Tag Archives: reading

How I got into Writing book reviews

Tuesday is one of my usual days to post a book review. Obviously, I didn’t manage to do that this week, for which I apologize. I’m not sure I will even get one ready for Thursday, but I am still reading as much as I can.

There have been a few personal things come up to alter my course a bit. On Friday I had a scheduled few hours’ hospital stay, Saturday I was still getting my energy back from that, Sunday was my dad’s 89th birthday and also Father’s Day – so we had a family gathering at his house. Among our group there are five fathers. It was a great barbecue day and we had lots of delicious food to enjoy. Sunday was also my first day back at my dad’s for my week, which this time will be three to give my sister a needed break. Then Monday was my grandson’s ninth birthday! (Time is passing quickly!) Today, Tuesday, I took my little Meyya to the groomers and while she was there I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with a friend. So you see, I have been busy in various ways. But that doesn’t stop the books from coming to me; yesterday another arrived in my mail and I’m trying to remember where I won it or chose it! (I really must keep better track.)

In lieu of a book review I want to talk a little about writing them. Writing reviews isn’t something I planned to be doing; it simply evolved. In 2010 I was excited to win a book in a writers chat room and mentioned a little about it here. Later, through what was then called BookSneeze – now BookLook Bloggers – I won a Max Lucado book in exchange for a review. Early in 2011 I reread author Laura Best’s first novel and reviewed it here in support of her work. That year, after Laura’s book, I reviewed fifteen others because I enjoyed it. I had become a book reviewer! Occasionally I receive requests for reviews, but I now have such a backlog of novels to read first that I don’t/can’t always accept. I am trying to get caught up, which is not as simple as it may sound.

When writing reviews, sometimes it isn’t easy to put into words what impressions I feel from the story I was immersed in. I try always to be fair no matter if the content appealed to me or not. What trips me up is that I tend to notice errors in spelling, punctuation, details. I say it ‘trips me up’ because they seem to stand right out as if screaming ‘Here I am! Notice me!’ and pull me right out of the story.

I really don’t want to write bad reviews because of that, or at all, because the errors are not the story, but they do affect an observant reader. Instead I try to be honest about my findings without trashing a book.

Even after a writer’s hard work there may be much yet to be done. Sometimes the typos and conflicts are glaringly noticeable and very distracting to the reader. In my next post I will be presumptuous and present a few tips – or maybe more like observations – for authors, especially those who are self-publishing or are trying to cut corners.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

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When we need Encouragement

I don’t know about you but I get weary. When I get weary the negativity creeps in, which should not be the case. Nothing has changed except my energy level and attitude. The situation has not changed, God has not changed, and my attitude changes nothing … at least not in a good way.

Negative begets negative. 

When I get home from my week at my dad’s I just can’t face doing an effective job of my own housework. (Sad admission there.) But … this past week I was blessed to receive help from my youngest daughter who has time off work. She spent a few hours each day helping me clean my house, because it had become overwhelming for me. We went room by room, even decluttering a few things, and still have much to do. I knew it had become a weight on me, but after just the first room was done … I felt lighter! Really! I am excited to see how good it feels being in my house once it is all done. Most of my houseplants even got repotted and freshened up, but what do I do with the plants I no longer want?

Encouragement.

There are a few quotes I like that are encouraging with regard to what I said above.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris   (That one helps with decluttering.)

“The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.” – Yutang Lin  (It seems this is basically saying to live within one’s means, and don’t accumulate things just for the sake of having them. As Paul of the Bible says: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11 (KJV)  This is something I am still working on.)

“The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.” – Samuel Butler  (We really do take ourselves too seriously. I need to allow myself to laugh more and relax about things. When feeling it all is too much, be honest and admit it’s never as bad as it seems, so just wait a little longer; it will get better. These words, “Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle,” have helped me more than once. )

And if all else fails, lose yourself in a good book (or THE Good Book, The Bible) for awhile. Your life will still be there when you get back, but dealing with it just may be easier.

Yesterday I finished reading another novel which I will be reviewing soon. I hope you enjoy reading reviews. Eventually, my list will have dwindled down so that I might be able to get back into my own writing.

Also, I hope you sometimes check the menu at the top of the page. When I add things I don’t always make mention, so look particularly under Book reviews, Books I read this year, quotes for writers, writers’ helps

Today was a gorgeous day – hot, sunny, with a bit of a breeze. The blackflies loved me. (Tiny pesky little flies with big teeth, I think!) The good thing – it’s Spring! and … I must be sweet; I have lots of bite marks to prove it.   :/

Here is a clip of one of the best Spring sounds – peepers! You know, those tiny frogs that are a sign of Spring. I love to listen to them at home, their delightful peeping relaxes my soul. Interesting facts: The peepers that sing are the males enticing females; peepers live three years in the wild and grow to only 2.5 cm (1 inch).

Now I must stop scratching those bites I mentioned and start writing a review. Blessings to you and have a great week!

What have you found to be of encouragement to you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

Book Review: Shadows in the Stone: Book 1, The Castle Keepers – by Diane Lynn McGyver

01dlmcgyver-shadows-in-the-stone-smallBook: Shadows in the Stone: Book 1, The Castle Keepers
Author: Diane Lynn McGyver
Publisher: Quarter Castle Publishing
Date: September 2012
Genre: fantasy
Pages: 368
Price: on Amazon – paper, $15.91 CDN; for Kindle $5.31
My rating: A memorable fantasy world with characters that will stay on your mind.
 

I had the privilege of reading this book, Shadows in the Stone, before its release. It had to brew in my brain awhile, as some stories do, so it has taken me a long time to write my review, for which I apologize to the author – but here it is! 

Fantasy is one of my favourite genres to read. This story took me to a different place and even yet some things have stayed with me. Diane Lynn McGyver created a whole new world, with characters the reader quickly cares about, and suspense, drama and mystery to keep the pages turning.

Having said that, I would not recommend Shadows in the Stone to young readers as some battle scenes may be disturbing, and there are very descriptive scenes of relationship intensity and some violent scenes.

The main character, Corporal Bronwyn Darrow, made up his mind to never love again after being deeply hurt by a woman he trusted. That is, until he meets the enchantress Alaura of Niamh. Bronwyn tries to keep his focus on his duty as he wants to move up in the ranks of the castle guard but he is very distracted by this troubled mysterious woman. She needs his help, though, and he cannot resist the challenge, being an honourable man. 

What nagged at me the most may not even be an issue for another reader. Bronwyn constantly runs through his emotions and thoughts regarding Alaura,  for whom he soon cares deeply. There were places I felt should be left to the reader to ‘get’ the first or second time and know from there without the constant repetition. Even so, the author built characters of dimension and heart.

There are warriors, royalty, peasants, villains, secrets, betrayal, danger, heroism, love, passion, suspense, exciting moments that are magical, and more, all leading to a satisfaction for the reader in the way events unfold. The author describes scenes and situations very well, weaving pictures in the reader’s mind. Where the author ended this story leaves the reader waiting for more. There are several unanswered questions relating to Alaura, the castle, the child Alaura cares for, and more mysteries. Fortunately, this is the first in a series, so we have more books to watch for in which we can anticipate those answers.

All in all, this is a good read fantasy lovers will find captivating and fascinating.

Come back for my interview with Diane Lynn McGyver, the Canadian author of Shadows in the Stone, here on January 30’14. She has two copies of her book to give away to visitors who leave a comment after the interview! Don’t miss out!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 
 

‘Read More Books’ challenge: Week 10: 468-519 of the list of 623 of the best books ever!

Are you ready for week ten of our Read More Books challenge? 

 

Read HERE to learn about it. It’s never too late to join in.

 

Check the ones you may have missed or want to review:

 

WEEK ONE   WEEK TWO   WEEK THREE   WEEK FOUR  WEEK FIVE    WEEK SIX  WEEK SEVEN   WEEK EIGHT   WEEK NINE

 

How did you do with your reading? Even if you didn’t finish the book you selected, it counts if you select one for this week to add to your TBR pile.

