Sunday Salon and Row80 check in: Endings, middles, beginnings and deprivation

It's warmed up to a sunny, chilly 46 at the moment and I can't complain because we aren't snowed it.  The larder is full, the laundry is done, and the salmon is defrosting.  Today is a day for reading and relaxing.   I'm happy to say February was a good month, a short month which I totally forgot about. I feel like I'm missing some days.  I'm currently reading Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. which I'll be reviewing for TLC Book tours on March 1st. I'll be the first stop on the tour so be sure to drop by.

Amazon synopsis:  A covert age-old war between angels and humans serves as the backdrop for Trussoni’s gripping tale of supernatural thrills and divine destinies. Sister Evangeline, the secretary who handles all inquiries concerning the archives of angel arcana at an upstate New York convent, receives a letter from researcher V.A. Verlaine inquiring about an unknown link between the convent and philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller dating to 1943. It turns out that the Rockefellers were interested in a legendary artifact associated with an order of fallen angels. That priceless artifact is coveted by Verlaine’s employer, Percival Grigori, a Nephilim—offspring of the union between mortal and angel parents—who will stop at nothing to retrieve it for the awesome power it will give his race over humanity. Trussoni (Falling Through the Earth) anchors this fanciful dark fantasy to a solid foundation built from Catholic church history, biblical exegesis, and apocryphal texts. Suspenseful intrigues and apocalyptic battle scenes give this complexly plotted tale a vigor and vitality all the more exciting for its intelligence.

The publisher is allowing me to giveaway two copies of the book so check back on Tuesday to enter.  

Check out this week's post on Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - H is for Hitchcockian.  Have you read any of the books, Hitchcock based his movies on?  I just dug out "39 Steps" by John Buchan and will be comparing it to the movie.  

I'm about to begin Week 4 in The Artist's Way and one of the tasks is reading deprivation.  Seriously!  According to Cameron: 

"It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distractions we are actually filling the well.  Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world.  With no newspaper to shield us, a train becomes a viewing gallery.  With no novel to sink into (no television to numb us out) an evening becomes a vast savannah in which furniture--and other assumptions--get rearranged."  (pg 87)

Hmm!  Can I do it?  Will I do it?  Is it possible for me to go a week without reading.   Mercy me.  I don't want to do it, but it is the best time for it since my next class doesn't start until next week. My brain is coming up with all kinds of excuses why I can't do it, which is really why I should do it   I'll still be checking emails but essentially will be unplugging.  .  It'll be a precursor to Lent.  We're still mulling over what we will be reading and studying during that period of time. Business and home school related stuff won't count. Because....

James and I are currently reading Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.  One chapter a night, which takes about 30 to 45 minutes, when you read it aloud.   We're having fun doing the voices and James does an excellent Harry Potter.    

I've been reading "Write for Life" by Sheppard Kominars which was a free ebook during one of Barnes and Nobles free e-book fridays.  My treadmill book.  I love the fact my nook fits so well on the lip of the treadmill.  30 minutes passes in a flash.   Has a lot of interesting information including the morning pages Julia Cameron talks about in The Artist's Way.   

Speaking of reading, I've failed with the buying ban thing.  Just not happening.   This month I've picked up

"Across the Universe" by Beth Revis, "Hunting Fear" by Kay Hooper, "Switched" by Amanda Hocking, "The Weird Sisters" by Eleanor Brown , "Watch Your Back" by James Scott Bell, "Treachery in Death"  by J.D. Robb, and "Hush Money" by Susan Bischoff.  

The Sunday Salon.comDuring the month of March, will be doing a readalong of Tana French's "Faithful" Place" hosted by Carrie of Books and Movies as part of the Ireland Reading Challenge.   I just read "In the Woods" this month which will be reviewing soon.  And since I was buying Faithful Place had to get The Likeness as well.  I just have to know what happens with cassie.  :)
For the A-Z title challenge, coming up next is Janeology by Karen Harrington.  Haven't decide what coming up after that. 
I seemed to have slowed down a bit with my reading this month. 
  1. Wild Man Creek (Virgin River Series # 12) - Robyn Carr
  2. Wild Rain (Leopard Series #2) - Christine Feehan (e-book)
  3. The Fifth Servant -  Kenneth Wishnia
  4. Green - Ted Dekker 
  5. Heatwave - Richard Castle 
  6. Devil's Eye - Kait Nolan  (e-book)
  7. Night Shift (Jill Kismet Series #1) - Lilith Saintcrow (e-book)
  8. In The Woods - Tana French 
  9. The Oracle of Stamboul - Michael David Lukas.

