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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

24 / 30 books. 80% done!

20 Books of Summer 2023

My Progress:

17 / 20 books. 85% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (2)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (12)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (3)
- Delaware (1)
- Florida (1)
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho (1)
- Illinois
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas (1)
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (3)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (3)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri (1)
- Montana (1)
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (12)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota (1)
- Ohio (3)
- Oklahoma (1)
- Oregon (1)
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (4)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (3)
- Virginia
- Washington (6)
- West Virginia (1)
- Wisconsin (2)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)


- Australia (3)
- Canada (7)
- Chile (1)
- England (21)
- France (2)
- Ireland (2)
-Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- South Korea (1)
- Sweden (1)
- The Netherlands (2)
-Vietnam (1)

My Progress:

45 / 51 states. 88% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 25 books. 100% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

51 / 52 books. 98% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

46 / 52 books. 88% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

35 / 40 books. 88% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 25 books. 64% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

93 / 109 books. 85% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's A First For Me ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

So, this is a first for me—I've never reviewed a book without first reading it from cover to cover.  I'm not even sure I should give you my opinion on The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf without doing so.  But, here's the thing—it's not the kind of book you read from Page 1 to Page 328.  That would be like reading the dictionary from beginning to end.  Because this "handbook" is more of a reference than a how-to guide, if that makes sense.  Let me try to explain ...

Lowenkopf, who is now in his 80s, has worked as a book editor for more than thirty years.  He's also spent three decades teaching in the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California.  I think it's safe to say he knows his stuff.  So, when he set about writing a book about writing, he decided to "produce the book I needed when I was setting forth as a writer, a book you could pick up at any page and be led by your own needs and curiosity ... I wanted a book that showed the connective tissue between the tools of storytelling instead of telling me how to construct separate damned chapters" (15).  Thus, he penned The Fiction Writer's Handbook.  

The book is set up like a dictionary, listing 350+ literary terms from A-Z.  Each entry offers a definition of the word/phrase/concept, along with a history of usage and examples from well-known books, movies and even television shows.  Many entries also include helpful hints garnered from Lowenkopf's vast experience.  I found lots of common terms, with which I was already familiar (cliché, nuance, subtext, red herring, etc.) as well as many, many I had never heard before (The Choking Doberman, macguffin, mise-en-scène, and the pathetic fallacy—just to name a few).  Lowenkopf gives each concept a thorough examination, indeed showing how different techniques work together to create an effective story.  It is, by far, the most complete literary handbook I've ever encountered.

If you're a writer—a budding novelist, a blogger, even just a student of literature—you want this book.  It's a fabulous resource to have on hand.  I'm sticking it on my desk, where it will be easy to reach every time I encounter an unfamiliar literary concept or need tips on how to best utilize a certain technique in my own writing.  I can already tell that it's going to be an invaluable resource for me.  

Since I didn't read every word of The Fiction Writer's Handbook, I'm not going to give it a grade.  I'm just going to tell you that it's worth a look, especially if you have any desire to not just write fiction, but also see it published.  Lowenkopf's writing bible is thorough, precise and will be infinitely useful to myself and every other writer out there.  It's like taking one of the author's famous writing courses without having to pay thousands in tuition.  I call that a win-win situation.

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Fiction Writer's Handbook from the good folks at Premiere Virtual Author Book Tours.  Thank you!  

"Heyer-esque" Edenbrooke A Clean, Charming Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Marianne Daventry enjoys spending long, quiet days in Bath with her grandmother.  The peaceful interlude has been just the thing to help the 17-year-old deal with the untimely death of her mother.  Still, Marianne's getting antsy.  And that's not a good thing for a girl whose focus is supposed to be on turning herself into a proper young lady.  She's not at all envious of her vivacious twin sister, Cecily, who's enjoying a season in London, but Marianne wouldn't be adverse to experiencing a little excitement.  Especially when the alternative is listening to her grandmother's constant criticisms and—even worse—atrocious love poems from the dreadful Mr. Whittles.  

So, when Cecily invites Marianne to join her for a summer in the country, Marianne can't accept fast enough.  She's not looking forward to the social obligations she'll be expected to keep, but the vacation will certainly provide the diversion Marianne's been craving lately.  After all, Cecily's got big plans to woo and wed the Lord of Edenbrooke and she'll need her sister's help to make sure her scheming comes to fruition.  

But, when Marianne meets the infuriating, yet charming Philip Wyndham, everything changes.  Suddenly, what promised to be a sedate, sisterly summer in the countryside is becoming a whirlwind adventure full of danger, devilry and deception.  The man-catching madness has begun and Marianne hardly knows which to trust—the ambitions of her beautiful, fickle sister or the traitorous longings of her own heart?  Marianne must make a critical choice between love and loyalty, a choice that will mean betraying her sister or losing the only man she's ever wanted.  Forever. 

I don't read a lot of Regency romances, but when I do, I'm (almost) always thoroughly charmed by them.  There's just something about that gentle, bygone era that makes me smile.  And swoon.  Edenbrooke, a debut novel by Julianne Donaldson, provides plenty of chances to do both.  The plot's nothing super original, nor are the characters, but Donaldson's lighthearted prose keeps the story from feeling stagnant.  Most refreshing is the time the author takes to build the romance between Marianne and Philip.  Insta-love never feels authentic—this does.  Add in some intriguing twists and turns and Edenbrooke becomes a fun, romantic page turner that will appeal to teenagers and senior citizens alike.  Did the novel blow me away?  No, but still, I quite enjoyed this clean, charming read.

(Readalikes:  Although I've never read anything by Georgette Heyer, I keep seeing Edenbrooke referred to as "Heyer-esque."  It's also Austen-ish.  As far as modern comparisons go, it reminded me of books by Sarah Eden.)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for scenes of peril and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Edenbrooke from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain (a division of Deseret Book). Thank you!

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