Review: The Storm

Hello again, friends!

I’ve been keeping my excitement about this book at bay until blog tour time (at least online – my family would have said otherwise around Christmas), but y’all, it’s just like Christmas morning, because the blog tour is here!  Which means I’m here to review Dan Jolley’s newest novel, The Storm.

TheStorm_CoverImage_1200X800I have a lot to say, but first of all, this book was impossible to put down.  Forget Instagram and Facebook; we’re talking ereader-on-my phone-in-the-bathroom-at-work hard to put down.  Don’t tell my boss, please.  The action starts off right away, and it’s not only fast-paced, but the sense of foreboding is masterful.  From the first chapter you KNOW something bad is coming; things are going to get creepy.  And if you’ve read his Gray Widow trilogy – you know Dan Jolley does creepy SO.  DANG.  WELL.

And the characters?  I was surprised at how invested I got in all of them, even the ones I really didn’t like (… REALLY didn’t like…).  Zandra, Colin, Pounder – they were relatable and believable, and I cared about who they were, what they were going through, and how they were growing and changing.  And in typical Jolley fashion, they went through A LOT.

Woven throughout this mystery-thriller is a relevant look into impoverished white people in the Southern United States.  Having grown up in Southern Illinois (5 hours from Chicago and only 1.5 from Kentucky), I was surrounded by a little bit of Southern twang and a whole lot of Southern pride.  Jolley’s observations about racism, classism, and Trump-ism were insightful, and the many of the situations that the characters found themselves in were familiar to me – thankfully not all of them (looking at you, hidden dungeon).  I read The Storm shortly after reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D Vance, actually, and much of what was said in both rang true for me.  I appreciated Dan’s voice in this ever-evolving discussion.

And of course, in the midst of all that, Dan Jolley had to go and break my heart AND make me laugh out loud multiple times.  Because that’s just what he does.  That’s all I’m going to say about that because, you know, spoilers.

So if you’re looking for an engaging, gritty, politically relevant, action-packed read, check out The Storm.  It’s dark at times, hilarious at times, thought-provoking at times – and enjoyable at all times.

 

Want to know more about Dan Jolley?

DanJolleyPhotoCropped_GrayWidowsWeb

Dan Jolley began writing professionally at age 19. Starting out in comic books, Dan has worked for major publishers such as DC (Firestorm), Marvel (Dr. Strange), Dark Horse (Aliens), and Image (G.I. Joe), and soon branched out into licensed-property novels (Star Trek), film novelizations (Iron Man), and original novels, including the Middle Grade Urban Fantasy series Five Elements and the Urban Sci-Fi Gray Widow Trilogy.

Dan began writing for video games in 2007, and has contributed storylines, characters, and dialogue to titles such as Transformers: War for Cybertron, Prototype 2, and Dying Light, among others. Dan lives with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert felines in northwest Georgia, and enjoys connecting with readers via his website (www.danjolley.com) and on Twitter (@_DanJolley).

Want to check out more stops on the blog tour?

2/18            Jazzy Book Reviews         Top Ten’s List

2/19            I Smell Sheep           Vlog

2/20            Breakeven Books       Guest Post

2/21            Sheila’s Guests and Reviews    Guest Post

2/23            Sapphyria’s Books        Guest Post

2/23            The Book Lover’s Boudoir            Review

2/24            Horror Tree    Guest Post

2/24            Willow’s Thoughts and Book Obsessions         Review

2/25            The Voluptuous Book Diva           Guest Post

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Highlights of the First Dozen

I’m twelve books into 2019, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you!  Not full reviews, but just thoughts on those that I’ve really enjoyed.

 

Infomocracy by Malka Older

– I couldn’t put this down.  This was one of my first cyberpunk novels, and I was hooked.  The politics, the relationships, the world.  I was totally sucked in.

 

The Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor

– I haven’t read book three yet since I let my husband read it before me, but with the way he was raving out it, I’m counting the whole trilogy here.  Books one and two were captivating; Okorafor’s worldbuilding and imagery are hard to beat.  And Binti?  Such.  A.  Good.  Character.

