Monthly Archives:: April 2012

How do YOU Review a Memoir?

April 30, 2012 Discussion 6

Recently, I reviewed a memoir that I really disliked. I do my very best to not attack the author when I review their book, but with memoirs… the main character is the author. Because I disagreed with this main character’s behavior, I also disagreed with the author’s behavior. The author’s feelings were hurt, and they attacked my opinions publicly on a social media network.

It’s very hard to review a memoir, because it is so much more personal to the author than a fictitious story. It takes a lot of courage to publish a story about an important part of your life, because people will rip it apart and judge you. I do admire authors who do that. However, in doing so people will critique their ways. I feel it is my job and responsibility to share my opinions with my readers, who have gotten to know me and my reviews. I do my best to always explain the things I liked in addition to things I did not. Even if I hate a book, I can come up with one or two redeeming qualities for it. Shouldn’t that matter more than my opinion of the author? I mean, if I state that I took a lot away from the book and learned a lot about myself, isn’t that more important than my opinion of what the author chose to do or not do?

So I guess what I’m asking is this: If you receive a memoir or biography, how do you go about reviewing it? Do you critique the writing only, or do you discuss the “characters” (who are real-life people) too? It’s a tricky situation, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. If this has never happened to you, what would you do?


Jolene Perry on her new book "The Night Sky" (Guest Post)

April 19, 2012 Guest Post 2

Title: Night Sky
Author: Jolene Perry
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Tribute Books
Buy It: Amazon
Add It: Goodreads

Girl I’ve loved, girl I’m falling for. Now that they’re both in view, the problem is clear.

After losing Sarah, the friend he’s loved, to some other guy, Jameson meets Sky. Her Native American roots, fluid movements, and need for brutal honesty become addictive fast. This is good. Jameson needs distraction – his dad leaves for another woman, his mom’s walking around like a zombie, and Sarah’s new boyfriend can’t keep his hands off of her.

As he spends time with Sky and learns about her village, her totems, and her friends with drums – she’s way more than distraction. Jameson’s falling for her fast.

But Sky’s need for honesty somehow doesn’t extend to her life story – and Jameson just may need more than his new girl to keep him distracted from the disaster of his senior year.

 

My mom was born in Southeast Alaska, where Sky’s character is from. I feel like I’m saying this a lot, but it almost felt like cheating to use the Tlingit people for Sky’s background because I’ve spent so much time in the area.

I didn’t set out to write this book with a Native American character. I didn’t know Sky was Native until Jameson drove up behind her, and I wanted the girl he met to be opposite of his friend, Sarah. So I made her tall, and gave her nearly black hair, and I thought – hey, what if she was just a tad exotic. I went for a run while I thought about what to do with her – this is how I solve writing stumps – and came up with Sky, who I just adore.

I love reading books about people from diverse backgrounds, and there aren’t nearly enough. Also, I feel like the problem (not that it’s a bad thing) with a lot of books about people from different cultures is that it becomes what the book is about. This book is not about Sky’s heritage. It’s about Jameson. But because Jameson falls for this girl, and her heritage is a huge part of who she is, it became a natural part of the story.

I wish I lived in Southeast Alaska – I think it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth (on the rare times when the sun comes out) and I hope to write more books where the native culture I grew up around is represented.

Thanks SO much for having me on your blog today!!

~ Jolene

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Thanks for stopping by the blog today, Jolene, and for discussing the subject matter of your book a little with us! I also love reading books about people from different backgrounds and cultures, so this one sounds great!
To learn more about The Night Sky, visit this website, where you will find book quotes, interesting facts, and a playlist. Click here to read two book excerpts.

Bookish Finds: Websites for Book Lovers Edition

April 16, 2012 Bookish Finds 5

Bookish-FindsOriginal

Bookish Finds is a feature here at That Artsy Reader Girl, where I highlight awesome bookish things I come across during my exciting life.

Hi everyone! I’m back with more awesome bookish finds! In this edition, I’m focusing on websites for book lovers. I absolutely love finding sites that make book selections easier on me… or that make me love books more… or that make me happy I’m a reader! So here are some Internet gems I’ve found. :) Let me know if you’ve got more places for me to visit!

Books Set In…
This site is awesome, because you can search for books based on where they take place in! So if you want to read a book set in Europe, you just select that continent. Then you can narrow it by country, and even city! I love reading books that take place in the same place I’m vacationing, so this is a very helpful site for me.

