A Light Of Her Own: A Review.

A Light of Her Own
by Carrie Callaghan

Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Amberjack Publishing
Hardcover; 320 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Biographical

 

 

In Holland 1633, a woman’s ambition has no place.

Judith is a painter, dodging the law and whispers of murder to become the first woman admitted to the prestigious Haarlem artist’s guild. Maria is a Catholic in a country where the faith is banned, hoping to absolve her sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic.

Both women’s destinies will be shaped by their ambitions, running counter to the city’s most powerful men, whose own plans spell disaster. A vivid portrait of a remarkable artist, A Light of Her Own is a richly-woven story of grit against the backdrop of Rembrandt and an uncompromising religion.

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Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

4Did you guys know that I am something of an art lover? It’s true. I absolutely adore art; I like many different artists and different styles, so when I have an opportunity to read a book featuring an artist that I like, I definitely try to take the chance. When I read that Judith Leyster was a featured character in this one, I jumped on this blog tour in a hot minute.

“Judith leaned against the small window ledge and looked inside. The frigid twilight air seeped past her cloak into her many layers of tunics and her well-worn bodice, and the painted ledge below her numb fingertips had dulled to the gray of a low sky. Behind the glass, the inn’s golden light beckoned, and though it was not yet suppertime, already drinkers dressed in shades of brown sat at small tables. Her teeth chattered with cold and nerves.” 

Thus, we meet her, waiting outside of a tavern for someone to sell a painting for her and to give her the coins. As she is not a Master, she is not allowed to sell her own work. Joining the Guild is damn near impossible, though eventually, she becomes one of two women to do so. Her talent is undeniable, particularly to Frans de Grebber, to whom she had been apprenticed to since she was thirteen. She is twenty-three at our meeting her. Dejected and disappointed, she makes her way back to him and her room that she shares with Maria, a fellow artist, and Frans’ daughter.

I absolutely adored this novel. I felt like Ms. Callaghan used words as a brush, painting the world for us and making it a vivid painting. I was delighted to be drawn back into the seventeenth century. She doesn’t hide anything, the grit, the hustle, and bustle, the patriarchy–everything was very male-dominated back then. Yet, despite all of the odds against her, Judith’s determination shines through. It is not a spoiler if you know the history that she achieves the goal of joining the Guild and becomes a Master herself. Only one woman previous to herself had attained such a goal.

Maria’s story is good, but I think it was wasted here; her heart wasn’t into art as much as it was into devotion to God. She was a devout Catholic in the very Protestant Netherlands. (Thus, she had to hide it.) I enjoyed it, but the spark wasn’t as bright as when Judith’s story was being told. I’d have rather just continued with Judith. There were moments where I felt that Maria was being childish and did not act her age. Whilst I know that life was cruel to her and she was trying to make up for something, I just found her sort of forgettable. Perhaps that is the curse of having such a vibrant, lively character in Judith? Whatever it was, I didn’t feel that much of a connection to Maria.

I love when someone takes history and writes a story from it, bringing it even more to life. So often stories are simply left to history, where they disappear and are footnotes. Judith shouldn’t be left to be forgotten. Hers is a story that everyone, especially those who love art should hear; they should learn about determination and how never to give up. I look forward to reading whatever Ms. Callaghan writes next.

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Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, please visit Carrie Callaghan’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 12
Feature at Naomi Finley’s Blog
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, November 13
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, November 14
Interview at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 15
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, November 16
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Sunday, November 18
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, November 19
Review at Just One More Chapter
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, November 20
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Friday, November 23
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, November 26
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, November 27
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Pass Me That Book

Thursday, November 29
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, November 30
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Monday, December 3
Review & Interview at Reading the Past

Tuesday, December 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, December 5
Review at I’m Shelf-ish

Thursday, December 6
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, December 7
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 signed hardcovers of A Light of Her Own! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Light of Her Own

Excerpt: A Holiday by Gaslight.

A Holiday By Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
Excerpt from Chapter One

02_A Holiday in GaslightAn icy late November breeze rustled the bare branches of the trees along the Serpentine. Hyde Park was practically deserted at this time of morning. And no wonder. It was freezing cold, the gray skies heavy with the scent of impending rain. Sophie Appersett thrust her hands more firmly into the confines of the oversized mink muff she wore suspended from a silken cord round her neck. “So you see, Mr. Sharpe. There’s no reason to continue as we are.”

Edward Sharpe walked at her side in complete silence. His large gloved hands were clasped behind his back, his deep blue eyes fixed straight ahead. His expression was somber. So somber that, when paired with his severe black suit, black topcoat, and black beaver hat, he might easily have been mistaken for a man on his way to a funeral.

