Tag Archives: What I’m Reading

What I #amreading, and #amwriting

Hello from a dark and rainy town somewhere near Olympia, Washington, USA. The time of year that I like to think of as “baking weather” has arrived. It’s cold and rainy, with the promise of snow in the next few days.

Let’s face it: when the house feels cold, Grandma gets cooking.

Bread, cookies, lentil loaf—in my family, food is love. My house is full of good smells and tasty treats, and my clothes are shrinking.

Hunkering down with a cup of hot tea and a good book is another enjoyable activity for this time of year.

I’m currently reading a book by Dr. Michio Kaku, The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth.  This book was published by Random House in February of 2018. The way I learn requires a more in-depth approach to reading it, as I need to read slowly and take notes, so it’s been several weeks and I’m only halfway through it. This book is a journey, not a speed-read.

I’m drawn to a wide variety of books on philosophy and natural history and have them on my reading list because they offer new ways of looking at the world. I love learning but don’t have the patience to take college courses anymore.

I just finished reading “Murder in an Irish Village,” a cozy mystery by American author Carlene O’Connor. Published by Kensington Books in 2016, it’s the first book in a series of seven so far. It was a fun little mystery, well-plotted. Siobhán O’Sullivan is an enjoyable protagonist, and the cast of characters and suspects were believable. It kept me guessing to the end. I had one dislike, which is the abundance of relatively obscure Irishisms—at some points it’s rough going. I suspect even native Irish speakers have to look some words up. I understood all the dialogue only because I was reading on a Kindle and could easily search for the meanings of words I didn’t know. Despite that minor flaw I give the book four stars, because it’s a good novel.

So, what am I writing? I finished the first draft of Gates of Eternity, my accidental novel. That’s the working title, but I have no idea what the final title will be. I have a lot of work ahead of me before it’s ready for my editor, but I’m satisfied with how the storyline has fallen into place.

I am setting that book aside now to finish working on Bleakbourne on Heath. This Alternate Arthurian novel grew out of a serial I began writing in 2016. The ending has been written, but a certain amount of work remains, as the plot is a little thin in some places.

Committing to write that serial back then was how I discovered that writing and publishing a chapter a week is NOT my strong suit!

This last week, I entertained myself by creating a digital map for a friend’s next novel, a mystery set in the general area my husband grew up in. She gave me a hand-drawn basic layout, and I took it from there. I love drawing maps for my own work and have often thought I missed my calling as a cartographer.

Jasperson Back Yard, May 2020

On the homefront, we’ve been getting the yard tidied, small preparations for spring whenever the weather allows. The tree man was here to prune the apple tree and cut back the maple that loves to block my front window. He also trimmed up the cedar hedge which had gotten out of control, suffocating our rhododendrons, so we’re good to go for another year.

As always, writing for this blog requires a small commitment of time and creativity, but it is one of my great joys, a diversion when things get a little hectic.

All in all, it has been a busy month, with plenty of books to read, lots to write, and new recipes to try out. I hope you’re enjoying life as much as is possible during this pandemic and the lockdown, and staying safe.

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#BookReview: A Cold and Quiet Place by @AlisonDeLuca #amreading

I read many books, and while most novels have some redeeming qualities, a few stand out as stellar. A Cold and Quiet Place by Alison DeLuca is one of those.

While I no longer have the time to put out a weekly book review blog, I do still review the books I love, and when I come across one that is worth sharing, I will gladly share it here.

Everyone who was ever a teenager knows the years between childhood and adulthood are fraught with danger, as the social skills we form either help or handicap us, and the traumas we suffer haunt us forever after.

The novel opens with a girl on the edge of adulthood and takes us through a powerful coming-of-age story.

But first, THE BLURB:

A Cold and Quiet Place by Alison DeLuca

Publisher : Myrddin Publishing Group (December 27, 2020)

Publication date : December 27, 2020

Language : English

Print length : 183 pages

The deepest scars can be invisible. Lily’s swimming career is jeopardized when she dates Tyler, her attractive teammate. At first he seems like the perfect boyfriend. But Tyler’s insults and demands increase, and Lily has to decide if her relationship is worth the emotional torture. Between Tyler, the pressure of competition, and an anonymous online bully, Lily risks losing everything she has fought for as a 15-year old swimmer. A Cold and Quiet Place is a YA novel about competitive swimming and the dark world of emotional abuse.

MY REVIEW:

This book is an emotional rollercoaster, powerful and deeply moving. DeLuca’s prose is lean and evocative, and her narrative transitions smoothly from scene to scene. The story is so compelling I was halfway through the book before I knew it.

This is a novel of achievement and despair. It details the chaotic mystery of Lily’s situation and the cold calculation of her abuser, laying bare the toxic high school relationships that are a terrible rite of passage many young people go through in their teen years.

High School in the US generally encompasses grades 9 through 12, and ages 14 to 18, with some variations depending on the school district.

When I began reading this novel, I knew nothing about competitive swimming other than as an Olympic level sport, one I watch every four years when the world meets to compete. I knew nothing of the athletes’ personal journey to get to that place.

Now, I see the humanity of each competitor, the person who has a life apart from their sport. Yet with each event, they challenge themselves to be better than their previous best.

Lilly’s story as an athlete and young woman is both heartbreaking and empowering. When I finished the last page, I felt as wrung as if I had lived that story, and in many ways, I had.

There is no blunting of the trauma, no dancing around the issues. DeLuca takes us into Lily’s world and tells a gripping story that has to be read to the last page. This is a powerful story of a girl growing into womanhood.

I give A Cold and Quiet Place by Alison DeLuca 5 stars.

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Lichenwald, by Ellen King Rice #amreading

I always enjoy reading novels set in the Pacific Northwest, the part of the world where I live. I especially enjoy it when the author understands how the forests here really work. I read in all genres, and the most recent book was Lichenwald, the third book in Ellen King Rice’s Mushroom Thriller series.

A former wildlife biologist, Ellen King Rice knows her stuff. Her books are terrific novels to while away a rainy day with.

BUT FIRST, the blurb:

Lichenwald is the newest “mushroom thriller” by Ellen King Rice. This science-based adventure delves into the vibrant diversity of the Pacific Northwest with a story of the power in lichens and their relationships.

At the edge of exhaustion, lichenologist Zinnie Fazail struggles to maintain a professional life as her mother descends into dementia. Ursula Fazail insists on wandering the neighborhood, looking for a vaguely remembered blue mushroom while lapsing into the language of her childhood.

Zinnie is desperate for a health aide who can keep up with her mother’s excursions. When May Belle Pope moves in with promises to “Take care of things,” Zinnie learns that Evil can be a roommate with small barking dogs.

As Ursula bonds with a blind Cocker Spaniel, Zinnie realizes May Belle will exploit any situation to her advantage. Zinnie has to act before hearts and bodies are broken, especially once May Belle has access to the home computer and family accounts.

How can Zinnie protect her mother and her home when what she knows are lichens?

Lichenwald includes illustrations of local lichens by Olympia artist Duncan Sheffels.

Part adventure, part science class, and totally fungi and lichen friendly, Lichenwald takes the reader into a place of friendships and intertwining ecosystems.

My review:

I found Zinnie Fazail an immediately relatable character. The story opens in the fictional Summit College where she works. While much of the focus is on mushrooms, lichens, and fungi, the cast of characters, their problems, and their relationships are the heart of the story.

Ellen King Rice’s understanding of human nature is spot on. Laurel’s youthful insecurity, Marvin and Allie’s wary father-daughter relationship, and Zinnie’s frustrations are real.

German-born Ursula’s slipping into dementia is poignant and is shown with truth and sensitivity. New to the neighborhood, Allie was raised in Germany. Her immediate attachment to the German grandmother is genuine and well portrayed.

Things get complicated when a woman with suspect credentials accepted into Zinnie’s home and agrees to care for Ursula. May Belle Pope is a frightening woman even at her most ingratiating.

May Belle’s criminal sense of entitlement is boundless, and her casually callous behavior evokes real anger in the reader. The twists and turns of her nefarious plans are  both real and frightening. I kept thinking “This could happen to any family, even mine.”

The illustrations are really well done and informative. I enjoyed Lichenwald and found myself thinking about the events and the characters long after I finished it.

Each book in Ellen King Rice’s Mushroom Thriller series is a standalone novel featuring a different cast of characters, so you can start with any book and not be confused.

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#amreading: Into the North, by Lindsay Schopfer

Today I’m talking about a book written by Indie author, Lindsay Schopfer. I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Beast Hunter, and Into the North is a fitting sequel to Keltin’s first adventure. Both are stand-alone novels, so you don’t have to have read The Beast Hunter to know what is going on.

But First, THE BLURB:

Professional beast hunter Keltin Moore is returning home a changed man. With a new apprentice and a lifetime of experience gained in faraway Krendaria, he prepares to settle into his old life of being a small town hero. But when gold is discovered in the far north, Keltin must again leave his home in order to protect the prospectors from the beasts ravaging the gold fields. Arriving in the boom town of Lost Trap, Keltin soon discovers that there are dangers beyond beasts in the frozen north. A local gang has established themselves as the resident Hunters Guild and will not tolerate any competition. Meanwhile, a specter haunts the gold fields. A legendary creature known as the Ghost of Lost Trap stalks the snowy countryside, testing Keltin and his friends to their very limits as they try to hunt their most dangerous beast yet.

MY REVIEW:

Like Schopfer’s other work, this novel is well-structured, with creative environments, good tension, and deep characters. It is a complex tale, layered with political and ethical themes. As in The Beast Hunter, the technology is all that which we would find available in any late 19th century steampunk tale, but there the similarity ends. Keltin is a beast hunter, and the Ghost of Lost Trap is not your average Edwardian creature. The creatures in this series are some of the most horrific things I have seen outside of an RPG, all of them fun and dangerous.

Keltin Moore is still slightly flawed, and still intriguing. He still has family troubles and will likely always have trouble getting along with certain members of his own species. He lives in a world of diverse sentient races of people, and the prejudice and political intrigue stemming from that diversity is central to their culture. One of my favorite characters is Bor’ve’tai, a member of a species called the Loopi, and he makes a return.

A bounty hunter, Keltin is used to working alone, but now he has an apprentice—Jaylocke, the Weycliff Wayfarer. Jaylocke is, at times, hilarious, and is a good foil for Keltin’s intensity. The people they meet along the way and the relationships they forge with other species are the core of this story. Lindsay Schopfer’s knack for showing a good story really shines, as the action driven plot, rather male-dominated but multicultural society, and solid, well-drawn characters of many different species make this novel a good read.

I received an advance copy of this book as a Beta reader. I enjoyed it very much in that incarnation, and liked the finished product even more. I highly recommend it as an action adventure.


I will be a guest author participating in the official online launch party on Facebook, Saturday April 15, beginning at 4:oo p.m. Pacific time. Four other wonderful authors will also be participating, helping to boost the signal so feel free to log into Facebook and  join in the conversation. Some awesome prizes could be yours!

Into the North Online Launch Party

Log on and engage with some fantastic fantasy and steampunk authors as we celebrate the release of Lindsay Schopfer’s latest novel, “Into the North.” Our lineup of authors is as follows:

4:00 to 4:30 pm PDT – Pembroke Sinclair (7:00 EDT) (US) Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming–the home of 56 nationalities–it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.

4:30 to 5:00 pm PDT – Terry Persun (7:30 EDT) (US) Terry Persun’s books have taken readers to the uncharted worlds near the edge of the galaxy (“Hear No Evil”), to lands where shape shifters battle humans (the “Doublesight” series), to the near future in both technology (“The Killing Machine” and “Revision 7:DNA”) and shamanism (“The NSA Files” and “The Voodoo Case”), all while keeping the pace with thriller/suspense novels. He’s also ventured into history (“Sweet Song” and “Ten Months in Wonderland”), contemporary crime (“Man by the Door” and “Mistake In Identity”), and mainstream novels (“The Perceived Darkness”, “Wolf’s Rite”, and “Deception Creek”).

5:00 to 5:30 pm PDT – Katherine Perkins (8:00 EDT) (US) Katherine Perkins lives wherever the road of a Visiting Assistant Professor’s family takes her, her husband, and one extremely skittish cat. She was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and will defend its cuisine on any field of honor. She is the editor of Jeffrey Cook’s Dawn of Steam series and serves as Jeff’s co-author for the YA Fantasy Fair Folk Chronicles (beginning with Foul is Fair) and various short stories, including those for the charity anthologies of Writerpunk Press. When not reading, researching, writing, editing, or occasionally helping in the transcription of Braille songbooks, she tries to remember what she was supposed to be doing.

5:30 to 6:00 pm PDT Connie J. Jasperson (8:30 EDT) (US) This is ME!!! I bill myself as an author, blogger, and medieval renaissance woman. Feel free to join the conversation on Facebook–I will be talking about the Tower of Bones series and giving away 2 eBook downloads of book one in the series, Tower of Bones.

6:00 to 6:30 pm PDT – Nicole J. Persun (9:00 EDT) (US) Nicole J. Persun started her professional writing career at age sixteen, when Booktrope Editions published her novel A Kingdom’s Possession. Her second novel, Dead of Knight, won Gold in Foreword Magazine’s 2013 Book of the Year Awards. Aside from novels, Nicole has had short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and essays published in a handful of literary journals. With a Master’s in Creative Writing, Nicole lives in Washington State.

6:30 to 7:00 pm PDT – Lindsay Schopfer (9:30 EDT) (US) Lindsay Schopfer is the author of The Adventures of Keltin Moore, a series of steampunk-flavored fantasy novels about a professional monster hunter. He also wrote the sci-fi survivalist novel Lost Under Two Moons and the fantasy short story collection Magic, Mystery and Mirth. His short fiction has appeared in Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk from Writerpunk Press and Unnatural Dragons from Clockwork Dragon.

All the participating authors will share tidbits about their work, and some will have games. Several are offering prizes to participating visitors. As I mentioned above, I will be talking about the Tower of Bones series and giving away Kindle downloads of Tower of Bones to two lucky winners.

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