Book Review: Wyatt Return of The Cowboy

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The issue with novellas or short stories is that they attempt to cram far too much into a few pages and because of this the story often feels rushed. Not only that but there is also a sense that somethings are missing in the story, be it that they were skipped in order to keep the story short or the author just didn’t feel like adding them, which usually results in unanswered questions and unhappy readers.

This book was no exception to that. I had such a hard time connecting with the main characters, though Wyatt more so than Paige. This did not feel like a good introduction story for the series. Yes, it introduced some of the characters that would be prominent throughout the series but other than that it held little appeal.

By far the worst part was the ending. It came so abruptly that it left me wondering if I chunk of the book was left out during publication. Honestly it felt like there should have been at least another chapter to really bring the story to a close. It felt as though things were just starting to move in the story and all of a sudden it was over. The story was slow and somewhat dull, the romance a bit lackluster and I think if I hadn’t read one of the other books in the series first I wouldn’t consider picking up the other books, for fear they would be as bad as this one. Though the prequel to the Harts of The Rodeo series it is in no way a necessary one to read before starting into the actual series. In fact I’d suggest just skipping it, really not worth the time to read it.

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Book Review: Big Sky Mountain

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.

This novel starts in a place where most romance books don’t, a wedding. It throw me for a loop. Weddings normally come at the end of the romance book, not at the beginning. I figured it had to be the type where the ending was mentioned at the beginning and then the rest of the story would tell what happened prior to that scene. But that was not the case. Once I got over the strangeness of the first scene being a wedding I was able to focus on the book as several of the characters were being introduced and a bit of background was being laid down.

While I did enjoy the characters in this book, all of which were well developed both personality and background wise I did have an issue with one of them. Madison, the four year old girl, in my opinion spoke far too clearly and advance for her age. Perhaps the author just didn’t feel the need to add in a true child’s touch to her voice, but it felt wrong to me. I realize every child is different and some talk clearly sooner than others, but in my experience a four year old is never that clear and concise when it comes to talking. There should be the odd broken sentence, misplaced words and often simpler words used. I have a five year old son and there have been many occasions where I and others had no clue what he said just because of the odd speech patterns children have, and Madison exhibited none of these.

Honestly the more I read the book, especially those parts involving Madison the less I believed she was a four year old. She was more like a six or seven year old in the way she did things and spoke. I found it slightly distracting, if you are going to put a young child in your book make sure they act according to that age. Yes that may cause some difficulties for both author and reader but it makes things feel more real. When finally there was a moment when Madison struggled over a certain phrase, repeating something that Hutch had said, it felt a bit too late to show that she was truly a child and therefore not capable of speaking clearly and using certain words. If the author does not want to put the time in to get children properly portrayed in a book then perhaps they shouldn’t bother having them present. That is simply my opinion.

There is a strong sense of family throughout this book, which is quite often present in western romances from what I have seen. This makes sense as ranching, a theme found in many western romance novels, is a family affair, pasted down from generation to generation. That being said, I felt there was a bit too much of a focus on Madison for it to feel like a romance novel. Yes, she is an important factor to the romance developing, or in this case rekindling, but it didn’t feel right. There should have been more between Kendra and Hutch other than Madison who seemed to play the role of unknowing matchmaker. At this point, which was close to the halfway mark I felt there wasn’t enough interaction between Kendra and Hutch. There is usually the slow building of something such as looks between then (be it small glances or passion/lust filled gazes), those touches that ignite their skin at the mere contact and make their heart beat fast. Something, anything! But alas it was not the case. But I knew it would come at some point so I kept reading.

Another portion of the book I was a bit disappointed in was the lack of ranch time in this book. They are in prime cowboy country, several of the characters are ranchers or cowboys/cowgirls in some manner, and in fact there was mention of the rodeo coming to town. But overall there was very little to no time spent at the ranch, doing ranch work in the book. Yes, there was the odd mention of how Hutch still herded the cattle and mended fences even though he had plenty of hired hands to do that, but I felt as though the western/ranching aspect of this book was lost.

At this point, I’ll be honest with you, I started skimming the pages just to get through it. There was so much attention on Madison and her dog and tiny details that didn’t mean anything to the story as a whole – like when Kendra order a chocolate croissant and a double-tall nonfat latte. Really?! I don’t care about that! Focus on the reason behind the story, not minor details that leave the reader bored and tempted to put the book down.

