Already I've come to the final review of the Inn BoonsBoro series, The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts. I managed to finish reading the trilogy prior to my trip to the titular city and can't wait to wander around with these characters on my mind. [goodreads review]
Ryder is the final brother in the Montgomery clan who has yet to settle down but when he meets Hope she may just change his mind. Hope is a city girl and becomes the Inn's resident keeper, from the moment they meet Hope and Ryder do nothing but butt heads, but Hope has a tumultuous past and doesn't loose her heart easily.
Ryder is a brooding and temperamental man more interested in no strings attached relationships than settling down like his bothers. His attitude and rude demeanor toward Hope have them set on opposite sides of every conversation in books one and two. In book three we see them start to work through each other's baggage and find a common ground. Hope was burned by her last boyfriend and covers her feelings with her work making it easy for both her and Ryder to have their own lives while still enjoying each other's company. This is not an instant love story, refreshingly so.
Of course the rest of the family and characters are there and involved in the storyline as we read about weddings, babies, and puppies. By far the best surprise and passages in the novel had to be Lizzy's or Eliza and they find out. The resident ghost of Inn BoonsBoro is back and reeking havoc me on rude guests, matchmaking the last Montgomery boy, and searching for her long lost love. Hope leads the charge in the search for Lizzy's love and they turns and culmination of this storyline are well worth the read.
The romance between Hope and Ryder was interesting and a nice change from all the typically "perfect love" found in most romance novels. Their struggles and flaws were written well and made them more believable but Lizzy was truly the star of the book.
Everyone has a story. In fact, everyone has multiple stories like that time they slipped and cracked open their chin in the kitchen. Or when they passed their yellow belt exam, or the day they were married. All of these stories add up to make us who we are and shape our views, morals, and decision making. Stories aren't just found in words, they are all around us, a beat up violin or a stuffed animal with one eye.
I've done a lot of moving in my life from across the country to across the street (really, I did). Every time I move I find something old, something with a story to tell. Perhaps it's something that's been forgotten over the years or has fallen behind the bed only to be returned to the forefront of my mind and consciousness.
This week I'm helping my family move and boy have we uncovered some history. Two sets of china one from my Grandmother and one from my Great-Great Aunt, my toy box from when I was a kid, and my kid brother's Laker jerseys from when he could barely walk.
These little items have so much history in them and are the perfect fodder for a writer's tool bin. A character who loses her parents can find a treasure trove of family heirlooms stashed in an attic. A young man marries his high school sweetheart and they give their baby her toy box from her old nursery or a drug addicted father tries to make right by his kid by sending a team jersey for the sons birthday. The possibilities are endless.
A well rounded character needs a backstory and a history. Sometimes, and honestly most often, no one will ever learn of that backstory but you can bet that they can tell if it was never written. So write your character a backstory and give them a piece of yourself when you do it. You'll breathe life into them that way and your readers will thank you for it.
I rarely read/review an entire series in order, but just like last week, it’s all about BoonsBoro in prep for my trip. The Last Boyfriend is book two about the little town in MD by Nora Roberts and book two was even better than the last! Note: In my review of book two there MAY be spoilers for book one. You have been warned. [goodreads review]
Owen is another Montgomery man helping to revitalize Inn BoonsBoro in his small town and Avery, the local pizza joint owner is just as invested. Friends since they were toddling, Avery and Owner were each other's first boyfriend and girlfriend, but when a pesky resident Ghost in the Inn helps move their relationship from friends and into lovers, these two planners must decide if spontaneity is right for them.
The second book in the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy follows Avery, the owner of Vesta’s Pizza across the square form the Inn. Avery is a fiery woman with dedication to her family, motivation for her business, and loyalty to those who deserve it. When one kiss sparks feelings for Owen that she hadn’t felt in many years their love story really takes off. Unlike book one, Avery and Owen’s story is truly focused on them. There is no side plot of a crazy town stalker, doesn't have three kids running around for comic relief (though they make appearances, don’t worry), and has a fantastic characters arc for both of them. Avery overcomes her past and learns to trust herself and as she does we watch Owen struggle with his own insecurities and personal quirks.
The Inn is finished in book two and the descriptions were breathtaking. With each room themed after a literary couple (just like the real Inn) it added a nice easter egg for the reader. As with the first book the process of building the Inn and the subsequent PR and running of the Inn was included which lightened the mood and made it a more interesting read.
Then there was the ghost, Lizzy. In book one Lizzy was a minimal part of the plot. She was a figure only one or two of the characters could interact with, but as the series progresses she seems to be getting stronger and so does her role in the books.
Welcome to part three of five, in my reader series! If you missed Part 1 with Dee or Part 2 with V make sure to wander on over there to read those.
