Charles Martin Instills Hope, Beauty in The Mountain Between Us
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Shattered hearts don't mend and they don't heal."
I read a Charles Martin book, Where The River Ends, years ago. I adored his emotional writing and ability to capture genuine, sweet love. As a fan of Nicholas Sparks, I found his writing similar.
I was so excited to pick up The Mountain Between Us, and even more excited when I realized it was a Charles Martin book. I was not disappointed as this is an emotional, gut-wrenching, and gorgeous read.
Ben and Ashley end up in a life-or-death situation when their plane crashes in the middle of a blizzard in a desolate area of Utah. Over the course of many weeks, they must try to pull together to survive. As they do, however, they learn more about each other and the difficulties they face in their own lives.
The book is mostly a survival book, which I found refreshing. However, it isn't all action-packed, life-or-death moments. It's a tender look at connection, the human spirit, and what it takes to survive. I adored both characters and found them plausible and easy to like. Both characters have their imperfections, but together, they are able to work as a unit to deal with the situation in front of them. I was rooting for them the entire book.
The writing kept me wanting to read. There is a lot of suspense, and you keep wondering what will happen. Overall, I wasn't super surprised by the ending, but there are definitely twists. This book does not end in the way you expect.
I found this to be a satisfying read that reminded me of hope, strength, and the power of connection. This is a great winter read or a great read for any fans of sweet, emotional romance.
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Lindsay Detwiler's 9th release is on 99cent preorder!
All of You by Lindsay Detwiler releases January 27th. Treat yourself now while it's #99cents.
There’s no such thing as impossible when it comes to saving the one who holds your heart.
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A sexy doctor who’s restricted by expectations.
A quirky poet who’s defined by her dark past.
All it takes is Alex Evans saving Marley Jade one fateful night for their futures to be realigned. And when a passion sparks between them, they must decide if they can piece each other back together and make love work.
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Throbbing body parts. Obscene gestures. Vivid foreplay and sexy, thrusting bodies.
Do I have your attention yet?
In our “sex sells” society, these seem to be the hallmarks of the romance genre. In fact, when I tell someone I write romance, I’m usually faced with two types of people.
I certainly understand the allure. I’m no stranger to appreciating a sexy body or a nicely written, sexy scene. In my teens, I was an avid romance reader. At the time, the suave scenes, the perfect moments under the twinkling stars, and the sexy exchanges seemed not the things of fantasies, but the things of possibility. They inspired my vision of love.
Fast-forward to my early twenties when I started getting serious about writing. By that time, I was no stranger to the fact that the fantasies in romance novels are usually just that: Fantasies.
By that time, I’d traded the lingerie of my romance novels for flannel pajamas that weren’t inspiring any sort of lust. I’d realized that love wasn’t always candlelight dinners in gorgeous, skintight dresses and stilettos while we made eyes at each other across the perfectly set table. Instead, love became eating fast food on a Tuesday while we complained about work and cleaned up cat vomit from the carpet. Love became falling asleep on the sofa beside him because I was exhausted from getting up so early instead of staying up all night and looking at the stars. The scenes from my romance novels faded away as real life took hold.
But, as I started thinking about writing in the romance genre, I realized something: Love is so much more than some of the fantasy worlds we see in romance novels. Not that there is anything wrong with that! We need escapism. I love a rock-hard body as much as anyone. And, that’s not to say these books are only about unrealistic expectations.
However, I realized something about my beloved romance genre: something was missing. That something was that as a twentysomething whose views of love had changed, I wanted to see myself in romance. Maybe it was selfish on my part. Maybe we could psychoanalyze and say it was simply to justify to myself why my relationship had gone a bit stale, had been overrun by real life.
Maybe that’s all true.
Regardless, I knew when I put my fingers on that keyboard and started writing, I wanted to see real-life romance. I didn’t want female characters who had it all figured out. I didn’t just want rock-hard abs and passionate looks.
I wanted turmoil and confusion. I wanted characters who, like me, didn’t have it all figured out in their twenties or even thirties. I wanted characters who got lost in the world at times, who got lost in love, and who had their doubts. I wanted to see characters who fought about dishes, about in-laws, about the car, and about careers. I wanted characters who pushed each other away and pulled each other back in.
I wanted emotion, depth, and complexity. And I didn’t want all of that to only take place in the bedroom.
It’s not that I’m naïve or a proponent of chaste living. Sex is certainly a part of the equation, and hopefully we all find a way to keep romance alive in our relationships. Hopefully we all get to live the fantasy a little bit now and then.
But I don’t think for most of us that the fantasy and hot sex are the focuses of our relationship. Because, hopefully, most of us have a level of reality facing us. We have a level of depth. We would all live inside that sexy world forever if we could… but many of us can’t. Life is hard, and love is harder.
I wanted novels that reflected that. I wanted novels that didn’t just help us escape, but helped us come to terms with the realities of life and love. I hoped to write novels that showcased how love is not perfect or easy… but it can still be powerful and beautiful.
