Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
I have been reading some very good books lately and thought I should share them with my readers. I write children’s books and read them as well, but lately I have been devouring some worthy adult novels. These stories have one thing in common, they are all well written and have characters you care about. You might want to check them out.
Gifts of the Peramangk, by Dean Mayes
In 1950s Australia, during the height of the divisive White Australia Policy, Virginia, a young Aboriginal girl is taken from her home and put to work on an isolated and harsh outback station. Her only solace: the violin, taught to her secretly by the kind-hearted wife of the abusive station owner. However, Virginia’s prodigious musical gift cannot save her from years of hardship and racism.
Decades later, her eight year old granddaughter Ruby plays the violin with the passion Virginia once possessed. Amidst poverty, domestic violence and social dysfunction, Ruby escapes her circumstance through her practice with her grandmother’s frail, guiding hand. Ruby’s zeal attracts the attention of an enigmatic music professor and with his help, she embarks on an incredible journey of musical discovery that will culminate in a rare opportunity. But with two cultural worlds colliding, her gift and her ambition will be threatened by deeply ingrained distrust, family jealousies and tragic secrets that will define her very identity
Once in a while you read a book that makes your heart sing and weep at the same time. Gifts of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes, is one of those books. The story centres around two young girls with incredible musical talent. One, an aboriginal girl cruelly taken from her family at a young age and the other, her motherless granddaughter. The story shifts between the early 1950s to present
day Australia. The heroine of the story is Virginia, the family matriarch, who does whatever she can to keep her dysfunctional family together and to preserve the musical talent that has been passed down through the generations. Her strength and perseverance, even in deplorable situations and failing health, is remarkable. Dean Mayes has crafted a fine tale of hope. Hope when all is lost, hope against all odds, and hope when many would have given up. This is a must read.
Scarborough, by Ellen Ekstrom
When Quinn Radcliffe shows up in a village somewhere in the Cotswolds or Dorset, he knows he’s been there before. It’s a place out of a Thomas Hardy novel – or the imagination. There’s the Curiosity Shop with The Proprietress and her famous guests, the church at the end of the lane, and unbelievable but necessary journeys that test and affirm. Now the conductor of a world-renowned orchestra, Quinn isn’t surprised by his surroundings – the love of his life, Alice Martin, told him all about the village but he has always and secretly thought it was the best part of a dream she shared after her life-threatening illness.
Until now. There are two sides to every love story. This is the other side of the haunting and poignant romance that began with “Tallis’ Third Tune.”
If you loved Ms Ekstrom’s Tallis’ Third Tune, as much as I did, you are in for a treat with her latest novel, Scarborough. Once again the reader encounter’s the star-crossed lovers, Alice and Quinn, the curiosity shop with historical figures popping in and out, and wonderful scenes from York and Scarborough. This time, however, we hear the story from Quinn’s point of view. The author’s superb writing takes us into the mind of a brilliant, talented, tortured young man. His inability to make clear decisions and choices causes him much heartache. With the help of the likes of Thomas Wyatt, Richard III, Janis Joplin and Jane Austen, to name a few, he has a chance to make things right. You will not be disappointed in this, the second in the Midwinter Sonata series.
When Renee Marshall locked the door on her dark past and married Jalal Vaziri, she hoped for a quiet life in a California coastal town. Now, with a sexy, adoring, wealthy husband, one beautiful child and another on the way, she dares to believe happily ever after could be her future. But doors don’t always stay locked. As the stress of living in Jalal’s high-society world increases, the traumas of Renee’s past begin to poison the present and threaten to destroy everything she treasures.Is it her imagination or is Jalal keeping a secret that will end their marriage and rip her children from her life? And could it involve Diane, the woman who reminds Renee too much of Jalal’s beloved first wife?
What I love the most about blogging, is the wonderful people I meet in the blogging world. Today I am featuring the author Lada Ray, an extraordinary individual with many talents who stops at nothing to pursue her dreams.
Thanks so much for being a guest on my blog Lada. I am always curious to learn more about other authors.
L: It’s my great pleasure to be your guest today, Darlene! Thank you for your gracious invitation!
You have a very interesting background. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
L: I was born in Russia, when it was still called the Soviet Union. Since the age of twenty, I’ve lived abroad. I studied linguistics (got M.A. in comparative linguistics) and traveled to a number of countries on most continents. For a while, I worked in Havana, Cuba as a translator. After coming to the USA, I worked as financial consultant at AIG and Smith Barney/Citigroup, after which I decided to travel to Asia to study Feng Shui and various metaphysical disciplines. I received my International Feng Shui Master certification from the famed feng shui author, Lilian Too.
