Favorites of 2016

2016 was a fantastic reading year for me! According to Goodreads, I read 90 books, outdoing my goal of 70. I picked a few favorites to share with you!

 

Contemporary

Even Now by Karen Kingsbury

Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury

Diamond by Julia Erickson

 

 

Historical

God’s Will by Meghan M. Gorecki

Brothers and Betrayal by Sarah Holman

From the Dark to the Dawn by Alicia A. Willis

 

Fantasy

Samara’s Peril by Jaye L. Knight

Deny by Tricia Mingerink

The Ryn by Serena Chase

 

 

Futureistic/Dystopian

Counted Worthy by Leah. E. Good

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes

 

Doesn’t-fit-in-any-category

Cloak of Light and Light of the Last by Chuck Black

 

~~~~~~~~~

Have you read any of these?

What are your 3 favorite books of 2016?

Book Review: God’s Will by Meghan M. Goreki

51dGuzXMCiL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

 

God’s Will thoroughly shocked me. I LOVED IT! I was not expecting to love it as much as I did (and do). This is a book I originally bought in Kindle, but soon after finishing it I bought the paperback. It’s one I can’t wait to share with my siblings. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.

Plot/Storyline: 4/5
The beginning was a little slow, but not enough to make me stop reading. The story itself felt very realistic to the time period.

Characters: 5/5
WOW. All of the characters were so deep and well-developed. I felt like I knew each of them personally.

Writing: 5/5
It was absolutely beautiful, especially for a debut novel.

Want-to-read-ability: 5/5
After I got beyond the first three chapters, I was completely sucked in and couldn’t put it down.

 

~~~

Have you read God’s Will? What did you think of it?

 

Next week I have a very special announcement!!! Stay tuned for something super cool (or, at least, I think it is cool). :)

My New Money Dump

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to go through phases of something I’m interested in that my ‘wild’ money gets funneled into. For a time it was thrift stores, then antique stores, and now it’s …

Well, it’s a few things right now.

At the moment, I’m mildly obsessed with Converse All Stars. Just mildly. Believe me, I know people who are CRAZY obsessed with them. Ahem anyway, one of the reasons I love them is that they are the perfect blend between sporty and trendy. And since I tend to lean toward the more casual side of dressing, they’re perfect. And I can wear them with skirts. But the MAIN reason I love them so much is because if I buy a half-size bigger and take out the insole, they fit my bulky, ugly foot orthotics (that not a lot of cute shoes can accommodate). They’re the perfect summer-weight shoe, and my orthotics fit. Win win all the way around

Back to what I was saying: I had some birthday money accumulating, so I decided to purchase another pair of said shoes (*only* my second pair, mind you). No biggie.

Fast forward a day.IMG_1987

I was introduced to this lovely website called ThriftBooks.com by an friend who shall remain nameless. (You know who you are. ;-) ) Since the books were so awesomely inexpensive, and since I had some MORE birthday money to spend, I was able to buy 7 classics for under $20.

Umm, OK. Is this awesome or what?!?

Later that evening, I told my dad that I had found my new favorite money dump. He got this pained look on his face and said, “Converse shoes?”

I laughed at him.

If only I had THAT much money to spend on shoes with any amount of frequency.

No. ThriftBooks. It’s awesome. Seriously, go check it out. They don’t have a lot of newer books, but all the classics I needed were available and cheap. Can’t go wrong.

 

Have you gotten any books from ThriftBooks?

Book Review~Dare by Tricia Mingerink

I really hadn’t heard much about this book before I downloaded it. I don’t remember exactly what made me want to read it in the first place, but I probably saw it on someone’s blog (it seems that I find a lot of books in that way). Boy, was I in for a surprise.

dare-ebook-cover

Plot/Storyline: 5/5

How many ways can I say awesome? Amazing. Stupendous. Astonishing. Phenomenal. Need I go on?

Note to you non-fantasy people: Even though this book is listed as fantasy, there was absolutely no magic or prophecies or anything of that sort. The feel of the book was that of medieval historical fiction.

 

Characters: 5/5

Tricia Mingerink has an amazing gift for creating 3 dimensional characters. There are only a handful of books I’ve ever read where I remember feeling so connected to the characters.

 

Writing: 5/5

Her style is so different and refreshing. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Dialogue: 5/5

Absolutely killer dialogue. It was like I was hearing every word, seeing every raised eyebrow, and watching every finger twitch.

 

Want-to-read-ability: 5/5

More like 10/5. I loved this book. Way more than I ever expected to. I mean…knife-wielding knights dressed in black, who creep about the countryside spying on nobles? How much cooler does it get?

March Update/Review

 

Since December, I’ve been trying to finish the first draft of The Old River Road. Unfortunately, I ran into some historical inconsistencies that needed attention before I could continue/finish the story. After bugging extended family members, friends who knew the McDonald family, and taking several trips to the library and Spokane’s history museum, I am *almost* back on track.

