Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review--The One in My Heart

The One In My HeartThe One In My Heart by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting change of pace for Thomas, who normally writes excellent Regency romance. There was a nod to her first novel as we follow one of the descendants of that romance into his own story.

This could have been subtitled "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Abandonment Issues", and the difficulty in relating to the overly accomplished, wealthy and beautiful H&H kept me from giving it five stars. Nonetheless, it handled the classic "fake relationship" trope well, and the characters' lives were interesting. The exploration of mental illness, particularly depression, also brought depth to the story.

There were enough intriguing secondary characters that we can hope for more contemporary romance from this accomplished author.

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Editing tips

I've just returned from a few days on the road as I accompanied my dear husband to one of his annual conferences. For me it was an opportunity to edit. I find sometimes that being out of my normal environment helps stimulate either the editing or the writing, and since our hotel wasn't near anything interesting, it helped keep my bottom in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard.

One editing trick I use for the final pass is to turn on the "Reveal Codes" function. It's amazing how many extra spaces, open quotes and other editing woes can leap out at you. I also read dialogue aloud, and see if it sounds real or not. Finally, I change the font, another good way to catch typos and problems.

No editing process is perfect but I always enjoy the sense of accomplishment when I've done a final pass before sending it off to a prospective publisher.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Review--Night Shift (Midnight, Texas, #3)

Night Shift (Midnight, Texas, #3)Night Shift by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another entertaining story set in Midnight, Texas, a town that's a lot like Mayberry--if Mayberry had vampires, witches, weres, angels, assassins and things that go bump in the night.

We're still in the Sookie Stackhouse universe, but with characters who lead much more mundane and ordinary lives, eschewing vampire and were politics (for the most part) and keeping to themselves. But now something is drawing people to the crossroads at Midnight to commit suicide. The residents have to figure out what's amiss, hide a few bodies, and some will make life decisions long overdue.

I recommend reading the other books first, but it easily stands on its own.

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Off to #RWA16!

I'm packing for my first Romance Writers of America conference in San Diego and I've learned from experience to use a packing list before big and/or important trips. You don't want to pack a gown for the Rita and Golden Heart Award Ceremony only to find out you left your evening pumps in the closet at home! The iPad is fully charged, my ereader is full of good books for the long flight, and I'm ready to rock-'n-roll with the other writers.

I also left my dear husband detailed instructions regarding the adorable, but not-quite-housetrained dachshund puppy. I predict Dodi will be getting plenty of cuddles from her dad, and I have complete confidence he can handle any small mishaps. I'm especially confident because I've got the baby gates blocking her access to most of the rugs.

For updates and pictures, I suggest following me on my Instagram account where I'm darlenemarshallauthor. There will also be Twitter updates with the hashtag #RWA16 and #RITAGH from @DarleneMarshall. You can join in the fun, and follow the live feeds to find out who's received Romance writing's highest awards at the ceremonies Saturday night!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Review--Troubleshooter (Tim Rackley, #3)

Troubleshooter (Tim Rackley, #3)Troubleshooter by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another solid Tim Rackley novel, this time featuring biker gangs and a truly convoluted mystery. Rackley's back with the US Marshal's office, and his nickname of "Troubleshooter" is apt and earned. I'm looking forward to reading the next Rackley novel, and Hurwitz is climbing up my "auto buy" list, right alongside Lee Child, Robert Crais, Thomas Perry and Stephen Hunter.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Review--Stiletto (The Checquy Files, #2)

Stiletto (The Checquy Files, #2)Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"So, yes," Odgers said firmly, "we are going in. We are the troops of the Checquy, we are trained, we have supernatural powers, and we have big fucking guns. This is what we do."

It's mad scientists vs. the supernatural in a fight to the death! Or at least it was for centuries. Now the Checquy (Britain's really, really secret service) is feeling out a detente with The Grafters, the European scientists who scoff at the notion that there were things Man Was Not Meant to Know.

A delegation is sent from the scientists to London, and Odette Liliefeld and her young brother Alessio are as much hostages as diplomats as they feel out the Checquy. Odette's handler/guard, Pawn Felicity Clements will have to overcome her own visceral hatreds and mistrust to keep Odette safe, or kill her if commanded to do so.

Rook Myfanwy Thomas is back, but isn't the protagonist. Once again O'Malley has written dynamic and strong female leads who drive this book forward. There's no way to describe it, really, but it should appeal to fans of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe, Buckaroo Banzai in the Eighth Dimension, and Men in Black. You must read The Rook first to get the full, gonzo experience and appreciate the wordplay and skillful writing. O'Malley's fans have been waiting a long time for this sequel, and it was well worth the wait.

I read this novel with a gleeful smile on my face, and a happy sigh as I closed it at the end. I can't wait for the next Checquy Files adventure!

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Fourth of July!

“It is brave of you to uproot yourself and come to a new land, Mrs. Stephenson.”
“My goodness.” Amanda looked at the captain and thought about it for a moment. “I never considered myself a brave person, Captain Roberts. I am excited about seeing a new country. And America is wonderful, a land of freedom and great opportunities! Mr. Freneau’s poetry says it so well! ‘Honor to those who first designed, this chain of States to bless mankind.’”

The Fourth of July is just a date on the calendar in other countries, but in the United States of America it's Independence Day, a day celebrated with fireworks, music, patriotic speeches and, if you're in this part of the country, plenty of cool, refreshing watermelon (usually followed by a seed-spitting contest).

Do like Amanda Stephenson does in Captain Sinister's Lady, embrace the concepts that made our country great, while always working vigilantly to make out country even better.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review--Her Every Wish (The Worth Saga, #1.5)

Her Every Wish (The Worth Saga #1.5)Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another winner from Ms. Milan, this time with a simply adorable tale of a young woman striving to better herself, not by marrying a marquess, but by starting her own business. Daisy is everything we want in a heroine--plucky, brave, determined, and not willing to settle for less than her due in love or in success.

Crash is a great hero, and an unexpected one. At first he comes across as a ne'er do well, light hearted and not serious about life or Daisy. But the more we get to know him, the more we realize how much deeper he is. He's a mixed race bastard in Victorian England, and finding his spot in society will take his own brand of hard work and determination.

The secondary characters also shined, and I especially adored the aunties. But there was an appearance by a heroine of a previous Milan novel who makes the reader re-think what a HEA is, and how one achieves that.

Can't wait for more from this talented author, who's always an auto-buy for me.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day!

... as they rose from the table Justin asked Julia to join him in his study.
He did not seat himself behind his desk, but instead perched on the edge, and watched her for a moment, a different silence from that used on [redacted for spoiler(g)]. Nonetheless, Julia's hands were clasped in her lap as she looked up at her father.
"Julia." He hesitated, and she braced herself for a long overdue lecture on her hoydenish ways.
"Julia. I am so thankful you are safe. If I live to be one hundred, I will never be able to express to you how much it meant to me to find you alive and unharmed in that cabin."
This was so far from what Julia expected that before she realized what was happening, tears were flowing down her cheeks. Her father pulled her into his sheltering embrace as she clutched his lapels and sobbed into his jacket.
"Oh, Papa, I was so afraid," she sniffled after soaking his shirtfront. "I was so afraid that you and Mama would be ashamed of me!"
"Here, blow," the earl said, pressing his handkerchief into her hand. "Ashamed of you? My darling girl, your welfare is my sole concern! And far from being ashamed of you, your mother and I admire your resourcefulness. Few young women would have dealt so well with your situation."


Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there who understand their daughters and sons, and love them, no matter what trouble they get themselves into. (Look for the re-issue of Smuggler's Bride in ebook, coming this September!)