Love doesn’t have to be perfect to be worthwhile, and it certainly isn’t always neatly packaged.
Messy. Hard. Complex. Emotional. These are the things I wanted to see in my novels because these are the things I’ve experienced.
So for me, I’ve come to believe the romance genre isn’t just about sex, about fantasy, or about guy+girl=love. For me, it’s about showcasing real-life love, the kind that isn’t always perfect but is just as magical in its own way.
Join me on my journey to showcase real romance. Join my tribe and celebrate the fact that perfectly imperfect romances are stories worth telling.
Lindsay Detwiler is the author of 8 sweet romance novels and a high school English teacher. Check out all of her works on Amazon or wherever books are sold.
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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Who can I trust, if I can't even trust myself?"
In a Dark, Dark Wood is the second book I've read by Ruth Ware; I read The Woman in Cabin 10 first. It definitely has her signature, psychological thriller kind of feel and reminded me of The Woman in Cabin 10 in reference to mood and feel. Overall, it was an engaging read about secrets, lies, and friendship.
Leonora is a reclusive writer who finds herself on the invite list for a bachelorette party for an old friend. Against her gut reaction, she decides to accompany another friend, Nina, to the weekend held in a glass house in the middle of a desolate wood. As she tries to reconnect with Claire, her best friend of a different time, things start to get very spooky in the wilderness.
This book is told with an interesting chronology, flipping between present and past. I enjoyed the suspense that was truly built throughout the entire novel. It is more of a psychological read with questions of sanity and trusting one's own mind, which I enjoyed. I also found Leonora's character to be very easy to like and relate to.
I did not find the story predictable, which was a great aspect of this book. It kept me wanting to read up until the very end. My only knock on the book is that I didn't find the motives believable in this book at all times--I won't say anything else because I don't want to spoil it.
Overall, if you like a psychological thriller about secrets and lies, this book is for you. Ruth Ware is a master of weaving an engaging tale without giving too much away or being too preposterous in her plot lines. I recommend this book if you enjoy books like Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10, or any other psychological reads.
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Fall for the Book Romance Panel at George Mason University
Yesterday, I was fortunate to be on the "In the Mood for Love" panel at George Mason University'sFall for the Book with Ada Calhoun and Katy Upperman.
The event featured over 150 authors, including headliner Lev Grossman. I got to see him speak about The Magicians. His sense of humor and his humble nature really resonated with me and inspired me to pursue my dreams. Hearing his story of struggle in the writing field and also how he came up with the idea for the series resonated with me. I definitely recommend you check him out if you are a writer struggling with inspiration.
My panel with Ada Calhoun and Katy Upperman was equally as inspiring. These two women are passionate about what they write, which shows in their works. In addition, they are just genuinely nice people, which made the event so much fun.
I also got to meet Natalina Reis, who happens to be an author at my publishing house, Hot Tree Publishing. To see her willingness to drive just to support me really made me so grateful to be at a publisher with a true family feel.
Being an author can sometimes be lonely, but events like today really give you the motivation to keep going. Networking with other authors, hearing their struggles and triumphs, and just being around people with a similar passion as you really incites you to chase your own version of greatness.
Thank you so much Fall for the Book for having me. And to all of the authors out there...get out there to events. Be social. You never know where motivation and inspiration will take hold.
Happy writing, happy reading, and happy weekend!
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"As Freud once said, 'One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.'"
"When we feel that we're choosing our problems, we feel empowered. When we feel that our problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimized and miserable."
"Whether we like it or not, we are always taking an active role in what's occurring to and within us. We are always interpreting the meaning of every moment and every occurrence."
Let me start by saying I am not a huge reader of "self-help" books. I find them lofty and sometimes difficult to apply in life. This book definitely is the exception.
Manson's not-so-subtle examination of life, the problems with society, and the true meaning of joy are hilarious, honest, frank, and real. There is absolutely no sugarcoating in this book, which is what makes it so amazing. He is a pro at telling it like it is but holding onto a sense of optimism. This book is weirdly optimistic despite the messages in it that can seem pessimistic at times.
Then again, that seems to be the point: By appreciating that life often sucks, we can better appreciate the journey and the beauty.
"We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it's easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choice we make with those cards, the risks we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with."
This book is filled with lovely tidbits to cling to. I found myself marking so many quotes throughout the book that were both insightful and real. So many self-help books simply regurgitate facts and quotes we've all heard. Manson does a great job at being unique in his insights but also relevant. I felt like I could actually the information he presented. More importantly, I actually felt inspired to. Nothing felt so lofty that it was out of my grasp.
My favorite concept in this book is the power of choice. Manson argues that we all have the choice to be unhappy or happy. Even if we are dealing with horrible struggles, which he argues we all do, we have the power to choose how we react to these struggles. The choice is where our power and the optimism resides; few of us take the time to realize that, however.
"At some point, most of us reach a place where we're afraid to fail, where we instinctively avoid failure and stick only to what is placed in front of us or only what we're already good at."
