The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva

The Rembrandt Affair


Daniel Silva

Publisher synopsis:  "Determined to sever his ties with the Office, Gabriel Allon has retreated to the windswept cliffs of Cornwall with his beautiful Venetian-born wife Chiara. But once again his seclusion is interrupted by a visitor from his tangled past: the endearingly eccentric London art dealer, Julian Isherwood. As usual, Isherwood has a problem. And it is one only Gabriel can solve.

In the ancient English city of Glastonbury, an art restorer has been brutally murdered and a long-lost portrait by Rembrandt mysteriously stolen. Despite his reluctance, Gabriel is persuaded to use his unique skills to search for the painting and those responsible for the crime. But as he painstakingly follows a trail of clues leading from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires and, finally, to a villa on the graceful shores of Lake Geneva, Gabriel discovers there are deadly secrets connected to the painting. And evil men behind them.

Before he is done, Gabriel will once again be drawn into a world he thought he had left behind forever, and will come face to face with a remarkable cast of characters: a glamorous London journalist who is determined to undo the worst mistake of her career, an elusive master art thief who is burdened by a conscience, and a powerful Swiss billionaire who is known for his good deeds but may just be behind one of the greatest threats facing the world

The Rembrandt Affair, the latest in the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva is a thrill ride of a story, taking you all over the world, enveloping you in the world of art and history, espionage and murder. While it is a work of fiction, the story delves into the history of the artwork stolen by the Nazi's during the war and brings to life the suffering caused by their actions.  It is very well written and kept me glued to my seat the whole time.  The characters are three dimensional and pull you into the story.   It is full of twists and turns, characters trying to out think and manipulate each other, intellectual maneuvering which seems almost reckless at time but each one step ahead of the other.  

This is actually the first book I've read by Daniel Silva and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Gabriel Allon series starting with the beginning, The Kill Artist.  Thank you to Lydia of Putnam books providing me with a courtesy copy of The Rembrandt Affair and introducing me to an interesting new to me author, Daniel Silva.  

Pages:  496
Publisher:  Putnam
Released:  July 20, 2010
Genre:  Thriller

Check out what other folks think about the book through the TLC Book tour with a twist.

Wannabe Writers - Character Flaws

Wannabe Writers and 50k in 50 Days are the brainchild of Sarah at Confessions of the Unpublished.  Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process:  Still working on the first draft of WIP3  Eyes in the Ashes.  WIP1 Floating on the Surface is waiting in the wings and being entirely rewritten. WIP2 Winter's Illusion is waiting patiently for editing. 

My current problem(s):  Since 50k in 50 days started on July 12, I've written about 14 pages on WIP3 which amounts to probably 500 words per page so a total of 7000 words.  We'll see what it really adds up to when I get it typed up.  I'm not fretting about writing 1000 word per day as long as I'm writing and feel like the story is moving along.  I've discovered something interesting though.   J.Kaye at 365 days of Novel Writing was just talking about her WIP and seeing the story through the eyes of the primary character, which in turn helps you know your character intimately.   I realized with WIP3  I'm gotten into Layla's head, my secondary character  and and am more in tune with her than I am with Izzy, my main heroine.  Probably why I'm enjoying writing Layla's scenes much more than Izzy's.  I need to get more into Izzy's head and figure her out.   Plus I'm trying to figure out how to nab the bad guys.  They've been turning on each other - lots of infighting and the good guy, who turned out to be a bad guy, may just be a bad guy in disguise. 

And I think I've been watching too many Mythbusters episodes, because the thought keeps popping in my head:   is this plausible?    Which is part of my other problem. I started reading my WIP2 the other day and realize I need a new beginning chapter because the start is just a bit boring.  Needs some oomph.  Which in turn got my internal editor going whom I had locked up tight in a box while working on WIP3.   And my muse is tapping her foot, restlessly waiting for me to start another story. She keeps giving me peeks of a new story idea that I want to play with. 

Sarah's question of the week: Character Flaws. Okay, I know I need those to make my characters realistic, but I also know the flaws shouldn't make the reader hate your character. So what are some good, hero-worthy, none-hateable, character flaws?  

Interesting question.  So far, my characters have revealed their flaws as I've written the story. When researching and creating characters I didn't set out to design them with a given flaw.  It would have stifled the story.  Flaws that have shone up in my characters - pride, fear of something, having a hard time with criticism, being argumentative or too closed mouth or in the case of one of my villains - arrogance.  The goal is to make flaws realistic and not so over the top that the reader gets thrown out of the story with disgust or laughter at something ridiculous. 

