This was another solid writing week! I got in five book reviews + two other blog posts, work on the revision brainstorm, lessons in Maggie Stiefvater’s writing class, and two fiction-writing sessions of snippets on the new story.
A few were just “meh,” many were solid reads, and a handful were excellent.
Miriam, by Mesu Andrews. I absolutely enjoyed this tale set during the Biblical plagues in Egypt. I never really thought about what it would have been like to witness that, but this brought it to vivid life.
What You Wish For, by Katherine Center. This book accomplished what I thought was impossible: making me (kind of) want to be a teacher. This book was just fun to read. I loved the characters, the setting, the plot…I highly recommend it.
This was another solid writing week: four book reviews, two days’ worth of snippets on the new project, and brainstorming on the story I plan on editing soon. I’m well into writing reviews that will publish in July (I have twelve reviews written and scheduled for July so far), and I’m several books ahead in my reading as well, but my family was in town from out-of-state this week, so I cut some things short to spend time with them.
I’m happy with this week’s writing escapades: eight book reviews, story snippets/character development for the new WIP, and several lessons in Maggie Stiefvater’s class (including a very intriguing revelation on the first thing she decides on for a new novel). And I’m gearing up fora major revision that I’m pretty excited about.
The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey (TBR). I’m mad this has been sitting on myself for over a year…but glad I also had the rest of the trilogy waiting, as I finished this in three days.
Gilt Hollow, by Lorie Langdon (TBR). This felt like a standard YA book to me. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t stand out.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (classic). It’s been a while since I re-read this one, and I loved it all over again. It brought me so much joy! (And the P & P memes on Pinterest are hysterical.)
Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere (spiritual). Loved this! Very empowering and motivating.
Dorothy Must Die, by Danielle Paige (TBR). I enjoyed this, apart from how everything in Oz was flipped. Dorothy is evil? That may have been a bit much for my The Wizard of Oz-loving self.
The Summer House, by Lauren K. Denton (review forthcoming). Okay, I’ll just say it: Lauren K. Denton is an automatic, must-read for me. Seriously. I’ve loved everything I’ve read of hers. If you haven’t read any, you’re missing out. Also: LOVED this cover!
The Jane Austen Society, by Natalie Jenner. I enjoyed this so much! It’s about a diverse group of people from Austen’s home town who fight to save her legacy. This novel actually had the feel of an Austen novel.
Of Literature and Lattes, by Katherine Reay. I’ve read a couple of Reay’s novels and enjoyed them very much. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much, but it was a solid read. There were too many points-of-view I think to make this truly great (to me). I love the feel of this small town, but Alyssa, the MC, was…almost unlikable. Frankly, she was whiny, sat around feeling sorry for herself, and was mean and ugly to everyone around her.
The Girls Weekend, by Jody Gehrman (review forthcoming). This was an interesting closed-door mystery. I really had no idea who did it, but I thought not telling the cops they’d been drugged and cleaning up the house/crime scene was a bad idea.
A Study in Murder, by Callie Hutton (review forthcoming). This was a fun cozy mystery/romance, and I enjoyed this new series a lot.
The Grim Reader, by Kate Carlisle (review forthcoming). I haven’t read any of this series, and I found things a little too good to be true, putting me squarely on the fence with this one.
Red Sky Over Hawaii, by Sarah Ackerman (review forthcoming). I very much enjoyed this tale set in Hawaii around the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Very well done!
The Talking Drum, by Lisa Braxton. This is a vividly multicultural tale set in the 1970s and is a solid historical read.
What Unbreakable Looks Like, by Kate McLaughlin (review forthcoming). I thought this was a fantastic read, about a girl rescued from human trafficking and how she heals and starts living again.
A Royal Kiss and Tell, by Julia London (review forthcoming). I didn’t care for either of the MCs through most of the book, finding them entirely too self-absorbed and superficial, but there was a lot of character growth towards the end.
The Woman in the Green Dress, by Tea Cooper (review forthcoming). I enjoyed this novel set in two time periods in Australia, although it took a bit to get going. A female taxidermist, a hunt for opals, and a mystery all round out the action here.
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen (review forthcoming). A poignant read dealing with racism in the south in the 1950s.
More than Neighbors, by Shannon Stacey (review forthcoming). This was a solid romance featuring next-door neighbors.
