To read, or not to read…

Because that is ALWAYS the question, yes?

I'm debating if I should read Fang. See I loved the others… but I can tell that something big and horrible happened in the sixth book and I don't know if I want to read it or not. Maybe I should just forget about Max and her freak show.

I don't know. What did you guys think? Have any of you read it? A few people have told me it was good… but then I still don't know. I don't want him to die. And worse, I don't want him to live and be on the dark side…

???????

~H

Review: Glorious

Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3.5, DNF

from Goodreads: Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden’s rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.

Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption.

It's really hard to say if I liked Glorious or not. I liked it in some ways, in some ways it was good but I could not like it, and in other ways I disliked it.

One of the reasons I did like it, was the writing. McFadden has an interesting writing style: She writes like people think. You get asked a question and you have a million things you want to say, and a million thoughts go through your head at light speed, but all you say is a short quick answer that has no significance to the person who asked, but has monumental significance to you because of your thoughts behind all of it? That's what reading Glorious feels like, and that's how McFadden writes. It's beautiful and insightful.

Glorious is really hard to enjoy, even if you do like it, because of the things that happen. It's a tragic time period, and a lot of horrible things happen to poor Easter. She witnesses families being torn apart by abuse and rape, she sees people die, she commits sins, she gets wrapped up with the wrong people. There are good parts, wonderful parts that make you smile and sigh and say "thank God something good is finally happening to the poor girl." But then there are other parts that say "oh will it ever end for poor Easter?" It's hard to enjoy stuff like rape and murder and lynching. Glorious is a wakeup call, reminding us what life was like for Black Americans (respectively) after they got their freedom, but before they gained equality with Whites.

I got to Chapter 23, about 2/3 of the way through, when I stopped reading. It didn't feel like anything was happening. I mean, lots of things happened to Easter, but nothing was happening in the story. It was just her life written out, and it was too broad. There was no main plot, it was all subplot.

I "enjoyed" (or maybe appreciated is a better word) the part that I read, however I don't think I should read something unless I feel urged to continue.

Content: Adult content. Language, violence, rape, etc. Has some homosexuality

Recommendation: Ages 18+

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

A few things…

First and foremost, I just did my friend's header. Maybe I'll do the layout tomorrow, but go see her blog. It's awesome. She's got some cool stuff up there. http://sinkingup.blogspot.com/

And I've been busy in school, and haven't written many reviews lately… but it's almost over, and I've got a break in the flow of homework, so I'll see about getting some stuff done this weekend.

and I have a ton of giveaways going on, so please enter the.

And I have winners to announce, but I've been putting it off… so keep your eyes out for that…

AND I'm at 295 followers! awesome! almost 300 in seven months!

~H

Saturday Night!

So last Saturday I had quite a night. I was a celebrity impersonator at a theater fundraiser event, it was a red carpet gala opening of the historical play 1776. (I didn't stay and watch the play, though, so I can't tell you how that was).

I was Audrey Hepburn.

Everyone has always told me I look like her because I have a long neck. After watching My Fair Lady, I had no problem with looking like someone that talented and beautiful. For the fundraiser, we bought Breakfast at Tiffanies and watched it while I fixed up my dress. It was… weird… but pretty good.

About the dresses: The black one we got in Ashville, we also go the gloves and tiara there. We found this dress shop… the lady had EVERYTHING. I ended up having to sew up the dress a little because it had a long slit, and wasn't quite form fitting enough… this was my goal:

breakfast-at-tiffanys 

Here's what I ended up with:

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YES. :)

I also got to use my character shoes from ballet again… get another use of of the $40 buggers… anyway.

So it really just consisted of walking around and being Audrey. It was fun! all these old guys wanted pictures with me lol.

Then after the gala I went straight to prom! It was fun. The music was horrible, but some of us did get a few of our requested songs played (Weezer… Queen… )

And a quick rant about that:

Hello DJ, we're a bunch of white Christian homeschoolers and you're playing dirty rap and R&B! KNOW WHO YOU'RE CATERING TOO! At one point he had music videos up on the ceiling… those weren't ok either… anyway we got those down.

So yes Prom was fun but it had some downsides. I'm going to a second one later in May, and it's organized by a Christian family that I know and trust, so hopefully it'll be a better experience. Not to say it was bad, but it was just as disappointing as every other prom I've been to so far.

And before anyone asks no I didn't dance with anyone. I didn't have a date, and for some reason none of the guys at our prom ever volunteer themselves as partners. Well whatever… My dress made it hard to dance anyway and it would have been pretty awkward.

But it was pretty!

Anyway, here are the pictures.

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Cat? Cat! OMG you should have seen my dress after I let her go. It was no longer black: it was orange… and hard to get off. ew. dumb cat.

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the other cat. (aka king of the house.) My cat Bagherah sleeps in the flower box day in and day out... Ethan, my brother, said that since my PJ's had cats and tiaras on them, I should take a picture of me and my cat and my tiara. He's a pretty creative kid… my cat now has a facebook, by the way, and you can add him if you like. He's pretty entertaining.

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Audrey :) My dad made the cigarette extender out of a dowel. He even painted ashes on the tip and made it look like it was glowing. He had so much fun showing that thing off! :)

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The back of the dress…

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Hair and makeup. took. three. hours. ugh.

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Way bright… but yeah the dress is purty.

audrey, betty, and john

Audrey, Betty, (my awesome librarian!) and J0hn

audrey 1

probably one of the better Audrey shots.

sisters

Hannah, Me, and Carly at the prom.  LOL my crown is glowing! awesomeness.

