April Reads

                Four books for the month of April. One of them was on my overall reading list. I’m really enjoying reflecting on the books in my book journal. I feel like it benefits me not only as a reader, but also as a writer. I look deeper into the books and analyze technique more thoroughly and I feel like this helps me learn to be a better writer.

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

                This book was on my reading list. It was overall very intriguing. I wasn’t super attached to the characters, but I still wanted to know what happened to them. The underlying theme of the fantastical and unknown is what kept me hooked.

                The beginning was a little rough. Maybe it’s just because I don’t read a lot of YA, but it almost lost me before my 50 page limit. Some of the dialogue and situations were just a little too forced or cheesy for my taste, but I pushed forward because the plot held me.

                I felt the secondary characters were more real and full compared to the MC. The best friend is such a perfect, catty high school girl and you have a love/hate relationship with her throughout the entire book. The love interest is also a real person to me. I could even match him up with someone I really know. But Stella just didn’t do it for me. She was a little wishy-washy and felt a little too weak to be the hero she was supposed to come across as. Sure, she did some crazy things, but they felt like they were out of character for her.

                The beginning pacing was too slow for me and the love interest plot seemed completely out of place. He could have easily just stayed her friend and the story would have moved forward just fine. Towards the end, the pace and the suspense picked up and I finally found it hard to put down. Makes you question all the way up to the last chapter whether there are evil creatures afoot or if it’s simply evil men amongst them.

                The story wrapped up nicely and I didn’t feel cheated by the answers that were given, which can sometimes be the case in these types of books.

                Again, I probably would have had less complaints if YA was more my thing. The book was recommended to me, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Shudder Inn by A.R. Wise

                My immediate reaction was to read it a second time. I wanted to pick out all the little clues that pointed towards the ending I didn’t notice the first time through. I love a book that makes me react out loud. I found myself gasping in shock or fear, covering my mouth with anxiety, and saying “oh no!”. This book had me hooked from the get go.

                Most of the book is from Izzy’s point of view. She takes you through real life and dreams. There are also occasional snippets from other characters to fill in the blanks (although not all the way or else the ending wouldn’t be such a shock). The reader really can connect with the characters, they’re so realistic. I found myself caring about each of their lives, even the characters without much screen time. Even the ones that turn out to be the “bad guys” in the end.

               The world building is amazing. A.R. Wise wrote another series, 314 (which I highly recommend), and this book is connected to that world. Though you don’t have to read one to understand the other, reading both really paints a nice picture of what kind of craziness you’re dealing with. The creepy, otherworld, nightmare-esque components keep you holding on until the very last page. And then some, because I definitely want more of this story.

                The end of the book was, as I’ve mentioned, a complete shock. Anyone who was able to guess what was going to happen deserves an award. It’s left open for another book to follow (which I hope will happen) or you could be just left asking WTF.

The Omen by David Seltzer

                First, I would like to mention that I have not seen the movie. I’m not a big movie person in general, so unless a person sits me down to watch something, I probably have never seen it.

                I felt extreme sadness throughout this entire book. The intense situations that they have to deal with are a little unbearable. I don’t think I could have held on the way Jeremy did. He powered through so many crazy things, trying to defeat the evil that had entered his life.

                The characters are beautifully written and I was able to picture each of them clearly. (Like I said, I’ve never seen the movie.) I felt connected to their struggles and wanted so much for them to succeed.

                The suspense kept building through the novel, never letting go until the dramatic climax on the church steps. Each piece of new information feeds into the creepy atmosphere. Every accident and death leads you to believe the world really is doomed. There is no escaping the evil that has come to earth.

                The ending was not unexpected, and yet I still found myself holding onto a thread of hope that maybe all of it would be okay. A very satisfying read.

Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas

                This was my craft book for the month. Although a little dated, I still felt like it was full of useful information. There were several great examples of what to do and what not to do when writing a query letter. This was not the first book I’ve read on the subject, so I knew some of this already, but I did learn a thing or two.

                I’m sure there is an updated version out there, but I bought this book at a yard sale for $1 so I’m satisfied with what I got out of it. Great advice for anyone working on breaking into the market. Whether it be literary magazines, non-fiction, or fiction novels. Tips for querying agents, editors, and publishers.

                What have you been reading? Do you have any recommendations?