Monday, April 17, 2017 | By: Taffy

My next writing venture

Sooooo...I finished Blinded Mercy or formerly known as EMMA. I've sent it to readers and I'll see what they think. Based on their notes, poor Emma may just go into a drawer. But I've learned from this editing experience:

1. I love/hate editing. I love to free write and that leads to messy manuscripts. This time I used Margie Lawson's deep editing tools and I feel like it really helped me focus and edit and actually enjoy editing.

2. I found my rhythm! I found I like to editing in the morning, write, outline, etc in the afternoon, and read in the evening. I don't feel stressed when I do this. FTW!

3. Everyone needs cheerleaders. I'm grateful for my friends and hubby who keep cheering me on.

I'm a little excited and nervous about what I want to do next. I have a few things in mind:

  • I wrote a coma story for NANO I want to outline.
  • A short story from my WWI story.  How so-and-so met so-and-so.
  • A YA story of a princess set in Greece.
  • A YA loose retelling of Cyrano. I have an outline for this one. I started a story years ago in prose. Well, the girl's POV was through her journal and the boy's was poems. I think a Cyrano idea would be fun.

What are you working on? Reading? Doing this month?




Tuesday, March 7, 2017 | By: Taffy

3 defining moments of Emperor Nero's life | Author Margaret George BLOG TOUR









THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO
by Margaret George
Berkley Hardcover
On Sale: March 7, 2016
Price: $28.00
ISBN: 9780451473387

PLOT SYNOPSIS
THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO takes readers through the early life of Rome’s infamous Nero. Through the machinations of his mother, Agrippina the Younger, Nero became emperor at the age of sixteen, the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. But the road was a frightening one.  The young boy, an intelligent, sensitive and watchful child, had a series of psychological shocks from an early age.  His cruel uncle Caligula and his scheming cousin Messalina threatened his life, and his domineering and ambitious mother Agrippina married and poisoned two men en route to securing the throne for her son. Agrippina viewed Nero’s power as an extension of her own will. But once on the throne—like the teenage boy he was—Nero did not want to take orders from his mother.  Soon the world was not big enough for the two of them. Thereafter he was remembered as a hedonist and tyrant who “fiddled” while his people burned. But the truth behind the caricature, revealed here, shows Nero to be instead a product of his mother’s relentless ambition, and the incest, violence, luxury, and intrigue that have gripped Rome’s seat of power for generations.

AUTHOR BIO
Margaret George is the author of the bestselling Autobiography of Henry VIII; Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles; The Memoirs of Cleopatra; and Mary, Called Magdalene.

Best,
Tara O’Connor
Publicity Assistant | Berkley, Penguin Random House
375 Hudson Street, 5th Floor | New York, NY | 10014
212-366-2525 | toconnor@penguinrandomhouse.com



THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN by Emily R. King


 As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda’s only hope for escape lies in an arcane, forbidden power that’s buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own





Opening line:
"Snowy mountains tear into the ashen sky, their jagged peaks pearly, like wolverine fangs."

So starts one of the best books I've read this year. Why? Why is it one of my favorites? I got sucked into the book, characters, story and couldn't pull myself out. Heart-pounding adventure, romance and intrigue. Wow. So well written. Ms. King's words are mesmerizing and kept me reading long after I should have been asleep.
Kalinda is an orphan, raised by the Sisterhood, destined to quiet and prayers. But that doesn't really suit her and we come to love her quiet rebelliousness. She must fight to stay alive to become the Hundredth Queen. She's smart, strong and driven to do what's right. I love how she's disgusted with the way the men treat the women.
Deven is the guard is suppose to watch over her. But he gets too close to her and develops a relationship and then more. He's torn between his duty to the empire and his growing admiration (or is it love?) for Kalinda.
Tarek is the rajah is greedy, crazy and cruel, and he is the one who Claimed her and is suppose to marry her. I wanted him to choke on his tongue so many times.
And all of this story is set on the backdrop of an exquisite country and palace. Ms. King has a way with words that develop not only characters, but the worlds in which the characters live. The food, the clothes, the country and its people. I felt like I was there, like I could reach out and touch the Turquoise Palace.

I can't wait to read the next book! Hurry and get it out on shelves!

Violence: Fighting.  Lots of fighting, but not super descriptive. 
Language: No
Sex: Sexual tension; kissing

5 STARS
Friday, March 3, 2017 | By: Taffy

2017 March TBR pile

 Bahbye February. I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of glad your over.
I have a big list of books to read this month. I wonder if I can finish?


After two teenage sisters, Mira and Francesca, drown themselves in a neighborhood quarry, their next-door neighbor Ben receives post-mortem letters from Mira. This letter challenges Ben to track down the hidden, cryptic notes hidden in seven places alluding to where the two secretly touched. As Ben uncovers each note, he starts to unravel the hidden lies and secrets that these girls kept, and just how complicated their bonds with the outside world were.








 Charlie isn’t looking forward to sixth grade. If he starts sixth grade, chances are he’ll finish it. And when he does, he’ll grow older than the brother he recently lost. Armstrong isn’t looking forward to sixth grade, either. When his parents sign him up for Opportunity Busing to a white school in the Hollywood Hills, all he wants to know is "What time in the morning will my alarm clock have the opportunity to ring?"  When these two land at the same desk, it's the Rules Boy next to the Rebel, a boy who lost a brother elbow-to-elbow with a boy who longs for one.
From September to June, arms will wrestle, fists will fly, and bottles will spin.  There'll be Ho Hos spiked with hot sauce, sleepovers, boy talk about girls, and a little guidance from the stars. 
Set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Armstrong and Charlie is the hilarious, heartwarming tale of two boys from opposite worlds, Different, yet the same.




Last Year's Mistake
Before:
Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke and everything around her crumbled - including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decided to move away, she couldn’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

After:
Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family relocates to the same town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never let him go. And that maybe she never wants to.
 
 
 
 Back in college, Marco Winslow never thought of Belle as anything more than a friend. If she crossed his mind on his wedding day, it was probably only to wonder why she hadn’t shown up to be a bridesmaid. After all, his new wife had been her roommate.

Six years have passed since then, and Belle just found out that Marco is divorced and vacationing with his parents in a Cancun resort. She’s not about to let the right man get away twice. She heads to the resort where she plans to casually bump into Marco and ignite some flames.

But Belle hadn’t planned on one thing: Flynn Winslow, Marco’s handsome, charming, and determined older brother. Flynn thinks Marco and his ex-wife can make amends and he’s not about to let Belle stand in the way.

Part Sabrina, part While You Were Sleeping, romantic comedy readers will eat this book up!









 Intriguing and inspirational, this book is a call to look outward rather than inward. McCann asks his readers to constantly push the boundaries of experience, to see empathy and wonder in the stories we craft and hear. Letters to a Young Writer is fierce and honest in its testament to the bruises delivered by writing as both a profession and a calling. It charges aspiring writers to learn the rules and even break them.

Dive into these 52 essays.














 From the New York Times bestselling author of Flight Patterns comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems....

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....




 From USA Today bestselling author Heather B. Moore:

FALLING FOR MARIA

At twenty-six, Maria is holding out for the perfect man to share the rest of her life with. Josh seems to be that man, but after months of dating, their relationship is at a stand-still. Maria plans to nudge Josh forward, but when the company she works for is bought out, her new boss Walker seems determined to change Maria’s idea of the perfect man.












 “Friendships, family, grief, joy, rage, faith, doubt, poetry, and love—this complex and sensitive book has room for every aspect of growing up!”—Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor–Winning author of The Surrender Tree      Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?        This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.









 
 Union Pacific Station Agent Chadwick Hughes has everything in a state of readiness to welcome his mail order bride…everything but the bride. The woman he’s corresponded with for a year didn’t change her mind or miss her train in Omaha—she never existed. Chadwick’s mortified to discover he’s been swindled by a fraudulent matrimonial agency in Chicago. He needs a lawyer if he’ll ever recover a dime of the fortune he spent on worthless membership fees and the nonexistent bride’s transportation west.

Sophia Sorensen, Attorney at Law, is a spinster on the edge of propriety. The good people of Wyoming Territory are open to a lot of things, including Lady’s Privilege during Leap Years, but some aren’t fond of her day-to-day behavior. Why, the woman rides her bicycle hither and yon, showing her petticoat ruffle and ankles. She might be the least ladylike specimen beneath Wyoming skies, but it’s entertaining to watch her court the U.P. Station Agent, Chadwick Hughes, the most-eligible bachelor in the county.