Kindlegraph
This site was pretty small when I joined, but it’s growing bigger. The creator thought that e-book readers were getting cheated out of having their books signed, so he created this site! Authors join and list their books on the site. Then we, as readers, can go and click on that book and request an autographed book cover image. The author then writes a little note, and submits it, sending it right to our Kindle! I’ve already gotten one, and it’s pretty fun. :)

What Should I Read Next?
This site’s pretty cool because it helps you make a tricky decision! You just select a book you love, and press enter. The site generates other book titles that readers loved as much as the one you submitted. I’ve found some cool titles this way.

Edelweiss
This is a huge publisher’s catalog where bloggers and other bookish people can go to see upcoming book titles, covers, summaries, etc. You can even request review copies here.

Hot Guys Reading Books
Readers submit pictures of hot men (in every day life) reading books. Many people submit photos of their significant others, but some also snap pictures in secret of men in airports, cafes, etc. The photo commentaries are pretty funny.

The Book Cover Archive
As a graphic designer, I enjoy this huge archive of book covers!

Bookins
From their site: “Bookins is a website where you can easily trade books and more with other readers. Bookins arranges for trades—from you to one member and from a third member back to you, and so on. You never have to contact anyone, waste time, or deal with unpleasantness. You don’t even have to visit the post office. The correct postage for your shipment is provided from the website. You value your time. We know that, and we won’t waste it. If you ever have questions or concerns about a shipment, you can simply let us know. We will resolve the issue quickly and to your satisfaction.” I haven’t tried this, but it might be a fun way to save money on buying books! All you ave to pay is shipping, and you don’t have to go to the post office? Sign me up!

Rated Reads
I also write for this blog. We review the content of the book, and give it a rating based on cleanliness. It’s a great way to find appropriate books for kids and teens, as well as those adults who wish to avoid the smut and/or bad language in books.

Hope you enjoy this list of sites, and check them out! Let me know what you think, and definitely let me know if you’ve found other good places for bookish peeps to visit!


Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble (Mini Book Review)

April 12, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 7 ★★

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble (Mini Book Review)Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Series: Dreaming Anastasia #1
Published by Sourcebooks on September 1, 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 310
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college--until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams...

I love history and legends, and this book sounded very unique and exciting to me. The history of the Romanov family has always intrigued me ever since I watched the animated movie when I was a little girl. Dreaming Anastasia’s storyline is quite strong. It did not live up to its potential, though. I feel like the entire book was building up to an anti-climactic ending. I mean, the book is quite a page-turner but then it just ends. I wasn’t really satisfied. Some of the character relationships had no closure. Yes, there’s a sequel, but you need to be given enough information to want to continue with the next book. I was left confused, but at the same time I had no motivation to stick with the series. It’s for this reason that I just don’t have much to say about it. Haha.

And maybe it’s the graphic designer in me, but I could not stand the font that was used for the text of Anastasia’s letters to her family. My eyes hurt by the end of every letter and I counted the pages to see how long my agony would last. If you’re going to use a script font for 6 pages, at least pick one that’s easy to read. Anyway, this wasn’t for me. And I’m SO sad, because I was really looking forward to an awesome Anastasia retelling. Oh well! 

Have you read any Anastasia/Russian spin-offs that you like? I love the time period and the rich culture and history, but there’s not many books out there that tackle this subject matter.


Top Ten Deceptive Books

April 10, 2012 Top Ten Tuesday 12

TTT

As a blogger, I’ve come across a lot of books I never would have immediately gravitated toward otherwise, whether it be for lack of interest or just lack of publicity for the book. As a result, I’ve come across a lot of books that deceived me for good or bad. Some do not reflect the feel of the cover image, some sound nothing like their book’s summary, and some just sounded like they would be awful/amazing and they ended up being the opposite. I’m here to discuss some of the books that have deceived me.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

From the title, I thought this would be a cheesy book. The cover image made it look like it would be even cheesier. The back cover summary? SCREAMS cheesy. But you know what? Favorite. Book. Ever. Stephanie’s writing was a home run for me, and the writing is darling.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The cover is “meh” and the back cover of the book made me cringe. I was not at all cool with the idea of children killing each other as part of a government sanctioned reality TV show. I had to be pressured by the entire world before I gave it a chance, and again: I loved it.

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
This book is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve run across. The cover is amazing, and the story sounded great! I ended up really hating it, though. Read my review if you’d like to know why.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
It’s even more deceptive now than it had been, because the new cover is terrible in my opinion. But… I was deceived by this book! Right up until its release date, and even months later I had heard nothing about it. Love a disease? That sounded terrible to me! I loved it! Lauren’s writing is amazing, and the story had me going crazy. Definitely a favorite I was not expecting.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

I adore this book, but the cover totally had me skeptical. I mean, the scenery and experiences described in this book are out of this world! Why did they again just slap a girl on the cover and call it good? I can think of so many pretty things that could have been done with that cover.

A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans
The cover is DARLING. The book’s summary sounds light and fluffy and adorable! But seriously. This book was full of boring and swear words. I didn’t even finish it. But that cover? Come on!

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
From the cover, I expected a fluffy romance. This book is dark and covers a lot of sensitive subject matter! I had a hard time getting through it, it upset me so much. I did finish it, and really liked it… but it was hard for me since I was totally not prepared for that.

Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter
Based on the title, I was expecting a cutesy romance involving a Mr- Darcy-like character. I was not expecting the author to make Mr. Darcy come off as such a worthless jerk. I wanted to love Mr. Darcy, but the author was trying to make me hate him.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I’ll admit that I loved this book SO much. But the cover never really caught my eye, and I had not heard much about it at all. It was my very first vampire book. My first paranormal book, actually. Well… my first young adult book too! So it opened my eyes to a new genre, and a whole bunch of other books as a result.

Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
I hate Jacob in Twilight, because he kept trying to steal Bella away. Not cool. So I went into this book with a prejudice against werewolves. I loved Sam. I fell in love with werewolves, and I was not expecting to at all. And I think this was destiny or something, because after seeing Twilight the movie, I am SO a Jacob fan. Haha. Oh, and I had no idea Maggie’s writing was so full of amazing. This book and this author totally blew me away.

So, which books have deceived you, for good or bad? Leave links and I’ll come visit!


Happy Easter from That Artsy Reader Girl!

April 8, 2012 Uncategorized 3

Hi! What are you up to today? Happy Easter to you and your family! I had a little too much fun at JibJab and made a video of my family and I dancing the Jive! Sadly, I can’t embed this, so a screenshot will have to do. From left to right we have my cat Misty, my mom, me, and my little sister. They all wish you a happy Easter as well! One of the many reasons I love Easter is because Spring is SO close! Are you excited for spring? I know I can’t wait to read outside in the sun! Have a wonderful Sunday! (And if you celebrate, what are you doing? After church, we’re having a big dinner and then watching movies as a family.)

The Crystal Princess by Kimberly Norton (Book Review)

April 4, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 7

The Crystal Princess by Kimberly Norton (Book Review)The Crystal Princess by Kimberly Norton
Published by Tate Publishing & Enterprises on February 9, 2010
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 124
Format: Paperback
Source: Won in a giveaway
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1 Stars
Kelly lives the life of a typical teen in the suburbs of Southern California with her football star boyfriend and loyal best friend. It’s her senior year, and she’s looking forward to her eighteenth birthday. But her life totally changes when she’s abducted by her birth family, a family she didn’t even know existed. Meeting her mother and two sisters for the first time is almost too much for her to handle. Kelly learns she is a witch born from a coven of witches with special powers. She’s called back to help her family fight the evil, power-hungry witch, Victoria, and the Wizard Council, who want to destroy all that Kelly’s family holds dear before the Immortality Ceremony, a ceremony that will seal the girls’ fate and powers for all eternity.

To make things even more complicated, Kelly falls in love with an Indian named Max White Bear. But because of a longstanding tradition, their relationship is a hard sell to the chief of the Indian tribe.

With the war between good and evil looming, Kelly must find the strength to harness her magical powers and summon The Crystal Princess inside her.

I was very excited to win this book! The cover is gorgeous, and the story sounded very exciting and unique. I just never really got into the story, though, and I’m so disappointed about it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

*sigh*

1. The sentences did not flow together, but were rather blunt, choppy, and sometimes very short, basic bits of text haphazardly strung together. This occurred throughout the entire book, but the most frustrating times were when the author was describing something to us. I found myself running out of breath while I read. I think this main complaint is actually related to every other complaint of mine, so let me give you a few examples of the writing style.

  • “She opened the door, and out drifted the smell of lilies. The walls were light purple, and the bed was white wrought iron. A handmade quilt lay on the bed as a spread. Two large windows let light in from both sides of the room. Lacy curtains framed the windows. A dresser sat next to the window.”

See? The room sounds like it could be lovely, and I bet if the words and sentence structures were arranged and/or chosen differently, I would have enjoyed reading it and savored the image. Instead, I felt like I was being shoved through the description like a tour guide might rush you from one painting to the next at the Louvre.

