Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Book Review: Songbird Under a German Moon – by Tricia Goyer

Songbird Under a German MoonBook: Songbird Under a German Moon
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Summerside
Date: June 13, 2011
Genre: Christian romance; historical fiction
Pages: 320
Price: Kindle $7.77
My Rating: dramatic fiction to interest romance readers

 

Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer is set in the post WWII years in Germany. The story begins in a noisy twin engine airplane that is transporting Betty – a twenty-year-old singer – with several soldiers on their way to Germany,  but already there is drama. The plane is having engine trouble and must try to make a safe emergency landing in Nuremberg, Germany.

In Bayreuth, Germany, there is a famous opera house – Festspielhaus – where Hitler was said to enjoy operas, especially those of Richard Wagner. This opera house is where the musical entertainment is being performed for the soldiers, not far from the house where Hitler had sometimes stayed and where the ladies are now living between performances. But there is something creepy about that war damaged building, something unsettling.

When Betty, and Frank, a photographer for the military, first see one another romance is soon in the air. But Frank is not all he appears to be; he has a secret. He is not the only one with a secret, though, and when there is a murder those secrets start being revealed. Realizing her life may be in danger, Betty thinks she can trust Frank to help her.

Some scenes seemed a little stilted in this story, perhaps a bit unrealistic when dealing with human emotions in relationships, but the drama pulls one’s attention in another direction. It was easy to get interested in Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer. 

Interesting facts, around which Songbird Under a German Moon was written,  about Festspielhaus opera house, Wahnfried house, and Richard Wagner can be found on the Internet.

If you enjoy historical fiction with romance and a Christian flavour this may be the book for you. You can get a history lesson at the same time!

You can find Songbird Under a German Moon listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Cape Maybe – by Carol Fragale Brill

Cape Maybe by Carol BrillBook: Cape Maybe
Author: Carol Fragale Brill
Publisher: Brilliant Beach Books
Date: October 26, 2013
Genre: women’s fiction
Pages: 354
Price: $12.99; Kindle under $3.00
 
My Rating: true-to-life story that keeps the pages turning
 

I received a copy of Cape Maybe through an offer by the author, with the expectation of a review.

At the time of this writing, I finished reading Cape Maybe by Carol Fragale Brill about an hour ago. OH MY GOSH! Talk about getting into a story!

This novel begins with the young main character, Katie, arriving home from school to find a not-so-good situation involving her alcoholic mother. Immediately, the reader is rooting for Katie, annoyed with but hoping for her mother, sympathizing with her grandfather.

I have to tell you, there were parts of this story that were a little hard to read because of the honesty portrayed. The rawness of human emotion and reactions was so very well presented that I felt a range of my own emotions as I followed Katie through several years of her life. I should say, her difficult growing up years – the shame, the mistakes, the secrets, the lies, the promises, the denial, the anger, the tears, the discoveries, the regrets … but Cape Maybe is a story not only of the struggle but also one of love and hope. It is a story that won’t let you go, has to be heard, and doesn’t disappoint.

Katie’s mother stubbornly clings to her addiction after many failed attempts at sobriety. Although hating what it did to her mother, Katie feels the pull toward alcohol, and at a young age begins the slow tumble down that dark tunnel. It is a story I’m sure many can relate to from one side of the experience or the other – meaning, as one caught or as someone loving the one caught. And it is a story that carries the reader on the bumpy ride of Katie’s struggle, not letting go until the very last page. Even then, the characters linger in one’s mind.

When I reached that last page, I admit, tears welled up in my eyes. And I wanted more even though it was so fitting an ending. It was so well done I really felt that I didn’t want to go home from there!

There are other things I would like to share about Cape Maybe by Carol Fragale Brill, but I don’t want to have to issue a spoiler alert.  😉  You are going to have to get your own copy to find out. I’m sure you won’t regret it. 

You can find Cape Maybe listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Book Review: Operation Bonnet: a novel – by Kimberly Stuart

Operation BonnetBook: Operation Bonnet
Author: Kimberly Stuart
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: February 1, 2011
Genre: comedic fiction
Pages: 266
Price: $14.99
My Rating: An enjoyable read with tasteful humour; not totally predictable.
 

I won this book from somewhere, I think perhaps on Twitter.

This is the first Kimberly Stuart book I have read, and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure if a book written about the Amish community would hold my interest, but it certainly did. It isn’t even all about the Amish, but gives some insight into that lifestyle, while also following the main character in her own life in the mainstream community.

Operation Bonnet is about a young woman, Nellie, who wants to be a private investigator, but living in a small community she can find no one needing a PI. That is, until she meets Amos, a young man who, of his own accord, left the nearby Amish community and the girl he loves. He is forbidden to visit so hires Nellie to spy for him. To do that Nellie has to somehow infiltrate the strict community, so she pulls some trickery in order to get herself into the home and kitchen of the feared and respected matriarch of that community. It’s a nerve-racking experience for Nellie, for although she is quite good at keeping up in the kitchen (she loves to cook) she has trouble keeping out of trouble.

Even though Nellie is trying to help another in the romantic front, her own heart is tried because of her best friend, the guy with whom she grew up. As smart as she is she just doesn’t see what is happening in her own relationships.

What added another interesting dimension to this story, for me, is the fact that Nellie is trying to take care of her aunt who has dementia and resists allowing her parents to place her aunt in a home.

I don’t want to tell you anymore about the story because it is worth your reading it yourself. Kimberly Stuart writes with humour and heart, creating believable characters and realistic dialogue that I think you will enjoy in Operation Bonnet.

You can find Operation Bonnet listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Interview with Carol White & Book Giveaway

 

It’s time for an author interview!

I’m happy to introduce Carol White, author of the adult fiction novel From One Place to Another. If you missed my October 13 review of her book you can read it here

 

Carol, welcome to my blog! Of course, you are no stranger here; I’m pleased to know you are a reader of my blog. Also, you won one of the books I offered here. 🙂
Would you please begin by telling us a little about yourself?

 

Thanks so much for this interview, and for your in-depth review of my latest book, “From One Place to Another.” I began to read your blog when I saw that Delia Ephron was your guest, and I ended up winning “The Lion is In.” Since then, I’ve been a steady follower. I live in beautiful Delray Beach, Florida and I’ve been writing fiction, plays, poetry and articles for about 12 years. I also do a lot of volunteer work in the community, which keeps me grounded.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?

 

In school I was always considered a good creative writer, and have also been interested in theatre since junior high. I didn’t take my writing abilities seriously until I enrolled in a 12 week workshop based on “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, a wonderful jumpstart to discovering your creativity. Anna Lisa Curtis was the leader and I have her to thank for helping me develop my career.

 

I’ve considered looking into The Artist’s Way, perhaps I should.  As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books?

 

I read all the time and usually have two books going at once, one on my Kindle and the other in print. I enjoy contemporary fiction, essays and some biographies. Authors I like? Well, Jonathan Tropper comes to mind because I just finished his latest book. Susan Isaacs, ALL of the Ephron sisters, Jennifer Weiner, John Grisham and Emily Giffin are some of my favorites, and for essays, David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Calvin Trillin and the late, great Nora Ephron.

 

Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?

 

After completing The Artist’s Way course, I called myself a writer. I do feel like giving up at times because the publishing field has gotten so competitive, but I have enough fans who insist that I keep writing. Even a small base can keep you motivated.

 

Do you have a motto or Bible verse or quote that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?

This may sound insignificant, but I relate to the song, “So You Had a Bad Day.” That kind of keeps things in perspective and reminds me to count my blessings! I also use the sticky note program on my laptop to keep words of encouragement in plain sight “Be healthy, exercise, give thanks, etc.” I pop those notes up on the screen several times a day and add more if I feel something is lacking.

 

I believe if something is useful it is not insignificant, and those pc sticky notes are wonderful things.  🙂  What do you remember about your very first time to be published, how did that happen?

I remember it exactly. I had written a children’s story, The Dinosaur’s Computer Shop and entered it into a contest given by a St. Louis publication, which is now out of print. I won first prize and received a check for $100.00. The story was published on page one of their paper. It was the best $100.00 ever.

What great encouragement that must have been! Do you mind mentioning some of what you have written or contributed to thus far? Of what you have had published what means the most to you? Of those, what do or did you most enjoy writing?