Presently, I write full-time at my Upstate NY residence. So far, I’ve written several books including mystery/thrillers Gold Train (Accidental Spy Russia Adventure), Stepford USA (Accidental Spy Small Town Adventure), Green Desert (Accidental Spy Iraq Prequel), metaphysical fantasy novelette Catharsis, Legend of the Lemurians (Earth Keepers Chronicles 1) and my new release, The Earth Shifter, a visionary fantasy/thriller, which is an epic novel. I will soon be releasing Earth Keepers Chronicles 2 and 3: Lemurian Crystal and Atlantis. I’m also working on The Earth Shifter sequel: Key of Destiny.
What or who inspired you to write?
L: I think I’ve always wanted to write. When I was a child, I often put together stories in my head. But my life developed in a different direction, or rather directions, until one day I realized that I had acquired much knowledge, wisdom, and unique experiences throughout my life’s many adventures, and decided to share them with the world.
When you were a child, who were your favourite authors?
L: This is easy. My father was a huge history and international adventure buff. We had a large library of classical literature, including complete Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, Alexander Dumas (how much I adored those Musketeers!), Shakespeare, Fenimore Cooper, and many others. I also read Russian sci-fi, especially Brothers Strugatsky, and Polish author Stanislav Lem, as well as the Russian classics: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky. Later, I couldn’t get enough of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My fave author as a teen was (still is) Mikhail Bulgakov, author of incredible fantasies and other books based on real events: The Master and Margarita, Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Occupation (hilarious time travel comedy of errors, featuring Ivan the Terrible), Dog’s Heart, White Guard (about the 1918 Russian Civil War). I think Bulgakov was a major influence on my writing.
Who are some of your favourite authors as an adult?
L: Oscar Wilde, Rumi and Mikhail Bulgakov. Of contemporary authors, I actually enjoyed J.K. Rawling’s Harry Potter. There are more, but these are the ones that came to mind immediately.
What has been the defining moment in your writing career?
L: I would say that publishing The Earth Shifter qualifies as one. I’ve published several books before this one, but it all started for me with the idea of The Earth Shifter several years ago. It took me a while to figure out how to tell this complex, fascinating and inspired story. In the interim, I wrote several other books, including mystery/thrillers Gold Train and Stepford USA. But in the end, it all came back to The Earth Shifter. Seeing it finally on digital shelves, and now also in print, is a huge milestone, and I’m very happy!
Your books are an interesting mix of mystery, intrigue, history, action, fantasy, philosophy, culture and spiritualism. Where do you get your ideas?
L: As I said earlier, I have accumulated many ideas and experiences throughout my life. These experiences are longing to be shared with the world. I have many more ideas and projects – if only there was more time in a day!
I love that your books take place in different parts of the world. Have you been to all the places you write about?
L: Yes, I’ve been to most places I write about. If I haven’t been to one, I still know enough, either from talking to others or from my own research and knowledge of similar places.
Where is one place you have not been to that you would love to visit?
L: Tibet and Machu Pichu.
When you are not writing, or thinking about writing, what do you like to do?
L: I love hiking, walking and traveling. I also love working on my blog, playing with my kitty, doing photography, meditating, and doing various metaphysical experiments and studies.
Now for a few fun, personal questions, which do you prefer:
Cats or dogs? Love all animals. I have a very cute kitty, but I equally love dogs.
Coffee or tea? Love the scent of coffee, but can’t drink it – maybe on special occasions. I’m primarily a tea drinker, with a large collection of Oriental green teas in my cabinet.
Lakes or oceans? Oceans and seas. I grew up on the Black Sea and some of my best memories are associated with it.
Cake or pie? Cake.
Now that we have that out-of-the-way, what advice would you give someone who is starting their writing career?
L: I like this quote: “A successful writer is the one who doesn’t give up.” Keep writing and keep sharpening your writing saw.
Anything else you would like to add?
L: Check out my new, top-rated fantasy/thriller THE EARTH SHIFTER! The ebook is available now, and the paperback is coming to Amazon in a few days. Gold Train second edition paperback is coming to Amazon in a few days as well. And Stepford USA paperback will be available at the same time.
For more about my books and other projects, visit my blog: LadaRay.wordpress.com.
Also, I wanted to add that I just started a new project called YA Revolution.
This is a grassroots movement for books with message and meaning. To find out more about it and to join go to the official YA Revolution Page on my blog. All readers and writers are invited!
In conclusion, thank you very much, Darlene, for this fabulous interview! I enjoyed it tremendously!
Read my review of The Earth Shifter on Goodreads
These and other books are also available at Sony, Apple, Kobo and Smashwords.
Check out this amazing author:
After receiving a copy Amanda in Arabia, from her aunt, Karoline Cullen, this eager fan couldn’t wait to start reading the book.
For more samples of this talented photographer’s work check out her website http://www.cullenphotos.ca/
Here is my wish for you this weekend, courtesy of Neil Gaiman
Have a fabulous weekend!
“I want to tell you that I have got my own darling child from London.” Jane Austen, in a letter to her sister, Cassandra, January 29, 1813 upon receiving her first published copy of Pride and Prejudice.
January 28th was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and we are still reading it and watching various film adaptations of the book. Like many of us, Jane had trouble getting her book published, but she persevered. Just think what we would have missed had she given up!
Over at Jane Austen’s Museum Blog the anniversary party at Chawton Cottage is described in detail with many photographs. I especially love the cake provided by Squires of Farnham. It is recreation of the frontispiece of the Museum’s copy of the first edition of Pride and Prejudice.
Picture from Jane Austen’s Museum Blog
I am sure Jane would be pleased as she always loved a good party!
I recently had tea with a good friend who surprised me with a lovely edition of Emma, my favourite Jane Austen novel.
I have spent many hours pouring over this special edition which includes lovely drawings and pages on Regency life, geographical settings, Regency fashions, and a Jane Austen timeline.
What a wonderful friend to think of me when she saw this book.
There will be many celebrations this year commemorating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. If you haven’t read it or haven’t read it in a while, this may be a good year to read /reread it.
If you read Jane Austen, which is your favourite novel and why?
A fellow Canadian writer and blogger friend of mine, Laura Best, has posted an article on Family Literacy Day which I am reblogging. She has suggested books that would make an enjoyable read and included Amanda in England-The Missing Novel!
It’s That Time Again, by Laura Best
No skill is more crucial to the future of a child, or to a democratic and prosperous society, than literacy.”
- Los Angeles Times, “A Child Literacy Initiative for the Greater Los Angeles Area”
Family Literacy Day here in Canada is on January 27th. It’s a day set aside to remind us all about the importance of literacy, and to help promote reading. It’s a time for family, and reading, and anything regarding the written word. You can find out more about Family Literacy Day by checking out the ABC Life Literacy Canada Site.
In honour of Family Literacy Day I thought it would be fun to give a shout-out to some great Canadian books enjoyable to those of us who are young at heart.
To read more:
I would suggest checking out all of the books listed as well as Laura’s Bitter, Sweet
We are happy to have a special guest from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania spending Christmas with us. Flat Ruthie arrived a few days ago and has settled into our home on the west coast of Canada very well.
Today she attended a Christmas tea party and book exchange with me. The tea party was wonderful with many home-made goodies made by my friend Kimberley and a variety of teas to choose from. I had lemon meringue Rooibos tea and munched on chocolate ginger cookies, lemon loaf and cranberry almond scones. All sooo good. Flat Ruthie didn’t have anything to eat as she is watching her weight this Christmas. I brought 5 books for the exchange and promised myself I would only bring 1 back home with me. But everyone brought such good books, I couldn’t resist and left with 4 I hadn’t read yet.
While I’ve been at work. Ruthie has been catching up on her reading. She has read all three Amanda books and loved them. She can’t wait for the fourth one to be published. I think she is hoping to be featured in one of them some day.
We love having her here as she is no trouble at all and it would have been a lonely Christmas otherwise.
Flat Ruthie comes from cardboard me travels http://cardboardmetravels.com/
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my wonderful followers!!
I haven’t participated in a blog hop before but was honoured to be chosen to be part of this one. I’d like to thank Sharon from Sharon’s Sunlit Memories for tagging me to participate. This gives us all a chance to view releases from authors we admire, as well as introduce us to some works in progress. Check out Sharon’s wonderful blog that brings back memories of a 60′s childhood. She posts cut-out dolls, picture books and paintings from way back then. She also sprinkles her blog with pictures of her magical property in Ireland. (a place I wish to visit one day)
The ten questions required to answer for the “Next Big Thing” are:
1.What is the working title of your work in progress?
