Sunday, June 26, 2016 | By: Taffy

3 Anthologies to Read This Summer

In honor of school being out, sun shining, I-need-a-great-book-to-read-by-the-pool, I've rounded up some of my favorite summer reads.

Take a look through the list (in no particular order) and share your favorite summer reading in the comments!



I honestly can't pick a favorite story from this one.

An Engagement of Convenience by Regina Scott
I loved the relationship between Kitty and Quentin. That's all I have to say about that.

A Perfect Match by Donna Hatch
Ah! True love at first sight. But will it work out?

The Pauper's House Party by Sarah Eden
But who's really the pauper?










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.


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 Donea Lee Weaver
When Anna meets much-younger-looking Derek while on vacation at the beach-it’s not exactly love at first sight. How could a handsome surfer be interested in a divorcee like her?






At first I wondered what six stories about romance on a road trip. Would they all be about a couple stuck together in a car trying not to be awkward and like each other at the same time?? I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised about each story. They were all great stories!

What Falling Feels Like by Jolene Perry
I loved that Kendall or Ken is a girl and she buys, refurbishes and sells campers. The relationship was just the right kind of tension, too.

Antiques Road Trip by Sarah Eden
What a fun, clever story about a reality show (I strongly dislike reality shows) set on a 19th century film set. Do you know how many women would give up their 20th century luxuries to be in a show like that?

 

Wouldn't It Be Nice by Renee Clark
Who will Jacq pick? The old boyfriend or the best friend's brother? You'll have to read the anthology to find out!

Head Over Heels by Annette Lyon
From Comic Con to Vegas, all in the presence of a handsome stranger who likes to dress in cosplay, Tristan has no chance. When the two decide to pull a prank on Tristan's friend and pretend they are engaged (they're in Vegas after all) things get a little dicey between prank and real life.

Two Dozen Roses by Heather Moore
I liked this story about a mother and her daughter taking a road trip together along the coast. Of course, they meet a couple of handsome strangers.

Try, Try Again by Aubrey Mace
I have to say, I loved the pregnant friend in this story. And it really was a good story. What twitter-patted female drags her pregnant friend to a funeral to see the lost love of her life? 




Wednesday, June 22, 2016 | By: Taffy

WILLOWKEEP by Julie Daines ~ Book review


Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.


I LOVE THE COVER!

Opening line:
“Twelve thousand a year?”

Henry and Charlotte. What better named pair? I loved reading their story!

Charlotte Darby is destitute and caring for her handicapped sister when she becomes the heiress to Willowkeep. She’s a kind, strong, funny lady with a fierce sense of protection and loyalty to those she loves, especially her sister who is frightened of almost everyone. I immediately started rooting for her. She’s also lucky to have a wonderful steward who feels compelled to take of her and her sister.

Henry Morland is taken in by Charlotte’s honesty and lack of airs. And somehow, Susan, the little sister, is comfortable and comforted with him. Henry is THE sweetest person with his own flaws that make him lovable. But he can never be with Charlotte because he is beneath her socially. And Charlotte has vowed never to marry.

An added bonus to the story is the letters Charlotte writes to Anne Bolen. Loved it and the cover that goes along with this part of the story. Keep reading past the last chapter for more love and affection.
The characters are well-written, the story flows and the pace is consistent. I couldn’t put the book down. If you want a good regency romance with wit, bravery, love of family, and a possible ghost, this book is for you! It’s worth your time!



L: No
S: No
V: some tense moments

Thanks to netgalley for the advance read in exchange for my honest review!

5 STARS!
Friday, June 17, 2016 | By: Taffy

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson INTERVIEW! With 2016 debute author





Welcome to Lily Anderson! She's a 2016 debute author and I'm excited to have her here. I've read her book and loved it.



How long did you work on The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You?
I started THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU in late 2012. I wrote the first forty pages in a sprint and then set the book aside while I worked on other projects and moved and found a new job. When I picked the story back up again, it took about three months to finish. Then, after finding my literary agent, I did a small rewrite and a much larger overhauling when I started working with my editor at St. Martin’s Press. Turning in my copyedits in November of last year was the last time I could tweak the novel. So, all told, it was about three years of writing.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I was tired of whining about not being able to find a Much Ado About Nothing retelling! It’s my all-time favorite play and I wanted to see it modernized. (This was before Joss Whedon’s movie version came out.) I was 23 and working in a huge elementary school with 900 students between the ages of 5 and 14 and they all loved talking about Star Wars and Harry Potter and Marvel movies and Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. And I started thinking about how different it must be to grow up in their generation--in a world full of technology with no wait between Potter books and all the Star Wars movies and cartoons they could ever want. I wanted to showcase some of that inherent geekery. Thus, THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU began.

Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?
Much Ado About Nothing! Which is probably a cheat to say since I did write a retelling of it. Otherwise, I love A Midsummer Night’s Dream (such a huge cast! So many intermingling plots!) and Julius Caesar (which I directed in 2011 with one of my best friends at UC Davis and of which I have so many fond memories).

Have you written other books before this one?
I started writing pretty young. I wrote poetry exclusively until sixth grade and then I started writing plays (to be put up by my elementary school, much to the chagrin of, I think, literally everyone) and fan fiction. My last year of high school, I started writing a novel about life in a youth theater as my senior project. I spent the next two years working on that particular book, writing it from scratch at least three times before eventually giving up on it because a) it was eleventy billion words long and b) I no longer feel the need to examine my time as a theater kid that closely. Through my early twenties, I wrote a couple of New Adult novels, mostly to entertain myself and my friends. THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU was written to keep my spirits up while I tried (and failed) to get an agent for my first NA book.

Do you have a certain actor or actress for your main characters?
I see Trixie as a Jennifer Lawrence-type and Ben is constantly striving for a David Tennant-y swagger. And I always pictured Meg as Amy Okuda from The Guild.

What is your very favorite part of your book?
I think the friendships are my favorite part of the book. Having had two best friends myself for many, many years (the book is dedicated to them), I always wanted to write about a friendship trio. Trixie, Meg, and Harper aren’t me and my friends (no, really, they aren’t!), but I’m so happy that I got to showcase how awesome it is to have two people in your corner.

What was the best writing advice you’ve received?
Finish! It’s can be really easy to start a book and to plot out where it’s heading, but unless you finish it, it’s never going to be more than half a hobby. When I was a teenager, I had a friend who finished her first book by the time she was sixteen. She proved to me that it could be done and inspired me to get to the end.

What’s your writing ritual like? Do you like to listen to music? Work at home or library or someplace else?
When I start really working on a novel, I make an absurdly long Spotify playlist of songs that capture the tone or setting of the book. I’ll listen to it when I write or in my car when I’m running errands and trying to unravel a plot point. I typically work at home. I have a beautiful home office and yet usually end up with my laptop on the couch. On weekends, I’ll spice things up and grab a table at Starbucks or the public library. (Although, working at the library is hard because I love having something to sip when I’m working--even if it’s just water!)

How long have you been writing?
I won my first writing contest when I was six, so I’d say that I’ve been writing pretty consistently since I learned how to put together a sentence!

What advice would you pass on to aspiring writers?
Make sure that you’re always presenting your best work. Understand that your best work will be made better by sharing it with other people and seeing it through their eyes.

What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m writing another book YA about [a different set of] geniuses and a small town mystery series. 













 And here is Lily's awesome and fun book:






Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.




 Any book that gets me to sit still and reading-not skim-is worth a shout out.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You is funny, nerdy, witty, cute, smart, geeky, well-paced...ETC.

Beatrice, or Trixie, is a senior at a prestigious school for gifted students. She loves Dr. Who and comic books. Benedick, or Ben, grew a mustache over the summer which is fair game to Trixie and the sparring begins, and not in a positive way either. They banter throughout the whole book and its pretty funny and painful and sometimes mean.

But when Trixie's best friend starts dating Ben's best friend, the whole situation goes to a different level when the two are thrown together more often then either of them want to be. But what if one of them really doesn't hate the other? What if a chance conversation changes everything? Or a creepy clown? (haha!)

Does this story sound vaguely familiar? This story was a very clever retelling of Much Ado About Nothing and worth reading.


V: No
L: No
S: No



Thanks to netgalley for the advanced read!


5 STARS



Lily Anderson is a school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California, far from her mortal enemy: the snow.

Saturday, June 4, 2016 | By: Taffy

Stuck on the ending... roundup of helpful posts

I'm finishing my WWI historical romance EMMA (still waiting for a title to hit me). I've been working on this story for a looooong time, too long for me. I'm the kind of person who can see the end very clearly and I just want to hop, skip and high jump over everything in the middle. I can't really do that when writing, now can I?
But lately, I've come to realize a harsh and ugly fact about the writer in me: I can't finish this story. Don't misunderstand, I have at least five other finished stories. It's the ending I have a problem with. Or maybe I'm scared. What if my story sucks? What if I got the history part of it wrong?

I made a goal this summer: write fast AND clean so my edits are easier. How will I do this?? First, I've committed to writing a loose outline before I start to write. Characters, setting, and a few scenes and dialogue that have popped into my crazy head. Then I'll write really fast because it's what I love to do. And lastly, edits/revision.
Maybe with this new goal I can get to the ending faster? IDK.
What do you think?

In response to my failings,  I read several articles on finishing a book. Here are a few I learned from:


How to structure a killer novel ending

Snowflake method 

9 Rules for Writing Dialogue

9 Steps to writing dialogue with rich subtext

How to turn your setting into an obstacle course

How to finish your book




Have a happy weekend! Get your writing done!


Monday, May 23, 2016 | By: Taffy

4 books I can't wait to read this year and the books I am reading

Here is a quick list of books I can't wait to read (I know! I'm a little behind in my list-making):



A Torch Against the Night (An Amber in the Ashes #2)
by Sabaar Tahir

I can't wait to read this book! I gave the first book 5 stars. I really enjoyed the writing, the characters, the setting and the story.







The Girl From Everywhere
by Heidi Heilg

I got to read this one early thanks to netgalley (thank you!) and I loved it. Time-traveling pirate ship? Yes, please. Awesome setting where I felt like I was there? In Hawaii in the 1800's? Uh, yeah! Strong main, female character with a couple of good-looking guys. Of course! And!! They visited the terra-cotta soliders! People! This place is on my bucket list!
The only thing it lacked to me was a longer ending. Here is my review here.





Ever the Hunted
by Erin Summerill

I'm sooooooo excited to get this book! I want to caress it and smell it and lick it...NO I mean, read it. I can't wait to read and I have to wait until December! There is something wrong with this scenario. I have to wait months and months. But all the waiting should make the actual reading even sweeter, right?
Isn't the cover pretty?










Willowkeep
by Julie Daines

Another book I can't wait to read. Julie's books just keep getting better and better. What is the book about? Regency romance. 'Nuff said.
















 My TBR pile isn't getting any smaller. Here is a pic of my physical pile of books to read:







 Here is a list of kindle books I'm reading:






























And audible:










What are you reading???
Monday, April 25, 2016 | By: Taffy

Rachel Platten - Fight Song (Official Video)







Sometimes I need an anthem, a reminder to take back my life, my writing, and fight my way forward.
Monday, February 15, 2016 | By: Taffy

THIS! I love this list.

I LOVE this list of beautiful literary sentences. I know there are probably 5 million more but this list is pretty amazing. I want to be on a list like this some day.


50 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
 “The curves of your lips rewrite history.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
 “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
 “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”
 “A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden
 “At the still point, there the dance is.”
—T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”
 “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
—Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
“The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order.”
—Toni Morrison, Beloved
“She was lost in her longing to understand.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
—Bram Stroker, Dracula