Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Favourite Genres and Novels’ #amreading

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the March 3 posting of the IWSG are Sarah – The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

March 3 question – Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

I love reading, and although I make sure to widen my scope by reading outside my comfort zone, I have a favourite genre: romance.

I’m an incurable romantic, so novels that include an exciting, breathtaking, convoluted or epic love story with a reasonably happy or optimistic ending will give me great joy.

Some examples of classic romances I reread regularly for pleasure and inspiration are: Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Gone with the Wind, and the Thorn Birds.

Gone With The Wind

Now for more contemporary examples of novels which include romance and have moved and inspired me recently and I’ve reviewed on my blog:

Recursion a techno thriller by Blake Crouch including a recurring love story which defies time.

The Kiss quotient a fun and moving romance including a heroine with Asperger’s and a complex hero.

Kissing my Killer by Helena Newbury an enemies to lovers mafia romance.

The Last Necromancer by C J Archer a steam punk fantasy romance (this one is part of a series)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris a historical romance set in a concentration camp

The Book of Two Ways a contemporary romance by Jodi Picoult involving a woman who loved two men at different times and is faced with heart wrenching choices when they come together.

Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas a Victorian Romance set in London

Sustained, A contemporary romance between the guardian of six nephews and nieces and a high-powered lawyer who prefers one-night stands.

Captured a vampire romance by Erica Stevens (this is part of a series)

Captured (The Captive Series Book 1) by [Erica Stevens, Leslie Mitchell G2 Freelance Editing]

The Baron by Joanna Schupe, about a fake medium and a railway baron, set in New York’s Gilded Age.

Missing You a crime thriller by Harlan Coben about a man who will never forget the woman he loved, even when she died, but is she really dead?

Holy Island by LJ Ross is the first novel is a series featuring DCI Ryan, who is the lead detective in the series. He meets his love interest in book one and she will appear in 17 of the 18 novels in the series. Crime fiction.

Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 1) by [LJ Ross]

I don’t care about the genre as long as there’s a moving love story in the narrative. I’m not referring to a typical romance of boy meets girl and they fall in love, I want novels to include other themes and plots, too. A love story which focusses on two characters obsessively is not enough to keep me reading.

What kind of romance novels do you enjoy reading?

 

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘The People I Love’ #February2021 @Pixabay #Tanka

Al final del camino me dirán:

—¿Has vivido? ¿Has amado?

Y yo, sin decir nada, abriré el corazón lleno de nombres.

Pedro Casaldaliga 1928-2020

Paraphrased translation:

At the end of my journey they will ask if I have loved and I will show them my heart full of names.

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We are all aware of our mortality, but the demands of our daily lives, work, family, shopping, household chores, etc. take up most of our thoughts and energy, and then, in the end, everything that’s important is relegated, which brings me to the real topic of this post: the people we love.

Many of us cannot see our loved ones face to face due to covid19 restrictions, and yet we must find time to keep in touch with those we love and appreciate; our family and friends.

Get in touch with them. Call them, send a message, a letter, a postcard, an email, say, ‘I love you’, ‘I miss you’, ‘How are you?’ Not only will it cheer them up, it will also raise your own spirits.

We need to feel the connection with the people we love and appreciate, even if we can’t touch them, hug them or kiss them.

They’re deep in my heart,

I see their faces and hear

their words and laughter

In my thoughts, dreams and soul,

Forever,

The people I love.

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

How do you keep in touch with the people you love?

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Image by ejausburg on Pixabay

Pixabay is a wonderful site where many generous amateur and professional photographers offer their photos at no cost (there are also photos you have to pay for). And Thursday, which is in the exact middle of the week is an ideal day to stop and reflect, so I’m grabbing one or more pictures and reflecting on whatever comes to mind. I’m not planning on stream-of-consciousness, because although it’s an unplanned post based on a random picture, I’ll edit my thoughts and words, because you’re worth it! I want you to read a pretty and polished post:)

#SundayWalks ‘7 things I forgot in 2020’

I forgot to be impatient, because life isn’t a race, it’s a journey to be savoured. 