No one who saw him now would ever believe he was one of the wealthiest manufactory owners in Greater London. And they certainly wouldn’t credit him as being part owner of not one but two separate railway concerns.

Sophie cast him a sidelong glance. He was a handsome man, if one liked tall, dark males of the serious variety, but he was infuriatingly difficult to read. He never betrayed his feelings with a look or a word. And when it came to conversation, silence was, by far, his favorite subject. During their brief courtship, she’d been obliged to do most of the talking.

In the past two months, she’d come to hate the sound of her own voice. It was always droning on and on, filling up the vast emptiness between them with magpie-like chatter. Forever talking, talking, talking, but never really saying anything.

But she was saying something now. Something she should have said two months ago. “We simply do not suit.”

“No indeed, ma’am.” Mr. Sharpe’s voice was a deep, rich baritone. He had no discernible accent. Quite the opposite. He spoke in the cultured tones of a gentleman. Where he’d learned to do so, she hadn’t the slightest idea. His parents were London shopkeepers. He’d never gone to Eton or Cambridge. Instead, he’d spent his youth delivering packages and stocking the shelves of their store.

And now he was one and thirty. Wealthy, powerful, and—according to her parents—imminently eligible.

“He’s trying to gain entrée into polite society,” Mama had said when she and Papa first broached the subject of an alliance. “It’s why he wants to court you, my dear.”

“And he’ll never flaunt his common origins in your face,” Papa had added. “He’s too ashamed of them. Now he’s made his fortune, he wishes to forget his humble beginnings. And if he can forget them, Sophia, then so can you.”

Sophie didn’t care about Mr. Sharpe’s humble beginnings. Quite the opposite. She’d often wished he would speak of them. She’d been curious about him and desired to know him better. But after two months…

She sighed. “I haven’t told my parents yet. I know they’ll be dreadfully disappointed. They like you very much.”

“I expect they do,” he said.

She shot him a narrow glance. His face was set in lines as immovable as granite, his broad shoulders taut beneath the expensive fabric of his topcoat. “You needn’t be unpleasant about it. They were no more mercenary than you.”

“Mercenary,” he repeated. “Is that what I’ve been?”

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s how these things are done. It’s how they’ve always been done. Alliances contrived between wealthy merchant’s daughters and impoverished nobleman.

Or—as in our situation—successful men of business and the daughters of the impoverished country gentry.” A troubled frown clouded her brow. “I’m sorry it’s all come to nothing for you.”

“Are you?”

“Yes, but…honestly, Mr. Sharpe, if you wish to gain admittance into society, you would do better to look higher than the Appersetts of Derbyshire. Find yourself an earl’s daughter. A lady who is accustomed to moving about in society. As for myself, I—”

“Is there someone else?” he asked abruptly.

Sophie’s gaze jerked to his. “What?”

“Is there another man? Someone you prefer?”

“Goodness no. If there were, I’d never have agreed to walk out with you.” She slowed her pace. They’d ventured too far from the entrance to the park. And she couldn’t stay much longer. She had to get back before her absence was remarked. “It’s only that we have nothing at all in common. After two months, surely you must see that.”

He made no reply.

Sophie worried her lower lip between her teeth. How much more was she required to say in order to put an end to their relationship? She had no experience with this sort of thing. No man had ever asked leave to court her before. And, she thought grimly, it was very possible that no man ever would again. “Perhaps I should have said something sooner.”

“Why didn’t you?”

She looked out across the choppy waters of the Serpentine. “I don’t know. I suppose I thought…” That he would warm to her. That he would come to care for her. Even to love her a little. She’d been ready to love him. It would have taken so little encouragement. A fond glance. A kind word. An affectionate touch. “But it doesn’t matter now, does it? We’ve come to the natural end of things.”

“As you say.” Mr. Sharpe withdrew his gold pocket watch from his waistcoat to look at the time. It was a singularly dismissive gesture.

Sophie stopped. The chill breeze rustled her heavy woolen skirts around her legs. “Am I keeping you from an appointment, sir?”

He stopped as well, turning to face her. His expression remained unreadable, but she detected a slight hardening along the firm line of his jaw. As if he were irritated—or even angry. “You are, Miss Appersett.”

An embarrassed flush crept into her cheeks. Here she was attempting to sever their relationship in the most delicate manner possible, and all he could think about was his next meeting! He didn’t even care. The past two months had been as nothing to him. It was what she’d always suspected, but still…

It hurt. She had so wanted him to like her.

