Monday, October 5, 2015

Kellynch by Kwen D. Griffeth

If this was any book other than a Jane Austen Fanficton, I'm pretty sure I would have loved it. But as it is, it's the sequel to Persuasion, and was sufficiently different from the original book that I didn't really enjoy it.

First off, I read this book straight after re-reading Persuasion. It had been some time since I last read it, and I wanted to make sure the book was fresh in my mind. That may be why any little different grated on me.

Before I go into the differences, let me quickly recap the plot. Anne and Captain Wentworth have been married for three years, when Wentworth finds out that the "nice" cousin Elliot isn't as nice as he appears. He and Anne are at risk of losing their beloved Kellynch. In an attempt to save it, Wentworth goes back to sea, while Anne deals with the problems at home (although being kept in the dark about her problems doesn't really help her much).

So why did I say this book felt different from the original? Because all the characters were OOC. Elizabeth suddenly becomes nice, Sir Elliot is willing to sell Kellynch to Wentworth at a low cost (what happened to that 7 years of renting to the Crofts anyway?) and yeah, basically everyone seems to have become nicer. Except William Elliot, who as the villain of this story as way more dastardly than he was in the original. I don't really mind the OCs like Charlotte or the various tenants, or the sudden disappearance of major characters (lady Russell and Mary are barely present, and the Musgroves not at all, if I remember correctly). It's the fact that the characters seem so different from their original that irks me.

As for plot, there are a few things that I don't quite understand, like the complete lack of letters between Wentworth and Anne (and from the book, it seems like letters weren't banned, and anyway, Wentworth wasn't literally at sea the whole time), and a few passages of time that didn't seem to add up. But I can't really go into that without giving major spoilers. Apart from that, though, the plot was interesting, and I enjoyed reading that.

All in all, if this wasn't a sequel to Persuasion, if it didn't feature the much loved characters and if I didn't happen to read the original just before reading this, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. The plot made me raise my eyebrows a few times, but on the whole, it's entertaining, with enough twists and turns and dramatic scenes. It's a pity it just isn't Austen.

Disclaimer: I received this book free as part of Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for a free and honest review.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Blog Tour: Kellynch by Kwen D. Griffeth

Hey everyone! I'm here with a blog tour post today, consisting of the book's info and a excerpt for all of you to enjoy! I'll post my review on Monday :D 

Title: Kellynch
Author: Kwen D. Griffeth
Genre: Jane Austen Fanfiction / Romance
Jane Austen completed “Persuasion” in August 1816.  It was to be her last book.  She left us with the story of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth and she left them approaching “happily ever after.”  What happens the day following “happily ever after?”

The story of Kellynch picks up three years after the couple married and were able to secure the Kellynch estate from Sir Walter and Cousin William Elliot agreed to waive the entailment.

It would seem all is well with the young couple, but all is not as it seems. 

Kellynch is a story of deceit and treachery as well as courage and overcoming the odds.  It is a story in which those who were assumed to be friends are not and where support comes from unexpected places.  Love again, will, be tested in a story set against the backdrop of historical events. 

Throughout the book, I have tried to remain true to the characters as Miss Austen created them.  I sought to develop and introduce new characters that would meet with her approval.  

Author Bio
When describing my life, I think Douglas Adams said it best, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Books have always been a large part of my meandering. 
I grew up on a ranch in southeastern Idaho and my friends were a mixed and rowdy bunch.  Louis L’Amour told me tales of the west, but Edgar Rice Burroughs took me to the jungles of Africa.  Sir Author Conan Doyle walked with me through the fog-covered streets of London, and Jane Austen taught me to be a gentleman.
I read several other authors but I was fourteen when I met the man.  Sitting in an English class, I chose a book from a required reading list and I was introduced to Ernest Hemingway.  His book, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” allowed Mister Hemingway, Robert Jordan, and I to fight in the Spanish Civil War and I never left Idaho.  When I closed the back cover, I knew that no matter whatever else I did, I would be a writer.  Even today, when I think back, I am still in awe of how Hemingway’s words touched the soul of an adolescent boy.

