The Last Book I Wasn’t Crazy For But Read Anyway

Welcome to the fourth week of March, everyone. Finally, spring is upon us! I have been ‘snow done’ for a while now; I was definitely done with polar cold before it started, but temps in my area are supposed to hover just above or below freezing all week 😦  ). Give me the dog days of summer anytime over the chilly weather.

Nabby 03-2015 My pretty li’l Mauer McNabb always keeps me company when I’m working in the kitchen.  

Last time, I was inspired to write by suspense/thriller author Carrie Rubin, who was inspired by the ever-awesome Kristen Lamb. The discussion: Should an author publish book reviews?

In my previous post, I referred to a story I had just finished. Because I prefer to keep my ‘thoughts’ on books positive—I don’t refer to them as ‘reviews’ anymore. My ideas and/or issues are pretty subjective, thus making them MHO. One is welcome to take what s/he likes and leave the rest. 😉

Back to MHO on my most recent read. The author’s declared mainstay occupation is NOT writing, but another creative outlet, in which she is reportedly well-established. The story is inspired and built around her ‘day job.’ It pubbed traditionally by a Big-Five publisher in 2010. As an ‘author,’ my snarky side keeps asking, “Why?”

Not sure if the external plot (a.k.a., the ‘story’) or the characters kept me holding on, but something did.

The writing? Eh. Obviously, GCP thought more of it than I did.

I thought about emailing the author my issues. I’ve done so before re: other books—always as gently and kindly as I know how. I’ve never received a response from any author whenever I went there—most recently from someone who offered a book in exchange for a review. I really tried, but I couldn’t finish the book. I wrote the author’s rep and stated my reasons why—exactly what the rep asked me to do if I ran into ‘problems’ that would impact my review. Not even a ‘thank you.’

I realized most authors are not interested in my take on what their book(s) should be.

Guess what? That. Is. Okay. Saves me a lot of time writing emails loaded with editing notes and constructive criticism no one asked for in the first place. 😉

Back to Book-on-the-‘Hot Spot’:

What I liked:

(1) High-energy and fast-paced. With the exception of a back-story/flashback dump (or two), the plot held my interest and moved forward at a decent pace.

(2) Likable, interesting, well-flawed, relatable and highly human characters.

What turned me off to the point I WON’T write a ‘review’:

(1)  The author used a plethora of foreign-language words and didn’t italicize any of them. A minor issue, true, but ‘dems da rules,” right? IDK, it just turned me off, especially for a trad-pubbed, Big-Five novel.

(2) The author’s loose use of point of view (POV). Head-hopping, POVs assigned to whomever was reacting to the goings-on in a given scene, rather than sticking to the three lead characters. At times the author waxed omniscient. (That’s pretty much the exact opposite of deep POV, which I happen to love. The awesome Virginia Kantra has some great articles on POV at her website. Check them out—just scroll down the page.)

(2) The author infused a contemporary story with her love of movies. She referenced them in EACH character’s point of view (POV). Why is that an issue? I’m a product of the era of those movies, and I’m thinking the author is too. Her characters were far too young to think of themselves relative to the comparisons she used. Also would every one of them think in terms of movies? Far as I’ve learned, POV is supposed to distinguish one character’s voice from another.

(3) The author used the movie references repeatedly, typically as one “like” simile after another. Either I got more sensitive to it or she added more and more of them as the story progressed. Not only did it get old and gimmicky and sounded like “telling”, it got to the point where the similes felt random and not connected to the story. (NCIS’s “Tony DiNozzo,”—played by Michael Weatherly who looks the part of a classic movie star—is a movie buff. Tony is rarely sans a ready movie reference, but it always connects to his character AND the episode’s plot.)

(4) Lastly, I think I started paying less attention towards the end of the book, but I believe the author started introducing quotes, characters and themes at the “finale.” Forgive my snobbish attitude, but I’ve learned (via Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering) that adding new information after the second plot point and/or climax is a bit of a no-no.

Do I sound resentful b/c this writer got a big opportunity from a big-name publisher? I suppose I do, but considering I haven’t submitted anything in several years makes me think that’s not the case. (I like the indie idea better anyway.) IDK, but all the things that turned me off make me wonder why a Big-Five pubbed novel wasn’t held to a much higher standard. Just sayin’.