I’ve had a lot of short fiction published by The East Hampton Star Newspaper and the now defunct Writers Journal, several articles in The Sun Sentinel Newspaper, and columns in various magazines and newsletters such as Insight for Playwrights, Working Writers and The Florida Writer. Two of my plays have won major awards and that was pretty exciting. I think whatever project I’m working on becomes my favorite, but seeing my first novel, “Hidden Choices,” in print was exhilarating.  

What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?

I keep files in my computer of titles I like, i.e., good phrases for writing, and notes for new stories. I’ve also started to use index cards when plotting out a novel, which helps keep my characters straight. There are times I can’t see my dining room table because it’s covered with cards! 

What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?

Once I get going, I pretty much work 8-10 hours a day. When the first draft is finished, I start in with rewriting. The process can take several months. Before I send anything to my editor, I give it to my reader who happens to be my best friend and target audience. She gets back to me with notes, sometimes brutal, but always honest and her input has been invaluable.

What a blessing to have a friend like that! What inspired you to write From One Place to Another?

The novel started as two short stories I wrote years ago when I lived in a country club in Boca Raton. I also worked for a caterer at that time, so was able to create the story using true-to-life experiences, of course greatly exaggerated. 

It’s good to know it is greatly exaggerated. 🙂 How long did it take you to write From One Place to Another? Did you have to do any research? And how did you come up with that title?

 

Because I already knew the beginning and end of the book, I just had to fill in the middle and add more characters. Once I got going it didn’t take more than a couple of months to put it together as a novel. I did research on some of the local places I mention in the book in southeast Florida, and called others in North Carolina for information. I liked the cadence of the title, and it also represents the geographic and personal journey of the protagonist.

 

Did you write a little of yourself into any of the characters? Do you have a favourite?

There is a lot of food mentioned in the book. I’ve always had a huge interest in cooking and enjoy entertaining in my home, but similarities to the protagonist, Dina Marshall, stop there. I love Gabriela as a character because she is the antagonist and adds a good dose of spice to the book…the villain you love to hate! 
 
Why did you decide to include some crude language? Was it simply a natural fit with the characters?

Much of today’s contemporary fiction includes cursing. I felt I kept mine to a minimum, but in some places it was absolutely necessary. When Dina’s husband leaves her (and you find that out on page one so no spoiler alert needed) she indeed uses some foul language when relating the story to her best friend. Because I speak aloud as I type, I actually become my characters, so if they’re angry – I’m angry…and if they curse, it’s because I believe it’s what they would do in that situation. 

How did/do you go about finding a publisher? an editor? Do you have an agent?

For my first book, I used a large print-on-demand company. They did a good job in certain areas, but fell down in others. My second book was published by Trimark Press, a hybrid company, where you pay for certain services, but receive a lot of personal attention. I was fortunate that they had a spectacular house editor, Penelope Love, and we worked very well together. I haven’t looked for an agent, but I may try once my next book is completed. I’d like to mention that my books are available in both print and ebooks on Amazon, etc. Readers may also order the book directly from me at a greatly reduced cost. 

Oh, very interesting.  How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals? daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?

 

I work on something every week, but not daily. I go in spurts. I wish I could be more disciplined, but that only happens when I get the urge. 

What other interests do you have for a change from writing?

 

I belong to several writing organizations including the National League of American Pen Women and act as their Letters Chair, which means I do a lot of event planning for our writers. I am fortunate to have many friends in the area, so there’s never a loss of fun things to do. I belong to a book club, and attend a lot of local cultural events. I was the executive producer for a local theatre company for almost a decade, and am now getting back into that. 

You lead a busy and creative-inspiring life. Do you have another project in the works?

 

I have several! I’m working on two plays and two novels. One novel is a book of short stories, most of which have previously been published, and I really just have to put it together. The other is a mystery that takes place in Delray Beach, Florida. 

Finally, is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be? Do you have any advice for hopefuls?

 

To be a writer in today’s day and age, you must push yourself. Here is what has worked for me. Get known in your community and form relationships with libraries, book stores, etc. Submit articles to your local newspaper. Write a newsletter for your community. Enter contests from magazines or blogs to see if you get results. Contests are great because you become familiar with deadlines and word counts. If you write children’s stories, offer to read in libraries and after-school programs. Join writers groups and see if there is a critique group that suits your needs. Give workshops in an area you’re skilled in. Offer to read poetry in nursing homes and independent living communities. Join a book club. Go to book signings where you’ll meet authors and have the opportunity to ask questions. Writing is such a solitary career that we love to talk to people! READ as much as you write. Subscribe to a writer’s magazine to keep current, and read blogs such as yours!

Thank you, Carol, for a very interesting interview. You gave quite a list of suggestions there, great ideas – specifically that last tip. 😉

Now, my friends, as Carol mentioned, you can purchase her book through Amazon, or you can buy directly from her at a lower price. She can be found on Facebook: www.carolwhitefiction.com and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/polowhite 

Do you live in Canada or the USA and would like the chance to win a free copy of Carol White’s newest book – From One Place to Another? If so, please leave a comment here and tell us what you gleaned as helpful from this interview.  Tuesday, October 23, at about 7:oo PM EST, one name will be drawn from the basket, so get your comment in! Once the winner responds to my email the winner’s first name will be posted here on my blog and Carol will be notified so she can get a copy to that person. Sound good? 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

PS: Leave a comment and remember to check your emails on Tuesday evening.

Book Review: From One Place to Another – by Carol White

Book: From One Place to Another
Author: Carol White
Publisher: TriMark Press, Inc
Date: May 10, 2012
Genre: contemporary women’s fiction
Pages: 298, paperback
Price: $17.95; less on Kindle
My rating: An enjoyable modern tale of mishaps and mayhem in the life of a woman trying to succeed
 

I received this book from the author to read and review. It seemed that it would be quite different from what I usually read, and I was not in error on that point.

Carol White writes with confidence, which is obvious by the way she tackles the dialogue and personalities she created. In From One Place to Another she throws open a door into the elaborate, wealthy lifestyle of a country club in Boca Raton, Florida, at which her main character half-heartedly thumbs her nose.

Dina Marshall knew she was a very good cook. In order to help her husband build his business, she became immersed in creating gourmet dinners in their home to attract clients. It was working well until the evening she and her husband were dining out on her thirty-sixth birthday. Mark delivered news that would totally change her life — he was leaving her for a younger woman – that day. This was a complete shock to Dina who thought they were moving forward together in life. And how could he on her birthday?!

Carol White captured well the roller-coaster ride of a jilted woman’s emotions. Dina tried all she could to get her husband back, was drawn into other circumstances and relationships, waited expectantly when she learned all was not as her estranged husband thought it would be in his new life. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the story for you.) In the meantime, she developed her own catering business in order to keep up the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed, but also to impress her husband while waiting for him to come to his senses.

That last point is the main focus of From One Place to Another. It was written with descriptions of the exotic food and elaborate meals Dina prepared, the craziness that ensued, and the hilarity of the best laid plans gone wrong. One thing that Dina does is make lists, and – good or bad – she makes lists all through this crisis time in her life.

I must mention that bad language is used in several places, and there is also a thread of heated romance throughout the story.

Although I was appalled at the behaviour and habits of some of the people for whom Dina catered, I enjoyed this book. Actually, I was appalled at some of Dina’s behaviour and I grew to not like her very much. Perhaps, given the set of circumstances she was dealt, her actions and reactions are understandable, but the comical, tragic turn of events that befell her biggest, most important catering job seemed justified. The author told it well, winding humour in and around as the tension built. Dina’s spirited attitude made for entertaining reading that kept drawing me back until I finished the book. (My reading time is rarely uninterrupted.)

Carol White wrote From One Place to Another in a way that pulled this reader into the very room where each scene unfolded, making it not simply an act of reading the words but with a sense of being there. I like that.

You can find One Place to Another listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

Book Review: The Brevity of Roses – by Linda Cassidy Lewis

Book: The Brevity of Roses
Author: Linda Cassidy Lewis
Publisher: Two-Four-Six Publishing
Date: April 2, 2011
Genre: Women’s fiction
Pages: 362
Price: $13.55 paperback; $3.99 on Kindle
My Rating: A satisfying story that pulls the reader in and doesn’t let her/him go.
 

