Wednesday, 25 May 2016

50. Give Me an 'A'

Wow! What a busy month it’s been. It has been a month, right? Not a week? And then to look up for a bit of breathing space and realise I’ve reached Blog #50. I’ve loved writing these and I’m so thrilled for the support I’ve received too.

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to mums everywhere. I hope you had a wonderful day. As always, I appreciate that for some, it’s a very rough day indeed and my thoughts are with those who find it a difficult time.

With appropriate or perhaps ‘Hollywood’ timing, a new movie release called “Bad Mums” has reached our screens. I haven’t been to see it yet, but it’s certainly the motivation behind this month’s column.

Column
There’s a movie out called Bad Mums and it’s on my ‘must see’ list because I’m sure I’m one. Just ask my kids after we’ve exchanged a few cross words.

The movie centres on three mums who’ve had enough of trying to be the perfect mother and living up to an impossible ideal. It’s a comedy, but I imagine there’ll be some emotional tears amongst the ones only a good belly laugh can produce.

I’m forever wondering if I’m a good enough mum. Are they getting enough sleep? I have a night owl and an early bird who don’t know what it means to be quiet, so no. Eating the right food? Um – not always. Getting plenty of fresh air and exercise? If drama queen moments count as physical activity, then yes. And it’s entirely possible that I’ve joined in.

So I’m not perfect and we have a long way to go in the ‘How to Train your Mother’ stakes (Doesn’t that sound like a great movie spin-off?), but the kids are happy, and for the most part, pleasant to be around, so for now, this particular Bad Mum is going to take that as a win.

Another of my habits (Can I say superpowers?  Pretty please?) is disappearing into books so I may have added to my bad mum status by neglecting the kids (just a smidge, I swear) by indulging in some quality reading time. I did spend Mother’s Day catching up on MasterChef with my teen and failing spectacularly at some sort of craft endeavour with my youngest. The family also cooked dinner together – Spanish Chicken Salsa in homemade bread bowls – oh, it was so yum, and I didn’t have to do the dishes afterwards. LOL I’m trying to convince my husband that he should take over cooking dinner on a permanent basis, but he’s yet to believe the brilliance of my plan. I’ll keep trying though.  But to get back on topic, I’ve read a trio of themed romance books, a paranormal romance and a young adult fantasy. The latter is the debut novel of one of our local authors whom I went to high school with. So wonderful to see his writing dreams come true.

Reviews
Her Dark Guardian by Mel Teshco
A woman traumatized by her past. A man waiting to heal her.
When supermodel Lacey Morgan fled a violent marriage, she also left behind the one man she couldn’t have and can’t forget. Kane Sampson fills her fantasies even as her husband and Kane’s half-brother, Leeroy, fills her nightmares.
She returns home to face her past so that she can put it behind her. Except her attraction for Kane hasn’t diminished over time, it’s intensified. Just as Leeroy’s hate and possessiveness has also festered.
This time she won’t run. But has she left it too late to claim the only man she’s ever wanted?

Lacey thought she escaped her violent husband, but she’s been hiding from him in one way or another for five years now. The only man she still trusts is the one who helped her escape – her husband’s half-brother, Kane. When he offers her his home to get away from her career’s increasing demands, Lacey decides it’s time she faced her fears. Not only does it bring her back to the one man she truly loves and can’t have, she needs to find the courage to face her husband and demand the divorce he’s refused to grant her. Once there though, it’s hard to decide who she fears more – the man who could break her heart or the monster who promised to end her life.

I think this is a relatable story in the fact that appearances can be deceiving and people aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes we don’t see who they really are until it’s too late. I did not expect it to end the way it did, but the build up to the end of the story was intense and will have your mind running away with you.

You can find out more about Ms Teshco and her stories here.

Every Breath You Take by Christina Phillips
She’s the one girl this bad boy could never have…
It was only supposed to be a forbidden one-night stand with the bad boy she’d never forgotten, but Piper Thomas soon discovers it takes more than sizzling sex to scorch her teenage fantasies. The more he gives, the more she needs…
It’s been five years since Mason Hunter’s brother died, and he’s tried to put the guilt behind him. But when Piper, the girl his brother should’ve married, reappears in his life and offers him the one thing he’s always craved – one steamy night in her arms – he can’t resist.
Piper’s the only woman he’s ever wanted, but how can they have a future together when the past haunts every breath they take?

