Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Romance Novel: The Book Club, Skyward, Author: Mary Alice Monroe

A week ago I posted a blog about the book, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The book stays with me, teaching me things. The actual practice of having a conversation using flowers instead of words is called FLORIOGRAPHY. (We all know how much I love new words!)

Anywho - in floriography when you see winged seeds, you think - message coming in - because they are messengers.

When I was trying to find a common thread for all my seemingly disjointed musings that I wanted to launch into the universe for anyone reading my blog today - I thought - let's talk flower. Each subject is a message.

By far the most important message is this, the first one;

Some of you are familiar with Nan Reinhardt from the Bettyverse. Today her first book, Rule Number One, is available from BookStrand. If you click on the link, it will take you to the site where you can buy it. It's in ebook format only and from now to March 6th it is discounted and a great value at four dollars.

Come this Friday, payday, you know where four of my five dollars is going!

In a moment we'll get to message two but first I have to veer off in a different direction. I loved these things when I was a kid. We called them airplanes and we tossed them up in the air and watched them glide down. Big sigh. I showed my gkids but they weren't that impressed.

Okay message two;

Last May I talked about another book I love which has stuck with me: The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe.

Recently I decided to check out some of Monroe's previous books.

I read The Book Club. It was an absorbing, pleasant read. It was about five women who came together in, of course, a book club. Before the book was over they had all gone through transitions that arced them as people and strengthened their friendship. It has hopeful, happily for now, endings for all five main characters. It's the kind of book that makes me long for a book club of women friends; (much like The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, movie also fabulous).

I have to say, though, Crusie could use this book when she is trying to prove that epilogues are unnecessary and/or evil. The epilogue was irritating and detracted from an otherwise flawless book.

Now I've just dipped into another Mary Alice Monroe book, titled, Skyward. So far, I'm loving it. It has several elements I like in a book. The love interest is Harris who lives his life to save wounded birds of prey. I'm learning new bird-related words, such as, Accipters: The Woodland Darters. These "agile, determined hunters...include sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper's hawks and goshawks."

Another veer off subject here, but some time ago I was with a bird-watcher on the side of Mt. Lemon near Tucson, AZ. He had positioned his binoculars on a level surface so that I could easily spot a Northern Goshawk that he wanted me to see. I looked through the binoculars at the same moment that the bird turned her focus my way and I jumped back. That bird's stare was lethal. It increased the respect and admiration I already had for birds of prey.

Imagine her looking directly at you.

Back to Skyward by Mary Alice Monroe; another element in the book is a culture that is new to me: Griots. In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, African-American oral historians, or griots speak the Gullah language. M.A.M. was "fortunate to have the guidance of Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee Nation in writing Lijah's dialogue". (Lijah being a character in the book whom I already love.)

I can predict that the unfolding story is going to move me tremendously. Harris is a single father and his five year-old daughter, Marion, develops juvenile diabetes prompting him to hire live-in nurse, Ella.

Foreshadowing tells me there will be major problems along the way. HEA is the end which I know because I read it first. Yes, I'm one of those. Sue me.

(Thistle seed blowing in the wind, in case you're wondering. This message has nothing to do with misanthropy, though. I'm using it as a winged seed to represent a message not as thistle to indicate that I hate humankind.)

Third and final message:

Wikipedia says: "Creative nonfiction (also known as literary or narrative nonfiction) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact, but is not primarily written in service to its craft."

I have read some creative memoir and thoroughly enjoyed it. Recently I was in a coffee shop and I picked up a book called Zero Break: An Illustrated Collection of Surf Writing, 1777-2004 by Matt Warshaw. There was a story inside by Susan Orlean. I've read one of her books, The Orchid Thief, before and I was fascinated.

Susan's story in the surf book inspired the movie, Blue Crush. That was news to me. Blue Crush is a corny,YA chick lit movie that I secretly love. Outstanding photography of the pipes, waves, ocean-in-general and surfing make the movie worth watching even if the story doesn't grab you. 

Personally, I wasn't moved by anything else in the surf book (YMMV) so I decided to see if the story was published in something that was strictly Susan Orlean. It was; The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People. And I ordered it. And it came.

All this to say, I'll soon be writing a Susan Orlean post and to ask - have you read any creative memoir? Did you like it?

While y'all ponder that, I'm going off to make a cup of hot chocoate and read the rest of Skyward by Mary Alice Monroe.


(Peppermint - warmth of feeling.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Romance Novel: The Language of Flowers, Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Flowers that talk

In a comment on a recent post Robena asked me if I had read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

My answer was no. Then.

The name was intriguing so I went to amazon to check it out. Here is the first paragraph:

"For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, I bolted awake. The sharp, chemical smell was nothing like the hazy syrup of my dreams; the two were as different as Carolina and Indian jasmine, separation and attachment. They could not be confused."

How could I ever resist a book with a first paragraph like that? I love books with good first paragraphs. ( I was struck dumb with amazement at Zora Neale Hurston's book Their Eyes Were Watching God on the strength of first paragraphs alone. It seemed like every chapter had an amazing first paragraph.)

There was one little hitch, though. The Language of Flowers wasn't a romance novel. In fact, I couldn't really find it's genre. What if it ended tragically like another book I read recently and immediately wanted to spit in the author's morning coffee?

Nonetheless it called to me and when I found it at the library I couldn't resist. So Robena, I have read it.

And it is fabulous.

Did you know that if two people were to learn the language of flowers they could converse using flowers alone, no words? The dictionary is extensive.

I had seen the word misanthropy before but I didn't know it meant hatred or mistrust of humankind. I feel like that sometimes, it's rare, but I do. If I were having one of those days, and you and I were conversant in flowers, I could give you some common thistle and you would know exactly what I was feeling.


There is a flower farm, be still my heart, and a vineyard, big sigh, in the book. I learned another new word (for me, anyway) viticulture; the science or practice of growing grapevines, especially for winemaking.

If you are like me and you love flowers, this book lets you wallow in them. I was constantly looking up flowers.

For instance, I have always thought of poppies as red. Here is a pic of the Matilija Poppy:

Not red. Very beautiful, though.

The story is so compelling and wrenching and heartwarming. I couldn't put the book down.

Just so you know - a romance develops and while it doesn't have a dead set HEA it has a very definite HFN (happily for now) that I believe leads to an HEA.

And, ladies, at one point Victoria, the protagonist, is asked to make a bouquet for a wife whose sexlife has gone downhill - jonquils!

AKA Easter Lillies or around here - March fleurs.

According to The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, I have blooms that stimulate desire in my yard right this very moment. Who knew?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paranormal Romance Novel: A Little Night Magic, Author: Lucy March, Cozy Mystery: A Fitting End, Author: Melissa Bourbon, Romance Novel: Breakthrough, Author: Deirdre Martin

Triple Score

I'm a guest blogger over at the Bettyverse  today. Go on over and read my Ten Dollar Word post about A Little Night Magic by Lucy March..

If you haven't read the book, it's great. And it will have a sequel in 2013! Can't wait.

Speaking of series, here's an update on two others I've talked about before:

August 30, 2011  I talked about Pleating For Mercy, the first book in the Magical Dressmaker's Mystery Series by Melissa Bourbon. Specifically I talked about how much I enjoyed it and looked forward to book two.

A Fitting End, book two, is out. IMHO it's even better than book one. The characters whom I already liked a lot, are developed even more. The plot is fast paced and compelling. I love her voice. It's just good.

I was concerned that she might be going to develop a love triangle in book three and having had that dynamic soured  by you know who in her books seventeen and eighteen, I was wary of getting too invested in the series. I wrote to Melissa Bourbon and being the gracious author she is, she responded. She assures me, no love triangle is in the offing for Harlow Cassidy and Will Flores. They will encounter some struggles but their romance is solid. Big sigh of relief for me.

April 8, 2011  I talked about another series I'm thoroughly enjoying, The New York Blade Series by Deirdre Martin. Breakthrough,  the latest in that series, has just come out and it does not disappoint.

(I haven't done Deirdre justice, so far. Since reading a short story by her, I've sought out and read everything she's written and it's all good reading. When her next book comes out I'm going to make a point of discussing her work more thoroughly. Meanwhile, trust me, her books are worth the money and time!)

I feel lucky to have found all three of these fabulous women who are entertaining authors. 

My plea to all three of them is: More! More! More!

And it is my pleasure to have this place to share them with you, my lovely readers.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Timing, affirmation and the logical, reasonable universe

(Posting this on Monday instead of Tuesday because I'm thinking of changing my post days. Trying out Mondays.)

I've never talked about this here. I am a person who needs to reduce her weight. Not because I have health issues. I'm actually remarkably healthy. Not because I want to look better. Although I'm not so much of a martyr that I can't admit, looking better would be a nice bonus.

I need to reduce my weight for the sake of my knees, ankles, general mobility and agility.

In 2010 I was actively trying to do this and I was miserable. I would eat fairly well, exercise well, hit the scale and the numbers wouldn't budge. For weeks. Then I would give up. Even things I had enjoyed, dancing alone at home as exercise, for example, would be tainted.

Thus my resolution for 2011 was never to step on the scale. Even once. And I didn't. And I know I maintained rather than gaining (maybe even lost a little) for the first time in years because the fit of my clothes didn't change.

And I was much less stressed about the whole damn subject.

Since 2011's resolution worked so well (for me), I decided to continue it and add an equally effective one for 2012. But it wouldn't come. That's not true. It came but I wouldn't hear it.

The universe being a logical, reasonable place, when I hadn't heard it by Feb, despite many helpful signs, I got 3 different hits of a tinnitus burst that only lasted for seconds. I don't suffer from tinnitus so when I do, I know, I'm not hearing something I should be hearing.

On 2/10/12 Julie's card draw was Raven. The first line of Raven's message was this:

"Listen to your intuition to receive a message from the world of spirit."

I commented: "I will be heeding the card alert to pay attention." (A forceful, direct statement of intention, even though I wasn't consciously thinking of it that way.)

I was thinking about this while I was readying myself to sleep. Shattered bits of my resolution that weren't clear enough to really be workable came into my head.

Then I slept.

When I woke up, this, my resolution for 2012, was fully formed:

>Fruit for breakfast first, salad for lunch and supper first. No set times when I eat them. No obligation to eat any meal other than the fruit once and the salad once.
Committing myself to doing it until 1/1/13. If I don't like it - which I know I will by then - I'll stop.<

Next came affirmation from the logical, reasonable universe that I had received the message correctly. Allen Carr's Easyweigh to Lose Weight came in the mail that very afternoon.

AC wrote 3 books on weight loss. No More Diets which I got soon after Julie started talking about how one of his other books helped her quit smoking. It was okay.

Lose Weight Now which I put on my Kindle app and promptly started NOT reading, using the excuse that I don't like to sit at the desktop and read. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I did it all night when I was engrossed in Deborah Blake's book, Witch Ever Way You Can.

I had been hiding from the third one, Allen Carr's Easyweigh to Lose Weight, because I knew from things that Julie said about it, that it was the most effective of the three. I finally ordered it but there was some delay as it was coming from overseas.

Can you perceive the significance of it coming that very day? Even the timing of the thing. I was in the middle of sending Julie an email about the resolution when my mom handed me the package.

And sometime during the day, the pure genius of this resolution came to me. From what little I had read of Lose Weight Now on my Kindle app, I remembered AC saying:

"The same Gauge that tells you when to eat also tells you when to stop The problem is that we’ve been brainwashed to disregard our Gauge."
"Hunger ends when we’ve absorbed sufficient nourishment from the right foods..."
"When you regularly eat foods that do not contain the required nutrients, overeating becomes the norm. You’ve overridden the tools supplied by Nature and no longer know how to listen to what they’re telling you. Your Sensor has stopped leading you to the right foods and you no longer use your Gauge correctly. You’ve lost touch with your body..."

I'm not sure I've picked out the right quotes from that section of the book for you to understand the conclusion I came to but it is this:

After a year of this resolution (well ten & 1/2 months anyway) I will have been getting sufficient nutrients often enough that I will be back in touch with my body's sensors that tell me when to eat, when to stop eating and what to eat.

Genius. The universe is a reasonable, logical place.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I blame bear.

Recently I've spent some time with my thinking cap on. There's something I've known for a while but I haven't wanted to admit it because I'm a people pleaser and I especially want to please the people who come here to visit me.

Then wise woman Julie drew the bear card. One sentence that it said (contrary) really stood out for me:
"The time has come to regain your authority, for no one knows better than yourself what is proper and timely for your evolution."

Reading between the lines, it's time for me to woman up and fess up - I can't write my next book like I did the last one. I can't write a chapter, submit it to beta readers, make changes, post it here, then write the next chapter, etc. etc.

It's just not that kind of book. I'm going to have to write it once through, not on my own, exactly, because I'd like some feedback and accountability, but as a whole entity, not in pieces.

It's going to teach me a lot; that's already started; and I would like to talk about what I'm learning here. I hope no one gets bored or irritated.

I feel like I've been a horrible tease. I've talked about it as if I were going to start posting any time now. That was my original intention. It just can't work that way.

Can y"all forgive me?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Paranormal Romance Novel: Witch Ever Way You Can, Author: Deborah Blake

 Debbie Does Dallas - Oops - I Mean Fiction.

“Oh, for the Goddess’s sake. This guy probably had more problems than any ten Witches could possibly solve, no matter how much money he had.” (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.) 

Yep. I’ve met men, no, actually people like that. 

“Okay. It’s Friday afternoon. In less than an hour, a car will pull up to my door and take me to the Albany airport, where a private jet owned by a billionaire will whisk me off to New York City for dinner with Robert Daniel Addison, the television star I’ve had a not-so-secret crush on for fifteen years. At some point after this dinner, said billionaire will expect me to work an unspecified piece of magic.”
I took a deep breath and threw my hands up in the air in defeat. “I defy any makeover show to come up with perfect outfit for that evening. The whole thing is simply absurd.” (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.) 