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Can you guess what book cover this is a spoof of? Hannah had fun with this one, even though she didn't enjoy the book that much… (I have yet to read it).

So that was fun.

But I am going to that other prom in May, and I'm wearing this awesome dress… I'll post pictures later.

~H

Review: The Host

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Adult

Rating: 3.5

The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. But Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves--Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

In the futuristic world, Aliens have taken over. They are small silver parasitic creatures that are placed inside the host body, and take over the body. Most of the human race has been taken over and made into hosts, except very few. Melanie and her brother are one of the few.

But when Melanie is caught and has a soul placed inside her, she fights the whole way. She refuses to give herself up and to disappear.

The Host is an amazing adventure with a peculiar cast of characters: two of which share the same body, thoughts, and memories.

I read The Host a few months after it came out, and it's one of my favorite stories. The concept is so original and intriguing and I devoured it within hours. The plot is fast paced and keeps you reading, with wild twists every which way.

There were a few things that bugged me, though. One of these is that Jacob from the Twilight series and Jared from The Host are essentially the same character, although different people. They are the same in their traits, mindset, attitudes, and general mentality, and I recognized this almost the second Jared was introduced, which made me feel almost cheated, like I was being fed the same thing I had just read.

Another thing is… well, Meyer can't write. She's a great storyteller, and she has wonderful insight on human nature, but her writing is nearly horrible. She uses a lot of fragments and repetition.

However, the story of The Host makes up for these weaknesses, and is an overall satisfying read. I've found that most people who are either "Team Jacob" or just didn't like the twilight series that much loved The Host (including my mom). I however, loved both series.

I liked the extra chapter that was included in the back of the paperback version of The Host. (It was the chapter that Meyer wrote to learn how Melanie felt after a major event took place in the book. Those of you who have read the book know what I'm talking about, but we'll try to keep this one spoiler-free.) I liked it, but it didn't quite answer all my questions, and it didn't quite feel long enough. It was an extra, however, and didn't impact the rating.

Content/Recommendation: Ages 16+ for some romance (no sex) and violence.

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

Review: Voices Under Berlin

Voices Under Berlin by T.H.E. Hill
Genre: Historical Fiction, Spy

Rating: 2, DNF

I really loved the idea of this book, it sounded great and it won five book awards. But after the first few chapters, I felt like I still didn't know what was going on and I didn't know who the characters were. I love spy books! They are my absolute favorite… but I didn't feel compelled to read this one. And I have come to realize that if I have to force myself to read something, why read it?

The writing was pretty good, and it had some funny lines, but it wasn't enough to keep me reading. I also really liked the phone calls, but still it wasn't enough for me.

I really wish I had liked this one more. However, check out Goodreads and Amazon for more reviews (30+ 4- and 5-star reviews), you will see that I am in the minority.

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

Review: Crime and Punishment

I'm not sure how many of you remember me fighting to get through the audio book of Crime and Punishment over Christmas break last December… but I was. I ranted about it often.

Well, here's the finished essay, with a little bit more added in in the end about the book itself (so it'll count as a review and an essay all at once.) Hope you enjoy.

I did get a pretty good grade, by the way. ;)

**spoilers**

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. read by Anthony Heald.

Genre: Fiction, classic

Rating: 5

Sin, Sentence, and Salvation
The allegory of Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment, one of the more famous works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, is considered “the first great novel of his mature period,” (Frank, 1995) and is one of his more famous books, rivaled only by The Brothers Karamazov. What makes Crime and Punishment such a classic? Perhaps because it is a picture of the only classic, and greatest story of all time. Crime and Punishment is an allegory of Salvation.

Self-justified

The main character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, was a poor student at a university, and was overcome with hate toward an old pawnbroker, and decided to rid the world of her for the greater good of everyone. He believed that she was a “louse,” and since everyone would be happier without her, his actions would be justified. He believed that he had broken the letter of the law only, but that it didn’t have any authority over him anyway because it was written by people just as low as himself. He didn’t believe in God, and in prison he was convinced that he didn’t deserve his treatment, and that it was something he simply needed to get over with. He had no higher authority, so he said “my conscience is at rest.” This is a picture of man before he is touched by the merciful salvation of Christ.

A Troubled Man

Although Raskolnikov justified his actions in killing the old woman, he still felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and fear over what he did. He worked very hard at keeping it a secret, and at first he thought he could live with the guilt that sat in back of his mind, but he was wrong. Raskolnikov had horrible dreams, was always sick, and one of the other characters noticed that he was constantly “set off by little things” for no apparent reason (though the reader knew that it was only because it reminded him of his crime). This represents a man who knows in his heart that he is a sinner, but who will not turn and repent from his sin.

Unending Love

Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov was the daughter of a drunkard who “took the yellow card” and prostituted herself to support her family. Throughout the book, Sonya began to love Raskolnikov. Eventually, Raskolnikov told Sonya his secret. Sonya was horrified, but still loved him and forgave him after her initial shock wore off. As Raskolnikov was fighting inside with his conscience and his sins, he repeatedly snapped at her, refused her comfort, yelled at her, and so on. He was a bitter, angry, hateful man—and yet Sonya forgave him for everything he did to her, and everything he had done in his past. What redeeming quality Sonya saw in the wretch and why she forgave him, one cannot begin to comprehend; aside from the simple truth that Sonya was a loving, gentile, merciful girl. She saw that Raskolnikov needed someone to love him and she reached out to him, even when he repeatedly pushed her away. Sonya’s love for him is a picture of Christ’s unending and perfect love to His sinful people.

