Friday, March 30, 2018

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.75 stars.
When I heard of the movie, I knew I was going to read this. It’s always fun to read the book, then watch the movie. I’m seeing the movie later today and hope it won’t disappoint. After all, it’s Spielberg.
The book is a lot of fun, and as a nerdish geek, I recognized a lot of the references and kept reading with a smile on my face. I thought the book was a young-adult novel, but there were a few instances of bad language and a couple of F bombs, so no, it’s not for kids. But it did read like a book for teens, even though the references from the 80’s that this book is full of, are meant for people in their 30’s and above.
The first part was a bit slow, and there were a lot of moments when I wanted to be over with the book and go read something else. But something changed with the second half. I loved most of it; it was full of action and tension.
I also liked the characters a lot. Their interactions reminded me of the days of internet chats, when you made friends online but had no way to know how they looked like. So many of my girlfriends in the 00’s were disappointed when they at last met face to face with their online boyfriends, ha, ha!
I liked Aech a lot. I did a foolish thing and checked the movie page during my reading, and it took away a great twist, but it was still fun to read the part with Aech’s and Parzival’s first meeting in real life. And the last page where Parzival and Art3mis at last met irl brought tears to my eyes.
The author’s hard work and research was present on every single page. It’s always a pleasure to read books full of so much effort and hard work. This is not a serious literature and it never claims to be one. It’s pure entertainment for the sake of entertainment. A geek’s dream come true. And it’s great to see that a person’s geekiness has paid off. The details about Halliday and Morrow’s life were so meticulous that they seemed to be real people with real biographies. Oasis was well-thought and sounded like a dream place for every geek in this world.
And considering that Steven Spielberg is directing Ready Player One, reading the phrase about Spielberg possibly directing Ladyhawk made me laugh out loud. Talk about life and unexpected possibilities.
Overall I liked this book a lot and am waiting to see the movie. My only complaint is that there was no word about my all-time favorite Mario Bros. And Zelda, too.
P.S. I found two grammatical errors. Even the trads aren’t immune to them.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Words of the Day

If you've read my older posts, you know I love writing down unfamiliar, strange, and interesting words from the books that I read into my notepads. I'm filling the 4th notepad now and have decided to once in a while post the new words on my blog.
So here are the words of the day:

filigree - ornamental work of fine (typically gold or silver) wire formed into delicate tracery

gossamer - a film of cobwebs floating in air in calm clear weather; something light, delicate, or insubstantial

chutzpah - extreme self-confidence or audacity (usually used approvingly)

infinitesimal - an indefinitely small quantity; a value approaching zero

genuflect - lower one's body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect

armistice - an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce

beribboned - decorated with many ribbons

camaraderie - mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together

venal - showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery; corrupt


Most of the words come from George Martin's books. But not only. I don't know which word came from which book, and it doesn't really matter. This is just another proof that books are the best source of knowledge in the world.
Enjoy the new words!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Shape of Water and Other Movies That I Hate

Please don't say you've loved this movie. And if you do, please say you're joking. Being a sci-fi and mystery fan, I'd heard of this movie, but having lost all interest in Oscars long time ago (I think it was after Eminem won for the best original song), I didn't know this was the best movie of the year. Best movie of the year, meaning this is on the same level with Ben-Hur and Gone with the Wind.
For the last few evenings each time my boyfriend would ask what we could watch, I'd say "The Shape of Water." I was genuinely curious about Del Toro's latest movie. I'm not his biggest fan; moreover, most of the time I don't like his movies, but the "The Shape of Water" kept popping up everywhere over the Web, so I wanted to see what was all the buzz about.
Little did I know what I was getting us into.
The opening credits were nice, but after the first 20 minutes I wanted to turn the movie off. I was bored out of my mind. And it didn't help when in the first 10 minutes into the movie I saw the heroine masturbating in her tub twice. What else did I see? A most insipid, uninteresting, blank, boring, cliche, Mary-Sueish character ever. Damn it, Eliza annoyed the hell out of me; I can't remember the last time I've felt so much dislike toward a movie character. She was worse than the Mary-Sue queen Bella Swan from "Twilight." Who says that a mute character needs to be mentally impaired? Why? Or was she not mentally ill? Of course she was, otherwise she wouldn't be screwing a fish. There are a lot of movies about mentally disabled people (I Am Sam, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Rain Man), and they are honest with the audience about the character's mental state, but "The Shape of Water" seems to be telling us that Eliza wasn't mentally ill. Her only disability is that she can't talk. And she claims that's the reason she's become attached to the amphibian creature in the lab where she's a cleaner.
Because he can't talk either and doesn't see her muteness as a fault. I'm sorry but the same thing can be said about our pets. Our cats and dogs love us despite our faults and disabilities, but we don't go home and get into the tub with them.
Because they are freaking animals, that's why!!!

So this creature is brought from somewhere from the South America and is kept in a top secret lab with camera surveillance and high security, and somehow this insipid character of Eliza has no trouble getting inside and treating the creature with eggs. Okay, she could carry the eggs in her pockets, but how did she bring that freaking gramophone into the lab, turned it on and began listening to music with the creature?

The creature. I keep calling it "the creature" for a reason. This is not a being with reason equal to a human. No, this is an amphibian creature which might be standing some steps above a frog on the evolution ladder, but far lower than a human. It behaved a lot like a primate, a chimpanzee or a gorilla. Can you imagine a human being falling in love and banging a chimpanzee?
The evil military guys wanted to kill the creature, so Eliza kidnaps it and keeps it in her bathtub, then, after a second of hesitation, gets naked and finds the creature's sexual organ.
No, I'm not making this all up!
And when her best friend learns about it she isn't outraged, isn't disgusted. She laughs. She calls the creature a "thing", but she laughs that her best friend has had sex with that thing.

What is the idea behind this movie? That a lonely woman is so desperate she's ready to bang anything resembling a male? That bestiality is okay? No, damn it, it's not okay! This is not about orientation and freedom, this is about having sex with a male frog. And because the creature was presented not as an amphibian (hu)man, but a beast that chewed off the cat's head, the whole scene felt disgusting. A human that possesses a higher reason took advantage of a creature who didn't possess equal reason. He chewed off the cat's head, for God's sake! And Eliza's neighbor said something like "he's a wild creature." A wild creature!
And nowhere during the movie I got the feeling that the beast also had feelings for Eliza. It was always Eliza acting horny and clinging to the creature.
When halfway through the movie my boyfriend asked me "how do you think this stupidity is going to end?" I said, "they'll fall into the water and live happily after." Could this movie have been a little less predictable?
By the way, this story is not original. There's an older one, The Amphibian Man, a 1962 Soviet movie based on a novel by A. Beliaev. It's a wonderful story about human nature and love. And the love story is beautiful and tragic.Considering that The Shape of Water takes place in the 1962, it might be a little homage from Del Toro to The Amphibian Man. Or maybe I'm just seeing things that aren't there.
There's another movie about an amphibian man, Waterworld with Kevin Costner, and in both cases we have a hero that is human as well as amphibian, not an amphibian animal that becomes the love interest just because it's bipedal and hides a penis somewhere under his scales. How did Eliza even know the creature was male. It could be female or a hermaphrodite? Would she still decide to have a sexual encounter with it?
That's one of the million problems of this movie. The plotholes were so big I could ride a truck through them. 
Other problems: 
  • the cartoonish, over-the-top evil for the sake of being evil bad guy. Did we really need to see how he was buying a car? Or how he was peeing without holding his member? Or how he was banging his wife? Or that he for some unknown reason developed a sexual desire for blank and uninteresting Eliza, told her about his lewd desire, and the movie never got back to that story line again,
  • the stupid Soviet spy doctor, whose every action spoke about lack of brains,
  • Eliza's neighbor who didn't seem very upset that the creature ate his cat. Oh well, he had some more,
  • the way the creature ran away and no one saw it, then got into a movie theater that was empty but for some reason the movie was playing, then was taken back by Eliza, and again no one saw it,
  • that for some reason they had to wait for the rains to release the creature, even though the water was there all the time,
  • that Eliza filled her bathroom with water that reached the ceiling so that she could keep banging the animal,
  • that the dying creature suddenly gained back its strength for no reason, and so on and on and on...
I don't get it. And I'm happy for that. I'm happy that I don't see it, because I don't think this movie was normal. I felt ashamed just by watching it. 

Is this some kind of hidden propaganda? I'm someone who's always taken all those propaganda talks with a grain of salt, but I seriously don't understand what's going on. When did this stupidity began? Maybe when a grown-up character from a teen's book chose a 5 year old girl as his soulmate and the fans thought it was beautiful? Maybe even earlier?

I'm giving up on Hollywood. It's a disgusting swamp with disgusting and stupid movies. Here are  other movies that have received huge praise and which I absolutely hated because of the stories' mediocrity:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: one of the silliest, most boring and illogical movies I have recently watched

Mad Max: Fury Road: fell asleep three times before they reached the desert

Terminator: Genisys: be damned everyone involved in this atrocity

Alien: Covenant: again, be damned

Life: the 5 most unprofessional and stupid astronauts in the whole world end up on the same spaceship

Warrior: where do I even start with this one?


Deadpool: absolutely idiotic story line about an ungrateful idiotic character

Django Unchained: so out of logic I couldn't believe it's so highly rated

Hunger Games: shaky camera and paper-thin plot. Also, I liked it more when it was called The Running Man,

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: so bad, disjointed and meaningless I almost walked out of the movie theater

Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets: I'll talk of this travesty separately

There are more, but I'm tired of writing. Hollywood movies are becoming more and more absurd, but at the same time are bringing more money. Where's the logic?

I love movies; have always loved them and have watched thousands of A, B, C, and Z category movies, but I'll better watch Terminator 1 and 2 for the 238765438th time then waste my hard-earned money on anything new that Hollyweird produces. I've had enough.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How Do I Make Covers?

Do you ever wonder how book covers are made?
Actually, it's one of my favorite parts of writing and publishing a book. I don't know how the publishing houses order their covers, but here's how I do it:

Usually I get the idea of the cover while I'm still writing the book. Depending on what's going on in the story, I envision what I'd love to have on the cover. I won't be falsely modest here; I think that all my covers are beautiful. Maybe it's because all of them were made by the a professional designer.
But before the designer begins, I sketch the cover myself or fix something together in Adobe Photoshop.

This is what I had sketched for the last Witch Hollow book.


And this is how it came out in the end:
http://bit.ly/whbook6

Me and my boyfriend (who's now also my cover-maker) ended up with exactly what I had envisioned. I wanted the town of Hollow to be placed inside a snow-ball, and here it is, Hollow in winter inside a snow ball.

Here's the process of making another one of my recent covers:


Again, from the very beginning I had been thinking about a torn Teddy bear on a windowsill. And for a very long time I was looking for an old teddy to snap its photo and place it on the cover. Some people promised me the bear, then disappeared. I searched until I realized that I could just buy the necessary image from istock websites. Yeah, I was a bit slow and it delayed the publishing of my first horror book for a few months, but in the end I got exactly what I wanted:

http://bit.ly/bdtst


Things were a bit harder with Abracadabra. At first I thought I wanted to have a castle on the cover -- the Witchcraft Academy. But after a bit of research I found myriads of covers with castles and palaces and knew I needed something else. Something simple yet subtle. Something that would stand on its own among so many covers with teenage girls and boys and wizards in cloaks.
So I began making my own cover in Photoshop:


After I knew what I wanted, my boyfriend did the professional part. The cover was red in the beginning, because red is such a noticeable cover, but a few days before the release date, I changed the cover to green. Because the badges of the first-years at the Academy are green:

http://bit.ly/abracadabra1

The cat, the broom, the cauldron -- Witchcraft Academy's coat of arms. 
I think it's beautiful and hope my readers agree.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Review From the Reader's Favorite

Yay! I've got a 5 STARS review from the Reader's Favorite. How great is that! And I submitted the review request without a payment. Submitting a review request without a payment gets you a lower chance to receive a review, but Abracadabra got a review nevertheless.
Please do not confuse the submission fee with a paid review. Reader's Favorite is a respected website and does not sell reviews. But they receive so many review requests that they have to ask for a submission fee to guarantee you a review. And that review can be anything, from 1 to 5 stars.

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/abracadabra


You can read the review here: Reader's Favorite. Liz Konkel, the reviewer, went into great details and said everything better than I could do.

There's also a GIVEAWAY on the Reader's Favorite. You can find the book by the author or the title and get it for free.

Another great news for me is that because Abracadabra has received a 5 star review, it will be emailed to 500.000 email subscribers free of charge. I have never been a part of such a massive subscription list, so I'll keep you updated on how everything went.

A Review from The Life of a Bastard

Such a pleasant surprise on my birthday! Damien from The Life of a Bastard blog has posted a very nice review on Amazon and Goodreads for Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy. You can see the review by clicking on the cover of "Abracadabra" below.
http://www.lifeofabastard.com/bastards-review/2018/3/17/abracadabra-the-witchcraft-academy-ya-by-irena-davidian

Damien has also started a giveaway for Abracadabra, so if you want to get the e-book for free, here's the LINK. No purchase is necessary to enter the giveaway and it ends on March 23th, so hurry up!

I was very lucky that Damien picked up my book. I think I'd contacted at least 60 reviewers and all of them were buried under huge piles of review requests. It's getting harder and harder to get reviews from the book bloggers: too many books, too little time. I think I need at least another 5 reviews to even think about a Bookbub promotion. They say Bookbub is the best, and the rest don't even come close, so let's wait and see if I'll ever get a Bookbub promo. It's hard, guys, really hard, but don't give up on your dreams. Nothing comes easily. We just need to keep trying and trying, over and over again.

Stay well,
Your loving witch!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Happy Birthday, Witch!

It's my 100th birthday today, and I couldn't be happier. 🎈🎁🎂 I am working on the 2nd book of "Abracadabra" series, as well as a young-adult sci-fi about humans and androids living together (or rather, trying to). I'm not very active on social media recently, as I'm working on 2 books at the same time, and also doing a lot of reading of the ARCs that I receive from Netgalley. But I love posting on my blog, so won't be away for too long.
While I'm gone enjoy one of my favorite songs by Faun.



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trads vs Indies

So, recently I began accepting books from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. If you don't know what Netgalley is, it's a virtual space, where the publishers offer advance review copies (ARC) to reviewers, to garner reviews for their upcoming books. I thought if I'm so poor and cannot afford to buy books from the trads, then I'll get their books free of charge and will improve my writing by reading wonderful books by the amazing trads.


And you know what? Traditionally published authors do not write better than the indies. Nope, they don't. I've read books by indie authors that have been amazing, and I'm now reading books by traditionally published authors that are dull, uninteresting and badly written. 
Know what that means? We're better than we thought! Aright, maybe you already knew about it, but I used to think that all the trads were these brilliant authors with brilliant writing skills and vocabulary. I was so wrong. But then, if they're not better, why are they traditionally published?
Hmmm...
I guess there's such thing as luck. Connections. Let me think a bit more... I guess that's all. You need to be lucky. But if you're not, still it's not a reason to be sad. It's not all about luck. Finish your book and publish it independently. And if you're lucky, your book will get noticed... oh, wait...


 Damn it!!

 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Read and Gone by Allison Brook

Read and Gone (The Haunted Library Mysteries, #2)Read and Gone by Allison Brook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions are my own.

3 stars out of 5.
When I read the blurb of the book, I thought it was going to be an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. Since I’m a huge Dame Christie fan, I couldn’t pass this one. I’ll be honest here: I’m a bit disappointed. While I can’t say that I hated the book, I enjoyed it less than I’d been expecting.

This is apparently a second book in a series, but you don’t have to read the first one, as it stands on its own in terms of the story and characters.
The story. While not bad per se, it was a bit dull for my taste. The murderer’s identity wasn’t a big surprise and didn’t make me go “WOW!”. From the very beginning it was obvious to me that Carrie had made a wrong assumption regarding a certain character and a certain conversation. That was probably the weakest part of the mystery.

The pace was slow and there were too many characters and mundane situations. This was no Christie, but more a Janet Evanovich type of book, with lots of secondary characters, a lot of dialogs and descriptions of things like eating, cleaning the table, watching the TV...
Another thing that bugged me was the ghost. But it was solely my fault. When I read the blurb I wasn’t attentive enough and didn’t take the “ghost” part seriously. Turned out there really was a ghost, and it took me out of the story a bit. I hadn’t been requesting a paranormal story, but again, solely my fault.

But there were also things that I liked.
The setting: I like mysteries and murders in small towns where everyone knows each other and anyone can be a suspect, and “Read and Gone” was exactly that kind of mystery.
The writing was good, too: smooth and easy to follow. It was a surprise for me to spot grammatical mistakes in a traditionally published book, but I hope they’ll be fixed before the book goes live.

Do I recommend “Read and Gone”? Yes. If you want a 3-hour entertainment with a mug of hot cocoa on a rainy day, then this book is for you. Enjoyable characters, a murder mystery and some snarky dialogues. If this sounds like your type of book, then by all means give it a try. If you’re looking for a fast paced detective story that will leave you breathless, then look somewhere else.

P.S. Big thanks to the publisher for the advance review copy.

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Doctor Sleep will put you to sleep. Literally.
One of the least scary and most boring horror books in my life. Sometimes I just don't get King. These are his books, so he's the one to decide what to do with them, but doesn't he think that one of the most chilling horror novels called "The Shining" deserves a better sequel?
If he's got beta-readers, then they're failing him badly.

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The Mage and the Magpie by Austin J. Bailey

The Mage and the Magpie (Magemother, #1)The Mage and the Magpie by Austin J. Bailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sadly, did not finish. Stopped at 40%.
But this is by no means a bad book. It was a nice YA fantasy and I’m sure a lot of interesting things were going to happen. It was just not for me. There’s magic, mages, a kingdom in another world, but it seemed to me that story is more for 9-12-year-olds, and even though there are books written for even a younger audience that I enjoy, this one was just not for me.
The e-book is free, so if you love the genre then by all means give it a try.


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