I forgot to complain when I switched off my morning alarm, because every day is a unique gift to treasure.

I forgot to worry about setbacks, because they show me a lesson I need to learn.

I forgot to feel guilt about my choices because they are a result of my free will, and they have brought me to where I am.  

I forgot to feel fear, because, ‘only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.’ Dorothy Thompson.

I forgot to feel bored because this world is the most fascinating place in the universe and I am lucky enough to experience living here.

I forgot to feel entitled, because this world owes me nothing I don’t deserve. Instead, I learnt to say thank you for every breath I take, everything I see and feel, and everyone in my life, including you, dear blogging friends and visitors.

And finally, I forgot to worry about everything I had lost over the years and remembered everything I had.  

Tell me, what did you forget in 2020?

#SundayWalks ‘7 things I remembered in 2020’

I remembered to say I love you more often.
I remembered to feel joy at every sunrise.
I remembered to feel satisfaction at every sunset.
I remembered to feel hope that tomorrow will be even better than today.
I remembered to learn something new every day.
I remembered that happiness is not one big event or instant, but a mosaic full of wonderful and diverse, little moments occurring every day.
I remembered to say thank you for every breath I take, everything I see and feel, and everyone in my life, including you, dear blogging friends and visitors.
I hope you had a happy Christmas holiday and remembered all the wonderful things in your life.

 And remember…

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte #BookReview #Victorian @Audible #Audiobooks

I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall too many years ago, in my teens, when I read all the Bronte sisters’ novels, but I just couldn’t for the life of me remember much about the story. So, as the version I read, narrated by  Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter was on Audible Included, which means that as a member, I could listen for free, I decided to have a go at the audio version. I wasn’t surprised when I was hooked immediately, I’ll tell you why right away.  

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Audiobook By Anne Brontë cover art

From the Blurb

Fleeing a disastrous marriage, Helen Huntingdon retreats to the desolate mansion, Wildfell Hall, with her son, Arthur. There, she makes her living as a painter. Finding it difficult to avoid her neighbors, she is soon an object of speculation and gossip. Brontë portrays Helen’s eloquent struggle for independence at a time when society defined a married woman as her husband’s property.

Before I start my review, I’d like to tell you why I love Audible. I know I’ve told you many times already, but it’s even better now! My monthly credit allows me to buy one audiobook of my choice every month, plus there are daily deals and frequent sales and two for the price of one offers, plus there are loads of free listens in the ‘Included’ catalogue, which has new additions every week, and there are podcasts.

And I love to listen to audiobooks while I work out, go for walks, do the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, clearing out cubboards, and much more! Here’s more information, in case you’re interested. (By the way, I have no commercial affiliation to Audible, I just wanted to share how great I think it is!) 

My Review

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was easy for me to enjoy. You all know how much I love Victorian Fiction, and as I had completely forgotten about the plot, it was like reading it for the first time. 

It’s a very long, three volume novel, as was the custom of the time. It is over 800 pages and over16 hours of narration time. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by Anne Brontë, the youngest of the Bronte sisters. Her first novel was Agnes Grey, which I only vaguely remember, so I’ll probably be reading it again, soon, too.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was first published in 1848 under the pseudonym of Acton Bell. Although it was very successsful, it was considered the most shocking of the Brontë’s novels, and I can’t imagine why, because the main female character, Helen, is so very pious that she is at times quite nausiating. In fact, I was often furious with her subservient behaviour, especially in the third part of the novel, but more about that in a moment.

The first volume is narrated by Gilbert Markham (by the way, one of my new favourite romance heroes!), who is telling his friend about how he came to meet the Tenant of Wildfell Hall. He was intrigued and fascinated by Helen Graham, a beautiful and aloof, young widow, who moved into the crumbling, old Hall, with her young son, Arthur. They do eventually (very eventually), become friends, but then she becomes the target of local gossip and it is discovered that she is not a widow, because her husband is alive.