Writing wise, I'm been working every day on Red Thief and making progress.  A couple of pages a day add up after a while.  I'm pretty sure I'll finish the first draft by the end of the first round of Row80.

Check out the other Row80 rowers here and see how they are doing this fine Sunday. 

Off to finish "Angelology",  plan lessons for the week and work on my list of things to do for my week of 'reading deprivation.'


WIP Wednesday and Row80 - did somebody mention the tortoise and the Hare?

Slow and steady wins the race!

I have steadily been plodding along with Red Thief, writing half an hour a day and actually finding more of my main character's back story being revealed. Helpful little tidbits which assist with the story. Aha moments! Love those! I am making progress and methinks the first draft will be finished by the end of Row80's  first quarter.

I'm still in week 3 of The Artist's Way -  Recovering a Sense of Power. The chapter is all about anger, synchronicity, shame, dealing with criticism and growth.  Thought I don't feel like I've ever lost my power, so to speak, I'm learning all kinds of interesting things.   I've been sharing tidbits with my hubby along the way. We are both great believers in synchronicity because it happens quite a bit in our lives.   Just like Artist's Way coming along at a time I needed it.  Week 3 is going to take me two weeks because it's taken me just the week to read through the chapter. I remember things better if I write them down, so taking lots of notes.  Interesting tidbits to share:

"Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map.  Anger shows us what our bounderies are. Anger shows us where we want to go.....   Anger is meant to be acted upon.  It ns not meant to be acted out.  Anger points the direction.  We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us." (pg 61)

Synchronicity.  Is it God or coincidence?  Depends on what you believe.  Jung said it is "an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated."  I love what Cameron has to say about it: 

"We like to pretend it is hard to follow our heart's dreams.  The truth is, it is difficult to avoid walking through the many doors that will open. Turn aside your dream and it will come back to you again.  Get willing to follow it again and a second mysterious door will swing open." (pg 66) 

Remember the old adage be careful what you wish for or prayer for, because it just might come true.   Cameron also says 

"Understand that the what must come before the how.  First choose what you would do.  The how usually falls into place itself." 

Criticism is always hard to take, no matter how it's put.  Is constructive criticism really constructive?  My son is a burgeoning artist. He loves to write and draw and we try to encourage him as much as possible. I don't want to kill his creativity and do the best I can so support his efforts.  However, when you've seen the same drawing half a million times, or another fan fiction rewrite of Mario, it's difficult.   Cameron provides some great advice regarding criticism.

Pointed criticism, if accurate, often gives the artist an inner sense of relief...  Useful criticism ultimately leaves us with one more puzzle piece for our work..  Useless criticism, on the other hand, leaves us with a feeling of being bludgeoned.  As a rule, it is withering and shaming in tone; ambigious in content; personal, inaccurate, or blanket in its condemnations.  There is nothing to be gleaned from irresponsible criticism."   pg 72
We've all been the subject of useless criticism and unfortunately I've seen a bit of it, not only in real life but  online as well lately. It serves no purpose, just alienates people.   So I'm learning how to provide useful criticism and seeing the benefits of it already.

Lots of tasks this week including paying attention to non nurturing habits, nurturing friends, feeding your inner compass with an artist brain activity and looking at the trait of people you admire.  Homework!   I love this quote in the sidebar of the chapter:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost."  Martha Graham

So I'm taking off the blinders and paying more attention to what's going on around me. What about you? Are you are believer in synchronicity or serendipity. What do you believe - God or coincidence?