Finally! Finally it happened. Kendra and Hutch shared their first kiss of the book. It took over half of the way through to reach this point, and while it seemed a bit lacking in description I was glad to finally see the first sign of this story being a romance. It felt like such a long time coming and as quickly as it happened Madison had to swoop in and put an end to it. The kid is getting on my nerves in this book, taking away from what I think could be a really good book and filling it with page after page of what she did, or what her dog did.

Some people may find Madison to be a cute addition to the book, but I just found her presence frustrating at nearly every turn. I felt in a way she was the Jar Jar Binks of this book, interrupting things, not an appealing character and only ended up taking away from the story as a whole not adding to it. It could possibly be that I’m not accustomed to children in books or the way Madison is portrayed, but at this point I felt that the book would have been so much better, if not moving along at a faster pace, if she wasn’t in it. Honestly at this point I can’t even tell you what the story is about, I had thought it would be a cowboy romance with a fun twist the Kendra and Hutch were old lovers that fell apart a while ago, but now I’m sitting here scratching my head trying to figure out what the story is telling me. There’s a kid, a dog, a woman, a man and a few other minor characters that keep popping up, but nothing a real significance has happened as far as I’m concerned. There’s also a new dog now and I have a bad feeling it’s just going to be another distraction to the actual story.

Now their second kiss was better, and thankfully not interrupted by Madison. It was however interrupted by their old ways sneaking back up on them, namely their ability to fight over anything. They spoke of this earlier in the book that Kendra and Hutch were often seen arguing over anything and everything, and that is something they do quite well. Though their squabbles seemed more like something teenagers would do than grown adults. Stop denying your feelings and just get together already! You both clearly want it, but the second you start to give it you pull away, deny it, do anything to avoid the one thing you both clearly want so bad.. So frustrating.

The rodeo part of the book was what I had been looking forward to since it was mentioned earlier on, but like most of the other things in this book I found it highly disappointing. There was more attention on their shopping, eating and playing the games then there was on the actual rodeo event. But at least afterwards there seemed to be some leading up to a romance part, yet I was worried I’d only be left disappointed once more. The good news is, I wasn’t completely disappointed in what happened next. Finally they let their passion take hold. And it was about bloody time, especially since it was coming dangerous close to the end of the book at this point.

The ending was good, though quite what I expected to happen with this story. Everything was quite predictable. Good though the ending may have been it didn’t make up for the rest of the book which just dragged out everything to an agonizing level. You could easily skip 80% of this book and still get the whole story in what was left. If you are looking for a romance novel full of cute fluff and more focus on family and random details than anything else, with a small side of romance then this book is for you. Otherwise I’d say this book can easily be skipped as it left little impression on me.

Overall: The characters were not that great, and Madison especially ruined things for me. The romance was far too slow moving. There were too many other things going on to distract from the main story, if there even was a main story. Part like the rodeo and ranch life were severely under researched. For example, a cowboy would not ride the bulls only once a year and end up winning. Rodeo is not a casual hobby that they do, it’s a full time commitment and the fact that it was portrayed so casually really bothered me. They could have done that same rodeo scene at a fair ground instead, simply cutting out that tiny bull riding scene, and it would have felt more believable. So if you are looking for a rodeo/ranch setting love story, this is not the book for you. If you want a slow paced story about family with small hints of other things then you just might enjoy this book.

Rants! In A Notebook

Allow me a moment to rant here. Now I realize that a lot of my posts so far have been some form of ranting or complaining, but isn’t it human nature to complain? We can’t go through life and never think ‘Darn today’s weather sucks’, ‘Look at that idiot driving while reading the newspaper’ or ‘Holy crap! They want almost four dollars for a loaf of bread!’. And those that say they never complain are clearly liars. Sorry people but I think that’s true.

Anyways, let’s get on with this. Firstly, I have terrible luck with vehicles. TERRIBLE luck. My first car was used when I got it, but served a newly licensed sixteen year old well for a while. My sister had it first and then it came to me when she moved out. It was fine for a while and then the problems started. The transmission went, the brakes went, the wiring went, I lost track of how many times the engine and other parts caught on fire. All in all it was a terrible vehicle. Though I missed the White Blur (that’s what it was nicknamed) when we got rid of it I was also glad to see it go. Let someone else deal with it’s problems.

