Thursday, February 29, 2024

February Book Reviews #bookreview #books #amreading #readingcommunity #PainterBrothers #militaryaction #historialfiction @MarciaMeara @Linneatanner @gmplano @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! How is February already over? It feels like 2024 is on hyperdrive. I'm happy I've been able to continue to read and write this month, and I've read some great books as well. They are all part of series I started in previous years and just haven't been able to get back to, but I'm thrilled that I chose to revisit them this month.

by Marcia Meara

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Romantic Suspense

Pages: 518 pages


In Book 3 of her popular Riverbend series, Marcia Meara, author of Wake-Robin Ridge, A Boy Named Rabbit,and Harbinger, takes another look at the lives of the Painter brothers—Jackson, Forrest, and Hunter. While Hunter is home again and on the mend, the same isn’t true for his oldest brother. Jackson’s battle has just begun.

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don't leave your brother stranded in that darkest place."
~Hunter Painter~

The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancĂ©e is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.

My Review: 

I am so happy I came back to this family. I fell in love with Hunter Painter in Finding Hunter, but it ended in a tragedy that broke my heart. So, it took me a bit to come back to this series, and it was absolutely worth coming back to.

The story picks up right where the last one left off. Jackson is in a coma with Hunter and Forrest believing his drunkenness had finally severed all that was good about him. Luckily, they were wrong on all accounts. As Jackson awakens, they learn the truth about his accident and vow to be by his side as he recovers. With his memory loss and his shattered spirit, Jackson leans on his brothers for strength. But he doesn't find a way forward until he meets Mel at his group counseling.

Forrest struggles to be the best brother to both his siblings. He fights his infatuation with Hunter's wife and second guesses every decision he makes when it comes to helping Jackson. It isn't until he begins leaning on Bailey, his brother's caregiver coordinator, that the world starts making sense.

Add to that a vengeful ex-boyfriend of Jackson's deceased ex-girlfriend, and all hell breaks loose!

This story is so perfectly written! The author is blessed with the ability to dig deep into each character's pain, insecurities, trauma, and recovery, and she does it in such a realistic way. These brothers are not perfect, but they have so much heart, and I love each of them exactly as they are.

This is such an amazing series, and I truly recommend that everyone read it. I now want to read her spinoff series, The Emissary. I've also heard the author is writing a book four, and I will read it as soon as it is written. :-)

by Linnea Tanner

Genre: Historical Fiction, Greek & Roman Myth & Legends

Pages: 332 pages


A Celtic warrior princess accused of treason for aiding her enemy lover must win back her father’s love and trust

In the rich and vibrant tale, Author Linnea Tanner continues the story of Catrin and Marcellus that began with the awarding-winning novel APOLLO’S RAVEN in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings Series. Book 2: DAGGER’S DESTINY sweeps you into an epic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia.

War looms over 24 AD Britannia where rival tribal rulers fight each other for power and the Romans threaten to invade to settle their political differences. King Amren accuses his daughter, Catrin, of treason for aiding the Roman enemy and her lover, Marcellus. The ultimate punishment is death unless she can redeem herself. She must prove loyalty to her father by forsaking Marcellus and defending their kingdom—even to the death. Forged into a warrior, she must overcome tribulations and make the right decisions on her quest to break the curse that foretells her banished half-brother and the Roman Empire will destroy their kingdom.

Yet, when Catrin again reunites with Marcellus, she is torn between her love for him and duty to King Amren. She must ultimately face her greatest challenger who could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.

Will Catrin finally break the ancient prophecy that looms over her kingdom? Will she abandon her forbidden love for Marcellus to win back her father’s trust and love? Can King Amren balance his brutality to maintain power with the love he feels for Catrin?

My Review:

It has been a while since I read Apollo's Raven (book 1), but I was swept right back into this world with the first chapter. What an amazing story! There wasn't a moment of inaction throughout the whole book. Every scene added to the ultimate battle, and what a battle it was!

King Amren's daughter, Catrin, fell in love with a foreigner, Marcellus, in book 1. She has mystical powers and is able to merge with ravens to see what they see and to foresee the future. King Amren's outcast son, Marrock, is hellbent on avenging his mother's death, killing his father, and becoming king. King Amren is obsessed with breaking the curse set upon him by Marrock's mother, but nothing he (or Catrin) does prevents the inevitable from happening.