That Summer in Maine, by Brianna Wolfson (review forthcoming). I didn’t care for these characters and found the whole set-up a bit unbelievable.
The Mountains Wild, by Sarah Stewart Taylor (review forthcoming). Loved the Irish setting, and I never figured out who the killer was. I ended up enjoying this a lot.
She’s Faking It, by Kristin Rockaway (review forthcoming). This reminded me vaguely of Flirting with 40. I enjoyed it and it made me laugh out loud several times.
The Dilemma, by B.A. Paris (review forthcoming). I found the wife to be absolutely self-centered and selfish, and, while I liked the husband, the whole idea behind this story was a bit hard for me to believe (Okay, a lot hard for me to believe.).
Dark August, by Katie Tallo (review forthcoming). This was an interesting thriller, but unlike anything I’ve read before. I’m still not sure what I think about it.
The Last Curtain Call, by Juliet Blackwell (review forthcoming). I’m new to this series, but that wasn’t really a problem. This was an easy read with some amusing bits, but I probably won’t read more of this series.
Death of a Wandering Wolf, by Julie Buckley (review forthcoming). This is the second in a series, and I can’t wait to read the first one, and whatever’s next. Loved the Hungarian culture in this, and it was just a fun read!
The Finders, by Jeffrey B. Burton (review forthcoming). This is the start of a new series, and one I’m eager to continue reading. Of course the dog, Vira, is the star, but I enjoyed her bumbling yet determined owner as well.
Crushing It, by Lorelei Parker (review forthcoming). This is like all my worse fears come to life…with an audience. A fun read with some excellent character growth. And I want to live in this neighborhood.
Dwarf Story, by W.W. Marplot (review forthcoming). This is a middle-grade fantasy adventure that was a so-so read. And it’s not listed on Goodreads that I can find, so I can’t point you in that direction. I don’t read much middle-grade, so this may just be a case of being the wrong reader for the book.
The Infinite Sea and The Last Star, by Rick Yancey. I ended up binging these two in one day after I enjoyed the first book so much. I didn’t really like how it ended, but the ending made sense with the story.
Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye. This is a re-read for me. Just because.
The End of the Day, by Bill Clegg. Though the writing was excellent, I just could not get into this.
The Second Home, by Christina Clancy. Again, excellent writing, but I couldn’t get into it.
The Joyce Girl, by Annabel Abbs. This just did not capture my interest.
Little Creeping Things, by Chelsea Ichaso. Unreliable narrators are hit or miss for me. This was a miss, as there were off-hand mentions of the fire in the past…but no explanation, so I was clueless as to what was going on.
I’d like to give a bit of explanation for my ratings in the reviews I write. I probably should have done this when I started rating reviews…but it seemed self-explanatory. Except my ratings are more nuanced than five stars=a spectacular book. I read a lot. Like, a lot. But just because I loved a book, doesn’t mean you will. And just because something bothered me in a book, doesn’t mean it will bother a single other person on the planet. A review is an opinion, and we all know what they say about opinions.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see a one- or two-star rating on a review here. Because if I think the writing is that bad, or I dislike the content that much, I won’t finish reading the book. (It took me years—most of my life—to embrace the freedom of not finishing a book that was a bad choice for me.) Writing is hard work, and I refuse to give a bad review to a book just because I don’t like it a bit. That’s disrespectful to the author and the work that went into creating the book. And, just because I don’t care for the book, doesn’t mean you won’t, either.
So, as a general guideline:
-5 stars means I loved the book. It might have a few issues, but I loved it anyway.
-4 stars means I liked the book, possibly loved parts of it. A solid read.
-3 stars means I thought it was good enough to finish—but there was something I
didn’t really care for (could have been a writing issued, could have been a character
I found annoying). The writing might have been superb—which I’ll mention—but if
the MC is whiny and annoying, that detracts enough that it knocked the rating
-anything with a decimal number means it leaned towards the next number up (So,
the character was annoying, but not that annoying.).
Again, my reviews are my opinions. We don’t all have the same tastes or pet peeves or preferences. That’s what makes us individuals. If you think my 3-star rating is wrong on a book, please tell me why. Maybe your insight into the character I disliked will change my mind. Anything is possible.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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, 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, 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, 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.
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, 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.
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, 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!
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.