 

Horizon by Fran Wilde

– This is book three of the Bone Universe trilogy, and I was a little timid after the way book two ended.  But Wilde wrapped this all up so well!  I was all in on Horizon, and I’m sad it’s over.

 

The Giver by Lois Lowry

– With my new job, I’m driving a whole lot more, and I’ve been devouring audiobooks.  I’ve read The Giver multiple times, and this was such a fun one to revisit.  I’ve never read the rest of the series, and I’m currently waitlisted on those audiobooks… Can’t wait 🙂

 

Those are the reads that I most enjoyed in my first dozen of the year.  What’s the best you’ve read so far this year?

Big News

Hey all!

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted, and that’s okay.  That was needed.  Here’s the story.

You know two posts ago, when I said I was writing again and that I was going to start posting on the blog regularly again?  And that I had some writing news that I would share when I could?

Here’s that news: I was going to start an MFA program last fall.  I’d applied and had gotten in, and my husband and I were discussing it.  I was excited to take that step.

And then I learned that my position at the job that I loved was being terminated for budget reasons.

Ughh.  Even writing that now makes me so sad, and it was almost six months ago.

Chris and I talked for a long time about my options, and we decided – with much difficulty – that the MFA program would have to wait.  He’s in grad school and working (almost) full time; I was going to have to find a new job and wasn’t sure how long that was going to take.  It just wasn’t the right time.

So I started the job search and withdrew my application on the same day, and both things broke my heart.

Fast forward six months, though, to present day:

I’ve been at my new job (which I like but don’t LOVE – it’s not a forever-deal) for 4 months now.  We adopted two kittens around the first of the year (totally unrelated, but I couldn’t NOT mention it).  I’ve continued writing and am feeling SO good about it.  And having found some stability once again, I reached out to the MFA program about possibly reapplying.

And friends – time for the GOOD NEWS.

I’ll be starting the MFA in Creative Writing program at Concordia University, St. Paul in May!!  We’re doing this thing, kids.

I want to blog again, and the same deal goes that I promised last time – about once a week, reviewing some books and talking about writing, but also highlighting authors that I love and my new program and probably some pictures of my cats, because you’d love that, too, right?

Going back to school is scary and exciting and risky and worth it, I think, and I’m excited to share more with all of you.

I’ll be posting a couple of book reviews soon and maybe a post about what I’ve been writing.

Wish me luck, y’all.  I’m doing the same for you.

Oh, and meet Finnegan and Jinora.  You’ll be seeing more of them.  Promise.

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Review: Gray Widow’s War

Hey all!

I’ve just got to warn you before I even get started – I’m feeling a lot of things right now.  And I likely will be for a long time.

If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you might remember me fan-girling over Dan Jolley’s Gray Widow the past two summers.  Well, friends: third time’s a charm, or something like that.  It’s blog tour time to celebrate the third and final book of the trilogy – Gray Widow’s War – and here I am once again to share my thoughts.

[Also: SPOILERS.  Not gonna avoid them when it’s book three.]

So here we go:

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The things I felt with this book – the fear and the hope and the bitterness and the heartache and the love.  I was all over the place in the best of ways, but goodness, it was a wild ride.  Here are some examples:

  • Um, why you gotta make me feel bad for one of the bad guys – one of which has been around for a while?  The best beef has history.  All I wanted to do was be like, “EFF YOU, Stamford,” but instead it was more of an “EFF YOU, but I’m sorry you’re in over your head, but still EFF YOU (but I feel bad about it).”  Not cool, Mr. Jolley.  But also: very cool of you.
  • Three words: Tim, Adam, Janey.
  • Ok, more than three words: they were in quite the predicament at the end of book two, and… alright, I’m just going to say it: DAN JOLLEY SET US UP FOR HEARTBREAK.  There was no good way out of the situation they were in.  And honestly, I was dreading having any conclusion to their storyline because it couldn’t end well.  Nope, it couldn’t.  Bringing all those feelings into this book, all I’m going to say is well done.  It was satisfying and just and real and moving, and you didn’t shortchange anyone.  Well freakin’ done.
  • However, on a completely unrelated note (because I would be evil if I spoiled how the above situation was resolved): WHY YOU GOTTA BRING SO MUCH HURT TO MY MAN, TIM?
  • But bless you, Dan, the redemption of a certain character – who I felt tons of hatred for in previous books – was brilliant and beautiful.  Thank you for that.

Ok, the emotional rollercoaster aside, I do want to call attention to how cool this story is.  The plot was engaging and believable – I really couldn’t put this book down.  We get to GrayWidowsWar_Final_1200X900meet some freaky aliens, which I am all here for.  We get some great battles, some stellar superpowers, and some twists in all the right places.

But let me tell you what’s stuck with me the most this time.  I’ve read so many books and seen so many shows where the characters are in an impossible situation and then some  nonsense lets them off the hook.  But hear me loud and clear in the back: Dan Jolley does not have time for that bull.  Not at all.  The characters had to earn every damn step they took.  That’s how it’s done, friends.  That is how it’s done.

And that is why I love Janey Sinclair so much.  SO FREAKING MUCH.  She fights, and she works, and she bleeds, and she feels.  We need more like her, friends.

Gray Widow’s War as a book was the perfect ending to this trilogy, and the way the book itself ended – HOLY CRAP.  Hold on to your hats, kids.  It’s big, and it’s meaningful, and it’ll rock you.

Honorable mentions of things I wish I could go into further that this book touches on: unhealthy relationships, finding one’s purpose, the definition of justice, sacrifice, worth, diversity, and love overcoming differences.  Oh, and super-powered orgasms.

So that’s it.  That’s a wrap of the Gray Widow trilogy.  And here are my parting words:

Gray Widow: may your eyes be ever on us, and our eyes be looking to do good.

 

DanJolley_GrayscaleAuthorPhotoAbout the author: Dan Jolley began writing professionally at age 19. Starting out in comic books, Dan has worked for major publishers such as DC (Firestorm), Marvel (Dr. Strange), Dark Horse (Aliens), and Image (G.I. Joe), and soon branched out into licensed-property novels (Star Trek), film novelizations (Iron Man), and original novels, including the Middle Grade Urban Fantasy series Five Elements and the Urban Sci-Fi Gray Widow Trilogy.

Dan began writing for video games in 2007, and has contributed storylines, characters, and dialogue to titles such as Transformers: War for Cybertron, Prototype 2, and Dying Light, among others. Dan lives with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert felines in northwest Georgia, and enjoys connecting with readers via his website (www.danjolley.com) and on Twitter (@_DanJolley).

 

Want to check out more of the tour?

Tour Schedule and Activities

8/13        Shells interviews  – Guest Post

8/14        Ally Books and Reviews  – VLOG

8/16        Breakeven Books  – Author Interview                       

8/17        Sapphyria’s Books  – Top Ten’s List

8/18        The Seventh Star  – Guest Post

8/19        Sheila’s Guests and Reviews  –  Guest Post

Begin Again

Oh, dear blog friends.  We meet again.

I’m not going to apologize for being on hiatus (again), though I do feel bad about not checking in.  Sorry to just disappear this summer.  It was needed, and it was good, and I don’t regret it.

Friends, I’ve spent a long time wondering if I should even keep this blog thing going.  I’ve been wondering what the purpose of it is and why I’ve struggled so much the past year or so to post consistently.  I’ve thought about canning it, I’ve thought about rebranding it, I’ve thought about trying to keep doing what I’ve been doing, only better.

All of those options have their benefits.  All of those options have their detriments.

Here’s a little, tiny, brief story for you:

I started this blog because I’m a writer, and I wanted to share some writing with others.  I wanted to write about writing and write about reading and maybe advertise some of my stories/books some day.

But I felt like it wasn’t enough.  I felt like I didn’t actually have anything to offer as a writer.

So to make myself more attractive (to who even?), I transitioned to just blogging book reviews.  I read a lot, and I like talking about what I’m reading.  This corresponded with a writing dry spell – no short stories, no novels.  Just two or three blog posts each week about what I was reading.

This was good, but friends, this is not what I want.

