Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review: Only Tim Sent Flowers by George Kaplan

Only Tim Sent Flowers
by George Kaplan

Mary Louise, a bookish, redheaded, freckle-faced, eighteen-year-old virgin, who is unaware she has Asperger’s Syndrome, dispenses with Tim, her loving but far too serious and conventional high school boyfriend, then thrusts herself, groin first, into the 1960s sexual revolution, pioneering concepts such as friends with benefits and serial monogamy, while earning two college degrees in statistics. Nicknamed Tookie by her doting father, she engages in often humorous escapades with innumerable unsuitable lovers, whom she seduces with her oral virtuosity. But through it all, the one thing she really wants escapes her—a man who will truly love her, despite her faults, and give her a daughter.

My Review:
Only Tim Sent Flowers reads like a memoir. The main character, Mary Louise, or Tookie, becomes obsessed with experiencing and learning everything about sex.

I actually thought her relationship with her first boyfriend, Tim, was kind of sad. He’s very sweet and respectful, and he loves her, but it isn’t enough for Mary Louise. She loses interest in him when her attempts to get him to be her first fail. I kind of wanted her to get back with him, but the story is true to both her own and Tim’s personalities. He needs more and she wants less, or perhaps just different. It’s just too bad.

Anyway, that set aside, a good chunk of the book is Tookie cycling her way through as many fellows as humanly possible, studying and applying what she learns exuberantly. Some of her actual relationships are pretty interesting side stories, but again, I found them sad. Her sense of accomplishment and self-worth come at a cost I don’t think she realizes. She wants love, but only knows one variable in the formula.

I thought the fact that she has undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome added an interesting dynamic. Her behavior and preferences seem over the top until you take that into account. This characteristic is only overtly mentioned in the book’s description and the author’s note at the end, but it defines her.
As for the sexual encounters, well, nothing is left to the imagination. It’s very straightforward and detailed. One is left without a doubt about every one of Tookie’s likes and dislikes, and why. Some of the Asperger’s characteristics seemed to come out in these as well, which I thought showed some pretty good attention to detail. It is definitely meant for adult readers as there is a nearly constant stream of sex and sexual pursuit.

As for the storytelling, it comes across as rather factual and direct, a style typical of memoirs. This book should not be mistaken for a romance.

Overall, I thought this was a really good book, though it can be sad at times. I think the book might appeal to adults who enjoy fictional memoirs.

I received an ARC of this book from the author.

About the Author:
After a career of chasing, and being chased by, spies and assorted thugs across national monuments while being mistaken for Cary Grant, George Kaplan hung up his shoulder holster and used the money to buy a computer to serve as his word processor. Although well versed in writing after-action summaries, Kaplan had no experience with writing fiction, other than his expense reports. Government repercussions about modeling characters after his cohorts and enemies would have been far too risky, so he fabricated a heroine who has qualities he'd seen a few of on each of a number of women he'd rubbed shoulders (and sometimes more) with, during his long career undercover. Kaplan's first novel, Only Tim Sent Flowers, launches his Tookie series about an undiagnosed Aspie girl who perseveres through numerous unexpected adventures.
Author's website https://blackopalbooks.com/george-kaplan/

Other links:
Book Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAHvbJ7MEac
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Only-Tim-Sent-Flowers-Revised/dp/1626947295/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36176303-only-tim-sent-flowers

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Middle Grade Review: Journey to Skioria by Kandi J. Wyatt

Journey to Skioria 
by Kandi J. Wyatt

Tania is lost, shipwrecked on an unfamiliar shore. With no friends or family, the nine-year-old girl must make her way through the realm of the woodland people to a town she's never heard of. With unexpected allies from the forest, Tania departs on a wild adventure where storms rage and the forces of nature do their very best to end her journey before it has truly begun.

In a land full of forests, oceans, and small people, what will it take for one young girl to make it home alive?

Lord of the Rings meets Narnia in this standalone middle grade fantasy by author Kandi J Wyatt.

My Review:
Journey from Skioria follows Tania, a little girl who finds herself shipwrecked in a mysterious land. She quickly makes friends with the tiny inhabitants, and they agree to accompany her safely back to her family. Along the way she experiences the wonders of Skioria and it's neighbors.

