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Monday Musings…Single & Satisfied

I recently read a book that put me in remembrance of a heroine trope I cannot understand: the single and satisfied trope.

It’s the romance novel, historical or contemporary, where the heroine has no desire for marriage. She is happily single. It doesn’t matter that the hero is the most amazing thing to cross her path. Nope, she is never getting married.

This is also known as the author who has no story to tell as it pertains to the heroine trope. Listen, I know single woman…of all ages. I am a single woman. And while many single women may be content with their circumstances, how many of them would run away from a good match? This trope doesn’t logically make sense in historical times, and seems like complete nonsense in contemporary times. Honestly, when I meet heroines like this, I just want to delete the book from my kindle and move on because she is already completely unrelatable.

So, how can you make this work as an author? You can make it so that the heroine has something specifically against the hero. And not just men in general. Maybe the hero is too young, too poor, too short, too silly. That gives credence to a woman’s hesitance. But being single and satisfied?

How do you feel about this trope?

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Steven James’ Curse

As Daniel Byers prepares to attend a basketball camp before his senior year of high school, the terrifying blurs that’ve plagued him for the last nine months return.

Dark images begin to haunt him—creatures crawling from the deepest pits of his nightmares, glimmers of chilling memories from his early childhood. But before he can unearth the meaning behind his mysterious hallucinations, Daniel must team up with two other extraordinary teens to save a young woman who has been abducted by a scientist obsessed with enacting his own warped form of justice.

This atmospheric mystery picks up where Fury left off and takes readers into the uncharted regions where reality and madness intertwine.


What I liked:

The mystery. Mr. James can craft some interesting, yet slightly creepy mysteries that can really keep you invested.

Daniel. He is a bit too perfect at times, but I like watching his mind work.

Unreliable narrator. It never gets old. The fact that Daniel can’t trust his mind makes him a fascinating hero.

What I didn’t like:

James introduces three new teenagers. While I had nothing against them, it just felt like too much.

Once again, I felt like James was trying to teach me a lesson in every other chapter whether it was through a mini-story or an explanation. I just found myself skimming. Not only did it really not fit the narration to me, I felt like I could tell you how the author was going to vote in the upcoming election. It’s one thing if the character thinks a certain way, but the way James hones in on things randomly makes me think the author thinks a certain way. And to be honest, it’s presented in a kind of high handed way as well.

Lastly, the teenagers rarely felt like teenagers. They acted and talked like adults. I mean, these kids thought deeply and would have only have random inserted moments of teenage thoughts and activity. I say this as a person who reads a ton of YA and lives with a teenager. I don’t care how smart the kid is, at the end of the day, lets be honest, teens are consumed with themselves.

Overall, this was kind of a chore to get through. I kept reading because the mystery was interesting, and I am a fan of James, but I wasn’t crazy about this book.

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Monday Musings…Secrets, and Why I Hate Them

I just recently read a romance novel, and the hero had secrets and the heroine had secrets and they would have moments where they were going to tell each other, but someone would arrive, or they would say something stupid to each other like ‘the past is the past’ and stop the other person from telling the secret. The secret, of course, being a major game changer in the novel.

Let me just say, I hate secrets in books.

They are such cop-outs. They drag a story along that doesn’t usually have a strong plot and then the other person finds out. And then there’s anger. And then the couple breaks up. And then the couple gets together again. It’s so formulaic and it’s almost patronizing. The only time they work, is if when the other person figures out the secret, they do not freak out, but instead trusts the other person. So, yeah, this rarely happens. If it did, it would mean that mature characters had been created who give each other the benefit of the doubt, and there would be an actual plot.

I have stopped reading certain authors because they use this formula over and over. I can think of only one author that I can completely count on to avoid deception and secrets: Roseanna M. White (not that every author relies on secrets, I just know when she has them, she doesn’t use them as a clutch).

How do you feel about secrets?


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Interview of Dave Neuendorf

Thank you for being willing to be interviewed on my blog!

1. What made you first interested in writing a book?

I’ve loved reading since the first grade, and I still read each day. Every time I read fiction, I either wish I could change the story in some way, or get inspired by something in the story to come up with my own. This went on for decades, until last year I thought, “why wait any longer?” and started my first fantasy novel. Another impetus was that I admitted to myself that I was never going to be able to afford to retire from software development. Maybe I could “retire” to a life of writing fiction. I thought it was worth a shot.