My goals for the next week:

1) Write morning pages every morning during breakfast
2) Write 30 minutes a day on Red Thief
3) Complete week 3 tasks in Artist Way.
4) Read and post review of Angelology by Danielle Trussoni for TLC book tour March 1st.
5) Come up with H theme for Sunday's post for 52 Books blog week 9

Check out everyone else's progress here

TLC Book Tour: The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas


Michael David Lukas

Front Flap synopsis:  Late in the summer of 1877, as Tsar Alexander II’s Royal Cavalry descends on the defenseless Ottoman outpost of Constanta, a flock of purple and white hoopoes suddenly appears over the town, and Eleonora Cohen is ushered into the world by a mysterious pair of Tartar midwives who arrive just minutes before her birth. “They had read the signs, they said: a sea of horses, a conference of birds, the north star in alignment with the moon. It was a prophecy that their last king had given on his deathwatch.” But joy is mixed with tragedy, for Eleonora’s mother dies soon after the birth.

Raised by her doting father Yakob, a carpet merchant, and her stern, resentful stepmother, Ruxandra, Eleonora’s early years are spent daydreaming and doing housework and avoiding the wrath of her stepmother—until the moment she teaches herself to read, and her father recognizes that she is an extraordinarily gifted child, a prodigy.

When Yakob sets off by boat for Stamboul on business, eight-year old Eleonora, unable to bear the separation, stows away in one of his trunks. On the shores of the Bosporus, in the house of her father’s business partner Moncef Bey, a new life awaits. Books, backgammon, beautiful dresses and shoes, markets swarming with color and life, the imperial capital overflows with elegance and mystery. For in the narrow streets of Stamboul—a city at the crossroads of the world—intrigue and gossip are currency, and people are not always what they seem. Eleanor’s tutor, an American minister and educator, may be a spy. The kindly though elusive Moncef Bey has a past history of secret societies and political maneuvering. And what to make of the eccentric though charming Sultan Abdulhamid II himself, beleaguered by friend and foe alike as his unwieldy, multi-ethnic Empire crumbles?"

The Oracle of Stamboul is one of those books that pulls you in from the beginning, intriguing enough to keep you reading, wandering what is going to happen. The hoopoes are quite significant and lend  a mystical aspect to the story as they follow Eleanora everywhere she goes. The story revolves around Eleanora.  She is one smart cookie. What her father considers a savant. However because they are Jewish, her stepmother doesn't want her drawing attention to the family and does everything she can to curb the young girl's thirst for knowledge. When she breaks Ruxandra's rule about revealing how smart she is, she is permitted to read only book a month for pleasure.  What was interesting is what she learned from the books.  She took what she read and applied it to her everyday life in how she came up with answers when questioned.  She saw correlations where others didn't or couldn't.  I'm still wondering if the seven volume set of books called The Hourglass exists. If I does, I'd like to read them.  :)   When she finds out her father isleaving for a month, she decides to stow away because she doesn't want to be without her father.   Her life takes an interesting turn when she arrives in Stamboul and draws the interest of the Sultan.

Michael David Lukas did an excellent job and there was a warmth to the story to stays with you after you've finished reading it.   He really draws you into the lives of Eleanora and the people surrounding her.  At times I felt sorry for Eleanora and at times thought she was way too mature for any normal eight year old.  I'm still mulling over the ending.  Guess it is the mother in me coming out.  But I can't see it ending any other way.   The Oracle of Stamboul is an excellent historical fiction novel with a young heroine who is wise beyond her years.  I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Trish for asking me to be a part of the Tour, Harper Collins for providing me with a courtesy copy and Michael David Lukas for writing such an intriguing, original story.
For more information on Michael, check out his website.

More thoughts about the book:

Monday, February 21st: Chocolate & Croissants
Tuesday, February 22nd: Journey of a Bookseller
Tuesday, February 22nd: The Feminist Texan [Reads]
Wednesday, February 23rd: My Two Blessings
Wednesday, February 23rd: Man of La Book
Thursday, February 24th: One Book Shy
Friday, February 25th: Rundpinne
Friday, February 25th: Staircase Wit

For more information on everyone on the tour, check out this link.

G is for Green by Ted Dekker



Ted Dekker

Synopsis:  As foretold by ancient prophets, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the 21st century. But two thousand years later, Elyon set upon the Earth a new Adam. This time, however, He gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen.  It was good and it was called...Green.

But the evil Teeleh bided his time in the Black Forest. Then when least expected, a 24 year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest.  A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying breath. 

But now the Circle has lost hope.  Samuel, Thomas Hunter's cherished son has turned his back on his father.  He gathers the dark forces to wage a final war. Thomas is crushed and desperately seeks a way back to our reality to find the one elusive hope that could save them all.

When is a book both a prequel and a sequel?  When it is Green, part of the circle series by Ted Dekker. 

Green tells the rest of the story and brings you back to the beginning, bringing you full circle in the story.  It's the story that never ends.  I thought I would need to read the trilogy again, before reading Green but found it wasn't necessary.   Plus he brings in characters from his Paradise Series:  Showdown, Saint and Sinner and the Lost books (which I haven't read yet) which blends it all together creating the Book of History Chronicles.   However, now that I've read Green,I want to reread Black, Red and White,  the Paradise series again.  I'll get round to the Lost Books eventually.  But it isn't necessary to read any of those books, before you read Green.  But once you do, it will lead you to read the rest of the books.

The trick with the book covers being the color of the next book visually creates the circle and also tricks the eye.  I can't tell you how many times I put the books in color order versus actual title order before I got it right.  

It's been ten years since Thomas or the Circle have seen Elyon.  The people of the circle are beginning to doubt and their peaceful nonviolent ways are thrown into upheaval when Thomas's son, rebels and wants to fight the horde who have been killing off members of the circle whenever they catch them. Do they continue to trust Thomas and the elusive Elyon or do they put their faith in Samuel.  It is the ultimate battle between good and evil.  As usual, Dekker manages to chill and thrill at the same time.  

"According to the Books of History, everything that happened after the year 2010 actually begain in the year 4036 AD.  It began in the future, not the past. Confusing perhaps, but perfectly understandable once you realize that some things are as dependent on the future as on the past."

Check out the website and read the first chapter of Green or watch the trailer.

WIP Wednesday -- Week 7 of Row 80

1st round - January 3rd through March 24th

We are halfway through the 1st round of Row 80 and I'm still plugging away.  I feel like I'm making progress with the first draft of Red Thief, even though I'm only writing a couple pages or about 500 words a day.   I am writing every single day.  There have been mornings I've gotten up and so wanted to just read a book during breakfast and just go into veg mode and hang out online for while.  I have withstood the temptation however and have faithfully been writing my morning pages.  Talking it out on the page, stream of consciousness style and just letting it all hang out there seems to be a good positive influence.  I save the reading as a reward for finishing my morning pages and my writing in the morning.  Unplugging until 4:00 every day is working well too! 

However, I feel like I need to do more. You ever get that feeling. Like you aren't doing enough.   I'm about ready to sit down and write up a to do list like Judith of 365 has done.  Maybe if I am seeing things being checked off, then I will feel like I'm accomplishing more.    

Speaking of accomplishments  -- I got a A in my Short Story Class.  Happy Happy Joy Joy! 

I came up with an idea and not sure if it is a good one or just plain crazy.   Since I write everything long hand, considering the idea of using the typing up phase as my edit process.   I have a couple free weeks before my next class starts and I could be using the extra time to be typing up what I've written so far.  But I don't want to get bogged down.  I want to keep going forward with the story .  So I'm going to keep going, finish the story, then type it up.  It will be considered my first edit phase.  So this first round is totally dedicated to just writing.  The next phase will be editing and research.

I started Week 2 of The Artist's Way and really enjoying it.  It's all about getting rid of the 'crazymakers' in your life - the toxic negative people who do their best to distract you from writing or making positive changes in your life.  I have to say we've done a pretty good job of eliminating those type of folks from our lives and we limit our interactions.    Not only does Julia Cameron have some great insights, the tasks are really opening up my eyes and imagination. Also I've been trying to figure out what to do for artist's dates.  I love trying different food and my hubby is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so is my son.  So on one of my work days, going to be taking myself out to lunch and trying different things.

Completing the various tasks is helping me provide some suggestions to hubby and helping him make some some positive changes.  Between ROW80 and The Artist's Way, I'm doing great.   Plus through the rowers,  I've discovered  a few new to me authors and am enjoying reading their works. 