I can’t think of a single thing I have that would work in that situation. You? 

BTW if you’re paying attention you will realize, the beautiful Deborah Blake , whom some of us are already familiar with, doesn’t just write award winning non-fiction books on witchcraft, (e.g. Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft), she has also written a fiction novel which IMHO is excellent. 

The book has steam.

"Your reputation is safe with me,” I said. Then, thinking about it, “Or maybe not.” I daringly stretched one stocking-clad foot out under the table to run it gently up Rob’s pants leg. By golly, it was all coming back to me. And the women in my coven thought I’d completely forgotten how to flirt. Of course, it helped to have such inspiration sitting right across the table. (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.) 

The book is full of funny asides. 

“Goddess, the man was so formal he made my butt muscles clench.” (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.)

And movie quotes. And puns.

"’Excuse me while I whip this out.’” I got to my feet and picked up my box of magical tools. Rob snickered and Tyler just looked confused.
“Blazing Saddles,” I explained. His expression only got more baffled, and I shrugged. “Sorry, bad habit. Wait until I start with the puns.” (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.)

The book has tension

“As my fingers closed around the stone the rumble in my head became a roar, and then a high-pitched hum that grew in intensity until I thought my skull would burst. My fingers tightened convulsively around the stone and its original coldness grew warmer until it was as though I held a red-hot coal.” (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.) 

And conflict.

Then I caught Rob’s startled glance, and it sank in. He’d seen us out in the hot tub. He’d been watching us… Hidden cameras, maybe? Crap. My blood pressure went up another notch and my ears grew hot with suppressed fury. (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.)

 And more steam to break up the tension and conflict. 

And oh, what a kiss it was. His lips slid on mine, then away, then back again in a gentle dance. Slowly his arms tightened around me and his mouth captured mine, the pressure sending sparks up and down my spine. His tongue slipped lightly between my teeth, and I tasted the sweetness of wine, a hint of asparagus, and something indescribable that was Rob. It was better than chocolate. Hell, it was better than anything. (From Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. Kindle Edition.) 

I don’t want to do spoilers so I’ll just say; there are twists and turns and scary moments and sexy moments. There's a lovely, funny, scrappy heroine; a handsome, courageous, sexy hero; and an unsettling, evil, scary villain.

It’s a page turner and I don’t say that lightly. I've put down 3 books unfinished lately because I couldn't get into them. I downloaded this book on my Kindle app on our desktop. (Sadly my laptop is kaput.) It’s usually hard for me to finish a book sitting at the desktop. I started reading it late one night, thinking to just read a little. At 6:30 the next morning I stopped reading only because I had finished this very good book. 

All for $2.99 at amazon. (If you don't have a Kindle app on your pc or desktop, the app is free to download.) I don’t know if there are other ways to get the book or not. Consult Deb for that.

The book also has my absolute requirement in a romance novel – A HAPPY ENDING 

Don’t take my word for it, though. Read it and tell me what You think.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Amusing yet disturbing...

I was pondering a blogpost topic today and drawing a blank. So I binged good blogpost topics. Copyblogger’s number 40 suggestion was to look at the keyword searches from my statistics and write about the most popular things.

I laughed hard enough to snort my orange flavored Aireborne water through my nose because coincidentally I had looked at those stats earlier today.

On May 2,2011 I wrote a blogpost about Anne Stuart’s book, The Devil's Waltz, and I mentioned Priapus. I even put a pic of a statue of Priapus. If you don’t remember, Priapus is always depicted with a huge erection.

Priapus was the number one keyword search.

Number two, four, five and ten are all various versions of Ranger in the movie One For the Money. There is a pic of him in a blogpost I wrote about movies that are better than the books they came from. The post is not about that movie. And it isn’t a naked pic of Daniel Sunjata, but still, the mention of it drew people to my blog.

Number three is the phrase, “I stare at men’s crotches.”

11/8/11 I wrote a blogpost entitled Do you stare at men's crotches? about Susan Donovan and the fact that she frequently has her characters looking at men's crotches which I thought was kind of weird because I never do that.

There are some funny comments to that one including the comment where Robena suggests that MS Donovan might be a 'crotch whisperer' but by and large the consensus was that, no, most women don't stare at men's crotches.

And yet this phrase is the number three reason why strangers hit on my blog.

I'm sensing a theme here and it ain't about truths hiding in fiction novels.

I find this mind-boggling, very amusing and at the same time a little disturbing.

What do you think this means?

If you write a blog, what are the keywords that have drawn strangers to your blog?

You ponder those things while I try to figure out if there's such a thing as a blog cleanser.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

And Many More....

I know it's not one of my usual post days - but it's my first babies birthday.

This is for you, Ruthie:

Happy Birthday, my beautiful, sweet, intelligent first-born daughter!