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 you...you?"

"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 kimkarras.blogspot.com 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.

Sunday, July 24, 2016 | By: Taffy

Pioneer Christmas by Taffy Lovell


 Pioneer Christmas

Ma, where will we be for Christmas this year?
In the Salt Lake Valley.
Will we get there before Christmas?
I hope so, little one.
But isn’t it Christmas right now?
No, dear, not yet.
But there is so much snow.
I know. Come along.
But my feet hurt.
Let me see them. I have a little material. Let me wrap them up.
Will we get Christmas dinner when we get to the Valley?
Grandma will have dinner ready for us.
 I’m hungry now.
We all are. I have a little shoe leather left. Chew it as we walk.
Ma, will Pa be home for Christmas?
No, love, he can’t be with us anymore.
Where is he?
We buried him in Martin’s Cove.
Will we see him again, Ma?
Will he be sad to miss Christmas?
I think he will be sad to not be with us. Do you know who was born on Christmas?
Yes.  And His Mother and Father loved him very much.
Did He grow big like me?
Yes He did. And one day Jesus had to leave His family even when He didn’t want to leave.
Just like Pa.
And just like Jesus, Pa is in Heaven.
Pa gets to spend Christmas with Jesus?
Yes he does.
Then Pa gets to have the best Christmas.
I think you’re right.
I still wish Pa was with us, pulling me in the handcart.
Do you want to get in the handcart now?
May I? The rocks are hurting my feet now.
Let me put you in with sister.
Sister is so cold, Ma.
Wrap your arms around her and hold her close.
Will she spend Christmas with Pa?
I would miss her terribly if she did, dear.
Ma? Can you hear the singing?
It must be the other Saints singing.
I can’t see no other handcarts. Didn’t angels sing when Jesus was born?
Ma, I think the angels are singing for us tonight so we are not alone.
I believe you are right, little one.

This is an original poem I wrote after we went on a pioneer trek through Martin's Cover, over Rocky Ridge and stopped in Rock Creek, where fifteen pioneers--men, women and children--were ubried in a mass grave.

Monday, July 18, 2016 | By: Taffy

Trying to increase my daily word count and not hate my summertime writing

I'm struggling with my writing right now and I'm going to blame it on the summer. I love having my kids home! I love our backyard sleepovers and movie marathons and barbecues. It's just hard to find motivation when other things are going on. or MAYBE I hate the ending of the book and need to rewrite it but I'm not sure how so that probably means I need to go back and see where the story took a wrong turn and then I need to revise it or take out the offending chapters. pantpantpant. UGH.

I just read a book about increasing word count that I really enjoyed. I mostly read the first part and skimmed the second (it dealt with plotting a novel but I'm not ready to write a new story yet).

2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron

These are the three ideas I took away from the book:

1. Everyday before you open the word doc of your story, take 5 minutes to write out what you're going to write for the day.

*This is actually what I decided to start doing before I read this book.

2. After writing your 5 minutes, see how you feel. If you're excited about the scene, write it! If you're not, rework it until you are excited. No more boring scenes in your story.

*I can get behind this idea, obviously! Here's to trying something new.

3. Everyday keep a record of your writing. Make a note of the time you start, time you stop, how many words and where you wrote. The author keeps these stats in excel and tracks when her most productive times and places for word count is.

*I love this idea. I also found an app that helps a little bit with that too. It's called writeometer.

I'm hoping these ideas help me get some words written this summer. I get hangry (what would a cross between not writing and frustrated be??) when I haven't written for a few days. I need to write something everyday, even a blog post helps.

What do you do to get excited about writing? Or finding the time? Is your writing schedule different in the summer vs. during school?

Friday, July 1, 2016 | By: Taffy

7 Summer Reads To Get You Through July

 It's officially July and it's hot, hot, hot outside (and I might have to live at the pool) and time for another roundup of summer reading. Take a look at the list and tell me in the comments your favorite summer read!

 by Nancy Campbell Allen

Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast.

When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret.

Opening line:
 "It had never been proven that Lord Blackwell had killed his wife, but then the man in question hadn't actually denied it, either."

Oh my. I loved this book more than I thought I would! Because a twist on Beauty and the Beast with a twist of steampunk? I wasn't sure. But yes. I loved it.

by Rene Collins

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it's his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

Opening line:
"The beach is empty."

Beach, time traveling, and romance. What more is there?

by Lily Anderson

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.

Opening line:
"Ben West spent summer vacation growing a handlebar mustache."

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.

 by Jennifer Moore

 Spring 1813The exotic splendors of India are legendary, and the colorful sights of her new home in Calcutta immediately captivate eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Poulter. It is in this vibrant, bustling city that she finds a kindred soul in Captain Michael Rhodes, an Englishman whose lifelong love of India runs deep. Their friendship quickly grows, yet despite their undeniable connection, she could never think of Captain Rhodes as more than a dear friend.

Opening line:
"Lady Helen Poulter stood on the deck of the ship,  her gloved fingers tapping on the rail, playing invisible keys in a melody that only she could hear."

 So now I want to go to India and eat exotic food and have a pet monkey. Thanks a lot Ms. Moore! 

The Wrath & Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh 

 One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be.

Opening line:
"It would not be a welcome dawn."

 This book is a twist on A Thousand and One Nights that I couldn't put down!

by Julie Daines

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.

Opening line:
""Twelve thousand a year?" Charlotte stared at the letter in her hand."

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

by Heidi Heilig

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Opening line:
"It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer."

A time-traveling pirate ship.
A crazy, smart main character named Nix.
An Aladdin-type love interest.
Maps to the future, past and make believe.

What could be better than a story with ALL of the above elements?? This girl can write!