Monday, March 31, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: A TURN IN THE ROAD by Debbie Macomber

One of the things that makes Debbie Macomber one of my favorite writers is that so many of her books are linked -- meaning that chances are good when you pick up one of her more recent novels you'll run into an old friend. Someone who appeared as a secondary character in a previous book.

In A TURN IN THE ROAD, it's the return of a Blossom Street friend. In a previous book, Bethanne Hamlin was staggering under the breakup of her marriage and fighting to pay the mortgage so she and her children can stay in their home. She launched a business organizing parties, regained her sense of self-worth and discovered talents she had put aside for years for the sake of her husband and family.

Now, six years later, Bethanne is a successful businesswoman, preparing for her son's wedding. She is still on good terms with her ex-mother-in-law, and when Ruth declares she is driving cross-country to her 50th high school reunion, Bethanne cares enough that she doesn't try to talk her out of something she dearly wants, but offers to drive with her. Her daughter, Annie, decides to come with them after her boyfriend, instead of proposing marriage as expected, announces he's going to tour Europe for a year. All three generations of Hamlin women have major issues to deal with and decisions to make. Bethanne's ex-husband wants to reconcile -- should she let him? She definitely needs to get away and have time and distance to figure things out. The people the trio meet along the way and their adventures are fun, heart-warming, and totally believable. You'll be rooting for all three as they make decisions about life and love.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: THANKLESS IN DEATH by JD Robb

There are some authors for whom I break my vow not to buy new books until I reduce my to-be-read bookshelf/pile to a semi-manageable level. JD Robb with her In Death series is one of them.

THANKLESS IN DEATH takes place in a very short time period leading up to Thanksgiving. But that's not the reason for the title. This time, the villain's face and name and thoughts are displayed for readers to follow along and pass their own judgment. Not even a quarter of the way through the book, you'll be rooting for Eve Dallas and her team to catch up with the ungrateful, self-righteous, egotistical, sociopath snot and make him face justice for what he's done. Harsh judgment? Hey, the jerk killed his own parents because he wasn't getting his way and they were tired of him freeloading on them and were about to give him a deadline to get a job and get out of the house. And that was just the start. The sad thing is knowing some people with the same mind-set, who believe the universe revolves around them, and they are justified in punishing anyone who doesn't conform to their will. Kind of frightening, to wonder what little disappointment would send them down the same bloody trail, all the while believing themselves justified.

While I love seeing self-centered snots get their justified punishment, the best part of the In Death books is watching Dallas and Roarke, Peabody, Dr. Mira, and the rest of the wide cast of regulars interact, work together, tease and gripe and care for each other. I loved the ongoing feud within the detective bullpen over psychedelic ties wild enough to make your eyes bleed. There's a new hardback in the series coming out soon, but I'm going to be good and clear off my reading pile and wait until it comes out in paperback. But it'll be hard!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: SWEETHEART BRIDE by Lenoa Worth

Are you stunned? Shocked? I'm actually reading and reporting on a book for FUN!

As I've progressed in my writing journey and my skills and pickiness levels grow, I've grown away from category romance. But there are some authors I can always depend on for a good read that doesn't feel contrived and two-dimensional.

Lenora Worth is one of those category romance authors. I especially like the fact that she sets up a family and community that you get to know a little more with each book. SWEETHEART BRIDE starts at the wedding of Alma and Julien -- probably need to find that book and read their story -- and introduces the next sister, Brenna, and the wounded, doubting young man who will help her heal as she helps him heal, Nick.

He is into restoration of buildings, while Brenna is an artist and works with art. Her skills are just what he needs to fulfill the requirements of his mysterious employer (who I'm hoping will show up in the next book and fall in love with sister #3, Callie!). Nick has secrets and wounds that need healing, and Brenna is aching from a broken engagement to a man who definitely wasn't worthy of her. They have to fight for their love -- fighting against themselves. Now, that's a good story. Of course, being trapped in a halfway restored mansion in one of Louisiana's hurricanes helps ...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: WRITING CONVERSATIONS: Spend 365 Days with Your Favorite Authors ... by Cherie K. Miller

Okay, big confession time: When I picked up this book on Kindle -- either very inexpensive/on sale, or maybe even free at the time (it's been so long since I went on a book-ordering frenzy when I first got my iPad...) I thought this book was about writing conversation, as in writing dialogue.


This is MUCH more useful.

This is a collection of bits of wisdom from published authors, advice, sharing of their experiences, lessons learned, glimpses into their approach to writing. Conversations ABOUT writing. And what's really useful is that there are several indexes, so if you're looking for a specific topic, a specific author, or even reference to a specific book, you can find it.

Niftily (no, that isn't a word, but writers are allowed to make up words when necessary!) these bits of wisdom and help are divided up kind of like those page-a-day calendars, so on January 1, you get a bit of wisdom. Then move on to January 2. On through the year. Kind of like a writer's morning devotions. Of course, I devoured it in 5 days, but I'll be back. Pick it up. You never know when you'll need a bit of encouragement, a new bit of insight into a problem you're facing in your writing process, or a glimpse into how your favorite author thinks.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: HOW I ARE BECOMED A VERY MUCH GOODER AUTHOR, by Sevastian Winters

Uh, yeah, that IS the title of the book.
And yeah, this IS a book about becoming a better -- gooder -- writer.

It catches your attention, doesn't it?
That's the point -- and one of the many lessons, sometimes harsh, but very necessary, that Winters conveys in this book.

The subtitle says it all: On the BUSINESS of Writing, Editing, Publishing and Promoting.

If you want to "make it" as an author, that means getting people to read your books. It means writing books people want to read. It means making sure people know your name and are interested enough to give you a chance -- and then making sure that they can't put down the book once they start reading.

Warning: You'll wince in places at his language, his assessment of the true talent of popular authors, and the attitudes some people have toward other genres and approaches to writing. That's okay -- he's conveying what works for him, what he has learned in his years of experience and struggling. Like I tell people regarding other writing books: Take what works for you, don't let anyone pressure you into doing things their way, and throw out what doesn't apply to you.

But read this book. You might find that "ah ha!" moment you've been hunting for.