Wednesday Writing Workshop | July Beautiful People Linkup

WRITING WORKSOP WEDNESDAYLast month I participated in the first Beautiful People linkup from Notebook Sisters and Further Up and Further In. The idea behind the meme is that us little writers get to know our characters better by answering 10 questions about them.

Last time I introduced my MC Sara from my WIP The Regenerist’s Third Life, and today I’m continuing to focus on my  reluctant regenerating hero. I had a burst of energy over the last week and have made some good strides on my draft, which is amazing since I’ve been so busy at work. Seriously, ten minutes here or there is actually good progress for me right now. So this little post? It feels fantastic to be working on it!

  1. What’s her favorite food?
    Any food that’s real! Most people in Sara’s future eat modfood, a factory-grown food substitute that supposedly tastes like the real thing, but Sara knows better. She was alive when meat came from cows and chickens, not a laboratory.
  2. What does she absolutely hate?
    In the start of the book, Sara escapes the research facility where she’s been held for more than a century. So, to say she hates the people who put her there would be an understatement. Sara tries to keep her anger in check though because she despises who she is when truly mad.
  3. What does she enjoy learning about?
    After fleeing captivity, Sara’s excited to learn about everything she’s missed out on over the years. It takes her some time to trust others and get curious, but once she is no longer worried about being recaptured, she asks a lot of questions!
  4. Who is the most influential person in their life?
    Three people are key to Sara in her new life outside of a lab: Remmer and Avim, the father and son who helped free her, and Manaba, the bold hunter that convinces Sara to stand for a cause.
  5. What is her childhood fear?
    Falling from great heights! But she gets over that quite abruptly in the start of the book. ;)
  6. What is something she has always secretly dreamed of doing, but thought impossible?
    Seeing the world. Being a lab rat has seriously limited her traveling abilities.
  7. What is something she is impractically afraid of?
    Living forever, because well, it’s pretty much her only option. Still, the idea of being the only person left standing at the end of the world haunts her. 
  8. Is she a night owl or a morning person?
    Morning! Sara’s led a pretty regimented life, and there’s no going back on that routine for her.
  9. Does she say everything that pops into her head, or leave a lot unsaid?
    Sara’s not afraid to speak her mind when it counts. She can be rather guarded though when she’s unsure.
  10. What are her nervous habits?
    Feigning indifference.

So, there you have it, more about Sara! If you are working on any drafts of your own, go check out the linkup!

Characters we’re spending time with on that deserted island

TTT_HEADERTop Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish where people who love lists and books can share their favorites based on a certain topic each week.

This week’s list is pretty fun: the ten characters we’d like to bring with us to a deserted island. Strangely, this is a “game” Ashley and I have played before, but it’s typically how we rank our favorite actors. Ask me who’s on my island and I could give you a running top five list. This time though, we’re looking at this from a survival/comfort standpoint.

TTT_ANNE

1. For the eye candy: Eric Northman from the Sookie Stackhouse series. Okay, I can’t survive without something pleasant to look at. Thankfully, True Blood was a book series first so I can include my favorite vamp on the list. I’m sure an island would be a less-than-ideal for a vampire, but I’d figure something out. I’m not a big fan of being out in the sun either. Also, Eric can fly, so you can’t really be stuck on an island…

2. For the smarts: Veronica Mars. I just read The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and was reminded that VMars is super crafty and an ingenue. She’d figure out a way to get us off the island, and certainly her quips are delightful.

3. Because she’s fun: Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Being on an island means you have endless hours of potential boredom. But Zuz is freaking amazing and there’s no way boredom would be part of the picture. Plus strange creatures always end up doing her bidding, and that might come in handy.

4. For badassery: Sybella from Dark Triumph. I’d like to learn a thing or two about survival from Sybella — she has had some tough stuff to deal with (understatement of the year) and is overall a strong character that I’d definitely want around.

5: To keep me fed: Katniss from The Hunger Games. Honestly, I don’t know why you’d leave Katniss behind. She’s great at hunting, and is used to lean living.

TTT_ASHLEY

This was actually harder than I expected because there are so many great characters who would be useful and fun to have on an island, for various reasons.

6. Because she’s crafty: Fenella Doorn from The Queen’s Exiles. Fenella lived on a small island for five years, and owned and operated her own ship salvage business. If anyone can rig a raft together, it’s her.

7. For the hunting and survival skills: Peregrine from Under the Never Sky. He survived an apocalyptic situation and has grown up in a hunter gatherer community (which also includes fishing). Also, Peregrine’s genes mutated, so he now has a heightened sense of sight (includes night vision) and smell (smelling people’s tempers). Perry’s definitely someone you want around for hunting, stability and to stave off mutiny.

8. Because she controls the weather: Storm from X-Men. Yeah, if you are on an island, chances are the only weather options are scorching or stormy. So, I’d like to have someone who can tone down the weather. Plus, she can fly and scout for rescue ships.

9. She’s witchy: Bonnie Bennett from the Vampire Diaries. In reality, I’d settle for any witch, but I feel like Bonnie is the most trustworthy. Who wouldn’t want a witch around? If times are getting tough, she could provide nourishment, entertainment and protection. Plus, she seems like she would be a loyal friend.

10. Because he’s hot, smart and handy: James Bond. Hey, it’s my island and I’ll invite whomever I want! Being stranded on an island with James Bond wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Plus, he’s a secret agent, so we wouldn’t be stranded for long. I’d think of our time together as a nice little vacation from reality.

So, what do you think of our character selections? Any you love or hate?

Monday Movie Magic: The Queen’s Exiles

kushiel's dart movie casting

We’ve been on a MMM hiatus, but I’m here to correct that! I’ve been raving about The Queen’s Exiles by Barbara Kyle, and while there aren’t any plans to turn the novel into a film or television series, I’ve already found my dream cast! For the purposes of this post, I’m only focusing on Fenella, Adam and Frances.

Fenella Doorn: Ali Williams

Ali Williams

Via: IMDB

I broke my own casting rule and ran a Google search for redheaded actress. Which can also yield some scary results, by the way. In any case, I was immediately struck by Ali William‘s IMDB profile picture. Obviously she’s gorgeous, but I couldn’t peg her in anything I’d seen. So, in reviewing her page I discovered she not only has a lengthy resume but also quite a few notorious characters under her belt (e.g. Poison Ivy, Jean Grey and Mary Jane Watson). Plus, if you check out her action demo reel, I think it speaks for itself. Even though Williams might be relatively unknown, I think she would be more than capable of pulling off the feisty, fiery and independent Fenella Doorn.

Adam Thornleigh: Sam Reid

Sam Reid, John Davinier, Belle

Via: The Seven Sees

Sam Reid

Via: Zimbio

 

 

 

 

 

 
If you’ve seen Belle then there’s no need for me to go on about Sam Reid. If you haven’t, then you are missing out on a beautiful, wonderful film! In playing John Davinier, an aspiring lawyer who is adamantly promoting the abolishment of slavery, Sam Reid has proven he is more than capable of portraying a strong rebel leader. Plus, he isn’t bad to look at!

Frances Thornleigh: Amanda Hale

Amanda Hale, The White Queen

Via: TudorQueen6

Almost immediately after I was introduced to Frances, Adam’s turncoat wife, I knew the only person who could play this character was Amanda Hale. She’s a seasoned period film actress who plays the crazed, unhinged characters so well. If you haven’t seen any of her work, I highly recommend The Crimson Petal and the White, The White Queen or Persuasion. Hale has the range to incite sympathy from the audience, but just enough edge and darkness to reveal Frances’ true sinister nature.

a character polygamist_lc

If you’ve read the novel or the series, what do you think of my cast?

Stay-in-Bed Sampler: Favorite games of the non-video variety

SIBS_HEADERWhen trying to think of a topic for this weekend’s SIBS, I kept coming back to hobbies that I love outside of reading. And while I do like myself a good video game, there’s something satisfying about playing an old-fashioned board or card game. And its also an activity that requires friends, which isn’t necessarily the case for videogaming. Here’s a look at some of my favorite games of the non-video variety:

Settlers of Catan

games_1Lovingly called just Settlers or Catan amongst my college friends, this is the game that always comes out when we all meet up. Settlers is a resource-collecting game where the ultimate goal is to build roads, settlements and cities for victory points. What I love about this game is that there is a bit of strategy with some luck thrown in the mix. Each game you get a new board, constructed at random with different resource tiles and numbers that correspond to dice rolls.