I entered the Army a year after high school and stayed in uniform for the next two decades.  The military offered me the opportunity to live my own adventures separate from the ones I lived vicariously in books.  While in uniform, I worked in a variety of fields, Infantry, Military Police, and Military Intelligence.  I worked on a psychiatric ward and later at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.  I took trips to Mexico, Canada, and twice to Germany.  I have visited the forty-eight contiguous states and desperately want to see the other two.

 Along the way, I met and kept printed friends Allister Maclean, Robert Ludlow, John Grisham, and Tom Clancy.  I had flings with several others, Joseph Wambaugh, Clive Cussler, and Stephen King.
I started to write and failed.  Repeatedly, I would start a story, only to end it and discard it as it sounded too much like the works of one of my friends.  I went through periods when I refused to read, because I was frustrated and angry with those friends.  Those friends who were what I wanted to be.

Fifteen years ago, I got sick.  I got sick and it was misdiagnosed.  I almost died, but then I met the doctor who figured out the riddle and, with his help, I started working my way back.  As I got better and my brain got stronger, stories, characters, and plots started to form.  I found my voice and I published my first book, a novella called “Dear Emma,” in February 2012.

I used to feel strange telling people, “I got better and now I hear voices,” but the statement is accurate.  I feel I am in good company as several authors have made such references.  As I said at the beginning, I am exactly where I need to be.     



The landscape of quilts moved as the woman beneath them stretched and a good morning hum accompanied the movement of bed covers.  A hand showing manicured nails appeared from under those covers and slowly lowered them to reveal a tousled head of brunette hair and then, brown eyes.  The eyes squinted as they glanced at the angle of the sunshine beamed through a nearby window.  The sun was bright, sharp, and rude; the eyes closed in self-defense.  Even so, the brightness of the intruder triggered a much more intense stretch and the accompanying hum sounded more like a groan.

“Oh, if I do not force myself from this bed this instant, people will begin to mistake me for my sisters.”

A chuckle from the distant corner of the room responded and the woman sat up.  Across from her, a rounded woman, in her fifties, sat on a chair.  On her chubby face was a smile as she studied her needlepoint from under the ruffle of a white mob cap that sat so low on her head; it could have been made there.

“Anne Elliot Wentworth, if you slept until noon, every day, no one of any importance would ever mistake you for your sisters.”

Anne Elliot Wentworth joined the chuckle and replied, “Charlotte, you have been with me since I was but eight years old.”

“And a better student there was not.”

“Let me finish.”

The older woman lowered her gaze in an act of deference, but kept the smile of familiarity, “Sorry, Milady.”

“As I was saying, you have been with me most of my life and in many ways, my best friend.  So, I believe your opinion of me compared to my sisters to be a bit skewed.”

“Yes, Milady, I might plead guilty to such a charge, but I remain convinced of my assertion.”

Anne threw back the covers and rose from her bed.  Wearing only her nightshirt, she walked to the aforementioned window.  She stood modestly to the side and looked over the lush gardens and closely cropped lawns before her. 

The gardens of Kellynch stretched along the east side of the main house and circled around to the south end.  The collage of colors that greeted her forced an intake of breath.  Though the flowers were at a distance, simply their overpowering beauty triggered the memory of their perfumes.  She shook her head slightly and marveled.

“Charlotte, I have lived here most of my life and I am still amazed at the beauty of Kellynch.  This has to be the most beautiful spot in all of England, maybe the entire world.”

“This is a beautiful house,” Charlotte nodded, “and I believe with all my heart you are the proper lady for it.  I have to admit though; being married to a fine gentleman like the Captain has more benefits than just the acreage before you.”

Anne turned away from the window and watched as her companion warmed water in the fireplace.  The older woman had originally been her nanny, then one of the housemaids, and as the years passed, she became her personal maid.  Now, due to Anne’s ascension, she had become the maid for the lady of the house.

