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Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I say:“Compelling, intense and important. Heartbreaking, haunting and hopeful.”

“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”

This book is about suicide. How one character reaches the point that she kills herself and how both her death and the message she leaves impact and haunt another character. Jay Asher has written a compelling, intense and important work.

This is a dark novel about a dark subject. Do not take the subject or the book lightly. I recommend this read before my review, for many reasons, and ask whether you read the review or not – Please read the book. Please think about the topic.

Clay Jensen is a good kid. He receives a package of 7 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker.  Hannah was a beautiful, fragile girl and Clay had a crush on her. Hannah killed herself, committed suicide two weeks before.

Hannah’s voices tells Clay, “I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”

On each side of the tape Hannah narrates to the listener her thirteen reasons why she killed herself.  If the person is sent the tapes and his listening to them, they are one of the reasons. This is not a suicide note but an explanation.

Clay is horrified and distraught that he is a reason for her death. He listens to each tape as he walks throughout day and night following Hannah’s own path as she recorded them, a voyeuristic tour of events that created the snowball leading to her suicide.

Clay experiences fear, frustration and guilt as he becomes obsessed wondering what he did, how Hannah came to this point and how could her death have been prevented.

“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own.”

The first reason in the start of Hannah’s downward spiral is the story of how she meets a boy named Justin and her first kiss. New in town her innocent interlude with Justin starts rumors.

Intentional and unintentional acts of others impact Hannah as her ability to cope is fractured and broken. Some of Hannah’s reasons are due to acts of violence, others the impact of having not acted.

The suspense builds even though the reader already knows the ending. The experience of all the missed opportunities and thirteen of the reasons a delicate girl with a tenuous grasp on life both emotionally and mentally.

Everything. . . affects everything.

Told in a unique dual narration that Asher skillfully weaves together both Hannah’s thoughts and actions fueling the escalation of despair, depression and hopelessness along with Clay’s anguish and misery as he listens.

This book is a young adult book and a big part of the message is intended for the young reader. I hope the message is conveyed and understood, as I believe it is, that actions, careless or not impact others.

As an adult I enjoyed, though the term seems strange given the subject) this novel. I thought the book was well written and I highly recommend reading if for no other reason that everyone needs a reminder to be kind and careful. I read the book with obsession, the suspense and grief so gripping I was compelled to read.

It occurs to me that the author at some points fails to show Hannah’s emotional despair and loss of hope. But then when she is recording her tapes she has in fact already made her decision. The last tape is her final grasp for help and hope.

Before I wrote my review, I did research and read other reviews. This book made me cry and devastated me. I know how as survivor of a loved one’s act of suicide.  The issue is important and not to be mistreated.

I do not think the author mistreated the subject in his book. Some negative reviews are justified in the evaluation of the writing. But other negative reviews are written by people that not only did not grasp what the book said and intended, they also failed to understand that suicide is a result of how the person sees their life. That suicide is not just a result of an act of violence or PTSD. Suicide is an emotional and mental crisis.

Suicide is an emotional and mental crisis.

Symptoms of suicide are even mentioned in the book and while not thorough as this is not a text-book, they are accurate. One symptom is asking about, talking about, and even mentioning suicide.  Which Hannah does early in the book. Also, change in character or personality and acting is a risky or destructive manner, again Hannah clearly exhibits these signs.

One reviewer, “It was hard to sympathize with her because it seemed like she created these situations for herself. She willingly made stupid decisions… purposely did them anyway against her better judgment.” This review/reader obviously missed the point of the risky and destructive behavior.

I read a review by a teacher that said yes these type of petty cruel things happen but as some other reviews said (paraphrasing) they do not think these are good enough reasons.  The point is that people are affected differently and their reasons are theirs alone. And we don’t know why or how someone is impacted.

Quotes from the book: “You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”

“But you can’t get away from yourself. You can’t decide not to see yourself anymore. You can’t decide to turn off the noise in your head.”

