Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review--Lighting the Flames

Lighting the FlamesLighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this story. It was sweet, and funny, and about friends-to-lovers, and summer camp, and so much more.

I started reading it at a Jewish summer camp in the off-season, during the holidays. Yes, this is a real thing. So much of what Wendell describes in Lighting The Flames rang true, and I loved being in that place at that time reading about Gen and Jeremy.

I loved how the camp friendship blossomed, and I loved that Jeremy was in what's a non-traditional role for romance heroes (he's a funeral director). Wendell, through the character of Jeremy, explained with great sensitivity the unselfish act of kindness that it is to be a shomer (shomeret for women), sitting with the dead before they take their final journey. I've done it, and Jeremy's recounting of his time doing it was meaningful and added depth to his commitment to Gen. It was pretty clear how she could fall in love with a mensch like him.

Lighting the Flames is a gentle, timeless tale of finding light and love in the cold and darkness of grief. Wendell may have started out simply wanting to tell a Chanukah tale to romance readers getting bombarded with Christmas stories, but the little flame of this romance story about people who celebrate a different winter holiday burned brightly indeed. I hope to see more of her fiction in the future!

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The Girl on The Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The people in this book are terrible human beings and are all unreliable narrators. I enjoyed it immensely. It's like a train wreck you can't tear your eyes away from, one bad decision and senseless act following another, but it builds and builds until you're dying to know what really happened.

Kudos to Ms. Hawkins on her debut thriller. If she can duplicate this skill and storycrafting, she has a great career ahead of her.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review--This Gun For Hire

This Gun for HireThis Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know who I liked better in this excellent novel, the hero or the heroine, but I thought they were both fabulous. Goodman hits all the right marks with her snappy writing, wonderful story, and characters that linger long after the last page is turned.

It's also great fun to read a Western historical romance again. Too few really good ones get published today, so this was a treat. I look forward to Goodman's next book with great anticipation.

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review--Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid #4)

Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid, #4)Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anyone who's visited Australia knows that while the humans are friendly, there are hundreds of other Aussies of the flora and fauna variety waiting to kill you as soon as you exit the airport. I live in Florida, where we've got our share of dangerous plants, insects and critters, but we're amateurs at killing people compared to Australia.

The Australians are also extremely strict, and rightly so, about preventing the introduction of non-native species to their unique habitat, so leave it to Seanan McGuire to make things worse by adding werewolves into the mix.

Pocket Apocalypse is the latest in the InCryptid urban fantasy series, and a welcome return to the Price family and the creatures and humans in their world. Alexander Price joins his Aussie girlfriend on a trip to her home. He has experience dealing with werewolves, though it's a trauma he'd rather not revisit. The novel features some returning characters (Aeslin mice!) and some new ones, along with new critters as befits a closed ecosystem like Australia's. There are laugh out loud moments, and hanky moments, and it's a fun roller coaster ride that will be enjoyed by fans of this intelligent series.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1)Radiance by Grace Draven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this new book in a series. The human woman/non-human lover/mate is now a common one in fantasy, but it's delightful to see it done well, with some thoughtful world-building and interesting conflicts. I'm looking forward to the next Wraith Kings book.

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Thursday, April 02, 2015

Giving Back

I'm thrilled to be able to add "award winning author" next to my name, and to list the awards my books have won. It's not bragging (well, OK, maybe it is), but winning a prestigious award, I believe, helps potential readers be more willing to take a chance on an author or a book. I know I've discovered some wonderful books that way.

Every time I enter a book in a contest, I promise myself I'll judge at least one writing competition. That's how it works in many contests--authors, librarians, booksellers are the judges. But the contests only work when people are willing to step up to the plate, when they give back to their community.

I'm judging a contest now. I won't say which one, but I volunteered because if I had entered that contest, I'd want to be confident there were judges in place to take on the task of reading and evaluating the submissions. Our close community of romance readers, authors, editors and publishers only works when we all pitch in.

Finally, it's time for a shout out to the contest coordinators. These are the people who keep track of the submissions, making sure they meet contest criteria, getting judges lined up, shepherding the books that final to the next level of competition. Well done! Thank you for all you do to help readers find quality books.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Welcome springtime!

I know the frozen north celebrates spring with the appearance of the first robin. For me, spring's little heralds are the hummingbirds. Two weeks ago I mixed some nectar and filled the feeding tubes. Then a week later, I cleaned out the untouched nectar and filled the tubes again. Today my patience was rewarded. When I was reading while lounging on the chaise on my porch I saw five hummingbirds come by to suck down nectar.

They're most active for the next two or three months, but I'll see a few all summer, and then come late September they'll head off for warmer climes. In the meantime though, welcome back little guys, it's good to have you buzzing by.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Writer's Life

I was at a funeral today for an acquaintance, much beloved in the community. We weren't close, but I had a great deal of regard for him and wanted to pay my respects. I realized about mid-way through the service that when it was the church-service part and not the eulogies I was taking mental notes. I'd never been to a funeral for this particular Christian denomination, so it was a new experience.


That's the writer's life. No matter what comes along, when it's a new experience, part of you is taking notes, in case you ever wanted to write about it in a book.


So now when you hear someone asking an author, "Where do you get your ideas?", you've got a partial answer. Funerals, ziplining, a ride on the New York subway, planting a spring garden, these are all grist for the writer's mill. When you see an author staring off into space and looking profound, they're writing something in their head.


Now you know.

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Review--Who Buries the Dead (Sebastian St. Cyr #10)

Who Buries the Dead (Sebastian St. Cyr #10)Who Buries the Dead by C.S. Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so happy that this fine Regency mystery series continues to produce first rate reading. One of the great fears suffered by dedicated readers is that a beloved series will run out of steam. We've seen it happen before. Sadly, it's all too common.

But fans of Sebastian St. Cyr, Hero, and all the wonderful secondary characters can rest easy. Who Buries The Dead is an excellent continuation into the story of Viscount Devlin's unpleasant hobby, investigating strange murders and related mysteries. Sebastian's life is complicated now by the addition of a wife and son, "hostages to fortune". He can't hurl himself headlong into danger without thinking of them as well, and that can hamper his detecting methods.

Nonetheless, it's a cracking good story with lots of twists and turns and surprises. I recommend readers start with the first book and read them in order to get the full flavor of the series and an appreciation for C.S. Harris's writing.

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