Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Review- A Hearts in Autumn Romance "Courting Cassandry" by Joyce DiPastena

Cassandry is a widow and Gerolt, her guardian growing up, comes to visit her and suggests for her to marry again. She turns down the idea instantly claiming she's to old. He suggests an arranged marriage between his son Rauffe and her 15 year old daughter Egelina (Gelli). Cassandry couldn't have trusted anybody better than Gerolt with the safekeeping of her daughter.
She brings Gelli to the engagement ceremony and plans to only stay long enough to make sure her daughter is settled in. Gelli is at a difficult age and refuses to marry Rauffe because she wants to join the nunnery. She only wants to be a nun to learn to read and write and Cassandry refuses to let her learn because it only causes problems.
Someone is sending gifts to Gelli. Cassandry thinks one of Gerolt's knights might be courting her since Rauffe is very sickly and may not even make it to their wedding day. Gerolt needs an heir to take over his lands and if Rauffe doesn't marry soon and produce an heir he'll need to marry himself. Gerolt knows Cassandry doesn't want to marry, plus, if their children marry it's forbidden but Gerolt can't lose Cassandry again. After she married one of his knights, he missed her friendship. But she's keeping something from him and he can't understand why.

Joyce weaves a beautiful story set in 13 century England with knights and ladies. The characters are wonderful and flawed, making them all the more real. It's a beautiful romance with a little mystery

Buy Courting Cassandry now for ONLY $3.99:

Amazon Kindle edition
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iTunes iBook

This is me after I finished reading Courting Cassandry.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Monday, July 21, 2014

What is your favorite kissing scene in a book or movie? Here's my favorites.

I was on a month long vacation last month and I got a lot of reading done. It was wonderful. More later on all my reviews. One book I was extremely excited to read while on vacation was an ARC of

Zenobia- Challenging a Legend 

(For more information about the Zenobia book series visit

There's a much anticipated kissing scene in the Zenobia book series. And being an avid reader of romance novels and a huge fan of romance movies, I was able to provide my expertise in the field of Love. I wish I could share the kissing scene from book two, Zenobia - Challenging a Legend  but it would give to much away. So to hold you over until the release, here's some of my favorite kisses in books or films:


Gone with the Wind

"He bent back her head across his arm and kissed her, softly at first, and then with a swift gradation of intensity that made her cling to him as the only solid thing in a dizzy swaying world. His insistent mouth was parting her shaking lips, sending wild tremors along her nerves, evoking from her sensations she had never known she was capable of feeling. And before a swimming giddiness spun her round and round, she knew that she was kissing him back."


The Princess Bride

"There have been five great kisses ...everyone agrees deserve full marks. Well, this one left them all behind.”

shakespeare in love

Shakespeare in Love



Jace and Clary kissing

City of Bones


Romeo and Juliet


Sixteen Candles


The Hunger Games




The Notebook



Wraithsong, Book I in the Desirable Creatures Series (I stole this picture from Carrie Dairies.)


One of my all time favorites:


and this one too:



I know I missed some epic ones. What's your

favorite kissing scene in a book or film?


Check back for my summer book reviews. Coming soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


At some stage in the writing process, most writers want feedback on their work. Here are some tips on how to organize and receive helpful critiques.

The Critiquer:

As a critiquer, your job is to understand the writer's goals and help the writer achieve them.Every writer has a different voice and approach. It is sometimes tempting to change someone else's piece to make it more like something you would write. Instead, help the writer produce the best possible version of what that writer is trying to write. Consider the piece on its own terms and help it fulfill its potential.

It’s suggested to read the piece through from beginning to end to get the experience as a reader. Don’t get right into the critiquing part until your 2nd time reading. Take notes of your first impressions.

Suggested Critique Format: 

      1.      First, summarize and interpret. At this first stage, you are not judging the piece or offering suggestions. You are just telling the author what you think it is about, and what you think it is trying to do. This is important because it tells the author how well he or she has succeeded in communicating.

2.      Second, say what you think is working well. Positive feedback can be as useful as criticism. Point out the best parts of the piece and the strengths of the author's writing. This can help the author write more "best parts" in the future and develop his or her individual talent. Starting with positive feedback also makes it easier for the author to listen to criticism later without becoming defensive or discouraged.

3.      Third, give constructive criticism. Make sure that criticism is respectful and delivered in a form that allows the author to make specific improvements. Authors tend to have high emotional stakes in their work, and may at some level confuse criticism of a story or a poem for criticism of their talent or vision. It is therefore especially important to make your comments as specific as possible and keep them clearly focused on the piece, rather than the author. Give examples from the piece whenever possible to show your points.

Do's and Don'ts:


·         Read the piece several times
·         Try to experience the piece as an "ordinary reader" before you consider it as an author or editor
·         Try to understand the author's goals
·         Be specific in your feedback and provide relevant examples


·         Impose your own tastes or world view
·         Rewrite the story the way YOU would have written it
·         Discourage the author
·         Offer criticisms that are too general to help the author make specific improvements

(critiques aka "bleeding all over" the manuscript.)

The Author's Role: 

We suggest that the author try not to talk at all during an oral critique except to ask clarifying questions at the end. There is a natural tendency for authors to try to explain their work, particularly if they see that the critiquer has not understood it the way they intended. 

Advice on Receiving a Critique:

If you're on the receiving end of a critique, focus on listening and understanding the feedback you receive. You don't have to agree with it. You won't have to follow any of the suggestions you're given.

In fact, some of the suggestions you get are likely to be not-so-useful. You will have to sort them out from the useful ones and make your own decisions. But save this sorting-out for later. Otherwise, the sorting-out process will interfere with your ability to listen. And you'll probably do a better job of sorting out the good advice from the bad if you take some time first to digest everything.

Take careful notes on all the feedback and ask questions if there's something you don't understand. Don't argue with the critiquer or defend your piece. Don't even try to explain it.

After the critique, we suggest taking a break before you try to sort the feedback out. Getting a critique can be hard. Relax a little afterwards. This break might last twenty-four hours or a couple of weeks -- however long you need to get some emotional distance on the process. Then take a fresh look at what you've written. Reread your notes on the critique.

Which suggestions do you agree with? Which ones do you want to ignore? If you're not sure about a suggestion, do some experimental rewriting. Try it out. There's no risk. If you don't like the result of the revision, you can always trash it and go back to the original version.

Remember: you're the author. You're the one in charge here.

Traditional critique groups -  Pro's and Con's:


First and foremost, traditional critique groups can help clean up a new writer’s technique.

In a good traditional critique groups you will learn that POV does not mean “Prisoners of Vietnam.” You will learn to spot passive voice and will even learn why adverbs aren't always extra-nifty. You will hopefully learn self-discipline in that you need to attend regularly and contribute. You will forge friendships and a support network.


Traditional critique groups can lack perspective:

Reading ten pages every month may clean up sloppy writing but traditional critique groups are looking at a work the size of a skyscraper with a magnifying glass. They lack the distance to see flaws. A novel can have perfect writing style page to page and yet have faults. Traditional critique groups can tell you nothing about turning points or whether a scene fits properly. They lack the background to be able to discern if our hero has progressed sufficiently along his character arc by the mid-point of Act 2. They have zero ability to properly critique pacing, since pacing can only be judged in larger context. In traditional critique groups, sitting around the table reading a few pages can’t give you the big picture. It's hard to pick up a story on page 86 and understand what's going on.

Traditional critique groups can offer a false sense of security:

You must always be looking for ways to have our work critiqued by professionals who are willing to be blunt and who possess the skill-set to see our errors. Gathering together because we love writing is always a great idea but make sure to reach beyond our group for additional critique. Make sure your work is being reviewed by people who will be honest about any problems.

Critique groups are WONDERFUL. Every writer should be a part of a critique group. You just need to be aware of the trouble spots so that you can get the most out of this fantastic resource. 

Here’s a brilliant idea to get the most out of a critique group:

Introducing Concept Critique by Kristen Lamb - author of the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. 

Instead of bringing the first ten pages of your novel, write a 10 page synopsis based off what you did when you were plotting. Or, for those pantsers, go back and show the scenes of the WIP you've written. Every scene should have a one-sentence summary, so writing a synopsis now should be a piece of cake. A scene-by-scene critique is a far better use of time than taking a year to get line-edit on a potentially flawed WIP.

Let your brilliant writer friends chime in on what they think of your story as a whole. Does this synopsis sound like a book they are dying to read? Can they tell who the antagonist is? Is your antagonist a mustache-twirler or the stuff of greatness?

Once you have your novel as a whole critiqued, take it to the next step. The next time you meet take Act One and write a ten page synopsis of what happens in Act One. Get critiqued. Clean it up. Then, take Act Two and Act Three and do the same. Write ten page synopses about what happens in each act. Then take it to the next step. Break your act into scenes and write a summary of what happens in each scene.

This way you are cleaning up your concept. Your fellow writers now can help you by brainstorming better ways to build your mousetrap. And, since they have an idea of the BIG picture, their advice will be a lot better. They might even be able to offer insight into how to fix the idea before you invest the next year writing a book that is doomed from day one because the original idea needed to be fortified before it could support 60-100,000 words. Or, if you have already written the novel, you will have a better idea how to tackle revisions.

Once you have solid critique on all these summaries, take off and write/revise that novel. Now it will be way easier because you know where you are going. Also, because your writer friends helped in the planning phase, they will be better trained to see flaws once they critique your final product.

My personal suggestions on critiques: 

·         Critiques are better if you find someone who reads in your genre. 
·         Critique partners and/or beta readers are a must. has a spot for finding critique partners/beta readers. Personally I loved this experience. I found an author who wrote in the same genre and we exchanged stories. It was someone I didn't know so they could be honest and blunt and not hurt our friendship. 
·         Small critique groups with 3 - 4 people have been a wonderful experience for me - we meet together once a week. Send pages ahead so we can read it over. We give an oral critique and a written or e-critique to view later. 

     Critiques may be a necessary evil in the writing world but it doesn't have to be a bad experience. It's a tool to help get our very best work published. Find what works for you. 

Happy Writing! Happy Critiquing

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book review of Slayers Friends and Traitors book #2 in the series

slayers 2
After the dragon summer camp is over, everyone has to return to their normal lives. Tori wants Jesse to break the rules and see her over the school year. As captain, he won’t do it and tells Tori to see other people. She’s crushed and cries on Dirk’s shoulder.
As a spy, Dirk doesn't mind breaking the rules and sends Tori letters. Her dad’s a senator so it’s easy to track her down. They secretly start corresponding.
Tori fears the eggs have hatched— her special skill is hearing what the dragons do. Dirk’s special power is dragon-sight and he claims to see nothing. Dr. B believes Dirk. Tori makes a surprise visit to Dirk’s football game to confirm that he hasn’t seen anything.  Dirk’s a major player and Tori knows it, but he seems to really like her. Unlike Jesse, Dirk wants to be with her.
When Jesse gets attacked, all the Slayers meet up to figure out how the Dragon Lord knows where they live. Everyone together is just what the Dragon Lord wants.
This is a great sequel. I’m so Team Jesse, but I’m a little Team Dirk too. He’s a bad boy you can’t help feel sorry for. I’m a believer now in dragons and love the way the story makes mystical creatures come to life. I can’t wait until book 3. C.J. Hill writes thrilling action scenes and romance that will steal your heart.
Book one is a must read too.
Slayers cvr
Buy the book at :
C.J. Hill AKA JanetteRallison  stay in contact with C.J. Hill aka Janette Rallison at:
fairy tales and dragons

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book review of Allegiant by Veronica Roth

It took me forever to read the last book in the series. And not because it isn't an excellent story, but I knew I wasn't going to like the ending based off the major outrage by fans. I took my time reading because I wanted to savory Tris and Four’s relationship. They were finally, what I hoped, out of danger and could really enjoy each other. The truth, in their world they are never out of danger, and Tris and Four find themselves on different sides. Did I get a little tired of them bickering and almost breaking up? Sure. But reality is they were experiencing very stressful events. Life and death experiences can make anyone high strung.
There were so many quotes and thoughts that I absolutely loved from this story. For instances; when Christina says, “Being honest doesn’t mean you say whatever you want, whenever you want. It means what you choose to say is true.”
When Tris says, “… I think that no matter how smart, people usually see what they’re already looking for...”
And in the end I’m happy that Tris discovers, “And I know, without being told, that’s what love does, when it’s right— it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be.”
Did I like the ending? No, but I'm a happily-ever-after kind of reader. I live in reality, a world full of sorrow and death, so when I read I want to escape that reality. I understand there are plenty of people out there who love the tear-jerking sad stories. I don't mind reading them once in a while but I truly can't give them a 4 or 5 star rating because they aren't stories that I'm going to read over and over again.
"Allegiant” is a well written book. This is a great Dystopia series. And I became fully involved in Four and Tris's life.
It's interesting to read Veronica’s reasoning for her ending. You can find that on her blog and keep up to date with the movie releases.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review of Echo in Time by C.J. Hill

What a great sequel to Erasing Time! There are some very sad moments and plenty of funny moments too. C.J. Hill is a clever writer. It’s Dystopia, Time Traveling, and Romance all wrapped up in an Action Adventure Story. The book continues with the funny slang words we use that make no sense in the future. For instance this scene between Echo and Taylor:

Really?” Taylor asked him. “You would try to pick me up?”

Echo tightened his grip on her waist. “Do you need me to carry you again? Are you having trouble walking?”

"No,” she said. “Picking someone up is a twenty-first-century way of saying that, you know, you’re hitting on someone.”

Hitting on someone? Before he could ask that, she said, “I mean, you want to hook up with them, hang out…” She must have seen the blank look on his face. “It means you’re interested and you want to date them.”

He lifted his eyebrows. “That all sounds so violent. What exactly did you do on dates in the twenty-first century?”

 So funny! And there is plenty more where that came from.

 If you haven't read book one Erasing Time you need to.

  Spoiler alert if you haven’t read book one: The story continues with Taylor and Sheridan who got sucked up in a time machine to the 25th century. It’s only been a couple months since they escaped Traventon. They are living in Santa Fe. Sheridan and Joseph (In book one, Erasing Time he pretends to be Echo, his dead twin brother.) are in the beginnings of a developing relationship. The government in Santa Fe believes the time strainer is dangerous. Taylor and Joseph and some of Santa Fe’s finest military men are picked to go back and destroy the machine. The assignment is dangerous but all is going as planned until they learn everyone has their own secret mission. When Joseph uses the time machine to save his twin brother Echo it messes with time and now Sheridan never escaped from Traventon. Joseph has to save her before her mind is wiped clean. Echo is trying to help Taylor destroy the time strainer but he has his own agenda too and nothing is going smoothly. Will they be able to escape Traventon, again?

Stay in contact with C.J. Hill
C.J. Hill AKA JanetteRallison

If you live in Arizona you'll want to attend the book signing event with C.J. Hill on Jan 7th at 7pm. At Changing Hands Bookstore 6428 S McClintock Dr Tempe, AZ 85283 See you there!

 If you can't make the book event you can purchase your book at: