Writing Fiction — A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French
Synopsis The most widely used and respected text in its field, Writing Fiction, 7e by novelists Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French guides the novice story writer from first inspiration to final revision by providing practical writing techniques and concrete examples. Written in a tone that is personal and non-prescriptive, the text encourages students to develop proficiency through each step of the writing process, offering an abundance of exercises designed to spur writing and creativity. The text also integrates diverse contemporary short stories in every chapter in the belief that the reading of inspiring fiction goes hand-in-hand with the writing of fresh and exciting stories.
A bestseller through six editions,Writing Fiction by novelists Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French explores the elements of fiction, providing practical writing techniques and concrete examples. Written in a tone that is personal and non-prescriptive, this book encourages writers to develop proficiency through each step of the writing process, offering an abundance of exercises designed to spur writing and creativity. The text Writing Fiction also integrates diverse contemporary short stories in every chapter in the belief that the reading of inspiring fiction goes hand-in-hand with the writing of fresh and exciting stories.
Thorough and practical discussions of all the major fictional elements offer readers a comprehensive guide to the craft of writing stories. Topics include freewriting, plot, style, characterization, dialogue, time, place, imagery, and point of view.
For novice writers looking to develop proficiency.
My Review This is a comprehensive book on craft that starts with the basics and works deeper with solid examples that drive the point home. With detailed chapters on the process of writing, showing vs. telling, and creating three-dimensional characters and settings, this may be the penultimate book for beginning writers. Even intermediate writers will find reminders about all the things we’re doing wrong that we knew were wrong, but forgot we were doing. Filled with vivid examples to illustrate every lesson, the book even has a few things for more seasoned writers.
New writers often have the hardest time grasping the concept of showing vs. telling, and this section in Writing Fiction is one of the best yet I’ve read, teaching the difference between the two with well-written examples perfectly re-written to ensure the lesson is learned. The section on characterization is exceptionally thorough, delving into great detail on what makes good characters and what makes great characters. All stories need good characters, but the best stories have great characters.
With about one-third examples and writing exercises and two-thirds instruction, I firmly believe this is the first book every aspiring fiction writer should pick up and study.
Bottom Line Writing Fiction is expensive, but worth every penny. This is the textbook every aspiring novelist needs to read.
Title: Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft Authors: Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French Publisher: Longman Publication Date: February 2, 2014 Pages: 400 Category: Writing Fiction Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble
Author Janet Burroway
About Janet Burroway
Janet Burroway is the author of seven novels including The Buzzards, Raw Silk (runner up for the national Book award), Opening Nights, and Cutting Stone; a volume of poetry,Material Goods; a collection of essays, Embalming Mom; and two children’s books, The Truck on the Track and The Giant Jam Sandwich. Her most recent plays, Medea With Child, Sweepstakes, Division of Property, and Parts of Speech, have received readings and productions in New York, London, San Francisco, Hollywood, and various regional theatres.
Her Writing Fiction is the most widely used creative writing text in America, and a multi-genre textbook, Imaginative Writing, appeared in 2002. A B.A. from Barnard College and M.A. from Cambridge University, England, she was Yale School of Drama RCA-NBC Fellow 1960-61, and is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Emerita at the Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Her new novel, The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady, is forthcoming from Doubleday in spring 2011. Her short stories have appeared in The Normal School, Narrative Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Gettysburg Review, Southern Review, Five Points, and The O’Henry Prize Stories 2005.
She was awarded a James Michener Fellowship and has won grants from the Howard Foundation, the Indiana Arts Foundation, and the Florida Arts Foundation. She teaches fiction writing at Florida State University.
About Ned Stuckey-French Ned Stuckey-French teaches at Florida State University and is book review editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.
He is the author of The American Essay in the American Century (University of Missouri Press, forthcoming May 2011), co-editor (with Carl Klaus) of Essayists on the Essay: Four Centuries of Commentary (University of Iowa Press, forthcoming fall 2011), and coauthor (with Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French) of Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Longman, 8th edition).
His articles and essays have appeared in journals and magazines such as In These Times, The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, Walking Magazine, culture front, Pinch, Guernica, and American Literature, and have been listed three times among the notable essays of the year in Best American Essays.
Cancer is a part of my life at the moment, but it doesn’t define me.
I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend. I’m a reader, a writer, a music lover. I adore dancing in my kitchen like the white girl with no rhythm that I am. love to laugh and sing off-key at the top of my lungs. I used to love coffee until chemo ruined that for me, I still love wine, but no longer drink it. I’m still me, I just happen to also have cancer.
My daily routine is at the mercy of doctors’ appointments, lab work, tests, and procedures. My outings are subject to white blood counts, and my meals are driven by cravings and aversions. This is my life at the moment, but it is not who I am.
I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t scare me at times, but I’d also be lying if I said I let it dictate anything beyond what is absolutely necessary. I don’t dwell on it, and when I’m feeling good, like today, I forget my boob is trying to kill me.
Synopsis Bryce Matthews doesn’t do the whole nice boyfriend thing. Chocolates and flowers—girls can forget all that. And he certainly doesn’t care about the gossip and rumors that follow him at school and around town. If anything, the talk amuses him. Bryce isn’t lacking in confidence. He knows himself and he knows his limits.
One of those hard limits is Madison Issac. Bryce can never have her, and he’s perfectly fine with that. Sometimes the fantasy is better than the reality anyway.
Madison Issac thought she was a pretty good judge of character. But she’s surprised at how gentle and comforting resident bad-boy and next-door neighbor Bryce Matthews is when we finds her crying in the park.
Maybe there’s more to Bryce than people think? So Madison begins to wonder. Can a guy like Bryce ever change his ways? Can a girl like Madison really be into a guy like Bryce?
With hearts and reputations on the line, this kind of love can be scandalous.
My Review On the surface this is a bad boy redeemed story, which is right up my alley, but deeper down, it’s more than that. Bryce isn’t your typical bad boy. He attracts trouble like nobody else, but he’s not the usual manwhore with the swagger and devil-may-care attitude. Bryce has lived next to Madison since they were kids and he despises her uptightness. Madison thinks Bryce is a little full of himself, but otherwise, has eyes only for his best friend, Graham. When Madison’s cousin comes to live with her after some family drama, Madison’s life gets turned upside down, and Bryce is the only one who seems to be able to see Sarah for who she really is.
For the most part, this is a straight-up teen romance, but there are a few fun subplots involving cousin Sarah, a love-triangle with Graham, and the inevitable trouble Bryce seems to keep getting into. The book is a fast read, with moments of humor and charm.
Madison and Bryce are great. They’re both easy to like with well-rounded backstories. I didn’t get much of a sense of any of the other characters though. Some were two-dimensional and others just weren’t fully fleshed out. But the story is about Madison and Bryce and they are both well done.
What Didn’t Work for Me: 1. Inconsistencies. There were a few that I found more annoying than unable to overlook. Because we get dual points of view, we know what both main characters are thinking. In particular, Bryce makes one particular revelation that doesn’t sync with his earlier thoughts.
2. Emotional avoidance. There’s a pretty big twist in the middle that I didn’t see coming, but rather than show us the events as they unfolded, allowed us to feel the reaction of the affected character, it’s glossed over the event in retrospect. I felt it was a huge squandered opportunity.
3. Weak secondary characters. While the story is really about Madison and Bryce, the supporting characters weren’t fully developed. It wasn’t a huge problem for me, but I’ve read more books lately with really well-developed supporting roles that made the story more vivid.
What I Really Liked: 1. Chemistry. The chemistry between Bryce and Madison is evident pretty early on. They have a love/hate relationship, but the book is titled, Bryce, so you know these two will end up together. I love my teen romances with lots of angst and these two had that to balance out all that lovely chemistry.
2. Madison. I love strong female leads and she is fantastic. She’s witty, smart, and doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap.
3. Bryce. He’s got a bad reputation and a big heart. It’s a fantastic combination. The dreamy eyes don’t hurt either.
4. Angst. There’s a boatload of angst in here, from the way Sarah is treated by Madison’s parents and even Graham, to the whole dramatic build up to the end. I love me some angst!
5. Family drama. Natalie Decker excels at weaving stories that involve good old fashioned family drama, and Bryce is no exception!
Bottom Line Bryce is a light, fast read filled with teen drama, quirky moments, and delightful lead characters.
Disclaimer I was provided by a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: Bryce Series: Scandalous Boys #1 Author: Natalie Decker Publisher: Swoon Romance Release Date: February 23, 2016 Pages: 235
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Author Natalie Decker
About the Author Natalie Decker is the Author of Rival Love. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Her first passion for writing started at age twelve when she had to write a poem for English class. However, seventh grade wasn’t her favorite time and books were her source of comfort.
She took all college prep classes in High school, and attended the University of Akron. Although she studied Mathematics she never lost her passion for writing or her comfort in books. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and her awesome dog infinity times infinity.
If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!
Synopsis A breathtaking debut brings us the unforgettable story of a small-town love, big dreams, and family drama.
Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand-new to town, Silas is different from the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening—and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister—and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.
Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers. Perfect for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have).
My Review This is one of my favorite young adult stories of the year. This unique, captivating tale of teens searching for who they are and where they fit into the greater world around them has something nearly everyone can identify with. Westlin Beck is a small-town preacher’s daughter who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. The summer before senior year, her best friend is off working at a summer camp and her long-term boyfriend, Elliot, is working his tail off at the farm to earn enough money to buy a car, leaving West lonely and bored. She has her own car detailing business and when a new family moves to town, including teenage twins Silas and Laurel, West’s dad enlists Silas’s help for the detailing business.
Truest is an honest portrayal of the complexities of teen love. There are no cliched love triangles here. Only the ebbing and flowing of emotions as two people realize they have more in common with each other than anyone else, even if one of those people is already in a relationship with someone else
The plot is multi-faceted, taking on a number of topics, from teen love, to mental illness, parental relationships, breaking free, and finding your place in the world. All these pieces are woven together beautifully, with a golden thread of truth binding them. It’s hard to do justice to the plot, because it’s so much more than just a romance, just a coming of age, or just a story of mental illness. It’s about teens grappling with the life they’ve been dealt to the best of their abilities, and searching for meaning in the midst.
Every character, from West and Silas, to Elliott, Laurel and Whit, are thoroughly developed and come alive between the pages. Not one character comes across as cliche’d, not even Westlin as the rebellious preacher’s daughter, because there is so much more to her than that. She doesn’t rebel for attention or for the sake of rebellion, but as a way to find herself in the only way she knows how. Elliott, as the scorned boyfriend, is far more three-dimensional than is necessary for his character, but that just adds to the realism of the story as a whole.
The writing is magnificent and fluid, pulling me along on a wandering journey, making me want to lie back and see where the current takes me.
Ending I wasn’t sure about the ending at first, but the more time and distance between finishing the book and writing the review, the more I realize it was the absolute perfect ending to fit the themes of the story.
What I Loved About Truest 1. Attention to detail. The author spends a great deal of time bringing us into the story and not just through scene setting, but by getting us into her character’s. Although the story is told through West’s point of view, I never felt as if the other characters were just there to support West’s story — they all serve a purpose. 2. Organic growth. The honest portrayal of teens is a slice of fresh air. Teens rarely fall in love for life with the person they’re dating in high school, regardless of how popular much of young adult fiction makes it seem otherwise. When West began developing feelings for Silas, they came naturally and felt real, not forced to fulfil a plot point, nor did I lose respect for her. She struggled the way an ordinary teen in a similar situation did without over-dramatization. 3. The reality of mental illness. I’d never heard of solipsism before reading Truest, and my guess is most people haven’t either. The honesty with which this illness is treated is one of the best parts of the story. It’s an unusual disease that won’t make sense to many people, but the fact that so many characters in the book showed their ignorance rather than abject acceptance brought yet another breadth of realism to the story. 4. Lack of easy answers. It would have been too easy for the author to wrap everything up in a fitting denouement that left us breathless, but that’s not life and would not have been true to the themes she introduced us to. 5. Symbolism. While we don’t get a nice neat package at the end, we get symbolism throughout and an opportunity to see for ourselves what the answers are, or what we believe they should be.
Bottom Line Truest is a stunning young adult contemporary story of loving, longing, and finding yourself.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Heading home always stirs up mixed emotions for Laney Calhoun. Twelve years ago she left for graduate school, broken-hearted. She’s found professional success, but positive personal relationships have proved elusive. Running into her ex-boyfriend fans flames she thought long extinguished, and causes a renewed interest in love. Not with Kyle, of course. Never again. But as sparks fly and items of clothing disappear, she scrambles to keep her emotions in check.
…Now he has a second chance to get it right.
Kyle Nixon let Laney slip away once. Their chemistry together is undeniable, but steamy sex is not enough to convince her to let him back into her heart. Even if she did trust him again, her career as a paediatric surgeon is five hundred kilometers away from the hometown that he loves, and the life he once chose over her.
Come home to Wardham. Come home to love.
My Review I’m a sucker for long-lost love stories, so I had high hopes when I started What Once Was Perfect. My biggest issue is that most of the elements of these types of stories were missing. The couple made up almost instantly without much conflict at all. The romance was sweet with plenty of steamy sex scenes, but I never doubted these two would end up together. When Delaney Calhoun goes home for Christmas, she runs into her ex, Kyle Nixon, for the first time since her father’s funeral. They both realize their raw attraction is still present and are rather quick to act upon it. When Laney needs to return to Chicago after the holidays, the two will have to figure out how a long-distance relationship could work this time around rather than break them up again.
The pacing moves okay, but there is a lack of significant conflict. Instead, the story moves with some obvious unresolved sexual tension, clearing up of some misunderstandings, and lots of steamy bedroom scenes. It’s clear immediately these two still love each other and the only real unknown is how they’re resolve a long-distance relationship. But they’re not teens anymore, so I was confident the responsible adults in them would figure it out.
The two main characters, Laney and Kyle, are both likeable and well-rounded. It’s clear that miscommunication and misunderstandings got in their way all those years ago, but they recognize it now. There is solid character growth and introspection that is realistic and a natural culmination of the events.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Lack of meaningful conflict. My personal preference is for stories laced with conflict, even sweet romances. I would have like a less easy path to HEA.
What I Enjoyed About What Once Was Perfect 1. The characters. They were well developed, interesting, and likeable. 2. Character growth. Both Laney and Kyle need to look inside and confront their own part in their past breakup in order to move beyond it. 3. Sexual tension. These two had it in spades and it worked well. 4. The setting. A picturesque small Canadian town at Christmas was the perfect setting for Laney and Kyle’s story. The author brought the scenes alive in all their white and wondrous glory. 5. Compromise. I love that the ending didn’t come together all nice and neat and that both needed to compromise on what they thought they wanted to get what they really needed.
Bottom Line What Once Was Perfect is a sweet holiday romance about enduring love and second chances.
About the Author New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Zoe York is a busy working mom of two young boys, wife to a very understanding soldier, and creator of modern, sexy, small town contemporary romances. Her debut novel, What Once Was Perfect, started the popular Wardham series, and her first military romance, Fall Out, was released as part of the international bestselling SEALs of Summer super bundle.
She lives in London, Ontario and is currently chugging Americanos, wiping sticky fingers, and dreaming of heroes in and out of uniform.
“Ellie Cahill is definitely one to watch!” raves bestselling author Cora Carmack, and this steamy, upbeat modern romance about connecting in all the best ways proves it once again.
Clementine Daly knows she’s the black sheep. Her wealthy, powerful family has watched her very closely since she almost got caught in an embarrassing scandal a few years ago. So when Clementine’s sent on a mission to live up to the Daly name, politely declining isn’t an option. Of course, the last thing she does before boarding the plane is to grab a stranger’s phone by mistake—leaving the hunky journalist with her phone. Soon his sexy voice is on the line, but he doesn’t know her real name, or her famous pedigree—which is just the way Clementine likes it.
Despite all the hassles, Justin Mueller is intrigued to realize that the beautiful brown-eyed girl he met at the airport is suddenly at his fingertips. They agree to exchange phones when they’re both back in town, but after a week of flirty texts and wonderfully intimate conversations, Justin doesn’t want to let her go. The only problem? It turns out that Clementine has been lying to him about, well, everything. Except for the one thing two people can’t fake, the only thing that matters: The heat between them is for real.
