Posted in Book Review

Book Review: News Of The World by Paulette Jiles

“This is writing.  This is printing.  This tells us of all the things we ought to know in the world.  And also that we ought to want to know.” ~Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (in Paulette Jiles’ novel News of the World)

Hi Ho, Dear Bloggites.  This book review is on January’s Books & Broads Book Club choice.  In January, the book club read News of the World by Paulette Jiles.  The setting and premise of the book was interesting.  The book was set in 1870 North Texas.  Of course, I was immediately intrigued because that is the part of Texas where I live.

News of the World by Paulette JilesThe book was about Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly man who travels through Northern Texas and stops in towns reading the latest news from papers he picks up along the way.  In Wichita Falls, Captain Kidd is approached to take a young orphan, Johanna, who had been kidnapped four years earlier by Kiowa raiders after killing her parents, back to her relatives in San Antonio.  The journey was a 400-mile trek through rough terrain, but Captain Kidd agreed to return Johanna to her family.

Pretty good premise, yes?  Sadly, I did not like this book.  Many, many times I found myself wondering what the purpose was of the author, Paulette Jiles, when she decided to write this story.  Not only was it boring, but there seemed to be no core purpose in the storyline aside from traveling 400-miles.  I know fiction does not have to have a purpose, but it does have to make sense and this book did not make sense to me with how it was formatted.

When it seemed like some action was going to happen, I was disappointed to see nothing happen, and the minimal moments when there was action it was underwhelming.  The characters were not as developed as I like and there were moments of humor and moments of emotion, but not enough to keep me engaged as much as I could have been.

There was great imagery and some clever sentences in the book, but it did not help this book capture my attention like so many other books have.  Throughout the book you followed Captain Kidd and Johanna as they travel on the road and he tries to reteach her the English language while learning what certain Kiowa words meant.  I know the author really tried to engage the audience, it was almost palpable during many scenes, but she just could not take it the rest of the way through.  Kudos to the author for writing a passion project, because that is the only thing that makes sense to me after reading this book.

I give News Of The World by Paulette Jiles 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Writer Musings

Self-Help Books For Writers

Hello, Dear Bloggites!  I am pleased to say the Women in Publishing Summit ended with a bang! 🙂  I have many new things and thoughts to take in and formulate understanding in my brain from what I thought I knew and what is the reality when it comes to writing books.

I was taught the different lengths of written work determines the “name” assigned to them: i.e. short story, poem, novella, novel, epic novel, chap books, etc.  However, during this Summit, I have learned that there are such a wide variety of book types between the genres and sub-genres.  Did you know that there is a sub-genre for “Books you can read in 45-minutes or less”?  BLEW MY MIND!!!!

While I continue to take in this new information I learned, there were several books the guest authors shared or wrote for writers and entrepreneurs alike.  Really, any person who owns their own business, no matter what it is, can dub themselves entrepreneurs.  So many people stick with “Small Business Owner” but really, you have an entrepreneur’s heart for business.  No matter what you call yourself, as long as you stay true to yourself and your beliefs, you are golden. 🙂

Okay, back to the authors and their books.  While, I want to purchase many more, there were three that I immediately had to have.  Below are the three books and what they are about, as well as, a brief reason why I wanted that specific book:

  1. The Four Types of Dogs Every Business Needs by Bella Vasta

The Four Types of Dogs Every Business Needs by Bella VastaDescription: Building a business was never meant to be done alone.  There are certain key players that every business needs in order to grow their business and have a balanced life.  Without the right team, business owners risk suffocating in their own efforts and ultimately throwing their entire life out of balance.  While using the metaphor of some of the most popular breeds, learn what dogs every business must have on their team so they can all play together having an enjoyable time in the dog eat dog world of business.

