Author Interview: Cyana Gaffney

VEILED by Cyana Gaffney

cyana-gaffney-author-profile

Q & A With Cyana Gaffney

Q: What made you sit down and start writing your first book?

A: I’ve always had crazy, vivid dreams. So one night I had an intense dream where I was hiding in a spice market from a group of men. My husband was at the other end of the tent, and I was trying to figure out how to get his attention, but yet not alert these men. I won’t give more details as that would give away some part of the book, but when I woke up, the first thought I had was “wow that would make a great novel.” And so I sat down and started researching how to write, details for my book, and then got to writing. It has been quite the wild journey.

Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

A: Briefly, but then I thought that, hey I’m me and it took me a long time to be okay with being me… so… it would be silly to “be someone” else now. So, Cyana Gaffney, it is.

Q: Are you friends with any other authors, and if so, how do they help you become a better writer?

A: I know a few authors, but at this point, we are just starting to share our journey with each other. The exception is Ruth Johnstone (a lovely woman) who wrote: When Troubles Fall Like Lemon Drops. She gave me some great advice. She said, “It’s great to get writing your next book, but don’t forget to market VEILED. When VEILED takes off, that will help bring in income so that you can work less, which then will free up time so you can spend more time writing.”

Q: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?

A: No superstitions. But I do have a very specific process before I start writing. I sit down and write in bullet point form, all the events of the book that I know I want to have. Sometimes this starts with just a handful of ideas. Then I take two of those points and ask myself how I could connect them. I keep up this process until the full outline has been written out and I have a clear picture of the entire storyline and how the characters will develop. This process saves me SO much time by not having to rewrite things or discard parts when I realize they don’t fit or hit a wall and need to change directions. It’s so much easier to think through that beforehand rather than make those adjustments later on. Changing bullet points are far easier than going back and editing chapters to make them fit and flow.

Q: What was the strangest thing you had to research online for your book?

A: Hmm, maybe the effects of different type of bombs on a human body. It was interesting to learn about, but it felts like a weird thing to know.

Q: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

A: Two things: 1) I purchased a Chromebook. It’s small, light and so easy to transport back and forth from home to coffee shops. It also has an incredibly long battery life. 2) A grammar program that I purchased for assisting with the second edition of VEILED. I will be using this for all my writing from now on. For the first edition of VEILED, I had six people review it, and we all missed stuff. And while editors do a great job, I just didn’t want to invest that kind of money at this point. So this program corrects while I write and saves me a lot of time re-reading my manuscripts. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is reading something so many times just to try and find things like missing commas… dull, dull, dull!!

Q: How did you select the names of your characters?

A: For the American characters, it was pretty simple – I thought of names I liked and that sound good together. For some of the foreign names, I had a bit of fun with them. I went to a site for Muslim baby names and picked names based on the meaning. I wanted to have a name that embodied a personality trait of that character. For example, Ghada means delicate, young girl.

Q: Did you come across any specific challenges in writing VEILED? What would you do differently the next time?

A: Well because I looked at writing as a hobby at first, I didn’t set any deadlines or goals. Which aided in it taking me years to write VEILED. There were sometimes years between me working on it, and I would forget some of the character development I had done earlier and therefore, I unknowingly duplicated it later on in the story. This duplication made it wordy and turned parts of my book into ‘drama queen mush.’ I had to do a lot of thoughtful editing and cutting out which took time. I have now added character development points to my outline process. This way I don’t fall into the same trap, and therefore, I don’t waste my writing time by duplicating work.

Q: How long on average did it take you to write the book?

A: I think I started it in 2004 or 2005. There were months on end that you would find me at the coffee shop every weekend, but then years where I wouldn’t touch it. As hobbies go, sometimes you take time for them and sometimes you don’t. But my goal for the next book is 5-6 months.

Q: Does your family support your career as a writer?

A: Yes, they are very supportive. They all loved VEILED and are pushing me to keep writing. My daughter, unbeknownst to me, took an article about me in the paper and went around to all the teachers in her whole school and invited them to the book launch party. It’s super encouraging to have such a great cheering section.

Q: What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

A: Well I’m in the process of writing the sequel to VEILED, called THE SAND BRIDE. So… I would say that I’m in big support of it – haha. But I’m stopping this series after that and not making it into a trilogy. I think you need to be careful with series and not push it past where the characters can realistically go, and common sense ends in regards to scenes/events. You need to write great scenes that push your characters to grow and adapt, but you need to know when to let it end and be okay letting those characters go.

