Some Books Just aren’t for Me

These are some really difficult times we are all going through.  The past couple of weeks, as I’ve been “forced” to stay home with little more to do than think, read, binge documentaries and other mindless shows, I’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with the fact that some books just aren’t meant for me.  It’s not necessarily the book that’s bad or the story is bad.  It’s just that the book does not resonate with me.

For the past four years I’ve made it a mission to read Anna Kerinina.  I’ve even downloaded the movie thinking that if I watched the movie I would feel inspired to read the book.  For four years I’ve beaten myself up because I still haven’t been able to accomplish that goal.  There is always another book, another something to do.  I can’t focus, I need water.  There is a blockage, I thought.  Why can’t I read this “stupid” book?

This week I came to terms with it.  It’s not the book and it’s not me.  We just aren’t meant to cross paths at this time.  I’m not going to force myself to read something that I’m not interested in reading.  Reading should not be painful and I always felt stressed when I sat down to read that book.  I don’t know why and perhaps I will never know why but does it matter?  Perhaps one day, without forcing it, I will pick it up again and read it and love it.  Right now I’m pretty certain that if I sit down and force myself to read it or listen to it, I’m going to resent it.  That will not be fair to the author or the book or the words written on the page.  A book should bring you pleasure and allow you to dream and envision yourself in the story.  Right now I would be reading it just to say I’ve read it and that’s no reason to read a book.

Anyway, I hope every one is doing well and staying healthy and enjoying time with a special book.  What is your special book?

Thanks for stopping by

Ana

Book Review – A Witch in Time by: Constance Sayers

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A week ago I was walking through Barnes & Noble not searching for anything in particular.  In fact I had decided, before walking into the store that I was not going to pick up any books.  I have a few on my Kindle that I’ve started and not finished yet.  Not because I’m not enjoying them but …. shiny object syndrome.

Anyway, true to self I wound up walking out with a new book (after paying for it, of course).  A Witch inTime by Constance Sayers.  I knew nothing about the author and I knew nothing about the book.  In fact, I hadn’t even seen anyone talking about it or seen it on any of the review publications I read.  Regardless, I picked it up from the new arrival shelves and read the inside cover.

Helen Lambert has lived several lives….

How could I not bring this baby home?  The book took me by surprise.  From the first page… Actually, from the blurb I was so completely taken in with it.

The story follows the lives of three women who are actually one woman.  Helen Lambert’s marriage to a famous art dealer is falling apart and her friend set her up on a blind date with a strange man who winds up revealing to her that he had been protecting her for centuries and that, in fact, she had been the one who had summoned him to that blind date.  At first she thinks he’s a crazy guy and doesn’t want anything to do with him but shortly after the date she begins having very vivid dreams about all her past lives.

Helen, a witch, is a woman caught in a course badly performed which winds up throwing her and her protectant into a loop where every 35 years, around the time of her birthday, she calls for him to help her and he comes.  They begin a relationship where they both fall in love with each other and he saves her from whatever bad romance/marriage she finds herself in.  This time, during her Helen incarnation, it appears that her powers are such that she is finally going to be able to break the curse.  However, in order to do that she must kill her protectant.  Knowing how she feels about him, will she be able to do it?

This is Constance’s debut novel.  I think the writing was great.  The description was just enough to make me feel like I was included in the story.  The characters were three dimensional and we could see Helen’s growth throughout the story.

If I had one complaint about this book would be that the third incarnation felt too unreal and maybe even rushed.  I could not understand all the people involved in it and was not sure what their real role in the story was.

I am so glad I picked up this book and I cannot wait to see more by this author.

My first five star read of 2020.

Book Review: The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

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The Book is a tale of friendship, family, honor and respect for the old ways.  It’s also a battle of good and evil.  I received the book as an ARC from NetGalley after requesting it.

