We’re halfway through the year now, and I can count on one hand how many published books I’ve read. Not that I haven’t been reading–I’ve had plenty of clients in my editing business to keep me reading every minute of the day. I love working on their manuscripts, love discovering their story worlds, but time for pleasure reading has been almost non-existent this year.
What I’ve read so far . . .
Searching for Grace Kelly is my favorite novel so far this year. It’s mainstream, so those with more tender sensibilities may want to pass this one up, and it’s character-driven Women’s Fiction, so it may not appeal to anyone needing more action in the stories they read.
But what I love about Michael Callahan’s debut novel is his holistic approach to characterization. I’ve written an article about it for November’s Southern Writers Magazine, so I won’t go too deeply into his technique here (just in case they accept the article), but I will say I’ll be adopting it in the future. Of all the personality paradigms and characterization models out there, I’m most impressed with his.
Of course, his characterization isn’t the only reason I liked the book–it’s just a good novel. Three women from entirely different backgrounds converge on 1955 Manhattan and learn some intense lessons about themselves and life. Searching for Grace Kelly may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s on the list of books I’d save from my shelf if the house caught fire.
Side by Side is a fascinating tale of two women in Islam-controlled Sudan, Africa, one a missionary, the other a young, upper-class college student. The author, a Texan named Jana Kelley, is a missionary to Africa and the Middle East, and her novel incorporates things she knows from first-hand experience.
Jana exposes things we, as Americans, don’t know about Muslim women and the culture they live in, but she also lets us know how lonely it can be for a wife and mother living in a strange place. While her husband is at work day by day, winning the world for Jesus, she raises her kids and battles language barriers and cultural differences, awaiting her turn to serve the Lord. Her turn finally comes, and it tips her world on its side.
I read Donn E. Taylor’s The Lazarus File just for fun. This novel is in one of my favorite genres–political intrigue. I love Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, and others who write in this genre, and Donn fits right up there.
I rarely get to read things like this. Usually, the books on my shelf are written by friends or they’re entries from a contest I volunteered to judge, and these days, the genres are Women’s Fiction, Romance, and–believe it or not–Spec Fic (including the YA varieties). Heading to Columbia to capture and conquer drug lords and protect a beautiful woman doesn’t fit easily into any of these categories.
I’ve read several of Donn’s books, and he never fails to sink me deeply in to his stories. Regardless of how serious his novel is, he still finds ways to toss in his wonderful, dry wit. He’s definitely one of my favorites.
I’ve been trying to read the novels written by some of our ACFW faves. I’m embarrassed to say how few of the “big names” I’ve read. I can now move Cara Putman to the “read” list to take her place with Deborah Raney, Brandilynn Collins, Dineen Miller, and Bill Meyers.
Shadowed by Grace is a WWII historical romance about Rachel, a young photojournalist whose mother is dying. Rachel is sent on assignment to war-torn Italy, where she strives to capture the horrors on film, but also seeks her estranged father in hopes he can provide financial support to help pay for her mother’s medical bills.
She finds him, and the man God has chosen for her, in this dramatic novel inspired by the Monuments Men. I’m anxious to see what happens during her search.
Just like every other reader I know, my TBR list is wide and deep. I should start at the top and work down, but I tend to start with whatever I’m in the mood for or which grabs my attention first. This time, deciding what to read next is easy: Betty Thomason Owens’s Carlotta’s Legacy just came in yesterday, and I’m itching to dive into this 1920s historical romance.
Betty is a dear friend who landed a contract with Write Integrity Press. I’m excited for her and proud of her. She’s a wonderful lady, and I can’t wait to see what she’s written!
One novel I’ve intended to finish reading but haven’t yet–hate getting waylaid and off course, is Sarah E. Morin’s Waking Beauty. At 467 pages, this novel is longer than what I generally read, which is why I started it and couldn’t finish because of other reading obligations. I don’t believe anything else is coming up, so I should be able to read all 467 pages without interruption.
A twist on the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, Waking Beauty is a more literal depiction of what would’ve happened when the prince came to awaken the princess. First, for instance, he had to dust her off well enough to find a safe place for his lips to land.
Beauty, for her part, has been asleep for 100 years–so that’s years and years, hours and hours of dreaming. Just because this prince guy is with her now doesn’t mean he isn’t just another figment of her imagination. But, hey, she goes with the flow.
I can’t believe I had to put this one down and I can’t wait to finish it! This one will probably land in my “most fun novel” category for 2016!
There’s my list for now. I hope to fit in tons more pleasure reading this year not just for the entertainment, but because I learn so much through other authors. Let the lessons begin!
And, just in case you had the nerve! to forget, I have a book out too. Keep The Final Ride in mind next time you go shopping at Amazon!