Good girls don’t belong with bad boys, do they? But maybe Piper isn’t such a good girl any more. After all, she’s been fantasizing about her boyfriend’s older brother for years – the very boyfriend who died in a motorbike accident the night she broke up with him. And the motorbike - that belonged to Mason, who can’t forgive himself for letting his little brother take his bike or the fact that he wants his brother’s girlfriend too. But if they’re both feeling guilty, a one-night stand isn’t going to make things any worse, is it?

I both enjoyed and was frustrated by this story. Mason is a very sexy guy and their night together is certainly hot, but as the story unfolded, not once did they take the time to be honest with each other and explain how they felt. They spent the story second-guessing and making assumptions about the other without every discovering if that was the truth. I imagine I received some strange looks in the school carpark whilst I screamed at my kindle “Just talk to each other, damn it.” This may appear to be a criticism, but it isn’t. If I cared enough to yell at an inanimate object, it shows that the story was getting to me, and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, when it comes to communicating, these kinds of stories are all too real and that’s what made this one so believable. 

Here’s Ms Phillips' details.

Always You by Karen Stivali
When Shari discovers that her fiancĂ© has been cheating on her, she lets the wedding go on according to plan. But there’s just one hitch, while everyone else is at the church, Shari is heading to the airport to fly off on her honeymoon with her best friend, Jon.
Jon is only too happy to help Shari escape what he knew would have been an awful marriage. Plus he’s thrilled by the prospect of time alone with her in a tropical paradise. He’s always loved her, and desired her as a lot more than a friend.
A steamy, romantic night on the beach turns into a whirlwind of desire as they take their friendship to multiple new levels of passion. But when Shari’s apologetic ex tries to win her back, she must choose between the life she thought she was going to have with him and the possibility of love with Jon.

This is a fun story in which I had a fair idea of where it was heading. I love that Shari took off on her honeymoon and left her cheating fiancée behind to attempt an explanation of why the wedding was off to friends and family. (You go, girl!) I had a good giggle over the fact she was clueless that her supposed best friend felt more for her than just friendship. But when Jon finally told her how he felt (communication, people) and Shari realized the love of her life was in front of her all along, they had their happy ending at last.

And here’s where you find out about Ms Stivali.

Mind you, I’m a bit oblivious when it comes to verbal communication too. I don’t know why hubby can’t just read my mind and know what I mean. Maybe I should start sending him emails so there’s no confusion when the words coming out my mouth are not the ones I really mean. LOL ;)

Shadow Hunter by Mel Teshco
When Altair, king of the vampires, leaves behind his queen Kyra to become a despised vampire-werewolf hybrid, his shadow hunter wife becomes his biggest enemy. 
But what Kyra doesn’t count on is the attraction still burning hot between them and on Altair’s final act of betrayal. To save her life, he forces her to drink his blood…and turns her into his own kind. A despised hybrid. 
Shadow hunters now too become her enemy. But she soon learns Altair isn't the only man willing to protect her from her once vampire comrades. 
When the time comes to choose between her two fierce protectors will she follow her head … or her heart?

Kyra and Altair should have been enemies. First, he took her mortality and then her vampire purity. In both cases, it was to keep her alive, but his true motivations eluded her. In contrast, Jareth has always told her the truth about everything, hasn’t he? He protected her when her husband left her and gave his support when she was forced to hunt Altair down as per vampire law, but it seems both Altair and Jareth know more than they are prepared to reveal. Once more, Kyra suffers for now she doesn’t know whom to trust, who’s really the enemy and who is on her side. All she knows for sure is that the shadow hunter vampires she used to hunt with are now hunting her and they’re closing in.

