Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman
A seasoned relationship counselor, Chapman uses examples from his marriage and real-life couples to illustrate the importance of communication before and during marriage. The book dives into topics from first butterflies to chore charts and in-law dynamics.
If you’re a longtime follower, you know that nonfiction isn’t usually my thing. But I recently got engaged (yay!) to a wonderful man who I am absolutely ecstatic to marry, so I read this book on the recommendation of my pastor. Now it’s my turn to pass the recommendation on to you. Whether you’re seriously dating, engaged, or already married, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married is a thoughtful resource. There were so many practicalities I had never considered in all my rosy-eyed days of dreaming about my future husband, or even after I’d met my now fiancé. The book not only facilitates deeper thinking about what it means to be married, but also the opportunity for in-depth discussion with your partner. The ideas and questions in this book have enlightened me more to my fiancé’s perspectives as well as my own, and we’re definitely stronger for it.
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
In the aftermath of the sleeping sickness that nearly overtook New York, the Diviners are forced further into the open amidst increasing rumors of ghosts in the city. United, the Diviners pursue the secrets behind the origin of their powers. Their search takes them deep into the folds of demonic deals, government conspiracies, and the brutal truths of America’s past. But the tide of popularity is beginning to turn against them, and in a time of growing modernism and socio-economic turmoil, they may be under threat from both the living and the dead.
Compared to its sisters, the third installment of The Diviners is much, much darker. Its plot and characters are as winsome as ever. That said, don’t expect the same comedic breaks as the first two installments. With its engaging ghost-story narrative and poignant take on the bloody history of the “American Dream,” Before the Devil Breaks You is another poetic nail-biter, if a bit emotionally exhausting. I loved seeing the now fully-assembled Diviners came into their own as equals, friends, and rivals. The shifts in alliances and romantic interests were delightfully shocking, and the plot kept perfect pace. Bray has once again delivered with this energetic, suspenseful, and beautifully haunting novel. I recommend it for fans of YA supernatural stories and related genres.
(A note of warning: Although this book is YA, it includes some instances of domestic abuse and other graphic scenes that may not be suitable for younger readers or those who are triggered by related violence.)
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
In this electric second installment of The Diviners, Evie O’Neill has stolen the spotlight in New York City, dazzling audiences with her supernatural ability to read secrets held in personal objects. But Evie is not the only Diviner, and the others aren’t as keen on being made public–others like dream walkers Henry DuBois and Ling Chan. Meanwhile, an inexplicable sleeping sickness ravages the city. Dangerous nightmares are taking hold, and it’s going to take a lot more than a warm glass of milk to chase them away.
It’s not easy for a book to scare me in full daylight, but Lair of Dreams did it. Another beautifully voiced volume by Bray, this sequel kept a fast-paced balance of everything I loved about the first Diviners–ominous monsters, villains that are disconcertingly human, dramatic irony so thick I wanted to smack the characters with their own book, and heartbreakingly witty romance, all set against the backdrop of 1920s New York. The sequel definitely highlights more romantic subplots than its predecessor. Still, it nailed the mark in keeping to its dark, paranormal roots. I kept finding myself sitting in bed at night, knowing that if I read anymore I’d probably have nightmares, but still itching for one more chapter.
Timelines are tricky beasts. They are one of my personal downfalls as a writer when working on a story that spans longer than a year. Weaving in backstory can make tracking time-sensitive plot points even harder. So, what do we do? We get organized! Here are some tips for keeping tabs on time.
Choose the Details
How important is time to the story? Does the book span a day? A week? A lifetime? The longer the time frame the more difficult it can be to make sure plot points don’t overlap, but shorter time frames have their difficulties too. For example, if a major plot point is that a character breaks a femur, that character can’t be expected to be back in action after a few days rest. Likewise, the amount of characters in the book can effect the way the plot unfolds. If the reader has to follow several main characters with intersecting stories, it’s crucial the timelines match up. So it’s important to consider the details and to decide how relevant specific dates and times are to less impactful plot points or characters.
My bad habit for getting around timing issues is to simply not give enough information to the reader, letting the story float somewhere in the unknown reaches of the eternal. Not a suggested solution. An easy way to guide yourself as you go is to include headers at the start of or throughout chapters as time and location shift. Of course, it can’t stop there. You will still need to keep track of what happens when and will need to refer back to previous headers in order to make sure things are always in order. Which means that even with headers, it’s usually best to…
Make A Timeline
There are plenty of online tools you can google to help you along the timeline making process. Templates and programs are out there. However, some people prefer to make their own through Microsoft Word or other programs already on their computer. Other people are more hands-on organizers, meaning they prefer to have a physical paper in front of them (shoutout to my fellow traditional paperback book lovers out there). It can be a bit more tedious to make a timeline by hand, and mistakes are bound to happen, so I recommend writing in pencil. But, having a physical timeline is a handy tool to have if, like me, you’re the type that prefers to see the whole picture rather than bits and pieces as you scroll through your laptop. Either way, take the details you’ve decided are important and map them out on the timeline–character, plot point, day, year, time of day, etc.–and you’ve got yourself a workable way of tracking what happens when.