A Court Of Mist And Fury-Review

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maas ripped my heart apart before she put it back together only to tear it to pieces again. This book is a wild, heart-wrenching ride that often left me breathless. There are no words to describe it. It is pure intense heartbreaking and soul satisfying magic. Don’t miss it.

Note: Not for young adults. I wouldn’t let a teenager younger than 18 read this.

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Romancing Romance

After spending the last four days among other romance writers, attending the Romance Writers of America annual conference in New York City, I came to the troubling conclusion I really don’t know much about romance.

That’s a pretty alarming thing for an author who calls herself a romance writer. It’s not like I don’t know the actual genre with all its tropes and intricacies, but I am pretty oblivious when it comes to fellow authors, now and in the past.

I began reading romance as a teenager, but even before that, I was reading books that normally had a romantic component to them. In my early twenties and shortly after I moved to the US, I even subscribed to Harlequin. I remember a handful of great romances, another handful of stories I didn’t care for, but I remember no author’s names at all. This is no reflection on the authors themselves, mind you. I’m really bad with names. I often tell people that because I am a teacher and must memorize dozens of kids names each year, my mind promptly forgets other names to make room for more.

Writer

 

I have quite a few favorite names in YA lit, names that have become so familiar to me I am sure to one-click them on Amazon, no questions asked. There are a few other authors in other genres I consider favorites, some who no longer write (I’m old) and others who I just slowly came to love over the years. Very few of those are romance writers.

Every time someone asks me to name other authors who write similar books to mine, I can’t name them at all. I was really confused by that, until the day I realized that romance is such a wide and rich genre, an umbrella under which so many different other genres hide, that it is hard to find those few authors whom you may compare yourself to.

So imagine my excitement at finding fellow romance authors who write and think along the same lines as I do. I can’t tell you the relief I felt at finding successful authors who don’t stick to one subgenre, authors who are complete pantsers like me, authors for whom writing books is therapy and the one thing that keeps them sane. I’m looking forward to reaching out to these writers in hopes of not feeling so alone in what and how I write.

Have you ever felt alone in what you do or how you think and then one day you discover someone(s) who share your views or your kind of work? How did that make you feel?

Austen—A Romance Trope Creator?

Austen—A Romance Trope Creator?

Jane Austen

The other day I was looking for one of my favorite TV adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma (the one where Mr. Knightley is played by Johnny Lee Miller) on Netflix (don’t bother; it’s not available there) and it got me thinking about how Austen basically created some of the most popular romance tropes to this day. Nothing new, I know, but I had never thought about it that way before.

Of course, not everyone is a fan or has read Austen’s books but I love them. She was ahead of her time, writing strong, willful women who fought for (and won) what they wanted and loved. It’s no wonder her popularity has survived for so long.

But less thought of when discussing Austen and her books is the fact that she was the “inventor” of at least three of the most popular tropes in romance literature today. The romance style is largely reviled by the “serious” readers today as crap or smut, but Austen is here to remind us that romance can be, and often is, a weapon against society’s prejudices and preconceived ideas about women (among other things). Not to mention the fact that romance can be well written and worth of as much praise and attention as any other genre of literature.

romance book

Pride and Prejudice, arguably the most famous of her works, is an enemies to lovers romance. Elizabeth Bennet begins as hating and being disliked by the handsome but brooding and often obnoxious Darcy. We all know how that ended.

In Persuasion (possibly my personal favorite) Anne Elliot unwisely shuns Captain Wentworth despite her love for him, but eventually gets her second chance with him. A second chance romance.

Emma is clearly a friends to lovers romance. Emma has a best friend in Mr. Knightley and despite her attempts at matching every single woman in town with the perfect bachelor, totally misses the fact that the one she loves has always been right in front of her.

Mansfield Park is both an example of forbidden romance and love triangle with poor young woman Fanny who is loved by one man but in love with her cousin who is promised in marriage to another woman. In fact, this is also a friends to lovers romance since Fanny was best friends with her cousin with whom she grew up.

Nowadays these tropes are still being written with varying degrees of success. I am personally partial to the friends-to-lovers and second chances tropes and have written a couple books along those lines. Which kind of proves that a good love story never goes out of style if Jane Austen’s vast popularity even today is anything to go by.

Do you read romance? Do you have a favorite trope? I’d love to hear from you.

Love potion

Dark and Bright- Review

Dark and BrightDark and Bright by P.M. Hernandez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book surprised the crap out of me–in a good way. Don’t want to reveal any spoilers but the plot was flowing away and I kind of knew (or thought I knew) what the truth was behind all the meds Carrie was taking but then about half way through the book, bam! Hernandez hit me over the head with something I certainly didn’t see coming. It reminded me of the old TV show, Dollhouse, and I’m going to leave it at that so I don’t give anything away. I was shocked and disgusted (with one of the characters, not the book) and my only critique is in connection with that. I thought Carrie didn’t react as strongly as I thought she would when she found out what had been done to her. I was expecting more fireworks than what I got. But other than that, this was a great read with great likable characters (Luis was the sweetest thing ever. Loved him.) who you really care about and feel for. Can’t wait to see what the second book brings.

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The Belles-Review

The Belles (The Belles #1)The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book on a whim. I had heard good things about it but I’ll be honest I mostly fell in love with the cover. I didn’t read it right away but once I started I basically devoured it. I love speculative fiction or anything that asks the question “what if?’ I also have a soft spot for fiction that deals with women’s issues and social injustice in general. The Belles didn’t disappoint.
The world depicted in this book is not as different from ours as it first appears. Within its pages we watch the powerplays of those in charge and the ones who want to be. We see the darker, decaying underbelly of society hiding behind beautiful colors and fine fabrics, secrets lurking beneath flower-scented clothes and a deceptive sense of joy and contentment.
Yes, some things were predictable, some didn’t quite made as much sense as I’d hoped they would, but I really enjoyed reading it and I’m looking forward to reading book 2 and I hope it was as gripping as the first.

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Syrian Brides-New Release

 

Syrian Brides

New Release

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Book Blurb:

Syrian Brides, published on November 3rd, is a collection of eleven short stories about the lives of women in Syria. The author manages to make the reader laugh while introducing a range of serious topics, such as domestic violence and the role of women in the Syrian society.

pexels-photo-733265

Author’s Bio:

Anna Halabi was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. She emigrated to Europe in 1999 for her university studies. She currently lives with her family in Germany.
Syrian Brides is her debut as an author. The stories and characters in this collection were inspired by her personal experiences as well as her relatives, friends and TV Shows.

 

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Further details:

·  Paperback: 136 pages

·  Publisher: Independently published (November 3, 2018)

·  Language: English

Whatever It Takes-Guest Blog

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Leigh Fleming as my guest blogger. Please join me in welcoming her.

Whatever It Takes

by Leigh Fleming

January 8, 2019

Contemporary Romance

Available through Amazon 

Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept.

Whatever It Takes, the fourth book in the Whatever series, takes place in the small fictional town of Highland Springs, WV. Its heroine is Darla Heartwood, a successful realtor and Citizen of the Year in the close-knit rural town. On the surface, Darla is a spunky, go-getter, but she has a secret she’s carried for over eighteen years. A secret she’d been determined to bury forever.

The story was inspired by a show I heard on NPR in which a woman had given up her baby to adoption many years ago. One day, her biological child reached out to her, requesting they meet. She didn’t want to reunite with the child she’d given away. It was never revealed in the NPR story as to why she didn’t want to see her child. That got my wheels turning.

Darla’s story began as a secret baby book, but turned into a testimony to the #MeToo movement. Her experience is not unlike many women, and in fact, was loosely based on a work-based sexual harassment situation I endured when I was nineteen. Thankfully, my story ended better than hers.

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whatever it takes ebook cover

Short Synopsis

Secrets are best left buried in the past, something Darla Heartwood knows better than anyone. She’s hidden the truth for eighteen years until the night of her birthday when she receives a call asking if she gave birth to a baby girl. Suddenly, her perfectly ordered world, successful business, and public persona come unraveled.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to. Jason Byrne found that out the hard way. Left to raise his baby daughter on his own, he’s made a quiet life for them, teaching at the local college and dedicating his time to being a single dad. He had hoped to avoid the promise he’d made to Meghan—to find her biological mother when she turned eighteen—but when his healthy, athletic daughter collapses and doctors aren’t able to determine why, he can’t put it off any longer.

