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Book Review: How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters

Monday, July 21, 2014



Life is full of hidden perils. Some you can see coming; smog, rabid dogs, visits by your in-laws. Some you can’t; El Nino, UV radiation, and the Hanta virus. Some you don’t expect at all. Thank goodness for Andrew Shaffer and his handy guide to threats you never even knew existed.  Why bother breaking a sweat over global warming or Thanksgiving with Uncle Dwayne when a greater danger lies in wait from a sharknado? For those not in the know a sharknado is a tornado that forms over the ocean. Its whirling fury sucks up several hundred sharks and then flings them out in a random pattern over the nearest city. Needless to say, this agitates the sharks and causes them to chomp away on people with happy abandon. SyFy Channel movies have been warning us to duck and cover for years, but no. You wouldn’t listen, would you? Now sharks are falling from the skies and you have no idea what to do.

Luckily Andrew Shaffer does. He has put all this useful information together in one place to give us poor terrified victims of unnatural catastrophes the best chance of survival. The book is divided into two sections; unnatural disasters and monsters. Each part covers a multitude of dangers humans may have to face. The simple layout makes it easy to thumb through as you’re running for your life. Running, by the way, rarely works when death is hot on your heels. What does work is rapid threat assessment followed by an adequate supply of guns, rockets loaded with dry ice, bombers dropping glaciers, dynamite, the occasional nuclear warhead, and a jewel called The Eye of Medusa (The last is only effective against a basilisk.)

Tips and Treats
Along with survival tips Shaffer also adds additional snippets of information on surviving the unnatural catastrophe. Making your last line of defense against a sharknado is not the time to figure out how to wield a chainsaw. Study the instructions first. Also useful to know are the melting points of various manmade objects. The St. Louis Gateway Arch is stainless steel and at 2600 degrees Fahrenheit is much more durable in the face of a firenado (tornado made of fire) than is the Statue of Liberty at a paltry 1984 degrees. Avid cooks will appreciate the recipe for fried gatoroid. After all, once you’ve disposed of something as big as a Greyhound bus it would be a crying shame to let all that good meat go to waste.

Stocking Stuffer
Do you have a crazed survivalist hiding in the basement? Or, better yet, a Boy Scout or Girl Scout in your family? Forget those silly Red Cross first aid manuals for Christmas. All they really need is How to Survive a Sharknado stuffed into their stocking in order to laugh in the face of death (or perhaps earn some really keen merit badges).

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

L.A. Kelley  is a co-blogger at The Book Cove and writes books with adventure, humor, and romance with a touch of sass. Find her at

End of the Line

Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Before I get into it, I want to give a huge thanks to Jessi and The Book Cove for allowing me to take over the blog this week.  I had a blast.  This is a great website and blog and I feel some remorse for ruining it for seven days.  I was once told to always leave things the way you found them, but I just remembered that a minute ago and now it's too late.
    I put on my website's bio page that I live in the mountains and fight bears, but really that's just because I have no interest in writing an actual bio. While I do fight bears, I actually live near Chicago, am a special educator, and have two pre-school aged daughters. (I know every single word to Ariel's Part of Your World.)
    My writing is highly influenced by writers liked John Swartzwelder and Richard Stark.  I read a great deal and I try to read a bit of everything.  My all-time favorite books include, in no particular order, The Forever War, The Art of Fielding, Catcher in the Rye, A Visit From The Good Squad, What I'd Say to the Martians: And Other Veiled Threats, and The Long Walk.   I've recently enjoyed The Good Luck of Right Now as well as some very good indie books, such as Ralph and the Purple Fly, Megan by Steven Novak and Angeli: The Pirate, the Angel, and the Irishman by the really talented Amy Van Sant.
    My illustrating is highly influenced by the drawings of second graders, and it would be very clear if you ever saw it.
    My wardrobe is influenced by a loose interpretation of the word 'clean'.
    My diet is influenced by a fictional dietician I created named Yums Tasty who talks about how eating a bunch of crap will lead to good health somehow.

    As I mentioned back in the first post, I've finished two books as part of a series that will be ongoing. I'm currently working on the third. The humor is basically the same style as what I wrote in the blog this week..... basically dumb, goofy and a little dark.  The main character is kind of a poor man's poor man who runs into a cast of weirdos and gets into seemingly unescapable situations.  The only two rules I really follow are avoiding cultural references and not swearing.  Not that I don't find filthy humor funny, but I need to be able to hand the book to my girls someday without entire pages ripped out.
    The tough thing about writing humor is how subjective it is.  I get positive feedback from people I don't know personally and I appreciate it and eat it up, and I negative feedback and I can't argue with that either.  You don't think it's funny?  That makes perfect sense.  That's why in the end I have to write what makes me laugh. That's the not so tough thing about writing humor.

    Whether humor or any other genre, what I love about a story or a book is a great character. I've always liked William Faulkner's quote, "It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does."  My favorite stories are generally following this principle and are not chasing the plot.
    I love a character that I'm rooting for without really understanding why. The best characters do that for me.  They lose, they lose some more, and they make me question them, but then they offer up a chance of redemption and when they get it,  I'm right there with them.  
    At the end of the line I feel like more often than not we want books, even unrealistic ones, to offer us what the world can't regularly give us, and that's the line between good and bad.  If the line is faint, all the better, but when the dust clears, the bad guys get what's coming to them, and the good guys go home, maybe a little worse for wear.

Thanks for reading this week.

--Nick Tory is the author of the Johnny Book series.  Visit or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @nick_tory.  

Stuff My Dad Said

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Justin Halpern has probably taken advantage of Twitter more than anybody since it's inception.  He is the author of the popular handle, @shitmydadsays, which has almost 3 million followers.  He turned this into a best selling book as well as a television show.  If you aren't familiar with it, Justin posts things that his mostly angry old father says that have a kind of hilarious, bitter, and sideways wisdom to them.
Certainly part of the reason that the blog is so popular is that many people can in at least some way relate.  Our own parent's ramblings may be different from from Mr. Halpren, but to us it seems crazy just the same.
So on that note, I'm going to pay homage to Justin's popular work by sharing with you some of the wisdom that the late, great Mr. Tory shared with me.  140 characters or less.

- "You can be anything you want to son."

- "You owe it to yourself to give 110%"

- "A man is measured by how he treats others."

- "We believe in you son.  Make us proud."

- "Hey buddy, whatcha writing?"

- "Does that say 'late'?

- "Just got a call from Aunt Mel.  She says she read online that I'm dead."

-"Stop telling people online that I'm dead, Nick.  Your mother doesn't like it."

-"Just got mailed flowers from someone I went to high school with.  It's awkward to send these back."

-"Your mother said she read it again online this morning.  I'm not sure I get what you're doing."

- "As far as jokes go, this is really off-color."

- "Fine, do whatever you want.  But someday you will have a son and he will do this to you. Then we'll see how you like it."

- "Remember I said a man is measured by how he treats others. You're measuring zero right now."

- "Stop it.  STOP IT!"

- "I am living, son! As of today, July 19th 2014!  Oh, and call your sister and say Happy Birthday, would ya?"

I think we can all agree that my dad was full of his own unique brand of hilarious and surly wisdom.  I welcome you all to think of that classic lines your dad has spouted over the years and share them.  To fathers everywhere!

Tomorrow will be my final day in the week long blog takeover. I'm looking forward to one more post with The Book Cove.

--Nick Tory is the author of the Johnny Book series.  Visit or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @nick_tory.  His real father is alive and well. 

Deeper or Hidden Meanings In Our Writing

Friday, July 18, 2014

        I hope you enjoyed my tips for connecting with your readers.  In the second part of my series about effective writing I'm going to talk about deeper and hidden meanings within a text.  For centuries authors have been hiding and disguising their true intentions and literary scholars have loved to pour over what these underlying agendas might have been.  Almost every piece of writing from a classic like Catcher in the Rye to a simple children's book like Goodnight Moon has gone under the microscope.
        The key to weaving a hidden meaning into your writing is subtlety.  You might be talking about the need for political action but you write it in the form of a fairy tale. You might be writing about how you hate your neighbor Tom and you disguise it in some other form.  The literary classic Animal Farm is one of the most obvious examples as it very keenly tells the story of the Russian revolution.
        As a writer you don't need to come right out and say, "My neighbor Tom is a slimeball."  Instead, you skillfully knit the information in.  Some great works don't necessarily push an agenda with what they say, but simply allude to important aspects of the story or characters.  The novel The Lovely Bones does this extensively.  Author Alice Sebold isn't necessarily concerned with telling the world how much of a pompous windbag her neighbor Tom is.  Instead she is uses objects and actions within the story and gives them a greater value than what initially see.
        Just because you may not have a neighbor named Tom who is seemingly going out of his way to piss you off on a daily basis, it doesn't mean that you can't find a worthwhile cause to hide deep within your story.  The meanings may sometimes only be relevant to us.  Our protagonists may have characteristics of those we love.  Our antagonists may have characteristics of the rude, jerk-faced, dope who lives next door to you.  For argument's sake let's call him Tom.
        So remember, if you're looking to add another level to your piece of writing, look around and get inspiration from the things that you are passionate about and begin to shape your world that way. And if your blockhead of a neighbor insists on being the biggest ass-wipe that has ever walked the planet on a daily basis for no good reason whatsoever, then you brush it aside and show that you are the bigger man.
       Happy writing!

-Nick Tory is the author of the Johnny Book series.  Visit or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @nick_tory. 

Connecting With Your Readers

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No matter what format you are writing for, as an author it is your job to find a way to connect with your readers.   It's your job to tear down the natural divide and invite them into the world that you have created.  Without that connection the reader will simply move on to something new, as there are no shortage of options to them, especially in today's world.
I offer up to you these tips to better connect with your audience.

1. Appeal to the reader's emotions.  If the reader is emotionally involved they will not lose interest.

2. Answer questions the reader might have.  If you can anticipate the questions the reader might have, then make sure you provide them with those answers in your work and the piece will be more complete.

3. Have a consistent voice. It's easy for an audience to tell when you are not authentic.  Be yourself throughout your writing.

4. Evoke curiosity. Give your reader a reason to keep turning the pages or moving through the article. Believe that what you have to say demands interest.

5. Have a plan.  Your reader will be impressed that you made a plan and didn't ask them what they wanted to do or pick a place just because it's close to you.

6. Keep things fresh. Your audience will appreciate spontaneity.  They're sick of you writing the same thing every Friday night. It would be nice to change it up a little bit.

7. Be complimentary.  Your reader likes to hear nice things every now and then. When you first meet them you said nice things all the time and now it's like you don't even care.

8.  Lend a hand. The sink is full of dishes and you're writing?  Your audience don't ask you to do much, just rinse the dishes you use and put them in the dishwasher.

9. Dress to impress.  Are you really wearing that again?  It's not even clean.  It's your reader's birthday and you knew that.  Can't you just dress like an adult?

10. Really?   If you loved your audience you wouldn't be acting like this. They thought they knew you.

11. Get out  of my apartment, you loser. The reader's friends told them that you were a jerk, but they don't listen. How could anybody love you when you don't even love yourself. Don't call the reader again.  Oh and have fun being a failed writer.

If you use these tips you may be able to connect with readers, which, more so than the quality of the words on the page, is what makes a great writer.  Good luck and happy writing!

-Nick Tory is the author of the Johnny Book series.  Visit or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @nick_tory. 

The Greatest All-Star

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tonight is MLB's annual All-Star game.  I will loyally watch, as I love baseball.  I love to watch it, I love to play it, and I love to talk about it. It's in my blood in the sense that as a child I rubbed a baseball into a cut hoping that was possible.  I have a tattoo of a baseball, in the sense that it's a temporary tattoo, because who gets a real tattoo of a baseball?  It's my destiny in the sense that I completely overuse the word destiny in my daily life.
Writers love to write about baseball. The most famous piece would probably be the 1888 poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer called "Casey at the Bat." Most of you are probably familiar with it in some way. If not, it can be found HERE.  The general idea is that the home team in Mudville is down to it's last out and down 2.  A couple of bums who the crowd hates get on base, bringing up Casey.  Casey is beloved in Mudville.  He watches the first two pitches go by with a sort of arrogance, before striking out.  Here are the final lines of the poem:

"Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out."

If you read the entire poem, Casey is made to look like a bit of pompous jerk.  Now it also appears that the entire town has ceased to enjoy life.  Even children, who generally get over that kind of thing pretty quickly have given room to depression and despair.
I always felt sad reading this poem.  Not for the people of Mudville.  No, not those ungrateful phonies.  For Casey, who is clearly Mudville's only decent player, has been carrying the team for a decade, and gets only bellyache from the town for striking out once. It was 1888.  It wasn't like Casey was making $12 million or getting railroad endorsements. He was getting paid in cuts of veal and jars of pomade.
Today I'm going to share with you my additional stanzas, which admittedly change the overall tone of the poem, but offer Casey some redemption:

There was a game the next day, for that's how baseball works,
Casey looked up in the stands and saw the Mudville jerks.
He saw the mayor, who since last night had lost ground in the polls,
And all the other dopes who had raked him 'cross the coals.

Casey had to fight back the only way he knew,
With dinger after dinger, from here to Timbuktu.
He was the one they came to see, why they came through the gate,
He had slugged a thousand homers and was hitting .608.

His first time up he hit a ball that I think still hasn't landed,
The next time up he hit the moon like JFK commanded.
The third time up he killed man who tried to catch it in the bleachers,
There were calls of "this man is God!" from a group of nearby preachers.

His final shot was also gone, yes it was no exception,
He shouted out "Boomshakalaka!" a hundred years before it's inception.
All because of Casey, Mudville won the game,
In less than 24 hours, he had regained his fame.

Before he left the field Casey took the microphone,
He had some thoughts on his mind and was sure they should be known.
"Listen up you cretins, now don't you go nowhere,"
And they stopped 'cause he was 8 foot 2 with a flowing mane of hair.

"Stop right now with all that cheering and slapping of high fives,
I'm here to tell each one of you, I slept with all your wives.
I have men in the parking lot, slashing each and every tire,
And there are more men at your home. Your home is now on fire.

No one crosses me, for my vengeance has a sting,
You'll regret your fair weather support, for in Mudville I am king.
Now crawl back to your homes and just remember that,
I am better than you all, I'm Casey at the Bat!

Wow, that was crazy.  Casey really seemed to lose it at the end and came off as sort of a maniac.  It was a bit much, I thought.  Plus he referenced John F. Kennedy, who wasn't President until three quarters of a century later.  Bizarre.
Oh well, he was clearly the original All-Star.

I hope you enjoy tonight's All-Star game as much as I will!  Play ball!

-Nick Tory is the author of the Johnny Book series.

Blog Takeover

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's really a pleasure to be able to commandeer The Book Cove blog this week.  I can't recall exactly what it was that I wrote in my entry to the competition, but I'm sure it was stunning and inspirational, because I am really due to write something that has those characteristics.
My name is Nick Tory and I'm the author of a recently released pair of books that are part of a new humor series.  The books are Johnny 12 Steps and Johnny Vegas, and they follow the self-centered and dimwitted, but lovable Johnny Tee.  The first book follows Johnny as he tries to turn his life around by following a twelve step program and misinterprets the steps along the way. The books are goofy, oddball, dry, and dark, but not vulgar. In today's blog post, I'm going to put up a sample chapter so you can get the general idea.
To help you out with your expectations, I've reviewed my own work.

"Review: Johnny 12 Steps by Nick Tory
Review by: Nick Tory
This book has satisfactory margins and fonts.  Spell check was clearly used and was at least mostly successful.   It was well bound, but I'm not sure Tory had anything to do with that.  Also I read it on a kindle so I'm just making assumptions about the binding. As for the writing, his descriptions of things are accurate to how things look in real life, at least for the most part.  He has an amazing way of making you feel like you are reading a book that he himself has written.  The experience is one that will top the list of things you've done in your life, especially if you've spent moderate to significant time in a coma. Tell a friend!"

Please enjoy the sample chapter which appears somewhere a little bit into the book (which is only 75 pages).  I could give you a setup but I won't.
For the remainder of the week, I will refrain from shoving these books down your throat by providing you with senseless commentary on the world.  I'm happy to be here!