468. A Room of One’s Own — by Virginia Woolf
469. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — by John le Carré
470. Berlin Alexanderplatz — by Alfred Döblin
471. Cold Sassy Tree — by Olive Ann Burns
472. Look Homeward, Angel — by Thomas Wolfe
473. The Martian Chronicles — by Ray Bradbury
474. Skinny Legs and All — by Tom Robbins
475. Oliver Twist — by Charles Dickens
476.It — by Stephen King
477.A High Wind in Jamaica — by Richard Hughes
478. Cities of Salt  — by Abdelrahman Munif
479. You Shall Know Our Velocity — by Dave Eggers
480. Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein — by Marguerite Duras
481. The Death of Artemio Cruz — by Carlos Fuentes
482. The Power and the Glory — by Graham Greene
483. War and Remembrance — by Herman Wouk
484. Baudolino — by Umberto Eco
485. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant — by Anne Tyler
486. The age of wire and string — by Ben Marcus
487. The Sorrows of Young Werther — by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
488. Where the Wild Things Are — by Maurice Sendak
489. Night Watch — by Terry Pratchett
490. Tropismes — by Nathalie Sarraute
491. Tlooth — by Harry Mathews
492. The Godfather — by Mario Puzo
493. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me — by Richard Fariña
494. Pricksongs & descants — by Robert Coover
495. Waiting for the Mahatma — by R. K. Narayan
496. The Journal of Jules Renard — by Jules Renard
497. Notes from a small island — by Bill Bryson
498. Centennial — by James A. Michener
499. the man in the high castle — by Philip K. Dick
500. The Last Chronicle of Barset — by Anthony Trollope
501. Night — by Elie Wiesel
502. The Pickwick Papers — by Charles Dickens
503. Écrits — by Jacques Lacan
504. Silent Spring — by Rachel Carson
505. Jayber Crow — by Wendell Berry
506. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont — by Elizabeth Taylor
507. The road from Coorain — by Jill Ker Conway
508. The Theater and Its Double — by Antonin Artaud
509. The Three Musketeers — by Alexandre Dumas
510. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas — by Gertrude Stein
511. Little, Big — by John Crowley
512. Manhattan Transfer — by John Dos Passos
513. A Brief History of Time — by Stephen Hawking
514. Candide — by Voltaire
515. The Sheltering Sky — by Paul Bowles
516. Popol Vuh — by Anonymous
517. Time and Again — by Jack Finney
518. Moravagine — by Blaise Cendrars
519. The Left Hand of Darkness — by Ursula K. Le Guin
 
I love to hear from you!  From the above list:

 

  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not officially taking the Read More Books challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

 

Note: I got permission to share this list on my blog. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

‘Read More Books’ challenge: Week 9: 416-467 of the list of 623 of the best books ever!

Are you ready for week nine of our Read More Books challenge? 

Read HERE to learn about it. It’s never too late to join in.

Check the ones you may have missed or want to review:

WEEK ONE   WEEK TWO   WEEK THREE   WEEK FOUR  WEEK FIVE    WEEK SIX  WEEK SEVEN   WEEK EIGHT

How did you do with your reading? Even if you didn’t finish the book you selected, it counts if you select one for this week to add to your TBR pile.

416. Petersburg — by Andrei Bely
417. City of Glass — by Paul Auster
418. Watchmen — by Alan Moore
419. The Satanic Verses — by Salman Rushdie
420. Libra — by Don DeLillo
421. Friday, or, The Other Island — by Michel Tournier
422. The Shadow of the Wind — by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
423. Parade’s End — by Ford Madox Ford
424. The Pursuit of Love — by Nancy Mitford
425. Always Coming Home — by Ursula K. Le Guin
426. The Princesse de Cleves — by Madame de La Fayette
427. Naked Lunch — by William S. Burroughs
428. Black Beauty — by Anna Sewell
429. The Savage Detectives — by Roberto Bolaño
430. London Fields — by Martin Amis
431. Infinite Jest — by David Foster Wallace
432. Artemis Fowl — by Eoin Colfer
433. Les Vrilles de La Vigne — by Colette
434. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time — by Mark Haddon
435. Zuleika Dobson — by Max Beerbohm
436. Testament of Youth — by Vera Brittain
437. Capital of Pain — by Paul Eluard
438. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn — by Betty Smith
439. Half of a Yellow Sun — by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
440. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories — by Flannery O’Connor
441. Martin Eden — by Jack London
442. Red Harvest — by Dashiell Hammett
443. Noughts & Crosses — by Malorie Blackman
444. The Leopard — by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
445. The Alexandria Quartet — by Lawrence Durrell
446. The Ballad of the Salt Sea — by Hugo Pratt
447. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love — by Raymond Carver
448. Haroun and the Sea of Stories — by Salman Rushdie
449. Writing Degree Zero — by Roland Barthes
450. Cane — by Jean Toomer
451. The Lovely Bones — by Alice Sebold
452. Tales of the City — by Armistead Maupin
453. The Joy Luck Club — by Amy Tan
454. Mort — by Terry Pratchett
455. The Opposing Shore — by Julien Gracq
456. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences — by Michel Foucault
457. Riddley Walker — by Russell Hoban
458. Of Human Bondage — by W. Somerset Maugham
459. Go in beauty — by William Eastlake
460. A Separate Peace — by John Knowles
461. The Quiet American — by Graham Greene
462. Dracula — by Bram Stoker
463. The Franchiser — by Stanley Elkin
464. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance — by Robert M. Pirsig
465. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute — by Grace Paley
466. Guards! Guards! — by Terry Pratchett
467. Ellen Foster — by Kaye Gibbons
 
I love to hear from you!  From the above list:
  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not officially taking the Read More Books challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

Note: I got permission to share this list on my blog. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

‘Read More Books’ challenge: Week 8: 364-415 of the list of 623 of the best books ever!

Are you ready for week eight of our Read More Books challenge? 

 

Read HERE to learn about it. It’s never too late to join in.

 

Check the ones you may have missed or want to review:

 

WEEK ONE   WEEK TWO   WEEK THREE   WEEK FOUR   WEEK FIVE    WEEK SIX  WEEK SEVEN

 

How did you do with your reading? Even if you didn’t finish the book you selected, it counts if you select one for this week to add to your TBR pile.

364. Father and Sons — by Ivan Turgenev
365. A Wild Sheep Chase — by Haruki Murakami
366. Point Counter Point — by Aldous Huxley
367. Babbitt — by Sinclair Lewis
368. The Souls of Black Folk — by W. E. B. Du Bois
369. The Thirty-Nine Steps — by John Buchan
370. The Jungle — by Upton Sinclair
371. Under Satan’s Sun — by Georges Bernanos
372. The Voyeur — by Alain Robbe-Grillet
373. The Secret Agent — by Joseph Conrad
374. All Quiet on the Western Front — by Erich Maria Remarque
375. Double or Nothing — by Rayond Federman
376.  The Bonfire of the Vanities — by Tom Wolfe
377. The Phantom Tollbooth — by Norton Juster
378. Amers/Oiseaux/Poesie — by Saint-John Perse
379. The House of the Spirits — by Isabel Allende
380. Paradise Lost — by John Milton
381. The Joke — by Milan Kundera
382. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — by L. Frank Baum
383. At Swim-Two-Birds — by Flann O’Brien
384. Contempt — by Alberto Moravia
385. Dealing with Dragons — by Patricia C. Wrede
386. Blood Meridian — by Cormac McCarthy
387. The Home and the World — by Rabindranath Tagore
388. 2001: A Space Odyssey — by Arthur C. Clarke
389. American Pastoral — by Philip Roth
390. The Cannibal — by John Hawkes
391.Matilda — by Roald Dahl
392.The Thornbirds — Colleen McCullough
 393. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd — Agatha Christie
394.Good Night, Mr. Tom — Michelle Magorian
395. Nadja — André Breton
396.King Lear — William Shakespeare
 397. The Magnificent Ambersons — Booth Tarkington
398.Othello — William Shakespeare
399. Aurélien — Louis Aragon 
400.Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Haruki Murakami
401.The Color of Water – James McBride
402.Soulier De Satin – Paul Claudel
403. Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
404. The Sonnets – William Shakespeare
405.American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
406. The Bean Trees – Barbara Kingsolver
407. Nightwood –by Djuna Barnes
408. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction — by J. D. Salinger
409. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
410. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
411. Kane and Abel – Jeffrey Archer
412. Franny and Zooey – J. D. Salinger
413. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui –by Bertolt Brecht
414. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
415.The Faraway Tree Stories – Enid Blyton
 
I love to hear from you!  From the above list:
  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not officially taking the Read More Books challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

Note: I got permission to share this list on my blog. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

‘Read More Books’ challenge: Week 7: 312-363 of the list of 623 of the best books ever!

