Started 4/24 Finished 4/28
I spent the 24th and 25th traveling, so I finished Willa and the Dark Hollow . . . Then I started all over again. There are things you see when you read something twice. Now I’m on chapter 46 out of 62, and I’m heading for that big finish, again.
In Book 1, I found out who Willa was as a character, how she dealt with the evil within her own world, then discovered a new family outside it.
I liked Book 1, but I loved Book 2! It’s how Willa saves the magical world of the Smokies. It’s a great fantasy with bits of history blended in. Willa discovers how the Smokies are a world of plants, animals, and people. Loggers and mountain folk, Cherokee and Faeran . . . It doesn’t matter who you are. No one can exist in isolation after 1901. The Smokies changed, and cooperation is key to everyone’s, to everything’s survival.
The world of the Faeran, whose wood witches communicate with nature, make this a truly original story, It isn’t a bit preachy. I was cheering for Willa from beginning to end. She’s the perfect hero. She even has a sacrificial ending. Personally, I wanted her to be happy, but this one fit the plot. Book 2 will stand alone, but it’s richer if you read Book 1 first.
PS – Book 2, with the loggers’ story, is part of how the Great Smoky Mountains’ National Park was created in 1934.
NOTE: Willa of Dark Hollow is a stand-alone story that does not require reading any of the author's previous books. Plunge into an exciting story of history, mystery, & magic from the best-selling author of the Serafina series. Loved by adults and young readers alike, Kirkus Reviews has awarded Dark Hollow the prestigious Kirkus Star, calling it "a captivating, stirring tale of family and friendship.
"The Great Smoky Mountains. 1901. Willa and her clan are the last of the Faeran, an ancient race of forest people who have lived in the mountains for as long as the trees have grown there. But as crews of newly arrived humans start cutting down great swaths of the forest she loves, Willa is helpless to stop them. How can she fight the destroyers of the forest and their powerful machines? When Willa discovers a mysterious dark hollow filled with strange and beautiful creatures, she comes to realize that it contains a terrifying force. Is unleashing these dangerous spirits the key to stopping the loggers? Willa must find a way to save the people and animals she loves and take a stand against an all-consuming darkness that threatens to destroy her world. For readers from 8 to 108.
Started 4/20 Finished 4/23
Next up, Killing Jesus. I didn’t plan to, but somehow it called out to me. It’s well done, but not my favorite book from the Killing series. Maybe it’s because I know so much about Jesus from years of church. Maybe it’s because the authors didn’t go into faith, which is the most important thing about Jesus, for me. But then, writing it from a purely factual, historical point of view makes sense for a broader audience, for people who don’t know or follow Jesus.
The story starts not with the birth, but with the killing of babies in and around Bethlehem. They were age two and under. It ends with the women finding the tomb open and Jesus gone. What did surprise me is how the disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ words or actions, how he was telling them that his death was coming. That fascinated me.
The afterword goes into his story after death – how it was told by the disciples, and by other historians. It includes the fate of the disciples. They dreamed of glory, but died deaths like Jesus. The Maries, Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother, they disappear after the crucifixion.
I was surprised to learn what happened to the villains . . . Emperor Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, and Herod Antipas. I never wondered about them, ever. Killing Jesus finishes with the influence Jesus had on the Roman world, and the effect he continues to have today.
Millions of readers have thrilled to bestselling authors Bill O'Reilly and historian Martin Dugard's Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, page-turning works of nonfiction that have changed the way we read history.
Now the iconic anchor of The O'Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Nearly two thousand years after this beloved and controversial young revolutionary was brutally killed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. Killing Jesus will take readers inside Jesus's life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable - and changed the world forever.
Started 4/14 Finished 4/19
I tried and failed to write last night so I’ll try, try again. I’ve read Killing Lincoln before, probably a couple times. It called me back again last week. No surprise . . . I’ve admired Abe since I was a kid, and each time I read this biography I learn a little more. The writing and research are that good.
It’s hard to write nonfiction, even harder to make it read like a story, and this biography has details I’ve never read anywhere else. Mary Todd Lincoln’s depression is in lots of places, but this is the only one that said the last time she saw Abe, she gave him permission to die. It was only a sentence or two, but it caught my attention, this time. I did the same thing for my dad the last time I saw him back in 2015. It’s something I’ll never forget.
The authors helped me get to know each character in Lincoln’s story . . . from Abe and Mary . . . to Generals Grant and Lee . . . to John Wilkes Booth himself. It was like having a narrator feed me facts as I read, but only on a need-to-know basis. Lines like Abe, ‘the man who had five days to live,’ pushed the ticking clock, and the drama. They’re sprinkled throughout the manuscript. If you like history and you’re fascinated with Abraham Lincoln, you should pick up this book.
A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O'Reilly
The iconic anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.
In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.
Started 4/6 Finished on 4/13
What did I read? A little bit of this, and a little bit of that! I had a couple writing friends with picture books coming out. I had another one with a middle grade novel. I took my time reading . . . until I discovered its debut date . . . the next day. I was on chapter 7, and I finished the whole book in the next day and a half. When I make a promise, I keep it!
I didn’t share them because they’re part of my business. Reading picture, chapter, and middle grade novels are what I do professionally. I reviewed each book, and those reviews are on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. Eventually I’ll pull them up and put them into My Reads reviews.
BTW – the only books I review are ones that I can give 4’s or 5’s. If a score is less than that, I’d rather let the author know why I didn’t review it. I’ve read over 500 books so I have lots to choose from.
The books in this post are things I’m reading for fun. Sometimes I pick romance novels. Sometimes I pick fantasy or biography. I have over 300 books on my kindle so, I reread them. Then I buy a book or too. It’s like a treasure hunt finding new ones.
PS – I also finished Willa of the Woods. Would you believe it’s way more fun to read when it’s not business? Now . . . to buy the sequel!
PPS – I didn’t finish Harry Potter. I wasn’t in the mood. Maybe when I’m at the lake, I’ll take a couple weeks and read the whole series, just for fun. That’s my favorite kind of reading!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!