I love how Ms Teshco treats her male and female characters as equals. I also loved the twists and turns, the build up to the ‘big reveal’ and the way the characters turned their backs on what they were taught to be the truth when faced with a secret that was never meant to be revealed. I also like how this wasn’t the typical ‘love triangle’ storyline. I’d be happy if Ms Teshco had another story in mind for these characters or even a spin off for some of the sub characters who I found just as intriguing.

A Warden Born - Book 1 of The Warden Saga, YA Fantasy series by Paul Summerhayes
Magic, Murder, and Mystery 
As a stranger in a new land, a young Eldon, Finn, is fortunate to be mentored by an old warden. As a warden, he must uphold the king’s law, whatever the cost. Events beyond his control force him to fight for his own life and for his friends as he searches for his mentor and the location of his father. In his quest, an unlikely ally aids him and he is witness to the power of ancient magic.

Eldon-born, Finn and his brother search for their father who’s missing, presumed dead, but Finn never quite believed the stories his grandfather told. Circumstances force the brothers to separate and start Finn on a journey to find the Warden who took them into his care and began their training, but the bandits the Old Warden was tracking kidnap his companion, a human for whom Finn has come to care deeply. Now with the aid of a mysterious sword and a mismatched band of travellers, each with their own agenda, Finn must rescue Anna and find his place in a world that hungers for his demise.

This is a great story for young adults and new adult readers and those who are relatively new to fantasy but are aware of the typical creatures found in this genre. The fight scenes are well written and there’s plenty of intrigue for the reader as Finn ventures on his quest with just the right amount of mystery at the end. I look forward to the next book in the trilogy.

And this is Mr Summerhayes’ website.

I also edited a story for an amazing up and coming author whom I can’t wait to see her publishing dreams come true either because each of her stories I’ve had the privilege of reading is fantastic. The writing project is coming along slowly despite my brain determined to linger in the backstory instead of doing what it’s supposed to do, which is to keep the story in the present and moving forward. Fortunately, my fellow collaborators are honest in their critiques and intent on encouraging my story to go in the right direction.

My blog title should make sense from here. ;)

I’ve also been involved over the past couple of weeks with a local production for an amazing group of singers – The Gladstone Performing Arts Company. Now don’t worry, I have no plans to sing. That’s Miss Teen’s job. My involvement is strictly as taxi driver and admirer of creative talent. But wow, to sit in on the rehearsals, see how hard they’re working and bask in those beautiful voices is wonderful.

The group consists of approximately thirty singers of various age and experience, but when they sing, one has to wonder if a few angels joined in. Their rehearsals are intense, but what a committed group they are and all that hard work will pay off next month at their concert performances on the 10th and 11th of June. For my local readers, you can find out more about the company and their concerts here.


While I’m bragging about local talent, there’s more exciting news to share for next month. My writing group will be launching our anthology in mid-June. I’ll be able to share the cover in next month’s blog and I like to think you’ll be amused by our cover choice. :) I’ve never been involved in a book launch so this will be quite the experience.

Reading, reviews and my rambling aside along with shout outs and gratuitous plugging shared, it’s back to writing for this daydreamer. I do have one last announcement though. As stated in my little badge of honour on the right hand side of my blog page, I am a proud member of RWA (Romance Writers Australia) and now I am also RWA’s Aspiring e-Loop Ambassador. Along with fellow members Emily and Julie-Anne who are our BIAW (Book in a Week) Moderator and our Author Q&A Host Moderator respectively, we three are taking over from the wonderful Dee Scully who has singlehandedly worked above and beyond the call of duty to make aspiring writers such as myself feel welcome.  Dee’s not going anywhere though. She’s still guiding us with her blog posts as she chases her writing dreams. You can find out more about her here.

Dee Scully
    
Julie-Anne’s brand new website has just gone live. :)

Emily’s site is in progress, but I’ll be sharing that once she’s sorted. :)

Along with these lovely ladies, I’ll be doing my share of that welcoming and become a cheerleader of sorts. Though trust me, that’s as close to pompoms as I’ll ever get and my days of short, short skirts are long over. It is, however, an honour to cheer on and encourage others to follow their dreams while chasing mine.


Until next time, here’s hoping all your dreams are well within reach. :)