I also really liked the ideas about failure. Manson provides many inspiring stories about failure. These stories are not cheesy attempts to uplift us and make us believe hard work and determination always pays off. Instead, Manson provides stories of failure to show us that we must be willing to suffer in order to head toward our goals. This does not guarantee success. Some of the anecdotes provided certainly prove this.
However, Manson encourages us all, with some strongly-worded language, to figure out what suffering we are willing to endure and what we want to endure it for.
This book is a look at what matters most and finding your true identity through realism, acknowledgement of the difficulties of life, and a whole lot of profanity.
I found this book to be one of the most realistic, empowering, and intelligent books I've read this year. I highly recommend it for anyone and everyone. Don't let the title fool you. This book will make you care more about what matters most and find a drive within to accomplish your true goals.
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Lindsay Detwiler's 8th Novel Is Set in Ocean City, Maryland
Everyone has that place that speaks to their soul, that reminds them of why life is beautiful.
For me, that place has always been Ocean City, Maryland.
There's something about the salty air, the endless sand, and the thwacking of my flip-flops on the splintery boards of the famous boardwalk that speaks to me. Since I was a young child, it's been my yearly respite from the realities of Central Pennsylvania life and from the humdrum yet hectic exhaustion of the day to day monotony.
Ocean City has always been my sanctuary, my escape. It's where I feel most at peace, most alive, and most thankful for another year.
So, when I started down this writing journey, I always knew I'd write a book someday with Ocean City as the backdrop. I knew the excitement of Trimper's rides, the smell of boardwalk fries, and the simple charm of mini golf would be a perfect setting for a couple to fall in love in the most genuine of ways. The call of the salty waves, the feel of the warm sand on one's toes, and the general excitement for summer was the perfect home for my characters to find themselves... and to find each other.
Most of all, Ocean City provides exactly what my main character, Avery Johannas, needed... a fresh start, a freer life, and a place to explore her creativity.
Lines in the Sand is a series about finding one's true passion and not being afraid to take risks, something I've learned in my many vacations to the place that soothes my soul every single year.
Ready for a sexy seaside romance set in Ocean City, Maryland? Grab Inked Hearts and get ready for a love story filled with passion, salt water, and freedom.
“Six years, a complex about my freckles, a love for pastrami, and a fear of failure.
That’s what he gave me before slaughtering my heart and my faith in men.”
Suffering from the sting of betrayal, twenty-eight-year-old Avery Johannas quits her job and moves hundreds of miles away to Ocean City, the beach town of her dreams. With the help of her zany roommate, Jodie, Avery finds a new career, home, and freedom. Throughout her self-exploration, she makes only one rule: She won’t give her heart to a man again. She’s living for herself this time.
But then she meets Jesse.
A tattoo shop owner, the green-eyed Jesse Pearce is wild with a touch of mystery. As Jesse and Avery explore Ocean City and their friendship, they’ll have a hard time drawing a line in the sand between their hearts.
When summer nights get a little more heated than either expected, they’ll have to ask themselves: Can they let go of their notions of love, or will their hearts be permanently inked by past pain?
Scroll down for an excerpt from Inked Hearts, releasing this fall!
I adjust my sunglasses on my head, a few flyaway strands of hair sticking to my hot-pink lip gloss and making me wish I opted for plain lips. But a girl changing her life… well, it felt like a pink lip gloss kind of day this morning.
I drive on, Keith Urban’s songs and Henry’s snoring my only company besides my warped memories and anxiety-ridden thoughts. The sun beats down, a few clouds wispy in the bright sky. It’s a gorgeous day, a day screaming of redemption, of resurrection.
With nothing but time to think for the last two hours of my drive, my mind wanders to another dark place—the place beyond the bedroom escapades of my ex-husband. It travels to the place of doubt, the place so many family members and friends have played on in the past few weeks.
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A Review of Lauren K. Denton's The Hideaway
The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"I was a new woman--risky and adventurous. It felt foreign and perfect at the same time."
The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton is a sweet, summer read about secrets, family, identity, and love. The southern vibe to the novel is palpable not just through the setting, but the languid style of the writing. I adored the characters and the overall atmosphere created in this novel.
The story is told from the perspective of Sara Jenkins after her grandmother passes away. She moves back to Sweet Bay to take over the bed and breakfast her grandmother owned. However, as the summer unfolds, Sara learns secrets about her family, her grandmother, and herself. Through these secrets, she comes to learn what she really wants in life.
The story is also told from Sara's grandmother's perspective using flashbacks. These flashbacks help the reader get a full understanding of the setting, the characters, and the message of the work.
Overall, this book is a super sweet read about friendship and family. I adored the connections in the book and the overall sense of love at The Hideaway. It made me want to pick up and move to Sweet Bay. There wasn't a lot of suspense or mystery in the novel--it was more of an introspective kind of novel, which was perfect for summer.
I wish Sara had more flaws, perhaps, because at times she almost seemed too perfect. I would've liked to have seen a little bit more dimension to her character. Nonetheless, the book was still expertly crafted and a perfect read that reminded me of a Debbie Macomber book.
I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a sweet read about family.
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