Goals for next week

1.  Complete week two of Artist Way
2.  Continue writing at least one page a day on Red Thief - 75% done.
3.  continue doing Morning Pages
4.  Write review of Green and post
5.  Research books with Greek setting and/or by Greek authors for Week 8 of 52 Books weekly post.

Check out the blog hop here

Random Post to ponder -- F is for Final. Oh My!

F is for final and not G for Green as I intended.  I don't have time to write my review on Green by Ted Dekker for today because my Short Stories Final is due by the end of the day Sunday.  I have 5 short essays to write and I planned on starting it today.  But....  You ever notice how decluttering sometimes becomes a priority and you just have to clean off the desk.  I can't work in clutter.   Then my husband was complaining about running out of clean socks and I checked out his drawer. Ended up cleaning out the drawer, then two and before you know it, you've run out of time.   Between lessons and the vet and laundry and just stuff, my day sort of disappeared. One time saver I implemented long ago.  White tube socks for everyone. Just sort by size and don't have to worry about pairs.

Amidst the stuff, I've been pondering something, prompted by The Artist's Way, of course. One of the tasks in week one -  Imaginary lives.  If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?  When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse, doctor, cowgirl, truck driver, or a ballerina.   Typical little girl dreams, you think.  The caveat was to not overthink the exercise and just go with it.   I couldn't limit myself to five and just keep writing and came up with some interesting lives:

Irish Pub owner
 Book store owner
 Yacht Ship Captain
Zoo Keeper
European Tour Guide 
Museum Curator

Do we see a pattern in there somewhere.   I think I was to be an of some kind.  The first five are my top choices.  We did just acquire a Yamaha Keyboard and I ordered some books to teach myself, then James how to play. I took lessons way back when I was in 5th grade.  Figured if James enjoyed it, then would pursue getting formal lessons. For now, we'll keep it fun.   Funnily, had decided to relearn the piano before reading about the task. Part of the task includes picking one of the things on your list and doing something about it.  So I'm learning to play the piano.  I think my grandma up in heaven will be pleased.  I remember the summer I stayed with her when I was 15 and I tortured her, fooling around with her baby grand.  

How about you?  If you had five other lives to lead, what would they be? 

WIP Wednesday - Eliminate the negatives

I have the lyrics to a song running through my head today and I couldn't remember where I heard it until I looked it up. Accentuate the Positive written by Johnny Mercer.  There are several versions out there by Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby and an especially cool jazzy one by Aretha Franklin which I really like.


You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

(To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark)

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?

How does being positive help your writing?  I've had a couple epiphanies this week since starting Week 1 of The Artist's Way. It's amazing when someone comes up with an idea, how we automatically start to discuss the negatives and why it won't work, versus why it will work.  Or provide yes, that's good, but....  In Week 1 Recovering a sense of safety, Cameron says:   

One of our chief needs as creative beings is support.....Parents seldom respond, "Try it and see what happens" to artistic urges issuing from their offspring.  They offer cautionary advice where support might be more to the point.  Timid young artists, adding parental fears to their own, often give up their sunny dreams of artistic careers, settling into the twilight world of could have beens and regrets."  pg25
I found myself doing that not only to myself, but to my hubby and son, squashing 
their new goals and/or endeavors and watching the light go out of their face. One epiphany - eliminating the "yeah, but's" and switching to "sure, let's see what happens."  Much like never poo pooing someone's idea's during a brainstorming session or censoring that first draft, giving creativity free rein and seeing where it takes us and them. 

Still writing every single morning, working on Red Thief.  Was kind of stumped for a couple days on a scene and which direction I wanted to take with it.  The morning pages have been great for working out things on the page instead of just letting it stew in my brain. The other epiphany I had this week was when I completed one of the Week 1 tasks which is list three old enemies of your creative self worth.  The thought behind it is your historic monsters are the building blocks of your core negative beliefs.  I realized why had I stopped day dreaming and stopped journaling and basically quite writing altogether for many years.  Happy to say I've gotten over those blocks.  

