Monday, 26 September 2016

Mystery Monday: Wake the Devil


WAKE THE DEVIL
(Sturgis and Kale: #2)

Written by Robert Daniels
SEPTEMBER 13, 2016; 352 Pages
Crooked Lane Books
Genre: mystery, suspense, thriller, romantic suspense, fbi


(I received an ARC from the PUBLISHER in exchange for an honest review.)
★★★1/2

Beth and Jack are back...solving a crime together and living together.  It has been several months since Beth and Jack met and now they cannot envision a life apart.  They also cannot stay away from serial killers.  One day, while a married couple, two doctors, are taking some time off there is a tragedy.  One doctor is dead and the other should have been, and is now being stalked by the killer known as the Sandman.  There are a few days left until the doctor and her colleague are to testify at a grand jury.  Beth and Jack have to keep the two witnesses alive, and also find the man behind the Sandman.  If they lose the Sandman there will be more people dead in the future.
I really enjoy the characters in this book...so much so, that even the quickness of the romance between Beth and Jack doesn't faze me.  I am just hoping that Beth and Jack can stay an alluring couple like Dallas and Roarke (In Death series by JD Robb), as I am loving this series.  I wasn't as enthralled by the Sandman storyline but love the suspense of the plot and how it comes together.  I CANNOT wait till the next book.  Robert Daniels is definitely on the must read author list!

BUY EBOOK NOW!
BUY HARDCOVER NOW!

For review on first book ONCE SHADOWS FALL.


k (My Novelesque Life)

Free Flow: Essay: Compromise, Communication and Compassion


Who says blogging about your feelings doesn't work?  The written word is mightier than we think.  The boyfriend, Derek has had a change of heart after hearing what I was saying about how I was feeling.  He, of course, does not completely agree with everything (especially some of the stuff I was too truthful about regarding his mother.  Then again, I am not sure I can be objective about my mom either).  After trying to be with someone different he realized one thing...being with some new doesn't mean that things are different.  He still had his debts, but this time the person in his life was not there to help or lend money on the fly.  He still lives at home...and realizing that when he was away from his house at this person's house things were better. Things were less stressful when there is just you two in a relationship.  Seeing in print how his words - promises and vows - meant to me and the values I held for us and myself he is coming to see how good he had it.  Having someone in your life that makes your life easier and does things your way so that you have the pressure off, you sometimes take it for granted that everyone else will too. Alas, there was no grand gesture (holding bouquet of flowers in the rain...with a large to-go cup of tea) but a man that can admit his mistakes and listen to you is something I have come to appreciate more.  Anyone can make grand gestures but it is communication, compromise and compassion that are the keys to make it work - and be adults.

I know what you are thinking, but I swear I did not give in.  There are certain things that are important to me - reading and reviewing and writing fiction and essays.  I have compromised that I will not write about him, his family or us as long as we are together.  I am okay with that because he is compromising on supporting my passion and he will try to read my stuff even when he doesn't get the appeal.  We have decided that we will move in together (and alone) once he can make the commitment of getting a ring.  I may be a feminist but to move in with someone I need to know there is some commitment.  I don't want to be left alone holding the bag.  As we live apart we have decided to compromise by taking turns seeing each other as he sees how much I had done in the past coming to him and stay at his place.  The fact he acknowledged this and appreciates it makes it all worth the time in traffic and high gas prices, lol! The best part is that he wants to grow forward and we have set up a financial plan separate of our relationship.  I don't know if things will continue like this - communicating, compromising, and being compassionate of the other person's feelings.  But you have to forgive and give people chances.

It was Derek who strongly encouraged me to reconnect with my dad.  Derek and I grew up in similar backgrounds, and so did my dad...you have to end the cycle somewhere.  He pushed me to forgive and be compassionate to him and so I can do this for him...and give him a chance.  I know some people will think we are being unrealistic...but I want to know I have done everything I could to be with the person I love and want to spend the rest of my life laughing with and collecting odd things only we love! This year has been about discovering myself and taking risks...if I don't keep you posted then you know things are good.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Some Days off!


Sorry I have been away for a bit.  I have been working on my writing as I have promised myself that I have to have drafts done by the 30th of September.  Then I will have a few weeks to polish it as much as I can.  I have also been having too much fun hanging out with friends BUT have still been reading.  I have a few days off this week so expect some reviews :)

k (My Novelesque Life)

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Uncoupling of Brangelina or Jennifer Aniston Doesn't Give Shit

AJ I think is great and brave!
I am not one for scandals...let me rephrase that...I will totally gossip about a scandal but at the end of the day I could really give shit who the bad guy is because people are not that one-sided.  I have always had to defend my admiration of Angelina Jolie, especially the whole cheating thing.  I admire Angelina for her charity work, her love of children and her misunderstood-ness.  She's a rebel because she does things her way.  I like Jennifer Aniston too, mostly for Friends, but lately for standing up for herself.  Brad Pitt? Well, he was more interesting with Jolie and again is charitable.  Jennifer Aniston, for those who didn't get the memo, is happy.  She is getting paid to do what she loves and has love in her life.  Whether Jolie and Pitt divorce only effects those in the family.  I don't know what the issue is and don't want to pry or spread more garbage.  I hope they can remain friendly enough for the children and that they find happiness once again.  Life changes are some hard-core shit, and being famous, well that is a whole other level of shit.  I still stand by my admiration of her...I won't judge her for her stumbles, but how she arises from it. (But secretly am bummed about the marriage as I was hoping it would be like my heroes - Woodward and Newman).

k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Eighteen (and Three Quarters) Hours Left till my Birthday!



Tomorrow I turn THIRTY-SIX years old.  I am super grateful to be alive and mostly healthy.  As I have said in other posts, I am not where I thought I would be in life...and I am getting okay with that.  I am not good with too many changes or unpredictability.  So not knowing where I am going feels slightly uncomfortable.  Yet, I have met the most amazing people on this veered-off journey.  I have started writing and am actually going to enter a writing contest.  Win or lose...I can officially say I am a writer (in progress, anyway).  I have blogged for a full year and am meeting authors and publishers I have always admired.  I always thought I knew who I was and what I wanted...but this year I have vocalized it and am trying to live it.  I am trying to own my mistakes and learn from them rather than keep making them.  I am getting closer to liking the person I am - rather than always wanting to be perfect (for me and others).


One thing I do want to improve on in the next year is lose that defensiveness and not take criticism (good or bad) so personal. I need to watch how I say things because wanting some one to hear me shouldn't mean I need to make sarcastic mean remarks to get that attention.  I want to believe more in myself when it comes to "smartness".  Just because I am not intelligent in one area doesn't make me an imbecile.  While I enjoy my addiction to books and blogging I need to find a healthy activity as well...I would like to live another 36 years, and all.  I want to be a better person...to myself and others.  My biggest goal in the next year is going to be trying to get a piece of writing published.  I have these amazing kids in my life already, and maybe that's what I should be focusing on.  Whether I have kids or not - or get married or not - I'm leaving up to fate.  I have tried my part  the last seven years and I feel good with the decisions I have made - good or bad.  I can't wish someone to love me and see the potential in me.  I can't love someone enough for the both of us.  I also won't let someone be the yardstick to which I am measured against.

I am still nervous and anxious about it all, but with a great group of people behind me...I know I won't stumble too far.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Sunday Tea: Writing Exercise: Free Flow Essay: Family

That would be my family's motto!


I don't know if it is because I am an only child, but I have this weird need to be close to my family.  I always wanted to be like the Brady Bunch - only with a lot of relatives visiting.  I remember as a young kid we would be constantly visiting my parents' siblings, parents and cousins.  Then as we kids started attending school it petered out.  And, when my maternal grandmother passed we kind of broke up.  We still rallying when shit hits the fan, for special events and, unfortunately, deaths.  One of my anxieties as a kid was that we all wouldn't be close - hanging out and knowing each other.  In my twenties I was desperately scrabbling to create family events so that we could be more than just relatives sharing DNA.  Instead I became a shrew to them.  While they would never say it to my face, because it is a cute face, they found me overbearing and were not having fun being forced.  And, it would be in my late twenties after breaking up with a boyfriend, I realized, fuck it.  If they don't care I don't care.

As a kid with no siblings and a LOT of me time...I would imagine siblings.  There were always older - protecting and guiding.  I figured a lot of things out on my own - through trial and error, and always more error.  I had to be the protector of my parents and make sure they make through life.  I came out a lot stronger and responsible, but wouldn't t have been nice to have someone go through it first.  I had older cousins but it's not the same as having a sibling.  You are family but they don't know how your every day life is and you don't really share it to them.  It's like your in fight club and you don't discuss fight club.  I think that is what I miss the most - having a peer that understands the daily grind. 

While God did not find it in his will to give my parents more kids, and it seems like all the smart successful ones were takes, so he gave them a durable one.  If you are going to have one child, you want to make sure that one doesn't get damaged or broken.  I am not so sure why God felt the need to constantly show my parents how durable I was.  After one fall down the stairs I think they understood this one has a hard head.   And, I choose to use all the fall down stairs and slides (I tended to gravitate towards the non-slide side) as a reason I am not a doctor or something important.  I was so durable that age two or three my family left me at the airport and no one kidnapped me.  This was the 80s, people! Cute kids in adorable dresses are not left to just wonder.  And I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.  One, I didn't notice that I was no longer with a dozen people that I came with.  Second, I probably had no clue what a cop was and told him my parents names (thank gawd, I thought their names were mom and dad).  Third, I went with the cop in his vehicle and had cookies and milk.  It wasn't that I knew this man was saving me...it was, this man has a cookie and I want it.  Any would-be kidnapper probably saw that I was more trouble than it was worth - and he would be right. 

I have a wild streak of drama in me.  I remember once as a kid my cousin (he shall remain anonymous) threw a Tupperware cup at me.  And, let's just say that my scar healed but that plastic has an imperfection still (ha, my durability continues).  Honestly, I was probably surprised more than in pain, but most likely milked that moment for all it was worth with my Bibi.  That's probably another reason why I was the fun cousin as a child, but annoying as I got older.  I always told the best stories (endorsed by myself) and could lead us in the depths of despair or in a world of trouble.  Sometimes my boyfriend will tell me I am being too dramatic.  Too dramatic??? Hello, I'm Indian.  I grew up watching Bollywood...where death scenes take up 25% of the movie.  You must tell the person(s) exactly everything on your mind before your final breath.  And, I grew up watching Hollywood and Shakespeare...and at age six listening to Opera (though I had no clue what was going on, I guessed that it was not good).  Did I even stand a chance at not being dramatic?

I've rambled on, and kind of forgot my point.......right, family.  So here is what I have concluded about my family.  We share blood but that does not mean we have to like each other and hang out.  I love 99.9% of them and would probably get tested for an organ match for them, but honestly I don't miss them. I enjoyed our time as kids and when Bibi was around but I don't need them to have a family.  I have parents, that I swear gave me gray hairs at 16, that are there for me, and pretty cool.  I have a few cousins that I actually like hanging out with and will make an effort to see make our schedules mesh at some point.  Every month I go to book club and going to book club is super important to me.  I once missed my cousin's day after wedding lunch just so I could make it to book club.  My four friends at book club are my family.  They are the people I tell the good to, but also the bad.  Mostly, because they can sense it out of me, lol.  I've laughed and cried with them and they look at me with the same eyes they always do.  There is my best friend who had a daughter this year and honestly I already love her though I have seen her twice in person.  And, I also feel less anxious because if I die as a crazy book and tea lady I have someone who I can leave that collection to now.  After two years and a half years of working at my present job, the greatest reward has been the group of people I have met.  They get my eccentricities and try to relieve it as much as they can.  Some even get my book speak, and book addiction. And, I have this great woman in my life that is everything I wanted in an older sister.  We don't live in the same country but I have never felt more connected to someone.  Along with our other friend.  She is my older sister in spirit but is age-wise younger.  These two let me know that I not as alone as I thought I was. 

At the end of the day, when I put my pretty little head down...I feel fulfilled with the people in my life.  I am happy with my heart-and-soul family.  They may not be able to give me a kidney, but they would be the first ones looking up other ways to save my life. 

Friday, 16 September 2016

Thoughts and Musings



Messages in the wind...

I am not mad you for the reason you think I am...I am disappointed that you would leave me to face this alone.  That your show of anger is more important to you than standing beside me in the trenches.  You have let me down in that you become the thing you were accused of and must take all of us down.  Instead of standing up and cutting it off you let it fester and become an explosion.  I am the person in the middle that feels both sides and must keep it to myself, suppress my anger and fear, and be practical and good.

****************************************************************************

Where does the love go when you don't want me anymore
Where does my love go when I don't have it to give to you
How can you give up so easily when I stayed and held you up
How can you go when I can only stay
Why did you break vows when I kept all my promises
Why do I care when you don't


*****************************************************************************

Dear You,

I never knew this when you were here...I am like you.  I spent my years wondering who was I like, and why I was so different, but I never saw the answer.  You are the reason I am me.  I write words, you tell tales.  I care too much that it makes my heart ache sometimes, and so did your heart.  We take care of ourselves and make sure other looked after.  We love with our hearts on our sleeves, but can also be quick to be cold when hurt.  We demand high standards in ourselves and others.  We judge when we shouldn't, but also love everyone the same.  I am the good in you, and the flaws we share are in me to not pass on.  You taught me hard work, passion, storytelling and love.  You gave me my mother - so thank you.

Love,
Me

Writing Exercise -15 Minutes - continuing story

As the wind blew, her eighties teased hair moved not an inch. While the front was hair-sprayed to death with a few pieces dangling in her eyes, pretending to be the bangs of an 80s rock band member.  The back - well, she must not a mirror that shows the back.  It looks as though a bird attacked her from behind and left only wreckage behind.  She brushes her index finger beneath her lower lashes.  A piece of her 8-layered mascara has fallen in her eye. This is not new to her.  It has become a reflex.  The spider-like lashes start to flake off the mascara, she brushes it aside, a-la lower eyeliner.  Why doesn't she notice the jet black flakes on her cheekbones?  When she starts to put on her mascara I want to grab the wand and shake it at her.  ONE COAT! Just ONE coat is enough...maybe two, but gently applied.  It seems like she has 45 tubes of mascara - all jet black promising to strengthen and lengthen her lashes.  But then again, the tarantula legs go well with the over-applied blush that makes her seem like she came in from the cold or has had a bit too much.  Her bra is a hand me down from her sister and has her large bosoms swimming and sway in the thick stiff cups of her bra.  It becomes like a game....when will her boobs spill over?  I know I sound like a mean girl and shouldn't really talk as I swing to the other side.  It's just that I look at her and she can be pretty if she toned down everything.   I want her to be her best and have people see her that way, but I can't say anything. First, all her sisters and few of her older nieces have the EXACT same look.  Second, I am in the in-law.  And, so I grit my teeth smile and say "You look great."  She might be doing the same to me.  I have my hair too short in her opinion, and my husband's.  With my colouring and skin I can get away with thin eye-liner, one coat of mascara - black or clear - a bit of pink eye shadow and red-pink lipstick.  While I always wear nail polish my nails are kept short and I use my body lotion as my scent.  When my mother-in-law puts on perfume, the block knows it, but it keeps all rodents at bay. While her clothes are tight mine are loose and probably adds 5 pounds to my already curvy body. 

We get along.  We keep our real thoughts of one another to ourselves and so we can get together and not dislike one another.  I shouldn't complain really.  She lives miles and miles away from my husband and I.  When we first dated, my husband lived with his mother so I saw her a lot.  Seeing someone that much kind of gives you an eyeful of that persons flaws - and how much you want to be with your significant other.  He could become this woman one day - minus the make up and boobs...well, I hope.  When he would be away from the home she would tell me all about her life and her children's.  Things my husband and I had not talked about yet.  After so many of these TMI conversations, I finally broke and had a huge fight with him.  It wasn't about him really, but it was because of him I was breaking.  To his credit, he heard me and so he found his own place and 6 months later we were engaged and then soon after married.  For that concession I have promised myself to be the best wife and daughter-in-law when we have to attend events together.  Tit for tat, after all. 


Continued...

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Writing Exercise - 15 minutes

Dear -

I received your letter today and it brought a smile to my face.  I am so happy that you are enjoying your residency in Toronto.  And, I agree that this time apart is maddening.  I know that when we finish our schooling we will be in a position to have a better life.  I am learning a lot at NYU but sometimes I miss you so much I want to pack up my things and be where you are.  Other than being in the lab and studying I have joined a school club.  I need some human contact not to do with science and medicine.  I love you. Write soon.

love,
Me

Dear -

I don't know what to say.  I reread some of your last letters and I am not sure what signs I missed.  I circled all the times you wrote love, engagement, marriage, future, happy, etc and I cannot see where I went wrong. I have spent the two years apart thinking about you and our future.  And having been together for five years previous, I did not see my world without you.  I wish I could say I am happy that you have found a woman that will do things I cannot right now.  I wish I could say good luck and be well, but until yesterday I was still under the impression that I was that woman that you loved and made you happy.  I would believe that you didn't mean for this to happen, if you didn't spring this on me after you started a relationship with -.  I don't know what to say.

Me


*********************************************************************
15 Minute Mistake/Lifetime Violation

fogginess
falling
heavy weight
throat aching, choking, coughing
more fogginess, lids heavy, blackness
stark white light
thighs bruised, throbbing, stickiness
head aching
blouse ripped, bra missing
drinking, dancing
flirting, fighting?
heart aching
shame
fear





Fiction on Wooing Wednesday



FREE FLOW WRITING EXERCISE (15 minutes of writing)
Written by Kris Kaila


I sometimes think I am alone. That weird kind of everyone is around but you still feel alone.  With the long commute, traffic, packing for the weekend I arrived about 33 minutes later that I thought I would.  She's not happy.  I am not guessing, it is the first thing she asked me.

"You said you would be here at 5."
"That's what I thought initially, but then..."
"Why didn't you pack yesterday before bed?"
"I was tired so I read my book and went to bed."
"So you time to read but not pack?"

And, now I am sitting alone.  Waiting for what? A great weekend where we will do something fun, hang out laughing or spend time alone? Most likely I will face "the consequences" of my actions.  I knew I should have packed when I got home.  Damn, Karin Slaughter for writing must-read books. She's now in her hobby room, not being here.  I could turn on the TV but then I will be watching something without her.  Not sharing our time and experience with the television.  I could read...but that might remind her further I was late.  Looking at my phone is definitely out as then I should spend time with the person I am texting, or be the man-whore for wanting attention by posting ANYTHING on social media.  I am not going to win tonight.  I am going to sit on the bed.  When she comes in I will have a big smile on my face and be super positive and flirty. As the door opens and I am about to say "I missed you" I see that her eyes have changed.  They have this glassy-I'm-trying-to-look-straight-but-look-shift glare.  She's had something to drink already. And, I know tonight is will be gone.  I just have to get her to the bed and make sure she is safe and asleep.  After I get her clothes off and pjs on, I shut the lights at 7pm.  I put on my iPad and finish Karin Slaughter's book.



******************************************************************************

New Poem (still within the 15 min and Free Flow)

 I hear in my head your voice so hard
"If people only knew you...how you really are."
I wonder then...what would people think?
Do I play the victim? Blame others for my own flaws?
Are my perceptions so wrong that I have build my
panic and fear on clouds that really float apart?


I hear in my head your voice so pained
"If people only knew what you said...what you write me"
I ponder then...what would people think?
I say cruel things to make you see me.
I write down your faults so you can feel what I am saying.
Instead of begging at your feet I tear you down to my level.

I hear in my head your voice so malicious.
"If you were only like other girls...any other girl"
 I wonder then...would you loved me better..or at all?
What makes me less than others? What have I done so wrong?
I want to be everything you want to be wanted...loved by you.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Mystery Monday: Dear Mr. M



DEAR MR. M
Written by Herman Koch 
Translated by Sam Garrett
September 6, 2016 (Originally published in 2014); 448 Pages
Hogarth; Picador
Genre: psychological thriller, mystery, suspense, literary

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

★★1/2


"Once a celebrated writer, M's greatest success came with a suspense novel based on a real-life disappearance. The book was called The Reckoning, and it told the story of Jan Landzaat, a history teacher who went missing one winter after his brief affair with Laura, his stunning pupil. Jan was last seen at the holiday cottage where Laura was staying with her new boyfriend. Upon publication, M.'s novel was a bestseller, one that marked his international breakthrough.

That was years ago, and now M.'s career is almost over as he fades increasingly into obscurity. But not when it comes to his bizarre, seemingly timid neighbor who keeps a close eye on him. Why?

From various perspectives, Herman Koch tells the dark tale of a writer in decline, a teenage couple in love, a missing teacher, and a single book that entwines all of their fates. Thanks to The Reckoning, supposedly a work of fiction, everyone seems to be linked forever, until something unexpected spins the "story" off its rails." (From Publisher)

I love psychological thrillers if they are well done.  A friend recommended Koch's The Dinner and I had heard such good things, I thought I would try his newest book first.  After reading many reviews I have come to realize that I picked the wrong book to start with.  Many of those that read his other two books have said that this one is their least favourite...which makes me feel a bit better about still wanting to read The Dinner.  I could not really get into this book.  I liked the premise and but how it all played out just didn't keep me in suspense of any kind.  About 35% into the book, I was reading just to finish it.  I could pick up and read for a bit, but I found it easy to put it down and not long to pick it back up.  This novel is translated from Dutch so maybe some things were lost in translation. It was difficult to keep everything straight as there a few stories and characters. The characters are mostly unlikable, yet very interesting, but also very much like one another in that they were out for themselves.  While this novel was not for me I am looking forward to reading The Dinner.

BUY EBOOK NOW!
BUY HARDCOVER NOW!


k (My Novelesque Life)

Sunday, 11 September 2016

My Own Writing: Free Flow Exercises


I have been playing some true crime shows in the background while blogging and on Goodreads.  Cruelty is an interesting trait...how do people gravitate or choose it over kindness.  Should that not be our natural tendency? 

Here is one scene I keep seeing in my head.  I am mostly writing this down to banish it from my mind.  I'm going to write some free flow stuff this week.  I am gearing up for a writing contest and need some motivation as everything seems stupid when I start to write.  Bear with me.

UNTITLED:
Written by Kris Kaila

He watches her shoulders shake with her crying.  He finds her unattractive.  Does she think her crying will make him comfort her? The thought of holding her while she sobbed made him sick.  Her grandmother died.  It's sad, yes but she's from an older generation.  She still has her parents, so what's her problem?  She doesn't know loss.  I lost my father when I was just in my teens.  I had to grow up quick.  What makes her think she can use this and her "mental illness" to win this fight.  God, I am so sick watching her.  She's crazy is what she is.  Always crying over the loss of her grandmother and saying I don't love her or treat her well.  How can I treat her like princess when she is sitting there like that? She's gained weight...I can see her middle spill over her underwear...another thing she says is due to her grandmother.  I guess I should be lucky she doesn't have her make up running down her face...IF she EVER wore make up.  Oh my god, she is still crying....wailing more like it.  Does she know she is making me sick?  I could use a drink right...gawd her fat is jiggling...I might need something harder.  I want to fling her out of my room but how will that look to others? Why doesn't she go? I told her I don't care.  I made her choose to come here or not to bother to show up at all.  She actually came...didn't she know what I was trying to tell her? Your grandmother has been dead for a few months..."GET OVER IT!!!" Now what?  I have to go pee. I could pat her on her shoulder. Yeah, that seems good. I reach out...pat, pat.

Now she is looking at me like I am her savior...she's not going to go is she? Well, I am getting hungry.  Maybe she will buy us sushi if I tell her to.  I mean if I point out I want to take her out but I don't have cash right now as I paid my rent.  She's not that bad looking.  Plus, there is guaranteed sex, and she is not bad at that...when I tell her what to do.  I'm comforting her.  She is sad and I am being a good boyfriend.

"I love you, babe.  It's going to be all right," I say, brushing her hair back. "You hungry?"

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Free Flow: Poetry



You still do not hear my heart
see my shine
feel my light.
I laid myself bare
open wounds
again for you.
 ------------------

I am the buzzing bee
You are the fragrant flower
Along comes a fluttering butterfly
Beauty comes
Friendship goes
I am the bee alone
You still stay the fragrant flower
with the fluttering butterfly.
---------------------------------

k (My Novelesque Life)




Quick Review for Short Read Saturday!



CITY OF WOLVES
Written by Willow Palecek
2016; 96 Pages
Tor
Genre: fantasy, fiction, novella, steampunk

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

★★1/2

"Alexander Drake, Investigator for Hire, doesn’t like working for the Nobility, and doesn’t prefer to take jobs from strange men who accost him in alleyways. A combination of hired muscle and ready silver have a way of changing a man’s mind. A lord has been killed, his body found covered in bite marks. Even worse, the late lord’s will is missing, and not everyone wants Drake to find it. Solving the case might plunge Drake into deeper danger." (From Publisher) 

I had to think about the rating for awhile.  While I liked the synopsis and characters, I also felt that a lot was not fleshed out.  I kind of hope this is prequel to a future series.  If this was a prequel I would say this is three-star book, but as a standalone it is not really worth the time to even read this novella.

BUY EBOOK NOW! for $2.99
BUY TRADEPAPER NOW!

k (My Novelesque Life)

Picture Book Parade!





SHRUNKEN TREASURES: LITERARY CLASSICS, SHORT, SWEET and SILLY
Written and illustrated by Scott Nash 
2016; 40 Pages
Candlewick Press
Genre: classics, abridged, children's, picture book



Nash takes on some well known - long - classics and makes them into poems.  I am not sure children will appreciate them as much as adults, but they will love the wonderful illustrations and sing song poems. (Ages 5-7)

MAYBE MOTHER GOOSE
Written by Esme Raji Codell 
Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
2016; 32 Pages
Aladdin
Genre: children's, picture book, nursery rhymes 



This collections gives us some wonderful nursery rhymes and then asks questions that are yes, no or maybe!  A fun book for kids learning to read. (Ages 3-5)




POPPY PICKLE
Written and Illustrated by Emma Yarlett
2015; 32 Pages
Templar Publishing
Genre: children's, picture book, imagination

★1/2

 Poppy Pickle has a great imagination - an imagination that gets her in trouble with her parents.  When Poppy is sent to her room to clean her big imagination takes over.  Only thing that would get her out of this pickle is to make her parents see her imagination.  LOVE the pictures and story in this book.  It is so fun and smart.  A great book for any child with a BIG imagination. (Ages 4-6)


