No fiction-writing for me this week. I just enjoyed my vacation…and wrote a few book reviews. Because a lot of reading happened on vacation, too.
Category: reasons I’m not writing
When they turn sixteen, girls in Garner County are told they come into their magic. They have power over men and power to drive other women mad with jealousy. Which is why they are banished to the wilderness for a year: to get rid of their magic and return ready to be wives. No one speaks of the Grace Year. It is forbidden. No one knows what happens there.
Tierney James hates how things are. She hates how women turn on each other and how men have all the power. She just wants to survive her Grace Year and get on with her life. She knows she’ll never be a wife, so survival is her goal. But soon she realizes there is more to fear than the wilderness, or even the poachers who fight to steal any of the girls and sell their parts on the black market.
The real danger may lie in each other.
This book. This book. I’ve seen comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale, and it does have that sort of feel. But I didn’t care for that novel, and I loved this one. This society was horrifying to me. Women are worse than second-class citizens, but even worse than that was the way they treated each other. They are truly horrible to each other—and it made me almost nauseous to read.
This is a tale full of darkness and danger, mistakes and madness, but it’s a tale of hope nonetheless, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Kim Liggett left the rural Midwest for New York City when she was sixteen. The Grace Year is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
In 1875, Alva Webster has spent three years developing a tough hide and learning how to ignore the whispers and gossip going around about her. When she left her abusive husband, he crucified her in the press, and the sordid tales followed her from London back home to New York, where she longs for a fresh start. She bought Liefdehuis, an abandoned mansion, in the hopes of repairing it and her hopes for the future.
But rumors of ghosts haunting the mansion make her task impossible, until eccentric professor Samuel Moore turns up, eager to study the phenomena. Sam’s family is famous for its love of science, and Sam himself is beloved by the press—and women—all over, so Alva wants no part of him, no matter how charming and caring he is. But Sam is her only hope of solving the mystery of the ghost in Liefdehuis—and unlocking the secrets in Alva’s heart.
I feel like Sam—and his family—are the stars of this book, although Alva is pretty incredible herself. But Sam…he’s like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, except caring, considerate, and funny. I loved him from his first introduction and am quite impressed that Alva resisted for as long as she did. There’s a lot of humor in this novel, a little bit of fright, and it all adds up to an entrancing read.
Diana Biller loves ballet and hiking. The Widow of Rose House is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Darcy Wells is a literary genius. Her name is Darcy, after all. As long as she can remember, she’s found comfort and solace between the covers of her beloved books—and escape from her mom’s hoarding. But when a new property manager starts making changes at their apartment complex, Darcy is afraid the complex balancing act of her life will topple.
Darcy’s vibrant best friend is the only one she lets in—to her secrets, her life, and her apartment. But when Archer Fleet walks into the bookstore where Darcy works, she finds herself drawn to the wounded guy. He’s experienced a life-altering accident, and he’s struggling to make sense of his new reality, but he truly sees Darcy—who is, for once in her life, at a loss for words.
Darcy wants to let him in—but can she overcome her fears to take a chance on life and love?
I loved this book from the first page! Darcy is a wonderful character: flawed, struggling, and so strong it breaks my heart. Marisol’s and Darcy’s friendship made this book, but the rest of the characters were fantastic, too. From Mr. Winston (the bookstore owner) to Tess, Darcy’s mom, Archer’s best friend…I loved all these characters, and though the book’s portrayal of mental illness was spot-on. I could not put this book down!
Laura Taylor Ramey is a former teacher who writes young adult novels. The Library of Lost Things is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Love’s Curiosities Inc. is a small shop full of odds and ends and curiosities that most people overlook. Temerity Love and her sister Tilda grew up there and now own it. Things have changed a bit since their parents owned the shop but magic still happens there. Tilda is a witch and Temerity is renowned for her ability to touch objects and see where they came from.
When a local schoolteacher is murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, an antique hand mirror is found nearby, and the local investigator asks for Temerity’s help finding the murder. Too bad his new protegee, grumpy out-of-towner Angus isn’t so open-minded. As Temerity starts asking questions, she’s determined to find out who killed the schoolteacher—with or without the help of the townspeople.
I really enjoyed this cozy mystery mixed with magic! The characters are unique and quirky, and the town was vibrantly alive, filled with a sense of history and stories lurking around every corner. The writing is solid, and I just sort of settled into this novel and enjoyed it.
Kennedy Kerr is an author with a love of all things Scottish. A Spell of Murder, the first book in the Lost Maidens Loch Mysteries, is her new novel.
(Galley courtesy of Bookouture via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
This week, I’ve done no writing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. And I’m actually okay with that. With everything going on this week, I would have just been forcing words, and that wouldn’t have been a good thing.
So, here’s hoping this next week will be a better writing week. And…I’m planning to write and schedule five book reviews today, so there’s that…
Not much writing this week: only one day of fiction and three book reviews, but…I passed my Directed Project! This means I got my Master’s in Journalism!
Due to other things going on this week, I didn’t have the mental energy for writing. Unless you count re-doing my resume…
This was the last week of my internship. If all goes well and I pass, I’ll be done with school! Earning an M.A. in Journalism is no joke. I just have to finish up my final paper today.
I wrote several book reviews and posts this week and two final blog posts for the internship. Only got in one short fiction-writing session, but I’m still calling it a win.
Books Read in July: 20
Books Read for the Year: 120/175
Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:
Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie (classic). Okay, it may not actually be a classic, but it’s Agatha Christie.
Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown (nonfiction). Brown always has deep, meaningful things to say.
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, by Bethany Turner (from the TBR pile). I LOVED this read! I could relate to it so much—and it really made me laugh.
Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin (cultural). Wow. This was really a fantastic read!
Get Out of that Pit, by Beth Moore (spiritual). Pulling no punches here.
Bethlehem, by Karen Kelly. I enjoyed this tale set in two different times, about women living in a steel industry town. And love. And complicated family relationships. And secrets…
Crashing the A-List, by Summer Heacock. This made me laugh so much! An out-of-work editor discovers a career-ending secret about a famous actor…who thinks she’s trying to blackmail him. He forces her to pose as his girlfriend, and misunderstandings ensue. Such a fun read!
Justice Makes a Killing, by Ed Rucker. This tale of a criminal defense lawyer out to prove his client is innocent—vs the private prison industry—was a solid read.
Ten Years a Nomad, by Matthew Kepnes. Matt Kepnes is known for his travel-writing, but this is more of an autobiography and exploration of why he traveled for ten years.
If You Want to Make God Laugh, by Bianca Marais. This story is filled with heavy subjects, and strong, strong female characters.
The Gamers Guide to Getting the Girl, by Kristine Scarrow. I enjoyed this light tale of a nerdy gamer guy trapped in a mall during a terrifying storm who ends up surprising himself, his dream girl, and the people he helps save during the danger.
Three Ways to Disappear, by Katy Yocom. This was a pretty good read. Two sisters. Tigers. India. I loved being immersed in the Indian culture.
Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore, by Birgitte Märgen. This felt almost like middle-grade to me. I loved the different regions Evie traveled to, but her “backwoods” dialect (when it appeared) felt contrived, not natural, since her internal voice didn’t usually include the dialect.
Specter, by Katie Janie Gallagher. Being a teenage is hard enough without seeing ghosts on top of it. Love this cover!
The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets, by Molly Fader. I loved this book! The sisters’ relationship—and their mom—is complex and full of secrets, but this book was so compelling!
The Seekers, by Heather Graham. I don’t do creepy/scary very well, so the beginning of this was almost too much for me, but I enjoyed the way the crimes of the past were connected to the present. I can’t believe there are so many books in this series!
A Highlander Walks Into a Bar, by Laura Trentham. I thoroughly enjoyed this romance—and the men in kilts! Isabel’s talk-first-think-later statements made me laugh, and I was completely intrigued by the idea of Highland, Georgia. A good, solid read.
Book Review: The Book Charmer, by Karen Hawkins. I loved loved loved this book! Sarah Dove can hear books, and when one cranky old tome tells her Grace is the only one who can save Dove Pond, Sarah knows she has to convince her to stay. This book—its small-town setting, the characters—is so realistic and charming that I loved every page.
The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen (review forthcoming). This was another book I LOVED! I don’t even have the words to tell you how good this was. Just go read it!
BioDiet, by David Harper.
Stars of Alabama, by Sean Dietrich. I just couldn’t get into this. It has great reviews, so it’s clearly just me.
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, by Andrea Bobotis. I wanted to like this. The writing was great. But…the main character was very unlikable, and I just couldn’t keep going.
David Mogo, God Hunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa. I wanted to read this so much. Nigerian fantasy? Yes, please. I loved the setting and the concept, but after about 50% of it, I realized that I was having so much trouble with the pidgin English dialogue that I was missing a good chunk of what was going on—because I couldn’t understand what was being said and there weren’t any context clues.
Please Send Help, by Gaby Dunn. I think I read about 30% of this before losing all faith in humanity…the absolute selfishness and carelessness of the two main characters almost did me in.
I read 20 books in June, bringing my total to the year for 102 books read.
I have to say, this was a case of quantity, not necessarily quality, as there were a few books that I really enjoyed, but most were just solid to mediocre reads.
That being said, two of my monthly goal books and one of the last books I read for review for the month were outstanding.
At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen. This was my cultural pick of the month. Which, admittedly, was fudging it a bit, since the heroine is American and the books starts in New York in 1942. But…socialite Maddie and her horrid husband, Ellis, and his best friend, Hank, end up in Scotland in search of the Loch Ness monster, so I rationalized it. Fantastic, engrossing book! I would love to go to Loch Ness, and Gruen’s prose is top-notch. Highly recommend this!
Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson. This was from my TBR pile. I discovered Joshilyn Jackson when I read gods in Alabama for the first time several years ago (and re-read it last year and was just as entranced). This was when I discovered Southern fiction was a thing. I’ve read several of her books now–and cannot wait to review her upcoming novel, Never Have I Ever, at the end of the month. Backseat Saints takes a minor character from gods in Alabama and explores her very challenging life. Joshilyn Jackson is an auto buy for me, and that’s a really short list, so…
The Stationary Shop, by Marjan Kamali. I’m still emotionally reeling from reading this, so I’m not sure I can talk coherently about it. Most of this takes place in 1953 Tehran, when Roya and Bahman fall in love on the edge of a revolution. it’s…not a happy book, which I realzied immediately. Usually, I would have chosen not to finish what I knew would be a sad read, but this was so good that I continued reading.