Monday, July 27, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: THE INN AT ROSE HARBOR, by Debbie Macomber

Don't you love to return to a favorite place and meet new friends, discover new details and treasures?

THE INN AT ROSE HARBOR takes us back to Cedar Cove, where we get to run into a few good friends, revisit a few places we've come to love.

Jo Marie Rose is a recent widow -- and even more tragic, a recent bride. After her soldier husband dies on a mission in Afghanistan, she is ready to start over. She buys a B&B in Cedar Cove.

Her first guests, Joshua and Abby, grew up in Cedar Cove but have been gone for years, each with their own painful past to deal with. As Jo Marie gets to know her neighbors and runs into people readers have come to know and love in Cedar Cove, her healing begins -- and so does the healing of her guests. As each finds a chance at love, there is the promise of a healing relationship and hope in the future for Jo Marie as well.

What can I say? Debbie Macomber always delivers, and it's a bonus when she takes you back to meet old friends. A good book for putting your feet up on a warm Sunday afternoon and just read straight through.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: THE STEAMPUNK BIBLE, by Jeff VanderMeer

THE STEAMPUNK BIBLE by Jeff VanderMeer is a great resource touching on multiple aspects of the whole steampunk culture -- music, books, movies, clothes, gizmos and gadgets, art, and the history.

Full of photos and illustrations, it's a treasure trove for those wanting to understand what's involved, those who are considering dipping a toe into the culture -- and for those who want to try writing steampunk and aren't quite sure what's acceptable, what's considered "in" and what violates every precept -- and could be the start of a new facet or division within the whole steampunk universe.

It's kind of overwhelming -- but fascinating. I highly recommend starting your tour of the whole phenomenon here, if only to find the authors and titles who are at the core or genesis of the culture and mindset, so you can read their books and short stories. I have a lot more books on my to-be-read list now, thanks to this book. And maybe a little better understanding of what I need to do to make my book true to the flavor, look, and feel of steampunk.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: TOP SECRET TWENTY-ONE, by Janet Evanovich

Sometimes I think the relationships and the wacky characters in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books are the best part. They're firmly established, so all the writer has to do is create the situation to put them in, thrown down the obstacles, wind them up and let them go.

This time, Stephanie is in danger she didn't put herself in through dumb luck or kultziness -- Ranger is in danger, and Stephanie steps in to help. That kind of changes the dynamic. And she's learned a few things over the years, so it makes sense when she actually does something smart -- even when it means risking her life. Of course, Ranger and Morelli are there to team up to protect her, and roll their eyes and glare at each other, and you can almost hear them wondering why they put up with her.

Because they love her, just like readers do. This particular adventure or misadventure or romp or whatever you want to call it is a lot more serious than previous books. Maybe Stephanie is starting to grow up? I saved this one for a reward for getting a number of goals accomplished, writing-wise and promotion-wise, and I actually read it in one day. I haven't indulged like that in a long time. Well worth it! Always fun to return to visit old friends and watch them scramble and scream, and chuckle at their foibles. If you haven't read any of the books yet, I highly recommend you start at the beginning, just because the relationships have grown through the years, and you don't want to miss a single stumbling step along the way.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: ANOMALY, by Tonya Kuper

Some of the best books by new writers that I've read in the last year have been YA, especially YA fantasy or paranormal. This debut novel by Tonya Kuper is right up there.

I like how she explains the "rules" of the secret race/society that call themselves the Oculi, without halting the action and pace with a data dump. There's humor, fear, anger, danger, betrayal, hunger for belonging and being normal -- if there really is such a thing -- and two sides of a terrifying transition in a young woman's life, told through two viewpoints. I like Reid and Josie both, and certainly hope the author comes up with a couple more books (at least) about their further adventures.

The Oculi are people who have essentially the power to make what they see in their imaginations real. That can be terrifying when you don't realize you have the power -- and it can be funny. It can also be dangerous when a group decide they have the right to control everyone else with the power, and decide who lives and who dies. What's worse is when those who stand against them might just be no better a choice, no less dangerous and domineering. And there's Josie, who has been told a lot of lies all her life, supposedly to protect her, but isn't quite sure who to trust anyone.

Confused? Don't be -- I just don't want to ruin anything for you, if you like paranormal and you like YA and you like discovering new writers -- because you'll like this book.