Monday, December 30, 2013

Rest Not in Peace

I received a copy of REST NOT IN PEACE by Mel Starr, from Lion Hudson via Kregel.  I was thrilled with this – literally tickled pink – because I love this series, the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon.  I have a thing for mysteries and history, and this has both.  The main character is Master Hugh, who works as a surgeon and bailiff in a medieval village.  You’ve probably guessed this from my “mystery” hint, but he solves mysteries. 

Each mystery is packed with danger, a dash of romance, and a heaping pile of history.  The books really transport you through time.  You can practically smell the manure in the streets.  Okay, the book isn’t disgusting, but Mel Starr goes into great detail to place you with the characters.  In this, the sixth book about Master Hugh, his friend, Sir Henry Burley, is found dead and Master Hugh must determine the killer.  Unlike your run-of-the-mill mystery book, in this one, Sir Henry’s wife, now a widow, thinks Master Hugh did it.  I stayed on the edge of my seat throughout the entire novel.

I highly recommend this to mystery and historical fiction fans.  You’ll fall in love with Master Hugh like I did.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

An Interview...with a Reporter.

I would like to introduce you to Mary Rose.  In the past, I've interviewed authors of novels and short stories.  Now, I'd like to help you get to know a different type of writer...a reporter!

Kissed by Literature: Tell us about your writing. 

Mary Rose: I am more of a reporter. I enjoy telling others' stories, describing the scenes and finding the emotions in all situations. I am not a nosey, in your face reporter though. Being as nice as I was, I got the stories and made friends along the way. 

 KBL: How long have you considered yourself a writer? 

MR:  I have been a writer for over a decade, closer to 15 years now, I think. I started at a small paper in Herkimer County, went to Rome and covered Woodstock '99 (best week ever!) and was asked to interview Hilary Cinton in a private setting (being respectful of my sources got me that gig) and then headed to western NY, covered 9/11 from the Rochester area and became a freelancer when I moved back to CNY. I am currently the Mary in the Middle columnist for In Good Health, a local publication distributed locally in doctor's offices, hospitals, etc. I also write other stories for In Good Health as well as a few other print and online publications. 

KBL:  What’s your earliest writing memory?

MR:  In school, creative papers were the worst actually. I was always told to expand more, describe the scene, feel the mood. I was annoyed then but now that is something I would tell others.

KBL:  What’s your favorite part of writing?

MR: Sitting in front of the computer and letting the words flow. The hardest part is when the words come to be but nothing to write them on or no place to put it all together. Like when I am in the shower.

KBL:  Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

MR: The world is filled with people who think they are writers, who want to be, and who have this image of sitting around in their bathrobes all day and getting paid for it. If you are serious, educate yourself. Take courses at the local college. Go to trainings or workshops to see what other writers are doing. Learn all that you can to make yourself stand out as a serious writer and not someone who has a keyboard and an internet connection.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley

I received a copy of DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY by Katherine Reay, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  This book absolutely fascinated me.  It is told in letterform from Samantha to her benefactor, who she calls Mr. Knightley.  You don’t normally find letterform in novels, but I always eat them up when I do.  I can relate to them well, since I’ve had pen pals around the world since I was eleven-years-old, and I’ve kept a diary since I was much younger than that.  Many of the comments in the letters, such as “I forgot to mail this so I’ll write more” (not a direct quote, but it was very similar to that.  I can’t find the correct page now) reminded me so much of those run-on letters to my friends.

Samantha is a fascinating young woman who I’m sure many readers will be able to connect with.  She loves literature – think Austen – and she’s driven toward college and her career.  I found it cool that she would at times quote her favorite authors.  While I don’t currently do that, it would be a fun pastime to strive for. 

I should add that the entire book does not consist of letters.  You also get a glimpse of Sam’s happy ending as she arrives in New York.  The book ended with a happy ending.  I recommend this for anyone who loves the classics, and a feel-good novel for the holidays.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

December Book Signing

Good evening, one and all.  I have exciting news!  Well, at least it’s exciting for me.  Another book signing is fast approaching – this Saturday, December 21st, to be precise.  The anthology, 13 HAUNTING TALES, is a collection of ghost stories.  I invited fellow contributor, Jeremy Mortis, to help me spread the word. 
Kissed by Literature: What are your latest writing endeavors?
Jeremy Mortis: Well, my latest writing endeavor is a short story I wrote called The Queen of Cobwebs, which I hope will be published soon in the Steampunk collection Jordan is putting together. Also, I am currently working on a ghost story called The Regal. It’s about a haunted theater in Rome, NY. Hopefully, this story will be published soon as well.
KBL: How do you think the first book signing for 13 HAUNTING TALES went?
JM: The first book signing went fantastic; the staff at the Dunham Library were so friendly and helpful. Hopefully I will get the chance to work with them again.
KBL: What are your feelings concerning the upcoming book signing?
JM: The next book signing is at the Utica Public Library on Saturday December 21st from ten to two. I’m very excited about this one because several people have told me that they are coming to this one. I can’t wait to meet all of them.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent of Murder

I received a copy of THE ADVENT OF MURDER by Martha Ockley, from Lion Fiction via Kregel.  It is a Faith Morgan Mystery, my first Faith Morgan mystery to be exact, and not my last.  I’ll be looking for the first book in the series, THE RELUCTANT DETECTIVE.

In this second book, Faith Morgan becomes involved in the appearance of a body in the Tiver Itchen.  I read many mysteries, and this one struck me as something different.  For one thing, there is a church connection, which you don’t usually find in mysteries – at least not the mysteries I usually read.  On that same note, Faith is the vicar of Little Worthy.  Normally in mystery novels, there is a detective and a load of unsavory characters, with tons of swearing and sexual content.  Yes, Faith Morgan does have a love interest (the police investigator, no less), but the book felt refreshing to read, and I would feel comfortable allowing a young adult to have a go at it. 

My only fault with the book was not having read the first one, so I was confused about backstory and characters, but it didn’t hold me back from enjoying it.  Also, her little village and church are steeped in history – I can’t get enough of history!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Amish Miracle

I received a copy of AN AMISH MIRACLE, which is a collection of three novellas, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  I was thrilled at the chance to review it, and ordered it to do with as I’ve done with past Amish books: read, enjoy, and pass on to my mother.  Every summer, we spend a week in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, visiting Amish shops and enjoying the peaceful, country life.  Books like this one bring back those happy memories. 

My mother and I have also read AN AMISH LOVE, part of the same novella series, and enjoyed that one as well, so we were doubly pleased with this one.

The first novella, Always in my Heart by Mary Ellis, involves Hope Bowman and her troubled past.  As a teenager, she was raped, and her father forced her to give up the baby to an adoption agency.  She is now unable to have a son, and feels it is because she surrendered her first one to the state.  Hope is tormented by that deed, but is given a chance for redemption when her long lost son runs away from his foster family to meet her.  Yes, the story was sweet, and I had tears in my eyes by the end, but overall, it felt very farfetched. 

Ruth Reid wrote the second novella, ALWAYS HIS PROVIDENCE.  It also felt far-fetched, but left me with a contented smile.  Rosa, a widower from the first novella, reappears as her back taxes catch up with her and she faces losing her farm.  She makes a living off selling eggs, but the new neighbor’s dogs start attacking her chickens.  An old friend of hers who rents her barn comes to her rescue, and they sweetly fall in love.

The final story is ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL by Beth Wiseman.  Another reoccurring character, Becky, struggles with her weight.  Since she is overweight, she struggles with her self-worth and starts dieting.  Her lifelong best friend loves her as she is, as does a handsome young Amish man, but she strives to lose pounds.  I found this novella inspiring, and will recommend it to my friends who also struggle with their weights.