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What’s on the Blog

One of my favorite places to be is in a book. I read a wide variety. Books are food for the mind and soul, and I cannot seem to restrict myself to one genre.

My novel writing, on the other hand, is focused on young adult contemporary novels and novels for the general market.

Every week I blog about books I’m reading. I usually post an author interview, news from my bookish friends, or writing related updates about once a month.

About My Novel Writing

I tend to write about people who are facing tough times. I’ve written about grief, eating disorders, abandonment, and other difficult issues. There isn’t always a romantic element, but when there is the romances are sweet. Endings aren’t sugar coated, but I always strive to leave my readers with a sense of hope. No graphic language, sex, or violence, just plenty of heart tugging emotion and laughing. My fiction has a slight to rich southern flavor, depending on the book. I have two books featuring a character on the autism spectrum. I am currently seeking representation while I continue to work on my craft.

I spend most of my writing time working on my novels, but I blog here and on my homeschool blog, Undaunted Homeschool.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura, a socially awkward 36 year old woman, has worked at her local convenience store for years. Keiko struggles with social interaction, but at the store, she thrives on the rules, procedures, and structure. She studies the interactions and becomes adept at being an exemplary employee. Here is a world she can understand and succeed in, but her family feels she is wasting her life and education. They pressure her to find a romantic partner and to do something better with her life. Keiko’s story is told with deadpan humor. Translated from Japanese. 

What a great read! It was weirdly engrossing and different in a good way.

Quirky and funny.

I LOVED the book, but was left slightly off balance by two instances of dark humor.

I didn’t see the end coming, but it makes perfect sense and is the perfect resolution for this story.

Easy to read. Recommended. 

 

 

Book Treasures, Classics Challenge, and What I’m Reading

I am super excited to have come across this book today.

Janet McNally’s style shows her past as a poet. Music seems to play a large part in her writing, and I suspect she enjoys the play of words as much as the unfolding of the story.

I can’t wait to dig into this one. Interestingly, it’s about a ballet dancer, as is one of my (still unpublished because I’m looking for an agent) young adult books.

I’m a few pages in and hope I like it as much as I enjoyed her previous book, Girls in the Moon.

I just finished reading My Antonia by Willa Cather as part of the #2020classics reading challenge. I found it completely engrossing. If you are hesitant to read classics because you think they are boring or hard to understand, give this one a try. It was easy to read and rich with history and emotion.

I’m also rereading The Screwtape Letters, trying to stick to a chapter a day and think about the topics.

What book treasures, old or new, have you discovered (or rediscovered) lately?

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

A must read for all teens and preteens. This one knocked my socks off. My emotions took ever, the strongest of which was anger. The story ends satisfactorily, although I wanted harsher revenge on one particular character. Rarely do I have a character I love to hate, but the mother of the bully is on my short list of fictional characters I despise. Told from multiple points of view, all aspects of the situations arising from an incident of cyberbullying are put under the microscope. My kindle did not read the headings, and yet I was easily able to tell which character’s POV the story was in. That’s good writing.

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Must Read

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Complex

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engrossing

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Year in Book Reviews 2019

I’m sharing a few of my favorite reads of 2019. I read up to four books a week sometimes and find it difficult to post about every single book. I selected these from the ones I managed to blog about. Click on the title to read more of what I think about them.

Have you read any of these?

Favorite MG

Mockingbird

A Monster Calls

Both of these left me in a puddle. Mockingbird had a few moments of humor and was realistic, while A Monster Calls was achingly beautiful and veered into fantasy.

Science Fiction

Kindred 

This one had me captured from the first page.

Contemporary with An Autistic Character

What to Say Next

An unusual serious contemporary with romantic elements. A great read.

The Girl He used to Know

A second chance romance with all the feels.

The State of Grace

Strong voice and likable character.

Notable Novels About Grief

I know grief seems to be a theme, but since that’s what I am writing, I ended up reading YA contemporary novels about it.

The Boy in the Black Suit

Loved this one. So touching.

A Monster Calls

Also listed above, because it is that good.

Contemporary YA About Social Issues

Moxie

Yes. Read this one.

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

Dual voices. A great book. Two girls get caught in a riot. Deals with race issues.

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Heartbreaking and oh so relevant. How PTSD can wreak a family.

Historical YA

Beyond the Bright Sea

Beautifully written. Captivating.

Classic

Jane Eyre

If you haven’t read it, go get a copy!

RomCom

Blind Dates, Bridesmaids and Other Disasters

Funny and cute. A light, enjoyable read.

Fairy-tale Retelling

Cinder

Well done and interesting.

Detective/Mystery

The Child Finder

A little dark but grabbed me and didn’t let go.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Loved the voice. Great characters. Cozy.

Shakespeare Retelling

Vinegar Girl

The Taming of the Shrew in a modern setting. Had me laughing.

What were some of your favorite reads of 2019?

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Post @ Almost an Author: Goals

How did you do with your goals this year?

I think I will call 2019 my  “experience” year. I made many mistakes, but I learned form them! In fact, I am considering blogging a series titled “What I learned”.

I plan to begin querying again in January with a much revised manuscript, and also with a couple of new manuscripts. Wish me luck.

I posted about goal setting over at Almost an Author today. Click here to read.

I’m leaving my free Christmas story up for a bit longer. If you’d like to read or listen to an audio of me reading it, hop on over to my main site @ donnajostone.com.

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls-Anissa Gray

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls-Anissa Gray

This book was jam packed with emotion. Talk about a complicated family life. 

What struck me was the fact that the family members still tried to have relationships with each other even though their past wounds had formed and shaped them, teaching them to deal with life in a variety of unhealthy ways. The book is uncomfortable to read at times, and I had the feeling I was eavesdropping on intensely personal moments have a family in crisis. At the same time I found it difficult to put the book down. It’s one of those books that makes you examine your own family history, and either be grateful you survived, or grateful you didn’t experience certain situations. Possibly both.

The characters in this book had tremendous depth. 

This is a novel that explores various issues that could be triggering for some people.

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

“Some people see the liquid and think half full. Others only see the air and think half empty. Sometimes I get the sense Chatham sees it all, which is kind of terrifying. I don’t know if I want him to see me–the real me.”

This book caught my eye because I love the Emily Dickinson quote and I loved the cover. It’s been on my list for quite some time.

Emilie is struggling with the loss of her father, who died from a terminal illness four years ago. She also has epilepsy.

I had loads of sympathy for the main character and liked her right away. It is an easy to read, sweet, heartwarming type story. Emilie must navigate a new environment and learns that she has been wrong about many of her assumptions. It has a bit of romance, a bit of mother/daughter relationship (y’all know I love a good mother/daughter story), and, of course, it is a hopeful book as the title indicates. I love a book that is about hope.

I will confess, I got a little teary sometimes. I found myself chuckling every now and then, as well.

Emily Dickinson is given quite a few nods, which I appreciate. I learned something about her that I did not know. 

The story ties everything together nicely.

I liked it.