Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review--The Turncoat


The Turncoat: Renegades of the RevolutionThe Turncoat: Renegades of the Revolution by Donna Thorland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The American Revolution and early republic fascinate me. So many things hinged on small occurrences and great individuals for the new nation to be born, and to survive. The men and women who created America are more than figures in paintings or on currency, they're people who pledged "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor".

Sometimes, however, that honor clashes with the reality of warfare and spycraft. Rebel Kate Grey learns this when she crosses paths with Major Peter Tremayne, Lord Sancreed. Kate will do anything to help the revolution, despite her attraction to Sancreed. As the months pass and the conflict grows these adversaries will have to determine what matters most to them, and how far they're willing to go for their countries--and for love.

The characters in The Turncoat are complex and well-drawn, including the villains. The research and writing will delight fans of historical fiction, and I'm eagerly looking forward to Thorland's next novel for more of this fresh look at the founding of the American nation.


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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review--Warm Bodies


Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1)Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A retelling of Romeo and Juliet, with zombies. I read this because the film trailer looked interesting, and I may still watch the film, but I very much enjoyed the book. "R", our zombie hero, is having an existential crisis as he consumes the flesh and brains of his screaming victims. When he eats the brain of a young man attacking his little zombie pod, he begins to internalize some of the man's memories, and this prompts R to save Julie, a young woman involved in the raid.

Julie and R's relationship changes both of them, and is quite literally a life or death situation as things heat up. Quirky, intelligent, moving, I really enjoyed this and look forward to more from this promising new author.


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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tutoring woes

I had a less than stellar session this week with the young lady I tutor in reading. Fortunately, I could vent later to my son, who  taught in a school with a large at-risk population. Some of you may recall he was the math teacher who refused to help me with my infamous geometry scene in Castaway Dreams. Speaking with him was helpful, especially when he gently reminded me her goals may not be the same as my goals.

I know part of my problem is I grew up in a home full of books and reading, where you were scolded if you left a book on the floor because books were to be treated with respect. My husband grew up in the same kind of household--love of literature was one of the things that drew us together, and he used to teach English in a public school. We raised our sons with a love of reading, and as my husband said to me last night when we discussed it, "I can't remember a time when I didn't want to read."

I hope when my year working with this girl is done that she'll come away from our tutoring sessions with better comprehension and a greater love of reading for its own sake. At the very least, I know she'll have met someone who's passionate about books and the joy of reading, and that example may help boost her desire to read more.

Review--The Best of All Possible Worlds


The Best of All Possible WorldsThe Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember a SF author saying once that the attraction of a certain genre of fan fiction was that it explored encounters between human women and men from another planet, and wasn't that what all M/F romance was at some level? Allowing aliens into our bedrooms?

Lord's book explores this theme in a sweet and thoughtful manner, as a relationship grows between two individuals from different worlds, learning to work and live together. The Sadiri had a planet once...and now they don't. They're refugees having to reinvent their culture in a diaspora of other planets, including Cygnus Beta. Grace is assigned to work with the Sadiri Dllenahkh, and the two form a partnership that grows into something much deeper over time.

I really enjoyed this novel, the first work I've read by rising SF star Karen Lord. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review--Tenth of December


Tenth of December: StoriesTenth of December: Stories by George Saunders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have great admiration for authors of short stories. They have a limited space in which to engage the reader, and George Saunders has the format and genre nailed. His powerful, moving and frightening tales put him in a class with Dorothy Parker, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Saki and other masters of the craft.

This new collection is getting a lot of buzz, and it's deserved. I added the SF&F shelf on this one because some of the scariest stories are clearly SF, the kind that will give you shivers.


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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review--What Darkness Brings


What Darkness Brings (Sebastian St. Cyr, #8)What Darkness Brings by C.S. Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harris kept me guessing up until the end and did a masterful job of giving us more of Sebastian St. Cyr's complicated life and the people in it. The murder investigation is well crafted, the character development is first rate. Eight books into the series, and Harris is still bringing her "A" game.


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Thursday, March 14, 2013

So, what's new with you?

I spoke last week to the Writers Alliance of Gainesville on the allure of the romance genre, for readers and for writers. It was great talking to fellow writers, most of whom admitted being largely unfamiliar with the modern romance novel. I also brought books to sell, reminding folks that Mother's Day is coming and mom would love a nice, signed romance novel with a guaranteed happy ending. You can see me in the photo, pushing books and (chocolate) booty after my talk. Oh, and the pins on my collar are for my Beacon award and my Golden Quill finalist spot. I never know where to wear these things, but this seemed like an appropriate opportunity.

Other than that, the week's been filled with some writing, and some spring cleaning, the latter a necessary evil. It's pollen season and everything is covered with a film of yellow dust, courtesy of all the pine trees around here. I'm hopeful that by next week we'll be past the worst of it and I can use my back porch again.

I always try to use a "carrot-and-stick-approach" to cleaning. I promise myself that for every hour I clean I'll put my feet up and read for an hour. Sure, sometimes it ends up with two hours of reading for every one hour of cleaning, but I'd rather my obit reads "She read a lot of really good books" than "She kept a really clean house."




Monday, March 04, 2013

Review--Suspect


SuspectSuspect by Robert Crais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was a girl, The Call of the Wild was one of my favorite books. There's a scene where Buck gives his all for his human and that was one of the scenes I flashed to when reading Suspect. This may be the best dog book I've read since The Call of the Wild.

Crais, best known for his Evis Cole/Joe Pike mysteries crafts a tale of two wounded warriors, one a LAPD cop, the other a K-9 Marine. Together they learn how to help each other heal, and Maggie and Scott James form a new "pack" as James goes through LAPD K-9 training.

Beautifully written, and a great mystery that can be appreciated by dog lovers and mystery fans alike.


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Friday, March 01, 2013

Two steps forward, one step back

Yesterday I took a large chunk of my WIP and moved it to much later in the narrative. I realized all the tension had drained out of my story because I had the heroine's Big Secret revealed far too early. While this meant a lot of re-writing in the first draft, it infused me with new energy and enthusiasm.

One of my favorite quotes about this business is: "I don't enjoy writing. I enjoy having written."

I'm still hammering away at this book, but it's shaping up nicely. Best part is, I didn't have to throw out the scenes I shifted yesterday, so I'm still 85,000 words into the book, and that's very encouraging.