Friday, September 8, 2023
Saturday, December 31, 2022
I should have known by the water leak last New Year's Eve that 2022 wasn't shaping up to be an "easy" year. That leak led to a series of unfortunate events which necessitated many expensive repairs to our house, so expensive I had to go back to work. I now have a booth in Benbrook Antique Mall with a business name of "Third Time's the Charm" which has been slightly profitable this first year and more enjoyable than I anticipated. After trying unsuccessfully to sell our house (and moving out most of the stuff in the process to "show" the house) we resigned ourselves to staying in it and moved back in.
Needless to say, all those months of turmoil were not conducive to reading much fiction. Most of what I read, in fact, was for other indie authors--beta reading, proofreading, and in two cases, content editing.
I despaired of finishing my WIP, Fiona's Gift, but thankfully it came together and I managed to publish it over the summer, praise God! I have barely begun on the last in Mercy's Children series, and pray my words will return soon.
Another impediment to much reading has been failing eyesight. In the words of not one but TWO eye doctors, I have the "weirdest" eyes they've ever seen. I had to go back to the opthalmologist in our previous town to get a diagnosis of epiretinal membrane but I've decided not to do the surgery, which has extreme risks, especially since it's my only seeing eye. I'm just learning to cope with the vision I do have (it's like seeing the world through a wrinkled piece of cellophane) and be grateful.
So, I only read 25 books this year, and a good percentage of those were short ones. Thankfully there were some wonderful reads, and I can recommend these to you:
#10 War Between Worlds by Madelyn Braddock
This is a debut fantasy novel by a teen author that combines thoughtful world-building, interesting characters, and action, adventure, and a mystery. Book 2 is in the works.
#9 Fire from the Midst by Sarah Ashwood
This is book 3 of 4 in a suspenseful, gritty urban fantasy series combining a war between rival gangs of shapeshifters from Greek mythology and an unusual romance. Not my usual genre, but I've read other books by this author and got sucked into book 1 with her excellent writing skills!
#8 Fear by Corinna Turner
This is #7 in the unSPARKed dinosaur dystopian series that has become one of my all-time favorites, and not just because of the dinos! Turner's characters are unforgettable, and she makes the reader care deeply about what happens to them!
#7 In Other Words by Julie B. Cosgrove
This is book 3 in Cosgrove's fun cozy mystery series. I love her characters and the clever ways she weaves the plots around word play.
#6 All in Good Time by Carolyn Astfalk
This is a sweet contemporary romance with darker elements that bring to light current prevalent sins, but overall the story is uplifting with memorable and lovable characters.
#5 A Right Rex Rodeo by Corinna Turner
This is #6 in the dino series and is especially fascinating in its details of the hunter culture in Turner's realistic future world.
#4 Hang on Every Word by Julie B. Cosgrove
Book 4 in Cosgrove's mystery series is not quite as light as the others, and in some ways is the best so far! The MC is so human but relatable and admirable too!
#3 A Different Kind of Camouflage by Corinna Turner
A powerful episode #8 in the dino series, still suspenseful even though it takes place in the city and not outside the electrified fences where dinos are the obvious (but not the only) danger.
#2 Please Don't Feed the Dinosaurs by Corinna Turner
#1 A Different Kind of Freedom by Corinna Turner
This latest episode #9 in the dino series is so powerful, it was by far the best book I read this year (and for the past few years). Turner is a master at writing about characters of faith in mortal peril. I highly recommend this book, but it is best read as part of the series.
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Powerful, emotional story about one of my favorite characters ever
Monday, October 24, 2022
The Book Dragon has finished Corinna Turner's A Different Kind of Camouflage, book 8 in the unSPARKed series and gives it a ripping 5 claws!
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
For awhile, I feared I had lost my ability to write. I had planned to finish Fiona's Gift in January and publish in March or April, but I couldn't concentrate, either on writing or reading books of any kind. But I kept pushing ahead, sometimes only writing a couple sentences or paragraphs a day, determined to slog through the drought of words. The book was complicated by the fact that the headstrong Fiona changed the plot on me. Good thing I let her, though, because it made the story much stronger. It also turned out to be the longest novel I've ever written--156,000 words!
I was able to finish, to my great relief. The Kindle version releases June 24, but it will be next month before the paperback will be ready, in part because the manuscript is so long, and because I have to remember how to format. Because Fiona's story changed, Tristam's will, too. I hope to begin the last book in this series as soon as possible.
Also because of something that happens in this book (totally unexpected), a third series is percolating inside my head: Mercy's Grandchildren. I really, truly thought Tristam's story would be the end of my time in Levathia, but the characters have taken on a life of their own, and I no longer control their lives. I am merely a scribe to record the stories they wish to be recorded. One of the strangest (and coolest) things that has ever happened to me!
Fiona is Mercy's most difficult child: headstrong to the nth degree. Her story is a kind of "prodigal daughter" tale (along with the further adventures of Val and Emma, and getting to know Tristam better). Even I didn't know what her "gift" would be until I finished writing the book! I hope and pray it is a satisfying read and an encouragement, which is always my goal, along with glorifying God my Father.
I have dedicated this book to a precious young mother who lost her life last December while battling covid in a hospital. I never had the opportunity to meet Allie in person, but she and I connected on FaceBook after her mother introduced her to Mercy & the gang. Allie was such an enthusiastic participant in my FB launch party for Mercy's Joy, which I designed to "feel" like an actual coronation party with a medieval tournament. For the first time I was SO tempted to give her one of the prizes, even though random(dot)org never once picked her number! She was so sweet to message me with heartfelt thanks that reading how Mercy and Valerian and Kieran handled the extreme trials in their lives encouraged her in her own struggles. That has been an unexpected blessing of this author journey--to connect with readers on such a deep level, I felt like a family member died when sweet Allie succumbed to the ventilator.