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Oh my! When I finished reading The Brevity of Roses I felt as if I had spent an enjoyable afternoon viewing a delectable movie! Even yet, several days later, I woke one morning with that sense of having just been there.

This story pulled me in from the beginning and held me till the end. Linda Cassidy Lewis’ characters come across as genuine with their human struggles – emotional pain, loss, fear, tenderness, misunderstanding, desire, avoidance, family strife, anger, hope, love, and I may have missed mentioning a few. The romantic scenes are well-written, not explicit or over the top. There is some cursing in the story, mostly the ‘f’ word, but it was not out-of-place as you get to know the characters, and I could get past it after the first couple of times. It is not excessive and did not detract from the story at all.

There are three main characters: Meredith I liked, even though the turn of events surrounding her shocked and disappointed/saddened me. Jalal I grew to like; I wanted to follow him closely throughout the book because he was intriguing, although I wanted him to stop being stubborn about his relationship with his father and be mature about it so he could gain perspective for his life. Renee I didn’t appreciate at first – when she showed up where it seemed she shouldn’t be – but then the situation is clarified and she grew on me.

The other characters intertwining around the main ones add so much to the story and help make it well-rounded, believable, down-to-earth. Conversations are natural and easily understood, as if the reader is standing in the room listening in.

A lovely strength in The Brevity of Roses is the importance of family, food, and traditions, with cultural differences finding their place, their blend, in the preparation of meals and recipes – whether for two or twenty.

There is so much that makes this fiction seem like the true story of a few people, but I cannot say more about it or I will give too much away. If you enjoy romance novels that are not x-rated, and real-to-life women’s fiction, you will probably really enjoy this one.

Linda Cassidy Lewis delivered a debut novel that satisfies and also left this reader-reviewer hoping for more from this talented author.

You can find The Brevity of Roses listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!

Book Review: Secret Daughter – by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Book: Secret Daughter  (A Novel)
Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Publisher: William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers
Date: March 9, 2011; paperback April 5, 2012
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Pages: 356, paperback
Price: $13.99; less on Kindle
My rating: An extraordinary read, very convincing, with an ending that is both satisfying and disturbing.
 
 

I won this book, probably on Twitter, and promptly added it to my huge TBR (to be read) pile.  Had I known what I was in for I would not have waited so long to read Secret Daughter. Oh my!

Canadian first-time author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a compelling story that had me from the beginning. Born in Toronto, Canada, to parents from Bombay, India, she had insight and good understanding of both cultures. She mostly told the story from the perspective of three women – the adopted daughter, the adoptive mother and the birth mother. It was involved and interesting and hard to put down once I started reading.

I don’t want to give away too much and spoil it for you, but for anyone who has adopted from another country, or is thinking about it, this book gives a different view of some of the things to take into consideration.

The characters are well-developed, their life situations are convincing and detailed, and the reader gets to share in the story of their lives over a span of twenty-five years. It was easy to care about them. In fact, I experienced a range of emotions as I read this international bestseller.

I liked how the author headed her chapters with not only the title, but also the location, date, and name of the person the reader was visiting in that chapter. Each chapter is only a few pages long which made it easy to read when having only a few minutes. It also helped the reader get oriented right from the start and occasionally helped the author step over a span of several years to move along in the story. It was well done.

The only thing I did not like is the way the author chose to end this novel, although it is quite believable the way it happened. Obviously the ending did not interfere with the book’s success. Even so, if you are one who likes to read the end of a book first … in this case DON’T!  Please, do yourself the favour of not peeking. It is well worth the wait.

There has been criticism that the author ignored or changed some things about the culture of India to fit her story, but I don’t agree. In a couple of places I had questions, too, but since I have never studied their culture nor have I visited that country, I accepted that perhaps it was something that is changing there with the times. I believed the author would know that, so I didn’t let my lack of information get in the way of a great read.

Originally, this is not a book I planned to review, but having experienced it I wanted to introduce it to you to add to your TBR list. You won’t be disappointed.

You can find Secret Daughter listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