The second volume is narrated by Helen, who gives Gilbert all the letters she wrote from when she met her husband to the moment she left him. Here she shows herself to be a devoted wife, who is in love with an unworthy husband, and although she put up with a lot of psychlogical and some physical abuse, she was finally strong-willed and determined enough to abandon him.

This part of the novel certainly gives us a clear insight to the life of the country gentry and servants of the era, as well as the submission of women, even wealthy women, to their husbands,  fathers and religious notions of women’s piety.  I both pitied and admired Helen at this point, because I thought I was going to read a 19th century, #MeToo novel, and I almost did, but as I read the third part I discovered I was wrong. 

This third part, narrated by Gilbert, describes how she returned to her husband and what happens afterwards, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you how the ending comes about. I will tell you I was exasperated with both Gilbert and Helen, and her brother, but especially with Helen, for being so obstinate and submissive. So, although I did enjoy the ending, I found it was not the feminist novel I had been expecting to read.   

A modern editor would have reduced the novel by half, even I, lover of Victorian literature, was impatient for something to happen and maddened by the going round in circles of the same events, and long drawn out conversations, which did not move the plot forward a single inch! 

There are two major difficulties in reading this type of Victorian fiction, for the modern reader; in the first place the excessive length, verbosity and repetition of certain parts, and on the other hand, the cultural and emotional distance, with contemporary readers. The later makes it hard to understand or sympathize with their passive acceptance of patriarchy, gender differences and medieval attitude to religion, and the former can become frustrating.  

However, there was one aspects that reminded me of contemporary society; harmful and spiteful gossip and blatant lies, which still occurs today, except nowadays it would spread on social media, instead parlours and at sunday service.   

I would recommend the audio version, because it brings the characters and events to life and makes the tedious parts more enjoyable (and you can speed them up!).

I hope I haven’t put you off, because it really is worth reading. The prose flows smoothly and the vocabulary and expressions are gorgeous, and you will be rewarded with an authentic, first-hand glimpse of what life was really like for women, men and children, in Victorian England. 

Have you read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? What was your impression?

 

 

 

#Lockdown ‘Every cloud has a Silver Lining’ #MondayMotivation #MondayBlogs

I live in Spain and we’ve been on Lockdown for ten days now due to the Covid-19 virus and I haven’t written a single post, until today.

I’m not going to talk about facts and figures, prevention, medicine or science, because I’m not an expert on any of those major aspects and there’s plenty of reliable information online.

I’m going to write about my personal reflections, feelings and how my life is being affected by the lockdown. This means owning both the positive as well as the negative experiences derived from imposed isolation, because every cloud has a silver lining.

First I’m going to tell you about the clouds, or what I miss:

 

1) Hugging my children and grandchildren. 

I have four wonderful grandchildren (ages 3,5,6, and 9, and a fifth on the way!) I love playing board games, ping pong, telling stories, going to parks and fun fairs, or just chatting with them. 

My husband and my daughter walking in the countryside, near where I live.

2) My daily walks.

My husband and I have retired recently and we enjoy long (2-3 hour) daily walks. We choose different parts of the town and countryside, have a coffee or a beer on the way there or back, depending on the time. We chat, take photos, pop in to museums or exhibitions, wherever takes our fancy. No walks allowed now.

I took this picture of some of my oldest friends last year at a local flower festival ‘Flora’

3) Going out with friends.

I enjoy going out with friends. We go to the movies, to a coffee shop, window shopping, real shopping, or out for drinks and tapas. No going out with friends.

 

Last year we popped over to Bari, on a bargain Ryanair flight, just for the fun of it!

4) Impromptu outings

We love getting in the car and popping over to Malaga (an hour and a half drive) to walk along the seafront, or to meet up with friends and family, or to any other city for a day trip, weekend at home or abroad.

60th Birthday Party at home with some of my best friends!

5) Receiving guests

I love cooking and having guests, especially when the weather’s nice and we can eat in the garden. On other occasions, friends come over for tea or coffee, some home-cooked cake and a chat. 

Secondly, this is my silver lining, or what I can appreciate about this situation.

1) More time to write. 

I’ve just finished and sent the umpteenth draft of my latest novel to my editor, Alison Williams. I managed, to block out the lockout and get on with it with no one to distract me. I plan to continue with other unfinished novels and literary projects, too.

2) More time to read

My TBR pile is slightly smaller! At the moment I’m reading and enjoying When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, on my kindle and listening to L J Ross’s Alexander Gregory Thriller, Impostor, its Book 1 in the series (I read Book 1 first by mistake!). She’s a wonderful author as I learned when I read her DCI Ryan Mysteries.

The Alexander Gregory Thrillers

3) Watching series I never have time for.

I’m not much of a TV viewer, but I was able to binge watch over a couple of days, eight episodes of The Stranger, by Harlan Coben staring Richard Armitage.

4) Phoning + texting friends and family 

I’ve spent the last few days contacting friends and family all over the world, by phone, text and email, making sure they’re all OK. I haven’t finished yet, there are still a few more to contact.

With my three best friends from London University, celebrating our 60th birthday, last July, back on our College site, now luxury residential homes.

5) A time for introversion and reflection.

I’ve never been faced with so much time for myself or so much worry about family, friends and myself. Facing one’s own vulnerability in such an unpredictable world is daunting. Facing our finite and limited time on earth and the possibility of illness, or even death in complete isolation was not how I expected to spend 2020.

Momento Mori is not welcome, but it’s a necessary reminder that my life is brief and finite and every moment is precious.

Stay safe, virtual hugs and love to you all.

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Love Her or Lose Her’ by Tessa Bailey #Romance @Scribd #Audiobook #BookReview

Today, after a few heart-pounding thrillers, I’m reviewing a sweet and steamy, second chance romance, Love Her or Lose Her, by Tessa Bailey.

Love Her or Lose Her: A Novel by [Bailey, Tessa]

From the Blurb

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

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My Review

Love her or Lose Her is a sweet and steamy, second chance romance by Tessa Bailey.

It’s easy to fall in love with your High School sweetheart, marry and expect a happy ever after, but what happens when real life takes over dating and having fun? Can couples stay in love after marriage? What’s the secret to staying in love after years of marriage?

There is plenty of food for thought in this apparently light romance. Why do couples fall out of love? Why do some pull through, while others split up? It’s a complex question, and although this novel isn’t a deep, psychological or sociological analysis of love and marriage, it did make me wonder about why love doesn’t always last and how to decide if it was a mistake or whether it’s worth making the effort to pull through the rough patch.

Rosie and Dominic are a young married couple who has fallen out of love. Tessa thinks her high school sweetheart and husband doesn’t love her any more and she leaves him. There is no cheating and no third parties involved. They’re both unhappy because over the years they’ve given up their cherished hopes and dreams and they’re not communicating their feelings or needs.

Some of the best moments of the novel are the sessions with their unique and insightful marriage guidance councillor. It made me think I know a few couples who would benefit from his therapies! And it made me realise how vital it is for a couple to communicate their feelings and if they can’t, how important it is to get professional help, before deciding to break up.

A sweet, second chance romance. A nicely written and plotted romance with angst, humor and lots of food for thought.

 Especially for readers who are in a very romantic, feel good mood!

Scribd link to Love Her or Lose Her

****

Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey is the New York Times Bestselling Author of the Line of Duty Series. She lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and exuberant daughter. When she isn’t writing, eating cheese, listening to true crime podcasts or reading romance, Tessa enjoys a good argument and thirty-minute recipes.

Follow Tessa on twitter.

Tuesday

Photo taken on my morning walk, in Córdoba, 4th February, 2020

Check out my other reviews!