Irony of it was, the car was totaled only three weeks after it was sold to a family friend. The guy was fine but the car was a lost cause. So the White Blur died her glorious death and I moved on to car number two.

Car two was, oddly enough, also previously owned by my sister. I know what you’re thinking, maybe it was my sister that gave me crappy cars. While that could be argued that yes that was the case, I really don’t think it was. I mean, the both cars were running fine when ownership was passed over to me. I kept up with regular oil changes and other needed works, yet the cars always seemed to have bad things happen to them. So car number two served me quite well for the first year, can’t recall any major problems with it at that point. But then I moved up North and the problems started piling up. The windows either didn’t roll down or they wouldn’t roll up correctly, the radio went, the truck leaked, the battery died and this was only the beginning.

The first winter up here the car died in the cold, all the boosts in the world couldn’t keep it running more than a day. So it was fated to sit dead in the driveway until spring came around and it could be towed to the shop. The shop would fix it, I would drive it for a few weeks then something else would go wrong. That would get fixed and then next thing you know winter was here again. Winter once again meant a dead car. This process repeated itself for four years. If it wasn’t for having access to my husbands truck some days I probably would have gone crazy.

So last summer we decided it was time to get rid of car number two. It was pushing thirteen years old and was having electrical problems that no shop could fix. All the diagnostics said there was nothing yet the car would never start. I would have settled for another used car, but my husband insisted on getting me a brand new. That way if anything went wrong it would be under warranty. We shopped around for a bit and I found the vehicle that was right for me. A nice little Chevrolet Colorada truck. I’ve always wanted a truck, so after two cars I had to have a truck this time. We bought the truck back in August and bid farewell to car number two.

The truck has been great. I was super fortunate to have a new vehicle. New generally means very few if not no problems. That was the case until about two weeks ago, when the truck wouldn’t start. We figured it was probably the cold that killed the battery. It certainly wouldn’t have been the first time the cold killed a battery up here and doubtful it will be the last. But boosting it did nothing.

The problem with having a vehicle that is under warranty is that it has to be taken to the dealership, or else the parts and labor done at any other shop aren’t covered by the warranty and in some cases will void the remainder of the warranty. So I called up my dealer, who is an hour away, and told them what was happening. They made an appointment for it and the tow truck was called. They said they would be out later that day. Mother nature was against that. It snowed, a lot. The highway was shut down for an entire day. There’s only one highway up here and no alternate route. So they had to delay getting it. Another day, and more snow fell. Day three, more snow. Day four, snowing like bloody crazy to the point they were in a white out. This is another reason I hate winter, you can’t get anything done. We are now sitting at day five of the tow truck waiting game. Will they come today? I hope so. Will it be delayed once more? Knowing my luck it will be.

Have you ever had bad experiences with vehicles? I think we likely all have, but some of us are worse off than others.

NaNoWriMo Update and Colds

Well here it is Wednesday again already. That means it’s time to present my update on my NaNoWriMo progress. So far things are still going smoothly for my word count. As I mentioned in my previous post I was invited to play in the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta over the weekend. I had planned and did write a buffer of words so that should I not have the time to write over the weekend I wouldn’t be far behind. Well that buffer served me well however I was still able to write over the three days of beta during times when the server was taken down to fix things, during queue times of waiting to get into the server and also during times when I was waiting for my group to get to a certain area or dungeon so we could plow through it. I managed to average over two thousand words each day during my beta experience, and that is on top of the buffer I wrote the days before it started. All in all I’m pretty happy with how the weekend went both writing and beta wise.

A short note on my beta experience, though I can’t really talk about it too much. I just have to say that game is amazing. So much better than World of Warcraft. The graphics were amazing, the game play smooth and it had a really good story line to it. Unlike WoW I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time traveling in between quests and being repeatedly sent to the same area over and over again. I give this game two very big thumbs up and cannot wait until it’s official release next month.

