Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Loves: NEWSIES!

It's 8pm on Friday here in Alberta, making me a bit late for my Friday Loves post. But I didn't want to miss it, because I did something fun last weekend and have to share it with the world! (I'm laughing right now because that sentence sounds very magnanimous in my head.)

Anyway, I took my two oldest daughters to see NEWSIES the musical last weekend. As a young teen, I LOVED Newsies. Like crazy. Watched it over and over. Had it memorized. In fact, my BFF and I made this whole Newsies II story, where we were girls who had to disguise ourselves as boys so we could work as Newsies, and of course we fell in love with a couple of the characters while we were at it (Jack Kelly for her, and Kid Blink for me- he's the guy with the eye patch. I had a thing for him. Don't ask.) As a total aside, me and the kids watched the movie a couple of days after seeing the musical, and during one of the bonus features, I learned that some girls actually were Newsies, and didn't have to disguise themselves. So there goes our story. *shrug*

ANYWAY, I absolutely loved the musical. I was pretty much grinning the entire time. And surprisingly, I really liked the changes they made to the musical. I say surprisingly because when you are used to something being one way, it's hard to love it when it's different. But I loved how Jack was an artist, I loved the added songs, and MOST OF ALL I loved how the female love interest was a reporter instead of just Davey's sister. She has a great story all her own and it really strengthened their love story. The only thing I didn't love was they sorta dialed down Spot's character. Bummer- I love him in the movie.

If you like musicals, NEWSIES is definitely a must-see. The dancing especially was stellar. I'd go to it again in a heartbeat.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Reads: 5 Star Books!

Oh the books I've read lately.

First was LOVE & GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch, which I already waxed enthusiastic about lasy Friday Loves post. This book, which takes place in Italy, was the perfect summer read- full of love, swoony moments, smart and funny dialogue, and feels. Loved it!

Then I read THE ROSE & THE DAGGER by Renee Ahdieh. This is the sequel to THE WRATH & THE DAWN, and actually the final book (I thought it was a trilogy, but it's a duology). The book was a great finale and I'm glad she didn't stretch it into three books. Sharzhad is an excellent MC and I loved the road it took for her and Khalid to get back together and get their happy ending.

After that, I went back to contemp YA with Jessi Kirby's GOLDEN. I read this book in a couple of days because the characters and the mystery were so compelling. You're rooting so hard for Parker and Trevor, plus you want to find out what really happened with Julianna, Shane, and Orion. I often find contemp YA to spell out the MC's feelings when we, as a reader, already get it. This book did that a bit, but not so much that I got annoyed. It could've used a bit more dialogue too- my personal taste- but neither of those things made the book any less unputdownable.

Finally, another YA contemp- TAKE A BOW by Elizabeth Eulberg. For light, fun, and fast-paced, this book was perfection. She did the four POV's amazingly, and the book was a quick read. It reminded me of a book version of FAME. Most importantly, because there wasn't a lot of plot to the book, the characters- even the minor ones- totally jumped off the page. They were so real to me that I felt like I was a fellow student at CPA. Excellent book.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Just Can't

The world is a scary place. Sometimes so scary that I just want to hunch into a ball, cover my ears with my hands and go, "lalalalala." No seriously. There are times I stay away from social media now because it's the same as watching the news- something I don't do. I know it's important to stay informed, but when all the bad things happen, and then all of the fighting/disagreements/negativity that happens on social media, it gets to be a bit too much at times.

This isn't a post about world change. It isn't a post about the importance of conversations and talking and learning. That is important, but it's a post for another day. This is just me saying that sometimes I can't handle the negativity. It brings me down. It makes me scared/depressed/angry/listless. So I try my darnedest not to get involved. This doesn't mean I don't have my opinions. It doesn't mean I'm not listening and learning, because I am. I'm just not jumping in.

It also means I try my darnedest not to add to it. Everything I say on social media, I try to make it positive, or at least funny. It doesn't always work. Of course it doesn't. But when I hear the negativity, when I get caught up in it, when I stomp around my house or write then delete tweets, then when I take a breath, step back, step away, and come back with a silly post about The Bachelorette or my kids or the book I read lately, that's why. Because sometimes I just can't.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Loves: LOVE & GELATO

I know I usually talk about books on Mondays, but Friday is all about what I'm loving right now, and right now, what I'm loving is LOVE & GELATO.

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.


There's something about summer that makes me want to read about people falling in love in Europe. Okay, I'd read about that anytime, but in the summer I really get a hankering for it. I don't know where I heard about LOVE & GELATO, but I requested it from my library, then saved it so I could read it on the beach.

Well, it rained all week, but WHO CARES? The book was so good it didn't matter where I was reading it. I loved the Florence setting (obviously), I had the feels for the MC and the loss of her mother, I loved how there was journal entries and a bit of a mystery to be solved. The best part though was the dialogue/relationship between the MC and her new friend Ren. It was soooo right in all the ways.

This book kinda reminded me of ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS, so if you liked that, read this one right now! I'm definitely going out and buying my very own copy because it's become a fave.

Monday, July 11, 2016


Blog? What blog? I have a blog?

I don't know why I've been having such a hard time blogging lately, or even REMEMBERING to blog. I mean, it's almost 5pm on Monday so I'm a little behind today. Not to mention the last time I blogged was a couple of weeks ago.

Ergh. Blogging slump.

Anyway, I read three books these past few weeks.

First, THE MUSE by Jessica Evans. This is a modern-day PRIDE & PREJUDICE retelling where Elizabeth is a ballet dancer in the corps and Darcy is a famous choreographer. Love the concept and loved the book! It was putting two of my favorite things together and it did not go wrong.

Then I read THE SERPENT'S SHADOW by Rick Riordan. This is the last book in the Kane Chronicles. It's been a long time since I read books one and two, but I didn't find it too difficult to jump back into the trilogy. Obviously I'd forgotten some things, but it was easy to keep up and I enjoyed the book. Rick Riordan has a great voice, lots of funny moments, and his books are always action packed with a touch of teenage romance. Great end to the trilogy.

Most recently, I read THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller. It was an excellent retelling of THE ILIAD, told from the POV of Patroclus, and I was captured from start to finish. The only thing that stopped me from giving it five stars was the fact that it switched tenses sometimes. I didn't understand why, and while I think it was intentional (and not bad writing), it threw me out of the story every time it happened. Anyone else read this book and know why the author would switch tenses? I really feel like I missed something there.

Anyway, these were all great reads. Yay for good books!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Author Interview with D.B. Kennison

Recently I read a fantastic mystery novel titled STILL LIFE by D.B. Kennison. Kennison is a fellow Samhain author and I really enjoyed this book. It had my stomach in knots the entire time, plus there was some super swoony scenes, and a super twist ending. D.B. Kennison interviewed me for her site, and was gracious enough to turn her own questions back on herself and answer them for me! Check it out!

D.B. Kennison

What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

Most surprised?   Probably that I'm a cosmetologist/aesthetician by trade. That's right, I do hair, nails, and facials for a living. I've worked a variety of jobs over the years and this one is special. I have the ability to make someone's day, to make them feel better, and provide a little bit of balance to their hectic lives. The fact that I get awesome writing material is just a bonus!

Jewelry by D.B. Kennison
Art by D.B. Kennison

What do you enjoy most in your free time? 

I'm one of those people, lucky or not can be infinitely debated, who can't shut off my creative side. It's like a disorder. If I'm not writing, then I'm painting, sculpting, jewelry-making, wood working, landscaping, decorating...ugh!  You get the picture. When our daughter was little, I even painted her room to look like the outdoors, incorporating doors into a castle and giving her a cat. She loved it. 

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

I guess it would be my Kindle. I was dragged to the e-reader world kicking and screaming, while clutching my favorite paper books in a death grip. I like the printed page, the smell and feel of them. I like dog-earring them, making notes in the margins and highlighting favorite passages. (sniff) Then I realized you can pretty much do the same thing electronically with Kindle features. They don't smell and they feel differently, but it's easier to read in bed (no annoying bedside lamp to keep hubby awake). 

Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript? 

Well, it's changed a lot since I started writing. It began as longhand scribbles in notebooks. Then sheets of sticky notes outlining chapters, which led to actual writing in Word. It was a pain in the butt to learn any kind of efficiency in plotting. Now I use a computer program that has all of these features and more, that enable me to move around a manuscript easily. God Bless Scrivener. 

What is your all time favorite book and why?

It's hard to pick just one. But the one I come back to time and again, never tiring of it, is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It's kind of an odd choice. I tend to gravitate to mysteries with a dark bent, which is anything but this Highland historical. I guess that's a testament to great writing. 

Project research, love it or hate it?

Love it! I swear, I could set everything in life aside and just learn new stuff. As a writer research is a necessity, for me it can be an obsession with one Google search snowballing into a dozen! 

Is there a specific author who inspires you?  

One of my all time favorites is Tami Hoag. She started out as a romance novelist and now writes more mainstream mystery/suspense/thrillers. She is booked as the guest speaker for this years Writer's Police Academy. I'm attending and will probably embarrass myself when I ask her to sign a book for me. 

How did you come up with the title for your debut book?

It was an exercise in frustration. I bet I had a dozen different names as I was writing the book. When it was done I Googled art terms and knew the moment I saw it, STILL LIFE, was it.  

How long did it take you to write STILL LIFE?

A long time! It was a learning process because I didn't know the first darned thing about writing a book when I started. Let alone one that anyone would want to read, God forbid pay for. I began in late 2008, writing on and off with big gaps (sometimes as long as a year) where I'd take online writing courses, then begin again.

Tell us a little about the book. 

It's a mystery set in small town Wisconsin. Randi Lassiter is a reluctant P.I. who gets pulled into a murder investigation and steps on the toes of the detective in charge. Despite butting heads, they are attracted to each other, which adds a flirty element to the story. The mystery centers around an artist community and some quirky suspects. Readers tell me they love the inclusion of familiar places across our state. It was fun to write this genre-blend of romance, mystery, suspense, and comedy. 

What has been the most exciting aspect to releasing your first novel?

It has forced me to get over my introverted ways. I am not a mingler, a socializer, a gadabout. I'm more of geeky hermit, content to not be the center of attention. All of that kind of flies out the window when you put a book out there. Now I'm trying to be present everywhere. I'm not just selling my book, I'm selling myself.  (Oh, that didn't quite come out right * wink)  

What has been the most detrimental?

Finding time to write. Now that I'm addicted to this new found creative outlet I can't shut off the voices in my head. I've got at least a dozen story ideas and no time to write them. I'm terribly undisciplined when it comes to the practice of writing. Fixing that is my next goal.

What other projects are you working on?

Well, book 2 in the Randi Lassiter series is done and through the first round of edits. However, one of my editor's comments started a discussion that perhaps it could be a better story/series if tweaked. Tweak my ass! It has become a full on re-write. But, I agree with him. It will be worth it, the result being a stronger, more character driven story in the end. The bonus is that it's making me a better writer. 

I'm also working on a stand alone thriller that explores the darker elements of mind control applications. Creepy good fun. LOL.

Thanks D.B. Kennison for stopping by today! I can't wait to read more about Randi, and that thriller sounds super creepy! 

Check out STILL LIFE and D.B. Kennison at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.