New Year, New Resolutions, New Projects!

I love a new year. It’s like being reborn. I can fool myself that all past misdeeds and errors have been forgiven, and I am a new person. Almost. This year I’ve made a resolution not to have any new resolutions. Does that make sense? It does to me. I am thankful to be alive, that my family is well, and that the island is coming back to normal faster than any of us expected.

It has been  over three months since hurricane Maria disrupted all our lives. For me, at least, most things are back to their usual state. I have electricity, running water, cell phone service, and Internet. My neighborhood looks pretty much recovered. The greenery has come back with surprising vigor. This, of course, is not the case everywhere else; there are still towns where the destruction was more severe and things are still being repaired and worked.

I now have the time to return to my writing. My next installment of the Angel’s Guardian series has begun. The working title is Heart of Stone. I’ve included here the cover for you to see. The image depicts Ivanna, sister of the evil Toma. Ivanna is a main character in the new novel. Let me know what you think of the cover.

I try for my covers not to be blatantly erotic although there is strongly erotic content in all my novels. Amazon will not approve even mildly erotic covers for their Amazon promotions. Recently, I had to change the cover of Strongheart’s Woman because Amazon Marketing Services kept rejecting it. Apparently, the long, side view of the female image was unacceptable regardless of the fact that all her “assets” were covered. As soon as I changed it, the Amazon Ad was approved.

I intend for Heart of Stone to be darker, more intense, and definitely character based. While Max and Angel are still at the crux of the series, this story will have Ivanna and Devian as the main focus. Devian, with his ugly face, coldly professional exterior, and ultra-macho demeanor, is a favorite of readers. I have no idea yet what havoc Ivanna, the beautiful, willful vampiress will wreak on the self-assured Devian, but I promise it will be delicious reading!

What to Read? Part 7

Finally, back to normalcy. First thing I did was check the Amazon Top 100 Free. After all, I need to put some meat on the brand-new Kindle Fire my son gave me for Christmas. Here are some promising reads that you can download for free today and possibly the next few days.

https://www.amazon.com/Follow-Me-Down-Gordon-MacKinney-ebook/dp/B077YZMFBK/

This book has 11 reviews but all are 5 stars.

https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Blade-Soul-Eater-Book-ebook/dp/B01I4YBIQS/

This book has 132 reviews, 4.3 stars average.

https://www.amazon.com/Touched-Marnie-Baranuik-Files-Book-ebook/dp/B01GGVL5HS/

This book has 640 reviews! Not bad. Its has 4.3 stars average.

https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Corrie-Badge-Honor-Heroes-ebook/dp/B0193Z89B4

This book has 247 reviews with a 4.7 stars average. That’s a great score.

https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Storm-Rakes-Rebels-Raveneau-ebook/dp/B005DJ93EW/

This book has 766 reviews with a 4.3 stars average. Impressive!

I have read none of these books. I chose them because their blurbs seemed interesting, and the reviews were good.

The Top 100 Free is full of many books in all genres, but I tend to stay away from the “Billionaire’s Baby” and “Taken-by-the-Bear” type books.


I’m also not big on “End-of-the-World” books. If you like them, there are plenty of those in the list. You can check out Until the end of the World.





It has 813 reviews with a 4.6 stars average.

I noticed also that lately, Amazon is including Free classics in the list. For example, a few days ago I was able to download The Call of the Wild, Great Expectations,  The Time Machine, and War of the Worlds.

Here is the link to Amazon’s 100 Top Free Books.

Took or Baggins? Part 4

Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

-In the morning, the friends awaken to find the elves have gone.

-Frodo, Sam, and Pippin leave the main road and cut through the wilderness  just in time before a Black Rider appears. 

-The group ends up in Farmer Maggot’s house. He tells them that a dark stranger on a black horse is searching for Frodo. 

-Farmer Maggot gets them to the ferry crossing in secret.

Wonderful Quote:

Short cuts make long delays.

My thoughts:

There is beautiful imagery and great reading for those readers who actually love the process of reading: the enjoyment of mood, atmosphere, subtle creation of suspense, beautiful and poetic wording. Those looking for action-based, fast reading may be bored.

 

Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked 

-A short history of Buckland is given. 

-A glimpse of a Black Rider happens as they disembark from the ferry. 

-At Crickhollow, Merry and Pippin disclose that they know all about the Ring.

It’s decided that Merry and Pippin will join the quest. They all break into song for the third time.

Frodo has a disturbing dream that night.

 


My thoughts: 

 

This chapter reminds me much of The Hobbit:  when the friends break into song unexpectedly during the bath and later after they decide to go together on the quest. 

 

It furthers the characterization of  Hobbits as childlike, innocent, natural creatures who are truly out of their depths in adventures. Only Frodo, in his dark and prophetic dream, seems to have a clearer understanding. It seems that maybe the possession of the ring has already affected him in ways that make him different, less childlike.

Chapter 6: The Old Forest 

-The Hobbits enter the forest and find it a hostile, cunning place. 

– The trees seem to watch the group and paths move or disappear, herding the little group away from their destination. 

-They reach the Withywindle, a river edged and surrounded by willows. 

-A spell renders the friends asleep. 

-Merry and Pippin are swallowed by a crack  in a willow.  Frodo is dumped in the river by the tree he fell asleep on. 

-Enter (singing) the ridiculously cheerful and colorful character  Tom Bombadil, who saves the friends! 

-They arrive as guests at Tom Bombadil’s house.

 

My thoughts:

 

Once again, this chapter is also reminiscent of a children’s tale. The dangers and evil encountered are more like those found in the telling of a fairy tale. The forest shows malice, but it does little harm to the friends. Old Man Willow tries to eat Merry and Pippin, but he is easily derailed by Tom Bombadil’s spell singing. It is almost as if the Black Riders and the Ring have been left behind. The appearance of Tom Bombadil itself is rather comic and unexpected.

What to Read? Part 4

When trying to choose a variety of genres from the Top 100 Free list, a problem soon emerges: there is little variety. A careful examination of the list shows that the majority of titles are in the romance genre. On the first page (#1-#20) there are 12 romances out of 20 offerings.

Top Free aug 8 2017

As the reader moves up the list, the proportion of romances to other genres increases. On Aug 8th, 2017,  items 41-60 are as follows. Reminder: this list changes as the day wears on. 

41- Lucky in Love- Romance>Sports

42- A Real cowboy Never Says No- Romance>Westerns

43- Accounting for Love- Romance>Westerns

44- The Red Door Inn- Romance>Inspirational

45- Married This Year 2 -Romance>Contemporary

46- The Chocolate Garden- New Adult>College

47- Damnation- Romance>Paranormal

48- Uncommon- Woman’s>Christian

49- Ella Wood- Romance>Historical

50- Tougher Than The Rest- Romance>Western

51- Haunted by Love- Romance Paranormal

52- Hawaiian Hangover- Cozy Mystery

53- The Yakuza Path-Blood Stained Tea- Crime Fiction> Gay Fiction

54- Escape From Oz- Sci Fi>Space Opera

55- Summer on the Lake- Romance Contemporary

56- In Love With the Alpha- Romance>Paranormal

57- Tank- New Adult>Romance

58- The Sekhmet Bed- Historical>Biographical

59- The Way Back- Romance>Inspirational

60- The Lone Survivor- Paranormal>Urban Fantasy

Of the above titles, only six are not romance. 

#48- Uncommon– is Woman’s Christian Living 

#52- Hawaiian Hangover is a Cozy Mystery 

#58- The Sekhmet Bed is also a woman’s read, telling the story of an Egyptian princess and her arranged marriage. 

Only two books: Escape from Oz and Lone Survivor fall into genres that may appeal across the board. It’s interesting to note that as the list gets past the first forty, the number of covers showing sculpted male chests and low-hanging jeans increases. These reflect the more erotic content of the romance.

MY OPINION, and once again I must emphasize that it’s an opinion and everyone is entitled to one, is that if you want to read genres other than spicy romance, your pickings in the Top 100 Free are slim. 

Today, you could have chosen The Game You Played, a suspenseful mystery thriller with 4.4 stars average in 1298 reviews. It sits at #1 and you have to grab it now because it will go off promo quickly. Hard Fall by P.T. Reade sits at #3, and it’s crime fiction with 4.4 stars average from 176 reviews.

 

51sb4mfnwgl-_uy250_

The Game You Played at Amazon.

 

811cmjhfbnl-_sl500__bg0000_fmpng_sr113160_
Hard Fall at Amazon.

 

51qmqeznnzl-_uy250_
The Old Man and the Tea at Amazon.

I chose The Old Man and the Tea, described as “Another fun-filled adventure” in the Reverend Elmo Jenkins series. It has an average of 4.4 stars from 385 reviews. The genre is Religious>Inspirational, but I’m always open to new genres. I expect it to be funny, not preachy. Let’s see what happens.

Be aware, these books are usually offered for FREE for just one or two days. The Top 100 Free list changes constantly because it’s affected strongly by daily promos. The Top 100 Paid list is more stable because it reflects the steady daily paid sales of the books. It can also be influenced by strong promo sales, especially those $0.99 sales on BookBub.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

angelsguardianforbanner

Do you like Paranormal Urban Fantasy? Want to try a new genre and a story full of suspense, action, humor, and romance? Try Zeece Lugo’s Angel’s Guardian series, now available on Amazon.

Took or Baggins? Part 3

Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party. (Tolkien titled each chapter.)

   -Preparations begin for Bilbo’s 111th birthday and Frodo’s 33,rd as they both share the same birthday, September 22nd. A party like no other is planned. Rich Bilbo spares no expense.

   -Gandalf arrives with fireworks. He and Bilbo discuss the Hobbit’s plan to leave the Shire and bequeath all he owns to his nephew Frodo, including The Ring.

   -The party goes off as planned. At the end, Bilbo makes a farewell speech and secretly dons the ring. He disappears in a poof, to the consternation of all his guests.

   -At the last minute, Bilbo experiences an inner struggle; he yearns to keep The Ring. The Ring clearly owns a piece of his soul and works its evil, but with Gandalf’s help, he is able to walk away from it and leave it to Frodo. 

   -Before leaving, Gandalf warns Frodo that The Ring may be dangerous and not to use it.

Wonderful Quote:

 I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

My Thoughts: 

Chapter 1 serves primarily to paint the image of the Hobbit and the Shire in the eye of the reader. It’s one thing to be told that Hobbits love to eat and have hairy feet. It’s another to see them as a people interacting, gossiping, drinking, blowing smoke rings, living with round doors painted in bright greens and yellows, time marked only by the gentle passing of the seasons. Their idyllic simplicity and lack of concern with the outside world makes them both admirable and vulnerable. I want to both join them and shake them up. But more than anything, I want to protect their world and keep them safe and innocent.

Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past.

   -Frodo becomes his own master. The years pass and he grows more like Bilbo. Rumors of evil and darkness seep into the Shire, but no one pays any mind. Strangers are seen crossing through the Shire.

   -After a long absence, Gandalf reappears. He tells Frodo all he has learned of The Ring, and tests the ring in fire. He tells Frodo of the making and losing of The Ring, of how Gollum found it and was changed by it, and how Bilbo truly got The Ring. He tells that the Dark Lord seeks it because it is the one master ring that rules all the other rings.

   -Gandalf warns Frodo that the enemy finally is aware of the Shire and the name Baggins. 

   -Frodo accepts that to save all he loves, he must leave and take The Ring away from the Shire. Gandalf tells him he need not go alone. Caught eavesdropping on the conversation, Samwise Gangee is chosen to go with Frodo.

 

My Thoughts:

This chapter is all about The Ring. Most of it is narrative in Gandalf’s words. Here we finally get the true picture of The Ring’s nature and its ability to influence and possess its bearer. Frodo struggles with the decision of being the one who has to take The Ring away and his fear of  being insufficient to the task.  

The temptation of Gandalf is quite interesting too. As powerful and central a character as he is, he’s always steady and unchanging at his core. He’s not  the dynamic character in this tale. We also get a compelling  image of Smeagol/Gollum. He has always, in my opinion, been the most deeply moving and disturbing character in the series. 

  

Chapter 3: Three is Company.

   -Gandalf presses Frodo to leave soon. Frodo promises to leave on his 50th birthday.

   -Frodo sells Bag End to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and buys a small house at Crickhollow, near Buckleberry. He tells everyone that he is retiring there.

   -Gandalf warns Frodo never to use The Ring and leaves for the southern borders to search for news. He promises to be back before Frodo’s departure.

   -On the evening of Frodo’s departure, a stranger shows up at the village asking about Frodo. 

   -Gandalf fails to return. Frodo, Sam, and Pippin leave quietly. Merry left earlier in the morning with the moving cart.

   -The traveling party walks, talks, sings, eats, rests. The first encounter with the Dark  Rider happens. Frodo feels a strong urge to wear the ring.

   -The second appearance of a sniffing, tracking Dark Rider is interrupted by the appearance of a band of traveling elves. Upon hearing about the Black Riders, their leader, Gildor Inglorion, invites the Hobbits to go along with the elves. Sam is delighted with the elves!

   -They reach a grassy clearing surrounded by woods under the starlit night. The elves play the gracious hosts to the Hobbits. Later, Frodo and Gildor hold a long conversation. The elf advices Frodo to go quickly toward Rivendell, to take companions, and to evade the Black Riders, for they serve the enemy.

Wonderful quotes:

 -The wide world is all about you; you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.

-Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

– …advice is a dangerous gift.

– Courage is found in unlikely places.

My Thoughts:

If Chapter 1 was about Hobbits, this one is about elves! I cannot but share Sam’s delight and awe of the beautiful, wise, glowing, merry but mysterious creatures.   

What to Read? Part 3

Rogue Wave was #3 on the Top 100 Free on July 27th. Today it sits at #15. 

I chose it because it’s not a romance, but a book that anyone, female or male, young or old, might enjoy. It’s by author Christopher Cartwright, book #4 of his Sam Reilly series, which I have never read or even knew existed until I saw the book on the Top Free list. I noted that this is the only free book he offers, but it’s not first in a series. 

The book starts with a prologue. The prologue is quite effective at creating suspense and mystery. Five days before the main story starts, a wealthy, handsome, thirty-eight-year-old engineer Luke Eldridge gets ready to compete in a regatta. He has been threatened by a mysterious conglomerate not to sail until he has made a decision on a billion-dollar offer for a scientific discovery he and colleagues have made. The scientific discovery will change the world, and this evil conglomerate wants it. 

The writing is concise; the short, clear sentences will appeal to those looking for action-clad, to-the-point reading. The writing moves quickly and is mostly dialogue based. The setting is present-day, starting out in Colorado, moving out to a research vessel in the Caribbean Sea. The main character is Sam Reilly, a billionaire oceanographer hired to look into death of an old-school-friend: Luke Eldridge was killed by a strange rogue wave that hit only his racing yacht during the previously mentioned regatta! 

On to the rest of the book! 

Well, I finished reading Rogue Wave in record time. My opinion: this is a fast, shallow read with a great deal of pseudo-science built from a few scientific facts. Every character is either a billionaire, a genius, stunningly beautiful, or all of these. There are no love or sex scenes, no deep characters, and by the end of the book, I still had no idea what the main protagonist looks like. 

Is the book worth reading? IN MY OPINION, if it’s free and you’re looking for a quick read to see you through a few hours on a plane or a book that will not tax your emotional state much, you might give this book a go. It’s the equivalent of an Indiana Jones movie without the adorable Indiana Jones. There are tantalizing glimpses of the previous adventures of Sam Reilly such as the finding of Atlantis, proving the existence of “The Master Builders,” and saving the world from a deadly virus. You might be better off trying the first book in the series.

Took or Baggins? Part 2

I am reading The Fellowship of the Ring, which is the first of the LOTR trilogy. (ISBN 0-345-33970-3) At the time I bought it, years ago, it cost $6.99 for the paperback copy. It’s the Ballantine edition, containing a foreword by Tolkien himself. 

One thing that drew my attention is that toward the end of the foreword, Tolkien complains about other paperback editions being published without his consent. He states that only the Ballantine edition is the one he approved and encourages readers not to buy any other! And here I was thinking that stealing authors’ work was a recent thing born of the internet. Obviously not. 

While most readers skip the Foreword (I seldom pay a second’s attention to it), this time I have made a special effort to trudge through it. I’m glad I did. First of all, this is Tolkien himself talking about his work. In my mind, silly as it sounds, he’s talking from beyond the grave, as he’s been dead many years. 

Tolkien denies that his books had anything to do with the war (WWII) and points to the fact that his work’s origins go back way before the war. His main motive in writing the works was to “…hold the attention of the readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them.” Those are the reasons any true writer writes. 

The writing of the series (LOTR) went on from 1936 through 1949! Today, authors put out a book every three months. Anyone who doesn’t produce in numbers is not considered a true writer. But Tolkien, one of the most beloved and successful authors in the English language, did not write every day! His duties, his interests, and the war got in the way. It took him thirteen years, but he never gave up. 

A final point of observation I have is in the way Tolkien writes, primarily his sentence structure. His sentences are complex, often taking up the space of a small paragraph. He uses plenty of commas and an abundance of semicolons. He also does not skimp on the word “that.” 

I don’t find his work difficult to read.  I don’t see many extremely hard or out-of-date words. Words like “laborious, decrepitude, and allegorical” are few and can be easily Googled by anyone who has never heard them. 

The one thing that may make him difficult for today’s reader is that he requires the reader to hold more than one line of thought within one sentence. Today’s readers want to get there fast. They have little patience for the meandering way. 

Tolkien’s Foreword is not without humor. At one point, he talks about his reviewers: 

Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writings that they evidently prefer. 

Here is a genius writing books that eighty years later are still selling, and he had reviewers who put him down! Some of the indies on Facebook and Goodreads should learn from him.

At the end of his Foreword, he dedicates his book to us across the water. America. He obviously knew that we, across the water, would continue to buy millions of his books for many years to come. Smart marketing move, the dedication!

On to the Prologue, where we are filled in on all kinds of background info on the Hobbits.