Three of the Five Books I Read in July 2020

July was a trying month for many of us, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to infect and kill more and more people in the United States. Some of you reading this can breathe a sigh of relief because the worst of the first wave of the pandemic is over where you are.

With all the distractions in July, I found it difficult to concentrate enough to read much. Although I finished reading five novels, I started reading several other books and just couldn’t get into them. At least that got them off my To Be Read List. In today’s blog post, I’ll talk about three of the five books I read last month.

One of the books featured today was written by a prolific author, John Grisham. I’ve read 21 of his books. The other two are debut novels by Amy Jo Burns and Lauren Wilkinson.

Camino Winds, by John Grisham

Sequeal to Camino Island
Camino Winds, by John Grisham

I started July by reading John Grisham’s much-anticipated sequel to Camino Island (See You Must Read (Some of) These Books!.) Camino Winds did not disappoint. It continues with the same characters as Camino Island. We’re on an island in Florida with Bruce Cable, the man who owns and operates the little independent bookstore in the village. Mr. Cable has an interesting group of friends. Many of the people in this resort community are mystery writers.

There is a hurricane and a murder, and it takes the bookstore owner and all his friends to try to figure out who killed their friend. The guy who gets murdered is a lawyer, so there are any number of suspects.

Shiner, by Amy Jo Burns

Debut novel by Amy Jo Burns
Shiner, by Amy Jo Burns

To say fifteen-year-old Wren Bird lives in isolation would be a gross understatement. Her father is a self-proclaimed preacher who keeps boxes of poisonous snakes in the shed for the purpose of handling them in church. Wren’s mother does the best she can, but she lives under her husband’s thumb. They live miles from anyone else in West Virginia. They have no mailbox because Wren’s father doesn’t want them exposed to anything from the outside world.

This debut novel by Amy Jo Burns was recommended by one of the authors on Friends and Fiction on Facebook Live. Otherwise, I might not have heard of it. If I’d known in advance there would be so many references to snakes, I probably wouldn’t have given it a chance. It took me a while to get past the snakes, but the book was so compelling I kept reading.

There are a few other characters besides the Bird family. Wren is a determined young woman and she is not going to let that mountain, it’s snake handlers, or moonshiners (thus, the name, Shiner) keep her down. You will love Wren and want to read the entire book to see what unfolds.

I highly recommend this one!

American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson

American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson

American Spy is Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel. (No wonder my TBR list keeps growing!) I listened to this book. It is written in the form of a letter an American spy, who just happens to be a black woman, writes to her children to explain how and why the major events in her life and theirs came about.

I was intrigued by the novel being written in the form of one long letter. Especially since I was listening to the book, it felt like the author had written the letter to me – or was telling me her story. Somewhere along the way, I started forgetting that it was a letter, but I would remember for a short while before going back to feeling like someone was telling me a story.

American Spy was published early in 2019 and has received excellent ratings and rave reviews. It’s different from any other spy novel I’ve read.

Since my last blog post

I’m embarrassed to say that I did not work on my novel for 15 months. I’ve read books about writing and blogs about writing, but it’s been 15 months since I make changes in the manuscript. I was shocked when I figured this out! By concentrating on reading and studying books about the art and craft of writing fiction, I have neglected by fiction writing. Three weeks ago, I finally got back into the book and I’ve had a wonderful time getting reacquainted with all my characters.

I love to read, and I have a huge list of books I want to read; however, it is time for me to stop hiding behind my reading list and get back to doing the nitty-gritty work of polishing scenes and making my characters more memorable. If I miss posting on my blog one week, it will be because I’m either writing fiction or I’m sick. Assume it’s because I’m writing and didn’t get a blog post written.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have one or more good books to read. I’m listening to The Butterfly’s Daughter, by Mary Alice Monroe on Playaway while I take my daily walks. I’m reading We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America, edited by Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Frazier Page, but it’s fine print and is going slowly although extremely interesting and eye-opening. I’m reading The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott on my Kindle.

If you’re a writer or other artist, I hope you make time to hone and practice your craft.

Please wear a mask to protect those around you from the virus. Stay safe. Stay well. We’re all in this together.

Janet

15 thoughts on “Three of the Five Books I Read in July 2020

  1. Hello, Janet. You’ve reminded me that I need to get to work on the next essay for my site. Good luck with your fiction writing. As for reading: I’m nearing the end of Alice Munro’s Dear Life. It’s pretty good. Next up will be an Agatha Christie mystery.

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  2. You sound like me. I always have the next book or books I want to read in the pipeline. I haven’t read Dear Life. She is a master of the short story! You’ve reminded me I need to add it to my ever-growing TBR. Thank you, I think. LOL!

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  3. Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for the compliment. Not sure it’s deserved, though. I think you will enjoy Shiner! Did you come through the hurricane all right last night? We’re fine. Just a little rain in our area.

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  4. The American Spy book sounds really great. I miss when my grandmother and I would write letter to each other. I would probably enjoy reading this book! I’m glad you are back into writing your book.

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  5. Janet, thank you for your reviews. My reading these days is biographies of writers and paiters. I’ve had short stories published and have read lots of fiction. but have finaly realized that I prefer nonfiction. There are writers of fiction–some famous–who don’t read fiction either.

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  6. I didn’t read much fiction until my forties. I discovered that I needed to read fiction you I planned to write it. I heard historical fiction author Sharyn McCrumb speak a few years ago about the detailed research she does for her novels and decided some historical fiction is more accurate than nonfiction. I still enjoy reading both. My “reviews” aren’t really reviews, so you flatter me. At least, I don’t consider them so. There are some rules for reviews, and I don’t care to go down that road. I’m motivated again to work on my book. Let’s hope I can sustain this bit of momentum for a few more weeks until I get it to a point at which it can be critiqued. I sort of got the cart before the horse. I started with an outline, wrote the book, tweaked the book, changed setting twice, changed some of the names, tweaked more, and now I want to get the scenic plot outline critiqued to find out if I’ve got a good story, if my subplots work, and, hopefully, to find out I didn’t change points-of-view too frequently. I should have written the scenic plot outline first, but I’m learning as I go. It will be cheaper for me to get a outline critiqued than the entire manuscript, so that’s my next goal. Between the pandemic, a couple of family emergencies, car trouble, and the 2020 presidential election, some days it’s impossible to concentrate to read or write. This past week was a doozy, so I apologize for not responding to your gracious comment until now. Stay safe, my friend. It’s always good to hear from you.

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  7. Sorry to hear of your hiatus from writing. The upcoming election consumes me now resulting in a similar loss of writing spirit at times. Hopefully next year will be more fruitful.

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