Monday, December 22, 2014

Midway Review—INTO THE FIRE (BIRTH OF THE PHOENIX)

Note: a midway review is one you write when you started a book you’re so excited about that you can’t wait to discuss it, even though you haven’t finished reading it. Unfortunately, I had to stop reading this gem to work. But I couldn’t wait to tell you how good it is so far.

INTO THE FIRE, written by Ashelyn Drake, aka Kelly Hashway, and published by Month9 Books, grabs the reader with a firm grip.

Cara is a phoenix, and she’s falling in love at the worst time imaginable, right before her rebirth. Once reborn, she’ll forget having ever met Logan, let alone that she had loved him.

The book is fast-paced, the dialogue is consistent, and the tension never lets up, at least not so far. (I’m not quite halfway through it.) I’ve got so many questions in my brain, and I can’t wait to find out the answers. For instance, who is the Hunter and why is he or she after them? How will they fight the Hunter? Does the Hunter have unique powers?

Another question concerns the number of lives each phoenix gets. If I’m understanding the book so far, with their rebirths, phoenixes get five lives. Cara, 17, is nearing her first rebirth, and her younger brother, Jeremy, has just undergone his. This made me think phoenixes live between 85 and 100 years, just like regular people; starting out so young with the first rebirth, it’s easy to assume that the next one will be 15 to 17 years later, and so on. So, you see where my math is going. But then Cara’s mother mentioned that phoenixes live to be around 500 years old. I got confused, thinking that each life should then be about 100 years, multiplied by the five lives they get.

Yet that doesn’t make sense if Cara and Jeremy are already experiencing their first rebirths. But the math is just one more question I’m anxious to get to the bottom of once I have read the full book.

Phoenixes are part bird, but they don’t have wings or beaks or anything like that. I’m wondering what their connection to birds is, and how that will come to play in this novel. I can’t wait to find out. I’m also wondering about Cara’s powers with fire. I’m anxious to learn why she has these powers, when she will be able to control them, what she can or will do with them, and what other powers she might have. So you see, I have multiple questions lined up from reading the first third of the book, which is why it’s really frustrating to put it down. But you can bet I’ll be staying up late tonight. When a novel raises questions almost page after page, a reader can’t help but want to devour the book in one gulp; and yes, I am assuming the rest of the book will be as good as the start. Have you read it? Did you like it?

Happy reading!

Friday, December 19, 2014

MIDDLE GRADE WONDERS—Book Review on THE DIRT DIARY

With a title like that—THE DIRT DIARY—who wouldn’t read this book (published by Sourcebooks, Inc., 2014)? Anna Staniszewski, author, has done a magnificent job of creating a wacky yet serious character, Rachel, an eighth grader whose hokey expressions stick to your brain long after you’re done reading the book. I found only one morsel of disappointment: I would’ve liked to find a tad more dirt in that diary, or dirtier dirt that brings a little more catastrophe. But that’s me. I never had a dirt diary, and I’m probably feeling a bit deprived. All in all, getting to know Rachel and her friends, as well as her foes, was truly a joy. The book has secrets, heartbreak, romance, and humor—a great mix.

Creating her own dirty little secrets, Rachel learns the hard way about friendship and life in a most delightful way. Tension and pacing never falter, so I couldn’t put the book down. I’d recommend this novel to anyone, middle grade, young adult, or old geezer. I’ll definitely be reading more of this author’s work.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Though I've Been Absent, I've Not Been Bored!


Below is the blog article I was working on last fall and planning to post on Sept. 3, 2014. You know what they say—the best made plans. Before I got the article posted, pneumonia came knocking on my door. Not just once, killing the rest of September, but it came back for another short visit in October. Needless to say, the rest of October and November was spent catching up on all the duties needing done and mentioned in the following article. So, now you know why this post is a bit late. I promise I’ll try to do better in the near future.

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Those of you familiar with my yearly schedule know I don't take on editing projects for clients during the summer months, and I seldom blog. During these gone-too-fast months, my husband and I participate in art/craft shows often. He loves to build benches and cabinets, and I love to give them the look of aged heirlooms, or just paint them in a fun and lively finish. If we counted correctly, we created 102 new items this season, and I, at least, have the exhaustion to prove it.

I also love to paint a few oil landscapes or pet portraits each year, sometimes on canvas, sometimes saw blades, sometimes on the back of a wooden bench. Regardless, I find myself painting from morning to night during parts of the summer, and with as much dedication as I give my writing and editing. I love the way colors swished around this way and that can bring a world into view.
 

I generally still manage to keep up a minimum of one paragraph of writing per day or even one page per day; and when I don’t, I make up for it when my husband takes our visiting grandkids to the park.

Some of our grandkids spend a few weeks with us every summer, so we take them to swimming lessons. This is something we always look forward to. We pack a lot of other fun into these short weeks, too—town festivals, carnival rides, and birthday parties.


 

Other good news that came about this summer was an addition to our family—our youngest granddaughter, Joella.

We got through some sadness, the death of a friend’s husband and the near death of a former relative; but many appreciated prayers of hope and love were shared with their families to make these times a little more bearable.

Now September is here once again. I have five editing jobs in the queue, three book reviews to write, a bimonthly commissioned writing job, two picture books to finish, a few (ahem, strong few) novels to finish, short stories to polish, oodles of books to read, two antique sewing machines and one industrial machine to recondition, grandkids to see and life to live. I’m excited. Still, the best part of each day is snuggling alongside handsome hubby, the lights low and TV on, snacks close by, and a shared sigh and feeling of satisfaction that we made it through another day.

How was your summer?