Author Traci Sanders invited me for a virtual blog party… Meet some new authors!
Surprising and witty
Having received this story as a gift, no strings attached, its concept got me quite interested – a short story as a prequel and teaser to a novel. (The title is perfectly suited for the story, so don’t take any points away from it simply because it is a phrase that is overused as a title in general!) The text certainly kept my interest and intrigued me enough to want to read the sequel. The cool, smooth, ominous tone of the conversation between the conman and the devil is quite an interesting read, and the style flows evenly, witty and enticing. The author has skillfully organized the text to show both the characters’ words and thoughts without ever being confusing. The baseline of the plot is cleverly set, and you actually find out quite a lot about the main anti-hero in only a few words. The constant rhythm exchange between a playful tone and the dark background is like listening to a really good jig played live by a great band at a pub (Irish connotation here is a slight spoiler alert). You can quite see the setting and think to yourself ‘what if…’. I quite enjoyed with how the author plays around with some historical figures. The religious overtones, and undertones, are unavoidable, which is why blurbs matter and help. You may or may not agree with the author’s take on things, but this twisted horror scene can really make you grin and think. Recommended as Halloween warm-up!
Overcoming grief and preserving love
This is the second book I read by Traci Sanders, and I must admit this is what drew me to it – the interesting title, a most romantic cover (I am not one to read much romance, but sometimes we all need it), and the hint of paranormal. But the book surprised me. It is far from your typical romance.
The author tells the story in the first person, which allows the telling to flow in an even, nostalgic style, much like a diary or a personal confession. The opening passage sets a sad and melancholic, almost poetic, tone and grabs the reader’s attention. The author paints a lovely picture of a couple in love, the insatiable passion of the early stages of their relationship, the buds of an understanding marriage, all cut short too soon when he dies in action, leaving his young wife an army widow.
The paranormal aspect of the story is unusual for a romance book, although my mind couldn’t help but wander to the movie Ghost, and smile with melancholy. Grief at the loss of a partner must be very difficult to handle, and we all handle grief in different ways. The author delivers the romantic part of the story as past memories (nicely done through sounds, photos and scents), and the grieving and living is told in the present. The melancholy and sadness show in every line — such as ‘Tonight I feel alone, even surrounded by my closest friends and family.’
As tragedy occurs early on in the story, the true hook and challenge lie in you wondering ‘so what happens next’. This is where you realize this is not actually a typical romance, and the paranormal element will not guide you into an eerie horror-like direction, but blends into the story as naturally as the pain. The romantic and family moments are written stronger than the paranormal and erotic, but the author lovingly brings her heroine full circle in life, offering hope and consolation to readers. I have to admit, although romance is not my favourite go-to genre, the story lured me in. I will avoid any spoilers, but let me just say the end of chapter 4 is a real cliffhanger.
Unsevered is a story about a woman going through all the stages of dealing with grief – shock, denial, fantasies (or not;)?), acceptance (packing his things is a touching detail) and trying to get on with her life. She is a woman, a writer, a widow, a friend, a daughter, and more. As the story progresses, her character develops, especially from the second half of the book and the turning point. Here are some of my favourite moments… ‘I get back in my car and feel Harley’s dog tags between my fingers for a moment. Then I plant a soft kiss on them and head home.’
‘…it’s the little things I miss the most.’
Grief is a lonely process, but nobody should go through it alone, and it’s the little things that help us survive. Life goes on, and we should cherish our memories.
Fun, courage and heart
Having already enjoyed Taya’s adventures as The Snake Charmer, I was thrilled to receive an ARC of her new adventure. Taya is a (pre)teenage detective who lives above a bookstore, builds a cool tree house with her best friend Chris, and searches for a hundred-year-old document to preserve a nature park from a modern developer. How many 12-year-olds do you know who take on the system to protect their beliefs and help an old man?
Taya and Chris never think twice about doing the right thing in the story, regardless of the possible danger. Their friendship is an investigative partnership, and, just like all detective duos, their characters and skills perfectly complement each other. There is also their extraordinary assistant – a big, loyal dog. This time Taya and Chris are trying to save a precious piece of natural riverside beauty, which gives the author a chance to point out the importance of preserving greenery and environment. History and cultural heritage play an important part in the plot, but I will avoid spoilers here, and you will have to read the story to see if and how the modern can go hand in hand with the traditional.
The author tells the story in a simple, straightforward way, so that pre-teens or teens will have no problem reading on their own, and teachers and parents need not worry about content sensitivity. The author never sounds condescending to young readers, nor does she try to use sensationalism or high-tech gadgets to keep their attention. The traditional feel of storytelling does not take away from the story for a second — there is more than enough intrigue, danger, and even ghosts to stir interest and keep readers on their toes.
Who among us never wanted to explore an ancient house filled with peril, ghostly history and secret passages? And share the adventure with your best friend! This is just the perfect book for a curious young mind with a kind heart, teaching all the positive values our children should learn as they grow, so they can remind us, just in case we forget!
No, I haven’t given up writing. Just been a bit more busy preparing for teaching these days. But if you’re in for a sneak peek, here’s an excerpt from a light, friendly, romance novel/la I have started working on during the summer, just for fun and relaxation, and found out it is indeed fun to write this character. Such a daydreamer!
Excerpt from ch.1, work in progress
Three months later, in our beach lodge on a secluded tropical isle, I placed breakfast on the white bedstand. He was still sleeping, arms stretched across both pillows, face rested and his full lips forming a sexy smile. My Dr Bronson!
Ocean waves gently carressed the sandy shore as I removed the immaculate, semi-trasparent curtains from the wall-to-wall windows. I heard his breathing change. His husky voice called to me.
‘Good morning, Mrs Bronson!’
I turned around, my bare feet savouring the deep, fluffy white carpet. Oh what a heavenly man! And all mine. He stretched like a powerful tiger across the white sheets and made me tremble. The mischief in his eyes was irresisting! My lips quivered and my knees felt like jelly. My thumb stroked the wedding ring from inside my palm.
My smile told him everything he had already known and felt himself, and more. My throat went dry as I felt myself pulled to his muscular torso like a magnet, so my tongue drew a wet layer over my lips. He tapped the bed gently.
I couldn’t wait. I stepped forward…
… and fell from the tram seat, my face gluing itself flat on the floor, next to a set of smelly, overworn sneakers, my hands too busy clutching on to my purse instead of protecting the face.
Reality check! A major one!
I spit the filth and drool from my mouth, and struggled to unglue my forehead from the floor. The chewing gum which had been there for quite some time had obviously been waiting to serve this particular purpose. I got up, mercilessly removing the gum from my skin, and it resisted my efforts, sneaking below my nails. Cheeky sod! Wet wipes helped, I hoped, and I fixed my hair and adjusted my clothes, mumbling something like ‘low blood sugar’ to save face, deluded into thinking anyone in the tram cared. Gotta love cities – full of warm, caring people! (Come to think of it, if anyone had tried to help, I might have went to second base with them, mistaking them for my dream doctor.)
The headphone-defeaned teenager in front of me just shuffled his feet and ignored me as if I were one of his professors. Well, at least he did give me the purely academic treatment, so I suppose I should have been grateful.
The old, posh-looking vintage lady sitting across from my seat gave me the entire guilt-trip raised eyebrow stare, summarizing centuries of ‘what-is-wrong-with-these-modern-women’ speeches into one look, and made her final point by tightening her lip into a thin line and turning away.
The rest of the gang were minding their business entirely, so I just sat down like a scolded child and waited for my next stop.
‘Damn you, Dr Bronson-without -borders! If you were a real man, at least you’d have caught me…’
It is amazing how much beauty lies around us. Sometimes I wish all I could do is go around with my eyes wide open and my heart freed from the daily worries, timetables and stress. This is such a wonderful, relaxing, amazing post by Lexa Harpell. The eye sees what the heart sees, and she shows it so well.
Early Morning Rain Drops in Donegal – Delicate – Clear – Mezmerised – http://wp.me/p6pqYD-i5