Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Preptober: What I'm Writing in November

 November is less than one week away. Like...WHAT. #mindblown

Anyway, yeah, it's also the month where writers do dumb things like try to write an entire novel in thirty days. Do we learn from these experiences? If by 'learn,' you mean realizing that it's a bad idea, then...no, no, we do not. This year, I'm just trying to make November a month dedicated to writing over other hobbies. Will I succeed in fifty thousand words? Probably not. But one can always hope, yes? ;) I decided not to participate with the official NaNoWriMo this year (there's been a whole lotta conflict on this subject, so I won't add my own voice to it except to say that I just want to do my own thing this year), nor with the King's Daughters' Writing Camp with which I participated in July (mainly bc that group personally took more effort and interaction than I'm willing to give during a month dedicated to writing and not social interaction *cough*). I joined a tiny group chat on Instagram, but that's it and I have to say that I'm super glad that I'm not joining anything bigger! (less commitment, ya know)

So. After that boring spiel, what am I planning to work on writing-wise in November? Well.

I was originally going to work on a secret project that's been stewing in my lil' bwain and in which I finally wrote a few hundred words...but suddenly my mind went "HeY LOOk it's yOUr Old BUDdY wANtinG tO be WrITTeN" so I started listening to this other story's playlist nonstop (NeedtoBreathe, Glen Campbell, Simon & Garfunkel, Bryan Adams, Tim McGraw-esque), wrote a couple thousand words in it, aaaaand yeah. I'll be working on this other WIP in November.

At least, that's the plan.

So. What is this unnamed story???

Drumroll, please...

...unfortunately, that's exactly what this is. An unnamed story. BUT not only is it an unnamed story, it's also the sequel to Little Boy Blue! *queue applause and fanfare*

Honestly I wasn't planning to start this story at all until I had edited LBB. Buuuut I think maybe God has other plans. 'Cause this story...well, let's just say it's got a whole lot better foundation and set themes than its prequel. (For real, LBB is a train wreck that I don't even know will see the light of day)

What's it about? Welllllll...honestly I don't really wanna go into that too much. 'Cause I talked all the time about Little Boy Blue and look where that thing's sitting—buried in my docs with a few future years' worth of dust sitting on top of it. 

If I don't want to share much about it, why did I bring it up? Well, I figured it was about time to give y'all a quick writing update. And I wanted to see if any of you have any title ideas. ;)

I will say that this story doesn't follow the life of Micah, my protagonist in Little Boy Blue, but a different and very important secondary character. Who is trying to get on with life. And forget what's happened before. Because pAIN.

A few titles that I've thrown around:

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hush, Little Baby

Jack and Jill

Three Blind Mice

(Yes, I realize that those last couple sound a little bit strange, but I think they've got good potential if you pair them with a good plot line) (also notice how I'm trying to keep the three-word nursery rhyme theme going)

Anyway. There's my writing update, barely readable as it is. It's late evening as I write this, soooo I'll blame it on that. *nods*

What's your writing project, friends? Planning on joining NaNoWriMo? Have any title ideas for me?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Book Review: Tested by Fire by Kathy Herman

When a bizarre houseboat explosion rocks the close-knit community of Baxter, firefighters, friends, and neighbors stand powerless as the McConnells' blazing hull sinks to the bottom of Heron Lake. Grief turns to outrage as new evidence proves there was one survivor -- and points to murder, something this sheltered community has never faced in its hundred-year history. In a race with the FBI, Jed sets out to track down the sole survivor, coping meanwhile with his own painful marital struggle. Baxter's mystery and Jed's dilemma are ones only God can solve in this suspenseful, surprising story of redemption amidst despair in small-town America.

Series: Baxter, book #1

My rating:

Ohhhh boy. *Deep breath* after that wonderful week full of amazing book recs, we're back to another two-star review. *cringes* I don't know why I put myself through these. This isn't even a book I *had* to review, haha! But maybe it's because I have trouble actually giving up on a book I've started. Plus the fact that I've got the entire series. Plus the fact that I continued holding out hope that the book would improve. *sigh*

(Would y'all prefer I didn't post so many lower-rating reviews? Or do you like rant posts? *smirks*)

So. The first words that come to mind with this book are...cliche. Cringe-y. Seriously—I did cringe while I read this book.

