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You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins - Book Review

You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins is not just another book for writers. It's one that mixes practical steps, wit, and honesty all into one big bowl and then bakes it for you. It's about how to be a writer for the love of it and get yourself out there; not in a publishing sense necessarily but in a 'I have a voice and I will be heard' kind of way.

You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins book cover

Jeff's words touched me straight to the core from the very beginning. Simple honesty. Along with all the therapies that suggest we should be happy and watch our circumstances change instead of waiting for happiness, Jeff pushes the message that you are a writer and your circumstances will change because you acknowledge that. It isn't about what you want to be when you grow up, it's about what you are right now. I'm not saying you have to be mature, I'm saying you have to own who you are right now. Be in the moment.

The writing in Jeff's book about writing is witty, simple, straight forward. The segments are quick and easy anecdotes that flow into each other with ease. He gives logical and clear steps on how to go beyond the writing and build a platform. The book as a whole is strong but not overpowering. It's certainly digestible.

I received this book from the author for review.


A Story of the West by Susan Spence - Book Review

A Story of the West by Susan Spence is an historical novel about a cowboy and his lady. Matt Daly is a cattle rancher in Montana. Lavina Lavold is a shopkeepers daughter who moves to Montana from big city life on the east coast. They fall in love.

The story was absolutely enthralling for me. I could not put this book down. When I had to, my mind was preoccupied with it while I cooked dinner, worked, did basically anything else. Susan weaves history into the story (sometimes with too much instruction) but still in a well-researched and comfortable way.

A Story of the West historical novel by Susan Spence

The life of cowboys in the 1800s was hard. But the twists and turns Susan introduces in her book were actually unexpected. There were moments when my mouth dropped open. She had foreshadowed well, but I was too lost in the story to catch it until after the fact. Susan also has great capability in introducing flashbacks. They are hard to incorporate smoothly, but I really enjoyed the travels back into memory. And the fight scenes were simply beautiful - intense, gripping, well paced.

I was a little thrown off by the history lessons. Then I realized how much the book really was about the history. It almost became one of the characters itself. I think the facts could have been shown better as part of the story instead of little snippets of information outside of what was happening, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I received this book from the author for review.


The Sun Zebra by R. Garcia - Book Review

The Sun Zebra by R. Garcia is a collection of stories told by a father about his young daughter and their daily antics. Five stories about extraordinary circumstances and the meaning behind them.

Garcia's writing captures the reader. I was drawn right into the story and was surprised with the outcome. The family connection I felt was strong but very natural. The characters felt real, flawed, beautiful, and surprising.
The Sun Zebra by R. Garcia book cover

The stories were a little bit too soap-boxy. The morals were point blank told to the reader. Granted, there was a lot of showing, a lot of stark, sweet moments, but the telling would creep back in and I was honestly frustrated. The stories touched me; they hit a nerve, but they would have snuck even deeper into my heart and mind if I was left thinking about them instead of being told what to think.

One note about the cover art: stunning, simply stunning.

R. Garcia parodied Poe in a very clever way. He showed what it's like to have the mind of a child. I really can't wait for more from this author. In the end, the stories were thoroughly enjoyable. I never wanted to stop reading, and I was left with a smile on my face.

I received this book from the author for review.


Torturing Myself Because I Refuse to Put the Book Down

I read. A lot. I think in all the books I have read in my life I have put two, maybe three, of them down without finishing them. (That includes boring history books.) I have this issue with not finishing.

But usually when I'm reading a book I don't really like, I have this constant stream of thought in my head while I'm reading. Why am I doing this what is the point this book is silly I'm wasting my time shouldn't I move on to something better but what about this book am I giving it the benefit of the doubt should I just keep reading maybe the next page is better maybe the next chapter is better oh this is hopeless. In other words, I'm not really reading but forcing my eyes to skim over every word so I give the book its due.

Anybody else have this problem?

Should I just learn to put a book down when I'm not enjoying it?


Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr - Book Review

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr seems like one of those cliche teen sex stories, but it so is not. Deanna is caught having sex at 13...by her father. It changes her future in ways she didn't imagine. But she comes to realize that the future is her choice.

The beginning did seem a tad cliche to me. Deanna describes imagining a story while Tommy does what he does to her in the backseat of a car. Probably a normal reaction for a teenage girl, but typical. Then I kept reading. The cliche beginning was only to show that the character was a normal teenager, but she has an seamless character arc that grows into a strong, independent yet thoughtful young woman.

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr young adult novel

Deanna is clever in a natural subtle way. Not like some young adult books where the teenagers banter like well-read, sweater vest-wearing Oxford students.There were times where she didn't know what to say. There were times when she didn't want to open her mouth even though she should have. It was all so real.

Sara Zarr has the ability to make me feel like I am the character. There were times where my palms were sweating and I wanted to tear my hair out. Emotions flooded me. I truly enjoyed this book.


Pursuing Passion

All those movies, the ones about people pursuing their life's dream, the one thing that makes their heart beat faster, those movies are a bit of a downer for everyone who doesn't know what they crave.

You can't call someone a workaholic when they are pursuing their passion. It's just not right. If they love what they are doing, they will do it all the time. Anyone who actually knows what they want to be doing, what they dream of and wish for, they should be applauded.

Jane Austen writing desk quill inkpot bathed in sunshine
But if you're one of those people who hasn't found that niche yet, keep trying.

I'm officially a freelancer

As of April 1st, I took hold of my destiny (that word is a bit strong but oh well). I became a full time freelance editor. And let me tell you, it is heaven. Now when I watch those movies - Soul Surfer, Save the Last Dance, Coyote Ugly (hmm, they tend to be aimed at girls...) - I don't feel this sense of emptiness. I can watch and enjoy and breath deep because I feel the same way.

Now that I'm on my own time (and trust me, it took a lot of work to get here and I still don't have enough work to support my book-reading habits), I can follow my callings. Notice the 's.' I have a few, though they may be related. I'm an editor, writer, photographer, book reader and reviewer, thinker, doer, immature geek, wife, daughter...the same as everyone, I am a lot of things. But now I get to dedicate my time to those things in the ways I wish.

I'm not meaning this post to somehow make you jealous (are you?). I want to share the utter giddiness and joy I have at doing what I am meant to do.


The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On WWII Poster

Some people might hate me for this: I thought Keep Calm and Carry On was stupid. Well, not that phrase itself, but the hype and the parodies and all that stuff. I never bothered to find out where it came from. I knew it was somehow British because of the strong use of the Union flag and the crown and all...

But this is so cool!

(I still think the parodies of it are a bit dumb.)


Her Daughter's Eyes by Jessica Barksdale Inclan - Book Review

Her Daughter's Eyes by Jessica Barksdale Inclan is the story of a secret. Two sisters share that secret, until they can't hide it anymore. Then it becomes both the thorn in their side and the glue that holds their life together. One of them is pregnant at 17.
Her Daughter's Eyes by Jessica Barksdale Inclan young adult novel
The literary aspects of the story and writing are simple, hidden, and shocking. Tiny little moments that seem insignificant become huge forerunners for revelations later on. In the beginning I felt that the sisters were only 14, maybe younger. Their situation seemed that much more terrible. I'm wondering if that was intentional.

There was a lot of build up for the secret to come out. There's more than the pregnancy, and the book makes you feel it is one way, then another, and then finally it is revealed. I loved that it wasn't the pregnancy that was the big secret, although it was a minor one, but that something else was occupying the thoughts of the characters.

I have not read a young adult novel that felt this emotionally involved, real, and literary in a while. I truly enjoyed it.