Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wil Wheaton; "Dancing Barefoot"

Since I have been bereft of queries to draw my interest, I decided to read Dancing Barefoot, a book written by Wil Wheaton; the young man who played Wesley in Star Trek the Next Generation. It was given to me by one of my prior-reviewed authors who’s become a good friend. She follows a lot of the geeky stuff on the web, because that’s what she does, and she brought me this small book when I complained about having nothing good to read.

I was dubious, to say the least. One, because it’s not the first time I’ve picked up a book by a celebrity. Many times I’ve been often disappointed by the product; most of which are usually ghost-written testaments to their amazingness, or a ‘woe-is-me, look what I’ve overcome to become the awesomeness I am today’ sort of diatribe. But what encouraged me to go ahead and read it was how thin the book was; I figured I’d have to suffer only a little.

I was astonished, to be honest. I was surprised by the honesty in the tone and the level to which Mr. Wheaton was willing to open up about his insecurities, his vulnerability and his humanity—all in a very short book. What a great guy. That’s what I came away thinking after devouring the 115 pages of font size 14 text in two hours. I have decided to post a quick review of the book on Odyssey because Wil is an independent author who published his own work, and so a review of his work is not out of place here. FYI: Wil apparently has a few more books on offer, which I now plan to purchase and enjoy.

Dancing Barefoot is a collection of five stories from Wil’s life. The stories include memories of his young life, starting with memories of a beloved aunt; which is an incredibly raw and touching piece, written in such a superb, heartfelt voice; and ending in a lengthy missive about a Star Trek convention, where he makes you laugh and then mists you up in the span of a few paragraphs.

Wil has a natural writing style that is incredibly readable and filled with warmth and vulnerability. There’s no pretence, no airs, it’s him in his most human state, including even his cutting sarcasm and unique perspective growing up on the set of a Sci-Fi show. His descriptions are excellent, and his wit and humour is wonderful. I’m now a fan. I recommend this book to anyone; trekkers or non-trekker alike. It’s a realistic glimpse into how difficult it can be to grow up in the public eye, and how hard the approval and disapproval of the famous and the fan alike can be life-changing.

Read this book. It’s great. Five medallions.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yes, we are still alive. But barely.

This is what I am doing when I am trying to keep sane.

Yes, it’s been forever since we’ve posted a review here on Odyssey. It doesn’t mean the site is inactive, it just means life has gotten rough for both me and the people who were kind enough to supply reviews. Seeing how the economy has been, adding to additional stressors and things you cannot control, it’s not surprising we haven’t had reviews in a while. Personally, I am hoping, after this year’s loss of my father, the subsequent illness of my mother and my assuming guardianship of my developmentally disabled adult brother, that things will settle down for me in this coming year enough so that I can focus on things like reading and recruiting new reviewers. Suffice it to say, I haven’t taken time to read a lot of mainstream books, let alone Indie review books lately. I barely have time to ride my cinnamon tank pictured above.

Please note that I am still receiving queries, many of which do not meet our already fairly strict criteria. A lot of authors are using promotional companies to do all the review requests, and it’s gotten so annoying that I’ve started deleting anything coming from certain promoters, because they blatantly send out blanket emails with our address amid a dozen others without regard to what we requested. So sorry, authors, but if you are relying on a promoter to get reviews for you, and they are contacting Odyssey, it’s likely I won’t even look at the query honestly. Their bulk emails are becoming seriously annoying to someone whose stress levels have been already pushed beyond capacity—I got tired of replying: ‘we are sorry, but this book does not meet our review criteria’ over and over again—so I’ve taken to just dismissing them as they come.

I may sound grumpy, but many reviewers can become so, it’s demanding for a voluntary task, and many times, it’s overwhelming and thankless. Most of the time, authors are never quite ready to hear the truth about their work or they think they’re special and deserve more attention than other authors. I’ve even had authors request that we change a review because it wasn’t what they expected it to be. Reviewing is hard work. We have all striven to provide honest reviews, and have been kind to those whose books were downright terrible and spared posting the harsh opinion.

I am now going to send out a tentative call for books to review. I am alone, and have little time, but I can do some reading each night before bed, and I want to read things that I like, Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and maybe the occasional mystery. I want to read something that is clean and edited… I don’t want to be distracted by hellacious typos and bad formatting. I want something that will make me smile, and make me look forward to more work from that author, like our 5-medallion books.

So if you truly believe your POD, Indie book meets the above criteria, please send a query as outlined on our submissions page, and please be patient with me if I do not review quickly.

If you’ve sent us a book already and it did not get reviewed, I apologize. It was for one or more reasons: 1) the reviewer flaked out on me (many do) and did not return the book to pass onto another reviewer or myself, or 2) the book was awful and we didn’t have the heart to tell you that’s why we didn’t post a review.

I intend to start afresh and start slowly. I am seeking new RELIABLE reviewers to assist me in the task, so if you think you can do this (it’s hard work, I am warning you) then please do feel free to petition me, I would be grateful for the help and infinitely less grumpy about the whole process. I will invite new reviewers to be contributors to this blog page, and they will be able to post their reviews freely, along with other articles and discussions as they please (as long as it’s not awful). :)

Have a lovely thanksgiving. Looking forward to new queries … I will sort through some of my old ones that I haven’t lost or deleted to see if there are any early contenders for review during the holidays; if possible.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Odyssey Reviews was happily chugging along for a while there with two wonderful, reliable reviewers. But we've all run up against life... and lots of problems have cropped up that have taken out our little panel of reviewers, including me... Odyssey's owner.

My papa is dying, my life is crazy, my work is insane, and my other endeavors are not only taking over, but also being neglected. I need help. I need reviewers! Help keep this site up and running for the sake of the long list of queries sitting in my inbox... for the sake of authors who could use exposure. For the sake of books. :)

If you're interested in becoming a reviewer, please contact me via the email herodyssey at msn dot com. You will be much appreciated. :) All you need is a love of books and the ability to write an intelligible, well-rounded review. That's all there is to it.