I recently finished Watch Over Me, a clean romance novella by Jenny Dawson.
I was commissioned to read and review the following book. All opinions are honest and my own.
A fantastic journey to healing guided by love. A sweet, feel good story. Tender. Lovely.
What I loved about this novella was the journey. It was a story of healing through love, and I found that a delightful style for a romance. While there was an unnecessary character and some remaining typos throughout, the overall tone of the story kept me captivated and rooting for the protagonist. I also loved seeing disabled characters in a real way.
Watch Over Me follows Brenda. A single mom who’s ex-husband left her seven years prior upon the knowledge that their daughter she was carrying had Down Syndrome. Brenda has devoted herself as a mother. But when a new police officer moves into their apartment building, she finds an opportunity to love again.
With a relatable protagonist/heroine and a lovable child, the characters in Watch Over Me were real and worth rooting for. Brenda has the struggles every single mother does. What is best for my child? Should I even consider dating? What about her father? These questions lead Brenda on a path to both love and healing. And, it’s beautiful to see.
Brenda, as a heroine, did not disappoint. She was strong, relatable, and well rounded. It was beautiful to watch her grow and learn. She developed wonderfully. I hoped with her, worried with her, and cheered her on. Really, she was fantastic.
I do feel the need to mention that, while I enjoyed seeing a REAL disabled character, the other disabled character wasn’t portrayed as well. Brenda’s mother suffers from depression. But instead of an character with mental illness, we had what almost seemed as a plot device to distance the mother from the story. Instead of talking about, and dealing with, her depression, it’s mentioned and then we see little of her.
It’s also worth mentioning that Bella, Brenda’s sister, was a fun character, but mostly unnecessary. While she may have been intended for comedic relief, she didn’t quite make it, and was of little use to move the story. Like I said, fun but was a bit of an unnecessary extra.
While the genre of this novella is “romance” this reviewer would classify it as a transformation story, fueled by love. Allan helped Brenda learn to love again, and she does the same for him. And while they’re not without their problems (ex-husbands, past baggage…) their story was one in which I loved watching unfold.
The best word for this story is “nice”. And not in a “it was a nice little story” way, and not with a shrug and an “it was nice”. But in a “it was wonderful, beautiful, and just NICE to read” kind of way. A gem of a healing story. A beautiful love story.
With real characters, a budding love story, and a gorgeous journey through healing and hope, Watch Over Me was a delightful read.
I recently read the science fiction novel Red Ascent by Dillon Foley, and found myself pretty captivated…
I was commissioned to read and review the following book. All opinions are honest and my own.
Excellent story. Fantastic intensity. Relevant to our times and an interesting examination of our current society and the ongoing, often internal, war on religion and the acceptance of all people.
It’s clear the author is attuned to the mindset of present day America and what often feels like the core of humanity’s motivations. While the focus of this story often shifts to God and Christianity, it was refreshing to see it discussed from a perspective of love and equality. A science-fiction work would be expected to rehash the God vs. Science argument, but Foley takes a surprising approach and instead argues love vs. class division. It was an inspiring stance that had this reviewer often agreeing with the protagonist.
Chelsea Shaw is an under appreciated aide for a prominent, and disgustingly corrupt senator. When she learns the leaders of America are covering up a doomsday event, and planning an escape to Mars taking with them only the wealthiest, and most elite, her only choice is to leak the story and find a way to save everyone else they intend to leave behind.
After many dangers and tragedies, Chelsea finds herself the leader of an operation that will lead the human race to Mars. Racing against both the clock and the corrupt leaders of America, her coalition is one built on everyone’s right to life.
With a vast array of characters (some loveable, some despicable, all flawed in their own way) Chelsea builds a community and a family. But everything is against them. World leaders. Science. Technology. Faith. They have an impossible amount of work to do to get everyone on Mars. And time is running out.
While this book does approach amateurish in its use of cliches and semi-predictable dialogue, the bones of this story keep you going.
There are some impossible instances, and a few “that would never actually happen” plot moments, but this reviewer forgave them because of the emotion drawn out of the reader. Identifying with the characters isn’t difficult, so it was easy to become engrossed with their story. I rooted for Chelsea the entire book.
