Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Bloggiesta 2014 Wrap-Up

Bloggiesta1S141-150x1505

(About Bloggiesta)

I wasn’t sure whether to join in at all, since I’m sick again, but then, my blog does need some maintenance:

  • write that one review I’ve been trying to for the last two days, DONE!
  • backup blog and template, DONE!
  • change the background (& theme details) to something more spring-like DONE!
  • see the challenges if there is something I should/could do, if not now, then in the future DONE! (G+, About Me, FTC)
  • do some maintenance and updating on something else, which I like to keep private and separate but it sort of belongs to the blogging area. DONE! (I made some icons, changed theme, updated archive, but still need to update/revamp the master list. I know you don’t know what I’m talking about, but I feel good about how much I’ve done.)

Extra things I’ve done:

  • removed my tumblr button – I felt like there is no point in having my tumblr linked here, since I rarely post anything bookish there.
  • Updated my blog footer, copyright etc.
  • Updated my G+ profile, joined G+ boggiesta community
  • Changed my Booklikes theme
  • caught the 2nd half of the Friday twitter chat, although I was mostly lurking, but I learned a few things.
  • Updated all my pages (except Cat Diary, which didn’t need an update)

Things to do/remember for the future:

  • Put the FTC disclaimer on the top of my ‘for review books’ reviews (I have so far been putting it at the bottom, same font as the post with the world ‘Disclaimer’ bolded.)
  • Take a creative photo of myself on a good day and put it on my About Me page

All in all, I can say this was a successful bloggiesta for me. How about for you?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Bloggiesta 2014 Sign-Up and To-Do List

Bloggiesta1S141-150x150

What the title says. Want to learn more about Bloggiesta and join in?

I wasn’t sure whether to join in at all, since I’m sick again, but then, my blog does need some maintenance:

  • write that one review I’ve been trying to for the last two days,
  • backup blog and template,
  • change the background (& theme details) to something more spring-like
  • see the challenges if there is something I should/could do, if not now, then in the future
  • do some maintenance and updating on something else, which I like to keep private and separate but it sort of belongs to the blogging area.

Things I would like to do, but I know I won’t because they are either not that urgent and/or I know I won't be able to do it because of the current state of my health:

  • twitter chats (probably won’t muster the strength for any of those, although, who knows, maybe I will)
  • create one or more drop-down menus (not really necessary at this point since my current blog layout has enough space in pages tabs)
  • crosspost old reviews to Goodreads and Booklikes (my reviews from the last two years or so are all crossposted; most of the older ones, however, are not and it’s unlikely ever to happen, but maybe some day.)

There you go, my goals and not-goals. What are yours?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Obstacles by Chris Reardon

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): A child will die. You're afraid to live. Would you go to all lengths to save him? Darkness knows no bounds, as Alcott, an African American doctor sees all too well. The man is petrified by death. His fragile existence rests at the mercy of the universe. This fact is far too much for him to handle. From unyielding nightmares to elevator terrors, he's lost in paranoia.

Assigned to look after an ill child, Alcott's horrors only heighten. Gari is a nine-year-old boy with a fatal disease. He will surely pass on within the year. Alcott bonds with him more and more each day. Part of him knows this grim fate just isn't right.

Alcott befriends a hospital patient. This lunatic forces him to lug home an ancient text on bringing back the dead. Despite the man's obvious dementia, Alcott attempts the scheme. Charging up a cliff, he recites the chant over ocean gusts.

A god woman glides in from the horizon. She instructs Alcott on the trials to save Gari's life. These fearsome Obstacles require true strength. From battling sharks to wielding a flail, he must prove fortitude against genuine danger. Alcott decides his fate at this moment.
Death's claws shall not grasp Gari's soul.

MY OPINION:

Obstacles is Chris Reardon’s first novel, so I was willing to give it some leeway. However, there is only so much leeway I can give.

What I liked:

  • the premise of undertaking a Herculean-like quest in order to change fate and save someone from dying,
  • the lesson conveyed towards the end of the book, stressing the importance believing in oneself in order to succeed.

However, these were unfortunately overshadowed by what I didn’t like:

  • poorly developed characters:

    We don’t learn much about any of the characters. To start with, we never even learn what Gari’s illness is, or how Gari and Antuna can afford a live-in doctor, and what exactly Alcott does to help Gari.

    And is Alcott a first or a last name? We learn nothing about Alcott, besides the fact that he is a 30-something doctor (what kind of doctor?), though he acts and speaks like a teenager.

    Since I didn’t really get to know any of the characters, I didn’t care what happens to them and whether they succeed or fail.
  • in contrast with the lack of information about the characters, there is too much unnecessary repetition of easily-grasped data and concepts (I don’t need to be told the same thing five times, I’m not that stupid.)
  • the so-called obstacles, the tasks Alcott faces, are clich├ęd (sharks, labyrinth…) and there are just too many mythical elements from across cultures and genres (including humanoid aliens from Neptune) crammed together, all superficial and often rather silly.
  • poor vocabulary choices: it seems as if the author was trying too hard with the language, wanting to sound sophisticated, but it has the opposite effect – it sounds overdone, especially because of a modern setting and the first person POV narrative. Nobody thinks “we need to ‘dash’ out” and “i was ‘fatigued’“, do they?
  • the above said is in direct contrast with numerous grammatical errors, bad punctuation (so many ellipses), awkward or nonsensical phrasing (e.g. “I spark out” in the meaning “I say”), and colloquial language.
  • the scene structure is often illogical; for example, a person stands by the window and then goes to the window (without going away first), or a character faints again when that character hasn’t fainted yet in that scene.
  • And I could go on.

Overall, Obstacles suffers from insufficient revision and editing on all levels from content editing to proofreading. The teacher and the linguist in me were just itching the entire time to take a red pen and start jotting down corrections and suggestions for improvement. However, my time is too valuable to do that for free. Unfortunately, the editor, who is credited in the book and probably was paid, did a poor job.

Thus, Obstacles is basically a first draft with an interesting concept and possibly a potential of becoming a good, if not a great, book, but would need a few more rounds of revising and editing.

RECOMMENDATION: Clearly, I cannot recommend Obstacles, but if you have some time to spare and a will to try it, go ahead and form your own opinion.

1,5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Obstacles in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.