Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review - In Too Deep by Tracey Alvarez

This was a nice first romance book. I liked that it took place in New Zealand which is not a local I read about often. The details on diving were interesting and the sex was steamy. I liked the secondary characters but I thought it took a little too long to reveal the reasons for the angst of two main characters. Piper was a mess and not very nice for the first half of the book and I didn't get West at all. Maybe it was me but I thought he was a jerk until the big reveal about his attitude towards loss that came at the very end of the book - then he kind of made more sense. But it was a very satisfactory read and I'd recommend it. I was given this book for an honest review.

Link to Amazon

Book Review: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

The Word Exchange takes place in a world where people are using their handheld devices (they're called Memes) almost exclusively and books and the written word are disappearing. Memes communicate and with an implant can help you react to what's going on around you, hailing a taxi or finding specific words for you. Ana works for her father Doug who runs one of the last printers. They are currently printing a dictionary (NADEL) but Doug disappears. With his assistant Bart (who's in love with Ana) Anana (she's called both) attempts to find her father. The search is complicated when people start coming down with aphasia or word flu. They lose the ability to think or speak words and eventually die.
The concept is clever and I felt I should have liked this book more than I actually did. For one thing there seemed to be a need to actually use every word in a dictionary as part of the story. I found myself looking up words, but lost that battle when the word flu struck. The author brilliantly starts using imaginary words to illustrate the word flu, sort of like the poem Jabberwocky (Alice in Wonderland is a theme throughout the book). This makes sentences harder to understand but at the same time illustrates the terror the person with aphasia is going through.
The story is slow in parts and I didn't like the footnotes or other literary devices that seemed too cute. The story is told through the POV's of Ana and Bart (he uses a journal). I happened to like Bart better as Ana was a little too much a stereotypical dizzy blonde at times. But the idea that the Luddites are the heroes is attractive and it is a book worth reading. I received this as an ARC for an honest review.

Link to Amazon

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Vacation in the Oxford Hills - Fairs Edition

Spinning angora from the rabbit on her lap

In The Black Swans Taisie and Conn meet for the first time at a fair. Maine is known for its summer fairs. There is a fair every weekend in some part of the state and crowds of people head to them for fun days of rides, food, agricultural exhibits, and horse racing. The fair season culminates every year in the Oxford Hills at the Fryeburg Fair, maybe the biggest one of them all.

Trying the rockers
Over the years I've been to most of these fairs. The fair in the book is an amalgamation of these, but the fair most like that in the book is the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)'s Common Ground Fair held on the third weekend in September. It is my very favorite fair. The food is fantastic although if you want a coffee or caffeinated drink you're out of luck - the food is all natural and delicious. There is every type of food you can imagine: Indian, turkey legs, pie, gyros, and so on. There are exhibits over the three days ranging from sheep herding to building a sustainable community to choosing the right fleece. The classes and lectures are great. There's entertainment for everyone with many artists, craftsmen, and musicians. There's a separate childrens area where they can play games and do crafts. There are no rides excepting some horse-drawn wagons, but I don't think anyone misses them at all.

Cross Pollination
Pictures all from 2014 Common Ground Fair

Maine fair schedule  -

Bean Hole Beans are the best

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Guest Blog from Sarah Ashwood, author of Aerisia series

If You Want to Be a Writer, Be a Reader

They’re a rare breed, but they are out there—writers who aren’t readers. I know a few who aren’t, but the majority are. Why is this noteworthy? Because I believe most writers are like me: their desire to write is born from a deep love of reading. The stories you read translate into other characters and stories in your head. I’m not saying you steal the stories you read; rather, you let them inspire you. Reading is my most faithful muse: always has been. I read a story set in Medieval Scotland, perhaps, and I begin to wonder what it would be like to live in Medieval Scotland. How would I handle this or that? How would I do this or that? Oftentimes, the wondering becomes my next story, and that’s the beauty of inspiration.
Now, for me, even though I love historical fiction (it’s my other favorite genre to read and write), as a fantasy author, my interest in Medieval Scotland may very well transform itself into a fantasy character or world based off Medieval Scotland. Which is what I love about fantasy. You can take a setting, a theme, an occupation, or historical time period that’s been done a lot in historical fiction, tweak it with your “magic touch,” and rework it into something new, exciting, and fresh in the fantasy world. You aren’t required to stick to facts—fantasy is great like that.
 Reading is a never ending source of creative stimulation, and, to that end, I’d advise reading multiple genres. Read history, read science, read fantasy, read science fiction, read romance, read Young Adult, read biographies. I guarantee you, if you’re a serious writer, you will probably learn something (even if it’s what to avoid) from every single book you read. As someone who enjoys romance and the occasional romance novel, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like to read (and, thus, write) when it comes to romance. What I don’t like is the super-hot-gorgeous man and woman who take one look at each other and instantly fall madly in love. Way overdone, in my humble opinion. What I do like is two people who may or may not be terribly attractive, but who have to deal with realistic misunderstandings and resolve authentic conflicts. I like a bit of reality in my romance, whether it’s in a fantasy novel or not. You may not agree with me; you don’t have to. Nevertheless, extensive reading will definitely help shape your perceptions of what you think works and doesn’t work in a novel.
Another thing reading does for the writer is actually help teach you to write. If you pay attention to the work of published writers, it will aid you in comprehending and defining the basics of sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, etc., as well as world building, plot, storyline, and character development. Isn’t a demonstration usually a great way to learn? Then, if you want to be a writer, read—because you’re going to have all of these important facets of writing and storytelling demonstrated before your eyes.

In short, if you want to be a writer, don’t skip this first, important step. If you want to be a writer, be a reader.

The mystery of other worlds is not one Hannah Winters ever thought she’d solve. However, the day she spots a brown-robed stranger with a magical staff in a neighbor’s field is the day she also discovers Aerisia, a magical land beyond Earth’s sunset. 

Here in Aerisia, Hannah is believed to be the Artan, a legendary heroine prophesied to deliver Aerisia from the Dark Powers. Plenty of people, including the Simathe, a race of immortal warriors, and the Moonkind, people of the Moon, are willing to help her discover her true identity, but Hannah’s just an ordinary girl from Earth. She doesn't have any latent magical abilities and she’s not the Artan. However, her allies aren't seeing it that way. Neither are her enemies. In fact, Hannah’s life is in jeopardy nearly from the moment she arrives in Aerisia. And becoming the Artan may be the only way to survive…

You can find links to buy her books here:

BIO: A genuine "Okie from Muskogee," Sarah Ashwood grew up in the wooded hills outside the oldest town in Oklahoma. Former co-editor of the webzines "Moon Drenched Fables" and "Moon Washed Kisses," Sarah is author of the Sunset Lands Beyond Trilogy. She is also author of the poetry volume "A Minstrel's Musings" and the fantasy novella "Amana," along with numerous other published works. In her imagination, she soars effortlessly through historical and fantastical worlds. In real life, she lives (mostly) quietly at home with her husband and sons. Find Sarah on her Sarah Ashwood Facebook author page, on her Sarah Ashwood Goodreads page, on Instagram where she goes by @runnerwritermom, or on Twitter under the handle @1sarahashwood.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trad Tuesday - The King's Shilling by Karan Casey and James Taylor

The King's Shilling is not a traditional song in that it was written by Ian Sinclair in the 1970's, but it certainly sounds like one. The lyrics are about young men who are talked into joining the military (taking the King's shilling) by quick talking recruiters. The lyrics are from the point of view of those left behind.

Oh, my love has left me wi bairnies twa
An that's the last o him I ever saw
He joined the army and he mairched tae war
He took the shilling, he took the shilling,
An he mairched tae war
Come laddies, come
Hear the cannon roar,
Tak the King's Shilling,
An we're aff tae war

Karan Casey has sung with many people, notably the Irish band Solas and with her husband, concertina player Niall Vallely. I've seen her sing with Solas and I was lucky to catch her solo in Dublin the last time I was in Ireland. Here she joins with James Taylor and her husband for this weeks Trad Tuesday.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Indie Author Spotlight: Scales by Pauline Creeden

Today is release day for Scales, the new novel 
by award-winning author Pauline Creeden

About the book:
A Falling in Deep Collection novella
by Pauline Creeden
Release date: May 23, 2015


Verona is a bottom feeder. She is the one mer in her clan who is considered the ugliest and least intelligent. Growing up with the constant bullying and abuse wasn’t the worst of what her kind had in store for her. At seventeen years old, she must now endure “The Reckoning.”

The scales will measure her worth to her clan. Will she endure thirty days as a land-walker to gather information and knowledge to appease her clan and return a valued member? Will she wait three years, until she is twenty, and find a mer of her kind to accept her and marry her? Or will she suffer exile for the rest of her life?

TO KEEP FROM SCREAMING, I bite hard on my lip. The copper mixture of blood and saltwater mingles on my tongue. Mer claws rake against my back. The barnacles on the post to which I’m tied stab me in the chest. Pain sets my body on fire. Everything burns. I squeeze my eyes shut tight and keep my silence.
“Bottom Feeder.”
Each word cuts as deep in my flesh as the physical wounds my clan inflicts. It can’t last long. I can endure this. As soon as the sharks catch scent of my blood they will come, and the Mer will scatter.
The world spins around me like a whirlpool. My breaths come quick and shallow, my heart pounds faster in my ears. Each second is an eternity, until I realize fresh wounds are not adding to the burning in my skin.
The elder’s sharp tongue whispers in my ear. “Now you will be measured.”
My wrists fall free of the post as he cuts the ties.
Exile. My Reckoning has begun.

About the Author:
Pauline Creeden is an award-winning author, horse trainer, and overall book ninja. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long. Her debut novel, Sanctuary, won 1st Place Christian YA Title 2013 Dante Rosetti Award and 2014 Gold Award for First Place YA Horror Novel.
Stalker Links: