Book Review: Eglantine

When was the last time you grabbed your favourite pillow and pulled out a thick, warm blanket and settled yourself down on the lounge to watch a movie…a good movie? You pulled your feet up under the blanket and snuggled down before pressing the play button. You might have a hot cup of milo or tea sitting on the table beside you and a packet of chips or lollies or popcorn to munch on too. Or perhaps you don’t want the distraction because you’re tired or feeling unwell and you just want to concentrate on the movie. You’ve wanted to watch this movie for a while now.

The opening credits roll up and the movie begins.

The characters seem familiar. Or maybe it’s the setting. You’re not sure. You keep watching. You’re engrossed, but there’s something about the plot that reminds you of…you can’t remember which movie it was, but it reminds you of something and you find that distracting. You continue watching.

Something happens and once again you are reminded of…another movie? The scene seems to be exactly what you’ve seen before, but you can’t remember what happens next – or how this movie ends – so it has to be a rip off of another movie you’ve watched. The movie continues and you burrow further down beneath the warmth of the blanket.

The movie is coming to an end. You have no idea what’s going to happen and then…all of a sudden…you know how the last scene is going to play out. You can remember the last words spoken and you realise that you’ve seen the movie before. What a disappointment!

EglantineThis happened to me while reading Eglantine (Ghost Story) by Catherine Jinks. The first chapter reminded me of another story I thought I had read, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of the story. As I continued to read, I felt a familiarity with the characters and the plot, but had no idea where any of it was going so believed the story was similar to something else I had read. But the last chapter revealed to me that I had in fact read the book before. The last paragraph confirmed it. I felt a little foolish, but I guess we’ve all had this happed to us at some time.

Anyway, Eglantine is a paranormal adventure written for 8 to 12 year olds. As I write for this age group, I like to “research” what’s on the market. Besides, the books are usually enjoyable to read and don’t take up much of my time. Sometimes I like to finish something quickly and this was a nice break from the usual type of story that I read.

I imagine 8 to 12 year olds might find the story a little scary, but the author has written it light heartedly and there isn’t anything to be scared about. The paranormal plot is mixed with facts about anorexia, which I believe is a good way to teach young girls (and boys) about a condition that affects more people than we realise. The author did a good job of combining the two.

Young girls will enjoy this story. It’s the first book in a series.

Book Review: Left Behind

Left BehindThis month I’ve been reading Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (Left Behind #1) by Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I was told, after I purchased the book, that it is a Christian book and immediately thought it would be preachy. So I opened the book and started reading cautiously; ready to throw the book to one side if it started preaching at me. I’m glad to say that it didn’t preach. Yes, there were religious sections in the story, but that was to be expected and the author was careful to slip them in were it was appropriate. And I never felt that the explanations went over the top. They were written clearly and concisely, so they didn’t distract from the story plot in the least.

Basically, the story follows two men left behind after the “rapture”. Rayford’s storyline is religious and, to be honest, I enjoyed this part of the book (which surprised me). Buck’s storyline is political and, not surprisingly (for me), this was the let down of the story. Whilst Buck’s storyline could have been quite interesting, I found it bogged down with the politics and therefore … quite boring. More than once I felt like skipping Buck’s scenes and reading the next section for Rayford. However, knowing religion and politics would surely be combined in the end, I read every scene (reluctantly). And, of course, I was right. Suddenly, the two merged and the pace steadily climbed and there was an exciting race to the all important climax. Once there, the authors quickly brought the book to a close.

I knew Left Behind was the first book in a series but, although there was some closure, I didn’t feel completely satisfied with the end. I feel that all books should leave the reader feeling content, even if the big picture has only just begun. This book failed in that regard.

Do I recommend the book? I feel that if you’re looking for an “end times” story to read, you could probably find better. However, if you want to know what the bible predicts, then this is a good starting point or introduction. I’m not sorry I read the book and I did find it interesting. Yesterday, I was given book two – Tribulation Force – which G found in an op shop and I will read that, but I wouldn’t walk into a bookshop and buy another book in the series. It is not just a story. It is a series which is being used as a medium to introduce people to Christianity. For that reason, I cannot recommend the book or the series. I would feel strange doing so.

