Monthly Archives: May 2014

Book Review: An Illusion of Trust – by Linda Cassidy Lewis

An Illusion of TrustBook: an illusion of trust
Author: Linda Cassidy Lewis
Publisher: Two-Four-Six Publishing
Date: March 19, 2013
Genre: women’s fiction
Pages: 354
Price: $12.99; less on Kindle
My Rating: an excellent sequel but proudly can stand alone
 

Having read and reviewed The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis I was happy to receive An Illusion of Trust to review as it is the sequel to Linda’s first novel. You can read my review of The Brevity of Roses here.

This story picks up where the first one left off. At the end of the first book, The Brevity of Roses, a new character was introduced, and under the circumstances I was not happy to meet her at first. In An Illusion of Trust she plays a major role. In fact, this story is told from her voice, her perspective, and it was cleverly done.

Renee is young, much younger than the women she now socializes with because of her marriage. Although her wealthy older husband professes to deeply love her, Renee is insecure and suspicious. A few times I was very annoyed with Renee, but I understood her insecurity and lack of confidence. She believes her husband is keeping secrets from her, and there is one woman in their circle whose attention to him adds to her suspicions.

Renee has secrets of her own, a past she doesn’t want known, and people she can’t forgive. Her tormented mind is reaching the breaking point, threatening her marriage, her children’s happiness, her own sanity. Combined with the pressures she feels from her new life – something has got to give. And it does!

An Illusion of Trust is a strongly written novel. Linda Cassidy Lewis is so convincing in her characters, bringing them to life in a very believable way, that it is easy for the reader to get pulled into their lives. This sequel to The Brevity of Roses is definitely not a disappointment. If you did not read The Brevity of Roses it is possible to read An Illusion of Trust and not have trouble following it, even though it is the sequel. Having said that, I would urge you to do yourself a favour and read both books, starting with The Brevity of Roses. Simply for the pleasure of it.

You can find An Illusion of Trust listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

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Book Review: A Dragon’s Work is Never Done – by Stephanie Barrett

A Dragon's Work is Never DoneBook: A Dragon’s Work is Never Done
Author: Stephanie Barrett
Illustrator: Taryn Dufault
Publisher: Stephanie Barrett
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Date: August 28, 2012
Genre: children’s picture book
Pages: 64
Price: under $10 paper; under $3.00 Kindle
My Rating: A delightfully fun story to capture the imagination
 

What a delightful diversion from novel-reading! I enjoy a good picture book, and this one fits the bill.

Six-year-old Alfie is busy playing with his train set one afternoon when his mother interrupted him to come wash his hands and sit at the table to eat his lunch. She had prepared for him a ham and cheese sandwich slathered with mustard, and she warned him to take small bites and chew carefully. But, Alfie took a “great big whopping bite” and … ohhhh … spicy hot! When he took a deep breath of air out came smoke, just like smoke from a dragon’s nostrils, followed by flames when he burped! He had toasted the top of his cheese and ham sandwich!

The author, Stephanie Barrett, built such a fun story from there. The kitchen in which Alfie was sitting changed, with grass and tree branches growing out of everywhere and right up through the ceiling and out the roof. He was sitting in a forest. When Alfie looked up he saw dragons flying across the sky!

Now, what child wouldn’t love to meet a friendly dragon? Even now I think I would love it. But this adventure was for Alfie, and what an exciting adventure he had! He learned to fly, and helped a dragon scare a princess, guard treasure, and many other interesting things. The dragon always received payment from the people he helped, but I won’t dish out that spoiler.  🙂

A Dragon’s Work is Never Done is not the usual 32-page picture book, so it is a little long for young readers but should keep them interested easily. The marvellous illustrations by Taryn Dufault complement the story with wonderful visuals. 

An added highlight is at the end of the book. There is a Florida postal address with an invitation to write to Marty (the dragon) or Alfie. From reviews I’ve read they do send handwritten replies to the children who write to them. Imagine a letter from a dragon; how cool is that!

A Dragon’s Work is Never Done is the first book in the Alfie’s Sandwich Series. Book two has since been released.

You can find A Dragon’s Work is Never Done listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Family fun and birthday surprises

Today was a day of activity … secretive activity.

My husband’s landmark birthday is on Wednesday, but a surprise birthday party was planned for today. He got busy doing yard work at my dad’s this afternoon, which put him out of sight of people going past our house to our daughter’s  where the party was being prepared.

Another daughter arrived and took Dad “for a drive”, and my husband and I went on to do our normal things before going home for my week there. We even ordered Chinese take-out as we usually do on the Sunday ending my week at Dad’s. (I didn’t change our routine because I didn’t want to make him suspicious.) While he was in the restaurant collecting our order, I talked with our daughter on the phone, so when he came out we had our story worked out to get him out there.

