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Book of the Week #63 "Close To You"

by Kara Isaac

Dr. Allison Shire is the most over-qualified tour guide on the planet. Her lifelong love of Tolkien compelled her to earn a PhD in English Literature from Oxford. When she met Derek, the two married after a whirl-wind romance and moved to Allison's home country of New Zealand where she got a lecturing job at her Alma Matter Auckland University, which is where a woman she'd never met before informed her that she was married to her husband. Now, after Derek has racked up thousands of dollars of debt in her name, Allie finds herself working as a tour guide of the movie locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings in New Zealand. Taking the job and the fact that Derek is stringing their annulment out in an excruciating fashion has left her bitter and she's forgotten why she loved literature and Tolkien in the first place. Jackson Gregory is in a similar boat. He's worked hard to become as successful as he is and prove himself to be above his farm-boy upbringing in Iowa. Yet when his girlfriend leaves him for his biggest business competitor, he's lost everything- his "friends," his living, his business, and the money he planned to use for his family's farm. Though he couldn't care less about Tolkien's works, he agrees to accompany his great-uncle, Louis, on a trip to New Zealand for a luxury Tolkien tour. He hopes that if he can get Louis to believe he loves Tolkien as much as the next, that he'll loan him the money to pay back his investors, save the family farm, and start a new business. Yet he may be in for a lot more than he's bargained for.

I don't read a ton of contemporary romance. From time to time, I'll find one that I'm interested in, but it isn't one of my favorite genres. When I read about Close To You, I was interested in it. Recently, the Kindle edition was on sale for $1.99, and that seemed like a good time to try it out. I wound up enjoying the book. It has lots of twists and turns, and that made me like it more than if it had just been a plain romance. And I like the Tolkien theme. Granted, I haven't read any of Tolkien's books, but they are on my list and I think that made the whole book more interesting.

I like Allie and I felt sorry for her after what Derek had put her through. He's definitely what my mom would call an "unsavory type." He was just mean and had no concern for anyone but himself; the very definition of a villain. Jackson sort of got on my nerves in the beginning, but the more the story unfolds, the more you see why he was as bitter as he was in the beginning. Time and getting to know Allie softened him, and I was glad to see that. I liked Louis, too. He's very wise and seems like a nice guy; the sort of person you'd want to be your grandfather.

All in all, Close To You was a nice read that any die-hard fan of contemporary romance will adore, and occasional fans will enjoy as well.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Names For Cats

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Today at The Broke and The Bookish, we were asked to pick ten fictional characters we would like to name something after. Kids, pets, etc... I decided to go with pets since I've had pets all my life, and cats in particular. I picked ten characters that I  really like, and that I think have neat names that would be great for anyone's pet cat.

10: Cress, Cress
The name "Cress" sounds like it would be a neat name for a cat.

Any name from To Kill A Mockingbird would be great for a cat (I used to have a cat named Atticus) but Boo is the most fun, I think.

8: Gatsby, The Great Gatsby
Any debonair feline fellow would suit the name of Gatsby. Or Catsby? Eh? Eh?

7: Valancy, The Blue Castle
Another unique name that would suit a sweet kitty just fine.

Merinda is a really neat name, and seeing as she's always described as having green cat eyes, I think her name would be delightful for a cat. Of course, if you had a Merinda, you would need a Jem to keep her compnay.

5: Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
When I graduated high school my parents threw a combination graduation party for me/ birthday party for my grandma. One of my cousins gave me the DVD of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice and another cousin gave me a stuffed penguin, so naturally, I named him Mr. Darcy. It would also be an excellent name for a feline friend.

If you have a Mr. Darcy, why not have a Lizzy, too?

Topaz is a really neat name and would be purrfect (okay, I'll stop with the puns.) for a cat.

2: Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
In A Castle in the Sky, Abi gets a cat and names him Heathcliff. I thought that was the perfect name to christen a cat for a book lover like Abi.

I had to. What would be better than an orange cat named Anne (with an "e," of course)?

Are any of you cat lovers? Have you named your cats after fictional characters? Let me know in the comments!

-Miranda Atchley

Non Bookish Happenings

Hey readers and friends. I hope October is treating you well thus far. If not, well, there are 21 more days for it to start treating you well. Today I thought I'd check in with a few non-bookish tidbits going on in my world. For a while, I was really struggling with the project I'm working on. Things just weren't moving. Thankfully, that has passed and I'm getting back on track. When things like that happen, I think it's best to step away and take a break for a week or two. I like to work on something else, whether it's other writing projects or painting, and come back refreshed. In this case I went with working on paintings (and some blog posts; the girls over at The Broke and The Bookish have picked topics for Top Ten Tuesday all the way into next year, so I've been working on some of those posts.) and a few other crafty things.

I painted some Mason jars to look like candy corn, as I've seen others do online. I know Mason jar are oh-so-trendy right now, and I must admit I'm not one of those people that is all about the Mason jars, but, when you do things like this with them, I think they're cute. I made them to sell at this local event our town holds the first Saturday of each month called "Trade Days." It's basically an open flea market where they close off both ends of Main Street and let people set up to sell things. I usually bring my books and a few items that I no longer use, and my mom sells things, too. Sadly, I didn't sell anything, but that's just the way it goes sometimes.

The one pictured above was the first one that I painted. In person, you can still see the jar shining through the yellow and orange paint, so when I worked on the others, I painted them solid white, and then put the yellow and orange on and that worked much better. The white sort of acted like a primer. I'm sure you could find primer for these and that would work even better, but I didn't have any of that so I improvised.

We had some pumpkins grow in back yard voluntarily this summer. They're pie pumpkins, so they're small. I painted a few, and my favorites are the Jack and Sally ones. The Nightmare Before Christmas is my favorite movie. I also painted one to look like a Jack-o-lantern with glow-in-the-dark paint.

Can you all tell that I love fall? As if I hadn't written about it all summer.... But it's true; October is my favorite month of the year. I love Halloween. I know most don't expect Christians to love Halloween, and I respect that it isn't for everyone, but I love it. I don't view it as a satanic holiday; I just see it as a time of the year in which you can decorate with spooky decor and eat lots of candy. Plus, my birthday is four days before Halloween, and that always makes this time of year even more fun for me!

Thank you all for stopping by today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

-Miranda Atchley

Lately 10.13.2016

October is my favorite month of the year. My birthday is in October, I love Halloween, the leaves are starting to change color and the weather is cooling off. It's just the best time of year in my opinion. This month has already been busy for me and it's going to continue to be busy. I get tired thinking of all the work I have planned and all the sleep I'll be losing. But I'm okay with it; it's all going to be worth it!

This month is the Emma read-along, and I have been participating in that. I'm enjoying the book so far. I'm also reading Kara Isaac's Close To You. I don't read a whole lot of contemporary romance, but sometimes I like to read some, so when this book was on sale for $1.99, I thought I'd give it a try. I'm also reading some books on my Kindle about the suffragette movement to get inspiration for the book I'm currently working on. The other day, I downloaded My Own Story by Emmeline Pankhurst and A History of Women's Suffrage Volumes I, II, III, IV, and V, by various authors, including Susan B. Anthony, which were all free. I also downloaded Women's Suffrage: A Short History of a Great Movement by Millicent Fawcett, which was a mere $0.99 for the Kindle edition on Amazon. It's a little bit different than the others since Millicent Fawcett was British, but it's still an interesting read. And, to top all of that off, I have a couple of books checked out from the library about WWI. The war doesn't play a huge role in the book I'm working on, but it will help as I write about the year 1917. Truthfully, I'll probably just skim the WWI books for information that would be most important to my project since I don't have all the time in the world that I would love to have to read. That's a lot of reading, which is obviously a huge part of being a writer. Good thing I love to read, right? And then, our library is having their annual book sale starting October 18. Yay for cheap books! I wanted to encourage you all to support your local libraries when they have book sales. It's really important because so many times people over look public libraries and they don't get the funds that they need. Libraries slowly begin to crumble and it really is sad to think of.

Still working on my sequel. It still doesn't have a title. Hopefully it will have one soon, though. I've been thinking of ideas for a cover, so maybe the title will come soon. My plan at the moment is to write at least three more novels for this series, making five in total. I have quite of bit of work done on book #3 in the series, and after that I'm planning to write a Christmas novella taking place in 1920. It's a lot of fun and I think it will be fun to work on it this Christmas season, and then publish next December.

So there is a lot of reading and writing taking place this month, which I'm grateful for, because those are my two favorite things. I hope you all have a great October! Thanks for stopping by today!

-Miranda Atchley

Emma Read-Along Discussion #1

Hey readers and friends! On Sunday, Amber posted the first discussion questions for the Emma read-along. I've been enjoying the book so far, and am looking forward to reading more of it!

Discussion Questions

What are your first impressions of Mr. Knightley and his relationship with Emma? Do his words about her and his attitude suggest genuine care or a sense of superiority?
I don't have a fully formed opinion of Mr. Knightley quite yet. As for his interactions with Emma, I think he might find her annoying. And as far as general care vs. superiority, I think it may be a mix of both.

Mr. Knightley tells Emma "You have been no friend to Harriet Smith." (ch. 8) To what degree do you agree or disagree with this statement?
I'm somewhat on the fence with this. I think Emma is oblivious to her shortcomings; she doesn't realize that she's bossy and so she thinks she's being a good friend to Harriet. But, if she wants to remain friends and have good relationships with other, she's going to have to learn to give people room and let them make their own decisions.

Who is your favorite secondary character? (Someone besides Emma or Mr. Knightley) What do you admire about or find interesting about the character?
I like Mr. Woodhouse. I relate to him because he likes to stay home and keeps a close circle of friends like I do. And he seems like a comforting sort of person, sort of like Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, only a little more eccentric.

Which Woodhouse do most closely match? Emma, her sister (Isabella), or her father?
Mr. Woodhouse, Emma's father.

See you next week with discussion post number two!

My Life According to Book Titles

I've seen this tag going around from a few different bloggers. It sounded like fun, so I decided to do it. There are thirteen topics and you fill in the blanks with different book titles as your answers. I had fun filling out the answers, and I hope you have fun reading them. :)

Describe yourself:
(I have sense, but I'm prone to sensibility at times.)

How do you feel today?
(So much to do, so little time.)

Describe where you live:

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
(Prince Edward Island sounds amazing.)

Your favorite form of transportation:
(Couldn't think of an answer for this one.)

Your best friend is:
(My mom is the sweetest and the best!)

You and your friends are:
(I love my friends.)

What's the weather like?
Blue Like Jazz
(Stealing Amber's answer because it's a good one and quite fitting. :))

You fear:
(Okay, I know that the Hunger Games aren't real, but I have had nightmares about being thrown into the arena. I'm so glad that the Hunger Games aren't real!)

What's the best advice you have to give?
(Focus on what matters most.)

Thought for the day:
(God will never forget me!)

How would you like to die?
(I'd prefer to leave the war out of it, but I'd hope to go peacefully.)

Your souls present condition:
(Things may not be the way I want them to be right now, but they'll get better someday.)

If you want to do this tag, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments. I'd love to read your answers!

-Miranda Atchley

Book of the Week #62 "Bleeding Heart"

by Amber Stokes

Sally Clay is a soiled dove. After leaving her home in Missouri only to have her heart broken by Jack Harvel, she's been working in a brothel. Yet after three years, she's through with the sordid life she finds herself in, and hearing that Jack is working in the redwoods of Oregon, she sets off to find him and make him see what he caused her to do, with Joe Clifton and Myghal and tagging along. Joe's heart is still broken after Elizabeth broke off their engagement and married David. He finds that he has feelings for Sally, but he's reluctant to act upon them. Myghal is also smitten with the blonde whose blue eyes flash with fire. And the wealthy Rufus O'Daniel isn't taking kindly to Sally turning down his proposal. When Sally finds that Jack is married, she's devastated. In haste, she marries Joe and they go back to his home in Virginia City, where even more heartache lies for them.

I must admit, I liked this story just a tad better than Forget Me Not, though I wasn't expecting to. There's a lot going on in this book, but it all ties together very well in ways you wouldn't expect. And The Thing that happens around the half-way mark- oh my goodness! I was not expecting that.

I liked Sally, though I wasn't expecting to. One feels sorry for her as her story unfolds, but she's strong and there's a fire inside of her that has kept her going through all that she's been through. I was glad to see her have a happy ending after all that happened to her.

All in all, this was another good story from Amber Stokes that fans of historical romance will surely enjoy.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.