Are you ready for week seven of our Read More Books challenge? 

Read HERE to learn about it. It’s never too late to join in.

Check the ones you may have missed or want to review:

WEEK ONE   WEEK TWO   WEEK THREE   WEEK FOUR   WEEK FIVE    WEEK SIX

How did you do with your reading? Even if you didn’t finish the book you selected, it counts if you select one for this week to add to your TBR pile.

312. Confessions — by Saint Augustine
313. The Golden Bowl — by Henry James
314. Belle Du Seigneur — by Albert Cohen
315. A Town Like Alice — by Nevil Shute
316. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch — by Neil Gaiman
317. Three Men in a Boat — by Jerome K. Jerome
318. Leviathan — by Thomas Hobbes
319. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists — by Robert Tressell
320. Bastard Out of Carolina — by Dorothy Allison
321. Hamlet — by William Shakespeare
322. Sister Carrie — by Theodore Dreiser
323. Death Comes for the Archbishop — by Willa Cather
324. The Sea, the Sea — by Iris Murdoch
325. The French Lieutenant’s Woman — by John Fowles
326. The Pillars of The Earth — by Ken Follett
327. Dhalgren — by Samuel R. Delany
328. Swallows and Amazons — by Arthur Ransome
329. History of the Peloponnesian War — by Thucydides
330. The Picture of Dorian Gray — by Oscar Wilde
331. A handful of dust — by Evelyn Waugh
332. The Diary of a Nobody — by George Grossmith
333. The Stain — by Rikki Ducornet
334. Snow Country — by Yasunari Kawabata
335. The Bone People — by Keri Hulme
336. The God of Small Things — by Arundhati Roy
337. Zazie dans le Métro — by Raymond Queneau
338. Lord Jim — by Joseph Conrad
339. Neuromancer — by William Gibson
340. Treasure Island — by Robert Louis Stevenson
341. Ragtime — by E. L. Doctorow
342. The Kite Runner — by Khaled Hosseini
343. Confusion: The Private Papers of Privy Councillor R. von D. — by Stefan Zweig
344. A Wizard of Earthsea — by Ursula K. Le Guin
345. The Warden — by Anthony Trollope
346. The Riddle of the Sands — by Erskine Childers
347. Gormenghast — by Mervyn Peake
348. The Secret History — by Donna Tartt
349. Lookout Cartridge — by Joseph McElroy
350. The Shell Seekers — by Rosamunde Pilcher
351. The BFG — by Roald Dahl
352. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich — by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
353. The Heart of the Matter — by Graham Greene
354. Call it Sleep — by Henry Roth
355. Bonjour Tristesse — by Françoise Sagan
356. Sophie’s World — by Jostein Gaarder
357. The Da Vinci Code — by Dan Brown
358. The Sot-Weed Factor — by John Barth
359. Le Silence de La Mer — by Vercors
360. Bridget Jones’s Diary — by Helen Fielding
361. Deliverance — by James Dickey
362. Genoa — by Paul Metcalf
363. Snow Falling on Cedars — by David Guterson
 
 
I love to hear from you!  From the above list:
  • Which books have you read?
  • Which books do you want to read?
  • Which books are you going to obtain this week?(Even if you are not officially taking the Read More Books challenge I would love to hear about your reading.)

Note: I got permission to share this list on my blog. (Thank you, Stuart!) You could go HERE for the list of “623 of the best books ever written” and see them all at once for yourself, and/or you can follow the list here a few at a time.

There will not be a book list next week because on November 28 we get to read the next installment of Sue Harrison’s writers workshop. This gives us an extra week for reading until week 8′s book reading challenge on December 5.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)