.

This book is a quick read, but it was hard for me to get sucked in because there was very little action and almost no conflict. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. They were all very similar and seemed to have no flaws. Obviously when telling the story of a band there will be multiple characters, but they needed to be more distinct.

Of course, I had no trouble distinguishing the main character and her crush. I wish there had been more tension between them. But toward the end I felt the story picked up pace. It ended on a cliffhanger, and I'm really excited to start on the sequel.

In conclusion, I think Boy Band is a great read for girls thirteen to sixteen who enjoy pop culture. It's a fun book that will leave you wanting more.

Thanks to the author for this signed copy

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why Indie Books?

My mission with this blog is to review mainly self-published and indie books. Why? The obvious answer is because I'm a self-published author. Having tried for over a year to get an agent and having faced numerous rejections claiming my work was "well written, but not what we're looking for", I decided to go it on my own. This lead me to find other self-published works that were great books but, like the agents told me, not what the industry wants right now.

Because the publishing industry is broken. Self-publishing is easier now than it's ever been, and it's harder to distinguish a self-published book from a traditionally-published one. So the good self-published books and e-books are distracting readers from the big publishers.

What are the big publishers looking for? They want the next Harry Potter. They want the next Game of Thrones. They want a sure thing that will spawn sequels and movies and merchandise. They can't afford to take a chance on a quick-read novel. But the authors can.

When we self publish we put our own money into it. We put our time into it. We call all the shots. No one can tell us to add an edgy character or change the location to whatever city is hottest right now. We put everything we have into our project and we know there's a good chance we won't get much back. But it doesn't matter. Because writing is an art. If you wanted to get rich, you picked the wrong profession.

But again, why do I review indie books? Most book review blogs don't. Who can blame them? The self-publishing world is full of amateur attempts and inexperience. But it's also filled with wonderful, undiscovered manuscripts that deserve to be seen. My goal with this blog is to sift out the sand for the readers and find the gold. Readers don't want another book that's "just like Twilight." We want new and fresh. We want the books the big publishers are afraid to take a chance on. I'm not afraid. I'll find those gems and I'll present them here for you. So, stay tuned. I'm going to find you your next favorite book of all time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Off Topic: I Gotta Have This Bag

I'm considering buying a Kindle because I've been reading books on my phone and apparently the screen is shrinking because my eyes are having a hard time seeing the letters anymore. Seriously, don't judge. That brought me to researching Kindle accessories which lead me to believe I need a brand new messenger bag to carry all this stuff and OH MY DOG! If someone could just buy this one for me (in gray) I would forever be grateful. I mean, I could buy it myself, but what's the fun in that? Either way, I think I may be sporting this lovely bag in the future.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

First of all, I know I said I don't do memoirs, but I'm filing this one under Comedy. So don't judge.

Amy Poehler's book Yes Please isn't just another self-indulgent Hollywood memoir about the life and struggles of a big star. It's more like a conversation about this, that, and everything.

I love that the book isn't linear. She doesn't start by telling us where she was born and how she grew up and blah blah blah until she's a beloved and wealthy movie star. She jumps around quite a bit, which was refreshing. It means the reader doesn't know what's coming next. We don't have to fight the urge to skip the awkward adolescence to get to the juicy stuff. She just throws the awkwardness at you at random.

I'm a huge fan of Saturday Night Live. I love it even when it's bombing. Amy does a chapter that is a quick run-down of her time on the show. It's actually the perfect amount of info to sum it up without making us sit through the boring parts.

Amy Poehler is a smart woman. In this book she shares her wisdom with us. We all want to know the secrets of successful women, but most of those women seem out of reach and un-relateable. Amy presents herself here as one of us. She's an average woman who has been lucky in her career and loves her family. In one chapter she pleads with women everywhere to stop hating on each other and to start building each other up. That's very smart.

One of my favorite chapters involved a mock birthing plan to present to the hospital at the birth of her first son. I totally related, especially to the part about her husband accidentally peaking around the curtain and seeing her organs spread on the table. It was one of many parts that made me sit back and say to myself, "We could totally be best friends."

When she talks about her job on a TV show, I feel like she could be talking about my job at an office. She discusses being a working mother and worrying that she isn't spending enough time with her boys but also feeling guilt over wanting to work. Her struggle to balance work and family is just like mine, except that I make, like, two-percent of what she does (give or take. i don't do math).

My absolute favorite quote from Yes Please is this: "Too often we women try to tackle chaos that is not ours to fix." Who knew I would find my new mantra in a book by a woman who played a recurring character with one leg and chronic flatulence?

In conclusion, Yes Please is a great book for all women. Not just that, I think it's an important book for women. We should not be idolizing the plastic women who display their lives on TV. We should be paying attention to women we can relate to instead of trying emulate something out of our reach.

And that's my two cents.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Winners Circle Winners Circle is a good imagining of what would happen if a down-to-earth guy won the lottery. Jerry did just that and all he wants is to get his old life back. Everyone else just wants a piece of what he has.

Jerry is a simple man, often down on his luck, who has loved his wife since they were kids. All he wants is to make her happy. But when he wins the lottery he finds that the two of them have very different ideas of what defines happiness.

There are a few side characters in this book who believe they know what's best for Jerry. Ultimately he spends the whole story trying to win back his wife and not caring at all about his wealth.

I felt that the dialogue was very natural. The writing was well-executed. There were a few chapters that seemed a little side-tracked, but I enjoyed the story. It definitely made me think about how I would handle the same situation (if someone would just give me a chance to try!) 

Welcome to My Review Blog

One thing that I've learned as a self-published author is that reviews are important. They're not just important for those of us who are fully self-promoting, but for authors working with large presses as well. The best way to sell your book is to get people talking about it. This isn't an easy task. One of the ways we writers (say that five times fast!) get reviews is by petitioning book blogs. This is exhausting. It's pretty close to the process of querying agents, and every author knows how much fun that isn't.

Since my book has been published I've discovered the website where readers can go to discover new books and discuss the ones they've read. Goodreads also allows writers and publishers to host their own book giveaways. So far I've hosted two. I've entered about ninety-million. Because I like books and I like winning and I like randomness. I've won three giveaways since October. That's like one a month.

Books I have not paid for in the last few months.
So, I got super off track right then. Anyway, I'm telling you all this because I've decided to add some of my own reviews here on my personal (but public) blog. With the three giveaways I've won and the book I bought on my Kindle app and the Amy Poehler book my sister gave me for Christmas I've got enough to keep me busy for a few months (because add in working two jobs and writing my next book and taking care of my children and getting ready to sell my house).

However, if you've written a book and you're just dying to get it reviewed I'll happily consider your request via email at Please tell me what the book is about, who is your publisher, and how you will get your book to me (hard copy or Kindle). You can see my review guidelines on the "review request" tab above.

Anyway, happy reading, all!