Blue As Far As The Eye Can See

          It's that time of the year again - though a bit late - when the bluebells burst out mob-handed and yomp all over the Clent Hills with cerulean yells.

           Streams and rivers of blue pour down the hillsides and pool in hollows.

          Whole hillsides are covered: sky-blue sunlight, indigo shadow.

          They mark 'undisturbed ancient woodland,' and in a couple of weeks they'll all be gone.

           No photo can give you the gusts of wild hyacinth scent.
          That's why you have to go and join them, and yell blue with them, while they're here.


Books Blogs & Page Turners Issue #2

BBPT is a monthly meme hosted by Turn The Page where we rehash all our favorites from the month... books, blogs, and all things bookish! 

Books, Blogs & Page Turners - The books reviewed this month:
Trading Poisons ~ By Angel Lepire. Megan gave it 4 stars!
Simply Mine ~  By M.L. Gardner & Jane Carrington. Megan gave it 4.5 stars!
So Many Reasons Why ~ By Missing Johnson. Megan gave it 3 stars
Waiting For Martha ~ By Elly Grant. Megan gave it 3 stars
Lindsey's Choice ~ Laurel Peterson. Megan gave it 4.5 stars
What I didn't Say ~By Keary Taylor. Megan gave it 4.5 stars
Shattered ~ By Sandra Madera. Megan gave it 4.5 stars
Shredded~ By Karen Avivi. Megan gave it 5 Whopping Stars.... what a fantastic read about girl BMX riders!! 
Inseparable~(this review is almost done, but while started in May will probably not post until June 1st.) 

Books, Blogs & Page Turners - Manic Monday Winners:
Manic Monday Week #2 M.L. Garderder & Jane Carrington - Simply Mine
Manic Monday Week #3 Laurel Peterson - Lindsey's Choice
Manic Monday Week #4 Sandra Madera - Shattered
Manic Monday Week #5 Missy Johnson - Inseparable 

Books, Blogs & Page Turners - The blogs we crushed on this month:
Paper Fantasies  Hosted by Kelly Watt. I know I crushed on her blog last month too, but hey what can I say, I know what I like. So this month I particularly enjoyed Kelly's YA Epidemic #8: Everyone Loves An Average Girl. I think this happens a lot with books today, us writers tend to downplay the looks of our protagonist and make her plain and then when suddenly she is noticed by the steamy hot guy we all swoon. But it would appear that we are creating the opposite effect on our readers. After reading Kelly's post I thought back to my protagonist, Lexie - did I make her strong and confident or was she described as plain? While I didn't make her plain, I made her less showy than her sister or her best friends. She describes herself as pretty, but likes simplicity... a ponytail, jeans and t-shirt... hmmm, is this the same as calling her plain? This is what I love about Kelly's YA Epidemics and I mentioned this last month as well, it gives the other side of me, the writer, the opportunity to see what readers like you, do and don't like!! Thanks Kelly. 

Tangled Up In Books (formerly Perks of Being a Bookwork) Hosted by Sheri Boston. First I should say that I love her princess phase and the fact that she somehow finds a tangled picture to coincide with every post she puts up. It's fantastic! I actually crushed on two areas of Tangled up in Books this month, first Sheri's TTT - Books Dealing with Tough Issues and Her Swoon Thursdays. So the TTT, loved this one. I actually have either read or have them in my TBR, all of the books she listed. It also again made me think of my own writing. Harvest Moon deals with some really tough issues and as a newbie to the writing and blogging worlds, I feel like this area is becoming more popular. I love YA/NA books dealing with social issues or things that make you think. ooohh, makes me all giddy! As for her Swoon Thursday, I LOVE this. There is always something is a book I am reading that I want to share and I found this meme to be truly exciting and creative! 

Books, Blogs & Page Turners- Books up for review in June:
Okay, so I said last month that the Emi Lost & Found series would be reviewed in May, and I have read 2.75 of the 3 books, but was totally conflicted whether I wanted to review them individually or as one, so I waited.... and now it's too late to feature them in May. I will be featuring them first in June and I still have yet to decide if they will be one single feature or three individual features. Guess you will have to wait and see. Other great books we will be reviewing this month are:


Books, Blogs & Pager Turners - Other bookish news and recaps: 

And in other bookish news, the month of May was a very busy one. I spent very little time working on my own writing and worse, aside from the Manic Monday winners I read only three books... well this isn't completely true. I have read others... like the Emi books, as I already mentioned, but since they have they have yet to be reviewed, I guess they technically don't yet count. 

