Fifty Shades of Love: Vanilla, Spice, Loyalty & Everything Nice

Before you read- Possible spoiler alert!***My take on 50 Shades- just read and reflecting on it! Hint may be mild spoilers ahead- is an overview of the trilogy)***

Ana fell for her first love. Christian (or Mr.Grey- as she first knows him by) was an experienced suitor/lover and they both were experiencing new things for the first time with each other. What they didn’t realize was that the other truly, deeply loved them. They doubted each other and fought for control. Ana became his first ever girlfriend- all the others had been “submissives” only to him- that he didn’t love, but that he could control. That was the “first” for him. The first for Ana was the sexual side of things, the pleasure, the carnality. She lost control sexually with Christian, as he did with her because of his love for her and because  of her unique abilities as a temptress- she did what she liked and went for what she desired, unlike his submissives who only did as they were told.  Christian didn’t mind her temptress, seductive, take-what–she wanted- ways. He loved her and wanted her. All of her. For who she was to him. On the other hand, she enjoyed giving Christian this pleasure and playing this role to please him- and because she enjoyed it as well, as she admitted. He also enjoyed those times when she did take control and loved her all the more for her independence and fiery spirit.

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When she first meets him- and has no idea of the future together or who he will become to her (so mysterious!)

Their love for each other went very deep. It was their own brand or “flavor” of love, but it was true, long-lasting and solid. They each went through their own doubts and had their own fears and avoided things or ran away from each other at certain times. But their love was of the lasting variety.

One example of Ana’s love for Christian was that she accepted him for who he was- flaws and all- yet always challenged him to be free and to be better- so they could be the best they could be- for each other. She sought out answers to fully understand him and his past and the ways he was affected by things. She accepted his past- the abuse, the choices he made. The lovers he had. And she wanted healing for him so they could be closer together and because she wanted the best for him. She didn’t want him to be trapped in his past. She wanted him freed from his prior bondage- in various ways. Pun intended 😉

 

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One example of how she “freed” him with her love was when he allowed her to draw in marker around his “no touch” zones where he did not allow anyone to touch him because of past wounds and scarring- as it was literally painful for him. Yet he saw her need to touch and recognized his own need to be touched by her- physically and emotionally so that there was nothing between them. As he stated- he craved her touch. He enjoyed when she touched him; it was just painful with the past wounds in those certain areas where he had been hurt before. This is true to any real life relationship- we don’t want to be “touched” or hurt in ways or areas where we were wounded before and we tend to guard ourselves from this and not allow new lovers to touch us or affect us in these ways where there is scarring from the past- so we set up walls and don’t allow people in who may hurt us in the same way or we naturally react or have a reflex to defend ourselves from this possible pain. Ana freed Christian by pressing this boundary and working with him so that he could get to the point where he could allow himself to be touched- symbolizing the healing he could experience in a long-term, lasting, healthy loving relationship with her. He opened himself up to her. He allowed the “light” in and  the healing could begin. They took steps together. He was brave and allowed her to work with him in this until she was surprised and pleased of how she could hold him and touch him in the former “no touch” zones as he experienced healing and freedom from his past.

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Christian also deeply loved Ana and showed this to her in many ways. He was patient and even though they had a rough start and few stops along the way, he allowed her to go at her own pace with things so that she was comfortable. Yes, they both fought each other along the way, with their stubborn independence. But. He consistently showed his tenderness and protectiveness for her- always holding her best interest at heart. I may be old-fashioned in this sense- but I crave a protector in a loving relationship with a man. I enjoy being taken care of and taking care of the ones I love. He put her own needs first when he “became vanilla” (or sort of vanilla 😉 ) for her- putting her as a person first and his sexual desires second. Yes, he still craved her carnally and wanted all of her. He wanted to take her and own her. But he realized after she left that he didn’t “need” those things of BDSM- he needed and wanted her. And so he chose her first. He was willing to go full “vanilla” for her- stating that she became his priority. He missed certain things- but valued her above all. And when it became clear that they both liked certain things- that was just the icing on the “not so vanilla after all” ice-cream cake. They learned they both liked “vanilla” and non-vanilla things. After all, as Ana so aptly put it, “variety is the spice of life.”

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Christian, though he acted many times on his “primal” animalistic/hunter side, expressing dominance and anger when he wasn’t able to protect Ana, also always acted out of his love for her. He was very tender with her. Even the times he was angry, he would still come back to her and show love. He might be on fire, but still loved her and expressed this to her. He compromised. He backed down when necessary. He stood up when necessary to protect Ana and fight to keep her safe. He didn’t always act “super mature,” (50 shades here, people) but he always listened to her needs, her desires and gave them to her. He protected her. He cherished her. He compromised.  He was so tender and gentle and treated her as precious because that’s who she was to him. Above all, his heart was for Ana. To guide her tenderly, protect her fiercely, and love her above all. Dominant or not, she was his and he was hers.

