Leading up to NaNoWriMo 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 is a month away. Are you ready? I know I’m not. I have no idea what I’m going to write about. I have nothing to say. There are a few ideas rattling deep in my head, but I don’t know if any are the stories I want to tell, and if they are the ones I want to explore.

Last year I began to write Giada, and it was an unmitigated disaster. I would like to revisit it, but this time change the point of view from Giada and back to Fr. Mendoza, the main character from my first NaNoNovel. This would be a prequel, the story about a prostitute that saves a pious priest. I still want it to be her story, but told from his perspective. I just don’t think NaNo is the right time to try so ambitious.

Then there’s my idea of a Hollywood producer wanting to make a movie starring his father’s favorite actress, a woman who had given in to a retirement she never wanted. He wants to make his movie, tell his story, something I relate to. I haven’t fleshed too many details, but this one intrigues me.

Finally, there’s the story of a priest with a promising career ahead of him, who though he’s intelligent, charismatic, and a favorite of his superiors, but is otherwise arrogant and aloof towards those he feels beneath him. As a punishment, he’s exiled to some poor, rural parish, one that’s nearly bankrupt, financially, spiritually, and morally. I like this one because it’s mostly about small town politics set within the confines of a faith community, where being Christian  is only a buzzword and not actually practiced.

I’m sure there will be other ideas that come and go in the next month. Hell, I may be inspired to write something completely different come November. Right now, I need to read a few books to review for this month and the beginning of next. If I decide to review a fourth, it’ll have to wait until the beginning of next year. I don’t want to exhaust myself like I did last year.

Updating my review schedule

I received my copy of Oliver Chase’s new book, Levant Mirage, yesterday afternoon. With it in my hands, I can put it on my calendar and say the review will be posted on October 5th. It’ll give me plenty of time to read it and give it the thoughtful consideration it deserves. However, if history is any indication, I’ll read it on the 4th and hastily type it up. Bad habits die hard.

While I’m on the subject of reviews, I also got an email from Christa Yelich-Koth, and she too has a new book coming out next week, Illusion. She asked for a review, and though she’s out of hard copies to hand out (bummer), she promised to send a .pdf copy immediately. As soon as she does, I’ll put in on my calendar as well. Just need to decide if it’ll also be in October, which would put it on the 19th, or wait until the 2nd of November.

And while I wrote this, I checked my email and my copy is here. Yay! It’s fun to write in real-time. So I’m planning on posting the review of Illusion on the 19th. I’ll update my Book Review page to reflect the changes. This is going to be fun.

If you have a book you would like me to review, I’ll set aside the first Monday in November and in December for reviews. I’ll make any additions as needed, and open up months into the new year should I be asked for more. Let’s see what happens. Until then, happy reading and good luck to these two authors as they release their new books!

Redirecting my focus

I just wrote and posted my last book review. They have been an experience to do, but now I feel that the time is right to move away from that and start to focus more on my own writing. I don’t plan to drop it all together, but I have no immediate plans to continue doing so as I have been, taking  requests and scheduling them out months in advance. For now, I’ll only review a book if I want to. Simple as that.

As for my WIP, I’m not as far along as I would like to be. I’ve spent the whole past week feeling rather crappy. Turns out the cold I had was really strep throat, and I’m having a heck of a time getting over it, even with the antibiotics. At least I’m seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I can breath again and hopefully I’ll have my voice back to normal in the next couple of days.

So for now, I’m keeping my goal of being done with my rewrites by the end of the month, though I’m starting to feel that’s overly-optimistic, especially considering the week I’ve spent moaning in bed, refusing to do any significant work. Forget that. I want to be done and get someone working on proofreading my book. I really want to have this out this year.

Book Review: 41 A Portrait of My Father

22761137I don’t write much on politics or the lives of politicians. That’s not what I’m about, but that doesn’t mean I’m not fascinated with political figures, especially with the lives of the American Presidents. These forty-four men have assumed a mantle of power and authority that we can scarcely imagine.

The Bush family is only the second family in American history to set a father and son into the executive branch. The other of course is the Adams family, John Adams (March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801), and his son, John Quincy Adams (March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829). A book written about a President from his son, who himself assumed the same office had me intrigued. I knew I had to read it.

George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, wrote a loving tribute to the man who shaped his life and set him on a course into business, politics, and eventually to the White House. The question is why? Many others have and will write retrospectives on the 41st President, so why do it? The author himself confessed that the book is not objective but is “a personal portrait of the extraordinary man who I am blessed to call my dad.”

41: A Portrait of My Father is a collection of stories, a narrative of a lifetime of a remarkable man, born into privilege but eschewed the family script to pursue his own story. From the front lines of the War in the Pacific during WWII, to the dusty lands of West Texas, to Houston, D.C., China, and eventually the White House. This isn’t a story of privilege but one of hardships and perseverance.

This is a glimpse of the other side of the man, a man we thought we knew, a man who as President had to endure the constant glare of the camera. This isn’t about the politician, the diplomat, or the business man, this is the story of a man and how he shaped his own course, and in doing do, shaped his families as well.

In writing about him, the author humanizes his father, makes him relatable to the reader. The book is engaging, touching, and poetic. It made me laugh a few times, and I shared in the griefs the family had to endure. While the book may not be objective, it is an honest portrayal as lived by one of the subject’s sons.

It’s hard not to come away from the book without feeling that you know him a little better, and unless you’re a die-hard partisan, you come away liking him. I often wonder what makes a man endure the barrage of criticism just for a fleeting moment of glory a top the pinnacle of world power, and it’s not power for the sake of power, but a sense of duty, a duty he accepted as a fighter pilot which led him to become the Commander-In-Chief.

It’s a great book, and one I highly recommend. Again, there’s no pretense for objectivity, but that fact notwithstanding, it’s a book anyone interested in the lives of our leaders should read. I rate this book 5 stars and you needn’t ask, but I enjoyed the book tremendously.

List of Book Reviews
Next review –  Quarter Past Midnight
Previous Review – Ensnared

Book Review: Back From Chaos

Happy Monday everyone! I know many of you have trudged off to begin another week of endless merriment. Meanwhile, I’m relaxing at home, enjoying a well-deserved day off. I’ll begin my week tomorrow.

Back From Chaos © 2011 Yvonne Hertzberger

Back From Chaos © 2011 Yvonne Hertzberger

I stayed up late last night, reading today’s novel, Back From Chaos by Yvonne Hertzberger. Back From Chaos is the first book of the Earth’s Pendulum series, which I believe is a solid foundation to begin with.

The book begins with Marja, daughter of Cataniast, lord of Catania, hiding in the castle. Bargia, a country which borders Catania invaded and managed to overthrow Cataniast. Marja only thought was of survival, but also gave thought to killing herself to save herself the terror of being captured and raped. As a member of the ruling family, she knew that tradition dictated that she be killed.

She had begun her escape when a soldier of the invading force opened the door and caught her in the act. He announced himself as Lord Gaelen of Bargia, and requested that she put down her knife, promising that no harm would come to her. In spite of the danger to herself and her people, something in his voice makes her relent. She is taken captive and held prisoner in her own room.

Lord Gaelen, finding himself the only surviving heir of his people, his father and elder brother both tragically killed in the invasion, decides to take an unorthodox approach. He presents Marja with a proposal, one that would guarantee her safety and her freedom, that she join him as his wife. Seeing the logic behind the proposal, she agrees.

Unbeknownest to the pair, the fate of their peoples, of Cataniast and Bargia is bound to their success. Indeed, it is Earth who through the seer Liethis, who demands an end to violence and a return to balance. In restoring balance, it is neither Lord Gaelen nor Lady Marja who are destined to be the main players, but rather Gaelen’s chief spy, Klast, and Marja’s lady in waiting, Bresna, who become the focus of Earth and her desire for balance.

Klast, whose childhood had enured him to hardships, hardening him against the advances of women and the company of men, whose ability to blend into the crowd and disappear, who had fortified himself against his own emotions, now must come to terms with his destiny.

It is through Bresna that he must decide his fate, and the fate of the mankind. It is though the act of saving her that he himself might save himself. His destiny is bound by oath to the house of Bragia, first to Gaelen’s father and then to Gaelen himself. Can he save both Cataniast and Bargia, as well as Bresna and himself.

What does Earth demand of him and why?

First let me start off by saying I cannot do this book justice by trying to summarize it in such a short amount of space. How can I categorize this? There seems to be many ways to do so. Fantasy to be sure, but there are elements of political intrigue, stories of love and romance. There are issues of rape, child abuse and hints of sexual abuse as well. There are graphic details of death and executions. This is not a feel good book.

That being said, it is a well-written book, one that captivates the reader. Once cannot help but root for Gaelen and Marja as they try to unite their homes against the attack of treason member of their inner circle. One is hard-pressed not to feel for Bresna as she suffers the indignation of being attacked and seeing Klast rescue her, and by doing so, seeing his defenses fall away in spite of himself.

Yvonne has written a book filled with many elements that together make up an elaborate tapestry, a story of pain to be sure, but out of that pain the birth of something greater. Out of it, there can be found a peace, all the more richer for the trials endured to earn it. But first the character’s must find a way to surrender themselves to their destiny, and find a way despite their reservations.

Once I began to read it, I was loathe to put it down, which I had to when my Kindle died. I picked it back up once my battery had recharged, eager to see where the trials would lead, and I was not disappointed. I was both surprised and pleased, primed to pick up the next installment of the series.

In short, I give this 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a great book with a riveting story line, characters rich in detail and subtleties. I cannot recommend Back From Chaos enough!

List of Book Reviews
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