The reason I bought this book is two-fold: I love dogs (especially terriers, as you know, because I own one) and being a small business owner, I am constantly burning the candle at both ends and always wonder how these other business owners find the people to allow them the freedom of enjoying their hard work.  I have read this book, but for continuity, I will wait to give any reviews until I have read all three. 🙂

2.  The Artful Edit by Susan Bell

The Artful Edit by Susan BellDescription: The Artful Edit explores the many-faceted and often misunderstood-or simply overlooked-art of editing.  Brimming with examples, strategic tips, exercises, and a series of remarkable interviews with such writers as Michael Ondaatje and Ann Patchett, Susan Bell’s vigorous investigation into the history and meaning of the edit reminds us that editing is much more than a computer spell-check-it is an art.  Like The Elements of Style, The Artful Edit is a must-have companion for every writer.

The reason I bought this book is obvious: I need to learn to edit my written works smartly so that when it is sent to an editor or published, it will not have any errors (hopefully).  I own The Elements of Style and am very excited to read what this book has to say.

3. Mindset Switch! by Tonya Rineer

Mindset Switch of Tonya RineerDescription: Mindset Switch is the solution for anyone who wants more than average success, yet finds themselves stuck in a loop of negative self-talk, limiting beliefs, and self-doubt.  This book does what no other book on mindset does.  It highlights the holistic interplay between how thoughts and feelings become ingrained in us as disempowering beliefs, and how that cycle repeats itself, sabotaging us over and over again.  Citing existing mindset research, along with the Laws of Attraction and Vibration and introducing her own tried and true system for identifying triggers, Tonya’s book is for those who are new to mindset and personal development work as well as those who are already familiar with the basic concepts and are looking to advance their practice.

This book will help you ditch your limiting beliefs so you can, take control of what you want and create a life that, before now, you could barely imagine was possible.

The reason I bought this book is because, like most people, I live with constant self-doubt when it comes to things I am passionate about, such as writing.  We all live with that negative voice in our heads that sub-consciously set us up for failure before we even begin.  This book covers the triggers and gives advice on how to beat them before they do any damage plus change your negative mindset into a positive one.

Well, that is it for now.  I will be back with a review on all three books once I have read them all.  Also, look for first book review of the year in a little bit.  It is still a passion of mine to help all writers by providing reviews, so that is something I will always do on this blog.  Smooches!!!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Writer Musings

The Struggle Is Real, People!

Hey, All!  It’s me again.  I know, SHOCKING, two blogs back-to-back, and even more shocking, they are not on book reviews!  I am still doing my reviews as I read, but as you can see, with the lack of review posts, that I have not been reading (Bad, P, Goofy JugglingBad!!!).

We all start the new year with grand goals and plans for our life and most of us see those grand goals and plans fizzle as the months go on, well guess what, mine fizzled as soon as it was out of the proverbial gate at the beginning of the year.  I love to write, I love to read, I love books, as you know, Dear Bloggites, and I make plans to do this, and this, and this, and then life says, “Deal with THIS!” and all my plans get scattered to the wind.

Last year, 2017, I promised myself that I would get back to writing my novel I started before my Dad’s Cancer spread and was put on hold for me to take care of him and his needs.  I was blessed to have those last months with my Dad, but I promised myself after he passed that I was going to focus on my writing.  So, Dad passed in August of 2016, and I miss him every freaking day, he was my best friend and my sound board, and I flounder now when I am struggling with things.

I promised myself 2017 would be the year my writing career took off, and I was doing well for the first month and the second month: I was taking writing classes, signing up for writing retreats, writing daily on my novel, etc. and in the third month, my business got busy, so writing was put off due to long days of working my business.  That busyness carried into the fourth month with writing classes going by the wayside along with the writing because my brain was fried from the demands of work.

The fifth month rolls around and I found myself in the hospital with my sister who almost died.  We spent two months in the hospital, her fighting for life, and me fighting for her rights while she could not.  Praise God, the fight won and Four of Seven (my name for her in the Familial Roll Call) came back to us.  She struggled for many months, but she was alive and had all her faculties.

