Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Porcelain Keys

Porcelain Keys, a lyrical debut novel by Ms. Beard, introduces us to the world of Aria, a musician who cannot play, and her relationship with Thomas, a man who cannot live, but has yet to find the means to die. They build together a means of recapturing themselves, of being human and whole, but one night shatters the fragile connection.

Picking up pieces of something intangible as one’s soul, Aria begins with the pursuit of her music. Through her fingers, she can speak what cannot be expressed in words, except that what she unleashes is hard to stopper up once the final notes fade away. Thus forced to qualm the healing effects of her music, friends – and a new relationship with fellow musician Devin – step in to offer her the guidance, love, and warmth that, like mortar, give her the strength to build again.

The sudden reappearance of Thomas in Aria’s home threatens to knock her walls down, sending what little semblance of balance and healing she has achieved tumbling into a place that cannot be recovered.

Will Thomas prove her true love and mortar? Can she be his healing force, offering him a means to live once more? Or are some things like Humpty-Dumpty, and too broken to piece together again?

A gorgeous sweet romance, Porcelain Keys has clean, tender love scenes that could work in Christian Fiction; the range of love encompasses the romantic, the familial, and the divine, though there are no outward references to scripture or anything that would confine the heart of that divine love to any one religion or God.

Ms. Beard is a musician, and reading her is something like listening to classical music. The words rise, sway, plummet, dance, evoking emotions and truths beyond what mere words, in combination, can. It was very hard to put her book down and, long after I had finished reading, the echoes of her refrains stayed with me.

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Last year, around this time, I learned that authors are expected to do a lot of their own marketing. As a shy person, this went against the grain, but I discovered I could learn how to promote myself by finding other authors whom I was equally passionate about and sharing their works. By promoting them, I have come to learn what will be expected of me when my turn comes, and I get to organize a book blog tour for my fiction or poetry.

Among these books that I love as much as my own is Blackmoore.

Blackmoore Cover

My interview with the author, Julianne Donaldson, is published on You Read It Here First.

My reviews were published at:

Blogcritics

[Reprint] Seattle PI.

[Reprint] The Compulsive Reader

The Romance Reviews.

(Ms. Donaldson’s debut novel Edenbrooke is also lovely, in the event people read Blackmoore and want more.)

If, in a paragraph, I had to summarize what I specifically love about Blackmoore enough to organize a mini-book blog tour*, I would say that Ms. Donaldson writes a romance that has everything I want in a love story, and she keeps it clean–no language, no violence, no bedroom scenes. The language is rich, the world alive in the regency era, and I connected with the characters in a deep way. I could see their choices, and I understood the pull of what we want versus what is dictated before we are born (not that I’ve had to deal with arranged marriages, or the trouble of inheriting what is due with conditions). My favorite stories, the ones that inspire me to write, are the ones that speak to me on an almost spiritual level, and that are so beautiful no matter what else is going on, I am swept away and, in my own way, happy. Even when I’m crying, it’s a communion of sorts and in understanding someone else, I understand something new about myself. I find friends I never knew I could have.

*For the purposes of clarity, the publisher’s publicist organized a 100-blog book tour, and I coordinated with her on this. I proposed where I would post my reviews and interview, and I organized my own portion, but the author had a seriously awesome book blog tour from her publisher already and I just joined the party.

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The last couple weeks, I have had the following reviews published, and a lovely interview with Janet Edwards for You Read It Here First. (My book review for her sequel, Earth Star, was published on Blogcritics and reprinted on Seattle PI.)

I have a TV review for a British mystery drama series from the BBC (“Broadchurch”, published on Blogcritics. You can watch the episodes on Amazon Instant Video if you want to catch up. I only reviewed the first episode.)

I recently discovered Ava Miles, whose Dare Valley series is a lovely romance trilogy (with two upcoming novellas). My review for her debut novel, Nora Roberts Land was published on Blogcritics and reprinted by Seattle PI and Seattle News. (Her sequel, French Roast, is recently out. I published my review through Blogcritics and it was also reprinted by Seattle PI and Seattle News.)

YA/NA fantasy romance series “The Chronicles of Elantra” by Michelle Sagara marked its ninth novel (tenth book, counting its novella prequel) with
Cast in Sorrow. My review was published on Blogcritics and reprinted on Seattle PI. A second review for the book was published on The Romance Reviews

Romance novelist Nadine Christian released her first book (Quintal’s Return) in her series, “The Bounty’s Retreat”. My review was published on The Romance Reviews.

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Round-up of recent reviews

Here are the books I have recently reviewed:

Flightless by Keri Neal, posted on The Romance Reviews.

Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, posted on The Romance Reviews.

Borderland Beauty by Samantha Holt, posted on The Romance Reviews.

Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson, posted on The Romance Reviews.

(This was essentially published before by The Compulsive Reader; I adjusted a couple paragraphs to match this audience.) “FULL BLOODED by Amanda Carlson” (published online at The Romance Reviews).

Moonlight by Lisa Kessler, posted on The Romance Reviews.

The Greatest of Sins by Christine Merrill, posted on The Romance Reviews.

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Two new reviews were published this week:

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan on The Romance Reviews: A British contemporary romance centered around the joys and magic of baking – and sharing – things from the heart.

Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson on The Compulsive Reader: A paranormal romance about the only female werewolf in the world, who is about to discover her so-called destiny is a lot more complex than the myth which has shaped–and haunted–her life. (PS: This book is part of a series, not a trilogy, as I had originally understood. The review will be adjusted accordingly next week.)

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Here is the promised link to the review for The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Also, on The Romance Reviews, my thoughts on Gwynneth Ever After.

I’ve got a lot of reviews written, now it’s just getting them posted in various places. :)

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For anyone who noticed my abrupt and prolonged absence, I sincerely apologize for dropping off the face of the Earth. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had thrown many seeds to the wind, hoping a few would catch and grow, and lots of them did and I was dealing with a wild garden.

Well, it morphed into a full-out jungle, and after a while I couldn’t even machete my way through. I thought I could push myself like I did when I was sixteen and cramming forty-hour days into twenty-four hour ones, but it turns out that when people say “I’m too old for this” there is some truth to the statement. I hadn’t thought I would say it in my late twenties, but evidentially I’m too old to whip myself into a frenzy like I used to. My body sent every form of message possible asking me to take a break, but I thought I would rest by reading, or listening to audio books, or watching movies (thinking that when I regained my full mental faculties I could review in retrospect) so finally I got my “All Right, That’s It!” signal when my body broke down with three simultaneous infections and I was forced to sleep for like four days.

So it turns out that there is a need to schedule Doing Nothing, and actually doing nothing in that time. I will endeavor to catch up with all the backlogged reviews, interviews, short stories, etc. but I’ve learned my lesson and am not making any promises.

I’ve almost wrapped up all the romance novels I was backlogged on, and my next project is all the outstanding reviews from Netgalley, E&K Family Book Review, and in-between, the interviews, travel pieces. and articles I have pending. There may be another flurry of activity coming soon.

Here are the reviews that were published since April:

“SWEETHEARTS IN BLOOM by Cher Green, Miranda Heart, Joy Brooks, Georgina Sellwood”, TRR, June 2013, (published online).

“BORDERLAND BRIDE by Samantha Holt”, TRR, June 2013, The Romance Reviews Top Pick, (published online).

“WIFE IN NAME ONLY by Hayson Manning”, TRR, June 2013, (published online).

“FATHER BY CHOICE by Amanda Berry, TRR, May 2013, (published online).

“THE KASHMIR SHAWL by Rosie Thomas”, TRR, May 2013, The Romance Reviews Top Pick, (published online).

I’ve written about thirty poems in the last few weeks- it became a form of oxygen and perspective to capture a moment in words. I have no idea if they’re any good, but they did their duty at the time.

I’m also working on my first romance novel. I’ve decided that instead of fretting endlessly over how I will make the best impact with my debut novel (and coming up with ten or twelve half-finished novels in the process), I’m combining all my favorite elements as a reader into one book, and I will eventually finish it and publish it and then I’ll be done with the whole Voodoo of having a “debut novel” and I can get on with writing and publishing the rest of my projects.

Some of the stories that come to me and that demand to be told have these dark elements to them, which I was unsure about. I didn’t want my “style” to become that of “bittersweet”. Then I discovered, on the flip side, that some of my stories have a natural humor and flippancy. So apparently worrying about my style is futile, since I can’t make sense of what and how things come to me, and attempting to box myself into a category is just driving me crazy. I therefore apologize in advance to any readers who are trying to determine what they can expect from me.

If I had to choose a word to describe my writing, I think I would like “sincere”, because then regardless of whether it was weird, funny, sweet, haunting, or slightly off-kilter, it would still be true to the original story–that original moment that needed to be expressed, regardless of where these things come from.

Thank you for bearing with me, and for your support through this fascinating process.

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This week I had one book review published: Firebird through The Romance Reviews.

Recently I’ve focused more on my own writings. I have my Author Page set up at Amazon, with three short stories and five poetry collections.

More in a moment… :)

 

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Original article (originally posted on my blog, first official publication): “What Does it Mean to be Successful?” on How to Tell a Great Story.

Reprint of my review on the nonfiction anthology about shame, freedom, bittersweet moments, and hope: “Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small, edited by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter” on The Compulsive Reader.

Reprint of my interview with Amy Friedman, who contributed to the anthology: Interview Amy Friedman on Shame, the Power of Memoir, and Inner Truths on The Compulsive Reader.

Reprint of my review of my Reviewer’s Bible: “The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything” by Magdalena Ball in the “Reviewer’s Choice” column of “Reviewer’s Bookwatch”, Midwest Book Review.

My review of the adult fairy tale/fable/myth that weaves passages from Scripture, the story of Perseus and Medusa, and bits of Shakespeare with an original flair: “The Crystal Scepter” by C.S. Lakin on Blogcritics Reviews in Brief.

Reprint of “The Crystal Scepter” on Seattle PI.

My second low-rated review (in case anyone thought I only do glowing reviews), of the audiobook for the contemporary romance with a mildly western twist “City Girl” by Judy Griffith Gill for The Romance Reviews. (Please note this is not a review of the actual book, which I can’t accurately gauge from the audio experience.)

My third low review, of the sweet romance retelling of Cinderella that had very little to do with Cinderella: “The Cinderella Substitute” by Nell Dixon for The Romance Reviews.

My review of the wildly fun and different time-travel romance novel “The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl” by Gina Lamm (the cover’s a giveaway for Hot rating) a Top Pick for The Romance Reviews.

Enjoy!

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Fiction

Rapunzel, Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett”, (Blogcritics).

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead”, (Blogcritics).

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay”, (Blogcritics).

“Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde”, (How to Tell a Great Story).

Nonfiction

[Reprint] “The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything by Magdalena Ball”, (How to Tell a Great Story).

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