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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: A GIRL TO COME HOME TO by Grace Livingston Hill (Barbour Publishing, January 2014)

From Amazon.comA war hero wounded by love, Rodney Graeme returns home to face the aftermath of a broken engagement. But the past won’t fade without a fight. His ex-fiancĂ©e, Mrs. Jessica De Groot, insists on keeping old friendship alive. Meanwhile, New Yorker Diana Winters is visiting a friend in town and sorting through her own love woes after receiving a marriage proposal she’s not sure she should accept. Just as Diana’s presence begins to salve Rodney’s hurt, Jessica’s jealousy flares and the real reason for her interest in her ex-beau comes to light, threatening new love. . .and government secrets.

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Inspirational Romance, Historical Romance
Length: 256 pgs.

Rating: ** (It was okay)

Review: One of the things that colored my reading of this is not knowing that it was a reprint of an older book. I did like the charming way the narrative was told in that old, head-hopping style that they used to use. The girls were so cute and fun and the boys real heroes. The villains were all nasty and non-religious. One of the storylines didn't resolve, but I understand there are other books in this series. In reality, the love story played second or third fiddle to the gospel message in the book, which is fine, but not really my thing.

Content: Rated 1-5; 1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated
Sex - 0 (The kisses were all very chaste)
Violence - 0
Language - 0
Preaching - 5+

Source: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

DEFY by Sara B. Larson (Scholastic, Jan 2014)

From Sara B. Larson's blogAlexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 336 pgs

Rating:  **** (Loved it.)

Review: Can't even remember how I came across this book, but I knew I had to read it when it came out in January. And then, one days I was trolling NetGalley for a good read and there it was. You better believe I requested that title like a boss. (Forgive me, I'm practicing my teen lingo since I'm in the middle of editing a YA project.) And I was so giddy when I got approved for it.
I loved all the real elements to this story. It's not soft, fluffy, everyone-lives-happily-ever-after fantasy (yeah, the uh, kind I write...) I love how strong Alexa is. I love the way she feels torn between her best friend and the prince. The romance in it is exciting and spine tingling. (Sweetness!) My only, tiny little pickyness is that the political parts seemed so big for the story. It was a little hard to keep track of the royal family and the opposing sides, but it didn't detract from the story at all. (Maybe I'll just have to read it again...)

Content: Rated 1-5; 1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated
Sex - 1+ (Passionate kissing)
Language - 0
Violence - 4 (There's lots of fighting and all of described, but not too graphically.)

Source: I was provided a copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 23, 2013

GOODNIGHT KISS by Ranee` S. Clark

When Chase sees Clare during her brief Christmas visit to their hometown, he knows it's his chance to make things right between them. Considering he all but ignored her while on his mission, it's a tough task. 
After having her heart broken by him before, Clare is wary of a holiday romance. But a long-awaited goodnight kiss might change her mind.

Check out these blogs, featuring GOODNIGHT KISS this week:

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Coming soon! GOODNIGHT KISS, a Sweet Kisses Story for the Holidays!

So my best writing buddy Kaylee and I have this fun little project: The Sweet Kisses Stories, and the first one, GOODNIGHT KISS by yours truly, will be out soon. As in, I am putting the finishing touches on the whole thing right now.

It has a cover that I just *sigh* adore.

Cover (c) 2013 Ranee` S. Clark
Image “Happy Young Couple in Winter Park having fun” copyright Vladyslav Spivak

When Chase sees Clare during her brief Christmas visit to their hometown, he knows it's his chance to make things right between them. Considering he all but ignored her while on his mission, it's a tough task. After having her heart broken by him before, Clare is wary of a holiday romance. But a long-awaited goodnight kiss might change her mind.
**If you're interested in obtaining a review copy, use the Contact Me form**

UPDATE! GOODNIGHT KISS is now available on Amazon!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: THE CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White (HarperTeen, September 2013)

From Kiersten White's BlogAll good stories have a few false starts...
Myth: The children of immortal gods are immortal, too.
Reality: Isadora isn’t going to be around forever—and her parents barely seem to notice she’s alive right now.

MythOnce a god, always a god—that kind of power never fades away.

