Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Spin the Plate

My first book review on my blog!  Huzzah!  I hope I don't screw it up too badly. :)

I just finished reading Spin the Plate by Donna Anastasi, published by Black Rose Writing.

First off, I have to say that this book smelled wonderful.  I know that’s an odd thing to come out of the gates with.  However, of the last two books I received, one smelled so strongly of cigarettes that I probably need a lung cancer screening, and the other reeked of cats to the point that I’ve developed an allergy.  I almost threw them both away.  So, to receive a fresh new bookie that didn’t give me a new or exciting disease made my day.
Anyway.  Spin the Plate is the tale of Jo, a talented tattoo artist with a dark and terrible childhood who has given up on men until Francis, a secret billionaire philanthropist, comes along and teaches her how to love & trust again.

This book is a Christian romance—not exactly my genre—so it wasn’t the bestest thing I’ve ever read.  Even so, I found parts of this book, especially near the end, both heartwarming and moving.  In particular, I loved the insight into salvation and forgiveness.  So many people have trouble dealing with their pasts, and this book has some keen insight into how letting go and forgiving those who have wronged us can lead to a freer and more fulfilling life.  There were several portions where I couldn't put it down, because the dialogue drew me in and didn't want to let go.  Bravo for that; it's hard to make me forget what time it is while I'm reading.

That being said, I think the book needed to be longer.  The whole thing felt very...abrupt.  Jo's sexual abuse instilled in her a deep-seated distrust and rage toward men, and she pushes herself to extreme physical exhaustion every night to avoid thinking or dreaming about the memories of her abuse.  Yet she accepts a date from Francis—a total stranger—without any convincing/worry/trepidation that I saw, and almost immediately blurts out every detail of her terrible past.  I just didn’t buy it.  Perhaps if the book had been longer, those details could have been spread out more and developed naturally, like the flavors in a gourmet dish, rather than dumped out all at once.

I think character development suffered in the name of expediency, as well.  I kept thinking, why is this billionaire Francis so fascinated with Jo, who goes to such lengths to appear menacing and violent to keep people at arm's length?  I didn't find out until the end of the book, and I really didn’t learn much about who Francis was until then.  I couldn’t connect with him.  The other characters seemed hurried as well, with their personas described in a quick paragraph with as many details crammed into it as possible, and that was it. 

As for SPaG-related issues…I'm going to wag my finger at the editor for this one.  In addition to the multiple misused commas that made me have to re-read sentences 3 or 4 times to understand what the author meant, my biggest problem with this book was the head-hopping.  Like the Easter bunny on a pogo stick. 

Now, I want to say that I personally enjoy third-person-omniscient.  I really do.  I wish it wasn’t frowned upon so much because I’d love to use it more often myself.  However, in this book the POV frequently changes in mid-paragraph—sometimes 2-3 times per paragraph—and it jolted me right out of the story every time.  At one point, the POV even jumps to a character on a television show in the middle of Jo & Francis’s conversation.  Again, I had to re-read passages multiple times because I couldn’t keep track of who was talking/thinking/walking across the room, etc.  Some judicious editing would have greatly improved the flow of this book.  Like hitting the 'enter' key right before we jump back to Jo's inner monologue.

Overall, on a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this about a 3.  Maybe 2 & 3/4.   Not bad, considering I don’t read this genre and the grammar police in me was loudly demanding I bust out with the highlighters and editing symbols.  But the redemption & salvation stuff truly did move me, and Ms. Anastasi gets points for that.

Spin the Plate by Donna Anastasi
Black Rose Writing
ISBN 978-1-935605-39-3
196 pages
Paperback


Amazon page for Spin the Plate

4 comments:

  1. A very nice review, Beckah :) It's a shame when a good story is marred by mechanics and rushing. At least there are some...well...redeeming qualities. (Lame pun coon strikes again.)

    How's querying going?

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  2. Ah, querying...sigh. I've gotten 4 rejections this week, but I have like 70 outstanding so there's always hope. At least those ones responded to me, lol. I've been trying to hold off on any more querying until I hear back from the Angry Robots, but it's kind of like crack. I just can't seem to help myself, so perhaps I crave the abuse, lol.

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  3. Hahaha I think we have to be a little masochistic to be writers.

    Any idea when you'll hear back from Angry Robots?

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  4. No idea. They said it would take months, but at least that's an improvement over the two-year response time with Tor.

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