Another highlight of this game is that it gets intense. Trading cards, stealing cards and blocking resources is part of the game play, and there has been times where friends turn into foes and back within a round or two.

Carcassonne

games_2Another strategy-luck game, Carc centers around picking up tiles from an upside-down stack and arranging them so they connect with other tiles already played. With the tiles you try to create cities, roads and cloisters. Once completed, you gain points based on the size of tiles in your structure. There’s definitely different approaches to playing, and surprisingly there is enough variety for a game played with the same tiles over and over again!

Carc is a pretty fast-paced game, and is good for the times when you don’t want to think too much but still have fun.

Dominion

dominionDominion is a card game where you build up a deck and buy victory points by playing out the combination of different specialty cards in your hand. So, to start the game you have some money cards and a few victory point cards. The players set out ten types of specialty cards and using your money in your hand, you start to buy specialty cards to put in your deck. As the game goes on you start getting new hands where you have a combination of money and specialty cards that allow you to conduct more actions, pick up more cards, and get more money to buy victory points.

What’s so fun about Dominion is that there are so many different types of specialty cards, and the combination of some together gets really interesting. There is so much variety in Dominion, and it is a completely new game each time you play.

 Multiplayer Solitaire

wpid-imag0442_1.jpgYou’ve probably played solitaire before, and at this point you are probably rolling your eyes at me. But I love multiplayer solitaire though, and the more players, the better! The game is played basically the same way, except when you put up an Ace, anyone can play on it. Each of you also has a stack of eleven cards on the side that you need to get rid of before anyone else can. If you play with other quick people, putting cards up at the top can be dangerous! I swear I’ve almost had a thumb broken multiple times. Multi-Solitaire is a race to the finish, and it can get pretty wicked between friends!

There are other games that didn’t make it to the top of my list, but I also really enjoy playing:

7 Wonders — We just started playing this card development game recently and it is probably going to be a favorite soon.

Mexican Train Dominoes — This is just a classic game we play with the fam a lot.

Castle Dice — This is a relatively new game that was funded by Kickstarter. We’ve only played a handful of games, but I haven’t won yet. *grinds teeth*

Ticket To Ride aka Train Train Revolution aka TTR – You can get really mean-spirited playing TTR, putting down trains you don’t need in order to block others. Mwahahaha…

One game I have yet to play and really want to is D&D. I love fantasy, why haven’t I found peoples to play with yet?!

What are some of your favorite board or card games to play? Have you played any of my favorites? Got any cool strategies you’d want to share? ;)

 

Writing Workshop Wednesday: What’s your blogging routine?

WRITING WORKSOP WEDNESDAY

Every Wednesday Anne and I have committed ourselves to providing discussion topics, tips and tricks or writing exercises.

Last week, Anne and I made our book blogging confessions, and while the positive responses were overwhelming, it got me thinking about the various ways people blog. So, I’d like to expand upon this idea. Knowing we are all at different stages in our lives and have more or less responsibilities than others, I’m still curious. What’s your blogging routine?

As Anne and I have said before, we are hopeful and aspiring writers, so we originally started the blog to gain some traction and credibility in the field. And, possibly some trusted beta readers. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ve discovered wonderful, courteous and encouraging people with similar and dissimilar opinions are plentiful in this community. So, it’s no wonder this whole blogging thing has been rather addictive.

With that said, Anne and I both have demanding full-time jobs and other responsibilities, and sometimes it’s hard to find the spare time to plan ahead. And, from time to time I feel the green-eyed monster rear its ugly head when I see other bloggers and bloggeresses who seem to have their sh*t together with wonderful headers, layouts and plentiful posts. (Good for you, but ugh). HOW DO YOU DO IT?

I’m game to share our insider secrets if you are. This is what Anne and I do (or try to do):

  • Create a shared editorial calendar through Gmail and assign posts
  • Write and create weekly and bi-monthly themed posts, ideally ahead of time
    • (e.g. Monday Movie Magic, Top Ten Tuesday, Writing Workshop Wednesday, and Stay-in-Bed Sampler)
  • Visit, read and comment on blogs on a weekly basis
  • Respond to our comments in a timely manner (sorry if it always doesn’t happen!)
  • Share our posts and connect with other bloggers via Twitter, Bloglovin and Goodreads

We limp along with this routine, but what’s yours? How much time do you dedicate to blogging every day, meaning commenting, reading or writing posts? Do you write all of your posts ahead of time or are some spur of the moment? Finally, are there apps or tasks managers you can’t live without?

Any and all advice, thoughts and comments are welcome! Thanks!

a character polygamist_lc

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV shows

TTT_HEADER

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish where people who love lists and books can share their favorites based on a certain topic each week.

This topic couldn’t have come at a better time, because Netflix just added a bunch of awesome Sci-Fi/Fantasy shows and I’ve been sucked into quite a few. And, I interpret these genres very broadly. I’ve decided to stick with current shows for the purposes of this post, but there are so many others I’d love to include! Without further ado, here is my list (in no particular order).

TTT_ASHLEY

Via: Hulu.com

Via: Hulu.com

1. “Sleepy Hollow

I was a bit of a late bloomer on this show, but I completely fell in love with the relationship between Ichabod and Abbie. Plus, it’s refreshing to see a show where the main characters have a strictly platonic connection. And, it doesn’t hurt that Tom Mison is very, very nice to look at.

Via: Syfy

Via: Syfy

2. “Lost Girl

I randomly discovered this show on Netflix and was hooked from the very first episode. I shared the wealth with Anne and we’ve both been devouring it. Our hearts broke when they removed the preliminary seasons from streaming, but don’t worry folks it’s back on the menu! Who doesn’t love a little succubi action?

Via: Lifetime

Via: Lifetime

3. “Witches of East End

I’ve read all three of the Witches series by Melissa de la Cruz, but felt they were so so. Surprisingly, the show is way better than the novels. They took the essence of the story, reassembled it and made one intriguing, steamy and addicting show! Witches are in!

Via: Syfy

Via: Syfy

4. “Bitten

Once I discovered “Lost Girl” was on the Syfy channel, I perused their website for other hidden gems. This was new to the 2014 lineup and somehow I missed the premiere. Well, I saw it was loaded to Netflix over the weekend and am happy/embarrassed to say I completely binged on it. The show is based on “The Other World” series by Kelley Armstrong, and they’ve definitely made my TBR list! You may think werewolves are overdone, but in this world Elena Michaels is the only female werewolf in the world. Plus, Greyston Holt is hunkalicious.

Via: Syfy

Via: Syfy

5. “Being Human

I knew this was a BBC show, but obviously being in America didn’t have access to watching it. Again, in between my binge sessions of “Bitten” I started watching “Being Human.” Despite the title, it’s a show about a vampire, werewolf and ghost living as roommates, but trying to have a normal human life.

Via: wikimedia.org

Via: wikimedia.org

6. “Once Upon A Time

I’m a big fan of fairy tales. So, I love that the show is taking the classic fables we all know and love and adds a twist to each story. The production quality may be poor at best, but I’ve enjoyed the various character arcs. There’s also a ton of eye candy as well.

Via: Syfy

Via: Syfy

7. “Continuum

This show has constantly been recommended to me via Netflix, but I’ll admit the cheesy cover turned me off. And, the first 20 minutes of episode one doesn’t help either. However, the show takes a turn for the better and keeps building momentum. If you like futuristic time-travel shows, then I highly recommend it. Although, when they get into space-time continuum theories, it makes my head hurt.

8. “Game of Thrones

Even though I haven’t read any of the books (hangs head), I’m really enjoying this series. I feel like it’s more exciting since I have no idea what will happen next. This past season was probably the best so far, and I love how Sansa is finally starting to get a backbone!

Via: wallpapers.brothersoft.com

Via: wallpapers.brothersoft.com

9. “True Blood

Alexander Skarsgard. ‘Nuff said.

Via: baixartv.com

Via: baixartv.com

10. “The Vampire Diaries

Again, another example of TV shows I liked better than the books. I think I read the first two, and it was like pulling teeth. The main character, Elena, is 100% obnoxious and unlikeable in the books. So, I’m really glad the show decided to stray far away from the outlined characters.

What do you think of our list? Have you seen any of these shows?

a character polygamist_lc

 

Cruel Beauty or just plain cruel? An audiobook adventure

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeI did it. I just went back into Goodreads and demoted Cruel Beauty by one whole star.

Eh, one star, you might think. I’m here to tell you that it’s not just the difference between a four and a five rating. That’s a walk in the park. That’s like having a great time at a party and having your only complaint be that it went by too fast. Cruel Beauty dropped down to a two. That’s right, the dreaded, barely better than awful, two-star rating where I bang my head on the keyboard over all the trauma this book has put me through.

Hyperbolic and melodramatic? Absolutely. But I’m not exaggerating when I say, for me, the personification of this book is a woman in an emerald green, floor-length gown who’s clutching a chalice filled to the brim with red wine. She’s sloshed and spilling the wine on anyone who comes close enough to hear her, and she’s still vilifying the cretin that stepped on her Louboutins more than an hour ago. If this sounds like you, I’m sorry. You are the very definition of melodramatic.

Why did I give this mercy and originally rate it as okay? Well, you see, it was an audiobook. My very first audiobook experience. A lot of my qualms, though certainly not all, I thought were perhaps because of the format and presentation style. Here’s a few examples.

I realized I remembered.

I began to cringe at every uttered I realized or I remembered. I wish I could word count those phrases, I’d say at least one is on every page of the book. [Nyx, you know you don't have to tell us specifically that you realized every time you have a revelation, right? You can actually just say what you just figured out!] But not having the book in front of me, I began to wonder if it was just something that stuck out and my brain was being overly sensitive. Kind of similar to when you repeat the same word over and over again until it becomes nonsensical. I was having hysteria in my car over Nyx’s ability to decipher some very basic cause/effect scenarios and to recall useless conversations she had like three hours ago. And, not to beat this into the ground, but placing phrases like I realized or I remembered in your sentence structure somehow implies that it is something important or worth noting is going to follow.

That kiss was a kiss that makes kisses kiss.

What was the focus on the kissing? It was soooo over-the-top, and magical. Wait, you met this shadow-thing that doesn’t speak, like earlier today and you are making out with it? And now you are kissing the guy that entrapped you/forced you into marriage. Which is inconvenient, since you just sworn to loathe him for all eternity. But bam, there you are remembering the kisses and realizing you liked the kisses and realizing that means you like both, and now I have a headache. It may have been because the narrator was raising her pitch and excitement levels every time the word kiss was mentioned.

Call it resentful beauty.

This is another instance of word usage. Cruel is thrown around a lot, by Nyx about herself, her family, the demon lord, everything. Cruelty is not feeling guilty after yelling at your sister and making her cry. Cruelty would be yelling at your sister and then enjoying her tears, collecting them in a little bottle and carrying it on a chain around your neck. Ah wait, that crossed over into creepy territory quickly. I don’t think Nyx is cruel at all. She resents her family, she thinks unkind thoughts sometimes, but she also claims to love the shadow-thingie and the demon lord. I don’t believe that a truly cruel person has capacity to love or feel guilt. Those emotions indicate you, at some level, have the ability to empathize. Listening to a character wax on an on about how cruel she is became tedious. Maybe reading it in print would be different, more vicious.

The demon lord sounds completely ludicrous.

Perhaps you could chalk it up to a woman narrating a man’s part, but the demon lord sounded comical. I pictured an ostrich wearing a suit and top hat, with a monocle. Or sometimes the Cheshire cat, with his head tilted back, staring up at Nyx with a huge creepy smile. These mental pictures totally discredit this character as demon-like. He was a stunted man-child, and I’m not sure why that is supposed to be attractive?

Upon finishing the book I gave it a three. I kept listening, didn’t I? I wanted to know the end, that is worth something, right? These things may not have been so annoying if I was reading, making up the voices and stressing words differently. Right? With some time and further reflection, I don’t think reading it in print would have really made any difference in my enjoyment. Therefore, I scaled back on my forgiveness, and called it like it really was: a big ol’ two-star book.

Most of the above annoyances I outlined related to the actual words themselves. Sure, the narrator may have emphasized something once in a way I did not like, and then I kept jumping to it. But, My critical, cranky brain does that with the written word too, so that’s moot. I also started Code Name Verity in an audio format, and so far it is really enjoyable. Proving that I’m not format biased and just have an audio-book grudge.

2
Would I read it again: That would fall under cruel and unusual punishment

book reviews by anne engelhart

Do you think you might rate books differently based on the format? Even besides audio vs text, maybe ebook vs hardback? Also, side-thought not fully related, can you really say you “read” the book if it was an audio version? You listened to the book, not read it. Does that count as reading?

Super side-note. Did you catch the P&P reference in there? :D

Editor’s note: For a bit there, Nyx was improperly spelled Nix. Sorry for being too literal.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Book blogging confessions

TTT_HEADER

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish where people who love lists and books can share their favorites based on a certain topic each week.

Well, Anne and I will be baring our book blogging confessions this week. While blogging about books has been a blast, it can sometimes be a bit overbearing. And, away we go!

a character polygamist_lc

I love blogging. But, I was terrified to start. It felt way too personal to publish and post my feelings about books I loved or hated. I was also scared of letting all of my future followers down by not posting consistently enough. However, my biggest fear was the blog getting lost in the oblivion of the Interwebs.

Well, we were met with kindness, encouragement, friendship, and tons of support. Slowly yet surely, we started to garner comments, likes, shares, and followers! The excitement from the warm welcome and acceptance into this community was such a high. So, we were scrambling to try and post every day and create newly themed posts. And, it was/is working – thank you!

But, wow, blogging is a lot of work. For someone who has a full time job, along with a part time freelance gig, trying to squeeze in reading and writing can be difficult. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is stare at another screen when I’m finally done working for the day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading, writing and blogging, but no one told me it was going to be this stressful to do it well. We don’t want to let our lovely readers down, but I feel sometimes feel guilty when I choose to watch a movie or even catch up with friends over happy hour versus doing my blogger duties.

You can’t accuse us not caring, because we really do! Our goal is to bring you quality and thought-provoking posts. But, at the end of the day this is just a hobby and it should be enjoyable not stressful. I’m officially giving myself the right to blog or not to blog when I feel like it. With that said, we are still dedicated to our loyal followers. However, if we happen to go on a hiatus from time to time, it’s because we need a mental break. Thanks for reading!

book reviews by anne engelhart

Confession: This originally posted before I could add any confession. Embarrassing!

As you might infer from this announcement, sometimes I don’t have a lot of time to blog like I want to. On one hand, I feel guilty, and on the other, I feel stupid for feeling any guilt. It is a hobby! I’ve said it before, but I fully blame my Midwestern-ness for any guilt. Its just part of how we operate ’round these parts.

Lately, the main reason I can’t devote a lot of time to blogging is because I have a lot on my plate at work. I do cringe sometimes upon seeing the 100+ posts in my blog reader (I include reading blogs part of the entire blogging experience), because I should make time to hear what everyone else took time to say.

But, for sanity reasons, we all need to slack sometimes. Otherwise the pressure becomes too great and the fun just gets zapped out of the activity. And I don’t want that. I want fun.

Happy Birthday, America!

Warning: this post is about to become very patriotic. :)

In honor of the 4th of July, I’ve pulled together a few film clips with patriotic themes. While they may not all be literary in nature, they’ll definitely bring some nostalgia. This will be short and sweet, because I plan to exercise my independence by being outside from sunup until sundown enjoying nature, friends and family and great food! Enjoy!

1776

What more could you ask for when Mr. Feeny is playing John Adams? If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it. It might be long, but totally worth it!

Johnny Tremain

I read Johnny Tremain in middle school and while I only remember a few highlights, I’ll never forget watching the super cheesy scene where Johnny mauls his hand on the hot irons. However, the book and film ends with the Boston Tea Party and Sons of Liberty singing in the streets.

The Patriot

This scene is very powerful, especially when Mel Gibson’s character charges back towards the British, waving the flag for courage and inspiration. In my opinion, this was Heath Ledger in his prime. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this movie. The scene with the ink? Swoon.

School House Rock: The Preamble

School House Rock, nuff said.

Independence Day

Thankfully we haven’t had to fight an alien invasion, but the President is correct: today we do celebrate our Independence Day.

I’ll leave you with the Boston Pop’s fireworks show. Anne and I hope you have a fun, safe and enjoyable holiday!

What is your 4th of July tradition?

Review: The Queen’s Exiles

The Queen's Exiles by Barbara Kyle I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, guys. I totally judged a book by its cover. At first, I dismissed this because I thought the cover looked cheesy. But, I gave it another chance because I’m a big fan of historical fiction (if you couldn’t already tell). However, it’s always a gamble on whether or not it’ll read like YA or trying to decipher Old English, which I’ve done and is no picnic. And, even though The Queen’s Exiles is number six in the Thornleigh series, (which I found out after I requested it), it felt like I was catching up with an old friend.

I try to pick novels from unique perspectives and Barbara Kyle’s novel was no exception. I had no idea the Dutch had such a huge influence in helping Queen Elizabeth overthrow the Catholic and Spanish rebels. In my opinion historical fiction can be a little clunky starting off. And, with all the English supporters, Dutch rebels, Spanish and English usurpers, it was a little confusing at the start. With that said, once I got into the groove of the story, it was pretty obvious who was ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ Plus, when the story includes sword-fighting, brothels, dungeons, disguises, and swashbuckling sea adventures, how can it not be good?

Well, Fenella Doorn is my new favorite heroine. She not only owns her own ship salvage business on the small Isle of Sark but also completely owns her sexuality. Finally a woman not ashamed or afraid of her desires! Fenella is a spirited beautiful redhead, but her cheek has been marred by a severe scar. We learn Fenella was working as a prostitute in Scotland and one of her patrons attacked her with a beer bottle as she tried to flee the country. Escaping to the Netherlands, she finds a kind, caring husband in Claes Doorn. It isn’t long after we’re introduced to Fenella do we discover he was murdered by the Spanish invaders, and has been living and running her business with her crippled father-in-law for the past five years.

Adam Thornleigh is a dreamboat. He’s a Baron (but down to earth), wealthy and is a pirate leader of sorts to a group of English supporters and the Dutch Sea Beggars. All in league to rid the Netherlands of the Spanish and their contemptuous, merciless and bloody invasion. Thornleigh, too, was unlucky in love. After a short tryst with Princess turned Queen Elizabeth, he married a proper English noblewoman, Frances. However, Frances being Catholic agrees to a plot to assassinate the Queen. After her plan is foiled, Frances essentially kidnaps their two children (Kate and Robert) and has been a fugitive throughout Europe. She lands on her feet in the Spanish occupied Netherlands, waiting for her chance to bring down her husband.

Not knowing the previous stories, Kyle does an excellent job filling in the background as well as can be expected but without making it seem forced. We learn Fenella and Adam met before as they helped each other escape war-torn Scotland and sail to a safe haven. The two start kindling feelings for one another, but inevitably are forced to go their separate ways. However, when Adam’s ship is damaged and barely makes its way to Fenella’s shores, we see the kindle turn to bright flames.

I won’t go into the plot too much, since it’s somewhat difficult to summarize, so I’ll leave that to Goodreads. I will say this, there is an unexpected love triangle. But one that is actually believable and understandable. Yes, Adam is technically married, but when one tries to assassinate the Queen and kidnaps your children, I think it’s safe to say a divorce (or worse) is around the corner.

There are a host of characters in this novel, and from what I gather have been featured previously. This story primarily focuses on Fenella and Adam. Fenella is a strong character throughout the plot and isn’t reluctant to throw herself in harm’s way. She’s knowledgeable about sailing, fighting and gathering intel. Plus, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Adam, too, is a surprising character. He’s level-headed, benevolent and an honest and fair leader. A true gentleman.

What prevents me from giving this 5 stars is I have nothing to compare this to. It’s my first introduction to Kyle, but I won’t say it’ll be my last. I appreciate that Kyle took the time to set the historical framework in the beginning and also delineate fact from fiction at the end. While I was strongly connected to Fenella, I can’t say I’m interested enough in the other characters to go back and reread those stories. Kyle did admit Fenella was a minor character in a previous novel but decided to prominently feature her here. I can only hope there’s more Fenella in the future!

four rating book review

Would I read this again: Yes!
Will I read the next in the series: If it involves Fenella in a large way, then heck yes!

a character polygamist_lc

Have you read any books from this series? What do you like about historical fiction?