November Book Reviews

My reading is way off this month due to NaNoWriMo, but I finished the first draft of my WIP, and I’m happy about that.

I still have four wonderful books for you!

November book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of 19th century romance, Christmas romance, a Christmas novellette about family love. And for a little variety… a book with werewolves!

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

The Unraveling of Lady Fury by Shehanne Moore

This book was a hoot. Imagine a romance where the characters are blackmailing each other and yet contractually agree to produce an heir.

Lady Fury needs an heir if she hopes to keep the estate of her dead husband, who, by the way, is in a box in the cellar and starting to stink. Captain Flint Blackmoore is an old flame from years past, a privateer who dumped Fury on the docks and later lost his ship. He knows about the body in the cellar, and she knows his real identity. They’re stuck with each other.

The numerous clinical “rules” Fury imposes on Flint regarding the act of reproduction generate some one-upmanship, negotiation, and plenty of outrage. How exactly does one have sex without touching or removing one’s clothes? For the characters the act of sex becomes an act of war. For the reader, it’s hysterical. And heaven forbid they fall in love.

Time is of the essence because of the decomposing body, and Fury demands repeat performances for as long as it takes. With all the wrangling and finagling, the initial installment of the contract takes the first 25% of the book, and it’s all entertaining as heck.

I loved the tight POV that allowed me to experience Fury’s running commentary up close and personal. Both she and Flint are sympathetic characters even when driving each other nearly insane with frustration. The pace whips along, the characters motivated, the flush of emotions rampant. Highly recommended to readers of romance, and readers who enjoy the fireworks when great characters are thrown together in a madcap plot.

*****

Mountain Laurel Christmas by Jan Sikes

This is one of my favorite novelettes from Jan Sikes. And that’s high praise coming from a Christmas Grinch. I read this sweet story of family love and redemption in about an hour and actually choked up at one point.

Cole is a famous musician out of Nashville whose lost his zest for life. Then he visits the mountain shack where he and his siblings grew up. He loved his family, but by the time he turned fifteen, he was an orphan and, in the years since, lost track of his little brother. He finds an old letter that changes everything.

Sikes includes rich details that bring the settings to life, and even the minor characters are multi-dimensional. Cole’s arc is believable as well as touching, and his younger brother Timmy is an absolute delight. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy short stories, heartwarming tales about family, and a bit of Christmas cheer.

*****

Love, Me: A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

If you love Christmas romances with adorable kids, puppies, and sleigh rides, this short 2+ hour read will warm the cockles of your heart. Grace has moved with her young daughter Cassie to a new home where Cassie can participate in a promising trial for the treatment of leukemia. Robert is the principal at Cassie’s new school, and he has a daughter, Avery. The kids hit it off immediately. And though the parents have some instant attraction, life has thrown some hardballs their way that just might strike them out.

There aren’t any villains in this story to speak of. The barriers to love are real problems that real families deal with. Grace’s dedication to her daughter’s health and treatment is absolute. Robert has ideas for his under-funded school and plans that teeter on the brink of failure. I enjoyed how grounded the adults were when it came to their children, and how hopeful the children were when it came to the adults.

The plot moves along well. Grace, Robert, and Cassie share the POV, though Avery is also a star. This is a heartwarming Christmas romance with sweet characters, lots of sparks, mischievous little kids, giggles, and yes, puppies.

*****

Lunar Boogie (The Hat #4) by C. S. Boyak

Lunar Boogie is the 4th book in The Hat series, but if a reader has read the first book (The Hat) and gotten to know Lizzie and her hilarious talking headgear, I don’t think the order of the rest matters much. In this adventure, Lizzie and the Hat are playing gigs with their cover band, The Pythons. That’s her official job.

The unofficial job? That’s hunting paranormal creatures. In this case a werewolf that’s leaving large bloody messes but few body parts (after eating his fill). What’s concerning Lizzie and the Hat is the murders seem to be following the band. There’s a fair amount of stalking scary places after dark and chasing red herrings. Joe Yoder, a cop who talks to the ghost of his dead wife, is also on the werewolf’s trail. I liked the emotional depth he brought to an otherwise plot-driven read.

One of my favorite aspects of this book (and the other Hat books) is the clever and often dry banter between Lizzie and the Hat. They have a great relationship that’s most evident in the prevalent dialog. Boyak’s quirky storytelling style is all over this book. A fun read for Hat fans and readers of paranormal fiction. Highly recommended.

.

*****

Happy Reading!

Eclipsed

pixabay

Gabriela Marie Milton, poet and author of the best-selling book Woman: Splendor and Sorrow, hosted a poetry competition that concluded a few days ago. She challenged us to write a poem inspired by one from her book.

I chose her poem “The Moon and I” and wrote about the phases of a woman’s life: child, lover, wife, mother, and wise-woman/crone. The feminine connection to the moon is deep and abiding and threads through generations of time.

My poem, Eclipsed, won third place in the competition, and I couldn’t be more grateful or honored. A link to Gabriela’s book is below, as well as links to the winning poems. I hope you take a moment and enjoy some inspired poetry.

Eclipsed

The moon and I trade glances beneath the light of ages
reflections of our phases, we traverse boundaries of shadow
the birth and death of stars adorns our voyage
my course uncharted on a shoreless sea.

She is the sand-dollar storyteller of sirens and undertows
hidden caves beneath blooms of coral, troves of stolen gold
a moon-faced child unblemished by the salt of tears she weaves
tales of faithfulness sung to the sea’s rhythmic strum.

A seductress, she trades in the caress of madness and liquid kisses
when a timorous heart flares and passion burns by torchlight
skin and wings consumed, I surrender to the mariner’s lure
drown in the tide’s curling crush and gull’s lonesome cry.

She is the gibbous years, molding castles of compromise
sand towers dripping through faults in cupped hands
I comb the half-moon beach for luminous abalone
craft a chime of common jingle shells, all that I find.

She is the windborne balloon of my daughter’s dream awakening
a boy fishes upon the crescent of her smile
sea-smoothed glass tumbles at their feet for sorting, for choosing
for all my devotion, iron ships founder like paper-sailed toys.

She whispers a harmony of waxing and waning
an old crone’s serenade in her waves’ refrain
when sea thrift and violets yield petals to sheer bluffs
she chants from the conch cupped to my ear:

You are the nautilus spinning outward
eternal feminine on a string of pearls
iridescent ’til the sun succumbs to midnight deep
when a silken wind sweeps over lunar dunes
erasing your footprints
rolls you into darkness
eclipsed.

***

#1 Bestselling New Poetry Collection by Gabriela Marie Milton

Brian Geiger, editor of Vita Brevis Press: “Woman: Splendor and Sorrow…is an arabesque of womanhood, depicting the broad strokes and finer details of love, identity, and femininity. With vibrant imagery and fresh ideas, Milton’s poetry and prose explore these topics with passion and sincerity. There’s something here for all readers.”

***

To read the poems of the winners click Here.

Congrats to:

First Place – Virginia Mateias

Second Place – Ingrid Wilson and Eric Daniel Clarke

Third place – Timothy Price and D. Wallace Peach

To read the poems of the Honorable Mentions click Here.

Congrats to:

Joni Caggiano, Cindy Georgakas, Jeff Flesch, Karima Hoisan, and Carrie Yang

The Moon That I Made

Holly is known for her luscious and sensual imagery. While I’m deep into NaNaWriMo, I thought I’d share one of her poems that swept me away on a tide of beauty. I hope you enjoy. ❤

House of Heart

Bone white as driftwood, I stand sturdy

as the currents. The waves rush to shore,

collect against sugar mounds then fall

lacy back to the sea.

The ribbony pink sand diffuses light

to a soft ecru that coaxes abalone

and urchin shell to an ambient glow.

Soon the tide will devour the day and

night will descend, distorted and bowed,

like the curve of horizon that swallows

the sun in a wheel of sparks and the

moon that I made for you rises in

flecks of gold.

Gold-Leaf-Paint Paintings For Sale | Saatchi Art

Saatchi Art “flecks of gold”

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Hawaiian Haiku

While visiting my brother in Hawaii, I couldn’t resist a little haiku based on the beautiful island of Oahu.

aquamarine sea

wind-stippled sparkling silver

laps on silken sand

tricksters somersault

sailboards soar with wind-borne kites

breathtaking in flight

We visited the memorial at Pearl Harbor

sacred burial

Battleship Arizona

beneath azure waves

Hawaiian sunsets

eruptions of vermillion

cauldrons in the sky

We hiked to the sacred ruins of the queen’s summer palace through a bamboo forest.

ruins in the jungle

bamboo clatters in the breeze

musical pathways

Thanks for taking a poetic journey with me.

And this is what I arrived home to:

My backyard.

everywhere we roam

a precious world awaits us

where beauty abounds

NaNoWriMo Update:

NaNoWriMo, (or as my husband calls it, Ninny Rhino) is going well. I’m ahead of schedule, though that probably won’t last. To everyone who’s writing up a storm… keep going! To everyone else, take advantage of the month of light blogging, enjoy, and relax!