Coming Soon: My Fun Summer Release

Boots 1.5

When I’ve been asked the “What’s next?” question lately, I’ve mentioned that “I’m now making my first attempt at writing Chick Lit longer than a short story.” I even included it in a blog post last winter, and the ensuing months turned out to be the longest stretch of time I’d ever been one (1) lone word into a new manuscript.

Well, the manuscript is now finished! Is it longer than a short story? Yes! And is it Chick Lit? Y–er, um, kinda sorta. The book has actually turned out to be more of a romantic comedy. A Rom-Com read, if you will. I wanted to put out something fun for readers this summer before I get back into heavier stuff, probably another epic fiction book.

Anywho, folks, stay tuned for the release of my novelette this month! Do the boots give you any idea what the title or theme might be, hmm? ;-)

Boots 1.5

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

The Butterfly and the ViolinThe Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“War is going to change things, isn’t it?”

“Yes. It will.”

“Then I hope it changes me.”

Before reading The Butterfly and the Violin, I knew it had the potential to be a true masterpiece, and I believe it does become one. By the end of the Vienna Philharmonic concert in which Adele Von Bron was meant to honor the leader of the Third Reich with her musical gift, the imagery hooked me. There were minutes when Adele seemed a bit weak to me, in a timid or wispy kind of way, but then, she wouldn’t have ended up in Auschwitz if she was a weakling. I was moved to tears during the climactic moment in which Adele’s strength is fully realized, a scene overflowing with love and purpose, exquisite pain, exquisite beauty. Moments like that don’t come in all literature, those flashes of something infinite, unfathomable, and eternal, and as Adele soars, one can’t help but to soar with her.

“The artist can’t be killed, Adele. The men and women whose hearts have cried in this place–they couldn’t stay away.”

There were some minor hitches in the novel’s style, such as the places in the present day account of Sera James that didn’t quite have the snap they might have, and Adele’s back-to-back breakdowns against her friend Omara that could have had more power if only one breakdown had been used instead of two. Yet, the ultimate profundity and triumph of the story more than make up for the minor details, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an appreciation for the human heart, the human story, and enduring hope.

The God-worship of every life–this was the art of Auschwitz.

Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Captured by LoveCaptured by Love by Jody Hedlund

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

What I liked most about Captured by Love is the way it shows how life situations can’t all be painted over, black and white, with one brush of neat and tidy solutions. Times of war and matters of the heart do try us, as they try Angelique and Pierre, who have to decide what they’re truly committed to in the midst of complex circumstances. I was intrigued as I read, eager to find out how they would handle the complexity of it all to come to resolution.

The clever banter and the ease Angelique and Pierre have with each other as people are the most compelling aspects of their relationship, in my view, and their history with each other makes the progression of their relationship believable. Now, when Angelique inwardly questions if “their passion and love [can] survive” all they’ll have to face, it’s appropriate that “passion and love” would come in that order in her reflection, since Angelique and Pierre seem to give passion precedence over love. While their feelings are understandable and their interaction is interesting, I could never get quite comfortable with their romance, due to the question of honor and honesty on both their parts. Angelique herself says that “love without honor is worthless,” and I found myself wondering if these two would have enough honor and integrity to build anything lasting on, as passion could turn out to be insufficient.

There is a sense of danger throughout the novel and even a front seat for the reader at a vital point in the war, when the conflict reaches the grounds of Michilimackinac Island. Overall, it’s a satisfying read.

How’re You Readin’?

How You Readin'Back in college, one of my professors shared that she enjoyed spending time walking and reading. In my head, I took it like, “Oh, she enjoys walking, and she enjoys reading,” until I saw her outside after classes one day, hoofing it down the street at a pace that must have been doing wonders for her heart rate, holding a book, reading away. I was amazed to realize she’d meant she enjoyed reading while she was walking.

I’d never seen anyone read that way before, and kudos to her for having that level of skill and concentration. I couldn’t imagine myself doing that without tripping over uneven pavement or running into a tree. When I hear other readers talk about how they like to read best, most of them have “curl up” answers, whether they like curling up on the couch, in bed, or in a particular chair with a good book.

I myself have a lifelong preference for the classic curl up. However, being a writer and editor, I already spend a lot of my time sitting down. Knowing that a sedentary lifestyle isn’t the best type for one’s health, I’ve adopted the practice of standing up while reading sometimes. I don’t yet have the skill level to take off at a full speed clip while I’m reading, but I do pace or stay in some kind of moderate motion while I’m on my feet with a book.

At first I thought I’d find it uncomfortable to spend my pleasure reading time that way, but I’ve found that once I’m engrossed in a book, I’m not even thinking about the fact that I’m moving around.

I’m currently reading Les Misérables in stages in between all of the other reading I do. (An unabridged version, naturally, though I realize that if I stay at my current pace, it’ll take me half of forever to finish it. But, since I’ve seen the film–LOVE IT!–I’m not constantly left in suspense about what’s going to happen, at least, and I know the book will go on my list of all-time favorites after I finish.) I’ve found Les Mis not only to be a great one for standing up with but also for another reading practice of mine: reading aloud. It’s a nice discipline, improves my enunciation, gets more of my senses and personal love for drama involved with the reading experience. I’d bet it’s also been a benefit to my public speaking skills.

How about you? What are some of your reading preferences and practices?