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Sundays are for Writing #70

I had four fiction-writing sessions planned this week, but I only did three.

However…I wrote eleven book reviews this week, too. I finished reading all the books I’m reviewing in May during April…and all the reviews are written, too. And my sister-in-law went into labor and I have a new nephew, so I’m fine with that level of productivity!

Sundays are for Writing #69

I hope everyone had a good week! I had four fiction-writing sessions planned this week, but I only did three. Trying to give myself a break this week and not feel guilty over things like this…and not working out at all this week.

I did write seven book reviews this week, though!

Sundays are for Writing #63

This was a decent writing week. Only three fiction-writing sessions, but that’s all I had planned, so it’s a win. My family flew in (secretly) for my brother’s wedding, so there was a lot going on. (Brother thought they were going to the JP, but my dad is a chaplain, so he performed the ceremony. Brother didn’t think they’d be able to come, as it was a last-minute thing.)

What I Read in February (2020)

Books Read in February:  22

Books Read for the Year: 42/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (classic). I read this years ago, in high school. I remember it being much better that first time. This time…not so much.

The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas(TBR). Also a re-read, and wow! I loved this!

Love Without Limits, by Nick Vujicic (spiritual). This is an inspiring read.

In 27 Days, by Alison Gervais (TBR). I ended up loving this! I see there’s a sequel out there somewhere, too.

Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June (TBR). Simple and sweet, and fun to follow these characters farther.

For Review:

Whiteout

Whiteout, by Adriana Anders. This was an enjoyable romantic suspense. The setting was just unbelievable to me—I’m not a fan of cold/snow/ice—and the author definitely brought that to life. This is the first book in a new series.

light changes everything

Light Changes Everything, by Nancy E. Turner. I enjoyed this historical fiction read, set in 1907 in the Arizona Territory. Mary Pearl could stay home and marry her wealthy suitor, but she chases her dreams and goes to art school instead. But trauma plagues Mary Pearl and changes her life and her family forever.

the janes

The Janes, by Louisa Luna. I hadn’t read the first book in the Alice Vega series, but had no problems jumping in with this one. Vega is an interesting character, and seeing how her mind works as she investigates the murders of two unidentified girls was intriguing.

what kind of girl

What Kind of Girl, by Alyssa Heinmel. There was a lot going on in this book about teen dating violence, eating disorders, anxiety…a lot going on. But, it was woven together well and managed to tell all the stories with aplomb and sympathy.

foul is fair

Fair is Foul, by Hannah Capin. I finished this, but I didn’t like the characters. Lots of violence, blood, revenge, and, frankly, straight up evil.

a good neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood, by Therese Anne Fowler. This was a challenging read. Racism in the South is a real thing, and this book captured it realistically enough to make me angry on the characters’ behalves. I did find the portrayal of churches and church-going people to be completely one-sided, judgmental, and unrealistic, however.

the borgia confessions

The Borgia Confessions, by Alyssa Palombo. Another book with zero likable characters, but the writing and setting were superbly done.

southern double cross

Southern Double Cross, by Caroline Fardig. This appears to be the third and final installment in the Southern B & B Mystery series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first two (and the Java Jive Mystery series, also by this author).

isaiah's legacy

Isaiah’s Legacy, by Mesu Andrews. This is a continuation of the Prophets and Kings series. It’s the story of King Manasseh and how his childhood friend–and eventual wife–turns him away from Yahweh and to evil. It’s also the story of how he and his wife, Shulle, realize the truth and turn Israel back to God. Mesu Andrews’ books were my introduction to biblical fiction, and I love how she brings biblical characters and events to Technicolor life! This was another wonderful read!

ten days gone

Ten Days Gone, by Beverly Long. I enjoyed this suspense/ thriller.

master of sorrows

Master of Sorrows, by Justin Call. I enjoyed this fantasy read, and look forward to reading more in this series (I do assume there will be more.)

a highlander in a pickup

A Highlander in a Pickup, by Laura Trentham. An enjoyable entry into the Highland, Georgia series. Gotta love those men in kilts!

tucker

Tucker (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas #2), by Emily March. From men in kilts to Texas men. Neither is a bad thing…another solid romance read.

children of the stars

Children of the Stars, by Mario Escobar. I feel like this one lost something in translation. Set amidst the persecution of the Jews, it skirts the atrocities ever-present then, but the two brothers that are the main characters never felt like they were truly in danger, so it didn’t seem realistic to me.

the girl with the louding voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré. A 14-year-old Nigerian girl who has spent her entire life in servitude must fight to make herself heard as she chases her dream. This is a powerful, powerful book.

the grace kelly dress

The Grace Kelly Dress, by Brenda Janowitz (forthcoming). I enjoyed every page of the three different timelines!

lost at sea

Lost at Sea, by Erica Boyce (forthcoming). This was an interesting read. I do recommend it.

Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré

the girl with the louding voice
Image belongs to Penguin/Dutton.

Title:  The Girl with the Louding Voice
Author:  Abi Daré
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who dreams of finishing her education and becoming a teacher. Before her mother died, she made her father promise Adunni wouldn’t be forced to marry, but her father now disregards that promise and gives her to be the third wife to a local man who demands that she gives him sons—and his first wife terrorizes her.

So Adunni runs away—and finds herself as the house slave to a wealthy couple in the city. The wife forces Adunni to scrub the house with a toothbrush and beats her whenever the whim strikes. The husband is a threat of a different kind, and Adunni realizes if she is ever to have “a louding voice”—the ability to speak and stand up for herself—she will have to act despite her fear. For herself. For the ones who came before her. And for those who will come after.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how blessed I am, but this book paints it in stark relief in comparison to Adunni’s life. The strength and determination it would take to stand up to centuries of tradition and cultural habits is amazing. Adunni has suffered unspeakable things at the hands of those around her—yet she’s still upbeat and determined to seize her dreams in both hands. An excellent read—but not light and fluffy.

Abi Daré grew up in Nigeria and now lives in the UK. The Girl with the Louding Voice is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Penguin Group/Dutton in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain

big lies in a small town
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Big Lies in a Small Town
AuthorDiane Chamberlain
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

In 2018, Morgan Christopher’s life has been put on hold. Serving three years for a crime she didn’t commit, she’s given up all hope of a career in art and just wants her prison stay to be over—until a stranger offers her a deal that will mean her immediate release:  restore an old mural in a small southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, and the deadline is something not even an experienced restoration artist could meet, but as Morgan starts work on the painting, she realizes it hides evidence of madness, murder, and lies in a small town.

In 1940, Anna Dale wins a contest to paint a post office mural in North Carolina. She’s thrilled for the opportunity—but Edenton isn’t what she expected at all. Her life in New York gives her no frame of reference for understanding this small southern town—full of prejudice, secrets, and expectations she refuses to meet—which just might end in murder.

I didn’t immediately connect with the characters, but I ended up loving this book! I connected with both Morgan and Anna, and I admired them both. They are such strong women. They don’t always make the best choices, but they do stay true to themselves and grow from their experiences.

Diane Chamberlain is a bestselling author. Big Lies in a Small Town is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Shamus Dust, by Janet Roger

 

shamus dust
Image belongs to author and publisher.

Title:  Shamus Dust
AuthorJanet Roger
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Newman is an American PI living in London just after World War II. The city is still a bombed-out wreck—and the people are worse. Early on Christmas morning, Newman receives a call from City Councilor Drake, who tells him to meet an investigator at the murder scene of Raymond Jarrett. The investigator isn’t there, so Newman stars asking questions. Jarrett was a blackmailer and a pimp, so there are a lot of people who might have wanted him dead—but who went through with it?

With the bodies piling up and his own life in danger, Newman is determined to find the killer. But as the suspects keep turning up dead and more questions keep stacking up, Newman realizes the truth has links all over the financial district—and the wealthy have more money and less scruples than he thought.

I’ll say straight away that detective noir stories are not my usual fair. They don’t normally hold my interest. This one did. The setting is incredibly well-realized and realistic—not to mention depressing—and the characters are…quite the character(s). I prefer more connection with the main characters I read, so the distance from Newman was a problem for me, but I realize that’s personal preference. This was well-written and very gritty, and I didn’t figure out who the killer was.

Janet Roger is an award-winning author. Shamus Dust is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays are for Writing #51

Well…writing didn’t go quite so well this week. I only got in two writing sessions. No book reviews written (because I haven’t finished reading anything this week.). But…I DID finish one of the timelines in my King Arthur story, so there’s that.

To be fair…writing got pushed to the side in order to facilitate me finishing up a big personal goal that I’ve put off for basically eight or nine months. But the really time-consuming part is behind me, and I should finish it this week, so yay!