Wait For Me book review

Sorry for the absence, guys. I am in a new season of life and it has been kicking my butt!

I had been waiting to read Wait For Me by Caroline Leech since before it came out. From the cover reveal to release, I’ve been very excited about this WWII Historical Fiction. And I was not disappointed! Here’s the description:

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

The story of Lorna and Paul really brought me into Lorna’s world. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and above all loved how much their relationship tugged on my heartstrings. The struggle of their story was real, and it was a good change from many other romances in YA literature.

I felt like I really got to know Lorna through her relationships and inner dialogue. She was a teenager that others can relate to, even with the historical time period. The only thing I wished for more of were perhaps descriptions of her surroundings. I wanted to see more of where she was in Scotland, and feel it with her. There was just a small piece missing in this, but it didn’t hurt the story or character development by any means.

One thing I have learned lately is to always read the notes from the author, especially when it comes to historical fiction. It’s intriguing to know what is real and what was changed for the sake of the story. I found it so reassuring to know that the author had received a letter from someone who had a grandmother who actually married a POW- knowing that Lorna and Paul’s story could have some truth to it made it that much more heart-wrenching.

If you love period pieces, particularly learning more about WWII, and you love a good romance- I highly recommend this book!

 

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my love for historical fiction

historical fictveion loI come by my love of historical fiction honestly. Growing up in a family of historians, writers, readers, artists– all of it added up to my creation.

It started when I was young and I would hear my parents talking about historic events at the dinner table. Whether it was Biblical, American, Russian, European, it didn’t matter. Any topic was open for discussion, debate, and ultimately giving my sisters and me history lessons. As I continued in my education, it shocked me that others didn’t know the things I knew already. Not to say that snobbishly, only to say I was blessed in knowing what I knew because of my parents.

Not only did I know it, but I appreciated it. I lived for it. And I always wanted to know more.

I’m pretty sure I only read historical fiction up until I had required reading in school. Even then, the classics to me are from the same pot of tea, so I was always wanting to get my hands on more. However, there are three authors who made me want to read more, and more, and more– and with that, study more, and more, and more.

Ann Rinaldi

Samuel Shellabarger

Elizabeth George Speare

These three authors, to me, filled pages with adventures, challenges, and history that everyone should want to learn more about.

When I first started writing, I knew I wanted to write historical fiction. But it frightened me. I was afraid of the hours dedicated to research to get the details right. I was intimidated by the idea that someone could read my book and decide that I was no true historian, and give me a raving review that was less than mediocre.

I. Was. Afraid.

So I avoided it. I first wrote a YA Contemporary, which I love and hope someday others still might as well, but my editor and CP pointed out the language was very formal. I didn’t understand the concept of it being anything but, and realized that perhaps that came from my choices of reading. When I started reading contemporary novels, I tried to refocus my own into language that wasn’t ‘antiquated’.

Then I moved West, and something clicked inside of me. Having gone through my own adventure of moving with my family cross-country, I remembered books I read about families doing the same in covered wagons. And that’s when I realized I needed to stop being afraid of chasing my passion, and go for it.

I wrote my first historical fiction. And it’s what got me my agent.

History, the past, is a part of all of us. The amazing thing is that we all have our own lineage, our own pasts, our own family stories that have been passed down for generations– but the bulk of it is we all come from somewhere.

That, to me, is the beauty of historical fiction. These stories bring everything that we may have learned or wished to learn to life. Even if we know they aren’t straight facts, they help us feel a part of that time in history. They make us crave for ‘simpler’, or harder, times. And many times, they also make us appreciate the here and now.

You will find me reading just about every genre, and if you question that you can take a look at my bookshelves. But, if we get down to it, I write historical fiction because it made me who I am as a reader and a writer– and I’m so thankful for that.

 

“the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society” review

I am a sucker when it comes to books being written in an un-traditional way. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows is one of those books, and I have fallen in love with it. Fallen hard.

Once again I’m late to the game with this book. Released in 2008, it has been on my TBR list for quite some time. Now that I finally read/finished it, I want to do so again. And again. And again.

Here is the Goodreads description:

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Since it is presented in the form of letters, all the characters get to present their own voice, matched against Juliet’s descriptions and observations. Guernsey not only comes to life for the MC, but feels like home to any reader as the book progresses.

Not without twists, you find yourself expecting one outcome with Juliet’s life and meeting another that is even more befitting.

My friends, since this book is eight years old, I was tempted to not share a small review, but I couldn’t help myself. I honestly knew nothing of the occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII, and now all I want to do is study it more.