My Review This was a sweet, adorable new adult romance. When Clementine, the black sheep of the Daly family (think Rockefellers) accidentally switches phones at the airport with the hottest guy she’s ever seen, the two begin a long-distance flirtation until they can meet back up and return their respective phones to their rightful owners. When they meet, sparks fly, but Clementine is hiding more than her true identity from Justin and things go off-course when those secrets come to light.
Things start off a little slow and I took awhile to get sucked in, but Clementine is delightfully flustered making her instantly likeable. Justin comes off as refined and charming, so these two are the perfect match. Other than the early pacing, the story moves well, but is devoid of almost any real conflict until the end. When the conflict comes, though, it’s angsty and well done.
Only Clementine and Justin were really all that fleshed out, although Clem’s younger brother, Honor, had a little more weight to him. Still Clementine is so incredibly fun, that I didn’t really care about the lack of character development with the others.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Pacing. It started off slow and took awhile to build, but the last half moved well enough that I can overlook it.. 2. Lack of conflict. There isn’t a lot of conflict until the end. Clementine and Justin hit it off right away. There is minimal conflict between Clementine and her grandparents, but that’s about it until the big blow up toward the end.
What I Enjoyed About Call Me, Maybe 1. Clementine. She was spirited, quirky and just plain adorable. She’s exactly the kind of girl I’d love to hang out with. 2. Justin. He’s as sweet as he is good looking — a great combination. 3. The big blowup. It took awhile to reach the conflict, but once I got there, I was engrossed. It was a natural occurrence of the events and I could feel so much for both of them. 4. Finding your calling. I think a lot of young/new adults can relate to Clementine’s lack of direction in life. I love that she didn’t let anyone push her into doing something she didn’t feel passionate about. 5. Happily ever afters. The ones you have to fight the hardest for are the most treasured.
Bottom Line Call Me, Maybe is a fun, quirky contemporary romance with characters you can’t help rooting for.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Call Me, Maybe Author:Ellie Cahill Publisher: Loveswept Release Date:February 9, 2016 Pages: 242
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay
Author Ellie Cahill
About the Author Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas.
She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat.
Synopsis In the second standalone book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams’ Thatch series, Knox Alexander must convince his long-time love Harlow Evans that they’re meant to be together.
He promised to wait for her. She told him he was wasting his time. Not waiting for him ended up being the biggest mistake of her life.
When they were younger, Knox Alexander swore to Harlow Evans that he would wait for her to turn eighteen so they could be together. But that was two and a half years away, and Harlow couldn’t ask him to give up all the fun and thrills of going away to college for her. As the years passed, Knox remained a constant in her life but when her eighteenth birthday came around, Harlow’s heart belonged to someone else.
Every day for the last four years, Harlow has been haunted by that fateful choice. And though he may appear unaffected by what happened in their past, Knox has always tried to fill the void Harlow left. But when he comes stumbling back into her life and refuses to leave, will Harlow finally let him into her heart…?
My Review To the Stars is intense, romantic, and nearly impossible to put down. Harlow and Knox meet when Harlow is far too young — jailbait young — but Knox swears he’ll wait. Harlow counts down the days until she turns 18 and can be with Knox forever. But three years is a long time for teens to wait, and life sometimes intervenes unexpected and unintended ways. Harlow ends up married to a man she thought was perfect, but turns out he’s a perfect monster. The physical and emotional abuse is hard to read at times, but it is such a driving force in the story, and Molly McAdams never sugar coats it.
The pacing is fantastic, never dragging. I’m usually not a big fan of flashbacks, but they worked in this case. The author introduces us to the characters, then shows us how they became the people they are. The backstories unfold slowly, piecing their puzzles together until we can see it clearly. There were some unexpected twists and the climax was a thrill-ride.
The characters are exceedingly well-developed. Not all of them are likeable, even Harlow had her moments, but they are incredibly whole and believable. Through the story, both Knox and Harlow grew in organic ways that fit the story and their characters.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The abuse. It’s not that it didn’t work for me, but it was just really, really hard to read. It was necessary for the story, though.
