Review: Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It

Facing the Music and Living to Talk About ItFacing the Music and Living to Talk About It by Nick Carter
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

[DISCLAIMER: I won a copy of this book on the Goodreads Giveaways]

I turned 30 this year. It was hard to admit, harder to deal with, and I still don't feel like I'm in my 30's. But one thing I promised myself was, I am not going to spend any more time reading books I don't like, just because I have this masochistic tendency to finish every freaking book I start.

Unfortunately, Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It is one of those books that's going to have to be put down and never picked up again. I wanted to get at least 25% of the way through before I let go, just to give it a fair shot. But that 25% was brutal. This is a disorganized, rambling piece of self-help, and it did not do a darn thing for me. What bothered me even more than the "If I can do it, so can you!" reiteration was that he kept saying things like, "I wish I'd written this book sooner so I could have given it to my sister and maybe she wouldn't have died." I know that he didn't mean it to come across as arrogant, but my goodness did this scream "Her death was all my fault even though it wasn't!" I feel for you Nick, I really do, and I wish your sister had gotten better too, but this book was not going to save her life.

I have always had a huge soft spot for Nick Carter. BSB were my boys. Okay not really. But I always loved them, especially Nick. Nick, you are not a writer. You should keep singing, because as you said in your "strengths" chapter, that's what you do best. I love you! Really! I promise!

As a sidenote: When I entered to win this book in the giveaway, there was next to nothing about it being a self-help book. This book, as I remember it, was marketed as an autobiography with bits of advice for people on how to get through the tough times. As you can clearly see, I'm not the only one who had this impression from the description provided back in September. Now, I don't know if the publisher or Goodreads have changed the description several times since then, but I can tell you that what's up there now ("This book is Nick Carter’s autobiography and self-help hybrid in which he chronicles his struggles with a dysfunctional family and the unimaginable rigors of becoming an internationally successful pop-star at the age of 12.") was not up there when I entered the giveaway. If it had actually been autobiography instead of self-help with a few anecdotes about his childhood and time with BSB, I might have liked this. A suggestion to Goodreads, then: Add a time/date-stamp for edits because it's misleading to put up one description and then change it later with no proof of the old description.

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Book Trailers

Book trailers are starting to show up for even the most indie of books, authors creating them as promotion for something they've self-published, and even the big names are getting into it.  I think the first one I ever saw was on TV, for a James Patterson novel, probably one of the Maximum Ride series.  Then I saw one for either Janet Evanovitch or Nora Roberts (I can't remember because, honestly, I don't really care about them as authors).  Now I'm seeing them online for almost every book that's coming out.

My first thoughts when I saw the one for a Maximum Ride book were, first, what on earth is this, and second, if they wanted to advertise it on video why not just make a movie out of it?  I know, thirty seconds is a lot easier to do than two and a half hours, but I never thought of books as a "visual" media.  By giving a character a face, I felt that it took away all the excitement of trying to picture him/her for yourself.  And yes, I know a lot of books give characters a face with their covers and possibly inside art, but I never found that to be inhibiting, while for some reason the visual on the screen stays with me more.

Some trailers are simply scenery shots, with shadowy figures and other such nonsense, usually the mystery ones.  I can kind of get that, since they don't really show anyone, but again, if I know it's a mystery why do I need to see a trailer to know whether I'm going to like it?

Movie trailers are certainly an interesting and biased media, considering how much I loved the trailers for John Carter and hated the movie (this is not an uncommon occurrence).  I've heard a lot of people even saying that Frozen was marketed completely wrong with the trailers, and it's actually a great movie even though the trailers make it look pretty, well, dumb.  I haven't seen it yet, so I'll reserve judgment.

But if that's the case for movies, how could a book trailer possibly help someone who wants to pick out a book to read?  All it's going to do is tell you the plot, right?  And maybe make it look exciting.  I don't really get it.  To me, there's nothing more a book trailer can do for me that the synopsis can't (unless the synopsis is two sentences long telling me only "You'll love this book because it's a great story about love and blah blah.  And it's a mystery."  I've seen those before and thought it was dumb).  And if I wanted to watch the book, I'd wait for the movie, right?

At this point in my book searching, I don't watch the trailers or pay attention to the photos people post in their reviews of stars they say "are" the characters.  This happens a lot on Goodreads.  I rarely read past the first few lines of a review either, unless I'm specifically looking for a reason (not) to read a book.  The synopsis does it for me (and sometimes - okay, a lot of the time - the cover).  Book trailer?  No thanks.

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman is an author whose works I buy without question. One time I was given a $250 gift card to Barnes & Noble (best day ever) and I used it to beef up my collections of Gaiman, Bradbury and Pratchett. I bought this book as a signed first edition, pre-ordering it months ahead of publication just knowing it was going to be beautiful. And it was.

A lot of the hyped books don't really meet my expectations, and I'm often left disappointed. In this case, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was perfectly marketed, and deserves every award and accolade it has won this year, including the Goodreads Choice Award for Fantasy (and the book which received the most votes overall).

The synopsis on Goodreads pretty much says what the book is about, but it doesn't give you the story. And it's a story only Neil Gaiman could have written. It's mystical and child-like, but through the eyes of an adult who doesn't really know what he's remembering. It's simple and lyrical and wonderfully rich in imagery. The storytelling is masterful. Suffice to say, I loved every moment of it.

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Review: The Forbidden Book

The Forbidden BookThe Forbidden Book by Joscelyn Godwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the Goodreads Giveaway]

Overall, this book was just "okay" for me, but since it wasn't bad I didn't want to just give it two stars, so that's why it gets three.

Minor spoilers after this point.

I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book, but felt that it was trying to go in three different directions, none of which matched up quite as well as it seems the authors had wanted. It's one part mystery - who killed Angela and kidnapped Orsina? - one part mysticism - the Baron's magical powers and those he is trying to pass to Orsina - and one part, well, just plain weird - the Baron's influence over his "students" in getting them to blow up monuments to make it look like the Muslims are behind it. I understand where the authors were trying to go with that last bit, but I really don't think they arrived.

Inspector Ghedina is a fool of a character, Orsina's weak, as is Angela, and Leo is the only one worth much of anything in the grand scheme of things.

The sexual aspect was... well, gross. Again, I get where the authors were going, and I see its relevance to the story, but it kind of grossed me out. Plus the fact that Orsina just (view spoiler) kind of makes me feel like she's vapid and shallow, with no real emotions to speak of other than her love for Leo.

I guess if you were a fan of The DaVinci Code and other such nonsense, this book might appeal to you. I didn't mind it, it wasn't offensive, I just didn't really find it compelling. And there was so much Italian in it that even with translations it was distracting.

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Review: Dance of Thieves by Mary Pearson

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson My rating: 5 of 5 stars I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes. ...