Monthly Archives: March 2015

What’s In My Bag? (My First Collaborative Video!)

I included this here because breelark has books in her bag. 🙂

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Amazon Package! (February 12, 2015)

What could it be??? Watch and see!
(Yes, she has a terrible haircut, but she was 14 months old and I did it myself. So there you go.)


Senserial Publishing – The Future of eBooks!

Introducing, something pretty cool! (By the wonderful people below):

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Okay, first off, I am saying right now that I will never post about something I do not personally love. Secondly, yes, I was approached by Senserial Publishing about this, but if I had not liked what I saw when I checked it out, I would NOT be recommending it to all of you. Finally, I am honestly really excited about this, and I think it could revolutionize the use of e-readers in how they are distinct from hard copies of books! In my opinion, I think this maintains the integrity and (dare I say) nearly sacred nature of the bound pages I actually prefer while truly utilizing the potential of the e-readers that so many people love. And here it is: Senserial Publishing (www.senserial.com) has developed a new way to read actual good books on an e-reader. Episodes are released every week, and if the ‘under construction’ visuals on their current page are any indication, it will be quite the reading experience! Famous authors like Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas and Charlotte Brontë (and too many more to count) all built up most of their fan base in this way and serialization is what TV dramas are based on today. Now a reader can have the thrill of experiencing an ‘episode’ of his or her favourite book from his or her favourite authors on Senserial, only with more promptness and better visuals than ever before!

But that’s not the only thing I love about this group’s idea. People have been serializing their novels on websites like WordPress or Wattpad ever since the common use of the Internet, and let’s be honest, there are some amazing writers out there who have never made it to actual paper-and-ink print. Senserial has a sister website, www.sennection.com, where writers and artists can collectively create and submit serialized MULTIMEDIA e-books to Senserial Publishing, and just like Wattpad, followers can search for their favourite authors and download what they write, as well as being kept up to date on any new material from these authors without having to search for it manually. In my opinion, this is the future of e-books.

And there’s a special treat in it for all of you! Right now, you can sign up for early access at the Senserial homepage (www.senserial.com) and get 6 free episodes of your choice, AND as an EXTRA special treat for my followers, once the website goes live anyone who has read about this here on my blog gets 25% off! For more information, check out this article by Mercy Pilkington, Senior Editor of Good e-Reader (http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/new-platform-senserial-delivers-serialized-ebooks) and get out your e-readers, because this is going to be awesome!


Husband/Wife Book Reviews: ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexandre Dumas (March 19th, 2015)

Re-posted from LiveJournal:

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As you can tell, since my last entry (basically about a year ago already!) in which I reviewed Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and was given the further assignment by my husband Graham to read Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, my copy of this beloved tome of over 1400 pages has seen some wear and tear. But it is now finished, and worth every single day I spent reading it!

The first Dumas book I ever read was an adapted version of The Knight of Maison-Rouge, which I do NOT recommend, especially as the adaptation I was unfortunate enough to read included such verbs as ‘electrified’ (as in ‘her presence electrified the silence’ or some similar usage) when CLEARLY, electricity was probably not discovered, let alone in such popular usage as to include in the lexicon of the average person. (Does anyone else get really annoyed by such anachronisms?) I would someday like to read a translated but NOT adapted version, as the story itself would have been interesting if it weren’t for grievous errors like those mentioned above. Needless to say, my first Dumas experience wasn’t as illustrious as his reputation had given it to be.

HOWEVER. I had seen the 2002 movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo,and had truly enjoyed it. I had also had the distinction of reading from cover to cover an unabridged version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables a few years previous, so I knew I was up to the task. I accepted, and thus my journey began.

Wait and hope: One of the last lines of this book basically describes the many facets of it, for those two elements are necessary for both revenge and redemption (two major themes of The Count of Monte Cristo). They are also important in every stage of a person’s life, which is so clearly seen in the life of poor Edmond Dantes. As a young sailor he waits and hopes for his chance to become captain and to marry Mercedes, the woman he loves. When that is all taken away from him, the fact that he has waited and hoped makes his disappointment even more palpable. While in prison with the intelligent Abbe Faria, he vows for revenge and this is what he waits and hopes for. When the Abbe dies and leaves his entire treasure to Dantes, he sets his desire for justice into action, but must wait and hope for each piece of his carefully constructed plan to fall into place. When his whirlwind of revenge begins to negatively affect the hopes and dreams of his young protege, Maximilian Morrel (the son of his former shipmaster), Edmond realizes that perhaps all he needs to wait and hope for is happiness, and after so much waiting and so much hoping, he seizes the day and sails off into the sunset with his new love, leaving Maximilian and his fiancee with a more positive form of his life motto of wait and hope

This book has everything. It has crime. It has romance. It has the dreams of the young crushed by the ambition of the powerful. It has murder, duels, intrigue, exotic locations, bandits, dandies, honour, luxury, and revenge, revenge, revenge! This book was originally serialized, which is why it was so long: it was so popular nobody wanted it to end! The Count of Monte Cristo was the popular TV drama of its day, and there are so many ways that modern shows have drawn from serialized works like it, I would be here all day if I tried to point them all out. All in all, I give this book 5 stars out of 5. It can be a bit daunting to carry around a hard copy like I did, so if you really can’t bring yourself to carry a book the size of a Bible around with you, please do get this on your e-reader. It will be worth your time, I promise you.


‘Resurrection: Sanctifying Grace’ by Elizabeth Davies (March 7th, 2015)

Re-posted from LiveJournal:

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I have arrived, at last, to the conclusion of Elizabeth Davies’ Resurrection trilogy, Sanctifying Grace. While I never did find out how it is that Grace can time-travel, and while I maintain that this trilogy should be advertised as a book in three parts instead of three books in a trilogy since none of them are able to stand alone as complete stories, I have to say that this trilogy was really good, and that the last book was my favourite.

Grace’s deteriorating health and consequent ‘demise’ had me in actual tears (usually enough to earn an extra star right there), and the double destiny of Roman & Grace (‘sanguinisto and regalato both’ as Davies puts it), was tied up excellently and with very few loose ends. I was curious why Viktor did not appear to recognize her when she first appeared outside Brecon Castle in the first book or why he never mentioned her first appearance to him while she was human, but I’m willing to chalk it up to the difference between her human and vampire forms, or that he didn’t want to tamper with destiny. Still, it was odd to me that he never would have once mentioned meeting her vampire form in the Dark Ages to Roman, even when he was feverishly trying to figure out if it would work to resurrect her somehow.

I liked that in this book, she is the one taking care of Roman instead of the sometimes ridiculous extent of her helpless female role in the other books (and when she is a helpless female in this book, it’s for the very understandable reason that she is dying of a brain tumour and merely the fact that she is female as well). After all the buildup and description of what life as Grace Llewellyn the Human With A Vampire Lover was like, I was kind of hoping for more adventures or even description as to what life as Grace the Vampire would be like, but I suppose that wouldn’t have been helpful for bringing the story to its conclusion.

As a trilogy, the first book has no ending, the second book has no beginning and no ending and the third book has no beginning, so these books seriously do depend on each other, and because they were marketed as three separate books, I found that to take away from the experience. As a whole story, this trilogy is really really good. I can tell a lot of research went into it, I loved all the characters as well as Davies’ writing style. 4 stars out of 5. Go read this! It’s good! (Warning for those who care to know: definite sex scenes – don’t read it if you don’t like that. Or better yet, read it but skip over those parts – the rest of the story is good too!)


‘Resurrection: Amazing Grace’ by Elizabeth Davies (February 21st, 2015)

Re-posted from LiveJournal:

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This is the second book in Elizabeth Davies’ Resurrection trilogy, and while still more interesting and well-written than most eBooks I have been unfortunate enough to read, I did not find it up to par with the first book in the trilogy, State of Grace. I truly enjoy the characters and the exploration of Brecon, Wales throughout various periods of history in this trilogy, but it is severely off-putting that the heroine, Grace Llewellyn, is constantly getting severely battered around (and not even seeking medical help!) without ever being able to properly fend for herself. I mean, she’s a pilot, right? Don’t you have to be really level-headed and focused to fly an aircraft? She’s really resourceful and sturdy, but would someone with the analytic skills required of a pilot really not look both ways when crossing an unknown street? I mean, yes, she’s been transported in this instance to 1873, but this basic safety principle has been ingrained in modern-day people since childhood, and would especially be put into effect by a person like Grace whose career involves piloting an aircraft. I mean sure, there are coordinates she must follow when flying, but she would also have to scan the sky at some point or other – she would be used to checking. There is no excuse for her to get run down by a horse because she didn’t look before she stepped out of an alleyway. And what was with refusing to go to a hospital when she returned from the 1700s??? Her collarbone was freaking BROKEN. I understand that she doesn’t want people to keep her in hospital because of her tumour, or to ask too many questions. But I mean, her consultant, Mr. Cunningham, is okay that she’s not in hospital, so if anyone had a problem with her leaving, she could refer them to him. She could explain her broken collarbone and bruising to thugs. They could be masked. The whole scene where Ianto smuggles her to London was basically just so Jeremiah could wipe her memory there. It was completely unnecessary. There could have been a better way to make that happen. However, I really do enjoy the time-travelling vampire romance idea, and I truly look forward to seeing if Grace will become a vampire or not, and if she and Roman will meet in their future.  Also, it bothers me to no end that this book series is advertised as a trilogy, when in reality it is more like three volumes of the same book.
3 stars out of 5.


A Look At My Books (February 17, 2015)

Reposted from my YouTube channel, ‘SharaLee Reads’:

(A sort of home video featuring strange noises, book shelves, and my first time recording with an iPad…)


What I’m Reading – January 23rd, 2015

The first post on my YouTube channel, SharaLee Reads! (and yes I know my camera skills are terrible. Any hints would be most welcome!)


