The Mine by John A. Heldt — A Review

the mineThe Mine by John A. Heldt

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3

DNF at 47%

I don’t typically review books I DNF. I even have a statement to that effect in my review policy. That said, I’ve been hung up on this one book since the end of August, and it’s been keeping me from writing reviews of other books, so I felt compelled to write a little PSA.

The reason I kept putting this novel down:  sexism. The reason I kept picking it back up: I hate not finishing things.

Now, I realize that the majority of the book is set in the 1940’s, so, different time, different place, different culture. Whatever. The main character, however, is from THIS century, and he’s a grade-A douche.

From page one I thought I had fallen into a mini frat party with 2-D bros. Not only were these 2-D characters employed as the main duo, but they themselves reduced all female characters to a summary of their features. THEN, one bro mysteriously ends up in the 1940s and barely bats an eye. I’m supposed to understand that he just floats through life anyhow, so it’s perfectly acceptable for him to time travel and not be affected. Errrm, k?

I can’t figure out if this author really dislikes women, or if he’s just so out of touch with them that he can’t write convincing female characters (dear gods, the dialogue) OR convincing male/female interactions. Passages like this one (after Joel has chased down a foul baseball for Grace (the blonde) — she didn’t ask him to btw– and he has been caught scaling the fence back into the baseball stadium by a security guard. Grace decides not to acknowledge that Joel is her companion or that he has a ticket so the guard is hauling him off):

Joel glanced over his shoulder at the blonde. He couldn’t believe she had abandoned him like a feral dog. He had risked his neck getting that ball. Talk about ingratitude. He remembered something Adam had told him their freshman year. Trust no woman.

She’s ungrateful? Because you were a show-off and she didn’t respond how you wanted her to? Ugh *rolls eyes*. Oh, and Adam and that freshman year he’s referring to, that was around 1996 — not in the 1940s. These gendered blanket statements seriously need to just stop.

The above passage is fairly benign in and of itself, but in combination with all 44% of the book in front of it, it was the last straw. In the end, I found it too exhausting to keep banging my head up against the wall of sexism, and had to say no thanks. I can’t really even say that the writing was compelling or interesting or that the premise was well executed because those were problems as well. 11/22/63 by Steven King was published in 2011 (The Mine was first published in 2012), and I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ King’s book? Much better execution.

Unless you are over the age of 50 and a white male (or completely out of touch with modern movements of inclusion and feminism), you’re probably going to want to skip this one.

If you’re interested in some moment-to-moment thoughts I had on this book, I posted some status updates (complete with GIFS!) on Goodreads. You can check those out here.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday Quotables

Technically it’s Monday; I know. The long weekend has me a bit thrown off, but here’s a Sunday Quotable for you, on this lovely Monday morning. It’s a little snippet from Edna St. Vincent Millay that holds a lot of meaning for me — it’s been a crazy few months.

Here’s to those of us who are always burning our candles at both ends. Cheers!

my candle burns at both ends

Foul is Fair by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins — A Review

FoulisFairFoul is Fair by Jeffrey Cook & Katherine Perkins

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

I just did not jibe* with this book at all. I mean, I struggled with it from the get-go. I actually put it down for a month or so before determining to pick it back up and finish it. I thought perhaps I was just in a weird place when I started it back in June and would be ready to read it this month. I was wrong.

Foul is Fair is both a coming-of-age story and a quest. Megan O’Reilly starts out struggling in school and popping a lot of pills that will “help her.” Then, BAM! JK, she’s part-faerie. That explains all her troubles, and we are whisked into faery-land with her pal, Lani. Who, you guessed it, is also part-faerie.

There are several chase scenes with red-caps and the dogs of the Wild Hunt, and Megan, Lani, and crew go hunting for Megan’s father who is trapped in an ice cave. They pick up another crew member and battle some foes who are trying to stop them. There’s a magic sword and an evil queen. There are so many wonderful, magical elements that should have added up to a kick-@ss story, but this thing just didn’t work.

Clumsy, clunky sentences, plot holes, name whiplash**. I just can’t even. I can’t stand it when authors assume we know what they know. We don’t know. We can’t read your mind. When you’re juggling so many varying elements, and you’re trying to throw a BIG TWIST in at the end, you have to be so, so careful to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Unfortunately, for me, this book lacked that attention to detail.

Another drawback was the tendency to tell me things. What’s a sure-fire way to take the steam out of an action scene? Tell me instead of show me. Around 88% (ya know, at the climax) things just went *fizzle*. I sped-read to the end after that.

Now, after I finished I wanted to see what everyone else thought. My reaction: “Did we just read the same book!?!?” Apparently some people just LOVED this and wrote rave reviews…perplexing.