Q: What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?

A: Card/board games and volleyball.

Q: What type of books did you read in preparation for writing VEILED?

A: Actually, I tried not to read anything during the bulk of writing VEILED. I didn’t want to be affected too much by others creative take on the subjects I was covering. My mind can sometimes have a tendency to latch on to great ideas, and once that happens, it’s hard to separate from it and move on to create my story. I wanted this book to be mine and not chance getting hung up. So I limited my reading to research.

Q: If you could go for coffee with any of your characters who would it be?

A: Sarna – I would love to have longer conversations with her about her life and her perspectives.

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

A: I had never considered that I would be a writer. But once I held VEILED in my hands, I realized just how much I loved getting it to that stage. I discovered that this is what I wanted to do from now on and I couldn’t wait to start writing the sequel.

Q: What advice would you give to children who are interested in creative writing?

A: If you want to write, you will go on a journey that is all your own as you learn your style, and what you want subjects you’d like to cover. Don’t feel discouraged or sad if your path doesn’t look like someone else’s. BE YOU!! That’s beautiful, so don’t take that away from the world by trying to copy someone else or what they do.

Q: Are you hoping to write a second novel and if so, do you have any ideas as to what type of novel you would like to write in the future?

A: Well as previously mentioned, I’m writing the sequel to VEILED called THE SAND BRIDE. But I also have another book idea all ready to go, called THE DOOR. For both of those books, I want them to get my readers to take an honest look at difficult subjects and have that challenge them to heal and grow.

Q: If someone wanted to buy a copy of VEILED where can they get the book?

A: You can buy it on my website: cyanagaffney.com, and you can also purchase it on all the Amazon websites. It will also be available in select bookstores in the Edmonton area by the end of February.

I just want to say a big THANK-YOU!! to Cyana Gaffney for consenting to an interview about her new book VEILED

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book you can do so on Cyana’s website: cyanagaffney.com

Or on Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/Veiled-Cyana-Gaffney/dp/1540496082

Happy READING!

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Setting Reading Goals & Annual Reading Challenges

Now that 2017 is firmly underway, what sort of reading challenge have you set for yourself? Some people struggle to read one book a month and others are like a sponge and cannot find enough books to read. With annual events like Family Literacy Day and Summer Reading Games participating in literacy awareness can be easy. Schools host Book Fairs and the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week as well as many new baby programs now include a free book to families with their newborn packages.  Many libraries in Alberta even offer free library cards; I believe access to libraries and their services should be free across Canada, why not?

When it comes to reading goals, do you include your family in your challenge or just plan it for yourself? I tend to not include my children in my reading goals but I do include any chapter books that I read to them in my yearly book count. My kids do like to participate in our local library’s annual Summer Reading Game and it challenges them to try new types of books and find fun ways to read. Recording your books on a website such like Goodreads is an easy way to keep track of all the titles you have read and helps you track your progress. In addition, Goodreads has book giveaways you can enter to win free books; sometimes just reading through the list of giveaways on Goodreads can spark your interest in a genre that you may not have considered trying before.

@Savvyreader also has a 50 Book Pledge website up and running for 2017 which is another great way to record the books you read this year, write some book reviews and connect with other readers.

I have done a bit of research and people seem to love book challenges that want you to read specific types of books, ie. “read a book written by a Canadian author”. Popsugar has a checklist style book challenge for 2017 which is printable: http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2017-42561300. Furthermore, you can record your progress in this challenge and join the group with the many other readers also aspiring to this goal on Goodreads called the Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge group.

If you are loyal to very specific genres, you might want to try looking through this website with the “Master List” of reading challenges. This list is sure to have a reading challenge for just about anyone.

For those just starting out and wanting something different, a good starting place is always the Canada Reads Longlist. The 5 finalists from this list are posted on January 31, 2017.

We will all get to a point in our book challenges in 2017 when we are at a loss of what book to try next. I would recommend then turning to some of your favourite authors websites and blogs and see what they are reading. Chances are good that you will also like many of the same books your favourite author is reading and might even find another favourite author to add to your list. Another option is to try to find something local. Has anyone in your city/town recently published a book? You would probably be surprised at how many people you know that will know someone else who has written and published a book. Supporting local authors is important and helps to build a sense of community.

