Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels’ by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain + Blogathon Annoucement

For August’s Buzzwordathon, the theme is ‘Items/Objects’. Originally, I was going to read Redwood Curtain by Lanford Wilson. This is because a) a curtain could be considered an item/object and b) I already own a copy of Lanford Wilson’s play. But I ended up watching the film adaptation of Redwood Curtain earlier than expected. Therefore, I decided to write an editorial on how similar and different Redwood Curtain’s adaptation is from its source material. That editorial will be published during The Fifth Broadway Bound Blogathon. In the meantime, I have selected Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels for this month’s Buzzwordathon, especially since ‘jewels’ could also be considered an item/object! I have blogathon news of my own as well, so keep reading to find out what’s to come!

Here is a photo of my copy of Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Back in 2019, I reviewed Murder, She Wrote: The Highland Fling Murders. One of the favorite aspects of that book was how distinctive each character was, as there were a lot of characters in the story. Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels contains the same strength. Whether in Cabot Cove or on the Queen Mary 2, each character was unique from one another. At the beginning of the book, the readers are introduced to Maniram, Cabot Cove’s newest resident. He is a jeweler who owns his own jewelry store, sharing his knowledge of valuable gems with Jessica and her friends. Also in this story is Maniram’s cousin, Rupesh. He is a man of many talents, from being a skilled karate athlete to being very knowledgeable with computers. Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels presents him as a room steward on the Queen Mary 2. But as the story progresses, readers find out just how different Rupesh is from Maniram.

Cruise ship near an island image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/holiday-background-on-a-cruise_1182003.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Out of the Murder, She Wrote episodes I’ve seen so far, my favorite one is “Film Flam”. What makes this episode great is its educational and insightful approach to the movie premiere process. In Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, part of the book takes place in London. Instead of bringing up locales that many readers would be familiar with, locations that aren’t often talked about are included in the text. One of them was Grosvenor Square. According to the book, this area was known as “Little America”. A reason is General Eisenhower’s headquarters were located in the Square. During her London adventure, Jessica has dinner at a restaurant called The Ivy. This establishment does exist, boasting a fine dining experience, according to The Ivy’s website. In the book, Jessica describes the restaurant as a “celebrity-driven restaurant that has long been a favorite of London’s theatrical and motion picture crowd”. Meanwhile, The Ivy’s website states “With an enduring celebration of the arts and culture that have defined it since its naissance, The Ivy remains part of the fabric of London life, and a home away from home for its many loyal guests”. Because of reading Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, I learned more about London’s landscape that I didn’t know before.

Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I like about the Murder, She Wrote books is how the stories aren’t novelizations of pre-existing episodes. While this is the case for Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, it didn’t really feel like the show. That’s because so few characters from the show and previous books were featured. In Murder, She Wrote: The Highland Fling Murders, a Scotland Yard agent and friend of Jessica’s, George Sutherland, was working alongside Jessica to solve that book’s mystery. When I found out George would be in Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, I was excited to read about his and Jessica’s reunion. But as I read this book, I discovered George only made a handful of appearances. Compared to other mystery books I’ve read, the sense of urgency in Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels was weaker. What contributed to this flaw was how most of the story focused on Jessica’s trip instead of the mystery. Another contributor was how two intelligence agents were responsible for solving the case. That creative decision made the mystery seem like it was out of Jessica’s reach. It affected her ability of getting involved with the book’s case, especially compared to the show.

Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

I haven’t read many of the books in the Murder, She Wrote series. But out of those I have read, Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels is my least favorite. This book was fine, interesting enough to keep me invested in the story. However, I was expecting more. There was a short period of time where I lost motivation to read this book. Not wanting to experience another Buzzwordathon fail, I finished the story, especially since I wanted to find out what happens. I do plan to read more Murder, She Wrote books. One of them will be reviewed for my upcoming blogathon. As I stated in the introduction, I had blogathon news to share. That news is I’m hosting a blogathon this November! The theme is ‘World Television Day’. More details about the event will follow…

Overall score: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: Because Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels is a murder mystery story, the subject of murder is brought up on more than one occasion. A suicide is also briefly mentioned and swearing does occur a few times.

Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘The Bookshop on the Corner’ by Jenny Colgan

It’s that time again; another review for this year’s Buzzwordathon! July’s theme is ‘Bookish Words’. Since the word ‘bookshop’ was an obvious choice, I selected The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. At the beginning of my copy of the book, Jenny includes a message to the readers. This message explains the different places a book can be read, sharing tips to help the reader have a good reading experience. Jenny’s message was a nice gesture to her audience, as it felt genuine. In this message, Jenny shares how she purposefully gave her characters different names, in an attempt to avoid confusion. As a reader, I appreciated this creative decision because it was easier to remember who was who. But another creative decision I liked was how Jenny gave each character a distinct personality and characteristics. With a mostly strong use of character development, this allowed the characters to be unique and memorable from one another. The use of descriptive imagery toward settings and scenery was one of the strongest components of The Bookshop on the Corner! Through select word choices, Jenny paints a distinguishable landscape between the city (Birmingham, England) and the country (Kirrinfief, Scotland) that feels realistic. One example is when Jenny describes sunshine in the countryside. She refers to this natural element as “golden”. She also writes about the sunlight’s effect on other pieces of nature, such as how it is “illuminating every crystal raindrop”. Literary details like these help elaborate the story’s surroundings.

Here is a photo of my copy of The Bookshop on the Corner. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

There’s nothing wrong with incorporating romance into a story. In fact, some of my favorite Hallmark films feature at least one romance. But what makes or breaks that romance is the execution of its dynamic. Many types of romances can be found in literature, from stories about “enemies to lovers” to a tale revolving around “college sweethearts”. When an author chooses one of these dynamics early on in their writing process and consistently utilizes that dynamic, that story may have the potential to be a well-told narrative. Unfortunately, this is not what happened in The Bookshop on the Corner. While reading Jenny’s book, it seems like she couldn’t decide which romance dynamic she wanted to adopt. Instead of choosing one and sticking with it, Jenny picked four of them. Because of their inconsistent presence and lack of confidence, none of these dynamics worked. In fact, the fourth romance dynamic (which is found toward the end of the book) was so unexpected, it felt like I was reading a completely different book.

Essentials of Scotland image created by macrovector_official at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector_official – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

The inconsistent execution of the romance dynamics is just one flaw in The Bookshop on the Corner. The titular bookshop (which was not a brick-and-mortar store or on the corner, as the cover and title suggest) is more of an afterthought. That’s because the majority of the story is a “slice of life” tale chronicling the protagonist’s adjustment to her surroundings. Nina’s, the protagonist’s, literary matchmaking is really moments of convenient coincidence just to push the story forward, instead of problem-solving skills Nina acquired over time. The more I read The Bookshop on the Corner, I more I found myself disliking Nina. What started as an admirable and somewhat relatable protagonist evolved into a selfish and narrow-minded person. When I first read the synopsis for this book, it sounded like a typical Hallmark Channel “rom-com”. But now that I read The Bookshop on the Corner, it is nothing like those productions. If you enjoy Hallmark movies, books about books, or Scottish stories, please seek elsewhere. You aren’t missing anything by not reading this story.

Overall score: 1.7 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: As I mentioned in my review, The Bookshop on the Corner is not like a typical Hallmark Channel “rom-com”. The content that prevents it from being like that aforementioned type of story is the following:

  • Several chapters discuss a male and female character having sex
  • Some swearing can be found throughout the story
  • One chapter chronicles a lamb giving birth. A lamb being injured is also mentioned.
  • At one point in the story, Nina talks to her friend about a character from a picture book being presented unfavorably. That friend calls Nina out for sounding “weird”.
  • A Latvian man is described as “exotic”
  • Nina’s friend, Surinder, says, on more than one occasion, Nina has “gone native” after she moved to the country.
  • A teenage character is described as being “puppy fat”
  • A character with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) is briefly discussed

Buzzwordathon 2022 – Review of ‘A Horse Called Holiday’ by Frances Wilbur

June’s theme of Buzzwordathon is ‘All’. This means the word ‘all’ has to appear somewhere in the title. Originally, I was going to read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. But I figured reading a five hundred and thirty plus page book after a three hundred- and forty-three-page book (The Light Between Oceans) put me in a “reading slump” was not a wise decision. Therefore, I decided to read A Horse Called Holiday by Frances Wilbur instead. This is because a) the book is two hundred and three pages and b) the word ‘all’ is found within the word ‘called’.

Here is a photo of my copy of A Horse Called Holiday. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Despite this change of plans, there were aspects of the book I liked! Frances took the time to showcase the world of equine sports, specifically show jumping. She goes into detail on how much time, effort, and money it takes to find success in this particular hobby/extracurricular. When it comes to horse-related stories in entertainment media, specifically those for a younger audience, some of them might end up glamorizing the idea of horse ownership. With that said, I appreciate Frances’ realistic approach to equine related activities. I also liked the protagonist, Meredith “Middie” Scott! Even though she has her flaws, Middie has admirable qualities as well. One of them is how hard she works toward her dream of being a successful horse rider. Throughout the story, Middie takes care of other people’s horses. She does this to gain riding experience and earn money to afford a horse of her own. Since A Horse Called Holiday would be classified as a middle grade story, Middie is a good character for younger readers to look up to. At various points in the book, the text is written in italized letters. These passages are from the titular horse’s perspective.  Through these passages, the reader learns more about Holiday’s past, such as why he is so good at jumping fences. Insight into why Holiday reacts the way he does is provided, giving a unique component to this story!

Horse with saddle photo created by Topntp26 at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stallion-black-equine-race-sky_1104246.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Topntp26 – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

In the book’s synopsis, it states “Middie’s always taken the easy way out”. Some characters remind Middie how she rushes through certain tasks. But throughout the story, these claims didn’t feel consistent. That’s because, over the course of the book, the reader also sees Middie working hard toward her dream. Since there was more evidence for the latter than the former, it felt like the text was giving mixed messages. An overarching issue within Middie’s life was how she felt unappreciated due to her birth being “unexpected”. Because most of the story focuses on Holiday’s training, Frances ends up telling instead of showing the Scott family’s struggles. This emphasis on Holiday’s training also caused the overall conflict to be weaker. While it does provide interesting insight into show jumping, some readers might find A Horse Called Holiday boring due to the limited amount of intrigue.

In my opinion, A Horse Called Holiday is a fine, harmless, horse-related story. In fact, it would be a good introduction to horse-related literature. Without spoiling the book, I will say the resolutions were nice, but expected. However, the story is straight-forward and easier to follow.

Overall score: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: There is one chapter in A Horse Called Holiday featuring horses getting hurt. One rider is described as “plump” and Holiday’s deafness is described as a “handicap”.

My First Buzzwordathon Fail

Earlier this year, when I announced I would be participating in the Buzzwordathon readathon, I joined the event with the intent of finishing each book in their respective, allotted time-frame. From January to April, I was successful in my attempts, providing a review for each book before the end of the month. When May rolled around, the theme was ‘Directions’. Since ‘between’ is a prepositional, directional word, I planned to read The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish reading it in May. That’s because the book put me in a “reading slump”. For those who don’t know, a “reading slump” happens when you lose motivation to read and/or finish a book. In my case, I saw The Light Between Oceans movie before I read the source material. I haven’t seen the film in years. But, based on what I remember, the movie was faithful enough to the book to satisfy the reader. At times, this made me wonder, “Why am still reading the book”?