By the time all this took place, I found myself facing the last few months of the 2017 with minimal progress on my writing and all my plans and goals shot to hell and resting where all writing projects go to die.  So, I rallied.  I promised myself that 2018 was going to be the year my writing career took off (sounds like a bad case of ground hog’s day, the movie) and I was going to change my work hours to accommodate my time to allow focus on writing.  I was going to blog regularly, book reviews and writing progress and whatever I want to share, and I was going to start on the classes again and try and give the writing retreat another shot.

Then January 1, 2018 was here, and I was laid up with a severe case of the Flu.  For the first two weeks, I was in bed, barely working, and wishing I was dead just to make the terrible feeling go away.  I recovered from that only to find that my body has decided it wants to start causing me issues with more intense pain aside from my chronic pain I live with from the car accident I had in 2005.  It hurt to move a finger, and I am still struggling with this factor as of today.  But, once again, my plans and goals for my writing career were blown out of the water.

But guess what?  I came prepared with a rope to pull it back in.  Well, sort of.  I am doing writing classes and I am getting so stoked and encouraged that I am feeling the tingle in my fingers and the yearning in my brain to put pen to paper (or finger to keystroke).  Something I honestly have not felt since before my Dad got sick.

See, I can make all these plans and set all these goals, but if the desire and passion are not there, the plans and goals are easy to disregard.  Without passion, any activity or goal becomes work, or for me, just another job after hectic days with my business.

I did not get it until I started listening to all the different authors who were interviewed in the Women In Publishing Summit offered by Alexa Bigwarfe and sponsored by Vivante.  This is not a plug for anyone, however, I do want to thank Alexa for bringing the passion back for the writing mojo I love.  Alexa’s book, Ditch The Fear-Just Write It!, had the greatest statement that spoke to me.  The statement was, “Warning.  This is no ordinary plan.  It is the ass-kicker you need when you want to give up.”

This statement may not mean anything to you, but OH MY GOODNESS, it was like I was slammed in the head with a resounding, “DUH!!!!”  That passionate writing mojo said, “Oh, yeah!  Now we got it!”  I literally heard these two thoughts (heard thoughts…whaaat?) in my head as soon as I read that statement in Alexa’s book.

There will never been the perfect time to have my “writing career take off” – Life Happens.  Life will ALWAYS happen.  I will always have road blocks being thrown up at me when it comes to writing.  Why, you ask?  Because in order to achieve something worthwhile, you will always have challenges testing you and your determination to obtain that achievement.

With this new thought process, I am now embracing my passionate writing mojo and I am just going to do it, no matter what.  Even if I am waking up at 4:30am wide awake after falling asleep only 30-minutes to an hour before, I will write.  I have thrown out the plans and goals and I am just going to write.  It doesn’t matter what I write or even how well I write, as long as I write, I will be organically working those plans and reaching those goals.

Goofy SurprisedIt is so refreshing and freeing to think this way.  I love it!  So, you and I will be having almost daily chats, Dear Bloggite, because I want to share my Journey with you and maybe you will decide to share your journey, no matter what it is, with me, I would love to be there for you and support you in this Journey we call Life.

My challenge to you today: Think about your life.  Is there something you always have an intent to do but somehow never get around to doing it?  What can you do, to make that intent happen?  Are you going to need to throw out the plans and goals, like I had to do or are you going to have to tweak your life a little bit to make it happen?  Let me know down below in the comments. 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis

This is it!  I have finally finished the last book the Books & Broads Book Club agreed to read for this year.  The November Book chosen by the book club was The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis.  Let me tell you, Dear Bloggites, I made a huge sigh of relief finishing this one because I finally feel “caught up” to the other ladies in the club…LOL  On to the review:

The Moment She Left by Susan LewisI was unsure if I would like this book only because I was told the majority of the ladies in the book club did not like this book.  So, I figured it was going to be one of two things for me: 1. I hate it or 2. I love it.  The answer is 2!  I loved this book!  I was already intrigued simply because it was a mystery AND a fiction book AND not about Hitler or WWII or any other war there is! 🙂  The story line for The Moment She Left was about a young girl who disappears one day without a trace.  This young lady had everything going for her and her life was perfect, then she disappeared.  Two years after the disappearance without a single clue what happened, the father, Blake, asked an ex-detective, Andee Lawrence, to revisit the case.

