Messier And More… Real. Beck continues to show the true strength of her storytelling in her sophomore effort in the women’s fiction genre after breaking out from exclusively writing romances. And here, she brings quite likely her most real – and messiest – story to date. Life is full of complications, and while Beck tends to bring some of them out even in her romances, here we get a much more real look at just how messy things can be – and an intergenerational tale of struggling to be yourself even when others tell you not to. One of – if not *the* – Beck’s strongest works to date. Very much recommended.
Former RWA Board Member Expands Horizons. Jamie Beck is so well known as a romance author that she actually served as a member of the Romance Writers of America – the major romance writer organization in the US, at least – Board of Directors for a bit. She has since left those duties and has now expanded her writing to boot. Her romances have always been solid, if solidly within RWA rules. Here, she leaves romance for the realm of women’s fiction, focusing primarily on two sisters who could not be more opposite as they find themselves needing to learn to lean on the other. And she does her usual excellent work, despite the new genre. At times feeling like she might be trying to break into the mystery world, ultimately this has more of a feel of The Other Woman, the 2014 hit starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Mrs. Justin Verlander’s pre-baby boobs. (Ok, so that last is a bit of a joke – I *am* a guy, and I largely went into the movie for the one seen with Ms. Upton on the beach. It turned out to be an awesome movie, and this book is very reminiscent of its best parts.) I can’t really say that this is a “bold” departure for Ms. Beck, as long time fans will feel very comfortable here even in the new genre, but it is absolutely a refreshing departure and a strong showing that Beck is Beck, no matter the genre. Very much recommended.
I titled the Amazon/Goodreads/ Bookbub review of this one “Arrival To Earth” for a few reasons. This is a book about the journey of two cancer survivors – one who survived a personal battle with breast cancer, and another who watched a parent battle brain cancer. And while I have very little direct experience with breast cancer, I actually knew a man just a few years ago who watched his wife quickly die from an aggressive brain cancer, and I actually knew him in the couple of years after this. From what I saw of that man, Mitch seems very well defined as a character in that type of position. Peyton’s struggles here seem very real in all regards.
It combines to produce a romantic drama of intense struggle against seemingly overwhelming odds, and yet having an indelible hope that things will some day be better – exactly as the Steve Jablonsky-penned “Arrival To Earth” score, which plays in the first Transformers movie just as the Transformers are first coming to Earth. Its climax is when Optimus Prime explains the backstory of the Transformers, and it was the song playing through my head through much of the back half of this book. It doesn’t hurt that it has a near direct tie in that I’ll leave out of this review. 🙂
Truly an excellent book and one of the more stark and yet also real looks at cancer I’ve yet seen in fiction. Very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: The Wonder Of Now by Jamie Beck”
This book is a romance book written by a current Director-At-Large of the Romance Writers Association. So you automatically know it will be well-written, and the total production top-knotch. And it is.
But what really struck me about this particular book is that in telling a story that on the surface is simply a strong, character driven, realistic romance… Beck also manages to speak to much more national issues of the struggle between safety and security vs freedom. Claire McKenna was injured in a mass shooting at a mall over a decade ago – and ever since, her life has been limited to her small hometown where she knows everyone and everything. This is completely of her own choosing – she feels safer that way. Logan Prescott has always rebelled at expectations, choosing to live his life his way. He travels the world as a photographer, and rarely sees the same scene – environment or person – twice. Well, these two are the couple of this romance novel, so you know things are about to get interesting.
Absolutely give Beck credit though – while she ultimately stays strictly within the rules of “romance novels” as dictated by the RWA, she does at least make things as realistic as possible within them. This ultimately produces some of her strongest work to date, and this reader in particular is very much looking forward to book 3 of this series. Very highly recommended.
Bet you don’t know what is coming next! If you guessed “Tha Goodreads/ Amazon review”, you’re right! 😀
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: The Promise Of Us by Jamie Beck”
Excellent Memory. This was an excellent book, and a great introduction to a new trilogy from Beck. Longtime fans of hers will likely enjoy it, and newcomers will have an excellent introduction into her style of writing and storytelling. As far as this particular story itself goes, it was engaging and interesting, and never really felt as long as it actually is. (Though don’t let the actual page count fool you, there are author notes at beginning and end, plus a sources section and the almost requisite sample of book 2 – actual length of the edition I read was 4% shorter than the total length of the book.)
Absolutely “worth the risk”. In this conclusion to the St James series, Jackson, middle son, is dealing with the repercussions of the end of Worth the Trouble and has decided to leave town for a few weeks to sort out his issues. He heads to Vermont, and just as he is getting into town he almost literally runs into Gabby during a thunderstorm. He’s a mess, and she has a kid. But this is a romance novel, and these are our leads, so you know where this is going. As always in this series, very real handling of the various situations, and I really do love the decisions Jackson ultimately comes to. Great conclusion to a great series.
Even Better Than The First. To me, this story was even better than the first book in this series, Worth the Wait – which was excellent in its own right. Cat and Hank’s interactions seem just as real, and given what both are dealing with, even more personally impactful for me. Without going into detail on this review, suffice it to say that I am thankful that these types of issues are being explored in a romance novel, as often they are not. So very many kudos for that and for the excellent-as-usual story and writing. 🙂
Excellent Romance. This is a hardcore romantic drama, quite different in that respect from my typical romance fare of late – and an excellent example of why I like the entire breadth of the genre. The author is a touch more realistic than some of her peers, and it shines here. Both leads are believable, and the supporting cast – most of which is destined to appear in future books as leads themselves – are fully fleshed out for purposes of this story as well. (Obviously for those featuring in future books, we should get better views of them there.) Very much looking forward to the next book in the series – indeed, I’ve already started it.
September 2018 turned out to be all about trilogies – from starting the month reading a book about movies in pop culture that frequently cited Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy to following it with a romance trilogy to ending the month with a trilogy about zombie dinosaurs and a ‘trilogy’ of some of the remaining nonfiction books on the #2018TBR project.
The highlight of the month was the surprise announcement of the LONG anticipated sequel to Steven Savile’s 2011 book SILVER, GOLD, at the beginning of the month and its release just two weeks later. Which contained the most horrifically beautiful scene I have ever seen in a book.
Overall, I read 15 books in September 2018, per Goodreads. Five of them in just the last four days of the month. I now stand at 105 books read on the year, with at least five ARCs still outstanding. Of the 15 books this month, there were three series – Jamie Beck’s St James trilogy, Rick Chesler and David Sakmyster’s Jurassic Dead trilogy, and DJ Jamison’s Real Estate Relations series. There were three nonfiction books, Nate Silver’s 2012 The Signal and The Noise, Brendan McDonough’s Granite Mountain/ My Lost Brothers, which the 2017 movie Only the Brave was based on, and Jennifer Knapp’s Facing the Music. Overall, this month featured ten books from the #2018TBR project and just five review copies – four of them ARCs. I also read my first Century Book near the end of the month, crossing 100 books on the year for the first time in my life.
The 15 books combined for 4542 pages according to Goodreads, for an average of 302.8 pages per book – and took the single longest novel and nonfiction books off the #2018TBR stack.
Best series of the month goes to the Jurassic Dead trilogy by Rick Chesler and David Sakmyster. Because zombie dinosaurs. Do I really need to say more there? Ok, well, in book 2 the zombie dinosaurs attack Washington, DC. There. Now you have to read the trilogy. 🙂
Most interesting book of the month goes to The Signal and The Noise by Nate Silver, as it was an astounding and needed look at applied probabilistic statistics and how they can help us make informed choices in a wide range of situations.
There really wasn’t any humor to be had in this month’s books for the most part, so I’ll go with most tear jerking book instead – and that is without a doubt Granite Mountain/ My Lost Brothers by Brendan McDonough. I watched Only the Brave last year, the movie based on this book, without knowing anything about the story. While on a Caribbean vacation. Yeah, that ending was very unexpected. Then. I knew what I was getting into reading the book, so I listened to the Audible. And still bawled my eyes out in the later chapters, which included a few scenes of the aftermath that I don’t remember making it into the movie. I almost challenge anyone to read this book via text form, as I don’t really think it is possible due to all the crying in those sections.
Overall book of the month? Has to go to the one I waited SIX YEARS for and spent literally YEARS begging for – Steven Savile’s GOLD. It was absolutely worth the wait.
As is traditional here, the full list, in date completed order, with links to Goodreads reviews of all:
Continue reading “A Month of Reading: September 2018: Trilogies!”