Here is a photo of my copy of The Light Between Oceans. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Because I try to be a blogger of my word, I will still publish a review of The Light Between Oceans. Even though this book put me in a “reading slump”, there are aspects of it I liked. One was how honest the writing felt. Various moments of the story provided thought-provoking statements due to the text’s honesty. Isabel, the book’s female protagonist, points out how her brothers didn’t receive a funeral. Violet, Isabel’s mother, reflects on why she made that decision. The text reveals the lack of funeral for Isabel’s brothers is because Violet didn’t want to admit her sons were never returning home. Until I read The Light Between Oceans, I had never thought about funerals in that sense. Another strength in M. L. Stedman’s writing was the use of descriptive imagery. The way people, places, and objects were described gave the reader a chance to picture them in their mind. When Tom, Isabel’s husband, visits Janus’ lighthouse for the first time, M. L. Stedman writes about each layer of the structure. As Tom reaches the top of the lighthouse, the different components of the light itself, such as the lenses used to position the light, allow readers who may have never visited a lighthouse before to get up-close to the lighthouse’s mechanics. Because of how strong M. L. Stedman’s descriptive imagery was, it brought the text to life!

Good sailing day image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/summer-landscape-with-a-houselight-and-a-boat_866882.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Design vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

The Light Between Oceans starts with Tom and Isabel’s discovery of Lucy and her biological father. The book is also divided into three parts. I found these creative decisions unnecessary as 1) Lucy’s discovery is an event included in the book’s synopsis, so the reader already knows what to expect and 2) the story itself is straight forward. I also didn’t think it was necessary for the book to be over three hundred pages. After a certain event in the story takes place, the text becomes drawn out and repetitive. Each chapter feels like M. L. Stedman tried to put as much content as possible into each chapter. As I’ve already mentioned, The Light Between Oceans put me in a “reading slump”. But, as I’ve also said, this is because I was familiar with the story prior to reading the book. If I had known how similar the film adaptation and its source material were to each other, I would have stuck with my memories of the movie. With that said, if you’ve read the book, you’ve already seen the film, and vice versa.

Overall score: 3 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: The Light Between Oceans is a dramatic book that contains overarching, heavier topics. These topics are miscarriage, the aftermath of war, and grief associated with death. The book also discusses the subject of prejudice. There are some swear words in the text and the mention of someone vomiting.

Buzzwordathon 2022 – Review of ‘A Little Princess’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett

With my Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon underway and the start of May around the corner, it’s time for another Buzzwordathon book review! For April, the theme is ‘Big & Little’. Participants had one of two options: 1. Read a book that has the word ‘big’ or ‘little’ in the title or 2. The title has to feature a word associated with ‘big’ or ‘little’. Because I happen to own a beautiful copy of A Little Princess and because ‘little’ is in the middle of that book’s title, I decided to read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic! The 1905 story has been a favorite of mine for a very long time. However, this is the first time I read it in a novel format.

Here is a screenshot of my copy of A Little Princess. Sorry if the cover’s bottom half appears blurry. I tried to capture how sparkly the cover is. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

While reading A Little Princess, I became nostalgic of the 1995 adaptation, as I have loved that film since its release. So, it was interesting to read how similar and different the movie was from its respective source material. One major difference is how Frances provides explanations for character motivations and situations. I haven’t seen the 1995 adaptation of A Little Princess in years. From what I remember, though, Sara’s dad goes missing during battle and is assumed dead. This provides the catalyst for Sara’s struggles and lost fortune. Looking back on the film, it never made sense, to me, for Sara to lose everything simply because her father was missing in action. If her dad knew there was a chance he could be in danger, wouldn’t he have created a will for Sara? The source material provided a stronger explanation for the lost fortune, as Sara’s father invested in diamond mines, but his money was mishandled. Even though this situation is resolved by the book’s end, the inclusion of these explanations was a strength for the book itself!

Princess tiara image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/ornamental-princess-crowns_1109199.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/gold”>Gold vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Another strength of the book is how Frances used descriptions to flesh out the characters and their world. At the beginning of the story, Sara is referred to as “wise beyond her years”. She’s also described as “intelligent”, “imaginative”, and “courageous”. Interactions between characters and narrations from an anonymous narrator provide proof of those statements. On the first day of class, Miss Minchin gives Sara a French textbook in preparation for an upcoming French lesson. Throughout this scene, Sara tries to explain to the headmistress that she already knows basic French, as she grew up learning the language from her dad. It’s not until the French teacher arrives that he and Miss Minchin discover how advanced Sara is in French. In the 1995 adaptation, important and timeless messages and themes can be found throughout the story. That is also true for the source material! Because Sara imagines she is a princess, she assumes how a princess would behave. This includes assuming how a princess would treat others. After finding some money on the ground, Sara plans to buy some food from a nearby bakery. But just before she enters the bakery, Sara sees a girl who appears to be worse off than herself. With the found money, Sara purchases a set of rolls. But she ends up giving most of the rolls to the aforementioned girl.

Here is one of the full page illustrations that is featured in my copy of A Little Princess. Artwork created by Ethel Franklin Betts and found on https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Little_Princess.

Even though A Little Princess has been near and dear to my heart, I’ll be one of the first readers to admit it is not a perfect or near perfect book. Though this flaw wasn’t consistent throughout the text, there were times when parts of the story were repetitive. A portion of the book’s last chapter provides a great example, as it re-caps almost everything that happened prior to that point. As a reader, I don’t like longer chapters. This can, sometimes, cause a book’s pace to be slower. While A Little Princess’ pace was steady, the book contained longer chapters, with thirteen pages given to the longest chapter. In my copy of the book, there are full page illustrations that bring to life certain parts of the story. I honestly wish these illustrations had a more consistent presence, as they could have broken up some of the chapters. Other than that, though, I still enjoyed reading A Little Princess all these years later! I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to read it again!

Overall score: 4.1 – 4.2 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: Because A Little Princess was published in 1905, some of the words and phrases are reflective of that time, with their context different from today. A few of these words are “queer”, “gay”, “fat”, and “chubby”. At one point in the story, a man from India is referred to as “oriental”. There is also a stereotype about Chinese people included in the text. Again, these parts of the story are reflective of the book’s time; 1905.

Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘Private L.A.’ by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

Three days ago, I reminded readers and followers that my blogathon, the Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon, was on its way. For those who aren’t aware, this event highlights stories where a trip doesn’t go according to plan. Whether these trips go hilariously or horrifyingly wrong, they have one thing in common: attempting to reach a desired destination. This leads me to address my selection for March’s Buzzwordathon! The theme this time around is ‘Locations’. Since L.A. (Los Angeles) is a real-life location, I selected Private L.A. by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan!

Here is a screenshot of my copy of Private L.A. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

The first book co-written by James Patterson I had read was Confessions: The Private School Murders. Unfortunately, this book was, for me, a disappointment, as a side mystery monopolized the overall story. Private L.A. avoids that issue by devoting a satisfying amount of time to the novel’s main mystery, which involves the disappearance of a powerful acting couple. This book also highlights a mystery featuring a group of criminals called ‘No Prisoners’. However, the text provides an equal amount of attention to both mysteries, going back and forth between first- and third-person narration. When I purchased my copy of Private L.A., I didn’t know it was the sixth book in a series. Despite this, the book does not heavily rely on events from the previous installments. If a character or situation is introduced in the text, Jack (the protagonist) informs the readers of their significance to him. It should also be noted how Private L.A.’s chapters are shorter in page length. This allows the story’s overall pace to be faster, which works for mysteries taking place in “real time”.

Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

There are some parts of Private L.A. I felt were unnecessary. Breaking the book up into sections was one of them. Throughout the story, there was a prologue, five separate parts, and an epilogue. I recognize this creative decision was made to group certain areas of the story together. But since the chapters were so short, these sections felt like they were included for the sake of being there. Along with the two aforementioned mysteries, Private L.A. contained two subplots. The first one focused on preparations for the murder trial of Jack’s brother, Tommy. Even though I haven’t read the Private series in its entirety, I’m guessing this is an overarching story for the series. However, I wish this subplot was one of the main plots in another book, in order to receive enough time to reach a resolution.

Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

The second subplot, revolving around Justine Smith, also didn’t receive a resolution. Justine is a close friend and co-worker of Jack’s. Her subplot is comprised of two narratives; dealing with PTSD and her growing feelings for a man named Paul. While it was interesting to read about Justine coming to terms with her PTSD symptoms, her interactions with Paul were lackluster. Justine’s story grew frustrating after she witnesses Paul interacting with a woman, causing her to assume his relationship status with little to no proof. Honestly, I wish Justine’s story had solely focused on how she dealt with PTSD. Some parts of Private L.A. needed descriptive imagery. When characters from the LAPD and ‘No Prisoners’ were incorporated into the story, I found it difficult to decipher who was who. This is because the characters seemed, more often than not, interchangeable.

Therapy session image created by Pressfoto at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/businesswoman-talking-to-her-psychologist_860909.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Pressfoto – Freepik.com</a>.  Image found at freepik.com.

Prior to this year’s Buzzwordathon, I had never read any books from the Private series. Despite jumping into the middle of the story, I enjoyed Private L.A for what it was! It was interesting to read how each mystery unfolded, as well as seeing how each of the dots connected. But because of this book’s subject matter, the story might not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. I wouldn’t say Private L.A is a “good” book, but it was better than being just fine. It was an intriguing and well-written story that was also a nice introduction to the series. Therefore, I wouldn’t oppose reading more Private books!

Overall score: 3.8 – 3.9 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: As I mentioned in this review, the subject matter in Private L.A. prevents the book from being everyone’s “cup of tea”. This content is the following:

  • Swearing on several occasions
  • References to sex toys on a few occasions
  • In Justine’s subplot, it is mentioned she and Paul had sex. However, this interaction is not described in detail.
  • Several murders take place in this story. Some of them are described in detail.
  • References to children in danger
  • References to a dog in distress (the dog in question is never harmed)
  • The use of slurs on two occasions
  • One member of ‘No Prisoners’ disguises himself as a woman. He only does this in an attempt to carry out his mission.
  • Two chapters that feature sexual assault

Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘Wish You Well’ by David Baldacci

Another month means another Buzzwordathon review! For February, the theme is ‘Pronouns & Possessive Pronouns’. Because one of the eligible words is ‘you’, my selection is Wish You Well by David Baldacci! Prior to participating in Buzzwordathon, I have read The Christmas Train, which I loved. I also enjoyed its respective film adaptation from Hallmark Hall of Fame. So, when I purchased Wish You Well at a garage sale back in 2019, I thought I might like it. But, in all honesty, I found the book just ok. One of the reasons is about 80% of the book is a “slice of life” story, a type of story I, personally, don’t find as interesting as other stories. Since some parts of the “slice of life” story revolve around farm life, there were times when Wish You Well felt repetitive. Another way the overall story felt repetitive was when the protagonist, Lou, runs away anytime something bad happens. Lou is named after her great-grandmother, Louisa. Because of how similar these names are, it was sometimes difficult to tell which character David was referring to. A few coincidences that seemed too convenient also hurt this book’s case, such as how a restaurant in the small town of Dickens just so happened to be named after the state Lou and her brother, Oz, are from. Wish You Well’s page count is 399. For a story of this nature, I thought this page count made the book longer than necessary.