Going Potty

It seems the world has slipped into an anxious wait for the seventh, and hopefully final, book in the Potter series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’ve visited a few blogs today which have voiced an opinion on something Potter related. However, two of my regular haunts talked about two things I’d like to comment on here.

No, there are no spoilers to be found in this post…in case you’re wondering.

Alan Baxter asked if there should be more Harry Potter books. His opinion is quoted below:

The best stories are those that do end and leave us wanting more, rather than giving us so much that we become bored and wander off to look out the window.

I agree whole heartedly with this statement. We don’t need to know any more. We don’t need to read about how the story began, ie the prequel, because we already know and we don’t need spin offs telling us the inside story from other character’s point of view or what happens to them afterwards, ie Hermione & Ron.

Whilst I love the Harry Potter stories, I do believe that J K Rowling should listen to her gut and stop at Book 7, as she always planned. However, I think Rowling’s agent and publisher will urge her to write more. They will only be hearing the sound of cash registers collecting more money for them. They will not be thinking of what’s best for the series and that’s why I truly hope that Rowling is strong enough to say no.

The other comment was made by Struggling Writer who asked:

What are the chances I’ll be able to read this book without having the ending spoiled?

This is something I’ve asked myself too. I think the chances are slim, but there’s no harm in hoping that people will be nice enough to clearly mark posts in forums, groups, blogs and websites with a spoiler notice.

Some people plan to read Book 7 before the end of the weekend (the book is due to be released on Saturday, 21 July 2007). Even if I got my copy of the book on that day, there’s no way I’d be able to finish it within a week. I read too slow. It’s more likely that I’ll still be reading the book in August and I, like everyone else, would like to find out for myself what happens to Harry and his friends. I don’t want other people telling me before then.

My plan of attack is to NOT read anything that is marked with any keyword that leads me to believe it (meaning posts, websites, emails) might be a spoiler. It was because of a “leak” on Book 6 that I disabled signatures on my message board – it’s difficult to ignore one sentence that tells all and is in bold; it’s also very nasty and selfish. I was furious when this happened and I let the person know it too. If you read the book and write a review, that’s fine, but please tell the reader there will be spoilers long before you give anything away.

There is only four days until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out. Do you have a copy reserved? If not, will you attempt to buy it on the day anyway? Or, will you be hiding under a rock until the world settles down again?

Another Amulet of Kemet Submission

Amulet of Kemet is acting more like a yo-yo than a short story. It is bouncing back and forth between me and publishers at a speed which is frightening. I have a very high opinion of this story, but it’s a bit worrying how quickly it is being rejected. I guess I should think myself lucky that I do not have to wait months between submission and rejection, but the turn around time between the two is a little worrying. It’s obvious the story is not well received. I have to work out why.

This got me thinking about how the story fits into genres. I’ve been treating it as a fantasy story with science fiction elements. That obviously isn’t helping the story find a publisher. In the last few days, I’ve been thinking I need to treat it as historical fiction with a fantasy twist.

This morning I submitted Amulet of Kemet to Solander, which is a magazine for enthusiasts of historical fiction. A history buff will see how finely tuned the characters and setting in the story is to our history. I hope the effort put into writing the story isn’t lost on the reader. I just have to find the right editor and I’m hoping the editor of Solander appreciates this type of story.

Just in case he doesn’t, I better start putting a list of historical fiction markets together. If you know of any, please leave a link in a comment. I will be grateful for the leads.

A Quick Update

I haven’t done anything writing related this month. However, that was planned, because (as you might remember) I have dedicated the entire month to scanning old photos. I’m doing well with this job. I’ve literally scanned hundreds of photos already and I have just as many (if not more) to go. My goal is to finish the job by the end of the month. I think I’m on target.

After this voluntary break from writing, I’m finding my mind switching over into planning mode. I want to write, but I’m not sure what I want to tackle next. I do have options, so that’s a good sign. At present, I think I might start planning the last book in my children’s series. I’ll see how I feel at the beginning of August.

In other news, I have changed all my blogs and the forum to the same template. It’s a clean template that I quite like. I’ve never had all my websites looking the same before, but thought it would be good…for a change. This is one desk with many drawers, so it makes sense that the “drawers” all have the same lining…doesn’t it?