SRP Review: The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

the ship of bridesThe Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes showcased a group of war brides leaving Australia and journeying to England to meet up with their husbands. There were four brides who were featured in the book: Maggie, Avice, Frances and Jean. I was intrigued by each one of them.

At first, I found Maggie to be uncomplicated and the cheerleader of the group but as I grew to know her more, I realized there was a little more to Maggie than I originally thought. I found her character refreshing as she wasn’t the usual, cheerful mom-to-be but had insecurities and doubted her ability to mother. It made her come alive even more. I found her struggles real, and the fact she voiced them out loud rather than keep silent, made her a self-rescue princess to me. So many times, women keep their insecurities about motherhood quiet because they fear being judged and believe that to not love every moment of pregnancy or motherhood is saying you don’t  love your children.

Frances was more reserved than the other characters and even though I didn’t feel I knew her as well in the beginning of the book, something drew me to her. I think it was her quiet resolve and determination. Frances took everyone at face value even as she held them at arm’s length. She had a fierce spirit that came out at times and I was really rooting for everything to work out for her. I have to admit that she became my favorite character in the story. Frances was strong and forgiving without coming across as being a doormat. I think that’s a hard combination for a person to pull off, it’s easier to become bitter and close yourself off than giving others a chance. Even though Frances was reserved, she still allowed a tiny crack in the walls she built for others to come in.

One of the hardest things for a writer to do is write an unlikely character and yet make that character sympathetic. I found Avice at times snotty, off-putting, and hypocritical yet I found myself rooting for her because I was able to see the insecurity that drove her behavior. Even though she came from a financial stable family, it was clear that Avice felt lost and as if she had to prove her worth to her parents. While I still cringed at her behavior, it made me understand her more. I liked that Avice had a complex personality, not all light and yet not all dark, and struggled with she felt was expected of her.

What I loved most was how different each of the brides were yet in the end all had the same basic need to be loved for who they were. Each of the women went about achieving that goal in a different (and one I’m not sure did, but in my mind I have given her a much-needed and deserved happily ever after). I liked how The Ship of Brides portrayed accurately the complex friendships of women, and how loyalties can falter when one believes their character will be tied to a friend.

Stay in the Now

So far, 2015 has been a little overwhelming for me (in a good way). I decided at the end of last year to expand my horizons a little and silence the annoying voice in my head that liked to say I couldn’t do something. Or, it just wasn’t in me to figure out a new skill. I was really tired of it so started doing some new things and working on some skills I did have. And that voice had also made me second guess myself that resulted in me pulling out two threads from Embellished to Death. I loved them and believed added so much to the story but I worried about it…one changed a lot for my heroine and required a new mindset for her. Fortunately, my wonderful editor knew I was holding back something and encouraged me to go with my instinct and write it. I’m so glad I did. EMBELLISHED front under 2mbThose two elements…Bob (Ted’s brother) and Garrison’s (Bob’s life partner) appearance in the book added a richness to the book and I really enjoyed seeing them together on the page. I must admit they are my favorite couple in the Scrap This series. The other element in the book shook up my heroine’s world and while I was worried about it happening in Embellished, when I finished writing Framed to Death (#4) I was so happy I finally ignored the “you can’t” voice. I enjoyed seeing Faith grow on the page. It’s nice seeing her also silencing her own “I can’t’ voice.

To work on silencing mine, I took a sewing class at the end of last year and did pretty well I must say. I then decided to take an online course on taxes, did a good job, and then got a job preparing taxes. I know this might sound strange but I actually enjoy it.. What makes me the proudest was that I overcame the voice saying I wouldn’t be able to do it, and forged ahead even during the class segments when I started doubting myself. So twice last year I won against the “You can’t” voice that liked to derail my plans and vision.

contest 012While Framed to Death (the fourth in the Scrap This Series) is with beta readers, I’ve been working on a book that has been in my mind and heart for the last few years. I’ve been wanting to do it but the “You can’t” voice had overcome me and convinced me the book was a little more than I could write. There are elements of paranormal and mystery in the story, but the hardest one to get just right is the uniqueness of the spirit of not only the people in Appalachia but also Appalachia in and of itself.

