Monday, August 28, 2023

Bout of Books 38 #boutofbooks End #readathon #WeNeedDiverseBooks #bookreview Christian Garcia Is Fu*king Obsessed

Bout of Books 38! Day 7
On Goodreads, I have bookshelves dedicated to reviews I've written about books I've read during previous BoutOfBooks events. Here's the current one:

Today's Bout of Books prompt is Shelfie

5 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner
Christian Garcia Is Fu*king Obsessed by Dori Aleman-Medina

I enjoyed this book because the characters each face a multitude of problems. The time flow from present to past did increase the pace, but it also took away a little something for me. This book is definitely ADULT, but it is also excellent for adults who enjoy YA because there are chapters from a teen POV. It's fascinating how these characters deal with life, but also how they each feel about the situations and solutions. I loved the references to the previous book. The new worker at the bakery made me laugh, but I love the idea. 

My cousin and I opted to share books during a readathon, which is why I read this book. I don't read many books like this or of this genre (romantic suspense), but I enjoyed it. My cousin is friends with the author, I've interviewed the author previously. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

Here's an excerpt I enjoyed (some names removed to avoid spoilers) :
"He protected me, Holly, from another person. He kept her from fighting with me. People respected him. He was my boyfriend and kept me safe. That's what he did for me." Throw my paper cup on the floor, I start stamping my feet. {Name} told me that he didn't want to be my boyfriend anymore, but I could be with {name} instead. He was going to just give me away. Who gives people away? 

I read the whole book because I cared about the characters and wanted to know what would happen. There's a dramatic scene at the beginning, and I wanted to know how or if it would ripple changes through all the relationships in the book. I would read another book in this series. 

The book has tragedies, it is realistic fiction, has a happily-enough-for-now ending, multiple erotic scenes, some romance, can be a tear-jerker, and is certainly controversial. It is sometimes haunting, feels action-packed and fast-paced, is full of plot twists, and can be inspirational. It's meaningful, fun, and entertaining. The author feels like an authority on the subject of mental health. The book is diverse in LGBTQIA, Latino people, and people with disabilities- especially mental differences.

Triggers such as strong language, sexual content (including coerced between teens), discussions on suicide, death of a relative, self-harm, violence, drinking, drugs, panic, and anxiety should be noted. I found some minor typos and grammatical errors. 

Power struggles, family, and fitting in are the main themes in the book. It's easily relatable for anyone who has experienced being an outsider or feeling different, has friends who are "found family," or who a parent who put career before family. It can be very emotionally powerful for any reader who can relate. The school Christian works at sounds like a fantasy ideal for many children who need such an amazing support system. Otherwise, it totally holds up a mirror to society because so much of what these characters deal with are real problems. Mental health, ADHD, autism (ASD), behavioral and emotional difficulties, and neurodivergence are obstacles in this book. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Bout of Books 38 #boutofbooks Day 3 #readathon #bookreview Binti by Nnedi Okorafor #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Bout of Books 38! Day 3
On Goodreads, I have bookshelves dedicated to reviews I've written about books I've read during previous BoutOfBooks events. Here's the current one:

My Book Reviews can be found on:
Please follow @JLenniDorner on BookBub Follow and friend author J Lenni Dorner on Goodreads please J Lenni Dorner on Storygraph

Today's Bout of Books prompt is Celebrating Diversity

5 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

This short fiction was highly enjoyable and very fast-paced. It wove real culture and science fiction together perfectly. The main character is easy to root for because she's such an outsider and so deeply devoted to her love of learning. I got this book on June 15, 2022, and I am so glad I took an hour to finally read it. This is my honest and unbiased review.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves to learn, enjoys science fiction, and wants a great read with a Himba main character from Namibia (Namib) in Southern Africa. In the book, her people have many brilliant advancements and a strong connection to the earth. There is a passage about her hair that feels so deeply meaningful to me and is an excellent summary of her values:

{Heru touches her hair} "You have exactly twenty-one," he said. "And they're braided in tessellating triangles. Is it some sort of code?"
I wanted to tell him that there was a code, that the pattern spoke my family's bloodline, culture, and history. That my father had designed the code and my mother and aunties had shown me how to braid it into my hair.

It's that beautiful? I would give this book five stars on that passage alone. This is what a good diverse book should do, show how even something as easily overlooked as hair can hold such a deep meaning and reveal a great deal about someone. Binti describes herself as having dark skin and extra-bushy hair because her father's side has the blood of the Desert People. 

The best science fiction description in this book, to me, was the ship. "Third Fish was a Miri 12, a type of ship closely related to a shrimp." Space travel inside a living creature that had been genetically enhanced for travel. The ship, being a living beast, makes sounds and quakes because it has functional bowels. A living ship is a beautiful concept. I do not read a lot of scifi, but this really caught my attention.

This opens with immediate action. Then, just as the story seems to settle for a moment, there's an unexpected twist full of heart-pounding action. Eventually, Binti has to make a choice. I do wish it had been a more well-informed decision, that she knew what she'd actually sacrifice, that the Meduse were more forthcoming. They believe humans only understand violence. 

A mirror to society, to a real-life issue, is presented in a discussion as to whether a museum or university should keep a prestigious and high-valued piece or return it to the people to whom it belongs. 

This feels like it could be realistic fiction in the future. Math lovers will really enjoy parts of this story. As all goals are met, there is a happily-ever-after (or happy for now). There is a chilling scene with violence.  It's action-packed, fast-paced, and has many plot twists. The story felt mostly unpredictable. It was very fun, entertaining, and informative to me. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Bout of Books 38 #boutofbooks Day 1 #readathon #bookreview Shattered by C Lee McKenzie

Bout of Books 38!
I've done this readathon a few times.
On Goodreads, I have bookshelves dedicated to reviews I've written about books I've read during previous BoutOfBooks events. How many times have I taken part?
May 2015, Aug 2015, Jan 2016, May 2016, Aug 2016, Jan 2017, May 2017, Aug 2017, Jan 2018, May 2018, Aug 2018, Jan 2019, May 2019, Aug 2019, May 2020, Aug 2021, Aug 2022, May 2023, Aug 2023
= 19 times

My Book Reviews can be found on:
Please follow @JLenniDorner on BookBub Follow and friend author J Lenni Dorner on Goodreads please J Lenni Dorner on Storygraph

4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner
Shattered: A Story of Betrayal and Courage by C. Lee McKenzie

This book was an emotional powerhouse.  I've followed this author for years, have read four other books by her, and share membership in several online communities with C. Lee McKenzie. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion. I won a paperback copy of this book in November 2021. 

This is listed as a Teen and YA book in the disabilities category. I can imagine recommending this to former coworkers and friends, such as physical therapists who would pass it along to teen patients struggling to adapt to their new reality. 

A bright, sunshiny character who is recovering from a life-altering injury, one of those optimistic types who joyfully tackles every challenge life offers, plays the mentor and new best friend. The main character is Libby, who experiences pain, devastation, heartbreak, and hopelessness. Her dreams and goals are taken away, her boyfriend dumps her, and her friends fade away. There's about a fifth of the book where everyone wants her to be strong, overcome, and buck up. But she's not made of sunshine and hope, she's devastated and afraid. It's the more frequent reaction to such trauma. However, the first third of the book is hard, it packs an emotional punch (more so if the feelings are identifiable). In the next chunk of the book, Libby grows and gradually gets adjusted. It isn't until nearly the end that she isn't weighed down and held back. There's a happy enough ending full of hope and possibilities. The ending chapter really ties everything together and is kind of a "where are they now" type of ending.

It also has a mystery woven in, the whodunit of the on-purpose accident which puts her in a wheelchair. Those chapters, each called "The Arrangement," are in third-person so as to not give away who did it. I honestly thought I knew, and I was "right-adjacent," but there was one aspect I hadn't considered. The guilty party not only makes sense, but serves as a wonderful reflection of the growth and change of another character.

This does feel like realistic fiction. There are some romantic parts, but it isn't central to the plot. Libby is more focused on her sporting goals and regaining control of her life than on romance. It is complex and somewhat inspirational. The author feels like an authority on rowing. 

Sit-ski was a new term I learned from this book. I live near a few ski resorts (Pocono Mountains in PA) and confess I never knew about any such options. 

The title is definitely used in the book, and twice around the end the title really clicks. The cover is very artistic. I like the skier who is sort of blurred on the upper left. (I have the cover with dark blue hues with white accents and words.) Shattered may upset some readers in the first third as Libby is very depressed. There's a pet cat who lives well through the whole book. Some readers may have strong feelings about the various parenting styles in this book. The only possible typos I found were "Then his eyes met nine," {mine} and "She knew what the next three words were" {I knew}, so I would say this book is well-edited. 

I believe the theme is one of perseverance, with a sprinkling of patriotism, a heap of friendship and family, and a dash of love. Some of the settings did come alive, mainly the outdoors. The mystery element does hold a mirror up to society in a way I cannot explain without spoiling the book. The Bechdel-Wallace test is certainly passed, as there are named female characters with whom Libby speaks to about subjects that are not men. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Flash Fiction Excerpt #WEP #WEPFF #CHOCOLAT #chocolate #wolf 🍫🐺

#WEP August Challenge #CHOCOLAT 

I'm using another excerpt from my high-fantasy story that uses the roleplaying characters Xavier and Wend play in my Existence book series.

Some of you may recall my excerpt in WEP's June post. There's background information there. I'll copy the size chart here as a quick reminder. 
Great Wolf size @JLenniDorner

A great wolf is huge, as you can see. 
This excerpt has the trio at the end of Day 1 of the journey. From dinner to foreshadowing, this is 838 words and Full Critiques are most welcome!
Tagline: Elves trade with chocolate, but that's poison to wolves. 

*Note= Please do not feed chocolate or caffeinated products to canines! 🐶🐕🐺

#WEPFF Chocolat Aug 2023

By J Lenni Dorner

"How are we supposed to have dinner?"


The great wolf leaped into the air, landed on a branch, and leaped again. There was a snapping sound and a crunch, and then he was back on the ground with something dangling from his mouth. He dropped it on a flat rock. "Fangscrideptor. Dig in."


Candra's face turned as green as the fangscrideptor's body. "I am an elf from the people of the Isle. I cannot eat that! I don't even know what that is! And poor Phin Fynn can't eat it, either."


"Why can't I? I've had their young before. It was yummy."


"How did you get to taste their young?" Monoghan asked.


"You ate children!" Candra's mouth fell open and her posture turned stiff.


Phin Fynn toed the ground. "Someone didn't want them, I guess."


"Maybe because they found out what they were," Candra said.


"The young are a delicacy in certain areas. Most of them don't survive childhood, so they may as well be eaten. Do you two want to split that one?"


"I am not eating another living being! And neither are you two."


"Candra, I'm a wolf. I eat smaller prey. Sometimes I even eat larger prey."


"You are also a man. Be civilized."


Monoghan shook his head. "I am a wolf first and foremost. I was born a wolf, I was raised a wolf, and I eat like a wolf."


"Well, I am an elf and a lady. I will not eat that poor creature. And neither will Phin Fynn."


Monoghan shook his muzzle. "I wouldn't be so sure."


Phin Fynn looked up and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. The frog-like head of the fangscrideptor was already devoured, as were the six boneless rear and middle legs. "Did you want the tail and the front paws and legs? They're both covered in fur. I don't eat fur."


Candra spun around and braced herself against a tree. "I'm going to be ill."


"So I'll have to feed you twice as much?" Monoghan inquired before leaping into the air to catch another fangscrideptor. He tore off the head, spit out the fangs, and then offered it to the boy, who took it gladly.


"You two are monsters."


"No, we're just higher up the food chain and proud of it." Monoghan chewed off the cat-like tail. "These creatures eat birds, which Isle elves practically worship and think of as family. And they'd eat your baby elves growing on trees if they ever made it to the Isles. Monsters like me are keeping your people alive." He bit off the front cat-like legs, chewed, and muttered, "You're welcome," with his mouth full.


"There has to be fruit somewhere!" Candra stormed off.


Monoghan shook his head. "I've seen her kind eat worse than this. She's from one of those high-up families," he said to Phin Fynn. "Here, have the boneless legs."


"Thanks! Those are the best part."


"Not for me," Monoghan's paw snatched the tail and two furry front legs the boy had left uneaten from the first catch. "I prefer these. Stay here and eat, I'm going after her before she becomes dinner." Monoghan rubbed his head along Phin Fynn's back and marked a nearby tree before running off.

He found her trapped in a pink thorny bramble bush.

"You know, there are better ways to have your dress ripped off."

"I thought there would be berries. Pink means the bush is ready for harvest." One of her sleeve embellishments ripped off, lost to the thorns. 

"Something every forest creature knows. The bush was plucked clean before midday. Hold still, I'll get you out." He snapped at the bramble, careful not to damage the plant while freeing the elf. 

Candra examined her ruined dress. Her chin quivered. "I am not equipped for this journey. My place is in civilized towns practicing diplomacy and translating scrolls."

Monoghan nuzzled her. "We need to get back to the pup. Climb on."

They returned to find Phin Fynn curled up on the forest floor using a rock for a pillow, a smile on his sleeping face. 

"I imagine a full tummy was helpful in getting him to nod off peacefully. That would be nice." Candra sat beside the child.

"You didn't bring any rations?"

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a pouch. "I brought these. We call it chocolate. These pods grow and are opened, then beans are taken out and roasted, and then they grind and mix and, well, I don't know the whole process. But it is sweet and difficult to come by, so they make for a valuable trade."

"I know what chocolate is. One of my cousins died from that poison."

Candra put the treat away. "Sorry. It isn't poison to elves or humans. I wouldn't use it to harm you."

He laughed. "My dear elf, nothing you or the pup there could ever do would harm me. At most, your pack of chocolate would be a mild irritant, no worse than a bug bite."

My plans for next week:

My Book Reviews:
Please follow @JLenniDorner on BookBub Follow and friend author J Lenni Dorner on Goodreads please J Lenni Dorner on Storygraph

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Conflict in the Writer #IWSG

Shout-out to Alex and the awesome co-hosts for today: Kate Larkindale, Diane Burton, Janet Alcorn, and Shannon Lawrence!

Aug 2 question -

Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

Frost quote
Conflict in the writer!
I wrote about this topic in April, in a way. I was conflicted in book one, Fractions of Existence, where I mentioned the fictional band "Bikinis for Eskimos" because that word is offensive, and book one doesn't explain why I would use it for the fictional band name.
I knew it would get cleared up in the second book. That the band used the name to bring awareness that the word is not appropriate, because too many people are unaware that they shouldn't be using that word. (Which, yes, is my own way of raising awareness, since I'm the author.) It also demonstrates that The Existence (or Jun, at least), is aware of social and language changes. 

Existence series.
📚 Proof of Existence - Publication April 4, 2023

Trigger warning: Content about prejudice and racism 

Excerpt from Proof of Existence by @JLenniDorner
Excerpt from Proof of Existence by @JLenniDorner

Please also visit: The Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club on Goodreads.

Write Edit PulishWrite Edit Publish blog-

Please check out this page on the WEP site.

And then get ready for the next challenge!

"Chocolat – ooh la la - base your flash/poem on the confection, chocolate shop, café, 1950's setting, France/French cuisine... Or you could use a suspected witch, a character with magical powers/recipes. Or a romance between two disparate people. As always, over to you!"
#WEP August Challenge "#CHOCOLAT" - post August 16 - 18
Chocolat Chocolate

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A to Z Challenge Happening at the A to Z Challenge - We celebrated🎉 World Emoji day on July 17.

Aug 9 is National Book Lovers Day! 

Take Proof of Existence to the beach