Here is a screenshot of my copy of Wish You Well. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

 David’s writing style in Wish You Well is lyrical, to the point where it almost feels flowery. So, if you’re not paying attention to the text, you might find yourself confused by what is happening in the story. Fortunately, I never found this to be a problem, as the story itself is straight forward. David uses the chosen writing style in his favor, putting that effort toward his book’s world building and character development! The way locations are described help the reader picture them in their mind. One example is when David writes about a train station as being “a glorified pine-studded lean-to”. Through his writing, David is able to create characters that are unique to one another. With the descriptive details he chooses, a character like Louisa, for example, sounds as if David is talking about a real-life individual. There are tense moments sprinkled into the story, which held my interest. A court case that takes place toward the end of the book was a tense part of the story that held higher stakes. Because I had never read Wish You Well before, I was curious of the court case’s outcome.

Sunny autumn landscape picture created by Kotkoa at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/autumn-forest_1436222.htm’>Designed by Kotkoa</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Kotkoa – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

In the afterword material from my copy of the book, David explained how learning about his family’s history was his inspiration for Wish You Well. From the sounds of that, it seems like his intentions were good and his heart was in the right place. But I wish David had written a memoir about his family’s history and his journey through learning about that history, instead of penning a fictional version of it. While reading Wish You Well, I could see how the book inspired a non-profit organization of the same name; the Wish You Well Foundation. However, as I stated earlier, I thought this book was just ok. In the future, I do plan to seek out more of David’s literary work, especially his mysteries/thrillers, as I haven’t read any of those yet. Hopefully, the next book of David’s I read, as well as March’s Buzzwordathon pick, is stronger than Wish You Well.

Overall score: 3 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: Wish You Well contains some content that some readers may find offensive. This content is the following:

  • One character who uses racial slurs on more than one occasion*
  • The use of the word “hobos”*
  • A chapter focusing on a woman giving birth
  • At least one mention of an animal passing away
  • At least one mention of a child passing away
  • A child smoking on a few occasions
  • The use of swear words on some occasions
  • References to child abuse
  • References to a car accident

(* — This is in relation to the book’s time period, 1940)

Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘How to Write Good’ by Ryan Higa

Earlier this month, I announced I was participating in this year’s Buzzwordathon. In that announcement, I said I would write reviews for the books I read during this readathon, as a way to stay motivated throughout the year. Because I just finished reading my pick for January, it’s time for the first review of Buzzwordathon! This month’s theme is ‘Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How’, meaning my choice had to have one of these words in the title. With that said, I chose How to Write Good by Ryan Higa!

Here is a screenshot of my copy of How to Write Good. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

In this book, the Youtuber explains how to write a book by using parts of his life to elaborate these steps. As an avid reader and someone who has an interest in writing, I already knew what these steps were. However, it was interesting to read them from the perspective of a non-professional writer. The parts of his life that Ryan shares are those that were brought up in his ‘Draw My Life’ video from this Youtube channel. In How to Write Good, these parts are explained in further detail, which allows the reader to gain insight into Ryan’s thought process and sense of humor. Speaking of humor, the comedy that Ryan became well-known for on the internet does appear in this book. One area where his humor is present is the consistent comic strips. How to Write Good features comic strips of Ryan and his ghostwriter, Sarah, who appears in these strips as a literal ghost. This play on the word ‘ghostwriter’ shows the cleverness that can be found in Ryan’s Youtube videos!

Here is a screenshot of one of How to Write Good‘s comic strips, to illustrate the point I make in the next paragraph. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

As I already said, How to Write Good contains comic strips revolving around Ryan and Sarah. Even though these illustrations are good, I wish they were more colorful. The comic strips in this book are coated in a predominantly blue hue, with pops of red every now and then. Because a Youtuber co-wrote How to Write Good, I was expecting the book to be filled with mixed-media. Along with the text, I imagined Ryan’s words paired with photos, illustrations, and links to his videos. Unfortunately, there were only two photos within the 224 pages. The only video that is referenced in this book is the aforementioned ‘Draw My Life’ video. Despite these flaws, I did enjoy reading How to Write Good! It was informative and insightful, while being entertaining along the way. If you’re a fan of Ryan’s comedy or want to learn about writing from a different perspective, then this is the book for you!