SOPHIE'S SQUASH GO TO SCHOOL
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller 
Illustrated by Anne Wilsford
2016; 40 Pages
Schwartz & Wade.
Genre: children's, picture book, friendship



Sophie is going to school with her squash.  Her squash are her best friends and feels like she doesn't need to make any more friends.  Over time she starts to get lonely, especially when the squash go to bed.  A good book for kids who have imaginary friends.  (Ages 3-5)



THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK!
Written and Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
2016; 40 Pages
Chronicle Books
Genre: children's, picture book, reading



Duck finds a book but discovers there are no pictures...at first he rejects the book.  Then he slowly opens the book and learns to decipher the words. Along with his friend, Bug, they start to find that books without pictures are fun too!  I love this quirky book and the illustrations are amazing. (Ages 3-6)


DRAGON WAS TERRIBLE
Written by Kelly DiPucchio

Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
2016; 40 Pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Genre: children's, picture book, dragons



Dragon is terrible - so terrible he scribbles in books!  The King and his subjects have tried to get him to behave but have had no luck.  Can anyone tame Dragon.  A fun little book that will be a great hit with fans of dragon. (Ages 3-6)


SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK)
Written by Julie Falatko
Illustrated by Tim Miller
2016; 40 Pages
Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: children's, picture book, humour



Snappsy is happily going along with his daily life until an annoying narrator starts to exaggerate his actions.  Snappsy is not having any of that and it leads to a party that the narrator is not invited too.  I enjoyed this funny story and liked the images.  (Ages 3-6)


ELLIOT
Written by Julie Pearson
Illustrated by Manon Gauthier
2016; 32 Pages
Pajama Press
Genre: children's, picture book, families, adoption

★1/2

Elliot's parents love him but do not know how to take care of him.  He soon finds himself in another family.  While they understand him he wants to go home.  He is sent home after his parents learn how to take care of him.  Unfortunately, his parents still don't understand him.  He goes to another family that understand him but it is still the same.  Will Elliot ever find a forever forever family?  I liked this book about foster and adoptive families.  It explains things in a simple way that children can understand.  A great book! (Ages 4-6)


THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES
Written by Michelle Cuevas 

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
2016; 40 Pages
Dial Books
Genre: children's, picture book, friendship



Oh my gosh, I loved this book!  The writing is beautiful accompanied with gorgeous illustrations. The Uncorker of ocean bottles makes sure that messages go to the correct loved one.  The one thing he would love is a message of his own.  One day he finds a message with no name and starts to search around the village to see who it belongs to.  Parents: warning you may get a tear in your eye. (Ages 4-6)


ABERDEEN
Written and Illustrated by Stacey Previn
2016, 40 Pages
Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: children's, picture book, adventure



Aberdeen meant to stay in the yard until a red balloon floated by him.  The next thing he knows he is in an unknown place, and his mom is going to be very worried.  Adorable story and illustrations! (Ages 3-5)




DADDIES ARE AWESOME
Written by Meredith Costain
Illustrated by Polona Lovsin
2016; 32 Pages
Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: children's, picture book, dads



A fun book about why daddies are awesome! (Ages 2-4)



SECRET TREE FORT
Written and Illustrated Brianne Farley 
2016; 32 Pages
Candlewick Press
Genre: children's, picture book, adventure, imagination



When two sisters were sent outside to play one finds a nice tree to read under.  While the other sister wants to play with her sister.  When her sister does not pay any attention she starts to imagine an awesome secret tree fort and telling her every detail.  Will her sister notice her?  LOVED the illustrations.  It reminded me of picture books from my own childhood.  A cute funny story I would recommend to anyone! (Ages 3-6)


THE CRANKY BALLERINA
Written and Illustrated by Elise Gravel 
2016; 32 Pages
Harper Collins
Genre: children's, picture book



Ada hates ballet and every Saturday she wakes up cranky.  Then one Saturday when she tries a ballet move she spins out the door into a karate class.  In karate her moves are great!  A cute book about finding what you are good at doing.  (Ages 3-6)




k (My Novelesque Life)

Quick Review: Zombies at Bedtme!


THERE'S A ZOMBIE IN THE BASEMENT
Written and Illustrated by Stan Yan
2016; 32 Pages
Mascot Books
Genre: children's, picture book, fantasy


(I received an ARC from the AUTHOR in exchange for an honest review.)
★★★★
 Milo cannot sleep knowing that there are zombies in the basement.  His parents would like to get some sleep so try to ease that fear.  I enjoyed this humorous picture book.  The illustrations are great as well.  While you would think this is not a great book for bedtime...you would be wrong. In fact, this is a great book for kids who have fears of what is under the bed and goes bump in the night.
BUY HARDCOVER NOW! 
k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 9 September 2016

Quick Review: The Poet's Dog



THE POET'S DOG
Written by Patricia MacLachlan
September 13, 2016; 96 Pages
Katherin Tegen Books
Genre: children's, chapter book, animals, fantasy


(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS in exchange for an honest review.)
​​
★★★★
I do not think I can do the synopsis justice so am going to use the publisher blurb:
"Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.

Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone. 

As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?" (From Publisher)

What a beautiful book. I know many reviewers have said that the sparseness of this novella is a big downfall.  I do agree in that I felt like I wanted to know so much more about the characters and the back stories. But it was more of a want than a need.  This story was about a particular moment in time and I think MacLachlan did a great job in putting so much into a small space.  The writing reminded me a bit of Alice Monroe's conciseness.  I think this would be a great book for parents to read with their children.  (side note: I guess I am not a true poet, lol).

