Review and Giveaway: Frowns and Gowns by Amanda M. Thrasher

BNR Frowns & Gowns


About the Book, Frowns and Gowns Frowns and Gowns

  • Series:  The Mischief Series, Book 5
  • Genre: Children’s Chapter Book / Fantasy / Fairies
  • Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
  • Page Count: 236
  • Publication Date: September 12, 2023
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Embark on a Magical Adventure with Lilly, Boris, and Jack!

Get ready to join Lilly, Boris, and Jack on an unforgettable journey filled with excitement, laughter, and a touch of mayhem. Brace yourself for a whirlwind of mishaps as these three fairies plan a magnificent magical ball, only to encounter an unforeseen disaster! Experience the magic of friendship with Lilly, the quick-witted and resourceful fairy, Boris, the mischievous fairy with a heart of gold, and Jack, the troublemaker with a curious, adventurous spirit on their latest adventure.

Throughout, Lilly, Boris, and Jack teach the true meaning of friendship and teamwork. Together with their friends, they’ll overcome challenges, learn valuable lessons, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t miss out on this enchanting tale!

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press | AmazonApple iBooksB&N | GoodReads

Watch the Trailer for This Book

About the author, Amanda M. Thrasher Author Photo Thrasher

Award-winning author Amanda M. Thrasher was born in England and moved to Texas, where she lives with her family. She writes YA, general fiction, middle grade, early reader chapter, and picture books. She is the founder and CEO of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.

Connect with Amanda:

Website | GoodReads | Instagram | FacebookAmazon | X (Twitter)

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My Thoughts MelissaBartell - photo

I don’t read a lot of children’s literature anymore, but as my role as Book Aunt (every family has one) has evolved into Book Great-Aunt, there’s a whole new generation of kids for me to gift with books.


Frowns and Gowns by Amanda Thrasher will definitely be one of those books.


It’s a whimsical tale of young fairies (fairlings) who are tasked with putting on their prom. Lilly, Boris, and Jack are the principal players, but their circle is rounded out by Rosie, Ivy, and Pearle, the latter of whom uses a wheelchair – er – chariot when she must move around on the ground.


While the preparations depicted in the book move between silliness – stinky moss bomb fights included – the whimsical happenings also include choosing the right gowns and picking the perfect foods.


What I loved about this story was that it was all about inclusion, but organically so, woven through the entire book as a core tenet, never an afterthought. I also appreciated the mischief made by the girl and boy fairlings alike, and I laughed out loud several times. (I aww-ed out loud at least twice, though.)


Overall, this was a madcap romp through the lives of young fairies, with great characters, lovely explorations into friendship,  and fantastic worldbuilding.


Goes well with popcorn and cotton candy… obviously.




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The Druid Knight Tales, by Ruth A. Casie (@RuthACasie) – #Cover #Reveal #giveaway #bibliotica @hfvbt

Join author Ruth A. Casie on her Cover Reveal for The Druid Knight Tales: A Short Story, from February 23-March 13, and enter to win an eBook of the first book in the Druid Knight Series, Knight of Runes. The Druid Knight Tales

Publication Date: February 23, 2015
Publisher: Timeless Scribes Publishing, LLC
eBook: 57 pages
ISBN: 0986246425

Series: The Druid Knight Series
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Romance

She would give her last breath for him. He would give up everything to guard her well and love her more.

Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, was given a year to find his soul mate. On the final day, the sacred mistletoe has shriveled and died—proclaiming his failure. He must do what no other Grand Master has done before and journey to meet with the Ancestors formally relinquish his title.

Ellyn of Brodgar has the gift of healing. But each use of her magick, through a kiss, depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Time is running out as she searches for a way to continue saving lives—especially her own.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld together—a place filled with magick and wonder, it’s also fraught with danger, traps, and death. They have only until the third sunset to find the Ancestors, or be lost to the world forever. The domineering druid must work with the stubborn healer, not only for survival, but for the promise of the future—a future together.

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Penetrating blue-gray eyes stared out from the cocoon of dark wool that enrobed the woman. The cheeks on her porcelain-white face appeared tinged with a splash of pink. Her natural berry-red lips were turned up in a welcoming smile. “Grand Master.” She dipped a well-executed curtsy.