What character flaws have you seen in stories that are just over the top?

SFF Masterworks # 72 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

SFF Masterworks # 72 
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress


Robert Heinlein

Book One - Chapter One -   That Dinkum Thinkum

"I see in Lunaya Pravda that Luna City Council has passed on first reading a bill to examine, license, inspect--and tax---public food vendors operating inside municipal pressure. I see also is to be mass meeting tonight to organize "Sons of Revolution" talk-talk.

My old man taught me two things: "Mind own business" and "Always cut cards."  Politics never tempted me.  But on Monday 13 May 2075 I was in computer room of Lunar Authority Complex, visiting with computer boss Mike while other machines whispered among themselves.  Mike was not official name; I had nicknamed him for Mycroft Holmes, in a story written by Dr. Watson before he founded IBM.  This story character would just sit and think--and that's what Mike did.  Mike was a fair dinkum, thinkum, sharpest computer you'll ever meet.

Not fastest.  At Bell Labs, Bueno Aires, down Earthside, they've got a thinkum a tenth his size which can answer almost before you ask.  But matters whether you get answer in microsecond rather than millisecond as long as correct?

Not that Mike would necessarily give right answer; he wasn't completely honest.

When Mike was installed in Luna, he was pure thinkum, a flexible logic--"High-Optical, Logical Multi Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV, Mod. L."--a HOLMES FOUR.  He computed ballistics for pilotless freighters and controlled their catapult.  This kept him busy less than one percent of the time and Luna Authority never believed in idle hands.  They keep hooking hardware into him--decision action boxes to let him boss other computer, bank on bank of additional memories, more banks of associational neural nets, another tubful of twelve-digit random numbers, a greatly augmented temporary memory.  Human brain has around ten-to-the-tenth neurons.  By third year Mike had better than one and a half times that number of neuristors.

And woke up."

Excerpt: Chapter one pg 11 - 12 
My review is live and kicking on the SFF Masterworks blog. Come on over and check it out. Be sure to check out the other reviews and follow for more fascinating thoughts about the Science Fiction and Fantasy Masterworks.   

4th Grade Wrap Up

It's a wrap.  4th grade is done and our summer vacation is officially allowed to commence.  Yeah!  We were all ready to throw in the towel several weeks ago, take a mini vacation, then continue on.  But we powered through the last six weeks and finished.  We are done until September...sort of.  Learning never stops of course, we just go into an unschooling mode.  We'll give it a couple weeks before we all start going loopy, then start doing Math 2 or 3 times a week so James doesn't forget it all.    I've already ordered and received the books we will be using for 5th grade.  Over the break,  I will be working on outlining each subject and figuring out the schedule for the year.   We typically home school all year long - usually three to six weeks on, then take a week off along with other breaks here, there and everywhere.  Which is why we end up not finishing until mid July.  

This year, we had some curriculum hits, some misses and some things that just fell totally to the wayside. 

For language arts we were using Voyages in English writing and grammar program from Loyola Press. We've been using their program for the past couple years.   It turned into a hit and miss. The grammar portion is excellent, but the writing section leaves something to be desired.  We tried combining the two as suggested by the teachers manual instead of completing the grammar section like we did for 3rd grade.  Bogged us down quite a bit. After reviewing the new and improved 2011 5th grade books, decided to go with a less expensive and informal program for next year and use Learning Language Arts through Literature.  

Spelling Workout by Modern Curriculum press.  The program has been a hit since the beginning so going to continue with the next book.
Writing with Ease -  It's a good program but not a good fit for James. The variety of excerpts from stories for narration and dictation just didn't capture James attention, plus it just seemed too simple. 

Handwriting:  We took a less formal approach and utilized George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent behavior In Company and Conversation and had James copy the rules in both print and cursive.   They were all quite interesting and fun to discuss.

Creative Writing:  James has filled 10 notebooks with fan fiction stories combining different characters from his games and movies:  Super Mario, Bionicles, Toy story, etc.    I've been reading and reviewing them periodically and giving him feedback on grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  I was so proud when I saw that he's been using "Their" and "There" correctly among other things.  

Reading wise, he enjoyed reading a variety of books and recently discovered Graphic Novels and he's been spending more time reading. Yeah!

Saxon Homeschool Math.   Math finally kicked in for James this year and he's behind, but going at his pace.  I tried speeding it up a bit which didn't work with him. So taking it slow and steady and he's getting it. 

History.  We've been reading This Country of Ours and have had an interesting walk through the formation of the colonies.  Plus the fight between England and France over the land and the colonies and  the Indians working with, for and against the colonists and the various skirmishes.   It was written back in the early 1900's so isn't exactly politically correct in some of its terminology. 

Science:  Father was in his element this year teaching James about Physics.  They read through "Exploring the World of Physics" and learned all about motion and the laws of motion, gravity, heat, states of matter,etc.   They had fun doing experiments from Thames and Kosmos Physics Workshop.  There are still quite a few experiments left over to do so we'll being "playing" with them over the summer.  

Faith, Character and Religion:   Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales created a new  program for kids about the bible called "What's in the Bible" Watching them has been very educational and  caused a great deal of curiosity about bible stories which lead to James and I reading Revelations together.  That was interesting to say the least.  For catechism, we used St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism 2 which was written back in the early 60's prior to the Vatican 2 council.   It was beneficial, but pretty much a complete miss.  There were some parts in which the thinking was just so outdated or struck me the wrong way.  We had some interesting discussions about it.   Father and James read Boyhood and Beyond: Practical Wisdom for Becoming a Man  together and it was a pretty amazing book.  I read it as well and think much of the information sunk it. 

Completely missed - The Big Book of Lively Latin and Artistic Pursuits: The Elements of Art and Composition.  But by the time we finished everything else for the day, plus Webelos stuff, we were too tired to do them.  They both have been shelved and we'll try again for next year. 

It has been an interesting year teaching my inquisitive, ever questioning, ever curious kid.   I've learned sometimes you just have to say I don't know, let's go look it up.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." 
          -----  Albert Einstein

The Lace Makers of Glenmara - Heather Barbieri


Heather Barbieri 

Back cover:  "You can always start again." Kate Robinson's mother once told her.  "All it takes is a new thread."  Overwhelmed by heartbreak and loss, Kate follows her mother's advice and flees to Ireland, her ancestral homeland, hoping to reinvent herself.  In the seaside hamlet of Glenmara, the struggling twenty six year old fashion designer quickly develops a bond with members of the local lace making society--and soon she and the lace makers are creating a line of exquisite lingerie, their skilled hands bringing flowers, Celtic dragons, nymphs, saints, kings, and queens to life with painterly skill.  The circle also offers them something more: the strength to face their desires and fears.  But not everyone in this charming, fading Gaelic village welsomes Kate, and a series of unexpected events threatens to unravel everything the women have worked so hard for. 

I rarely read relationship books oftentimes finding them maudlin and depressing, but I was intrigued when I heard about The Lace Makers of Glenmara.  I stepped out of my reading box with the book and found it to be unique, heartwarming and far from depressing.  The characters are well drawn, interesting, full of strength and beauty.  At the beginning of the story, we find Kate hiking through the remote countryside of Ireland.  She has been traveling by foot and hitching rides here and there for a month.   Life had been rough recently with the death of her mother, her boyfriend dumping her for a model and the failure of her recent fashion line.  Her mother left her a small inheritance and made her promise before she passed on, that she would take the trip.

Each step she took left a mark, some visible, some not, marks that said I was here, I exist.  That was one of the reasons people went away, wasn't it, to forget, to reinvent themselves?

She was on her own now. It felt strange, yes, but she was ready for something new, to be someone new." Pg 5

She discovers the remote little town of Glenmara  and a group of women who make lace:  Bernie, Aileen, Moira, Oona and Colleen.   Bernie invites Kate to stay with her and the women teach her all about lace.  Kate comes up with an idea to make pretty lingerie using lace and the project takes on a life of its own.  Through the project, the women find strength and hope and work through their individual problems, finding solutions  and happiness in life.  However the local Catholic priest is old fashioned and thinks Kate is misleading the woman.  Meanwhile, Bernie does a little match making on the side and introduces Kate to Sullivan, a handsome young single Irishman.  She also discovers life isn't perfect and learns to live with that.   

The Lace Makers of Glen Mara is a story, more than one story.  A story of several characters who face love and heartbreak, life and death, the beauty and ugliness of life,  what it means to care deeply for your husband, wife, child and parents.  It will make you laugh and cry and think.  I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Trish of TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of the tour, Heather Barbieri for writing such an endearing story and Harper Perennial for providing me with a courtesy copy of the the book.   Check out the other tour stops and see what every one else had to say about the book.

In accordance with FTC Guidelines, I do not receive any compensation for this review. The review is based solely on my opinion of the story and extremely subjective.  I do not sell the books or receive any compensation from any of the links to online book sellers, authors or publishers. The links are for informational purposes only.

SFF Masterworks

 SFF Masterworks Meme

I've recently become involved in a new reading project which began July 1st. Put together by Patrick of Stomping on Yeti, a group of us are reading the SF and Fantasy Masterworks.  The Masterworks are a series of science fiction and fantasy books published by Orion publishing group through its imprints Millennium and Gollancz.   The books on the list are ones Orion felt should not be forgotten and should stay in print.  The books are in series order instead of publication date order.  Each one of us will be reading one book a month and reviewing them on a group blog  until all the books on both lists have been read.  How many of these books have I already read?  The books in bold are the ones I've read, the ones in italics the ones I own, but not read yet.

SF Masterworks

1    The Forever War**- Joe Haldeman
2    I Am Legend Richard Matheson
3    Cities in Flight - James Blish
4    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -  Philip K. Dick
5    The Stars My Destination** - Alfred Bester
6    Babel-17 - Samuel R. Delany
7    Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
8    The Fifth Head of Cerberus - Gene Wolfe
9    Gateway - Frederik Pohl
10  The Rediscovery of Man - Cordwainer Smith
11  Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon
12  Earth Abides -  George R. Stewart
13  Martian Time-Slip -  Philip K. Dick
14  The Demolished Man -  Alfred Bester
15  Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
16  The Dispossessed -  Ursula K. Le Guin
17  The Drowned World -  J. G. Ballard
18  The Sirens of Titan -  Kurt Vonnegut
19  Emphyrio -  Jack Vance
20  A Scanner Darkly- Philip K. Dick
21  Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
22  Behold the Man - Michael Moorcock
23  The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg
24  The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells
25  Flowers for Algernon -  Daniel Keyes
26  Ubik - Philip K. Dick
27  Timescape - Gregory Benford
28  More Than Human - Theodore Sturgeon
29  Man Plus - Frederik Pohl
30  A Case of Conscience - James Blish
31  The Centauri Device - M. John Harrison
32  Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick
33  Non-Stop - Brian Aldiss
34  The Fountains of Paradise - Arthur C. Clarke
35  Pavane - Keith Roberts
36  Now Wait for Last Year - Philip K. Dick
37  Nova - Samuel R. Delany
38  The First Men in the Moon - H. G. Wells
39  The City and the Stars - Arthur C. Clarke
40  Blood Music - Greg Bear
41  Jem - Frederik Pohl
42  Bring the Jubilee - Ward Moore
43  VALIS - Philip K. Dick
44  The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin
45  The Complete Roderick - John Sladek
46  Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said - Philip K. Dick
47  The Invisible Man - H. G. Wells
48  Grass - Sheri S. Tepper
49  A Fall of Moondust - Arthur C. Clarke
50  Eon - Greg Bear
51  The Shrinking Man - Richard Matheson
52  The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - Philip K. Dick
53  The Dancers at the End of Time - Michael Moorcock
54  The Space Merchants - Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth
55  Time Out of Joint - Philip K. Dick
56  Downward to the Earth - Robert Silverberg
57  The Simulacra - Philip K. Dick
58  The Penultimate Truth - Philip K. Dick
59  Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg
60  Ringworld** - Larry Niven
61  The Child Garden - Geoff Ryman
62  Mission of Gravity  - Hal Clement
63  A Maze of Death - Philip K. Dick
64  Tau Zero - Poul Anderson
65  Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke
66  Life During Wartime - Lucius Shepard
67  Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang - Kate Wilhelm
68  Roadside Picnic - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
69  Dark Benediction - Walter M. Miller, Jr.
70  Mockingbird - Walter Tevis
71  Dune** - Frank Herbert
72  The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress**  - Robert A. Heinlein
73*** The Man in the High Castle** -  Philip K. Dick
74   Inverted World - Christopher Priest
75   Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
76   The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells
77   Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
78   H.G. Wells - The Time Machine
79   Dhalgren  - Samuel R. Delany - (July 2010)
80   Helliconia  - Brian Aldiss  (August 2010)
81   Food of the Gods  - H.G. Wells (Sept. 2010)
82   The Body Snatchers Jack Finney  (Oct. 2010)
83   The Female Man - Joanna Russ (Nov. 2010)
84   Arslan - M.J. Engh  (Dec. 2010)

** Also printed in hardback
***Due to printing error has 72 on it

Fantasy Masterworks

1   The Book of the New Sun, Volume 1: Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe
2   Time and the Gods - Lord Dunsany
3   The Worm Ouroboros - E.R. Eddison
4   Tales of the Dying Earth - Jack Vance
5   Little, Big - John Crowley
6   The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny
7   Viriconium - M. John Harrison
8   The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard
9   The Land of Laughs - Jonathan Carroll
10 The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea - L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
11 Lud-in-the-Mist - Hope Mirrlees
12 The Book of the New Sun, Volume 2: Sword and Citadel - Gene Wolfe
13 Fevre Dream- George R. R. Martin
14 Beauty - Sheri S. Tepper
15 The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
16 The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon - Robert E. Howard
17 Elric - Michael Moorcock
18 The First Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
19 Riddle-Master-  Patricia A. McKillip
20 Time and Again - Jack Finney
21 Mistress of Mistresses - E.R. Eddison
22 Gloriana or the Unfulfill'd Queen - Michael Moorcock
23 The Well of the Unicorn - Fletcher Pratt
24 The Second Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
25 Voice of Our Shadow - Jonathan Carroll
26 The Emperor of Dreams - Clark Ashton Smith
27 Lyonesse I: Suldrun's Garden - Jack Vance
28 Peace - Gene Wolfe
29 The Dragon Waiting - John M. Ford
30 Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe - Michael Moorcock
31 Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams - C.L. Moore
32 The Broken Sword - Poul Anderson
33 The House on the Borderland and Other Novels - William Hope Hodgson
34 The Drawing of the Dark - Tim Powers
35 Lyonesse II and III: The Green Pearl and Madouc - Jack Vance
36 The History of Runestaff - Michael Moorcock
37 A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay
38 Darker Than You Think - Jack Williamson
39 The Mabinogion - Evangeline Walton
40 Three Hearts & Three Lions -  Poul Anderson
41 Grendel - John Gardner
42 The Iron Dragon's Daughter - Michael Swanwick
43 WAS - Geoff Ryman
44 Song of Kali - Dan Simmons
45 Replay - Ken Grimwood
46 Sea Kings of Mars and Other Worldly Stories - Leigh Brackett
47 The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers
48 The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip
49 Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
50 The Mark of the Beast and Other Fantastical Tales - Rudyard Kipling

As you can see, I've read very few which is the reason I joined the project.   Check out the reviews that have been posted so far and follow us if you are so inclined.
There's an interesting variety of authors which begs the question "what makes a book a  masterwork?  To me, a masterwork is a novel that stands the test of time.   One that is so well written, it makes you want to read it over and over and each time you get something different out of it.   A masterworks novelist is one who paints a picture and draws you into a story so completely, you shut out the outside world while reading it.   Great writing, imaginative worlds, new concepts and ideas. They make you think and ponder what if.  

Some thoughts from the group so far: 

Andrew says:  "I see a masterpiece of science fiction as something that's sort of a game changer. It changes how people think about the genre and everything afterwards, at least in specific genres, look back to it. Dune, Foundation, Neuromancer, etc, are examples here."

Harry says: "is this book written with such skill that it stands as an example or does this book carry an undying idea, which ensures its place in pop culture for a long time? I think the idea is to answer the latter, but is easy to get stuck on the technical side as well."

Through the reviews of the books, thoughts of what makes a particular masterwork will be revealed.   What do you think makes a novel a masterwork? Not just science fiction, but in any genre.

Sunday Salon - edification and formulating

The year is halfway done and my book buying ban is over.  I was pretty sure at the beginning of the year, that by this time, without buying any books, my TBR pile would be whittled down to a reasonable amount.  I was pretty good and only picked up a book here and there, instead of spending my budgeted $50 a week on amazon.  I tried to limit review books but you know how that goes.  I also tried to slow down my reading a bit.  The end result - for every book I read, I managed to replace with another.  So the TBR pile - still stands somewhere around 60 books and I have a tower of finished books climbing up one wall in my bedroom. However, I have become more judicious in what I put on my wish list and what I buy.   Hubby's about ready to break down and buy me some more bookshelves for the living room.  However, he only likes solid Teak hardwood (no particle board for him) so we're waiting for the ones we want to go on sale. 

A couple weeks ago we were in Borders and as we headed to the check out counter saw the "The Passage" and picked it up to look at because of all the hype.   For some reason it didn't capture my interest right away and I put it back.  My eyes were tired and the font just didn't sit well with me, plus my kid was ready to go.  Not conducive to picking out a book.  I put it back and several days later downloaded a sample on my e-reader. The sample included the first 3 chapters.  It was enticing enough I decided to buy the book. 

I didn't want to get it in ebook form because it's a long book.  I'd rather read a long book physically than on the e-reader.   Short books are fine, but longer books I have trouble with using an e-reader.  Perhaps its the fact you don't turn your head while reading and thus get a stiff neck and  it seems my comprehension and retention is different when I read something off a screen. But that's a discussion for another day.   A couple days ago, my son expressed interest in going to Borders and getting a Bionicles Graphic Novel.   He rarely asks to go to the book store to buy a book so of course I said yes. He ended up getting 4 books (yeah!) and yes, I picked up "The Passage" which for some reason they had in the Horror section instead of the Mystery/Thriller section.   If you ask me, that's kind of sneaky, but actually a good marketing ploy on behalf of Borders because it makes you look through the entire M/T section.  Which in turns causes you to find many, many tempting books you want to read.  I was good and restrained myself.

Plus I've been shopping for curriculum for 5th grade and who can pass up the bargain books at or get sucked in by the interesting covers lining the shelves in the grocery story.   This week I've collected:

The Passage by Justin Cronin
Silent Scream by Karen Rose 
Against All Odds by Irene Hannon 
Dangerous Games by Keri Arthur 
Simon Says by Lori Foster 
The Dead Whisper on by T.L. Hines
The Search by Nora Roberts

Another reason to slow down my reading a bit is more time for writing.  I finally typed up all the handwritten chapters for Eyes in the Ashes which I think is what was slowing me down.  Now I'm ready to finish writing the story.  I currently stand at 48,384 words.  I'm joining Sarah in her 50,000 words in 50 days challenge which is starting tomorrow so I'm going to aim for 1000 words a day.   

I just finished reading Ursula Le Guin's article "Make your fiction truthful" in the July issue of The Writer magazine. It's all about writing what you know but she has a different take on it that made a lot of sense.  

"If you take it in its deepest meaning, "write about what you know" means write from your heart, from your own real being, your own thoughts and emotions.  It means what Socrates meant when he said, "Know yourself."  If you don't know who you are and what you know, if you haven't worked to find out what you yourself truly feel and think, then your work will probably be imitation work, borrowed from other writers. It may be brilliant, full of meanings and ambiguities and symbols and all that stuff they teach in literature courses, but it won't be the real goods.  It won't wash. There won't be any wear in it, and the colors will run."

"Write what you know, doesn't mean you have to know a lot.  It just tells you to take what you have, take who you are and use it.  Don't try to use secondhand feeling: use yourself."

So write what you know isn't meant to be taken in the literal sense which I think many people do.  At least I did at first, then rejected the concept because I felt it limited me. In my 50 years I've experienced many things and met many interesting people.  Life - being my sister's birth coach;  Death and how hard it is to watch someone slip away; Illness and laughter, passion and love and strength and kids, etc.  I started to think about those experiences and of course, the emotions that go along with it.  I decided I'm going to write it all down - bullet point style, instead of an in depth,  this happened, then this.  Don't want to get too mired down yet.  Just want to be able to go back and look through and use them as stepping points.  Write characters with real life emotions and experiences.  You know you got it right when your writing makes you laugh or cry or cringe.  I also love those aha moments when it all fits into place.

Coming up this week, I'll be reviewing "The Lace Makers of Glenmara" by Heather Barbieri as part of the TLC book tours on July 14th.   I'll also be working on my review for "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein for the SFF Masterworks Project.  The site is live now with several reviews posted already.  Well worth checking out and I'll post a link to the review when it's up.  I'll also be posting the SFF Masterworks Meme here in the next few days which will give you an idea of what books are on the list and which ones I've actually read. Turns out very few and hence the reason I joined the project.

Happy Reading!

The Sunday

Push or Pull!

"A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push."

-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Happy Birthday America!!!!

The Declaration of Independence

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states.

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world.

For imposing taxes on us without our consent.

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses.

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.