Now back to my writing. Though I have remained several days ahead on my word count since starting I allowed myself to slack off a bit yesterday. I didn’t like it, I hate the feeling I get when I don’t write, however I’m clearly coming down with something so my brain wasn’t entirely working. I wrote all of 64 words yesterday, certainly not the worse I could have done but far from reaching the daily goal. Today again I am feeling pretty darn crappy, however I am going to force myself to write what is needed for today so that if/when this cold gets worse and I actually do need to take a day or two off because of it I won’t fall behind.

For now I shall retreat under a pile of blankets in front of the TV and have some chicken noodle soup. Tonight shall be my writing time before I hit the sack for a hopefully good nights worth of sleep.

NaNoWriMo Update – Day 2

Today marked the second day of the month long challenge NaNoWriMo. So far this year I am doing great, better than expected in fact. It’s amazing the difference between this year and last. Last year I stumbled through the first twenty thousand words with no real direction and it took me close to half a month to get that much done. It wasn’t until near the end that I finally figured things out and plowed through the words. This year I have wrote at least three thousand words each day so far. Planning things out helped immensely.

Last year I wrote by the seat of my pants and I learned very quickly that I am most definitely a planned not a pantser. So this year I spent weeks, if not a couple of months planning out my novel. Writing up character sheets, drawing maps, figuring out timelines, outlines and jotting down details that may or may not eventually make it into the novel. I must say, it has made my writing so much more enjoyable this time around. There is no more panic filled writing that has really no reason behind it other than word count. I know exactly what needs to be done next and that is what I do.

So at this rate the site predicts I will hit my fifty thousand word goal by the sixteenth of the month. That is if I don’t have a day where I do either a larger amount of writing or do only the minimal amount of words. Either way NaNoWriMo looks to be like it will be successful once again and I am looking forward to getting this initial rough draft done. More updated to come soon. I think I will aim for a weekly Wedneday update on my writing unless something spectacular comes along and prompts me to post before that. Good luck to all the other NaNoers out there and keep those words coming!

Last minute pumpkins and NaNoWriMo

For the last three days our town has been sold out of pumpkins. This was a bit disappointing to my four year old son who was very much looking forward to getting a pumpkin and having it carved. I was slightly disappointed as well since I have always enjoyed carving pumpkins, though admittedly I think my favorite part has always been digging out the innards. However, by chance today we ended up running to the grocery store for some milk and there outside was a large bin of pumpkins that had been delivered late last night. With great joy my son and I dug through the bin in search of the best pumpkins. The pickings were slim but we found two that would work and happily brought them home.

He decided that he would like his to have a triceratops on it. At first I thought it would be impossible, but with a bit of help from Google and a small dose of creativity I managed to make him a triceratops pumpkin that he was very happy with. The results of which can be seen below.

It’s far from perfect however the fact that my son loves it is all that matters. After this I carved my own pumpkin. On it is a scene of two twisted trees, a headstone and a ghost coming out of it. These two pumpkins were my first attempts at carving something other than simple faces on them. I must admit I’m fairly happy with the results and look forward to creating something bigger and better next year.

After tossing the pumpkins on our front steps we took our son trick or treating. That boy made out like a bandit. Went to about 30 houses and his bag was overflowing by the time we got home. He’s not a huge fan of candy, which is a good thing in my opinion, but he loved the fact that there were plenty of small bags of chips for him to snack on. It was a good end to a good and productive day.

Of course now that Halloween is pretty much over that means that NaNoWriMo is only hours away. Yikes! Though I’ve had my prep work done for some time now I am still susceptible to the pre-NaNo gitters. Panic sets in and will likely remain for the first few days while I pound away at the keyboard. Yet as this panic fades away I am left with great satisfaction as I see my word count go up and up. So though I’m a little freaked out right now over the start of it all, I’m also tapping my finger upon the desk impatiently waiting for the stroke of midnight. Two hours and thirty four more minutes to go.

Busy and then some.

The last few weeks have been super hectic here hence why there has been so little (read that as no) activity here. And it’s only going to get more crazy before things settle down again. Tomorrow we leave to go to Nevada for a few days for a job interview for my husband and a town tour for myself. So I probably won’t post much while I’m there. Once I’m back, which should be sometime Thursday, I will post an update on how the trip went and everything else that has been going on lately including our home improvements and my writing. See you all in a week!