Book Review

Book Review: Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book Reviews

Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book ReviewsGlenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book Reviews by Glenn Conley

Blurb: 

WARNING: There’s a lot of unnecessary profanity in this book.
Why? Because… Because REASONS!

This book contains over 100 brutally honest book reviews. These laugh-out-loud reviews are offensive in every way possible. There’s so much unnecessary profanity, it’s crazy. But it’s not the profanity or offensiveness that makes this book worth reading. It’s the honesty.

You will find 1 star reviews in this book, that absolutely tear the book to shreds, because the book was really that bad. But you will also find 5 star reviews in this book, because the book was actually that good.

It contains reviews of popular books such as Gone Girl, The Giver, The Maze Runner, and many other popular books. Of course, it also includes plenty of books you’ve probably never heard of.

There’s reviews that urge you to read a book, because it’s so good. And also, reviews that warn you to stay the hell away from certain books, because they’re bad. So bad.

In the end, you’ll laugh while reading this book. And cry. And possibly vomit. You’ve been warned.

The Review:

“Here is my book: Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1. It’s a collection of hilarious book reviews that are sure to amuse you. That is, if you have a sick sense of humor, as I do.”

Well, Mr. Conley warned me. His reviews are definitely not for the faint of heart.
I’ll begin by saying that I found this a hard book to review. How do you review a book containing the author’s feelings and opinions about what he’s read? And, if he chose to express those opinions in the most prickly and colorful way possible, to the point I sometimes feared my reader would spontaneously combust, what of it? People can write what they want, right?

Conley reviews books of all types and genres, from literary fiction to Young Adult, science fiction and some fantasy. There are also a few books included that I wish I hadn’t learned about—there really are some sick puppies out there writing about some sick stuff. There were times when, after closing my reader for the day, I actually felt nauseous. That said, there were a few novels that piqued my interest and, if I run across them while browsing, I just might pick them up.

So, the first half or so of the book was dedicated to the 1-3 star rated novels. These sections were the most difficult to read because of the profanity. Until I read this book, I had no idea there were so many colorful ways to use the F-word–as both an insult and a verb–to express how terrible something was. However, underneath all that I noted that Conley had some valid points: Why would anyone enjoy a novel with no story, or tension or conflict? Wouldn’t I be annoyed if something billed as a novel was in fact only a novelette? Or what about novels filled with characters no one cares about? Or the prequels or sequels that inexplicably have no connection to the original novel—the one I liked so much I decided to spend money on said prequel or sequel? These were all important issues that can make–or break–a book.

Books Conley did like were written up with thoughtful commentary, including why he thought the book was successful. Thankfully, these reviews were presented with less profanity and—this made me laugh–even grudging admiration.

Curious? I’d suggest first checking out the rating system to get a taste of what you’re in for. I read it to my sister and she laughed, saying she would read the book just because of it.

I would recommend this book to someone who is not easily offended and who can appreciate the book for what it is: one man’s very honest opinion about books. I found the last section, where he shares about his background and relationship with books, to be equally interesting. It helps explain the book’s context, which suggests the spirit in which it should be received.

View all my reviews

Essays

Interview with Dyane Forde, Indie Author

Many thanks to Lela Markham for interviewing me about being an indie author, why I decided to go it alone, and about my books, including the release of Wolf’s Bane! 🙂 Stop on by!

aurorawatcherak

Dyane FordeMy friend Dyane Forde visited me following her decision to end contract with her publisher. She is now fully an indie author. Check out my earlier interview with her here.

Talk a bit about the Purple Morrow and where the sequel is in process.

The idea for The Purple Morrow started a few years back when I wanted to explore themes related to loss, redemption, and moving forward. The story of a man unable to deal with the past while being thrown into a crisis demanding that he settle things and move on seemed a good place to start.

Purple MorrowThe Purple Morrow started very simply; I’d intended it to be a solo book. But as the story developed and the characters matured, I knew the full tale had to be explored. The world of Marathana blossomed, becoming multi-cultural, each people group following their own cultural or religious beliefs. Magic and…

View original post 861 more words

Essays, Misc

Red Wine and a Side Order of Confidence, Please

There’s nothing quite like setting foot in a social function for triggering every insecurity I have in a span of 2 seconds flat. Last night, I got a taste of how far I had come in regards to self-confidence as well as a view of how far I still have to go.

Let me explain.

Last week, Deanna Radford from my writing group (a wonderful poet who’s into some really interesting edgy music) mentioned a cocktail party that was taking place on Feb. 16 at a local hotel. It was part of an event where sales reps from book publishers meet with local bookstores to do business, but a new feature—the cocktail—was added to allow writers the chance to mingle with these publishing superpowers. Though I’m not a fan of social gatherings of this kind, I am trying to figure out the Montreal writing scene and thought this would be a great chance to get a lay of the land, so to speak, and agreed to go. Honestly, I had no idea what I was walking into. I figured the event would be held conference-style in a hall where I could sip wine in a dark corner and recon the room. If things got too crazy, then I could slip out ninja-style and no one would be the wiser. But right from the start, I was confounded. The event was held in a penthouse and it was a small group, maybe 30-40 people. This meant I would be in close proximity to people. And OMG, people would see me and I would have to talk.

And then it happened: a very nice, talkative sales rep entered my bubble and asked the question I was not prepared for: ‘So what’s your book about?’

Now, I write all the time about characters sweating bullets when under stress, but this was the first time in a while that I can remember actually feeling sweat ‘trickling down my back’ and ‘pricking at my brow’. Note that it is a horrible, horrible…horrible…feeling. I literally stood there thinking: Do I give her a log line? Tag line? Short or long pitch? Or talk from the heart? The traffic jam in my brain led to nonsensical stuttering until something—I have no idea what–came out. Luckily, she was very understanding, and seeing that I was a genre writer and independent, she very kindly hooked me up with the manager of a popular local bookstore.

From www.beyondanxietyanddepression.com
From http://www.beyondanxietyanddepression.com

By then, I was more than thankful for the counter stocked with wine. Lots and lots of wonderful, red, nerve-soothing, brain-numbing wine. I made sure my cup was full. The fuller it was, the less I had to talk. Oh, and the food table also came in handy for that.

The evening trucked on. The wine kicked in. My brain settled down. I met some lovely writers, two of which I gave my business card to once they showed interest in what I was doing (writing and this blog). I chatted with reps from some of the big publishing companies, sat across an ottoman from the Harper Collins rep, and chatted with the rep from Penguin-Random House from across the dinning room table about the power of social media and how it has become an essential too to writers and publishers. I smiled and nodded, happy to learn that, in this regard, I seem to be on the right track. I walked away going, ‘I just talked to the rep from one of the biggest publishing houses in the country. Say what?!’

Talking about myself is the hardest thing to do, as I can’t imagine anything more boring to a listener than hearing about me. And being introduced as ‘a writer’ with ‘one published book and another on the way’ was hard to get used to, especially being independent amidst people working under the traditional model. I mean, I write and have published, but I don’t have a label backing me. Who can vouch for my legitimacy as a ‘writer’? But, I was lucky. I had two wonderful friends flanking me (Cora Siré, a fantastic writer and poet and one of the most intelligent women I know, and Deanna already mentioned above). They introduced me to publishers and other people deeply involved in the Montreal writing scene that they already knew, and their lead-ins made for smooth introductions. Not only that, they talked me up. Listening to them made me realize that I had done some interesting things–stuff I was proud of–that were worth talking about. This realization enabled me to smile wider, shake hands with more gusto, and greet people with greater ease (dare I say confidence?).

I left the evening with my head swirling. What did I really get out of the experience? How can I apply it to what’s happening in my writing life now? Here are two thoughts:

1) As in independent author, the evening itself wasn’t that useful. None of my books are published by any of the companies present nor will they appear in bookstores because of it (I’ve learned that many bookstores don’t accept independently published books unless they are backed by a label of some sort). However, Deanna noted that it’s important to put faces to names. One day, if I manage to successfully publish with a traditional company, or try to set up a reading or a book-launch or other event, these contacts just might come in handy.  