Thankfully, that is not the end of the story.  This summer, without telling you (sorry again), I took a break.  I’ve been reading SO much.  If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you’ve likely heard of Summer Reading.  Well, this year’s theme is “Books for Younger Readers”.  I’ve read so many books this summer and so many of them are great – but I’m thankful I haven’t felt like I had to keep up with reviews!

Friends, I’ve also been writing.  A novel.  And it feels so good and so right and like the dry spell is over.  And looking back, the dry spell wasn’t actually that dry.  I wrote some short stories and poetry that I REALLY like.

So.

What does that mean for the blog?

Well, I’m not canning it.  And I’m not trying to do what I’ve always done.  And I’m not re-branding.

So what am I doing?

Something in the middle of all three?  Here’s what to expect:

  • I’ll keep posting reviews.  Yay!  Not for every single book I read, but some of the goodies or those that have a lot of hype around them (you know I hate hype and therefore love trying to dispel it).
  • I’ll blog about writing.  And I’ll actually share some of my writing.  I’d love to sell and have some of my work published, so I won’t post a lot of it here.  But I’ll share some.  I promise.  (And I might have a new writing thing in the mix.  Can’t talk about it yet, but when I can, I will.)
  • I’ll only be posting once a week or so.  This whole “I have to post often so I’m memorable” thing is for the birds.  So it’s out.  Manageable is in.  Good content (hopefully) is in.

So that’s it.  Here’s to a new era (gosh, I’m so dramatic right now) for this blog.

Happy August, y’all.

Review: Name of the Wind

Hi all.

This is my attempt to get caught up on reviews.  I read this gem in February, jotted down lots of notes for a post, then didn’t write it.  So here I go, I guess?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  Where do I even begin?

I was intimidated to pick this book up, honestly.  I’d heard great things about it, but the sheer size of this work coupled with hearing about the beautiful writing (I’m more of a plot kind of girl; elaborate language slows me down – as it should, I guess) had me hesitating to give it a shot.  But I finally decided to.

And of course, I’m so glad I did.

The Name of the Wind swept me up quickly and didn’t put me down until it was over.  I 2495567was instantly invested in Kvothe and his story – so curious about his tragedies, his loves, and his learning.

As I’d been told, the writing and the language was absolutely beautiful.  Thankfully, though, it wasn’t over the top, it wasn’t frivolous, and it didn’t slow the story down.

However, getting what I expected stopped there.  I was thinking this would be more of an epic fantasy where the story starts with some backstory and then the adventure begins.  In a way it does, I guess, but in most ways, it really doesn’t.  Patrick Rothfuss makes it so much more than that, telling the story of Kvothe’s life (or part of it… book two will give me more, and when the long-awaited book three comes out… YES).

The characters were deep and funny – somehow I was rooting both for and against some of them.  Rothfuss’ foreshadowing was downright mean at times (in a good way), making me want to verbally cry out a warning like when you’re watching a horror movie, and they decide to invest that sound.  The lore of this world drew me absolutely, and really, I HAVE to know what book two holds.  There are so many mysteries to be solved.

This was such a good read for me.  I know I’m a little late to the party, but The Name of the Wind really was fabulous.

Happy May!

Happy May, all!

This blog has taken an unexpected two-month hiatus (again)  which was necessary but un-communicated.  But I’m back in some capacity.  I’ve read so many books since my last review, so I’m torn: do I start over fresh, or do I try to get caught up with reviews?

I’m still undecided.

BUT.

Here are some things to look forward to:

I’m currently reading Death’s End by Cixin Liu, book three in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy (books one and two are The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest, respectively).  It’s incredible so far, and I can’t wait to share more with you soon.

I’ve been writing and creating a lot more lately, and I’ll be sharing more on that with you all in coming posts as well.

SUMMER READING IS ALMOST HERE.  Every summer, I have a themed reading list (past themes include Hugo Award Winners, Books I Already Own, Books by People of Color, and more!), and starting June first, I’ll start my summer of reading Books for Younger Readers.  From June 1 to August 31, I’ll only read YA, Middle Grade, or Children’s books, and I couldn’t be more pumped for this.

I’m excited to be back in the blogging world, and I’ll leave you with this question:

What book for younger readers would you recommend for me this summer?  I’ve started my list, but I’d love more input!