Category Archives: Book Review

Mermaids & Friends: Sonya Cooke + Book Giveaway!

“Avoid boxing yourself into choices without allowing yourself a period for discovery.” ~ Sonya Cooke

Carlene and Sonya celebrating the release of Seven Pillars Acting.

Sonya and I haven’t known each other for very long, which says a lot for the amount I’ve already learned from her. We connected this past September when she was in need of a last minute proof read of her book which she was very close to having published. My friend Kathleen, who I had edited for in the past, was a student at Sonya’s Acting Studio of Orange County and when she heard of Sonya’s need, she graciously thought of me. I happened to be free and it was within a few days’ span of working with Sonya that I realized, someone very special had crossed my path.

Author, actor, founder, & teacher Sonya Cooke.

I will do my best to list the plethora of hats Sonya regularly dons. She is the Founder/CEO/Owner and Head Teacher of Seven Pillars Acting: LA Studio and the Actor’s Studio of Orange County. She is also a Film/TV, Commercial and Voice-Over Actor, a producer, and the creator and author of Seven Pillars Acting. What a busy lady! Pursuing, creating and involving herself in so many wonderful endeavors. When the opportunity arrived to get to meet Sonya in person this January, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Not to belittle myself, but sometimes it can be intimidating to be in the presence of someone who is so accomplished with so much charisma and ambition and drive. Well, it turns out I had nothing to be nervous about. Within seconds of meeting her, I learned Sonya is all those wonderful things, but she is also more… She is warm, and grounded, and kind hearted, and gentle and incredibly nurturing, and supportive of those around her.

The wall of the Seven Pillars at Sonya’s LA Studio.

Her book, Seven Pillars Acting, the one she wrote to encapsulate the comprehensive technique she designed for the modern actor, is BRILLIANT. I remember thinking to myself as I was proofing it that not only was it absolutely going to help actors become better at their craft, but there was a significant amount of material that would be spot on and superbly helpful to writers.

To quote Sonya: “Acting is not an escape; actors put themselves in the line of fire, exposing themselves to tremendously high stakes to tell a story.” Which is exactly what we do as writers, too! When Sonya equates creating a role with building a house, light bulbs instantaneously go off in my head. “You have to build a house before you can live in it, right? It’s much the same for the actor creating a role. In order to bring the character to life, the actor must craft his circumstances, history, and life conditions.” ~Sonya Cooke

Sonya’s book detailing her acting technique, Seven Pillars Acting.

The beautiful thing about this book is that it goes even a step beyond. Not only will an actor or writer benefit from Sonya’s experience, tips and philosophies which she shares in a very organic and natural way–not formulaic or mechanical, but so will non-actors and non-writers as she touches on the heart of communication and the human experience. I’m not sure how she managed it, but she has truly written a book that while intended to help actors, ends up being for every one of us! There are so many more passages of this book I have earmarked to quote (like my favorite section which explores the lifespan of a human emotion…pages 183-187). My hope is that if you are looking for answers or assistance or a fresh perspective on how we as humans operate and affect each other, you will check out Sonya’s book. I honestly feel you will not only benefit from reading it, but you will be touched, inspired and entertained as well, just as I was.

GIVEAWAY: Thank you so much for stopping by the mermaid lagoon today and learning a little more about a wonderful book and its author! In celebration and appreciation, I am giving away a signed copy of Sonya’s Seven Pillars Acting. All you need to do to be entered is leave a comment below. The winner will be randomly selected one week from today on the evening of Friday, March 2nd. Good luck, everyone! (Continental US mailing addresses only please due to shipping fees. Thank you so much for your understanding.)

Have a productive and inspired day!

Fishy kisses,

Mermaid Carlene


Flipped over FLIPPED

A few months ago, Kim-Mermaid and I did a book exchange, where we lent each other ten or so of our favorite YA books to read. Among these ten was a worn, much-loved (by both Kim and her children) copy of a 2001 MG novel called FLIPPED, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Now, I don’t read too much Middle Grade, but I have frequently been charmed by the magic worlds of this genre, so I was more than willing to give it a try.

