Read A Book, Make A Difference – RABMAD

I came across a website recently that I would like to share. It’s called Read a Book, Make a Difference.

charity1-300x209This is from their “about” page:

What exactly is RABMAD? Well, other than being a semi-cool (and not completely forgettable) acronym, RABMAD stands for Read a Book, Make a Difference.  Shortening the name helps in a lot of ways: number of characters typed to arrive here, space on bumper stickers, etc. (For the record, you can also get here the intuitive, long-hand way—http://www.ReadABookMakeADifference.com)

RABMAD is the brainchild of author R.S. Guthrie. The concept is not new, however. Giving back. Returning success to the people.

Writers making a difference.

The concept is simple. Most avid readers are going to purchase another book. Why not give them an additional option of supporting some up and coming writers, knowing that in doing so, their hard-earned dollars not only get them a great read, but will also help someone in need with their plight?

That is what RABMAD is all about. Promoting authors who are giving back from the sales of their books. Writers who give a percentage of their net proceeds to their own chosen cause,  non-profit, or charity.

What you will find on this site is an ever-growing portfolio of talented writers who care. You will be able to browse their bios, their books, and their causes. RABMAD will link you to their author websites, Amazon pages, twitter following, and other author-related places.

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I think this is very cool (I know I’m dating myself with that word but I can’t think of a better one at the moment), and since I have done this  – in my case, donating a portion of the sale of each book I sell to the education of poor children – I thought I’d join. My profile is here with a picture of some very funny and cute boys. So if you’re a reader, consider checking out some of these authors. If you’re writer and you use some of your book sales to help others, consider joining.

Thanks.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This is supposed to be a classic and the movie Apocalypse Now was supposed to have been based on this book, so I thought I’d give it a try

heart of dGenre: fiction

Blurb: (from the audio book jacket) “Acclaimed as one of the great, albeit disturbing, visionary works of Western civilization, Joseph Conrad’s haunting tale dramatizes the ugly realities of British colonial imperialism. Charlie Marlow, a seaman, is sent by an ivory company to retrieve a cargo boat and one of its employees, Mr. Kurtz, who is stranded deep in the heart of the Belgian Congo. Marlow’s  journey up the treacherous, dark river soon becomes a struggle to maintain his own sanity as he witnesses the brutalization of the natives by white traders and discovers the enigmatic Mr. Kurtz. Kurtz, once a genius and the company’s most successful representative, has transformed into an atrocious savage and traded his soul to become ruler of his own horrific sovereignty, free from the conventions of European culture.”

What I liked: That it was short and the narrator, Scott Brick did a wonderful Marlow.

What I didn’t like: I’m not sure who wrote that blurb, but they sold me and whoever else reads this book a bill of goods. What brutalization? who was a atrocious savage…? I’m not sure what book he/she read, but it wasn’t this one. This is one of those “classics” that it is so dull it has to be a classic or it would have gone out of print. Whenever you see “visionary works” beware. I tried to figure out the point of this story but I must be too dull. I just couldn’t do it. I tried, I really did. I listened to the whole thing, thinking I’d get it as some point, but I never did. This is one of those books that you pick apart in a literature class because otherwise there would be no point in reading it. I never saw Apocalypse Now – I heard it was very brutal and I’m not into brutal – so I’m not sure what Francis F. Coppola was smoking when he adapted his movie from this book, but it must have been good stuff.

Rating: 1/5

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

cl princeBook II in the Infernal Devices series

Genre: YA fantasy

Blurb: (goodreads) In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

What I didn’t like: There were two things I wasn’t too thrilled with but they were both minor. One was the odd ending. It actually confused me. Very close to the end Clare, after the big dramatic fight scene, seems to end the book when someone special shows up at the Institute’s doorstep – I won’t say who. I don’t want to give anything away for those who want to read it.  Then she adds a bit that I would guess will be clarified in the next book, but it’s just confusing to me. The interesting bit for book III is the person who shows up. She should have left it at that.  The second was in the audio version, two different people did the reading, one male, one female (sorry, I forgot to write down their names). They both did a wonderful job, I just wished they would have stuck to one person. It is kind of disconcerting to switch back and forth.

What I did like: The book has the usual good dialogue, good character and plot development, but what I have to give her kudos for is a scene about 3/4 of the way through that allows Tess and Will (the two main love interests) to let their feeling go when they shouldn’t have. It was brilliant! It is a wonderfully seductive scene as well, for teens and non-teens alike. I really like how Clare makes a scene steamy without being raunchy. Very important for a YA audience and I appreciate it myself. The woman (Clare) knows how to build sexual tension.

Rating: 4/5

Poe Anniversay

poe coverOn this date in 1841, (172 years ago!) Edgar Allan Poe published what is thought to be the first English-language contribution to the mystery genre, The Murders in the Rue Morgue. He introduced C. Auguste Dupin, a French eccentric who used deductive reasoning to solve crimes. Sound familiar?

He also published two other Dupin stories: The Mystery of Marie Roget, and The Purloined Letter, neither of which I have read. I think I’ll read these,  starting with the Rue Morgue, which a read a long time ago so I don’t remember, and let you know how it goes.

 

 

 

Join me and three other authors for a free book forum

room of ones own_logoThis next Wednesday, April 17th, at 6:30 at A Room Of Ones Own Bookstore in Madison,  three other Madison authors and will be offering a free forum on book publishing.

The other authors:

Marty Drapkin, author of Ten Nobodies and Now and at the Hour. He has a master’s degree in English education from the University of Wisconsin. Learn more at the author’s website!

Spike Pedersen, author of the self-published novel At First Light. Follow Spike’s blog!

Sarah White, author of 3 books published the traditional way as well as the self-published Write Your Travel Memoirs. She coaches self-publishing and writing. Find out more about Sarah at her website First Person Productions!

Come join us for a night of inspiration, and become the author you were meant to be.

Location: 
315 W. Gorham St.
Madison, 
Wisconsin
53703-2218
United States

Rainwater by Sandra Brown

rainwaterI picked this up by chance. I had not heard of Sandra Brown. I needed another audio-book to listen to and the few I have ordered from the library hadn’t arrived yet, so I picked up this one. I’m glad I did.

Genre: historical fiction

Blurb: (from Goodreads) The year is 1934. With the country in the stranglehold of drought and economic depression, Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in balance. Between chores of cooking and cleaning for her residents, she cares for her ten-year-old son, Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose misunderstood behavior finds Ella on the receiving end of pity, derision, and suspicion. When David Rainwater arrives at the house looking for lodging, he comes recommended by a trusted friend as “a man of impeccable character.” But Ella senses that admitting Mr. Rainwater will bring about unsettling changes.

What I didn’t like: It was a little slow to start but not much.

What I liked: It was a good story overall: good and an uncommon  character in the main character’s son – Solly – who was probably autistic but was considered an “idiot” in the 1930s, (mostly) believable story line, interesting backdrop of the depressive south, nice couple twists at the end. Victor Slezak was the narrator and did a nice job. I will definitely be picking up another one of Sandra’s books.

Rating: 4.5/5

I sure hope David is correct. I like Goodreads as an independent voice in the books world and a place for author and readers to connect. I also hate to see Amazon gobble up another book site. Bigger is not always better in my book, though I’m sure Goodreads made a pretty penny selling themselves off. It’s hard to begrudge them that. Time will tell, time will tell.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

If you read The Kite Runner and liked it, then you will really enjoy A Thousand Splendid Suns.a thousand s suns

Genre: Fiction

Blurb: (From Goodreads) A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation to be found in love.

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them—in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul—they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

What I liked: I liked The Kite Runner, but for me, some of the coincidence made certain parts of the book just too unbelievable, making the story less real. There was none of that here, only a wonderful story written (as in Khaled’s previous book) so that you are completely immersed in a land and culture that most in the West know little about. Growing up in the West, it is a difficult story to read at times. Besides the hardship of war, the hardships and persecution these women endure because of where they live and the time that the story takes place, it can upset a Westerner such as myself. But it’s a good education, and worth the nasty bits. (Khaled knows how to make a bad guy a bad guy.) I also have to give a nod to the narrator of the audio I listened to. Her name is Atossa Leoni and she did a wonderful job.

What I didn’t like: Khaled starts out talking about Mariam (one of the two main protagonists in the book) as a young girl, chronicling her hard yet simple life until she is a young teen (I won’t give away what happens to her then), but then she is suddenly dropped [Yes, it felt like the author literally dropped the character], and we have to abruptly switch gears and start over with the other main protagonist, Laila. The two women do eventually meet, their relationship and lives in the war-torn country is the main gist of the story, but that change from one women’s story to the next was a bit harsh.

Rating: 4.5/5

P is for Peril by Sue Grafton

p is for perilGenre:  Mystery

Blurb: (from Goodreads) When Dowan Purcell, a respected physician who operates a nursing home, disappears, his ex-wife hires Santa Teresa PI Kinsey Millhone to look into it. Fiona Purcell is still seething over Dow’s affair and subsequent marriage to Crystal, a former stripper, yet they’re still friends, and she seems worried. But when his body is discovered, she’s among the suspects. Both of Dow’s wives, at least one of his business partners, and perhaps even Crystal’s teenage daughter had motives to kill.

What I liked: I’m glad I didn’t read the Goodreads review of this book or I would never have picked it up. I considered this book a considerable step up from Grafton’s first novel (see pervious post) which was the first book of hers I read, thinking I should start at the beginning. I jumped to the Ps hoping it would be better. It was, but according to the Goodreads reviews, it wasn’t one of her best. The author gives us a little more information about Kinsey – the detective – about her life and the people in her life – the nice landlord, the funny old lady tenant .. and the detective work is easier to follow in this story – not as disjointed as in the first one. It’s a decent read – entertaining, good ending… but from the reviews, I will definitely try another letter.

Things I didn’t like: The subplot with Kinsey and a couple of men whom she wants to rent a new working space from seems to be kind of thrown in to add excitement. It does, but it just seems a bit disjointed because of how serious this subplot becomes .(I won’t spoil anything here for those who want to read it.)

Rating: 3.5/5

For you indie writers out there

Here is some words of wisdom from an interesting blog I just came across: http://blog.absolutelovepublishing.com/2013/01/16/how-to-hire-an-editor.aspx

And by the way – for those of you looking for an editor – I will have a copy editing certification by May of this year! I’m so excited!