Andee, as a favor for a friend of hers, agrees to revisit the case even though she was sure the police did everything they could to find her and yet could not find any leads.  Andee is a woman newly separated from her husband and is trying to find her way for herself outside her husband and children even though she is getting a lot of grief from everyone in the family.  Taking on this case is a good distraction for Andee and as she starts digging in, finds that there is an area that was missed by the police.  Once this area was discovered, a whole world of secrets are exposed for almost the entire town and one way or another, the key players are all tied to this disappearance.

No more story giveaway, on to the review.  Susan Lewis did an amazing job and building out each character in this story while adding to the overall plot.  The characters were well rounded and while this story was a mystery, there were funny characters that lightened and endeared the readers that much more to the town and people.  This story is the first in a series on Andee Lawrence and I do plan on buying the others in the series because I really liked this character.  Andee’s struggles with balancing life and work are struggles any one can relate to and the author wrote so well that you felt the emotions each character was feeling at the moment they had those feelings.

The only thing I did not like was that two-thirds of the way through the book, the end result of who did what to whom was apparent and so there was no surprise ending.  That was a bit of a disappointment for me because I like those stories that keep me guessing until the very end.  Even though the end became predictable, I still enjoyed the book and liked how each character was tied into the disappearance and how they were tied into the incident.  Overall, I loved this book and recommend you go get it if you enjoy a good mystery that does not confuse you.

I give The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you like a mystery, go out and give it a read.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Life wins again, Dear Bloggites. :-/  I finished this book in October when it was the actual Books & Broads Book Club monthly choice, but am just now able to write this review.  The October Book Club book choice was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James BrownI must admit, I was leery about reading this one because it was yet another book set in WWII and has Hitler as a feature due to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Fortunately, I rallied on and found that I loved this book!  My goodness, I was so surprised at what I read in this book because most of the Book Club members did not like this book and a few did not read it (yet).  I did go into this book thinking of it as a story about relationships through hard times thanks to the lovely Alice who enjoyed this book (I believe it was Alice, if not, please do not flog me friends).

Going into the story with the focus on relationships, I had the proper eyes to read this book and see all the amazing things about this story.  Daniel James Brown shared this amazing non-fiction story told from the eyes of one of the key members of the rowing team that fought their way to the Olympics against all odds.  While the author does go into a lot of technical elements of rowing and how the boats are built, I enjoyed reading the information because I am always loving to learn new things about the world around me.

The story focuses on nine young American college boys who joined the college rowing team.  All the boys are from many different walks of life and on different journeys in their lives, but managed to form a bond so tight that it dissolved the differences between them and forged the similarities that affected them throughout their lives.  These young men worked hard to obtain the right to go represent America in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and once there, won the gold medal against Hitler’s massive rowing team.

Throughout the novel, you are taken on an emotional journey of love, fear, joy, hate, and insurmountable dedication to achieve the dreams of these young men – a better life and a gold medal from the Olympics.  The relationships that the author highlighted throughout the novel between the boys and their family and friends, gave an intimate insight into life in the 1930s and how Americans lived during the depression and WWII.

The only fault I found in this book was that there were times that the technical repetition of how to row a boat throughout the book became a little daunting, but I believe it served a purpose to get the reader in the minds of the boys while rowing the boat as a team.  Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to those who love a real life, feel good story.

I give The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown 4 out of 5 Bookmarks! 🙂  Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!  Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  Here is another book review from my personal collection on Audible.  Amazon offered this book as an early read/listen before its release date, and because of life (you know that crazy thing that screws up all plans), I just got around to listening to it.

The Butterfly Garden by Dot HutchisonI love a good mystery, I love a good detective novel, and this book offered both.  The book is called The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) by Dot Hutchison.  The story is a different twist on a serial kidnapper/rapist.  Instead of writing the novel like most detective books where the reader follows the detectives on their journey of solving the crimes being committed, Dot Hutchison writes from the view point AFTER the bad guy is caught and follows the interviews of the kidnapped victims by the detectives.  This story line intrigued my sense of all things odd and unusual.

The main character is a kidnapped teen/young woman who was renamed Maya by the Gardener, the name the kidnapper told the girls he took to call him.  The Gardener would kidnap young girls around the age of 16 years old, the age he felt all women were in perfect form, and would rape them and tattoo huge butterfly wings on their backs.  He called them his “butterflies” and created this enclosed garden for the butterflies to live in until they turned 21 where he would then “capture them into an eternal beauty”.  I cannot tell you more on the story line without giving it all away so you will have to grab a book and find out. 😉

The way the author wrote the story, I was a little confused as to what was going on at the beginning because she toggled from one-character point of view to another.  Once I realized her cadence with the writing, I was pulled into the story.  As Maya fills in the detectives about what happened in The Butterfly Garden, the reader learns of how the Gardener hunts his prey when he picks his ‘Butterflies’; how the girls obtain their ‘wings’; and how the sons of the kidnapper became involved with all the girls being kept as captives.

The ‘Butterflies’ in the garden had to learn to get along with one another and as their knowledge grows of each other and their shared treatment from the Gardener, they form their own family with each other and always looked out for one another and mourned the loss of any ‘butterflies’ that were taken from the garden.  Maya was a sort of housemother to the girls in the garden taking on the role of caring for all of them and the newly kidnapped girls.  The other girls looked to Maya for answers due to her ability to manipulate the Gardener and one of his sons to obtain things the girls need in the garden.

The only issue I had with this book was that it did toggle back and forth from one point of view to another in the first person which I am not a fan of.  This book is the first in a trilogy written by the author.  I have not read Dot Hutchison before and I will probably get the other two in the trilogy to round out my collection.  She does write well and is able to give the readers a true understanding of the bad things that happened to the women by the kidnapper without providing too much detail or gore.

I give The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Toodles for now! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

A panda walks into a café.  He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asked the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit.  The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door, “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

“Panda.  Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.  Eats, shoots & leaves.”

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne TrussHi Ho, All!  I am doing a bonus book review, well heck, not really a bonus since I blog on most of the books I read. 😀  As you all know, I am a writer, albeit newbie writer, but a writer nonetheless and am always looking for books that cover the craft of writing and storytelling.

Being a Grammar Nazi, I always get giddy with books over any kind of grammar lessons, and I was nicely surprised when one of my Beautiful Books & Broads Book Club Tribe Monkey Member came up to me and handed me this book stating she immediately thought of me when she read this book.  Between the punctuation lesson and the snarky sarcastic way of the author, Lynn Truss, Darling Janice knew this was a book for me to read.  Thank You, Janice!!!

I was hooked on this book immediately from the first snarky sentence by the author.  I love being reminded of proper punctuation and in this day and age of “Text Speak”, punctuation is a dying art.  The book Eats, Shoots & Leaves, talks about all the standard punctuation marks that are slowly being disregarded in this world of technology where no one questions why their sentence seems off because Word did not tell them there was an issue. 😦

Lynne Truss covers the history of each punctuation she is talking on and provides great examples of how and how not to use each of them.  I was smiling from cover to cover reading this book.  If you are a writer or not, this book will definitely help remind you of how to properly state things in a written work so the meaning is completely clear without a question.

I give Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  It is a definite must have for anyone who knows how to write. 🙂  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P