The story follows a family descendent of the Bishop Family of witches from the Salem Witch Trials.  Although the story is fiction it is based on facts. The family line had been broken in two.  One line of the family practiced the old ways as herb medicine women who harness their power for the good and the other line of the family practices their craft for themselves and although able to do go they choose to use the dark side for lack of a better word.  Annis must learn her craft in order to save herself.

I found the book to be a bit slow to start and I will admit that at points I was very tempted to put it down.  It picked up at some point around the midpoint of the book and I found myself not being able to put it down at that point.  I took me almost a month to get to the midpoint of the book and then I read the the rest of the book in one day.

The book was well researched.   Louisa Morgan gives enough detail to make the craft sound believable and achievable with bits of “that’s not possible” mixed in.  Although with a magical book I expect to need to suspend my beliefs for a moment at times.  I appreciate that some of the spells seemed to have been very well researched and the incantations that were spoken seemed very real as well as the explanation as to why witches speak their spells and why very often the spells rhyme.

Words have strength and spoken words have the greatest weight

I thought the main characters seemed had depth.  I was able to feel sympathy for the Villan (Frances) even though at the same time I was hating her for being so calculating and selfish.  I really enjoyed reading about Harriet and even the Strega from the old herb store was believable and I really liked her.  I wished that she had had a bigger part in the story.  Perhaps another book???? (hint)

What I thought was lacking:

I did not like the way Morgan wrote the two ladies’ maids.  I found them to have no depth and no interest.  I thought that more could have been said about them.  Even Harriet’s house keeper was a bit just thrown in there.  She could have had a bigger part.

I hated reading about the trip to the asylum.  Maybe that could have been dealt with differently.  I was not expecting that much horror.

I found the ending to be a bit abrupt as if something was missing and there was no little bow tying the whole thing up together.

James, the love interest was soft and blah.  He had no mind of his own and it felt like he was in the book only to be a poppet in the hands of the women.  I did not like the way he was written and I can’t imagine Annis marrying him.  She is a strong woman and I get the feeling that she would walk all over him.

Putting it all together:

I enjoyed the book.  It was entertaining to read and it was researched well.  Some areas of the craft were still a bit off but they were very minor.  I rated the book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Audio Book – The Deal of a Lifetime by Frederick Backman

The Witch Chronicles is not doing it for me.  It’s actually set me back on my reading the past month.  It’s not that the book is bad, it’s actually interesting in its own way.  I actually think the problem is me.  I’m starting to think that series are not for me.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps it’s the fact that switching books makes me lose my momentum and by the time I pick up the next book I’m not interested anymore.  The story lost it’s interest.  I’m going to venture and say that the reason for this is that I’m a huge mood reader and also a mood writer…. more on that at a different time.

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So, I put down the Witch Chronicles and picked up two different books.  Here, in this blog I want to tell you about what I picked up as an audio book and why.

My weekends, for now, until I am no longer working, are reserved for cleaning.  Normally I put on a podcast and walk around the house picking up stuff, vacuuming and cleaning.  Sometimes I am so focused on what the podcast is talking about that I don’t even realize how long I’ve been cleaning which is a good thing.  Other times, like yesterday, there was nothing new in my podcast library to listen to so I decided to download a novella (I never read a novella) that I heard being discussed in one of the YouTube videos I was watching (sorry, don’t remember which channel).  The book is The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Bachman.  I’ve never heard about this author or this book and honestly I didn’t even do any research on it.  I just knew that I needed to get something on phone to listen to while cleaning otherwise no cleaning would get accomplished.

I am not very far into the book (I didn’t do much cleaning) but I think I’m going to love the book.  So far it does not feel like a happy story.  It starts out as a man sitting on a couch while is wife and his son are sleeping.  While he sits there watching them he begins talking to his son about a little girl in the hospital with cancer.  Doesn’t seem very interesting but I was hooked from the very first paragraph.  Especially when the father says:  “I took a life….” WHAT?????? what does that mean? my brain could not understand this unexpected turn of events.  I don’t know what is going to happen.  I can tell you that not far into the novella I really like the little girl and even the man.