This story is brilliantly written. Each scene is described so vividly that you can see it play out in your mind. And the characters have so much depth to them. The emotional angst of some and the evil cunningness of others is expertly created!

This story has Greek/Roman tragedy written all over it, and I loved every minute of it. There are still two more books in the series, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. If you are looking for happily-ever-after, this is not it (lol!), but if you want a story where you are going to be sucked into and held captive until the end, then you will love this book!

by Gwen M Plano

Genre: Military Action Fiction

Pages: 314 pages


The Culmination, a new beginning is the third book in The Contract thriller series. After an assassination attempt on an Air Force base in northern California, tensions mount. Heads of state meet to craft a denuclearization agreement. The meetings between these nuclear powers take a murderous turn. A nefarious conspiracy re-emerges and leads the characters into the heart of the Middle East, where they encounter the unexpected and find a reason for hope.

My Review:

This book had me nibbling my nails, and I haven't bitten them in years! It's been a while since I read the first two books in this series, but I fell right back into the story rather quickly because the author did such a great job and reconnecting the reader to the dire circumstances at the end of the second book.

Tensions ran high throughout the whole book with one crisis after another having to be dealt with, but moments of love and friendship were sprinkled in between to give a perfect balance to all the chaos. The evil powers in the world were working together for world domination. Unbeknownst to them, a separate group of world leaders were envisioning a world where peace was the norm. It all comes to a head at the end, and what an ending it was!

Admiral and Julie were my favorites, probably because they were there from the beginning of the series. The love story between the presidents (no spoilers) felt a bit unrealistic but I understand the need to have them fall in love quickly to fit into one novel.

The author did some major research to make sure the political and crisis scenes felt realistic. I could visualize everything happening in my mind (hence, the nail nibbling). I couldn't put this book down. I would have loved a little bit more at the end, some more closure or understanding of the after-effect, but all in all, this was a fantastic book and I highly recommend the whole series!

Have you read any great books this month? I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Usui #Abhanga #SnowBecomesRain #SpringLove @YvetteMCalleiro


Hello, beautiful readers! I hope you are all well. I know several of my fellow authors/poets have been recovering from illnesses, and I wish them all a speedy recovery. I would appreciate you joining me in sending healing energy to them and everyone who is struggling to heal. There are some nasty viruses going around right now.

Thank you to those of you who said prayers and sent healing energy to my loved one last week. She is back home and is slowly starting to show signs of improvement. She will need to follow up with a doctor for her most distressing symptoms, so please keep sending prayers her way.

We enter a new season with this week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge - Usui, or Snow Becomes Rain. This season is known as the arrival of first spring thaw. Obviously, we don't experience that here in South Florida. In fact, this week has been quite chilly (in the 50s in the morning, 70s by the afternoon). 

This week, Colleen Chesebro invited us to use this painting by Monet to inspire us. I immediately imagined this couple finding warmth from each other and came up with the poem below. I decided to write an Abhanga. This poem consists of four lines with a 6-6-6-4 syllabic pattern where line two and three rhyme. I've italicized and bolded the kigo phrase.

(The lane in epinay, snow effect by Monet:

Spring Love

nature mirrors my heart
a cold spell starts to thaw
your love has me in awe
ready to bloom

Are you seeing signs of a bit more warmth in your area? I'd love to hear from you.

Would you like to join us in writing a poem? Click here.

Friday, February 16, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Risshun #tanka #naturescourse #earlySpring @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! It has been one heck of a rough week for me. Someone I love dearly was in the hospital all week with multiple issues, the main one being a respiratory virus that was making it difficult for her to breath. Finally, she was released today. She's not out of the woods yet, but she's happy to be home. Please send healing energy her way.

On top of that, I've had either an appointment or an activity every day after work, so my days have been very long. By the time I finally ate dinner and watched a show with my son (our nightly ritual), I barely had any energy left. As if that isn't enough, the negative emotional energy around me has been quite high, which drained me even further.

So, I didn't get as much writing done this week as I would have wanted. I did manage to write at least one sentence every day. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I'm quite proud of myself for mustering up the energy to sit in front of the computer at night and at least produce that sentence before I showered and passed out (yes, it's been that draining of a week). All in all, I wrote a page in my WIP (better than nothing), and today, I finally sat down and wrote the poem for this week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge.

Colleen Chesebro explained that we are still in Early Spring. She also shared the 24 solar terms and how they are separated by fifteen degrees, which stuck with me. You can see the chart here. These small shifts are important to farmers who must choose the right time to plant the next harvest. So, that's what I focused on.

I chose to write a tanka poem, which is five lines with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic pattern. The third line is usually the pivot line so that the first three lines make one image and the last three lines create another image. My kigo phrase is bolded and italicized.

(courtesy of @4533875 on Pixabay)

Nature's Course

fifteen degree shift
unnoticed, important change
a bit more sunshine
time to prepare the garden
slow and steady's still progress

Are you seeing any changes in the weather in your area? I'd love to hear from you. 

Would you like to write a poem for this season? Join us here.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Risshun #bussokusekika #beach @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! This week, we move into the season of Risshun, or Early Spring, for our 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge. Colleen Chesebro reminds us that early Spring can bring false starts before true Spring begins. Mother Nature is being quite bipolar in my area right now.

This past weekend, I had a gorgeous day at the beach. The water was still a bit too cold to swim to the buoy and back, so I went for my walk to the jetty and back, which is about 1.5 miles, I think. I spent the whole day there with friends and only left when the sun started setting. Two days later, I was back to being bundled in a sweater and leather jacket, freezing my butt off.

I enjoyed writing a bussokusekika last week, so I decided to write another one this week. This poem has six lines with a 5-7-5-7-7-7 syllabic pattern. My kigo words are bolded and italicized. 

(courtesy of @Vaivography on Pixabay)

oh, lingering cold
crisp breeze chills me to the bone
Mother Nature laughs
beach one day, sweater the next
such indecisive weather
eager to sunbathe again

I thought I'd share some pictures of the beautiful day I had at the beach. I'm hoping to be there again this Saturday if the weather stays in the high 70s. Fingers crossed!

Watching the waves break upon the shore before receding again

Trying to capture the birds

On my walk to the jetty and back

Has Mother Nature been having a laugh in your area? I'd love to hear from you.

If you would love to join this week's poetry challenge, click here.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Daikan #Bussokusekika #wintersparrow #Imbolc #winter @YvetteMCalleiro

Happy February, beautiful readers! I cannot believe how quickly January came and went. It was a busy month, and I accomplished most of my goals. I wrote almost every day - either 30 minutes on my WIP or 30 minutes writing a poem. I am reading every weekday during my half-hour lunch. I exercise every morning for about 10-20 minutes, depending on the routine, and I'm trying to walk twice a week in the afternoon (I struggle with that part). Still, all in all, I am quite happy with my progress for January.

For this week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge, we are still in the season of Daikan, or Deep Cold, and we definitely dipped into deep cold (for South Florida) this week. We got into the high 40s (one night)/low 50s (at least in the mornings, then the high 60s/low 70s by the afternoon before dipping again). And I can confirm that I am not meant for the cold. It gave me an excuse to wear my few sweaters and my leather jacket, but I am ready for the warmth to come back. Unfortunately, the next two weeks don't look promising.

This week, Colleen Chesebro has challenged us to write a series of bussokuseki poems, which is similar to a tanka poem but has an extra line of seven syllables at the end. So, the syllabication pattern is 5-7-5-7-7-7. She's asked us to try to write three of these poems, each using one of the following three kigo phrases:

1. Imbolc or groundhog day
2. Depth of winter
3. Winter sparrow

This one took some thought for me, and I haven't had much time to think. Hopefully, you'll enjoy what I've created.

(courtesy of @AdinaVoicu on Pixabay)

winter sparrow flies
her song comforts in the cold
heard but rarely seen
a small gift of melodies
decorates the snowy trees
sweet, seasonal harmony

(courtesy of @StockSnap on Pixabay)

relentless winter
burning bonfires for Imbolc
banish body shakes
celebrate the coming Spring
make preparations today
and pray for winter's quick end

cold winds continue
some love the depth of winter
I prefer summer
where my skin soaks up sun's warmth
and my toes dig deep in sand
may winter end, summer start

Would you like to join us in writing a bussokuseki? Click here.