Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Feasting With Friends, Florida Style

Before we celebrated US style Thanksgiving in Florida (the Spaniards celebrated Thanksgiving at St. Augustine long before those latecomer Pilgrims set foot aboard ship) we had cane grinding in the autumn to share the work and feast with friends:

From SMUGGLER'S BRIDE:

     As the shadows lengthened, the men began gathering around the tables like wasps drawn to sweet fruit, cozying up to their women, and trying to talk them out of some of the food before the feast officially began. Ma Ivey ruled her dirt yard like an empress and wasn't above slapping a reaching hand with a wooden spoon when they drew too close. Finally though, the last of the cane was put through the mill and the syrup cooked down, and as the night sky filled with stars the feast began to a chorus of tree frogs and crickets serenading the workers. They lined up before the platters of roast pig and venison, quails, turkey, and doves. Even a possum or two joined the potatoes in the smoldering coals.
     There was fish stew and slow-cooked turtle, gator tail and fresh bass, and plenty of home-brewed ale and scuppernong wine to wash it down. The ever present corn was there, too, as meal, mush, bread, pone, grits, and "roasenears," cooked in the hot coals. Julia grinned to herself. There would be plenty of cobs for the privies after tonight's feast.
     The children and old folks were served first, then the men, then the women took for themselves, the fires from the pits and fat pine torches lighting up the yard. By the time Julia had her plate filled--and Rand had gotten his second serving--the men were rosining their fiddle bows and bringing out the banjos and whistles.
     Rand made room for Julia to sit beside him, and held up an object in his hand.
     "Look, darlin', I got the wishbone!"
     "And that means...what?"
     "It means you and me got to make a wish."
     He showed her how to grasp the bone, and warned her it would take some strength to make it snap since it hadn't dried out yet.
     "So give it a good tug, and make a wish."

Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving, with plenty of feasting with family and friends.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review--Rogue Spy

Rogue Spy (Spymasters, #5)Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much, I hardly know where to begin.

No, wait, I do know where to begin: Fluffy Aunts.

Ms. Bourne's books are not only amazingly well written, and wonderfully entertaining, but she crafts secondary characters who could step off the page. They're not spearholders (though in the case of the Fluffy Aunts I wouldn't make any assumptions), they're people who are part of the story and you can imagine them with their own lives and concerns.

Rogue Spy is Pax's story. We met him in previous books, and know he's secretly a French spy, but as is always the case with Bourne's novels of spycraft, it's much, much more complicated than Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. In fact, Camille Leyland is not only potentially one of the really Bad Guys (as well as Pax's love interest), she's deadlier and comes from a background that's prepared her well for a life of duplicity, intrigue and crime.

Each of Bourne's books is a winner, and her numerous awards testify to this. Rogue Spy is the latest in a list of books to be savored over and over again, and I can't wait until she gives us more!


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

5 Stars for The Pirate's Secret Baby, from Pirates and Privateers reviews

From the site Pirates and Privateers: The History of Maritime Piracy:

"...Set in 1820, The Pirate’s Secret Baby is a well-researched historical romance spiced with humor. The story of Robert, Lydia, and Marauding Mattie weaves an invisible spell that tugs at your heart strings, and I particularly liked Robert’s non-violent, but oh-so-typically-piratical solution to thwarting Lydia’s nemesis. Near the end of the story, I thought once or twice it could have ended sooner than it did, but the final scene definitely ices the wedding cake. The host of refreshing, non-stereotypical, minor characters – such as two Mutt-and-Jeff-like seamen who go to school with Marauding Mattie and go her tea party, or the vicar who doesn’t mind if his daughter dons an eye patch and duels with a wooden sword – truly help bring this story to life.

I’ve read several of Marshall’s previous pirate tales, but this is the best written and most intriguing one..."

Read the full review here, and you can purchase the novel in ebook or paper from Amber Quill Press, Amazon, NOOK and AllRomanceEbooks.







Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review--Softly Falling

Softly FallingSoftly Falling by Carla    Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lovely, sweet romance about strong, good people surviving under the harshest of winter conditions. Boy howdy, did this book make me glad I live in Florida! Just reading about a killer Wyoming winter chilled me to the bone.

Carla Kelly's books aren't about dukes (most of the time) or spies or vampires, they're about ordinary people who reaffirm one's faith in the basic goodness of humanity. She writes wonderful tales about people who could live next door or down the lane or be our ancestors, and she does it with style and flair. She's also one of the top Western romance writers today, and shouldn't be overlooked.

Softly Falling isn't explicit, but is delightfully romantic and can be enjoyed by all romance readers. It's a good starting point for those who've never experienced Kelly's special brand of romance.


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review--Ancillary Sword

Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2)Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's a special pleasure when the second book in a series lives up to the promise of the first. Ancillary Justice blew me away last year, and other voters agreed with me, because the novel won the 2014 World Science Fiction Society Hugo award along with a slew of other honors.

Now Leckie returns to her world of intelligent ships and subject populations in Ancillary Sword, and if anything, I liked it better than the first book. AJ rocked me with its worldbuilding and genderbending. Because I had some of that background going into AS didn't require the same kind of exposition and sometimes confusion that was inevitable with a groundbreaking first SF novel.

Breq is now a Fleet Captain, bringing her experience as a ship and an ancillary to a new role. She's still trying to make amends for some of the incidents in her past, and helping her crew navigate through treacherous societies. One of the most enjoyable parts of reading this was knowing that Breq's people don't differentiate gender in their language, so the reader is thrust into a post-gender world. We know not everyone we're encountering is female, but we don't know what gender they are. We're not judging characters' choices or actions based on whether they're male or female, het, bi or gay. It's a liberating reading experience.

I'm looking forward to more quality SF from Leckie in the future. Her career is off to an amazing start.


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Writer Woes

I was plinking away at the WIP this morning, crafting the new scene that came to me while I was out walking on Sunday. Then I realized that while the new scene does help and is necessary, I'm going to have to substantially re-write 35,000 words of what I've already done.

Writing is indeed akin to taking weird meat by-products and turning them into sausage. So, while it was a "two steps forward, one step back" morning, it could be worse. I've learned to trust my instincts on these things and I know the new scene (and the re-writing) will make [working title] Mattie's Story even better.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I have the cover of The Pirate's Secret Baby as my graphic, you probably haven't read TPSB. That's where we are first introduced to Marauding Mattie, the would-be pirate, so it's a fitting illustration for this post. It helps keep me on track while I'm working on the book, asking myself, "What Would Mattie Do?"  There's usually mayhem and swordplay in the answer, as there was in the scene I found I needed to insert into the WIP.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Review--Poison Fruit

Poison Fruit (Agent of Hel, #3)Poison Fruit by Jacqueline Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If this is the final book in the "Agent of Hel" series I will be quite satisfied. Relationships were resolved, character development occurred, there were epic doings, a lawyer was a total cliche, and much meta referencing happened. When Daisy thought of herself as a Mary Sue in a piece of bad fan fiction I nearly chortled with glee.

Carey has been one of my auto-buy authors for some time, and part of what I enjoy about her is the range of her writing. She's able to navigate epic fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy waters with skill and verve. This was a rewarding and enjoyable series.


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