She clenched her fingers within the confines of her muff. “I will not detain you. If all is settled between us—”

“Yes, yes,” he said impatiently. “We don’t suit.”

“Then you agree—”

“Perfectly. There’s no reason to continue this charade.”

Sophie inwardly winced. A charade? Is that what he thought of their courtship? How utterly lowering. “No reason at all.” She withdrew her hand from her muff and extended it to him. “I wish you well, Mr. Sharpe.”

Mr. Sharpe’s gaze dropped to her outstretched hand. It was encased in a red kid glove, slightly worn at the thumb. After a moment of hesitation, his much larger hand engulfed hers, clasping it just a heartbeat longer than was strictly necessary. “And I you, Miss Appersett,” he said.

And then he let her go.

Holiday by Gaslight: A Review.

A Holiday by Gaslight
by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Perfectly Proper Press
eBook & Paperback; 172 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance/Christmas/Novella

 

 

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.

Available on Amazon

Praise for A Holiday by Gaslight

“Matthews includes all the required elements of a cozy English Christmas and a classic Victorian love story. Matthews’ novella is full of comfort and joy—a sweet treat for romance readers that’s just in time for Christmas. A very merry tale of romance that’s perfect for the holiday season.” -Kirkus Reviews

“Matthews (The Matrimonial Advertisement) pays homage to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South with her admirable portrayal of the Victorian era’s historic advancements in addition to courtship struggles arising from societal castes. Revealed incrementally throughout are family circumstances molding the characters of both Sophie and Ned, allowing their genuine identities to evolve naturally, just like their sincere and sweet romance…Readers will easily fall for Sophie and Ned in their gaslit surroundings.” -Library Journal, starred review

“A Holiday by Gaslight is a real delight. Completely satisfying as a graceful love story, it also doubles as a family drama and an authentic presentation of the 1860s that reads with the simplicity and visual gusto of a period movie…It’s a sweet tale filled with believable characters…Fun to read and fun to read again, this book is one of my favorites now.” -Readers’ Favorite

“This is magical, it beautifully entwines a gorgeous Victorian Christmas, social prejudices of the era and the most marvellously different cast of characters that you would ever want in a historical romance…[A] wonderfully charming and vividly rich romance, that will have the readers swooning with absolute delight. Perfect!” -Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

“A perfect holiday treat for Victorian-loving romantics. Sophie and Ned’s sweet romance is sure to steal your heart.” -Lena Goldfinch, bestselling author of The Unexpected Bride

“This is the epitome of what historical romance is all about. Like all of Mimi Matthews’ books, her characters are full-bodied and evenly matched; the details are historically accurate, coloring the pages with vibrancy. Sure to warm your heart–perfect read for the holiday season!” -Christina Boyd, The Quill Ink

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Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Lost Letter) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, November 13
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Wednesday, November 14
Review at Proverbial Reads
Feature at Tea Book Blanket
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, November 16
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 19
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Friday, November 23
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, November 26
Review at Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Friday, November 30
Review at The Lit Bitch

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of A Holiday By Gaslight! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Holiday By Gaslight

The Resolutions: A Spotlight.

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I won this on Twitter and I’m over the moon to share with you guys. This looks like a book I am absolutely going to be in love with. Thank you so much, Mia, for the amazing Swag–this is my first time getting real book swag! ❤ Untitled-a1a
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  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Pub Date: November 13, 2018

A heart-expanding novel about four Latinx teens who make New Year’s resolutions for one another—and the whirlwind of a year that follows. Fans of Erika L. Sánchez and Emery Lord will fall for this story of friendship, identity, and the struggle of finding yourself when all you want is to start over.

From hiking trips to four-person birthday parties to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable. But now with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them to one another—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, find your calling outside your mom’s Puerto Rican restaurant, finally learn Spanish, and say yes to everything.

But as the year unfolds, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heartbreaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.Untitled-1b
“In a novel full of heart, Mia García has captured the tenuous lives of young people with a beautiful examination of friendships. Emotional and honest, The Resolutionsconfirms García’s spot as contemporary YA’s exciting new talent.” (Lilliam Rivera, author of The Education of Margot Sanchez)

★ “Riveting and heartrending. This celebration of Latinx culture and the power of a community to create healing and growth is recommended as a first purchase.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

“[This story] explores heartbreak, family commitments, dreams, friendship, and other familiar adolescent challenges with authentic sensitivity.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A warm, comforting story of identity and self-discovery.” (ALA Booklist)Untitled-1

INDIEBOUND || AMAZON|| B&N ||BOOKS A MILLION

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M. García was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She moved to New York where she studied creative writing at The New School, worked in publishing, and lived under a pile of to-be-read books. She is the author of Even If the Sky Falls and The Resolutions from Katherine Tegen books (an imprint of HarperCollins). You can find her at http://www.mgarciawrites.com.

