Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: The Brown House by Christy Sloat

Hello everyone,

I had the opportunity to read and review The Brown House by Christy Sloat. The book is definitely not in a genre I normally like to read. There are very few YA books that I have ever gotten into. Paranormal is hit or miss for me. Romance novels are almost always out of the question for me, too. However, the reason I decided to take this on was for you readers out there. I have a very mixed crowd of followers, but I am aware that many of you book lovers who do read this are quite fond of YA, paranormal, and romance genres. This one has all three, so I figured as a "thank you", I'd swallow my aversion to these genres, and give it a read.

Tghe story is about a teenager names Brylee, who moves with her family from California to New Jersey. She didn't want to come, but soon makes friends with the girl next door, Lyn, and then of course, there is the romantic interest in her older brother, Ephraim. The house Brylee now lives in seems to be haunted, and it's up to her to solve the mysteries of the home's past occupants. Sorry for not giving more info, but I hate to give any story away completely.

For starters, I have to say that I really did not enjoy this book. This doesn't mean it wasn't good writing. In fact, Sloat is an excellent writer in my opinion. My problem was the genre. Unfortunately, I still have a hard time finding any YA novel that interests me. I found the content boring because I don't really relate to it. This story was narrated in first person (Brylee), and Sloat seemed to really catch the essence of a teenager's perspective on things. Her descriptions of scenery were adequate for a YA novel, and even the romance portions were written well. The haunted and spooky aspects of the story were developed well, and the ability to carry this plot into a sequel looks so far to me to be a good choice. One thing I did notice was that at times I felt more character development was needed for the supporting cast. Maybe Book Two does that, but I will never find out. 

I want to stress how good of a writer I think Christy Sloat is. I remember feeling the same way about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I tried to read it when it first came out and before the movie was released. I remember thinking that J. K. Rowling was an excellent writer, but I was bored by the fact that the characters were kids. Sloat is a very competent writer, and it shows in her work. I wish I was into the genre even a little bit more than I am, because I would have really gotten into it, I think. With Sloat being an independent writer and having little exposure, I can't use popularity as a basis of comparison, either. But I know what I read, and it was technically quite good. If Sloat wrote about medieval fantasy, I'd definitely give it a shot. I suppose the only other way to describe it is to liken it to how I feel about music. I'm sure that many of you can appreciate bands who are very good in there genre, even if you dislike it. For example, I would take classic Gun's N' Roses any day of the week over anything else. I also loathe country music in general. However, there are times when I am stuck having to listen to country music, and I do notice that some bands/performers out there are just far superior than others. Despite the fact that I hate country music,. I can appreciate the quality of product that some country artists come up with, and I'll still turn the radio dial to something more favorable every time I have the opportunity. 

So I guess that sums it up, really. The Brown House is, in my opinion, a good YA/Paranormal Romance read. I have no doubt that Book 2 is/will be just as good as the first. So for those of you who love this genre, I believe it to be worth your time. I have to give Christy Sloat 4 starts on this one. She is a good author and more people need to discover her. 

Also available at Kobo and other online ebook retailers.

Until next time, 

R. M.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

CODA Not Acceptable?! Says Who?!

Hello everyone,

I would like for you all to take a moment and look over this picture I downloaded from Facebook. Just read through if you can.

As I read this, I began to feel somewhat offended. A Deaf person is telling me that the term CODA is wrong because it is sound based? Whoa, hold on Deaf person, let me see if I can explain my perspective on this.

I grew up in a very rural area with two Deaf parents. Throughout my childhood, I always signed it "mother father Deaf". I was about 17 or 18 the first time I saw the term CODA. It was presented as an acronym, Child Of Deaf Adult/s. When I saw this, I immediately identified with it. It made me feel validated. Always signing "mother father Deaf" was really telling everybody that "yea, my parents are Deaf".  CODA, on the other hand, says that "I AM that child of Deaf parents". Let me see if I can put it another way for you.

CODAs often refer to themselves as living in between two worlds; the Deaf world and the hearing world. Many of us feel as though we are never really quite fitting in fully with either one. 

For myself in the hearing world, I do things differently than most other people I know because I do them in a more Deaf way. I am very blunt with hearing people, and a lot of them are put off by that. All my life I have been criticized by hearing people that I look angry all the time, when in fact I am not. It's just my tendency to wear a "Deaf face". I have given up on explaining this to hearing people, because most of them don't understand it. Most of them can't even wrap their heads around it. The end result is that it leaves me misunderstood and left out of a lot of things in the hearing world. It's been a very frustrating experience.