Have I become a reading snob? Maybe, but I’m older. My attention span and tolerance ain’t what they were eleven years ago, when I started on my writer’s journey. I’ve read a lot—I still read quite a bit. I am also more educated and experienced in writing and editing, which kills my tolerance for this kind of stuff that much more.  Sad that a really good—but not necessarily established—indie writer might not get the chance the author/celebrity of nameless book got.

So what’s my point in these long-winded pages? Maybe sharing what makes me crazy in a book can help someone else refine their skills on their authors’ journeys. Maybe I just felt like complaining about the book without bashing the author and making her or myself look bad. IDK—what say you?

Enjoy the week!

Joanna

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Conundrum: Should Authors Wear the ‘Reviewer’ Hat? (Part 2)

Hello again, and thank you for stopping in a second time this week. Here is where we left off (should you be a blog-post behind and want to catch up 🙂 ).

I’ve posted plenty of ‘thoughts on books’ at this blogsite. (They’re categorized under ‘Reviews’ and ‘Thoughts on Books”, but I no longer consider them formal ‘reviews.’ Perhaps I don’t feel qualified to ‘review’ someone else’s work. MHO maintains that critiquing someone else’s story implies I know something more and maybe that just ain’t so. )

Aside: Remembering to post my thoughts at bookseller sites is a whole ‘nother ball-of-wax. Kind of messes with the reasons why one writes them in the first place. 🙂

Like Carrie Rubin, if I do blog about a specific book, I’m going to keep it positive. Most authors invest a lot of time, effort and heart into their works. It’s no fun to feel all that input trashed by someone who didn’t like it.

I know first-hand how it feels to be on the receiving end of some really nice reviews. I’ve also had lower-number-star reviews. These were generally kind, but suggested my debut novel was just okay. (I appreciated the kindness and took the positive out of the reviewer’s thoughts.)

So how do I handle it when my (Ahem!) constructive feedback outweighs the encouraging thoughts?

One: If the book just doesn’t do it for me—even if I promised a review in exchange for a copy of the book—I’ve gone one of two ways. If I can get through it, I’ll keep it positive and hone in on the good stuff. Recently though, I emailed an author with my concerns and why I couldn’t FINISH his/her particular book. (Not that I received a response. Shoulder shrug.)

Two: I will voice my issues with a story in a blog post. I plan on doing so next time—namelessly. Not to trash the author or the book, but to offer suggestions to other writers about tactics, etc, that put me off as a reader, but as a reader-turned-writer too.

And this is where things get mucked up for those of us who wear the author/writer/reader hat. Is it a conflict of interest to consume the very product I produce? I’ve yet to meet a writer who wasn’t an avid reader. (I imagine most of us remain the latter.) My problem: my increasingly critical writer/editor side has messed with my willingness to slog through work that isn’t up to the standards I’ve learned—or have been told—should exist.

Finally, if the reader/writer ‘reviewers’ take that step back and don’t offer their opinions on fellow authors’ works, I think we’d be losing a host of highly insightful thoughts into what makes a book palatable. After all, I’m thinking we be the toughest nuts to crack when it comes to deeming a story a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ read.

Should we post constructive thoughts, or just the glowing positive thoughts—at our blogs, review and/or bookseller sites?

If the constructive feedback is not terribly discouraging, disparaging and not necessarily overriding the good in the story, sure. I.e.,  ‘this worked for me, but I might have preferred if the author had…”

Hain’t ya glad I didn’t dump all this into a comment on your blog, Carrie?

Your turn, friends. Can’t imagine we’re lacking for thoughts on this. Let ’em ride! 😀

Happy rest of the week and weekend,

Joanna

 

 

 

Conundrum: Should Authors Wear the ‘Reviewer’ Hat? (Part 1)

And should they do so at their author blogs?

Welcome, friends! Warmer temperatures are hinting at spring–Yay!–and we’ve sprung our clocks forward. (I’ll get over the loss of an hour’s sleep. More sun and light, please!)

So the other day fellow author and online friend Carrie Rubin referenced a blog post by social media guru Kristen Lamb. The question: should authors write reviews for books they’ve read and/or publish them on their blogs?

Of course, both articles got me thinking, enough to get into one of my long-winded comments. (The kind that has blog-post-of-my-own potential—all as I happened to be trudging through a book whose characters caught my interest, but had me tangling big-time with issues relative to the prose.)

As per Carrie Rubin’s post: “One of the things (Kristen Lamb) recommends is never writing a bad book review. In fact, Kristen suggests writers should not publish book reviews on their blogs at all: ‘“Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not ‘book reviewer.’ My opinion is we can’t do both.”’

Carrie tends to agree and ponders the notion that an author writing reviews could be a conflict of interest. She also supplied valid arguments for both sides of doing so—more so for NOT writing a bad review—with support noted for the benefit and/or need for reviews by indie authors.

I don’t disagree with Kristen Lamb on “Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not ‘book reviewer.’” At the risk of sounding full of myself (which I pray I am not), and as a reader—a.k.a., consumer-of-books—AND writer/author, I hope I bring an expanded (?) set of skills to the ‘review’ table.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll get into those a little later this week. What are your thoughts so far?

Have a great day,

Joanna

Fancy or Plain? Which Would You Choose?

Happy New Year, friends and followers! Welcome back! Here’s to the first post of 2015. (#370 since I started this blogging gig!) May the new year be peaceful, blessed and prosperous for us all. (FYI, I’m keeping my ‘Christmas décor’ up here a little longer, just like I’m doing at home.)

Not sure where I wanted to start this year, but I did just finish a little gem of a book during the Christmas break from school. This sweet, switched-at-birth story by author Cynthia Keller touched me, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on it with all of you. (Disclaimer: I borrowed the book from my church’s library. In no way was I compensated for this write up.)

A+Plain+&+Fancy+Christmas

The title, A Plain and Fancy Christmas, was a bit of a misnomer. The story doesn’t revolve around Christmas at all, which makes it a perfect weekend read at any time of the year.

The title does, however, suggest the backgrounds and backstories of its lead characters, 30-year-olds Ellie Lawrence and Rachel King Yoder. (I’m always good for stories involving an Amish backdrop.)

Ellie holds an executive position in a high-profile, New York City public relations corporate firm. Despite underlying dissatisfaction with her job and and her sort-of romantic relationship with Jason, she has slipped into a content-enough routine with the family she believes to be hers and the overall trappings of her life. (If I had to choose a protagonist, I’m thinking she’s Ellie.)

Rachel was raised Amish. Widowed three years ago and unable to manage the farm she and her husband owned, she and her 10-year-old daughter are back in her parents’ home. Although she often finds herself feeling at odds with her mother, this is the only life Rachel has ever known.

Respect, and the rules and ways that go along with having chosen to be baptized into the Amish faith and culture, keep Rachel from delving too deeply into her emotions. She has always felt dissatisfaction too, especially after having lived among “the English” during rumspringa, the period of exploration and/or rebellion Amish teens are allowed. Rachel returned to her faith, mostly because she’d fallen in love with Jacob Yoder, and couldn’t imagine her life without him.  

Long story short, Ellie and Rachel each receive a letter explaining the circumstances that led to the switch. Rachel buries hers in a drawer, but Ellie sets into play a series of events that will impact both these ladies’ futures. (Of course, y’all knew that, or there would be no story and nothing for me to write about! 😉 )

This story is nicely written, told from the points-of-view of its leading ladies, with one exception: a chapter told from the perspective of the nurse who was involved in the switch. I was readily transported to Rachel’s Amish farm in Pennsylvania and related easily to the go-go-go associated with life in NYC. My only beef is how the author provides backstory, in several-page-long flashbacks (?) of exposition. Mrs. Keller did this more often at the beginning, which made getting into the story a bit of a challenge–for me, anyway. Liking the premise, the Amish part of the setting–and the characters early on—kept me reading.)

I  to easily to Ellie’s intrigue with a simpler way of life; it reminded me how much I love spending time at my cottage. I could easily adopt—and adapt to—the choices she made as the story and her character’s journey developed. What Rachel learned about herself describes me too, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Finally, the story explored the themes of family, nature, nurture and what might have been had the switch not occurred. I kept wondering what kind of a resolution could possibly be reached–particularly for Rachel–as the tale approached its close.

I now turn the blog-mike over to you! Any books you’ve recently read you’d like to share about? How did you spend New Year’s Eve? (We wound up at a neighbor’s big family get together—unexpected and just a few houses down the street, so no driving necessary on a night I much prefer to NOT be in a motorized vehicle.)

I’m not big on resolutions but have a few (besides the standard lose-ten-pounds): to read books on a regular basis (and simultaneously redevelop my attention span); to launch a speaker business based on several workshops I’ve developed these past few years. Once the latter is in play, I hope to get back into writing fiction, which has really gone the wayside because of other projects. Do you have any resolutions? Would you rather live a plain (Amish) or a fancy (English) life? Could you find a balance between the two?

Have a wonderful day and week,

Joanna

 

Thoughts on THE HUSBAND’S SECRET

Hi all. Hope all is well and that all the holiday ‘stuff’ crowding our already busy lives is getting done. Hubby and I knocked out about 60% of our gift-buying at the Walgreen’s gift card wall, lol. It’s a beautiful thing and (almost) zero stress.

tree 2014 My serenity space–when it’s uncluttered and clean, anyway. 😉

Feel as though I have been looking for my attention span for the better part of these past couple of years. Since I kind of gave up looking for it, I decided maybe I could cultivate a new one, especially when it comes to reading.

I’m sure I loved books prior to being able to read, and reading has been a passion since I learned how. IDK what’s happened these past years, but I have such a hard time getting into that next book, or even wanting to pick one up sometimes.

Lucky for me I have a friend who feeds me good fodder. She loaned me a copy of Liane Moriarty’s THE HUSBAND’S SECRET. I liked it enough to write about it.

This is an account of a happily married wife and mother of three girls who comes across a letter written by her husband. The script on the envelope instructs Cecilia to open it only in the event of her husband’s death.

Of course, Cecilia eventually opens the letter. (She held out, though. She really did.) Now she has to deal with what she’s learned. She also has to decide if she’s keeping her husband’s secret, and the ramifications of doing so as the story events unfold.

Of course, THE HUSBAND’S SECRET entails much more than I shared in that short paragraph. The writing is quite good, and the author kept me smiling with frequent parenthetical asides. She did well tying together the external and internal character journeys of her three point-of-view characters. I also feel the ending did the story justice overall.

I did find the opening chapters—which introduced each of the lead characters—a tad hard to follow at first. As the story progressed though, a definite rhythm kind of took over. I found it hard to not keep turning the pages, especially once the pace picked up. I could feel the author carrying me faster and faster to the climax.

Two things I liked:

(1)  The story’s ‘circular’ feel; it reminded me of the movie LOVE ACTUALLY, in which the seemingly separate sets of characters were all interrelated somehow, and the story brings it all together at the end. Having stated that, I’m still not completely sure that Tess’s story connected completely to the other lead characters’ external plots, nor do I fully get the metaphor of the Berlin Wall. (I did, however, look up images and information on the BW as a result. I love when fiction prompts me to do that, and that I have an internet that puts history in my hands.)

(2) The author’s take on marriage (relative to Tess, who had to decide whether or not to salvage hers): “Falling in love is easy. Anyone could fall. It was holding on that was tricky.”

Last thought: I don’t think the Epilogue added much. Where the story proper ended seemed pretty appropriate and fitting.

Have you read THE HUSBAND’S SECRET? If so, what did you think about it? Have you read any other of this author’s work? What are you reading now? Do you have to force yourself to read sometimes?

Have a wonderful week, folks. Don’t worry. It will all get done.

Joanna

Release Day: Christine Warner’s SECRET LOVE!

Happy Monday after the French Open final, folks!  Can you say it ten times fast? 😉  Hope all is well in all of your worlds!

Congrats to the record-setting NINE-time champion, Rafael Nadal! (Good thing the match didn’t go to a fifth and deciding set. The champ and his opponent, World  No. 2 and highly likable Novak Djokovic were morphing into the injured playing the ill, respectively.)

Tour-Banner-Secret-Love

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled blogging to share about online friend and author Christine Warner’s latest romantic release, SECRET LOVE. Congratulations, Christine! All the best to you in your latest endeavor!

Christine-Warner-Author-Pic

Bio: Christine Warner is living her dream in Michigan along with her husband, three children, one laptop and a much loved assortment of furry friends. Besides laughing and a good round of humor, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, writing but no arithmetic.  A confessed people watcher, she finds inspiration for her stories in everyday activities. She loves to read and write about strong heroes and determined, sometimes sassy, heroines. A girl gone wild, at least where social media is concerned, she enjoys meeting other avid readers and writers on Facebook, Twitter and her website at christine-warner.com.

(Psst! Christine can be found at Goodreads, too!)

Secret-Love-Hi-Rez

* Genre: Sweet Nostalgic Novella

*   Length: 69 Pages

*   The Sweet Fifties Series {Book 1}

Please note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Christine Warner’s Secret Love for review and promotional purposes.