  • “Hands and faces appeared in the mirrors. The room began to shake. Moans coming from the spirits filled the air. A crystal ball sat in the center of the table. The black velvet cloth covering the crystal ball flew off. A grey mist filled the crystal ball.”

I can think of so many ways I could have rewritten that passage to make it more flowy, eerie, and exciting. Instead, it is just one detail after another again. I mean, three sentences in a row mention the “crystal ball.” Why not add some commas, some more descriptive words, and less use of the word “the”? The black cloth over the crystal ball is not even mentioned until it “flew off”. How did anyone even know there was a crystal ball there, if it was covered by a black cloth? There’s just no continuity or creativity.

2. There was no real storytelling. The events were like a grocery list, with no real continuity between each event. We flew from one thing to the next, with no explanation or elaboration. I guess this relates to my last complaint: that the sentences did not flow together. First this happened. Then this. Then this. Then we had a seance. By the way, you’re a witch. Then she went to sleep. Then she had a dream. Then she woke up. Then her dog talked to her.

3. We were given no room to imagine. Everything was described to the point where no detail was left for me to fill in on my own.

4. The characters were flat and emotionless. I mean, Kelly did not even mourn the loss of her family! She was just like, “Oh, ok! I have a new family now. Let’s forget my beloved family of 18 years. Who cares that I will never see them again?” Really? There was no depth, no development, no feeling, and no real reason given for me to like any of them. I finished the book not even remembering their names, even though every sentence of dialogue either began or ended with the person’s name the comment was directed at. Once or twice would be fine, but it happens very frequently.

  • Example: “Mrs. May, where’s your TA today?”
    “He had a tribal thing. He’ll be back next week. Did you need to ask him about something?”
    “No, Mrs. May, thanks.”

5. This is the biggest instance of insta-love I’ve ever seen. Nothing develops! One conversation is had, and it’s love.

6. The editing was very poorly done. Paragraph breaks are supposed to happen when one person is done talking, and before another one starts. I kept finding lines of text from two different people in the same paragraph, which was very confusing. It happened all. the. time. And then I’d come across too many paragraph breaks, making it look like two different people were talking, when it was really only one person. Also very confusing. There were also many missing words and punctuation marks (where did all the commas go? Seriously.). I’m wondering if any editing was done at all.

  • Example: “What’s your poison? French toast or pancakes asked Isabella?” < That’s a basic editing mistakeone that should easily be found by a good editor. Maybe spellcheck was all the editing this book received, but Tate Publishing lists 31 employees on their editing staff on their website. So… I’m not sure what happened.

7. Everything was very cliché: séances, spells, protective spells, crystal balls, witches on brooms. I felt like the subject matter lacked creativity, and would have better suited a picture book for young children.

Overall, the idea of the story was ok, but it was poorly executed and poorly presented. The writing seemed very basic, choppy, and juvenilelike a child could have written it. It was also way too big a storyline to be the size of a novella. I’m not sure if there was a page limit, or what, but the entire story was rushed and unbelievable. I also needed my inhaler by the end. It just wasn’t enjoyable to read, and I feel so bad to admit this. I wanted to love it, and I wanted to help this incredibly nice author promote her book. Sadly, I would not recommend it to anyone.


In My Mailbox (#3)

April 1, 2012 Uncategorized 9

In My Mailbox is a really fun meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we get to gush about all the books we received, and share our thoughts on them!

Hi! This is going to be a pretty short video this week, as my book haul was a bit smaller than usual. What I lack in quantity, though, I make up for in quality! I am so excited by what I’ve purchased and received over the last week or so. :)

(Look at that. Somehow, I managed to make this video long anyway! So many stories!)

 

ARC of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, from Michelle at The Passionate Bookworm
ARC of Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, from Brooke at Brooke Reports
Paperback of On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves, and swag from the author!
Kindle copy of I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins-Clark (purchased).

 

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Check out my review of Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. Let me know what you thought of it!
Join in on the awesome conversation about copycat covers, and voice your opinion.
Watch the whimsical bookish video, Oscar 2012 winner for best animated short!

That Artsy Reader Girl just reached over 10,000 page views! *throws confetti in the air* Thank you so much to all my readers for stopping by and joining in on the conversations and book chats. I love getting to know all of you! And as always, thanks to my Twitter followers and Facebook fans. :) I love reading about what’s going on in your lives, and sharing your enthusiasm and excitement for books, as well as life in general. :)