Love & Madness by Leah Parker| Book Review

Title: Love & Madness

Author: Leah Parker

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction

Synopsis:

After a one night stand with Ty, Luna finds herself pregnant. On the up side, Ty wants to raise this baby with Luna to make it work, but they’re both basically strangers. They both make an effort until their individual struggles get in the way.

My thoughts:

Let me begin by saying this is not a happily ever after read. And i’ll follow that and say I still recommend this book because the journey of it is worth reading. Luna and Ty’s story touch on a number of issues such as depression, substance abuse and toxic relationships. What I really liked is that the author didn’t tell her audience that Luna suffers from depression over and over. She showed that. It was realistically done and very relatable. Sadness is not depression. Depression hits even when everything seems okay and everyone around you loves you and supports you.

Ty has a past with alcoholism, and that too is a greyed area. It’s a misconception to think alcoholism is a choice. There are issues deeply rooted in Ty’s past that leads him to this.

Overall, I’d say this book touched on heavy subjects that’ll give the reader an intimate insight of mental health. Romance, love, family, humor are all part of the package if you decide to pick this up. Rated four stars!

Happy Reading

Xo Kat

Smugness won’t reach you very far|Writing Fiction

So, I thought long and hard if I should even address this but I think it’s important to express humbleness when you are a beginner writer. This morning I responded to a post in a writing group. The poster asked what should they do when they have lost all faith and motivation in writing? I commented by letting them know a thing or two how to combat creative blocks and I also reassured the poster that self-doubt lives in all of us. Well, I was strongly advised by another member of the group to refrain saying all of us struggle with self-doubt because they don’t doubt any of their stories.

Now I commented on that saying, “I apologize.” What I wanted to say is, “I apologize for my ignorance in this matter, Oh experienced one.” I didn’t want to get into a mindless social media war, so I just apologized and moved on. But it got me to thinking, and it isn’t the first time that I’ve wanted to touch on this subject.

I am in no way, shape or form bashing “my adviser” just to be clear. But I want to take you in-depth into the craft of writing and all that comes with it. Similarly to essay writing when your teacher marks your paper and they insert red ink corrections, so too does your manuscript need to be edited. And not just for grammatical errors. Many stories aren’t told very well and this is something people wanting to get into the writing field need to be mindful of. Your words need to have purpose to the story. It needs to be constructed well to paint a picture in the mind of your reader. It needs to read well on paper. I personally, have written like I’m writing a play in the past so it was challenging trying to get into novels.

There is no correct formula into writing your own story as well. Criticism and feedback are your friends, who help you improve on your craft. Self-doubt is your shadow. I get that we are all proud of our finished manuscript and hope that it will be received well, but the truth of the matter is, it won’t be by everyone. When best-selling authors have many negative reviews, and express their own self-doubt during their writing process, why would a newbie writer not learn from this? That the art of writing takes work, dedication and lots of thick skin. I was merely trying to express support for the original poster by saying we all go through a time when we doubt the story, or ourselves. Despite having finished a few books, I refuse to call myself an author. I call myself a writer because I don’t quite feel like I’ve written my best yet.

As readers, we’ve admired authors who made their marks on the world for many years, and we know of their struggles taking years to write a book, or writing stories that were controversial in their time. It doesn’t matter where you are in your craft, we do feel a little doubt. That self-doubt isn’t necessarily a lack of confidence, it stems from always wanting to best ourselves. Always wanting the next story to be better written.

Despite having written most of my life, I don’t always feel like I have a satisfying enough story to be published. At some level you have to question your own work and make sure that you’re telling your story in a way that you want, but in a way that’s also readable.

My point is, you can’t be smug in this business. Yes, be proud of yourself and your achievements. You’ve written an entire book. But don’t walk around with a swollen head thinking you already know everything you need to know. This is setting yourself up for failure. When you have nothing to show, you should take time to understand the business of writing. And yes, it is a business whether you self publish or traditionally publish. In today’s world, if you have a large following you are more likely to be successful than somebody in some corner of the world with a great book but no readers. So you should want to produce the best you can by taking constructive advice from READERS aka YOUR AUDIENCE.

Perception. Humility. Attention. Diligence. Knowledge.

To people who are entering this field, it is okay to be disorganized in your head. It’s okay to doubt yourself. It’s okay to take a long time. The key is finding techniques that work for you and your story.

I wish all of you aspiring writers the best in your endeavors. I hope we all do what we set out to do.

xo Kat

 

Captive Rebel by Erin McDermott|Book Review

Book title: Captive Rebel (The allegiance book 1)

Author: Erin McDermott

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis: Destined to be enemies, bound by fate…

Prince Ariston rules over the Allegiant – an elite faction favored by the Greek Gods. Separated from his family at a young age, he became a prisoner to the rebellion.

Marylyn O’Conner is a rebel, forced to do the rebellion’s bidding until an unforgiving family debt is paid. A pawn in the war for rebels to gain their freedom, she is obligated to become a spy, or her family will suffer.

Driven by revenge after returning from captivity, Prince Ariston makes it his mission to hunt down rebel spies, capturing Marylyn O’Conner in the process.

Desperate, Marylyn knows she needs to escape her alluring captor, or risk the safety of her family.

My Review: For some unknown reason this book reminded me of Cinder(the Lunar Chronicles). The story is by no chance similar but my feelings towards both books were. Why? Because the characters were likeable, straightforward. There was no clutter in this book which I appreciated as a reader, and writer. Everything flowed, no loop holes, no mindless yammering. A romance, but not only a romance. And it ended well yet left avenues open for the sequels. Overall, I would recommend if you like YA Dystopian or Fantasy, Action & Adventure.

Happy reading!

Xo Kat

The Obsession by Nora Roberts| Book Review

Book Title: The Obsession

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Romance/Thriller/Suspense

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis – At 12 yrs old, Naomi Bowes followed her father into the woods one night and stumbled upon a shocking & disturbing truth. From that moment, life would never be the same for Naomi, her mother, and her brother, Mason. Years later, Naomi’s past follows her wherever she goes, making her develop a nomad-like attitude for her job as a photographer, bumping around from place to place. In the present order of events, Naomi is in her late twenties and decides to root herself in a small town by purchasing a huge house in need of many repairs. She befriends the town folk and even finds love in Xander Keaton, the town mechanic. While Naomi busies herself with taking pictures and bartering them for odds and ends needed around her house, and sparks fly between her and Xander, her horrific past resurfaces and she can’t help but blame herself, and want to retreat into a space where she hasn’t opened her heart and life to others.

My Review – if you’re familiar with my blog, you’d know I love most of what Nora Roberts writes, how she writes, her manner of storytelling. It’s the way I love my own stories to be. A dash of romance tied in with mysteries, suspense and thriller.

I must admit I had an inkling of the climax in this book but not because of a weak plot. I’m just an alright detective(hehe). This book was very character driven. The characters were fully explored and examined, their growth and progress added to the story. Without all of this meaningful clutter, I don’t see how the main plot would work as a whole book. Overall, I would recommend it as it doesn’t narrow in on just a romantic story. That’s just a fraction of what this book is about. Without selling the story away, I’ll say it’s a tie in of murder, mayhem, healing, strength.

*Before heading into this book you should know that there are some dark moments, mentions of rape, torture and murder by a disturbed serial killer. *

Thanks for stopping by. Happy reading!

Xo Kat

Every Story Has A Reader| Writing Fiction

Last week, I worked diligently on my current “work in progress”. I was happy, I hit word counts and managed to clean up the messes on the way. Over the weekend something happened, that something that always happens. I feel hopeless, incompetent and I want to discard this entire story. Not even midway in each of my manuscripts I feel whatever I’m writing isn’t interesting. I get embarrassed by what I’ve written, and I feel relieved that I haven’t published such an atrocity for people to read.

But…the flame hasn’t completely gone out yet. I think about the books I’ve read that had no great writing or insane twist and you know what? I’ve enjoyed some of those. As a book reviewer and lover of storytelling, I hate to call someone’s work bad writing. For me, books comes in different flavors, some are great tasting and some are less tolerable. That being said, there are some works that I simply could not get through but that isn’t to say the writing or form of storytelling was horrible.

Every genre or story has a reader out there waiting for it and if that’s not inspiration to share your stories with the world, then I don’t know what is. Of course it’s another miserable thing all together promoting your book and finding your audience but I think we shouldn’t be insecure of our ideas. 

As a writer, what makes you feel insecure?

Xo Kat

Where do you get your blog content?

Where do I get my blog content?

I get my blog content the same way I get ideas for writing stories…through everyday life. Something or someone might spark a conversation in my head that I have with myself and voila! Things come to me while reading, cleaning, shopping etc. I’m pretty sure all of our minds work this way.

It’s how to stay inspired and passionate about what you write that’s tough. I’ve been hoarding blog ideas since 2014 when I first started blogging and although I have quite a few topics to explore, I often don’t feel inspired every time I sit in front of my computer.

Firstly, you need to know what you want to write about, what you want your blog to be about. You need to do some soul searching and find out what you’re passionate about. I’m a mom, and I love reading and writing. Slowly my blog is becoming a book blog, but it’s something I am passionate about and something I can talk about for days. So most of my content is based around parenting, lifestyle and books.

If you’re a personal blogger just writing about your journey, you can write like you’re writing in a journal, documenting your days and your experiences.

Once you’ve figured out your main idea for your blog, you want to brainstorm ideas and write them all down. I promise you that you won’t use all of it but you’re setting a foundation if you want to do this daily or weekly.

Plan out your topics, select a few you’d like to elaborate on and just write then publish! Voila!

Getting all of your ideas from your blog doesn’t always come off the top of your head. It depends on what you’re writing about, you may want to use images, and you may have to do some research. The best way to keep track of all your ideas is to write them all down. As for getting images, you don’t have to have the best camera. I myself use free images from pixabay.com and they work just fine.

Happy Blogging!

xo Coffee Doll

The Monday Syndrome

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Good Monday y’all! Let’s talk about The Monday Syndrome. I don’t know if that’s a real thing or not, pardon me if it is but it’s the only term that comes to my mind.

No, I’m not referring to our grogginess on Monday mornings when life resumes and we have to leave those few minutes of a weekend behind. I’m talking about the Monday “Go Getter” Attitude. Sometimes we leave things for next month, or next year but most likely everyone has a “leave it for the beginning of next week” attitude. I’ll start gym next week Monday because it’s already Wednesday and the week is practically over or I’ll start my diet next Monday or I’ll start to write at the beginning of next week(that’s me by the way). Our lives are consumed by a “let’s leave it for Monday” attitude. Right? I can’t be the only one.

There are procrastinators and then there are people who just can’t seem to get a handle on their lives. I’m both by the way. I know I procrastinate but I have a sound reason. My children just won’t zip it enough for me to hear my own thoughts and I’m always busy running behind them that the few moments of procrastination just to hear myself think are gold. But seriously though, it is hard to juggle everything already going on in your life so when a new task arises, we leave it for next Monday.

Whatever it is we leave for next Monday shouldn’t always be left for next Monday. I know, I know. It’s hard to find motivation to get yourself moving but it’s important to understand why our brains think we can’t start things right now, right this minute. I think my way of thinking is so uniformed that if I start something in the middle of the week, I feel all sorts of panic, like I’m running out of time, like life on Earth is coming to an end.

Wanting to be a perfectionist can hinder your progress believe me. Sometimes you won’t be starting next Monday, you’ll be starting five Mondays from that Monday. Not seeing the bigger picture and focusing on current struggles(which describes my case of The Monday Syndrome perfectly) makes you want to jump out of your skin and not start anything. Maybe it’s the fear of failing and not so much the fear of starting. Another thing I get hit with hard from time to time(more often that not) is bad estimation of time. My brain fails to process that things take time to reach a level of satisfaction, hence I’ll kinda put it off until next Monday, and then the next until I’m a hot panicking mess.

Do you suffer from The Monday Syndrome? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear!

See you next Monday!(jk jk)

xo Coffee Doll

Image: Pixabay.com

 

My Poetry Story & a Poem for my Preschooler

When I started writing, I began with poetry. I felt things so deeply as a child, teenager and the words would roll off my fingertips in the most expressive way ever. It remains one of the best ways that I could create something from within, although I haven’t been doing it for about a decade. Recently I’ve been focusing on stories and hopefully I can complete a book to my satisfaction in the near future. The other day, my preschooler had this project where the parents were asked to write how special their child is to them. I felt it robotic and generic to say things like…(insert name) is special because she is a good kid or I love the fun we have together. I felt it meaningless coming from my mouth so as I was about to write it, these words came to me and they sort of rhymed. Two lines of this poem was taken from an old birthday card my parents gave to me and it had remained with me since so I’m just putting it out there that it’s not my own. I will make those words bold. 

To begin the day with your smile,
Is a treasure from above,
You’re our pride and joy and laughter,
You fill our hearts with love.
We love you from the tip of your nose,
To the tip of your toes,
And with each passing moment,
It’s a blessing to see you grow.
You make our lives more special,
With all your laughter and hugs,
You’ll always be our baby girl,
Our little cuddly bugs.

xo Coffee Doll. All rights reserved.

 

Fifty Shades Darker Movie Review

It took me over a year to actually look at the first movie, that’s how not excited I was by this franchise. Jamie Dornan made a fine Christian Grey but I wasn’t too enthusiastic on the other casting. I read the book a long time ago so I’ve definitely forgotten all of the details. I drew the parallels to The Twilight Saga before I even realized this series was based on it and started out as fan-fiction. Fifty Shades is meant to be a romance told in its own way and I can respect that as an individual who appreciates writing as an intense art form. That being said, this was no literary piece of work.

I’m not going to focus on summarizing the movie or the books but I do have my own opinions on the trilogy that I haven’t shared anywhere before. Facebook is so controversial these days. Most people think it’s about abuse and rape. Now Christian’s and Ana’s relationship is no perfect example of how a relationship should be. I myself wouldn’t want to be in such a union, however, it’s a book. It is just a book…just a story. No need to get worked up when there’s worse things written and portrayed out there. I myself looked at the movies because of Jamie Dornan…I’ve liked the actor ever since I saw him as Sheriff Graham in Once Upon A Time TV Series.

My actual take on this second movie is that I don’t have one. Just putting it out there I looked at a censored version of it, so no I was not there for the steamy scenes. (LOL) The first movie, boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girls likes boy then we find out boy has a problem and girl can’t be in such a relationship then it ends because it’s a trilogy. All this time I thought, well maybe the series has something to carry it to the heights of which it went. Until I saw Fifty Shades Darker. I’m still at a lost as to what the plot was. It feels dragged out. Not a strong enough story that it needs to be split into three books. Ana is bland and boring. There really is nothing about her specifically that’s suppose to drive Christian Grey to change, other than the fact that he wanted to control her from day one. I felt like if the female lead was thought out differently, it could’ve be more convincing. The fact that he owns everything in the books turns me of to no end…when would someone write about a poor guy that a woman falls head over heels with?

As usual I have to remind my readers that this is just my opinion not a verdict on any author or director. It’s an entertaining series on days when you don’t feel like focusing on an intense piece of literary work but it’s not something that I would re-read either.

Thanks for reading! xo Coffee Doll

The Challenges of Writing Romance

I enjoy both reading, and writing in the romantic genre. I think my obsessions with a good romance started at an early age. The first trigger was Indian movies which I looked at quite a bit because of my mother and most of them were centered around romances. For some reason the library at my high school carried Mills and Boon novels and I fell into that very quickly. My fifteen year-old mind went places, if you know what I mean. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mills and Boons, they are a set of romantic books published by it’s parent company, Harlequin Enterprises. Most of what I read was set in a historical period and till date I enjoy reading romances set in the far past. Not everyone enjoys romances or its sub genres but I do. I love a happy ending, flawed characters that grow, the essence of drama and love. I love it all. One of my favorite authors as an adult is actually Nora Roberts. She’s my hero when it comes to reading romance. Her books usually have strong characters and suspense or a little mystery so it dramatizes very well.

And because I enjoy this genre so much, a lot of ideas or plots that take birth in my head end up materializing into a romantic story. I have plotted and outlined so many of these romantic story lines and even though I can almost always see the ending, it’s hard to complete. It may seem like an easier genre to write compared to sci-fi, fantasy or crime fiction but it comes with it’s own challenges. If you run into similar problems or have any input, please feel free to drop me a line in the comments.

  1. Creating subplots. The template for most romance stories are similar. Boy meets girl or girl meets boy and they instantly click or click over time. The thing that would separate your story from another writer’s story is your subplots. Both or one of the main characters will need an issue to resolve.
  2. Repetition. Romances are a difficult genre to write because much of what we fantasize or dream about has already been written. It’s unnerving when you question every dialogue, every scene.
  3. Creating Interesting Characters. The earlier romances that I read had weaker female characters who suddenly came into thier own after finding love. In more recent times we see stronger female characters. I often find I write bland characters and need to make them do something drastic or have an annoying quality to appear more engaging to a reader.
  4. The Problem & Climax. Every book, romance or not needs a problem in order to reach the climax. The problem needs to be engaging and convincing enough for readers to want to get to the climax. I’m left doubting my work more than I would like to. The climax also has to be a suiting one. For example, not all love stories have a happily ever after ending. It all comes down to the fear I have of disappointing readers. I’ll talk more about that in a separate post why that’s not a great idea.
  5. Simple love or sexy love. When it comes to writing erotica, I’m still having a hard time. I am uncomfortable with writing intimate details, for the fact that I won’t allow my parents to read something with adult content. I’m also a sucker for back in the day romances…you know the kind with love letters and chivalry. It’s difficult when I sit down to write and all that’s playing in my head is “Clean or dirty.” I wish so many stories didn’t call for it, unfortunately it does.

Thank you for reading! xo Coffee Doll