Okay, This Is Awesome!

I’m not normally a note taker when I’m reading. Mostly because stopping to take notes tends to pull me out of a story. Also because I’ve never found a truly convenient method of doing so where I didn’t have to shuffle my reader with either my laptop or a notepad (which also usually meant trying to find a decent pen or pencil and those are NEVER where I left them). I’m also kind of lazy and all of that is just too much work. I’d rather read.

Sometimes, though, I do need to make a note of something so I don’t forget. This was the case for the current ARC I’m reading. Then I remembered my tablet doing some weird split screen thing when I first got it. This prompted me to play around a bit and found I can split my reading window with a notes window! I can either type my notes or use the handy pen to write them. I have a feeling I’ll be doing this more in the future because it is such an easy way to take notes which makes it totally awesome.

Yes, I’m easily amused by things that make my life easier.

Situational And Emotional Representation In Books

It seems as though I’ve read a lot of books recently that I’ve hit me in a lot of personal ways. Most of the time, I can pinpoint exactly what soft spot it hit and why I reacted the way I did. Other times, it seems so much more complex. This is something that has been rattling around in my brain for a few weeks now and I’ve been trying to figure out why I seem to react so strongly.

I have also seemed to struggle to really find what I want to read the most. Something like a reading slump, but not so much that I have disliked a lot of what I’ve read. Just, I’ve wanted to find something more than what I actually found.

I finally figured out at least a part of it. I’m a deeply emotional reader. I need to have emotional connections to the story and the characters, at least to some extent, for me to really enjoy it. Those are the stories I’ve been craving, but I haven’t quite been able to say I’m looking for this very specific kind of book because I wasn’t even certain what I’d been looking for. It has occurred to me that, at least on one front, I’m looking for emotional or situational representations that reflect on me and my life experiences. I want to see more pieces of my own reality in the books I read.

The problem with that is the times I’ve run across those, more times than not, I really end up disliking the book. These are the ones I’ve had the hardest time trying to really pinpoint the why. I’m beginning to think that a big part of that is the way I want to see those emotions and situations handled. I either want to see them handled in the way I did as some sort of validation of my experiences, or in a way that I see as better and with more positive results than what I experienced allowing that character to avoid some of my own personal chaos. Rarely do I get the one I need for that specific situation or emotion and end up disappointed with the story in front of me.

If a character does something that is counter to what I need in that situation emotionally, I find it taints how I feel about that character. That isn’t to say I’m looking for perfect characters, because perfect isn’t interesting at all. It is boring. I’m looking for human flaws, but I apparently need them flawed in just the right way, if that makes any sense at all.

I’m not certain if this is just a me thing or if others have similar feelings about this. I know I have a whole lot of peeves when it comes to books, but I wasn’t aware that some of these emotional situations and how they are handled was one of them. Everyone is going to bring personal experience and bias into a book they read, but I wasn’t aware of quite how much I drag along with me when I open a book.

I adore stories about families, but those also tend to be the ones that push my buttons hard. Issues like toxic relationships, mental abuse, rejection, forgiveness for those kinds of issues and family obligations all tend to be some really hot spots for me and I almost never react well to them even though those are the very things you tend to see most often in those types of books.

Do other people have these kinds of issues with what they read, maybe with other specific topics or am I just as weird as I think I am?

Sorry if this was a bit of a rambly mess. I think I’m still working through it all and I don’t think I’ve manged to dig it all out yet.

Help! Book Club Discussion Topics and Questions

I received a lovely email from a reader today and I’m looking to help her out. For those of you that have read my book, or even anyone that has ever participated in a book club, can you help me put together a list of questions or topics for discussion for a book club? I have never been in a book club and I haven’t a clue how or where to even start to help. I think if I can get a list of questions, I’ll also be posting these on my book page for anyone that would be interested.

Thank you to anyone that can help!

Book Review: The Forgotten Child, D.E. White

Author: D.E. White
Book Name: The Forgotten Child
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Overall SPA: 2.5 Stars
2.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Lights blinded her in an eerie white flash. She yanked the wheel as she felt the impact from the car behind her. There was a sharp pain, and then a bang in front of her, and after that nothing but darkness.

Holly Kendal is trying to put her painful past and broken marriage behind her and focus on her beloved son, Milo. But while driving him home on a dark February night, Holly loses control on the rain-slicked tarmac, and her car spirals off the road.

When Holly regains consciousness, everything is silent and in the dark, she can’t see Milo. Desperately, she claws her way out of the car and forces the back door open.

To her relief, Milo is where she left him, injured but breathing – but then she sees something that makes her heart stop.

Milo isn’t the only child in the car. Next to him is another little boy, unharmed but unconscious.

And Holly has absolutely no idea who he is.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3/5 Stars
Believability: 3/5 Stars
Blurb: 2/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 2/5 Stars

When I read the blurb for this book, I was really intrigued and excited to read it. I loved this really unique situation that left me questioning how it could play out. There were so many directions this could go.

The way this started, made me think that it was going to be this really intense read, but it didn’t take long at all before I realized this book’s focus wasn’t about what you get in the blurb at all and I quickly became disappointed. The piece of the story that makes the blurb so intense and intriguing is only a very small thread through a very different story. This isn’t to say that the book itself wasn’t well written or interesting, because it was. It just wasn’t what I was expecting at all and ended up not being to my tastes.

There is a heavy thread through this that deals with criminal activities, organizations and the families that make those up. Those aspects were treated in such a blasé way, I wasn’t a fan. When combined with the difference in my expectations of what this was about, it made it difficult for me to enjoy the story.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

 

Reading Peeves: Blurb to Book Difference and Problems

The entire purpose of a blurb is to get a reader’s attention and convince them to pick up that book and read it. Writing them is an art form in itself and requires a delicate balance between being intriguing with just enough information to draw a reader in while staying accurate and not giving too much away. I can say from experience, it was one of the harder aspects of writing a book, so I get that they aren’t always going to be perfect. But, problematic blurbs tend to be a pretty big peeve of mine in reading.

The first part, giving just enough information without being too much, is really hard. I’ve seen books with only a handful of very short sentences that give almost no feel for what the book is actually about. These can be intriguing, but more times than not, they just aren’t enough to get me to pick up a book. I need just a little more than that.

The flip side of that is the blurb that is so long it encompasses nearly 2 pages worth of story summary or just an overload of information and details. The point is to get the reader to want to pick the book up to learn more, not to hand every detail to them in summarized form. I really don’t want to spend more than a minute or two reading a blurb to figure out if I want to spend more of my time to read the book. If I see a really long blurb, I will often just not even bother.

This may be small, but… that blurb really shouldn’t have any errors in it. If the blurb has grammatical or spelling errors, it doesn’t give me a whole lot of hope that the book is going to have been cleanly edited. This doesn’t just apply to spelling and grammar, but to plot and story and character development. Typos and mistakes happen, but first impressions make a huge impact on readers.

I also cannot stand when the blurb contains a spoiler or includes something that the reader doesn’t even see until the very end of the book. For me, these tend to create a certain level of expectation for those parts and I’ll spend the whole book looking for it and not just enjoying the piece of the story that is in front of me at the time.

For me, I think the worst offense a blurb can commit is to not actually represent the book it is attached to. I have now read 2 different ARCs in a row that I requested because the blurbs looked amazing only to find out that the blurb and the book really didn’t match.

The blurb is the second point of advertising for a book right after the cover. Like any other kind of advertising, a blurb can fall into the “false advertising” category. It doesn’t seem to happen often, but it does happen and I really don’t get why. I feel like if you do that, it makes you look bad as an author. If I read a book with a gross level of disparity between the blurb and the book, I’m a whole lot less likely to ever pick up another book by that author, so doing this seems really counter intuitive.

I also feel like the issues with length and too much information are a lot more minor in comparison to a blurb that doesn’t match a book. At least those are being honest even if it doesn’t quite hit that sweet spot balance on just enough but not too much. There is also a difference between being coy with surprises along the way and being an outright misrepresentation of what a book is about. When a blurb doesn’t match a book it feels kind of like a lie and a breach of trust between author and reader, which is a surprisingly important part of that relationship.

 

What Do You Look For In A Book Review?

When I first started writing book reviews, they were mostly for myself in an effort to get the whirlwind of thoughts out of my head after reading a book, whether they were good or bad. Since I’ve expanded why I’m doing them, though the base reason is still mostly the same, I’m curious as to what others find are the critical pieces when they read a review. What are the parts you look for first?

I have a handful that I think are important, but I don’t see in every review. Granted, these pieces also vary depending on where that review is posted. I have certain things I expect to see from a blog review that aren’t going to be the same for reviews posted on places like Goodreads or Amazon. That is the reason I do my reviews in sections so that I can just post parts in other places.