Angela had to take a hiatus, yeah, before she even started... lol. I know she mentioned in her about me section that we work together and the opening of our new cafe has been beyond brutal. Mix that in with all the commitments we have outside of work and we are simply overloaded. So until she officially makes her presence known, you get me... and I will keep on reading, reviewing, and blogging all about it!! 

I am hoping that the month of June will settle down enough for me to balance my reading/reviewing and my writing. My deadline for Winter Solstice is still set for late fall, so I need to figure out some time management without detracting from TTPBB, because I have become obsessed with book blogging! 

And finally, I am planning to do a couple of author interviews next month, starting with Karen Avivi, the author of Shredded! So stay tuned for all that is to come in the month of June!

We hope you enjoyed our first issue of Books, Blogs & Page Turners... Go ahead and leave us a comment, tell us your thoughts, share your favorites from the month of May!! 


Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature 
Week #5

Can you imagine losing your twin?

Nineteen year old Lily is still struggling with the death of her identical twin, Abby, a year later when she moves away from home for college. Even in death though, their bond is still strong, with Abby visiting Lily in her dreams.

When a chance encounter with Twenty-One year old Dane Hansen changes Lily’s life, Lily’s friends warn her off becoming involved with Dane. He’s bad news, according to the rumors, anyway.

Dane has experienced loss himself, he understands Lily, and the more time he spends with her, the harder he falls. There is something he hasn’t told her though, something almost nobody knows, and it’s something that might stop Lily from feeling the same way.

Abby holds the key to something that will change Lily and Dane's life forever, but how do you get someone else to believe something you don't quite understand yourself?

Author: Missy Johnson
Title: Inseparable
Genre: New Adult >Contemporary >Romance >Fantasy >Paranormal 
Publication Date: May 2013
Links to Purchase: Amazon
Reviewer: Megan

My Review: 2 out of 5 Stars! GOT THROUGH IT!

**May contain some minor spoilers**

If there is one thing I hate more than anything, it's not enjoying a book I am reading and then having to write a less than stellar review. However, I promised my readers I would be honest and while the writer in my cringes, the reader/blogger in me knows this comes with the territory of writing reviews.  

This was the second book I have reviewed by this author and once again I can say, there was promise when the story began, but it quickly fell short and turned into an awkward rendition of erotica. I will say for the record that I have never been a fan of erotica, but some of is bearable. After reading this book I can honestly say I am not a fan of erotica at all and I truly believe that books should be labeled this way rather than being labeled "romance".  In my opinion, there is a big difference. 

As for the actual storyline, like I said, it had promise. I liked the twin aspect, the actual paranormal storyline... This is what drew me the book.  But then there is a relationship that begins too quickly, turns too sexual and dominates the pages. There were discrepancies from what the author said in one section of the book to something said later. And as I have said before, I typically never critique grammar (only content), but the spelling errors were in abundance. There were times that there were numerous mistakes on a page, and the sentence made no sense because of it. Also, there were times when the author bounces between english slang and british slang and it gets hard to keep track of. 

My 2 star rating was because I got through it, but it took much longer than it should have. In the midst of searching for his abducted sister, Dane and Lily are tearing (literally) one another's clothes off.  I kept reading, because I was fascinated with the paranormal aspect and the abduction. They go to New York, they follow these leads and then BAM.... no climax, nothing... one moment we are preparing for a major bust and then all we get is a two line phone call telling us it's all over?  I was beyond disappointed. 

I don't want to give away any other spoilers, so I can't talk about the ending, aside from saying that it did not redeem the story at all in my eyes. This story could have been very fascinating and at first almost reminded me of a paranormal/psychic series of books by famous author Kay Hooper, that I used to love reading... but it fell very short very fast and I truly believe it's greatest downfall was the erotica. It took away from the storyline that should have focused more on the paranormal aspect while still focusing on Dane and Lily's relationship, from a more tasteful perspective. 


Drop into the world of girls’ freestyle BMX for an action-packed summer road-trip adventure.

Josie Peters thinks she’ll do anything to qualify for the Ultimate BMX freestyle event the summer before her senior year. She can handle road trips and back flips, but when flashy rider R.T. Torres tempts her with an easy “in,” the sacrifices required threaten to send Josie spinning out of control.

Author: Karen Avivi
Title: Shredded
Genre: Young Adult >Contemporary 
Publication Date: April 2013
Links to Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Amazon
Reviewer: Megan

My Review: 5 out of 5 Stars I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!

What a Fantastic Story by Karen Avivi!! Okay so maybe I have a soft spot for girls who push the limits with sports that are dubbed "guys sports", but the storyline, the characters, the flow of the writing - it was all there. I read this book in one sitting. I started it early in the morning over coffee and finished it before my overnight shift at work. It was enthralling, captivating, and kept me intrigued.  There was no real major drama or over the top climax, just a real life look at an extreme sport and the girls who refuse to take no for an answer. 

I liked Josie A LOT. She was a strong character and she didn't get everything handed to her with a big shiny bow. She actually had to work for it. And she worked hard. I am not sure if I would be so eager to get up and keep going after the major wipe out she took. But I loved her guts, I loved her charisma, and I loved that stood up for what she wanted. I liked all of her friends - Lauryn, Alexis, Miguel! They all fit well and brought out something in Josie. Okay, Alexis was a little annoying, but that was the point! I also liked R.T. and I liked that the story didn't get caught up in major romance. It was nice to see the dynamic of Josie's family... it was more realistic and as I have said a million times, I love realistic  authenticity! So, another reason I will mention about why I loved this book was how through the whole thing I could see the movie playing in my head... I pictured the characters, the events, the crowds of people... It was so clear!!

A little tid bit about me and a final reason why I LOVED this book... I used to skateboard and freestyle rollerblade with a group of guys in junior high into early high school. I was a lot more daring and put together with my rollerblading than I was the skateboard. I never could master keeping it attached to my feet. But the rollerblading, whoa, watch out. I was a psycho on wheels! Ptts... we called ourselves "The Psycho Chickens".  

When Josie would talk about grinding, the half pipe, or jumping stairs, my heart would pound harder as I remembered those days for myself. The feel of the rush as you push harder toward the jump, praying as you fly through the air that you land it - Whoa, it was a blast! Even her infamous wipe out reminded me of a pretty bad fall I took. Nothing broken, just a concussion, but the adrenaline in the situation is intense. Unlike Josie, I was a bit more leery after this fall. I think I was finally aware that I could actually get hurt. 

I'm fascinated by BMX riders, especially girl BMX riders. The level of guts and bravery is exceptional and that is another reason why I loved this book so much. It was a fun, easy read that showed me another sport that girls can excel at as well as reminded and rekindled some of my own childhood memories. Memories, that as I read felt so fresh.  Back then, girls on skateboards was frowned upon. My parents Loathed it and it was the cause of much tension, but like Josie, I didn't care what other people thought. I loved the way it made me feel and that was all that mattered. 

I truly truly hope to see more from this author in the near future. I cannot thank her enough for bringing this fantastic book into my world and letting me write a review. And if she accepts, I think we just might be hearing a lot more from her soon... in the form of an author interview. Because I don't know about you, but I am beyond intrigued about her knowledge of BMX riders and I just want more!! 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporary YA, and who also loves extreme sports and the girls who participate in them. 

Manic Monday #6

Manic Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Turn The Page where we get to decide who the 
next Indie/Self-Published author featured will be

Just when I thought last Monday was Manic, this monday came creeping up and slammed me right in the face. It was a busy and hectic weekend as well. It's actually hard to believe that May is just about over. Manic Monday's have been going really well so far and I am looking forward to doing our second issue of Books, Blogs,  & Page Turners this week as well.  So lets see who our last Manic Monday winner is for the month of May, shall we?

The chosen Indie/Self-Published Author for
Manic Monday Week #6 is:

Missy Johnson - Inseparable

Congratulations Missy! 

Monday June 3, 2013 Manic Monday Picks

1. Survival (Book #1 of The Guardians of Vesturon Series) - A.M. Hargrove
2. The Bully - Colby Jones
3. Eternal Eden (Book #1 Eden Trilogy) - Nicole Williams 

* If you've read it, tell us what you thought and tell me which book should be chosen as our Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature for Week #7

Also, Tell me if you've found outstanding Indie books (for FREE or PAID) that you think deserve a spotlight in our Manic Monday. 

In Conversation with Cally Phillips

          Cally Phillips is someone with wide writing experience, and also the person with the brilliant idea of an Online E-book Festival - so I was keen to converse with her for this blog.

          Sue: Cally, you worked in theatre and tv too. That’s something I’ve never done. What’s it like?

          Cally: I really don’t like leaving work unfinished and working
Cally Phillips
for TV that's pretty much a given.  When I made the decision to 'give up the day job' and write for a career (having discovered I personally just couldn't write and do a day job) TV seemed like the best bet to actually make a living from writing. In this country at least. And I did make a living out of it. Unfortunately, in TV you get paid a lot more often for scripts that never get made than you do for ones that do get made. And the meetings! I hate meetings. And meetings about meetings.  Such a waste of time.
          You can spend three or more years working on a script before it gets produced. Or more likely it never gets produced. Irrespective of how good it is.  And yet, when the chips were down, I had a script cleared from start to production in less than two months. (I was lucky, I came in as a stand-in when the budget was already agreed and the 'development' time had run out.) If I could always have done that it would have been great.
          Endless drafts because the money wasn't there to fully finance a project or because execs are trying to second guess the next big thing, wasn't for me.  I was really aiming to write series drama but like so many 'be careful what you dream' things, when I actually got into it I realised I didn't like the 'cut and paste' style of writing as much as I wanted to have a good amount of creative control. 
          In TV they pay you well because they really are buying your time, which becomes buying your life.   An example. Producers and script editors (in my experience) have this knack of phoning you on a Friday, before a holiday or Xmas and needing you to make changes by Monday, day after New Year etc.  When I realised this and just gave up taking weekends or holidays, it made life a bit easier, but it did strike me as a bit 'ornery'!  I know that broadcasting is a 'business' first and foremost and when I decided I didn't want to engage with the set rules, I did the only other thing possible and walked away.
          I'm not whining. It was a pragmatic decision. That's the way the business works and if you don't like it, don't do it.  No writer can change or influence the way broadcasting works. Writers (even through unions) just don't have that much sway in the industry. Becoming a producer would be another option but even then, it just takes so damned long to get anything done.  It's a classic ‘jam tomorrow’ situation and for me it's much more important to be able to be actively creative on a day by day basis than have the promise of jam tomorrow.

'Brand Loyalty'
          Sue: But you didn’t leave drama altogether – you went from TV to theatre, didn’t you?

          Cally: Luckily for me, as I was making this decision to leave TV I got the opportunity to do paid work as a dramatist in residence and theatre was a place I was much more comfortable in. I'd trained professionally as an actor before becoming a teacher.  Ironically whereas in TV you get paid for not having work produced, in theatre you tend not to be paid even if you have work produced.  And it's still hard to get mainstream work produced. I wrote my first play in 1990 and it took 3 years to get it put on. Eventually I had to produce and direct it myself.  Critical acclaim but financial jeopardy.  Still, it gave me confidence in my own work and the taste for just getting on and 'doing it' rather than waiting around for others to allow me to be creative.  It took another 10 years before I was in the position to do that, but when it came, I grabbed it with both hands. 
          Creatively I had a journey to make too. I love the discipline and structure of screenwriting. I love the immediacy and the particularities of writing for the stage. I love writing dialogue. I enjoy the complexity and layering of words and ideas which visual writing really requires.  I like to be wholly creatively absorbed. But I moved away from mainstream theatre towards 'drama' because I wanted to see plays performed, not wait for the 'jam.' 
          Whereas with screenworks, if they are produced they are 'there' as a legacy for all time (sometimes not a good thing) theatre is an ephemeral art and that's fine but more than that it can actually be a 'sharing' art form as well and in the 10 years I spent working actively in 'drama' I realised that I liked advocating other voices at least as much as writing my own 'voice'.
          Theatre (in its broadest sense and here I think the word ‘drama’ is much more appropriate) is something which people can share and not just as a passive audience. Boaltaught me that.  And it ticked boxes for me by allowing me to direct as well, so that I could use all parts of my creativity, mental and physical, at the same time. I was lucky enough to get to work (and get paid) doing 'drama' in mental health and disability settings and from that I developed a creative style (and a business) using drama as advocacy.  For a lot of the time I was working in a pre-literate
'A Week With No Labels' by Cally Phillips
culture.  So the 'writing' was very, very flexible as a concept. But for me, the active involvement in drama and 'voicing' the unvoiced through writing was absolutely the best time of my creative life (so far). I would still be doing it but my health no longer permits me to.  It's a pretty full on, intensive way of working and I just can't do that any longer. 
          Since 'giving up' the active side of advocacy drama I've done a couple of things. Firstly I'm engaged in writing more 'traditional' things with an 'advocacy' flavour, using the skills and experience I gained during that creatively productive time. Secondly, I've been ebooking my back catalogue - which gives a kind of closure to the mountains of good work that all languished 'unfinished' because of financial or fashion constraints.  I've got most of my playscripts out as ebooks now and I'm going to  adapt a lot of my screenplays into fictional form. But I've got a bit diverted into publishing just lately and as a publisher I'm finding that I can enjoy voicing others at least as much as seeing or hearing my own voice in published form.

          Sue: You’ve certainly worked in a lot of different media and forms! With all that experience, has your view of writing changed at all?

          Cally: I started off wanting to influence the world through my writing. Twenty years on I'm not that interested in what I have to say any more.  I've lost the ambition or illusion that I'm 'important' in that respect.  And I'm no longer trying to 'find myself' through my writing. I'm a lot more interested in making sure other people have their say. And finding out about other people through writing.  I've never really enjoyed being centre stage and I've learned that what  I love most about writing is writing as a communicative shared experience.  Which is possible in all mediums, but easier in some than others.

          Sue: Thanks, Cally.
Cally is a member of Authors Electric, who blog here, at Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?
Cally’s books and plays can be found here, with links to her blogs. She’s always got something interesting to say!


Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature 
Week #4

Identical twins, Miranda and Nastasia Moralez, couldn’t be more different. Being the head of the cheerleading team, Natasia is the most popular girl in the school. Miranda is not, taking photographs in her spare time for the school paper. Life is normal until a tragic accident takes the life of one twin. Miranda quickly realizes that the car crash that took her sister’s life was no accident. It was planned. Now, Miranda has to find out who wanted her sister dead before she succumbs to the same fate.

Author: Sandra Madera
Title: Shattered 
Genre: Young Adult >Short Story >Mystery/Suspense 
Publication Date: April 2013
Links to Purchase: Barnes & Noble (Free)
Reviewer: Megan

My Review: 4.5 out of 5 Stars 

I really enjoyed this short story by Sandra Madera. I thought it was really well written, well put together and had a great plot. I was left in suspense throughout the whole story and found myself liking or disliking characters, that in the end were justified.  There is one detective (all who have read will know who I mean) that I wanted to bitch slap at every turn of the page... being a criminal justice professional myself, I kept thinking who the hell is this (BLEEP) and how is no one keep her in check. Then.... it all became clear. 

I LOVED the ending.  I really thought it was fantastic. What a great twist of events and the author did a great job of bringing the whole thing together. It wasn't predictable at all and kept me guessing. I even judged a couple of the characters, just as the author wanted us to do I'm guessing. 

The only thing I didn't like, but it helped tie the book together, was that these two identical twins seemed to barely know one another. Most twins I know are inseparable, run in the same circles, and are very similar. Not the case with shattered. Like I said though, it helped tie the mystery and suspense together so I get it... but I think I would have liked to see it come from a different angle. Fear maybe? Or threats? So much juicier and SO much more personal had she wanted to tell her and couldn't... (that's all I will say about that.)

I highly recommend this fantastic short story to anyone who likes YA Mystery and Suspense!! 

Manic Monday #5

Manic Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Turn The Page where we get to decide who the 
next Indie/Self-Published author featured will be

Today could not be closer to the epitome of a Manic Monday... hence my very late post. It was a long, crazy, hectic kind of day. I went to bed late last night, woke way too early and worked 12 hours preparing for a new store opening. It was rough. Thankfully I had my bloggy friend Angela right there along side me, helping me to get through it. I can only hope that today is not a reflection of the rest of the week, because if it is... I might not make it.  With that said, I will say that Angela and I will be super busy with this new store opening, for the next couple of weeks so please bare with us if we lag at all. Believe me, I would so much rather be reading and blogging that doing what I will be doing.  

The chosen Indie/Self-Published Author for
Manic Monday Week #5 is:

Sandra Madera - Shattered 

Congratulations Sandra 

Monday May 20, 2013 Manic Monday Picks

1. Inseparable - Missy Johnson 
2. Me Again - Keith Cronin
3. Falling - Amber Jaeger

* If you've read it, tell us what you thought and tell me which book should be chosen as our Manic Monday Indie/Self-Published Author Feature for Week #6

Also, Tell me if you've found outstanding Indie books (for FREE or PAID) that you think deserve a spotlight in our Manic Monday.