Romance Reviews

UNTANGLE MY HEART by Maria K. Alexander — Hot Jersey Author

untangleNext in this series of incredible romance authors from New Jersey, I’m pleased to present Maria K. Alexander, author of UNTANGLE MY HEART.

When Edward sweeps in to help Kate and her family design a new family restaurant, Kate is completely set against becoming involved with the dashing Brit again.  But their short fling is blooming into something more as Edward is drawn closer and closer to her.  This is despite Kate’s dark past: an abusive marriage that ended in tragedy.  Kate is afraid to risk her heart again, but Edward is determined to win her over.  Her strength and the warmth of her close family are things Edward is missing in his life, the history of his own cold, British upbringing leaving wanting for something more.  Will he be able to untangle her past and win her heart?

I fell in love not only with Alexander’s complex characters but with the family life she depicts in this heartfelt, sexy novel.  There is a subplot in which Kate is considering adopting an orphaned boy that really tugged at my heartstrings.  Both Kate and Edward are working through their pasts, and it was wonderful to watch them develop together, growing into one another.

Something that really set Alexander’s writing apart was the tension created by and underlying threat that ran through the book.  Kate is being stalked, and as her past catches up with her, both she and Edward will need to fight against it.

Untangle My Heart builds to a gripping, satisfying conclusion.  Don’t miss this powerful love story!

Maria K. Alexander’s website: https://mariakalexander.wordpress.com/books/

Michelle Joyce Bond

Romance Reviews

THE RIGHT CHORD by RoseAnn DeFranco — Hot Jersey Author

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Image from goodreads.com

I’m beginning a new series of posts where I’ll be featuring some incredible romance authors from New Jersey, and I’m pleased to start with RoseAnn DeFranco whose latest title, THE RIGHT CHORD, kept me up late last night. (Super hot–had to finish!!)

DeFranco’s voice immediately leaps off the page.  She loves to stick her characters into humorous situations as well as push them to their limits, presenting them with their greatest dreams and worst fears.

Kit, a talented musician-turned-professor, returns to her home town after falling short of fame in the music industry.  Vince, her ex-boyfriend and super hot handyman, hopes to make a new life for himself and his daughter after his divorce.  Kit is determined to avoid the man who once broke her heart, but when Vince turns out to be her next door neighbor, avoiding him becomes impossible.  In fact, Vince cannot resist her, his rhythm matching hers beat for beat–stroke for stroke in music, in life, and in love.

I read this book first but will definitely go back to pick up the other books in the Audubon Springs Series.   There are so many parts to THE RIGHT CHORD that are laugh out loud enjoyable that I am struggling now not to mention in this post because I don’t want to give them away.  Check out the opening and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 🙂

Here’s a link to her site and her books: http://radefranco.com/books/

Michelle Joyce Bond

Stick Figures

Sudden Obsession With Writer Syndrome

imageHave you ever read a book by an author that immediately made you want to read everything he or she had ever written?  If so, who is your obsession?  Tell me about it below!

Rainbow Rowell is a literary goddess.  I must possess all that she has written, take it in through my eye sockets, and absorb it into my imperfect being.  Alright, maybe that’s a teensy bit over the top, but in all seriousness, her writing makes something inside me sing. 🙂

So far, I’ve read Fangirl and Eleanor & Park.  They were both incredibly humorous and smart with walk-off-the-page characters and quirky details that brought everything to life.  Landline is next, but I’m spacing it with other books because I’m afraid I’ll read through everything she’s written without grounding myself in other books so that I can appreciate hers properly.  Must…gain…control.

Read on, book junkies!

Michelle Joyce Bond

 

YA Romance Reviews

Read Like a Writer: THROUGH TO YOU by Emily Hainsworth

Through to You HC_FinalIf you’re looking for a writer whose work typifies the phrase, “Leave space for the reader to inhabit,” Hainsworth is your girl.

It’s difficult for me to allow myself the luxury of reading for long, long stretches, but once I slipped into this book, it was difficult to escape.  The prose of this YA novel is so eloquently written, each detail so carefully selected as to–at times–be almost sparse, that I glided through it in just a few hours.  Everything from the protagonist’s voice to the description of the setting feels authentic, giving the reader just enough detail to enjoy, picture, and relate to what occurs in a given scene–allowing them plenty of latitude to fill in pieces for themselves.  It’s fitting that, in this novel which plays with the concept of moving through a portal to another reality, Hainsworth has left the perfect about of space for the reader to inhabit.  She draws us into her world by making room for us.

The story question, deceptively simple, raises all kinds of problems for Camden PIke: What if he were able to see his dead girlfriend, still alive in an alternate reality?  The setting, despite Camden’s ability to move between realities, is closed and simple, and the book’s cast of characters–limited.  By doing this, Hainsworth funnels the reader’s attention more toward the internal story–Cam’s struggle as he compares what he thought he knew about his girlfriend’s basic nature to her possessive, reckless behavior under the conditions of this alternate universe.  This is while Cam, at the same time, confronts another version of his own story where a positive attitude and different choices lead to greater success.  The blame for how his life turned out in his own reality rests squarely on his shoulders…with one small caveat.  Cam will learn that the people who enter his life–and those he makes an effort to keep close to him–ultimately help to make him a different person.

Hainsworth is one of those authors who makes it look easy but whose work, upon close examination, can be appreciated down tot he sentence level for exactly how much effort was put into it.  And this is only her first novel.  An immediate fan–I can’t wait to plunge into her next book.

Michelle Joyce Bond

 

 

Stick Figures

Delete Your Darlings…Or Save Them in Another Document Because They’re Really Annoying

imageYou may already be familiar with the Faulkner quote: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings,” but I bet you seldom find yourself shouting “Kill!” into the open book before you.  Your sudden ire is unfortunate since you picked this book to help you relax and get away from your own crazy writing for a few hours.  Overall, the book isn’t bad.  It’s just…this scene.

You read on, growing more and more confused because—over the course of this lovely scene where two characters are sharing a pizza or whatever—nothing is happening. Sure, there’s dialogue and the author might argue some mild character development, but…no.  The whole thing is nothing more than an excuse for two people to make eyes at each other and joke about cheese.

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t count as a “scene” because there is no goal, conflict, or disaster…but it’s not a “sequel” either.  A sequel is the aftermath of a scene and includes a reaction, dilemma, and decision.  None of that exists in happy-yummy-pizza world.  The only reason these pages haven’t gone up in a glorious blaze is because the author can’t let them go.  Then again, maybe the author isn’t aware of his or her own shortcomings.

Three things can help with this:

  1. reading a lot of good books on the craft of writing
  2. reading a lot of well-written books that exhibit these features (and books that fail to)
  3. critique, revise, rinse, repeat

If you are a writer working on a manuscript everyday, you are probably in love with it.  That said, you need to accept that the book you’re writing may never meet with more than a few sets of eyes.  But even if your book baby never “makes it,” tangling with the words can turn that project into a really good learning experience—a stepping stone on the road to possible success with a future book.  This only works, however, if your process improves.

You can learn a lot from looking at a published book, but keep in mind, you are looking at a product.   One cannot see the hours of planning, revision, reimagining, and re-revision the author went through to “finish” that product.  That’s why we need the three-punch combo listed above.  Read, apply, work toward mastery.

For most writers, the longest and most difficult part of the process is revision.  Be your own worst enemy first—tear your writing to pieces and make a better monster out of what’s left. Then, get others to go through it with their own sharp eyes.  Please, not your mom.  She would love that pizza scene.

Writers, do you have a particular “darling” you had a hard time deleting? I’d love to hear about it!

Readers, is there a particular not-scene in a book you’ve read recently that makes you want to scream?  Tell all below!

Michelle Joyce Bond

Uncategorized

Finish Line Mirage: When Will It End?

imageAbout once every two months, I’m like: “Oh yeah, this is TOTALLY the last revision.  I’m done, damn it.  Done!”  Then I’ll close in on the end and shake my head. “No, you tiny fool.  You need to do this again.”  They’ll be adjustments in every scene for language and detail.  I’ll find weak dialogue and odd metaphors.  It’s nothing global.  I’m sculpting, and I can’t stop.  I’ve gone through this 135,000 word book at least twenty times–minimum.  It’s been almost two years.  I was supposed to be finished in June…then September.  Now, I’m hoping to finally say “done” by the new year; that is, with the manuscript.  If I’m lucky enough to attract the attention of an agent, I’m more than happy to go back to work, but I’ve got to cut myself off sometime. 🙂

Writers, how many times do you revise a book before saying, “Enough!”

Michelle Joyce Bond