Christine Warner’s sweet romantic novella immediately landed me in the mid-1940s and 50s. This highly nostalgic short story did not lack for character development. Perhaps the story moved along a tad quickly, but in all fairness to the author, Ms. Warner provided enough backstory to seamlessly cut into the novella’s present. The prose is concise and the text well-edited. Detail is appropriate to the period. Like the songs of old Ms. Warner mentions throughout the story, nostalgia flows effortlessly via lively descriptions and dialogue, readily giving present-day life to a time long past.

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Tarleton is a bit of a spit-fire. I happened to very much like her soap-eating ‘younger version.’ Not that I disliked her 23-year-old self, when the story proper picks up ten years after the reader meets her.) I was particularly fond of Lizzie’s willingness to jump out of her comfort zone to speak her mind, during a time period when girls were not raised to be forthcoming with their thoughts, let alone their feelings toward a boy.

Seventeen-year-old Wayne Whitmore is Lizzie’s brother’s best bud. His compassion toward Lizzie immediately endeared him to this reader, how he cared enough to spare her feelings in that first scene.

Ms. Warner does a nice job bringing her characters together ten years later. Lizzie is now a teacher at the high school where Wayne is the principal. (I did have a bit of a hard time trying to accept him in that role so young.) I didn’t find the story’s conflict to be terribly powerful, but I had no problem buying into it as real or universal. Ms. Warner took what could be a situation in any couple’s world, and built it into an engaging tale of how they overcame it to embark on their happily ever after.

The Story:

Lizzie Tarleton has always done things her own way—including the time at the tender age of thirteen when she confessed to her brother’s best friend she loved him. But now she’s a new teacher at the local high school, and independent enough to know that you can’t force love. She’ll find love when the time is right—even though her parents are adamant the time is now. The only downfall to her idyllic life is the fact that her childhood crush—who broke her heart—is now her boss. If only she could stop daydreaming about him.

Wayne Whitmore grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and worked hard to get where he’s at in life. Even though he enjoys being principal at the small town high school, he dreams of coaching baseball. When his best friend asks him to watch over his little sister at her new job at Wayne’s school, he agrees. What he doesn’t count on is how she’s grown from the pig tailed kid who told him she loved him, to the woman who breaks his concentration with her beauty and smile. Unable to get over his fascination, and afraid he’ll ruin his friend’s trust, Wayne applies for his dream job—one that will take him far away.

One night while decorating the school gymnasium for an upcoming sock hop, Lizzie and Wayne find themselves alone. They share a kiss and Lizzie realizes her childhood crush for Wayne has never died. Wayne decides he doesn’t want to let Lizzie get away.

Can they come to terms with their secret love and then overcome the other secrets they are hiding in order to get what they each want? Or is their timing for love still off?

An Excerpt:

She blinked away the heat of tears forming at the back of her eyes. Their conversation had grown too serious. She needed to lighten things up a bit. “Remember when we used to play ‘What if?’”

He laughed. “What if Lizzie wore a dress?”

“Either she was going to church, or her mom was having a ladies’ social.” Lizzie giggled. “Ricky hated that game.”

“He’d get so mad when you’d start it.” He made the final cut on a small snowflake and added it to the pile before him.

“What if Wayne couldn’t throw his famous curve ball?”

“The school trophy case would be one trophy short. What if Lizzie wasn’t teaching here?”

She pouted. “She’d be sad. I have no idea what I’d be doing if I hadn’t found a job here. What does Lizzie have to do to show Wayne she thanks him?” She winked, enjoying their fun.

He cleared his throat. “What if Wayne said Lizzie owed him a kiss?”

Her belly trembled. What if?

“What if he stole one?” His voice lowered and he leaned in.

“Why don’t you find out?” she whispered.

Buy SECRET LOVE here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Christine’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Happy Release Day, Christine! And thanks to all of you who took the time to read through this marathon of a post! If you like what you read, would you kindly share and help Christine pass on the word!

Here’s to a wonderful week to all,

Joanna

 

 

More Than a Weekend Read–The Distant Hours

Happy first Friday of 2013, friends. Special thanks to Carrie Rubin for all the love that came this way after she linked blogs with me earlier this week, and to all those who’ve come by since! So nice to have company!

Warning: this post runs a bit longer than normal but I hope you stick it out. Couldn’t figure out the best way to break it down.

Moving on:

I’m a reader. Surprise, right? Maybe not as dedicated or ardent as some, but I love a good story.  And I’ve read many books.

I recently posted my take on author Carrie Rubin’s debut, The Seneca Scourge. Before that, I’m pretty sure the last books I talked about were Karen Kingsbury’s One Tuesday Morning and its sequel, Beyond Tuesday Morning. The former changed me, in a way. Resonates with me still.

I wrote this, however, on the heels of having finished Aussie author Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours, the first and only of hers I’ve read so far. (Disclaimer: I share these thoughts because I choose to, not because I was paid to do so in any way. As with so many others, this book found me. My friend thought I’d enjoy it.) 

My friend was oh-so-right.

Honestly, I’ve never felt so humbled by the scope and magnitude of a wordsmith’s work, doubt I’ll ever equal this one’s ability to develop and then tell a story of such quality. Maybe I haven’t read enough, but I’ve never before experienced a tale so intricately and profoundly layered. Every thread, every detail accounted for before expertly woven and seamlessly sewn together; a multitude of puzzle pieces gathered into a final story portrait of near perfection.

The Distant Hours

I say ‘near’ for these reasons:

The story starts slowly. We meet Edie Burchill, whose mother, Meredith, receives a letter that should have been delivered fifty years earlier. Her enigmatic ways and decision not to share details of the letter pique Edie’s curiosity. Driven by a force she can’t explain, Edie finds herself literally stepping into her mother’s past, meeting face-to-face the spinster sisters who took in thirteen year-old Meredith as an evacuee from London during WWII.  Edie also winds up learning a whole lot more about the book that inspired her as a child, its author, his family and the story events that led to the creation of a renowned and revered best seller. (FYI, Ms. Morton starts you off at a leisurely pace, but she picks up momentum steadily and takes you full-throttle into a climax laden with twists that surprised me with their brilliance and not a loose thread left hanging.)

The protagonist’s viewpoint (and main story mood) waxed a bit boggy, at times slowing the pace when I liked the way the story was gaining speed. This, however, tied into the framing of the account; important to the protagonist unraveling the mystery, but a little frustrating when jump-cutting between Edie’s contemporary present (set in London, England) and the WWII background against which the mystery played out (set in London and a fictional castle along the English countryside). At times, the jump-cuts in time made it a bit difficult to pick up where I’d left off at that part of the story. The breaks, however, resulted in a place to take a well-needed breather, and to digest all that had transpired in that section.

Perhaps one or two story details felt a hair contrived—and possibly the ending to some degree, but the author used each in a way that revealed character and/or motivation, or to bring full circle key elements used throughout the story. Abundant use of detail also had me looking back on many occasions; to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, or that I fully understood how every minute facet related to any particular part of the story at any given point.

Having shared all that, let me tell you what I liked!

The author’s voice worked effortlessly into tangible descriptions of abstract concepts to develop each character, regardless of the point of view (POV).  A simple action: a haircut, knitted and crafted to deliver deep insight to character—brilliant! (p. 257-258). Some examples:

“Other people, Daddy’s pompous friends…, just seemed to take up more air than they should.” (p. 303)

“Her skin felt tighter than usual.” (p. 310)

“She was less of a girl, taller, stretched, anxiously filling her extra inches.” (p. 411)

Ms. Morton’s fresh use of metaphor resulted in vivid mind pictures and associations as I read:

“Juniper was rather catlike, after all: the wide-apart set eyes with their fixed gaze, the lightness of foot, the resistance to attention she hadn’t sought.” (p. 123)

“…the autumn of discarded papers on the floor.” (p. 122)

The author’s way of showing tangled, honest emotion(s):

“Mum and Dad were snobs. I felt embarrassed for them and embarrassed for me, and then, confusingly, angry with Rita for saying it and ashamed of myself for encouraging her to do so.” (p. 192)

And back to Kate Morton’s voice, probably the strongest—yet equally gentle—I’ve read in a long time. I’m thinking her view of the world is unexpectedly embedded in each of the characters she brings to life.

“John Keats said that nothing became real until it is experienced.” (p. 295)

“He would be a different person by then, inexorably altered, …as damaged as the city around him…. He would know that while John Keats was correct, that experience was indeed truth, there were some things it was well not to know firsthand.” (p. 303)

“Happiness in life is not a given. It must be seized.” (p. 352)

 I could go on.

I won’t.

Guess what I’m saying is this: if you want an awesome read and are willing to go the circa 600-page marathon, The Distant Hours may be just your cup of tea. Make sure to grab a scone or two before you cuddle up.

Have a great weekend,

Joanna