Overall score: 4 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: How to Write Good contains a few slurs and the topic of suicidal thoughts. However, these subjects are brought up in relation to the bullying Ryan experienced in his childhood and middle school years.

18 Cinema Lane: What Readers Can Look Forward to in 2022

Since 2019, I’ve been posting a beginning of year article to prepare my readers and followers for the new year. I do this out of courtesy for those who have taken the time to read and hear what I have to say. For 2022, I don’t have as many announcements as in previous years. However, these announcements I feel are important enough to share. Like past years, I will first start by revealing my blog’s stats from 2021. I’d also like to thank you for your continued support of 18 Cinema Lane!

<a href="http://<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by malikadesign – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type="URL" data-id="<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by malikadesign – http://www.freepik.com2022 Sparkler image created by malikadesign at freepik.com

2021

Total Blog Posts: 115

Total followers: 109

Total Comments: 306

Total Likes: 634

Awards: 1

Participated Blogathons: 41

Total Movie Reviews: 278

Total Word on the Street stories: 5

An Important Change to the Gold Sally Awards

2022 marks the fourth year of the Gold Sally Awards, a movie award where my readers and followers choose the winners! When I announced the winners of the third annual event, I said I would start presenting two voting polls at a time. This decision was made in order to move the polls at a smoother pace. For this year’s awards, my new plan will go into full effect! So, when voting season comes around, you’ll be choosing two sets of winners with each poll post.

18 Cinema Lane’s 4th Annual Blogathon

When I wrapped up my Olympic Dreams Blogathon in July, I said I would be hosting another yearly event in 2022. That statement is true, as I still plan on hosting another blogathon. At the time, I hadn’t chosen a theme. But I am happy to say that I have picked one! What it will be is going to be revealed when I officially announce my blogathon this month!

2022’s Buzzwordathon

If you look near the top of my blog’s home page, you will see a tab called ‘Readathons’. But as of 2022, I have only “accomplished” one readathon, which was 2020’s Filmathon. In the few times I have participated in a readathon, I end up not finishing all my books within the readathon time frame. Instead of enjoying the overall experience, I’m left feeling disappointed. So, in order to make up for past “failures”, I have decided to join the 2022 Buzzwordathon! This readathon is a year-long event hosted by Kayla from the Youtube channel, BooksandLala. Each month, participants must read a book based on a pre-chosen word. Throughout 2022, I will write a review for the books I read for this event. This will give me an excuse to keep up with the readathon!

<a href="http://<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/new-year'>New year vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type="URL" data-id="<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/new-year'>New year vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com2022 Changing numbers image created by Freepik at freepik.com

Have fun in 2022!

Sally Silverscreen

My Results in the Readathon, Filmathon!

From January 7th to the 14th, I participated in a readathon called Filmathon! As I explained in my post, “Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020!”, the reason why I wanted to join this readathon is because it’s the only one I’m aware of that is movie themed. Originally, I was planning on reading three books to complete all six prompts. But I ended up reading only one of those books. The good news is that book completed half of the prompts! So, for this first round of Filmathon, I feel pretty proud of myself! What book am I talking about? That would be Amy Foster by Joseph Conrad. Below, I will list which prompts this book met and the “cinema tickets” (points) it helped me earn.

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This is a picture of my copy of Amy Foster I received for Christmas. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

  1. Fight Club – Read an underrated book (2 cinema tickets) In my opinion, I think Amy Foster is not only an underrated story, but I also think its film adaptation, Swept from the Sea is underrated.

 

  1. Casablanca – Read a book that is either romance in genre or has romantic elements (3 cinema tickets) One of the most important parts of this story is Yanko and Amy falling in love.

 

  1. Pulp Fiction – Read a book in an unconventional format (3 cinema tickets) Amy Foster is actually a short story. I feel most of the stories that get published are written in a novel format.

 

Since this was only the first round, I’m looking forward to the next round and the progress I might make!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen