Chilling with Books June 2023

Spotlight on what makes a good book – the genre or the emotions evoked on the page.

My time has been limited this month hence June 2023 has been written in July. I have been busy but not so much I haven’t read a few more books and also re-read, because sometimes I can’t help myself. I’m addicted to the emotions evoked; the satisfaction of a tale told well. What leaves a good feeling, what makes a good book – the genre or the emotions evoked?

For me reading is for pleasure but as a writer, it is also as research. My reading and viewing impact on my own writing. They bring me closer to understanding what kind of writer I would like to be. You may be wondering what triggered this train of thought. The answer is too easy. Nerves, self-doubt? Imposter Syndrome? Close to releasing my second book these things certainly play their part, but I think it’s more than this although I did participate in a book fair, and it was fun but harrowing. I also know I have to do it again but on this I will reflect later, much later.

On a serious note, I think I am looking for a way to better understand how to improve what do. I have always been an eclectic reader, but it appears on reflection there is a definite pattern to my reading – a common ground. To me, the only thing that matters is whether or not the book generates emotions. I believe, perhaps naively, that the ability of the book to draw out reactions is what makes a good book.

I am not dismissing escapism by any means. Escapism is a blessing. Artists in any form are a blessing, especially these days, but I am someone who likes real eighty percent of the time, and escapism twenty percent. Real makes me think. If we think we learn. Learning may help us change things. So, I am spotlighting books that have achieved this at least where I am concerned. You will note the books vary considerably. Some I have spoken about previously, but I am hoping the reader won’t mind. My choices are books that have evoked emotion. It helps me put things into perspective – history, art, behaviours and so much more. Can I do this in my own books? I don’t know, sometimes in my poetry but with my books, I don’t know, not yet or maybe never. However, I do know the books below have been incredible in facilitating my education from the beginning of the year through to June 2023. Here’s hoping the rest of the year is as good.

The Dictionary of Lost Words and The Bookbinder of Jericho, both by Pip Williams were wonderful examples of this. There is a wealth of knowledge about the process of putting books together that astounds the mind. These days machines do everything and when we look at the finished product it is hard to believe what was done by hand and how much input women had and has been left untold.

Beautifully written and impressive research allows both these books to defy a genre label. Historical, a love story, a literary piece to tease our minds into considering how much has or hasn’t changed in our outlook over the years, and a painful lesson in how hard people worked without technology to lighten the load – the books are all these things. Emotions evoked.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune is a fantasy and proved itself a little gem on the subject of differences. There is a lovely flow to this book. It can be so easy to convince ourselves we are accepting of differences for instance even when our behaviours speak the opposite. Sometimes we need that external voice to cement our failures by showing us what is truth. The book was quirky but with an air of reality about our beliefs impossible to ignore. Emotions evoked.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak  is not a fantasy despite some parts told to us through the eyes of a tree. Instead, it is a drama, a romance, a retelling of a terrible time on a beautiful island, a story about war, a tale of people both young and old and a book that gives insight into cultural differences carried too far and then yes, it is also a fantasy. Emotions evoked.

All That He Is by Jill Staunton and her previous book Reiver’s Moon showcase our Australian bush and native animals. In this latest one we are reunited with the author’s wonderful use of language. Then, we find our hearts stolen by a returned serviceman who has seen the worst of life, a dog, and a woman who will fight to the end to preserves our flora and fauna. Emotions Evoked.

The Dead Romantics and The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston are so much more than I expected. Impossible situations, or are they? The Dead Romantics gives an interesting slant on the unsung heroes who work in the funeral profession and into the paranormal and in beautifully used language.

Then The Seven Year Slip pushes the boundaries regarding the impossible a little further. I am three quarters of the way through and loving it so much. In both books the reader enters a world where the unreal becomes believable. I wanted it to be possible. Emotions evoked.

There are so many other books I could mention. Check out my Goodreads total number of books read for the year 2023 (so far). I think I am addicted to books and may need help. It makes me wonder if that is the reason dust is making advances in my home.

Barb’s news:

My books

The second round of edits have boosted my confidence. Twice the feedback has been about my lead female. That she has been found endearing has made my year. I am currently adjusting the manuscript according to some line proofing edits. It is a laborious job. Then it will need to go out again to ensure my adjustments haven’t caused more errors. I swear my current book has had more dates than I have had in my lifetime.

 The world around me

Townsville library held a wonderful night for author Pip Williams (see above). Learned and articulate, she is a wonderful speaker who works hard at her craft. This is reflected in her books, and I highly recommend them if my section above didn’t make that clear. I walked away inspired.

Something that you may possibly find trivial but I think is pretty wonderful happened in my current job. Our head office (I work in retail when not tutoring or writing) received a phone call about my on-the-job performance and apparently I am not only good at my job but also ready for the stage as a comedian. Hmmm, I will take it and run because if my career as a writer fails then I know where to go.

A few posts ago I wrote about creating a cacti garden. I am hopeless at maintaining a garden and decided I needed something sturdier, something I could manage. It worked – finally I have gardening powers. Look at this beauty.

Films I watched.

These are oldies and not what may be considered Oscar winning material but they are goodies. The first, The Mirror has Two Faces is what can be referred to as schmaltzy, a little melodramatic or a lot. However, when the Jeff Bridges character refuses Rose, played so eloquently (keep your eyes on her eyes, I swear they have a language of their own) by Barbra Streisand, our hearts break into tiny pieces. We don’t hate him, but we are not too fond of his misplaced and naïve beliefs. Emotions evoked.

The second film I watched the other night was You’ve got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It had the usual romantic tropes: boy meets girl, they clash, she is sweet, he is not so nice about romance, she is romantic. Sound familiar and yet there is a line at the end where she says to him: ‘I wanted it to be you’ that is so beautifully delivered by Meg that it tugs and tugs on the heartstrings. Sometimes the magic is in front of us, but we don’t know how to believe. Emotions evoked.

So much emotion. Please let me know your thoughts. What do you look for in a book?

Alla prossima,


If you are feeling kindly disposed, please feel free to check out my books

 Links below.

Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? I’d love to hear from you. A like and a comment will keep me working harder and if by any chance you have read my books or a book I have featured then please leave a review on Goodreads or wherever you originally purchased the book. It helps writers learn to be better writers.

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  1. That is an impressive collection of books you have read – I definitely need to read The Dictionary of Lost Words. Unfortunately, I am only managing two books a month at present.
    I have only recently seen the movie The Light Between Oceans which I loved, so now I must read that book too, sooner rather than later.

  2. I thought that The Dead Romantics and The Seven Year Slip were wonderful. Both books made the impossible feel possible. I definitely need to get to the TJ Klune book soon.

    • i think when we can believe the impossible it is so much more than escapism – it’s magic. I wish I had that gift but my new book when I get it out there is a way to work towards that. The TJ Klune is a little about how the world should be when we look at others. I loved it.

  3. I am surprised you would have any self doubt Barbara! How exciting you are close to releasing your second book! Being inspired by other writers is wonderful too, you have been busy!

    • Doubting is easy. Being busy is a way to avoid sometimes but I am very keen to get this one out there. I think it has a touch of real but still scared. Talk about busy though, you are incredible. I am so proud of myself for recognising this so long ago.

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