As soon as he got back into our vehicle I told him I’d been talking to our daughter and she needs him NOW at her place. Apparently, there is a leaking pipe in her yard (true) that is much worse and not getting any better (false), and she needed his help right away (false). He said to me he would have to get a shovel and his boots, so we stopped at home and left our meal and my puppy, and got his supplies. Fifteen minutes later we were driving down her long driveway. As we drove up over a rise he saw the cars parked in her yard. “What the frig is going on here??!!”, he exclaimed, while stomping on the brake. He looked at me sitting beside him trying to act innocent — and not very well by that time — and started backing up the car! So funny! He was totally bamboozled! It was great!

Sixteen of us were in attendance and oh! the delicious food! We gave him cards, small gifts, and a large one we had gone in on together for him. He kept expressing his amazement over not catching on to it, but I had done nothing to tip him off. Such success! Such fun!

And he deserved it.

Do you have any tales of surprises you have managed to pull off for someone?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 16: Conflicted!

Welcome back! Over the next many months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month sixteen:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 16: Conflicted!

Conflict stands as the quintessential lifeblood of a novel. To pull your readers in and keep them involved in your story, you have to walk a narrow path between too little conflict and too much conflict.

Too little conflict will start your readers yawning. Too much conflict will rend the “veil of disbelief” and pop your readers out of the story. (As in, “Give me a break nobody suffers that much angst over a piece of burnt toast.”)

IMG_0154Toast burned and photographed by Sue.

Let’s simplify by dividing conflict into two broad categories — internal and external. Today, we’ll talk about internal. Next month, we’ll discuss external.

Internal conflict is all about what’s going on inside your character, mentally and emotionally. Internal conflict is vitally important because it builds a bridge between your character and your reader. Readers relate to strong emotions. We all know what it is to love, hate, feel jealous, be afraid, and experience all those other potent feelings. It’s the “do I love him or hate him” anguish of the romance novel (Jane Eyre, right?). It’s the “who am I and why are they trying to kill me” of suspense novels (Jason Bourne). I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

Of course, these emotional connections lead us back to the “show don’t tell” admonitions of so many how-to writing books and articles. Just to remind all of us (including myself) how “show don’t tell” relates to internal conflict, I’ll pull an example from one of my current manuscripts.

This quote is from BONE FIRE, a novel set in ancient Europe. The main character, Rose, has been kidnapped and is traveling North with her abductor. Rose grieves so much for her lost home and family that she would rather be dead than go peacefully with the kidnapper, but she is pregnant, and she wants the baby to live.

Now I could throw the above paragraph — with a few tweaks — into the middle of the novel and be done with the matter, but that won’t create an adequate bond between Rose and my readers.  Instead, in a series of scenes, I illustrate her internal conflict through her actions. Here’s one short example:

“…that part of Rose which lived inside her head traveled back over the trails to the Mother River until she reached her village. There she floated over the deserted houses, looking for Kittle, and the grandmother, and the old man Dat. When she did not find them, she came back to her own body and slept, and in the morning, when Villr [her kidnapper] offered her food, she ate.”

The best internal conflict isn’t only about choices, it’s about choices that carry immense emotional baggage. Your character has to bleed (really or figuratively) no matter what choice he or she makes. Rose’s choice is between death and life, but, if she chooses life, she is choosing to leave behind who she is, who she loves, and all that she knows. If she chooses death, she is also choosing to kill her own unborn baby. Either way, she’s hurting, big time.

Thank goodness that for a novelist, the choice is a bit easier. Choose internal conflict. Choose to pull your reader in with difficult choices and strong emotions.

What’s your main character’s name? What kind of internal conflict does he or she face?

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you come back June 26, 2014, for part 17.

Book Review: The Tipping Point – by Walter Danley

The Tipping Point. Walter DanleyBook: The Tipping Point (A Wainwright Mystery)
Author: Walter Danley
Publisher: Marble Arch Communications
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Date: 1st edition December 9, 2013, 2nd edition May 15, 2014
Genre: mystery thriller; crime mystery
Pages: 354
Price: $13.78 but can be found for much less
My Rating: a crime mystery full of twists and intrigue to keep the reader hooked
 
 

* Before the book was in its finished state, I received the ARC of the second edition of The Tipping Point to review; therefore, my comments are based on the unpolished product. *

Debut novel, The Tipping Point by Walter Danley, begins with murder and continues from there with corporate greed, intrigue, conspiracy, suspense, and more. There are many questions that come up which the reader will want answered before reaching the last page. Even though there were a few contradictions in the story, sidetracks and extra information that drew the reader away from the main story, and times when it was hard to follow who was speaking, the main thread carried through. It was set in the 1970’s, so the reader may find some subtle sexism that seems to be accepted by the characters.

Instead of my dwelling on the problems with the editing of this story, and inconsistencies which I hope have been corrected in the final edits, I would suggest – if you enjoy a novel such as I described in the first sentence of the above paragraph – you give this book, The Tipping Point, a try. 

You will meet Wainwright, who, after one of his partners is murdered, tries to uncover the corrupt undercurrent he discovers that prevails in their multimillion-dollar company. There are more deaths, threats, fraudulent dealings, love affairs, an illusive hit-man, and many well-developed characters to follow through it all.

The Tipping Point is not a straightforward tale, but one that is tangled and interesting to read. It is fast-paced where needed, and dramatic. Even with my habit of noticing flaws as I read, this was a story I wanted to follow to the end. I’m usually a good guesser at ‘whodunit’, but this one kept me guessing as to whom was behind the murders and conspiracy.

Readers will be satisfied with the ending Walter Danley wrote to The Tipping Point. Because of his fans’ requests, the author is working on a sequel. 

Visit Walter Danley’s website to view the trailer for The Tipping Point.

You can find The Tipping Point listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

When we need Encouragement

I don’t know about you but I get weary. When I get weary the negativity creeps in, which should not be the case. Nothing has changed except my energy level and attitude. The situation has not changed, God has not changed, and my attitude changes nothing … at least not in a good way.

Negative begets negative. 

When I get home from my week at my dad’s I just can’t face doing an effective job of my own housework. (Sad admission there.) But … this past week I was blessed to receive help from my youngest daughter who has time off work. She spent a few hours each day helping me clean my house, because it had become overwhelming for me. We went room by room, even decluttering a few things, and still have much to do. I knew it had become a weight on me, but after just the first room was done … I felt lighter! Really! I am excited to see how good it feels being in my house once it is all done. Most of my houseplants even got repotted and freshened up, but what do I do with the plants I no longer want?

Encouragement.

There are a few quotes I like that are encouraging with regard to what I said above.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris   (That one helps with decluttering.)

“The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.” – Yutang Lin  (It seems this is basically saying to live within one’s means, and don’t accumulate things just for the sake of having them. As Paul of the Bible says: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11 (KJV)  This is something I am still working on.)

“The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.” – Samuel Butler  (We really do take ourselves too seriously. I need to allow myself to laugh more and relax about things. When feeling it all is too much, be honest and admit it’s never as bad as it seems, so just wait a little longer; it will get better. These words, “Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle,” have helped me more than once. )

And if all else fails, lose yourself in a good book (or THE Good Book, The Bible) for awhile. Your life will still be there when you get back, but dealing with it just may be easier.

Yesterday I finished reading another novel which I will be reviewing soon. I hope you enjoy reading reviews. Eventually, my list will have dwindled down so that I might be able to get back into my own writing.

Also, I hope you sometimes check the menu at the top of the page. When I add things I don’t always make mention, so look particularly under Book reviews, Books I read this year, quotes for writers, writers’ helps

Today was a gorgeous day – hot, sunny, with a bit of a breeze. The blackflies loved me. (Tiny pesky little flies with big teeth, I think!) The good thing – it’s Spring! and … I must be sweet; I have lots of bite marks to prove it.   :/

Here is a clip of one of the best Spring sounds – peepers! You know, those tiny frogs that are a sign of Spring. I love to listen to them at home, their delightful peeping relaxes my soul. Interesting facts: The peepers that sing are the males enticing females; peepers live three years in the wild and grow to only 2.5 cm (1 inch).

Now I must stop scratching those bites I mentioned and start writing a review. Blessings to you and have a great week!

What have you found to be of encouragement to you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: Chasing Mona Lisa – by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey

Chasing Mona LisaBook: Chasing Mona Lisa
Author (s): Tricia Goyer, Mike Yorkey
Publisher: Revell
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Date: January 1, 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Pages: 337
Price: Kindle list price $15, available for much less
My Rating: a fast-paced exciting read
 

If you don’t know much about the Second World War, or even if you do, Chasing Mona Lisa will present to you a different slant on how things were. Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey take the reader into the drama and danger of the time when Nazi Germany was overpowering Europe and laying claim to all the wealth they wanted.

Hitler’s Germany had overrun France, and some over-zealous prominent military officials were determined to add to their private collections as much valued artwork as they could.

We meet the famous Louvre’s curator who is responsible for priceless art treasures sought by the above-mentioned officials. We also meet spies, a few members of the Resistance group determined to get their country – and their country’s art treasures – back, some other interesting characters who round out the story, and a convincing glimpse into World War II.

Chasing Mona Lisa holds the reader’s interest from the beginning to the end. It is impossible to tell who of the two authors, Tricia Goyer or Mike Yorkey,  wrote which part. It is a well-delivered story, full of tension, excitement, faith, hope, drama, intrigue, suspense, and there are history lessons to be learned amid the fiction built around the facts. The reader gets drawn into a time of war, and introduced to situations where there is theft, kidnapping, a little romance, deception, blackmail, and more.

I found Chasing Mona Lisa to be a  fast-paced book, one I was eager to pick up again after short periods away from my reading. I had to know what was going to happen next! And my guess is you will, too. 🙂

You can find Chasing Mona Lisa listed on BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