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Review: Cloud Whispers

I read speculative fiction of all sorts, have a fondness for metaphysical tales and particularly like stories with a strong female protagonist. How could I pass on reviewing this novel?

Review summary: Sedona Hutton has written a well-constructed contemporary romance novel with interesting characters, complex subplots and a splash of metaphysical theory. This is a book that many will enjoy. Details are below.

About this book: Katie Callahan longs to start a family of her own. Infertile and unable to convince her relatives to accept the man she married, she regrets giving away the daughter from her secret teenage pregnancy. When a twist of fate brings a second chance at motherhood, she’s caught between joy and the fear of her husband’s rejection of another man’s child… until a devastating motorcycle accident rips the decision out of her hands.

 

With her body trapped in a coma, Katie finds herself in the dreamlike space between Earth and the afterlife. Guided by spiritual forces and the soul of her beloved dog, she learns the life-changing power of intention and self-transformation. From her ethereal vantage-point, she watches as her loved ones work together to connect the pieces of their broken hearts. As she finally realizes her true destiny, Katie’s only chance to fulfill her purpose means completing an impossible journey back to life…

 

Cloud Whispers is a mind-expanding women’s fiction novel with a strong spiritual message. If you like headstrong heroines, heartwarming stories of family and forgiveness, and new age concepts, then you’ll love Sedona Hutton’s empowering tale.

 

About the author: Author Sedona Hutton finds inspiration in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and curly-coated retriever. In addition to writing, she’s a Reiki Master and a certified Chopra Center Meditation instructor. She enjoys reading, yoga, gardening, playing with her dog, and riding motorcycles. Her “Peace, Love, & Joy” blog can be found on her website. Visit her website, find her on Facebook at SedonaHuttonAuthor, and on Twitter @SedonaHutton.

Buy the book at Amazon

Giveaway: Sedona Hutton will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes & Nobel gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Learn more, and register to win.

Review summary: Sedona Hutton has written a well-constructed contemporary romance novel with interesting characters, complex subplots and a splash of metaphysical theory. This is a book that many will enjoy. Details are below.

My full review: If you don’t like coffee, and I prepare you a well-made cup and then flavor it with French vanilla (which you love) you probably won’t like the beverage, no matter how well made it is or how much French vanilla I add. Right?

That’s the problem I have with this book. I happen to not enjoy romance novels, with all due respect to those who do. There’s nothing inherently better about the science fiction and crime novels I relish; it’s just personal taste. I try to avoid reviewing genres I don’t appreciate, but it happens.

And, at its heart, this book is written in the romance genre. From the large amount of time characters spend lusting to the focus on appearance and clothes (always beautiful, always hot) the book speaks the language expected by romance readers. I can’t fault the author for doing that, and doing it well, but it’s not what the blurb led me to expect.

What I liked best:

  1. The book is well crafted. The pacing is nice, the changing points of view are well-handled, the mix of dialog, action and description is effective.
  2. The characters are the best part. They have quirks and interesting back stories and occasionally behave in unpredictable ways. I also liked her multi-generational approach. Teens act and talk like teens, older adults are believable and not relegated to bit parts. The emphasis on families is warming.
  3. I genuinely enjoyed the story line about the daughter given up for adoption and her reuniting with her birth mother.
  4. There is this one scene where Katie-in-a-coma gets to see the energy that connects all of humanity. I loved it.

What I liked least:

  1. The book is chiefly driven by a smoldering love affair between the protagonist’s sister and her husband’s brother. I know it’s hard to write a blurb, and I can understand why the author wanted to focus hers on what was unique about this book, but it is misleading. As much as anything, this is the story of how Liz and Shane finally have sex.
  2. I was disappointed in the metaphysical aspect, and it is the main reason I chose to read and review this novel. Maybe a third of the word count during the first half of the book (so like 15% of the story) is about Katie’s time in the clouds where she is being told about the Law of Attraction. Katie is supposed to be an intelligent woman, but her reaction to this philosophical education is in the vein of “I can have anything I want if I believe hard enough? Cool. Good to know.” I am certain that if I found myself on a cloud with two “beautiful” spirit guides and my dead dog and they assured me I could fix everything in my life, I would have a lot more to discuss with them.

While I don’t recommend this book to a nerd like me, who loves sinking my teeth into a hearty analysis of metaphysical theory, I do recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary romance and wouldn’t mind a dab of basic new age philosophy with it.

This review is part of a book review tour sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions. Visit Goddess Fish on Facebook  and on Twitter.

 

Read more reviews of Cloud Whispers at:
Long and Short Reviews
Uplifting Reads
Locks, Hooks and Books
Fabulous and Brunette

My favorite excerpt: Absently, Katie rubbed her wedding band. Now that she knew Savannah was her daughter she had to tell Liam the truth.

She’d wanted to tell him before, and she had almost told him many times. But family was of the utmost importance to Liam, and more than once he had made comments like, “How can a father not want to see his daughter?” and “How could any parent give up their own child?” What would he think of her once she told him she’d given up her baby girl at birth without ever holding her, hugging her, nursing her?

A personal note: I am a writer myself and therefore come to all reviews with biases born not only of my personal preferences but also of my own writing style. In this case, the author of Cloud Whispers and I just didn’t mesh in our interests and our approach in the way I had hoped. I can’t keep that from coloring my review, but I acknowledge my part in that chemistry, and wish her and her writing great success.

I also received a free pdf copy of this book from Goddess Fish, the value of which would never be enough to entice me to write a better review for anyone.

If you are interested in a review from me: I read speculative fiction of all sorts and I will consider novels of almost all types that relate to the general theme of world peace. I am not interested in reviewing non-fiction, romance novels, stories which promote any particular religion, children’s books, or horror of any type. Please do not ask me to review books about vampires or zombies. If you would like to be considered for a review please send all the usual information to Lola (dot) Zeitman (at) gmail (dot) com.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2018 in other authors

 

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High Hopes

I like this joke: The optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist sees the glass as half empty and the engineer sees the glass as twice as big as it needs to be. Maybe it is because despite an engineering degree, and a fascination for the darker sides of story telling, I remain in my heart an optimist even while understanding the arguments of the other two camps. It’s all going to be okay, somehow. I really think that.

Some schmaltzy things turn me off, particularly if I feel like my emotions are being manipulated. Others, ones that sort of just are what they are, can put a huge grin on my face. When I was writing x0, a novel with plenty of dark scenes, I wanted a ridiculously hopeful song for Lola to suggest using in order to provide Nwanyi with encouragement. I found the late 50’s classic “High Hopes” and it was perfect. This song, which most people associate with an ant moving a rubber tree plant, was first popularized by Frank Sinatra, with music written by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn. It was introduced in the 1959 film “A Hole in the Head”.

If you want to take a break from all that Christmas music you’ve been hearing, enjoy this video of Frank Sinatra singing High Hopes with what must have been a group of school children from the late 50’s or early 60’s. It is guaranteed to put a giant grin on your face and might even add to your holiday good cheer.

You can also buy this song at Amazon.com. The following is the excerpt from x0 that mentions “High Hopes”.

Lola savored the feeling of Somadina’s friendship. She’d had so few women friends over her adult life. She’d been too busy with work, with Alex, with the kids. Too often there had been so little in common. And here was a woman, for heavens sake barely older than Lola’s own daughter and a world away in every sense of the word. Yet in her hearty self-sufficiency, in her attachment to her child, her loyalty to her sister, and in her good fortune in attracting the affection of a genuinely good man, they had more in common than Lola had with most women she knew.

Lola reached back with a mental equivalent of a hug.

We are both strong telepaths, she thought, knowing that Somadina would pick up the feeling and fill in words which were close enough to the meaning to get the point. We know that Nwanyi is at least a weak receiver herself after all of her association with you. At least Olumiji thinks so. Let’s try to send her a message together. Sort of doubling the transmitting power, if you will. Lola felt Somadina’s confusion over the last phrase. She tried again. Let’s push together. An image of two women pushing a large rock. Somadina got it.

Music, Somadina suggested. Nwanyi and I both like music. American music.

Okay. Let’s pick a song to encourage her. Lola thought for minute, and tried singing something in her head. Out came a song from her childhood, Frank Sinatra’s hit High Hopes about an over-achieving ant trying to move a houseplant.

What is that? Somadina asked. Don’t you know any rock and roll?

Yikes. She didn’t think there was a rock song that was particularly encouraging about someone surviving.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2015 in music for peace

 

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x0: synopsis and my 3 favorite excerpts

I’m talking a close look at my older blogs, making sure that they are up to date and that they represent my earlier novels well. I’ve added my latest book synopsis and placed a few of my favorite excerpts on a page for permanent reference, and thought I would post these improvements as a blog post as well. Enjoy!

x0 is the first novel in the loosely interrelated collection known as 46. Ascending. Each novel tells the tale of an otherwise normal person coming to terms with having unusual abilities. This page contains a short description of the book x0 followed by three of my favorite excerpts from the first part of the novel. To read more, please purchase x0 at smashwords.com, at amazon.com, or at Barnes and Noble.

Book Description:
The ancient group x0 hides in the shadows until a young
Nigerian beauty forces them to emerge. Thinking that her telepathic abilities
are perfectly normal, this Igbo woman draws upon her powers to seek an ally to
rescue her captive sister. Unfortunately, the telepath she finds is cranky
Texan lady who doesn’t believe in nonsense and who insists that the disturbing
phenomenon in her own mind isn’t there.

Realizing that her sister has become a strategic pawn in a
dangerous game of international politics, she vows to do anything to get the
attention of this uncooperative fellow psychic. As the women struggle with each
other, common links begin to forge these two radically different women together
in ways that even x0 does not understand. They could intervene, but should
they?

Excerpt 1:
Somadina awoke with the wonderful feeling that the lady was coming physically closer. At first Somadina was confused. Then she realized. Of course. The lady was not Nigerian. That possibility had not occurred to her. But it made sense. And for some reason the lady was actually coming to Nigeria. At least to West Africa. Somadina was sure of it and so she sent thoughts over and over to tell the woman that she was now exactly where she needed to be. Somadina then spent two happy days feeling even closer to the woman, working to make her feel happy to be in Nigeria, and trying to find a way to better connect.

Then, two mornings later, she awoke just as sure that the woman was already leaving. What? Yes, she was heading to an airport. But she had just arrived! Who spends only two days in a country?

You’re leaving? You just got here. You can’t go! Somadina knew that she was being immature, but she could not help feeling anger, and disappointment. In the strength of her own emotional outburst, she received the worst kind of confirmation that the mysterious woman had been hearing her all along.

******
With an evening flight home on Wednesday that required a late afternoon departure from the hotel, Lola had decided to sleep in as late as she liked, to spend a few hours by the pool relaxing (no solo adventures into town, she had promised) and to just have an easy day before the nineteen-hour sojourn home. Sleep came and went that night, with an odd blurry feeling of nervousness but nothing upsetting. It wasn’t until morning, when she woke up naturally with no alarm clock, that she felt the sense of turmoil.

You’re leaving? You just got here. You can’t go! It was an unmistakable thought, as clear as if it had come from a distraught lover, needy parent, clingy friend. Anger and disappointment. Even a bit of panic. Who the hell cared if she stayed in Nigeria?

Impatiently, she got out of bed, began to gather together her toiletries. Leave me alone, she thought with vehemence. I do not want to hear from you. Whoever you are. Get out of my head. And then to herself. Stop thinking this is real. It is not. You have a thirteen-year-old daughter and two other kids counting heavily on you and this is absolutely no time in your life to have mental issues. You are fine. Get a grip. Act like a normal person.

She took a moment and sat in the uncomfortable easy chair and forced herself to use the simple mental imagery she had learned in Lamaze classes so very long ago. But instead of picturing a beautiful lake at sunset like they had taught her to do in order to relax, this time she pictured the giant steel doors to a vault, glimmering in a cold artificial light, clanking closed in her head. The doors seemed to work. She got out of the chair feeling better. As she finished packing and headed poolside for lunch with her email and her internet, she felt fine, although strangely alone.

Excerpt 2:
In the days that followed, Djimon discovered how extraordinarily fortunate his choice in a second wife had been. Throughout the drive southwest toward Lagos, sometimes over major highways and twice over bad roads as he detoured for “business meetings,” Nwanyi was not only timid, she asked for almost nothing and did not even seem to expect kindness from him. She stopped her attempts at conversation early on when they were met with stony silence, only asking twice to use his cell phone to call her sister. He informed her curtly that his charger worked poorly and he was saving the battery for important calls. After the second time she did not ask again.

She appeared to be fearful about sex, or at least shy enough about it that although they slept in the same bed at night, she never brought up his lack of interest. As they traveled he saw to it that she stayed covered and had whatever meager food and water she required, and in return she did not complain to him. He figured with satisfaction that she was scared of him and vowed to see that useful condition continue throughout what he had come to think of as “phase two.” Phase one, of course, had been finding and procuring her.

Four days later they arrived at his home, where Mairo, his true and beloved wife with her beautiful Fulani features, dutifully got Nwanyi settled into a particularly cramped and poorly ventilated room in the rear of the house, and promptly assigned her a sizable share of the less desirable household chores that would normally have fallen to the servants. Djimon had to smile. Even though Mairo understood all too well how important Nwanyi was to their plans, and what little husbandly interest Djimon actually had in the woman, Mairo was apparently not inspired to exhibit the least bit of kindness to the Igbo. Now that Djimon thought about it, that was just as well. He would let Mairo inflict all the petty insults that she wanted.

Excerpt 3:
For part of each evening, Lola allowed herself to just sit on the porch and imagine the sound of rushing water and to think about how she now had trouble washing her hair without cringing. This puzzled and even intrigued her a little. She would never have guessed a brief experience like the one she had, which ended perfectly well with no harm done, at least once all the minor cuts and bruises had healed, could linger on in her mind with such intensity.

The sense of panic could be set off by sunlight glistening on a liquid the way it had glistened through the water on the unreachable other side of the canoe, or even by just feeling trapped by riding in the back seat of a two-door car. To a woman who, for most of her forty-nine years had reacted to the idea of mild mental problems and syndromes of all types with “why don’t you just get over it?” it was, well, informative to discover that some things were surprisingly difficult to get over.

When all those doubts and fears would no longer keep her mind busy, Lola’s thoughts would invariably wander off to the strange woman with whom Lola had agreed, bizarre as it seemed, to listen. In spite of that, she had not acquired much more useful information. The woman seemed to be younger, less educated, and probably more superstitious. She also seemed foreign and based on her not wanting Lola to leave Lagos, Lola was assuming she was Nigerian.

She had a younger sister, of that Lola was certain. She was very worried for the sister and lacked the means to help her. Lola supposed that meant resources, maybe money, but also the woman seemed to lack the knowledge to help as well. Was the sister lost? Kidnapped? Had she run-away from home? Certainly she was gone and could not be found.

Sometimes Lola tried to sort of mutter comforting things back to the woman in her head, but that never seemed to help. Lola had not a clue what else she could do.

Other times she just sat and thought about nothing at all. It was one of those times, when her mind was sort of on water and sort of on nothing, when she heard an elderly gentleman’s voice clearly in her head.

Lola? Little Lola Conroy? Good heavens dear, is that you?

Lola searched her mind for knowledge of any older man who might have known her by her maiden name.

It’s okay honey. You’re fine. I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s okay. She could almost see an elderly man backing out of her mind with great care.

Good grief, she thought. Now what?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 27, 2015 in x0

 

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