First of all, there's a lot of points of view. Now, I don't mind a couple or even maybe three POVs. But when there's at least eight? Nooooo thank you. It seems to me that the story could've been told just as well without so many.

So, there was something that really annoyed me. It seemed unrealistic to me, but idk, maybe that's just me. But anyway, so, (POTENTIAL SPOILER) when Mike's family's houseboat exploded, and later he was found to actually be alive...every. single. person. (except maaayyyybe two?) that had been thinking of him so fondly when they thought he was dead, suddenly turned against him and was convinced that he murdered his own family. Oh, forget the fact that he was such a kind, fun-loving man! He's suddenly a murderer now that he's alive and not coming out into the open! This was, in fact, so obvious and so played up that it was obvious the author tried wayyyyy too hard to convince me that Mike was a murderer.

So, the writing style. Heh. Noooot my thing. Seemed amateurish to me (I'm probably just really hard to please. After becoming an author, I've really started to notice writing style/voice more). It just...was kinda jerky and didn't hook me like I wish it would've. Like...according to Goodreads, it took me about two weeks to read this thing. Which, if it were a novel that hooked me like it was supposed to, is about twice as long as it should've taken. *sigh*

The salvation message is really the only thing that saved this book from one star. It was very well put, and there were even some lines that really struck me. That being said, I am disappointed in the incredibly cliche ending. Idk, maybe it's just me, but...well...it seemed super unrealistic. Like, for real. All of a sudden I was left going "waaaiiiit for real? Whyyyy did this happen??" I would love to expound, but, ya know, #spoilers

(idk, maybe I'll regret rating this thing two stars instead of one. Oh well.)

I've heard that this isn't Herman's best work, so we'll see. Maybe I'll try another one sometime. ;)

Have you read any Kathy Herman books? Which one would you recommend?

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Five Fall Favorites - Day 6: 2020 Favorites


*Coughs* Can you tell that this is my favorite day of FFF? *smirks* 

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes

This would be the second book I've read by Dykes, but even after the first one, I knew that she would soon become a new favorite author...and I was completely right. Oh. My. Word. I adore her writing style, and while the split time was hard to get used to, I soon fell absolutely in love with both plots. You can read my full review here.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

This one, y'all...wow. (pretty much my reaction for all the books in this post, haha!) I love Finkbeiner's writing style, and this story was so whimsical. I mean...the girl works in a diner. Her brother goes off to war. I'm just...*happy sigh* it made me laugh, it made me happy, but it also ripped my heart out. Soooo yeah. 

Concealed by Lisa M. Clark

I'M STILL SCREAMING ABOUT THIS ONE. That...wow. I should've seen it coming. I should've known it would've happened. But I didn't. And my heart is shattered. And I NeEEeD bOok THreE NOW. *curls up in a corner* the message in this dystopian novel is so, so, sososo good. It's one that everyone needs to hear, especially now. But liiiiike...*screams in frustration 'cause I can't share any more 'cause #spoilers* Just go read book one. And then book this one. So we can scream together.

Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

I'll admit, since this was my first Austin book, I fully expected to low-key hate this book. 'Cause, I mean, it just really looks like something sappy and disgusting to me. *cough* but I now love this cover 'cause I know how amazing the book inside is. Wow. I was expecting a typical, fall-in-love-and-be-a-spy-because-she's-been-suddenly-converted story. While some might call it that, I wouldn't. This girl, Caroline, does so much soul searching and legitimately working hard to make up her own mind by doing her own research. And I was blown away. (maybe we wouldn't be in such a mess if people tried this method.)

Defy by Tricia Mingerink

Yes, I'm aware that this is the old cover for this book. But I happen to like the old cover better. So fight me. *smirks* But, anyway, I think this is the only series that I've read twice and still loved just as much as I did the first time I read through it! (except for maybe the Circle C books, anyway.) So yes, definitely an all-time favorite series. ;) Book three is my favorite, but I can't say why 'cause #spoilers. But just trust me when I say that for those that love intense, non-magical medieval fantasy, this series is for you. (though I'll warn you, there's some romance and some bloodshed. So if you don't love that, then...might wanna stay away.)

Do you prefer reading indoors or out? I can't decide, honestly! The house is cozy and there's more comfortable chairs...but there's just something about reading outside in the fresh air that just...it makes me happy. *grins* So brush the leaves off of these benches (am I the only one who loves the sound of crunching leaves?), have a seat, breathe in the crisp scent of fall, and dive right into the pages!