Suicide is not isolated to young people, though they are the more vulnerable. To learn more and help prevent suicide:

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Unsure about ‘Undead and Unsure’: A Review

Undead and Unsure by Mary Janice Davidson. Book 11 in the Undead Queen Betsy series.

Yes I am Unsure about how to review Undead and Unsure.

I love Queen Betsy, I really do. Along with her yummy man Sinclair. I think the author is witty, talented and has a great agent. Of all the series written by MJD I appreciate the werewolf books and can’t stand her mermaid books, love Betsy books.

In preparation of this release I re-read all ten Betsy books. The read didn’t take long. MJD is funny, snarky and great with internal monologue. The reading is fast and fun, light and enjoyable. Her books are not plot heavy. The stories have a simple plot and are filled in with Betsy’s unique view and thought process.

Undead and Unwed is the introduction to the Betsy series. On her 30th birthday Betsy Taylor loses her job, her party plans are spoiled, gets hit by a car and is killed. She wakes up in the morgue, realizes she is a vampire, tries to kill herself, rescues someone else from killing themselves and goes home.

Her mother and best friend are elated, the local vampire population – not so much. But vampires Eric Sinclair and Tina believe she is the foretold vampire queen because she isn’t burned by a cross and can go to church. They want Betsy to put an end to the reign of Vampire King Nostro, read kill, and rule.

Betsy isn’t having any of it but of course that is exactly what ends up happening. Oh and now Sinclair is her consort for the next 1000 years. Fun.

And book 2 Undead and Unemployed continues the fun. Betsy gets a job selling shoes at the mall. Someone tries to kill her. Sinclair rushes to the rescue because he loves her and Betsy lives on because she is the all-powerful vampire queen.

But her last release, Undead and Unstable used a terrible ‘trope of going back in time and changing the past so the future is what it is, or was. I didn’t and don’t care for this storyline arc.

Undead and Unsure started off (after the now familiar pages of acknowledgements where the author mainly pats herself on the back and add a few pages to the book) with Sinclair talking baby talk -terrible, yucky baby talk- to puppies. Not in character and repellant, that is not our familiar sexy hero.

As in some of the other books another character jumps in and tells the story for a chapter or so. That irritates me. In this case the character is Sinclair which is good and bad if you can get past the earlier baby talk crap.

If I was not a fan I would have stopped reading. The first half of the book is unnecessary internal dialogue to turn a short story into a book. After reading above you may wonder why you should read the book. If you are a fan, plow through because the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the book is worthwhile.

If you haven’t read the books, this is not the place to start. Start with Undead and Unwed and enjoy! The first two books can stand on their own. But don’t jump on the Undead series trolley in the middle of the series.

Remember, I love Queen Betsy and the series but don’t start here, this is a bit of challenge to wade through to get to the good stuff even for a fan.

For a complete list of Queen Betsy books click this link: Amazon.com Widgets

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Review: Dead to Me

Dead to Me by Anton Strout.

Simon Canderous has a double edge sword of a talent, psychometry. Psychometry is the unique ability to divine information about the history of an object through touch. Formerly a petty thief Simon answers a cryptic newspaper ad and becomes a new employee for N.Y. City’s Department of Extraordinary Affairs. The D.E.A. is on the side of Good. Our young protagonist takes his new position seriously. He views good versus evil the same as black versus white.

Simon struggles with learning the aspects of a real job, office politics and other-worldly skills. His mentor, Connor, specializes in ghosts and points out a lovely young woman sitting across from them in a coffee shop. Because she has not moved on they interview her trying to determine why she is still here. The ghost has no memories but she says something cryptic about the movie Apocalypse Now. This suddenly makes her a priority case though why is not clear.

As Simon and Connor work to discover information about Irene they stumble across the Sectarian Defense League. The SDL is a cultist rights movement legalized by the city as part of equal rights movement. A kerfuffle ensues and the Mayor’s liaison arranges a meeting between the D.E.A. and the SDL. Simon is sent and meets Jane for dinner. Jane is the personal assistant to the evil Faisal Bane, chairman of the SDL. Simon is attracted to Jane but conflicted because she works on the side of darkness. Simon’s investigation leads him zombies, ghost sniffing drug addicts and other forces of darkness.

Dead to Me is light urban fantasy. Fans of the Dresden Files will in all likelihood enjoy this book. Author Strout has four Simon Canderous books published to date, obviously the series had potential. But this book is a bit uneven, the characters under-developed and the action come across as a series of confrontations from an outline. The humor in the book seems thrown arbitrarily. I am not saying it isn’t funny rather the characters aren’t funny.

Examples: “Are you implying you had someone murdered? The Mayor’s Office does not condone that sort of conflict resolution.” And

“A lot of people who have come to work for us over the years have come to us from …. shall we say suspect backgrounds. Involvement with the dark arts, telemarketing and worse.”

The first chapters of the book introduce the reader to Simon and his motivations. The writing could have been tighter. The book came out in 2008 and I started to read it but wasn’t engaged. It sat in my TBR pile for 5 years. Simon is a likeable, hot-headed but good intentioned, 24-year-old man. The secondary characters are interesting. However sometimes the story gets ridiculous. When Simon wants to learn if Jane really a bad guy, he reads her diary. Her diary that she was writing in a chick lit voice when she was on a rooftop spying on him and having been sent to kill him.

I did like reading the book and may give the second book a try. I can’t rate this book a 5 but if you want light urban fantasy this is definitely worth a try.

Product Details
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Ace (February 26, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0441015786
ISBN-13: 978-0441015788

Ratings 1 – 5
• Readability: 3.5
• Likability: 3.5
• Recommended: 3
• Book Club Read: 0
• Author Watch List: 2
• Laugh Meter: 32
• Cry Meter: 0
• Three Word Description: Light Urban Fantasy

Other books by Anton Stout.

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I Love these Products!

Some times a product comes to my attention and I wonder how I ever did without.

Over a decade ago I found GS Hypo Cement. A fantastic product with a syringe precision applicator. I use it for jewelry making usually to expel glue inside a bead but the possibilities are endless. Hypo cement works on glass, plastic, metal, sealed woods and ceramics. I consider this a must have supply. The cap has a thin pin that inserts into the syringe and that has recently become an issue – as I have ‘ahem’ matured I have a very hard time seeing the syringe opening. Now to my FIND.

Behold the 1-step looper.

This tool makes a consistent size wire loop. Better than looping pliers you don’t have to mark the same spot on the pliers. Just place a headpin or wire in the hole on the side and squeeze the plier. The 1 step looper takes some practice to become comfortable using but the reward is the ability to have a round loop made rapidly and easily. Now my connecting loops are identical. Making two loops on either side of a bead is a breeze, Insert the wire, make a loop, slide on a bead and make another loop. Using this tool is so easy, like a daisy the pleasure is in the simplicity.

Another recent find is thread spools or bobbins. I found this product when I decided to make some kumihimo braids to I wanted to use a pattern for a square plate and needed a new one. These bobbins spare irritation by avoiding tangling of threads. Made of flexible plastic and easily opened they come in 3 sizes, 8 bobbins to a bag. I find the 1 7/8″ spools the easiest to work with but other sizes available are 2 1/2″ and 3 1/2″. Again, how was I oblivious to this wonderful tool? I keep buying more because they have made weaving, braiding, kumihimo and macramé more enjoyable.

Extra tip, using a weight when braiding with kumihimo is a great help but the weights are pricey. I have developed an alternative and hope to have available for sale soon.

Have fun and let me know if you have found a great crafting or jewelry making tool.

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Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Sunshine by Robin McKinley.

This book is an enduring read. I have read this so many times I had to buy another book. Even having repeatedly read the book, I never skip certain areas or paragraphs as I do in other re-reads. That speaks to how marvelously written Sunshine is.

The book starts painting the normal world where our heroine and narrator of the book lives. The first line,

“It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn’t that dumb. There hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake in years.”

Rae Seddon nicknamed Sunshine just needs a break from her family. She is the baker for the family coffee shop. She is irritated with the smothering of love and togetherness so she drives out to the lake for a break from everything one night. The author paints an average young woman with normal life when wham the reader learns this is a very different world with the marvelous, last sentence of the chapter.

“And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life. ….. I never heard them coming. Of course you don’t, when they’re vampires.”

Sunshine takes place in a dark alternate version of our world. A world where demons, ‘were’ creatures (werewolves, wererats), vampires and magic are part of everyday life and everyday fears. The book is in first person and Sunshine’s narration is written like a conversation. Reading is like listening to a friend tell you a story. And McKinley has such talent that throughout this conversation she unveils and builds Sunshine’s world and a sophisticated, intricate well-thought plot. The atmosphere is dark, filled with menace, danger and small doses of humor.

Sunshine is kidnapped by vampires and chained to a wall as human livestock for a fellow captive. Her companion is a starving vampire named Constantine. Vampires are terrifying, frightening, smelly and deadly. Captive Constantine is the enemy of Bo, the leader of the vampire gang that captured them. Both Sunshine and Constantine are victims of an evil taunting game only Bo enjoys. Constantine tells Sunshine to remind him she is a rational creature so that Bo does not win the game today, the consequence being Sunshine dies.

Though petrified Sunshine recalls magic taught by her grandmother. And so she frees herself and Constantine. The mutual imprisonment and escape binds the two as partners in an ongoing battle against evil Bo. Neither is accepting of this bond. The relationship that develops is awkward and uncomfortable for both. Constantine is not evil, we come to know he is good and as a reader he becomes an endearing, heroic character. But the quality of menace remains as he is truly other and alien. Constantine becomes an endearing, heroic character.

Sunshine comes to learn more about the people around her and herself. Yes, she steps up to the fight ahead but as a real person. She is not suddenly brave and strong, she is scared and unsure. She is a flawed but always likeable, confused and deals with the trauma of her capture through work and pushing the people she cares about away. She is often bitchy. But she is a consistent narrator through her capture, escape, trauma and coming to terms with circumstances and the new reality forced on her. The meandering path of Sunshine’s thoughts show a very real person and her seemingly superfluous diversions continue to lay the ground work of this world and the story.

The ending of the book is strangely unfinished, quiet and yet remains true to the characters and story. It is a solid ending that is satisfactory and makes you want to cry. And if you are like me you will also want to cry that you have reached the end.

This is my absolute favorite book. Ms. McKinley is an amazing, talented author. Her storytelling and plotting is brilliant. I fear I have not done justice to the book. Sunshine is infused with the magical prose of Robin McKinley. Neil Gaiman said this book is “Pretty much perfect.” He is right.

Product Details:
Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 29, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0142411108 ISBN-13: 978-0142411100
Mass Market Paperback Publisher: Jove (2004)

Ratings 1 – 5
• Readability: 5
• Likability: 5
• Recommended: 5
• Book Club Read: 4
• Author Watch List: 5
• Laugh Meter: 2
• Cry Meter: 1
• Three Word Description: Perfect Urban Fantasy
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Review: Date by Mistake Anthology

Four Short Stories. Anthology connection is all stories take place in a city named Port Calypso and each story has some version of accidental meeting.

Let me say that I enjoy the romance genre. The authors (me included) take their craft seriously and so much of the writing is better than midlist in other genres. And what is better than a happy ending? That said these stories are more R rated category romance than mainstream romance. If you aren’t a romance reader or don’t like to read anything above PG-13 this is not the place to start reading a romance. There are romance books I can recommend to dangle your toes in a new genre just maybe not this anthology. If you want steamy short romance, buy this book. Sometimes lusty sex is what you want to read.