Foley has a wonderful way with action sequences. More than once I found myself holding my breath, sighing with relief, cheering out loud, or gasping in suspense. The way tense scenes were told was exhilarating and sometimes emotionally exhausting.
There were times, in between those high intensity moments, of big, chunky dialogue, and it often felt like a sermon. Thankfully, love, equality, and the importance of accepting people were the messages being delivered. There was also an organic quality to it, that made the borderline preaching easier to swallow.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story. Many times Red Ascent led me to contemplating the decisions I’d make if in Chelsea, or any of the other character’s, situation. Where would I go? Who would I follow? What would I base those decisions on? It left me shaking my head at the greed and dishonorable choices governments make in the real world, but also hopeful that not all is lost if one finds themselves in that scenario.
Relevant. Hopeful. Exciting. Thought-provoking. While there are whiffs of “new writer” throughout, I didn’t care. The story was captivating. Socially provocative, in an incredibly positive way.
That’s right! I’m going to post short stories right here on the blog! I’ve recently joined a writing group (more info below) and once a month we’re given a prompt for a short story. I’ve decided to post them here. I may publish them in a book down the road, I may develop one or two into a novel, I may hate them and print them, just so I can burn them. Who knows?! My point… Be on the look out for at least one short story a month.
Some amazing things are happening! I’ve got two new full length novels in the works. I’ve found an amazing community on YouTube. And, I’ve gained a lot of new friends lately from Twitter. THINGS ARE ON THE MOVE.
I’m working on a science fiction novel. It’s post-apocalyptic and really cool. I started it for NaNoWriMo. And, while I learned NaNoWriMo is a NaNo-NoNo for me personally, I absolutely LOVE the story I started. So I’m going to keep going with it. It’s too good not to. Also! I’m currently in the process of creating a new author platform. I’ve felt the pull to write something Middle Grade. Call it fate. Call it destiny. Call it me trying to get my little niece and cousins to love reading as much as I do. I have to do this. I can feel it. But, to do so under the name K.D. Reed is going to be… problematic. My stuff is for grown-ups. Like… the grown-uppiest of grown-ups. If you’ve read my books, you understand. Therefore, when the time comes, I’ll be creating a whole new name and platform for my kid stuff.
Because I can.
I’ll also keep working under the name K.D. Reed at the same time, though. So don’t worry, adult people. I’m not going anywhere.
Next! Thanks to the beautiful people on YouTube, I’ve joined a writing group. As I mentioned above, we’ll be prompted for some short story work. It’s mostly for fun, but I wanted to share it with all of you lovely people.
I want to quickly give a special thank you to Ben Sanders. We met on BookTube/AuthorTube (the people on YouTube talking about reading and writing, respectively) and he’s the super neat dude that organized our cool kids writing club. Yeah… it’s not actually called that. It just makes me feel like a cool kid, okay? Any who! Ben is really great, and a talented writer. Check out his YouTube channel. You’ll thank me later.
Lastly, if you haven’t noticed, I’ve moved most of my social media activity to Twitter. Facebook, especially right now, has A LOT of problems. Every time I log on I feel like Wesley in The Princess Bride when he’s hooked up to the machine.
So! Most of the time, I only go to Facebook for the groups I’m in and to keep up with family. There’s a lot of people I’m connected to there that I love both personally and professionally. (Not like in a hooker way. Like in a writing way. But, you knew that, right?) Moving to Twitter has gained me some amazing friends, and I like it A LOT better. Here’s my Twitter, if you want to follow me there.
That’s all the news! I’m hoping to post January’s short story tomorrow. Or soonish. Sooner rather than later. Definitely. Probably. Maybe.
As always, you guys are so great. I have the best readers. I really do. Thank you so much for sticking with me. Please know that you are appreciated.
NaNoWriMo is only a week away!! Are you ready? Because I am… not. I’m close. I think. Any who, I decided that along with my post containing NaNoWriMo resources, I’d also jabber on about why I’m choosing to participate in the insanity for the first time. I mean, let’s all admit it, writers are crazy. I know I am. These are the reasons I’m ramping up my crazy factor and why you should consider jumping on the NaNoWriMo train to psycho-ville.
