Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review of CRANK

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
4 1/2 Stars

One of the most original books I have ever read, and the first modern story that I have come across where the narrative is poetically structured. Even though my mother is a published poet and my daughter is a talented poet, poetry has never really interested me that much. I can write it, but I don't usually want to - and that includes reading it. So, I'm coming from a viewpoint where I tend to veer away from anything to do with poetry. BUT, this is not an average poetry book because the narrative and cleverly constructed composition, and use of wording, swept me along. Although I read a few chapters then set the book aside for months (a stupid thing to do), once I picked it back up again I finished it within a few days. I shouldn't have put it aside to start with, because Kristina's/Bree's story was really interesting. She starts off as a good, innocent sixteen-year-old who goes visiting her father, then comes across a boy who she falls in love with. But, Adam is not the real love of her life, because this is where Kristina also meets the monster, AKA Meth (Crank), and falls head over heels with this drug. And from this one meeting/experience she allows "the monster" to eventually take over her life. So, when she returns home she goes out of her way to get her hands on "the monster" again and because of her infatuation/addiction she ends up getting herself into A LOT of trouble.

Basically, this story should be taught in schools, because it shows how drugs can ruin your life. Also, it will teach children some very unique ways of conveying themselves through poetry. But, don't think this is about rhyming, because it's not, poetry encompasses a range of techniques, and the rhyming technique isn't a factor in this story. The author instead uses some very clever turn of phrases and word coupling, metaphors, etc. and places them into interesting patterns, some of which can have double meanings if you pay close enough attention. For example, on some pages, if you read the story in the tradition left to right manner like most western books, you get a flowing story, but if you see some words separated off to the left (or right) don't move to the next page until you read them vertically, because occasionally you will find a message running downwards, like on page 293-294, where it says:








You will also (very often) get Kristina's/Bree's (her alter ego) thoughts and dialogue on one side and another character's dialogue on the other. However, although I use the word "characters", they didn't feel like fictional constructions, but instead they all came across as real people, which made me feel like I was probing into someone's life, and eavesdropping into their conversations. (This book is based on the author's daughter, which also puts credence to this feeling).

Overall, I am extremely impressed. So, don't let the unusual structure put you off, like it almost did for me, because there is a fantastic story within these VERY cleverly structured pages.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Behind the Tears

This is what I thought about after writing "Behind the Tears":

I HATED writing this DAMN &^@^*!@&*+# book, lol. It's true, I did. And if I wasn't committed to finishing "Behind the Tears" I would've scrapped it, because it caused me SO much trouble. No doubt fans of Behind the Hood and Graffiti Heaven (the prequels) will love it, and will be biting their nails over certain sections, but ... when I got to one plot point near the end, it made me very uncomfortable and that is saying a lot. At one stage, I even walked away from the story, preferring to paint instead, because I only paint nice pictures and this storyline was anything but nice. I think some people may cry over this book, but it just made me want to kill off Chaz at the beginning ... although I didn't, dammit. Maybe I could go and rewrite that part? Nah, just kidding, because that would totally take out the suspense if I did.

HOWEVER ... I did enjoy writing a few of the storylines. Also, "Behind the Tears" is a bit different from the other two books, because the overriding genre is romance (although, a dark romance), and with a side order of suspense. There are three potential couples, some love triangles and one very disturbed man, who people will hate even more than Tama from "Behind the Hood," and it is possible.

But, I'm sure a lot of ladies will love one particular romance (if not all). I've already noticed some people on Goodreads are speculating about what Sledge's relationship with Corey entails. Just put it this way, they are right. There are hints in "Behind the Hood" alluding to what Corey's character is like, and he will be making Sledge feel very uncomfortable ;)

Anyway, I may update on how the editing progress is going. At present, I am well on target to having this book published before Christmas.

Cheers, Marita.

P.S. The cover uploaded on Goodreads is not the one being used. A drawing of Ash will be on the cover, while his brother Dante will be on the back. And since the brothers look the same, apart from their different tattoos, it will appear like you're viewing two sides to one person.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Graffiti Heaven FREE for 2 Days Only

My edgy YA novel GRAFFITI HEAVEN is being promoted this weekend and will be free, starting today and ending Saturday the 22nd of December. So, if you want to download an ebook copy of this edgy YA story here are the links:



AMAZON DE (Germany):

AMAZON ES (Spain):

AMAZON IT (Italy):

If you don't have a Kindle or iPhone, etc, there are apps available on the book's Amazon page, which will allow you to read it on your computer or other electronic devices.

A group of high school students deal with sex, love, bullying, family and betrayal. (Edgy YA)

Life is turned upside down for Ash Rata and Tiana Lilu after they skip school to take their relationship to the next level. When their family and friends find out, they are forced to deal with rumours, bullies, an overprotective brother and mortified parents.

Amongst the turmoil Ash grows closer to his stepdad, learning to trust again after years of holding a grudge against his jailed father. But following a guys' night out together, Ash's life is shattered when he wakes up in hospital and learns his stepdad has done something unforgivable. Traumatised, he pushes everyone he loves away, terrified that they will discover what really happened that night.

Set in the year 2000, ten years prior to Behind the Hood, Graffiti Heaven is the first in a series that follows Ash Rata's teenage years, a coming of age tale where both comedy and tragedy battle it out on a New Zealand stage.


The link to GOODREADS (where you can read a number of reviews):

I hope you enjoy the read, and it would be great if you could leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads so that others know what the book is like.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Beautiful Disaster Review

3 of 5 stars false
bookshelves: romance
Read from August 28 to October 14, 2012

I'm am totally conflicted on how to rate this book, because big chunks frustrated the hell out of me, while other areas I liked. Hence, the rating of 3, smack bang in the middle of scratch my head territory.