And...and...and.... big step for me.  I'm finally committing, putting it in writing, stepping up and putting it out there.   My blogging days will be Wednesday and Friday and Sunday's are reserved for the 52 Books challenge which is the start of our book week.  I don't know why I've always avoided having a schedule in the past.  It's a freedom, flexibility thing.  But decided it's finally time.  Plus, we, meaning my son and I, will be unplugged during the day until 4:00 p.m.   I'm loving it, my son, not so much.  I have discovered it is much less stressful and we aren't scrambling or rushing through lessons.  Lessons aren't being put off for another 15 minutes, then another 15 minutes, and "just 15 more minutes mom".   Our days seem to be flowing better and I'm spending my time more judiciously online.

Goals for the next week are:

1) Continue Morning Pages
2) Work on Week 1 tasks in Artists Way
3) Red Thief - continue to write every day for at least half hour 
4) Complete my Short Story Final essays which are due Sunday
5) Post review of "Green"

Check out the blog hop and see how everyone else is fairing

I have a special request from my father who is looking for a non fiction writer to write up my mom's medical story.  She is one of those medical miracles that has had several things occur over the years that collectively would have killed anyone else.  She's survived a brain aneurysm and subsequent brain surgery without any handicaps, an aortic aneurysm which was only discovered when she had her kidney removed, operational meningitis and chronic pulmonary disease.  She recently had a small stroke and the doctors were simply amazed at her medical history.  She has always been the type of person that death never crossed her mind when any of this happened.  Just keeps plugging away with a positive attitude.  Dad read through her medical journal (she's quite good at journaling) and asked me to put the word out for a non fiction writer who would be willing to write her story.  Let me know if you are interested or know of anyone who is interested and will put you in touch with my dad. 

TLC Book Tour: The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia

The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia

Synopsis: In 1592, Prague is a relatively safe refuge for Jews, who live within the gated walls of its ghetto. But the peace is threatened when a young Christian girl is found with her throat slashed in a Jewish shop on the eve of Passover. Charged with blood libel, the shopkeeper and his family are arrested, and all that stands in the way of a rabid Christian mob is a clever Talmudic scholar, newly arrived from Poland, named Benyamin Ben-Akiva. Granted just three days to bring the true killer to justice--hampered by rabbinic law, with no allies or connections, and only his wits, knowledge, and faith to guide him--Benyamin sets off on a desperate search for answers. Following a twisting trail from the streets to the shul, from the forbidden back rooms of a ghetto brothel to the emperor Rudolf II's lavish palace, he will dare the impossible--and commit the unthinkable--to save the Jews of Prague--and himself.

The historical fiction/ murder mystery The Fifth Servant is an intriguing and educational look into 16th century Prague where everyone from the Pope to the Rabbi's to the christian Jewish servants are ruled not only by religious laws but superstitions.  A little girl is murdered and her body found in the shop of a Jewish Businessman, Jacob Federn and not only are he and his family accused of blood libel, but the whole Jewish community.  What exactly is a blood libel?  

The blood libel is a false accusation that Jews sacrifice Christian children either to use the blood for various "medicinal" purposes or to prepare Passover Matzoth (unleavened bread) or for vengeance and mock crucifixions.
Benyamin, a shammes (synogogue caretaker) and student of Rabbi Loew is given three days to prove that Jacob didn't commit the crime.   The story is a mixture of theological and ideological discussions and crime solving and the two intertwine tightly to tell an intriguing story.  When I first started the book, I was thrown off by all the Yiddish, Hebrew, Czech and German words thrown in, but soon found they were either self explanatory or translated by the characters. The story is told in the first person perspective of Benyamin, the third person perspective of Anya, daughter of a christian butcher and servant to a Jewish family during passover, and a catholic bishop in charge of the inquisition to eliminate witches.  

I didn't start the book until Friday and seriously didn't think I was going to finish it in time for the tour.  It was slow reading at first until I got into the groove of the story.  There is a glossary in the back of the book to help explain some of the terminology.  The Fifth Witness isn't a story to be rushed as there is much to learn about the conflict between the Christian and Jewish community, their cultures and religious laws. However, I finished reading it this morning. I truly enjoyed the historical perspective and got carried away along with the characters as they worked to solve the mystery of the child's murder.  

Kenneth Wishnia did an excellent job of pulling it all together and I highly recommend it.  I look forward to reading more of his works in the future.   Kenneth Wishnia has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. His crime fiction has been nominated for the Edgar and Anthony awards. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Suffolk Community College on Long Island, where he lives with his wife and children.  You can find out more about him at his website

Thank you to Trish and TLC Book Tours for asking me to be part of the tour, Harper Collins for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book, and Kenneth Wishnia for writing such an intriguing story.   Check out the rest of the tour: 

Tuesday, February 8th: Raging Bibliomania
Wednesday, February 9th: me
Thursday, February 10th: Coffee and a Book Chick
Monday, February 14th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, February 17th: Man of La Book
Friday, February 18th: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, February 23rd: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, February 23rd: In the Next Room
Thursday, February 24th: Book Journey
Monday, February 28th: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, March 2nd: Rundpinne

*Note:  All opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and no compensation was received in exchange for this review.

F is for Forsaken by Shadow by Kait Nolan


Kait Nolan

Barnes and Noble Synopsis: "Banished from their world with his memory wiped, Ultimate Fighter Cade Shepherd doesn’t remember his life as Gage Dempsey, not even the woman he nearly died for. But when Embry Hollister’s father is kidnapped by military scientists, the only one she can turn to for help is the love from her past. Will Gage remember the Shadow Walker skills he learned from her father, and if they survive, will Embry be able to walk away a second time?"

I discovered Kait Nolan through Row80. She is the brain behind the challenge and since I'm always on the look out for good books by blogging authors and of course love paranormal romances, had to check out Forsaken by Shadow.

I was hooked from the get go.  Cade Dempsey wakes up in a hotel room, burns on his hands and no idea who he is.  He drives himself to the hospital and finds out he'd been missing since he was a child.  He remakes himself into an ultimate fighter but can never stop thinking about the missing part of his life.  Embry comes back into his life and reintroduces him to the world of  Shadow walkers and the supernatural world surrounding him.  Kait Nolan does a fabulous job of pulling you into the three dimensional world of Cade and Embry and keeping you gripped in the action of the story.   My only complaint is the story ended too soon for me. I wanted more.  Forsaken by Shadow is the first e-book novella in the Mirus series, followed by Devil's Eye which I'll be reading soon. 

You can check out a free sample of the book on her website or buy where ever e-books are sold.

Other Thoughts:

Fiction Vixen:
"The world that Kait Nolan has created is interesting in that she incorporates some of the familiar paranormal elements along with a bit of the unexpected. Along with that she adds in a good mystery, and a lot of action, and suspense"

"Once I started, I could not put this book down. Forsaken by Shadow is fresh, well-written and an absolute must read. You will be on the edge of your seat trying to keep up with this fast paced paranormal romance that will leave you breathless!"

WIP Wednesday - building up writing muscle

Happy to say Red Thief is progressing nicely. Still don't know my word count because I haven't typed anything up yet.  My short story class will be over with the final next week and I'll have a free couple weeks before my last class starts, in which to work on it.   Yes, I have one more class left and I will have my Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies.  I'll still debating whether I want to go after a Masters in Fine Arts or just take some writing classes. 

I just received "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron, the inventor of morning pages. It is a 12 week course in "discovering and recovering your creative self".  My goal this week is to just read through the book and familiarize myself with the whole program.  The morning pages are working for me currently and seem to be helping my memory, which is a good thing, plus keeping me on track with working on my WIP in the mornings, rather than sluffing off. 
With the end of January, came the end of the 31 days to Better Writing Habits from which I learned quite a bit and will be useful in the future.  Something that I had never thought about was toxic language.  One of the topics was how toxic language can hinder your writing.  Words such as can't, should, have to, impossible or need to are considered toxic because they take away your power.  They are negative and limit you. 

Use “Can” Instead of “Can’t”–You can do anything you want to do. You can do anything you set your mind to do. It’s been proven over and over and over again. So say “can.” “I can be a writer” and “I can write this novel.”
Use “Want to” Instead of “Should” “Have to” or “Need to”–When you use the phrase “want to” you’re making a choice. It’s no longer being forced on you, you are choosing it. There is power in the phrase “want to” because it shows you have a desire to do something. So say “I want to be a writer” and “I want to write this novel.”

