Book Review: Of Dreams and Shadow

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Title: Of Dreams and Shadow (Forget Me Not #1)
Author: D.S. McKnight
Release Date: February 3, 2014
Publisher: Stone Bay Press
Pages: 287
Format: e-book

Synopsis: We live. We die. Is there anything more? Jenna Barton is about to find out. After moving to the coastal North Carolina town of Parson’s Cove, Jenna has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child. Unfortunately, the predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession. With a little luck and a bit of paranormal help, Jenna might survive.

My rating:
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Characters: Main is Jenna, who moved to Parson’s Cove with her mother from North Carolina. At first, she is lonely and bitter about leaving her friends, but then she starts making new ones and blending in. Then there is Chase, her next door neighbor and classmate, who seems to hate Jenna on the spot. When Chase was younger, he saw a little girl, Sarah, that lived in the house before Jenna vanish. But it turns out, Sarah was taken by a mysterious evil shadow who’s been around since the 1800’s. Jenna is your average teenage girl and other than her strong bond with her mother, I didn’t find anything remarkable about her, but she was developed enough to push the story along. Chase seems torn between love and hate for his new neighbor, so his behavior is kind of erratic for most of the novel.
Plot: Jenna’s new life is going smoothly until she finds an old, sparkling necklace in her backyard. Then she begins having terrible nightmares and visitations from a teenage girl, who she later finds out is Sarah. Sarah is still under the dark shadow, which is the spirit of an angry murderer named Silas. But Sarah wants to destroy Silas, so together, she, Chase, and Jenna come up with a plan to bury him permanently.
Writing: Although Jenna is the main character, the novel takes on the point of view of some of the other characters, including Chase and Silas. Since Silas has been around for a couple of hundred years, his thoughts and words are in Old English. McKnight nails this beautifully. She also portrays the modern-day teenagers in a realistic way. The story is captivating and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Although I think the ending happened a little too fast, the sequence of events flowed nicely. I would recommend Of Dreams and Shadow to all lovers of young adult, since it appeals to both paranormal and contemporary fans.

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Book Review: The Falling of Love

The Falling of Love (Falling, #1)

Synopsis: Grace Hathaway is no stranger to tragedy. At the age of ten Grace tragically lost both her parents in a boating accident, leaving her older brother James to take over the task of raising his two younger sisters. Grace tries to lead the life of a normal teenager, but assumes some of the responsibility of caring for her younger sister Michelle and taking care of her parent’s home. Grace is a talented aspiring artist mature beyond her years. Her world is turned upside down the day that Ian Taylor, misfit-rocker-rebel, clanks his way into her mathematics class. At first sight, Grace is taken by Ian’s alluring nature. The two fall deeply in love with each other quickly. After learning of Ian’s troubled family life James allows Ian to move into the Hathaway home. A dramatic turn of events sends Ian and Grace on the road to Los Angeles, CA where Ian pursues his dream of becoming a rock star. New challenges present themselves to Grace as Ian dives head first into the lifestyle of an LA rocker. Forced to grow up all too quickly, Grace is now faced with heart wrenching circumstances that change her life forever.
The Falling of Love is the first novel in a series of novels that will follow Grace Hathaway’s life and personal struggles. Everyone has a beginning to their story and an end…
This is the beginning of Grace’s story.

My rating:
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Characters: Grace and Ian are the two main characters, high-schoolers that fall completely head over heels for each other. At first, Ian puts up a surly front but knocks it down for Grace much faster than I expected. Grace is a sweet and responsible girl but oddly sexually experienced considering she was a virgin in the beginning of the novel. Other characters include Grace’s siblings, Melissa and James, and Ian’s best friend Jaden. All three of those characters are developed enough- I especially liked Melissa’s sassy attitude- but I couldn’t understand the motive behind almost any of James’s actions.
Plot: Ian and Grace meet, fall in love, and eventually move to California together after an unexpected situation arises. They are eager to leave their pasts behind, but then Ian gets a little too caught up in the rock star lifestyle. Fed up, Grace leaves and moves on with her life, but there is always a part of her that still loves Ian. He gets himself together and searches for her, but fears it may already be too late. The story is a lot like a typical young romance, but different as well since the characters had their own unique backgrounds. I found myself rooting for their love to pull through even though it may have been more toxic than good. This is the first book of a trilogy, so I’d be interested in reading what happens next.
Writing: Oldham uses great vocabulary and descriptions, but her sentence structure and grammar fall a little flat. I think if she played around a bit more with her words, the novel would have been fantastic, but unfortunately writing style can either make or break a book. The sequence of events flowed nicely and were intriguing enough for me to want to know what happens next, as well as the fate of the two lovers. I would recommend The Falling Of Love to those who enjoy young romance with a little bit of racy scenes mixed in.

Editing: Final Round

My best friend for life (who is also an author) printed out my story and fixed it up for me. I was expecting a lot of grammar mistakes, weird sentence structure, and plot holes. Turns out, a lot of her notes had to do with the story itself. There are a couple of things I need to add to have the story and characters’ actions make sense to the reader which I totally wouldn’t have thought about. I’m the type of person who will give a minimal amount of detail and elaboration as long as the reader gets the point. But I have to remember that since the story is in my head, I already understand the whole thing. it’s up to me to make 100% sure that my readers do, too.

So the point is, always, always have someone else look over your work before you finish it. The more people with more writing skills, the better but not every author has friends with similar interests or can afford an editor, so anyone will do as long as they put in the time and effort. An avid reader will be able to do a decent job pointing out grammatical errors and suggesting better vocabulary.

So with this printed version, I shall devote this week to changing the computer version and then (sigh) format it to a Kindle-friendly version. Which wouldn’t take up a huge amount of time if I didn’t have a house to clean and kids to take care of (BTW, that groundhog in Pennsylvania will end up in my frying pan, extra crispy, within the next 10 years.* My oldest hasn’t been to school since Friday and we’re probably going to get more snow tomorrow. -__-) After this final round, I am saving it, converting it, and never looking at it again until it’s released. (Yeah, right).

And then next week, reaching out to reviewers like myself, hoping they’ll be interested enough to read/review my very own novel. Eek! I’ll push all the anxiety about that to next week. One. Thing. At. A. Time.

*I don’t really believe in Groundhog’s Day. I live in the Northeast, where winter coat season lasts until May. If we see Spring sometime within the next 6 weeks, there will be an outrage (can’t please everyone).

Book Review: Just Like A Musical

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Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ruby Fields has always lived by the rules set up by her foolishly overprotective mother. As a result, she doesn’t go to school, she’s never been kissed, and almost everything she knows about life is what she has learned from old movies.
But now there’s this Joshua guy. He’s quirky, and he’s tall, and he uses “romantic” and “old-fashioned” in the same sentence.
And there’s Mrs. Wheeler, an eccentric retired Hollywood costume designer and Ruby’s new best friend.
When Mrs. Wheeler ends up in the hospital only a couple of days after telling Ruby her long-kept secret, Ruby decides to break her mother’s rules and embark on a journey that will change her life forever.
This heartfelt story will appeal both to young readers and adults who still remember the pain and beauty of growing up.

My rating: 
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Characters: The novel is told in the voice of Ruby, a shy 17 year old girl who feels like she should have been born in another time period. Her best friend is 78 year old Mrs. Wheeler, who takes a turn for the worse halfway through the novel. Then there’s Joshua, a sardonic but adventurous and optimistic guy with Tourette’s Syndrome. Other characters include the many people Ruby and Joshua encounter on their journey to find Mrs. Wheeler’s long-lost relative, and Ruby’s mother who I found irritatingly stupid, but that may be because I’m a mother as well and wouldn’t subject my children to what she did. All of their characters had realistic flaws and strong points, and were easy to empathize with.
Plot: When Mrs. Wheeler’s health takes a turn for the worse, Ruby decides to find her long-lost daughter, who Mrs. Wheeler had to give up at birth, and reunite them before the former passes away. Joshua, who has feelings for Ruby, occompanies her across a couple of states. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves, each other, and the world in general. The events flowed smoothly without any hesitation or dullness. They were realistic, except for the part where Ruby’s nuerotic mother accepts that she’s in another state with a guy. I expected her to race down the highway and snatch up her daughter. But then again, she didn’t seem to have any clue how to be a mother. But it was a good thing because Ruby was able to carry out her plans.
Writing: The plot isn’t the only thing that shines in this novel. Veen’s ability to create emotion from words is stellar. The combination of great sentence structure, description, and character development helped me get lost in the novel. I would recommend Just Like A Musical to all lovers of young adult with a penchant for some romance and non-traditional storylines.

