Monday, August 22, 2016

A Tale of Two Blogs, the First Amendment, and the Word "Official"

There has been some drama lately in my neck of the indie book universe. And you know what, I'm just going to be honest with you, I like drama. I like following drama (I'm a recovering gossip rag addict), and I even like being involved in drama, at least when I'm in control of my involvement. I bet, if you're honest with yourself, you probably like drama a little bit too, although you may avoid engaging. I don't always take that path, like now. I was actually going to stay out of this drama because I thought it was over and done with last Friday, but it resurfaced today, and I don't want to be quiet anymore.

You see, two bloggers, from separate blogs, that I am quite fond of, are currently being maligned, largely because the person maligning them does not seem to understand that words have meanings, specific meanings. If you want to know half of the full story, you can read this post by Joood - Hooligan (it has a link to the original post from the maligner too, so really, it's almost a one-stop shop for the whole backstory, both sides). And for the third half of the story, you can read this post from T of IABB.

 If you don't want to read those posts right now, basic summary of the situation is that things got a little tense on a confession on IABB on Thursday, and a person was banned from the page (because she was the one escalating the situation and making/keeping things tense). She wrote a ranty blog post (I love ranty blog posts and make them from time to time myself, like now) about how her First Amendment rights were being violated because she was banned. Joood - Hooligan took it upon herself to write a reply to that blog post on her own blog, Platypire Reviews, defending T. When T got back online a couple hours later after regrouping from being attacked on her own Facebook page, she wrote her own response, of sorts. Most of us thought it was over at that point. Everyone said their piece, it was done. 

Until this evening when the banned person decided to send an email to Joood - Hooligan (since she'd posted the "official" reply to the original ranty blog post...Are you still with me here?) You should all be familiar with Joood - Hooligan around here by now, and the fact that she's with Platypire Reviews, at least if you've read any of my Joood's Reviews you will be. She does not run IABB, so she is not in the position to be posting official responses to anything on IABB's behalf. She helps out with the graphics (along with a slew of other volunteers) and I believe she is also a page editor, largely for helping to make sure confessions get posted every Thursday when T isn't around (because we addicts suffer some serious withdraw when we don't get our confessions.) But she was speaking as herself in defense of T and IABB in her post on her own blog (you can clearly see that if you choose to read it). 

The screenshot you see above was posted on her profile, and you can clearly see that she is continuing to harp on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Just to be clear, this is what the First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Congress shall make no law. But as many people on various posts throughout the inter web (many of them not even remotely related to this issue), freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. The First Amendment does not prevent a Facebook page owner from deleting comments that they don't want posted on their page. It doesn't prevent them from banning people that are consistently troublesome. It doesn't do those things, because Facebook page owners are NOT the government. The government is who the First Amendment protects you from, not average citizens. And if you check out T's post (linked above) you will see a screenshot of the rules of confessions, which clearly state that negative confessions that name drop will not be posted under any circumstances (and since this issue was blown up so big to begin with, I imagine T is deleting any confessions that might possibly allude to it, name dropping or no, because it would be pretty obvious to us addicts who those confessions are about to begin with.) 

This brings us to the word "official." Like I said, Joood - Hooligan is not in a position to be posting any official responses because she is not in charge of IABB. She can post all the responses she wants to on her blog, Platypire Reviews, but that doesn't make them "official" responses. It just makes them responses. Like this, this is not an official response to anything. This is just me stepping up to my podium and telling you my opinion on this issue. And I obviously need to state that, so that certain parties don't think I've posted an "official" response to their Facebook wall posts, even though I have no actual affiliation with either Platypire Reviews or IABB aside from friendly ribbing (because my Joood's Reviews are really just making fun of Joood - Hooligan after all.) To reiterate, these are MY opinions, and only my opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of Joood - Hooligan, Platypire Reviews, or IABB. This is totes not official. 

I realize some of you are probably thinking I should have just left this alone, because you know, don't feed the trolls. But like I said at the beginning, I like drama, and sometimes feeding the trolls can be fun. 

Katie out. 

P.S. Joood - Hooligan is super sexy. (She made me say that.) 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

*Review* My Delicate Destruction by Jillian Ashe

Genre: Science Fiction
Published: May 18, 2014 (Republished July 26, 2016)
Pages: 278


They Promised her Hope...

My name is Katerina Anderson. In 2016, a drug called Hope was created. Administered during suspended animation, the drug was supposed to cure the cancer my twin brother and I had. When an earthquake leveled Los Angeles, we were presumed dead. 

Forgotten, we slept. 

The day I woke up, I realized everything had changed. My brother was missing, and everyone else I knew was dead. I booked passage on a ship to find Kris. The government thinks I'm a criminal and the cure did more than just cure my cancer. My brother is the only one who might have the answers I need, but that drug and all its false hope set me on a path I'm not sure I can follow.

Will I find my twin and learn exactly what they did to me before it's too late?

My Delicate Destruction now contains Shadows in Darkness


I read this book in two separate parts (like I would have before when it was actually two separate books, My Delicate Destruction and Shadows in Darkness), so I wrote two separate reviews that I'm going to smash together here into one single, disjointed review. I was hired to proofread this book, and I believe the author is aware that I review books after I proofread them, but a review was not part of our agreement. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

This is the first book in the series, but it's not the first one I've read. I started with the prequel novella, which is barely related to this book and should really probably be read afterwards (although that's not really necessary because they don't really connect) and then read book #5 (now 4), so now I'm going back to get the detailed backstory. I already knew the basic highlights of this book because of my personal approach to the series. 

One of my favorite parts of this book is how the author separated the two timelines in the main character's life. It is a very quick, but very clear delineation without flat out stating how much time passes, which allows you to discover that information at the same time she does.

I felt a deep connection with Kat, but some of that might be because I've already read book 5 (now 4) in the series. I didn't feel much of a connection to Kris, but that didn't really bother me. 

The second half of the book picked up right where My Delicate Destruction had previously ended (you know, like you expect the second half of a book to do after the first half. There may have been a slight change from before since they have now been combined into one book though.) We see even less of Kris in this part of the book than we saw in the first half, and I still felt next to no connection with him. My connection with Kat continued to grow deeper, and there were a few times where I got super happy excited for her. I also got to witness an event that was talked about in book 4 of the series. 

Overall I give this 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

My readers are what's important to me. Yes, I write for myself and the enjoyment of it, but I adore when a reader actually has a great time reading a story I slaved over. I don't write any particular genre, but I do stick to kick-ass female characters. I love writing about all types of differently strong women. My debut series is Young Adult Science Fiction. The first novella is free to see if you enjoy what I write.

I'm very involved with my fandoms, and love all things geeky and nerdy. I love connecting with my readers, so if you'd like to contact me just head over to my website :)

Jillian Ashe

*Review* Red Queen by Christina Henry

Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Published: July 12, 2016
Pages: 298


The author of Alice takes readers back down the rabbit hole to a dark, twisted, and fascinating world based on the works of Lewis Carroll...
The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. A place where Alice could finally rest, no longer the plaything of the Rabbit, the pawn of Cheshire, or the prey of the Jabberwocky. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash—and hope is nowhere to be found.
Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King.
The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen...


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

After reading Alice, I was super excited to get the chance to read Red Queen too (and guaranteed my copy through Penguin First to Read). I found myself a bit let down by Red Queen after the high bar set by Alice. Where Alice was exciting, imaginative, and action packed, Red Queen seemed dull and uninspired by comparison. Alice gripped me from the beginning. Red Queen didn't really grab my attention until almost the end.

There were a few twists that I didn't really expect, but it was nothing particularly earth shattering for me (and they all came at the end of the book, so my stubbornness and refusal to DNF books is pretty much the only reason I even got to them). 

The book wasn't bad, but it did not live up to my expectations after reading Alice (and if you didn't really absolutely need to read Alice before reading Red Queen for the story to fully make sense, I would suggest starting with Red Queen). Overall I give it 3 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

Christina Henry is the author of the Chronicles of Alice, which began with Alice, and the national bestselling Black Wings series featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle Beezle. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

*Review* Hustling Hitler by Walter Shapiro

Genre: Non-Fiction
Published: June 14, 2016
Pages: 446


From acclaimed journalist Walter Shapiro, the true life story of how his great-uncle—a Jewish vaudeville impresario and exuberant con man—managed to cheat Hitler’s agents in the run-up to WWII.
Vaudeville manager, boxing promoter, stock swindler, card shark and self-proclaimed "Jade King of China," Freeman Bernstein was a master of exuberant excess and no stranger to the hard-hand of the law. But the charges he was arrested for on the evening of February 18, 1937, outside of a Hollywood starlet's home, were more serious than those he had ever encountered before. The most powerful and feared man in the world--Adolf Hitler--claimed that Bernstein had committed fraud against the German government. While living in Shanghai in 1936, Bernstein had been asked to procure a large quantity of nickel for the Germans. Nickel was essential to make stainless steel for armaments, and impossible at that time for Germany to openly buy on the international markets. When the shipments arrived from Canada, bearing Bernstein's stamp of approval, the Germans found only huge, useless quantities of scrap metal and tin: a huge blow to their economy and war preparations. 

All his life, journalist Walter Shapiro assumed that the outlandish stories about his great uncle Freeman were exaggerated pieces of family lore; a cockamamie Jewish revenge fantasy dreamt up to entertain the kids and venerate their larger-than-life relative. But in recent years, Shapiro decided to search for the truth, and in this fascinating exploration of Bernstein's life, he investigates the incredible possibility that a New York Jew--born to in 1874 to Polish immigrants--may have been responsible for a critical shortage of Nazi resources in the early years of World War II. 

Shapiro's easy narrative naturally evokes Bernstein's colorful world: from the smell of the grease paint backstage in a seedy turn-of-the-century vaudeville house in Bayonne, to the roar from the ringside seats of a top-rated 1923 middleweight bout in Mexico City, and the ominous sense of what it must have been like for an American Jew to be arranging shady business dealings in Germany in 1936. A thrilling and page-turning read, Hustling Hitler is the untold story of the larger-than-life, eternal hustler who changed the course of history.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

I have mentioned in the past that I've always been fascinated by the European theater during WWII, so this book should have been a touchdown for me. Sadly, it was flatter than Tom Brady's footballs. 

I was drawn in by the promise of the story about a Jewish vaudevillian conning Hitler and then made to wait until page 348 to read about it. I'm pretty sure the book spent more time talking about Mae Ward and her varying number of Dresden Dolls than it did talking about the Hitler Hustle. Freeman Bernstein supposedly led this really interesting life, but it came across tedious and boring (and I really kind of wanted the jerk to get his comeuppance.) 

This book has a lot of facts, at least I assume they are facts because the bibliography at the end is extensive. I really didn't care about most of them though, because they had nothing to do with Freeman Bernstein at all, let alone the Hitler swindle. 

If I had realized that this book was a whole life biography of Freeman Bernstein, I never would have requested it. 2 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

Political columnist Walter Shapiro is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law and a lecturer in political science at Yale. He won the 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Award for best online columnist for his work as a senior correspondent at Politics Daily.

An award-winning audio engineer for over forty years, Tom Perkins has expanded his skills to narrating and has more than sixty titles to his credit. He learned by working with the world's best voice talent during his career, and he continues to engineer a variety of projects.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

*Review* Rescued Poems by Saket Suryesh

Genre: Poetry
Published: October 20, 2014
Pages: 59


Poems written on spur of moment and left to live in social media posts, loose pages, and book covers, collected and published here.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review.

This collection of poems felt very disjointed, which makes sense because it's a collection of random poetry that apparently didn't fit into other collections (according to the introduction). I wish I could say that at least some of them touched my soul, but I can't. There was very little resonance for me, and a month post reading them, I can only vaguely even remember what they were about. (I feel like that is a bit of a personal failing though.) 

Overall I give Rescued Poems 3 out of 5 stars because it wasn't bad, but it didn't do much for me. - Katie

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About the Author

This is third poetry collection by Saket, other two being "Songs of Desperation, Hope and Love"  and "A Walk Through Nature" with Marta Moran Bishop, a brilliant poet and writer. Saket lives in Delhi and is currently working on his first full-length fictional novel.

*Review* The ABCs of Adulthood by Deborah Copaken

Genre: Self-Help/Parenting
Published: April 19, 2016
Pages: 72


Here's a book of wit and wisdom that's perfect for any "welcome to the adult world" moment. From New York Timesbestselling author Deborah Copaken and noted sculptor Randy Polumbo come 26 genuine and funny bits of advice as surprising as they are sensible. From "A is for Anger" through "Z is for Zzzzzzz," each entry is paired with the authors' street-smart photography of the matching alphabet letter to create a savvy ebook. Based on a viral article written by Copaken when her own firstborn left for college, The ABCs of Adulthood is a delightful, worldly riff on learning your ABCs all over again.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review.

When I won this book, I was hoping that it would be something like "A is for Alcohol. B is for Boobs. C is for..." I think you get where I'm going with this. That's not what this book is. so as a juvenile minded adult, I was disappointed. Instead, this book focuses on aspects of adulthood in short little advice dumps. As a juvenile minded thirty-two year old woman who has children and therefore supposed to act like an adult, some of those advice dumps will be useful for me, even now. Beyond that, this is a book that I could easily imagine giving to my children when they're getting ready to head off to college. The advice is good and the brevity of the book is ideal for teenagers that will soon be inundated with college level classwork. The photography used for each of the letters was unique and interesting as well.

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

Deborah Copaken is a prolific journalist, photographer, former Emmy-winning TV producer, and author of several books, including Shutterbabe. She lives in New York and is the mother of three.

Randy Polumbo is a sculptor and the father of a 17-year-old. He divides his time between New York and California.