What I liked about the story most was Fyrh's story. It had some depth and a good resolution. I also enjoyed some of the lore and tales told by the adults along the journey, but they were still all rather short and simple. I also enjoyed some of the pranks, but they did tend to make the adults seem more childlike than the children at times.

I was a little disappointed by how Tania, despite being the focus of the story, took a back seat to all the antics of her companions. She's basically an observer, and besides a little bit of conflict she perceives on behalf of Fyrh, there isn't much danger or risk for her to overcome.

As for the illustrations, different ones are featured at the start of each chapter, but I couldn't identify them in the context. Captions would have helped. I really wanted to know who belonged to each image.

Overall, it's a pleasant read, but without a lot of meat. I imagine younger middle graders might like it, and I didn't find anything in the story objectionable, but I wouldn't really recommend it to adult readers.

I received the review copy of this book from the author's publicist.

About the Author: 
Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.”

To learn more, visit:
Blog:  http://kandijwyatt.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kandi-Wyatt-author/647179792053374
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/kandijwyatt
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kandiwyatt3/
Instagram:  https://instagram.com/kandijwyatt/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KandiWyatt
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kandi-J.-Wyatt/e/B00ZTC4T10
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13817774.Kandi_J_Wyatt

Book Links:
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35913848-journey-from-skioria
Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074VG34TR
Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/journey-from-skioria-kandi-j-wyatt/1126984307
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/journey-from-skioria/id1272359137

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

YA Review: Lakeside by Amanda Linehan

by Amanda Linehan

Badminton, Trivia, Evil Spirits. Welcome to Lakeside...

Seventeen-year-old Jemi is the new girl in town. Again.

After moving with her mother to the town of Lakeside, Jemi finds herself thrown into a busy life with new friends. Amid an array of new activities, she volunteers to clean up the town lake and its surrounding park, which is rumored by superstitious locals to be controlled by evil spirits.

When her project is sabotaged by a jealous classmate, Jemi is ready to throw in the towel. But with the help of her friends, an eccentric millionaire, and an array of memorable townspeople, Jemi takes back her project and learns that sometimes the way to success is to hang on and let go.

Because in Lakeside, there’s always more than what meets the eye.

My Review:
Jemi just wants to get in enough community service hours to graduate. Instead she finds herself heading up an impossible project to bring to life Lakeside’s embarrassing namesake.

The story is all about finding strength in yourself and following your vision, even when you feel inadequate to the task. Jemi feels real in how she, as a teenager, handles a challenge that quickly becomes more than she expected. Even so, there is a glimmer of the paranormal and a small hint of romantic interest, just enough to up the complexity and interest in the story.

Besides that, I’d have liked to know if there were some background behind the spiders. They seem to be linked to the spirits Jemi learns about, but why?

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I think folks who like reading about teens who overcome obstacles would like this book, while readers who expect more than a glimmer of the paranormal may be disappointed.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

About the Author:

Amanda Linehan is a fiction writer, indie publisher and INFP. She has published three novels and a couple handfuls of short stories. Her short fiction has been featured on Every Day Fiction.

She lives in Maryland, likes to be outside and writes with her cat sleeping on the floor beside her desk.

Twitter @amandalinehan
Author Site: http://amandalinehan.com/

Other books I've read by this author:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fairy Tale Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

by Neil Gaiman

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous—in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.

My Review:
This was a fun, yet short fairy tale. The hero's a bit clueless in love, but the adventure was of a good pace, and the tension from spending time in the shoes of the other folks after the fallen star kept me engaged.

Overall, I really liked this, though the romance didn't really pack a lot of emotion behind it. Recommended for folks who like fairy tale adventures.

I borrowed this from the library.

About the Author:
I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean's MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON).

In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at www.neilgaiman.com more or less up to date. ---from Amazon Author Profile

Also, check out the author's blog on Goodreads. Looks like he posts there regularly. Find more books by this author on Amazon.

Available on Amazon. I like this cover better than the one on Goodreads. :-)