The Lily Cafe at home: Book Reviews, Allergies, and That Writing Update

Welcome into my home!

Things haven’t been too eventful lately, hence why this is only the second time I’m bringing you into my home and head, and I still don’t have much to chat about. Outside, though, has been a bit of a different story. We’ve been living with strong winds off and on for at least a week (those darn Santa Ana winds that are particularly terrible when it’s very hot) and now there’s going to be a chance of rain this weekend? I mean, we do need the rain, but this weather has been up, down, and all over the place since December. I’d like my lovely sunny, but not warm February back, please. Anyways, let’s get on with this, shall we?

Book Reviews

Apparently there’s been some debate on social media about who book reviews are for, so, just for the fun of it, I thought I’d briefly throw my thoughts out there. Because I do have a specific audience in mind for every review I write.

First of all, I write reviews for readers who are like me. I wrote not too long ago about how I pick books, thanks in large part to a very vague note I left myself a couple of years ago. It wasn’t until about 10 or so years ago that I even considered looking at book reviews to help me determine whether I should read a book or not (I’m not even sure where people put book reviews back during my high school years in the first half of the 2000s because apparently Goodreads hadn’t even launched until 2007 when I was in college). It was not helpful to see the “I loved this book,” “This book was ok,” and “I didn’t like this one.” I would go through all the reviews for one that had some meat on it, that told me what kind of story I could expect, because it gave me the opportunity to decide for myself whether the book was for me or not. Since I know I can’t be the only reader like this out there, I write my reviews for those who pick books like me. That’s also why I’m totally fine with the low number of views book reviews tend to get. I’m not writing them for every reader, or even authors and publishers. They’re for a certain type of book searcher. The ones who don’t want to waste their time on a book that doesn’t even turn out to be for them because of a whole bunch of vague reviews. I don’t know about you, but I hate wasting time on books I would end up rating a 3 or below!

Secondly, whenever I get a review request, I always (eventually) send the link to my review back to the requester, so I do write the review with that in mind. In a way, I’m doing it for the author, but I’m fine with that because they’re indie or self-published, and I do sometimes get a nice email back thanking me for my thoughts and insights. Once in a while I get an author telling me they’ll be using my thoughts as they move forward in writing future books. So, when the author directly asks me for a review, I write it for them, too, but mostly for a certain type of book searcher.

Thirdly, I never write reviews for publishers. I do cross post my reviews, but that’s because readers are found everywhere. I have had my reviews quoted by authors and publishers (even a couple of the Big 5 ones), but I never write anything specifically for them, hoping to get another whatever tiny spotlight I can on my blog. They’re certainly big surprises when I do stumble on them, but I prefer to just write for my chose group of book searchers.


I mentioned all that wind we’ve been getting, right? It bears repeating because it just doesn’t seem to want to stop. I despise this wind. It’s very dry and, well, windy, so it wrecks havoc on my children’s hair because they both (even the boy everyone thinks is a girl because his long hair is just that gorgeous) insist on having long hair. And then they complain I’m pulling when I’m brushing their hair. I really can’t win here. They, unfortunately, have exactly the same kind of hair I do, so I know just how difficult it is to manage when it’s dry and windy like this.

But there’s another unfortunate side effect of all this wind, and it’s not just the debris in the road. Allergies. My son and I both have severe allergies, and they only get worse when the winds come through. With these constantly windy days, it’s been particularly tough on my little boy. I’m taking…a lot of stuff to manage mine, and wearing my mask, but it’s been extremely difficult to get him to cooperate so we can get him what he needs to manage his allergies, though he does wear his mask. The sneezing, sore throats, itchy eyes, and periodic cough make him look sick, so we fortunately already brought in a note to his school saying he just has bad allergies, but then it also sounds like most of his class and his teacher are getting hit hard by allergies. It’s taking a bit to get him to survive these allergies, so my poor little boy has just been miserable. But he still likes his potty humor, so he’s definitely not sick.

The Writing Update

I really had no idea where else to put this. I didn’t want to further clutter up my blog with yet another series, so I figured I would just tack it onto these posts. Or maybe, if I keep missing Fridays, I’ll just start to put regular writing updates on Fridays. Or, well, who knows. I do like to change things up whenever I feel like it. Anyways, I’m working on three novels right now because I’m certain I lost my brain three years ago when everything shut down. Don’t even ask me what day it is because, once both kids were back in the classroom, it was the first thing my brain dumped. I really can’t keep up with what day it is, or even which month sometimes. I was absolutely certain it was Thursday on Wednesday 3 times.

First is a fun one. I call this one Baking Fantasy because it’s fantasy and the main character is obsessed with baking. Her name is Quin and she’s a florist because her baked goods have a bad habit of causing disasters. I’m hand writing this one, and having a great time waxing poetic about desserts. But it’s also fun because it’s set in a country that’s been conquered so many times that it’s now super diverse and no one bats an eye when the newest invader arrives. He calls himself the Red Magician and is on his way to the capital when he meets Quin, who goes along with him because things might get interesting when he makes it to meeting the Queen. Since I’m writing by hand and my hand does not like being used like that (never has), it’s slow going, but I like how it lets me slow everything down and really think about what’s happening. And dream about the desserts I write about.

The second one is called Coming Home because it was once a self-published stupid little women’s fiction story about a jilted bride leaving friends and family behind to live in a small town across the country and start a bakery while the brother of the woman she’s renting a room from hates her, but also secretly loves her. I’m working on turning it into magical realism. I may be the only one excited by it, but I love the idea of the residents drinking a magical brew and gaining the powers to imbue their products with certain magic. There are all these books where it runs in the family and only these family members can have this special magic, so I thought it would be fun to give everyone the opportunity to have a certain gift. I finished my read through and made some notes about how to incorporate the magical realism, so now I’m working on a reverse outline so I know exactly what I’m dealing with. It’s…going.

The last one is one that should be familiar to long ago readers, though I wouldn’t be surprised if no one remembers. It’s a formerly unfinished fantasy story I called either Raven or Where Darkness Falls. It’s still somewhere here, haunting the archives. There’s no firm title yet. This is a bit more complicated as it involves a city whose bread and butter is feuds and there’s a group of Thief Lords who do all the dirty work, but they’re in turmoil, too, because one of them is female and the men hate it, for various reasons. There’s also a focus on two feuding families where their daughters have something of a Romeo and Juliet friendship, but things eventually spiral almost out of control. But feeding everything is an undercurrent of revenge and when is it too much. This one was unfinished for a very long time, so I’m pleased to say it finally does have an ending. It’s not a good one, but at least it’s something I can work with. I’m working on the reverse outline for this one, too, and am seriously cringing at the first chapter because it’s written as one very long scene where the POV keeps changing. I clearly had no idea what I was doing about a decade ago, or more. Not sure how long it’s been since I started this one, but it’s been festering in my head for, literally, years. I’ve finally picked a direction and now I can’t wait to see it through (gulp) three books. Originally it was just a fun little silly story about a Thief Lord named Raven and then it morphed into wanting to be a more complicated story, which stumped me for years, which is probably why I never finished it. At one point, I envisioned it as a duology, but, after further thought, a trilogy emerged and it seems satisfied with that, so, yeah, three books.

Time to Get Back to Work

Well, time to get back to that writing. And some sneezing. I think we might run out of tissue boxes soon.

Until next time!

5 thoughts on “The Lily Cafe at home: Book Reviews, Allergies, and That Writing Update

  1. I definitely prefer book reviews that give at least some idea of what I can expect from a book if I’m deciding to read it or not. I also love reading reviews about books after I’ve read them to see how someone else’s opinion on a book compares to or differs from my own
    Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love reading reviews after finishing the book, too. It’s fun to look at someone else’s perspective and rethink the whole book, or find someone to agree with.
      Thank you!


  2. I agree that I don’t care for those super short reviews that don’t offer much on what to expect other than “it was good/bad” or “i liked/didn’t like it.” For something like Goodreads, fine, those people get a hallpass for that, though the star review basically communicates the same thing. If I’m on the fence about a book, those meatier reviews are much better for helping me make a decision. And that’s how I prefer to write my own reviews. While I’m not here to police how one should write a review, for me, those 2-3 liner reviews don’t help me at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! What drives me a little crazy is when I see reviews for books I’m debating reading on NetGalley and there are those short reviews. I get a lot of people are busy and it’s not always easy to write meatier reviews, but they’re just so much more helpful. It’s always those 4 star reviews that I want to know more.


  3. Oh, Kate. 🙂 I can’t believe you’re writing a novel by hand. There is something so whimsical about that, and it’s also a little more personal. It must be so hard, but I hope you’re finding moments to cherish. 🙂 xx


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