A Silent Witness

When Raskolnikov finally broke down and confessed his crime, Sonya moved to Siberia with him. Raskolnikov expected this, and knew that telling her not to come would be fruitless. She visited him often in prison and wrote to his family for him. But although Raskolnikov expected her to preach to him and push the Gospel in his face, she did not. Sonya followed the scripture’s instruction to Christian wives with non-Christian husbands in 1 Peter 3:1—“ Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives…” The verse tells women to be good examples of Christ to their non-Christian husbands rather than to preach to them and try to convert them, and that is exactly what Sonya did, even though she was not married to him. She did not try to convert him with words; rather she won him with her love. She did not push the Testament into Raskolnikov’s hands, he asked for it. When she did bring it, she did not pester him to read it. She had faith, and showed Raskolnikov the love of Christ through her actions. In the end, it paid off. Although Dostoevsky does not specifically say that Raskolnikov was converted, he does imply that he eventually became a Christian when he mused “Can not her own convictions now be mine?”

The truth will set you free

When Raskolnikov finally realized that he loved Sonya, he accepted that he was a criminal, and a murderer. When he finally accepted that he was a sinner, he repented and had a new life in him. He said he felt like “he had risen again” and that Sonya “lived only in his life.” By life, Dostoevsky refers to his mentality. Before, he had been a living dead man in prison. He was hated by his inmates, was almost killed by them in an outbreak, was unaffected by anything that happened to him or his family, and eventually became ill from it all. But after his resurrection, he repented from his sins, learned to move on with his life, and started to change. He began to converse with his inmates, and they no longer hated him. Sonya was alive in his “life” because of her love for him. When he was changed, she was so happy that she became sick with joy, to the point that she was ill in bed. Dostoevsky paints a picture of a redeemed man at the end of his novel—redeemed both by the law, and by God. This picture symbolizes the miracle of salvation through Christ.

An amazing Allegory

Dostoevsky was a wonderful writer because of his use of dialogue to tell the story, his descriptive scenes, his powerfully developed characters, and their inner dialogue. He often times told you that something was happening by only telling you what the character who was speaking at the time said in response to what was going on. For example, if Sonya was standing up, Dostoevsky would write “… ‘hey, what do you stand for?’ for Sonya had stood.”

He also painted such good descriptions of his characters, that by the middle of the book he didn’t have to say that Raskolnikov was musing in the corner of the room, glaring at anyone who was brave enough to look at him, while he stewed in grief under his old ratted cap, because you knew from how well he was described earlier and how well his character was developed from the dialogue, that he was doing exactly that.

His characters are so real, they almost frighten you because you see the things they do and feel and experience reflected in your own life. They are not perfect—in fact they are all incredibly flawed, but they are a joy to read.

His ending is superb, because he closes the story without actually telling you everything. He never says that Raskolnikov was converted, he never says when he got out of prison, and he never says that Sonya and he were married, but you know that it happened. The last scene of the story is so superb, it makes you want to read it again, just to experience the joy all over again.

But what really made Crime and Punishment the classic that it was is the picture of the best story in the world, the classic story of the world, showing through. The story of the Gospel, of Jesus Christ’s unending love and sin and salvation is clearly portrayed, and makes a joyous read.

Works cited:

Quotes are from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1886

Frank, Joseph (1995). Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865–1871. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01587-2. (source found and taken from Wikipedia.com)

1 Peter 3:1 New International Version of The Holy Bible

Audio review: I had a hard time reading the book, simply because it was so huge that it was intimidating. I bought (ouch) the audio book of Crime and Punishment, recorded by Anthony Heald who did a fantastic job reading. His voices for the characters perfectly matched them, he felt for them, and he acted them. None of them were cheesy (yeah you all know how lame some male readers are at acting female voices). He read fast enough that the story didn't drag at all, but not so fast that you'd feel like you'd miss something if you didn't listen hard. I will definitely re-listen to the audio book.

Content: some gruesome descriptions of blood from the murder

Recommendation: Ages 14+

haleyknitzpurpule 

knitter

Cows!

This is hilarious. This is an article written by Kent Hovind of Creation Science Evangelism, an awesome organization with tons of cool science stuff and data against evolution.

Even if you believe evolution, this is FUNNY. It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with Government.

Of Government and Cows.

A light hearted look at governments

Biblical Capitalism:

You have two cows. You take care of them and sell the extra milk.

Feudalism:

Your lord lends you two cows. He takes most of the milk and leaves you some.

Pure Socialism:

You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them into a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

Bureaucratic Socialism:

You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs as the regulations say you need.

Fascism:

You have two cows. The government takes them both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

Pure Communism:

You have two cows. Your neighbors help you to take care of them, and you all share the milk.

Russian Communism:

You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

Cambodian Communism:

You have two cows. The government takes them both and shoots you.

Dictatorship:

You have two cows. The government takes them both and drafts you.

Pure Democracy:

You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

Representative Democracy:

You have two cows. Your neighbors vote for someone to tell you who gets the milk.

American Democracy:

The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the President is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate."

British Democracy:

You have two cows. You feed them sheep brains and they go mad. The government doesn’t do anything.

Bureaucracy:

You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

Environmentalism:

You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

Pure Anarchy:

You have two cows. Your neighbors riot and kill you for trying to sell the milk.

Libertarian / Anarcho-Capitalism:

You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull

Clintonomics:

You have two cows. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

Totalitarianism:

You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

Counter-Culture:

Wow, dude, there’s like... These two cows, man. You got to have some of this milk.