1. It’s a chance for a new beginning
In case you didn’t hear, I published a couple new books last month. And while I’m incredibly proud of them, sales didn’t go as I’d hoped. (It never does, really.) I found myself a little more discouraged than expected. Many who PROMISED to buy/review/promote/whatever simply didn’t come through.
So! I’ve taken hold of this raging knife in my heart and yanked it out. Now, the blood is spurting everywhere and staining the carpet. Instead of mopping it up, I’m going to collect it, and pour it into a new manuscript. An AWESOME manuscript. A few reasons for this:
As a writer, the most common piece of advice is “keep writing”. The best way to sell books, is to write the next one. Produce content. Publish more. Give readers something else to love. Yada… yada… yada… While I don’t necessarily write to make me rich, I do require food. I have a husband who insists on eating every day. And, don’t even get me started on student loans! Therefore, I gotta try to make a penny or two. This is where NaNoWriMo comes in. The timing is right for me to take a step back from marketing, and follow the advice of those who have gone before me. WRITE THE NEXT BOOK. So, that’s what I’m going to do.
I actually LIKE writing. It can build my confidence (it can also demolish it to rubble, but that’s another post for another time). Writing can help me feel like I’m not wasting my destiny. It can spur on new ideas for even more books. There’s just a thousand reasons to write, okay? I’m really feeling the call, though. I hear a whisper on the wind saying, “write that story you keep thinking about in the shower…”
I’ve had several ideas for fairytale retellings, and it’s high time I birth them unto the world. One is done (by done, I mean the first draft is finished), and the next is my NaNo project. Hooray!
The final reason to write a new story… it shakes off the rust and reminds me I am a writer. It’s that simple. I am a writer. So, I will write.
2. We can try something new!
NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity for me to try some new writing techniques. Since I have a draft deadline, instead of a publishing deadline, I can experiment with new routines, techniques, and what not. Oddly enough, the quick deadline has given me the gift of time.
I think of it like this…
I’m usually writing with a strict timeline of all the following steps:
Even more promo
More stupid promos
Giant promo dump all over the internet
Wait for Amazon to decide the book’s fate……..
For every book it’s been like that. (Mind you, that’s just a bullet list of the basics.) It’s a lot of work and a lot of steps to get the book into the hands of readers. For NaNoWriMo, I only have to accomplish step one. That’s it!
So! Since I only have one thing on the to do list, I can mix it up. I can try a new way of writing. A new approach. Maybe I’ll write in a different room. Maybe I’ll write first thing in the morning, instead of whenever I can squeeze it in. Maybe I won’t write beginning to end. I might start in the middle! The possibilities are endless!!
My point, now that I’ve taken a hundred years, is that I can try to find new ways for myself. I very well may come across something that works amazingly and can implement it into my regular writing routine. That’s the point. I have a chance to better my process. How else do you figure out a better way to do something? You try it out!
Specifically, I’m going to focus on NOT EDITING AS I GO. Write first. Edit later. I’m 100% the worst at this. I can write fast. I can publish fast. But, I edit as I write my first draft. Honestly, for my novellas, it works out okay. But, for a full novel, it will definitely not work okay. I’m not so set in my ways that I don’t see that. For NaNoWriMo however, we’re going to write write write. And edit in December.
3. There’s a legit community.
NaNoWriMo has an awesome way of bringing writers together. Our industry is often a solitary one. We sit in our dark rooms, alone with the keyboard. Clattering away in isolation. AND WE LIKE IT THAT WAY.
But! NaNo is different. We sort of become this giant group of cheerleaders. Pep talks, meet-ups, write ins, parties. You name it. We’re in the same boat. We boarded “Ship Insanity” together. So, we enjoy the cruise as friends.
It’s awesome. There’s support both online and in person. People helping people. It’s beautiful and wonderful. And, I’m excited to be a part of it. I know, for a fact, I’m going to come away with more than a manuscript draft. I’m going to make legit friends.
I’m going to be a cool kid! Finally!
Honestly, the writing community is one of the best things in the universe. We’re helpful, encouraging, and supportive. I’ve had an amazing experience. Other writers are simply the best. And NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to expand my “personal community”. It’s a great time to meet EVEN MORE awesome writers. I’ll take as many friends as I can get within the writing world. They’ve been an invaluable resource. My success is attributed to the community. And, I can’t wait to grow mine!
4. Writing can FINALLY be a priority.
Sometimes, it’s all I can do to kick out 500 words. The day gets away from me, too long of a to do list, stuff comes up, whatever. There are days when it just… doesn’t… happen.
Enter NaNoWriMo! For a month, I get so say, “Sorry, can’t do that. I gotta write!”
I have prepped my family and friends. They know that come November, I’m gone. I’ll be head down, cranking out 1667 words a day. AT LEAST. My goal is at east 2000 a day. Pretty sure my story is going to need more than 50,000 words, so my target is a bit loftier than NaNo “requires”.
My point is, tell yo kids… tell yo wife… November is YOUR time to write. Say no, as often as you can to the other stuff. This is when you get to make writing a priority. It can come first. Not second, or fourth, or umpteenth. First.
As best you can, anyway. Obviously, we all have responsibilities we can’t throw away. But, for NaNoWriMo, we get this legit excuse to move writing closer to the top of our to do list.
I’ve literally told people, “Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. I’m booked until December.” I’m really excited to immerse myself completely. I’m diving all the way to the bottom of my imagination’s ocean. See you in December everyone! Byeeeeeee
I am seriously looking forward to it just being me and my book. My words. A golden opportunity is lurking within NaNo. An opportunity to write your story. For you. You deserve it. We all do. We deserve the time to write what we need to. And in November, we get it!
The most honorable KRISTEN KIEFFERhas constructed an awesome Book Tag all about J.R.R. Tolkien. And, as you all know, I’m more than a fan of that guy. TOLKIEN IS LIFE. So here’s the thing… I couldn’t resist participating in such an awesome tag! Tolkien is one of the reasons I’m a writer. He’s helped define so much of me. Time to gush!
Here’s the deal, this is interactive. Tags work like this:
Questions are posted about a thing.
The writer/blogger answers said questions.
Others are tagged by the writer/blogger at the end of it all.
The chain of awesome keeps going… and going… and going…
Let’s start with a Tolkien quote, shall we?
Okay! Let’s go wandering!
1. The Lord of the Rings is Tolkien’s most famous work. But did you read the books or see the movies first? What are your opinions on each?
As much as I hate that it happened the way it did, I saw The Fellowship of the Ring first. After seeing that film, I died. I feel like that’s not even a hyperbole. I was gone. I knew I had witnessed something special. It was sparkles and starlight and FEELINGS. Like angels were singing of my destiny.
I mention this in my post Authors Who Turned Me into a Reader. I am ashamed I had to be convinced about “some old fantasy book” by a film. But! I almost went straight from the theatre to the bookstore. When I bought the entire Lord of the Rings series I devoured them. I read nothing but Tolkien for months and months.
I went to the midnight premier of The Two Towers. Mind you, I was still in high school when the movies came out, so I missed the entire day of school to wait in line for the movie. Like… 12 hours in line, just so I could have a good seat. When I commit… I COMMIT.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I was okay with the second movie. Having read the books I found a thousand inaccuracies, and since I had been turned into a Tolkien purist, I was only okay with it. Didn’t LOVE it the way I loved the first film. But, how could I? I knew what I was in for. That first time, I was not expecting my life to literally change. By the third movie though… I had a problem.
–Unpopular opinion time. Yay!– I really didn’t like the film adaption of The Return of the King. I felt like Peter Jackson thought he knew better than Tolkien on what to do with the story. The changes he made were not something I could just shake my head at. I was a bit… enraged. It wasn’t his story to take so much liberty with. For me, Jackson committed an injustice to my literary idol. Bad form!