Telling yourself you should do something is taking away your choice. Telling yourself you have to do something is extra pressure and most folks when you tell them they have to do something, will do the opposite. Do you need to write or do you want to write. You don't need to, you don't have to, but you want to. You are making a choice to write because you want to. Getting rid of the toxic language gives you back your power.  I had never thought of that, so taking out the toxic language and replacing it with more positive - I want, I can, I will.

My goals for the next week:

1) continue morning pages
2) write one page a day
3) Read through and preview  "Artist's Way"
4) Post review of Forsaken by Shadow 

How are you doing with your goals?  Click here to see how everyone else is doing.

Goodbye January - It's been nice knowing you!

Goodbye January. It's been nice knowing you. I'm sure February is nice and all and will treat me well, but I'd just gotten used to you. Sorry you couldn't stay longer. Our affair ended way to soon. Before I was ready and I'm bereft. I dislike endings. Though with each ending, something new begins. New beginnings - anticipation - opportunity. Looking back helps you look forward.

My short story class is coming to an end next week. I've come to appreciate the short story. In the past, have generally avoided them because they were short (duh!) and ended way to soon. It wasn't enough to sooth my soul, to satisfy my mind. I just wanted more... Now I can put my mind in that state that appreciates the short story and the craft that went into it.  

The class taught me a bit more about active reading which I hope will carry over into my regular reading. I've never been one to mark up my books, writing notes in the margin, underlining passages or unknown words, actively looking for symbolic meaning. I find myself doing that more and more now with my regular reading. Not every book mind you, because some are just brain candy. Looking for key words that correspond with the theme of the story, writing definitions in the margin, noting when a character or part of the story reminds me of another story, aha moments, connections, or quotes I want to remember.

I've read short stories by some amazing authors whom I'm looking forward to reading more of their works:

Anton Chekov
Stephen Crane
Nikolai Gogol
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Sarah Orne Jewell
Guy De Maupassant
Chinua Achebe
William Faulkner
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ernest Hemingway
D.H. Lawrence
Eudora Welty
Richard Wright
Margaret Atwood
Louis Erdrich
Joyce Carol Oates
Tim O'Brien
Alice Walker
Salman Rushdie

In addition to the stories I read for my short story class, I managed to read 15 books of which eight were new to me authors, during January including two classics:  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.  I challenged my 52 Books participants to read one of Anne Bronte's books during the month of January in honor of her birthday.   It was quite interesting.  For my A to Z challenge I completed and reviewed Anna Karenina, Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, Cinders by Michelle Davidson Argyle, Delirious by Daniel Palmer, Eats, Shoots and Leaves  by Lynne Truss and Forsaken by Shadow by Kait Nolan.  I'll be posting my review of Forsaken by Shadow soon.

Speaking of reviews, I came across a series of posts by author Stacia Kane that has given me pause and has me thinking about the reviews I'll be writing in the future.  She makes many good points including the fact that reviews are for readers.  Reviews aren't for giving constructive criticism to a writer and telling them how to write their books. By the time the book is published, they've moved on to writing something else and any criticism or ideas how to fix the book is long passed.  They aren't going to go back and change the story, nor will they change the way they write.   Write your reviews for the readers, not the writers. 

"And here’s the last reason for that: reviews are for readers, not writers. Reviews are not written with an eye toward helping me improve as a writer. Nor are they intended to do so, nor should they be. If someone has a specific complaint or suggestion for me about my books that they feel I need to see, they email it to me. They post reviews on their blogs to share their opinions with other readers, and that’s it.
Personally, I would never tell a writer how to 'fix' their book or criticize their style.  My reviews are my opinion, an emotional response to a story. Did I like it or not. What did I think of the story.  If I have a hard time with the book, find numerous mistakes or find their writing style so terrible I can't read the story, I'll quietly put it on my list and say nothing.  That author simply isn't for me.  

What's on the nightstand for February?  To start with Green by Ted Dekker, Heatwave by Richard Castle and In the Woods by Tana French.  I'll also be participating in two tlc tours this month:  The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wisnia and The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas.

You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.  ~Paul Sweeney

Happy Reading!