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The Burning Sky–A Goodreads Review

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Iolanthe just wants to ensure her guardian, a drug addict, keeps his post when she calls lightning down, alerting the Bane’s minions to her presence as the Elemental Wizard destine to bring down the Bane, making her public enemy number one in Atlantis and the Domain.

Luckily, Prince Titus’s mom warned him about Iolanthe in the prophesies she kept before her death, so when Titus sees the lightning, he charges to the rescue on a magical steed. He gets to Iolanthe seconds before the minions arrive, and the game is afoot. The two flee to Victorian England, where they must rely on deception and their wits to evade plot after plot. At one point, even the Prince’s allies attempt to kill Iolanthe. Will the intrepid pair fall in love? Defeat the Bane? Or be captured by his Inquisitor and her minions?

Prince Titus is dedicated to protecting both Iolanthe and his Domain, but he pretends to be callow and stuck-on-himself while Iolanthe is talented, resourceful and incredibly stubborn, which creates many delightful bits of banter as she wants no part of the Prince’s suicidal plans to take down the tyrant.

The humor, the historic details, the magical world and the awesome characters you can root for make this story a page-turner. I seriously can’t wait to read the next novel in this series, or any of Sherry Thomas’ books. Wow can this author write.

If you like fantasies with romance and humor, I bet you’ll love this book.

I purchased and listened to this digital download offering from Audible. Then I bought the paperback version–that’s how much I like this story.

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Peonies

Every June I look forward to my peonies blooming. My grandmother had a pink tree peony, so I planted one in my garden. Every year when it blooms I think of her.

To honor Grandma and peonies, I’d like to share thirteen facts I’ve researched.

  1. Peony flowers can be 10 inches in diameter.

2. When Marco Polo saw peonies in China, he’s said to have described them as, “roses as big as cabbages.”

3. When they open, the huge blossoms can be so heavy that they cause their stems to droop over, so most gardeners use ring-cage supports.

4. If you grow peonies, it’s likely you’ve noticed that ants crawl all over the buds. Gardeners have theorized that peonies need the ants to open. Although scientists might disagree with that, they do note that the buds produce a nectar that attract ants.

5. Gardening websites observe that the ants help the peonies by attacking and/or devouring other insects that could harm the peony and that once the peony blossoms open the number of ants crawling on them decrease. That said one website recommended gently shaking the blooms before bringing them into the house.

6. According to several sources, peonies symbolize happy marriages and good luck in China.

7. Perhaps because this symbolism or perhaps because of their sheer beauty, peonies are popular wedding flowers.

8. Probably the most common color for peonies is pink, but they come in hue except for blue.

9. When I moved into my current home, the peonies under the elms were just green-leaved bushes. After a couple of years of them not blooming, I decided to move them to the sunny rose garden and discovered that even three feet down I hadn’t found the end of their roots. I was surprised, yet if I’d done research at the time, I’d have learned peony roots can be six to eight feet in length.

10. I moved the peonies because I’d learned that they don’t bloom well in the shade.

11. They need full sun to thrive, so it’s important to consider how close they are to developing trees when you plant them.

12. Another surprising fact about peonies is that they can live for hundred years.

13. And once you’ve picked them, their blossoms, usually last about five days.

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers partly because of Grandma and partly because of their huge and lovely blooms. Just when I think I’m growing my favorites, another peony variety catches my eye. Do you like peonies? What’s your favorite color?

 

Sources

English, Micaela. “12 Facts Every Peony Enthusiast Needs to Know.” Town & Country, Town & Country, 7 Oct. 2017, www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/arts-and-culture/news/g1236/12-peony-facts/.

Noelle, et al. “Flower Garden: Little Known Facts About Peonies.” Birds and Blooms, 13 June 2014, www.birdsandblooms.com/blog/flower-garden-little-known-facts-peonies/.

Paula, et al. “Growing Tips for Peonies.” Birds and Blooms, 24 Nov. 2011, www.birdsandblooms.com/blog/growing-tips-for-peonies/.

“Peony Facts.” Math, www.softschools.com/facts/plants/peony_facts/2152/.

OTHER THAN is a Double Finalist in the 2018 Prism Contest

 

I’m thrilled to announce that Other Than is a double finalist in the 2018 Prism Contest.

This means a lot to me. I’ve many close sisters and friends in the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers, and without their support, I wouldn’t have published.

Congratulations to the other finalists.

2018 PRISM Finalists

 

The Chalk Man–A Goodreads Review

The Chalk ManThe Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Eddie “Munster” Adams’ dad often warned him not to assume things, and the author means for readers to take this to heart—one of the reasons this book is such a fun read. Its plot surprises again and again.