This year I stopped listening to the voice saying I can’t and have dusted off the manuscript and began working on it again. I had completed half the book when I let the ‘I can’ts’ convince me I couldn’t adequately tell the story in my own head. If I can’t tell the story who can? And it’s a story I need to tell. It’s been with me for a few years and won’t leave. That tells me it wants out and into a book. The story has grown over the years and I’m confident I can do it. I’ve made some major changes to the original plot and I’m loving how the book is coming together. I don’t know what will happen when I complete this manuscript, but I’m proud that I’m writing ahead and not letting me stop myself from trying. I decide to live in the now writing moment and will consider the book’s future when I’m done. I realized that at times I’m so concerned at what will come next, what could happen, that I don’t enjoy where I’m at now so my motto for this year is “Stay in the now.”

SRP HOLIDAY REVIEW HOLIDAY EDITION (PART III): The Santa Shop, An Avalon Christmas, and A Victorian Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

This is my last Holiday Review Edition for 2014, I had wanted to post before 2015 but family activities took precedence. I was happy to get in a little more holiday reading this year than last, and hope that I’ll get even more holiday reading at the end of this year (though I really don’t want to ruminate long on this year ending as it has just begun).

the santa shopThe Santa Shop by Tim Greaton was a different type of Christmas/holiday read for me. I do my best to steer clear of darker stories around the holidays. I like the books I choose to be more light-hearted and have a humorous rather than serious tone. The Santa Shop, while not depressing or dark as in creepy way, it started off with a sad tone that grew more hopeful as the book went on. In a way, that is how the holiday season goes for some people, sad and stressful and growing into a more hopeful and restful time. I like how the book had a message without the reader receiving a lecture. Even when Skip was at the point of giving up total hope, he still clung to some and was able in his darkest hour to look past himself…and that to me is one of the true, loving spirits of the Christmas season.

After reading The Santa Shop, and I decided to go for something that had a little more of a happy tone and that built on the feeling of community that was in the end of the Santa Shop. I wanted to keep that feeling going. I read An Avalon Christmas by Darien Gee which is a collection of short stories that connect with each other through the town of Avalon.an avalon christmas The stories are a mix of longing, people searching for a connection, and of reaching out. The stories have a sweet spirit and all the point-of-view characters come away with a better understanding of themselves and their role in the world. All of the stories are set around Christmas time and show some of the holiday spirit that blossoms at that time of year.

 

 

a victorian christmasMy last holiday read of the year was A Victorian Christmas by Catherine Palmer. This book, like An Avalon Christmas, is a collection of short stories but in this book they aren’t connected. The stories are set in the Victorian times and are set at Christmas time. There is a strong Christian message in each story so for those readers who prefer non-religious holiday stories, this book might not be to your liking. For those readers who enjoy Christmas stories that reflect strongly the religious meaning of Christmas, this is a wonderful book and will be inspiring and uplifting.

 

 

SRP Holiday Review Holiday Edition (Part II): Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

I hope the holiday season so far has been one of joy, wonder, and happy times for everyone and continues to be so. I also expect it has been a little busy. I don’t know why, but this year it seemed to have snuck up on me. I had thought I had a good plan to get all my holiday preparations done and have plenty of time to read but time escaped from me. It probably didn’t help that I had the flu for about a week which stole away some of my energy, not to mention an online course I was taking. But, I have been able to read two books (and hope to be done with a third tonight).

The first book I read was Mrs. Miracle. mrs. miracleI first heard about this book when I watched the movie on the Hallmark channel a few years ago. It was one of the movies I was on the lookout for every year (along with its sequel). This year, we switched from DirectTV to cable and our area doesn’t get the Hallmark channel. I was so disappointed. Since I couldn’t watch the movie, I decided to read the book. I tried really hard not to compare the book to the television movie but in the end it kept coming to mind.

There were elements of the book that weren’t in the movie which made the book richer and gave the characters more depths, and there was a scene or two (definitely one) that I was glad wasn’t in the movie. The main part of the story stays pretty much the same in the book and the movie and I think if you enjoyed the movie, you’d the book. And, if you didn’t enjoy the movie because you found it a little sappy (which some people find most of the Hallmark, Lifetime, UP, etc holiday movies) then you might enjoy the book instead as it’s richer and delves into the heavier aspects of the situation. This story has a Christmas time setting also a Christmas time message of hope, love and forgiveness. Even though it’s a little heavy (deals with a widower with small children), I still found it to be a ‘feel good’ story.

call me mrs. miracleThe next book I read was Call Me Mrs. Miracle. I enjoyed both of the books with Mrs. Miracle, but will admit that my favorite of the two was Call Me Mrs. Miracle. For me, the second Mrs. Miracle had more of a Christmas story line as part of the plot centers around a toy store at Christmas time and a little boy’s Christmas wish. Like with Mrs. Miracle, there is also a Hallmark movie based on this book. I will also admit there is one element of the book that I like a lot better in the movie than I do in the book and wish it was the same. I don’t want to give it away so won’t say anymore. It didn’t change the story much, but to me it made the Christmas spirit come through more in the movie than in the book. This book left me a little teary-eyed (which is hard to do) and has moved up the list as one of my favorite holiday reads. It had the right amount of emotion, plot, holiday setting and Christmas magic feeling to make it a perfect holiday read for me.

SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part I): A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas, How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas, and The Christmas Bake Off

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

a nutty nutcracker christmasFirst, I’m going to start with a children’s book that I read this holiday season: A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas. I’m going to add one new to me children’s book to my reviewing schedule every holiday season. I really liked the take on the Nutcracker story which incorporates video games. I read the book on my Kindle and would love to see the print version of the book. I loved the pictures on the Kindle Fire and know they have to look so much better on the printed page. (I was sick at the start of this holiday season so I checked out books through Overdrive.) It was an engaging story that can be completely read at one bedtime. It wasn’t scary and had the perfect mix of humor and message.

The next book is How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas by Fiona Gibson. I’d classify this story as having taken place during Christmas Eve/Christmas rather than one which showcases the holiday spirit. The story is about Anna meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time. how the inlaws wrecked christmasWhile the events happen on Christmas Eve, the focus of the story is on Anna and Ben’s relationship and realizations that are made during the time rather than on the holiday. It’s a quick read and I think it does portray though how sometimes it’s during the holidays when we truly come to know and understand a person and our role in their life.

the christmas bake offThe last book for this post about my holiday reads is The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements. The story is set in Skipley village during the annual Christmas Bake Off. The reader gets to meet a few of the residents and might, like me, come to root for all of them to win the bake-off. There was a reason that I wanted each of the contestants I met to walk away with the win. Unfortunately, there is some ‘grinchy’ competitive spirit and some sabotage occurs. The truth is found out and not all is what it seems. This was a cute story filled with holiday shenanigans along with holiday spirit and some romance. I enjoyed this short story and it was what I needed (great mix of humor, town coming together, and romance) when I was feeling under the weather. Helped put some holiday spirit into me. Also, this story does include some recipes at the end.

Stay tuned to the Self-Rescue Princess for more holiday book reviews. One of the books to be featured next week is Mrs. Miracle. And, if you have any suggestions for holiday books please feel free to list them in the comments. I’m always on the look out for the perfect holiday/Christmas story.

SRP Heroine Interview: Lady Elizabet Armstrong from An Oath Taken

An Oath Taken Cover (1)1.Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

I tend to be strong-willed, and I live in Wolfhaven Castle on the Scottish border.  Months ago, King Edward seized Falconshire Castle, a Scottish castle, as his own.  Then he installed the vile Sir Renaud as its castellan. The man is ruthless, but at least he’s dead.  Except, Sir Nicholas Beringar, the new English castellan has arrived, and sadly, my father, brother and many of my people captured during a previous attack are held within Falconshire’s dungeon.  Though my father has always doubted my abilities throughout life, and my steward forbids me to go near Falconshire Castle, I will do what needs to be done to free my family and people.

2. What lead you to make the changes you did in your life?

I was attempting to raise coin to bribe the castle guards of Falconshire Castle, which was failing miserably, when I mistakenly held up Sir Nicholas Beringar, the new castellan of Falconshire Castle.  Believing me a boy, he offered me the job as his squire.  Though the man is as handsome as formidable, I agreed as I believe once inside, I can figure out a way to free my family and people.  Once they’re safe, I will slip away and Sir Nicholas Beringar will be none the wiser.