For me, blog reviews need to have more information because that information isn’t already there, like blurb and genre. When you are on most other sites those pieces are right there up front, so having them again in every single review tends to be annoying for me. I don’t want to weed through 100 reviews all posting the blurb or a reworded summary of it when it is already there in front of you. When it is on a blog, I think this is so much more important to include.

Genre is another one I really need to see on a blog. You simply can’t always tell just from a blurb or from someone’s opinion what genre a book falls into. For me, I’m more likely to choose to skip that review if I know the book isn’t even in a genre I read. Like the blurb, this isn’t necessary in most other locations because those are just as easily found, though it isn’t nearly as annoying to have listed as a revamp of the blurb over and over again (didn’t I say this annoys me?).

I’ve seen a lot of other things that people tend to post that I could take or leave, though some have been more interesting than others. Something like a page count really doesn’t matter to me in most situations because I do nearly all of my reading digitally and those don’t always have page numbers. I can see how this would be really helpful to some readers. I do like to know if the book is really just a short story as opposed to a full length novel or even some massive tomb that is going to take days for me to read, but a specific page count isn’t that important to me.

Listing the publisher is another one that really doesn’t make a difference to me. I used to feel the same about release dates, but now that I’m reviewing ARCs I’ve started including it to make it clear that the book may not even be available just yet.

Something that kind of bothers me is when, at least in blog posts, there isn’t a link to the book. This can be a link back to the book on an author’s website, to Goodreads or any of the places it can be purchased, but I like to be able to find a book without having to go hunt it down. It isn’t all that common an event, but I’ve actually ran into some problems finding a few books I wanted to look into more because there wasn’t a link provided and a simple search didn’t bring it up without digging deeper (thank you algorithms that tell us what we want to look at rather than giving us what we asked for).

I REALLY need to see the cover of the book. It doesn’t even have to be huge or overly prominent. It just needs to be there. Book covers are nearly as important as having a blurb and leaving that out tends to make me want to skip over a review. Again, this is only a blog thing, but I do think it is hugely important. Kind of like the link to the book.

Then there is the obvious, your opinion. I wouldn’t think this would be necessary to point out, but I’ve actually seen reviews that never really get to this point. They only consist of a slightly expanded revamp of the blurb and that is all you get out of it. When I read a review, I really want to know what someone thought of it. What they liked. What they didn’t like. Did it make them laugh or cry? Where the characters dull and lifeless or did you want to become best friends with them? I’m not talking just a simple star rating either. I do think those are important as well, but it doesn’t tell you much if you don’t have the words to go with it and to back it up. I’ve never really understood the point in summarizing a book and not giving your opinion on it in a book review.

Everyone is different and look for different things in a book review. Some really like a much shorter review, some like really detailed, in depth reviews. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle and tip either direction on occasion, both in how I write and what I want to see. Is there anything in particular you need to see in a review? Are there certain tendencies that you sometimes see that bug you and wish people would just stop doing? (I’m refraining from showing my grumpy old hag mode and avoiding the topic of .gifs here) Do you have different expectations depending on where the review is posted?

Researching New Tablets, Suggestions?

I think I got my first ereader, a Kindle, somewhere in 2012. I had all kinds of issues with it and had the first one replaced by Amazon. When the second started having the same issues less than a year later and long after the warranty expired, I began coveting Hubby’s amazing Nexus 7 because it was so much more versatile. We did some poking around and found it was probably the best option at the time (I’m only guessing that the time frame was in 2014).

Initially, I was really skeptical about how I felt about ebooks as I was a hardcore, have to have it in my hands, gotta own it, book reader at the time. My Nexus changed my mind completely and I’ve loved it to pieces ever since. The last couple of years, the poor thing has just been limping along, though. Whatever app I’m using (usually Kindle) will lock up and I have to close out my app, clear the cache, do a force stop on the app and restart to get it working again. Most times, I have to go through this process several times before it actually starts working again. I’m often even forced to restart the device a time or two before whatever is causing the glitch to clear up. Over the course of a few hours of reading, I will have to go through this process at least a couple of times, and more recently and frequently, more than a dozen.

I have removed every single thing from it except my reading apps. I have done all kinds of things (update/upgrades, uninstalled and reinstalled software, factory reset) and nothing has helped. I ended up stealing Hubby’s from him (he never actually used his) hoping maybe it was just something wrong with mine. His was perfectly fine after a factory reset until I got everything set up and started reading when his started doing the exact same things mine was before I transferred.

