Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Giveaway: World of the Innocent

Love. Enduring belief. And the meaning of innocence–based on a true story.
World of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

“Just WOW. This book totally blew me away. It’s in my top five of ‘the most romantic books I’ve ever read.’” ~Valerie’s Musings

Find the giveaway for this book in the Faith, Hope, and Book Love group on Facebook.
Giveaway ends March 2, 2018.


Arts and Entertainment, Books

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis

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.

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis

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

This history is humbling—showing how hard it is to do the right thing and exposing the many barriers to unseating the status quo. It reveals that the perpetration of injustice is not always about hatred but often about indifference, fear, and personal comfort.

My goodness. A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis. I’ll admit it’s hard for me to review a book like this because I wish I could write down each strong, thought-provoking, or challenging point the author makes.

This narrative speaks on the tendency for many Americans to relegate the civil rights movement to something that’s (safely) behind us. It speaks on the tendency for people to applaud figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks while separating them from the totality of their messages, from their anger, from the fact that they were controversial and that the civil rights movement was disruptive and unpopular to most Americans at the time. If we now reduce Rosa Parks to a sweet, quiet lady who sat meekly on a bus one day, and we strip her of her years of politics and activism and most of what she actually said, we can comfortably celebrate her without being challenged by her anymore.

This book puts clear language to ideas I’ve been chewing on, including how racism isn’t merely about people’s feelings, that as long as enough individuals don’t feel or express personal malice toward people of color, then social injustice in America is no longer a real or serious problem.

My one issue with the reading was that it often seemed redundant, repeating the same information or quotes in places or using different words to make the same points over again. I also wasn’t able to comb through all of it (time constraints with a borrowed copy), but this is the kind of book I’d have no problem revisiting.

America has much more work to do for civil rights, and it’ll take having an accurate view of our history.



Vivir el Dream by Allison K. Garcia

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.

Vivir el Dream by Allison K. Garcia

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

To escape their dangerous life in Mexico, Juanita crossed the United States border with her daughter, Linda, back when Linda was only three years old. Now as a stellar student in college, Linda wonders what hope she’ll have for a future in America as an undocumented immigrant in Vivir el Dream, a novel by author Allison K. Garcia.

This novel brings up thought-provoking points, including moral dilemmas of truth and safety that undocumented immigrants face in the U.S. There’s also the issue that immigrants of color are often singled out while white immigrants from places like Eastern Europe, equally undocumented, are left out of the conversation–concerns and complaints.

The story includes an abundant amount of Spanish terms and dialogue and corresponding footnotes with English translations. I can appreciate the authenticity this brings to the story, and I’m not unaccustomed to books that require some language translation. But the frequency of footnoted words, phrases, and sentences was personally distracting for me here. Though it may not be as much of an issue while I’m reading nonfiction, frequent footnotes tend to hinder the flow of fiction reading for me. Even so, my familiarity with Spanish helped me not to feel too lost as I read.

There was a time or two when the story almost felt “keyword conscious” about the issues raised, maybe not as natural, but the humanness of the main characters would make up for it.

Although I only finished about half of this novel, I picked it up believing it to be an important and timely book, and I still believe so.


Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Some Genre Details, If You Please

When an author writes in multiple genres, or writes cross-genre books, some clarification can be in order now and then. So I’ll explain a bit about a few of the genres I write.

Historical Fantasy

Historical fiction is one of my all-time favorite genres, so it makes sense that I’d want to write books with a historical feel. Because the historical stories I write are fictional history in completely fictional worlds, they aren’t solely historical fiction. They’re historical fantasy fiction.

Yes, “fantasy” does have certain connotations. There’s usually an expectation of magic, mythical creatures, and the like, but my stories don’t have those fantastical elements. Their “fantasy” label simply signifies that the history, geography, characters, languages, etc. in the books are all imagined, not factual. (Of course, in my role as the English-speaking translator for my characters, I do translate most of their dialogue into English. 😉 )

These stories will likely appeal to you if you’re a historical fiction fan who can enjoy a story with history that’s purely from an author’s imagination. If you’re a fantasy fiction fan who enjoys fictional worlds and some world building, my historical fantasy fiction may appeal to you as well.

Coming of Age

A character’s age alone does not determine the genre or age-appropriateness of a book.* For instance, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is told from the perspective of a little girl, but that doesn’t mean it’s a children’s book.

Although, thus far, the main characters in my books have tended to be, say, in their thirties or younger, I didn’t write the books specifically or only for readers of corresponding ages. On a related note, where the whole kit and caboodle of my books are concerned, you’ll find a range of ages in the stories, from characters in their childhood years to characters in their twilight years.

When I label one of my books as “coming of age,” it signifies that the main characters are young but that they’ll reach a major turning or maturing point in life, or that the stories follow the characters from childhood or their teenage years to adulthood. This includes my coming of age romances. After all, adulthood isn’t where life begins, and for a lot of people, adulthood isn’t where love begins, either.

You don’t have to be a young adult or a twenty- or thirty-something reader to enjoy my coming of age stories—or any of my stories, for that matter. You just have to be interested in human beings and what humans experience, no matter their ages.

Romances vs. Love Stories

Even though a book may have a romantic storyline, or a romance within the storyline, it doesn’t necessarily make the book a romance, genre wise. In a romance book, romance must be the central aspect of the plot. Also, the plot in a romance book follows a specified progression (formula), and that includes a “Happily Ever After” ending where the romantic couple ends up together.

A love story, on the other hand, may be just as romantic, but it doesn’t necessarily follow the romance genre formula. For instance, if the romantic aspect of a plot doesn’t show up until fairly late in a book because the hero and heroine don’t meet each other until then, it’s not a romance. It’s a love story. If at the end of a book, the romantic hero and heroine are going their separate ways for a time, and the status of their relationship is left open-ended, it’s not a romance. It’s a love story.

When I label one of my books as a “love story,” it signifies that romantic love is a significant theme in the book, but the book isn’t of the romance genre. If you’re like me and believe that romantic love is a vital and universal part of life, and you enjoy seeing that kind of love portrayed in fiction, then my romances and love stories may appeal to you.

I hope that all makes sense!


*Note: as for the content, I’d say my books fall within the “PG” to “PG-13ish” range. No profanity or explicit sex. When there’s violence, it isn’t gratuitous, and any substance use is mild or brief. I don’t set out to write squeaky-clean or unrealistically sanitized fiction, since real life can get messy, but I don’t include “mess” for the sake of it, either.