BUY EBOOK September 13, 2016!
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k (My Novelesque Life) 
 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Thriller Thursday with Stripped Bare


STRIPPED BARE
(Kate Fox: #1)
Written by Shannon Baker
September 6, 2016; 288 Pages
Forge Books
Genre: romantic suspense, mystery

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS in exchange for an honest review.)

★★1/2

 Kate Fox, call me Kate Connors, loves working and living on Nebraska Sandhills cattle ranch. The heir, who is also her husband and the Sheriff, is the love of her life.  To complete their family is her orphaned teenage niece.  Things are going well...till her husband is shot and may also be the one who killed her niece's grandfather.  With the election for Sheriff coming up she also has to step up for at the debates.  With everything on her plate can she solve the murder too?

This novel tries to be a "western" Stephanie Plum series.  Right from the beginning you kind of know things are not what they seem to Kate.  You want to feel sorry for her but she just doesn't evoke sympathy from readers.  I also found this book a bit confusing at times...she mentions the name "Elvis" but don't know who that is right off...and people in the town also gets a bit muddled as everyone seems to be "tied" to everyone at some point.  It caused me to reread many passages and get a bit frustrated with the book. I found some things to be a bit unrealistic as things do not get explained.  The ending of the book does set up the book but unfortunately, I am going to pass on rest of the series.  I was able to finish the book and did feel better that I figured out the killer. I see there are quite a few positive reviews so this may just be my opinion.  You may want to give it a two chapter test as it stays the same throughout the book.

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Q&A with Shannon Baker
*provided by publisher (questions are not mine)


The Nebraska Sandhills are such a unique setting for a mystery! Can you tell us the story of how Stripped Bare came to take place there?
I arrived in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1 as a 21 year-old bride straight from college.   Even after living there for 20 years, I was always an outsider, but eventually, I came to appreciate the Sandhills’ subtle charms.  

Finding myself on an isolated ranch with the nearest neighbor five miles away as the crow flies, and only a newborn and cows for company, I started to write because it seemed like a harmless outlet.  At first, in private, then I began to sell essays and short stories. I wrote a humor column for a regional weekly paper and wrote feature articles and even covered sports for another regional paper. I started working on novels and luckily stumbled into Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

When I was the second to the last person to find out about my husband’s affair, I left the Sandhills for more welcoming places. I kept writing, publishing a few short stories and a novel in 2010. I sold the Nora Abbott Mysteries, and those books are set in great places. But I always wanted to write about the Sandhills and its unique flavor. One day,  Kate Fox walked into my head, and I started to tell her story. I’m really glad I waited, so I could write about Nebraska with humor and affection.

You have so much experience in just living in the area - but was there anything surprising you found in conducting research for your story?
Get this… you don’t have to have ANY training or meet any requirements to be elected county sheriff in Nebraska. None.  After you’re elected, you must pass an 8-week course within a year and until you’re certified, you can’t do anything, not even a traffic stop, so the adjoining counties and State Patrol take care of your duties until you pass.

How do you hope your novel will affect your readers?
I  hope readers will be transported out of their real world and plop down in the prairie; feel the sunshine on their face, smell the manure, get a sense of what it’s like to be where there are no people crowding around. I want them to laugh at the quirky characters, feel sad, happy and scared for Kate. I want them to see the Sandhills and think of the folks there as real people - friends and maybe even not friends.


What do you think will surprise readers most about the first book in the Kate Fox mystery series?
When I moved to the Sandhills, I hadn’t been anywhere like it before and so much surprised me, I want to bring that discovery of the unique way of life to readers. Folks who live so close to the land and so far from people have a rhythm of life very different than urban or suburbanites. It’s idyllic in many ways and in other ways, it’s not so great. The whodunit will hopefully keep readers guessing.  

What fascinates you about writing?
I started out (and continue to be) a reader. I love nothing more than to get lost in a story. Writing takes that to another level. For as far back as I remember, I’d tell myself stories as I went to sleep. I was always the hero and looked fabulous, was brave and smart and always got the love. After I moved to the Sandhills, I spent hours driving a tractor in the hay field and I made up adventurous romances in which I always starred. So writing fiction was something I’d done in my head for my whole life.

When I started actually writing the words down, I found out how hard it is and how much a person has to know to make a story others want to read. So, in the beginning, it was just telling myself a story and now, what fascinates me, is how it all works. How to take craft and make it (not into art, because that’s pretentious for what I create) a worthy story.

What does a typical work day look like for you?
My ideal work day would be pounding out my daily quota of 2000 words by 10 or 11. Reading a novel for a couple hours, taking a break and walking the dog or yoga, then marketing and emails in the afternoon. But...that’s not what happens most days. It’s more chaotic than that. I generally end up entrenched in long emails and Facebook,  am pulled away from my desk for a number of things, including housework and for 5-mile desert runs with our psychotic dog, Jezebel. In the summer, I MUST jump in the pool at least five times a day, minimum. But if I’m working on a draft, my 2000 words is non-negotiable. It just might take all day.

You have also authored three Nora Abbott Mysteries. Can you tell me a little bit about that series?
It’s a fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian spirituality, environmental issues, and murder. Tainted Mountain takes place in Flagstaff, Arizona and deals with manmade snow on peaks sacred to 12 tribes.