2. What made you decide to write a YA fantasy novel?

My fiction interests are fantasy, science fiction, and political thrillers. I’ve started one of each (though the sci-fi one is a short story), and the fantasy novel grabbed my interest more than the other two, so I decided to finish it first. As for YA, I’m not interested in presenting bad language, explicit sex, or extreme gore in my writing, so a YA audience seemed natural. Also, I believe that teens should not be talked down to. Many (including MS Word’s automated reading level tool) would say that my writing is too hard for teens. I have more respect than that for teen readers, and I like the idea of challenging them, within reason. I write the same way for teens that I would for adults. Incidentally, my main character is a teen that many reviewers have claimed is unnaturally smart. I’ve known many smart teens, was one myself along with many of my peers. I like to think that “average” teens can admire someone like that without feeling demeaned.

3. Which authors would you say have influenced your writing the most?

In the fantasy genre, L. E. Modesitt Jr.’s Imager Portfolio is an example of the style that I like. Also Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera and David Eddings’s Belgariad. In general, the coming-of-age wizard stories intrigue me the most. I’m also a sucker for any stories where someone has to build up an infrastructure from a primitive state, like Robinson Crusoe or David Weber’s Safehold series. There are elements of that in my book too.

4. When writing The Summoned King, how much of you or your life experiences do you feel became a part of the narrative?

My being bullied as a child and teen became a small part of the main character’s background. That provided the motivation for the main character, Jim, learning Krav Maga, the Israeli Defense Force self-defense system. I wish I had done that myself. Jim’s fear of public speaking is my own, and I used it when looking for weaknesses to give him. His shyness with young women came from the same source. His obsessions with learning many different things and developing many different skills came some from myself, but mostly from my oldest son, Christopher.

5. What are you working on now?

The Summoned King did not end with a cliff-hanger, but is obviously the first of a series, The Kalymbrian Chronicles (planned as a trilogy). That story needs to be completed, since a lot of people have read the first book, and they deserve closure. That’s my first priority. I’m also adding to the sci-fi short story, Jake’s Ladder, and the thriller, tentatively named Blood of Patriots, as I get inspired. And frankly, I’m spending a lot of time trying to get people to review The Summoned King, to attract more sales, which I need in order to retire someday.

I also have a pile of notes (on actual paper) of novel ideas that I’ve collected over the years. When I finish the current batch of writing, I’ll sort through those and pick some more to work on. If any of your readers have ideas they’d like to see become novels, I’d love to add them to the list.

If you want to learn more, check out:

Amazon book page:*Version*=1&*entries*=0&redirect=true

His author web site:

His Facebook author page:

His Goodreads author profile:

A link to the book’s preview:


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Tessa Afshar’s Land of Silence

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?


Let me start off by saying that Tessa Afhsar has written some of my favorite books…but I was disappointed at the subject matter of this one. I thought, it’s going to be sad and depressing. This book did have moments of sadness (like real sadness), I should have had more faith, because she still made this novel so good.

What I liked:

Elianna. You really get to know and understand Elianna. Though she had her flaws, she was a heroine I could get behind. She had some tragic things happen to her, and while she may have floundered a bit, when she found her footing it was something.

Ethan. Afshar writes some really good heroes. I loved Ethan because I loved the way he loved Elianna. Not just in word, but in deed.

History/Culture. One thing I love about Afhsar’s novels is that you get that rich, deep, detailed spotlight on the culture of the Middle East. Obviously in this book it’s Jewish and Roman culture. You manage to learn a lot without feeling like she’s stopping to teach you.

This story is about the woman with the issue of blood that Jesus heals in the Bible. I thought the entire book would be about her issue of blood. But it’s not. And I was glad that we got to learn about Elianna outside of her disease.

Spiritually, the novel grasps with serving and loving God in hard times and what that looks like.

What I didn’t like:

Ok. I’m not going to say what it was. But there was a situation that I didn’t care for. Kind of like a will they, won’t they? And I was like make up your mind!

Romantic Scale: 9

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. So looking forward to the next.

** I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion is not affected in anyway.**

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Monday Musings…Writing Update

So, I’ve been writing!!!

It might have to do with the break I took from reading this month (though I have tons of reviews to post). Through the Rivers is shaping up nicely. I thought I would share a bit about my heroine Katherine Jean Tate. Or Kate Tate.

I found this picture of a young Phylicia Rashad and I stopped. I was like, there’s Kate. This picture has all the sass that encompasses Truitt’s younger sister.

Kate is:


a former lounge singer,

unafraid of anything,

emotionally driven,

a lover of fashion,

and fun.

At least I think so, I hope you will too! Should be out around November or December of this year (possible sooner, but I would rather go long than short)!.

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Sins of the Past

In Dee Henderson’s Missing a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize her disappearance is no accident, and a race against the clock begins.

Dani Pettrey returns to Alaska with Shadowed introducing readers to the parents of her beloved McKenna clan. Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young fisherman nets the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may actually be a possible Russian defector.

Lynette Eason’s Blackout delivers the story of a woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found–but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when the true culprit comes after her?