. Entangled Publishing is a fairly new publisher with focused romance market categories. They have lured some best-selling authors into the lineup by focusing on paying authors more than standard book publishers and paying editors a percentage revenue share. An agency model worthy of consideration by writers. Most of the imprints are digital
Mr. Virile and the Girl Next Door – Gwen Hayes The publisher’s website sums up the story nicely: “Seduction is the name of the game when two rival dating advice darlings agree to be romantically linked to boost publicity. But all bets are off when they take the battle of the sexes from the web to the bed!”

Mr. Virile is a blogger advising men how to get the girl for the night. The Girl Next Door is an advice blogger helping woman respect themselves by walking away from the man who won’t commit.

This was my favorite read. Highly readable, sexy and fun. I enjoyed the aside letters to the advice bloggers and the responses interspersed throughout. Ms. Hayes was able to make you care about the characters in this short format, I didn’t feel rushed to the end and it was sexy. Mr. Virile and The Girl Next Door made the book worth buying and reading.

Tycoon Reunion – Candace Havens and Shannon Leigh A development tycoon, Jake Michaels, returns to his hometown and tries to push a project through city council. When meeting with local politicians at a restaurant the hero sees his college girlfriend. Tricked into asking her to join them he realizes he is still in love with her. Annabelle Darlington is on the city’s renewal committee and has opposed the project. Do the two buttheads? Not really. Tycoon Jake wants to get back with Annabelle and will make any changes she suggests. Annabelle, however, thinks he finds her input costly and since he left her years ago, it is a no go.

Havens in a prolific author and has an easy writing style. I have read many stories by Shannon Leigh and she is extremely talented. But, and I hate mentioning this ‘but’ because I know both authors personally and I enjoy what they write and I genuinely like both ladies. Okay, the But. The story felt a bit rushed and like a chapter was missing just before the sex scene. There is nothing wrong with the story, I enjoyed reading Tycoon Reunion so maybe nothing is missing and I just have high expectations of these authors.

Passionate Persuasion – Rosemary Clement-Moore Long lost loves reuniting. Alex Drake was a juvenile frat boy when he dated Kiara Fredricks in college. Now a successful restaurant and bar owner he arranges to be Kiara’s blind date fix up via a mutual friend and email using his middle name. Kiara is appalled by the deception and still bitter about the college break-up while Alex wants to get back together with Kiara. Misunderstandings ensue, the one where he starts to lustfully make out with Kiara in his office is funny because everyone can see them on the security camera. Eventually Alex overcomes both his misguided youth and sex and love reign.

Clement-Moore is a wonderful young adult writer. This short story is solid writing and Clement-Moore’s entrance into adult romance.

Date on the Run – Jill Monroe
From Entangled Publishing website: “When a reporter mistakes a hard-bodied military man for a crime source, she soon finds it’s just as much fun undressing her new bodyguard as it is uncovering her latest case… ”

Juliet Martin is a reporter tired of writing fluff pieces. The hero is Ezra Washington and he needs to rescue the damsel in distress. Juliet is quirky and fun. Ezra is the classic definition of hero. Mistaken identity and some peril thrown in to the romance mix. Monroe is a wonderful writer but this is too much story being forced into a short story format. Date on the Run leaves the reader feeling rushed to conclusion and would have worked better in a longer format of a romantic suspense novel.

Title: Date by Mistake (An Indulgence Anthology) Authors: Candace Havens, Shannon Leigh, Gwen Hayes, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Jill Monroe
Ratings 1 – 5
• Readability: 4
• Likability: 4
• Recommended: to category romance readers 4
• Book Club Read: 0
• Author Watch List: 4
• Laugh Meter: 3
• Cry Meter: 0
• Three Word Description: Steamy Category Romance
Product Details:
File Size: 490 KB
Publisher: Entangled: Indulgence (March 11, 2013)

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