In fact, I STILL haven’t seen any of The Hobbit films. And I don’t plan to. As soon as I heard Jackson was attached to the project, I dismissed it. This was before it was even announced that it’d be split into three films. (Why, in all of Middle Earth, was the shortest book turned into three movies, instead of making six movies out of the Lord of the Rings series? Why?!)
Okay. I’m going to stop here, before I forget the rest of the questions and turn this into a rant. (It’s too late for that, isn’t it?)
2. Who is your favorite member of The Fellowship? Does this person differ from your favorite Lord of the Rings character in general?
Boom. There it is. He’s my most favorite in all of Tolkien’s writing. And I’ll tell you why…
He’s mad talented. Those archery skills. Damn.
His temperament. He doesn’t dink around. The elf gets sh*t done.
The dude can freaking fight.
His relationship with Gimli. He seems like a flawless guy. But he still learns and grows. He befriends this dwarf who he’s been conditioned to loathe. They’re friendship is beautiful.
He’s an elf. That alone qualifies him as a favorite. Really.
Gandalf is a close second. Because of his wisdom and adventurous spirit.
3. Now for some fun! If you could be any character from The Hobbit, which would you be and why?
I like to be left alone.
And don’t touch my stuff.
Like, it sounds ridiculous. But when I thought about this question, Smaug was all I could come up with. I just… get him.
5. Let’s talk romance! Pooling from all of Tolkien’s work, which two characters do you ship together most?
Obviously Aragorn and Arwen. I’m so happy about those two kids! I think their story is beautiful. The right kind of “forbidden love” if you ask me. I wish more people would reference them when describing relationships rather than Romeo and Juliet. It’s so much more of a love story. And, you know, less suicide.
Also, Rosie and Sam. I want to pinch their cheeks. So stinking adorable.
Truthfully, I’m not what one would call a “shipper”. I let what’s cannon be cannon.
6. Alright, alright. We all have at least one thing from Tolkien’s work that makes us waaaay too giddy and excited. Something that we could talk about for days. What’s yours?
The Elvish language.
I was OBSESSED with it for a long while. And, I still love it. I used to yell it at people I was mad at. When I had my horse, I often gave her commands in Elvish. I even helped design a tattoo for someone in Elvish.
I have more than one book on it. In high school all my computer passwords were in Elvish. (They’re not anymore, so don’t try anything sinister. Not that I have anything worth stealing…)
I think it’s just so cool. Tolkien was a master linguist. That’s one of the reasons I revere him. He really put his soul into his works, and it shows. The man created a gorgeous language. How can you not love that?!
I would have majored in Elvish in college, had they offered it.
Tag! You’re it!
Can I tag Stephen Colbert? I feel like, back in the day, I could almost compare to him in Tolkien lore knowledge. I haven’t been as emerged in it as I once was. So, I wouldn’t dare challenge the biggest, baddest, Tolkien nerd of all. But I’d love to see his answers!
Pipe dreams aside, I honestly challenge ANYONE who wants to gush about the wonderful J.R.R. Tolkien. Drop your links in the comments, or tag me on Twitter (@authorkdreed) so I can read your answers. Because, seriously, I could read about Tolkien all day. Every day. Forever. And ever.
Also, pop over to Kristen’s blog and read her post. Actually, read all her stuff. She’s super duper.
I found this super duper cool blog with awesome ideas and inspirations for getting your kids reading. It’s never too soon, or too late, to help the kidlets become readers. They’re the future! Get them some books! Seriously, check this out…
I take my five year old niece to the library every week. She loves it. I give her books every chance I get. I sent her a picture of her wrapped birthday presents last Saturday, because they were pretty, and I knew she’d be excited. She said “I bet that green one is a book!” And you know what? SHE WAS RIGHT. It cracks me up, yet makes me insanely proud that she associates me with books and reading. I try so hard to instill in her a love of stories and books. KT has some GREAT ideas. I’ll be implementing them! She’s giving us one thing a day for all of October! I know, I know, October is a little over halfway through. But! This is a really cool post with some great stuff.
Also, how is October almost gone? I feel like 2016 flew by.
Did you hear that?
Any who! Check this out. Get your kiddos reading! You know I wouldn’t share this if it weren’t important.