Whenever I’m working hard on a new writing project, I try to read more ink-on-paper books to give my eyes a rest from looking at a screen. This month I’m trying very hard to finish up a project for my local writers group, so I pulled out a few volumes taking up space on my bookshelf in hopes that I can fill up another box of books to donate – er, share with fellow readers.
The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
Isabel Dalhousie #1
I purchased this book at our writing group’s fundraiser. It took much longer for me to read this than it should have. It’s not terribly long, but there is very little actually happening, so there’s no incentive to continue. The narrative is full of unexpected (But not particularly exciting) tangents, and none of the characters stood out as interesting. There is a mystery, which is resolved in an expected way, though to me it was rather unsatisfactory. It’s difficult to imagine anyone is so well-versed in music, literature, art, and philosophy as the main character is, and her thoughts and actions brought to mind someone far older than she’s described. I have to agree with some other reviewers that Isabel sounds much more like a man in his 60s than a woman in her 40s. I did find it interesting that McCall Smith is a basoonist in an orchestra he founded, called the RTO – the Really Terrible Orchestra, and yet the photo on the book jacket shows him with a tuba. This is the first of a series, but I’m probably not going to look for any of the rest unless I need a good nap.
Sweet Tea at Sunrise by Sherryl Woods
The Sweet Magnolias, Book 6
I purchased a hardcover copy of this book at a library fundraiser, and it resided on my bookshelf for several years. At one time, I devoured every book I could find by Sherryl Woods, but as I get to know more authors and try to read their books, my old favorites were set aside. Anyway, my return to the world of this prolific author was well worth it. This is women’s fiction, with a strong dose of romance. The Sweet Magnolias are a group of friends in the small town of Serenity, South Carolina. The interesting thing about this group is that it includes two generations of women, and a few mother-daughter duos. Each installment in this eleven-book series focuses on one of the women in the group, and in this one, divorcee Sarah Price returns to her hometown of Serenity with her two young children. Meeting former MLB player Travis McDonald brings out many of her insecurities, not realizing he harbors a few of his own. Reading about the way they help each other gave me so much reading pleasure that as soon as I was done, I searched the online catalog for our local library and reserved the next book in the series.
Midnight Shores on Whisling Island by Julia Clemens
Whisling Island Series, Book 4
This is the only e-book for me this month, and I read it because I’m on Julia Clemens’ review team. The women in books 1, 2, and 3 are revisited, with storylines continued and new ones begun. A few romantic conflicts were satisfactorily resolved. I was glad to see Olivia finally make up her mind to give her handsome neighbor a chance. Bess finally realizes that the younger brother of her neighbor and longtime friend is truly devoted to her and that she should admit that her attraction to a younger man is a not a bad thing. Gen and Deb are still happy, and Lily is able to re-connect with her husband. Bess’ assistant Alexis is not so lucky in love, but is able to strengthen her relationship with her mother. The editing problems I saw in book 3 were not seen in this volume, so it was a nice easy read. I see book 5 is coming soon, and I’m wondering what’s in store for this group.
Honeysuckle Summer by Sherryl Woods
The Sweet Magnolias, Book 7
I borrowed this book from our local library. One of the characters in book 6, Raylene Hammond, played a pivotal role in helping Sarah and Travis resolve their conflicts. Raylene is a wonderful friend, but she suffers from agoraphobia. I wanted to find out how she overcomes that, and was happy that the next book in the series was about her. Since Raylene is confined to her house, she interacts only with the people who come to her, and the new sheriff’s deputy arrives when Sarah’s little boy runs off while in Raylene’s care. As with all Sherryl’s books, Raylene’s struggle to overcome her fears is related in gripping detail, and my heart suffered with her. This is a wonderful series.
So much for the label “Best Selling Author” or “Award Winning Author” or “Award Winning Story” (Referring to the first book you mentioned in you blog today). I’m really tired of reading that on almost every book you see. I’m an “Award Winning Author” too, but you’re never going to see that on my book covers. To me, it’s more important that the reader look at the back cover and read the synopsis for the story, then decide if it’s something that will interest them. These accolades are way over done.
The same thing with reviews on books. Sometimes they’re helpful. Other times, they’re not. We all have our preferences in what we call a “good read.” Some people, like my husband, prefer a slow, laid-back story. Others, like me, want a lot of action in the tale.
The book covers also drive me crazy when they don’t match the story inside. Why on earth would they have the character with a tuba if he’s a bassoon player? This is one of the beefs I have with traditional publishers. As an Indie, I make sure my book covers have something to do with the story, and the appearance of the characters on the book cover will match the character’s appearance inside.
Just my opinion. Sorry for the rant, but not really sorry. Had to say it. 🙂
It is truly unfortunate that once a manuscript leaves an writer’s hands, the publishing company seems to hand it over to those who do the covers and the author finds that the cover is all wrong.That is the complaint I hear most.
You have probably experienced it, Sharon.
Sometimes they get things really wrong, but this is one of the worst.
I wish that they would run the covers past the person who gave the story ‘life’.
Sorry I wasn’t more clear. Actually, the tuba is in a photo of the author on the back of the book jacket, not on the front cover. But the author’s bio clearly says he plays bassoon, so it puzzled me why they would photograph him with a tuba.
The term “best-selling” can certainly be misleading. My book The Samurai’s Garden reached #1 in its category (Japan history novels) a few times. Of course, there aren’t that many books in that category, so it wasn’t all that difficult. But my publisher immediately put “Best-seller” on all my books.
Well, you didn’t pull any punches with that first title [Sunday Philosophy]… nor should you. If things are as disjointed as you indicate — and I do NOT doubt your assessment — this author needs a stronger editing team.
As for the others: I’m still trying to decide what I think about long-running series. Other than a few juvenile sets — like Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Penny Parker (read recently) — I think I tend to get a bit lost in a series with numerous installments. Perhaps if I were to read them all, fairly close together, and beginning with Vol. 1… it could make a difference in my perception. But to read Book 5 in August, and finally track down Book 2 in January… well, you get the picture.
I will say, however, that I’ve enjoyed the relatively short series, such as Duffy Brown’s titles set in Savannah… and I’ve read the first of her series set on Mackinac Island.
Ha! I suppose I was frustrated that a book that short would take me so long to read. But then I started to think of the reasons I couldn’t get into the story. As Sharon noted, we all have our preferences, and the old-school “describe every detail and thought” narrative just doesn’t work for me.
Honest reviews! Love it. I have a line in this week’s Friday post that mentions not every idea is brilliant, and just because someone won some award doesn’t make everything they write brilliant, either. I can be honest about my own works, of course, to a certain extent. Some I think is not bad,but some I know are not very good. Even some in great series or other books by author’s whose works that are fantastic fall flat.I hope this was one fall for her.
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True. One can’t expect to hit the bull’s eye every single time.