‘Resurrection: State of Grace’ by Elizabeth Davies (January 18th, 2015)

Reposted from LiveJournal:

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State of Grace is not at all what I thought it would be like. It’s a paranormal romance/time travel novel set in Brecon, Wales. Grace Llewellyn is dying of an incurable brain tumour and often finds herself transported back to various time periods but still in the same location. During these unexplained trips that simply happen out of the blue (which she attributes to her tumour), she meets and falls in love with an intriguing vampire named Roman, who had been born in Roman times and resurrected 900 years previous to the book’s main time period of around 1060. The tiresome repetition of erotic coupling scenes aside (the first one or two were engaging, the others felt somewhat obligatory to me, but then again, I’m not much for sex scenes unless I’m really specifically seeking erotica, so that could just be my personal preference), I was pleasantly surprised by Davies’ clear and concise, yet descriptive and emotionally engaging writing style. I enjoyed and appreciated the amount of research that must have gone into the historical accuracy of events and people and places and even the linguistic changes that can take place in one place over hundreds of years, as well as the same attention to detail regarding the popular culture of Grace’s (our) modern time. Reminiscent of the best parts of both the Twilight Saga and Shades of Grey, yet not completely either, I really did enjoy this book. I am not much of a romance novel fan, so I was really surprised how much I liked it.

The only thing I will say straight off that I did not like was how abruptly the book ended. A cliffhanger is one thing, but I felt that nothing had truly been resolved and that there had been no clear direction or catharsis after Grace’s sudden return to her own time near the end. It really is necessary to have the next book (and possibly the last in the trilogy as well) to actually feel a sense of completion or satisfaction, and I did not like that. I feel any given book in a trilogy should be able to stand as a book on its own unless it is merely the first volume of one story. This book is marketed as a complete story in and of itself, and that’s simply not true.

That said, I eagerly began the next book in the trilogy, Amazing Grace, and look forward to finding out why Grace is able to time travel, why she keeps running into Roman the vampire, how their relationship progresses, what can be learned about Wales during the times she experiences there, and whether or not she will meet Roman in her own time. Also: will she become a vampire herself? I have a feeling that story (if it does take place) might be something reserved for the third book, Sanctifying Grace. A great light read, which I give 3.75 stars out of 5.


‘The Hero of Blind Pig Island and Other Island Stories’ by Jimmy Olsen (December 14th, 2014)

Reposted from LiveJournal:

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Jimmy Olsen has done it again! Through his anthology, The Hero of Blind Pig Island and Other Island Stories (a medium more difficult to properly utilize than it seems), the reader gets an accurate glimpse into the outlook of a middle-class North American man, having lived and worked in the Caribbean, with startling clarity. Having spent some time out of my own North American country myself, I thought Olsen very skilfully captured the amalgamation of often confusing thoughts and feelings one harbours regarding one’s home country. It becomes both idealized and irrelevant when away, and the same happens to the country visited upon return ‘home’. One becomes neither a citizen of the United States or the Dominican Republic (Canada or South Korea, in my case), but somehow a visitor and citizen of both. One has become, rather, a citizen of the world. There is a global universality to the tone in these stories that is made somehow clearer by the emphasis on the commonality of human attitude no matter the city, country, or hemisphere.

I enjoyed the emphasis on how deadly the sea can be to those who are not wise enough or interested enough to learn, with the full knowledge that in winter, the prairie (where I come from and where the voice of the piece seems to hail from as well) can be just as deadly. I could see that these stories were drawn even more closely from the author’s own life than his previous book, Poison Makers, and having read that book, was fascinated at the similarity of its main character to that of Clive, the English teacher from Minnesota, who appears frequently in several short stories throughout the book. Both of them are clearly reflections of the author himself, whose writing I have come to consider some of my favourite amongst my entire library.

There were a few annoying spelling and sentence structure errors, and my main beef with the piece was its organization of stories, which I found ended up leaving the reader with a lot of heavy at the end of the anthology. Personal preference would dictate that the title piece be last, simply for its lighter ending, but the theme of respect for the forces of nature and for Death itself is indeed reinforced in ‘Wet Passage’, the final story, so it could have been intentional. Taking that into consideration, I still wasn’t convinced that the final story truly encompassed the message of the work as I would have preferred in a mixed piece like this. My favourite story of them all was ‘Denise,’ the twist at the end of that story being so unexpected, I ended up thinking about it for two days afterward. Possibly my favourite part of this book is the barefaced honesty Olsen uses in his portrayal of family and acquaintances – all of whom are most definitely not perfect. It is the fearlessness in his writing that makes this book so real and so endearing.

I hope someday to be able to write with such clarity and unassuming honesty as Olsen does, to truly capture the human spirit (or at least freely share mine with my readers), as he does. This is the third of Olsen’s works I have experienced, and he has become one of my favourite authors. I highly recommend anything written by him. I give The Hero of Blind Pig Island 4 out of 5 stars for the book itself, but 5 stars for his work in general. Mr. Olsen, you write good books!