Let’s just call this what it is — mediocre middle grade fiction in need of a serious polish.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

*For information on the words jibe, gibe, and jive, check out this awesome post!

**At a few points the authors start using compound names to refer to characters. For example, Megan becomes Red-Riding-Megan at one point. That sort of thing, presented out of the blue, really irks me!

In Lieu of a Review

Some of you guys have been reading for a while now, and some of you are brand new to my blog. Please just know, if you are reading this, I appreciate you.

Someone asked me awhile back why I was doing this? What did I get for it?

This person knew I was under a great deal of stress, and they assumed automatically that something that takes up so much of my time should be lucrative. Believe me, if I could get paid to read novels and write reviews of them, I’d be doing that! But I don’t get paid to do this. I do get copies of books, an item I value over many many others, but that doesn’t pay the bills!

So why do I do this? Why spend so much of my limited time engrossed in novels and anguishing over their reviews? Why? Because I LOVE books, literature, reading, the written word, authors, writers, characters, fictional worlds that I wish so hard were real.

I APPRECIATE the amount of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, coffee (or tea), and mania that goes into creating these precious works of art.

I think authors, especially indie authors, deserve to have that time and effort recognized.

So what do I get out of it? The joy of finding a new favorite author — one I never would have discovered in a Barnes & Noble. (No offense meant to B&N — love that place!)

What do I get out of it? A myriad of world views that I never would have encountered otherwise.

What do I get out of it? Hope. Yes, you read that right. Hope.

Often times our world can seem so dreary, our options limited, our efforts ineffectual, and we may find ourselves screaming, “What is the point!?” These works, these bound bits of inspiration, represent a tenacity of spirit from people with unfettered creativity and a commendable work ethic. And I find that damn inspiring!

So, I will continue to read their works. And I will read them critically because that is just how I am wired. I will present the world with my opinions on these works and hopefully introduce, at least one person, to a brand new author who will open up a whole new world for them.

Do I sometimes get overwhelmed by this project I’ve taken on? Yes, and I’m going to try to be more honest with myself moving forward about what I can and cannot accomplish in a 24-hour day. I will falter. And I will fail. But I will keep doing this because I love it!

I guess what I’m trying to say is:

I’m back! Check for a brand new review next week!

im back baby castiel


And now for a word from our sponsors…

I'm_just_kidding emma stoneJK! I don’t have sponsors. Errrm, carry on!


Sunday Quotables

I’m still on a review break. I may have one for you guys next week on the 11th, but don’t quote me on that.

I’ve been contemplating friendship a great deal this past week, so I wanted to put out a Sunday Quotable to reflect that.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer and that you have beautiful friends you can count on. Ciao!

friends lift you up

Happy Sunday!

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed — A Review

writtenWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

“My mother always says when you fight destiny, destiny fights back. Some things, they’re just written in the stars. You can try but you can never escape what’s meant to be.”

If you saw my initial Goodreads post, you know I had an immediate, slightly negative reaction to this book. Since then I’ve had a very difficult time forcing myself to sit down and write about this thing.

Written in the Stars is about a Pakistani girl named Naila. She grew up in Florida with her mother, father, and younger brother. She was all set to graduate high school, go on to college with her friends, and become a doctor. But, as so often happens, a boy got in the way of all that. Saif was also Pakistani, but his family was not respected by the other Pakistani families in their Florida community, so it was NOT okay for Naila to be dating him. Whoops! Now, when her parents found out, they didn’t ground her or forbid her to date him. Nope. They shamed her like you wouldn’t believe then packed the whole family up for a vacation to Pakistan. What happened after that you’ll have to read for yourself. I’ll just say, I yelled at the book for the last 75%. Literally. Yelled. I think I may have woken up my neighbors. I live in a house — not an apartment (just to give you an idea of the volume).

I found the content of this book appalling. The culture described is completely foreign to me, and I have to say, I didn’t find anything redeemable in it. Pretty clothes and jewelry aside, there was not much beauty to be found in this way of life. I thought I was going to be able to find some redemption in the bonds of family, but this poor girl’s family was so fake. (Spoiler ahead!) What kind of people say they love you and laugh and dote on you one minute then turn around and confine you, drug you, and force you to marry someone against your will the next? (End spoiler.) It’s disgusting, frankly.

Now, I know I’m approaching this book from a Western, American perspective. On top of that I am a feminist. Every atom in my body was repelled by this text. It is my very negative reaction to the content that lowered the coffee cup rating on this novel. Perhaps that’s not fair. It is well written, if bland. The characters are well-developed, if abhorrent. There are certainly lessons to be gleaned here from whomever reads it, but I just really hated it.

Gah, you should probably read it anyway. If only to experience a small part of another culture.