Here is a list of some of recently published books I am looking forward to reading for my 2017 READ50 list:

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Witch Switch by Sibeal Pounder (Arc Book Courtesy of Goodread’s giveaway)

Veiled by Cyana Gaffney (Leduc, AB local author)

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Literacy Day January 27, 2017

As an avid reader and mother of two, I am really excited for Family Literacy Day January 27th, 2017! It is a chance for us to actively try to spend at least 15 minutes of our day reading to ourselves, to our children, and/or to play any sort of game with our family that includes reading. Many libraries and schools across Canada are participating in different Family Literacy Day events for good reason. In a statement from the Government of Canada:

“Strong literacy and essential skills are so important for children’s success at school and adults’ success at work. That is why our government is investing in skills development and proudly joining Canadians in celebrating Family Literacy Day” http://www.cdnsba.org/new-site-fr/?p=856

 

The Leduc Public Library is hosting an event for Family Literacy Day and is also part of a Canada wide challenge to read ANYTHING for 15 minutes (this also includes blogs, web sites, magazines). Leduc Public Library web site for Family Literacy Day: http://www.leduclibrary.ca/content/family-literacy-events Make sure to log your 15 minutes of reading tomorrow on this website to help Leduc be the most “read” city in Canada this year!

There are also events all across Canada and a list by Province can be found here: http://abclifeliteracy.ca/events

There are so many ways to include reading in your family activities. We love to read to our children at bedtime, even our son who is 9 has always looked forward to getting another few chapters read to him at the end of the day (our current series is “The 39 Clues“). Reading not only helps him calm down before bed but also requires us as parents to stop whatever household chores etc. that we are doing and spend some time with our kids. After years of reading to our kids, it is nice to see them excited to bring home their school library books or pick out new books at our Public Library. Kids take so much pride in their reading skills as well. They get excited to show you how they can read and I think it is important to give them a chance to read to you once in a while too. Occasionally if my kids are bored or I am busy I will even get my older child to read a book his younger sibling. I always think he will refuse when I ask him but he takes so much pride in knowing how to read that he will sit and read it to his sister using as much inflection as he knows how to at his age.

For some lists of books that are age appropriate for your children I found a few good websites which categorize book recommendations based on age: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-lists (this site also has app recommendations for learning and vocabulary games etc.) and http://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading

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Progress! January Reads

My READ50 for 2017 is off to a good start. Some months I find I have more time and interest in reading than others and January has been a busy reading month for me. So far I have read 7 books for my reading challenge this year. My list of to-read books is getting shorter though so if anyone has any recommendations for me please feel free to comment and suggest some!

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Some of my thoughts on a few of my January reads:

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams & Lauren Willig 

3 stars out of 5

This book is worth giving a consideration. With romance, a historical home and three women from one family lineage, The Forgotten Room is an engaging historical fiction. The story moves between three different women but if you pay attention it is not difficult to follow the diverging plots. It is even more interesting when you realize that it was written by three different authors all working together and taking turns at different parts of the plot. The story itself is a bit unbelievable but sometimes that is what we hope for in a novel, that it will take us somewhere other than real life. I didn’t think it was outstanding but definitely worth a 3 star rating in my opinion.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery, #1) by Susan Elia MacNeal

4 stars out of 5

Despite receiving some bad reviews on GoodReads, I actually really enjoyed this book and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another novel in the series. It is really not as bad as some reviewers make it out to be. Yes Maggie, the heroine, was a little naive but women in general were not given a lot of responsibility during that period in history. I appreciated the author’s notes at the end of the book where she describes her conversations and correspondences with real war time secretaries. One lady interviewed mentioned that in real life their secretarial responsibilities were definitely not exciting or glamorous and they certainly did not have time for romance. Obviously a fictional novel wouldn’t be as exciting or fun to read if the author only wrote about the lonely and dark lives of the secretaries during war times. All in all I liked it and give it 4 out of 5.

The Whistler by John Grisham

3 out of 5 stars

I think time for big expectations and hype with John Grisham novels has come and gone. I enjoyed reading The Whistler but it fell short in some ways. There were moments when it captivates you and others when you just want to skip a few pages of lengthy detail. Lucy, the heroine, works for the Florida Bureau of Judicial Conduct and she and her partner Hugo are asked to investigate the fraud of a long serving and influential judge. The fraud involves large sums of offshore money, unexplained murders and a Casino run on Native American lands. There are some unexpected twists in the plot but for the most part the narrative is smooth and somewhat predictable. Furthermore, the end of the book feels rushed and anti-climactic. Grisham neatly wraps up all loose ends in the conclusion by foregoing narrative and just recaps the events so you can end the book. The ending feels rushed and unfulfilling. I would still recommend this book but I will definitely have lower expectations for any new John Grisham books that might be published.

Death of An Avid Reader by Frances Brody

3 stars out of 5

I took a chance on trying to find a new mystery novel series with a female heroine. Death of An Avid Reader was harder to get into than I was hoping. In the first few chapters I couldn’t figure out what story thread I was trying to follow as Kate Shackelton, the main character, was jumping all over the U.K. After the third chapter I couldn’t figure out what was going on and almost gave up. I kept plodding through and eventually the story started to make sense and I began to recognize the characters. I think there were just too many unintroduced characters in this novel to make it successful. It was difficult to follow and more than a few times I was completely lost to who a character was when a name was mentioned. By the end of the book I enjoyed the main thread of the story and I would pickup a second book in the series just to see if some of those characterization and plot problems have been worked out in subsequent books.

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READ50 2017 to be continued..

READ50 2017 Here I Come!

My list of to-read books for this year is quite short so if anyone has any recommendations let me know! I love book series, Historical Fiction, Cookbooks, Mystery and many other genres so feel free to comment with some recommendations!

Here is my to-read list so far:

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

The Whistler (Whistler, #1) by John Grisham

 

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

 

All In (Only One Night, #1) by Simona Ahrnstedt

 

Death of an Avid Reader (Kate Shackelton, #6) by Frances Brody

 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

 

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig

 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

 

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

The Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1) by Elizabeth Peters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My READ50 for 2016!

Well 2016 was a busy year and looking back I find that I really did not do very many book reviews. I did manage to complete my READ50 challenge for yet another year and I believe my final total was ~52 books for 2016! Although I did not review all of the books I read, I do want to tell you about a few of my favourite books and series as well as a few undiscovered authors that you may or may not have heard of. But first, take a quick look at the titles I did read and see if there are any that pique your interest for the upcoming year.

Link to Adrienne’s GoodReads List for 2016

 

By Gaslight by Steven Price

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28007842-by-gaslight?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

William Pinkerton hunting Adam Foole; a private detective versus a notorious thief. Just like his father before him, Pinkerton spends his life chasing a ghost thief name Shade in this historical/crime fiction novel. I really enjoyed this novel and it kept me engaged in the storyline and was easy to follow even with some time-shifting. The author, Steven Price, does do away with typographical convention though and removed all dialogue quotation marks. This reading style does take a bit of getting used to but after the first chapter I found it did not bother me.

The 39 Clues series by Rick Riordan

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8941418-the-39-clues-complete-collection?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

My son really enjoys this series. It is one of his favourites to have us read aloud to him at bedtime. We go back and forth between “The 39 Clues” original series books and “The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers” series which is in succession to the first series. I would recommend only reading it to the older children and young teens as it can be violent sometimes. The writing style in the novels can be difficult at times when reading aloud I find I often have to either leave out words or add words to make it sound grammatically correct.

Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling by Tessa Huff

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26240710-layered?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

What a great cake book! I was so excited when this book arrived in the mail and I will be honest, I rarely spend $ on new books. I recently made a new cake and used the Buttercream recipe from “Layered” and it turned out simply delicious, like whipped cream consistency and so yummy. Super baking book and I would highly recommend. If you want to see my cake creation, check out my blog post using Tessa Huffs buttercream recipe: http://wp.me/p3QU1I-9M

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King

https://www.goodreads.com/series/40966-mary-russell-and-sherlock-holmes

This is definitely my favourite series of 2016. I was sad to reach the end of the books and wished there were more to come! In September of 2016 the final book was published which is a collection of short stories; Mary Russell’s War: And Other Stories of Suspense

The Mapmakers Trilogy by S.E.Grove

These three books are for any Science Fiction / Fantasy readers out there. It is a juvenile series but I found it entertaining and enjoyable to read. It can be dark and I am not sure I would let my child read it but definitely fine for teenagers and older. The trilogy follows the lives of Sophia, her uncle Shadrack and her friend Theo. They traverse through different lands all the while learning that time itself can be abstract. Each land they visit they experience different types of people and creatures and have to discern who to trust and who they should not. I found the characterization a bit shallow but the imagination and fun in each of these novels was enough to keep me reading. So much creativity in these books; how S.E. Grove was able to think up such a wild and exciting world I cannot begin to imagine. The books in order are:

  1. The Glass Sentence
  2. The Golden Specific
  3. The Crimson Screw

https://www.goodreads.com/series/118416-the-mapmakers-trilogy

These are my top books for 2016 and I hope to have many more books to share in 2017! Please feel free to comment on what your favourite books were for the year as I am always looking for suggestions. ~ Adrienne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MY READ50 Finale for 2015!

2015 is all finished and so is my READ50 list for 2015 (full READ50 list http://wp.me/P5G0BQ-m). I am a day behind in getting my post up for my list but here it is! I am looking forward to another year of great books and always appreciate any recommendations from friends.

One of the first books up on my READ12483610_10153688307355700_546424048_n50 list for 2016 is pre-release book I was gifted by author Nikki A. Lamers: The Unforgettable Summer. I will hopefully have a review on it for you soon.  

I am also looking forward to a few reads that I never got to in 2015:

  • The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny, Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory, and Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha  Van Leer. 

50 ~ What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss

Book #50 of my READ50 for 2015!!!

My daughter was gifted this book at Christmas. It is a Dr. Seuss book which was not published during his lifetime (posthumously, to be grammatically correct). I will give you the one line response from my children once we finished reading it (see below). It will basically explain everything that you will need to know about this book.

But first, I want to explain what was going through my head as I was reading it to my children. The book starts with all sorts of pets that Jay and Kay could get. As I am reading I can’t help but think this book can only end poorly if the kids can only choose ONE pet and they start out already wanting both a dog AND a cat. Someone is going to be upset, either the dog lover or the cat lover, etc. Then you add in a fish and a Yent – of course we all know what a YENT is right? And then things just get very complicated by adding in a hypothetical angry Dad which can also only mean disaster for Jay and Kay (insert visual on Dad mandating time-outs and Jay and Kay having melt-downs). After all of this going through my head while I am reading the story, I am met with a very abrupt and inconclusive ending. I am left feeling undecided about how much I like this book. I know I am not alone in this because I have since watched the faces of many adults as they read What Pet Should I Get? only to laugh and say “I know, right!?!”

And so, I will leave you to my spoiler ending and wish you happy reading for 2016!

***Contains a spoiler.

Tukari and Brynn collectively:
“So, we don’t get to find out what pet they get? That’s dumb.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24968109-what-pet-should-i-get?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

49 ~ A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell Mystery, Book 1)

My favourite author! I really liked Veronica Speedwell and this seems like a fresh new series for Deanna Raybourn. I did find some of the descriptions to be a bit repetitive. We understand that Veronica is different, unusual etc. but reminding the readers over and over again gets annoying. Otherwise a great fun read and I always look forward to reading Deanna Raybourn’s books. Honestly her novels are some of the only books I have read multiple times.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23160039-a-curious-beginning?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

48 ~ The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #1)

Tops my fav 5 list for 2015. I can’t wait to read some of the other books in this series. I love mysteries and what is better than a female heroine who is partnered with the famous Sherlock Holmes? I can’t say I have ever REALLY read a book about Sherlock Holmes but I have watched enough TV in my life to understand his character. I enjoyed getting to know Sherlock Holmes from the perspective of Mary. At the young age of 15, Mary becomes Holmes’ apprentice after dazzling him with her intelligence and quick wit. Mary is strong and self-assured but clearly has need of friendship after her family is killed in an accident. Holmes’ takes Mary under his wing and trains her in the art of solving mysteries and how to be a successful detective. Along the way it becomes apparent that Mary and Holmes each have their own strengths and they learn to rely upon each other the most when their lives are at risk. I really appreciate Mary’s desire to learn and take control of her own life while acknowledging that she still needs the guidance and experience of her mentor. Mary is a strong heroine but I also learned a lot about Sherlock Holmes through reading this book. I can’t wait to read more of Mary and Holmes’ adventures in the rest of the books in this series.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91661.The_Beekeeper_s_Apprentice?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

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The Final Countdown

Happy Holidays! It’s the last month for my 2015 READ50 challenge and I only have 3 more books to go!