Meeting the daughter she gave up and the handsome, distinguished man who raised her, Darla decides it’s time she faces her fears. Meghan deserves a strong, brave role model. To earn her respect, Darla must confront the powerful man who left her pregnant at fifteen. She has to do Whatever It Takes to forgive herself, stand up and be heard, and open her heart to love and family.

leigh fleming

Author Bio 

Leigh Fleming creates unique characters facing life’s challenges but who are always rewarded with their happy ending. Her latest release, Whatever It Takes, is the fourth book in the Whatever series. Stay Hidden, the first in her Hidden series, won the Lone Star Writing Contest for romantic suspense in 2017.

A member of Romance Writers of America and the Washington Romance Writers chapter, Leigh lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia, with her husband, Patrick, and her deaf French bulldog, Napoleon, and is mom to adult children, Tom and Liza. When she’s not writing in her windowless office, she enjoys reading, travelling, scrapbooking, and spending time with friends.

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Recipe for Disaster-Book Review

A Recipe for Disaster: A deliciously feel-good romanceA Recipe for Disaster: A deliciously feel-good romance by Belinda Missen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A romance about second chances. Since I believe in second chances (some would say a bit too much) I identified with the main character–the roller coaster of emotions she was on, wanting and not wanting, not knowing what to trust or what to believe, in love and angry, forgiving and resentful… I could go on, lol.
I can’t say I was “in love” with her husband which I guess was the author’s intention. I was never quite sure whether he was trustworthy and that he truly loved her or if he was just playing her. The story is told from the main character’s POV so we kind of struggle with our feelings for her husband alongside her.
Those who love a story sprinkled with food will love this one. At times, it actually made me hungry. All in all a well-written, entertaining and easy read with a satisfying end.

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A New Year Begins…

With the approaching of a new year, we all begin making resolutions or at least dreaming about what might be.

Blank Notebook

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

― Brad Paisley

I love this quote not only because it pulls at my writer’s sensibilities, but also because it’s true. Obviously we are not always in control, and lots of what will happen may not be of our own doing. However, we can at least strive at doing the best we can.

Every year I have all these dreams of what I will accomplish or at least try. Like with most people, those things normally end up at least partially undone. As I get older though, I developed this sense of hurry, of urgency that was not there when I was younger. I’ve always been patient, willing to wait, never rushing. But for the past three or four years, I’ve had this need for speed. It’s almost as if, as my life draws near to the end, I realize I still have so much to do and possibly not enough time to do it. When you’re young, time just drags and old age is a very distant and abstract idea. When you get to my age, the end is suddenly very concrete. Most of the adults of your childhood are either dead or dying, your heroes, your idols, everything is dwindling down and you know that you’ll go sometime next.

Relaxed

I had always wanted to be a published writer. I had a knack for writing and did it constantly since very early on. My dream finally came true four years ago. Nine books later, I still find it hard to believe it actually happened. My next “dream” is to actually be mildly successful at it. It’s a very slow process and I get antsy. I don’t have a life in front of me to wait patiently for the world to discover my stories, I need it now. Talk about self-induced anxieties, lol.

Those of you who are in the last quarter or so of your life, getting ready to become silver foxes, do you feel this way too? This anxiety to accomplish a thousand things all at the same time and frustration of not having enough time for it? Or energy? It has gotten so bad for me, I avoid things I used to love (and still do) and that helped me relax so that I have time to finish that story, or work on that ad, or interact with my audience. It’s exhausting.

So for this new year I still want to accomplish all of that, but I also want to learn to relax, to allow myself those moments of blissful peace when there is nothing to do, no place to go.

What are your plans for the new year?

Sparkler

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic (The Dowser #1)Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book on accident and boy, am I glad I did. I got sucked in shortly after I started listening to it (I bought both the book and the audible book) and it was a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Loved it and will be buying the second in the series as soon as possible. My only issue was that there wasn’t much romance in it. I had been under the assumption it was a romantic urban fantasy. But it’s not like I missed it too much. Loved Jade’s voice, her sister, the complicated relationships with the other magical beings, and ultimately the mystery all rolled up into a thick layer of chocolate frosting. Lovely. Excited I have found a new favorite author.

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