Amanda in Alberta-The Writing on the Stone
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I like to write about Amanda travelling to unique places but when I was doing a reading at my grandson’s school in Alberta, one of the students said, “Why don’t you write about Amanda in Alberta?” I grew up there so I didn’t think it would be that unique. But then I thought, for children who are not familiar with the area, they might find it fascinating.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Middle reader chapter books, ages 8 – 12 approximately. (although many adults seem to enjoy my books as well!)
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I am not familiar with current child actors. I always imagine my books as animations when I think of them on-screen.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Leah comes to Alberta to visit Amanda where they attend the Calgary Stampede, visit a cattle ranch, spend time at a dinosaur museum and meet a sad rodeo clown, while they try to decipher prehistoric writing found on a stone.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My books are published by Central Avenue Publishing
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I have written four chapters of Amanda in Alberta. I hope to have the first draft completed by June of next year.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I haven’t really compared this story to other books. I enjoyed reading about the Bobbsey Twins and their travels when I was growing up.
9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
This book was inspired by the children who read my books. They always ask me, “Where is Amanda going to next?” My family has lived in Alberta for five generations, and my grandchildren live there now so I have tons of inspiration and ideas.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Alberta is rich with history dating back to the age of dinosaurs so there will be something for everyone; dinosaurs, First Nations people, buffalo, cowboys,and a Blue Heeler dog named Bart. There is actually a place called “Writing on The Stone Park”.
Cowboy picture from wikipedia
The five authors that I am tagging for this blog hop are:
Cassandra Giovanni http://cgiovanniwrites.wordpress.com/about/
Lada Ray http://ladaray.wordpress.com/about/
Diane Tibert http://dianetibert.com/home/
Michelle Isenhoff http://michelleisenhoff.wordpress.com/book-trailers/
You can answer the questions about a work in progress or a recently published book if you wish. All you have to do is link your post back to my blog.
Check out these great authors (who happen to be very nice people to get to know as well)
A cool blogger friend of mine, Jennifer at The Secret Keeper offered the LOOK challenge to me and I have accepted it as I thought it was a lot of fun. Check out The Secret Keeper for amazing poetry and video clips as well as a variety of well written topics and discussions. She will make you think.
Here are the rules for the LOOK Challenge:
Search your manuscript for the word “look,” and then copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post.
Give a little background on the scene if you’d like.
Here is mine from my latest book Amanda in England-The Missing Novel
Amanda and Leah have just arrived on the Isle of Wight:
When they arrived on the island later that afternoon, Leah’s dad treated them to a delicious fish and chip dinner. Amanda laughed as she read out the menu, “Mushy peas- yuk. Toad in the hole? Spotted dick? That can’t be real! I think I will stick with fish and chips, thank you.”
After dinner they walked down the cobblestone streets of Cowes, passing a shop with interesting used books in the window.
“Can we please stop and have a look in here?” asked Amanda.
“It’s only books.” Leah kept walking.
“But I love books and these look way cool.”
“Why don’t you girls stop in here, while I visit the shop next door to purchase some fittings for the boat.”
Amanda was in her element. The dusty old store had books piled up right to the ceiling. The shelves looked like they would topple over from the weight of the volumes. The many stacks on the floor leaned to the left and to the right. The place smelled like old, well-worn novels.
Amanda loved books so much and had a nice collection. If there was ever a fire in her house, she would throw her books out first before she jumped out of the window. Fortunately her bedroom was on the ground floor.
Leah browsed in the romance section. Amanda drifted to a vintage section where her eyes lighted upon a copy of Vicky and Alice. Her great-aunt Amelia had a series of these delightful books about two Victorian sisters. She would let Amanda read them when she visited. But, she hadn’t seen this one before, Vicky and Alice at the Seashore. Amanda laughed at the picture of the girls in bathing suits that covered most of their bodies.
The price, written in pencil, was three pounds.
“I found a book I want to buy. It’s a real gem!”
Leah wasn’t as excited about it, but smiled politely. She had a fashion magazine in her hand. “I think I’ll get this.”
They gave their money to a man reading at a desk in the middle of the room. He was as dishevelled as the rest of the store, with unkempt grey hair and round glasses that sat at the end of his nose. A large, snoring tabby cat took over the only part of the desk that was not piled high with books and papers.
“Don’t mind Rupert,” said the gentleman. “He just likes to be around books. He’ll do you no harm.”
“A good purchase,” he said as he rang in the Vicky and Alice book. “These are hard to come by these days.” He almost smiled at Amanda.
Tag 5 other writers who are working on, or who have completed a manuscript.
The authors I have tagged are:
Hope you have fun with this!
Here is what I did on Halloween