Dee Henderson’s Missing-It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Dee Henderson. The mystery is fairly intriguing. I found myself almost skimming so I could find out what had happened. However, I had problems with two things: the romance and the detective work. The romance was kind of like, ‘hey, I’m single,’ ‘you’re single’ we should date. And the detective work felt real. I do not doubt Henderson’s research. It was just boring as a reader to go through all of their tasks. But it’s a solid mystery!

Dani Pettrey’s Shadowed-I was most excited about this novel as I love Pettrey’s Alaskan series. I’m going to admit that I didn’t love it that much. Most likely as a result of it being a novella. I just didn’t manage to connect to the main characters much, their romance felt rushed, and while it made since for hero to be involved in the investigation, it made no sense for the heroine to be involved. That said, added bonus for being the McKenna’s history.

Lynette Eason’s Blackout was my favorite. Most likely because in order for a novella to really be successful (in my opinion) you cannot have the hero and heroine meet for the first time. And in this novella, the hero and heroine had known each other for a while, so the foundation for a quick romance worked. The mystery was super interesting as well. Forgotten memories? Shootouts? Murder & Mayhem? Sold.

Overall, it was an enjoyable novella collection, that suffered a bit from being novellas. That said, you get a nice sample of various mysteries by fabulous authors.

**I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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What I’m Reading This Week

She can’t forget the man she walked away from . . .

Liza Beaumont knew she was playing with fire when she let smoke jumper Conner Young into her life. Just friends, she promised herself, but she couldn’t help but fall for the tall, blond firefighter who needed her. But loving him got her burned, and she’s not about to risk her heart again.

His one chance to get her back . . .

Conner Young knows he blew his one chance with Liza. His personal losses—and his profession—made him wary of offering any promises he couldn’t be sure he’d live to keep. So he let her walk away, but he never forgot the place she’d held in his heart.

A race to find a missing girl . . .

Until Liza is attacked in the mountains by a rogue grizzly. Her panicked phone call alerts Conner to everything he lost—and still wants. Now, with a teenage girl missing in the woods, and a predator on the loose, Conner and Liza must fight against time and the elements to save her. But when the old friendship ignites into fresh sparks, are they setting themselves up to get burned again? And when disaster happens, will their nightmares pull them apart, or will they find the courage to survive?

If science is right, then I am crazy. And crazy is dangerous.

In a world where nothing supernatural exists, Tess Eckhart is positive she’s going crazy. After her complete freakout at a high school party, her family is too. So much that they pack their bags and move across the country, next to a nationally-renowned facility for the mentally ill.

Tess is determined to fit in at her new school, despite the whispers and stares. But when it comes to Luka Williams, a reluctantly popular boy in her class, she’s unused to a stare that intense. Then the headaches start, and the seemingly prophetic dreams that haunt her at night. As Tess tries harder to hide them, she becomes increasingly convinced that Luka knows something–that he might somehow be responsible.

But what if she’s wrong? What if Luka Williams is the only thing separating her from a madness too terrifying to fathom?

I’ve had this book for ages, and finally started reading it. It’s good guys. Really good. Book two here I come!

When Cimarron ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Badly injured, Chance demands that his will be read and its conditions be enforced immediately.

Without anyone else to serve as a witness, Heath is pressed into reading the will. If Justin, Sadie, and Cole Boden don’t live and work at home for the entire year, the ranch will go to their low-down cousin Mike.

Then Heath discovers the avalanche was a murder attempt, and more danger might follow. Deeply involved with the family, Heath’s desire to protect Sadie goes far beyond friendship. The danger keeps them close together, and their feelings grow until being apart is the last thing on their minds.

What are you reading this week?

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Robert Whitlow’s The Witnesses

Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.

Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.


I am fortunate enough to appreciate Mr. Whitlow on three levels: a) as a lawyer b)as a believer & c) as a reader. My thoughts on his latest book

What I liked:

The spiritual aspect of it. The novel deals with the ability to ‘see’ things spiritually whether it’s the future or where someone or something is located or whether someone or something is important. I loved the idea of someone moving in a gift of God in that way. It never felt silly or like parlor games, but instead felt like the more you know God, the more you can move in the ways of God. And some of those gifts may be hereditary (at least according to this book)

The law. I can tell you as a lawyer, I got exhausted reading about Parker’s case load. All the legal stuff felt so accurate to me, it almost felt like I reading about days in my office.

Parker and Frank. I loved their relationship. I loved watching both of them grow spiritually. They were great narrators.

The mystery. WWII stuff guys. It’s good.

What I didn’t like:

The romance. The girl was just too opinionated. I think she worked for the story and the mystery, but I wasn’t sold on why Parker would want to be with her.

Romantic scale: 6

Overall, a fantastic read from Robert Whitlow.

** I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**