For myself in the Deaf world, I do things a little bit differently than the Deaf do, especially when I was a kid. I liked my music to be loud and I sang in front of my parents when I listened to my music. I had hearing friends, etc etc. One thing my parents never did for myself or my sisters was give us name signs. I noticed that some of my parents Deaf friends would speak with their own CODA children instead of sign with them. It was very weird in a lot of ways that I cannot readily explain, but often times I felt like I just wasn't one of them. Much like I wasn't a hearing person, either. That's what it means to be between two worlds. Where the hell was my identity?

Ever since I learned the term CODA, I have dropped "mother father Deaf". Every Deaf person I have ever met either refers to me as a "CODA" or asks me if I am Deaf myself. I take great pride in the latter because it makes me feel like signing is so native to me, that Deaf person had no idea I was hearing. I believe my deceased father is looking at that from somewhere and smiling his ass off. In all seriousness, I have never met a Deaf person who was offended by the term CODA. I have met some who didn't know what it meant, but I would then explain "mother father Deaf" and they would say "ok, now I get it". I have never seen a sign for CODA. I have always just fingerspelled it, and it comes out like a fingerspelled loan sign, like "bus" or "bank". The fingerspelling is its own sign. The sign that this Deaf person has seen that is the ASL sign for "self-esteem boost" is one I have never seen before. But I must say, I kind of like it. To me, that's a very ASL way of saying "I am a CODA. Very proud of both worlds to which I belong." I'm not sure how it can be viewed as inappropriate or offensive, but this Deaf person's criticism is a shining example of what CODAs mean when we say that sometimes we don't feel accepted into either world. For me personally, I know many Deaf people who accept me for who I am fully, hearing experiences included. I feel it's a very small minority of Deaf people who don't fully accept that. 

So when I see that term CODA, I feel that yes, it is somewhat English based, but you know what? That's ok because I AM hearing. I love the fact that it is also a term used in music, because I love music, and that's another "CODA" thing. In general, we love music! The fact that I fingerspell CODA like it is an actual sign shows it's somewhat Deaf based, too. And apparently this newly used sign for CODA is very ASL based. You can't criticize it for not being fully ASL. ASL is beautiful, and true CODAs NEVER forget that. But you can't be mad at us for creating our own identity. Just because we identify with hearing in many ways does't mean we disrespect or reject our Deaf identity, and just because we identify with Deaf in many ways doesn't mean we reject or disrespect our hearing identity. Stop making me feel crazy! I will not pick one over the other. I am who I am and that's both! Accept it Deaf! Accept it hearing! If you can't, to hell with you for being so narrow minded!

Just another sliver of what it means to be a CODA.

Until next time,

R. M.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

100 Followers!!! Call to Fight Audism from the AFF!

Hello to everyone,

This is just an in-between reviews post. Today marks a milestone for me, as The Fraser File now has 100 followers! I'd say that's pretty good in less than a year's time. I want to thanks every one of you who have decided to follow the blog. Not sure how many continually read it, but that's ok. I'm getting enough comments from time to time to make this a worthwhile venture.

I guess the next question is, how do I celebrate this? Well, back when I reached either 20 or 25 followers, I held a giveaway of my ebook, Allesandra's Bequest, to five people. The only thing I have done this far is send messages to vintage books and KindleMom, who are my 99th and 100th followers. I have no way of knowing who was number 100, but as a thank you to them I have offered free copies of the same book.

So for the rest of you, I want to do something a little more interactive. You see the AFF logo on the right hand side of the blog? Previously I had stated that if anyone finds an Audism related ad on my page and reports it to me, I would make them the latest Superstar on the AFF roster, proving your worth as an Audism Fighter. It's a take-off of my a guilty pleasure of mine - professional wrestling. Also, check out The Frog's (his album cover at the bottom of the page is a link) album, T3RD, and hear his song "Professional Wrestling".

Ok, got off track there for a second. What I have noticed is that I have yet to see an Audism related ad since I started blocking them. I assume that so far, no one else has seen one. I could be wrong, but I go with what I have in front of me.

So here's the deal. If you find an act of Audism anywhere on the internet (should't be difficult if you are actively looking for it), leave a comment with a link to the website. I will break down all the horrible Audist aspects within it, and place you on the AFF roster, complete with cool wrestling nickname! This is also in addition to finding an Audism related ad on this site. As an additional thank you and in celebration of reaching 100 followers, the first 5 Superstars added to the AFF roster will also receive a copy of Allesandra's Bequest for free!

Again, thanks for following the blog everyone! I want to make one last comment about the petition from change.org that you can see on the right hand side of this page. The petition is intended to help stop St. Martin's Press from publishing Kristin Henson's Super Smutty Sign Language book. I have posted on this before, and it's Audist for sure! The petition needs 10,000 signatures to go forward. Initially this petition got a lot of signatures, but has slowed down immensely over the last few weeks. If you haven't done so, please sign it. If you have any friends that would like to help the cause, get them to sign it to. Clicking the ad on this page will link you to where you can sign the petition for yourself. The more signatures means the louder the voice will be telling St. Martin's Press and Kristin Henson herself that this book is offensive to culturally Deaf people everywhere. As CEO of the AFF, I urge you to sign the petition! Hahaha!

Until next time,

R. M.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: Milk and Oranges by Charlene Wexler

Hello Everyone,

The Global E-Book Awards are over and the winners announced! I'd like to say congratulations to you all and it was an honor to be a judge for this awards ceremony. Having said that, let the reviews follow.

This week I am reviewing Milk and Oranges by Charlene Wexler. This a collection of short stories. Most, if not all, are from the author's own life. There were two stories that really got me. The fist was called "The Cruel Club". It was an amazing short that made me cry (yes, this guy does that once in a while). It dealt with grief and loss, more specifically mothers who have lost a child. In this case it was related to cancer. I found the emotional part of it gripping, to say the least.

The other story was entitled "Motorcycles are Dangerous". It is somewhat related to "The Cruel Club". It's about her dying son (leukemia), who wants a motorcycle. It's a very short bit, but the emotion is again raw and I found it interesting.

Unfortunately these are the only good stories from this book. For me, the remaining thirty-three stories were not good. I found many of them to be poorly written, and not because of poor editing (editing was good) or poor command of the English language. It was just that the stories were relatively boring. If there was something special about these stories they were lost on me. Maybe "I had to be there", or something like that. I find it somewhat difficult to say that an author should have gotten more in depth when it comes to short stories, but a little more wouldn't have hurt. If Wexler wants to make these more interesting to the reader, they need a little more punch or something. I just wasn't seeing it. There was also a slight hint of "holier than thou" attitude in some of the stories. It wasn't present in all of them, for sure. But it reminded me of one of my aunt-in laws and how she is always keeping up appearances. It's weird, but it didn't sit right with me. It actually made me kind of dislike the author.

I wish I could give this book more than two stars, but I can't. That's where it is. If "The Cruel Club" and "Motorcycles are Dangerous" were their own book apart from the other thirty plus stories, I'd give it four stars. So if you really want to read those two stories, I'd say go get her e-book. I believe it is available at most online e-book retailers. Otherwise, if your reading tastes are anything like mine, good luck.

Until next time,

R. M.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Update and Dragon Naturally Speaking

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to give a short post today to let all of you know that for the first time I am trying Dragon's Naturally Speaking software. This is very new for me and this may be very awkward and take some time to get it together. I'm finding that what I need to do is to retrain my brain to have a complete sentence ahead of time before I speak it, otherwise what comes out on screen is not very good in either spelling or grammar, or word recognition. I just said the word "text is" and what came out was "taxes". I have said plenty of things that are also screwing up as well, but I won't get into those now. Suffice it to say that Dragon's Naturally Speaking software does not recognize CODA speak.

My goal for using the software is to help me write future e-books. Currently I am working on a novel about my life as a CODA. What I found so far in my writing process is that my typing is horrible. I am a very slow at this and my brain processes ideas faster than my fingers can type. The end result is that by the time my typing catches up to where my brain is, I've either lost a good portion of, or the entire idea completely. So hopefully this software will help me to be able to get my ideas on screen quicker, and therefore I can retain most of my ideas before I lose them.

So far this is still going slow, but it still faster than I can type so it's already a plus. I am very confident that as I continue to use the software I will be able to speak more smoothly and quickly, which will leave me with some minor editing to do after I'm done speaking. I am already noticing that the software is picking up my accent a little more clearly the more I speak, so hopefully this will make a big improvement in this process as well.

For those of you who do write and do not have this software, I suggest finding a copy of it and giving it a try. So far I am having fun with this new software and I expect it to be a big help to me in the future. Hopefully this will translate into possibly having more frequent posts on this blog. Even if it doesn't I should still get these things done quicker, and that's a huge plus for me. So here's to hoping that I will be writing more efficiently and more quickly. It's given me my first good feeling in quite some time that the CODA novel will be ready and published much more soon than I have been recently expecting it to be.

More book reviews soon become as tomorrow is the Global E-Books Awards ceremony in Santa Barbara, California. This means that I can post reviews of all the e-books I read and judged for the GEAs. I believe there were eight of them, and I plan is to post one e-book review per week. So that will be a good two-month stretch, if not a little more when you factor in books I'm currently reading. I am looking forward to being much more productive over the next few months. Hopefully you readers will be seeing that as well.

Until next time,

R. M.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Audism Experiment and Book Review Update: Red Leaves and the Living Token by Benjamin David Burrell

Hello everyone,

I wanted to update all of you in regards to the Audism Experiment posts, which were done to show how Audism is such a deep seeded part of every day life by seeing what happened with content related ads presented by Google AdSense. I have looked into options for blocking those sites that promote Audism and/or that are Audist in nature (my apologies if Audi car ads still show up). What I found is that I can block whole categories of ads.

So what I decided upon for now was to block everything health-related. The medical profession is one of the worst Audism offenders out there, and it seemed that most, if not all, of my Audism related ads were from that group type.

I understand that this will likely be far from a fool-proof plan, and that more Audist ads will leak their way onto the page. I will be regularly checking the site myself for these ads, but more sets of eyes are better than just mine, so I need the help of all of you readers. Anyone who informs me of an Audist ad on my page will be forever memorialized on this blog for all readers to see as an "Audism Fighter". Just imagine, you could kind of be a superhero, with unheard of fame (seriously, there's only 96 followers right now)! Still cool in a nerdy sort of way if you ask me, though, and I'd be proud to put your name up. I should make an Audism Fighter logo to go with it. It could be something like a badge for everyone who makes the page! Cue symmetrical H-As repeating away from my maniacal laughing Joker face! It can be combined with my favorite guilty pleasure, professional wrestling! Instead of TNA or the old WWF, it can be called the AFF - the Audism Fighting Federation! We can all be superstars with great nicknames! Mine can be "R, The Mallet, Fraser", otherwise known as "The Audism Smasher" (kind of like what Gallagher did in his stand up routine). Or how about "The CODA Kidd"? That would be so cool! My finishing move could be boxing someone's ears to make them go Deaf! BWAHAHAHAHA!

I do have one other update. This in regards to Benjamin David Burrell's novel, Red Leaves and the Living Token. After posting my recent review, he contacted me and gave me some new excerpts that is currently being added into the book as a revised newer addition. I had an opportunity to read through them, and they helped to round out the story in certain small areas of the book. I wouldn't consider it enough to change my review of the book, but I am very excited to read book 2 of the series now. previously I had been trying to weigh the book as it was with what I hoped would be a better writing effort shown in the sequel. The fact that Burrell went out of his way to show me these excerpts tells me that he is very serious about his writing, which is all the proof I need to know that he has a good upside in his future writing career. At some point I will be purchasing book 2 of this story, and I have a gut feeling I won't be disappointed.

Please remember to report any Audism related ads that you might come across on my page. The AFF will soon be on the map!

Until next time,

R. M.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Review: Red Leaves and the Living Token - Benjamin David Burrell

Hello Everyone,

I had the opportunity to review the story Red Leaves and the Living Token, by Benjamin David Burrell.  It's a good story with a lot of potential. It is the first in what appears to be a series of three.

The story is a about a man named Raj, and his son, Emret, who is in a hospital for a disease that is threatening his life. It's much like you would see with young cancer patients in our world. In this world, there are three main races of people, the Petra, Zo, and the Botan. It seems to be like our modern world in many ways. Then again it seems old fashioned at times as well. Emret is desperate to find a cure, and will do anything to find it. Raj, on the other hand, is a very protective parent in hopes of a medical breakthrough. When Emret disappears from the hospital with his favorite nurse in search of a legendary cure, Raj is out of his mind in order to get his dying son back safely. In the interest of not spoiling the story, I will stop there.

As I said before, this story has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to it. From a fantasy aspect, it's nothing I would call typical, which is a good thing. The bad thing was how underdeveloped the setting was and the background aspect of things. I'm not sure if that is coming across correctly. What I mean is how the three main races were never really described at all, and I felt as if I was imagining the characters incorrectly. Correction, I was. I found myself picturing them as regular humans. A little more background information and/or description of them would have helped considerably.

Another detriment to the book was the obvious lack of editing. I often found spelling and grammar mistakes. Some were so obvious that I wasn't sure if it was edited at all. I find this to be a common theme among indie authors, and I assume it's mostly caused by financial restraint or just knowing someone who is qualified to lend a hand in proofreading. However, there is no need for it to be as bad as it was in this story. I can understand some things being overlooked, but contend that standards still need to be met by indie authors.

What the author did do very well was getting into the emotions of the main characters, especially Raj, Emret, and Rinacht. There were some points in the story where I expected him to delve a little deeper and he didn't, yet then he would go further in unexpected spots which rounded it out nicely. To me this is one of the author's stronger aspects in his writing, and that kept me going through the book.

Overall, I am giving Red Leaves and the Living Token 3 stars. I found the story to be 'ok', everything considered. I am still undecided on whether or not to continue reading this series. However, if I do, it will be because of my curiosity about the fantasy aspect of the story, and whether or not the author improves on it. 

For those of you who wish to take a look at this book for yourselves, it can be found on several ebook websites, including Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. There is also his website www.benburrell.com if you would like to learn more about the author himself.

Until next time,

R. M.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guest Post: Sadie Forsythe

Hello everyone,

Please welcome guest poster for today, author Sadie Forsythe. Sadie has written The Weeping Empress, which is her only work thus far. I asked her if she would do a post here, and I now know what this post will be about. I'll let her say the rest.

I don't have a lot of time recently. Who does, right? But one of the things I do in my scarce free time is read a ridiculous amount of manga (and the occasional manwha). I'm especially drawn to those dark, twisted tales that make me shutter to think what might actually go bump in the night. While I've never been the type to easily real off titles and mangakas, after a little thought and a quick glance at the electronic shelves to remind myself who drew what, I've come up with a list of my twenty favourite dark mangas.
But before we get on with the morbid goodness, a few caveats. This list is obviously restricted to those mangas that I happen to have come across. There are no doubt tons of good titles out there that belong on this list, but aren't there because I haven't read them yet. Additionally, it is also limited to the ones that I happen to recall at this precise moment in time. It is almost a certainty that tomorrow I'll think of one I loved and wish I had added. Too bad you'll never know, but I will. Lastly there are a few fabulous and unquestionably dark mangas that top every such list--I'm thinking Gantz*, Death Note, maybe even Claymore--I'm excluding them. We all know they're fabulous. Why say it again? This leaves more room for other less know stories.
So, here they are in no particular order. (Honestly, picking out 20 favourites was hard enough. Asking me to rank them among themselves would be beyond hellish.)
1.        Alive by Takahashi Tsutomu
2.                Gunslinger Girl by Aida Yu
3.                Blade of the Immortal by Samura Hiroaki
4.                Berserk by Miura Kentaro
5.       Dokuhime by Mihara Mitukazu
6.                Kurobara Alice by Mizushiro Setona
7.       Hellsing by Hirano Kouta
8.                Dogs: Bullets & Carnage by Miwa Shirow
9.                Vagabond by Inoue Takehiko/Yoshikawa Eiji
10.            Homunculus by Yamamato Hideo
11.              Wolf Guy by Tabata Yoshiaki/Yugo Yuuki
12.            Concrete Garden by Kotobuki Tarako
13.            A Fairytale for the Demon Lord by Kim Yong-Hwan
14.            Lamento - Beyond the Void by Nitro+Chira/Chayamachi Suguro
15.             Cossette no Shozou by Katsura Asuka
16.            Kami no Kodomo by Nishioka Kyodai
17.             Kara no Kyoukai by Nasu Kinoko/Tenkuu Sphere
18.            Dance in the Vampire Bund by Tamaki Nozomu
19.            Kiyomerareta Yoru by Motoni Modoru
20.          Hotel by Boichi

So there they are, my top twenty. The list probably tells you more about me than an afternoon full of conversation. While the stories cross the genres, each is dark in its own way, the art is relatively similar - there are no wide-eyed Shougo heroines here. On that front I suppose I could easily have simply said "anything by Mihara Mitukazu, Ktobuki Tarako, or Mizushiro Setona," and have had just as honest a list. But if, like me, you find the darker side of man appealing check these out first.
What do you think - disagree, something not quite dark enough for you, have something to add? I'd love to hear about it. I'm always on the lookout for the next best read.
*I'm linking to Baka-Updates simply for the ease and convenience of having all of the synopses in one place. If you like what you see there (and are able) you should of course buy the book and support the artist.

Thank you, Sadie for your post! I hope there are other anime lovers out there reading this besides myself. You've expanded my knowledge of this subject a great deal. For those of you who feel the same, please leave comments here for Sadie. If you would like to see more guest posts from other interviewed/reviewed authors on this blog, please let me know in the comment section. I'd be more than happy to accommodate.

Until next time,

R. M.