Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Review: Let’s Write A Short Story   Leave a comment

Let’s talk about writing. Actually, let’s talk about the writing process. It’s not just writing. Anyone can write. And most people can pull off something good. A majority of people can pull off something great. And quite a few people can pull off something extraordinary. At least some of the time. That’s where the rest of the process comes in. Prewriting increases the chances that awesome is going to also be coherent. Editing and revision pull the awesome out of the muck and highlight it, adding to it in order to increase awesomeness. And publishing. . . well, publishing is a whole different beast, but it’s the culmination of the process that takes the awesome and gives it to the world.

But how many of us get to experience the entire process? As a novelist, I sure haven’t. Prewriting, yes. In fact, I’ve gotten really good at prewriting (hence my 30 Days of Prewriting book). Over the years, I’ve used just about every method of prewriting there is. Writing, yes. I’ve written until my hands were sore. I’ve typed until my eyes were blurry and my brain had long since stopped functioning. Editing. . . well, not so much. Not that I’ve never edited. I have. But I wouldn’t say that I’ve finished editing anything. I write rough drafts and then I get started on the editing and revision and it just starts to feel so overwhelming. And then my projects die. Which is where Let’s Write a Short Story by Joe Bunting~ has changed my way of thinking.

Not only does this book go through the information you’ll need to write better short stories (and just plain write better in general), it also explains why you should bother with short stories in the first place. And the biggest reason that stuck out for me? You get to experience the entire writing process and practice your craft from start to finish. That appealed to me. And it also got my brain going. Honestly, I could have finished this book much sooner if it didn’t give me so much to ponder. And there are action steps in the book as well. Places where Bunting basically says “Now put the book down and go do.” This is definitely not some book about theory. It’s a book about practice. And it will get your mind going in new directions. It certainly did so for mine.

After reading the book, be sure to join the online community designed to continue where the book left off. If Bunting can cram so much stimulation into a fairly short book, I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can provide in a community.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Links in this post are affiliate links.

FF: Review of Eye of the Sword   Leave a comment

I accidentally did it again. I snagged a book that wasn’t the first in a series. Again, I ended up in a trilogy, this time in the second book, rather than the third. You’ll see from my review, however, that I’ve been having much better luck with sequels lately.

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

Where angels walk the ground and the future is told in song, does a man of low rank have a chance at love with a princess?

In Camrithia, a land of shadows and mystical secrets, Trevin lives to serve King Laetham. But his heart belongs to the princess, Melaia. When the King sends Trevin on on a dangerous quest to find the missing comains—captains in the king’s army—he must leave Melaia to the advances of a swaggering Dregmoorian prince.

Challenged to prove his worth, Trevin throws himself into his quest. Striving to prove his love, Trevin undertakes a second mission—find the harps Melaia seeks in order to restore the stairway to heaven. Through fire caves, rogue winds, and murderous threats, Trevin remains steadfastly dedicated to his quest—even when he is falsely accused of a heinous crime. As Trevin’s time runs out, he realizes he must face the shame and horror of his own past and the nightmare that has come to life. Will he have the courage to finish what he has started?

The book starts out with our would-be hero losing a fight and ending up down a contaminated well, about to be boiled alive. Which doesn’t really seem like fun, but was probably better than some of the other things that happen to poor Trevin later on in the book. I really felt for this hero, without even having read the first book. He was humble and had an unsavory past. But he was loyal, determined, and honest. When someone that he’s come to care about dies, he weeps. There are a lot of male main characters these days that are “too tough” to cry, even when someone dies.

There were parts of the book that I had difficulty reading quickly. Not because it was boring, but because it took a little extra time to process all the tidbits of backstory that were being provided. By the end of this second book, though, I could pretty much tell you what happened in the first book (and before). So while the first half took me a little longer, it was still enjoyable. And I felt like details were provided in exactly the right way. I could definitely read this book, never read the first one, and feel like I could continue on with the series. However, I enjoyed this book so much, I plan to buy the first one, then loan both of them to my friend who has done tons of research on Nephilim and therefore would get a kick out of the series, so that she can read them too. And hopefully, the third book isn’t too far away. Because my first thought when I finished this book was “Oh crud. Now I have to wait for the third one.”

As a fantasy lover, I really enjoyed this book. So if you’re into swords and magical creatures (or in this case, Heavenly creatures), this book would be great. My general recommendation is to read series in order, but really, you don’t have to with this one.

You can get the first book here. Or this book here.

 

Disclosure: In exchange for an honest review, I received a copy of this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program. The free product did not influence my opinion. Also, links in this post are affiliate links.

Posted August 17, 2012 by Maidenfine in Fiction Friday, Reading

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Review: The Bride’s Bible   Leave a comment

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I’m not putting this one on Fiction Friday, since the Bible isn’t fiction. But something beautiful came in the mail for me today. It’s the Bride’s Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers. It’s a KJV Bible and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I don’t even think that my pictures will do it justice. My family’s wedding season for this year is over, but I think this would make a really great gift for a bride. Maybe something from the maid of honor or one of the mothers. Other than the incredible cover, it’s also smaller than the usual Bible. Not quite as small as the pocket Bibles, but smaller than my Personal size one. I took some pictures to compare the size and the thickness. The green one in the back is my Personal size Bible. Since I carry my backpack with me everywhere, I have enough room to stick it in there. If I were still carrying a purse, I would definitely prefer the smaller size of the ultra-slimline Bride’s Bible.

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As you can see, their provided graphic, does not do the actual Bible justice. Yes, the pattern is accurate, but their graphic looks like it might be gray or black. In reality, it’s a gorgeous, shimmery silver. Even my pictures don’t truly show how beautiful this Bible is. It’s been a long time since I got married, but I would have loved to receive something this beautiful. At the front of the Bible, it contains the usual presentation page, but adds to it. There’s a page for documenting your wedding details, including space for wedding pictures and a message from your wedding party. It will not only be a beautiful Bible, but also a really amazing keepsake.

IMG00599-20120809-2125My green Bible, contains two maps. They’re located inside the back cover. This Bible contains 8 pages of maps at the back. They’re full color, just like the ones at the back of my larger Bible, but they cover a lot more, simply because there are four times as many.

I only have two things that I would say detract from the Bible. The first, is that it appears to only be available in KJV. Now, I have nothing against KJV, but it is most definitely harder to read than other versions. I’m pretty sure it reads at a 12th grade level (if my random trivia knowledge is correct).

IMG00597-20120809-1831Since the average American only reads at the 6th grade level, that’s something to consider. The other issue is the size of the type. Yes, it’s bigger than those pocket Bibles, but really, even little kids with perfect eyes can have trouble reading the words in those things. And really, it’s not too bad. But the type is noticeably smaller than that in my regular Bible. So if you suspect any sort of vision problems, a Bible magnifying lens is a must-have accessory. They aren’t that expensive, but you don’t want to give a gift that requires the purchase of something else, so be sure to spring for the lens.

IMG00597201208091831_thumbOverall, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m in love with this Bible. I was so excited for it to arrive and opening it was like Christmas. I think any bride would be lucky to receive a Bible as beautiful as this. So definitely keep it in mind for the Christian brides in your future.

Disclosure: In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of this Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers, through their BookSneeze program. I chose it to review because I thought it looked pretty in their picture, so if I hadn’t received it free, and knew a soon-to-be bride, I probably would have bought one anyway. Thus, my opinions are not affected by the free item.

Posted August 13, 2012 by Maidenfine in God, Randomness, Reading

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Fiction Friday: Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie   Leave a comment

After an earthquake traps her for months in a remote section of Africa, Emma Tupper finally returns home to discover that everyone in her life thought she was dead. Can Emma pick up where she left off? And should she?

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence for the African dream vacation her mother never could, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead and her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to recreate her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client, and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who’s taken over her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice the job, relationships and everything else she worked so hard to build?

 

After reading the blurb for this book, I knew it was one that I had to review. Isn’t discovering identity exactly what I’m writing about here? And while I’m discovering my identity through God, my role as a homemaker, and my writing instead of through both old and new friends, and a struggle for a new place at my old job, it still relates. It’s not a Christian book, so there were a lot of times that I wanted to tell the main character to try praying once in a while. But other than that, I really enjoyed it. Even though I had pretty much nothing in common with the main character.

Through the struggles that she has in her current situation, you pretty much learn that maybe the main character wasn’t all that likeable before her trip. Or, at least, she wasn’t much interested in things that “mattered.” She was a ruthless lawyer and she did what it took to get ahead in her job. She was a workaholic, who managed to blow off all of her friends until she only had one left. And while she was in a long-term relationship, it wasn’t one that she was in for love. She was with him because he was the logical person for her to be with. Like a cheerleader dating the quarterback.

When she comes back from her trip (which took way longer than originally scheduled because of the earthquake), she finds out that she was declared dead by the government. So her apartment has been leased to someone else (who was moving in when she showed up), her job has been given away, her boyfriend has moved on, and her bank accounts are frozen. Sounds like quite the nightmare situation, but she manages to get through it all and work on who she really is and what’s really important in her life.

It was an excellent book and I would definitely recommend it. If we’re talking stars (and when I review it elsewhere, they’ll make me talk in terms of stars), I’d give it 5. I read it in just a couple days, which means it snagged my attention early.

Unlike other books I’ve reviewed on here, this one isn’t out yet. It’s set to release in October 2012, but you can preorder it on Amazon now.

For more information about the author, this book, or her two previous books, you can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and her personal websitehere.

Disclosure: I received a free ebook from William Morrow Paperbacks, through Edelweiss, in exchange for my review. It was a book that I had to request to review, so it was clearly something I would have picked up anyway. And my opinions were not changed by the fact that it was free. Some links within the post are affiliate links.

A MishMash of Everything   Leave a comment

Our air conditioner went out in late May or early June. It was inconvenient, but we hadn’t had a lot of really hot days, so we didn’t worry about it too much. We thought we knew what was wrong. We were just waiting for an electrician family member to have time to come over and fix. And then a week of triple digit temperatures and heat advisories happened. And when she came over to fix what we thought was wrong, it wasn’t the problem. So basically, since it was crazy hot last week, most of my brain power went into figuring out how to keep my house cool. Turning on my computer during the day was not part of that plan. Thus, I didn’t get any blogging done.

This week, we’ve got some window units that my grandpa had in his basement (God provides!) to keep us cooler until we can get the part in that will really fix the AC. Which means I have room in my brain for thoughts other than keeping the temperature in a certain range. And I’m okay with having my computer on during the day.

As a Weight Loss Wednesday update: I hurt my knee. Not badly, but the circumstances made it worse than it could have been (since I was running alone with no cell phone so I had to walk 10 minutes back to my car). I haven’t been walking or running since. And I intend to get new running shoes before I go running again because I think my shoes being a couple years old and worn down may have had a lot to do with it. Because it was so hot last week, I didn’t really do any other exercising either, though I did sweat all day every day. I’m going to skip measurements this week because of the holiday, but we’ll see if I can eat right tomorrow and manage not to get bigger.

This Friday: I have one book review ready to go, and I should finish another book by the time that goes up. But it won’t be this week. This week, I’m going to have a curriculum review and giveaway on Friday. So be looking for that. I’m really excited to share my experience with you.

And a little sneak peek, just because:

 

Posted July 3, 2012 by Maidenfine in God, Randomness, Reading, Weight Loss Wednesday

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Fiction Friday: Review of Fix By Force   Leave a comment

Since the last couple review books I got from BookSneeze didn’t start out so great, I didn’t think I’d have much trouble starting this one at bedtime. I figured I’d read a chapter, just to be started, and then I’d go to sleep. It was not to be. I started reading, got hooked in the first chapter and suddenly it was two hours later and I was only putting the book down because my children are fairly merciless about when we wake up in the morning. There is no sleeping in, no matter what I was doing until midnight the night before.

Fix by Force by Jason Warne is the story of Spencer Shane. Despite his best efforts at being “normal,” he seems to be repeating the life he was destined to lead: his father’s. Before his death, Spencer’s father managed to make a name for himself as the town drunk. And he just so happened to kill a woman as his final act. Spencer is, understandably, not too happy with the thought of following in those footsteps. But despite his best efforts, he keeps “messing up,” and eventually ends up expelled for having drugs at school. His uncle gets him into a school for expelled kids and then things get really interesting.

Not only do I think that this book would be a fast read, even for teens that don’t read, I think it has a lot to say. It deals with bullying, drugs, and the choices we make. Spencer spends most of the book feeling like choices are made for him. He doesn’t feel like he has any say in his life and that informs his behavior. Overall, I think it was spectacularly done. And my favorite part (though it threw me off at first), is the ending. For me, it was at the bottom of a page, so I tried to turn to the next page and then realized that was it. But based on things just a little bit earlier in the book, that was the perfect way to end it.

I found the whole book to be very raw, but beautiful. I learned way more than I ever wanted to know about steroids, but the thoughts of the character were the most important part of the whole thing. And they were so real and honest. I think this book will really speak to some kids and I would honestly recommend it to any kid with a drug, alcohol, eating disorder, or other self-image problem. Or to any kid who’s expelled for really any reason.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. I don’t know if the BookSneeze link is an affiliate link or not. I received an ebook of Fix by Force in exchange for my honest review. All opinions about the book are mine, and not influenced by the free product.

Posted June 22, 2012 by Maidenfine in Fiction Friday, Reading

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Fiction Friday: Not This Time by Vicki Hinze   Leave a comment

When I chose this book to review, I didn’t realize that it was the third in the trilogy. My rule about series books has been established. However, unlike the last book I reviewed out of series order, this one gave me enough information to keep me reading. The first few pages of this book were a little confusing. As I said, it’s the third book in a trilogy, so there were a lot of characters introduced up front (especially since it started out with a wedding). But I recovered quickly, and most of the characters were introduced in much smaller numbers after that. So my initial confusion didn’t keep me from reading further along. And once I got into it, I figured out who everyone was. This book kept me guessing most of the way through. There were a few things that I figured out before the characters did (which can be good or bad), but not a lot of them, and not usually very long before they did. So as a thriller it did a good job. I also really loved the God story within the novel. There were so many characters that had to learn lessons about God. One of the biggest lessons that applied to several characters was about redemption. No matter what we’ve done, or how long we’ve done it, God can still redeem us and change our direction. I really enjoyed this book, and I’m thinking about looking for the first two in the series, so that I can see how some of the relationships in the book got their start.

 

Disclosure: In exchange for an honest review, I received a copy of this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program. The free product did not influence my opinion. Also, links in this post are affiliate links.