Month

November 2016

Wise Phuul by Daniel Stride

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

51rqzgxchwlI have said several times before, one of the most difficult parts of writing a book is world building. The art of creating a complete world that is both believable and fantastical at the same time takes patience and dedication. Daniel Stride created just such a world in his debut novel Wise Phuul.

The main character, Telto, is placed in an almost impossible situation and face one trial after another. As a necromancer assigned to a government official, he has to maneuver the political world to support both his government and his own life. When his country goes to war and someone tried to kill him, he struggles to stay alive and get back home. There were times when I had to take a break from reading this because of the intense drama. However, this intense drama moved the plot forward and never left the reader bored. The characters work together to enhance the story and serve to add icing on Stride’s cake.

 

 

Walking corpses and black-market liquor: the quiet life.
Teltö Phuul, Necromancer and Library Clerk, likes his days safe and predictable. Not for him the intrigues of the Viiminian Empire, a gothic monstrosity held together by sheer force of will.
Until the Empire’s dreaded secret police come knocking. Caught in a web of schemes in the diseased heart of Kuolinako, the underground Imperial capital, Teltö can trust no-one. Not the Northern theocrats who abhor Necromancy, and certainly not the Grand Chancellor, whose iron-fisted rule has kept the old order alive that little bit longer.
When one false step means torture and disappearance, this journey will change our Necromancer forever.

If I had any issue with this book, it deals with this incredible world Stride created. Sometimes, I had to look back to review characters, locations, and inventions to remind myself. Also since I read an ebook version, I was not aware of the list of characters listed in the back. I know this is not proper formatting, but it would have been nice to have a list of characters in the beginning. However once I realized it was there, it helped a lot.

Amazon

The Egg & I by Betty MacDonald- narrated by Heather Henderson

the-egg-and-i-2400-bm-on-cover**I received a free audio copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, working in conjunction with  The Audiobookworm.**

This is the first audiobook review I agreed to review. Audiobooks are harder for me to complete as it is easier to block out distractions when I read. An audiobook has to be very good. This book did not disappoint. If it had been a print copy, I would have stayed up all night to finish it.

As I listened to this story, I felt like Betty and I were sitting at her kitchen table with her very clean floors and the aggressive stove hovering over in the corner. We shared a strong cup of coffee,  reminisced about our children, and her life on the farm raising chickens or whatever other livestock and/or plant managed to live and thrive on the farm with her. Her life made me laugh, sometimes so hard tears fell just as freely as if I grieved for the loss of a friend.

When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall – through chaos and catastrophe – this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor.

A beloved literary treasure for more than half a century, Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I is a heartwarming and uproarious account of adventure and survival on the American frontier.

Though her book, originally published in 1945 tells of a life without Facebook, big superstores, and even electricity I found her relatable as she learned to accept all that life handed her with determination and a fantastic sense of humor. I saw her as a person. This anniversary re-release edition provides a much-needed respite for me from the hustle and bustle of my life.

As the narrator, Heather Henderson does an incredible job bringing Betty to life. This was the first time I heard any her books. I look forward to hearing more from her. Her flawless execution created a rich and round character. There were no errors and the sound quality and well-produced audiobook only added to the experience. This is a must read, or rather a must listen, for anyone who loves to learn about ordinary people leading extraordinary lives.

 

The Truth Will Set You Free- guest post by Sherry Rentschler

sherry_rentschler__034and scare the hell out of you!

I just published my fictional memoir and it took me over 20 years to do it. Why? Because telling the truth is harder than it sounds when it comes to talking about yourself. I love to create fantasies, weave spells in poetry, and paint images with my photography. But telling the truth is hardest when it is all about yourself.

First, let me explain the difference between a fictional memoir and a regular memoir or an autobiography. When writing about a section of time, you write a memoir. When telling your entire life’s story, then that is an autobiography. When someone has a reason for telling only a piece of their life, that’s when you usually read a memoir. There have been folks who do one ever 10-20 years. Seems a bit much to me but to each their own. In my case, I had a few important lessons to share and that pushed me to write my story.