 In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.



Saturday, February 18, 2017 | By: Taffy

THE SPLASH OF LADY HARRIETT by Rachel Anderson GIVEAWAY!

Coming August 2017 from USA Today bestselling author Rachael Anderson


 
The Splash of Lady Harriett
When wills clash and hearts collide, who will come away victorious?
RachaelAuthor Rachael Anderson A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.
  amazon or paypal $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 3/15/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 | By: Taffy

LOVE ME TRUE: Overcoming the Surprising Ways We Decieve in Relationships by Jason B. Whiting, PhD, LMFT

 Even though love should be beautiful and fun, it can also cause emotional ups and downs. In Love Me True, marriage and family therapist Dr. Jason B. Whiting uses engaging, relatable stories to show that deception is often at the root of relationship breakdown and teach how couples can use truth to strengthen their relationships.

•Understand your own tendencies to lie.
•Avoid playing the victim.
•Use body language to communicate more effectively.
•Be present with your partner.

Use Whiting’s counsel to overcome dishonesty and build a more open and trusting partnership.






Opening line:
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances:
If there is any reaction, boy are transformed. Carl Jung"

This book would be a good one for those thinking of marriage, engaged or long-time married spouses. Each chapter is full of relationship stories, thoughtful examples and ideas. At the end of each chapter, Mr. Whiting sums up the main points and discussions questions.

There were a lot of insights I took away from the book. Understanding my emotions is a good way to start! Anger, fear, pain can all make me lash out at all those around me without thinking what I'm feeling or saying.

I also learned there's a lot more to dishonesty than lying.

This is a quick read with understandable concepts and not weighed down in a lot of therapy jargon.

Stu Stories: The Adventures of Dirt Clod and His Sidekick Bird Bones by Patrick Hueller SPOTLIGHT!

 You know you want to read this book! Look at this cover! Read the description! Then look at the author picture! 
(Yes, I used a lot of exclamation points. Middle grade books do that!).

Book Summary: Stu Sanderson is no ordinary eighth-grader. Almost seven feet tall, he vanishes into thin air, duels knights with ninja stealth, lifts the downtrodden, and woos the coolest, best-calved girl in school. Become a middle-grade legend with Stu and his sidekick, Bird Bones, on the journey of a lifetime in Stu Stories.

Blurbs:
“Stu and Bird Bones’ adventures are hilarious, sometimes horrifying, and definitely legendary. This book hits on pretty much every topic I cared about when I was a kid (love, Jedis, severed legs, etc.).” —Geoff Herbach, author of Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

“Really fun . . . has tones of Wayside School and Maniac Magee and How Angel Peterson Got His Name.” —Kurtis Scaletta, author of Mudville

 “Stu Stories captures eighth grade life in its finest and wackiest form. A fun-filled zany ride!” —Frank Cole, author of The Afterlife Academy

"“Because I’m Patrick ‘Bird Bones’ Hueller’s brother, people ask me, ‘Did everything in Stu Stories really happen?’ But enough about Patrick. Let’s get back to talking about me.” —Andy Hueller, author of Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth and other amazing books

 “The more legendary this book becomes, the more legendary I become.” —Stu




Patrick Hueller has an MFA from the University of Minnesota. Through various pen names, he has written several YA and MG novels. Foul, a sports-horror story written under the name Paul Hoblin, was described by Booklist as “the strongest entry yet in the Night Fall collection” and “unbearably tense.” The Beast (also as Paul Hoblin) was a School Library Journal selection. His most recent titles include Wolf High and The Wish (as P.W. Hueller), both of which made SLJ’s list of “Accessible Reads for Struggling Reluctant Readers.” His work is included in several anthologies, including Fright Before Christmas and Love and Profanity: A Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise and Intense Tales of Teenage Life.

Mr. Hueller is a writing instructor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Check out more of his and Stu’s thoughts on Twitter (@callmebirdbones). To contact Patrick you can visit his author website: www.patrickhueller.com. (Stu's a little harder to track down.)