Oh. My. God.

This book sucked me in on the first page and wouldn’t let me go until long after I finished the last page. Told in the alternating first-person viewpoints of a thirteen-year-old boy and girl, it is more or less a story of a first crush. Julianna falls in love with eight-year-old Bryce’s blue eyes when he moves into the neighborhood, but he finds her, at best, annoying. When eighth grade rolls around, and he finally starts to notice her, she’s no longer sure she’s interested. Sound pretty basic?

Perhaps. But the characters! The voices! So poignant, so distinct, so charming, so REAL. I finished the book, and I thought, “I will never be able to write a book like this in a million years. I might as well give up writing right now.”

Interestingly enough, I had this reaction to exactly one other book this past year, and it was also a light, charming contemporary YA. This is not to say I didn’t read other beautifully-written, well-crafted, superbly-paced books in the last year. I did. But they didn’t intimidate me. In fact, they inspired me to learn more and work harder and continue to improve my craft. So why did I have this reaction to this book?

My theory is because the strengths of this novel are so very different from my own. Whereas I feel like I can continue to improve in the areas of writing and craft and pacing and plot, I feel a bit at a loss when it comes to being “charming.”

pintipThis insight was pretty critical for me. It kept me, after all, from giving up on writing. 🙂 It may be true that I’ll never be able to write a book like FLIPPED, but there’s room for lots of different books and lots of different stories in this world.

What about you? Have you ever had this reaction to a novel? If so, why do you think that is?

Also, if you haven’t read FLIPPED, I highly recommend you pick it up. Or if MG just isn’t your thing, suggest it to any of the preteen/teen girls in your life. I guarantee they will love it


This Will Scare the S#*T Out of You

I rearranged my office the other day and pushed my desk closer to the heater vent so I wouldn’t keel over from what the fab Mr. Flynn has diagnosed as colditis. The bad new is, it didn’t work. I’m still freezing my butt off. The good news is I found a bunch of books I forgot I had. Don’t you love it when that happens?!?

One of my favorite random books is 1,001 Facts That Will Scare the S#*T Out of You by Cary McNeal ( That is the actual title. If it was up to me, I’d have typed out shit and let the other mermaids try to take me down. Oh wait, I just did it. I don’t feel as badass as I thought I would.

Anywho … back to the book. 

1,001 Facts is one of the books that I pick up whenever I need to remind myself that I can’t reach through the phone and strangle annoying people. (Hey, we all have coping mechanisms.) The book has factoids that will make you call out for mommy on a number of topics including animals, human misbehaviors, workplace misery, sports and more. This list from 1,001 is in honor of the cold and flu season that arrived at the Flynn household over the holidays.

WARNING: If you’re a germaphobe go grab a few Clorox wipes. Who am I kidding? Like you’d even touch a computer keyboard without a hazmat suit.

1. Office desks have 400 times more bacteria than toilet seats.

2. The place where you rest your hands on your desk is home to 10 million bacteria at any given time.

3. Demodex mites, or follicle mites, live in human skin. By some estimates, you have a colony of 1,000 to 2,000 living in your skin right now.

4. Bacteria can grow and divide every 20 minutes, turning one bacterial cell into 16 million in just eight hours.

5. A sneeze expels germ-filled droplets up to 30 feet.

6. Finger holes in bowling balls have been found to contain substantial amounts of fecal contamination.

7. Flushing the toilet can propel small drops of aerosolized fecal matter through the air as far as 20 feet.

8. The most germ-laden place on your toilet isn’t the seat of even the bowl; it’s the handle.

9. One pound of peanut butter can contain up to 150 bug fragments and five rodent hairs.

10. Ancient Romans used human urine as an ingredient in their toothpaste.

Bonus: A rat can compress its body to fit through an opening as small as a half-inch in diameter, making it almost impossible to rat-proof a building or home.

