READER’S CHALLENGE As I was putting this together I realized that the page reflects my tastes. Can you help me appeal to a wider audience? Maybe you could write a review of your favorite book, published within the last 3 years, or put me in touch with a writer whose book you recommend. I cannot guarantee I’ll like everything, but why not give it a try?
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ASPIRING WRITER’S CHALLENGE: Are you dreaming of having your own book reviewed? Before it is, before it’s published, consider getting a second opinion. Take a look at what we offer at Manuscript Consultation. Interested? Tell me what your book is about, how long it is, and ask for a free sample of my response to the first 500 words.
NOTE: We don’t have a firm schedule, but a new review will be posted approximately every 3-4 weeks.
- Love Decoded
- Written by Jennifer Yen and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #9780593117552 |
- Published by Razorbill (March 8, 2022)
- Razorbill is a division of Penguin-Random House
Success, Social Awkwardness and a Brand New App
How do you measure success today? How did you measure it when you were in high school? You’re still in high school? Even better. Do you find success in friendships, projects, education, preparation for college, or something totally different? And how different are your ideas from those of your classmates? All of this plus Asian American culture is explored in Jennifer Yen’s new YA, Love, Decoded.
Gigi Wong wants to be the best at everything and with college applications looming she’s worried she won’t make the cut. When her teacher announces she’ll be nominating students for an app writing contest, Gigi knows that winning will be sure to make her application stand out. All she has to do is come up with the best possible idea.
A new transfer student, Etta is a bit too loud and awkward to fit in. So Gigi, who was her mentor in a community catch-up program, decides to play matchmaker and create a friend-matching app. Of course it’s partially derived from watching her great aunt work as a matchmaker without any computer assistance as well.
What started out as an innocent idea becomes complicated when the app goes viral and Gigi finds herself at the center of a scandal that puts her at odds with both Etta and her best friend Kyle. In the tradition of Jane Austen novels, she must decide if her desire for perfection is more important than the respect of those closest to her.
Jennifer’s penned everything from poetry to fanfiction, though her passion lies in young adult and adult fiction. Drawing from her own experiences growing up as an Asian American, she loves writing about family, food, and love. She lives in Texas with her adorable rescue dog.
Her writing is smooth and skillful and her storyline is highly accessible. Love Decoded will appeal to anyone who’s ever fought for success. The ending is particularly satisfying.
- YOU’D BE HOME NOW
- Written by Kathleen Glasgow and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #: 978-0525708070
- Publisher : Ember (November 8, 2022)
Complexities and Consequences
Ever noticed what pressure does to even the best of teenagers? Kathleen Glasgow explores its effects along with the self images of two teenagers in Mill Haven’s most prominent family in a novel with reverberating impact, You’d Be Home Now.
Emory’s parents have always told her who she’s supposed to be. After all, the family is her great-great grandfather founded the town mill, making her family the most prominent one in the community. Pressured into a mold that doesn’t fit, Emory becomes a good girl in charge of her older, stoner brother, Joey. Both are passengers in a tcar accident that kills their friend, Candy MontClaire. Joey, who was stoned but not driving, is sent to rehab. Emory’s wrenched knee will keep her off the dance team, not that she really wanted to be there, knowing she didn’t fit in.
When Joey comes home the family holds their collective breath and the parents set lots of rules. Joey agrees but conquering addiction is as hard as overcoming the pressure to please others that is so prevalent among high school students. To Emory nobody around her seems to be the person the town believes they are—not her brother or the hunk who lives next door and claims to love her in private but is too good for her in public.
While this book is about coming of age, it’s also about coming into acceptance of who you are at any age, whether you’re a town leader, an addict, or someone between addresses living down by the creek on the great-great grandfather’s old mill property. Glasgow has done a superb job exploring family love and the complexities of relationships that most of us encounter sooner or later. She’s an extremely talented writer, and I recommend this story to anyone who’s ever felt different. Billed by some as a YA, it’s a cross-over book for anyone who cares about relationships.
- ALL GIRLS
- Written by Emily Layden and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN: 978-1529330106
- Griffin (February 22, 2022)
What if a sexual predator was still a teacher at a private girls’ school 20 years after he raped a student? What if the former student complained on posters plastered on all the roads leading to the campus? What if the students, who were there to discover their voices and passions, were silenced when they dug for the truth? What will the women at Atwater School learn in such a year, and how will it affect the rest of their lives? Emily Layden explores all of these questions along with a variety of student/faculty relationships in her stirring debut novel, All Girls.
The students at Atwater Prep are the cream of the crop. Intelligent, ambitious, and well-to-do, they are also teenage girls, finding their way at a prestigious boarding school. Arriving on campus for the fall term, they discover that an Atwater alumna has made a troubling allegation of sexual misconduct against a teacher she will not name, who is still on the Atwater faculty. The adults on campus cannot control the rumors or innuendoes, nor can they provide any resolution for the girls. Still they must act in loco parentis.
Told in a series of short stories set at various campus tradition and written from the points of view of several girls who know each other, the book explores the uncertainty that accompanies girls in adolescence. There are no simple solutions in the book any more than there are in life. The girls change as they experience the complexities of hierarchy, sexual decisions, anxiety, peer pressure, and being a woman in today’s world.
There’s something about the tone, about the lace of issues and decisions that will stay with you long after you finish the book. I’m eager to read whatever the author writes next.
Author Emily Layden is a graduate of Stanford University and has taught at several girls’ schools. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, The Billfold, and Runner’s World. As a teenager I would have loved this book, and as an adult I appreciated its inside look at boarding schools, which reminded me of my college experiences, as well as it’s nuanced look at the struggles contemporary teens face. I strongly recommend All Girls for women of all ages—well let’s say 14 or 15 and up, and for boys and men as well—especially if they’ve ever asked themselves what a woman wants.
- Saving Grace
- D.M. Barr
- ISBN-13 : 978-1684335565
- Black Rose Writing (October 15, 2020)
Marginalized Lives Endure
What happens when an heiress is drugged and mistreated from the age of six until she’s a grown woman with teenage sons? What happens when she realizes her story is fodder for an engaging novel? Can she fight back against her psychiatrist’s drugs, regain her confidence, and take her place in the world? You’ll know if you read D.M. Barr’s Saving Grace.
One night when she was a little girl Grace believed she saw two men dragging a body across the lawn. She screamed for her daddy, but whatever happened next has faded, so she has no choice but to believe those who tell her this was the onset of her intense paranoia.
Her rich father finds her a concerned psychiatrist, but when she gets married, he cuts her out of his will. Night after night fragmented dreams haunt her. So does her husband, Eliot, who now treats her more like a child than a wife. Her sons are in high school when she decides to write a story about a woman in similar circumstances, finds a skilled writer to mentor her, and begins unraveling increasing manipulation after her father is hospitalized following a stroke.
As she draws readers into her mind, they will appreciate both her plight and her evolving rescue plans. They’ll also learn to like Lynn Andrews, a successful mystery writer who is pushing Grace forward until the unthinkable happens. Many will identify with the supporting characters that assist Grace as she searches for Lynn’s killer. They prove that manipulation can be used for good as well as evil.
The further into the book you read the more you may be puzzled. Stick around, because the twists and turns pay off. This is a strong psychological thriller and a story about marginalized lives that will endure.
- RAISING THE BAR: A Lawyer’s Memoir
- Written by Ruth Rymer and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #:978-1662832048
- Mill City Press
Helping Women Rise Above Fear
Ruth Rymer has always been a determined woman. Raised by non-demonstrative parents, she decided to become an attorney when she was thirteen. Although she faced all kinds of roadblocks, including the fact that she is a woman, she turned the situation around and chaired the commission that established family law in California. She tells the story of her life, her family, her law career, and other accomplishments and tragedies in Raising the Bar: A Lawyer’s Memoir.
After growing up with intelligent but aloof parents, Rymer passed the bar in 1971, a year before Ruth Bader Ginsburg became general counsel to the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. As a newly minted attorney who had already experienced narcissism at home, Rymer made it her mission to root out misogyny in her professional life. In those days the starting salary for women is $1.65 for men and $1.35 for women, even if they were doing the same job. It could be challenging for a woman to get credit or even open a bank account in some states without a man to sign for her.
After marriage, three children, and a life that did not suit her, Ruth Rymer became an attorney on her fortieth birthday. Her law career included establishing family law as a certified specialty in California, which was a huge boon to women who lived under the thumb of power-hungry men. In 1996, Rymer was awarded a PhD for her study of divorce and the fight of women for their “lives, safety, sanity, and status.” In other words she helped women have the legal tools necessary to succeed in life. Her story is exceptional, and so are her contributions.
Thousands of women still benefit from Rymer’s courage and determination. In clear, direct prose she shows us how to rise above fear, take courage in hand, and become a leader in whatever field you chose. Like so many pioneering women, only her immediate circle would know her story unless she shared it herself. This is primary source material for anyone studying family law, and an excellent example of a woman sharing her truths without embellishment. It’s a good, quick read, especially for women who feel disempowered. Her story will get you back on your feet.
- END OF DAYS
- Written by Brad Taylor and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #: ISBN-13 : 978-0063210967
- Publisher: William Morrow, January 11, 2022
Taking Control of Evil
What is it like to fight crime as a secret agent? Ask author Brad Taylor. A retired Lieutenant Colonel, he has been writing the adventures of Pike Logan, a U.S. agent and one of the founding fathers of a secret group of elite agents controlled by the National Security Council for quite a while.
His latest adventure in the sixteenth Pike Logan novel, End of Days, takes us to the complex world of the Middle East, where Israeli and Muslim forces battle in quests to prove their philosophy is the right one. Pike must stop a deranged killer, Garrett and his cronies, who are determined to create mayhem between Israel and the surrounding nations in a battle motivated by a desire for revenge and a thirst for power as well as a desire to fulfill a biblical prophecy by destroying the third temple at Armageddon so that Christ can return, bringing about the end of days. Will contemporary justice prevail or will Garrett and his cohorts initiate the end of days predicted in the Bible?
After months confined in Charleston, SC because of COVID, Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are planning their wedding when two trusted Israeli allies, Shoshana and Aaron interrupt to inform them they’re needed to counteract this covert group currently hiding inside a long-standing, charitable organization called the Knights of Malta. Will Pike and his team be able to stop Garrett’s cohorts before they put the final battle between good and evil into play?
This thriller is filled with action, adventure, and characters driven to overcome evil. The first half of the book had me running to Google to check the names and relationships of countless Middle Eastern places and groups. Not a bad thing. My understanding of these complex relationships grew.
Readers will be deeply engaged in the tension and mesmerized by the terror of the second half of End of Days. Brad Taylor, who retired as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel is an skilled author who writes about what he knows. He holds a Master’s of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. In 2011, Taylor published his debut novel, One Rough Man, an immediate success that launched the Pike Logan series. Now with more than 15 installments and more than 3 million copies sold, the series has consistently hit the New York Times bestseller list.
This is perfect for fans of thrillers and action-packed stories of daring men and women who’ll do anything to defy the obstacles and with a battle.