Excerpt from Johnny 12 Steps
I woke up the next day on somebody else’s
lawn again. Only this time they didn’t invite me
to do chores in exchange for lamb chops, but
instead threatened to call the police and then
eventually shot at me twice when I dozed off
I spent the next hour thinking about what
Red had said to me. Big Milo had enemies who
were anxious to take him out, and that could be
an opportunity for me. Unfortunately I had no
clue where to start.
My first move was to ask the local hobos. It
turned out to be a dead end, as they either
started to hand me change from their cups or
pointed me to the nearest lake and slid me a half
a bar of soap. Even though it got me nowhere I
was pleased with their kindness. It was good to
see that the neighborhood was turning around.
Next I turned to the street walkers, who
were trying to double and triple their prices
before I could reassure them that I was only
looking for information. A few of them knew Big
Milo, but only had the kind of information about
him I hoped would never, ever be useful.
I was about to give up and find a fresh lawn
to rest my head when I heard a voice from down
an alley.
“You the one askin’ around about Big Milo?”
said the voice.
“That’s right,” I responded.
“Well quit askin’, if you know what’s good for
ya’,” said the voice.
“I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t,” I said.
“Let’s see that hand there, pal,” demanded
the voice.
I held up my hand with the missing finger.
Out of the shadows stepped a beat down man
with a massive beard, bloodshot eyes and a
raincoat that had once been bright yellow but
was faded and worn. He held up his hands to
reveal two fingerless bulbs.
“NO!” I screamed.
“Yes. That’s right. That’s not all either. Now
you need to see my feet,” he insisted.
“No, that’s not necessary,” I said.
“It is,” he said.
We spent the next five minutes arguing and
negotiating. Eventually I agreed to look at one of
his feet, but when he revealed it I closed my eyes
without him knowing and just yelled “NO!” for
his benefit.
“What did you do to Big Milo anyway?” I
“I was in love with his daughter,” he said. “It
was an incredible love. It was a secret love
though. He would not permit his daughter to be
with a common man like me. I knew what the
consequences might be if he found out about us,
but I took my chances. It was love like you’ve
never known. Eventually he found out.”
As he said this last part he held up his hands
very close to my face. I swatted them away and
he put them back. I thought about asking him to
stop but he seemed pretty down on his luck
lately. He told me about how he had still loved
Big Milo’s daughter, but knew she would never
love him with his hideous deformity. He also
knew that if Big Milo ever saw his face again that
he would kill him, so he took to hiding in
“Please tell me you’re not doing whatever
you’re doing for a woman,” he said.
“That’s exactly why I’m doing it,” I said.
“Love is a wretched, horrible thing, pal. That
is the one thing I know. You need some evidence?
Look right here.”
Again he held his hands an inch from my
face. It was really starting to get annoying.
“I just need to know who his enemies are,” I
“Enemies,” he laughed, “he’s got a million
enemies pal.”
“His most powerful one,” I clarified.
“Then it’s Tito Garrett you’re looking for,”
he said. “If there’s one gangster who’d like to see
Big Milo wiped off the face of the Earth, it’s
Having gotten the information I needed, I
got out of there pretty quickly. He tried to chase
after me, saying something about passing along
some information to his one true love should I
come across her, it was the only wish of a lost
man, would I please slow down because it was
hard to run with no toes, and some other stuff,
but I was pretty far away at that point.
It was clear that if I was going to avoid
ending up like the man in the raincoat, that I was
going to have to purify myself. At least that’s
what the next of the twelve steps thought I
should do, and they had me going in the right
direction so far. I looked down at the new list I
had gotten from Skinny.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these
defects of character.
I took up one of the hobos on the bar of
soap and headed down to the water. I was ready,
like the step said, but I didn’t have time to wait
for God. I scrubbed those defects away. I
scrubbed away the layers of lie and deceit and
began to reveal the new man that was
underneath. I scrubbed and scrubbed, and when
I was done and was told, “this is a fountain you
moron, a private fountain inside of an office
building, and not only that but it’s a drinking
fountain, a small third floor drinking fountain, so
how in the hell did you just bathe in it?” I was
ready to face the obstacles in front of me.
“Where in this city can I find the famous
gangster Tito Garrett?” I asked the man in the
suit closest to me.
“Tito Garrett?” he said looking confused.

“50th floor. He’s the CEO.”

Available on Amazon

Book Talk: High Five for Villainy

Monday, July 7, 2014

It’s tough to find a good villain nowadays. I blame it on psychology, muddying the waters with motivational and emotional issues to explain away actions. Enough of that nonsense. I want my villain to be bad all the way through. Discovering Voldemort had been the abused child Tom Riddle tainted his death at the end. I’ll even admit to a cheer when Dumbledore plummeted out the window. With Tom's tragic past evident, Dumbledore became an arrogant ass who should have been banned from being around children decades before. After all, he had also allowed Harry to be raised by tormenting sadists who kept him in a closet. If only he had gotten Tom counseling at the start, none of the resulting mayhem would have happened. Frankly, I would gladly have pushed Dumbledore out the window myself.

I don’t want my villains redeemed, either. They should be bad all the way through. Once redeemed, they evoke sympathy and teeter on becoming a hero. If they’re punished, I don’t get that gleeful feeling of righteous satisfaction anymore. I love that feeling. One of my favorite childhood villains was the Wicked Witch of the West. What can be more evil than someone bent on destroying a ten year-old child? Did I cry when she melted? Hell no. Recent writers have delved into a fictional past to explain away her evilness. Pah! I don’t care. Be rotten. Stay rotten. That’s my motto.

Tut, tut, you say. A purely evil villain is only for children’s stories. In order for an adult to enjoy a book, one must understand the character’s motivation. What makes them tick? What is their background? Their psychological imperative? Hell no. Exceptional villains abound in fiction; Count Dracula, Professor Moriarty, the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia, Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare’s Richard III. You’ll note, some were written specifically for children, but some are for adults. All are great fun.

In my opinion, one of the most compelling scenes in all literature is the meeting between Richard III and Lady Anne. She’s a grieving widow and hates him—I mean really, really hates him. After all, Richard is responsible for the death of her husband and father. No way will she have anything to do with the conniving hunchback, but as his charming lies unfold, he wins her over with pleas of love and repentance. After she leaves, Richard gleefully admits in his soliloquy he’s going to drop her like a hot rock as soon as gets what he wants. What a scumbag. I adore him.

Keep your psychological explanations. Enjoy your philosophical discussions of right and wrong without me. I want my villains to get their due comeuppance at the end and feel satisfaction as they meet their doom. (I insist on doom, too.) My favorite villain from the movies was Hans Gruber in Die Hard; handsome, charming, debonair, and one nasty son of a bitch at heart. He was not just bad. He was gleefully bad. Maybe because Mummy never made his favorite pudding and Daddy wouldn’t buy him a puppy. I don’t know. I don’t care. Every time Hans plummets to his death at the end of the movie my heart sings. Take that Anakin Skywalker and your wussy abandonment issues. Take that.

L.A. Kelley  is a co-blogger at The Book Cove and writes books with adventure, humor, and romance with a touch of sass. Find her at

Book Talk: Does an author really owe you?

Friday, July 4, 2014

One of my biggest peeves when reading reviews of a book is when a reader disliked a book because the book didn't pan out the way that the reader wanted and they felt "gypped", or "betrayed by the author", or a sense of being "owed". This is ridiculous. And it is a serious problem! (Links below)

Let's just get this newsflash out of the way -- the world owes you nothing.

The people in the world owe you nothing. It's just better to accept this simple (yet sometimes unfortunate) fact. As much as you may feel connected to an author/series/character(s), their outcome isn't your choice. Their fate is the choice of their creator. And if you don't like it, sorry. It's a good thing that pass-time-reading is a free choice.

Can endings be upsetting, unjustified, and/or of no sense? Yes. If that's the case, then the book may simply be flawed in that sense. Does it mean the readers should raise pitchforks, start petitions for refunds, and attempt to trash an author's reputation over their personal disagreement because they felt "betrayed" by the author? No.

There are numerous books/series that I could go into that many would recognize as being "controversial". But I won't. I admit. There are some books that really pissed me off. I mean, I just dedicated time, money, and a ton of emotion to a fictional world only to feel like I had been murdered by my best friend at the end. Like my feelings meant nothing to these characters. Like I gave them everything in life and what did I get in return? A rusty knife in the heart. Being turned.

But guess what? That doesn't matter. Because the story did what it was supposed to...
Evoke passion. Start conversation. Drive readers. Be it good or bad, the story did something. Which was the goal of the author.

So why do so many feel like they are owed something because the author did their job? I don't understand it. The frustration makes sense, but the "rioting" and hate discussions that tend to follow do not.

For as much as an author writes for their fans, they are also writing for themselves. Trust that there is a method to their madness. It may not be a method that others agree with. But if every reader agreed with every plot twist, then there wouldn't be too much to talk about.

Having an opinion is a great thing. Not everything is for everyone. But trying to take legal actions, sending hate messages, threatening lives, attempting to ruin careers and other uncalled for things just because you're upset with a book is ridiculous. Free will is a beautiful thing that goes both ways; and having your reader-feelings hurt by an author does not justify such hateful actions or self-righteous feelings of being "owed".

So enough with terrorizing authors (or anyone for that matter). It's uncalled for, ridiculous, and an ACTUAL crime. I can guarantee your "But the author's writing style made me angry" schtick won't hold up against harassment in court...

Goodreads: Where readers and authors battle it out in an online “Lord of the Flies”
Charlaine Harris threatened by fans over final Sookie Stackhouse novel
Anne Rice signs petition to protest bullying of authors on Amazon

Book Talk: The Fault In Our Stars

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - I put this book on the back burner of my TBR list for a while. Mostly because of all of the hype. I'll admit, I can be a bit of a main stream snob. If I keep hearing (overly) raving reviews about something, I tend to put it to the side until some of the frenzy dies down. It's not because I don't get into those books or because I have something against the popular. It's because I'd rather enjoy them on my own time and not be sick of them through months of indirect hear-say and spoilers. People can spoil a popular book for me all they want; by the time I actually get around to reading it I've forgotten most of the talk ;-) But because I really wanted to see the movie I decided to read the book first.

I finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago and I'm still not quite sure what I think about it. It was a good book. Actually, it was great! From the first page I was hooked. The cynical, realistic, witty, charming, smart-mouthed, honest dialog was refreshing! I've read a lot of emotionally charged books and it can be really hit or miss with this type of character play; let alone a teenage character(s).

What made the book so emotionally charged for others, however, was lost on me. This is because I figured the major twist out from the get-go. And not because I overheard anything about it before hand, but because I had a feeling (there was some foreshadowing behaviors and intuition that tipped me off). And to be honest, that was a personal let down. It's not that the book was bad because of the plot or writing or characters. It's because I spoiled it for myself. Sometimes that's not such a bad thing. But I was so excited about how much I loved the book once I got into it that it burst my bubble a bit when a certain idea started forming in my head. After that it got harder to finish.

I'm writing this not as a review, but as a reflection because it seems like others have had similar thoughts about The Fault In Our Stars, and I find it interesting that we thought "less highly" of the book not because of any flaws itself but for some other reason that I can't quite put my finger on. Because let's be honest, any time you're reading a book about cancer, someone somewhere is not going to live their life to the last page. It could be the MC or the SC, and it still affects the reader emotionally even though the reader usually knows what is coming by about mid-way of the book. And for some reason, The Fault In Our Stars  just didn't do it for some of us readers...and it completely boggles me!

So what is it? Why didn't I find myself in shock and awe until the very last page??

One, I think that I personally was ready for its plot twist since I had not read a book like that in a while and it seemed like an excellent book to write something that "shocking" in. Second, I think it tried to hard to keep the big reveal under wraps. There is such thing as trying too hard and becoming conspicuous. And once I figure out a major secret detail of a book fairly early on I become very impatient about the big reveal. Impatient to the point of losing enjoyment.

So there it is. My love-hate relationship with the wonderful The Fault In Our Stars.

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