Anyone know where I can get one of those hazmat suits?

Time Lords, Spoilers, Christmas Day: A Review of Chicks Unravel Time

It is starting to feel a lot like Christmas—and Who knows December 25 could mark the return of the best season of the Eleventh Doctor yet!

Yes, I’m referring to Doctor Who, the longest running science fiction television show in the world (It has to be, right?). Fifty years on the air (launching in 1963 -1996 on the BBC and then late-night PBS later) and then the series revival in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor and after him David Tennant – yum – and now the joyous Matt Smith – who gave us one of the best love stories EVER! But careful, Spoilers…I can say no more!…

Oh, okay, not where you thought I was going?

Well, this blog talks a lot of romance, and the fans of Doctor Who have had one of the longest most satisfying relationships with the Doctor and his companions (and Dalek love is real, too) in entertainment history. And as we all know, if it’s really a love story – you have to write about it.

Continue reading

Book Review – Forever in One Second by Finn Marlowe

Hello friends! it’s book review day here in the lagoon and I am thrilled to review a wonderful book from an author who became an auto-buy for me with her first book, “A Thread of Deepest Black”. Finn is a wonderful storyteller who has a gift for drawing you into a story and allowing you to walk with the characters.  You feel it all, see it all, live it all.  It is an amazing reading experience.

Her second book, “Forever in One Second” starts off as a sweet, sizzlingly sexy book about two childhood frenemies who meet again and fall for each other – hard. The story has a slight paranormal/mystical element to it but you aren’t going to have any vamps or wolves walking the pages. Nope, this is about real, relatable, flawed, lovable everyday men.

It isn’t until 40% into the book that Finn tips your little chariot of love over and pulls you into a gripping, fun, fast-paced thrill ride.  But, she never lets go of the strong, character-driven storyline even in the midst of danger and intrigue. the sweet, romantic and emotional vibe stays with you – like the melody playing in the background.

In fact, that is when you realized that she got you.  She lured you into loving these two men so much that you can only turn the pages faster in your desire to know that they will be okay and get their happily ever after.

Dane Harper is a fast-talking, good-looking, rascal who never met a stranger. He has a heart as big as his smile.  The book opens with this fun, vibrant man facing down a tornado and losing the battle with a door on top of him and a crushed chest in the middle of mud and debris.

Court Woods is a kind, selfless man who has terrible secrets, a heartbreaking backstory and a gift that allows him to bring Dane back from the precipice of death.  Court tears you up with his disgust at himself and his gift and his genuine belief that he is undeserving of anyone loving him – especially someone like Dane.

Finn draws out the course of their relationship in a lyrical manner, the ebbs and flows are natural and you believe that they are the one the other needs to make him whole. And, as sweet as the romance is . . .  the sex is just as hot. Whew!  They will burn you up.

This was a book that I read in one sitting, put it aside and couldn’t stop thinking about it – so I read it again.

If you are looking for a well-written book with a great plot and a beautiful, hot and sexy love story – here it is.

Favorite quote:

“Stop that for a sec.” Court gasped. “Hold still, damn it.” Before they went any further, he had to know—had to. “What do you want to finish?”

Bending down again, Dane kissed him, deep and dark, his tongue flicking and tasting and giving back his own flavor in return, the raw emotion of it sucking the air right out of his lungs. And he wasn’t smiling anymore when he released him.

“I want to finish falling in love with you.”

Shocked, Court forgot all about the tingle on his lips and the spiraling pleasure radiating out from his groin. His eyes flew open. That was not what he’d expected to hear, not at all. Dane was serious. There was no laughter in his eyes, no tease, only sincerity. Court’s niggling, annoying inner voice decided to chime in when he hadn’t heard from it in a while, only this time, it had something good to say. Don’t be afraid. You deserve to be loved. What’s there to be afraid of? You’re safe. Dane’s reasoning was sound. A man should finish what he started. “Let’s do it together.”

Finn is such a sweetie – she is going to give a copy of “Forever in One Second” to a lucky commenter.

You can find Finn at Goodreads and the book on sale at Amazon and B&N.

Robin Mermaid


Faith and Love: Why We’re Still Here

A visit with first time author and my grandma, Shirley Faith Touchstone.

Hello friends.  I hope this post finds you feeling something good in your bones, little or large, as long as it’s in there somewhere.  Mine are, quite frankly, bursting.  And it’s got everything to do with the fact that one of the stops on my recent 5,200 mile cross-country road trip was to my Grandma Shirley’s home in Van Buren, Arkansas…Where I got to hold her book, Why Am I Still Here?



We spent a few days together talking about how excited and busy she is at 77 years young to have seen this, her first book, to publication.  For anyone struggling with perseverance to stick with your dreams or anyone hurting from loss, Grandma and I hope this helps.

Grandma Shirley’s middle name is Faith and mine is Love.  We were born in November; two days shy of being exactly 40 years apart.  She was named after Shirley Temple and I love to drink them, and yes, we had moms who loved to style our hair with those signature curls.

We are both writers.

We share so many lovely things but as families do, we also have had to deal with tragedy together.  In November 2007, she lost her son—my dad, when he was killed on his motorcycle.  Six months later, we lost Grandpa when he took his own life.  But we were lucky.  Faith and love were there for our family and have seen us through to today—a great day to be here talking with you all about things that leave people wondering why in the world this stuff happens and what do we do afterwards?


Grandma and Grandpa


 What Grandma Shirley wants to share is that knowing you’re not the only one who has had to deal with loss and the worrisome questions and doubts that stem from it helps.  Her book, Why Am I Still Here?, is a collection of tragic yet triumphant stories from people like Helen, a 90-year old lady who suffered a minor stroke and had to leave her home of 60-plus years, who said to Grandma one day after church, “I don’t know why I’m still here.  I’m worthless.”   To which Grandma replied, “Helen, you are not worthless.  You have the most beautiful smile.  If you can’t do anything but smile at someone, you have brightened their day and that’s the purpose for your life right now.”  There are encouraging stories showing us exactly why those of us left behind need to go on.  I was honored to have contributed stories about my dad and grandpa to Grandma’s work.

Sometimes to get an answer to those worrisome questions, you have to take that leap of faith and bravely ask, “What now?”

After Dad and Grandpa died, Grandma wasn’t sure of her purpose so she asked God, “What now?”  When you pose a question like this, be prepared for the answer, whether it translates into the years of hard work it takes to produce a book or simply asks you to smile kindly at another.  Grandma’s has turned out to be this unexpected, amazing journey.

She’d been asked to lead a bible study for Legacy Heights, the unassisted seniors living center where she now lives, and wasn’t sure if she was up for it so soon after Grandpa’s passing.  But deep down, she knew Helen’s words, “Why am I still here”, were her answer.  Grandma agreed to do a one-time study program on that subject, putting together a few booklets to hand out.  That was in May of 2009.  By September of 2009, she had printed and given out over 500 booklets!  It was at that point when she asked her good friend, Anita Dowty, for help.  They knew in their hearts from seeing the response that this was supposed to be a full-fledged book.  Anita and Grandma were in it together all the way and have become like sisters, celebrating the book’s release by Believers Press, a division of Bethany Press, this past week!

Grandma and Anita


I can’t think of a better example of good coming from bad.

Before our visit was over and because she has inspired me to never give up on my dream of becoming published, I asked Grandma if she had anything to share with those of us who might be struggling to stick with writing.   She said, “Never give up on your passion.  I’m 77 and if I can do it at this age, so can you.  If you have a story to tell, stick with it.”  I agree with her, because somewhere out there is the person who is meant to read it someday and be touched by what you have to say.

Grandma and I are so very happy to be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter today.  To find out more about Grandma Shirley and Anita, check out their website Why Am I Still Here?  is currently available in both digital and print versions on, Barnes&Noble and wherever fine books are sold.

Always love,

Carlene Mermaid



Book Review: Break Into Fiction

Two years ago, at the WRW Annual Retreat which was held in Leesburg, VA, I had the great fortune to win a raffle basket donated by Dianna Love.  Inside were all sorts of cool treasures but the greatest of all, as I discovered last month, was a copy of her book with Mary Buckham, “Break Into Fiction”. 


I highly recommend this book if:

You are a beginning writer.

You are an experienced writer.

You are beginning a new story.

You are like me and editing/revising a completed draft.


The book is so very friendly.  It shows you how to easily recognize the key elements of successful commercial fiction in several popular movies (by walking you through templates for each of the movies) so that you can then use those same templates to develop your own story idea.

There are two aspects I like best about Break Into Fiction.  The first is that this book is multi-genre.  The movies associated with the templates range from Suspense to Romantic Comedy and from Classic Romance to a modern Disney favorite.  I appreciated this because I write out of the box and I appreciate an approach that is about successful commercial fiction.  Period.

The other thing I loved about Dianna and Mary’s approach is that its focus is on your characters.  Don’t get me wrong, right smack dab on the cover of Break Into Fiction, it says “Power Plot Your Book”.  I won’t lie, when I saw that, my doubts crept in as to whether this was the book for me.  My strength is the internal emotional journey of the character, and so naturally, plotting books generally intimidate me.  However, that’s where Break Into Fiction is truly a blessing.  What you will learn as you go through the power plotting templates, is that everything blossoms from your characters.  There is no separation between your protagonists and the elements that will drive your plot.  Until I read and used Break Into Fiction, I always saw those as separate entities and therefore my stories felt disjointed between my strong characters and not so hot plot.  This book has helped me fix that!

And, Break Into Fiction isn’t just a book.  It’s an interactive system that includes a wonderful website with information on the authors, seminars, plotting retreats and professional editing services, among other things.

Did I mention that #1 New York Times best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon put her stamp of approval on Break Into Fiction by contributing the foreword?  Seriously, this is a book all writers need.  For more information, check out

Book Review: The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne

In January, this mermaid was fins deep in both reading and writing.  This was due to that fabulous Savvy Author’s workshop, Editpalooza, I haven’t stopped raving about.  Today, three months later, I’m still benefitting from its lessons and its where my book review has sprouted from.


But backstroking to the first week’s assignment, we had just been tasked to open our manuscripts and read from title page to the end–The Full Read.  The rule for this lesson was to make short notes whenever our eyes would start to skip a paragraph, glaze from the page or get confused and then report these issues to our group and editor.  My notes mostly consisted of too much back story in the opening.  I had done this unknowingly trying to show the emotional connection between my two estranged friends who had just been reunited.  My group’s editor,  Kerri-Leigh Grady’s, feedback was spot on.  She ascertained this was happening because I probably wasn’t sure how much of the characters’ pasts needed to be shown.  Not only did she give me great advice on why chunks  of back story aren’t necessary, she also recommended a book that was a superb example of how “back story can be built with the same efficiency of effective world building.”  That book was Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady, published in 2008.


Eager to learn, I checked this book out from the library (and later purchased it digitally) with no idea how I was going to read my own 70,000 word manuscript, continue to keep up with my daily Editpalooza lessons, critique my group members on their work and at the same time read this 375 pages by Joanna Bourne!  Well, it was easy because The Spymaster’s Lady is a brilliant book with NO INNER WANGSTING to bog down the pace.  And that was the lesson Kerri-Leigh wanted us to grasp.


To quote KLG, she said, “Characters absolutely need to ponder and consider their feelings in romance—after all, this is an important element of building a romance—but unless those feelings are changing, they don’t need to be addressed.”  She wanted us to know that we could and should let go of focusing too heavily on internal monologue because that kills the pace and cheapens the depth of emotions.    This was her recommendation: “A really good example of a novel that was emotionally engaging without relying on long swathes of he-loves-me-not internal angsting is Joanna Bourne’s  The Spymaster’s Lady….Read the story to get a feel for dialogue, sexual tension, and body language that build the emotional elements of the relationship.”


What a gem!  The opening sentence both thrilled and terrified me when Annique Villiers, a young French spy contemplates her situation: “She was willing to die, of course, but she had not planned to do it so soon, or in such a prolonged and uncomfortable fashion, or at the hands of her own countrymen.”  I was in awe of Ms. Bourne’s style.


While the story of Annique kept me fascinated and up late nights, I also appreciated her hero and the secondary cast of characters.  In fact, my favorite line of the book is by one of those supporting men.  His name is Adrian and he is the hero’s good friend and fellow English spy.  Annique is wanted by both the French and English at this point and the men are having a rather inventive brainstorming session about how to keep her safe in London.  Adrian comes up with the idea of thwarting Annique’s captors with venomous snakes.  One of their men replies, “You can’t get cobras in England, for God’s sake.”  And then Adrian says, “I know where to get cobras.”   That line might not have you rolling on the floor yet, but read this book and you will know who that young man Adrian is, feel who he is, because with a precise and delicious use of words, Ms. Bourne makes you care about every detail of the story.

How Important Is A Review?

When I was growing up my father used to say, “You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you’re never going to please all of the people all of the time, so stop worrying about it and please yourself.” I have found that little pearl to be wise advice because let’s face it, everyone has an opinion.

Reviews are part of every author’s life whether they like it or not. It doesn’t matter if the review comes from family, friends, a critique partner or the intended audience of readers and reviewers. For most of us, those reviews represent a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, it’s nice to know what you are doing right and that there are people out there who love your work. On the other, who enjoys hearing how much someone disliked something that took months to write?

I always find it interesting how different people deal with the negative feedback. Some authors just laugh off a bad review while others take every word to heart and carry those negative feelings around for years. I have even heard horror stories of authors abandoning their writing altogether after being discouraged by a callous critique.

With that said, I’m going to show you why harboring those negative feelings over one person’s opinion may not be the best course of action. As you’ll see from the following reviews what one person loves, another hates.


Anita Clenney—”Awaken the Highland Warrior”

“After 20%, the amount of leaps in logic and lack of world building have me at a loss…”

* * * * *

“…the world that Clenney has created is fascinating and has great potential for many books. I enjoyed the fact that the author paid attention to every detail, she gave you enough information to keep you puzzled in one chapter but held the answer until further into the book. I just couldn’t put the book down… I can’t wait for the next book!”

* * * * *

“I am glad I only paid 99 cents, but am disgusted at my wasted hours spent hoping it would get better. It never did. It had a great premise. If it was edited to 1/2 the pages and their attraction was more believable, I may have enjoyed it. Instead I am just angry about my invested time.”

* * * * *

“The storyline that ran through-out this book was fantastic. I really liked the whole Warriors vs. Demons. The story had so many twists and turns, it constantly keeps you guessing. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen and who the bad guy’s are… something else happens and completely throws you off the scent. It was beyond genius!”


Alethea Kontis—”Enchanted”

“Basically, the main word I’d use to describe Enchanted is bizarre. Even before I ultimately decided it wasn’t going to get any better and I couldn’t care less about the characters, I thought that this was a very bizarre story… Fairytales are supposed to revolve around circumstances that are unnatural, for lack of a better word. But I’ve never read a story as flippant and (it appears to me), careless as Enchanted…”

* * * * *

“…Sunday’s grand adventure and magical story of love and redemption ensnared me with all it’s glory. Alethea Kontis made me remember why I used to beg my dad to read me fairy tales at bedtime. She reminded me why I still wish upon a star and believe in true love. This enchanted story about a girl named Sunday will make you dream of your own fairytale and yearn for the next installment of this bespelled series!!”

* * * * *

“Rare are the books I find so painful that reviewing them becomes a chore; writing a review means thinking about them when I would rather leave them forgotten. Despite hopes that it would not turn out as such, Enchanted is one of those books.”

* * * * *

“Alethea Kontis’ “Enchanted” is a mixture of all the endearing fantasies we enjoyed as children… I must applaud on the author’s effortless delivery that comes out undeniably appealing. This is the kind of book deserving of your attention and holds it inescapably.”


Nora Roberts–“The Next Always: Book One of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy”

“…I’ve never contemplated not finishing a book of hers until now. I love how she usually finds an area of interest to focus on in books… I’ve learned so much about ballet, fire jumping, flowers, wedding planning and so much more. However, the detail that she goes into with this book is just ridiculous. I’m about a third of the way through and it feels like I’ve spent about 5 minutes with the characters and hours reading about fence pickets, color schemes and copper tubs. I’m so disappointed…”

* * * * *

“I enjoyed the relaxed pace, the cozy and lovely setting and the lovely characters… Boonsboro is a great place to set the book and thanks to all the little details Nora Roberts added to the story I was able to imagine the town and it’s buildings very easily… The love story was very sweet and I loved the way it progressed.”


This shows how subjective reviews really are. They are one person’s opinion and are colored by that person’s life experiences, reading preferences, preconceived ideas and the reader’s frame of mind when they were reading your story. What one reader loves, another may hate. And that’s okay, because everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

If you are a writer then you have to accept that you will have both good and bad reviews. No matter who you are or how great your writing is, even the fabulous Nora Roberts, there will be some people that won’t enjoy your work. But before you decide to stop writing forever because of someone’s callous remark, or before you decide that everyone who does not love your book is an idiot, I will offer some cautionary advice: If you are being told the same thing over and over again by different people, then you may want to consider that there is validity to that criticism. And if someone tells you something that you don’t want to hear, it is always better to respond with an, “I’m sorry that you did not enjoy my book, but thank you for taking the time to read it,” rather than attacking that person’s opinion. You can always tell them they’ve been taken over by demented brain weasels in your mind. 🙂

Just remember, reviews do not define the writer but, taken with a grain of salt, they can help us improve our craft. Please tell me how reviews, both good and bad, have influenced your own writing.

Book Review: “Touch of Frost”

For all the nay saying and complaining about the state of publishing these days, let’s not forget that small presses are bringing good authors to market. When I find a jewel like Jennifer Estep and her “Touch of Frost” series, I have to believe that we are in a new Golden Age of fiction.

Estep’s Gwen Frost has a full plate of problems. She’s fifteen. Her mother is has been murdered. Her grandmother tells fortunes for a living. She’s been jerked out of her comfort zone and sent to a new residential school for super power teens. And her own power is more of a curse: anything and anyone she touches tells her secrets. And some of then are not anything a person would ever want to know. Really.

Especially when you’re living in a school full of teenaged warriors, who all have violent tendencies and training to Save The World From Dark Forces. And that touching/sensing talent? It kind of makes physical contact with the resident hottie off limits. As in, he doesn’t want her to know his dark side either. In the meantime, the resident mean girl has been murdered, various statues keep aiming for Gwen, and there’s a villain on campus who has marked her as next on their list of victims. The hottie has secrets of his own, and Gwen has to decide not to take advantage of her talent to get to the truth. It’s a full disclosure romance with unlicensed drivers at the wheel.

“Touch of Frost” is a nice twist on the survival story meets paranormal powers meets prada. There’s some comic relief: Daphne, the Amazon who eventually becomes a friend, is addicted to the color pink. When Gwen finally is trusted with a weapon, it is a talking sword. With a Cockney accent and a bloodthirsty attitude. Hey, anyone up for sword fights or Valkyries coming back from the dead?