 

Editing is rather slow with this book. I’ve really shirked in my duties to this poor little story over the past few months. As of Sunday, that changed. Now, my goal is to edit two chapters each day. That’s about an hour of work. I can do anything for an hour, right? Right. Tell me I can.

IMG_1372

BTW, this is what NaNo does to me. I cannot remember the last time I confused two, to, and too. I’ve done it TWICE in this book.

 

Coming up in April is Camp NaNo. I was going to do another full 50,000 word project, but when I realized how far behind schedule I am with The Old River Road, that got pushed to the back burner. However, my goal is to do 25,000 words (though I’d be happy with 20,000). The project I will be working on is what I have been calling my Secret Story.

 

BUT!

 

It’s not a secret anymore because I’m going to tell you about it RIGHT NOW!!!! :-)

 

Here is the blurb (and a draft of the cover):

 

1Chelsea is the daughter of Ralph Sanders, a respected crab fisherman and the much loved captain of the vessel Cora Lee. Named after her deceased mother, Chelsea feels a connection with the boat, and with the ocean, that no one but her dad can understand. When a sudden, unexpected proposal from her maternal grandparents sends Chelsea far inland, she fights with her desire to return home…to her dad, cousins, and everything she knows. But after taking a closer look, Chelsea realizes that though her grandparents are wealthy and not wanting of any worldly goods, they have not yet let go of death of their daughter, though she died sixteen years previous. Pulling away from self-pity, Chelsea reaches out to her grandparents and help them heal despite their obvious annoyance. Will Chelsea be able to help her grandparents move on in their lives? Or will their exasperating, constant mentions of Cora drive Chelsea away?

 

Already, Ocean Hues has 26,000 words, so it shouldn’t be too hard to resume. (Starting books is always the worst part for me.)

 

Also, I purchased a new word processing program called Storyist. Apparently, one must be a techy geek to figure this program out. It’s been rather maddening, but as I’ve slowly been understanding and working through the program, I think it is going to work very well for me. One thing I love about it is the ability to keep all my random papers and notes in one document/project. Maybe, eventually *crosses fingers*  it will actually make it so that I don’t have random pieces of paper spread all over the house with random notes written on them! ;-) (Doubtful, but one can hope, right?)

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.12.27 PM

 

Something else new is this beautiful new computer monitor. It is amazing. I can now sit at my desk and work with Adobe, read onscreen, and do schoolwork on this blown-up version of my laptop. All I have to do is connect the two computers and there we go…laptop expanded. It’s awesomeness.

 

IMG_1426

 

One of my sweet, lovely siblings came into my room and STOLE my desk chair. :-(  Well…they were given permission from mom to steal it, so I guess that makes it better. Still, I’m out a comfy desk chair, and now I’ve got to find a new one that won’t fall apart when I spin around in it. After all, isn’t that the only thing desk chairs are good for?

 

I’ve read so many lovely books this month. Just to name a few, From the Dark to the Dawn by Alicia Willis, Dare and Deny by Tricia Mingerink (and oh my goodness get ready for a RAVING review on EACH of these books), The Little House Charlotte Years, Adventures and Adversities by Sarah Holman…I could go on and on. One of the best times I found to read was the 3-hours-3-times-a-week driver’s Ed class for my BABY brother.

IMG_1368Notice the hair tie? Not for hair. Perfect bookmark.

 

 

Soooo….that update was probably much more involved than you would have wished but hey…

Is anyone else participating in Camp NaNo? What have you been working on? Tell me tell me…I love getting comments! It’s like candy, finding a comment in the comment box. Come on…you’ll give me some virtual candy, right?!? *gets down on knees and begs*

Book Review: Counted Worthy by Leah E. Good

Counted Worthy is a book I had been wanting to read for a LONG time. I was so excited to finally read it…and to add another book to my list of favorites.

counted_worthy

 

Plot/Storyline: 5/5

Well executed and well structured. Not to mention realistic and extremely enjoyable.

 

Characters: 5/5

I loved the characters. Heather confused me a little at first, but as the book went on I felt like I got to know her much better and she wasn’t so mysterious.

 

Writing: 5/5

Not only was the writing spectacular, the pacing of the story was one of the best I have seen. Had the book been any longer, it would have felt dragged out. Had it been shorter, it would have felt too fast.

 

Dialogue: 5/5

Perfect!

 

Want-to-read-ability: 5/5

Talk about impossible to put down. Each chapter left me on the edge of my seat and I had to keep reading! (I may or may not have postponed math one day in order to finish it.) The sequel to this book CANNOT come soon enough!!

 

Have you read Counted Worthy? What did you think of it?

Book Review: Becoming Nikki by Ashley Elliot

9781492877349_p0_v1_s192x300I had been wanting to read Becoming Nikki for a long time…ever since I saw the author’s interview on Homeschooled Authors. The plot intrigued me, as did the fact that the book was about sibling relationships.

But wow.

This book totally took me by surprise.  

 

Plot/Storyline: 5/5

I was completely riveted by this book from the first page. The entire plot was so well executed and realistic.

 

Characters: 4/5

I loved the characters…well, except for the ones I didn’t like. But I’m pretty sure those ones were supposed to be disliked.

My only gripe is that I wish Nikki and Alec’s dad had been a more significant part of the story.

 

Writing: 5/5

It was amazing. Absolutely unheard of for a debut novel.

 

Dialogue: 4/5

Sometimes, it was hard to understand what the characters were trying to say. Elliot used real-life lingo/slang, which made it sometimes hard to comprehend. But, it is how most people talk these days, I had just never seen it written on paper.

 

Want-to-read-ability: 5/5

Absolutely couldn’t put it down, it was so good. I had a day off and read the book in about six hours. I wish it had been longer.

 

Book Review: Resist by Emily Ann Putzke

Being part of the advanced reader’s team for Resist was an absolute privilege. Thank you, Emily, for letting me read your amazing book!

1

Emily took the lives of Hans and Sophie Scholl and brought them to life in a beautiful, realistic manner that pulls the reader into their terrifying world of Nazi Germany. This is not at all a light read; be prepared to cry. :)

 

Plot/Storyline: 4/5

Since Resist is about real people’s lives, there wasn’t much of a “normal” plot for the book. However, it wasn’t needed, as the lives of the Scholl’s and their friends was exciting enough without a typical fiction plot.

 

Characters: 4/5

I felt like the characters were a bit vague and could have been built upon. It was far from horrible, though. :)

 

Writing: 5/5

Emily’s writing is always amazing, and this book was no exception.

 

Dialogue: 5/5

Beautifully done.

 

Want-to-read-ability: 4/5

Around the middle, the book got a little slow. This book couldn’t be described as a thrilling adventure, but is was very good. I learned a lot about WWII.

 

Warnings: Some frightening scenes of warfare and ghettos that might not be appropriate for younger readers. Also, mild language was present.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Emily is an extremely talented writer and I can’t wait to see how her writing continues to grow with each book!

 

authorpictureAbout the Author:

Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. You can learn more about Emily and her books on her blog, Goodreads, TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to enter Emily’s generous giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing Book Reviews

(Yeah, that’s a terrible title. Sorry. It’s late, and I’m tired.)

I’m certainly don’t claim to be an expert in the area of book reviews, but I enjoy reading and writing book reviews and have learned a few things along the way.

Book reviews are touchy things…not only can they benefit the author, but they can gratefully influence prospective readers as well. A review can be the difference between someone buying or not buying a book. Here are a few key areas that I look for when reading and writing book reviews.

1. The Storyline.
How did you like the story?  What particular aspects of the plot did you enjoy/appreciate? Was the plot predictable or full of twists? Did it keep you reading or were you having to make yourself read?

2. The Writing.
Was the writing style engaging or just so-so? Were there so many little misspellings, incorrect punctuation, and grammar mistakes that it drove you crazy?

3. The Characters.
How personable were the characters? Were they real? Did you feel like you knew them by the end of the book?

 

When I am reading reviews, I try to look for the aspects of the review that has these key items in them, as those are generally the most helpful. I want to know why somebody liked the book and what they liked about it…not just that it was absolutely amazing. :)

What about you? Do you like reading reviews? Writing them? I want to know!

 

Book Review: A Different Kind of Courage by Sarah Holman

51OplPfEXoL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_A Different Kind of Courage is a book that was full of surprises. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I began reading, but needless to say, this book now ranks high in my top 10 historical fiction books.

 

Plot/Storyline: 5/5

Not only was it historically accurate, but extremely engaging. And, I felt like I learned a ton about the Revolutionary war era.

 

Characters: 5/5

One of my favorite 1st person stories ever. Somehow, Sarah was able to write it so that even though the readers are in William’s head, it feels like you are living in the other character’s heads as well.

By the way, Selah is awesome. I want to meet her.

 

Writing: 4/5

Prose could have been tightened in some places, but no huge complaints.

 

Dialogue: 4/5

Sometimes a bit jumpy and hard to understand, but that was mostly as William was listening to others talk.

 

Want-to-read-ability: 5/5

I couldn’t set this book down. It was SO good. I stayed up WAY TOO LATE finding out what happened to William and Selah.

 

This is an amazing story. Any history lover will appreciate the little details thrown in here and there, and even if you don’t love history, I bet you’ll like this book.