Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a #shortstory by Jan Sikes – Satin and Cinders. This is a sweet love story between a privileged horse and a wild stallion.
I’m currently halfway through another of Jan’s books, as well as an historical fiction memoir and a book about NLP therapy, but I wanted to put up a last review before I take a blogging break later this week, and pulled up this sweet short story on my BFK. I’m looking forward to a timeout and a readathon on the beach – in between having actual conversations with human beings.
A wild black stallion has cautiously watched a beautiful white mare, from the safety of the forest for many years. He longs to be with her, and ventures close to the barn nightly to communicate with her. They share their deepest desires and secrets. Now it is winter, and the rest of the wild herd has moved on, but the stallion stays. He cannot stand the thought of being so far away from her. The scent of sweet alfalfa hay and the enticing lure of the white mare is too much for him. He must find a way to be with her. But will it be worth the risk? Satin and Cinders is a story of courage and determination.
My 5 Star Review:
This was a sweet love story about two horses in love. This story could have been about any two people, but it’s about a beautiful mare, Satin, and the wild black stallion, Cinders, who are in love and separated by living standards and a fence. Cinders narrates. The author does a wonderful job of bringing the emotions to life and writing about the horse’s thoughts, inviting us into their story. An equine love story with a human feel.
What a fun prompt. As I don’t have the fortitude or time right now to hop on to every daily WordPress #bloganuary challenge, this is one topic I thought would be fun to join in with – What emoji(s) do you like to use?
As a person who is naturally animated when she speaks, emojis are always an accompaniment to all my posts and comments – as many of you know. For me, they are accessories to punctuation and emotions. For many in my closer circles, I will add a heart and at the very least, I’ll always add a smiley face after commenting. For me, it’s like speaking to someone while wearing a smile.
Emojis are used to add fun and expression of feelings and emotions. I’m inclined to think that people who use them are also people who like using their hands in animation to convey expression. That would definitely be me. I use them in comments and social media, and even sometimes on a post. ❣
If you’d like to join in and/or receive the daily question prompts from WordPress, find the rules below:
Welcome to my January Writer’s Tips. In this month’s edition of posts I hand picked from my reading trails, I’ve found some informative articles for writers from authors, Natalie Ducey – how to add weblinks on #Instagram, publishing predictions for 2022 by agent Laurie McLean at the blog of Anne R. Allen, ideas for promoting sequels on #Bookbub, book promotion blunders by Kathy Steinemann, and, how to use dashes in fiction by Louise Harnby.
Natalie Ducey has a helpful tutorial on how to add weblinks on #Instagram
Anne R. Allen, guest writer, agent Laurie McLean shares her predictions for the publishing world 2022
12 Clever ideas for promoting sequels on Bookbub
Fiction editor and proofreader, Louise Harnby shares, how to use dashes in fiction for both U.S. and U.K.
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. This week’s featured book is for Stevie Turner’s novella – Scam! A story that will keep you engaged until the end. This story showcases just how easily people are sucked into scams.
Lauren West and Ben Hughes are saving frantically for their forthcoming marriage and mortgage deposit. When Lauren sees an advert online from a firm of brokers extolling the profits to be gained by buying and selling Bitcoins, she is interested enough to pursue it further.
Lauren clicks on the advert. She is soon contacted by Paul Cash, a knowledgeable stockbroker whom Lauren trusts straight away. He is affable, plausible, and seemingly genuinely interested in her welfare. Lauren looks forward to making enough money to be able to surprise Ben and bring the date of their wedding forward, and also to put a deposit down on their ideal house.
What could possibly go wrong?
My Five Star Review:
I enjoy Turner’s women’s fiction stories and Scam!, held me captive to the very end. This story demonstrates just how vulnerable people are to the savvy tech scammers.
Lauren and Ben, both teachers, are saving to buy their own home, in the meantime, they are living with Ben’s parents. Lauren is eager to get her own home as she feels stifled and judged all the time by Ben’s mother. Lauren thinks she’s struck gold when she finds an online opportunity to invest in Bitcoin. The problem is, her and Ben have worked hard to save the $20 K so far for a deposit on a new home, and this opportunity looked tempting to double her money quickly. Lauren is sure everything looks legit and decides to take the plunge without telling Ben because she wants to surprise him when she makes the money – a sure thing says Paul ‘Cash’, her online stockbroker.
What could go wrong is a loaded question. This may be a novella, but as usual, this author knows how to pack in a lot of suspense in her short stories. I do not want to give out spoilers here, so I will just say that a simple scam turns into way more than just the scam itself, escalating into burglary and even murder. That should be enough to tempt. At approximately 100 pages this story reads fast because there’s always something happening, making it hard to put down and not difficult to read in one sitting.
Author, Diana Peach has a fun writing challenge going on – Write a story about your TBR pile. Great topic as so many of us writers and readers make jokes about how fat our Kindles are. I’ve written a poem about my BFK – My big fat Kindle.
If you’d like to play, here’s how it works:
Deadline is January 23rd
Post the story or poem on your blog
Link back to this post or leave your link in the comments below
Keep it family friendly
I will reblog as many of the entries as I can through the end of the January
Please reply to comments when I reblog your story or poem
I’ll post a summary with links in early February
You may use the (attribution free) pixabay image above if you want to
And most of all, Have Fun!
MY BFK (My Big Fat Kindle)
Stories and more stories
We cannot get enough.
Amazing how many books,
Makes choosing one to read real tough.
No more books we chant
While adding just one more.
Adding different genres,
Excuse to add some more.
Promotional or free,
An author friend's new release,
My enthusiasm heightens,
A brand new read for me.
That's how fast it happens,
Before realizing the count.
What's one more book,
As the rising number mounts?
We are fooled by our Kindles,
At the lack of hefty weight.
Do we even know how many,
No matter because books are great.
So my Kindle and bookshelves,
Spill over with stories and words.
Yet another book is added,
My no more books plan is for the birds.
Though I know my Kindle
Is bursting at the seams,
I'll continue to hit the buy button,
To read more, fulfilling author's dreams.
WordPress has started #bloganuary, prompting writers with a different question daily, and reminds to tag the post Bloganuary in your tag section so it shows up in the reader with other Bloganuary posts. Also, don’t forget to share these posts on social media using the hashtag #Bloganuary.
Today’s a great day to blog, and the Bloganuary prompt is:
Promote your blog post on social media, using the hashtag #bloganuary.
What Does It Mean to Live Boldly?
I hopped on to this prompt because it felt appropriate as I’ve been struggling with my decision about going on my long awaited winter escape to Mexico. I’ve eagerly been awaiting this much needed escape, despite my being a Covid hermit for much of the last two years. I avidly follow news reports, Covid reports, country alerts etc. and even though my airline has canceled my flight a few times and my managing to book new flights, the apprehension looms with my anxiety of braving the elements while also hoping my new flight will remain.
I’ve spent a lot of time battling my two minds, or my mind and my heart, and after all I’m seeing and hearing with Covid reports, it appears as of now, Mexico is doing better than my own country! So I’ve decided, Covid here, Covid there, minus 20 here with grey skies and seclusion, sunshine and 88 degrees and several of my friends have already arrived there, what am I fussing about?
With all my weighing out, and despite my biggest fear of passing my Covid test to get back to Canada when the trip is done, I can mask up there as well as I mask up here. So yes, I’ve decided that I’m going to live boldly and go ahead with my travel plans. If I spent the rest of my life worrying about what could happen, I’d never do anything. This virus is heading into its third year. Nothing is going to change for a very long time as long as the world doesn’t reach herd immunity. It’s every man for himself to stay protected no matter where we go. If we wait to get back to living, when will that actually be? Years more, no doubt and more spikes and mutations to be had. Another day of living life is no guarantee. Every day is a gift. If we keep pushing off plans for living, who knows if we’ll be capable of traveling next year or the next year. Tomorrows are never guaranteed.
So yes, I’m going to live boldly instead of cowering behind my fears. I’m going to head for sun and sea with best efforts and begin to loosen the load of worry and act like the excited going away person that I should be savoring at this time instead of dreading. Ole!
*Don’t forget to sign up for the daily prompt if you feel like jumping into one for the month of January. If you missed or deleted the signup invite post from WordPress, you can sign up from the original post page.
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a book I came across that immediately grabbed my attention – Widowish: A Memoir by Melissa Gould. I thought the title was attention grabbing, and as a new widow myself, I felt compelled to read to see why the title had an ‘ish’ attached, it had me curious as to the meaning – did ‘ish’ mean kind of a widow? Sometimes a widow? So I dug in to discover and you will discover my findings in my review below.
With over 5000, 4 1/2 star ratings, I can certainly appreciate this woman’s journey of grief, confusion, guilt, and ultimately, finding happiness on her journey.
Melissa Gould’s hopeful memoir of grieving outside the box and the surprising nature of love.
When Melissa Gould’s husband, Joel, was unexpectedly hospitalized, she could not imagine how her life was about to change. Overwhelmed with uncertainty as Joel’s condition tragically worsened, she offered him the only thing she could: her love and devotion. Her dedication didn’t end with his death.
Left to resume life without her beloved husband and raise their young daughter on her own, Melissa soon realized that her and Joel’s love lived on. Melissa found she didn’t fit the typical mold of widowhood or meet the expectations of mourning. She didn’t look like a widow or act like a widow, but she felt like one. Melissa was widowish.
Melissa’s personal journey through grief and beyond includes unlikely inspiration from an evangelical preacher, the calming presence of some Real Housewives, and the unexpected attention of a charming musician.
A modern take on loss, Widowish illuminates the twists of fate that break our world, the determination that keeps us moving forward, and the surprises in life we never see coming.
My Four Star Review:
Amazon alerted me to this book on sale and as a new younger widow myself, I felt drawn to it. I could identify with so much of what Melissa had lived through. We read many books and stories about love and loss, but their meanings somehow give us a heftier impact when we have walked in the shoes.
Melissa’s world comes to a shocking stumble when her husband’s health takes a turn for the worse and has to come to terms with the loss of her loving husband Joel. She often finds herself not believing her husband is dead and it’s her friends that help her through the transition through widowhood. While her love is undying for her husband and some months have passed, Melissa finds herself conflicted as she discovers she’s having feelings for a family friend, a fellow musician, Marcos, from her husband’s circles. Joel was a musician and Marcos also performs guitar, along with all his other do good ventures – helping homeless, teaching guitar, and more. The friendship between Melissa and Marcos strengthens after Melissa asked Marcos to help sell Joel’s guitar collection.
Through Melissa’s journey of grief, she takes comfort in the signs she believes she receives from Joel – signs that come from odd places – songs, a preacher named Joel, and television Housewives. These signs give her comfort in knowing Joel is around and wants her to be happy.
Upon one of her meet ups with Marcos, Melissa begins to feel an attraction for him, and the feeling is mutual. Melissa goes through the conflicting part about still feeling married to someone who is no longer on earth and a struggle to move forward with her life, even though she feels terrified of her guilt for doing so. Her paranoia ensues between her feelings for Marco and her guilt for having those feelings, feeling as though she is betraying Joel. She elaborates on all the new ‘firsts’ in her life without her husband, the chores she inherited, the important dates that passed – holidays, birthdays, her daughter’s graduation and more. Melissa carries all her feelings while journeying through her new life alone, worrying about how her daughter and others would eventually accept her endeavoring into a new relationship. Her person craved the company and conversation while in doing so, the guilt within her for doing so plagued her. Her dilemma was her own guilt and worrying about what others would say about her in a new relationship. She didn’t want people to think just because she was trying to move forward that she didn’t miss or love her husband anymore. There are no rules about when someone is ready to move on after loss and Melissa worried that she was disappointing people by dating someone nine months after burying her husband, especially her daughter. She felt as though people were judging her for not showing her sadness and going on with her life despite her grief and the unvarnished love she would always hold for Joel.
I felt I got to know Melissa and Marcos better than any description paid to Joel and their daughter Sophie, but in all fairness, although the story was built upon Joel’s passing it’s really about Melissa’s journey through the event and her transition through grief. A relatable read for those of us who have loved and lost and an inside look at the struggles of grief and how it affects us, for those who’ve never walked in the shoes.
“Grief was my constant companion who occasionally took naps.”
“I wanted to get to the other side of my grief, not stay in it forever.”
“There’s no rhyme or reason to grief, when it hits you, it hits you.”
Most powerful statement that vibrated within me was when Melissa said that she could finally stop envisioning her husband sick and dying, she could envision him how he truly was at his best. I still await that day.
It’s a new year and a clean slate, and hopes are high that this year will be the end of the Coronavirus as we know it. But the fact remains that we are globally, high in virus and numbers, due to the the recent appearance of Omicron. We can all hope that as this virus continues, it will tamper down, lose it’s hurricane strength, and hopefully, no new strains will mutate. And in the meantime, because the world is already in chaos trying to stamp out this virus, we’re about to have our first Mercury Retrograde of 2022. Crazy times 2.0. It begins January 13th, lasting until February 3rd. But these dates are not inclusive. Like a full moon, retrogrades begin their ‘retroshade’ effects within a week or two of its arrival date, and can linger just as long after completion. And I’m already experiencing the shakeup.
When Mercury retrogrades, it is said that this is because retrograde indicates the planet is moving backwards, when in actuality, a faster moving planet passes Mercury in its pause, leaving a feeling of going backwards. Mercury travels around the sun in 88 days and takes a retrograde 3-4 times a year. Since Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, its orbit is shorter than earth’s. It’s like Mercury has to slow down to let other planets catch up in-between its cycle around the earth. Things that occur during this period can make us feel exactly like things are moving backwards as Mercury pauses and other planets pass by. This first retrograde of the year will be in Aquarius. There will be three Mercury Retrogrades this year, all of them in air signs (yup, that’s me). Signs most influenced by these retrogrades are the people who have their sun or rising signs the same as the sign each retrograde falls into.
Mercury Retrograde Chart for 2022
January 14 – February 3 starts in air sign Aquarius, ends in earth-sign Capricorn
May 10 – June 2 starts in air sign Gemini, ends in earth-sign Taurus
September 9 – October 2 starts in air-sign Libra, ends in earth-sign Virgo December 29 – January 18 in earth-sign Capricorn
Refresher Course: Mercury Retrograde
How does this affect our energy levels?
We can expect to have more or even less energy during this period, mostly of the nervous, unsettling or over-zealous type, causing possible bouts of anxiety. Each MR will fall in and affect particular signs more so than others.
What kinds of things are affected by a Mercury Retrograde?
Mercury rules our daily activities – technology, communications, contracts and relationships. When the planet is in retrograde we can expect glitches, delays and miscommunications in all of the above areas as Mercury is the ruler of communications. Extra vigilance should be paid to planned dates, appointments, signing contracts, editing, buying, selling, researching, negotiating, wills, documents, deeds, leases, and more. Most often affected are, computer issues, transportation and travel. It’s a period where we can expect the unexpected. In plain terms, when a planet is in retrograde, the planet takes a nap. And while it naps, it’s like it relinquishes its duties and the territory it usually stabilizes can run amok. This period is typically a good time to take a pause ourselves from big decision-making and a good time to reflect, journal, re-organize and re-evaluate our intentions, as well, it’s a good time to re-connect with people and/or projects from the past. As you may have noticed in the previous sentence, anything to do with ‘re’ as in redo, revisit, etc. is good to keep busy with during the MR period.
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And here I am, in the thick of a Mercury Retrograde. As I pretty much, limped through 2021 with a sick husband and then his ultimate dying, which left me in numb and shock and grief, and my consequent going through everything we lived and shared together and two months later, moving, and of course, all of this while living in a secluded Covid world, all that has kept me going these past few months has been to get the hell out of Dodge and spend a few months out of the dread of another cold, sunless, lonely winter, and get to Mexico.
Am I concerned about traveling in a pandemic? You bet your bottom dollar I am. This is particularly the time where I’m getting excited to go away, but I’m not. I’m feeling a surge of anxiety while constantly weighing the pros and cons of my traveling. I know I’m triple vaxxed and extremely cautious around people, but I know many on vacation sometimes forget they’re still living in a pandemic, often forgeting masks and social distancing. I have a girlfriend down there since November who I keep in touch with to get the scoop on what’s going on down there. Mexico was actually doing not too bad before the rash of carefree Christmas vacationers visiting there helping spread the germs. And as much as I feel armed with safety supplies and three jabs, I’m concerned about if things get even worse instead of calming down after the holiday rush.
Air Canada has already changed my flight three times before it flat out canceled my flight last week (thanks so much Mercury). They took off their daily direct flights into Puerto Vallarta and made them all into connecting flights to gather more passengers, leaving only two direct flights at this time, weekly. After making two phone calls – each with its own four hour wait until a human picked up, I managed to get on a direct flight again, leaving three days earlier than my original flight date. I was confirmed on the phone I’m booked, but it’s been a week now and I still haven’t received written confirmation.
Besides the airline kerfuffle, this event also entailed my trying to get hold of my agent in Mexico to first find out if the unit I’m renting was vacant for my early arrival. Thankfully it is, but I’m quite unsettled that more cancellations are coming, and the prospect of what if things get worse and I get stuck in Mexico when I’m supposed to return? These are a lot of heavy concerns floating in my uncertain mind in the already shady period of Mercury Retrograde, leaving me with uncertainty of things to come.
On the pro side, I’m not sure I can endure another long, lonely winter without sun again. I thrive in sunshine, and there are only so many times and methods in my toolbox I have to remove myself internally from the darkness around me. It’s getting real old and I need to get out of here!!! So, oh yes, Mercury Retrograde is already alive and well in my travel plans, and no doubt there will be more to come before this period gets roaring and then comes to an end. So I’m caught in this net of wondering if I’ll get to Mexico, if I can stay Covid-free, and if I’ll be able to get back home. I feel almost guilty about getting excited to go and apprehensive about preparing and packing for this trip. My long awaited vacation is living in a big question mark at the moment. I feel like I should be preparing to go, but also must be prepared not to. Nothing like trying to sit down on both sides of the fence. In my heart, I’m going, but in my head I am ever so vigilant on keeping an alert to whatever this retrograde has in store for me. It’s all quite unsettling to say the least, and that is proof that Mercury Retrograde is already warming up.
I will keep you all posted on the status of my trip. In the meantime, be forewarned and prepared for the first Mercury Retrograde 2022!