I have finished up the last published books in the C.S. Harris series Sebastian St. Cyr. I really enjoyed all of these books. At the core of each of the stories is a little piece of true British and/or French history as well as some conspiracy theories which the author uses as inspiration for her fictional tales. The historical aspects of the novels are what draw me in and the author does a good job at making the events in the story seem historically believable.

I would classify this series as solidly in the Historical Fiction genre but leaning slightly towards Mystery. Romance is not prevalent in the themes of these novels but rather they are mysteries full of revenge, conspiracy and murder. Some threads in the storyline progress very slowly and leave me wishing there was more development to Sebastian and Hero’s characters from novel to novel. I find as a reader I only get tiny bits of what Sebastian and Hero are thinking. Furthermore, Hero plays a very small role in the last few novels. It would be nice if she came more to the forefront in the next book(s) in the series because I think she has the makings of a strong heroine.

C. S. Harris’ next book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, When Falcons Fall, is scheduled to be published March 01, 2016. If you are looking for a good mystery series I highly recommend these books. For those in the Leduc Public Library system you usually have to request the books as they all seem to be scattered around Alberta rather than one library holding the entire series.

P.S. Random fact: The author C.S. Harris is just a pen name and the author’s real name is Candice Proctor. She also pens under the name C.S. Graham for a Thriller Series. http://www.csharris.net/author.php

47 ~ Who Buries the Dead by C. S. Harris

  • Beheadings, Slave Traders and Murder

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18590094-who-buries-the-dead?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

46 ~ Why King’s Confess by C. S. Harris

  • Lost Dauphin, Peace talks between France and England, French Revolution

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114102-why-kings-confess?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

45 ~ When Maiden’s Mourn by C. S. Harris

  •  Camelot, Lady of Shallot, Murder of Upper Class Maiden

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11879594-when-maidens-mourn?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

44 ~ Where Shadows Dance by C. S. Harris

  •  International Politics, Natural vs. Unnatural Death, Lies and Diplomacy

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8450509-where-shadows-dance?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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READ50 Books ~ 40, 41, 42 and 43

It’s not long now until 2015 is over! Christmas is coming up quickly! Some of the books leading up to the end of my READ50 list are: The Bee Keepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King, The Painted Lady by David Ashton, Who Buries the Dead, When Maidens Mourn, Why Kings Confess (all by C. S. Harris).

43 ~ Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew

LOVED it! I think this novel just made my top 5 books for 2015. I thought the idea of blending food and recipes with a strong female heroine were the perfect mix. Tannie Maria is a superb character. I envy her forcefulness and her desire to make the most out of her life. Tannie Maria goes through a tough marriage and comes out a better person; through her experiences she is able to discover what she is passionate about. Her concern for those around her also seems very genuine. Sally Andrews does an excellent job at portraying life in the small village in South Africa. Tannie Maria lives in the Klein Karoo in a remote house where she enjoys testing new recipes, feeding her chickens and sitting on her deck with a coffee while watching the wildlife. To make some money, Tannie Maria is happy working for the Gazette writing a food column only to have her column changed to a love AND food advice column. She starts to receive all sorts of letters from readers asking for love advice and in return Tannie Maria writes back with honest love advice along with recipes which she believes will help their situations. Tannie Maria believes that different foods can help different situations and she is constantly cooking and bringing people food. BUT don’t be tricked by all my talk of food, there is a murder mystery underneath all the yummy cooking. It takes the whole village to work together to solve the murder(s) and even a few handsome police officers.

