Wednesday, October 19, 2016 | By: Taffy

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Opening line:
She heard the motorbike first, then the galloping horse--two distant points of noise in the darkness, converging on her as she ran."

Oh. My. Word.
This is a debut book? How long did it take Ms. James to write it? And how did she keep everything from settings to caste systems to characters straight in her head? le sigh.

GILDED CAGE is set in an alternate, dark, dystopian England where the where the aristocracy has special magical powers called Skill and everyone else is forced to give up ten years of their lives in serving the rich. They mostly work in terrible work camps with terrible conditions. A few serve in the homes as servants.
But the world and the magic and the intrigue and the twists! I was hooked from the beginning. I had a hard time putting this story down and craved time to pick it up and read it again.
Like other reviewers said, there isn't much romance but that just builds up the possiblities for the next book, right?
When I finished I was ready to read it again. When will the next book come out??

Just to warn you this is a dark story and it's hard to read about how people treat each other, which shows the great writing skill from Ms. James, right?

L: No
S: No
L: a little

Thanks to netgalley for the early read!
Friday, September 30, 2016 | By: Taffy

Reading Banned Books 2016

Last election season in our town was ugly. Neighbors against neighbors, ugly words and voices bantered around social media, friends taking a swipe at each other turned our little town crazy and divided.
One person said, "It's only politics. When the elections are over, we will all be friends again." I was shocked at this sentiment from a certain group (I can do a whole other blog post on why it's okay for adults to be cyber bullies but we teach our children not to be). They had no idea how destructive and degrading their words and comments were. Words have a lasting effect, for good or bad.

Aren't books the same?

There are a few banned books I've read or even been assigned in school. Some I can't figure out why in the world they would be banned; some make sense. But I choose if I will read those books. I find it ironic how many of the banned books I was assigned to read in school.

I appreciate parents who are concerned with the books assigned to their children or that show up in the school libraries. To me it shows they are involved with their children. Just this week, a parent at one of my children's schools brought up a concern about MONSTER, the graphic book. Her child is black and adopted. She was concerned about what the book taught and wanted it banned from the library. A team was formed of parents, PTA, SCC and teachers to read the book and give their insight.

The only issue with these kind of teams is that we are all different people with different tastes in books and stories. Someone won't like it, someone will love it. At the same time, this is a good thing. I think the process is a good one and actually works.

 Last year during the election season a parent came in concerned about the R rated movies in the library and wanted them banned. Then she went down the slippery slope of asking for the librarians, or a group of concerned citizens, to read all the books in the library and getting rid of the "bad" ones. The director immediately said no. There wasn't enough time or people to handle such a request.

Is it censorship if we ask a library to take a certain book or movie out of the public library? Is it censorship if I ask an English teacher to assign a different book to my child because the one she's being graded on is offensive to me?

 I want my children to read. I want them to understand the world outside of our home and their skin. At the same time, I want to protect them. My non-reader devoured the entire TWILIGHT series in a week. I wasn't about to stop her.  Then she read the HUNGER GAMES series shortly after that. And guess what? We were able to talk about boyfriends, healthy relationships and violence. I'm not saying I want her to read FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY, but I'm willing to be there for her to talk to about tough subjects. My mom wasn't emotionally available to talk about the birds and the bees or really anything sensitive. I learned a lot from books. I don't want that for my children. I want to be the one they come to ask questions.

The review group hasn't got back together yet so I'm not sure what will happen. I think the book is okay to stay in the library. We will see what others say. I do understand the mom's concern though. I hope she was able to take the time to talk to her child about the book and the questions s/he had. In this world our children need us. They need an advocate. Someone in their corner, listening to them, encouraging them, cheering them on. I want my children to know they can count on me, their mom.

What do you think?

What banned books have you read?

Do you think it should be banned?

Are there any books you'd rather not have your children read?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 | By: Taffy

How to title every book you ever write

I ran across this post last week and had to share it. It's hilarious! And actually might be a good idea. I tried out their ideas and came up with a few titles for my books.

Here's the link to the article:

How to title every book you ever write.

Here's the first example:

The Promising Debut Novel
Title: (Scent of your deodorant or shampoo) on (street you grew up on)
Example: Almonds on High Street

(If neither your deodorant or shampoo have a named scent, substitute the word “Mornings.”)
Now on to the second novel. Hailed as a new literary talent and tired of being asked if your first book’s main character was based on yourself, you’ll set your next book very slightly in the past (like the ’80s or ’90s, don’t get carried away) and it will center around a family secret. You have two title options, depending on whether your protagonist is male or female.

The Disappointing Sophomore Effort
Title: The (your father’s profession)’s Daughter
Example: The Locksmith’s Daughter

Title: Get out your favorite album. Rank the tracks in order of how much you like them. Take the fourth song. Print out the lyrics to that song and black out any that are well known. From the remaining lyrics, choose either the first or second half of a complete thought. Note: It must be meaningless and out of context.
Example: Funny How It Never Felt So Good

The Legacy-Building Important Literary Novel
Title: The (your first job title)s
Example: The Carhops
(If your first job title isn’t that evocative, like “event planner” or “clerk,” add the county in which you live. Example: The Event Planners of Cook County.)

Another Literary Novel to Prove the Last One Wasn’t a Fluke
Title: (your birth month)(third most populous city in the first foreign country you ever visited)
Example: December in Marseille

Your Agent Pointed Out That You Could Make Some Money Without Writing Anything New
Title: You’ll need a purse or briefcase or, if you don’t have either, open your messiest desk drawer. Close your eyes, reach in and grab whatever is in the very bottom or back. Add “The Wisdom of” before that item.
Example: The Wisdom of Eyeglasses

Here are my book titles taken from the above helps/examples:

Summerberries on California Street

Mornings on California Street

The Teacher's Daughter

And the Tables Turn

Santa's Helper

August in Taipei

The Wisdom of the Tiny Notebook

hahaha! These are great! Some sound a little racy. Maybe I'll write more romance. 

What about you? What were some of your titles?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 | By: Taffy

What have you read this summer? 5 of my favorites

I can't believe the leaves are turning red, orange and yellow. I'm not ready! The air is cooler, the house is cooler and I threw on a cardigan today. I love layering in the fall but I'm still not ready!

So, I'm going to talk about the books I read over the summer.

First off, I didn't get as much reading done as I thought. And I was like:

Ok. Not really. I just liked the gif.

I started the Stormlight series by Brandon Sanderson. How is it possible that I want to be a strange and more courageous person because of some writer's characters? But I did.  That's impressive to me.
I choose to listen to the first book because I'm not sure my arms are strong enough to lug around his books. ;)

  THE WAY OF KINGS (Stormlight Archives #1)

Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of Knights fell, their Shardblade swords and Shardplate armor still transform men into near-invincible warriors. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
In one such war on ruined Shattered Plains, slave Kaladin struggles to save his men and fathom leaders who deem them expendable, in senseless wars where ten armies fight separately against one foe.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Fascinated by ancient text The Way of Kings, troubled by visions of ancient times, he doubts his sanity.
Across the ocean, Shallan trains under eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece Jasnah. Though Shallan genuinely loves learning, she plans a daring theft. Her research hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

I got HAG-SEED from netgalley and wasn't sure about what I was getting myself into. Wow! I was surprised how much I liked it. It's a retelling of The Tempest by Shakespeare. I can't remember when  the last time was I read that play? This retelling actually helped me understand The Tempest better.
If you like Shakespeare, Margaret Atwood and literary readings, I think you'll like this book. One of my favorite parts? The swearing! It's not what you think...

HAG-SEED by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed is a re-visiting of Shakespeare’s play of magic and illusion, The Tempest, and will be the fourth novel in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.
The Tempest is set on a remote island full of strange noises and creatures. Here, Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, plots to restore the fortunes of his daughter Miranda by using magic and illusion -- starting with a storm that will bring Antonio, his treacherous brother, to him. All Prospero, the great sorcerer, needs to do is watch as the action he has set in train unfolds.
In Margaret Atwood’s ‘novel take’ on Shakespeare’s original, theatre director Felix has been unceremoniously ousted from his role as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival. When he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison, the possibility of revenge presents itself – and his cast find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever.
There’s a lot of Shakespearean swearing in this new Tempest adventure…but also a mischief, curiosity and vigour that’s entirely Atwood and is sure to delight her fans.

This is a debut author and I think she has a bright future in writing! This is a book about a pirate who is a girl and the captain of her ship. It's a great read. I'm just going to leave my favorite quote for you all to read.

He finally turns toward me at the contact. "How do you know so much? How are"

"I am me because I choose to be me. I am what I want. Some people say you have to find yourself. Not I. I believe we create ourselves to be what we want. Any aspect of ourselves that we don not like can be altered if we make an effort."

 DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING by Tricia Levenseller

 A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

 I love a well-written book with multiple points of view that all have to converge, or crash, into one another. Finley Montgomery can see and hear ghosts and ghostly things. But this isn't necassarily a ghost story. It's more a psychological thriller with some paranormal. 

INK AND BONES by Lisa Unger

Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

As a harsh white winter moves into The Hollows, Finley and Eloise are drawn into the investigation, which proves to have much more at stake than even the fate of a missing girl. As Finley digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, she is forced to examine the past, even as she tries to look into the future. Only one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

I really, really love anthologies. If you ever get a chance to read one from this group, do it!  

From the publisher of the #1 Amazon bestselling A Timeless Romance Anthology series in Clean Romance.

Join three bestselling Regency Romance authors, Regina Scott, Donna Hatch, and Sarah M. Eden, for three new novellas in SUMMER HOUSE PARTY.

Other books in the Timeless Regency Collections:
A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS (Coming October 2016)

Saturday, August 13, 2016 | By: Taffy

Accidentally Me by Kim Karras BLOG TOUR!

WANTED: Pretend stalker. No experience required. Tall, dark, and quirky preferred. Sabrina is desperate to go to her dream college, but her parents want her to stay close to home. If she wants to maintain her perfect child image, Sabrina must break rules that even her rebel sister keeps . .

About the author:
Kim Karras writes contemporary fiction for adults and teens. Follow her at for notes on life, writing, and motherhood..

Find reviews, interviews and other blogs on the tour here:

 Accidentally Me” blog tour schedule:
August 10: Singing Librarian Books | Literary Time Out
August 11: Inklings and Notions | Geo Librarian
August 12: Write, Writing, Written
August 13: Live to Read
August 14:
August 15: My Book a Day
August 16: Emily King | Getting Your Read On
August 17: Katie’s Clean Book Collection | Robyn Echols
August 18: Nicki Elson
August 19: Min Reads and Reviews | Mel’s Shelves
August 20: Writing Worm
August 21:
August 22: Novel-ties | My Little Sunshines
August 23: Emmy Mom | Wishful Endings
August 24: The Nice Thing About Strangers
August 25: Lisa Swinton
August 26: Mylissa’s Reviews and Book Thoughts
August 27: Blooming with Books
August 28:
August 29: Perfecting the Craft | Bookworm Lisa
August 30: Heidi Reads
August 31: Rockin’ Book Reviews | Totally Obsessed
Saturday, August 6, 2016 | By: Taffy

5 summer reads to get you to the first day of school

I have to admit I'm getting a little excited for school to be back in session. Almost always this time of year I'm ready to be back on a schedule. But this summer has been nice and relaxing and yet busy and full of activities. I'm not sure where the days have gone! I can always find time to read though...

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

 I read the first book of this series (An Ember in the Ashes) and couldn't wait for the next!

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

Sweet & Sassy Anthology: Sand and Kisses

I'm coming to enjoy anthologies more and more and this is another I'd add to my list.
Open for Love by Elana Johnson
Sabrina Arnold loves running her family's Bed & Breakfast in sunny New Orleans. What she doesn't love is the new establishment going up right next door.

Secrets in the Sand by Cindy M. Hogan
Sometimes staying hidden, even for a spy, is nearly impossible.

Christy Hadden, spy extraordinaire, thinks she’s created the perfect getaway in beautiful South Beach, Florida.

Life’s a Beach by Jo Noelle
Jenna Brennan doesn’t believe in love. She doesn’t believe in marriage, and she’s learned to only count on herself.

The Upgrade by Candice Toone
Moving on after college can be tough. Especially when former sorority president and dance team captain, Amanda Ford, takes a job at her alma mater. 

Surfboards and Star Trek by Donna Lee Weaver
When Anna meets much-younger-looking Derek while on vacation at the beach-it’s not exactly love at first sight.

Slave Queen by H.B Moore

Slave Queen

Opening line:
"Baris Uzuner turned the bolt in the lock for the second time, double-checking that the front door was secure."

I forgot how much I LOVE the Omar Zagouri series! SLAVE QUEEN is another great addition to the series.

Special Agent Omar Zagouri’s latest case is his most dangerous—and his most personal yet. The discovery of secret sixteenth-century letters unveils a plot between the sultan Suleyman and his chief wife, Roxelane, to change the course of the Ottoman Empire. A descendent of Roxelane, Zagouri learns he has an enemy whose revenge has been centuries in the making.

Resist by Ilima Todd

 Opening line:
"The world fell apart when she left."

What I love about this book is what you think it might be but it’s not.

Having been rescued, Remade, and returned to Freedom, Theron must now face a life without Nine. Though he’s chosen to be a healer, he uses all the vices Freedom affords to try and dull the pain of losing Nine. But he can’t find the peace he so desperately needs. Until he meets Catcher, a man who shows him the dark truths behind Freedom’s Batcher program. From him, Theron learns what it means to be a leader and a father. When he falls in love with a captured rebel named Pua, Theron must choose: Freedom and its easy pleasures, or a life that is truly free but full of hardships and decisions.

The Earl's Betrothal by Karen Tuft

 I'm reading this one right now but I feel good about recommending it so far!

Out of the war and into another, Captain Lord Anthony Hargreaves finds the politics of romance to be as uninviting a battle as the one that nearly cost him his life in Badajoz, Spain.

Wounded both mentally and physically from the Peninsular War in 1812, Anthony returns home to find that his older brother has died, placing Anthony next in line to inherit the estate. But he’s not ready for such responsibilities. And when Anthony’s dying father pleads with him to marry and produce an heir to preserve the family title, it nearly sends Anthony over the edge; nevertheless he dutifully faces a long line of hopeful young ladies who await him. No one grabs his attention, though, like Amelia Clarke, his mother’s stunning companion, who is off-limits for the earl. But when Anthony unwittingly puts Amelia in a compromising situation, he dedicates himself to protecting her reputation.

But the horrors Anthony faced while away from home have left him feeling broken and tormented. And Anthony finds himself drawn to Miss Clarke, the only one who can chase away his demons, but he must overcome the hostility of a society driven by class, a jealous duke bent on revenge, and himself—for could Amelia ever really love a haunted man?

Monday, August 1, 2016 | By: Taffy

Read dangerously, Write dangerously

A few months ago I bought a ticket on a whim to see Stephen King. I almost didn't go. When the day came I was tired. I almost gave the tickets to someone else. I mean, I haven't read too many of his books. Well, I've only read one of his books and it was the writing book. I tried to read CARRIE in eighth grade but didn't get far. I have seen quite a few of his movies though and my favorite is The Shawshank Redemption. It's probably one of my top five favorite movies.
Do movies count when buying a ticket to see Stephen King in person?

Lucky for me, someone (Emily King!) offered to carpool and someone else wanted a ride too (Annette Lyon) .and I felt obligated to go. haha. In the meantime, another friend came down from Idaho (Gina Larson) and offered to save us seats since she was in the very front. We took her up on the offer and after waiting in a very long line to get in we marched up to the front and found out seats.  We were right in the front. When I realized how close to Stephen King I would be, I got a little excited.

Did you know?

Stephen King came to Utah.

And he was funny and clever and swore and apologized for swearing.

He talked about how a little seed can be planted through storytelling. Then he told us to check the backseat of the car when we drive home. Yes, we were all creeped out. He's good at that.

He also told us to read dangerously.
Think about that for a minute.
What does reading dangerously mean to you?

Writer friends took it one step farther. If we are to read dangerously, shouldn't writers write dangerously?
What does writing dangerously mean to you?

I think he's watching me. Scaring me. I'm going to have to check the backseat of the car now.