The Regulars, by Georgia Clark

 

 

The-Regulars-Georgia-Clark
This image does not belong to me. Image belongs to Atria Books.

Georgia Clark is from Sydney, but now lives in New York City. She has been in a band, worked as a freelance journalist, and as a copywriter. The Regulars is her first adult novel, and she has young adult novels on the shelf as well.

Evie, Krista, and Willow are best friends living in New York City. They are regular twenty-somethings with average looks and typical problems, like making rent, online dating, and making a difference in a job that makes a mockery of what they believe.

Until they come across Pretty, a magical potion that makes them beautiful, giving them a chance to discover what looking like a supermodel can give you in life. Pretty opens unexpected doors for them, but it has a darker side, too. Soon the friends must decide the answer to the question, “What would you sacrifice to be Pretty?”

Evie, Krista, and Willow are regular girls—girls all women can relate to, and they have real problems and real struggles. The Regulars is about these problems, but about larger problems as well, like the objectification of women and lies and manipulation in the dating world. There are some funny moments in this book, but it made me think about life—and about society and its faults. Don’t read this thinking it will be light and fluffy, this books deals with much deeper issues, and the characters are believable, people we would all enjoy being friends with.

(Galley provided by Atria Books via NetGalley.)

Getting it Right, by Elizabeth Jane Howard

getting it right
I do not own this image. Image belongs to Open Road Media.

 

Elizabeth Jane Howard was a model and actress turned novelist. She published Getting it Right in 1982, and it was made into a movie a few years later.

Gavin Lamb is a 31-year-old hair dresser in London. He still lives at home. He’s shy beyond measure. And he has a fear of interacting with people. He likes Mozart and Tolstoy, but women scare him, even his overbearing, neurotic mother, who wants to control every facet of his and his father’s lives.

Then Gavin gets forced to attend a party, and his life changes forever when he meets two women:  the colorful Joan, rich and married; and Minnie Munday, a party-crasher who claims to be royalty. Gavin has never seen so much crazy in one place, but these two women will teach him about finding true love.

Getting it Right is an interesting read about sometimes-colorful characters. I didn’t realize it was published in in 1982 when I was asked to review it, so the setting took me a few minutes to assimilate to. Gavin initially reminded me of Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces, but he grew so much as a character that that comparison faded from my mind.

(Galley provided by Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley.)

The Reason I Run, by Chris Spriggs

the reason I run
I do not own this image. Image belongs to Summersdale.

 

Chris Spriggs had run several big races—marathons, half-marathons—when his uncle was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. His reaction to his uncle’s diagnosis led Chris to places he never imagined. The Reason I Run tells the tale.

Motor neurone disease, a group of diseases the most well-know of which is ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), affects the voluntary muscles of the body and eventually results in death. But before that, MND causes those who suffer from it to lose control of their body. What they could do before the disease is just a memory. So when Andrew Spriggs, runner of 39 marathons, was diagnosed with it, he knew his racing days were over.

But his nephew, Chris, decided to fight that fate. Instead, he started training to run the Brighton Marathon…while pushing Andrew’s wheelchair, giving his uncle one last chance to race. The obstacles were many:  getting permission to push a wheelchair in a race, finding a strategy to keep Andrew secure, training in the rain and the snow, and Chris’ own issues with abandonment and loss. Through it all, the two men persevered, chasing their own personal dreams in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Reason I Run is a first-hand look at one family’s struggle with a horrible disease that transforms their reality. The book is honest, and doesn’t pull any punches with the truth of MND, but will also inspire readers, both the runners and those who do not run.

(Galley provided by Summersdale via NetGalley.)

The Last Road Home, by Danny Johnson

last-road-home-flat-cover
I do not own this image. Image belongs to Kensington Books.

Danny Johnson is a Vietnam veteran, and a writer of Southern fiction. His first published novel is The Last Road Home.

Raeford “Junebug” Hurley has had a hard life. At the age of eight, his parents die, and he goes to live with his grandparents on their tiny farm. There he meets Fancy Stroud and her brother Lightning, children of black sharecroppers, and they become fast friends, almost unheard of in 1950’s North Carolina. Tobacco farming is hard, desperate work, and Junebug is grateful for Fancy’s support when things grow even harder, and soon they are more than friends.

A moneymaking scheme gone bad and a visit from the KKK have Junebug and Fancy setting out in search of different dreams. She, a place free from the casual bigotry and hatred that infuse every day in the rural South. He, looking for a place he feels at home, a place where his darkest secrets will be safe. The connection between Junebug and Fancy is strong, but will it be strong enough to withstand war and thousands of miles of distance?

The Last Road Home is a deep, emotional book about friendship and love in the midst of hardship and hatred. This is not an uplifting, breezy novel, but one with unexpected depths that delves into the darkness inside us all. The ending was not what I had hoped for, but it was true to the story. This is well-worth reading.

(Galley provided by Kensington Books via NetGalley.)

The Summer that Melted Everything, by Tiffany McDaniel

 

the summer that melted everything
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.)

 

Tiffany McDaniel is a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist, as well as an author. Her first published novel is The Summer that Melted Everything.

In 1984, a summer heat wave swept over Breathed, Ohio and changed everything. Or was it the devil that did the changing? Fielding Bliss is just a kid, a kid whose dad issued the devil’s invitation. No one thought he’d actually show up…

Sal is bruised and battered, but he looks like a normal 13-year-old kid. Except for his claim to be the devil. But Fielding takes him home, where he’s accepted into the family. The rest of Breathed isn’t quite so accepting. As the heat wave continues, strange things start happening, and soon everyone starts believing the fanatic who urges the devil’s destruction. The Bliss family is dealing with their own personal demons, but soon their crisis and the town’s become one, as the fate of Sal hangs in the balance.

The Summer that Melted Everything is an evocative, descriptive novel that will have the reader sweltering along with the characters—and wondering, too. Is Sal really the devil? What’s causing the unfortunate accidents sweeping through Breathed? And when will the madness—and the heat—end? This is a gripping novel that floats along like a lazy summer’s day, then explodes into action like fireworks across a night sky.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.)

Mid-Year Goal Update

At the beginning of the year, I set quite a few goals for myself (not resolutions). Eight goals in each of three separate categories, one being reading and one being writing. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how I’m doing on those goals, since we’re halfway through the year.

Reading goals:

1) Read GWTW.
2) Read 1 book per month from TBR.
3) Read all books on AWR list.
4) Read one classic per month.
5) Read one book of poetry.
6) Read 2 books per month to review.
7) Read one inspirational book per month.
8) Read 75 books.

I haven’t read any of Gone with the Wind since January, so I better get on that. I have read one book each month from my TBR pile.  I successfully read all of the books on the reading list for my American Women Writers class. I have read a classic per month. I have not read any poetry. (Oops.) I’ve read and reviewed at least two books each month. I’ve read at least one inspirational book each month. And I’ve currently read 69 out of my goal of 75 books.

Writing goals:

Writing goals:

1) Finish Witches HTRYN.
2) Finish 1st draft of Siren Song.
3) Finish 1st draft of The Fall.
4) Start Camelot.
5) Revise Casting Shadows.
6) Finish copyediting classes and start making money at it.
7)  Have 500 followers on this blog.
8) Have 200 followers on my personal blog.

 

I’m still working on the revision of Witches. Siren Song is outlined, but I stopped working on it, and started writing on The Fall again. No progress on Camelot. No progress on Casting Shadows. I’m still working on the copyediting classes. I’m still chipping away at the blog goals.

Verdict:  I’m doing okay on my goals, but I need to get it together and get on all of them!

What I Read in July

Seems like I didn’t do a whole lot of reading in July.

Lady Midnight, by Cassandra Clare. (Loved it!)

chronicles

Chronicles of a Last Summer, by Yasmine El Rashidi. (Read to review.)

and I darken

And I Darken, by Kiersten White. (Read to review.)

The Dragon Round

The Dragon Round, by Stephen S. Power. (Read to review.)

an elegant facace

An Elegant Facade, by Kristi Ann Hunter. (Read to review.)

Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy. (My classic for the month. This one was so-so to me.)

Daring Greatly, by Brune Brown. (My spiritual book for the month.)

Trixie Belden and the Mystery Off Old Telegraph Road, by Kathryn Kenny. (This one was from my TBR pile. I loved this series when I was younger, and it’s interesting to re-read them now. So…innocent.)

 

An Elegant Facade, by Kristi Ann Hunter

an elegant facace
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Bethany House.)

Kristi Ann Hunter is a multiple-award-winning author who lives in Georgia and loves games and music. She also loves “teeny bopper movies and cheesy RomComs.” Her newest novel is An Elegant Façade.

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has done everything in her power to ensure her debut Season goes off without a hitch, including spending three long years cultivating both her image and her knowledge of society’s intricacies. Her careful reputation, from always wearing white to being the Incomparable of her Season, are all aimed at one thing:  catching a husband with enough money and power to protect her should her secret be found out.

Colin McCrae has money and connections, but he’s missing a pedigree. Smart and observant, he is invited into the world of the upper class, but he isn’t accepted there. As Colin begins to wonder about his place in the world, he meets Lady Georgina, and finds himself irritated by a woman consumed only with her appearance and others’ opinion of her. But Georgina is desperate to protect herself and her shameful secret, a secret that not even her family knows. As cracks begin to form in her charade, Colin gets a glimpse of her true self, and wonders about the hidden depths of Lady Georgina Hawthorn.

An Elegant Façade seems, on the surface, to be just another fluffy Regency romance, but that is not the case. Georgina is a strong, brilliant character, but she hides her flaws, as most of us do, terrified someone will find out her secret. Colin is a down-to-earth character, but a true here:  clever, observant, discerning, and of course, handsome. The interactions between these two feel like watching a movie, being both vivid and realistic. This novel is well-worth reading

(Galley provided by Bethany House via NetGalley.)

When?

When does not-writing become a thing of “because I don’t feel like it” instead of “because I have a thousand other things that have to be done”?

When does my brain stop making excuses and get itself together and get my body in front of the keyboard?

When is “tired” no longer a valid excuse for not getting things done (things besides writing)?

When will I learn that I can’t do everything I’d like to, not and give each thing the attention and focus it deserves?

When will real-life have-to’s stop interfering with my writing time? (Looking at you, last-minute work meeting on my day off.)

When will I finally beat my tendency for procrastination? (Which eventually becomes active self-sabotage.)

When will people finally understand that “I can’t, I have writing to do” does not mean “Sure, I’m not doing anything anyway”?

When will my brain finally give me an outline for The Fall, so the actual writing part feels less like wandering around with a blindfold on?

When will I finally overcome this stupid mental block/laziness and sit in my chair and actually WRITE?

When?

The Dragon Round, by Stephen S. Powers

The Dragon Round
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Simon and Schuster.)

Stephen S. Powers lives in New Jersey and writes poetry and short fiction, in between playing video games and chess. The Dragon Round is his first novel.

Jeryon has been a sea captain for years. He counts on the rules to keep him—and his crew—safe and successful. But not all of his crew agrees. After a dragon attack, the crew takes matters into their own hands, and offer Jeryon and the apothecary who supports him the “captain’s chance”:  a small boat with no sails, no food or water, and only the clothes on their backs.

The island Jeryon and the apothecary land on isn’t as deserted as they thought, between the killer crabs and the dragon egg they find. Jeryon decides to raise the dragon in his quest for justice, but as he grows closer to the dragon, he realizes that the outside world has changed, and if he wants revenge, he’ll have to take it for himself.

The Dragon Round is set in a world far different from our own; a world of violence and mayhem (Okay, so maybe not that different from ours.). Revenge is the driving force of the novel, although Jeryon prefers to think of it as “justice.” But “justice” is rarely as bloody and cruel as seen in this novel. The world is very vivid, and the characters are well-realized, even if I found them mostly unlikeable. (Not going to lie, the dragon was the most likeable character for me.) I’ve seen this novel compared to the Temeraire books, which are currently sitting on my To-Be-Read pile. If so, I may have to give them a miss. Not because this was a bad book, but because I prefer my books with a bit less gratuitous violence and bloodthirsty revenge.

(Galley provided by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.)