• ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Zapata: a book review

    Synopsis: When engineer Avery McAndrews is offered a last-minute assignment to the rough and tumble border town of Zapata, Texas, she doesn’t think twice. Used to pushing past stereotypes, she’s sure this project will earn the long-awaited promotion. 

    Instead, she’s thrown in the crossfire between warring drug cartels and soon discovers that her captor, Javier Ramos, is more than just a power hungry drug lord. He’s crazy. 

    As lead attorney for the cartel, it’s Alejandro DeLeon’s job to manage Javier. But this time, Javier’s cruelty reaches epic proportions, and Alejandro finds himself wanting to risk everything to save Avery.

    Running for their lives with Mexico’s underworld at their heels, Avery and Alejandro discover unintended and intensifying emotions, feelings neither sought and neither seem prepared to control… 

    Review: Drug cartels, drug lords, a kidnapping, and a romance – that’s I where expected the story to get weird. But it never did. Avery is tough and there was never an unlikely scene created by her making a silly decision just so he could rescue her.

    Living in Texas, I was intrigued by this book but also curious about how accurate it would be. The short answer: the author did her research and nailed it. The setting and characters were believable, as well as their relationships.

    This was a quick and immersive read. I enjoyed watching Alejandro and Avery’s relationship unfold in a realistic manner.

    I am a bit of an El Chapo, Pablo Escobar, Narcos, etc junkie and this book filled the paperback void I have had. There was plenty of action but none of it was too disturbing or over the top – just real.

    I asked on Instagram if you’ve ever wanted to make up a new genre. This book is one of those and I would classify it as “realistic romance.” If that’s already a thing, please let me know because I would love to read more books where kisses are not shared while bullets are flying and bombs are exploding.

    The one thing I wished more for was more character development. But apparently this book is the first in a series (yay!) so I understand why an author would hold back and some details.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and promotion!

  • Book Reviews,  Writing

    One For The Blackbird One For The Crow

    Welcome to my stop on the One For The Blackbird One For The Crow blog tour!

    Four graves behind her. Four graves at four different farms, faded marks on the map of her life, tracing the route of her forced march out into this bleak wilderness. From Wisconsin to Minnesota to Nebraska, then to the eastern plains of Wyoming and finally here, under the merciless eye of the Bighorns. One Webber grave lay here already – the fifth monument to Nettie Mae’s losses. She never deigned to visit Substance’s final resting place, but she could feel its nearness.

    Wyoming, 1876. The Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other for as long as they have lived in this unforgiving wilderness. But when Cora is found with Substance – Nettie Mae’s husband – Ernest kills him, leaving two families without the men who ran their homesteads.

    This is a story of love, loss, betrayal, survival, and ultimately friendship. Told from multiple points of view, this thick book flies by. I appreciated the glimpse into each characters motives and thoughts – this is what drove the book forward and allowed the reader to connect with the characters.

    Beulah and Clyde are the teens left to help their mothers care for their farms. For a moment, I rolled my eyes over what was inevitably coming. But by the time it happened, I was so enmeshed with the characters, especially Beulah, that I was pleased to read about their budding relationship.

    The writing had a prose-like quality to it and the multiple POV story worked very well for this plot. The characters were richly developed and flawed as they were, I loved something about each one of them. Hawker does a fantastic job of balancing the utter desperation of the story with the story itself. She left plenty of room for connecting with the character while still understanding just how dire the needs of these two families were.

    If you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing, The Dovekeepers, or Inland (not my favorite), you will most likely love One For The Blackbird One For The Crow

    Available for purchase at your local bookstore or:

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

     

  • Book Reviews,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Evvie Drake Starts Over: a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    The tag on her chamomile teabag said, There is no trouble that a good cup of tea can’t solve. It sounded like what a gentleman on Downton Abbey would say right before his wife got an impacted tooth and elegantly perished in bed.

    Evvie Drake Starts Over – a book by Linda Holmes in which a large quantity of tea is consumed and is paired well with witty and sharp writing.

    Evvie’s husband and high school sweetheart, Tim, is a successfull and well-liked doctor in their Maine community. The book opens with Evvie packing up her car to leave him for a fresh start when she gets the call.

    Her husband has been killed and while it isn’t the fresh start she planned, Evvie is forced to start over in the town she grew up, surrounded by memories of her husband who unbeknownst to most others, wasn’t so nice to her.

    Evvie’s best friend Andy and Saturday morning standing bruch date is a single father after his wife left him and his two young girls.

    Andy has arguably done a better job of moving on while Evvie is gripped with guilt over her secret almost-decision. She spends many nights on the floor of her guest apartment room overwhelmed by anxiety and confused grief.

    So when Andy’s friend Dean, a professional baseball player needs a fresh start after forgetting how to pitch, Andy suggests that Dean rent Evvie’s spare room.

    On the surface this book sounded fairly predictable and quite honestly, outside my typical read. But referring back to the quote at the beginning of this review, you will get a sense of the author’s quick wit and fresh approach to writing about starting over and the grief and anxiety that accompanies life changes.

    I saw myself in the characters. I know a lot about loss, failure, starting over, anxiety, grief, guilt, and shame that almost keeps you from second chances. And like Evvie, I was even married to someone named Tim who wasn’t nice to me and nearly destroyed me – a side effect of what goes on behind closed doors.

    This book made me laugh, tear up, and root hard for the characters find their ways. The writing was poingant and never overly saccharine – the biggest reason I usually avoid these books. And the added sports element, written accurately, rounded this book out and made it a 5 ✂️ book for me.

    The characters were well developed and the other element the author did particularly well was in capturing the Maine coast with more than just words. You could taste, smell, and hear the coastal town in her writing.

    If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Things You Save in a Fire, or How Not to Die Alone you should enjoy Evvie Drake Starts Over.

  • Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: The Cover Edition

    Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! It’s the day where I write about ten book-ish things that make me happy.

    Today’s prompt from That Artsy Reader Girl is all about book covers, specifically redesigns. I’ll admit, I don’t follow that part of a book’s life so my spin on this is my top ten books that I have judged and bought based on their covers.

    Because really, we’re all guilty of that. Right??

    Here goes, in no particular order…

    1. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
    2. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
    3. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
    4. Blindness by Jose Saramago
    5. The Nix by Nathan Hill
    6. Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
    7. Lot by Bryan Washington
    8. All The Lives We Ever Lived by Katharine Smyth
    9. The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
    10. Recursion by Blake Crouch

    So while we are taught never to judge a book by its cover, I’m relatively successful doing so. Cover art is a huge part of the publishing process and for good reason.

    Because I can’t be the only creative-type falling in love with a book cover and then buying the book. 

    The funny thing – most of the time I really enjoy the book. And that makes me wonder about the science behind cover designs.

    What was the last book you judged and bought based on the cover? Did you enjoy the book?

    Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

     

     

  • Lists,  Recommendations,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Books About Writing

    Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie so I’m going list my top ten books about writing, both fiction and nonfiction.

    In fictional books, I find that they make the plot and characters strong because the author is writing about a subject they know well. Many writers love to write about writing, and I enjoy those storylines.

    With nonfiction books, my favorites feel like I’m talking with a friend – or even better, being let in on someone’s best secrets.

    In no particular order here’s my top ten:

    1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I have written here before about this book. Anne is a writer that reads like a friend – both in style and honesty about writing.
    2. A Ladder to The Sky by John Boyne – I finished reading this book earlier this month, and it quickly became one of my favorites of 2019. Thank goodness it’s fiction because it is a writer’s worse nightmare.
    3. The World According to Garp by John Irving – This novel is an old college favorite of mine that also happens to be one of the few books by John Irving that I liked – an unpopular opinion, probably so.
    4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – Yes, this book is depressing that was written by and tragic author in a semi-autobiographical manner. It’s also worth reading at least once; when you are not yourself depressed.
    5. Misery by Stephen King – The book was better than the movie. If you haven’t read this book or much by Stephen King, this is one I would put towards the top of the list of his books to read.
    6. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron – Based on brain science, this book brings out the science geek in me. It’s fascinating and worth a look if you want to approach your writing from a scientific point of view.
    7. Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose – This is another book written by a phenomenal writer that reads like a conversation with a friend. I recently reread this book and will return to it over and over.
    8. Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers by Joyce Carol Oates – This book is massive. It is a collection of short stories from a multitude of genres. It is well worth owning if short stories are your focus.
    9. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard – This book is newer to me and another one that is brutally honest about the craft of writing.
    10. To Show and To Tell by Phillip Lopate – Literary nonfiction was a tough genre for me to get a pulse on. I’m still not quite there, but this book was a fantastic starting point for me.

    Do you have any favorite books about writing? Thanks for stopping by!

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