#Sunday Photo Fiction ‘Happy Anniversary’ #FlashFiction #100words

It’s my second time taking part in the Sunday Photo Fiction. Below is the picture which inspired me to write the following 100-word flash fiction, although according to the rules, you can write up to 200 words. Thank you Susan for hosting and Terri Smeigh for the photo prompt.

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Photo Credit: Terri Smeigh

Happy Anniversary

My husband raised his gold-rimmed champagne flute. ‘Happy anniversary, darling.’

I smiled, in spite of the partying and the other women, because I had learned to play my part.

A reporter approached as planned. ‘Senator, a few words for Celebrity Night?’

 ‘I’d like to thank my wife for twenty years of love and support.’

‘It’s been a pleasure, my love,’ I replied, although I wished we were back at the highway diner where he proposed.

He promised eternal love and I believed all our dreams would come true. Be careful what you wish for, I thought as my heart wept.  

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#FridayFictioneers ‘A Visit to the Synagogue’ #FlashFiction #100Words

It’s Friday, time for another Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction story featuring Alice Pendragon and her best friend Billy! Last week, they saved a young man from committing suicide. Today he’ll tell them what was troubling him so much in life to prefer death.

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the challenge and to Roger Bultot for this week’s photo prompt.

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

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I recently read a beautiful novel called The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom (read my review here) by Beth Miller, about a Jewish girl living in London, in an orthodox family, who married a non-Jewish man, against her parent’s wishes, and the subsequent upheaval in both their lives. It’s an emotional and non-judgemental, yet moving account of what happens when families are in disagreement over their children’s marriages.

It’s a topic that is close to my heart, not because I’m Jewish, I’m not, but I could have been. We do not choose where we are born, or our parents’ religions, nationalities, skin colour, or mother tongue. It’s relevant to me because my parents have held hostile attitudes towards my husband for the last 39 years, since we started going out, which brought, and still brings, many senseless and unfair complications to our family.

This flash, was written bearing in mind the damage such inflexible and unreasonable attitudes can cause in a young man who is in love and yet would go to extreme lengths not to upset his family.  

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A Visit to the Synagogue

The young man whose life they’d saved took them to a brown stone building.
“The woman I love isn’t Jewish,” he said staring at the synagogue.
Alice shrugged. “Neither are we.”
“Then you wouldn’t understand.”
“Try us,” said Billy.
“I must marry a Jewish girl.” Tears filled his eyes.
“Have they met her?” asked Alice.
“They would never allow it! And I’d rather die than live without Helen.”
“We understand.” Billy squeezed Alice’s hand. “If your parents realized how much they meant to you, so much that you’d rather die than upset them, I’m sure they’d want to meet her.”
****
Billy is right. If the young man’s parents realised how much their intolerance and demands were making their son suffer, due to his love for them, they would surely reconsider, but unfortunately, parents aren’t always willing to accept that their children grow up and should be allowed to make their own decisions, and even their own mistakes.
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My ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be mostly read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here they are! 

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Lips’ #FlashFiction

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. Follow the link on the banner for more information

This weeks prompt is“lip” I’m going to write a 100 word flash fiction story, because as soon as I saw the word, an idea flashed into my mind. I’ve been thinking about it and now I’m going to write it. I won’t edit, but I will weed out words to reduce it to 100 max. Sounds like fun, but let’s see how it works out!

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Her Lips

She pursed her lips. Those soft, luscious lips that had caressed every inch of my skin. Only mine.

They sank into a hard, angry line.  Lips that had told me they loved only me.

I willed her lips to move, to show me there was still hope, but they remained rigid, while blood, as red as her lips dripped onto the floor.

I love you, I told her, and at last, those lips that made me lose my mind, twitched slightly, one last time.

She pressed her lips to mine and dug the knife further into the wound. It’s over, she whispered.

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Sorry it was a bit dark, but that’s where her lips took me!

A psychological, tense thriller in 100 words. Does it work?