 

 

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BookwormCastle Rising from the Dead

My blog, long ago having taken a hiatus, after years traveling the world (and returning home and finding new adventures in between, including teaching, working at a national park, volunteering abroad and ghost-writing) I am now resurrecting BookwormCastle from the dead.

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Though the blog is being resurrected, my passion for all things books and writing has never died. I have been and still am as passionate about this as when I first started the blog.

In honor of being faithful to my new, (Welcome to BookwormCastle-it is a beautiful place to explore with many rooms) and returning readers-welcome so glad you are back!)  I would like to announce I am starting a new writing challenge.

APTOPIX GERMANY WEATHER

This time, instead of going around the world due to my love of travel and learning new things, I am going to take on the A Round of Words in 80 Days Challenge! Come join me as I explore worlds through my words of stories!

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This will include me setting my own goal of writing, to be updated weekly. It is tailor made for anyone to join and set their own personal writing goal for 80 days.

My goal: working on a personal writing project everyday

Let’s see what gets created and will be shared on here!

A great way to begin anew, resurrect my blog and spark new ideas of writing in the days to come.

Here’s to the A Round of Words in 80 Days Challenge! I hope you will follow me on this journey and/or even join along with me!

Let’s explore!

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Spiral Bound Brother

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

Welcome to another exciting publishing house spotlight tour from Novel Publicity. Join us as thee new titles from Perfect Edge–we’re calling them the Perfect Edge Triumvirate–tour the blogosphere in a way that just can’t be ignored. And, hey, we’ve got prizes!

About the book: “Diabolically delightful and perversely moving, Ryan Elliot Wilson takes us on a chaotic, engaging and excruciating journey with his train-wreck team of protagonists whom we hate to love.” ~ Moira Walley-Beckett, Writer/Co-Executive Producer, BREAKING BAD

Craft, 47, has always craved the comfort of his role as the eccentric English teacher at Earhart High in the suburbs of St. Louis. But now he finds himself in the school’s library, suffering a mysterious mental paralysis that won’t allow him to stop reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Lila, 21, has a holiday-break rendezvous planned with her old mentor, Craft. Actually, Lila has many plans—and they’re not all nice. She’s feeling more than a little betrayed and bewildered after discovering that her father is not the man her mother always said. In fact, he kills people.

Duke, 17, is a high-school dropout working in the bowels of Disney World. In his room before dawn, he stuffs essentials into a backpack, preparing to leave home for the first time. It’s news to him, but he has this (disturbed?) sister, Lila, and she wants him to come to L.A. to meet her.

The altered reality Craft and these lost-and-found siblings inhabit propels them on separate journeys across America. In a landscape of angels and mirrors, allies and adversaries, Craft, Lila, and Duke converge to expose the man whose life of violence connects them. Will they find wholeness, justice, and love? Or is it all an invitation to unleash demons best left asleep?

Pick up your copy of this Literary Fiction/Coming-of-Age/Tragicomic through Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.

My Review:

Open your diary. The one from your childhood. What do you see? What do you learn? Turn the page- What if someone with ties to your family revealed a secret about your identity that changed the course of your life?

This is what happens to Lila, who reunites with her former favorite teacher and mentor after receiving this news, but it goes downhill from there.

In a crazy chain of events, she tries to figure out her purpose and make some type of resolution to her conflicted life.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “I’d always been able to spot what I thought were beautiful approaches to prayer in others, singers, carpenters, painters, actors, waitresses, poets too, but I had, subconsciously, written it off as impossible, or perhaps deceptive, for myself.”
  • “And to be sure to change her audience of one forever, she must continue to check the mirror to see which pair of eyes has elbowed its way to the front, looking out and back at her. Wanting, as everyone does, to be recognized, fully.”
  • “Even fools love to watch the fool fall—but more so to rise up, from something, against something, so that we may leave with the tiniest inkling that we might do the same.”
  • “Because Jesus, as smart as he was, should’ve known that there isn’t a teacher alive or ever lived who can teach walking on water to everybody. Which is what you sure as shit better be able to do if you’re going to love all your brothers, every last one.”  (This is true, because what Jesus wanted Peter to do when he told him to walk on the water was to look at him- Jesus- only. Not the waves, not the wind or the storms of life. This is very hard to do and not many people can “walk on the water” amid the storms of their lives. More to come on this?)

Pros:

I thought there were some redeemable characters and there was a dynamic plot line.

Cons:

I felt the ending was weak and did not show a strong resolution. I did not like how the story was organized, a little too many threads that did not tie together.

This was not my favorite book, as the train wreck of characters was not ultimately redeeming.

Overall:

I would recommend this is for fans of chaotic story lines, Walt Disney fans, and those who like a unique take on literature and family conflicts, long lost siblings and doppelgangers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About the author: Like his characters in the novel, Ryan Elliot Wilson shunned the ambivalent hospitality of the Midwest and the bizarre mix of Hell on Earth meets Happiest Place on Earth of Florida for the great, continually unfolding spectacle of humanity that is Los Angeles. There he found his tribe of the maimed in the form of East Side poets and musicians, Hollywood agents gone mad, and socially inept high school teachers. Wilson has found this mix to be ideal for his pH. His writing can be found in the L.A. anthology, IN SEARCH OF A CITY: Los Angeles in 1000 Words, Thunderdome, Drift, and The Painted Bride Quarterly. He teaches Creative Writing, works in high school counseling, and lives in Los Feliz with his family. SPIRAL BOUND BROTHER is Wilson’s first novel. Connect with Ryan on his website, Facebook, or GoodReads.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of Spiral Bound Brother, or an autographed copy of one of its tour mates, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? by Andrez Bergen or Gripped by Jason Donnelly. Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Perfect Edge Books was founded in late 2011 to unite authors whose books weren’t “obviously” commercial. Our books tend to sit in various genres all at once: literary fiction, satire, neo-noir, sci-fi, experimental prose. We believe that literary doesn’t have to mean difficult, and that difficult doesn’t just mean pointless. We prefer to cultivate a word-of-mouth approach to marketing, and keep production as simple as we can. Learn more at www.PerfectEdgeBooks.com.

Learn more about Spiral Bound Brother’s tour mates HERE.

Superheroes in a Virtual World: 101

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Everyone secretly wants to be a superhero…

In this virtual world, you can be! Heropa, the world where the superheroes reign, is a place where you can escape and become your own superhero. A great premise for a story makes this a fun read for comic book and superhero fans alike,  along with entertaining trivia for the curious mind.

I enjoyed the way the characters were explored and the twists involved made for an enjoyable ride through the virtual world of comic book heroes  and super heroes.

(Read on to learn how to win the prizes!)

Favorite parts:

  • The love (?) story! The dynamic between the love duos in this book were refreshing and told a brave story where they were willing to fight for each other
  • The awakening of the hero (oes) and how they found their strength and their truth (It does relate, doesn’t it? You need to know the truth to be brave enough to do your part to be a hero! You also need to be brave enough to face what that truth calls you to do!)
  • The lessons learned about what it means to be a hero: We all have it in us. Even those who seem to be a Regular Joe or Plain Jane have it in them to be a brave, passionate and  fiery fighter! You are a hero in your own right! You have it in you to play a special role and can do what no one else can!

superhero

Disliked:

  • Slow start to the story
  • Some of the character’s dialogue seemed redundant

Overall: 

  • Would recommend for comic book fans, superhero lovers and those who enjoy exploring a virtual world
  • Those who think about the “What if’s?”
  • Those who like a good action and love story 😉
  • Heropa makes for an entertaining story with a satisfying ending!

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Which superhero would you be if you could create your own? Please comment below and tell me what defines a superhero! Any superheroes in your life?

~~~

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

Welcome to another exciting publishing house spotlight tour from Novel Publicity. Join us as thee new titles from Perfect Edge–we’re calling them the Perfect Edge Triumvirate–tour the blogosphere in a way that just can’t be ignored. And, hey, we’ve got prizes!

About the book: A vast, homogenized city patrolled by heroes and populated by adoring masses. A pulp fiction fortress of solitude for crime-fighting team the Equalizers, led by new recruit Southern Cross – a lifetime away from the rain-drenched, dystopic metropolis of Melbourne. Who, then, is killing the great Capes of Heropa? In this paired homage to detective noir from the 1940s and the ’60s Marvel age of trail-blazing comic books, Andrez Bergen gloriously redefines the mild-mannered superhero novel.

heropa cover

Pick up your copy of this Science Fiction/Noir/Fantasy through Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Andrez Bergen is an expat Australian writer, journalist and DJ who’s been entrenched in Tokyo for the past 12 years. He put out the noir/sci-fi novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (2011), slipstream tome One Hundred Years of Vicissitude in 2012, and now Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? through Perfect Edge Books – a novel that combines classic comic books, noir, pulp, fantasy and sci-fi. Bergen has published short stories through Crime Factory, Snubnose Press, Shotgun Honey and Another Sky Press and worked on adapting the scripts for feature films by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Kazuchika Kise and Naoyoshi Shiotani. Connect with Andrez on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, or an autographed copy of one of its tour mates, Gripped by Jason Donnelly or Spiral Bound Brother by Ryan Elliot Wilson. Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Perfect Edge Books was founded in late 2011 to unite authors whose books weren’t “obviously” commercial. Our books tend to sit in various genres all at once: literary fiction, satire, neo-noir, sci-fi, experimental prose. We believe that literary doesn’t have to mean difficult, and that difficult doesn’t just mean pointless. We prefer to cultivate a word-of-mouth approach to marketing, and keep production as simple as we can. Learn more at www.PerfectEdgeBooks.com.

Learn more about Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa’s tour mates HERE.

Learn about how to win your gift card with the Rafflecopter giveaway


Finding Favor (or Finding Happiness?)

Finding-Favor - high res

Finding Favor begins with anticipation from the first breath as we get inside the head of Favor, a girl who was been brought up by a rich family ever since her father died. It brilliantly blends the worlds of the classic literature novel you love with the world of the modern in a unique way and was inspired by Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. (Check out the Bonus Guest Post at the end by the Author- Why I Love Jane Austen!) How about you- what are your favorite classics? Looking forward to hearing from you!

Keep reading for some awesome prizes! My review is below, after the blurb on the book!

Launch Week Prize Basket – Journal with a cover inspired by Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (as is this novel), note cards with an orchid design (Favor’s favorite flower), a hard cover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (Ethan’s favorite book), and a cool pen (who doesn’t love cool pens?) (Reviewer-only giveaway at the end!)

About Finding Favor

Which would you choose:  friendship or freedom?

In the eight years since seventeen-year-old Favor Miller’s father died, she’s had to endure her reluctant, self-righteous guardians the Browns. Every day for eight years, they’ve reminded her that she doesn’t fit in, that she’s not one of them. Every day for eight years, she’s eagerly awaited the day when she’ll finally be free to live her life her way.

On the eve of high school graduation, Mr. Brown ambushes Favor with the offer of college funding and a to-die-for summer internship–with the one stipulation that she must discontinue her friendship with his son, Ethan.

Accustomed as she is to sharing everything with her best friend, this is one secret Favor must keep in order to protect Ethan. The distraction of his new girlfriend, her growing friendship with his older brother, and her need to understand her family history, add in further complications.

As Favor debates signing the contract, she must decide if she’s willing to give up her best friend in order to pursue her dreams.  Will she have to stay in the place she’s so desperately wanted to escape in order to make the right decision and get what she really needs?

~~~

My Review

Lana finds it nerve wracking as she wonders why her guardian has called her in for an official meeting- especially as she will soon be leaving and going out into the real world, where she will not be under their watchful rules and expectations any longer.

She is given an ultimatum, so to speak- to follow her career dreams (with their help and money and recommendations) or to follow her heart and be with the one she loves.

She has to sign away her love. Sign in blood? She might as well be. As she would be signing her heart away if she does this.

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It has that classic feel but is immersed in the modern era. It is quite reminiscent of some of the classic novels with the heroine coming into her own. Our heroine in this novel is not like any other, though. She may have worn the corset, so to speak, at first. And it may have taken her quite a long time to learn how to breathe, but she really jumps off the pages right away and into your heart and mind.

classic girl

I found myself putting off other books so I could get back to this one! (And that is saying something, as I read several books at a time including fast paced action and thrillers!)

classic

But this story has that special essence- something about it stays with you and you want to be immersed in the world of the engaging characters and plot. It has its own unique twist and the characters don’t fall neatly in any patterns or expectations. Favor ends up getting more choices than she bargained for and finds that freedom also comes along with other things, things that could be both good and bad.

classic heroine

I will not say anymore- just this- get the book now and see for yourself! It’s a delicious world to fall into!

Below are a few quotes that will give you a taste of the exciting world of these characters.

“Everything stopped. Nothing existed but him. When he saw me, his whole face lit up.”

“His face lit up, and my little experiment seemed doomed to fail before it even started.”

“The sheer drapes blew gently in the breeze. I walked straight onto the deck not stopping until the railing caught me. I stood on the verge of freedom; it swam with the ocean currents and sailed with the ships. Nothing stopped me from seeing all the possibilities of life. I believed Mr. Rushworth’s words; I made my own possibilities.

ocean waves

Want more? Read below for a sneak preview from the book and here’s how to win the prizes:

Our big launch week prize basket includes:   Journal with a cover inspired by Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (as is this novel), note cards with an orchid design (Favor’s favorite flower), a hard cover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (Ethan’s favorite book), and a cool pen (who doesn’t love cool pens?). CLICK HERE NOW TO ENTER!

Finding Favor is priced at just 99 cents as part of its special launch week sale. Pick up your copy on either Amazon US or Amazon UK now, and don’t forget to stop by and participate in the special release week contests.

Read an Excerpt from

Finding Favor by Lana Long

I woke early after not sleeping well. I threw on gray shorts and a black T-shirt, and put my hair in a ponytail. My eyes were only slightly puffy.

Thankfully the kitchen was the only room awake, and not even Brenda bothered me.

When I opened the greenhouse door, I stopped short. It was only seven but there she stood, by my work table—a place she’d never been—waiting for me with a malicious smile on her face, a metal garbage can at her feet.

“Hello, Favor,” Madison said. A chill traveled up my spine.

“Hey.”

“So yesterday was rather embarrassing for you.” She picked a piece of lint off her shirt. “I thought that would be enough, but after a restless night I decided it really wasn’t. My dad sent you a birthday card.”

Her eyes flashed and shone like emeralds. “I knew something needed to be done. And you know what that means.”

“Madison…”

She silenced me with a finger to her lips. “Now is not the time for groveling, Favor. That time has passed… if it ever existed.” She pulled a book of matches out of her pocket.

My heart sped up. She was going to burn down the greenhouse. I took a step toward the door. I didn’t need her knocking me over the head and leaving me in the burning building. She was sadistic, but I’d never thought of her as violent. With the manic look in her eyes and a matchbook in her hand, I discovered that I’d never before known true fear.

“Madison,” I said in a warning voice. “What are doing?”

“What am I doing? Favor, I know you’re slow, but c’mon. Even you aren’t that slow.”

“Madison, if you burn down the greenhouse your parents are going to be really, really mad. Murder is a capital crime.”

She laughed at me, her head thrown back and her fist clutched to her stomach. “That is hilarious. You think I would risk my future for you.” Her eyes went bright green and even crazier still.

“That’s it, you know?” She took a step toward me and I took a step back. “The attitude that everything is about you. Always about you.”

“Are you crazy?” I screeched. Not the best thing to say but she’d gotten me going. “Nothing is ever about me!”

“Really? Then why did my dad send you a birthday card when he didn’t send one to me?”

All hope of reasoning with her drained out of me. Mr. Brown had forgotten Madison’s birthday earlier in the year. I’d been too distracted by my own problems to make the connection.

“Madison, you have to know the birthday card had nothing to do with wishing me a happy birthday.”

“Oh, I know.” She waved her hand, making my stomach plunge as the matches waved, too. “I know about the contract. I found it in your desk.”

I tightly fisted my hands to stop my urge to throw her to the ground and take the matches.

She stretched her neck and smoothed her hair.

I stepped toward her.

She went perfectly still. “Now, now, Favor. If I were you, I would try not to piss me off anymore this summer, or I’ll tell my dad about your little crush on Ethan.”

Another thing she knew about me. I felt exposed.

“He’ll take away your money for college. And something tells me your precious internship is in this deal, too. But right now I’m feeling charitable, and really, angrier at my father. So, unless you do something to make me less charitable, your secrets are safe with me. But that doesn’t mean that I can let you get away with garnering even a little attention from dear, old Dad.”

I swallowed hard. “What do you plan to do?”

“Oh, I plan to burn these.” She held up the trash can and inside, stacked neatly on top of each other, were my journals.

“Madison…” I took a step towards her.

Uh-uh.” She twisted her body so the trash can was farther away from me. “Like I said, the time for groveling is over.”

“Madison, please.” Tears welled in my eyes. “You don’t understand. Those journals are all I have of my dad. They’re everything that’s important to me.”

“I know that,” she scoffed. “Why do you think I choose this method of retribution? You take away my dad’s attention, and I take away your dad’s attention. It seems fair.” Her tone turned sinister and she sounded crazier.

“How did you find them?”

“Oh, I have my ways. You’re not the only one with secrets.”

“Madison, I will do anything you want.”

She put the trash can down and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Stop saying my name!” She started out in a whisper and was screaming by the end.

I should’ve turned to run and save myself, but I couldn’t. Those journals meant everything to me.

“God.” She sighed in frustration. “Don’t say another word, okay?” She smiled at me. “I have a whole day planned so I’m going to get this over with. This is for the birthday card.”

She pulled a match out of the box.

I stared stunned, shaking my head. She struck the match, and I felt faint.

“But most of all, this is just fun.” She flung the match into the trash can and a flame shot up a few inches from the can. Even Madison jumped back.

Huh,” she said thoughtfully. “Shouldn’t have used so much lighter fluid.”

The flame jumped inside the trash can, but thankfully, stayed contained.

I gave Madison plenty of room as she left, not daring to take my eyes off of her. Once the door slammed shut, I grabbed the nearest water can.

Empty.

I tore through the greenhouse trying to find water. Finding a half-full can, I doused what was left of the fire, a plume of smoke rising and encircling my face. I coughed, waving at the quickly dissipating smoke.

***

Finding Favor is priced at just 99 cents as part of its special launch week sale. Pick up your copy on either Amazon US or Amazon UK now, and don’t forget to stop by and participate in the special release week contests.

Our big launch week prize basket includes:   Journal with a cover inspired by Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (as is this novel), note cards with an orchid design (Favor’s favorite flower), a hard cover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (Ethan’s favorite book), and a cool pen (who doesn’t love cool pens?). CLICK HERE NOW TO ENTER!

***

Why I Love Jane Austen

A Guest Post by Lana Long

I can sum it up in one word: escapism.  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy reading books that deal with hard-hitting issues—issues that are real and difficult—but for the most part watching one nightly newscast can provide enough reality to last a few weeks. When it’s late at night, the kids are sleeping, the dog is sleeping, the husband is sleeping, everything is real quiet and the day’s activities are slipping into memory, I want to spend my last waking minutes in a world that’s interesting, satisfying, and nice.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

The social propriety of Austen’s works fascinates me. All of Austen’s novels struggle with the hierarchy of society.  In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy fights his feelings for Elizabeth because she’s not quite up to his social standing. In Persuasion, Anne pines for her lost love because she allowed her family to convince her that Wentworth isn’t good enough. In Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby leaves Marianne when the risk of lost fortune becomes all too real. Willoughby is not a hero, and in the end Marianne comes to see that love doesn’t need to burn bright and hot to be real. Society tries to deflate these characters, tries to ruin their chances at happiness, but they fight through it and come out stronger, better off, and at peace. All except Willoughby, but that lout deserves what he gets.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

The physical world of Austen’s novels is like a mythical place to me after growing up in the 20th century western United States. In Austen’s world, people live in houses the size of apartment buildings. They travel by coach, horseback, or they walk. If they’re wealthy enough, they summer in the country, winter in London, and vacation or convalesce in Bath. Servants take care of the family (don’t insinuate to Mrs. Bennett that she can’t afford a cook), drive them from place to place, work the land, and take care of the estate. Quaint villages and abbeys sustain small communities. Without wealth, people become isolated in their communities due to the time and cost to travel from one place to another. The characters in Austen’s novels—affluent or not—find ways to traverse this world and allow the reader to glimpse the countryside, the city and everything in between at the dawn of the nineteenth century in England.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

In Austen’s novels, the family structure and the roles of men and women are so foreign but at the same time so simple. What would it be like to spend all day sewing, playing the piano, reading, drawing, or walking in the garden? At the same time the women find themselves helpless because they aren’t allowed to learn anything besides these activities. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor is powerless to find a way to care for her sisters and mother after her half-brother inherits her father’s estate and doesn’t care for his sisters as promised. Emma‘s friends, the Bates, live off kindness and a small living, because Miss Bates never married and her father is deceased. It’s not necessarily easier for the men. If you’re not the oldest son your choices are limited to clergy, military or another profession deemed acceptable by the gentry.  Still, these people fight against the rules of gender and birth order. They are funny, kind, caring… frustrating and irritating, but they are always likeable and I cheer their success and mourn their losses, even Emma. And most of all, there’s a happy ending; our heroines and their friends find love and peace, and their foes find discomfort and an unfulfilling future.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

So why did I choose Mansfield Park for an adaptation out of all the Austen works? First, it’s a great story. The story is of Fanny Price, a young girl, coming of age away from her immediate family, who is too poor to rear all of their offspring. Fanny is required to uphold expectations set upon her by her caregivers, her wealthy aunt and uncle, but she is never to be rewarded for living up to those expectations because her true parentage is lowly. She’s in love with a boy, her best friend, who’s falling in love with someone else and by all of society’s rules unattainable even if he was available. The story felt ripe for a modern Young Adult novel.

That is why I love Jane Austen.

Second, well, I hadn’t seen Mansfield Park retold. It would take your hands, my hands and twenty of our closest friends to count the number of times Pride and Prejudice has been adapted. I’m not complaining; I love it. Other Austen works need the opportunity to be discovered through modern retellings as well. As a teenager I read Emma because of the movie Clueless.  Jane Austen’s been gone for almost 200 years and we still read her novels and draw inspiration from them because they are truly great stories.

And that is why I love Jane Austen.

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Finding Favor is priced at just 99 cents as part of its special launch week sale. Pick up your copy on either Amazon US or Amazon UK now, and don’t forget to stop by and participate in the special release week contests.

Our big launch week prize basket includes:   Journal with a cover inspired by Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (as is this novel), note cards with an orchid design (Favor’s favorite flower), a hard cover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (Ethan’s favorite book), and a cool pen (who doesn’t love cool pens?). CLICK HERE NOW TO ENTER!

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About Lana Long

As a devoted fan of young adult novels herself, Lana Long is thrilled to be gracing the YA world with her first novel, Finding Favor. Many years of daydreaming and several writing classes and workshops have contributed to the development of Finding Favor as well as to her inevitable future books. Through her experiences at Lighthouse Writers in Denver, the Big Sur Writing Workshop in California, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference, she has learned an amazing amount about writing novels.

Although writing serves as a relaxing process, Lana is also grounded by her family, by her work as a church treasurer, and by volunteering at her kids’ elementary school.

She hopes that her books provide readers with the same entertainment she herself finds in YA novels. If you enjoy a good coming-of-age story featuring enthralling characters, check out Finding Favor and read more of Lana’s thoughts at www.lanalongbooks.com.

Click here to enter the Reviewer-only Rafflecopter giveaway to win cool prizes!

Please comment below on your favorite classics! What makes you fall in love with the story and the characters?

The Sound of Loneliness (Or Lunacy?) A Review

Sound of Loneliness

This book was quite a read. It was thought provoking and draws interesting parallels to real life.

starvingwriterI started reading it because I was drawn to the idea of a writer giving just about everything up to become  a published author, which is my goal. (Becoming published, that is…) The way he goes about it is quite different from the normal routes one might normally use. He sets out to practically starve himself in the hopes of dedicating himself to nothing but writing. Quite a premise for a novel.

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The topic that the book ended up delving into was very revealing (and somewhat questionable). The main character tried to come to terms with who he really is. And what he’s learned from his family. And if he is destined to repeat their mistakes. This makes you think about the “genes” you may have inherited from your family line. But also shows, in the end, that you don’t have to follow the pattern. You can break free out on your own.

But it takes a turn in a different direction when it focuses on the main character’s obsession with a young girl that borders on pedophilia. Not in a very good way. Not the horrors of The Lovely Bones, thankfully (I say thankfully, for the sake of the girl in the story, as The Lovely Bones is actually quite a powerful- though disturbing- read), or the twistedness of Lolita.

This actually describes our character almost to a ‘T’ : Psychology of the Pedophile

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Related: Must read for parents, caretakers, older siblings- how to keep your child safe

It also plays on the theme of “the grass is greener” elsewhere, quite a bit.  His loneliness takes him to many places and he is quite foolish in the way he deals with it at times.

Related: The Right Way to deal with feeling lonely and where it really comes from

The writer side of him seems to suffers from delusions of grandeur (grand, GRAND grandeur!). He tells people all about himself becoming a famous author but sadly, does not always put the work in to accomplish this. (Which may be some telling advice for would be writers out there, myself included, I would confess.) As NephGirl quotes, Dreams don’t work unless you do ~John C. Maxwell.

Related: Ways to start writing

But the main character goes quite overboard with his arrogance and how he views himself, which is a red flag of another color- (Read: Wizard of Oz- Now that’s a horse of a different color). horse

Arrogance is not the key concern as we discover what kind of person he really is.  He is one of those characters that is easy to hate.  He really has no major redeeming qualities and he does not change in any major or important ways.

Meaning of horse of a different color

Back to his writing- it is only until later in the novel that he meets someone who does not put up with the dramatics of his ideas about his writing.

greener (Where can you water your grass to succeed at what’s important to YOU?) Related: How to water the grass of your goals

Overall, I would recommend this book for those who want to see another side of one particular writer who thought he could not make it with his writing nor with making any good choices, but finally got around to see otherwise.

I was disappointed with how one of the main plot points was handled, because of the conclusion. Yes, he didn’t damage himself in the choices he made (too much). But it focused on that, I felt, at the expense of discovering what really was at stake and I don’t feel he really learned anything crucial from his journey. It takes him full circle, but is he really any the better for it?

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

Welcome to Novel Publicity’s first ever publishing house blog tour. Join us as three new titles from Perfect Edge–we’re calling them the Perfect Edge Trifecta–tour the blogosphere in a way that just can’t be ignored. And, hey, we’ve got prizes!

About the book: Manchester in 1991 is a town suffering under the weight of high unemployment and massive government budgetary deficits that is plunging the UK into a recession.

To Daniel Crabtree, a struggling writer, it is the backcloth to his first novel, one that will see him become a famous published author. Living off mostly water and flour, Daniel has embraced penury into his life under the mistaken belief that many young artists have: one needs to suffer for success in art. But Daniel is a terrible writer. In the three years since signing on the dole, of every morning chastising his Irish singing neighbour for waking him from his sleep, and scrounging food from his close friend Henry Soperton, Daniel Crabtree has produced one short story. His heart is bereft of words as much as his pockets are of money.

The Sound of Loneliness is a story of love, and how a poor starving man chasing a dream came to the understanding that amidst the clamour of life, the sound of loneliness is the most deafening of all.

Pick up your copy of this Literary/ Urban Life/ Black Comedy through Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Craig Wallwork lives in West Yorkshire, England. He is an artist, filmmaker and writer. His short stories have appeared in many publications in the US and the UK. He is the author of the short story collection Quintessence of Dust, and the novels To Die Upon a Kiss and The Sound of Loneliness. Craig is also the fiction editor at Menacing Hedge Magazine. Connect with Craig on his website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of The Sound of Loneliness, or an autographed copy of one of its tour mates, Stranger Will by Caleb J Ross or Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez. Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Perfect Edge Trifecta tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Perfect Edge Books was founded in late 2011 to unite authors whose books weren’t “obviously” commercial. Our books tend to sit in various genres all at once: literary fiction, satire, neo-noir, sci-fi, experimental prose. We believe that literary doesn’t have to mean difficult, and that difficult doesn’t just mean pointless. We prefer to cultivate a word-of-mouth approach to marketing, and keep production as simple as we can. Learn more at www.PerfectEdgeBooks.com.

Learn more about The Sound of Loneliness‘s tour mates HERE.


Worst Nightmares Coming True

Live Reactions as I read the rest of the Gone series by Michael Grant

Now Reading Fear: Book Five of the series

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Join me as I read and share your reactions!

Read my other Gone reviews. Read the Series Spotlight to to catch up and see which book to start with to join!

Caution- Proceed at your own risk- Spoilers may be ahead, but I kept it as vague as possible to not give away anything major!

This book definitely tones up the dial on the fear factor, so it is true to its name!

It is one of those books that I suspect, shows your worst fears realized. Which for this series, can be pretty daunting and downright horrifying!

The kids suspect that someone who cannot die (apparently) is on the way back and is looking for them.

The Healer, Lana, gets some inkling of the Darkness’s thoughts and knows that he is after Diana for her new connections to the dark side. How does Lana know this? She almost “hears” another characters’ voice- can the darkness sense Diana’s voice or fears because of her connection? Does this mean that the beloved Diana will go over to the Dark Side? (Pun most likely intended…?)

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Will Diana’s guilt and fear lead to her downfall? She feels horrible about what she has done and greatly struggles with giving into her dark side or fighting it. Can it be stopped or does she feel it’s too late?

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Penny= the queen of all fears=your worst nightmare! What’s even scarier is there is not a simple way to fight her- she can give  visions of your worst nightmare to a group of kids at once, so she can fight many people at a time.

evil girl worst nightmare2It feels so real, that it is hard to fight what you feel is happening to you, even though your head might say it is not real. She really knows how to get in your head, as she uses even what you enjoy against you, to the point of you not knowing what is really happening and doing damage to others or to yourself in the process.

worst nightmare

But this shows that even though people may fear you, they do not respect you or love you or like you in the slightest- which is a lesson that several characters might have to learn, as they let the thirst for more power and risk and danger overtake them…

Penny is not very smart though either, as she has lost her mind. She doesn’t think things through. Her hate rules everything. She wants to be in charge and uses the fear of others to get on top, so she can get back at them and express her hatred of being rejected all those times. calm hater

So this also is stemmed in fear on her end (of others, what they think of her, not being part of the group, being alone, we all have fears…) she wanted everyone to like her and wants to get back at Caine for rejecting her. She wants to get back at Lana now as well after their showdown. But if she kills the only one who can heal people, she might be signing her own death warrant in the process in this desert wasteland with no other way of getting help if everyone is your enemy (no one else to go to in the FAYZ, is there?).

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Talking about death warrants, one of them was not signed for a major character in the FAYZ after all. The consequences of this could be fatal for many of the survivors left in the FAYZ and could have some pretty far reaching consequences.

The deliciousness of the fear in this book is that anything can happen and you are shivering in anticipation (and horror) just thinking about all the things that could wrong with the new ways of life here under the barrier. Past decisions come back to haunt some of the characters and the newfound power in the FAYZ just hints of all the darkness that is coming and ever growing as life continues for the kids as they try to do what they can to survive.

The fear is not only growing on the inside of the FAYZ either.

I like how the outside world is being explored more in this book of the series. Before we only saw glimpses, now we are getting a story line that is being shown alongside of all the craziness of the FAYZ.  And if what is inside is somewhat “contained,” then just imagine what the outside is like in response to the creation of the barrier. This also leads to more tension and dials up the fear as well because of the choices of those on the outside and how it will affect the kids-  will those on the outside do whatever they can to help?  Or will they risk the lives of the  children stuck inside?

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To join me as I read the series (and possibly re-read the earlier books!) comment below and share where you are in the series or if you would like to start it! It’s always more fun to read together! I want to hear your reactions as you experience life in the FAYZ- so please do share below. And if you would like to post it on your blog- please link back to your blog in your comment! I would like to share some of your posts here in the Castle!

What scared you the most as you read? What power would you want to have in the FAYZ? Who would your allies and enemies be?