Fendrel’s healer was much different than the old crone he had anticipated. This woman was regal and beautiful. The gleam in her eyes was calm and comforting. He had a strange sensation, which made no sense at all, that he had known her for a long time. At ease with her, he allowed himself to relax and returned her open smile with one of his own.

“This is Ellyn of Brodgar,” said Fendrel. “She has been our healer for the last year. Our situation was grave. It was her healing skills that kept us alive. I would like you to accept her into our clan.”

The knuckles on Ellyn’s hand turned white from grasping her staff firmly. Her head whipped around at Fendrel.

Max observed, fascinated the elder was oblivious to the daggers the woman’s eyes flung at him. So, Fendrel hadn’t told her of his plan and if Max wasn’t mistaken, she wasn’t pleased.

“Thank you, Fendrel,” said Ellyn. “Your request is a great honor. I will be your healer for as long as I am with you.” She turned to Max, her face serene. Her iron grip on the staff relaxed.

Fendrel sputtered.

“You are welcome into Fendrel’s clan for as long as you see fit to stay with us,” said Max. He was certain he saved Fendrel from getting his head bashed with the staff the woman carried. “Brodgar is in the Orkneys. You are far from home.”

“I go where I am needed.” Her voice was soft—her tone evasive.

Max gave her a benign smile. She was tall and graceful. Loose tendrils of curls softened her face. Dark lashes swept down against her cheekbone. She gazed at him with bright, intelligent eyes. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He sensed her trying to press in on his mind and blocked her attempt so fast she winced in pain. He’d made his point. She would not try that again.

“If you will excuse me.” She turned to leave. “I would like to look in on Dimia and the baby to make certain they’re settled in for the night,” she said to the new father.

“Of course, Ellyn. I will see you back to camp.” Fendrel approached the two men. “Thank you, Grand Master. Doward. We will see you tomorrow.” He and Ellyn went back down the small rise.

“Interesting girl,” remarked Doward after they were gone. “You didn’t have to be rough on her. She was only curious.” Doward chuckled.
Max stared after her.

She wasn’t at all what she seemed.

Titles in The Druid Knight Series

Knight of Runes – Available Now!
Knight of Rapture – Coming March 30, 2015
Knight of Redemption – Coming Fall, 2015


About the Author Ruth A. Casie

Ruth A Casie is a seasoned professional with over twenty-five years of writing experience but not necessarily writing romances. No, she’s been writing communication and marketing documents for a large corporation. Over the past years, encouraged by her friends and family, she gave way to her inner muse, let her creative juices flow, and began writing a series of historical time travel romance novels.

When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, New Jersey, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch. Together with her husband Paul, they enjoy ballroom dancing and, with New York City close by, going to the theater. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world.

Ruth is a Trustee and on the Executive Board of Shelter Our Sister (SOS) in New Jersey. SOS is Bergen County’s only shelter for victims of domestic violence. She frequently speaks at various functions around Bergen County on behalf of the Shelter.

For more information visit Ruth A. Casie’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign up for Ruth A. Casie’s newsletter.


To enter to win an eBook of Knight of Runes please complete the giveaway form below.

– Giveaway starts on February 23rd at 12:01am and ends on March 13th at 11:59pm EST.
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner will be notified via email.

Knight of Runes

The Druid Knight Tales at HFVBT

Olde School by Selah Janel – Review

About the book Olde School Olde School

• Paperback: 428 pages
• Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC (March 18, 2014)

Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.

Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.

Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians.

Buy, read, and discuss Olde School

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

About the author, Selah Janel Selah Janel

Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffinThe Realm BeyondStories for Children MagazineThe Big Bad: an Anthology of EvilThe Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the BattlefieldOlde School is the first book in her new series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, and is published through Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

Connect with Selah

Blog | Facebook

My Thoughts

I don’t read a lot of true fantasy anymore, but there was a time when I was reading it voraciously. Still, it’s a genre I go back to when something interesting or original crosses my path, and in this case, the result – reading Selah Janel’s Olde School – was a sheer delight.

From the first scene in Trip Trap’s diner (frequented mainly by trolls and shepherds) I was hooked on Janel’s writing style, and on the world she created. Paddlelump, her main character, is fantastically different from any character I’ve ever read, and Kingdom City is a place I’d love to visit for a couple of days.

Janel spins a fun-filled yarn that gives a nod to pop culture and the current love of modernizing classic tales, but it’s just a nod. There’s nothing in Olde School that doesn’t feel fresh, interesting, and completely awesome.

So many times we forget that reading is entertaining as well as educational. Olde School is a reminder that it’s okay for something to be funny, smart, and completely engaging without necessarily requiring us to be made aware of the popular cause of the moment or disease du jour. Moreover, it reminds us that the best thing any of us can be is ourselves.

Read this book. Seriously, you won’t stop smiling for like a week, after.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. To see the complete list of tour stops, scroll down. For more information, click HERE.

Monday, October 13th: Must Read Faster

Tuesday, October 14th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, October 15th: Priscilla and Her Books

Thursday, October 16th: Sidewalk Shoes

Friday, October 17th: Reading Reality

Thursday, October 23rd: Bibliotica

Monday, October 27th: Dab of Darkness

Tuesday, October 28th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, October 29th: Fuelled by Fiction

Thursday, October 30th: Book Marks the Spot

Monday, November 3rd: Bookie Wookie

Review: The Curse Giver by Dora Machado

The Curse Giver banner

Join Dora Machado, author of the fantasy novel, The Curse Giver, as she tours the blogosphere August 5 through October 25, 2013 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!


CurseGiver_Front Cover Final 1ABOUT THE CURSE GIVER

Lusielle’s bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when her husband betrays her and she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn’t commit. She’s on the pyre, about to be burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the flames.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark.

Stalked by intrigue and confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.


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My Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I’ve read any real fantasy. I mean, yes, I’m slowly working my way through George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but that world is reasonably similar to our own medieval history, with only a few ‘fantastic’ elements. I was in the mood for escapist reading this summer, however, so when the nice folks and Pump Up Your Book offered me the chance to read an epic fantasy novel, I jumped at the chance.

The problem with epic fantasy is that very often the fictional world feels as flat as a movie set, with no real depth or history. Dora Machado’s The Curse Giver, on the other hand, plunges us into a world so rich, and so well constructed, it feels almost as if we could step sideways into it. One of the early sections, particularly, when Lousielle and Bren are crossing the bog, had me squirming as much as if I was actually there with them avoiding creepy crawlies.

Her main characters are three dimensional, and Lousielle especially, was so smart and spunky that I wanted to be her best friend. Herb lore is something I’ve always been quietly interested in (witness the collection of herbals in my Word Lounge), so her affinity for plants and potions really drew me in.

Likewise, while Bren could have been Generic Quasi-medieval Noble #17, Machado made him complex and interesting (and gave him a great body, which we appreciate vicariously through Lousielle).

The other characters, good and evil alike, were, similarly, sketched with fine lines, not the broad strokes of generic fantasy.

I’ve read that Ms. Machado is bilingual, having grown up in the Dominican Republic, and I think some of the charm of The Curse Giver comes from her – probably unconscious – Spanish-influenced rhythms. It’s nothing you could point your finger to and say, “Look, that’s not typical English phrasing,” but a quiet undercurrent that makes the writing really SING.

(I am not bilingual, but I grew up in a New Jersey Neapolitan family where an Italian-English hybrid was the norm. As well, I’m a natural mimic, and my parents retired to Baja Sur, Mexico, about a decade ago, so those Latin-tinged rhythms are familiar to me.)

Overall, I thought The Curse Giver was a delicious read, and it’s compelled me to seek out more of Machado’s work. I think it’s an especially good choice for women who like epic fantasy, but have gotten out of the habit of reading it.

Goes well with… a mug of steaming chai and sharp cheddar melted on toasted rustic wheat bread.


The Curse Giver Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule


Monday, August 5 – Book featured at Margay Leah Justice

Wednesday, August 7 – Interviewed at Review From Here

Friday, August 9 – Interviewed at Examiner

Monday, August 12 – Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking

Tuesday, August 13 – Interviewed at Straight from the Authors Mouth

Thursday, August 15 – Guest blogging at She Writes

Friday, August 16 – Interviewed at Beyond the Book

Monday, August 19 – Book reviewed and Trailer reveal at Miki’s Hope

Wednesday, August 21 – Guest blogging at Literal Exposure

Thursday, August 22 – Book featured at As the Pages Turn

Friday, August 23 – Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

Tuesday, August 27 – 1st chapter reveal at Examiner

Wednesday, August 28 – Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book

Thursday, August 29 – Book reviewed at moonlightreader

Friday, August 30 – Guest blogging at The Writer’s Life

Wednesday, September 4 – Guest blogging at Allvoices

Thursday, September 5 – Interviewed at Book Marketing Buzz

Friday, September 6 – Book spotlight at Bibliotica

Monday, September 9 – Book reviewed at Bibliotica

Wednesday, September 11 – Book featured at Between the Covers

Friday, September 13 – Book reviewed at Must Read Faster

Monday, September 16 – Guest blogging at Review From Here

Tuesday, September 17 – Interviewed at Broowaha

Wednesday, September 18 – Guest blogging at Newsvine

Friday, September 20 – Book reviewed at Mom in Love with Fiction

Monday, September 23 – Guest bloggging at The Dark Phantom

Wednesday, September 25 – Book trailer reveal at Pump Up Your Book

Thursday, September 26 – Interviewed at As the Pages Turn


Pump Up Your Book

Review: Flight of the Stone

Flight of the Stone
by Chris Thompson

Product Description (from
Flight of the Stone is a fantasy tale full of drama, humour and action along with a little romance.

A desperate Elliot throws a stone to frighten off his pursuers. His actions ignite an alarming chain of events. Witnessing far more than they bargained for, Elliot’s teenage friends Miles and Abbi become drawn into a parallel world laden with excitement, adventure and horror.

As they gradually unlock the hidden secrets of leylines, the three youngsters learn how to travel vast distances in seconds, are terrorised by Fuddles, held captive by the menacing Larc while guided by their virtual mentor, Dylan.

In this other world they discover fascinating things about themselves, the people they live with as well as the world around them. So intense is their journey together they become far more emotionally attached than they ever thought likely.

Much of the story is set in and around the historic town of Christchurch, Dorset, UK and the reader can discover more about the actual places described in the book at Facebook, Flight of the Stone.

My Thoughts:
The WLC provided me with a free pdf review-copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review. It’s worth noting that “Brandon” in the PDF has become “Elliot” in the Kindle edition, which I bought because the Kindle format is prettier. There are a few other differences between the pdf (which is essentially a proof) and the finished book, but they don’t detract from reading either.

I have to confess that I had a difficult time getting into this book, even though I generally like YA fantasy, because we’re introduced to SO many characters (Elliot, Abbi, the Johnson Brothers, Sam, etc.) in just the first few pages. At first it was difficult for me to differentiate them, but within a few pages I was more comfortable with the cast of kids and young adults, and really enjoying the story.

And it’s an epic story. Invisible fields that transport you from place to place (and time), horrible monsters, swords and sorcery, technology, and human guile and wit all combine in various forms to take you into this mad alternate version of the area around Christchurch. At times, I was reminded of the fantasy land in Bridge to Terabithia, and, in truth, there are some similar themes explored in Flight of the Stone, although it’s only in tone and theme that I found them similar.

Overall? An entertaining read, perfect for an imaginative reader of any age.

Goes well with a strawberry cornet (ice cream cone), obviously..

Review: Wyndano’s Cloak

Wyndano’s Cloak
by A.R. Silverberry

Product Description (from
Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever. She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen’s family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning? Wyndano’s Cloak may be Jen’s only hope. If she can only trust that she has what it takes to use it…

My Thoughts:

While I haven’t been part of the target demographic for YA for decades, I still read a lot of it, because it tends to have such wonderfully written female characters – strong, smart young women that are not found as frequently in contemporary adult fiction. When I find such a story that is also set in a rich fantasy world, I’m usually completely happy. That was the case with A.R. Silverberry’s Wyndano’s Cloak, which I not only read in a single night, but stayed up reading (by Kindle-light) in the dark into the wee hours – something I rarely get to do anymore.

What I liked about Silverberry’s world is that while it’s a fantasy setting, he didn’t make it too farfetched. Like some of my other favorite fantasy works, the people speak in contemporary (though not slangy) English, they drink coffee (actually he had me at coffee), etc. Yes, it’s clear the world in question is based on a Renaissance setting, and that the darker Plain World is a much gritter version of a similar period, but it was completely its own place as well, and in fantasy, that’s important because the world is a character in its own right.

Protagonist Jen, and the other young women in the story – Bit and Pet – were all great girls with unique personalities, and their own journeys. I liked that they could be strong, and bright in individual ways, and yet still retain girlhood. Not all active girls are true tomboys, after all, and not all fashionistas are insipid fools.

The male characters were also well-drawn. Jen’s father, Jen’s brother – both privileged men with distinct personalities – and Blue, the trickster, who reminded me a bit of Gavroche from Les Miserables was a winsome rogue.

Jen’s mother was more a presence than a real character in some respects, but her presence was felt, and Naryfel – what a great name! – was a perfect witch/hag character, but with complexity that made her more than a storybook villain.

While the plot of Wyndano’s Cloak was a combination of a Hero’s Quest and “How do we get back home,” Silverberry’s treatment of two standard fantasy themes was unique and compelling. I’d happily read more of his work, in this world, or in any others.

Goes well with: a latte and a chocolate croissant.

A Matter of Perception, by Tahlia Newland

A Matter of Perception

When Tahlia Newland, an on-and-off blog-buddy of mine, asked me to read and review her collection of magical realism/urban fantasy short stories, there was no way I could refuse, but the truth is I’d have read this collection of six tales no matter who the author was.

Taken together, these stories are a collection of different ways to perceive fantasy, and to use fantasy to perceive reality. The collection feels like a complete suite – all moods and tastes are well represented. Taken separately, well, let’s do that, shall we?

The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice
An unnamed photographer’s assistant sees an interdimensional monster, and is rescued by a god, though she does some rescuing of her own. It’s a great blend of action, romance, and philosophy. This was my favorite of the collection, and not just because it’s the longest or most developed. I really wanted to know what happens next

The Bone Yard
This one is the darkest in the series, in terms of mood. It involves a woman in a desperate situation being helped by supernatural beings, though the twist at the end is rather grisly. A balance of classic horror and modern terror.

Mistril’s Mistake
With great power comes great responsibility, even when you’re a wizard. The colored light battle had me imagining light sabers (but only a little), but the story about taking ownership of your actions is actually very good. More, please?

A Hole in the Pavement
What if our emotional troughs became literal holes that we fell into? That’s the premise of this story, and Newland envisions it beautifully. It was delicate and delicious.

Not me, it can’t be
Mind blowing: alternate points of view between a modern woman undergoing chemo and an ancient (fantasy?) world woman about to become a ritual sacrifice – and each are apparently dreaming of the other in a fabulous riff on the old “Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man” conundrum. I was teary at the end.

Rose Coloured Glasses
Easily the lightest tale in the sextet, this story is about an office worker named Sally who discovers a new perspective on her colleagues (and a possible new romance) thanks to a very special pair of glasses. Haven’t we all wished for these at some point?

I believe that any fan of fantasy, magical realism, or just a really gripping tale, will find this collection of stories compelling and entertaining, but what really puts the cherry on top is Newland’s explanation of the themes, included at the back of the book. Excellent book group fodder, but perfect for a plane trip, as well.

Goes well with hot chocolate and a brownie.

This book is available for Amazon Kindle. Buy this book from >>

RIP Anne McCaffrey

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I read one of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels, but I was definitely no older than fourteen. I do remember that I’d confused DragonSong, which I loved, with Lizard Music, which I hated, for the longest time, and that probably kept me from reading them at first.

I have fond memories of a chilly night in a rented vacation home in Inverness, California, sleeping on a bunk overlooking the forest and the ocean beyond, reading long past the time I should have been asleep, because the house was strange, and too quiet, and the bookshelves held first editions of ALL of the Pern books.

Later, of course, much later, I stumbled into the world of MUSHes and MOOs and found myself playing a dragonrider on a Pern-themed role-playing game. I met Fuzzy that way, and many of my other friends.

Even later than that, I learned about McCaffrey’s incredibly odd views on homosexuality (which I will not go into here), and finally, I realized I’d grown out of Pern, though never out of science fiction.

When I heard, a few hours ago, that she’d passed away yesterday at her adopted home in Ireland (a self-designed house named Dragonhold – Underhill), it affected me enough that I had to pause a moment, and take a breath, and send her love and light as her spirit is consigned to whatever eternity may be.

Dragonriders of Pern

I never knew the woman.

But I knew her stories, and I knew her books, and they gave me hours of pleasure and led me to the man I love, and some amazing friends who are among the most talented people I know.

And I know that she was the first woman to win a HUGO award, that she was one of the few women who was active and successful in Science Fiction/Fantasy when it was still very much a male-dominated genre, and that she served as a writing mentor to a collection of authors who went on to write amazing stories of their own.

So, rest in peace, Anne McCaffrey. Maybe this weekend I’ll read one of your books as a form of remembrance.

Ms. McCaffrey’s publisher has posted a statement about her death. You can see it here.

Carolina Dreams: It’s All Anne Rivers Siddons’ Fault

Anne Rivers Siddons is responsible for one of my ultimate fantasies: a Carolina beach vacation.

I’ve been a fan of the author Anne Rivers Siddons ever since my mother and I started scouring the new fiction shelf at the San Jose Public Library for her work. Sure, she writes male characters that are only slightly more real than the men in Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket novels, but her women are strong, and three-dimensional. More importantly, the HOUSES they live in are amazing. When I think of Anne Rivers Siddons, I think first of the beach, then of women characters, and then of architecture.

Outer Banks

One of the first Siddon’s novels I remember reading was Outer Banks. It was about true love and lost love, coming of age, finding one’s path, and of the changing relationships between friends, lovers, and families, and of course it had a wonderful house where much of the drama took place.

Granted, Siddon’s houses are nothing like the Carolina Designs homes that people can rent for their very own Carolina vacations. Hers tend to be draughty old summer cottages with sand stuck between the floor boards, and weathered paint. Charming to read about, but not where I’d want to stay.

So, where do I see myself on my fantasy visit to Carolina? Well this house is my ideal. It sleeps ten, so Fuzzy and I could invite the entire family, but everyone would still have their own space. It has cable, wifi and a wet bar (because we all know vacations are all about booze and the internet), and xbox, so my vampire-skin husband would have something to do while I’m basking on the sand or splashing in the surf. It has a lot of bathrooms – really important – and it also has a full kitchen. And did I mention the pool and tennis courts.

I have an aunt whose husband’s family owns a “cottage” in the Hamptons. Like the old homes in Siddon’s novels it’s huge and cold, with beds that include one referred to as the double taco, because it folds you into itself so completely – and not in a good way.

My vacation fantasy does not involve being suffocated by an ancient bed.

My vacation fantasy draws elements from another of Siddons’ novels, Low Country, which was all about the relationship between Anglo and Gullah communities in South Carolina. As much as I’d love an ‘in’ into the Gullah world, what really drew me about that novel was the food. The characters in that story were tied to their food, to their Sunday dinners, to sharing meals together, and as someone who grew up in a family of amateur and professional chefs, food is a language I speak well.

I long to have my family assembled for a barbecue within sight – or at least scent – of the ocean, with those coastal breezes making everything taste better. I want to sit on a deck at dusk nursing a beer and nibbling on the perfect burger, and not caring that there’s sand in my hair and that my nose is a little sunburnt.

I want to have wonderful days by the sea with people I love, and then, like Ms. Siddons, I want to curl up and write about it, turning it into a novel, a series of short stories, a memoir.

I want to be in Carolina..and it’s all Anne Rivers Siddons’ fault!

Low Country

Teaser Tuesdays: Belladonna, by Anne Bishop

On Teaser Tuesdays readers are asked to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given.

My teasers are:

As she turned away from the mirror, she was drawn to the watercolor that hung on the wall next to her bed. Titled Moonlight Lover, the view was of the break in the trees near Sebastian’s cottage, where a person could stand and see the moon shining over the lake. The dark-haired woman in the painting wore a gown that was as romantic as it was impractical, and looked as substantial as moonbeams. Standing behind her, with his arms wrapped protectively around her, was the lover. His face was shadowed, teasing the imagination to find the details, but the body suggested a virile man in his prime.
~Belladonna, by Anne Bishop. Page 61.