I have since looked into who the author is.  To my surprise Fredrik Backman is the author of A Man Called Ove, which I haven’t read because one of my friends told me she hated the book.  Depending on how I like this novella Frederik Backman may be the next author I explore.

Stay tuned for the next installment when I will review this short novella.

Ana

Book Review – The Black Witch Chronicles

The Black Witch – Book #1

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I debated on waiting to review this book until I was done with book #2 and review the series together.  I finished the book yesterday and immediately got the second book and started reading it.  I decided that I probably should review the first book now and the second when I finish the second so we can all have my ideas as I formulate them.

There are some things about this book which I very much enjoyed and there are some things about this book that I didn’t particularly care for.  I think Laurie Forest’s creates a very interesting world and develops it in front of the reader in a way that is not too full of description nor missing any of the necessary information.

The story follows Elloren, the granddaughter of the most powerful black witch in the land.  Elloren looks exactly like her grandmother with one small detail missing.  She has no magic.  Elloren’s parents died in battle when she was young and she and her brothers were raised by her uncle who as an eccentric raised them to be removed from magic.  Elloren never owned a wand and she’s learned to build violins which is something women in her tradition/culture as not allowed to do.

At the start of the story we Elloren’s aunt, a very powerful and wealthy Guardnerian who wants her to become Wandfasted (married) which goes against what her uncle wants.  Her uncle decides to allow Elloren to go with her aunt to the city to enroll and join her brothers at the University and only after she finishes her studies will he allow her to Wandfasted.  Before she leaves he makes Elloren promise him that she will wait until she finishes her studies.  Which she does.

At University she’s exposed to a variety of other cultures and magic systems.  Especially the “evil ones” with whom she’s forced to room since she’s not willing to be Wandfasted to the boy her aunt wants her to be Wandfasted to.

After picking up the book I found out that there’s a whole lot of controversy surrounding it.  Although a fantasy book, it covers some very deep subjects the most prominent of which is a cultural one.  How different cultures see each other and the falsities we learn about each other which become harmful to society.

The story includes dragons and elves and sea creatures.  All the things a good fantasy book must have in order to make the story complete and each creature comes with it’s own history and the reasons for their existence in the story.

What I didn’t like about the book

I think Laurie did a great job at showing how what we believe about each other can cause pain if we don’t take the time to get to the know each culture for what they are.  However, although I know that the novel is a young adult fantasy novel I was not prepared for the lectures on the evils of some of the cultures.  I get the reason for them to be in the book but perhaps they could have been handled different.

I don’t want to spoil the story but there is a part in the book where students are talking about what they believe and it just felt very childish to me.  I could have done without that part and have instead action explain why some believes were prevalent.

Another thing that seemed like a stretch to me was that with every different culture, Elloren seemed to know immediately what they were.  I get that some cultures are easier to spot than others but there a whole lot that are not.  That did not seem to be present.  She and all the other students seemed to know the background of every student just by looking at them.  The exception were the fae who are able to change their appearance.  I found this to be a bit jarring.

What I liked about the book

I enjoyed reading about the different magic systems.  I particularly enjoyed how the Lupine who are the werewolves (for lack of a better description) were written.  From where I’m standing they seemed to be the ones who are able to overlook the differences in everyone else and accept the differences.  I enjoyed seeing the development of those characters.

I enjoyed how the romance was written.  It was not too much in your face but it made a point.  It was descriptive without being too much.  There is one small thing about one of the love interests that could have been developed better.  At one point he goes to military training (it appears that most of the boys go through military training) and only at the time that he’s about to return to we find out that he and Elloren have been corresponding regularly.  This was not mentioned before and I thought this could have been flushed out a little more.

How I feel generally

I really enjoyed the book.  I think it’s a perfect read for the winter time – Yes, I pick most of my books by season.  I enjoyed the description of the school and the magic system was well developed.  Some of the story at times felt a little too young but that’s not the book’s fault as this is, in fact, a young adult novel.

I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads because the book kept me interested and the ending was interesting enough that I bought the next book immediately after.  I would recommend this book to a younger audience or someone just getting started in Fantasy.

Looking forward to her other works.

Ana

On Writing that Novel…. Well….

So I may be writing a television script! Now What

I promised myself that this is where I would be taking accountability for this #NaNoWriMo adventure I’ve put myself on.  Like I don’t have enough adventures … I don’t…. but that’s not the point.  The actual point is that I don’t have the time…. I do….. but again, that’s not the point.

Last weekend, and let’s be clear, 2 weeks before the actual NaNoWriMo starts I basically abandoned the novel planning and decided that my story would be best told in a scrip format.

Really?  a script?  What do I know about script writing?  absolutely nothing …. then again, what do I know about novel writing.  So if I’m going to do this should I be going with my instincts?  considering that my experience with novel writing and script writing is about the same (nothing) then why not go with my instincts?

Having said all this, I am stressed out.  I have completely abandoned all the work that I put into planning a novel.  It was IT IS such a great idea.  It’s not wasted.  It’s still there and it will be there for when I’m ready to finally write it.  My stress is that I now have 2 weeks to start the writing marathons and I have not planned my anything.  I don’t even know how to begin writing.  WHAT?  I’m not even sure I have story!!!!

I told you, if you stick around this place you’ll always have an adventure around the corner.  What do you think will happen next week?  Will I have the script planned out and be ready to write?  What will the story be? I’m still not sure.

Ana

 

Book Review: The Westside by W.M. Akers

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Finally….. I finished reading the book and my original thoughts still stand.  I’m giving this book 3 out of 5 stars.

A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside—a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents—that blends the vivid atmosphere of Caleb Carr with the imaginative power of Neil Gaiman.

I finished the book earlier this week…. hmm maybe even late last week and I wanted to sit with my thoughts before I posted a review.  I wanted to make sure I liked it or didn’t like it and I’m still not 100% sure I am fully comfortable with my decision.

The writing was great.  I enjoyed and connected with the way the author wrote the story. there are so many quotes in the book that resonated with me  and that gave the story that extra punch that I had to stop tagging pages or I would be tagging every single page. I thought the premise of the story was interesting and it actually was what sold me on this book.  The fact that little mysteries are most often than not the ones that are worth solving.  Well, yeah, that and the fact that it’s set in New York in the 20’s….. What more can one wish for?  However, that’s where I break paths with the book.

Although the premise of the story was great I felt confused reading it.  I was constantly being pulled out of the world trying to figure out what the author was trying to say.  It felt that every time I was immersed in the world and in the action, something would be pulling me right back out.  There were characters that were introduced whom I had no connection with and they appeared from out of nowhere.  There were things going on that I’m not sure added anything to the story and, in fact, they wound up only confusing me even more.  I actually started to feel that it was me.  Perhaps it’s not the right book for me or maybe not the right time for me to be reading this book.  This may be one of those books that I will go back to reading again and again and each time I’ll learn something new.  Maybe I do have to read it again.  I’ll have to give myself some time because right now the confusion is still very raw and I’m not sure I’ll give it the honest chance that the writing deserves.

I will be looking for more books from this author.  The writing was amazing …. here is an example from the first page of the book:

I stole a glove.  It dangled off a table in a decrepit leather shop in Thieves Makes on the East side of Manhattan in sweltering late September 1921, and it was in my bag before I even knew it was in my hand.

This sentence put me in the shoes of the protagonist.  I could feel the heat, I could see the glove and I understood how something just is done without a thought.  It just appeared in the bag….. even before she thought about it.

There are many other passages like this and these were the moments when I was taken to the world where Gilda Carr, our protagonist lives.  This was also the world where I needed to stay in order to understand her and everyone around her but the confusion and the need to bring myself back into the world was jarring.

I’m not giving up.  There’s gotta be something I’m missing.

I’m sorry I didn’t like the book more than I did.

XoXo

Ana