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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.

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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.

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Released: October 2013
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: All For a Story

ALL FOR A STORYFrom Goodreads:
Monica Brisbane loves being a modern girl in the Roaring Twenties. Her job writing a gossip column allows her access to all the local speakeasys in Washington, D.C., where she can dance the night away–and find fodder for her next article. But when the owner of the “Capitol Chatter” newspaper passes away, Monica wonders what will happen to her job, and the lifestyle she loves.Max Moore may hold the title of editor-in-chief for evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s paper, “The Bridal Call,” but Aimee calls all the shots. So when Max learns that his uncle has passed away, leaving him all his earthly possessions, Max resigns and heads to D.C. Determined to take over the “Capitol Chatter,” infuse it with his values, and turn it into a respectable paper, Max is soon bumping up against the equally determined Monica Brisbane.Under Max’s direction, Monica embarks on her most challenging assignment yet: infiltrating and reporting on the Anti-Flirt Society. Though reluctant at first, as Monica meets and mingles with the young women of the club, she begins to question the innocence of her flirtatious lifestyle. And when romance begins to blossom between Max and Monica, she must choose where her loyalties lie: with the young women of the society or the alluring pull of the speakeasy and its inhabitants.

My Thoughts:
This is going to be more of a mini review. Although it hasn’t been long since I read the book, it really didn’t stick out enough for me to remember the details. I hate when that happens. I was instantly drawn to the book because of the journalism angle.

One thing I liked about Pittman’s writing in this book is that it was still modern. There are many historical fiction books that I have read that I have a hard time getting through because the language isn’t necessarily the same as today. I know that it may be more historically accurate, but I never do well with them. Pittman did a great job of making me feel like I was back in the Roaring 20s with her writing.

I did enjoy Monica’s character… mostly. I liked how independent she was and she was very strong and outspoken. However, we weren’t morally on the same page. I did love her column in the paper though. Scandalous little thing that Monica Brisbane is.

However, with my likes, the story itself just fell short for me. There were parts, including threats from gangsters and Monica growing up a little throughout the book, but it just wasn’t my cup of illegal liquor.

I give All for a Story 3 out of 5 bookmarks. It is getting a lot of love on Goodreads though. Make sure to click the link below to read some more reviews.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: October 2013
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Last Chance Knit and Stitch

last chance knit and stitchFrom Goodreads:
Molly Canaday wishes she could repair her life as easily as she fixes cars. She was all set to open her own body shop in Last Chance when her mother ran off and left her to manage the family yarn shop instead. Now guided by the unsolicited-though well-intended-advice of the weekly knitting club, Molly works to untangle this mess. But her plan unravels when the new landlord turns out to be difficult-as well as tall, dark, and handsome.

Simon Wolfe returns to quickly settle his father’s estate and then leave Last Chance for good. Still wounded by a broken heart, Simon is surprised when the town’s charming streets and gentle spirit bring back good memories. Soon the beautiful, strong-willed Molly sparks a powerful attraction that tempts him to break his iron-clad no-commitment rule. Can Simon and Molly find a way to share work space-and build a future together in Last Chance?

My Thoughts:
I absolutely love Last Chance. I grew up in a small town, and now live in a small town right next to my hometown. I am a small town girl, so Last Chance always sound amazing to me.

I’ve read a few Last Chance books before this one. Last Chance Knit and Stitch is #6 in the series, but the 8th book (there are a couple of .5 books). I’ve also read Last Chance Beauty Queen and Last Chance Bride.  Both were fun books, just like this one.

Let’s also get excited about the fact that there is knitting in this book! Yes, I’m a knitter, and yes, I’ve been the butt of many granny jokes because of it. But Last Chance and knitting together? Of course I’m going to read it!

With each book in the series, you get a young man and woman in town that, through the odds, pair up. It’s never easy, the odds are always against them, or they are against themselves, but there is always “the sight” of a batty old lady that will win in the end!

I read back through my other reviews from this series to refresh myself on how I felt about the books. I wrote that they were fun, but I don’t quite remember them being as fun as this one. Molly is up to her eyeballs in car repairs and restoring a car of her own when she is left in charge of the knitting store. How polar opposite is that? Now she has to try to keep up with both and keep house. And keeping up with both is quite hilarious at times. She is definitely left in a pickle and I laughed out loud as some of the scenes played out.

I liked Molly, but I was a little confused by her. I just couldn’t get a grasp. She’s in her late 20s, she’s a mechanic, she has a male friend who is not her boyfriend and really isn’t looking. She seems like she is strong and doesn’t seem needy in the slightest. But then, she lives at home with her parents and brother and doesn’t quite seem to have that confidence at home that she does while under the hood. I figured her for a woman who lived alone and had for quite sometime. I was very surprised to find the different dynamic at work and home, but I understand that it happens. Everyone at my work finds it hard to believe when I tell them I don’t wear the pants in my house. I am quite vocal at work, and may even be considered bossy (although I’m not offended by the word).

I’m also always interested in these small town books how you will likely always run across a character that has gone away to greener (and normally larger) pastures, then is forced to come home with intentions of only staying enough minutes to complete their task and head home. It never works that like. Ever. But it’s a character a lot of these small town books seem to always have. I’ve been working on a small town book and have a couple of these characters myself. You just can’t help it sometimes :)

I give Last Chance Knit and Stitch 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

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Released: November 2013
Author Website

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