Author interviews are everywhere but what you rarely see are reader interviews and for an author those can be really important. What do readers like, what drives them away, how do you pull them in… and then keep them?
This month’s reader is a classics man and an atrist. With a thirst for new things and a love of old, Brandon is a well rounded reader who clutches to his favorites. Self admittedly he needs to read more, but sometimes it’s not how much you read that matters, but what you spend your time reading that is more important. Awhile back he took the time to sit down with me and chat about books.
Q: What genres do you read?
Brandon: Classics normally. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, Three Musketeers, which is my favorite. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist. Books that you read in english class. Charles Dickens and Alex Dumas are really really good. They are classics for a reason. Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Books like that.
Q: Where do you get your books and if you bulk buy, what’s your desired format?
B: I have to have the book, simply because I don't have an ereader or go to the library. I actually buy the book so I can loan it out to friends or people who are going to read it. Plus it’s nice to have it.
Another action packed week, though thankfully a bit quieter than my last one. Not sure I could have handled another week with that much excitement.
A few updates before the newest Fiction Friday post; goodreads. Yup, you know goodreads, we all do...but did you know I host a book club on goodreads? IA Book Club is a great places for readers and writers of multi-genre to meet and discuss books, book, books, writing, and our other hobbies. This month we are reading Wool by Hugh Howey and would like to welcome you to join us.
Also on goodreads, you can now find my short story, Beverage Therapy, listed as releasing in November. Make sure to add that to your goodreads shelves and I’ll have more details on how you can get your hands on it in the coming weeks.
Next week I’ll be off on an adventure so in honor, here’s the character backstory for my DnD Character, Devyn.
Have a lovely weekend and as always, happy reading!
Devyn Bran’ock has a history she keeps close to her chest. As one of twelve daughters (and a middle one at that) of a minor Lord and Lady of the land, she wanted for nothing, except her freedom. Like the dutiful daughter she was, she learned her history, her needlepoint and many forms of pleasing music, but when told she would be wed to a Lord with connections and older than her by twenty, it tested her family ties. A reluctant victim of the arranged marriage, Devyn continued on as best as she could. She made friends with the manor staff and specifically the medicine woman, but when her Lord learned of her fondness for the old woman he’d also found Devyn’s pressure point. He used the old woman against Devyn to get what he desired, and when Devyn tried to fight back, he’d take it out on the old woman as punishment. Late one evening, his anger fueled by alcohol, he went too far and murdered the old woman in front of Devyn. Outraged, she gathered what things of hers she could carry and snuck off in the night.
She wandered alone for days, living off roots and berries she could find along her journey, keeping her identity a secret for fear of being found. When sneaking the last of the warmth from a circus fire she stumbled upon a child in need of healing. She had learned many things from the old medicine woman and didn’t hesitate to help the poor child. When she was found sleeping in a tree nearby the following morning by the circus elders, they thanked her, fed her, and offered to train her to join their traveling circus.
For two years, Devyn learned acrobatics, the art of disguise, and advanced her performance and musical skills with the circus folk. But when she felt her life turning, she set out for a new adventure, one that took her to Zasphyr and the Greyhaven society.
In prep for my trip back to BoonsBoro I’m reading a trilogy inspired by the real place. The Next Always is book one about Boonsboro MD by Nora Roberts and as an author with so many books under her belt, I can’t help but be intrigued by this story. [goodreads review]
Beckett is one of three boys, grown men, who have taken on the project of renovating Inn BoonsBoro with their mother and the help of their small town. Everyone in town is excited and awaiting the reveal of the Inn, but Clare Brewster has other things on her mind. As mother of three and widow, when Beckett starts to come around more often, befriending her boys, lending a hand around the house, and sweeping her off her feet she can hardly refuse. Romance, brotherhood, and even a fretting ghost mixed in, The Next Always is a story steeped in family.
Nora Roberts’ Inn BoonsBoro trilogy is one of a kind. Not only is it a novel about a real location but the details are spot on and from personal experience. The Inn, Vesta’s Pizza, and Turn The Page Bookstore are all real places, but what makes the book even more rich and enjoyable is that Nora and her family own these locations. Her details are spot on and it gives a reader who has been to the real place a really exciting rush to read.
Sadly, the story around the locations is the most lacking. Even with a clean writing and a clear voice, Clare and Beckett’s romance is pretty tame. There’s little to no spark and both seem to be in love with each other prior to the book beginning. This is actually quite the opposite of instant love. Their fondness for each other is not a negative and it leaves more room for the interaction between Clare, her three boys and Beckett which is the best part of the novel. The real place this story shines is in all things family.
There were a few odd story threads; a ghost story that (is amazing) but doesn’t really fit in except that it may be real life town lore. A stalker that felt tacked on just so there was a villain in the story to check a box and overall the plot points were predictable and formulaic. With knowing all of these negatives the book was still enjoyable for what it was. A cool novelty for a tourist and a quick summer read. Oh, and did I mention the physical book is absolutely gorgeous! Stunning covers, textured paper, and a map of the town on the inside covers for reference. Keep that cover artist Nora, they are killing it!
Love at first sight is a personal experience and a common trope in literature in which a person, character, or speaker feels an instant, extreme, and ultimately long-lasting romantic attraction for a stranger on the first sight of them.
Alright, so that’s a pretty straight forward definition right? So what’s wrong with love at first sight?
Let me start off by saying that I am not against instant love, I’m more annoyed when I see it more often than not. Life isn’t easy, love even less so, but a large portion of books use this trope and it can work wonderfully or fail and make the reader feel cheated.
One place it works fabulously would be in a deus ex machina situation or divine intervention. An example would be a novel with a universe with gods/goddess as characters. Fate can be used as a plot device and in these universes it isn’t as abrupt or jarring because we have names and faces to to the gods. Granted these characters can still fall in love on page one, but mostly they fall into immediate lust, but that’s a different topic all together. I still classify this as instant love due to the unequivocal relationship that is evident on page one of the story. Using an external physical character, spell, or situation makes a difference instant love when used as a plot device.
Then there’s instances where instant love can feel like a copout, stale, or a weakness on the author’s part. When characters meet on page one and by page two one is stalking the other and just a few pages after that they are in love, why? Was there no other way to write the story so that the characters would end up together? It’s not just paranormal romances that use this though, contemporary romance is full of it. Car crashes, bumping into one another at a coffee shop, or even just the smell of the other person, I’ve seen it all.
So why exactly do I dislike this writing choice? I’m a character reader. I enjoy seeing characters grow and evolve and instant love cuts out that process, that’s the definition of instant. When I see little to no growth in a character I am underwhelmed and bored. There are other reasons that I read, so it’s not always a book killer, but if that’s the only thing going for the story… nope.
Another factor is my reading speed. This is a purely personal issue and I always take this into account when reading. I read very quickly, just shy of eighty pages an hour (the average is roughly sixty). I also tend to read a book in one or two sittings and this speeds up the entire timeline of a story. If a three hundred page book takes place over a five day period and I read it in less than five hours… it feels a lot faster than five days. As I said, this is a personal “issue” and I never fault an author for it.
So do I hate instant love? No. Some of my favorite series are based on fate intervention and the soulmate principle. It doesn’t always bother me in contemporary lit either, but if the main theme of a story is love and it all happens in the first chapter… then why does the rest of the book even exist?
What do you think, yay or nay on instant love?
Let me know what you think of instant love in the comments below.
I’ve kept my promise!
I’ve written something new everyday in the last two weeks (minus my optional one day a week break) and I’ve started compiling them for editing. My series on Channillo is up and ready for content, I’m just waiting on a book cover which will be done soon. I’ve also been given the month my short story will be published on Channillo, November! In prep, I’ve added "Beverage Therapy" to goodreads. I may have danced in my chair at the small victory of having something listed that I’ve written.
Also new this week… yes, I’ve been busy, is the Imaginary Adventures Book Club! Join on goodreads to share a love of books, writing, and anything lit!
Last but not least is business cards. My wonderful friend Brandon Burt has helped me design some absolutely stunning business cards and I can’t wait to start handing them out. Once the design is finalized I’ll post that here too.
So many good things, I can’t even understand it all. I may have pinched myself a few times this week. Enjoy your weekend, stay safe, and read something good.
Muse: 642 Things
Prompt: Your mom has started online dating, what do you tell her?
“Brooklyn! Did you borrow my pearls?”
“Ew, never.” Mom has the worst taste in clothes.
“Have you seen them?”
“Brooklyn, get in here!”
I stand and march into her room and flop onto her bed. Makeup and jewelry float a few inches off the cream colored duvet and fall back down. “What?”
Mom turns and looks at me, her hands on her hips. “What do you think?”
“That this is pointless.”
“What? You’re going out looking for another guy like Dad and all you’re going to find are men who want in your pants.” I must have struck a nerve, Mom deflates, the twinkle gone from her eyes.
“Is that what you really think?”
She crosses the room and sits next to me on the bed.
“He’s gone Mom. Death won’t give him back, and no one can replace him.”
Be my muse and leave a prompt idea, feedback, or even just a word in the comments below or via twitter, fb, or email and I will use your suggestions for future Fiction Friday content. Together we can create something wonderful and I can’t wait!