If you love Historical Fiction, and have not read this one yet, move it to the top of your TBR list. You won’t regret it.

 

own the word: you are an author

imageI used to say I was “just a writer.” That I “just write.”

Whenever someone would call me an author, I would humbly respond, “I’m just a writer. I haven’t been published.”

Somewhere in my mind was this idea that I wasn’t a true author until my book was published. Not until I could see it on Amazon or a shelf at Barnes and Noble. Only then would I be a real author.

Not before. Not now.

Right now, I just write and dream of being an author. I’m an aspiring author.

But what does aspiring mean?

aspire

to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value.

Do I long, aim or seek to be an author?

author

person who writes a novel, poem, or essay; the composer of a literary work….

Well, according to those definitions–no. I don’t aspire to be an author.

I AM an author.

If you ask if I’m a person who longs, aims, and seeks to write a novel, poem, or essay, that’s wrong.

I’ve already done that.

I’ve already written a novel. I’ve written two, actually, and I’m working on a third. I’ve already developed the words and sentences and chapters and characters and everything that goes into the literary work.

So, I am not “just a writer.”

(In fact, according to the dictionary, there isn’t a difference. A writer is an author. They can be simultaneous. If someone is in the business of writing books, he or she is an author.)

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been published. It doesn’t matter if you’re only halfway, or a third, or a fourth of the way through a piece of work.

YOU are an author.
You have come up with a beautiful, new idea. You are writing that idea. You are slaving away over every word choice, every twist and turn. You are getting to know your characters and bringing them to life. You are breathing the story in and out so others can one day do the same.

You ARE an author.
If you have queried a book that has been rejected countless times or you got an agent on your first try, you are an author. If you have gone on rounds and rounds of submissions, only to have to turn to another project, you are an author. If you have self-published and gone through the hard work of promoting your own story, you are an author.

You are an AUTHOR.
You have created a story, a life, a world out of nothing but words and your imagination. You have stayed up countless nights, lived off of coffee alone, and missed opportunities to make a deadline. You have sacrificed favorite characters or storylines for the sake of your art and stuck to your guns when you weren’t willing to sacrifice your hard work.

When you say you’re an aspiring author or you’re just a writer, you are saying that you are TRYING to be something, or you are MERELY something.

Don’t belittle yourself. Enough people are going to try to do that for you as time progresses.

YOU ARE AN AUTHOR.
Own it. Be it. Write it.

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Get your “own the word” tee in pink, blue, yellow, or purple ombre. Available in various styles and colors!

 

This post was originally posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog and has also been featured on Golden Wheat Literary‘s blog.

 

 

#writerslifeapparel

You may have noticed a new page recently showed up on my main page. If you didn’t, you can check it out: here.

If you want to save yourself a click, here’s the summary of it all: I’ve started a new business.

A line of shirts, to be exact. Well, and stickers. But that’s where it ends for now.

The other day I read an article about how important it was to set aside time for writing. To designate those hours as working hours, and to have something to wear, look out, or even eat that would help you focus on what you were there to do.

What is that?

WRITE.

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So I started to search. I searched, and searched, and searched– and I found nothing.

I found no shirts, or sweatshirts, or coffee mugs that really made me want them.

There are some out there. The cheesy shirts that say, “Watch out or you’ll end up in my novel,” or the mugs that say, “Editing Day.” All cute ideas, of course, but none of them were what I was looking for.

I decided, then, to create my own.

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After weeks of working on some designs, a logo, and recruiting some amazing people to help me out– #writerslifeapparel is ready to go.

You can find it on Twitter, Instagram, and TeeSpring.

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Please share your thoughts! Always looking for feedback to make the designs more geared towards YOU.

 

“Passenger” review

imageThere are many books that leave me wanting more.

And I mean that in the best of ways.

More time with the characters. More chances to know their deepest secrets. More adventures to share with the characters. More, more, more.

And PASSENGER left me wanting more.

This is the first book I’ve read by ALEXANDRA BRACKEN, but it won’t be the last. She has a way of taking a reader through history that leaves one feeling like it’s so many books in one.

The very beginning reminded me of Libba Bray’s A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, with Etta being thrown into an unfamiliar life with a surprising gift she had no idea she possessed.

I was transported with Etta and Nicholas through time wishing it would go on because I wanted to experience the era longer.I am a historical fiction guru, so the twist with the time travel was an all time win for me. I mean, America in 1776? Paris in 1880? London in 1940?? Um, yes, please!

Bracken’s descriptions and talent to voice each point of view kept me so wrapped up, admittedly I read well into the night on more than one occasion (and fought sleep because I didn’t want to miss what happened next).

With a surprising turn of events near the end, one I was grateful for because I was preparing to go on a spoiler rant, I am now in a lull just WAITING for the next book. To my dismay, I didn’t realize that PASSENGER just came out this year.

How much longer will I have to wait??

If you haven’t read this YA treasure, you need to. If I had the authority, I’d say that’s an order–but I hope you’ll just take my word for it.

jane eyre love

unnamedI recently reread my absolute favorite classic, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. While I never claim to have a favorite book, this is one that I consistently go back to. I confess it has actually been a few years since I reread this treasure. Now, I hope that never happens again.

There is so much to learn from Jane. I first met her in high school, freshman year. I had never read the book before, and only knew it as the slow, dreadful movie that I once attempted to watch with my mom. But once I got to know her, and Mr. Rochester, and Mary, and Diana, and all the others through the written word… there was no going back.

This time I tried to pay attention, to find a way to write in words just what it is that I love about this story so much.

In truth, so many parts of it are terribly sad. The way Jane has been treated by her family, when all she wants is family. The love Mr. Rochester truly did have for Bertha, and then the decay of their relationship. The love Jane has for Mr. Rochester, and how long it takes for them to finally end up together– and the circumstances that make it possible.

I mean, the list can go on, and on, and on.

But what I love most, is that despite all the sadness, Jane ends up with what she truly, deeply, wanted at the end:

Respect, love, and family.

I have two favorite quotes from this book. And while I’m pretty sure these two quotes are the two that are out there the most, I will share them with you anyway.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

I love this one because it is the best concept. Because although Jane wants love, and family, and respect– she is not willing to have her wings clipped for it… because that would defeat the purpose. She would be sacrificing so much, in fact she would be sacrificing self-respect, in order to gain the three things she wants more.

Jane is so self-sufficient, learning from hardships and using them to determine what she will not lose. She is not some frilly girl, as many female characters from that era of literature could seem to be.

She is a strong woman. We can all learn from her.

“Wherever you are is my home. My only home.”

This takes the saying, “Home is where the heart is,” or “There’s no place like home,” to a new level. The proverbial sayings have nothing on this phrase because it brings out the essence of home.

Home is a YOU.

It may not necessarily be a Mr. Rochester, or parents, or siblings… but it is someone, something that sticks out that makes up that feeling where your very core belongs.

Home is not TRULY a place, but a YOU. A feeling, a person, a group of people, a beauty, a faith, a hope, a story…

Jane’s story is one of my homes.

 

If you haven’t read the book, I beg you to do so.

Also, the best film rendition (in my humble opinion) is the one done by BBC/Masterpiece Theatre.

 

snobby [young adult] reader

snobby ya readerAs a young adult I didn’t read young adult fiction. I looked at people reading “modern books” and wondered how they thought they could call it reading. After all, you haven’t READ until you’ve read the classics.

In college I had to take an adolescent literature class, and it wasn’t until then that it dawned on me that I was being hypocritical. I thought less of those who actually ENJOYED contemporary literature when I, me, myself wanted to write contemporary literature.

Are you seeing the problem?

The truth is, I used to hate reading just about anything that wasn’t historical fiction or close to it. I still love period pieces the most–it’s why I write them. Being transported to another time with different style and ideals and challenges intrigues me the most.

What would it have been like to live as a governess, or cross America in a covered wagon, or sailed the seas on a tall ship, or lived in the middle of nowhere when technology was a glint of the future?

Books take me to these times, reveal the impossible, and give me a sense of character, through characters, of the time. That’s the beauty of books.

I have since learned, that is the beauty of ALL books. Not just historical fiction.

While I’m probably shooting myself in the foot with this post, I’m sharing to be honest. I didn’t start off reading contemporaries– I started as a literature snob.

It started in first grade when I wrote my first true story: “The REAL story of Pocahontas, not the Disney one.”

It continued to fourth grade when I started reading Shakespeare. And in seventh grade when I read Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

I don’t know if these facts come across as bragging, but they’re not meant to. On the contrary, it’s to show that I couldn’t see past the classics stand at Barnes and Noble to open my eyes to so many other opportunities.

But now I have. And it’s exciting. And I’m ashamed of nothing that I read. Because I’m reading, and learning, and growing. And Stephen King really did say it best:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

I would add: Read a variety of things. Your writing (and knowledge and growth and creativity) depend on it.