The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I hope everyone’s summer is going well. I’m deep into edits on my fantasy series and a new romance story. Plus we decided to renovate. Just one room, but boy, does that list grow when you start a simple thing like painting the ceiling. But I did managed to find some time to pick up a book or two, and I thought I’d share one of my recent reads with you.the-great-alone-kristin-hannah

Kristin Hannah did it to me again. I always know I’m going to be up late and crying my eyes out when I pick up one of her books. The Great Alone didn’t stray from that pattern. Leni is a formidable kid tossed into a swirling vortex of survival from all different angles. Ms. Hannah shows us the gritty side of life on the Alaskan frontier, giving us an in depth look at life at it’s very basic: the need for food, heat, shelter.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t ready to stare the horror of PTSD in the face. Ernt is not a man I could like. But the resilience of the women kept me reading. Especially Leni, who at thirteen, is tossed into the wild, so to speak. She learns the hard way that the only person she can count on is herself. Well, maybe there’s one other person. 🙂

I cried for about the last 150 pages of this story. It was a cathartic cry, and I was so glad I kept reading all the way to the end. As with every single Kristin Hannah story I’ve read, it was worth it. So yes, this story is a highly recommend from me. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a fulfilling one.

Here’s what the story is all about:

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

Click here for Kristin’s website.

 

 

Advertisements

Open House on Murder: a romantic suspense story & interview

My good friend Lavada Dee has re-released her book Open House on Murder (originally titled Open House on Love) and I thought I’d ask her a few questions about it because I don’t read much romantic suspense and I was curious about a few things.Open House on Murder by Lavada Dee

First, I’d like to say this book totally held my interest. In fact, I read it in a weekend, unusual for me. With a hero named Quin, I’m in from the beginning. I love that name. Add in that this is a reunion story and that the way they were torn apart feels different and innovative and I kept turning the pages. With a killer targeting people in Aimee’s line of work, she and Quin have no choice but to get up close and personal. There’s a bit of a paranormal thing in it, but since that’s not listed in the blurb, I’ll just say it felt realistic to me. I bought into the story, the romance, and the world Lavada created.

The interview:

Laurie:  I love the name Quin, and Quin and Aimee has a great ring to it. How do you name your characters? Do they name themselves or do you hunt around for the perfect choice?

Lavada:  A good question, but not a definitive answer.  With Open House On Murder I had the names in mind right from the beginning but this isn’t always the case.  A lot of times I search for a perfect name by googling baby names.  And I’ve even changed a name midway through writing the story.  Sometime the name just doesn’t fit as the character develops.

Laurie:  Googling baby names works great, doesn’t it? And I love that the characters sometimes tell you they need a different name! I’ve never written a suspense story. Do you find it difficult to pepper in just enough clues to entice, but not enough to completely give it away?

Lavada: Again, the mechanics of writing Open House was different than anything else I’ve written.  I’m what they call a ‘seat of the pants’ author.  Meaning, I just for the most part sit down and write without plotting or characterization.  And forget about work sheets!  With Open House I diligently did all the steps of plotting.  The result was that I wrote this book faster than any other I’ve ever written and… I hated it.  I didn’t even want to have a critique.  I knew it would only tell me what I already knew.  This story was boring.  So… I put it under the bed and wrote the next one which I loved.  Then, since I hate waste, I dug Open House back out and revised the heck out of  the characters as that was what was wrong.  The plot was almost perfect, but the characters were like cardboard figures.

Laurie:  Well, your revisions worked, because the story is great. Including the setting. In fact, there’s an old armoire in this story that almost felt like a character in the story. It’s richly described and I’m wondering where you came up with the vision of it?

Lavada:  Strictly my imagination on the armoire.  I love old houses and the furniture when it’s in them and not in my house.  I needed something to point to that old mansion and the armoire was the perfect thing to do it.

Laurie:  It worked. I could see that armoire so well. Okay, only a couple more questions. Reunion stories can be hard to write, showing the love and attraction, but holding out on the ultimate happy ending until the right time. You’ve managed to do that and I’m wondering if it came easily to you or if the characters had their own ideas about why they were struggling.

Lavada:  It did come easy.  Maybe too easy as I had to work so that it wouldn’t seem like a tired  and well used cliche. In this case it help endear Quin to me and from what I hear readers.

Laurie:  I already mentioned that I think the way they were torn apart seems anything but cliché, so well done. Do you have any other romantic suspense stories in the pipeline? We’d love to hear a little bit about them.

Lavada:  I think the next novel I will write will be a western historical. I do have another romantic suspense that is out of print right now and I want to get it re-released before starting something new.  It’s titled Forever Love because the publisher wanted the word ‘Love’ in the title but I’m thinking of renaming it Escape To Die for as it fits the story better.  The story is about a serial killer targeting women that are residents or associated with a safe house.  I love Mary Higgins Clark and how she puts in all the twists and turns that make it hard to know who did it.  I tried to do that with this story.  I’m hoping readers will let me know if I successfully accomplished it.

Laurie: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today. I’m happy I had a chance to showcase another awesome story. For anyone who’d like to read more about this, here’s what the story’s about and links:

Aimee Forrester has returned to the small town of her high school dreams. When her longtime friend offered her a partnership in her real estate company Aimee leaped at the chance to restart her life in the place she left her heart nineteen years earlier. Now with a new home, and a job she loves, she pushes away memories that still fill her nights with dreams.

Working with an elite serial killer work force Detective Quin Martina finds himself in his own back yard investigating a string of murders. The killer is targeting real estate agents conducting open houses. Bad enough, but worse when an agent in the reality office Aimee Forrester owns a partnership in, is a victim.

The investigation forces Aimee and Quin together and their past attraction to each other flares to a new passionate emotion that both fight to deny. With the killer spiraling more and more out of control Aimee is drawn in and gets his attention. The violence and fear ramp already stretched emotions.

Quin knows they have to bring this killer down fast before more lives are lost and before Aimee becomes a target.

 

Holiday Stories

I belong to a writer’s group, Olympia RWA, that is filled with some of the awesomest, most amazing women I have ever known. So, having written a holiday story myself, I thought I’d take a moment to showcase all the holiday stories written by my chapter-mates. There are all sorts of romance sub-genres so I’ll try to note them for you. Here they are in author alphabetical order. Have fun! And just click on the book image if you want to read more about a particular story.

XmasDavenportSPICY CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORY

Four years ago on Christmas Eve, NHL hockey player Blake Daniels lost his entire family in a float plane crash. Every Christmas Eve he mourns his losses by returning to the family vacation home in Sunset Harbor, Washington, his family’s destination that fateful night. Only this year he’s also mourning the loss of his hockey career and wondering what’s left to live for. When he finds a kitten starving and half frozen in a foot of snow, he rushes the tiny thing to the local animal hospital.

Still reeling from the unexpected loss of her father on Christmas Eve two years ago, Dr. Sarah Whitney opens the door to her clinic and finds a rough and tough professional athlete holding a minuscule kitten in his big hands. Only a miracle can save the frozen creature and only a miracle can heal the devastating losses suffered by both Sarah and Blake.

But Christmas is the time for healing and miracles if only you believe and give love a chance.

XmasForesterHISTORICAL SHORT STORY

Lady Sabine escapes an arranged marriage by traveling from her native France to the Scottish Highlands to be a lady-in-waiting, yet when she arrives a few days before Christmas, she finds she is no longer needed. She cannot remain an unwed lass in a Highland castle so she is given the choice between returning home, joining a convent, or a hasty marriage of convenience. Even worse, Sabine finds that Highlanders do not celebrate her cherished Christmas customs. Sir Braden is the Master at Arms for the MacLaren clan and is assigned to guard Lady Sabine until her situation is resolved. Despite his intention never to marry, Lady Sabine shows him the joy of Christmas and his icy heart starts to melt.

XmasLawsonSWEET HISTORICAL NOVELLA

After a gentleman rescues her from a winter storm, Miss Selene Banning finds herself snowbound with Sir Jared Kendrick, who is not precisely who he claims to be…

A Duke for Midwinter is a sweet (kisses only) Christmas-themed romance of approximately 80 pages.

 

 

XmasLeeSWEET HISTORICAL COLLECTION

Head to the majestic Northwest where logging history comes to life in four Christmas romances. Insecurity brings a logger and a young woman together, but will a “perfect” sister tear them apart? Will the dangers of the woods derail a young couple’s hopes and their chance at love? Amid town gossip, can a work-focused sawmiller win the heart of a prim-and-proper heiress? Will second thoughts have a sentimental girl and a hardhearted carpenter losing love? Find the answers in this heartwarming holiday collection.

XmasMalloryHISTORICAL NOVELLA

Lily’s well-honed sense for trouble tells her no healer is safe in London while gangs roam the city looking for witches to burn. In the dead of night, she escapes on a northbound ship, intending to return after Christmas celebrations calm the city’s witch fever. But when Lily lands in the wilds of Scotland, her skills for surviving in the city can’t save her.

Roderick MacDonald is on a secret mission for his chieftain when he finds a lass near death on a barren hillside and is forced to take her with him. Though this mysterious Sassenach may have The Gift his clan needs—and he burns with passion for her—he’s determined to resist the enchantment she weaves on his scarred heart.

When love blooms amidst the harsh winter beauty of the Highlands, will these two obstinate souls from different worlds accept the Yuletide gift?

XmasMonroeCONTEMPORARY

Always read the fine print!

Tycoon Vincenzo Tomasi needs a new nanny for his niece and nephew by Christmas. And the million-dollar salary on offer will be more tempting than anything in Santa’s sack! Audrey Miller already works for Enzo and loves children, and stepping into his family would dramatically help her own.

What Audrey doesn’t know is that Enzo expects the right candidate to become his wife—and high on the requirements list is sexual compatibility. While she’s lusted after her enigmatic boss for years, will innocent Audrey risk everything to explore her irresistible attraction in the most unlikely interview process ever?

XmasScottSWEET HISTORICAL NOVELLA

Washington Territory, the frontier, 1825. Gentle Fawn and her beloved husband Hawk Catcher’s desperate hopes for a baby plummet until that magical Christmas Eve when their deepest prayers are answered… by two bumbling trappers and a goat.

 

 

XmasSheridanSWEET HISTORICAL SHORT STORY

Written in a darker style than Miss Sheridan’s usual frothy tales, in this short story a lonely widow journeys from heartbreak to hope with the help of three Christmas ghosts.

 

 

 

XmaswhiteSPICY CONTEMPORARY NOVEL

Derrick Fox only wants one gift beneath his Christmas tree–his best friend, Mia. When her latest moron walks out on her, Derrick finally sees his chance to break through the wall of friendship and claim Mia for his own. Forever. But when she propositions him instead, it leaves him reeling.

Insecure, image challenged and dumped–again–twenty-five-year-old Mia Patterson is sick to death of being a virgin. With her knight in shining armor nowhere to be found, naturally she turns to her BFF, the insanely sexy Derrick Fox, to help her out. The problem? Derrick wants far more than the body she’s ready to give. He wants her heart.

As the most magical time of year approaches, Derrick and Mia struggle to create some Christmas magic of their own–the sort that happens once in a lifetime, when two hearts finally come together in trust. And love. Unwrapped.

Last, but not least…

XmasDeeSORTA SWEET n SPICY CONTEMPORARY TWO-STORY ANTHOLOGY

Priceless Love
“For Richer, For Poorer.”
Taylor Hamilton, dissatisfied with a life designed by her parents, attends a friend’s fall wedding and finds small town life agrees with her. The problem is, her wealth doesn’t agree with the man she falls for. Is their love strong enough to find a bridge of trust where money isn’t an issue?

Healing Love
“In Sickness and in Health.”
Nicole Milbourne’s single-minded focus on a medical research career is thrown for a loop when charismatic Dr. Damien Reed shows her there’s more to life than studying diseases. Will an unexpected Christmas fill Nicole’s lonely heart and show her the healing power of love?

ENJOY! And have a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!

Laurie Ryan

Favorite Books Feel More Like Old Friends

I was cleaning out an old desk today, preparing to give the desk away and put a nice cushy reading chair and ottoman in its place. When I opened one drawer though, all work ceased as I pulled out beloved copies of my favorite books. Most of them were Kathleen Woodiwiss stories, but there were a few others, too. I wanted to curl up in the new chair (that hasn’t yet arrived) and open one of them now. Alas, the chair won’t be here for four weeks yet.

However, it got me thinking. These are old, beat up copies of my favs. I have nice, shiny new ones in my collection, but I still pull these out when I want to re-read the story. I’m not sure why, and Ashes in the Wind, in particular, is pretty beat up. But they are still my go-to copies.

Do you have dog-eared copies of favorites books you like to read? I’d love to hear what your favorite stories are. The two pictured above have the 1st and 2nd spot on my fav list. What story’s at the top of your list?

I can hardly wait to get my new chair. I plan to get back to some dedicated reading time and I already know what story I’ll be settling in to read first. After all, I named my daughter Alaina after the heroine in Ashes in the Wind. 🙂

Happy reading, everyone!

Here There Be Witches

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but there’s a couple projects in my pipeline I’ll be talking about soon. In the meantime, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend, S. F. Chancellor, who has a new Young Adult story out. I haven’t read many witch stories, but this one, and the sassy heroine, Cali French, grabbed and held my attention. I was chuckling most of the way through as Cali struggles to come to terms with her powers while in the midst of crises. Add in one guardian angel trying to figure out how to handle his first assignment…Cali…and it’s a winner in my book!

heretherebewitches_lrg

What it’s about:

One chaotic week in October, former friends, a guardian angel, and a secret prophecy cause turmoil in the life of a teen-age witch-in-training.

Cali French, a high school senior, is cut out of her inner circle when she refuses to participate in a spell her friends want to cast. Cali fears the dark magic and the unknown consequences of the shortcut they want to take by casting the spell.

Unbeknownst to her, Cali is the subject of an important prophecy. Her former pals have discovered this and have an even more sinister motive in forcing her to cooperate in their work than Cali can imagine.

Her very life in peril, the young witch-in-training faces unknown dangers relying only on her unpolished skills and some assistance from a guardian angel and a gentle giant.

And where you can find it:

Amazon ebook:  http://amzn.com/B00ME39L1A

Amazon print: http://amzn.com/0692266038

Where you can find Sherry: http://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/