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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Writing Sample: Jaimie's Review of Newes From The Dead

Okay, we will be switching this to our regular Tuesday thing but, as you can see, kids and summer have knocked us off our schedule a bit. Oy...

So, my beautiful daughter has her second book review in the works here. Today she is reviewing Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper. This is a book I was given a couple of years ago (so...sorry...) and she took on with her hungry and fierce love of writing and reading (wonder where she gets that from...hehehe).

Check out the book, enjoy the review and hopefully your summer has been more restful than mine. <3

A review of Newes from the Dead

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of historical fiction. I think this has to do with the many, many novel studies I had to do for social studies classes. We are usually given poorly-written fast reads that I just can’t get into, no matter how hard I try. But, after reading the true story Newes from the Dead by popular English author Mary Hooper, I definitely regretted filling up with abhorrence at the sight of historical fiction titles.

Newes from the Dead centers around the servant Anne Green, a murderess found guilty of infantile and hung in 1650. But, there’s a catch. Anne can’t move, can’t scream, and is locked in darkness with her racing thoughts. But, despite all this, she is alive. Her newly found time might be limited, however. Anne lays on a dissection table, surrounded by doctors. The suspense will surely keep the reader on hook as the novel switches between perspectives of the real world and the possible purgatory state Anne is in. The story develops through Anne’s flashbacks and haunting thoughts of the crime she didn’t actually commit. Robert, a shy, stuttering doctor gives you the information on what’s happening outside Anne’s trapped soul. He also may or may not have noticed the corpse’s eye flutter...

Hooper’s 60+ books targeted towards youth have a huge fanbase tied to them. Newes from the Dead proves there’s a reason why young adults flock to her novels. The characters feel real; The first person narration of Anne Green sounded like a primary source diary from the seventeenth century. Hooper exceeded my expeditions with that fact, since a lot of historical fiction characters are dull, twenty first century-like individuals trapped in the past. As for the gruesome atmosphere and tension the author wants her audience to feel, it’s carried out phenomenally. The hellish realities of this period of time will send shivers down your spine.

This book is also a cup of tea for those not completely dedicated to horror and mystery genres. The perfect ingredients to a great novel include elements of romance, relatable material, drama, and family. Newes from the Dead makes sure to make these elements present in her writing. I can assure anybody now interested in this book will finish reading curious to find out more about the legendary Anne Green, just like I did. If that’s that case, or you’re just wanting to get some juicy spoilers on what happens to this young women, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a good source.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday Writing Sample: Dark Water

Welcome to our writing sample day!

I know that I've shared this in the past, but I am excited that I have re-newed all my books with CleanReads publishers and am celebrating.

Join us.

Stephanie and her fantastic staff gave me a shot when no one else did so I am celebrating. YAY!

Enjoy because the sequel will be out soon. <3

September  2009 

Jagged  streaks  of  lightning  zigzag  across  the  midnight  sky.  He   only   counts   to   four   before   the   thunder   rumbles   over   the   tree  he’s  standing  under.  He  pulls  the  hood  of  his  fishing  jacket  further  down   over   his   face   as   the   rain   falls   harder.   The   wind   stirs   the  waves  even  higher  around  the  floating  dock  his  fishing  boat  is  tied  to,  threatening  to  toss  it  over  like  a  paper  boat  in  a  stream. 

He  throws  the  bundle  over  his  shoulder,  grunting  from  the  weight,  and  clambers  across  the  slick  dock.  Feeling  like  a  child  on  a  funhouse  ride,  he  loses  his  footing,  falling  to  one  knee,  and  drops  the  bundle  half  into  the  fishing  boat.

Cursing   under   his   breath,   he   kicks   the   bundle   completely  into   the   boat,   pulls   up   the   motor,   then   unties   the   boat   from   the  dock.  Another  flash  of  lightning  lights  up  the  sky. 

He  counts.  One  .  .  .  two  .  .  . 

Thunder   explodes   above   him.   The   waves   form   whitecaps  now,   throwing   the   tiny   boat   around   like   a   tumbleweed   in   the  desert.  The  oars  feel  like  lead  as  he  uses  all  of  his  strength  to  pull  them  out  of  the  water,  pushing  against  the  wind  forcing  them  back,  then   plunging   them   back   down.   He   clenches   his   teeth   with   each  movement,  his  arms  aching,  his  shoulders  burning. 

After  what  feels  like  hours,  he  reaches  the  middle  of  the  lake.  He  positions  the  oars  in  the  clamps.  The  rain  pours  down  in  sheets  now.  A  fork  of  lightning  shoots  across  to  the  forest  on  the  other  side  of  the  lake.  Two  seconds  later  a  loud  crack  echoes  across  the  night  sky,  causing  him  to  jump.  A  wave  crashes  over  the  side  of  the  boat,  water  pouring  in.  He   frantically   bails   water   out   of   the   boat,   then   grabs   his   net.   He  rolls  the  bundle  in  the  net,  tying  his  three  heaviest  fishing  weights  to  the  ends.  He  steadies  himself  then  lifts  the  bundle  up  to  the  side  of  the  boat,  balancing  it  against  his  thigh.  His  overworked  muscles  shake  as  he  tosses  the  bundle  overboard.  It  bobs  in  the  whitecaps. 

He  picks  up  the  first  weight,  tossing  it  into  the  water. He   grunts,   picking   up   the   second   weight.   The   bundle   is  tugged  under  the  surface.  She’s  crying  now.  He  can  hear  it.  Just  like  earlier.  He  glares,  a  smirk  stretching  his  lips. 

The  boat  rocks  harder,  the  waves  throwing  water  in  the  boat.  He’s  thrown  backwards,  hitting  his  head  on  the  seat.  He  feels  a  trail  of   warmth   oozing   down   the   back   of   his   head   and   neck.   He  struggles  back  up  to  his  knees,  lifts  the  last  weight  up,  and  tosses  it  over  the  side. 

The   bundle   bobs   for   a   second   before   sinking   completely  under.  He  breathes  out  sharply. 
The  rain  eases  up  on  his  row  back  to  shore.  Thunder  growls  off  in  the  distance,  with  a  flutter  of  light  sparking  over  on  the  other  side  of  the  lake  in  response.  The  worst  of  the  storm  seems  to  have  passed.  As  he  steadies  the  boat  against  the  wild  wind,  the  choppy  water  threatening  to  overturn  the  tiny  fishing  boat  every  second,  he  whistles  “Bridge  Over  Troubled  Water.”

It’s  done.

Or  so  he  thinks.

He  didn’t  see  the  tiny  rowboat  bobbing  in  the  sheltered  bay  not   too   far   away.   Or   the   black   eyes   seeing   it   all.   Whispers   swirl  around  in  the  wind  from  the  watery  grave  as  the  fishing  boat  gets  smaller,  enveloped  by  the  darkness  and  raging  water.

.  .  .  help  me  .  .  . 

Strong   hands   with   long   narrow   fingers   grip   the   well-used  oars.  The  Watcher  rocks,  tiny  ripples  spreading  out  from  the  tiny  vessel,   then   mixing   into   the   rough   waters   beyond.   He   sings   his  song,  calling  to  her.  She  answers. 

.  .  .  help  me,  please  .  .  .

The  Watcher  nods,  his  eyes  narrowing.  He  stops  rocking  and  lowers  the  oars  back  into  the  water.  He  rows  backwards,  and  his  boat  disappears  into  the  sheltered  calm  of  the  bay. 

  .  .  .  help  .  .  .  me  .  .  .   

“Soon  enough,”  the  Watcher  whispers  out  to  the  lake.  “The  time  will  come  soon.”  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Talk About It Tuesday: Purple Hat Gang Book Review by Jaimie Lepp

Today is usually a day where we 'talk about' stuff that no one else does to get others talking. Today, I am so proud to promote my daughter, Jaimie's, very first book review.

We've hired her on to review books...both because I don't have the time with my novel-writing and...well...honestly...there have been some health issues stressing us all out around here. 

But that's another blog post.

Jaimie has reviewed The Purple Hat Gang written by one of my amazing author friends, Judith Kristen. Jaimie did a phenomenal job with this write up so please enjoy, read the book and share her review with those you think may be interested.

Thank you, my girl. You done good. ;)


He is able who thinks he is able: A review of Judith Kristen’s “The Purple Hat Gang”

Ah, coming-of-age novels. They’re something I’ve really gotten into since most of them skip the silly cliches. So, when I read the synopsis of The Purple Hat Gang at 9:00 pm on a school night, I sighed. Why? I knew this was going to have to be a binge read. And I was right. The prologue got me completely addicted, just like the coffee I have to chug in the mornings because of these late night reading sessions.

The Purple Hat Gang centers around five 8th graders: Dee Ann, Mary Ellen, Myra, Kate, and our protagonist, Julie. It was the swingin’ sixties when everyone was carefree and happy. . . well, not everyone. During a late night pow-wow on Julie’s thirteenth birthday party, the girls confess their deepest worries and conflicts. This kicks off a series of good-hearted pursuits to fix family issues, separation, illness in loved ones, boy trouble and mysteries all affecting the five girls. This is all while 8th grade graduation stress consumes them. Yes, rich Dee, bubbly Mary, kind Myra, troubled Kate, and intelligent Julie may be very different girls, but their long term friendship and love completely abolishes their unlikeness. You will finish this novel convinced that you too are a doer of good deeds, master of your fate, and a captain of your soul.

Author Judith Kristen does a phenomenal job with the character development, despite the novel being her debut in her writing career. Characters are developed through interactions with Julie in first person, as well as their own separate sections of dialogue when Julie is not present. Each of the five main character’s problems are acknowledged and dealt with throughout the perfectly paced book. Supporting characters introduced are never just thrown in there for the hell of things, and are easily likeable.  There’s hardly any stock characters and even those with stereotypes have their surprises. No matter if you’re 13, 23, 33, or even 103, there’s a character- main or supporting- you can relate to. I personally fell in love with the personality of Bubby, Myra’s grandmother. The sweet lady was always full of wise words (“Our own heart is the temple, and the philosophy is peace and love”) and educated Myra on many religions. The giggly, love-smitten side of me liked Julie’s love interest, Andrew, perhaps a little too much.

As for the flow of the book, it was pieced together well and wasn’t awkward in the least. You will never be able to easily guess what will happen next in the novel, leaving you anticipating every word. You will finish this novel feeling completely satisfied. Maybe even a little teary, too.

Kudos to Judith Kristen. You exceeded every one of my expectations for this novel. And for those readers out there feeling the same way, I suggest checking out Kristen’s other young adult novels. There’s quite a selection for 60’s, young love, and Beatles enthusiasts such as myself. Kristen has also released a series of picture books for any younger children.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Music Mantra Monday - Anyway the Wind Blows

Hey everyone. I know it's been awhile since we've checked in here. We've had just an enormous amount of things to deal with around here...some good...some not so good. But we're back.

Today's song choice is very close to my heart and very personal. No, it's not the happiest of songs but one I truly felt compelled to share this week.

I had the absolute pleasure of taking three of my kids to see Queen when they came to Edmonton this past week. It's not quite the same without Freddie Mercury (and how COULD it be?), but Adam Lambert did a fantastic job.

Long-time followers of our blog know that I have always used music in this house as a way to calm, to bring back happiness, to do my kids' therapy and just to renew the soul. We have many favorites here but we love our Beatles, Queen, 'angry music' from mommy's youth and many others. Anything goes, really.

Queen was a band that my beautiful boy has always loved. I had folks at the concert come up to me and say, "I think it's so awesome that your children, as young as they are, appreciate and love this music. Goodonya!" I agree.

My son got to go down to the first row level to take pictures, not that he got many staring in awe at the band. HA!

Freddie was an amazingly talented human being and I am honored to give him credit today. This song in particular has very special meaning to me at this point in time so I hope you all enjoy listening to it.

Be strong, be grateful, be happy, be positive and don't take anything for granted because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

Any way the wind blows....

Happy Monday to you all.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Music Mantra Monday: Keep Moving Forward (Climb Every Mountain)

I hope everyone's day is off to a great start.

I know we haven't been as consistent as we usually are with our posts, but we've been having some bumps in the road we've been struggling to get over. Life happens. If it was meant to be easy, I think there'd be even more unhappiness in the world as people would never learn to appreciate all the good they have around them.

Everyone goes through tough times. Some only face an irritating road bump. Others face a life changing/life altering mountain. Either way, I believe that we're supposed to learn from all times, good, bad and ugly. And when you're knocked off the path you are on, how you view the situation, how you cope with it, who you turn to to get through it and what you learn from it all play factors in making it through.

Keeping on the cheesy train for today's post, after the past two weeks of utter chaos around here, I woke up early one morning, looked out the window while making some coffee and was greeted by my Blue Jay friend chatting away, eating seeds from the bird feeder hanging just outside the kitchen window. This song instantly popped into my head.

The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies of all time. The movie comes out every year around Easter time and I've see it so many times I can probably write the entire script out. This song, Climb Every Mountain, I've always found incredibly inspiring.

In this scene, Maria is struggling between her determination to give her life to God and becoming a nun, and her feelings for Captain Von Trapp. The Reverend Mother is telling Maria that she has to face her fears and life's problems, not run away from them. Which can be really hard to do if you are facing something huge.

Trust me I get that.

It's been a whole bunch of learning around here the last few months. And you know what? That's okay. As long as you always turn to that one source of inspiration, you'll have the strength, aspiration and courage to keep moving.

Just like in this song: "Climb every mountain...'til you find your dream."

Happy Monday!

Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
'Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life,
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream.

Read more: The Sound Of Music - Climb Every Mountain Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!

Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE