My Favorite Book

So if you’ve visited my Favorites page you probably already know what my favorite book is, but I just reread it, and I can’t stop thinking about it so I thought I’d write another post about it.

It is of course The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Chances are you’ve already read my review so I’m not going to repeat myself here. I just want to talk a little bit about what makes it my favorite book over all the other books I’ve read so far, and why I don’t think I’ll find a book to top it.

Over the years I’ve read a lot of great books, books that I love, and books that I had to push myself to get through. But never have I read a book that has drawn me in so thoroughly as this one did. I felt as if I were right there in Russia, experiencing everything Alexander and Tatiana were. I could feel their love, their pain, their incredible happiness. I could feel everything so deeply that the book has come alive for me.

I don’t know how it could possibly be that Tatiana and Alexander aren’t out there somewhere living out their love for each other.

You know how when you read a great book, you know you’re going to have to reread it, but you know you have to wait awhile to experience it again? That’s how it is for me. I have to wait in between readings so that when I go back, it’s like I’m reading it for the first time. With this book, I could have read it over again the minute I finished. And I would have too except I had the next book Tatiana and Alexander in the series awaiting my attention.

I just finished my second reading of this book which I have wanted to read again for over a year a couple of days ago, and I want to reread it again. But again I want to read the other two books just a little bit more. I have to get their whole story in before I start again. Although I could live with just this one book if I had to.

This is a book that is so beautifully written, I never ever want to put it down.

Now I want to hear from you, my lovely readers. Do you have a book that means as much to you as The Bronze Horseman means to me? Please tell me because the best book recommendations are made by those who feel so strongly about a book that they just can’t contain themselves.

The Winter Rose Giveaway

The Winter Rose by Jennifer DonnellyIf you’ve visited my favorite books page, you will know that The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is one of my favorite books of all time. I absolutely love it and try to get everyone I meet to read it. So I thought I’d get you to read it too!

The Winter Rose follows India, a new doctor in late Victorian London, as she finds herself working in a poor hospital while trying to navigate the political arena with her fiancé Freddie. When she meets infamous mob boss Sid Malone, India creates a new enemy for herself, but is he really her enemy? Life always seems to throw things at India, and it is her courage and strong nature which get her through.

To read more about the book, check out my review here: The Winter Rose Book Review

Now for the giveaway! I love this book so much that I want to give one lucky reader the opportunity to own and read this wonderful book. All you have to do is follow the link below and enter your name and email address. You will receive an email to confirm your entry. This is to make sure that you have entered a valid email address. Once you confirm, you will be entered into the giveaway.

Once you enter, you are given a unique URL which you can share with your friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, email, and more. Each person who enters the contest through your unique URL will give you an additional 5 entries into the giveaway.

The contest ends at 11:59 PM CST on May 14, 2012. The contest winner will be randomly selected and receive an email saying he or she has won. Once the winner is confirmed, I will release the name of the winner via this blog, Twitter, Facebook, and email.

Good luck!

Click here to enter the giveaway:

Drop Dead Healthy

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. JacobsDrop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs was a very interesting read. This book follows A.J. over two years as he works to become the healthiest man in the world. Each chapter focuses on a different body part. The stomach, as you can imagine, shows up quite a few times.

He explores pretty much every health trend out there from a juice cleanse to the caveman workout. He tries the extremes, giving equal emphasis to each without discrimination. His writing is engaging and witty. I often found myself laughing out loud, especially when he was taking a pole dancing class.

Each chapter was devoted to making that organ the healthiest he could. It was interesting to learn more about how the human body functions. I even changed a few of my habits after reading this book.

There were a few chapters I could have done without. I learned a little bit more about A.J. than I was anticipating or wanting to know. Other than that, I really enjoyed reading this.

My friend recommended this author a while back, but I haven’t gotten a chance to read anything by him until now. I was lucky enough to receive an advance reader’s copy to read and review, and I’m certainly glad I did!

Dirty Little Reading Secrets

The other day, I saw a post where someone shared some of her dirty little reading secrets, and I thought it was a great idea. I have about a million dirty little reading secrets. I thought I’d share a few with you today.

There were many school assigned books I didn’t finish and have no desire to ever finish. I never finished Walden or Paradise Lost. If a piece of writing didn’t do anything for me, or I had a lot of other work I had to finish first, I’d skim it or read a summary.

I don’t read any books by Nicholas Sparks anymore because someone always dies. I just can’t handle it these days. It’s become something he’s known for, and I don’t always feel like reading a sad book. Now if you can tell me one of his books remains death free, I will be happy to read it.

I have the inability to go to the library to return books and not come out with a whole stack of new books. It’s actually really bad. I try to “cleanse” myself of library books because I have stacks of them sitting around the house, but I always come back with more….

I didn’t like Sense and Sensibility or Lord of the Flies for that matter. Those were two of my least favorite books I had to read. I just didn’t understand the appeal. I tried reading Sense and Sensibility again, but it just didn’t work out.

I really don’t understand what all the hype about Twilight is all about. Please do not hate on me all you Twilight fans. But I just don’t get the appeal of a sparkly vampire who stares at someone while she sleeps. It’s just creepy. I have read the first book which I thought was boring until pretty much the end. I just don’t get it.

I hate reading a book only to find out that it’s part of a series and not the first one. This is a pretty big pet peeve of mine and one I should be more conscious of. It’s happened too many times.

I’ve stopped reading books because I think the author has completely ruined the characters. The most notable is Voyager where Diana Gabaldon completely ruined Jamie for me. And I LOVED Jamie and didn’t think it was possible for him to be ruined. I stand corrected. I couldn’t finish that book because I thought he did something so out of character that I couldn’t handle it.

It annoys me when covers of books don’t match the characters’ descriptions. I read a book recently where the male lead had a mustache. His mustache was mentioned often enough in the book that the cover artist had to have picked up on it. The man on the cover most definitely did not have a mustache.

So those are a few of my dirty little reading secrets. Do you have any of your own? I encourage you to share them with us!

A Tailor-Made Bride

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen WitemeyerA Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer was a very cute read. Hannah Richards is a dressmaker and has just been given her own shop in Texas from a wealthy patron. She travels to Texas to open her shop, hoping to attract a lot of business with her well-tailored and flattering clothes. What she didn’t expect was J.T. Tucker.

J.T. owns the livery across the street from Hannah’s store and wants as little to do with her as possible. Not only did she now occupy the store he has been trying to buy for years, but she’s a dressmaker. She makes clothes to stroke the vanities of women. Unfortunately for J.T. he is constantly finding himself around her and is slowly discovering that she might be different than she thought she was.

This was a very cute book with strong characters. It focuses a lot on determination and overcoming prejudices. Hannah is a lovely character who works hard and puts her trust in God. J.T. starts off incredibly bitter, but his struggle to stay from Hannah was fun to read. This was a very fast read, and I found myself drawn into the story, wanting to read until the end. I got this in ebook form and read it while working out, but found myself at home reading it too just because I wanted to know what would happen next! This book was well-written, and the characters were well-formed. This is definitely a fun and great read!

The Importance of Letting Your Writing Marinate

Okay so you are probably thinking that I’ve gone a little crazy right? I mean how are you supposed to let your writing marinate? Just let me take a moment to explain. It will all make sense I promise!

I guess I should start off by saying that the marinating usually comes after you’ve completed a story, although it can be useful in moments of hard cord writer’s block.

So you have just finished writing a story! It could be short, novella length, or even a nice novel. The first thing you want to do is start editing, right?


You need to let your writing marinate. And by marinate, you need to close that document or that notebook and forget about it. Completely. Don’t even think about going back and reading it. You need to let it sit for a good long while. Now the time differs for everyone and depends on the length of the story. Shorter pieces don’t need to marinate for as long as novels do.

The reason this is so important is you need to edit with fresh eyes. Not with the brain who has become so immersed in your characters and their world. Letting it sit allows you to be able to look at it with a critical eye. You’ve pulled yourself back, and now you are able to go back and make changes you would have resisted making had you gone back right away.

You need that time also to decompress and give your mind a chance to work on something else. You’ve finished something, and now you can start something new.

Your story has finished marinating when you feel you can go back and look at it with a critical eye. It is also important that you don’t wait too long. If you do, you’re going to lose the drive to go back at all. It’s something I’ve really struggled with. Editing is a daunting task but so very necessary.

So what do you other writers think? Do you let your stories marinate?

Swept Off Her Feet

Swept Off Her Feet by Hester BrowneSwept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne told the enchanted tale of Evie Nicholson is head over heels in love with all things of the past. Evie is an antiques appraiser who spends more time imagining the stories surrounding the antique items than finding the monetary value in them much to the chagrin of her boss.

Evie comes from a family which believes that anything older than a few years should be thrown away. Evie feels the stark difference between her family’s extremely organized lives and homes. When her sister Alice offers her the opportunity to appraise an old Scottish castle called Kettlesheer rumored to be filled with incredible antiques, Evie jumps at the chance. It also helps that Alice’s boyfriend and the man Evie has a bit of a crush on will be accompanying her up in preparation for the annual ball thrown each year at Kettlesheer.

Upon arrival, Evie finds herself in love with the house and the pieces it contains. She is in paradise, imagining herself regally descending the staircase for a ball or being escorted by a handsome man. One thing she’s not so sure about is Robert McAndrew, the current heir to the castle who wants nothing more than to get rid of all the “junk” the castle contains.

I loved this book! It was playful and imaginative. Evie was comical and loveable and someone I could easily relate to. I mean what girl who’s read Pride and Prejudice or seen Downton Abbey hasn’t had a few fantasies as the female lead? I know I have. The supporting characters were great with the exception of Ingrid and Shelia whom I kept mixing up.

I liked Robert even if I didn’t always know what he was thinking or his motives. There were a lot of things I thought clarification would have greatly helped move the story along. But overall, I really enjoyed reading it. It’s a very hard book to put down!

Paper Roses

Paper Roses by Amanda CabotPaper Roses by Amanda Cabot begins with Sarah Dobbs journeying from Philadelphia to San Antonio with her little sister Thea to marry Austin Canfield, the man who has wooed her with his prosaic letters. She not only accepted his offer of marriage because of the beautiful words he wrote her but because she needed to escape the gossip and recrimination she has faced back East.

When Austin’s brother, Clay is the one to greet her, Sarah knows that something is not right. And it isn’t because Austin is dead. Sarah knows she can’t go back East. Not after what happened. She has to find a way to survive in this new town and provide a home for her sister.

Clay doesn’t know what to do with Sarah. He never wanted her or her sister to come in the first place. Clay is stuck working his father’s ranch, something he can’t wait to leave behind. But he can’t do that until he has gotten revenge for his brother’s murder.

This was a book about the importance of forgiveness. Both Sarah and Clay carry around a deep hurt and have turned that into anger at those who have caused them this pain. In doing so, they are not only hurting themselves but preventing anything from happening between them.

Both Sarah and Clay were very strong people with real problems. They had to deal with a lot and did it well. Their struggles were real and their approach was incredibly human. It took time and support to help them heal their wounds. This book had mystery and love and adventure. The supporting characters were well developed and added greatly to the story. I loved the faith woven throughout this book. It had the perfect presence without being too overwhelming. This was a beautiful story and one I heartily recommend.

Pride and Prejudice Wordle

So I’ve just discovered a great website that creates word clouds out of your writing. It’s called Wordle. Basically what it does is make the words used the most the largest. It was interesting to see which words I use a little too often and which words I didn’t use as much as I thought I did. I use the word “just” and “know” and “eyes” the most after my characters’ names. So after spending a little too much time, I thought it would be fun to put in the text of Pride and Prejudice to see what words Jane Austen used the most. This is what I got!Pride and Prejudice Wordle


Obviously Elizabeth and Mr play a huge role. I like that “must” and “much” were big too.

So I encourage you to check this site out and let me know what words you use the most!

Character Study – Nollie

So my latest writing adventure contains one of my absolute most favorite character. Her name is Nollie (short for Magnolia), and she is one of the happiest characters I have ever created. Now that might seem strange that I have to say she is one of the happiest characters I’ve created, but I have a whole slew of characters that have a lot going wrong in their lives. It is very rare that I can start a story with a character in a happy spot. I have stories about jilted brides, dead husbands, really bad breakups, and other sad, tragic things.

Nollie doesn’t start off already weary but bubbly and happy. She is such a breath of fresh air after Ronnie. I felt terrible for Ronnie. I stuck her with a terrible breakup practically on page one and just kept throwing crappy situations her way. She got a happy ending finally, but it was rough going pretty much the whole time. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to write these characters who are so tortured, but I seem to always be drawn to them.

This is why I’m so excited to be writing Nollie’s story. Let me tell you a little bit about Nollie. She’s a redhead, and she rambles. I can not begin to tell you how fun it is to let her ramble, especially when she finds herself in an uncomfortable situation. She loves to dance, and she’s amazing fun to be around. She’s also got a great sense of humor. She does have the unfortunate tendency to read way more into a situation then is there which often gets her into trouble. She also falls into love a little too easily. She’s pretty outgoing but extremely protective of her photography. She has a huge fear of rejection, and an even larger fear of failure. She was also unfortunate to end up with the name Magnolia Flower.

What’s so great about Nollie is how easy she is to write. I don’t have to struggle to put her to paper. She just flows right onto the page with very little effort. It’s so nice! Especially after I’ve spent hours trying to get other stubborn characters to cooperate.

Here’s a little taste of Nollie as she talks–well rambles really–about her rambling:

“Sorry. I’m completely rambling. It happens sometimes. I’ve really been trying to work on it. I just get so carried away, and the words just seem to keep pouring out. And there I go again. I’m going to shut up now.” She placed a hand over her mouth as if to keep any more words from tumbling out as her face reddened almost to the shade of her hair.

So that’s a bit of Nollie. I know that was only a little glimpse, but what do you think? Do you have any characters that you just love writing?

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