 

Original article copied in it's entirety.

le prom dress

Ok I take horrible pictures. so don’t look at me. Just look at the dress. Know that my hair and makeup will look like this:

breakfast-at-tiffanys

yes just like that.

I’m kidding.

But that’s the way it’s gonna be done up because I’m doing the gala before the prom, and I’m going as Hepburn. :D More on that later.

here’s my dress I found yesterday at goodwill for under $7. Again ignore me, just look at the dress.

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Rock On.

~H

Review: An Earl to Enchant

An Earl to Enchant by Amelia Grey
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 1, DNF

After the first two chapters of this book, I was ready to give up. I gave it a little bit more just to see if it was worth it, and I sort of regret it. I could have been reading something else.

I felt like I knew everything after the first chapter, and that there was no reason to keep going. The character spilled her guts, the sexual tension was immediate and way too strong for a first meeting, and it felt typical. I knew what would happen: They’d meet, they’d sleep together, they’d get married, they’d fall in love. In that order. There was no mystery, there was nothing keeping me reading.

The characters seemed dense and melodramatic. For instance, Arianna fainted in the first chapter, and woke being “carried in strong arms” (the Earl). She “felt safe there for some reason.” But I was thinking the whole time, She doesn’t even know the guy. It felt wrong that she was so attracted to him and “felt safe” and “felt at home” when she—and I as a reader—didn’t even know the character very well. Also, after one argument she’s convinced herself that he’s ill tempered—when he’s not—and that keeps her from being open to him.

The writing wasn’t that great, either. The prose felt forced and hard to read, and the dialogue was awkward. It was as if the characters said more than they needed to, and said everything they thought, and described things unnecessarily. For example,

It’s just that I’m so happy to be outside for the first time in such a long time. I seldom left my room on the ship, and this is the first time I’ve been out of your house. Everything looks fresh and new.”

(Page 108, ARC)

I would have said “It’s just that I’m so happy to be outside for the first time in such a long time.” She had seldom left her room on the ship, and it was her first time outside of his house. Everything looked fresh and new. It’s less awkward... or maybe just less wordy. 

There was just too much against this book to keep me reading. I will say that from what I read, Grey is good at developing the sexual tension. But that was another thing that was just too much for me.

All in all, I was expecting a lot more from the plot and characters than I got from An Earl to Enchant.

An Earl to Enchant was published April 6th. It got 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Please consider other reviews before making purchase decisions.

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

Not happy with socialism in America? Do something about it.

Raise your hand if you are unhappy about the Healthcare Law.

*raises hand.*

hey. I’m influenced positively because of it. I’m going to be benefiting from it. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. It’s wrong.

Ok. ready to do something about it?

My sister and a friend of ours have set up a website and an event: it’s called “send a letter.” here’s the basics:

You write a letter to President Obama, Vice president Mr. Biden, or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. You explain why you think the healthcare bill is wrong, following the guidelines they have, and everyone sends the letter on July 4th.

Brilliant.

I suggest anyone unhappy about where our country is going to participate in this event. Here is the website, and there is a facebook page also.

Remember: Our country started off as a “Democratic Republic”: a country governed by the people, but under the rule of law. Remember what our founding father Franklin said when the woman asked “Sir what have you given us?” he said “A republic, Ma’am, if you can keep it.”

We haven’t done a very good job.

 

This is a video I’ve seen that explains everything. please watch it.

~H

Interview and Tour: Killing Castro

I’m pleased to welcome David Pereda, author of Havana: Killing Castro, to the life and lies today.

Killing Castro is on tour with Goddess Fish. Click here to see the other tour stops and follow the tour.

A quick blurb about Killing Castro: HavanaKillingCastro_600dpi_eBook_Award_copy

When an old fisherman is gunned down on a Mexican beach, prominent Miami surgeon Raymond Peters becomes the prime suspect. The dead fisherman is believed to be Fidel Castro whom Dr. Peters had helped disguise through clandestine plastic surgery on a trip to Cuba two years earlier. But is the body really that of the Cuban leader? In order to save his own life, the beleaguered physician must solve the murder, find the killers and retrieve a mysterious journal. And this has to be done while outwitting a sensual but ruthless assassin named Marcela, sent by Castro’s brother Raul.

1. Why and when did you begin writing?

I stared writing when I was 10. I loved westerns from Zane Grey and Max Brand, so I wrote a western novel titled David Patterson, the Temerarious that my Uncle Antonio typed for me.

2. What inspired you to write Killing Castro?

My ex-wife was a plastic surgeon, and thanks to her, I was able to witness several plastic surgeries. Since I was born in Cuba, I started thinking why not a face-disguising surgery to Fidel Castro? And the idea of Killing Castro was born. I knew it was possible because there had already been cases of drug lords who had altered their looks to escape the law.

3. How did you come up with the title?

My original title was Who Killed Fidel Castro? When I was finishing the manuscript, I wrote a screenplay based on the book with a Hollywood producer. He didn’t like Who Killed Fidel Castro? as the title, so we tested various titles until we settled on Killing Castro. To be coherent, I changed the book title to Killing Castro, too.

4. What books or people influenced your writing? Was it positive influence, or negative?

Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner influenced my writing big time while I was growing up, as well as Zane Grey and Max Brand and Carson McCullers and Truman Capote and Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville and Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jack London and Mickey Spillane, among others. Of course, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Dante and Bocaccio shaped me further. In more recent years, as I got into thrillers, I was heavily influenced by Harlan Coben, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Daniel Silva, David Baldacci, Helen McInnes, Joseph Finder and Dan Brown. All theses influences were positive.

Also positive, and also influential, were people in other occupations, such as art and war. My greatest hero, for his magnificent accomplishments, is Genghis Khan. Close to him are Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh, Dali, Monet, Manet, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and a host of others. In music, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach are nonpareil in the classical sense.

I won’t even get into jazz, which I love.

5. How do you go about researching for your books?

I am a dinosaur like Hemingway and London. I have been blessed by the gods who have given me the opportunity to travel around the world for work and pleasure – which has provided the authenticity of locales and people you see in my writing I have been to ALL the places I describe in my books. . To verify information or research a location I can’t remember well enough, I use the Internet.

6. Did you base any of your characters on real people?

All my characters are based on real people, although not on a one-on-one basis. I’d say 70% of anyone of my characters is a pastiche of different characters I have met around the world. The other 30% is my imagination.

7. What’s the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?

To me the most important part of being a published author is to get good reviews and win awards. Doing readings and other promotional aspects is the hardest part for me. I feel like a monkey on a chain with an organ-grinder nearby making me perform.

8. Do you have any other books planned in the future?

I have several. The first one is the sequel to Killing Castro, tentatively named Twin Powers. I hope to publish that one next year.

9. Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Marcela, the assassin, is my favorite character. Despite the fact she’s a lesbian, all the men who read my books want to be with her and all the women want to be like her. I dislike the characters of Raul and Fidel Castro, and also the fastidious Teceira and the bigoted McCullough.

10. What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?

Never give up. Somebody told me once that I would never be a published author because English was my second language, and I would never be able to master it enough. I have published five novels and won six writing awards already. What happened to the person who told me that, a budding writer himself? Nothing.

Just for fun: 

1. What are your ten most favorite things?

Sex, writing, jumping horses, running track, traveling, drinking great wine, eating gourmet meals, skiing, reading a great book, going to the ballet

2. What do you do when you’re not writing?

All 9 other things above plus a few others, like going to the opera, teaching and swimming.

3. Do you have any pets?

A feral cat named Davie who loves to hunt rabbits and chipmunks

4. What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?

Favorite: Seafood (all), French, Italian, Argentine barbecues, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and, of course, Spanish from Spain.

Least Favorite: Anything greasy and pasta NOT al dente.

5. Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

My office and on my laptop.

6. Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

No

7. If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?

Mongolia

8. What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?

As a child my favorite subject was Math and my least favorite was English. All that changed later. I love the English language – and all languages. I speak and write four.

9. What book are you reading right now?

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

10. Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I have been married five times to wives of different nationalities. I am separated from wife number five right now. Would there be a wife number six, and if so, what would her nationality be?

Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Pereda.

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Here is an excerpt of Killing Castro:

“So what did you want to talk to me about, Raymond?” Pepe stretched on his chair to clink glasses and then took a long pull of his mojito, drinking with his pinkie finger straight up. Raymond shook his head in disbelief as he sipped from his own glass. He put his glass on the table as Pepe gazed at him. “You said it was important.”

“It is.”

“You know who killed Fidel?”

“You mean the fisherman shot dead in Mexico?”

“Yes.” Pepe drained the rest of his drink in one mighty gulp and stared at his empty glass. “Ready for another, Raymond?”

“Not yet.”

“Mind if I have another?”

“Go right ahead.”

“Keep talking.” Pepe leaned forward to refill his glass from the pitcher on the table, settled back in his chair, and took another pull of his drink. “I can drink and listen at the same time. You know who killed the fisherman?”

“I think so.”

“And that’s the reason you’re here?”

“Not really, Pepe. I came to confirm information—and to talk to you in person. As you always say, you never know who’s listening on the phone. By the way, where is Raul?”

“He’s going to join us for dinner tonight. Drink up, Raymond. I’m already finishing my second, and you haven’t really started on your first.”

Raymond sipped his drink thoughtfully. “Remember what you said to me a couple of years ago in Miami?”

“I said many things to you in Miami, Raymond.”

Pepe drained his glass and served himself another. This time he didn’t ask for permission.

“True. I mean, do you remember how you convinced me to come to Cuba with you? You told me that story about us as kids and how you had saved my life?”

“Of course I remember.” Pepe gulped greedily from his third drink.

“Do you? Tell it to me again.”

Raymond laughed amiably. “The same old Pepe, testing me out.”

Pepe laughed too.

“Okay, I’ll tell you—so you’ll know I still remember that story. We were in the park, and I got in a fight with Marcelino. He pulled a knife on me and tripped me. He was about to plunge the knife into me when you knocked him out with a punch. I’d never seen someone hit with such force. Marcelino’s head hit the grass so hard he was out cold several minutes. We were so scared you had killed him, remember?”

“Of course I remember,” Pepe said.

Raymond rose slowly, glowering at Pepe.

“That’s not the story. In the real story, you saved me from drowning in the Almendares River—remember? You’re not Pepe Orozco. And you sure as hell are not Fidel Castro either.” He leaned forward and said in a sharp voice, watching the man’s face blanch, “Who are you?”

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DavidPereda_Photo

Click here to order Killing Castro.

