Monthly Archives: August 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Never Apart by Romily Bernard

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Mid-week and it’s time to not only look forward to the weekend but some new books.  This week’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) is Never Apart by Romily Bernard.

This one comes recommended by best-selling author lady and friend, Sally Kilpatrick.

Here’s the back cover blurb, courtesy of Goodreads. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading I Want to Re-read

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Growing up, I often bristled at the assigned reading in school.  Part of it was probably that I was in the midst of another book that I was reading from pleasure and regretted the time I had to spend reading the stuff for school.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) is a back-to-school theme.  So, I decided to look back at the books that were assigned reading and that I might want to visit again now that I’m a bit older. Continue reading

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Joss Whedon becomes more like Gene Roddenberry

josswhedon.jpgEver since “discovering” Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the mid-90’s (in season two, before it was cool to like it), I’ve had an admiration for Joss Whedon.  He’s a creative guy who wrote and directed some of the most memorable episodes of television of that era.

He’s since gone on to shepherd some of the best-loved loved TV shows and movies of the last two decades.  Much of his output has been about female empowerment and creating strong roles for women, up to and including Whedon seeming to earn the label of a feminist.

All of that seems to be crashing around Whedon with his ex-wife, Kai Cole, publishing an op-ed piece that says Whedon is “hypocrite” and that he had multiple affairs during the course of their marriage.

Reading Cole’s piece and then seeing Whedon’s response (it feels like a non-denial denial in addition to closing down a website devoted to his fandom), I can’t help but feel like Whedon has become Gene Roddenberry for a new generation.  For those of you who don’t live and breathe Star Trek, I’ll try to keep this short.

Roddenberry created Star Trek and founded his view of humanity’s future on some wonderful ideals.  As Ken Wray, co-host of the superlative Mission Log, recently put it, Roddenberry’s vision was that not only do we make it to the future, but we get past many of the issues that face our society today. Or as Trek put it, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.

And while Roddenberry had a great vision for the future, he was still a human being with weaknesses.  One was that Roddenberry had a weakness when it came to women.  The guy put his then-mistress, later-wife Majel Barret into the pilot and then crafted a recurring role for her on the original series as Nurse Chapel.

And it feels like Whedon has almost followed a similar path.  The letter by his ex-wife says that Whedon had multiple affairs over the course of their marriage and

Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth. He deceived me for 15 years, so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.

And while I’m disappointed that both Whedon and Roddenberry didn’t live up the ideals or the image they portrayed themselves to be in pop culture, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to let Shortcake view their creative output (when appropriate for her.  I don’t think she’ll get a lot out of Buffy right now!)

Both men created women who are smart, funny, empowered and aren’t defined by their relationship to men.  As the father of a little girl, I’m grateful to them for creating pop culture heroines that my daughter can look up to and emulate.

I also think it could be a valuable tool to teach her about the difference between the public and private persona that people can have.

I still respect the output of both men.  And I understand the public persona they created, even if they were flawed and failed to live up the lofty expectations they and their fans created for them.

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Review: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

Lie to MeWith Gone Girl casting a huge shadow across the literary world, it seems like we get a potential “next Gone Girl” hitting the shelves every week.

On the surface, J.T. Ellison’s Lie to Me could be classified as another book trying to be the “next Gone Girl.” But that would sell her new psychological thriller short.

Ethan and Sutton Montclair appear to have a perfect life. Successful writing careers, the nice house, a perfect marriage. But if you pull back the layers a bit, things aren’t quite as perfect as they seem. Sutton is being harassed by a book blogger with an ax to grind, Ethan’s got a severe case of writer’s block and their marriage is on shaky ground from Ethan’s one-night stand and the death of their infant son. When Sutton vanishes one morning, leaving a note for Ethan not to try to find her, suspicion begins to fall firmly on Ethan. The discovery of a burned body that could be Sutton only ratchets up the scrutiny from the authorities and the media.

Ellison does a nice job of layering the tension in Lie to Me. As she peels away the layers of the Montclair marriage, we find out that neither Ethan nor Sutton is quite as innocent or as sweet as they portray themselves to the outside world.

While most of the novel is third-person narration, Ellison includes the occasional chapter from the first-person perspective of the mastermind of things. Determining who is speaking and what their vendetta is against the Montclairs really drives much of the novel
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That is until we get the big reveal and things kind of go off the rails a bit.

I won’t ruin anything for anyone. But I can honestly say the first two-thirds of this novel had me gripped, intrigued and not able to turn the pages fast enough to see what development would come next. And then we get to the big reveal and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit. I wanted to make the jump with Ellison, but I just couldn’t.

That’s not to say that Lie to Me isn’t a good novel. It is very good. It’s just not a great one. And that’s a shame because, as I said, the first two-thirds of it are completely compelling.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.

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Waiting on Wednesdays: A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow

waitingonwednesdayAfter a long hiatus, I’m jumping back into Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine). Each week, this meme asks participants to peer into the future at an anticipated, upcoming release.

This week, I’m waiting on a new novel by one of my favorite authors, Robert Whitlow. His new novel, A Time to Stand, will hit shelves on September 12.

timetostandIn a small Georgia town where racial tensions run high and lives are at stake, can one lawyer stand up for justice against the tide of prejudice on every side?

Adisa Johnson, a young African-American attorney, is living her dream of practicing law with a prestigious firm in downtown Atlanta. Then a split-second mistake changes the course of her career.

Left with no other options, Adisa returns to her hometown where a few days earlier a white police officer shot an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital.

Adisa is itching to jump into the fight as a special prosecutor, but feels pulled to do what she considers unthinkable—defend the officer.

As the court case unfolds, everyone in the small community must confront their own prejudices. Caught in the middle, Adisa also tries to chart her way along a path complicated by her budding relationship with a charismatic young preacher who leads the local movement demanding the police officer answer for his crime.

This highly relevant and gripping novel challenges us to ask what it means to forgive while seeking justice and to pursue reconciliation while loving others as ourselves.

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Tuesday Top Ten: Ten Books Sci-Fi Books Everyone Should Read

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I came to sci-fi (and fantasy) through my love of Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who.  And after reading a lot of tie-in novels for those universes, I found myself a couple of decades ago wanting to expand my reading palate a bit.

But the question facing me was where do I start?  As I skimmed the shelves at my local bookstores and library, every book’s cover shouted at me that it was a “great” sci-fi novel and I should definitely pick it up and read it first.

Luckily, I stumbled across a sci-fi/fantasy book discussion group that met at my local bookstore.  It not only gave me a reason to read the book for each month’s discussion, but it also brought me into contact with other sci-fi fans who had more read more than I had to look to for recommendations.

So, for this week’s edition of Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish), here are ten recommendations, if you’re looking for a few good entry points to the sci-fi world.  Continue reading

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Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final GirlsReading Final Girls, I found myself more intrigued with who Riley Sager really was rather than if any of the characters in the novel would make it to the final page. I’m not sure if that says more about me as a reader or more about the book itself.

Honestly, it’s probably a bit of both.

Billed by Stephen King as the “first great thriller of 2017,” I went into Riley Sager’s Final Girls with a lot of hope. Quincy Carpenter is one of three women in the United States who is the sole survivor of a tragic, horror-movie-like massacre. Unable to recall any details about the attack, Quincy has spent the last decade moving on with her life, including a live-in boyfriend and starting her own cooking blog. But when one of the three “final girls” (named after the girl in the slasher film who makes it the ending credits) dies and another appears on Quincy’s doorstep after years of hiding, Quincy soon begins to question everything about her life, both the and now. Continue reading

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