A Hitwoman Gets Lucky, Shoe Lust and Kobo News

My review of The Hitwoman Gets Lucky by JB Lynn. Bonus: it’s free!

I’m a fan of Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series even though I stopped reading at Book Eight or so. For me that’s a long time to stick with a series since I’m more of a trilogy gal. So, when I found JB Lynn on a friend’s blog I couldn’t resist giving her books a try. I downloaded her free offering on Amazon and kind of started in the middle.

Maggie Lee is a hitwoman. Accompanied by God and Armani (it’s not what you’re thinking, trust me) she sets out for Atlantic City to do a favor for her murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan. Barry Manilow is involved, too. But she doesn’t have a thing for him like she does for Patrick. Who has way too many rules, one of them about getting lucky.

The Hitwoman Gets Lucky is a spunky novella with a cache of eccentric characters, including a lizard and a dog. Maggie is delightful. Patrick has an unusual code of ethics but he sticks to them. And it’s clear he cares very much for Maggie. It’s also clear Maggie wants to get lucky with Patrick. There’s great chemistry there. And lots of laughs.

This is the first free offering I’ve downloaded from Amazon. I know, I’m behind the times. I kind of viewed it as a trial run of the series. Would I continue reading? And paying for the rest of the series? Yes, I would. Without hesitation. Who can resist the adventures of a reluctant hitwoman with a heart of gold? Not this reader.

Also, total random love. Pink patent shoes. With bows.

Plus: Backlash is available on Kobo!

Do you like hitwomen stories? Pink shoes? Free books?

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The Good, The Bad, and The Fair Book Review

010I very seldom review books online. I share ratings. But I’m hesitate to write a review which is all kinds of crazy since I’ve been involved in a book club for a dozen years and shared my thoughts by word of mouth long before that. But I’ve won a couple of books, downloaded free ones and I know they come with the hopeful expectation that I review them. Eeeps.

But how to write a fair, honest and helpful review? So, I did a little research. I’ve found that it’s not so much about my great, big, heavy thoughts having read the book as what will be helpful information to share with other readers deciding on what to read next. So…

First goal. Decide on a format. Thoughts I’ve gathered on this. Should be short (very short) description of what the book is about. Avoid spoilers. Or use big bold capitals letters to announce your review contains them. Readers want a sense of plot more than your general opinion. The reader whats to know if the book will interest them based on your summary of the book.

Okay, I think I can handle this part. I’m not interested in becoming a bonafide book review blogger. I just want to post an intelligent review on Goodreads, Librarything, possibly bookseller sites, and here on my own personal blog. As a side note, summarizing books down to a couple of sentences has potential as an excellent writing exercise. Doing this with books I read will make it easier to sum up my own. So, win win.

Second goal. Be honest about who you are and what you like to read. Kind of easy, peasy. I guess. I’m a writer. I write romantic suspense. But I read a variety of books. A wide variety. Hum…need to work on this.

Third goal. Provide an honest review. And here’s where it gets sticky for me. I don’t like saying less than stellar things about books when the author is someone I know, never mind a friend, are published by the same publisher, a member of my writing group, or is someone I met online and have developed a platonic, book related relationship with. That kind of narrows it down. Because I’m a wimp. Especially those with few reviews and I know my mediocre review might influence readers choosing to check out their book. And the very idea of posting a negative review stresses me out.

So, how to proceed? 300 to 400 word reviews. For reviews posted here – basic info about the book and where to find it. How this book came to be in my possession. Summarize the book in a couple sentences. Use my own words. Talk about theme, characters, and plot. What I felt where the strengths. Major weaknesses, if any. Sum it up.

Fourth goal. Decide what my book review isn’t. I want to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read. I want to help out my fellow writers. I want to give readers an honest and consistent review. I don’t want it to be about my emotional response to the book. Or a synopsis. Or a critique. I’m not grading a paper. And I shall, at all costs, avoid platitudes. Saying you couldn’t put it down doesn’t tell potential readers anything useful.

There! I’ve decided on a kind of format. So, what about you? Do you review books? Do you read reviews? Any tips on what you like to see in book reviews?

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Hump Day Confessions

 Photo of the Week

Calgary Zoo 2013“Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave…” Skipper, Madagascar

Confession of the Week

I have a thing about the names for animal groupings. I think it’s the writer in me always looking for different ways to look at and add description. Or the fact I’m a word geek.

Penguins live in large groups, and there are several different names for these groups.  When they group together on land, they are known as a waddle.  When the group is nesting, they are called a rookery.  When the group of penguins is found in the water, they are known as a raft.  On certain occasions, baby penguins form a group inside the larger group, which is known as a creche (kresh).

There’s something about describing a group of men in a ballroom and referring to them as a waddle. If you’re in the mood to indulge your curiosity or your geekiness check out Animal Congregations, Or What Do You Call a Group Of…

Favorite Post of the Week

I Love Men – Thought Catalog From Tumblr. I loved this post and her wonderful and thoughtful description.

On The Reading Front

Currently: Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass

Just Finished Reading: Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

On Cue: The Hitwoman Gets Lucky by JB Lynn

Great Book Quote

“He looked like every glossy frat boy in every nerd movie ever made, like every popular town boy who’d ever looked right through her in high school, like every rotten rich kid who’d ever belonged where she hadn’t.” Jennifer Crusie, Welcome to Temptation

Not a word about his chiseled jaw or piercing blue eyes but you still get the picture. Love it.

How about you? Anything to confess? Read a great book? What to share a link?

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Tuesday’s Table: My New Obessions

New obsessions and places you can find me!

Pinterest 

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Quinoa

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Very yummy and one of our family’s favs!

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 small English cucumber, chopped

1 small red onion, cut crosswise in half, thinly sliced

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil Greek Feta Dressing, divided

10 cups of torn romaine lettuce

1/2 cup of feta cheese

(I make my own vinaigrette salad dressing with 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, heaping teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1 clove of minced garlic, salt and pepper)

Directions

Rinse quinoa unless the packaging says it’s unnecessary. Doing this gets rid of the bitterness. Bring broth and quinoa to boil in saucepan on high heat, simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. (You can also tell it’s done when it develops a tiny white ring around the grain.) Cool.

Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions in medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup of dressing, toss to coat.

Cover platter with lettuce, top with quinoa, tomato mixture, cheese and remaining dressing.

I usually serve it with grilled chicken and you got yourself a healthy, filling meal. Also, it’s looks very impressive served on a large, rectangular platter. I wish I had a picture, but I don’t! Next time I make it I’ll definitely take a picture.

Are you showing up in any new places? Love quinoa? Hate it? Haven’t tried it yet?

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So, Dove Has This New Commercial…

So, there’s a new video going all kinds of viral because of it’s message about female beauty. How we see ourselves versus how others see us. It emphasizes how critical we are of our appearance. Let’s be clear on this. Our appearance. Not our inner beauty. Or our smarts. Or kind acts. Or anything else but our hair, chin, eyes, and shape of our face. What we see when we look in the mirror.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iswiKQbtwXQ

The message? How we think of ourselves in terms of appearance affects every aspect of our lives. And most women don’t appreciate how beautiful they are. Ergo, we’re not as happy or confident as we should be.

Well, there’s a shocker.  Not like our insecurities haven’t turned the health and beauty market into a multi-billion dollar industry or anything.

The answer? Celebrate our natural beauty. Buy Dove products.

Because let’s be clear on something else. They want us to use their shampoos and lotions, etc. And great on them. We all need those things. And there’s nothing wrong with a message that suggests we should be kind to ourselves when we look in the mirror. To appreciate the beauty staring back at us. We all have it. And if watching their video inspires you to look for some of that awesomeness the next time you’re in front of a mirror — wonderful!

But Dove is also owned by the same company (Unilever) who sells Axe. So there you go.

We need to find the self-confidence to know we’re beautiful because of who we are, what we believe, and the things we do. Because we are unique. We are individuals who are more than the sum of our physical parts.

Because we are not here to be seen. We are here to be heard.

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For The Love of Birds

My daughter loves birds! When I found this game at Chapters I knew we had to buy it. As my daughter has special needs, finding the right game can be a challenge. This one is perfect and we love to play it.

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We love to take care of and watch our feathered friends. And with spring kind, sorta, inching it’s way forward, we’re waiting anxiously for the return of many of them.

A bird is three things:

Feathers, flight and song,

And feathers are the least of these. 

Margorie Allen Seiffert, The Shining Bird

 

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The Perfectionism Trap

Submission for Off The Grid is in the hands of my lovely editor at The Wild Rose Press. Whew! It’s a romantic suspense (of course) and takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In an area called the Downtown Eastside which is notorious for being Canada’s poorest postal code. It’s the first book of my West Coast Trilogy. I’ve very excited about this story so fingers crossed.

My initial intention was to write a short story. Then it stretched into a novella. It now stands just shy of 60,000 words. And I’m good with it. And now I want to attempt to write it into a trilogy. I don’t what it is about a set of three books that I love, but I do. I’m not big on reading series. I get to about, well, book four and stop.

But I want to give the idea of a trilogy a go. So I have plans for two more books: Off The Ledge, and Off The Streets. Even though the idea scares the beejeebers out of me because…what if I fail. What if I can’t do it. What if I can’t make it right? Or weave the threads together? Or? Or? Or in other words, make it perfect?

But luckily inspiration came my way while I was editing Off The Grid. I read on a blog post by Kristen Lamb: 10 Ways for an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY!…Productive. I didn’t need to get past the picture to discover my new mantra.

The world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards finishers. Kristen Lamb

It just so happens that Writer Unboxed has post today titled Good Enough by M.J. Rose about conquering perfectionism.

If we allow ourselves to remain at the mercy of our desire for perfection, not only will the perfect elude us, so will the good.” – Alex Lickerman, M.D. in Happiness in this World

The Harvard Business Review: How To Escape Perfectionism.

But the world doesn’t reward perfection. It rewards productivity. And productivity can only be achieved through imperfection. Make a decision. Follow through. Learn from the outcome. Repeat over and over and over again. It’s the scientific method of trial and error. Only by wading through the imperfect can we begin to achieve glimpses of the perfect.

check out The Feel Good Lifestyle blog and Pia Savoie’s post on From Perfection to Action: 5 Simple Tips to (Finally) Free Yourself from Perfectionism.

The allure of perfection is like a mirage. It cannot be achieved, because there is no final destination.

I’m going to work on the letting go of perfect when it comes to my writing. To strive for quality, but not at the expense of finishing. To try new approaches. To stretch my wings. To help others reach their dreams.

To imperfection.

To honesty.

To effort.

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Day of Pink

 

day of pink

Another reason to wear pink. Today is the International Day against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia and Transphobia in schools and communities.

With ignorance comes fear – from fear comes bigotry. Education is the key to acceptance.” –Kathleen Patel

Bullying builds character like nuclear waste creates superheroes. It’s a rare occurrence and often does much more damage than endowment.” – Zack W. Van

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Because I loved him then and I love him now.

I don’t know how much the reading of quotes will help a person suffering the immediate trauma of be bullied in the now. But it makes me feel proactive by posting my thoughts. As someone who never quite fit into the (very) small hometown I grew up in, I’ve suffered the displeasure of people who never knew quite how to take me or what to do with me. And the need of certain people to put me down in order to build themselves up. Power taken anyway they could get it. We didn’t call it bullying in the ’70’s. They called me sensitive.

All I can say is Thank you, God! for books. They kept me sane until I found a place and friends that accepted me for who I was. Loud, girly, and always ready to offer an opinion.

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Rocky Mountain Inspiration

Easter and Calgary 2013 025We spent a lovely, lively four days with my sister, brother-in-law and two nephews in Calgary, Alberta, last week. Alberta is the neighboring province to our west. We also took a little  with a side trip to the picturesque town of Banff located in the Rocky Mountains that divide Alberta and British Columbia.

How’s that for a geography lesson? A teacher I am not. That’s my sister! She’s also a foodie. So we ate very well while we were there. Porridge with a variety of toppings for breakfast, homemade tomato for lunch, trout for dinner. Lawd, it was delicious. Good company and good food make for good times!

My husband and I lived in Calgary for four years after we were first married. We loved it there, but it just wasn’t where we were meant to live. I love my wide open prairies and my small city. But I still enjoy going back to the mountains and we hadn’t been there for far too long. Writers gain inspiration from all kinds of settings. But there’s something about being surrounded by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains that stirs the creative juices. For a romantic suspense writer the possibilities are endless. Every setting comes with it’s own dangers. With it’s own storms. It’s own extremes. Own challenges. There are high divides, passes and alpine lakes here. Variations in weather and season. These mountains are home to moose, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears, and others from butterflies to eagles. It is a rich environment to draw from.

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What settings inspire you? Have a favorite book set in the midst of a mountain range? Do you pick books because of setting?

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