In technology terms, my little Nexus is probably the equivalent of a crotchety 90 year old with a walker and chronic constipation. It has a very similar attitude in that it will only go when it wants to and nothing is going to push it even a millisecond faster than it wants to go.

I’m now faced with the daunting task of researching a replacement. I kind of hate it because my Nexus technically works. It turns on. The apps do run, just not well, but it is becoming nearly impossible to actually use. Every time it throws a fit and locks up, I wonder if this is going to be the time I can’t get it back up again.

I’m not a fan of proprietary devices such as the Fires or the Apple products. What I am seeing with the little bit of research I’ve done is that outside of those, your choices are extremely limited because people are either using their phones or their laptops. I still love the smaller size (my Nexus is only a 7in display) and being able to carry it around with me or to walk around while I’m reading, but you have even fewer choices in those smaller sizes. My phone screen is too far on the small end of the size scale, so that isn’t much of an option.

It doesn’t help that I’m experiencing extreme creative envy over the kids’ new Chromebooks this year as they have the most amazing drawing stylus included and the keyboard folds flat so it can act like a tablet. I did look, but these are just WAY too big for what I will mostly use it for. I already have a laptop, so I don’t want or need anything like that.

I love the Samsung products, but I’m not really 100% happy with any of my choices there. There is one that I’m drooling over, but it is bigger than I want and so much more than I want to spend on what I will mostly use just to read. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. I need to do something because my poor Nexus has come way to close to growing wings and learning to fly through the window one too many times lately.

If you read on a device, what do you use? Do you use it for more than just reading? What do you like or not like about it? Definitely looking for input if for no other reason than to try and convince myself I really don’t need that overly extravagant tablet to read my books on. Even if it does have the super nifty pen thingy.

On My TBR – August 2019 Edition

The bare bones of my August TBR list, as always, I’ll probably read way more than this, but this is what is waiting to be read:

Shadow's Bane
Shadow’s Bane

Shadow’s Bane – Dorna Basarab #4 (yes, this one is a hold over from last month)

Genre: Fantasy/Urban

 

 

 

 

Fated
Fated

Fated – Book #1 Alex Verus

Genre: Fantasy/Uban/Paranormal

 

 

 

 

 

The Scribe
The Scribe

The Scribe

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Crime

 

 

 

 

 

 

August’s Anxiously Awaiting Release:

The Blacksmith Queen
The Blacksmith Queen

The Blacksmith Queen – Book #1 in The Scarred Earth Saga

Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Comes out August 27th
Requested via NetGalley

 

 

 

 

On Hold At The Library (should be in for this month’s TBR):

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance

 

 

 

 

 

Caged
Caged

Caged

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Book Review: Three Mages and A Margarita, The Guild Codex: Spellbound – Book 1

Author: Annette Marie
Book Name: Three Mages and A Margarita
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Series: The Guild Codex: Spellbound
Order: #1
Genre: Paranormal Urban/Fantasy
Overall SPA: 4.5 Stars
4.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.

It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview—to see if I’d mesh with their “special” clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That’s the definition of fitting in, right?

I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they… offered me the job?

It turns out this place isn’t a bar. It’s a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I’m exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there’s a good reason no one else wants to work here.

So what’s a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4.5/5 Stars
Uniqueness Factor: 4/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 4.5/5 Stars

This was such a fun and exciting read! It was cute and funny and intense. While there are typical elements found in a lot of other books in this genre, this one felt a little new and different from what I normally see.

One of those differences, and probably one of my favorites, is that our main character isn’t some magical badass hero. She is a human that stumbles into the magical side of this world. She doesn’t have any special powers, unless you consider snark and smartass to be super powers (which I kinda do). She is also bold and gutsy. Powers or no, she can hold her own, which I really enjoyed.

The guys are also funny, but not class clowns that can’t take things seriously, a deadly combination when it comes to character personalities in my book. While they are magical badasses to some extent, they aren’t invincible, their best being when they work together.

Another thing that I really loved about this was that, while there were all kinds of flirty teasing going on, this wasn’t an overblown romance. There is definitely some interest going on, but that isn’t the focus of the story. I love a good romance in a book, but it is nice every once in a while to see something a little different.

I enjoyed this so much I’ve already got the next one in the series cued up and ready to go.

 

 

 

Book Review: Tethered to the World, Phantom Touched – Book 1

Author: Stacey Brutger
Book Name: Tethered to the World
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Series: Phantom Touched
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance/Reverse Harem
Overall SPA: 3.5
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: ONE TOUCH CAN SAVE YOU FROM CERTAIN DEATH…OR SENTENCE YOU TO AN ETERNITY IN HELL.

Born with the ability to defy death, Annora has been warned to keep her gift secret, but her greedy uncle can’t resist exploiting her by any means necessary. Starvation, beatings, broken bones–she’s survived them all and emerged stronger. But it’s not enough for him. It will never be enough. When she discovers her uncle plans to sell her to the highest bidder, she risks everything to escape the prison that has become her life.

The last thing she expected was to land at a university for supernaturals…or be paired with a pack of men as broken as her. As students go missing, Annora can’t get over the suspicion that she’s being hunted. To protect her, the guys must set aside their personal troubles and begin working as a team. But as her past collides with her present, she must make the ultimate sacrifice and expose her secrets to save the guys who’ve become more than family to her…and hope she’s strong enough to live with the consequences.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 3.5/5 Stars
Peeve Factor: 3/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 3.5/5 Stars

A couple of areas got dinged in this for me. One is the missing genre tags on Amazon. This was not marked as being a Reverse Harem. Yes, I really should have picked that up from the blurb, but didn’t. I also should have checked Goodreads as it does have that tag there, so this is only a small ding. The other missing tag is the new adult tag. I’m also not giving this a heavy ding with that because you don’t actually know the ages of the guys, but Annora is mentioned as being 20 and this has a college like setting, though that isn’t the bulk of the plot. This skirts the edges of that tag, but it still kind of applies.

The other one, and this one is a big one for me as it is a massive peeve of mine, is that this ends in a huge cliffhanger. More times than not, I will avoid books with a cliffhanger because they tick me off. Especially when it is a new book and the other books in the series haven’t even been written yet as is the case with this book. I have no problems with continuing story arcs across a series, but I need each book in that series to have an encapsulated story that gets wrapped up in each book. Or at least comes to a clean end. This is one great big cliff to hang on to, which really irritated me as I did really enjoy the rest of the book.

Even though I haven’t been a huge fan of reverse harem books in the past, this one was done pretty well so far. There aren’t a lot of games played within the group. None of the typical teeny-bopper-angsty drama. I did tend to get confused early on as to which one of the guys was which. There were a couple of times I was certain the wrong name was used in referring to one of the guys. The characters are decently mature, intelligent and likable (loved Mason) and I loved their different shifters and abilities.

I am a bit of a sucker for shifter type stories and even more so when they aren’t all the typical shifters. You absolutely get the not typical in this, which was a really refreshing take on that theme, with the exception of the wolves being on the stereotypical side as the mostly bad guys.

I’m not a huge fan of the college like setting as it isn’t something I typically enjoy and, so far, that setting hasn’t really been justified. There isn’t much of an actual purpose to it, which makes it even less appealing to me. Past that and the issues I mentioned above, I enjoyed the story and the interesting shifters and characters. I mostly enjoyed the world being built here, but there isn’t enough of it to really understand it yet.

Will I read the next book in the series? Probably, but depending on where it goes, it would be just as easy for me to drop it after that.

Other areas of note (not included in the SPA rating):

Cover: 4/5 Stars

I thought this cover was really pretty and I love the effect it creates. I probably like the cover way more than I like the book.

Book Review: The Road She Left Behind – Christine Nolfi

Author: Christine Nolfi
Book Name: The Road She Left Behind
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life
Overall SPA: 3.5 Stars
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Crushed by guilt over the car accident that killed her father and sister, and torn apart by her mother’s resentment, Darcy Goodridge fled her family estate eight years ago and hasn’t looked back. Now an unexpected phone call threatens to upend what little serenity she’s found. Her nephew, Emerson, who was just a baby when his mother died, has gone missing. Darcy must return home and face her past in order to save him.

Once back in Ohio, Darcy realizes there’s more to Emerson’s disappearance—and to the sudden retirement of her mother, Rosalind—than meets the eye. As she works to make inroads with Rosalind, Darcy begins to unravel a decades-old secret that devastated her family and forced a wedge between her and Michael Varano, the man she left heartbroken when she vanished after the funeral. After carrying the scars of that fateful night for almost a decade, Darcy is determined to find closure, healing, and maybe even love where she lost them all in the first place—right back home where she belongs.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 3.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

This is an emotional book about family, which is one of my most enjoyed types of books. It is also the type that, for me, needs to have a really strong level of believability for those emotions to be evoked. There were bits and pieces that were a stretch for me to believe and is the only reason I didn’t rate this higher because it was a really good story otherwise.

One was the background behind Darcy leaving in the first place. It isn’t something that is really ever addressed. We know the events leading up to it, but you are never given the final match that lit the fuse that forced her to leave. The reader is lead to believe it was something specific that Darcy’s mother said that forced her away, but you aren’t ever shown that event in any way. It was only ever eluded to, so it left that piece feeling weak.

The other was the whiplash like change in attitudes and personality that come about when certain things are revealed. Yes, people can change, but they don’t do so overnight just because some long buried secret comes out, especially when it kind of isn’t much of a secret.

While those things didn’t play a huge part in how I felt about the story, they did lessen the overall emotional impact of the story, though it was still a good book.

 

 

 

Getting Into The ARC Swing & Questions

Since the whole ARC book thing is still so new to me, I’m still learning what to expect. I kind of thought I’d understood it with the first 3. One was an already released book (by a couple of days when I got it). One was a couple of days ahead of release and another was a little over a month out from its release date.

The one I just started reading isn’t due out until October. I started reading expecting a similar experience to the first 3 books. Uh… nope. This one is actually still pretty raw, at least with regards to formatting. I’m talking RAW.

It was bad enough that I struggled
to
get through that f irst couple of
chap
ters. I’m talking it was nearly impossible to f igureout what went
where. Where a
para
graph ended and where one began. Where one speaker started and another one stopped.

See that lovely mess above? Yeah, that is what I’m talking about. Every word that started with an F had a space after the F making it stand out from the rest of the word. Some words were split and on different lines. There were lines with only a single word. Basically, it was extremely difficult to read. I had to constantly stop and reread lines because it wasn’t flowing easily and my mind kept wanting to stop at those obvious breaks.

I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t want to not finish it. I loved the premise or I wouldn’t have requested it in the first place. That and not finishing a book can really ding you on requests (at least that’s what I’ve seen). But I also wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep it up for the entire book in the state it was in. I went and looked to see what others had written about their feedback and I didn’t see a single comment about formatting, so I didn’t know if this was just a thing that ARC readers have to be able to see past or what. It was never an issue with the other books I read.

I did manage to plow through and it looks like the following chapters are 1000% better. There are still a few things that are bugging me, but they are things I’m not entirely sure are a stylistic thing or an editing/formatting thing. Since this is something that can potentially change, how does that impact a review? This is something that has been kind of wiggling around in the back of my mind since I figured out a bit more about ARCs.

If what I’m seeing in this book is common for an ARC that is that far out, how can a reader provide an honest review if they are forced to overlook problems that could potentially still exist in the published copy? Like I said, I didn’t not have a problem with the first 3 books I read, but this one has been a struggle and I’m only about 20% in.

Moment of Gratitude

I had this moment of realization yesterday when I was contemplating writing my review for my first ever ARC. I am kind of living in this moment of fantasy right now. I am at a place in my life I never dreamed I’d be outside of those “Wouldn’t it be nice?” kinds of thoughts. Yet, here I am. And I am astoundingly grateful for it.

I have now gotten a second ARC approval and it is another book on my list of “I’d LOVE to get, but probably never will.” This was part of that moment of realization. Yes, it is only two books, but… I am now getting books for the express purpose of reviewing them before most people get their hands on them. That is an amazing thing to me.

I have also actually done something I never thought I’d EVER do: I wrote and published my own book. And it is selling. It is making the kind of impact with readers that I’d hoped for. It may still be very much on the tiny scale of things, but it is on the scale. This is also stunning to me.

As a person that has spent the bulk of their adult life focused on being Mom and struggling for years with who I am outside of that role, these things are massive for me. I am in awe that these are now facts in my life, that they are a tangible part of that life. It is though I can feel how these seemingly small things are cementing their place in who I am.

There have been so many things over time and throughout my life that have been damaging and hurtful. Because of that, I have actively spent the last several years trying to find the positive things, the things that bring me joy and most days, I’m good at finding those things. Photography has been a huge part of that for me. So have my kids and my Hubby. But these things? They feel different. They feel healing in a very different way. They make me feel a little bit more solid in who I am.

And I am massively grateful.