This review will be a bit different, partly because it’s a memoir and mainly because it touched me in a way a novel hasn’t yet. When you read the review below please keep in mind that these are not the musings of a super fan over her idol. In fact, I’ve only seen a few bits of Felicia’s work and prior to reading her book, didn’t really follow her on social media. She was a pleasant surprise I’d get when spotting her on screen or on the internet. Her book has changed that. [goodreads review]
Honest and fun with an uplifting seriousness.
#Memoir #Gamer #Writer #Celebrity
Author: Felicia Day
Sometimes things happen that change our lives, be it for better or worse. Sometimes people change our lives, and sometimes we don't even have to meet them for their influence to spread to us (think President Obama or your great grandparents). Thankfully, I've met someone recently who has the potential for changing my life for the better.
A few weeks ago I went to a talk given by Felicia Day about her new book, You're Never Weird on the Internet [almost]. I met her that day, bought her book, and even took a picture with her. Little did I know then how she would influence me.
Now that I've finished reading her memoir, I'm sad I didn't say something more meaningful to her when I met her. Thank you doesn't seem monumental enough. Through out her book I laughed and cried (big sobbing tears, don't judge me) and snorted more than a few times. But why? That's easy. She's struggled just as I have. Just as I still am, but she made it through.
Felicia’s tone in the book is lighthearted and fun and it was impossible not to read it in her voice; words going a mile a minute. Even when her story took a darker turn, her comedic timing was there to make sure as the reader, I understood what she was saying, but wasn’t bogged down by the sad content. Felicia Day is one hell of a woman, fierce and unstoppable, her stories tell of her growing up, her rise to internet fame, and even that one time she wore a velvet dress to someone's prom. Even with her stories revolving around gaming there's a seriousness to them, depression, addiction, social interaction, all of that is tackled and all treated with respect.
Felicia is a role model for the strange. Gamers (not just girls) look up to her, but more importantly, her passion and drive for her career would leave anyone inspired and ready to make a change in their life. To some her book may be niche, but her struggles are ones everyone has faced in their lifetime, they may just need a translator for some sections.
From her anxiety to her fears and even her perfectionist attitude, she and I are very similar. As a gamer I am entertained by her. As a woman I and proud to stand alongside her. As a writer... I see myself in her struggles. I'm am nowhere near the end of my journey, (not that she is either) but now I can continue on knowing that someone else has previously blazed the trail for me to follow. Thank you for being that wonderful version of yourself and sitting and fighting through the awkwardness and uncomfortable interactions that are book signings. Your fans love and appreciate you more for it. Until we meet again Miss. Day!
Humans like to wear the hobbies on their sleeves, much like their hearts, we want to show the world what we are proud of and what we support. Sports fans wear jerseys, sorority girls paint their cars, and gamers wallpaper their homes in posters. We wear our fandoms like a badge of honor -as we should. So what about bookworms and authors, do we have fun products to show off our love for the written word? Of course! Here are a few of my favorites and where to find them, because you can never have enough book pride!
These days if we are not careful, we’ll wake up and find that time has gotten away from us. I find that having a day planner keeps me more on track with all of my writing endeavors. This Alice in Wonderland one by 7321 is my favorite. It’s the perfect size; not too small to write in, but not too big too fit in even my smallest bags. By far it’s best feature is the art! There are other varieties but I am a glutton for Alice in Wonderland and this notebook makes me what to record my progress each day! The colors are soft and calming, the postage stamp stickers are too cute to use, and the hard cover makes it durable enough to tote around without fear.
Nerd used to be a dirty word. That is, until the nerds united and started to take over the world. Share your book pride with a shirt that shows you’re not too cool or too nerdy to shout to the world what you love. I have a navy blue shirt with black writing, but searching the internet will give you lots of different combinations of colors and glasses. Stay nerdy!
Inspirational items around a writing desk can make all the difference. These pieces made by Ramona Claire and sold around Seattle are made of recycled books, sheet music, and maps. Though she doesn’t have a website, this is one piece of inspiration you’ll want to pick up if you’re ever in Seattle. Mine is Game of Thrones!
Lastly, another t-shirt. If you’re not familiar with Shirt Woot you will be now. Their “Read A Book” shirt was given to me by a friend who “knew I liked books” and I laugh every time I wear it. The cotton is soft, the design is well printed and doesn’t do that icky peeling thing some do. The fit is great, though I would recommend buying a size or two larger because they do shrink. This is one of those garments that will get people thinking when they see it. Keep an eye out on shirt woot as their stock changes daily, you never know what you’ll find.
Do you have a favorite product to show off your book pride? Share a link in the comments below and it could be featured in the next installment of Literary Props!