What I Enjoyed About To the Stars 1. The pacing. The story moved at a solid pace, never slowing down. 2. The character development. The characters were deep and fascinating, even the unlikeable ones. 3. Devotion. Harlow’s and Knox’s devotion to one another was sweet, but Knox’s friends devotion to him was a bromance worth reading. 4. Enduring love. Knox and Harlow may have taken different routes in life, but their love for one another was the tether connecting them across seven years. 5. Grey. As the sister of Knox’s roommate, she has her own story, which is book 1 of the series, and I can’t wait to dive into it.
Bottom Line To the Stars is an honest portrayal of abuse, love, and breaking free.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: To the Stars Series: Thatch #2 Author: Mollyl McAdams Publisher: WilliamMorrow Release Date: February 10, 2016 Pages: 387 Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay
Author Molly McAdams
About the Author Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies.
When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes.
She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornadoes. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.
Swoon Romance and author, Jennifer DiGiovanni, are unveiling the cover to My Senior Year of Awesome, the first book in her young adult contemporary romance series, School Dayz, releasing on March 1, 2016. See below for the cover, information on the book, a pre-order link, and details on her giveaway.
My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer DiGiovanni
About the Book Title: My Senior Year of Awesome Series: School Dayz #1 Author: Jennifer DiGiovanni Publisher: Swoon Romance Release Date: March 1, 2016 Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance Links:Goodreads | Amazon
Synopsis A girl desperately tries to avoid the boy she was voted most likely to marry by her senior classmates. To prove senior superlative votes are meaningless, she and her best friend create their own list of awesome high school achievements to be completed by graduation.
It’s the final semester of senior year, and everyone at Harmony High can’t wait to find out the results of the Senior Superlative votes! But the balloon bursts in Sadie’s face when she discovers she’s been voted “Most Likely to Get Married” to Andy – a boy she’s never dated or ever thought of as a potential boyfriend. Completely and utter mortification sets in.
To prove high school means something more than a Senior Superlative award, Sadie and her best friend Jana decide to create their own list of awesome non-academic achievements to be completed before graduation.
Yet, the harder Sadie works to show everyone she’s not the least bit attracted to Andy, the more appealing he becomes. Typical for the girl who can’t seem to achieve anything important, even the completion of one lousy college application.
When senioritis kicks in and the school year dwindles down to mere weeks, Sadie decides to risk her good girl reputation to prove that an Awesome Achievement means much more than any Senior Superlative vote. By the time Sadie realizes her epic screw-up, she just might have lost her chance at the prom date of her dreams.
Author Jennifer DiGiovanni
About the Author Jennifer lives in a small town near Philadelphia, PA with her husband and three children. In college, she double majored in English and business, and later went back to school for her MBA.
She currently works as a freelance writer and owns a small business. She also spends time cheering at her kids’ soccer games, re-learning algebra to help with homework assignments, and cooking up healthy dinners that nobody eats.
When she’s not doing any of those things, you can find her reading, working on home design projects, or running (though she’s much better at walking). At night, when her house is finally quiet, she brings her YA characters to life. My Senior Year of Awesome is her first novel.
Dog Collar Knockoff (Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2) by Adrienne Giordano
Synopsis Catering to the pampered paws set took Lucie Rizzo from unemployed to entrepreneur. With her dog walking/chic pet accessory business on the verge of success, Lucie’s ready to make a name for herself. One not tarnished by her dad’s mobster rep.
When an art deal she brokered between clients turns suspicious, it’s up to Lucie to sniff out the truth. She might not know the difference between Monet and Manet, but Rizzos are no strangers to jail time—and Lucie refuses to be someone’s prison bitch.
Unless that someone is a tall, blond and Irish cop. Detective Tim O’Brien certainly knows how to get Lucie hot under the rhinestone collar. And with her on-again-off-again relationship with Frankie Falcone currently off, O’Brien isn’t shy about making her feel wanted, mafia ties and all. Even joining her crack—or crackpot—team on the trail of two paintings with equally shady origins.