Double Spotlight!

unnamedIn the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.

Jasmine Bai, an art student who has been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American.

With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity, the serenity of their community is forever shattered.

Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.

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Amazon  || Open Books

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unnamed (1)In 1942, Birch Bai, a Chinese pilot, and Danny Hardy, a downed American pilot, become sworn brothers and best friends.

In the summer of 1945, both airmen’s planes go down in Yunnan Province of China during one of many daring missions. They are captured, imprisoned, and tortured by the Japanese for information about the atomic bomb. Just days before the end of WWII, Danny makes an irrevocable decision to save Birch’s life.

For Birch, surviving the war is only the beginning of the battle. He must deal with the dreadful reality in China—the civil war, the separation of the country, the death of one friend in the Communist-controlled Mainland and another under the Nationalist government, and his wrongful imprisonment in Taiwan.

From Chungking to Yunnan, and from Taiwan to San Francisco, the sequel to Wings of a Flying Tiger takes readers along on an epic journey.

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Open Books (pre-order)

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Iris Yang (Qing Yang) was born and raised in China. She’s loved reading and writing since she was a child, but in China, creative writing was a dangerous career. As famous writers and translators, her grandmother and her aunt were wrongfully accused as Counter-Revolutiounnamednary Rightists, so Iris had to choose a safer path—studying science. After graduating from Wuhan University and passing a series of exams, she was accepted by the prestigious CUSBEA (China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program). At age 23, with poor English, little knowledge of the country, and 500 borrowed dollars, she came to the United States as a graduate student at the University of Rochester.

Later, she received a Ph.D. in molecular biology and worked at the University of North Carolina. Although she’s published a number of scientific papers, she has a passion for creative writing, and her short stories have won contests and have been published in anthologies. Currently, Iris is working on a story based on her grandmother, who was the first Chinese woman to receive a master’s degree in Edinburgh in the UK. Besides writing, Iris loves hiking, dancing, photography, travel, and she had a private pilot license.

Author website: https://www.irisyang-author.com/
Twitter: @IrisYang86351
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ching27517

Guest Post: Iris Yang

unnamedWings of a Flying Tiger is a heroic tale in which ordinary Chinese risked their lives to rescue and safeguard a downed American pilot in WWII in China. It is a work of fiction. But to me, a Chinese-American, it is also personal.

My mother and grandma had lived in Nanking and escaped from the city just days before the Nanking Massacre when the Japanese soldiers slaughtered 300,000 innocent Chinese and raped 20,000 women in six weeks. Both my mother’s and father’s families fled to Chungking, where Japanese frequently bombed the wartime capital. My father told me the repulsive smell of burning flesh, and as a young child, he had nightmares about the raids for several years. A good friend’s father drowned when the Japanese attacked his boat; even unable to swim, he jumped into the Yangtze River to avoid being blasted. A Japanese friend sincerely apologized for the atrocities her fellow countrymen had committed. She knew a former soldier who forced naked Chinese women to march with them to bring up their morale.

China was an isolated country while I was growing up. We were told that the American soldiers were crude and coward. I didn’t read anything about the Flying Tigers, a group of American volunteer pilots who helped China fight Japan in WWII until I came to the States. I was touched once I learned the truth. And the more I read, the more I was touched. I wanted to thank the Flying Tigers. What is a better way to show my gratitude than writing a book about them?

As a Chinese, I’m thankful for the Flying Tigers’ bravery and sacrifice; without their help, the course of the Chinese history might have been changed, my family might not have survived, and I might not have existed. As a U.S. citizen, I’m honored to write a book about the American heroes. It’s a privilege. A duty.

But writing historical fiction in English wasn’t easy for me.

Born and raised in China, I learned English as a foreign language in school. The learning was limited and sometimes even wrong. I came to the U.S. in my early twenties as a graduate student for a career in science.

My first English “teacher” in the U.S. was TV. I didn’t even know the concept of the commercial. I thought accidentally I touched the remote control or there was something wrong with the TV when a program suddenly jumped to unrelated subjects. In

China, at the time, there were two stations, broadcasting from 6pm to 10pm. There was no commercial. It took me a while to figure out what was going on.

Growing up in a family of professors, I’ve always loved reading. Even before I was born, my parents and grandparents had bought tons of books for me. During the Cultural Revolution, however, Red Guards took most of them away. I read the very few books left behind over and over and traded books with friends. There weren’t many books available—libraries were closed, bookstores had nothing except political works.

My hometown, Wuhan, is one of the “Three Furnaces” in China. We had no air conditioning or electric fans. In the summer evenings, we sat outside. Surround by neighboring kids, my father told us lots of stories—Chinese and Western classics. Romance of the Three Kingdom, The Monkey King, The Great General Yue Fei, Sherlock Holmes, Spartacus, Robinson Crusoe… His words took me all around the world, and I fell in love with literatures.

But creative writing was a dangerous career in China. As famous writers, my grandmother and aunt were wrongfully accused as Counter-Revolutionary Rightists. I had to choose science—a safer path. Fiction writing was only a faraway dream; writing it in English was beyond my wildest dream.

I started “writing,” not because I wanted to write any books, but because I desperately needed help. I was a very negative person in an unhappy marriage, and I tried hard to change the situation. One book I read said that if you keep writing down five positive things a day, in twenty-one days you can change your negative thoughts.

So I jotted down five positive things a day. It started with words or simple phrases. In time, words became sentences; sentences turned into paragraphs; paragraphs grew into pages. All positive. I didn’t change in twenty-one days. It took me two years. But the end result is remarkable. I’m no longer a negative person.

The “side effects” of this practice? I started writing short stories, then novels.

Writing changed my life!

I learned fiction writing by reading lots of books. When I wrote my novels, I’m sure I spent more time than most people. I had to check two dictionaries—Chinese to English and English to Chinese. Even so, no matter how hard I tried, I still made grammatical mistakes. That frustrated me. There were plenty of times that I laughed and scolded myself for being so stubborn to embark on this journey that seemed almost impossible to succeed. Nowadays, so many people write; everyone has an advantage over me.

I wish I’d grown up speaking English. I wish I’d had a proper education or training. Since I can’t change the past, I just have to work harder.

Writing this book made me a better person. I learned that I could do the “impossible,” and dreams do come true when one works hard enough.

Tribute to Stan Lee.

Dear Mr. Lee,

I meant to post this sooner but I admit, your passing hurt me. It feels like I lost a beloved member of the family. I don’t feel alone in that. Millions of others probably feel the same. However, we all are huge fans and this one hurt. I suppose we all thought or hoped you were immortal. In a way, you are. There’d be no Marvel without you. No films, no global phenomenon. The comics, perhaps. You are integral to its success. We, as your fans, are integral to ensuring your legacy will endure. That is a great responsibility, but I think we’ve got this.

Thank you for your genius, your heart, your candor. Thank you for putting yourself out there and showing all of us that no matter how old we are, we can still attain our dreams. You were in your late thirties when you created The Fantastic Four, and forty when you created Spiderman. That’s only a few years older than me. (Good lord.) You are a man who spoke truths in unpopular times, standing with everyone and embracing all.

You humans slaughter each other because of the color of your skin, or your faith or your politics — or for no reason at all — too many of you hate as easily as you draw breath.“–Magneto

People are so quick to dismiss comics as kid stuff and that is a mistake. The lessons in a comic can be applied to anyone, anywhere, from every path of life. You once wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Your power was in creating

entertainment and wonder…and you carried the responsibility with such ease. Your glee and joy, your sadness and passion shines through. But most importantly, your candor and wisdom. To speak these words..they’re for all of us. Especially in this day and age, where tensions are rising. But I believe in a world where bullies don’t win and that they’ll be defeated. Perhaps it’s a naive view but it’s one instilled in me by you, by Cap…by all the heroes who don’t take it. People who stand up like that man in The Avengers, telling Loki off.

The cameos in every single Marvel Studios production was a highlight and I think also a continuation of your carrying that great responsibility. Everyone knew that they’d see you. I like to think some people came for you. I know I did. My favorite will always be “Tony Stank?” from Civil War. Your appreciation of the fans and dedication to always being so approachable is also commendable. I wish I could have had the privilege. But existing at the same time was always cool with me too.

Your legacy will outlive us all. You, along with Jack Kirby, are truly wonderful and legendary figures for all the joy you brought countless amounts of us. And you aren’t done. No. Because as long as there’s interest, you will live on and there will always be those who are interested. I like to think of that as the greatest end credit scene to your life.

I think I will close here. ‘Nuff Said!