A fictional memoir isn’t fiction. The definition means is I’ve changed the names of the people and the locations, recreated dialogue that isn’t exact, and perhaps reordered some events to make sense of confusing situations. But the story is true as are the people and events. The historical nature is intact.

A regular memoir tells a story exactly, without alteration. I couldn’t do that for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was to protect some folks who might not want their truth told for them. So fiction is an added, necessary element to help recall special moments that drive the story.

Some people also call this genre autobiographical fiction but the two are actually separate. The autobiography employs more truth and in-depth storytelling techniques as in a regular novel. Also, typical autobio fictions are longer works than memoirs due to the length of the life involved.

With all that understood, the question returns, why write something that requires you to bare your soul with truth? Good question. Part of the reason is the truth I needed to tell. Lesson learned in my time seemed distant and unrepeatable. Until now. Now as I see my mistakes repeated by others, I felt the time was right for me to tell my story, to reveal my truth. Perhaps my revelations can help someone where I didn’t have the help when I needed it. That’s one reason.

Another reason is I’ve reached that age in life when I don’t care as much what people say about me or think about me. What matters now is the truth. To tell your truth is to find yourself among the internal muck and debris. When you sift through all that “stuff” you carry around and get right to the heart of your true self, you set yourself free. Free of all the debris like self-doubt, self-recriminations, self-censure, as well as guilt and blame, and the other dirty little secrets we lug around like unpaid, excess baggage.

Owning and releasing one’s truth is to say, “here I am with all my flaws. I own them. I am them. This is me.And you stop daring the world to criticize and point fingers at you because you stop caring if it does. You become more yourself than ever. That’s freedom.

Now I’m not necessarily advocating that everyone sit down at age 50, 60 or older and write a memoir. If you have a special story to tell, then tell it when you are ready. That’s key. When you are ready. Don’t be bullied or pressured into telling your tale until you feel its time. What I am advocating is whatever you write that is personal, use the medium to tell the truth. Let it live. This one action is empowering because you allow yourself to be your most complete self.

Some young people today say, “I am always myself. I always tell the truth.” In the decades to follow, I hope those confident youth can continue living those words. Skeptical me doubts because life has a way of pushing down truth for compromise, guilt, shame, or just plain necessity. Worse, we can convince ourselves that we are being honest when instead we couch or color our truths to make ourselves more “acceptable” to others (and haven’t we all done that at one time or another?).

But eventually, every truth will need a voice.

And so it was with me. I wrote, Breaking the Glass Slipper, because I had a special story to tell. How I spent my life searching for love and a promise of a fairy tale after disillusionment sent my life off course. My chosen path was filled with hard lessons and the memoir is my truthful testament of those events. As a result, I am free of my past and I have shared what I learned along the way. I hope I do some good with these memories and that is my reason for exposing myself and letting everyone see the real me.

Truth is frightening but empowering. Truth can also elevate a writer. Ernest Hemingway said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” You can’t do that unless you dare to write truth. To tell the truth is to expose what makes you vulnerable and afraid. What few realize is once you’ve revealed your secrets, there’s nothing left to fear.

And isn’t that the hardest part? To actually tell the truth. I finally did and it changed me. Is it scary out here? You betcha. But I’m glad I shed my chains and now I can fly. Because the only things that matter aren’t what others say or think but how I feel and how I choose to live with myself.


BreakingTheGlassSlipper-2That’s why I chose to write my memoir now. It was time to write about what hurt, to face the hard truths, and maybe to prevent others from making similar mistakes. Best of all, I owned who I was and who I am because of my past.

Writing about yourself is scary. Writing honestly about yourself is scarier. For me, it was the hardest writing I’ve ever done and the most empowering. The truth really did set me free.

Breaking the Glass Slipper is available on Amazon for pre-order. Buy yours today before the price goes up.

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Bree P. reads… #carolinareads

bree-profileWhat’s the first book you remember reading?
I’m not sure. There were so many books when I was a kid, but my favorite was the set of classic books I got one year for Christmas when I was around 7 years old. I will forever love the classics because of that gift.

What’s the most recent book you have read or what are you reading right now?
El Diablo by M Robinson

Why did you choose that book?
Great cover and I love a good mobster book once in a while.

