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28 February 2012

Haunted Lake, Lauralynn Elliot

Haunted LakeGuaranteed to give you chills...

Rachel Madison has it all.  With a successful art gallery, comfortable lifestyle, scads of friends clamoring for invitation to her parties, Rachel thinks little on serious matters.  But when a tragic accident steals her one true friend, Rachel rents a cabin at the secluded Misty Lake for a season of solitude and a healthy dose of soul searching.  During her stay, Rachel meets the eccentric and tortured owner, John, and fun loving, successful, and handsome Daniel.  The three slowly forge a bond as they discover that Misty Lake holds more than mere secrets in its murky depths.

Haunted Lake is the first book I've read by author Lauralynn Elliot, and I'll gladly buy another by this author.  Haunted Lake hints at eerie mystery from the first chapter, leading readers along with Rachel through the story to the unexpected conclusion.  Elliot's descriptions were vivid yet concise, capturing the scenery wonderfully, and I have my own mental pictures of Misty Lake, the cabins, and the surrounding walks, nooks, and forests.  Also worth mentioning is Elliot's masterful use of suspense and tension within the paranormal facet of the story.  Well Done!

Each character had a defined personality with strengths and weaknesses, lending a realistic and believable quality to the unfolding relationships.  Haunted Lake, in addition to being an eerie ghost tale, houses a romance.  I wasn't certain who the love interest, the villain, or the fall guy would be for a good piece of the story which kept my interest high as I wavered in my speculations.  The author nicely built and maintained tension between Rachel, Daniel, and John; however, there were a few instances where I got an odd and unwelcome three-some vibe, which is NOT a theme within the storyline.  Elliot actually writes a fairly chaste romance, but does so well.

My only criticism involves the ending - I have mixed feelings.  An unexpected twist adds interest and surprise, (Spoiler alert) yet the entity and the reason for its ultimate defeat is never fleshed out.  That being said, I greatly enjoyed the intense tension and emotions which continued to the very last pages while still affording my happy ending.

Overall Story - 4/5
Plot - 4/5
Hero - 5/5
Heroine - 4/5
Romance Heat - 3/5




~ Moira


21 February 2012

Broads On The Bake, Banana Bread

  Who doesn't have the bowl of bananas on the kitchen table? 

Bananas are a favorite in my household.  As quickly as I buy, they're gone.  Once in awhile, though, we allow them to ripen that one day too many, and no one will eat them.   Here's the best recipe I've found.

Three Way Banana Bread

 
Ingredients

*  1/2 cup Butter Flavored Crisco or butter

*  1 cup sugar

*  2 eggs

*  1 1/2 cup mashed, rip bananas - 4 medium

*  1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

*  2 cup unsifted flour

*  1 teaspoon baking soda

*  1/2 teaspoon salt

*  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*  1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

*  1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and sugar, then beat in eggs.  Stir in banana and lemon juice.  Mix together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and rind; blend into creamed mixture.  Stir in nuts.

For bread - Turn into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 55 min.  Cool.

For muffins - Spoon into 24 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cool.

For coffee cake - Turn into greased 9" square pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until cake is done.  Slice two bananas and arrange slices over top of cake.  Sprinkle with a topping of :
*  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
*  2 tablespoons butter (melted)
*  1/4 cup flaked coconut

Broil for 2 minutes or until topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

Enjoy!





~ Moira

16 February 2012

Tribute: Children of the Sidhe ~ One, J.R. Pearse Nelson

Tribute (Children of the Sidhe)

A Fresh Idea From Pearse Nelson

The first novella in the Children of the Sidhe series.

Hazel Fintan is the reluctant daughter of the Irish love god, Aengus. As much as she loves the Sidhe lifestyle, with baubles and leisure galore, she’s never cared for her father’s world. So who could expect her to be happy when she’s drawn into a conflict with a legendary race over an impossible tribute?

The tribute may be what brought them together, but Ian MacIlroy knows destiny when it stares him in the face with stunning green eyes and a gorgeous smile. Now he has a new mission. Hazel will be his, at any cost.
My Thoughts...

Tribute houses aspects I applaud as well as those I regret.  Pearse Nelson crafts a terrific premise in her novella, Tribute, earning a favorable mention from this Broad.  Owing a tribute to beings of the Fae - and the resulting drama produced when unable to deliver, made for an intriguing conflict - one I've not encountered before.  Kudos to Nelson for bringing the hero, Ian into Hazel's life so creatively.  However, Nelson's characterization of Hazel and Ian was rather flat, denying this reader a chance to connect emotionally with either the hero or heroine.  This missing component dampened my enthusiasm and hindered my enjoyment of Tribute.  Another problem was the lack of complex sentence structure and near absence of heartfelt, meaningful dialogue.  Tribute would WOW with these additional facets to Nelson's solid storyline. 

On the positive side, Tribute isn't a mere repeat of your 'run-of-the-mill' Fae story.  It holds a unique and interesting take on a popular topic.  Nelson clearly thought out her worlds with attention to detail.  Her middleworld and underworlds kept me wanting more, more, more, and the wide variation of creature, habitat, and rules in each realm was well done. 
Both the beautiful and grotesque were expressed without imposing goodness or evil on either side of the equation; I like this immensely!  Tribute is an easy read.  It has enough going for it that I loaded Vessel, the next in the series to my Kindle. 

Overall Rating - 3/5 stars
Storyline - 4/5
Hero - 2/5
Heroine - 2/5
World Building - 4/5
Romance/Erotica Heat - 3/5



~ Moira

14 February 2012

Welcome To Teaser Tuesdays

While browsing fellow reading blogs, I stopped by Pepca's post - Teaser Tuesdays.  What a great idea! 


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's my teaser....

One Hundred And One Nights: A Novel, Benjamin Buchholz
Buy At Amazon

One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel
Saturday

Layla visits in the evening, like most evenings, this evening no exception even after the passing of a day apart, this yesterday, the day my shop and every other shop closed for the Friday prayers.  She stands in shadow under the awning of my little store, my shack, as a golden sunset reflects its light against the overpass where the road from Basra to Kuwait and the even larger road from the port of Umm Qasr to Baghdad intersect.






~ Moira

11 February 2012

Coffee Talk...with Moira

Pull Up A Chair...and An Expresso!





Here's a link for Kindle owners...

Free Kindle Apps
Browse around these FREE Kindle apps!  One app recommended to the Broads allows you to view full color illustrations on your desktop for those great children's books on your beat up, black-and-white Kindle.  






Beauty Of A Woman Blogfest, hosted by August McLaughlin features some wonderful posts.  All about women and beauty, you'll laugh, cry, and relate to every woman's entry in some way.  I stumbled across it accidentally and wanted to share. 





Author, Matt Hofferth posted an interesting article cataloging the differences in book length.  Here's the long and short of it...get it..the 'long' and 'short'...(giggles at unintended funny)
  • Novel - Anything larger than 40k (so 50k is a safe assumption, it seems).
  • Novella - 17,500 and 40,000 words.
  • Novelette - 7,500 and 17,499 words.
  • Short Story - Up to 7,500 words. Anything under 1,000 can also be referred to as Flash Fiction, which is a subset of the Short Story.
What is your favorite story length?  I enjoy them all....

  Novellas are growing in popularity from what I'm seeing.  They're fun, easily devoured in a night or two, and usually inexpensive.  I've read a number of them in the past few weeks - I'll be posting reviews! - and will continue to do so.  That being said, I don't think the novel is going anywhere soon.  I gravitate toward long novels, probably because I tear through books at an alarming rate, never wanting the story to end!  Well, the good ones anyhow... What do you think?

~ Moira

06 February 2012

The Moon Coin, Richard Due

The Moon Coin (The Moon Realm Series)Nine Moons Make A Realm...An Oft Repeated Fact By Two Young, New Fans Of The Moon Coin

Author Richard Due has written a fabulous adventure for young minds to immerse themselves in mystery, discovery, wonder, and danger.  Jasper and Lily are wonderfully created characters, full of personality, life, and depth.  This fact endeared the book to me at once, as the brother and sister of Due's making lacked all the boredom, laziness, un-imaginative apathy, and mock-maturity of too many middle grade characters.  Eager to learn and acutely aware of right and wrong, Jasper and Lily engage in antics of youth with curious bliss rather than the dark brooding of misunderstood angst.

A read-aloud for younger children, The Moon Coin could be enjoyed through the middle grades easily.  Intricate sentence structure, vivid descriptions, and complexity of storyline make Due's offering a welcome treat for young readers/listeners.

I (Moira) read The Moon Coin aloud to my seven and eight year old sons; and believe me when I tell you, they begged for more.  The story, while quite detailed, held their interest throughout.  They would stop me to inquire about words they didn't understand (style points for Due in incorperating rich vocabulary) and then quiet down to listen once again.  The chapters are long, so be aware if you plan to read-aloud - bring a cup of tea!

The electrimals remained a favorite for both boys, but there was no lack of creativity to choose from.  Lunariums, Mr. Phixit, nine-sided windows, puzzles to solve, and clues to dicipher abound within The Moon Coin, earning my highest recommendation.
 ~ Moira

01 February 2012

The Moon Coin (The Moon Realm Series)Welcome author Richard Due and his wonderful, wonderful book.....
The Moon Coin

Gibbering Gnome Press Presents a Tale of Epic Fantasy-
For Lily and Jasper Winter, the Moon Realm began with a single secret bedtime tale. As the children grew older, Uncle Ebb enthralled them with thrilling tales of the Dragondain riding horse-sized, catlike Rinn; mysterious tales of peerin-wielding lunamancers manipulating the magic that lies just beneath the surface of reality; exciting tales of flying dragons, swimming merfolk, stomping giants, and troublesome faeries. But as the magic of their childhood faded, so too did the tales. Eventually, they were just . . . good stories.
Or were they?
Now, nine years after it all began, Uncle Ebb is missing.
Lily and Jasper search for clues, but their uncle's mansion is full of distractions. A Tesla generator thrums in the basement. Prismatic electrimals flit around walls resembling underwater reefs. Then a most unexpected friend comes to their aid, leading them to a hidden room where they find a mysterious coin—the moon coin. Before the night is out, Lily is transported to the real Moon Realm. But the moons are in trouble. The Rinn of Barreth are under siege, and the lunamancers of Dain are beset by the very dragons they once loved. Most horrifying of all, the moon Darwyth has fallen to a villain named Wrengfoul, whose creeping evil now threatens to overshadow all the Realm.
Are Lily and Jasper too late to save the Moon Realm, or will they have enough time to write an ending of their own?
Featuring twenty-two stunning full-color illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio. Volume One of the young adult fantasy adventure series The Moon Realm.
From Sketch to Chapter Art, an Illustrator at Work
For me, getting to work with Carolyn Arcabascio was a dream come true. On The Moon Coin, we worked from a master list of scene options, with Carolyn picking out scenes she liked and making sketches. For the prologue, Carolyn drafted three options. All three were great, but two in particular were spectacular. I first went with option 3 (one of my scene suggestions). I think we spent more time on this sketch and subsequent color drawing than on any other piece. But it never seemed right. At the eleventh hour, I asked Carolyn how hard she’d hit me if I suggested scrapping the thing and instead going with the pinky promise scene you see below (one of her scene suggestions).  Carolyn responded: "There would be no hitting involved!" and told me it wouldn't be a problem. You sure can't ask for better than that.
From the Prologue: Bedtime Tales.
Click on image to enlarge.
Richard: Did you make all these sketches in the same location, Carolyn?
Carolyn: Yes, I do all of my work at a drafting table that's situated in a little nook of my apartment in Acton, Massachusetts. There's a bookshelf to my right and a wall of "inspiration" to my left, where I hang prints of other artists' and illustrators' work. On either side of my drafting table are drawers of supplies, and stacks of sketchbooks and old paintings. The drafting table faces a window overlooking a quiet street and the woods beyond it.
From Chapter Two: A Coin of the Realm.
Click on image to enlarge.


Richard: Do you use models when you're sketching?
Carolyn: I use a combination of models and photo references. If I need to work out the nuances of a character's posture and really understand the perspective of it, I'll ask whatever friend or family member is handy to pose for a sketch. Often, I'll get into the position myself or mimic the facial expression I want to portray in order to get the feel of it. And sometimes, if there's a character being portrayed multiple times across scenes, I'll make a rough model of their head out of clay so I'll have it to refer to.
From Chapter Four: To Barreth.
Click on image to enlarge.


Richard: When drawing fantastical creatures, do you use bits and pieces of real animals for inspiration, or have you actually seen a wirtle and you're just not telling us? ;)
Carolyn: No wirtles native to Massachusetts, fortunately! When figuring out the look of fantastical creatures, I use photo references of different animals to understand the way the anatomy might work, and then combine features as I see fit and as the story calls for. To understand the wirtle's legs and paws, for example, I referred to a series of photographs of show dogs leaping over hurdles. The severely arched, scruffy back was influenced by photos of hyenas on the prowl. The bone-structure of the face ended up being something of a cross between a cow and a warthog, and I wanted the snout to be bare—kind of gross and raw-looking. Add it all up and, voila! We have a wirtle.
The Moon Coin, by Richard Due, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore for $2.99.

Copyright © 2011 by Richard Due. All rights reserved.
Gibbering Gnome Press, A Division of Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink™
The Moon Realm™

Links to the larger images (in order of appearance):
http://themoonrealm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/sketch2artworkprologueb2.jpg
http://themoonrealm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/sketch2artworkchaptertwosb1.jpg
http://themoonrealm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/sketch2artworkchapterthreesb.jpg
Cover image: http://themoonrealm.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/tmc-wp-image.jpg

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