2) I learned that independent/self-published authors are making strides and are earning respect. Most of the time, when I stated that I had self-published, I detected what I thought were looks bordering on respect and interest. One seemed to appreciate that ‘going it alone’ gave me the chance to learn the ropes. Another rep admitted that indie publishing has its place and that it was a good thing that writers have more options than before. I hadn’t expected these responses but they were definitely welcome.

I think my point is this: being a lone writer and staying behind the desk might be comfortable, but we’ve known for a long time that the market is changing. Writers are expected to ‘get out there’ more than ever before. We are being called to understand and to participate in the business side of things, including marketing, promotion, and networking, things that don’t have anything to do with writing itself. It’s not comfortable, but it seems to be becoming a must. Did everything go smoothly last night? Nope. But I survived. It was scary and challenging, but the experience was invaluable. My suggestion? Try to get out there, see what you can learn from other writers, about the relationships between the movers and the shakers. Start with small events and go with good friends who have experience with this sort of thing who can help you out when you need it. And then feel good about stepping out of your comfort zone.

What are your thoughts? Do you find it hard to talk about yourself and your work? What do you do to get over it? Do you like these kinds of social functions? What do you think about writers being called to step into the forefront more and more often?

Book Review

Book Review for The Forgotten Knight: A Chinese Warrior in King Arthur’s Court

The Forgotten Knight: A Chinese Warrior in King Arthur's CourtThe Forgotten Knight: A Chinese Warrior in King Arthur’s Court by Christopher Vale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Blurb: 

Following a fierce battle by King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to defend the home of Princess Gwynevere, Merlin the Magician is deeply shaken by a terrifying premonition of the fall of Camelot. Guided by magic, Merlin travels to the distant Empire of China where he meets a boy who Merlin believes will one day rescue the Queen and save Camelot from destruction.

The Review:

Right from the opening, the book begins with a battle. What better way to get the reader right into the story as well as acquainted with the main players and the roots of one of the main conflicts that will affect the rest of the story? Right away, I had a good sense of the characters, which were well described and each had a distinct personality. Merlin was particularly enjoyable (like a less grumpy Gandalf), and Arthur and Lancelot were pleasant to read. It was a treat to meet characters I’ve read in romanticized fairy tales presented as ‘real people’ in a novel. Refreshing. Sheng was also a passionate, intelligent young man, and I enjoyed following his adventures.

The writing is quite good. As stated, the characters are well rendered, as are the descriptions of places and events. The fight sequences were quite detailed, and anyone interested in envisioning exactly what is happening would get a kick out of that. I also particularly liked the immersion in Chinese culture, which was presented with enough detail to feel authentic.

My biggest concerns were the following: (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: skip to the next paragraph if you are sensitive to spoilers). It made no sense to me that Merlin, after receiving the vision of coming disaster, would disappear like that without giving his *king* notice, especially considering the length of time he was gone. He was the king’s most trusted adviser and friend! And it also amazed me that, after what could have been considered desertion, Arthur had such a weak response to his return. The other issue I struggled with was with how easily Sheng’s father agreed to Merlin’s outrageous request: let his only son leave to save a Queen in a kingdom basically half-way across the world–why should he care? Considering the importance of lineage and honour to many cultures in that time, it seemed unrealistic that after only a long talk (of which no details are shared) that Sheng’s father would agree. I kept waiting for a good explanation for that. Finally, as a reader who is used to third-person limited point of view storytelling, it took time to adapt to the third person omniscient point of view used in this story.

Those points aside, the story is engrossing. Sheng’s personality is fun and he’s always up for adventure, of which there are many good ones in the novel, including his trials to become a night and his quest to save the Queen. Also, I appreciated that Vale chose to write about a main character who is an Other, especially one that is integrated into a traditionally European tale. The Forgotten Knight: A Chinese Warrior in King Arthur’s Court is a very good read and I am happy to recommend it.

View all my reviews