Friday, March 25, 2016

Best Books of March

It's time once again to tell you about the best books I read this month. Here are the month's best!

If you've read my blog before, you know I love Kristina Springer's books. So, of course, I was excited to learn she has a new book coming out. And I was even more excited to get an advanced copy of it from the publisher. That means I get to tell you about it before it comes out in the hopes you'll pre-order it and boost her first-day sales! This is her book:

As with every Kristina Springer book, I found myself wondering why I didn't come up with this fantabulous idea. I think my forehead is bruised from hitting myself in the head over it! Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker is a modern-day twist on the Cyrano de Bergerac story. Only instead of passing letters to the guy her friend is too shy to talk to, Cici sets up a fake Twitter account and communicates with him on there. I know...brilliant, right? And, as always, she throws tons of tension in there and keeps you turning each page, eager to see that happy ending that had better be coming!

How can you see the cover of this next book and not want to open it up and see what's inside?

The Eighth Day is the first in Dianne K. Salerni's Eighth Day series and it starts off with a bang. A 13-year-old boy wakes up one day to find he's the only person around. Cars are parked on the road, just as they were when he went to bed the night before. What he soon finds out is that he's stumbled upon the eighth day--a day of the week only a small group of people are around to enjoy. But there is a dark side to the eighth day...and that dark side is what brings the action that will keep you reading the next book and the next and the next.

I love this blogging community because it introduces me to books I wouldn't have read otherwise. Books like Travelers by Meradeth Houston, a time travel that is awesomesauce. Seriously!

One of the most complicated things about writing a time travel book is making the travel vehicle believable. In Travelers, the author gets that out of the way by creating characters who are travelers. It's just how they were born. Their way of life comes with very strict rules, including that they can never travel outside of their lifetime. When something happens that breaks all the rules, the main character is forced to try to make things right again. This book combines time travel with action and a little romance...once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down.

Just after finishing Travelers, I dove into a more serious book. Jumping from time travel to the real world was an interesting experience, especially since I went from one book to the other in the same sitting! The real-world book I chose was Beverly Stowe McClure's Under a Purple Moon.

We like to close our eyes and pretend that bad parents don't exist, but they do. As the author illustrates in Under a Purple Moon, there are lost children out there, abandoned by their parents but afraid to find out what happens if they turn their neglectful parents in. Eden and her friend Murphy have created a home for themselves in an abandoned house. When two new friends join them, they create a family of their own. But nothing lasts forever. I wanted to adopt Eden by the end of the book. A compelling, dramatic read that is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

My next book is something different. I haven't read a book of poetry in a long, long time. But Lidy Wilks is such a talented blogger and great friend, I had to check it out. Plus, look at this colorful cover:

Can You Catch My Flow? is a compilation of poetry that covers different phases of a person's life. After reading, I noticed that these poems were written starting when the author was young, progressing to today. It feels as though we're maturing with Lidy as we read, but the poetry is beautifully written from the first page. The book is a statement about youth, maturity, and parenthood, as well as the deeper meaning of life.

Did you read any good books this month?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Introducing Out of the Ashes by Kelly Hashway

Kelly Hashway has been a busy writer lately. Earlier this year, she released Into the Fire, the first in a series. Now she's releasing the second book in the series, Out of the Ashes. Check out the cover...and scroll down to read all about it.


Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s worst nightmare has come true… 

She’s been reborn as a Phoenix and has forgotten everything from her first life—including Logan Schmidt. He’s handsome and protective, but with no recollection, he can’t be trusted. 

Accused of being a Hunter, Logan’s mortality is put to the test… 

Logan isn’t willing to admit he and Cara are over—not even after he watches her rise from her own ashes. 

While the other Phoenixes are convinced Logan is a sworn enemy, a group of deadly Hunters are sure he is a Phoenix. Only being guilty of loving Cara, he must prove them all wrong—and convince Cara she loves him. 

However, a magical link may be the demise of Logan’s devotion… 

With the Hunters hot on their heels, it’s up to Logan to save Cara. But when the dagger calls out, Logan is drawn to its power. 

Cara’s missing memories may not be the only obstacle standing between her and Logan. Their relationship isn’t just complicated—it’s deadly. And when Cara finds herself at a crossroad, she is forced to choose… 

She can plunge into the darkness of her treacherous fate, or use her Phoenix instincts to once again rise Out of The Ashes.


Kelly Hashway fully admits to being one of the most accident-prone people on the planet, but that didn’t stop her from jumping out of an airplane at ten thousand feet one Halloween. Maybe it was growing up reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books that instilled a love of all things scary and a desire to live in a world filled with supernatural creatures, but she spends her days writing speculative fiction for young adults, middle graders, and young children. Kelly’s also a sucker for first love, which is why she writes YA and NA romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she’s not writing, Kelly works as an editor and also as Mom, which she believes is a job title that deserves to be capitalized. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency. 


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rod Serling: A Literary Genius

Someday, long after we're gone, certain television pioneers will be regarded as true literary talents. Not the grudging, "pop culture" respect we show talented entertainment writers today, but Charles Dickens/William Shakespeare levels of respect.

One of those literary geniuses is Rod Serling. I wasn't alive when The Twilight Zone originally aired in the late 50s/early 60s. I remember watching it in reruns on Saturday mornings in the mid-80s.

The show was sheer brilliance. Many of the episodes were written by Serling himself. He's known for being among the first writer to clash with network executives over issues like censorship and racism.

In my 20s, I finally watched all five seasons of The Twilight Zone, thanks to SyFy. I watched them again a couple of years ago. You can find four seasons on Netflix and all seasons on YouTube.

Recently I noticed Night Gallery among my recommended shows on Hulu. Night Gallery was a later series of Serling's, airing in the early 70s. The pilot for the show aired in 1969 and featured a segment directed by Stephen Spielberg in his directorial debut. Spielberg's segment starred worst-mom-ever Joan Crawford:

Once I saw Night Gallery out there, I had to watch. But only after asking my mom (a Twilight Zone fan) if it was worth it. She said yes, so I started with episode one and just kept going. One of the spookiest was this one, about a woman who keeps having a dream about a certain house:

There was also one about a doll that was scary to look at...even 46 years later! As I was watching the episodes, I thought, "Something tells me this episode was pretty impactful." Sure enough, a basic Google search found that horror director Guillermo Del Toro saw the episode as a child and calls it, "as scared as I've ever been in anything."

Stephen King is said to be a Rod Serling fan, a fact he mentioned in Danse Macabre. In fact, the episode Fright Night (which aired in 1973) seemed eerily similar to the book The Shining (which was published in 1977). Writer and wife isolated in a home where he gradually succumbs to possession...and where he eventually tries to kill his wife. Sound familiar?

Then came the third season, which kicked off with an episode where Vincent Price and Bill Bixby have dinner with a goat. And Vincent Price explains that the goat is his father. Take the goat as a bad omen and stop watching. Trust me on that!

Dinner with a goat kicked off the very bad third season of Night Gallery.
If you have Hulu, check out the first and second seasons of Night Gallery. Rod Serling distanced himself from the show during the third season and you can tell. It was just...BAD. Goatfather-at-dinner bad.

What's your favorite classic TV show?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Unsolved Mysteries from A to Z

Today is a big, big day in the blogosphere. More than 1,500 people have signed up to participate in the A to Z Challenge.

And today is the day we all get to reveal our themes.

Each year, I choose a topic that I consider interesting. After all, this is something we'll be writing about for an entire month. This month, I chose something that innately fascinates me...


Here it is...

No, not the late-1900s TV show--although the theme is similar to the stories Robert Stack introduced every week. 

All month, I will be sharing my fascination with unsolved mysteries. From missing persons to strange historic phenomena--hopefully you'll find it as fascinating as I do.

The fun will begin April 1st. If you don't know what A to Z is, I highly recommend it. I made so many great friends last year. Sign up here.