May you find joy in the midst of trials, for there is definitely joy to be found when we open our eyes!
Fiona's Gift on Amazon is 99 cents to preorder, and if I forget to change the price, like I did last year for Valerian's Flight, it will still be 99 cents after launch date. My chemo-induced brain damage is your gain! LOL
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
What a strange year for reading and writing and (lack of) concentration! I struggled to finish what I thought was going to be the easiest to write in my current fantasy series and felt a huge sense of relief when I published it in July. So far book 4 is flowing easier, but the story is veering away from what I thought it was going to be, so it will be interesting to see how this difficult character redeems herself....
Meanwhile, though I'm not including any on this list, I read much more nonfiction than I have in a long time, mainly because I made a New Year's resolution to develop a green thumb. I knew I couldn't grow plants the way my father did, or my sisters do, so I did it my way: science projects! I've managed to keep 90% of my houseplants thriving, but I'm still failing spectacularly with outside plants in this unforgiving climate. I'll keep trying!
Much of the fiction I read this year was by the same author, the fabulous Corinna Turner, which is why so many of her books appear in this list. I only "met" my Goodreads goal by counting Gerald and Piggie books I read aloud with my 7 year old granddaughter. Author Mo Willems does a fabulous job of writing fun and accessible books for struggling readers, and I appreciate him for encouraging my granddaughter and grandson to love books, but I haven't included any of those books in this list.
#10: The Guardian series by Kathryn Braddock
I read books 2 and 3 this year, and I must say, this teen author is so good at getting inside a wolf's head and making these characters believably realistic! If you like fantasy with wolves, I recommend beginning with the first book, as the trilogy is episodic.
#9: Her Mistletoe Mistake by Franky A. Brown
Romance is not my favorite genre, but Brown is especially good at writing "rom com" and this story is no exception! Ski-instructor Chloe and serviceman Nathan have both been burned in the recent past, but when they meet there are fireworks of all different kinds. A fun Christmas story with two lovable MCs and a cast of well-rounded minor characters set in the fictional town of Mistletoe, Colorado.
#8: Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk
This is an unusual love story about two teens, Paul and Rachel, but also involves a mystery about historical artifacts. The characters are real and engaging, and the setting is so well-drawn, the reader feels transported to the place. There is a strong theme of chastity and waiting until marriage, and the story deals realistically with the temptations faced by every teen in love.
#7: Liberation: A Dystopian Novel about Courage, Freedom, and Sacrifice by Corinna Turner
This is the third book in Turner's incredible I Am Margaret series, and it continues where the last book left off. Margaret, Bane, Jon, and the rest of the exiles are as safe as possible from the vengeful EuroGov, but Margaret can't help but think about how to liberate other teens destined to be killed to recycle their organs. So liberate they do, but at a very high cost. Nail-biting action and suspense! I recommend you start with book 1: I Am Margaret. You will never forget the courage of this amazing young woman!
#6: Word Has It by Julie B. Cosgrove
Mystery has never been my favorite genre, but Cosgrove writes fun cozy Christian mystery series. This is book 1 in a new series, and I love the way the author weaves the stories around word-themed clues, since her MC Wanda loves to play Scrabble with her nephew the policeman in a small Texas town. Wanda is believable and makes you want to give her a hug, and her friends and neighbors are all realistic, from the sensible to the zany to the suspicious. Recommended, even if you don't read mysteries!
#5: Marrying Emma by Melanie D. Snitker
I've read several other books by this terrific author. She writes Christian romance, and although romance is not my favorite genre, Snitker is SO good at writing sympathetic characters with whom it is easy to relate and cheer for. This book has two especially sympathetic characters: Marty who has lost a leg in an accident, and Emma who has had a heart transplant. Both are lonely but neither believes they'll find someone who can live with their medical challenges. This book can be read as a standalone in the series Brides of Clearwater, but it's good enough it will make you want to read more of them!
#4: Wild Life by Corinna Turner
This is #5 in Turner's excellent unSPARKed dystopian series, set in a future United States with dinosaurs. I used to despise dystopian novels until I discovered this author. She has created courageous and sympathetic characters with whom it is easy to love and admire, and focuses more on their spiritual lives while they are surviving in harsh and unforgiving places. I recommend you begin with book 1, since this series is episodic, but if you ever liked dinosaurs, it is worth your time, and you may find a new favorite series, like I have!
#3: A Dino Whisperer at the Zoo by Corinna Turner
Okay, this one is technically a short story, but it is SO good and can be read as a standalone from Turner's dinosaur series AND as a bonus, it's free on Amazon, so check it out! This author is SO good at writing heart-stopping action.
#2: Breach! by Corinna Turner
This is a stand-alone prequel novel in the unSPARKed series, and is well-written, compelling, and blew me away that Turner could write a dystopian novel with such a powerful pro-life theme! As a bonus, it details the origin of my favorite character in this world.
#1: Heartless Hette by M. L. Farb
Even though this book is #3 in a series, it is a stand-alone in every way. And oddly enough, when I first began this book, which became my favorite read of the year, I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish it. Farb is one of my new favorite writers, but Hette was not a very sympathetic character at first. As I continued, I saw why. This is the story of her journey--not just a physical quest, but a test of character for her. And what a magnificent journey it is, full of twists and turns, totally unpredictable! I loved the section with the riddles, and the wonderful supporting characters. I was fully immersed in this story and could feel the mud and grit, the unbearable tension and despair. The ending was completely satisfying and very unexpected! Highly recommended for all ages.
Friday, November 26, 2021