Book Review: The Chapel Wars

The Chapel Wars cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, even if it is not perfect.

Because some things happened recently, which is why I created up a Patreon page, I was planning to take a break, but I got another request from one of my current Patreon donors, and I had it lying around.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt.

Holly Nolan is an ordinary girl living in Vegas and helps around a chapel, and when her grandfather dies, he hands management over to his granddaughter and asks her to keep his legacy alive.

However, the chapel is not doing well and Holly is determined to save it, as well as establish a relationship with the grandson of a rival chapel.

I cannot really that I liked this book too much, if at all.

With each and every book I read, I try to find something that is great about it, so that I can be as fair as possible, even with my own biases, but this one almost made me consider skipping right to the bad.

Fortunately, there was one or two things that I liked, so I do not need to do that.

I liked how I was able to get a few laughs.

While this was not on a level that I would have liked, since I was not laughing as much as I do with a movies that I do like or some anime that I enjoy, such Barakamon, Baka & Test, and D-Frag!, the former most of which might be closest in line with what some of those who dislike some of my interests might be okay with, the were a few things here and there that could actually get a chuckle out of me.

Of course, a lot of it had more to do with weird images coming into my mind from what was said than it did from any kind of talent Lindsey may or may not have.

This definitely a step in the right direction, and it makes things seem a little promising than sitcoms that are not really that funny and rely too much on the laugh tracks.

Some people, including those that this book was targeted towards, might find it, but this only reeks of an okay thing.

Hopefully, Lindsey has improved in her other works, but, when compared with Isuna Hasekura and many others, I can only this a passable mark.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this book did not feel tedious.

In many of my reviews, I have started off saying that it was able to capture my attention and maintain it to the point where I did not want to put it down, and as this book was not filled with propaganda material that I said I hated in my review of Weston Kincade’s Salvation, I thought that I would get the same feeling here.

Instead, I can only say that I was not as bored out of my mind.

Readers want to be given reasons to continue reading, and one way to help is not to make things feel tedious.

For example, I hated how the first and second books of A Certain Magical Index, both felt really tedious, and the tediousness made the second book feel like an utter waste of time.

Fortunately, Lindsey was able to not make things feel as tedious as those two books, or even as unbearable as The Book Thief, and does make me want to giving her some applause, but like the humor, it is only passable at best.

Maybe she improves from this point onwards, but, like John Grisham’s The Whistler, what she presents here is not enough to make want to read any more of her work.

If this is all a writer can produce, I do not really see them being given any rating above average, but average is still better than themany books out there that do not deserve the recognition they get, so all I can say is that Lindsey gave it her best.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, especially because nothing else stood out as great.

Because I was able to get a few laughs and the book did not feel so tedious, this book seemed okay.

Although there were a few nice things about this book, there are some issues.

First, I was not drawn into world of the book at all.

Readers read to escape reality temporarily, just like those that watch movies and television need a break from reality, but if the writer cannot pull a reader into the world of their stories, they can safely be considered as either having no talent or just not being that great to begin with.

In the case of this work, Lindsey could have done quite a bit more.

Part of drawing a person into the world is making them feel like they are right there experiencing it them, but throughout the entire time I read this book, I just felt like an observer.

I may be acquainted with Lindsey in some way, but I cannot really get my head around how agents and publishers could even let this through, other than the fact that the main character is trying to save something dear while having a Romeo & Juliet-like subplot.

This is why I have mostly given up on the entertainment industry where I live, because they do not pull in the consumer quite as well as I would have liked, not too mention that a few shows that began with a story do not seem to have one any more.

Now, I am getting a feeling that I should practically give up on the prose fiction being released today, and stick with authors that do have talent, like Weston Kincade.

Lindsey may have improved after this book, but I am not willing to check that out because I did not get what I wanted.

Readers like me do not want to feel like observers in outside world, and this is especially true when usually the first person point-of-view.

If Lindsey used third person omniscient, I would probably be okay, since the thoughts and feelings of everyone would be explored, but she chose first person and implemented it rather poorly, which does not make her seem like a good writer, as much as I would rather be praising her for being a good writer instead. This is something that I cannot overlook, nor can anybody else that knows what a great story is like.

I also hated how there seemed to be no conflict at all.

Some of you guys might be saying that there is conflict because Holly’s wedding chapel is about to be shutdown, meaning that she and her family and friends lose a source of income, and she has romantic feelings for the grandson of a bitter rival, and I do acknowledge that those are things that the characters have to deal with.

However, just because there is conflict, it does not mean that the audience will notice the conflict, or even care one way or the other about it, just like how people can have a family established by blood and/or paper, yet have no family at all.

The reader wants to know and see the conflict, but this whole book just had things that felt like an afterthought. There is no need to become a better person, accept things as they or the characters accepting themselves, or deal with outside influences.

This is what helps in creating the temporary escape from reality, and the way that Lindsey wrote this book seems like she does not truly understand that, even if she probably does, and makes me even sadder that I cannot give her as much praise as she may deserve.

If she spent more time polishing this story up, I think that the conflicts would actually be able to shine through.

Unfortunately, she has a lot on her plate, so I am not sure that she can deliver in this department as well as Barakamon, Your Lie in April, A Silent Voice, and the best routes of Clannad were able to present.

Hopefully, she can improve though, because I truly do hate it when the negatives far outclass the positives, but, right now, she only seems to be digging a grave, as this is another thing that I just cannot overlook.

It was also annoying how the author tried hard to keep the language relatively clean.

Now, I am not saying that all stories need to have profanity and vulgarities, but trying to avoid them can be just as bad as overusing it.

In many story, avoiding profanity can keep a work from bringing out the full emotion of scene when there needs to be some emotional output, such as with what happened in the final episode of Orange, where the omission of the word god and lack of exclamation points in the subtitles resulted in the emotional turmoil that came from trying to save a friend from suicide being greatly diminished.

Here, however, while there were hardly any emotional moments, the annoyance came more from me growing tired of the writer insinuating that a character said something considered profane, and wishing that she just wrote it out.

Yes, it is a writer’s choice to use profanity or not, but that does not change the fact that there are instances in which it is better to use it, if not rewrite things entirely so that it is not required.

Hopefully, Lindsey learns this and either writes things in a way that profanity is not needed or become less hesitant to use it, as much as my elders would probably hate this kind of opinion, but I want her to improve, so that I can really be proud that I read something from her, instead of feeling like she wasted any potential.

Another thing that I hated was how cursive writing was actually used in the book.

Now, I can one of the few still out there can at least read cursive, but the style itself is practically dying, since cursive is mainly used to sign document, because cursive can be very illegible and hard to decipher, when writing is supposed to be easy to read.

Yes, this book does say that the letter switched over to cursive, but I do not think that the people formatting this book should have actually used cursive.

Readers of any language want the text to be easy to read, so that can understand what is going on, but cursive is even less guaranteed to be easy to read that poorly written words in print, and I have troubles deciphering letters in both if the handwriting is not neat.

Really, is this a book that was put together by professionals? It sure does not look that way to me, and I have read many prose fiction books.

The most annoying thing though was how there did not seem to be any kind of bond between the characters.

One of focuses of this book was relationships, more so a romantic relationship between Holly and Dax, the grandson of the owner of a rival wedding chapel, but I did not see any kind of bond developing between, and her relationship with him causes her quite a few problems.

Relationships of any kind take time to develop, as people spend time together talking and doing other things.

Lindsey is a married woman and should know this much, but, considering that she is a member of the same church as Orson Scott Card and myself, that is kind of understandable because I remember the sexes being kept separated for a large amount of time once their near adolescents, then are expected to suddenly find a spouse when they reach adulthood.

This is the reason why Clannad‘s visual novel does a better job of showing what a family truly is than almost everything else out and every one of my elders can. It takes the time showing the ups and downs of the various relationships, which makes the bonds appear to be getting stronger, as well as how the characters are family because they are genuinely concerned about each other, as opposed to only being concerned because they are family.

Unfortunately, Lindsey does not really come across like she understands this stuff, instead not even recognized the most basic of basic psychology that goes right down to the point where humans are all the same, without taking into account the kind of environment a person was raised in or the things that are truly different psychologically between the sexes, and it comes off making me not care about any of the characters, or know what their true feelings are like, except maybe the feelings of Holly’s deceased grandfather.

I wanted the relationship between Dax and Holly to actually have some strong feelings, on a level of the following quote and letter, both of which come from Clannad:

“We didn’t give up on our dreams! We changed our dreams into your dream. That’s what parents do. That’s what family does.”

To Kotomi.

The world is beautiful…

Even if it’s filled with tears and sadness…

Still, open your eyes…

Do the things you want to try…

Become the person you desire…

Go and search for friends…

Don’t rush things and grow up slowly.

It’s the teddy bear we found in a gift shop. We searched and searched, but this was the biggest one we could find.

We did not have time so we couldn’t send it via the airport.

Our lovely Kotomi.

Happy Birthday.

The feelings expressed in the quote and letter probably are not going to quite match up to the atmosphere of any scenes in the book, but they both show love and concern without any profanity, and that is what was really needed to make the relationship between the two characters really feel like a true obstacle, not to mention make the relationship itself feel real.

Unfortunately, Lindsey is not the only one that makes mistakes like this, so I am not too sure that there is actually going to be a realization that fleshing out relationships is just as important as the actual plot.

Hopefully, she can bring something better to the table, and I would be willing to give her a second chance, since I did review more than one John Grisham title, even if I am not too excited about such a prospect.

Fortunately, that was all that really bothered me, aside from issues to minor too talk about, so Lindsey and the publishers did not do anything else to disgrace themselves any further.

While there were only four or so glaring problems, they were bad enough to make the book not so great and make the writer and publisher look worse than they probably are, which makes me really sad.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the fact that they were only passable, at best, and the negatives far outshone them made this a waste of time.

As much as I hate to say this, I recommend this particular book should be avoided like the plague, though you are free to read it if you are a fan of Lindsey Leavitt.

If you read this book, what are your thoughts on The Chapel Wars? Please leave a comment and let everyone know you liked it or hated it, especially if your reasons differ from mine, you disagree, or can express your displeasure in a better way than I have, since I do not want the author to give on writing entirely.

Also, if you liked this review and would like to see more, or have a book you want me to check out, please considering supporting me on Patreon, so that I can find more worthwhile reads.

Copyright © 2017 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.