Broken Trust is set in Boulder, Colorado where Nora takes a job as director of a corrupt environmental trust and discovers a plot that could destroy the Ecuadorian rainforest.

Tattered Legacy (the best written of the bunch) takes place in Moab, Utah and involves a Mormon sect, expanding the borders of Canyonlands National Park, and even aliens.

What is your next project?
I just sold a short story to Hex Publishers for their Blood Business anthology releasing in 2017. Kate Fox #2 , Dark Signal, will release in 2017. This time, the murder takes place on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
 

k (My Novelesque Life)
 
 

Toddlers, Tots and Teens on Thursday!

This Tuesday a few gorgeous picture books were released...this is my thoughts on some of the those new releases.

LUCY AND COMPANY
Written and Illustrated by Marianne Dubuc
September 6, 2016; 56 Pages
Kids Can Press
Genre: children's, picture book, animals, friendship

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS in exchange for an honest review.)

★★★★

Lucy and company includes, Marcel (mouse), Henry (rabbit), Dot (turtle), and new friend, Adrian (snail).  This collection includes three stories.  The first one is about friendship, snacks and sharing.  The second story is about a treasure hunt and the third is about Hatchlings.  The illustrations are well done and the stories are adorable.  A fun read for the Fall!

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ON OUR WAY TO OYSTER BAY: MOTHER JONES AND HER MARCH FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHT
Written by Monica Kulling 
Illustrated by Felicita Sala
September 6, 2016; 36 Pages
Kids Can Press
Genre: children's, picture book, history, children's right

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS in exchange for an honest review.)

★★★★1/2

Mother Jones, Mary Harris Jones, was a teacher and also a dressmaker.  After the loss of her husband, children and dress shop, Mary started to work with labour organizations and became a champion for labour unions.  In this picture book we see how Mother Jones organized marches for protesting the lax laws of child labour.  The illustrations in this book are gorgeous and the story - while is for older tots - is a great one for teachers and parents.  It is a great learning tool to teach kids about history in a fun way.  I highly recommend this picture book!

More on Mother Jones!

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A SQUIGGLY STORY
Written by Andrew Larsen 
Illustrated by Mike Lowery
September 6, 2016; 32 Pages
Kids Can Press

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

★1/2

 A super cute story about a young boy learning to write a story.  He wants to be like his big sister who reads and writes stories.  She advises him to try as every word starts with a letter - which he does know.  I thought the siblings were adorable and any book on writing and reading is great in my opinion.

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MAX AT NIGHT
(Max: #2)
Written and Illustrated by Ed Vere
September 1, 2016; 32 Pages
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; Puffin
Genre: children's, picture book, bedtime, cats

(I received an ARC from the EDELWEISS in exchange for an honest review.)

★★★★

Max is tired and it is his bedtime.  He has had his milk, brushed his teeth and said goodnight to everyone but the moon.  He cannot see moon and is unable to sleep until he find the moon.  This story is a modern version of Goodnight moon and just as adorable.  I recommend this book to any parent who read bedtime stories.


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k (My Novelesque Life)

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Suspense Saturday with All Fall Down



ALL FALL DOWN
Written by Tom Bale
September 1, 2016; 359 Pages
Bookouture 
Genre: suspense, thriller, mystery 

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

 
 At a Turner family barbecue a man stumbles onto their property, bloody and barely alive.  After the man dies the police start to investigate.  The Turner family has some secrets - some that may be on the dangerous side.  Could this dead man be tied to one of the Turners? And can they keep themselves from being the next victim?

I read great reviews on Bale's previous novel, See How They Run, so I was happy to request and review this suspense novel.  I thought the novel was okay and the suspense kept me going...the pace was a bit slow and the characters seemed to have no personal traits.  (ie: the names seem to be the only difference between characters).  And by the end I just wanted to see where it was all going I almost missed how neat and quickly it was all tied up.  I read some other reviews on this book - more good than bad - I saw one familiar pharse "not as good as See How They Run".  While I did not exactly enjoy this novel I am definitely down for his previous book before making any judgements.  I would tell readers if you cannot get into this book, I would pass on it as my feelings never changed from page 10 to 300.

BUY EBOOK NOW! $3.99!
 
k (My Novelesque Life)

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Thrilled Thursday: The Things We Wish Were True



When I read the synopsis of The Things We Wish Were True I was intrigued by it's vagueness.  Of course it was a "wish for it" request on NetGalley.  I have had two "wishes" come true but I don't get too attached.  Last night I had planned to read Tom Bale's All Fall Down for today's review but that was not to be.  As I was finishing up on Goodreads I see I have received an new email at 11:45pm.  I have just had my wish granted...and guess what? The book is releasing tomorrow.  So I think I will just read a chapter of it but go back to All Fall Down

THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE
Written by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
September 1, 2016; 276 Pages
Lake Union Publishing
Genre: fiction, mystery

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

★★★★

 This novel is hard to give a synopsis for...so I will use the publishers...


"In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.
 
From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?" (From Publisher)

After reading a chapter I stayed up till 2am to finish reading this book.  This book is not a suspense mystery - it is not causing you to flip pages till you find out how it all turns out.  Instead, this book - divided by character's point-of-view not chapters - keeps you engaged so that you just keep reading until it ends.  I liked that the characters were so realistic in this book and were not good or bad people.  The situations and secrets are not shocking but the consequences are engaging and sometimes heartbreaking.  There were a few uncomfortable moments for me in this book, but more because Whalen is a great writer.  I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good story.

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k (My Novelesque Life)