I have internet.

Finally. I’ve been MIA but now that my internet is back I can you know, keep up with my blog. I tried to update it on my tablet but that was too annoying.

I have another batch of reviews coming and then I have to edit my novel for the third and hopefully, final time and send it to blog people. This is where i’m getting a little bit nervous since it will be the first time people I don’t know will read my book. And of course, the editing….I’m about halfway through and I want to throw the whole thing out the window, haha. 

So anyway, book reviews coming in the near future. 

Oh, and I’m also on page 50 of my new story. Maybe going without internet isn’t such a bad idea. 

Author Spotlight: Marisa Oldham

The Falling of Love (Falling, #1)

Bio: California born Marisa Oldham, now resides in Arizona where she practices her love of writing and photography in both a leisurely and professional fashion.
At the age of fifteen, Marisa wrote her first short story.
Marisa attends The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division where she is studying to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Science – Photography. Marisa has completed both a World Literature and a Creative Writing – Fiction course during her studies.
When asked what genre her books should be categorized as Marisa answers, “Contemporary Romance.”
Marisa has already self-published three novels, part of a three part series she calls The Falling Series of Novels. The Falling of Love, Marisa’s debut novel begins the story of Grace Hathaway, a seventeen-year-old typical teenager who meets and falls in love with Ian Taylor, a rebel, misfit, outsider that is new to her small town. The Falling of Grace, the second novel in the series picks up right where The Falling of Love ended. The Falling of Hope, the third and final novel in the series begins two years after the end of The Falling of Grace.
Marisa has two more novels in the works at the current time, one with a working title of You Have Such a Pretty Face a romance novel that will explore the self-esteem issues of the main female character, societies views on overweight people, and how this makes overweight people feel, with a romantic, witty, and heartwarming story.
The second novel in the writing process does not have a working title at this time, but will be a spin-off to the Falling series where the main  character will be Michelle Hathaway, Grace’s little sister.
Marisa is also entertaining the idea of writing a historical romance based on a photo-shoot she did in 2012 and since she loves to read thrillers, she plans to try to see where she can go with tackling writing a thriller.

What all have you written? Include everything:
The Falling of Love (book 1), The Falling of Grace (book 2) and The Falling of Hope (book 3)

Where can we buy or see them?:
Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and LuLu.co

Tell us a little bit about your main character:
When the series starts Grace is a young and niave 17 year old girl who had lost her parents at a young age and is being raised by her older brother. She is an artist and also dreams of becoming a model. By the end of the series Grace has been through many more difficult life changing experiences and she is in her early thirties. I would hope that my readers will see the growth in Grace with each different novel in the series.

What are you working on at the minute?:
A book with only the title of Michelle’s book for the moment, until I can come up with a better title and a book called You Have Such a Pretty Face

What is it about?:
Michelle’s book is a spin-off to the Falling series where the main character is Grace’s younger sister Michelle (she’s been very popular with my readers)
You Have Such a Pretty Face is about a young, big, beautiful women named Phoebe who is a fashion photographer and she falls in love with a male model. It will deal with the mindset of a larger person and how it effects her life, but also have lots of juicy drama and romance.

What genre are your books?:
This is always a difficult question for me to answer. They’re not exactly romance with lines like, he dove his head between her mounds of flesh, and they’re not exactly erotica because each novel only has about five graphic sexual scenes. I like to call them love stories, because to me that’s what they are. I’ve been told they are either women’s fiction or contemporary romances.

What draws you to this genre?:
I’m a sucker for a good love story! I also like to read about drama, since I like to keep my life as drama-free as possible.

Do you have to do research for your books?:
Yes. I had to research many things for my books. When I read I like to escape and some of the places I would like to escape to would be Italy and France so naturally I write about these places in my books. To do so, I had to do a lot of research. For the book I am currently writing I have had to do a lot of research as well, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I won’t tell you what I’m researching. 😉

When did you decide to become a writer?:
I wrote my first “book” (probably more like a novella) when I was fifteen and after that I only wrote for college. I’ve had stories in my mind almost my whole life and I got bored one day and decided to start writing. Now I’ve written three novels and I’m working on two more, and I have ideas for more in my mind.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?:
Yes, I try to write books that are at least 60,000 words.

Do you work on an outline or plot before you start writing?:
I am an organic writer. I never use an outline and besides the basic core of what my stories are, I never really know what I’m going to write until I actually write it. I just wrote something major in Michelle’s book that I never dreamed I would have happen, but there it is.

What is the hardest thing about writing?:
Editing! It is the most tedious task and once you’ve completed writing your story all you want to do is share it.

What is the easiest thing about writing?:
Writing…for me it’s so easy to just sit and write for hours on end. Once my mind is flowing with dialogue and plots I just keep going.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?:
It depends on if I am working full time or not. I wrote my first book in about two weeks. The third took a lot longer because I was working.

Do you edit your book right after you finish or let it sit for awhile?:
Right after because I’m so anxious to get them to my readers and I get asked a lot about when the next book is coming. Although I start editing right away, it takes months!

Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?:
Christina Campbell, Lulah Wolfinger and Frankie Fraiser. Lulah Wolfinger and Frankie are two of my readers who always have an eye for catching my errors. Christina was recommended by a friend.

How are you publishing this book and why?:
Self-pub. I never imagined I would be sharing my book with the world or that I would have fans of the book in Europe. I write because I love to, not to make money so the speediness of self-publishing appealed to me. In addition, no one is going to try and change my stories if I publish them myself.

How do you market your books?:
Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. I’m a marketing nightmare!

What do you do to get book reviews?:
I pester my readers on Facebook 🙂 I am also part of a group on Goodreads that is specifically for authors and reviewers. I also love to share my work with other authors because I believe they see things that readers don’t.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?:
Just do it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or that you’re not good enough. Write a story you love and nothing else matters.

Website: http://www.marisaoldham.com

Blog: http://thefallingseries.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefallingseriesofnovels?sk=messages_inbox&ref=hl

Twitter: mothphoto

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/authormarisa

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/marisaoldham

Book Links: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Marisa+Oldham&search-alias=books&text=Marisa+Oldham&sort=relevancerank

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MarisaOldham

I would like to thank Marisa for her time in completing the interview. Stay tuned for my review of The Falling of Love coming in the near future.

A synopsis among other things.

First, I would like to say thank you to everyone who is still following me after I’ve been kind of driven off track a little. I know I am not updating as much, but I am still reading books for review, still working on publishing my novel, and starting the second one (yay!). Oh, and of course working, taking care of my sons, and preparing to visit family. Yes, I am insane. I know. 

So I think it’s time to reveal the synopsis to my own novel, Angry Blonde. Here we go! 

Forced to take immediate control over her life, Wylie recounts the haunting chain of events that led to her fall from grace.
She explains how she met her modern-day knight, how she eagerly grabbed his hand to join the descent down his crime-infused rabbit hole. She delves deeper through the winding tunnel of her traumatic adolescence, hoping to rid herself of her sins.
Angry Blonde is the confession of a girl who must learn how to create love and safety from fear and hatred.

Ta-da! If you are interested, I’m planning on releasing the novel in early March. I wish I had a set date that I can keep throwing at everyone but I don’t yet. Stay tuned for that and other updates.