My Review The second book in the Lucie Rizzo mystery series picks up not long after the end of the first one, but a lot has happened in that time. Lucie and Frankie are broken up, this time at Frankie’s insistence. Lucie’s budding business of dog walking and high-end pet accessories is taking off, so much so, she’s hired an assistant. Her young apprentice is an art major and notices some famous paintings hanging in the homes of Lucie’s clients, raising concerns about their authenticity. Most of the book centers around this mystery, especially with her on-again-off-again relationship with Frankie in the off position. But the young, hot detective who helped her out in the first book is still hanging around, and his interest in Lucie might not be one-sided.
The mystery is the main plot and it moves much faster than in the first novel. And while the author lets on pretty early what’s going on, there were a couple of really good unexpected twists. Lucie’s love triangle is a strong subplot and particularly well done. I neither love nor hate love triangles as a whole, but I do loathe poorly executed ones. Luckily that’s not the case here. Both guys have merit and both are easy to love. Lucie’s conundrum is wholly believable.
I love that both Lucie and Frankie went through some character development in this book. In a lot of mystery series’ the characters are stagnant, but not with this series. The cast is still a lovable bunch of colorful goofballs, but they’re more meaty than stereotypical. Lucie is introspective and knows she has a bunch of stuff to figure out, and it’s great that she doesn’t take the easy way out. Of anything.
Ending I didn’t seen the ending coming and I’m happy with the way this chapter of Lucie’s life is wrapped up. I’m fully onboard with the Lucie Rizzo Mysteries now and looking forward to the next one.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Lack of grippiness. If that’s even a word. I never really felt like Lucie was ever in any danger. It’s a fun read, but a little more edge-of-your-seat moments would have made this a real page-turner.
What I Enjoyed About Dog Collar Knockoff 1. The pacing. This second book in the series moved at a faster clip than the first, which made it a fun, fast read. 2. Chemistry. As much as I loved the Lucie/Frankie chemistry in the first book, I can’t deny she and Tim have their own sizzle. Adrienne Giordano writes a really believable love triangle. 3. The dogs. In the first book, I almost thought there were too many dogs. I mean, she’s a dog walker, but I still felt like I spent an inordinate amount of time reading about dogs taking a dump. This time, I actually looked forward to Lucie’s time with them. They’ve grown on me the way my own four-legged friend has. The one we got for the kids who has decided I’m his person and I’ve reluctantly accepted that. 4. Ro and Joey. These two will either kill each other or wind up together. If Joey was taking bets on his own life, the odds would be 50/50. 5. The mystery. The mystery was very different than the first one, and was well executed, which isn’t always easy to do.
Bottom Line The second book in the series is even better than the first and I’m looking forward to the release of the third.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: Dog Collar Knockoff Series: Lucie Rizzo Mystery #2 Author: Adrienne Giordano Publisher: SilverHart Publishing Release Date: February 9, 2016 Pages: 221 Genre: Cozy Mystery/New Adult Contemporary Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Author Adrienne Giordano
About the Author USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery.
She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier).
She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.
Synopsis An enchanting first novel about love, madness, and Kenny G.
The Silver Linings Playbook is the riotous and poignant story of how one man regains his memory and comes to terms with the magnitude of his wife’s betrayal.
During the years he spends in a neural health facility, Pat Peoples formulates a theory about silver linings: he believes his life is a movie produced by God, his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki.
When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends are saddled with families; the Philadelphia Eagles keep losing, making his father moody; and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy.
When Pat meets the tragically widowed and clinically depressed Tiffany, she offers to act as a liaison between him and his wife, if only he will give up watching football, agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition, and promise not to tell anyone about their “contract.” All the while, Pat keeps searching for his silver lining.
In this brilliantly written debut novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, deftly showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. The result is a touching and funny story that helps us look at both depression and love in a wonderfully refreshing way.
My Review After the movie got such rave reviews, I knew I needed to read, or in this case listen to, the book before seeing the movie. I’ll admit, I had a tough time picture Bradley Cooper in the role of Pat Peoples, but I’m anxious to see him portray the troubled character. I had no trouble at all picturing Jennifer Lawrence as the dark and foul-mouthed Tiffany though. I didn’t want to have an expectations going into this story, so I never read the synopsis. I had no idea what the story was about. From the opening lines, I was sucked into Pat’s story. I had no idea what happened to him, why he was in “the bad place”, or even who Nikki was at first.