Excelsior, Stan, Excelsior.

A Few Of My Favorite Things…

I realize that as of late, I’ve been slacking. Maybe it’s because I’m in a slump, maybe I’m depressed or maybe I’ve been focused on the shit-storm that is Florida’s recount. It is honestly a mix of all but most especially choice number three, let’s be real. I’m not going preachy political on y’all, I promise. I voted–yay! (I hope you guys did too!) But I swear. It’s so close and the orange guy in the White House (not a fan) along with our governor (who looks like Voldemort with a nose)…ugh. It’s stressful! 😂 Honestly, I just want to see some results.

Now that I have vented–you guys are such good listeners!–I thought I’d do a post on some of my favorite series! Harry Potter and the Hunger Games are probably no surprise to you. I have mentioned before how much I love HP and HG. They both are classified as YA/children’s series but I think that’s definitely selling them short. They’re so much more than that, considering the issues that they face. I mean, the Hunger Games especially! They’re literally killing one another. As I have already discussed in several other posts why I love Harry Potter, I don’t think I need to rehash it for anyone.

I am sure you eagle eyed readers noticed that I don’t have Cursed Child in there with the rest of my collection. Nor will I ever. I do not want it, nor do I accept it as canon. There are just too many continuity errors for my taste.

I got into the Hunger Games late admittedly; it was the movie that got me to want to read the books. (Cue the gasps!) I found that I liked the film just as much as the books. It’s a rare case when that happens, but I totally admit it here. I know some say that Katniss was white-washed, but I think Jennifer Lawrence played her perfectly. My favorite character will always be mahogany! Haha, you know who I mean. Miss Effie Trinket. I love all of them but sometimes it’s fun to not hardcore fan girl over the main leads. It fascinated me that this was tagged toward young adults. But with all that goes on in the world today, I think the lesson of perseverance, despite all the odds against you, is one well worth learning. The young ones who read these as younger kids are now voting age, i think. They’re so aware. I mean, cue the kids from Margery Stoneman Douglas. Those kids are revolutionary.  And as they say… “It begins with a spark…”

Moving onto the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. This is not your average YA series. This is the first line. It is definitely attention grabbing wouldn’t you say?

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Having a fascination with true crime, this was a hell of a book for me. So IMG_20181116_013500052rarely does anyone touch upon the Ripper murders that I could not help but be drawn in. That it was covered in a YA book seemed almost comical at first, because I didn’t think any author would tackle the topic. Well, that is definitely done here. Ms. Maniscalco does not hold back and I am appreciative because this is a story that I think people ought to know. Audrey Rose is a fascinating lead, though occasionally infuriating. She tends to go headfirst into dangerous situations that leave you as the reader going, “GIRL!” But Thomas Cresswell tends to do that for us. I haven’t started the newest yet, since I am still on book two, following a reread.

However, as Houdini is involved, I’m certain that I will enjoy it. He too is an interesting figure. (I should make a post sometime on figures I like and give a little bio…hmm.) Ms. Maniscalco takes history, action, fantasy and blends it delightfully into her series. I’ll be sad when the new book comes out, as it will finish up the Audrey Rose books. But, you never know. Maybe she’ll come back to her. 😉

“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends

Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen.” 

Now…the Three Dark Crowns series. I wasn’t totally sold as I read the first part of the first book. It was super slow and I was kinda ‘mehhh’ about it. Yet, you know that moment when things just happen and you’re hooked? That was me. Taking triplets, making them Queens, mortal enemies and just making hell on earth…it’s bound to be fun. There are moments where I found the girls to be slightly frustrating but I think it may have been the author’s subtle way of reminding us that they are precisely that–girls. They are sixteen! (I was pretty annoying at 16, I don’t know about you guys.) Imagine the pressure they’re under, learning their respective powers and knowing they’ll have to kill one another until one reigns supreme. It’s a dark and fun ride, to be certain. Katharine is my favorite of the three siblings. She is far more than what people think. I never saw her as being this delicate little flower. The finale is due next year and I am so ready for it!

The ACOTAR series wasn’t one I had planned to read. It was Stephanie Thornton, another author whom I adore, who brought it up on Facebook one day. I was gearing up for my yearly birthday trip to Books A Million and I had put out a status asking what people were reading. I was surprised by the answer but she promised I would love it. She wasn’t wrong. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but with faerie lore. Trust me–this is not the BATB you know. It’s such a fascinating premise that getting caught up in each different world and court is easy to do. Feyre is who she is and I love that about her. Every character is vibrant, serving a purpose and are not there for no reason. I think they’re brilliant. I love Rhysand and I even loved Tamlin. I love Sarah J. Maas’s ability to draw the reader into this world she’s created and how it’s easy to lose myself.  I also love that when I think of the first book, the riddle comes to mind.

