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PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Fly Away

fly awayFrom Goodreads:
Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than thirty years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever. But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on. . . .

Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate–to be there for Kate’s children–but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.

Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her . . . until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Dorothy Hart–the woman who once called herself Cloud–is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.

A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need one another–and maybe a miracle–to transform their lives.

An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness.

My Thoughts:
First off, if you haven’t read Firefly Lane, you need to. That was the first book I read by Kristin Hannah and absolutely fell in love. You can imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to review this book, in conjunction with it’s release in paperback. This is the follow up book to that one. Therefore, there’s not a lot you can say in a review about this book regarding the content and storyline without giving away some details from the first book.

However, I will tell you that if you read this book, or any Kristin Hannah book for that matter, you need to have the tissues ready. In this one, I cried, sobbed maybe would be a better word, for the last 60 pages of the book. At one point, my husband texted me from another room in the apartment and asked if I was starting to get sick because I was blowing my nose so much. My response: Nope, just reading a book. :) Kristin Hannah knocks it out of the park every. single. time.

And Fly Away was a grand slam. She followed up with the characters we immediately fell in love with in Firefly Lane and gave them some time to grieve after heartbreak and loss. Then she picked up the pieces and their stories. This book is told through several different points of view, from Tully to Cloud to Marah. And it is told from the past and present. Hannah was very creative in writing these scenes to jump in time. She started them out in the present, then would sort of daydream them back in time. It worked very well! One of the stories that I liked the most was Cloud’s story. In the first book, we just got bits and pieces of her, and honestly, it was nothing to write home about. She was a crappy mother and one of the characters you just hope to not hear from anymore because you grow to dislike them so much. But in this book, she told her story. It took 40 years for her to get the courage, but once she started, you couldn’t get enough. That hatred starts to melt away and you can’t help but feel the pain that she felt nearly her entire life. While no one is ever expected to divulge what made them the way they are, it definitely gives you perspective and respect. I recently saw a post on Instagram about not judging people because you have no idea what is going on behind closed doors. That is absolutely true!

In Fly Away, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Your heart will break, and then it will be mended, just to break again. Hannah is a master at writing emotion. From love and hate, to fear and remorse. She can do it all. What an inspiration for writers. I’ve never read another author that makes me feel so much just by reading.

If you haven’t read the story of KateandTully, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s a friendship to last a lifetime and beyond and a story that will stick with you through the ages. I give Fly Away 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: April 2013
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis Sunday Times 4/6/14

Happy Sunday. I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend. It’s been nice and sunny here, although chilly. I even went out for a run yesterday, and struggled every step of the way. It’s time to get my tush in gear for the spring and summer.

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, months I believe. But this week, I had some extra time to spend on Twitter and it was a big week in the book world. All kinds of things were happening, so I figured it was time to get back to it.

On The Blog

AnnAlysis: The Red Lily Crown
My New Writing Journey

And as a follow up to my writing post from last week, I am still going strong. I have written daily for a week now. I know it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s that step I needed to take. I am actually very happy with the work I’ve don ton a couple of the prompts. I feel like I hear Dory from Finding Nemo in my head saying, “Keep on Swimming, Keep on Swimming.”

Coming Soon on the Blog

I have an insanely busy couple of  months coming up on the blog. I was going through my calendar and typed all the dates out. It looks much busier in a list than on the pages of the calendar. Oy! A bit overwhelming.

April 7: AnnAlysis: Fly Away by Kristin Hannah
April 10: Cover Reveal: Charming by Krystal Wade
April 14: AnnAlysis: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
April 15: Dancing with the Devil blog blitz
April 16: AnnAlysis: Dancing with the Devil by Katie Davis
April 22: AnnAlysis: The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran
April 23: Author Interview: Eleanor Moran
April 24: AnnAlysis: Above by Isla Morley
April 26: AnnAlysis: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
May 4:  AnnAlysis: Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth
May 5: AnnAlysis: The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell
May 7: AnnAlysis: Killer Instinct by SE Green
May 14: AnnAlysis: The Reluctant First Lady by Venita Ellick
May 15: Author Interview: Venita Ellick
May 25: AnnAlysis: Far From You by Tess Sharpe
May 26: AnnAlysis: Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison
May 27: AnnAlysis: Binds That Tie by Kate Moretti
May 28: Author Interview: Kate Moretti
June 2: AnnAlysis: The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller
June 3: Author Interview: L. Alison Heller
June 17: AnnAlysis: The Glass Kitchen by Linda Lee Francis 

Shooo I need to get reading!!!

Online Finds

Mental Floss: Which Country Reads the Most?
Huff Post: JK Rowlings Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them gets movie deal
Amazon: Free preview released of Always Emily (of course I downloaded this!)
Page to Premiere:  Eleanor and Park gets movie deal
Publishers Weekly: The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2014

Holly Robinson post on six things that stay the same every time you write a novel
IW Gregorio post on writing diverse characters

That’s all for this Sunday. Gotta get my chores done so I can get some reading and writing and exercising in! Have a great week!

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: The Red Lily Crown

the red lily crownFrom Goodreads:
April, 1574, Florence, Italy. Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici lies dying. The city is paralyzed with dread, for the next man to wear the red lily crown will be Prince Francesco: despotic, dangerous, and obsessed with alchemy.

Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.

Witness to sensuous intrigues and brutal murder plots, Chiara seeks a safe path through the labyrinth of Medici tyranny and deception. Beside her walks the prince’s mysterious English alchemist Ruanno, her friend and teacher, driven by his own dark goals. Can Chiara trust him to keep her secrets…even to love her…or will he prove to be her most treacherous enemy of all?

My Thoughts: |
Every now and then I like to read a little bit about history. I never liked history growing up, it never stuck with me. But within the last year, I read a historical fiction book and absolutely fell in love. So, every now and then, I mix them in.

The thing I love most about historical fiction is how much research authors put into making these books as accurate as possible, with adding their own little twist to the story. I have so much admiration for these writers.

I wasn’t sure about this book at first. As much as I like to read books set around the world, Italy in the 1500s… It may be a stretch. And at first it was. The places, the names. I have never heard of any of these before. It took me a while to catch on to the characters and who was royalty and who was not… Oy vey.

But…. once I got them down, I really got into the story. As I said, before, history was never my thing, so to me, this all sounded like an incredible story of fiction … imagine my surprise to read a note at the end about the truth behind the alchemy in this story, along with the nearly half of the characters being real people in history.

This is a great story of love and hate, passion and revenge, pain and redemption, and the fact that the life of a royal may not be all crowns, jewels and the finest clothing that can be bought.

I give The Red Lily Crown 4.5 out of 5 bookmarks and will definitely keep Loupas on my radar next time I want to go back in time.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: April 1, 2014
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon My New Writing Journey

How many posts have I had about writing? I hate to even go back and count. I was on such a high the summer that I wrote my first book. And then my second one, the sequel came to me shortly after. I still can’t believe I have written books. That seemed to be the easy part though. The next part, the getting someone to like my books, was the hard part. Rejection after rejection came in. Which was expected, but still hard to handle. I kept writing, a little, but then I fell off the writing wagon. Several times. I would climb back on and fall right back off within a few days. Every now and then I get the itch and a new scene comes to me for my WIP which I’ve been working on for more than a year now and still am not close to finishing.

But every now and then I get a spark. A random Sunday on the couch reading tweets and it hits me. I can do this. I will do this. This is my dream and I can’t achieve it if I don’t try.

I have several ideas written down in a notebook. Possible stories, possible characters. But nothing is on the edge of my fingertips waiting to be written down.

So Sunday, when I got the urge to write, but didn’t know what to write, I started looking up daily prompts for writers online.

That is when I ran across Sarah Selecky’s website.

sarah selecky

On Sarah’s website, I was able to sign up for daily prompts. These will come in my email every morning – at 6 a.m. I found out today. She suggests writing for 10 minutes a day, so starting today, I set my alarm for 6:50, 10 minutes earlier. I may have overslept a few minutes, but I still got my writing in.

Sarah also suggests writing by hand, in a notebook. That’s not a problem at all for me…. once I find the notebook.

Here was today’s prompt: Write a scene using the words bug, dopamine, and curriculum.

 I am hoping by doing these prompts that ideas will start to build up and a story will spark. I know that I have stories to tell, I just think some of them may need to be forcibly pulled out.

As with everything I do, getting set up was the first step. I signed up for the emails, had to go buy a new notebook (and had to consult my cousin about which one I should get and I ended up buying three so I would have several of the same ones to ease my OCD mind).

Once I decided (finally) on a notebook, I then had to decide how I would set up each day’s prompts. One of the sellers of this notebook was that there are little gray boxes on the pages. One is just the right size to write my prompt, then a couple of smaller boxes that I can use the date and time I write, a little triangle on the bottom where I can add in page numbers if I write several pages, and even a box across the side, which of course I had to get creative with.

So last night I started my writing. It’s funny because once I set my mind to it Sunday afternoon, ideas started swirling. I had to start making notes in my phone so I wouldn’t forget them. Instead of doing a prompt last night or this morning, I decided to go ahead and write what came to me yesterday. I likely will be using the prompts most days, but hope that I won’t have to use them every day and can save some of them for struggling days.

inside notebook
Oh and I am even giving myself a little motivation with my notebook. So the little gray box along the edge, well I got on Goodreads and found thousands of quotes by authors about writing. I jotted down some quotes that I can read  them in the morning, give myself a little push by some of my idols and get going.

Honestly, sitting down and writing all of this out could have been great writing time. I know that. I also know that I have put in a lot of effort and wasted a lot of time that I could have been writing. But for me it’s a process. Like the time I cleared out a section in my bedroom and went and bought a little desk on New Year’s Eve… a writing desk of course. I’ve used it probably a half dozen times. But every girls needs a desk right?

So why am I telling you this instead of sitting in my bed writing the next great novel? I use my blog as an accountability outlet. It’s written down, people are seeing what I’m working on and I can only hope will ask me in the next few weeks, days, months how it is going. I know I can always count on Robin Spano for this! Who else is going to hold me accountable??

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By

never laugh as a hearse goes byFrom Goodreads:
Spa owner and habitual amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan finds herself at a clerical conference at Gladstone’s Library in North Wales. Also attending as a guest speaker is her boyfriend, DCI Gareth Davies, there to give a talk on theft prevention. But behind the ornate red sandstone façade of this most respectable of Victorian buildings, Penny encounters deception, marital and financial infidelity, a sham marriage scam, blackmail for beginners, and someone bent on murder.

When the bishop’s secretary dies of a suspicious case of food poisoning, Davies leads the investigation. At Penny’s suggestion, Florence Semble, a friend from Penny’s adopted hometown, is invited to the Library to decode the secretary’s shorthand notebook in the search for clues. As the conference continues, another body is found in the beautiful library itself, and Penny must once again search for a killer.

My Thoughts:
I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery. And love an international story and learning about new areas. This is the 5th book in the Penny Brannigan series. It’s a Welsh series. I listened to this one on audio book and the narrator had an accent. At first, I was so enchanted by the accent, I had a hard time paying attention to what was going on in the book. I’m easily distracted. And as I always struggle with at the beginning of audio books: a quick onslaught of characters. You have several names thrown at you and it’s hard to keep track of them when you are only hearing them and not seeing them.

I love the setting of this book as well as the murder mystery. It took me a while to figure out the “whodunit”. I’m always up for a good challenge.

I liked the characters in the book, but would have liked to see more of their relationships. I’ve read a few other reviews on this book and it appears that in the previous four books, a lot of those relationships are established… which is sometimes a downfall to picking up a book that is well into a series. Does anyone else wish that on the book’s cover somewhere it would clearly state this was a certain number in the series? Not just this book, any book in a series. I always find great audio books at the library, then realize I’ve missed several already.

I give Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: October 2013
Author Website

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