The story’s a lot like Stand by Me in that it features a group of 12-year-old friends: Eddie, Hoppo, Nicky, Fat Gav, and Metal Mickey and a series of macabre events—two freak accidents, a beating as well as an ax murder Stephan King might have penned. The chalk men symbols that the friends invented lead to the body. And guess what? The victim’s head is missing. (Not to be found until the very last pages in the tale in what is yet another well-plotted twist.)

The murder and the investigations haunt the group of friends and the town of Anderbury. Eddie is at the center of all. He’s never put the events of his twelfth summer, when the ax murder occurred, and now, in midlife Eddie’s a single teacher who nurses a drinking problem and still lives in his family’s home.
The story alternates between 1986 and the present, but in both timestreams the quirky characters and the sinister mysteries held my attention.

If you like whodunnits, as well as story twists, this novel will definitely be worth your time.

Just so you know-I borrowed this book from my local library.

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Website Restored

 

Photo by Rayi Christian Wicaksono on Unsplash

Apologies. Malware infected my site, but after experts and some updated security programs, we’re clear.

I hope you’ll visit once again.

Other Than Finals in the 2018 Maine Romance Writers’ Strut Your Stuff Contest

 

 

I’m please to announce that Other Than is one of the finalists in the 2018 Maine Romance Writers’ Strut Your Stuff Award.

Here’s the link to see the finalists and find out about the contest.
http://www.maineromancewriters.com/p/contest-finalists.html
Thanks.

Jennifer Trethewey’s “Tying the Scot” A Goodreads Review

Tying the ScotTying the Scot by Jennifer Trethewey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When they were children, Alex Sinclair rescued Lucy Fitzharris from her brother’s pranks. He vowed to protect her always, so… when her father, an English peer and his father’s best friend, asks him to marry her, he accepts. Because she’s illegitimate, Lucy has little chance to marry well in the London Ton. To accept Alex’s offer of marriage, she’s sent to Balforss against her will with only her adorable lap dog, Hercules for comfort.

Alex and his friends and cousins meet her at the docks to escort her to the family estate, but Alex decides to hide his identity as her future groom, and this is just the first misunderstanding between the two. Sparks fly. The chemistry between these two flares. They bicker and trick each other, but eventually learn to love each other.

Lucy is spoiled and privileged, and Alex is impulsive and jealous, yet as they face adversity together, they magnify each other’s best qualities, and become the heroine and hero we all want to root for.
Tying the Scot is a fun read that raised lots of smiles and chuckles from me. In addition, the setting and the descriptions of 19th century Scotland enchanted me as a reader. Balforss is a fantastic virtual vacation.

If you’re a fan of Scottish Historical Romances, this is one you’ve got to try for the endearing characters, the fiery romance and the magical descriptions of Balforss.

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Spring, Snowdrops and Courage

We’re a week into March and white still covers neighborhood yards, yet my cat and I are outside, searching for green—the early snowdrops, first of the spring flowers.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I love that they blossom in the cold when the weather could very well freeze or bury them. I like to think they’re brave. Just as I like to believe I am as I start a new novel or try teaching a lesson I’ve never taught before.

My snowdrops haven’t come up yet, but to encourage them, myself and my readers, I’ve decided to post quotes on courage and risk-taking in general.

“To turn back is one kind of death; to go forward is another.”
― Elizabeth LesserBroken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

“When thinking about what to do next with your life, don’t ask yourself what you would succeed at, but what you would most enjoy failing at.”
― Clifford Cohen

“Love is not something you protect. It’s something you risk.”
― Gayle FormanJust One Year

“There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value.”
― Jeanette WintersonWritten on the Body

“If you don’t take risks, you’ll have a wasted soul.”
― Drew Barrymore

“Happiness is a risk. If you’re not a little scared, then you’re not doing it right.”
― Sarah Addison AllenThe Peach Keeper

“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”
― Chuck PalahniukInvisible Monsters

“There is no intensity of love or feeling that does not involve the risk of crippling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel without defense or reserve.”
― William S. Burroughs

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― William Faulkner

“To turn back is one kind of death; to go forward is another.”
― Elizabeth LesserBroken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

“You’re never perfectly safe. No human being on Earth ever is or ever was. To live is to risk your life, your heart, everything.”
― Rick YanceyThe Last Star

“To live, to TRULY live, we must be willing to RISK. To be nothing in order to find everything. To leap before we look.”
― Mandy HaleThe Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

“To save all we must risk all.”
― Friedrich SchillerFiesco; or, the Genoese Conspiracy

“The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt, pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.”
― Bell HooksAll About Love: New Visions

 

Are you beginning something new this season? Taking a chance? I’d love to hear about it.

 

Source

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/risk?

 

Thirteen Tips That Just Might Help You Write a Page-Turner

As an author I dream of writing page-turner fiction and as a reader, I hope each and every book in my to-read pile is an adventure I’ll lose myself in. If you’re like me, you might be seeking that kind of uber-exciting fiction, too.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Rupp

Recently, Heather Luby, an instructor with University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Continuing Studies Writing Program, who is also a writer and developmental editor, gave a workshop, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Achieving intimacy through Voice and Deep POV, at a Wisconsin Romance Writer meeting, that just might help to authors create compelling fiction.

She introduced a technique called Deep Point of View, which is a method of telling a story that puts the reader directly into the head of the main character. Here are thirteen of the tips she dropped that help writers and readers alike drop into the character’s skin.

First, cut filter words like: thought, wondered, saw, decided, looked and felt.
For example: He saw the woman pull the 9mm from the waistband of her tight jeans and point it at him. (becomes) The woman pulled the 9mm from the waistband of her tight jeans and pointed it him.

Including filter words creates a situation that has the reader watching the character perceive things and distances the reader.

Next, avoid naming emotions. Describe them instead. For example: A vein pulsed in Rachel’s forehead. She narrowed her eyes and spat, “You’ll get yours.” is more interesting than saying, Rachel was angry.

Characters come alive in details, so have them notice the unique things about their situations. Heather gave the example of having a character repair the hem of her dress with scotch tape. The detail adds interest and says a lot about the character.

Limit your character’s knowledge. Not only is this limit more realistic, none of us know everything, but mystery and intensity hook readers.

In other words, only reveal things that your character would actually know.

The point of view character will be blind to certain story elements and this will string readers along.

Write in the main character’s voice. Pretend you’re a method actor, that you really are the main character. The Deep POV technique strips away the author’s voice.

Ditch dialogue tags. Use action tags instead. For example: change “I’ve got to go,” James said, hurriedly to “I’ve got to go.” James scooped up his bookbag and bounded out of the classroom.

On a similar note, avoid modifiers like angrily, and sadly. You shouldn’t have to tell the reader that a character is angry or sad. Instead, show that emotion.

Be careful when you identify character’s relationships. Although it’s quick to write James, my brother, is sitting at the lunch counter, it isn’t a thought that a character would have. Since the character knows who his brother is, he wouldn’t have to use the identifier (my brother) in his thoughts.

Heather suggested an author make the character’s relationships clear through dialogue, a memory or through actions. For instance, a character should address James and say, “Mom always liked you best.”

Although you might not use Deep POV for an entire novel, Heather believes you should consider it during pivotal moments or decisions, highly emotional scenes.

Obviously, Deep POV isn’t something you can learn with a mere thirteen tips, but Heather Luby’s advice just might start you on the way to writing those stories readers can’t put down.

Joe Ledger: Unstoppable-A Goodreads Review

Joe Ledger: UnstoppableJoe Ledger: Unstoppable by Jonathan Maberry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be fair I confess I’m crazy about the Joe Ledger series and I love, love, love Ray Porter as a narrator, so you can probably guess I enjoyed most of the short stories in the Ledger universe—true. All the stories gave me insights into the personalities I look forward to following most and I was happy to see that all the characters remained spot on to their Maberry-written-originals. Dr. Hu didn’t suddenly volunteer at the local soup kitchen and Church didn’t reveal a secret past as a stand-up comedian.

One minor disappointment was Joe didn’t get to meet Agent Franks. I’d love to see a Ledger-Franks smackdown.

My favorite story was Red Dirt. Although the story didn’t have any fighting, it had a lot of heart. I connected with Katherine, the down-home-girl who became a doctor to help her community. Next, I loved that Ruddy Sanchez got the chance to play team leader. Usually, he’s the guy who stays at the base camp waiting to put mental band-aids on the trauma victims or counseling the returning warriors after mission. This time he, Circe, Top and Bunny investigate a mysterious disease that mimics Adult Onset Galactosemia, a disease I didn’t know anything about before this tale.
Other highlights for me were Black Water, a sad, sort-of ghost story which involves Joe as a teenager and Banshee had a super suit which would give Antman’s a run for its money.

If you like Acts of Valor meets X-File tales, you’ll enjoy these stories.

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