Day: October 21, 2018

Cozy Mystery Series Readathon (Nov 2018) — Who’s Reading? Let me know…

Quote Posted on

Hi. I’m putting together the list of readers. Can you respond to this post and let me know which books you reading? I’ll update the page with all the blogs to look for in the future. Thanks!

***

The voters have spoken… our winning book series to read in November 2018 is the Renaissance Faire cozy mysteries by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the last month to choose the category for the readathon, the authors and books series to vote on, and the suggestions to make this as fun as it will be. Since there are 8 books in the series, we cannot easily read them all in one month. We probably could, but there are many of us with other ARCs or pre-scheduled reads, so I think we should do 50%… essentially the first 4 books. Below is our schedule and the books:

In order, they are:

  1. Wicked Weaves
  2. Ghastly Glass
  3. Deadly Daggers
  4. Harrowing Hats

Given how busy everyone is, let’s just focus on getting them all read and reviewed in the month of November 2018. Read 1, 2, 3, or 4 books — however much time you have available. Our tentative schedule to post each review is:

  1. Wicked Weaves – Due 11/9
  2. Ghastly Glass – Due 11/16
  3.  Deadly Daggers – Due 11/23
  4. Harrowing Hats – Due 11/30

I’ll create the new pages and links throughout the next couple of weeks. For now, buy them or order them from your local library. If you have them already – awesome. I can’t wait to get started!

***

Based on last month’s poll, you voted to combine two of the options into a single approach for our November 2018 Readathon. The winner is: “Cozy Mystery Series.” Many thanks to all the voters and promoters for the readathon. I’m very excited to choose a series with 4 or 5 books that we can read all throughout November and post our reviews. Some of the suggestions may have more than 5, but we will only read the first 5. A few have less than 5, so we will just read 3 or 4 depending on what wins. I’ve also chosen authors I’ve never read before but have on my TBR.

November 2018 - Choose 4 Books to Read & Review (1)

You can choose your top 3 series to read.  The poll is open today through 10/12 (one full week). On 10/13, I’ll announce the book series with the most votes. We’ll have three weeks to buy or borrow the books and set the reading and review schedule. Links to the Goodreads description of the fist book are below the poll to help you choose.

Descriptions of Books

Cindy Blackburn – Cue Ball

Betty Hechtman – Yarn Retreat

Nancy Atherton – Aunt Dimity

Ellery Adams – Book Retreat

Julia Buckley – A Writer’s Apprentice

Avery Ames – A Cheese Shop

Nancy Martin – Blackbird Sisters

Kate Carlisle – Fixer-Upper

Bailey Cates – Magical Bakery

Alice Kimberly – Haunted Bookshop

Heather Blake – Wishcraft

Jim & Joyce Lavene – Renaissance Faire

Lorna Barrett – Booktown

Jana DeLeon – Miss Fortune

Lea Wait – Mainely Needlepoint

Laura Childs – A Tea Shop

Krista Davis – Domestic Diva

Daryl Wood Gerber – Cookbook Nook

Eva Gates – Lighthouse Library

Betty Webb – Gunn Zoo

Leslie Budewitz – A Spice Shop

Kelly Lane – Olive Grove

Laura Childs – Scrapbooking

Advertisements

Book Review: Sea Cliff by Mary Deal

Posted on

Sea CliffSea Cliff by Mary Deal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sea Cliff is a very appropriate title for this book. Not only is Mary Deal’s story about a beautiful area in San Francisco named Sea Cliff, but it’s also the way to describe the main character’s emotions as she struggled with overcoming a haunting past and accepting love for a promising future. I’ve read many of Deal’s books before, and even though I don’t usually read in the love / romance genre, I read this one because the author is just that good of a writer. It did not disappoint on any level.

Main character, Rachael, is an author who finds inspiration in Matthew, a handsome guy she meets in a park. At first, she’s hesitant because he’s too forward and overly interested. She suspects ulterior motives, but pushes herself to extend her boundaries. She’s been emotionally and physically abused in the past which has left her unable to trust others. She lost both her parents, has a difficult relationship with her brother, and isn’t able to keep friendships all because of this pain. But life’s not all bad… she’s published two books, she’s inherited some money and a house, and she is starting to open up. As the story progresses, she lets Matthew in but not consistently enough resulting in several moments and interactions that leave them both uncertain of their future. After an emotional and turbulent event changes the course of their relationship for a few months, readers are never certain how it all might end up.

I daresay this isn’t a typical romance novel. While there are definitely large chapters and chunks of the book focused on the growing romance and subsequent roadblocks, it’s more a study in the life of a woman over the course of about 18 months as she goes through many changes to accept herself. There are several romantic scenes, but it’s not a huge piece of the action. It’s more of an emotional and psychological tale where we see the ebbs and flows of Rachael’s ability to open up. As she meets new characters and takes on bigger roles in her career, we see confidence and pain emerge. She struggling, and we root for her, which makes the story easy to read.

Deal is a very talented writer who can evoke emotion from her readers. I don’t want to give away too much more, but there’s a climactic event that truly tests Rachael (and Matthew) where as readers, we can’t decide what to feel or think… and we want to grab hold of someone and shake them for what they’ve done… but ultimately, we might be misunderstanding what’s really going on. There’s a little bit of suspense, a hint of ‘coming of age’ although Rachael’s already a fully grown adult, and a gripping saga about how to move on from damages. Deal pushes readers to explore how they’d react in some tough situations, then provides a calm relief where things seem to be okay. Only they’re not… and it takes a lot more to overcome something we didn’t realize was so powerful in the past.

Although I’m still not sure romance books are a go-to genre for me, Deal’s writing and style makes this a much more genre-crossing story for me that I’d be open to sampling a few others who tread the water in this realm. I’m thrilled with this book and the fact that I devoured it on a 3-hour train ride should show how true it is. I never wanted to put it down nor did I get bored of any plot or setting which I’d been worried about purely because of it being a non-norm genre for me. I should’ve known better… the genre might spook me a bit, but the author consistently delivers no matter what she writes. If you’re read her work before, but don’t read in this genre, it’s got props and strength – very worth the read. If you love romance and like a little extra, give this one a shot. It’s full of depth and hope, sorrow and worry… but the ups and downs the characters go thru are worth it. Solid read… definitely recommended.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Posted on Updated on

Watching YouWatching You by Lisa Jewell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read and enjoyed several Lisa Jewell novels in the last two years. When an opportunity to read Watching You surfaced last month, I requested the book via NetGalley and was awarded it overnight. I was super excited and planned it for my October schedule so I could have a little scary / psychological stuff to read as the temperature got chillier and the sun set earlier. Overall, I was pleased with the book and would recommend it, but there were a few things that needed some additional attention before the final version was released to readers.

The story takes place in current times in an English village where several of the neighbors have a penchant for watching one another through binoculars, cameras, or even just between the separation of curtains in a window. There are ~20 important cast members’ lives we read about and try to understand who’s connected to who when they say things using generic names like “she” or “he” to keep us in suspense. There’s a newlywed couple, a couple with a baby on the way, a couple fighting, a mother and daughter who act weird, young teen friends who are hooking up with boys they shouldn’t be, a teen boy who is a bit peculiar at first (then we learn why)… all-in-all, it’s a fine cast with lots of potential but no one was superb or lovable or hate-able (my new word of the day!). As we understand the connections and who’s misbehaving, we begin to see how everything unravels until the big twist at about 90% in the book.

Unfortunately, I thought it was too easy to guess. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, but I believe it could have used some more mystery, red herrings, and darker tones. Additionally, several characters were manipulated to create red herrings (which I’m totally cool with) but the end of their story and the root cause of why it happened wasn’t really sewn back together. I don’t believe it was purposeful either, just not enough focus on total symmetry across the entire novel. Because of this and a few characters who weren’t as fleshed out as I thought they should be (Rebecca, mother of girl who took lots of photos, the group that met at the house), I couldn’t give it 5 stars.

The plot was strong, the characters were passionate. The dialog and descriptions were vivid and consistent. Rarely did I find myself tempted to skim/skip a few paragraphs. It was just missing something to make it really really pop. This is a genre I really love diving into, so it certainly met a lot of my go-to features but fell shy of where Jewell’s books normally take me. It has a few difficult stories to handle (I’m okay with them, but others might be alarmed) such as child abuse, spouse abuse, possible rape, affairs, teacher/student relationships being crossed. It’s almost as if the book wanted to cross a heavy line into being stark and scary, but it stopped too short to be a total dark psychological thriller and went too far to just say it gently handled these situations. We were in the middle and uncertain which way to gravitate on whether a character was black or white… several were muted grey in their tendencies and behaviors.

For me, in a book, it wavered too much. It’s probably very reminiscent of reality, but I wanted a bigger gut punch or a lighter hint at misbehavior. An example is the spouse abuse. One says “nothing is happening” and the other says “yes, we occasionally hurt one another” — I’m paraphrasing. We never get a real answer, so I’m uncertain why it was left that way when it was (1) not critical to the plot and (2) made us waffle on how we were supposed to interpret what was going on. Given the actual people involved were critical to the murder that happened, I felt we needed something more transparent.

That said, it’s still a very strong book. I will keep reading more from Jewell. And if you can accept these things, and still enjoy a great story, you’ll be fine with this one.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.