So, I'll go through the good and the bad, alternating between the two:

I don't tend to read books like this, in fact this might be my first New Adult Romance full stop. But I love paranormal romance, so I thought it was just a side step, something I'd enjoy. And I did sort of, but I think my main problem that held me back from really liking it (and it's a major one) was the character of Abby. She FRUSTRATED the hell out of me! I didn't like her at all, because I thought she was being mean to Travis a lot, and was quite selfish, leading him on constantly. Okay, it was fine for her to reject him at the beginning because of his rep, I get that, but when she finally got with him the drama after that was annoying. For ages it was like, she was SO great, he just had to chase her around everywhere (I didn't see why she was great, especially since she treated him badly), and when something went wrong it was always Travis's fault. Like the time she dumps him and then goes to his place to get something with America, and he walks in with a girl and she is mad at him! Like WTF? And America blows up at him and his cousin, again WTF? They had absolutely no empathy for the poor guy. He was dumped, he was moving on, but no, he had to abstain from sex because her royal highness hadn't given him permission to move on, but oh, she was allowed to do what she wanted. And another thing that really bugged me was when Travis beat up Chris with Abby's permission, because her "virtue" was denounced. And not with one punch, but quite a lot, yet when Travis punches another guy once and Abby gets the guy's blood on her she goes apeshit at him. Again, WTF? So, he isn't allowed to hit someone unless she gives him her royal decree? Another thing I couldn't stand about Abby, was that she was so judgmental of him (and others), going through a good section of the story feeling like Travis wasn't good enough for her, treating him like a whipping boy, and that he was just everything wrong, whereas she was the one who was wrong in my opinion. So, you can clearly see I didn't like her.

Okay, now to Travis. I liked and understood him better, but he did go over the top with his violence, like WAY over the top when he beat up Chris just for a verbal slight on Abby's "virtue". I have been punched before (karate) and have seen guys go down for a lot less punching than what Travis did to Chris, and I believe the type of punching that Travis was doing (or more like committing) could've caused serious damage, yet no one helped Chris, no one phoned the cops or the authorities, and that was it, once the beating had finished there were no more consequences and Chris's role in the story was done. It really seemed incredibly over the top, unrealistic and contrived. Travis was generally an over the top character, but as said before, I didn't mind him mostly, and Abby did drive him nuts. God only knew why he wanted her, probably because she kept telling him no and he wasn't used to that, since every girl on campus threw themselves at him.

Now to take a long breath, before the next lot................ Done. Now, I'll state some parts that I liked. The fight club scenes. I found those interesting, plus the drama with the creep pushing Abby against the wall, and the Vegas scenes. With the Vegas part in the story, that was one time that I could understand Abby's frustration with Travis, because he wouldn't listen, but still, she seemed to drop him way too easily and he didn't realise the seriousness of the situation. And the way America dropped Shepley too was way too easy. The women could be stone-cold bitches in this book. But I digress, overall America was fine, it was only one tiny section in the book that really annoyed me about her.

The plot, I mostly liked this. At times I lost interest, but then the author threw in some things that I didn't predict, like Vegas. My interest perked up greatly at these spikes in the plot, and I did enjoy those parts. Also, the fire scene was thrilling, and had me really worried for one of the minor characters, because of his connection to Travis. I'm glad with how the author portrayed this bit. And the ending, some say it's to sugary and wraps things up with a pretty bow, all nice and tidy, but actually, I liked that she did this, it gave the book a nice clean ending, and I did want a happy one. So, all sweet on that frontier. Additionally, I liked Travis's family scenes, giving the reader a bit of background on him, and I liked his determination to get Abby back (whipping boy! and again, why dude, why?), but it made for interesting drama.

Some people criticise the toxic relationship between Abby and Travis, but despite their character flaws, I didn't mind this part, because that's what the story was about. Plus, who wants to read a romance story where there isn't drama and it's all romance and flowers: I don't! So, no criticism on that.

On a minor note, the writing style did leave me a little jumpy, and scratching my head at times. Overall it was okay, fine, and easy to read, but occasionally it jumped from one place to another without a transitional phase. Like, Abby was in one place then suddenly she's outside, and I'm wondering, what the hell, I thought she was over there, so I go back and re-read the part and yup, she was over there. We really need to be told that she's actually got up and left. This happened more than a few times, but not always, so just be prepared that occasionally the characters will move like Usain Bolt between settings.

I'm going to round off now, and having looked over my review. Looks like I have a good amount of criticisms, but I wouldn't say to not read the book, because I did like parts, and I did finish the book, just was confused as to whether I liked it or not. Guess I'm sitting on the fence like with religion. My brain (and education) tells me it's illogical to believe, but my superstitions say you have to or your going to buuuuurn, lol. Just joking. But Beautiful Disaster was sort of like this, my brain was telling me this was something I really shouldn't like, and it had so many faults, mainly me not liking the main character, but the plot kept my interest, and stopped me from giving this book a lower mark. So, yeah, 3 is adequate for me.

Would I read Travis's point of view with walking Disaster. Maybe, it might be interesting, although the only problem (and a major one) is that I know the plot and that was the main part I liked. But then again, looking into a guy's brain can be fascinating and I might get to understand why he went overboard at times. I'll see, maybe if it's on special, like when I got Beautiful Disaster.

So, would I recommend this. Not sure. I think younger people will like it more than older readers, who have more of an understanding on life situations (though, not always true, depending on the person). For me, if I was younger I might not have been as critical, so it's purely a subjective thing. You either like it or you don't, and if you're like me, you're not sure :)