I never doubted that narrator, Ray Porter, was Pat. He so thoroughly became the character, realistically portraying emotions, doing amazing accents and voicing other characters, I became lost in the story and forgot I was listening to someone read a book rather than watching a movie. Matthew Quick’s debut novel is impressive, filled with well-developed characters, rich descriptions, and intense emotions that kept me riveted.
This is primarily a story about a man struggling with mental health. His overarching goal is to end “apart time” with his wife, Nikki, and show her how he’s become a better man. He knows she likes strong men, so he works out to the extreme, running, weight lifting, and doing sit-ups until he’s massively bulked-up and fit. It’s clear from the beginning that in addition to emotional issues, he’s got some mental problems. After being released from “the bad place”, he moves in with his parents and slowly pieces his life back together. He resumes relationships with his brother, his best childhood friend, and his mother, although his father is aloof. Through his friend, Ronny, he meets Tiffany, Ronny’s sister-in-law, and the two strike up an odd relationship that transforms both of them in unexpected ways. All of this unfolds against the backdrop of the Philadelphia Eagles football season, with the events ebbing and flowing with the wins and losses of the Eagles.
Characters The characters are simply amazing. Every single character, no matter how unimportant their role, comes across as three-dimensional, nuanced, and deep. Pat is exceptionally well done as is Tiffany. Pat’s parents, his therapist, even his friends. This is primarily a character-driven story, which is great, because the characters are living, breathing entities.
What Didn’t Work for Me 1. The pacing. At times, the pacing was too slow. Many events seemed to happen over and over and didn’t feel as if they were moving the story forward, but I was engaged enough, I was easily able to overlook them.
2. The ending. It felt rushed and almost incomplete. Although it wrapped up all the loose ends, I wanted just a little more.
What I Enjoyed About The Silver Linings Playbook
1. The characters. They are so thoroughly well developed, they easily carried the story through some of the slower sections.
2. Tiffany. I instantly loved her. Maybe it’s because she and I share the same vocabulary, but something about her just really struck a chord with me, and I was rooting for her right along with Pat.
3. Football. As an 18-year season ticket holder with the San Diego Chargers, I could really relate so much to the excitement of the games, rooting for your team, having a favorite player, and how a good or bad game can make or break your mood for days.
4. The narration. Narrator, Ray Porter, was phenomenal, bringing the characters to life. I’d listen to anything he narrates.
5. The themes. I love the idea of finding your own silver lining in any situation. Recently diagnosed with breast cancer, I’m constantly looking for silver linings every day. And finding them.
Bottom Line The Silver Linings Playbook is the story of mental illness, but also about hope and finding your own silver linings.
About the Audiobook
Title: The Silver Linings Playbook Author: Matthew Quick Release Date: October 9th 2008 Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. Narrators: Ray Porter Length: 7 Hours 22 Minutes Genre: Contemporary Romance/Mental Health Story Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Audio Production Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Audible | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Author Matthew Quick
About the Author Matthew Quick is the New York Times bestselling author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film; THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW; LOVE MAY FAIL; and three young adult novels: SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR; BOY21; and FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages, received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, was an LA Times Book Prize finalist, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a #1 bestseller in Brazil, and selected by Nancy Pearl as one of Summer’s Best Books for NPR. EVERY EXQUISITE THING will be published in 2016. All of his books have been optioned for film.
Matthew spent the first few years of his life in Philadelphia before being raised just across the Delaware River in Oaklyn, New Jersey. He graduated from Collingswood High School (class of 1992) and La Salle University (class of 1996), where he double-majored in English and secondary education. He taught high school literature and film in southern New Jersey for several years, during which he coached soccer and basketball, chaperoned trips to Peru and Ecuador, initiated a pen-pal exchange with students in Namibia, and counseled troubled teens.
In 2004 Matthew made the difficult decision to leave teaching and write full time. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2007 and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from La Salle University in 2013. He lives with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.