If you could meet one book character or one author, who would you like it to be and why?
Jane Austen because I imagine she would have quite good advice to give to an author. Not to mention, I would love to know all about her inspiration for her books.

You can only choose five books for your bookshelf. What are they?
Pride and Prejudice, The Bible, The Hobbit, Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, Nerd by Cambria Hebert

I currently live in Arkansas with my hubby, three kids, and 2 devilish dogs and I have been writing since I was a kid, but only recently began publishing my works. I love reading a good book and I also love to write a garden variety of genres although paranormal is my main one.

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Join the movement!
I want to promote reading. I know there are so many out there who have read a book and thought, this is something others need to know about. Reading encourages a lifelong passion for learning. #carolinareads is a movement that will give readers a chance to share what they are reading. There is a five question interview. I will share it on my website and give you a chance to not only promote your love of reading but also to promote yourself as you can include a website in your two sentence biography. Don’t live in the Carolinas? Well, do you know someone who does (hint: the person who created this form) you can still participate. Submit the form and I’ll let you know the date of your spotlight. Spread the word! Join the movement. Please email a picture if you would like it to be included.

 

 

 

The Drogue by M.A. Nichols

51rurs5zbbl**I was contacted by the author to review this book. I got it through Kindle Unlimited but then liked it so much, I bought it.**

Creating worlds is hard, and it takes talent and skill to do it well. This author nails it. From the very beginning, the reader is drawn into this alternate universe and the real world drama that the main character, Annie, has to face. I felt the author did a great job of “showing” the story instead of “telling” the story. The author goes beyond the typical YA fantasy tropes we see today. Yes, the kids in the book are wizards going to school, but the story becomes more twisted and involved so it transforms the reader into a new fantasy world. I really appreciated that the characters in this book acted and reacted like real young adults. They react to situations just like the young adults I know in my life. I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

From Amazon blurb:

No one knows for certain what the Drogue is or where it came from, but the Dark Knights have spent millennia searching for it. And now, they know who has it. Even if he doesn’t realize it.

For as long as Jake could remember, he’s felt writhing, wriggling energy floating in the air around him, but no one believed it. Not even his own father. Don’t talk about it. Just ignore it. Only crazy people sense things no one else can.

Just act normal.

But when his father disappears in the middle of a parking lot, Jake’s definition of normal changes forever. Here one minute and gone in a cloud of smoke the next, his dad vanishes in front of Jake’s eyes, abandoning him to a hidden world of wizards, magic, and the mystery of the Drogue. Jake doesn’t know why the Dark Knights think he has it, but he must find it before they find him. For where the Dark Knights go, death follows.

Amazon

 

Amy S. reads… #carolinareads

41cbzufdysl-_ux250_What’s the first book you remember reading?
I loved the Berenstain Bears when I was little. I’m not sure if those were the first books I read, but they’re probably the first that made a lasting impression. I actually think that’s where my love for book series began!

What’s the most recent book you have read or what are you reading right now?
I just finished The Children of King Henry VIII by Alison Weir.

Why did you choose that book?
I’m a huge history geek, especially when it has anything to do with medieval England. I’d read Weir’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which was fascinating, so I really wanted to roll with it and read about the children. Next on my list in that department is Weir’s book about Elizabeth I.

If you could meet one book character or one author, who would you like it to be and why?
That is a really tough question! I’ll go with Jane Austen. She seems to have had a lot of snark and attitude, which I appreciate. Plus, I’d like to ask why she didn’t have more dialogue in Pride & Prejudice. We like to see people talking, not just read a summation about what they said!

You can only choose five books for your bookshelf. What are they?
The Hobbit. Pride and Prejudice. Sea of Monsters. Death on the Nile (Agatha Christie). A Maze of Murders (C.L. Grace).


Join the movement!
I want to promote reading. I know there are so many out there who have read a book and thought, this is something others need to know about. Reading encourages a lifelong passion for learning. #carolinareads is a movement that will give readers a chance to share what they are reading. There is a five question interview. I will share it on my website and give you a chance to not only promote your love of reading but also to promote yourself as you can include a website in your two sentence biography. Don’t live in the Carolinas? Well, do you know someone who does (hint: the person who created this form) you can still participate. Submit the form and I’ll let you know the date of your spotlight. Spread the word! Join the movement. Please email a picture if you would like it to be included.

A Bit of Earth by Wendy Crisp Lestina

51fpagwvaxl-_ac_us160_*** I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ***

This is not the typical book I read. There was no vampires, fairies, dragons, or end of the world prophecies. However, it was a fun relaxing read. I am learning that memoirs in any form are hard to write. It is not easy to share personal stories and anecdotes with people you know, much less a whole world you don’t know. The author has spent the last 40 years of her life writing a column for the Ferndale Enterprise. Several of the vignettes that appear here first appeared in her column.

I appreciated the author’s honest look at herself and she seems to have a good ability to laugh at herself. This book has an Erma Bombeck feel to it. I think the author’s intent with this book is to show the reader the importance of living life to the fullest by sharing her own experiences. I can imagine her life as I read about her adjustments after forty years of living in several busy cities to living on a small farm in a small town. Having lived in both big and small cities, I know first hand the challenges and joys of both. She does an excellent job. It is worth the reader especially for a reader who enjoys real life stories.

Amazon

Memoirs of a Lab Rat by Stephen and Cynthia Colson

41hzktdifel***I was provided a copy of the book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review***

This book is unlike any book that I have ever read.

First, let me talk about the writing. Memoirs can lag at times. The author has to balance the need for detail with impactful storytelling. Too many details and the story becomes complicated and boring. Not enough details and the story also becomes boring because the reader has no way “seeing” the story. The authors do a good job sharing the story and balancing all the details. The authors go back and forth sharing their interpretations of events. I like this because it helps to create a whole picture. The writing is very tight and each word has a purpose.

Second, let me talk about the story. As I read this (which I actually read parts of it twice), I had the hardest time remembering this was not fiction. The authors share about a time in their life when they feel the were part of a mind-controlling experiment led by the government. I have spoken with one of the authors a few times, just because this seems so “X-File”ish to me. I believe in some conspiracies and I think that the government does a lot of things in the name of security that we will never know about. But reading the intimate details of what happened was hard. I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to get to the end of the story and find out the authors were beamed back to earth and lived happily ever after.

I don’t think it was easy for this brother and sister to share their experiences. I can only imagine some of the ridicule they experienced. I applaud their strength and willingness to tell their story. I hope others who may have experienced the same thing will be encouraged to come forward and share.

Amazon

 

M.M. reads… #carolinareads

010What’s the first book you remember reading?
It’s all a blur, but the first book I remember falling in love with was Gay Purr-ee, a Big Golden Book about two cats in Paris.

What’s the most recent book you have read or what are you reading right now?
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Part 2 by M.R. James: I’m halfway through it.

Why did you choose that book?
I’d read the first volume and enjoyed it. Although we’re perhaps too jaded and modern to find the subjects of these stories very frightening anymore, they’re so well constructed. I admire writers who can pull off a good ghost story, as opposed to horror, which I’m not a fan of. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is another classic. If I could ever write something like that one day I’d be quite pleased with myself! But I’m not holding my breath.

If you could meet one book character or one author, who would you like it to be and why?
I would love to be a fly on the wall in the Bronte sitting room, listening to the sisters as they discuss their stories with each other. Their bond and their collective imagination fascinate me.

You can only choose five books for your bookshelf. What are they?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, An Artist in a Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, and The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. Although if I answered this tomorrow I might have a totally different list!

I was once a lawyer, but I’m now a dedicated writer and sometime artist. I have one creative writing & art blog  and another blog for my serialized novel, A Slow Twisting Place Find out about her other novel The Abduction Myth from one of my past blog posts.


Join the movement!
I want to promote reading. I know there are so many out there who have read a book and thought, this is something others need to know about. Reading encourages a lifelong passion for learning. #carolinareads is a movement that will give readers a chance to share what they are reading. There is a five question interview. I will share it on my website and give you a chance to not only promote your love of reading but also to promote yourself as you can include a website in your two sentence biography. Don’t live in the Carolinas? Well, do you know someone who does (hint: the person who created this form) you can still participate. Submit the form and I’ll let you know the date of your spotlight. Spread the word! Join the movement. Please email a picture if you would like it to be included.