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Book Review: Adrianna’s Secrets by Cheryl Colwell

Adriana's Secret

The Synopsis:

An historical, romantic suspense novel, Adriana’s Secrets, Book Two in The Secrets of the Montebellis Series, travels back to Lisa Richardson’s great-grandmother’s time and fills in the exciting stories alluded to in Book One.

Tragedy strikes the mountain town of Mont Castello, the home of Adriana Montebelli. Orphaned in 1888, Adriana’s life is swept along at the whim of forceful men who decide where she will live and who she will marry. Instead of breaking her, their cruel deceptions toughen her resolve to take control. Though she rises to manage the vast Van Buren estate, she wonders if her broken heart will have the strength to love again.

Follow Adriana in this historical novel as she navigates the challenges of woman’s suffrage, union violence, and the tragic hardships of love and loss, while struggling to cling to her faith.

My Review:

After reading The Proof and falling in love with Colwell’s writing, I was incredibly anxious to read the very next book she came out with, which happened to be Adriana’s Secrets. I was unaware, however that it was book two to The Secret of Montebellis, you see, I thought that it was the sequel to The Proof. So, you could say that I was slightly confused with a lot of the back story, but I did manage to follow it and I did enjoy it.

Once again, Colwell pleased me with her characters and the suspense of the story. Her writing was fabulous and engaged me with every word she wrote and I already can’t wait to read the first book (I often wonder how many series I’ve read backwards….I’m fairly certain that they would outnumber the ones that I read in order…)! I did find Adriana’s Secrets to be much more emotional than I remember The Proof being and the violence was slightly more. But, I think that it was these two factors that made the book so well written, because Colwell captured the emotion of the characters so perfectly.

All in all, I rate Adriana’s Secrets 4 out of 5 stars and encourage all fans of The Proof to read it (after reading book 1 first!)!

“I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own”

Author Bio:

Cheryl Colwell

Passionate about all things creative, Cheryl finds inspiration in the countryside of Ashland, Oregon–the perfect venue for her interests in writing, gardening, art, and relationships.

Following the theme, “Stunning Suspense,” her characters visit stunning locations while they pursue adventurous quests peppered with mystery, suspense, and romance.

Links for Purchase:

Amazon

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Bonus Review: City of the Fallen Sky by Joseph Evans

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     This book has all kinds of emotions reeling in me. One side of me absolutely loved this book, as I couldn’t put it down for the better part of a week. But another side of me was deeply disappointed, and confused, with the messages that the author portrayed in his story. 
    The side of me that loved the story, loved it because it was just plain fabulous! An energetic, suspenseful, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, read that I haven’t experienced since reading the first book in The Safe Lands series! The characters were so realistic and well made that I could see and hear each and every one of them in consistency. The atmosphere I felt easily without being bogged down with useless describing words and the plot was only slightly predictable, I was still surprised at a lot of the storyline. Evans’ has a wonderful writing style that I immediately liked and anxiously look forward to reading more of.
    However, that is where my love of the book comes to an end, for though that may seem like a completely positive review, I did have a BIG problem with the underlined messages this author placed in his story. But, I was not displeased with ALL of his messages.
    For example, Seckry’s love for Eyia was based solely on respect, friendship,  and Biblical love to a friend that developed into a much deeper friendship. There was no physical desire or constant kissing as in most YA novels, and I found this to be refreshing in so many ways. Though, this does not mean that there was not any sexual content, there were a lot of sexual “comments” and quite a bit of kissing from other characters.
    What confuses me about the author’s morals however, is that he seems to be getting these morals from out of nowhere. The world, obviously, is all for sexuality, profanity, physical violence, etc…but Evans clearly showed all of this to be wrong in his fictional world’s morality. He even set up a “religion” that seemed an awful lot like Christianity to me, with Gedin (God) sending His son Seckraman (Jesus) to save the world from destruction. Being a Christian myself, I began getting excited as I read this and wondered how the author would tie in the Gospel to the otherwise satisfying YA book.
    However, as I flipped through the last chapters, my heart broke at what I read, this wonderful author had used his profound gift of writing to state that Jesus had never come and that He is only a myth. He even made the point of making Christians look completely and utterly stupid.
    This is why I am confused about where this author gets his morals, because he cannot get them from the world, and clearly from the messages he revealed in his book, He doesn’t get them from Jesus’ teaching in the Bible either.
     Part of me wants to believe that maybe the author will somehow, in the rest of the series, redeem what he said in this book, that maybe he shows that the characters were mistaken. But I am not holding my breath.
    All in all, I can only bring myself to rate City of the Fallen Sky 2 and a half stars (3 on sites who don’t except halves) out of 5 stars. For though I absolutely loved the story, I was not pleased with the messages that read, clearly, in between the lines.
    I am going to say however, that I will more than likely be finishing the series should they show up at my library or are suddenly free on kindle (as was with this book). But I don’t believe that I will be sending any monetary support to this author by buying his book.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Writing Tip #2- Get a Music Playlist!

I had often heard from lots of other writers, young and old, experienced and non, say that certain kinds of music REALLY helped their writing process. But, I had always kept the radio playing (89.5 KVNE) and it never really “helped” me with my writing, so I blew it off thinking that music only helped certain people. But boy was I wrong!

Music and writing are like popcorn and soda, where music is the soda and writing is the popcorn. You can totally drink a soda without saying “Oh, I really wish that I had some popcorn right about now!” And in the same way you can listen to music without thinking, “Oh, I really wish I was working on my writing!”. Of course, its not weird if you have a strange craving for popcorn when you go to drink a soda and therefore it’s not weird to want to sit down and write whenever you hear a good beat. But, it typically doesn’t happen often.

Now, how many of us try to eat popcorn at the movies without a drink? Oh you can do it, but the popcorn gets awful dry without that Coke to wash it down, plus you normally drink about a gallon of water as soon as the movie is over and have lots of people mad at you because you’re hogging the water fountain…. Same thing with music and writing. You’re writing is great without music, but after a while it may tend to get dry. Music is the perfect thing to get it wet again! The trick is:

Get a Music Playlist that you will never get tired of and turn it on EVERY time you go to write!

Now, this may or may not mean the same songs, same artists, or even same genre. Like I’ve said so many times, every writer is different and therefore will have their own playlist that shuffles their own kind of “soda”. But, this doesn’t mean that we, as fellow writers, cannot suggest different music:-) In fact, one of the best ways to discovering a good music playlist is to ask other writers what best helps them. So below, you will read the secret formula to my success! lol

[Josh Vietti + Bond + Escala + (Many, many more)] = Josh Vietti Radio on iHeart = Mt. Dew!

Explaining the above equation is very simple. Everything that we are adding into the formula is a single artist or a band that I listen to like an addict…literally…..all day long these artists are playing! Josh Vietti happens to be my very favorite so I listen to “Josh Vietti Radio” on the radio app called iHeart Radio. If you’ve never heard of it, then you should look it up because it is so awesome! Josh Vietti Radio on iHeart then reduces down to Mt. Dew, which is my favorite soda….like that is monstrous understatement!

My writing music is 99.999999% Pop Violin instrumentals…That means that every stinking song I listen too has a Pop beat and a Violin solo. EVERY SONG! I drive my family crazy! But, I honestly write sooooo much better when I have that music playing through my headphones!

Now, I don’t only listen to instrumentals, I tend to shuffle my playlist on my phone, which gets all kinds of songs in there, ranging from No Chains on Me (Chris Tomlin) to What Makes You Beautiful (One Direction….but you all knew that ;-) to Great I Am (Hillsong) to Counting Stars (One Republic…but I listen to the Hunter Hayes Version :-) and so on….

So, looking at this writing tip in review, find a playlist that best suits you and write with it! It’s not a hard feat to accomplish, but it truly makes a difference!

What is your soda? Or are still having trouble finding that perfect playlist?

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Book Review: Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris

Hidden Agenda

The Synopsis:

Michael Hunt is alive–and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he’s been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

This nonstop chase from taut suspense writer Lisa Harris will leave readers breathless as they race to connect the dots before it’s too late.

My Review:

The writing style in this book was wonderful! The way the author worded everything attempted to keep me engaged, however, the characters and storyline eventually won and I became completely board with the story, therefore not even finishing it. I really don’t know what I was board with, I mean after all, this is a suspense novel and it definitely had its share of suspense, but I guess it just wasn’t a “me” book. There wasn’t anything inappropriate in the book either so in all honesty, I really don’t know why I didn’t care for it, I just know that it wasn’t for me and that I probably will not be finishing this series. 3 out of 5 stars.

“I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own.”

Author Bio:

Lisa HarrisBIO: Award-winning author of nineteen novels and novellas, Lisa Harris lives with her husband and their three children in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.

When she’s not busy writing or home schooling, she loves traveling, cooking different ethnic foods, and photographing animals and birds in the African bush. Visit her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com and her blog at www.myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot….

Link for Purchase:

Amazon

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Book Review: Emissary by Thomas Locke (Davis Bunn)

Emissary

The Synopsis:

Hyam is a likeable lad who will make a fine farmer someday. But he carries a burden few can fathom. As his mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall, where he spent five years as an apprentice. It was there that Hyam’s extraordinary capacity for mastering languages came to light–and soon cast him into the shadows of suspicion. How could any human learn the forbidden tongues with such ease? When Hyam dares to seek out the Mistress of the Sorceries, her revelation tears his world asunder.

He has no choice but to set out on the foreboding path–which beckons him to either his destiny or his doom. An encounter with an enchanting stranger reminds him that he is part hero and part captive. As Hyam struggles to interpret the omens and symbols, he is swept up by a great current of possibilities–and dangers.

My Review:

I do have to apologize for the lateness of this review…I temporarily misplaced the book and therefor forgot about it……

I’ve always enjoyed reading fantasy books, and this one was only slightly different than all of the others I’ve read. It was completely predictable and the romance felt too forced, I would have actually liked the book better had the romance been left out all together, and I’m not normally one to say that, I typically like all of my books to have a few romantical scenes in there, but only if they are written out well. The writing, however, was wonderful and kept you engaged throughout the entire plot. And the story world was one of the best I’ve ever read about, you could tell that the author poured most of his energy into the story world and it greatly benefited from it. Though I do think that the author could have improved on his characters greatly, the story world and Locke’s writing will definitely bring me back for book two! 4 stars out of 5!

“I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own.”

Author Bio

Davis BunnThomas Locke (a pseudonym for Davis Bunn) is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.

His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University. He holds a lifelong passion for epic fantasy, science fiction and techno-thriller stories.

Thomas’s screenplay adaption of EMISSARY is under development as a feature film with a British production company.

Contact Thomas at info@tlocke.com

Link for Purchase:

Amazon

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tot Review: Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles by Carole P. Roman

Fribbet the Frog

The Synopsis:

Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles is another great voyage into problem solving and friendship, as well as an adventurous trip into the imagination.

Join the Captain No Beard and his friends as they learn the value of sharing our troubles with others and that help is always there when we need it.

My Review:

This was such sweet book! The family values presented here as well as the learning experience and use of imagination definitely sold this book for me! The way the siblings talk to one another and the lesson learned at the end, is a fabulous way to bring youngsters together and learn from a good book. The frog’s life-cycle was also nicely illustrated and explained so kiddos get to learn and see what frog’s look like throughout their lives. I liked how the author showed that even though siblings can be bothersome sometimes (*innocent smiley face*) they are worth every minute of their trouble! The only thing that could have made this book better would be the illustrations, I feel that if the illustrations would have been more “crisp” and the colors deeper, the book would have engaged the younger audience better, but I still loved this book (and so did my 2 year old brother!) and I give it 5 out of 5 stars! Recommended to all parents (or siblings) as a fabulous kid’s book!

“I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own.”

Author Bio:

Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher who became a businesswoman. Having grandchildren and sharing stories created a whole new career as an author. Her “Captain No Beard” series has become a hit with young readers as well as their parents. Her debut book, “Captain No Beard-An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life” was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012. “Pepper Parrot’s Problem with Patience” received Five Stars from the ForeWord Reviews – Clarion Review. She lives on Long Island with her family.

Link for Purchase:

Amazon

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Writing Tip #1-Connecting Your Characters To a Good Story

I’ve had several people tell me that I should share some tips on writing for y’all so, I decided to make a “sorta’ series” that I will try to post weekly or biweekly….:-)

Today’s tip is the one that I find to be the most helpful to me when I sit down to write a story for the first time.

Connecting Your Characters to a Good Stroy, is not making your characters a story that you think is best for them. It is letting your characters tell you the story that they want to be in.

Now, that sentence may seem weird to many of you, “How can your character tell you what story they want to be in?”. Well, this DOES NOT work for EVERY writer! It totally depends on how you’ve trained yourself to sit down and write. If you are used to coming up with a story world and then developing characters, then you will find it fairly difficult to reverse the roles and this post really doesn’t apply to you (though that doesn’t mean you have to leave, I’d love it if you stayed!). However, if you are full of wonderful characters and never know what to do about a storyline, then this tip is for you!

In order for me to come up with a story that suits my characters perfectly, I just let them tell me what kind of story that they want to be in! Now, this isn’t like a physical hearing type thing, but those of us who are in touch with our characters and know everything about them, feel like it is physically heard because it’s just so obvious, to a trained mind. Take my Chess stories for example, I never have to sit and think for hours before coming up with a fun new “episode”, I simply let Chess’s personality, past, present, friends, voice, etc., tell me what would next be a fabulous tale. But, this does take lots of concentration and focus at first, however, once you have it mastered, you will be able to do it without thinking about it.

Where do you start? That’s a fabulous question! The first thing is to ask yourself whether you really know your main character or not. If you were introducing him/her to your best friend and your best friend wanted to start a game of 20 questions with your character, would you know enough about your character to answer any question your friend threw at you? This a really good place to start. You should be able to answer pretty much every question about your characters without hesitation before you can accurately “hear” what story that they want to be in.

To “hear” what your characters “tell” you, all you have to do is use what you know about them and turn it into an equation, like the following,

Character’s NAME + PAST + MEMORIES + HOBBIES + (etc.) = the Story WORLD

Once you are confident in knowing your characters, the story-world should just pop right out at you because you will know their past. If you character’s name is Princess Lauraine Kodie (using my character for example), then obviously you know that she is a princess and therefor must have some relationship to a monarchy kingdom. This could be a fantasy kingdom, as in my story, or a real kingdom like England. I also know that Princess Lauraine has wonderful memories of her family, so that determines that she is born into a loving family and that she probably loves her family in return. Her hobbies involve sword fighting, dancing, and anything having to do with her brother, so that determines, that though she is a dainty princess, she is not inclined to stay only within the castle’s walls, meaning she probably loves being outdoors and has some pretty grand adventures.

The equation for determining the actual plot is little trickier:

(Character’s PERSONALITY + FRIENDS + KNOWLEDGE)  x (Writer’s IMAGINATION + TROUBLE-FORMING-SELF) = the Story PLOT

Now, the above helped us discover the story world. But then, how do you come up with a plot? Well, you will have to come up with the plot on your own using that wonderful writer’s imagination, with just a little help from the character’s personality. Again using Princess Lauraine as an example, I know that she has a slightly dramatic personality and has a tendency to lose herself to uncontrollable sobbing when things go terribly wrong. So, something in the plot has to go terribly wrong to show that part of her personality, otherwise, no one will ever see that part of her and it will be irrelevant to even know her personality at all. On the other hand, I also know that she is extremely smart, brave and stubborn, so something has to happen to show this side of her personality as well. Being the trouble-forming author that I am, I decide to take her family from her, showing her hysterical personality, but also using my imagination to give her a chance to redeem them, which shows her other personality attributes.

Once you have both your story WORLD and PLOT, you simply add those two together and the answer is your synopsis (or back of the book description), like the following:

Princess Lauraine had a wonderful family, her parents went to great extents to show her their love by breaking traditions of sending their children away for learning purposes, and her brother would spend endless hours installing his knowledge of the outdoors with her. But all of that changed when The Castle of Tunock, her beloved home, was burned to the ground and her parents killed, by her brother! Now she is fleeing everything she has ever known in order to simply stay alive, but her saviors have other plans; instead of keeping her alive and in hiding, they want her to rise up and defeat her once most beloved friend, Prince Zack, her brother. Should she deny those who care about her and remain hidden, or should she attack her brother and save the kingdom? And, is there a possibility that all is not as it seems, that maybe, just maybe, her brother is not her enemy after all?

Did you see how I used both equations to write that? Once you have the synopsis, then, you start writing chapter one and go until you write the words “the end”!

So, in review, you are using your knowledge of your characters against them and black-mailing them into telling you an awesome story that will make them go through all kinds of troublesome situations but yet, giving them a happily-ever-after (sometimes…..you authors that kill all of your characters are just brutally mean, despite the fact that your stories are the best I’ve ever read! You know who you are!).

I hope that this has helped some of you today and feel free to comment below for any questions or comments!

If you write your plot and world before coming up with your characters, what steps do you take to creating the perfect character for your perfect world?

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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