Review: Poetry Speaks

Poetry Speaks Who I Am
Edited by Elise Paschen and Dominique Raccah
Genre: YA, pre-teen, poetry

Rating: 5

Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a collection of classic and contemporary poetry aimed at addressing middle schoolers in their transition from child to young adult. There is a wide range in the collection: classic poetry like Edgar Allan Poe, Langston Hughes, and Emily Dickinson and newer and present poets, some of whom read their work on the accompanying CD.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am has many poems that will apply to every feeling and thought, put words to what we can’t find words for, and prove that yes, there are other people out there who feel like you do now, you’re not the only one. You’re not alone. These poets talk about everything from the awkwardness of changing and showering in the fifth grade locker room to embarrassing bra shopping with mom, to a first kiss. There’s poems about segregation and ethnicity, homework and math class, sports, clothes, and even the emotions brought forth from reading poetry itself.

Not only does it have the poetry, there are pages in the back of artistic inspiring blank pieces of paper for the reader’s own poetry. The CD contains many of the poems read by the poets the way they were intended to be read.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a fantastic collection that every young lit-lover should have on their shelves.

Recommendation: Boys and Girls ages 8+

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

Review: A Distant Melody

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin
Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5

Allie has never been able to please her parents, so she’ll do anything to make them happy, even if it means marrying a man she doesn’t love. Her parents picked Baxter, one of her father’s employees, and she is prepared to marry him, in hopes of leading him to Christ. But when she goes to visit her best friend, Betty, for her wedding, she meets Walter Novak, flyer in the Air Force, and her heart begins to open to him. Allie and Walter write letters while he’s oversees, and Allie tries to anticipate her wedding with her promised fiancé, but as she gets to know Baxter more and more, she begins to have doubts about God’s will for her life—obey and honor her parents and marry a non-Christian in hopes of leading him to Christ, or disobey her parents and refuse to be “unevenly yoked?” And the fact that she’s falling in love with Walt isn’t making anything less confusing.

I adored A Distant Melody. From the second I opened it, it captured my imagination and swept me away.

The plot seemed simple at first, but it kept taking little twists and turns that I didn’t expect. It was suspenseful, but not in a thriller kind of way. There were times when Walt was flying that were very exciting and thrilling, but it wasn’t enough to put it in that genre. It had just enough. The pacing itself was perfect—nothing felt rushed. I hate a rushed romance, it’s implausible. A Distant Melody is the perfect speed. I devoured it within a few hours.

I love these characters! I want more with them!!! One awesome aspect about A Distant Melody is it is not a victim of “happy-land syndrome,” or “perfect plot” syndrome. The story didn’t seem to work out just perfect with everyone happy all the time, and everyone talking about God all the time, and everyone acting like perfect Christians all the time. No, they were real people who sinned and suffered the consequences, both from other people and from their guilt and grief. There were times and parts where you say “Oh no! Now he’s going to think this!” or “Oh no she hasn’t gotten his letter yet!” and so on.  However, their confessions of said sins were also such a key part of the story, and made you love them so much more.

I liked the writing a lot. Sundin has a clear concise way with words, and paints a picture without being poetic. I also loved her wit and humor, and those Sarah-Dessen-like running jokes. You have to love those running jokes that run through the whole book, that make you feel like you’re part of the character’s life.

I know I usually don’t say anything about the cover because generally I don’t care about the cover. In this case, the cover is perfect. It has every detail mentioned in the book, from the right clothing and hairstyles of the characters to the detail work on the air plane.

A very important thing about a Christian novel is it shouldn't feel like it’s preaching at you. There was prayer, Bible verses, hymns and such. But it didn’t feel cheesy and fake: partially because of the characters (as I mentioned above) and partially because although they were mentioned and discussed, they weren’t hammered. Basically, this was not Sundin’s way of publishing a theology book. It’s a novel, and it feels like one.

I think I loved everything about this book. I loved the characters, I loved the writing, I loved the plot and the pacing, I loved the jokes, I even love the cover. I can’t think of one thing that I didn’t like, or that distracted me from the story. I devoured A Distant Melody, thoroughly enjoyed every part of it, and I cannot wait for the next book.

Content: Clean.

Recommendation: Ages 14+

I have an interview with Sarah Sundin and a link to her contest here.

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

ARC Tour

Ok I’ve got a whole slew of ARC’s that I’m willing to do tours with, so I’ll post some recent releases here. Here’s the rules:

  • You can sign up for as many as you want, but I decide which one(s) you get based on signups. Some ARCs can handle more readings than others, so some have more limited spots.
  • You get the book, e-mail me. You review the book, e-mail me. You mail the book, e-mail me. This way we don’t need delivery confirmation.
  • You get up to two weeks to read it. If you don’t finish it, let me know and it can be sent back to you at the end of the tour, or if you’re the last one you can have an extension.
  • Please be careful with them! Some are more durable than others.
  • For now, open to USA and Canada only. If you’re outside of the states and you’d like to be a part of it, leave a comment and let me know. I’ll see if I can put you in the tour somewhere.

ARC’s for tour (click on the titles for my reviews.)

The Language of Secrets

From a fresh and exciting new voice in women's fiction, The Language of Secrets unflinchingly examines the lifelong repercussions of a father's betrayal.

Justin Fisher has a successful career as the manager of a luxury hotel, a lovely wife, and a charming young son. While all signs point to a bright future, Justin can no longer ignore the hole in his life left by his estranged family. When he finally gathers the courage to reconnect with his troubled past, Justin is devastated to learn that his parents have passed away. And a visit to the cemetery brings the greatest shock of all—next to the graves of his father and mother sits a smaller tombstone for a three-year-old boy: a boy named Thomas Justin Fisher.

What follows is an extraordinary journey as Justin struggles with issues of his own identity and pieces together the complex and heartbreaking truth about his family. With great skill and care, Dianne Dixon explores the toll that misunderstandings, blame, and resentment can take on a family. But it is the intimate details of family life—a mother's lullaby for her son, a father's tragic error in judgment—that make this novel so exceptional and an absolute must for reading groups everywhere. The Language of Secrets is the story of an unspeakable loss born of human frailty and an ultimate redemption born of human courage.

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Young Bess

Growing up in the shadow of her dead mother, the infamous Anne Boleyn, young Princess Elizabeth has learnt to be continuously on the watch for the political games played out around her. It is never certain when one might rise, or precariously fall, out of royal favor.

When her distant father, Henry VIII, dies, the future brightens for Elizabeth. She is able to set up a home with Henry's last wife, Katherine Parr who now has a new husband, Tom Seymour. Tom, however, is playing a risky game. Marrying a widowed queen is one thing, flirting with the King's daughter and second in line to the throne is another. As the adolescent Elizabeth finds herself dangerously attracted to him, danger encroaches upon herself and the kingdom.

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A Certain Wolfish Charm

In Lydia dare's debut trilogy, Regency England has gone to the wolves!

He gets crankier and crankier as the moon gets full...

The rules of Society can be beastly-especially when you're a werewolf and it's that irritating time of the month. Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is rich, powerful, and sinfully handsome, and has spent his entire life creating scandal and mayhem. It doesn't help his wolfish temper at all that Miss Lily Rutledge seems not the least bit afraid of him, and in fact, may be as untamable as he is...

A woman whose charm is stronger than the moon...

When Lily's beloved nephew's behavior becomes inexplicably wild, she turns to Simon, the boy's cousin and guardian, for help. But Simon's idea of assistance is far different than hers, and Lily finds herself ensconced in his house and engaged to the rogue.

They both may have bitten off more than they can chew when each begins to discover the other's darkest secrets...

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Lone Star Legend

When Sandy Saavedra lands her dream job with the popular website ¡Latino Now!, she can't wait to write hard-hitting pieces to combat all those stupid Latino stereotypes. While visions of Pulitzers dance in her head, her editor in chief is suddenly laid off, replaced by the infamous Dolores Villanueva O'Sullivan. Dolores has one mission: make ¡Latino Now! an internet phenomenon, no matter how many pandering puff pieces she has to pack onto its pages. Sandy doesn't see how she can keep this job without losing her soul, especially when she's sent to Middle-of-Nowhere Texas to investigate the dumbest legend her people ever created, the Chupacabra. She fears she's about to fail an assignment-and lose her job-until she meets Tío Jaime, a grandfatherly hermit who might be crazy, or might be the best thing that ever happened to Sandy's career.

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Birthmarked

birthmarkedarc

(Hardcover front, but the ARC has the second cover)

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

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Leave a comment telling me which you’d like to sign up for and your state, and e-mail address. Deadline is May 1st

~H

We are indeed cursed

The opinions of the people in my English class surprise me. They shouldn't, but they do. They're all so... different.

 

My opinions are based off the Bible. Abortion is wrong, Capital Punishment is biblical, the lottery is deceitful, smoking is self abuse, Gay marriage is wrong etc. But they all have contradictory beliefs.

 

And the amazing part is, their reasons why they hold these beliefs are all wrong, too. It's like evolution: They have it all worked out for their advantage, they've figured out every loophole and reason and backup piece of data and opinions for what they believe. But the fundamental truth of the Bible is gone.

 

Like I said, it should not surprise me, but it does.

 

It should not surprise me because we live after the curse. We live after the cross. We await the consummation. But it still shocks me what people will believe.
 
Just me rambling in English class. For soem reason I fininsh my assignments before everyone else so I have time to e-mail posts in class... I love computer labs LOL.
 
~H
 

Un-reviews

This is my quick summary of books that I didn’t finish, or didn’t like. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Stagestruck by Peter Lovesey

This book sounded so good! I'm a stage performer so I was really excited to get it. However, upon beginning the book I found it difficult to get into the story, and there was barely any tension to keep me reading. It felt very distant. I have no urge to continue. And I have learned not to waste time on books I have no urge to read.

Quicksilver by Joy Spraycar

I was rather confused by the concept of this book after reading the pitch and the blurb, but it was a werewolf book and I love werewolf books, so I gave it a try. However, even after the first few pages, the word that came to mind was "sappy." I kept reading the dialogue and the interior monologue and thinking "Who says stuff like that?" and even the actions of the characters. I mean, I wouldn't tell a random good looking stranger that I've been having emotionally stirring dreams about him for the past six months. That's an invitation for a stalker. No girl would do that. It felt illogical and it didn't make sense, and I couldn't read past the seventh chapter.

The Meowmorphosis by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook

The concept for The Meowmorphosis was great and it sounded witty and funny. However, it was incredibly dull and dry and put me to sleep several times. I don't know if this is because of the original book--I've never read The Metamorphosis. Maybe it would have been funnier or more interesting to a die-hard Kafka fan. However I couldn't get past page 80.

Beautiful Dead: Summer by Eden Maguire

This was the third book in a series. It wasn't that I was lost—a summary was sent to me to catch me up—but I couldn't connect to the book. I didn't know the characters and I didn't know why I should care about them, because so much of them were presented in the first few books.

Beautiful Mess by Diamond Rio:

I tried reading this book. I really did. I tried five or six times from November to now. It just didn't pull me in, it was exhausting to read, and I really didn't care. I hate not liking books. But it happens. I guess this one wasn't for me.

The Five Secrets from OZ by Steve Garrison:
I read the summary for this one when it was pitched to me, and it sounded like something I’d enjoy. Turns out it went completely against my beliefs.

Magdala by Valerie Gross:
Again, the pitch sounded different. I thought it would be biblical fiction. It ended up being about the supposed love affair between Christ and Mary. It was donated. Hopefully it found a good home.
Stressed in Scottsdale by Marcia Fine

Great voice in her writing... but Sressed in Scottsdale should come with a warning in the front: "Warning, this book will stress you out."

I really can't read a book that stresses me out.

Whiter than Snow by Sandra Dallas:

Sandra Dallas was a great writer with beautiful poetic words and an enchanting voice. But her book started off depressing me. Although she pulled me in and hung on tight... I had to force my way out of her grip because I just can't read books that make me sad. This story was just too sad for me.

The Adventures of the Thundering Whales by Stephen Vadakin

I wasn't pleased with the illustrations and the amount of text in this kids book. There were two pages of verbiage for every one mediocre illustration... regardless of the story, kids can't sit through that. They don't have the patience.

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson

I was excited to read "the scariest vacation thriller ever," since I love crime thrillers and I love Patterson. However, after listening to about ten seconds, a hand went under a shirt (literally). I can't read overly sensual things, it's just not appropriate, and if that was in the first few pages, I knew I couldn't finish listening to it.

Warning: Republican rant ahead

Ok. So now that we’re a socialist country, which of you wants to pay for my college education while I sit here and read books all day?

I’m kidding.

but that’s what it feels like.

I have to support and honor my president. I’m not going to tell you all about my opinions on what he’s doing (and not doing) because I don’t want to dishonor him. God put him there. Even though I wouldn’t have.  but God is a whole lot smarter than me. And He’s perfect.

I’m not.

Which is why I’m not God!

*end of rant*

~H

Contest frenzy, Haley?

You may be realizing that I have like… a million giveaways going on right now. It’s for a good reason, I promise.

I want to get them all done and out of my house and clear on my database before summer break and before school starts. And this is maybe… two thirds of the giveaways I have planned.

So please, enter and spread some link love, and when I transfer, you’ll see that they’ll all come to a startling halt… because I’ll be broke. And I’ll be busy. And I won’t be doing scheduled reviews.

Yeah. I’m not sure if anyone has seen my sidebar lately, but in May I’m cutting of my scheduled reviews. That means that I won’t be scheduling any more. I’ll still do all the ones I’ve planned, but starting May is when I say “no way.”

dude that totally just rhymed.

Sorry ;)

~H

Book Signing at UCLA!

Any readers out in California? Susan Jardine will be signing copies of her novel THE CHANNEL at the Book Publicists of SoCal Booth #143 (Wilson Plaza) on Saturday & Sunday, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Hope to see you there.  It is the largest book festival in the USA, with over 300 vendors, World-class authors appearing on stages and in UCLA's Halls.  A full Children's area and stage, food courts.  Make a day of it.  It is the most exciting event.  A renaissance fair for book lovers.  So much fun, and you never know what famous author you may meet.  It is covered by major TV and radio stations.  Exciting for sure.

 

So any readers out there, go grab a copy of THE CHANNEL and visit the book signing. I reviewed THE CHANNEL back in January and loved it! check out my review for more about The Channel, or you can go to Susan’s website here.

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

Review: How To Survive Your Freshman Year

How To Survive Your Freshman Year
Published April 1st 2010 by Hundreds of Heads Books
Genre: Advice

Rating: 3.75

How To Survive Your Freshman Year contains a truckload of information: at nearly 400 pages and contributions from tons of college students all over the world, it’s not exactly a fast read. How To Survive Your Freshman Year is like an encyclopedia of tips and tricks for Freshman on every topic you can think of, and probably some you didn’t think of.

Twenty chapters and an appendix full of useful information, This book is a great tool for upper class High-schoolers and college Freshman—and even parents—who have questions and concerns, or are just curious and looking for information, or just don’t know what to expect.

I would, however, use with caution. How To Survive Your Freshman Year gathers advice from everyone—Jews, Christians, Atheists, Homosexuals, etc. so there are contradictory pieces of advice, sometimes right next to each other. The thing about this book is you have to know yourself pretty well in order to use it. You have to decide which pieces of advice are suitable for you, which follow your beliefs, and which you should pretend you never heard. The book does post this disclaimer inside it:

Warning: This Guide contains differing opinions. Hundreds of Heads will not always agree. Advice taken in combinations may cause unwanted side effects. Use your Head when selecting advice.

I think this is a reasonable disclaimer, as it’s very true that there are some very opposite viewpoints in here.

Also, some of the information in here is common sense—then again, it may be common to me but not to someone else because of the way I was raised—and those pieces of advice are just taking up space on a page.

And then there was, in my opinion, also a lot of really dumb advice: like sleep with people, it’s ok to goof off your first term, college is about having fun, bring a fake ID. (note these are not direct quotes, they are summaries of various reoccurring pieces of advice.)

All in all, however, the book is beneficial and worth the buy, especially to brand new college students. I don’t attend a university yet, I attend a community college. I’ve found that a lot of the information and advice I have already gone through and experienced, but there were some other helpful things on topics I’ve yet to encounter, such as large lectures and dorms and vacations/study abroad and a few other things.

Content/Recommendation: There is some colorful language used to prove points in some quotes. There is a chapter on dating and sex. But, the age recommendation is to highschool and Freshman college students and parents, so it’s age appropriate. There is also some mention of religions and beliefs, and the word God is changed to G-d, probably to keep from offending some people.

 haleyknitzpurpule

knitter

Disclaimer

Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.
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