Book Review: Perception

“Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late…” (from Goodreads)

I haven’t read the Jane Austen novel this is based on, but I have read and greatly enjoyed a modern adaptation of it, so I was definitely looking forward to this one. (Bonus–it’s written by Emily Ann Benedict who wrote the fabulous Father Christmas books. 😀 )

The setting in this was very strong and quite interesting. The characters were wealthy enough not to feel the Depression too much, but there were constant reminders. It was also neat to see how World War I and the slowly brewing second world war affected everyone so much. I sometimes forget that these huge historical events were so close together, and this book made that very real.

Abbey (love the spelling) was a great character, loving, sturdy, and capable, and accurately nervous about some things without being over the top. 😉 And when she made up her mind, it was for sure made up. Her delight over her business with Sam was very fun to see. I loved Freddy as well. He never seemed to fall into the “moody just because” cliche some romance guys do, and it was neat to see him slowly, tentatively thaw. Rosaline and the Mitchells were nicely complicated characters, and I loved Hudson.

The themes in this were less strong than I’m used to, but I liked seeing the story play out and the hints of God working through their circumstances were nice.

Just a note, a sideplot included SPOILER ALERT! murder, blackmail, and lying. There was also one instance of someone saying God’s name either as an exclamation or in address to Him, but it was unclear.

Best quotes: Abbey relaxed, grateful not only that someone had thought to throw a party for her, but that she had been able to escape attending.

The house that had once been like a family member was now a stranger. Her heart broke, in the way a child’s heart does when he realizes his imaginary friend is just that. Losing this place felt like losing her foundation.

Altogether, this was an enjoyable read!

I Am So On Top of Things

I am so on top of things, I wrote an entire blog post yesterday about how crazy last week was, and then promptly forgot to post it. XD

So, as I said before, last week was crazy and a perfect example of how on top of things I am. #sarcasm

All my deadlines conspired together to happen in the same week, but through grace and gifts from others I was able to make them all happen (albeit a little less on time that I wanted to). XD

Two of those deadlines were related to the A Very Bookish Christmas (it’s available for preorder, eep!) anthology! I finished up my draft of “Sincerely, Jem” and sent it off to my editor (Kelsey Bryant, a.k.a. The Coolest Ever), then turned right around and beta-read Rebekah Jones’s Sherlock-inspired novella, “Gingerbread Treasures”. (The characters are pretty brilliantly done.) Y’all, I’m soooo excited about this anthology, and I think you’re gonna love it too. 😀

This week is a little calmer, though I have more editing to do when Kelsey sends her notes back, a transcription job, and some regular life things. Oh, and I now have a beautiful stack of library books to read through. 😀 (Thanks for the trip, Mom!)

I’m particularly excited about the two on the top since they’re written by authors who have rocked my reading world–in a good way–previously. (Also, notice that almost all of these books are from the “new” shelf. I make a beeline for that shelf when I enter the library. XD ) I’ll let you all know how they turn out and which ones are my favorites. 😉

But for now, I have some other things to stay on top of so a week like last one (hopefully) doesn’t happen again. XD

My Favorite Cover Reveal (Ever)

Cover reveal todaaaaayyyy!!! ❤

Early last year, Sarah Grace Grzy published her debut novella Live Without You. I got to beta-read/review the book and interview her, which was quite a lot of fun, so when I heard she needed people to help with a cover reveal I was excited.

And then it hit my inbox.

❤ ❤ ❤

I kinda geeked out. It’s seriously one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen, and I totally wasn’t ready for it. 😉

Are you ready? 😀

Look…

Isn’t it gorgeous?!! There is so much going on in this cover, but I think my favorite elements are the dimension and little details of the silhouettes and that lovely shooting star. Also, THE COLORS. This one is a going to be a beauty in paperback, for sure. ❤

Here’s a nice 3D mockup to give you the idea. 😉

Okay, I’ll stop drooling over it now and give you the synopsis and cool things like that…

Never Say Goodbye by Sarah Grace Grzy

Genre: Contemporary // Romance // Inspirational

Release date: Spring 2020

They say time heals all wounds. But he was finding it a poor painkiller.