Definitely you should read this book!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26010158-recipes-for-love-and-murder

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2874812.Sally_Andrew

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1435836813

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/38629860-adrienne-b

42 ~ What Remains of Heaven by C. S. Harris (Book #5 Sebastian St. Cyr Series)

I have been really enjoying this series. A mystery with a little bit of suspense and romance thrown in; I can’t wait to get to the next books.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6423507-what-remains-of-heaven

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22067.C_S_Harrishttps://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1435834404

41 ~ The Next Always by Nora Roberts (Book 1 of Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy)

Not horrible, but a 3 star. This novel has a great cover which piqued my interest but the storyline felt a bit forced and elaborated. The descriptions of the Inn were in-depth to say the least and the stalker Sam felt like he was added in as an afterthought to add drama. A quick read and a feel good novel but fell a bit short for me on content. Interesting to find out that Nora Roberts and her husband actually renovated and own the Inn.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10305231-the-next-always?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

40 ~ Where Serpents Sleep by C. S. Harris (Book #4 Sebastian St. Cyr Series)

A fun easy read. Not a romance really, more of a mystery/detective novel. I read the first book in the series and didn’t love it but decided to give it another chance. Just starting book #5. I appreciated that there was enough mystery and action to keep to me interested and wanting to find out who was killing everyone and why. The story has Hero Jarvis, who is very independent and an early feminist type character. She claims that she does not want to get married but would not mind having children of her own if she could without society rejecting her. She follows class protocol most of the time but occasionally throws it off to accomplish her own agenda. Secondly there is Sebastian who is trying to recover from his heartbreak with Kat. He is not ready for a relationship either but he and Hero work well together in solving the murders.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3142581-where-serpents-sleep?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

 

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The Other Daughter, Circling the Sun and Orphan #8 (37, 38, 39)

39 ~ Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

I found this book a bit tough to get through. I was intrigued by the historical plot of Jewish Orphans but quickly realized it was in fact quite horrible for the orphans at the Hebrew Infant Asylum (Hebrew Infant Home in the novel). I don’t mind learning about history but I found each time the novel had a flashback to Rachel Rabinowitz’s life at the Orphan Home I wanted to skim read. Experimentation on children and the lifelong impact on the children’s general wellbeing is hard to read about. I remember not thinking much of Rachel’s description of her bright red hair until mid book when I realized what that was foreshadowing (the permanent loss of hair due to excessive X-rays). Orphan #8 was also a great deal more historical than cultural, as a reader I wanted a bit more of the Jewish heritage to come through.

On a side note, I agree with other reviewers on the fact that Rachel’s love life didn’t seem to fit the story. Rachel’s history is complex enough with the murder of her mother and Rachel and her brother being sent to the Hebrew Infant Home, therefore, I’m not sure if her being a lesbian really adds to her overall character development. I would have liked to hear more about her relationship with her brother and possibly any other connections from her childhood experiences that she carried with her into adulthood.

Orphan #8 manages to capture a dark time in history and I think because of its uniqueness it is very memorable.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23287179-orphan-number-eight

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6306189.Kim_van_Alkemade

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1361928222

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/38629860-adrienne-b

38~ Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Circling the Sun was a pleasant surprise. I had previously read  The Paris Wife also by Paula McLain and not really liked much about it. I gave this novel a try because I love historical fiction and the plot of British ex-pats in colonial Africa really intrigued me. Circling the Sun is a historical novel which bases its plot on the life and events of Beryl Markham in a fictional way.

Beryl Markham was not only the first female to fly solo over the Atlantic from Europe but she was also many other things. Beryl was a farmer, a horse trainer, a wife, a pilot and later in life, an author. She was an independent thinker and very ambitious. Raised on a farm in Kenya by her father, Beryl learned to fend for herself even after consecutive failures. She wrote a memoir about all of her adventures in 1942 but it was not well received at the time. Her memoir West with the Night wouldn’t become popular until it was re-released in 1983, 3 years before Beryl’s death.

If you are intrigued by the life of Beryl Markham I would highly suggest reading Circling the Sun.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23995231-circling-the-sun

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/290189.Paula_McLain

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1420520244

37 ~ The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig

A short and easy read but still an enjoyable novel. The plot was unique for this genre but the romantic interests weren’t entirely convincing. Not much to review on this book but the plot could be summaries as:

-Rachel finds out that she is actually the daughter of an Earl and resorts to a disguise to gain herself access to the family.

-She is befriended by Simon who hopes to further his own agenda by helping Rachel confront her father.

-Rachel soon finds herself in the midst of many family secrets as she discovers half siblings and extended family that were previously unbeknownst to her.

-The illusion of a love triangle seems to shatter leaving an opening for Rachel to swoop in and claim her happy ending.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23014679-the-other-daughter?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

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