3. In your life, what has empowered you?

What has empowered me in life is my close relation with my brother, Giric.  His love and belief in me when my father couldn’t spare me a kind word growing up has been my lifeline.  I would do anything to save to Giric.

4. What are strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are my quick and creative decisions, that I’m fearless, and that I love deeply.  I’m not fond of admitting my weaknesses, but I tend to be stubborn, I don’t follow advice to well, and I allow my emotions to guide me vs. thinking things over.

5. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

The years of striving and never gaining my father’s approval hurt almost as much as those without his love.  This is my chance to prove myself worthy of his love, and to save my people.

6. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

I would tell women to believe in themselves nd go after your dreams.

7. Favorite quote.

I love quotes!  I’ll share my favorite three!

“If you did not care at all what anyone else thought about you, what would you do differently or change in your life?” — Brian Tracy

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” — Bruce Lee

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

8. If your story had a theme song, what would it be?

~The soundtrack for King Arthur – Hans Zimmer.

9. Will you be continuing your journey in written form?

Sadly, I won’t appear in any of the other books in The Oath Trilogy, but I will be thought and mentioned in my brother’s book – #2 An Oath Broken, and my close friend’s book – #3 An Oath Sworn.

10. Is there anyone in your life (a friend or family member) who will be sharing their life?

I’m thrilled that my brother, Giric Armstrong, Earl of Terrick, will have the next story in The Oath Trilogy, “An Oath Broken,” and a very close friend, Colyne MacKerran, Earl of Strathcliff, will have the final book, “An Oath Sworn.”

About the author Diana Cosby:

A retired Navy Chief, AGC(AW), Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Her award-winning MacGruder Brother books are available in five languages.  Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Stars & Stripes, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.   With the release of her 6th book in the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, she’s now working on the 1st book in her new Scottish medieval The Oath trilogy, “An Oath Taken,” which will be released December 8th, 2014.  In addition, she’s excited about the upcoming release of the MacGruder Brother series box set early in 2015.

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

www.dianacosby.com

Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Diana-Cosby-Romance-Author/150109024636?ref=ts

Places where you can purchase An Oath Taken:

-Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-oath-taken-diana-cosby/1119908499?ean=9781601833075
-Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Oath-Taken-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00LGZ9JMS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406395705&sr=1-1&keywords=An+Oath+Taken
-iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/an-oath-taken/id895504779?mt=11
-KOBO:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/an-oath-taken

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like

homicidal holidays cover…holiday reading time. I love reading all year-long, but have to admit my favorite type of books are holiday themed books in any genre. From Thanksgiving until January 1, the only types of books I read are those with either a holiday theme or holiday setting (preferably winter holidays). It’s something I start anticipating in the beginning of October.

Considering my love of holiday books, it was a thrill for me to help choose the stories for the Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays Anthology. I loved reading stories set during many different holidays, especially ones not usually featured in books like Groundhog Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. I must say all of the stories are wonderful and range from cute to a little on the dark side but no matter the mood of the story, they are all well-written and cleverly crafted.

Right now, I have a few books on my TBR pile and I’m already trying to figure out which one I will read first. I’ll probably go with the one that has the closest due date (some are print library books, others ebooks from the library, and other ones are ones that I have bought). But as any avid reader knows, one is always on the lookout for a perfect read. The perfect, and what could be my favorite read of the year, is out there but I might not have heard about it yet so please feel free to add in the comments any suggestions. And there might be others readers also who are on the lookout for some wonderful holiday reading.

Here are some links of holiday books that I have read in the past years. Maybe one of them will become a favorite holiday read for you.

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/srp-review-holiday-edition-i-the-killer-wore-cranberry-the-perfect-christmas-and-christmas-in-bayeux/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/srp-review-holiday-edition-ii-blue-christmas-bah-humbug-and-the-christmas-singing/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/srp-reviews-holiday-edition-iii-lakeshore-christmas-decorating-for-christmas-and-christmas-with-hope/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/srp-review-holiday-edition-iv-harlequin-holiday-collection-the-dos-and-dont-of-holiday-parties-and-hurry-less-worry-less-at-christmas/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/srp-review-holiday-edition-part-1-a-christmas-story-let-it-sew-and-never-noelle/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/srp-review-holiday-edition-part-ii-mistletoe-magic-where-angels-go-heartache-motel/