“There are those who seek me a lifetime but never we meet, And those I kiss but who trample me beneath ungrateful feet. At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair, But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare. By large, my ministrations are soft-handed and sweet, But scorned, I become a difficult beast to defeat. For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow, When I kill, I do it slow …”

Since we’re talking about series here, I aim to read her Throne of Glass one soon. (Aka when I can afford the whole series, lol.) Have you guys read them? If you’ve read them, did you enjoy them?

“It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.”

Whilst I am just at the beginning of Shadow of Night, I am quite enthralled with this series. We go back to Elizabethan England, which you guys know is one of my favorite periods of time. No spoilers beyond that, but trust me, you literally pick up where you left off in A Discovery of Witches. Seriously, I wish I could time walk. Combining history, the supernatural, a love story and fascinating characters, you’ll be intoxicated. Granted, the love between Diana and Matthew is almost instantaneous–at least, the attraction is. Generally, I don’t much like that, but the way they were drawn to one another, it draws you in. I fell for Matthew, not going to lie. I know that the TV series has Matthew Goode portraying him, but I was totally envisioning Colin O’Donoghue as I read the book. I love that the vampires in this book aren’t traditional. That is just appealing to me, I like when one goes against the grain. Witches and daemons are fascinating too. It’s interesting how humans have no idea that these other species exist.

I also enjoyed how academics aren’t shied away from. The author herself is a highly educated woman–Oxford, ya’ll!!–and she has written that into the book. Some authors shy away from that, for whatever reason. It’s absolutely clear that Ms. Harkness knows her stuff. It’s clear from every page and passage. The alchemy is a delight and there is a mention of Nicholas Flamel–Harry Potter fans, you’ll remember him for creating the Philosopher’s Stone. There is not an instance in this series thus far where I’ve been bored or wanting to skip ahead. I would love more books about Matthew and the De Clermont family. He’s been alive for millennia; there are many stories to tell there.  I hope she’ll write more. I didn’t include her new book, Time’s Convert in here, however, as I think it’s an extension of the series.

 

So what series of books has your heart lately? (Or of all time?) Let me know! And let me know what you think of my choices! ❤ 

In Need of Book Recs.

xxI have always been something of a conundrum.

250263_10150315950259428_231415_n141914658.jpgI am putting this post out into the world because I am desperately in search of some diverse reads that I can really connect with. I am mixed race. I have the distinct disadvantage of only knowing that my biological mother was white. I have no idea if my father was hispanic or black or some other ethnicity with a darker tone. I will never get that answer given that my biological mother died in 2011 and because she didn’t know. (It’s complicated.)

All of my life, I have struggled to dig out an identity for myself yet there’s always one person who can send me reeling by asking, “what are you?” I know I am Irish, Italian, and German. But I don’t know the other half. I suppose I could do a DNA test and find out. Yet, I have no idea how indepth they go and I don’t want a general idea of something, I want to know that am half black or half Latinx or whatever. I am tired of staring at the boxes of ethnicities and wondering which to mark. Caucasian? Hispanic? Black? Or the dreaded ‘other.’ I am also tired of not being able to fully connect with a character in a book. I want someone like me.

“To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined. Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear. In fact, it creates a grey area. Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.” —Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.

So, my question to you, readers. Can you recommend something? I thought that if I reached out to you on this lovely Wednesday, you might help me out. I’d love some books with biracial leads. I am open to different genres as well.

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I realise that at age 32, these may feel like silly questions and irrational feelings. Or a grab for more readers and writers of color to follow. But it is not as I welcome everyone to join me here. What truly sparked this was that I was reading something about the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. I am a huge fan of the British Royal Family and for me, I felt this kinship with Meghan. As I read, I discovered she had written a post about being biracial. You can see I’ve quoted her here, using the passages that seemed to reach out and punch me.

Just as black and white, when mixed, make grey, in many ways that’s what it did to my self-identity: it created a murky area of who I was, a haze around how people connected with me. I was grey. And who wants to be this indifferent colour, devoid of depth and stuck in the middle?

Thus, you can imagine why labeling myself as ‘other‘ feels like an insult. I have been told that I look too white or I’m too dark. White folks think I’m too dark to be white, black folks think I’m too light to be one of them. Everyone else says to let it go but..I don’t want to. I want to be more than other. I don’t fit in one box, clearly.

So, I want to relate to a character fully, which I don’t think is an odd request. Maybe it is. But I hope you guys can help. Representation matters and there really hasn’t been any, at least, that I’ve found. The only character I somewhat relate to is Kate Pearson on This Is Us. (Love to you, Chrissy Metz, if you ever read this!) So, with this all said…

What are some books you’d recommend? 

Halloween Creatures: A Tag.

I had meant to do this before Halloween, but I honestly forgot. So…I’m a little late, but I hope fashionably so, lol. Enjoy! xx

Rules:

  1. Answer all prompts.
  2. Answer honestly.
  3. Tag 1-13 people.
  4. Link back to his post.
  5. Have fun!

Witch | A Magical Character or Book

I bet you thought I would pick Harry Potter, didn’t you? I am presently on book two in this series and I’m hoping that there will someday be more!

See the source image

Werewolf | The Perfect Book to Read at Night

I realise the irony of putting a vampire book under ‘werewolf’, but I have yet to read a good werewolf book. I tried the ones from Anne Rice and I quit after chapter four.

See the source image

Frankenstein | A Book That Truly Shocked You

IT by Stephen King. I believe that the authors name explains that, don’t you?

The Devil | A Dark, Evil Character

Pennywise. C’mon. That is so obvious.

Grim Reaper | A Character Who Should Never Have Died

I’m still salty over Finnick Odair’s death.

Zombie | A Book That Made You “Hungry” for More

Interview With A Vampire. I was seemingly bitten by Louis and his story and I wanted to know more about him, Lestat, Claudia, and all of the others. I was 14 or 15 when I read it. I saved lunch money to buy others that weren’t bought for me. As much as I love Lestat, Louis is my favorite.

Random but do any of you watch Versailles? Because Alex Vlahos would be a perfect Louis!

Gargoyle | A Character Who You Would Protect at All Cost

‘A’ Character? How the hell can I just pick one?! This is torture, I tell you! I think I would pick.. Cersei Lannister. I know, I know. But I’d protect her until Arya Stark arrived. Then I’d give her up. I would not want to be on the pointy end of Needle.

Of course, that isn’t really protecting her, is it? So with that said, I’d pick Louisa Clark from Me before You. I found her delightfully quirky. I also related to her. So yes.

Vampire | A Book That Sucked the Life Out of You

I will say Miss Peregrine. Because i read it one evening and began on the next. It sucked the life out of me because I didn’t sleep that entire night, nor the next. I was a zombie…but the books were so good!

Ghost | A Book That Still Haunts You

I have to say The Yellow Wallpaper. That story haunts me. Anytime I see yellow wallpaper? I’m brought back to that horrific story.

Demon | A Book That Really Scared You

I can’t tell you how much math books scared me. I still have nightmares. This is a serious answer, guys. I hate math, I’m dreadful at it and I had this one teacher who just seemed to think I was an idiot and she made me miserable. In addition, (pun unintended!) all the hours I labored over books like this? Horrifying.

But a pleasure book. Hrm. This is hard!

Skeleton | A Character You Have a Bone to Pick with

I love how cruel the world is in the book. In order to get the crown, three sisters must kill each other. But I hate two particular characters. I hope they face horrible deaths.

This is a perfect answer. I can’t change it because I am right there with you.

Mummy | A Book You Would Preserve throughout Time

This is hard. I can only pick one? Well, the classics are saved already by the library of congress. I would pick ‘In My Father’s House’ by Ann Rinaldi. It was such a good read. I read it 21 years ago and I have the same copy now. Yes, that’s my choice.

I like headstrong Southern Belles. Huh. I just realised this.

Creepy Doll | A Cover Too Scary to Look At

It’s absolutely horrifying!! 😂😂 4y, 2x…ughhh. No, but if you put a lotus pod on a cover? Or a honeycomb; anything with holes? I can’t. It triggers something in my head that makes it uncomfortable to look at. So, yeah. It’s a weird fear but it’s mine.


The Monster Mash

Don’t feel pressured. If you have too many posts to do, you don’t need to do this one. But if you’re interested, link back to my post. I’d love to read your answers!

Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader
Brianna the Bookworm
Carries Book Reviews
Alyssa – alovelybookaffair
Amy-OUABB
Elaine Howlin – Literary Blog
Phannie the ginger bookworm
Books&Blogs~Life&Literature
Erik McManus | Breakeven Books
Amorette’s Reviews
A Girl Named Felicity
Kalina Reads
Mani’s Book Corner