Reality: These days, Isadora’s relatives are clinging to the little bit of power they have left. And some of them would do anything to take it all.…

MythEvery teenage girl dreams of falling in love.

Reality: From what Isadora’s seen, “love” is a painful mess. All she dreams of is a normal life away from her crazy family—minus any romantic drama.

MythIf you go far enough, you can leave the past behind.

Reality: Isadora moves halfway around the world to San Diego for a fresh start, but quickly finds that there’s no such thing as a clean break from family—and that leaving her old life may mean sacrificing more than she ever guessed.

The Chaos of Stars blends sweet romance, high-stakes suspense, and the magic of Egyptian mythology to create a complex, funny, and deeply moving story about true love and what it means to be a family.

Audience: YA
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 288 pgs.

Rating: *****+ (Loved, loved it!)

Review: You know how when you find an author and no matter what they write you will buy it even if it was a bathroom photo book? I have a couple of those and Kiersten White is one of them. I preordered THE CHAOS OF STARS so it arrived at my house the day it came out. Unfortunately, with all this nonsense about moving across a country (doesn't that sound so much awesomer than moving to Alaska...?), I didn't get to it until my power went out for two days and I couldn't unpack in the dark. Let's correct that. I devoured it in those two days. I love the humor, the characters--the CHARACTERS! I loved how much Isadora grew and changed. I could feel her growing up and figuring things out. Kiersten does characters so, so well, always--the food, of course. Kiersten has said that so much of this book is really about food. It's so sweet and simple and I loved it. Score for her again. (No but really, if she wrote a photo book for the bathroom, it would be awesome and we all know it.)

Source: Hardcover from Amazon

Content: 1-5 (1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated)
Sex: 1+ (Kissing, Isadora's mother is the goddess of fertility, so the topic is discussed frequently, but not in inappropriate detail. Certain...parts...are mentioned by name a couple times in a mostly scientific way.)
Language: 0
Violence: 1 (Some fights.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: BAKED ALASKA by Josi S. Kilpack

From http://www.josiskilpack.comSadie plans to spend time relaxing with her two grown children, Breanna and Shawn, and her boyfriend, Pete, while enjoying the luxury and cuisine of an elegant cruise ship and helping to plan her daughter’s upcoming wedding. But even as the crew prepares to leave port, Sadie has suspicions about the voyage ahead and the relationship between her normally easygoing son and a mysterious female passenger he obviously knows but refuses to discuss. When the woman is discovered unconscious during the second night at sea, Sadie’s apprehension escalates. Over the last few years, Sadie has developed an extreme dislike for secrets—and it would seem her son is keeping one from her.

Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Cozy Mystery (Culinary)
Length: 368 pgs.

Rating: **** (Really liked it)

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Writing Process Blog Tour

What? An actual post on ... something other than book reviews? From me? Yes, in fact. Thanks to the lovely Charlie Holmberg, author of THE PAPER MAGICIAN, coming soon from 47North, who tagged me and ran off somewhere...

(I do have to tell you how me and Charlie *met* [and when I say met, I mean how we came across each other on line since I have yet to meet her in person]. I was part of a getting to know you blog tour, can't even remember where it started, and Charlie commented on my post about my then current project, THE GAME PLAN, and being at BYU during the Jimmer Fredette craze. I followed her on Twitter immediately. CLICK.)

1. What am I working on?

You know how when you are submitting your stuff they tell you to write and get on with life while you wait? That's what I'm working on. Waiting. Oh, yeah, and that writing stuff too. Actually, I'm editing the companion novel to THE GAME PLAN, which is the story of one of THE GAME PLAN character's best friends. Everyone who has read this book for me loved David and insisted that he needed his own story. I agreed. I wrote the first draft a few months ago and let it sit (at a disgustingly short 43k words). Now I'm back to combing through it, adding conflict, rounding out the characters and such.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I've been told by a few people, including an editor, that THE GAME PLAN is unlike any other romance they've heard of. I'm actually not totally sure why. I think it's funny, but there are other funny romances. The characters are a bit younger than most LDS romances like it--it almost borders on an NA. Ty, the (female) main character of THE GAME PLAN, is different from most heroines I've read in romances. She goes in with a goal of winning Anthony's heart and she's forward and goes after the guy she wants instead of initiating contact and letting him come after her.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I've written lots of YA and fantasy before and found myself almost always focusing on the magic of the love story. So when I first got the idea for THE GAME PLAN (my first, straight-up romance), I went with it. At first it was hard for me to fill in the story with only the romance, but I kept learning and talked to who I thought was the best at it, and I'm getting a lot better. I still love to write YA fantasy, and I have a special place in my heart for a YA magical realism novel I'm working on, but it seems as though Romance might end up my primary genre.

4. How does your writing process work?

I get random ideas from everything. Songs on the radio. (Oh, oh, there's a story in that!) History. What I make up about the people I see around town and in stores. I write down my basic ideas in a "notebook" on my iPad and let them settle. Especially if I'm already working on something. Then, when I'm ready, I take that idea out, dust it off and do a basic outline. I used to be a pantser, but I always ended up with so many issues with pacing and not finishing, that I started outlining, like Charlie, with the Save the Cat method. I don't do post-its though, I use a note-taking program on my iPad. (I like to have it with me wherever in case I can sit down and write.) Once I have that basic map, I start writing. Because I don't go into minute details while I outline, I usually end up with a first draft in the 30-50k range. I let that sit for a few months before going back to fill in details--usually I work on adding more conflict and subplots. (My first drafts are usually just the basic plotline, everything revolving around the original idea.) This is the point where I use post its. I write down every scene on a post it, color coded to the POV (usually pink for female POV and blue for the male). I use little post-its to add in scenes I know I need to put in, then as I edit, I'll use them to add the scenes I've just put in. It allows me to see the story as a whole and know where the best spots for additional scenes, conflict, character development, etc. is. 
Then I do another read through for basic consistency before I send it to alpha readers. Again, it sits while that happens and I work on other projects--either new drafts or editing others. When I get it back, I'll edit in depth again and send it to beta readers. When I can, I like to send my "just before the final" draft to my critique partner Kaylee. She's really great at helping me fine tune it. (She's also really great at finding the problems, so sometimes I have to send her earlier drafts.) Once I've gone through all my readers I do a very detailed edit: searching for words I overuse, cleaning up the prose, etc. I read it aloud to find awkward sentences and mistakes I missed. Then I get ready to submit to ... wherever I'm going to submit that project. ;)

Well, there you have it. And I know you want to hear about how other people work it too. How about Gina Denny and Kaylee Baldwin?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: SUPER DAISY by Jennifer Griffith

From Amazon: Super Daisy! is the story of Daisy Blaine, a disgraced former beauty queen who has to return to her small Idaho town of Prairie Grass, where the potatoes grow and the mayor (who she finds herself stuck working for) is a corrupt old louse. It’s a career and social dead end. The only guy she could feasibly date, the handsome Cliff Calloway, doesn’t know she’s alive, and Daisy’s long-time nemesis Natasha Willikie is determined to keep it that way. It all looks bleak for poor Daisy, until one day she's driving home from work--lightning strikes, she crashes her jeep on the bridge, and sees a "super" vision. In that moment, everything changes. What’s a small town girl with super strength to do?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review: SNOW ON TULIPS by Liz Tolsma

From the Thomas Nelson website: A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.
The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still heavily occupy the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. Her main objective is protecting her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.
But when Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.
As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. The thought of opening her heart, however, is almost more terrifying than the thought of losing her life.
But Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.
She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the landscape slowly thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story might end before it has even begun.
Audience: Adult (Clean)
Genre: Historical Romance, Inspirational Romance
Length: 336 pgs
Rating: *** (Liked it)
Review: I saw the cover of this book, read a couple lines about this taking place during World War II and really wanted to read it. (The cover is gorgeousness. So. Much. Gorgeousness.) I liked that the author kept things realistic, while still letting a happy ending win out. There's plenty of danger, conflict, and intensity. The setting is very in depth. The language is sometimes stilted, and since I always have to comment on how *preachy* inspirational books are, this one is kind of high on the scale.
Source: Received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Content: 1-5 (1 being minor instances, 5 being saturated)
Sex: 1 (some kissing with passionate feelings)
Language: 0
Violence: 2+ (War scenes are described)

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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