(The giveaway winner(s) is being announced today! Did you enter? Go see if you won!)

What are your favorite books of 2020 so far? Did you love these books as much as I did??

Friday, October 9, 2020

Five Fall Favorites - Day 5: Instructional Nonfiction

Can you believe FFF is almost over?? *cries* it's been fun, y'all. BUT. It's not over yet. So we won't dwell on that. *nods* We'll just add more books to our TBR!

Today we're exploring instructional nonfiction! I don't know about you, buuuut I...haven't read nearly as much as I should. As is evidenced by the lack if diversity in my recommendations. Whoops. *shrugs* But, anyway, they're all instructional nonfiction, so it counts. *grins*

(can you believe that I only have one writing book on my list? *gasp* tbh I have good intentions but never actually take the time to read them *hides*)

The Writer's Guide to Weapons by Benjamin Sobieck

Disclaimer: I haven't actually read this entire book. I've read part of it, and I definitely learned a lot from what I read! I just...haven't read the whole thing. *hides* I can't wait to, though! My writing partner gifted me this book and Y'ALL it's so BIG. *grins* So yeah, definitely recommend this one if you're writing a book that contains weapons. 'Cause, ya know, it's kinda important to get your facts write. (pun intended. *smirk*)

No Other Gods by Kelly Minter

Devotionals count, right? Right. *nods* This one is so thought-provoking and convicting. It points out the 'small G' gods (little things that we wouldn't think of as idols) that we use to unknowingly replace the 'big G' God in our lives, and how we can conquer and get rid of them.

Beyond the Square by Edie Eckman

Where my crocheters at?? I love this book. Not only does it have spiral binding so that it stays open while you've got your hands busy, it's got soooo many motif patterns, as well as tips and tricks for joining, changing color, etc. (the companion book, Connect the Squares, is equally as good, but I forced myself to pick just one of them. *sigh*)

The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer

Another devotional! *grins* This one is...wow. The first devotional I ever did by Priscilla Shirer, and definitely not the last! It goes into depth how the armor depicted in Ephesians 6 correlates to how powerful and useful the Roman armor was, and how each piece had a specific use. Shirer then goes on to describe how we can apply it spiritually. So good.

Reversible Color Crochet by Laurinda Reddig

Can you tell I haven't read much instructional nonfiction other than devotionals and crochet books? *cackles* whoops. Anywayyy, this book is about how to use the author's unique technique (hey, that rhymes) for changing colors—and it makes the crochet work reversible! Plus, it's got a bunch of patterns with which to use this method, and they're all so pretty.

Are you an animal lover? If so, come on into the barn! You can pet the animals, feed them, and even maybe ride one or two if you'd like! Or, if you'd prefer to skip directly to the reading part, you can scamper up to the loft, cuddle up in some hay (still got your blanket? The hay can be pretty itchy!), and get lost in a book. Or maybe there's a book you'll find at Five Fall Favorites that'll tell you how to befriend a goat—you never know. ;)

And, of course, the giveaway! Today is the last day, so hurry and tell your friends to enter!

What sort of instructional nonfiction do you read? I obviously need to branch out more!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Five Fall Favorites - Day 4: Holiday

Aside from Epistolary (didn't figure I could only use Dear America books for that one) (but even then, I don't think I've read enough), this was probably the hardest genre for which to find books! But Kaitlyn, you may be thinking, surely you've read enough Christmas books!

Yes, yes, I have. And to give you only Christmas recs would be easy. But the catch here is that we had to find books with any holiday but Christmas. Yeah, I was getting pretty worried there for a sec when I couldn't find anything! But I did find enough...we'll just ignore the fact that over half of these are picture books from my childhood. *grins sheepishly*

Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration by Julie Stiegemeyer

This, I think, was the first book that popped into my head when I was told holiday—but not Christmas!—it's so perfect because, not only is it about the very first Thanksgiving, but when I was little, amid all the decorating and crafts Mom had us do for school instead of actual homework (she was pretty good at keeping us entertained Thanksgiving week *grins*), she also had us act out this book. So that was a lot of fun. And, being the only girl old enough, of course I was always the main character. *bows* (besides, by the time my sis was old enough, she just wanted to be an Indian with the boys *facepalm*)

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende & Harry Devlin

Yes, another book from my childhood! This is one we'd always check out from the library, and for some reason I just loved all of the Cranberry books. I think it was the illustrations, actually. They're...so...I don't know how to describe it, haha! I just remember that I would stare at Mr. Whisker's suit because of the texture. *shrugs*

I Don't Dance by Jesseca Wheaton

If you personally know the author like I do, you won't be surprised when I say that this book is for Independence Day. ;) The book isn't about the holiday (it's actually about a soldier and a girl he's known since his childhood), but it's in the book, soooo...that counts. ;)

Little Town at the Crossroads by Maria D. Wilkes

*smirks* You can't guess the holiday for this one, can you?? (Yes, it's another Independence Day book.) But for real, it's a Little House book, so you can't go wrong with that. Plus, I love the Caroline books more than the Laura books! (Aaaaaand the Charlotte Years...and the Martha Years...) (mini rant: it drives me crazy when people say 'Happy 4th of July!' Guys. The holiday is Independence Day. You don't go around saying 'Happy 25th of December!', do youuuu???)

The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs

A cozy lil' Easter read with alllll the Spring vibes! Another picture book, of course, but I remember absolutely loving to look at all the illustrations in this one. 

Have you ever read out on a lake? I haven't...but when books are involved, I'll try pretty much anything new! As long as I don't drop the book in the water, that is. That...would be absolutely tragic. But c'mon, let's give it a shot!

And don't forget to explore the other stops in the party!

As always, the giveaway—have you entered yet?? I sure wish I could have all of that stuff!

Are you a seasonal reader, or do you read holiday books whenever you feel like it? Or do you (like me) just not read much holiday fiction at all?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Five Fall Favorites - Day 3: Medical

Today's genre was super fun! Probably mostly because it was pretty easy to find enough books to shove in y'all's general direction. ;)

How are you enjoying the party?? Started reading any of the new recommendations yet? Or has your TBR just grown about ten times?? Even though I'm writing this post ahead of time, I think I can safely say that my TBR has become a small mountain!

And nowwww, on to the medical books!

 A Question of Loyalty by Jesseca Wheaton

If it's by Jesseca Wheaton and if it's a part of her Questions of War series, then you definitely know it's going to be good! Of course I'd recommend reading the trilogy in order, but I've heard that this one could be read as a standalone. It's all about WWII and military medics and nurses and prison camps and...*grins* time for a reread.

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

This. Book. Is. So. Beautiful. It makes your heart ache for what was lost. It gives you hope for the future. Aaaaannnnd...pretty much anything else I tell you about it will give away spoilers. But. There's a little girl in it. And a man with a past that would make you cry. And a river. So there's that.

Never Say Goodbye by Sarah Grace Grzy

I was afraid I wasn't going to like this book, seeing as how it looks like a completely sappy romance, but it's not. And it has a tiny lil' baby girl. And a doting paramedic father whom she has wrapped around her finger. And a bookstore owner (!!!!!) and a past that comes back with hurts and just...*happy sigh* soooooo good. Read by my review here.

Tomorrow We Die by Shawn Grady

If this looks like a suspense novel, it is. ;) Another book about a paramedic who discovers secrets that may, if he were to be found out, cause his demise. I wish I could share my favorite Grady novel, but, ya know, that one's about a firefighter and wouldn't exactly fit in the 'medical' category.

Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury

This...this is literally one of the sweetest books I've ever read. I want to read again so bad. Tyler, a baseball player, sustains an injury (I love sports-related books anyway, but add an injury and you've got me sold! *smirks*) and ends up having to find a job. This job lands him in a nursing home (as an EMPLOYEE, don't worry!), where he meets a woman that changes his life. Except this woman isn't a romantic interest. And AAAAHHHHH I LOOOOOVE this book!!!

Who else loves a bonfire—especially when there's s'mores involved?? *mouth watering* The evenings are getting cooler, at least where I'm from they are, so scoot a little closer to the flames and read by firelight. Sorry I don't have any blankets to offer you today, but if you visit the blankets room, I'm sure they'll let you bring one outside for a bit. ;)

(psssst—don't forget to find the books room for your free short story!)

And, of course, there's always the giveaway...

Do you enjoy medical books? Or do you faint at the sight of blood—real or imaginary?