Tyler Collens has seen grief and loss in his years of experience as a paramedic—but he never expected it to touch his life in such a personal way. The death of his wife eighteen months ago shook his steady world and changed him in more ways than he can count. Time and routine have steadied his feet, and he looks toward the future as he raises his infant daughter—but the past has a tighter grip on him than he knows. 

Alyvia Emmerson has never been certain of who she is or where she belongs. Her dad’s abandonment as a teen broke a fragile piece of her heart, but ten years later, she has moved on. Living on her own, she at last has a project to devote herself to: revitalizing a shabby bookstore. But she didn’t count on her dream job revealing the shattered pieces of herself she thought mended long ago.

In this sophomore novella featuring beloved characters from Live Without You, Sarah Grace Grzy explores themes of grief and hope in a story that touches both the heart and spirit.” (from Goodreads)

Congratulations to Sarah Grace on her upcoming release and having one of the most beautiful book covers. Ever. ❤

What do you think of it? Anyone who’s read LWY, are you excited that Tyler has his own book? 😀

Cover Love: Sunsets

I really, really love book covers.

They’re like the wrapping paper to a gift, the trailer to a movie, and a beautiful scrapbook of memories I’ll have once I’ve finished the book. ❤

I’ve actually begun collecting my favorites into a file so I can study and love them more easily. 😉

So, new blog series alert! Once in a while, I’ll share a themed post of my favorite book covers.

Two things this series will not be…

  1. A smash covers I dislike fest. This is all about celebration. 😀
  2. A professional critique. (Do I look like a professional cover designer to you? XD)

Also, a little heads up, I’ll be linking out to the books, but some of them I either don’t recommend or can’t comment on because I’ve never read them. I’ll be sure to let you know which of those it is. 😀

Today’s cover love prompt is…

Sunsets!

If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson

Status: Unread

Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary // Romance

This cover feel so contemplative. Jill is looking off in the distance, and her hunched shoulder imply that she has a lot to think about. I can’t help but wonder if those are heavy burdens or daydreams. I love the sunspot right over her shoulder, and from the movement in her hair and her folded arms, I can feel the coldness of the wind. I’m not usually a fan of such a big title, but I love it’s gradient directly mirrors that of the sky and helps tie everything together. And that sunset is pretty perfect. ❤

How to Keep Rolling after a Fall by Karole Cozzo

Status: Unread

Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary // Romance

I love illustrated covers, but I also love ones with photos on them, soI feel like this cover is the best of both worlds. The sunset is amazing, and the couple watching it look pretty cute, but the more I look at it, the more I notice the beautiful sky. Not only do those faint lines on it tie together all the colors of the cover, but also their curve helps create a sense of movement, fitting perfectly with the concept of “rolling” that is in the title. Also, the title font = ❤ ❤ And I like the illustrated elements that complement it.

Adrift by Jaycee Weaver

Status: Unread

Genre: Romance // Contemporary // Christian fiction

Normally, someone alone out in a boat with a title like that would have me alarmed, but this actually looks pretty peaceful. I’m inclined to think that being “adrift” has less to do with where she’s at and more about how she’s feeling inside. The colors of this are so light, I kept almost missing it as I looked through my cover file. I love how the sky and the water are directly mirrored just as she and her reflection are, and it’s not only visually interesting but thematically so. I have many theories. 😉 Also, can we talk about how the end of the word “Adrift” is kinda fading away into nothing? ❤

That was a ton of fun! I hope you enjoyed. 😉 Keep an eye out for one more sunset-themed cover tomorrow as part of an [ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS] cover reveal. ❤

What prompt should I do next?

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

(Mine is actually green,
but I couldn’t find that one online…)

“Join the Mysterious Benedict Society as Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance embark on a daring new adventure that threatens to force them apart from their families, friends, and even each other. When an unexplained blackout engulfs Stonetown, the foursome must unravel clues relating to a nefarious new plot, while their search for answers brings them closer to danger than ever before.” (from Goodreads)

Once upon a time, I was ordering birthday gifts and this was on sale so I bought it for myself and lived happily ever after. The End.

This book got to travel around with me a bit more than books usually do which probably is a testament to how good it was. XD

I ate up every clever and heart-filled moment of this book. I especially enjoyed moments when the Society was working together and Constance’s backstory. (Seriously, wow. I never expected to get to know it, but when we did, it made soooo much sense.)

Mr. Benedict completely wrecked my heart in this one. He was so giving and selfless and brave. Reynie was great too, as always, and everyone. Constance was fun as a satire of a typical little kid–noticing patterns, getting her way, and subtly letting adults know what she needs.

Something I especially loved in this book (and the whole series, really) is the family relationships both by blood and adoption. Don’t get me started on the amazing loyalty between Kate and her dad, Milligan. Also, the Washingtons and Sticky are sweet, and even though I relate to him least of all, Sticky is growing on me and it’s neat to see his character develop. There was even a hint of this sort of relationship on the evil side which was surprising and interesting… So much love and trust and loyalty in this book. (I mean, I should have expected that from the title. XD )

It ended on a truly triumphant note, and I’m so glad to have read this series. ❤

Just a note, the Ten Men can be very threatening, and there are injuries, kidnappings, and a lot of general peril on about the same level as the other books.

Best quote: Reynie felt an old, familiar ache. He instantly recognized it as loneliness–or in this case anticipated loneliness–and not for the first time he lamented his too-vivid imagination.

(And then there’s the beautiful sentence about Milligan on pg. 337, but it’s a spoiler, sweetie.)

Altogether, this was quite satisfying, and I understand now why this is well-beloved. 😉

It remains to be seen whether or not I’ll read the prequel and the new book. 😉

Longing to Write

I’m writing this from the kitchen table while I babysit breakfast. As soon as the whole kitchen smells like sausage, I will put the eggs in.

Something wonderful and a little surprising happened to me last week. I’m in this really weird in-between stage where “Sincerely, Jem” is almost out of my hands and to the editor but it isn’t published yet either. So it’s a Schrodinger book—both done and not done. XD

Anyway, I’ve had a novel plotted for two years now and in the last few months ideas for it have been “attacking” me. Post-it notes, a brown and bronze notebook, my entire brain… they’ve all been busily trying to get me to write it. Last week, my other job wasn’t lining up, giving me a lot of extra time, so I sat down to write.

I piled up my notebook, Post-it notes, and my Dana (an “ancient” distraction-free, digital writing tool) on my bed. Then I opened up my plot, brainstormed a little bit, and began writing, and writing, and writing. The words were coming so easily that I finished the day with a record count (for me anyway) and two chapters under my belt. You better believe I was more than ready to write the next day, especially since some of my favorite scenes were coming up! 😀

Even though I was very tired from some active work in the morning, I still managed to pour out a couple thousand more words, a nice surprise for me.

That was four days ago, and since then, I haven’t written a single word on the story. A transcription job (it finally came! Yay!) and lovely weekend events have taken my time. While part of me is eager to continue that writing streak (and a story I’m fiercely in love with), I’m also glad for the break because I think it will make the writing I get to do that much better.

One could argue that I wrote so much because I was writing distraction-free (huge factor, for sure) or because I had a good plot to work off of (also huge factor), but I’m also thinking it had something to do with how much I had missed writing. I had been longing for it, “torturing” my brain with held-back ideas, and so busy that when I could write, it was a treat. Not “hey, you’re an author, get to work”, but “hey, you’re a writer and you get to tell a story again”.

So while I get one book off to the editor, send in my transcription, and save those eggs from burning, I’ll be planning a disastrous christening for the next time I write.

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

“The Mysterious Benedict Society is up against a new mission, significantly closer to home. After reuniting for a celebratory scavenger hunt, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are forced to go on an unexpected search–a search to find Mr. Benedict. It seems that while he was preparing the kids’ adventure, he stepped right into a trap orchestrated by his evil twin Mr. Curtain.

With only one week to find a captured Mr. Benedict, the gifted foursome faces their greatest challenge of all–a challenge that will reinforce the reasons they were brought together in the first place and will require them to fight for the very namesake that united them.” (from Goodreads)

After the magic that was The Mysterious Benedict Society, I ordered the sequel from Book Outlet* and put it in the “Read This Sometime, It’s Gonna Be Good” queue.

It was good. 😀

I love how the characters were affected (for good and for ill) from the first book and the growth that happened in them. And it was great to see the bonds between them strengthen. Reynie and Constance have a particularly sweet sibling-ish relationship. Speaking of Reynie, his struggles always speak so much to me and are often something I need to hear. XD

The treasure hunt in this was sooo much fun! And dangerous. And fun. I especially liked the place names that were clever wordplays, and the kind adults that helped them along the way. The children’s gifts were stronger than ever and complemented each other so well. And Constance. O.o. They were up against an even more powerful enemy in this one, and with Mr. Benedict out of commission for a good deal of it, things got pretty crazy. I did love how he was more in control than he seemed but no spoilers. 😉

This wasn’t my favorite in the series only because the themes were less strong and didn’t “sparkle” as much as the first one. Also, something Mr. Benedict said at the end about being “clever enough to take advantage” of the goodness inside of people sounded a bit supervillain-ish even though I think I understand what he meant (and he did regret some things about S.Q.). 😉

Just a note, the agents on the side of evil were very threatening to the children. There was also some lying and running away.

Best quotes: Mr. Curtain pursed his lips, pretending to consider. “But you’re right, it may prove too much of an inconvenience. I’ll need to reflect upon it. What do you say, Benedict? Would you prefer to be gotten rid of entirely, or to sleep your life away in a closet?” “I am partial to long naps,” Mr. Benedict said. “But I’ve never been gotten rid of before, so it’s difficult for me to say.”

“You’ve all grown so much!” said Number Two, jotting the figures down on a scrap of paper. “I suppose that’s to be expected. At some point your bodies have to catch up with your hearts.”

Altogether, I enjoyed this sequel, and falcons are cool.

*My budget-breaking happy place.

Kiera Q & A Vlog!

Okay, so I filmed a very awkward, rambley vlog answering y’all’s questions about my novel Kiera. It was fun. And awkward. And it includes an introduction to my Funko Pops, so that’s fun. 😉

I am not a fish, in case you were wondering…

Yes, there’s a part two. 😉

Thanks so much for sending in your questions! I hope you enjoy their answers. 😉

Plate Update: Muffins, Beta-Reading, and Choir

September is probably one of my favorite months of the entire year. ❤ Summer ended and so many new things began…

Last month’s full plate was full of new gluten-free baked goods. 😉

Here’s an update on my full plate…

Pleasure read:

Underground (four stars)

In 27 Days (five stars ❤ )

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (five stars)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (five stars, edited copy, family read-aloud)

Beta-read (eeek!):

Molly and Anna (four stars)

Answered:

Emails and texts

This Goodreads question and this one

Wrote:

Meeting minutes for my transcription job (lots and tons)

Book acknowledgments 

A newsletter

Blog posts (the top five being My Summer Reading = Fabulousness; Announcing…; and Happy Autumn!!! +Giveaway.)

Edited:

“Sincerely, Jem” x 2 (I love my beta-readers!)

(Very dark selfie complete with choir folders)

Miscellaneoused:

Made gluten-free banana bread

Joined church choir

Began babysitting for church events (so fun!)

Made a mockup cover for “Sincerely, Jem” ❤

Baked and ate some really good muffins 😉

I also attended an amazing ladies’ retreat with my church, celebrated Pearl’s birthday with family and cupcakes and Rogue One, worked with my beta-readers, enjoyed/analyzed some new movies and TV show episodes, and had some amazing hangout time with my nephews. Also, I bought my first Funko Pop. 😀

(Waiting in line to buy giveaway stuff and a Cindy-Lou Who Funko Pop. 😉 )

This month, I’m looking forward to sending “Sincerely, Jem” to my editor, starting up some new projects, and continuing to read through the Bible. (We’ve been stuck in the prophets for a while–which is actually pretty amazing–but chronologically we’re almost to Jesus. 😀 )

How was your September? What are you looking forward to this month?

Book Review: Legends

An unwanted adventure.

A mysterious enemy.

A breathtaking sacrifice.

Emerson has plans. Plans to stay in his cozy workshop and work in peace as autumn and winter pass. Plans to work hard enough to distract himself from Saria Beggley’s absence. Plans of becoming a successful inventor in order to… well, he’s not thought that all the way through.

But all of his plans are ripped away in one evening when Elton Thorne returns from a quest and unwittingly brings dangerous pursuers straight to the Kadwells’ door.

Kidnapped from his home and catapulted into an adventure he didn’t ask for, Emerson enlists Saria and Coral to heal Ianthe Brighthelm’s mind. Perhaps she will know who’s pursuing them and why. An unfinished invention is waiting for him at home, and he can’t wait to return to the quiet sanctuary of his workshop.

But the danger is larger than Emerson could have guessed, not only to him and those he loves, but to the island chain he calls home. An ancient enemy is plotting, and he means to take everything–even Emerson’s very identity–from the one young man who has unwittingly thwarted him at every turn.” (from Goodreads)

I’ve been struggling to write this review for over six months now, and even today it was a struggle to start it. My notes can’t even begin to capture what I was thinking and feeling as I read it, and I’m not saying that to be dramatic or something. 😉 This will be my best try, but please know that this book is more important, more beautiful, and more profound than I’ll be able to express.

(Also, isn’t the cover perfection?!!)

I’ve said from the beginning that this trilogy was a little out of the box for me, given that it is marketed as paranormal which is a genre I rarely read. There were elements of that in this one too, for sure, but I found it handled with care. 😉

I loved Emerson, Saria, their families, and the Gifted (as always XD), and Elton is growing on me… 😉 I wouldn’t mind a continuation of his character arc with some crazy western-ish escapades on the side.

(We interrupt this clumsy review to say I made the mistake of opening my copy of the book for thirty seconds and crying again.)

Emerson was such an adorable little cinnamon-rolly-thingy missing Saria the entire first bit of the book. He’s usually so focused. XD Lots of quiet, honest cuteness in this one for sure. And loyalty.

Their escapades were great as always–though breaking into the girls’ school was awkward–and I cracked up when Emrie hit Elton with the door. 😀 Also, fantasy coffee for the win. The woman who gave them shelter in her cottage was such an inspiration, and I love what she said about gifts. ❤

Here is where I dissolve. There was sooo much in this book about identity and service and loyalty and reminding people who they are. And true love and IDENTITY and identity being something more than what you can give to the world but something deeper, sourced from God.

Yeah, go read it. And be prepared to be shocked by what the author is willing to take from her characters. 😉

Just a note, there was some peril including kidnapping and a fire. Also, some light, sweet romance.

Best quotes: Just my luck. Get kidnapped–and by the amateurs no less.

“Some folk are gifted with extraordinary gifts, some have just a bit more of something than is ordinary—” her gaze strayed to Saria. “But most of us are given just the ordinary ways to help others. A warm bed and a meal for the traveler. A kind word for the sad.”

Altogether, this was a satisfying series end with themes I’ll hold in my heart for a very long time.

My review of book one, Shallows
My review of book two, Phantoms