“I am the wife of Captain Fredrick Wentworth.  How I love the sound of that.  We have been married almost three years and still I find myself repeating that in my mind.  I am the wife of Captain Fredrick Wentworth.  Through all the years of wishing it were so, I did not realize how happy I would actually be.  If but for one disappointment, I would be living the life of a fairy tale.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Devil's Bones by Jefferson Bass

As you all know, I'm a sucker for a good mystery story. Plus, I love Bones (except maybe season 10, because of a certain character's death). So when I saw this on sale at Popular, I figured that it was time to try a new author. Now, I just wish they had more of his books on sale so that I could buy them.

The Devils Bones follows Dr. Bill Brockton, a forensic anthropologist who works that The Body Farm, a place where bodies are left to rot under various conditions in the name of science. In this book, he basically faces three mysteries - a woman who was found burned (could her husband have killed her?), a urn of ashes that aren't really human (so where are the bodies?) and his nemesis, Garland Hamilton, who has escaped from custody and is presumably hunting them down.

While there are three more-or-less separate stories, it didn't feel like the book was overdoing it. The Garland case is a continuation from the previous books, and I thought the way the other two mysteries were integrated into the plot were well-done. I never felt confused by what was going on, and managed to keep up with everything, even though I had to stop a few times, since I was attending a conference and didn't have much time to read.

I liked Dr. Brockton as a character, and I really wish I've read the previous books in the series. I don't feel like I'm missing any particularly important information, but when he talks about a past character - well, it feels like that was a major turning point for him. I would have liked to read it. I should go see if the library has an e-copy for me to borrow.

Apart from Dr. Brockton, I liked his 'teammates', Art (police) and Miranda (his assistant). Both of them are fun to read, and they strike a good balance for me. They don't exist to show the reader how smart Dr. Brockton is (because that would be tiring), nor are they needlessly argumentative. The trio feel like a good team.

This book has a solid cast of characters, interesting mysteries that I thought were well-paced, and a great setting. I've never drunk sweet tea before, but while reading this book, I had the urge to try it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain

This is technically a book that I'm reading for one of my tutorials, but I find that I need to write things down, to get some order to my thoughts.

The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It is, to me, a warning. The internet came about about because it had the element of generativity. Generativity is "a system's capacity to produce unanticipated change through unfiltered contributions from broad and varied audiences." Basically, because people can add things to the internet, it grew so fast. But now, we're shifting away from generativity to what the author calls "sterile" appliances. The threat of viruses and bad code makes people like me go to closed systems (like Apple), where screening is involved and I'm pretty sure that the apps I download aren't malware.

But, this shift threatens the essence on which the internet is built. So how are we going to combat this? The book talked about the Verkeersbordvrij experiment, where removing traffic signals actually reduced accidents, and points to the success of wikipedia as a way that social pressures instead of legal means can be used to prevent bad information (and possible, bad software) from being spread.

To me, this seems to involve the belief that the majority of people are good and those intending to make mischief can be reigned in. But as the book itself points out, there is now a business model for viruses, and I'm pretty sure that spam mail and the scam emails are making someone money. I believe even the wikipedia model has some flaws - too little eyes on it, and it may just falter (I think there was the Saved by the Bell wiki, that had its content changed, right?). It may be that the generative element works only when the audience size within a certain range.

Or maybe I'm being unnecessarily cynical.

Maybe we can preserve the generative element that let the internet grow. After all, “generatively itself is, at its core, not a technology project. It is an education project, an exercise in intellect and community, the founding concepts of the universe.” It may be that the current and future generation of internet uses, the ones who grew up with the concept of the internet, are willing to be informed participants, who will demand the ability to mix and create new things out of the existing, who will use open-source software to its fullest potential. Things like fanvids (as insignificant as they seem) tell me that people taking a range of things and making something new from them.

Or they could be so used to apps that only the select few go beyond that to create apps and rewire parts of the internet.

Maybe, generativity will settle down to a more limited range in the future - we can mix and match and make things, but only using source data that is approved (or imported to the virtual world by ourselves). Would that strain of retained generativity be the real thing, or a false one, controlled by one of the larger tech companies?

I have no idea, but this book definitely gave me a lot of think about.

Now here's hoping I can write my book report.